Facing the year-end expiration of their troops’ enlistment, the American forces advanced on Quebec under the cover of snowfall in the early morning hours of December 31. The British defenders were ready, however, and when Montgomery’s forces approached the fortified city, the British opened fire with a barrage of artillery and musket fire. Montgomery was killed in the first assault, and after several more attempts at penetrating Quebec’s defenses, his men were forced to retreat.
Meanwhile, Arnold’s division suffered a similar fate during their attack on the northern wall of the city. A two-gun battery opened fire on the advancing Americans, killing a number of troops and wounding Arnold in the leg. Patriot Daniel Morgan (1736-1802) assumed command and made progress against the defenders, but halted at the second wall of fortifications to wait for reinforcements. By the time the rest of Arnold’s army finally arrived, the British had reorganized, forcing the Patriots to call off their attack. Of the approximately 1,200 Americans who participated in the battle, more than 400 were captured, wounded or killed. British casualties were minor.
After the defeat at Quebec, the battered and ailing Patriots remained outside the city with the help of additional supplies and reinforcements, carrying out an ineffectual siege. However, with the arrival of a British fleet at Quebec in May 1776, the Americans retreated from the area.