Classic History Books


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

of you two should. There was no part of his life that
makes him dearer to me than what you so often

mentioned - he pined after me.

It was this pining to follow Wolfe to the wars that cost poor Ned his life. But did not Wolfe himself pine
to follow his father?

The next year, 1745, the Young Pretender, 'Bonnie Prince Charlie,' raised the Highland clans on behalf of
his father, won several battles, and invaded England, in the hope of putting the Hanoverian Georges off

the throne of Great Britain and regaining it for the exiled Stuarts. The Duke of Cumberland was sent to

crush him; and with the duke went Wolfe. Prince Charlie's army retreated and was at last brought to bay

on Culloden Moor, six miles from Inverness. The Highlanders were not in good spirits after their long

retreat before the duke's army, which enjoyed an immense advantage in having a fleet following it along

the coast with plenty of provisions, while the prince's wretched army was half starved. We may be sure

the lesson was not lost on Wolfe. Nobody understood better than he that the fleet is the first thing to

consider in every British war. And nobody saw a better example of this than he did afterwards in Canada.

At daybreak on April 16, 1746, the Highlanders found the duke's army marching towards Inverness, and
drew up in order to prevent it. Both armies halted, each hoping the other would make the mistake of

charging. At last, about one o'clock, the Highlanders in the centre and right could be held back no longer.

So eager were they to get at the redcoats that most of them threw down their muskets without even firing

them, and then rushed on furiously, sword in hand. ''Twas for a time,' said Wolfe, 'a dispute between the

swords and bayonets, but the latter was found by far the most destructable [sic] weapon.' No quarter was

given or taken on either side during an hour of desperate fighting hand to hand. By that time the steady

ranks of the redcoats, aided by the cavalry, had killed five times as many as they had lost by the wild

slashing of the claymores. The Highlanders turned and fled. The Stuart cause was lost for ever.

Again another year of fighting: this time in Holland, where the British, Dutch, and Austrians under the
Duke of Cumberland met the French at the village of Laffeldt, on June 21, 1747. Wolfe was now a

brigade-major, which gave him the same sort of position in a brigade of three battalions as an adjutant

has in a single one; that is, he was a smart junior officer picked out to help the brigadier in command by

seeing that orders were obeyed. The fight was furious. As fast as the British infantry drove back one

French brigade another came forward and drove the British back. The village was taken and lost, lost and

taken, over and over again. Wolfe, though wounded, kept up the fight. At last a new French brigade

charged in and swept the British out altogether. Then the duke ordered the Dutch and Austrians to

advance: But the Dutch cavalry, right in the centre, were seized with a sudden panic and galloped back,

knocking over their own men on the way, and making a gap that certainly looked fatal. But the right man

was ready to fill it. This was Sir John Ligonier, afterwards commander-in-chief of the British Army at

the time of Wolfe's campaigns in Canada. He led the few British and Austrian cavalry, among them the

famous Scots Greys, straight into the gap and on against the dense masses of the French beyond. These

gallant horsemen were doomed; and of course they knew it when they dashed themselves to death against

such overwhelming odds. But they gained the few precious moments that were needed. The gap closed

up behind them; and the army was saved, though they were lost.

During the day Wolfe was several times in great danger. He was thanked by the duke in person for the
splendid way in which he had done his duty. The royal favour, however, did not make him forget the

gallant conduct of his faithful servant, Roland: 'He came to me at the hazard of his life with offers of his

 

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