Benedict Arnold's Expedition To Quebec - Arrival At Quebec

Arrival At Quebec

Arnold first made contact with the local population on October 30. Sympathetic to his plight, they supplied provisions and cared for the sick; some were well paid for their aid, while others refused payment. Arnold distributed copies of a letter written by Washington asking the habitants to assist the expedition, and Arnold added promises to respect the persons, property, and religion of the locals. Jacques Parent, a Canadien from Pointe-Levi, notified Arnold that Lieutenant Governor Cramahé had ordered the destruction of all boats on the southern banks of the Saint Lawrence after receiving the intercepted communications.

On November 9 the expedition finally reached the Saint Lawrence at Pointe-Levi, across the river from Quebec. Arnold had about 600 of his original 1,100 men, and the journey had turned out to be 350 miles (560 km), not the 180 that Arnold and Washington had thought it would be. From John Halstead, a New Jersey-born businessman who operated a mill near Pointe-Levi, Arnold learned of the arrest of his courier and the interception of some of his letters. Halstead's mill became the organizing point for the crossing of the Saint Lawrence. Some of Arnold's men purchased canoes from the habitants and the local Saint Francis Indians, and then transported them from the Chaudière to the mill site. The forces crossed the Saint Lawrence on the night of November 13–14 after three days of bad weather, likely crossing the mile-wide river between the positions of HMS Hunter and HMS Lizard, two Royal Navy ships that were guarding the river against such a crossing.

The city of Quebec was then defended by about 150 men of the Royal Highland Emigrants under Lieutenant Colonel Allen Maclean, supported by about 500 poorly organized local militia and 400 marines from the two warships. When Arnold and his troops finally reached the Plains of Abraham on November 14, Arnold sent a negotiator with a white flag to demand their surrender, to no avail. The Americans, with no cannons or other field artillery, and barely fit for action, faced a fortified city. After hearing rumors of a planned sortie from the city, Arnold decided on November 19 to withdraw to Pointe-aux-Trembles to wait for Montgomery, who had recently captured Montreal.

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