The Conquest of New France, A Chronicle of the Colonial Wars
George M. Wrong

Part 3 out of 3

gone. The great fortress guarding the gateway to the Gulf was
gone. The next English attack would fall on Quebec. Montcalm had
told Vaudreuil in the autumn, with vigorous precision, that the
period of petty warfare, for taking scalps and burning houses,
was past. It was time now to defend the main trunk of the tree
and not the outer branches. The best Canadians should be
incorporated into and trained in the battalions of regulars. The
militia regiments themselves should be clothed and drilled like
regular soldiers. Interior posts, such as Detroit, should be held
by the smallest possible number of men. This counsel enraged
Vaudreuil. Montcalm, he wrote, was trying to upset everything.
Vaudreuil was certain that the English would not attack Quebec.

There is a melancholy greatness in the last days of Montcalm. He
was fighting against fearful odds. With only about three thousand
trained regulars and perhaps four times as many untrained
Canadians and savages, he was confronting Britain's might on sea
and land which was now thrown against New France. From France
itself Montcalm knew that he had nothing to hope. In the autumn
of 1758 he sent Bougainville to Versailles. That brilliant and
loyal helper managed to elude the vigilance of the British fleet,
reached Versailles, and there spent some months in varied and
resourceful attempts to secure aid for Canada. He saw ministers.
He procured the aid of powerful connections of his own and of his
fellow-officers in Canada. He went to what was at this time the
fountainhead of authority at the French court, and it was not the
King. "The King is nothing," wrote Bougainville, "the Marchioness
is all-powerful--prime minister." Bougainville saw the
Marchioness, Madame de Pompadour, and read to her some of
Montcalm's letters. She showed no surprise and said nothing--her
habit, as Bougainville said. By this time the name of Montcalm
was one to charm with in France. Bougainville wrote to him "I
should have to include all France if I should attempt to give a
list of those who love you and wish to see you Marshal of France.
Even the little children know your name." There had been a time
when the court thought the recall of Montcalm would be wise in
the interests of New France. Now it was Montcalm's day and the
desire to help him was real. France, however, could do little.
Ministers were courteous and sympathetic; but as Berryer,
Minister of Marine, said to Bougainville, with the house on fire
in France, they could not take much thought of the stable in

This Berryer was an inept person. He was blindly ignorant of
naval affairs, coarse, obstinate, a placeman who owed his
position to intrigue and favoritism. His only merit was that he
tried to cut down expenditure, but in regard to the navy this
policy was likely to be fatal. It is useless, said this guardian
of France's marine, to try to rival Britain on the sea, and the
wise thing to do is to save money by not spending it on ships.
Berryer even sold to private persons stores which he had on hand
for the use of the fleet. If the house was on fire he did not
intend, it would seem, that much should be left to burn. The old
Due de Belle-Isle, Minister of War, was of another type, a fine
and efficient soldier. He explained the situation frankly in a
letter to Montcalm. Austria was an exigent ally, and Frederick of
Prussia a dangerous foe. France had to concentrate her strength
in Europe. The British fleet, he admitted, paralyzed efforts
overseas. There was no certainty, or even probability, that
troops and supplies sent from France would ever reach Canada.
France, the Duke said guardedly, was not without resources. She
had a plan to strike a deadly blow against England and, in doing
so, would save Canada without sending overseas a great army. The
plan was nothing less than the invasion of England and Scotland
with a great force, the enterprise which, nearly half a century
later, Napoleon conceived as his master stroke against the proud
maritime state. During that winter and spring France was building
a great number of small boats with which to make a sudden descent
and to land an army in England.

If this plan succeeded, all else would succeed. Montcalm must
just hold on, conduct a defensive campaign and, above all, retain
some part of Canada since, as the Duke said with prophetic
foresight, if the British once held the whole of the country they
would never give it up. Montcalm himself had laid before the
court a plan of his own. He estimated that the British would have
six men to his one. Rather than surrender to them, he would
withdraw to the far interior and take his army by way of the Ohio
to Louisiana. The design was a wild counsel of despair for he
would be cut off from any base of supplies, but it shows the
he was ready to tale. In him now the court had complete
confidence. Vaudreuil was instructed to take no military action
without seeking the counsel of Montcalm. "The King," wrote
Belle-Isle to Montcalm, "relies upon your zeal, your courage and
your resolution." Some little help was sent. The British control
of the sea was not complete; since more than twenty French ships
eluded British vigilance, bringing military stores, food (for
Canada was confronted by famine), four hundred soldiers, and
Bougainville himself, with a list of honors for the leaders in
Canada. Montcalm was given the rank of Lieutenant-General and,
but for a technical difficulty, would have been made a Marshal of

All this reliance upon Montcalm was galling to Vaudreuil. This
weak man was entirely in the hands of a corrupt circle who
recognized in the strength and uprightness of Montcalm their
deadly enemy. An incredible plundering was going on. Its strength
was in the blindness of Vaudreuil. The secretary of Vaudreuil,
Grasset de Saint-Sauveur, an ignorant and greedy man, was a
member of the ring and yet had the entire confidence of the
Governor. The scale of the robberies was enormous. Bigot, the
Intendant, was stealing millions of francs; Cadet, the head of
the supplies department, was stealing even more. They were able
men who knew how to show diligence in their official work. More
than once Montcalm praises the resourcefulness with which Bigot
met his requirements. But it was all done at a fearful cost to
the State. Under assumed names the ring sold to the King, of
whose interests they were the guardians, supplies at a profit of
a hundred or a hundred and fifty per cent. They made vast sums
out of transport. They drew pay for feeding hundreds of men who
were not in the King's service. They received money for great
bills of merchandise never delivered and repeated the process
over and over again. To keep the Indians friendly the King sent
presents of guns, ammunition, and blankets. These were stolen and
sold. Even the bodies of Acadians were sold. They were hired out
for their keep to a contractor who allowed them to die of cold
and hunger. Hundreds of the poor exiles perished. The nemesis of
a despotic system is that, however well-intentioned it may be,
its officials are not controlled by an alert public opinion and
yet must be trusted by their master. France meant well by her
colony but the colony, unlike the English colonies, was not
taught to look after itself. While nearly every one in Canada
understood what was going on, it was another thing to inform
those in control in France. La Porte, the secretary of the
colonial minister, was in the service of the ring. He intercepted
letters which should have made exposures. Until found out, he had
the ear of the minister and echoed the tone of lofty patriotism
which Bigot assumed in his letters to his superiors.

History has made Montcalm one of its heroes--and with justice. He
was a remarkable man, who would have won fame as a scholar had he
not followed the long family tradition of a soldier's career.
Bougainville once said that the highest literary distinction of a
Frenchman, a chair in the Academy, might be within reach of
Montcalm as well as the baton of a Marshal of France. He had a
prodigious memory and had read widely. His letters, written amid
the trying conditions of war, are nervous, direct, pregnant with
meaning, the notes of a penetrating intelligence. He had deep
family affection. "Adieu, my heart, I believe that I love you
more than ever I did before"; these were the last words of what
he did not know was to be his last letter to his wife. In the
midst of a gay scene at Montreal, in the spring of 1759, he
writes to Bourlamaque, then at Lake Champlain, with acute longing
for the south of France in the spring. For six or seven months in
the year he could receive no letters and always the British
command of the sea made their expected arrival uncertain. "When
shall I be again at the Chateau of Candiac, with my plantations,
my oaks, my oil mill, my mulberry trees? O good God." He lays
bare his spirit especially to Bourlamaque, a quiet, efficient,
thoughtful man, like himself, and enjoins him to burn the
letters--which he does not, happily for posterity. Scandal does
not touch him but, like most Frenchmen, he is dependent on the
society of women. He lived in a house on the ramparts of Quebec
and visited constantly the salons of his neighbor in the Rue du
Parloir, the beautiful and witty Madame de la Naudiere. In two or
three other households he was also intimate and the Bishop was a
sympathetic friend. His own tastes were those of the scholar, and
more and more, during the long Canadian winters, he enjoyed
evenings of quiet reading. The elder Mirabeau, father of the
revolutionary leader of 1789, had just published his "Ami des
Hommes " and this we find Montcalm studying. But above all he
reads the great encyclopaedia of Diderot. By 1759 seven of the
huge volumes had been issued. They startled the intellectual
world of the time and Montcalm set out to read them, omitting the
articles which had no interest for him or which he could not
understand. C is a copious letter in an encyclopaedia, and
Montcalm found excellent the articles on Christianity, College,
Comedy, Comet, Commerce, Council, and so on. Wolfe--soon to be
his opponent--had the same taste for letters. The two men, unlike
in body, for Wolfe was tall and Montcalm the opposite, were alike
in spirit, painstaking students as well as men of action.

At first Montcalm had not realized what was the deepest shadow in
the life of Canada. Perhaps chiefly because Vaudreuil was always
at Montreal, Montcalm preferred Quebec and was surprised and
charmed by the life of that city. It had, he said, the air of a
real capital. There were fair women and brave men, sumptuous
dinners with forty or fifty covers, brilliantly lighted salons, a
vivid social life in which he was much courted. The Intendant
Bigot was agreeable and efficient. Soon, however, Montcalm had
misgivings. It was a gambling age, but he was staggered by the
extent of the gambling at the house of the Intendant. He did not
wish to break with Bigot, and there was perhaps some weakness in
his failure to denounce the orgies from which his conscience
revolted. He warned his own officers but he could not control the
colonial officers, and Vaudreuil was too weak to check a man like
Bigot. Whence came the money? In time, Montcalm understood well
enough. He himself was poor. To discharge the duties of his
position he was going into debt, and he had even to consider the
possible selling of his establishment in France. He had to beg
the court for some financial relief. At the same time he saw
about him a wild extravagance. There was famine in Canada. During
the winter of 1758-59 the troops were put on short rations and,
in spite of their bitter protests, had to eat horse flesh.
Suffering and starvation bore heavily on the poor. Through lack
of food people fell fainting in the streets. But the circle of
Bigot paid little heed and feasted, danced, and gambled. Montcalm
pours out his soul to Bourlamaque. He spends, he says, sleepless
nights, and his mind is almost disordered by what he sees. In his
journal he notes his own fight with poverty and its contrast with
the careless luxury of a crowd of worthless hangers-on making
four or five hundred thousand francs a year and insulting decency
by their lavish expenditure. One of the ring, a clerk with a
petty salary, a base creature, spends more on carriages, horses,
and harness than a foppish and reckless young member of the
nouveaux-riches would spend in France. Corruption in Canada is
protected by corruption in France. Montcalm cries out with a
devotion which his sovereign hardly deserved, though it was due
to France herself, "O King, worthy of better service, dear
France, crushed by taxes to enrich greedy knaves!"

The weary winter of 1758-59 at length came to an end. In May the
ships already mentioned arrived from France, bringing
Bougainville and, among other things, the news that Pitt was
sending great forces for a decisive attack on Canada. At that
very moment, indeed, the British ships were entering the mouth of
the St. Lawrence. Canada had already been cut off from France.
Montcalm held many councils with his officers. The strategy
decided upon was to stand at bay at Quebec, to strike the enemy
if he should try to land, and to hold out until the approach of
winter should force the retirement of the British fleet.

CHAPTER X. The Strategy Of Pitt

During four campaigns the British had suffered humiliating
disasters. It is the old story in English history of caste
privilege and deadly routine bringing to the top men inadequate
in the day of trial. It has happened since, even in our own day,
as it has happened so often before. It seems that imminent
disaster alone will arouse the nation to its best military
effort. In 1757, however, England was thoroughly aroused. Failure
then on her own special element, the sea, touched her vitally.
Admiral Byng--through sheer cowardice, as was charged--had failed
to attack a French fleet aiding in the siege of the island of
Minorca which was held by the English, and Minorca had fallen to
the French. Such was the popular clamor at this disaster that
Byng was tried, condemned, and shot. There was also an upheaval
in the government. At no time in English history were men more
eager for the fruits of office; and now, even in a great crisis,
the greed for spoils could not be shaken off. The nation demanded
a conduct of the war which sought efficiency above all else. The
politicians, however, insisted on government favors.

In the end a compromise was reached. At the head of the
government was placed a politician, the Duke of Newcastle, who
loved jobbery and patronage in politics and who doled out offices
to his supporters. At the War Office was placed Pitt with a free
hand to carry on military operations. He was the terrible cornet
of horse who had harried Walpole in the days when that minister
was trying to keep out of war. He knew and even loved war; his
fierce national pride had been stirred to passion by the many
humiliations at the hand of France; and now he was resolved to
organize, to spend, and to fight, until Britain trampled on
France. He had the nation behind him. He bullied and frightened
the House of Commons. Members trembled if Pitt turned on them. By
his fiery energy, by making himself a terror to weakness and
incompetence, he won for Britain the Seven Years' War.

Though Pitt became Secretary of State for War in June, 1757, not
until 1758 did the tide begin to turn in America. But when it did
turn, it flowed with resistless force. In little more than a year
the doom of New France was certain. The first great French
reverse was at a point where the naval and military power of
Britain could unite in attack. Pitt well understood the need of
united action by the two services. Halifax became the radiating
center of British activities. Here, in 1757, before Pitt was well
in the saddle, a fleet and an army gathered to attack Louisbourg-
-an enterprise not carried out that year partly because France
had a great fleet on the spot, and partly, too, on account of the
bad quality of British leadership.

Only in the campaign of 1758 did Pitt's dominance become
effective. With him counted one quality and one alone,
efficiency. The old guard at the War Office were startled when
men with rank, years, influence, and every other claim but
competence for their tasks, were passed over, and young and
obscure men were given high command. To America in the spring of
1758 were sent officers hitherto little known. Edward Boscawen,
Commander of the Fleet, and veteran among these leaders, was a
comparatively young man, only forty-seven; Jeffrey Amherst, just
turned forty, was Commander-in-Chief on land. Next in command to
Amherst was James Wolfe, aged thirty.

These young and vigorous men knew the value of promptness or they
would not have been tolerated under Pitt. Before the end of May,
1758, Boscawen was in Halifax harbor with a fleet of some forty
warships and a multitude of transports. On board were nearly
twelve thousand soldiers, more than eleven thousand of them
British regulars. The colonial forces now play a minor part in
the struggle; Pitt was ready to send from England all the troops
needed. The array at Halifax, the greatest yet seen in America,
numbered about twenty thousand men, including sailors. Before the
first of June the fleet was on its way to Louisbourg. The defense
was stubborn; and James Wolfe, who led the first landing party,
had abundant opportunity to prove his courage and capacity. By
the end of July, however, Louisbourg had fallen, and nearly six
thousand prisoners were in the hands of the English. It was the
beginning of the end.

In the autumn Wolfe was back in England, where he was quickly
given command of the great expedition which was planned against
Quebec for the following year. Admiral Sir Charles Saunders, who
seems almost old compared with Wolfe, for he was nearly fifty,
was in chief command of the fleet. Amherst had remained in
America as Commander-in-Chief, and was taking slow, deliberate,
thorough measures for the last steps in the conquest of New

To be too late had been the usual fate of the many British
expeditions against Canada. No one, however, dared to be late
under Pitt. On February 17, 1759, the greatest fleet that had
ever put out for America left Portsmouth. More than two hundred
and fifty ships set their sails for the long voyage. There were
forty-nine warships, carrying fourteen thousand sailors and
marines, and two hundred other ships manned by perhaps seven
thousand men in the merchant service, but ready to fight if
occasion offered. Altogether nearly thirty thousand men now left
the shores of England to attack Canada.

There is a touch of doom for France in the fact that its own lost
fortress of Louisbourg was to be the rendezvous of the fleet.
Saunders, however, arrived so early that the entrance to
Louisbourg was still blocked with ice, and he went on to Halifax.
In time he returned to Louisbourg, and from there the great fleet
sailed for Quebec. The voyage was uneventful. We can picture the
startled gaze of the Canadian peasants as they saw the stately
array, many miles long, pass up the St. Lawrence. On the 26th of
June, Wolfe and Saunders were in the basin before Quebec and the
great siege had begun which was to mark one of the turning-points
in history.

Nature had furnished a noble setting for the drama now to be
enacted. Quebec stands on a bold semicircular rock on the north
shore of the St. Lawrence. At the foot of the rock sweeps the
mighty river, here at the least breadth in its whole course, but
still a flood nearly a mile wide, deep and strong. Its currents
change ceaselessly with the ebb and flow of the tide which rises
a dozen feet, though the open sea is eight hundred miles away.
Behind the rock of Quebec the small stream of the St. Charles
furnishes a protection on the landward side. Below the fortress,
the great river expands into a broad basin with the outflow
divided by the Island of Orleans. In every direction there are
cliffs and precipices and rising ground. From the north shore of
the great basin the land slopes gradually into a remote blue of
wooded mountains. The assailant of Quebec must land on low ground
commanded everywhere from heights for seven or eight miles on the
east and as many on the west. At both ends of this long front are
further natural defenses--at the east the gorge of the
Montmorency River, at the west that of the Cap Rouge River.

Wolfe's desire was to land his army on the Beauport shore at some
point between Quebec and Montmorency. But Montcalm's fortified
posts, behind which lay his army, stretched along the shore for
six miles, all the way from the Montmorency to the St. Charles.
Wolfe had a great contempt for Montcalm's army--"five feeble
French battalions mixed with undisciplined peasants." If only he
could get to close quarters with the "wily and cautious old fox,"
as he called Montcalm! Already the British had done what the
French had thought impossible. Without pilots they had steered
their ships through treacherous channels in the river and through
the dangerous "Traverse" near Cap Tourmente. Captain Cook,
destined to be a famous navigator, was there to survey and mark
the difficult places, and British skippers laughed at the
forecasts of disaster made by the pilots whom they had captured
on the river. The French were confident that the British would
not dare to take their ships farther up the river past the
cannonade of the guns in Quebec, though this the British
accomplished almost without loss.

Wolfe landed a force upon the lower side of the gorge at
Montmorency and another at the head of the Island of Orleans. He
planted batteries at Point Levis across the river from Quebec,
and from there he battered the city. The pleasant houses in the
Rue du Parloir which Montcalm knew so well were knocked into
rubbish, and its fascinating ladies were driven desolate from the
capital. But this bombardment brought Wolfe no nearer his goal.
On the 31st of July he made a frontal attack on the flats at
Beauport and failed disastrously with a loss of four hundred men.
Time was fighting for Montcalm.

By the 1st of September Wolfe's one hope was in a surprise by
which he could land an army above Quebec, the nearer to the
fortress the better. Its feeble walls on the landward side could
not hold out against artillery. But Bougainville guarded the high
shore and marched his men incessantly up and down to meet
threatened attacks. On the heights, the battalion of Guienne was
encamped on the Plains of Abraham to guard the Foulon. This was a
cove on the river bank from which there was a path, much used by
the French for dragging up provisions, leading to the top of the
cliff at a point little more than a mile from the walls of the
city. On the 6th of September the battalion of Guienne was sent
back to the Beauport lines by order of Vaudreuil. Montcalm
countermanded the order, but was not obeyed, and Wolfe saw his
chance. For days he threatened a landing, above and below Quebec,
now at one point, now at another, until the French were both
mystified and worn out with incessant alarms. Then, early on the
morning of the 13th of September, came Wolfe's master-stroke. His
men embarked in boats from the warships lying some miles above
Quebec, dropped silently down the river, close to the north
shore, made sentries believe that they were French boats carrying
provisions to the Foulon, landed at the appointed spot, climbed
up the cliff, and overpowered the sleeping guard. A little after
daylight Wolfe had nearly five thousand soldiers, a "thin red
line," busy preparing a strong position on the Plains of Abraham,
while the fleet was landing cannon, to be dragged up the steep
hill to bombard the fortress on its weakest side.

Montcalm had spent many anxious days. He had been incessantly on
the move, examining for himself over and over again every point,
Cap Rouge, Beauport, Montmorency, reviewing the militia of which
he felt uncertain, inspecting the artillery, the commissariat,
everything that mattered. At three o'clock in the morning of one
of these days he wrote to Bourlamaque, at Lake Champlain, noting
the dark night, the rain, his men awake and dressed in their
tents, everyone alert. "I am booted and my horses are saddled,
which is in truth my usual way of spending the night. I have not
undressed since the twenty-third of June." On the evening of the
12th of September the batteries at Point Levis kept up a furious
fire on Quebec. There was much activity on board the British
war-ships lying below the town. Boats filled with men rowed
towards Beauport as if to attempt a landing during the night.
Here the danger seemed to lie. At midnight the British boats were
still hovering off the shore. The French troops manned the
entrenched lines and Montcalm was continually anxious. A heavy
convoy of provisions was to come down to the Foulon that night,
and orders had been given to the French posts on the north shore
above Quebec to make no noise. The arrival of the convoy was
vital, for the army was pressed for food. Montcalm was therefore
anxious for its fate when at break of day he heard firing from
the French cannon at Samos, above Quebec. Had the provisions then
been taken by the English? Near his camp all now seemed quiet. He
gave orders for the troops to rest, drank some cups of tea with
his aide-de-camp Johnstone, a Scotch Jacobite, and at about
half-past six rode towards Quebec to the camp of Vaudreuil to
learn why the artillery was firing at Samos. Immediately in front
of the Governor's house he learned the momentous news. The
English were on the Plains of Abraham. Soon he had the evidence
of his own eyes. On the distant heights across the valley he
could see the redcoats.

No doubt Montcalm had often pondered this possibility and had
decided in such a case to attack at once before the enemy could
entrench and bring up cannon. A rapid decision was now followed
by rapid action. He had a moment's conversation with Vaudreuil.
The French regiments on the right at Vaudreuil's camp, lying
nearest to the city, were to march at once. To Johnstone he said,
"The affair is serious," and then gave orders that all the French
left, except a few men to guard the ravine at Montmorency, should
follow quickly to the position between Quebec and the enemy, a
mile away. Off to this point he himself galloped. Already, by
orders of officers on the spot, regiments were gathering between
the walls of the city and the British. The regiments on the
French right at Beauport were soon on the move towards the
battlefield, but two thousand of the best troops still lay
inactive beyond Beauport. Johnstone declares that Vaudreuil
countermanded the order of Montcalm for these troops to come to
his support and ordered that not one of them should budge. There
was haste everywhere. By half-past nine Montcalm had some four
thousand men drawn up between the British and the walls of
Quebec. He hoped that Bougainville, advancing from Cap Rouge,
would be able to assail the British rear: "Surely Bougainville
understands that I must attack."

The crisis was, over in fifteen minutes. Montcalm attacked at
once. His line was disorderly. His center was composed of regular
troops, his wings of Canadians and Indians. These fired
irregularly and lay down to reload, thus causing confusion. The
French moved forward rapidly; the British were coming on more
slowly. The French were only some forty yards away when there was
an answering fire from the thin red line; for Wolfe had ordered
his men to put two balls in their muskets and to hold their fire
for one dread volley. Then the roar from Wolfe's center was like
that of a burst of artillery; and, when the smoke cleared, the
French battalions were seen breaking in disorder from the shock,
the front line cut down by the terrible fire. A bayonet charge
from the redcoats followed. Some five thousand trained British
regulars bore down, working great slaughter on four thousand
French, many of them colonials who had never before fought in the
open. The rout of the French was complete. Some fled to safety
behind the walls of Quebec, others down the Cote Ste. Genevieve
and across the St. Charles River, where they stopped pursuit by
cutting the bridge. Both Wolfe and Montcalm were mortally wounded
after the issue of the day was really decided, and both survived
to be certain, the one of victory, the other of defeat. Wolfe
died on the field of battle. Montcalm was taken into a house in
Quebec and died early the next morning. It is perhaps the only
incident in history of a decisive battle of world import followed
by the death of both leaders, each made immortal by the tragedy
of their common fate.

At two o'clock in the afternoon of the day of defeat, Vaudreuil
held a tumultuous council of war. It was decided to abandon
Quebec, where Montcalm lay dying and to retreat up the St.
Lawrence to Montreal, to the defense of which Levis had been sent
before the fight. That night the whole French army fled in panic,
leaving their tents standing and abandoning quantities of stores.
Vaudreuil who had talked so bravely about death in the ruins of
Canada, rather than surrender, gave orders to Ramezay, commanding
in Quebec, to make terms and haul down his flag. On the third day
after the battle, the surrender was arranged. On the fourth day
the British marched into Quebec, where ever since their flag has

Meanwhile, Amherst, the Commander-in-Chief of the British armies
in America, was making a toilsome advance towards Montreal by way
of Lake Champlain. He had occupied both Ticonderoga and Crown
Point, which had been abandoned by the French. Across his path
lay Bourlamaque at Isle aux Noix. Another British army, having
captured Niagara, was advancing on Montreal down the St. Lawrence
from Lake Ontario. Amherst, however, made little progress this
year in his menace to Montreal and soon went into winter
quarters, as did the other forces elsewhere. The British victory
therefore was as yet incomplete.

The year 1759 proved dire for France. She was held fast by her
treaty with Austria and at ruinous cost was ever sending more and
more troops to help Austria against Prussia. The great plan of
which Belle-Isle had written to Montcalm was the chief hope of
her policy. England was to be invaded and London occupied. If
this were done, all else would be right. It was not done. France
could not parry Pitt's blows. In Africa, in the West Indies, in
India, the British won successes which meant the ruin of French
power in three continents. French admirals like Conflans and La
Clue were no match for Boscawen, Hawke, and Rodney, all seamen of
the first rank, and made the stronger because dominated by the
fiery Pitt.

They kept the French squadrons shut up in their own ports. When,
at last, on November 20, 1759, Conflans came out of Brest and
fought Hawke at Quiberon Bay, the French fleet was nearly
destroyed, and the dream of taking London ended in complete

CHAPTER XI. The Fall Of Canada

Though Quebec was in their hands, the position of the British
during the winter of 1759-60 was dangerous. In October General
Murray, who was left in command, saw with misgiving the great
fleet sail away which had brought to Canada the conquering force
of Wolfe and Saunders. Murray was left with some seven thousand
men in the heart of a hostile country, and with a resourceful
enemy, still unconquered, preparing to attack him. He was
separated from other British forces by vast wastes of forest and
river, and until spring should come no fleet could aid him. Three
enemies of the English, the French said exultingly, would aid to
retake Quebec: the ruthless savages who haunted the outskirts of
the fortress and massacred many an incautious straggler; the
French army which could be recruited from the Canadian
population; and, above all, the bitter cold of the Canadian
winter. To Murray, as to Napoleon long afterward in his rash
invasion of Russia, General February was indeed the enemy. About
the two or three British ships left at Quebec the ice froze in
places a dozen feet thick, and snowdrifts were piled so high
against the walls of Quebec that it looked sometimes as if the
enemy might walk over them into the fortress. So solidly frozen
was the surface of the river that Murray sent cannon to the south
shore across the ice to repel a menace from that quarter. There
was scarcity of firewood and of provisions. Scurvy broke out in
the garrison. Many hundreds died so that by the spring Murray had
barely three thousand men fit for active duty.

Throughout the winter Levis, now in command of the French forces,
made increasing preparations to destroy Murray in the spring. The
headquarters of Uvis were at Montreal. Here Vaudreuil, the
Governor, kept his little court. He and Levis worked
harmoniously, for Uvis was conciliatory and tactful. For a time
Vaudreuil treasured the thought of taking command in person to
attack Quebec. In the end, however, he showed that he had learned
something from the disasters of the previous year and did not
interfere with the plans made by Levis. So throughout the winter
Montreal had its gayeties and vanities as of old. There were
feasts and dances--but over all brooded the reality of famine in
the present and--the foreboding of disaster to come.

By April 20, 1760, the St. Lawrence was open and, though the
shores were cumbered with masses of broken ice, the central
channel was free for the boats which Levis filled with his
soldiers. It was a bleak experience to descend the turbulent
river between banks clogged with ice. When Levis was not far from
Quebec, he learned that it was impossible to surprise Murray who
was well on guard between Cap Rouge on the west and Beauport on
the east. The one thing to do was to reach the Plains of Abraham
in order to attack the feeble walls of Quebec from the landward
side. Since Murray's alertness made impossible attack by way of
the high cliffs which Wolfe had climbed in the night, Levis had
to reach Quebec by a circuitous route. He landed his army a
little above Cap Rouge, marched inland over terrible roads in
heavy rain, and climbed to the plateau of Quebec from the rear at
Sainte Foy. On April 27, 1760, he drew up his army on the heights
almost exactly as Wolfe had done in the previous September.
Murray followed the example of Montcalm. He had no trust in the
feeble defenses of Quebec and on the 28th marched out to fight on
the open plain. The battle of Sainte Foy followed exactly the
precedents of the previous year. The defenders of Quebec were
driven off the field in overwhelming defeat. The difference was
that Murray took his army back to Quebec and from behind its
walls still defied his French assailant. Levis had poor
artillery, but he did what he could. He entrenched and poured his
fire into Quebec. In the end it was sea power which balked him.
On the 15th of May, when a British fleet appeared round the head
of the Island of Orleans, Levis withdrew in something like panic
and Quebec was safe.

Levis returned to Montreal; and to this point all the forces of
France slowly retreated as they were pressed in by the
overwhelming numbers of the British. At Oswego, the scene of
Montcalm's first brilliant success four years earlier, Amherst
had gathered during the summer of 1760 an army of about ten
thousand men. From here he descended the St. Lawrence in boats to
attack Montreal from the west. From the south, down Lake
Champlain and the Richelieu River to the St. Lawrence, came
another British force under Haviland also to attack Montreal. At
Quebec Murray put his army on transports, left the city almost
destitute of defense, and thus brought a third considerable force
against Montreal. There was little fighting. The French withdrew
to the common objective as their enemy advanced. Early in
September Levis had gathered at Montreal all his available force,
amounting now to scarcely more than two thousand men, for
Canadians and Indians alike had deserted him. The British pressed
in with the slow and inevitable rigor of a force of nature. On
the 7th of September their united army was before the town and
Amherst demanded instant surrender. The only thing for Vaudreuil
to do was to make the best terms possible. On the next day he
signed a capitulation which protected the liberties in property
and religion of the Canadians but which yielded the whole of
Canada to Great Britain. The struggle for North America had

In the moment of triumph Amherst inflicted on the French army a
deep humiliation to punish the outrages committed by their Indian
allies. In the early days of the war Loudoun, the
Commander-in-Chief in America, had vowed that the British would
make the French "sick of such inhuman villainy" and teach them to
respect "the laws of nature and humanity." Washington speaks of
his "deadly sorrow" at the dreadful outrages which he saw, the
ravishing of women, the scalping alive even of children.
Philadelphians had seen the grim spectacle of a wagon-load of
corpses brought by mourning friends and relatives of the dead and
laid down at the door of the Assembly to show to pacifist
legislators what was really happening. The French regular
officers, as we have seen, had hated this kind of warfare
Bougainville says that his soul shuddered at the sights in
Montreal, where the whole town turned out to see an English
prisoner killed, boiled, and eaten by the savages. Worse still,
captive mothers were obliged to eat the flesh of their own
children. The French believed that they could not get on without
the savage allies who committed these outrages, and they were not
strong enough to coerce them. Amherst, on the other hand, held
his Indians in check and rebuked outrage. Now he was stern to
punish what the French had permitted. He could write proudly to a
friend that the French were amazed at the order in which he kept
his own Indians. Not a man, woman, or child, he said, had been
hurt or a single atrocity committed. It was a vivid contrast with
what had taken place after the British surrender to Montcalm at
Fort William Henry. The day of retribution had come. Because of
such outrages, the French army was denied the honors of war
usually conceded to a brave and defeated foe. The French officers
and men must not, Amherst insisted, serve again during the war.
Levis protested and begged Vaudreuil to be allowed to go on
fighting rather than accept the terms, but in vain. The
humiliation was rigorously imposed, and it was a sullen host
which the British took captive.

France had lost an Empire. It was nearly three years still before
peace was signed at Paris in 1763. To Britain France yielded
everything east of the Mississippi except New Orleans, and to
Spain she ceded New Orleans and everything else to which she had
any claim. The fleurs-de-lis floated still over only two tiny
fishing islands off the Newfoundland shore. All the glowing plans
of France's leaders--of Richelieu, of Louis XIV, of Colbert, of
Frontenac, of the heroic missionaries of the Jesuit Order--seemed
to have come to nothing.

The fall of France did much to drag down her rival. Already was
America restless under control from Europe. There was now no
danger to the English in America from the French peril which had
made insecure the borders of Massachusetts, of New York, of
Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and had brought widespread desolation
and sorrow. With the removal of the menace went the need of help
and defenses for the colonies from the motherland. The French
belief that there was a natural antipathy between the English of
the Old World and the English of the New was, in reality, based
on the fact of a likeness so great that neither would accept
control or patronage from the other. Towards the Englishman who
assumed airs of superiority the antagonism of the colonists was
always certain to be acute. Open strife came when the assumption
of superiority took the form of levying taxes on the colonies
without asking their leave. In no remote way the fall of French
Canada, by removing a near menace to the English colonies, led to
this new conflict and to the collapse of that older British
Empire which had sprung from the England of the Stuarts.

When Montreal fell there were in the St. Lawrence many British
ships which had been used for troops and supplies. Before the end
of September the French soldiers and also the officials from
France who desired to go home were on board these ships bound for
Europe. By the end of November most of the exiles had reached
home. Varying receptions awaited them. Levis, who took back the
army, was soon again, by consent of the British government, in
active service. Fortune smiled on him to the end. He died a great
noble and Marshal of France just before the Revolution of 1789;
but in that awful upheaval his widow and his two daughters
perished on the scaffold. Vaudreuil's shallow and vain
incompetence did not go unpunished. He was put on trial, accused
of a share in the black frauds which had helped to ruin Canada.
The trial was his punishment. He was acquitted of taking any
share of the plunder and so drops out of history. Bigot and his
gang, on the other hand, were found guilty of vast depredations.
The former Intendant was for a time in the Bastille and in the
end was banished from France, after being forced to repay great
sums. We find echoes of the luxury of Quebec in the sale in
France of the rich plate which the rascal had acquired. There
were, however, other and even worse plunderers. They were tried
and condemned chiefly to return what they had stolen. We rather
wonder that no expiatory sacrifice on the scaffold was required
of any of these knaves. Lally Tollendal, who, as the French
leader in India, had only failed and not plundered, was sent to a
cruel execution.

Under the terms of the surrender and of the final Treaty of Peace
in 1763, civilians in Canada were given leave to return to
France. Nearly the whole of the official class and many of the
large landowners, the seigneurs, left the country. In Canada
there remained a priesthood, largely native, but soon to be
recruited from France by the upheaval of the Revolution, a few
seigneurial families, natural leaders of their race, a peasantry,
exhausted by the long war but clinging tenaciously to the soil,
and a good many hardy pioneers of the forest, men skilled in
hunting and in the use of the axe. Out of these elements,
amounting in 1763 to little more than sixty thousand people, has
come that French-Canadian race in America now numbering perhaps
three millions. The race has scattered far. It is found in the
mills of Massachusetts, in the canebrakes of Louisiana, on the
wide stretches of the prairie of the Canadian West, but it has
always kept intact its strong citadel on the banks of the St.
Lawrence. New France was, in reality, widely separated in spirit
from old France, before the new master in Canada made the
division permanent. The imagination of the Canadian peasant did
not wander across the ocean to France. He knew only the scenes
about his own hearth and in them alone were his thought and
affections centered.

The one wider interest which the habitant treasured was love for
the Catholic Church of his fathers and of his own spiritual
hopes. It thus happened that when France in revolution assailed
and for a time overthrew the Church within her borders, the heart
of French Canada was not with France but with the persecuted
Church; she hated the spirit of revolutionary France. Te Deums
were sung at Quebec in thanksgiving for the defeats of Napoleon.
In language and what literary culture they possessed, in
traditions and tastes, the conquered people remained French, but
they had no allegiance divided between Canada and France. To this
day they are proud to be simply Canadians, rooted in the soil of
Canada, with no debt of patriotic gratitude to the France from
which they sprang or to the Britain which obtained political
dominance over their ancestors after a long agony of war. To the
British Crown many of them feel a certain attachment because of
the liberty guaranteed to them to pursue their own ideals of
happiness. In preserving their type of social life, their faith
and language, they have shown a resolute tenacity. To this day
they are as different in these things from their fellow-citizens
of British origin in the rest of Canada as were their ancestors
from the English colonies which lay on their borders.

The French in Canada are still a separate people. From time to
time a nervous fear seizes them lest too many of their race may
be lost to their old ideals in the Anglo-Saxon world surging
about them. Then they listen readily to appeals to their racial
unity and draw more sharply than ever the lines of division
between themselves and the rest of North America. They remain a
fragment of an older France, remote and isolated, still dreaming
dreams like those of Frontenac of old of the dominance of their
race in North America and asserting passionately their rights in
the soil of Canada to which, first of Europeans, they came. At
the mouth of the Mississippi in the Louisiana founded by Louis
XIV, along the St. Lawrence in the Canada of Champlain and
Frontenac, with a resolution more than half pathetic, and in a
world that gives little heed, men of French race are still on
guard to preserve in America the lineaments of that older France,
long since decayed in Europe, which was above all the eldest
daughter of the Church.


While the present narrative is based for the most part on more
recondite and widely scattered sources, the most accessible
volumes relating to the period are the following works of Francis
Parkman (Boston: many editions): "La Salle and the Discovery of
the Great West, Frontenac and New France under Louis XIV, A Half
Century of Conflict" (2 vols.), and "Montcalm and Wolfe" (2
vols.). To these should be added, as completing the story, George
M. Wrong, "The Fall of Canada" (Oxford, 1914) which dwells in
detail on the last year of the struggle. All these volumes
contain adequate references to authorities. The last of Parkman's
works was published more than twenty-five years ago and later
research has revised some of his conclusions, but he still
commands great authority. In "The Chronicles of Canada" (Toronto,
191316) half a dozen volumes relate to the period; each of these
volumes, which embody later research and are written in an
attractive style, contains a bibliography relating to its special
subject: C.W. Colby, "The Fighting Governor" [Frontenac]; Agnes
C. Laut, "The Adventurers of England on Hudson Bay"; Lawrence J.
Burpee, "The Pathfinders of the Great Plains"; Arthur G. Doughty,
"The Acadian Exiles"; William Wood, "The Great Fortress"
[Louisbourg], "The Passing of New France", and "The Winning of
Canada." Lawrence J. Burpee's "Search for the Western Sea"
(Toronto, 1908) deals with the work of La Verendrye and other
explorers. Anthony Hendry's "Journal" is published in the
"Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada," series iii, volume
i. The latest phase of the discussions on La Verendrye are
reviewed in an article by Doane Robinson in "The Mississippi
Valley Historical Review" for December, 1916. The material
relating to the discoverer was long scattered, but it has now
been collected in a volume, edited by Lawrence J. Burpee for the
Champlain Society, Toronto, but owing to the war it is at the
present date (1918) still in manuscript. Much of what is
contained in Mr. Burpee's volume will be found in "South Dakota
Historical Collections," volume vii, 1914 (Pierre, S.D.).

Additional references are given in the bibliographies appended to
the articles on "Chatham, Seven Years' War," and "Nova Scotia" in
"The Encyclopaedia Britannica," 11th Edition.


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