Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine


Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Life of General The Hon. James Murray
Chapter VIII. The Mystery of the Anse au Foulon


In the last chapter I have detailed the circumstances leading up to the landing on the north shore at the Anse au Foulon, and the broad outlines of this review of the steps taken indicate that some information, not made public, guided the commander in his choice of the place for attack.

Very briefly summarised, the facts were that Wolfe, preparing to follow the advice given at a council of war, was making his dispositions to land near Pointe-aux-Trembles, when, apparently without antecedent cause, he changed his mind and landed with a force, not exceeding 4500 men, in the heart of the enemy's position, the place chosen being one, not only of extraordinary difficulty in itself but giving access to a terrain which his force could not cover, thereby allowing the enemy important strategic and tactical advantages. There must have been some strong determining cause for such a decision.

Let us remember that the projected landing near Pointe-aux-Trembles, where all the roads leading westward from Quebec to the interior of the colony merged into one, was a scheme essentially different from a landing at. the place chosen, which left unguarded several roads for the movement of the enemy. In the first case, to get astride the single line of communication effectually cut the whole enemy force from its supplies. In the second, there was nothing to prevent the enemy from moving towards its centre, to continue the defence of the colony. The one contained all the elements of decisive action, the other could not be decisive.

Inland at Pointe-aux-Trembles the broken, marshy, or densely wooded country prevented any movement of the troops. An entrenched position across the only road inevitably involved the surrender of the French forces, for they had no provisions to enable them to hold out, and an attack by them on the entrenched position would have been unlikely to succeed. This scheme was that which the advice of the brigadier-generals suggested, in which Wolfe acquiesced, and which he suddenly abandoned. It has been suggested by some writers that Wolfe never intended to follow the advice of his brigadiers, and only pretended to do so as a blind to his real intentions ; but the examination of the action taken, given in the preceding chapter, shows, I think, conclusively, that this argument cannot be maintained. What then was the reason that influenced him

It has become so much a habit of writers on the subject to represent Wolfe as constantly struggling against the views of his subordinates, that I think it advisable to emphasise that the advice of the brigadiers' council was tendered at Wolfe's request. There is much to indicate that this plan had been in their minds before the army had been committed to the fatal frontal attack on the French left, and that it was pressed on the General, both before and after that event, and finally took the form of recommending a reconnaissance of the upper river. On his return. Murray, to whom the duty had been entrusted, evidently strongly favoured the proposal. General Monckton, the second in command, supported his view,1 and together with Townshend submitted it to the commander-in-chief. The plan of operations proposed was so clear and so advantageous that Wolfe probably had no thought at any time but to accept the recommendation.

We know that during September 8 Wolfe was busily engaged in preparing for attack near Pointe-aux-Trembles. On the 9th the attack was definitely abandoned. It may be merely a coincidence that Major Barre, Wolfe's confidant, had just arrived from the lower river (Point Levis or Isle of Orleans) when the decision was arrived at.

On September 9 the log of the Porcupine, stationed off the Beauport shore, records that a deserter came on board in the forenoon. This man would have left the Beauport lines, where, let us remember, the French headquarters were situated, early in the morning. He was transferred to the Stirling Castle the same afternoon. At 4 a.m. the next morning (10th) we learn from the log of the Seahorse, which had been specially sent to lie off Goreham's Post to preserve the communications, that a signal was made from the shore to send a boat for letters. Finally, after some delay, owing to enemy canoes, "a packet" was brought off and despatched to General Wolfe. Now, it is clear that the " packet" must have been of a very urgent nature to merit being dispatched through the night to Goreham's Post, necessitating an escort and considerable arrangements between Point Levis camp and the Post. This "packet" would have been delivered to Geneal Wolfe in the forenoon of September 10. On this date Townshend made the entry in his diary :

"By some intelligence the General has had, he has changed his mind as to the place he intended to land ; heard we had some deserters from the enemy's camp at Beauport."

This is a very significant statement, and it seems impossible to dissociate the deserters, the urgent "packet," and the action that followed. Within two or three hours after receiving this packet General Wolfe was on his way to view the Anse au Foulon, as already recorded (p. 141), which he pointed out evidently for the first time, and apparently with some want of familiarity with the place, to his staff.

Wolfe, having decided on the 10th to attack at the Foulon, for some reason unexplained did not proceed to action at once. On the face of it there appears to be no particular reason why the attack should not have taken place on the same night, or at all events on the 11th, but on the night of the 12th, the date selected, just before starting, news of the alleged convoy * was brought to him by a deserter, who apparently came from the very place about to be attacked—a very remarkable fact.

The passage of the boats conveying the troops down the river is generally alluded to as having been carried out silently on the tide, without knowledge of the enemy, but I have pointed out how impossible it would be to escape observation. I have alluded to Remigny, the acute observer at Sillery. His reports to his chief (De Rougainville) are models of what a good intelligence officer would record. Take this one for instance, written September 6 :

"Depuis que la lune est devoillee fay etc avert is que six berges charge'es etoient descendues du caste de la rivie d'Esche-muins peut estre qu'il y en aurait d'autres qui auraient descendues avant qu'elle se fut (i.e. la lune devoillee). J'ay mande a M. Duglas (who was stationed at Anse St. Michel) dry faire grande attention . . . il pourait se faire que n'ayant pas passee cette riviere elles seroient allee pour prendre les troupes qui sont arrivees ce soir ou en deposer d'autres parce-qu'elles ont parues bien char gees sans quon pu distinguer si'l yavoit des home ou autres choses . . . 11 font a peut pres la meme bruit que hier soir, e'est a dire au prorata de ce qu'ils avoient et de ce qu'ils ont aujourd'huy. Cepandant je crois que les troupes qui soni venues ce soir s'en sont retournees sur leurs pas parceque les berges n'ont point fait de va-t-et-viens, pour onze a douze cents hommes comme ils nous ont parvs. La mer besse et la lune nous favorise."

Let us remember that this observation from Sillery, across the river to the south shore near the Etchemin River, was made at a distance of at least 1000 yards. How much easier would observation be of ships and boats passing down river at a much smaller distance. Yet there is nothing on record to show what part Remigny took on the all-important night of the 12th-13th. If he made reports, as one must believe he did, they have been destroyed and, rather strangely, all mention of Remigny ceases. Yet Remigny's station was not more than four miles from Bougainville's headquarters at Cap Rouge, and the boats would have passed him about 3.30 a.m. and the ships a very little later.

The extraordinary care evidently taken, that the alleged convoy of provisions should pass down without molestation, has been alluded to. Let us examine for a moment w hat is known of the methods adopted by the French in reference to these provision convoys. The Bougainville correspondence, printed in extenso in Dr. Doughty's work, gives reliable and illuminating information. Immense care and preparation marked the despatch of a convoy which Cadet was sent to organise on August 10 at Batiscan. Fifteen days' provisions were to be brought down, and a long series of orders and arrangements, including escorts to follow on land the progress of the boats, so as to protect them if attacked, orders for the future use of passwords f to enable the boats to be recognised, were also issued. This convoy finally reached Quebec in two sections, on August 24 and 29, showing that the undertaking was no mean adventure, and at this time the English naval force, which must be passed, was by no means so great as it afterwards became.

Regarding the alleged convoy of the night of the 12th several remarkable facts force themselves on our attention. On September 12 (note the date) Cadet wrote to Bougainville:

"J'ai recu la lettre que vous rrCaves fail Vhonneur de m'ecrire ce jour . . . je vous prie, monsieur, de vouloir bien passer les batteaux cette nuit si'l y a de la possibility, sans quoi je serai oblige de faire passer domain des charettes pour aller chercher ces vivres parceque j'en ai absolument besoin, mais s'ils venoicnt par eau, cela nous epargnerait bien de la peine."

This letter, at first sight, reads innocently enough, but it accords badly with the extensive preparations made on previous occasions, and the sudden request to send off the convoy " this night" seems to carry something unconvincing with it. The more so, that a strong English force was at the moment stationed off Cap Rouge. The boats certainly could not start until the tide ebbed, and, as already mentioned, the night was moonlit.

There is no record of what Bougainville did on receipt of this letter, if he received it on the I2th at all,* but it is quite certain that he did not despatch the convoy. If he had done so it would have started at approximately the same time as the troops left the Sutherland, and the two flotillas would have met, which they certainly did not.

If Bougainville did not send the convoy, who warned the posts on the river bank, and especially that at the Foulon, and undoubtedly they had been warned that a convoy was coming ? There appears to have been no escort to follow the boats, as had been definitely ordered, and if the story as to the use of a password by the English officers is true, it adds to the strangeness of the affair.

It was obviously Bougainville's business to send out the orders to the posts, and unless we suppose that he intended to send the convoy and then changed his mind, it cannot be that he did so, and judging from the care taken to warn the posts it is apparent that some one else took up this business. Let us summarise this series of incidents. An attack is planned on the 10th to take place on the night of the 12th ; on the morning of that very day Cadet asks for a convoy "this night." Information of the same is conveyed by a deserter to Wolfe in the evening; the posts are warned to expect a convoy, but no convoy actually starts, nor does De Bougainville say a word about it in any subsequent letter.

If all these incidents were merely fortuitous they surely constitute a strange vagary of fortune. It seems almost proven that the reason Wolfe suddenly abandoned the " advice " given by the brigadiers and ordered the landing at the Anse au Foulon, was that he had received definite information from some one, probably Cadet, that the landing would be unopposed; and let it be said here that, with every suspicion that treachery was at work in Quebec, it seems impossible to believe that Vaudreuil was a party to it. Rather it appears that, whatever his faults, he was heart and soul in the defence, but was guided by some sinister influence which seems to have, in a sense, hypnotised him and caused him to act as it were against his will. The presence of Cadet at his hand shows clearly in several of the letters; for example: "M. Cadet qui est present," or "Dans le temps que je vous eeris M. Cadet entra " (Letters 114 and 126, Doughty, vol. iv.). To what extent the Intendant Bigot shared the secret may well be left to the imagination—very probably he was a full copartner, but Cadet was the more adept scoundrel and the bolder spirit.

There are other links in this chain of circumstances which confirm suspicion. Montcalm and Vaudreuil, but especially the former, had repeatedly drawn De Bougainville's attention to the movements of the English and the necessity of guarding against surprise. So late as September 5, Montcalm wrote:

"Le mouvement des ennemis, mon cher Bougainville, est si considerable que je crains qu'il ne passe la riviere des Ecchemins et qu'il ne cherche a nous derober une marchc pour nous couper la communication."

On the same date Vaudreuil:

'Je nay pas besoin de vous dire, monsieur, que la salut de la eolonie est en vos mains que certainement le projet des ennemis est de nous couper la communication en faisant des debarguements au Nord."

Yet the next day (September 5) Vaudreuil informed Bougainville that after conferring with Montcalm he had appointed M. de Vergor to take charge of the post at Anse au Foulon.

Folign, in his diary, says, under date September 13, " poste (i.e. Anse au Foulon) ou M. Vergor etoit place depuis trois ou quatre jours." The author of the last part of Montcalm's journal says, " M. de Vergor a qui on avoit bien mat apropos conjiecelui (laposte) de I' Anse au Foulon." Another French writer (Memoires sur le Canada) says, regarding this selection : " On ne pouvoit mieux seconder les intentions du general Anglois."

The opinions entertained of De Vergor are obviously unfavourable. His record was bad. He was an intimate of the intendants, and the " memoires " record that " cette amitie ne faisoit honneur ni a I'un ni a I'autre." To him, according to the same authority, Bigot had written (August 20, 1754) : " Profitez, mon cher Vergor, de votre place; Taillez, rognez, vous avez tout pouvoir afin que vous puissiez bientot venir me joindre en France et acheter un bien a portee de moi." He was strongly suspected of surrendering Beausejour to Monckton four years previously without much effort at defending it, and had been tried by court-martial at Quebec in the previous year.

It is difficult to imagine a worse selection, and the fact that such a man was sent to replace M. de St. Martin, a brave and trustworthy officer, at the very time when Wolfe's sudden intention to land at this place bccame manifest, is very remarkable.

That the Anse au Foulon was regarded as an import ant post there is no doubt. It was frequently used as a landing-place, and a fair road led through the narrow gorge.

Writing on the 6th De Remigny, who from his post at Sillery had full view of the Foulon, gave a clear warning :

"De la manoeuvre des ennemis il n'y a pas a douter qu'ils ne veulleut tenter une descente, peut estre esce enlre la poste de vos voluntaires et le mien, I'ance et belle pour cet ejfet, je crois qu'il conviendroit que vous y envoyes du monde paree que celuy que j'ay ne peut fournir si considerablement."

It is not quite clear whether the "Ance" referred to by Remigny was Anse au Foulon or Anse St. Miehel, probably the latter, but the two places were not far apart, and the warning would be applicable to either and equally effective had it been attended to.

And this brings us to another link in the chain of evidence, namely, the movement of the Regiment of Guicnne. This regiment had for a long time been retained as a reserve and encamped at the bridge-head on the St. Charles River. On September 5 Montreuil, who exercised the functions of major-general or, as we should say now, of adjutant-general, wrote to Bougainville:

"M. le Marquis de Montcalm (who it should be remembered commanded directly the troupes de terre, that is, the regular regiments from Old France) m'a charge de marquer a M. de Bougainville que le regiment de Guyenne seroit en reserve sur le grand chemin dcrriere VAnse St. Michel ou Sillery pour etre a portee de seeourir la gauche et la droite."

This arrangement did not meet with Vaudrcuil's approval. He wrote at 11 o'clock the next dav (6th): "... Si vous vous croyes a-ssez fort avec ces dispositions comme cela vous parait, nous retirerons le regiment de Guyenne pour la faire rentrer dans son Champ" and at the end of the letter, as a kind of afterthought, he added, " A regard de laisser Guyenne a Vance des meres cela ne se peut parce qu'il n'y a pa$ de hois."

This is a curious letter. The Anse des Meres was not anywhere near the original place (see, however, note to p. 154) ordered by Montcalm, and the reason given that there was " no wood there " (i.e. at Anse des Meres) is too flimsy to be taken seriously. The place was only a few-hundred yards distant from the town, and there surely could have been no difficulty in supplying wood. One cannot avoid suspecting the Cadet influence here, and the touch regarding supplies adds confirmation. Suspicion of this kind was evidently in the mind of the author of the " Memoires," when he wrote respecting Vaudreuil's hesitation to support Montcalm on the morning of the 13th, " par la persuasion de Cadet et quelques autres qui y avoient un inter el particulier."

However, the result of Vaudreuil's interference was the formal intimation from Montreuil: " J'ai eu I'ordre de faire rentrer le regt. de Guyenne dans son Camp."

It appears that a few days later Montcalm made a further attempt to put some regular troops in a position to defend the heights. The Abbe Recher, in his Journal, records, under date " 12th Mercredi—Ordre donne par M. de Montcalm et ensuite revoque par M. de Vaudreuil, disant 'nous verrons cela demain', au hataillon de Guyenne d'aller camper au foulon." In this work is a note as follows :

"C'est Id, une accusation des plus graves contre M. de Vaudreuil et qui ne s'accordc pas beaucoup avec ce qu'il a ecrit lui me me. je fis, dit il, rester I'armee en bivouac la nuit du 12 ou 13. Je comptais beaucoup sur le bataillon de Guyenne. je le croyais toujours sur le hauteur de Quebec ; mais M. de Montcalm I'avoit rappele le mime jour a I'entree de la nuit sans m'en prevenir."

It is impossible to believe this statement of Vaudreuil, and it is not too much to say that his statements made after the death of Montcalm, regarding the preceding event, are entirely unworthy of credence.

We have, besides, the explicit statement of the Chevalier Johnston, who, in his Dialogue in Hades, puts the following words into Montcalm's mouth:

"I remained at M. Vaudreuil's until 1 o'clock in the morning (i.e. September 11), when I left him in order that I might return to my lodging, having with me M. Montreuil, major-general of the Army, and M. Johnston. On my sending away M, de Montreuil, after giving him my order, I related immediately to M. Johnston all the measures I had concerted with M. de Vaudreuil. . . . lie answered me that your (i.e. Wolfe's) army, being now assembled at Point Levi, and part of it gone above Quebec on the south side of the River St. Lawrence, it appeared very doubtful where you (Wolfe) might attempt a descent—whether above the town or below it towards the Canardiere ; he added that he believed a body of troops might be advantageously placed upon the Heights of Abraham, where they would, with certainty, confront you wherever you landed. I approved greatly of his idea. I called back Montreuil, who was as yet not far from us, and I ordered him to send the Regiment of Guienne, which was encamped near the horn-work at the River St. Charles, to pass the night on the Heights of Abraham. Next morning (12th ?) I wrote to Montreuil, ordering him to make the regiment encamp upon the Heights of Abraham and remain there until further orders. Thus, in consequence of my repeated orders, I had all reason possible to believe that this regiment constituted a permanent post there ; so that the declaration of the deserters from the three posts (i.e. Foulon, Michel, Sillery) might have led you (Wolfe) into a dangerous snare.

"Why this regiment continued the 12th in their camp at the horn-work, in spite of my express orders to encamp on the Heights, I know not. ... It is nevertheless evident that if you had found the Regiment of Guienne on the top of the hill, where it ought to have been, had my orders been obeved, you would have been repulsed shamefully."

The author of the last part of Montcalm's Journal, who was certainly not Johnston, and was evidently an officer of position near Montcalm, gives the same idea: " Le Regiment de Guyenne qu'on avoit resolu de faire camper sur les kauters au dessus de Quebec, etoit il encore dans notre camp ? "

Reviewing the whole story, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the removal of the regiment from the scene of action was intentional and very suspicious ; one can hardly avoid connecting it with the plot in which Vaudreuil may have been only a tool. It seems that De Bougainville was acquainted with the first withdrawal; whether he was told of the second movement we are not told.

There remains now to be considered another mysterious circumstance. Where was Bougainville on the night of September 12-13? He commanded a picked corps, comprising a flying column of 1100 men, which included 130 cavalry. He had, besides, 500 men in the posts from Cap Rouge to the Foulon on which he could count, without withdrawing the garrisons, which included another 570 men, above Cap Rouge.

Yet Wolfe's movements on landing clearly indicated that he anticipated no attack from this formidable body. He marched his force directly inland, as already related, as far as the Ste. Foy road, leaving his rear and communications weakly guarded.

Where was Bougainville? We know that he was supposed to be at Cap Rouge. Montreuil addressed a letter to him there as late as 5 o'clock on the evening of the 11th. Cadet wrote the letter already quoted about the convoy on the 12th (September), addressing the letter to Cap Rouge, and in the absence of any military reason for his being elsewhere we must suppose that nominally, at all events, he was at Cap Rouge. Yet Bougainville, in his Memoire (see Doughty, vol. iv.) concerning the events, says: "Je n'en j'us averti qu'a neuf heures du matin,'" that is, he did not hear of the landing until 9 o'clock. Incredible ! Leaving Samos and the Foulon out of the question, there was the garrison at Sillery, with that acute observer De Remigny, in full view and hearing of the attack made at 4 a.m. on the Foulon, and not more than four miles from Bougainville's headquarters. If Bougainville had been at Cap Rouge it is not possible to suppose that it would take five hours for the news to reach him.

Moreover, it is beyond belief that the movement of the boats and ships was unknown to the French outposts long before the Foulon was reached, and in any case the sound of the firing at Samos, which took place some time between 4 and 4.80 o'clock, was audible to the ships lying in the bason off Point Levis (as recorded in the logs), and must have attracted attention at Cap Rouge, which is about the same distance away. It may well be true, as recorded in the " Journal," that Montcalm exclaimed, " Est ce possible que Bougainville n'entende pas cela " (p. 613).

There can only be one explanation--that Bougainville was not at. Cap Rouge, and apparently with the queer notions of military discipline which existed, in some respects so much slacker than ours, in others much more bound by etiquette, no movement could be madv: in his absence. Dr. Doughty, for whose opinion I have the greatest respect, explains the matter by referring to Wolfe's letter to Colonel Burton, in which it is stated that after the troops had embarked " the fleet sails up the river a little higher, as if intending to land above," f and the doctor adds: "This plan was undoubtedly earned out, and while Bougainville was on his way to St. Augustin and Pomte-aux-Trembles the boats dropped down the river." I am afraid so simple an explanation will not bear examination. There is nothing in the ships' logs to indicate that they made any movement up river after taking the troops on board, as I think would certainly have been the case had they done so. But apart from this, if the ships had made such a movement on the flood tide they could not have got back until the ebb, and finally if we suppose that with the wind they could make way against the flood and arrive back in time for the boats to start, it would appear that Bougainville would have been fully aware of the movement and have followed it. Bougainville himself makes no reference to such a reason, nor does De Levis nor Vaudreuil, but I think they certainly would have done so had it been the case.3

The Bougainville correspondence, already referred to, seems to contain a possible cluc and incidentally to bring out another circumstance.

A certain Sieur de Viennc, it is stated, had a house whieh Vaudreuil occupied during the operations—presumably this was the house on the Canardiere which was Vaudreuil's headquarters; at all events it was in that neighbourhood.! De Vienne was an officer of the in-tendant's department, which does not argue much to his credit, and he was afterwards arrested in Paris for complicity in the frauds in Canada. Madame dc Vienne was evidently a lady of notoriety and charm. Was she the lure that called Bougainville from his duty?

On September 11 the Sieur de Blau, who commanded at Jacques Cartier, wrote to Bougainville at Cap Rouge:

"Les dames n'ont point besoin de recommendations auprez de moi et Madame de Vienne moins qu'une autre. J'aurois este charme qu'elle m'eut mis a mime de la mettre a convert de la peur et des inquietudes pour le transport de ccs effets mais elle m'a brule (passed me by without stopping) et a I'arrivee de voire lettre j'ay fais courir aprez elle, moins dans I'espoir de reussir a luy cstre bon a quelque chosc que pour luy marquer, et a vous mon cher colonel, ma bonne volonte et mon zile pour le service des dames et surtout de Mme. de Vienne dont le mari vient de couvrir le centre de mon individu et le mettre a I'abri du froid; j'aurais bien voulu mettre cette dame a, I'abri de la peur des Anglois et des angoisses pour les voitures ; cela aurait este pour moi une espece de revanche heureuse dont elle m'a mecham mentprive."

Whether Bougainville's message had any effect on arresting the journey of the lady, whether he went on the following day (12th) to see to her comforts himself, is only conjecture, but it may be said with some certainty that lie was not to be found at his post at the critical moment on the night of that September 12-13.

Incidentally this other question arises, why did Madame de Vienne, starting from the house which contained the headquarter staff, undertake this hurried flight on September 11, with much anxiety as to the safety of her goods ? She had apparently found it convenient to reside there during the anxieties of the preceding period. She must have travelled by the inland route, avoiding Cap Rouge, else one would assume Bougainville would have been able to afford her any necessary assistance without writing to De Blau at Jacques Cartier. The mere fact that "voitures" were placed at her disposal at a time when carriage was a question of extreme importance, indicates that she was travelling under the a>gis of some one n authority. Was she in possession of some hint of impending misfortune, which rendered it desirable to put her " effects " in a place of safety ? It certainly looks Like it.

Let us put the most charitable construction possible on the affair, and suppose that madame was the unconscious tool of Rigot or Cadet, who had arranged a route for her which would keep her well out of De Bougainville's way un1 il she had got far up river to or beyond Jacques Cartier. Bougainville was young, probably impulsive. An appeal from the lady to come to her assistance, on whatever ground it may have been, would probably find him ready to obey. It is remarkable that Bougainville was connected with Madame de Vienne in some distant relationship ; it was at her house that the young officer, freshly arrived from Europe in 1756, had his first welcome and made his debut in the Canadian world; it is probable that madame and he were close friends. Thus in selecting her as the instrument of his scheme the astute Cadet had in all probability laid his plans securely, knowing that Bougainville would find an appeal from the lady impossible to resist.

Let us pass over the strange backwardness of Vaudreuil in meeting the critical situation that developed on the morning of the 13th—the disgraceful flight of the commander-in-chief without even communicating his intentions to his subordinates; all this is mentioned by contemporary writers, giving colour to the remark of Chevalier Johnston:

"In fact it would appear by this strange conduct that a class of men there, from interested views, were furiously bent on giving up the colony to the English, so soon as they could have a plausible pretext to colour their designs."

Let us pass over also the suppression or destruction of papers or reports which would throw light on the occurrences. We know that Vaudreuil's first action on reaching Montreal was to examine Montcalm's papers, and we know that in 1763 the Marquise de Montcalm wrote':

"11 etoit I'h.ummc du monde qui les gar doit le plus soigneusement. . . . Par quelle jatalite la famille d'un commandant universellement rcgrette se trouve-t-elle privee de la consolation de posseder ses lettres. . . . Et comment cette privation peut allcr au point qu'il n'existe aucune trace de ses papiers?"

Wolfe himself destroyed his journal of the days in September. Barre, who probably knew the whole story, has left no record. Carleton's private papers were destroyed alter his death by his wife, presumably at his request.

Enough, however, remains to make the reason for Wolfe's sudden change of mind at least a matter of great probability. Whether, with the information before him of the tempting conditions for attack at the Foulon, he should still have adhered to the plan of landing at Pointe-aux-Trembles is a question on which different opinions may be held. Had the unfortunate delay on the occasion of the reconnaissance of September 7 not taken place, and had the landing been effected as intended then, there is no moral doubt that the General would have reaped the greater laurels of a decisive defeat of the enemy and the surrender of the colony. As it was the work was but " half done," and Murray's sickly battalions, after a winter of incredible suffering, had to face the French army again, little impaired as regards personnel.

Let it not be supposed that I would detract from the brilliant achievement of September 13. If Wolfe acted on secret information, as I believe to be the case, he was most thoroughly justified in doing so; and whatever information had been given him, and at the most he could only have guarantee of an unopposed landing, and perhaps some degree of freedom from attack by Bougainville, he could not be certain of the course of events. In any ease, it was a bold move to seek battle against superior numbers in a situation where his support by the fleet was ineffective by reason of the high banks. He was certainly justified in using any means at his disposal; but the question is, was he wise in using this particular one ? I think not.

Perhaps one of the most inexplicable things about the affair is the complete absence of any question as to Bougainville's failure to defend the position. Before the event we have frequent references to the necessity for keeping careful watch, to the reliance placed in him, to his great activity ; after the event, there is not one allusion to the delay, or the strange circumstance that he knew nothing of a movement which commenced under his nose, until after a lapse of seven hours! De Levis makes no remark inferring any blame, but it is noteworthy that he did not employ Bougainville on his Quebec campaign of the following spring, though it is true that he was sent to the important post of lle-aux-Noix. Vaudreuil, though quite ready to lay blame on any one, so long as he diverted it from himself, makes no suggestion of dissatisfaction with Bougainville. Yet it seems quite impossible to relieve that officer of grave responsibility, though I would add that there is not an iota of evidence to impute any suggestion that Bougainville was a party to the treachery in which he became an actor. However blameworthy his action appears to have been, it was far removed from the category in which I think the conduct of Cadet and Bigot must be placed.


Return to our Book Index Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus