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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

The bombardment of Quebec was commencing at the same moment


Quebec

was not fortified; the loss of it involved that of all Canada; it was determined to protect the place by an outlying camp; appeal was made to the Indian tribes, lately zealous in the service of France, but now detached from it by ill fortune and diminution of the advantages offered them, and already for the most part won over by the English. The Canadian colonists, exhausted by war and famine, rose in mass to defend their capital. The different encampments which surrounded Quebec contained about thirteen thousand soldiers. "So strong a force had not been reckoned upon," says an eye-witness, "because nobody had expected to have so large a number of Canadians; but there prevailed so much emulation among this people that there were seen coming into the camp old men of eighty and children of from twelve to thirteen, who would not hear of profiting by the exemption accorded to their age." The poor cultivators, turned soldiers, brought to the camp their slender resources; the enemy was already devastating the surrounding country. "It will take them half a century to repair the damage," wrote an American officer in his journal of the expedition on the St. Lawrence. The bombardment of Quebec was commencing at the same moment.

For more than a month the town had stood the enemy's fire; all the buildings were reduced to ruins, and the French had not yet budged from their camp of Ange-Gardien. On the 31st of July, General Wolfe, with three thousand

men, came and attacked them in front by the River St. Lawrence, and in flank by the River Montmorency. He was repulsed by the firm bravery of the Canadians, whose French impetuosity seemed to have become modified by contact with the rough climates of the north. Immovable in their trenches, they waited until the enemy was within range; and, when at length they fired, the skill of the practised hunters made fearful havoc in the English ranks. Everywhere repulsed, General Wolfe in despair was obliged to retreat. He all but died of vexation, overwhelmed with the weight of his responsibility. "I have only a choice of difficulties left," he wrote to the English cabinet. Aid and encouragement did not fail him.

The forts of Carillon on Lake Champlain and of Niagara on Lake Ontario were both in the hands of the English. A portion of the Canadians had left the camp to try and gather in the meagre crops which had been cultivated by the women and children. In the night between the 12th and 13th of September, General Wolfe made a sudden dash upon the banks of the St. Lawrence; he landed at the creek of Foulon. The officers had replied in French to the _Qui vive_ ( Who goes there?) of the sentinels, who had supposed that what they saw passing was a long-expected convoy of provisions; at daybreak the English army was ranged in order of battle on the Plains of Abraham; by evening, the French were routed, the Marquis of Montcalm was dying, and Quebec was lost.

General Wolfe had not been granted time to enjoy his victory. Mortally wounded in a bayonet charge which he himself headed, he had been carried to the rear. The surgeons who attended to him kept watching the battle from a distance. "They fly," exclaimed one of them. "Who?" asked the general, raising himself painfully. "The French!" was the answer. "Then I am content to die." he murmured, and expired.


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