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I wrote you the 2d instant, from Willsborough, by Lieutenant Calderwood. The same evening, anchored at Schuyler's Island; and, on the 3d instant, arrived safe at this place, which is four or five miles from the Isle-aux-Tetes, and seven miles from the Isle-la-Motte. We found the Isle-aux-Tetes occupied by the enemy, and several hundred men encamped between that and us, who, the evening of our arrival, made a precipitate retreat. I have posted my guard-boats at a point running into the Lake, about one mile below us. The enemy's boats have several times appeared on the Lake, with a view of decoying our boats ; but I have never suffered them to be pursued. Lieutenant Whitcomb arrived here the 5th instant, in the evening, and went off the same night, with three men, for St. John s, on the west side. I sent off Ensign McKay early the next morning, on the cast side, with three men. They are to send me intelligence from time to time. I expect to hear from them to-morrow.
Early yesterday morning the boats were ordered on shore, to cut fascines to fix on the bows and sides of the gondolas, to prevent the enemy's boarding, and to keep off small shot. One of the boats went on shore (contrary to orders) before the others were ready. They were attacked by a party of savages, who pursued them into the water. They all reached the boat; but, before they could row off, three were killed and six wounded. The party was headed by a regular officer, who called to our people to resign themselves. On our firing a few shot among them, they immediately dispersed. A party was sent on shore, who found a laced beaver hat, the button marked forty-seventh regiment.
The Lee and gondola arrived here yesterday morning. We are moored in a line across the Lake, in such a manner that it will be impossible for a bateau to pass us. I hope the galleys are nearly completed. The force of the enemy is uncertain; however, they have this advantage, that they can man all their bateaux with soldiers, whenever they think proper to attack us ; and our vessels are so low that numbers may carry them by boarding. This must be attended with great loss on their side, as I am positive that they will not be able to surprise us. If I find the enemy have a considerable naval force, I design to retire to Cumberland Head, or Schuyler's Island, until joined by the three galleys, which will be superior to all our present force, when the whole are joined.
I believe the Isle-la-Motte will be the best stand, as the enemy can bring nothing against us by land, nor will they dare to come on the Island; and, by our guard-boats, we can prevent any boats going from Missisco Bay. As you have more troops at Ticonderoga than you want, will it not be prudent to send up one thousand or fifteen hundred men, who might encamp on the Isle-la-Motte, and be ready at all times to assist us, if attacked? Twenty men to a bateau will be sufficient. They might load under cover of the vessels, push out and fire, and retire under cover again ; and, if the enemy's boats should make their principal attack on any particular vessel, those bateaux might assist her. Each should be fixed for a swivel in each end ; and, if they are arrived, one should be fixed in them. If you should think it necessary to send a detachment, it will be necessary to bring intrenching tools, that they may cover them selves from small-arms.
We have but very indifferent men in general. Great part of those who shipped for seamen know very little of the matter. Three or four good gunners are wanted. Inclosed is a list of our sick, who increase fast. I have sent up, in three bateaux, twenty-three men, who will be of no service for some time. I wish fifty-eight seamen could be procured and sent down.
I inclose you a letter from Samuel Chase, Esq. You will observe he requests an explanation of your letter to Mr. Adams. He observes, my character is much injured by a report prevailing in Philadelphia, of my having sequestered the goods sek+ed in Montreal. As you have had an opportunity of hearing that matter canvassed on the trial of Colonel Hazen, I beg you will be kind enough to write your sentiments to him on the matter. I cannot but think it extremely cruel, when I have sacrificed my ease, health, and great part of my private property in the cause of my country, to be calumniated as a robber and thief, at a time too when I have it not in my power to be heard in my own defence.
The 15th August, when we left Ticonderoga, the fleet was victualled for thirty days, which time is elapsed, except six days. We have on board the fleet six or eight days provision, besides twenty barrels of flour, left at Crown Point, to be baked, and ten barrels of pork, which I have ordered Lieutenant Calderwood to bring down, which will serve the fleet to the 20th. As the Lake is often very difficult to pass for a number of days, we ought to have at least one month's provision on hand. Major G. goes up with the sick, to whom I must refer you for particulars. We are very anxious to hear from New York. I hope soon to have that pleasure by one of the galleys, which I think must be completed by this time.
Please to make my compliments to the gentlemen of your family, and believe me, with much respect, esteem, and affection, dear General, yours, &c.,
- 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