Invasion of Canada (1775)
Overview
 
The Invasion of Canada in 1775 was the first major military initiative by the newly formed Continental Army
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

 during the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. The objective of the campaign was to gain military control of the British Province of Quebec
Province of Quebec (1763-1791)
The Province of Quebec was a colony in North America created by Great Britain after the Seven Years' War. Great Britain acquired Canada by the Treaty of Paris when King Louis XV of France and his advisors chose to keep the territory of Guadeloupe for its valuable sugar crops instead of New France...

, and convince the French-speaking Canadiens to join the revolution on the side of the Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

. One expedition left Fort Ticonderoga
Fort Ticonderoga
Fort Ticonderoga, formerly Fort Carillon, is a large 18th-century fort built by the Canadians and the French at a narrows near the south end of Lake Champlain in upstate New York in the United States...

 under Richard Montgomery
Richard Montgomery
Richard Montgomery was an Irish-born soldier who first served in the British Army. He later became a brigadier-general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and he is most famous for leading the failed 1775 invasion of Canada.Montgomery was born and raised in Ireland...

, besieged and captured Fort St. Johns
Fort Saint-Jean (Quebec)
Fort Saint-Jean is a fort in the Canadian La Vallée-du-Richelieu Regional County Municipality, Quebec located on the Richelieu River. The fort was first built in 1666 by soldiers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment and was part of a series of forts built along the Richelieu River...

, and very nearly captured British General Guy Carleton
Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester
Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, KB , known between 1776 and 1786 as Sir Guy Carleton, was an Irish-British soldier and administrator...

 when taking Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

. The other expedition left Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...

 under Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold V was a general during the American Revolutionary War. He began the war in the Continental Army but later defected to the British Army. While a general on the American side, he obtained command of the fort at West Point, New York, and plotted to surrender it to the British forces...

, and traveled with great difficulty through the wilderness of Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

 to Quebec City
Quebec City
Quebec , also Québec, Quebec City or Québec City is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec and is located within the Capitale-Nationale region. It is the second most populous city in Quebec after Montreal, which is about to the southwest...

.
Encyclopedia
The Invasion of Canada in 1775 was the first major military initiative by the newly formed Continental Army
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

 during the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. The objective of the campaign was to gain military control of the British Province of Quebec
Province of Quebec (1763-1791)
The Province of Quebec was a colony in North America created by Great Britain after the Seven Years' War. Great Britain acquired Canada by the Treaty of Paris when King Louis XV of France and his advisors chose to keep the territory of Guadeloupe for its valuable sugar crops instead of New France...

, and convince the French-speaking Canadiens to join the revolution on the side of the Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

. One expedition left Fort Ticonderoga
Fort Ticonderoga
Fort Ticonderoga, formerly Fort Carillon, is a large 18th-century fort built by the Canadians and the French at a narrows near the south end of Lake Champlain in upstate New York in the United States...

 under Richard Montgomery
Richard Montgomery
Richard Montgomery was an Irish-born soldier who first served in the British Army. He later became a brigadier-general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and he is most famous for leading the failed 1775 invasion of Canada.Montgomery was born and raised in Ireland...

, besieged and captured Fort St. Johns
Fort Saint-Jean (Quebec)
Fort Saint-Jean is a fort in the Canadian La Vallée-du-Richelieu Regional County Municipality, Quebec located on the Richelieu River. The fort was first built in 1666 by soldiers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment and was part of a series of forts built along the Richelieu River...

, and very nearly captured British General Guy Carleton
Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester
Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, KB , known between 1776 and 1786 as Sir Guy Carleton, was an Irish-British soldier and administrator...

 when taking Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

. The other expedition left Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...

 under Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold V was a general during the American Revolutionary War. He began the war in the Continental Army but later defected to the British Army. While a general on the American side, he obtained command of the fort at West Point, New York, and plotted to surrender it to the British forces...

, and traveled with great difficulty through the wilderness of Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

 to Quebec City
Quebec City
Quebec , also Québec, Quebec City or Québec City is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec and is located within the Capitale-Nationale region. It is the second most populous city in Quebec after Montreal, which is about to the southwest...

. The two forces joined there, but were defeated at the Battle of Quebec
Battle of Quebec (1775)
The Battle of Quebec was fought on December 31, 1775 between American Continental Army forces and the British defenders of the city of Quebec, early in the American Revolutionary War. The battle was the first major defeat of the war for the Americans, and it came at a high price...

 in December 1775.

Montgomery's expedition set out from Fort Ticonderoga
Fort Ticonderoga
Fort Ticonderoga, formerly Fort Carillon, is a large 18th-century fort built by the Canadians and the French at a narrows near the south end of Lake Champlain in upstate New York in the United States...

 in late August, and began besieging Fort St. Johns, the main defensive point south of Montreal, in mid-September. After the fort was captured in November, Carleton abandoned Montreal, fleeing to Quebec City
Quebec City
Quebec , also Québec, Quebec City or Québec City is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec and is located within the Capitale-Nationale region. It is the second most populous city in Quebec after Montreal, which is about to the southwest...

, and Montgomery took control of the city before heading for Quebec with an army much reduced in size by expiring enlistments. There he joined Arnold, who had left Cambridge in early September on an arduous trek through the wilderness that left his surviving troops starving and lacking in many supplies and equipment.

These forces joined before Quebec City in December, where they assaulted the city
Battle of Quebec (1775)
The Battle of Quebec was fought on December 31, 1775 between American Continental Army forces and the British defenders of the city of Quebec, early in the American Revolutionary War. The battle was the first major defeat of the war for the Americans, and it came at a high price...

 in a snowstorm on the last day of the year. The battle was a disastrous defeat for the Americans; Montgomery was killed and Arnold wounded, and the city's defenders suffered few casualties. Arnold then conducted an ineffectual siege on the city, during which Loyalist
Loyalist (American Revolution)
Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to the Kingdom of Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. At the time they were often called Tories, Royalists, or King's Men. They were opposed by the Patriots, those who supported the revolution...

 sentiments were boosted by successful propaganda campaigns, and General David Wooster
David Wooster
David Wooster was an American general who served in the French and Indian War and in the American Revolutionary War. He died of wounds sustained during the Battle of Ridgefield, Connecticut. Cities, schools, and public places were named after him...

's blunt administration of Montreal served to annoy both supporters and detractors of the Americans.

The British
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 sent several thousand troops, including General John Burgoyne
John Burgoyne
General John Burgoyne was a British army officer, politician and dramatist. He first saw action during the Seven Years' War when he participated in several battles, mostly notably during the Portugal Campaign of 1762....

 and Hessian mercenaries, to reinforce those in the province in May 1776. General Carleton then launched a counter-offensive, ultimately driving the smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

-weakened and disorganized American forces back to Fort Ticonderoga. The Americans, under Arnold's command, were able to hinder the British advance sufficiently that an attack could not be mounted on Fort Ticonderoga in 1776. The end of the campaign set the stage for Burgoyne's campaign of 1777
Saratoga campaign
The Saratoga Campaign was an attempt by Great Britain to gain military control of the strategically important Hudson River valley in 1777 during the American Revolutionary War...

 to gain control of the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

 valley.

Naming

The objective of the American military campaign, control of the British province of Quebec
Province of Quebec (1763-1791)
The Province of Quebec was a colony in North America created by Great Britain after the Seven Years' War. Great Britain acquired Canada by the Treaty of Paris when King Louis XV of France and his advisors chose to keep the territory of Guadeloupe for its valuable sugar crops instead of New France...

, was frequently referred to as "Canada" in 1775. For example, the authorization by the Second Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...

 to General Philip Schuyler
Philip Schuyler
Philip John Schuyler was a general in the American Revolution and a United States Senator from New York. He is usually known as Philip Schuyler, while his son is usually known as Philip J. Schuyler.-Early life:...

 for the campaign included language that, if it was "not disagreeable to the Canadians", to "immediately take possession of St. John's
Fort Saint-Jean (Quebec)
Fort Saint-Jean is a fort in the Canadian La Vallée-du-Richelieu Regional County Municipality, Quebec located on the Richelieu River. The fort was first built in 1666 by soldiers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment and was part of a series of forts built along the Richelieu River...

, Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, and any other parts of the Country", and to "pursue any other measures in Canada" that might "promote peace and security" of the colonies. Even relatively modern history books covering the campaign in detail refer to it as Canada in their titles (see references). The territory that Britain called Quebec was in large part the French
French colonization of the Americas
The French colonization of the Americas began in the 16th century, and continued in the following centuries as France established a colonial empire in the Western Hemisphere. France founded colonies in much of eastern North America, on a number of Caribbean islands, and in South America...

 province of Canada
Canada, New France
Canada was the name of the French colony that once stretched along the St. Lawrence River; the other colonies of New France were Acadia, Louisiana and Newfoundland. Canada, the most developed colony of New France, was divided into three districts, each with its own government: Quebec,...

 until 1763, when France ceded it to Britain in the 1763 Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Paris (1763)
The Treaty of Paris, often called the Peace of Paris, or the Treaty of 1763, was signed on 10 February 1763, by the kingdoms of Great Britain, France and Spain, with Portugal in agreement. It ended the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War...

, which formally ended the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

. (French leaders had surrendered the province to the British military in 1760.) The name "Quebec" is used in this article, except in quotations that specifically mention "Canada", to avoid confusion between this historic usage, and usage with respect to the modern nation of Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

.

Background

In the spring of 1775, the American Revolutionary War began with the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The conflict was then at a standstill, with the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 surrounded by colonial militia in the siege of Boston
Siege of Boston
The Siege of Boston was the opening phase of the American Revolutionary War, in which New England militiamen—who later became part of the Continental Army—surrounded the town of Boston, Massachusetts, to prevent movement by the British Army garrisoned within...

. In May 1775, aware of the light defenses and presence of heavy weapons at the British Fort Ticonderoga
Fort Ticonderoga
Fort Ticonderoga, formerly Fort Carillon, is a large 18th-century fort built by the Canadians and the French at a narrows near the south end of Lake Champlain in upstate New York in the United States...

, Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold V was a general during the American Revolutionary War. He began the war in the Continental Army but later defected to the British Army. While a general on the American side, he obtained command of the fort at West Point, New York, and plotted to surrender it to the British forces...

 and Ethan Allen
Ethan Allen
Ethan Allen was a farmer, businessman, land speculator, philosopher, writer, and American Revolutionary War patriot, hero, and politician. He is best known as one of the founders of the U.S...

 led a force of colonial militia
Patriot (American Revolution)
Patriots is a name often used to describe the colonists of the British Thirteen United Colonies who rebelled against British control during the American Revolution. It was their leading figures who, in July 1776, declared the United States of America an independent nation...

 that captured Fort Ticonderoga
Capture of Fort Ticonderoga
The Capture of Fort Ticonderoga occurred during the American Revolutionary War on May 10, 1775, when a small force of Green Mountain Boys led by Ethan Allen and Colonel Benedict Arnold overcame a small British garrison at the fort and looted the personal belongings of the garrison...

 and Fort Crown Point
Fort Crown Point
Crown Point, was a British fort built by the combined efforts of both British and Provincial troops in North America in 1759 at narrows on Lake Champlain on the border between modern New York State and Vermont...

, and raided Fort St. Johns
Fort Saint-Jean (Quebec)
Fort Saint-Jean is a fort in the Canadian La Vallée-du-Richelieu Regional County Municipality, Quebec located on the Richelieu River. The fort was first built in 1666 by soldiers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment and was part of a series of forts built along the Richelieu River...

, all of which were only lightly defended at the time. Ticonderoga and Crown Point were garrisoned by 1,000 Connecticut militia under the command of Benjamin Hinman
Benjamin Hinman
Colonel Benjamin Hinman was a US soldier and member of the Connecticut Legislature.-Biography:He was born to Benjamin Hinman Colonel Benjamin Hinman (January 22, 1719 – March 22, 1810) was a US soldier and member of the Connecticut Legislature.-Biography:He was born to Benjamin Hinman Colonel...

 in June.

Congressional authorization

The First Continental Congress
First Continental Congress
The First Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from twelve of the thirteen North American colonies that met on September 5, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early in the American Revolution. It was called in response to the passage of the Coercive Acts by the...

, meeting in 1774, had previously invited the French-Canadians to join in a second meeting of the Congress to be held in May 1775, in a public letter dated October 26, 1774. The Second Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...

 sent a second such letter in May 1775, but there was no substantive response to either one.

Following the capture of Ticonderoga, Arnold and Allen noted that it was necessary to hold Ticonderoga as a defense against attempts by the British to militarily divide the colonies, and also noted that Quebec was poorly defended. They each separately proposed expeditions against Quebec, suggesting that a force as small as 1200–1500 men would be sufficient to drive the British military from the province. Congress at first ordered the forts to be abandoned, prompting New York and Connecticut to provide troops and material for purposes that were essentially defensive in nature. Public outcries from across New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 and New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 challenged the Congress to change its position. When it became clear that Guy Carleton, the governor of Quebec, was fortifying Fort St. Johns, and was also attempting to involve the Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

 in upstate New York in the conflict, Congress decided that a more active position was needed. On June 27, 1775, Congress authorized General Philip Schuyler
Philip Schuyler
Philip John Schuyler was a general in the American Revolution and a United States Senator from New York. He is usually known as Philip Schuyler, while his son is usually known as Philip J. Schuyler.-Early life:...

 to investigate, and, if it seemed appropriate, begin an invasion. Benedict Arnold, passed over for its command, went to Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 and convinced General George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 to send a supporting force to Quebec City
Quebec City
Quebec , also Québec, Quebec City or Québec City is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec and is located within the Capitale-Nationale region. It is the second most populous city in Quebec after Montreal, which is about to the southwest...

 under his command.

Defensive preparations

Following the raid on Fort St. Johns, General Carleton was keenly aware of the danger of invasion from the south, and requested, without immediate relief, reinforcements from General Thomas Gage
Thomas Gage
Thomas Gage was a British general, best known for his many years of service in North America, including his role as military commander in the early days of the American War of Independence....

 in Boston. He set about raising local militias to aid in the defense of Montreal and Quebec City, which met with only limited success. In response to the capture of Ticonderoga and the raid on Fort St. Johns, he sent 700 troops to hold that fort on the Richelieu River
Richelieu River
The Richelieu River is a river in Quebec, Canada. It flows from the north end of Lake Champlain about north, ending at the confluence with the St. Lawrence River at Sorel-Tracy, Quebec downstream and northeast of Montreal...

 south of Montreal, ordered construction of vessels for use on Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain is a natural, freshwater lake in North America, located mainly within the borders of the United States but partially situated across the Canada—United States border in the Canadian province of Quebec.The New York portion of the Champlain Valley includes the eastern portions of...

, and recruited about one hundred Mohawk
Mohawk nation
Mohawk are the most easterly tribe of the Iroquois confederation. They call themselves Kanien'gehaga, people of the place of the flint...

 to assist in its defense. He himself oversaw the defense of Montreal, leading only 150 regulars, since he relied on Fort St. Johns for the main defense. The defense of Quebec City he left under the command of Lieutenant-Governor Cramahé
Hector Theophilus de Cramahé
Hector Theophilus de Cramahé , born Théophile Hector Chateigner de Cramahé, was Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Quebec, and titular Lieutenant Governor of Detroit....

.

Negotiations for Indian support

Guy Johnson
Guy Johnson
Guy Johnson was an Irish-born military officer and diplomat for the Crown during the American War of Independence. He had migrated to the Province of New York as a young man and worked with his uncle, Sir William Johnson, British Superintendent of Indian Affairs of the northern colonies. He was...

, a Loyalist
Loyalist (American Revolution)
Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to the Kingdom of Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. At the time they were often called Tories, Royalists, or King's Men. They were opposed by the Patriots, those who supported the revolution...

 and British Indian agent living in the Mohawk Valley in New York, was on quite friendly terms with the Iroquois of New York, and was concerned for the safety of himself and his family after it became clear that Patriot sentiment had taken hold in New York. Apparently convinced that he could no longer safely conduct Crown business, he left his estate in New York with about 200 Loyalist and Mohawk supporters. He first went to Fort Ontario
Fort Ontario
Fort Ontario is a historic fort situated by the City of Oswego, in Oswego County, New York in the United States of America. It is owned by the state of New York and operated as a museum known as Fort Ontario State Historic Site....

, where, on June 17, he extracted from Indian tribal leaders (mostly Iroquois and Huron) promises to assist in keeping supply and communication lines open in the area, and to support the British in "the annoyance of the enemy". From there he went to Montreal, where, in a meeting with General Carleton and more than 1,500 Indians, negotiated similar agreements, and delivered war belts "to be held ready for service". However, most of those involved in these agreements were Mohawks; the other tribes in the Iroquois Confederacy largely avoided these conferences, seeking to stay neutral. Many of the Mohawk remained in the Montreal area after the conference; however, when it seemed uncertain whether the Americans would actually launch an invasion in 1775, most of them had returned home by the middle of August.

The Continental Congress sought to keep the Six Nations
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

 out of the war. In July 1775, Samuel Kirkland
Samuel Kirkland
Rev. Samuel Kirkland was a Presbyterian missionary among the Oneida and Tuscarora people in North America. Kirkland graduated from Princeton in 1765. On September 20, 1769, Samuel Kirkland married Jerusha Bingham in Windham, Connecticut...

, a missionary who was influential with the Oneidas, brought to them a statement from Congress that "we desire you to remain at home, and not join either side, but to keep the hatchet buried deep." While the Oneidas and Tuscaroras remained formally neutral, many individual Oneidas expressed sympathy with the rebels. News of Johnson's Montreal meeting prompted General Schuyler, who also had influence with the Oneidas, to call for a conference in Albany
Albany, New York
Albany is the capital city of the U.S. state of New York, the seat of Albany County, and the central city of New York's Capital District. Roughly north of New York City, Albany sits on the west bank of the Hudson River, about south of its confluence with the Mohawk River...

, to be held in mid-August. Attended by about 400 Indians (primarily Oneidas and Tuscaroras, and only a few Mohawk), Schuyler and other Indian commissioners explained the issues dividing the colonies from Britain, emphasizing that the colonists were at war to preserve their rights, and were not attempting conquest. The assembled chiefs agreed to remain neutral, with one Mohawk chief saying, "It is a family affair" and that they would "sit still and see you fight ... out". They did, however, extract concessions from the Americans, including promises to address ongoing grievances like the encroachment of white settlers on their lands.

Montgomery's expedition


The primary thrust of the invasion was to be led by General Schuyler, going up Lake Champlain to assault Montreal and then Quebec City. The expedition was to be composed of forces from New York, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, as well as the Green Mountain Boys
Green Mountain Boys
The Green Mountain Boys were a militia organization first established in the 1760s in the territory between the British provinces of New York and New Hampshire, known as the New Hampshire Grants...

 under Seth Warner
Seth Warner
Seth Warner was born in Roxbury, Connecticut. In 1763, he removed with his father to Bennington in what was then known as the New Hampshire Grants. He established there as a huntsman....

, with provisions supplied by New York. However, Schuyler was overly cautious, and by mid-August the colonists were receiving reports that General Carleton was fortifying defensive positions outside Montreal, and that some Native tribes had joined with the British.

Approach to St. Johns

On August 25, while Schuyler was at the Indian conference, Montgomery received word that ships under construction at Fort St. Johns were nearing completion. Montgomery, taking advantage of Schuyler's absence (and in the absence of orders authorizing movement), led 1,200 troops that had mustered at Ticonderoga up to a forward position at Île aux Noix
Ile aux Noix
Île aux Noix is an island on the Richelieu River in Quebec, close to Lake Champlain. The island is the site of Fort Lennox National Historic Site. Politically, it is part of Saint-Paul-de-l'Île-aux-Noix.-Background:...

 in the Richelieu River
Richelieu River
The Richelieu River is a river in Quebec, Canada. It flows from the north end of Lake Champlain about north, ending at the confluence with the St. Lawrence River at Sorel-Tracy, Quebec downstream and northeast of Montreal...

, arriving September 4. Schuyler, who was falling ill, caught up with the troops en route. He dispatched a letter to James Livingston
James Livingston (American Revolution)
Colonel James Livingston was born in the French province of Canada to New York-born parents. He was living in Quebec when the American Revolutionary War broke out...

, a Canadian prepared to raise local militia forces in support of the American effort, to circulate in the area south of Montreal. The next day, the forces went down the river to Fort St. Johns
Fort Saint-Jean (Quebec)
Fort Saint-Jean is a fort in the Canadian La Vallée-du-Richelieu Regional County Municipality, Quebec located on the Richelieu River. The fort was first built in 1666 by soldiers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment and was part of a series of forts built along the Richelieu River...

, where, after seeing the defenses and a brief skirmish in which both sides suffered casualties, they withdrew to Île aux Noix. The skirmish, which involved mostly Indians on the British side, was not supported from the fort, prompting the Indians to withdraw from the conflict. Any additional Indian support for the British was further halted by the timely arrival of Oneidas in the area, who intercepted a Mohawk war party on the move from Caughnawaga toward St. John's. The Oneidas convinced the party to return to their village, where Guy Johnson, Daniel Claus
Daniel Claus
Christian Daniel Claus was a commissioner of Indian affairs and a prominent Loyalist during the American Revolution.He was born September 13, 1727 at Bönnigheim, Württemberg the son of Adam Frederic Claus and his wife Anna Dorothea. He arrived in America in 1749...

, and Joseph Brant
Joseph Brant
Thayendanegea or Joseph Brant was a Mohawk military and political leader, based in present-day New York, who was closely associated with Great Britain during and after the American Revolution. He was perhaps the most well-known American Indian of his generation...

 had arrived in an attempt to gain the Mohawks' assistance. Refusing to meet directly with Johnson and Claus, the Oneidas explained to Brant and the Mohawks the terms of the Albany agreement. Brant and the British agents left without any promises of support. (In a more formal snub of the British, the war belt that Guy Johnson gave to the Iroquois in July was turned over to the American Indian commissioners in December 1775.)

Following this first skirmish, General Schuyler became too ill to continue, so he turned command over to Montgomery. Schuyler left for Fort Ticonderoga several days later. After another false start, and the arrival of another 800–1000 men from Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York, as well as some of the Green Mountain Boys, Montgomery finally began besieging Fort St. Johns on September 17, cutting off its communications with Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

 and capturing supplies intended for the fort. Ethan Allen was captured the following week in the Battle of Longue-Pointe
Battle of Longue-Pointe
The Battle of Longue-Pointe was an attempt by Ethan Allen and a small force of American and Quebec militia to capture Montreal from British forces on September 25, 1775, early in the American Revolutionary War. Allen, who had been instructed only to raise militia forces among the local inhabitants,...

, when, overstepping instructions to merely raise local militia, he attempted to take Montreal with a small force of men. This event resulted in a brief upturn in militia support for the British; but the effects were relatively short-lived, with many deserting again in the following days. After an attempt by General Carleton to relieve the siege failed on October 30, the fort finally surrendered on November 3.

Occupation of Montreal begins

Montgomery then led his troops north and occupied Saint Paul's Island
Nuns' Island
Nuns' Island is an island that forms a part of the city of Montreal, Quebec. It is part of the borough of Verdun.-Geography:The 3.74 km² island is part of the Hochelaga Archipelago in the St. Lawrence River...

 in the Saint Lawrence River on November 8, crossing to Pointe-Saint-Charles
Pointe-Saint-Charles
Pointe-Saint-Charles is a neighbourhood in the borough of Le Sud-Ouest in city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.-Geography:...

 on the following day, where he was greeted as a liberator. Montreal fell without any significant fighting on November 13, as Carleton, deciding that the city was indefensible (and having suffered significant militia desertion upon the news of the fall of St. Johns), withdrew. He barely escaped capture, as some Americans had crossed the river downstream of the city, and winds prevented his fleet from departing right away. When his fleet neared Sorel, it was approached by a boat carrying a truce flag. The boat carried a demand for surrender, claiming that gun batteries downstream would otherwise destroy the convoy. Based on uncertain knowledge of how real these batteries were, Carleton elected to sneak off the ship, after ordering the dumping of powder and ammunition if surrender was deemed necessary. (There were batteries in place, but not nearly as powerful as those claimed.) On November 19, the British fleet surrendered; Carleton, disguised as a common man, made his way to Quebec City. The captured ships included prisoners that the British had taken; among these was Moses Hazen
Moses Hazen
Moses Hazen was a Brigadier General in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Born in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, he saw action in the French and Indian War with Rogers' Rangers. His service included particularly brutal raids during the Expulsion of the Acadians and...

, a Massachusetts-born expatriate with property near Fort St. Johns whose poor treatment by the British turned him against them. Hazen, who had combat experience in the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

 and went on to lead the 2nd Canadian Regiment
2nd Canadian Regiment
The 2nd Canadian Regiment, also known as Congress' Own or Hazen's Regiment, was authorized on January 20, 1776, and raised in the province of Quebec for service with the Continental Army under the command of Colonel Moses Hazen. All or part of the regiment saw action at the Staten Island,...

 throughout the war, joined Montgomery's army.

Before departing Montreal for Quebec City, Montgomery published messages to the inhabitants that the Congress wanted Quebec to join them, and entered into discussions with American sympathizers with the aim of holding a provincial convention for the purpose of electing delegates to Congress. He also wrote to General Schuyler, requesting that a Congressional delegation be sent to take up diplomatic activities.

Much of Montgomery's army departed due to expiring enlistments after the fall of Montreal. He then used some of the captured boats to move towards Quebec City with about 300 troops on November 28, leaving about 200 in Montreal under the command of General David Wooster
David Wooster
David Wooster was an American general who served in the French and Indian War and in the American Revolutionary War. He died of wounds sustained during the Battle of Ridgefield, Connecticut. Cities, schools, and public places were named after him...

. Along the way, he picked up James Livingston
James Livingston
James Livingston may refer to:*James Livingston , Bishop of Dunkeld*James Livingston, 1st Earl of Callendar , army officer who fought on the Royalist side in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms....

's newly created 1st Canadian Regiment
1st Canadian Regiment
The 1st Canadian Regiment, was raised by James Livingston to support Colonial efforts in the American Revolutionary War during the invasion of Quebec...

 of about 200 men.

Arnold's expedition

Benedict Arnold, who had been rejected for leadership of the Champlain Valley expedition, returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...

, and approached George Washington with the idea of a supporting eastern invasion force aimed at Quebec City. Washington approved the idea, and gave Arnold 1,100 men, including Daniel Morgan
Daniel Morgan
Daniel Morgan was an American pioneer, soldier, and United States Representative from Virginia. One of the most gifted battlefield tacticians of the American Revolutionary War, he later commanded troops during the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion.-Early years:Most authorities believe that...

's riflemen, for the effort.

Arnold's expedition was a success in that he was able to bring a body of troops to the gates of Quebec City
Quebec City
Quebec , also Québec, Quebec City or Québec City is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec and is located within the Capitale-Nationale region. It is the second most populous city in Quebec after Montreal, which is about to the southwest...

. However, the expedition was beset by troubles as soon as it left the last significant outposts of civilization in present-day Maine. There were numerous difficult portage
Portage
Portage or portaging refers to the practice of carrying watercraft or cargo over land to avoid river obstacles, or between two bodies of water. A place where this carrying occurs is also called a portage; a person doing the carrying is called a porter.The English word portage is derived from the...

s as the troops moved up the Kennebec River
Kennebec River
The Kennebec River is a river that is entirely within the U.S. state of Maine. It rises in Moosehead Lake in west-central Maine. The East and West Outlets join at Indian Pond and the river then flows southward...

, and the boats they were using frequently leaked, spoiling gunpowder and food supplies. The height of land between the Kennebec and the Chaudière River
Chaudière River
The Chaudière River is a long river with its source near the Town of Lac-Mégantic, in southeast Quebec, Canada. From its source Lake Megantic in the Chaudière-Appalaches region, it runs northwards to flow into the St. Lawrence River opposite Quebec City...

 was a swampy tangle of lakes and streams, where the traversal was complicated by bad weather, resulting in one quarter of the troops turning back. The descent down the Chaudière resulted in the destruction of more boats and supplies as the inexperienced troops were unable to control the boats in its fast-moving waters.

By the time Arnold reached the outskirts of civilization along the Saint Lawrence River
Saint Lawrence River
The Saint Lawrence is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin...

 in November, his force was reduced to 600 starving men. They had traveled almost 400 miles through untracked wilderness. When Arnold and his troops finally reached the Plains of Abraham
Plains of Abraham
The Plains of Abraham is a historic area within The Battlefields Park in Quebec City, Quebec, that was originally grazing land, but became famous as the site of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which took place on 13 September 1759. Though written into the history books, housing and minor...

 on November 14, Arnold sent a negotiator with a white flag to demand their surrender, but to no avail. The Americans, with no cannons, and barely fit for action, faced a fortified city. Arnold, after hearing of a planned sortie
Sortie
Sortie is a term for deployment or dispatch of one military unit, be it an aircraft, ship, or troops from a strongpoint. The sortie, whether by one or more aircraft or vessels, usually has a specific mission....

 from the city, decided on November 19 to withdraw to Pointe-aux-Trembles
Neuville, Quebec
Neuville is a village on the north shore of the Saint Laurence River, just west of Quebec City, part of the Portneuf Regional County Municipality, Quebec, Canada. It was founded in 1684, and has remained quite picturesque throughout these years....

 to wait for Montgomery, who had recently captured Montreal. As he headed upriver, Carleton returned to Quebec by river following his defeat at Montreal.

On December 2, Montgomery finally came down the river from Montreal with 500 troops, bringing captured British supplies and winter clothing. The two forces united, and plans were made for an attack on the city. Three days later the Continental Army again stood on the Plains of Abraham
Plains of Abraham
The Plains of Abraham is a historic area within The Battlefields Park in Quebec City, Quebec, that was originally grazing land, but became famous as the site of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which took place on 13 September 1759. Though written into the history books, housing and minor...

 and began to besiege the city of Quebec.

Battle and siege of Quebec

While planning the attack on the city, Christophe Pélissier, a Frenchman living near Trois-Rivières, came to meet with Montgomery. Pélissier, who was politically supportive of the American cause, operated an ironworks
Forges du Saint-Maurice
Forges du Saint-Maurice , just outside of Trois-Rivières, Quebec, is a National Historic Site of Canada, and birthplace of the country's iron industry....

 at Saint-Maurice
Saint-Maurice, Quebec
Saint-Maurice is a parish municipality in the Mauricie region of the province of Quebec in Canada.-Demographics:Population trend:* Population in 2006: 2338 * Population in 2001: 2292* Population in 1996: 2295...

. Montgomery discussed the idea of holding the provincial convention with him. Pélissier recommended against holding a convention until after Quebec City had been taken, as the habitants would not feel free to act in that way until their security was better assured. The two did agree to have Pélissier's ironworks provide munitions for the siege, which he did until the Americans retreated in May 1776 (at which time Pélissier also fled, eventually returning to France).

Montgomery joined Arnold and James Livingston in an assault on Quebec City during a snowstorm on December 31, 1775. Outnumbered and lacking any sort of tactical advantage, the Americans were soundly defeated by Carleton. Montgomery was killed, Arnold was wounded, and many men were taken prisoner, including Daniel Morgan
Daniel Morgan
Daniel Morgan was an American pioneer, soldier, and United States Representative from Virginia. One of the most gifted battlefield tacticians of the American Revolutionary War, he later commanded troops during the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion.-Early years:Most authorities believe that...

. Following the battle, Arnold sent Moses Hazen and Edward Antill
Edward Antill
Colonel Edward Antill was an American soldier. He was born in Piscataqua, New Jersey and died at Saint-Jean, near Montréal, in Canada...

, another expatriate American, to report the defeat and request support to Wooster in Montreal, and also to the Congress in Philadelphia.

Carleton chose not to pursue the Americans, opting instead to stay within the fortifications of the city, and await reinforcements that might be expected to arrive when the river thawed in the spring. Arnold maintained a somewhat ineffectual siege over the city, until March 1776, when he was ordered to Montreal and replaced by General Wooster. During these months, the besieging army suffered from difficult winter conditions, and smallpox began to travel more significantly through the camp. These losses were offset by the arrival each month of small companies of reinforcements. On March 14, Jean-Baptiste Chasseur, a miller living downstream from the city, entered Quebec and informed Carleton that there were 200 men on the south side of the river ready to act against the Americans. These men and more were mobilized, but an advance force was defeated in the Battle of Saint-Pierre
Battle of Saint-Pierre
The Battle of Saint-Pierre was a military confrontation on March 25, 1776, near the Quebec village of Saint-Pierre, south of Quebec City. This confrontation, which occurred during the Continental Army's siege of Quebec following its defeat at the Battle of Quebec, was between forces that were both...

 by a detachment of pro-American local militia that were stationed on the south side of the river.

Congress, even before it learned of the defeat at Quebec, had authorized as many as 6,500 additional troops for service there. Throughout the winter, troops trickled into Montreal and the camp outside Quebec City. By the end of March, the besieging army had grown to almost 3,000, although almost one quarter of these were unfit for service, mainly due to smallpox. Furthermore, James Livingston and Moses Hazen, commanding the 500 Canadians in the army, were pessimistic about the loyalty of their men and the cooperation of the population due to persistent Loyalist propaganda.

Congress was conflicted about requests that Arnold made for a more experienced general officer to lead the siege effort. They first chose Charles Lee
Charles Lee (general)
Charles Lee was a British soldier who later served as a General of the Continental Army during the American War of Independence. Lee served in the British army during the Seven Years War. After the war he sold his commission and served for a time in the Polish army of King Stanislaus II...

 a major general with experience in the British Army, to lead the troops in Quebec in January. One week later, they retracted the step, and instead sent Lee into the southern states to direct efforts against an anticipated British attack there. (The British attempt was thwarted in the June 1776 Battle of Sullivan's Island
Battle of Sullivan's Island
The Battle of Sullivan's Island or the Battle of Fort Sullivan was fought on June 28, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, also known as the American War of Independence. It took place near Charleston, South Carolina, during the first British attempt to capture the city from American rebels...

.) They finally settled in March 1776 on Major General John Thomas
John Thomas (general)
John Thomas was an American doctor and soldier from Massachusetts who became a major general in the Continental Army. He was a leader during the siege of Boston. Thomas briefly commanded the withdrawal from Canada after the unsuccessful invasion by the Continental Army. He died from smallpox...

, who had served in the army besieging Boston.

Discontent in Montreal


When General Montgomery left Montreal for Quebec City, he left the administration of the city in the hands of Connecticut's Brigadier General David Wooster. While Wooster at first had decent relations with the community, he took a number of steps that caused the local population to come to dislike the American military presence. After promising American ideals to the population, he began arresting Loyalists and threatening arrest and punishment of anyone opposed to the American cause. He also disarmed several communities, and attempted to force local militia members to surrender their Crown commissions. Those who refused were arrested and imprisoned at Fort Chambly. These and similar acts, combined with the fact that the Americans were paying for supplies and services with paper money rather than coin, served to disillusion the local population about the entire American enterprise. On March 20, Wooster left to take command of the forces at Quebec City, leaving Moses Hazen, who had raised the 2nd Canadian Regiment, in command of Montreal until Arnold arrived on April 19.

On April 29, a delegation consisting of three members of the Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...

, along with a Catholic priest and a French printer from Philadelphia, arrived in Montreal. The Congress had assigned this delegation the task of assessing the situation in Quebec, and attempting to sway public opinion to their cause. This delegation, which included Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

, was largely unsuccessful in its efforts, as relations were already significantly damaged. The delegation had not brought any hard currency to alleviate debts to the population that were accumulating. Efforts to turn the Catholic clergy to their cause failed, as the local priests pointed out that the Quebec Act
Quebec Act
The Quebec Act of 1774 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain setting procedures of governance in the Province of Quebec...

 passed by the British Parliament
Parliament of Great Britain
The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and Parliament of Scotland...

 had given them what they wanted. Fleury Mesplet
Fleury Mesplet
Fleury Mesplet was a French-born Canadian printer.Born in Marseille and apprenticed in Lyon, he emigrated to London in 1773 where he set up shop in Covent Garden. In 1774 he emigrated to Philadelphia; it is thought that he may have been persuaded to do so by Benjamin Franklin...

, the printer, while he had set up his press, did not have time to produce anything before events began to overtake the delegation. Franklin and the priest left Montreal on May 11, following news that the American forces at Quebec City were in panicked retreat, to return to Philadelphia. Samuel Chase
Samuel Chase
Samuel Chase was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and earlier was a signatory to the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Maryland. Early in life, Chase was a "firebrand" states-righter and revolutionary...

 and Charles Carroll
Charles Carroll
Charles Carroll may refer to:*Charles Carroll , Continental Congressman from Maryland*Charles H. Carroll , U.S...

, the other two delegates, analyzed the military situation in the area south and east of Montreal, finding it a good place to set up a defense. On May 27, they wrote a report to Congress on the situation, and left for the south.

The Cedars

Upriver from Montreal were a series of small British garrisons that the Americans had not concerned themselves with during the occupation. As spring approached, bands of Cayuga
Cayuga nation
The Cayuga people was one of the five original constituents of the Haudenosaunee , a confederacy of American Indians in New York. The Cayuga homeland lay in the Finger Lakes region along Cayuga Lake, between their league neighbors, the Onondaga to the east and the Seneca to the west...

, Seneca
Seneca nation
The Seneca are a group of indigenous people native to North America. They were the nation located farthest to the west within the Six Nations or Iroquois League in New York before the American Revolution. While exact population figures are unknown, approximately 15,000 to 25,000 Seneca live in...

, and Mississauga
Mississaugas
The Mississaugas are a subtribe of the Anishinaabe-speaking First Nations people located in southern Ontario, Canada. They are closely related to the Ojibwa...

 warriors began to gather at Oswegatchie
Oswegatchie, New York
Oswegatchie is a town in St. Lawrence County, New York, United States. The population was 4,370 at the 2000 census. The name reportedly means "Black water" in the aboriginal language. It is on the northern border of the county and is adjacent to the city of Ogdensburg.- History :The area was first...

, one of these garrisons, giving the commander there, Captain George Forster, a force with which to cause trouble for the Americans. Forster had recruited them on the recommendation of a Loyalist who had escaped from Montreal. Furthermore, while General Wooster, much to the annoyance of both Patriot and Loyalist merchants, had refused to permit trade with the Indians upriver out of fear that supplies sent in that direction would be used by the British forces there, the Congressional delegation reversed his decision and supplies began flowing out of the city up the river.

In order to prevent the flow of supplies to the British forces upriver, and in response to rumors of Indians gathering, Moses Hazen detached Colonel Timothy Bedel
Timothy Bedel
Timothy Bedel was a soldier and local leader prominent in the early history of New Hampshire and Vermont.Bedel was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts...

 and 390 men to a position 40 miles (64.4 km) upriver at Les Cèdres
Les Cèdres, Quebec
Les Cèdres is a municipality located north of the Saint Lawrence River in the Montérégie of Quebec near Vaudreuil-Dorion. The population as of the Canada 2006 Census was 5,732.-Population:Population trend-Language:...

 (English: The Cedars), where they built a stockaded defense works. Colonel Forster was made aware of these movements by Indian spies and Loyalists, and on May 15 began to move downriver with a mixed force of about 250 Natives, militia, and regulars. In an odd series of encounters
Battle of the Cedars
The Battle of The Cedars was a series of military confrontations early in the American Revolutionary War during the Continental Army's invasion of Quebec that had begun in September 1775. The skirmishes, which involved limited combat, occurred in May 1776 at and around The Cedars, west of...

, Bedel's lieutenant Isaac Butterfield surrendered this entire force without a fight on the 18th, and another 100 men brought as reinforcements also surrendered after a brief skirmish on the 19th.

Quinze-Chênes

On receiving news of Butterfield's capture, Arnold immediately began assembling a force to recover them, which he entrenched in a position at Lachine
Lachine, Quebec
Lachine was a city on the Island of Montreal in southwestern Quebec, Canada. It is now a borough within the city of Montreal.-History:...

, just upriver from Montreal. Forster, who had left the captives in the stockade at Les Cèdres, moved closer to Montreal with a force now numbering around 500, until May 24 when he received intelligence of Arnold's location, and that Arnold was expecting additional forces which would significantly outnumber his. Since his force was dwindling in size, he negotiated an agreement with his captives to exchange them for British prisoners taken during the siege of Fort St. Johns. After a brief exchange of cannonfire at Quinze-Chênes, Arnold also agreed to the exchange, which took place between May 27 and 30.

Reinforcements arrive at Quebec City

American troops

General John Thomas was unable to move north until late April, due to the icy conditions on Lake Champlain. Concerned about reports of troop readiness and sickness, he made requests to Washington for additional men to follow him while he waited for conditions to improve. Upon his arrival in Montreal, he learned that many men had promised to stay only until April 15, and most of these were insistent on returning home. This was compounded by relatively low enrollments in regiments actually raised for service in Quebec. One regiment with an authorized strength of 750, sailed north with but 75 men. These deficiencies prompted Congress to order Washington to send more troops north. In late April, Washington ordered ten regiments, led by Generals William Thompson
William Thompson (general)
William Thompson was a soldier from Pennsylvania and a brigadier general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.Thompson was born in Ireland and emigrated to Carlisle, Pennsylvania...

 and John Sullivan
John Sullivan
John Sullivan was the third son of Irish immigrants, a United States general in the Revolutionary War, a delegate in the Continental Congress and a United States federal judge....

, to go north from New York. This significantly reduced Washington's forces that were preparing for a British attack there. This also exposed transport problems: there were insufficient sailing hands on Lakes George and Champlain to easily move all of these men. Furthermore, there was also a shortage of supplies in Quebec, and much of the shipping was needed to move provisions instead of men. As a result, Sullivan's men were held up at Ticonderoga, and Sullivan did not reach Sorel until the beginning of June.

General Wooster arrived in the American camp outside Quebec City in early April with reinforcements. Reinforcements continued to arrive from the south in modest numbers, until General Thomas arrived at the end of April and assumed command of a force that was nominally over 2,000 strong, but in reality was significantly diminished by the effects of smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 and the hardships of the Canadian winter. Rumors began circulating on May 2 that British ships were coming up the river. Thomas decided on May 5 to evacuate the sick to Trois-Rivières
Trois-Rivières
Trois-Rivières means three rivers in French and may refer to:in Canada*Trois-Rivières, the largest city in the Mauricie region of Quebec, Canada*Circuit Trois-Rivières, a racetrack in Trois-Rivières, Quebec...

, with the rest of the forces to withdraw as soon as practical. Late on that day he received intelligence that 15 ships were 40 leagues below the city, awaiting favorable conditions to come up the river. The pace of camp evacuation took on a sense of urgency early the next day when ship's masts were spotted; the wind had changed, and 3 ships of the fleet had reached the city.

British troops

After news of Lexington and Concord reached London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, the government of Lord North
Frederick North, Lord North
Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford, KG, PC , more often known by his courtesy title, Lord North, which he used from 1752 until 1790, was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1770 to 1782. He led Great Britain through most of the American War of Independence...

, realizing it would require the support of foreign troops to combat the rebellion, began negotiating with European allies for the use of their troops in North America. Requests to Catherine the Great for Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 troops were refused, but a number of German principalities were prepared to offer theirs
Germans in the American Revolution
Ethnic Germans served on both sides of the American Revolutionary War. Many supported the Loyalist cause and served as allies of Great Britain, whose King George III was also the Elector of Hanover...

. Of the 50,000 troops that Britain raised in 1776, nearly one third came from a handful of these principalities; the number of troops from Hesse-Cassel and Hesse-Hanau caused them to be widely referred to as Hessians. Of these 50,000, about 11,000 were destined for service in Quebec. Troops from Hesse-Hanau and Brunswick-Lüneburg
Brunswick-Lüneburg
The Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg , or more properly Duchy of Brunswick and Lüneburg, was an historical ducal state from the late Middle Ages until the late Early Modern era within the North-Western domains of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, in what is now northern Germany...

 sailed in February 1776 for Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

, where they joined a convoy carrying British troops that sailed in early April.

Carleton, having been informed of pace of activity in the American camp, rapidly unloaded reinforcements from the arrived ships, and around noon marched with a force of about 900 troops to test the Americans. The American response was essentially panic; a disorganized retreat began that might have ended even more disastrously for the Americans had Carleton pressed his advantage. Hoping to win over the rebels with a lenient attitude, he was content to send ships up the river to harass the Americans, and to possibly cut them off. He also captured a number of Americans, mostly sick and wounded, but also a detachment of troops that had been abandoned on the south side of the St. Lawrence. The Americans, in their hurry to get away, left numerous valuable military effects, including cannon and gunpowder, in their wake. They regrouped on the 7th at Deschambault
Deschambault, Quebec
Deschambault-Grondines is a municipality with 2032 inhabitants according 2006 census in the Canadian province of Quebec, located in Portneuf Regional County Municipality. The municipality was incorporated in 2002 by the merger of the formerly independent villages of Deschambault and Grondines.The...

, about 40 miles upriver from Quebec City. Thomas held a war council there, in which most of the leadership favored retreat. Thomas opted to retain 500 men at Deschambault while sending the rest to Sorel, and also sent word to Montreal for assistance, since many of the troops had little more than the clothes on their backs and a few days rations.

The Congressional delegation in Montreal, upon hearing this news, determined that holding the Saint Lawrence would no longer be possible, and dispatched only a small number of troops toward Deschambault. Thomas, after waiting for six days for word from Montreal and hearing none, began to withdraw toward Trois-Rivières, but not before having to fight off skirmishers from forces landed from British ships on the river. They reached Trois-Rivières on May 15, where they left the sick, and a detachment of New Jersey troops to defend them. By the 18th, the remaining troops joined reinforcements under General Thompson at Sorel, where on the 21st, a council was held with the Congressional delegates. Thomas contracted smallpox that same day, and died on June 2. He was replaced by Thompson.

Carleton's counteroffensive

Trois-Rivières

On May 6, 1776, a small squadron of British ships under Captain Charles Douglas had arrived to relieve Quebec with supplies and 3,000 troops, precipitating the Americans' retreat to Sorel. However, General Carleton did not take significant offensive measures until May 22, when he sailed to Trois-Rivières with the 47th and 29th regiments. While hearing news of Forster's success at Les Cèdres, instead of pushing ahead he returned to Quebec City, leaving Allen Maclean in command at Trois-Rivières. There he met Lieutenant General John Burgoyne
John Burgoyne
General John Burgoyne was a British army officer, politician and dramatist. He first saw action during the Seven Years' War when he participated in several battles, mostly notably during the Portugal Campaign of 1762....

, who had arrived on June 1 with a large force of mostly Irish recruits, Hessian mercenaries, and a warchest of money.

The Americans at Sorel, on receiving word that a force of "only 300 men" was at Trois-Rivières, thought that they should be able to send a force from Sorel to take Trois-Rivières back. Unaware that major British reinforcements had arrived, and ignorant of the geography around the town, General Thompson led 2,000 men first into a swamp, and then into the teeth of a reinforced, entrenched British army
Battle of Trois-Rivières
The Battle of Trois-Rivières was fought on June 8, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War. A British army under Quebec Governor Guy Carleton defeated an attempt by units from the Continental Army under the command of Brigadier General William Thompson to stop a British advance up the Saint...

. This disaster included the capture of Thompson and many of his senior officers, as well as 200 men and most of the ships used for the expedition, and forecast the end of the American occupation of Quebec. The American forces at Sorel, now under the command of General Sullivan, retreated. Carleton once again did not press his advantage, even going so far as to eventually return the captives to New York, in great comfort, in August.

Retreat to Crown Point

Early on June 14, Carleton finally sailed his army up the river to Sorel. Arriving late in the day, they discovered that the Americans had abandoned Sorel just that morning, and were retreating up the Richelieu River valley toward Chambly and St. Johns. Unlike the departure from Quebec City, the Americans left in a somewhat orderly manner, although some units were separated from the main force by the arrival of Carleton's fleet, and were forced to march to Montreal to join Arnold's forces. Carleton directed General Burgoyne and 4,000 troops to move up the Richelieu after the retreating Americans, while Carleton continued sailing toward Montreal.

In Montreal, Arnold was ignorant of the events taking place downriver, having recently finished dealing with Forster. A messenger he sent downriver toward Sorel on June 15 for news from General Sullivan spotted Carleton's fleet, escaped to shore, and returned with the news to Montreal on a stolen horse. Within four hours, Arnold and the American forces garrisoned around Montreal had abandoned the city (but not before trying to burn it down), leaving it in the hands of the local militia. Carleton's fleet arrived in Montreal on June 17.

Arnold's troops caught up with the main army near St. Johns on the 17th. Sullivan's army was in no condition to fight, and after a brief council, the decision was made to retreat to Crown Point. The army reportedly got away from St. Johns almost literally moments before the vanguard of Burgoyne's army arrived on the scene.

The remains of the American army arrived at Crown Point in early July, ending a campaign that was described as "a heterogeneal concatenation of the most peculiar and unparalleled rebuffs and sufferings that are perhaps to be found in the annals of any nation", by Isaac Senter, a doctor who experienced much of the campaign. Unfortunately, the campaign was not quite ended, since the British were still on the move.

Shipbuilding and politics

The Americans had been careful at every step of the retreat up the Richelieu and across Lake Champlain to deny the British of any significant shipping, burning or sinking any boats they did not take with them. This forced the British to spend several months building ships. Carleton reported to London on September 28 that "I expect our Fleet will soon sail with hopes of success should they come to action". General Arnold, when he and Ethan Allen captured Fort Ticonderoga, had established a small navy that was still patrolling Lake Champlain.

While the British assembled a navy to counteract Arnold's, Carleton dealt with matters in Montreal. Even before the Americans retreated from Quebec City, he formed committees to look into the roles played by local Patriot sympathizers, sending them out into the countryside to arrest active participants in the American action, including those who had detained Loyalists. When he arrived in Montreal, similar commissions were set up.

Valcour Island

General Horatio Gates
Horatio Gates
Horatio Lloyd Gates was a retired British soldier who served as an American general during the Revolutionary War. He took credit for the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga – Benedict Arnold, who led the attack, was finally forced from the field when he was shot in the leg – and...

 was given command of the Continental Army's northern forces in early July. He promptly moved the bulk of the army to Ticonderoga, leaving a force of about 300 at Crown Point. The army was busied improving the defenses at Ticonderoga, while Arnold was given the task of building up the American fleet at Crown Point. Throughout the summer, reinforcements poured into Ticonderoga, until the army was estimated to be 10,000 strong. A smaller army of shipwrights labored at Skenesborough (present-day Whitehall
Whitehall (village), New York
Whitehall is a village located in the town of Whitehall in Washington County, New York, USA. It is part of the Glens Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area...

) to build the ships needed to defend the lake.

Carleton began to move on October 7. By the 9th, the British fleet was on Lake Champlain. In a naval action between Valcour Island and the western shore
Battle of Valcour Island
The naval Battle of Valcour Island, also known as the Battle of Valcour Bay, took place on October 11, 1776, on Lake Champlain. The main action took place in Valcour Bay, a narrow strait between the New York mainland and Valcour Island...

, beginning on October 11, the British inflicted heavy damage to Arnold's fleet, forcing him to withdraw to Crown Point. Feeling that Crown Point would be inadequate protection against a sustained British attack, he then withdrew to Ticonderoga. British forces occupied Crown Point on October 17.

Carleton's troops remained at Crown Point for two weeks, with some troops advancing to within three miles of Ticonderoga, apparently in an attempt to draw Gates' army out. On November 2, they pulled out of Crown Point and withdrew to winter quarters in Quebec.

Aftermath

The invasion of Quebec ended as a disaster for the Americans, but Arnold's actions on the retreat from Quebec and his improvised navy on Lake Champlain were widely credited with delaying a full-scale British counter thrust until 1777. Carleton was heavily criticized by Burgoyne for not pursuing the American retreat from Quebec more aggressively. Due to these criticisms and the fact that Carleton was disliked by Lord George Germain
George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville
George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville PC , known as the Hon. George Sackville to 1720, as Lord George Sackville from 1720 to 1770, and as Lord George Germain from 1770 to 1782, was a British soldier and politician who was Secretary of State for America in Lord North's cabinet during the American...

, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies
Secretary of State for the Colonies
The Secretary of State for the Colonies or Colonial Secretary was the British Cabinet minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various colonial dependencies....

 and the official in King George
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

's government responsible for directing the war, command of the 1777 offensive
Saratoga campaign
The Saratoga Campaign was an attempt by Great Britain to gain military control of the strategically important Hudson River valley in 1777 during the American Revolutionary War...

 was given to General Burgoyne instead (an action that prompted Carleton to tender his resignation as Governor of Quebec).

A significant portion of the Continental forces at Fort Ticonderoga were sent south with Generals Gates and Arnold in November to bolster Washington's faltering defense of New Jersey. (He had already lost New York City, and by early December had crossed the Delaware River
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

 into Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, leaving the British free to operate in New Jersey.) Conquering Quebec and other British colonies remained an objective of Congress throughout the war. However, George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

, who had supported this invasion, considered any further expeditions a low priority that would divert too many men and resources away from the main war in the Thirteen Colonies, so further attempts at expeditions to Quebec were never fully realized.

During the Paris peace talks
Treaty of Paris (1783)
The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain on the one hand and the United States of America and its allies on the other. The other combatant nations, France, Spain and the Dutch Republic had separate agreements; for details of...

, the American negotiators unsuccessfully demanded all of Quebec as part of the war spoils. Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

, primarily interested in the Ohio Country
Ohio Country
The Ohio Country was the name used in the 18th century for the regions of North America west of the Appalachian Mountains and in the region of the upper Ohio River south of Lake Erie...

, which had been made part of Quebec by the Quebec Act
Quebec Act
The Quebec Act of 1774 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain setting procedures of governance in the Province of Quebec...

 of 1774, suggested in the peace talks that Quebec should be surrendered to America; only the Ohio Country was ceded.

In the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

 the Americans launched another invasion of British North America, and again expected the local populace to support them. That failed invasion is now regarded as a significant event in Canadian history; it has even been claimed as the birth of modern Canadian identity
Canadian identity
Canadian identity refers to the set of characteristics and symbols that many Canadians regard as expressing their unique place and role in the world....

.

See also

  • History of Canada
    History of Canada
    The history of Canada covers the period from the arrival of Paleo-Indians thousands of years ago to the present day. Canada has been inhabited for millennia by distinctive groups of Aboriginal peoples, among whom evolved trade networks, spiritual beliefs, and social hierarchies...

  • History of the United States
    History of the United States
    The history of the United States traditionally starts with the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776, although its territory was inhabited by Native Americans since prehistoric times and then by European colonists who followed the voyages of Christopher Columbus starting in 1492. The...

  • Military history of Canada
    Military history of Canada
    The military history of Canada comprises hundreds of years of armed actions in the territory encompassing modern Canada, and the role of the Canadian military in conflicts and peacekeeping worldwide. For thousands of years, the area that would become Canada was the site of sporadic intertribal wars...

  • Military history of the United States
    Military history of the United States
    The military history of the United States spans a period of over two centuries. During the course of those years, the United States evolved from a new nation fighting the British Empire for independence without a professional military , through a monumental American Civil War to the world's sole...


Further reading

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