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Colonel Arnold to General Washington



Second Portage from Kennebeck to the Dead River, October 13, 1775.

MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY: A person going down the river presents the first opportunity I have had of writing to your Excellency since I left Fort Western; since which we have had a very fatiguing time; the men in general not understanding batteaus, have been obliged to wade and haul them more than half way up the river. The last division is just arrived; three divisions are over the first carrying place, and, as the men are in high spirits, I make no doubt of reaching the River Chaudiere in eight or ten days; the greatest difficulty being, I hope, already past.

We have now with us about twenty-five days' provisions for the whole detachment, consisting of about nine hundred and fifty effective men. I intend making an exact return, but must defer it till I come to Chaudiere.

I have ordered the Commissary to hire people acquainted with the river, and forward on the provisions left behind (about one hundred barrels) to the great carrying place, to secure our retreat. The expense will be considerable, but when set in competition with the lives or liberties of so many brave men, I think it trifling; and if we succeed, the provisions will not be lost.

I have had no intelligence from General Schuyler or Canada, and expect none till I reach Chaudiere Pond, where I expect a return of my express, and to determine my plan of operations: which, as it is to be governed by circumstances, I can say no more than, if we are obliged to return, I believe we shall have a sufficiency of provisions to reach this place, where the supply I ordered the Commissary to send forward will enable us to return on our


way home so far that your Excellency will be able to relieve us. If we proceed on, we shall have a sufficient stock to reach the French inhabitants, (where we can be supplied,) if not Quebeck.

Your Excellency may possibly think we have been tardy in our march, as we have gained too little; but when you consider the badness and weight of the batteaus, and large quantity of provisions, &c˙, we have been obliged to force up against a very rapid stream, where you would have taken the men for amphibious animals, as they were a great part of the time under water, add to this the great fatigue in portage, you will think I have pushed the men as fast as they could possibly bear. The officers, volunteers, and privateers in general, have acted with the greatest spirit and industry.

I am, with the greatest respect, your Excellency' s most obedient humble servant,


His Excellency General Washington.