Read Through a Howling Wilderness: Benedict Arnold's March to Quebec, 1775 by Thomas A. Desjardin Online


In September 1775, eleven hundred soldiers boarded ships in Newburyport, bound for the Maine wilderness. They were American colonists who had volunteered for a secret mission to paddle and march nearly two hundred miles through some of the wildest country in the colonies and seize the fortress city of Quebec, the last British stronghold in Canada. The march, under the commIn September 1775, eleven hundred soldiers boarded ships in Newburyport, bound for the Maine wilderness. They were American colonists who had volunteered for a secret mission to paddle and march nearly two hundred miles through some of the wildest country in the colonies and seize the fortress city of Quebec, the last British stronghold in Canada. The march, under the command of Colonel Benedict Arnold, proved to be a tragic journey. Before they reached the outskirts of Quebec, hundreds died from hypothermia, drowning, small pox, lightning strikes, exposure, and starvation. The survivors ate dogs, shoes, clothing, leather, cartridge boxes, shaving soap, and lip salve. Their trek toward Quebec was nearly twice the length shown on their maps. In the midst of the journey, the most unlikely of events befell them: a hurricane. The rains fell in such torrents that their boats floated off or sunk, taking their meager provisions along, and then it began to snow. The men woke up frozen in their tattered clothing. One third of the force deserted, returning to Massachusetts. Of those remaining, more than four hundred were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. Finally, in the midst of a raging blizzard, those remaining attacked Quebec. In the assault, their wet muskets failed to fire. Undaunted, they overtook the first of two barricades and pressed on toward the other, nearly taking Canada from the British. Demonstrating Benedict Arnold's prowess as a military strategist, the attack on Quebec accomplished another goal for the colonial army: It forced the British to commit thousands of troops to Canada, subsequently weakening the British hand against George Washington. A great military history about the early days of the American Revolution, Through a Howling Wilderness is also a timeless adventure narrative that tells of heroic acts, men pitted against nature's fury, and a fledgling nation's fight against a tyrannical oppressor....

Title : Through a Howling Wilderness: Benedict Arnold's March to Quebec, 1775
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312339043
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Through a Howling Wilderness: Benedict Arnold's March to Quebec, 1775 Reviews

  • Dave Goldberg
    2018-09-23 02:28

    I enjoyed this shortish book. As opposed to some of the other accounts I've read, this book keeps a strict focus on Arnold's expedition through Maine, the siege of Quebec, and its ultimate failure. Desjardin makes extensive use of officers' journals, and other participants accounts to provide a living picture of the miserable adventure that Arnold and his men undertook in an attempt to capture Canada at the dawn of the American Revolution.Interesting is the epilogue where Desjardin muses over the "what ifs" had Arnold actually succeeded. Desjardin writes convincingly that Arnold's failure at Quebec helped set the course for success later in the war.If you are as obsessed by the misadventures of our country's early start as I am, this book is worth checking out.

  • Jerome
    2018-10-17 01:35

    A pretty good book about a more obscure part of our Revolutionary War.The Quebec invasion was actually an expedition at first and then a battle, and while Desjardin's handling of the battle is well written, his account of the expedition is sometimes dull and tedious and tends to bog down like the quagmire that he is describing. But, in all, I enjoyed the book. The book is very well researched, so much so that at some points it seems as if Desjardin wrote the story around the quotes, rather than using the quotes to back up his story.The story is very concise and well-written, but the pace at times gets pretty slow. ANd there are a few parts in the book that left me scratching my head. On page 112 after writing about the quagmire that the men had walked through with mud up to their knees, Desjardin writes “In ten hours, they had covered just 20 miles”. This is actually an incredible pace. 20 miles is a good day on a backpacking trip, so to cover that much in 10 hours through a quagmire is unbelievable. Did that really happen?The book is short (256 pages) but it is a complete and thorough treatment of the march of Benedict Arnold's troops to Quebec. The ordeal those men faced is almost indescribable, but Desjardin does an outstanding job of documenting it. It's no surprise at all that Arnold's command suffered extreme attrition along the way--men starved to death, died of exposure, and did desperate things just to stay alive.When they finally got to Quebec, the command's size had been sufficiently reduced by attrition that only a few hundred were left. Arnold's little army was nowhere near large enough to take the walled fortress town, but the intrepid Arnold elected to assault it anyway once he received reinforcements from Montgomery's army in Montreal. Montgomery was killed by a blast of grapeshot, Arnold was badly wounded in the leg, and virtually all of Arnold's little army was captured and taken prisoner. The military expedition failed miserably. All of the suffering was rendered fruitless as a result.At the same time, however, Desjardin points out that even though the expedition failed, it nevertheless directly led to the great American victory at Saratoga, which was largely attributed to Arnold's courage and heroism. It brought Arnold to the forefront, and set him up to play a huge role in the events of 1776. Arnold is, of course, reviled for his decision to cast his lot with the British. Because of that, it is easy to forget just how talented a natural soldier he was and just how large of a role he played in the ultimate success of the American Revolution. Ultimately, Arnold felt that he had been unfairly treated and that the time was not right to break with the Crown, and he has been cast as one of the great villains of American history as a consequence. Arnold's role in bringing about the ultimate American victory in the Revolution is only now being given the focus and credit that he deserves.On the positive side, the description of the battle is good, but what really saves the book is Dejardin's theory that the failure to seize Quebec actually helped to win the war. Desjardin's arguments backing this theory are very compelling. In all, probably the best book on the invasion of Canada.

  • Glenda
    2018-09-23 02:22

    still listening. Terrible fate of most of the soldiers, the painful trek with little to no food, shelter or clothing and I believe the battle was lost, anyway. Had they won, Quebec may have become the 14th colony. Bonjour.

  • Belva
    2018-10-18 23:07

    This was a fine book, but it could have been better with more background information on Arnold. It would've been interesting, if the writer had explored the influence his wife, Peggy Shippen, exerted on him and her link to Major Andre. I also found some of the content a bit redundant.

  • Iver Lofving
    2018-10-17 06:29

    The best book about Arnold's expedition to Quebec. It really takes you there, and if you are a history buff, you will love this one!

  • Nancy
    2018-10-12 22:22

    Through a Howling Wilderness is an almost unbelievable nonfiction book detailing the expedition of Benedict Arnold (in the days when he was America's most-admired general next to Washington)and more than 1100 soldiers who trekked across the state of Maine to capture British Quebec in 1775. There were no roads, virtually no trails, no settlements and no maps to follow. Only through the help of the shadowy Natanis, a Native American who knew the English language and was actually friends of the settlers, although the budding Americans had orders to shoot to kill him, did they survive at all and finally arrive exhausted, ill, hungry, ill-clothed and often unshod at the St. Lawrence River across from Quebec City. The more I read about the men and women who founded this great nation of America, the more amazed I am that her founding occurred at all. Many individuals gave up their lives, their limbs, their health, their fortunes to do what had to be done to break the bonds with England and accomplish the never-before-tried feat of breaking with a parent country and setting up a new, independent government. No one who volunteered for this mammoth undertaking had any idea how difficult it would be. None had imagined that Mother Nature could brew up such violent storms and such bitter cold. The colonists could easily have gone round and round in the swamps at the tops of the mountains and never broken out again, without the help of the native Natanis, who never showed himself to this army, but did leave written directions for the exhausted and frozen marchers, leading them along their way to Canada. Benedict Arnold was a gifted soldier -- many accounts bear that out. In the end, he betrayed the country he worked so hard to help found, for reasons not considered in this book. But he was faithful to the trust placed in him in 1775 to move an army of men across a wilderness, through lands of swamp in water and mud to their knees. Even the animals avoided that area at the tops of the northern Appalachians, causing many to die of starvation. Arnold managed to encourage his men and lead them finally to their goal. That he failed to conquer Quebec was not due to any fault of his own. It is most difficult to fight a walled city in a blizzard with soldiers who had very little artillery, no shoes or coats, who were sick with scurvy and starvation. But he did his best. I learned that this country of America, so dearly won, must be defended from all who would trample her freedoms by overt or covert means. Untold thousands of families gave nearly all that was precious to them to fight for the even more-precious liberty from oppression and the right to determine their own destiny. They gave their best for us, their descendants and later emigrants who would find safety and independence. We must gain as much understanding about the fundamentals of this nation as we can and then fight through the ballot and public service to retain these freedoms gained by those who could see the values of a free and independent land. America can only remain free if we fight to keep it so. This book is not an easy, soft read. It is grim and often I had to just steel myself to pick it up and continue reading when I would have preferred to read something fluffy and enjoyable. And, I admit, there were times when I could not summon the discipline to read it and thus set it aside for a little while until I was able to return to the sacrifices and hardships endured by men who had committed themselves to take on the challenge of wresting Canada from British hands. As we now know, they did not succeed, after all that they suffered. But in the end, Canada was not a threat to the American nation and the budding Americans did succeed in freeing herself from the British yoke. Reading Through a Howling Wilderness is a well-worth investment in time. Like the horrors of the Civil War, WWI and WWII, war is not nice. It is not fun. But sometimes it is necessary for the greater good. Books like this bear that out.

  • Brian
    2018-10-21 03:05

    Through a Howling Wilderness s is a straightforward account of the invasion of Canada conducted by the forces of the American Revolution. This was a multi-front assault on the city of Quebec and this book details Benedicts Arnold assault through the wilderness of Maine. Desjardin (who is primarily a historian of all things Maine) does an admirable job of putting the reader in the place of these troops as the trekked through snow, up mountains and wadded across near frozen rivers to their miraculous arrival at the gates of Quebec. The details of the assault and the ultimate failure are outlined well and the reversal that the Americans suffered made victory almost impossible. As Desjardin points out the only way to succeed would have been an immediate assault upon the arrival of Arnold's army and given their conditions and low supplies this was unlikely. As the British had time to reinforce, they were almost certain to overcome the Americans. None of this really matters as If eel the real contribution here to revolutionary historiography is that this assault did not need to succeed and won the revolution. By drawing British forces away from the colonies it allowed time for Washington and others to organize and train the army. Also the failure ensured that America would not have to defend Canada against a renewed British assault. If Canada had been taken British public opinion would have demanded swift action meaning a larger army to come and face the United States not only in the colonies but in Quebec and Montreal. Overall it is an excellent addition to revolution scholarship and well worth the time for a quick read.

  • Patience Thomas
    2018-10-01 01:23

    Through a Howling Wilderness by Thomas A. Desjardin is a thoroughly researched historical depiction of the harrowing march of Benedict Arnold's to Quebec in 1775. It is of particular interest as it takes the reader through Maine which at the time was part of Massachusetts. One can picture the trials and tribulations even more given the topography of the state. Seemingly insurmountable rigors were endured by these farmer colonialists. Not only did they have to haul and portage bateaux made of green wood but later they dragged cannons. They slogged through icy, cold rivers, swamps and lakes suffering from starvation and sickness. It was utterly amazing to read about the descriptions their lack of warm clothing in the bitter cold of winter and they were barefoot a great deal of the time. It's a wonder that more of them didn't turn back. Arnold is portrayed in history books as a traitor but he was indeed a hero who commands respect. As Desjardin states in his epilogue the charge on Quebec was unsuccessful on one hand but ultimately succeeded in diverting the British forces away from Boston or New York where Washington's army paved the way for the colonies in the 1776 and 1777. It describes the bigger picture of life in colonies and a follow-up to some of the men who were on Arnold's march. It is well worth reading to get a better appreciation of the comforts of our lives and the courage of the history makers in Maine.

  • Chris
    2018-10-13 00:16

    A book that tells you everything you wanted to know about a mission that could have changed history and nobody knows about it. It came so close to succeeding. Arnold was truly a phenomenal individual and it's sort of sad he is only remembered for being a traitor. He was instrumental in planning and executing this mission to capture Quebec and later with naval forces on Lake Champlain he delayed the British invasion. At Saratoga he was wounded and perhaps turned the tide in the battle by his attack. I'm going to have to read more about him. This book is more of an adventure story than a history but it is that as well. It reminded me of a similar expedition during the French and Indian War conducted by Rogers through forested terrain in Quebec in the middle of winter. I think Arnold's was tougher as he went through the Maine Wilderness. And Arnold had half his force rebel on him-the guys in the rear beat feet back home and George Washington put the commander up for court martial. Arnold got more respect from the British than from the other general officers in the Continental Army and I guess that explains what happened at West Point.

  • Tom Darrow
    2018-10-04 01:07

    A good book about a little known, yet very important campaign. In the early stages of the revolution, the American colonies created an ambitious plan to win the Canadian colonies over to their cause and potentially land a knock-out blow against the British. The campaign ran in to trouble from the beginning, getting delayed by weather. Later, the soldiers had to march across hundreds of miles of poorly mapped Maine marsh and forest before attacking the fortress city of Quebec in the middle of winter. Desjardin makes the argument that, paradoxically, America's ultimate failure to capture Quebec ultimately led to their victory in the revolution because British troops that could have been sent to attack Washington's army were sent to Canada instead to reinforce it against more attacks. Later, that army became the core of the British force that was defeated at Saratoga.The author makes good use of primary sources, but weaves them into the narrative in a seamless sort of way, while still allowing some of the passages to maintain their original charm (odd misspellings, etc).

  • Rachel
    2018-10-21 02:33

    A fascinating “untold” tale of the heroic mission to Canada's wilderness to cut off the British from the North and attempt to take over one of the greater North American British strongholds. Other than cringing at the sufferings the poor Colonial soldiers endured in Canada's bitterly cold wasteland of the time on the long march, I enjoyed reading this well-written epistle. {I also wish someone would write this as a historical fiction - it would make a great historical base for a fiction book that is much needed! ;)}

  • Rob
    2018-10-06 01:07

    Though most of our schools focus on Benedict Arnold's actions as a traitor later in the American Revolutionary War, his expedition to capture Quebec, though a failure, is full of determination, insight, and struggles with supply and personnel logistics and moral of the soldiers across a desolate region of the northeast and Canada. The most interesting part of the book is the struggle of Arnold's men in getting from the American colonies to Quebec, which is also the largest portion of the book, then the book becomes a bit tedious.

  • J
    2018-10-01 00:05

    If you've ever been hiking or camping in the Maine woods, you'll have a beginning of an understanding of what Benedict Arnold and his men went through on their famous march to Quebec. What they endured, though, was almost unendurable. Yet most of them survived to make it to Canada and one of the first campaigns of the American Revolution. A gripping story full of places and names most of us have heard of.

  • Bev
    2018-10-05 00:17

    This was a very good history but I found it a little tedious at times, especially after they had finished the amazing and terrible march. Would make a great movie but one that only history buffs would want to see, since it wouldn't end with the crowds cheering.

  • Lloyd Mustafa
    2018-09-27 04:20

    A wonderful account of the harrowing attack on Quebec by Benedict Arnold during the American Revolution. Bold and fearless in battle and campaign, Arnold was more than his two-dimensional image as a traitor. Above all this is a story of human survival on an unbelievably harsh journey.

  • David Fiske
    2018-10-18 05:10

    Easy to read. Offers some new information on the expedition.

  • Jenny
    2018-09-22 02:07

    Especially interesting to learn about early Maine colonists and settlements. Just make sure you're warm and fed when you read.

  • Claudette
    2018-09-24 23:18

    Quite well written and a fascinating look at Benedict Arnold and his leadership skills before he became a traitor to the American cause.

  • Guy
    2018-09-30 03:10

    I learned that I would probably not have done well on with Arnold's troops. A physically brutal trek, and a solid retelling of the event.

  • Beakerkin
    2018-10-10 04:19

    One should read this book before reading Arundel by Kenneth Roberts. It is short and well written and entertaining.

  • Yvonne Carter
    2018-09-27 06:19

    Benedict Arnold's expedition in 1775 from Maine to attack Quebec. Their trials on the way up and attacking, and the misfortunes.