Oct. 26, 1775: Benedict Arnold’s northbound wilderness expedition to Quebec conducts a 10-mile portage of heavy boats and supplies connecting a series of Maine ponds to reach the Height of Land, from which his men can descend to waterways flowing toward the St. Lawrence River and the British fortress they intend to attack.

“We advanced on the Portage about 3 miles this evening (at Dusk) much fatigued,” Arnold writes in his journal. “The whole of our baggage did not arrive until very late, & we made it near midnight before we could pitch our tents; the whole distance today abt 10 miles.”

A few days later, the undertaking becomes even more miserable when about 4 inches of snow falls and Arnold’s men become lost and disoriented while trying to walk around the swampy edges of Spider Lake, which is named that because its many streams and extensions are reminiscent of a spider’s legs.

Having lost many of their supplies, the men are starving. Two officers approach a fire with about a dozen men sitting around it, and they realize the men are devouring another officer’s Newfoundland dog.

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 islandportpress.com. To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]

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