American traitor Benedict Arnold, a 34 year old Connecticut merchant at the beginning of the Revolution, had considerable military ability, as he first demonstrated in his epic march through the Maine wilderness in September-November 1775 on his way to join in a two-pronged attack on Quebec, Brigadier General Richard Montgomery leading the other prong up Lake Champlain. Traveling over 350 wilderness miles, ill-supplied, Arnold’s force of 1100 was reduced to 600 starving men by the time they reached the Saint Lawrence River on November 9, 1775 across from Quebec. It was a miracle that Arnold was able to complete the march with such a sizable force. On November 8, Arnold sent off a report to Washington:
COLONEL ARNOLD TO GENERAL WASHINGTON.Point Levi, November 8, 1775.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY: My last letter was of the 27th ultimo, from Chaudiere Pond, advising your Excellency that as the detachment were short of provisions, by reason of losing many of our batteaus, I had ordered Colonel Enos to send back the sick and feeble, and those of his division who could not be supplied with fifteen days’ provisions, and that I intended proceeding the next day, with fifteen men, to Sartigan, to send back provisions to the detachment. I accordingly set out the 28th, early in the morning, and descended the river, amazingly rapid and rocky for about twenty miles, where we had the misfortune to stave three of our batteaus and lose their provisions, &c˙, but happily no lives. I then divided the little provisions left, and proceeded on with the two remaining batteaus and six men, and very fortunately reached the French inhabitants the 30th, at night, who received us in the most hospitable manner, and sent off early the next morning a supply of fresh provisions, flour, &c˙, to the detachment, who are all happily arrived (except one man drowned, one or two sick, and Colonel Enos’ s division, who, I am surprised to hear, are all gone back,) and are here and within two or three days’ march, I have this minute received a letter from Brigadier-General Montgomery, advising of the reduction of Chambly, &c.
I have had about forty savages joined me, and intend, as soon as possible, crossing the St˙ Lawrence. I am just informed, by a friend from Quebeck, that a frigate of twenty-six guns, and two transports with one hundred and fifty recruits, arrived there last Sunday, which, with another small frigate, and four or five small armed vessels up the river, is all the force they have, except the inhabitants, very few of whom have taken up arms, and those by compulsion, who declare (except a few English) that they will lay them down whenever attacked. The Town is very short of provisions, but well fortified. I shall endeavour to cut off their communication with the country, and which I hope to be able to effect, and bring them to terms, or at least keep them in close quarters until the arrival of General Montgomery, which I wait with impatience. I hope at any rate to be able to effect a junction with him at Montreal.
I am, with the greatest respect, your Excellency’ s most obedient humble servant,
His Excellency General Washington.
Future posts will deal with Montgomery’s progress toward Quebec and the attempt of Montgomery and Arnold to storm Quebec on December 31, 1775.