Battle of the Plains of Abraham
Sept 13, 1759
Map of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham
To view a larger image click here .
From: Montcalm and Wolfe 1884
This work sixth volume in Francis Parkman's
France and England in North America .
The British force under Wolfe ( 1727 - Sept 13, 1759 )left Louisbourg in June with 8,500 mostly regular troops on 200 ships and they arrived at Quebec in three weeks . Quebec is naturally fortified by bluffs about 200 feet high and was one of the most formidable fortresses in North America . A grassy plain in front of the city is known as the Plains of Abraham . Montcalm had 14,000 troops in and around Quebec .
The first British troops landed on the Ile d'Orleans on June 27 and the British were able to take Pointe Levi across the river from Quebec and were able to bombard the lower part of Quebec . Wolfe was thwarted in his attempts to maneuver around the French forces above and below Quebec and felt forced to take on Beauport head on the eastern end of Montcalm's defense at Montmorency Falls , where the French were well established.
Wolfe hoped to establish a base on the Quebec side of the river, but the British were cut down by French artillery in the attack of July 31. Around 400 British troops were killed, while the French had no casualties and the attack was called off .
Arthur George Doughty
Wolfe leading troops at the night landing
Wolfe was getting more desperate, winter was closing in . Wolfe decided he must try a new approach to the city . A scout had seen a footpath up the steep paths north of the city, guarded by a few pickets . A decoy force was sent to another landing site to draw away most of the French forces. Wolfe landed with about 1,700 troops at Anse au Foulon, what later became known as Wolfe's Cove .the pickets were overwhelmed and the British troops rushed to the top.
The next day, on September 13, The British troops, numbering approximately 3,300, formed into a shallow horseshoe formation that stretched across the width of the Plain . Montcalm, expecting another attack at Beauport, was caught off guard, rushed to gather as many troops as possible on the plain , around 3,500. He decided he must attack at once, before the British position could get stronger . Montcalm's slight advantage in numbers was negated by the fact that most of his troops more or less fired at will, while the British troops were regulars who were able to direct controlled fire . Montcalm ordered his men forward at 10:00am, as the troops advanced they opened up with ineffectual fire, the British held their fire until the French were with 40 yards, then opened up .The French army broke. Wolfe did not live to see his victory, he was shot in the first few moments of the battle, many other officers were wounded, and command fell to Townson . Montcalm was also wounded by a canister round and was dead by the next morning .
Iconic: The Death of General Wolfe
This historic painting recreates the pivotal moment in 1759 when Britain defeated France on the Plains of Abraham. As one of only five original versions painted by Benjamin West, this object is one of the Royal Ontario Museum's iconic treasures. Visitors can see the original painting hanging in the Sigmund Samuel Gallery of Canada.
Both side had about 600 men killed in the battle . Quebec surrendered on September 18 . The British fleet was forced to sail before ice closed the river. A weak garrison was left to defend the city and the remains of Montcalm's army gathered to retake the city . The French commander, the Chevalier de Lévis ( 1719 - 1787 ) advanced upon the city in the spring with a force of around 6,900, nearly 4,000 of them regulars , before Amherst's forces could arrive at the city . The British commander, James Murray ( 1721 - 1794 ), had lost nearly 700 men to disease and had around 3,860 men . After engaging the French in the battle of Sainte-Foy on April 28, the British retreated back to Quebec and the city went under siege . The French forces were short on ammunition and could only fire around 20 rounds a day. By May 15, British ships were able to sail into Quebec and the French were forced to retreat.
Histoire du Québec 12 - La Conquête Britannique
The Battle for Quebec
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