Classic History Books

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

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 grasp.

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.


< back | 40 | next >

Buy This Book



Our Other Sites

Historic Paintings
Online Dating

Kindle 2 Reviews
Funny Video Clips



Classic History Books | Book List | Author Bios | Site Map | About Us | Privacy Statement
This Website is ©Copyright 2008 - 2009 - WebQuest Publishing
None of the content may be copied or reused.