Ethan Allen Captured at Montreal in 1775

Depiction of the capture of Ethan Allen at Montreal.

Battle of Montreal (1775)

September 24, 1775–September 25, 1755 — Revolutionary War

The Battle of Montreal, also known as the Battle of Longue-Pointe, was fought from September 24-25, 1775, during the Revolutionary War. The battle was won by the British forces, who defeated American forces led by Ethan Allen. Allen was captured and eventually sent to England where he was held as a prisoner of war.

When Parliament passed the Quebec Act of 1774, the boundaries of Canada were extended south to the Ohio River. Colonies that bordered the Ohio Country were alarmed because Americans were already expanding westward and settling in the area.

After the battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775, militia forces under the command of Ethan Allen captured Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point on Lake Champlain, which helped give the Americans control of the Hudson River Valley. Despite this, the Continental Congress still viewed Canada as a threat.

The Continental Congress organized the militia forces that were laying siege to Boston into the Continental Army and named George Washington as commander-in-chief. The Congress also decided that a takeover of Canada was an important part of defeating the British in North America, and a plan was put in place to invade Canada and capture Montreal and Quebec.

The first phase of the plan was to capture Fort St. John on the Richelieu River, north of Lake Champlain. American forces under the command of Brigadier General Richard Montgomery were unable to capture Fort St. John and were forced to lay siege to it.

Montgomery sent Ethan Allen and John Brown out into the countryside to recruit Canadians to help the Americans in their fight against the British. When they had enough recruits they were supposed to return to Fort St. John. However, Allen and Brown decided on another course of action and they attempted to capture Montreal on their own.

Facts About the Date and Location of the Battle

  • The operation occurred over two days, September 24 and 25, although fighting only happened on the 25th.
  • Montreal is located on the St. Lawrence River in the Quebec Province of Canada.
  • At the time of the battle, the city only took up a small portion of the island.
  • Longue-Pointe was located north of Montreal, on the east bank of the island, and is where the fighting actually occurred.

Montreal and its Walls 1760

Illustration of the fortified city of Montreal, as it appeared in 1760.

Facts About the Prelude to the Battle

  • While the Continental Army laid siege to Fort St. John, Sir Guy Carleton, the Governor of the Quebec Province, knew it was only a matter of time before the Americans attacked Montreal.
  • General Richard Montgomery was in command of the American forces at St. John, and he sent Colonel Ethan Allen and Major John Brown to recruit Canadians to join their cause and help take Fort St. John.
  • Allen went north along the Richelieu River, towards Montreal, and was able to pick up some recruits. Brown also went north, to La Prairie, just across the river from Montreal.
  • Allen wanted to attack Montreal, but many of his recruits decided to leave, and he was left with roughly 110 men. With such a small force, he abandoned the idea of attacking Montreal and set out to return to St. John.
  • On the way back, he met up with Brown, who had about 200 men. They believed that between the two contingents they had enough men to take Montreal, and devised a plan where Allen would lead his men across the St. Lawrence River and land below the city, while Brown and his men would cross the river and land above the city.
  • When spies informed him of the American maneuvers, Carleton devised a plan to trap the American forces on the outskirts of the city.

Facts About Key Participants in the Battle

  • General Sir Guy Carleton, John Campbell, Colonel Richard Prescott
  • Colonel Ethan Allen, Major John Brown

Facts About Key Events of the Battle

  • Allen and his men crossed the St. Lawrence River under cover of darkness on the night of September 24. Unfortunately, Brown and his men were not able to get across the river.
  • Allen was forced to take a defensive position a few miles outside of the city, so he could wait for daylight and then cross back over the river to safety.
  • Carleton attacked Allen’s position with a force made up of regulars, militia, and Indians.
  • After a brief skirmish, most of Allen’s men scattered.
  • Allen was unable to organize a withdrawal and was forced to surrender.

Facts About Casualties of the Battle

  • There were no casualties for the British.
  • An unknown number of American forces were killed, and 40, including Ethan Allen, were captured.

Facts About Result and Aftermath of the Battle

  • The defeat damaged the American cause because afterward many Canadians did not believe the Americans could win the war. They either remained neutral or decided to fight on the side of the British. Many Indians also decided to fight on the side of the British.
  • When the British found out they had captured Ethan Allen, they sent him to England where he was held in prison. The British did not hang him, because they were concerned the Americans would retaliate by hanging a British officer. Allen was eventually sent back to American, where he was exchanged for British officer Archibald Campbell.
  • After Fort Chambly was captured and Fort St. John surrendered to Montgomery’s forces, Carleton withdrew his forces from Montreal and relocated them to Quebec.
  • Montgomery advanced on Montreal and landed troops on Isle des Soeurs (also known as Nun’s Island) in the St. Lawrence River outside of the city on November 11.
  • On November 12, Montgomery met with a committee of citizens who agreed to surrender the city to him. The American occupation began on November 13.
  • On November 28, he left for Quebec with a small force of 300 men. He left Montreal, Fort St. John, and Chambly with 500 men under the command of Brigadier General David Wooster.
  • When Montgomery reached Quebec he met up with Benedict Arnold and his army, which had traveled from Cambridge to Quebec through the Maine wilderness.
  • They eventually attacked the city on December 31 in the Battle of Quebec.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Battle of Montreal (1775)
  • Coverage September 24, 1775–September 25, 1755
  • Author
  • Keywords Battle of Montreal, Longue-Pointe, Invasion of Canada, Revolutionary War, Ethan Allen
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date January 17, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update January 9, 2021