In 1775, on this day an invasion force led by Colonel Ethan Allen crossed the St Lawrence River and forced the Governor-General of Canada Sir Guy Cartleon to abandon British Montreal.
The Fall of Montreal
Ethan Allen's Big AdventureThe British Force in Montreal was pitiful, comprising only thirty-four regulars and a handful of Mohawk Indians. But more tellingly, over one-third of the population were merchants and their employees originally from New England. Carleton's approach to gaining the support of the merchants was to threaten to burn down their warehouses full of furs and wheat if they refused to defend Montreal.
This clumsy attempt to encourage the townspeople to join the militia as "shirtmen" was caused by his own deployment misjudgements. He had started the war with just seven hundred regulars in the combined 26th Cameronian Regiment of Foot and the 7th Royal Fusiliers. But Allen's victories at Ticonderoga and Crown Point had reduced this force, which was then divided to defend Fort St John in the south-east.
Allen commanded the largest paramilitary force in British North America. But in truth only the eight-nine soldiers of the Green Mountain Boys from Vermont were the equals of the King's troops. This fact was unknown to Carleton, who was panicked by the size of the invading force which numbered in the hundreds. And last minute negotiations (including a desperate final offer to pay volunteers half a Portugese silver Johanna a day) were interrupted with the news that Allen's force had reached the suburbs of Longue-Pointe, less than two miles away.
In retrospect, we can see that Carleton was bluffed by the boldness of Allen's plan. His decision to bypass the Forts of St. John and Chambly accelerated the invasion by as much as two months, just enough time to capture Quebec before a northern winter could ruin General Washington's pincer movement.
This article is part of the American Heroes thread.