The Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812

Objective: Montreal!

A Long-awaited Attack

In 1813 the Niagara Peninsula remained the theatre for several additional battles and skirmishes that alone could not seal the fate of the country. In the fall, however, the danger worsened when the Americans sent not one but two armies to attack Montreal! The operation was led by General James Wilkinson, a seasoned veteran who replaced Dearborn as commander-in-chief of the American army. He would lead the main army of 8,800 men equipped with 38 field cannons and 20 siege cannons; they advanced on Montreal from the west along the St. Lawrence. The second army, commanded by General Wade Hampton, consisted of 5,500 men and 10 field cannons. This army came up the Châteauguay River to Montreal, where it joined the first. The two armies were primarily regular troops, supported by volunteers.

The menace was a major one: Montreal, the strategic key to Canada, did not have any fortifications. Its old crumbling walls dated from the French regime and had been razed in 1810. In any event, such fortifications would be unable to withstand a large, well-equipped siege artillery. The enemy had to be stopped at the outposts. Approximately 6,000 British and Canadians attempted to do just that to the south of the city from Laprairie to Île-aux-Noix.