Page images

decided part with the colonies, in their contest chap. v. with Great Britain. His military reputation 1775. was high throughout America. In the history of his achievements while commanding in Canada, we find much reason for attributing to him, the qualities of an active partisan; and, so far as a judgment can be formed of a capa. city for conducting the movements of a large army from the judicious management of a small one, we cannot hesitate to allow him the talents of an able general. At the head of a small body of undisciplined troops, drawn from different colonies, unwilling to be commanded by a stranger, and jealous of him in the extreme; often disposed to disobedience, and anxious for their homes, whom he appears at length to have inspired with a large portion of the ardour and enthusiasm of his own mind, he conquered difficulties which not many would have ventured to meet, and until his last fatal moment, was uniformly successful. With a few men just raised, and just about to disperse, badly furnished with arms, ammunition, and clothes, in little more than two months, he made himself master of Canada from the lakes to Quebec; and, as if determined to triumph over the climate itself, laid siege in the depth of winter to that important fortress. His mea. sures seem to have been taken with judgment, and were certainly executed with great courage and unremitting exertion. When he appears

CHAP. X. to have risked much, and to have exposed his 1775. troops to hardships almost too great to be borne,

this line of conduct was not capriciously or inconsiderately chosen. The state of his affairs absolutely required it, and without it a failure appeared to be inevitable. It was indispensably necessary to undertake the siege of Quebec during the winter, or to abandon altogether the great object of the expedition. With the opening of the river in the spring, it was not doubted that large re-enforcements would ar. rive from England, and the place be effectually secured against any force America could em. ploy for its reduction. The state of his army which might soon disband itself, added to the excessive severity of the weather, made it extremely unsafe to trust to the tedious operations of a regular siege. Indeed, the weight of his artillery did not admit of making a breach in the walls, and there was no hope of compelling a surrender by famine. Nor was the attempt to carry the place by assault so very rash a measure, as its great strength, and the event, might at first view induce us to suppose. The design was worthy the lofty spirit which formed it; though hazardous, it was not des. perate, and though great courage was required to crown it with success, great courage was employed in its execution. He counted, and with reason, on the fears of the garrison, on the immense extent of ground they were under the

necessity of guarding; and had he not fallen CHAP. V. himself, or been deserted by his troops, it is 1775. even yet believed, he would have succeeded. The progress made by Arnold's division gives great countenance to this opinion; and some very intelligent officers belonging to that divi. sion, who, while prisoners in Quebec, endeayoured to inform themselves of the course of the action, aver that when the general fell, the barrier had been deserted; and that the piece which did such fatal execution was fired by a single remaining artillery, man, who imme. diately followed his comrades, and fled from the battery. * That no other gun was discharged, corroborates this intelligence.

To express the high sense entertained by his country of his services, congress directed a monument to be erected, with an inscription sacred to his memory, and expressive of “the veneration of the United Colonies for their late general, Richard Montgomery, and the deep sense they entertain of the many signal and important services of that gallant officer, who, after a series of successes, amidst the most discouraging difficulties, fell at length in a gallant attack upon Quebec, the capital of Canada; and to transmit to future ages, as examples truly


* This information was received from colonel Heth, then a lieutenant in Morgan's company, every individual of which made distinguished exertions in this fatal attempt.

CHAP V. worthy of imitation, his patriotism, conduct, 1775. boldness of enterprise, insuperable perseve.

rance, and contempt of danger and death.”

The American army was no longer in a condition to continue the siege. At first they were extremely alarmed, and about one hun. dred set out for Montreal. With difficulty, Arnold retained the others; but they broke up their camp and retired about three miles from the city;, where, though inferior in numbers to the garrison, they kept it in a state of blockade, and in the course of the winter reduced it to great distress for want of provi. sions. By preserving this bold countenance, they retained the confidence of the Canadians, which saved their affairs, for a time, from total ruin.

Governor Carleton who acquired, and deserved, great reputation by the fortitude discovered in defending Quebec, and who only wished to preserve the place until the re-enforcements he counted on receiving in the spring, should enable him to act offensively, very prudently determined not to hazard an attack with a garrison on which it was unsafe to rely; and Arnold, on whom the command now devolved, remained undisturbed, except by occasional sorties made by small parties, which always retreated precipitately under their guns, as soon as he advanced. Although badly wounded, he retained his courage and activity, and though deserted by those whose times of service had CHAP. V. expired, so as to be reduced at one time to 1775. about five hundred effective men, and no longer supported by the Canadians, he discovered no disposition to sink under the weight of adverse fortune. · Congress had been sanguine in the hope of annexing Canada to the union, and authorized General Schuyler, on his taking the command November 8. in the northern department, to raise a regiment in that province. On the first intelligence of the difficulties experienced by Montgomery in re-inlisting his men, three of their members were deputed a committee to the northern army, with power to concert with general Schuyler the means of re-enforcing it, and of offering two months pay as a bounty to those who would re-inlist, to be received on obtaining possession of St. Johns and Montreal. Unfortunately, the remedy was not applied in time, and the evil grew to such magnitude, that even Ticonderoga and fort George were aban. 1776. doned by the troops which had garrisoned them, whose terms of service had expired, before others could be recruited to take their places.

It was determined to keep up in Canada nine battalions for the ensuing campaign, including one to be raised in that province, and general Schuyler was directed to have constructed at Ticonderoga, a number of batteaux for the VOL. II.




« PreviousContinue »