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I wrote you the 14th ultimo, of our situation and prospects, since which nothing of consequence has occurred here. The enemy, to the number of about five hundred, have twice sallied out at Palace Gate, with design of seizing our field-pieces (near the Nunnery) ; but, on our troops advancing to attack them, they made a precipitate retreat under cover of their guns. Desertions from the garrison are frequent, by which we learn they are much distressed for fuel, and must soon burn their houses and ships. Two officers, taken at St. John s, were lately sent with a flag to the walls, with a view of getting their families at liberty, but were refused admittance, which, I am told by several deserters, incensed the inhabitants very much, and caused a great uneasiness in the garrison, who, I believe begin to grow heartily tired of salt provisions and confinement. We have received a reinforcement of four hundred men; many are daily coming in. I hope, in the course of this month, we shall have four or five thousand men. I am fearful we shall not be supplied with shot, shells, mortars, &c. I am therefore preparing ladders for an assault, if necessary. The extensiveness of the works I think will render their defence impracticable.
I have this minute the pleasure of your favor of the 27th ultimo. I am greatly obliged to you for your good wishes, and the concern you express for me. Sensible of the vast importance of this country, you may be assured my utmost exertions will not be wanting to effect your wishes in adding it to the United Colonies. I am fully of your opinion, that the balance will turn in whose favor it belongs. The repeated successes of our raw, undisciplined troops over the flower of the British army, the many unexpected and remarkable occurrences in our favor, are plain proofs of the overruling hand of Providence, and justly demand our warmest gratitude to Heaven, which I make no doubt will crown our virtuous efforts with success. No doubt Administration will exert themselves in sending a large force this way in the spring ; but if we are fortunate enough to reduce the city before they arrive, I make no doubt of keeping it, as we shall have the interest of the country in general, to which the raising two regiments of Canadians (which Congress have ordered) will not a little conduce.
I am sorry to inform you, notwithstanding every precaution that could be used, the smallpox has crept in among the troops. We have near one hundred men in the hospital. In general it is favorable; very few have died. I have moved the inhabitants of the vicinity of Quebec into the country, and hope to prevent its spreading any further.
The severity of the climate, the troops very illy clad, and worse paid, the trouble of reconciling matters among the inhabitants, and lately an uneasiness amonc; the New York and some other officers, who think themselves neglected in the new arrangement, while those who deserted the cause and went home last fall have been promoted ; in short, the choice of difficulties I have had to encounter, has rendered it so very perplexing, that I have often been at a loss how to conduct matters.
As General Schuyler's ill state of health will not permit his coming this way, I was in hopes General Lee, or some experienced officer, would have been sent to take the command here. The service requires a person of greater abilities and experience than I can pretend to. General Wooster writes me his intention of coming down here. I am afraid he will not be able to leave Montreal.
I have the pleasure to inform you my wound is entirely healed, and I am able to hobble about my room. Though my leg is a little contracted and weak, I hope soon to be fit for action. We are waiting impatiently, expecting to hear of some capital blow being struck with you. I beg my compliments to the gentlemen of your family; and am, with great respect and esteem, dear General,
Your obedient and very humble servant,
- Benedict Arnold
- Correspondence of the American Revolution; Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Volume I., Jared Sparks, 1853