Siege of Quebec City in 1775 - 1

In September 1775, not long after the siege of Fort Saint-Jean had begun, Colonel Benedict Arnold marched from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Quebec City, with about 1,100 men.

He had to a number of rivers and forests, but finally the Continental Army came to the south shore of St. Lawrence, opposite Quebec City. The course was much more difficult, and more than twice as long as it had been planned. In fact, it took the column six week to reach the Quebec’s capital.

Fighting rapids in the cold autumn weather, wading through frigid waters, the soldiers were forced to rely on a diet consisting of boiled shoe leather, cartridge boxes, tree bark and moss. During the march, Benedict Arnold had to eat his Newfoundland dog. Beleaguered by illness and disenchantment, the American troops finally reached the St. Lawrence.

More than 500 of 1,100 men had been lost through death and desertion, though. Then, the column spent several days trying to shelter from a vicious gale, before the Americans were able to cross the river. The revolutionaries encamped on the Abraham’s Plains, battleground of Wolfe and Montcalm in 1759.

By the time, Arnold had been promoted Brigadier General. He laid siege to Quebec City, a well-stocked and walled stronghold. Within the walls, a force of 1,200 men, twice the number of Arnold’s army, rested.

Yet, the Americans felt confident. Benedict Arnold sent a letter to Hector Cramahe, assistant of Governor Guy Cartleton of Quebec: I’m ordered by his Excellency General Washington to take possession of the town of Quebec.

I do therefore, in the name of the United colonies, demand immediate surrender of the town, fortifications and the city of Quebec to the forces of the United colonies under my command. Neither Cramahe nor Carleton chose to acknowledge this bold demand. A new siege of Quebec city began…

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