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XIV. ACCOUNT OF ARNOLD'S EXPEDITION.
COMPILED BY WILLIAM ALLEN.
Gen. Washington, in his letter to Congress, dated Sept. 21, 1775, says, “I am now to inform the honourable Congress, that, encouraged by the repeated declarations of the Canadians and Indians, and urged by their requests, I have detached Colonel Arnold with a thousand men to penetrate into Canada by way of Kennebec river, and, if possible, to make himself master of Quebec. By this manæuvre I proposed either to divert Carleton from St. Johns, which would leave a free passage to Gen. Schuyler; or, if this did not take effect, Quebec in its present defenceless state, must fall into his hands an easy prey.” At the same time he furnished Arnold with copies of a Manifesto, printed at Cambridge, that he might distribute them among the Canadians. This address to the “Inhabitants of Canada" was in Washington's name, and concludes with these words: “Let no man desert his habitation-let no one flee as before an enemy. The cause of America and of Liberty is the cause of every virtuous American citizen; whatever may be his religion or his descent, the United Colonies know no distinction, but such as slavery, corruption, and arbitrary dominion may create. Come, then, ye generous citizens, range yourselves under the standard of general Liberty—against which all the force and artifice of tyranny will never be able to prevail.”
In his instructions to Arnold, Gen. Washington charged him, and the army, to consider themselves not as inarching through
an enemy's country, but through that of friends and brethren. “Should any American soldier be so base and infamous, as to injure any Canadian in his person or property, I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require.” All disrespect also to the religion of the country was prohibited, and the strictest order enjoined.
THE EXPEDITION AGAINST QUEBEC, ACROSS THE WILDERNESS.
Soon after the commencement of the revolutionary war, Gen. Washington resolved to send a detachment of his army into Canada, through the wilderness of Maine, in order to co-operate with the troops which were to penetrate into Canada from the State of New York by lake Champlain. The detachment consisted of ten companies of musket men, belonging to New England, and three companies of riflemen, from Virginia and Pennsylvania, amounting to about eleven hundred men, each company consisting of eighty-four men, rank and file. The commander was Col. Benedict Arnold of Connecticut. The field officers were, Col. Christopher Green of Rhode Island, Col. Roger Enos, Maj. Return J. Meigs, and Maj. Timothy Bigelow. The staff consisted of Adjutant Frebecer of Denmark, Quartermaster Hyde of Massachusetts, Dr. Senter of Rhode Island, and another surgeon, and Mr. Spring, Chaplain. Matthew Ogden and Aaron Burr of New Jersey, .John McGuyer and Charles Porterfield of Virginia, volunteers. Mr. Oswald was private secretary to Arnold. The captains of the companies were, Henry Dearborn of New Hampshire, McCobb of Georgetown, Williams, Goodrich, Hubbard, and Scott of Massachusetts, Hanchett of Connecticut, Topham, Thayer, and Ward from Rhode Island; and the captains of the riflemen were Daniel Morgan of Virginia, the commander, William Hendricks of Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, and Matthew Smith of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. There was only one chaplain, Mr. Samuel Spring, a young preacher who had graduated at Princeton College in 1771. Some of the other officers were, Lieuts., Archibald Steele, Michael Simpson, F. Nichols, Humphreys,
Heath, Tisdale, Cooper; Sergeant Major, Joseph Aston, and Sergeant, Thos. Gibson, John Joseph Henry was a private soldier. 1
Of these names several are distinguished in American History. Colonel Arnold is sufficiently notorious for his attempt as a traitor to deliver the post of West Point into the hands of the enemy. Major Meigs, afterwards colonel, received a vote of thanks from Congress for the skill and valor with which he conducted the expedition against Long Island, in 1777. He was with Wayne at the capture of Stony Point, in 1779. He was afterwards one of the first settlers of Ohio, and agent for the Cherokee Indian affairs. He died at the Cherokee Agency, Jan. 28, 1823. He was the father of the late Postmaster General of the United States. Gen. Morgan's name is interwoven in the whole history of the war. Gen. Dearborn has held various high offices in our country, and in the war of 1812 made a successful descent upon Upper Canada. Col. Burr has been Vice President of the United States. Mr. Henry was president of the second judicial district in Pennsylvania, and died in 1810. Lieutenants Nichols and Simpson became, thirty or forty years afterward, generals in the militia of Pennsylvania. Chaplain Spring was the late Rev. Dr. Spring of Newburyport, an eminent minister, who died March 4, 1819, aged seventy-two years.
Major Meigs kept a short journal of occurrences from Sept. 9, 1775, to Jan. 1, 1776. There was also published in 1812, an account of this expedition, compiled from memory a few years before his death, by Judge Henry. From these accounts the facts in the following narrative are chiefly derived.
Sept, 6, 1775, orders were given to draft the men, collect provisions, and build two hundred batteaux.
Sept. 13th, in the evening, the troops of this detachment 1 Additional officers mentioned by Gen. Dearborn, May, 1826. Lieut. Hutchins, afterward a captain, now living in Fryeburg. Lieut. Andrews, now living in New Hillsboro', Hampshire, aged ninety-one. Lieut. Thomas, afterward killed in battle. Lieuts. Webb, Humphreys, (or Humptsnys,) Slocum, Shaw, of Rhode Island; Brown, Cumstock, of Massachusetts; Savage of Connecticut; Brewer of Virginia. There were two Lts. Humphreys, one of Rhode Island, and one of Virginia,
marched from Cambridge, a few miles, to Mystic or Medford ; the next day through Salem to Danvers; on the 16th, in the forenoon, they arrived at Newburyport and encamped. Major Meigs says that on Sunday, the 17th, he attended divine service at Rev. Mr. Parsons' meeting, and dined at Mr. N. Tracy's.
Tuesday, 19th. The whole detachment was embarked on board ten transports, one of them called the sloop Britannia, in the morning, and sailed out of the harbor. At 1 o'clock P. M. orders were received to sail to the Kennebec, fifty leagues distant. The wind was fair and very fresh, so that in the morning of the 20th they made the mouth of the Kennebec right ahead, and soon entered it. Being hailed by armed men from the shore, they answered that they were continental troops, and requested a pilot, who was immediately put on board. With favorable wind and tide they proceeded up the river. Five miles from the mouth was a large island called Rousack, (Arrouseag, or Arrousick,) where were several good dwelling houses and a handsome meeting house."
Twenty miles from the mouth of the river the detachment passed a large bay on the left, called Merry Meeting Bay, formed by the Androscoggin river in its junction from the west with the Kennebec; and five miles higher up they passed Swan Island, just above which they came to anchor opposite to Pownalborough, (now Dresden,) where was a block-house called Fort Pownal. It was but fourteen days since the first orders for the expedition had been given. During the 21st the troops were at Gardiner's town. At Major Colburn's ship-yard at Pittston, on the east side of the river, the vessels were abandoned, and the troops obtained batteaux, built for the purpose, in which they proceeded up the river. On the evening of the 22d, Major Meigs lodged at the house of Mr. North. Saturday, the 23d, the troops ascended the river six miles to Fort Western, a fort at Augusta, on the east bank of the Kennebec, which
1 At this place, in Georgetown, opposite Phipsborg, it is believed the late Gov. Sullivan of Massachusetts then lived, for it was here that he commenced the practice of the law. When once asked by Gen. Knox, why he selected such an obscure spot, he replied, that he knew he must break into the world, and he thought it prudent to make the attempt in a weak place.
was built in the year 1754.' On the evening of their arrival, some of the soldiers being at a private house, one of them, by the name of McCormick, being turned out of the house in a quarrel, discharged his gun into it and killed a man.
He was tried by a court-martial, and received sentence of death, but was reprieved till the pleasure of Gen. Washington could be known.
Most of the troops remained several days at Fort Western, in order to complete the necessary preparations for their arduous undertaking. Here it was resolved to send forward a small party of eight or ten men, to explore and mark the Indian paths at the carrying-places in the wilderness, and to proceed to the Chaudiere river in Canada, and ascertain its course; and then to send forward Capt. Morgan with the three companies of riflemen to the Great Carrying place as pioneers, to clear the road for other divisions of the army.
THE EXPLORING PARTY.
To the command of the small party Arnold appointed Lieut. Steele, who was active, hardy, and courageous. He selected seven men, namely, Jesse Wheeler, George Merchant, and James Clifton of Morgan's company; Robert Cunningham, Thomas Boyd, John Tidd, and John McKonkey of Smith's. Steele also selected John Joseph Henry, a youth of sixteen years, the author of the account already referred to, because he was his mess mate and friend, and was acquainted with the hardships of a wilderness. Henry was the son of W. Henry, Esq., of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, born Nov. 4, 1758. On his return from Detroit, whither he accompanied an uncle, he had become acquainted with difficulties of the same kind with those which
1 This fort was formed by two block-houses and a large house, one bundred feet long, the property of James Howard, Esq., the whole inclosed with pickets. One of the block-houses is now standing, a venerable memorial of Indian wars, near the covered bridge, which now stretches across the river. Judge Howard, at whose house the officers were well entertained, died in May, 1787, aged eighty-six years. He was the first commandant of the fort, and although he reached a remarkably old age, yet one of his soldiers at this fort lived to be much older; it was John Gilley, a native of Ireland, who enlisted about the year 1756, and died at Augusta, July 9, 1813, aged about one hundred and twenty-four years.