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50 Marines, these with about 100 Tories and 200 Canadians were all within the Walls in the upper Town. These were exclusive of the Militia of which there were eleven companies." Their informant "imagined the Canadians all except the 100 Tories would lay down their Arms."
They sent up the river for reinforcements and clothing from General Montgomery, and on January 9 they found that "the enemy had posted many Centenals along the shore as far as the Hunter who had fell up the river we imagined to prevent our crossing." And at "about 1 O'Clock the Ball was opened between us and the enemy"; there was a skirmish with a barge from the Hunter and the Americans captured a prisoner.
Arnold was at Quebec, and if he had not taken it by surprise, there was wonder, at least, within that complacent citadel, that he should have managed to come so far on so arduous a road. As for Governor Carleton, he was annoyed at these Americans, these rebel tinkers, blacksmiths, whatever they might be, who insisted that they were gentlemen.
On November 30, Colonel Arnold wrote to General Montgomery, introducing Aaron. "Dear Sir," he told him, “this will be handed you by Mr. Burr, a volunteer in the army, and son to the former President of New Jersey College. He is a young gentleman of much life and activity, and has acted with great spirit and resolution on our fatiguing march. His conduct, I make no doubt, will be sufficient re
commendation to your favor. I am, dear Sir, your most obed't h'ble B. Arnold."
This letter, revealing the fact that late in November General Montgomery was still ignorant of Mr. Burr's identity, would seem to dispose of the persistent legend to the effect that Aaron, disguised as a Catholic priest, had taken a message from Arnold announcing their arrival in Canada, through the enemy lines to Montgomery, and that in recognition of his exploit the General had offered him a position on his staff. On November 30, Montgomery was perfectly aware of Arnold's arrival since he had sent him some stores, and was himself within a day's march of Quebec, under the walls of which Arnold was now encamped, having crossed the river by night in Indian canoes. However, Arnold's letter was sufficient to arouse the interest of the General in its carrier, and the young paladin of nineteen found himself a captain on the headquarters staff.
And now they were before the fortress, some thousand men all told under the supreme command of Montgomery, exchanging fruitlessly provocative communications with Carleton, but otherwise inactive. All but Captain Burr, that eager student of tactics, who spent his nights reconnoitering the great Cape Diamond bastion-and his days drilling a detachment of fifty men in the precarious art of scaling almost perpendicular ladders-in preparation for the execution of his cherished plan of assault which was to send three simultaneous attacks against the Upper Town to distract attention from a fourth upon the bastion.
But the scheme was finally rejected, and the effort
concentrated against the Lower Town. At five o'clock on the morning of December 31, 1775, in a severe snow storm, four divisions advanced to the outer defences from different directions-Montgomery from the west, Arnold from the east-with the intention of meeting in the Lower Town for a combined assault upon the Upper Citadel. With the first division, at his General's side, marched Captain Burr.
From the unpublished manuscript of William Dunlap, in the possession of the New York Historical Society, one is able to reconstruct the details of this forlorn hope which might so easily have succeeded. They passed the palisades, and on through a snow encumbered defile guarded by a block house, from which, however, the garrison fled at the first indication of danger. A few moments more and the Americans would be in possession. "We shall be in the fort in two minutes," Montgomery exclaimed to Burr -and then suddenly there was a boom of artillery; one of the garrison had returned to fire the blockhouse gun which was to save Quebec; of the men at the head of the column only Burr and the French guide were alive; Montgomery himself was dying in his staff captain's arms.
Burr immediately rallied the column, and urged them to push forward, but Colonel Campbell who was now in charge ordered a more prudent retreat. Over on his side, Arnold had reached the streets of the Lower Town, but Quebec was aroused, Montgomery was not there, Arnold was wounded and his second in command captured. And poor Montgomery was dead in the snow, a gallant, able officer sincerely