The year 1775 ended on a note of defeat for the Americans. Since December 6, 1776 the city had been under siege by the combined forces of General Richard Montgomery and Colonel Benedict Arnold. Twelve hundred Americans confronted 1800 British regulars and French Canadian militia. The Americans realized that the British would eventually strongly reinforce Quebec by sea, and that a prolonged siege in the teeth of a Canadian winter would probably do far more harm to the besiegers than the besieged.
Thus before dawn on December 31, 1775, in the midst of a blizzard, the Americans began a two pronged assault on the lower town of Quebec, the plan being that the forces led by Montgomery and Arnold would meet in the lower town, and then scale the walls of the upper town. Continue Reading
Of all the former British officers who fought on the patriot side in the American Revolution, the most militarily talented was Richard Montgomery. Born near Swords in County Dublin in 1738, he was a member of an Ulster Scots family notable for supplying officers to the British Army. After studying at Trinity College he joined the 17th Foot in 1756, his father purchasing an ensign’s commission for him. During the siege of Louisburg in 1758 his courage and initiative earned him promotion to Lieutenant. In 1759 he participated in the siege of Fort Carillon and in 1760 was made adjutant of the regiment, a singular honor for an officer so young. During subsequent fighting in the West Indies he was promoted to Captain. After participating in the suppression of Pontiac’s Rebellion, Montgomery returned to Britain to recover his health, exhausted and ill from years of campaigning.
In Britain he became friends with Whig members of the British Parliament, including Edmund Burke and began to question British policies in America. He sold his commission in 1772 for 1500 pounds, intent on retiring to America and becoming a gentleman farmer.
In America he married Janet Livingston, sister of future Founding Father Robert Livingston in 1773. It was a love match marred by a dream in which Janet saw Montgomery being killed in a duel with his brother. Montgomery responded stoically, I have always told you that my happiness is not lasting…Let us enjoy it as long as we may and leave the rest to God.
Associated with a strong New York patriot family, additionally politically powerful, Montgomery gradually became a firm patriot, convince that the British government was acting tyrannically against the Americans. On June 22, 1775 he was appointed a Brigadier General in the newly formed Continental Army and made deputy to Major General Philip Schuyler who commander the Continental forces in the north, charged with the invasion of, or, as the Americans saw it, the liberation of Canada. Schuyler’s health failing him, Montgomery took command of the invasion force. Continue Reading