General Benedict Arnold: The Revolutionary Army attacks Canada





As the capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point opened an easy gateway to Canada, it was determined to invade that province. This was done partly to anticipate the British, who appeared to design an invasion from that quarter, and partly with the belief that success would induce the Canadians to join the revolted colonies. A force under Generals Schuyler and Montgomery passed up Lake Champlain and besieged St. John's, the frontier post of Canada. During the siege, Ethan Allen, with eighty men, rashly assailed Montreal. He was defeated, captured, and sent in irons to England. Schuyler having retired through illness, Montgomery captured St. John's on November 3, and proceeded to Montreal, which surrendered on the 13th.

A force of one thousand men under General Benedict Arnold was marching north through Maine. This march through the unbroken wilderness was one of extraordinary difficulty and hardship. A part of the force turned back, and it was with but six hundred exhausted and half-starved men that Arnold reached Point Levi, opposite Quebec, on November 13. Without delay he crossed the St. Lawrence, ascended the heights which Wolfe had scaled before him, and marshaled his small force on the Plains of Abraham. As the garrison could not be induced to assail him, and as his force was too small to attempt to storm the walls, he retired, and awaited the arrival of Montgomery from Montreal.

Their united forces numbered but nine hundred men, but with these, on the last day of the year, they made an early morning attack on Quebec, in the midst of a driving snow-storm. At the very beginning of the assault Montgomery, with several of his officers, fell dead before the discharge of a cannon loaded with grape. Their men retreated in disorder, and the garrison turned against Arnold, who had entered the town. He received a ball in the leg, and was, almost by compulsion, removed from the field. The contest continued for several hours, but ended in the surrender of a portion of Arnold's force, while the remainder retired.

Reinforcements being received, the siege of the city was kept up until the following May, when a British fleet ascended the St. Lawrence, and the Americans were forced to retreat. Step by step they were driven back, until obliged to evacuate Canada entirely. Carleton, the Canadian governor, soon followed, and both sides prepared to contest the possession of Lake Champlain, building ships, and sailing to meet each other on that inland sea. This was the first naval battle ever fought between England and America.





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