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Military Quotes

Without harmony in the State, no military expedition can be undertaken; without harmony in the army, no battle array can be formed.

-- Wu Tzu

We arrived in Montreal, a large, populous and well-built town, pleasantly situated on the north bank of the St. Lawrence, near the foot of a mountain from which it derives its name. ....
In a few days General Hull's army, which had been captured by General Brock at Detroit, arrived as prisoners of war at La Chine, a village nine miles above Montreal; and as I felt a strong desire to see them, I set out, with my brother and a gentleman of the 49th regiment, to meet them. On our way we met a calash, in which we had the unexpected satisfaction to recognise my father and the colonel of his regiment, who had come down from Kingston, attached to the escort of the prisoners, the latter having the command.

We returned to town with them, and at about nine o'clock in the evening we had the pleasure of witnessing the arrival of the first fruits of this useless and too disastrous war. I was a very young boy at the time; and, having been born and brought up in the army, it is natural to suppose that my ideas ran early upon military exploits.–Scenes of war, conquered enemies, &c. had long been familiar to me in idea, but in reality had always been remote from me; and I had been in the habit, when thinking of a foreign enemy, to picture to my mind something very unlike what I had daily before my eyes. Upon this occasion, however, I witnessed the reality; and my youthful heart, big with warlike achievements, and too inconsiderate to sympathise in misfortunes of this description, triumphantly exalted in the sight of a fallen enemy.

The band of the 8th regiment marched at the head of them, playing the well known air, "Yankee Doodle." General Hull, a venerable looking old gentleman, and his son with the other officers, in calashes, followed the band; and were succeeded by the soldiers, guarded on either side by a rank of our own troops. As it was dark when they reached the town, the streets they passed through were quite illuminated by numbers of candles, held out from the windows of all the houses which were crowded with people assembled to witness the scene.

The troops being ready to proceed up the country in a few days, we left Montreal and went to La Chine by land, where a number of bateaux were ready for our reception. We embarked in these, each having twelve soldiers and two Canadian pilots on board, and commenced our journey.

One day, we had proceeded up the river about two hours, when, within a short distance of a narrow passage between an island and the mainland, through which we must pass, one of the captains of the regiment, who was in the foremost bateau, imagined he saw something like a Durham boat, a kind of large boat that the Americans, exclusively, are in the habit of using, at the upper part of the strait.

This being rather a suspicious circumstance, he ordered the men to cease from rowing, in order to take a better view with his spying-glass, when he discovered that his conjecture was right, and mentioned it to my father, who was in the next boat.

While they were deliberating upon the subject, and waiting for the other bateaux to come up, a Canadian was observed in a canoe, coming from behind the lower part of the island, paddling with all his might and crying to us that there were Americans on the island. This confirmed the suspicions; and the boats were ordered to the shore, that the soldiers might be disembarked. A body of Americans had posted themselves behind some trees on the island, with the view of intercepting our passage; and when they observed us making for the shore, they immediately discharged a volley of musketry at us. We hurried towards the land as fast as possible; but, when about twenty yards from the edge of the water, the boats grounded, and could be brought no nearer.

As the balls were flying about us, perforating the sides of the boats, dropping into the water in every direction, and threatening instant destruction to all on board, great confusion prevailed; and as soon as it was observed that the boats could not advance to the shore, our only alternative was to leap into the water, and make the best of our way to it. The scene, at this time was certainly the most ludicrous: a complete comic representation of the landing of Caesar in Britain. The recollection of it has often afforded me amusement since, but I must confess that, at the time, I considered it no laughing matter.

As our boat was at the upper end of the division, I had a full view of the whole detachment: men, women and children apparently desirous to outdo each other in dexterity in getting on shore; some up to the knees in water, driving it before them like ships in full sail; others dashing in and making it fly about them on all sides; women screaming, children bawling, officers commanding, but all endeavouring to get out of reach of the shot as fast as possible.

There was a curious old woman in our boat, wife of one of the soldiers, who during the confusion, happened to strike her elbow against the side of the boat; and finding the balls flying about her pretty thick, she was certain she had been wounded, and therefore cried out most lustily "Oh, I'm shot, I'm shot!" One of the soldiers, supposing it was really the case, very seriously inquired where, when she showed him her elbow which was red with the blow, crying, and shouting piteously, all the while, "Oh, bad luck to the Yankee rascals, they've done my job! I'm shot! I'm shot!" The soldier, notwithstanding existing circumstances, could not help enjoying her imaginary misfortune and immediately replied, "Faith, Molly, you're done now sure enough, but you had better get ashore as fast as you can."

There was also a lady, wife of an officer in Kingston, in our boat with my mother; and as she had been in a delicate state of health for some time, she was unwilling, notwithstanding the imminent danger that surrounded her, to venture into the water if she could possibly avoid it. While [she was] hesitating, an officer in the next boat observing her situation, came to her, and requested her to get upon his back, in order that he might carry her to the land, which she gladly consented to. They were both particularly stout, bulky people; and they had not proceeded far until the officer, owing to his heavy burden, sank so deep in the soft mud, that he actually stuck fast, and could not move a step farther. "Pon my honour, Mrs. O--!" in reply, until she found herself up to her knees in water; and sure, in such a plight, "such a pair was never seen."

If the reader can fancy to himself a great fat fellow, in long red coat and cocked hat, up to his knees in water and leading by the hand, very cordially but in a great hurry, as fat a lady, with glowing garments, "lightly floating on the silver wave," – sometimes moving on pretty well, at others rather puzzled to get their feet extricated from the mud, and all the while in terrible dread of being shot, – he may form some idea of their appearance upon the occasion.


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