[Extracts of Letters from Quebec and Montreal.]
Quebec, July 15. The commercial world is flourishing here, but in political matters, I am sorry to say, we are sadly in the back ground. The old defensive system is still adhered to, and, I fear much, with all our reinforcements, we shall do little good till we have another commander in chief. There is now a great body of regular troops in this country, and a handful of brave fellows have recently been almost sacrificed par la petite guerre at Chippawa, whilst, in the lower province, there are at least 10,000 regulars doing nothing.
Some of the officers of the regiments lately arrived from France do not conceal their sentiments– On inspecting one of the regiments the other day, our chief took occasion, as usual, to make some remarks on the cut of the men’s clothes, when the Colonel commanding stepped forward and told him plainly, that such systems were now completely exploded–that he had had the honour of serving very lately under a much more celebrated
General that it was probable he would ever serve under again–that his men had been accustomed to fight, not to dance ; and if such was the plan he was called on to follow, he should certainly retire from the service. Such language you may suppose was not very pleasing to our Governor ; but I am happy to find that we now have military men amongst us, who are not afraid to speak out ; as it appears the numberless representations of civilians are not much attended to.
Montreal, July 14. I consider this country now as perfectly secure against any attempts that the Americans may make, not withstanding the system of our chief does not seem to be changed. He has received a great many more troops this year than he had any idea of, and does not seem pleased at having so large a force unhis command, as the country will now look to him for some offensive operation against the enemy. He has done nothing the whole summer but parade about 6000 men at Chambly, where he makes them march past him twice a-week, bowing and scraping, instead of employing them where they ought to be.
You will have heard of an American army of about 6000, under General Jacob Brown, having crossed the river at Fort Erie, when General Rial, with a force of 1500 only, gallantly assailed them but was overpowered by numbers, and sustained considerable loss. I inclose a general order published yesterday about this unfortunate business, whereby you will find that our loss has been great.
Upon this frontier the Americans have hardly any force, and it appears very singular indeed, that so great a body of men, as are now on the other side of the river, from Sorel to Isle Aux Noix, at least 10,000 men, should be left for the purpose of parade, when they are so much wanted in the upper province.
I sincerely hope that some investigation will take place into this business, as it is really disgraceful to think that such an enemy should be able to make an attack upon us with impunity.
Citation: Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh, United Kingdom), 12 September 1814, available at the Scissors and Paste Database, http://www.scissorsandpaste.net/113.