THE MAD GENERAL WHO WON CANADA
The debunkers have been after General Wolfe, the hero of Quebec. They’ve called him a lucky blunderer, unfit to lead more than a battalion. What’s the truth about this lonely man—was he fool or genius?
PAUL A. GARDNER
MAJOR-GENERAL JAMES WOLFE IS one of Canada’s shining heroes. His forces captured Quebec in the short fierce battle of the Plains of Abraham, nearly 200 years ago, and made almost inevitable the surrender of Canada to Britain.
In leading these forces to victory against the great French general, the Marquis de Montcalm, he was thrice wounded and died on the field of battle. He was not yet 33 years old.
Did Wolfe deserve all of the resounding acclaim which has been heaped upon his head of bright red hair? Did his military prowess justify the lavish estimate of Sir Julien Corbett, turn-of-the-century naval historian: “He was a warrior with a genius for amphibious warfare, destined shortly to leave the reputation of being the greatest master of combined strategy the world had seen since Drake took the art from its swaddling clothes”?
A great deal of sentimental twaddle has been written about Wolfe; there has also been some idol smashing, which at times went to extremes. One contemporary even told King George II that Wolfe was mad. The King replied with a quip that was bound to make all the history books: “Then I wish he would bite some of my other generals!”
Wolfe appraised his own ability sincerely and only a little too modestly in a prophetic letter to his mother, dated Nov. 8, 1755, nearly four years before the taking of Quebec.
In it he wrote: “I reckon it a very great misfortune to this country that I your son, who have 1 know but a very moderate capacity, and a certain degree of diligence a little above the ordinary, should be thought, as I generally am, one of the best officers of my rank in the service. I am not at all vain of the distinction. The comparison would do a man of genius very little honor .
“The consequence will be very fatal to me in the end, for as I rise in rank people will expect some considerable performances and I shall be induced in support of an ill-got reputation to be lavish of my life, and shall probably meet that fate which is the ordinary efTects of such a conduct.”
Wolfe might have laughed to scorn the fulsome paeans poured out by some hero-worshippers.
His most rhapsodic biographer was Heckles Willson, sometimes equaled by Sir Arthur Doughty in his six-volume “Siege of Quebec.” Middle-of-theroad commentators include the late Professor W. T. Waugh of McGill University (“James Wolfe, Man and Soldier”) and the late Hon. John W. Fortescue (“History of the British Army”). His most scathing critic as a strategist is Professor E. R. Adair of McGill, in a published 1936 address to the Canadian Historical Association.
Col. William Wood writes in general admiration but attacks Wolfe’s basic strategy at Queltec with the opinions of such experts as a pair of admirals of
the fleet (one of them Lord Jellicoe) and Field Marshals Lord Roberts, Lord French and Lord Wolseley. The last he quotes as writing: “Wolfe was a first-rate commanding officer of a battalion; but,in the only campaign he ever conducted, he did not, according to my views of men who have conducted campaigns, display any originality or any great genius for war.”
Jam: Wolfe, as he customarily signed himself in frequent long letters to his mother and occasional short ones to his father (whom he addressed, with the formality of the da}', as “Dear Sir”), was the son of a lieutenant-general who died only six months before him. His brother Ned was an army lieutenant carried off by “galloping consumption” at 17 while on service in Europe.
James was a subaltern at 14, acting second in command of a regiment at 16, a captain at 17, a brigade major at 18, a regimental commander at 21, a lieutenant-colonel at 23, a full colonel at 30, a brigadier-general at 31, and the next year a majorgeneral. As was the custom, some of these promotions came through money or influence, and he made no bones about it in his letters. He once wrote his mother: “If a company of the Guards is bought for me, or I should be happy enough to purchase my lieutenant-colonel’s commission within this twelvemonth ”
A Target for Coarse Jokes
HE WAS far from handsome. His light blue eyes went oddly with his blazing-red hair, tied in a pigtail. His nose was long yet squat-ended, and he hadn’t very much chin. He was a narrowshouldered and lanky six feet three. He was rather awkward and self-conscious and, though he took dancing lessons during a five-month leave in Paris, he never considered himself good at it. Others say he was, though, and he certainly enjoyed it. On that leave he also studied the flute. He was very fond of dogs and of hunting, fishing and riding. His military career cut short his schooling, but he was an avid reader, both of military strategy and of literature such as Shakespeare and Milton.
Wolfe was a lonely boy who grew up a lonely man. He was never the life of the party and often the butt of rude jests. Even his subordinate in the Quebec campaign (though his social superior as one of “noble” birth), Brigadier George Townshend, used to make almost vicious caricatures of him and pass them around the mess in his presence. Wolfe made no reprisal, and only once is he said to have shown anger, but as a sensitive person he must have been
He was never really well. Ocean travel made him deathly sick, and during his two sojourns in Canada he was almost constantly afflicted with painful internal disorders.
All this doubtless made him irritable, yet no historian denies that he was well-loved by his men. He tended to admire or despise his fellow officers and superiors intensely, and he was given to denouncing them in letters to his parents and friends.
Not that he ever hesitated to criticize t hem to their faces, which scarcely made him a hail-fellow-wellmet.
Though he posed as a woman hater he sometimes sought women’s company, though only as conversational and dancing partners. He seems to have pretty well lived up to his priggish estimate of himself, “Few of my companions surpass me in common knowledge, but most of them in vice.”
At 17 Captain Wolfe wrote his brother Ned from the Continent: “If you should happen to go where Miss Seabourges is, pray don’t fall in love with her. Remember I’m your rival. I’m also in some pain about Miss Warde. Admire anywhere else and welcome (except the widow Bright).”
Several years later he wrote his mother from Glasgow: “Ever since I ranked myself among the humble admirers of a certain frozen nymph she has chilled me to all the rest of her sex” and “The (Scottish) ladies are cold to everything but a bagpipe I wrong ’em. there is not one that does not melt away at the sound of an estate. That’s the weak side of this soft sex.”
Next year he appears to have melted a bit, but without completely liquefying: “My mistress’
picture hangs up in this room where we dine. It took my stomach away for two or three days, and made me grave; but time, the never-failing aid to distressed lovers, has made the semblance of her a pleasing but not dangerous object.” There have been prettier compliments.
At the time of hi^ death he was betrothed to Katherine Lowther.
Wolfe had the reputation of being known as “the father of his men,” and -'rote bis mother in August, 1756, while preparing for a continental expedition: “There is a scheme o i foot to provide blankets for our men isinee the Government will not be at that expence). The officers contribute according to t heir abilities.”
On the other hand, when in command before Quebec, he had his men ravage the countryside, destroying crops, burning houses and barns. He justified this on the ground that the French allowed their Indian allies to commit atrocities and some sort of harsh reprisal had to be made.
Wolfe has been charged with holding his men’s lives lightly and with “extolling the beauty of blundering so long as it meant fighting.” He did write, in a 1757 letter: “ that, in particular circumstances and times, the loss of a thousand men is rather an advantage to a nation than otherwise, seeing that gallant attempts raise its reputation and make it respectable.” But the “blundering” remark, in a different letter, refers to extreme brass-hat inaction: “If they would even blunder on and fight a little, making amends to the public by their courage for their want of skill; but the excessive degree of caution, or whatever name it deserves, leaves exceeding bad impressions among the troops.” No suggestion of beauty there.
Whatever lack of humanitarianism this shows, it certainly stemmed from patriotism, which ran strong in Wolfe. Continued on page 41
Continued on page 41
The Mad General Who Won Canada
Continued from page 11
When he knew the national treasury to be well-nigh drained, he wrote his father urging him to lend the Government a large sum without interest, or better still, to give it outright.
Historians disagree on how well Wolfe earned his full colonelcy. Early in the Seven Years’ War, a year and a half before Quebec, he was sent on an expedition against Rochefort, France. While the chiefs sat around discussing plans on paper he reconnoitred for miles inland, then offered with three ships and 500 men to take the place. The chiefs ignored him and eventually pulled out with a fiasco on their hands. Wolfe was promoted, perhaps partly because it was Prime Minister William Pitt’s first military action and had to be made seem less than a complete failure.
Almost immediately he was made a brigadier-general, and sailed with General (later Lord) Amherst in 1758 to capture Louisburg, Cape Breton. Again his role is disputed, some crediting him with most of the success, others claiming it was largely luck. Certainly he once more displayed initiative. When Amherst stayed in America, Wolfe went back to England and became quite a hero.
Then came Wolfe’s return to Canada in 1759 as a major-general (in America only—he was still officially a colonel in England) at pay of less than $10 a day. His seconds-in-command were Brigadier-Generals (also in America only) Robert Monckton, George Townshend and James Murray, all older than Wolfe but still well under 40. At that time the total white population of Canada was about 85,000—roughly the same as London, Ont., today. Though Townshend was bitter about being subordinate to Wolfe, and Wolfe thought little of Townshend, they all pulled together. In Quebec, on the other hand, General Montcalm, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief Vaudreuil, Intendant Bigot and Army Contractor Cadet were tugging at cross purposes. This gave the English quite a break.
Wolfe’s assignment was to capture Quebec, and he had full authority on that front, although General Amherst was commander-in-chief of the theatre. Amherst’s forces took no direct part in the siege of Quebec, but by hovering on Lake Champlain and threatening Monttreal, source of Quebec’s supplies, they worried Montcalm, who was Quebec’s real military commander—except that Vaudreuil could and often did countermand his orders.
A Tough Nut to Crack
After a fog-and-ice-harried crossing of two and a half months and a long weatherbound delay at Louisburg, the 76-ship expedition sailed safely up the St. Lawrence, supposedly impossible for heavy craft to navigate without Canadian pilots. On June 27 they landed unopposed, on lovely Island of Orleans, a large island whose western tip lies five miles east of Quebec. The French hurried five battalions of militia and 1,000 Indians to Quebec, and prepared for the siege, which lasted 11 weeks.
Only 6,000 of the 16,000 French soldiers were first-class, and General Montcalm officially commanded but
4.000 of them. About 8,000 of the reserves were Canadiens, and about
1.000 were Indians, of whom the British had none. Wolfe had been promised
12.000 troops, but only 8,635 material-
ized—all seasoned soldiers, however. He found at Quebec about 3,000 other regulars, with 4,000 Canadian militia, which made the forces about even, numerically.
Quebec stands on the north shore on a rocky headland where the St. Lawrence shrinks to a mile in width. Directly below it the River St. Charles flows in, and seven miles to the east the Montmorency River tumbles into the St. Lawrence at Montmorency Falls. From Quebec to Beauport—halfway to the falls—was then all mud flats, protected by floating an,d on-shore batteries and by the guns of Quebec. From Beauport to the falls the craggy north shore, all fortified, was too high to be hit by the fire of ship-based guns.
Thirteen thousand of the French soldiers were spread behind that seven miles of shore. A “flying squad” of
1.000 up river left a garrison of 2,000 to hold the citadel and town of Quebec. The British fleet, commanded by Sir Charles Saunders and two other admirals, was infinitely superior* to the French, which consisted almost entirely of supply ships and was kept well above Quebec.
The night after he landed Wolfe posted on island and south-shore church doors a proclamation “To the Canadian People” urging them to change sides fast because “England in her strength will befriend you. France in her weakness leaves you to your fate.”
No one fell for it, so Wolfe sent Monckton’s brigade to occupy Pointe Lévis, on the bank opposite Quebec. There he set up batteries only two and a half miles from the citadel. They included mortars with a three - mile range, which did heavy damage. Montcalm had wanted to fortify Lévis, but Vaudreuil had talked him out of it. Later Wolfe also took and, under cover of navy guns, “cannonized” Pointe aux Pères, much nearer Quebec. From both spots the British banged out an attack on citadel and town which eventually silenced many French batteries.
The Enemies Trade Treats
A few days later, while British troops marched along the riverbank above the town as if to attack there and some ships sailed near shore and fired on the French lines below—both feints to distract the enemy—Wolfe and 5,000 men crossed the north channel from Orleans and landed just east of Montmorency Falls, smack up against the end of the French line. This made the third British encampment. Such a splitup of his forces was not good strategy by the books, but he did it to try and tempt Montcalm out of his fortress.
Soon after the Montmorency fortification, in a Quebec council of war, Vaudreuil and Bigot voted to attack— exactly what Wolfe wanted. According to Montcalm’s journal, Bigot’s motive was to kill off a number of their own men so that there would be fewer mouths to feed. Nobody else was in favor and Montcalm was able to turn it down.
Wolfe’s first idea had been to sail up above Quebec and attack there, trying to cut off the town’s supplies and starve its defenders out, but he apparently thought it too risky. However, in midJuly Vice-Admiral Saunders sneaked several ships up well above Quebec and Wolfe made a fourth split in his forces by sending a detachment to ravage the countryside near there. Still Montcalm refused to be lured into an attack, though he was forced to send 600 men from below Quebec to augment the
1.000 already above under Col. de Bougainville, Quebec’s best officer next to himself.
From then on till about the end of July there was desultory action, and several British deserters kept Montcalm up-to-date on Wolfe’s situation Because of this Montcalm kept changing his strategy and so did Wolfe, who also kept it to himself for fear of further leaks. This caused one officer to complain of three immediately contradicted orders within five hours, and this he said went on constantly: “Every step he takes is wholly his own; I’m told he asks no one’s opinion, and wants no advice.”
During this period of spasmodic attacks some things occurred which would seem strange in modern warfare. Hostilities were suspended 20 or more times during the siege, and a Canadien historian, Pierre Brunet of the Federal Archives, says that “about the end of July, Wolfe and Governor Vaudreuil wrote each other almost every day, and Montcalm, who was not in on the secret of these exchanges, began to feel, as he noted in his journal, that the war was passing in conversation.”
Another time one leMercier from Quebec conferred with Wolfe on the question of scalping by Montcalm’s Indians. Wolfe had sent the French officers some cases of liqueurs (captured from French vessels), and leMercier took with him a return gift of wines for the English general and admiral. This visit was made when the French needed to repair and remount some cannon and leMercier killed time so well that the job was almost finished when he got back and struck the flag of truce.
By late July, after a month in front of Quebec, Wolfe began to feel that he wasn’t getting anywhere fast and that Pitt might regret his choice of the man to capture Quebec. So he worked out a plan of attack at Beauport, near Montmorency, which misfired badly. It cost 450 lives and “many excellent officers hurt in this foolish, business,” as Wolfe himself wrote in his journal for that day. Both in his report to Pitt and in a reply to criticism from Admiral Saunders, he did not attempt to shift responsibility for the disaster.
Meanwhile Wolfe, unwell all along, fell really ill of a slow fever and by August 29 he was desperate enough to turn to his brigadiers for advice. In doing so he suggested trying Beauport again, but they said no to that emphatically. They urged an attack above the town, to cut the French off from both provisions and reinforcements. They suggested a night landing at some point above the Cap Rouge River, nine miles above Quebec.
“The Paths of Glory ”
Wolfe, however, after extensive reconnoitering, decided on Anse de Foulon, a cove from which a narrow path wound 200 feet up the Heights of Abraham, less than two miles along the plateau from the citadel. Only 100 men were kept posted at that point on the summit and. as Wolfe knew, they were commanded by an incompetent friend of Bigot’s who was not likely to keep them on the alert. Again he kept his brigadiers in the dark about the plan of attack. When they finally asked for enlightenment, however, he gave it to the senior Monckton. He feared a leakdeserters were numerous on both sides.
About this time Wolfe wrote what was to be his last letter to his mother in England. In it he referred to “my plan of quitting the service, which I am determined to do at the first opportunity I mean so as not to be absolutely distressed in circumstances, nor burdensome to you, or to anybody ”
Wolfe is said by some biographers to have had a premonition of death. One supposed indication seems merely a
natural precaution before a stiff battle: before the landing at Anse de Foulon he entrusted to a shipboard friend the will he had made three months before at sea. He also gave him a portrait of his lovely fiancee, Katherine Lowther, whom he had met two years before and courted briefly before sailing for Louisburg. His will directed that it should be set in jewels to the amount of 500 guineas and returned to her, a delicate way of avoiding a cash gift.
The other alleged touch of premonition is of course Wolfe’s quoting lines from Gray’s Elegy, ending “The paths of glory lead but to the grave,” either while still on the ship or while he and the others were peering through the darkness for the path up the cliff—in either case disobeying his own order for strict silence. Then, according to Beckles Willson, he added: “Gentle-
men, I would rather have written those lines than take Quebec!” No authority is given for this strange outburst, and anything less likely to spring from the lips of James Wolfe is hard to imagine. Best evidence is that he did quote Gray, but the afternoon before.
That he did have a premonition of disaster is clear, though, from a letter he wrote the Secretary of State three days before the triumphant Sept. 13. After describing the plans and preparations, he added: “I am so far recovered as to do business; but my constitution is entirely ruined; without the consolation of having done any considerable service to the State; or without any prospect of it.” This Cassandra remark plunged England into gloom, which made the news of victory all the more welcome when it arrived three days later, five weeks after the event.
The French Blunders
Wolfe and Saunders cleverly fooled Montcalm into expecting attacks far from Anse de Foulon. For at least a week before “Q-Day” a fleet of ships under Rear Admiral Charles Holmes sailed up and down above Quebec as if about to land troops at any time. De Bougainville’s “flying squad,” by now increased to 2,000 picked troops, followed instructions to keep abreast of the flotilla, and by the time zero hour C$ime they were worn to a frazzle. This kept them away from the Plains of Abraham until too late.
Then at nightfall on September 12— the night of Wolfe’s coup—the main fleet under Saunders moved down river toward Beauport, more than three miles below Quebec, and formed up before it. Manned boats were lowered and the ships opened fire. These feints split the focus of F'rench attention, distracting it completely from the real point of danger. Meanwhile British troops had been marching up river on the southern shore, and were held ready to embark when needed, at various points so as to avoid concentrations of sound.
At two a.m.—ebbtide—Wolfe led off in his flagship Sutherland. The sky was starry but moonless, and a breeze from the northeast blew any sounds away from the unsuspecting defenders of Quebec, as the British surprise force glided silently in flatboats to its goal.
Was Anse de Foulon— now called Wolfe’s Cove— well chosen as the point of attack? The brigadiers didn’t think so, although to their credit they gave it all they had just the same. Neither does the historian Adair; he believes that had it not been for another of Vaudreuil’s stupidities, reinforcements ordered by Montcalm to take position nearby would swiftly have aided the 100-man guard and repulsed the British with ease. Vaudreuil, however, had postponed the order and so let his side in for slaughter and defeat.
Even that wouldn’t have saved Wolfe, but for another lucky break. That very night, unknown to the English, a convoy of provisions was scheduled to arrive at Quebec by water (Montcalm was down to two days’ provisions for his forces), and all shore sentries were warned to let it pass. The leading English ships en route to Anse de Foulon learned of this at 11 p.m. from a deserter. When they came along, a sentry on shore asked: “Qui vive?” Quickly a young Scottish officer, Simon Fraser, replied in perfect French: “La France.” This didn’t get them through though. “A quel régiment?” barked the sentry. “De la reine,” hazarded young Fraser, who must have wilted a bit when a third query was flung at him in French: “Why don’t you speak
louder?” but he came through again in French with: “Sh! we might be heard by the enemy’s ship yonder.”
Had the convoy not been expected, the sentries would have given the alarm and probably by the time Wolfe’s men had*scaled the cliff by the narrow zigzag path—clutching trees and shrubs to steady themselves—reinforcements would have arrived from Quebec, less than two miles away. In any case, the 100 men above, alerted, could have held the path.
The Critical Clash
Another testimonial to bilingualism occurred at the clifftop. A Capt. Donald McDonald accosted a sentry in French—it was still very dark—saying he had been sent with a force to take over, ordering him to call off the guard, and promising to take good care of the (censored) English if they should attack there. By the time the guard had become suspicious there were three companies of light infantry up the cliff and on hand to take care of the (censored) French—and, of course, no reinforcements, thanks to Vaudreuil. Some Canadien historians say that the sentry was a traitor and was later shot. The chaos was so great that it took two hours for the alarm to reach Montcalm.
By 6 a.m. Wolfe had 4,800 men on the Heights, all good troops and flushed with the success of their surprise. He also had two guns—a pair of brass cannon. Montcalm had about the same number of men, including Canadiens and# Indians, but their quality was far ¿inferior because so many of his crack ’troops were up river with de Bougainville warding off one of Wolfe’s decoy attacks. And Vaudreuil, running true to form, countermanded an order recalling a large detachment from Beauport. He also sent a misleadingly optimistic note to de Bougainville, who didn’t arrive in time to be of any help.
Montcalm sent at once to the city for 25 field guns which were there along with a couple of hundred larger cannon but de Ramezay, the town commandant, refused to send more than three. This was among Wolfe’s greatest pieces of luck. Had the F'rench general had all 25, says Fortescue the British military historian, he could have blasted Wolfe off the field.
Montcalm could still have refused to attack, and might have got away with it, calling in his down-river reinforcements. But Wolfe’s zingy, rarin’-to-go troops, backed by the naval and landbased batteries, could probably have taken Quebec, though at great cost in casualties. However, not even Vaudreuil voted against taking the field, and at 9 a.m. the French drew up their battle lines about 600 yards from the British who had been ready there since 8. Montcalm had already deployed snipers into the woods and they were picking off the attackers in considerable numbers. His right and left flanks were
composed of Canadiens and Indians, used to open-country skirmishes. The British flank troops were partly Canadians of the same experience.
Both commanders were highly visible. Wolfe rashly wore a brand-new scarlet uniform which with his great height and gawky gait made him stand out like a beacon. Montcalm, in blue trimmed with red and yellow like one of his regular battalions (the rest of them wore white, similarly faced) and wearing a gleaming steel cuirass on his chest, rode up and down on his black charger asking the ranks if they were tired.
Wolfe strode about on foot, encouraging his men—the regulars all in red. While he was thus engaged, on the left of the line, a sniper’s bullet struck him in the wrist. He tied a handkerchief around it and strode on. Just as he reached the right another bullet got him in the groin, but he heeded it no more than the first. Still the battle proper had not been joined, although Montcalm’s three and Wolfe’s two guns had begun to fire.
The British centre formation was notable for its “thin red line” which at that time was unheard of, though it was formally adopted by the British army about 50 years later. The men advanced two deep instead of three or more. They had to because there were so few of them—1,800 men to cover a half-mile front. Another 1,300 were deployed to protect the flanks. The rest were held in reserve.
The morning had been grey with a spattering of rain, but just before 10 the sun broke through and shone brilliantly on the colorful battle lines. Almost at once Montcalm gave the order to advance.
As the F'rench, with a concerted shout, began to move forward the British regulars, who had been lying flat to avoid the snipers, sprang to their feet but did not advance.
At 200 yards from the British the French troops began firing, but with little effect. Their Canadien militia confused things by throwing themselves flat on the ground to reload, as they were accustomed to doing in skirmishes.
“Hold steady, men, and reserve your fire!” shouted Wolfe, his two wounds forgotten. At last when the F'rench were within 35 yards of them, he gave the order: “Fire!” and, as F’orteseue
puts it, “the still red line sprang into life, the muskets leaped forward into a long bristling bar, and with one deafening crash the most perfect volley ever fired on battlefield burst forth as if from a single monstrous weapon, from end to end of the British line.”
This volley virtually won the battle of the Plains of Abraham, which lasted a scant 15 minutes. When the smoke had cleared away, the French line was in fragments and the ground was bright with their dead and wounded. Montcalm galloped up and down trying to collect his ranks but it was no use.
Death of a Hero
The British fired again, then advanced with their swords and bayonets. The surviving F’rench could do little but retreat. Wolfe led his men against them, and a bullet pierced his lungs. He staggered on, but soon had to give up the effort.
“Sup|>ort me, sup[>ort me,” he
gasped to an officer next to him, "lest
my gallant fellows should see me fall!”
Lieutenant Henry Hrowneand a volun-
teer named James Henderson, both of
the Ixiuishurg Grenadiers, carried him
to the rear almost unnoticed by his
men in their frenzied chase of the flee-
ing F’rench. No surgeon was at hand,
Continued on [rige 44
Continued from page 42
but a surgeon’s mate named Hewit
There wasn’t a chance for the thricewounded general, and he had almost lapsed into a coma when suddenly one of the three with him cried: “They run! See how they run!”
Wolfe roused himself. “Who runs?” he asked.
“The enemy, sir. Egad, they give way everywhere!”
Wolfe rose a little. “Go, one of you, to Col. Burton,” he ordered. “Tell him to march Webb’s regiment to St. Charles’s River, to cut off the retreat to the bridge.”
Then he turned on his side and murmured: “I die content.” He would
have been less content had he known that his order to Burton would not be obeyed, and that most of the surviving French regulars would get away. 1 heir getaway was covered by the Canadien
militia they had so often ridiculed.
Wolfe’s gallant enemy Montcalm never ceased trying to rally his men. In doing so he too received a mortal wound, rode home pooh-poohing it, and died next day in hospital. GovernorGeneral Vaudreuil, Intendant Bigot and Commandant de Ramezay, who had checkmated so many of Montcalm’s efforts to beat off the British, survived to surrender Quebec to Townshend four days later. Brigadier James Murray became Governor.
On the death of Wolfe in battle the command fell on Monckton but not for long, because a severe wound disabled him and Townshend had to take over. As he did so he found that de Bougainville’s forces had arrived from up river and were threatening his rear. With two battalions and the pair of cannon he drove them back without much loss, then sat down to take stock of the main battle. The Fritish had lost 58, with
597 wounded. French casualty estimates range from 700 to 1,200, a large proportion of them deaths.
While the battle was decisive, it was not until almost a year later—Sept. 8, 1760—that the British finally won New France. And this was only after blundering and almost losing Quebec in a battle which cost a thousand British lives, and after Amherst had finally taken Montreal.
But win New France they did, and in that winning Wolfe, with the aid of Saunders and their soldiers and sailors, of Vaudreuil and of Lady Luck, played a courageous, spectacular and decisive role.
Perhaps the best way to view James Wolfe is not with reverence for a demigod but with respect for an intelligent, considerate man with human failings, a daring, skilful commander, and a burr in the britches of the bumbling brass hats of his day. ir