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rived from sea to the relief of the besieged. Being night, it was not till she was very near the shipping, that she was discovered to be an enemy, when a heavy fire at her commenced; the people on board, finding that they were no longer concealed, lighted the train, and in a moment she was in a blaze; her sails took fire, and checked her way; and the tide beginning to ebb, she was carried down the river. The men made their escape in boats.
General Thomas, perceiving that nothing effectual could be done by the army in its present condition, learning that they had only three days provision, and apprehensive of the danger that would take place upon the arrival of British reinforcements [May 5.] called a council of war, when it was concluded to make the best retreat in their power. The measures which immediately followed, were sufficient indications to the enemy of what was intended. It so happened, that early in the morning [May 6.] after the retreat was concluded upon, the Surprise frigate, from Great-Britain arrived, and was soon followed by the Iris of 5b guns, and the Martin sloop, with succours. They had, by the zeal and activity of the officers and crews, forced their way through the ice while the passage up the river was deemed almost impracticable. They had on board 1000 marines, and two companies of the 29th regiment, which were landed with all expedi- tson. About noon, gen. Carleton having joined them to his own troops, marched out, 800 strong, to attack the Americans, who had began their retreat before; for gen. Thomas could not hazard waiting an attack, as he was not able to collect more than about 300 men, on account of their being so scattered on Point Levi, Isle of Orleans, Beau Port and other villages. The Americans abandoned their baggage, artillery, stores and other incumbran ces. The sick got off as they could, creeping away from the hospitals, many with the small-pox full on them. The Canadians proved kind, secreted and took care of them till they were able to march off and join their comrades. Sir Guy Carleton did not take more than about 100 prisoners. The king's troops that had just arrived, were in no condition for a pursuit; but could the whole have followed with vigor, they must have taken or destroyed nearly all the American forces, for they had little ammuniti on. They retreated forty-five miles before they stopped, having marched almost the whole night. After halting a few days, they. proceeded to Sorel, in a condition not to be expressed by words; but had the satisfaction of being joined there by four regiments, that were waiting for them. Here they remained, and were reinforced by the arrival of other battalions. During this period gen, Thomas sickened by the small-pox, and died. Having ordered..
dered that the troops should not enoculate, he would not have a recourse to that precaution for his own security. The Americans have lost in him one of their best generals. He was amiable in public and private life. Contented with domestic happiness, he was not ambitious of an exalted station; but was ready to serve his country in the most hazardous situation. General Thompson commanded after. Thomas sickened, and when the latter died, the command devolved on general Sullivan, who had repaired to Canada early in May.
The Americans had for some time posted at the Cedars, a small fort forty-three miles above Montreal, a party of 390 men, under the command of col. Beadle. Capt. Foster, with a detachment of the 8th regiment, about 40, Canadians 100, and 500 Indians, but without cannon descended from the lakes, and approached toward the fort. The colonel, in a cowardly manner abandoned his command to major Butterfield, and repaired to Montreal for a reinforcemant. The major having little or no more courage than the other, surrender the fort [May 15.] without making any resistance worth noticing. Meanwhile, ma jor Henry Sherberne was detached with 140 men from Montreal; but col. Beadle, valuing safety more than fidelity or ho nor, refused to return with the reinforcement. It was the day after the surrender before major Sherburne could proceed from the lake (which he was obliged to cross) with 100 men including himself. The rest were left for guards and other services, [May 20.] About five, they were attacked by a body of about 500 Indians and Canadians, who, under cover of a wood fired upon them. The Americans maintained an obstinate engagement for an hour and forty minutes; when the Indians having surrounded them, rushed upon and disarmed them. Many of them were sacrinced to Indian fury, butchered with tomahawks and other instruments of death. They lost in the action twenty-eight killed and wounded. About twenty were afterward killed in cold blood; and seven or eight were carried off by the Indians. The prisoners were immediately stripped almost naked, drove to the fort, and delivered to capt. Foster, whose success in taking the fort was not known before the action. The enemy had twenty-two killed, among them a chief warrior of the Seneca tribe, on account of whose death the prisoners were probably treated with the grosser insult and abuse. Arnold, who had been made a brigadier gencral the beginning of January, had commanded in Montreal some time, having returned thither upon gen. Wooster's going down to Quebec. He was desirous of remedying the evil that had tak
+ Journals of Congress, vol. ii. p. 257VOL. II.
en place at the Cedars, and went forward with a party of between 8 and 900 men to the lake.. When it was discovered that the general was approaching [May 26.] and making dispositions to attack the enemy, capt. Foster took care to acquaint him, that if he would not agree to a proposed cartel, (which major Sherburne and the other officers had been required to sign and had signed) but proceeded to attack him, every man of the prisoners would be put to instant death by the Indians. Gen. Arnold was extremely averse to entering into any agreement, but was at length induced by the motive of saving the prisoners. A cartel was concluded upon and signed on the 27th, for the exchange of 2 majors, 9 captains, 20 subalterns, and 443 soldiers. It was agreed [May 27.] that four American captain should be sent to Quebec as hostages, and remain there until the prisoners are exchanged.
Let us now direct our attention to Sir Guy Carleton, who had a fresh opportunity of exercising his humanity toward the Ame ricans. That the sick, who were left behind and could not get off when the others fled from before Quedec, might not perish, he issued a proclamation, commanding the proper officers to find out and afford the unhappy persons all necessary relief at the public expence; and to render the benefit complete, and to prevent obstinacy or apprehension from marring its effect, he assured them, that upon recovering they should have free liberty of returning to their respective provinces.
Toward the end of May several regiments arrived; and the British force in Canada, when completed, was estimated at about 13,000 men. The general rendezvous was appointed to be at Three Rivers, half way between Quebec and Montreal, about 90 miles from each. The place takes its name from the viscinity of one of the branches of a large river, whose waters are discharg ed, through three mouths, into that of St. Lawrence. The British and Brunswick troops were at this time much separated. A considerable body was at Three Rivers under gen. Frazer. Ano. ther under gen. Nesbit lay near it on board the transports. A greater than either, with the generals Carleton, Burgoyne, Phillips and Reidesel, was in several divisions by land and water, on its way from Quebec. Gen. Sullivan, from the information he received, concluded upon an expedition against, as he apprehended, the British advance guard at Three Rivers, the execution of which was committed to gen. Thompson. The latter embarked at Sorel, with 1800 men, under colonels Maxwell, St. Clair and Wayne, in fifty boats, and coasting the south side of Lake St. Peter, where the St. Lawrance spreads to a great extent, arrived at Nicolet, from whence they fell down the river by night,
and passed to the other side, with an intention of surprising the forces under gen. Frazer. Three Rivers is to be considered rather as a long village than a regular town. The plan was to land nine miles above the town, so seasonably as to match down under cover of the night, and to attack it a little before day-break, (June 8.] By reason of unexpected delays, it was so long ere the troops landed, that in a few minutes the day-light appeared. They had then to make a forced march of nine miles. They hastened, ras down hill and up, and got tired. The general pushed on, having procured a Canadian guide, who was either ignorant or unfaithful; for a little before sun-rise he found his forces were too much out of the way. They returned, but lost the road on the side of the river; were soon however, in view of some of the enemy's boats, between which and the flanking party several balls were exchanged. They then quickened their pace, and continued advancing in sight of the shipping, with drum beating and fife playing, as they knew they were discovered. They soon heard the speaking trumpets sound, "land the troops-land the troops." The general judging there was no possibility of passing the ships without being exposed to all their fire; and yet determining to persist in the expedition, filed off at a right angle from the river, He meant to take a circuitous route, and enter the town on the back side. A bad morass interposed; the troops entered it; they were then about two miles from the town. A worse march, for about a mile and a half, did not offer in all Alnold's expedition, the men were almost mired. About nine o'clock they came to a cleared spot, formed and got into some order about ten. They advanced, but before the rear had got off the place of formation, the front received a heavy fire from the enemy, which struck them with terror. The fire was instantly repeated; and though the balls flew over the heads of the troops, without doing any ma❤ terial execution, they gave way and crowded back in the utmost confusion, which left them without a leader, so that every one did as he pleased. They turned their faces up the river, and has tened through the swamp as fast as possible. About eleven they began to collect, and after a while learnt from the Canadians, that the enemy had sent a detachment, with several field pieces by land, to cut off their retreat, and a party by water to seize their boats. About four they were told, that the enemy had secured the bridge before them, which it was supposed they must pass. They were also soon convinced, that a large body was close in their rear. Col. Maxwell ordered all who had collected together to halt, called the officers to him, and said, "What shali we do? Shall we fight those in the front or in the rear? or shall we tamely submit? or shall we turn off into the woods, and each
man shift for himself?" The last proposal was preferred; but the enemy was so near that the rear of the Americans was exposed to another tremendous fire while going down the hill into the woods, but the balls flew over them without injuring any. The person who was trusted with the care of the boats, had removed them in time to a secure place, so that the loss of the Americans, which must otherwise have been much greater, amounted only to about 200 prisoners. The troops that escaped, began to collect about ten the next day, and by noon were cons siderably numerous. They got along by degrees, and by sun-set the day following arrived opposite Sorel. [June 10.] General Thompson and colonel Irwin, the second in command, with some other officers, were taken. The killed and wounded of the king's troops was trifling. This attempt to surprize the British troops at Three Rivers, which may appear to have been a des perate undertaking, would scarce have been made, had it been known in time, how much they had been reinforced by fresh arrivals; and probably ought to have been abandoned the mo ment that the surprise was no longer possible.
The king's forces having joined at Three Rivers, proceeded by land and water to Sorel [June 14.] off which the fleet arrived in the evening, a few hours after the rear of the Americans had left it. A considerable body was landed, and the command of the column given to gen. Burgoyne, with instructions to pursue the continental army up the river, to St. John's, but without ha Zarding any thing till another column on his right, should be able to co-operate with him. Sir Guy's extraordinary precaution in putting nothing to the hazard, when not absolutely necessary, gave the Americans the opportunity of escaping. Had Burgoyne, been instructed to press on with the utmost expedition, great numbers of them must have been made prisoners, and but few would have crossed Lake Champlain.
Major Nathan Fuller, of col. Bond's Massachusetts regiment, was entrusted with the care of the baggage when the Americans retreated up the Sorel. It was put on board several vessels. They had a fine passage for a while, but at length were becalmed so long as to give the advance of the British an opportunity of approaching them apace. The major acquainted gen. Sullivan, who was considerably, a-head, of the dangerous situation he should soon be in. The gen. sent a hundred batteaux to bring off the men and baggage, and gave orders for burning the vessels. The major had but just time to accomplish the work, and was in some danger before it was finished. [June 15.] General Arnold, with his troops, left Montreal and crossed from the island of Longueil to the continent, in his way to Chamblee. A great part of the British