| American History Stories, Volume II|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Tales of Revolutionary times, including the causes of the American Revolution, the daring exploits of those defending liberty, the early battles, the struggles of the army, and the heroes who led the colonists to victory. Ages 8-12 |
THE MARCH TO QUEBEC
 In 1775, the Americans began looking longingly towards
Canada. Ever since the success at Ticonderoga, Ethan
Allen and Benedict Arnold had been saying, "Send us to
Montreal and Quebec! Let us take them as we took Crown
Point and Ticonderoga!"
Washington knew what a grand thing it would be for the
American army to get possession of these cities; but
he also knew something which very few beside himself
knew; and that was, that the American army had
not enough powder to carry on
their work, where they were, much longer unless help
came. For this reason he held back some time. Many
officers and soldiers heaped abuse upon Washington's
head for this, and nearly accused him of being
 He endured their blame however, for he dared not let it
be known how low the powder supply was growing.
Finally, in the early fall two armies were ordered into
Canada. One under General Montgomery, the other under
Benedict Arnold. General Montgomery led his division
up through New York and down the St. Lawrence to
Montreal, while Benedict Arnold led his division up
Montgomery's soldiers were a wretched looking
set—ragged and dirty, shoeless and
hatless,—but still willing to march on and fight
for their loved country. On reaching Montreal they
found that the British soldiers had been all called
into the colonies, and that the city was therefore
without defence. Of course the city was taken with
little or no trouble, and in the army marched. It is a
terrible thing to ransack a city as this army ransacked
Montreal, but as long as wars go on these things must
be done; and since it has to be done here, we cannot
but be glad that it was our own brave men who fell upon
the riches of this city. Such treasures as they did
find! not so much money, but food and clothing!
Blankets and warm shirts, jackets and trousers,
stockings and shoes!
They thought it almost worth while to have marched all
this distance just to be once more warmed and clothed
and fed. They remembered, too, the other soldiers who
were coming up through Maine, and would soon be with
them, and they carried off enough of all these good
things for them, as well.
 Montgomery, leaving a part of his soldiers to hold
Montreal, now marched on to Quebec, where Arnold was to
join forces with him.
When Arnold came, he had a terrible story to tell.
Their march up through Maine had been almost as
terrible as the "Winter at Valley Forge," of which you
will read later on. The army had come up the Kennebec
River in boats, and when they had come to places where
they could not push along their boats, they had carried
them on their backs until open places again were found.
It had been so bitterly cold! they had marched waist
deep through icy water, and had lain down in their wet
clothing night after night in the freezing forests.
Their clothes ragged enough when they set out, could
now hardly be kept together; their shoes, in this
five-hundred-mile march, had been worn to nothing, and
many a soldier had frozen his feet. Their provisions,
too, had given out, and many of the soldiers had eaten
the leather of their shoes and knapsacks, so hungry
Many of these poor men, overcome by starvation and
sickness, had turned back discouraged. Some of them
afterwards succeeded in getting back to Massachusetts,
but more died lost in the forests.
Arnold had with him a brave young man named Aaron Burr,
who acted the part of a hero in this terrible march,
and in the attack that followed. When Montreal was
 reached, Burr started on another hundred miles to tell
Montgomery that Arnold's forces were ready to join him
in the attack on Quebec.
It was now December—the last day of the year. A
severe snowstorm was raging—a real blizzard, we
should call it now—and in the very midst of it,
the command came for the attack upon Quebec.
Now there were very few soldiers in the city, and it
would have been a very easy thing to take this
city—as easy as it had been to take
Montreal—only that this city was a "walled city,"
and more than that, it was situated
 high up on bluffs or cliffs overlooking the river. You
can see how hard it was for the army outside to get up
to this city, and how easy it was for the army within
the city to sweep them down with their fire.
A terrible, almost hand to hand battle followed. One
battery had been taken by the Americans, and they were
just attacking the second.
"Follow me, my brave boys," called Montgomery, "and
Quebec is ours!"—but just then, down came a
volley of grape shot from the garrison above, striking
dead this brave leader and mowing down the soldiers on
every side of him. Dismayed at the loss of their
leader, the men in the rear turned and fled—and
Quebec was lost to our side.
When young Aaron Burr, who was standing beside
Montgomery in the foremost ranks, saw his leader
wounded, he caught up the falling body, and, staggering
under the load, dragged it down the bluffs beyond the
reach of the fire of the enemy.
Arnold remained for some time in Canada, hoping to find
a chance to attack the city again; but the soldiers in
the city were on the watch, and before very long
British soldiers arrived to help them; then there
seemed nothing for him to do but to march home with the
broken army, and so leave Canada to the British.
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