The First Continental Congress assembles at Philadelphia. Within a short period of time a "Declaration of Rights and Grievances" is adopted.
"Resolutions were adopted at Westminster, Vt., foreshadowing plans for the erection of a new royal province combining the disputed territory (New Hampshire Grants) and adjacent New York lands west to Lake Ontario, with Skenesborough as capital. Such men as Col. [Ethan] Allen, Bird and Col. [Philip] Skene were interested but the outbreak of the Revolution put an end to all such plans."**
The American War for Independence begins with the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
"Edward Mott arrived at Hartford and was at once invited to become one of the committee in charge of the expedition against Ticonderoga and Crown Point, which had been set on foot by Gentlemen connected with the General Assembly. David Wooster, Silas Deane and Noah Phelps were also members. Mott took 15 men from Connecticut, raised 39 in western Massachusetts and set out for Bennington. There Capt. Mott was made chairman of the committee which made Allen military commander of the expedition."**
"Ethan Allen with a band of two hundred and seventy men and Benedict Arnold with a Colonel's commission from the Committee of Safety of Massachusetts, authorizing him to raise a regiment of four hundred men, met at Castleton, Vt. to lead an expedition to the surprise of Ticonderoga."**
"Main body of troops under Arnold and Allen left Castleton, to proceed by land to a point opposite Ticonderoga. At the same time, Capt. Herrick was sent to seize the small fort at Skeenesborough, take the vessels collected there, and meet Allen and transport his party across the lake."**
"Allen's party reached the shore of the lake opposite Ticonderoga early in the evening, and Herrick, not having arrived, had to procure a supply of boats in the neighborhood. A large oar boat belonging to Major Skene, was seized by James Wilcox and Joseph Tyler, while other boats were procured from other quarters. In the meantime, Capt. Herrick captured Major Skene, twelve negroes and about fifty dependents or tenants without firing a gun; took a large schooner and several small boats, afterwards joining Allen at Ticonderoga."**
"As the day began to dawn, but 83 of Allen's men had crossed the lake and the commander of the Green Mountain Boys resolved to wait no longer. While the boats were sent back for the rear divisions, under the direction of young Nathan Beman, whose home was on the opposite shore at Shoreham, the intrepid party entered the fort by a covered way, and the surrender of the surprised garrison resulted in a few minutes, about 4 o'clock in the morning. The prisoners were the first of the Revolution and the cannon captured, drawn by ox-teams to Boston, enabled General Washington to make good his works on Dorchester Heights. Later Warner arrived with the remaining troops, and was dispatched with a detachment of men to take Crown Point, but strong head winds drove back the boats and all returned the same evening. It was after the surprise of Ti that the altercations, according to Nathan Beman, occurred between Arnold and Allen, during which the latter became so enraged that he struck Arnold's hat from his head, and the sight of it, gay with tinsel and rolling in the mud, was never forgotten by the boy-witness. Dr. Jonas Fay of Bennington was there that day as surgeon and he continued in that position after the arrival of Col. Elmore's Connecticut regiment."**
The American rebels claim their first victory. It takes place on Lake Champlain when Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold and 83 Green Mountain Boys take Fort Ticonderoga. Garrisoned by fewer than 50 men, the fort surrenders without a fight. This seemingly unimportant event makes available to the rebels sorely needed cannon, small arms and other materiel of great value to the rebels. [Note: typo corrected 12/14/01, "...832 Green Mountain Boys..." changed to "...83 Green Mountain Boys...]***
"Crown Point, now garrisoned by a sergeant and twelve men only, captured by [Seth] Warner and Capt. Remember Baker. The latter with his company had been summoned from the Winooski river settlement by Allen, and on the way had met and captured two boats bound for St. John's with news of the capture of Ticonderoga."**
Colonel Seth Warner takes the British fort at Crown Point. Although the fort has been allowed to fall into disrepair by the British, the tiny garrison of a dozen men hand over another 100 or so cannon to the rebels.
"Arnold embarked at Crown Point with fifty men on board the schooner captured at Skenesborough, since fitted out and armed."**
Benedict Arnold, commanding a 41 foot schooner named the "Liberty" sails North to St. Jean, Quebec together with 50 men. Arnold captures a 70 ton sloop and 13 British soldiers without sustaining any losses. The captured vessel is renamed "Enterprise."
"At six o'clock Thursday morning, Arnold and his men, after a night of hard rowing in two small bateaux, reached St. Johns. The small garrison, was soon taken with arms and stores, the King's sloop with crew of seven men, two brass six-pounders, and four bateaux, while five were destroyed, leaving no boat for pursuit. Two hours later, the daring band started for Ticonderoga, on the captured sloop, re-christened the Enterprise. Their own vessel, the schooner captured at Skenesborough, they had left becalmed thirty miles above St. Johns."**
"Arnold and his party reached Crown Point on the King's sloop captured at St. Johns, and now called the Enterprise. On the way they had met Allen's party going north."**
"English troops at St. Johns fired upon Allen's party with six field pieces and two hundred small arms. This fire Allen returned but, realizing the superior numbers of the enemy hastily re-embarked for Crown Point."**
"Allen's party reached Ticonderoga in the evening and found Arnold's party had arrived two days before."**
"Allen wrote to Congress: ' I would lay my life on it, that with fifteen hundred men I could take Montreal.' "**
The British win a somewhat hollow victory at Bunker Hill in Boston, sustaining 1,150 casualties to the rebels 411.
George Washington is appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.
General Philip Schuyler is appointed Commander of the Northern Department. This theater of operations includes Lakes George and Champlain.
The Continental Congress determines to fit out an expedition for the invasion of Canada. Some three thousand New York and New England troops are ordered to assemble at Crown Point and Ticonderoga. Schuyler appoints General Richard Montgomery to lead the army of invasion.
"Arnold resigned his commission and Col. Hinman with a thousand men took possession of Ti."**
Invasion of Canada
Montgomery sets out from Ticonderoga for the American invasion of Canada. With him are a mere 1,200 troops. After a brief bivouac at Isle La Motte to disembark some 200 ailing soldiers, the tiny force is joined by General Schuyler, who orders an immediate advance into Canada.
"Arrival of Gen. Schuyler at the sandy beach of Isle La Motte, where the army under Montgomery had been awaiting his coming since August 31. That same night the army moved on towards Isle Aux Noix. On the night of August 30, Montgomery's troops had encamped at the Gilliland settlement and Mr. Gilliland had furnished some of the boats for transportation and had acted as guide for the army."**
The army reaches Isle aux Noix. A chevaux-de-frise, a boom or barrier to passage, is placed across the Richelieu at the narrows here. The Americans are aware of the two 52 foot, 18-cannon gun-boats the British have at St. Johns. These vessels must not be allowed passage into the lake.
The American forces begin an attack of the Fort at St. John's, Quebec. Meeting spirited resistance, they promptly pull back to Isle aux Noix, only to return again in earnest on September 10. The British garrison is safely entrenched and well supplied. The American forces, on the other hand, are poorly equipped to maintain a siege. While his army continues to press the fort at St. John's, Montgomery sends a detachment north to the old French fort at Chambly, now primarily a storage facility for the British.
"Montgomery had a slight skirmish with the enemy and later, 'formed an entrenched camp at the junction of the roads leading from Montreal and Chambly.' "**
A detachment of scouts under the command of Ethan Allen is captured near Montreal by the British under Carleton. The hero of Ticonderoga, head of the Green Mountain Boys, is put in irons and sent to England on a prison ship.
"At Ticonderoga the troops were crowded in vile barracks and, though provisions , fresh and salt, and spruce beer were plentiful, tents and hospital stores were lacking, and 726 men had been discharged since July 20 on account of illness."**
Another American army, this one under the command of Benedict Arnold, sets out through the howling wilderness of Maine for Quebec City. Traveling up the Kennebec, Dead, and Chaudiere Rivers, this force of some 1100 brave men undertake an heroic advance fraught with hardship. Generations later, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Kenneth Roberts will tell this dramatic tale in "Arundel".
"General Schuyler still suffering from the results of a bilious fever and rheumatism, was obliged to give up all thought of leading the invasion into Canada and in a covered boat set out for Ticonderoga, about an hour from Isle aux Noix, meeting with Warner and 170 Green Mountain Boys.'**
"The Americans have already fortified Isle aux Noix and now Fort Chambly is taken by a detachment under Majors Brown and Livingston. Carleton, also, is repulsed by Col. Seth Warner and his Green Mountain Boys, while trying to land at Longueil to raise the siege of St. Johns which is being invested by Montgomery."**
The tiny garrison at Fort Chambly falls to American troops. Promptly, the captured cannon, gunpowder and other provisions are sent south to assist in the ongoing siege of St. John's.
"Gen. Wooster's regiment of 335 men sailed from Ticonderoga to join Montgomery."**
General Guy Carleton sets out from Montreal with some 1,000 regulars and Canadian militia, intent upon breaking the siege at St. John's. They are met and repulsed by Seth Warner and his Green Mountain Boys in a battle along the St. Lawrence at Longueil.
The surrender of Fort St. John's becomes the most important victory to date for the American forces. The fall of this important fortress leaves the Richelieu an American River, and the two British vessels ceded to the Americans are an important addition to the fleet. The vessels are the schooner Royal Savage and a row galley.
"A committee consisting of Robert R. Livingston, Robert Treat Paine and J. Langdon was sent by the Continental Congress to Ticonderoga to consult with Gen. Schuyler as to the condition of the fortifications and reinforcements needed for Canada."**
"General Prescott surrenders, not only his fleet, but a large part of the garrison of Montreal and many persons of civil and military prominence who had sought safety on the vessels, to Montgomery who now enters the city."**
After Guy Carleton retreats down the St. Lawrence leaving Montreal undefended, American troops march into and take that city without a fight. American forces pursue the retreating British down the river, Carleton himself narrowly escapes capture. Carleton assumes command of fortress Quebec and awaits the American attack.
"The Green Mountain Boys, who had enlisted under Warner, not having suitable clothing to withstand the rigors of a Canadian winter, were honorably discharged and returned to their homes."**
" 'I shall set out by land to-morrow morning for Ticonderoga, and proceed with the utmost despatch, as knowing our whole dependence for cannon will be from that post.'--Col. Henry Knox at New York to Washington at Cambridge."**
"Montgomery joined Arnold at Point aux Trembles, about twenty miles above Quebec. Benjamin Vaughan, son of Dr. Benjamin Vaughan, was among the troops who had survived the march with Arnold. Benjamin reached Quebec about ten days after Montgomery's death and there had small pox, but lived to serve out his enlistment and became a pioneer in the Champlain Valley."**
Forces under General Henry Knox begin the grueling task of moving the cannon captured at Ticonderoga to Washington at Boston. With a combination of barges, bateaux and oxen-driven sledges, 59 artillery pieces weighing over 60 tons are hauled from the fort on Lake Champlain across the mountains of western Massachusetts to the American army at Boston.
Montgomery meets up with the forces of Benedict Arnold at the gates of Quebec. Arnold has just completed his remarkable journey up the Kennebec through the wilds of Maine. The combined forces, still far less in number than the massed army within the walls of the Quebec citadel, prepare to assault the city. Montgomery requests the surrender of the city, which is refused. Each side pounds the other with cannon and howitzer fire.
The assault on fortress Quebec begins. In the midst of a fierce snowstorm, American forces begin a two-pronged attack on the city. Gallant General Montgomery is killed and Benedict Arnold is wounded. The attack is unsuccessful and the remnants of the army retire to a spot some three miles upriver to endure the deprivations of another Canadian winter. The army undergoes a series of changes in command and reinforcement, but is plagued with a severe outbreak of smallpox.