Descending the Chaudière | Arnold’s Expedition to Quebec


    About the author

    John Codman headshot.
    John Codman the 2nd

    John Codman was a sailor and writer from Dorchester, Massachusetts. A religious man, and son of a pastor, he published a number of works about his travels at sea and American history during the 19th century.



      On Saturday, November 4, the Abenaki savages, among them the dreaded Natanis and his brother Sabattis, in gorgeous finery, assembled at Colonel Arnold’s headquarters, about five miles below Sartigan, and demanded through an interpreter the intention of the Americans in coming among them in hostile manner, pretending they were unacquainted with those intentions. Among them, also, was Eneas, who with Sabattis had been despatched express from Norridgewock with letters to Quebec. After an oration delivered with much pomp and circumstance by one of the chiefs, surrounded by his followers, Arnold returned the following diplomatic, though not strictly ingenuous and truthful, reply:

      “Friends and Brethren: I feel myself very happy in meeting with so many of my brethren from the different quarters of the great country, and more so as I flnd we meet as friends, and that we are equally concerned in this expedition. Brethren, we are the children of those people who have now taken up the hatchet against us. More than one hundred years ago we were all as one family. We then differed in our religion and came over to this country by consent of the King. Our fathers bought lands of the savages and have become a great people, -even as the stars in the sky. We have planted the ground and by our labor grown rich. Now a King and his wicked great men want to take our lands and money without our consent. This we think unjust and all our great men from the River St. Lawrence to the Mississippi, met together at Philadelphia, where they all talked together, and sent a prayer to the King, that they would be brothers and fight for him, but would not give up their lands and money. The King would not hear our prayer, but sent a great army to Boston, and endeavored to set our brethren against us in Canada. The King’s army at Boston came out into the fields and houses, and killed a great many women and children, while they were peaceably at work. The Bostonians sent to their brethren in the country, and they came in unto their relief, and in six days raised an army of fifty thousand men and drove the King’s troops on board their ships, and killed and wounded fifteen hundred of their men. Since that they durst not come out of Boston. Now we hear that the French and Indians in Canada have sent to us, that the King’s troops oppress them and make them pay a great price for their rum, etc., and press them to take up arms against the Bostonians, their brethren, who have done them no hurt. By the desire of the French and Indians, our brethren, we have come to their assistance with an intent to drive out the King’s soldiers; when drove off we will return to our own country, and leave this to the peaceable enjoyment of its proper inhabitants. Now if the Indians our brethren, will join us, we will be very much obliged to them, and will give them one Portuguese per month, two dollars bounty, and find them their provisions, and their liberty to choose their own officers.

      Arnold Is speech to the chiefs had the desired effect and about forty of the Indians took their canoes and joined the force moving down the river. The Indians were quick to find a name for Arnold and called him the “Dark Eagle,” suggested, perhaps, by the cast of his features and his keen and penetrating eye. Natanis at the first interview had, according to tradition, addressed him thus: “The Dark Eagle comes to claim the wilderness. The wilderness will yield to the Dark Eagle, but the Rock will defy him. The Dark Eagle will soar aloft to the sun. Nations will behold him and sound his praises. Yet when he soars highest his fall is most certain. When his wings brush the sky then the arrow will pierce his heart.” A baleful prophecy which, delivered with the characteristic impressiveness of the Indian orator, must somewhat have dashed the spirits of the young officer.

      November 5, Arnold despatched expresses up the river to hurry on the stragglers and scattered parties. An express reached him with news that Mr. Robbisho, an express sent to Montgomery from Sartigan, was taken prisoner. This threw the people into a panic, as they heard that the English were determined to burn and destroy all the inhabitants in the vicinity of Quebec, unless they came and took up arms in defense of the garrison. The poor, innocent French-Canadian habitants in the lower Chaudière valley scarcely knew which way to turn; from the St. Lawrence came such reports of the rigorous treatment they might expect from the English, while from the upper Chaudière spread the first rumors of the arrival and of the character of the mysterious American army “vetu en tole (toile)” (clothed in mail), an allusion to the canvas frocks of the riflemen. This rumor lost no credit by what seemed, even to the hardy French voyageurs, a feat only to be accomplished by men of a race endowed with superhuman powers of strength and endurance – the passage of an army through the solitary and unbroken wilderness of the Chaudière streams and Dead River! “Surely,” said they, “God is with this people, or they could never have done what they have done.”

      Thus impressed, the Canadians received the wayworn soldiers with kindness, and saw to it that their wants were well supplied, though they were not averse to receiving fair pay for their provisions. One diarist pithily remarks, “the people are civil, but mighty extravagant with what they have to sell.” The manifesto written at Cambridge, and now freely distributed, was reassuring, and there was much fraternal spirit shown on both sides. The march of the army through that peaceful, sleepy valley was long referred to as an epoch – “the coming of les bons Bostonnais.”

      Many of the emaciated soldiers, voracious, insatiable, utterly regardless of the threats and entreaties of their officers, gorged themselves with the unlimited food provided, and several in consequence, after having fought and conquered starvation, fell victims to fevers caused by repletion, and died within a few days after reaching Sartigan. Among those who narrowly escaped death by such folly was, as he himself tells us, young Henry, whose journal we have frequently quoted. In his extremity he was found by Arnold himself, who gave him in charge of a friendly Canadian, whose care and treatment saved the young man’s life.

      The lower valley of the Chaudière is a flat and fertile country; then sprinkled at long intervals with straggling clusters of low houses, all whitewashed and for the most part thatched. Every now and then a chapel came in sight, but more frequently rude roadside crucifixes or images of the Virgin, strange sights to the orthodox New England soldiery and the Scotch Presbyterians of Pennsylvania. The river ceased to curl madly over rock and shingle, and, though still white with foam, became quieter and broader as the advancing troops left league after league behind them. After leaving Sartigan and passing the St. Francis rapids, boats, when they could be obtained, were used.

      Arnold and some of his officers reached St. Marie the 5th of November, and were entertained handsomely by Messire Gabriel Eleazar Taschereau, a seigneur of the old regime, whose domain included large tracts of farming land in that vicinity. At St. Marie Arnold received by an Indian messenger the first news he had had from General Montgomery since the expedition left Cambridge six weeks before. The news, moreover, was good, for it told of the successful advance of Montgomery’s forces into Canada and the capture of Chambly, tidings which mightily raised the spirits of the young commander on the Chaudière, who had of late found so much reason for anxiety and depression. A letter was at once despatched in reply, of which this is the substance:

      Dear Sir: – Your favor of the 29th ult. I received at 1 o’clock this morning, which gave me much pleasure. I heartily congratulate you on your success thus far. I think you had great reason to be apprehensive for me, the time I mentioned to Gen’l Washington being so long since elapsed. I was not then apprised or even apprehensive of one-half of the difficulties we had to encounter; of which I cannot at present give you a particular detail – can only say we have hauled our bateaux over falls, up rapid streams, over carrying places, and marched through morasses, thick woods, and over mountains, about 320 miles, many of which we had to pass several times to bring our baggage. These difficulties the soldiers have, with the greatest fortitude, surmounted. About two-thirds of the detachment are, happily, arrived here and within two days’ march, most of them in good health and high spirits. The other part, with Col. Enos, returned from the Dead River, contrary to my expectation, he having orders to send back only the sick and those that could not be furnished with provisions. I wrote Gen. Schuyler, the 13th of October, by an Indian I thought trusty, enclosed to my friend in Quebec; and as I have had no answer from either, and he pretends being taken at Quebec, I make no doubt he has betrayed his trust, which I am confirmed in, as I find they have been some time apprised of our coming in Quebec, and have destroyed all the canoes at Point Levi, to prevent our passing. This difficulty will be obviated by birch canoes, as we have about twenty of them with forty savages, who have joined us, and profess great friendship, as well as the Canadians, by whom we have been very friendly received, and who will be able to furnish us with a number of canoes.

      I am informed by the French, that there are two frigates and several small armed vessels lying before Quebec, and a large ship or two lately arrived from Boston. However, I propose crossing the St. Lawrence as soon as possible; and if no opportunity offers of attacking Quebec with success, shall endeavor to join your army at Montreal. I shall as often as in my power advise you of my proceedings, and beg the favor of hearing from you by every opportunity.

      I am, dear Sir, very respectfully,
      Your most ob’d’t, humble servant,
      B. ARNOLD.

      P. S. – Since writing the above, I have seen a friend from Quebec, who informs me a frigate of 26 guns and 2 transports with 150 recruits arrived from St. John’s, Newfoundland, last Sunday, which with the inhabitants, who have been compelled to take up arms, amount to about 300 men; that the French and English inhabitants in general are on our side, and that the city is short of provisions. I shall endeavor to cut off their communication with the country, and make no doubt, if no more recruits arrive, to bring them to terms soon, or at least keep them in close quarters until your arrival here, which I shall wait with impatience.

      Montgomery had reached the Isle-aux-Noix on the 10th of September – that is to say, before Arnold had left Cambridge. His army then consisted of about fourteen hundred men. These were reinforced by Colonel Livingston’s company of New Yorkers, 170 Green Mountain boys under Colonel Seth Warner, Captain Allen’s company of the same corps raised in Connecticut, about one hundred men of Colonel Bedell’s from New Hampshire, and a company of artillery under Captain Lamb. Montgomery’s whole force did not exceed eighteen hundred men. Nearly eight hundred of these up to September 26, by reason of smallpox, camp disorders, and swamp fever, contracted in the low, marshy encampment at Isle-aux-Noix, were found unfit for duty and discharged.

      On the 3d of November St. John’s was taken by this army, after a short resistance, and Montgomery without loss of time pushed on for Montreal.

      As he advanced, a few hundred Canadian rebels, under Lieutenant-Colonel James Livingston, formerly of Montreal, aided by Colonel Easton and Major John Brown, whom Montgomery had detailed for the duty, executed a flank movement, primarily directed against the British post, old Fort Pontchatrain, at Chambly, which they easily took. They pressed on from thence towards Sorel, where it was known that an energetic and enterprising Scot, one Lieutenant-Colonel Allen McLean, of the garrison of Quebec, was making great exertions to recruit a regiment from the families of those Highlanders who, after the Peace, had emigrated and settled in Canada, and from native Canadians of British descent.

      When Arnold replied to Montgomery’s letter he naturally could think of no more trusty couriers, none more familiar with the route they would have to traverse, than the very Indians who had brought the welcome news of American success. He accordingly sent them back to Montgomery, with his letter to him of November 8 from St. Marie and its enclosure to General Washington. But one of these Indians, an Indian of Lorette, who happened to be the actual bearer of the despatches, meeting with some of McLean’s men on their return journey, and not unreasonably mistaking them for friends, was conducted to Colonel McLean, to whom he delivered the letters. He and his companion were promptly secured.

      No doubt Carleton, though probably already advised of Arnold’s presence on the Dead River, by a courier from Lieutenant-Governor Cramahè, was hastened in his decision to abandon Montreal to Montgomery by a second courier, conveying the valuable information thus gained by McLean. That officer’s own determination not to await Easton at Sorel but to hasten to reinforce threatened Quebec, was beyond question the result of the unfortunate miscarriage of Arnold’s correspondence, and his presence within the city was, as we shall see, a matter of the gravest importance when the provincials at length appeared before its walls.

      From St. Marie Arnold’s army had still thirty miles to travel before reaching Point Levi – opposite Quebec on the St.Lawrence. Morning orders on the 6th were simple, – “every captain to get his company on as fast as possible.” Not so much as a minute could now be wasted with safety, if they were to reach Quebec before it was reinforced. The wretched roads were mire and snow to the bellies of the horses, which some of the officers had hired from the peasants and rode bareback, or with sacking and rope, for want of saddles. It snowed heavily, but the men’s stomachs were full, their limbs refreshed and spirits animated by four days of rest and the kindly hospitality of the Canadians, and they covered eighteen miles on the 7th, in spite of these difficulties.

      Captain Thayer was sent back to Sartigan to superintend the conveyance of the sick, but next day at St. Marie met Major Meigs, who had anticipated this duty, with ninety-six invalids. Meigs had purchased twenty canoes on his way up and down the river. A succession of rapids made the navigation of the river difficult and perilous, so with four men under each canoe, these invalids lugged their craft from St. Marie, twelve miles, along the river bank without meeting a house; then, leaving the river and following the main body eastward, they again entered the forest, through which they made the best of their way over a swampy road, without seeing another house for fifteen miles, till they reached St. Henri, and continued on from thence to Point Levi, a total carry of thirty miles.

      Snow had been falling or had lain on the ground ever since the 22d of October, and the severe Canadian winter had begun. The head of the column overtook Colonel Arnold and an advance party on the 6th; on the 7th they passed the night within nine miles of Quebec, and on the 8th – now advancing more cautiously – halted within three miles of the St. Lawrence. Here Arnold left them again, and, with a lieutenant and twenty men, went forward to reconnoiter Point Levi, which he reached about two o’clock in the morning. From the bank of the St. Lawrence, reached at last, he promptly despatched a letter to General Washington, informing him of his safe arrival before Quebec and giving substantially the same account of his movements and his prospects as was contained in the letter to General Montgomery quoted above.

      All night the troops lay upon their arms awaiting orders, but on the morning of the 9th, which dawned thick and cloudy, word that the coast was clear came back from Arnold. The whole army now advanced to Point Levi, a promontory on the St. Lawrence, about four miles east of the Falls of the Chaudière, which tumble headlong a distance of nearly one hundred and thirty-five feet into the great river below. Guards were immediately posted along the St. Lawrence, and as fast as troops came up they were assigned to quarters in farmhouses scattered along the riverside for a distance of a mile or more. By the 13th all the survivors except a few, who, like Captain Dearborn and Henry, were too ill to be moved from hospitable shelters found by the wayside, had come up.

      When the men were paraded, their appearance was both pitiful and ridiculous. With their lean forms, half clad in torn and disheveled clothing, and haggard faces unshorn for many weeks, many barefooted and bare-headed, they made a sorry spectacle Stocking says he thinks they “resembled those animals of New Spain called ourang-outangs,” and that the French peasantry, had they not been in a measure prepared by Arnold, would have fled from their habitations at the sight of such savages emerging from the forests. “Unlike the children of Israel, ‘whose clothes waxed not old’ in the wilderness, theirs hardly held together.”

      A letter written from this locality by one of its inhabitants tells us of the sensations created there by the arrival of this ragged regiment. “There are about fifteen hundred provincials arrived at Point Levi, opposite the town, by the way of the Chaudière across the woods. Surely a miracle must have been wrought in their favor. It is an undertaking above the common race of men in this debauched age. They have traveled through woods and bogs and over precipices for the space of one hundred and twenty miles, attended with every inconceivable difficulty, to be surmounted only by men of indefatigable zeal and industry.”

      No official return seems to have been attempted, but the number of men estimated fit for duty at Point Levi was about five hundred, while the invalids and non-combatants were about one hundred. This would seem not to include Natanis and his Indians.

      The number of those who perished in the terrible march from the head of Dead River to the French settlements at Sartigan is nowhere estimated with official authority, and the estimates of various survivors vary considerably. Morison, who uses figures with more exactness than most of the diarists, sets down the effectives at Point Levi at 510, and adds that seventy or eighty had died in the wilderness. This statement is probably not far from the truth. The names of only a few of these poor fellows are recorded; among them we know were Buck of Scott’s company, George Innis of Morgan’s company, John Taylor and Lieutenant McClelland of Hendricks’s company, James Warner and Michael Warner of Smith’s company, and Onley Hart.

      The River St. Lawrence, from a mill then standing about a mile to the west of Point Levi to King’s wharf, Quebec, was eleven or twelve hundred yards wide. The mill was the property of Major Henry Caldwell, of Quebec, and the Americans made a lucky seizure there of some flour and two hundred bushels of wheat. The person whom they found in charge joined them and became a commissary. The British frigate Lizard, of twenty-eight guns, which had just arrived, bringing a few marines and a timely supply of £20,000 in cash, and the Hunter, a sloop of war, were riding at anchor in the stream, while a number of merchant vessels were clustered in the harbor of Quebec. Every boat and canoe which could be reached on the south shore of the river had been wisely destroyed by the British, who had timely notice by the interception of the letters intrusted to Eneas and Sabattis, of the approach of the Americans.

      Beyond the river the beautiful city of Quebec, hemmed in by her lofty precipices and impregnable battlements like some prisoner-princess of old fairy tales, smiled down upon the little ragged, famineproof army, which had so bravely dared the north wind and forest wilderness for her sake, while to dishearten and ensnare the ignorant, the Americans read, posted on the chapel door at Point Levi, the following proclamation:

      Conditions to be given to such soldiers as shall engage in the Royal Highland Emigrants. They are to engage during the present troubles in America only. Each soldier is to have 200 acres of land in any province in North America he shall think proper. The King to pay the patent fee, secretary’s fee, and surveyor-general, besides twenty years’ free of quit rent. Each married man gets fifty acres for his wife, fifty for each child, on the same terms, and as a gratuity besides the above great terms, one guinea levy money.
      Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant.

      During the 11th and 12th, boats and canoes were purchased and collected with the greatest possible expedition. But as they had to be brought from a great distance, it was the 13th before thirty-five, including dugouts, counting those carried down the Chaudière by Meigs, were procured. There were other equally important preparations to be made. A detail of carpenters under Lieutenant Savage was told off to make scaling ladders, hooks and spears; a detail of smiths under Captain Handehett was marched fourteen miles to the nearest forge, for the same work, kept busy all night and marched back next day. The rank and file of the army were employed in overhauling their flintlocks and such accoutrements as they had saved, and in making shoes out of raw-hides. Not a moment was wasted. The provincials were forced to keep under cover, however, for the Hunter and the Lizard dropped shot and shell among them whenever they showed themselves in any number along the river bank.

      A council of officers was held to decide whether to hazard an assault at once, should they succeed in crossing the river, or wait reinforcements from Montgomery. That they should make the attempt to pass the river seems to have been accepted as a matter of course, in spite of its wide stretch of black water and strong tides, in spite of the two vessels of war and armed merchantmen linked together by a chain of nightly patrol boats, passing and repassing between the vessels every hour. Against the judgment of Arnold and most of the Rhode Island officers, the decision of the council was against an immediate assault, it is said by a majority of a single voice.

      November 11th, a hurried report came to headquarters that the British were landing at the mill. Each man grasped his arms. Morgan and the Indians, who were nearest headquarters, were foremost. Pell-mell, Indians and riflemen intermingled, they rushed for the point of attack. Reaching the brow of a precipice, though still under its cover, they perceived a boat, which came from the sloop Hunter, about to touch the shore. The boat grounded; a midshipman sprang out, but, to obtain a better landing as the tide was at the ebb, ordered the boat off into deeper water. The riflemen fired a volley at the boat’s crew, who, leaving the middy to his fate, pulled out of range. The unlucky youngster plunged into the river, hoping to regain the boat, and a shooting match began at his head, which afforded a fair mark above the water, at about one hundred and fifty yards, as he swam towards the boat. Bullets splashed about him, pierced his clothing, and one slightly wounded him. The swimmer turned towards shore again with evident intent to surrender, but Sabattis, scalping knife in hand, sprang forward, seemingly intent upon killing the lad. Luckily Morgan was more athletic than the savage and, spurred by a decent humanity, intercepted him. The Hunter, meantime, having now warped up toward the shore for the purpose, opened with ball and grape on the riflemen, who hastened back along the shore with their prisoner and reached headquarters without accident. The midshipman was only about fifteen years of age, a brother of Captain McKenzie of the frigate Pearl, a lively, active, facetious youngster, who at once won the good will and esteem of his captors by his refusal to give them any desired information militating against the British. The boat had been sent ashore to recover Caldwell’s flour at the mill.

      Arnold now wrote again to Montgomery and Washington, his letters from Sartigan and St. Marie havIng, as we know, owing to the capture of his messengers, failed to reach their respective destinations. These letters were sent by way of Sorel, for Arnold was now apprised that a detachment from Montgomery’s army had occupied that town at the confluence of the Richelieu and the St. Lawrence.

      The officer commanding at Sorel was Colonel James Easton, who, with Major Brown, had advanced without opposition to that place, for Lieutenant-Colonel Allen McLean had retreated before him, abandoned the post, and with one hundred men of his new regiment, called the Royal Emigrants, and about sixty Fusileers, chiefly recruits, embarked for Quebec, where he arrived on the 12th. And on the same day Colonel Guy Johnson, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, sailed from Quebec for England in the ship Adamant, conveying official dispatches which contained the latest information from the field, a number of Canadian rebel prisoners and young Pitt, for whom General Washington in his directions to Arnold had expressed so much solicitude.

      Once more, before bringing to an end this portion of the narrative and proceeding to the account of the operations against Quebec, it may be well to review briefly the causes which led to the failure of the expedition to reach the city as early as it had expected, and the consequent impossibility of surprising the citadel and capturing it without a blow, as Washington and Arnold had fondly hoped to do.

      Attention should be directed first of all to the complete failure of Arnold’s plans and dispositions for the march through the wilderness. His intention had been to advance his base of supplies to the Twelve Mile carrying place; to have ferries across the ponds there, and to save every abandoned bateau on the Kennebec for use in case he was forced to retreat. The assumption to which we are forced is that these arrangements failed of execution because of inefficiency in the commissary department, or Enos’s neglect of duty, though there certainly were many extenuating circumstances.

      On account of the blockade and devastation of the ports of Maine by warships from the British fleet at Boston, the consequent interruption to the markets and sources of supplies to the south, and the extreme severity of this winter, the people in the settlements on the lower Kennebec were reduced to such distress and starvation as we sometimes hear of nowadays prevailing in Labrador and Newfoundland. Some families had no bread in their houses for three months together, and people who lived even at a distance of twenty miles from the seacoast were forced to retreat to the shore, where they could glean a precarious sustenance from the clam banks on the coast. It was impossible to procure grain, potatoes or any other species of vegetable. Meat, butter and milk were equally scarce. Neither tea, sugar nor molasses were to be purchased on any terms. Boiled ale-wives, a little coffee and clams formed the scanty diet with which they tried to satisfy their hunger.

      But while these circumstances would account for failure to supply the carrying place with extra provisions, they do not excuse the failure to supply it with the one hundred barrels of flour which Arnold assumed the army had left in storage with James Howard at Fort Western. It is evident from Arnold’s letters that under Mifflin at Cambridge, the commissary-general, Colonel Farnsworth, was directly responsible. I have been able to find nothing concerning this officer in all my search, beyond the mention of his name in Arnold’s letters.

      Again, it should be borne in mind that it was Arnold’s intention that the Chaudière pond should be a
      general rendezvous, for there he expected to meet definite advices from Canada, and to continue to advance or retreat according to circumstances of the situation. Entirely unprepared for Enos’s defection, and urged by the famine which threatened his army, he changed his mind and pushed on with all speed for the French settlements. In this he was justified; he had received on the Height of Land favorable reports; provisions had become of the first importance. Unforeseen delays had occurred; there was no time to spare for a general rendezvous; speed, and a general movement forward, would alone rescue the amy. Had he failed to send back provisions when he did, the event has proved that his loss in the woods would have been so heavy and demoralizing as to wreck the expedition utterly. Unfortunately, his orders to Enos to continue the advance were not sufficiently explicit; therein he was much at fault, but his error did not contribute as a first cause to the comparative miscarriage of the expedition.

      Had it not been for the extraordinary freshet, which no man could foresee, the failure of supplies would not have occurred to an alarming extent; there is every probability that Enos would not have turned back; Arnold would not have felt it necessary to forge so far ahead of his people, and the whole detachment would have arrived at Point Levi in time to have entered Quebec with little or no opposition. Instead of the adverse criticism to which the conception and execution of this enterprise have always been subjected, and which has discouraged any deep interest in its details, it would have come down to us as one of the most glorious coups of the war, and established the reputation of Washington and Arnold, as masters of strategy and military science.

      Obviously the equipment of the detachment as well as its composition is open to just criticism. It seems unquestionable that if no bateaux had been transported and the men had advanced with packs on their backs, they would have made safer and speedier progress. Rafts could have been built rapidly on the shores of many of the ponds by an advance party, and used to ferry the troops across as fast as they arrived, while a large enough amount of ammunition to have answered every purpose could have been thus transported. Tents and cumbersome camp equipage could have been dispensed with even at that season.

      It is difficult to understand why Washington, who is known to have spent in his younger days many days and nights in the backwoods of Virginia, should have made this mistake. It should not be forgotten, however, that he was compelled to consider policy and harmonize the conflicting interests of the various colonies. The expedition was one which promised honors and advancement, and he could not select the officers and men who were to compose the detachment, strictly from the point of view of expediency, without arousing much jealousy and discontent. Had he selected back-woodsmen and riflemen, those best fitted for the undertaking, he would have been compelled to draw chiefly from the southern colonies, for there were few such companies from New England. The decision with regard to the bateaux was probably due to ignorance of the waterways and the topography of the country. This conclusion is supported by the statement which Arnold makes in one of his letters: “We have been deceived in every account of our route.”

      However, an examination of Montressor’s map, which was followed by the expedition, does not entirely support this statement. It was the freshet which foiled Arnold, rather than defective information. That he and the six hundred men who followed him to the St. Lawrence accomplished what they did in the face of such difficulties and discouragements, is matter for wonder and admiration rather than for criticism and detraction. Washington, whose commendation was always a badge of honor, who was too experienced a frontiersman and too good a soldier to underestimate such an achievement, wrote to General Schuyler when he heard of Arnold’s arrival before Quebec: “The merit of this gentleman is certainly great, and I heartily wish that fortune may distinguish him as one of her favorites. I am convinced that he will do everything that his prudence and valor shall suggest to add to the success of our arms, and for reducing Quebec to our possession.” To Arnold himself he wrote under the same date: “It is not in the power of any man to command success, but you have done more – you have deserved it.”

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