The Battle of Quebec was an attempt on December 31, 1775, by American colonial forces to capture the city of Quebec, drive the British military from the Province of Quebec, and enlist French Canadian support for the American Revolutionary War.
The British governor of Quebec, General Guy Carleton, could not get significant outside help because the St. Lawrence River was frozen, so he had to rely on a relatively small number of regulars along with local militia that had been raised in the city.
Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold led a force of about 1,200 American army forces and Canadian militia in a multi-pronged attack on the city, which, due to bad weather and bad timing, did not start well, and ended with Montgomery dead, Arnold wounded, and Daniel Morgan and more than 400 men captured.
Following a somewhat ineffectual five-month siege, the American forces were driven to retreat by the arrival of ships from England carrying British troops in early May 1776. The battle was the first military defeat for the Continental Army.
In the battle and the following siege, French-speaking Canadiens participated on both sides of the conflict. American forces received supplies and logistical support from local residents, and the city’s defenders included locally raised militia. Some of those that supported the American cause were subjected to a variety of punishments after the Americans retreated.
In September 1775, the Continental Army began moving into Quebec, with the goal of liberating it from British military control. Brigadier General Richard Montgomery led one force up Lake Champlain, successfully besieging Fort St. Jean and capturing Montreal on November 13. Colonel Benedict Arnold led a force of 1,100 men through the wilderness of Maine toward the city of Quebec.
Quebec’s governor, General Guy Carleton, had been preparing the defense of the province against possible invasion since May 1775, following the capture of Fort Ticonderoga by Arnold and Ethan Allen, and Arnold’s raid on Fort St. Jean on May 18. While Carleton concentrated the defense at Fort St. Jean, small British garrisons were located at Montreal and Quebec.
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