Final Assault of Quebec City
The American Generals, Benedict Arnold and Richard Montgomery knew very well that a full assault of the city of Quebec was required. They were confident and awaited a winter storm, which would increase their chances of success.
They waited for weeks. Fortune shone down on the commanders when, on 30 December, the blizzard for which they had hoped finally arrived. Initial sign of attack began in the early hours of the next morning. In launching this end-of-year attack, the Americans chose to ignore Quebec’s impenetrable, walled Upper Town, and concentrated only of the Lower Town. Richard Montgomery sent up two signal rockets barely visible through the falling snow. He attacked from the south-west, while Arnold would advance from the eastern side. However, nothing in the strategy came as a surprise to Governor Guy Carleton of Quebec, who had fortified both points. Montgomery’s brigade hugged the narrow shoreline, advancing on the Lower Town under the Cape Diamond Bastion, until they came upon a blockhouse at Pres-de-Ville. This stronghold was manned by about thirty French Canadian militiamen who, alert and ready, watched as the revolutionaries charged forward. Just as Montgomery made the brash declaration: Quebec is ours!, a volley of grapeshot was fired from the blockhouse. The general was hit in the head and died instantly. The next two highest ranking officers were also killed, leaving the next in rang to order a retreat. Many members of the brigade were cut down by musket balls as they fled. Unaware of Montgomery’s death, Arnold’s seven hundred men advanced in the north-west. The local militia stationed in the Upper Town, opened fire. Arnold was wounded in the left ankle. His soldiers carried him to the rear. His second-in-command, Daniel Morgan, led the brigade forward to the rendezvous point with Montgomery. The revolutionaries didn’t know the Montgomery’s brigade had already retreated. Very soon they were attacked by Carleton’s men. The fierce fighting began in the narrow streets of the old town. At nine o’clock in the morning, Morgan had to surrender. The Battle of Quebec had come to an end. The British troops and the French Canadian militia lost 5 men. About 20 other were wounded. The casualties among members of the American Continental Army amounted to about 50 men. It is thought that dozens drowned while attempting to flee across the frozen St. Lawrence River. More than 400 revolutionaries were wounded. Find out more: