PICTORIAL FIELD BOOK OF THE REVOLUTION.
BY BENSON J. LOSSING
Chimney Point. – First Settlement by the French. – Fort St. Frederic. – Distant View of Crown Point. – Visit to Crown Point. – Description of the Fortress. – Its present Appearance. – Proposed Attack on the French at Isle Aux Noix. – Approach of Winter. – Appearance of Crown Point. – Inscriptions. – Search for Treasure in the Well. – A venerable Money-digger. – Capture of Crown Point by the Patriots. – Seth Warner. – Expeditions of Allen and Arnold against St. John’s. – Preparations to oppose General Carleton on the Lake. – Commission from Massachusetts. – Re-enforcements for the Lake Forts. – Regiment of Green Mountain Boys. – General View of Affairs. – The "Canada Bill." – Opposition to it in Parliament. – Denunciations of Barré. – Passage of the "Canada Bill." – Effect of the Measure in the Colonies. – Boldness of Orators and the Press. – The British Government caricatured. – Carleton’s attempt to seduce the Bishop of Quebec. – Consistency of the Prelate. – Royal Highland Regiment, how raised. – Our Departure from Crown Point. – Split Rock. – War-feast on the Bouquet River. – Burgoyne’s Interview with the Indians. – Speech of an Iroquois. – Approach to Burlington. – Sabbath Morning in Burlington. – Visit to the Grave of Ethan Allen. – Ira Allen. – Burlington and Vicinity. – Adjacent Lake Scenery. – Place of Arnold’s first Naval Battle. – Military Operations on the Lake. – Formation of a little Fleet. – Excursion down the Lake. – Appearance of the British Fleet. – Plan of the Battle. – Severe Battle on the Lake. – Escape of the Americans through the British Line. – Chase by the Enemy. – Another Battle. – Bravery of Arnold on the Congress Galley. – Desperate Resistance. – Retreat to Crown Point. – Effect of the Battle. – Battle of Plattsburgh. – Military Remains. – Incidents of the Naval Battle. – Relic of Washington. – Rouse’s Point and Military Works. – The Territorial Line. – Isle Aux Noix. – Historical Associations. – St. John’s. – Custom-house Officer. – Suspicious of an Israelite. – Apparently treasonable Acts of leading Vermonters. – Military Remains at St. John’s. – Present Works. – Athenaise. – Approach of the Americans in 1775. – Advance of Montgomery against St. John’s. – Mutiny in the American Camp. – Operations at St. John’s. – Attack upon and Surrender of Fort Chambly. – Repulse of Carleton at Longueuil. – Surrender of St. John’s. – The Spoils. – Surrender of St. John’s. – Insubordination. – Retreat of the Americans out of Canada. – Rendezvous of Burgoyne’s Army at St. John’s. – Departure for Chambly. – French Canadian Houses, Farms, and People. – The Richelieu and its Rapids. – Chambly. – The Fort. – Beloeil Mountain. – Large Cross. – Francois Yest. – His Age and Reminiscences. – Temperance Pledge. – Ride to Longueuil. – A Caleche. – Ride in a Caleche. – Safe Arrival of my Companion. – An Evening Stroll. – Aurora Borealis.
"The green earth sends its incense up from every mountain shrine,
From every flower and dewy cup that greeted the sunshine.
The mists are lifted from the rills like the white wing of prayer;
They lean above the ancient hills, as doing homage there.
The forest-tops are lowly cast o’er breezy hill and glen,
As if a prayerful spirit pass’d on nature as on men."
A light mist was upon the water when we departed from Sholes’s, but a gentle breeze swept it off to the hills as we turned the point of Mount Independence and entered the broader expanse near Ticonderoga. We caught a last glimpse of the gray ruins as our boat sped by, and before nine o’clock we landed at Chimney Point, opposite Crown Point, where the lake is only half a mile wide.1 Here the French established their first settlement on Lake Champlain, in 1731, and commenced the cultivation of the grains of the country. They erected a stone wind-mill in the neighborhood, which was garrisoned and used as a fort during the wars with the English colonies. When Professor Kalm, the Swedish naturalist and traveler, during his botanical tour through New York and Canada in 1749, visited this settlement, five or six cannons were mounted in the mill. The place was then called Wind-mill Point. 2
The same year in which the French settled at Chimney Point, they built a strong fort upon the shore opposite, and called it Fort St. Frederic, in honor of Frederic Maurepas, the then Secretary of State. It was a starwork, in the form of a pentagon, with bastions at the angles, and surrounded by a ditch walled in with stone. Kalm says there was a considerable settlement around the fort, and pleasant, cultivated gardens adorned the rude dwellings. There was a neat little church within the ramparts, and every thing betokened a smiling future for a happy and prosperous colony. But the rude clangor of war disturbed their repose a few years afterward; the thunder of British artillery frightened them away, and they retired to the north end of the lake. For many years the chimneys of their deserted dwellings on the eastern shore were standing, and gave the name of Chimney Point to the bold promontory.
CHIMNEY POINT LANDING.3
Anxious to leave in the evening boat for Burlington, we sent our light baggage to the inn, and immediately crossed over to Crown Point on a horse-boat, the only ferry vessel there. Mr. Baker, an aged resident and farmer upon the point, kindly guided us over the remains of the military works in the vicinity, where we passed between three and four hours. We first visited old Fort St. Frederic, the senior fortress in chronological order. It is upon the steep bank of the lake, and the remains of its bomb-proof covered way, oven, and magazine can still be traced; the form of its ramparts is indicated by a broken line of mounds.
PLAN OF THE FORT.
WESTERN LINE OF BARRACKS4
Explanation of the Plan. – A, B, C, the barracks; D, the well; the black line denotes the ramparts, with its parapet; the white space next to it the ditch, and the shaded part outside, the covered way, banquette, and glacis.
The average width of the peninsula of Crown Point is one mile, and the principal works are upon its highest part, near the northern end. The peninsula is made up of dark limestone, covered quite slightly with earth. This physical characteristic lent strength to the post, for an enemy could not approach it by parallels or regular advances, but must make an open assault. St. Frederic, standing close by the water, lacked this advantage; and the French, feeling their comparative weakness, exercised the valor of prudence, and abandoned it on the approach of the English and provincials under General Amherst, in 1759[July 26.], and retired to the Isle Aux Noix, 5 in the Sorel. The British commander took immediate possession, but the works were so dilapidated that, instead of repairing them, he at once began the erection of a new and extensive fortress about two hundred yards southwest of it, and upon more commanding ground. The ramparts were about twenty-five feet thick, and nearly the same in height, of solid masonry. The curtains varied in length from fifty-two to one hundred yards, and the whole circuit, measuring along the ramparts, and including the bastions, was eight hundred and fifty-three yards, a trifle less than half a mile. A broad ditch cut out of solid limestone surrounded it. The fragments taken from the excavation were used to construct the reveting, and the four rows of barracks erected within. On the north was a gate, and from the northeastern bastion was a covered way leading to the lake. Within this bastion a well, nearly eight feet in diameter and ninety feet deep, was sunk, from which the garrison was supplied with water. This fortress was never entirely finished, although the British government spent nearly ten millions of dollars upon it and its outworks. Its construction was a part of the grand plan devised by Pitt to crush French power in America, and hence, for this as well as for every other part of the service here, the most extraordinary efforts were made, and pecuniary means were freely lavished. 6
Amherst constructed several small vessels at Crown Point, and, leaving a garrison to defend the partly finished fort, embarked with the rest of his troops, and sailed down the lake, to attack the French in their new position in the Sorel. Storm after storm arose upon the lake, and greatly endangered the safety of his men and munitions in the frail vessels. The season being considerably advanced, he abandoned the design, and resolved not to risk the snow-storms that would soon ensue, and the general barrenness of food and forage that now prevailed in an enemy’s country. So he returned to Crown Point[October 2, 1759.], and went into winter-quarters.
The works at Crown Point are much better preserved than those at Ticonderoga, and the present owner of the ground, with a resolution which bespeaks his taste and patriotism, will not allow a stone to be removed. The view here given is from the parapet near the end of the southeastern range of barracks, where the flag-staff was, looking down the lake northwest. At the foot of the hills on the lake shore, toward the left, is Cedar Point, at the entrance of Bulwaggy Bay, and a little north of it is the village of Port Henry, the location of the works of a large iron company, composed chiefly of Bostonians. There is a ferry between this place and Chimney Point, the boats touching at Crown Point.
In the gable wall of the nearest barracks in the view are two inscribed stones, faced smooth where the inscription is carved. One bears the initials "G. R.," George Rex or King; the rude form of an anchor, a mark peculiar to Great Britain and placed upon her cannon balls and other military articles; and the date of the construction of the fortress, "1759." The other stone has the initial "G." without the R., the monogram of Amherst, the anchor, and a number of rectangular and diagonal lines of inexplicable meaning.
The deep well already alluded to is close by the covered way that leads to the lake and a few rods northeast from the eastern range of barracks. It was nearly filled with rubbish, and almost hidden from view by the weeds and shrubbery upon its margin. I was informed that a general impression prevailed in the vicinity, about twenty-five years ago, that this deep well was the depository of vast treasures, which were cast into it by the French for concealment when they abandoned the fort in 1759. Accordingly, a stock company of fifty men, whose capital was labor, and whose dividends were to be the treasure found, cleared the well of all its rubbish, in search of the gold and silver. One of the company furnished the whisky which was drunk on the occasion, and agreed to wait for his pay until the treasure was secured. The men "kept their spirits up by pouring spirits down," and before the work was completed nearly three hogsheads of alcohol were swallowed by them. They cleared and drained the well to its rocky bottom, and all the metal which they found was iron in the form of nails, spikes, bolts, axes, shovels, &c. The whisky and the labor were lost to the owners, but they found the saying correct, that "truth lies at the bottom of a well," for they discovered, when at the bottom, the important truth, which doubtless taught them wisdom, that credulity is a faithless though smiling friend, and a capricious and hard master to serve. Money-digging still continues in the neighborhood, and several excavations within the fort were pointed out as the scene of quite recent labor in that line.
In 1844 a venerable, white-haired man, apparently between eighty and ninety years of age, leaning upon a staff, and accompanied by two athletic men, came to the fort and began to dig. They were observed by Mr. B., and ordered away. The old man was urgent for leave to dig, for he had come from the northern part of Vermont, was very poor, knew exactly where the treasure was, as he had assisted in concealing it, and asked but thirty minutes to finish his work. Mr. B. left them, and, returning an hour afterward, saw quite a deep hole, but no man was near. The diggers were gone, and the impression is that they really "found something!" There has been a great deal of money-digging upon Snake Mountain, on the eastern side of the lake, induced, to some extent, by the wonderful discovery of a crucible there. Among those rugged hills was doubtless the residence of "May Martin," the lovely heroine of the "Money-diggers."7
Crown Point remained in the quiet possession of the British from 1759 until 1775, when it was surprised and taken by a small body of provincials called "Green Mountain Boys," under Colonel Seth Warner.8 I have already mentioned the fact that he attempted its capture on the same day that Delaplace surrendered Ticonderoga to Ethan Allen, but was thwarted and driven back by a storm. That was on the 10th of May [1775.]. The attempt was renewed on the 12th, with success, and the garrison, consisting of only a sergeant and eleven men, were made prisoners without firing a shot. 9 Among the spoils were a hundred and fourteen cannons, of which only sixty-one were fit for service.
Arnold arrived at Ticonderoga the same evening, and on the 14th about fifty men, who had enlisted in compliance with his orders given by the way while hurrying on to Castleton to overtake Allen, arrived from Skenesborough, and brought with them the schooner which belonged to Major Skene. He manned this vessel instantly, armed it with some of the guns taken at the fort, and sailed down the lake to St. John’s, on the Sorel. There he surprised and made prisoners the garrison, consisting of a sergeant and twelve men; captured a king’s sloop with seven men; destroyed five bateaux; seized four others; put on board some of the valuable stores from the fort, and with his prisoners, and favored by a fair wind which had chopped around from south to north just as he had secured his prizes, he returned to Ticonderoga. Colonel Allen, with one hundred and fifty men in bateaux, started upon the same expedition, but Arnold’s schooner outsailed the flat-boats, and Allen met him within fifteen miles of St. John’s, returning with his prizes. Arnold was on board the king’s sloop, where Allen visited him, and, after ascertaining the actual state of affairs, the latter determined to go on to St. John’s and garrison the fort with about one hundred men. He landed just before night, marched about a mile toward Laprairie, and formed his men in ambush to attack an expected re-enforcement for the enemy. He soon learned that the approaching force was much larger than his own, and retired across the river, where he was attacked early in the morning by two hundred men. He fled to his boats and escaped to Ticonderoga, with a loss of three men taken prisoners. Thus within one week the strong fortresses of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, with all their dependencies upon the lake, were snatched from the British by the bold provincials, without their firing a gun or losing a man; and their little fleet upon the lake, their only strength left, was captured and destroyed in a day.
These events aroused General Carleton, the governor of Canada, and a re-enforcement of more than four hundred British and Canadians was speedily sent to St. John’s. It was determined to send small water craft from Chambly and Montreal, to be armed and manned at St. John’s; and other measures were planned for dispatching a sufficient force up the lake to recapture Ticonderoga and Crown Point. Tidings of these preparations soon reached the ears of Arnold, and afforded him an opportunity to sever his connection with Allen, so ill suited to his restless and ambitious spirit. A fleet to oppose the enemy was now necessary, and, having had some experience at sea in earlier life, Arnold assumed to be the commander of whatever navy should be fitted out. His assumption was not complained of, and he proceeded vigorously in arming and manning Skene’s schooner, the king’s corvette, and a small flotilla of bateaux. With these and about one hundred and fifty men, he took post at Crown Point to await the approach of the enemy. There he organized his little navy by the appointment of a captain and subordinate officers for each vessel. He mounted six carriage guns and twelve swivels in the sloop, and four carriage guns and eight swivels in the schooner. He was also active in sending off the ordnance from Crown Point to the army at Cambridge, and at the same time he sent emissaries to Montreal and the Caughnawagas to sound the intentions of the Canadians and Indians, and ascertain what was the actual force under Carleton and the nature of his preparations. He also wrote to the Continental Congress in June, proposing a plan of operations whereby, he confidently believed, the whole of Canada might be conquered by two thousand men. He asserted that persons in Montreal had agreed to open the gates when a strong Continental force should appear before the city; assured Congress that Carleton had only five hundred and fifty effective men under him; and offered to lead the expedition and to be responsible for consequences. His representations were doubtless true, but Congress was not prepared to sanction such an expedition. Allen, in a letter dated Crown Point, June 2d, 1775, made a similar proposition to the Provincial Congress of New York. In the mean while letters had been sent from Ticonderoga to the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, complaining of Arnold’s arrogant assumptions, and otherwise disparaging his deeds. A committee of inquiry was appointed, who proceeded to Lake Champlain. Arnold was at Crown Point, acting as commandant of the fort and commodore of the navy, and, not suspecting the nature of their visit, he was enthusiastic in his discourse to them of his expected victories. The first intimation of their errand aroused Arnold’s indignation; and when he fully understood the purport of their commission, he wrote them a formal letter of resignation, discharged his men, and returned to Cambridge, uttering loud complaints of ill usage by the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts. Thus ended the naval operations upon the lake in 1775.
When Ticonderoga and Crown Point were securely in the power of the provincials, Colonel Easton went to Massachusetts and Connecticut, and explained to the respective governments all the transactions connected with the reduction of these important posts. The Massachusetts Assembly wrote to Governor Trumbull, of Connecticut, expressing their willingness to allow that colony all the honor, and to withhold all interference in future operations in that quarter. Trumbull immediately prepared to send a re-enforcement for the garrisons, of four hundred men. Meanwhile messages were sent to the Continental Congress, and, through courtesy, to the Provincial Congress of New York, within whose jurisdiction the fortresses were situated, to ascertain their views. The Continental Congress approved the measures of Governor Trumbull, and requested the Convention of New York to supply the troops with provisions. The four hundred men were immediately sent, under Colonel Hinman, who superseded Colonel Allen in the command at Ticonderoga. The latter, with Warner, set off for the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, to procure pay for their soldiers, whose terms had expired, and to solicit authority to raise a new regiment in Vermont. The appearance of these men occasioned a great sensation in Philadelphia, and they were introduced upon the floor of Congress, to make their communications to that body orally. Congress at once acquiesced in their wishes, granted the soldiers the same pay as was received by those of the Continental army, and recommended to the New York Convention that, after consulting General Schuyler, they should "employ in the army to be raised in defense of America those called Green Mountain Boys, under such officers as the said Green Mountain Boys should choose." This resolution was dispatched to the New York Convention, and thither Allen and Warner repaired, and obtained an audience.10 The Assembly resolved that a regiment of Green Mountain Boys, consisting of seven companies, and not exceeding five hundred men in number, should be raised. The matter was referred to General Schuyler, who immediately notified the people of the New Hampshire Grants, and ordered them to raise the regiment. Allen and Warner were not members of the regiment, but soon afterward they both joined General Schuyler at Ticonderoga [August, 1775.], where he was stationed with about three thousand troops from New York and New England, preparatory to an invasion of Canada. Early in September Generals Schuyler and Montgomery sailed from Ticonderoga and Crown Point with their whole force, and appeared before St. John’s, on the Sorel. Let us for a moment take a general view of affairs having a relation to the northern section of operations at this juncture and immediately antecedent thereto.
The British ministry, alarmed at the rapid progress of the rebellion in America, and particularly at the disaffection to the royal government which was manifest in Canada, and observing that all their coercive measures in relation to Massachusetts had thus far augmented rather than diminished the number and zeal of the insurgents in that colony, determined, in 1774, to try a different policy with Canada, to secure the loyalty of the people. A large proportion of the inhabitants were of French descent, and members of the Romish communion. Those who composed the most influential class were of the old French aristocracy, and any concessions made in favor of their caste weighed more heavily with them than any that might be made to the whole people, involving the extension of the area of political freedom, an idea which was a mere abstraction to them. Religious concessions to the other and more ignorant class were a boon of great value, and by these means the king and his advisers determined to quiet the insurrectionary spirit in Canada. A bill was accordingly introduced into Parliament, "For making more effectual provision for the government of the province of Quebec, in North America." It provided for the establishment of a Legislative Council, invested with all powers except that of levying taxes. It was provided that its members should be appointed by the crown, and continue in authority during its pleasure; that Canadian subjects professing the Catholic faith might be called to sit in the Council; that the Catholic clergy, with the exception of the regular orders, should be secured in the enjoyment of their professions, and of their tithes from all those who professed their religion; that the French laws without jury should be re-established, preserving, however, the English laws, with trial by jury, in criminal cases. The bill also provided that the limits of Canada should be extended so as to inclose the whole region between the lakes and the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, regardless of the just claims of other colonies under old and unrepealed charters.11 These liberal concessions to the Canadians would have been highly commendable, had not other motives than a spirit of liberality manifestly actuated ministers. The most obtuse observer could plainly perceive their object to be to secure a strong footing north and west of the refractory colonies, where troops might be concentrated and munitions of war collected, to be used at a moment’s warning, if necessary, in crushing rebellion near. Such a design was at once charged upon ministers by the ever-vigilant Colonel Barré, on the floor of the British House of Commons. "A very extraordinary indulgence," he said, "is given to the inhabitants of this province, and one calculated to gain the hearts and affections of these people. To this I can not object, if it is to be applied to good purposes; but if you are about to raise a popish army to serve in the colonies, from this time all hope of peace in America will be destroyed. The Americans will look on the Canadians as their task-masters, and, in the end, their executioners." It was urged by ministers that common justice demanded the adoption of such a measure, for a very large proportion of the people of Canada were Roman Catholics. 12 Edmund Burke, Thomas Townshend, Charles Fox, Sergeant Glynn, and others joined Colonel Barré in his denunciations of the bill, particularly in relation to the clauses concerning the Roman Catholic religion, and that providing for the establishment of a Legislative Council to be appointed by the crown. The former were considered a dangerous precedent for a Protestant government, and the latter was regarded as shadowing forth the ultimate design of the king and his ministers to subvert the popular form of government in America, and to make the legislators mere creatures of the crown. By its provisions the Governor of Canada was vested with almost absolute and illimitable power, and permitted to be nearly as much a despot, if he chose, as any of the old Spanish viceroys of South America. On this point Lord Chatham (William Pitt) was particularly eloquent, and he also took ground against the religious features of the bill, as an innovation dangerous to the Protestant faith and to the stability of the throne. The bill, however, with all its exceptionable clauses, was adopted by quite a large majority in both Houses, and received the royal assent on the 22d of June [1774.]. It was introduced into the House of Lords by the Earl of Dartmouth, and passed that house without opposition. This bill is referred to in our Declaration of Independence as one of the "acts of pretended legislation" that justified the separation from the parent country.
While this act, with the Boston Port Bill, that for the subversion of the charter of Massachusetts, and the law authorizing the transportation of criminals to Great Britain for trial, were in transit through Parliament and receiving the royal signature, the colonists were preparing to make a successful resistance against further legislative encroachments. Throughout the whole summer and autumn of 1774 the greatest excitement prevailed. The committees of correspondence were every where active and firm, and were constantly supplied with minute knowledge of all the movements of the home government by secret agents in the British metropolis. The people by thousands signed non-importation agreements, and otherwise attested their willingness to make personal sacrifices in the cause of freedom. The press spoke out boldly, and orators no longer harangued in parables, but fearlessly called upon the people to UNITE. The events of the French and Indian war had demonstrated the prowess and strength of the Anglo-Americans against the foes of Britain, and they felt confident in that strength against Britain herself, now that she had become the oppressor of her children, if a bond of union could be made that should cause all the colonies to act in concert. A general Congress, similar to that which convened in New York in 1765, was therefore suggested. Throughout the colonies the thought was hailed as a happy one, and soon was developed the most energetic action. The Congress met in September[1774.], adopted loyal addresses to the king and Parliament, to the people of the colonies, of Canada, of Ireland, and of Great Britain, and took precautionary measures respecting future aggressions upon their rights. The people, highly indignant, every where evinced the strength of that feeling by open contempt for all royal authority exercised by officers of the crown. The acts alluded to were denounced as "barbarous and bloody," the British ministry were published in the gazettes, and placarded upon the walls as papists and as traitors to the Constitution, and the patriots even had the boldness to lampoon the king and Parliament. (For an illustration, see next page.)
Such was the temper of the Americans at the opening of the year 1775. The events at Lexington and Concord added fuel to the flame of indignation and rebellion. As we have seen, Ticonderoga and other posts on Lake Champlain were assailed, and fell into the hands of the Americans. In June[June 17, 1775.] the battle of Bunker Hill was fought. A Continental army was speedily organized. Hope of reconciliation departed. The sword was fairly drawn, and at the close of summer an expedition was arranged to invade Canada, for which an armament was collected at Ticonderoga. Such a step seemed essential for two reasons: first, to confirm the Canada patriots (who were chiefly in the neighborhood of Montreal) in their opposition to Great Britain by the pressure of armed supporters; and, secondly, to secure the strong-hold of Quebec while its garrison was yet weak, and before General Carleton could organize a sufficient force to defend it. That officer, it was well known, was vested with almost unlimited power as governor of the province, under the act which we have just considered; and it was also well known that he was using every means at his command to induce the Canadians to take up arms against the rebellious colonists. Neither bribes nor promises were spared. The imperial government resolved to send out fifteen thousand muskets to arm the French Catholics, and agents of the crown were busy among the Indian tribes upon the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa, inciting them to an alliance with the army of the king. 13
1. One String Jack, Deliver your property.
6. I shall be wounded with you.
2. Begar, just so in France. } Accomplices.
7. I am blinded.
3. Te Deum.
8. The French Roman Catholic town of Quebec.
4. I give you that man’s money for my use.
9. The English Protestant town of Boston.
5. I will not be robbed.
Congress had already sent an affectionate address[May 29, 1775.] "To the oppressed inhabitants of Canada," and its effects were so palpable to Governor Carleton, that he feared entire disaffection to the royal government would ensue. The people were disappointed in the operations of the act of 1774, and all but the nobles regarded it as tyrannical. Unable to make an impression favorable to the king upon the Canadians by an appeal to their loyalty, Carleton had recourse to the authority of religion. He endeavored to seduce Brand, the Roman Catholic bishop of Quebec, from his exalted duties as a Christian pastor, to engage in the low political schemes of a party placeman, and publish a mandement, to be read from the pulpit by the curates in time of divine service. He also urged the prelate to exhort the people to take up arms against the colonists. But the consistent bishop refused to exert his influence in such a cause, and plainly told Carleton that such conduct would be unworthy of a faithful pastor, and derogatory to the canons of the Romish Church. A few priests, however, with the nobility, seconded Carleton’s views, but their influence was feeble with the mass of the people, who were determined to remain neutral. The governor now tried another scheme, and with better effect. He could make no impression upon the masses by appeals to their loyalty or their religious prejudices, and he determined to arouse them by appealing to their cupidity. Accordingly, he caused the drums to beat up for volunteers in Quebec, and by offers of good pay, privileges, and bounties, he succeeded in enrolling a few, under the title of the Royal Highland Regiment. 14 About the same time [July, 1775.] Colonel Guy Johnson arrived at Montreal with a large number of Indian chiefs and warriors of the Six Nations, who, despite their solemn promises of neutrality, were induced to join the soldiers of the king. They made oath of allegiance to the crown in the presence of Carleton, and were held in readiness to serve him when he should call.
A small number of regular British troops, with the volunteers and Indians, composed the bulk of Carleton’s army at the close of the summer of 1775, the time when General Schuyler was preparing, at Ticonderoga and Crown Point, for a campaign against Canada. We thus come back from our historic ramble to our starting-place at Crown Point. The ruins are sufficiently explored; let us pass over to Chimney Point and dine, for the steamer will soon come down the lake to convey us to our Sabbath resting-place at Burlington.
We left Chimney Point in the evening, a cool, gentle breeze blowing from the northwest. The western shore is bold, and in many places precipitous, and in the distance the blue peaks and lofty ridges of the Adirondack Mountains skirt the horizon. The eastern margin is the termination of the pleasant slopes and beautiful intervales between the Green Mountains and the lake, cultivated and wooded alternately to the water’s verge. At dusk we reached the famous Split Rock. The moon was shining brightly in the west, where faint tints of daylight still lingered, and we passed so near that we had a fine view of that geological wonder. It is on the west side of the lake, about thirty miles below Crown Point. Here is a sharp promontory jutting into the lake, the point of which, containing about half an acre, and covered with bushes, is separated from the main land by a cleft fifteen feet wide. It was observed as a curiosity by the old French explorers. Soundings to the depth of five hundred feet have been made between the fragment and the main rock, without finding a bottom. Geologists differ in opinion respecting the cause which formed the chasm, some ascribing it to an earthquake, and others to the slow attrition of the current upon a portion of the rock of softer texture than the rest. A light-house stands near as a guide to the navigator, for the lake is only a mile wide at this point. Here it suddenly expands, and at the mouth of the Bouquet River, eight miles above, it is about five miles wide.
BURGOYNE ADDRESSING THE INDIANS.
At the falls in the Bouquet, two miles from the lake, is the village of Willsborough, the place where Burgoyne encamped and gave a war-feast to about four hundred Indians of the tribes of the Algonquins, Iroquois, and Ottawas, who, accompanied by a Roman Catholic priest, joined him there[June 21, 1777.]. Both he and Carleton were averse to the measure of employing the savages in the British army, but the express instructions of ministers demanded it, and he dared not disobey. 15 He made a speech to them, in which he humanely endeavored to soften their savage ferocity and restrain their thirst for rapine and blood. His exordium was words of flattery in praise of their sagacity, faithfulness, forbearance, and loyalty. He then spoke of the abused clemency of the king toward the colonies, and declared to the warriors their relief from restraint. "Go forth," he said, "in the might of your valor and your cause. Strike at the common enemies of Great Britain and of America; disturbers of public order, peace, and happiness; destroyers of commerce; parricides of the state." He told them that his officers and men would endeavor to imitate their example in perseverance, enterprise, and constancy, and in resistance of hunger, weariness, and pain. At the same time he exhorted them to listen to his words, and allow him to regulate their passions, and to conform their warfare to his, by the rules of European discipline and the dictates of his religion and humanity. He reminded them that the king had many faithful subjects in the provinces, and, therefore, indiscriminate butchery of the people might cause the sacrifice of many friends. He then charged them, in the words quoted from his speech in the note on ante, page 99, not to kill for scalps, or destroy life except in open warfare and claimed for himself the office of umpire on all occasions. When he had finished, an old Iroquois chief arose and said:
"I stand up in the name of all the nations present, to assure our father that we have attentively listened to his discourse. We receive you as our father, because when you speak we hear the voice of our great father beyond the great lake. We rejoice in the approbation you have expressed of our behavior. We have been tried and tempted by the Bostonians,16 but we loved our father, and our hatchets have been sharpened upon our affections. In proof of the sincerity of our professions, our whole villages able to go to war are come forth. The old and infirm, our infants and wives, alone remain at home. With one common assent we promise a constant obedience to all you have ordered and all you shall order; and may the Father of Days give you many and success." 17
These promises were all very fine, and Burgoyne, to his sorrow, had the credulity to rely upon them. At first the Indians were docile, but as soon as the scent of blood touched their nostrils their ferocious natures were aroused, and the restraints imposed by the British commander were too irksome to be borne. Their faithfulness disappeared; and in the hour of his greatest need they deserted him, as we have seen, by hundreds, and returned home.
As the lake widened and the evening advanced, the breeze freshened almost to a gale, and, blowing upon our larboard quarter, it rolled up such swells on our track that the vessel rocked half the passengers into silent contemplation of the probability of casting their supper to the fishes. The beacon upon Juniper Island was hailed with delight, for the Burlington break-water was just ahead. We entered the harbor between nine and ten in the evening, and were soon in comfortable quarters at the American, fronting the pleasant square in the center of the village.
The next morning dawned calm and beautiful. The wind was hushed, and the loveliness of repose was upon the village, lake, and country. It was our second Sabbath from home, and never was its rest more welcome and suggestive of gratitude, for the preceding week had been to me one of unceasing toil, yet a toil commingled with the most exalted pleasure. I had been among scenes associated with the noblest sentiments of an American’s heart; and when, mingling with the worshipers in St. Paul’s Church, the clear voice of Bishop Hopkins repeated the divine annunciation, "From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord," I felt that our own country, so late a wilderness and abiding-place for pagans, but now blooming under the beneficent culture of free institutions that were born amid the labor-throes of the Revolution, was a special illustration of that glorious declaration.
TOMB OF ETHAN ALLEN.
Early on Monday morning we procured saddle horses and rode out to the resting-place of General Ethan Allen, a burial-ground embowered in shrubbery, lying upon the brow of the hill overlooking the Winooski, and within sound of its cascades. It is on the south side of the road leading east from Burlington, nearly half a mile from the University of Vermont, that stands upon the summit of the hill, upon the western slope of which is the village. Allen’s monument is a plain marble slab, resting upon a granite foundation, and bears the following inscription:
GENERAL ETHAN ALLEN
RESTS BENEATH THIS STONE,
THE 12TH DAY OF FEB., 1789,
AGED 50 YEARS.
HIS SPIRIT TRIED THE MERCIES OF HIS GOD,
IN WHOM ALONE HE BELIEVED AND STRONGLY TRUSTED.
Near his are the graves of his brother Ira18 and several other relatives. The whole are inclosed within a square defined by a chain supported by small granite obelisks. A willow drooped over the tombs of the patriot dead, and rose-bushes clustered around the storm-worn monuments. The dew was yet upon the grass, and its fragrant exhalations filled the air with such grateful incense, that we were loth to leave the spot. We galloped our horses back to the village in time for breakfast, delighted and profited by our morning’s ride. Halting near the university a few minutes, we enjoyed the beautiful view which the height commands. The Green Mountains stretched along the east; the broken ranges of the Adirondack, empurpled by the morning sun, bounded the western horizon; and below us, skirting the lake, the pleasant village lay upon the slope, and stretched its lengthening form out toward the rich fields that surrounded it. To the eye of a wearied dweller in a dense city all villages appear beautiful in summer, but Burlington is eminently so when compared with others.
SCENE OF ARNOLD’S NAVAL BATTLE.19
We left the metropolis of the lake for Plattsburgh about noon. On our left, as we emerged from the harbor, were the Four Brothers, small islands swarming with water-fowl, and the bald point of Rock Dunder, a solitary spike rising, shrubless and bare, about twenty feet above the water. Before us spread out the two Heros (North and South), green islands, which belonged to the Allen family during the Revolution. The first landing-place below Burlington is Port Kent, on the west side of the lake, ten miles distant. A little below is Port Jackson, nearly west of the south end of Valcour’s Island. This is an interesting portion of the lake to the American tourist, for it is the place where our first naval battle with Great Britain was fought. This event took place October the 11th, 1776. The American flotilla was commanded by Benedict Arnold, and the English vessels by Captain Pringle, accompanied by Governor Carleton. In order to a lucid understanding of the position of affairs at that time, we must consider for a moment the connecting chain of events from the autumn of 1775, when General Schuyler was at Ticonderoga and Crown Point preparing to invade Canada, to the meeting of the belligerents in question.
The forces under Generals Schuyler and Montgomery proceeded to execute the will of Congress, and in September[September 10, 1775.] appeared before St. John’s, at the Sorel. Finding the fort, as they supposed, too strong for assault, they returned to and fortified Isle Aux Noix. Schuyler went back to Ticonderoga and hastened forward re-enforcements, but was unable to return on account of sickness. Montgomery succeeded him in command. He captured Fort St. John’s and Fort Chambly, and entered Montreal in triumph. He then pushed on to Quebec, when he was joined by a force under Arnold, and early in December laid siege to that city. After besieging it unsuccessfully for three weeks, the Americans commenced an assault [December 31, 1775.]. Montgomery was killed, the Americans were repulsed, and many of them made prisoners. Arnold was wounded. He became the chief in command, and kept the remnant of the republican army together in the vicinity of Quebec, until the arrival of General Wooster early in the spring [1776.] and General Thomas in May. General Carleton soon afterward received re-enforcements from England, and by the middle of June the Americans, after retreating from post to post, were driven out of Canada.
Not doubting that Carleton would follow up his successes by providing water craft upon the lake, to attempt the capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, a council of officers, under General Gates, who in the spring was appointed to the command of the Northern army, resolved to abandon the latter post and concentrate all their forces at the former. Accordingly, General Sullivan, who was at Crown Point, withdrew with his forces to Ticonderoga, and active measures for offensive and defensive operations were there adopted. Materials for constructing vessels, as well as skillful artisans, were scarce. The latter had to be obtained from the sea-ports; yet such was the zeal of the Americans, that by the middle of August a small squadron, consisting of one sloop, three schooners, and five gondolas, was in readiness and rendezvoused at Crown Point under Arnold, who received the command of it from General Gates. The sloop carried twelve guns, one schooner the same number, the others eight, and the gondolas three each. Toward the close of the month Arnold sailed down the lake, under positive instructions from Gates not to pass beyond Isle Aux Têtes, near what is now called Rouse’s Point, and to act only on the defensive. He halted at Wind-mill Point, four miles above Isle Aux Têtes, to reconnoiter, and anchored his vessels across the lake, to prevent any boats of the enemy from passing up.
As soon as Carleton was advised of the movements of the Americans at Ticonderoga, he sent seven hundred men from Quebec to St. John’s, to construct a fleet, and in the course of a few weeks several strong vessels were finished and armed for duty. A radeau called the Thunderer (a kind of flat-bottomed vessel carrying heavy guns), and twenty-four gunboats, armed each with a field piece or carriage gun, were added to the fleet. Forty boats with provisions accompanied the expedition.
Convinced that his position was dangerous, for the British and Indians were collecting on the shores, Arnold fell back about ten miles to Isle La Motte, where he need not fear an attack from the main land. Here his fleet was considerably increased, and consisted of three schooners, two sloops, three galleys, eight gondolas, and twenty-one gun-boats. Ignorant of the real strength of the armament which he knew Carleton was preparing at St. John’s, and unwilling to engage a superior force on the broad lake, Arnold withdrew his fleet still further back, and anchored it across the narrow channel between Valcour’s Island and the western shore.
EXPLANATION OF THE MAP. – A, American fleet under Arnold; B, 21 gun-boats; C, schooner Carleton, 12 six pounders; D, ship Inflexible, 18 twelve pounders; E, anchorage of the British fleet during the night, to cut off the Americans’ retreat; F, radeau Thunderer, 6 twenty-four pounders and 12 six pounders; G, gondola Loyal Convert, 7 nine pounders; H, schooner Maria, 14 six pounders, with General Carleton on board; I, the place where the American schooner Royal Savage, of 8 six pounders and 4 four pounders was burned. This plan is copied from Brasrier’s Survey of Lake Champlain, edition of 1779.
Early on the morning of the 11th of October[1776.] the British fleet appeared off Cumberland Head, moving up the lake, and in a short time it swept around the southern point of Valcour’s Island. The enemy’s force was formidable, for the vessels were manned by seven hundred chosen seamen. Captain Pringle was commodore, and made the Inflexible his flagship. Among the young officers in the fleet was Edward Pellew, afterward Admiral Viscount Exmouth, one of the most distinguished of England’s naval commanders. The action began about twelve o’clock, by the attack of the Carleton upon the American schooner Royal Savage and three galleys. The latter, in attempting to return to the line, grounded, and was burned, but her men were saved. Arnold was on board the Congress galley, and conducted matters with a great deal of bravery and skill. About one o’clock the engagement became general, and the American vessels, particularly the Congress, suffered severely. It was hulled twelve times, received seven shots between wind and water, the main-mast was shattered in two places, the rigging cut to pieces, and many of the crew were killed or wounded. Arnold pointed almost every gun on his vessel with his own hands, 20 and with voice and gesture cheered on his men. In the mean while the enemy landed a large body of Indians upon the island, who kept up an incessant fire of musketry, but with little effect. The battle continued between four and five hours, and the Americans lost, in killed and wounded, about sixty men.
Night closed upon the scene, and neither party were victors. The two fleets anchored within a few hundred yards of each other. Arnold held a council with his officers, and it was determined to retire during the night to Crown Point, for the superiority of the vessels, and the number and discipline of the men composing the British force, rendered another engagement extremely hazardous. Anticipating such a movement on the part of the Americans, the British commander anchored his vessels in a line extending across from the island to the main land. A chilly north wind had been blowing all the afternoon, and about sunset dark clouds overcast the sky. It was at the time of new moon, and, therefore, the night was very dark, and favored the design of Arnold. About ten o’clock he weighed anchor, and with the stiff north wind sailed with his whole flotilla, unobserved, through the enemy’s lines. Arnold, with his crippled galley, brought up the rear. It was a bold movement. At daybreak the English watch on deck looked with straining eyes for their expected prey, but the Americans were then at Schuyler’s Island, ten miles south, busily engaged in stopping leaks and repairing sails. The British weighed anchor and gave chase. Toward evening the wind changed to the south, and greatly retarded the progress of both fleets during the night. Early on the morning of the 13th[October, 1776.] the enemy’s vessels were observed under full sail, and rapidly gaining upon the Americans. The Congress galley (Arnold’s "flag-ship") and the Washington, with four gondolas, were behind, and in a short time the British vessels Carleton, Inflexible, and Maria were alongside, pouring a destructive fire upon them. The Washington soon struck, and General Waterbury the commander, and his men, were made prisoners. 21 The whole force of the attack now fell upon the Congress, but Arnold maintained his ground with unflinching resolution for four hours. The galley was at length reduced almost to a wreck, and surrounded by seven sail of the enemy. Longer resistance was vain, and the intrepid Arnold ran the galley and four gondolas into a small creek on the east side of the lake, about ten miles below Crown Point, and not far from Panton. He ordered the marines to set fire to them as soon as they were grounded, leap into the water and wade ashore with their muskets, and form in such a manner upon the beach as to guard the burning vessels from the approach of the enemy. Arnold remained in his galley till driven off by the fire, and was the last man that reached the shore. He kept the flags flying, and remained upon the spot until his little flotilla was consumed, and then, with the small remnant of his brave soldiers, marched off through the woods toward Chimney Point, and reached Crown Point in safety. The rapidity of his march saved him from an Indian ambush that waylaid his path an hour after he passed by. Two schooners, two galleys, one sloop, and one gondola, the remnant of his fleet, were at Crown Point, and General Waterbury and most of his men arrived there on parole the next day, when all embarked and sailed to Ticonderoga. General Carleton took possession of Crown Point [October 14, 1776.], and for a few days threatened Ticonderoga, but the season was so far advanced that he prudently withdrew, and sailed down the lake to go into winter-quarters in Canada. 22 The whole American loss in the two actions was between eighty and ninety, and that of the enemy about forty.
Although the republicans were defeated, and the expedition was disastrous in every particular, yet such were the skill, bravery, and obstinate resistance of Arnold and his men against a vastly superior force, the event was hailed as ominous of great achievements on the part of the patriots when such fearful odds should not exist. Arnold’s popularity, so justly gained at Quebec, was greatly increased, and the country rang with his praises. Sparks justly observes, respecting Arnold’s conduct in the engagement on the 13th, that "there are few instances on record of more deliberate courage and gallantry than were displayed by him from the beginning to the end of this action."
We arrived at Plattsburgh at about two o’clock in the afternoon. The day was excessively warm, and I felt more like lounging than rambling. In fact, the spot has no Revolutionary history worth mentioning, for its existence as a lonely settlement in the wilderness is only coeval with that of our independence. Count Vredenburgh, a German nobleman, who married a lady of the household of the queen of George II. of England, obtained a grant for thirty thousand acres of land on Cumberland Bay, and just before the Revolution he settled there. When the war broke out he sent his family to Montreal, and soon afterward his splendid mansion, which stood where the Plattsburgh Hotel now is, and his mills, three miles distant, were burned. He had remained to look after his property, and it is supposed that he was murdered for his riches, and his house plundered and destroyed. In 1783 some Canadian and Nova Scotia refugees, under Lieutenant (afterward Major-general) Mooers,23 who were stationed on the Hudson near Newburgh, left Fishkill Landing in a boat, and, proceeding by the way of Lakes George and Champlain, landed and commenced the first permanent settlement in that neighborhood, within seven or eight miles of the present village of Plattsburgh. Judge Zephaniah Platt and others formed a company, after the war, to purchase military land-warrants, and they located their lands on Cumberland Bay, and organized the town of Plattsburgh in 1785. Such is its only connection with the history of our Revolution. It is a conspicuous point, however, in the history of our war with Great Britain commenced in 1812, for it is memorable as the place where one of the severest engagements of that contest took place, on the 11th of September, 1814, between the combined naval and military forces of the Americans and British. General Macomb commanded the land, and Commodore M‘Donough the naval forces of the former, and General Prevost and Commodore Downie 24 those of the latter. The engagements on the land and water were simultaneous, and for some time the issue was doubtful. The Americans, however, were successful. When the flag of the British commodore’s ship was struck, the enemy on land, disheartened and confused, retreated across the Saranac, and the carnage ceased. The loss of the Americans was about one hundred and fifty; that of the enemy, in killed, wounded, prisoners, and deserters, more than one thousand.
I passed a considerable portion of the afternoon with General St. John B. L. Skinner, who was a volunteer under Macomb in the battle. He was a member of a company of young men and boys of the village, who, after the military had gone out on the Chazy road, organized and offered their services to the commander-in-chief. They were accepted, and the brave youths were immediately armed with rifles and ordered to the headquarters of General Mooers. Only three of the company were over eighteen years old, and not one of them was killed, though for a long time they were exposed to a hot fire while occupying a mill upon the Saranac and keeping the enemy at bay. General Skinner’s beautiful mansion and gardens are upon the lake shore, and from an upper piazza we had a fine view of the whole scene of the naval engagement, from Cumberland Head on the north to Valcour’s Island on the south, including in the far distance eastward the blue lines of the northern range of the Green Mountains. The bay in which the battle occurred is magnificent, fringed with deep forests and waving grain-fields. A substantial stone break-water defends the harbor from the rude waves which an easterly wind rolls in, and the village is very pleasantly situated upon a gravelly plain on each side of the Saranac River.
A short distance from the village of Plattsburgh are the remains of the cantonments and breast-works occupied by Macomb and his forces; and to the kind courtesy of General Skinner, who accompanied me to these relics of the war, I am indebted for many interesting details in relation to that memorable battle.25 But as these have no necessary connection with our subject, on account of their remoteness from the time of the Revolution, I will bid adieu to Plattsburgh, for the evening is far gone, the lights of the "Burlington" are sparkling upon the waters near Valcour’s Island, and the coachman at the hotel front is hurrying us with his loud "All aboard!"
It was nearly midnight when we passed the light on Cumberland head,26 and we reached Rouse’s Point, the last landing-place on the lake within "the States," between one and two in the morning, where we remained until daylight, for the channel here, down the outlet of the lake, is so narrow and sinuous that the navigation is difficult in the night. On a low point a little northward of the landing the United States government commenced building a fort in 1815, and, after expending about two hundred thousand dollars, it was discovered that the ground was British soil. The work was abandoned, and so remained until the conclusion of the treaty formed by Daniel Webster and Lord Ashburton in 1842, when the territorial line was run a little north of the fort. It is now in course of completion.
ISLE AUX NOIX, IN THE SOREL.27
The morning on which we left Rouse’s Point[August 8, 1848.] was clear and calm. A slight mist lay upon the water, and over the flat shores of the Richelieu or Sorel River, which we had entered, a thin vapor, like a gauze veil, was spread out. We watched with interest for the line of separation between the territories. It was about four o’clock in the morning, when we crossed it, twenty-three miles south of St. John’s, and so became "foreigners." A broad stripe like a meadow-swathe, running east and west, cut in the dwarf forest upon either side, denotes the landmark of dominion, and by a single revolution of the paddle-wheel we passed from the waters of our republic to those of the British realm. In less than an hour we were at the landing-place on Isle Aux Noix, a small low island in the Sorel, strongly fortified by the British as one of their most important outposts in the direction of the United States. This island is all clustered with historic associations. While the fussy custom-house officer and his attendants are boarding our boat, let us look into the mirror of retrospection.
When the French settlement at Chimney Point was broken up on the approach of General Amherst, in 1759, the people fled down the lake, and, landing upon this island, fortified it. The walnut and hazel abounded there, and they gave it a name significant of this fact. Commanding, as it does, completely the outlet of Lake Champlain, the importance of its position, in a military view, was at once appreciated. But the French held possession only a few months, for in the spring of 1760 they were driven from it by Amherst in his march toward Montreal. After the treaty of Paris in 1763, the necessity for a garrison upon Isle Aux Noix no longer existed, and the fortifications were allowed to crumble into ruins.
In the autumn of 1775 the island was occupied by the Americans, under General Schuyler. With a considerable force, destined to invade Canada, he sailed down the lake and appeared before St. John’s[September 6, 1775.]. Informed that the garrison there was too strong for him, he returned to Isle Aux Noix and fortified it. From this post he sent out a declaration among the Canadians, by Colonel Allen and Major Brown, assuring them that the Americans intended to act only against the British forts, and not to interfere with the people or their religion.
Early in October the Americans, under General Montgomery (Schuyler being ill), left the island and proceeded to St. John’s, whence they marched victoriously to Quebec. From that time until the close of the Revolution no permanent garrison was established there, but the island was the halting-place for the troops of both parties when passing up and down the lake. It was the principal scene of the negotiations between some of the leading men of Vermont and British officers, which were so adroitly managed by the former as to keep an English army of ten thousand men quite inactive on our northern frontier for about three years.28 The British strongly fortified it in 1813, and it has been constantly garrisoned since.
We arrived at St. John’s, on the Richelieu or Sorel River, between six and seven o’clock in the morning, where our luggage was overhauled by the custom-house officer, who was received on board at Isle Aux Noix. The operation was neither long nor vexatious, and seemed to be rather a matter of legal form than induced by a desire or expectation of detecting contraband articles. In fact, the polite government functionary seemed to have great faith in mere assertions, and to rely more upon physiognomy than personal inspection of the luggage for assurance that her majesty’s revenue laws were inviolate. He looked every trunk-owner full in the face when he queried about the nature of his baggage, and only two persons were obliged to produce their keys for his satisfaction. Our trunk was of prodigious size and weight, and made him very properly suspicious of the truth of my allegations that its contents were only articles for personal use. A descendant of Abraham at my elbow, with nothing but a rotund bandana handkerchief, appeared to be my scape-goat on the occasion, for while the officer was making him untie its hard knots, he ordered my luggage to pass. I was told that the word of a poor Jew is never believed by the uncircumcised Gentile who "sits at the receipt of customs;" but in this instance his incredulity was rebuked, for the Israelite’s bundle contained nothing but a tolerably clean shirt, a cravat, and a small Hebrew Bible. At eight o’clock my companion and our luggage proceeded by rail-road by way of La Prairie to Montreal, while I prepared to journey to the same city in a light wagon by way of Chambly and Longueuil.
MILITARY ESTABLISHMENT AT ST. JOHN’S.29
St. John’s is pleasantly situated upon the western side of the Sorel, at the termination of steam-boat navigation on Lake Champlain, and near the head of Chambly Rapids. It has always been a place of considerable importance as a frontier town since the Revolution, although its growth has been slow, the population now[1848.] amounting to not quite four thousand. The country on both sides of the river here is perfectly flat, and there is no place whence the town may be seen to advantage. A little south of the village, and directly upon the shore, is a strong military establishment, garrisoned, when we visited it, by three companies of Highland infantry. Accompanied by an intelligent young gentleman of the village as guide, I visited all the points of historic interest in the vicinity. We crossed the deep, sluggish river in a light zinc shallop, and from the middle of the stream we obtained a fine view of the long bridge 30 which connects St. John’s with St. Athenaise on the opposite shore, where the steep roof and lofty glittering spire of the French church towered above the trees. 31 After visiting the remains of Montgomery’s block-house, we recrossed the river and rambled among the high mounds which compose the ruins of old Fort St. John’s. They occupy a broad area in the open fields behind the present military works. The embankments, covered with a rich green sward, averaged about twelve feet in height, and the whole were surrounded by a ditch with considerable water in it. We lingered half an hour to view a drill of the garrison, and then returned to the village to prepare for a pleasant ride to Chambly, twelve miles distant.
Military works were thrown up at St. John’s by the French, under Montcalm, in 1758, and these were enlarged and strengthened by Governor Carleton at the beginning of our Revolution. Here, as we have seen, the first organized American flotilla, under Arnold, made a regular assault upon British vessels and fortifications, and aroused Sir Guy Carleton to a sense of the imminent danger of Montreal and Quebec. Here too was the scene of the first regular siege of a British fort by the rebellious colonists. In September, 1775[September 6.], the Americans, as we have already noticed, sailed down the Richelieu and appeared before St. John’s. They were fired upon by the English garrison when about two miles distant, but without effect. They landed within about a mile and a half of the fort, and, while marching slowly toward the outworks, a small party of Indians attacked them and produced some confusion. In the evening General Schuyler was informed, by a man who appeared to be friendly and intelligent, that, with the exception of only fifty men retained in Montreal by General Carleton, the whole regular British force in Canada was in the garrison at St. John’s; that this and the fort at Chambly were strongly fortified and well supplied; that one hundred Indians were in the fort at St. John’s, and that another large body, under Colonel John Johnson, was hovering near; that a sixteen gun vessel was about ready to weigh anchor at St. John’s; and that not a single Canadian could be induced to join the insurgent standard. The informer was doubtless an enemy to the Americans, for his assertions were afterward proved to be untrue. General Schuyler, however, gave credence to them, and returned with his troops to Isle Aux Noix, where illness obliged him to leave the army in charge of Montgomery, and retire to the healthier post of Ticonderoga. Thence he soon went to Albany, and, his health being partially restored, he was active in forwarding re-enforcements to Isle Aux Noix.
Montgomery, with more impetuosity and less caution than Schuyler, determined to push forward at once, for the season was near when military operations there would be difficult. About this time a small train of artillery and a re-enforcement arrived, and he made vigorous preparations to invade Canada. Before leaving the island, a chevaux-de-frise was thrown across the channel to intercept the progress of Carleton’s vessels up the lake. On the seventeenth[September, 1775.] his whole force was landed on the west side of the Richelieu. On the eighteenth he led a corps of five hundred men, in person, to the north side of the fort, where the village now is. There he met a detachment from the garrison, which had just repulsed and pursued a small party of Americans under Major Brown, and a short skirmish ensued. Two field pieces and the whole detachment would doubtless have been trophies for the Americans had they been true to themselves; but here that insubordination which gave Montgomery so much trouble was strongly manifested, and caution, secrecy, and concert of action were out of the question. 32 Montgomery pushed on a little further northwest, and, at the junction of the roads running respectively to Montreal and Chambly, formed an intrenched camp of three hundred men to cut off supplies for the enemy from the interior, and then hastened back to his camp to bring up his artillery to bear upon the walls of the fort. The supplies for a siege were very meager. The artillery was too light, the mortars were defective, the ammunition scarce, and the artillerists unpracticed in their duties. The ground was wet and swampy, and in many places closely studded with trees. In a day or two disease began to appear among the troops, and, in consequence of their privations, disaffection was working mischief in the army. To escape these unfavorable circumstances, Montgomery proposed to move to the northwest side of the fort, where the ground was firm and water wholesome, and commence preparations for an assault. But the troops, unused to military restraint, and judging for themselves that an attack would be unsuccessful, refused to second the plan of their leader. Unable to punish them or convince them of their error, Montgomery yielded to the pressure of circumstances, and so far gratified the mutinous regiments as to call a council of war. It resulted, as was expected, in a decision against his plan. Disorder continually reigned in the American camp. Irregular firing occurred almost daily, and the enemy threw some bombs, but it was a waste of ammunition by both parties. At length the proposed plan of Montgomery was adopted, and the camp was moved [October 7, 1775.] to the higher ground northwest of the fort, where breast-works were thrown up. While the main army was thus circumvallating St. John’s, but, for want of ammunition and heavy guns, unable to breach the walls, small detachments of Americans, who were joined by many friendly Canadians, were active in the vicinity. One, under Ethan Allen, attempted the capture of Montreal. Of this foolish expedition I shall hereafter write.
FORT AT CHAMBLY.33
But another, and a successful one, was undertaken, which hastened the termination of the siege of St. John’s. Carleton, supposing that the fort at Chambly, twelve miles northward, could not be reached by the Americans unless the one at St. John’s was captured, had neglected to arm it, and kept but a feeble garrison there. Montgomery was informed of this by Canadian scouts, and immediately sent Colonel Bedell of New Hampshire, Major Brown of Massachusetts, and Major Livingston of New York, with detachments, to capture the fort. The method of attack was planned by Canadians familiar with the place. Artillery was placed upon bateaux, and during a dark night was conveyed past the fort at St. John’s to the head of Chambly Rapids, where it was mounted on carriages and taken to the point of attack. The garrison made but a feeble resistance, and soon surrendered. This was a most important event, for it furnished Montgomery with means to carry on the siege of St. John’s vigorously.34 The large quantity of ammunition that was captured was sent immediately to the besiegers, who, by vigorous exertions, erected a strong battery within two hundred and fifty yards of the fort. A strong block-house was also erected before it, on the opposite side of the river [October 30.]. The former was mounted with four guns and six mortars, and the latter had one gun and two mortars.
While these preparations were in progress, Carleton, informed of the capture of Fort Chambly, left Montreal with a re-enforcement for the garrison at St. John’s. He embarked upon the St. Lawrence in bateaux and flat-boats, and attempted to land at Longueuil, a mile and a half below the city. Colonel Seth Warner, with three hundred Green Mountain Boys, was on the alert in the neighborhood, and lay in covert near the spot where Carleton was about to land. He allowed the boats to get very near the shore, when he opened a terrible storm of grape-shot upon them from a four pound cannon, which drove them across the river precipitately and in great confusion. The tidings of this event reached Montgomery toward evening[November 1, 1775.], and Colonel Warner soon afterward came in with several prisoners captured from one of Carleton’s boats that reached the shore. The commander-in-chief immediately sent a flag and letter to Major Preston, the commandant of the garrison, by one of Warner’s prisoners, informing him of the defeat of Carleton, and demanding a surrender of the fortress to prevent further effusion of blood. Hostilities ceased for the night, and in the morning Preston asked for a delay of four days before he should make proposals to surrender. The request was denied and the demand renewed. There was no alternative, and the garrison surrendered prisoners of war. The siege had continued six weeks, and the bravery and perseverance of the British troops were such, that Montgomery granted them honorable terms. They marched out of the fort with the honors of war, and the troops grounded their arms on the plain near by [November 3.]. The officers were allowed to keep their side-arms, and their fire-arms were reserved for them. Canadian gentlemen and others at St. John’s were considered a part of the garrison. The whole number of troops amounted to about five hundred regulars and one hundred Canadian volunteers. 35 The Continental troops took possession of the fort, and Montgomery proposed to push on to Montreal.
Insubordination again raised its hydra-head in the American camp. The cold season was near at hand, and the raw troops, unused to privations of the field, yearned for home, and refused, at first, to be led further away. But the kind temper, patriotic zeal, and winning eloquence of Montgomery, and a promise on his part that, Montreal in his possession, no further service would be exacted from them, won them to obedience, and all but a small garrison for the fort pressed onward toward the city.36
ST. JOHN’S, ON THE RICHELIEU OR SOREL.
From a drawing by Captain Aubrey, who assisted at its capture in 1776.
The fort at St. John’s remained in possession of the Americans until the latter part of May, 1776, when they were completely driven out of Canada. Arnold and Sullivan, with their detachments, were the last to leave that province. The former remained in Montreal until the last moment of safety, and then pressed on to St. John’s, with the enemy close at his heels. Two days before, he had ordered the encampment closed there, and a vessel upon the stocks to be taken apart and sent to Ticonderoga. Sullivan, who was stationed at the mouth of the Sorel, also retreated to St. John’s. The commanders wished to defend the fort against the pursuing enemy, but the troops absolutely refused to serve longer, and they all embarked, and sailed up the lake to Isle Aux Noix. When every loaded boat had left the shore, Arnold and Wilkinson, his aid, rode back two miles and discovered the enemy in rapid march under Burgoyne. They reconnoitered them a few moments, and then galloped back, stripped and shot their horses, set fire to the works at St. John’s, pushed off from shore in a small boat, and overtook the flotilla before they reached Isle Aux Noix. Having no vessels with which to pursue the Americans, Burgoyne rested at St. John’s. In the course of the autumn he returned to England.
LORD GEORGE GERMAIN.
Early in the summer of 1777 St. John’s was the theater of active preparations, on the part of the British, for the memorable campaign which terminated in the capture of Burgoyne and his whole army at Saratoga. This campaign was planned chiefly by Lord George Germain, the Secretary of War, and Burgoyne, with the approval of the king and the full sanction of the Council. Burgoyne was made commander of the expedition, and arrived at Quebec on the 6th of May[1777.]. Carleton gave him his cordial co-operation, and St. John’s was the place of general rendezvous for all the regulars, provincials, and volunteers. On the 1st of June an army of six thousand men was collected there, and, embarking in boats, sailed up the lake to Cumberland Head, where it halted to await the arrival of ammunition and stores. These collected, the whole armament moved up the lake to the north of the Bouquet, where, as already narrated, a council was held with the Indian tribes. As the rest of the story of that campaign, so disastrous to British power in America, has been told in preceding chapters, we will return to St. John’s, and pass on to Chambly.
I left St. John’s about eleven o’clock in a light wagon, accompanied by the young man who acted as guide among the old military remains. There is but little in the appearance of St. John’s to distinguish it from a large village in the States, but the moment we emerged into the country I felt that I was in a strange land. The road traverses the line of the Chambly Canal, which runs parallel with the Richelieu or Sorel River. The farm-houses are thickly planted by the roadside; so thickly that all the way from St. John’s to Chambly and Longueuil we seemed to be in a village suburb. The farms are diminutive compared with ours, averaging from fifteen to forty acres each, and hence the great number of dwellings and out-houses. They are generally small, and built of hewn logs or stone. Most of the dwellings and out-houses are whitewashed with lime, even the roofs, which gives them a very neat appearance, and forms a beautiful contrast in the landscape to the green foliage which embowers them. I was told that each house contains a consecrated broom. When a new dwelling is erected, a broom is tabooed by the priest and hung up in the dwelling by the owner, where it remains untouched, a sort of Lares or household god. Many of them have a cross erected near, as a talisman to guard the dwelling from evil. They are generally dedicated to St. Peter, the chief patron saint of the rural French Canadians. A box, with a glass door, inclosing an image of the saint, a crucifix, or some other significant object, is placed upon or within the body of the cross, and the whole is usually surmounted by a cock. A singular choice for a crest, for it is a fowl identified with St. Peter’s weakness and shame.
It was in the time of hay harvest, and men, women, and children were abroad gathering the crops. As among the peasantry of Europe and the blacks of our Southern States, the women labor regularly in the fields. They are tidily habited in thin stuff of cotton or worsted, generally dyed blue, and all of domestic manufacture. Their costume is graceful, and, sitting loosely, gives full play to the muscles, and contributes to the high health which every where abounds in the rural districts of this region. Their broad-rimmed straw hats, like the Mexican sombrero, afford ample protection against the hot sun. These also are home-made, and the manufacture of them for our markets, during the long Canadian winters, affords quite a cash revenue to most of the families. These simple people are generally uneducated, and superstition is a strong feature in their religious character. They are honest, kind-hearted, and industrious, have few wants, live frugally, and, in their way, seem to enjoy a large share of earthly happiness.
CANADIAN PEASANT GIRL.
The Richelieu has either a swift current or noisy rapids nearly the whole distance between St. John’s and Chambly. The stream is broad, and in many places deep, for it is the outlet for the whole volume of the waters of Lake Champlain into the St. Lawrence. In some places the foaming rapids produce a picturesque effect to the eye and ear, and vary the pleasure of the otherwise rather monotonous journey between the two villages.
Chambly is an old town, at the foot of the rapids, and bears evidence of thrift. A Frenchman bearing that name built a small wood fort there, which was afterward replaced by the solid stone structure picturedon page 171. The latter retained the name of the original fort, as also does the village. It is a military station at present, and, being at the head of the navigation of the Richelieu or Sorel from the St. Lawrence, has a commanding position. The river here, at the foot of the falls, expands into a circular basin about a mile and a half in diameter. The old fort is dismantled and ungarrisoned, and is now [1848.] used only for a store-house. Near it are seen the remains of the battery erected by Bedell, while preparing to storm the fort in 1775. I tarried at Chambly long enough only to reconnoiter and sketch the old fortress and the features of the Beloeil, the only mountain range in view, and then went to an inn to dine, a mile on the road toward Longueuil.
There I learned that a French Canadian, nearly one hundred years old, was living near. Although the sun was declining, and we had seventeen miles’ travel before us, I determined to visit the old man and sound his memory. We met him upon the road, coming toward the inn. He had just left his rake in the field, and had on a leather apron and broad-rimmed hat. He was a small, firmly-built man, apparently sixty-five years old. Conversation with him was difficult, for his dialect, professedly French, was far worse than Gascon. Still we managed to understand each other, and I gleaned from him, during our brief interview, the facts that he was born in Quebec in 1752; remembered the storming of the city by the English under Wolfe; removed to Chambly in 1770; was a spectator of the capture of the fort by a detachment from Montgomery’s army in 1775; assisted in furnishing stores for Burgoyne’s army at St. John’s in 1777; and has lived upon and cultivated the same small farm of thirty acres from that time until the present. He was ninety-six years old, and appeared to have stamina sufficient for twenty years more of active life. He seemed to be a simple-hearted creature, ignorant of the world beyond the Richelieu and the adjacent village, and could not comprehend my movements while sketching his honest countenance. He was delighted, however, when he saw the outlines of an old man’s face, and knew them to be his own; and when I presented him with a silver coin, he laughed like a pleased child. But when the young man who accompanied me, with intended generosity, offered him a glass of brandy, his eyes sparkled with indignation, and in his bad French he uttered an emphatic refusal. He had signed the temperance pledge a year before, and he felt insulted by the seeming attempt to win him from his allegiance. Glorious old convert, and firm old preacher of principle in the very den of the fierce lion, for decanters were at his elbow, and a friendly hand proffered the contents to his lips! A vow of total abstinence from intoxicating drinks at the age of ninety-five! For that I pressed the hard hand of FRANCOIS YEST with a firmer grasp when I bade him adieu.
A THUNDER-STRUCK ROCK.
We had a pleasant ride from Chambly to Longueuil (seventeen miles) over a plank road. Unlike similar roads in New York, the planks were laid diagonally. They had been in use twelve years, and were but little decayed. The country all the way to the St. Lawrence is flat. The soil, though rather wet, is productive, and almost every rood of it was under cultivation. Here and there were a few groves, but no forests; and a solitary huge bowlder by the road-side, shivered by lightning, was the only rock that I saw between the Richelieu and the St. Lawrence. When within three miles of Longueuil, the glittering domes and spires of Montreal appeared in the distance like gems set in the dark mountain that formed a background beyond.
It was five o’clock when we reached Longueuil, a mile and a half below Montreal, on the opposite side of the river. There I parted from the young gentleman whose light wagon had conveyed me from St. John’s, and proceeded to Montreal on the steam ferry-boat that connects it with Longueuil. Neither cab nor omnibus was in waiting, and I was obliged to ride a mile in a rickety caleche,38 drawn by a representative of Rosinante. The vehicle, horse, driver, and ride altogether made a funny affair. The driver was a little Frenchman, with a jocky-coat and breeches, and a red tasseled skull-cap. All the way he belabored his beast with blows and curses, but the animal’s hide and ears seemed impervious. I could think of nothing but a parody on a couplet of the old song, "If I had a donkey," &c. As we wheeled up a narrow court from St. Paul’s Street to the Exchange Hotel, a merry laugh of half a furlong’s audibility rang out from a group of young ladies upon an upper piazza, and that was my first evidence that my traveling companion, Miss B----, had arrived safely, as per consignment in the morning to the care of the urbane proprietors of that excellent establishment. She had rambled through the city with pleasant company until thoroughly wearied, so I took an evening stroll alone. The day had been very warm, but the evening was cool. The stars were brilliant, yet it was too dark to see much beyond the dim forms of massy buildings, wrapped in deep shadows. But above, in the far north, a phenomenon seldom exhibited in summer was gorgeously displayed; more so than we often see it in lower latitudes in winter, and I stood an hour in the Place d’Arms, watching the ever-changing beauties of the brilliant Aurora Borealis. It is a strange sight, and well might the ignorant and superstitious of other times regard it with fearful wonder. Lomonosov, a native Russian poet, thus refers to the sublime spectacle:
"What fills with dazzling beams the illumined air?
1 Chimney Point is in the southwestern corner of Addison town, Vermont, and is the proper landing-place for those who desire to visit the ruins of Crown Point fortress, on the opposite side of the lake.
2 From Kalm’s account it appears probable that the wind-mill was upon the shore opposite, at the point where now may be seen the ruins of what is called the Grenadiers’ Battery. He says it was "within one or two musket-shots of Fort St. Frederic," a fortification immediately on the shore opposite Chimney Point.
3 This view is taken from the green in front of the inn at Chimney Point, looking west-southwest. The first land seen across the lake is Crown Point, with the remaining barracks and other works of the fortress, and the dwellings and outhouses of Mr. Baker, a resident farmer. Beyond the point is Bulwaggy Bay, a broad, deep estuary much wider than the lake at Chimney Point. Beyond the bay, and rising from its western shore, is Bulwaggy Mountain, varying in perpendicular height from four to nine hundred feet, and distant from the fort between one and two miles. A little to the right of the larger tree on the shore is the site of Fort St. Frederic, and at the edge of the circle on the left, along the same shore, is the locality of the Grenadiers’ Battery. The wharf and bridge in the foreground form the steam-boat and ferry landing at Chimney Point.
4 There were four large buildings used for barracks within the fort, the walls or chimneys of which were built of limestone. One of them has been entirely removed, and another, two hundred and eighty-seven feet long, is almost demolished. Portions of it are seen on the left, in the foreground of the picture. The walls of the other two – one, one hundred and ninety-two, and the other two hundred and sixteen feet long, and two stories high – are quite perfect, and one of them was roofed and inhabited until within two or three years. At each end, and between these barracks, are seen the remains of the ramparts. The view is from the northwestern angle of the fort, a little south of the remains of the western range of barracks, and looking southeast. The hills in the distance are the Green Mountains on the left, and the nearer range called Snake Mountain, on the right.
5 This is pronounced O Noo-ah.
6 For the campaign of 1759 the Legislature of New York authorized the levy of two thousand six hundred and eighty men, and issued the sum of five hundred thousand dollars in bills of credit, bearing interest, and redeemable in 1768 by the proceeds of an annual tax.
7 See Thompson’s pretty fiction, "May Martin, or the Money-diggers."
8 Seth Warner was born in Woodbury, Connecticut, about 1744. He moved to Bennington, Vermont, in 1773, and was noted for his skill in hunting. He and Ethan Allen were the leaders of the people of the New Hampshire Grants in their controversy with New York, and on the 9th of March, 1774, the Legislature of the latter province passed an act of outlawry against them. After the capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, he received a colonel’s commission from the Continental Congress, and joined Montgomery in Canada. His regiment was discharged at St. John’s, and, after the death of his general, he raised another body of troops and marched to Quebec. He covered the retreat of the Americans from Canada to Ticonderoga, was with the troops when they evacuated that post in 1777, and commanded the rear-guard that fought a severe battle at Hubbardton. He was one of General Starks’s aids at the battle of Bennington, and then joined the army under Gates at Stillwater. His health soon afterward gave way, and he died at Woodbury in 1785, aged forty-one years. The state of Vermont gave his widow and children a valuable tract of land. – Allen’s American Biography.
9 On the day when Allen captured Ticonderoga, he sent a message to Captain Remember Baker, one of his colleagues in the violent boundary disputes between the New Yorkers and the people of the New Hampshire Grants, to join him at that post. Baker obeyed the summons, and when he was coming up the lake with his party, he met two small boats with British soldiers, going to St. John’s with the intelligence of the reduction of Ticonderoga, and to solicit a re-enforcement of the garrison at Crown Point. Baker seized the boats, and with his prisoners arrived at the fort just in time to join Warner in taking possession of it. – Sparks’s Life of Ethan Allen.
10 The Assembly of New York was embarrassed when Allen and Warner appeared at the door of its hall and asked for admission, and a warm debate ensued. During the then recent controversy of the Legislature of New York with the people of the New Hampshire Grants, these men had been proclaimed outlaws, and that attainder had never been wiped off by a repeal. There were members of that body who had taken a very active part, personally, in the controversy, and they were unwilling to give their old enemies a friendly greeting. Their prejudices, and the scruples of others who could not recognize the propriety of holding public conference with men whom the law of the land had declared to be rioters and felons, produced a strong opposition to their admission to the hail. The debates were becoming very warm, when Captain Sears (the noted "King Sears") moved that "Ethan Allen be admitted to the floor of the House." It was carried by a very large majority, as was also a similar resolution in regard to Warner. Allen afterward wrote a letter of thanks to the New York Assembly, in which, after referring to the formation of the battalion of Green Mountain Boys, he concluded by saying, "I will be responsible that they will reciprocate this favor by boldly hazarding their lives, if need be, in the common cause of America."
11 Thomas and John Penn, son and grandson of William Penn, then the proprietaries of Pennsylvania and Delaware, entered a protest against the boundary section of this bill, because it contemplated an encroachment upon their territory. Burke, who was then the agent of the colony of New York, also opposed this section of the bill for the same reason, in behalf of his principal. The letter of that statesman to the Assembly of New York on the subject is published among the Collections of the New York Historical Society, and is said to be the only one known to be extant of all those which he wrote to that body.
12 Governor Carleton asserted, on oath, before a committee of Parliament, that there were then only about three hundred and sixty Protestants in Canada, while the Roman Catholics numbered one hundred and fifty thousand.
13 The above engraving is an exact copy, reduced, of a caricature which I found in the possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society at Boston, entitled "Virtual Representation." On the back of it, apparently in the hand-writing of the time, is the following:
"A full explanation of the within print. – No. 1 intends the K--g of G. B., to whom the House of Commons (4) gives the Americans’ money for the use of that very H. of C., and which he is endeavoring to take away with the power of cannon. No. 2, by a Frenchman, signifies the tyranny that is intended for America. No. 3, the figure of a Roman Catholic priest with his crucifix and gibbet, assisting George in enforcing his tyrannical system of civil and religious government. Nos. 5 and 6 are honest American yeomen, who oppose an oaken staff to G-----’s cannon, and determine they will not be robbed. No. 7 is poor Britannia blindfolded, falling into the bottomless pit which her infamous rulers have prepared for the Americans. Nos. 8, 9 represent Boston in flames and Quebec triumphant, to show the probable consequence of submission to the present wicked ministerial system, that popery and tyranny will triumph over true religion, virtue, and liberty.
"N. B. Perhaps this may remind the Bostonians of the invincible attachment of the Numantines * to their liberty," &c.
* The Numantines inhabited a city on the banks of the Douro, in Spain. Twenty years they were besieged by the Romans, until at length the younger Scipio Africanus entered their city (one hundred and thirty-three years B. C., and twelve years after the destruction of Carthage). The Numantines, seeing all hope gone, set fire to their city and perished in the flames rather than become slaves to their oppressors.
14 Their time of service was limited to the continuance of the disturbances; each soldier was to receive two hundred acres of land in any province in North America he might choose; the king paid himself the accustomed duties upon the acquisition of lands; for twenty years new proprietors were to be exempted from all contribution for the benefit of the crown; every married soldier obtained other fifty acres, in consideration of his wife, and fifty more for account of each of his children, with the same privilege and exemptions, besides the bounty of a guinea at the time of enlistment. – Botta, vol. i., p. 220.
15 The employment of Indians by the British ministry, in this campaign, has been excused upon the lame plea, which has not the shadow of truth, that, unless they were thus employed, the Americans would have mustered them into their service. – See Knight’s Pictorial England, vol. v., p. 306.
16 The old chief spoke truly. They had been "tempted by the Bostonians," but not by the Boston patriots. General Gage, then governor of Massachusetts, and other loyalists in Boston, sent emissaries among the Indians in various ways, and these were the tempters which the old chief confounded with the enemies of the crown. I shall have occasion hereafter to speak ofConnelly, one of Gage’s emissaries, who went to Virginia, and, under the auspices of Lord Dunmore, carried promises and money to the Indians on the frontier, to instigate them to fall upon the defenseless republicans of that stanch Whig state.
17 So interpreted by Burgoyne in his "State of the Expedition," &c.
18 Ira Allen was born in Salisbury, Connecticut, in 1752. He went to Vermont in early life, and became one of the most active citizens of that state, particularly in the controversy between Vermont and New York respecting the territory called the New Hampshire Grants. It is said that when the Revolution broke out he sided with the crown and went to Canada. His stanch Whig brother, Ethan, indignant at his choice, recommended the Vermont Assembly to confiscate his brother’s property. Ira heard of it, and challenged Ethan to fight a duel. Ethan refused, on the ground that it would be "disgraceful to fight a Tory," and so the matter ended. Ira finally became a warm republican, and was active during the remainder of the war. He was a member of the Convention which formed the Constitution of Vermont, and became the first secretary of the state. He was afterward treasurer, member of the council, and surveyor general. He rose to the rank of major general of militia, and in 1795 he went to Europe to purchase arms for the supply of his state. Returning with several thousand muskets and some cannon, he was captured by an English vessel and carried to England, where he was accused of supplying the Irish rebels with arms. A litigation for eight years, in the Court of Admiralty, was the consequence, but a final decision was in his favor. He died at Philadelphia, January 7th, 1814, aged 62 years.
19 This sketch was made from the pilot’s room of the steam-boat just after leaving Port Jackson. On the left is a point of the main land, and on the right is seen a portion of Valcour’s Island. The high ground in the extreme distance, on the left, is Cumberland Head, and that dimly seen in the center of the picture is the Vermont shore.
20 Sparks’s Life of Arnold.
21 Among the prisoners was Joseph Bettys, afterward the notorious outlaw and bitter Tory, better known as "Joe Bettys." He was a native of Saratoga county, and joined the Whigs on the breaking out of the Revolution. While a captive in Canada, after the battle on Lake Champlain, he was induced to join the royal standard, and was made an ensign. He became notorious as a spy, and, having been caught by the Americans, he was at one time conducted to the gallows. At the instance of his aged parents, Washington granted him a reprieve on condition of his thoroughly reforming. But he immediately joined the enemy again, and for a long time his cold-blooded murders, his plunder and incendiarism made him the terror of the whole region in the neighborhood of Albany. At last he was captured (1782), and was executed as a spy and traitor, at Albany.
22 It is related that while Carleton was at Ticonderoga, Arnold ventured in the neighborhood in a small boat. He was seen and chased by young Pellew (afterward Lord Exmouth), and so rapidly did his pursuers gain upon him, that he ran his boat ashore and leaped on land, leaving his stock and buckle behind him. It is said that the stock and buckle are still in possession of the Pellew family. – See Ostler’s Life of Admiral Viscount Exmouth.
23 Benjamin Mooers served as a lieutenant and adjutant in the Revolution. He commanded the militia in the battle of Plattsburgh in 1814. For thirty years he was county treasurer, and often represented his county in the Assembly and Senate of New York. He died in February, 1838.
24 Commodore Downie was slain in the battle and buried at Plattsburgh. His sister-in-law, Mary Downie, erected a plain monument to his memory over his remains.
25 General S. mentioned one or two circumstances connected with the naval engagement worth recording. He says that, when the fleet of the enemy rounded Cumberland Head, M‘Donough assembled his men on board his ship (Saratoga) on the quarter-deck. He then knelt, and, in humble, fervent supplication, commended himself, his men, and his cause to the Lord of Hosts. When he arose, the serenity of faith was upon his countenance, and seemed to shed its influence over his men. A curious incident occurred on his ship during the engagement. The hen-coop was shot away, and a cock, released from prison, flew into the rigging, and, flapping his wings, crowed out a lusty defiance to the enemy’s guns. There he remained, flapping his wings and crowing, until the engagement ceased. The seamen regarded the event as encouraging, and fought like tigers while the cock cheered them on. A notice of a relic of Washington, in the possession of General S., may not be inappropriate here. It is a pouch and puff-ball, for hair-powder, which belonged to the chief several years. It is made of buckskin, and is about twelve inches long. The puff is made of cotton yarn. Mr. Gray, who was a number of years sheriff of Clinton county, readily recognized it as the one used by himself in powdering Washington’s hair, when he was a boy and attached to the general in the capacity of body servant. When La Fayette was at Burlington, in 1824, Mr. Gray went up to see him, and the veteran remembered him as the "boy Gray" in Washington’s military family.
26 On this point is situated the farm presented to Commodore M‘Donough by the Legislature of Vermont. The point is connected with Grand Island, or North Hero (the largest island in the lake), by a ferry.
27 The sketch was made from the pilot’s room of the steam-boat, about half a mile above the island, looking east-northeast. The landing is a little beyond the trees on the right, where sentinels are stationed. The island is small, and wholly occupied by the military works. A broad fen extends some distance from the northern side, and the wild ducks that gather there afford fine amusement during the hunting season.
28 In 1779-80 the partial dismemberment of Vermont and its connection with New York and New Hampshire produced great bitterness of feeling, and the Legislature of the former demanded of Congress the entire separation of that state from the other states, and its admission into the confederacy upon a basis of perfect equality. The disputes ran high, and the British entertained hopes that Vermont would be so far alienated from the rebel cause, by the injustice of Congress, as to be induced to return to its allegiance to the British crown. Accordingly, in the spring of 1780, Colonel Beverly Robinson wrote to Ethan Allen from New York, making overtures to that effect. The letter was not answered, and in February, 1781, he wrote another, inclosing a copy of the first. These letters were shown to Governor Chittenden and a few others, and they concluded to make use of the circumstances for the benefit of Vermont. Allen sent both letters to Congress, and at the same time wrote to that body, urging the justice of the demand of his state. He closed his letter by saying, "I am as resolutely determined to defend the independence of Vermont as Congress is that of the United States; and, rather than fail, I will retire with the hardy Green Mountain Boys into the desolate caverns of the mountains and wage war with human nature at large." * In the mean while, some British scouting parties had captured some Vermonters, and Governor Chittenden sent Ira Allen and others to negotiate with Colonel Dundas for an exchange of prisoners. They met upon Isle Aux Noix, and there Dundas, under the direction of General Haldimand, made verbal overtures similar to the written ones of Robinson to Ethan Allen. The proposals of the British officers were received by Allen with apparent favor. Haldimand and Dundas were delighted with their skill in diplomacy, and readily acceded to the proposition of Allen not to allow hostilities on the Vermont frontier until after the next session of its Legislature. The British force, consisting of about ten thousand men, was thus kept inactive. These negotiations with the enemy excited the suspicion of the Whigs and the fears of Congress; yet with such consummate skill did Allen manage the affair, that when he reported the result of his mission to the Legislature of Vermont, where British emissaries as well as ardent Whigs were in waiting, he satisfied both parties. Soon afterward a letter from Lord George Germain to Sir Henry Clinton was intercepted and sent to Congress. It contained so much evidence of the treasonable designs of the leading men in Vermont, that Congress felt more disposed to accede to the demands of that state, and thus retain her in the Union. Peace soon afterward ensued, and Vermont was one of the United States included in the treaty. How far the designs of the Allens, of Chittenden, the Fays, and others, were really treasonable, or were measures of policy to bring Congress to terms, and prevent hostilities upon their weak frontier, can not be certainly determined. The probabilities are in favor of the ruse rather than the treason. At any rate, they should have the benefit of a doubt, and a verdict of acquittal of all wrong intentions.
* A convention, held at Westminster on the 15th of January, 1777, declared "That the district and territory comprehending and usually known by the name and description of the New Hampshire Grants of right ought to be and is declared forever hereafter to be a free and independent jurisdiction or state, to be forever hereafter called, known, and distinguished by the name of New Connecticut, alias VERMONT." – See Slade’s State Papers, p. 70.
29 This view is taken from the eastern side of the river, near the remains of a block-house erected by Montgomery when he besieged the fort in 1775. On the right is seen the fort, which incloses the magazine; in the center is the building occupied by the officers, on either side of which are the barracks of the soldiers. The large building on the left is the hospital, and the smaller one still further left is the dead-house. The river here is about a quarter of a mile wide. The present military works are upon the site of those of the Revolution.
30 It was built by the Honorable Robert Jones, the proprietor, and is called Jones’s Bridge.
31 This spacious church was not finished. The old one, a small wooden structure, was undisturbed within the new one, and was used for worship until the completion of the exterior of the present edifice.
32 Montgomery’s dispatch to General Schuyler
33 This is a view of the south and west sides of the fort, looking toward the river. It stands directly upon the Richelieu, at the foot of the Chambly Rapids, and at the head of the navigation of the river up from the St. Lawrence. It is strongly built of stone, and, as seen in the picture, is in a state of excellent preservation.
34 The spoils taken at Chambly. were 6 tons of powder; 80 barrels of flour; a large quantity of rice, butter, and peas; 134 barrels of pork; 300 swivel shot; 1 box of musket shot; 6364 musket cartridges; 150 stand of French arms; 3 royal mortars; 61 shells; 500 hand grenades; 83 royal fusileer’s muskets with accouterments; and rigging for 3 vessels. The prisoners consisted of 1 major, 2 captains, 3 lieutenants, captain of a schooner, a commissary and surgeon, and 83 privates. The colors of the seventh regiment of British regulars were there, and were captured. These were sent to the Continental Congress, and were the first trophies of the kind which that body received. There were a great number of women and children in the fort, and these were allowed to accompany the prisoners, who were sent with their baggage to Connecticut.
35 The spoils of victory were 17 brass ordnance, from two to twenty-four pounders; 2 eight-inch howitzers; 7 mortars; 22 iron ordnance, from three to nine pounders; a considerable quantity of shot and small shells; 800 stand of arms, and a small quantity of naval stores. The ammunition and provisions were inconsiderable, for the stock of each was nearly exhausted.
36 Armstrong’s Life of Montgomery.
37 This sketch is taken from the southeast angle of old Fort Chambly, showing the rapids in the foreground. The mountain is twenty miles distant, near the Sorel. On the highest point of the range the Bishop of Nancy, a French prelate, erected a huge cross in 1843, the pedestal of which was sufficiently large to form a chapel capable of containing fifty persons. In November, 1847, during a severe thunder-gust, the lightning and wind completely demolished the cross, but spared the pedestal, and that, being white, may be seen at a great distance.
38 The caleche is a two-wheeled vehicle, much used in Lower Canada. It is similar in form to our gig, but, instead of having but one seat, there is one for the driver upon the dash-board. Four can ride comfortably in one of them. Some are made elegantly, with a folding cover to ward off the sun or rain, and they are a pleasant vehicle to ride in. I found them in universal use in the narrow streets of Quebec. Such was the vehicle in use in Canada at the time of our Revolution, and mentioned by the Baroness Reidesel as the kind in which she and her children traveled with the British army.
Please provide me with any feedback you may have concerning errors in the transcription or any supplementary information concerning the contents. email@example.com
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids