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Letter from General Arnold: Condition of the Army before Quebeck



You doubtless expect news from me, but I can write you very little. I expected before this to have had a reinforcement of three or four thousand men, but have not received one thousand. We have been some time busy in collecting materials for batteries — one, of four guns, on Point-Levi, I expect will be opened in two or three days, which will command the shipping and great part of the town; and one on the Heights of Abraham of eight guns, one howitzer and two mortars; which I hope will have the desired effect; in case they fail, we have ladders, &c˙, for a storm. The frigate in the harbour is bending her sails, I am apprehensive with Intention to give us the slip as soon as the ice will permit; to prevent which, we have one gondola, with a twelve-pounder mounted, and are preparing another of the same strength, which I am in hopes will command the river. We labour under almost as many difficulties as the Israelites did of old, obliged to make brick without straw. However, we hope matters will take a more favourable turn. The season remains very severe here. We have near five feet snow on the ground, and in most places sufficiently hard to bear a man and horse, though under the snow the frost is entirely out of the ground. We have four hundred sick and wounded in the hospitals. Captain Schillenger, of Long-Island, and Mr˙ Seaban, of Massachusetts, died here a few days since; the latter was the first volunteer who arrived here after our repulse, with a company. I am so far recovered of my wound, that two days since I rode fourteen miles on horseback, and walked five more, reconnoitring, which fatigued me so much I have hardly been able to walk since.

March 28, 1776. — Three days since I had advice that a party of sixty men from Quebeck were landed at St˙ Pierre' s, ten leagues down the river, and that they had seized a convoy of provisions coming to the camp, with two Commissaries. I immediately sent Major Dubois, with eighty men, in pursuit of them, who came up with a party of fifty-odd, attacked and killed two, wounded two others, and took thirty-eight prisoners, (most of them French,) who are just arrived here. Major Dubois wrote that he had intelligence of two hundred and fifty men being in arms below. Colonel Nicholson has joined him with seventy men, and are gone in pursuit of the enemy, and will, I make no doubt, give a good account of them. The inhabitants are generally in our favour, and many of them have taken up arms for us, or rather, for themselves.