By Pierre Beaudry
During the course of 1777, one year after the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, British General John Burgoyne, head of the British United Imperial Loyalists located in Canada, designed an ill-fated scheme to invade the American colonies from Quebec by moving south via Lake Champlain, capturing Ticonderoga, and attempting to isolate New England from the southern colonies by joining forces with another British army under General William Howe, Commander in chief of the British expeditionary forces in the American colonies, whom he expected to join coming from New York. His lack of understanding strategy, and his overconfident belief that he could win this war with superior forces, led him to be trapped, in fact, by superior American strategy.
Burgoyne, who was given a large army from England, committed what may have been the biggest blunder of the American Revolutionary War. He was led to believe that he would get the support of American Indians and of American Loyalists, but failed to realize that after a few nominal victories at Fort Ticonderoga, he was to be hemmed in by the superior strategy of American Major General Horatio Gates and General George Washington. After several attempts to break through the American lines at Saratoga, on October 17, 1777, Burgoyne was forced to surrender his whole army of 6, 200 British troops. That American victory proved to be a crucial turning point in the Revolutionary War. Four months later, France recognized the just cause of the American colonies and entered the war against the British on February 6, 1778.
Clément Gosselin was the principal French-Canadian leader who joined the American Revolution in order to upset the British war plans and tilt the balance in favor of George Washington.
Clément Gosselin joined the American Revolution in Quebec City after the Second Continental Congress had issued a letter inviting Canadians to join the American Revolution. Gosselin was recruited when the Continental Army invaded Quebec on December 31, 1775.
From the beginning of January 1777, Gosselin organized and recruited Canadians to join the Americans. On the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River, from Lauzon and Levis to Saint-Anne-de-la- Pocatière, Gosselin recruited about 150 volunteers to join the Congressional troops. According to a Canadian biography of Gosselin online; “Gosselin also called and presided over parish meetings for the election of militia officers, to whom he delivered Congressional commissions. Moreover, from the steps of the churches he read the orders and proclamations issued by the Americans, and he sometimes even forced the king’s officers themselves to read them. Together with Pierre Ayotte, a habitant from Kamouraska who was equally devoted to the revolutionary cause, Gosselin organized a system of bonfires, under close guard, to warn the Americans of any approaching British ships.” (Our Most Popular Biographies)
Figure 1 Cover of Henry Gosselin’s book.
In March of 1776, Gosselin became a captain in the Moses Hazen 2nd Canadian Regiment after he had recruited a group of about 150 pro-American Canadians who joined the Americans and defeated the pro-British Canadians at the Battle of Saint-Pierre, south of Quebec City. After the Congressional troops lifted the siege of Quebec and retreated south to New England, Gosselin did not follow his regiment, and instead, went underground for a period of fifteen months in order to recruit silently for the American effort.
In August of 1777, Gosselin sold his land, but was shortly later arrested and imprisoned in Quebec City. In the spring of 1778, Gosselin was liberated and rejoined his regiment at White Plains, New York, accompanied by his brother Louis and his father-in-law, Germain Dionne.
Figure 2 Movement of the Congress’s Own Regiment (COR) from Quebec City, (1775) to Yorktown, Va., (1781).
In 1778, the Hazen COR was given the task of opening a road for the purpose of invading Canada from Newbury VT., to the border of Quebec. This was part of Gosselin’s spying mission whose purpose was to spread the rumor of an imminent American invasion accompanied with French troops commanded by General Lafayette. This invasion never took place and, therefore, the strategy completely succeeded in confusing the newly appointed British Governor of Canada, Frederick Haldiman, who was afraid to see a majority of the French Canadians rally to the French troops in America.
That fear was based on George Washington’s recruiting Captain Clément Gosselin to be his primary spy whose role was to both evaluate the strength of the British forces north of the border, and disseminate in Canada the propaganda that the Americans were preparing an invasion via the same route that had proven fatal to Burgoyne. The road building from Vermont to Quebec was meant as a diversion to keep the British guessing. The Washington strategy was the same as the LaRouche strategy, today: the aim is recruiting Canadians to fight for their freedom alongside the Americans. The letter that Captain Gosselin wrote to General Washington to inform him of the Canadian situation is a true testimony to the superior strategy of George Washington and of the American System over the British Imperial System.
The story of Clément Gosselin’s participation in the American Revolution can be found in Henry Gosselin, GEORGE WASHINGTON’S French-Canadian SPY, in Pierre Beaudry, Clément Gosselin: Canadian Patriot and American Revolutionary, July 4th, 2007; Canada: Republic or Colony? The Committee for the Republic of Canada (CRC), and at http://www.amatterofmind.us/ under:CANADA: REPUBLIC OR COLONY?
The original French letter of the Gosselin brothers to George Washington can be found at the National Archives of the Rotunda University of Virginia Press: http://founders.archives.gov/. A copy of the original document can be found electronically incorporated in the item:TO GEORGE WASHINTGTON FROM BRIGADIER GENERAL JACOB BAYLEY, 23 NOVEMBER 1778, and is followed with two intelligence reports in French which I have also translated below. Gosselin was in Newbury Vt., when he wrote this letter to General Washington and was probably included in the diplomatic pouch of Jacob Bayley.
TO GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON
FROM BRIGADIER GENERAL JACOB BAYLEY
Newb[u]ry, [Vt]., November 23rd, 1778
Two Day Since Capt. Goslin Lt Goslin Capt. Travisie and Enoch Hall arrived here from Canada which Place they left the 4th Instant, Capt. and Lt Goslin from Laubener Eighteen Leagues from Quebeck, Capt Travisie and Enoch Hall from St Francois, thier accounts of the Scituation of affairs In Canada I inclose wrote by Capt. Goslin In French as I Apprehend the Truth would appear by their Verbal and writen account(1) – they all agree that the Numbers in Canada of Brittish force of all Sorts dos not ammount to more than 3700 men that not more than 700 had arrived in Canada the last Season nor Could any arrive after they left that Country as it froze Hard at that time, that the Canadians were generally In favour of our Cause that the Priests were Silent, one assisted them much, Chief of the Force in Canada is in the District of Monreal, and were fortifying at Sorel where Head Quarters were and many Barracks, that the Canadians are not Disarmed In general but are not Elowed to purchace any Amenition nor keep any without Special licence, they are Impatiently waiting for our Coming, they Say that four Hundred men will Cut of the Communication between Quebeck and Sorel if they fall in at St Nicolas(2) which is Eighteen miles below St Francois where the Communication is open from this Place, wheat Plenty at 5/ pr Bushel, Pork & beaf not So plenty but, they think Enough may be had for the army Mr Hall Is one of our Inhebitants and Gives the Same accounts as the French, assures me that the French are very friendly that he was in Company with french officers that was in the works at Sorel they tel him thier is but twenty Cannon a Small Fort and are making an Intrenchment from Sorel to the River St Laurance but no fortification on the two Sides next the River’s.
the Indians begin to Come, in and mean never to go to Canada untill the Brittish are drove out, Capt. Travisie has been of great Servise to us this is the fourth time he has been in Canada Sin<ce> he was drove out of that Country by the Brittish, also Joseph Lewes has assisted us very much I wish they might be Recommended to the Commander of the Expedition, I am with the Greatest Regard your Excelencys most obedient Humble Servant
(1) The enclosed letter from Capt. Clément and Lt. Louis Gosselin to “Son Excéllence L’honorable Géorge Washington Général en chef Detoutte L’amerique &&&,” dated “a Quas Ce 23 9bre 1778,”
“Comme ayant été deputé pour aller en Canada pour donner L’intelligence au Canadiens des nouvelles Certainnes de l’ameriques, et examiner ensuitte Ce quil Sy passoit, nous avons prie La Liberté de vous Les exposé, avec verité Sans aucun deguisement ny exagération.
“Le Contenu est, et de la façon que nous avont agit pour Les Savoir qu’etant arivé Le vinthuit d’octobre a l’abée St antoinne, nous nous Sommes informé ou étoit Les gardes afin de pouvoir agir a la cause pour laquel nous y’étions, Comme personnes ne vouloit dans aucune façons nous parler de Crainte des torés ni mesme nous donner aucune provision aussi par Crainte destre vue et découvert, mais les nouvelles que nous leurs avons anoncé de la Réunion de la france avec lamerique leurs a donné de la hardiesse pour nous donner des provissions, Cela étoit avec grand besoin car alors il y avoit trois jour que nous n’avions pas mengé.
“Quant il a été question de trouver des personnes pour decouvrir dévant nous ce Quil Se passoit afin de n’estre point surpris par les gardes pour aller jusqua l’aubinier a dishuit lieu de Québec, nous avons été dans l’obbligation de donner une Comission de Capt. a un nomé boiverd pour l’encouragér le Conoissant pour un homme de probité quil La accepté Comme venant de vostre Respectable part, Cette homme aussitost Remplie de Courage se voyant ainsi Revetue dès ordres de l’honorable Congréss nous a fourni les moyens pour avoir un découvreur pour marcher devant nous, Comme le jeune homme qui étoit pour faire Cette marche Cragnoit d’estre aresté nous Luy avont fait une passe du Général de la province par La quel il luy étoit permis d’aller oubon luy sembleroit, par Ce moyen nous Sommes parvenus de nous Rendres jusque chez Monsieur gaciens Curé de l’aubinier, la étant, je luy ai demandé les nouvelles quil pouvoit y avoir Savoir le nombres des troupes le nom des Generaux et de la justice ainsi que du Reste, par le quel je l’ai prié de me donner le total de mes demande par Écrit mais quil ne les signeroit pas, de crainte que Nous ne fussions prit il m’en a donné un en Ces termes pour que je ne fusse point inquietté, ny luy nonplus Si aucas jusse été pris.
“il ne me reste plus que trois milles livres, et Sept Cent que je pourai trouver de nouvéau, Quand aureste, il ne m’est pas possible, D’en faire Davantage je n’ai que quatre ou Cinq amis qui ne sont pas fort puissant et ne me peuvent, estre plus utils, que je ne Leurs puis estres, Messieurs Maban, donne [Dunn], et panet, sont dans le Cas dans faire, mais ces pour eux et non pour moy.
“En voicis l’explication
“Les trois milles livres dont il parle, Ce sont trois mille hommes, pour les armes, et Les autres Sept cens livres, est le Renfort qui est venu Cette anné en Canada, donc il ne Luy est pas possible d’enfaire d’avantage. Cest adire que tant que toré Royaliste et troupes quil ne sont que trois milles sept cens homes, les quatres ou Cinq amis quil a Ce sont de messieurs de la Robe qui tienne pour les ameriquains, et donc tous le clergée est a L’encontre, Monsieur Mabon &c. sont les noms des juges de Quebec, la ou il dit quil sont dans le Cas d’en faire, mais pour eux et non pour luy, Cest adire quil font Ce Quil peuvent pour gagner Les Canadiens, mais Quils ne le peuvent pas, par ce quils sont Dans une tres Bonne disposition pour joindre avec L’amerique, quoy quils se plaignent quil sont embandoné a la fureur de tous leurs ennemis, et Quils souffres les peinnes les plus Languissantes en esperant leurs delivrance, ne desirent Que l’arivée des ameriquains, afin de pouvoir estre armée Pour donner assistance, a leurs Libérateurs, Car ils ne leurs est pas permis d’avoir ny poudre ni bal Sous peinne de punitions Corporels, Ces Ce quils espêre avec L’armée quil doit y penetrer, quils leurs porteront toutte Les munitions necessaire pour Combatre, Ceux qui les font souffrir avec tant de rigeur, les meaux les plus facheux, la joie quils auroit alors, Leurs feroit oublier toutte Les peinnes quils ont enduré, sous la tirannie de l’anglois. il est Certain q’au quatre de novembre que nous avons partie de Canada quil ny avoit que le nombres des trouppes Cidessus mentioné, l’on tien Cela pour Certain parceque attendu que C’est sortie de la propre bouche des juges de Quebec, nous pouvont assurer avec Certitudde, quil n’est point arivé d’autre Renfort en Canada depuis nostre départ, Car yl y avoit Dejas des glaces quant nous en sommes partie, a moins que ce ne fut quelque extraordinairre, ce seroit alors Ce que l’on auroit jamais vue sils enfusent venu apres nostre depart, par Ce quil n’attendoit aucun securs Cette autonne de plus il est partie de Québec trentre Cinq navir qui sont chergé ditons du milleur bagage du pays, et quil s’envont a londres.
“vostre Exelence aura syl vous plais la bonté d’accepter nostres humbles Respest en vous supliant tres humblement d’avoir pitié deux et d’avoir la bonte de Nous accorder vostre protections Car nous avons appris en Canada que tous nos biens étoit saisie et que nos familles étoit à lamandicite et a la mercie dumonde Nous ne Cesseront de prier dieu pour vostre Concervations afin quil benisse Les armes de L’ameriques et tous les Généraux qui les Gouverne Les plus soumis De vos serviteurs”.
Appended to the Gosselins’ letter is a “Rèponse des Observations que nous devions faires en Canada,” signed by them and reading:
“A savoir ils Sont au nombres de trois milles Sept Cents hommes tant que trouppes Reglée toré et Royalistes, cela est Sortie, de La bouche des juges qui en Conversant avec monsieur gacien, Luy ont assurè Ce Cis pour Certain, et veritable.
“ils Sont venus Cette anné au nombres de Sept Cens, qui est le surplus des trois milles Sans en attendre d’autres Cette anné.
“les trouppes en canada Sont dans un tres movais état, surtout ceus qui Sont a St françois a l’abée St antoine et a nicollet, qui est le Regiment du Colonel Bernard, ils Sont presque nue, et Sans couverte ils Sont chez les habitans depuis St françois jusqua nicollette tant au Sud q’au nort au nombres de cinq Cent, et dans la ville de quebec l’on fait nombre de Soixante a quatrevint hommes de trouppes.
“Les Canadiens qui Sont Sous les armes n’ont point été forcé ils y Sont de bonne volontée a la Reserve de ceus qui y Sont pour les Corvèe.
“Ses toré Canadiens Sont dans la Croyance que les ameriquains n’entrerons jamais en Canada ou que S’yl parvienne a y entrer, quil Seront encore des mieux venu disant quil deffende leur bien et quil Soutienne les intérest d’une Couronne Sans vouloir Croire que la françe porte Secour a lamerique, a cette effest, ils s’efforce a faire de leurs pis, et a s’enrichir au dépend de Ceus qui favorise le partie de la liberté et les font souffrir les indignitée les plus grandes et les charges de traveaux pour le Servise duroy afin de les faire périr, le clergé de Son Coté qui est apuyé par les puissances Britaniques Se font une gloire de tiraniser avec toutte la Rigeur dont ils sont Capable ceus quil traitte de rebels, et d’indigne destre a la Compagnie d’aucune honeste gens, a la Reserve de trois pere jesuistes, et de deux prestres, qui Sont, lepere la Brosse, le pere floquette, le perre germain, Monsieur trutau Curé de la paroisse de Kamouraska, e monsieur gacien Curè de la paroise de l’aubinier tous messieurs qui Se Sont Comporté avec des Sentiments due a leurs etat.
“Les Sauvages du Canada Sont dans une tres bonne dispositions pour les ameriquains, L’on ne fait nombres que de cinq du village St françois quil Sont torè, encore ne le Seroit yl pas, S’il n’etoit soulvé par les Canadiens torè qui les font peur ainsidire marcher Comme malgré eus et Comme par force.
“Le Général est monsieur harguiman, Son aide de Camp, C’est monsieur de lanoyer, le gouverneur est Monsieur tramahé [Cramahé], monsieur <can>ot est celuy qui donné l’indice de faire les ordres et pour les faire éxécuter avec toutte les cruautées imaginables, les nom des juges Sont Messieurs donne [Dunn], maban, Wlliam, panêt, et Monsieur boissèau greffiè.
“Les Blaid Sont a trois chelin édemis et quatres chelin.
“il y a des paroise qui ont été désarmé et d’autres qui ne l’ont point été les on disent quils avoit des ordres les autres disent le Contraire mais yl est bien Certain que les paroises audebas de Québec ont été désarmé entierement, mais C’etoit les Capitainnes qui le fesoit de leurs chef Sans ordre.
“les Canadiens, Ceus qui Soutienne pour l’amerique, qui est la plus forte partie, Sont dans une grande inquiétude, il Seroit bien tous charmé de joindre avec l’amerique, mais la crainte quils ont que les ameriquains ne puisse pas parvenir de les Soulager les empêchent d’eclatter, il murmure beaucoup que les nouvelles que l’on leur porte que Ce Sont des fauseté et disent que depuis le tempt que lon les f<ait> esperer Leur délivrance quil Croyent que Cest pour semoquer d’eus, et que les ameriquains ne Sont pas Si Soutenu quil Le disent, mais cependant la joie quils ont de Savoir que la françe est Reunie avec l’amerique leurs donne une bonne idée de La Réusitte des ameriquains”.
Also appended are the following observations by Capt. Joseph Traversie:
“Le Capt traversi apres avoir été arivé en canada a éxaminé jusqua sorel Ce qui Sy passoit yl Raporte que les anglois ont bâtit Soixante et dis maisons pour loger les troupes, et deus hongar de Cens pié chaque pour y mettre Des provisions en outre quils ont fait un Retranchement d’une Riviere a l’autre avec des forteresse.
“un nomé dépin luy a dit quil avoit été comendé dans cent Cinquante voitures avec Cinquante bateau pour aller a St jean, chacun murmure que Ces pour en decendre les munitions.
“il est partie aussi de laurel en deus brigade Six cens hommes pour aller du coté de St jean mais L’on ne sai pas pour quoy Cependant, on luy a assurè quil étoit arivé a montréal Cinquante blessé anglois dont on ne Sai pas d’ou il vienne, lon pense que ces deus brigade Sont en marche pour aller donner quelque Renfort.
“a St françois yl ny a que quarante hommes de trouppes Reglée pour y faire La garde tant a labée St antoine, a nicollette, a ma chiche a la pointe du lac et au trois Riviere, yl ne Sont Que cinq cent hommes qui est le Regiment du colonel Bernerd.
“De plus on luy a assuré qui Sont les voyageurs mesme qui ont été mener les Sauvages, que les anglois avait fait decendre de michel makina pour frapper Sur les ameriquains, mais quand yls ont été a montréal le gènèral harguiman n’a pas trouvé a propos de S’en Servir ils Luy on Rèpond que puis quil les avoit fait venir pour faire la guer quil vouloit la fairre que si ce n’etoit pas aus ameriquains que ce Seroit Sur eux ou quil leur donneroit cent piastres a chacun d’eus et quils étoit sept Cens homes quil faloit quil les fit Remener a leurs village, Messieurs les anglois on voulu faire les Resolu, mais les sauvages on comencé par en tuer trois ou quatres et il auroit Certainnement détruit tous le montréal Si pour les adoucir il ne euse pas chargé depresent, et tous ce quil demandoit afin de les apéser et pour S’endébarasser au plus vite, et les mesme voyageurs ont assurè, que les ilinois étoit prie et le detroit, et la barque qui voyage de michelmakina au dètroit Ces Ce quils ont assuré.
“Le pere germain qui est Curé a St françois luy a dit quil etoit Certain que les forteresse que les anglois fesoit a sorel, que C’etoit Simplement pour faire paroitre quil fesoit leurs possibles pour garder le canada, afin de fairre paroistre de tel depense au Roy, et que sitost quil voiroit paroistre les ameriquains quils ambandonneroit tous cela.
“En outre un nomé la grave marchand autrois Rivierre dit avoir vue embarquer dans les navirs tous les Canons qui venoit de St jean et quil Les envoyoit a Londres”.
Clément Gosselin (1747–1816) and his brother Louis Gosselin (1744–1823), both of Quebec, were among the small number of Canadians who supported the American attack on that place in December 1775. During the first half of 1776, Clément served as a recruiter and propagandist for the revolutionary cause in Canada. In March 1776 he was appointed a captain in Col. Moses Hazen’s 2d Canadian Regiment, but he spent much of the next eighteen months in hiding before being captured and imprisoned by the British in Quebec toward the end of 1777. Gosselin was released and rejoined his regiment at White Plains, N.Y., in the spring of 1778, and over the following two years he frequently snuck back into Canada to prepare the road for an American invasion that never came. He was wounded at the Battle of Yorktown in October 1781, and after leaving the army in June 1783 he settled for a time near Lake Champlain before returning to Canada in 1791, where he remained for the rest of his life. “Laubener” is Lotbinière, on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River about thirty-five miles southwest of Quebec. Enoch Hall (1736–1806) served during the war as lieutenant of a small party of rangers raised by Vermont for the defense of the frontier; in 1785 he became one of the pioneer settlers of Isle La Motte on Lake Champlain.
(2) St. Nicolas is on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River about ten miles southwest of Quebec.
End of the Bayley report.
CAPTAIN CLEMENT GOSSELIN AND LIEUTENANT LOUIS GOSSELIN
TO HIS EXCELLENCY, THE HONORABLE GEORGE WASHINGTON, COMMANDING OFFICER OF ALL OF AMERICA, November 23, 1778.
Since we have been deputized by you to come to Canada and to give intelligence to the Canadians as to the latest news from America, and have been asked to report back to you on the situation in Canada, we have taken the liberty to expose to you the whole truth plainly and without any exaggeration.
When we arrived at Saint-Antoine-Abbé (on the Richelieu), on October 28, 1778, our purpose was to find out where the guards were located so that we could act in accordance with your plan [for an invasion of Canada]. Even though no one wanted to speak to us in any way for fear of the Tories nor would give us provisions, also for fear of being observed and discovered; nevertheless, the news we gave them of the alliance that France was making with America finally gave them the courage to give us some provisions. This was much needed since we had had nothing to eat for three days.
When the time came for us to find people to tell us the situation that we faced so that we would not be recognized by the guards on our way to Lotbinière at eighteen leagues from Quebec City, we had to give a commission of Captain to a Mr. Boisvert in order to recruit him. We knew him to be a man of integrity, and he respectfully accepted the commission as if it came from you, and immediately, filled with courage as he considered that he had been vested with the powers of the honorable US Congress, he helped us to recruit a pathfinder to scout for us. But, because the young man who was to scout for us was afraid to be caught, we managed to get him a free pass from the Governor of the province which gave him the right to go anywhere he wished to go. Thus, we managed to arrive at Monsieur Gacien, the parish priest of Lotbinière.
Once there, I asked him what news he had about the number of troops, the names of the Generals, the head of the court system, and the rest of the information, which I asked him to give me in writing, but without his signature, in case we were to be caught. He agreed to write this report under these conditions so he would not have to worry if ever I got caught. Here it is:
“I only have three thousand pounds left and seven hundred more that I could find. As for the rest, it is not possible for me to do more, I only have four or five friends who are not very powerful and who are not more useful to me than I am for them. They are Mr. Maban, Mr. Dunn, and Mr. Panet, [qui sont dans le cas d’en faire), who are in a situation of hell, but for themselves and not for me.”
Let me explain. The three thousand pounds refers to three thousand armed soldiers, and the other seven hundred pounds refer to the soldiers in reserve who came to Canada this year. It is not possible that there be a greater number than that. This means that the number of Tories or Royalists and their military force does not exceed three thousand seven hundred men. As for the four or five friends he has, they are judges and magistrates who are waiting for the Americans to come; and therefore, the whole clergy is against them. Mr. Mabon and the others are judges in Quebec City, where he said they are in a situation of hell, doing the best they can for themselves, but not for him. In other words, they are doing all they can to help the Canadians, but they are not successful, because they are getting ready to join the Americans.
Although they complain that they have been abandoned to the fury of their enemies and that they are suffering terrible pains while waiting to be rescued, they only desire to see the Americans arrive so that they can be given arms to support their liberators, because they have been forbidden to have any ammunition under pain of physical punishment.
What they hope is that the invading army will bring them all of the necessary ammunitions to fight those who are making them suffer the worst pains. The joy they will then be filled with will make them forget all of the sufferings they were made to endure under the tyranny of the English.
We are certain that when we left Canada on November 4th, there was no greater number of troops than we have mentioned above. We hold that to be certain because we got it directly from the mouth of the Quebec City judges. We can assure you, with certainty, that no other fresh supply of troops have entered Canada since our departure, because there was already ice on the rivers when we left. It would be an extraordinary occurrence if new troops were to have arrived after our departure, something never seen, because no new reinforcement was expected last fall, when thirty five ships were said to have left Quebec City harbor loaded with the best merchandise of the country in destination for London.
Please, your Excellency, accept our most humble respects in begging you to have pity on them and to give us your protection, because we have learned that all of our belongings had been seized in Canada and our families have been reduced to mendacity and are at the mercy of everyone. We will not cease to pray God to protect you and that he bless the arms of America and all of the generals that lead them. The most humble of your servants.
Signed: Captain Clément Gosselin and Lieutenant Louis Gosselin.
Appended to the Gosselin brothers’ letter is a “RESUME OF OBSERVATIONS BROUGHT BACK FROM CANADA”, and signed by them. It reads as follows:
From a conversation that Mr. Gacien had with the judges of Quebec City, we have been given the total assurance that there are three thousand seven hundred regular Tory and Royalist troops in Canada. Aside from the seven hundred troops who came this year to be added to the three thousands already on duty, there is not expectation of any new ones this year.
The Canadian troops are in bad shape, especially those located at Saint-François, at Saint-Antoine-Abbé, and at Nicollet. They are the Regiment of Colonel Bernard, almost naked and without shelter. There are about five hundred lodged at farmers’ homes from Saint-François all the way to Nicolet, on the South as well as on the North side. In Quebec City, there are another sixty to eighty troops.
The Canadians who are in arms have not been forced to take them, and they have voluntarily accepted to serve in the reserve to those who are the regular forces.
The Canadian Tories believe that Americans will never invade Canada, and that if they were ever to do, they would welcome them to defend their own property and the interests of the Crown, and they don’t believe the French will ever help America. To that effect, they attempt to challenge them to do their worst and to get rich on the backs of those who chose the party of liberty, and put on them the most undignified sufferance and forced them to labor in the service of the King until exhausted to death.
On the other hand, the Clergy, who is supported by the British rulers, makes it a point of glory to severely tyrannize those they consider to be rebels and refuse to be in their company, at the exception of three Jesuits, two regular priests who are, Father LaBrosse, Father Floquette, Father Germain, Father Trutau, parish priest of Kamouraska, Mr. Gacien, parish priest of Lotbinière, all gentlemen who have behaved according to their standing.
The Indians of Canada in favor of the Americans. There are only five who are Tories from the village of Saint-François, but who would not obey the Canadian Tories if they were not forced, and to follow their dictates against their own will.
The General is Mr. Harguiman and his Aide de Camp is Mr. De Lanoyer. The Governor is Mr. Cramahé; Mr. Canot is the one who set up the code for the distribution of orders and their executions with unimaginable cruelties. The names of the judges are Mr. Dunn, Maban, William, Panet, and Mr. Boisvert clerk. The wheat is three shillings and a half to four shillings.
There are parishes which have been disarmed and others not. Some say that they have been ordered to disarm and other say no. What is certain is that the parishes west of Quebec City have been entirely disarmed, but it was done by the Captains, doing it on their own without general orders.
The Canadians who support America, which is the majority, are very worried. They would like to join the Americans, but their fear that the Americans will not succeed in helping them prevents them from coming out openly. There are rumors to the effect that the news of their liberation is false, that they are being duped with false hopes, and that the Americans are not supported by the Canadians as much as they think. However, the joy they get at the news that France is joining America gives them a good idea of how America can succeed.
Also appended are the following observations by Capt. Joseph Travisie:
After arriving in Canada, Captain Travisie made a reconnaissance up to Sorel and he reported back that the English have built seventy houses for their troops and two sheds of a hundred feet in length each for their provisions, and that they have built entrenchments on both shores including fortifications.
A Mr. Dépin told him that the word is circulating about an order of a hundred and fifty carts with fifty boats that had been commandeered to carry ammunitions. Also, two brigades of six hundred men have left Sorel in the direction of Saint-Jean, no one knows why. However, it was also confirmed to him that fifty wounded Englishmen, no one knows from where, had been brought to Montreal. People say the two brigades have been deployed as reinforcement.
At Saint-François, there are only forty regular troops to mount guard. As for Saint-Antoine-Abbé, Nicollet, Yamachiche, Pointe du Lac, and Trois–Rivières, they have only a five hundred men regiment led by Colonel Bernard.
Captain Travisie was also given the names of the Voyageurs who led the Indians that the English had asked to come from the MichelmakinaAlgonquin tribe (misimikkinak, Lake Michigan Western Algonquin term meaning “big turtle.”) to attack the Americans. But, when the Indians were taken to Montréal, General Harguiman did not see fit to use them. He was told that since the English had brought them there to make war they had replied that if they had to make war, they would do it against anyone but not against Americans, that that they would rather make war against them [the English] unless the seven hundred Indians that came were paid one hundred dollars each and were brought back to their village. The English tried to persuade them by force, but the Indians started to kill three of four of them. They would have destroyed them all throughout Montreal if, in order to appease them, the English had not decided to lavish them with presents and give them all they wanted in order to get rid of them as soon as possible. The same Voyagers assured them that the Illinois Indians were taken, and the Detroit and the traveling conditions from Michelmakina to the Detroit was not accessible.
Father Germain who is the parish priest of Saint-François, told him that he was convinced that the fortification the English were building in Sorel was simply to make believe that they were doing their best to protect Canada and justify the expense in the eyes of the King. But, that they were ready to abandon all of this as soon as they saw the Americans coming.
Finally, Mr. Lagrave, a merchant from Three Rivers, said he saw all of the cannons stationed at Saint-Jean being loaded onto ships and that they were being shipped to London.