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Forged in war

Battle for Québec


After fruitless manoeuvering along the Beauport shore during the summer of 1759 Major-General Wolfe decided on one final attempt to take Québec. His brigadiers recommended landing the army upriver to cut the road to the French supply base at Batiscan. Wolfe chose instead to land at Anse-au-Foulon, leaving the French supply route open. Landing in three waves, with a force less than 4,500 strong, the British army assembled on a slope with high ground between it and Québec. On that high ground Montcalm mustered his main force, some 4,500 regulars and militia. In Wolfe’s rear, two hours’ march away, was Bougainville’s 3,000-man élite force. On Wolfe’s flanks were the Canadian militia and Indians. Montcalm, who had some 13,000 men at his disposal, merely had to bring up his cannon and then wait for Bougainville to arrive. Wolfe’s men could not remain where they were.

To attack Montcalm’s position in the face of cannon fire while it was being attacked in the rear and on both flanks by vastly superior numbers would assuredly have resulted in the destruction of Wolfe’s army, for whom retreat was impossible. Wolfe had dug a grave for his army but Montcalm marched his own army into it. Instead of waiting to gather his forces he rushed his hastily assembled main force of 4,500 in a headlong attack on Wolfe. Holding their fire until the French columns were at close range, the British volleys sent the French reeling back. Only the Canadian militia on the flanks prevented the British from pursuing the French into the city. At a council of war the French officers refused to give battle again; they insisted on retiring upriver to regroup. Attempts to get supplies and reinforcements into Québec were baulked by Commandant de Ramezay’s precipitate surrender of the city on 18 September.

Synopsis

This piece describes the events of the Battle of Quebec in September 1759. The interactive map allows users to scroll through a timeline from Preparation to Aftermath, to view the state of various elements of the battle.



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Quiz :

How many French people lived in the central interior of North America in 1755?

About 3,000
About 30,000
About 300,000