Classic History Books


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

settled the fate of Canada for centuries.

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

 

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