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Letter from General Montgomery to General Schuyler



Holland-House, near the Heights of Abraham,

December 5, 1775.

MY DEAR GENERAL: I have been this evening favoured with yours of the 19th ult˙, and return you many thanks for your warm congratulations. Nothing shall be wanting on my part to reap the advantage of our good fortune. The season has proved so favourable as to enable me to join Colonel Arnold at Point-aux-Trembles, where I arrived with the vessels Mr˙ Prescott made us a present of. They carried the few troops, about three hundred, which were equipped for a winter campaign, with the artillery, &c. Colonel Livingston is on his way, with some part of his regiment of Canadians.

Mr˙ Carleton, who is I suppose ashamed to show himself in England, is now in town, and puts on the show of defence. The works of Quebeck are extremely extensive, and very incapable of being defended.

His garrison consists of Maclean' s banditti, the sailors from the frigates and other vessels laid up, together with the citizens obliged to take up arms, most of whom are impatient of the fatigues of a siege, and wish to see maters accommodated amicably. I propose amusing Mr˙ Carleton with a formal attack, erecting batteries, &c˙, but


mean to assault the works, I believe, towards the lower town, which is the weakest part. I have this day written to Mr˙ Carleton, and also to the inhabitants, which I hope will have some effect. I shall be very sorry to be reduced to this mode of attack, because I know the melancholy consequences, but the approaching severe season, and the weakness of the garrison, together with the nature of the works, point it out too strong to be passed by.

I find Colonel Arnold' s corps an exceeding fine one, inured to fatigue, and well accustomed to cannon shot, (at Cambridge.) There is a style of discipline among them, much superior to what I have been used to see this campaign. He himself is active, intelligent, and enterprising. Fortune often baffles the sanguine expectations of poor mortals. I am not intoxicated with the favours I have received at her hands, but I do think there is a fair prospect of success.

The Governour has been so kind as to send out of town many of our friends who refused to do military duty; among them several very intelligent men, capable of doing me considerable service. One of them, a Mr˙ Antill, I have appointed chief engineer; Mr˙ Mott and all his suite having returned home. Be so good as to show Congress the necessity I was under of clothing the troops, to induce them to stay and undertake this service, at such an inclement season. I think had their Committee been with me, they would have seen the propriety of grasping at every circumstance;in my power, to induce them to engage again. I wasnot without my apprehensions of not only being unable to make my appearance here, but even of being obliged to relinquish the ground I had gained. However, I hope the clothing and dollar bounty will not greatly exceed the bounty offered by Congress. Whilst the affair of Chambly was in agitation, Major Brown, as I am well informed, made some promises to the Canadians who engaged in that service, which I believe I must, from motives of policy as well as justice, make good, viz: to share the stores, excepting ammunition and artillery. When matters are settled, I shall pay them in money, being inconvenient to part with the provisions.

Upon another occasion, I have also ventured to go beyond the letter of the law. Colonel Easton' s detachment, at the mouth of the Sorel, was employed on the important service of stopping the fleet; they were half naked, and the weather was very severe. I was afraid that not only they might grow impatient and relinquish the business in hand, but I also saw the reluctance the troops at Montreal showed to quit it. By way of stimulant, I offered as a reward, all publick stores taken in the vessels, to the troops who went forward, except ammunition and provisions. Warner' s corps refused to march, or at least declined it. Bedel' s went on, and came in for a share of the labour and honour, I hope the Congress will not think this money ill laid out,

With a year' s clothing of the 7th and 26th, I have relieved the distresses of Arnold' s corps, and forwarded the clothing of some other corps. The greatest part of that clothing is a fair prize, except such as immediately belonged to the prisoners taken on board; they must be paid for theirs, as it was their own property. We shall have more time hereafter to settle this affair. Should there be any reason to apprehend an effort next spring to regain Canada, I would not wish to see less than ten thousand men ordered here. The Canadians will be our friends as long as we arguable to maintain our ground, but they must not be depended upon, especially for defensive operations. The great distance from any support or relief renders it in my opinion absolutely necessary to make the most formidable preparations for the security of this important Province. What advantages the country below Quebeck affords for defence I cannot yet assert, but the Rapids of Richlieu, some miles above, may be defended against all the navy and all the military force of Great Britain, by such a body of troops as I have mentioned, provided with sufficient artillery, row-gallies, and proper vessels fitted for fire-ships.

Some time since you desired a return from General Wooster of the men he has discharged between Albany and Ticonderoga. I was afraid there might be something disagreeable to him in the desire, and as it was too critical a time to put any body out of humour, I therefore suppressed


it. I shall now make him acquainted with your pleasure on that head.

There are several appointments I have thought necessary to make, which I shall soon make known to you. I hope the Congress will not yield to any solicitations to the prejudice of the troops who have borne the burden of the service here. I have paid particular attention to Colonel Arnold' s recommendations. Indeed I must say he has brought with him many pretty young men.

I don' t know whether I informed you, that it was in vain to think of engaging the troops for twelve months. The 15th of April, which allows them time to plant their corn upon returning home, was all I dared to ask. I hope the proper measures will be taken for sending fresh troops into the country before that time.