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Battle for the Fourteenth Colony

America's War of Liberation in Canada, 1774-1776

Mark R. Anderson

Publication Year: 2013

In this dramatic retelling of one of history's great "what-ifs," Mark R. Anderson examines the American colonies' campaign to bring Quebec into the Continental confederation and free the Canadians from British "tyranny." This significant reassessment of a little-studied campaign examines developments on both sides of the border that rapidly proceeded from peaceful diplomatic overtures to a sizable armed intervention. The military narrative encompasses Richard Montgomery's plodding initial operations, Canadian partisan cooperation with officers like Ethan Allen, and the harrowing experiences of Benedict Arnold's Kennebec expedition, as well as the sudden collapse of British defenses that secured the bulk of the province for the rebel cause. The book provides new insight into both Montgomery's tragic Quebec City defeat and a small but highly significant loyalist uprising in the rural northern parishes that was suppressed by Arnold and his Canadian patriot allies. Anderson closely examines the evolving relationships between occupiers and occupied, showing how rapidly changing circumstances variously fostered cooperation and encouraged resistance among different Canadian elements. The book homes in on the key political and military factors that ultimately doomed America's first foreign war of liberation and resulted in the Continental Army's decisive expulsion from Canada on the eve of the Declaration of Independence. The first full treatment of this fascinating chapter in Revolutionary War history in over a century, Anderson's account is especially revealing in its presentation of contentious British rule in Quebec, and of Continental beliefs that Canadiens would greet the soldiers as liberators and allies in a common fight against the British yoke.

This thoroughly researched and action-packed history will appeal to American and Canadian history buffs and military experts alike.

Published by: University Press of New England

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

This book originated in 2006, while I was serving as a military planner, coordinating support for the United States’ endeavors to liberate and spread democracy to foreign peoples in Afghanistan and Iraq. During that duty, I reflected on my studies in Professor Hal Shelton’s American Military University graduate course on Canada in the American Revolution ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

I owe many thanks for the wide-ranging assistance offered in the five-year course of research generating this book. The kind staffs at the New-York Historical Society, the Library and Archives Canada, and the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationale de Québec were tremendously helpful as I launched my first research efforts ...

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pp. 1-5

The American Revolution’s Quebec Campaign of 1775–1776 has generally remained a footnote in the histories of both the United States and Canada. In large part, this has been because it has not fit comfortably in either country’s national narrative. The episode’s results were unspectacular for both sides, leaving a chastened United States and a fractured, tenuously held British Canada. ...

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1 | The Only Link Wanting: The First Continental Congress Invites Canada

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pp. 6-16

On 26 October 1774, the fifty-two distinguished delegates of the first Continental Congress prepared to conclude their session; it was an unprecedented attempt to resolve the escalating political crisis in British North America while defending colonial rights. Before the representatives departed from Carpenters’ Hall that day, they approved one final message: ...

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2 | New Subjects to the King: Canadians and the Province of Quebec

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pp. 17-30

In addressing its letter to the “Inhabitants” of Quebec, the first Continental Congress was communicating with several audiences in that province. Not only were there French-Canadians and Anglo-Protestants who had settled there from elsewhere in the British Empire, but within those two broad categories, markedly different class divisions existed as well. ...

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3 | Fuel for Rebellion: The British Party and the Quebec Act of 1774

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pp. 31-44

Quebec’s New French heritage had an undeniable influence on Canadien views and sentiments; their basic societal structure and many core values were clear products of that earlier era. Yet by the time Congress wrote its first address to Quebec, almost an entire generation had lived with a British presence in the colony. ...

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4 | Authors and Agitators: Patriot Correspondence and John Brown’s Mission

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pp. 45-56

In September and October 1774, coincidental developments in Canada and Philadelphia generated a slow convergence of two growing political crises: the struggle over Canada’s form of government, and the Continental colonies’ conflict with the Ministry. The Quebec Act helped draw both movements closer. ...

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5 | Preemptive Strikes: Ticonderoga and Fort St-Jean

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pp. 57-70

The Quebec Act went into effect on 1 May 1775, despite British Party calls for repeal. That morning, as Montréal’s citizens stirred and soldiers called their morning roll, a shocking sight was discovered in the Place d’Armes. Under the shadow of Notre-Dame Church, the life-size white marble bust of King George III had been vandalized, ...

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6 | That Damned Absurd Word "Liberty": Quebec’s Own Rebellion

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pp. 71-86

In Montréal, the atmosphere relaxed somewhat by the end of May, as the chaos of the St-Jean raids slipped into the near past; but there were still tensions among the populace. Garrison commander Lieutenant-Colonel Templer sent his eight French-Canadian elite appointees1 through the city and suburbs to enroll citizens for the militia, anticipating future threats. ...

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7 | To Erect the Glorious Standard of American Liberty in Canada: The Decision to Intervene

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pp. 87-101

Even after Ethan Allen and the Connecticut expedition seized Ticonderoga for the patriot cause, the confederated colonies continued to have reason to worry in the north. Benedict Arnold’s erroneous “escaped prisoner report” led decision makers to believe that Governor Carleton had hundreds of regular troops poised to recover the forts. ...

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8 | The Canadians Opened the Road: Continentals and Partisans on the Richelieu River

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pp. 102-120

When the Continental Northern Army sailed down Lake Champlain at the end of August 1775, it was led by a man who had been an “American” for only three years, Brigadier-General Richard Montgomery. An Irish-born British officer, he had served with distinction at Louisbourg and in the Champlain-Richelieu corridor during the French and Indian War, ...

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9 | The Treachery and Villainy of the Canadians: Collaboration, Resistance, and Siege in the Montreal District

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pp. 121-138

After Ethan Allen’s Longue-Pointe defeat, archradical Thomas Walker’s days were numbered. Interrogated after the battle, rebel prisoners implicated Walker in the affair, describing his promise to join them with hundreds of men. The governor made a minimally confrontational attempt to detain him, ...

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10 | Another Path to the Heart of Quebec: Canada’s Capital, Hannibal’s Heir, and the Kennebec Expedition

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pp. 139-153

Meanwhile, far from the rebel Northern Army, Quebec and Three Rivers Districts demonstrated their own share of resistance and rebellion, with habitants opposing both government orders and Church authority. The first downstream resistance sprang up just as the rebel army made its second landing near Fort St-Jean; yet its origins were entirely local. ...

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11 | To Winter in Canada: “Free” Montréal and Fortress Québec

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pp. 154-169

Montgomery’s Northern Army rapidly departed from the St-Jean area within days of the fort’s surrender, and the general joined his men at Laprairie on 6 November. The haggard Continentals quickly erected a camp, but the frosty November air made it “very uncomfortable living in tents.” ...

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12 | Time to Consider Politics: The Continental Congress, the Northern Army, and a Committee for Canada

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pp. 170-181

Even before the fall of Fort Chambly, New Hampshire delegates believed: “We are likely soon to be in possession of St. John’s [St-Jean] and Canada,” and John Adams noted the “very promising Intelligence concerning the operations of the Northern Army.” It was easy to forget that many measures were needed to ensure military and political success, ...

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13 | Contest of Wills at Québec: The Fortress Capital — Key to Victory?

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pp. 182-199

Isolated behind Québec City’s ramparts, loyalists were disgusted by the unwillingness of the habitants to bring provisions into the capital following Arnold’s 19 November departure. Whether from “ingratitude, or fear of the resentment of the rebels,” the locals were “neither bringing provisions nor allowing them to be brought by others.” ...

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14 | The Question of Loyalists: General Wooster and “Liberated” Montréal, 1775

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pp. 200-212

While Québec City had a vital role in the United Colonies’ military effort, Montréal was the natural focus for political activity. The city had been home to Canada’s most outspoken patriots and was now freed from Ministerial rule. After Montgomery’s late November departure to join Arnold outside the Canadian capital, ...

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15 | A Critical Month: Wooster’s Montréal, January 1776

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pp. 213-225

On 3 January 1776, frozen, road-worn Canadian Edward Antill arrived in Montréal, delivering the first word of Montgomery’s Québec City defeat. The catastrophe threw tremendous weight on General David Wooster’s shoulders; his responsibilities grew severalfold as the command of all Continental troops in Canada devolved to him. ...

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16 | Evolving Occupation: Montréal and the Struggle for the Canadian Spirit

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pp. 226-242

With renewed confidence at the end of January 1776, General David Wooster decided it was time to confront the Montréal militia officers decisively on exchanging their royal commissions for Continental equivalents. The general believed that “the whole posse of Tories” — men such as outspoken Tory Edward William Gray ...

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17 | A Spirit of Cooperation and Understanding: William Goforth, Jean-Baptiste Badeaux, and Trois-Rivières

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pp. 243-258

The United Colonies’ adventure in Canada was heavily focused on Montréal and Québec City. While the province’s third city, Trois-Rivières, had a relatively minor role in the overall campaign, it offers a particularly interesting case study in Continental-Canadien relations. During one New York captain’s two-month tour of duty in that city, ...

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18 | Patriot Zealots: Benedict Arnold, Canadian Patriots, and the Québec City Blockade

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pp. 259-274

Downriver, outside Québec City, Benedict Arnold faced a tremendously taxing situation after the New Year’s Eve defeat. Seriously wounded and bedridden, Colonel Arnold had to restore order among his remaining troops, maintain a blockade around the capital, aggressively press General Wooster and Congress for support, ...

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19 | Spring of Unrest: A Canadian Battle in the Quebec District

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pp. 275-289

Even as Captains Clément Gosselin and Pierre Ayotte roved the south-shore parishes recruiting Canadian Continentals, loyalist resistance began to congeal in the very same region (see Map 10). Ste-Anne-de-la-Pocatière’s priest Pierre-Antoine Porlier served as a secret Tory rallying point. ...

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20 | A Late-Changing Cast: New Continental Leadership for Canada

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pp. 290-302

The composition of Congress’s Committee to Canada, officially named on 15 February, contrasted with November’s Committee to the Northern Army, which had consisted of New Englanders and one New Yorker. The new committee members were all middle colonists: Pennsylvania’s Benjamin Franklin and Maryland’s Samuel Chase, both members of Congress; ...

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21 | May Tides: New Arrivals and Massive Change for the Province

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pp. 303-315

Following their 26 March departure from Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Chase, Charles Carroll, and John Carroll adopted a deliberate pace toward Canada. Sailing up the Hudson, they surveyed progress on the Hudson River fortifications, reaching Albany on 8 April. Major-General Schuyler hosted them at his Saratoga estate for almost a week ...

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22 | The Sad Necessity of Abandoning Canada: Military Collapse and the End of the Canadian Continental Experience

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pp. 316-331

“The poor inhabitants” were confused by the Continental collapse on 6 May. Seeing “the roads full of people, shamefully flying,” it seemed the rebel force was abandoning Canada. Rather than commit to either side at this point, General Thomas reported habitants did “not afford us the least assistance, but kept themselves concealed.” ...

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23 | The Causes of the Miscarriages in Canada: Carleton and Congress Investigate the Failures

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pp. 332-344

In Philadelphia, delegates reacted to the news of Québec City’s relief and the Continental flight with a similar surge of activity to that which had followed Montgomery’s defeat and the Battle of St-Pierre. The very day word arrived — 16 May — a new committee was formed to address the letters that bore the unfortunate news. ...

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Conclusion: Misinterpretations and Missteps in a War to Spread Democracy

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pp. 345-354

In 1776, Congress analyzed the Canadian debacle only in terms of a traditional military campaign, even though they had intentionally launched a revolutionary war in Quebec — a struggle for the will of a people.1 The delegates did not investigate political-diplomatic failures and did not question why Quebec Province failed to follow the course of its southern neighbors. ...

Appendix 1: Canadian Voices: A Note on Sources

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pp. 355-358

Appendix 2: The Polarized Legacy of General David Wooster

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pp. 359-360


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pp. 361-416

Select Bibliography

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pp. 417-430


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pp. 431-438

E-ISBN-13: 9781611684988
E-ISBN-10: 1611684986
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611684971

Page Count: 432
Publication Year: 2013