Montgomery' was to reduce the forts on Lake Champlain and the Richelieu river, seize Montreal and then proceed to Quebec and join forces with Arnold. On November 12th, 1775, Montgomery's army, having captured the Lake Champlain and Richelieu forts, crossed the St. Lawrence to the island of Montreal. The energetic Carleton made his escape by night in an open boat, and Montgomery, unopposed, marched his men into the de-fenceless city. Carleton, guided by a Canadian, Captain Bouchette, safely reached Quebec and made ready to hold the citadel against the invaders. On December 22nd, he ordered all who would not join in the defence to leave within four days. He now found himself with 300 regulars, 330 Anglo-Canadian militia, 543 seamen and marines, 120 artificers capable of bearing arms, and about 600 French Canadians.
The fate of the country seemed to depend upon Quebec. Arnold, reaching the St. Lawrence and crossing to the Quebec shore, made an unsuccessful attack from the Plains of Abraham and retired to await General Montgomery. On the latter's arrival, the combined force invested the city but postponed an attack until a favour-able opportunity presented itself. This occurred on the 31st of December, 1775. Montgomery's attack was repulsed by a small force of fifty men, more than half of whom were French Canadians under Captain Chabot and Lieutenant Picard. Four small cannon and sharp musketry-fire swept Montgomery's column, as it stole, through the darkness and a blinding snowstorm, round the base of the cliff on which stood the citadel, and laid the general himself low. A handful of Canadians obstinately opposed Arnold's column as it marched through St. Roch's suburb. When the Continentals planted a scaling ladder against the inner barricade on St. James Street, a militia-man named Charland, a French-Canadian giant, advanced
1 Major-General Philip John Schuyler was associated with Montgomery in this command, but his health broke down and he retired before St. Johns was reached.