Classic History Books


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

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

 

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