« AnteriorContinuar »
general and not one of them a soldier," and New Yorkers with "infamous morals," who were "the sweepings of the streets"-General Montgomery's expedition met with brilliant successes, and on November 12 he was in Montreal.
The Arnold expedition was more adventurously conceived, if possibly less sound tactically. Arnold had been with Colonel Allen at Ticonderoga; he had visited Quebec as a trader; he had in his possession, as a guide through the Maine Wilderness, the journal of a certain Montressor, officer of British engineers, who had explored the region. It was Colonel Arnold's intention, and he persuaded General Washington that it could be done, to cross the almost unknown Maine territory and reach Quebec by the Kennebec and Chaudière Rivers, the latter of which flowed into the St. Lawrence opposite the city. In fact, he proposed in so doing to take Quebec by surprise.
The troops-three companies of riflemen and two volunteer battalions-were to assemble at Newburyport, and Aaron with some of his companions walked the whole sixty miles from Cambridge. And at Newburyport he found a stack of family letters protesting against his participation in such an undertaking; it was too dangerous, he was not strong enough, "you will die, I know you will die," Dr. James Cogswell assured him, "it is impossible for you to endure the fatigue"; there was even a messenger from Uncle Timothy, with a peremptory letter ordering him to come home; but when Aaron indignantly
threatened to have the messenger hanged, he was given a more kindly message begging him to return. to the arms of his anxious relatives. There was also a handsome present of cash, which Aaron no doubt gratefully accepted, but the messenger went back alone to Stockbridge.
Then a great to-do of preparation and embarkation, but Chaplain Spring finally preached the farewell sermon "Except Thy presence go with us, carry us not up hence!"-and on September 18, 1775, they sailed out of Newburyport, some eleven hundred cheering crusaders.
At Gardinierstown they found the two hundred odd batteaux which Arnold had had built-clumsy, unmanageable vessels, made for the most part of green pine, so that "some stove to pieces against the banks, while others became so excessively leaky as obliged us to condemn them," as Surgeon Senter recorded in his journal. But they had to make the best of it and push on-to Fort Western, now Augusta, Maine, where the men were to be divided into four divisions for the march, to start on consecutive days.
Colonel Arnold left on September 25; the second division under Colonel Green, with whom were Aaron and Ogden, on September 26.
One might readily enough imagine the hardships which were to beset the marchers-the swamps, and rains, and snows; the perils from swollen rivers and rock infested rapids; the lost batteaux and stores, the bewildering trails, the cold, the exposure, the bitter fatigue, and the desperate hunger as the supplies be
gan to fail-all of which Aaron withstood with uncomplaining fortitude; his skill with boats, acquired during his boyhood at Elizabethtown, rendering him especially helpful to his comrades, although he was once himself very nearly carried over a waterfall. But in this case there is no need to imagine them, for Matthias Ogden kept a journal, which it has been possible to reproduce in part in these pages, probably for the first time, through the courtesy of the Washington Association of New Jersey which owns the manuscript.
They were already very hungry on October 27. "This day," he wrote, "we were employed in transporting our boats to the river leading to Chaudière Pond we were all much pleas'd in seeing the brooks running North which was our direct course. After finishing our portage the provision belonging to the whole was collected and equally divided among the whole detachment. We shared about 1⁄2 pound of pork per Man and five pints scant measure of flour which was to last us to the inhabitants.
"The Rifle Men being wholly destitute of any kind of meat before this for eight days. Four O'Clock in the afternoon we heard a shout from the men near the river which soon reached throughout the Camp. We rec'd a letter from Coll. Arnold informing us of the return of the two Indians from whom he rec'd an answer to his letter to Quebec informing him that the inhabitants were much rejoiced at our near approach would assist in repulsing the King's troops their, and forever go in hand with us.
"Our Men were much rejoiced and their spirits animated at this good news for never were men more