« PreviousContinue »
Battle on the Plains of Abraham. Bravery and Death of Wolfe. Death of Montcalm. Burial-place of Montcalm.
prepared for action. Montcalm was on the left of the French, at the head of the regiments of Languedoc, Bearne, and Guienne. Wolfe ordered his men to load with two bullets each, and reserve their fire until the French should be within forty yards. These orders were strictly obeyed, and their double-shotted guns did terrible execution. “The hottest of the fight occurred,” says Hawkins, “between the right of the race-stand and the martello towers.” After delivering several rounds in rapid succession, which threw the French into confusion, the English charged furiously with their bayonets. While urging on his battalions in this charge, Wolfe was singled out by some Canadians on the left, and was slightly wounded in the wrist. He wrapped a handkerchief around to stanch the blood, and, while still cheering on his men, received a second wound in the groin ; a few minutes afterward another struck him in the breast and brought him to the ground, mortally wounded. At that moment, regardless of self, he thought only of the victory for his troops. “Support me,” he said to an officer near him; “let not my brave soldiers see me drop. They day is ours—keep it.” He was taken to the rear, while his troops continued to charge. The officer on whose shoulder he was leaning exclaimed, “They run, they run '" The light returned to the dim eyes of the dying hero, and he asked, with emotion, “Who runs 2" “The enemy, sir; they give way every where.” “What,” feebly exclaimed Wolfe, “do they run already ? Go to Colonel Preston and tell him to march Webb's regiment immediately to the bridge over the St. Charles, and cut off the fugitives' retreat. Now, God be praised, I die happy" These were his last words, and in the midst of sorrowing companions, just at the moment of victory, he died. Montcalm, who was gallantly fighting in the front rank of the French left, received a mortal wound, and died the next morning about five o'clock, and was buried in an excavation made by the bursting of a shell within the precincts of the Ursuline Convent, where his remains still rest.” When Lord Aylmar was Governor of Canada, he
* The Martello Towers are four strong circular structures erected at different distances in rear of the city, between the St. Lawrence and the St. Charles. Cannons are mounted upon their tops. They are very thick on the side toward the open country, but thin toward the city. The object of this manner of construction is, that, if taken by an enemy, they can easily be laid in ruins by the shot of the garrison.
*James Wolfe was born in Westerham, in Kent, January 2d, 1727. He entered the army very young, and soon distinguished himself by skill, judgment, and bravery. After his return from the expedition against Louisburgh, in 1758, he was appointed to the command of that section of the expedition against Canada that went up the St. Lawrence. His assault on Quebec was one of the boldest military achievements ever attempted, but, just at the moment of victory, he lost his life, at the early age of 32 years. His body was conveyed to England on board the Royal William, and buried at Greenwich on the 20th of November, 1759, where, in the family vault, the hero rests by the side of his father and mother. His father, Edward Wolfe, was a lieutenant general, and died in March of the same year, aged 74. The British government erected a monument to the memory of the young hero, in Westminster Abbey.
* Lewis Joseph de St. Veran, Marquis de Montcalm, descended from a noble family of Candiac, in France. He was educated for a soldier, and distinguished himself at the battle of Placenza in 1746. He rose by degrees to the rank of field marshal, and in 1756 was appointed Governor of Canada. He ably opposed the English under Abercrombie, but fell while gallantly fighting Wolfe at Quebec, on the 13th of September, 1759. His remains are within the grounds of the Ursuline Convent at Quebec. A few years ago a plain marble slab was placed to his memory, in the chapel of that nunnery, by Lord Aylmar, on which is the following inscription:
Monument where Wolfe fell. Capitulation of Quebec. Levi's Attempt to recapture it. His Repulsion. Capture of Montreal.
caused a small granite pillar, about ten feet high, to be erected upon the spot where Wolfe fell upon the Plains of Abraham, now just within the southern suburb of Quebec. It bears the brief inscription, HERE DIED WolfE, victorious. That Vandalism under the specious guise of reverence for the great, of which I have already had occasion to speak, has sadly mutilated this monument, as may be seen in the engraving. The pedestal has lost many a pound of relic, and the iron railing around the monument has been broken down.
Wolfe and Montcalm were both able commanders, - and were idolized by their respective troops. The - # - former, though so young, was almost reverenced by his - officers, for to bravery and great military skill he united all the virtues and graces of the perfect gentleman. The expressions of attachment made by General (afterward Marquis) Townshend illustrate the sentiment of his officers and men. In a letter written just after the battle, he says, “I am not ashamed to own to you that my heart does not exult in the midst of this success. I have lost but a friend in General Wolfe. Our country has lost a sure support and a perpetual honor. If the world were sensible at how dear a price we have purchased Quebec in his death, it would damp the public joy. Our best consolation is, that Providence seemed not to promise that he should remain long among us. He was himself sensible of the weakness of his constitution, and determined to crowd into a few years actions that would have adorned length of life.”
Five days after the battle the city of Quebec capitulated and passed into the september is possession of the English, and the remnant of the grand army of the French, 1759. under M. Levi, who succeeded Montcalm, retired to Montreal. General Murray was left to defend battered and half-ruined Quebec, and the British fleet, fearful of frost, retreated down the St. Lawrence to the ocean. Levi determined on attempting to regain all that the French had lost, and in the spring of 1760 he marched upon Quebec with a motley army of ten thousand men, composed of French, Canadians, and Indians. Murray, with seven thousand men, went out and attacked him, but was sorely defeated, lost all April 28, his guns, and was nearly cut off in his retreat back to the city. Levi followed up ". his success vigorously, and as soon as the ice left the St. Lawrence he brought up six French frigates and prepared to beleaguer the city by land and by water. He encamped upon the heights above Point Levi, and felt sure of his prey. Fortunately for the English, Lord Colville arrived at this juncture with two good frigates, and destroyed the French vessels under the eyes of Levi. Thoroughly frightened by the suddenness of the event, and learning that these two fast sailers were only the van of a powerful fleet, the French commander retreated precipitately to Montreal, leaving his artillery and stores behind him. Vaudreuil, the governor general of the province, was at Montreal, and Amherst, Murray, and Haviland proceeded to invest that city. Despairing of succor from abroad, Vaudreuil capitulated on the 8th of September, and on that memorable day French power in Canada expired and hostilities in America ceased. Peace ensued between the two governments by the conclusion and signing of a treaty at Paris, on the 10th of February, 1763, and thus ended the famous “Seven Years' War.” From that time the two races have not been arrayed in battle against each other in the Western world, except while the French were here as allies in 1780–81, and assisted in the battle at Yorktown and the capture of Cornwallis.
since my visit to Quebec (August, 1848) the remains of this monument have been removed, and a column forty feet high, surmounted by a bronze helmet and sword, has been erected. The monument is from the design of Sir James Alexander.
Collection of an Army near Boston. Washington's Appointment. His Generals. Expedition under Arnold planned.
Quebec enjoyed tranquillity until the Americans, under Montgomery and Arnold, invaded Canada in the autumn and winter of 1775. We left the former pressing forward toward the city, with the rigors of a Canadian winter gathering around him. Let us return and watch the progress of that little army of patriots, and also consider the wonderful expedition of the brave Arnold through the wilderness of the east. We mentioned incidentally, in a previous chapter, that when the tidings of the capture of the forts on Lake Champlain reached the Continental Congress, that body promptly took action to defend the liberties of the people, and secure their rights by force of arms, if necessary. The skirmishes at Lexington and Concord, the menaces against Massachusetts, and Boston in particular, fulminated by the home government, and the arrival of several regiments of British troops, for the avowed purpose of crushing the anticipated rebellion, aroused a spirit of resistance in the colonies hitherto unknown, even when the Stamp Act, ten years before, had awakened a terrible storm of indignation throughout the land. From all directions men flew to arms, and in a few weeks a large patriot army invested Boston, and threatened Governor Gage and his mercenary troops with destruction. The incongruous material which composed the army was partially organized by appointing Artemas Ward' commander-in-chief until the general Congress should act in the premises. That action was not long delayed, and on the 15th of June Congress adopted a resolution to appoint a general “to command all the Continental forces raised for the defense of American liberty.” George Washington was unanimously chosen to fill the important office,” July 19, and he repaired to Cambridge, near Boston, and took command of the army. He * set about organizing and disciplining the troops, and making preparations for an active campaign. About the middle of August, a committee of Congress visited Washington in his camp, and a plan was then devised to send a force to Canada, by way of the Kennebec River, to co-operate with Schuyler, already preparing to invade that province by way of the Northern lakes. Arnold was then at Cambridge, uttering loud complaints of ill usage upon Lake Champlain. His bravery was well known, and the proposed expedition was exactly suited to his adventurous disposition. To silence his complaints and to secure his services, Washington appointed him to the command of that perilous expedition, and at the same time gave him a commission of colonel in the Continental army. Eleven hundred hardy men were detached for the service from the army, consisting of ten companies of musketeers from New England and three companies of riflemen from Virginia and Pennsylvania. Arnold's field officers were Lieutenant-colonel Christopher Greene (the hero of Red Bank, on the Delaware), Lieutenant-colonel Roger Enos, and Majors Meigs and Bigelow. The riflemen were commanded by Captain Daniel Morgan, the renowned partisan leader in subsequent years of the war. Arnold and his troops marched from Cambridge to Newburyport, where they embarked on board eleven transports for the mouth of the Kennebec. They reached Gardiner in safety, and found two hundred bateaux ready for them at Pittston, on the opposite side of the river. Carpenters had been previously sent to construct
* Artemas Ward was a native of Massachusetts, and graduated at Harvard in 1748. He was successively a representative in the Legislature and member of the Council of his state. He was also a justice of the Court of Common Pleas for Worcester county. Having considerable military knowledge, he was chosen to command the army that gathered around Boston in the spring of 1775. Congress appointed him the first of the four major generals under Washington, and to him was assigned the division of the army at Roxbury, when the siege of Boston, in 1776, took place. He resigned his commission a month after that event, yet, at the request of Washington, he continued in command till toward the last of May. He was a member of Congress under the Confederation, and also after the adoption of the present Constitution. He died at Shrewsbury in 1800, aged 73 years.
* Four major generals and eight brigadiers were appointed at the same time. To the former rank were chosen Artemas Ward, Charles Lee, Philip Schuyler, and Israel Putnam (the Major Putnam in the French and Indian war); to the latter, Seth Pomeroy (supposed to be the soldier who shot Dieskau), Richard Montgomery, David Wooster, William Heath, Joseph Spencer, John Thomas, John Sullivan, and Nathaniel Greene. Horatio Gates was appointed adjutant general, with the rank of brigadier.
Arrival at Fort Western. Norridgewock Falls. The Ancient Indians. Father Ralle. Fatiguing Portage.
these vessels. The troops then rendezvoused at Fort Western, opposite the present town — of Augusta. This was on the verge of an uninhabited and almost unexplored wilderness,' and toward its fearful shadows these brave men turned their faces. A small reconnoitering party was sent in advance to Lake Megantic, or Chaudière Pond, and another to survey the course and distances of the Dead River, a tributary of the Kennebec. The main body moved forward in four divisions, a day apart in time. Morgan, with the riflemen, was in the van; next were Greene and Bigelow, with their companies of musketeers; Meigs, with four other companies, followed, and the rear was brought up by Enos, with three remaining companies. Arnold was the last to leave Fort Western. He proceeded in a birch canoe, passed the several parties, and overtook Morgan on the third day at Norridgewock Falls. Here, upon a beautiful plain on the eastern bank of the river, the ancient Norridgewock Indians, a tribe of the ABENAREs, had a village, and in the midst of the grandeur, beauty, and fertility of nature, and the barbarous heathenism of man in this picturesque region, Father Ralle, a French Jesuit, had erected a Christian altar, and taught the sublime truths of the Gospel.” Here the first severe toils of the little army began, for they were obliged to carry all their bateaux, provisions, and stores around the falls, a mile and a quarter, into the navigable waters above. The banks were rocky and precipitous. They found, too, that their boats were leaky, and much of their - o provisions was spoiled or greatly damaged. Seven days were consumed in passing the falls and repairing the
Norridgewock FALLs, 1775.
Colonel Montressor, a British officer, had traversed the wilderness fifteen years before. He ascended the Chaudière from Quebec, crossed the Highlands near the head waters of the Penobscot, passed through Moose-head Lake, and entered the eastern branch of the Kennebec. Arnold possessed an imperfect copy of the printed journal of Montressor, and this, with information received from some St. Francis Indians who visited Washington's camp, gave him an idea of the country and the privations his men must suffer.
The same region was traversed by a French missionary hamed Dreuillettes, more than two hundred wears before. He crossed the St. Lawrence to the sources of the Kennebec, down which river he descended to its mouth, and thence coasted eastward to the missionary station on the Penobscot.—Hildreth, ii., 84.
* Father Ralle resided among the Norridgewocks twenty-six years, and possessed great influence over them. He was considered an enemy to the British settlers in Massachusetts, and an expedition was planned against him and the settlement. A party sell upon them suddenly, and killed and scalped the priest and thirty of the Indians. This event occurred in 1724, and when Colonel Arnold was there, in 1775, the Voyage up the Kennebec. The Dead River. Elevated Country. A Freshet. Return of Enos. His Trial and Acquittal.
Desertions and sickness reduced their number to about nine hundred and fifty effective men when they arrived at the great carrying-place, twelve miles below the junction of Dead River with the Kennebec. So rapid was the stream, that the men waded more than half way, pushing the bateaux against the current; yet they were in good spirits, and seemed to partake of the enthusiasm of their leader. Arnold now examined his muster-roll and commissariat. The troops, though somewhat reduced in number, were strong and enthusiastic, and he ascertained that he had twenty-five days' provisions in store. The Chaudière, on which were French settlements, he estimated to be at a distance of ten days' travel. The weather was fine, and the prospect so encouraging that they pushed forward with alacrity. The great carrying-place was a portage of fifteen miles, broken by three ponds. Oxen dragged the bateaux part of the way on sleds, and the baggage and stores were carried on the shoulders of the men. Over craggy knolls and tangled ravines, through deep morasses, creeks, and ponds, they pursued their journey, sometimes carrying their vessels and the vessels sometimes bearing them, until they reached the Dead River. The ponds afforded an abundance of delicious salmon-trout, and want of food had not yet been among their privations. The surface of the Dead River was smooth, and the waters flowed on in a gentle current in the midst of the magnificent forest, now rendered gorgeous by the brilliant hues imparted to the foliage by early frost. Occasional falls interrupted their progress, but the labors of the men were far less severe than hitherto. Suddenly the monotony of the vast forest was broken by the appearance of a lofty mountain covered with snow, at the foot of which Arnold encamped three days, raising the Continental flag over his tent." A small hamlet called Flag-staff, in commemoration of the event, is upon the camp-ground, and the lofty eminence bears the name of Mount Bigelow.” When the expedition moved forward, a heavy rain set in, which sent down such torrents from the hills that the river arose eight feet in one night, overflowing its banks and filling its channels with rafts of drift wood. So suddenly did this freshet occur, that the water came roaring down the valley where the soldiers were encamped, so unexpectedly and powerfully that they had barely time to retreat to their bateaux before the whole plain was overflowed. Seven boats were overturned and the provisions lost, and others were in imminent peril in the midst of the flood. They were yet thirty miles from the head of the Chaudière, and but about twelve days’ provisions remained. The storm and exposure made many sick, and despondency supplanted cheerfulness, for the future seemed pregnant with misery. A council of war was held, and it was decided to send the sick and feeble back, and to press forward with the healthy. Arnold wrote to Greene and Enos, who were in the rear, to select as many of their best men as they could supply with fifteen days’ provisions, and come on with them, leaving the others to return to Norridgewock. Enos, either through a false construction of the order or willful disobedience, returned to Cambridge with his whole division. His appearance excited the greatest indignation in the Continental camp, and Enos was looked upon as a traitor for thus deserting his companions and endangering the whole expedition. He was tried by a court-martial, and it being proved that he was short of provisions, and that none could be procured in the wilderness, he was acquitted. He never was restored in public estimation, however, and soon afterward left the army. In the mean while Arnold, with the rest of the troops, pressed onward. The rain changed to snow, and ice formed upon the water in which the men waded to push the bateaux as
foundations of the church and altar were still visible, but the red men had forever departed. Father Ralle left a manuscript dictionary of the Abanake language (the dialect of the Norridgewocks), which is preserved in the library of Harvard University.
* What the device on this flag, or what its color was, we have no means of ascertaining. The stripes and stars were not used until 1777. On the 14th of June that year, Congress “resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Since then we have added a star for every new state.
* Tradition asserts that, while the Americans encamped there, Major Bigelow ascended to the summit of the mountain, with the expectation of seeing the spires of Quebec | From this supposed adventure the mountain derives its name.