During the summer and fall of 1813, the Americans had won a victory at Moraviatown and endured a humiliating defeat at Stoney Creek. In September 1813, a large American force under the command of Brigadier-General Wade Hampton moved north, crossing from the Richelieu River to the smaller Châteauguay. The objective of these troops was the capture of Montreal.
The majority of the British troops in Canada were stationed in Upper Canada, and few regulars were available to counter Hampton's advance. As a result, the task of stopping the Americans fell upon Lieutenant-Colonel Charles de Salaberry and his Régiment de Voltigeurs. Although hopelessly outnumbered, de Salaberry and his troops established a defensive position on the Châteauguay River, 15 miles (24 kilometres) south of Montreal.
Hampton launched an attack on the Voltigeurs, while a smaller American detachment attempted to move around the flank of the tiny force. De Salaberry's troops met the American attack with devastating volleys of fire. The Americans were in disarray. Lieutenant-Colonel de Salaberry had ordered buglers to scatter throughout the woods, and, when they sounded their horns, the Americans thought that a huge British force was attacking them. Confusion turned into panic as the Americans abandoned their guns and equipment and fled.