« PreviousContinue »
irritated. There is reason to believe that even Chap, v. general Arnold was disposed to think himself 1776. in the country of an enemy, and did not exert, in repressing those disorders, the same energy which he always displayed so conspicuously in the field.
The utmost exertions of congress could not furnish a sufficient quantity of specie for this distant and expensive expedition; and, as the consumption of provisions by the troops exceeded the supplies furnished by general Schuyler, whose attention to the complicated duties of his station was as incessant, as it was judiciously directed; it was thought necessary by general Arnold, in order to pay for provisions, as well as for other services rendered by the country people, to issue a proclamation making March 4. paper money a currency, promising to redeem it in four months, and declaring those to* be enemies who should refuse it. It will readily be imagined that the Canadians were unwilling to exchange their property, or labour, for this article, and that few would receive it, but with reluctance. This circumstance affected in no inconsiderable degree their attachment. They were disappointed too in the force brought by the Americans into their country; which was by no means such as they had expected. In addition to these causes of dissatisfaction, the priests, who possessed great influence over the mass of the people, and who were never as a
Chap, v. body, cordial in the American interest, had 1776. been, since the death of Montgomery, very injudiciously neglected; and had become almost universally hostile to the views of the United Colonies.
General Carleton, who was no stranger to the revolution which was taking place in the minds of the Canadians, entertained the hope of raising the siege by their assistance. A detachment of about sixty men from the garrison,of Quebec, landed twelve leagues below the town on the south side of the river, and were joined by about two hundred and fifty Canadians, who, under the command of a mr. Beaujieu, siezed a provision convoy designed for the American camp. They were rapidly increasing in numbers, when they were suddenly and unexpectedly attacked by a detachment sent by Arnold, of about eighty men, under major Dubois, who surprised their advance guard, killed seven, wounded a few, and took thirtyeight prisoners; on which the main body dispersed.
The season of the year now approached when re-enforcements from England would be certain; and notwithstanding the feeble state in which their army still continued, the Americans deemed it indispensably necessary to recommence their active operations, and to renew the siege. They now again erected their batteries, and on the first of April, just as they were about to open them, general Wooster arrived Chap. v. from Montreal, and took the command. The 1776. next day the batteries were opened, but with- aPrii 2, out much effect. They had not weight of metal to make a b/each in the wall, nor an engineer capable of directing a siege, nor artillerists who understood the management of the pieces. The few troops of this description originally belonging to the army were prisoners in Quebec.
The day after the arrival of Wooster, Arnold's horse fell with him, and so bruised the leg which had been wounded, as to confine him for some time to his bed. Believing himself to be neglected, he obtained leave of absence as soon as he was able to move, and took the command at Montreal.
Some fire ships had been prepared both at Orleans, and point aux Trembles, to be used against the vessels in the harbour so soon as the ice would permit the operation. The difficulties usually attending such an enterprise were greatly augmented, by the want of sailors, and of a skillful commander to conduct them. The attempt, however, was made with great boldness, and the ship from Orleans very nearly succeeded. Coming from below she was at first mistaken for a friend, and proceeded in the night, very near the cul de sac where the vessels lay, before her character was discovered. The fire from the enemy instantly opened, on
VoL. II. Z2
Ciiap.v. receiving which, the train was immediately 1776. lighted; but the sails caught the flames so quickly, as to lose the benefit of the wind, and stop the progress of the vessel, just at which time the ebb tide commencing, carried her down the river. The American army which had been drawn up, prepared if this plan had succeeded to take advantage of the confusion it would occasion, had the mortification to witness its failure after the most sanguine and encouraging appearances.
A considerable part of the army having become entitled to a discharge, no inducement could prevail on them to continue longer in so April u. severe a service. This deduction from Wooster's force was the more sensibly felt, because the present situation of the roads, the lakes, and the St. Lawrence, unavoidably impeded, for a time, the arrival of the re-enforcements destined for his aid. The roads were so deep as to be nearly impassable, the ice had become too soft for the use of sleds, and had not broke up so as to admit the passage of boats.
Among the first who reached camp, after this state of things took place, was general Thomas, who, after being appointed to the command in Canada, had made great exertions Thomt, to join the army. He arrived on the first of mandrf". May, and on examining its force, found it to consist of a total of nineteen hundred, of whom less than one thousand, including officers, were fit for duty. Among the effectives, were three Chap. v. hundred entitled to a discharge, who refused 1776. to do duty, and insisted importunately on being immediately dismissed. The sick were generally ill of the small pox, in the hospital. This small force was still more enfeebled by being unavoidably divided, so as to occupy different posts which it had been deemed necessary to maintain, at great distances from each other, and on different sides of the St. Lawrence. In consequence of this division, it was impracticable to bring together more than three hundred men at any one point, which might be attacked by the whole force of the enemy. In all the magazines there were but one hundred and fifty barrels of powder, and six days provisions; nor could adequate supplies from the country people be relied on, as the Canadians no longer manifested any disposition to serve them.
The river too was beginning to open below, and no doubt could be entertained, that the first moment of its being practicable, would be seized by the enemy, for the relief of this very important place. Amidst these unpromising circumstances, the hope of taking Quebec, appeared to general Thomas to be entirely chimerical, and a longer continuance before the town both useless and dangerous. It was apparent that the first re-enforcements which should arrive would deprive him entirely of the use of the river, and consequently would very