A Pale Flush of Victory
The first 12 months of the war had gone far better than any self-respecting oddsmaker would have predicted. The British had been forced out of New England and the South. However, a key American hope had also been dashed. The Patriots had tried to persuade the French citizens of Quebec to make common cause with them against the British. American strategists understood that, as long as the British conducted the war from far-off London, the Patriot cause would enjoy a great advantage. However, if the British should begin to use nearby Canada as the staging area for an invasion of the colonies, that advantage would evaporate. Unfortunately, the French Canadians were unwilling to initiate any action themselves. But, fortified by successes in defending against the British in New England and the South, the Americans decided to take the offensive.
An army under General Richard Montgomery marched from upper New York and captured Montreal on November 10, 1775. Simultaneously, troops commanded by Colonel Benedict Arnold advanced through the wilderness of Maine to unite with Montgomery’s units in an attack on the walled city of Quebec. The invaders were beaten back, and Montgomery was killed on December 30. American forces maintained a blockade of the Canadian capital through May 1776, but the offensive in Canada had petered out, and Americans would stay out of the region for the rest of the war.