The Pictorial Field-Book
of The Revolution
by Benson J. Lossing
Chapter Nine, part two
three degrees in the shade. The points of view were sparsely shadowed by trees, and we tarried only long enough to glance at the beauties of the fall and steal its features with a pencil, and then returned to Quebec, where, before dinner, we visited several churches, the chapel of the Ursuline Convent(1) the Seminary of Quebec,(2) the chapel of the Hotel Dieu,(3) and the citadel.
The citadel crowning Cape Diamond is a combination of powerful works. It is three hundred and fifty feet above the river, and is terminated on the east by a round tower, over which floats the national standard of England, the flag
"That's braved, a thousand years,
The battle and the breeze."
The approach to the citadel is by a winding road through the acclivity of the glacis from St. Louis Gate. It is foreign to my plan to notice in detail modern fortifications upon Revolutionary ground, and we will stop to consider only a few points of interest in this most perfect. military work. The main entrance is through Dalhousie Gate, where we presented our perMit, and were joined by a young Highland soldier to guide and guard us. On the top of Dalhousie Bastion is a covered way with a broad gravel walk, from which is obtained the finest view of the city, harbor, and surrounding country. The St. Charles is seen winding through a beautiful undulating plain, and the spires of Beauport, Charlesbourg, and Lorette with the white cottages around them, form a pleasing feature in the landscape. The citadel and its ravelins cover about forty acres; and the fortifications, consisting of bastions, curtains of solid masonry, and ramparts twenty-five to thirty feet in height, mounted with cannon, are continued entirely around the upper town. Upon the cliff called Sault au Matelot is the grand battery, of eighteen thirty-two pounders, commanding the basin and harbor below. At the different gates of the city sentinels arc posted day and night, and in front of the jail and other public buildings the solemn march of military guards is seen The garrison at Quebec numbered about three thousand soldiers. Among them was the 79th regiment of Scotch Highlanders, lately from Gibraltar. They were six hundred strong, and, dressed in their picturesque costume, made a fine appearance. To a stranger the military forms a principal feature of Quebec, and the mind is constantly carried back to the era of Froissart, when "Everie fayre towne had strong high walls, and bowmen and spearmen were more numerous than all others."
We left the citadel, emerged from St. LouIs Gate, and, after visiting the monument where "Wolfe died victorious," rode over the battle-ground upon the Plains of Abraham, and, crossing to the St. Foix Road, went into the country as far as Holland House (the headquarters of Montgomery), and then returned, pleased and wearied, to the Albion. We strolled at evening through the governor's garden, rested upon Durham Terrace (see view on page 185), which was crowded with promenaders, and, losing our way in trying to ferret out the Albion, found ourselves at Hope Gate, where a kind priest, in long black cassock and broad beaver, conducted us back to Palace Street.
I devoted the following day to business. Before breakfast I went to Durham Terrace,
1 The Ursuline Convent is situated on Parloir Street, near
the English Cathedral. Influenced by an appeal from the French Jesuits of
Canada, a young widow of Alencon, named Madame de la Peltrie, resolved to
devote her life and fortune to the work of establishing a convent in Quebec.
She founded the Ursuline Convent in 1641. An excellent school for the education
of females is attached to it. In the chapel, as already noticed, is an inscribed
marble slab, in memory of Montcalm, whose body lies within the grounds of
2 This literary institution was founded in 1633, by De Laval de Montmorency, the first bishop of Canada. The professors, and all attached to it, receive no money compensation; they are simply guarantied "food and raiment, in sickness and in health." The chapel contains several fine paintings. The library has nearly 10,000 volumes.
3 The Hotel Dieu, a nunnery, stands between Palace and Hope Gates. It was founded in 1636, by the Duchess d' Aquillon, a niece of the famous Cardinal Richelieu. The cardinal was a libera benefactor of the establishment during his life. The chapel is plain, and has but a few paintings.
and sketched Point Levi and the adjacent scenery beyond the St. Lawrence; and after receiving explicit directions respecting the various historical localities about ,the city from an old and intelligent resident, I procured a caleche and started in search of them, the result of which is given in the several sketches and the descriptions on preceding pages. As the day advanced, the heat became almost intolerable, until we reached the cool retreats of Wolfe's Cove, where, in the shade of a maple that overhangs a bubbling spring, I loitered an hour, dreading my intended ramble over the Plains of Abraham above. We slowly ascended the steep and winding road up Wolfe's Ravine (in pity for the poor horse, walking half the way), and at the top I dismissed the vehicle and went over the plains on foot. Hardly a shrub breaks the smooth surface. The ground slopes from the city, and only a few chimney-tops and a roof or two indicated the presence of a populous town.
While sketching the broken monument on the spot where Wolfe fell, a young Englishman, full of zeal for the perpetuity of British colonial rule, was a spectator, and was very inquisitive respecting my intentions. With a pointer's keen perception, he determined my whereabout when at home, and of course looked upon me as a meddling foreigner. He saw me using the pencil on Durham Terrace in the morning, and also happened to pass while I was delineating Palace Gate. The idea of "horrible rebellion" and "Yankee sympathy" seemed to haunt his mind, and I fed his suspicions so bountifully with sinless fibs, that before I finished my sketch he started off for the city, fully impressed with the notion that he had discovered an emissary from the War Department at Washington, collecting military data preparatory to an invasion of her majesty's dominions! I soon followed him, glad to escape from the burning heat upon the plains, and took shelter under the lofty trees in the governor's garden, near the citadel, a delightful public promenade on the west side of Des Carrieres Street. In the garden, near the street, is a fine monument, consisting of an obelisk and pedestal of granite, erected to the memory of Wolfe and Montcalm. At the suggestion of Earl Dalhousie, who was Governor of Canada in 1827, a subscription was opened for the purpose, and when it reached seven hundred pounds, the earl made up the deficiency and superintended the erection of the monument. It bears the names of WOLFE and MONTCALM, and a Latin explanatory inscription.(1)
We left Quebec toward evening for Montreal, (August 11, 1848.)on our way up the St. Lawrence to Ontario. A gentle shower crossed our track two miles distant, leaving a cool breeze upon the waters, and dispelling the haziness of the atmosphere. Like a thin veil, it hung athwart the eastern sky, not thick enough to cover the face of the moon that gleamed dimly through it, yet sufficiently dense to refract and reflect the solar rays, and exhibit the radiant blow. While admiring the beautiful phenomenon, I had occasion to administer a quiet rebuke to a young fop, whose attempts at wit, loud tone, and swaggering manner had attracted our attention at the dinner-table at Quebec. He was accompanied by an elderly lady and two young maidens, and on the boat I observed him contributing largely to the amusement of the latter by asking silly questions of unsuspecting passengers, and receiving grave and polite answers, over which they made merry. At length it was my turn to be his "subject." " Can you tell me," he said, "what causes that rainbow?" "Do you ask for information?" I inquired, in return. "Well, yes," he said, a little confused. "Do you understand the Newtonian
1 The following is the inscription: Mortem virtns, eommunem famam historia, monumentum posteritas dedit. Hane eolumnam in virornm illustrium memoriam WOLFE et MONTCALM P. C. Georgius Comes De Dalhousie in Septentrionalis Americae partibus ad Britannos pertimentibus summnm rerum administrans; opus per multos annos praetermissum, quid duci egregio convenientius? Auetoritate promorens, exemplo stimulans, munifieentia fovens A.S., MDCCCXXVII., Georgio IV., Britanniarum Rege.
theory of light? the laws of refraction and reflection? and are you familiar with the science of optics?" I asked, with a serious manner. "No, not much," he mumbled, with an effort to assume a careless air. " I perceive, sir, that you are not far enough advanced in knowledge to understand an explanation if I should give it," I mildly replied, and left him to his own reflections. Perhaps I was rude in the presence of that matron and those young girls, but the injunction of high authority, to "answer a fool according to his folly," did not parley with politeness. The maidens, half smiling, bit their lips, while the young man gazed steadfastly from the window of the saloon upon the beautiful shores we were passing by. They were indeed beautiful, dotted with villages, neat white farm-houses, fields of grain, and wide. spreading woods bathed in the light of the evening sun; and I hope the calm beauty of the scene, above and below, soothed the disquieted spirit of the young gazer, and awakened in his bosom aspirations for that wisdom which leads her willing pupils to perceive
"Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing."
We arrived at Montreal at six in the morning, left it by rail-road at ten for La Chine, nine miles distant, and at the head of La Chine Rapids embarked in the steamer British Queen for Ogdensburgh. We were soon at the foot of the Cascades, or St. Ann's Rapids, near the southwestern extremity of the Island of Montreal.
The St. Lawrence here falls eighty-seven feet in the distance of seven miles. Steam. boats and other vessels go down the rapids, but are obliged to ascend through the Beauharnois Canal, which we entered at about noon. This canal is fifteen miles long, fifty feet wide, and nine feet deep. The navigation of the rapids is very dangerous, and vessels are sometimes wrecked upon the submerged rocks. A sloop, loaded with staves and lumber, was lying in the midst of the foaming rapids, where it had struck the day before while guided by an unskillful pilot. The canal voyage was slow, for we passed nine locks before we reached the waters above Lake St. Louis, an expansion of the river, where the Ottawa or Uta--was comes sweeping around each side of Isle Pero, at its mouth, and swells the volume of
1 These rapids are so called from the circumstance that a village of the same name is near. This was considered by the Canadian voyageurs the place of departure when going from Montreal on fur-trading excursions, as here was the last church upon the island. This fact suggested to Moore the thoughts expressed in the first verse of his Canadian Boat Song:
" Faintly as tolls the evening chime,
Our voices keep tune and our oars keep time,
Soon as the woods on shore look dim,
We'll sing at St. Ann's our evening hymn.
Row, brothers, row, the stream runs fast,
The rapids are near, and the daylight's past,"
Moore says, in reference to this song, "I wrote these words to an air which our boatmen sung to us frequently while descending the St. Lawrence from Kingston to Montreal. Our voyageurs had good voices, and sung perfectly in tune together. I remember when we had entered, at sunset, upon one of those beautiful lakes into which the St. Lawrence so grandly and unexpectedly opens, I have heard this simple air with a pleasure which the finest compositions of the first masters have never given me."
the St. Lawrence with its turbid flood.(1) We were most of the time in full view of the river, and had a fine opportunity to observe the people, dwellings, and agricultural operations along the line of the canal.
We passed the Cedars Rapids, twenty-four miles from La Chine, at about three o'clock. These rapids vary in intricacy, depth, and rapidity of current, and are nine miles long, running at the rate of nine to twelve miles an hour. In some places the rocks are covered with only a few feet of water, and the descent is at all times rather perilous. Small islands, covered with trees and shrubbery, accelerate the speed of the waters. These rapids derive their
name from the village of Cedars, on the north side of the St. Lawrence, in Vaudreuil district. The sketch was made from the steam-boat, in the canal, while stopping for wood and water at St. Timothy.
The Cedars occupy quite a conspicuous place in the annals of the Northern campaign of 1775-76. Three hundred and ninety Americans, under Colonel Bedell, of the New Hampshire line, occupied a small fortress there in the spring of 1776. Early in May, Captain Foster, of the British army, with a detachment of forty regulars, one hundred Canadians, and five hundred Indians, under the celebrated Brant, or Thayendanegea, descended. from the British station at the mouth of the Oswegatchie (now Ogdensburgh), and approached the fort. Bedell, under pretense of going to Montreal for re-enforcements, left the garrison in command of Major Butterfield, an officer quite as void of courage as his superior. Both have been branded by cotemporary writers as cowards, and their conduct on this occasion confirms the opinion.(2) Butterfield did not even make a fair show of resistance, but quietly
1 For several miles below the confluence of the two rivers
the muddy water of the Ottawa and the clear stream of the St. Lawrence are
seen contending for the mastery. The line of demarkation may be traced by
the color even below the St. Ann's Rapids.
2 Washington, writing to General Schuyler under date of June 10th, 1776, said, "If the accounts of Colonel Bedell and Major Butterfield's conduct be true, they have certainly acted a part deserving the most exemplary notice. I hope you will take proper measures, and have good courts appointed to bring them, and every other officer that has been or shall be guilty of misconduct, to trial, that they may be punished according to their offenses. Our misfortunes at the Cedars were occasioned, as it is said, entirely by their base and cowardly behavior, and can not be ascribed to any other cause." A late writer for one of our weekly papers, in giving a "true account of the Northern campaign," is particularly laudatory of the bravery of Colonel Bedell at St. John's and Chambly. He seems to regard all the official and other records of the events there as quite erroneous, and" sets the matter right" by quoting a letter written by Bedell to the Committee of Safety of New Hampshire. He calls the style of the letter" Caesarean," and in the free use of the pronoun I there is certainly a similarity to Caesar's Veni, Vidi, Vici. Taking the colonel's letter as verity, we must suppose that, in the capture of Forts Chambly and St. John's, Montgomery and all other officers were mere puppets in his hands. In a postscript he says, "This moment I have got possession of St. John's; and, the post being obliged to set off, have not time to copy the articles of capitulation; and to-morrow shall march for Montreal, leaving a detachment to keep the fort." Other portions of his letter plainly indicate that he wished to impress those who sent him to the field with the idea that he was the master-spirit there. I should not have noticed this matter so minutely but for the disposition of a class of writers at present to make prominent the exploits of subalterns, upon ex-parte evidence, by hiding the brilliant deeds of those to whom compatriots and cotemporary historians have awarded the highest meed of praise. It is an easy, and the only, way to make a sapling conspicuous, to fell the noble trees that surround and overshadow it.
(May 15, 1775.) surrendered the fort and garrison as soon as Foster arrived. Meanwhile, Major Henry Sherburne was sent by Arnold from Montreal, with one hundred and forty men, to re-enforce the garrison, but Bedell, "valuing safety more than fidelity and honor,"(1) refused to accompany him. Sherburne arrived upon the shore of Lake St. Louis on the day of the surrender, and, having crossed the day after, left forty men as guards, and, with one hundred, proceeded toward the fort, unconscious of the disgraceful conduct of Butterfield. About five in the evening the whole force of Foster's Canadians and Indians burst from an ambuscade and fell upon the republicans. They made a brave defense for nearly an hour and a half, when the Indians, in number greatly superior, formed a girdle around them, and at a given signal rushed upon the devoted little band and disarmed them. Infuriated by the obstinate resistance of the Americans, the Indians butchered about twenty of them with knives and tomahawks, and, stripping the remainder almost naked, drove them in triumph to the fort.(2) The loss of the Americans, in the action and by massacre, was fifty-eight; the enemy lost twenty-two, among whom was a brave of the Senecas.
As soon as Arnold heard of the disasters at the Cedars, he marched with about eight hundred men against the enemy, then at Vaudreuil, for the two-fold purpose of chastising (May, 1776.) them and releasing the American prisoners. He arrived at St. Ann's on the afternoon of the 20th, at which time the bateaux of the enemy were distinctly seen taking the American prisoners from an island three miles distant, toward the main land on the south side of the St. Lawrence. About the same time a party of Caughnawaga Indians,(3) whom Arnold had sent to the hostile savages in the morning, demanding a surrender of the prisoners, and threatening them with extermination if any more murders of Americans should be perpetrated, returned with an answer of defiance. The Indians sent back word to Arnold that they were too numerous to fear him, and that if he should attempt to cross the river and land, for the purpose of rescuing the Americans, every prisoner should be immediately put to death. Unmindful of this threat, Arnold filled his boats with men, and proceeded to the island which the enemy had just left. Five Americans, naked and almost famished, were there, and informed him that all the other prisoners, except two (who, being sick, were butchered), had been taken to Quinze Chiens, four miles below. Arnold, with his flotilla, proceeded thither. The enemy opened an ineffectual fire upon them, but as night (May 26, 1776.) was closing in, and his men were fatigued, the general returned to St. Ann's and called a council of war. He there received a flag from the British commander, accompanied by a letter from Major Sherburne, giving him the assurances that if he persisted in his design of attacking him, it would be entirely out of his power to restrain his savages from disencumbering themselves of the prisoners, by putting them to death. Major Sherburne confirmed the information that a massacre had already been agreed upon. Foster also demanded of Arnold an agreement, on his part, to a proposed cartel which Sherburne and the other officers had been compelled to sign. This agreement covenanted for the delivery of
1 Gordon, ii, 65.
2 Stone, in his Life of Brant, asserts that that chief used his best endeavors to restrain the fury of the Indians after the surrender of Sherburne. Captain M'Kinstry (late Colonel M'Kinstry, of Livingston's Manor, Columbia county) commanded the company, on that occasion, which fought most obstinately with the Indians. On that account the savages had determined to put him to death by the torture, and had made preparations for the horrid rite. Brant interposed, and, in connection with some humane English officers, made up a purse and purchased an ox, which the Indians roasted for their carousal instead of the prisoner. Brant and M'Kinstry became personal friends, and the chief often visited the latter at the manor after the war. Life of Brant, i., 155.
3 The Caughnawagas called themselves the Seven Nations of Canada. Many of them were with the Mohawks and others of the Six Nations of New York in the battle of the Cedars, but those upon the Island of Montreal were friendly to the republicans. A remnant of the tribe now inhabit a village called Caughnawaga, about twelve miles from Montreal, and profess Christianity. They have a handsome church, are industrious, temperate, and orderly, and, unlike others of the Indian tribes, increase rather than diminish in population. I saw several of them in Montreal selling their ingenious birch bark and bead work. They are quite light, having doubtless a liberal tincture of French blood. Their language is a mixture of Iroquois and French.
an equal number of British soldiers in exchange for the Americans, with the condition that the latter should immediately return to their homes, and not again take up arms. Four American captains were to go to Quebec as hostages till the exchange should be effected. Arnold was strongly averse to making such an agreement, but the dictates of humanity and the peculiar circumstances of the case caused him to yield to the terms, except the conditions that the Americans should not again take up arms, and that they should be pledged not to give any information, by words, writings, or signs, prejudicial to his majesty's service. Foster waived these points, and the convention was signed.(1)
The part performed by Foster in coercing the American officers into compliance with his demands, by suspending the bloody hatchet of the Indians over their heads, was thought disgraceful, and Congress refused to ratify the agreement, except upon such terms as the British government would never assent to. Although Washington abhorred the act, he considered the convention binding; and General Howe complained of the bad faith of Congress. The British government, however, indicated its appreciation of the matter by letting the waters of oblivion flow quietly over the whole transaction. The prisoners were finally released by General Carleton, and the hostages at Quebec were sent home on parole.
Arnold, with his detachment, returned to Montreal, where, a few days afterward, a Committee of Congress, consisting of Franklin, Chase, and Carroll, arrived, to inquire into the state of affairs. Their mission was fruitless, for all hope of maintaining a foothold in Canada was abandoned by the military leaders, and, as previously noted, the Americans soon afterward withdrew entirely from the province.
We entered the lake near Grand Island, above Cedars Rapids, and, passing the Rapids of Coteau du Lac, six miles above the latter, landed at a pretty little village of the same name. Here the St. Lawrence expands into one of those broad lakes which mark its course from Ontario to the gulf. It is called Lake St. Francis, and is forty miles long, and in some places twelve or thirteen broad. Beautiful islands, covered with timber and luxuriant shrubbery, are scattered over its bosom. We passed many of those floating islands--extensive rafts of lumber--which indicate a chief feature in the commerce of that noble river. One one of the small islands on the northern shore, opposite the district of Glengary, is a huge" cairn," sixty feet high, the pinnacle of which is an iron cannon, from whose muzzle a flag-staff is projected. A spiral path-way leads from base to summit, sufficiently wide for a person to pass up and down by it in safety. It is built of loose stones, without mortar or cement. The people of the neighboring parish of Glengary (who are chiefly Scotch), under the direction of Colonel Carmichael, reared it, in general testimony of their loyalty during the Canadian rebellion so called, of 1837-8, and in especial honor of Sir John Colborne (now Lord Seaton), who was the commander-in-chief of the British forces in Canada at that time. In imitation of the manner in which tradition asserts that the ancient cairns were built, each person in the district, man, woman, and child, capable of lifting a stone, went to the island and added one to the pile. We passed St.
1 Marshall, Gordon, Allen, Sparks.
2 This is probably the only structure of the kind on the American continent. Cairn is a word of Celtic origin, used to denote the conical piles of stones frequently found upon the hills of Britain. These piles are supposed by some to have been erected as memorials of some local event, while others assign to them a sepulchral character. Some are supposed to be sacrificial, like the carnedd of the Welsh. They all have a similar appearance wherever found, being composed of loose stones piled in a conical form.
Regis,(1) the first village upon the St. Lawrence within the territory of the United States, about sunset, and before the twilight had entirely faded we were again out of the river and in the Cornwall Canal, on the north side of the St. Lawrence, to avoid the swift rapids, called the Long Sault, nearly two miles in extent. We passed the Du Platte Rapids in the night, and at dawn entered the Gallopes or Galoose Rapids, nine miles below Ogdensburgh. These are a mile and a half long, and present a formidable obstacle to the upward passage of vessels. The channel is exceedingly narrow, and very near the southern shore. With three men at the tiller-wheel, and a full head of steam, our goodly" Queen" came up to the most rapid and intricate part, where, for nearly ten minutes, it was difficult to determine whether an inch of progress was made, and we were more than half an hour in making the mile and a half. The usual time occupied in going down from Ogdensburgh to Montreal by steam-boat is nine hours. On account of rapids and currents, and the canal navigation, the voyage up occupies about seventeen hours.
We caught the first rays of the morning sun reflected from the spires at Prescott and Ogdensburgh, flourishing villages, which flank the St. Lawrence at the head of all its numerous rapids. Wind-mill Point, on the Canada side, is close by, and as we passed the famous cape we were edified with a running commentary on the beneficence of monarchy and the horrors of republicanism, from an old officer of a British corps of marine engineers, who, with his daughter, was a passenger from Montreal. He had amused me for an hour the evening previous, after passing St. Regis, by a relation of his personal adventures in that vicinity during our last war with Great Britain. He then commanded a gun-boat with eighty men; and he boasted, with much warmth and satisfaction, of the terrible manner in which he galled the Yankees with "grape and cannister" at the time of the engagements at Chrysler's Farm, Williamsburgh, and near St. Regis. He was bubbling over with loyalty, and became rabid at the mere mention of annexation. His head was white with the bleaching of threescore and ten years. Great experience and extensive practical knowledge, with frankness and volubility in conversation, made him a most agreeable companion, and we much regretted parting with him and his amiable daughter at Kingston.
I called Wind-mill Point a "famous cape." Its notoriety is very youthful, yet its history is one of those epitomes of progress worth noticing, which make up the movements of the nations. It was here that the Canada patriots (so called) in 1837 took post with a view of attacking Fort Wellington, a small fortification between the point and Prescott. There
1 St. Regis is an old Indian village, and contains a small Roman Catholic Church, built about the year 1700. It is said that the priest informed the Indians that a bell was highly important to their worship, and they were ordered to collect furs sufficient to purchase one. They obeyed, and the money was sent to France for the purpose. The French and English were then at war. The bell was shipped, but the vessel that conveyed it fell into the hands of the English, and was taken into Salem, in the fall of 1703. The bell was purchased for a small church at Deerfield, on the Connecticut River, the pastor of which was the Rev. Mr. Williams. The priest of St. Regis heard of the destination of his bell, and, as the Governor of Canada was about to send an expedition, under Major Rouville, against the colonies of New England, he exhorted the Indians to accompany him and get possession of it. Rouville, with 200 French and 142 Indians, arrived near Deerfield in the evening of the 29th of February, 1704. During the night they attacked the unsuspecting villagers, killed 47, and made 112 prisoners. The latter, among whom were the pastor and a part of his family, were taken to Canada. The only house left standing was that of Mr. Williams, which the assailants themselves occupied in securing their prisoners. It is still standing, near the center of the village, and is represented in the annexed cut. The bell was conveyed in triumph through the forest to Lake Champlain, to the spot where Burlington now stands, and there they buried it with the benedictions of Father Nicolas, the priest of St. Regis, who accompanied them. Thus far they had carried it, by means of timber, upon their shoulders. They hastened home, and returned in early spring with oxen and sled to convey the sacred bell, now doubly hallowed in their minds, to its destination. The Indians of the village had never heard the sound of a bell, and powerful was the impression upon their minds when its deep tones, louder and louder, broke the silence of the forest as it approached their village at evening, suspended upon a cross piece of timber, and rung continually by the delighted carriers. It was hung in the steeple, and there it remains. The material incidents of this narrative doubtless occurred, but later investigations show that the bell was taken to a church at Caughnawaga, near Montreal, instead of St. Regis.-See HOUGH'S Hist. of St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties, p. 114.
were several stone buildings and a strong stone wind-mill on the point. These were taken possession of by the insurgents toward noon on the 12th of November, 1838. They numbered about two hundred, many of them being from our frontier towns. They came in two schooners, which were towed down the St. Lawrence by the steamer United States, the captain (Van Cleve) supposing them to be, as represented by a passenger, laden with merchandise. As soon as he discovered the character of the vessels, he resolved to go no further, and stopped at Morristown, ten miles above Ogdensburgh. The schooners' lines were cast, and the next morning, filled with armed men, they were at anchor between Ogdensburgh and Prescott. The insurgents landed at Wind-mill Point, and commenced fortifying their position. Recruits from our shores swelled their ranks for the first twelve hours after their landing. Ogdensburgh and Prescott were in great commotion, and before night not a living being was to be seen in the latter place, for there would evidently be the battle-field.
Preparations were immediately made at Fort Wellington to dislodge the patriots, and a British armed steam-boat, lying at Prescott, prepared to co-operate with the garrison. During the evening the steam-boat Telegraph arrived, having on board Colonel Worth, of the United States army, and two companies of troops, with a marshal, to maintain neutrality. Early next morning two armed British steamers arrived with troops, and an assault was commenced upon the patriots by throwing bombs upon the houses and the mill. The field pieces of their battery on shore returned the fire, and, after a fight of an hour, the British were driven back into the fort, with the loss of about one hundred men killed, and many wounded. Many of the patriots had fled in the morning, and when the action commenced there were only a hundred and twenty-eight left on the point, while the government troops amounted to more than six hundred. The insurgents lost five men killed and thirteen wounded. The next day they sent out a flag, but the bearer was shot. On the 15th the British received a enforcement of four hundred regulars, with cannon and gun-boats. The patriots were also re-enforced, and numbered more than two hundred. The government troops, with volunteers from Kingston, in all about two thousand men, surrounded the patriots by land and water, and kept up a continual cannonading until the evening of the 16th, when the latter surrendered. A white flag was displayed from the mill, and three or four others were sent out by the patriots, but the bearers were shot down.(2) Indeed, there seemed to be but little disposition on the part of the conquerors to give quarter. The dwellings in the vicinity of the wind-mill were burned, and it is asserted that a number of the patriots were consumed in one of them, which stood upon the beach. Other buildings have been burned since, and their blackened ruins, with the wind-mill, battered by cannon-balls, stand there now, gloomy mementoes of an abortive attempt to sever the chains of colonial vassalage.
According to Theller, thirty-six patriots were killed, two escaped, and ninety were made prisoners. The British lost a hundred and fifty men and twenty officers killed, among whom was Captain Drummond. The commander of the insurgents was a young Pole, only thirty one years of age, named Von Schoultz, who, with ten others, was hung, and a large portion of the remainder of the prisoners was banished to Van Diemen's Land.
At Ogdensburgh we left the British Queen, and went on board the Lady of the Lake, bound for Oswego. Having an hour to pass before her departure, we employed it in a pleasant
1 This view was sketched from the steam-boat, when a little
below the wind-mill, looking west-northwest. The mill is a strong stone
structure, and answered a very good purpose for a fort or block-house. Its
narrow windows were used by the patriots as loop-holes for their muskets
during the action.
2 See" Theller's Canada in 1837-8."
ramble through the town and along the banks of the dark Oswegatchie. It was Sabbath morning, and all was quiet in that pleasant village. We traversed the high banks of the stream, along its majestic course from the bridge to the dam, about half a mile. The declivity of the bank is studded with oaks, sycamores, and pines, and lofty trees shade the pleasant pathway the whole distance, making it a delightful promenade either at hot noon or in the evening twilight. The water is of an amber color when not turbid, and from this one of its chief tributaries, the Black Lake, derives its name.
Ogdensburgh is near the site of the old French fort generally known as Fort Oswegatchie, but on their maps, as early as 1740, it is called Fort Presentation, and sometimes La Gallette. This fort was garrisoned by the French during a part of the Seven Years' War, but was taken by the English in 1760, while they were descending the St. Lawrence to attack Montreal. It is related that Putnam, then a lieutenant colonel, performed one of his daring and original feats here, in the attack upon the fort and upon the two armed vessels that lay at the mouth of the Oswegatchie River. Humphreys says that he undertook, with one thousand men in fifty bateaux, to capture the vessels by boarding. With beetle and wedges, he proceeded to secure the rudders, to disable the vessels and prevent them from bringing their broadsides to bear, and then to make a furious attack upon and board them. As they approached, the crew of one of the vessels, panic-struck, forced the commander to surrender, and the other vessel was run ashore. The fort was the next object of solicitude. With the permission of Amherst, Putnam caused a number of boats to be prepared with musket-proof fascines(1) along the sides, so as to form a shelter from the fire of the enemy. The fort was defended by an abatis overhanging the water; and, to overcome such a formidable obstacle, he caused a broad plank, twenty feet in length, to be attached to the bow of each boat, so that it might be raised and lowered at pleasure. This was to form a bridge over the projecting abatis, on which the besiegers might pass to the attack on the fort. As soon as the boats, thus strangely equipped, began to move toward the fort, the alarmed garrison, unused to such martial enginery, surrendered without firing a shot.
These tales, like many others of which Putnam is the reputed hero, partake somewhat of the marvelous, and in this instance rather conflict with cotemporary history as well as probability. Colonel Mante, who was intimate with Rogers and Putnam, says that one of the vessels was grounded before the attack, and that an action of four hours occurred with the other. He also says that "the general ordered the vessels [of the English] to fall down the stream, post themselves as close to the fort as possible, and man their tops well, in order to fire upon the enemy, and prevent their making use of their guns, while the grenadiers rowed in with their broadswords and tomahawks, fascines and scaling-ladders, under cover of the light infantry, who were to fire into the embrasures.'" He says nothing about Putnam's project or the "planks." Dr. Trumbull says, "The general, receiving intelligence that one of the enemy's vessels was aground and disabled, and that another layoff La Gallette, determined, with the utmost dispatch, to go down the river and attack Oswegatchie and Isle Royal. On the 17th of August the row-galleys fell in with the French sloop commanded (1760.) by M. de la Broquirie, who, after a smart engagement, surrendered to the English galleys, . . . . . . By the23d two batteries were opened against the fort, and it was cannonaded by them in concert with the row-galleys in the river. M. Ponchaut, the commander, beat a parley, and surrendered the fort on terms of capitulation.'" From personal observation of the ground, I am inclined to think that a plank twenty feet long could hardly have reached the abatis from the water, even in a perpendicular position, unless the altitude of the shores was less then than now . Very possibly the ingenious idea of wedging up the rudders of the vessels and of scaling the outworks of the fort was conceived by the fertile
1 Fascines, from the Latin fascina, fagot, is
a term used in fortifications to denote bundles of fagots, twigs, or branches
of trees, which, being mixed with earth, are used for filling up ditches,
forming parapets, &c
2 History of the Late War in North America, &c., by Thomas Mante, major of a brigade in the campaign of 1764; London, 1772.
3 History of Connecticut from 1630 to 1764, by Benjamin Trumbull, D.D.
mind of Putnam, but it is not one of the strong points upon which the reputation of the general for skill and bravery rests, for it must have been a failure if attempted. One thing is certain-Fort Oswegatchie fell into the hands of the English at that time, after a pretty warm engagement. Lieutenant-colonel Massey, with the grenadiers, took possession of the fort, the garrison were sent to New York, and the post was named by Amherst Fort William Augustus.
Ogdensburgh was a place of considerable importance, in a military point of view, during our war with England, begun in 1812. Lying directly opposite a Canadian village (Prescott) and a military post, it was among the earliest of the points of attack from Canada. As early as the 2d of October, 1812, it was assaulted by the enemy. General Jacob Brown, with four hundred Americans, commanded there in person. On Sunday, the 4th, the British, one thousand in number, in forty boats, approached to storm the town, but, after a sharp engagement, they were repulsed. Another attack was planned, and in February following it was carried into effect. On the 21st of that month, the British, twelve hundred strong, (1813.) attacked it in two columns, and, after an hour of hard fighting, drove Captain Forsyth and his troops out of the place as far as Black Lake, and took possession of the village. The Americans lost twenty men in killed and wounded, the British about sixty.
We can not stay longer upon the beautiful banks of the Oswegatchie, for the signal-bell for departure is ringing merrily upon the Lady of the Lake.
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