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Montgomery's Approach to Cape Diamond. Opposing Battery. His Charge upon the Battery. His Death.
nold, at the head of the second division, advanced from the general hospital, around the north side of the town, on the St. Charles. Both parties were to meet at Mountain Street, and force Prescott Gate. The snow was falling fast, and furious winds were piling it in frightful drifts. Cautiously Montgomery led his men in the dark toward the narrowest point under Cape Diamond, called Pres de Ville, where the enemy had planted a battery of three pounders.' This post was in charge of a captain of Canadian militia, with thirty-eight men, and nine British seamen, under Captain Barnsfare, master of a transport, to work the guns. On the river side was a precipice, and on the left the rough crags of dark slate towered far above him. When within fifty yards of the battery, the Americans halted to * -i-.
reconnoiter. The guard at the battery -
St. John's GATE, outside.
* Judge Henry, who was one of the American prisoners at Quebec, was allowed, with some others, to go out and see the place where Montgomery was slain. He thus describes the British fortification there: It was a sort of block-house forty or fifty feet square. The logs, neatly hewn, were tightly bound together by dove-tail work. The lower story contained loop-holes for musketry, so narrow that those within could not be harmed by those without. The upper story had four or more port-holes for cannon of a large caliber. These guns were charged with grape and canister shot, and were pointed with exactness toward the avenue at Cape Diamond. The block-house seemed to take up the space between the foot of the hill and the river, leaving only a cart-way on each side. The bulwarks of the city came only to the edge of the hill, above that place; hence down the side of the precipice, slantingly to the brink of the river, there was a stockade of strong posts fifteen or twenty feet high, knit together by a stout railing at bottom and top with pins. It was asserted that Montgomery sawed four of these posts himself, so as to admit four men abreast to attack the block-house.
* This is a view of the spot where Montgomery was killed. The cliff is Cape Diamond, crowned with the citadel. The street at the foot of it is called Champlain, and is inhabited chiefly by a mixed population of French, Canadians, and Irish. It extends from Mountain Street south almost to Wolfe's Cove. This view is from Champlain Street, a few rods south of Pres de Ville, looking north. High upon the rocks Alfred Hawkins, Esq., of Quebec, has placed a board with this inscription: “HERE Major-GENERAL MontgomERY FELL, DEcEMBER 31st, 1775.”
Arnold's Operations. Wounded. Assailants led by Morgan. Severe Fight. Capture of Dearborn.
While this dreadful scene was in progress at Cape Diamond, Arnold, at the head of the second division, was pressing onward along the St. Charles, where the snow was worse drifted than on the St. Lawrence. He led his men in files until he reached the narrow street called Sault au Matelot, where, under a high, jutting rock, the enemy had a two-gun picketed battery, well manned. Like Montgomery, he headed his men, and, while leading Lamb's artillery to the attack upon the barrier, was completely disabled by a musket-wound in the knee, and was earried back to the general hospital, where he heard of the death of Montgomery. The command of his division now devolved upon Morgan, and for more than an hour the Americans withstood the storm of grape-shot and musket-balls at the first barrier, and finally carried it, for the deadly aim of the riflemen caused great consternation in the ranks of the enemy. Passing the first barrier, the patriots rushed on to the second, which commanded both Sault au Matelot and St. Peter's Streets. The defenses here extended from the cliff to the river; and the present custom-house, then a private dwelling, had cannons projecting from the windows of the gable. Here a fierce contest of three hours ensued, and many were killed on both sides. At length the Americans took shelter from the fire of the battery, in the houses on both sides of the street, and in the narrow pass that leads up to Hope Gate. The English and Canadians already occupied houses near, and the patriots were terribly galled on all sides, and from the walls of the city above them. Captain Lamb was severely wounded by a grape-shot, which carried away a part of his cheek-bone, and other officers were more or less injured. The Americans finally captured the barrier, and were preparing to rush into the town, when Carleton sent a large detachment from the garrison, through Palace Gate, to attack them in the rear. The news of the death of Montgomery and the retreat of his detachment gave the people and the troops within the walls fresh courage. Captain Dearborne, with some provincials, was stationed near Palace Gate, and was completely surprised when its leaves were thrown open and the troops rushed out. It was a movement entirely unlooked for ; and so suddenly and in such overwhelming force did the enemy pour upon them, that they were obliged to surrender. While Morgan was pressing on vigorously into the town, he heard of the death of Montgomery, the capture of Dearborne and his company, and the advance of the enemy in his rear. Surrounded by foes on all sides, and every support cut off,
Place when E ARNold was WoundED.1
PALACE GATE, ouTSIDE.”
* This view is in a narrow alley near the north end of Sault au Matelot Street, in the rear of St. Paul's Street. At the time in question St. Paul's Street did not exist, and the water, at high tide, came nearly up to the precipice. The first barrier and battery extended from the jutting rock seen in the picture, to the water. The present alley was then the beach. The circular wall on the top of the rock is a part of the grand battery, one of the most formidable and commanding defenses in the world.
* This is one of the most beautiful gates of the city, and opens toward the St. Charles, on the northern side of the town. A strong guard-house is seen at the left, pierced for muskets to defend the entrance. Immediately adjoining this gate are the artillery barracks. The gate is at the northern extremity of Palace Street, one of the broadest in the city, and “so named,” says Hawkins, “from the circumstance that it led out to the Intendant's house, or palace, which stood on the beach of the St. Charles, where the queen's wood-yard now is.”
Loss of the Americans at Quebec. Recovery and Burial of Montgomery's Body. His Life and Services. Courtesy of Carleton
the patriots yielded, and surrendered themselves prisoners of war." The remainder of the division in the rear retreated to their camp, leaving behind them one field piece and some mortars in a battery at St. Roche. The whole loss of the Americans at Cape Diamond and Sault au Matelot, in killed and wounded, was about one hundred and sixty. The British loss was only about twenty killed and wounded. As soon as hostilities ceased, search was made for the bodies of those who fell with Montgomery. Thirteen were found nearly buried in the snow, and with them was Montgomery's orderly sergeant, dreadfully wounded, but alive. The sergeant would not acknowledge that his general was killed, and persisted in his silence until he died, an hour afterward. For several hours Carleton was uncertain whether the general was slain; but a field officer among the captured troops of Arnold's division recognized the body of the young hero among those in the guard-house, and, it is said, he there pronounced a most touching eulogium on the bravery and worth of the deceased, while tears of grief coursed down his cheeks.” Cramahé, the lieutenant governor, who had known Montgomery years *--- before, took charge of the body, and it was buried 2% 4. 2% a 222 22°ze within a wall that surrounded a powder magazine, 2% e 2 - near the ramparts bounding on St. Louis Street, where it remained forty-two years.” It has been well observed that it would be difficult to select, from so small a body of men as that engaged in besieging Quebec, so large a number who afterward distinguished themselves for patriotism and courage, as that little band pre: sented. Morgan and his rifle corps became world renowned. Dearborn was distinguished
* The force that surrendered consisted of 1 lieutenant colonel, 2 majors, 8 captains, 15 lieutenants, 1 adjutant, 1 quartermaster, 4 volunteers, 350 rank and file, and 44 officers and soldiers, who were wounded, making a total of 426. The prisoners were treated humanely. The officers were confined in the seminary, the oldest literary institution in Quebec. Major Meigs was sent out for the clothing and baggage of the prisoners, and all testified to the humanity of Carleton.
* Montgomery had a watch in his pocket which Mrs. M. was very desirous of obtaining. She made her wishes known to Arnold, who sent word to Carleton that any sum would be paid for it. Carleton immediately sent the watch to Arnold, and refused to receive any thing in return.
* Richard Montgomery was born in the north of Ireland in 1737. He entered the army at the age of twenty, and was with Wolfe at the storming of Quebec in 1759. He was in the campaign against the Spanish West Indies, and afterward resided some time in this country. He quitted his regiment on his return to England in 1772. While here he imbibed an attachment for the country, and returned to make it his home. He purchased an estate upon the Hudson, in Rhinebeck, Dutchess county, and married the daughter of Robert R. Livingston. When the Revolution broke out, he espoused the cause of the colonists, and in the autumn of 1775 was second in command, under Schuyler, in the expedition against Canada, with the rank of brigadier. The illness of Schuyler caused the chief command to devolve upon Montgomery, and in the capture of St. John's, Chambly, and Montreal, and his attack on Quebec, he exhibited great judgment and military skill. He was commissioned a major general before he reached Quebec. In that campaign he had every difficulty to contend with—undisciplined and mutinous troops, scarcity of provisions and ammunition, want of heavy artillery, lack of clothing, the rigor of winter, and desertions of whole companies. Yet he pressed onward, and, in all probability, had his life been spared, would have entered Quebec in triumph. His death was a great public calamity, and throughout the land public honors were paid to his memory. The eloquence of Chatham, Burke, and Barrè sounded his praises upon the floor of the British Parliament, and the prime minister (Lord North), while acknowledging his worth, and reprobating the cause in which he fell, concluded by saying, “Curse on his virtues, they have undone his country.” As soon as the news of his death reached Congress, resolutions of condolence with his family for their bereavement, and expressive of their “grateful remembrance, profound respect, and high veneration,” were adopted. It was voted to erect a monument to his memory, which was accordingly done, in the front of St. Paul's Church in New York city, on which is the following inscription:
Eminent Officers at Quebec. Promotion of Arnold. Blockade of Quebec. Honor to the Memory of Montgomery.
as a skillful officer at Saratoga and other fields of the Revolution, and commanded the troops that captured York, in Upper Canada, in the spring of 1813. Meigs boldly attacked. and destroyed shipping and stores at Sag Harbor, and his regiment, and that of Febiger, were of the forlorn hope at Stony Point. Greene's prowess and skill were well attested at Red Bank, on the Delaware. Thayer behaved nobly in defense of Fort Mifflin, opposite Red Bank. Lamb was distinguished at Compo, Fort Montgomery, and Yorktown. Oswald was at Compo, and fought bravely at Monmouth; and Poterfield was killed at Camden, in South Carolina, when Gates was so terribly defeated there. M'Pherson and Cheeseman," Montgomery's aids, were brave and accomplished, and gave assurance of future renown; but they fell with their leader, and share with him the grateful reverence of posterity.
Colonel Arnold took command of the remnant of the patriot army after the death of Montgomery, and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. He could muster only about eight hundred men; and, feeling unsafe in his camp under the walls of the city, he retired about three miles from the town, intrenched himself as well as circumstances would allow, and assumed the attitude of a blockade, hoping, by cutting off supplies for the city from the country, to bring the enemy to terms. Carleton, feeling secure within the walls, and expecting re-enforcements from England as soon as the ice should move out of the St. Law
In 1818 a request in behalf of the widow of General Montgomery was made to the Governor-in-chief of Canada, Sir John Sherbrooke, to allow his remains to be disinterred and conveyed to New York. The request was readily acceded to, and Mr. James Thompson, of Quebec, who was one of the engineers at the time of the storming of the city, and assisted in burying the general, also assisted in the disinterment, making an affidavit to the identity of the body. He said, in his affidavit, that the body was taken to the house of Mr. Gobert, and placed in a coffin lined with flannel and covered with black cloth; that Rev. Mr. de Montmolin, chaplain to the garrison, performed the funeral service; that Montgomery's aids (M'Pherson and Cheeseman) were buried in their clothes, without coffins; and that he (Thompson) afterward wore Montgomery's sword, but the American prisoners were so affected by the sight of it, that he laid it aside. He identified the coffin taken up on the 16th of June, 1818, as the one. The remains were placed in another coffin and deposited beneath the monument. The following is the inscription upon a silver plate on the coffin: “The state of New York, in honor of General Richard Montgomery, who fell gloriously fighting for the independence and liberty of the United States before the walls of Quebec, the 31st of December, 1775, caused these remains of the distinguished hero to be conveyed from Quebec, and deposited, on the 8th day of July (1818), in St. Paul's Church, in the city of New York, near the monument erected to his memory by the United States.”
General Montgomery left no children whom “the state, in gratitude toward their father, distinguished with every mark of kindness and protection,” as Botta asserts. His widow survived him more than half a century. When at the house of his brother-in-law, the late Peter R. Livingston, at Rhinebeck, a few years ago, I saw an interesting memento of the lamented general. A day or two before he left home to join the army under Schuyler, he was walking on the lawn in the rear of his brother-in-law's mansion with the owner, and as they came near the house, Montgomery stuck a willow twig in the ground, and said, “Peter, let that grow to remember me by.” It did grow, and is now a willow with a trunk at least ten feet in circumference.
* This officer had a presentiment that he should not survive the battle. When preparing to go forth on that stormy December morning, he dressed himself with more care than usual, and putting a considerable sum of money, in gold, in his pocket, remarked, with a smile, “This will insure me a decent burial.” He was of the New York line. A sergeant and eleven men fell with him. He was not instantly killed, but arose to press forward to charge the battery. It was a feeble effort, and he sell back a corpse, in a winding-sheet of snow.
Small-pox in the Army. Preparations to storm Quebec. Arrival and Death of General Thomas. Temperance Cross
rence, remained quiet; and in this relative position the belligerents continued until the 1st of April, when General Wooster, who had remained inactive all winter in Montreal, came down, and, being superior in rank to Arnold, took the chief command. The force which he brought with him, and the small addition made by troops that reached the encampment from New England during the winter, and Canadian recruits, swelled the army to nearly three thousand, eight hundred of whom were sick with the small-pox, which raged terribly in the American camp.
Preparations were made to beleaguer the city at once. A battery was erected upon the Plains of Abraham, and another at Point Levi, and a cannonade was opened upon the town, but without effect. At that moment the falling of Arnold's horse upon his wounded leg so disabled him, that he was unfit for active service, and he asked and obtained leave from General Wooster (with whom he was upon unfriendly terms) to retire to Montreal. General Thomas, who was appointed to succeed Montgomery, arrived early in May, but Carleton having received re-enforcements under Burgoyne, the Americans were obliged to make a hasty retreat, leaving their stores and sick behind. The latter were kindly treated, and finally sent home. At the mouth of the Sorel the Americans were re-enforced, but they could not brave the power of the enemy. General Thomas died there of small-pox, and Sullivan succeeded to the command." But Burgoyne, with a considerable force, was pressing forward, and ultimately, as we have noted in a preceding chapter, the patriots were driven out of Canada.
We have taken a long historic ramble; let us vary our pleasure by a ride to Montmorenci, and a visit to other celebrities about Quebec.
The morning was excessively hot when we left the city for the falls of the Montmorenci. Our egress was from the Palace Gate, and with us was quite a train of vehicles destined for the same point. We passed through the suburb of St. Roche, in the lower town, and crossed over Dorchester Bridge, a noble structure which spans the St. Charles, a short distance below the site of the old bridge fortified by Montcalm. The distance from Quebec to the Montmorenci is between seven and eight miles. The road (McAdamized) is very good, and passes through a rich and thoroughly cultivated region. Like the road from St. John's to Chambly and Longueuil, it is so thickly strewn with farmhouses that we seemed to be in a suburban street the whole distance. The village of Beauport, an old town, where Montcalm's headquarters were, is about midway between the St. Charles and the Montmorenci, and, like other Lower Canadian villages, has an antiquated appearance. Between Quebec and Beauport we passed a large gilt cross reared upon the top of a beautiful Corinthian column, painted white, green, and vermilion. It was erected, as we were told, by some priests in Quebec, and consecrated to the cause of temperance. A strong iron railing incloses it, except in front, where two or three steps lead to a platform at the foot of the column, whereon devout passers-by may kneel in prayer.
PALACE GATE, INSIDE.”
* John Thomas was descended from a respectable family of Plymouth, Massachusetts. He served, with reputation, in the French and Indian war. At the head of a regiment raised by himself in Kingston, Massachusetts, he marched to Roxbury in 1775, and joined the Continental army. Congress appointed him one of the first eight brigadier generals, and he commanded a division at the siege of Boston. In March, 1776, he was appointed a major general, and on the 1st of May following joined the army before Quebec. He died of small-pox, at Chambly, on the 30th of the same month. General Thomas was greatly beloved by his soldiers, and his judgment, prudence, and firmness commended him to Washington as one promising to do much for the cause of the colonists.
* This sketch is a view from within Palace Street, looking out upon the open country beyond the St. Charles. The river, with a few masts, is seen just over the top of the gate. Adjoining the gate, on the right, is seen a portion of the guard-house.