Primary tabs

Further accounts of the unsuccessful attack on Quebeck



[From the New-York Gazette.]

As the publick have, no doubt, received many contradictory accounts relative to the unfortunate attempt against Quebeck on the 31st of December last, and having great reason to think no just one has yet been published, I have (injustice to the characters of many, whose names, perhaps, have not been mentioned, or, if mentioned, not with the respect they deserve) sent you for publication the following sketch of that morning' s transaction; assuring you, at the same time, that I am entirely divested of prejudice; that I was but transiently acquainted with any of the officers of the detachment previous to the attack, and, consequently, can have no interest in suppressing or exaggerating any circumstances, to the injury of any one of them; on the contrary, there is not a circumstance related, respecting the assault, but what I was either an eye-witness to, by being in the front, or had from those whose characters as gentlemen, and conduct as brave soldiers, entitles them to the greatest credibility. Those officers and gentlemen whose names are mentioned, eminently distinguished themselves; their enemies do them the justice to acknowledge it; and I hope their country will amply reward them.

About four o' clock in the morning, the detachment being assembled in St˙ Rogue' s, (together with Captain Lamb and part of his company of Artillery, with a field-piece, mounted on a particular carriage, for the conveniency for carrying it through the snow, though its inefficacy was soon experienced) Captain Eleazer Oswald, with a party of twenty-five men, was detached to attack the enemy' s advanced works at the Saut au Matelot, on the entrance into the lower town, on St˙ Charles' s side, the main body being then in motion to follow, but by the time they came opposite Palace-Gate, the garrison had taken the alarm, and, being apprized of the design, began a heavy fire from the walls, by which they had to pass a full quarter of a mile ere they came to the first place of action; which, with the obstruction occasioned by the field-piece, threw the divisions commanded by Majors Bigelow and Meigs into such confusion, that they lost the right path. However, the advanced party soon reached the barrier, and began the attack, in which they were joined by Colonel Arnold himself, and supported by Captain Daniel Morgan with his company of Riflemen, who were in front of the main body.

In this onset, unfortunately — unfortunately, indeed — Col˙ Arnold received his wound, and was carried off; but, notwithstanding, Captain Morgan and the first party obtained possession of the battery of four guns, took great part of the guard, and a number of inhabitants, who surrendered prisoners. In this situation they were obliged to remain (not being supported by the main body, who had not recovered from their confusion so as to come up) till joined by Lieutenant Steel, with part of Captain Smith' s company. Captain Lamb, with his Artillery company, (who were obliged to quit the field-piece, it being impossible to bring it forward,) Captain Hendricks, with part of his company, and several of the musketeers from the different companies, (after regaining the proper road) in all, about two hundred, when they again formed, and were again led on by Captain Morgan, (upon whom the body then called as their commanding officer) to force the second barrier, which, had they effected, would have given full possession of the lower town; but the enemy having defeated the division which the immortal hero, General Montgomery, led to force their works in the lower town, on the St˙ Lawrence side, had now turned all their force upon this detachment; yet the


dispute remained obstinate for some time, (in which an attempt to scale it was twice made by the intrepid Captain Morgan, whose uncommon presence of mind, and gallant behaviour in this critical situation, were truly conspicuous,) and success till now, seemed inclined to crown their brave endeavours, when they found themselves surrounded on all quarters; a party of near two hundred men, having sallied out at Palace-Gate, attacked and took prisoners all the rear, who had not got within the first barrier, and having brought their cannon, which commanded the river St˙ Charles, to rake the street, were a second time thrown into disorder, and obliged to take possession of the houses, in which they made a resolute stand of full three hours; but finding the enemy' s fire continue, both from their cannon and musketry, and not more than one in ten of their own fire-locks serviceable, the others rendered useless by a snow storm which began in the night, and continued the whole day; and not having the least possibility of making a retreat, were at length obliged to surrender themselves prisoners; which in all human probability would not have been their fate, had those brave officers and soldiers who distinguished themselves in the front, been properly sustained by those who were in the rear; but, on the contrary, from the conduct of the garrison, there was the greatest prospect of carrying the town.

In this glorious though unsuccessful attempt, fell, (besides those in General Montgomery' s division,) while in the utmost exertion of their duty, that excellent young officer, Captain William Hendricks, of Pennsylvania; the truly brave Lieutenant John Humphreys, of Captain Morgan' s company, and Lieutenant Cooper, of Connecticut; Captain Hubbard, of the town of Worcester, in Massachusetts-Bay, died in a few days after, of a wound he received before he reached the first barrier.

The spirited exertions and gallant behaviour of the patriotick John Lamb, the firmness of the indefatigable Captain Samuel Lockwood, (by whose vigilance, both by night and day, with forty men, and a twelve-pounder, in a gondola, eleven armed vessels, with General Prescott, one hundred and thirty officers and soldiers, and one hundred and thirty seamen were taken at Sorel,) and the undaunted resolution shown during the whole conflict by Captains Oswald, Thayer, and Topham; Lieutenants William Heath, Peter O' Brien Bruen, (Charles Potterfield, and John M' Guire, volunteers,) all of Captain Morgan' s company; Steel, of Smith' s; Moody, of Lamb' s; Tisdale, of Ward' s, and several other subalterns, &c˙, has not only crowned them with honour as soldiers, but entitles them to the applause of their bleeding country.

Adjutant Febiger, (a Danish gentleman, who holds a lieutenancy in the King of Denmark' s service,) behaved with all the resolution, calmness, and intrepidity, peculiar to an old veteran and an experienced officer; and has given many specimens of his great military abilities.

In justice to Mr˙ Matthew Duncan, a volunteer from Philadelphia, who was made a prisoner the day after, owing purely to his enterprising spirit, in coming voluntarily to know whether the detachment were in possession of the lower town, agreeable to a report then prevailing in the camp, I do assure the publick, that the enemy gave him the character such a young adventurer deserves; and that many of them appeared surprised so young a man could be able to maintain the justness of the cause in which he was engaged with so much spirit, sensibility, and firmness. Indeed, it was frequently mentioned, that his zeal carried him so far as to insult, in his turn, some of the principal officers, as they marched him to the main guard; meaning (I suppose) his asking Colonel Maclean, in a sarcastical manner, if he did not land at New-York, alluding to a belief then entertained, that he was there obliged to give his parole for his future conduct.