Canada Journal of Abner Stocking, a private in Arnold's Army
Sept. '3. 1775. All things being in readiness for our departure, we set out from Cambridge, near Boston, on the 13th Sept. at sunset, and encamped at Mistick at eight o'clock at night. We were all in high spirits, intending to endure with fortitude all the fatigues and hardships that we might meet with on our march to Quebec.
September 14th. This morning we began our march at 5 o'clock and at I sunset encamped at Danvers, a place twenty miles distant from Mistic.
The weather through the day was very sultry and hot for the season of thee year. The country through which we passed appeared barren and but I thinly inhabited.
September 15th. This morning we marched very early, and encamped at night within five miles of Newbury Port. The inhabitants who visited us in our encampment expressed many good wishes for our success in our intended enterpise.
September `6th. Zealous in the cause, and not knowing the hardships and distresses we were to encounter, we as usual began our march very early. At
eight o'clock we arrived at Newbury Port where we were to tarry several days and make preparations for our voyage. We were here to go on board vessels which we found lying ready to receive us and carry us to the mouth of the Kennebeck. The mouth of the Kennebeck River is about thirty leagues to the eastward of Newbury Port.
September 17th. We are still in Newbury Port and are ordered to appeat at a general review.
We passed the review with much honor to ourselves. We manifested great zeal and animation in the cause of liberty and went through the manual exercise with much alacrity.
The spectators, who were very numerous, appeared much affected. They probably thought we had many hardships to encounter and many of us should never return to our parents and families.
September 18th. We this day embarked at six o'clock in the afternoon. Our fleet consisted of eleven sail, sloops and schooners. Our whole number of troops was 1100—11 companies of musketmen and three companies of riflemen. We hauled off into the road and got ready to weigh anchor in the morning if the wind should be favorable.
September 19th. This morning we got under way with a pleasant breeze, our drums beating, fifes playing and colors flying.
Many pretty girls stood upon the shore, I suppose weeping for the departure of their sweethearts.
At eleven o'clock this day we left the entrance of the harbor and bore away for Kennebeck River. In the latter part of the night, there came on a thick fog and our fleet was separated. At break of day we found ourselves in a most dangerous situation, very near a reef of rocks. The rocks indeed appeared on all sides of us, so that we feared we should have been dashed to pieces on some of them. We were brought into this deplorable situation by means of liquor being dealt out too freely to our pilots. Their intemperance much endangered their own lives and the lives of all the officers and soldiers on board; but through the blessing of God we all arrived safe in Kennebeck River.
September 2o. This day was very pleasant, and with a gentle breeze we sailed and rowed 3o miles up the Kennebeck River. By the evening tide we floated within six miles of Fort Western, where we were obliged to leave our sloops and take to our bateaux.
September 21. This day we arrived at Fort Western, where we tarried until the 25th in order to make farther preparation for our voyage up the river, and our march through the wilderness....
September 25th. Early this morning, we embarked on board our batteaus and proceeded on our way. We labored hard through the day and found ourselves at night but about 7 miles from the place of our departure. The current began to be swift. We encamped at night by the edge of a cornfield and fared very sumptuously.
September 26th. This day we started very early and made our encampment at evening 4 miles below Fort Halifax. We began to experience great difficulty from the increasing rapidity of the current, and the water becoming shoal.
Septeniber 27th. This day we carried our batteaus and baggage round Ticonnick Falls. The land carriage was only about 40 rods. After launching in again and getting our provisions and baggage on board, we pushed against' the stream on the way about three miles.
September 28th. This day we proceeded 8 miles but with great difficulty. The stream was in some places very rapid and shoal, and in others so deep that those who dragged the boats were obliged to nearly swim. We encountered these hardships and fatigues with great courage and perseverance from the zeal we felt in the cause. When night came on, wet and fatigued as we were, we had to encamp on the cold ground. It was at this time that we inclined to think of the comfortable accommodations we had left at home.
September 29th. This day we arrived to the second carrying place, called Skowhegan Falls. Though this was only 60 rods over, it occasioned much delay and great fatigue. We had to ascend a ragged rock, near on 1oo feet in height and almost perpendicular. Though it seemed as though we could hardly ascend without any burden, we succeeded in dragging our batteaus and baggage up it.
September 30th. After getting over the carrying place, we found the water more still. We proceeded 5 miles and at sundown encamped in a most delightful wood, where I thought I could have spent some time agreeably in solitude, in contemplating the works of nature. The forest was stripped of its verdure, but still appeared to me beautiful. I thought that though we were in a thick wilderness, uninhabited by human beings, yet we were as much in the immediate presence of our divine protector as when in the crowded city.
October 2d. This day we proceeded with unusual perseverance, but as the water was exceedingly rapid, we could advance but slowly. It was but a small part of the way that any thing could be done by rowing or setting. While one took the batteau by the bow, another kept hold of the stern to keep her from upsetting or filling with water. Thus our fatigues seemed daily
increase. But what we most dreaded was the frost and cold from which we began to suffer considerably.
October 3 d. This day we carried over Norridgewock Falls, one mile and a quarter. At night we encamped at a place formerly inhabited by the natives and afterwards by the French and Indians; the former had erected a mass house for their devotions, but had deserted it at the time the New England forces made great slaughter among them in the French war. A few inhabitants were now living here, who rendered us some assistance. The temple of worship contained some curiosities, such as crosses, etc. We took up our lodgings here for the night and were much pleased with our accommodations. The place had the appearance of once having been the residence of a considerable number of inhabitants.
October 3d. Having had some better refreshment than usual, we pushed on our way with increased resolution. We had now taken leave of the last inhabitants. The remainder of our route was to be through a trackless wilderness. We now entered a doleful barren woods; the timber mostly pine and hemlock—some thick patches of spruce and fir, and some groves of sugar-maple.