Canada Dr Isaac Senter Describes the March
Tuesday, October 24th, . Approaching necessity now obliged us to double our diligence. Three miles only had we proceeded ere we came to a troublesome water-fall in the river, distant half a mile. Not more than the last mentioned distance before we were brought up by another, distance the same. As the number of falls increased, the water became consequently more rapid. The heights of land upon each side of the river, which had hitherto been inconsiderable, now became prodigiously mountainous, closing as it were up the river with an aspect of an immense height. The river was now become very narrow, and such a horrid current as rendered it impossible to proceed in any other method than by hauling the batteaux up by the bushes, painters, etc.
Here we met several boats returning loaded with invalids, and lamentable stories of the inacesibleness of the river, and the impracticability of any further progress into the country; among which was Mr. Jackson . . ., complaining of the gout most severely, joined to all the terrors of approaching famine. I was now exhorted in the most pathetic terms to return, on pain of famishing upon contrary conduct, and the army were all returning except a few who were many miles forward with Col. Arnold. However his elocution did not prevail; I therefore bid him adieu and proceeded.
Not far had I proceeded before I discovered several wrecks of batteaux belonging to the front division of riflemen, etc., with an increased velocity of the water. A direful howling wilderness, not describable. With much labour and difficulty I arrived with the principal part of my baggage (leaving the batteaux made fast) to the encampment. Two miles from thence I met the informants last mentioned, where were Col. Greene's division, etc, waiting for the remainder of the army to come up, that they might get some provisions, ere they advanced any further. Upon enquiry I found them al most destitute of any eatable whatever, except a few candles, which were used for supper, and breakfast the next morning, by boiling them in water gruel, etc.
Wednesday, ,5. Every prospect of distress now came thundering on with a twofold rapidity. A storm of snow had covered the ground of nigh six inches deep, attended with very severe weather. We now waited in anxious expectation for Col. Enos' division to come up, in order that we might have a recruit of provisions ere we could start off the ground. An express was ordered both up and down the river, the one up the river in quest of Gl Arnold, that he might be informed of the state of the army, many of whom were now entirely destitute of any sustenance. The colonel had left previous orders for the two divisions, viz.: Greene's and Enos', to come to an adjust ment of the provisions, send back any who were indisposed, either in body or mind, and pursue him with the others immediately. The other express went down the river to desire Col. Enos and officers to attend in consultation. They accordingly came up before noon, when a council of war was ordered. Here sat a number of grimacers—melancholy aspects who had been preaching to their men the doctrine of impenetrability and non-perseverance. Col. Enos in the chair. The matter was debated upon the expediency of proceeding on for Quebec. The party against going urging the impossibility, averring the whole provisions, when averaged, would not support the army five days.
The arrangements of men and provisions being made at Fort Western, in such a manner as to proceed with the greater expedition. For this end it was thought necessary that Capt. Morgan's company with a few pioneers should advance in the first division, Col. Greene's in the second, and Enos, with Capt. Colbourn's company of artificers, to bring up the rear. The advantage of the arrangement was very conspicuous, as the rear division would not only have the roads cut, rivers cleared passible for boats, etc., but stages of encampments formed and the bough huts remaining for the rear. The men being thus arranged, the provisions were distributed according to the supposed difficulty or facility attending the different dispositions. Many of the first companies took only two or three barrels of flour with several of bread, most in a small proportion, while the companies in the last division had not less than fourteen of flour and ten of bread. The bread, as mentioned before, was condemned in consequence of the leaky casks, therefore the proportion of bread being much greater in the first division, their loss was consequently the greater.
These hints being premised, I now proceed to the determination of the council of war. After debating upon the state of the army with respect to provisions, there was found very little in the division then encamped at the falls (which I shall name Hydrophobus). The other companies not being come up, either through fear that they should be obliged to come to a divider, or to show their disapprobation of proceeding any further. The question being put whether all to return, or only part, the majority were for part only returning....
According to Col. Arnold's recommendation the invalids were allowed to return, as also the timorous. One batteau only for each company to proceed, in order to carry the military stores, medicines, etc, . . . The officers who were for going forward requested the division of the provisions, and that it was necessary they should have the far greater quantity in proportion to the number of men, as the supposed distance that they had to go ere they arrived into the inhabitants was greater than what they had come, after having the Quebec inhabitants. To this the returning party (being predetermined) would not consent.... To compel them to a just division we were not in a situation, as being the weakest party. Expostulations and entreaties had hitherto been fruitless. Col. Enos, who more immediately commanded the division of returners, was called upon to give positive orders for a small quantity, if no more. He replied that his men were out of his power, and that they had determined to keep their possessed quantity whether they went back or forward. They finally concluded to spare 1/2 barrels of flour, if determined to pursue our destination....
Thus circumstanced, we were left the alternative of accepting their small pittance, and proceed or return. The former was adopted, with a determined resolution to go through or die. Received it, put it on board of our boats, quit the few tents we were in possession of, with all other camp equipage, took each man to his duds on his back, bid them adieu, and away—passed the river, passed over falls and encamped.
Thursday, 26th. We were now within 154 computed miles of the Canadian inhabitants; every man made the best of his way to the Chaudiere pond, the place of rendezvous for all the forward party except Col. Arnold. Passed three carrying places on the river. Passed over several rocky mountains and monstrous precipices, to appearance inaccessible; fired with more than Hannibalian enthusiasm, American Alps nor Pyrenees were obstacles. Passed a pond which the river ran through, lodged on a promontory of another. Only Jack Wright was in company. Came to us in the night Maj. Ogden, volunteer, who being lost spied our fire, and came on shore in his boat in which were military stores, etc.
Friday, 27th. Our bill of fare for last night and this morning consisted of the jawbone of a swine destitute of any covering. This we boiled in a quantity of water, that with a little thickening constituted our sumptuous eating. For covering, the atmosphere only, except a blanket....
Saturday, 28th. A letter per express from General Arnold, at 4 o'clock, P. M., requesting as speedy a procedure as possible. That one of his expresses (Jackquith) had returned from the Canadian inhabitants, informing of their amicable disposition towards us, that he had received their pledge of friendship in a loaf of bread, etc. By this time our men were all arrived, embodied, and the glad tidings promulgated among them, to the unspeakable joy of the whole camp. In consequence of this news we were ordered to be in motion immediately. The provisions were ordered into one fund, in order that every man might be acquainted with what he had to depend upon to carry him into the inhabitants, computed at about a hundred miles. Upon a division of the provisions there [were] five pints per man. Pork, though the only mean was not properly divisible, as the whole amount would not have been an ounce per man. The officers in general were generous enough to dispense with [it] for the better satisfaction and encouragement of the soldiers. Decamped this evening and marched a mile and a half.
Sunday, 29th. Not less than 14 days had our detachment been upon half allowance ere yesterday's division took place. That several of the men devoured the whole of their flour the last evening, determined (as they e~ pressed it) to have a full meal, letting the morrow look out for itself. The ground being overflowed with water before the little stream emptied into the Chaudiere, it was thought best by the majority to go to the southeast of the stream upon the higher land and so pass round the lake; however, there were three or four companies proceeded down the stream as far as they could, then leaving it to the southward, and taking the north-westerly shore round the lake. While Col. Greene and most of his officers including myself
took our course N. E. and by E. for the Chaudiere. Deluded by a pretended pilot, we found our error ere night closed upon us.
From the first appearance of daylight this morn we picked up our small affairs and beat a march. Not long had we marched this course before we came into a spruce and cedar swamp and arrived at a small pond at 1 l o'clock, through thc most execrable bogwire, impenetrable Pluxus of shrubs, imaginable. This pond we pursued till coming to an outlet rivulet, [which] we followed to a lake much larger than the first, and notwithstanding the most confident assertions of our pilot, we pursued this pond the most of the day, but no Chaudiere.... This day's march was computed at eighteen miles. Capt. Morgan's company, with seven batteaux, followed the 7 mile stream, with a purpose of passing the south lake, which they effected. These old woodsmen had resolutely persevered in carrying that number of boats over the mountains, with an intent to still preserve a certain quantity of the military stores, which by no other means could be conveyed any further than the Chaudiere.
Monday, 30th.... This was the third day we had been in search of the Chaudiere, who were only seven computed miles distant the 28th inst. Nor were we possessed of any certainty that our course would bring us either to the lake or river, not knowing the point it lay from where we started. However we came to a resolution to continue it. In this state of uncertainty we wandered through hideous swamps and mountainous precipices, with the conjoint addition of cold1 wet and hunger, not to mention our fatigue—with the terrible apprehension of famishing in this desert. The pretended pilot was not less frightened than many of the rest; added to that the severe execrations he received, from the front of the army to the rear, made his office not a little disagreeable.
Several of the men towards evening were ready to give up any thoughts of ever arriving at the desired haven. Hunger and fatigue had so much the ascendancy over many of the poor fellows, added to their despair of arrival, that some of them were left in the river, nor were heard of afterwards. In turn with Col. Greene, I carried the compass the greater part of this day. In this condition we proceeded with as little knowledge of where we were or where we should get to, as if we had been in the unknown interior of Africa, or the deserts of Arabia.
Just as the sun was departing, we brought a pond or lake, which finally ,proved to be Chaudiere, and soon the small footpath made by the other division of the army, whose choice turned to their account. Our arrival here was succeeded with three huzzas, and then came to our encampment.
Tuesday, 31. The appearance of daylight roused us as usual, and we had advanced with all possible speed till about 1 o'clock, ere we saw the Chaudicre River, which we last night imagined within a mile. Animated afresh with the sight of a stream, which we very well knew would conduct us into the inhabitants if our strength continued, we proceeded with renewed vigor.
The emptying of the Chaudiere is beautiful, and formed a very agreeable ascent, though the stream is somewhat rapid. The land was now much descending, yet very difficult traveling. The spruce, cedar and hemlock were
the chief growth of the earth, and these were in tolerable plenty, almost impenetrably so in many places.
We now began to discover the wrecked batteaux of those who conducted the ammunition, etc. These were seven in number, who followed the seven mile stream into the Chaudiere lake, river, etc., and soon came to an encampment, where I found Capt. Morgan and most of the boatmen who were wrecked upon a fall in the river, losing every thing except their lives, which they all saved by swimming, except one of Morgan's riflemen. This was the first man drowned in all the dangers we were exposed to, and the third [lost] by casualties, except some lost in the wilderness, the number unknown. At this encampment was Lieut. McCleland, of Morgan's company, almost expiring with a violent pneumonia. Necessaries were distributed as much as possible, with two lads of the company in charge of him. Nor was this poor fellow the only one left sick upon this river. Life depending upon a vigorous push for the inhabitants, and that did not admit of any stay for any person; nor could the two lads have been prevailed upon had not provisions been dealt out sufficient to conduct them to the inhabitants, with the promising to send them reliefas soon as possible from the settlements.
In this general wreck my medicine box suffered the fate of the rest, with a set of capital instruments, etc. Though little was to be feared from either my surgical apparatus or physical portions, I had, however, a few necessaries in that way in my knapsack, etc., with a lances in my pocket, which enabled me at least to comply with the Sangradoine method.
Continued our march about five miles further.
Wednesday, Nov.1~st. Our greatest luxuries now consisted in a little water, stiffened with flour, in imitation of shoemakers' paste, which was christened with the name of Lillipu. Instead of the diarrhea, which tried our men most shockingly in the former part of our march, the reverse was now the complaint, which continued for many days. We had now arrived, as we thought, to almost the zenith of distress. Several had been entirely destitute of either meat or bread for many days. These chiefly consisted of those who devoured their provision immediately, and a number who were in the boats The voracious disposition many of us had now arrived at rendered almost any thing admissible. Clean and unclean were forms now little in use. ln company was a poor dog [who had] hitherto lived through all the tribulations, became a prey for the sustenance of the assassinators. This poor animal was instantly devoured, without leaving any vestige of the sacrifice. Nor did the shaving soap, pomatum, and even the lip salve, leather of their shoes, cartridge boxes, etc., share any better fate. Passed several poor fellows, truly commiserating [them].
Thursday, 2d. Long ere this necessity had obliged us to dismiss all our encamping equipage, excepting a small light tin kettle among a number; but nothing to cut our wood, with. According to our strength and spirits, we were scattered up and down the river at the distance of perhaps twenty miles. Not more than eight miles had we marched when a vision of horned cattle, four-footed beasts, etc., rode and drove by animals resembling Plato's two-footed featherless ones. Upon a nigher approach our vision proved real! Exclamations of joy, echoes of gladness resounded from front to rear with a [Te Deum]. Three horned cattle, two horses, eighteen Canadians and one American. A heifer was chosen as victim to our wants, slain and divided accordingly. Each man was restricted to one pound 'of beef. Soon arrived two more Canadians in birch] canoes, ladened with a coarse kind of meal, mutton, tobacco, etc. Each man drew likewise a pint of this provender. The mutton was destined for the sick. They proceeded up the river in order to the rear's partaking of the same benediction. We sat down, eat our rations, blessed our stars, and thought it luxury. Upon a general computation we marched from zo to 30 miles per day. Twenty miles only from this to the settlements. Lodged at the great falls this night.