George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Thompson, 30 May 1776

From Brigadier General William Thompson

Chamble [Canada] May 30th 1776


Since my last Letter to your Excellency1 I have been stationed at the Mouth of the Sorel River which will in a few days be fortified as well as the situation of the Place will admit of. The havock made amongst the New England Troops by the small Pox and our want of ammunition, (expecially Lead) has prevented any thing being [done] below Sorel.2 That Place I do not think by any means tenable, but your Excellency may be assured I shall not abandon it unless I can give satisfactory Reasons for my procedure. The unfortunate retreat from Quebec and the late unguarded Truce and convention at the Cedars has involved us in many difficulties, tho’ I hope we shall yet be able to surmount them.3 By the Honorable Commissioners of Congress I transmit a return of the Troops that came with me from New York and likewise of those now under my command at Sorel. I am Yr Excellency’s most obt & very Hble Servant

Wm Thompson


2The word in square brackets is taken from Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 4th ser., 6:628.

3A few days earlier Maj. Isaac Butterfield, whom Col. Timothy Bedel had left in command at the Cedars while he went to Montreal, surrendered the garrison to a force of British soldiers and Indians without offering any resistance. The cartel between Butterfield and the British commander Capt. George Forster provided that the American prisoners would be protected from the Indians in return for the surrender of the post, but when a large American relief force under General Arnold subsequently approached Forster’s detachment, Forster threatened to give the prisoners to the Indians if an attack was made. Arnold reluctantly agreed not to attack and took custody of the prisoners, who were to be exchanged later.

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