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CHAP. V. the gate closed upon the assailants, who received 1775. at the same instant a tremendous fire from the
windows overlooking the barrier, and from the port holes through it. Ladders were now placed against the barricade, and a fierce, which on the part of the assailants was also a bloody contest, was maintained for some time. A few of the bolder among the front files ascended the * ladders, under this deadly fire, and saw on the other side of the barricade, double ranks of soldiers, who with their muskets planted on the ground, presented hedges of bayonets to receive them, if they should attempt to leap to the earth. Exposed thus, in a narrow street, to a most galling fire, many of the assailants threw themselves into the stone houses on each side, which afforded them a shelter both from the storm, and from the enemy; and through the windows of which they kept up an irregu. lar, and not very effective fire. One circumstance which greatly contributed to the irresolution now displaying itself, was, that scarcely more than one in ten of their fire arms could be used. Notwithstanding the precaution of tying handkerchiefs around the locks, the vio. lence of the storm had totally unfitted them for service. Morgan soon found himself at the barrier with only a few officers, and a very small CHAP. V. number of soldiers. Yet he could not prevail 1776. on himself to relinquish the enterprise. With a voice louder than the tempest, he called on those who were sheltered in the houses, to come forth and scale the barrier; but he called in vain; neither exhortations nor reproaches could draw them in sufficient numbers to the point of attack. Being at length compelled to relinquish all hope of success, he ordered the few brave men who still adhered to him, to save themselves in the houses, while he, accompanied only by lieutenant Heth, returned towards the first barrier, in order to concert, with the field officers, some plan for drawing off the troops. He soon met majors Bigelow and Meiggs, to whom he proposed an immediate retreat by the same route, along which they had marched to the attack. This proposition was assented to, and lieutenant Heth was now dispatched to draw the troops from their present situation.
* Lieutenant Heth, and the same Charles Porterfield who had been before his captain in passing the first bar. rier, were of this number.
The barrier at which the Americans had been repulsed, crossed a street which continued in a straight direction for a very few paces, after which its course was changed. Whilst in view of the barrier, the danger was very great, but on turning the corner, it entirely ceased. Every person showing himself in the street fronting the barrier, was immediately fired at from the windows; and to draw the VOL. II.
CHAP. V. troops through this hazardous pass, was the 1775. duty now assigned to lieutenant Heth. He
undertook it with alacrity, and communicated his orders, with directions that the retreat should be made to the first barrier in small parties, and by single files; but was unable to prevail on the men generally to follow him. Their spirits had been so entirely broken by the slaughter at the second barrier, by the pelting of the storm, and by the freezing cold, that only a few could be stimulated again to expose themselves in the street, and he was under the necessity of returning without accomplishing his object. By this time a party of the garrison, consisting of about two hun. dred men, with some field pieces, had made a sortie from the palace gate; and captain Dear. borne who was stationed with his company near that post as a rear guard, having surrendered to them, they were in perfect possession of that part of the town, and had completely encompassed the residue of the division. In this desperate state of affairs, a council of the officers then present was held, when the bold proposition was made * to assemble immediately as many officers and men as could be instantly collected, and to cut their way back out of town. The adoption of this daring resolution was only prevented by the suggestion that the
* This proposition too was made by Morgan.
attack led by Montgomery, of whose fate they chap. v. were entirely ignorant, might possibly yet be 1775. successful; and that, in the event of his having entered the opposite part of the town, their co-operation might be of infinite value to him. On this account they determined to maintain, still longer, their present situation; but the force of the enemy increasing very considerably, they soon perceived that they were no longer masters of their own destinies, and were compelled about ten o'clock to surrender themselves prisoners of war.
In this bold and unsuccessful attack on Quebec, the loss on the part of the enemy was extremely inconsiderable. It is stated by general Carleton in his letter to general Howe, at only one lieutenant and seventeen privates killed and wounded. On the part of the Ame. ricans, the loss was about four hundred men; three hundred and forty of whom were prisoners. It fell chiefly on Arnold's division, the whole of which, except a few officers who attended him to the hospital, fell into the hands of the enemy. As the sharpest part of the action was at the second barrier, the loss in killed and wounded, was chiefly sustained at that place. It was less considerable than it otherwise must have been, in consequence of the cover afforded to a large portion of the troops by the houses they had entered, which not only sheltered themselves, but by keeping
CHAP. V. up an irregular fire on the windows of those 1775. houses in which a part of the garrison was
placed, lessened the danger of those who remained in the open street. Captain Hendricks of the Pennsylvania riflemen, lieutenant Humphries of Morgan's company, and lieutenant Cooper of Connecticut, were among the slain. Captains Lamb* and Hubbard, and lieutenants Steele and Tisdale were among the wounded. Not an officer was at the second barrier, who did not receive several balls through his clothes, and some of them were severely scorched by the powder from the muzzles of the muskets discharged at them. When the dangers to which they were exposed are considered, it is matter of wonder that any of them should have escaped.
But the loss sustained by the American army which was most fatal to their hopes, and most deplored, was their general.
Richard Montgomery, whose short but splendid course was now terminated, was a native of Ireland, and had served with reputation in the late war. After its conclusion, he settled in New York, where he married an American lady, and took a very strong and
* Captain Lamb finding it absolutely impossible to move on his field piece, had abandoned it, and brought on his company to the second barrier, near which he received his wound.