Wolfe takes Quebec
The 13th of September 1759 AD
The future of Canada was decided in the struggle for the city of Quebec. Defeat left the French weakened, with Montreal falling almost inevitably the following September. The battle has gone down in British folk history as won by the brilliant manoeuvre of General James Wolfe , attacking at a point where the enemy never expected him to, his troops scaling the Heights of Abraham complete with two small cannons to catch the French off guard.
In keeping with the later assertion of Napoleon as regards the most desirable quality in his generals, Wolfe was lucky. His ships were seen approaching their landing point, but a number of French supply ships had been expected at that time, and the cancellation of their mission had not been communicated to the French army. When the British ships were challenged from the shore a French-speaking British officer replied, preventing the alarm being raised. Many of the soldiers who should have manned the French camp above the cliffs were absent helping with the harvest. And a French officer who should have patrolled the cliff tops that night had his horse stolen, preventing him carrying out his duty.
An advance party scaled the cliffs and took the French camp with ease; Montcalm, the French general, thought his only option was to attack at once before the British, Americans and German settlers could establish themselves and bring more artillery up from the river. It was a disastrous move: in less than an hour Montcalm was routed; Quebec held on for a time, though the garrison was left to its own devices by fleeing French forces; but the struggle had in essence been decided on September 13.
Wolfe, only 32, was fatally wounded, hit in three places by French musket fire. His simultaneous victory and death, as with Nelson , turned him into a figure of romance and legend for the British.
More famous dates here
7021 views since 26th February 2007
From John Alderton on 13th September 2011
Brilliant, just the right length all the information, very well written.
On this day: