THE SCOTCH-IRISH OF CANADA

By Rev. Stuart Acheson, M.A., Toronto, Canada

Taken from "The Scotch-Irish in America: Proceedings and Addresses of the Third Congress at Louisville, KY., May 14 to 17, 1891".

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Let me now proceed to deal with the successful efforts of Guy Carleton as the savior of Canada. In 1767 he was appointed Lieutenant-governor of Quebec, and the daring deeds and bold adventures, as well as the wise statesmanship, of Guy Carleton fill many pages in the annals of Canadian history. It is singular that Gen. Montgomery, his most formidable foe, and as brave a soldier as ever drew a sword, should have been also of the Scotch-Irish race. Guy Carleton and Richard Montgomery were born within seven miles of each other, Carleton's native place being Strabane and Montgomery's Convoy. They both served at the taking of Quebec under Wolfe, Montgomery being foremost in the fight, while Carleton took charge of British and, what I might call now, American soldiers that held the Island of Orleans, some four miles below Quebec.

Carleton had few soldiers, some two regiments of British troops. The French population had only become British subjects about twelve years before. The habitant could not be induced to take much interest in the struggle. They all loved and admired Carleton; he was their benefactor and friend; but all efforts could not avail. They would not defend their country. The seigniors assembled their tenants and explained to them the service expected of them and the risk of confiscation which they would incur by holding back. But the British law had made them free from their seigniors so far as military service was required under feudalism. They took advantage of this. Their seigniors could not induce them to take up arms and join Carleton. Carleton next applied to their bishops, but met with no more success than when he applied to their seignoirs. The poor people had not forgotten the hardships of the last war, nor the oppression which preceded it. It was but the other day that those very men under Carleton, and let us say Montgomery too, had been fighting against them. Their brave general, Montcalm, had been slain; they were a conquered people, and they resolved to let those fight who would; they would sit and look on. This left our hero with a large country to defend, and, owing to the recent transfer of citizenship, the people without any desire to fight on the side of those who had so recently conquered them and by the sword made them citizens of another king and empire.

Under ordinary circumstances — being thus without support from the native French, being unable by seigniors and bishops and proclamations to create a spirit of defense of Canada — there would have been nothing left but surrender, and the historian would not have had the bright page in history or the daring deeds of the Canadian story to relate. Carleton had the perseverance and fertility of resource which has never been found wanting in the men of our race in times of emergency. He gathered all his forces, made a wise distribution of them from Quebec to Montreal, and waited to defend Canada that he had helped to conquer. He had not long to wait. The forces of the revolting colonists were led by Gen. Schuyler, who took ill, and Robert Montgomery, Carleton's countryman, and his former companion in arms, now took the command under the title of Gen. Montgomery.

In this short paper I cannot recount the daring deeds of these two heroes of our race. Surprises were attempted on both sides, but rarely or never affected. The one seemed to be about the match for the other. It was now as it has often been in America, the bold and daring enterprise of one hero of our race met by equal boldness and sagacity of another of the race on the opposite side. The spirit and dash of the race was never acted in a more transcendent scale than on the shore of the St. Lawrence and under the very guns of the most formidable fortress of the world.

Gen. Montgomery, with the daring skill and enterprise which was so characteristic of the leaders of the Revolution, seems at first to have been more than a match for Carleton. Chambly, Montreal, and Three Rivers all were taken, and Montgomery placed himself between the forces led by Carleton and Quebec. Not only were these places in the hands of Montgomery, but Carleton himself and the few troops now left him were about to be made prisoners.

Carleton would retreat to Quebec, but how was he to accomplish this with an army led by such a sagacious general as Montgomery between him and the citadel? He evacuates Montreal after destroying what stores he could not carry with him. Montgomery enters and, as McMullen says, "treated the people of Montreal with great consideration, and gained their good-will by the affability of his manners and the nobleness and generosity of his disposition." The stars in their courses had fought against Carleton. At this moment all the chances are on the side of Montgomery. Canada's gate-ways are his, save Quebec. A formidable force under Arnold is marching on Quebec. Time will not permit me to describe the march of the fifteen hundred from Boston to Quebec under Arnold. Hauling boats, wading fords, trudging knee deep in snow, they pressed on to the attack on the fortress-crowned rock. They went through forests and inhospitable wastes made more so by frosty winds and blinding snow-storms. They had passed seventeen falls, and were almost faint-hearted when at last they stood on the height of land which separated New England from Canada. Arnold, after recruiting his forces, formed them on the ramparts of Point Levis. Point Levis lies on the American side, but in Canadian territory; between it and Quebec flows the majestic St. Lawrence, here confined by rocks to a space of less than half a mile. Arnold stood and looked at the frowning fortress; but the men who had waded knee deep in snow from Boston would climb up those rocks on the other side. The night came; Arnold and his men embarked on the hazardous enterprise. He managed to elude the sloop-of-war "Hunter," which commanded the river. He crossed the St. Lawrence under the frowning cannons. At any moment their whole flotilla was liable to be sunk by the guns of the fortress. Quietly and with mufiled oar they rounded the promontory and stole up the small river St. Charles and accomplished the feat that Wolfe did just sixteen years before. They climbed the heights of Abraham at the same spot and from the plains on the rear, and with a defiant shout rushed on the old citadel. Col. McLean, who then commanded in Quebec, did not march out as did Montcalm to meet Wolfe.

The citadel, even from the rear, is protected by strongly built stone and earth-works, and guns bristle from every yard of the fortification. Arnold and his men are met by counter cheers and a fearful cannonade from every part of the fortification. Arnold has few troops; and unable to effect a surprise and take the citadel by storm, he retires up the left bank of the river to Pointe-aux-Trembles, where he arrives just as Carleton leaves, and waits to form a junction with Montgomery. At the time Arnold is making his daring charge on Quebec, Montgomery is master of the rest of Canada. Our hero, Carleton, and his handful of soldiers seem about to fall as prisoners into the hands of Montgomery. But such was not the will of Providence; Carleton assumes the guise of a French Canadian peasant, some say a fisherman. Perhaps Montgomery never thought of his soldier neighbor from Strabane appearing as a fisherman. This was no doubt Carleton's last resort; and with his brave aid-de-camp, Bouchette, an old sergeant, he enters a little boat, leaves Montreal behind, and glides down the stream.

The fate of Canada is in that frail boat. Now they pass in the midst of floating batteries, when a whisper may undo them. Sometimes so great is the danger they ship the oars and paddle with their hands. They arrive at Three Rivers only to find it full of Montgomery's troops. Carleton's and Bouchette's disguise and familiar manner disarm all suspicion. They take some refreshments, again they are in their little boat, and on their journey to Quebec fall in with two armed schooners on which floats the British flag. They are taken on board and have just left Point-aux-Trembles as Arnold arrives after his unsuccessful attempt to take Quebec. Carleton arrived in Quebec and prepared the city for a siege. Montgomery and Arnold united their forces at Point-aux-Trembles, and after three days' marching arrived again on the Plains of Abraham and demanded the surrender of the citadel. This Carleton refused. It was the month of December: the weather was intensely cold. Montgomery constructed batteries, but his guns were too small to make any impression on the fortification, from which a destructive fire blazed continually. He determined to take the place by storm. Carleton seems to have had knowledge of the attack of Montgomery and Arnold. The charge made was heroic. Both Montgomery and Arnold had already faced the frowning batteries of Quebec. The charge or plan of attack seems to have been to take the lower town. Arnold commanded the right wing, which hugged the banks of the river St. Charles, and was successful in obtaining an entrance, from which he was only dislodged at the point of the bayonet. Montgomery commanded the left wing, and had already forced his way well up to the lower town.

In 1885, as I stood and looked upon the spot my blood chilled at the daring venture of the brave Montgomery. He fell forcing his way to the lower town right under the frowning cannon of Cape Diamond. I stood upon the spot. I looked up into those very cannon. From every yard of that natural fortress they frowned upon me! The guns are here in position three hundred feet high, and the rocks are so steep that it would be quite impossible to climb them save about one-third the way up. It was here Montgomery was leading his men to the charge on the lower town when the batteries pouring forth their deadly volleys laid this as daring and as brave a soldier as ever drew a sword dead upon the rock. Wolfe fell upon the plains; Montgomery on the rock at its most impregnable spot, and within two hundred feet of the cannon's mouth. After the battle Carleton sought out amid the winter snow the body of Gen. Montgomery, and buried him with military honors.

With the fall of Montgomery ended the struggle; at least the spirits that gave life and animation to the cause were gone (Arnold being wounded), and Guy Carleton remained master of the situation. Carleton thus proved the savior of Canada. He had to contend with generals like Montgomery and Arnold, who were among the most daring of the leaders of the Revolution.

Let me close this period of selection, this period when Canada resolved to pursue her course and achieve greatness and renown under the British flag, by a quotation from Mr. J. M. Lemoine's "History of Quebec:" "Had the fate of Canada on that occasion been confided to a Governor less wise, less conciliating than Guy Carleton, doubtless the 'brightest gem in the colonial crown of Britain' would have been one of the stars on Columbia's banner; the star-spangled streamer would now be floating on the summit of Cape Diamond."

Time will not permit me to glance at such length at my second period, the formation of the Constitution.

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