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The day after I did myself the honor to write your Excellency from Albany, I set out for this place and arrived here on the 30th ultimo, much indisposed with a bilious fever. Next day I followed General Montgomery, whom I overtook on the 4th instant at the Isle-la-Motte, he having "been detained by adverse winds and rainy weather. On that day we moved on to Isle-aux-Noix, twelve miles south of St. John's. On the 5th I drew a Declaration, (but was so ill that it is not such as I could wish, a copy of which you have inclosed,) which I sent into Canada by Major Brown and Mr. Allen; and as we judged that going to St. John's, weak as we were, (our numbers not exceeding one thousand, and the little artillery we had not come up,) might have a good effect on the Canadians and encourage them to join us, we resolved upon the measure, and landed our baggage and provisions, except for four days, and early on the 6th embarked, and, with out any obstructions, proceeded towards St. John's. When we arrived in sight of it, and at the distance of about two miles, the enemy began to cannonade, but did us no damage. We approached half a mile nearer and then landed without opposition, in a close, deep swamp, which extended to very near the fort. Here we formed, and marched in the best order we could towards the fort, to reconnoitre. Major Hobby, of Waterbury s, with a detachment flanked the left wing, and was something advanced before the main body, when he was attacked, in crossing a deep muddy brook, by a party of Indians, from whom he received a heavy fire; but our men pushing on, they soon gave way and left us the ground. In the rencounter we had a sergeant, a corporal, and three privates killed, and one missing ; eight privates wounded, three of whom died the ensuing night; Major Hobby shot through the thigh, Captain Mead through the shoulder, and Lieutenant Brown in the hand. These gentlemen are all out of danger. Night coming on, and the swamp being almost impassable, we drew our men together, and east up a small intrenchment to defend ourselves in case of an attack in the night. In the evening a gentleman, Mr. (whose name I can only mention to your Excellency, not having even ventured it to the Congress, and therefore beg you to erase the scored part of the letter after persual,) came to me and | gave me the following account; "That there were no regular troops in Canada, but the twenty-sixth regiment; that all these, except fifty at Montreal, were at St. John's and Chamblee ; that there were then at St. John's about one hundred Indians, and that there was a considerable body with Colonel Johnson; that the fortifications were complete and strong, and plentifully furnished with cannon; that the vessel was launched, and had one mast in and the other ready to raise; that she would be ready to sail in three or four days, and is to carry six teen guns; that he does not believe that our army will be joined by one Canadian; that they wish to be neuter on the occasion, but if we should penetrate into Canada, it would not displease them, provided their persons and properties were safe, and w r e paid them in gold and silver for what we had ; that in the situation we were in he judged it would be imprudent to attack St. John's, and advised us to send some parties amongst the inhabit ants, and the remainder of the army to retire to the Isle-aux-Noix, from whence we might have an intercourse with Laprairie. He told me that in the afternoon's engagement five Indians were killed and four badly wounded, besides several others the condition of whose wounds he did not know, and Captain Tyce, of Johnstown, who was "badly wounded in the belly."
On the 7th, in the morning, (having "been undisturbed through the night excepting by a few shells, which did no other damage than slightly wounding Lieutenant Mills,) I called a council of war of all the field officers present, to whom I communicated the information I had received, and in close a copy of their opinion, which, being perfectly consonant to my own, I immediately ordered the troops to embark, and we retired.
On my return to Isle-aux-Noix I immediately began to fortify the place, and to throw a boom across the channel, until my artillery should come up. On the 9th I received a letter from Canada, without signature, but which I knew to be writ ten by Mr. James Livingston (copy inclosed). As I had through other channels a collaboration of the intelligence contained in the former part of his letter, I resolved, as I had not yet iny artillery, to detach five hundred men into Canada, and gave orders on the 9th for their embarkation on the 10th, with an additional number of about three hundred, to cover their landing and bring back the boats. (Copy of my instructions to the commanding officer inclosed.)
For the event of this intended expedition, see the paper which was drawn and delivered me by one of the party, and, from what I can learn, is just.
This body returned on Monday, the 11th. On Tuesday, the 12th, I found I had upwards of six hundred sick, Waterbury's regiment being reduced to less than five hundred. General Montgomery (for I was too ill to leave my bed) perceived, however, with pleasure, that the men were unable to bear the reproach of their late unbecoming behaviour ; and, taking advantage of this happy return to a sense of their duty, on the 13th I issued the orders contained in the paper Number Six. The 14th proved rainy, and retarded the embarkation of the cannon. On this day Colonel Allen arrived and made the report, Number Seven; and I found myself so much better that I had hopes of moving with the army, but by ten at night my disorder reattacked me with double violence, and every fair prospect of a speedy recovery vanished. Great part of the 15th rainy, the embarkation much retarded by it. On the same day I received the letter of which Number Eight is a copy. On the 16th I was put into a covered boat, and left Isle-aux-Noix ; and as it rained part of the day, I do not suppose that General Montgomery could move until the 17th, which proved fair.
The mode of the intended attack on St. John's, as judged best both by General Montgomery and myself was as follows; to land as near the fort as we did the first time we went down ; the two row-galleys carrying a twelve-pounder each, and well manned; the sloop and schooner and ten bateaux with picked men, to lay in the river, ready to attack the enemy's schooner (which is complete and carries sixteen guns) in case she should attempt to destroy our boats, or get to the southward of them, and thereby effectually cut off all communication between this place and the army. After this naval arrangement (which will take three hundred and fifty men), five hundred men to be sent as a corps of observation to intercept any succours between St. John's and Chamblee, and to keep as near the former as possible; two hundred men at the proposed landing to cover the boats and secure a retreat for the men in the vessels and boats, should the enemy's vessel [intercept them] ; the remainder of the army to invest the place, make the approaches, and erect the batteries.
You will perceive, by Number Five, that some of the enemy's boats fired on our people. Captain Douglas, who commands one of our armed boats, pointed and fired a twelve-pounder, loaded with ball and grape-shot, at them, and we have accounts that about thirty of the unfriendly Canadians were killed or drowned. In the first engagement, on the 7th, we killed them six Indians, two Caghnawagas, as many Mohawks, (Daniel, and Williani, a bastard son of Sir William Johnson s,) one Connasadago, and one Huron; and w j e are informed, by a Caghnawaga and Huron whom I left at Isle-aux-Noix, that not an Indian remained at St. John's, and which I believe to be true. Four deputies, who were sent by the Six Nations, and left Isle-aux-Noix on the 10th, to request the Canadian Indians to remain neuter, were not returned when I left Isle-aux-Noix. I have taken the liberty to desire General Montgomery to make a present, in the name of the Congress, to the Canadian Indians, if he should think it necessary.
Since the affair of the 10th, the army at Isle-aux-Noix, which then consisted of thirteen hundred and ninety-four effectives, all ranks included, has been reinforced by Captain Livingston's company of New Yorkers, nearly complete; on the 16th, by Colonel Warner, whom I met, an hour after my departure with one hundred and seventy Green Mountain Boys (being the first that have appeared of that boasted corps) ; he left this with about fifty more, "but they mutinied, and the remainder are at Crown Point. Captain Allen's company, of the same corps, arrived here last night, every man of which was raised in Connecticut. About one hundred men of Colonel Bedel's, from New Hampshire, (his corps was to have been up a fortnight before, the remainder, one hundred and fifty of that body, were yet to come) joined, the 16th, at night; and I suppose the artillery company, under Captain Lamb, will join them to-day. These last were indispensably necessary, as we had none that knew r any thing of the matter; so that the whole reinforcement consists of about four hundred. Yesterday I sent off sixty of Easton s, and one hundred and forty more are just embarking; this is the whole of that corps. About one hundred and twenty-five, of the first New York battalion, will embark early to-morrow, together with the company of Green Mountain Boys, consisting of about seventy.
Two hundred and sixty, of the third New York battalion, remain here, which I will forward on as soon as I can procure craft, which is building slowly, as most of the carpenters are gone home sick.
Your Excellency's letter, of the 8th instant, I received yesterday. I am happy to learn that the troops under the command of Colonel Arnold were to march so soon. I hope our people will commit no depredations in Canada; all possible care will be taken of it; but yet I have many fears on that score, as they stole thirty-two sheep at Isle-aux-Noix, contrary to the most pointed orders.
Be assured, Sir, that I shall not fail of giving you the most early intelligence of every occurrence worthy your attention.
I find myself much better, as the fever has left me, and hope soon to return where I ought and wish to be, unless a "barbarous relapse should dash this cup of hope from my lips.
The number of sick is incredible, and I have very little assistance to afford them. I wish I could make you a return of the army under my command; but I cannot get one; a great deal of foul play is carrying on.
I am indebted to General Lee and Colonel Reed for a letter, but I am too feeble to write. Be pleased to assure them of my respect, and be so good as to make my compliments acceptable to all the gentlemen of your suite. I am, dear Sir, your Excellency's
Most obedient and most
- Philip John Schuyler
- 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