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Account of the Maneuvers and Movements of the Army in Canada


[No˙ 3.]

An Account of the Manoeuvres and Movements of the Army in CANADA, under General MONTGOMERY.

September 10, 1775.

A detachment from Colonels Hinman, Waterbury, McDougall, and Van Schaick' s, Regiments, amounting to about eight hundred men, under the command of Brigadier-General Montgomery, embarked at Isle-aux-Noix, proceeded towards St˙ John' s, and landed, at nine in the evening, about three miles from that place, at a breastwork thrown up by the Troops who had been there before. From this place, five hundred men of those Regiments, besides officers, under the command of Lieut˙ Col˙ Ritzema, marched to take post on the other side of St˙ John' s. After they had been gone about a quarter of an hour, a noise was heard, and a report prevailed that they were returning. In a few minutes after, two or three of McDougall' s men, who were in the rear, came to the breastwork, and said they had been waylaid by a party of Regulars and Indians, and that the whole detachment were retreating. The same story was told by several stragglers from the other Regiments, though at this time not a gun had been fired, except one by a man of the detachment. The officers remaining in the breastwork endeavoured to rally the Troops who had fled, and with some effect; but they could not prevent others from flying, who, in order to escape being sent back, fled through the woods to the breastwork, and avoided the shore, (the way in which they first marched out.) On searching into the cause of this strange affair, it appeared that one of the parties, who flanked the advanced guard, being unable from the thickness of the woods to keep within it, and apprehensive of being separated from the main body, had come in towards it, and fell in just at the rear of Hinman' s, who led, and front of Waterbury. The noise they made in the woods threw a panick on this part of the men, which, quickly spreading to the rest, occasioned the flight. On the return of Colonel Ritzema, who declared the Troops had all left him, General Montgomery determined to try whether, upon an explanation of the matter, they would march again. They were accordingly paraded, and exhorted by the General to do their duty, who mentioned every motive which could induce them to act like men. They then marched in the same order as before, till they came near another breastwork which had been thrown up before, when they were fired upon by one or two swivels from the river. In this intrenchment there was a small house, in which they found a few people, who fired one musket and then attempted to escape, in doing which a Canadian and an Indian were killed. Our Troops took possession of the work, and Colonel Ritzema ordered them to parade, that they might proceed; but found he had not above fifty men. In a little time they increased to about two hundred, and the rest having retired to the other breastwork, the General ordered these two hundred thither likewise, where they arrived about three in the morning, and determined to make another attempt at daylight. September 11th, at the request of some of the officers, the General called a council of war, at which Col˙ Waterbury and Col˙ Ritzema, Majors Elmore, Zedtwitz, and Dimon, Captains Starr, Smith, Bearsley, Reed, Brown, Weisenfels, Willet, Motte, Lyon, Yates, McCrackin, and Livingston, assisted, and it was unanimously agreed that the detachment should proceed as before ordered, and that the


remainder should take post at the other breastwork, in order to divert the attention of the enemy, but that the Troops should declare whether they were willing to march, On being asked, they all declared they were, and accordingly orders were given to embark; the remainder to proceed as advised by the council of war. Before this, Lieutenant Lockwood had been ordered down the river to reconnoitre, and just now returned with intelligence that the armed vessel of the enemy was lying at a point about a mile and a half below, completely equipped. This information rendered it necessary to remove the boats up the river for security, and the opinion of the same council (at the request of some of the officers) was asked, as to the expediency of marching the detachment, seeing the boats must be taken to the Isle-aux-Noix. The majority of voices was for embarking the whole, and returning to that island. On the way the General ordered the boats to stop at a point eight miles from St˙ John' s, to try the temper of the Troops, and know whether they would march from thence; but here the opinion of the majority of the council of war was against the measure, and the whole detachment returned to Isle-aux-Noix, without any molestation, except the throwing a few shells, on our leaving the breastwork, which they continued for an hour and a half, without doing any damage. When the halt was made at the point, the General and Captains, with a few for guards, disembarked, and on cry by one of the men that the boats were coming, the Troops were with difficulty restrained from pushing off without their officers.