Brigadier General Richard Montgomery – died during the
campaign for Quebec – County Donegal.
He was the 2nd of eight Brigadier Generals appointed by the Continental Congress
An Excerpt from James Francis Smith’s Irish in the American Revolution
Brigadier General Richard Montgomery
As he gazed at Fortress Quebec, the Donegal-born heir of a British Parliament member wondered what his father would have thought about his accepting a high rank in America’s Continental Army. As he tried to keep warm, he penned a note to his father-in-law, then a member of the Continental Congress.
“… until Quebec is taken, Canada is unconquered.”
Montgomery’s 17-years experience in the British Army came to a close when his promotion had been passed over and given to others with little combat experience. After selling his captain’s commission for £1,500, immigrating to America, and settling down with Janet on their West Chester farm, he found himself once against in battle, this time on the colonial side. Hoping for a reconciliation, Montgomery, a lukewarm patriot, made an about-face after Concord and Bunker Hill.
Now he talked the Continental Congress into invading Canada. With General Schulyer having taken ill, Montgomery led the army to Île aux Noix in the Richelieu River. Once there, he laid siege to Fort St. John, secured a victory at Fort Chambly, and on November 13, captured Montreal and the 11-ships anchored in her harbor. Among the prisoners was Captain John André. This time, instead of serving in arms with his long-time associate, Major General Sir Guy Carleton, Montgomery found himself opposed to the cagey Englishman. Carleton fought a delaying campaign knowing that his ally, winter, would soon be upon them. Unpopular because of his warm treatment of English prisoners, Montgomery would have returned to Janet except for the pleading of George Washington to remain at his post.
With winter settled in, it was a bitter cold December 30th. Montgomery, joined by Benedict Arnold, studied their objective, the 333-foot-high Cape Diamond. Lacking suitable artillery to conduct a siege, the two could only consider a direct assault. Surprise, which only days ago seemed out of the question, once again became an option. It had snowed.
At first, with Arnold advancing from a different direction, Montgomery led his force toward a well-constructed log block-house when a drunken sailor fired a single shot, which hit and killed Montgomery. Following his death, his men were driven off by heavy grapeshot. During this attack, Benedict Arnold was also wounded. Those of his men who had penetrated the city walls were taken captive, ending any serious attempt to draw the Canadian population into the war with England.
After exchanging letters about Montgomery’s death with Washington, Sir Carleton buried his former companion with high honors.