4. Arnold’s problems continued as the expedition moved upriver
Arnold’s men reached the area of Norridgewock Falls, where the last settlements on the Kennebec were found, on October 2, 1775. By then the Bateaux had revealed their shortcomings. Much of the food they carried was rotten from being continuously soaked, as were items of clothing worn by the men. Night temperatures had dropped to near freezing, and the cold, wet, and hungry men were prone to illness, including dysentery. It took the army a week to carry the boats and supplies across the portage around the falls. Dragging the Bateaux across the portage further weakened the poorly fed troops.
Once across the portage, the expedition headed for the next one, described by the name by which it was known and marked on the maps – the Great Carrying Place. Arnold and his men mostly assembled near the portage on October 11, after several days of heavy autumn rains. The rains not only increased the misery of the men. The Great Carrying Place was a sea of mud when they arrived, which made the Bateaux difficult to drag or carry. Feet slipped or were sucked into the deep mire, fingers were smashed by the slipping boats, bones were broken. As the men pushed forward, the cold rains turned freezing, supplemented by snow, and conditions continued to worsen.