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Letter from General Arnold to General Washington



Montreal, May 8, 1776.

DEAR GENERAL: Your favour of the 3d April I received a few days since, and should have answered by the last post but was obliged to go to Chambly to give directions about some gondolas building there. I heartily congratulate you on the success of your arms against Boston, and am sorry it is not in my power to give you a more pleasing account of our affairs in this country — which wear no very favourable aspect at present. General Thomas arrived here about seven days since, and has joined the Army before Quebeck. General Wooster is disgusted, and expected here daily.

Our Army consists of few more than two thousand effective men, and twelve hundred sick and unfit for duty, chiefly with the small-pox, which is universal in the country. We have very little provisions, no cash, and less credit, and, until the arrival of the heavy cannon and two mortars from Cambridge, our artillery has been trifling; the mortars I expect will reach camp to-morrow, and shells can be supplied from Three-Rivers. I hope they will have the desired effect. The want of cash has greatly retarded our operations in this country. We are fortifying two very important posts which command the river at Richelieu, fifteen leagues above Quebeck, and at Jacques Carrier, which commands a pass between two mountains, eleven leagues above Quebeck. If succours should arrive before we can possess ourselves of Quebeck, I hope we shall be able to maintain these two posts until a reinforcement arrives to our assistance, which we are told are on their way here. These are the only posts that secure the river until you approach near Montreal, and of so much consequence that nothing but superior numbers will oblige us to abandon them. I have mounted three twenty-four-pounders on a gondola, and armed several batteaus, which go down the river to-morrow. These, with a schooner mounting ten guns, and a gondola mounting one twelve-pounder, are all the force we have in the river. Four other gondolas are building at Chambly, calculated to mount three heavy pieces of cannon; but will not be complete these two weeks. To-morrow I set off for the Army, with no very agreeable prospects before me. Should the enemy receive any considerable reinforcement soon, I make no doubt we shall have our hands full; at any rate, we will do all that can be expected from raw troops, badly clothed and fed, and worse paid, and without discipline, and trust the event to Providence. We have received advice that the Eighth Regiment, of about four hundred men, with a number of savages, are coming down from the upper countries. I have posted five hundred men at the Cedars, a narrow pass fifteen leagues above this place. They have two pieces of cannon and well intrenched, by which the enemy must pass. I have only time to beg you will accept my best wishes and respectful compliments, and make the same to the gentlemen of your family.

I am, most respectfully, dear General, your obedient and very humble servant,


To His Excellency General Washington.