The Battle of Quebec 1775

Battle: Quebec

War: American Revolution

Date: 31st December 1775

Place: Quebec , Canada.

Combatants: American troops attacked a force comprised of British recruits and Canadian volunteers.

The Death of General Montgomery during the attack on Quebec
Death of General Montgomery during the attack on Quebec

Generals: The Governor of Canada, Guy Carleton and Colonel Allen Maclean commanded the British forces and Major General Benedict Arnold and Brigadier Richard Montgomery commanded the American troops. Montgomery was a half pay British officer.

Size of the armies: Around 1,200 on each side.  Uniforms, arms and equipment: Each side wore whatever clothing was available to them, other than the small party of British recruits who may have been in uniform. Weapons were muskets and a few bayonets. The British had the benefit of the heavy guns on the city’s fortifications.

Winner: The British and Canadian garrison drove off the American attack and ended the threat to the British control of Canada.

British Regiments: It is unknown which regiments were represented in the garrison.

Account

While General Washington with the Continental Army was blockading Boston, Montgomery led an attack up the Lake Champlain route into Canada while Arnold took his force across country through Maine. The purpose of the invasion of Canada was in part to bring the Canadian population into the war on the American side.

Fort St John and Montreal were captured by the Americans. In late October 1775 Arnold arrived on Point Levis across the St Lawrence from Quebec , having lost a substantial part of his force on the punishing journey from New England. Maclean, hearing of Arnold’s arrival, force marched his recruits from Sorel to Quebec , being joined later by Carleton.

On 13th November 1775 Arnold took his force across the St Lawrence, climbed onto the Plains of Abraham and summoned the garrison to surrender or come out and fight. The garrison did neither. Arnold launched a night attack that was beaten back.

On 31st December 1775, with the addition of Montgomery’s troops, Arnold launched night attacks at either end of the city in a snowstorm. The garrison alerted by premature feint attacks on other parts of the city perimeter. Montgomery’s assault was repelled with heavy grapeshot and Montgomery was killed. Arnold’s attack penetrated the city wall but he was wounded. Maclean arrived from dealing with Montgomery’s assault and led the counter attack. The American troops who had penetrated the walls were captured and the assault was driven off.

Casualties: British and Canadian losses were 20. The American losses were around 500.

Brigadier Montgomery
Brigadier Montgomery

Follow-up: Following the battle the Americans withdrew from Canada and no further serious attempt to bring the Canadian population into the war on the American side was made.

Map of the Battle for Quebec
The Battle for Quebec

References:

  • History of the British Army by Sir John Fortescue
  • The War of the Revolution by Christopher Ward

 





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