Bidwell Lore – William Goodrich, Part V

Welcome to Bidwell Lore number 105! We continue our series on Captain William Goodrich and his time during the Revolutionary War.

In addition to his service at the Battle of Quebec, Goodrich was at the Battle of Ticonderoga in 1775 with Colonel John Paterson of Lenox (we wrote about him HERE in December 2021). Goodrich joined Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold, who managed to surprise the British, taking Ticonderoga and Crown Point. He was eventually discharged from the army on November 7, 1780. That he was listed as one of three Stockbridge town assessors in 1779 is a reminder that men often served intermittently over the course of the war.

A woodcut image of men behind a fort on the left firing cannons and men on the right shooting muskets from Battle of Fort Ticonderoga from. The Pictorial History of the United States by James D.McCabe,
Philadelphia: The National Publishing Company, 1877
Battle of Fort Ticonderoga from The Pictorial History of the United States by James D.McCabe,
Philadelphia: The National Publishing Company, 1877

The Letter below helps us understand the situation around Ticonderoga and what life was like for Goodrich during his time in the war.


In my last I wrote to you of the Northern Expedition; before this week ends, we are in raised hopes here of bearing that Ticonderoga and Crown Point are in our hands. Solomons [1], the Indian King of Stockbridge, was lately at Colonel Easton’s of this Town, and said there that the Mohawks had not only given liberty to the Stockbridge Indians to join us, but had sent a belt, denoting that they would hold five hundred men in readiness to join us immediately on the first notice; and that the said Solomons holds an Indian post in actual readiness to run with the news as soon as they shall be wanted. Those Indians would be of a great service to you should the King’s Troops march out of Boston, as some think they undoubtedly will upon arrival of their recruits, and give us battle. Our Militia this way, Sir, are vigorously preparing for actual readiness Adjacent Towns and this Town are buying arms and ammunition. There is a plenty of arms to be sold at Albany as yet; but we hear, by order of the Mayor, &c., no powder is at present to be sold there. The spirit of liberty runs high there, as you doubtless heard by their post to our Head Quarters. I have exerted myself to disseminate the same spirit in King’s District, which has of late taken a surprising effect. The poor Tories of Kinderhook are mortified and grieved, and are wheeling about, and begin to take the quick step. New – York Government begins to be alive in the glorious cause, and to act with great vigor.

            I fervently pray, Sir, that our Council of War may be inspired with wisdom from above, to direct the warlike enterprise with prudence, discretion, and vigor. O! may your councils and deliberations be under the guidance and blessing of Heaven! Since I began to write, an intelligent person who left Ticonderoga, Saturday before last, informs me, that having went through there and Crown Point about three weeks ago, all were secure; but on his return, found they were alarmed with our expedition, and would not admit him into those Forts; that there were twelve soldiers at Crown Point, and judged near two hundred at Ticonderoga; that those Forts were out of repair, and much in ruins; that it was his opinion our men would undoubtedly be able to take them; and that he met our men last Thursday, who were well furnished with cattle, and wagons laden with provisions, and in good spirits, who he supposed would arrive there last Sabbath day, and he doubted not but this week they would be in possession of those Forts. He informed them were they might obtain a plenty of ball; and there are cannon enough, at Crown Point which they cannot secure from us. That he saw the Old Sow, brought from Cape Breton, and a number of good brass cannon, at Ticonderoga. Should this expedition succeed, and should the Council of War send up their orders for the people this way to transport by land twenty or thirty of the best of the cannon to Head Quarters, I doubt not but the people in this country would do it with all expedition. We could easily collect a thousand yoke of cattle for the business.

 “Correspondence, Proceedings, & c., May 1775,” American Archives Consisting of a Collection of Authentick Records, State papers, Debates, and Letters and Other Notices of Publick Affairs, the Whole Forming a Documentary History of the Origin and Progress of the North American Colonies of the Causes and Accomplishments of the American Revolution; and of the Constitution of Government for the United States, to the Final Ratification Thereof (1833)[2]

A painting of English and American soldiers wearing heavy blue costs fighting with muskets and bayonets on the snow covered streets of Quebec during the Battle of Quebec in December of 1775.
Charles William Jefferys (1869-1951). Benedict Arnold’s column in fierce street fighting during the Battle of Quebec.
Cover art for The Father of British Canada: a Chronicle of Carleton, Volume 12, by William Wood, Public Domain,

Before we finish this installment, we wanted to share this not-so-flattering portrait of William Goodrich while he was in captivity in Quebec.

“The only mention of Goodrich in captivity is found in William Heth’s journal that presents a very negative portrait of Goodrich. Heth says he stole a watch from a local Canadian, which Daniel Morgan found out about and demanded that he return it. Heth describes the harsh language used by Morgan as ‘by G-d you shall.’ Goodrich still refused to give Morgan the watch. Morgan then told Goodrich ‘that if he did not deliver it up to Mr. Cunningham he wou’d take it from him and give him a damn’d flogging into the bargain.’ After more argument between the two men, Morgan grabbed Goodrich by the throat and he gave up the watch. Heth sums up Goodrich as follows, “I say that, many of us have entertained a worse opinion of him – than before – but, to increase that unfavorable opinion, a few days after, we were acquainted that, when he retreated to Point Aux Tremble — he led off a blooded colt, the property of Mr. Rich’d Murray – which he swap’d away for a horse & sent one of his soldiers home with him –This we look’d upon to be such a degree of baseness that he was treated with the utmost contempt whenever he came into our room.” [3]

Next week we will tell you about William Goodrich and his connection to Ethan Allen

1. Solomon Uhhaunnuhwaunnuhmut.
2. Transcribed from a book page provided by Bernie Drew 9-2-2021. Rick Wilcox.
3. Darley, Stephen. Voices From a Wilderness Expedition: The Journals and Men of Benedict Arnold’s Expedition to Quebec in 1775, 2011.