Many interesting relics of Arnold's Expedition to Quebec have been found from time to time, along the route of its march. There follows a brief description of some of those which were actually seen by the author, or the existence of which was positively certified to him.
Philip Clare, a workman' for Augustus J. P. Dudley, working on a dam at Ledge Falls, near Eustis, in 1895, unearthed in a heap of muck from the bottom of the river an old bayonet; undoubtedly this was one of Arnold's.
I was shown by Charles Spirins, who has opened a farm at the first of the second chain of ponds, an ax-head and table knife; the handles were gone and the blade of the knife almost destroyed by rust. The ax-head was such as has now long passed out of use, and resembled an iron tomahawk. Mr. Spirins plowed them up in the field which was Arnold's camp-ground at that place.
Mr. Parsons, the proprietor of Parsons' hotel, near Bog Brook, told me that one of his men had ploughed up from under an old stump the barrel of a queen's arm with a bayonet. This was only a few years ago. I afterwards learned that the workman's name was Will Bemis, and that the relic is now in the possession of Edgar Jones, of Stratton, Maine.
Mr. Kushner, whom I met, was one of the oldest settlers of the Dead River valley, and nearly ninety years of age. He told me that he had found under an elm stump on his farm, opposite Flagstaff and not far from Kushner brook, still another bayonet. It was buried under two feet of soil. This is now in the State House at Augusta, Maine.
A good many years ago some boys, in swimming at Ledge or Arnold's Falls, I think the former, found one or two quarts of bullets. They were very much worn by the action of the water and so coated that until they were weighed in the hand one would have taken them for unusually round pebbles. One of these was given me at Eustis.
As I was passing with my guide over the rocks at Ledge Falls, to get a good point of view for my camera, I saw him stoop and pick up something which resembled a bit of an old glass bottle. It proved to be the flint of a flintlock gun. It was in a path across a ledge, which was almost bare of earth, though patched here and there with moss. A path had been worn across the ledge by log drivers, and the flint bore marks upon it as if it had been turned up by some driver's cogs. Of course it is presumptuous to claim that this was a relic of Arnold's Expedition; still flint is an enduring substance, and this piece may have lain on the ledge undisturbed for one hundred and twenty years, or have been washed up by the water more recently during some unusual flood. It was customary to carry large packages of these flints among the army supplies. It is to be borne in mind, too, that at Ledge Falls the army met with its greatest loss of provisions and ammunition.
With regard to the bateaux, I heard as I passed up the Dead River that several men of that region and of the present generation claim that certain of these bateaux are still to be seen on the bottom of the lakes, or at the bottom of the Arnold River. I was on the lookout, therefore, to trace this story. On Lake Megantic I met a young fellow named Fred Braddock, who, without any leading questions from me, told me the following story. He said that his father, Charles E. Braddock, who used often to follow the old whisky trail over Louise Mountain to Hathan bog, had often told him that he had found a boat there, which he believed was one of Arnold's bateaux; that he had described the boat as not very large and too old to be of any service, and stated that it was bound with brass nails and staples of a design and character which made him certain that it must be very old. He told me that William Latty, a guide at Three Rivers, could tell me more about it, for he himself had seen the boat. I was unable to find Latty in the short time I had at Three Rivers. The tradition had grown somewhat in definiteness at Three Rivers, and people said that two or three of these bateaux had recently been seen in the Arnold River. If they were under water where the wood would of course withstand decay much longer.
From a letter reprinted in the edition of Henry's Journal published by Munsell, we learn that during the survey of the boundary between Maine and Canada in 1844, one of the engineers, while crossing the swampy highlands, observed at one point a hollow sound where he struck his Jacob's staff into the soil. On scraping away the moss he discovered an entire bateau, built of sawed wood, such as was not indigenous to that locality. It is more than probable that this was one of the bateaux abandoned by Arnold's men on the trail across the divide.
In the fall of 1858 a young man passing up the Dead River valley and across the chain of ponds (the head of the river), landing at the Arnold trails, found beside the trail between the Dead River waters and the Chaudiére, the remains of an old musket, apparently having been left standing beside a tree, where it had rotted down. The stock was entirely gone and the barrel and mountings had fallen down together at the foot of the tree. It is conjectured that the musket had been left there by one of Arnold's soldiers, and the barrel is now in possession of Mr. Columbus Steward, of North Anson, Maine. The following appeared in the "Maine Farmer" in 1877: "A Centennial Relic. - Mr. Sheppard Harville, of Lincolnville, has in his possession a French rifle gun-barrel, that he found over thirty years ago on the Dead River at the foot of Arnold's Falls, so called from the fact of its being on the route that Arnold marched with his army through the wilderness to Point Levi, Quebec. Mr. Harville, then of Solon, Charles Folsom and others of Skowhegan, Hartley Green and Ara Green were the boatmen on the drive near where this gunbarrel was found by Mr. Harville. When discovered by him on the trail near the falls it was resting against a rock. The stock had entirely rotted off, and it is supposed to have been left there by one of Arnold's men one hundred years ago last September."
The "Maine Standard," a paper formerly published at Augusta, Maine, contained in its issue of June 28, 1867, the account of a curious discovery made by the workmen in the machine shop of the Edwards cotton mill in that city. In sawing lengthwise a piece of thick lumber, taken from the body of a large rock-maple tree, the saw encountered, near the middle of the log, a pine spile, which it cut off in its progress, and on opening the parts thus sundered, the spile was withdrawn, and the hole found to contain a small bit of paper, carefully folded and plugged up. On opening the paper the following words were recorded:
J. B. DUNKIRK
"J. B. Dunkirk" was doubtless one of Arnold's soldiers or officers, who had the curiosity to bore a hole into a rock-maple tree, deposit his name therein, and confine it there on the doubtful chance of its being brought to light again by some future generation. The tree had grown over the spile eight inches in thickness, and was perfectly sound and solid that distance to the bark. The number of rings in the wood, answering each to a year's growth, as counted by one of the workmen, was about ninety. The paper is coarse and white-old-fashioned hand-paper - and the words upon it appear to have been written, not in ink, but with a lead pencil. This, perhaps, will account for their preservation.
The lumber from the tree in which the paper was inserted was purchased of Mr. Columbus Howard of Sidney. Probably the tree grew in that town, which is next above Augusta, on the west side of the river. The interesting relic was deposited among the cabinet of curiosities and antiquities at the State Capitol in Augusta.