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FIRST FIFTY YEARS OF BRITISH RULE 109

 

In 1775, Monseigneur Briand, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Quebec, issued, at the instance of the Government, an encyclical letter to the French-Canadian people. He exhorted them to take up arms for the Crown against the Continental invaders. For those who obeyed, he promised indulgences; over the heads of those who should refuse, he suspended the thunders of excommunication. The people turned deaf ears to their Bishop, and even declared his action unbecoming a Christian prelate, who ought to have no concern in anything that involved the shedding of blood. However, when the life of the Province was seriously threatened, there was a consider-able enlistment, and about 600 Canadians fought under Carleton in the defence of Quebec. At the same time it must not be forgotten that not a few joined the Continental army.

On September 25th, an attempt was made by Colonel Ethan Allen and Major Brown to take Montreal by surprise. Allen with 110 men crossed to the island of Montreal and was assured of assistance from sympathizers in the city, but was defeated and captured with his force near Longue Pointe by a body of sixty regulars and 300 of the city militia commanded by Major Carden, who was mortally wounded in the fight.

At this time, Montreal, a small place of 7,000 or 8,000 population, was protected by a decidedly dilapidated wall. Rusty guns were mounted in the little citadel, but their carriages were rotting away, and there were but few gunners to man them. There were barely enough regular soldiers for the guard, and only a portion of the militia could be depended upon. The English-speaking merchants were generally dissatisfied, especially some of the leading ones, who had come from the older English colonies.

Two Continental armies had been detailed to co-operate in the capture of Quebec. One army from Boston, under Benedict Arnold, was despatched by way of the Kennebec River and the Chaudiere; the other, under General


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