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Captain Forster on his first appearance, sent CHAP. V. in a flag requiring a surrender, and major 1776. Butterfield offered to capitulate and give up the fort, on being permitted to withdraw with the garrison and all their baggage, to Montreal. These terms were refused, and, the assailants being entirely destitute of artillery, the fort was attacked with musketry. By this mode of attack no serious impression could possibly be made, and in the course of two days only one man was wounded. Yet major Butterfield, intimidated by the threat, that if any Indians should be killed during the siege, it would be out of the power of captain Forster to restrain them from massacreing every individual of the garrison, consented to a capitulation, by which he and his whole party were made prisoners of war, only stipulating for their baggage and their lives.
The next day, major Sherburne approached without having received any information that Butterfield had surrendered. Within about four miles of the Cedars, he was attacked by a considerable body of Indians, and he too, after a conflict of near an hour, in the course of which a party of the enemy gained his rear, surrendered at discretion.
Having obtained information of these untoward events, Arnold, at the head of seven hundred men marched against the enemy then at Vaudreuil, in the hope of recovering the VOL. II.
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CHAP. V. American prisoners. When preparing for the 1776. engagement, he received a flag, accompanied
by major Sherburne, giving him the most
At the mouth of the Sorel, after the death of general Thomas, re-enforcements assembled, which increased the army to about four or five thousand men. General Sullivan now came up, and the command devolved on him.
The friendly Canadians in that part of the country, who had supposed themselves abandoned, manifested great joy on seeing general
General Sullivan takes the command,
s Journal of Congrc88.
Sullivan arrive with re-enforcements which ap- CHAP. V. peared to them very considerable; and offered 1776. every assistance in their power. He calculated on their joining him in very great numbers, and entertained. sanguine hopes of recovering and maintaining the post of De Chambeau. As a previous measure, it was necessary to dislodge the enemy at the Three Rivers.
Carleton was not immediately in a situation to follow up the blow given the Americans at Quebec, and to drive them entirely out of the province; but the respite allowed them was not of long duration.
Towards the end of May, large re-enforcements arrived from England and Ireland, so that the British army in Canada amounted to about thirteen thousand men. The general rendezvous appointed for these troops was at the Three Rivers, a long village about midway between Quebec and Montreal, which receives its name from its contiguity to a river that empties itself, by three mouths, into the St. Lawrence. The army was greatly divided. A considerable body had reached the Three Rivers, and was stationed there under the command of general Frazer. Another under general Nesbit lay near them on board the transports. A greater than either, with the generals Carleton, Burgoyne, Philips, and the German
CHAP. V. general Reidesel, was on its way from Quebec. 1776. The distance from the Sorel was about fifty
miles, and several armed vessels and transports full of troops, which had gotten about five miles higher up than the Three Rivers, lay full in the way.
General Thompson, who had commanded the army after the illness of general Thomas, understanding the party at the Three Rivers to consist of about eight hundred men, partly Canadians under M‘Clean, had detached colonel St. Clair with between six and seven hundred men to attack his camp, if it should appear practicable to do, so with any probability of success. Colonel St. Clair advanced to Nicolet, where, believing himself not strong enough for the service on which he had been ordered, he waited until he should receive further reenforcements or additional instructions. At this time, general Sullivan came up, and un. derstanding the enemy to be very weak at the Three Rivers, ordered general Thompson to join colonel St. Clair at Nicolet, with a reenforcement of between thirteen and fourteen hundred men, and to take command of the whole detachment, which would then amount to about two thousand. With this detachment, general Thompson was to attack the enemy at the Three Rivers, provided there was a favour. able prospect of success.
General Thompson embarked in boats provided for the purpose, and coasting the south
side of what is called the lake St. Peter, where CHAP. V. the St. Lawrence spreads to a great extent, 1776. arrived at Nicolet, where he joined colonel St. Clair. Believing himself strong enough to execute the service consigned to him, as his intelligence respecting the enemy was contra. dictory, making them from five to fifteen hundred, he fell down the river by night, and passed to the other side, with an intention of surprising the forces under general Frazer. The plan was to attack the village a little before break of day, at the same instant, by a strong June 8. detachment at each end; whilst two smaller corps were drawn up to cover and support them.
Though this plan was well laid, and consi. derable resolution was discovered in its execution, the concurrence of too many circumstances were necessary to give it success. It is probable that so hazardous an attempt would not have been made, but for a resolution of congress, stating the absolute necessity of keeping possession of that country, and their expectation that the force in that department would contest every foot of ground with the enemy. The troops passed the armed vessels without being perceived, but arrived at Three Rivers about an hour later than had been intended; in consequence of which, they were discovered, and the alarm given at their landing. They were fired on by the ships in the river, to avoid which they attempted to pass through