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MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS AND EXTRACTS
AMontcalm to de Molé
From the Dartmouth papers
Quebec August 24 1759
Is here (Quebec) after standing a three month's bombardment from Wolfe, who can never succeed, so long as he attacks from the other bank. The campaign cannot last a month, on account of the terrible autumn winds, which are totally against the fleet. Quebec must be taken by a coup de main. “The English have nothing to do but make a Descent on the Bank where this City is situated without Fortifications or Defence. Mr. Wolfe (if he understands his Business) has nothing to do but bear the first Fire—advance fast upon my Army—stop at his Discharge—my Canadians without Discipline, at the sound of the Drum &c, will get into Disorder & fly—such is my deplorable Situation.” He believes he will not survive the loss of the Colony, the only thing that remains is to die with honour. “But in this I console myself, that the loss of this Colony, this Defeat will one day be of more Service to my Country than a Victory; And that the Conqueror in aggrandizing himself will find a Tomb even in that. The English must breathe the Air of Freedom, and these Americans more so; And the children of these are not degenerated from the Republican Principles of their Parents. Their maxim is to obey as little as possible & when their Interests are touched they will revolt. Can England send one or two hundred thousand Men to oppose them at this distance P '” The northern parts and sea might be kept in obedience by the shipping, but who would conquer the interior parts “Besides, on a general Revolt, the Enemies to England in Europe will aid the Revolters.” If the English conquer they will have the conquered become English, for getting differences of race, &c. Is clear that his ideas will be accomplished in less than ten years after the Conquest of Canada, but shall, as ordered, act for its preservation.
Zetter of Capt. Calcraft
Quebec, Sept. 20. Dear Sir,
I have the pleasure of writing this in the capital of America, of which our troops took possession the 18th instant, at four o'clock after noon. This was the consequence of a complete victory obtained over the forces of France, consisting of about 30oo regulars, and not less than 7ooo Canadians and Indians, the 13th inst. near the citadel of Quebec. Our forces did not amount to 5ooo. This little battle was one of the most glorious that ever was fought. Great pity that our brave general, Wolfe, did not survive it ! He was killed in the beginning of the action: and Gen. Montcalm was so much wounded, that he died the same night. Our second in command, Gen. Monckton, was wounded, and the general that succeeded Montcalm was killed. It will perhaps be some satisfaction to you to give you some account of the steps that were taken previous to this famous engagement, which has determined the fate of Canada.
We had three camps; one on the east side of the fall of Montmorenci, one on the west point of the island of Orleans, and one on Point Levi. That on Montmorenci was the grand one, where Gens. Wolfe & Townshend commanded; that on Point Levi was the next most considerable and commanded by Gen1. Monckton; and that on Orleans was commanded always by some colonel. On Point Levi was a very strong battery of cannon and mortars, which played night and day upon the city, and did considerable damage. The fleet was stationed as follows. Adms. Saunders and Holmes, with several ships of war and transports, between Point Levi and the west point of Orleans; Adm. Durell, with several men of war and transports, between the east point of Orleans and Isle Madame. Besides these, there were two or three ships at the isle of Coudre, and one at the isle of Beke, and some others in other parts of the river; particularly the Sutherland has been for a considerable time several leagues up the river above Quebec, and was the first ship that past the batteries of the city; a thing that one would think impossible; but at last our frigates, and even transports, thought little of it, and several have gone up since, and very few hurt.
This was the situation of our army and navy the 2d. of this month, when our camp at Montmorenci broke up, having first destroyed all the country on that side as far down as Coudre, without being in the least molested by the French, except their throwing a few shells among the boats; which however did no damage; and they arrived all safe at Point Levi, from whence all the troops marched the 6th inst. leaving here about 7oo men; but whether they intended to cross the river, and got above the town, or whether it was intended to open a communication with Gen1. Amherst, remained a secret, till the public orders of the 12th, which were the last given out by our brave general, Wolfe, gave the troops to understand what they were going upon. I think they were excellent and will therefore give you a copy of them, as follows.
“On board the Sutherland, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 1759.
The enemy's forces are now divided, great scarcity of provisions in their camp, and uuiversal discontent among the Canadians.
“The second officer in command is gone to Montreal or St. John's, which gives reason to think that Gen. Amherst is advancing into the colony.
“A vigorus blow struck by the army may determine the fate of Canada. Our troops below (at Point Levi and Orleans) are in readiness to join us; all the light artillery and tools are imbarked at Point Levi; and the troops will land where the French seem least to expect it.
“The first body that gets on shore are to march directly to the enemy, and drive them from any little post they may occupy. The officers must take care that the succeeding bodies do not by any mistake, fire upon them that go before them.
“The battalions must form upon the upper ground with expedition, and be ready to charge whatever presents itself.
“When the artillery and troops are landed, a corps will be left to secure the landing place, while the rest march on and endeavour to bring the French and Canadians to a battle.
“The officers and men will remember what their country expects from them, and what a determined body of soldiers are capable of doing, against five weak French battalions, mingled with disorderly peasantry.
“The soldiers must be attentive and obedient to their officers, and resolute in the execution of their duty.” .
Besides the above there were some others regarding the regulation of the boats, which are not material.
These orders being given out, the ships and boats were ordered up the river with the tide: upon which Montcalm ordered out a large body to attend their motions; but Wolfe, upon the turn of the tide, which happened late in the night, sailed down the river, and before day-light landed almost under the wall of Quebec, in a place where indeed nobody could expect it; in short, they had a hill almost perpendicular to climb up , which however the troops effected, and gained the upper ground; where they were entertained with continual popping-shots from parties of the French and Canadians, in order to keep our people in play till their forces from their several incampments between the fall of Montmorenci and Quebec could be brought to their assistance.
On the other hand, our people had the same occasion to keep them in play till our forces could be collected and formed on the top of the hill. This sort of fighting continued till after ten o’clock, when both armies were formed ; and then the French advanced towards ours, in three columns, with a very good countenance, and looked as if they were determined to fight in reality. Ours were drawn up in two lines, and were ordered to keep up their fire, and receive that of the French : which was accordingly done; and then our people got so near them as to make them feel our bullets and bayonets almost at the same time. The fire continued very hot indeed for about ten minutes, when the French and Canadians turned tail. Then 450 highlanders were let loose upon them with their broad swords, and made terrible havock among the poor devils, as far as the walls of the city; which they would have entered with the runaways, had they not been called back. One of their captains told me, that the French were in so great a confusion, and seized with so great a panic, that the gate might have been kept open by those handful of men, till the rest of the army could have come up, and so have taken possession of the city by storm ; and that would have certainly been the case had Gen. Wolfe lived; but his death threw a damp upon the whole army. When every thing is considered, the surviving generals acted prudently; for if they maintained the ground they were upon, the devil could not keep then out of the city in the course of a few days; whereas if they had attempted to storm or take possession of the city that day, an accident might have deprived them of the advantages and glory they had already won.
There was no more then the first line of our army engaged; the second line stood still, there being no occasion for it. It was one of the most regular battles that ever was fought; there were no intrenchments, no rivers, no banks, nor woods, to give one army advantage over another. Montcalm indeed had greater experience in the art of war, than Wolfe; but Wolfe was more brave and intrepid than Montcalm.
As soon as the pursuit was over, the army set about casting up redoubts, and before night had finished about a dozen of them. That night our army lay upon their arms, expecting a visit from the French next morning; but they had enough of it, and therefore did not think proper to appear. The 14th, there was a flag of truce, for burying the dead. The 15th and 16th some hundred sailors were employed in drawing of cannon up a road that was made where the troops landed; a laborious employment, which the honest tars set about with the greatest alacrity. It was really diverting, to hear the midshipmen cry out, Starboard Starboard, my brave boys. The 17th the French hung out their flag, and on the 18th our troops took possession of the town.
The glory of this affair is due to the brave Wolfe; for after the 13th there was not one shot fired at the enemy. His body, I hear, is going to England in the Royal, in order, I suppose, to be interred in Westminster Abby.
There was killed and taken of the enemy, 1 lieutenant general, 2 brigadier generals, 2 colonels, killed: 2 majors taken, 18 captains killed, or taken, 50 odd Subalterns, ditto; all French regulars. In the whole AP. III-IO