Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Battle of Port Royal Island (3)

This is the third of three posts on the February 3, 1779, battle of Port Royal Island. For the first two parts, see here and here.

On Port Royal Island, British light infantry under Major Valentine Gardiner and South Carolina forces under Brigadier-General William Moultrie deployed for battle.

Major Gardiner galloped up to the Americans with a white handkerchief hanging from the tip of his drawn sword and demanded that they surrender. Allegedly, Lieutenant Francis Kinloch, Moultrie’s aide-de-camp, responded by saying that ‘they had too much British blood in their veins to yield their post without dispute,’ and the American militia cheered.

When Gardiner returned to his lines, the British howitzer fired, and the bursting shell mortally wounded Lieutenant Benjamin Wilkins of the Charleston Artillery.

The American 6-pounders responded, and the second shot struck the British gun carriage. At that moment, the sailor carrying the matchstick fled, leaving the howitzer out of action for the rest of the battle.

Moultrie then advanced his two wings and a general engagement ensued.

Battle of Port Royal Island in Miniature. British light infantry of the 16th (yellow facings) and 60th regiments (blue facings) face off against South Carolina militia, including the Charleston Artillery.

The British tried to turn the flanks of the American line, but those on the left (troops of the 4/60th under Lieutenant Breitenbach) could not negotiate the felled trees, and those on the right (troops of the 16th under Lieutenant Calderwood) found that the Charleston militia presented too extensive a line.

Meanwhile, the American guns raked the British line with both solid shot and grape shot. Ensign Plumer was struck down by the wind of a cannon ball that passed under Major Gardiner’s horse. Major Graham was struck twice by grapeshot, and Ensign Finlay was mortally wounded.

The American infantry then launched their own attack. Captain Murray refused the left flank, and as he dressed the line, he was struck in the right buttocks by a piece of grape shot.

On the other end of the line, Lieutenant Skinner repelled an attack against the British right. Skinner took command of this end of the line after Lieutenant Calderwood was mortally wounded.

The American guns drove the British to seek cover behind brush on either side of the road. Captains Murray and Bruère rallied the troops on the left (eastern) side of the road, and Major Gardiner and Lieutenant Skinner rallied the troops on the right.

Gardiner then decided to retreat and he sent one Corporal Craig of the 16th across the roadway to deliver the orders to Murray and Bruère. Murray, however, claimed he could not safely retreat, and besides, his men were at last pushing back the Americans. The brush provided his men with an opportunity. In the words of Moultrie, “this action was reversed from the usual way of fighting, between the British and Americans; they taking to the bushes and we remaining upon the open ground…” Murray sent Corporal Craig back, and Gardiner rescinded his order.

As the militia fell back, Bruère's men worked their way into range of the American cannon, and appeared to silence the guns. (According to Moultrie, the American guns were running low on ammunition). But then Bruère was struck in the ribs and he made his way to a log house in the rear of the line that had become a makeshift hospital.

During the fight, Captain John Barnwell, who commanded a troop of 15 light horse, remained on the edges of the fight, sending messages back to the American line on the British movements. At about this time, Barnwell saw an opportunity, and his troop swept down on the British line, sending Gardiner fleeing before them, and cutting him off from the British line. Barnwell’s troop then reached the log house where they captured Bruère and 14 other men.

The battlefield at this point must have been a smoke-drenched and confused place, for both sides would be convinced that they had decisively beaten their foe.

Below is historian Peter Young’s description of the conclusion of the battle, which was based primarily on Captain Murray’s written recollection.

“For as the Americans fell back, Murray was advancing: the 16th on the right; the 60th on the left; the centre open. The flank platoons, those of Calderwood and Baron Breitenbach had orders to charge in as soon as they should gain the enemy’s flanks. A solitary American rifleman, doubtless one of the Virginians [sic], stayed behind when the rest gave way and shot Murray through the left arm, just as he was waving it to signal Breitenbach to charge from the flank, while he himself attacked frontally. Murray fainted, and his men paused, giving the Americans time to bring up their horses and draw off the gun.

“The final British charge was made in open order, but the American riflemen did not wait for the bayonet: throwing away their arms, they made off.

“On the British right things followed much the same course. Lieutenant Skinner, now the senior unwounded officer, made a spirited attack and drove the Americans back to the ground from which they had advanced. They retired in confusion, threatened on both flanks.”

By contrast, below is an excerpt from General Moultrie’s after-action report to Major-General Benjamin Lincoln, dated February 4, 1779:

“after some little time finding our men too much exposed to the enemy's fire, I ordered them to take trees; about three quarters of an hour after the action began, I heard a general cry through the line, of ‘no more cartridges ;’ and was also informed by Captains Heyward and Rutledge, that the ammunition for the field-pieces was almost expended, after firing about forty rounds from each piece: upon this I ordered the field-pieces to be drawn off very slowly; and their right and left wings to keep pace with the artillery to cover their flanks, which was done in tolerable order for undisciplined troops: the enemy had beat their retreat before we began to move, but we had little or no ammunition, and could not of consequence pursue: they retreated so hastily as to leave an officer, one sergeant, and three privates, wounded, in a house near the action, and their dead lying on the field. It is impossible as yet to be particular with respect, to the latter. Two officers we have found and seven men they fought from behind the bushes.”

At this point it was late in the day, the British had taken considerable losses (perhaps 1 in 4 had been killed or wounded), and they had used up most of their ammunition. The British decided to withdraw to their boats, leaving behind their killed and some of their wounded.

One small solace was that as the British withdrew, they had a brush with Barnwell’s mounted men, which led to the recovery of most of the men Barnwell had taken. (Barnwell retained only 1 sergeant and 6 rank and file as prisoners).

The action at Port Royal Island brought the British raid into South Carolina to a close. The raid failed to significantly distract the American high command in the south, who continued to focus on preventing the British conquest of the Georgian backcountry (discussed in Part 1).

British Losses:

Several estimates of British losses appear below.

Young stated that the British held together only 70 rank and file by the end of the battle and that about half of the force (total strength was close to 160 men) was made casualties.

General Bull shared the following information in a letter to Moultrie dated February 12, 1779:

“Yesterday seven sailors, deserters from the Lord George Germain ship of war, were brought in by a party from one of our picquets; they say that the fleet is on their way to Savannah; that their land troops lost, in the action with us on Port-Royal, forty killed and wounded, and that the night after the action, an express was sent by a boat to Savannah, for a reinforcement, but the answer was, none could be spared, and that the fleet must return…”

The Royal Georgia Gazette (as cited by The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina: 1514-1861), stated that British casualties were only 30.

American Losses:

Moultrie, in an after action report to Major-General Benjamin Lincoln, stated that there was 1 officer mortally wounded, 3 other officers wounded, “with six or seven privates killed in the field, and fifteen wounded.”

Moultrie identified the officers by name and he later compiled a return of losses for those of other ranks in the two Charleston militia companies (published in Volume 1 of his 1802 memoirs). These add up to 14 named men:

  • Charleston Artillery. Mortally wounded: Lieutenant Benjamin Wilkins, S. Wilkins, John Fraser. Wounded: Captain Thomas Heyward (in arm), John Anthony, John Calvert, Anthony Watts, John Green, and John Laurence.
  • Charleston Light Infantry. Wounded: Lieutenant Archibald Brown, Lieutenant Sawyer, John Collins, John Righton, and John D. Miller.

The Charleston militia was not the only body of American troops at the battle. According to Boatner's Encyclopedia of the American Revolution, total American losses were 8 killed, 22 wounded.


This account of the battle of Port Royal Island is based primarily on Peter Young’s (1967) The British Army, William Moultrie's (Volume 1, 1802) memoirs, and Lawrence Rowland, Alexander Moore, and George Rogers' (Volume 1, 1996) The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Battle of Port Royal Island (2)

In late January, 1779, Major Valentine Gardiner led a British expedition north from Savannah, Georgia, along the South Carolina coast. The British landed on coastal islands, where they burned a number of plantations and captured several hundred slaves. Their excuse for burning plantations was that they “received very abusive language from the people on shore,” “or had found some illiberal words written with chalk on the walls, against them.” [1]

American forces on Port Royal Island consisted of a small detachment of the 4th South Carolina regiment (Captain John de Tréville commanding) and some militia. These men defended Fort Lyttleton, which protected the town of Beaufort, but which could not stop the British from landing and raiding elsewhere. On January 31, the militia abandoned the fort. Captain de Tréville then hastily spiked the guns and blew up the fort [2].

That night, Brigadier-General William Moultrie reached the ferry crossing to Port Royal Island and learned that the fort had been destroyed. A sizeable force of South Carolina militia encamped near the ferry, including men from the relatively well trained and equipped Charleston regiment. [3]

On February 2, Moultrie crossed over to Port Royal Island with close to 300 men, and the next morning he marched into Beaufort. There, Moultrie found that some arms and supplies could be salvaged from Fort Lyttleton, but before any action could be taken, word was received that the British were about 5 miles away. Moultrie then assembled the men and marched after them. [4]

The two forces met about halfway between Beaufort and the island ferry. At this point, the British were between the Americans and the ferry. At the same time, the Americans threatened to separate the British from their boats.

Captain Patrick Murray, who commanded a British light infantry company, claimed that the battle was fought “along the road to the entry of Rhodes’ Swamp, where—on the crest of the Pina Barren beyond the swamp where the trees were felled but not cleared off.” [5]

Schematic Diagram (not to scale) of British and American Forces at the Battle of Port Royal Island.

The Americans halted about 200 yards from the British. The Charleston Artillery deployed in the road, and the infantry were deployed in two wings that extended into the woods on either side. Captain de Tréville took with him a 2-pounder when he abandoned Fort Lyttleton; this gun was positioned in support of the right wing.

The British troops consisted of three light infantry companies supported by a small howitzer (manned by 2 gunners and 6 sailors). The infantry deployed in nine platoons, which from left to right (when facing the Americans), were commanded by Lieutenant Joseph Breitenbach (4th battalion, 60th regiment) Captain Patrick Murray (4/60th), Lieutenant Rowland Hosleton (4/60th), Ensign James Finlay (3rd battalion, 60th regiment), Captain George Bruère (3/60th), Ensign Enoch Plumer (3/60th), Lieutenant John Skinner (16th regiment), Major Colin Graham (16th), Lieutenant William Calderwood (16th). Each platoon contained around 16 men. [6]


1. The number of captured slaves is stated in a letter from Stephen Bull to William Moultrie, dated February 12, 1779. The quoted passage appears in a letter from Lieutenant Benjamin Smith to Moultrie. Moultrie’s correspondence appears in his memoirs (published 1802).

2. Moultrie noted that “Although the fort was blown up, yet it was not so totally demolished but that a great many of the stores were left unhurt, and the guns so lightly spiked, that you might draw out the spikes with a pair of pincers.”

3. Two companies of the Charleston regiment served in this battle: the 2nd company (Charleston Artillery, commanded by Captain Thomas Heyward) and the 3rd company (Charleston Light Infantry, commanded by Captain John Baddeley). Also present were other local militia, although I have not been able to divine their numbers or organization. Of these other men, Moultrie singled out a troop of light horse commanded by Captain John Barnwell. Brigadier-General Stephen Bull commanded the militia, and Lieutenant-Colonel Barnard Beekman commanded the artillery. Moultrie had overall command.

According to Moultrie, the only Continentals in this action were in Captain de Tréville’s detachment, which consisted of de Tréville, 2 junior officers, and 6 enlisted men.

Serving with the Charleston Artillery were two signers of the Declaration of Independence: Captains Thomas Heyward and Edward Rutledge.

Some relevant pension applications (links are to. pdf files):

4. The number of men that fought in the battle may have been considerably less. Moultrie noted, “The Chehaw company was sent back before the action, about 125 men, on a report that the enemy had landed there.”

5. This quote appears in Peter Young’s (1967) The British Army, which describes the battle of Port Royal Island in considerable detail.

6. This order of battle is based on Young and this history of the 60th regiment.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Battle of Port Royal Island (1)

By 1778, the war in the northern theater had effectively reached a stalemate, and the British began to place increasing importance on the recovery of the southern colonies. In December, 1778, British troops under Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Campbell captured Savannah, Georgia. The following January, Brigadier-General Augustine Prévost arrived in Savannah and took command of British forces in the south.

Prévost laid out his plans to George Germain, Secretary of State for America, in a letter dated January 18, 1779:

“...I shall immediately proceed up the river to see what advantages can be expected from the frontier inhabitants of Carolina who give the strongest hopes of joining heartily whenever they find that they are to be supported. Should it appear that they do not mean to take the active part which they have promised, I shall confine my plan of operations to harassing the enemy by excursions and effectually securing this province, to which all the loyal subjects who have fled to Florida for shelter will soon return if they can be assured of being protected. If, on the contrary, the frontier inhabitants should evince the zeal which they profess, I cannot doubt but great advantages may be delivered from a diversion on their side supported by an attack at Beaufort or any of the settlements on the coast of South Carolina…”

In other words, Prévost intended to drive into the Georgian backcountry in order to galvanize American Loyalists, while at the same time launching a diversionary attack on the South Carolina post.

To effect this plan, Prévost made his headquarters at Ebenezer, Georgia, a town 25 miles northwest of Savannah, and roughly opposite Purrysburg, South Carolina, where Major-General Benjamin Lincoln was assembling a large American army.

Strategic Situation in the South (click to enlarge). This map shows places referred to in this blog post that were occupied by British and American forces in January, 1779. The British held Savannah and Ebenezer in Georgia [red dots], while the Americans held Augusta, Georgia, and Purrysburg, Beaufort (on Port Royal Island), and Charleston, South Carolina [blue dots]. Based on a 1776 map in the David Rumsey collection.

On January 24, Prévost sent Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell with a large force [1] to take Augusta, and sent a diversion against the South Carolina coast. In his words:

“In order to facilitate further the success of Colonel Campbell’s operations... I sent three companies of light infantry that came from Florida to go up Beaufort River under the escort of the Vigilant, and to draw the enemy’s spies about us to conceive that more troops were sent by sending a regiment of Hessians to the place of embarkation two miles from Savannah and marching them in the night back to their barracks.”

The three companies of light infantry belonged to the 16th regiment, and the 3rd and 4th battalions of the 60th regiment. This small force, no more than 160 men, was commanded by Major Valentine Gardiner. Nevertheless, their arrival on the South Carolina coast put the Americans in a state of alarm.

Colonel Charles Cotesworth Pinckney described the popular feeling in Charleston, South Carolina, in a letter to Brigadier-General William Moultrie:

“...many people think, this movement of the enemy is to post themselves at Port-Royal, and there wait reinforcements from the northward; others, that it was done only to cause a division and to weaken your little army, that they might more easily pass the river [i.e., so that Prévost could cross the Savannah River and invade South Carolina]; others, that it was to destroy the town and fort, plunder and return to Tybee [an island near Savannah]; but some with more penetrating looks and significant nods; that the vessels appearing in scull creek, as if intended, (Port-Royal was, or is, only a feint,) to cover a real design of landing suddenly on the Euhaws, march to a pass of consequence near Elliott's hill, on the southern road, and there throw up some field works, which with a few cannon will entirely cut off the communication from town to Gen. Lincoln's army, and put him between two fires; this last manoevre, is thought of so much consequence to the public safety, as to raise the public anxiety...”

Lincoln was not deceived, and he remained at Purrysburg with his army. However, Lincoln also did not want to see a key fort on Port-Royal Island fall to the British. He therefore ordered General Moultrie to take control of South Carolina militia on and near Port-Royal Island and defend that threatened post.


1. Campbell described the composition of this force in a March 4, 1779, letter to Lieutenant-General Henry Clinton:

“A proper supply of provisions having been collected at Ebenezer, I marched on the 24th January with Sir James Baird’s light infantry [a light company of the 71st regiment, with, perhaps, a corps of Provincial light infantry attached], the 1st battalion of the 71st regiment, the New York Volunteers, one troop of light dragoons [commanded by Captain Tawes], Colonel [Alexander] Innes’s Carolina Loyalists [i.e., the South Carolina Royalists], and the Florida Rangers, making in all one thousand effectives, rank and file, with 4 field-pieces, one howitzer and two royal mortars.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Siege of Fort Saint-Jean

Fort Saint-Jean in southern Quebec was the place at which the British hoped to turn back the American invasion of Canada. The Americans were not strong enough to take the fort by assault, and so intended to capture the fort by siege. However, the Americans’ initial attempts to approach the fort were easily turned back.

Some events described in previous posts:

Over the next week, the Americans expanded their main camp, and constructed a road leading towards Fort Saint-Jean. At the edge of the woods south of the fort, the Americans constructed two gun emplacements. These guns opened fire at 3pm on September 25th, 1775 (the same day that Ethan Allen met with defeat near Montreal).

On November 1st, the British garrison, worn down by the bombardment, low on rations, and without hope of relief, decided to enter into surrender negotiations. The garrison formally surrendered on November 3rd.

I don’t plan on providing an exhaustive review of the month-and-a-half long siege. Instead, this post is intended to provide a broad overview of the siege. An upcoming post will describe, in detail, the dramatic, final bombardment of the fort on November 1st.

The Americans had four camps in the vicinity of Fort Saint-Jean during the siege. Their approximate location is identified by the following letters on the map below:

A. Main camp, commanded by Brigadier-General Richard Montgomery. In use from September 17 to October 28, 1775. On the 28th, Montgomery relocated all of the forces in the main camp to the lower camp.

B. Lower camp, commanded by Colonel Timothy Bedel (superseded by Brigadier-General David Wooster on October 27, and Montgomery on October 28). In use from September 18 to November 3, 1775.

C. Camp near Hazen’s house, commanded by James Livingston. First occupied by September 22 and probably in use for the remainder of the siege. In mid-October, Livingston and most of his men departed to attack Fort Chambly.

D. East camp, commanded by Colonel James Clinton. In use from around October 11 to November 3, 1775.

The Americans also established four gun emplacements during the siege. For the most part, these pieces were manned by Lamb’s artillery company with support from various infantry detachments. The location of the emplacements is identified by the following numbers on the map below:

1. 2-gun battery of 12-pounders. Intended to fire on the British shipyard and the British vessels. Operational September 25-October 27.

2. Mortar battery, including a 13-in. mortar nicknamed the “old sow”. Intended to shell the fort. Operational September 25-October 27.

3. East battery, consisting of 2 4-pounders (the Canadian artillery) and 2 12-pounders. Intended to fire on the British vessels and the fort. Operational October 11-November 1 (the 4-pounders first opened fire on the 11th, the 12-pounders on the 14th).

4. Northwest battery, consisting of four 12-pounders and 6 mortars. Intended to fire on the fort. Operational November 1.

The Siege of Fort Saint-Jean (click to enlarge). For details on construction, see here. The site of the gun emplacements indicated on the map is fairly exact; however, the map should not be used for guidance as to the shape and size of the emplacements. A number of the roads shown on this map were constructed after the siege began. While the existence of these roads is clearly indicated in primary sources, their exact course is not, and the manner in which I’ve represented these roads is based on interpretation. The British fort consisted of two redoubts connected by a trench and picket fence. The trench and fence were constructed after the siege began and do not appear on earlier maps I've made of the area. Bedel constructed at least one breastwork to defend his camp at Grosse Pointe. His men also felled trees (not shown) at several places across the road leading north from the fort, and they controlled the shore opposite Hazen's estate.

Comments on Research

I do not document here the various sources used to support each of the above statements. However, interested readers are welcome to contact me with specific questions regarding sources and interpretations.

One subject that I've wrestled with in composing this post concerns the location of the Canadians' guns.

Foucher, a Canadian officer serving with the British garrison, recorded in his journal "On the fourth [of October] several Bostonians [actually, they were primarily Livingston's men] were noticed on the south side of the river near Moses Hazen's house. Several cannon shots were fired at them, to which the enemy replied in the same way."

From this statement, I concluded that the Canadians' had built, or were building, a gun emplacement for their 4 pounders by Hazen's house, and I indicated as much in an earlier post.

This view seemed confirmed by an October 6 letter from General Montgomery to Major-General Philip Schuyler, in which Montgomery noted, "Mr. Livingston, some days ago, took post at Mr. Hazen' s house, with near two hundred of the Canadians; they are erecting a battery there, which seems to make the garrison very uneasy." [Emphasis in original]

However, only Foucher's account suggests the Canadians fired their cannon on this occasion; other accounts indicate only that the Canadians responded to British fire with their muskets.

A British officer's journal (thought to have been written by Lieutenant John André), noted in the entry for October 5th that "Some imagin'd they saw men at work opposite the north redoubt on the east side of the River." His account makes it clear that this is a new enemy position: on October 7th, a British row galley is sent out both "towards Hazens House and along the side of the River opposite the N. Redoubt." No account mentions the Canadians' guns in action on this occasion, strongly suggesting that such a battery had not yet been erected. The British officer's journal indicates that a battery across from the north redoubt was completed on October 11th and opened fire on the fort the same day.

On considering these and other sources again, I've concluded that Foucher was probably mistaken in his characterization of the October 4th incident, and that Montgomery's description probably applies to the battery that began to be constructed on October 5th and that the garrison discovered on the 11th.

All of this is a very minor point, of course, but it is illustrative of the difficulty that arises when one attempts to reconcile participant accounts.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Battle of Longue-Pointe

After dark, on September 24, 1775, Ethan Allen, with 80 Canadians and 30 American provincials, crossed the St. Lawrence River in order to attack Montreal. [1] The Americans “…expected all in the Suburbs, some in the Town, & many from the neighbouring Parishes wou'd have joyned them, & that they were to march in [to Montreal] without opposition…” [2] However, Allen’s plans were not widely known and he was too far removed to receive much help from friendly Canadians. Allen claimed that Major John Brown had promised to cross the river, too, but in any event his force failed to appear. [3] Instead, at about 9am on September 25, a local farmer rushed into Montreal and alerted the garrison of the impending threat. [4]

According to the Quebec Gazette, the drums beat the alarm, and “The faithful Citizens of Montreal, both English and French, wanted little persuation; in a moment the whole Town appear’d under arms…” [5] In Carleton’s words, those that turned out were primarily “all the old Gentlemen & better sort of Citizens English & Canadian” but also “some of the lower Classes followed their Example.” Carleton spoke to the assembled mass about the rebel threat, and ordered the citizens to join the British troops at the city barracks. [6]

Carleton did not know how many men he was facing and feared the worse. While ammunition was distributed to the citizens, the British leadership prepared to evacuate the city. The force that was entrusted to do battle with the Americans would be commanded by Major John Campbell, superintendent of Indian affairs in Quebec, and Major John Carden, a half-pay officer who had served with the 60th Foot. Governor Carleton and Brigadier-General Richard Prescott would remain behind with most of the city’s garrison. These stood ready to march to the city’s docks in case Campbell was defeated. Meanwhile, some other prominent officials (including Guy Johnson and Daniel Claus of the Indian Department) and the wives and children of the officers and soldiers embarked on boats in the city harbor. [7]

In the early afternoon, the British force filed out the eastern end of the city. A detachment of the 26th Foot led the advance, and the citizenry followed. Carleton noted sardonically that as the men marched forth, some of the English citizens (many of whom had ties to New England) “turned off the contrary way” while the rest “followed the Troops very gallantly, & hurried them forward without further command & without much Order.” [8]

The British force consisted of:

  • 34 British regulars of the 26th Regiment, commanded by Captain John Crawford. [9]
  • Between 20 and 32 officers and men attached to the Indian Department. [10]
  • 6 or 8 Native Americans. [11]
  • Between 30 and 80 English citizens of Montreal. [12]
  • Between 120 and 300 Canadians citizens of Montreal. [13]

Allen’s men were deployed behind houses and trees near the St. Lawrence. Watching the British column advance, he dispatched one Richard Young with 9 men to protect his left flank and to annoy the right flank of the enemy. These men took post behind a creek embankment between the road and the St. Lawrence. Allen’s men were so well hidden that the British discovered them only when the British regulars came under fire. [14]

According to an account in the Quebec Gazette, Major Carden “was one of the first in the field” “tho’ extremely corpulent” “and unfortunately received a wound of which he expired in 8 hours after.” While Carden lay bleeding, the citizens began to come up. Alexander Paterson, a prominent merchant, had a ball pass through his body “as he boldly advanced towards the rebels.” “Then the general fire began on both sides and continued about fifteen minute.” The regulars delivered “a constant and steady platoon fire” “who were within sixty yards of [the rebels], covered by the gable end of a house.” Allen recalled that the British and Canadians “began to attack from wood-piles, ditches, buildings, and such like places, at a considerable distance, and I returned the fire from a situation more than equally advantageous.” Allen’s men blasted away, but they “were not the best of marksmen,” and he would later lament that “it is rare, that so much ammunition was expended, and so little execution done by it.” Fortunately, the opposing fire was little more effective as they could not see more than 2 or 3 of Allen’s men at a time. [15]

While this firefight erupted in front of Allen’s position, a flank attack was made by Indian department officers, Indians, and Canadian volunteers. Allen ordered Jeremiah Dugan to take 50 of the Canadians and take post in a ditch on his right. However, Dugan’s men quickly fled in the face of overwhelming numbers. At about the same time, Young’s party on Allen’s left flank gave way for the same reason.

The Longue-Pointe Battlefield. For information on the possible site of the battlefield (and the construction of this map), click here.

According to Allen:

“At this time I had but about forty five men with me; some of whom were wounded; the enemy kept closing round me, nor was it in my power to prevent it; by which means, my situation, which was advantageous in the first part of the attack, ceased to be so in the last; and being almost entirely surrounded with such vast, unequal numbers, I ordered a retreat, but found that those of the enemy, who were of the country, and their Indians, could run as fast as my men, though the regulars could not. Thus I retreated near a mile, and some of the enemy, with the savages, kept flanking me, and others crowded hard in the rear. In fine, I expected, in a very short time, to try the world of spirits; for I was apprehensive that no quarter would be given to me, and therefore had determined to sell my life as dear as I could. One of the enemy's officers [one Johnson, an officer in the Indian Department], boldly pressing in the rear, discharged his fusee at me; the ball whistled near me, as did many others that day. I returned the salute, and missed him, as running had put us both out of breath; for I conclude we were not frightened: I then saluted him with my tongue in a harsh manner, and told him that, inasmuch as his numbers were so far superior to mine, I would surrender provided I could be treated with honor, and be assured of good quarter for myself and the men who were with me; and he answered I should; another officer [possibly Walter Butler], coming up directly after, confirmed the treaty; upon which I agreed to surrender with my party… I ordered them to ground their arms, which they did.” [16]

Allen recalled that one of his wounded, William Stewart, was struck by an Indian with a tomahawk after he had surrendered.

An Indian tried to kill Allen as well. Allen grabbed onto Johnson and, he claimed, “I twitched the officer, to whom I gave my sword, between me and the savage; but he flew round with great fury, trying to single me out to shoot me without killing the officer; but by this time I was nearly as nimble as he, keeping the officer in such a position that his danger was my defence; but, in less than half a minute, I was attacked by just such another imp of hell: Then I made the officer fly around with incredible velocity, for a few seconds of time, when I perceived a Canadian, who had lost one eye, as appeared afterwards, taking my part against the savages; and in an instant an Irishman came to my assistance with a fixed bayonet, and drove away the fiends, swearing by Jasus he would kill them.”

Allen was then brought before the British officers, who said they were happy to see him. “I answered them, that I should rather choose to have seen them at General Montgomery's camp.” [17]

The British captured Ethan Allen, 17 other Americans, and 16 Canadians. Ten of the prisoners were wounded (2 mortally, 8 slightly). Allen also lost 5 men killed. The rest escaped. [18]
On the British side, three were mortally wounded (Major Carden, Alexander Patterson, and a soldier in the 26th). One Sieur Beaubassin “had his eyebrow carried away by a glancing shot,” and it was said that one volunteer was shot in the thigh and another lost an eye. [19]

Allen was escorted back to town by a British officer, and Sieur Beaubassin, who was “very merry and facetious” despite his brush with death. The British officers were considerably less amused and Brigadier-General Richard Prescott threatened to bayonet Allen and the other prisoners. Instead, Allen was put in irons on a British vessel, and his men were placed in prison. Carleton ordered Allen to be brought to England for trial as a traitor. [20]

The Battle of Longue-Pointe. This is a crude, and not-to-scale, representation of the battlefield. Allen's men are in the building or behind trees on the left; the British force is on the right. The British force, consisting of regulars, Indian Department officers, Native Americans, and English and Canadian civilians (shown here at a 1:20 figure:combatant ratio), also had the protection of some buildings (not shown).


1. These numbers are from Allen’s memoir. British sources tended to credit him with somewhat more men; American sources with somewhat fewer men.

2. Carleton to Legge. Carleton’s description of the battle, as well as that of some others, can be found in this previous post.

3. Allen’s meeting with Brown was described in an earlier post. It is unclear of what to make of Allen’s statement: Did Brown encounter some unexpected difficulty in crossing the St. Lawrence? Was there a miscommunication between the two men? Did Allen willfully misconstrue events? One thing that is clear is that Allen was not alone in contemplating an attack on Montreal. Consider the following intriguing snippet appearing in a letter from Brigadier-General Richard Montgomery to Colonel Timothy Bedel, written on the day of the battle (but before news of Allen’s attack and defeat were received):

“I have just received yours by Mr. [James] Livingston. I approve exceedingly of your plan, if it can be done without risk of weakening your present post [he was encamped northwest of Fort Saint-Jean; see here], which might facilitate the escape of the garrison. If you go to Montreal, pay the utmost attention to good order.”

4. See Allen’s memoir. Sanguinet gave his name as Deshotel.

5. October 5, 1775, issue.

6. Carleton to Legge.

7. Sanguinet is the sole source on these details, but in light of the telling omissions in the British side of the story, his description of events seems correct. Carleton and Johnson both wrote about the battle afterwards, but neither they, nor other British sources, indicated why a number of senior officers did not participate in the battle. Sanguinet claimed that 80 British regulars remained in the city, while only 30 fought in the battle. His claim is supported by evidence that the British garrison consisted of about 110 rank and file (see here and here). Carleton’s intention was to abandon Montreal if necessary (as evidenced by his actions in November, 1775) and preserve the town of Quebec at all costs. It was believed that if the town of Quebec fell to the Americans, all of upper Canada (including Montreal) would inevitably fall, too.

8. Carleton to Legge

9. Carleton to Legge; “Nauticus”; Anonymous letter of September 28, 1775; Sanguinet

10. “Nauticus”; Johnson to Legge

11. “Nauticus”; Johnson to Legge; Carleton to Legge

12. Sanguinet provided the low estimate; the high estimate was reported by “Nauticus” and the author of the anonymous letter dated September 28, 1775

13. “Nauticus” and the anonymous letter of September 28, 1775 provided the low estimate, Sanguinet the high estimate.

14. Allen’s memoir; “Nauticus”; Anonymous letter of September 28, 1775; Sanguinet

15. Allen’s memoir; “Nauticus”; Anonymous letter of September 28, 1775

16. Allen’s memoir; that a Johnson was the first officer is indicated by Johnson to Legge and “Nauticus”. That Walter Butler was the second officer is suggested by “Nauticus” and this biography of Walter Butler.

17. Allen’s memoir

18. “Nauticus”; Anonymous letter dated September 28, 1775; Livingston to Montgomery; Carleton to Legge; Sanguinet

Allen’s memoir and the account by “Nauticus” imply that the Americans surrendered as one group, and the Canadians were captured either singly, or in one or more groups, elsewhere in the area.

19. “Nauticus”; Anonymous letter dated September 28, 1775; Carleton to Legge; Allen’s memoir

20. See Allen’s memoir for a vivid description of his capture, near killing, and imprisonment.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In Search of a Lost Battlefield

On the night of September 24, 1775, Ethan Allen crossed the St. Lawrence near the city of Montreal with a force consisting of around 80 Canadian volunteers and 30 Americans. Allen hoped that his advance would inspire an uprising among the Canadians, and he would capture Canada’s largest city, and the British governor, in one fell swoop. Instead, Governor Carleton assembled an ad hoc force and put Allen’s force to rout. Rather than speed up the American conquest of Canada, Allen’s foray put that conquest into grave doubt. Hundreds of Canadians who had been sitting on the sidelines were inspired to join the British cause.

The defeat of Allen’s forces has been termed the battle of Longue-Pointe, but there is some uncertainty as to exactly where that battle took place. In this post I discuss where I believe the battle occurred. The battlefield area is shown in the map below. Montreal is at left (southwest) and the modern city of Longue-Pointe is at right (northeast). Both communities are on the Island of Montreal, and on the north shore of the St. Lawrence river.

The map shows several places referred to in this post. A - Where the citizens of Montreal assembled before the battle, B - Ruisseau Migeon (English: Migeon Creek), about 2 1/3 miles from Montreal (in 1775), C - Original site of the “Pierre-Joseph-Picard” house or “Maison Allen," which, according to tradition, is where Ethan Allen was captured, D - Ruisseau des Soeurs (English: Nun's Creek), later called Molson’s Creek, about 3 1/2 miles from Montreal.

Extinct watercourses northeast of Montreal (click to enlarge). [1]

The site of the battle was more-or-less forgotten during the 19th Century. Benson John Lossing went looking for the battlefield in the mid-19th Century. He met in Montreal, “An intelligent gentleman, who was one of the leaders in the rebellion there in 1837, assured me that the spot was unknown to the inhabitants, for tradition has but little interest in keeping its finger upon the locality, and not a man was living who had personal knowledge of the event. It is probable that the northern suburbs of the city now cover the locality, and that the place is not far from the present Longueuil ferry-landing.” [2]

In 1875, the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal arrived at a similar conclusion:

“The locality of Allen’s landing and the battle ground is unknown, but it is probable that the suburbs of the city now covers it, and that the place is not far from the present ferry-landing at Hochelaga, on the road to Longue Pointe.” [3]

Since then, Gustave Lanctôt (1967) asserted that the battle was fought at Ruisseau des Soeurs (see D, on the above map), a creek that fed into the St. Lawrence near what is today the western edge of the city of Longue-Pointe. [4] Lanctôt did not cite a source for this information, which leaves the basis for the attribution unclear (at least to me). However, this stream stood near the “Pierre-Joseph-Picard” house, also known as “Maison Allen” that stood near this creek (see C, on the above map). Allegedly, it was here that Allen was captured. [5] Louise-Amelie Panet-Berczy painted the nearby stream in 1839 and termed it the site of the “Combat de la Grange” of 25 Septembre 1775. [6]

Google street view of “Maison Allen” in Longue-Pointe.

Section of Panet-Berczy's painting of the Longue-Pointe battlefield. Ruisseau des Soeurs (at left) flows towards the St. Lawrence (which can be glimpsed in the background).

However, there are other sources of evidence about the site of the battle, and these provide reason to believe that the Hochelaga location suggested by Lossing and the Montreal Antiquarians (see B, on the above map) may in fact have been the true site of the battle.

The other sources of evidence can be found in 18th Century correspondence and memoirs. These sources indicate:

  • The battle was fought between 2 and 3 miles of Montreal. [7]

The mean distance among the various estimates seems to be a point between Ruisseau Migeon and Ruisseau des Soeurs. The former, however, falls within the range of estimated distances, while the latter does not.

  • The battle was fought “near Colonel Christie' s farm.” [8]

Christie was an unusual name for this area. Finding 18th Century land ownership records for this area would go a long way towards definitely establishing the site of the battle. However, I have not conducted such a search.

  • The battle was fought at “the little river Truteau.” [9]

Some streams in this area were known by more than one name. To the best of my knowledge, none of these streams is known to have been called Ruisseau Truteau. This statement indicates that the battle was fought by a stream, but it does not indicate which one.

  • A prominent ditch was perpendicular to Allen’s position. [10]

Allen indicated that his force was arrayed behind trees and buildings. When the British started to turn his right flank, Allen dispatched nearly half his force to a ditch that protected that flank. Ruisseau Migeon makes a 90-degree bend and then flows in an almost straight line parallel to St. Lawrence. It is impossible to say what conditions were like on the ground in 1775, but plausibly this stretch of stream was both ditch-like in appearance and suitable for the defense. Small streams on the island are known to have sometimes run dry [11], and September, 1775, appears to have been a time when some small streams ran dry. [12]

1869 map showing part of Ruisseau Migeon and the St. Lawrence River. [13]

  • Allen ran 1 mile away from the battlefield before he was captured. [14]

The “Maison Allen” (see C on the map above), which is associated with Allen’s capture was 1 mile from Ruisseau Migeon, and in the direction Allen was likely to have fled.

Other considerations:

Ruisseau Migeon is located at about the spot Allen likely landed when crossing the St. Lawrence from Longueuil. Thus, Allen, who in some respects was unfamiliar with the area, should at least have known about this stream. Allen allegedly advanced towards the Quebec suburb of Montreal in the hopes of sparking a mass uprising, but then fell back. [15] Ruisseau Migeon would have been the first good defensive site he would have come across and it (presumably) had the advantage of being near where his boats were moored.


There are strong indications that Ruisseau Migeon was the site of Ethan Allen’s defeat on September 25, 1775. A definite attribution cannot be made, however, without land ownership records and/or better information about the other names for “river Truteau.”

The Site Today:

Combining 19th Century maps of Ruisseau Migeon with the details in Allen’s memoir suggests that the British and American forces might have been arrayed during the battle of Longue-Pointe as follows.

Street maps of Montreal dating from the late 19th Century to the early 20th Century show the course of Ruisseau Migeon before it was obliterated by urban development. Using the Google Maps Street View feature, one can take a virtual tour of the area today. See images below.

1897 (left) and 1907 (right) maps showing Ruisseau Migeon.

Google Maps’ street view that may show a part of the battlefield (click to enlarge). The British advanced from Montreal (note skyscrapers in distance) along a road that has since become the busy highway pictured. The St. Lawrence is behind the buildings at left. Ruisseau Migeon flowed from right to left and crossed the road at a point roughly between the two approaching cars closest to the viewer. If this was the site of the battle, then Young’s 10-man detachment was perhaps arrayed in the parking lot shown at left (in 1775 this was behind the creek). Allen’s force would have been arrayed behind trees and buildings that stood to the right (including beyond the right margin of this image). Young’s force was defeated with little difficulty; Allen was forced to flee after his right flank was turned (this area is not shown).


1. Map source can be found here, from the remarkable site Under Montreal. A blog devoted to the extinct streams that once ran through Montreal can be found here.

2. Benson John Lossing (1851). The pictoral field-book of the Revolution...

3. Book link.

4. Gustave Lanctôt (1967). Canada & the American Revolution, 1774-1783.

5. See this March 16, 2008 article in the Montreal Gazette.

6. See this 2008 issue of the Bulletin de l'Altier d'histoire de la Longue-Pointe.

7. A number of primary sources appeared in a previous post. Estimates were: 1 league or less (a league was about 2.5 miles; Livingston to Montgomery), about 1 league (Sanguinet memoir), within 3 miles or less (Quebec Gazette, September 28, 1775; Johnson to Legge), about 3 miles (Carleton to Legge).

8. See this letter dated October 1, 1775.

9. Letters to Quebec Gazette of September 28 and October 19, 1775.

10. From Ethan Allen’s memoir.

11. A point of discussion on the website Under Montreal.

12. See this letter from James Livingston to Philip Schuyler, written in September, 1775.

13. For links to 18th, 19th, and 20th Century maps of Montreal, see here.

14. From Ethan Allen’s memoir.

15. From Simon Sanguinet's memoir.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Descriptions of the Battle of Longue-Pointe

On September 25, 1775, Colonel Ethan Allen made a mad dash at the city of Montréal that ended in disaster. Allen’s defeat is one of the more obscure episodes of the American Revolution, but it has captured the imagination of a number of Revolutionary War enthusiasts. Below is a portion of H. Charles McBarron’s painting of Allen’s defeat. Grizzled American woodsmen try to hold off a torrent of redcoats any way they can. Allen (at left), has a look of preternatural calm on his face, as he prepares to swing his musket down on some poor soldier’s head. In the background looms Montréal – the great unattainable prize.

Part of McBarron painting of Allen's defeat at Longue-Pointe (click to enlarge).

While McBarron’s painterly talents are praiseworthy (it is his painting of Washington at Monmouth that currently serves as my website banner), this is far from an accurate rendering of Allen’s defeat. Below are excerpts from a number of accounts of the battle. Among other things, they place Allen’s defeat further from the city, they indicate that most of the combatants were Canadians (not redcoats or woodsmen), and they indicate that the fighting, while desperate, did not become a melee.

It is largely on the basis of the following accounts that I will provide a relatively accurate description of Allen’s defeat (what is frequently referred to as the Battle of Longue-Pointe) in an upcoming post.

Letter from James Livingston to Richard Montgomery, dated September 27, 1775:

“Colonel Allen crossed over from Longeuil the day before yesterday, to attack the Town, with a party of his men and Canadians. General Prescott, hearing of his coming, engaged a number of people from the suburbs, at a half joe per man, to go out against Allen. They met near a league from town, when a smart engagement ensued, which lasted upwards of two hours. They had two field-pieces, and our party, after a long engagement, were obliged to retire, though the enemy, by all accounts, came off second best. I have sent off Mr. O' Hara, express, to Longeuil, to learn the true state of this battle. The Canadians that have returned to me, from the battle, agree, in general, that Mr. Allen is either dead or taken prisoner. This, if true, is a blow upon us. To-morrow we propose to have a consultation at Longeuil. Our greatest misfortune is the want of ammunition. Mr. Allen should never have attempted to attack the Town without my knowledge, or acquainting me of his design, as I had it in my power to furnish him with a number of men…”

Anonymous letter dated September 28, 1775, and subsequently published in the Quebec Gazette:

“On the 25th in the morning we were informed that Ethan Allen, with a party of Rebels and a number of Canadians were landed on this side of Long-Point, with an intention to march up and attack the town. We lost no time, but sent out to meet them 34 soldiers, 80 English volunteers, and 120 Canadian townsmen. We met them within three miles or less of the town, where they had taken shelter behind a barn, trees, and a natural breast-work which the banks of the little river Truteau afforded them. Our advanced party fired at two or three whom they saw: we never saw above that number at a time untill they took to their heels, which they did in a short while after our general fire began. A party of ours pursu'd them and took Ethan Allen their commander, 17 Yankeys, and 16 Canadians, prisoners. We march'd back to town destroying every boat and canoe we could find. I know not how many there was of the enemy; I think I saw about 100, most of them scamper'd towards the Wood. We killed five of them and wounded ten. On our side we lost Major CARDEN, had one soldier killed and one man shot through the thigh; Mr. Beaubassin was slightly wounded, and Mr. Alexander Paterson shot through the body as he boldly advanced towards the Rebels; his Spirit and activity can never be enough commended; we hope our brave friend will soon recover. This party was to have had thirty coppers a day, and the town of Montreal for plunder, but if they get it, they'll pay dear for it.”

Guy Johnson to William Legge, letter dated October 12, 1775:

“Allen their most daring Partizan advanced with a body of about 140 Rebels very near Montreal which was thrown into the utmost confusion, a body consisting of some Regulars, Volunteers and 32 officers and men of my Department with a few Indians marched to oppose them on the 25th of Sept. and engaged them within less than three miles of the Gates where the Rebels were defeated and Col. Allen being vigorously pressed by those of my Corps surrendered to Mr. Johnson one of my Officers.”

Account by “Nauticus,” published in the Quebec Gazette and dated October 19, 1775:

“On Monday the 25th of September, from day light till 9 o'Clock, were discovered several canoes passing and repassing, 'twixt Longueuil and the Island of Montreal; and on enquiry were found to be a party of Yankey Rebels, and Canadians, (who had join'd them from Chambly River) commanded by Ethan Allen, with intention (as they themselves confest afterwards) to invest and plunder the city of Montreal; which greatly alarmed the inhabitants, and occasioned the drum beating to arms. Immediately the Citizens in general both French and English, by His Excellency the Governor's direction assembled on the parade, and from thence part of them marched to the barracks, and after a short parley about eighty of the English Citizens and one hundred and twenty French, joined Major Campbell and Captain Crawford, with Ensign Campbell and a detachment of about thirty men of the 26th Regiment twenty of Colonel Guy Johnson's Indian department, with 6 or 8 Savages. The Troops Led the van, and the Citizens eagerly followed, and marched down the road to Long-point, destroying every canoe and water carriage as they went along for fear the Vilains, should escape, soon after an advanced party about ten in number fell in with the enemy, and found them lodged in houses, barns, behind trees, and in a natural breast-work formed by the banks of the little river Truteau, where they sustained a heavy fire for a few minutes before the main-body got up. Then the general fire began on both sides and continued about fifteen minutes, when the Rebels gall'd by a constant and steady platoon fire from the Regulars (who were within sixty yards of them, covered by the gable end of a house) and finding they were surrounded by a flanking party of our Volunteers, some of them gained way and the rest followed, and Allen, with thirty-five prisoners were taken. The loss of our side was Major CARDEN, a brave Officer, who tho' extremely corpulent was one of the first in the field, and unfortunately received a wound of which he expired in 8 hours after, one volunteer shot; a soldier of the 26th Regiment since dead of his wounds. Mr. Alexander Paterson shot thro' the body as he boldly advanced towards the Rebels, this GENTLEMAN'S conduct and courage is worthy of imitation he is now in a fair way of recovery. The Rebels had five killed on the field and ten wounded, two of which are since dead. In this party there were about one hundred and fifty who came to a general Skirmish. Several of the Citizens both French and English distinguished themselves on this occasion; but we cannot help recommending the behaviour of Mr. Johnson and Mr. Butler of the Indian department, who with about six or seven volunteers and one savage were the first up with ALLEN'S party, who being about sixteen in number, threw down their Arms and surrendered, when Allen immediately delivered his sword to Mr. Johnson.”

Guy Carleton to William Legge, letter dated October 25, 1775:

“The next morning it was rumoured the rebels had crossed the river in the night and were posted about three miles below the town. This was soon confirmed, the drums beat the alarm, all the old gentlemen and better sort of citizens, English and Canadian, turned out under arms; some of the lower classes followed their example; they were ordered to join the troops at the barracks and from thence to the further end of the Quebec suburbs. Captain Crauford with thirty soldiers marched first; a few, mostly colonists, then stepped forward and turned off the contrary way; the rest, with some officers who have retired or are on the staff and a few Indians, followed the troops very gallantly and hurried them forward without further command and without much order. They soon came up to the rebels’ post and in a little time put them to the rout. These were about one hundred and fifty in number, two-thirds Canadians: they say they expected all in the suburbs, some in the town, and many from the neighboring parishes, would have joined them and that they were to march in without opposition. Ethan Allen, their chief, and about thirty-five men were taken prisoners, five of these wounded. Major Carden, who was our senior officer in the action and very capable of conducting an affair of this sort, was mortally wounded; Mr. A. Patterson, an English merchant, received a bad wound but is likely to recover; three or four soldiers and discharged soldiers killed or wounded. This for a time gave a favourable turn to the minds of the people; some of the parishes now began to send in their quotas from the militia.”

Selection from Ethan Allen’s memoir:

“The town of Montreal was in a great tumult. General Carleton and the royal party, made every preparation to go on board their vessels of force, as I was afterwards informed, but the spy escaped from my guard to the town, occasioned an alteration in their policy, and emboldened Gen Carleton to send the force which he had there collected, out against me. I had previously chosen my ground, but when I saw the number of the enemy as they sallied out of the town, I perceived it would be a day of trouble, if not of rebuke; but I had no chance to flee, as Montreal was situated on an island, and the St Lawrance cut off my communication to General Montgomery's camp. I encouraged my soldiery to bravely defend themselves, that we should soon have help, and that we should be able to keep the ground, if no more. This, and much more, I affirmed with the greatest seeming assurance, and which in reality I thought to be in some degree probable.

“The enemy consisted of not more than forty regular troops, together with a mixed multitude, chiefly Canadians, with a number of English who lived in town, and some Indians; in all to the number of near five hundred.

“The reader will notice that most of my party were Canadians; indeed it was a motley parcel of soldiery which composed both parties. However, the enemy began to attack from wood-piles, ditches, buildings, and such like places, at a considerable distance and I returned the fire from a situation more than equally advantageous. The attack began between two and three o clock in the afternoon, just before which I ordered a volunteer by the name of Richard Young, with a detachment of nine men as a flank guard, which, under the cover of the bank of the river, could not only annoy the enemy, but at the same time, serve as a flank guard to the left of the main body.

“The fire continued for sometime on both sides; and I was confident that such a remote method of attack could not carry the ground provided it should be continued till night: but near half the body of the enemy began to flank round to my right; upon which I ordered a volunteer, by the name of John Dugan, who had lived many years in Canada, and understood the French language, to detach about fifty of the Canadians, and post himself at an advantageous ditch, which was on my right, to prevent my being surrounded. He advanced with the detachment, but instead of occupying the post, made his escape, as did likewise Mr Young upon the left, with their detachments. I soon perceived that the enemy was in possession of the ground, which Dugan should have occupied. At this time I had but about forty five men with me; some of whom were wounded; the enemy kept closing round me, nor was it in my power to prevent it; by which means, my situation, which was advantageous in the first part of the attack, ceased to be so in the last; and being almost entirely surrounded with such vast, unequal numbers, I ordered a retreat, but found that those of the enemy, who were of the country, and their Indians, could run as fast as my men, though the regulars could not. Thus I retreated near a mile, and some of the enemy, with the savages, kept flanking me, and others crowded hard in the rear. In fine, I expected, in a very short time to try the world of spirits; for I was apprehensive that no quarter would be given to me, and therefore had determined to sell my life as dear as I could. One of the enemy's officers, boldly pressing in the rear, discharged his fusee at me; the ball whistled near me, as did many others that day. I returned the salute, and missed him, as running had put us both out of breath; for I conclude we were not frightened: I then saluted him with my tongue in a harsh manner, and told him that, inasmuch as his numbers, were so far superior to mine, I would surrender provided I could be treated with honor, and be assured of good quarter for myself and the men who were with me; and he answered I should; another officer, coming up directly after, confirmed the treaty; upon which I agreed to surrender with my party, which then consisted of thirty one effective men, and seven wounded. I ordered them to ground their arms, which they did.


“The action continued an hour and three quarters by the watch, and I know not to this day how many of my men were killed, though I am certain there were but few. If I remember right, 7 were wounded; one of them, Wm. Stewart, by name, was wounded by a savage with a tomahawk, after he was taken prisoner and disarmed, but was rescued by some of the generous enemy; and so far recovered of his wounds, that he afterwards went with the other prisoners to England.

“Of the enemy, were killed a major Carden, who had been wounded in eleven different battles, and an eminent merchant, Patterson, of Montreal, and some others, but I never knew their whole loss, as their accounts were different. I am apprehensive that it is rare, that so much ammunition was expended, and so little execution done by it; though such of my party as stood the ground, behaved with great fortitude, much exceeding that of the enemy, but were not the best of marksmen, and I am apprehensive, were all killed or taken...”

Selection from the memoir of Simon Sanguinet, resident of Montréal:

“Nous étions dans cette situation au 24 Septembre 1775, quand Allein—un chef des Bastonnois — avec environ cent cinquante hommes du camp de la Pointe-Olivier—traversèrent de Longueuil au Courant Ste. Marie près Montréal à dix heures du soir—Il se logea chez plusieurs habitants, — Dans la nuit Allein, Loizeau et Dugand, vinrent dans plusieurs maisons du faubourg de Québec —particulièrement chez Jacques Roussain qui étoit passage de la ville à Longueuil—qui leur prêta des canots pour leur aider à traverser une partie des Bastonnois qui étoient encore au fort de Longueuil,—Il fut même les voir à Ste. Marie avec sept ou huit autres. Le Général Guy Carleton—ainsy que les citoyens de la ville—ignoroit queles Bastonnois fussent si près de la ville, jusqu'au vingt-cinq, à neuf heures du matin, qu’un nommé Deshotel, qui alloit à sa terre à la distance d’une lieue plus bas que Montréal, qui vit les Bastonnois dans plusieurs maisons, alors il revint aussitôt par les champs pour averter la ville, Dans l’instant l’on ferma les portes et l’on fit batter la générale—Aussitôt les citoyens canadiens at anglois de la ville se rendirent dans le Champ-de-Mars avec leurs armes, et de là à cour des casernes pour prendre des balles at de la poudre pour aller repousser l’ennemi. Cette demarche se fit d’eux mêmes—sans avoir reçu d’ordre, ny meme de permission du Général,—Pendant ce temps l’on vit plusieurs personnes—et surtout le Colonel Jamson, Surintendant des Sauvages, Clause et toutes les femmes et enfants des officiers qui—avec leur baggage—s’embarquèrent dans les navires qui étoient mouillés devant la ville.

“Les citoyens sortirent de Montréal au nombre d’environ trois cents canadiens et trente marchands anglois. Le reste des marchands anglois ne voulurent point y aller. C’est là où on reconnut le plus ouvertement les traìtres,—Il sortit aussitôt de la ville environ trente hommes de troupes. Les Bastonnois se replièrent dans une maison et une grange, et commencèrent à tirer. Le feu fut vif de part et d’autre. Des Canadiens cernèrent les Bastonnois du côté du bois, et leur coupèrent chemin,—Il fut fait prisonniers dans cette action environ trente-six bastionnois avec Allein qui étoit leur chef—Il y en eut plusieurs de blessés et tués et le reste prit la fuite—Nous eûmes le Major Carden—qui fut blessé—et le Sr Alexandre Paterson, marchand de distinction qui sont morts de leurs blessures—un soldat et un ouvrier tués et un manchonnier blessé,—Pendant le combat, le Général Guy Carleton et le Brigadier Prescot restèrent dans la cour des casernes avec environ quatre-vingt et quelques soldats, lesquels avoient leurs havresacs sur le dos et leur armes—prêts à s’embarquer dans le navires—si les citoyens de la ville etoient repoussés,—mais tout le contraire heureusement arriva—car ils revinrent victorieux avec leurs prisonniers que l’on mit à bord des navires,—Sitôt leur retour, les citoyens proposèrent au Général que s’il vouloit, il partiroit quatre-vingts ou cent citoyens à cheval et en calèche pour poursuivre les fuyards bastonnois, mais il les refusa. Cependant il étoit facile de tous les prendre, car une partie s’étoit sauvée à la coste St. Léonard et dans les bois,—Ils n’étoit question que d'aller s'emparer des canots qui étoient le long de la Longue-Pointe et de la Pointe-aux-Trembles, par ce moyen ils n'auroient pas pu traverser du côté du sud, ce qu'ils firent pendant la nuit suivante, mais non pas sans crainte.”