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Humpday History Highlight

By Wyatt Earp | December 31, 2008

<i>The Death of General Montgomery</i>

The Death of General Montgomery

December 31, 1775 – The Patriots Are Defeated At Quebec

On this day in 1775, Patriot forces under Colonel Benedict Arnold and General Richard Montgomery attempt to capture the city of Quebec under cover of darkness and snowfall. They fail, and the effort costs Montgomery his life.

On December 2, Arnold, Montgomery and their troops met on the outskirts of Quebec and demanded the surrender of the city. Governor Sir Guy Carleton rejected their demand, and on December 8 the Patriots commenced a bombardment of Quebec, which was met by a counter-battery by the British defenders that disabled several of the Patriots’ guns.

Facing the year-end expiration of their troops’ enlistment, the Patriot forces advanced on the city under the cover of a blizzard at approximately 4 a.m. on December 31. The British defenders were ready, however, and when Montgomery’s forces came within 50 yards of the fortified city, the British opened fire with a barrage of artillery and musket fire. Montgomery was killed in the first assault, and after several more attempts at penetrating Quebec’s defenses, his men were forced to retreat.

Meanwhile, Arnold’s division suffered a similar fate during their attack on the northern wall of the city. A two-gun battery opened fire on the advancing Americans, killing a number of troops and wounding Benedict Arnold in the leg. Patriot Daniel Morgan assumed command and made progress against the defenders, but halted at the second wall of fortifications to wait for reinforcements. By the time the rest of Arnold’s army finally arrived, the British had reorganized, forcing the Patriots to call of their attack. Of the 900 Americans who participated in the siege, 60 were killed or wounded and more than 400 were captured.

The remaining Patriot forces then retreated from Canada. Benedict Arnold remained in Canadian territory until the last of his soldiers had crossed the St. Lawrence River to safety. With the pursuing British forces almost in firing range, Arnold checked one last time to make sure all his men had escaped, then shot his horse and fled down the St. Lawrence in a canoe. (H/

It is a damned shame about Arnold. The man was a true American hero before he turned, but no one ever remembers that.

Topics: HHH | 5 Comments »

5 Responses to “Humpday History Highlight”

  1. RT Says:
    December 31st, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Humans don’t always live up to their previous reputations (good or bad). That whole being human thing (attached to power/authority) tends to bite one in the arse. :)

  2. Wyatt Earp Says:
    December 31st, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    RT – Especially when a woman is involved, as was the case with Arnold. History International has been running “The Revolution” mini-series at 1am every night. Friggin’ awesome, and I may use a certain gift card to purchase it.

  3. Alan B Says:
    January 1st, 2009 at 4:49 am

    At last, a report of a British success!

    Should be the last time we ever fight each other if anyone has any sense!!

  4. Wyatt Earp Says:
    January 1st, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Alan – From your lips to God’s ears. Of course, there was that little tiff in 1812 . . .

  5. Alan B Says:
    January 2nd, 2009 at 6:10 am

    Fair comment. I had forgotten that one. And, of course, it led to the writing of your National Anthem.

    2 quotes from Wiki sum it up:

    “The war was scarcely noticed at the time and is scarcely remembered in Britain because it was overshadowed by the far larger conflict against Napoleon Bonaparte.”

    “By 1814 both sides were weary of a costly war that seemingly offered nothing but stalemate, and were ready to grope their way to a settlement.”

    Pity it ever happened.