The First Skirmishes
The first American troops crossed the border of Canada on the morning of May 10, 1775. At the southern end of Lake Champlain, lay two British forts garrisoned by detachments of the Twenty-sixth regiment: Ticonderoga, at the very extremity of the lake, occupied by a group of twenty of men under an officer, and Crown Point, fifteen miles to the north, with a dozen of soldiers under a non-commissioned officer.
When passing through the valley on his way to Canada, John Brown, the continental congress representative, took in the situation at a glance - the weak state of the forts and the strong feeling of the pioneers against the British. Brown reported to the principals that these places should be seized and that the settlers were the proper people to do the job. In May, the British were besieged in Boston by the angry multitude.
Armed with muskets, the Americans could not reach the British commander and his forces, son an urgent call for cannon went forth. Benedict Arnold, a bookseller, druggist and shipowner of New Haven, announced that there was a plentiful supply guarded by only a handful of soldiers in these two forts on Lake Champlain.
Arnold received at once a Massachusetts commission to lead an expedition to seize the necessary articles. Benedict Arnold dashed off the Green Mountains (Vermont), where he knew that there were many men eager to take the forts. At dawn of May 10, 1775, about eight-five farmers, led by Arnold surprised the sleeping garrison of Ticonderoga. On the following day Crown Point surrendered without a blow.
On the morning of May 17, Americans seize St. John on the Richeilieu (St Jean-sur-Richelieu), near Montreal. They capture ammunition and provisions and sail away after having destroyed all the boats they could not take with them. On the evening of May 19, the governor Carleton, who is in Quebec City, learns about the beginning of hostilities. He rushes up to Montreal to direct operations for the protection of Canada against the American invasion. As Carleton's available troops were very few, he tried to draw on the man power of the colony.
The result was disheartening to him. The inhabitants did not express their wish to march under the British flag. Almost all of the French Canadians asserted than the quarrel between the colonies and their mother country was none of their business and therefore they would remain neutral.
During the summer, the Americans gather their forces. On September 4, 1775, they cross the Canadian border in great number, with brigadier general, Richard Montgomery leading them to the first big war between Canada and the United States.