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Wolfe and Montcalm
Chapter VII Battle of the Plains of Abraham - Death of Wolfe


WOLFE had already burned more than a league and a half of country to the south of Quebec, opposite Pointe-aux-Trembles. The motive which governed him in proceeding to extremities, whose cruelty caused him much inward self-reproach, arose from his dread of public opinion in England, where an account was already being asked of the blood that had been uselessly shed and the enormous cost of the expedition. He, therefore, resolved to be at least able to say that he had left nothing but ruins behind him. From this time on his hordes of rangers, supported by the Highlanders and light infantry, swarmed over both sides of the St. Lawrence, torch in hand. Their course could easily be followed by the clouds of smoke which filled the air by day, and the sinister light at night which proceeded from the lurid glow of burning houses, stables and barns. The inhabitants withdrew to the upper borders of the parishes on mountains and hills overlooking the woods, and viewed in despair the progress of these devastations. Cries and lamentations broke out in one group after another as they saw the flames burst from the roofs of their dwellings. Montcalm was struck with pity for the militia of the most exposed parishes. He organized nine different parties to follow and destroy the incendiaries, many of whom never returned from their cruel mission. The rangers, notwithstanding the injunctions of Wolfe, continued their practice of scalping those who fell into their hands. All the parishes of the Island of Orleans, those on the south shore opposite to it, those of the Cote de Beauprd, from Montmorency Falls to Cap Tourmente, all the settlements about the coast of Baie St. Paul, and the opposite ones on the south shore, for a distance of ten leagues, stretching from Riviere Ouelle to L'lslet, were reduced to ashes. Despite the orders of the English general to spare the churches, several of them were destroyed.

"The English," remarked Montcalm in a passage we are loath to credit, "faithful imitators of the ferocity of our Indians, took the scalps of several of the inhabitants of the south shore. Would any one believe that a civilized nation could become so rabid as to mutilate dead bodies in cold blood? Such barbarity would have been abolished amongst the Indians if it had been possible to correct them. They were well paid for prisoners, but got very little for scalps. Every precaution was taken, but without avail; but at all events we had not to reproach ourselves with having followed their example."

Montcalm's policy of acting strictly on the defensive prevented him from opposing these ravages otherwise than by small parties, who were able to retaliate but ineffectually. He gave increased attention to the north side of the river above Quebec, where the ruin of the country increased the imminent danger of the cutting of his line of communication with his depots of supplies, which, in a few days, would have placed him at the mercy of his adversary. He ordered Colonel de Bougainville with a thousand men and Rochebeaucour's cavalry to range along the river, to watch closely all the movements of the enemy, and energetically to repulse them whenever they came within reach. The task was exceedingly difficult and fatiguing, for the English threatened several points at the same time, keeping their troops continually oh the march and countermarch.

A few days earlier Montcalm had written in his journal:—"A violent north-east wind with a thick fog kept the army and the garrison very alert. To be beaten is an ordinary misfortune to the feeblest; but the height of misfortune is to be surprised."

When he remarked to Bourlamaque: "I do not know which of us three will be the soonest defeated," it might have been said that he had a vague presentiment of his own fate.

The situation was discouraging. The bombardment of the town, which had continued without ceasing, had increased the number of ruins. In one day alone a hundred and sixty-seven houses had been burned in the Lower Town, and several cellars were ruined by bombs and covered over with debris, which buried a large quantity of valuable goods and merchandise. This was the richest quarter of the town. Several wealthy citizens lost all they had in the ruins. All round the town, and for twenty-five leagues below it, the country presented the same scene of desolation. The distress in the army had become so extreme that disorder and desertions were the order of the day. Notwithstanding threats, and even punishments, many of the Canadians returned to their homes to harvest their crops and secure other provisions to guard against starvation during the coming winter. Several of them, whose houses had been destroyed, were also obliged to construct shelter for their families and for whatever cattle they had been able to save. It is said that over two thousand Canadians thus abandoned the camp.

Every time that the wind turned from the northeast several English vessels attempted the passage by Quebec, and very often they succeeded, despite the cannonading from the town. By the end of August Admiral Holmes found himself in command of a dozen vessels, some of which were anchored at various points between Sillery and St. Augustin, while the others floated up and down with the tide, for the purpose of tiring the French troops detailed to watch their movements. The proximity of this fleet had forced the French vessels to ascend to Grondines. British barges thronged the river to such an extent that it was with the greatest danger that the boats with provisions, all of which had to be brought by water from Montreal and Three Rivers, were able to continue on their way. The overland route had become so difficult and so slow for want of horses, vehicles, and men to drive them, that the army was almost deprived of food. The soldiers were reduced to three-quarters of a pound of bread and the people to one quarter, as in the worst times of famine.

Since the attack at Montmorency the halls of the general hospital had not sufficed to contain all the wounded who had been taken there. Every available apartment had been fitted up for their-reception, even the chapel, the barns, stables, sheds and other outbuildings. As the situation of the monastery, in the midst of the St. Charles valley, sheltered it from the bombardment of the town, a good number of families had sought refuge there at the commencement of the siege, as well as the Ursulines and the hospital sisters of the Hotel-Dieu. The three communities, thus united, rivalled each other in zeal and charity, spending both day and night in attendance upon the sick. Their delicate care of the wounded English soldiers came to the ears of their generals, who testified their gratitude.

Mgr. de Pontbriand, who had withdrawn to the presbytery of Charlesbourg, where he was gradually yielding to the disease which was soon to carry him off, visited the hospital, nevertheless, almost every day, to console the sick.

Six miles away, in the mansard of a house at L'Ange-Gardien, near the English camp, Wolfe was the victim of a fever which was sapping his remaining strength. Captain Knox, when he crossed over from Pointe Lévis one morning to receive the general's orders for his brigade, learned that he had been unable to come downstairs to dinner.

From the commencement of the siege Wolfe had been the soul of his army. He was able to hold. it in his hand, because it had such thorough confidence in his military talents. He had astonished it by an activity which seemed incompatible with his frail frame. Passing unceasingly from one shore to the other he seemed to be everywhere at once. At the appearance in a camp of his tall and slender frame his soldiers, animated by his influence, set to work or rushed to combat with the ardour that devotion inspired. When it was deprived of his presence the army felt itself paralysed. His own uneasiness communicated itself to his entire command, and the rumour spread from one camp to the other that the campaign was nearing its end, and that the fleet would soon set sail for England.

Wolfe, anxious that his sickness should not retard operations, handed the command over to the three brigadier-generals, Monckton, Townshend and Murray, together with a memoir containing three plans of attack. By the first he proposed to ascend the Montmorency River at night with a part of his army, and to cross it nine miles from its mouth, in the forest, and then to fall upon the rear of the camp at Beauport, while the remainder of the troops attacked it in front. By the second he would ford the shallows below the Falls at night with the Montmorency army corps, and march them along the entrenchments until a suitable locality for ascending the heights was found. Monckton, with the troops from Pointe Levis, was to hold himself in readiness to disembark as soon as the light infantry should have climbed the hill. The third plan resolved itself into a renewal of the attack of the thirty-first by the right of the Beauport camp.

The three brigadiers did not agree to any of these plans because they thought that if they did succeed in dislodging Montcalm he would retire behind the entrenchments at the St. Charles River, and the campaign would be over before they could drive him from them. It is singular that the only plan Wolfe does not mention in this memoir was the one the French general feared the most. This was that of cutting the line of communication from his base of supplies by throwing an army corps on the north shore which would force him to give battle. This was the plan which the three brigadiers proposed as a last resort.

Wolfe accepted this plan more out of respect for the good judgment of his three brigadiers than from any conviction of its success. The low state of his spirits, as well as his physical condition, seemed to have deprived him of his usual perspicacity.

But from the moment the project was adopted he exerted the same energetic will power as if he had been certain of success, though without his natural enthusiasm. His greatest trouble was the fear that he might not be strong enough to lead his army in person. "I know that you cannot cure me," he said to his physician, "but if you can fix me up so that I will not suffer any pain for two or three days, and that I can do my duty; that is all I ask."

The last day of August he felt well enough to go out. Knox says in his journal: " His Excellency, General Wolfe, is convalescent to the inconceivable joy of the whole army." The letter which the general wrote to his mother that same day, the last one she received from him, shows how utterly despondent he had become:—

"Dear madame,—My writing to you will convince you that no personal evils, worse than defeats and disappointments, have fallen upon me. . . My antagonist has wisely shut himself up in inaccessible entrenchments, so that I can't get at him without spilling a torrent of blood, and that perhaps to little purpose. The Marquis de Montcalm is at the head of a great number of bad soldiers, and I am at the head of a small number of good ones that, wish for nothing so much as to fight him; but the wary old fellow avoids an action, doubtful of the behaviour of his army. People must be of the profession to understand the disadvantages and difficulties we labour under, arising from the uncommon natural strength of the country."

In the presence of his intimate friends Wolfe disclosed the bitterness of his thoughts, and at times in his worst attacks of melancholy he would exclaim that if he did not succeed he would never return to England to be exposed, as other unfortunate generals had been, to the censures and reproaches of an ignorant populace.

The general envied his adversary whom fortune seemed to favour. The latter, nevertheless, believed himself to be in as great difficulties at that very time, and he also disclosed to his close acquaintances his anxiety and his troubles. The evening of September 2nd, seated by his camp, in the house which he occupied at Montmorency Falls, he wrote to Bourlamaque: "The night is dark, and it is raining; our troops are afoot and dressed in their tents; those to the right and in the town are particularly watchful. I am booted, and my horse is saddled, which is, in truth, my ordinary manner at night—a series of interruptions, alarms, visits and counsels from the Indians. ... I wish you were here. . . . For I cannot be everywhere, though I multiply myself as well as I can, and I have not been undressed since June 23rd."

The cloud of anxiety which hung over the Beauport camp cleared up for some time. The news from Montreal was more reassuring. Lévis said that Johnson's army did not threaten the rapids; that Amherst remained in St. Frederic, and that moreover Bourlamaque was in a position to hold Ile-aux-Noix to the end of the campaign. Bourlamaque himself had written saying so to Vaudreuil. The movements of the English army around Quebec seemed to indicate an early raising of the siege. For several days past Wolfe had been taking down his batteries from the heights of Montmorency. Soon it was evident that he would break up the camp at the Falls, and on September 3rd he had completely evacuated it, after having set fire to the entrenchments.

" This evening," wrote Montcalm to Ldvis, the same day, " the right will be reinforced by two thousand men ; I will visit it to-morrow, and Pou-lariez will be commander-in-chief from the Falls to the Beauport church. We have nineteen vessels above Quebec, and Bougainville is acting as a coastguard. I am establishing myself in de Salaberry's house, so as to have a wide range of observation, and to be within easy range of all points." The tone of satisfaction which characterizes this letter serves to show the feeling of relief which was springing up in the breasts of the people and of the army at the Falls. The news quickly spread on all sides, and the colony re-echoed with shouts of joy, for it was generally believed that the British movements were but the signal for the raising of the siege. The generals, however, did riot share in this delusion. "However flattering this idea may be," Vaudreuil wrote to Lévis, "I do not really entertain it, and out of prudence I am preparing for the maintenance of the army up till October 15th." It was easy to see that the enemy's tactics were only to divert their attention. Wolfe profited by every favourable wind to bring up more vessels above Quebec. He reassembled his three army corps at Pointe Lévis, so that they would be ready to descend upon some other point and to strike a decisive blow if possible. Where was this point to be? This it was impossible to guess, for even Wolfe himself did not know. He had resolved to make an attack above Quebec, and he waited for circumstances to decide the precise point.

Montcalm made a new disposal of his camp; four hundred militiamen from Montreal guarded the left, and one hundred and eighty the winter fords. Repentigny's reserves occupied the position of the Guyenne regiment which then camped on the right, being reinforced the evening before by six hundred men from Montreal; and the Royal-Roussillon regiment drew up near Repentigny's position, on the plateau by the Beauport church. A chain of posts joined Montmorency Falls with the town, which was somewhat reinforced. Already Malartic and several of the officers, foreseeing the catastrophe of the thirteenth, said that the precautions taken to guard the Beauport line were excessive, "and that there was not enough trouble taken with the others." Vaudreuil gave the same advice, particularly about the Foulon (Wolfe's Cove) which was only guarded by about a hundred men; but Montcalm persisted in believing that the cliff was inaccessible. To the representations which the governor had previously made to him on the subject, he had replied: "I assure you that a hundred posted men would stop the army and give us time to wait for daylight and to march there from the right." After fresh remonstrances he insisted: "It is not to be supposed that the enemies have wings so that they can in the same night cross the river, disembark, climb the obstructed acclivity, and scale the walls, for which last operation they would have to carry ladders."

During September 3rd Bougainville spent an hour at de Salaberry's house telling the commander of the uneasiness caused him by the manoeuvres of Admiral Holmes, Whose fleet had approached the town. It was probably the last time that Bougainville saw the general, whom he loved as a father and admired as a hero. The next day the battalion of Guyenne was ordered to advance to the Heights of Abraham, to be ready to help at the first signal, whether from Bougainville, the camp, or the town. The English cannon taken from Montmorency Falls to Pointe Lévis, having augmented the batteries, the bombardment was redoubled in intensity.

"The town," remarks Folignd, "could not be in a more pitiable state unless it were razed." On the evening of the fourth the enemy, profiting by a good wind and a dark night, succeeded in getting a convoy of vessels loaded with baggage and munition past Quebec.

During the afternoon of the fifth Murray left the Lévis camp with four battalions to join Admiral Holmes's fleet above Sillery, and the next day Monckton and Townshend followed him with three others. Rumigny, who commanded a detachment of the La Sarre regiment at Sillery, had seen the troops passing along the cliffs at Lévis, and turned the fire of his batteries upon them whilst they were fording the Etchemin River to embark in the neighbouring bay.

Upon receiving news of this march the general assembly had been sounded at the Beauport camp and the companies of grenadiers and Repentigny's reserve, with nearly all the Indians, of whom there were still a good number, though many had returned to their homes, were ordered to advance.

Repentigny's reserve was stationed at the foot of a hill which led to the St. John Gate, and the grenadier companies at the fork of the Samos and Sillery roads. Vaudreuil wrote to Bougainville: "I need not tell you, sir, that the safety of the colony is in your hands; that certainly the enemy's plan is to sever our communication by disembarking on the north shore; and that vigilance alone can ward him off." He then detailed to him his orders, and added: "By this arrangement there should be from L'Anse des Meres and Cap Rouge the following force: One hundred and fifty men between L'Anse des M&res and the Foulon; thirty men at Samos; fifty men at St. Michel; fifty men at Sillery; two hundred men at Cap Rouge."

Then he gave him a table of the other forces at his disposal, "as much for the purpose of garrisoning the other posts as for rising in a body, not including Indians," the whole forming a force of two thousand one hundred men. He added: "I think, sir, that with that and a little good fortune, you will do good work.

"I do not need to instruct you . . . to establish the regiment of Guyenne in the central point . . . . In a word, you have carte blanche as to the means you employ." Finally, having always felt uneasy about the post at the Foulon he told him to add to it fifty men from Repentigny's company, the most experienced of the Canadian troops. The next day Montbeillard sent with the two field-guns a little note which betrayed the same anxiety as Malartic had already expressed:

"I wish that all your country was bristling with arms and entrenched as this is, for it would spare you much going and coming. However, you are conducting a fine campaign, and I hope that it may finish as it has commenced, and that we may see your trouble and work crowned with the glory they deserve."

The English army had just re-embarked upon its vessels, and an order from General Wolfe, who had rejoined it during the night of the sixth, had warned all hands to be ready for an early landing. All were worn out with the length of the siege and. impatient to be on the move.

The frigate, The Sea Horse, had received on board the 43rd Regiment in which John Knox served. "Captain Smith and his officers entertained us in a most princely manner," said he, "and very obligingly made it their principal care to render our crowded situation as agreeable as possible."

On the morning of the seventh, after a night of storm and wind, the sun rose in a mild and clear atmosphere. Admiral Holmes's squadron raised anchor before Sillery, and re-ascended the stream by tacking about in a light breeze, aided by the rising tide. Each time that the vessels took a tack towards the north side the French settlers and Indians, concealed on the edge of the shore, sent a number of bullets among the red-coats and the motley uniforms which swarmed on the decks. The squadron cast anchor opposite the Cap Rouge River, whose two banks, opening out in the form of a funnel, presented, at this time, a spectacle as animated as it was picturesque. Bougainville had established his headquarters there, and had made entrenchments at the edge of the bay, where several of his floating batteries were moored. "The enemy," says Knox, "number about one thousand six hundred men, besides their cavalry, who are clothed in blue, and mounted on neat light horses of different colours.

They seem very alert, parading and counter-marching between the woods on the heights in their rear and their breastworks, in order to make their numbers show to great advantage."

The French battalions advanced to the mouth of the river, and drew up in line of battle; the cavalry dismounted and formed to the right of the infantry, then the whole detachment descended the hill, and lined the entrenchments, with loud cries, which Knox covers with ridicule, remarking, "How different, how nobly awful, and expressive of true valour is the custom of the British troops!"

The English chronicler did not reflect that the French had Indians in their ranks, and that the best means of bringing them into the combat was to imitate their war cries.

The floating batteries cannonaded some of the vessels, whose barges filled with troops passed up and down the river as if to attempt a descent; but after divers movements they retired without approaching the shore. It was only a feint, destined to keep Bougainville's principal corps at Cap Rouge.

"Whilst a descent was premeditated elsewhere, perhaps lower down," says Knox, "on his side Admiral Saunders affected to menace the right of the Beauport camp by taking soundings and placing buoys in front of La Canardiere."

Wolfe, accompanied by some officers on board the Hunter, went as far as Pointe-aux-Trembles to reconnoitre, and returned as perplexed as ever.

The continual rains of the next two days caused operations to be suspended, and fear was entertained for the health of the troops crowded on board the vessels. Sixteen hundred men were disembarked at St. Nicholas under Monckton, who placed them in the church and some houses which had escaped the fire.

This bad weather exposed the French army more than ever to lack of provisions. "You are very lucky," said Bigot to Bougainville, "that your neighbours do not make you turn out; how would the infantry get along  Our camp is full of water, the bridges on the roads are carried away, and carts cannot be used. We must hope for fine weather, without which we would be very much embarrassed." Montcalm took advantage of this delay to dictate to his secretary the plans of a camp for the following winter.

"The campaign here," he said, when forwarding this plan to Levis, "is far from finished, although the enemy has left the Falls. On the contrary, the fire from the batteries upon the town has been increased. A small squadron of twenty ships and fifty or sixty barges has been opposite Sillery and Cap Rouge for three days. Bougainville is watching them, his line being much drawn out. At ten o'clock last night one hundred barges drawn up in line of battle in mid-stream made a false attack. I must say that I wish you were here, and that the Marquis de Vaudreuil would send you an order to this effect conditional on there being nothing to fear and all being well." At the end of the same letter he added: " I would you were here to unravel the intricacies of the situation, for I fear an attack at any point." Next morning, he added: "There is work to be done here in which Lapause can serve you in advance in case the colony is saved, which it is not as yet. Do not write anything to the Marquis de Vaudreuil, but to me alone. In truth if there is nothing to fear on your part, I own, my dear chevalier, that I wish you were here, where all is not yet said."

The very day upon which the French general was writing these anxious lines his antagonist expressed more gloomy thoughts in a letter to Lord Holdernesse, written on board the Sutherland anchored opposite Cap Rouge. The appearance of the sky this stormy day was in harmony with his dismal thoughts. The north-east wind which blew between the two cliffs whistled mournfully through the rigging and whitened the waves around the admiral's vessel. The rain which beat against the porthole windows allowed .only a feeble light to enter the cabin in which Wolfe sat. His face was extremely pale, for he had scarcely recovered from a recent attack of illness. After having given the secretary of state a resumé of the operations of the siege, of the obstacles which he had encountered, and of the preparations for a final effort which he feared was useless, he concluded with this discouraging farewell: "The Marquis of Montcalm has a numerous body of armed men (I cannot call it an army), and the strongest country perhaps in the world. Our fleet blocks up the river above and below the town, but can give no manner of aid in an attack upon the Canadian army. We are now here with about thirty-six hundred men, waiting to attack them when and wherever they can best be got at. I have so far recovered as to be able to attend to my duty, but my constitution is entirely ruined, without the consolation of having done any considerable service to the state, or without any prospect of it."

It is a curious thing that Wolfe in the letter just quoted should have stated that the fleet could give no manner of aid in an attack upon the Canadian army. His situation appeared to him sufficiently desperate, for he could detail at the most five thousand men for his final operations, and with all his contempt for the Canadian militia he recognized Montcalm's ability to draw every advantage from a position of unique strength.

The last news received from Amherst left no hope of assistance from that side, and Vaudreuil took the wise precaution to keep the St. Lawrence closed above the Richelieu Rapids. Notwithstanding the most pressing entreaties he had refused to risk the vessels which he had taken up the river, in an engagement with Admiral Holmes. Their presence prevented Wolfe from executing his design of sending a detachment to attack Bourlamaque's army in the rear, and to open the way from Canada to the forces of Amherst. "All this," he said, "might have been easily done with ten floating batteries, carrying each a gun, and twenty flat-bottomed boats, if there had been no ships in the river."

On the morning of the tenth the wind changed to the south-west, and the sun rose radiant behind the hills of Pointe Lévis. Wolfe, who had already searched all the bays and rocks of the north shore, from Quebec to Pointe-aux-Trembles, took with him Brigadier Townshend, Engineer Mackellar and some officers, and descended to a half league above Quebec, opposite the Foulon, better known as Wolfe's Cove. This place was pointed out to him, it is said, by Major Stobo.

Wolfe carefully examined with the aid of a telescope a cutting through which the St. Denis brook flowed over the edge of the cliff, and which is today hidden by a forest of full-grown trees. On each side, especially towards the east, the escarpment gives way and forms a declivity by which the public road passes. He counted the tents, whose white cones stood out among the trees on the edge of the cliff. There were only a dozen, and there seemed to be very little movement round them. Wolfe concluded that the post was not very well, guarded, and that a night surprise would be possible. But the enterprise seemed so daring that he did not venture to propose it directly to the council of war. He took indirect means. At least so affirmed two annalists of the siege, Chevalier Johnstone and the author of the Journal tenu a Parmee, both of whom served in the French camp. It is strange that the English chroniclers do not mention this fact, not even Knox, whose work is so complete.

"The manoeuvres of the enemy above Quebec, which we had watched for some days," says the journal, "and the knowledge which we had of the character of Mr. Wolfe, a daring, impetuous and intrepid warrior, prepared us for a last attack. It had, in fact, been definitely resolved upon in the English army. They had held a council of war, as we afterwards learned from different English officers, after breaking up camp at the Falls, where all the general officers were unanimously in favour of raising the siege. The officers of the fleet drew attention to the fact that the season was so far advanced that each day rendered navigation in the river more perilous, and the land officers, disgusted by the length of a campaign as fruitless as it was trying, thought it useless to stay any longer before entrenchments which seemed to them unassailable. Moreover, one and another added that their army, always a prey to sickness, was gradually decreasing. Then General Wolfe seeing that he could not gain anything by running counter to the general opinion, cleverly adopted other means. He declared to the members of the council that far from differing from their opinions he quite recognized the uselessness of prolonging the siege, that also, in the proposition he was about to make, he wished to lay aside his prerogatives as general, and to act upon their opinion. . . 'Finally, gentlemen,' he told them, 'the glory of our arms seems to me to demand that we do not retire without making a last attempt. I ask you urgently not to refuse. I wish that, in this circumstance . . . our first step will be towards the gates of the city.'

"1 am going to try, with this end in view, to get a detachment, of one hundred and fifty men only, through the woods at Sillery. Let all the army be prepared to follow. If this first detachment meets with resistance from the enemy I give my word of honour that regarding our reputation as free from all reproach, I will not hesitate to re-embark.' The zeal which animated so brave a general was taken up by all the officers who heard him, and all occupied themselves in preparing for the execution of so noble a project."

Wolfe, who knew how greatly his presence raised the courage of his troops, paid a visit to each vessel. He gave on this occasion an evidence of his solicitude for his men which made a profound impression. Having learned that two officers of the 43rd Regiment were indisposed he expressed his sympathy with them, and even offered them his canoe to take them to Pointe Lévis. But while assuring him of their gratitude for his kindness and condescension, they said that no consideration could make them leave their post till they had seen the end of this undertaking.

Some one remarked that one of these officers was very ill and had a feeble constitution. Wolfe interrupted him, exclaiming: "Don't speak to me of constitution; this officer has good spirits, and with good spirits a man can do anything."

For several days previously Admiral Holmes's squadron had raised anchors before Sillery at each tide, the ships being allowed to drift as far as St. Augustin, and often beyond that point, coming down again with the ebb. This continuous game of hide and seek wore out Bougainville's troops who were forced to march day and night to remain opposite the vessels, and prevent a landing.

Finally, all being ready, the night of September 12th was fixed for the attack. From this moment a series of unparalleled circumstances contributed to Wolfe's marvellous success. Fortune, which had so far appeared so hostile to the English general, seemed now to grant him all her favour. That invisible power which pagans call fate, and which Christians know as Providence, decreed the triumph of his cause.

Two deserters from the Royal-Roussillon regiment who had escaped from Bougainville's camp during the night of Wednesday, .the twelfth, gave assurances that the post at the Foulon was poorly guarded, and the captain of the Hunter learned that a convoy of provisions was to be sent down to Beauport. The difficulties of land transportation had forced the commissariat to resort to this perilous expedient. A trial had been made before, and had proved successful. The boatmen chose dark nights, and floated noiselessly down with their cargo close by the north shore, in the shadow of the cliffs. This information gave Wolfe his opportunity, and he resolved to profit by it. He would precede the convoy, and try to deceive the sentinels by passing himself off as French.

During the morning of that day the detachments from St. Nicholas had been again re-embarked, and Colonel Burton had orders to gather all the available troops from Pointe Lévis and the Island of Orleans at nightfall, and to follow the cliff up to opposite Wolfe's Cove, where lie would wait ready to cross at the first signal.

That same day Wolfe issued his last proclamation from the Sutherland: "The enemy's force is now divided, great scarcity of provisions now in their camp, and universal discontent among the Canadians; the second officer in command is gone to Montreal or St. Johns, which gives reason to think that General Amherst is advancing into the colony ; a vigorous blow struck by the army at this juncture may determine the fate of Canada. Our troops below are in readiness to join us, all the light artillery and tools are- embarked at the Point of Levis, and the troops will land where the French seem least to expect it. The first body that gets on shore is to march directly to the enemy, and drive . them from any little post they may occupy; the officers must be careful that the succeeding bodies do not, by any mistake, fire upon those who go on before them. The battalions must form on the upper ground, with expedition, and be ready to charge whatever presents itself. When the artillery and troops are landed, a corps will be left to secure the landing-place, while the rest march on and endeavour to bring the French and Canadians to battle. The officers and men will remember what their country expects from them, and what a determined body of soldiers, inured to war, is capable of doing, against five weak French' battalions mingled with a disorderly peasantry."

Fortunately this proclamation was not made known to the English army till after the departure of a deserter from the Royal Americans who had stolen away that same day. On the eve of the thunderbolt which was about to fall upon him Montcalm wrote two notes, one to Bourlamaque and the other, probably the last he ever penned with his own hand, to Lévis. Both clearly show that he was in a most despondent frame of mind, although in the second he says : " Should the English remain here even until November 7th we will hold out."

At sunset the marquis went down to the Beauport shore, accompanied by Marcel, and after having examined a battery which he had just enlarged, he walked along the entrenchment with his companion for some time, closely observing Admiral Saunders' fleet, the large vessels of which had spread their sails and were approaching the beach at La Canardiére, whilst a large number of barges full of marines were assembling towards the point of the Island of Orleans. It was the commencement of a false attack, arranged between Wolfe and the admiral, to keep the main body of the French troops below Quebec. The whole fleet was soon in motion and the vessels exchanged signals with the Island of Orleans, Pointe Lévis, and amongst themselves ; the bombardment of the town was renewed with redoubled fury, and joined its distant roar to the closer cannonade of the vessels which were sweeping the Beauport flats as if preparing for a landing. This display of force, coinciding with the close of day, recalled the scenes of July 31st, and completely deceived Montcalm as to the enemy's real intentions. As twilight faded into a night remarkable for its darkness, the camp fires glimmered along the Beauport slope, from Montmorency to the town. The general, still chatting to his secretary, was returning to the de Sala-berry manor, when M. de Poulariez came to tell him that a number of barges were approaching the flat occupied by his regiment. Montcalm at once ordered the troops to man the trenches. At the same time he despatched Captain Marcel, with one of his orderlies, to Vaudreuil asking him to come and give him the benefit of his advice as soon as circumstances would warrant his doing so. In the meantime he continued to pay alternate visits to the manor and the Beauport ravine with M. de Poulariez and Chevalier Johnstone. His conversation, which was always animated, acquired a decidedly emotional tone as the night advanced, for he felt a presentiment of approaching danger which, however, he could not account for. At one o'clock in the morning he sent Poulariez to his regiment, and continued his walk with Johnstone.

His chief source of anxiety was the boats loaded with provisions, which according to Bougainville, should come down that night:—

"I tremble," he remarked several times to the chevalier, "lest they be taken and their loss undo us completely; for we have only provisions enough for a few days."

At the very same hour Wolfe, too, had presentiments which pointed to an early death. A codicil had been added on July 29th to the will which he had made in June. As a token of his esteem for and attachment to his colleagues in command, he left his silver to Admiral Saunders, his accoutrements to Monckton, and his papers and books to Carleton. All his orders being given, and having nothing to do but wait for the tide, he summoned to his cabin on board the Sutherland one of the companions of his youth in whom he had great confidence, John Jervis, commander of the sloop of war Porcupine, who later became admiral with the title of Lord St. Vincent. He spent an hour with him, and told him of his presentiments. When saying adieu he took from his waistcoat the medallion containing the portrait of Miss Lowther, and giving it to his friend, begged him to give it to his fiancde when he returned to England, if his present fears were realized.

The twenty-two vessels under Admiral Holmes lifted anchor at Cap Rouge only at nightfall. The tide, which was near the turn, took them but a short distance beyond St. Augustin, and they came down with the ebb as they had done on previous days, so that no new movement would awaken the suspicion of the guard. Meanwhile all was activity on board the vessels. The troops knew that they were to make an attack that night, but only a few officers knew where the landing was to be made.

The soldiers were cleaning their arms,' and the crews were preparing to man the boats. Two days before Colonel Howe, commander of the light infantry, a brother of the hero who fell the previous year at Carillon, had called for volunteers from his finest battalion, and had chosen twenty-four men to whom was given the honour of leading the way.

The night mists which overhung the river intensified the darkness, and made it impossible to see at any distance, but in the shadowy forms which glided on the water, the French sentinels on the crest of Cap Rouge recognized the fleet, and signalled the fact that it had passed. Bougainville, however, was convinced that it would again come, up with the rising tide, as before, and so did not think it necessary to follow. There can be no doubt that Bougainville, who modestly admitted himself to be an apprentice in the art of war, was duped on this occasion by Wolfe's masterly strategy. The morning of the battle found him at Pointe-aux-Trembles, nearly twenty miles from the scene of action. For this he has been excused. He had, however, neglected to follow the advice of the governor, who, after having pointed out to him that the Foulon post was not well enough guarded, told him to add to it fifty men from Repentigny's company. "Bougainville," says Johnstone, "had much spirit, good sense, and many fine qualities . . . . but with all his bravery he was very ignorant of military science, which he had never studied." Thanks to influence at court and the favour of Mme. de Pompadour he had passed from aide-decamp to the rank of colonel, to the great discontent of several older and more deserving officers. On the evening of the twelfth he sent word that the English army had gone back to the camp at Pointe Levis, although all appearances were against their having done so, and instead of following the fleet without ever losing sight of it, as he had been ordered to do, he remained inactive at Cap Rouge, with his whole detachment. Why did he not move towards the Heights of Abraham, as the English did so? Why did he not send back the grenadiers and volunteers who were the soul of their regiments? Why, after having informed Vaudreuil and Montcalm, as well as the posts of Rumigny, of Douglas, and of Vergor, that he would that night send boats with provisions, did he not advise them of his change of plans, so that they might not expect them? All this Johnstone concludes is inexplicable.

But what is unpardonable on Bougainville's part is that, contrary to the admonitions of the governor, which were repeated in the letter in which Vaudreuil gave him carte blanche as to the means he was to employ, he changed the commander of the Foulon, or at least allowed him to leave three or four days after, placing the post in the hands of Vergor, who had been censured a few years before for having given up the fort of Beausdjour almost without resistance. The army, like the generals, relied implicitly upon him. Only the previous evening Montbeillard writing to him from Beauport, said: "We bivouac here every night, but are foolish to do so, for you are keeping a lookout for us." During all the previous summer he had an opportunity of seeing the untiring watchfulness of Lévis, who when stationed on the Montmorency River, in a position similar to his own, had never made a mistake. Lévis, however, was no longer in Quebec.

Towards midnight one lantern was hoisted in the main top-mast shrouds of the Sutherland. It was the signal agreed upon. The first division immediately took their places in the boats, and got in line, followed closely by the rest of the army, the light infantry forming the advance guard. At two o'clock, on a signal from the general, whose boat was at the head of the line, all the boats were put in motion. The soldiers had been ordered to keep absolute silence, the crews to make as little noise as possible, and only to use their oars to steer with, for the ebbing tide and the south-westerly breeze which had sprung up, rapidly sent them shoreward. Admiral Holmes's vessels were to start three-quarters of an hour later, with the rest of the troops. There was no moon, and the light of the stars, veiled by the September mist, was hardly perceptible. The deathly silence was broken only by the lapping of the water against the sides of the boats, and by the noise of the wind in the trees on the cliffs to the left.

For more than an hour the long file of boats glided in silence following the contour of the shore. No sound was heard on the heights, and everything seemed to show that they were undiscovered. Wolfe, seated in the stern of his boat, conversed in a low tone from time to time with the officers about him. One of them, John Robinson, who later became professor of natural science at the Edinburgh University, tells of the profound impression which the general's conversation made upon him.

The melancholy thoughts which had taken possession of him returning, he sought to find expression for them in poetry, and began to recite Gray's beautiful " Elegy in a Country Churchyard," which had only recently been published.1 Had he some presentiment of the fate which awaited him when, in a voice full of emotion, he repeated the lines, never more true than in his own case,

"The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

"Gentlemen," he exclaimed, finishing the quotation, "I would rather have been the author of that elegy than take Quebec." "Qui vive/" cried a sentinel, invisible in the shade, to one of the boats of the light infantry, which just then skirted the Samos shore within pistol shot.

"La France/" replied a captain of Fraser's Highlanders, who was a good French scholar. The sentinel, thinking that it was the "convoy of provisions mentioned by Bougainville, allowed the boats to pass without demanding the password, or assuring himself of the truth. A few minutes afterwards a rustling of branches was heard, indicating that some one was coming down the hill at the Foulon, followed by a fresh "Qui vive!"

"La France/" repeated the captain, and he added in French, "Do not make a noise; it is the provisions; we may be overheard." The sloop of war, Hunter, was anchored near by. "Pass," said the sentinel, who did not come down any further. The force of the current carried the boats of the light infantry a little below the bay.

The twenty-four volunteers, conducted by Captain Delaune, jumped out on the sand, and advanced to the foot of the cliff, which is very steep at this point, and is now covered with trees and brushwood as it was then. With their guns strapped on their backs they started to climb the cliff, helping themselves by taking hold of branches and shrubs. They arrived at the summit without being once fired upon, and advanced to the open clearing, closely followed by a stronger detachment. Day was beginning to dawn and the white tents could be seen against the dark background. They rushed upon the sentinels, who, upon perceiving them, fired a few shots, and fell back towards the tents. Vergor was in bed, sound asleep, and was awakened by the shots and cries of alarm. He rushed to the defence with the soldiers from the tents near by. There were only about thirty in all, for Vergor had sent the remainder, mostly habitants of Lorette, to gather in their crops, on condition, it seems, that they would attend to his crops on the land which he owned in that parish. A picket of the light infantry which had disembarked a little higher up was marching to the aid of the volunteers. Vergor, caught between two fires, made but a feeble resistance, and received a ball in his heel. One man only of his detachment was captured. The others succeeded in escaping into the neighbouring woods, aided by the darkness.

Wolfe, remaining upon the beach, waited for a signal before sending up more troops. For some time nothing disturbed the silence of the night except the rustling of the wind and the murmur of the St. Denis brook, which, swollen by the last rain, dashed down the mountainside. Suddenly shots were heard, accompanied by the call to arms, and then more shooting and confused clamour. Finally, the hurrahs of the English announced that the post was taken, and Wolfe gave the order to advance, without showing the joy he felt.

All the first division, consisting of about sixteen hundred men, jumped out of their boats, preceded by the sappers, who, in a few instants, cleared the road of the fallen trees which obstructed the way. One part of the division was thus engaged, while the rest were climbing to the right and left catching hold of the bushes and rocks to help themselves.

Wolfe, to whom the excitement of the moment gave new strength, climbed the hill with a light step, and quickly arranged the troops in line of battle as they reached the top. The left wing extended towards Sillery, and the right in the direction of Quebec, the whole line facing the St. Louis road. The fusilade at the Foulon had given the alarm to the battery at Samos, and it opened a lively fire upon the boats, damaging some and killing and wounding a few officers and men. Colonel Howe was detailed with the light infantry to capture this post, and that at Sillery whose battery opened a hot fire upon the squadron which had just approached the shore, and anchored in the Foulon. The two garrisons, assailed by superior forces, and seeing that they were about to be surrounded, retreated towards Cap Rouge. A part of Anstruther's regiment went to take possession of the houses along the Sillery road.

During these occurrences a constant stream of troops was disembarking, immediately to climb the hill and form up on the plateau above.

The troops were so quickly brought ashore that before six o'clock in the morning Colonel Burton's men from the other side of the river had been brought over to Wolfe's Cove. In the meantime daylight broke, the rising sun of September 13th, hidden by the clouds from whose grey heights occasional light showers fell, presaging a rainy day. No enemy had' yet appeared on the undulating tree-dotted plain, which extended before the army. It almost seemed as if the English troops had been merely assembled upon it for a drill parade, for only the bombardment which had been redoubled when news of the successful landing came, recalled war's realities.

When we reflect that the price of this enormous advantage had been only a difficult climb, and three insignificant skirmishes, we are almost dumbfounded. All the causes which should have contributed to the failure of so daring an undertaking, had rather conspired to its success.'

Firstly, the Guyenne regiment, which had been posted on the Plains of Abraham, was withdrawn against all common sense.

Secondly, two deserters of the Royal-Roussillon, revealed to Wolfe the fact that the Foulon was negligently guarded, and that the Plains of Abraham were unprotected.

Thirdly, Bougainville, contrary to Vaudreuil's advice, had not reinforced the post at the Foulon with Repentigny's fifty chosen men.

Fourthly, two French prisoners had revealed the fact that a convoy of provisions was expected to come down the river.

Fifthly, Bougainville warned the different posts that the convoy was coming, and, though it did not go down, he neglected to countermand his order to allow it to pass.

Sixthly, the deserter from the Royal Americans had left before the proclamation had been made by Wolfe, and so could not give any news of the intended attack.

Seventhly, Bougainville who had always followed Admiral Holmes's fleet, step by step, and kept it in sight, saw it come down from Cap Rouge, and did not follow it.

Eighthly, the commander of the Foulon had been replaced three or four days before by Captain Vergor, the poorest soldier in the colony.

Ninthly, this officer hud allowed almost all his men to go away on the night of the twelfth.

Tenthly, he kept no lookout whatever and was sound asleep when the English landed.

If even one of these chances had not occurred the attack would probably have been prevented or at least delayed in its execution, and possibly turned into an overwhelming disaster. If, for instance, the Guyenne regiment had been kept on the Plains of Abraham, according to the dictates of the merest prudence, it would have arrived in time to surprise the English regiment while they were disordered and climbing the cliff, and would have met them with so disastrous a fire that a frightful slaughter would have been the inevitable result, while the batteries at Samos and Sillery, enfilading them at the same time, would have completed their ruin. Wolfe would have lost his reputation as a commander before Quebec, and would to-day be placed in the same category with Phipps or Sir Hovenden Walker. England, discouraged by the failure of this expedition, which had cost an enormous amount, would probably have given up its idea of conquering the place, and New France would still have belonged to its former masters, a prey to the abuses which followed Louis XV until they fell before the Revolution.

While the three brigadiers saw that everything was in order Wolfe advanced a short distance towards Quebec to choose a suitable battle-ground, and decided upon a fairly level piece of ground which has since become immortal as the Plains of Abraham. It had been so named because one of the earliest Canadian settlers, Abraham Martin, a former pilot, nicknamed Maitre Abraham, had acquired the plot, and cleared it. The plateau is about three-quarters of a mile wide, and is bounded on the right by a steep cliff, at the foot of which flows the St. Lawrence, and on the left by the Cote Ste. Genevieve, below which the river St. Charles winds slowly through the valley that bears its name. The two cliffs, meeting over a mile to the eastward, form Cape Diamond crowned by the citadel of Quebec. Two parallel roads cross the Plains of Abraham. One, the St. Louis road, leads from St. Louis Gate to Sillery; the other, the Ste. Foy road, emerges from the St. John Gate and leads to the parish of Ste. Foy. In front of the plateau lies a slight ravine. The ground, sloping gently downwards and then rising, ascends again to form the Buttes-a-Neveu which extend to the city walls. Here and there amongst the fields of wheat and the pasture-lands which formed part of the Plains were groups of trees and shrubbery. From the top of Ste. Genevieve hill the eye ranges over the parishes of Lorette, Charlesbourg, and Beauport, the basin of the St. Charles, the Island of Orleans, and the parishes of L'Ange-Gardien, Chateau Richer, Ste. Anne, and St. Joachim, being bounded on the horizon by Cap Tourmente. The scene recalls in its extent and picturesqueness the road from Naples at Castellamare. All that is wanted is a pall of smoke to crown Ste. Anne's Mountain over twenty miles, distant, and we have a picture of Vesuvius.

Canadian and Indian sharpshooters presently appeared at the borders of the woods, and killed and wounded a few men. The army had turned, facing the city, and the general divided it into three columns and advanced towards the Plains.

It was at this moment that Montcalm was informed of the descent at the Foulon. Vaudreuil was still unaware of it.

The general's secretary was no longer with the governor ; he had followed Major Dumas to the battery at La Canardi£re, who, warned by the patrols at the water's edge that the barges seen by Poulariez were ascending towards the town, had ordered the Quebec militia to leave the entrenchments and proceed along the beach. At the first gleam of daylight all danger seemed to have disappeared, and the men were entering their tents when the firing at Samos was heard.

Montcalm had just left Johnstone, after having taken a cup of tea with him to refresh himself as he had not slept all night, and had given orders to have his horses saddled. He arrived at La Canardiére, and entering the seminary with his secretary, stated with some emotion that his worst fears were being realized, and that the convoy of provisions was being attacked and perhaps taken. A few moments later a Canadian entered completely out of breath. He said that he was the only survivor from Vergor's post, which had been surprised and seized by the English, who were now masters of the heights. "We knew so well," says Montcalm's secretary, "the difficulty of reaching this point, even if it were not guarded, that we did not entertain a word of the tale, believing that the man's head had been turned by fear. I went home to take some rest, begging M. Dumas to send to headquarters for news, and to let me know if there was anything to be done. All the time we could hear firing in the distance, and the town was signalling, but, as fate would have it, we did not send for further information."

The Chevalier Bernetz had sent a courier to the camp, who met Major-General Montreuil on the road. Montreuil had just received tidings of what had occurred from a fugitive, and immediately advanced the Guyenne regiment, and hastened to advise Montcalm, who at once gave orders to send forward a force consisting of one battalion and six hundred of the Montreal men. He followed on their heels, leaving the camp under command of M. de Senezergues. When, between seven and eight in the morning, the white lines of the Guyenne regiment commenced to cross the Buttes-a-Neveu, Wolfe halted his army, and ranged it in order of battle, two ranks deep, a short distance from the ravine. It covered the space between the summit of the cliff and the Ste. Foy road, and faced the town which was less than a mile distant, but was hidden from sight by the rising ground. Monckton commanded the right with the Louisbourg grenadiers and Otway's, Bragg's, and Kennedy's regiments; Murray had the centre with Lascelles' regiment, and Townshend held the left with Amherst's regiment and the Royal Americans. This wing did not reach the Cote Ste. Genevi&ve. Wolfe had taken up a strong position in the house of a man named Borgia and some other buildings near the Ste. Foy road, along which the two last-named regiments were placed, facing in two different directions, in order to prevent any attempt of the French right to flank the British left. The light infantry, recalled from Sillery, were drawn up in three columns a few paces to the rear. Colonel Burton commanded the reserve formed by Webb's regiment, sub-divided into eight distinct bodies separated by long intervals. The effective force of the army was five thousand two hundred and twenty-nine men of all ranks. The third battalion of the Royal Americans was left to maintain communication with the landing-place. Lastly Anstruther's detachment, stationed, as we have seen, in the houses at Sillery, was to keep Bougainville's corps in check.

Vaudreuil was only informed of the landing at a quarter to six by a contradictory note from the Chevalier de Bernetz, who said that the enemy had descended upon the Foulon, but that he thought they had re-embarked. He did not know the whole truth till after Montcalm's departure. At a quarter to seven he sent a special orderly to Bougainville with this message: "It seems to be absolutely certain that the enemy has disembarked at the Foulon; we have put most of the troops in motion, and can hear light firing. ... I am waiting for news from you, and to know if the enemy has attempted anything on your side." He added the following postscript, "The enemy seems to have a large force. I have no doubt that you are watching all their movements, and will follow them; and depend on your doing so."

The couriers followed one another with more and more alarming news. Montcalm could scarcely believe his eyes when, on arriving at the river St. Charles, he distinctly saw the rows of red-coats on the brink of the Cote Ste. Genevi&ve.

"The situation is serious," he said to Johnstone, who accompanied him. "Return as quickly as possible to Beauport, and order Poulariez to send at once the rest of the left to the Heights of Abraham." Then he spurred his horse, and with set face and never speaking a word, he crossed the bridge and the St. Charles valley at full speed proceeding towards Cote d'Abraham.

The entire army was soon in motion, with the exception of the guards for the batteries and the bridge. In the city the excitement and alarm were beyond description. The citizens were suddenly awakened by the cry: "The English are at the gates." All who did not carry arms, old men, women and children ran to the north of the town, gaining the ramparts and the cape, and watching with mute anxiety the troops moving from the Beauport road to the town. They marched at full speed, the regiments of the line easily distinguished by their white uniforms, flags flying, and drums beating, and the militia clothed in every conceivable fashion, but mostly in habitant costume. After crossing the bridge they were divided into three columns, the first marching up Palace Hill, the second up the Cote-a-Coton, and the third up the Cote d'Abraham. While these last two were advancing to the westward of the city walls the first, entering by Palace Gate, passed out by the St Louis and St. John Gates. The women and children recoiled at sight of the ferocious-looking Indians with their war-paint, their scalps, and their feather head-dress. Families peered into the ranks of the militia searching for a brother, a husband, or a father, to embrace them before the battle which the constant fusilade showed to be imminent. Every one believed that the long-expected crisis had arrived, and all that a people holds dear, their religion, their country, their homes, nay, even their very existence, was at stake.

Montcalm was stupefied on perceiving before him, not a detachment, as he had expected, but the whole of Wolfe's army. He hastened from right to left, counting the regiments, and noted the Highlanders in the centre, their multi-coloured uniforms standing out in bold relief against the red of the English lines and the nasal tones of their bagpipes mingling with the shrill notes of the fifes and trumpets. From the grey sky light showers fell from time to time. Colonel Fontbonne, commander of the .Guyenne regiment, had posted his men with much intelligence and bravery. After having extended them to deceive the enemy he profited by the unevenness of the ground to throw out skirmishers in front, who exchanged a well-directed fire with the British marksmen.

Three or four hundred Canadian sharpshooters were also thrown out, those on the left being stationed in a field of corn which was in ear, and behind groups of pine trees, cedars, and hawthorns, and those on the right in a small wood crossed by the Ste. Foy road. These inconvenienced the English troops to such an extent that their commander kept them lying prone on the ground for some time to avoid the bullets. Montcalm arranged his men in order in three lines as they arrived. The militia formed the two wings, and the regiments of the fine were in the centre, in the same order as they occupied at Beauport camp, viz., the Royal-Roussillon nearest to the river, then those of Guyenne, Béarn, Languedoc and La Sarre. Major Dumas commanded the strongest party of the Canadians which was placed on the right. Some pieces of artillery, summoned from the city, were also speedily brought to reply to the fire of grape-shot which had been opened by two of the English cannon. Montcalm ordered his secretary, who had arrived with ammunition, to place two guns on the Ste. Foy road, and to concentrate their fire on Borgia's house, which three hundred men of the light infantry had taken possession of in advance of their lines. Some Canadians, however, shortly dashed upon it in spite of the heavy fire, and set it ablaze, thus driving out its occupants, who retired to their respective regiments. An orderly from Vaudreuil, who was advancing with the rest of the troops, at this moment handed Montcalm a note entreating him not to precipitate the attack. "The success," said this note, "which the English have already gained in forcing our posts, should be the ultimate source of their defeat; but it is to our interest not to be over hasty. The English should be attacked simultaneously by our army and the fifteen hundred men whom we could easily obtain from the city, as well as by de Bougainville's corps. In this way they will be completely surrounded, and will have no other resource than to retreat towards their left, where their defeat would again be inevitable."

All military men acknowledge that this would have been the best course to follow, but Montcalm neglected the advice with scorn. "Nothing was more calculated," says the Journal kept at the army commanded by Montcalm, "to make up the mind of a general who was always ready to be jealous of the part that even the private soldier had in his successes. His ambition was to hear no one mentioned but himself, and this in no inconsiderable degree contributed to his thwarting enterprises in which he could not advance his own glory."

It was quite evident that Montcalm's first care on seeing, when he arrived at the Plains, that he had all Wolfe's army to contend with, should have been to communicate with de Bougainville. It was not yet seven o'clock in the morning. In less than an hour and a half a horseman could have crossed the St. Charles valley, re-ascended the Lorette road to the Ste. Foy church, and given de Bougainville the order to hasten on as quickly as possible. His army would have been ready to march by nine o'clock, and would thus have arrived by about eleven.

In the meanwhile Montcalm would have had time to summon the garrison of Quebec, and to draw it up in line with the fifteen hundred men whom the governor would have brought. He would thus have attacked the front of the English army with more than six thousand men, whilst the elite of his army, composed of more than two thousand soldiers, would have fallen upon the British in the rear. What the result would have been is not hard to guess. But the man who, according to Montcalm's expression, "so well knew how to take in a situation," was not there. "I remained a moment with Montcalm," says the general's secretary, "and he remarked to me: 'We cannot avoid the issue. The enemy is entrenching and already has two cannon. If we give him time to make his position good we can never attack him with the few troops we have.' He added excitedly, "Is it possible that Bougainville does not hear that?' and left without giving me time to answer him anything more than that our forces were certainly small."

Montcalm then held a council of war with the commanders of the different corps ; but they, knowing that he had resolved to attack, did not dare to oppose him, or made very timid objections, as did Montreuil. Lévis, alone, had he been present, would have been able to calm the general's excitement by his coolness, and by the influence which he had over him, and might have stopped him from rushing into action.

The regular and colonial troops, which Montcalm had at hand at the time, did not amount to more than three thousand and five or six hundred men, most of them militia. The elite of the army, the grenadiers and volunteers, were, as we have just seen, at Cap Rouge with Bougainville. In addition to this, a month before, eight hundred of the best soldiers from the five regiments now about to give battle, had been sent away with the Chevalier de Lévis.

The only part of the army engaged up to this time were the Canadians on the right, who, led by Dumas, had dislodged the light infantry from Borgia's house. Favoured by the small wood, which served them as a shelter, they ran out and attacked the infantry each time they saw it advance, and had already repulsed it three times. "The Canadians, fighting in this manner," says the Journal kept in the army commanded by Montcalm, "certainly surpass all the troops of the universe, owing to their skill as marksmen."

The repeated successes of these brave militiamen, and the ardour shown by the rest of the troops inspired Montcalm with too much confidence. He forgot that the Canadians would lose their superiority in the open field, and that most of them were poorly armed, only having their hunting guns. Some of them had not even bayonets, but had replaced them by knives which they had fixed, as best they could, to the ends of their guns. The army, which was inferior to the enemy in numbers, and worn out after a forced march of from one to two leagues—those who had last arrived being still out of breath—also lost all chance of meeting the British on even terms, as regards position, when it descended into an uneven hollow obstructed with trees, where its ranks were sure to be broken even before they reached the height which the enemy occupied. The fear of giving the British time to entrench themselves and receive reinforcements, finally prevailed over all other considerations.

Montcalm rode in front of his line of battle and amongst the ranks, animating the men by his words of encouragement, with that chivalrous and martial air which they so much admired. A young militiaman of eighteen, Joseph Trahan, who was present at the action, and who lived to be an old man, often, spoke of the singular impression which the general made upon him on this occasion. "I recall very plainly," he said, "Montcalm's conduct before the combat. He mounted a brown or black horse in front of our lines, holding up his sword as if to excite us to do our duty. He wore a uniform with large sleeves, one of which falling back revealed the white line of his cuff."

It was ten o'clock. The clouds had dispersed, and the sun shed over the field its blaze of light, and made the bayonets, the sabres, the red uniforms of the English, and the Highlanders' tartans glitter and flame with colour in front of the French. Wolfe, who seemed to be everywhere, and was easily recognized by his height, marched at the head of his regiments, which he had advanced to the edge of the ravine. No one knew better than he the danger of his position. A few shots heard from the Sillery side led him to think that Bougainville was advancing, and would soon be on his rear. If the French general retarded the attack to combine his movement with that of the colonel, he felt that his position would be a desperate one indeed. But the same good fortune which had so favoured the success of the daring deed which he had just accomplished, inspired him with faith in his ultimate triumph. He passed in front of his regiments, pointing out the enemy with his sword, and haranguing his soldiers, telling them that for them it was either victory or death, for retreat was impossible.

Montcalm sounded the charge. His army moved forward with flags flying and uttering their war cry in the old time fashion. The force moved rapidly onward, being joined on the way by the groups of sharpshooters, who had not had time to re-enter the ranks. This caused a slight delay. His command had not reached the foot of the ravine when its lines, broken by the irregularity of the ground, conveyed to the English the idea that the attack was being made in irregular columns.

The regiments tried to reform as they ascended the slope, and then halted within about half-musket range of the foe. During the momentary silence which followed little was heard save the cries of command repeated along the front of the army, and then followed a volley by all three ranks at once, instead of a part of the fire being reserved so as to keep up the fusilade. This first volley, being hastily made in the distance, had little effect. The Canadians, most of whom were stationed in the second line, lay on the ground to reload, according to their custom, and thereby caused some confusion. The English, who had been ordered by their commander to load their guns with two bullets, approached the enemy before firing, and from the height on which they stood poured in a well-directed fire, which 198 decimated the front rank, and threw it into confusion. The English centre, especially, whose simultaneous discharge sounded "like the report of a cannon," made a frightful void in the army's lines. A cloud of smoke enveloped the two armies while both continued to advance, and the fight was short, but keen. The two brave commanders of the La Sarre and Guyenne regiments, Senezergues and Fontbonne, were now mortally wounded, as was also the second in command on the right, M. St Ours. Lieutenant-Colonel Privat, of the Languedoc regiment, was dangerously wounded, and Adjutant Malartic had two horses killed under him.

On the English side Colonel Carletonwaswounded in the head, and Brigadier Monckton received a bullet wound in the body. "While Montcalm ran from one point to another trying to strengthen his disordered forces, Wolfe directed the attack in person on the right of his army. A ball struck him on the wrist, and he bandaged it with his handkerchief. He was leading the grenadiers, and gave them the order to charge, when a second bullet inflicted a severe wound. Nevertheless, still faithful to the maxim which he so often quoted, to the effect that " while a man is able to do his duty, and to stand and hold his arms, it is infamous to retire," he continued to advance, his bright new uniform a target for the Canadian sharpshooters, hidden in the thickets, from which dense clouds of smoke arose. Not long afterwards a third ball struck him in the chest He staggered, and, seeing that he was losing consciousness, he said to an officer of artillery who was near him:—"Support me; my brave soldiers must not see me fall." Lieutenant Brown, of the grenadiers, Grenadier Henderson and another soldier ran forward and bore him to the rear, where, at his request, they laid him on the grass in a hollow of the ground. One of the officers volunteered to go in search of a surgeon. "It is useless," sighed the general, "I'm done for."

He was apparently unconscious when one of those supporting him cried: "They run! They run !"

"Who run?" Wolfe quickly asked, as if just awakened from a heavy slumber.

"The enemy," replied the officer, "they give way everywhere."

Wolfe replied: "One of you run quickly to Colonel Burton, and tell him to descend in all haste with his regiment towards the St. Charles River, seize the bridge, and cut off the retreat." He then turned on his side, murmuring "God be praised, I die happy," and expired.

The last volleys of the two armies were fired with the muzzles of their muskets almost touching. Wolfe had imparted his impetuosity to his troops. The bayonet charge ordered by him at the time he fell, caused the French centre to give way, and the whole French army to turn to the rear, but "the overthrow was not total except amongst the regular troops. The Canadians accustomed to retire like the ancient Parthians, and to turn again to face the enemy with even more confidence than before, rallied in some places," principally in the little wood to the right, where they held part of the English regiments in check.

The mass of the fugitives, listening neither to the general nor to their officers, threw themselves into the valley to regain the hornwork, the rest fleeing towards the city. Montcalm, carried away by this torrent, was trying to rally some companies in front of the St. Louis Gate, when he received two wounds in succession, one in the groin, the other in the thigh. The artillery officer who acted as his secretary during the siege was near him trying to save one of the cannon. He says, "I saw M. Montcalm arrive on horseback supported by three soldiers. I entered the city with him, where the Chevalier de Bernetz gave me some orders which I ran to carry out on the ramparts." . . . The crowd which had rushed out to see the issue of the combat, was returning and crowded St. Louis Street when some women seeing him pass, pale and covered with blood, cried out, "O My God! My God !the marquis is killed!"

"It is nothing! it is nothing!" replied the dying general turning towards them, "do not distress yourselves for me, my good friends."

Vaudreuil had almost reached the heights when his army was overthrown, and he tried in vain to rally the regiments. His voice was lost amid the tumult of the Bight. A part of the Canadians, more amenable to his orders, retraced their steps, and hurried to aid the brave militiamen who were defending the ground, step by step, with the courage of despair, in the woods on the Ste. Foy road, and again in some underbrush near the St. John Gate.

The Indians, like the birds of prey they were, fled headlong as soon as the fighting began, and awaited an opportunity of spreading over the battlefield to scalp, mutilate and plunder the dead and wounded.

Townshend, upon whom the command had devolved, did not profit by the victory as he might have done, for it would have been easy for him to have seized the gates and entered the town during the general confusion. Murray was detained on the left by the stubbornness of the Canadians. As soon as the French ranks broke, the Highlanders, whom he commanded, sprang forward, claymore in hand, uttering their fear-inspiring war cry. All fled before them until they reached the edge of the wood, but there they were stopped by a well-directed fire of musketry. After useless efforts to dislodge the Canadians, the Highlanders were forced to beat a retreat to reform on the St. Louis road. They then received orders to descend westward to the edge of the Ste. Geneviéve hill in order to take the woods in the rear, and at the same time drive from the edge of the cliff the bands of Canadian sharpshooters who were defending the descent. "They killed and wounded a large number of our men," said Lieutenant Fraser, " and forced us to retreat a little to reform our ranks." They were then brought, for the third time to the attack, now reinforced on the right and on the left by the Anstruther regiment and the second battalion of the Royal Americans, respectively. A fresh struggle followed, and was sustained "by the Canadians with incredible stubbornness and ardour," to quote Chevalier Johnstone, who was a witness of this heroic conflict. "When repulsed they disputed the ground inch by inch from the top to the bottom of the height." In the middle of the valley arose the military bakery, surrounded by several houses. The Canadians made a final stand there, and for a considerable time held the three opposing regiments in check. "It was at this time, and while in the bushes," reports Fraser, "that our regiment suffered most." Chevalier Johnstone, who has described this brilliant action, says that these unfortunate heroes were almost all killed on the spot, but that they saved a large number of fugitives, and gave the French army time to take shelter in the hornwork.


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