GENERAL RICHARD MONTGOMERY
“Brief, brave, and glorious was his young career…For he was freedom’s champion…” Richard Montgomery was born in Raphoe, Ireland, on December 2, 1736, and served in the British army from 1756-1773, where he rose to the rank of captain. He decided to leave his service in the British army and settled in New York where he married Janet Livingston. Later, when offered a position as brigadier general in the Continental army, Montgomery accepted.
General Washington is known to have said that Quebec was “of the utmost importance to the interest and liberties of America.” General Montgomery, known for his patriotism, conduct in war, and great perseverance, was sent into Canada to conquer the cities of Montreal and Quebec. With a victory over Montreal, his troops approached Quebec. As was his belief and style, General Montgomery positioned himself at the very front of his battalion. Only 37, he was killed at point-blank range at dawn on December 31, 1775, by British troops that lay in ambush—and thus became the first American general to be killed in the American War for Independence. Without his leadership, the assault by his troops on Quebec was doomed to failure. As Benedict Arnold, usually a severe critic said, had he not “received the fatal shot…the town would have been ours.” Americans treated Montgomery as a martyr in their struggle for independence.
Before 1776, Frederick County in Maryland comprised what we know today as Frederick, Washington, and Montgomery counties. On September 6, 1776, Frederick County was split in three. The counties to the north and south were both named for two prominent generals in the War for Independence—one for General George Washington, the other for General Richard Montgomery.
It is fitting that Richard Montgomery High School, with its goals and successes, vitality, and leadership role in the county seat and the county, should have been named for this young and dedicated general. Known for his brave, humane, and generous ways, as well as his determination to fight for what is right, he stands as a model for students, staff, and families alike. We remember him with great honor as we dedicate this new building in his name.
Credit to: Hal T. Shelton, General Richard Montgomery and the American Revolution. New York: New York University Press, 1994; Pat Anderson; and the Montgomery County Historical Society.