Canadian Campaign > Battle of Quebec

Battle of Quebec


The Battle of Quebec, fought on December 31, 1775, was a pivotal engagement during the American Revolutionary War. This battle marked the culmination of the American invasion of Canada and resulted in a significant defeat for the Continental Army, effectively ending American attempts to bring Canada into the revolutionary cause.


  1. Strategic Context:

    • The American Continental Congress authorized the invasion of Canada to gain support from the French-speaking Canadians and prevent the British from using Canada as a base for attacks on the American colonies.
    • The invasion involved two main expeditions: one led by General Richard Montgomery, advancing from Fort Ticonderoga through Montreal, and another led by Colonel Benedict Arnold, marching through the Maine wilderness to Quebec City.
  2. Pre-Battle Movements:

    • General Montgomery's forces captured Montreal in November 1775 and moved towards Quebec City to join forces with Arnold.
    • Benedict Arnold's force endured a harrowing march through the Maine wilderness, reaching the outskirts of Quebec City in November 1775. Despite severe hardships, Arnold's men set up camp outside the city and awaited Montgomery's arrival.

The Battle:

  1. American Forces:

    • The combined American force outside Quebec City numbered around 1,200 men, comprising soldiers from both Montgomery's and Arnold's contingents. The Americans were poorly supplied, and many were suffering from the harsh winter conditions and disease.
    • Key leaders included General Richard Montgomery, Colonel Benedict Arnold, and other notable officers such as Daniel Morgan.
  2. British Defenses:

    • Quebec City was well-defended by a force of about 1,800 men, including British regulars, Canadian militia, and seamen from the Royal Navy, all under the command of Governor General Guy Carleton.
    • The city's fortifications were strong, with walls, artillery, and well-prepared defensive positions.
  3. Plan of Attack:

    • Montgomery and Arnold planned a two-pronged assault on the city during a snowstorm on the night of December 31, 1775, hoping the storm would provide cover and surprise the defenders.
    • Montgomery would lead his men from the west along the St. Lawrence River, while Arnold's force would attack from the north.
  4. Assault on Quebec City:

    • The attack began early in the morning, with Montgomery's force advancing along the narrow path by the St. Lawrence River. As they approached the first barricade, they were met with a devastating volley of grapeshot and musket fire. Montgomery was killed almost instantly, and his men, leaderless and disoriented, retreated.
    • Meanwhile, Arnold's force faced heavy resistance as they advanced through the lower town. Arnold was wounded early in the assault and was carried to the rear. Leadership fell to Captain Daniel Morgan, who pressed the attack with remarkable tenacity.
    • Morgan's men fought their way into the city, but without Montgomery's support and overwhelmed by superior numbers and defensive positions, they were eventually surrounded and forced to surrender.

Aftermath and Impact:

  1. Casualties:

    • American casualties were significant, with around 60 killed, 200 wounded, and over 400 captured, including Daniel Morgan. British casualties were relatively light, with around 20 killed and 30 wounded.
  2. Strategic Consequences:

    • The defeat at Quebec ended the American offensive in Canada. The remaining American forces, now under Arnold's command after his recovery, maintained a blockade of the city but were too weak to pose a serious threat.
    • The British victory ensured that Quebec remained under British control and solidified their position in Canada, allowing them to use it as a base for operations against the American colonies.
  3. Impact on the American Campaign:

    • The failed assault on Quebec was a severe blow to American morale and aspirations in Canada. It highlighted the difficulties of conducting military operations in harsh winter conditions and the challenges of coordinating attacks in unfamiliar territory.
  4. Long-Term Effects:

    • The defeat at Quebec demonstrated the limitations of American military capabilities at the time and underscored the importance of logistical support, adequate supplies, and local knowledge.
    • The battle also emphasized the resilience and strategic importance of Quebec as a stronghold for British forces in North America.


The Battle of Quebec remains a significant event in the American Revolutionary War, illustrating both the bold ambitions and the significant challenges faced by the American revolutionaries in their quest for independence.

Canadian Campaign


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