Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What would have become of hockey if Benedict Arnold had succeeded?

Great battles such as Gettysburg and Waterloo were waged by hundreds of thousands of soldiers. However, it is the battles fought with small forces that often have the greatest implications. Few battles fought with just over 3000 men have had as great of impact on history and geography as the December 31, 1775 Battle of Quebec. 

The rebellion in the American colonies had just begun. In December of 1775 independence was still over half-a-year away. The colonists were still sorting out who would side with them, and who would oppose them. While General George Washington blockaded Boston, Major General Benedict Arnold led a force up Lake Champlain into Canada. His mission was to bring the Canadian colonists over to the side of the rebellion.

Arnold captured Fort St. John and Montreal. In late October Arnold reached Quebec. The long journey had taken a toll on Arnold's army and he was short of men. Arnold demanded that the Quebec garrison surrender or fight. After they did neither, he attacked. The attack failed. 

Arnold waited until Brigadier General Richard Montgomery arrived with reinforcements. Together they assaulted Quebec on December 31st during a snowstorm. The American and British forces each numbers around 1200 men. Montgomery's assault was repelled. Montgomery was killed. Arnold's troops were able to gain the city wall. Troops that had defeated Montgomery rushed to meet Arnold's troops. The American colonists that were in the city were soon captured. Arnold was wounded during the attack.

The failed campaign marked the only attempt to bring the Canadians in on the side of the Americans. Canada would remain in British hands after the war, and even into the 20th century. If the Americans had succeeded in capturing Quebec it is quite possible that all of Canada would have come under control of America. A combined Canada and United States would be the largest country in the world, rich in abundant natural resources. As for hockey, perhaps it is best that Arnold failed to make Canada the 14th American colony.

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