|Benedict Arnold and the March to Quebec
By Felix Xie
On September 13, 1775 Benedict Arnold and his army left Cambridge Massachusetts for a march to Quebec. On the 15th of September they arrived at Newburyport Port, Massachusetts. Arnold arrived at the mouth of the Kennebec on September 20, 1775. With 1100 men they begin their expedition to Quebec in order to fight the British. They found it was not necessarily the battle that was going to be the hard part, but instead the journey there.
Benedict and his army had gone to Gardnerstown or now known as Pittston, to pick up 200 bateaux from Col. Coburn’s boatyard. As a result of ordering them just 2 weeks earlier, they were made of green wood causing them to be very heavy. On the 23rd of September, the army proceeded to Fort Western. As they went on to Skowhegan, the rivers were very rapid making it difficult to travel. Also, the bateaux were very heavy. As they struggled to make it up the river, they became extremely cold. They made a stop to regain comfort by setting up fires in Winslow. On October 1st the troops continued for another 3 miles. Then Major Miegs bought an Ox for food. On October 2nd they continued up the river on a rainy day. On that day they finally arrived at Skowhegan.
To get over the Skowhegan Falls, it took much effort from the troops. They had to lift the heavy bateaux through the cleft in the sheer rock walls. During the time they were crossing the falls, the bateaux became damaged and food was soaked. Two members of the troops were sent back because they were seriously sick. The falls were on each side of an island in the midstream. The face of the island is six times the height of a man. In the middle of the island is a cleft that is the route for carrying canoes over the falls. (from a quote by Issac Senter)
On October 6th, the bateaux were repaired in Norridgework and were ready to be used again. So they loaded them and started up the river again. Along the river in Norridgewock, they saw the site where Father Rasle, the Catholic priest, and the village of Indians were killed by the British in 1734. On October 2nd until October 9th, the army stayed at the Norridgewock Falls which is now the two falls in Madison. They used oxen to carry the bateaux up steep hills around the falls. They now had leaky bateaux, cold rainy weather, most of the food lost, and everything soaked including bread, peas, flour and all supplies.
They continued up the river for 9 more miles. The streams were rapid and the rain was heavy. They finally arrived at Caratunk Falls. When Captain Dearborn’s company passed this place, t was rapid and shallow. The army was very tired and sick now. They carried all of the supplies on their backs and were in deep mud. They also carried the bateaux. Many of the people had diarrhea from the yellow water. As a result many of the people became sick and had to be left in a temporary shelter for the sick.
The rest of the troops finally made it to the Village of St. Mary. They rested up and attacked Quebec on December 31, 1775. Many of the muskets were filled with water making hardly any shots successful. Arnold’s army was reduced to 650 men. General Montgomery marched with 300 men from Montreal to meet Arnold. Together they attacked the city of Quebec. 100 men were wounded, 300 taken prisoners and many killed. Montgomery was killed and Arnold was shot through the leg.