Richard Montgomery

Portrait by Artist to Come

QUICK FACTS
BORN:
2 December 1738 in Swords, Ireland
  DIED:
31 December 1775 in Quebec City, Quebec
Buried at Quebec City; remains moved in 1818 to St. Paul’s Chapel, New York, NY

Richard Montgomery, British soldier in the Seven Years’ War and Continental Army officer during the American Revolution, was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1736.

Educated at St Andrew’s and at Trinity College in Dublin, he entered the British army in 1756. He became captain six years later. He saw war service at Louisbourg (a fortress in Nova Scotia, Canada) in 1757 and in the Lake Champlain expedition of 1759. As an adjutant of his regiment (the 17th foot) he shared in the final threefold advance upon Montreal. Later he was present at Martinique and Havana.

In 1772 he left the army, settled in New York, and married a daughter of Robert R. Livingston. Three years later he was a delegate to the first Provincial Congress of New York and became brigadier-general in the Continental Army.

Montgomery was sent with General Philip Schuyler on the disastrous Canadian expedition to take Quebec City. And when Schuyler fell ill, the command became his. Hampered by the inclemency of the season and the gross indiscipline of the troops, he went forward, gaining a few minor successes and capturing the colors of the 7th (Royal) Fusiliers. At Point aux Trembles, he met up with Benedict Arnold’s contingent, and together they pushed on to Quebec. Barely 800 strong they nonetheless made an assault on 31 December 1775.

At almost the first discharge Montgomery was instantly killed.

The body of the American general was honorably interred by the Quebec garrison. Congress approved a memorial to be erected at St Paul’s Chapel in New York. And in 1818 his remains were transferred from Quebec and buried in the churchyard.

ADAPTED FROM:
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 ed.

By the mid 1770s, Champlain’s Quebec had grown into a huge province stretching to the Mississippi River and including modern-day Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. It was home to eighty thousand inhabitants, though only 2 percent of them spoke English. Despite its official status as a North American colony under British rule, Quebec never became a part of the coalition of colonies that eventually declared their independence in 1776. Language and religious differences set the Québécois well apart from their neighbors to the south, and when representatives of the lower thirteen colonies met at the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774, no delegate from Quebec answered the roll.

Thomas A. Desjardin
Through a Howling Wilderness: Benedict Arnold’s March to Quebec, 1775 (2006)