| This Country of Ours|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Stories from the history of the United States beginning with a full account of exploration and settlement and ending with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The 99 chapters are grouped under 7 headings: Stories of Explorers and Pioneers, Stories of Virginia, Stories of New England, Stories of the Middle and Southern Colonies, Stories of the French in America, Stories of the Struggle for Liberty, and Stories of the United States under the Constitution. Ages 10-14 |
THE WAR IN CANADA
 AFTER Bunker Hill there was a pause in the fighting round Boston
which gave Washington time to get his raw recruits in hand a little.
Then during the summer news came that Sir Guy Carleton, the Governor
of Canada, was making plans to retake Ticonderoga, and the colonists
determined to invade Canada. General Philip Schuyler was given
command of the expedition, and with two thousand men he set out for
St. John's, which Arnold had taken, but had been unable to hold,
earlier in the year.
This time the colonists found St. John's better guarded, and only at
the end of a two months' siege did it yield. By this time Schuyler
had become ill, and the command was given to General Richard
Montgomery who crossed the St. Lawrence, and entered Montreal in
Almost at the same time Benedict Arnold set out with twelve hundred
men to attack Quebec. He marched through the forest of Maine, then
an almost unknown country and uninhabited save by Indians. It was
a tremendous march, and one that needed all the grit and endurance
of brave, determined men. They climbed hills, struggled through
swamps, paddled across lakes and down unknown streams. Sometimes
they waded up to their knees in icy waters pushing their canoes
before them against the rapid current, or again they carried them
over long portages, shouldering their way through forest so dense
that they could scarcely advance a mile an hour. At night soaked
with rain and sleet they slept upon the snowy ground. Their food
 out, and the pangs of hunger were added to their other miseries.
Many died by the way; others, losing heart, turned back. But sick
and giddy, starving and exhausted the rest stumbled onward, and at
length little more than five hundred ragged half armed, more than
half famished men, reached the shores of the St. Lawrence.
They were a sorry little company with which to invade a vast
province. But their courage was superb, their hope sublime, and
without delay they set out to take the great fortress which had
withstood so many sieges, and had only fallen at last before the
genius and daring of Wolfe.
Across the St. Lawrence this little company of intrepid colonists
paddled, up the path where Wolfe had led his men they climbed, and
stood at length where they had stood upon the heights of Abraham.
They had no cannon, and half their muskets were useless. Yet Arnold
at the head of his spectral little company boldly summoned the town
The town did not surrender, the Governor refused to come out and
fight. So seeing the uselessness of his summons Arnold marched away
about twenty miles, and encamped to wait for Montgomery's arrival
from Montreal. He soon arrived. But even with his men the colonists
only numbered about eight hundred, far too small a company with
which to besiege a fortress such as Quebec. Still they
made an attempt at a siege, but finding that useless
they resolved to take the place by storm.
It was early on the morning of the 1st of January, 1776, that they
made the attempt in the teeth of a blinding snow storm. Arnold
led the assault on one side of the town, Montgomery on the other.
With tremendous dash and bravery the colonists carried the first
barricades, and forced their way into the town. But almost at the
outset Montgomery was killed. A little later Arnold was sorely
wounded, and had to be carried back to the camp. Both
 leaders gone,
the heart went out of the men, and they retreated, leaving many
prisoners at the hands of the British.
The great assault had failed, but sick and wounded though he was,
Arnold did not lose heart. He still kept up a show of besieging
Quebec. "I have no thought of leaving this proud town," he said,
"until I first enter it in triumph. I am in the way of my duty and
know no fear." But the only chance of taking Quebec was to take
it in the winter, while the St. Lawrence was closed with ice, so
that the British ships could not reach it with reinforcements and
supplies. Arnold therefore sent to Washington begging for five
thousand troops. Such a number it was impossible for Washington
to spare from his little army, and only a few reinforcements were
sent, most of whom reached Arnold utterly exhausted with their long
tramp through the pathless wilderness. Smallpox, too, became rife
in the camp, so although there at length two thousand men before
Quebec not more that a thousand were fit for duty. Yet what mere
men could do they did.
But winter passed and Quebec remained untaken. Then one April morning
Captain Charles Douglas arrived off the mouth of the St. Lawrence
with a fleet of British ships. He found the river still packed with
ice. But Quebec he knew must be in sore straits. It was no time for
caution, so by way of experiment he ran his flag ship full speed
against a mass of ice. The ice was shivered to pieces, and the good
ship sailed unharmed. For nine days the gallant vessel ploughed
on through fields of ice, sewing her path with
splinters from prow and keel, but
suffering no serious damage, her
stout-hearted captain having no thought but to reach and relieve
the beleagured city.
His boldness was rewarded. Other vessels followed in his track,
and at their coming the colonists gave up their attempt to conquer
Canada, and marched away.
The attack on Canada had been an utter failure, but
Ar-  nold still
clung to the hope of commanding the great waterway from the St.
Lawrence to the Hudson. At Crown Point he began to build ships,
and by the end of September had a little fleet of nine. The British
also busied themselves building ships, and on the 11th of October
a fight between the two fleets took place on Lake Champlain, between
the island of Valcour and the mainland.
The British ships were far larger and more numerous than the
American, indeed in comparison with the British the American boats
were mere cockle shells, but the colonists put up a gallant fight
which lasted five hours, and the sun went down leaving them sadly
shattered but still unbeaten.
The British commander, however, felt sure of finishing them off in
the morning. So he anchored his ships in a line across the southern
end of the channel, between the island and the mainland, thus
cutting off all retreat. But Arnold knew his danger, and determined
to make a dash for freedom. The night was dark and foggy. The British
were so sure of their prey that they kept no watch. So while they
slept one by one the American ships crept silently through their
lines and sped away.
When day dawned the British with wrath and disgust saw an empty
lake where they had expected to see a stricken foe. They immediately
gave chase and the following day they again came up with the little
American fleet, for many of the ships were so crippled that they
could move but slowly. Again a five hours' battle was fought. One
ship, the Washington, struck her flag. But Arnold in his little
Congress fought doggedly on. Then seeing he could resist no more
he drove the Congress and four other small boats ashore in a creek
too narrow for any but the smallest one of the British ships to
follow. Here he set them on fire, and bade his men leap for the
shore, he himself being the last to leave the burning decks. On
land he waited until he was certain
 that the ships were safe from
capture, and that they would go down with their flags flying. Then he
marched off with his men, and brought them all safely to Ticonderoga.
The attack on Canada had been an utter failure, the little American
fleet had been shattered, save for Ticonderoga the coveted waterway
was in the hands of the British. Had the British commander known it
too he might have attacked Ticonderoga then and there, and taken
it with ease. But Arnold was there, and Arnold had made such a
name for himself by his dash and courage that Carleton did not dare
attack the fort. And contenting himself for the moment with having
gained control of Lake Champlain he turned to attack Canada.
had failed to take Quebec, and he had lost his little fleet. But
against his failure to take Quebec his countrymen put his wonderful
march through pathless forest; against the loss of the fleet the
fact that but for Arnold it would never have been built at all. So
the people cheered him as a hero, and Washington looked upon him
as one of his best officers.
But Arnold's temper was hot if his head was cool, he was ambitious
and somewhat arrogant. And while he had been fighting so bravely
he had quarrelled with his brother officers, and made enemies of
many. They declared that he fought not for his country's honour
but for the glory of Benedict Arnold. So it came about that he did
not receive the reward of promotion which he felt himself entitled
to. When Congress appointed several new Major Generals he was
passed over, and once again, as after the taking of Ticonderoga,
bitterness filled his heart.
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