Year
1775
Month Day
November 13

Patriots take Montreal

On November 13, 1775, Continental Army Brigadier General Richard Montgomery takes Montreal, Canada, without opposition.

Montgomery’s victory owed its success in part to Ethan Allen’s disorganized defeat at the hand of British General and Canadian Royal Governor Guy Carleton at Montreal on September 24, 1775. Allen’s misguided and undermanned attack on Montreal led to his capture by the British and imprisonment in Pendennis Castle in Cornwall, England. Although a failure in the short term, Allen’s attack had long-term benefits for the Patriots. Carleton had focused his attention on suppressing Allen’s attack, while refusing reinforcements to Fort St. Jean, to which Montgomery’s expedition laid siege from August 21 to November 3, 1775. Fort St. Jean’s commander, Major Charles Preston, surrendered on November 3, fearful of the hardship the town’s civilians would face during a winter under siege. With the final fortification between Montgomery and Montreal in Patriot hands and Carleton’s defenses depleted by the conflict with Allen, Montgomery’s forces entered Montreal with ease on November 13.

READ MORE: 7 Times the U.S.-Canada Border Wasn't So Peaceful

After Montgomery’s success at winning Montreal for the Patriots, Carleton escaped and fled to Quebec City, where he and Montgomery would, in December, again face one another in a climatic battle that would determine the fate of the Patriot invasion of Canada.

Facing the year-end expiration of their troops’ enlistment, Patriot forces advanced on Quebec under the cover of a blizzard at approximately 4 a.m. on December 31, 1775. The British defenders under Carleton were ready, however, and when Montgomery’s forces came within 50 yards of the city’s fortifications, 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, Colonel Benedict 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 Benedict Arnold in the leg. Patriot Daniel Morgan 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 900 Americans who participated in the siege, 60 were killed or wounded and more than 400 were captured.

The remaining Patriot forces then retreated from Canada. Benedict Arnold remained in Canadian territory until the last of his soldiers had crossed the St. Lawrence River to safety. With the pursuing British forces almost in firing range, Arnold checked one last time to make sure all his men had escaped, then shot his horse and fled down the St. Lawrence in a canoe.

Carleton had successfully snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and secured Canada for the British empire.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

ISIL stages series of terrorist attacks in Paris, culminating in massacre at Bataclan theater

On November 13, 2015, a cell of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant commits a string of terrorist attacks across Paris, killing 131 and injuring over 400. It was the deadliest day in France since World War II, as well as the deadliest operation ISIL has carried out in Europe ...read more

The eruption of Nevado del Ruiz

Nevado del Ruiz, the highest active volcano in the Andes Mountains of Colombia, suffers a mild eruption that generates a series of lava flows and surges over the volcano’s broad ice-covered summit. Flowing mixtures of water, ice, pumice and other rock debris poured off the summit ...read more

Darryl Dawkins breaks his first backboard

On November 13, 1979, in the middle of a game at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Philadelphia 76ers center Darryl Dawkins leaps over Kansas City Kings forward Bill Robinzine and slam-dunks the basketball, shattering the fiberglass backboard. The result, according to ...read more

Ballinger-Pinchot scandal erupts

The Ballinger-Pinchot scandal erupts when Colliers magazine accuses Secretary of the Interior Richard Ballinger of shady dealings in Alaskan coal lands. It is, in essence, a conflict rooted in contrasting ideas about how to best use and conserve western natural resources. ...read more

Indiana Textbook Commission member charges that Robin Hood is communist

In an example of the lengths to which the “Red Scare” in America is going, Mrs. Thomas J. White of the Indiana Textbook Commission calls for the removal of references to the book Robin Hood from textbooks used by the state’s schools. Mrs. Young ...read more

General George McClellan snubs President Lincoln

On November 13, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln pays a late night visit to General George McClellan, who Lincoln had recently named general in chief of the Union army. The general retired to his chambers before speaking with the president. This was the most famous example of ...read more

Karen Silkwood dies in mysterious one-car crash

On November 13, 1974, 28-year-old Karen Silkwood is killed in a car accident near Crescent, Oklahoma, north of Oklahoma City. Silkwood worked as a technician at a plutonium plant operated by the Kerr-McGee Corporation, and she had been critical of the plant’s health and safety ...read more

Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedicated

Near the end of a weeklong national salute to Americans who served in the Vietnam War, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C. after a march to its site by thousands of veterans of the conflict. The long-awaited memorial was a simple V-shaped black-granite ...read more