Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Allen and Arnold 6

30 Days to Glory: May 4-8
Previous: May 1 - May 3
Next: May 9 - May 10

Thursday, May 4:

The John Brown affair in Rhode Island ends in an unexpected manner. According to Ezra Stiles, “Brown was dismissed and came home to Providence last night..." The British could not prove that he had acted against the government, “upon which General Gage dismissed him, paid him for his flour, order[ed] the packets to be returned to Providence and to be paid Demorage, and has sent off a Reprimand to Captain Wallace of the Rose Man o’War here. A humbling stroke to the Tories!”

Gage’s conciliatory stance is taken for weakness: “An army of 30 thousand [Stiles’ estimate of the American force encamped around Boston] speaks terror. Divine Providence can easily disappoint the malice of men in a bad cause.”

Edward Mott spends a second day in Bennington in the New Hampshire Grants. Upon arriving, Mott met the man claiming that Ticonderoga, and “examined him strictly, and [found] that he was a lying fellow and had not been at the fort.” Whether he had been to the fort or not, there is at least some truth to his statement: Captain William Delaplace is concerned about an attack and he has been reinforced [see April 29]. Mott, however, is not overly concerned about this possibility. He is determined to go on, reasoning that even if the fort had been strengthened, the garrison “would not follow us out into the woods.”

The two men Mott sent to Albany on May 1st return empty-handed. Mott determines to try again because provisions are scarce in the New Hampshire Grants. This time he sends Bernard Romans, a Dutch-born but English-educated engineer. Mott notes, “we were all glad” to see him go, “as he had been a trouble to us, all the time he was with us.”

Mott’s party then turned to recruiting Green Mountain Boys and “proceeded to raise the men as fast as possible, and sent forward men on whom we could depend, to waylay the roads that lead… to Fort Edward, Lake George, Skenesborough, Ticonderoga or Crown Point, with orders to take up all those who were passing… so that no intelligence should go from us to the garrisons.”

Friday, May 5:

The Albany Committee of Correspondence meets with Bernard Romans, but they “decline taking any steps whatever until we have the opinion of the committee of the city of New York, to whom we have wrote and whose answer we expect in a few days.”

Fort Ticonderoga Area (click to enlarge).

Saturday, May 6:

A number of the delegates for the Continental Congress reach New York City. Silas Deane is incredulous at the reception waiting for them: “By the time we had got two miles from the bridge we found the road lined with carriages, and all ages and sexes, and the atmosphere one cloud of dust. Great order was however, though with difficulty, observed… a battalion of about eight hundred men in uniform and bayonets fixed, with a band of music, received us with the military salute, from the right, as we passed them in front, and when passed, we halted and they filed off before us, our guard falling into the rear. You can easier fancy than I describe the amazing concourse of people: I believe well nigh every open carriage in the city, and thousands on foot trudging and sweating through the dirt. At the Fresh Water, the battalion halted, and we again passed their front and received a second salute from the left, and were received by our friends, the delegates of the city. Then we halted, and the battalion again passed us in the same manner as before, and led us down the Main Street, to the corner of Wall Street; up that, and down the Broadway by the fort; then up to Fraunces’s Tavern, where the battalion halted, and we passed them again to the right and receiving the parting salute, with the huzzahs of the assembly, which by this time was much the largest I ever saw. The doors, the windows, the stoops, the roofs of the piazzas, were loaded with all ranks, ages and sexes; in short, I feared every moment lest someone would be crushed to death; but no accident. A little dispute arose as we came near the town,--the populace insisting on taking out our horses and drawing the carriages by hand. This would have relieved Mr. [John] Hancock’s horses, for they were tired, but mine were with difficulty managed amid the crowd, smoke and noise. Instantly a guard of grenadiers was set at each door where we lodged, and relieved regularly, in the usual way. They are in a blue and scarlet uniform, and make a genteel appearance…”

In the city there is a small number of the 18th Foot that dares not leave its barracks. According to Deane, one of the regiment recently deserted and joined a militia company from Connecticut. The deserter then decided he preferred the British army, and returned to the barracks. After this a Connecticut militia captain named Deming went after him, saying to the garrison, “’I care not who he deserted from; he put himself under my protection, and by God I’ll have him, or level the barracks over your heads.’” Deane gloats, “What reply, think ye, these heroes of five companies of the invincible Royal Irish [i.e., the 18th], gave to this pesky Yankey? Why they delivered him up, in the face of the whole city, and Deming carried him off in triumph.”

Sunday, May 7:

By the end of this day the Connecticut volunteers, the Massachusetts militia, and the Green Mountain Boys are to assemble at Castleton in the New Hampshire Grants. Castleton is about a day’s march from Fort Ticonderoga and a half day’s march from Skenesborough.

Monday, May 8:

At Castleton, Colonel Ethan Allen of the Green Mountain Boys is given command of the expedition and James Easton is made second-in-command. Seth Warner (another Green Mountain Boy) is made third-in-command. The leaders agree to send one Captain Samuel Herrick with a detachment of 30 men against Skenesborough. There, he will capture Major Skene and the schooner Katherine. Herrick's men will then bring the boat down the lake to Shoreham, on the eastern shore. From there, the Katherine will transport Allen’s men to Lake Ticonderoga. A volunteer is also dispatched to hire boats at Crown Point and take them to Shoreham.

Word of this expedition is spreading. Gurdon Saltonstall writes to Silas Deane from New London, Connecticut, boasting “You’ll soon have, I dare say, a good account of the northern cannon; the party were joined above in the most hearty manner.”

Benedict Arnold, who is now in the New Hampshire Grants, has also learned of the Connecticut expedition. Writing to local town leaders, he asks them “to exert yourselves, and send forward as many men to join the army here as you can possibly spare. There is plenty of provisions engaged, and on the road, for five hundred men six or eight weeks. Let every man bring as much powder and ball as he can, also a blanket.”

After sending this letter, Arnold rides north to Castleton. He arrives in the evening and meets most of the officers with the Connecticut expedition. According to Mott, “We were extremely rejoiced” when Arnold arrived, for his orders from the Massachusetts Committee of Safety showed that an important body supported their efforts. However, Mott and his companions “were shockingly surprised when Colonel Arnold presumed to contend for the command of those forces that we had raised, who we had assured should go under the command of their own officers, and be paid and maintained by the colony of Connecticut. But Mr. Arnold, after we had generously told him our whole plan, strenuously contended and insisted that he had a right to command them and all their officers.”

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