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1837 and my connection with it

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{{title|1837 and my connection with it|[[Thomas Storrow Brown]]|April 1898<br /><br />Quebec City, Raoul Renault, Publisher<br />(originally published in the ''New Dominion Monthly'' in April 1869)}}
[[Image:Thomas-storrow-brown.jpg|thumb|Thomas Storrow Brown, journalist, member of the ''Parti patriote'']]Born in [[wikipedia:St. Andrews, New Brunswick|St. Andrews]], Province of [[wikipedia:New Brunswick|New Brunswick]], I am a "good Tory," and not of a Revolutionary stock. My father's father, a [[wikipedia:Boston|Boston]] merchant, sacrificed his all for the Royal cause, and left for [[wikipedia:Halifax|Halifax]] with General [[wikipedia:Thomas Gage|Gage]], when Boston was evacuated, in 1776. My mother's mother emigrated from [[Postmouth]] to New Brunswick, with a daughter married to Captain [[Storrow]], of the British army, from whom my name was taken. She was a "Wentworth," cousin to [[wikipedia:John Wentworth (governor)|John Wentworth]] (afterwards Sir John, [[wikipedia:Governor of Nova Scotia|Governor of Nova Scotia]]), the last Royal Governor of [[wikipedia:New Hampshire|New Hampshire]]; niece to Sir [[wikipedia:Benning Wentworth|Berning]], his predecessor; and granddaughter to [[wikipedia:John Wentworth (Lieutenant-Governor)|John Wentworth]], who preceded him. These three "Wentworths" - father, son, and grandson, - having governed New Hampshire for more than forty years.
When, at fifteen years of age, I came to [[wikipedia:Montreal|Montreal]], in the year 1818, I was already a politician from much reading of newspapers; but forming my ideas of what was right in men and things mostly from the lessons contained in "[[wikipedia:Plutarch's Lives|Plutarch's Lives]]." In the same year the [[wikipedia:Parliament of Lower Canada|Parliament of Lower Canada]] was for the first time called upon to make provision for the "[[wikipedia:Civil List|Civil List]]," which included payment of all provincial salaries, in accordance with an offer made in 1810.
In those days there was no "[[wikipedia:Responsible Government|Responsible Government]]" in the colonies, and no [[wikipedia:Colonial Office|Colonial Ministry]]. Each had a House of Assembly elected by the people, a Legislative Council appointed for life by the Crown, and a Governor, who was some old military officer left on the hands of the [[wikipedia:Home Office|Home Ministry]] by the Peace of 1815, and who knew little of governing beyond the word of command. The Executive Council, responsible no where, and to nobody, was a mere council of advice. That in Lower Canada became a controlling power. The representatives of the people could debate and vote, but there were no means of carrying on their decisions.
Our Parliament had at this time existed for nearly thirty years, with nominally all the powers of the [[wikipedia:British House of Commons|British House of Commons]]; but in the long period when our insufficient revenue required that a large portion of the "Civil List," or expenditure for provincial purposes, should be paid from the Military Chest - That is, [[wikipedia:HM Treasury|British Treasury]], through the Commissariat - The Assembly could hardly question the expenditure, or its particular distribution.
I shall in this article use the words "Canadian", and "English", as the French use them and accord to our common acceptation here, - the first meaning non but ''French'' Canadians; and the second, all who are ''not'' French Canadians. With the call upon the Assembly to provide for the Civil List, came the protest that culminated in 1837. The Assembly was Canadian, and acting upon its positive right, demanded that all the revenue of the Province, should be placed at its disposal. The official body, including sinecurists and pluralists, being mostly English in numbers, and more so on the pay-list, instinctly foresaw reduction for their order. The Legislative Council, not a mere obedient appendage like the Legislative Councils of our day, or the "[[wikipedia:Senate of Canada|Senate]]", was a vigorous English body; and, taking part with the office-holders, put itself in direct antagonism to the Assembly. A great portion of the legislation demanded by the people through the Assembly was thrown out by the Council, till in the end there was an accumulation of over three hundred bills, passed by the Lower House, and thrown out by the Upper; and various governmental irregularities were committed, against continued remonstrances.
The constant demand of the Assembly for all the revenue, was met by tardy concessions by the British Government year after year, only to increase irritation; till in the end, as should have been in the beginning, all was surrendered. Then came the voting of supplies. The Assembly, having no other check on the Government, on the office holders, insisted on voting salaries annually and separately to each service or individual. The Governor, supported by the Council, insisted that they should be voted ''en bloc'', - in a lump sum - and for a term of years, to be devided by the Executive; and thus the conduct of public affairs became so insufferable that, in 1828, a deputation from Canadians (there had been deputations in former years) carried home a [[Petition of the Counties in the Districts of Montreal and Three Rivers|petition]], signed by 87,000 people, which was laid before a Committee of the House of Commons. The Committee entered fully upon the question, gave the delegates a full hearing, and by a [[Report from the Select Committee on the Civil Government of Canada|report]] sustained the House of Assembly in its allegations or grievances, but left the remedy in the hands of the Government.
[[Image:Papineau-daguerre.jpeg|thumb|left|Louis-Joseph Papineau, lawyer, Speaker of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada]][[Image:Archibald-acheson-2nd-earl-of-gosford.jpg|thumb|Archibald Acheson, 2nd Earl of Gosford, Governor of the Canadas]]Promises of redress were profuse, but in the multiplicity of reforms required at that time of the British Ministry, ours were overlooked till 1835, when Lord [[wikipedia:Archibald Acheson, 2nd Earl of Gosford|Gosford]], a good natured Irish gentleman, of no political capacity or knowledge, was sent out as Governor, accompanied by an ex-captain of Engineers, and an excentric Indian judge to act with him as "Commissioners" to inquire into our grievances. The insult of appointing a [[wikipedia:Royal Commission for the Investigation of all Grievances Affecting His Majesty's Subjects of Lower Canada|commission]] to inquire into facts that had been re-echoed for fifteen years, when the Parliament of the Province could be the only inquest, was only equalled by the imbecility of selecting three men utterly incompetent for the task. The Commission was never recognized by our Parliament, nor did the British Ministry suppose it would be. It was sent out as a make shift; and its [[http://books.google.ca/books?id=pkoSAAAAYAAJ reports]], in which in turn each Commissioner differed from his colleagues, ended with the printing.
Lord Gosford, however, did something. He gave at Quebec a St. Catherine's ball, and, to the disgust of all loyal Britons, gave the chief place to a Canadian lady; which disgust was amplified by concessions of many things, before withheld, and a judicious bestowal of offices to certain Canadian politicians. On return, a portion of the Quebec wing of what was now called the "[[wikipedia:Parti canadien|Papineau Party]]" split off, and desired reconciliation. Satisfied with what they had in hand, and promises of more, they declared the cry for reform meant revolution.
To no party in a colony does the British nation, at home and abroad, owe so much as to the "Papineau Party", to which I had the honor of being attached. To no man born in a colony does the British nation, at home and abroad, owe so much as to [[wikipedia:Louis Joseph Papineau|Louis Joseph Papineau]], - one who, by that spirit that in heroic times falls upon choosen men, towered gigantically amidst his compeers. Though here the struggle was presented as a contest between the French and English, in other colonies it was distinctly between the people and the colonial [[wikipedia:oligarchy|oligarchy]].
In 1837, there was chronic dissatisfaction in every British colony, and each was besieging the Colonial Office for redress of grievances, having their common source in the contest of people, speaking through their Houses of Assembly, and the Colonial Office holders supported by imbecile Governors, through and irresponsible Legislative Council. The unwavering determination of the Papineau Party forced questions to their ultimate decision: and the British Government, when awakened to the necessity, with a magnanimity seldom found in history, acknowledged the errors of the past, and noticed all the colonies that henceforth their own government should be in their own hands, and her authority never again be invoked against their rights. From that time to this there has been no colonial disloyalty, discontent, dissatisfaction, or complaint. The question in England then was, how shall we keep the colonies? The question now is, how can we shake them off?
[[Image:Russell.jpg|thumb|left|John Russell, 1st Earl of Russell, Secretary of State for the Colonies]][[Image:Brougham.jpg|thumb|Henri Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux, Scottish scientist and politician]]Thus matters dragged till the 7th of March, 1837, when the great constitutional statesman, Lord [[wikipedia:John Russell, 1st Earl Russell|John Russell]], in the spirit of an absolute despot, introduced into the House of Commons a series of [[Resolutions intended to be proposed by Lord John Russell, in a committee of the whole house, relative to the affairs of Canada|resolutions]], authorizing the Governor of Lower Canada to draw from the Provincial chest this one hundred and forty thousand pounds, and pay off all arrears of salary, without waiting for a vote of our House of Assembly, which, voted so far as concerned the Province with all the powers and privileges of the House of Commons, had the sole control. Many members, who expressed the true British heart, protested against such anti-British and unwarranted resolutions, and told as we should be a disgrace to the British name and to humanity if we did not resist them to the uttermost; but they were carried by a great majority in the House; and in the Lords, Lord [[wikipedia:Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux|Brougham]] was the only dissident.
Lord John, however, became frightened with his own success. He said, in answer to inquiries, the he should not act upon the resolutions, but bring a bill. Though twitted by Lord [[wikipedia:Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby|Stanley]] - now [[wikipedia:Earl of Derby|Earl Derby]] - the bill did not appear; and in June, after accession of our [[wikipedia:Victoria of the United Kingdom|beloved Queen]], he declared that, not wishing to commence the reign with so "harsh" a measure, he would ''drop the resolutions, and add one hundred and forty thousand pounds to the army estimates, to enable the Governor to pay off the arrears from the military chest'', and wait the return from the province to a convenient season. And so it was done. The commissariat obtained the money by special bills sold in [[wikipedia:New York|New York]], and commenced paying salaries on the 12th of October.
But the mischief was done. The news of the passage of the resolutions set the country in a blaze in April, and the news of this wretched ending only reached us in August, when the fire was too wide-spread to be smothered. Had Lord John Russell proposed in March to borrow from the military chest, instead of to rob our own, there would have been no "troubles of 1837". Whatever may have been the offences of that year, his offence was the greatest, and he the greatest of all offenders.
Our organs, the ''[[Vindicator]]'' and ''[[wikipedia:La Minerve|Minerve]]'', taking their direction from the philosophic democrats of the House of Commons, on the 14th of April, sounded the key-note, - "Agitate, agitate," - and quickly came responses from all parts. Parties became arrayed in most violent antagonism. On one side were all the Canadians, with the exception of a small party in Quebec and a few stragglers, the Catholic Irish, and a few scattering English. On the other side were all the English, with the above exceptions, and some in the townships, who only in the [[wikipedia:Missisquoi (electoral district)|county of Missisquoi]] made any great demonstration.
[[Image:Wolfred-nelson-2.jpg|thumb|Wolfred Nelson, doctor, leading member of the ''Parti patriote'']]There being no Parliament in session, or likely to be called, the people could only speak by public meetings, which it was decided should be held by counties. [[wikipedia:Richelieu (electoral district)|Richelieu]] set off, under the impetuosity of [[wikipedia:Wolfred Nelson|Wolfred Nelson]], on the 7th of May. Montreal followed on the 15th of May, at St. Laurent, to consider the means necessary to protect the rights and liberties of the people, and Mr. Papineau spoke for hours. Neither at those meeting, nor in any that followed in country after county, from May to August, was any revolutionary propositions adopted, - the whole subject of addresses and resolutions being a reiteration of the complaints of maladministration in the Government and neglect of our petitions, declaration of approval of the House of Assembly, and of the Papineau Party, and demands for redress. All that went beyond this was to use no article of British manufacture, and by the use, encourage domestic manufactures; and so far as concerned other merchandize, to evade the payment of duties by encouraging the smuggling from the States, on the principle that, the payment of imposts to a Government, and the legal expenditure of the proceeds by the Government, were reciprocal obligations, and that when the law was violated, the first was dissolved.
I had for years been a steady adherent of the Papineau Party, at a pecuniary and social sacrifice, inevitable to him who is separated from those who may be considered his own people, and found in stormy times ranked with an opposing party, alien in blood and language. The reply to that article of the [[wikipedia:Articles of Capitulation of Quebec|capitulation of 1759]], which required safe guard for the Canadians was, "They are subjects of the King." In 1791, a free Parliament was granted to them, and it appeared to me that manliness in the British people forbade the withholding of any right from a handful of French descent, that the fortunes of war had left in British territory. I saw, too, in their pretensions, the same principle that had been consecrated by the triumphs of the British Commons in their victories over the "[[wikipedia:Royal Prerogative|Prerogatives]]" in time past; and felt that an instinctive dread of French supremacy, which I could not share, alone prevented the entire people from making common cause against such a Government and Colonial Office as we had. There was something excitingly chivalric in devotion to a cause where one had everything to lose and nothing to gain.
Coming into town in the morning of the 20th June, I met the late [[James Duncan Gibb]], who informed me that Lord Gosford had issued a [[proclamation]] forbidding the holding of public meetings - or "Anti-Coercion Meetings" as they were called. "This," said I, "is more than British subjects can submit to. Not only will the country meetings already called be held, but we will hold one in Montreal;" and this I repeated to his party, before reaching any one of my own.
An Anti-Coercion meeting in Montreal involved serious considerations, of riot and bloodshed, with which, in the bitter tumult of the previous ten years, our city was familiar. I vehemently urged the necessity of defiance to the proclamation in Montreal, as encouragement to the country, which might consider us poor braggarts who only dared to show themselves where the was no man to oppose. Timid counsels had well nigh prevailed when, at one of our discussion, a young man in the corner, who I never heard speak in public before or since, came out so violently in favor of the meeting that none present dared to vote "No." The meeting was held on the [[St. Lawrence Market]], on the 29th of June, and all passed of quietly. The English held an opposite meeting about the same time, but no collision occurred. They also held, during the summer, several meetings in the city, and some small ones in the country, to denounce the proceedings of the Canadians.
An active moving power in our machinery of agitation was the "[[Permanent and Central Committee]]", which held open sittings at the [[Nelson Hotel]], in Montreal, attended by the ardent Canadians of towns and country. Here every movement in all parts of the province was echoed and applauded, and now ideas were sent forth for action elsewhere. Here, too, militia officers and magistrates who had incurred Executive displeasure were glorified; country notables, often made "Chairman", went home elated with the honor, especially when seen in print.
Though the Gosfordites were strong in Quebec, Papineau was stronger in the neighboring counties, and one of the largest Anti-Coercion meetings was held at [[St. Thomas]]. Doctor [[wikipedia:Étienne-Paschal Taché|Taché]] - afterwards the Premier, Sir Etienne, - was indicted for assaulting a man who at this meeting shouted, ''Hourra pour le Roi des Anglais'', - "Hurrah for the English King"!
Our Parliament assembled in the middle of August. Gosford had in a manner, during the past two years, promised many unaccomplished things. He had no answer for old complaints, and the Assembly, declaring that the redress of grievances must precede all legislative action, separated without waiting for the hasty prorogation intended by the Governor. Thus ended the last Parliament of Lower Canada.
The [[wikipedia:Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec|Canadian clergy]], with few exceptions, resolutely opposed all public agitation. Never was there such severance between the people and their pastors. Monseigneur [[wikipedia:Jean-Jacques Lartigue|Lartigue]], acting as bishop of the diocese of Montreal, issued a ''[[mandement]]'', or pastoral letter, denouncing positively all agitation and agitators. A few priests refused to read it to their parishioners, or did so with an apology. In some of the parishes the men left the church when the reading commenced.
The greatest and closing public meeting of the season, was that of the "Five Counties", held at St. Charles, on the 23rd day of October, which was attended by more men of superior position than any of the preceeding. The speakers were Papineau, [[wikipedia:Louis-Michel Viger|L. M. Viger]], [[wikipedia:Louis Lacoste|Louis Lacoste]], [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=37761 E. E. Rodier], and Dr. [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=37463 Côté], all members of Parliament, and myself. The resolutions, moved and seconded by men of highest repute in the District insisted on the duty of the British authorities to amend our form of Government: stigmatized the dismissal of officials; declared that there could be no confidence in their successors, which made the election of "pacificators", as proposed in Two Mountains, necessary; protested against the English Government for sending on troops for the destruction of our liberties; disapproved all recent appointments of Lord Gosford, as evidencing and continuing a system of fraud. The organization of the Sons of Liberty was approved, and hopes expressed that Providence, and the sympathies of our neighbors - Provincial and American - would bring round a favorable opportunity for our emancipation. An armed party fired salutes, and a plan for the [[Grand Meeting of the Confederation of the Six Counties in Saint-Charles|confederation of six counties]] was adopted.
[[Image:Assemblee-des-six-comtes.jpg|thumb|center|500px|"L'Assemblée des six comtés", oil on canvas painted by Charles Alexander Smith in 1890-1891]]
On Sunday, there was no work done, for the Canadians on this point obey the commandment. On Monday we continued cutting down trees about the house, to form barricades to our camp, intending to cover them with earth; but this was so little advanced that our defence had only reached the consequence of a strong log-fence, with no military or engineering pretensions, when we were driven out. Two old rusty six-pounders, found in a barn, were mounted on sleigh-runners by the village blacksmith, and loaded, for want of other missiles, with scraps of iron. These were our only artillery. Our fame spread abroad. The country people, supposing the time for rising had arrived, flocked in, without waiting for special orders. Never could I forget the alacrity and devotion of these men, coming forward, even before the call, to maintain the country's rights. They were the right material. With arms and officers, we could have improvised an army, off hand; but we had neither. In an old settled country, from which game had disappeared, a singular collection of [[wikipedia:fusil|fusil]]s was in their hands, in all stages of dilapidation: some must have come down from before the conquest; and the whole would have been an interesting variety for a museum. There was, I think, but one musket; and I do not remember seeing a single [[wikipedia:Bayonet|bayonet]]. A few kegs of powder were collected, and cartridges made; but with such diversities of bore, I cannot say that every man got what he could use. There had been no general military organization or training since the conquest. Such had been the policy of the Government, and it now reaped the advantage.
By another of the coincidences of St. Charles, Mr. [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=39500 Blanchet], the parish priest, was a "patriot" - almost the only one in the province - and favored us. Mr. Debartzh's premises, well supplied with cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry, and breadstuffs, furnished our commissariat. The whole country about us was "patriot", with a small exception. [[Simon Lespérance]], a merchant of La Representation, and a few others, suspected of opposite tendencies, were brought in as prisoners by the neighbors.
Such was the camp at St. Charles. A few hundred men assembled, and thousands were ready to join; - a mere collection of individuals, without appliances, or instruction, or commanders, from corporals upwards, required for any action military. But such was not the newspaper report published abroad. There I lined a strong, well-armed, and disciplined force, in a well-fortified position, with two of "[[wikipedia:Napoleon I of France|Bonaparte]]'s" generals under me, and a foundry for casting cannon!
Sir [[wikipedia:John Colborne, 1st Baron Seaton|John Colborne]], now commanding in Montreal, determined to attack this formidable army. Two expeditions were sent out. - one under Col. [[wikipedia:George Augustus Wetherall|Wetherall]], by the way of [[wikipedia:Chambly, Quebec|Chambly]]; the other under Col. [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=38585 Gore], by the way of [[wikipedia:Sorel-Tracy, Quebec|Sorel]], - to secure the capture of leading men, by an attack on both sides.
One the afternoon of Wednesday, the 22nd November, Col. Gore left Montreal with two companies of the [[Twenty-fourth Regiment]], and one company of the [[Thirty-second]] ([[Markham]]'s), and a small party of volunteer cavalry, with one [[wikipedia:Howitzer|howitzer]] 12-pounder. Two companies of the [[Sixty-sixth]] joined them at Sorel. At ten o'clock at night, the march commenced for St. Denis, eighteen miles. It was raining heavily, and the road was knee deep almost in soft mud; towards morning it commenced freezing, and a snow-storm faced the troops. Cold and exhausted they struggled on, Markham's company leading, picking their way, as they best could, expecting to breakfast at St. Denis, without opposition. The first files had nearly entered the village, when fire opened upon them. The howitzer, unlimbered at 250 yards, opened fire in return; but the troops taking shelter round barns and houses, were too benumbed to handle their muskets. Markham, sheltered behind a long barn, twice reached out to lead an assault, and each time received a musket wound, the last one very serious. Firing continued for a few hours, chiefly from the howitzer, and then the troops retreated to Sorel, leading the gun behind as a trophy for the "patriots¨. Such was the relation made to me by some wounded men, who were left prisoners, and it corresponds with the official report. Had a dash been made in the morning, the troops would have easily carried it. Had the "patriots" followed the exhausted retreating troops, in the afternoon, possibly all would have been captured; but neither knew the weakness of the other.
Wolfred Nelson, one of the bravest of the braves, commanded at St. Denis. He had not raised the standard of revolt, but only defended himself against an illegal warrant. In war he would have been a great General; but perhaps a Murat, greater in action than in council. He had for defence only about fifty fowling pieces of any use; a small embankment across the road was a protection to sharpshooters; and the stronghold was a stout stone house, at the lower end of the village. Round-shot knocked in the upper gable, - there were three killed in the garret; below the rafters, the walls were too solid for injury. My most intimate friend, [[Charles Ovide Perrault]], who had been one of the most active agents of agitation, and the greatest young man I ever met, was mortally wounded, while crossing the street, by an accidental parting shot.
One painful event marked the day. Lieut. [[Weir]], of the [[32nd Regiment]], left Sorel to overtake Col. Gore's command. Accidentally getting upon a wrong road, he drove past, and on to St. Denis, where he was made a prisoner, as I was early informed by a letter from Nelson, who said he would be treated with every consideration. When the troops approached in the morning, he was placed in a waggon to be sent to me, at St. Charles (nine miles), in charge of two old, respectable men. At a short distance, he jumped out to escape; and, in the scuttle to secure him, was killed. No man lamented the sad event more than Nelson.
The troops lost, - killed, 6 rank and file; wounded, 1 officer and 9 rank and file; missing 6 rank and file. The patriots had 10 or 12 killed.
Col. Wetherall was now halted at St. Hilaire, mine miles above St. Charles, wit a brigade, consisting of four companies of the [[1st Royals]], a detachment of the 66th Regiment (another company of the Royals followed from Chambly), with two six-pounders, and a detachment of Volunteer Cavalry. It was doubtful if he would come further after the retreat of Col. Gore; and indeed, from his report, his advance would appear another accident. Reports, coming from we know not where, informed us that the "Patriots" were armed in rear of Montreal, threatening the city, and that Chambly, St. John's, and all the country from thence to the lines, was in our hands. Disappointment soon followed. On Friday evening, an American arrived from [[wikipedia:St. Albans (town), Vermont|St. Albans]], to inform that Dr. Côté and the leaders of the county of Lacadie, with several of the prominent men from the Richelieu, from Montreal, and elsewhere, were there collecting munitions of war for invasion. Nelson and I thus found ourselves alone. Had our frontier friends staid at home, communication with the States would have been open for arms and munitions, which would assuredly have com in. The invasion from St. Albans was delayed too long. One day earlier it might have proved successful.
In the camp, or might be best called our enclosed, there were about eighty men, who bravely took their places behind the defences. There were more, I knew, in the village, one-third of a mile distant. They must be hurried up. Without an "[[wikipedia:Aide-de-camp|aide]]", I must go myself, thinking the time abundant. The fields were covered with men, women, and children, flying before the troops, from their deserted houses, and the more terrified as smoke and flames shot up from barns set on fire.
The last many of my men had seen of me was hurrying from front to rear, as fast as my weak state would permit. Just as I was turning to get back to camp, a stout ''habitant'' breathless, in his shirt sleeves, came running from above, to tell me that he was sent by the English commander ("General Anglais") to say that if we were dispersed, nobody should be harmed (This afterwards was corroborated by sworn testimony; and Col. [[Gugy]], accompanying the troops, told me it was he who sent him). Supposing by this that Col. Wetherall was pressed by "Patriots" in the rear, and was hurrying to Sorel, I sought fit person to carry back answer that if the troops laid down their arms, they would be allowed to proceed unmolested. This cause a few minutes, delay; he had to run for a coat; and but for this incident that day would probably have been my last. I had reached the ravine, within one minute ride from the camp, when one round-shot after the other buzzed past me down the road. Musketry was heard, and men falling back showed me their broken and useless arms. All appeared to be coming. My whole duty now was to endeavor to keep them together, and make face on a new front. Finding this was impossible, - for many would break for their homes, and that I remained unsupported, - my "occupation" at St Charles "gone", towards dusk, I joined Doctor Nelson at St. Denis.
With such disparity of forces, the affair was soon over. Two [[six-pounder guns]] firing short and grape, and near four hundred muskets, made short work with the handful in our camp; but the manly courage of these Canadians was of the highest order, when they opened fire and stood their ground till thirty three were left dead: - none wounded escaped. The names of all killed, which I have taken from the parish registers, do not quiet equal this number.
The troops lost, by the return made, 1 sergeant and 2 rank and file killed; 15 rank and file wounded. The Colonel's horse was shot dead. The horses of Major [[Ward]] and Captain [[David]] (cavalry) severely wounded. They did not advance below the camp till the next day, when they came into the village, and picked up a few villagers to be conducted to Montreal as prisoners.
The published reports announced a long, hard fought battled: I had fifteen hundred men, but ran away before the action commenced; and three hundred were killed on our side. A subsequent "official" report reduced them to one hundred and twenty-five. The first exaggeration was about ten times, - the last four: and this, I presume, is a fair specimen of the truthfulness of what we read of "battles" elsewhere. I was told the day following by some people near St. Denis, who did not know me, that the "general" had sold himself to the English, and run away to the States, with all the Patriot money.
It may well be asked what we expected to effect with such wretched preparations at St. Charles? I can only answer for myself, that, seeing the determined animation of the people, I thought the leaders would remain with them, and the raising of the "Patriot" flag at St. Charles, would be the signal for a general rising; that men and arms would flow in from the States, as into [[wikipedia:Texas|Texas]]; and that Sir John Colborne would evacuate Montreal for Quebec, leaving us all the country outside. Had there been the militia laws and military knowledge of to-day, this was easy. Then I thought we would in the winter send Commissioners to England, in mercantile phrase, "to make a settlement". Ours was simply a provincial war of factions. The "Bureaucrats" vanquished us, and the province had to wait a few years for a government based upon "the well-understood wishes of the people." Had we vanquished them, there would have been only a delay of a few months, with an immense saving to the British Government.
On Monday, the 27th, alarmed with a report that Col Wetherall would attack St. Denis, the place was evacuated. Dr. Nelson, the present Sir [[wikipedia:George-Étienne Cartier|George E. Cartier]], myself, and few others, passed the day seated very stupidly in a swamp, a few miles back from Richelieu. In the evening we learned that Wetherall was on the march back to Montreal, and the next day we returned to St. Charles and St. Denis. I had considered Wetherall's success at St. Charles of little moment, - only a "[[Lexington]];" and, if favored by the usual bad weather of the season, his command would be made prisoners before they recrossed the St. Lawrence. On the contrary, his success proved decisive.
We continued at St. Denis with a small armed party till 2nd December, when, on the second approach of Col. Gore, there was a second evacuation. Dr. Nelson, myself, and four others, passed over to St. Césaire in the night to take the woods. At the end of three days we got separated. I escaped after various vicissitudes, through the States; my companions were captured. The five hundred pounds rewards offered for Nelson's apprehension was paid; the same sum offered for mine still remains in the treasury. Soon learning the determination of the American authorities, I took no part with the "sympathizers." Leaving for the South, in the autumn of 1838, I only heard of that year's attempt at invasion from the States, at [[wikipedia:Key West, Florida|Key West]], after my return from [[wikipedia:Cuba|Cuba]]. In [[wikipedia:Florida|Florida]] I remained till the spring 1844; when, hearing that a ''[[wikipedia:Nolle prosequi|nolle prosequi]]'' had, unasked, been entered in my case, for what reason I never knew, I came back to Montreal, landing alone on the wharf; and, passing through the street, shook hand cordially and indiscriminately with old acquaintances, friends or foes, as though I had merely returned from a long journey. Our angry passages of the past were all turned to jokes and good fellowship, and so they have continued. (*)
THOMAS STORROW BROWN.
== Author's Notes ==
(1) This article was originally published in the ''New Dominion Monthly'', vol. IV, number one, April, 1869. It is now entirely out of the reach of nearly all of our readers. We thought it proper to reprint it, as it contains some interesting particulars in relation with the Rebellion of 1837.
The ''New Dominion Monthly'' has been founded in 1868, and has subsisted, I think, until 1873. It contains several important historical papers by Bourinot, LeMoine, Rev. Rand, and others. The complete fyle is scarce and worth to be kept in record. R. R.
<nowiki>*</nowiki> I have the materials for a history of 1837, that, with the documents, would fill two volumes, which I may never have time to prepare for publication. That a record of many things, now in the lapse of time only known to myself, may be preserved, I have sent this article to the ''Dominion Monthly''. It has been written off rapidly - the work of evenings and early mornings - in one week. - T.S.B.
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