Site of American General Montgomery’s Defeat (160 block of Boulevard Champlain, on retaining wall)
To Americans especially, everything connected with their gallant, but ill-fated countryman, General Richard Montgomery, who fell in the night attack by the American revolutionary forces on Quebec on the 31st of December, 1775, is of deep interest. The spot where he fell, the place to which his body was taken and laid out for interment, and the ground in which it by buried for forty-three years, are rightfully sacred in their eyes. From the Dufferin Terrace, the narrow pass in Boulevard Champlain, immediately below the Citadel, where he, and his two aides de camp, Majors Cheeseman and McPherson, and thirteen of his brave soldiers were mowed down by a murderous discharge of grape and canister from the British blockhouse guarding the pass, can be easily seen.
Through the exertions of the Quebec Literary and Historical Society, during the month of December, 1904, two bronze tablets, were placed in commemoration of Montgomery and Arnold’s defeat by the English on the 31st of December, 1775. One of those bronze tablets with the following inscription was placed on the rock under Cape Diamond:
THE UNDAUNTED FIFTY
AT THE PRES DE VILLE BARRICADE
ON THE LAST DAY OF 1775
COMMANDING AT QUEBEC
The second one was placed in the Molson’s Bank, corner of St. Peter and St. James Street, with the following inscription:
HERE OLD AND NEW DEFENDERS
UNITING, GUARDING SAVING
AT THE SAULT AU MATELOT BARRICADE
ON THE LAST DAY OF 1775
The wording of the above inscription is designed to bring out the notable fact that there were only fifty men on the British side, defending this barricade against Montgomery, who had a force variously estimated at from 500 to 700. These are described as “undaunted” because, apart from their gallantry in repelling the assault, they had been long exposed to the invaders’ threat of treating them with the utmost rigor of war if they persisted in their allegiance. And, though they could not have resisted it at the time, they were then the only means of “safeguarding” the great Dominion of today.
The men at the Sault au Matelot barricade are called “Her old and new defenders” because the different racial elements of both the old and new regimes were here “uniting” for the first time in history, and thus “guarding” and “saving” the Canada of their own day and of ours. Among them were Frenchmen, French-Canadians, Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotchmen, Welshmen, Channel Islanders and Newfoundlanders, who each and all bravely took their dangerous share of Empire-building in a perilous time, which seemed to offer them no other honors and rewards than those of lost causes and a gallant despair.
Courtesy of Google Maps (accessed 8/2/2013)