« ZurückWeiter »
INVASION OF CANADA MEDITATED—THE AMERICANS ENTER
THAT PROVINCE-SIEGE OF SAINT JOHN'S-CAPTURE OF FORT
W H ILST these transactions were passing in Boston, other
events of deep and serious interest to both parties took place still further to the north.
Great dissatisfaction prevailed in Canada. The Quebec act, and other measures of administration, had disquieted the British settlers, without attaching to government, either the Indians, or French inhabitants. Believing that province to be in a state of most perfect security, it had been left almost entirely undefended ; andthe regular troops on the Continent of America, had been chiefly drawn to Boston. At the same time, Quebec was chap. v. known to be a place of deposit for military stores to an immense 1975: amount; and it was also known that great efforts were making to conciliate the Canadians and Indians, in order to promote an invasion of the United Colonies from that quarter. They had heretofore resisted those endeavours, but there was much reason to believe that if not counteracted, the designs of the administration, when supported by a strong military force, would prevail. The possession of that country, was believed to be all-important to either party, and it was thought that its present temper was such as to render it probable, that its weight would be thrown into the scale of those, who should first shew in it a force, sufficient for the protection of its inhabitants. The facility with which Crown Point and Tyconderoga had been taken, and the perfect command of the lakes George and Champlain acquired, added to the motives already stated, inspired Congress with the daring design of anticipating the plans meditated against them in that province, by taking possession of Canada.
Invasion of Canada medi. ated.
So early as the month of June 1775, a resolution passed that body, directing General Schuyler, to repair to Tyconderoga, and to take the proper measures for securing that post and Crown Point, and for retaining the entire command of the lakes. He was at the same time authorized, if he should find it practicable, and not disagreeable to the Canadians, to take possession of St. John's and Montreal, and to pursue any other measures in Canada, which might have a tendency to promote the peace and security of the united colonies.
Near three thousand men from New England and New York,
CHAP. V. to be commanded, under Major General Schuyler, by Brigadiers
Wooster and Montgomery, were designed for this service ; and a number of batteaux were directed to be built at Tyconderoga and Crown Point, to convey the troops along lake Champlain, into the neighbourhood of Canada. But the information possessed by Congress on this subject, was not such as to justify them in deciding absolutely on the expedition; and, therefore, their resolution left much to the discretion of General Schuyler, on talents and attachment to the cause, the highest confidence was very deservedly placed.
Congress had made great exertions to facilitate this expedition. Fifty thousand dollars in specie were voted for the expence of the army in Canada, and the Convention of New York was urged to hurry on the troops designed for that service.
General Schuyler, who was at New York, when this important command was confided to him hastened to Tyconderoga, in order to make the necessary arrangements for the contemplated expedition. The troops of that department belonging to different colonies, stationed at different places, acknowledging no one commanding officer, were found in a state of entire disorganization. The stores were misapplied, or wasted; no sort of subordination, or camp discipline was observed ; and it can scarcely be doubted that, had the enemy been in a condition to attempt a surprize, Tyconderoga and Crown point, would have been lost with as much facility as they had been acquired *.
The CHAP V: 1775
* The situation of the troops is thus described by General Schuyler, in a letter from Tyconderoga of the 18th of July, to General Washington.
The intelligence from Canada which had been forwarded to Congress, confirmed the reports before received, of the weakness of the regular troops, by which that province was defended; of the great exertions of Governor Carleton, to engage the Canadians and the Indians, to take up arms and invade the United Colonies, and of their unwillingness to do so; but the opinion was still maintained that, unless the colonists shewed a sufficient force in that country to give confidence and security to their friends, the machinations of the Governor would ultim prevail.
In consequence of this intelligence, the orders to General Schuyler were made unconditional, and he was directed positively to enter Canada. He commenced, and assiduously prosecuted the task of preparing vessels for the transportation of the troops; a task the more laborious and tedious, as the timber for the batteaux, was then to be procured from the woods. Before
“ You will expect that I should say something about this place and the troops here. Not one earthly thing for offence or defence has been done.
The commanding Officer had no orders, he only came to reinforce the Garrison, and he expected the General. About ten, last night, larrived at the landing place, the north end of lake George, a fort occupied, by a captain and one hundred men. A centinel on being informed I was in the boat, quitted his post to go and awake the guard, consisting of three men, in which he had no success. I walked up and came to another, a sergeant's guard. Here thecentinel challenged, but suffered me to come up to him, the whole guard, like the first, in the soundest sleep. I could have cut off both guards, and then have set fire to the block-house, destroyed the stores, and starved the people here. But I hope to get the better of this inattention. The officers and men are all good looking people, and I really believe will make good soldiers, as soon as I can get the better of this non chalance of theirs. Rr 2
CHAP. V. the preparations were compleat, or the troops destined for the
expedition had all assembled, the impatience expressed by their friends in Canada, and some information which was received of a vessel of force soon to be launched at St. John's, on the river Sorel, in order to enter the lakes, rendered an immediate movement advisable. General Schuyler had returned to Albany, to hold a Congress with the Indians, whose dispositions. were very justly suspected to be hostile. When this intelligence was communicated to him by General Montgomery, an officer of very distinguished merit then at Crown Point. Garders were immediately given him to embark with the troops then in readiness; and General Schuyler, having directed the expected reinforcements to rendezvous at the Isle Aux Noix, twelve miles south of St. John's, followed Monthgomery, and joined him before he reached that place.
Circular letters to the Canadians exhorting them to rouse and assert their liberties, and declaring that the Americans entered their country as friends and protectors, and not as enemies, were immediately dispersed among them; and believing that they would be encouraged thereby, it was determined to advance directly on St. John's. The American force, amounting to about one thousand men, entirely destitute of artillery, embarked on the Sorel on the 6th, and proceeding towards St. John's, landed within about a mile and a half of that place, in a swamp, from whence they marched in order towards the fort, for the purpose of reconnoitring its situation. On the march they were suddenly attacked by a body of Indians whom they dispersed ; after which, they threw up a small entrenchment, and encamped for the night. The intelligence received at this place, respecting the
The Americans entered that Province.