On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress resolves that Major General Philip John Schuyler should travel to Forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point in order to examine the troops, their supplies and their ability to navigate Lake Champlain and Lake George, as well as “obtain the best intelligence he can of the disposition of the Canadians and Indians of Canada.”
Schuyler’s orders included conferring with Colonel Benedict Arnold, who had seized Ticonderoga with Ethan Allen in May, and ordering “the necessary preparation of boats and stores for securing to the United Colonies the command of those waters adjacent to Crown point [sic] and Ticonderoga.” Congress feared that Canada’s governor, Sir Guy Carleton, was preparing an invasion of the rebelling colonies and urging “Indian Nations to take up the Hatchet against them.” This anxiety also led Congress to instruct Schuyler to lay claim to St. Johns, Montreal and any other parts of Canada that would, in his assessment, be important to the lower colonies’ security, should he find it would “not be disagreeable to the Canadians.”
As Congress directed, Schuyler took command of the Northern Department of the newly created Continental Army and planned an invasion of Canada. It fell to General Richard Montgomery and Colonel Benedict Arnold to bring Schuyler’s plan for the invasion of Canada to fruition. Although Montgomery successfully took Montreal the following November, the Canadians found it highly “disagreeable” to be invaded and drove the Americans from Canada, beginning with the devastating rebuff of Arnold’s attack on Quebec on December 31, during which Montgomery died and Arnold was wounded, along with half their force of 900 Patriots.