Following the battle, Arnold sent Moses Hazen and Edward Antill, two expatriate Americans, to General David Wooster, who Montgomery had left in command at Montreal, and also to the Congress in Philadelphia, to report the defeat and request support. (Both Hazen and Antill went on to serve in the American army throughout the war.) Arnold also refused to retreat; despite being outnumbered three to one, the sub-freezing temperature of the winter and the mass desertions of his men after their enlistments expired on December 31, 1775, he laid siege to Quebec. This siege had little effect on the city, which Carleton claimed had enough supplies stockpiled to last until May.
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, who brought reinforcements to the siege. During these months, the besieging army suffered from difficult winter conditions, and smallpox began to travel more significantly through the camp. Those losses were somewhat offset by the arrival of some 400 reinforcements per month.
On March 14, Jean-Baptiste Chasseur, a miller from the southern shore of the St. Lawrence, reached Quebec City and informed Carleton that there was a group of 200 men on the south side of the river ready to act against the Americans. These men and more were mobilized to make an attack on an American gun battery at Point Levis, but an advance guard of this Loyalist militia was defeated in the Battle of Saint-Pierre by a detachment of pro-American local militia that were stationed on the south side of the river.
The arrival on May 6 of a small British fleet carrying 200 regulars (the vanguard of a much larger invasion force), was sufficient to cause the Americans to begin organizing a retreat. The retreat was turned into a near-rout when Carleton marched these fresh forces, along with most of his existing garrison, to face the disorganized Americans.
This was the first defeat suffered by the Continental Army. The Americans suffered a significant number of important casualties, on top of Montgomery’s death. When Montgomery was killed, most of his immediate officers were also killed or injured. Much of Arnold’s entire force (over 400 men) was captured, leaving the American force outside the walls significantly reduced, and still subject to the privations of winter and smallpox.
The defending forces suffered remarkably light casualties. Of the five killed, only one was an officer; the other four were militia, as were the injured.
On May 22, even before the Americans had been completely driven from the province, Carleton ordered a survey to identify those Canadiens that had helped the American expedition in and around Quebec City. François Baby, Gabriel-Elzéar Taschereau and Jenkin Williams counted the Canadiens who actively provided such help, determining that 757 had done so. Carleton was somewhat lenient with minor offenders, and even freed a number of more serious offenders on the promise of good behavior. However, once the Americans had been driven from the province, measures against supporters of the American cause became harsher, with forced labor to repair American destruction of infrastructure during the army’s retreat being a common punishment. These measures had the effect of minimizing the public expression of support for the Americans for the rest of the war.
Between May 6 and June 1, 1776, nearly 40 British ships landed in Quebec City. They carried more than 9,000 soldiers under the command of General John Burgoyne, including about 4,000 German soldiers, so-called Hessians from Brunswick and Hanau under the command of Baron Friedrich Adolf Riedesel. These forces, some of which participated in the 1776 counteroffensive, spent the winter of 1776–1777 in the province, putting a significant strain on the population, which only numbered about 80,000.
NEXT MONTH: BATTLE OF SULLIVAN’S ISLAND