Page images
PDF
EPUB

funk in their spirits, and much enteebled in their actions; and to compleat their misfortunes, the small pox had spread through all their quarters. These discouraging circumstances were not sufficient to damp the spirits of their enterprising leaders. Notwithstanding all their past fatigues and disappointments, they formed a very daring plan with great address, which, had it succeeded according to its intention, would have been severely felt by the King's forces. This plan was to surprise the British troops at the Three Rivers ; which if it had taken place, and been attended with all the success it was capable of, might have been ranked among the most considerable military exploits of that nature ever performed.

The Britilla and Brunswick forces were at this time much separated. A considerable body was stationed at Three Rivers under the command of Ge. neral Nisbet, lay near them on board the transports. The largest body was along with the Generals Carle. ton, Burgoyne, Philips, and the German General, Reidefal, in several divisions, by land and water, on their way from Quebec. The distance from Sorrel was about fifty miles, and the several armed vefsels and transports full of troops, which had got up higher than Three Rivers lay full in the way.

In the face of all these dangers and difficulties, a body of about 2000 men, under the command of Major-General Thompson, embarked at Sorrel in fifty boats, and coasting the south side of the lake St. Peter, where the river St. Laurence spreads to a great extent, arrived at Newlet, from whence they fell down the ri. ver by night, and passed to the other side, with an in. tention of surprising the forces under the command

of

of General Frazer. The place called Three Rivers is rather to be considered as a long village than a regular town; and the design was to make the attack before break of day, with a strong detachment, while two smaller parties were drawn up in readiness to cover or support them,

The circumstances concurring to give effect to this design, were too numerous to afford any strong confidence of fuccefs. It was one of those hold undertakings which might have produced great advantages; but it was of too perilous a nature for any thing less than the most desperate situation to justify. The provincials were neither fufficiently numerous, nor provided with artillery for such a daring and dangerous encounter; their troops were but lately raised and unexperienced in the art of war, and they were now going to engage old troops under the command of great and experienced oflicers, furnished with every thing necessary for either attacking or resisting an e. nemy. Though the circumstances of the parties had been 'equal, the issue would still have been doubtful, as some of the best forces in Britain, and perhaps in the world, were under the command of great officers, whose honour as foldiers and commanders of the best troops, was likely to prevent them from behaving unworthy of the character they had long sustained.--There were many, if not every probable chance a. gainst the colonists: they were uncertain of arriving at the time proposed, as conveyance of troops by water was exceedingly uncertain as to time. The small. est squall of wind on the lake might retard or inter, rupt their passage, and instead of arriving at the time proposed, as actually happened, they might be a great while longer in reaching the defired point. The at

temps

tempt was therefore a molt desperate enterprize, scarcely confiftent with any rules or maxims of common prudence.

They missed their time by about an hour, and tho' they passed the armed ships without observation, yer they were discovered, and the alarm given at their landing. They afterwards got into bad grounds, and were involved in many difficulties, which threw them into disorder and confusion. In this condition they found General Frazer's corps ready to receive them, having landed several light fix-pounders, which were played apon them with great execution.

While they were thus engaged in the front, Brigadier Nefbit, whose transports lay higher up the river, landed his forces full on their way back. Nothing was now left but a retreat, the performance of which was a thing more to be wished for than reasonably expected. Nesbit’s corps kept the side of the river to prevent their efcape to their boats, while Fraser pursued them and galled them severely with his light artillery. Between both they were driven for some miles through a deep swamp which they passed with inconceivable toil, exposed to constant danger, and enduring every degree of distress. The British troops at length grew weary with the pursuit, and the wood afforded them a wished-for shelter. The first and second in command, with about two hundred others, were taken prisoners, and it is somewhat strange that they were not all taken or destroyed. The British forces were but lately arrived, and were not recovered from the fatigues of a long voyage, they were therefore as unable to pursue as the others were to stand a severe attack,

[ocr errors]

This was the last vigorous push which the provincials made for the conquest of Canada. The Britiih army having joined at Three Rivers, pushed forward by land and water with great expedition. They had now nothing but the ordinary chances of the way to interrupt their march, and they made all the expedition that they could to arrive at the Sorrel. They arrived there upon the 15th of June, and found the enemy had abandoned the place fome hours before, and dismantled the batteries which they had erected to defend the entrance into the river, and had carried off their artillery and stores. A strong detachment was landed here, under the command of General Burgoyne, with orders to advance along the Sorrel to St. John's, while the remainder of the fleet and army failed up the river Longueil, the place of passage from the island of Montreal to La Prairie on the continent, Here they discovered that the enemy had abandoned the city and island of Montreal on the preceding evening, and that if the wind had been favourable, they might have met at this place. The army was immediately landed on the continent, and marching by La Prairie, crossed by the peninsula formed by the St Lawrence and the Sorrel, in order to join General Burgoyne at St John's, where they expected a stand and a strong resistance would have been made by the colonists.

Burgoyne pursued his march along the Sorrel with, out intermission ; but with much caution, as was ne. cessary in a country where there was still suspicion of an enemy, and where their last and most desperate efforts were to be expected. In this the King's Ge. nerals were greatly mistaken: for it appeared afterwards not to have been any part of the plan of the

rebels

rebels to make any stand at those places where the British forces expected. "General Burgoyne arrived at St John's on the evening of the 18th of June, where he found the buildings on flames and nearly every thing destroyed that could not be carried away.The provincials acted in the same manner at Chamblee, and burned fuch vessels as they were not able to drag up the rapids in their way to Lake Champlain, where they immediately embarked for Crown Point. Though their flight was precipitate, they sustained no loss, and General Sullivan, who commanded the retreat, received public thanks for the prudence with which he conducted it, by which he faved their ruined arıny, at a time when it was encumbered with a vast number of fick, most of whom were ill of the small-pox.

An end was now put to the war in Canada ; the ad. vantages of which were however considerably checked by the restraint which was now laid upon the further operations of the army in that quarter. For as the colonists were masters of Lake Champlain, it was impoffible for the forces to proceed to the southward until such a number of vefsels were constructed or obtained, as would afford a superiority, and enable them to cross that lake with safety. The doing of this was a work of much labour and time ; for though fix armed vefsels were sent from England for that purpose, the falls of Chamblee rendered the means of conveying highly difficult, and a matter which required much ingenuity and industry. A vast number of other vefsels were also necessarily to be constructed, both for conveyance and protection. But we must for a while leave General Burgoyne and his army, and proceed to the operations on some other part of the continent.

North

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »