December 31, 1775: General Montgomery falls at the Battle of Quebec

ROUND Quebec’s embattled walls
Moodily the patriots lay;
Dread disease within its thralls
Drew them closer day by day;
Till from suffering man to man,
Mutinous, a murmur ran.


Footsore, they had wandered far,
They had fasted, they had bled;
They had slept beneath the star
With no pillow for the head;
Was it but to freeze to stone
In this cruel icy zone?

Yet their leader held his heart,
Naught discouraged, naught dismayed;
Quelled with unobtrusive art
Those that muttered; unafraid
Waited, watchful, for the hour
When his golden chance should flower.

‘T was the death-tide of the year;
Night had passed its murky noon;
Through the bitter atmosphere
Pierced nor ray of star nor moon;
But upon the bleak earth beat
Blinding arrows of the sleet.

While the trumpets of the storm
Pealed the bastioned heights around,
Did the dauntless heroes form,
Did the low, sharp order sound.
“Be the watchword Liberty!”
Cried the brave Montgomery.

Here, where he had won applause,
When Wolfe faced the Gallic foe,
For a nobler, grander cause
Would he strike the fearless blow, —
Smite at Wrong upon the throne,
At Injustice giant grown.

“Men, you will not fear to tread
Where your general dares to lead!
On, my valiant boys!” he said,
And his foot was first to speed;
Swiftly up the beetling steep,
Lion-hearted, did he leap.

Flashed a sudden blinding glare;
Roared a fearsome battle-peal;
Rang the gloomy vasts of air;
Seemed the earth to rock and reel;
While adown that fiery breath
Rode the hurtling bolts of death.

Woe for him, the valorous one,
Now a silent clod of clay!
Nevermore for him the sun
Would make glad the paths of day;
Yet’t were better thus to die
Than to cringe to tyranny! —

Better thus the life to yield,
Striking for the right and God,
Upon Freedom’s gory field,
Than to kiss Oppression’s rod!
Honor, then, for all time be
To the brave Montgomery!

– Clinton Scollard

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