December, 1775: Battle of Quebec Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

From December 5 to December 30, 1775, American troops besieged Quebec, the last major British outpost in Canada, attempting to complete their invasion of the province. Faced with expiring enlistments in Benedict Arnold’s command, General Richard Montgomery launched an assault in the early morning hours of December 31, during a howling blizzard.

From December 5 to December 30, 1775, American troops besieged Quebec, the last major British outpost in Canada, attempting to complete their invasion of the province. Faced with expiring enlistments in Benedict Arnold’s command, General Richard Montgomery launched an assault in the early morning hours of December 31, during a howling blizzard.

Two small detachments feinted against the upper town, while the main attack struck the lower. Montgomery led 275 troops from the southwest, penetrated the outer fortifications undetected, and then charged a blockhouse. The general and several other officers were killed in the first volley, and his soldiers retreated. Meanwhile, Arnold and 600 men stormed Quebec from the other direction. Arnold was quickly wounded and retired from the field, but his troops fought their way into the lower town. The attack stalled, however, as the British concentrated on this threat, following Montgomery’s repulse. Sir Guy Carleton counterattacked, cutting the American line of retreat and, by mid-morning, forced the Americans to surrender. He then overran a nearby siege battery, capturing six cannons and mortars. Overall, the Americans had 48 killed, 34 wounded, and 372 captured. British losses were 5 dead and 14 wounded.

The death of Major General Montgomery at Quebec. From a painting by John Trumbull, a patriot who served in the Revolutionary War. (National Archives)

The British victory at Quebec during the revolution crippled the American army in Canada and effectively ended its invasion of the province.

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