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I hope you will pardon my neglect in not writing to you for so long a time, when I acquaint you that I have, from time to time, communicated every material intelligence .to General Wooster, who, I make no doubt, has transmitted the same to you. The 1st instant, he arrived at the camp before Quebec; on the 2d, I had, on an alarm, occasion to mount my horse, who unluckily fell on me, and violently bruised my lame leg and ankle, which confined me until the 12th, at which time I left the camp, and arrived here yesterday. Had I been able to take an active part, I should by no means have left the camp ; but as General "Wooster did not think proper to consult me in any of his matters, J was convinced I should be of more service here than in the camp, and he very readily granted me leave of absence, until recovered of my lameness.
Inclosed is a list of our force before Quebec, which, I am I sorry to say, is so very inconsiderable, and illy supplied with every requisite to carry on a siege, that I am very dubious of their success. The 2d instant, we opened a battery of three guns and one howitzer, on Point Levy. Another battery of six guns, two howitzers, and two small mortars, on the Heights of Abraham, and one of two guns, at the Traverse, were nearly completed when I came away. To supply the whole, there are only three or four tons of powder, and ten or twelve of shot; an engineer and a few artillery men. Two fire-ships, one at Orleans, and one at Point-aux-Trembles, were nearly completed, to attempt burning their ships, as soon as the ice will admit of it. We have few seamen, and not one commander, to man those vessels, or I should conceive great hopes of their success.
Our army are supplied with provisions to the 10th of May, after which time their only resource for meat is from below. This country, which is not plentiful at best, is nearly exhausted of beef. We can procure a supply of flour, if furnished with cash. I am now stretching our credit for that purpose, which is at alow ebb. I cannot help lamenting, that more effectual measures have not been adopted to secure this country in our interest, an object which appears to me of the highest importance to the Colonies. Colonel Hazen, who is a sensible, judicious officer, and well acquainted with this country, has shown me his letter to you, of the 1st instant. I am sorry to say, I think most of his remarks too true ; and if we are not immediately supported with eight or ten thousand men, a good train of artillery well served, and a military chest well furnished, the ministerial troops, if they attempt it, will regain this country, and we shall be obliged to quit it, the fatal consequences of which are too obvious.
On my way up, I carefully examined the rapids of Richelieu, fifteen leagues above Quebec, which appear to me a very important post. The channel runs near the shore, and few ships can go up without anchoring near the shore, at the foot of the Rapids, where a battery of ten or twelve guns, and three or four gondolas above, will, in my opinion, effectually secure the pass, as no ships larger than a frigate can go up. I have despatched Lieutenant Johnson, of the train, to Crown Point, for four eighteen and eleven twelve-pounders, with what shot are at that place, for the above purpose, as we have very little time to fortify. I have directed him to bring down a gondola, which, I am told, is at Crown Point. We ought to have six or eight of them immediately, to secure the river, and prevent our communication being cut off with the army before Quebec. The row-galley that was at St. John's has been drove over the Falls, stove to pieces, and the gondola cut to pieces ; so that we have only one gondola, mounting a twelve-pounder, and in a shattered condition.
Timber and plank for those ordered to be built here have been procured, and nothing will be done until they arrive from below. Intrenching tools are much wanted. We have very few. I have found it necessary to order Colonel Bedel, with two hundred men, to the Cedars, a very important post, fifteen leagues above this, to prevent any goods being sent to the upper country, and to guard against a surprise from the enemy or their Indians. I have also sent a Captain and sixty men to Carringon. We have left at this garrison about five hundred men, about half of whom are waiting an opportunity to return home. We are waiting with the greatest anxiety to receive supplies of men and ammunition from below. Every thing is at a stand for want of those resources, and, if not obtained soon, our affairs in this country will be entirely ruined. I am, with great respect and esteem, dear General,
Your obedient and 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