178 MILITARY HISTORY OF CANADA
reached de Salaberry just in time, having done 190 miles by water and land in sixty hours actual marching—a forced march unequalled during the war.
De Salaberry now had an army of a little over 900 men, including fifty Indians under Captain Lamothe. It is worthy of note that de Salaberry's force, with the exception of Lieut.-Col. Macdonell, Captain Ferguson, three or four others, and the Indians, was entirely composed of French Canadians—and gallantly they acquitted them-selves.
On the night of October 25th, Hampton sent Purdy with over 1,500 men across the Chateauguay to the south side with instructions to proceed to the ford that had been located on de Salaberry's left flank. The water in the Chateauguay was low, and the river could easily be crossed. Hampton had instructed Purdy to attack at daybreak. He also instructed General Izard, an officer with experience in both European and American wars, to fall simultaneously on the British front with a force of about 3,000 men. Izard was to be in position to make his attack as soon as he heard firing. But the darkness that was to conceal Purdy's advance favoured the British. The American leader lost his way, and did not reach the ford until it was almost noon.
De Salaberry had drawn up his men in a thick wood, having on his left the Chateauguay river. The ford that Purdy was seeking was guarded by a strong breastwork. At this breastwork, to prevent the American troops taking the ford by surprise, there had been placed a picked body of Beauharnois militia. These men had had no experience in war and were without uniforms, but they were excellent shots, and being under cover could be trusted to give a good account of themselves.
After waiting for several hours for the sound of firing, General Izard became impatient and advanced to the attack along the left bank of the river. When his overwhelmingly large force neared the first line of defences the Canadian militia fired a few shots and then retired behind