The Battle of Quebec
Written by Peter Fitzgerald
American Wars - War of independence
The Battle of Quebec was a battle fought during the American Revolutionary War between the American Continental Army and the forces of the British army.
The American Revolutionary War started in 1775 and this was one of the first battles between the Americans and the British in what became the American War of Independence. While this battle was not pivotal in elongating or ending the war, it was still a decisive battle for the opening accounts of the war.
Prior to the Battle of Quebec
After the outbreak of war the American contingent managed to gain great successes by capturing the key forts of Ticonderoga and Saint-Jean. These gain alarmed the British in to building provincial armies to protect regions of Canada from the marching Americans.
General Guy Carleton was the governor of Quebec and he felt that Quebec could be the next move for the Americans. This meant he started building a local force for the protection of the province.
This move was not lost as the Americans moved into Quebec in the month of September 1775. The American mandate for this according to General Schuyler who announced the Americans will "drive away, if possible, the troops of Great Britain".
The Americans thought that taking Quebec would be an easier option that other areas of Canada. This was because Quebec had a large French Catholic Canadien population who were unhappy with the British military and the rules in the province. This meant the Americans thought the French Canadiens would then rise up against the British to support them.
What did happen and the Americans did not plan was that the march to Quebec was actually more arduous than expected, this meant that around 500 men died on the way and many turned back. To compound this bad weather ruined the food provisions so by the time the American forces reached French settlements they were malnourished.
The Battle of Quebec
General Guy Carleton had been busy developing defensive positions in the province in case of attack; this meant that Quebec was in a better defensive position than many thought.
On December 31st of the year 1775 the Americans finally made it to Quebec and the battle broke out. The Americans were led by three commanders, these being Richard Montgomery, Benedict Arnold and Daniel Morgan.
The initial orders for battle came on the 30th December by Richard Montgomery because bad weather had hit and they wished to use this to their advantage, it was however the 31st when the Americans reached their battle positions.
As the weather worsened Montgomery and his men reached the city, here they cut through the first and second wall and started making for the two storey blockhouse. Little did the Americans know but 15 militiamen were in the building and they waited until the Americans were at close range before unleashing a barrage of bullets. One of these bullets hit Montgomery in the head killing him outright, the Americans were in disarray and fled back to the outer wall.
While all this was occurring Benedict Arnold was taking his men to the other side of the city walls, here they managed to get through the city gates undetected but were soon noticed by defenders high up on the city walls. Before Arnold knew it they were under attack from above and with no chance of defending themselves the Americans ran for cover in a narrow street where a blockade put the Americans under fire again. In all this commotion Arnold was shot in the ankle and had to give his command to Daniel Morgan.
Morgan rallied the troops and took the barricade before then moving to some empty buildings. The weather was bad and the gunpowder had become wet rendering guns useless so they decided to wait it out in the buildings and dry out the gunpowder.
General Carleton moved five hundred men down to the barricade that was taken by Morgan and retook it; here they sat out as the American soldiers were now stuck in the city. The Americans realised their position and ended up surrendering by 10am.
In total the American force of 1,200 saw 50 killed, including their commander, 34 wounded and 431 captured as prisoners. The British force of 1,800 soldiers and militia only reported 5 killed and 14 wounded. This was a first big victory for the British.