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American Revolutionary War Battles

The Battle of the Cedars (Les Cèdres)

May 15-26, 1776 near Montreal, Canada

During the American invasion, the Americans briefly held Montreal which was commanded by Colonel Moses Hazen. Because of concerns about British activity to the west, Hazen sent 400 troops commanded by Colonel Timothy Bedel of Bedel's Regiment to occupy the Cedars.

The command of the American garrison at Montreal was temporarily taken up by Hazen while Colonel Benedict Arnold traveled northward to join Brigadier General John Thomas' troops. Reports of British activity to the west caused Hazen to order Bedel and a 400-man force to defend The Cedars. The post was on the St. Lawrence River, 30 miles west of Montreal.

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Facts about the Battle of the Cedars (Les Cèdres)

  • Armies - American Forces was commanded by Maj. Isaac Butterfield, Maj. Henry Sherburne, and Col. Benedict Arnold and consisted of about 400 regulars and militiamen. British Forces was commanded by Capt. George Forster and consisted of about 50 Soldiers and about 204 Iroquois.
  • Casualties - American casualties were estimated to be 5-6 wounded and the rest captured. British had no casualties.
  • Outcome - The result of the battle was a tactical British victory. The battle was part of the Invasion of Quebec 1775-76.

The Battle Begins

Battle Of The Cedars map

Battle Of The Cedars map

On May 15, Bedel learned that a British force of about 150 British troops of the 8th Regiment of Foot and about 500 Iroquois commanded by Captain George Forster was headed toward The Cedars. Bedel left Major Isaac Butterfield in charge of the post and then left for Montreal for reinforcements. Hazen directed Major Henry Sherburne's relief force of 100 men toward The Cedars, but it arrived too late.

On May 16, Sherburne's relief force started towards The Cedars. Arnold started to gather a larger force to send a little while later. Forster's British force confronted the smaller American garrison and Butterfield surrendered the garrison without a fight. He agreed to a cartel with Forster in which that Butterfield received assurances that the Americans would be protected from the Indians accompanying him in exchange for the British to acquire the post.

On May 20, Sherburne's relief force landed at Quinze Chiens, located 9 miles from The Cedars. They did not know that Butterfield had already surrendered. They marched into a British ambush about 4 miles from The Cedars. They fought the British for about 40 minutes before they were forced to surrender. The British executed 2 prisoners that night and 5 were later tortured and killed by the Iroquois.

On May 26, the British force had moved their camp to Quinze Chiens when Forster learned of Col. Arnold's relief column was approaching. Forster sent Sherburne to Arnold to let him know about the earlier agreed-upon cartel with Butterfield. If Arnold disregarded the cartel, Forster would release the prisoners to the Iroquois. Arnold agreed to take the prisoners and return to Montreal.

Aftermath

The blame for the American defeat was initially placed on Bedel by Arnold. As a result, Bedel was removed from command.

Following the surrender at the Cedars, some of the American prisoners were quickly exchanged for British soldiers captured at the Battle of Fort St. Jean.