Classic History Books


William Wood - The Winning of Canada: A Chronicle of Wolfe

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

 

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