British General James Wolfe
meets Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham
September 13, 1759
James Wolfe, (1727-1759), was born at Westerham, Kent, Englan on January 2, 1727. He was the elder son of Lieutenant Colonel Edward Wolfe, an experienced soldier, who afterward rose to the rank of lieutenant general, and of Henrietta, daughter of Edward Thompson, of Long Marston, Yorkshire. He received his brief education at private schools, the first at Westerham, the second at Greenwich. From his earliest years he was determined to be a soldier, despite his weak health, which just prevented him from sailing as a volunteer with the ill-fated Cartagena expedition of 1740. In 1741 he received a commission in the marines, but, having transferred into the line, he was sent to Flanders in the spring of 1742 as an ensign in the 12th foot. Until the close of the War of the Austrian Succession, he was continuously on active service, being present at the battles of Dettingen, Falkirk, Culloden and Laffeldt, where he was wounded. His zeal, intelligence and gallantry won him the regard of his superiors, notably the duke of Cumberland. In 1743 he was appointed adjutant of the 12th; next year he received a captain's commission in the 4th; in 1745 and 1747 he served as brigade major; while in Scotland he was aide-de-camp to General Hawley.
In 1749 Wolfe, with the rank of major, was appointed acting commander of the 20th foot, whose lieutenant colonel he became in the following year. He was with this regiment for eight years, during which it was stationed at several towns in Scotland and, from 1753, at various places in the south of England.
In 1757 wolfe was appointed quartermaster general in Ireland, but before entering upon his duties he was chosen by William Pitt for the same position in the expedition against Rochefort. Though the enterprise failed utterly, Pitt and the English public had substantial grounds for their belief that it would have succeeded if plans for landing suggested by Wolfe had been acted upon by the commanders in chief. Wolfe was consequently selected to serve as brigadier under Amherst in the force which was to attempt the capture of Cape Breton and Quebec in 1758. At the siege of Louisburg he played a conspicuous and brilliant part.
Meanwhile, Wolfe had been made colonel of the 67th, but soon after his return home Pitt gave him the command of the expedition which was to renew the attempt to take Quebec. He was to have the local rank of major general, and, though technically under Amherst, to enjoy full discretion in his conduct of operations. Leaving England in February 1759, Wolfe mustered his 9,000 troops at Louisburg and, thanks to marvellous seamanship and the unselfish co-operation of Admiral Saunders, they arrived without mishap at Quebec in the last week of June. Wolfe's first intention was to land above, though near, the town, so as to attack the weak fortifications from the Plains of Abraham; but the plan was abandoned, probably because of the misgivings of Saunders. The British, however, seized the heights on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, opposite Quebec, which they were thus able to bombard, and established a camp at the mouth of the Montgomery River, between which and the city General Marquis de Montcalm had entrenched nearly all his army. Perplexed by Montcalm's deliberate inactivity, Wolfe, on July 31, made an ill-conceived, unsuccessful and costly assault on the French lines.
Wolfe, at this crisis, felt it his duty to consult his three brigadiers. When they counseled a landing to the west of Quebec, he readily concurred, and in a few days more than 3,000 men were transferred to ships above town. Instead, however, of landing above Quebec, he resolved to take a force downstream and disembark it secretly at the Anse du Foulon, a cove only 1˝ miles from the city. This operation he successfully carried out in the early hours of September 13. Montcalm was constrained to make a precipitate attack, and the British musketry decided the issue in a few minutes. Wolfe, however, was mortally wounded by a musket ball, and died after the French gave way.
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