Infomotions, Inc.The Winning of Canada: a Chronicle of Wolf / Wood, William (William Charles Henry), 1864-1947

Author: Wood, William (William Charles Henry), 1864-1947
Title: The Winning of Canada: a Chronicle of Wolf
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): wolfe; quebec; montcalm; british; canada; cap rouge; army; fleet
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Identifier: etext8728
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Title: The Winning of Canada: A Chronicle of Wolf

Author: William Wood

Release Date: August, 2005 [EBook #8728]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on August 4, 2003]

Edition: 10

Language: English

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This etext was produced by Gardner Buchanan.

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

Volume 11

A Chronicle of Wolfe



Any life of Wolfe can be artificially simplified by
treating his purely military work as something complete
in itself and not as a part of a greater whole. But,
since such treatment gives a totally false idea of his
achievement, this little sketch, drawn straight from
original sources, tries to show him as he really was, a
co-worker with the British fleet in a war based entirely
on naval strategy and inseparably connected with
international affairs of world-wide significance. The
only simplification attempted here is that of arrangement
and expression.


Quebec, April 1914.






Wolfe was a soldier born. Many of his ancestors had stood
ready to fight for king and country at a moment's notice.
His father fought under the great Duke of Marlborough in
the war against France at the beginning of the eighteenth
century. His grandfather, his great-grandfather, his only
uncle, and his only brother were soldiers too. Nor has
the martial spirit deserted the descendants of the Wolfes
in the generation now alive. They are soldiers still.
The present head of the family, who represented it at
the celebration of the tercentenary of the founding of
Quebec, fought in Egypt for Queen Victoria; and the member
of it who represented Wolfe on that occasion, in the
pageant of the Quebec campaign, is an officer in the
Canadian army under George V.

The Wolfes are of an old and honourable line. Many hundreds
of years ago their forefathers lived in England and later
on in Wales. Later still, in the fifteenth century, before
America was discovered, they were living in Ireland.
Wolfe's father, however, was born in England; and, as
there is no evidence that any of his ancestors in Ireland
had married other than English Protestants, and as Wolfe's
mother was also English, we may say that the victor of
Quebec was a pure-bred Englishman. Among his Anglo-Irish
kinsmen were the Goldsmiths and the Seymours. Oliver
Goldsmith himself was always very proud of being a cousin
of the man who took Quebec.

Wolfe's mother, to whom he owed a great deal of his
genius; was a descendant of two good families in Yorkshire.
She was eighteen years younger than his father, and was
very tall and handsome. Wolfe thought there was no one
like her. When he was a colonel, and had been through
the wars and at court, he still believed she was 'a match
for all the beauties.' He was not lucky enough to take
after her in looks, except in her one weak feature, a
cutaway chin. His body, indeed, seems to have been made
up of the bad points of both parents: he had his rheumatism
from his father. But his spirit was made up of all their
good points; and no braver ever lived in any healthy body
than in his own sickly, lanky six foot three.

Wolfe's parents went to live at Westerham in Kent shortly
after they were married; and there, on January 2, 1727,
in the vicarage--where Mrs Wolfe was staying while her
husband was away on duty with his regiment--the victor
of Quebec was born. Two other houses in the little country
town of Westerham are full of memories of Wolfe. One of
these was his father's, a house more than two hundred
years old when he was born. It was built in the reign of
Henry VII, and the loyal subject who built it had the
king's coat of arms carved over the big stone fireplace.
Here Wolfe and his younger brother Edward used to sit in
the winter evenings with their mother, while their veteran
father told them the story of his long campaigns. So,
curiously enough, it appears that Wolfe, the soldier who
won Canada for England in 1759, sat under the arms of
the king in whose service the sailor Cabot hoisted the
flag of England over Canadian soil in 1497. This house
has been called Quebec House ever since the victory in
1759. The other house is Squerryes Court, belonging then
and now to the Warde family, the Wolfes' closest friends.
Wolfe and George Warde were chums from the first day they
met. Both wished to go into the Army; and both, of course,
'played soldiers,' like other virile boys. Warde lived
to be an old man and actually did become a famous cavalry
leader. Perhaps when he charged a real enemy, sword in hand,
at the head of thundering squadrons, it may have flashed
through his mind how he and Wolfe had waved their whips
and cheered like mad when they galloped their ponies down
the common with nothing but their barking dogs behind them.

Wolfe's parents presently moved to Greenwich, where he
was sent to school at Swinden's. Here he worked quietly
enough till just before he entered on his 'teens. Then
the long-pent rage of England suddenly burst in war with
Spain. The people went wild when the British fleet took
Porto Bello, a Spanish port in Central America. The news
was cried through the streets all night. The noise of
battle seemed to be sounding all round Swinden's school,
where most of the boys belonged to naval and military
families. Ships were fitting out in English harbours.
Soldiers were marching into every English camp. Crowds
were singing and cheering. First one boy's father and
then another's was under orders for the front. Among them
was Wolfe's father, who was made adjutant-general to the
forces assembling in the Isle of Wight. What were history
and geography and mathematics now, when a whole nation
was afoot to fight! And who would not fight the Spaniards
when they cut off British sailors' ears? That was an old
tale by this time; but the flames of anger threw it into
lurid relief once more.

Wolfe was determined to go and fight. Nothing could stop
him. There was no commission for him as an officer. Never
mind! He would go as a volunteer and win his commission
in the field. So, one hot day in July 1740, the lanky,
red-haired boy of thirteen-and-a-half took his seat on
the Portsmouth coach beside his father, the veteran
soldier of fifty-five. His mother was a woman of much
too fine a spirit to grudge anything for the service of
her country; but she could not help being exceptionally
anxious about the dangers of disease for a sickly boy in
a far-off land of pestilence and fever. She had written
to him the very day he left. But he, full of the stir
and excitement of a big camp, had carried the letter in
his pocket for two or three days before answering it.
Then he wrote her the first of many letters from different
seats of war, the last one of all being written just before
he won the victory that made him famous round the world.

   Newport, Isle of Wight, August 6th, 1740.

   I received my dearest Mamma's letter on Monday last,
   but could not answer it then, by reason I was at camp
   to see the regiments off to go on board, and was too
   late for the post; but am very sorry, dear Mamma, that
   you doubt my love, which I'm sure is as sincere as
   ever any son's was to his mother.

   Papa and I are just going on board, but I believe
   shall not sail this fortnight; in which time, if I
   can get ashore at Portsmouth or any other town, I will
   certainly write to you, and, when we are gone, by
   every ship we meet, because I know it is my duty.
   Besides, if it is not, I would do it out of love, with

   I am sorry to hear that your head is so bad, which I
   fear is caused by your being so melancholy; but pray,
   dear Mamma, if you love me, don't give yourself up to
   fears for us. I hope, if it please God, we shall soon
   see one another, which will be the happiest day that
   ever I shall see. I will, as sure as I live, if it is
   possible for me, let you know everything that has
   happened, by every ship; therefore pray, dearest Mamma,
   don't doubt about it. I am in a very good state of
   health, and am likely to continue so. Pray my love to
   my brother. Pray my service to Mr Streton and his
   family, to Mr and Mrs Weston, and to George Warde when
   you see him; and pray believe me to be, my dearest
   Mamma, your most dutiful, loving and affectionate son,

   J. Wolfe.

   To Mrs. Wolfe, at her house in Greenwich, Kent.

Wolfe's 'very good state of health' was not 'likely to
continue so,' either in camp or on board ship. A long
peace had made the country indifferent to the welfare of
the Army and Navy. Now men were suddenly being massed
together in camps and fleets as if on Purpose to breed
disease. Sanitation on a large scale, never having been
practised in peace, could not be improvised in this
hurried, though disastrously slow, preparation for a war.
The ship in which Wolfe was to sail had been lying idle
for years; and her pestilential bilge-water soon began
to make the sailors and soldiers sicken and die. Most
fortunately, Wolfe was among the first to take ill; and
so he was sent home in time to save him from the fevers
of Spanish America.

Wolfe was happy to see his mother again, to have his pony
to ride and his dogs to play with. But, though he tried
his best to stick to his lessons, his heart was wild for
the war. He and George Warde used to go every day during
the Christmas holidays behind the pigeon-house at Squerryes
Court and practise with their swords and pistols. One
day they stopped when they heard the post-horn blowing
at the gate; and both of them became very much excited
when George's father came out himself with a big official
envelope marked 'On His Majesty's Service' and addressed
to 'James Wolfe, Esquire.' Inside was a commission as
second lieutenant in the Marines, signed by George II
and dated at St James's Palace, November 3, 1741. Eighteen
years later, when the fame of the conquest of Canada was
the talk of the kingdom, the Wardes had a stone monument
built to mark the spot where Wolfe was standing when the
squire handed him his first commission. And there it is
to-day; and on it are the verses ending,

   This spot so sacred will forever claim
   A proud alliance with its hero's name.

Wolfe was at last an officer. But the Marines were not
the corps for him. Their service companies were five
thousand miles away, while war with France was breaking
out much nearer home. So what was his delight at receiving
another commission, on March 25, 1742, as an ensign in
the 12th Regiment of Foot! He was now fifteen, an officer,
a soldier born and bred, eager to serve his country, and
just appointed to a regiment ordered to the front! Within
a month an army such as no one had seen since the days
of Marlborough had been assembled at Blackheath. Infantry,
cavalry, artillery, and engineers, they were all there
when King George II, the Prince of Wales, and the Duke
of Cumberland came down to review them. Little did anybody
think that the tall, eager ensign carrying the colours
of the 12th past His Majesty was the man who was to play
the foremost part in winning Canada for the British crown.



Wolfe's short life may be divided into four periods, all
easy to remember, because all are connected with the same
number-seven. He was fourteen years a boy at home, with
one attempt to be a soldier. This period lasted from 1727
to 1741. Then he was seven years a young officer in time
of war, from 1741 to 1748. Then he served seven years
more in time of peace, from 1748 to 1755. Lastly, he died
in the middle, at the very climax, of the world-famous
Seven Years' War, in 1759.

After the royal review at Blackheath in the spring of
1742 the army marched down to Deptford and embarked for
Flanders. Wolfe was now off to the very places he had
heard his father tell about again and again. The surly
Flemings were still the same as when his father knew
them. They hated their British allies almost as much as
they hated their enemies. The long column of redcoats
marched through a scowling mob of citizens, who meanly
grudged a night's lodging to the very men coming there
to fight for them. We may be sure that Wolfe thought
little enough of such mean people as he stepped out with
the colours flying above his head. The army halted at
Ghent, an ancient city, famous for its trade and wealth,
and defended by walls which had once resisted Marlborough.

At first there was a good deal to do and see; and George
Warde was there too, as an officer in a cavalry regiment.
But Warde had to march away; and Wolfe was left without
any companion of his own age, to pass his spare time the
best way he could. Like another famous soldier, Frederick
the Great, who first won his fame in this very war, he
was fond of music and took lessons on the flute. He also
did his best to improve his French; and when Warde came
back the two friends used to go to the French theatre.
Wolfe put his French to other use as well, and read all
the military books he could find time for. He always kept
his kit ready to pack; so that he could have marched
anywhere within two hours of receiving the order. And,
though only a mere boy-officer, he began to learn the
duties of an adjutant, so that he might be fit for
promotion whenever the chance should come.

Months wore on and Wolfe was still at Ghent. He had made
friends during his stay, and he tells his mother in
September: 'This place is full of officers, and we never
want company. I go to the play once or twice a week, and
talk a little with the ladies, who are very civil and
speak French.' Before Christmas it had been decided at
home--where the war-worn father now was, after a horrible
campaign at Cartagena--that Edward, the younger son, was
also to be allowed to join the Army. Wolfe was delighted.
'My brother is much to be commended for the pains he takes
to improve himself. I hope to see him soon in Flanders,
when, in all probability, before next year is over, we
may know something of our trade.' And so they did!

The two brothers marched for the Rhine early in 1743,
both in the same regiment. James was now sixteen, Edward
fifteen. The march was a terrible one for such delicate
boys. The roads were ankle-deep in mud; the weather was
vile; both food and water were very bad. Even the dauntless
Wolfe had to confess to his mother that he was 'very much
fatigued and out of order. I never come into quarters
without aching hips and knees.' Edward, still more
delicate, was sent off on a foraging party to find
something for the regiment to eat. He wrote home to his
father from Bonn on April 7: 'We can get nothing upon
our march but eggs and bacon and sour bread. I have no
bedding, nor can get it anywhere. We had a sad march last
Monday in the morning. I was obliged to walk up to my
knees in snow, though my brother and I have a horse
between us. I have often lain upon straw, and should
oftener, had I not known some French, which I find very
useful; though I was obliged the other day to speak
_Latin_ for a good dinner. We send for everything we want
to the priest.'

That summer, when the king arrived with his son the Duke
of Cumberland, the British and Hanoverian army was reduced
to 37,000 half-fed men. Worse still, the old general,
Lord Stair, had led it into a very bad place. These 37,000
men were cooped up on the narrow side of the valley of
the river Main, while a much larger French army was on
the better side, holding bridges by which to cut them
off and attack them while they were all clumped together.
Stair tried to slip away in the night. But the French,
hearing of this attempt, sent 12,000 men across the river
to hold the place the British general was leaving, and
30,000 more, under the Duc de Gramont, to block the road
at the place towards which he was evidently marching. At
daylight the British and Hanoverians found themselves
cut off, both front and rear, while a third French force
was waiting to pounce on whichever end showed weakness
first. The King of England, who was also Elector of
Hanover, would be a great prize, and the French were
eager to capture him. This was how the armies faced each
other on the morning of June 27, 1743, at Dettingen, the
last battlefield on which any king of England has fought
in person, and the first for Wolfe.

The two young brothers were now about to see a big battle,
like those of which their father used to tell them.
Strangely enough, Amherst, the future commander-in-chief
in America, under whom Wolfe served at Louisbourg, and
the two men who succeeded Wolfe in command at Quebec
--Monckton and Townshend--were also there. It is an awful
moment for a young soldier, the one before his first
great fight. And here were nearly a hundred thousand men,
all in full view of each other, and all waiting for the
word to begin. It was a beautiful day, and the sun shone
down on a splendidly martial sight. There stood the
British and Hanoverians, with wooded hills on their right,
the river and the French on their left, the French in
their rear, and the French very strongly posted on the
rising ground straight in their front. The redcoats were
in dense columns, their bayonets flashing and their
colours waving defiance. Side by side with their own red
cavalry were the black German cuirassiers, the blue German
lancers, and the gaily dressed green and scarlet Hungarian
hussars. The long white lines of the three French armies,
varied with royal blue, encircled them on three sides.
On the fourth were the leafy green hills.

Wolfe was acting as adjutant and helping the major. His
regiment had neither colonel nor lieutenant-colonel with
it that day; so he had plenty to do, riding up and down
to see that all ranks understood the order that they were
not to fire till they were close to the French and were
given the word for a volley. He cast a glance at his
brother, standing straight and proudly with the regimental
colours that he himself had carried past the king at
Blackheath the year before. He was not anxious about
'Ned'; he knew how all the Wolfes could fight. He was
not anxious about himself; he was only too eager for the
fray. A first battle tries every man, and few have not
dry lips, tense nerves, and beating hearts at its approach.
But the great anxiety of an officer going into action
for the first time with untried men is for them and not
for himself. The agony of wondering whether they will do
well or not is worse, a thousand times, than what he
fears for his own safety.

Presently the French gunners, in the centre of their
position across the Main, lit their matches and, at a
given signal, fired a salvo into the British rear. Most
of the baggage wagons were there; and, as the shot and
shell began to knock them over, the drivers were seized
with a panic. Cutting the traces, these men galloped off
up the hills and into the woods as hard as they could
go. Now battery after battery began to thunder, and the
fire grew hot all round. The king had been in the rear,
as he did not wish to change the command on the eve of
the battle. But, seeing the panic, he galloped through
the whole of his army to show that he was going to fight
beside his men. As he passed, and the men saw what he
intended to do, they cheered and cheered, and took heart
so boldly that it was hard work to keep them from rushing
up the heights of Dettingen, where Gramont's 30,000
Frenchmen were waiting to shoot them down.

Across the river Marshal Noailles, the French
commander-in-chief, saw the sudden stir in the British
ranks, heard the roaring hurrahs, and supposed that his
enemies were going to be fairly caught against Gramont
in front. In this event he could finish their defeat
himself by an overwhelming attack in flank. Both his own
and Gramont's artillery now redoubled their fire, till
the British could hardly stand it. But then, to the rage
and despair of Noailles, Gramont's men, thinking the day
was theirs, suddenly left their strong position and
charged down on to the same level as the British, who
were only too pleased to meet them there. The king, seeing
what a happy turn things were taking, galloped along the
front of his army, waving his sword and calling out,
'Now, boys! Now for the honour of England!' His horse,
maddened by the din, plunged and reared, and would have
run away with him, straight in among the French, if a
young officer called Trapaud had not seized the reins.
The king then dismounted and put himself at the head of
his troops, where he remained fighting, sword in hand,
till the battle was over.

Wolfe and his major rode along the line of their regiment
for the last time. There was not a minute to lose. Down
came the Royal Musketeers of France, full gallop, smash.
through the Scots Fusiliers and into the line in rear,
where most of them were unhorsed and killed. Next, both
sides advanced their cavalry, but without advantage to
either. Then, with a clear front once more, the main
bodies of the French and British infantry rushed together
for a fight to a finish. Nearly all of Wolfe's regiment
were new to war and too excited to hold their fire. When
they were within range, and had halted for a moment to
steady the ranks, they brought their muskets down to the
'present.' The French fell flat on their faces and the
bullets whistled harmlessly over them. Then they sprang
to their feet and poured in a steady volley while the
British were reloading. But the second British volley
went home. When the two enemies closed on each other with
the bayonet, like the meeting of two stormy seas, the
British fought with such fury that the French ranks were
broken. Soon the long white waves rolled back and the
long red waves rolled forward. Dettingen was reached and
the desperate fight was won.

Both the boy-officers wrote home, Edward to his mother;
James to his father. Here is a part of Edward's letter:

   My brother and self escaped in the engagement and,
   thank God, are as well as ever we were in our lives,
   after not only being cannonaded two hours and
   three-quarters, and fighting with small arms [muskets
   and bayonets] two hours and one-quarter, but lay the
   two following nights upon our arms; whilst it rained
   for about twenty hours in the same time, yet are ready
   and as capable to do the same again. The Duke of
   Cumberland behaved charmingly. Our regiment has got
   a great deal of honour, for we were in the middle of
   the first line, and in the greatest danger. My brother
   has wrote to my father and I believe has given him a
   small account of the battle, so I hope you will excuse
   it me.

A manly and soldier-like letter for a boy of fifteen!
Wolfe's own is much longer and full of touches that show
how cool and observant he was, even in his first battle
and at the age of only sixteen. Here is some of it:

   The Gens d'Armes, or Mousquetaires Gris, attacked the
   first line, composed of nine regiments of English
   foot, and four or five of Austrians, and some
   Hanoverians. But before they got to the second line,
   out of two hundred there were not forty living. These
   unhappy men were of the first families in France.
   Nothing, I believe, could be more rash than their
   undertaking. The third and last attack was made by
   the foot on both sides. We advanced towards one another;
   our men in high spirits, and very impatient for
   fighting, being elated with beating the French Horse,
   part of which advanced towards us; while the rest
   attacked our Horse, but were soon driven back by the
   great fire we gave them. The major and I (for we had
   neither colonel nor lieutenant-colonel), before they
   came near, were employed in begging and ordering the
   men not to fire at too great a distance, but to keep
   it till the enemy should come near us; but to little
   purpose. The whole fired when they thought they could
   reach them, which had like to have ruined us. However,
   we soon rallied again, and attacked them with great
   fury, which gained us a complete victory, and forced
   the enemy to retire in great haste. We got the sad
   news of the death of as good and brave a man as any
   amongst us, General Clayton. His death gave us all
   sorrow, so great was the opinion we had of him. He
   had, 'tis said, orders for pursuing the enemy, and if
   we had followed them, they would not have repassed
   the Main with half their number. Their loss is computed
   to be between six and seven thousand men, and ours
   three thousand. His Majesty was in the midst of the
   fight; and the duke behaved as bravely as a man could
   do. I had several times the honour of speaking with
   him just as the battle began and was often afraid of
   his being dashed to pieces by the cannon-balls. He
   gave his orders with a great deal of calmness and
   seemed quite unconcerned. The soldiers were in high
   delight to have him so near them. I sometimes thought
   I had lost poor Ned when I saw arms, legs, and heads
   beat off close by him. A horse I rid of the colonel's,
   at the first attack, was shot in one of his hinder
   legs and threw me; so I was obliged to do the duty of
   an adjutant all that and the next day on foot, in a
   pair of heavy boots. Three days after the battle I
   got the horse again, and he is almost well.

Shortly after Dettingen Wolfe was appointed adjutant and
promoted to a lieutenancy. In the next year he was made
a captain in the 4th Foot while his brother became a
lieutenant in the 12th. After this they had very few
chances of meeting; and Edward, who had caught a deadly
chill, died alone in Flanders, not yet seventeen years
old. Wolfe wrote home to his mother:

   Poor Ned wanted nothing but the satisfaction of seeing
   his dearest friends to leave the world with the greatest
   tranquillity. It gives me many uneasy hours when I
   reflect on the possibility there was of my being with
   him before he died. God knows it was not apprehending
   the danger the poor fellow was in; and even that would
   not have hindered it had I received the physician's
   first letter. I know you won't be able to read this
   without shedding tears, as I do writing it. Though it
   is the custom of the army to sell the deceased's
   effects, I could not suffer it. We none of us want,
   and I thought the best way would be to bestow them on
   the deserving whom he had an esteem for in his lifetime.
   To his servant--the most honest and faithful man I
   ever knew--I gave all his clothes. I gave his horse
   to his friend Parry. I know he loved Parry; and for
   that reason the horse will be taken care of. His other
   horse I keep myself. I have his watch, sash, gorget,
   books, and maps, which I shall preserve to his memory.
   He was an honest and good lad, had lived very well,
   and always discharged his duty with the cheerfulness
   becoming a good officer. He lived and died as a son
   of you two should. There was no part of his life that
   makes him dearer to me than what you so often
   mentioned--_he pined after me_.

It was this pining to follow Wolfe to the wars that cost
poor Ned his life. But did not Wolfe himself pine to
follow his father?

The next year, 1745, the Young Pretender, 'Bonnie Prince
Charlie,' raised the Highland clans on behalf of his
father, won several battles, and invaded England, in the
hope of putting the Hanoverian Georges off the throne of
Great Britain and regaining it for the exiled Stuarts.
The Duke of Cumberland was sent to crush him; and with
the duke went Wolfe. Prince Charlie's army retreated and
was at last brought to bay on Culloden Moor, six miles
from Inverness. The Highlanders were not in good spirits
after their long retreat before the duke's army, which
enjoyed an immense advantage in having a fleet following
it along the coast with plenty of provisions, while the
prince's wretched army was half starved. We may be sure
the lesson was not lost on Wolfe. Nobody understood better
than he that the fleet is the first thing to consider in
every British war. And nobody saw a better example of
this than he did afterwards in Canada.

At daybreak on April 16, 1746, the Highlanders found the
duke's army marching towards Inverness, and drew up in
order to prevent it. Both armies halted, each hoping the
other would make the mistake of charging. At last, about
one o'clock, the Highlanders in the centre and right
could be held back no longer. So eager were they to get
at the redcoats that most of them threw down their muskets
without even firing them, and then rushed on furiously,
sword in hand. ''Twas for a time,' said Wolfe, 'a dispute
between the swords and bayonets, but the latter was found
by far the most destructable [sic] weapon.' No quarter
was given or taken on either side during an hour of
desperate fighting hand to hand. By that time the steady
ranks of the redcoats, aided by the cavalry, had killed
five times as many as they had lost by the wild slashing
of the claymores. The Highlanders turned and fled. The
Stuart cause was lost for ever.

Again another year of fighting: this time in Holland,
where the British, Dutch, and Austrians under the Duke
of Cumberland met the French at the village of Laffeldt,
on June 21, 1747. Wolfe was now a brigade-major, which
gave him the same sort of position in a brigade of three
battalions as an adjutant has in a single one; that is,
he was a smart junior officer picked out to help the
brigadier in command by seeing that orders were obeyed.
The fight was furious. As fast as the British infantry
drove back one French brigade another came forward and
drove the British back. The village was taken and lost,
lost and taken, over and over again. Wolfe, though wounded,
kept up the fight. At last a new French brigade charged
in and swept the British out altogether. Then the duke
ordered the Dutch and Austrians to advance: But the Dutch
cavalry, right in the centre, were seized with a sudden
panic and galloped back, knocking over their own men on
the way, and making a gap that certainly looked fatal.
But the right man was ready to fill it. This was Sir John
Ligonier, afterwards commander-in-chief of the British
Army at the time of Wolfe's campaigns in Canada. He led
the few British and Austrian cavalry, among them the
famous Scots Greys, straight into the gap and on against
the dense masses of the French beyond. These gallant
horsemen were doomed; and of course they knew it when
they dashed themselves to death against such overwhelming
odds. But they gained the few precious moments that were
needed. The gap closed up behind them; and the army was
saved, though they were lost.

During the day Wolfe was several times in great danger.
He was thanked by the duke in person for the splendid
way in which he had done his duty. The royal favour,
however, did not make him forget the gallant conduct of
his faithful servant, Roland: 'He came to me at the hazard
of his life with offers of his service, took off my cloak
and brought a fresh horse; and would have continued close
by me had I not ordered him to retire. I believe he was
slightly wounded just at that time. Many a time has he
pitched my tent and made the bed ready to receive me,
half-dead with fatigue.' Nor did Wolfe forget his dumb
friends: 'I have sold my poor little gray mare. I lamed
her by accident, and thought it better to dismiss her
the service immediately. I grieved at parting with so
faithful a servant, and have the comfort to know she is
in good hands, will be very well fed, and taken care of
in her latter days.'

After recovering from a slight wound received at Laffeldt
Wolfe was allowed to return to England, where he remained
for the winter. On the morrow of New Year's Day, 1748,
he celebrated his coming of age at his father's town
house in Old Burlington Street, London. In the spring,
however, he was ordered to rejoin the army, and was
stationed with the troops who were guarding the Dutch
frontier. The war came to an end in the same year, and
Wolfe went home. Though then only twenty-one, he was
already an experienced soldier, a rising officer, and a
marked man.



Wolfe was made welcome in England wherever he went. In
spite of his youth his name was well known to the chief
men in the Army, and he was already a hero among the
friends of his family. By nature he was fond of the
society of ladies, and of course he fell in love. He had
had a few flirtations before, like most other soldiers;
but this time the case was serious. The difference was
the same as between a sham fight and a battle. His choice
fell on Elizabeth Lawson, a maid of honour to the Princess
of Wales. The oftener he saw her the more he fell in love
with her. But the course of true love did not, as we
shall presently see, run any more smoothly for him than
it has for many another famous man.

In 1749, when Wolfe was only twenty-two, he was promoted
major of the 20th Regiment of Foot. He joined it in
Scotland, where he was to serve for the next few years.
At first he was not very happy in Glasgow. He did not
like the people, as they were very different from the
friends with whom he had grown up. Yet his loneliness
only added to his zeal for study. He had left school when
still very young, and he now found himself ignorant of
much that he wished to know. As a man of the world he
had found plenty of gaps in his general knowledge. Writing
to his friend Captain Rickson, he says: 'When a man leaves
his studies at fifteen, he will never be justly called
a man of letters. I am endeavouring to repair the damages
of my education, and have a person to teach me Latin and
mathematics.' From his experience in his own profession,
also, he had learned a good deal. In a letter to his
father he points out what excellent chances soldiers have
to see the vivid side of many things: 'That variety
incident to a military life gives our profession some
advantages over those of a more even nature. We have all
our passions and affections aroused and exercised, many
of which must have wanted their proper employment had
not suitable occasions obliged us to exert them. Few men
know their own courage till danger proves them, or how
far the love of honour or dread of shame are superior to
the love of life. This is a knowledge to be best acquired
in an army; our actions are there in presence of the
world, to be fully censured or approved.'

Great commanders are always keen to learn everything
really worth while. It is only the little men who find
it a bore. Of course, there are plenty of little men in
a regiment, as there are everywhere else in the world;
and some of the officers were afraid Wolfe would insist
on their doing as he did. But he never preached. He only
set the example, and those who had the sense could follow
it. One of his captains wrote home: 'Our acting colonel
here is a paragon. He neither drinks, curses, nor gambles.
So we make him our pattern.' After a year with him the
officers found him a 'jolly good fellow' as well as a
pattern; and when he became their lieutenant-colonel at
twenty-three they gave him a dinner that showed he was
a prime favourite among them. He was certainly quite as
popular with the men. Indeed, he soon became known by a
name which speaks for itself--'the soldier's' friend.'

By and by Wolfe's regiment marched into the Highlands,
where he had fought against Prince Charlie in the '45.
But he kept in touch with what was going on in the world
outside. He wrote to Rickson at Halifax, to find out for
him all he could about the French and British colonies
in America. In the same letter, written in 1751, he said
he should like to see some Highland soldiers raised for
the king's army and sent out there to fight. Eight years
later he was to have a Highland regiment among his own
army at Quebec. Other themes filled the letters to his
mother. Perhaps he was thinking of Miss Lawson when he
wrote: 'I have a certain turn of mind that favours
matrimony prodigiously. I love children. Two or three
manly sons are a present to the world, and the father
that offers them sees with satisfaction that he is to
live in his successors.' He was thinking more gravely of
a still higher thing when he wrote on his twenty-fifth
birthday, January 2, 1752, to reassure his mother about
the strength of his religion.

Later on in the year, having secured leave of absence,
he wrote to his mother in the best of spirits. He asked
her to look after all the little things he wished to have
done. 'Mr Pattison sends a pointer to Blackheath; if you
will order him to be tied up in your stable, it will
oblige me much. If you hear of a servant who can dress
a wig it will be a favour done me to engage him. I have
another favour to beg of you and you'll think it an odd
one: 'tis to order some currant jelly to be made in a
crock for my use. It is the custom in Scotland to eat it
in the morning with bread.' Then he proposed to have a
shooting-lodge in the Highlands, long before any other
Englishman seems to have thought of what is now so common.
'You know what a whimsical sort of person I am. Nothing
pleases me now but hunting, shooting, and fishing. I have
distant notions of taking a very little house, remote
upon the edge of the forest, merely for sport.'

In July he left the Highlands, which were then, in some
ways, as wild as Labrador is now. About this time there
was a map made by a Frenchman in Paris which gave all
the chief places in the Lowlands quite rightly, but left
the north of Scotland blank, with the words 'Unknown land
here, inhabited by the "Iglandaires"!' When his leave
began Wolfe went first to Dublin--'dear, dirty Dublin,'
as it used to be called--where his uncle, Major Walter
Wolfe, was living. He wrote to his father: 'The streets
are crowded with people of a large size and well limbed,
and the women very handsome. They have clearer skins,
and fairer complexions than the women in England or
Scotland, and are exceeding straight and well made';
which shows that he had the proper soldier's eye for
every pretty girl. Then he went to London and visited
his parents in their new house at the corner of Greenwich
Park, which stands to-day very much the same as it was
then. But, wishing to travel, he succeeded, after a great
deal of trouble, in getting leave to go to Paris. Lord
Bury was a friend of his, and Lord Bury's father, the
Earl of Albemarle, was the British ambassador there. So
he had a good chance of seeing the best of everything.
Perhaps it would be almost as true to say that he had as
good a chance of seeing the worst of everything. For
there were a great many corrupt and corrupting men and
women at the French court. There was also much misery in
France, and both the corruption and the misery were soon
to trouble New France, as Canada was then called, even
more than they troubled Old France at home.

Wolfe wished to travel about freely, to see the French
armies at work, and then to go on to Prussia to see how
Frederick the Great managed his perfectly disciplined
army. This would have been an excellent thing to do. But
it was then a very new thing for an officer to ask leave
to study foreign armies. Moreover, the chief men in the
British Army did not like the idea of letting such a good
colonel go away from his regiment for a year, even though
he was going with the object of making himself a still
better officer. Perhaps, too, his friends were just a
little afraid that he might join the Prussians or the
Austrians; for it was not, in those days, a very strange
thing to join the army of a friendly foreign country.
Whatever the reason, the long leave was refused and he
went no farther than Paris.

Louis XV was then at the height of his apparent greatness;
and France was a great country, as it is still. But king
and government were both corrupt. Wolfe saw this well
enough and remembered it when the next war broke out.
There was a brilliant society in 'the capital of
civilization,' as the people of Paris proudly called
their city; and there was a great deal to see. Nor was
all of it bad. He wrote home two days after his arrival.

   The packet [ferry] did not sail that night, but we
   embarked at half-an-hour after six in the morning and
   got into Calais at ten. I never suffered so much in
   so short a time at sea. The people [in Paris] seem to
   be very sprightly. The buildings are very magnificent,
   far surpassing any we have in London. Mr Selwin has
   recommended a French master to me, and in a few days
   I begin to ride in the Academy, but must dance and
   fence in my own lodgings. Lord Albemarle [the British
   ambassador] is come from Fontainebleau. I have very
   good reason to be pleased with the reception I met
   with. The best amusement for strangers in Paris is
   the Opera, and the next is the playhouse. The theatre
   is a school to acquire the French language, for which
   reason I frequent it more than the other.

In Paris he met young Philip Stanhope, the boy to whom
the Earl of Chesterfield wrote his celebrated letters;
'but,' says Wolfe, 'I fancy he is infinitely inferior to
his father.' Keeping fit, as we call it nowadays, seems
to have been Wolfe's first object. He took the same care
of himself as the Japanese officers did in the
Russo-Japanese War; and for the same reason, that he
might be the better able to serve his country well the
next time she needed him. Writing to his mother he says:

   I am up every morning at or before seven and fully
   employed till twelve. Then I dress and visit, and dine
   at two. At five most people go to the public
   entertainments, which keep you till nine; and at eleven
   I am always in bed. This way of living is directly
   opposite to the practice of the place. But no
   constitution could go through all. Four or five days
   in the week I am up six hours before any other fine
   gentleman in Paris. I ride, fence, dance, and have a
   master to teach me French. I succeed much better in
   fencing and riding than in the art of dancing, for
   they suit my genius better; and I improve a little in
   French. I have no great acquaintance with the French
   women, nor am likely to have. It is almost impossible
   to introduce one's self among them without losing a
   great deal of money, which you know I can't afford;
   besides, these entertainments begin at the time I go
   to bed, and I have not health enough to sit up all
   night and work all day. The people here use umbrellas
   to defend them from the sun, and something of the same
   kind to secure them from the rain and snow. I wonder
   a practice so useful is not introduced into England.

While in Paris Wolfe was asked if he would care to be
military tutor to the Duke of Richmond, or, if not,
whether he knew of any good officer whom he could recommend.
On this he named Guy Carleton, who became the young duke's
tutor. Three men afterwards well known in Canada were
thus brought together long before any of them became
celebrated. The Duke of Richmond went into Wolfe's
regiment. The next duke became a governor-general of
Canada, as Guy Carleton had been before him. And
Wolfe--well, he was Wolfe!

One day he was presented to King Louis, from whom, seven
years later; he was to wrest Quebec. 'They were all very
gracious as far as courtesies, bows, and smiles go, for
the Bourbons seldom speak to anybody.' Then he was
presented to the clever Marquise de Pompadour, whom he
found having her hair done up in the way which is still
known by her name to every woman in the world. It was
the regular custom of that time for great ladies to
receive their friends while the barbers were at work on
their hair. 'She is extremely handsome and, by her
conversation with the ambassador, I judge she must have
a great deal of wit and understanding.' But it was her
court intrigues and her shameless waste of money that
helped to ruin France and Canada.

In the midst of all these gaieties Wolfe never forgot
the mother whom he thought 'a match for all the beauties.'
He sent her 'two black laced hoods and a _vestale_ for
the neck, such as the Queen of France wears.' Nor did he
forget the much humbler people who looked upon him as
'the soldier's friend.' He tells his mother that his
letters from Scotland have just arrived, and that 'the.
women of the regiment take it into their heads to write
to me sometimes.' Here is one of their letters, marked
on the outside, 'The Petition of Anne White':

   Collonnell,--Being a True Noble-hearted Pittyful
   gentleman and Officer your Worship will excuse these
   few Lines concerning ye husband of ye undersigned,
   Sergt. White, who not from his own fault is not behaving
   as Hee should towards me and his family, although good
   and faithfull till the middle of November last.

We may be sure 'Sergt. White' had to behave 'as Hee
should' when Wolfe returned!

In April, to his intense disgust, Wolfe was again in

   We are all sick, officers and soldiers. In two days
   we lost the skin off our faces with the sun, and the
   third were shivering in great coats. My cousin Goldsmith
   has sent me the finest young pointer that ever was
   seen; he eclipses Workie, and outdoes all. He sent me
   a fishing-rod and wheel at the same time, of his own
   workmanship. This, with a salmon-rod from my uncle
   Wat, your flies, and my own guns, put me in a condition
   to undertake the Highland sport. We have plays, we
   have concerts, we have balls, with dinners and suppers
   of the most execrable food upon earth, and wine that
   approaches to poison. The men of Glasgow drink till
   they are excessively drunk. The ladies are cold to
   everything but a bagpipe--I wrong them--there is not
   one that does not melt away at the sound of money.'

By the end of this year, however, he had left Scotland
for good. He did not like the country as he saw it. But
the times were greatly against his doing so. Glasgow was
not at all a pleasant place in those narrowly provincial
days for any one who had seen much of the world. The
Highlands were as bad. They were full of angry Jacobites,
who could never forgive the redcoats for defeating Prince
Charlie. Yet Wolfe was not against the Scots as a whole;
and we must never forget that he was the first to recommend
the raising of those Highland regiments which have fought
so nobly in every British war since the mighty one in
which he fell.

During the next year and part of the year following,
1754-55, Wolfe was at Exeter, where the entertainments
seem to have been more to his taste than those at Glasgow.
A lady who knew him well at this time wrote: 'He was
generally ambitious to gain a tall, graceful woman to be
his partner, as well as a good dancer. He seemed emulous
to display every kind of virtue and gallantry that would
render him amiable.'

In 1755 the Seven Years' Peace was coming to an end in
Europe. The shadow of the Seven Years' War was already
falling darkly across the prospect in America. Though
Wolfe did not leave for the front till 1757, he was
constantly receiving orders to be ready, first for one
place and then for another. So early as February 18,
1755, he wrote to his mother what he then thought might
be a farewell letter. It is full of the great war; but
personal affairs of the deeper kind were by no means
forgotten. 'The success of our fleet in the beginning of
the war is of the utmost importance.' 'It will be sufficient
comfort to you both to reflect that the Power which has
hitherto preserved me may, if it be His pleasure, continue
to do so. If not, it is but a few days more or less, and
those who perish in their duty and the service of their
country die honourably.'

The end of this letter is in a lighter vein. But it is
no less characteristic: it is all about his dogs. 'You
are to have Flurry instead of Romp. The two puppies I
must desire you to keep a little longer. I can't part
with either of them, but must find good and secure quarters
for them as well as for my friend Caesar, who has great
merit and much good humour. I have given Sancho to Lord
Howe, so that I am reduced to two spaniels and one
pointer.' It is strange that in the many books about dogs
which mention the great men who have been fond of them
--and most great men are fond of dogs--not one says a
word about Wolfe. Yet 'my friend Caesar, who has great
merit and much good humour,' deserves to be remembered
with his kind master just as much, in his way, as that
other Caesar, the friend of Edward VII, who followed his
master to the grave among the kings and princes of a
mourning world.



Wolfe's Quebec campaign marked the supreme crisis of the
greatest war the British Empire ever waged: the war,
indeed, that made the Empire. To get a good, clear view
of anything so vast, so complex, and so glorious, we must
first look at the whole course of British history to see
how it was that France and England ever became such deadly
rivals. It is quite wrong to suppose that the French and
British were always enemies, though they have often been
called 'historic' and 'hereditary' foes, as if they never
could make friends at all. As a matter of fact, they have
had many more centuries of peace than of war; and ever
since the battle of Waterloo, in 1815, they have been
growing friendlier year by year. But this happy state of
affairs is chiefly because, as we now say, their 'vital
interests no longer clash'; that is, they do not both
desire the same thing so keenly that they have to fight
for it.

Their vital interests do not clash now. But they did
clash twice in the course of their history. The first
time was when both governments wished to rule the same
parts of the land of France. The second time was when
they both wished to rule the same parts of the oversea
world. Each time there was a long series of wars, which
went on inevitably until one side had completely driven
its rival from the field.

The first long series of wars took place chiefly in the
fourteenth century and is known to history as the Hundred
Years' War. England held, and was determined to hold,
certain parts of France. France was determined never to
rest till she had won them for herself. Whatever other
things the two nations were supposed to be fighting about,
this was always the one cause of strife that never changed
and never could change till one side or other had definitely
triumphed. France won. There were glorious English
victories at Cressy and Agincourt. Edward III and Henry V
were two of the greatest soldiers of any age. But, though
the English often won the battles, the French won the
war. The French had many more men, they fought near
their own homes, and, most important of all, the war was
waged chiefly on land. The English had fewer men, they
fought far away from their homes, and their ships could
not help them much in the middle of the land, except by
bringing over soldiers and food to the nearest coast.
The end of it all was that the English armies were worn
out; and the French armies, always able to raise more
and more fresh men, drove them, step by step, out of the
land completely.

The second long series of wars took place chiefly in the
eighteenth century. These wars have never been given one
general name; but they should be called the Second Hundred
Years' War, because that is what they really were. They
were very different from the wars that made up the first
Hundred Years' War, because this time the fight was for
oversea dominions, not for land in Europe. Of course
navies had a good deal to do with the first Hundred Years'
War and armies with the second. But the navies were even
more important in the second than the armies in the first.
The Second Hundred Years' War, the one in which Wolfe
did such a mighty deed, began with the fall of the Stuart
kings of England in 1688 and went on till the battle of
Waterloo in 1815. But the beginning and end that meant
most to the Empire were the naval battles of La Hogue in
1692 and Trafalgar in 1805. Since Trafalgar the Empire
has been able to keep what it had won before, and to go
on growing as well, because all its different parts are
joined together by the sea, and because the British Navy
has been, from that day to this, stronger than any other
navy in the world.

How the French and British armies and navies fought on
opposite sides, either alone or with allies, all over
the world, from time to time, for these hundred and
twenty-seven years; how all the eight wars with different
names formed one long Second Hundred Years' War; and how
the British Navy was the principal force that won the
whole of this war, made the Empire, and gave Canada safety
then, as it gives her safety now--all this is much too
long a story to tell here. But the gist of it may be told
in a very few words, at least in so far as it concerns
the winning of Canada and the deeds of Wolfe.

The name 'Greater Britain' is often used to describe all
the parts of the British Empire which lie outside of the
old mother country. This 'Greater Britain' is now so
vast and well established that we are apt to forget those
other empires beyond the seas which, each in its own day,
surpassed the British Empire of the same period. There
was a Greater Portugal, a Greater Spain, a Greater Holland,
and a Greater France. France and Holland still have
large oversea possessions; and a whole new-world continent
still speaks the languages of Spain and Portugal. But
none of them has kept a growing empire oversea as their
British rival has. What made the difference? The two
things that made all the difference in the world were
freedom and sea-power. We cannot stop to discuss freedom,
because that is more the affair of statesmen; but, at
the same time, we must not forget that the side on which
Wolfe fought was the side of freedom. The point for us
to notice here is that all the freedom and all the
statesmen and all the soldiers put together could never
have made a Greater Britain, especially against all those
other rivals, unless Wolfe's side had also been the side
of sea-power.

Now, sea-power means more than fighting power at sea; it
means trading power as well. But a nation cannot trade
across the sea against its rivals if its own ships are
captured and theirs are not. And long before the Second
Hundred Years' War with France the other sea-trading
empires had been gradually giving way, because in time
of war their ships were always in greater danger than
those of the British were. After the English Navy had
defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588 the Spaniards began,
slowly but surely, to lose their chance of making a
permanent Greater Spain. After the great Dutch War, when
Blake defeated Van Tromp in 1653, there was no further
chance of a permanent Greater Holland. And, even before
the Dutch War and the Armada, the Portuguese, who had
once ruled the Indian Ocean and who had conquered Brazil,
were themselves conquered by Spain and shut out from all
chance of establishing a Greater Portugal.

So the one supreme point to be decided by the Second
Hundred Years' War lay between only two rivals, France
and Britain. Was there to be a Greater France or a Greater
Britain across the seas? The answer depended on the rival
navies. Of course, it involved many other elements of
national and Imperial power on both sides. But no other
elements of power could have possibly prevailed against
a hostile and triumphant navy.

Everything that went to make a Greater France or a Greater
Britain had to cross the sea--men, women, and children,
horses and cattle, all the various appliances a civilized
people must take with them when they settle in a new
country. Every time there was war there were battles at
sea, and these battles were nearly always won by the
British. Every British victory at sea made it harder for
French trade, because every ship between France and
Greater France ran more risk o being taken, while every
ship between Britain and Greater Britain stood a better
chance of getting safely through. This affected everything
on both competing sides in America. British business went
on. French business almost stopped dead. Even the trade
with the Indians living a thousand miles inland was
changed in favour of the British and against the French,
as all the guns and knives and beads and everything else
that the white man offered to the Indian in exchange for
his furs had to come across the sea, which was just like
an enemy's country to every French ship, but just like
her own to every British one. Thus the victors at sea
grew continually stronger in America, while the losers
grew correspondingly weaker. When peace came, the French
only had time enough to build new ships and start their
trade again before the next war set them back once more;
while the British had nearly all their old ships, all
those they had taken from the French, and many new ones.

But where did Wolfe come in? He came in at the most
important time and place of all, and he did the most
important single deed of all. This brings us to the
consideration of how the whole of the Second Hundred
Years' War was won, not by the British Navy alone, much
less by the Army alone, but by the united service of
both, fighting like the two arms of one body, the Navy
being the right arm and the Army the left. The heart of
this whole Second Hundred Years' War was the Seven Years'
War; the British part of the Seven Years' War was then
called the 'Maritime War'; and the heart of the 'Maritime
War' was the winning of Canada, in which the decisive
blow was dealt by Wolfe.

We shall see presently how Navy and Army worked together
as a united service in 'joint expeditions' by sea and
land, how Wolfe took part in two other joint expeditions
before he commanded the land force of the one at Quebec,
and how the mighty empire-making statesman, William Pitt,
won the day for Britain and for Greater Britain, with
Lord Anson at the head of the Navy to help him, and
Saunders in command at the front. It was thus that the
age-long vexed question of a Greater France or a Greater
Britain in America was finally decided by the sword. The
conquering sword was that of the British Empire as a
whole. But the hand that wielded it was Pitt; the hilt was
Anson, the blade was Saunders, and the point was Wolfe.



In 1755 Wolfe was already writing what he thought were
farewell letters before going off to the war. And that
very year the war, though not formally declared till the
next, actually did break out in America, where a British
army under Braddock, with Washington as his aide-de-camp,
was beaten in Ohio by the French and Indians. Next year
the French, owing to the failure of Admiral Byng and the
British fleet to assist the garrison, were able to capture
Minorca in the Mediterranean; while their new general in
Canada, Montcalm, Wolfe's great opponent, took Oswego.
The triumph of the French fleet at Minorca made the
British people furious. Byng was court-martialled, found
guilty of failure to do his utmost to save Minorca, and
condemned to death. In spite of Pitt's efforts to save
him, the sentence was carried out and he was shot on the
quarter-deck of his own flagship. Two other admirals,
Hawke and Saunders, both of whom were soon to see service
with Wolfe, were then sent out as a 'cargo of courage'
to retrieve the British position at sea. By this time
preparations were being hurried forward on every hand.
Fleets were fitting out. Armies were mustering. And, best
of all, Pitt was just beginning to make his influence felt.

In 1757, the third year of war, things still went badly
for the British at the front. In America Montcalm took
Fort William Henry, and a British fleet and army failed
to accomplish anything against Louisbourg. In Europe
another British fleet and army were fitted out to go on
another joint expedition, this time against Rochefort,
a great seaport in the west of France. The senior staff
officer, next to the three generals in command, was Wolfe,
now thirty years of age. The admiral in charge of the
fleet was Hawke, as famous a fighter as Wolfe himself.
A little later, when both these great men were known
throughout the whole United Service, as well as among
the millions in Britain and in Greater Britain, their
names were coupled in countless punning toasts, and
patriots from Canada to Calcutta would stand up to drink
a health to 'the eye of a Hawke and the heart of a Wolfe.'
But Wolfe was not a general yet; and the three pottering
old men who were generals at Rochefort could not make up
their minds to do anything but talk. These generals had
been ordered to take Rochefort by complete surprise. But
after spending five days in front of it, so that every
Frenchman could see what they had come for, they decided
to countermand the attack and sail home.

Wolfe was a very angry and disgusted man. Yet, though
this joint expedition was a disgraceful failure, he had
learned some useful lessons, which he was presently to
turn to good account. He saw, at least, what such
expeditions should not attempt; and that a general should
act boldly, though wisely, with the fleet. More than
this, he had himself made a plan which his generals were
too timid to carry out; and this plan was so good that
Pitt, now in supreme control for the next four years,
made a note of it and marked him down for promotion and

Both came sooner than any one could have expected. Pitt
was sick of fleets and armies that did nothing but hold
councils of war and then come back to say that the enemy
could not be safely attacked. He made up his mind to send
out real fighters with the next joint expedition. So in
1758 he appointed Wolfe as the junior of the three
brigadier-generals under Amherst, who was to join Admiral
Boscawen--nicknamed 'Old Dreadnought'--in a great expedition
meant to take Louisbourg for good and all.

Louisbourg was the greatest fortress in America. It was
in the extreme east of Canada, on the island of Cape
Breton, near the best fishing-grounds, and on the flank
of the ship channel into the St Lawrence. A fortress
there, in which French fleets could shelter safely, was
like a shield for New France and a sword against New
England. In 1745, just before the outbreak of the Jacobite
rebellion in Scotland, an army of New Englanders under
Sir William Pepperrell, with the assistance of Commodore
Warren's fleet, had taken this fortress. But at the peace
of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, when Wolfe had just come of
age, it was given back to France.

Ten years later, when Wolfe went out to join the second
army that was sent against it, the situation was extremely
critical. Both French and British strained every nerve,
the one to hold, the other to take, the greatest fortress
in America. A French fleet sailed from Brest in the spring
and arrived safely. But it was not nearly strong enough
to attempt a sea-fight off Louisbourg, and three smaller
fleets that were meant to join it were all smashed up
off the coast of France by the British, who thus knew,
before beginning the siege, that Louisbourg could hardly
expect any help from outside. Hawke was one of the British
smashers this year. The next year he smashed up a much
greater force in Quiberon Bay, and so made 'the eye of
a Hawke and the heart of a Wolfe' work together again,
though they were thousands of miles apart and one directed
a fleet while the other inspired an army.

The fortress of Louisbourg was built beside a fine harbour
with an entrance still further defended by a fortified
island. It was garrisoned by about four thousand four
hundred soldiers. Some of these were hired Germans, who
cared nothing for the French; and the French-Canadian
and Indian irregulars were not of much use at a regular
siege. The British admiral Boscawen had a large fleet,
and General Amherst an army twelve thousand strong. Taking
everything into account, by land and sea, the British
united service at the siege was quite three times as
strong as the French united service. But the French ships,
manned by three thousand sailors, were in a good harbour,
and they and the soldiers were defended by thick walls
with many guns. Besides, the whole defence was conducted
by Drucour, as gallant a leader as ever drew sword.

Boscawen was chosen by Pitt for the same reason as Wolfe
had been, because he was a fighter. He earned his nickname
of 'Old Dreadnought' from the answer he made one night
in the English Channel when the officer of the watch
called him to say that two big French ships were bearing
down on his single British one. 'What are we to do, sir?'
asked the officer. 'Do?' shouted Boscawen, springing out
of his berth, 'Do?--Why, damn 'em, fight 'em, of course!'
And they did. Amherst was the slow-and-sure kind of
general; but he had the sense to know a good man when he
saw one, and to give Wolfe the chance of trying his own
quick-and-sure way instead.

A portion of the British fleet under Vice-Admiral Sir
Charles Hardy had been cruising off Louisbourg for some
time before Boscawen's squadron hove in sight on June 2.
This squadron was followed by more than twice its own
number of ships carrying the army. All together, there
were a hundred and fifty-seven British vessels, besides
Hardy's covering squadron. Of course, the men could not
be landed under the fire of the fortress. But two miles
south of it, and running westward from it for many miles
more, was Gabarus Bay with an open beach. For several
days the Atlantic waves dashed against the shore so
furiously that no boat could live through their breakers.
But on the eighth the three brigades of infantry made
for three different points, [Footnote: White Point, Flat
Point, and Kennington Cove. See the accompanying Map of
the siege.] respectively two, three, and four miles from
the fortress. The French sent out half the garrison to
shoot down the first boatloads that came in on the rollers.
To cover the landing, some of Boscawen's ships moved in
as close as they could and threw shells inshore: but
without dislodging the enemy.

Each of the three brigades had its own flag--one red,
another blue, and the third white. Wolfe's brigade was
the red, the one farthest west from Louisbourg, and
Wolfe's did the fighting. While the boats rose and fell
on the gigantic rollers and the enemy's cannon roared
and the waves broke in thunder on the beach, Wolfe was
standing up in the stern-sheets, scanning every inch of
the ground to see if there was no place where a few men
could get a footing and keep it till the rest had landed.
He had first-rate soldiers with him: grenadiers,
Highlanders, and light infantry.

The boats were now close in, and the French were firing
cannon and muskets into them right and left. One cannon-ball
whizzed across Wolfe's own boat and smashed his flagstaff
to splinters. Just then three young light infantry officers
saw a high ledge of rocks, under shelter of which a few
men could form up. Wolfe, directing every movement with
his cane, like Gordon in China a century later, shouted
to the others to follow them; and then, amid the crash
of artillery and the wild welter of the surf, though many
boats were smashed and others upset, though some men were
shot and others drowned, the landing was securely made.
'Who were the first ashore?' asked Wolfe, as the men were
forming up under the ledge. Two Highlanders were pointed
out. 'Good fellows!' he said, as he went up to them and
handed each a guinea.

While the ranks were forming on the beach, the French
were firing into them and men were dropping fast. But
every gap was closed as soon as it was made. Directly
Wolfe saw he had enough men he sprang to the front;
whereupon they all charged after him, straight at the
batteries on the crest of the rising shore. Here there
was some wild work for a minute or two, with swords,
bayonets, and muskets all hard at it. But the French now
saw, to their dismay, that thousands of other redcoats
were clambering ashore, nearer in to Louisbourg, and that
these men would cut them off if they waited a moment
longer. So they turned and ran, hotly pursued, till they
were safe in under the guns of the fortress. A deluge of
shot and shell immediately belched forth against the
pursuing British, who wisely halted just out of range.

After this exciting commencement Amherst's guns, shot,
shell, powder, stores, food, tents, and a thousand other
things had all to be landed on the surf-lashed, open
beach. It was the sailors' stupendous task to haul the
whole of this cumbrous material up to the camp. The
bluejackets, however, were not the only ones to take part
in the work, for the ships' women also turned to, with
the best of a gallant goodwill. In a few days all the
material was landed; and Amherst, having formed his camp,
sat down to conduct the siege.

Louisbourg harbour faces east, runs in westward nearly
a mile, and is over two miles from north to south. The
north and south points, however, on either side of its
entrance, are only a mile apart. On the south point stood
the fortress; on the north the lighthouse; and between
were several islands, rocks, and bars that narrowed the
entrance for ships to only three cables, or a little more
than six hundred yards. Wolfe saw that the north point,
where the lighthouse stood, was undefended, and might be
seized and used as a British battery to smash up the
French batteries on Goat Island at the harbour mouth.
Acting on this idea, he marched with twelve hundred men
across the stretch of country between the British camp
and the lighthouse. The fleet brought round his guns and
stores and all other necessaries by sea. A tremendous
bombardment then silenced every French gun on Goat Island.
This left the French nothing for their defence but the
walls of Louisbourg itself.

Both French and British soon realized that the fall of
Louisbourg was only a question of time. But time was
everything to both. The British were anxious to take
Louisbourg and then sail up to Quebec and take it by
a sudden attack while Montcalm was engaged in fighting
Abercromby's army on Lake Champlain. The French, of
course, were anxious to hold out long enough to prevent
this; and Drucour, their commandant at Louisbourg, was
just the man for their purpose. His wife, too, was as
brave as he. She used to go round the batteries cheering
up the gunners, and paying no more attention to the
British shot and shell than if they had been only fireworks.
On June 18, just before Wolfe's lighthouse batteries were
ready to open fire, Madame Drucour set sail in the
venturesome _Echo_, a little French man-of-war that was
making a dash for it, in the hope of carrying the news
to Quebec. But after a gallant fight the _Echo_ had to
haul down her colours to the _Juno_ and the _Sutherland_.
We shall hear more of the _Sutherland_ at the supreme
moment of Wolfe's career.

Nothing French, not even a single man, could now get into
or out of Louisbourg. But Drucour still kept the flag
up, and sent out parties at night to harass his assailants.
One of these surprised a British post, killed Lord
Dundonald who commanded it, and retired safely after
being almost cut off by British reinforcements. Though
Wolfe had silenced the island batteries and left the
entrance open enough for Boscawen to sail in, the admiral
hesitated because he thought he might lose too many ships
by risking it. Then the French promptly sank some of
their own ships at the entrance to keep him out. But six
hundred British sailors rowed in at night and boarded
and took the only two ships remaining afloat. The others
had been blown up a month before by British shells fired
by naval gunners from Amherst's batteries. Drucour was
now in a terrible, plight. Not a ship was left. He was
completely cut off by land and sea. Many of his garrison
were dead, many more were lying sick or wounded. His
foreigners were ready for desertion. His French Canadians
had grown down-hearted. All the non-combatants wished
him to surrender at once. What else could he do but give
in? On July 27 he hauled down the fleurs-de-lis from the
great fortress. But he had gained his secondary object;
for it was now much too late in the year for the same
British force to begin a new campaign against Quebec.

Wolfe, like Nelson and Napoleon, was never content to
'let well enough alone,' if anything better could possibly
be done. When the news came of Montcalm's great victory
over Abercromby at Ticonderoga, he told Amherst he was
ready to march inland at once with reinforcements. And
after Louisbourg had surrendered and Boscawen had said
it was too late to start for Quebec, he again volunteered
to do any further service that Amherst required. The
service he was sent on was the soldier's most disgusting
duty; but he did it thoroughly, though he would have
preferred anything else. He went with Hardy's squadron
to destroy the French settlements along the Gulf of St
Lawrence, so as to cut off their supplies from the French
in Quebec before the next campaign.

After Rochefort Wolfe had become a marked man. After
Louisbourg he became an Imperial hero. The only other
the Army had yet produced in this war was Lord Howe, who
had been killed in a skirmish just before Ticonderoga.
Wolfe knew Howe well, admired him exceedingly, and called
him 'the noblest Englishman that has appeared in my time,
and the best soldier in the army.' He would have served
under him gladly. But Howe--young, ardent, gallant, yet
profound--was dead; and the hopes of discerning judges
were centred on Wolfe. The war had not been going well,
and this victory at Louisbourg was the first that the
British people could really rejoice over with all their

The British colonies went wild with delight. Halifax had
a state ball, at which Wolfe danced to his heart's content;
while his unofficial partners thought themselves the
luckiest girls in all America to be asked by the hero of
Louisbourg. Boston and Philadelphia had large bonfires
and many fireworks. The chief people of New York attended
a gala dinner. Every church had special thanksgivings.

In England the excitement was just as great, and Wolfe's
name and fame flew from lip to lip all over the country.
Parliament passed special votes of thanks. Medals were
struck to celebrate the event. The king stood on his
palace steps to receive the captured colours, which were
carried through London in triumph by the Guards and the
Household Brigade. And Pitt, the greatest--and, in a
certain sense, the only--British statesman who has ever
managed people, parliament, government, navy, and army,
all together, in a world-wide Imperial war--Pitt, the
eagle-eyed and lion-hearted, at once marked Wolfe down
again for higher promotion and, this time, for the command
of an army of his own. And ever since the Empire Year of
1759 the world has known that Pitt was right.



In October 1758 Wolfe sailed from Halifax for England
with Boscawen and very nearly saw a naval battle off
Land's End with the French fleet returning to France from
Quebec. The enemy, however, slipped away in the dark. On
November 1 he landed at Portsmouth. He had been made full
colonel of a new regiment, the 67th Foot (Hampshires),
and before going home to London he set off to see it at
Salisbury. [Footnote: Ten years later a Russian general
saw this regiment at Minorca and was loud in his praise
of its all-round excellence, when Wolfe's successor in
the colonelcy, Sir James Campbell, at once said: 'The
only merit due to me is the strictness with which I have
followed the system introduced by the hero of Quebec.']
Wolfe's old regiment, the 20th (Lancashire Fusiliers),
was now in Germany, fighting under the command of Prince
Ferdinand of Brunswick, and was soon to win more laurels
at Minden, the first of the three great British victories
of 1759--Minden, Quebec, and Quiberon.

Though far from well, Wolfe was as keen as ever about
anything that could possibly make him fit for command.
He picked out the best officers with a sure eye: generals
and colonels, like Carleton; captains; like Delaune, a
man made for the campaigns in Canada, who, as we shall
see later, led the 'Forlorn Hope' up the Heights of
Abraham. Wolfe had also noted in a third member of the
great Howe family a born leader of light infantry for
Quebec. Wolfe was very strong on light infantry, and
trained them to make sudden dashes with a very short but
sharp surprise attack followed by a quick retreat under
cover. One day at Louisbourg an officer said this reminded
him of what Xenophon wrote about the Carduchians who
harassed the rear of the world-famous 'Ten Thousand.' 'I
had it from Xenophon' was Wolfe's reply. Like all great
commanders, Wolfe knew what other great commanders had
done and thought, no matter to what age or nation they
belonged: Greek, Roman, German, French, British, or any
other. Years before this he had recommended a young
officer to study the Prussian Army Regulations and Vauban's
book on Sieges. Nor did he forget to read the lives of
men like Scanderbeg and Ziska, who could teach him many
unusual lessons. He kept his eyes open everywhere, all
his life long, on men and things and books. He recommended
his friend. Captain Rickson, who was then in Halifax, to
read Montesquieu's not yet famous book _The Spirit of
Laws_, because it would be useful for a government official
in a new country. Writing home to his mother from Louisbourg
about this new country, that is, before Canada had become
British, before there was much more than a single million
of English-speaking people in the whole New World, and
before most people on either side of the Atlantic understood
what a great oversea empire meant at all, he said: 'This
will sometime hence, be a vast empire, the seat of power
and learning. Nature has refused them nothing, and there
will grow a people out of our little spot, England, that
will fill this vast space, and divide this great portion
of the globe with the Spaniards, who are possessed of
the other half of it.'

On arriving in England Wolfe had reported his presence
to the commander-in-chief, Lord Ligonier, requesting
leave of absence in order that he might visit his relatives.
This was granted, and the Wolfe family met together once
more and for the last time.

Though he said little about it, Wolfe must have snatched
some time for Katherine Lowther, his second love, to whom
he was now engaged. What had happened between him and
his first love, Miss Lawson, will probably never be known.
We know that his parents were opposed to his marrying
her. Perhaps, too, she may not have been as much in love
as he was. But, for whatever reason, they parted. Then
he fell in love with beautiful Katherine Lowther, a sister
to the Earl of Lonsdale and afterwards Duchess of Bolton.

Meanwhile Pitt was planning for his Empire Year of 1759,
the year of Ferdinand at Minden, Wolfe at Quebec, and
Hawke in Quiberon Bay. Before Pitt had taken the war in
hand nearly everything had gone against the British.
Though Clive had become the British hero of India in
1757, and Wolfe of Louisbourg in 1758, there had hitherto
been more defeats than victories. Minorca had been lost
in 1756; in America Braddock's army had been destroyed
in 1755; and Montcalm had won victories at Oswego in
1756, at Fort William Henry in 1757, and at Ticonderoga
in 1758. More than this, in 1759 the French were preparing
fleets and armies to invade England, Ireland, and Scotland;
and the British people were thinking rather of their own
defence at home than of attacking the French abroad.

Pitt, however, rightly thought that vigorous attacks from
the sea were the best means of defence at home. From
London he looked out over the whole world: at France and
her allies in the centre, at French India on his far
left, and at French Canada on his far right; with the
sea dividing his enemies and uniting his friends, if only
he could hold its highways with the British Navy.

To carry out his plans Pitt sent a small army and a great
deal of money to Frederick the Great, to help him in the
middle of Europe against the Russians, Austrians, and
French. At the same time he let Anson station fleets
round the coast of France, so that no strong French force
could get at Britain or Greater Britain, or go to help
Greater France, without a fight at sea. Then, having cut
off Canada from France and taken her outpost at Louisbourg,
he aimed a death-blow at her very heart by sending
Saunders, with a quarter of the whole British Navy,
against Quebec, the stronghold of New France, where the
land attack was to be made by a little army of 9,000 men
under Wolfe. Even this was not the whole of Pitt's plan
for the conquest of Canada. A smaller army was to be sent
against the French on the Great Lakes, and a larger one,
under Amherst, along the line of Lake Champlain, towards

Pitt did a very bold thing when he took a young colonel
and asked the king to make him a general and allow him
to choose his own brigadiers and staff officers. It was
a bold thing, because, whenever there is a position of
honour to be given, the older men do not like being passed
over and all the politicians who think of themselves
first and their country afterwards wish to put in their
own favourites. Wolfe, of course, had enemies. Dullards
often think that men of genius are crazy, and some one
had told the king that Wolfe was mad. 'Mad, is he?' said
the king, remembering all the recent British defeats on
land 'then I hope he'll bite some of my other generals!'
Wolfe was not able to give any of his seniors his own
and Lord Howe's kind of divine 'madness' during that war.
But he did give a touch of it to many of his juniors;
with the result that his Quebec army was better officered
than any other British land force of the time.

The three brigadiers next in command to Wolfe--Monckton,
Townshend, and Murray--were not chosen simply because
they were all sons of peers, but because, like Howe and
Boscawen, they were first-rate officers as well. Barre
and Carleton were the two chief men on the staff. Each
became celebrated in later days, Barre in parliament,
and Carleton as both the saviour of Canada from the
American attack in 1775 and the first British
governor-general. Williamson, the best gunnery expert in
the whole Army, commanded the artillery. The only
troublesome officer was Townshend, who thought himself,
and whose family and political friends thought him, at
least as good a general as Wolfe, if not a better one.
But even Townshend did his duty well. The army at Halifax
was supposed to be twelve thousand, but its real strength
was only nine thousand. The difference was mostly due to
the ravages of scurvy and camp fever, both of which, in
their turn, were due to the bad food supplied by rascally
contractors. The action of the officers alone saved the
situation from becoming desperate. Indeed, if it had not
been for what the officers did for their men in the way
of buying better food, at great cost, out of their own
not well-filled pockets, there might have been no army
at all to greet Wolfe on his arrival in America.

The fleet was the greatest that had ever sailed across
the seas. It included one-quarter of the whole Royal
Navy. There were 49 men-of-war manned by 14,000 sailors
and marines. There were also more than 200 vessels--
transports, store ships, provision ships, etc.--manned
by about 7,000 merchant seamen. Thus there were at least
twice as many sailors as soldiers at the taking of Quebec.
Saunders was a most capable admiral. He had been
flag-lieutenant during Anson's famous voyage round the
world; then Hawke's best fighting captain during the war
in which Wolfe was learning his work at Dettingen and
Laffeldt; and then Hawke's second-in-command of the 'cargo
of courage' sent out after Byng's disgrace at Minorca.
After Quebec he crowned his fine career by being one of
the best first lords of the Admiralty that ever ruled
the Navy. Durell, his next in command, was slower than
Amherst; and Amherst never made a short cut in his life,
even to certain success. Holmes, the third admiral, was
thoroughly efficient. Hood, a still better admiral than
any of those at Quebec, afterwards served under Holmes,
and Nelson under Hood; which links Trafalgar with Quebec.
But a still closer link with 'mighty Nelson' was Jervis,
who took charge of Wolfe's personal belongings at Quebec
the night before the battle and many years later became
Nelson's commander-in-chief. Another Quebec captain who
afterwards became a great admiral was Hughes, famous for
his fights in India. But the man whose subsequent fame
in the world at large eclipsed that of any other in this
fleet was Captain Cook, who made the first good charts
of Canadian waters some years before he became a great
explorer in the far Pacific.

There was a busy scene at Portsmouth on February 17, when
Saunders and Wolfe sailed in the flagship H.M.S. Neptune,
of 90 guns and a crew of 750 men. She was one of the
well-known old 'three-deckers,' those 'wooden walls of
England' that kept the Empire safe while it was growing
up. The guard of red-coated marines presented arms, and
the hundreds of bluejackets were all in their places as
the two commanders stepped on board. The naval officers
on the quarter-deck were very spick and span in their
black three-cornered hats, white wigs, long, bright blue,
gold-laced coats, white waistcoats and breeches and
stockings, and gold-buckled shoes. The idea of having
naval uniforms of blue and white and gold--the same
colours that are worn to-day--came from the king's seeing
the pretty Duchess of Bedford in a blue-and-white
riding-habit, which so charmed him that he swore he would
make the officers wear the same colours for the uniforms
just then being newly tried. This was when the Duke of
Bedford was first lord of the Admiralty, some years before
Pitt's great expedition against Quebec.

The sailors were also in blue and white; but they were
not so spick and span as the officers. They were a very
rough-and-ready-looking lot. They wore small, soft,
three-cornered black hats, bright blue jackets, open
enough to show their coarse white shirts, and coarse
white duck trousers. They had shoes without stockings on
shore, and only bare feet on board. They carried cutlasses
and pistols, and wore their hair in pigtails. They would
be a surprising sight to modern eyes. But not so much so
as the women! Ships and regiments in those days always
had a certain number of women for washing and mending
the clothes. There was one woman to about every twenty
men. They drew pay and were under regular orders just
like the soldiers and sailors. Sometimes they gave a
willing hand in action, helping the 'powder-monkeys'
--boys who had to pass the powder from the barrels to
the gunners--or even taking part in a siege, as at

The voyage to Halifax was long, rough, and cold, and
Wolfe was sea-sick as ever. Strangely enough, these ships
coming out to the conquest of Canada under St George's
cross made land on St George's Day near the place where
Cabot had raised St George's cross over Canadian soil
before Columbus had set foot on the mainland of America.
But though April 23 might be a day of good omen, it was
a very bleak one that year off Cape Breton, where ice
was packed for miles and miles along the coast. On the
30th the fleet entered Halifax. Slow old Durell was
hurried off on May 5 with eight men-of-war and seven
hundred soldiers under Carleton to try to stop any French
ships from getting up to Quebec. Carleton was to go ashore
at Isle-aux-Coudres, an island commanding the channel
sixty miles below Quebec, and mark out a passage for the
fleet through the 'Traverse' at the lower end of the
island of Orleans, thirty miles higher up.

On the 13th Saunders sailed for Louisbourg, where the
whole expedition was to meet and get ready. Here Wolfe
spent the rest of Map, working every day and all day.
His army, with the exception of nine hundred American
rangers, consisted of seasoned British regulars, with
all the weaklings left behind; and it did his heart good
to see them on parade. There was the 15th, whose officers
still wear a line of black braid on their uniforms in
mourning for his death. The 15th and five other regiments
--the 28th, 43rd, 47th, 48th, and 58th--were English.
But the 35th had been forty years in Ireland, and was
Irish to a man. The whole seven regiments were dressed
very much alike: three-cornered, stiff black hats with
black cockades, white wigs, long-tailed red coats turned
back with blue or white in front, where they were fastened
only at the neck, white breeches, and long white gaiters
coming over the knee. A very different corps was the
78th, or 'Fraser's,' Highlanders, one of the regiments
Wolfe first recommended and Pitt first raised. Only
fourteen years before the Quebec campaign these same
Highlanders had joined Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender,
in the famous ''45.' They were mostly Roman Catholics,
which accounts for the way they intermarried with the
French Canadians after the conquest. They had been fighting
for the Stuarts against King George, and Wolfe, as we
have seen, had himself fought against them at Culloden.
Yet here they were now, under Wolfe, serving King George.
They knew that the Stuart cause was lost for ever; and
all of them, chiefs and followers alike, loved the noble
profession of arms. The Highlanders then wore 'bonnets'
like a high tam-o'-shanter, with one white curly feather
on the left side. Their red coats were faced with yellow,
and they wore the Fraser plaid hung from the shoulders
and caught up, loopwise, on both hips. Their kilts were
very short and not pleated. Badger sporrans, showing the
head in the middle, red-and-white-diced hose, and buckled
brogues completed their wild but martial dress, which
was well set off by the dirks and claymores that swung
to the stride of the mountaineer.

Each regiment had one company of grenadiers, picked out
for their size, strength, and steadiness, and one company
of light infantry, picked out for their quickness and
good marksmanship. Sometimes all the grenadier companies
would be put together in a separate battalion. The same
thing was often done with the light infantry companies,
which were then led by Colonel Howe. Wolfe had also made
up a small three-company battalion of picked grenadiers
from the five regiments that were being left behind at
Louisbourg to guard the Maritime Provinces. This little
battalion became famous at Quebec as the 'Louisbourg
Grenadiers.' The grenadiers all wore red and white, like
the rest, except that their coats were buttoned up the
whole way, and instead of the three-cornered hats they
wore high ones like a bishop's mitre. The artillery wore
blue-grey coats turned back with red, yellow braid, and
half-moon-shaped black hats, with the points down towards
their shoulders.

The only remaining regiment is of much greater interest
in connection with a Canadian campaign. It was the 60th
Foot, then called the Royal Americans, afterwards the
Sixtieth Rifles or 'Old Sixtieth,' and now the King's
Royal Rifle Corps. It was the first regiment of regulars
ever raised in Greater Britain, and the first to introduce
the rifle-green uniform now known all over the Empire,
especially in Canada, where all rifle regiments still
follow 'the 60th's' lead so far as that is possible. Many
of its officers and men who returned from the conquest
of Canada to their homes in the British colonies were
destined to move on to Canada with their families as
United Empire Loyalists. This was their first war; and
they did so well in it that Wolfe gave them the rifleman's
motto they still bear in token of their smartness and
dash--_Celer et Audax_. Unfortunately they did not then
wear the famous 'rifle green' but the ordinary red.
Unfortunately, too, the rifleman's green has no connection
with the 'green jackets of American backwoodsmen in the
middle of the eighteenth century.' The backwoodsmen were
not dressed in green as a rule, and they never formed
any considerable part of the regiment at any time. The
first green uniform came in with the new 5th battalion
in 1797; and the old 2nd and 3rd battalions, which fought
under Wolfe, did not adopt it till 1815. It was not even
of British origin, but an imitation of a German hussar
uniform which was itself an imitation of one worn by the
Hungarians, who have the senior hussars of the world.
But though Wolfe's Royal Americans did not wear the rifle
green, and though their coats and waistcoats were of
common red, their uniforms differed from those of all
other regiments at Quebec in several particulars. The
most remarkable difference was the absence of lace, an
absence specially authorized only for this corps, and
then only in view of special service and many bush fights
in America. The double-breasted coats were made to button
across, except at the top, where the lapels turned back,
like the cuffs and coat-tails. All these 'turnbacks' and
the breeches were blue. The very long gaiters, the waist
and cross belts, the neckerchief and hat piping were
white. Wearing this distinctively plain uniform, and led
by their buglers and drummers in scarlet and gold, like
state trumpeters, the Royal Americans could not, even at
a distance, be mistaken for any other regiment.

On June 6 Saunders and Wolfe sailed for Quebec with a
hundred and forty-one ships. Wolfe's work in getting his
army safely off being over, he sat down alone in his
cabin to make his will. His first thought was for Katherine
Lowther, his _fiancee_, who was to have her own miniature
portrait, which he carried with him, set in jewels and
given back to her. Warde, Howe, and Carleton were each
remembered. He left all the residue of his estate to 'my
good mother,' his father having just died. More than a
third of the whole will was taken up with providing for
his servants. No wonder he was called 'the soldier's

There was a thrilling scene at Louisbourg as regiment
after regiment marched down to the shore, with drums
beating, bugles sounding, and colours flying. Each night,
after drinking the king's health, they had drunk another
toast--'British colours on every French fort, port, and
garrison in North America.' Now here they were, the pick
of the Army and Navy, off with Wolfe to raise those
colours over Quebec, the most important military point
on the whole continent. On they sailed, all together,
till they reached the Saguenay, a hundred and twenty
miles below Quebec. Here, on the afternoon of June 20,
the sun shone down on a sight such as the New World had
never seen before, and has never seen again. The river
narrows opposite the Saguenay and is full of shoals and
islands; so this was the last day the whole one hundred
and forty-one vessels sailed together, in their three
divisions, under those three ensigns--'The Red, White,
and Blue'--which have made the British Navy loved, feared,
and famous round the seven seas. What a sight it was!
Thousands and thousands of soldiers and sailors crowded
those scores and scores of high-decked ships; while
hundreds and hundreds of swelling sails gleamed white
against the sun, across the twenty miles of blue St

Wolfe, however, was not there to see it. He had gone
forward the day before. A dispatch-boat had come down
from Durell to say that, in spite of his advanced squadron,
Bougainville, Montcalm's ablest brigadier, had slipped
through with twenty-three ships from France, bringing
out a few men and a good deal of ammunition, stores, and
food. This gave Quebec some sorely needed help. Besides,
Montcalm had found out Pitt's plan; and nobody knew where
the only free French fleet was now. It had wintered in
the West Indies. But had it sailed for France or the St
Lawrence? At the first streak of dawn on the 23rd Durell's
look-out off Isle-aux-Coudres reported many ships coming
up the river under a press of sail. Could the French West
Indian fleet have slipped in ahead of Saunders, as
Bougainville had slipped in ahead of Durell himself? There
was a tense moment on board of Durell's squadron and in
Carleton's camp, in the pale, grey light of early morning,
as the bugles sounded, the boatswains blew their whistles
and roared their orders, and all hands came tumbling up
from below and ran to battle quarters with a rush of
swift bare feet. But the incoming vanship made the private
British signal, and both sides knew that all was well.

For a whole week the great fleet of one hundred and
forty-one ships worked their way through the narrow
channel between Isle-aux-Coudres and the north shore,
and then dared the dangers of the Traverse, below the
island of Orleans, where the French had never passed more
than one ship at a time, and that only with the greatest
caution. The British went through quite easily, without
a single accident. In two days the great Captain Cook
had sounded and marked out the channel better than the
French had in a hundred and fifty years; and so thoroughly
was his work done that the British officers could handle
their vessels in these French waters better without than
with the French pilots. Old Captain Killick took the
_Goodwill_ through himself, just next ahead of the
_Richmond_, on board of which was Wolfe. The captured
French pilot in the _Goodwill_ was sure she would be lost
if she did not go slow and take more care. But Killick
laughed at him and said: 'Damn me, but I'll convince you
an Englishman can go where a Frenchman daren't show his
nose!' And he did.

On June 26 Wolfe arrived at the west end of the island
of Orleans, in full view of Quebec. The twenty days'
voyage from Louisbourg had ended and the twelve weeks'
siege had begun. At this point we must take the map and
never put it aside till the final battle is over. A whole
book could not possibly make Wolfe's work plain to any
one without the map. But with the map we can easily follow
every move in this, the greatest crisis in both Wolfe's
career and Canada's history.

What Wolfe saw and found out was enough to daunt any
general. He had a very good army, but it was small. He
could count upon the help of a mighty fleet, but even
British fleets cannot climb hills or make an enemy come
down and fight. Montcalm, however, was weakened by many
things. The governor, Vaudreuil, was a vain, fussy, and
spiteful fool, with power enough to thwart Montcalm at
every turn. The intendant, Bigot, was the greatest knave
ever seen in Canada, and the head of a gang of official
thieves who robbed the country and the wretched French
Canadians right and left. The French army, all together,
numbered nearly seventeen thousand, almost twice Wolfe's
own; but the bulk of it was militia, half starved and
badly armed. Both Vaudreuil and Bigot could and did
interfere disastrously with the five different forces
that should have been made into one army under Montcalm
alone--the French regulars, the Canadian regulars, the
Canadian militia, the French sailors ashore, and the
Indians. Montcalm had one great advantage over Wolfe. He
was not expected to fight or manoeuvre in the open field.
His duty was not to drive Wolfe away, or even to keep
Amherst out of Canada. All he had to do was to hold Quebec
throughout the summer. The autumn would force the British
fleet to leave for ice-free waters. Then, if Quebec could
only be held, a change in the fortunes of war, or a treaty
of peace, might still keep Canada in French hands. Wolfe
had either to tempt Montcalm out of Quebec or get into
it himself; and he soon realized that he would have to
do this with the help of Saunders alone; for Amherst in
the south was crawling forward towards Montreal so slowly
that no aid from him could be expected.

Montcalm's position certainly looked secure for the
summer. His left flank was guarded by the Montmorency,
a swift river that could be forded only by a few men at
a time in a narrow place, some miles up, where the dense
bush would give every chance to his Indians and Canadians.
His centre was guarded by entrenchments running from the
Montmorency to the St Charles, six miles of ground, rising
higher and higher towards Montmorency, all of it defended
by the best troops and the bulk of the army, and none of
it having an inch of cover for an enemy in front. The
mouth of the St Charles was blocked by booms and batteries.
Quebec is a natural fortress; and above Quebec the high,
steep cliffs stretched for miles and miles. These cliffs
could be climbed by a few men in several places; but
nowhere by a whole army, if any defenders were there in
force; and the British fleet could not land an army
without being seen soon enough to draw plenty of defenders
to the same spot. Forty miles above Quebec the St Lawrence
channel narrows to only a quarter of a mile, and the down
current becomes very swift indeed. Above this channel
was the small French fleet, which could stop a much larger
one trying to get up, or could even block most of the
fairway by sinking some of its own ships. Besides all
these defences of man and nature the French had floating
batteries along the north shore. They also held the Levis
Heights on the south shore, opposite Quebec, so that
ships crowded with helpless infantry could not, without
terrible risk, run through the intervening narrows, barely
a thousand yards wide.

A gale blowing down-stream was the first trouble for the
British fleet. Many of the transports broke loose and a
good deal of damage was done to small vessels and boats.
Next night a greater danger threatened, when the ebb-tide,
running five miles an hour, brought down seven French
fireships, which suddenly burst into flame as they rounded
the Point of Levy. There was a display of devil's fireworks
such as few men have ever seen or could imagine. Sizzling,
crackling, and roaring, the blinding flames leaped into
the jet-black sky, lighting up the camps of both armies,
where thousands of soldiers watched these engines of
death sweep down on the fleet. Each of the seven ships
was full of mines, blowing up and hurling shot and shell
in all directions. The crowded mass of British vessels
seemed doomed to destruction. But the first spurt of fire
had hardly been noticed before the men in the guard boats
began to row to the rescue. Swinging the grappling-hooks
round at arm's length, as if they were heaving the lead,
the bluejackets made the fireships fast, the officers
shouted, 'Give way!' and presently the whole infernal
flotilla was safely stranded. But it was a close thing
and very hot work, as one of the happy-go-lucky Jack tars
said with more force than grace, when he called out to
the boat beside him: 'Hullo, mate! Did you ever take hell
in tow before?'

Vaudreuil now made Montcalm, who was under his orders,
withdraw the men from the Levis Heights, and thus abandon
the whole of the south shore in front of Quebec. Wolfe,
delighted, at once occupied the same place, with half
his army and most of his guns. Then he seized the far
side of the Montmorency and made his main camp there,
without, however, removing his hospitals and stores from
his camp on the island of Orleans. So he now had three
camps, not divided, but joined together, by the St Lawrence,
where the fleet could move about between them in spite
of anything the French could do. He then marched up the
Montmorency to the fords, to try the French strength
there, and to find out if he could cross the river, march
down the open ground behind Montcalm, and attack him from
the rear. But he was repulsed at the first attempt, and
saw that he could do no better at a second. Meanwhile
his Levis batteries began a bombardment which lasted two
months and reduced Quebec to ruins.

Yet he seemed as far off as ever from capturing the city.
Battering down the houses of Quebec brought him no nearer
to his object, while Montcalm's main body still stood
securely in its entrenchments down at Beauport. Wolfe
now felt he must try something decisive, even if desperate;
and he planned an attack by land and water on the French
left. Both French and British were hard at work on July
31. In the morning Wolfe sent one regiment marching up
the Montmorency, as if to try the fords again, and another,
also in full view of the French, up along the St Lawrence
from the Levis batteries, as if it was to be taken over
by the ships to the north shore above Quebec. Meanwhile
Monckton's brigade was starting from the Point of Levy
in row-boats, the _Centurion_ was sailing down to the
mouth of the Montmorency, two armed transports were being
purposely run ashore on the beach at the top of the tide,
and the _Pembroke_, _Trent_, _Lowestoff_, and _Racehorse_
were taking up positions to cover the boats. The men-of-war
and Wolfe's batteries at Montmorency then opened fire on
the point he wished to attack; and both of them kept it
up for eight hours, from ten till six. All this time the
Levis batteries were doing their utmost against Quebec.
But Montcalm was not to be deceived. He saw that Wolfe
intended to storm the entrenchments at the point at which
the cannon were firing, and he kept the best of his army
ready to defend it.

Wolfe and the Louisbourg Grenadiers were in the two armed
transports when they grounded at ten o'clock. To his
disgust and to Captain Cook's surprise both vessels stuck
fast in the mud nearly half a mile from shore. This made
the grenadiers' muskets useless against the advanced
French redoubt, which stood at high-water mark, and which
overmatched the transports, because both of these had
grounded in such a way that they could not bring their
guns to bear in reply. The stranded vessels soon became
a death-trap. Wolfe's cane was knocked out of his hand
by a cannon ball. Shells were bursting over the deck,
smashing the masts to pieces and sending splinters of
wood and iron flying about among the helpless grenadiers
and gunners. There was nothing to do but order the men
back to the boats and wait. The tide was not low till
four. The weather was scorchingly hot. A thunderstorm
was brewing. The redoubt could not be taken. The
transports were a failure. And every move had to be made
in full view of the watchful Montcalm, whose entrenchments
at this point were on the top of a grassy hill nearly
two hundred feet above the muddy beach. But Wolfe still
thought he might succeed with the main attack at low
tide, although he had not been able to prepare it at high
tide. His Montmorency batteries seemed to be pitching
their shells very thickly into the French, and his three
brigades of infantry were all ready to act together at
the right time. Accordingly, for the hottest hours of
that scorching day, Monckton's men grilled in the boats
while Townshend's and Murray's waited in camp. At four
the tide was low and Wolfe ordered the landing to begin.

The tidal flats ran out much farther than any one had
supposed. The heavily laden boats stuck on an outer ledge
and had to be cleared, shoved off, refilled with soldiers,
and brought round to another place. It was now nearly
six o'clock; and both sides were eager for the fray.
Townshend's and Murray's brigades had forded the mouth
of the Montmorency and were marching along to support
the attack, when, suddenly and unexpectedly, the grenadiers
spoiled it all! Wolfe had ordered the Louisbourg Grenadiers
and the ten other grenadier companies of the army to form
up and rush the redoubt. But, what with the cheering of
the sailors as they landed the rest of Monckton's men,
and their own eagerness to come to close quarters at
once, the Louisbourg men suddenly lost their heads and
charged before everything was ready. The rest followed
them pell-mell; and in less than five minutes the redoubt
was swarming with excited grenadiers, while the French
who had held it were clambering up the grassy hill into
the safer entrenchments.

The redoubt was certainly no place to stay in. It had no
shelter towards its rear; and dozens of French cannon
and thousands of French muskets were firing into it from
the heights. An immediate retirement was the only proper
course. But there was no holding the men now. They broke
into another mad charge, straight at the hill. As they
reached it, amid a storm of musket balls and grape-shot,
the heavens joined in with a terrific storm of their own.
The rain burst in a perfect deluge; and the hill became
almost impossible to climb, even if there had been no
enemy pouring death-showers of fire from the top. When
Wolfe saw what was happening he immediately sent officers
running after the grenadiers to make them come back from
the redoubt, and these officers now passed the word to
retire at once. This time the grenadiers, all that were
left of them, obeyed. Their two mad rushes had not lasted
a quarter of an hour. Yet nearly half of the thousand
men they started with were lying dead or wounded on that
fatal ground.

Wolfe now saw that he was hopelessly beaten and that
there was not a minute to lose in getting away. The boats
could take only Monckton's men; and the rising tide would
soon cut off Townshend's and Murray's from their camp
beyond the mouth of the Montmorency. The two stranded
transports, from which he had hoped so much that morning,
were set on fire; and, under cover of their smoke and of
the curtain of torrential rain, Monckton's crestfallen
men got into their boats once more. Townshend's and
Murray's brigades, enraged at not being brought into
action, turned to march back by the way they had come so
eagerly only an hour before. They moved off in perfect
order; but, as they left the battlefield, they waved their
hats in defiance at the jeering Frenchmen, challenging them
to come down and fight it out with bayonets hand to hand.

Many gallant deeds were done that afternoon; but none
more gallant than those of Captain Ochterloney and
Lieutenant Peyton, both grenadier officers in the Royal
Americans. Ochterloney had just been wounded in a duel;
but he said his country's honour came before his own,
and, sick and wounded as he was, he spent those panting
hours in the boats without a murmur and did all he could
to form his men up under fire. In the second charge he
fell, shot through the lungs, with Peyton beside him,
shot through the leg. When Wolfe called the grenadiers
back a rescue party wanted to carry off both officers,
to save them from the scalping-knife. But Ochterloney
said he would never leave the field after such a defeat;
and Peyton said he would never leave his captain. Presently
a Canadian regular came up with two Indians, grabbed
Ochterloney's watch, sword and money, and left the Indians
to finish him. One of these savages clubbed him with a
musket, while the other shot him in the chest and dashed
in with a scalping-knife. In the meantime, Peyton crawled
on his hands and knees to a double-barrelled musket and
shot one Indian dead, but missed the other. This savage
now left Ochterloney, picked up a bayonet and rushed at
Peyton, who drew his dagger. A terrible life-and-death
fight followed; but Peyton at last got a good point well
driven home, straight through the Indian's heart. A whole
scalping party now appeared. Ochterloney was apparently
dead, and Peyton was too exhausted to fight any more.
But, at this very moment, another British party came back
for the rest of the wounded and carried Peyton off to
the boats.

Then the Indians came back to scalp Ochterloney. By this
time, however, some French regulars had come down, and
one of them, finding Ochterloney still alive, drove off
the Indians at the point of the bayonet, secured help,
and carried him up the hill. Montcalm had him carefully
taken into the General Hospital, where he was tenderly
nursed by the nuns. Two days after he had been rescued,
a French officer came out for his clothes and other
effects. Wolfe then sent in twenty guineas for his rescuer,
with a promise that, in return for the kindness shown to
Ochterloney, the General Hospital would be specially
protected if the British took Quebec. Towards the end of
August Ochterloney died; and both sides ceased firing
while a French captain came out to report his death and
return his effects.

This was by no means the only time the two enemies treated
each other like friends. A party of French ladies were
among the prisoners brought in to Wolfe one day; and they
certainly had no cause to complain of him. He gave them
a dinner, at which he charmed them all by telling them
about his visit to Paris. The next morning he sent them
into Quebec with his aide-de-camp under a flag of truce.
Another time the French officers sent him a kind of wine
which was not to be had in the British camp, and he sent
them some not to be had in their own.

But the stern work of war went on and on, though the
weary month of August did not seem to bring victory any
closer than disastrous July. Wolfe knew that September
was to be the end of the campaign, the now-or-never of
his whole career. And, knowing this, he set to work--head
and heart and soul--on making the plan that brought him
victory, death, and everlasting fame.


September 13, 1759

On August 19 an aide-de-camp came out of the farmhouse
at Montmorency which served as the headquarters of the
British army to say that Wolfe was too ill to rise from
his bed. The bad news spread like wildfire through the
camp and fleet, and soon became known among the French.
A week passed; but Wolfe was no better. Tossing about on
his bed in a fever, he thought bitterly of his double
defeat, of the critical month of September, of the grim
strength of Quebec, formed by nature for a stronghold,
and then--worse still--of his own weak body, which made
him most helpless just when he should have been most fit
for his duty.

Feeling that he could no longer lead in person, he dictated
a letter to the brigadiers, sent them the secret instructions
he had received from Pitt and the king, and asked them
to think over his three new plans for attacking Montcalm
at Beauport. They wrote back to say they thought the
defeats at the upper fords of the Montmorency and at the
heights facing the St Lawrence showed that the French
could not be beaten by attacking the Beauport lines again,
no matter from what side the attack was made. They then
gave him a plan of their own, which was, to convey the
army up the St Lawrence and fight their way ashore
somewhere between Cap Rouge, nine miles above Quebec,
and Pointe-aux-Trembles, twenty-two miles above. They
argued that, by making a landing there, the British could
cut off Montcalm's communications with Three Rivers and
Montreal, from which his army drew its supplies. Wolfe's
letter was dictated from his bed of sickness on the 26th.
The brigadiers answered him on the 29th. Saunders talked
it all over with him on the 31st. Before this the fate
of Canada had been an affair of weeks. Now it was a matter
of days; for the morrow would dawn on the very last
possible month of the siege--September.

After his talk with Saunders Wolfe wrote his last letter
home to his mother, telling her of his desperate plight:

   The enemy puts nothing to risk, and I can't in conscience
   put the whole army to risk. My antagonist has wisely
   shut himself up in inaccessible entrenchments, so that
   I can't get at him without spilling a torrent of blood,
   and that perhaps to little purpose. The Marquis de
   Montcalm is at the head of a great number of bad
   soldiers and I am at the head of a small number of
   good ones, that wish for nothing so much as to fight
   him; but the wary old fellow avoids an action, doubtful
   of the behaviour of his army. People must be of the
   profession to understand the disadvantages and
   difficulties we labour under, arising from the uncommon
   natural strength of the country.

On September 2 he wrote his last letter to Pitt. He had
asked the doctors to 'patch him up,' saying that if they
could make him fit for duty for only the next few days
they need not trouble about what might happen to him
afterwards. Their 'patching up' certainly cleared his
fevered brain, for this letter was a masterly account of
the whole siege and the plans just laid to bring it to
an end. The style was so good, indeed, that Charles
Townshend said his brother George must have been the real
author, and that Wolfe, whom he dubbed 'a fiery-headed
fellow, only fit for fighting,' could not have done any
more than sign his name. But when George Townshend's own
official letter about the battle in which Wolfe fell was
also published, and was found to be much less effective
than Wolfe's, Selwyn went up to Charles Townshend and
said: 'Look here, Charles, if your brother wrote Wolfe's
letter, who the devil wrote your brother's?'

Wolfe did not try to hide anything from Pitt. He told
him plainly about the two defeats and the terrible
difficulties in the way of winning any victory. The whole
letter is too long for quotation, and odd scraps from it
give no idea of Wolfe's lucid style. But here are a few
which tell the gist of the story:

   I found myself so ill, and am still so weak, that I
   begged the generals to consult together. They are all
   of opinion, that, as more ships and provisions are
   now got above the town, they should try, by conveying
   up five thousand men, to draw the enemy from his
   present position and bring him to an action. I have
   acquiesced in their proposal, and we are preparing to
   put it into execution. The admiral will readily join
   in any measure for the public service. There is such
   a choice of difficulties that I own myself at a loss
   how to determine. The affairs of Great Britain I know
   require the most vigorous measures. You may be sure
   that the small part of the campaign which remains
   shall be employed, as far as I am able, for the honour
   of His Majesty and the interest of the nation. I am
   sure of being well seconded by the admirals and
   generals; happy if our efforts here can contribute to
   the success of His Majesty's arms in any other part
   of America.

On the 31st, the day he wrote to his mother and had his
long talk with Saunders, Wolfe began to send his guns
and stores away from the Montmorency camp. Carleton
managed the removal very cleverly; and on September 3
only the five thousand infantry who were to go up the St
Lawrence were left there. Wolfe tried to tempt Montcalm
to attack him. But Montcalm knew better; and half suspected
that Wolfe himself might make another attack on the
Beauport lines. When everything was ready, all the men
at the Point of Levy who could be spared put off in boats
and rowed over towards Beauport, just as Monckton's men
had done on the disastrous last day of July. At the same
time the main division of the fleet, under Saunders, made
as if to support these boats, while the Levis batteries
thundered against Quebec. Carleton gave the signal from
the beach at Montmorency when the tide was high; and the
whole five thousand infantry marched down the hill, got
into their boats, and rowed over to where the other boats
were waiting. The French now prepared to defend themselves
at once. But as the two divisions of boats came together,
they both rowed off through the gaps between the men-of-war.
Wolfe's army had broken camp and got safely away, right
under the noses of the French, without the loss of a
single man.

A whole week, from September 3 to 10, was then taken up
with trying to see how the brigadiers' plan could be
carried out.

This plan was good, as far as it went. An army is even
harder to supply than a town would be if the town was
taken up bodily and moved about the country. An army
makes no supplies itself, but uses up a great deal. It
must have food, clothing, arms, ammunition, stores of
all kinds, and everything else it needs to keep it fit
for action. So it must always keep what are called
'communications' with the places from which it gets these
supplies. Now, Wolfe's and Montcalm's armies were both
supplied along the St Lawrence, Wolfe's from below Quebec
and Montcalm's from above. But Wolfe had no trouble about
the safety of his own 'communications,' since they were
managed and protected by the fleet. Even before he first
saw Quebec, a convoy of supply ships had sailed from the
Maritime Provinces for his army under the charge of a
man-of-war. And so it went on all through the siege.
Including forty-nine men-of-war, no less than 277 British
vessels sailed up to Quebec during this campaign; and
not one of them was lost on the way, though the St Lawrence
had then no lighthouses, buoys, or other aids to navigation,
as it has now, and though the British officers themselves
were compelled to take the ships through the worst places
in these foreign and little-known waters. The result was
that there were abundant supplies for the British army
the whole time, thanks to the fleet.

But Montcalm was in a very different plight. Since the
previous autumn, when Wolfe and Hardy had laid waste the
coast of Gaspe, the supply of sea-fish had almost failed.
Now the whole country below Quebec had been cut off by
the fleet, while most of the country round Quebec was
being laid waste by the army. Wolfe's orders were that
no man, woman, or child was to be touched, nor any house
or other buildings burnt, if his own men were not attacked.
But if the men of the country fired at his soldiers they
were to be shot down, and everything they had was to be
destroyed. Of course, women and children were strictly
protected, under all circumstances, and no just complaint
was ever made against the British for hurting a single
one. But as the men persisted in firing, the British
fired back and destroyed the farms where the firing took
place, on the fair-play principle that it is right to
destroy whatever is used to destroy you.

It thus happened that, except at a few little villages
where the men had not fired on the soldiers, the country
all round Quebec was like a desert, as far as supplies
for the French were concerned. The only way to obtain
anything for their camp was by bringing it down the St
Lawrence from Montreal, Sorel, and Three Rivers. French
vessels would come down as far as they dared and then
send the supplies on in barges, which kept close in under
the north shore above Quebec, where the French outposts
and batteries protected them from the British men-of-war
that were pushing higher and higher up the river. Some
supplies were brought in by land after they were put
ashore above the highest British vessels. But as a hundred
tons came far more easily by water than one ton by land,
it is not hard to see that Montcalm's men could not hold
out long if the St Lawrence near Quebec was closed to

Wolfe, Montcalm, the brigadiers, and every one else on
both sides knew this perfectly well. But, as it was now
September, the fleet could not go far up the much more
difficult channel towards Montreal. If it did, and took
Wolfe's army with it, the few French men-of-war might
dispute the passage, and some sunken ships might block
the way, at all events for a time. Besides, the French
were preparing to repulse any landing up the river,
between Cap Rouge, nine miles above Quebec, and
Deschambault, forty miles above; and with good prospect
of success, because the country favoured their irregulars.
Moreover, if Wolfe should land many miles up, Montcalm
might still hold out far down in Quebec for the few days
remaining till October. If, on the other hand, the fleet
went up and left Wolfe's men behind, Montcalm would be
safer than ever at Beauport and Quebec; because, how
could Wolfe reach him without a fleet when he had failed
to reach him with one?

The life-and-death question for Wolfe was how to land
close enough above Quebec and soon enough in September
to make Montcalm fight it out on even terms and in the
open field.

The brigadiers' plan of landing high up seemed all right
till they tried to work it out. Then they found troubles
in plenty. There were several places for them to land
between Cap Rouge, nine miles above Quebec, and
Pointe-aux-Trembles, thirteen miles higher still. Ever
since July 18 British vessels had been passing to and
fro above Quebec; and in August, Murray, under the guard
of Holmes's squadron, had tried his brigade against
Pointe-aux-Trembles, where he was beaten back, and at
Deschambault, twenty miles farther up, where he took some
prisoners and burnt some supplies. To ward off further
and perhaps more serious attacks from this quarter,
Montcalm had been keeping Bougainville on the lookout,
especially round Pointe-aux-Trembles, for several weeks
before the brigadiers arranged their plan. Bougainville
now had 2,000 infantry, all the mounted men--nearly
300--and all the best Indian and Canadian scouts, along
the thirteen miles of shore between Cap Rouge and
Pointe-aux-Trembles. His land and water batteries had
also been made much stronger. He and Montcalm were in
close touch and could send messages to each other and
get an answer back within four hours.

On the 7th Wolfe and the brigadiers had a good look at
every spot round Pointe-aux-Trembles. On the 8th and 9th
the brigadiers were still there; while five transports
sailed past Quebec on the 8th to join Holmes, who commanded
the up-river squadron. Two of Wolfe's brigades were now
on board the transports with Holmes. But the whole three
were needed; and this need at once entailed another
difficulty. A successful landing on the north shore above
Quebec could only be made under cover of the dark; and
Wolfe could not bring the third brigade, under cover of
night, from the island of Orleans and the Point of Levy,
and land it with the other two twenty miles up the river
before daylight. The tidal stream runs up barely five
hours, while it runs down more than seven; and winds are
mostly down. Next, if, instead of sailing, the third
brigade marched twenty miles at night across very rough
country on the south shore, it would arrive later than
ever. Then, only one brigade could be put ashore in boats
at one time in one place, and Bougainville could collect
enough men to hold it in check while he called in
reinforcements at least as fast on the French side as
the British could on theirs. Another thing was that the
wooded country favoured the French defence and hindered
the British attack. Lastly, if Wolfe and Saunders collected
the whole five thousand soldiers and a still larger
squadron and convoy up the river, Montcalm would see the
men and ships being moved from their positions in front
of his Beauport entrenchments, and would hurry to the
threatened shore between Cap Rouge and Pointe-aux-Trembles
almost as soon as the British, and certainly in time to
reinforce Bougainville and repulse Wolfe.

The 9th was Wolfe's last Sunday. It was a cheerless,
rainy day; and he almost confessed himself beaten for
good, as he sat writing his last official letter to one
of Pitt's friends, the Earl of Holderness. He dated it,
'On board the _Sutherland_ at anchor off Cap Rouge,
September 9, 1759.' He ended it with gloomy news: 'I am
so far recovered as to be able to do business, but my
constitution is entirely ruined, without the consolation
of having done any considerable service to the state, or
without any prospect of it.'

The very next day, however, he saw his chance. He stood
at Etchemin, on the south shore, two miles above Quebec,
and looked long and earnestly through his telescope at
the Foulon road, a mile and a half away, running up to
the Plains of Abraham from the Anse au Foulon, which has
ever since been called Wolfe's Cove. Then he looked at
the Plains themselves, especially at a spot only one mile
from Quebec, where the flat and open ground formed a
perfect field of battle for his well-drilled regulars.
He knew the Foulon road must be fairly good, because it
was the French line of communication between the Anse au
Foulon and the Beauport camp. The Cove and the nearest
point of the camp were only two miles and a quarter apart,
as the crow flies. But between them rose the tableland
of the Plains, 300 feet above the river. Thus they were
screened from each other, and a surprise at the Cove
might not be found out too soon at the camp.

Now, Wolfe knew that the French expected to be attacked
either above Cap Rouge (up towards Pointe-aux-Trembles)
or below Quebec (down in their Beauport entrenchments).
He also knew that his own army thought the attack would
be made above Cap Rouge. Thus the French were still very
anxious about the six miles at Beauport, while both sides
were keenly watching each other all over the thirteen
miles above Cap Rouge. Nobody seemed to be thinking about
the nine miles between Cap Rouge and Quebec, and least
of all about the part nearest Quebec.

Yes, one man was thinking about it, and he never stopped
thinking about it till he died. That man was Montcalm.
On the 5th, when Wolfe began moving up-stream, Montcalm
had sent a whole battalion to the Plains. But on the 7th,
when the British generals were all at Pointe-aux-Trembles,
Vaudreuil, always ready to spite Montcalm, ordered this
battalion back to camp, saying, 'The British haven't got
wings; they can't fly up to the Plains!' Wolfe, of course,
saw that the battalion had been taken away; and he soon
found out why. Vaudreuil was a great talker and could
never keep a secret. Wolfe knew perfectly well that
Vaudreuil and Bigot were constantly spoiling whatever
Montcalm was doing, so he counted on this trouble in the
French camp as he did on other facts and chances.

He now gave up all idea of his old plans against Beauport,
as well as the new plan of the brigadiers, and decided
on another plan of his own. It was new in one way, because
he had never seen a chance of carrying it out before.
But it was old in another way, because he had written to
his uncle from Louisbourg on May 19, and spoken of getting
up the heights four or five miles above Quebec if he
could do so by surprise. Again, even so early in the
siege as July 18 he had been chafing at what he called
the 'coldness' of the fleet about pushing up beyond
Quebec. The entry in his private diary for that day is:
'The _Sutherland_ and _Squirrell_, two transports, and
two armed sloops passed the narrow passage between Quebec
and Levy _without losing a man_.' Next day, his entry is
more scathing still: 'Reconnoitred the country immediately
above Quebec and found that _if we had ventured the stroke
that was first intended we should infallibly have
succeeded_.' This shows how long he had kept the plan
waiting for the chance. But it does not prove that he
had missed any earlier chances through the 'coldness' of
the fleet. For it is significant that he afterwards struck
out '_infallibly_' and substituted '_probably_'; while
it must be remembered that the _Sutherland_ and her
consorts formed only a very small flotilla, that they
passed Quebec in the middle of a very dark night, that
the St Lawrence above the town was intricate and little
known, that the loss of several men-of-war might have
been fatal, that the enemy's attention had not become
distracted in July to anything like the same bewildering
extent as it had in September, and that the intervening
course of events--however disappointing in itself--certainly
helped to make his plan suit the occasion far better late
than soon. Moreover, in a note to Saunders in August, he
had spoken about a 'desperate' plan which he could not
trust his brigadiers to carry out, and which he was then
too sick to carry out himself.

Now that he was 'patched up' enough for a few days, and
that the chance seemed to be within his grasp, he made
up his mind to strike at once. He knew that the little
French post above the Anse au Foulon was commanded by
one of Bigot's blackguards; Vergor, whose Canadian
militiamen were as slack as their commander. He knew that
the Samos battery, a little farther from Quebec, had too
small a garrison, with only five guns and no means of
firing them on the landward side; so that any of his men,
once up the heights, could rush it from the rear. He knew
the French had only a few weak posts the whole way down
from Cap Rouge, and that these posts often let convoys
of provision boats pass quietly at night into the Anse
au Foulon. He knew that some of Montcalm's best regulars
had gone to Montreal with Levis, the excellent French
second-in-command, to strengthen the defence against
Amherst's slow advance from Lake Champlain. He knew that
Montcalm still had a total of 10,000 men between Montmorency
and Quebec, as against his own attacking force of 5,000;
yet he also knew that the odds of two to one were reversed
in his favour so far as European regulars were concerned;
for Montcalm could not now bring 3,000 French regulars
into immediate action at any one spot. Finally, he knew
that all the French were only half-fed, and that those
with Bougainville were getting worn out by having to
march across country, in a fruitless effort to keep pace
with the ships of Holmes's squadron and convoy, which
floated up and down with the tide.

Wolfe's plan was to keep the French alarmed more than
ever at the two extreme ends of their line--Beauport
below Quebec and Pointe-aux-Trembles above--and then to
strike home at their undefended centre, by a surprise
landing at the Anse au Foulon. Once landed, well before
daylight, he could rush Vergor's post and the Samos
battery, march across the Plains, and form his line of
battle a mile from Quebec before Montcalm could come up
in force from Beauport. Probably he could also defeat
him before Bougainville could march down from some point
well above Cap Rouge.

There were chances to reckon with in this plan. But so
there are in all plans; and to say Wolfe took Quebec by
mere luck is utter nonsense. He was one of the deepest
thinkers on war who ever lived, especially on the British
kind of war, by land and sea together; and he had had
the preparation of a lifetime to help him in using a
fleet and army that worked together like the two arms of
one body. He simply made a plan which took proper account
of all the facts and all the chances. Fools make lucky
hits, now and then, by the merest chance. But no one
except a genius can make and carry out a plan like Wolfe's,
which meant at least a hundred hits running, all in the
selfsame spot.

No sooner had Wolfe made his admirable plan that Monday
morning, September 10, than he set all the principal
officers to work out the different parts of it. But he
kept the whole a secret. Nobody except himself knew more
than one part, and how that one part was to be worked in
at the proper time and place. Even the fact that the Anse
au Foulon was to be the landing-place was kept secret
till the last moment from everybody except Admiral Holmes,
who made all the arrangements, and Captain Chads, the
naval officer who was to lead the first boats down. The
great plot thickened fast. The siege that had been an
affair of weeks, and the brigadiers' plan that had been
an affair of days, both gave way to a plan in which every
hour was made to tell. Wolfe's seventy hours of consummate
manoeuvres, by land and water, over a front of thirty
miles, were followed by a battle in which the fighting
of only a few minutes settled the fate of Canada for

During the whole of those momentous three days--Monday,
Tuesday, and Wednesday, September 10, 11, and 12, 1759
--Wolfe, Saunders, and Holmes kept the French in constant
alarm about the thirteen miles _above_ Cap Rouge and the
six miles _below_ Quebec; but gave no sign by which any
immediate danger could be suspected along the nine miles
between Cap Rouge and Quebec.

Saunders stayed below Quebec. On the 12th he never gave
the French a minute's rest all day and night. He sent
Cook and others close in towards Beauport to lay buoys,
as if to mark out a landing-place for another attack like
the one on July 31. It is a singular coincidence that
while Cook, the great British circumnavigator of the
globe, was trying to get Wolfe into Quebec, Bougainville,
the great French circumnavigator, was trying to keep him
out. Towards evening Saunders formed up his boats and
filled them with marines, whose own red coats, seen at
a distance, made them look like soldiers. He moved his
fleet in at high tide and fired furiously at the
entrenchments. All night long his boatloads of men rowed
up and down and kept the French on the alert. This feint
against Beauport was much helped by the men of Wolfe's
third brigade, who remained at the island of Orleans and
the Point of Levy till after dark, by a whole battalion
of marines guarding the Levis batteries, and by these
batteries themselves, which, meanwhile, were bombarding
Quebec--again like the 31st of July. The bombardment was
kept up all night and became most intense just before
dawn, when Wolfe was landing two miles above.

At the other end of the French line, above Cap Rouge,
Holmes had kept threatening Bougainville more and more
towards Pointe-aux-Trembles, twenty miles above the
Foulon. Wolfe's soldiers had kept landing on the south
shore day after day; then drifting up with the tide on
board the transports past Pointe-aux-Trembles; then
drifting down towards Cap Rouge; and then coming back
the next day to do the same thing over again. This had
been going on, more or less, even before Wolfe had made
his plan, and it proved very useful to him. He knew that
Bougainville's men were getting quite worn out by scrambling
across country, day after day, to keep up with Holmes's
restless squadron and transports. He also knew that men
who threw themselves down, tired out, late at night could
not be collected from different places, all over their
thirteen-mile beat, and brought down in the morning, fit
to fight on a battlefield eight miles from the nearest
of them and twenty-one from the farthest.

Montcalm was greatly troubled. He saw redcoats with
Saunders opposite Beauport, redcoats at the island,
redcoats at the Point of Levy, and redcoats guarding the
Levis batteries. He had no means of finding out at once
that the redcoats with Saunders and at the batteries were
marines, and that the redcoats who really did belong to
Wolfe were under orders to march off after dark that very
night and join the other two brigades which were coming
down the river from the squadron above Cap Rouge. He had
no boats that could get through the perfect screen of
the British fleet. But all that the skill of mortal man
could do against these odds he did on that fatal eve of
battle, as he had done for three years past, with foes
in front and false friends behind. He ordered the battalion
which he had sent to the Plains on the 5th, and which
Vaudreuil had brought back on the 7th, 'now to go and
camp at the Foulon'; that is, at the top of the road
coming up from Wolfe's landing-place at the Anse au
Foulon. But Vaudreuil immediately gave a counter-order
and said: 'We'll see about that to-morrow.' Vaudreuil's
'to-morrow' never came.

That afternoon of the 12th, while Montcalm and Vaudreuil
were at cross-purposes near the mouth of the St Charles,
Wolfe was only four miles away, on the other side of the
Plains, in a boat on the St Lawrence, where he was taking
his last look at what he then called the Foulon and what
the world now calls Wolfe's Cove. His boat was just
turning to drift up in midstream, off Sillery Point,
which is only half a mile above the Foulon. He wanted to
examine the Cove well through his telescope at dead low
tide, as he intended to land his army there at the next
low tide. Close beside him sat young Robison, who was
not an officer in either the Army or Navy, but who had
come out to Canada as tutor to an admiral's son, and who
had been found so good at maps that he was employed with
Wolfe's engineers in making surveys and sketches of the
ground about Quebec. Shutting up his telescope, Wolfe
sat silent a while. Then, as afterwards recorded by
Robison, he turned towards his officers and repeated
several stanzas of Gray's _Elegy_. 'Gentlemen,' he said
as he ended, 'I would sooner have written that poem than
beat the French to-morrow.' He did not know then that
his own fame would far surpass the poet's, and that he
should win it in the very way described in one of the
lines he had just been quoting--

   The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

At half-past eight in the evening he was sitting in his
cabin on board Holmes's flagship, the _Sutherland_, above
Cap Rouge, with 'Jacky Jervis'--the future Earl St Vincent,
but now the youngest captain in the fleet, only twenty-four.
Wolfe and Jervis had both been at the same school at
Greenwich, Swinden's, though at different times, and they
were great friends. Wolfe had made up a sealed parcel of
his notebook, his will, and the portrait of Katherine
Lowther, and he now handed it over to Jervis for safe

But he had no chance of talking about old times at home,
for just then a letter from the three brigadiers was
handed in. It asked him if he would not give them 'distinct
orders' about 'the place or places we are to attack.' He
wrote back to the senior, Monckton, telling him what he
had arranged for the first and second brigades, and then,
separately, to Townshend about the third, which was not
with Holmes but on the south shore. After dark the men
from the island and the Point of Levy had marched up to
join this brigade at Etchemin, the very place where Wolfe
had made his plan on the 10th, as he stood and looked at
the Foulon opposite.

His last general orders to his army had been read out
some hours before; but, of course, the Foulon was not
mentioned. These orders show that he well understood the
great issues he was fighting for, and what men he had to
count upon. Here are only three sentences; but how much
they mean! 'The enemy's force is now divided. A vigorous
blow struck by the army at this juncture may determine
the fate of Canada. The officers and men will remember
what their country expects of them.' The watchword was
'Coventry,' which, being probably suggested by the saying,
'Sent to Coventry,' that is, condemned to silence, was
as apt a word for this expectant night as 'Gibraltar,'
the symbol of strength, was for the one on which Quebec

Just before dark Holmes sent every vessel he could spare
to make a show of force opposite Pointe-aux-Trembles, in
order to hold Bougainville there overnight. But after
dark the main body of Holmes's squadron and all the boats
and small transports came together opposite Cap Rouge.
Just before ten a single lantern appeared in the
_Sutherland's_ main topmast shrouds. On seeing this,
Chads formed up the boats between the ships and the south
shore, the side away from the French. In three hours
every man was in his place. Not a sound was to be heard
except the murmur of the strong ebb-tide setting down
towards Quebec and a gentle south-west breeze blowing in
the same direction. 'All ready, sir!' and Wolfe took his
own place in the first boat with his friend Captain
Delaune, the leader of the twenty-four men of the 'Forlorn
Hope,' who were to be the first to scale the cliff. Then
a second lantern appeared above the first; and the whole
brigade of boats began to move off in succession. They
had about eight miles to go. But the current ran the
distance in two hours. As they advanced they could see
the flashes from the Levis batteries growing brighter
and more frequent; for both the land gunners there and
the seamen gunners with Saunders farther down were
increasing their fire as the hour for Wolfe's landing
drew near.

A couple of miles above the Foulon the _Hunter_ was
anchored in midstream. As arranged, Chads left the south
shore and steered straight for her. To his surprise he
saw her crew training their guns on him. But they held
their fire. Then Wolfe came alongside and found that she
had two French deserters on board who had mistaken his
boats for the French provision convoy that was expected
to creep down the north shore that very night and land
at the Foulon. He had already planned to pass his boats
off as this convoy; for he knew that the farthest up of
Holmes's men-of-war had stopped it above Pointe-aux-
Trembles. But he was glad to know that the French posts
below Cap Rouge had not yet heard of the stoppage.

From the _Hunter_ his boat led the way to Sillery Point,
half a mile above the Foulon. 'Halt! Who comes there!'
--a French sentry's voice rang out in the silence of the
night. 'France!' answered young Fraser, who had been
taken into Wolfe's boat because he spoke French like a
native. 'What's your regiment?' asked the sentry. 'The
Queen's,' answered Fraser, who knew that this was the
one supplying the escort for the provision boats the
British had held up. 'But why don't you speak out?' asked
the sentry again. 'Hush!' said Fraser, 'the British will
hear us if you make a noise.' And there, sure enough,
was the _Hunter_, drifting down, as arranged, not far
outside the column of boats. Then the sentry let them
all pass; and, in ten minutes more, exactly at four
o'clock, the leading boat grounded in the Anse au Foulon
and Wolfe jumped ashore.

He at once took the 'Forlorn Hope' and 200 light infantry
to the side of the Cove towards Quebec, saying as he
went, 'I don't know if we shall all get up, but we must
make the attempt.' Then, while these men were scrambling
up, he went back to the middle of the Cove, where Howe
had already formed the remaining 500 light infantry.
Captain Macdonald, a very active climber, passed the
'Forlorn Hope' and was the first man to reach the top
and feel his way through the trees to the left, towards
Vergor's tents. Presently he almost ran into the sleepy
French-Canadian sentry, who heard only a voice speaking
perfect French and telling him it was all right--nothing
but the reinforcements from the Beauport camp; for Wolfe
knew that Montcalm had been trying to get a French regular
officer to replace Vergor, who was as good a thief as
Bigot and as bad a soldier as Vaudreuil. While this little
parley was going on the 'Forlorn Hope' came up; when
Macdonald promptly hit the sentry between the eyes with
the hilt of his claymore and knocked him flat. The light
infantry pressed on close behind. The dumbfounded French
colonial troops coming out of their tents found themselves
face to face with a whole woodful of fixed bayonets. They
fired a few shots. The British charged with a loud cheer.
The Canadians scurried away through the trees. And Vergor
ran for dear life in his nightshirt.

The ringing cheer with which Delaune charged home told
Wolfe at the foot of the road that the actual top was
clear. Then Howe went up; and in fifteen minutes all the
light infantry had joined their comrades above. Another
battalion followed quickly, and Wolfe himself followed
them. By this time it was five o'clock and quite light.
The boats that had landed the first brigade had already
rowed through the gaps between the small transports which
were landing the second brigade, and had reached the
south shore, a mile and a half away, where the third
brigade was waiting for them.

Meanwhile the suddenly roused gunners of the Samos battery
were firing wildly at the British vessels. But the
men-of-war fired back with better aim, and Howe's light
infantry, coming up at a run from behind, dashed in among
the astonished gunners with the bayonet, cleared them
all out, and spiked every gun. Howe left three companies
there to hold the battery against Bougainville later in
the day, and returned with the other seven to Wolfe. It
was now six o'clock. The third brigade had landed, the
whole of the ground at the top was clear; and Wolfe set
off with 1,000 men to see what Montcalm was doing.

Quebec stands on the eastern end of a sort of promontory,
or narrow tableland, between the St Lawrence and the
valley of the St Charles. This tableland is less than a
mile wide and narrows still more as it approaches Quebec.
Its top is tilted over towards the St Charles and Beauport,
the cliffs being only 100 feet high there, instead of
300, as they are beside the St Lawrence; so Wolfe, as he
turned in towards Quebec, after marching straight across
the tableland, could look out over the French camp.
Everything seemed quiet; so he made his left secure and
sent for his main body to follow him at once. It was now
seven. In another hour his line of battle was formed,
his reserves had taken post in his rear, and a brigade
of seamen from Saunders's fleet were landing guns, stores,
blankets, tents, entrenching tools, and whatever else he
would need for besieging the city after defeating Montcalm.
The 3,000 sailors on the beach were anything but pleased
with the tame work of waiting there while the soldiers
were fighting up above. One of their officers, in a letter
home, said they could hardly stand still, and were
perpetually swearing because they were not allowed to
get into the heat of action.

The whole of the complicated manoeuvres, in face of an
active enemy, for three days and three nights, by land
and water, over a front of thirty miles, had now been
crowned by complete success. The army of 5,000 men had
been put ashore at the right time and in the right way;
and it was now ready to fight one of the great immortal
battles of the world.

'The thin red line.' The phrase was invented long after
Wolfe's day. But Wolfe invented the fact. The six battalions
which formed his front, that thirteenth morning of
September 1759, were drawn up in the first two-deep line
that ever stood on any field of battle in the world since
war began. And it was Wolfe alone who made this 'thin
red line,' as surely as it was Wolfe alone who made the
plan that conquered Canada.

Meanwhile Montcalm had not been idle; though he was
perplexed to the last, because one of the stupid rules
in the French camp was that all news was to be told first
to Vaudreuil, who, as governor-general, could pass it on
or not, and interfere with the army as much as he liked.
When it was light enough to see Saunders's fleet, the
island of Orleans, and the Point of Levy, Montcalm at
once noticed that Wolfe's men had gone. He galloped down
to the bridge of boats, where he found that Vaudreuil
had already heard of Wolfe's landing. At first the French
thought the firing round the Foulon was caused by an
exchange of shots between the Samos battery and some
British men-of-war that were trying to stop the French
provision boats from getting in there. But Vergor's
fugitives and the French patrols near Quebec soon told
the real story. And then, just before seven, Montcalm
himself caught sight of Wolfe's first redcoats marching
in along the Ste Foy road. Well might he exclaim, after
all he had done and Vaudreuil had undone: 'There they
are, where they have no right to be!'

He at once sent orders, all along his six miles of
entrenchments, to bring up every French regular and all
the rest except 2,000 militia. But Vaudreuil again
interfered; and Montcalm got only the French and Canadian
regulars, 2,500, and the same number of Canadian militia
with a few Indians. The French and British totals, actually
present on the field of battle, were, therefore, almost
exactly equal, 5,000 each. Vaudreuil also forgot to order
out the field guns, the horses for which the vile and
corrupt Bigot had been using for himself. At nine Montcalm
had formed up his French and colonial regulars between
Quebec and the crest of rising ground across the Plains
beyond which lay Wolfe. Riding forward till he could see
the redcoats, he noticed how thin their line was on its
left and in its centre, and that its right, near the St
Lawrence, had apparently not formed at all. But his eye
deceived him about the British right, as the men were
lying down there, out of sight, behind a swell of ground.
He galloped back and asked if any one had further news.
Several officers declared they had heard that Wolfe was
entrenching, but that his right brigade had not yet had
time to march on to the field. There was no possible way
of finding out anything else at once. The chance seemed
favourable. Montcalm knew he had to fight or starve, as
he was completely cut off by land and water, except for
one bad, swampy road in the valley of the St Charles;
and he ordered his line to advance.

At half-past nine the French reached the crest and halted.
The two armies were now in full view of each other on
the Plains and only a quarter of a mile apart. The French
line of battle had eight small battalions, about 2,500
men, formed six deep. The colonial regulars, in three
battalions, were on the flanks. The five battalions of
French regulars were in the centre. Montcalm, wearing a
green and gold uniform, with the brilliant cross of St
Louis over his cuirass, and mounted on a splendid black
charger, rode the whole length of his line, to see if
all were ready to attack. The French regulars--half-fed,
sorely harassed, interfered with by Vaudreuil--were still
the victors of Ticonderoga, against the British odds of
four to one. Perhaps they might snatch one last desperate
victory from the fortunes of war? Certainly all would
follow wherever they were led by their beloved Montcalm,
the greatest Frenchman of the whole New World. He said
a few stirring words to each of his well-known regiments
as he rode by; and when he laughingly asked the best of
all, the Royal Roussillon, if they were not tired enough
to take a little rest before the battle, they shouted
back that they were never too tired to fight--'Forward,
forward!' And their steady blue ranks, and those of the
four white regiments beside them, with bayonets fixed
and colours flying, did indeed look fit and ready for
the fray.

Wolfe also had gone along his line of battle, the first
of all two-deep thin red lines, to make sure that every
officer understood the order that there was to be no
firing until the French came close up, to within only
forty paces. As soon as he saw Montcalm's line on the
crest he had moved his own a hundred paces forward,
according to previous arrangement; so that the two enemies
were now only a long musket-shot apart. The Canadians
and Indians were pressing round the British flanks, under
cover of the bushes, and firing hard. But they were easily
held in check by the light infantry on the left rear of
the line and by the 35th on the right rear. The few French
and British skirmishers in the centre now ran back to
their own lines; and before ten the field was quite clear
between the two opposing fronts.

Wolfe had been wounded twice when going along his line;
first in the wrist and then in the groin. Yet he stood
up so straight and looked so cool that when he came back
to take post on the right the men there did not know he
had been hit at all. His spirit already soared in triumph
over the weakness of the flesh. Here he was, a sick and
doubly wounded man; but a soldier, a hero, and a conqueror,
with the key to half a continent almost within his eager

At a signal from Montcalm in the centre the French line
advanced about a hundred yards in perfect formation. Then
the Canadian regulars suddenly began firing without
orders, and threw themselves flat on the ground to reload.
By the time they had got up the French regulars had halted
some distance in front of them, fired a volley, and begun
advancing again. This was too much for the Canadians.
Though they were regulars they were not used to fighting
in the open, not trained for it, and not armed for it
with bayonets. In a couple of minutes they had all slunk
off to the flanks and joined the Indians and militia,
who were attacking the British from under cover.

This left the French regulars face to face with Wolfe's
front: five French battalions against the British six.
These two fronts were now to decide the fate of Canada
between them. The French still came bravely on; but their
six-deep line was much shorter than the British two-deep
line, and they saw that both their flanks were about to
be over-lapped by fire and steel. They inclined outwards
to save themselves from this fatal overlap on both right
and left. But that made just as fatal a gap in their
centre. Their whole line wavered, halted oftener to fire,
and fired more wildly at each halt.

In the meantime Wolfe's front stood firm as a rock and
silent as the grave, one long, straight, living wall of
red, with the double line of deadly keen bayonets glittering
above it. Nothing stirred along its whole length, except
the Union Jacks, waving defiance at the fleurs-de-lis,
and those patient men who fell before a fire to which
they could not yet reply. Bayonet after bayonet would
suddenly flash out of line and fall forward, as the
stricken redcoat, standing there with shouldered arms,
quivered and sank to the ground.

Captain York had brought up a single gun in time for the
battle, the sailors having dragged it up the cliff and
run it the whole way across the Plains. He had been
handling it most gallantly during the French advance,
firing showers of grape-shot into their ranks from a
position right out in the open in front of Wolfe's line.
But now that the French were closing he had to retire.
The sailors then picked up the drag-ropes and romped in
with this most effective six-pounder at full speed, as
if they were having the greatest fun of their lives.

Wolfe was standing next to the Louisbourg Grenadiers,
who, this time, were determined not to begin before they
were told. He was to give their colonel the signal to
fire the first volley; which then was itself to be the
signal for a volley from each of the other five battalions,
one after another, all down the line. Every musket was
loaded with two bullets, and the moment a battalion had
fired it was to advance twenty paces, loading as it went,
and then fire a 'general,' that is, each man for himself,
as hard as he could, till the bugles sounded the charge.

Wolfe now watched every step the French line made. Nearer
and nearer it came. A hundred paces!--seventy-five!--fifty!
--forty!!--_Fire!!!_ Crash! came the volley from the
grenadiers. Five volleys more rang out in quick succession,
all so perfectly delivered that they sounded more like
six great guns than six battalions with hundreds of
muskets in each. Under cover of the smoke Wolfe's men
advanced their twenty paces and halted to fire the
'general.' The dense, six-deep lines of Frenchmen reeled,
staggered, and seemed to melt away under this awful deluge
of lead. In five minutes their right was shaken out of
all formation. All that remained of it turned and fled,
a wild, mad mob of panic-stricken fugitives. The centre
followed at once. But the Royal Roussillon stood fast a
little longer; and when it also turned it had only three
unwounded officers left, and they were trying to rally it.

Montcalm, who had led the centre and had been wounded in
the advance, galloped over to the Royal Roussillon as it
was making this last stand. But even he could not stem
the rush that followed and that carried him along with
it. Over the crest and down to the valley of the St
Charles his army fled, the Canadians and Indians scurrying
away through the bushes as hard as they could run. While
making one more effort to rally enough men to cover the
retreat he was struck again, this time by a dozen grape-shot
from York's gun. He reeled in the saddle. But two of his
grenadiers caught him and held him up while he rode into
Quebec. As he passed through St Louis Gate a terrified
woman called out, 'Oh! look at the marquis, he's killed,
he's killed!' But Montcalm, by a supreme effort, sat up
straight for a moment and said: 'It is nothing at all,
my kind friend; you must not be so much alarmed!' and,
saying this, passed on to die, a hero to the very last.

In the thick of the short, fierce fire-fight the bagpipes
began to skirl, the Highlanders dashed down their muskets,
drew their claymores, and gave a yell that might have
been heard across the river. In a moment every British
bugle was sounding the 'Charge' and the whole red, living
wall was rushing forward with a roaring cheer.

But it charged without Wolfe. He had been mortally wounded
just after giving the signal for those famous volleys.
Two officers sprang to his side. 'Hold me up!' he implored
them, 'don't let my gallant fellows see me fall!' With
the help of a couple of men he was carried back to the
far side of a little knoll and seated on a grenadier's
folded coat, while the grenadier who had taken it off
ran over to a spring to get some water. Wolfe knew at
once that he was dying. But he did not yet know how the
battle had gone. His head had sunk on his breast, and
his eyes were already glazing, when an officer on the
knoll called out, 'They run! They run! 'Egad, they give
way everywhere!' Rousing himself, as if from sleep, Wolfe
asked, 'Who run?'--'The French, sir!'--'Then I die content!'
--and, almost as he said it, he breathed his last.

He was not buried on the field he won, nor even in the
country that he conquered. All that was mortal of him--his
poor, sick, wounded body--was borne back across the sea,
and carried in mourning triumph through his native land.
And there, in the family vault at Greenwich, near the
school he had left for his first war, half his short life
ago, he was laid to rest on November 20--at the very time
when his own great victory before Quebec was being
confirmed by Hawke's magnificently daring attack on the
French fleet amid all the dangers of that wild night in
Quiberon Bay.

Canada has none of his mortality. But could she have
anything more sacred than the spot from which his soaring
spirit took its flight into immortal fame? And could this
sacred spot be marked by any words more winged than these:




Wolfe's victory on the Plains of Abraham proved decisive
in the end; but it was not the last of the great struggle
for the Key of Canada.

After Wolfe had died on the field of battle, and Monckton
had been disabled by his wounds, Townshend took command,
received the surrender of Quebec on the 18th, and waited
till the French field army had retired towards Montreal.
Then he sailed home with Saunders, leaving Murray to hold
what Wolfe had won. Saunders left Lord Colville in charge
of a strong squadron, with orders to wait at Halifax till
the spring.

Both French and British spent a terrible winter. The
French had better shelter in Montreal than the British
had among the ruins of Quebec; and, being more accustomed
to the rigours of the climate, they would have suffered
less from cold in any case. But their lot was, on the
whole, the harder of the two; for food was particularly
bad and scarce in Montreal, where even horseflesh was
thought a luxury. Both armies were ravaged by disease to
a most alarming extent. Of the eight thousand men with
whom Murray began that deadly winter not one-half were
able to bear arms in the spring; and not one-half of
those who did bear arms then were really fit for duty.

Montcalm's successor, Levis, now made a skilful, bold,
and gallant attempt to retake Quebec before navigation
opened. Calling the whole remaining strength of New France
to his aid, he took his army down in April, mostly by
way of the St Lawrence. The weather was stormy. The banks
of the river were lined with rotting ice. The roads were
almost impassable. Yet, after a journey of less than ten
days, the whole French army appeared before Quebec. Murray
was at once confronted by a dire dilemma. The landward
defences had never been strong; and he had not been able
to do more than patch them up. If he remained behind them
Levis would close in, batter them down, and probably
carry them by assault against a sickly garrison depressed
by being kept within the walls. If, on the other hand,
he marched out, he would have to meet more than double
numbers at the least; for some men would have to be left
to cover a retreat; and he knew the French grand total
was nearly thrice his own. But he chose this bolder
course; and at the chill dawn of April 28, he paraded
his little attacking force of a bare three thousand men
on the freezing snow and mud of the Esplanade and then
marched out.

The two armies met at Ste Foy, a mile and a half beyond
the walls; and a desperate battle ensued. The French had
twice as many men in action, but only half of these were
regulars; the others had no bayonets; and there was no
effective artillery to keep down the fire of Murray's
commanding guns. The terrific fight went on for hours,
while victory inclined neither to one side nor the other.
It was a far more stubborn and much bloodier contest than
Wolfe's of the year before. At last a British battalion
was fairly caught in flank by overwhelming numbers and
driven across the front of Murray's guns, whose protecting
fire it thus completely masked at a most critical time.
Murray thereupon ordered up his last reserve. But even
so he could no longer stand his ground. Slowly and sullenly
his exhausted men fell back before the French, who put
the very last ounce of their own failing strength into
a charge that took the guns. Then the beaten British
staggered in behind their walls, while the victorious
French stood fast, worn out by the hardships of their
march and fought to a standstill in the battle.

Levis rallied his army for one more effort and pressed
the siege to the uttermost of his power. Murray had lost
a thousand men and could now muster less than three
thousand. Each side prepared to fight the other to the
death. But both knew that the result would depend on the
fleets. There had been no news from Europe since navigation
closed; and hopes ran high among the besiegers that
perhaps some friendly men-of-war might still be first;
when of course Quebec would have to surrender at discretion,
and Canada would certainly be saved for France if the
half-expected peace would only follow soon.

Day after day all eyes, both French and British, looked
seaward from the heights and walls; though fleets had
never yet been known to come up the St Lawrence so early
in the season. At last, on May 9, the tops of a man-of-war
were sighted just beyond the Point of Levy. Either she
or Quebec, or both, might have false colours flying. So
neither besiegers nor besieged knew to which side she
belonged. Nor did she know herself whether Quebec was
French or British. Slowly she rounded into the harbour,
her crew at quarters, her decks all cleared for action.
She saluted with twenty-one guns and swung out her
captain's barge. Then, for the first time, every one
watching knew what she was; for the barge was heading
straight in towards the town, and redcoats and bluejackets
could see each other plainly. In a moment every British
soldier who could stand had climbed the nearest wall and
was cheering her to the echo; while the gunners showed
their delight by loading and firing as fast as possible
and making all the noise they could.

But one ship was not enough to turn the scale; and Levis
redoubled his efforts. On the night of the 15th French
hopes suddenly flared up all through the camp when the
word flew round that three strange men-of-war just reported
down off Beauport were the vanguard of a great French
fleet. But daylight showed them to be British, and British
bent on immediate and vigorous attack. Two of these
frigates made straight for the French flotilla, which
fled in wild confusion, covered by the undaunted Vauquelin
in the _Atalante_, which fought a gallant rearguard action
all the twenty miles to Pointe-aux-Trembles, where she
was driven ashore and forced to strike her colours, after
another, and still more desperate, resistance of over
two hours. That night Levis raised the siege in despair
and retired on Montreal. Next morning Lord Colville
arrived with the main body of the fleet, having made the
earliest ascent of the St Lawrence ever known to naval
history, before that time or since.

Then came the final scene of all this moving drama. Step
by step overpowering British forces closed in on the
doomed and dwindling army of New France. They closed in
from east and west and south, each one of their converging
columns more than a match for all that was left of the
French. Whichever way he looked, Levis could see no
loophole of escape. There was nothing but certain defeat
in front and on both flanks, and starvation in the rear.
So when the advancing British met, all together, at the
island of Montreal, he and his faithful regulars laid
down their arms without dishonour, in the fully justifiable
belief that no further use of them could possibly retrieve
the great lost cause of France in Canada.


Wolfe is one of the great heroes in countless books of
modern British history, by far the greatest hero in the
many books about the fight for Canada, and the single
hero of four biographies. It was more than a century
after his triumphant death before the first of these
appeared: _The Life of Major-General James Wolfe_ by
Robert Wright. A second Life of Wolfe appeared a generation
later, this time in the form of a small volume by A. G.
Bradley in the 'English Men of Action' series. The third
and fourth biographies were both published in 1909, the
year which marked the third jubilee of the Battle of the
Plains. One of them, Edward Salmon's _General Wolfe_,
devotes more than the usual perfunctory attention to the
important influence of sea-power; but it is a sketch
rather than a complete biography, and it is by no means
free from error. The other is _The Life and Letters of
James Wolfe_ by Beckles Willson.

The histories written with the best knowledge of Wolfe's
career in Canada are: the contemporary _Journal of the
Campaigns In North America_ by Captain John Knox, Parkman's
_Montcalm and Wolfe_, and _The Siege of Quebec and the
Battle of the Plains of Abraham_ by A. G. Doughty and G.
W. Parmelee. Knox's two very scarce quarto volumes have
been edited by A. G. Doughty for the Champlain Society
for republication in 1914. Parkman's work is always
excellent. But he wrote before seeing some of the evidence
so admirably revealed in Dr Doughty's six volumes, and,
like the rest, he failed to understand the real value of
the fleet.


End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Winning of Canada: A Chronicle of
Wolf, by William Wood


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