Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and it was resolved in a council of war, to retreat twelve miles to the Isle aux Nois, erect fortifications and sink chevaux-de-frise, to interrupt the navigation of the river Sorel in which the fort was situated, and to prevent the communication with the shipping which Governor Carleton had prepared. General Schuyler soon after returned to Albany, and General Montgomery was left in the sole command, to prosecute the siege of the fort. This was much retarded from want of ammunition. By the reduction of Fort Chambly, at a distance of six miles from St. Johns, he obtained a large supply of powder, and Governor Carleton, being repulsed in his attempts to cross the river to relieve the fort, it surrendered on the 3d of November. During this siege, Col. Ethan Allen, with extraordinary rashness, and in disobedience of orders, forced his way to Montreal, with only eighty men, was surrounded, defeated, captured, and sent to England in irons.

After the reduction of St. Johns, the American forces occupied and fortified the mouth of the Sorel, and advanced rapidly on Montreal. The British forces, incapable of defending the town, repaired on board the shipping, and endeavoured to escape down the river. They were stopped and captured at the point of the Sorel, and General Prescott, and many other officers and eleven sail of vessels, with ammunition, provisions, &c. fell into the hands of the victors. Montreal was soon occupied by General Montgomery, whose conduct on the occasion was distinguished by the Nov utmost dignity, courtesy and humanity. Governor *** Carleton escaped in a boat, by an unfrequented way through Trois Rivieres, and arrived in Quebec. Montgomery, after leaving some troops to keep possession of Montreal, pushed on to Quebec, before which he arrived on the 1st of December.

The other detachment, under the command of Colonel Arnold, consisting originally of about twelve hundred men, had, with amazing difficulty and the severest toils and hardships, penetrated through the province of Maine, a distance of five hundred miles, by a route totally unexplored before, through a forest wilderness. Part of the troops turned back, discouraged by the want of provisions, and those who continued, to the number of seven hundred, encountered terrible fatigues and privations, being reduced to eat their shoes and baggage-leather. On the eighth of November, they arrived on the River St. Lawrence, opposite to Quebec, to

Nov. 13.

the great dismay of the citizens, to whom the sight of an enemy in that direction was totally unexpected. Arnold, by reason of the treachery of his scouts, was disappointed in the means of crossing the river, and thus lost all the advantages of the panic which his first arrival had created. The presence of Governor Carleton re-assured the inhabit. ants, and solid preparations for defence were made, which it was not in the power of the invaders to interrupt. After vainly summoning the town to surrender, to which no answer was returned, Arnold was compelled to wait for the arrival of the forces under Montgomery.

Early in December, the whole American force assembled before Quebec, but under circumstances materially altered. Their fortune had changed, dissensions broke out among the officers, their money failed, provisions were difficult to be obtained, the winter set in with extreme severity, and their numbers had been reduced to about half that of those that garrisoned the town. Eight hundred men were all that he could muster fit for duty, while General Carleton's forces exceeded fifteen hundred, 450 of whom were seamen belonging to the king's ships, and the merchant vessels in the harbor. Under these disadvantages they maintained the siege with occasional bombardments, until the 31st of December, on the morning of which, a general assault was made, in which the American forces were repulsed, and Genl. Montgomery killed.

This ill-starred attack was planned, by General Montgomery, to take place in four different places, two of which, under the command of Colonel Livingston and Major Brown, were to be made against St. John's Gate, and Cape Diamond, respectively, as feints to distract the enemy, while himself and Colonel Arnold conducted the principal attacks against the lower town. The assault commenced during a heavy snow-storm, but by mistake in giving the signal, the garrison was alarmed, and prepared to receive them. Montgomery carried the first barrier, and was advancing at the head of his troops towards the second, when a discharge of grape-shot from a cannon, cut him down, with many officers and soldiers around him. The men were so dispirited with the fall of their gallant and beloved commander, that the second in command, Colonel Campbell, thought proper to order a retreat. Arnold, on his side, carried a two gun battery, in which action he was wounded, and compelled to retire from the

field. His men pushed on and carried a second barrier, when, unsupported by the other detachments, and hemmed in by superior numbers, they were compelled to surrender. The issue was, in consequence, a total defeat of the assailants. Their loss, independent of their heroic chief, one of the severest losses which America sustained during the campaign, was about one hundred men killed, and three hundred prisoners. It is an honorable trait, to be recorded of Genl. Carleton, that he emulated the noble conduct of his deceased antagonist, in using his triumph generously, and treating his prisoners with courtesy and indulgence.

Arnold drew off the remainder of his troops, and retired about three miles from the city. He entrenched himself in quarters for the winter, fortifying himself with his gallant little army, in such a manner, that the enemy did not undertake to molest him.

Having thus brought the narrative of civil and military affairs in America, to the close of the year 1775, it is necessary, in order to understand their relations to Great Britain, at that period, to revert to the course of the British Parliament, on the intelligence of the proceedings of the first session of the Continental Congress, of that year.

CHAPTER VII.

The session of parliament commenced about the close of the month of October. The king's speech gave the situation of American affairs, as the reason for convoking the House at so early a day. The conduct of the Americans was stigmatized as "treason, revolt, and rebellion ;” their opinions were pronounced to be “repugnant to the true constitution of the colonies," and to their subordinate relation to Great Britain ;' they were accused of "aiming at establishing an independent empire ;" and a determination was expressed “to put a speedy end to these disorders, by the most decisive exertions.” He added, that “the most friendly offers of foreign service had been made.”

The whole speech was warlike in tone, breathing nothing but vengeance against America. The answers of both houses contained the same sentiments, and avowed the same determinations, notwithstanding the vehement opposition of some of the most able and upright statesmen. The project of employing foreign troops to subdue the colonies, was especially reprobated, as sanguinary, vindictive and unconstitutional. The Duke of Richmond, with nineteen other peers, made a protest upon the journal of the House of Lords. General Conway and the Duke of Grafton, seceded from the administration, and Lord George Sackville Germaine was made secretary for the colonies in place of Lord Dartmouth.

Propositions were made, and repeated in various forms, for opening the way to a conciliation with America, and all voted down by large ministerial majorities. Mr. Penn was, on motion of the duke of Richmond, ex. amined at the bar of the House in regard to the

**** dispositions and views of the Americans. On the conclusion of the examination, the duke moved that the petition of the continental congress, the same to which the king had refused an answer, was “ground for a conciliation of the unhappy differences subsisting between Great Britain and America." This was negatived by a large majority. A subsequent motion by the duke of Grafton, shared a like

Nov. 10.

fate. Mr. Burke brought forward a scheme of conciliation, and supported it eloquently, but unavailingly, in an elaborate speech. Mr. Fox failed in a like effort. Mr. Hartley introduced a series of resolutions, for a suspension of hostilities, to restore the charter of Massachusetts, and to repeal all the laws complained of, enacted since 1763. They were reject. ed without debate. By these repeated defeats of every suggestion, tending towards concession, it was established beyond question, that the ruling party were determined on subjugating the colonies by force of arms. The means pro

vided, were conceived in a similar spirit of resolute and - unflinching hostility to America.

The first step was a prohibitory law,-interdicting all trade and intercourse with the Thirteen United Colonies. By it all

property of Americans, whether of ships or goods on the ** high seas, or in harbor, was declared forfeited to captors,

being of his majesty's ships of war, and the crews were to be impressed on board of the ships of war. An exception was made, in favor of such colonies, and parts of colonies, as should return to a state of obedience, and a commission was authorized for determining the claims of applicants for this relaxation of rigor.

This tyrannical and inhuman law, was followed by energetic measures to prosecute the war of conquest to extinguish and the rebellion. The king laid before parliament, treaties

3 which he had already negotiated with the land- en et grave of -Hesse Cassel, the Duke of Brunswick, Feb. 2 Fox and the hereditary prince of Hesse Cassel, for the hiring set of foreign mercenaries to carry on the American war. The 312 debates to which the discussion of this Hessian treaty gave beo rise, necessarily took a wide and exciting range. Among

the arguments which were used to show the impolicy and 231E inhumanity of employing these foreign mercenaries, it was de contended that it would be counselling the Colonies to enter

into foreign alliances; because they might, instead of hiring 3,4foreign troops, obtain upon better terms the assistance of

those European powers from which Great Britain had most un ti to fear. On the other hand, the treaties were strenuously to defended by the ministers on the strong plea of necessity. . They spoke lightly of the expenses which would attend the

employment of these troops, as they did not doubt that the bila war with America would be finished in one campaign, or riy at most in two. The idea that the war would be prolonged

leb. 2

776.

« AnteriorContinuar »