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Letter from Colonel Arnold to General Washington



Camp before Quebeck, January 14, 1776.

DEAR SIR: I make no doubt you will soon hear of our misfortune on the 31st ultimo, and be very anxious to know our present situation. Our loss and repulse struck an amazing panick into both officers and men, and had the enemy improved their advantage, our affairs here must have been entirely ruined. It was not in my power to prevail on the officers to attempt saving our mortars which had been placed in St˙ Roque' s, of course they fell into the hands of the enemy. Upwards of one hundred officers and soldiers instantly set off for Montreal, and it was with the greatest difficulty I could persuade the rest to make a stand. The panick soon subsided, I arranged the men in such order as effectually to blockade the city, and enable them to assist each other if attacked. It was urged by the officers to move our ammunition and artillery stores, of which we had a large quantity, and though the risk was great, I could not approve the measure as it would undoubtedly have made unfavourable impressions on the minds of the Canadians, and induced them to withdraw their assistance, which must have ended in our utter ruin. I, therefore, put the best face on matters, and betrayed no marks of fear. I have withdrawn the cannon from our battery and placed them round the Magazine. Our present force is only seven hundred. I am in daily expectation of a reinforcement from Montreal of two or three hundred men. I expected General Wooster, but find he cannot leave Montreal. Colonel Clinton is just arrived. I have put on foot the raising a regiment of two or three hundred Canadians, which I make no doubt of effecting. Our finances are very low; however, I hope we shall be able to rub along. Mr˙ Price is our only resource, and has exerted himself. I wait with great anxiety the arrival of a reinforcement from below. I have wrote the honourable Congress my opinion that five thousand men will be necessary to insure us Quebeck, though it may possibly be reduced with a less number; it appears a blockade may answer the purpose. I think Quebeck an object of too much consequence to trust it to the event. If reduced, five thousand men will be necessary for a garrison.

Your favour of the 5th ultimo, is just come to hand. It gives me a most sensible pleasure to have your approbation of my conduct. I beg you would accept my thanks for the notice you have been pleased to take of me and my officers, in your new establishment. Most of them are provided for in an unexpected manner, not very pleasing to me.

Enclosed is a list of the killed and wounded . Both officers and men behaved with the greatest intrepidity; and had not the General been basely deserted by his troops, we should doubtless have carried the town. My detachment had carried the first battery; my being wounded, and the loss of their guides, retarded them much. After the death of the General, they sustained the force of the whole garrison for a considerable time, who fired from under cover, and had every advantage of situation. Their retreat was cut off by the enemy' s gaining a narrow defile through which they were obliged to pass. They were overpowered by numbers and obliged to resign, though deserving a better fate. Governour Carleton treats them with humanity, and has given leave for their baggage to be sent in to them.

I heartily congratulate you on the success of your privateers. I think the balance of the last year' s account is still in our favour, though we have met a severe check here. I hope soon to have the pleasure of seeing General Lee, or some experienced officer, here.

I heartily wish you the protection and blessing of the Almighty, and am, with very great respect and esteem, dear sir, your obedient, humble servant,


To General Washington.