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Letter from General Wooster to Colonel Warner


Montreal, January 6, 1776.

DEAR SIR: With the greatest distress of mind, I now sit down to inform you of the event of an unfortunate attack made upon Quebeck, between the hours of four and six, of the morning of the 31st of December; unfortunate, indeed, for us; in it fell our brave General, Montgomery, his Aid-de-camp, Macpherson, Captain Cheeseman, Captain Hendricks, of the riflemen, and two or three subaltern officers, and between sixty and a hundred privates, (the number not certainly known,) and about three hundred officers and soldiers taken prisoners, among which are Lieutenant-Colonel Greene, Major Bigelow, Major Meigs, and a number of Captains and inferior officers. Colonel Arnold was wounded in the leg, in the beginning of the action, as was Major Ogden, in the shoulder, and brought off to the General Hospital.

I have not time to give you all the particulars, but thus much will serve to show you that, in consequence of this defeat, our prospects are rendered very dubious; and, unless we can be quickly reinforced, perhaps they may be fatal, not only to us, who are stationed here, but, also, to the Colonies in general; the frontiers, especially, greatly, very greatly, depend upon keeping possession of this country.

You know, as well as any man, the temper, disposition, and character of the Canadians; they are not persevering in adversity; that they are not to be depended upon, but, like the Savages, are extremely fond of choosing the strongest parly: add to this, our enemies in this country, of whom there are very many, use every method to excite the Canadians against us; among other things, they tell them that the United Colonies intend to abandon the country. The clergy refuse absolution to all who have shown themselves our friends, and preach up damnation to all those who will not take up arms against us, and tell them that, even now, it is not too late; that we are but a handful of men, &c˙, &c.

I have sent an express to General Schuyler, General Washington, and the Congress; but you know how far they have to go, and that it is very uncertain how long it will be before we can have relief from them; therefore, let me beg of you, to collect, immediately, as many men as you can find, (six or seven hundred, if it can be done,) and, some how or other, get into this country, and stay with us till we can have relief from the Colonies.

You are sensible we have provisions, of all kinds, enough, and the weather, in this country, is far, very far, from being so frightful as many have imagined.

You will see that proper officers and soldiers are appointed under you, and both officers and soldiers shall be paid as other Continental troops. It would be well for your men to set out as fast as they can be collected; not so much matter whether together, or not; but let them set out by tens, twenties, thirties, forties, or fifties, as they can be first collected, for it must have a good effect upon the minds of the Canadians, to see succours coming on.

You will be good enough to send copies of this letter to the people below you.

To Colonel Warner.