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Lord Dorchester
Chapter IX - Carleton Superseded by Burgoyne


CARLETON remained in office another year and continued his administration with unabated zeal. But he was very sore and could not resist from time to time in his official correspondence, burgoyne arrived in Canada almost simultaneously with Germain's letter to Carleton. There is no reason whatever to suspect him of disloyalty to his former chief; on the contrary he had faithfully presented Carleton's plans for the coming campaign to Germain in London, and had made his own recommendations freely and more or less on the same lines. But Germain had another plan, and Burgoyne seems to have accepted it uncritically and without reserve. Carleton's scheme, agreed to by Burgoyne it will be remembered, was to occupy Ticonderoga as a base and then to act to the southward or more particularly against Connecticut and Massachusetts as it should seem good, having always in view the distance from Howe's army and the very difficult nature of the intervening country.

Germain's plan was excellent in theory, namely, to join hands with Howe and hold the natural artery formed by the Hudson and the lakes, which is a straight line from New York to Canada. Burgoyne was to push or fight his way to Albany, and Howe was, to send a force up the Hudson to meet Chim. This would have cut off the New England colonies from the rest of the country, and the bare idea of it thoroughly alarmed Washington, though his fears may have been modified by his growing acquaintance with Howe. Germain, for whom physical geography had little meaning, had not taken any \account of the difficulties of the route to Albany, which were not, however, insurmountable, and Burgoyne could not help him. But unfortunately he omitted to take Howe, the other partner in the scheme, into his confidence, and that supine, but, in this particular, blameless commander, knew nothing whatever about it. As we all know, he was waging independent war to the south of New York when Burgoyne was struggling to his fate at Saratoga; indeed Howe was actually sailing off to Philadelphia at the moment that Germain's victim was surrendering his army as prisoners of war. The explanation of this would be well nigh incredible if it had not been given on the authority of the minister's own secretary. It seems that the despatch containing Howe's instructions lay awaiting Germain's signature, and that the latter, omitting this formality in his hurry to get into the country, forgot it altogether on his return.

A second expedition on a far smaller scale was also planned by Germain. This was to follow the old alternative route from Canada to the Hudson by\ way of Lake Ontario and the Mohawk valley; in other words the two sides of the triangle of which the direct Champlain route from Montreal to Albany formed the base. Colonel St. Leger was in charge of this expedition with some six hundred men, German chasseurs and Johnson's New York Loyalists mainly, with a force of Indians. He was to join Burgoyne on the Hudson after forcing Fort tanwix, which lay high up the Mohawk not far from Lake Oneida, and was now held by seven hundred congress troops under Ganesvort.

After a month's march St. Leger got within touch of the fort on March 3rd, 1777, and while engaged in some necessary road cutting heard of a reinforcement of eight hundred militiamen marching to reinforce the garrison. Sending out Sir John Johnson with all his Indians and eight hundred soldiers, they intercepted the colonials, and by means of an ambush killed or wounded just half their number. This, however, was the only success. The fort was impregnable to St. Leger's light guns, and while engaged in futile attempts upon it news came that Arnold with two thousand men was ascending the^ Mohawk. At this the Indians who had lost heavily in the skirmish above mentioned, known as the battle of Oriskany, could not be induced to stay even by such eloquent partisans as Johnson, Butler, and Claus. Upon this St. Leger had no choice but to retreat, which he did in safety, leaving, however, his tents, guns, and stores. Though a brave man he seems to have had no particular qualities of leadership. Letters both from Butler and himself to Carleton on August 11th and 15th, make a good deal of the fight at Oriskany, and state that St. Leger on his own responsibility assumed the title of brigadier. The next letter sets out the hopelessness of taking Fort Stanwix, and there is nothing more till he reports himself at Montreal with most of his men but without his effects.

This failure in a minor degree encouraged the armies of congress. Carleton does not appear to have rated St. Leger highly. During the first three weeks of June the troops for Burgoyne were collected at the foot of Lake Champlain, while the 29th, 31st, and 34th Regiments, together with part of the 11th and some Germans, were left with Carleton for the defence of Canada. Carleton himself was there to see the last of them and make such final arrangements with Burgoyne as his command in Canada made necessary. There was no friction whatever between the two leaders. Burgoyne declared subsequently in parliament that if Carleton had been making preparations for an enterprise of his own he could not have given himself more assiduously to the task. Riedesel has left in writing his regrets that his former chief was not to be in command. Many must have agreed with him, though Burgoyne's personal charm must have helped, no doubt, to give a cheerful feeling to all around him.

Confidence was hardly required; every one, all such at least as were fresh from Europe, looked forward to a mere promenade, so great was thought to be the demoralization of the congress party and so strong the Loyalist element waiting to declare itself.

Burgoyne was a man of good birth. His father, a dashing captain in the army and second son of Sir John Burgoyne, had run through his own small and his wife's considerable fortune, and died on the King's Bench. Young Burgoyne went from Westminster School into a cavalry regiment,, and by versatile talents, aided by good looks and a winning manner, he rose rapidly both in military and social life. At thirty-three he was a brigadier, commanding a mixed British and Portuguese legion, and, besides other achievements, covered himself with glory by the capture of Valentia sword in hand at the head of his men. He entered parliament in time to) receive as a member the thanks of the House to himself and his corps for their brilliant services under Count La Lippe. He furthered his fortunes by a runaway love match with a daughter of the housed of Derby, whose father forgave them and took him into favour. Though with some weakness for bombast he was an able speaker and a formidable opponent^ of Clive and the East India Company in the House of Commons. He was a dramatist and versifier of considerable reputation, his plays being acted at the theatres, and his poems very much the vogue in society. To soldiering, however, he was most attached, and made a quite exhaustive study of the chief European armies, which he committed to writing, and supplied Chatham with considerable information on the subject. At the outbreak of the American troubles Burgoyne's sympathies were mixed, but he had no scruple about using force. -He himself, however, shrank from employment in America, merely from a soldier's dislike to being ordered on service against armed civilians. Before sailing for Boston as junior major-general in February, 1775, he made a long speech in the House of Commons in which he denied having sought employment in this war, but having been selected for service by the king felt bound to accept it.

In short Burgoyne was a man of deserved reputation as well as of engaging personality, brave, honourable, and quite equal to responsible command in any continental army of the day. He was, perhaps, a little vain, and from lack of special experience not quite suited to this particular campaign, while the further fact that a general who undoubtedly was qualified for the task had just been removed from command, adds another mite of bad luck to the load which Burgoyne's reputation had to bear. /It was in truth a splendid force of some seven thousand men that had marched or sailed with Burgoyne; not all, however, were well suited to backwoods warfare, particularly some of the German regiments whose men wore enormous thigh boots and gigantic hats, and carried sabres of mediaeval calibre, which three items alone weighed more than the whole equipment of a British linesman. But all at least were disciplined and brave, while the artillery was powerful and the transport ample. The composition of the force hardly concerns us', as we must resist any temptation to follow its gradually declining fortunes to the catastrophe of four months later and two hundred miles away that in effect decided the fate of North America and influenced the history of the world.

The leave-taking of the officers serving with Carleton seems, from some of their accounts, to have been an unusually warm one, and when he turned his back on the expedition that he ought to have led, and his face northwards, he had nothing to reproach himself with if he had much to regret. Removed from all touch with the stirring scenes to the southward, Carleton still had his hands full of details throughout the summer and autumn. Burgoyne, though in direct communication with Germain, made from time to time demands on Canada for detachments of men or animals. Carleton in his position had no authority for granting these reliefs, and was always pleased to remind Germain of that fact, though he forwarded them whenever possible. Carleton had been strongly against calling out too many militiamen, as the"} peasantry were still in a condition of uncertainty and suspicion. A dread of the old French military compulsion, awakened by agitators and quickened by the attempted musters of 1775, was still great within them.

For a further replenishing of Burgoyne's force after the latter had occupied and garrisoned Ticonderoga, in July, 1777, Carleton had been compelled O"1 to sanction a corvee, though with great reluctance, the habitants being just now in his opinion " more worthy of compassion than blame." His forebodings were right, for the few hundred militia that were raised with difficulty for Burgoyne deserted in troops as his prospects of success declined. Carleton's frequent warnings as to the temper of the Canadian militia had fallen on deaf ears, and the British government persisted in the delusion that as many thousand as were required could be raised by the simple method of proclamation. The Indians of whom many hundred started with Burgoyne were worse than useless, for with at least as much reason as the French militia they fell away before the impending disaster even more readily. Moreover, their employment, heralded by a somewhat injudicious and bombastic speech of Burgoyne's, gave a handle to the enemies of the government on both sides of the Atlantic that proved of inestimable value, and with more logic alarmed the potential Loyalists dwelling within the sphere of operation for the safety of their homes and families. It did not matter that the other party had enlisted their assistance when possible, as in the case of Arnold and \Montgomery, and that in every North American war they had been a recognized and normal factor in the game, nor again that their interests were as much involved as those of the European races. Whether justly, or unjustly, their enrolment now could be represented with ease and plausibility as a heinous crime. Here, as elsewhere in this war, they were virtually useless, save as scouts while the occasional outrages inseparable from their employment were trumpeted throughout the world.

Carleton had much correspondence just now with Hamilton and the officers holding the far western posts at Niagara and Detroit, for the distant turmoil of the war and the overtures of the agents of congress in those parts were bringing out the western Indians and forcing them to take a hand with whichever side made them the highest bid. By September sinister messages were coming to Carleton from Powell, who was commanding thcx force left at Ticonderoga, for a great part of his garrison was sick, the lines of communication with Burgoyne, now on the Hudson, were broken, and continuous attacks were being inflicted on his own post by Seth Warner, who had twice summoned him to surrender. Four companies of the 53rd had also been cut off and captured.

St. Leger had now returned from his repulse at Fort Stanwix on the Mohawk, and Carleton sent him on immediately to Ticonderoga, though as he says with a side thrust at Germain "without any power to do so." And so the summer and early autumn passed away. Domestic concerns were at a lull pending greater events, and the machinery of government was mainly occupied with military affairs. The news from Burgoyne grew worse and worse, till on October 11th Powell heard he had been defeated and was retreating. He then wrote urgently to Carleton, pointing out the hopeless condition of the fortress in event of a disaster to the southward, and begging instructions. Carleton replied he had no authority over him whatever, but if he had, seeing his own ignorance of Burgoyne's situation or intentions, he should leave the matter to Powell's own judgment, only reminding him that he should either work on the fortifications at once or abandon the spot before it was too late. "'On October 20th the news of the surrender at Saratoga reached Powell, and three weeks later he was at St. Johns with his force and stores intact. Before abandoning the fortress every wooden building and defence was destroyed, and the brief but famous story of Carillon, as the French called it, was finished. Its walls and bastions sank into decay, though happily their fragments still survive among the trim scenes of modern life as the most suggestive object, perhaps, next to Quebec itself, in all these northern provinces of ancient and pregnant strife. Carleton would have been more than human had he not felt a qualm or two of bitter satisfaction at the retribution which Germain's flouting of himself had brought upon that fatuous minister. But though opposition orators in parliament might openly rejoice at the humiliation of their country, Carleton was the last man to breathe one word of ill-placed censure on his supplanter, the lesser sinner, nay, rather the victim of this disastrous blunder, nor is there the least note of triumph in his laconic business-like despatches to Germain.

Almost every one who has dealt with, and probably every one who has studied, this period has indulged his readers or himself in some measure of speculation as to what might have resulted if the cool-headed Carleton with his intimate experience of local warfare and local conditions and topography, his wise caution and self-abnegation in critical moments, had been in Burgoyne's place, and above all had planned the campaign. Burgoyne was infinitely more sinned against than sinning, but he was with-out American experience and detailed heavily-accoutred- Germans, under officers who could not speak English, on difficult enterprises^ into remote forests where local knowledge and agility were the chief requisites. He perhaps thought more of his own reputation than of his country's when prudence should have warned him to retreat before it was too late. He refused to turn back when such a movement was still possible and many brave officers urged it as the wisest course, and when he did retrace his steps his movements were so dilatory as to ensure disaster. He had wasted time in the advance, he wasted more in his brief attempt to retreat, which was much worse, and his march was accompanied by a touch of personal frivolity and untimely luxury at his own headquarters which seemed to some of those about him to strike a jarring note at this moment of impending ruin. /Burgoyne, however, made a good case for himself, insisting that his instructions were explicit to march on Albany. Not only that, but he pictured Howe as advancing to meet him and felt that his own retreat might mean Howe's ruin; strict obedience to orders and chivalrous thought for a brother general were in fact his guiding motives. If Carleton had followed his own scheme none of these risks would have been run; even if he had followed Germain's will-o'-the-wisp one cannot imagine that he would have maintained so blind a faith in the Howe myth without some sign, or in any case that he would have allowed himself to be entrapped. Carleton had neither the contempt for the colonial troops, nor the exaggerated belief in effective Loyalist aid which the king, Germain, Burgoyne, and even Phillips were possessed of. These are, however, futile speculations. Perhaps Burgoyne's presence and Germain's fatuity were a wise dispensation of Providence in arranging the world's future. Carleton's interference might perhaps have left worse legacies for after generations. But in judging of current events so philosophical an attitude would be misplaced, and we must regard them from the point of view of a British soldier of the time performing his duty to his king and country.

Carleton was now weary of his anomalous position. No fitting successor had as yet been found, till in October the news arrived that Haldimand had been nominated. It appears that the new governor when he reached London from Switzerland, his native country, heard much talk of Germain's unjust and foolish treatment of Carleton and requested that his own appointment should be cancelled. This was not accepted and Haldimand sailed in October, 1777, but baffled by contrary winds, was driven back into port and had to remain in England till the following season. There was, therefore, no choice for Carleton but to remain.

The legislative council had not met since its first session in 1775 had been dissolved by the alarms of war. The Quebec Act had not yet been put in operation and the courts of justice placed upon a proper footing. In 1775 Carleton had been compelled to nominate the judges himself, for the country had been left to chaos. No one certainly was calculated to make a better choice. He had appointed or maintained in their appointments, Mabane, Dunn, and Panet as the three judges at Quebec, while Fraser, Marteilhe, and de Rouville held like positions at Montreal.

A clause in the Quebec Act had annulled all appointments held prior to it but Carleton regardening this as a mere form, though a useful instrument for evicting any public servants who had failed in capacity, or in their duties. The home government, however, looked upon it as an admirable opportunity for foisting protdges on the Canadian establishment, and this division of opinion gave rise to a correspondence between Carleton and Germain as acrid as their letters on matters military and almost as entertaining. "I should have reproached myself with an abuse of power and trust if under the sanction of that clause I had turned out any of the king's inferior servants who had executed the duties of their offices with integrity and honour."

"Two judges at Montreal," Carleton goes on to say, "have been turned out by his Lordship's nominees, Livius and Owen." Alluding to the former he continues, "'Tis unfortunate that your Lordship should find it necessary for the king's service to send over a person Livius, shortly afterwards made chief-justice] to administer justice to the people when he understands neither their laws, manners, customs, nor their language, and that he must turn out of his place a gentleman who has held it with reputation for many years, well allied in the province and who had suffered considerably for his attachment to his duty both as a magistrate and a loyal subject." Carleton's judgment in this case is singularly endorsed by the fact that the ill-used gentleman went back to England and in no long time became master of the rolls and Sir William Grant. Livius, his supplanter, as a German-Portuguese with a legal experience gained in New England, was not a happy appointment, though he was quite clever enough to make a good deal of disturbance about his fees and give Carleton great trouble, "greedy of power, more greedy of^gain, imperious and impetuous in his temper, but learned in the ways and eloquence of the New England provinces, valuing himself particularly on his knowledge of how to manage governors."

Carleton, unlike Burgoyne, professed no exceptional powers of composition, but it must be admitted that he was roused at times by the performances of the colonial office into bits of English that it is a positive pleasure to transcribe. Plagued by the continual appearance of these placemen/ generally the representatives of backstair influence/ sometimes the inferior deputies of inferior men at home with political influence who took the lion's share of the salary, Carleton wrote at another time to Germain his dread lest the country "should produce what may be found in others; characters regardless of the public tranquillity but zealous to pay court to a powerful minister and, provided they can flatter themselves with a prospect of obtaining by this protection advantages under the Crown, are unconcerned should the means of obtaining them prove ruinous to the king's service." This, too, is plain speaking, but Germain was getting used to it by now and was to hear still worse things when Burgoyne, and more particulary Burgoyne's friends, spoke their minds in parliament at a later date. Monk, the solicitor-general in Nova Scotia, was among those nominated, to the exclusion of a well tried and deserving person. Monk, however, was in /himself a fitting appointment, but Carleton objected to an equally efficient native of the province eing passed by. Monk never forgot the quite just objections of Carleton, as will appear in a subsequent chapter dealing with much later events. Carleton's attitude in all these matters is the more worthy of confidence from the fact that he himself had nothing to gain in the way of favour or support. He considered that he had done with Canada and was only acting in the interests of the country and of the successor for whose advent he anxiously awaited. All this was the more irritating, as the clause in the Quebec Act annulling all present offices had been introduced with Carleton's approval for the express purpose of eliminating unworthy officers nominated by the pernicious system in vogue. Carleton's retention of efficient servants was in keeping with the spirit in which he intended the Act to be applied. Germain's interpretation of it, on the other hand, was for the perpetuating of those very abuses.

A militia bill was passed early in the session which made every able-bodied man liable to be called out in defence of his country. This was no hardship surely then or now, but the habitants regarded it with great dislike. It was ordained, moreover, that those not included in musters should perform the cultural duties of those who were. After Burgoyne's^ surrender there was another invasion scare, as well there may have been. There were nearly four thousand regulars in the colony, but the Americans by now were in considerable part no longer raw militia, but hardened and experienced soldiers. The Canadian militia numbered on paper some eighteen thousand men. In the autumn of 1777, Carleton called out one-third of the force from the Three Rivers and Montreal districts under those zealous officers de Tonnancour, de Longueuil, and de Lanaudi&re. The muster was successful, but the immediate alarm of invasion passed away and the men were disbanded. Some half a dozen persons, too, were arrested this year for treasonable practices, and Livius who was sore at the strict limitation of legal fees which Carleton had managed to secure in the interests of a poor community, used some of these arrests as a means of airing his importance and retaliating on the government. Carleton had also nominated a few members of the council as a committee to work in immediate accord with himself during the period of strain and crisis represented by the years 1776 and 1777. It was a time of urgent peril calling for instant action. Many of his council were in the field, and some were prisoners in the States. Livius was not included, very naturally, seeing that he was a German-Portuguese who had recently come from New England as one of Germain's placemen. There was a kind of opening in the armour of the peace constitution of Canada for a pettifogging lawyer to assail, and Livius gave a good deal of trouble by carrying the matter to the privy council. After Carleton had arrived in England the matter was brought to a head when the council deprived Livius of his office.

Carleton's kindheartedness towards the American militiamen that fell into his hands is a matter of history. Here is an address he made to his prisoners at Quebec when he sent them home, which may be accepted as typical if not accurate to the letter: "My lads, why did you come to disturb an honest man in his government that never did you any harm in his life? I never invaded your property nor sent a single soldier to distress you. Come, my boys, you are in a very painful situation and not able to go home with any comfort. I must provide you with shoes, stockings and good warm waistcoats. I must give you some good victuals to carry you home. Take care, my lads, that you do not come here again, lest I should not treat you so kindly." In his last letter to Germain he told him that if the character of the men sent to Canada were of no consideration to his Lordship, the tranquillity of the people, and the security of so important a province, the dignity and the dominion of the Crown, he hoped, at least, would appear worthy of some attention. "I have long and impatiently looked out for the arrival of a successor. Happy at last to learn 188 his near approach, that into hands less obnoxious to your Lordship I may resign the important commands with which I have been honoured. Thus, for the king's service, as willingly I lay them down as for his service I took them up—the most essential and in truth the only service in my power to render your Lordship's administration." These are Carleton's last words in closing this chapter of his history, and not unworthy ones.

Haldimand, Carleton's long-looked-for successor, arrived in Quebec on June 26th, 1778. Carleton returned to England on the same vessel after more than eleven years of service, and nearly eight of actual residence. He was the only British general who recrossed the Atlantic during this episode wearing the laurels of victory, and of all generals his task had been the hardest. He little thought then, that ten years later he would be called once more to the thorny seat of which he had now grown weary.


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