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promote an invasion of the United Colonies CHAP. V. from that quarter. They had heretofore re. 1775. sisted 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 show in it a force sufficient for the protection of its inhabitants. The facility with which Crown Point and Ticonderoga 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.
So early as the month of June 1775, a reso- Invasion lution passed that body, directing general meditated. Schuyler to repair to Ticonderoga, and to take the proper measures for securing that post and Crown Point, and for retaining the entire com. mand 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. Johns 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.
CHAP. V. Near three thousand men from New England 1775. and New York, 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 Ticonderoga and Crown Point, to convey the troops along lake Champlain into the neighbourhood of Canada. But the infor. mation 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 whose talents and attachment to their cause, the highest confidence was very deservedly placed.
Congress had made great exertions to faci. litate this expedition. Fifty thousand dollars in specie were voted for the expense 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 Ticonderoga, in order to make the necessary arrangements for the con- . templated 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 ob- CHAP. V. . served ; and it can scarcely be doubted that, 1775. had the enemy been in a condition to attempt a surprise, Ticonderoga and Crown Point would have been lost with as much facility as they had been acquired. *
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 Carlton to engage the Canadians, and the
The situation of the troops is thus described by general Schuyler in a letter from Ticonderoga, of the 18th July, to general Washington.
“ 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 re-enforce the garrison, and he expected the general. About ten, last night, I arrived 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 serjeant's guard. Here the centinel 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 blockhouse, 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."
CHAP. V. Indians, to take up arms and invade the United 1775. Colonies, and of their unwillingness to do so;
but the opinion was still maintained, that unless the colonists showed a sufficient force in that country, to give confidence and security to their friends, the machinations of the governor would ultimately 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 the preparations were complete, 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. Johns, 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 September. Crown Point. Orders were immediately given
him to embark with the troops then in readiness; and general Schuyler, having directed the
expected re-enforcements to rendezvous at the chap. V. Isle aux Noix, twelve miles south of St. Johns, 1775. followed Montgomery, and joined him before he reached that place.
Circular letters to the Canadians, exhorting The Amerithem to rouse and assert their liberties, and that province 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 to St. Johns. The American force, amounting to about one thousand men, entirely destitute of artillery, embarked on the Sorel on the sixth, and proceeding towards St. Johns, 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 intrenchment, and encamped for the night. The intelligence received at this place respecting the situation o! St. Johns, and of the vessels preparing to enter lake Champlain, determined them to return to the Isle aux Noix, there to wait for their remaining troops and artillery; and in the mean time, to secure the entrance of the lakes,
The Isle aux Noix lies at the junction of the Sorel with lake Champlain; and, to prevent VOL. II.