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Your favor of the 3d of April I received a few days since, and I should have answered by the last post, but was obliged to go to Chamblee to give directions about some gondolas building there. I heartily congratulate you on the success of your arms against Boston, and am sorry it is not in my power to give you a more pleasing account of our affairs in this country, which wear no very favorable aspect at present. General Thomas arrived here about ten days since, and has joined the army before Quebec. General Wooster is disgusted, and expected here daily. Our army consists of few more than two thousand effective men, and twelve hundred sick and unfit for duty, chiefly with smallpox, which is universal in the country. We have very little provisions, no cash, and less credit; and, until the arrival of the heavy cannon and two mortars from Cambridge, our artillery has been trifling. The mortars I expect will reach the camp to-morrow, and shells can be supplied from Three Rivers. I hope they will have the desired effect ; the want of cash has greatly retarded our operations in this country. We are fortifying two very important posts, which command the river at Richelieu, fifteen leagues above, and at Jacques Cartier, which commands a pass between two mountains, eleven leagues above Quebec. If succours should arrive before we can possess ourselves of Quebec, I hope we shall be able to maintain these two posts until a reenforcement arrives to our assistance, which we are told are on their way here. These are the only posts that secure the river, until you approach near Montreal ; and of so much consequence, that nothing but superior numbers will oblige us to abandon them.
I have mounted three twenty-four-pounders on a gondola, and armed several bateaux, which go down the river to-morrow ; these, with a schooner mounting ten guns, and a gondola mounting one twelve-pounder, are all the force we have in the river. Four other gondolas are building at Chamblee, calculated to mount three heavy pieces of cannon, but will not be completed these two weeks. To-morrow I set off to the army with no very agreeable prospect before me. Should the enemy receive any considerable re-enforcement soon, I make no doubt we shall have our hands full. At any rate, we will do all that can be expected from raw troops, badly clothed and fed, and worse paid, and without discipline. I trust the event to Providence.
We have received advice that the eighth regiment, of about four hundred men, with a number of savages, are coming down from the upper countries. I have posted five hundred men at the Cedars, a narrow pass fifteen leagues above this place. They have two pieces of cannon, and well intrenched, by which they must pass.
I have only time to beg you will accept my best wishes and respectful compliments, and make the same to the gentlemen of your family. I am, most respectfully, 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