VIEW THE MOBILE VERSION of Informational Site Network Informational
Home - World War Stories - American Heros - Hero Stories - War Stories - British Navy

Hero Stories

The Monitor And The Merrimac

The Young Decatur And His Brilliant Deeds At Tripoli

Old Hickory's Christmas
At the beginning of the last century, England was fighting ...

How Paul Jones Won Renown

The First Sea Fight Of The Revolution

The Moorish Pirates Of The Mediterranean

A River Fleet In A Hail Of Fire

The Great Victory Of Manila Bay

Captain Lawrence Dies For The Flag

Captain Tucker Honored By George Washington

The Hero Of Vincennes
Early in 1775 Daniel Boone, the famous hunter and Indian fi...

A Hero's Welcome
Rarely has the benefactor of a people been awarded such mea...

From Teamster To Major General
On July 3, 1775, under the great elm on Cambridge Common, W...

A Midwinter Campaign
A splendid monument overlooks the battlefield of Saratoga. ...

Four Naval Heroes In One Chapter

A Midnight Surprise
We have certainly read enough about General Washington to k...

Commodore Perry Whips The British On Lake Erie

Commodore Porter Gains Glory In The Pacific

A Famous Vessel Saved By A Poem

Captain Barry And His Rowboats Win A Victory Over The British

A Midwinter Campaign

A splendid monument overlooks the battlefield of Saratoga. Heroic
bronze statues of Schuyler, Gates, and Morgan, three of the four
great leaders in this battle, stand each in a niche on three faces of
the obelisk. On the south side the space is empty. The man who led
the patriots to victory forfeited his place on this monument. What a
sermon in stone is the empty niche on that massive granite shaft! We
need no chiseled words to tell us of the great name so gallantly won
by Arnold the hero, and so wretchedly lost by Arnold the traitor.

Only a few months after Benedict Arnold had turned traitor, and was
fighting against his native land, he was sent by Sir Henry Clinton,
the British commander, to sack and plunder in Virginia. In one of
these raids a captain of the colonial army was taken prisoner.

"What will your people do with me if they catch me?" Arnold is said
to have asked his prisoner.

"They will cut off your leg that was shot at Quebec and Saratoga,"
said the plucky and witty officer, "and bury it with the honors of
war, and hang the rest of your body on a gibbet."

{19} This bold reply of the patriot soldier showed the hatred and the
contempt in which Arnold was held by all true Americans; it also
hints at an earlier fame which this strange and remarkable man had
won in fighting the battles of his country.

Now that war with the mother country had begun, an attack upon Canada
seemed to be an act of self-defense; for through the valley of the
St. Lawrence the colonies to the south could be invaded. The "back
door," as Canada was called, which was now open for such invasion,
must be tightly shut. In fact it was believed that Sir Guy Carleton,
the governor of Canada, was even now trying to get the Indians to
sweep down the valley of the Hudson, to harry the New England

Meanwhile, under the old elm in Cambridge, Washington had taken
command of the Continental army. Shortly afterwards he met Benedict
Arnold for the first time. The great Virginian found the young
officer a man after his own heart. Arnold was at this time captain of
the best-drilled and best-equipped company that the patriot army
could boast. {20} He had already proved himself a man of energy and
of rare personal bravery.

Before his meeting with Washington, Arnold had hurried spies into
Canada to find out the enemy's strength; and he had also sent Indians
with wampum, to make friends with the redskins along the St.
Lawrence. Some years before, he had been to Canada to buy horses; and
through his friends in Quebec and in Montreal he was now able to get
a great deal of information, which he promptly sent to Congress.

Congress voted to send out an expedition. An army was to enter Canada
by the way of the Kennebec and Chaudiere rivers; there to unite
forces with Montgomery, who had started from Ticonderoga; and then,
if possible, to surprise Quebec.

The patriot army of some eighteen thousand men was at this time
engaged in the siege of Boston. During the first week in September,
orders came to draft men for Quebec. For the purpose of carrying the
troops up the Kennebec River, a force of carpenters was sent ahead to
build two hundred bateaux, or flat-bottomed boats. To Arnold, as
colonel, was given the command of the expedition. For the sake of
avoiding any ill feeling, the officers were allowed to draw lots. So
eager were the troops to share in the possible glories of the
campaign that several thousand at once volunteered.

About eleven hundred men were chosen, the very flower of the
Continental army. More than one half of {21} these came from New
England; three hundred were riflemen from Pennsylvania and from
Virginia, among whom were Daniel Morgan and his famous riflemen from
the west bank of the Potomac.

On September 13, the little army left Cambridge and marched through
Essex to Newburyport. The good people of this old seaport gave the
troops an ovation, on their arrival Saturday night. They escorted
them to the churches on Sunday, and on Tuesday morning bade them
good-by, "with colors flying, drums and fifes playing, the hills all
around being covered with pretty girls weeping for their departing

On the following Thursday, with a fair wind, the troops reached the
mouth of the Kennebec, one hundred and fifty miles away. Working
their way up the river, they came to anchor at what is now the city
of Gardiner. Near this place, the two hundred bateaux had been
hastily built of green pine. The little army now advanced six miles
up the river to Fort Western, opposite the present city of Augusta.
Here they rested for three days, and made ready for the ascent of the

An old journal tells us that the people who lived near prepared a
grand feast for the soldiers, with three bears roasted whole in
frontier fashion, and an abundance of venison, smoked salmon, and
huge pumpkin pies, all washed down with plenty of West India rum.

Among the guests at this frontier feast was a half-breed Indian girl
named Jacataqua, who had fallen in {22} love with a handsome young
officer of the expedition. This officer was Aaron Burr, who
afterwards became Vice President of the United States. When the young
visitor found that the wives of two riflemen, James Warner and
Sergeant Grier, were going to tramp to Canada with the troops, she,
too, with some of her Indian friends, made up her mind to go with
them. This trifling incident, as we shall see later, saved the lives
of many brave men.

The season was now far advanced. There must be no delay, or the early
Canadian winter would close in upon them. The little army was divided
into four divisions. On September 25, Daniel Morgan and his riflemen
led the advance, with orders to go with all speed to what was called
the Twelve Mile carrying place. The second division, under the
command of Colonel Greene, started the next day. Then came the third
division, under Major Meigs, while Colonel Enos brought up the rear.
There were fourteen companies, each provided with sixteen bateaux.

These boats were heavy and clumsy. When loaded, four men could hardly
haul or push them through the shallow channels, or row them against
the strong current of the river. It was hard and rough work. And
those dreadful carrying places! Before they reached Lake Megantic,
they dragged these boats, or what was left of them, round the rapids
twenty-four times. At each carrying place, kegs of powder and of
bullets, barrels of {23} flour and of pork, iron kettles, and all
manner of camp baggage had to be unpacked from the boats, carried
round on the men's backs, and reloaded again. Sometimes the "carry"
was only a matter of a few rods, and again it was two miles long.

From the day the army left Norridgewock, the last outpost of
civilization, troubles came thick and fast. Water from the leaky
boats spoiled the dried codfish and most of the flour. The salt beef
was found unfit for use. There was now nothing left to eat but flour
and pork. The all-day exposure in water, the chilling river fogs at
night, and the sleeping in uniforms which were frozen stiff even in
front of the camp fires, all began to thin the ranks of these sturdy

On October 12, Colonel Enos and the rear guard reached the Twelve
Mile carrying place. The army that had set out from Fort Western with
nearly twelve hundred men could now muster only nine hundred and
fifty well men. And yet they were only beginning the most perilous
stage of their journey. All about them stood the dark and silent
wilderness, through which they were to make their way for sixteen
miles, to reach the Dead River. In this dreaded route there were four
carrying places. The last was three miles long, a third of which was
a miry spruce and cedar swamp. It took {24} five days of hardest toil
to cut their way through the unbroken wilderness. Fortunately, the
hunters shot four moose and caught plenty of salmon trout.

Now began the snail-like advance for eighty-six miles up the crooked
course of the Dead River. Sometimes they cut their way through the
thickets and the underbrush, but oftener they waded along the banks.
Then came a heavy rainstorm, which grew into a hurricane during the
night. The river overflowed its banks for a mile or more on either
side. Many of the boats sank or were dashed to pieces. Barrels of
pork and of flour were swept away. For the next ten days, these
heroic men seemed to be pressing forward to a slow death by
starvation. Each man's ration was reduced to half a pint of flour a

The old adage tells us that misfortunes never come singly. The rear
guard under Colonel Enos, with its trail hewn out for it, had carried
the bulk of the supplies; but, after losing most of the provisions in
the freshet, he refused any more flour for his half-starved comrades
at the front.

On October 25, the rear guard having caught up with Greene's
division, which was in the worst plight of all, encamped at a place
called Ledge Falls. At a council of war held in the midst of a
driving snowstorm, Enos himself voted at first to go forward; but
afterwards he decided to go back. So the rear guard, grudgingly
giving up two barrels of flour, turned their backs, and, {25} in
spite of the jeers and the threats of their comrades, started home.
Greene and his brave fellows showed no signs of faltering, but, as a
diary reads, "took each man his duds to his back, bid them adieu, and
marched on."

Just over the boundary between Maine and Canada there was a great
swamp. In this bog two companies lost their way, and waded knee-deep
in the mire for ten miles in endless circles. Reaching a little
hillock after dark, they stood up all night long to keep from
freezing. Each man was for himself in the struggle for life. The
strong dared not halt to help the weak for fear they too should

"Alas! alas!" writes one soldier, "these horrid spectacles! my heart
sickens at the recollection."

That each man might fully realize how little food was left, a final
division was made of the remaining provisions. Five pints of flour
were given to each man! This must last him for a hundred miles
through the pathless wilderness, a tramp of at least six days. In the
ashes of the camp fire, each man baked his flour, Indian fashion,
into five little cakes. Though the officers coaxed and threatened,
some of the poor frantic fellows ate all their cakes at one meal.

On November 2, our little army, scattered for more than forty miles
along the banks of the Chaudiere River, was still dragging out its
weary way. Tents, boats, and camp supplies were all gone, except here
and there a tin camp kettle or an ax. A rifleman tells us that one
day {26} he roasted and chewed his shot pouch, and adds, "in a short
time there was not a shot pouch to be seen among all those in my
view." For four days this man had not eaten anything except a
squirrel skin, which he had picked up some days before.

Several dogs that had faithfully followed their masters were now
killed and roasted; and even their feet, skin, and entrails were
eaten. Captain Dearborn tells us how downcast he was when he was
forced to kill and eat his fine Newfoundland dog. He writes, "we even
pounded up the dog's bones and made broth for another meal."

A dozen men, who had been left behind to die, caught a stray horse
that had run away from some settlement. They shot it and ate heartily
of the flesh while they rested, and at last reached the main army.
For seven days these men had had nothing for food but roots and black
birch bark.

The Indian girl Jacataqua, with a pet dog, still followed the troops.
She proved herself of the greatest service as a guide. She knew,
also, about roots and herbs, and these she prepared in Indian fashion
for the sick and the injured. The men did not dare to kill her dog,
for she threatened to leave them to their fate if they harmed the
faithful animal.

At one place James Warner, whose wife Jemima was marching with the
troops, lagged behind, and, before his wife knew it, sank exhausted.
The faithful woman ran back alone, and stayed with him until he died.
She {27} buried him with leaves; and then, taking his musket and
girding on his cartridge belt, she hurried breathless and panting for
twenty miles, until she caught up with the troops. And as for
Sergeant Grier's good wife, she tramped and starved her way with the
men. No wonder that one writer, a boy of seventeen at the time, says,
as he saw this plucky woman wading through the rivers, "My mind was
humbled, yet astonished at the exertions of this good woman."

Where was the bold commander all this time, the man who was to lead
these sturdy riflemen to easy victory? After paddling thirteen miles
across Lake Megantic, {28} Arnold performed one of those brilliant
and reckless deeds for which he was noted. Perhaps no other man in
the American army would have dared to do what he did. The remnant of
his famishing soldiers must be saved, and the time was short.

On October 28, he started down the swollen Chaudiere River with only
a few men and without a guide. Sartigan, the nearest French
settlement where provisions could be bought, was nearly seventy miles
away. The swift current carried the frail canoes down the first
twenty miles in two hours. Here through the rapids, there over hidden
ledges, now escaping the driftwood and the sharp-edged rocks, Arnold
and his men wrestled with the angry river.

At one place they plunged over a fall, and every canoe was capsized.
Six of the men found themselves swimming in a large rock-bound basin,
while the angry flood thundered thirty feet over the ledges just
beyond them. The men swam ashore, thankful to escape death.

The last twenty miles was tramped through the wilderness, but such
was the energy of their leader that Sartigan was reached on the
evening of the second day. Long before daybreak, cattle and bags of
flour were ready, and, with a relief party of French Canadians on
horseback, Arnold was on his way back to the starving army.

Four days later, from the famished men in the frozen wilderness was
heard far and wide the joyful cry, "Provisions!" "Provisions!"

{29} The cry was echoed from hill to hill, and along the snow-covered
banks of the great river. The grim fight for life was over. They had
won. How like a pack of famished wolves did they kill, cook, and
devour the cattle!

The next day, two companies dashed through the icy waters of the Du
Loup River, and, shortly afterwards, greeted with cheers the first
house they had seen for thirty days. Six miles beyond, was
Sartigan,--a half dozen log cabins and a few Indian wigwams.

A snowstorm now set in, but the joyful men hastily built huts of pine
boughs, kindled huge camp fires, and waited for the stragglers. The
severe Canadian winter was well begun. It kept on snowing heavily. As
Quebec might be re-enforced at any moment, every captain was ordered
to get his men over the remaining fifty-four miles with all possible

"Quebec!" "Quebec!" was in everybody's mouth.

Five days later, on November 9, the patriots reached Point Levi, a
little French village opposite Quebec. The people looked on with
astonishment as they straggled out of the woods, a worn-out army of
perhaps six hundred men, with faces haggard, clothing in tatters, and
many barefooted and bareheaded. Over eighty had died in the
wilderness, and a hundred were on the sick list. So pitiful and so
ludicrous was their appearance that one man wrote in his diary that
they "resembled those animals of New Spain called {30}
orang-outangs," and "unlike the children of Israel, whose clothes
waxed not old in the wilderness, theirs hardly held together."

With his usual bravado, Arnold planned to capture the "Gibraltar of
America" at one stroke. He little knew that, a few days before, some
treacherous Indians had warned the British commander of his approach.

On the night of November 13, Arnold ferried five hundred of his men
across the St. Lawrence, and climbed to the Heights of Abraham, at
the very place where Wolfe had climbed to victory sixteen years
before. At daybreak the walls of the city were covered with soldiers
and with citizens. Within half a mile of the walls, which fairly
bristled with cannon, the ragged soldiers halted and began to cheer
lustily. The redcoats shouted back their defiance. Arnold wrote a
letter to the governor of Quebec, demanding the surrender of the
city. The bearer of the letter, although under a flag of truce, was
not even allowed to come near the walls.

After six days the little army slipped away one dark night, and
tramped to a village some twenty miles to the west of Quebec. Here
they hoped to join forces with Montgomery, who had already captured
Montreal, and then come back to renew the siege.

Ten days later, on December 1, Arnold paraded his troops in front of
the village church to greet Montgomery with his army. The united
forces, still less than a thousand men, now trudged their way back to
Quebec. On {31} arriving there, Montgomery boldly demanded the
surrender of the town.

Meanwhile, on November 19, Sir Guy Carleton had left Montreal, and,
having made his way down the river, in the disguise of a farmer,
slipped into Quebec. This was the salvation of Canada.

The British general was an able soldier. He at once took energetic
steps for the defense of the city. At every available point he built
blockhouses, barricades, and palisades; and mounted one hundred and
fifty cannon. He took five hundred sailors from the war vessels to
help man the guns, and thus increased the garrison to eighteen
hundred fighting men.

For two weeks the patriot army fired their little three-pounders, and
threw several hundred "fire pills," as the men called them, against
the granite ramparts and into the town. Even the women laughed at
them, for they did no more harm than so many popguns. The redcoats
kept up the bloodless contest by raking with their cannon the
patriots' feeble breastworks of ice and snow.

Montgomery spoke hopefully to his men, but in his heart was despair.
How could he ever go home without taking Quebec? Washington and
Congress expected it, and the people at home were waiting for it.
When he bade his young wife good-by at their home on the Hudson, he
said, "You shall never blush for your Montgomery." What was his duty
now? Should he not make at least one desperate attempt? Did not Wolfe
{32} take equally desperate chances and win deathless renown? At last
it was decided to wait for a dark night, in which to attack the Lower

At midnight on the last day of 1775, came the snowstorm so long
awaited. The word was given, and about half past three the columns
marched to the assault. Every man pinned to his hat a piece of white
paper, on which was written the motto of Morgan's far-famed riflemen,
"Liberty or Death!"

Arnold and Morgan, with about six hundred men, were to make the
attack on one side of the town, and Montgomery, with three hundred
men, on the other side.

The storm had become furious. With their heads down and their guns
under their coats, the men had enough to do to keep up with Arnold as
he led the attack. Presently a musket ball shattered his leg and
stretched him bleeding in the snow. Morgan at once took command, and,
cheering on his men, carried the batteries; then, forcing his way
into the streets of the Lower Town, he waited for the promised signal
from Montgomery.

Meantime, the precious moments slipped by, while the young Montgomery
was forcing his way through the darkness and the huge snowdrifts,
along the shores of the St. Lawrence. When the head of his column
crept cautiously round a point of the steep cliff, they came face to
face with the redcoats standing beside their cannon with lighted

{33} "On, boys, Quebec is ours!" shouted Montgomery, as he sprang

A storm of grape and canister swept the narrow pass, and the young
general fell dead. In dismay and confusion, the column gave way. The
command to retreat was hastily given and obeyed. Strange to say, so
dazed were the British by the fierce attack that they, too, ran {34}
away, but soon rallied. The driving snow quickly covered the dead and
the wounded in a funeral shroud.

The enemy were now free to close in upon Morgan and his riflemen, on
the other side of the town. All night long, fierce hand to hand
fighting went on in the narrow streets, amid the howling storm of
driving snow; and the morning light broke slowly upon scenes of
confusion and horror. Morgan and his men fought like heroes, but they
were outnumbered, and were forced to surrender.

The rest of this sad story may be briefly told. Arnold was given the
chief command. Although he was weakened from loss of blood, and
helpless from his shattered leg, nothing could break his dauntless
will. Expecting the enemy at any moment to attack the hospital, he
had his pistols and his sword placed on his bed, that he might die
fighting. From that bedside, he kept his army of seven hundred men
sternly to its duty. In a month he was out of doors, hobbling about
on crutches, and hopeful as ever of success.

Washington sent orders for Arnold to stand his ground, and as late as
January 27 wrote him that "the glorious work must be accomplished
this winter." With bulldog grip, Arnold obeyed orders, and kept up
the hopeless siege. During the winter, more troops came to his help
from across the lakes, but they only closed the gaps made by
hardships and smallpox.

{35} On the 14th of March, a flag of truce was again sent to the
city, demanding its surrender.

"No flag will be received," said the officer of the day, "unless it
comes to implore the mercy of the king."

A wooden horse was mounted on the walls near the famous old St.
John's gate, with a bundle of hay before it. Upon the horse was
tacked a placard, on which was written, "When this horse has eaten
this bunch of hay, we will surrender."

Although they were short of food, and were forced to tear down the
houses for firewood, the garrison was safe and quite comfortable
behind the snow-covered ramparts.

The end of the coldest winter ever known in Canada save one came at
last. The river was full of ice during the first week of May. A few
days later, three men-of-war forced their way up the St. Lawrence
through the floating ice, and relieved the besieged city. The salute
of twenty-one guns fired by the fleet was joyful music to the people
of Quebec. Amid the thundering of the guns from the citadel, the
great bell of the Cathedral clanged the death knell to Arnold's

The "Gibraltar of America" still remained in the possession of

Next: How Palmetto Logs May Be Used

Previous: The Hero Of Vincennes

Add to Informational Site Network

Viewed 3537

Untitled Document