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Abstract of Lieutenant Benjamin Whitcomb' s report


Abstract of Lieutenant Benjamin Whitcomb' s Report.

Lieutenant Whitcomb departed from the fleet, then stationed at Isle-la-Motte on the 7th of September, and reached the Isle-aux-Noix that day, when he was seized with the fever and ague, several fits of which were very troublesome to him during his scout. He observed about one thousand men encamped on Isle-aux-Noix, but neither a vessel nor a batteau; and he sent one of his men to inform General Arnold of that circumstance. On the 13th, being concealed near the road between St˙ John' s and La Prairie, he saw seventy-two armed Indians going from St˙ John' s to Montreal; and before they were out of sight, two men coming after them. He then sallied out, told these they were his prisoners, that they must go to Ticonderoga and see General Gates. Lieutenant Whitcomb and two men he had with him, being designedly dressed in such manner that they could not be supposed military men, one of the prisoners (who afterwards declared himself to be Ensign Saunders, of the Twenty-Ninth Regiment) asked him whether he were not a Canadian, as he was assured he (the Lieutenant) was not a soldier. The Lieutenant answered him, "soldier or no soldier, you must go with me," and immediately ordered the Ensign and his companion, a Corporal of the same regiment, to march out of the road. They then offered him a sum of money to let them go; but he told them he "would not for all the money King George was worth." They all marched on, and the Lieutenant, notwithstanding the ague, as well as the scouting parties of the enemy to intercept ours and apprehend their deserters, safely brought his two prisoners to the place where he left the fleet, which he could not see; at which, with an intent to try his prisoners, who were extremely reserved, he feigned to be much alarmed. As the Lieutenant had no more provisions left, the prisoners who were already much fatigued and tired of sharing with the Lieutenant the allowance of a small bit of biscuit and raw pork, and lying in swamps, were exceedingly afraid of being compelled to undergo a tedious march through the woods, and be exposed to the danger of starving. On his telling the prisoners that the enemy must certainly have taken our fleet or driven them off, they answered it was impossible, encouraged Mr˙ Whitcomb to go on and look for our fleet, which they assured could not be far off. And indeed, it was so, as the Lieutenant himself had judged, no uncommon firing having been heard by him or his party. The fleet was not above six miles off, and he saw several


Indians come near to them to view our vessels, and observe their motions. He sent off to General Arnold one of his men, who having returned on the next day morning, with a batteau, favoured them with an opportunity to join the fleet on the 17th, after having crossed the river on a small raft.