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I this moment received a letter from General Sullivan at Sorel, dated at 4 o clock yesterday evening, informing me that a body of the King's troops and a number of ships were between him and Three Rivers, and that he soon expected to be attacked. I have sent every man that could be spared to his assistance, but am fearful he will be obliged to abandon his post. If the enemy land on that side, I am fearful they will endeavour to possess themselves of Chamblee and St. John s. If they come upon this side (on which they are at present), we must evacuate this town. Some days since the sick and baggage have been removed to St. John s. I am now removing a parcel of goods I have seized for the use of the army. I expect to have all over this evening. I shall retain only four or five hundred men to garrison the place, until I receive orders to leave it, or am obliged to quit it by superior force. Out of upwards of eight thousand men in this country, not five thousand effectives can be mustered. The smallpox has broke and divided the army in such a manner that it is almost ruined.
Our want of almost every necessary for the army, and repeated misfortunes and losses, have greatly dispirited the troops. Our enemies are daily increasing, and our friends deserting us. Under these discouragements and obstacles, with a powerful army against us, well disciplined, and wanting in no one article to carry on their operations, it will be a miracle, if we keep the country. My only expectation is to secure our retreat to St. John's or the Isle-aux-Noix, where it will doubtless be thought necessary to make a stand ; for which purpose all the bateaux and vessels on your side the Lake, that can be spared, should be sent over. Our gondolas we shall be obliged to destroy. Others ought immediately to be taken in hand to secure the Lake. The enemy, I am well informed, have brought a number with them, framed and done to put up in a short time. The want of a little attention in time has lost us this fine country. I hope for better things on your side, and that, in the rotation of fortune, something better will turn up for us here. In every vicissitude of fortune, I am, with great esteem and affection, dear General,
Your obedient, 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