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An Account of the State of Quebeck



The detachment which General Washington sent into Canada, under the command of Colonel Arnold, consisted, originally, of eight hundred men; but there not being sufficiency of provisions, Colonel Arnold sent three hundred back, and, with the remaining five hundred, (one hundred of whom were Riflemen,) took the route of the Rivers Kennebeck and Chaudiere, a part of the detachment marching by land on the bank of the river, and the rest were carried in batteaus. Their progress was slow, (about five or ten miles a day,) as they were often obliged to cut their way through the woods, the batteaus keeping company with them on shore, and at night encamping together; at those places where the batteaus could not proceed, they were carried on the shoulders of four men. They had a difficult and dangerous route, but bore it with spirit and resolution, and at last reached Point Levi, opposite Quebeck. The Canadians received them with great cheerfulness, and supplied them with provisions. Their arrival at Point Levi was the first notice the Governour of Quebeck had of their march. The Lizard, man-of-war, anchored off the Town; the Hornet, sloop-of-war, between that and Wolfe' s Cove;


the Gaspee, an armed schooner, opposite to it, and another armed schooner higher up; armed boats every night were stationed round, to prevent Colonel Arnold passing the river. He remained here four days, till the Canadians had got together boats enough for his purpose. He crossed at night, and the first intelligence which the ships of war received was from an armed boat whom the Provincials hailed as they were going to land at Wolfe' s Cove, and whom, on the boat' s not answering, they fired at. The boat gave an alarm to the Lizard, man-of-war; upon which a Lieutenant was despatched, at twelve that night, with advice to the Governour, though the delays at Quebeck prevented his acquainting him with it till seven the next morning. The Governour immediately summoned first the merchants, and asked them if they would defend the Town; which they promised him to do. He then sent for the officers of the militia, who gave him the same assurance; and lastly, the Captains of the merchant vessels, who also promised their assistance. Upon which the gates were shut, and preparations made for defence. Colonel Arnold, the next morning after his landing, formed his men not far from the Town. About three hundred of the garrison marched out with an apparent alacrity to attack him. The Colonel instantly put his men in motion in order to receive them; upon which they retreated with precipitation. The gates were immediately shut, that of St˙ John' s with difficulty; for, whether by design or otherwise, the keys were not to be found, and the fastening in such a situation that they were obliged to procure handspikes and ropes. This gate, which was the most important, was under the command of the French militia. The same disorder or design was so prevalent on the ramparts, that they had not matches to supply the guns, but were obliged to send for them to the Lizard, man-of-war. In all probability, had Colonel Arnold attacked the Town, he would have carried it; but not having artillery, he deemed it most prudent to wait for General Montgomery; he therefore contented himself with encamping his Army on the heights.

The 20th of November, General Carleton arrived, having left Montreal in a dark night, with about sixty men. They escaped in boats, and got on board a brigantine, which brought them to Quebeck. He could not have executed this design in the daytime, as the Provincials had erected batteries on each side of the river, which effectually stopped the communication between Quebeck and Montreal, and occasioned orders being given to destroy two armed schooners, to prevent their falling into the hands of the Provincials. Montreal has capitulated; so that all the Regulars are now prisoners of war, with the stores, except the gunpowder, which was put on board the schooner.

The Canadians are, in general, favourable to the Americans, and were of great use to General Montgomery in the taking St˙ John' s and Chambly, by supplying them with necessaries. They receive them into their houses, bring them provisions, and seem well pleased with their guests. In return, the Provincials observe an exact discipline, and are very careful in protecting the property of the inhabitants. These favourable sentiments of the Canadians, to the Provincials, arise from the great dislike they have to the Quebeck Act. Even the British merchants, though they have taken up arms, yet apparently act with reluctance, being very ill-disposed towards General Carleton, who has treated them with great coolness, placing his confidence in the French noblesse. This conduct the General pursued on the first reception of the news that the Provincials were entering Canada. They went in a body to him, and requested to be embodied. He gave them no kind of answer, and persisted in the same disposition, when they a second time made application to him, after he had quitted Quebeck to go to Montreal; at last, Governour Cramahé; embodied them, at the approach of Colonel Arnold.

That officer (Arnold) hath done nothing but shown himself before Quebeck. Indeed, the greatest part of the detachment are marched towards Montreal; no attempt is therefore expected to be made till the arrival of General Montgomery.

The garrison of Quebeck, when this account came away, consisted of thirty-six of —; sixty of Carleton' s men, partly French, partly English; eighty of Maclean' s new-raised corps; three hundred merchants and their servants; three hundred Canadians; and three hundred and


fifty sailors: the two former irresolute, already disgusted with the service, and greatly complaining of the fatigue; the sailors, therefore, are the people to be depended upon. The inhabitants will not, most probably, choose to sustain a siege, as by a surrender they will secure their effects, which, by an opposition, they will run the risk of losing; and there is not the least probability of the merchants being able to support the fatigue of defending, and the Canadians are too much friends to the Provincials warmly to oppose them. The sailors, on whom the only reliance can be placed, are not sufficiently numerous to preserve the Town, when the wishes of the inhabitants will be for a surrender. Though General Carleton is a man of the greatest intrepidity, and he has the assistance of Colonel Maclean, yet he appears greatly chagrined at affairs turning out so contrary to his expectations, that it evidently preys on his spirits.

The expectations from Colonel Maclean are entirely vanished. He was deserted by his people at the River Sorel, and obliged to fly, with eighty men, to Quebeck, with great expedition. The Highlanders he enlisted were so few as not to be worth mentioning. There were about one hundred came from the Island of St˙ John' s, trading to Quebeck, but who have not entered as soldiers; and from thence, on the expectation that they would enlist, I suppose the report arose of his having raised a Regiment of them; but so far from enlisting Highlanders in our service, I am informed, from good authority, that the Provincials have now a Regiment of Highlanders in their pay, consisting of eight hundred men, all volunteers.

It is very probable that Quebeck may not be taken till the month of January, except General Montgomery sends down his artillery by water; he cannot so conveniently bring it down by land till the frosts set in. The cold is indeed severe, but his people are mured to it; and as the country about Qubeck is very populous, and the inhabitants friendly, he will find good quarters in the neighbourhood of the Town; which, with the weakness of the garrison, and the divisions in the place, there is little doubt of the Provincials being masters of it.

The behaviour of General Montgomery to his prisoners was much applauded; but there had letters passed between General Carleton and him, wherein he complained of the treatment of those taken at Montreal, and that he hoped that General Carleton would not put him under the necessity of showing the same.

There is a Regiment in the interior parts of Canada, at Niagara, Detroit, &c˙, which, if they have not provisions, must come in and surrender.