Sept. 19, 1775: With the Revolutionary War having begun the previous spring, Col. Benedict Arnold sets sail from Newburyport, Massachusetts, with his expeditionary force bound for Quebec City.

The Arnold Expedition has been waiting for three days, delayed by unfavorable wind and then the accidental grounding of one of Arnold’s ships in the channel to the sea.

Fishermen aboard two small vessels tell Arnold they have seen no trace of enemy British ships in the area, which comforts the commander somewhat. When they arrive the next morning at the mouth of the Kennebec River, only eight of the 11 ships in the fleet are still together.

The group sails up Maine’s Kennebec River; acquires flat-bottomed bateaux, vessels that – fatefully – are constructed of unseasoned wood; then endures weeks of dragging its weapons, supplies, equipment and the leaky, disintegrating bateaux though the Maine wilderness before their unsuccessful attack on the British fortifications at Quebec in December.

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]

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