The Passing of New France
William Wood

Part 2 out of 2

stakes and you get the word!'

At the edge of the trees the British officers were also
reminding their men about the orders. 'Remember: no firing
at all; nothing but the bayonet; and follow the officers
in!' QUICK-MARCH! and the four dense columns came out of
the wood, drew clear of it altogether, and advanced with
steady tramp, their muskets at the shoulder and their
bayonets gleaming with a deadly sheen under the fierce,
hot, noonday sun. On they came, four magnificent
processions, full of the pride of arms and the firm hope
of glorious victory. Three of them were uniform masses
of ordinary redcoats. But the fourth, making straight
for Montcalm himself, was half grenadiers, huge men with
high-pointed hats, and half Highlanders, with swinging
kilts and dancing plumes. The march was a short one; but
it seemed long, for at every step the suspense became
greater and greater. At last the leading officers suddenly
waved their swords, the bugles rang out the CHARGE! and
then, as if the four eager columns had been slipped from
one single leash together, they dashed at the trees with
an exultant roar that echoed round the hills like thunder.

Montcalm gripped his sword, and every French finger
tightened on the trigger. His colonels watched him eagerly.
Up went his sword and up went theirs. READY!--PRESENT!
--FIRE!! and a terrific, double-shotted, point-blank
volley crashed out of that zigzag wall and simply swept
away the heads of the charging columns. But the men in
front were no sooner mown down than the next behind them
swarmed forward. Again the French fired, again the leading
British fell, and again more British rushed forward. The
British sharp-shooters now spread out in swarms on the
flanks of the columns and fired back, as did the first
ranks of the columns themselves. But they had much the
worse of this kind of fighting. Again the columns surged
forward, broke up as they reached the trees, and were
shot down as they struggled madly among the sharpened

Montcalm had given orders that each man was to fire for
himself, whenever he could get a good shot at an enemy;
and that the officers were only to look after the powder
and shot, see that none was wasted, and keep their men
steady in line. His own work was to watch the whole fight
and send parties of grenadiers from his reserve to any
point where the enemy seemed likely to break in. But the
defence weakened only in a single place, where the regiment
of Berry, which had a good many recruits, wavered and
began to sway back from its loopholes. Its officers,
however, were among their men in a moment, and had put
them into their places again before the grenadiers whom
Montcalm sent running down could reach them.

Again and again the British sharpshooters repeated their
fire; again and again the heads of the columns were
renewed by the men behind, as those in front were mown
down by the French. At last, but slowly, sullenly, and
turning to have shot after shot at that stubborn defence
of Montcalm's, the redcoats gave way and retreated,
leaving hundreds of killed and wounded behind them.
Montcalm was sure now that all was going well. He had
kept several officers moving about the line, and their
reports were all of the same kind--'men steady, firing
well, no waste of ammunition, not many killed and wounded,
all able to hold their own.' Here and there a cartridge
or grenade had set the wooden walls alight. But men were
ready with water; and even when the flames caught on the
side towards the enemy there was no lack of volunteers
to jump down and put them out. The fort, half a mile in
rear and overlooking the whole scene, did good work with
its guns. Once it stopped an attack on the extreme left
by a flotilla of barges which came out of the mouth of
the river running through the four-mile valley between
the lakes. Two barges were sent to the bottom. Several
others were well peppered by the French reserves, who
ran down to the bank of the river; and the rest turned
round and rowed back as hard as they could.

In all this heat of action Vaudreuil was not forgotten;
but he would not have felt flattered by what the soldiers
said. All knew how slow he had been about sending the
Canadians, 3,000 of whom were already long overdue. 'Bah!'
they said during the first lull in the battle; 'the
governor has sold the colony; but we won't let him deliver
the goods! God save the King and Montcalm!'

This first lull was not for long. On came the four red
columns again, just as stubborn as before. Again they
charged. Again they split up in front as they reached
the fatal trees. Again they were shot down. Again rank
after rank replaced the one that fell before it. Again
the sharpshooters stood up to that death-dealing loopholed
wall. And again the British retired slowly and sullenly,
leaving behind them four larger heaps of killed and

A strange mistake occurred on both sides. Whenever the
French soldiers shouted 'God save the King and Montcalm,'
the ensigns carrying the colours of the regiment of
Guienne waved them high in the air. The flags were almost
white, and some of the British mistook them for a sign
of surrender. Calling out 'Quarter, Quarter!' the redcoats
held their muskets above their heads and ran in towards
the wall. The French then thought it was the British who
wished to surrender, and called out 'Ground Arms!' But
Pouchot, the officer who had marched night and day from
the Mohawk valley to join Montcalm, seeing what he thought
a serious danger that the British would break through,
called out 'Fire!' and his men, most of them leaning over
the top of the wall, poured in a volley that cut down
more than a hundred of the British.

The Canadians in the separate trench on the low ground,
at the extreme right, were not closely engaged at all.
They and the American rangers took pot-shots at each
other without doing much harm on either side. In the
middle of the battle the Canadians were joined by 250
of their friends, just come in from Lake Champlain. But
even with this reinforcement they made only a very feeble
attack on the exposed left flank of the British column
nearest to them on the higher ground, in spite of the
fact that this column was engaged in a keen fight with
the French in its front, and was getting much the worse
of it. When Levis sent two French officers down to lead
an attack on the British column the Canadian officers
joined it at once. But the mass of the men hung back.
They were raiders and bush-fighters. They had no bayonets.
Above all, they did not intend to come to close quarters if
they could help it. Ticonderoga was no attack by men from
the British colonies and no French-Canadian defence and
victory. It was a stand-up fight between the French and the
British regulars, who settled it between themselves alone.

About five o'clock the two left columns of the British
joined forces to make a supreme effort. They were led by
the Highlanders, who charged with the utmost fury, while
the two right columns made an equally brave attack
elsewhere. The front ranks were shot down as before. But
the men in rear rushed forward so fast--every fallen man
seeming to make ten more spring over his body--that
Montcalm was alarmed, and himself pressed down at the
head of his grenadiers to the point where the fight was
hottest. At the same time Levis, finding his own front
clear of the old fourth column, brought over the regiment
of La Reine and posted it in rear of the men who most
needed its support. These two reinforcements turned the
scale of victory, and the charge failed.

Abercromby, unlike Montcalm, never exposed himself on
the field at all. But, for the second time, he sent word
that the trenches must be taken with the bayonet. The
response was another attack. But the men were tired out
by the sweltering heat and a whole afternoon of desperate
fighting. They advanced, fired, had their front ranks
shot down again; and once more retired in sullen silence.
The last British attack had failed. Their sharp-shooters
and the American rangers covered the retreat. Montcalm
had won the day, the most glorious that French arms had
seen in the whole of their long American career.

The British had lost 2,000 men, nearly all regulars. But
they still had 4,000 regulars left, more than Montcalm's
entire command could muster now. He went into action with
3,500 French regulars, 150 Canadian regulars, 250 Canadian
militia, and 15 Indians: a total of 3,915. At four o'clock
250 more Canadians arrived. But as his loss was 400 killed
and wounded, nearly all French regulars, he had not 4,000
fit for action, of all kinds together, at any one time;
and he ended the day with only 3,765. On the other hand,
Abercromby still had nearly all his 9,000 militia, besides
500 Indians; who, though worthless in the battle, were
dangerous in the bush. Under these conditions it would
have been sheer madness for Montcalm to have followed
the British into their own country, especially as he
lacked food almost more than he lacked men.

The losses of the different kinds of troops on both sides
show us by whom most of the fighting was done. The Indians
had no losses, either from among the 15 French or the
500 British. The Canadians and the American militia each
lost about one man in every twenty-seven. The French
regulars, fighting behind entrenchments and under a really
great general; lost in proportion about three times as
many as these others did, or one man in every nine. The
British regulars, fighting in the open against entrenchments
and under a blundering commander, lost nearly one man in
every three.

Abercromby, having been pig-headed in his advance, now
became chicken-hearted in his retreat. He was in no
danger. Yet he ran like a hare. Had it not been for his
steady regulars and some old hands among the rangers his
return would have become a perfect rout. Pitt soon got
rid of him; and he retired into private life with the
well-earned nickname of 'Mrs. Nabby-Cromby.'

Montcalm was a devout man. He felt that the issue of the
day had been the result of an appeal to the God of Battles;
and he set up a cross on the ground he had won, with a
Latin inscription that shows both his modesty and his

'Quid dux? Quid miles?
Quid strata ingentia ligna?
En signum! En victor! Deus hic,
Deus ipse, triumphat!'

'General, soldier, and
ramparts are as naught!
Behold the conquering Cross!
'Tis God the triumph wrought!'

But the glorious joy of victory did not last long.
Vaudreuil claimed most of the credit for himself and the
Canadians. He wrote lying dispatches to France and
senseless orders to Montcalm. Now that reinforcements
were worse than useless, because they ate up the food
and could not attack the enemy, he kept on sending them
every day. Montcalm was stung to the quick by the letters
he received. After getting three foolish orders to march
into the British colonies he wrote back sharply: 'I think
it very strange that you find yourself, at a distance of
a hundred and fifty miles, so well able to make war in
a country you have never seen!' Nor was this all. Vaudreuil
had also sent Indians, of course after the need for them
had passed. They were idle and a perfect nuisance to the
French. They began stealing the hospital stores and all
the strong drink they could lay hands on. Montcalm checked
them sharply. Then they complained to Vaudreuil, and
Vaudreuil reproached Montcalm.

It was the same wretched story over and over again: the
owls and foxes in the rear thwarting, spiting and robbing
the lions at the front. Montcalm was more sick at heart
than ever. He saw that anything he could say or do was
of little use; and he again asked to be recalled. But he
soon heard news which made him change his mind, no matter
what the cost to his feelings. The east and the west had
both fallen into British hands. Louisbourg and the Ohio
were taken. Only Canada itself remained; and, even now,
Pitt was planning to send against it overpowering forces
both by sea and land. Montcalm would not, could not,
leave the ruined colony he had fought for so long against
such fearful odds. In the desperate hope of saving it
from impending doom, he decided to stay to the end.



Having decided to stay in Canada Montcalm did all he
could to come to terms with Vaudreuil, so that the French
might meet with a united front the terrible dangers of
the next campaign. He spoke straight out in a letter
written to Vaudreuil on August 2, less than a month after
his victory at Ticonderoga: 'I think the real trouble
lies with the people who compose your letters, and with
the mischief-makers who are trying to set you against
me. You may be sure that none of the things which are
being done against me will ever lessen my zeal for the
good of the country or my respect towards you, the
governor. Why not change your secretary's style? Why not
give me more of your confidence? I take the liberty of
saying that the king's service would gain by it, and we
should no longer appear so disunited that even the British
know all about it. I enclose a newspaper printed in New
York which mentions it. False reports are made to you.
Efforts are made to embitter you against me. I think you
need not suspect my military conduct, when I am really
doing all I can. After my three years of command under
your orders what need is there for your secretary to tell
me about the smallest trifles and give me petty orders
that I should myself blush to give to a junior captain?'

When Montcalm wrote this he had not yet heard the bad
news from Louisbourg and the Ohio, and he was still
anxious to be recalled to France. Vaudreuil, of course,
was delighted at the prospect of getting rid of him: 'I
beseech you,' he wrote home to France, 'to ask the king
to recall the Marquis of Montcalm. He desires it himself.
The king has confided Canada to my own care, and I cannot
help thinking that it would be a very bad thing for the
marquis to remain here any longer!' There spoke the owl.
And here the lion, when the bad news came: 'I had asked
for my recall after Ticonderoga. But since the affairs
of Canada are getting worse, it is my duty to help in
setting them right again, or at least to stave off ruin
so long as I can.'

Vaudreuil and Montcalm met and talked matters over. Even
the governor began to see that the end was near, unless
France should send out help in the spring of 1759. He
was so scared at the idea of losing his governorship in
such an event that he actually agreed with Montcalm to
send two honest and capable men to France to tell the
king and his ministers the truth. Two officers, Bougainville
and Doreil, were chosen. They sailed in November with
letters from both Montcalm and Vaudreuil. Nothing could
have been better or truer than the letters Vaudreuil gave
them to present at court. 'Colonel Bougainville is, in
all respects, better fitted than anybody else to inform
you of the state of the colony. I have given him my
orders, and you can trust entirely in everything he tells
you.' 'M. Doreil, the commissary of war, may be entirely
trusted. Everybody likes him here.' But, by the same
ship, the same Vaudreuil wrote a secret letter against
these officers and against Montcalm. 'In order to condescend
to the Marquis of Montcalm and do all I can to keep on
good terms with him I have given letters to Colonel
Bougainville and M. Doreil. But I must tell you that they
do not really know Canada well, and I warn you that they
are nothing but creatures of the Marquis of Montcalm.'

The winter of 1758-59 was like the two before it, only
very much worse. The three might be described, in so many
words, as bad, worse, and worst of all. Doreil had seen
the stores and provisions of the army plundered by the
Bigot gang, the soldiers half starved, the supposed
presents for the Indians sold to them at the highest
possible price, and the forts badly built of bad materials
by bad engineers, who made a Bigot-gang profit out of
their work. A report was also going home from a French
inspector who had been sent out to see why the cost of
government had been rising by leaps and bounds. Things
were cheap in those days, and money was scarce and went
a long way. When this was the case the whole public
expense of Canada for a year should not have been more
than one million dollars. But in Montcalm's first year
it had already passed two millions. In his second it had
passed four. And now, in his third, it was getting very
near to eight.

Where did the money go? Just where all public money always
goes when parasites govern a country. The inspector found
out that many items of cost for supplies to the different
posts had a cipher added to them. The officials told him
why: 'We have to do it because the price of living has
gone up ten times over.' But how did such an increase
come about? The goods were sold from favourite to favourite,
each man getting his wholly illegal profit, till the
limit was reached beyond which Bigot thought it would
not be safe to go. By means of false accounts, by lying
reports and by the aid of accomplices in France who
stopped letters from Montcalm and other honest men, the
game went on for two years. Now it was found out. But
the gang was still too strong in Canada to be broken up.
In France it was growing weak. Another couple of years
and all its members would have been turned out by the
home government. They knew this; and, seeing that their
end was coming in one way or another, they thought a
British conquest could not be much worse than a French
prison; indeed, it might be better, for a complete and
general ruin might destroy proof of their own guilt. The
lions would die fighting--and a good thing too! But the
owls and foxes might escape with the spoils. 'What a
country, where knaves grow rich and honest men are ruined!'

Montcalm wrote home to his family by every ship. He might
not have long to do so. Just after Ticonderoga he wrote
to his wife: 'Thank God! it is all over now until the
beginning of May. We shall have desperate work in the
next campaign. The enemy will have 50,000 men in the
field, all together; and we, how many? I dare not tell
it. Adieu, my heart, I long for peace and you. When shall
I see my Candiac again?' On November 21, 1758, the last
ship left for France. He wrote to his old mother, to whom
he had always told the story of his wars, from the time
when, thirty-one years before, as a stripling of fifteen,
he had joined his father's regiment in the very year that
Wolfe was born: 'You will be glad to hear from me up to
the last moment and know, for the hundredth time, that
I am always thinking of you all at home, in spite of the
fate of New France and my duty with the army and the
state. We did our best these last three years; and so,
God helping us, we shall in 1759--unless you can make a
peace for us in Europe.'

The wretched winter dragged on. The French were on half
rations, the Canadians worse off still. In January Montcalm
wrote in his diary: 'terrible distress round Quebec.'
Then, the same day: 'balls, amusements, picnics, and
tremendous gambling.' Another entry: 'in spite of the
distress and impending ruin of the colony pleasure parties
are going on the whole time.' He himself had only plain
fare--horse-flesh and the soldier's half ration of
bread--on his table. No wonder the vampires hated him!

May came; but not a word from France. For eight whole
months no French ship had been able to cross the sea, to
bring aid for the needy colony. Day by day the half-starved
people scanned the St Lawrence for sight of a sail. At
last, on the 10th, they had their reward. A French ship
arrived; more ships followed; and by the 20th there were
twenty-three in the harbour, all laden with provisions,
stores, and men. The help was inadequate. There were only
326 soldiers for Montcalm on board, and there were not
enough provisions to keep the soldiers and people on full
rations through the summer, even with the help of what
crops might be harvested while the farmers remained under
arms. But Montcalm made the best of it: 'a little is
precious to those who have nothing.'

Bougainville brought out plenty of promotions and honours
for the victory at Ticonderoga. Montcalm was made
lieutenant-general of the king in Canada. Bougainville
told him his name was known all over France; 'even the
children use it in their games.' Old Marshal Belle Isle,
a gallant veteran, now at the head of the French army,
and a great admirer of Montcalm, had sent out the king's
last orders: 'No matter how small the space may be that
you can retain, you must somehow keep a foothold in
America; for, if we once lose the whole country, we shall
never get it back again. The king counts upon your zeal,
your courage, and your firmness to spare no pains and no
exertion. You must hold out to the very last, whatever
happens. I have answered for you to the king.' Montcalm
replied: 'I shall do everything to maintain a foothold in
New France, or die in its defence'; and he kept his word.

There was both joy and sorrow in the news from Candiac.
His eldest daughter was happily married. His eldest son
was no less happily engaged. But, at the last minute,
Bougainville had heard that another daughter had died
suddenly; he did not know which one. 'It must be poor
Mirete,' said Montcalm, 'I love her so much.' His last
letters home show with what a brave despair he faced the
coming campaign. 'Can we hope for another miracle to save
us? God's will be done! I await news from France with
impatience and dread. We had none for eight months, and
who knows if we shall have any more this year. How dearly
I have to pay for the dismal privilege of figuring in
the Gazette. I would give up all my honours to see you
again. But the king must be obeyed. Adieu, my heart, I
believe I love you more than ever!'

Bougainville had also brought out the news that Pitt was
sending enormous forces to conquer Canada for good and
all. One army was to attack the last French posts on the
Lakes. Another was to come up Lake Champlain and take
Montreal. A combined fleet and army, under Saunders and
Wolfe, was to undertake the most difficult task and to
besiege Quebec. There was no time to lose. Even Vaudreuil
saw that. Pouchot was left at Niagara with 1,000 men. De
la Corne had another 1,000 on the shores of Lake Ontario.
Bourlamaque held Lake Champlain with 3,000. But the key
of all Canada was Quebec; and so every man who could be
spared was brought down to defend it. Saunders and Wolfe
had 27,000 men of all kinds, 9,000 soldiers and 18,000
sailors, mostly man-of-war's-men. The total number which
the French could collect to meet them was 17,000. Of
these 17,000 only 4,000 were French regulars. There were
over 1,000 Canadian regulars; less than 2,000 sailors,
very few of whom were man-of-war's-men; about 10,000
Canadian militia, and a few hundred Indians. The militia
included old men and young boys, any one, in fact, who
could fire off a musket. The grand totals, all over the
seat of war, were 44,000 British against 22,000 French.

Having done all he could for Niagara, Ontario, and Lake
Champlain, Montcalm hurried down to Quebec on May 22.
Vaudreuil followed on the 23rd. On the same day the
advance guard of the British fleet arrived at Bic on the
lower St Lawrence. From that time forward New France was
sealed up as completely as if it had shrunk to a single
fort. Nothing came in and nothing went out. The strangling
coils of British sea-power were all round it. But still
Montcalm stood defiantly at bay. 'You must maintain your
foothold to the very last.'--'I shall do it or die.'

His plan was to keep the British at arm's length as long
as possible. The passage known as the 'Traverse' from
the north channel to the south, at the lower end of the
Island of Orleans, was a good place to begin. Strong
batteries there might perhaps sink enough of the fleet
to block the way for the rest. These Montcalm was eager
to build, but Vaudreuil was not. Had not Vaudreuil's
Canadian pilots prophesied that no British fleet could
possibly ascend the river in safety, even without any
batteries to hinder it? And was not Vaudreuil so sure of
this himself that he had never had the Traverse properly
sounded at all? He would allow no more than a couple of
useless batteries, which the first British men-of-war
soon put to silence. The famous Captain Cook, who was
sailing master of a frigate on this expedition, made the
necessary soundings in three days; and the fleet of forty
warships and a hundred transports went through without
a scratch.

Vaudreuil's second chance was with seven fireships, which,
having been fitted out by the Bigot gang at ten times
the proper cost, were commanded by a favoured braggart
called Delouche. The night after the British fleet had
arrived in the Orleans Channel, the whole French camp
turned out to watch what it was hoped would be a dramatic
and effective attack on the mass of shipping which lay
at anchor near the head of the island. The fireships were
sent down with the ebb-tide, straight for the crowded
British fleet. But Delouche lost his nerve, fired his
ship too soon, jumped into a boat and rowed away. Five
of the others did the same. The seventh was a hero, Dubois
de la Milletiere, who stuck to his post, but was burned
to death there in a vain effort to get among the enemy.
Had the six others waited longer the whole of the seven
French crews might have escaped together and some damage
might have been done to the British. As it was there was
nothing but splendid fireworks for both sides. The best
man on the French side was killed for nothing; no harm
was done to the British; and for equipping the fireships
the Bigot gang put another hundred thousand stolen dollars
into their thievish pockets. 'What a country, where knaves
grow rich and honest men are ruined!'

Vaudreuil's third chance was to defend the shore opposite
Quebec, Point Levis, which Montcalm wished to hold as
long as possible. If the French held it the British fleet
could not go past Quebec, between two fires, and Wolfe
could not bombard the town from the opposite heights.
But, early in July, Vaudreuil withdrew the French troops
from Point Levis, and Wolfe at once occupied the shore
and began to build his batteries. As soon as the British
had made themselves secure Vaudreuil thought it time to
turn them out. But he sent only 1,500 men; and so many
of these were boys and youths at school and college that
the French troops dubbed them 'The Royal Syntax.' These
precious 1,500 went up the north shore, crossed over
after dark, and started to march, in two separate columns,
down the south shore towards Levis. Presently the first
column heard a noise in the woods and ran back to join
the second. But the second, seeing what it mistook for
the enemy, fired into the first and ran for dear life.
Then the first, making a similar mistake, blazed into
the second, and, charmed with its easy victory, started
hotfoot in pursuit. After shooting at each other a little
more, just to make sure, the two lost columns joined
together again and beat a hasty retreat.

With the opposite shore lost Montcalm had now no means
of keeping Wolfe at any distance. But Montcalm had chosen
his position with skill, and it was so strong by nature
that it might yet be held till the autumn, if only he
was allowed to defend it in his own way. His left was
protected by the Montmorency river, narrow, but deep and
rapid, with only two fords, one in thick bush, where the
British regulars would have least chance, and another at
the mouth, directly under the fire of the French left.
His centre was the six miles of ground stretching towards
Quebec between the Montmorency and the little river St
Charles. Here the bulk of his army was strongly entrenched,
mostly on rising ground, just beyond the shore of the
great basin of the St Lawrence, the wide oozy tidal flats
of which the British would have to cross if they tried
to attack him in front. His right was Quebec itself and
the heights of the north shore above.

Wolfe pitched his camp on the far side of the cliffs near
the Falls of Montmorency; and one day tried to cross the
upper fords, four miles above the falls, to attack Montcalm
in the rear. But Montcalm was ready for him in the bush
and beat him back.

The next British move was against the left of Montcalm's
entrenchments. On July 31 Wolfe's army was busy at an
early hour; and all along the French front men-of-war
were under way with their decks cleared for action. At
ten o'clock, when the tide was high, two small armed
ships were run aground opposite the French redoubt on
the beach a mile from the falls; and they, the men-of-war,
and Wolfe's batteries beyond the falls, all began to fire
on the redoubt and the trenches behind it. Montcalm fired
back so hard at the two armed ships that the British had
to leave them. Then he gave orders for his army to be
ready to come at a moment's notice, but to keep away from
the threatened point for the present. By this means, and
from the fact that his trenches had been very cleverly
made by his own French engineers, he lost very few men,
even though the British kept up a furious fire.

The British kept cannonading all day. By four o'clock
one British brigade was trying to land beside the two
stranded armed ships, and the two other brigades were
seen to be ready to join it from their camp at Montmorency.
The redcoats had plenty of trouble in landing; and it
was not till six that their grenadiers, a thousand strong,
were forming up to lead the attack. Suddenly there was
an outburst of cheering from the British sailors. The
grenadiers mistook this for the commencement of the
attack. They broke their ranks and dashed madly at the
redoubt. The garrison at once left it and ran back, up
the hill, into the trenches. The grenadiers climbed into
it, pell-mell; but, as it was open towards its rear, it
gave them no cover from the terrific fire that the French,
on Montcalm's signal, now poured into them. Again they
made a mad charge, this time straight at the trenches.
Montcalm had called in every man there was room for, and
such a storm of bullets, grape-shot, cannon-balls, and
shells now belched forth that even British grenadiers
could not face it. A thunderstorm burst, with a deluge
of rain; and, amid the continued roar of nature's and
man's artillery, half the grenadiers were seen retreating,
while half remained dead or wounded on the field.

The two redcoat brigades from Montmorency had now joined
the remnant of the first, which had had such a rough
experience. Montcalm kept his men well in hand to meet
this more formidable attack. But Wolfe had had enough.
The first brigade went back to its boats. The second and
third brigades marched back to Montmorency along the
beach in perfect order, the men waving their hats in
defiance at the French, who jumped up on top of their
earthworks and waved defiance back. Before retiring the
British set fire to the two stranded ships. The day had
been as disastrous for Wolfe as glorious for Montcalm.

August was a hard month for both armies. Montcalm had
just won his fourth victory over the British; and he
would have saved Canada once more if only he could keep
Wolfe out of Quebec till October. Wolfe was ill, weak,
disappointed, defeated. But his army was at least perfectly
safe from attack. With a powerful fleet to aid him Wolfe
was never in any danger in the positions he occupied.
His army was always well provisioned; even luxuries could
be bought in the British camp. The fleet patrolled the
whole course of the St Lawrence; convoys of provision
ships kept coming up throughout the siege, and Montcalm
had no means of stopping a single vessel.

Montcalm could not stop the ships; but the ships could
stop him. He was completely cut off from the rest of the
world, except from the country above Quebec; and now that
was being menaced too. The St Lawrence between Quebec
and Montreal was the only link connecting the different
parts of New France, and the only way by which Quebec
could be provisioned. The course of the campaign could
not have been foretold; and Montcalm had to keep provisions
in several places along the river above Quebec, in case
he had to retreat. It would have been foolish to put all
the food into Quebec, as he would not be able to take
enough away with him, should he be obliged to leave for
Montreal or perhaps for the Great Lakes, or even for a
last desperate stand among the swamps of New Orleans.
'You must keep a foothold in America.'--'I shall do
everything to keep it, or die.' Quebec was the best of
all footholds. But if not Quebec, then some other place
not so good: Montreal; an outpost on the Great Lakes;
a camp beyond the Mississippi; or even one beside the
Gulf of Mexico.

So, for every reason, Montcalm was quite as anxious about
the St Lawrence above Quebec as he was about Quebec
itself. Ever since July 18 Admiral Saunders had been
sending more and more ships up the river, under cover of
the fire from the Levis batteries. In August things had
grown worse for Montcalm. Admiral Holmes commanded a
strong squadron in the river above Quebec. Under his
convoy one of Wolfe's brigades landed at Deschambault,
forty miles above Quebec, and burnt a magazine of food
and other stores. This step promised disaster for the
French. Montcalm sent Bougainville up along the north
shore with 1,000 men to watch the enemy and help any of
the French posts there to prevent a landing. Whenever
Saunders and Wolfe sent further forces in that direction
Montcalm did the same. He gave Bougainville more men. He
strengthened both the shore and floating batteries, and
by means of mounted messengers he kept in almost hourly
touch with what was going on.

The defence of the north shore above Quebec was of the
last importance. The only safe way of feeding Quebec was
by barges from Montreal, Sorel, and Three Rivers, which
came down without any trouble to the Richelieu rapids, a
swift and narrow part of the St Lawrence near Deschambault,
where some small but most obstructive French frigates
and the natural difficulties in the river would probably
keep Holmes from going any higher. There was further
safety to the French in the fact that Wolfe could not
take his army to this point from Montmorency without
being found out in good time to let Montcalm march up
to meet him.

It was vital to Montcalm to keep the river open. It would
never do to be obliged to land provisions above Deschambault
and to cart them down by road. To begin with, there were
not enough carts and horses, nor enough men to be spared
for driving them; and, in addition, the roads were bad.
Moreover, transport by land was not to be compared with
transport by water; it was easier to carry a hundred tons
by water than one by land. Accordingly, Quebec was fed
by way of the river. The French barges would creep down,
close alongshore, at night, and try to get into the
Foulon, a cove less than two miles above Quebec. Here
they would unload their cargoes, which were then drawn
up the hill, carted across the Plains of Abraham, and
down the other side, over the bridge of boats, into the
French camp.

Montcalm was anxious, but not despairing. Vaudreuil was,
indeed, as mischievous as ever. But now that the two
enemies were facing each other, in much the same way,
for weeks together, there was less mischief for him to
make. He made, however, as much as he could. Everything
that happened in the French camp was likely to be known
next day in the British camp. Vaudreuil could not keep
any news to himself. But he tried to keep news from
Montcalm and to carry out thwarting plans of his own.
Wolfe had no drawbacks like this. News from his camp was
always stale, because the fleet was a perfect screen,
and no one on the French side could tell what was going
on behind it till long after the chance had gone by.

One day Captain Vauquelin, a French naval officer, offered
to board a British man-of-war that was in the way of the
provision boats, if Vaudreuil would let him take five
hundred men and two frigates, which he would bring down
the river in the night. Vauquelin was a patriot hero,
who had done well at Louisbourg the year before, and who
was to do well at Quebec the year after. But, of course,
he was not a member of the Bigot gang. So he was set
aside in favour of a parasite, who made a hopeless bungle
of the whole affair.

The siege dragged on, and every day seemed to tell in
favour of Montcalm, in spite of all the hardships the
French were suffering. Wolfe was pounding the city into
ruins from his Levis batteries; but not getting any nearer
to taking it. He was also laying most of the country
waste. But this was of no use either, unless the French
barges on the river could be stopped altogether, and a
landing in force could be made on the north shore close
to Quebec.

Wolfe was right to burn the farms from which the Canadians
fired at his men. Armies may always destroy whatever is
used to destroy them. But one of his British regular
officers was disgracefully wrong in another matter. The
greatest blackguard on either side, during the whole war,
was Captain Alexander Montgomery of the 43rd Regiment,
brother of the general who led the American invasion of
Canada in 1775 and fell defeated before Quebec. Montgomery
had a fight with the villagers of St Joachim, who had
very foolishly dressed up as Indians. No quarter was
given while the fight lasted, as Indians never gave it
themselves. But some Canadians who surrendered were
afterwards butchered in cold blood, by Montgomery's own
orders, and actually scalped as well.

The siege went on with move and counter-move. Both sides
knew that September must be the closing month of the
drama, and French hopes rose. There was bad news for them
from Lake Champlain; but it might have been much worse.
Amherst was advancing towards Montreal very slowly.
Bourlamaque, an excellent officer, was retreating before
him, but he thought that Montreal would be safe till the
next year if some French reinforcements could be sent up
from Quebec. Only good troops would be of any use, and
Montcalm had too few of them already. But if Amherst took
Montreal the line of the St Lawrence would be cut at
once. So Levis was sent off with a thousand men, a fact
which Wolfe knew the very day they left.

September came. The first and second days passed quietly
enough. But on the third the whole scene of action was
suddenly changed. From this time on, for the next ten
days, Montcalm and his army were desperately trying to
stave off the last and fatal move, which ended with one
of the great historic battles of the world.


September 13, 1759

September 3 looked like July 31 over again. One brigade
of redcoats came in boats from the Point of Levy and
rowed about in front of the left of Montcalm's
entrenchments. The two others marched down the hill to
the foot of the Falls of Montmorency. But here, instead
of fording the mouth and marching along the beach, they
entered boats and joined the first brigade, which was
hovering in front of the French lines. Meanwhile, the
main squadron of the fleet, under Saunders himself, was
closing in before these same lines, with decks cleared
for action. Montcalm thought that this was likely to be
Wolfe's last move, and he felt sure he could beat him
again. But no attack was made. As the ships closed in
towards the shore the densely crowded boats suddenly
turned and rowed off to the Point of Levy. Wolfe had
broken camp without the loss of a single man.

Now began for Montcalm ten terrible days and nights. From
the time Wolfe left Montmorency to the time he stood upon
the Plains of Abraham, Montcalm had no means whatever of
finding out where the bulk of the British army was or
what it intended to do. Even now, Vaudreuil had not sense
enough to hold his tongue, and the French plans and
movements were soon known to Wolfe, especially as the
Canadians were beginning to desert in large numbers.
Wolfe, on the other hand, kept his own counsel; the very
few deserters from the British side knew little or nothing,
and the fleet became a better screen than ever. For thirty
miles, from the Falls of Montmorency up to above Pointe
aux Trembles, the ships kept moving up and down, threatening
first one part of the north shore and then another, and
screening the south altogether. Sometimes there were
movements of men-of-war, sometimes of transports, sometimes
of boats, sometimes of any two of these, sometimes of
all three together; sometimes there were redcoats on
board one, or two, or all three kinds of craft, and
sometimes not. It was a dreadful puzzle for Montcalm, a
puzzle made ten times worse because all the news of the
British plans that could be found out was first told to

Gradually it seemed as if Wolfe was aiming at a landing
somewhere on the stretch of thirteen miles of the north
shore between Cap Rouge, nine miles above Quebec, and
Pointe aux Trembles, twenty-two miles above. Camp gossip,
the reports from Bougainville, who was still watching
Holmes up the river, and whatever other news could be
gathered, all seemed to point the same way. But Saunders
was still opposite the Beauport entrenchments; and the
British camps at the island of Orleans, the Point of
Levy, and the Levis batteries still seemed to have a good
many redcoats. The use of redcoats, however, made the
puzzle harder than ever at this time, for Saunders had
over 2,000 marines, who were dressed in red and who at
a distance could not be told from Wolfe's own soldiers.

Perhaps Wolfe was only making a feint at Pointe aux
Trembles, and might, after all, come down against the
entrenchments if he saw that Montcalm had weakened them.
Perhaps, also, he might try to land, not at either end
of the French line, but somewhere in the middle, between
Cap Rouge and Quebec. Nothing could be found out definitely.
Certainly the British were looking for the weakest spot,
wherever it was. So Montcalm did the best he could to
defend nearly thirty miles of shoreline with the reduced
army of 13,000 men which he now had. Sickness, desertion,
losses in battle, and the reinforcements for Lake Champlain
had taken away a good 4,000. Again he reinforced
Bougainville, and told him to watch more carefully than
ever the menaced thirteen miles between Cap Rouge and
Pointe aux Trembles. He himself looked after the garrison
of Quebec. He made sure that the bulk of his army was
ready to defend the Beauport entrenchments as well as
before, and that it was also ready at a moment's notice
to march up the river. He sent a good battalion of French
regulars to guard the heights between Quebec and Cap
Rouge, heights so strong by nature that nobody else seemed
to think they needed defending at all.

This French battalion, that of La Guienne, marched up to
their new position on the 5th, and made the nine miles
between Quebec and Cap Rouge safe enough against any
British attack. There were already posts and batteries
to cover all the points where a body of men could get up
the cliffs, and the presence of a battalion reduced to
nothing the real dangers in this quarter. By the 7th
Vaudreuil had decided that these real dangers did not
exist, that Montcalm was all wrong, especially about the
Plains of Abraham, that there could be no landing of the
enemy between Quebec and Cap Rouge, that there was not
enough firewood there for both the Guienne battalion and
the men at the posts and batteries, and that, in short,
the French regulars must march back to the entrenchments.
So back they came.

On the 8th and 9th the British vessels swarmed round
Pointe aux Trembles. How many soldiers there were on
board was more than Bougainville could tell. He knew only
that a great many had been seen first from Cap Rouge,
that later a great many had been seen from Pointe aux
Trembles, and that every day bodies of soldiers had been
landed and taken on board again at St Nicholas, on the
south shore, between the two positions of Cap Rouge and
Pointe aux Trembles. The British plan seemed to be to
wear out their enemy. Daily the odds against the French
grew; for shiploads of redcoats would move up and down
with the strong tide and keep Bougainville's wretched,
half-starved men tramping and scrambling along the rough
ground of the heights in order to follow and forestall
this puzzling and persistent enemy.

On the 10th a French officer near the Foulon, one of the
posts on the heights between Quebec and Cap Rouge, saw,
through his telescope, that six British officers on the
south shore were carefully surveying the heights all
about him. When he reported this at once, Montcalm tried
again to reinforce this point. He also tried to send a
good officer to command the Foulon post. The officer
stationed there was Vergor, one of the Bigot gang and a
great friend of Vaudreuil's. Vergor had disgraced himself
by giving up Fort Beausejour in Acadia without a fight.
He was now disgracing himself again by allowing fifty of
the hundred men at the post to go and work at their farms
in the valley of the St Charles, provided that they put
in an equal amount of work on his own farm there. It was
a bad feature of the case that his utter worthlessness
was as well known to Wolfe as it was to Montcalm.

On the 11th and 12th the movements of the fleet became
more puzzling than before. They still seemed, however,
to point to a landing somewhere along those much threatened
thirteen miles between Cap Rouge and Pointe aux Trembles,
but, more especially, at Pointe aux Trembles itself. By
this time Bougainville's 2,000 men were fairly worn out
with constant marching to and fro; and on the evening of
the 12th they were for the most part too tired to cook
their suppers. Bougainville kept the bulk of them for
the night near St Augustin, five miles below Pointe aux
Trembles and eight miles above Cap Rouge, so that he
could go to either end of his line when he made his
inspection in the morning. He knew that at sunset some
British vessels were still off Pointe aux Trembles. He
knew also that most of the British vessels had gone down
for the night to St Nicholas, on the south shore, only
four miles nearer Quebec than he was at St Augustin.
Bougainville and everybody else on both sides--except
Wolfe and Montcalm themselves--thought the real attack
was going to be made close to Pointe aux Trembles, for
news had leaked out that this was the plan formed by the
British brigadiers with Wolfe's own approval.

Down the river, below Quebec, in his six miles of
entrenchments at Beauport, Montcalm was getting more and
more uneasy on the fatal 12th. Where was Wolfe's army?
The bulk of it, two brigades, was said to be at St
Nicholas, thirteen miles above Quebec, facing the same
thirteen miles that Bougainville's worn-out men had been
so long defending. But where was Wolfe's third brigade?
Saunders remained opposite Beauport, as usual. His boats
seemed very busy laying buoys, as if to mark out good
landing-places for another attack. He had redcoats with
him, too. Which were they? Marines? Soldiers? Nobody
could see. There were more redcoats at the island of
Orleans, more at the Point of Levy, more still near the
Levis batteries. Were these all soldiers or were some of
them marines? Why was Saunders beginning to bombard the
entrenchments at Beauport and to send boats along the
shore there after dark? Was this a feint or not? Why were
the Levis batteries thundering so furiously against
Quebec? Was it to cover Wolfe's crowded boats coming down
to join Saunders at Beauport?

Montcalm was up all night, keeping his men ready for
anything. That night Bougainville reported much the same
news as for several days past. He expected to see Holmes
and Wolfe back at Pointe aux Trembles in the morning. If
occasion arose, he was, however, ready to march down to
Cap Rouge as fast as his tired-out men could go. His
thirteen miles were being well watched.

What, however, about the nine miles of shore under his
guard between Cap Rouge and Quebec? About them Vaudreuil
was as stubborn as ever. They were a line of high cliffs,
seemingly impregnable, and Vergor who defended them was
his friend. Surely this was enough! But Montcalm saw what
a chance the position offered to a man of such daring
skill as Wolfe. Again he tried to have Vergor recalled,
but in vain. Then, in the afternoon of the 12th, he took
the bold but the only safe course of ordering the Guienne
battalion, four hundred strong, to go up at once and camp
for the night at the top of the Foulon, near Vergor. The
men were all ready to march off when Vaudreuil found out
what they were going to do. It was no order of his! It
would belittle him to let Montcalm take his place! And,
anyhow, it was all nonsense! Raising his voice so that
the staff could hear him, he then said: 'The English
haven't wings! Let La Guienne stay where it is! I'll see
about that Foulon myself to-morrow morning!'

'To-morrow morning' began early, long before Vergor and
Vaudreuil were out of bed. Of the two Vergor was up
first; up first, and with a shock, to find redcoats
running at his tent with fixed bayonets. He was off, like
a flash, in his nightshirt, and Wolfe had taken his post.
He ought to have been on the alert for friends as well
as foes that early morning, because all the French posts
had been warned to look out for a provision convoy which
was expected down the north shore and in at the Foulon
itself. But Vergor was asleep instead, and half his men
were away at his farm. So Vaudreuil lost his chance to
'see about that Foulon himself' on that 'to-morrow

Saunders had been threatening the entrenchments at Beauport
all night, and before daylight the Levis batteries had
redoubled their fire against Quebec. But about five
o'clock Montcalm's quick ear caught the sound of a new
cannonade above Quebec. It came from the Foulon, which
was only two miles and a half from the St Charles bridge
of boats, though the tableland of the Plains of Abraham
rose between, three hundred feet high. Montcalm's first
thought was for the provision convoy, so badly needed in
his half-starved camp. He knew it was expected down at
the Foulon 'this very night, and that the adjacent Samos
battery was to try to protect it from the British men-of-war
as it ran in. But he did not know that it had been stopped
by a British frigate above Pointe aux Trembles, and that
Wolfe's boats were taking its place and fooling the French
sentries, who had been ordered to pass it quietly.

Yet he knew Wolfe; he knew Vergor; and now the sound of
the cannonade alarmed him. Setting spurs to his horse,
he galloped down from Beauport to the bridge of boats,
giving orders as he went to turn out every man at once.

At the bridge he found Vaudreuil writing a letter to
Bougainville. If Vaudreuil had written nothing else in
his life, this single letter would be enough to condemn
him for ever at the bar of history. With the British on
the Plains of Abraham and the fate of half a continent
trembling in the scale, he prattled away on his official
foolscap as if Wolfe was at the head of only a few naughty
boys whom a squad of police could easily arrest. 'I have
set the army in motion. I have sent the Marquis of Montcalm
with one hundred Canadians as a reinforcement.'

Montcalm took up with him a good many more than the 'one
hundred Canadians' Vaudreuil ordered him to take, and he
sent to Bougainville a message very different from the
one Vaudreuil had written. What hero was ever more sorely
tried? When he caught sight of the redcoats marching
towards Quebec, in full view of the place where Vaudreuil
was writing that idiotic letter, he exclaimed, as he well
might: 'Ah! there they are, where they have no right to
be!' Then, turning to the officers with him, he added:
'Gentlemen, this is a serious affair. Let every one take
post at once!'

The camp was already under arms. Montcalm ordered up all
the French and Canadian regulars and all the militia,
except 2,000. Vaudreuil at once ordered a battalion of
regulars and all the militia, except 2,000, to stay where
they were. Montcalm asked for the whole of the twenty-five
field guns in Quebec. Vaudreuil gave him three.

Wolfe's 5,000 redcoats were already on the Plains when
Montcalm galloped up to the crest of ground from which
he could see them, only six hundred yards away. The line
was very thin, only two-deep, and its right did not seem
to have come up yet. Some sailors were dragging up a gun,
not far from the Foulon. Perhaps Wolfe's landing was not
quite completed?

Meanwhile half the 5,000 that Montcalm was able to get
into action was beginning to fire at the redcoats from
under cover and at some distance. This half was militia
and Indians, 2,000 of the first and 500 of the second.
The flat and open battlefield that Wolfe had in his front
was almost empty. It was there that Montcalm would have
to fight with his other 2,500, in eight small battalions
of regulars--five French and three Canadian.

These regulars wasted no time, once they were clear of
Vaudreuil, who still thought some of them should stay
down at Montmorency. They crossed the bridge of boats
and the valley of the St Charles, mounted the Heights of
Abraham, and formed up about as far on the inner side of
the crest of ground as Wolfe's men were on the outer
side. Montcalm called his brigadiers, colonels, and staff
together, to find out if anyone could explain the movements
of the British. No one knew anything certain. But most
of them thought that the enemy's line was not yet complete,
and that, for this reason, as well as because the sailors
were beginning to land entrenching tools and artillery,
it would be better to attack at once.

Montcalm agreed. In fact, he had no choice. He was now
completely cut off from the St Lawrence above Quebec.
His army could not be fed by land for another week. Most
important of all, by prompt action he might get in a blow
before Wolfe was quite ready. There was nothing to wait
for. Bougainville must have started down the river bank,
as hard as his tired-out men could march. To wait for
French reinforcements meant to wait for British ones too,
and the British would gain more by reinforcements than the
French. The fleet was closing in. Boats crowded with marines
and sailors were rowing to the Foulon, with tools and guns
for a siege. Already a naval brigade was on the beach.

Montcalm gave the signal, the eight battalions stepped
off, reached the crest of the hill, and came in sight of
their opponents. Wolfe's front was of six battalions
two-deep, about equal in numbers to Montcalm's eight
battalions six-deep. The redcoats marched forward a
hundred paces and halted. The two fronts were now a
quarter of a mile apart. Wolfe's front represented the
half of his army. Some of the other half were curved back
to protect the flanks against the other half of Montcalm's;
and some were in reserve, ready for Bougainville.

Montcalm rode along his little line for the last time.
There stood the heroes of his four great victories--Oswego,
Fort William Henry, Ticonderoga, Montmorency. He knew
that at least half of them would follow wherever he led.
The three Canadian battalions on his right and left might
not close with an enemy who had bayonets and knew how to
use them, when they themselves had none. The Languedoc
battalion of Frenchmen was also a little shaky, because
it had been obliged to take most of the bad recruits sent
out to replace the tried soldiers captured by the British
fleet in 1755. But the remainder were true as steel.

'Don't you want a little rest before you begin?' asked
Montcalm, as he passed the veteran Royal Roussillon. 'No,
no; we're never tired before a battle!' the men shouted
back. And so he rode along, stopping to say a word to
each battalion on the way. He had put on his full uniform
that morning, thinking a battle might be fought. He wore
the green, gold-embroidered coat he had worn at court
when he presented his son to the king and took leave of
France for ever. It was open in front, showing his polished
cuirass. The Grand Cross of St Louis glittered on his
breast, over as brave a heart as any of the Montcalms had
shown during centuries in the presence of the foe. From
head to foot he looked the hero that he was; and he sat
his jet-black charger as if the horse and man were one.

He reined up beside the Languedoc battalion, hoping to
steady it by leading it in person. As he did so he saw
that the Canadians and Indians were pressing Wolfe's
flanks more closely from under cover and that there was
some confusion in the thin red line itself, where its
skirmishers, having been called in, were trying to find
their places in too much of a hurry. This was his only
chance. Up went his sword, and the advance began, the
eight six-deep battalions stepping off together at the
slow march, with shouldered arms. 'Long live the King
and Montcalm!' they shouted, as they had shouted at
Ticonderoga; and the ensigns waved the fleurs-de-lis

Half the distance was covered in good formation. But when
the three battalions of Canadian regulars came within
musket-shot they suddenly began to fire without orders,
and then dropped down flat to reload. This threw out the
line; and there was more wavering when the French saw
that the Canadians, far from regaining their places, were
running off to the flanks to join the militia and Indians
under cover. Montcalm was now left with only his five
French battalions--five short, thick lines, four white
and one blue, against Wolfe's long, six-jointed, thin
red line. He halted a moment, to steady the men, and
advanced again in the way that regulars at that time
fought each other on flat and open battlefields: a short
march of fifty paces or so, in slow time, a halt to fire,
another advance and another halt to fire, until the foes
came to close quarters, when a bayonet charge gave the
victory to whichever side had kept its formation the

A single British gun was firing grape-shot straight into
the French left and cutting down a great many men. But
the thin red line itself was silent; silent as the grave
and steadfast as a wall. Presently the substitutes in
the Languedoc battalion could not endure the strain any
longer. They fired without orders and could not be stopped.
At the same time Montcalm saw that his five little bodies
of men were drifting apart. When the Canadian regulars
had moved off, they had left the French flanks quite
open. In consequence, the French battalions nearest the
flanks kept edging outwards, the ones on the right towards
their own right and the ones on the left towards their
own left, to prevent themselves from being overlapped by
the long red line of fire and steel when the two fronts
closed. But this drift outwards, while not enough to
reach Wolfe's flanks, was quite enough to make a fatal
gap in Montcalm's centre. Thus the British, at the final
moment, took the French on both the outer and both the
inner flanks as well as straight in front.

The separating distance was growing less and less. A
hundred paces now! Would that grim line of redcoats never
fire? Seventy-five!!--Fifty!!--Forty!!!--the glint of a
sword-blade on the British right!--the word of command
to their grenadiers!--'Ready!--Present!--Fire!!!' Like
six single shots from as many cannon the British volleys
crashed forth, from right to left, battalion by battalion,
all down that thin red line.

The stricken front rank of the French fell before these
double-shotted volleys almost to a man. When the smoke
cleared off the British had come nearer still. They had
closed up twenty paces to their front, reloading as they
came. And now, taking the six-deep French in front and
flanks, they fired as fast as they could, but steadily
and under perfect control. The French, on the other hand,
were firing wildly, and simply crumbling away before that
well-aimed storm of lead. The four white lines melted
into shapeless masses. They rocked and reeled like sinking
vessels. In a vain, last effort to lead them on, their
officers faced death and found it. All three brigadiers
and two of the colonels went down. Montcalm was the only
one of four French generals still on horseback; and he
was wounded while trying to keep the Languedoc men in

Suddenly, on the right, the Sarre and Languedoc battalions
turned and ran. A moment more, and Bearn and Guienne, in
the centre, had followed them. The wounded Montcalm rode
alone among the mad rush of panic-stricken fugitives.
But over towards the St Lawrence cliffs he saw the blue
line of the Royal Roussillon still fighting desperately
against the overlapping redcoats. He galloped up to them.
But, even as he arrived, the whole mass swayed, turned,
and broke in wild confusion. Only three officers remained.
Half the battalion was killed or wounded. Nothing could
stay its flight.

On the top of the crest of ground, where he had formed
his line of attack only a few minutes before, Montcalm
was trying to rally some men to keep back the pursuing
British when he was hit again, and this time he received
a mortal wound. He reeled in the saddle, and would have
fallen had not two faithful grenadiers sprung to his side
and held him up. His splendid black charger seemed to
know what was the matter with his master, and walked on
gently at a foot's pace down the Grande Allee and into
Quebec by the St Louis Gate. Pursuers and pursued were
now racing for the valley of the St Charles, and Quebec
itself was, for the moment, safe.

Never was there a greater rout than on the Plains of
Abraham at ten o'clock that morning. The French and
Canadians ran for the bridge of boats, their only safety.
But they came very close to being cut off both in front
and rear. Vaudreuil had poked his nose out of one of the
gates of Quebec when the flight began. He then galloped
down to the bridge, telling the Canadians on the Cote
d'Abraham, which was the road from the Plains to the St
Charles, to make a stand there. Having got safely over
the bridge himself, he was actually having it cut adrift,
when some officers rushed up and stopped this crowning
act of shame. This saved the fugitives in front of the
broken army.

Meanwhile the flying troops were being saved in the rear
by the Canadians at the Cote d'Abraham under a French
officer called Dumas. These Canadians had not done much
in the battle, for various reasons: one was that the
fighting was in the open, a mode of warfare in which they
had not been trained; the British, moreover, used bayonets,
of which the Canadians themselves had none. But in the
bush along the crest of the cliffs overlooking the valley
they fought splendidly. After holding back the pursuit
for twenty minutes, and losing a quarter of their numbers,
they gave way. Then a few of them made a second stand at
a mill and bakery in the valley itself, and were killed
or wounded to a man.

Montcalm heard the outburst of firing at the Cote d'Abraham.
But he knew that all was over now, that Canada was lost,
and with it all he had fought for so nobly, so wisely,
and so well. As he rode through St Louis Gate, with the
two grenadiers holding him up in his saddle, a terrified
woman shrieked out: 'Oh! look at the marquis, he's killed,
he's killed!' 'It is nothing at all, my kind friend,'
answered Montcalm, trying to sit up straight, 'you must
not be so much alarmed!' Five minutes later the doctor
told him he had only a few hours to live. 'So much the
better,' he replied; 'I shall not see the surrender of

On hearing that he had such a short time before him his
first thought was to leave no possible duty undone. He
told the commandant of Quebec that he had no advice to
give about the surrender. He told Vaudreuil's messenger
that there were only three courses for the army to follow:
to fight again, surrender, or retreat towards Montreal;
and that he would advise a retreat. He dictated a letter
to the British commander. It was written by his devoted
secretary, Marcel, and delivered to Wolfe's successor,

'Sir, being obliged to surrender Quebec to your arms
I have the honour to recommend our sick and wounded
to Your Excellency's kindness, and to ask you to carry
out the exchange of prisoners, as agreed upon between
His Most Christian Majesty and His Britannic Majesty.
I beg Your Excellency to rest assured of the high
esteem and great respect with which I have the honour
to be your most humble and obedient servant,


And then, his public duty over, he sent a message to each
member of his family at Candiac, including 'poor Mirete,'
for not a word had come from France since the British
fleet had sealed up the St Lawrence, and he did not yet
know which of his daughters had died.

Having remembered his family he gave the rest of his
thoughts to his God and to that other world he was so
soon to enter. All night long his lips were seen to move
in prayer. And, just as the dreary dawn was breaking; he
breathed his last.

'War is the grave of the Montcalms.'


Montcalm is, of course, a very prominent character in
every history of New France. Parkman ('Montcalm and
Wolfe') tried to be just, but the facts were not all
before him when he wrote. The Abbe Casgrain ('Guerre du
Canada, 1756-1760: Montcalm et Levis') was unfortunately
too prejudiced in favour of Vaudreuil and Levis to be
just, much less generous, towards Montcalm; but the
Honourable Thomas Chapais's work ('Le Marquis de Montcalm,
1712-1759') based on much more nearly complete materials,
does honour both to Montcalm and to French-Canadian
scholarship. Captain Sautai's monograph on Ticonderoga
('Montcalm au Combat de Carillon') is the best military
study yet published. An elaborate bibliography of works
connected with Montcalm's Quebec campaign is to be found
in volume vi of Doughty's 'Siege of Quebec'. The present
work seems to be the only life of Montcalm written by an
English-speaking author with access to all the original
data, naval as well as military.

See also in this Series: 'The Winning of Canada'; 'The
Great Fortress'; 'The Acadian Exiles'.



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