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 XI. The Conquest of Canada, Montreal, 1760


Murray was essentially a man of action. Physically strong, enterprising, while yet caring for detail, and making his plans and forecasts with the cautiousness born of much experience, he was not likely to rest on his oars while work remained to be done. He had received Sir Jeffrey Amherst's instructions, dated April 15:

"I am now to acquaint you I have received His Majesty's commands for concerting the properest measures for pushing on the operations of this campaign with the utmost vigour, and as Montreal is evidently the great and essential object to compleat the glory of His Majesty's arms in North America, that I shall proceed to the vigorous attack of that place. ... I therefore intend to advance on them (the enemy) in three places—from Quebec up the River St. Lawrence, from Crown Point by the Isle-aux-Noix, from Oswego down the River St. Lawrence. The first will depend entirely on you by pressing on the enemy with all the troops you can spare from the garrison of Quebec. . . ."

This letter of Amherst's was, of course, written before the events detailed in the last chapter, and the resistance that might be expected was estimated without knowledge of the serious blow to the French military power which resulted from the failure of De Levis' attempt on Quebec, a blow which, as we have seen, vastly reduced their offensive power both in men and munitions. It was not only the loss among the regular troops and the discouraging effect of further retreat, but the Canadians were becoming more and more convinced that the sceptre was passing, and were proportionately less inclined to sacrifice their future by complying with Vaudreuil's proclamations demanding their service—proclamations which, as Knox remarks, " discover great subtility of invention."

In his reply to Amherst, Murray could not refrain from letting his chief know that the French wave had expended itself, and that all the laurels were not for his gathering:

"I flatter myself the check they have met with here will make everything very easy afterwards. ... If you make haste, for the honour of their colours, they may give you battle; but if you do not, for want of something to eat, they will surrender to me."

"If you make haste" is good, but perhaps not quite diplomatic. Murray, like a good many others, was rather inclined to think the commander-in-chief a bit slow, though it is certainly doubtful if he was wise to say so ; but, as a matter of fact, Amherst found many difficulties in his way, and not the smallest of these was in dealing with the provincial assemblies and obtaining the necessary votes for supply of men and money ; a very great deal might be written in extenuation of Amherst's slow progress. The force intended to advance by way of Lake Champlain and thence by the Richelieu River to Montreal was under command of Brigadier-General William Haviland, and left Crown Point on August 11, while the main army, under the immediate command of Amherst, left Albany en route for Oswego on June 21.

To prepare the Quebec force to concert with these movements required an immense amount of organisation. The whole army had to be re-equipped, clothed, and provisioned. Ships arrived "by every tide, with stores, liquor, and provisions of all kinds " (Knox). The Hunter sloop had brought £20,000 in specie—" a poor sum for a garrison which has had no pay since August 24 " (Murray)— and more was expected early. So large a sum in the hands of the men—for one of Murray's first cares was to discharge the interest and principal of all borrowed moneys and pay the arrears due—was a sure attraction for a swarm of traders from the New England ports, who, it is to be feared, were far from being honest or scrupulous, either in their dealings with the men or the French inhabitants, and the Governor had from the start to take steps which did not suit their peculiar views, of which more will be heard later.

The convalescents and such of the sick as could be moved were conveyed to the Isle of Orleans, where, with warm weather, fresh food, and change of air, they made surprising recovery.

Urgent representations were made to Governor Whitmore at Louisburg to send reinforcements at the earliest possible date, without which "the losses we have suffered from the enemy and the sickness which has raged among us puts it out of my power (to support General Amherst) unless powerfully reinforced from you." It is interesting to note that Murray makes demand for a supply of coal, and grates to burn it in. This was probably the first demand for exporting coal from Cape Breton Island.

On June 15 the state of the garrison was reported as 3275 N.C.O.s and men fit for duty, and 2463 sick and wounded, showing a considerable improvement. Detachments were sent out to swear in and disarm the inhabitants and to re-establish the post at Lorette. Murray was well aware of the importance of showing the flag, and his action in letting the inhabitants see the strength of his position no doubt reacted in his favour among those villages at a distance which could not be reached at the moment.

A flotilla was prepared comprising the Porcupine sloop and two other armed vessels, eight floating batteries, and twenty Hat-bottomed boats, to be commanded by Captain Deane.3 The troops were organised into two battalions of Grenadiers and five battalions of infantry, made up by equal quotas from the ten battalions in the garrison. The Grenadier battalions being of 300 men each, and each infantry battalion 294 men, a total of 2470 rank and file, with a detachment of 50 Rangers. This body was divided into two brigades, one to be commanded by Colonel Ralph Burton, the other by Colonel Howe.

On July 5 the troops intended for the expedition moved out of the town. The General reviewed them on the 12th, and the embarkation took place on the 13th. The fleet $ sailed on the flood tide of the 14th. There was something that appeals to the imagination in this anabasis. Cut off from its base, dependent entirely on its own resources, the little force plunged into the midst of a hostile country, facing an enemy numerically, at least, far superior, and the dangerous navigation of a river whose channels were unknown, and from the banks of which, had material been available, an enterprising commander should have been able to inflict serious, if not disastrous, damage on the crowded boats. I cannot but think that this operation illustrates in a remarkable degree General Murray's genius for estimating with accuracy the military situation. He had informed Amherst that the French had little powder and little provisions; he believed them to be in a state of demoralisation, and he fully expected that the Canadians would no longer support their former masters. In all this he relied solely on his judgment, but he had all the courage necessary to put his fate to the touch, and the event proved him right in every particular. His intention was to make his way up the river, turning aside for nothing, and leaving the enemy to garrison any posts he chose, and the theory on which he acted was that the ill-equipped posts in his rear would matter little provided the junction with the commander-in-chief could be effected, and that the main French force was too immobile to do anything but await the concentration, which it could not resist, at Montreal.

Before starting he wrote a despatch to Mr. P tt, which gives so clearly the calculations on which lie based his opinion that I quote it in extenso:

"I have the honor to acquaint you that I shall set out to-morrow for Montreal at the head of two thousand two hundred chosen men. I was in expectation two regiments from Louisburg would have joined me before this time; but as their arrival is very uncertain, and I cannot longer doubt of Mr. Amherst's being in motion, I think it necessary to proceed without them to do what I can to facilitate the entire reduction of Canada. I am confident we are masters of the river; in that case with this handfull of men I can safely nose the enemy at their capital, and if fortune favours us with an opportunity we may without risquing Quebec strike home.

"I have left seventeen hundred men fit for duty in Quebec, these with the sick and convalescents will make in all more than three thousand men in that garrison. Colonel Fraser, eager for the glory that may be acquired in the field, stays with great reluctance to command there ; but however desirous I may be of his assistance with me, I thought it absolutely necessary to leave an officer of distinguished address and abilitys with so important a command.

"I have left orders for the regiments from Louisburg to proceed and join me without loss of time; my corps will then consist of three thousand five hundred men.

"Though I have had no directions from General Amherst, 1 have ventur'd to press vessels for the conveyance of the troops, an expedient which will render all my operations safe and quick and powerful, and the expence is a meer trifle.

"The moment I arrive at Montreal I shall be probably master of the whole country. The Chevalier de Levis must assemble his army for the defence of that capital. If the Canadians do not join him, his force wdl not greatly exceed mine ; if they do, their country is abandoned to my mercy. My motions having the current of the river in my favour, must always be four times quicker than theirs, consequently it will be impossible for the Canadians to save their harvest this year if they assemble in arms, for the country is nowhere inhabited or cultivated above two miles from the river.

"I have the happiness to inform you, Sir, that since the weather has been warm our sick have recover'd surprisingly, and that all the transports except one are safely arriv'd from New York. They have brought cloathing for the garrison, and the recover'd men and officers which were sent from Quebec last autumn. I have no apprehensions that the missing ship is lost."

On the 15th Jacques Cartier 4 was passed in the morning. '1 The garrison fired several shots and threw some shells at our fleet, but the river being broad and the channel running close by the south shore, we were beyond their reach " (Knox).

In the evening they approached the Richelieu rapids off Deschambeau; here the river was shallow and full of rocks and "the navigation difficult, by reason of the different turnings." De Levis had hoped for difficulties: "On esperait qu'ils ne franchiroient pets aisement ce passage, quoique nous n'ayions pas a beaucoup pr'es Va;rtiUerie necessaire."

De Levis, writing to the Minister de Berryer, had stated: "The point of greatest danger is the river. We are absolutely out of touch with it, and have no means of preventing the frigates and barges coming up as far as Montreal —and in this he was undoubtedly right. It was not until the 26th (July) that the wind and tide being favourable the whole army was past this difficult place and concentrated some three and a half miles above Deschambeau. The intervening ten days had, however, been usefully spent in several very successful expeditions on the south shore, the principal object being to disarm and subdue the inhabitants of the neighbouring parishes of St. Croix, Lothiniere, and St. Antoine. To these Murray issued a proclamation urging submission, and Knox tells us " some of his Excellency's arguments," which were, no doubt, very convincing. " Who can carry on the war without ships, artillery, ammunition, or provisions ? At whose mercy are your habitations and that harvest which you expect to reap in the summer, together with all you are possessed of in this world? To the local priests he issued a more stringent warning, as "the source of all the mischiefs that have befallen the poor Canadians," and exhorted them to "preach the gospel, which alone is your province." The result was excellent, the inhabitants delivered up their arms with alacrity and brought in supplies of fresh provisions. They were, in fact, thoroughly tired of constant military disturbance, and openly expressed desire for the success of our force, so that they might remain in " peace and quietness."

By July 28 the army had arrived off Point Champlain. Here they were overtaken by a sloop from Quebec, bringing the welcome news of the arrival of two battalions from Louisburg (40th and 22nd). The flat-bottomed boats were returned at once * to take this reinforcement past the shallows of Richelieu. On August 4 the fleet reached Trois Rivieres, where the enemy, as Knox records, were busy throwing up retrenchments. Murray, however, took no notice, and passed on, intent only on joining hands with Amherst. De Levis remarks regretfully, referring to Dumas, who commanded there, " II fut force de la suivre."

On August 7 Dc Levis wrote a despatch to the Marechal de lielle-Isle, in which he voices the despair that had now found its place in all hearts. I will quote some extracts only. The whole letter is given in vol. ii. of the Champlain Society's publication of John Knox's Journal:

Their (the English) objective appears to be Montreal or Sord, in order to effect a junction with Mr. Amherst. We have no means of stopping them ... we are without artillery and powder; we are merely making a show of defence in order to delay their advance. . . . The people of the country are terrified at the fleet. They fear lest their houses should be burnt. We are at the crisis of our fate. . . . The passage of the Quebec fleet up the river will compel us to abandon all the frontiers. The junction of their three armies will then take place without opposition.

. . You know the force at our disposal, and can judge what the outcome must be. ..."

De Levis had, in truth, very slender grounds for hope. The ill-omened brood hatched by Bigot and Cadet, aided by Vaudreuil and fostered by dissolute government at home, were coming home to roost with a vengeance. Shorn of every kind of military equipment, faced with the open mutiny of the troops and the not less open refusal of the Canadians to support him, one cannot blame De Levis that he should recognise that the end had come and that nothing short of a miracle could save the colony for France. The millstones were coming together. Haviland was embarking at Crown Point, Amherst at Oswego, Murray at Trois Rivieres—what hope could there be for a demoralised force thus pressed on all sides?

Before evening (August 8) the fleet anchored at the entrance of Lake St. Peter, and with some difficulty, on account of shallow water and uncertain channels, made slow progress up the lake during the next four days. During all this period Murray had maintained the cautious scheme that he had laid down for the guidance of his army, although frequent landings had taken place on the south shore, and the inhabitants of the various parishes disarmed and sworn to allegiance. No serious contact with the enemy had been permitted, nor any landing on the north shore, the object of drawing all the French forces towards the centre was grimly adhered to. In his letter, dated July 30, Captain Cramahe, who had acted as Murray's secretary, refers to this plan, which I quote here as evidence of the caution of the General:

"If you persist in the wise and prudent resolution you have laid down not to hazard anything, all will go well. Why risk, when you may attain all your ends by patience? Time, as you rightly say, fights for you, and the inhabitants, cut off from all succours, cannot lose their harvest. Pardon my freedom, it is well meant."

The reinforcements from Louisburg, which were now in progress up the river, were, however, ordered to effect the necessary disarmament in the north shore parishes, the French troops having left them to follow Murray's movements. Thus the country on both sides of the river—and it must be remembered that the populated area din not extend above two miles from the banks—was thoroughly pacified, a wise proceeding which did much to destroy any chances of Vaudreuil being able to assemble any considerable force at Montreal. During the passage of Lake St. Peter, a French force under De Bourlamaque was discovered at St. Francis, but the English force refused engagement, and De Bourlamaque was obliged to follow to Sorel, a small village at the mouth of the Richclieu River, where the fleet arrived on the 13th (August). At this point touch with the land armies began, and a message was sent to Brigadier Ilaviland to announce Murray's arrival. Murray's army maintained its position of! Sorel until the 17tli, when Lord Rollo (Lieut.-Colonel 22nd Foot), commanding the reinforcements, arrived, and the three brigades now numbered 3500 non-commissioned officers and men— a very respectable force, with which the General felt himself more at liberty to take aggressive action.

The men standing in a ring and holding up the right hand, each one repeating his own mime and then the formula of the oath, Knox tells us, though possibly with mental reservations.

In the meantime De Levis was in a dilemma. He describes his situation thus:

"M. de Levis avait forme le projet, en se rapprochant de Montreal de rassembler ses forces et d'oiler attaquer le corps des ennemis qui arriverait le premier ; mais il ne put executer ce projet, le General (Murray) avancant toujours par eau sur Montreal, dont il sera it aisement empare, cette ville n'eland pas a I'abri d'un coup de main."

In short, the Quebec force was the deciding factor, and De Levis was unable to leave it in order to concentrate on either of the other two armies.

The regiments of La Reine and Royal Roussillon were sent to St. Johns (south of Sorel, on the Richelieu), together with the militia of Montreal, in the vain hope of arresting llaviland's progress, who was now formally attacking the lslc-aux-Noix. Amherst, on his side, had entered the River St. Law rence from Lake Ontario, and was attacking Fort Levis, which was surrendered by M. Pauchot on the 25th (August). This was a severe blow, as the French had hoped that this fort, situated on an island blocking the passage of the river, would be able to delay the attack for a considerable time. Delay was, in fact, the only weapon left in De Levis' armoury, and his one faint chance, that the enemy might exhaust their supplies.

To return to the operations of the river army, which we left in position off Sorel. A night attack was planned for August 21-22, when Lord Rollo's brigade landed a mile below the parish and succeeded in burning the greater part of the habitations. Knox tells us that this procedure "affected the General extremely, but the obstinate perseverance of the inhabitants in arms made it necessary." Murray was certainly averse from destruction, and his whole course of action had shown his desire to avoid it except when he found the inhabitants absent from their houses and bearing arms. Regarding this affair, he wrote to the Minister (Pitt):

"I found the inhabitants of the parish of Sorel had deserted their habitations and were in arms. I was therefore under the cruel necessity of burning the greatest part of these poor unhappy people's houses. I pray God this example may suffice, for my nature revolts when this becomes a necessary part of my duty."

On the 23rd the fleet arrived at Contrecoeur, twenty-seven miles from Montreal. Here they were detained three days, the wind being insufficient to work against the current. Knox notes that the enemy, being now confined within a narrow compass, are able to mass troops on both sides of the river, who accompanied "politely" every movement.

From Contrecoeur Murray wrote to Pitt, acquainting him, inter alia, that M. de Vaudreuil had insinuated " terms of surrender to me which I rejected, and sent information thereof to the commander-in-chief, who was then three days' march from Montreal." No doubt Murray's action in this was strictly correct, though it must have gone sorely against the grain, for having borne the heat (or rather cold) and burden of the day he would naturally have liked to receive the swords of the conquered. Indeed, had he done so, though Amherst might have had objections from the point of view of etiquette, he would have been saved the dangerous passage of the rapids and the loss of many men.

On the 27th the Rangers and light infantry landed cn the island of Teresa, which lies off the eastern end of the island of Montreal. He was now within sight of his goal. A few miles south-westward the Royal Mount stood out with its memories of more than two hundred years, consecrated to a royal master by the immortal Jacques Cartier. Below it, on the river bank, nestled the town, then surrounded by massive fortifications, and containing a population of four thousand souls. The Garden of Canada is the name given to this island of Montreal, formed by the encircling arms of the Ottawa River at its junction with the St. Lawrence. Knox is silent on the feelings of the army—we must imagine that pride of triumph was not wanting.

Meanwhile the steady progress of Haviland and Amherst was bringing about the final act of the drama. Isle-aux-Noix had been captured, and Haviland was resting at St. John, preparing to strike direct for Montreal via Chambly. Amherst, having completed the reduction of Fort Levis on Isle Royale, was continuing his cautious methods by repairing its fortifications and putting in a new garrison. He left nothing to chance, and was determined that no temporary repulse should place him in difficulties as to his rear. His army was also preparing for the dangerous passage of the Galop before entering Lake Francis. De Levis records that the Canadians were retiring wholesale to their parishes, and that there were many desertions among the troops.

On September 3 Murray's force, which had been marking time and awaiting progress of the land armies, but nevertheless had accomplished useful work in subjugating the parish of Varennes on the south shore, received information from Haviland that he expected to reach La Prairie, a village immediately opposite Montreal, in two or three days ; but during this period the Indian auxiliaries deserted the French en bloc, having, as they said, made peace with the English, and De Levis, hopeless with his depleted forces, decided to retire all the force opposing Haviland to the island of Montreal. His Journal describes again Murray's successful strategy :

"Le Sieur Murray s'etendit le long de la cote du sud. II est a observer qu'il n'avoit mis a terre dans la dcscente qu'il avail faite qu'un dtiachcment que se tenoit tovjours pret a se rembarquer dans le moment qu'on aurait pu marcher a lui, ce fut cause que nous ne pumes jamais le combattre."

Amherst was now well advanced in Lake Francis, having negotiated the Galop and Long Rapids with little loss, and he only had to pass the Cedar and Cascade Rapids to emerge in the bason of Montreal. These rapids formed indeed a formidable barrier: "The navigation was inconceivably dangerous, insomuch that the loss of the greatest part of the troops seemed inevitable." Amherst passed through first, regardless of his own safety, at the head of the Grenadiers, light infantry, and Rangers. "His Excellency most happily effected this passage with the loss only of forty-six batteaus, seventeen whale boats, and one row galley, whereby eighty-four men were drowned . . . if the enemy had been more attentive to this place, which was extremely natural to suppose they would," Knox opines, that much more serious loss would have ensued. The army, however, reached Isle Perrot without attack, and were now within striking distance of Montreal, twelve miles away.

On the same day (September 5) Murray proceeded to Longueuil, a short distance below Montreal, on the south bank, to clear the road for Haviland. It was apparently on this occasion that the French Indians (Hurons) came to Murray to make peace, and Knox draws an animated picture of the position of Murray and Colonel Rurton, who seemed to be in the middle of a scrap that might have had unpleasant results. The Mohawks, who had been faithful to us, were apparently very anxious to set 011 the French Indians, comparing them with squaws, and hurling opprobrious epithets, and it was only the personal intervention of Murray and Burton that prevented a royal row ! Murray's treaty with the Hurons is preserved among the family papers, and he ordered that:

"Henceforth no English officer or party is to molest or interrupt them in returning to their settlement at Lorette, and they are to be received upon the same terms with the Canadians, being allowed free exercise of their religion, their customs and liberty of trading with the English garrisons, recommending it to the officers commanding the posts to treat them kindly."

On the 6th (September) Amherst's army passed from Isle Perrot; to the island of Montreal; on the following day Murray's army made a like movement from Isle Teresa, and landed on the lower end of the island and marched towards the town, the inhabitants everywhere coming out to meet the troops with refreshments. The enemy having broken down the bridges, the advance was slow, and by evening they stopped at the parish of Longue Pointe. Continuing the advance on the next day (September 8) Murray took up a position on the north-east side of the city under the shadow of Mount Royal. Amherst had taken post on the north-west side on the previous day. Haviland had arrived at Longueuil.

Thus the city was surrounded on all sides, and an operation was complete which from the mere time-table accuracy of its conception and fulfilment was perhaps as remarkable as any in the history of the Rritish army. Three considerable armies had advanced on different lines widely separated through hostile country, two of them at least having exceptional difficulties to be surmounted, Amherst's force covering some three hundred miles from Oswego Haviland and Murray covering each about one hundred and fifty miles from Crown Point and Quebec respectively. Each force for the time being cut off from its base, and relying solely on the supplies it carried, yet all three arrived at the rendezvous almost simultaneously—surely a fine military achievement.

If Amherst is entitled to the chief share of the credit, as far as the final concentration is concerned, his two subordinates are entitled to a high degree of praise, nor is it possible to consider any one of the three forces as other than complementary of the remaining two. Rut it is also the case that in a special degree Murray's force had worn down the enemy prior to the movement, and borne the brunt of the enemy's attacks, and it is also true that Commodore Swanton's bold and successful action in destroying the French power of movement by water had a most important, even decisive, effect on the result, and therefore both these officers arc entitled to a special degree of merit; but from the commencement of the concentration to its successful close the success of maintaining the advance according to schedule must be shared by the commanders of the land forces.

The rest of the story need not detain us long. It is simply told by the Chevalier de Levis in his Journal, under date September 9:

"Pendant la nuit, il fut tenu une assemblee ehez M. le Marquis de Vaudreuil, composee des principaux offieiers des troupes de terre et de la Marine. M. Bigot, Intendant, lut un me'moire sur la capitulation de la eolonie et I'etat actuel de ses affaires, et un projet de capitulation.

"Comme la desertion totale des Canadiens et celle d'un grand nombre de soldats avoit reduit les troupes au nombre d'environ deux mille quatre cents, tout au plus, que les sauvages domiciliies avoient fait leur paix avec les Anglois, et mime leur avoient offert de prendre les armes pour achever de nous reduire, que la ville de Montreal etoit tout au plus a I'abri d'un coup de main . . . tout le monde pensa, comme le Marquis de Vaudreuil que I'interet general de la eolonie exigeoit que les choses ne fussent pas pousees a la derniere extremite, et qu'il convenait de preferer une capitulation avantageusc aux peuples et honorable aux troupes."

On the morning of the 7th De Bougainville was sent out to propose terms of capitulation, but Amherst refused in this case, and to several other embassies, to abate one jot of his demand for the unconditional surrender of the troops. This severe condition he imposed as a reprisal for the " infamous part the troops of France had acted in exciting the savages to perpetrate the most horrid and unheard of barbarities." It must be remembered that the sting of this condition lay in the fact that the whole of the French oflicers would be out of commission during the remainder of the war, a circumstance whieh bore particularly severely on men entirely dependent on their military service. Notwithstanding the pressure brought by De Levis to endeavoar to persuade the governor-general to break off the negotiations,* the latter was firm for immediate capitulation on such terms as the English commander chose to impose. Indeed, it is scarcely to be doubted that, notwithstanding many bombastic letters in which he assured the Minister of his determination to fight to the last, Vaudreuil was not made of heroic stuff, and was not disinclined to end f the affair with as little inconvenience to himself as might be obtained. The Articles, fifty-five in number, were duly signed on September 8, 1760. La Nouvelle France had ceased to exist.

The Articles of Capitulation related for the most part to the surrender and transfer of the officials and military to France, the former being allowed to take their papers without examination. The hand of Cadet is visible in an attempt to secure for himself the provisions and stores in the magazines, which he claimed as private property ; but this was not admitted. The free exercise of the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman religion was guaranteed to the inhabitants, and it was sought to obtain an obligation that tithes and taxes hitherto paid to the priests should he admitted ; this was refused pending the King's pleasure, being known. It was also refused that the right of nominating the Bishop of the colony should remain a right of the French Crown. The Communities of Nuns were guaranteed, but a like privilege to the Jesuits and Recollets was refused pending the King's pleasure. In this one may trace Murray's hand, whose experience of the Jesuit priests had not been altogether happy. The terms allowed to the Roman Catholic religion were, however, extremely broadminded and statesmanlike, when one considers that laws of brutal stringency were still maintained against Catholics in Ireland. A proposal to exempt French or Canadians from taking arms against the French king on any future occasion was refused, with the pithy remark: "They become subjects of the King of England"; as was an attempt to impose the laws of France for usage with all inhabitants.

The number of regular troops taken prisoner, comprising the whole strength of the ten regular battalions (i.e. eight of the line and two of the marine), is stated by Amherst (Co. 5/5D) to have been 3544. Knox put the number at 4011, possibly correct at the time, for a number of men deserted and took up residence with the inhabitants. The militia was estimated by Knox to include 170 companies and 10,422 men, giving a total of available troops (according to Knox) of over 20,000 men—a force sufficient, had they not lacked equipment and given good government, to have held the colony against the troops brought against it.

A curious circumstance arose with regard to the colours of the French regiments ; these being demanded, answer was given that " these being of little use in this woody country we had destroyed them," and this answer being transmitted to General Amherst, he demanded that the Marquis de Vaudreuil and the Chevalier de Levis should affirm it on their parole d'Jtonneur, which they instantly complied with (Knox). De Levis, however, records a different story in his Journal

"le Chevalier de Levis voyant avec douleur que rien ne pouvait faire changer la determination de M. le Marquis Vaudreuil, voulant epargner aux troupes une partie de Vhumilialion qu'ellcs alloient subir, leur ordonna de bruler leurs drapcaux pour se soustraire d la dure condition de les remettre aux ennemis."

Which seems to indicate that De Levis was not above a quibble, which should hardly be included in a parole d-honneur!

The least possible time was spent in clearing out the French army. Within eight days (September 16) the last of the regular regiments embarked on the journey to Quebec, and Murray proceeded thither in haste to prepare for their despatch to France.

Let me conclude this chapter by quoting the views held by the Chevalier Johnston, who served with the French throughout the campaign :

"General Murray conducted himself as an officer of great understanding, knowledge, and capacity, and left nothing to do for General Amherst. He employed five weeks in coming from Quebec to Montreal, which is only sixty leagues, and did us during his march more harm by his policy than by his army. He stopped often in the villages; spoke kindly to the inhabitants he found at home in their houses, whom hunger and famine had obliged to fly from our army at Montreal; gave provisions to these unhappy creatures perishing from want of sustenance. He burned in some cases the houses of those who were absent from home and in the French army at Montreal, publishing everywhere amnesty and good treatment to all Canadians who should return to their habitations and live peaceably. In short, flattering some and frightening others, he succeeded so well that at last there was no possibility of keeping them at Montreal."

Johnston was, of course, a "brither Scot," but there is no special reason to suspect him of bias in favour of one who, according to his view, was fighting on the wrong side.

*One is reminded of a somewhat similar happening after the late war, but this time the colours were demanded by the French.


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