Infomotions, Inc.The Passing of New France : a Chronicle of Montcalm / Wood, William (William Charles Henry), 1864-1947

Author: Wood, William (William Charles Henry), 1864-1947
Title: The Passing of New France : a Chronicle of Montcalm
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): montcalm; vaudreuil; british; quebec; canada; canadians; fort; aux trembles; lake champlain; indians; france; cap rouge; pointe aux; army; regulars
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Identifier: etext6863
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Title: The Passing of New France
       A Chronicle of Montcalm

Author: William Wood

Release Date: November, 2004 [EBook #6863]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on February 2, 2003]

Edition: 10

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


This etext was produced by Gardner Buchanan.

Edited by George M. Wrong and H. H. Langton
In thirty-two volumes

Volume 10

A Chronicle of Montcalm





'War is the grave of the Montcalms.' No one can tell how
old this famous saying is. Perhaps it is as old as France
herself. Certainly there never was a time when the men
of the great family of Montcalm-Gozon were not ready to
fight for their king and country; and so Montcalm, like
Wolfe, was a soldier born.

Even in the Crusades his ancestors were famous all over
Europe. When the Christians of those brave days were
trying to drive the unbelievers out of Palestine they
gladly followed leaders whom they thought saintly and
heroic enough to be their champions against the dragons
of sultan, satan, and hell; for people then believed that
dragons fought on the devil's side, and that only Christian
knights, like St George, fighting on God's side, could
kill them. The Christians banded themselves together in
many ways, among others in the Order of the Knights of
St John of Jerusalem, taking an oath to be faithful unto
death. They chose the best man among them to be their
Grand Master; and so it could have been only after much
devoted service that Deodat de Gozon became Grand Master,
more than five hundred years ago, and was granted the
right of bearing the conquered Dragon of Rhodes on the
family coat of arms, where it is still to be seen. How
often this glorious badge of victory reminded our own
Montcalm of noble deeds and noble men! How often it nerved
him to uphold the family tradition!

There are centuries of change between Crusaders and
Canadians. Yet the Montcalms can bridge them with their
honour. And, among all the Montcalms who made their name
mean soldier's honour in Eastern or European war, none
have given it so high a place in the world's history as
the hero whose life and death in Canada made it immortal.
He won the supreme glory for his name, a glory so bright
that it shone even through the dust of death which shrouded
the France of the Revolution. In 1790, when the National
Assembly was suppressing pensions granted by the Crown,
it made a special exception in favour of Montcalm's
children. As kings, marquises, heirs, and pensions were
among the things the Revolution hated most, it is a
notable tribute to our Marquis of Montcalm that the
revolutionary parliament should have paid to his heirs
the pension granted by a king. Nor has another century
of change in France blotted out his name and fame. The
Montcalm was the French flagship at the naval review held
in honour of the coronation of King Edward VII. The
Montcalm took the President of France to greet his ally
the Czar of Russia. And, but for a call of duty elsewhere
at the time, the Montcalm would have flown the French
admiral's flag in 1908, at the celebration of the
Tercentenary of the founding of Quebec, when King George
V led the French- and English-speaking peoples of the
world in doing honour to the twin renown of Wolfe and
Montcalm on the field where they won equal glory, though
unequal fortune.

Montcalm was a leap-year baby, having been born on February
29, 1712, in the family castle of Candiac, near Nimes,
a very old city of the south of France, a city with many
forts built by the Romans two thousand years ago. He came
by almost as much good soldier blood on his mother's side
as on his father's, for she was one of the Castellanes,
with numbers of heroic ancestors, extending back to the
First Crusade.

The Montcalms had never been rich. They had many heroes
but no millionaires. Yet they were well known and well
loved for their kindness to all the people on their
estates; and so generous to every one in trouble, and so
ready to spend their money as well as their lives for
the sake of king and country, that they never could have
made great fortunes, even had their estate been ten times
as large as it was. Accordingly, while they were famous
and honoured all over France, they had to be very careful
about spending money on themselves. They all--and our
own Montcalm in particular--spent much more in serving
their country than their country ever spent in paying
them to serve it.

Montcalm was a delicate little boy of six when he first
went to school. He had many schoolboy faults. He found
it hard to keep quiet or to pay attention to his teacher;
he was backward in French grammar; and he wrote a very
bad hand. Many a letter of complaint was sent to his
father. 'It seems to me,' writes the teacher, 'that his
handwriting is getting worse than ever. I show him, again
and again, how to hold his pen; but he will not do it
properly. I think he ought to try to make up for his want
of cleverness by being more docile, taking more pains,
and listening to my advice.' And then poor old Dumas
would end with an exclamation of despair--'What will
become of him!'

Dumas had another pupil who was much more to his taste.
This was Montcalm's younger brother, Jean, who knew his
letters before he was three, read Latin when he was five,
and Greek and Hebrew when he was six. Dumas was so proud
of this infant prodigy that he took him to Paris and
showed him off to the learned men of the day, who were
dumbfounded at so much knowledge in so young a boy. All
this, however, was too much for a youthful brain; and
poor Jean died at the age of seven.

Dumas then turned sadly to the elder boy, who was in no
danger of being killed by too much study, and soon renewed
his complaints. At last Montcalm, now sixteen and already
an officer, could bear it no longer, and wrote to his
father telling him that in spite of his supposed stupidity
he had serious aims. 'I want to be, first, a man of
honour, brave, and a good Christian. Secondly, I want to
read moderately; to know as much Greek and Latin as other
men; also arithmetic, history, geography, literature,
and some art and science. Thirdly, I want to be obedient
to you and my dear mother; and listen to Mr Dumas's
advice. Lastly, I want to manage a horse and handle a
sword as well as ever I can.' The result of it all was
that Montcalm became a good Latin scholar, a very well
read man, an excellent horseman and swordsman, and--to
dominie Dumas's eternal confusion--such a master of French
that he might have been as great an author as he was a
soldier. His letters and dispatches from the seat of war
remind one of Caesar's. He wrote like a man who sees into
the heart of things and goes straight to the point with
the fewest words which will express exactly what he wishes
to say. In this he was like Wolfe, and like many another
great soldier whose quick eye, cool head and warm heart,
all working together in the service of his country, give
him a command over words which often equals his command
over men.

In 1727, the year Wolfe was born, Montcalm joined his
father's regiment as an ensign. Presently, in 1733, the
French and Germans fell out over the naming of a king
for Poland. Montcalm went to the front and had what French
soldiers call his 'baptism of fire.' This war gave him
little chance of learning how great battles should be
fought. But he saw two sieges; he kept his eyes open to
everything that happened; and, even in camp, he did not
forget his studies. 'I am learning German,' he wrote
home, 'and I am reading more Greek than I have read for
three or four years.'

The death of his father in 1735 made him the head of the
family of Montcalm. The next year he married Angelique
Talon du Boulay, a member of a military family, and
grand-daughter of Denis Talon; a kinsman of Jean Talon,
the best intendant who ever served New France. For the
next twenty years, from 1736 to 1756, he spent in his
ancestral castle of Candiac as much of his time as he
could spare from the army. There he had been born, and
there he always hoped he could live and die among his
own people after his wars were over. How often he was to
sigh for one look at his pleasant olive groves when he
was far away, upholding the honour of France against
great British odds and, far worse, against secret enemies
on the French side in the dying colony across the sea!
But for the present all this was far off. Meanwhile,
Candiac was a very happy home; and Montcalm's wife and
his mother made it the happier by living together under
the same roof. In course of time ten children were born,
all in the family chateau.

Montcalm's second war was the War of the Austrian
Succession, a war in which his younger opponent Wolfe
saw active service for the first time. The two future
opponents in Canada never met, however, on the same
battlefields in Europe. In 1741, the year in which Wolfe
received his first commission, Montcalm fought so well
in Bohemia that he was made a Knight of St Louis. Two
years later, at the age of thirty-one, he was promoted
to the command of a regiment which he led through three
severe campaigns in Italy. During the third campaign, in
1746, there was a terrific fight against the Austrians
under the walls of Placentia. So furious was the Austrian
attack that the French army was almost destroyed. Twice
was Montcalm's regiment broken by sheer weight of numbers.
But twice he rallied it and turned to face the enemy
again. The third attack was the worst of all. Montcalm
still fought on, though already he had three bullet
wounds, when the Austrian cavalry made a dashing charge
and swept the French off the field altogether. He met
them, sword in hand, as dauntless as ever; but he was
caught in a whirlwind of sabre-cuts and was felled to
the ground with two great gashes in his head. He was
taken prisoner; but was soon allowed to go home, on giving
his word of honour, or 'parole,' that he would take no
further part in the war until some Austrian prisoner, of
the same rank as his own, was given back by the French
in exchange. While still on parole he was promoted to be
a brigadier, so that he could command more than a single
regiment. In due time, when proper exchange of prisoners
was made, Montcalm went back to Italy, again fought
splendidly, and again was badly wounded. The year 1748
closed with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle; and seven
years of peace followed before the renewed tumult of the
Seven Years' War.

Life went very well with Montcalm at Candiac. He was
there as much as possible, and spent his time between
his castle and his olive groves, his study and his family
circle. His eldest son was a young man of much promise,
growing immensely tall, devoted to the army, and engaged
to be married. His wife and her mother-in-law were as
happy as ever with him and with each other. Nothing seemed
more peaceful than that quiet corner in the pleasant land
of southern France.

But the age-long rivalry of French and British could not
long be stilled. Even in 1754 there were rumours of war
from the Far East in India and from the Far West in
Canada. Next year, though peace was outwardly kept in
Europe, both the great rivals sent fleets and armies to
America, where the clash of arms had already been heard.
There were losses on both sides. And, when the French
general, Baron Dieskau, was made prisoner, the minister of
War, knowing the worth of Montcalm, asked him to think over
the proposal that he should take command in New France.

On January 26, 1756, the formal offer came in a letter
approved by the king. 'The king has chosen you to command
his troops in North America, and will honour you on your
departure with the rank of major-general. But what will
please you still more is that His Majesty will put your
son in your place at the head of your present regiment.
The applause of the public will add to your satisfaction.'

On the very day Montcalm received this letter he made up
his mind, accepted the command, bade good-bye to Candiac,
and set out for Paris. From Lyons he wrote to his mother:
'I am reading with much pleasure the History of New France
by Father Charlevoix. He gives a pleasant description of
Quebec.' From Paris he wrote to his wife: 'Do not expect
any long letter before the 1st of March. All my pressing
work will then be finished, and I shall be able to breathe
once more. Last night I came from Versailles and I am
going back to-morrow. My outfit will cost me a thousand
crowns more than the amount I am paid to cover it. But
I cannot stop for that.' On March 15 he wrote home:
'Yesterday I presented my son, with whom I am very well
pleased, to all the royal family.' Three days later he
wrote to his wife: 'I shall be at Brest on the twenty-first.
My son has been here since yesterday, for me to coach
him and also in order to get his uniform properly made.
He will thank the king for his promotion at the same time
that I make my adieux in my embroidered coat. Perhaps I
shall leave some debts behind me. I wait impatiently for
the accounts. You have my will. I wish you would have it
copied, and would send me the duplicate before I sail.'

On April 3 Montcalm left Brest in the Licorne, a ship of
the little fleet which the French were hurrying out to
Canada before war should be declared in Europe. The
passage proved long and stormy. But Montcalm was lucky
in being a much better sailor than his great opponent
Wolfe. Impatient to reach the capital at the earliest
possible moment he rowed ashore from below the island of
Orleans, where the Licorne met a contrary wind, and drove
up to Quebec, a distance of twenty-five miles. It was
May 13 when he first passed along the Beauport shore
between Montmorency and Quebec. Three years and nine days
later he was to come back to that very point, there to
make his last heroic stand.

On the evening of his arrival Bigot the intendant gave
a magnificent dinner-party for him. Forty guests sat down
to the banquet. Montcalm had not expected that the poor
struggling colony could boast such a scene as this. In
a letter home he said: 'Even a Parisian would have been
astonished at the profusion of good things on the table.
Such splendour and good cheer show how much the intendant's
place is worth.' We shall soon hear more of Bigot the

On the 26th Montcalm arrived at Montreal to see the
Marquis of Vaudreuil the governor. The meeting went off
very well. The governor was as full of airs and graces
as the intendant, and said that nothing else in the world
could have given him so much pleasure as to greet the
general sent out to take command of the troops from
France. We shall soon hear more of Vaudreuil the governor.



The French colonies in North America consisted of nothing
more than two very long and very thin lines of scattered
posts and settlements, running up the St Lawrence and
the Mississippi to meet, in the far interior, at the
Great Lakes. Along the whole of these four thousand miles
there were not one hundred thousand people. Only two
parts of the country were really settled at all: one
Acadia, the other the shores of the St Lawrence between
Bic and Montreal; and both regions together covered not
more than four hundred of the whole four thousand miles.
There were but three considerable towns--Louisbourg,
Quebec, and Montreal--and Quebec, which was much the
largest, had only twelve thousand inhabitants.

The territory bordering on the Mississippi was called
Louisiana. That in the St Lawrence region was called New
France along the river and Acadia down by the Gulf; though
Canada is much the best word to cover both. Now, Canada
had ten times as many people as Louisiana; and Louisiana
by itself seemed helplessly weak. This very weakness made
the French particularly anxious about the country south
of the Lakes, where Canada and Louisiana met. For, so
long as they held it, they held the gateways of the West,
kept the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi quite
securely, shut up the British colonies between the
Alleghany Mountains and the Atlantic and prevented them
from expanding westward. One other thing was even more
vital than this to the French in America: it was that
they should continue to hold the mouth of the St Lawrence.
Canada could live only by getting help from France; and
as this help could not come up the Mississippi it had to
come up the St Lawrence.

The general position of the French may be summed up
briefly. First, and most important of all, they had to
hold the line of the St Lawrence for a thousand miles in
from the sea. Here were their three chief positions:
Louisbourg, Quebec, and Lake Champlain.

Secondly, they had to hold another thousand miles westward,
to and across the Lakes; but especially the country south
of Lakes Ontario and Erie, into the valley of the Ohio.
Here there were a few forts, but no settlements worth
speaking of.

Thirdly, they had to hold the valley of the Mississippi,
two thousand miles from north to south. Here there were
very few forts, very few men, and no settlements of any
kind. In fact, they held the Mississippi only by the
merest thread, and chiefly because the British colonies
had not yet grown out in that direction. The Mississippi
did not come into the war, though it might have done so.
If Montcalm had survived the battle of the Plains, and
if in 1760 the defence of Canada on the St Lawrence had
seemed to him utterly hopeless, his plan would probably
then have been to take his best soldiers from Canada into
the interior, and in the end to New Orleans, there to
make a last desperate stand for France among the swamps.
But this plan died with him; and we may leave the valley
of the Mississippi out of our reckoning altogether.

Not so the valley of the Ohio, which, as we have seen,
was the meeting-place of Canada and Louisiana, and the
chief gateway to the West; and which the French and
British rivals were both most fiercely set on possessing.
It was here that the world-wide Seven Years' War first
broke out; here that George Washington first appeared as
an American commander; here that Braddock led the first
westbound British army; and here that Montcalm struck
his first blow for French America.

But, as we have also seen, even the valley of the Ohio
was less important than the line of the St Lawrence. The
Ohio region was certainly the right arm of French America.
But the St Lawrence was the body, of which the lungs were
Louisbourg, and the head and heart Quebec. Montcalm saw
this at once; and he made no single mistake in choosing
the proper kind of attack and defence during the whole
of his four campaigns.

The British colonies were different in every way from
the French. The French held a long, thin line of four
thousand miles, forming an inland loop from the Gulf of
St Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico, with only one hundred
thousand people sparsely settled in certain spots; the
British filled up the solid inside of this loop with over
twelve hundred thousand people, who had an open seaboard
on the Atlantic for two thousand miles, from Nova Scotia
down to Florida.

Now, what could have made such a great difference in
growth between the French and the British colonies, when
France had begun with all the odds of European force and
numbers in her favour? The answer is two-fold: France
had no adequate fleets and her colonies had no adequate

First, as to fleets. The mere fact that the Old and New
Worlds had a sea between them meant that the power with
the best navy would have a great advantage. The Portuguese,
Spaniards, Dutch, and French all tried to build empires
across the sea. But they all failed whenever they came
to blows with Britain, simply because no empire can live
cut up into separate parts. The sea divided the other
empires, while, strange as it may appear, this same sea
united the British. The French were a nation of landsmen;
for one very good reason that they had two land frontiers
to defend. Their kings and statesmen understood armies
better than navies, and the French people themselves liked
soldiers better than sailors. The British, on the other
hand, since they lived on an island, had no land frontiers
to defend. The people liked sailors better than soldiers.
And their rulers understood navies better than armies,
for the sea had always been the people's second home.

At this period, whenever war broke out, the British navy
was soon able to win 'the command of the sea'; that is,
its squadrons soon made the sea a safe road for British
ships and a very unsafe road for the ships of an enemy.
In America, at that time, everything used in war, from
the regular fleets and armies themselves down to the
powder and shot, cannon and muskets, swords and bayonets,
tools, tents, and so on--all had to be brought across
the Atlantic. While this was well enough for the British,
for the French it was always very hard and risky work. In
time of war their ships were watched, chased and taken
whenever they appeared on the sea. Even during peace they
had much the worse of it, for they had to spend great sums
and much effort in building vessels to make up for the
men of-war and the merchant ships which they had lost and
the British had won. Thus they never quite succeeded in
beginning again on even terms with their triumphant rival.

We must remember, too, that every sort of trade and
money-making depended on the command of the sea, which
itself depended on the stronger navy. Even the trade with
Indians in America, two thousand miles inland, depended
on defeat or victory at sea. The French might send out
ships full of things to exchange for valuable furs. But
if they lost their ships they lost their goods, and in
consequence the trade and even the friendship of the
Indians. In the same way the navy helped or hindered the
return trade from America to Europe. The furs and food
from the British colonies crossed over in safety, and
the money or other goods in exchange came safely back.
But the French ships were not safe, and French merchants
were often ruined by the capture of their ships or by
having the sea closed to them.

To follow out all the causes and effects of the command
of the sea would be far too long a story even to begin
here. But the gist of it is quite short and quite plain:
no Navy, no Empire. That is what it meant then, and that
is what it means now.

Secondly, as to freedom in the French colonies. Of course,
freedom itself, no matter how good it is and how much we
love it, would have been nothing without the protection
of fleets. All the freedom in the world cannot hold two
countries on opposite sides of the sea together without
the link of strong fleets. But even the strongest fleet
would not have helped New France to grow as fast and as
well as New England grew. The French people were not free
in the motherland. They were not free as colonists in
Canada. All kinds of laws and rules were made for the
Canadians by persons thousands of miles away. This
interference came from men who knew scarcely anything
about Canada. They had crude notions as to what should
be done, and sometimes they ordered the men on the spot
to do impossible things. The result was that the men on
the spot, if they were bad enough and clever enough, just
hoodwinked the government in France, and did in Canada
what they liked and what made for their own profit.

Now, Bigot the intendant, the man of affairs in the
colony, was on the spot; and he was one of the cleverest
knaves ever known, with a feeble colony in his power. He
had nothing to fear from the people, the poor, helpless
French Canadians. He had nothing to fear from their
governor, the vain, incompetent Vaudreuil. He was,
moreover, three thousand miles away from the French court,
which was itself full of parasites. He had been given
great power in Canada. As intendant he was the head of
everything except the army, the navy, and the church. He
had charge of all the public money and all the public
works and whatever else might be called public business.
Of course, he was supposed to look after the interests
of France and of Canada, not after his own; and earlier
intendants like Talon had done this with perfect honesty.
But Bigot soon organized a gang of men like himself, and
gathered into his grasping hands the control of the
private as well as of the public business.

One example will show how he worked. Whenever food became
dangerously scarce in Canada the intendant's duty was to
buy it up, to put it into the king's stores, and to sell
out only enough for the people to live on till the danger
was over. There was a reason for this, as Canada, cut
off from France, was like a besieged fortress, and it
was proper to treat the people as a garrison would be
treated, and to make provision for the good of the whole.
But when Bigot had formed his gang, and had, in some way,
silenced Vaudreuil, he declared Canada in danger when it
was not, seized all the food he could lay hands on, and
sent it over to France; sent it, too, in the king's ships,
that it might be carried free. Then he made Vaudreuil
send word to the king that Canada was starving. In the
meantime, his friends in France had stored the food, and
had then assured the king that there was plenty of grain
in hand which they could ship to Canada at once. The next
step was to get an order from the king to buy this food
to be shipped to Canada. This order was secured through
influential friends in Paris, and, of course, the price
paid by the king was high. The food was then sent back
to Canada, again in the king's ships. Then Bigot and his
friends in Canada put it not into the king's but into
their own stores in Quebec, sold it to the king's stores
once more, as they had sold it in France, and then effected
a third sale, this time to the wretched French Canadians
from whom they had bought it for next to nothing at first.
Thus both the king and the French Canadians were each
robbed twice over, thanks to Vaudreuil's complaisance and
Bigot's official position as also representing the king.

Bigot had been some time in Canada before Vaudreuil
arrived as governor in 1755. He had already cheated a
good deal. But it was only when he found out what sort
of man Vaudreuil was that he set to work to do his worst.
Bigot was a knave, Vaudreuil a fool. Vaudreuil was a
French Canadian born and very jealous of any one from
France, unless the Frenchman flattered him as Bigot did.
He loved all sorts of pomp and show, and thought himself
the greatest man in America. Bigot played on this weakness
with ease and could persuade him to sign any orders, no
matter how bad they were.

Now, when an owl like Vaudreuil and a fox like Bigot were
ruining Canada between them, they were anything but
pleased to see a lion like Montcalm come out with an army
from France. Vaudreuil, indeed, had done all he could to
prevent the sending out of Montcalm. He wrote to France
several times, saying that no French general was needed,
that separate regiments under their own colonels would
suffice, and that he himself could command the regulars
from France, just as he did the Canadians.

But how did he command the Canadians? By law every Canadian
had to serve as a soldier, without pay, whenever the
country was in danger. By law every man needed for carrying
supplies to the far-off outposts could also be taken;
but, in this case, he had to be paid. Now, all the supplies
and the carriage of them were under Bigot's care. So when
the Canadians were called out as soldiers, without pay,
Bigot's gang would ask them if they would rather go and
be shot for nothing or carry supplies in safety for pay.
Of course, they chose the carrier's work and the pay,
though half the pay was stolen from them. At the same
time their names were still kept on the muster rolls as
soldiers. This was the reason why Montcalm often had only
half the militia called out for him: the other half were
absent as carriers, and the half which remained for
Montcalm was made up of those men whom Bigot's friends
did not think good enough for carriers.

But there were more troubles still for Montcalm and his
army. As governor, Vaudreuil was, of course, the head of
everything in the country, including the army. This was
right enough, if he had been fit for his post, because
a country must have a supreme head, and the army is only
a part, though the most important part, in war. A soldier
may be also a statesman and at the head of everything,
as were Cromwell, Napoleon, and Frederick the Great. But
a statesman who is not a soldier only ruins an army if
he tries to command it himself. And this was precisely
what Vaudreuil did. Indeed, he did worse, for, while he
did not go into the field himself, he continued to give
orders to Montcalm at every turn. Besides, instead of
making all the various forces on the French side into
one army he kept them as separate as he could--five parts
and no whole.

It should be made clear what these five parts were. First,
there were the French regulars, the best of all, commanded
by Montcalm, who was himself under Vaudreuil. Next, there
were the Canadian regulars and the Canadian militia, both
directly under Vaudreuil. Then there were the French
sailors, under their own officers, but subject to Vaudreuil.
Montcalm had to report to the minister of War in Paris
about the French regulars, and to the minister of Marine
about the Canadians of both kinds. Vaudreuil reported to
both ministers, usually against Montcalm; and the French
naval commander reported to his own minister on his own
account. So there was abundant opportunity to make trouble
among the four French forces. But there was more trouble
still with the fifth force, the Indians, who were under
their own chiefs. These men admired Montcalm; but they
had to make treaties with Vaudreuil. They were cheated
by Bigot and were offered presents by the British. As
they very naturally desired to keep their own country
for themselves in their own way they always wished to
side with the stronger of the two white rivals, if they
could not get rid of both.

Such was the Canada of 1756, a country in quite as much
danger from French parasites as from British patriots.
It might have lasted for some years longer if there had
been no general war. The American colonists, though more
than twelve to one, could not have conquered it alone,
because they had no fleet and no regular army. But the
war came, and it was a great one. In a great war a country
of parasites has no chance against a country of patriots.
All the sins of sloth and wilful weakness, of demagogues
and courtiers, and whatever else is rotten in the state,
are soon found out and punished by war. Canada under
Vaudreuil and Bigot was no match for an empire under
Pitt. For one's own parasites are always the worst of
one's enemies. So the last great fight for Canada was
not a fight of three against three; but of one against
five. Montcalm the lion stood utterly alone, with two
secret foes behind him and three open foes in front--
Vaudreuil the owl, and Bigot the fox, behind; Pitt,
Saunders and Wolfe, three lions like himself, in front.



In 1753 the governor of Virginia had sent Washington,
then a young major of only twenty-one, to see what the
French were doing in the valley of the Ohio, where they
had been busy building forts to shut the gateway of the
West against the British and to keep it open for themselves.
The French officers at a post which they called Venango
received Washington very politely and asked him to supper.
Washington wrote in his diary that, after they had drunk
a good deal of wine, 'they told me that it was their
absolute design to take possession of the Ohio, and by
God they would do it.' When Washington had returned home
and reported, the Virginians soon sent him back with a
small force to turn the French out. But meanwhile the
French had been making themselves much stronger, and on
July 4, 1754, when Washington advanced into the disputed
territory, he was overcome and obliged to surrender--a
strange Fourth of July for him to look back upon!

Exciting events followed rapidly. In 1755 Braddock came
out from England with a small army of regulars to take
command of the British forces in America and drive the
French from the Ohio valley. But there were many
difficulties. The governments of the thirteen British
colonies were jealous of each other and of the government
in Britain; their militia were jealous of the British
regulars, who in turn looked down on them. In the end,
with only a few Virginians to assist him, Braddock marched
into a country perfectly new to him and his men. The
French and Indians, quite at home in the dense forest,
laid an ambush for the British regulars. These stood
bravely, but they could not see a single enemy to fire
at. They were badly defeated, and Braddock was killed.
The British had a compensating success a few weeks later
when, in the centre of Canada, beside Lake George, the
French general, Baron Dieskau, was defeated almost as
badly as Braddock had been. Following this, down by the
Gulf the French Acadians were rooted out of Nova Scotia,
for fear that they might join the other French in the
coming war. Their lot was a hard one, but as they had
been British subjects for forty years and had always
refused to take the oath of allegiance to the British
crown, and as they were being constantly stirred up
against British rule, it was decided that they could not
be safely left inside the British frontier.

At sea the French had also suffered loss. Admiral Boscawen
had seized two ships with four hundred seasoned French
regulars on board destined for Canada. The French then
sent out another four hundred to replace them. But no
veteran soldiers could be spared. So the second four
hundred, raised from all sorts of men, were of poor
quality, and spoiled the discipline of the regiments they
joined in Canada. One of the regiments, which had the
worst of these recruits, proved to be the least trust.
worthy in the final struggle before Quebec in 1759. Thus
the power of the British navy in the Gulf of St Lawrence
in 1755 made itself felt four years later, and a long
distance away, at the very crisis of the war on land.

Strange as it seems to us now, all this fighting had
taken place in a time of nominal peace. But in 1756 the
Seven Years' War broke out in Europe, and then many plans
were made, especially in the English colonies in America,
for the conquest of Canada. The British forces were
greater than the French, all told on both sides, both
then and throughout the war. But the thirteen colonies
could not agree. Some of them were hot, others lukewarm,
others, such as the Quakers of Pennsylvania, cold.
Moreover, the British generals were of little use, and
the colonial ones squabbled as the colonies themselves
squabbled. Pitt had not yet taken charge of the war,
and the British in America were either doing nothing
or doing harm.

There was only one trained and competent general on the
whole continent; and that general was Montcalm. Though
new to warfare in the wilds he soon understood it as well
as those who had waged it all their lives; and he saw at
a glance that an attack on Oswego was the key to the
whole campaign. Louisbourg was, as yet, safe enough; and
the British movements against Lake Champlain were so slow
and foolish that he turned them to good account for his
own purposes.

At the end of June, 1756, Montcalm arrived at Ticonderoga,
where he had already posted his second-in-command, the
Chevalier de Levis, with 3,000 men. He walked all over
the country thereabouts and seized the lie of the land
so well that he knew it thoroughly when he came back,
two years later, and won his greatest victory. He kept
his men busy too. He moved them forward so boldly and so
cleverly that the British who had been planning the
capture of the fort never thought of attacking him, but
made sure only of defending themselves. All this was but
a feint to put the British off their guard elsewhere.
Suddenly, while Levis kept up the show of force, Montcalm
himself left secretly for Montreal, saw Vaudreuil, who,
like Bigot, was still all bows and smiles, and left again,
with equal suddenness, for Fort Frontenac (now Kingston)
on July 21. From this point he intended to attack Oswego.

At the entrance to the Thousand Islands there was a point,
called by the voyageurs Point Baptism, where every
new-comer into the 'Upper Countries' had to pay the old
hands to drink his health. The French regulars, 1,300
strong, were all new to the West, and, as they formed
nearly half of Montcalm's little army, the 'baptism' of
so many newcomers caused a great deal of jollity in camp
that night. Serious work was, however, ahead. Fort
Frontenac was reached on the 29th; and here the report
that Villiers, with the advance guard, had already taken
from the British 200 canoes and 300 prisoners soon flew
round and raised the men's spirits to the highest pitch.

Montcalm at once sent out two armed ships, with
twenty-eight cannon between them, to cut off Oswego
by water, while he sent a picked body of Canadians and
Indians into the woods on the south shore to cut the
place off by land. There was no time to lose, since the
British were, on the whole, much stronger, and might make
up their slow minds to send an army to the rescue. Montcalm
lost not a moment. He sailed across the lake with his
3,000 men and all his guns and stores, and landed at
Sackett's Harbour, which his advance guard had already
seized and prepared. Then, hiding in the mouths of rivers
by day and marching and rowing by night, his army arrived
safely within cannon-shot of Oswego under cover of the
dark on August 10.

There were three forts at the mouth of the Oswego. The
first was Fort Ontario; then, across the river, stood
Fort Oswego; and, beyond that again, little Fort George.
These forts were held by about 1,800 British, mostly
American colonists, with 123 guns of all kinds.

While it was still dark Montcalm gave out his orders. At
the first streak of dawn the Indians and Canadians were
in position to protect the engineers and working parties.
Only one accident marred the success of the opening day.
One of the French engineers was returning to camp through
the woods at dusk, when an Indian, mistaking him for an
enemy, shot him dead. It is said that this Indian felt
so sorry for what he had done that he vowed to avenge
the engineer's loss on the British, and did not stop
scalp-hunting during the rest of the war; but went on
until he had lifted as many as thirty scalps from the
hated British heads. In the meantime, other engineers
had traced out the road from the bay to the battery. Led
by their officers the French regulars set to work with
such goodwill that the road was ready next day for the
siege train of twenty-two cannon, now landed in the nick
of time.

Every part of the siege was made to fit in perfectly with
every other part. While the guns were being landed, the
British, who had only just taken alarm, sent round two
armed vessels to stop this work. But Montcalm had placed
a battery all ready to beat off an attack, and the landing
went on like clock-work. The next day, again, the soldiers
were as busy as bees round the doomed British forts.
Canadians and Indians filled the woods. Canadians and
French hauled the cannon up to the battery commanding
Fort Ontario, but left them hidden near by till after
dark. The engineers made the first parallel. French troops
raised the battery; and at daylight the next morning it
was ready. Fort Ontario kept up an active fire, at a
distance of only a musket shot, two hundred yards; but
the French fire was so furious that the British guns were
silenced the same afternoon.

Colonel Mercer, the British commander, called in the
garrison, who abandoned Fort Ontario and crossed the
river after spiking the guns. Without a moment's delay
Montcalm seized the fort and kept his working parties
hauling guns all night long. In the morning Fort Oswego
on the other side of the river was commanded by a heavier
battery than the one that had taken Fort Ontario the day
before. More than this, the Canadians and Indians had
crossed the river and had cut off the little Fort George,
half a mile beyond. There was a stiff fight for it, but
Mercer's men were driven off into the other fort with
considerable loss.

Montcalm's new battery beside the river was on higher
ground than Fort Oswego, which was only five hundred
yards away. At six o'clock it opened fire and ploughed
up the whole area of the fort with terrible effect. Hardly
a spot was left which the French shells did not search
out. The British reply, fired uphill, soon began to
falter. The French fire was redoubled. Colonel Mercer
was killed by a cannon ball, and this, of course, weakened
the British defence, The second-in-command kept up the
unequal fight for another couple of hours. Then, finding
that he could not induce his men to face the murderous
fire any longer, and seeing his fort cut off by land and
water, he ran up the white flag.

Montcalm gave him an hour to surrender both fort and
garrison. Again there was no time to lose, and again
Montcalm lost none. That morning a letter found on a
British messenger showed that Colonel Webb, with 2,000
men, was somewhere up the river Oswego waiting for news.
So, while Montcalm was attacking the fort with his
batteries, he was also preparing his army to attack Webb.
He did not intend to wait; but to march out and meet the
new enemy, so as not to be caught between two fires.

At eleven the fort surrendered with 1,600 prisoners, 123
cannon, powder, shot, stores and provisions of all kinds;
5 armed ships and 200 boats. There was also a large
quantity of wine and rum, which Montcalm at once spilt
into the lake, lest the Indians should get hold of it
and in their drunken frenzy begin a massacre. As it was,
they were anything but pleased to find that he was
conducting the war on European principles, and that he
would not let them scalp the sick and wounded British.
Some of them sneaked in and, in the first confusion, took
a few scalps. But Montcalm was among them at once and
stopped them short. He had been warned not to offend
them; and so he promised them rich presents if they would
behave properly. In his dispatch to the minister of War
he said: 'I am afraid my promises will cost ten thousand
francs; but the keeping of them will attach the Indians
more to our side. In any case, there is nothing I would
not have done to prevent any breach of faith with the

In a single week every part of all three forts was
levelled with the ground. This delighted the Indians more
than anything else, for they rightly feared that any
British advance in this direction would be sure to end
in their being driven out of their own country. By August
21, ten days from the time the first shot was fired,
Montcalm was leading his victorious army back to Montreal.

The news spread like wildfire. No such sudden, complete,
and surprising victory had ever before been won in the
West. The name and fame of Montcalm ran along the war-paths
of the endless forest and passed from mouth to mouth over
ten thousand leagues of inland waters. In one short summer
the magic of that single word, Montcalm, became as great
in America as it had been for centuries in France. The
whole face of the war was changed. At the beginning of
the year the British had thought of nothing but attack.
Then, when Montcalm had shown them so bold a front at
Ticonderoga, they had paused to make sure. Now, after
Oswego, they thought of nothing but defence.

People could hardly believe that one and the same man
had in July checked the threatened British invasion at
Lake Champlain and in August had taken the stronghold of
British power on Lake Ontario. Every step of the way had
to be covered by force of the men's own legs and arms,
marching, paddling, hauling, carrying. In short, Montcalm
had moved a whole army, siege train and all, as fast
through the wilderness without horses as another army
would have been moved over good roads in Europe with
them. The wonder grew when the numbers became known. With
3,000 men and 22 guns Montcalm had taken three forts with
a garrison of 1,800 men and 123 guns; and had done this
in face of five armed British vessels against his own
two, and in spite of the fact that 2,000 more British
soldiers were close behind him in the forest.

Canada burst into great rejoicings. All the churches sang
Te Deum. The five captured flags were carried in triumph
through Montreal, Three Rivers, and Quebec. In France
the news was received with great jubilation, and many of
Montcalm's officers gained promotion. In the midst of
all this glory Montcalm was busy looking after the health
and comfort of his men, seeing that the Canadians were
sent home as soon as possible to gather in their harvest,
and engaging the Indians to join him for a still greater
war next year. Nor did he forget any one who had done
him faithful service. He asked, as a special favour, that
an old sergeant, Marcel, who had come out as his orderly
and clerk, should be made a captain. Marcel had thus good
reason never to forget Montcalm. It was his hand that
wrote the last letter which Montcalm ever dictated and
signed, the one to the British commander after the battle
of the Plains, the one which admitted the ultimate failure
of all Montcalm's heroic work.

Another man whom Montcalm specially praised was
Bougainville, his aide-de-camp, of whom we shall hear
again very often. Bougainville, though still under thirty,
was already a well-known man of science who had been made
a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. 'You could hardly
believe how full of resource he is,' wrote the admiring
Montcalm, who then added modestly: 'As the account of
this expedition may be printed I have asked him to correct
it carefully, because he writes much better than I do.'

Only one thing spoiled the triumph; and that was the
jealousy of Vaudreuil, who tried to claim all the credit
of making the plan for himself and the credit of carrying
it out for the Canadians. Certainly he had been saying
for some time before Montcalm arrived that Oswego ought
to be taken. Everybody on both sides knew perfectly well,
however, that Oswego was the gateway of the West; so
Vaudreuil was not a bit wiser than many others. In a way
he did make the plan. But Montcalm was the one who really
worked it out. Vaudreuil pressed the button that launched
the ship. It was Montcalm who took her into action and
brought her out victorious.

Montcalm's crew worked well together. But this did not
suit Vaudreuil at all. He wrote both to the minister of
War and to the minister of Marine in France, praising
the Canadians and Indians and making as little as possible
of the work of the French. 'The French regulars showed
their wonted zeal; but the enemy did not give them a
chance to do much work.' 'Our troops, the Canadians and
Indians, fought with courage. They have all done very
well.' True enough. But, all the same, the regulars were,
from first to last, the backbone of the defence of Canada.
'The measures I took made our victory certain. If I had
been less firm, Oswego would still have been in the hands
of the British. I cannot sufficiently congratulate myself
on the zeal which my brother [an officer in the Canadian
service] and the Canadians and Indians showed. Without
them my orders would have been given in vain.' And so
on, and so on.

Montcalm saw the real strength and weakness of the
Canadians and wrote his own opinion to the minister of
War. 'Our French regulars did all I required with splendid
zeal. ... I made good use of the militia, but not at the
works exposed to the enemy's fire. These militiamen have
no discipline. In six months I could make grenadiers of
them. But at present I would not rely on them, nor believe
what they say about themselves; for they think themselves
quite the finest fellows in the world. The governor is
a native of Canada, was married here, and is surrounded
by his relatives on all sides.'

The fact is that the war was no longer an affair of little
raids, first on one side and then on the other, but was
becoming, more and more, a war on a great scale, with
long campaigns, larger numbers of men, trains of artillery,
fortifications, and all the other things that require
well-drilled troops who have thoroughly learned the
soldier's duty, and are ready to do it at any time and
in any place. War is like everything else in the world.
The men whose regular business it is will wage it better
than the men who only do it as an odd job. Of course, if
the best men are chosen for the militia, and the worst
are turned into regulars, the militia may beat the
regulars, even on equal terms. If, too, regulars are set
down in a strange country, quite unlike the one in which
they have been trained to fight, naturally they will begin
by making a good many mistakes. But, for all-round work,
the same men, as regulars, are worth much more than twice
what they are worth as militia, everywhere and always.



In January Montcalm paid a visit to Quebec, and there
began to see how Bigot and his fellow-vampires were
sucking away the life-blood of Canada. 'The intendant
lives in grandeur, and has given two splendid balls,
where I have seen over eighty very charming and
well-dressed ladies. I think Quebec is a town of very
good style, and I do not believe we have a dozen cities
in France that could rank before it as a social centre.'
This was well enough; though not when armies were only
half-fed. But here is the real crime: 'The intendant's
strong taste for gambling, and the governor's weakness
in letting him have his own way, are causing a great deal
of play for very high stakes. Many officers will repent
it soon and bitterly.' Montcalm was placed in a most
awkward position. He wished to stop the ruinous gambling.
But he was under Vaudreuil, had no power over the intendant,
and, as he said himself, 'felt obliged not to oppose
either of them in public, because they were invested with
the king's authority.'

Vaudreuil nearly did Canada a very good turn this winter,
by falling ill on his way to Montreal. But, luckily for
the British and unluckily for the French, he recovered.
On February 14 he began hatching more mischief. The
British, having been stopped in the West at Oswego, were
certain to try another advance, in greater force, by the
centre, up Lake Champlain. The French, with fewer men
and very much less provisions and stores of all kinds,
could hope to win only by giving the British another
sudden, smashing blow and then keeping them in check for
the rest of the summer. The whole strength of Canada was
needed to give this blow, and every pound of food was
precious. Vaudreuil, however, was planning to take separate
action on his own account. He organized a raid under his
brother, Rigaud, without telling Montcalm a word about
it till the whole plan was made, even though the raid
required the use of some of the French regulars, who
were, in an especial degree, under Montcalm's command.
Montcalm told Vaudreuil that it was a pity not to keep
their whole strength for one decisive dash, and that, if
this raid was to take place at all, Levis or some other
regular French officer high in rank should be in command.

Vaudreuil, however, adhered to his own plan. This time
there was to be no question of credit for anyone but
Canadians, Indians, Vaudreuil himself, and his brother.
As for making sure of victory by taking, as Montcalm
advised, a really strong force: well, Vaudreuil would
trust to luck, hit or miss, as he always had trusted
before. And a strange stroke of luck very nearly did
serve his unworthy turn. For, on March 17, when the 1,600
raiders were drawing quite close to Fort William Henry,
most of the little British garrison of 400 men were
drinking so much New England rum in honour of St Patrick's
Day that their muskets would have hurt friends more than
foes if an attack had been made that night. Next evening
the French crept up, hoping to surprise the place. But
the sentries were once more alert. Through the silence
they heard a tapping noise on the lake, which turned out
to be made by a Canadian who was trying the strength of
the ice with the back of his axe to see if it would bear.
This led to a brisk defence. When the French advanced
over the ice the British gunners sent such a hail of
grape-shot crashing along this precarious foothold that
the enemy were glad to scamper off as hard as their legs
would take them.

The French did not abandon their attempt, however, and
two days later Vaudreuil's brother arrayed his 1,600 men
against the fort and summoned it to surrender. As he had
no guns the garrison would not listen to him. Rigaud then
proceeded to burn what he could outside the fort. He
certainly made a splendid bonfire; the wild, red flames
leaped into the sky from the open, snow-white clearings
beside the fort, with the long, white reaches of Lake
George in front and the dark, densely wooded hills all
round. A great deal was burnt: four small ships, 350
boats, a sawmill, sheds, magazines, immense piles of
firewood, and a large supply of provisions. But the
British could afford this loss much better than the French
could afford the cost of the raid. And the cost, of
course, was five times as great as it ought to have been.
Bigot's gang took care of that.

Then the raiders, unable to take the fort, set out for
home on snow-shoes. There had been a very heavy snowstorm
before they started, and the spring sun was now shining
full on the glaring white snow. Many of them, even among
the Canadians and Indians, were struck snowblind so badly
that they had to be led by the hand--no easy thing on
snow-shoes. At the end of March they were safely back in
Montreal, where Vaudreuil and his brother went strutting
about like a pair of turkey-cocks.

Montcalm's first Canadian winter wore away. Vaudreuil
and Bigot still kept up an outward politeness in all
their relations with him. But they were beginning to fear
that he was far too wise and honest for them. He was,
however, under Vaudreuil's foolish orders and he had no
power to check Bigot's knaveries. Much against his will
he was already getting into debt, and was thus rendered
even more helpless. Vaudreuil, as governor, had plenty
of money. Bigot stole as much as he wished. But Montcalm
was not well paid. Yet, as the commander-in-chief, he
had to be asking people to dinners and receptions almost
every day, while becoming less and less able to meet the
expense. The Bigot gang made provisions so scarce and so
dear that only the thieves themselves could pay for them.
Well might the sorely tried general write home: 'What a
country, where knaves grow rich and honest men are ruined!'

In June there was such a sight in Montreal as Canada had
never seen before, and never saw again. During the autumn,
the winter, and the spring, messengers had been going
along every warpath and waterway, east and west for
thousands of miles, to summon the tribes to meet Onontio;
as they called the French governor, at Montreal. The ice
had hardly gone in April when the first of the braves
began to arrive in flotillas of bark canoes. The surrender
of Washington at Fort Necessity and the capture and
rebuilding of Fort Duquesne in 1754, the bloody defeat
of Braddock in 1755, and Montcalm's sudden, smashing blow
against Oswego in 1756, all had led the western Indians
to think that the French were everything and the British
nothing. In Canada itself the Indians were equally sure
that the French were going to be the victors there; while
in the east, in far Acadia, the Abnakis were as bitter
as the Acadians themselves against the British. So now,
whether eager for more victories or thirsting for revenge,
the warriors came to Montreal from far and near.

Fifty-one of the tribes were ready for the warpath. Their
chiefs had sat in grave debate round the council fires.
Their medicine men had made charms in secret wigwams and
seen visions of countless British scalps and piles of
British booty. Accordingly, when the braves of these
fifty-one tribes met at Montreal, there was war in every
heart among them. No town in the world had ever shown
more startling contrasts in its streets. Here, side by
side, were outward signs of the highest civilization and
of the lowest barbarism. Here were the most refined of
ladies, dressed in the latest Paris fashions, mincing
about in silks and satins and high-heeled, golden-buckled
shoes. Here were the most courtly gentlemen of Europe,
in the same embroidered and beruffled uniforms that they
would have worn before the king of France. Yet in and
out of this gay throng of polite society went hundreds
of copper-coloured braves; some of them more than
half-naked; most of them ready, after a victory, to be
cannibals who revelled in stews of white man's flesh;
all of them decked in waving plumes, all of them grotesquely
painted, like demons in a nightmare, and all of them
armed to the teeth.

Much to Vaudreuil's disgust the man whom the Indians
wished most to see was not himself, the 'Great Onontio,'
much less Bigot, prince of thieves, but the warrior chief,
Montcalm. They had the good sense to prefer the lion to
the owl or the fox. Three hundred of the wildest Ottawas
came striding in one day, each man a model of agility
and strength, a living bronze, a sculptor's dream, the
whole making a picture for the brush of the greatest
painter. 'We want to see the chief who tramples the
British to death and sweeps their forts off the face of
the earth.' Montcalm, though every inch a soldier, was
rather short than tall; and at first the Ottawa chief
looked surprised. 'We thought your head would be lost in
the clouds,' he said. But then, as he caught Montcalm's
piercing glance, he added: 'Yet when we look into your
eyes, we see the height of the pine and the wings of the

Meanwhile, prisoners, scouts, and spies had been coming
in; so too had confidential dispatches from France
confirming the rumours that the greater part of the
British army was to attack Louisbourg, and that the French
were well able to defend it. With the British concentrating
their strength on Louisbourg a chance offered for another
Oswego-like blow against the British forts at the southern
end of Lake George if it could be made by July. But
Vaudreuil's raid in March, and Bigot's bill for it, had
eaten up so much of the supplies and money, that nothing
like a large force could be made ready to strike before
August; and the month's delay might give the militia of
the British colonies, slow as they were, time to be
brought up to the help of the forts.

Montcalm was now eager to strike the blow. Once clear of
Montreal and its gang of parasites, he soon had his motley
army in hand, in spite of all kinds of difficulties. In
May Bourlamaque had begun rebuilding Ticonderoga. In July
Lake Champlain began to swarm with boats, canoes, and
sailing vessels, all moving south towards the doomed fort
on Lake George. Montcalm's whole force numbered 8,000.
Of these 3,000 were regulars, 3,000 were militia, and
2,000 were Indians from the fifty-one different tribes,
very few of whom knew anything of war, except war as it
was carried on by savages. By the end of the month these
8,000 men were camped along the four miles of valley
between Lakes Champlain and George. Meanwhile the British
were at the other end of Lake George, little more than
thirty miles away. Their first post was Fort William
Henry, where they had 2,200 men under Colonel Monro.
Fourteen miles inland beyond that was Fort Edward, where
Webb commanded 3,600 men. There were goo more British
troops still farther on, but well within call, and it
was known that a large force of militia were being
assembled somewhere near Albany. Thus Montcalm knew that
the British already had nearly as many men as his own
regulars and militia put together, and that further levies
of militia might come on at any time and in any numbers.
He therefore had to strike as hard and fast as he could,
and then retire on Ticonderoga. He knew the Indians would
go home at once after the fight and also that he must
send the Canadians home in August to save their harvest.
Then he would be left with only 3,000 regulars, who could
not be fed for the rest of the summer so far from
headquarters. With this 3,000 he could not advance, in
any case, because of lack of food and because of the
presence of Webb's 4,500, increased by an unknown number
of American militia.

The first skirmish on Lake George was fought while the
main bodies of both armies were still at opposite ends.
A party of 400 Indians and 50 Canadians were paddling
south when they saw advancing on the lake a number of
British boats with 300 men, mostly raw militia from New
Jersey. The Indians went ashore and hid. The doomed
militiamen rowed on in careless, straggling disorder.
Suddenly, as they passed a wooded point, the calm air
was rent with blood-curdling war-whoops, and the lake
seemed alive with red-skinned fiends, who paddled in
among the British boats in one bewildering moment. The
militiamen were seized with a panic and tried to escape.
But they could not get away from the finest paddlers in
the world, who cut them off, upset their boats, tomahawked
some, and speared a good many others like fish in the
water. Only two boats, out of twenty-three, escaped to
tell the tale. That night the forest resounded with savage
yells of triumph as the prisoners, out of reach of all
help from either army, were killed and scalped to the
last man.

On August 1 Montcalm advanced by land and water. He sent
Levis by land with 3,000 men to cut Fort William Henry
off from Fort Edward, while he went himself, with the
rest of his army, by water in boats and canoes. The next
day they met at a little bay quite close to the fort. On
the 3rd the final advance was made. The French canoes
formed lines stretching right across the lake. While
the artillery was being landed in a cove out of reach of
the guns of the fort Levis was having a lively skirmish
with the British, who were trying to drive in their cattle
and save their tents. About 500 of them held the fort,
and 1,700 were in the entrenched camp some way beyond.

Montcalm sent in a summons to surrender. But old Colonel
Monro replied that he was ready to fight. On the 4th and
5th the French batteries rose as if by magic. But the
Indians, not used to the delay and the careful preparation
which a siege involves, soon grew angry and impatient,
and swarmed all over the French lines, asking why they
were ordered here and there and treated like slaves, why
their advice had not been sought, and why the big guns
were not being fired. Montcalm had been counselled to
humour them as much as possible and on no account whatever
to offend them. Their help was needed, and the British
were quite ready to win them over to their own side if
possible. Accordingly, on the afternoon of the 5th,
Montcalm held a grand 'pow-wow' with the savages. He told
them that the French had to be slow at first, but that
the very next day the big guns would begin to fire, and
that they would all be in the fight together. The fort
was timbered and made a good target. The Indians greeted
the first roar of the siege guns with yells of delight;
and when they saw shells bursting and scattering earth
and timbers in all directions they shrieked and whooped
so loudly that their savage voices woke almost as many
wild echoes along those beautiful shores as the thunder
of the guns themselves.

Presently a man came in to the French camp with a letter
addressed to Monro, which the Indians had found concealed
in a hollow bullet on a British messenger whom they had
killed. This letter was from Monro's superior officer,
General Webb, fourteen miles distant at Fort Edward. He
advised Monro to make the best terms possible with
Montcalm, as he did not feel strong enough to relieve
Fort William Henry. Montcalm stopped his batteries and
sent the letter in to Monro by Bougainville, with his
compliments. But Monro, while thanking him for his
courtesy, still said he should hold out to the last.

Montcalm now decided to bring matters to a head at once.
As yet his batteries were too far off to be effective,
and between them and the fort lay first a marsh and then
a little hill. By sheer hard work the French made a road
for their cannon across the marsh; and Monro saw, to his
horror, that Montcalm's new batteries were rising, in
spite of the British fire, right opposite the fort, on
top of the little hill, and only two hundred and fifty
yards away.

Monro knew he was lost. Smallpox was raging in the fort.
Webb would not move. Montcalm was able to knock the whole
place to pieces and destroy the garrison. On the 9th the
white flag went up. Montcalm granted the honours of war.
The British were to march off the next morning to Fort
Edward, carrying their arms, and under escort of a body
of French regulars. Every precaution was taken to keep
the Indians from committing any outrage. Montcalm assembled
them, told them the terms, and persuaded them to promise
obedience. He took care to keep all strong drink out of
their way, and asked Monro to destroy all the liquor in
the British fort and camp.

In spite of these precautions a dire tragedy followed.
While the garrison were marching out of the fort towards
their own camp, some Indians climbed in without being
seen and began to scalp the sick and wounded who were
left behind in charge of the French. The French guard,
hearing cries, rushed in and stopped the savages by force.
The British were partly to blame for this first outrage:
they had not poured out the rum, and the Indians had
stolen enough to make them drunk. Montcalm came down
himself, at the first alarm, and did his utmost. He seized
and destroyed all the liquor; and he arranged with two
chiefs from each tribe to be ready to start in the morning
with the armed British and their armed escort. He went
back to his tent only at nine o'clock, when everything
was quiet.

Much worse things happened the next morning. The British,
who had some women and children with them, and who still
kept a good deal of rum in their canteens, began to stir
much earlier than had been arranged. The French escort
had not arrived when the British column began to straggle
out on the road to Fort Edward. When the march began the
scattered column was two or three times as long as it
ought to have been. Meanwhile a savage enemy was on the
alert. Before daylight the Abnakis of Acadia, who hated
the British most of all, had slunk off unseen to prepare
an ambush for the first stragglers they could find. Other
Indians, who had appeared later, had begged for rum from
the British, who had given it in the hope that, in this
way, they might be got rid of. Suddenly, a war-whoop was
raised, a wild rush on the British followed, and a savage
massacre began. The British column, long and straggling
already, broke up, and the French escort could defend
only those who kept together. At the first news Montcalm
ordered out another guard, and himself rushed with all
his staff officers to the scene of outrage. They ran
every risk to save their prisoners from massacre. Several
French officers and soldiers were wounded by the savages,
and all did their best. The Canadians, on the other hand,
more hardened to Indian ways, simply looked on at the
wild scene. Most of the British were rescued and were
taken safely to Fort Edward. The French fired cannon from
Fort William Henry to guide fugitives back. Those not
massacred at once, but made prisoners by the Indians in
the woods, were in nearly all cases ransomed by Vaudreuil,
who afterwards sent them to Halifax in a French ship.

Such was the 'massacre of Fort William Henry,' about
which people took opposite views at the time, as they do
still. It is quite clear that, in the first instance,
Montcalm did almost everything that any man in his place
could possibly do to protect his captives from the Indians.
It is also clear that he did everything possible during
and after the massacre, even to risking his life and the
lives of his officers and men. He might, indeed, have
turned out all his French regulars to guard the captive
column from the first. But there were only 2,500 of these
regulars, not many more than the British, who were armed,
who ought to have poured out every drop of rum the night
before, and who ought to have started only at the proper
time and in proper order. There were faults on both sides,
as there usually are. But, except for not having the
whole of his regulars ready at the spot, which did not
seem necessary the night before, Montcalm stands quite
clear of all blame as a general. His efforts to stop the
bloody work--and they were successful efforts involving
danger to himself--clear him of all blame as a man.

The number of persons massacred has been given by some
few British and American writers as amounting to 1,500.
Most people know now that this is nonsense. All but about
a hundred of the losses on the British side are accounted
for otherwise, under the heading of those who were either
killed in battle, or died of sickness, or were given up
at Fort Edward, or were sent back by way of Halifax. It
is simply impossible that more than a hundred were

Still, a massacre is a massacre; all sorts of evil are
sure to come of it; and this one was no exception to the
rule. It blackened unjustly the good name of Montcalm.
It led to an intensely bitter hate of the British against
the Canadians, many of whom were given no quarter
afterwards. It caused the British to break the terms of
surrender, which required the prisoners not to fight
again for the next eighteen months. Most of all, the
massacre hurt the Indians, guilty and innocent alike.
Many of them took scalps from men who had smallpox; and
so they carried this dread disease throughout the
wilderness, where it killed fifty times as many of their
own people as they had killed on the British side.

The massacre at Fort William Henry raises the whole vexed
question of the rights of the savages and of their means
of defence. The Indians naturally wished to live in their
own country in their own way--as other people do. They
did not like the whites to push them aside--who does like
being pushed aside? But, if they had to choose between
different nations of whites, they naturally chose the
ones who changed their country the least. Now, the British
colonists were aggressive and numerous; and they were
always taking more and more land from the Indians, in
one way or another. The French, on the other hand, were
few, they wanted less of the land, for they were more
inclined to trade than to farm, and in general they
managed to get on with the Indians better. Therefore most
of the Indians took sides with the French; and therefore
most of the scalps lifted were British scalps. The question
of the barbarity of Indian warfare remains. The Indians
were in fact living the same sort of barbarous life that
the ancestors of the French and British had lived two or
three thousand years earlier. So the Indians did, of
course, just what the French and the British would have
done at a corresponding age. Peoples take centuries to
grow into civilized nations; and it is absurd to expect
savages to change more in a hundred years than Europeans
changed in a thousand.

We need hardly inquire which side was the more right and
which the more wrong in respect to these barbarities.
The fact is, there were plenty of rights and wrongs all
round. Each side excused itself and accused the other.
The pot has always called the kettle black. Both the
French and the British made use of Indians when the
savages themselves would gladly have remained neutral.
In contrast with the colonial levies the French and
British regulars, trained in European discipline, were
less inclined to 'act the Indian'; but both did so on
occasion. The French regulars did a little scalping on
their own account now and then; the Canadian regulars
did more than a little; while the Canadian militiamen,
roughened by their many raids, did a great deal. The
first thing Wolfe's regulars did at Louisbourg was to
scalp an Indian chief. The American rangers were scalpers
when their blood was up and when nobody stopped them.
They scalped under Wolfe at Quebec. They scalped whites
as well as Indians at Baie St Paul, at St Joachim, and
elsewhere. Even Washington was a party to such practices.
When sending in a batch of Indian scalps for the usual
reward offered by Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia he asked
that an extra one might be paid for at the usual rate,
'although it is not an Indian's.' It is thus clear that
the barbarities were in effect a normal feature of warfare
in the wilderness.

A week after its surrender Fort William Henry had been
wiped off the face of the earth, as Oswego had been the
year before, and Montcalm's army had set out homeward
bound. But he was sick at heart. Vaudreuil had been
behaving worse than ever. He had written and ordered
Montcalm to push on and take Fort Edward at once. Yet,
as we have seen, the Indians had melted away, the Canadians
had gone home for the harvest, only 3,000 regulars were
left, and these could not be kept a month longer in the
field for lack of food. In spite of this, Vaudreuil
thought Montcalm ought to advance into British territory,
besiege a larger army than his own, and beat it in spite
of all the British militia that were coming to its aid.

Even before leaving for the front Montcalm had written
to France asking to be recalled from Canada. In this
letter to the minister of Marine he spoke very freely.
He pointed out that if Vaudreuil had died in the winter
the new governor would have been Rigaud, Vaudreuil's
brother. What this would have meant every one knew only
too well; for Rigaud was a still bigger fool than Vaudreuil
himself. Montcalm gave the Canadians their due. 'What a
people, when called upon! They have talent and courage
enough, but nobody has called these qualities forth.' In
fact, the wretched Canadian was bullied and also flattered
by Vaudreuil, robbed by Bigot, bothered on his farm by
all kinds of foolish regulations, and then expected to
he a model subject and soldier. How could he be considered
a soldier when he had never been anything but a mere
raider, not properly trained, not properly armed, not
properly fed, and not paid at all?

While Montcalm was writing the truth Vaudreuil was writing
lie after lie about Montcalm, in order to do him all the
harm he could. Busy tell-tales repeated and twisted every
impatient word Montcalm spoke, and altogether Canada was
at sixes and sevens. Vaudreuil, sitting comfortably at
his desk and eating three good meals a day, had written
to Montcalm saying that there would be no trouble about
provisions if Fort Edward was attacked. Yet, at this very
time, he had given orders that, because of scarcity, the
Canadians at home should not have more than a quarter of
a pound of bread a day. Canada was drawing very near a
famine, though its soil could grow some of the finest
crops in the world. But what can any country do under
knaves and fools, especially when it is gagged as well
as robbed? Montcalm's complaints did not always reach
the minister of Marine, who was the special person in
France to look after Canada; for the minister's own
right-hand man was one of the Bigot gang and knew how to
steal a letter as well as a shipload of stores.

To outward view, and especially in the eyes of the British
Americans, 1757 was a year of nothing but triumph for
the French in America. They had made Louisbourg safer
than ever; the British fleet and army had not even dared
to attack it. French power had never been so widespread.
The fleurs-de-lis floated over the whole of the valleys
of the St Lawrence, Ohio, and Mississippi, as well as
over the Great Lakes, where these three valleys meet.
But this great show of strength depended on the army of
Montcalm--that motley host behind whose dauntless front
everything was hollow and rotten to the last degree. The
time was soon to come when even the bravest of armies
could no longer stand against lions in front and jackals



Montcalm's second winter in Canada was worse than his
first. Vaudreuil, Bigot, and all the men in the upper
circles of what would nowadays be the business, the
political, and the official world, lived on the fat of
the land; but the rest only on what fragments were left.
In our meaning of the word 'business' there was in reality
no business at all. There were then no real merchants in
Canada, no real tradesmen, no bankers, no shippers, no
honest men of affairs at all. Everything was done by or
under the government, and the government was controlled
by or under the Bigot gang. This gang stole a great deal
of what was found in Canada, and most of what came out
from France as well. In consequence, supplies became
scarcer and scarcer and dearer and dearer; and the worst
of it was that the gang wished things to be scarce and
dear, so that more stores and money might be sent out
from France and stolen on arrival. For France, in spite
of all her faults in governing, helped Canada, and helped
her generously. It seems too terrible for belief, but it
is true that the parasites in Canada did their best on
this account to keep the people half starved. Montcalm
saw through the scheme, but complaint was almost useless,
for many of his letters were stopped before they reached
the head men in France. To cap all, the wretched army
was no longer paid in gold, which always has its own
fixed value, but in paper bills which had no real money
to back them, as bank-notes have to-day. The result was
that this money was accepted at much less than its face
value, and that every officer who had to support himself,
as he must when not campaigning, fell into debt, Montcalm,
of course, more than the others. 'What a country,' to
repeat his words, 'where knaves grow rich and honest men
are ruined!'

As the winter wore away food grew scarcer--except for
those who belonged to the gang. Soldiers were allowed
about a pound of meat a day. This would have been luxury
if the meat had been good, and if they had had anything
else to eat with it. But a pound of bad beef, or of
scraggy horse-flesh, or some times even of flabby salt
cod-fish, with a quarter of a pound of bread, and nothing
else but a little Indian corn, is not a good ration for
an army. The Canadians were worse off still. In the spring
the bread ration was halved again, and became only a
couple of ounces. Two thousand Acadians had escaped from
the British efforts to deport them, and had reached the
St Lawrence region. Their needs increased the misery,
for they could not yet grow as much as they ate, even if
they had had a fair chance.

At last the poor, patient, down-trodden Canadians began
to grumble. One day a crowd of angry women threw their
horse-flesh at Vaudreuil's door. Another day even the
grenadiers refused to eat their rations. Then Montcalm's
second-in-command, Levis, who ate horse-flesh himself,
for the sake of example, told them that Canada was now
like a besieged fortress and that the garrison would have
to put up with hardships. At once the pride of the soldier
came out. Next day they brought him some roast horse,
better cooked and served than his own. He gave each
grenadier a gold coin to drink the king's health; and
the trouble ended.

The Canadians and Indians made two successful raids. One
was against a place near Schenectady, where they destroyed
many stores and provisions. The other ended in a fight
with the British guerilla leader Rogers and his rangers,
who were badly cut up near Ticonderoga. The Canadians
were at their best in making raids. Yet now raids hardly
counted any longer, for the war had outgrown them. Larger
and larger armies were taking the field, and these armies
had artillery, engineers, and transport on a greater
scale. The mere raider, or odd-job soldier, though always
good in his own place and in his own kind of country,
was becoming less and less important compared with the
regular. The larger an army the more the difference of
value widens between regulars and militia. In great wars
men must be trained to act together at any time, in any
place, and in any numbers; and this is only possible with
those all-the-year-round soldiers who are either regulars
already or who, though militia to start with, become by
practice the same as regulars.

When Montcalm looked forward to the campaign of 1758, he
saw in what a desperate plight he was. The wild, unstable
Indians were the weakest element. Gladly would he have
done without them altogether. But some were always needed
as scouts and guides; and, in any case, it was a good
thing to employ them so as to keep them from joining the
enemy. The trouble was that they were already beginning
to fail him. Some of the ships with goods for the Indians
were captured by the British fleet. Those that arrived
were in as real a sense captured, for they were stolen
by the Bigot gang, and did not fulfil the purpose of
holding the Indian allies. 'If,' said Montcalm, in one
of his despairing letters to the minister, 'if all the
presents that the king sends out to the Indians were
really given to them, we should have every tribe in
America on our own side.'

The Canadians were robbed even more; and they and the
Canadian regulars were set against Montcalm and the French
by every lie that Vaudreuil could speak in Canada or
write to France. The wonder is, not that the French
Canadians of those dreadful days did badly now and then,
but that they did so well on the whole; that they were
so brave, so loyal, so patient, so hopeful, so true to
many of the best traditions of their race. One other
feature of their system must be noted--the influence of
their priests. Protestants would think them too much
under the thumb of the priests. But, however this may
have been, it can be said with truth that the church and
the native soldiers, with all their faults, were the
glory of Canada, while the government was nothing but
its shame. The priests stood by their people like men,
suffered hardship with them, and helped them to face
every trial of fortune against false friends and open
foes alike.

The mainstay of the defence of Canada was, however, the
disciplined strength of the French regulars. There were
eight battalions, belonging to seven regiments whose
names deserve to be held in honour wherever the fight
for Canada is known: La Reine, Guienne, Bearn, Languedoc,
La Sarre, Royal Roussillon, and Berry. Each battalion
had about 500 fighting men, making about 4,000 in all.
About 2,000 more men were sent out to Quebec to fill up
gaps at different times; so that, one way and another,
at least 6,000 French soldiers reached Canada between
1755 and 1759. Yet, when Levis laid down the arms of
France in Canada for ever in 1760, only 2,000 of all
these remained. About 1,000 had been taken prisoner on
sea or land. A few had deserted. But almost 3,000 had
been lost by sickness or in battle. How many armies have
a record of sacrifices greater than these, and against
foes behind as well as in front?

From the very first these gallant men showed their mettle.
They were not forced to go to Canada. They went willingly.
When the first four battalions went, the general who had
to arrange their departure was afraid he might have
trouble in filling the gaps by getting men to volunteer
from the other battalions of the same regiments. But no.
He could have filled every gap ten times over. It was
the same with the officers. Every one was eager to fight
for the honour of France in Canada. One officer actually
offered his whole fortune to another, in hopes of getting
this other's place for service in Canada. But in vain.
France had parasites at court, plenty of them. But the
French troops who went out were patriots almost to a man.
The only exception was in the case we have noticed before,
when 400 riff-raff were sent out to take the places of
the 400 good men whom Boscawen had captured in the Gulf
during the summer of 1755.

The year 1758 saw the tide turn against France. Pitt was
now at the head of the war in Britain; throughout the
British Empire the patriots had gained the upper hand
over the parasites. Canada could no longer attack; indeed,
she was hard pressed for defence. Pitt's plan was to send
one army against the west, a fleet and an army against
the east at Louisbourg, and a third army straight at the
centre, along the line of Lake Champlain. This third, or
central, army was the one which Montcalm had to meet. It
was the largest yet seen in the New World. There were
6,000 British regulars and 9,000 American militia, with
plenty of guns and all the other arms and stores required.
Its general, Abercromby, was its chief weakness. He was
a muddle-headed man, whom Pitt had not yet been able to
replace by a better. But Lord Howe, whom Wolfe and Pitt
both thought 'a perfect model of military virtue,' was
second-in-command and the real head. He was young, as
full of calm wisdom as of fiery courage, and the idol of
Americans and of British regulars alike.

This year the campaign took place not in August but in
July. By the middle of June it was known that Abercromby
was coming. Even then Montcalm and his regulars were
ready, but nothing else was. Every one knew that Ticonderoga
was the key to the south of Canada; yet the fort was not
ready, though the Canadian engineers had been tinkering
at it for two whole summers. These engineers were, in
fact, friends of Bigot, and had found that they could
make money by spinning the work out as long as possible,
charging for good material and putting in bad, and letting
the gang plunder the stores on the way to the fort.
Montcalm had arranged everything in 1756, and there was
no good reason why Ticonderoga should not have been in
perfect order in 1758, when the fate of Canada was hanging
on its strength. But it was not. It had not even been
rightly planned. The engineers were fools as well as
knaves. When the proper French army engineers arrived,
having been sent out at the last moment, they were
horrified at the mess that had been made of the work.
But it was too late then. Montcalm and Abercromby were
both advancing; and Montcalm would have to make up with
the lives of his men for all that the knaves and fools
had done against him.

Bad as this was, there was a still worse trouble. Vaudreuil
now thought he saw a chance for another raid which would
please the Canadians and hurt Montcalm. So he actually
took away 1,600 men in June and sent them off to the
Mohawk valley, farther west, under Levis, who ought to
have known better than to have allowed himself to be
flattered into taking command. This came near to wrecking
the whole defence. But the owls did not see, and the
foxes did not care.

Meanwhile, Montcalm was hurrying his little handful of
regulars to the front. He was to leave on June 24. On
the night of the 23rd Vaudreuil sent a long string of
foolish orders, worded in such a way by some of his foxy
parasites that the credit for any victory would come to
himself, while the blame for any failure would rest on
Montcalm. This was more than flesh and blood could endure.
Once before Montcalm had tried to open Vaudreuil's eyes
to the mischief that was going on. Now he spoke out again,
and proved his case so plainly that, for very shame,
Vaudreuil had to change the orders. Montcalm arrived at
Ticonderoga with his new engineers on the 30th. Here he
found 3,000 men and one bad fort. And the British were
closing in with 15,000 men and good artillery.

The two armies lay only the length of Lake George apart,
a little over thirty miles; in positions the same as last
year, except that Montcalm was now on the defensive with
less than half as many men, and the British were on the
offensive with more than twice as many. Montcalm's great
object was to gain time. Every minute was precious. He
sent messenger after messenger, begging Vaudreuil to
hurry forward the Canadians and to call back the Mohawk
valley raiding party of 1,600 men. His 3,000 harassed
regulars were working almost night and day. The fort was
patched up until nothing more could be done without
pulling it down and building a new fort; and an entrenched
camp was dug in front of it. Meanwhile Montcalm's little
army, though engaged in all this work, was actually making
such a show of force about the valley between the lakes
that it checked the British, who now gave up their plan
of seizing a forward position in the valley as a cover
for the advance of the main body later on. Montcalm, with
3,000 toil-worn soldiers, had out-generalled Abercromby
and Howe with 15,000 fresh ones. He had also gained four
priceless days.

But on July 5 the British advanced in force. It had been
a great sight the year before, when Montcalm had gone
south along Lake George with 5,000 men; but how much more
magnificent now, when Abercromby came north with 15,00
men, all eager for this Armageddon of the West. Perhaps
there never has been any other occasion on which the
pride and pomp of glorious war have been set in a scene
of such wonderful peace and beauty. The midsummer day
was perfectly calm. Not a cloud was in the sky. The lovely
lake shone like a burnished mirror. The forest-clad
mountains never looked greener or cooler; nor did their
few bare crags or pinnacles ever stand out more clearly
against the endless blue sky than when those thousand
boats rowed on to what 15,000 men thought certain victory.
The procession of boats was wide enough to stretch from
shore to shore; yet it was much longer than its width.
On each side went the Americans, 9,000 men in blue and
buff. In the centre came 6,000 British regulars in scarlet
and gold, among them a thousand kilted Highlanders of
the splendid 'Black Watch,' led by their major, Duncan
Campbell of Inverawe, whose weird had told him a year
before that he should fight and fall at a place with what
was then to him an unknown name--Ticonderoga. The larger
boats were in the rear, lashed together, two by two, with
platforms laid across them for artillery.

And so the brave array advanced. The colours fluttered
gallantly with the motion of the boats. The thousands of
brilliant scarlet uniforms showed gaily between the masses
of more sober blue. The drums were beating, the bugles
blowing, the bagpipes screaming defiance to the foe; and
every echo in the surrounding hills was roused to send
its own defiance back.

The British halted for the night a few miles short of
the north end of the lake. Next morning; the 6th, they
set out again in time to land about noon within four
miles of Ticonderoga in a straight line. There were two
routes by which an army could march from Lake George to
Lake Champlain. The first, the short way, was to go
eastward across the four-mile valley. The second was
twice as far, north and then east, all the way round
through the woods. Since the valley road led to a bridge
which Montcalm had blown up, Lord Howe went round through
the woods with a party of rangers to see if that way
would do. While he was pushing ahead the French
reconnoitring party, which, from under cover, had been
following the British movements the day before, was trying
to find its own way back to Montcalm through the same
woods. Its Indian guides had run away in the night,
scared out of their wits by the size of the British army.
It was soon lost and, circling round, came between Howe
and Abercromby. Suddenly the rangers and the French met
in the dense forest. 'Who goes there?' shouted a Frenchman.
'Friends!' answered a British soldier in perfect French.
But the uniforms told another tale and both sides fired.
The French were soon overpowered by numbers, and the
fifty or so survivors were glad to scurry off into the
bush. But they had dealt one mortal blow. Lord Howe had
fallen, and, with him, the head and heart of the whole
British force.

Abercromby, a helpless leader, pottered about all the
next day, not knowing what to do. Meanwhile Montcalm kept
his men hard at work, and by night he was ready and
hopeful. He had just written to his friend Doreil, the
commissary of war at Quebec: 'We have only eight days'
provisions. I have no Canadians and no Indians. The
British have a very strong army. But I do not despair.
My soldiers are good. From the movements of the British
I can see they are in doubt. If they are slow enough to
let me entrench the heights of Ticonderoga, I shall beat
them.' He had ended his dispatch to Vaudreuil with similar
words: 'If they only let me entrench the heights I shall
beat them.' And now, on the night of the 7th, he actually
was holding the heights with his 3,000 French regulars
against the total British force of 15,000. Could he win
on the 8th?

Late in the evening 300 regulars arrived under an excellent
officer, Pouchot. At five the next morning, the fateful
July 8, Levis came in with 100 more. These were all,
except 400 Canadians who arrived in driblets, some while
the battle was actually going on. Vaudreuil had changed
his mind again, and had decided to recall the Mohawk
valley raiders. But too late. Levis, Pouchot, and the
Canadians had managed to get through only after a terrible
forced march, spurred on by the hope of reaching their
beloved Montcalm in time. The other men from the raid,
and five times as many more from Canada, came in afterwards.
But again too late.

The odds in numbers were four to one against Montcalm.
Even in the matter of position he was anything but safe.
The British could have forced him out of it by taking
10,000 men through the woods towards Crown Point, to cut
off his retreat to the north, while leaving 5,000 in
front of him to protect their march and harass his own
embarkation. And even if they had chosen to attack him
where he was they could have used their cannon with great
effect from Rattlesnake Hill, overlooking his left flank,
only a mile away, or from the bush straight in front of
him, at much less than half that distance, or from both
places together. Always on the alert he was ready for
anything, retreat included, though he preferred fighting
where he was, especially if the British were foolish
enough to attack without their guns--the very thing they
seemed about to do. After Howe's death they made mistakes
that worked both ways against them. They waited long
enough to let Montcalm get ready to meet their infantry;
but not long enough to get their guns ready to meet him.

Now, too, blundering Abercromby believed a stupid engineer
who said the trenches could be rushed with the bayonet
--precisely what could not be done. The peninsula of
Ticonderoga was strong towards Lake Champlain, the narrows
of which it entirely commanded. But, against infantry,
it was even stronger towards the land, where trenches
had been dug. The peninsula was almost a square. It
jutted out into the lake about three-quarters of a mile,
and its neck was of nearly the same width. Facing landward,
the direction from which the British came, the left half
of the peninsula was high, the right low. Montcalm
entrenched the left half and put his French regulars
there. He made a small trench in the middle of the right
half for the Canadian regulars and militia, and cut down
the trees everywhere, all round. The position of the
Canadians was not strong in itself; but if the British
rushed it they would be taken in flank by the French and
in front by the fort, which was half a mile in rear of
the trenches and could fire in any direction; while if
they turned to rush the French right, they would have to
charge uphill with the fire of the fort on their left.

Montcalm's men were already at work at five o'clock in
the morning of the 8th when Levis marched in; and they
went on working like ants till the battle began, though
all day the heat was terrific. Some of the trees cut down
were piled up like the wall of a log-cabin, only not
straight but zigzag, like a 'snake' fence, so that the
enemy should be caught between two fires at every angle.
This zigzag wooden wall was, of course, well loopholed.
In front of it was its zigzag ditch; and in front of the
ditch were fallen trees, with their branches carefully
trimmed and sharpened, and pointing outwards against the
enemy. To make sure that his men should know their places
in battle Montcalm held a short rehearsal. Then all fell
to work again with shovel, pick, and axe.

Presently five hundred British Indians under Sir William
Johnson appeared on Rattlesnake Hill and began to amuse
themselves by firing off their muskets, which, of course,
were perfectly useless at a distance of a mile. In the
meantime Abercromby had drawn back his men from the woods
and had made up his mind to take the short cut through
the valley and rebuild the bridge which Montcalm had
destroyed. This took up the whole morning; and it was
not till noon that the British advance guard began to
drive in the French outposts.

A few shots were heard. The outposts came back to the
trenches. French officers on the look-out spied the blue
rangers coming towards the far side of the clearings and
spreading out cautiously to right and left. Then, in the
centre, a mass of moving red and the fitful glitter of
steel told Montcalm that his supreme moment had come at
last. He raised his hand above his head. An officer,
posted in the rear, made a signal to the fort half a mile
farther back. A single cannon fired one shot; and every
soldier laid down his tools and took up his musket. In
five minutes a line three-deep had been formed behind
the zigzag stockade, which looked almost like the front
half of a square. The face towards the enemy was about
five hundred yards long. The left face was about two
hundred yards, and the right, overlooking the low ground,
ran back quite three hundred. Levis had charge of the
right, Bourlamaque of the left. Montcalm himself took
the centre, straight in the enemy's way. As he looked
round, for the last time, and saw how steadily that long,
white, three-deep, zigzag line was standing at its post
of danger, with the blue Royal Roussillon in the middle,
and the grenadiers drawn up in handy bodies just behind,
ready to rush to the first weak spot, he thrilled with
the pride of the soldier born who has an army fit to
follow him.

All round the far side of the clearing the blue rangers
were running, stooping, slinking forward, and increasing
in numbers every second. In a few minutes not a stump
near the edge of the bush but had a muzzle pointing out
from beside it. Soon not one but four great, solid masses
of redcoats were showing through the trees, less than a
quarter of a mile away. Presently they all formed up
correctly, and stood quite still for an anxious minute
or two. Then, as if each red column was a single being,
with heart and nerves of its own, the whole four stirred
with that short, tense quiver which runs through every
mass of men when they prepare to meet death face to face.
Behind the loopholed wall there was a murmur from three
thousand lips--'Here they come!'--and the answering quiver
ran through the zigzag, white ranks of the French,
Montcalm's officers immediately repeated his last caution:
'Steady, boys. Don't fire till the red-coats reach the
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'.


End of Project Gutenberg's The Passing of New France, by William Wood


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