The Pictorial Field-Book
of The Revolution
by Benson J. Lossing
Chapter Eight Part Two
Montcalm was on the left of the French, at the head of the regiments of Languedoc, Bearne, and Guienne. Wolfe ordered his men to load with two bullets each, and reserve their fire until the French should be within forty yards. These orders were strictly obeyed, and their double-shotted guns did terrible execution. "The hottest of the fight occurred," says Hawkins, "between the right of the race-stand and the martello towers."(1) After delivering several rounds in rapid succession, which threw the French into confusion, the English charged furiously with their bayonets. While urging on his battalions in this charge, Wolfe was singled out by some Canadians on the left, and was slightly wounded in the wrist. He wrapped a handkerchief around to stanch the blood, and, while still cheering on his men, received a second wound in the groin; a few minutes afterward another struck him in the breast and brought him to the ground, mortally wounded. At that moment, regardless of self, he thought only of the victory for his troops. " Support me," he said to an officer near him; "let not my brave soldiers see me drop. They day is ours-keep it." He was taken to the rear, while his troops continued to charge. The officer on whose shoulder he was leaning exclaimed, " They run, they run!" The light returned to the dim eyes of the dying hero, and he asked, with emotion, "Who runs?" "The enemy, sir; they give way every where." "What," feebly exclaimed Wolfe, "do they run already? Go to Colonel Preston and tell him to march Webb's regiment immediately to the bridge over the St. Charles, and cut off the fugitives' retreat. Now, God be praised, I die happy!" These were his last words, and in the midst of sorrowing companions, just at the moment of victory, he died. Montcalm, who was gallantly fighting in the front rank of the French left, received a mortal wound, and died the next morning about five o'clock, and was buried in an (September 14.) excavation made by the bursting of a shell within the precincts of the Ursuline Convent, where his remains still rest.(3)When Lord Aylmar was Governor of Canada., he
1 The Martello Towers are four strong circular structures
erected at different distances in rear of the city, between the St. Lawrence
and the St. Charles. Cannons are mounted upon their tops. They are very
thick on the side toward the open country, but thin toward the city. The
object of this manner of construction is, that, if taken by an enemy, they
can easily be laid in ruins by the shot of the garrison.
2 James Wolfe was born in Westerham, in Kent, January 2d, 1727. He entered the army very young, and soon distinguished himself by skill, judgment, and bravery. After his return from the expedition against Louisburgh, in 1758, he was appointed to the command of that section of the expedition against Canada that went up the St. Lawrence. His assault on Quebec was one of the boldest military achievements ever attempted, but, just at the moment of victory, he lost his life, at the early age of 32 years. His body was conveyed to England on board the Royal William, and buried at Greenwich on the 20th of November, 1759, where, in the family vault, the hero rests by the side of his father and mother. His father, Edward Wolfe, was a lieutenant general, and died in March of the same year, aged 74. The British government erected a monument to the memory of the young hero, in Westminster Abbey.
3 Lewis Joseph de St. Veran, Marquis de Montcalm, descended from a noble family of Candiac, in France. He was educated for a soldier, and distinguished himself at the battle of Placenza in 1746. He rose by degrees to the rank of field marshal, and in 1756 was appointed Governor of Canada. He ably opposed the English under Abercrombie, but fell while gallantly fighting Wolfe at Quebec, on the 13th of September, 1759. His remains are within the grounds of the Ursuline Convent at Quebec. A few years ago a plain marble slab was placed to his memory, in the chapel of that nunnery, by Lord Aylmal', on which i. the following inscription:
Le destin, en lui derobant
L' a recompense par
Une mort glorieuse.
caused a small granite pillar, about ten feet high, to be erected upon the spot where Wolfe fell upon the Plains of Abraham, now just within the southern suburb of Quebec. It bears the brief inscription, HERE DIED WOLFE, VICTORIOUS. That Vandalism under the specious guise of reverence for the great, of which I have already had occasion to speak, has sadly mutilated this monument, as may be seen in the engraving. The pedestal has lost many a pound of relic, and the iron railing around the monument has been broken down.
Wolfe and Montcalm were both able commanders, and were idolized by their respective troops. The former, though so young, was almost reverenced by his officers, for to bravery and great military skill he united aU the virtues and graces of the perfect gentleman. The expressions of attachment made by General (afterward Marquis) Townshend illustrate the sentiment of his officers and men. In a letter written just after the battle, he says, "I am not ashamed to own to you that my heart does not exult in the midst of this success. I have lost but a friend in General Wolfe. Our country has lost a sure support and a perpetual honor. If the world were sensible at how dear a price we have p11rchased Quebec in his death, it would damp the public joy. Our best consolation is, that Providence seemed not to promise that he should remain long among us. He was himself sensible of the weakness of his constitution, and determined to crowd into a few years actions that would have adorned length of life."
Five days after the battle the city of Quebec capitulated and passed into the (September 18, 1759.) possession of the English, and the remnant of the grand army of the French, under M. Levi, who succeeded Montcalm, retired to Montreal. General Murray was left to defend battered and half-ruined Quebec, and the British fleet, fearful of frost, retreated down the St. Lawrence to the ocean. Levi determined on attempting to regain all that the French had lost, and in the spring of 1760 he marched upon Quebec with a motley army of ten thousand men, composed of French, Canadians, and Indians. Murray, with I6ven thousand men, went out and attacked him, but was sorely defeated, lost all (April 28, 1760.) his guns, and was nearly cut off in his retreat back to the city. Levi followed up his success vigorously, and as soon as the ice left the St. Lawrence he brought up six French frigates and prepared to beleaguer the city by land and by water. He encamped upon the heights above Point Levi, and felt sure of his prey. Fortunately for the English, Lord Colville arrived at this juncture with two good frigates, and destroyed the French vessels under the eyes of Levi. Thoroughly frightened by the suddenness of the event, and (May 16.) learning that these two fast sailers were only the van of a powerful fleet, the French commander retreated precipitately to Montreal, leaving his artillery and stores behind him. Vaudreuil, the governor general of the province, was at Montreal, and Amherst, Murray, and Haviland proceeded to invest that city. Despairing of succor from abroad, Vaudreuil capitulated on the 8th of September, and on that memorable day French power in Canada expired and hostilities in America ceased. Peace ensued between the two (1760.) governments by the conclusion and signing of a treaty at Paris, on the 10th of February, l763. and thus ended the famous "Seven Years' War." From that time the two races have not been arrayed in battle against each other in the Western world, except while the French were here as allies in 1780-81, and assisted in the battle at Yorktown and the rapture of Cornwallis.
1 Since my visit to Quebec (August, 1848) the remains of this monument have been removed, and a column forty feet high, surmounted by a bronze helmet and sword, has been erected. The monument is from the design of Sir James Alexander.
Quebec enjoyed tranquility until the Americans, under Montgomery and Arnold, invaded Canada in the autumn and winter of 1775. We left the former pressing forward toward the city, with the rigors of a Canadian winter gathering around him. Let us return and watch the progress of that little army of patriots, and also consider the wonderful expedition of the brave Arnold through the wilderness of the east.
We mentioned incidentally, in a previous chapter, that when the tidings of the capture of the forts on Lake Champlain reached the Continental Congress, that body promptly took action to defend the liberties of the people, and secure their rights by force of arms, if necessary. The skirmishes at Lexington and Concord, the menaces against Massachusetts, and Boston in particular, fulminated by the home government, and the arrival of several regiments of British troops, for the avowed purpose of crushing the anticipated rebellion, aroused a spirit of resistance in the colonies hitherto unknown, even when the Stamp Act, ten years before, had awakened a terrible storm of indignation throughout the land. From all directions men flew to arms, and in a few weeks a large patriot army invested Boston, and threatened Governor Gage and his mercenary troops with destruction. The incongruous material which composed the army was partially organized by appointing Artemas Ward (1) commander-in-chief until the general Congress should act in the premises. That action was not long delayed, and on the 15th of June Congress adopted a resolution to appoint (July 12, 1775.) a general to command all the Continental forces raised for the defense of American liberty." George Washington was unanimously chosen to fill the important office,(2) , and he repaired.to Cambridge, near Boston, and took command of the army. He set about organizing and disciplining the troops, and making preparations for an active campaign.
About the middle of August, a committee of Congress visited Washington in his camp, and a plan was then devised to send a force to Canada, by way of the Kennebec River, to co-operate with Schuyler, already preparing to invade that province by way of the Northern lakes. Arnold was then at Cambridge, uttering loud complaints of ill usage upon Lake Champlain. His bravery was well known, and the proposed expedition was exactly suited to his adventurous disposition. To silence his complaints and to secure his services, Washington appointed him to the command of that perilous expedition, and at the same time gave him a commission of colonel in the Continental army. Eleven hundred hardy men were detached for the service from the army, consisting of ten companies of musketeers from New England and three companies of riflemen from Virginia and Pennsylvania. Arnold's field officers were Lieutenant-colonel Christopher Greene (the hero of Red Bank, on the Delaware), Lieutenant-colonel Roger Enos, and Majors Meigs and Bigelow. The riflemen were commanded by Captain Daniel Morgan, the renowned partisan leader in subsequent years of the war.
Arnold and his troops marched from Cambridge to Newburyport, where they embarked on board eleven transports for the mouth of the Kennebec. They reached (September 18.) Gardiner in safety, and found two hundred bateaux ready for them at Pittston, on the opposite side of the river. Carpenters had been previously sent to construct
1 Artemas Ward was a native of Massachusetts, and graduated
at Harvard in 1748. He was successively a representative in the Legislature
and member of the Council of his state. He was also a justice of the Court
of Common Pleas for Worcester county. Having considerable military knowledge,
he was chosen to command the army that gathered around Boston in the spring
of 1775. Congress appointed him the first of the four major generals under
Washington, and to him was assigned the division of the army at Roxbury,
when the siege of Boston, in 1776, took place. He resigned his commission
a month after that event, yet, at the request of Washington, he continued
in command till toward the last of May, He was a member of Congress under
the Confederation, and also after the adoption of the present Constitution.
He died at Shrewsbury in 1800, aged 73 years.
2 Four major generals and eight brigadiers were appointed at the same time. To the former rank were chosen Artemas Ward, Charles Lee, Philip Schuyler, and Israel Putnam (the Major Putnam in the French and Indian war); to the latter, Seth Pomeroy (supposed to be the soldier who shot Dieskau), Richard Montgomery, David Wooster, William Heath, Joseph Spencer, John Thomas, John Sullivan, and Nathaniel Greene. Horatio Gates was appointed adjutant general, with the rank of brigadier.
these vessels. The troops then rendezvoused at Fort Western, opposite the present town of Augusta. This was on the verge of an uninhabited and almost unexplored wilderness, (1) and toward its fearful shadows these brave men turned their faces.
A small reconnoitering party was sent in advance to Lake Megantic, or Chaudiere Pond, and another to survey the course and distances of the Dead River, a tributary of the Kennebec. The main body moved forward in four divisions, a day apart in time. Morgan, with the riflemen, was in the van; next were Greene and Bigelow, with their companies of musketeers; Meigs, with four other companies, followed, and the rear was brought up by Enos, with three remaining companies. Arnold was the last to leave Fort Western. He proceeded in a birch canoe, passed the several parties, and overtook Morgan on thc third day at Norridgewock Falls. Here, upon a beautiful plain on the eastern bank of the river, the ancient Norridgewock Indians, a tribe of the ABENAKES, had a village, and in the midst of the grandeur, beauty, and fertility of nature, and the barbarous heathenism of man in this picturesque region, Father Ralle, a French Jesuit, had erected a Christian altar, and taught the sublime truths of the Gospel.(2)
Here the first severe toils of the little army began, for they were obliged to carryall their bateaux, provisions, and stores around the falls, a mile and a quarter, into the navigable waters above. The banks were rocky and precipitous. They found, too, that their boats were leaky, and much of their provisions was spoiled or greatly damaged. Seven days were consumed in passing the falls and repairing the vessels.
The same labor, though not so fatiguing, was demanded at the Carratunc Falls.
1 Colonel Montressor, a British officer, had traversed the
wilderness fifteen years before. He ascended the Chaudiere from Quebec,
crossed the Highlands near the head waters of the Penobscot, passed through
Moose-head Lake, and entered the eastern branch of the Kennebee. Arnold
possessed an imperfect copy of the printed journal of Montressor, and this,
with information received from some St. Francis Indians who visited Washington's
camp, gave him an idea of the country and the privations his men must suffer.
The same region was traversed by a French missionary named Dreuillettes, more than two hundred years before. He crossed the St. Lawrence to the sources of the Kennebee, down which river he descended to its mouth, and thence coasted eastward to the missionary station on the Penobseot.-Hildreth, ii., 84.
2 Father Ralle resided among the Norridgewoeks twenty-six years, and possessed great influence over them. He was considered an enemy to the British settlers in Massachusetts, and an expedition was planned against him and the settlement. A party fell upon them suddenly, and killed and scalped the priest and thirty of the Indians. This event occurred in 1724, and when Colonel Arnold was there, in 1775, the
Desertions and sickness reduced their number to about nine hundred and fifty effective men when they arrived at the great carrying-place, twelve miles below the junction of Dead River with the Kennebec. So rapid was the stream, that the men waded more than half way, pushing the bateaux against the current; yet they were in good spirits, and seemed to partake of the enthusiasm of their leader.
Arnold now examined his muster-roll and commissariat. The troops, though somewhat reduced in number, were strong and enthusiastic, and he ascertained that he had twenty-five days' provisions in store. The Chaudiere, on which were French settlements, he estimated to be at a distance of ten days' travel. The weather was fine, and the prospect so encouraging that they pushed forward with alacrity. The great carrying-place was a portage of fifteen miles, broken by three ponds. Oxen dragged the bateaux part of the way on sleds, and the baggage and stores were carried on the shoulders of the men. Over craggy knolls and tangled ravines, through deep morasses, creeks, and ponds, they pursued their journey, sometimes carrying their vessels and the vessels sometimes bearing them, until they reached the Dead River. The ponds afforded an abundance of delicious salmon-trout, and want of food had not yet been among their privations. The surface of the Dead River was smooth, and the waters flowed on in a gentle current in the midst of the magnificent forest, now rendered gorgeous by the brilliant hues imparted to the foliage by early frost. Occasional falls interrupted their progress, but the labors of the men were far less severe than hitherto. Suddenly thc monotony of the vast forest was 'broken by the appearance of a lofty mountain covered with snow, at the foot of which Arnold encamped three days, raising the Continental flag over his tent.(1) A small hamlet called Flag-staff, in commemoration of the event, is upon the camp-ground, and the lofty eminence bears the name of Mount Bigelow.(2)
When the expedition moved forward, a heavy rain set in, which sent down
from the hills that the river arose eight feet in one night, overflowing its banks (October 22-23.) and filling its channels with rafts of drift wood. So suddenly did this freshet occur, that the water came roaring down the valley where the soldiers were encamped, so unexpectedly and powerfully that they had barely time to retreat to their bateaux before the whole plain was overflowed. Seven boats were overturned and the provisions lost, and others were in imminent peril in the midst of the flood. They were yet thirty miles from the head of the Chaudiere, and but about twelve days' provisions remained. The storm and exposure made many sick, and despondency supplanted cheerfulness, for the future seemed pregnant with misery. A council of war was held, and it was decided to send the sick and feeble back, and to press forward with the healthy. Arnold wrote to Greene and Enos, who were in the rear, to select as many of their best men as they could supply with fifteen days' provisions, and come on with them, leaving the others to return to Norridgewock. Enos, either through a false construction of the order or willful disobedience, returned to Cambridge with his whole division. His appearance excited the greatest indignation in the Continental camp, and Enos was looked upon as a traitor for thus deserting his companions and endangering the whole expedition. He was tried by a court-martial, and it being proved that he was short of provisions, and that none could be procured in the wilderness, he was acquitted. He never was restored in public estimation, however, and soon afterward left the army.
In the mean while Arnold, with the rest of the troops, pressed onward. The rain changed to snow, and ice formed upon the water in which the men waded to push the bateaux as
foundations of the church and altar were still visible,
but the red men had forever departed. Father Ralle left a manuscript dictionary
of the Abenake language (the dialect of the Norridgewocks), which is preserved
in the library of Harvard University.
1 What the device on this flag, or what its color was, we have no means of ascertaining. The stripes and stars were not used until 1777. On the 14th of June that year, Congress" resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation." Since then we have added a star for every new state.
2 Tradition asserts that, while the Americans encamped there, Major Bigelow ascended to the summit of the mountain, with the expectation of seeing the spires of Quebec! From this supposed adventure the mountain derives its name.
they passed the numerous ponds and marshes near the sources of the Dead River. Seventeen falls were passed, and on a bleak day, marching through snow. two inches deep, they reached the Highlands which separated the waters of New England from Canada. A portage of four miles brought them to a small stream, down which they pushed their vessels and reached Lake Megantic, the great source of the Chaudiere. There they found Lieutenants Steele and Church, who had been sent forward from the great carrying-place to explore and clear the portages. Here also was Jakins, who had been sent to the French settlers on the Chaudiere to ascertain their political sentiments, which he reported to be favorable.(1)
The little army encamped on the eastern shore of the lake, and the next morning Arnold, with a party of fifty-five men on shore, under Captain Hanchet, and (October 29) thirteen men with himself, in five bateaux and a birch canoe, pushed onward down the Chaudiere to the French settlements, there to obtain provisions and send them back to meet the main forces. It was a fearful voyage. As soon as they left the lake and (October 27, 1775)entered the river, the current ran with great rapidity, boiling and foaming over a rocky bottom. They had no guide. They lashed their baggage and provisions to the bateaux and committed themselves to the mercy of the stream. At length the fearful roar of rushing waters met their ears, and in a few minutes they were plunging amid rapids. Three of the boats were dashed in pieces upon the rocks and their contents ingulfed, but, fortunately, no lives were lost. Six men struggled long in the waters, but were saved. The other bateaux were moored in shallow estuaries, while aid was rendered to those in the stream, and this proved the salvation of the whole party. The apparent calamity was a mercy in disguise, for had they not been thus checked, they must all have plunged into destruction over a fall just beyond, which was discovered by one of the rescued men. For seventy miles falls and rapids succeeded each other, but the voyagers reached Sertigan (four miles below the mouth of Des Loupis), the first French settlement, in safety. (October 30). The people were friendly, and sold provisions freely. As soon as the wants of his own party were supplied, Arnold sent back some Canadians and Indians with flour and cattle for the approaching troops, who were in great distress, all their boats having been destroyed, with their provisions. They had slaughtered their last ox several days before. In a few days the whole army emerged in detachments from the forests, and united at Sertigan. (2)
1 Two Indians were sent forward with Jakins to carry letters,
one to General Schuyler on Lake Champlain, the other to some persons in
Quebec. They betrayed their trusts, for the latter, named Eneas, was known
to have reached Quebec, but the letters went into the hands of Lieutenant-governor
Carmahe instead of those for whom they were intended. The letters to General
Schuyler never reached him.
2 Judge Henry, who at the close of the last century was president of the second judicial district in Pennsylvania, was one of the soldiers in this expedition, and has left behind him a lucid and exceedingly interesting narrative of the "hardships and sufferings of that band of heroes." In reference to the destitute condition of the troops before food was sent back from Sertigan, he says, "Coming to a low, sandy beach of the Chaudiere, for we sometimes had such, some of our companies were observed to dart from the file, and with their nails tear out of the sands roots which they esteemed eatable, and ate them raw, even without washing. The knowing one sprang; half a dozen followed; he who obtained it ate the root instantly. . . . . . They washed their moose-skin moccasins in the river, scraping away the dirt and sand with great care. These were brought to the kettle and boiled a considerable time, under the vague but consolatory hope that a mucilage would take place. The poor fellows chewed the leather, but it was leather still. They had not received food for the last forty-eight hours. Disconsolate and weary we passed the night." A dog was killed and furnished material for broth, but starvation would have destroyed them all in a few days.
* * "My dog was very large and a great favorite. I gave him up to several men of Captain Goodrich's company. They carried him to their company, and killed and divided him among those who were suffering most severely from hunger. They ate every part of him, not excepting his entrails."-Letter of General Dearborn to the Rev. William Allen.
The beautiful valley of the Chaudiere was now before them, enlivened with a friendly population and blessed with abundance of provisions. Arnold had been furnished with printed copies, in French, of a manifesto by Washington, to be distributed among the people. It explained the causes of the contest, and asked them, as neighbors and friends, to join the standard of liberty. Arnold, with great discretion, circulated these freely, at the same time acquiescing in the wishes of Washington by treating the inhabitants with the greatest respect. Every thing received from them was paid for, and they rendered aid ill return with a hearty good will. (1)
About forty Indians of the Norridgewocks, under the famous Natanis and his brother Sabatis, here joined the Americans, and on the 9th of November the whole army that remained arrived at Point Levi, opposite Quebec, after one of the most wonderful marches on record, during the space of two months. Thirty-two days they traversed the gloomy wilderness without meeting a human being. Frost and snow were upon the ground, and ice was upon the surface of the marshes and streams, which they were obliged to traverse and ford, sometimes armpit deep in water and mud; yet they murmured not, and even women followed in the train of the suffering patriots.(2) It was an effort in the cause of freedom worthy of its divine character; and the men who thus periled life and endured pain, whatever may have been their course in after life, deserve the highest praise from the hearts and lips of posterity.(3)
1 I met a gentleman at Quebec (August, 1848) who had just
made a journey across the country from the Kennebec to tbe St. Lawrence
by the way of tbe Chaudiere. He said that many of the old habitants were
still living in that beautiful valley, and spoke very highly of the"good
Bostonians," whose passage through their country was one of the greatest
events in the quiet lives of those isolated and simple people. He showed
me an order for flour and cattle, signed by Arnold at Sertigan, which he
procured from an old man 93 years of age. Many documents of the kind are,
he said, preserved in the families of the old settlers.
2 Judge Henry speaks of two women, the wives of soldiers attached to the division of the army to which he belonged. Their names deserve preservation for the admiration of posterity. "One was the wife of Sergeant Grier, a large, virtuous, and respectable woman." The other was the wife of a private soldier named Warner. Judge H. says, in reference to their march through the wet country near Megantic Lake, " Entering the ponds, and breaking the ice here and there with the butts of our guns and feet, we were soon waist deep in mud and water. As is generally the case with youths, it came to my mind that a better path might be found than that of the more elderly guide. Attempting this, the water in a trice cooling my armpits, made me gladly return in the file. Now Mrs. Grier had got before me. My mind was humbled, yet astonished, at the exertions of this good woman. Her clothes more than waist high, she waded on before me to firm ground. Not one, so long as she was known to us, dared to intimate a disrespectful idea of her."
3 Those most prominent afterward in the history of our country, who accompanied Arnold on that expedition, were Morgan, Greene, Dearborn, Febiger, Meigs, and Burr. "Here it was" (near Sertigan), says Judge Henry, "that, for the first time. Aaron Burr. a most amiable youth of twenty, "came to my view. He was then a cadet."
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