“The Preemptive Conquest, 1749-1763” By W. J. Eccles

Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.  Originally published in France in America © 1972, Harper & Row, Publishers pp. 178-208.


In the Americas the War of the Austrian Succession has changed nothing and settled nothing. After 1748 France wanted an enduring peace to rebuild and restore, but the British commercial community wanted a renewal of the war at the earliest opportunity. The latter powerful group, with Newcastle and Pitt as its political agents, was convinced that peace was good for France, but bad for England. The struggle just ended had achieved sufficient success to demonstrate that were Britain to concentrate her resources on a commercial war, France as a competitor in the world markets could be destroyed and British merchants could then pick up the pieces.1 This aggressive policy found a counterpart in North America where the planters and land speculators of Virginia and Pennsylvania were now eyeing the rich lands of the Ohio Valley. Land companies were now eyeing the rich lands of the Ohio Valley. Land companies were armed in both provinces to seize and parcel out these lands for settlement. Meanwhile, fur traders, who in some instances were also agents of the land companies, had established trading posts in the region and drawn the local tribes into a commercial alliance.2

The French in Canada were acutely aware of the danger posed by this encroachment on lands they claimed. Were it to go unchallenged the English colonials would not only threaten their hold on the northwest fur trade but, by expanding down the Ohio to the Mississippi, would eventually sever communications between Canada and Louisiana. Looking even further ahead, were the English to seize and settle the lands between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi their rapidly expanding population would grow immeasurably in numbers and wealth, and with that, England’s commerce. Since military power was determined to a considerable degree by the size of a country’s population, by the number of trained men with muskets that could be put in the field, the much larger population of France compared to England’s would eventually be offset by that of the English colonies. In America, therefore, English expansion had to be checked.

At Quebec the governor general, the comte de La Galissoniere, took note of these dangers and recommended measures to circumvent them. He proposed that garrisoned forts be established in the Ohio Valley and the Indian tribes brought into the French alliance. In this way English expansion would be blocked. But more than that from Canada and the proposed Ohio bases, the English colonies could be threatened by Canadian and Indian war parties. All that would be needed was a small force of French regulars to garrison the bases. In the previous wars the Canadians had more than held their own against the English colonials. In Britain’s balance of trade those colonies were such an important item the English would have to respond to such a threat. They would have to send troops to aid the ineffectual colonial militia, and this would require the support of sizable elements of the Royal Navy which would then not be available for attacks on the French West Indies, or French maritime commerce, or to blockade the French ports as they had done so successfully in the past war. In other words, the role of the French in North America was to be that of a fortress, with a small garrison to tie down a much larger force of the enemy.3

With the approval of the Ministry of Marine, La Galissoniere lost no time initiating this policy. In 1749 he dispatched an expedition, led by the veteran western commander Pierre-Joseph de Celoron de Blainville, to the Ohio to show the flag, claim the region for France, and drive out the Anglo-American traders. Celoron discovered that British infiltration of the region and influence over the Indian nations was far more serious than had been imagined. La Galissoniere’s successor, Pierre-Jacques de Taffanel, marquis de la Jonquiere, strengthened the French forts in the Great Lakes area, but did little more. The governor of Louisiana, however, Canadian born Pierre de Rigaud, marquis de Vaudreuil, showed a greater awareness of the need for action. He strengthened the garrisons at the posts in the Illinois country and began the construction of Fort Chartres, near Kaskaskia; but even after receiving reinforcements in 1751, he had only some two thousand indifferent regulars to hold the Mississippi Valley from New Orleans to the Illinois River. The French hold on this region had to depend on retaining the active allegiance of the Indian nations.4

On the Atlantic coast the French greatly strengthened the defenses of Louisbourg and sent out fifteen hundred garrison troops under officers who this time maintained discipline. Some of the Acadians of Nova Scotia were enticed to remove to Ile Royale (Cape Breton); merchants and fishermen, with their families, reestablished themselves there until 1752 the population stood at 5, 845.5 Other Acadians were persuaded to settle on Isle St. Jean (Prince Edward Island), and at Beaubassin where the French had a fort. The swift economic recovery of Louisbourg fully justified the sacrifices made to regain it at the peace table. The fishery expanded rapidly, and the old trade with Canada, the West Indies, and New England throve. Yet in this region too the French had to count on the Indian tribes, the Micmacs and Abenaquis, and, hopefully, on the Acadians still resident in Nova Scotia. The English, however, were fully conscious of this revival of French power that threatened their North Atlantic trade. In 1749 they began the construction of a naval base and fortress at Halifax, which not only countered the menace to English shipping but precluded the possibility of the Acadians liberating Nova Scotia.

In the west the French seized the initiative.6 Unlike the Anglo-Americans, the governor general of New France was able to mobilize the colony’s entire military resources with no regard for cost. In 1753 he dispatched two thousand men to Lake Erie to construct a road from southeast of that lake to the headwaters of the Ohio and build a chain of forts at strategic points. The Indian nations, impressed by this show of strength, began to sever their trade connections with the Anglo-Americans. All that the latter could do to counter this erosion of their position was to send a major of militia, George Washington, with an escort of seven men and a letter from Governor Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia, protesting the French invasion of lands claimed by Great Britain and demanding their immediate withdrawal. Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre, commandant at Fort Le Boeuf, a tough veteran of the west, received Washington politely, but contemptuously rejected his blustering ultimatum.

The following year a small force of Virginia militia attempted to establish a fort at the junction of the Ohio and the Monongahela. Before they were well begun a French force, five hundred strong, swept down the upper Ohio and forced them to retire over the crest of the Alleghenies, which the French claimed to be the border between their territory and that of the English colonies. The French now built For Duquesne on the site and thereby dominated the whole region. The Anglo-American response was to send George Washington back, at the head of a motley collection of militia, to drive the French out. They ambushed a small French party sent to order them to retire. The officer in command, Ensign Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville, and nine of his men were killed, twenty-one taken prisoner. This was the first clash of arms in what was to become a global war. Significantly, it began while both powers were at peace. It also began under very dubious circumstances.7

The French reacted swiftly. Washington, with some 350 undisciplined colonial militias, made a stand at Great Meadows, where 500 French, after a short engagement, compelled them to surrender. Washington signed the capitulation terms without taking the trouble to inquire too closely into their meaning and subsequently dishonored them, then fled precipitately with his men back to Virginia. In his haste he abandoned his baggage containing his journal. The contents of that journal were to be used by the French government to brand the English as perfidious throughout Europe.8 Washington’s ignominious defeat brought the last of the wavering Indian nations to the French cause. From that point on, the English had not a single Indian ally in the west, while the strength of the French was enhanced immeasurably. At every turn of events the French had overreached the Anglo-Americans. They were securely in possession of the Ohio country, from its upper reaches to the Mississippi, and from their advanced forts war parties could fall on the rear of the English colonies at any time. For the time being, however, they kept their Indian allies securely on leash, determined on no account to give the enemy an excuse for attack.

The English colonies, with the exception of New York, which had no desire to have its profitable contraband trade with the French colonies disrupted, clamored for war to drive the French out of North America once and for all. In the previous wars England had furnished scant aid to her American subjects. This time the war party, led by Cumberland, Henry Fox, and William Pitt, forced Newcastle to agree to full-scale hostilities against the French in America and on the seas without bothering with the formality of declaring war.9

In October, 1754, Major General Edward Braddock, commanding two battalions, eight hundred men, was ordered to North America with orders to capture Fort Duquesne, while the colonial forces attacked Fort Niagara, the French forts on Lake Champlain, and those on the Nova Scotia border. This force could not sail until the following April, and on the eve of its departure the French obtained a copy of Braddock’s orders. Immediately, they raised six battalions, three thousand men from the better regiments of the troupes de terre.10 In April they too were ready to sail. When the British Cabinet learned of this they issued secret orders to Admiral Edward Boscawen with two squadrons composed of nineteen ships of the line and two frigates to intercept the French convoy, seize the ships, and if resistance were offered, give battle. A few days after he sailed, on April 27, the French ambassador to the court of St. James’s received word that Boscawen had orders to attack the French squadron. On May 10, however, two cabinet ministers dined at his house and cheerfully reassured him that such rumors were completely false, that no such orders had been issued.11

Off Newfoundland Boscawen succeeded in intercepting only threes hips of the French convoy. When Captain Toussaint Hoquart hailed Captain Richard Howe, asking if they were at peace or war, the reply came, ‘At peace, at peace,” followed by shattering broadsides.12 Two of the French ships were captured; the third escaped to Louisbourg. The rest of the convoy, with all but eight companies of troops and with the newly appointed governor general of New France, Pierre de Rigaud, marquis de Vaudreuil, on board, reached Louisbourg and Quebec safely.13 Elsewhere the Royal Navy had better luck. More than three hundred French ships and eight thousand sailors were seized in English ports or on the high seas.14  This was a serious blow to French maritime strength. Needless to say, the French lost no time proclaiming the English to have been guilty of the blackest treachery.15

On land in North America, now that hostilities had begun in earnest, but still without a declaration of war, the British did not fare so well. Braddock, at the head of 2,200 men, British regulars and colonial troops, got his army over the mountains and within a few miles of Fort Duquesne – by itself no mean feat. In an almost forlorn hope Captain Daniel de Beaujeu led 108 Troupes de la Marine, 146 Canadian militia, and 600 Indians to oppose him. The ensuing clash was a disaster for the British. The Canadian and Indian forces took cover on the forested flank of the enemy, encumbered by siege artillery and a vast wagon train. The measured British volleys had little effect against the concealed foe. The Canadians and Indians advanced close. Noting that the British ranks reloaded to ordered drumbeats, they picked off the officers and drummers.16 Confusion, then panic, spread through the British ranks. The battle became a slaughter. The troops broke and fled. More than two-thirds of the British force were killed or captured, along with the cannon and a vast store of supplies. This, at a cost to the French and their allies of twenty-three killed and twenty wounded.17

In the mortally wounded Braddock’s captured baggage the plans for the attacks on the other fronts were found. Thus, by the time the ill-organized colonial forces had mustered for an attack on Niagara, the French had moved reinforcements to oppose them. The acting commander in chief of the Anglo-Americans William Shirley, governor of Massachusetts, after his 3,400 colonial troops had been reduced to 1,400 by sickness and desertion, abandoned the campaign. On the Lake Champlain front the Anglo-Americans failed to reach the lake, being forestalled by the French, led by the commander of the regular troops Jean-Armand, baron de Dieskau, who had the misfortune to be wounded and captured in the brief and inconclusive engagement that both sides claimed as a victory.

Only on the Acadian frontier did the British enjoy any success. Fort Beausejour, at the foot of the Bay of Fundy, was captured and the threat to the English in Nova Scotia effectively removed. Then followed one of the most controversial acts of the war, the expulsion of the Acadians.18 Not only were the Acadians, both those captured in arms and those who had sworn the oath to His Britannic majesty, expelled in brutal fashion, but the Indians were likewise driven off their land to make way for New England settlers. Many of the Acadians managed to elude the New England troops sent to seize them, and made their way to Quebec. They constituted a warning to the Canadians of what they could expect should they be conquered. Nothing could have been better calculated to make them fight with a ferocity born of despair. The French authorities at Quebec made the most of this.

Although war had not been declared, and would not be until May, 1756, the British assaults on New France permitted Vaudreuil to take the offensive. Indian war parties led by Canadian officers ravaged the frontiers of Virginia and Pennsylvania; but Vaudreuil’s strategy was defensive. His purpose was to use the advanced French bases in the west to hold the Indian nations in the French alliance, thereby offsetting the Anglo-American superiority in numbers. Thus small Canadian and Indian guerrilla detachments could force the British to maintain large defensive forces on their frontier. To take the offensive against these bases the British would require an army, have to build roads through the wilderness to move and supply it, and employ large bodies of men to maintain their supply lines. With their command of the rivers the French could move men and supplies much more easily than could the British. Moreover, the Anglo-American militia usually fled at the mere rumored approach of the enemy.19

On the New York frontier Vaudreuil’s strategy was to block the Lake Champlain invasion route by maintaining a strong garrison at Fort St. Fréderic and by building an advanced fort at the head of the lake, Fort Carillon, later known as Ticonderoga. When the enemy attempted to attack Canada by this route, a relatively small force could delay them at Carillon and hold them at the narrows by Fort St. Fréderic while the Canadians and Indians harassed their supply lines. Carillon would also serve as an advance base to threaten Albany and the American frontier settlements, thereby containing sizable enemy forces. The main dangers to Canada were the threat of invasion from Lake Champlain, from Lake Ontario down the St. Lawrence, and a maritime assault up the river against Quebec. On the Lake Ontario front, the English fort at Oswego was the major threat, and Vaudreuil made plans in 1755 to destroy it. As for an assault on Quebec, the best that could be done there was to harass an invading fleet as it came up river, then rely on the natural defenses of the town to prevent its capture.

If necessary, the extended defense lines could be pulled back to Niagara, Fort Frontenac, and Fort St. Fréderic. The enemy’s communication and supply lines would then be lengthened and more vulnerable to attack by the French irregulars. Thus the British would have to employ vastly superior forces, and their need to build roads through the forest to supply their armies on the periphery of New France, growing ever longer, would limit the number of troops they could bring into action.20 The British could, of course, transport whole armies to America without much danger of attack from the smaller French fleet.21 Moreover, Britain could use ports from Halifax to Charleston; Canada had only one. An English fleet in the St. Lawrence could isolate Canada completely. Without reinforcements and supplies from France, the colony could be starved into surrender. Yet, not until 1760 did the Royal Navy succeed in blocking the St. Lawrence. French supply ships reached Quebec every year until the city fell. Much, however, depended on the food the colony could itself provide, and this became crucial with all the additional mouths to feed, the army, the Acadians, and the allied Indians who had to be fed and provided with military supplies before they would take the field. When the crops failed in 1758 famine threatened, and inadequate food supplies, to some degree, dictated military tactics; yet food was never the major factor that it has sometimes been claimed. The people went hungry at times, but they did not starve. It was not a food shortage that caused the eventual fall of New France.

In 1756 a replacement for Dieskau arrived in the person of Louis-Joseph, marquis de Montcalm-Gozon de Saint-Veran, a battle-tried regimental commander. He had the rank of marechal de camp, equivalent to major-general, and command over the troupes de terre only. He was subordinate to the governor general, Vaudreuil, who had overall command of all the military forces, troupes de terre, Troupes de la Marine, the naval detachments, and the Canadian militia; all told, some 16,000 men. In addition there were the Indian allies. One reason for Vaudreuil’s appointment as governor general was his intimate knowledge of, and ability to control, these proud, independent, and unpredictable warriors. Although he had served in the Troupes de la Marine from childhood and in 1738 had been recommended by Governor General Bauharnais for the post of commander of the companies stationed in Canada, he had served only briefly in one campaign in the west. Most of his experience had been administrative, lately as governor of Louisiana, where he had performed very creditably.22

Unfortunately, Montcalm and Vaudreuil quickly came to detest each other. Both were vain, each very jealous of his authority, each convinced of the other’s incompetence and his own superior judgment. Vaudreuil did, however, know the country and what warfare in it entailed. He could, as much as anyone could, handle the Indians; and he was respected by both the Canadian militia and the Troupes de la Marine. He had contrived the strategy of extended defense lines and wanted to take full advantage of the differing capabilities of his motley forces. Montcalm rejected this strategic concept. He recommended that the French abandon the Ohio Valley and Lake Champlain, then concentrate the forces at the colony’s inner defense line.23 He wished the war to be conducted on European lines, sieges and set battles, in which superior discipline, training, and his leadership would bring victory. The short of warfare that the Canadians excelled at he regarded with contempt, as accomplishing no worthwhile purpose. As for the Indian allies, he had no use for them at all.24 But his greatest weakness was his confirmed defeatism. He quickly convinced himself that the French position was hopeless and devoted much of his time and energy to casting blame on Vaudreuil for the disasters he was sure would ensue. Nor did he make any attempt to hide his opinion of the governor general. He criticized Vaudreuil and all things Canadian before his officers, thereby fanning the latent hostility between the Canadian officers of the Troupes de la Marine and those newly come from France with the troupes de terre who looked down on the colonials. Naturally, the Canadian officers, with their much greater experience in forest warfare and their unblemished record of victory, resented the attitude of Montcalm and his staff. Montcalm’s defeatism, and his attitude toward the Canadians, could not fail to sap the morale of both troops and militia.

Another factor that helped to lower moral, and to some degree to hinder the French war effort – although not to the extent that has been claimed – was the malversations of the intendent Francois Bigot. By a series of clever devices he and his associates mulcted the Crown of millions of livres. Supplies sent to the colony, or produced in the colony, were brought at low prices by Bigot’s agents, then sold at upwards of thirty times as much to the Crown. That Bigot was able to organize this very lucrative looting operation and get away with it for so long was a measure of his cleverness and ability.25 He was an extremely efficient administrator, and although a scoundrel, he did keep the army and the colony supplied. To what degree military operations were hindered by his activities is extremely difficult to discern.

Despite these internal problems the French forces won a succession of victories during the first two years of hostilities. Before Montcalm’s arrival Vaudreuil had made plans to destroy Oswego and remove that threat to French communications with the west. In February, 1756, he sent a war party which, by destroying Fort Bull, cut Oswego’s supply route to Schenectady. Other detachments hovered about Oswego, cutting down the supply columns, keeping it blockaded. In July Montcalm, with many misgivings, took command of a three-thousand-man assault force which captured Oswego after a four-day siege. Thirty Americans were killed, seventeen hundred taken prisoner, and a vast store of boats, cannon, and supplies captured, with only thirty casualties among the French. This was a stunning blow to the Anglo-Americans, opening up the northwest frontier of New York to invasion. The entire western frontier of the English colonies was now ravaged by Canadian and Indian war parties. The early confidence that Canada would quickly be destroyed was replaced by fear that the French would soon invade the English colonies in force. Pleas for aid, recriminations, fears of conquest, were voiced in the middle colonies. Far from winning the war, they were losing it.

The following year Vaudreuil continued this strategy of forcing the Anglo-Americans onto the defensive n the west with his raiding parties, supplied and sent out from Fort Duquesne.26 On the central front Vaudreuil had to expect the British to mass their forces for an assault on Lake Champlain to drive the French back and open the invasion route into Canada. To forfend this he sent Montcalm with 3,600 men and 1,500 Indian allies to destroy the advanced British fort, William Henry, and then press south to threaten Albany. Arriving at the fort on August 3, Montcalm went through all the motions of a siege in the accepted European style and mounted his batteries. On the ninth the garrison commander, Colonel George Monro, asked for terms. He,with his 2,331-man garrison, was granted the honors of war and freedom to withdraw on condition they did not serve in operations against the French for eighteen months. After they had surrendered and were marching off, Montcalm’s Indian allies, enraged at seeing their hated foe walk away unharmed, and inflamed by the liquor with which the Americans had foolishly tried to appease them, fell on the straggling columns. The French then did everything they could to stop the massacre, but twenty-nine were killed, over a hundred taken prisoner.

Regardless of this nasty episode, which afforded the British an opportunity to brand the French as war criminals, Montcalm had dealt the Anglo-Americans a severe blow. Their forward base was destroyed, they were deprived of a large body of troops and large stores of arms and cannon, and some three thousand barrels of pork and other valuable food supplies were added to the French stores. All this at a cost of thirteen killed and forty wounded. The Anglo-American troops defending the northern front were completely demoralized; Montcalm’s were ready for anything. At New York the Provincial Council waited to hear that the French had taken the next strongpoint, Fort Edward, and fully expected Albany to fall. They wrote to Lord Loudoun, the commander in chief, who was at Halifax, “We may fear New York also.”27 Yet although Montcalm knew the dispirited and disorganized state of the enemy, that Fort Edward was only sixteen miles away, that its capture would have created panic in Albany and further reduced the offensive spirit of the Anglo-Americans, he refused to follow up his victory. He claimed the road was bad, his men worn out, and the militia needed back on their farms for the harvest. Since the harvest in Canada did not usually begin until September, even if the militia could not have been kept in the field beyond the first week of that month, it still allowed the French more than a fortnight to take Fort Edward, and that would have been enough time as things stood. Montcalm here betrayed his grave weakness as a commander. He was not aggressive; he could not seize the initiative when the opportunity presented itself. He preferred to react to the enemy’s moves rather than make the enemy react to his.

Vaudreuil, of course, was infuriated by Montcalm’s failure to execute his orders to march on Fort Edward. Their latent animosity now surfaced, and they quarreled openly. Their dispatches to the minister made their attitude all too plain. For his part, Vaudreuil infuriated Montcalm by taking credit for the victories; first at Oswego, then at Fort William Henry, as though he had commanded the troops during the actions, from his desk at Quebec.
Despite the victories, Canada had to have continued support from France to withstand the assaults that had been delayed but were sure to come.28 Vaudreuil sent one of his Canadian officers to Versailles to explain the strategic and tactical situation and outline the additional forces needed to defend New France. He also allowed Montcalm to send two of his officers, Colonel Louis-Antoine de Bougainville and the commissary Dorei, to add their pleas. They were listened to much more attentively than was Vaudreuil’s emissary. The dispute between the governor general and Montcalm was resolved in the latter’s favor.  Montcalm was promoted to lieutenant-general and given overall command of all the military forces in the military matters. In addition, the government ordered that Vaudreuil’s extended lines defensive strategy be abandoned and Montcalm’s instituted. The French forces were to fall back on the settlements in the St. Lawrence Valley as the enemy advanced and strive only to hold them on the doorstep of the colony proper. This meant that the enemy would be allowed to advance almost unopposed through the wilderness and consolidate their supply lines for a massed assault. Everything, therefore, would depend on the ability of the French forces to hold Quebec and defeat much larger enemy armies south and west of Montreal. The French were, in short, to conduct the war in Canada on European lines and strive to hold the rump of New France in the hope that some part of the territory could be retained until hostilities ceased. If France still had a foothold in North America it would be in a much stronger position when the bargaining began at the peace table. Montcalm, through his emissaries, had painted such a bleak picture of the military position that the King’s council apparently decided it would be folly to commit large forces in a forlorn hope. Thus fewer than five hundred replacements for the army in Canada accompanied Bougainville on his return to Quebec, raising the effective strength of the regular troops to less than six thousand.

Ironically, the French government, although its armies in the field had won startling victories, reducing the authorities in some of the English colonies to plead for peace on any terms before further defeats rendered even those terms unobtainable, had adopted the defeatist attitude of Montcalm, whereas the British government, now dominated by Pitt, took determined measures to drive the French, not just out of the territory claimed by Britain, but out of North America. More British regiments were shipped to the colonies until more than 20,000 regulars of an army now totaling 140,000 soldiers and marines were in the theater, and one-quarter of the Royal Navy, in addition to 22,000 colonial troops and militia. The French army, on the other hand, had only twelve of its 395 battalions serving in Canada and Louisbourg plus 2,000 Troupes de la Marine.29 To that degree, fortress Canada was fulfilling its intended role in French imperial strategy; with a handful of troops it was tying down a much larger enemy fore, preventing its being employed in some other theater.
In 1758 Pitt, who dictated military strategy, planned three concerted campaigns against Louisbourg, Quebec, and Fort Duquesne. Louisbourg, without a strong naval detachment, withstood a sixty-day siege by 8,000 troops under Jeffrey Amherst, but under fierce bombardment had finally to capitulate. It had, however, held out long enough to force the abandonment of the intended maritime assault on Quebec for that year. Brigadier James Wolfe acidly commented: “If this force had been properly manag’d, there was an end of the French colony in North America in one Campaign.”30 The fall of Louisbourg, by removing that potential threat to British shipping in the North Atlantic, allowed Pitt to transfer a large naval force to the West Indies. The object there was to capture Martinique to exchange at the peace table for Minorca, taken by the French in June, 1756, and so avoid the necessity to give back Louisbourg. The French defenses of Martinique proving too strong, the assault was transferred to Guadeloupe. Not, however, until May 1, 1759, were that island’s defenders forced to capitulate, but Pitt now had the gage his strategy required. The war had taken a new direction. Previously it had been waged for commercial aims. Now territorial conquest was the chief end.31

On the central Canadian front Major General James Abercromby massed an army of 15,000, 6,000 of them British regulars, to drive down Lake Champlain to the Richelieu and the heart of Canada. He got no farther than Ticonderoga, where Montcalm and 3,500 regulars and militia had hastily entrenched themselves behind a wall of logs and felled trees. Cannon would have blasted this breast-work asunder. Abercromby, however, chose to send his regulars against it in a frontal column attack. They suffered heavy losses, but returned again and again until even these disciplined troops could take no more. The British withdrew to Fort William Henry, their losses nearly 2,000 men. The French had lost only 527 killed and wounded. The demoralized British had suffered another stunning defeat. Their retreat was almost a rout. They abandoned boats, arms, and supplies, as though the devil had been after them. Although a large contingent of Canadians reached Montcalm immediately after his victory, he made no attempt to follow it up by pursuing the beaten foe. Vaudreuil pleaded with him to send raiding parties to harass the enemy and their supply lines, and hammer it home to them that the route to Canada was impregnable. Montcalm, however, appeared satisfied with what he had already accomplished. And certainly, he had put a stop to the drive on the colony for that year. But that was not enough.

In the west the British had better success. In August Lieutenant Colonel Bradstreet with nearly 3,000 men caught the French at Fort Frontenac off guard.32 Although the fort was very poorly sited, its walls no protection against cannon fire, the commandant, Pierre Jacques Payen de Noyan, conducted the defense very ineptly. With his armed sloops he could have intercepted the attackers in their bateaux and shot them out of the water. Instead they were allowed to land and bring up their cannon. Three days later the fort surrendered. After destroying the store of provisions, the small French fleet, and the forest itself, Bradstreet swiftly retired across the lake. It was not the destruction of the fort but the loss of the stores, and the boats to transport them to Niagara and the Ohio, that hurt the French.

Farther west the British slowly mounted a campaign to drive the French out of the Ohio Valley. Montcalm convinced himself that this was merely a feint to draw troops away from Lake Champlain. Unfortunately for the French, they were now deprived on their Indian allies in the Midwest. In October the authorities of Pennsylvania had met with delegates of the war-weary Ohio tribes at Easton and there negotiated a peace, a principal condition of which was a renunciation by Pennsylvania of all claims to lands beyond the crest of the mountains. The Indians guilessly assumed that the Americans would honor the treaty; thus having achieved their main objective, they withdrew from the war. When Brigadier-General John Forbes, whose forces had been badly mauled by small Canadian war parties, learned from a French prisoner that the garrison at Fort Duquesne was far less than the reputed thousand, and with the Indian menace removed, he pressed on against the fort. The commandant, Francois Le Marchand de Ligneris, his supplies almost exhausted, his mean in like condition, stripped the fort of its cannon, blew it up, and retreated to Fort Machault, there to await reinforcements and supplies from Montreal. He fully intended, when they were received, to counterattack and drive the Anglo-Americans back over the mountains.

In Canada, that winter of 1758-1759, food supplies were again short. The mass of the population was reduced to bare subsistence rations. Not so their leaders. Bigot and his entourage wanted for nothing. Gambling for desperately high stakes was the principal amusement. Vaudreuil remained aloof. He knew that Bigot was protected by senior officials in the Ministry of Marine, and this likely explains why he did not use his authority to curb the excesses. Montcalm, in his journal and his correspondence, was bitterly critical, but felt that his presence was required at the constant round of dinners and balls with which the senior officials and his officers beguiled themselves during the long winter nights.

Another scourge, inflation, hit the junior officers hard. They were no longer paid in specie, but in postdated letters of credit to be redeemed three years hence. The merchants in the colony accepted them at a mere quarter of their face value. Lieutenants were paid 1,330 to 1,500 livres a year, and it cost them more than 7,500 to live. Fortunately, the ordinary soldiers who were billeted on the habitants when not on campaign did not suffer. They received their rations and worked for inflated wages, earning up to a pistole a day sawing firewood. Many of them married Canadian girls and were determined to remain in Canada when hostilities ended.

With the regular troops dispersed among the civilian population in this fashion, discipline suffered and training proved impossible. The battalion commanders did not know how many men they had on strength, except at the beginning of the campaigns in the spring and again in the autumn when muster parades were held. The lack of regular training exercises was to prove fatal. The reinforcements sent from France in 1757 had been a particularly poor lot; as causalities thinned the ranks of the regulars, Montcalm pressed Canadian militia into the battalions to maintain them at full strength. For the type of secret battle that he wished to fight, it required eighteen months of training on the drill ground to turn a civilian into a soldier, capable of maneuvering en masse, marching up to the enemy and firing volleys on command, and standing fast in the face of the enemy’s volley or bayonet charge. By 1759, Montcalm’s troops were no longer capable of that style of warfare. Although he and his staff officers in their letters and dispatches expressed nothing but defeatism and the belief that the colony was doomed – indeed, Montcalm eventually proposed retiring to Louisiana with the army should the British break through his lines – yet his second in command, the Chevalier de Lévis, and some at least of the junior officers were more sanguine about the outcome.33

Fortunately for the French, twenty-two supply ships reached Quebec in May, 1759, bringing enough food to keep the army in the field until the harvest. Hard on their heels, however, came the Royal Navy, bringing an army of 8,000 seasoned troops commanded by Major General James Wofle, for an assault on the bastion of New France. On the Lake Champlain front Jeffrey Amherst, the commander in chief of the British forces in America, had massed an army of 6,236 regulars and provincials to dislodge the French from their forts. It took him a month to get his army in motion. The French officers had orders to fight delaying actions only at Carillon and St. Fréderic, then retire on Fort Île aux Noix to make a stand. After Amherst had spent several days preparing trenches and gun emplacements at Carillon the French mined the fort, lighted the fuses, and slipped away. They did the same at Fort St. Fréderic, but Amherst made no move to pursue them. Instead he devoted the remainder of the summer to repairing the fort at Ticonderoga and building a massive new fort near where Fort St. Fréderic had stood. The only purpose these forts could serve was to block an army advancing south from Canada. Were Quebec to be taken there was no danger whatsoever of that. Obviously, Amherst did not expect Quebec to fall. This was a view shared by others in the British forces.

In the west, de Ligneris renewed his raids on the British supply lines to Fort Pitt, constructed near the ruins of Fort Duquesne. He was, however, forced to desist and rush to the aid of the small garrison at Niagara, under siege by an American provincial army 2,500 strong. De Ligneris never got there. His force was ambushed and cut to pieces by the Americans. On July 26 Fort Niagara capitulated. The Americans had finally achieved their original war aims. Their hold on the Ohio Valley and Lake Ontario was now secure. Moreover, the St. Lawrence was, at last, open for a descent on Montreal.

At Quebec, however, things were not going so well for the British. Although Montcalm had proposed siting batteries down-river at three spots which dominated the river channel and could have made the passage very costly for a fleet at the mercy of wind, current, and tide, nothing had been done. Admiral Charles Saunders was able to bring up the army and land it unopposed on Île de’Orléans on June 27. Only when the British fleet was in the river were measures taken to fortify the immediate approaches to Quebec. Entrenchments were dug on the Beauport flats, across the St. Charles River from Quebec. On the insistence of the Chevalier de Lévis they were extended to the Montmorency river, but incredibly, Montcalm made no attempt to fortify the cliffs across the river from Quebec. To oppose the British, Montcalm had a total of nearly 16,000 men, regulars, militia, and Indians at his disposal, double the number that Wolfe commanded.

The French had prepared a  flotilla of fire ships. On the night of June 28 they were sent down on the British fleet. The operation was a fiasco. Set alight too soon, British sailors in longboats were able to tow all seven clear before they reached their objective. The next day, on the insistence of Admiral Saunders, the British occupied Point Lévis and French attempts to drive them out failed miserably. The British were now able to mount heavy mortars to bombard the town across the mile-wide river. They were also able to get their ships upriver above Quebec and to threaten a landing on either side of the town. A landing above Quebec was particularly to be feared since Montcalm had established his main supply depot at Batiscan, some sixty miles upriver. Wofle, however, stuck resolutely to his original plan to break the Beauport liens, but every assault was beaten back.34

Still convinced that if he could only force Montcalm to give battle on open ground he could defeat his foe, Wolfe, in his last letter to his mother, remarked, “The Marquis de Montcalm is at the head of a great number of bad soldiers, and I am at the head of a small number of good ones, that wish for nothing so much as to fight him – but the wary old fellow avoids an action doubtful of the behavior of his army.” There was more than a little truth in his judgment, as events were to prove. Although Wolfe was a poor strategist, he had always been an excellent regimental officer, a great admirer of Prussian military methods.35 The training, discipline, and morale of his troops was now vastly superior to that of Montcalm’s regulars. The Canadians, however, could be counted on to fight with savage desperation to protect their homeland and avoid the fate meted out earlier to the Acadians.

As July became August, Wolfe, frustrated at every turn and suffering from poor health, quarreled with his brigadiers,. They regarded his tactics to date inept and resented his secretive, arrogant manner. Unable to force the enemy to come out of his lines, Wolfe gave orders for the systematic destruction of the colony. The Canadian settlements were to receive the same treatment as had the Scottish Highlands after Culloden, in which Wolfe had played an active part. Upon first landing on the Île d’Orléans he had issued a manifesto ordering the Canadian people not to assist the “enemy,” warning them that if they took up arms in defense of their homeland they would be punished with fire and sword, treated as Indians, who Wolfe had earlier declared merited extermination.37 He took no account of the fact that every Canadian male between fifteen and sixty was a member of the militia, and thus had to obey the orders of his officers and fight the invader. To Wolfe war was the prerogative of regular uniformed troops’ the civilian population had to stand aside and accept the outcome, regardless of its consequences for their lives and the lives of their descendants. At the end of July Wolfe repeated his proclamation, then turned loose the American Rangers, whom he had labeled “the worst soldiers in the universe,” to burn the houses, buildings, and crops in all the parishes up and down the river. When any resistance was met, and prisoners taken, they were shot and scalped. At least fourteen hundred farms were destroyed, most of them fine stone buildings in the earlier-settled and more prosperous part of the colony. Bigot tersely commented: “M. Wolfe est cruel.”
Wolfe claimed that this devastation was intended to force Montcalm to emerge and give battle. In this it failed.  At the same time he increased the number of cannon bombarding Quebec from the Lévis side to forty pieces. Hardly a building in the city was left undamaged; 80 percent of Quebec was destroyed. It was the civilian population, not the army, that suffered. The bombardment served no useful military purpose. This whole policy of calculated destruction of Quebec and of the seigneuries about it made no military sense whatsoever, unless it had been concluded that Quebec could not be taken, and Canada not conquered. In his journal, under date of August 13, Major Patrick Mackellar noted that the bombardment of Quebec had been stepped up, and commented, “This was thought to be done either to favor a storm by water, or to do the town all possible damage if it could not be taken, which was now becoming doubtful, as there was little or no appearance of making good a landing upon that coast, it being so well fortified and defended by such superior numbers.”37 Wolfe himself, in his dispatch of September 2 to Pitt, in which he reviewed the course of the campaign, expressed profound pessimism as to the outcome, declaring: “In this situation, there is such a choice of difficulties, that I own myself at the loss how to determine.” At that late date only a few weeks remained before the fleet would be forced to withdraw, taking the army with it. Of his original troop strength of 8,500 barely half were fit for duty. Casualties had been heavy. The men were now on short rations, reduced to eating horse flesh. More than a thousand men were in sick bay. Dysentery and scurvy were taking a heavy toll. At the end of August, in a letter to Admiral Saunders, Wolfe stated, “Beyond the month of September I conclude our operations cannot go.” He then made the revealing comment that Barré had prepared a list of where the troops would be quartered, “supposing (as I have very little hope of) they do not quarter here.”38 But Wolfe could not give up without making one last attempt to conquer Quebec.

He wanted to launch another attack on the Beauport lines below Quebec, but when he proposed three variants of this plan to his brigadiers they rejected the concept of any attack there. Instead they proposed a landing above Quebec between the city and the supply depot at Batiscan. Such a landing would, they pointed out, cut the road to Montreal. The brigadiers argued that there a landing in strength would force Montcalm to emerge from behind his defense works and give battle in the open. Ever since the fleet had forced a passage above Quebec, British raiding parties had landed above the town periodically. This had forced Montcalm to detach 3,000 of his better troops under Bougainville to march up and down abreast of the British ships to counter the threat.
Wolfe accepted the brigadiers’ suggestion for a landing above Quebec; but whereas they had intended the landing to be made well above the city, he chose the Anse au Foulon, at the foot of the 175-foot cliff, less than two miles from Quebec. The operation required the troops to be transported above the city by the fleet, then, during the night, to embark in the landing craft, drift down with the tide, land, make their way up the steep path to the top of the cliff, overpower the French outpost stationed there, then assemble on the heights before the city walls and wait for the French reaction. It was a most desperate gamble, requiring the complete cooperation of the elements – and also of the French. Rear Admiral Charles Holmes, who was in charge of the operation, afterward described it: “The most hazardous and difficult task I was ever engaged in: For the distance of the landing place; the darkness of the night; and the chance of exactly hitting the very spot intended, without discovery or alarm; made the whole extremely difficult.”39

Everything depended on surprise. Were the French to have had a battalion of troops on the heights above the Anse au Foulon, the landing could never have succeeded. Montcalm was convinced that Wolfe would not lift the siege without one last assault, and reading his adversary’s mind, he anticipated an attack on the right of the Beauport lines.40 The fleet movements above Quebec he regarded as a diversion. He had moved a battalion to the heights near the Anse au Foulon on September 5 but recalled it the following day to the Beauport lines.41 As it was, the small French detachment on top of the cliff was taken completely by surprise, routed by the first British troops to scale the heights. The way was open for the army to follow. When Wolfe himself landed, the situation still looked desperate. His comment reveals that he regarded the enterprise as a forlorn hope: “I don’t think we can by any possible means get up here; but, however, we must use our best endeavour.”42 This they did, and the surprise of the French was complete. By daybreak Wolfe had more than 4,400 men on the Plains of Abraham, a thousand yards from the city walls. But they were in an extremely vulnerable position. Before them was Quebec, poorly fortified, but still protected by a wall that would have to be breached by heavy guns, brought up the cliff, before an assault could be made. In Quebec and the Beauport lines Montcalm had some 6,000 troops, and a few miles above Quebec was Bougainville with 3,000 more. Wolfe’s army was between the two. Moreover, he had to win a complete victory. Few generals have burned their bridges more successfully than did Wolfe. Retreat was virtually impossible. The army would have had to withdraw down the steep cliff path, then wait to be taken off the narrow beach by the ships’ long boats. Such an operation would have invited slaughter. The alternatives for the British would have been: be shot, be drowned, or surrender. It is doubtful that many would have escaped. The army most likely would have been destroyed, and the fleet would have had to sail back to England with the shattered remnants. But none of this happened. Yet the possibility must have been in the minds of the soldiers as they climbed the cliff. It speaks volumes for their morale and discipline.

Upon finding the British army on the heights, Montcalm had several courses of action open to him, and ample time to carry them out. He could have sent word immediately to Bougainville, ten miles away, to bring his forces up to attack the British in the rear while he launched a frontal assault. He could have marched his army around the British and joined up with Bougainville for a consolidated attack. He could have withdrawn his main force into the city and forced Wolfe to launch an assault while Bougainville and the Canadian militia harassed the British rear. Montcalm could afford to wait; Wolfe could not. Bringing up supplies for his army from the fleet would have been difficult, to say the least. A siege was out of the question. The British had only two or three weeks left in which to take Quebec or to be forced to withdraw. In short, Montcalm could have forced Wolfe to fight on his terms. Instead, he chose to throw away all these advantages and fight on the ground and at the time chosen by the British, employing only half his available forces.

By nine o’clock he had some 4,500 men mustered on the plain in front of the walled city, facing the British. The Canadian militia, fighting from cover on the flanks in their traditional manner, had engaged the enemy and were inflicting causalities. Then Montcalm gave the order for a frontal attack. The French regiments, bolstered by untrained Canadian militia, advanced at a run, fired volleys at long range, then dropped to the ground to reload. Their lines quickly became ragged. The disciplined British lines held their fire until the French were close, fired measured volleys, reloaded, advanced out of the gun smoke, then fired again. When the lines were thirty yards apart, volleys all down the British line shattered the reeling French ranks. The French turned and fled toward the city, the British in pursuit. All that saved the remnants of the army was the withering fire of the Canadian militia in the flanks that forced the British to turn and regroup. By noon Wolfe’s men were in command of the field. The actual battle had lasted only fifteen minutes. Half of North America was lost and won in that shot engagement.

When it was over, Vaudreuil, who had never thought Montcalm would attack so precipitately, arrived on the field with reinforcements. Bougainville appeared later still, then quickly retired. The British still held only the Plains of Abraham.43 The French had more than twice as many effectives and held the town. Casualties on both sides had been heavy: 658 for the British,44 almost as many for the French. Among the killed was Wolfe, and among the dying, Montcalm. For the generals on both sides to be killed in a battle was indeed remarkable. True to form, Montcalm’s last action before expiring was to address a letter to Brigadier General George Townshend, who had succeeded Wolfe in command, yielding up Quebec.

Vaudreuil, meanwhile, was struggling to rally the French forces to attack the British the following day, but the colonels of the troupes de terre had no stomach for it. Vaudreuil, therefore, gathered up all the troops and militia, then withdrew around the British to join Bougainville and regroup above the Jacques Cartier River, thirty-two miles from the city. In Quebec he had left the Chevalier de Ramezay with a token force and ill-conceived instructions to hold out as long as possible but not necessarily to wait for a British assault before surrendering. The Chevalier de Lévis, come posthaste from Montréal, now took command of the French army and prepared to counterattack. Before he could do so Ramezay surrendered Quebec and the British marched in. The French then fell back and established their forward outpost at Jacques Cartier, while the main forces retired to Montréal.

In Quebec, when the fleet finally sailed in October, Brigadier James Murray was left in command with the bulk of the army He likely did not receive a letter until the following year written by Thomas Ainslie at Louisbourg and dated October 28: “I now congratulate you on your success at Quebec a thing little expected by any here, and posterity will hardly give credite to it, that such a handful of men should  carry a point against such numbers, and with such advantages, thank God you have escaped, it is a miracle that you have.”45 After the British ships had sailed, the French  got some of their ships past Quebec with dispatches for France pleading f or a strong naval squadron to be sent early to block the St. Lawrence and prevent the British garrison at Quebec from being reinforced. Ten thousand troops, artillery, and supplies were also demanded to repel the British assaults that were sure to come the following year.

Murray’s troops suffered cruelly during that winter in the city they had shattered. Sentries froze to death. Wood-cutting parties were savaged by the Canadians. Scurvy took a heavy tool.46 In April Lévis gathered up his forces, 7,000 men, and marched back to try to retake Quebec. On the twenty-seventh he was at Ste. Foy, five miles from the city. Ironically, Murray committed the same tactical error as Montcalm had done. He marched his troops out, 3,866 strong, to give battle.47 Lévis had 3,800 on the battlefield. Again the armies were evenly matched. But this time the British were routed. Abandoning their guns, they were pursued right to the city gates. Lévis then laid siege to the town while awaiting the relief ships from France. Those ships never came. Versailles had decided that Canada was irretrievably lost. The Duc de Choiseul sagely concluded that the British, by conquering New France, would merely strengthen their American colonies and their latent urge to strike out for independence. There was, therefore, no point in risking France’s remaining naval strength, thousands of troops, and adding to the nation’s hideous load of debt to achieve an end that the loss of Canada would achieve in due course at no cost to France. A token force was sent to Canada – five ships escorted by one frigate, bearing four hundred soldiers and some supplies. They sailed late. When they arrived in the Gulf of St. Lawrence a powerful British fleet was already in the Gulf. After putting up a gallant fight the French ships were sunk in Restigouche Bay.

By mid-May the British ships of the line were at Quebec. Lévis had to raise the siege and retire on Montreal, where he intended to make a last stand – not to save the colony, for that was Clearly impossible, but to save the honor of the French army and his own reputation. Three British armies now moved in to crush what remained of Canada. Murray moved upriver, by-passing the French defense points, and pressed on toward Montreal. To quell the resistance of the Canadians the homes at Sorel along a four-mile stretch were put to the torch. Even though their situation was hopeless, the consequences of further resistance cruel, many of the Canadians kept on fighting. Many, however, gave up.

On the Lake Champlain front the French had to fall back before Brigadier William Haviland’s army, abandoning the chain of forts on the Richelieu after a heavy artillery bombardment. To the west Amherst at long last put in an appearance, moving down the St. Lawrence from Oswego. On September 6 he landed at Lachine. Seventeen thousand British troops now confronted Lévis. His forces had shrunk to two thousand. More than fifteen hundred of his regulars had deserted.48 On the seventh Vaudreuil asked Amherst for terms. With a conspicuous lack of gallantry Amherst refused to grant the honors of war. Lévis protested violently. He demanded that the regulars be allowed to make a final stand rather than accept such shameful conditions. Vaudreuil, fearing savage reprisals on the Canadian people and recognizing the utility of further resistance, ordered that Amherst’s terms be accepted. That night Lévis ordered his regiments to burn their colors to avoid the dishonor and anguish of spirit of handing them over to Amherst. On September 9 the British marched into Montreal. What remained of the French and Canadian regulars stacked their arms on the Champ de Mars. Before the month was out, they and the administrative officials were transported to France.49 According to the terms of the capitulation the troops could not serve again during the continuance of the war.

Canada had finally been conquered. Yet that conquest had, by no means, been inevitable. Had no regular troops been involved on either side it is highly unlikely that the Anglo-Americans could have conquered New France. Fifteen years later, on the eve of the American Revolution, Chief justice Hey at Quebec remarked: “I believe it to be as true as anything can be that has not been reduced to absolute proof that the Colonies without the assistance of England, would have been reduced from North to south by this province in the last war. They thought so themselves…”50 And against Louisiana, where no British troops were engaged, the Indian allies of the French punished the American frontier so severely that no attempts were made to invade that province. Had Montcalm not employed such disastrous tactics at Quebec on September 13, 1759, the fortress city would not have fallen; instead, the British army might well have been destroyed. Then, the wavering, war-weary British government would have been more inclined to seek an end to the war. Ineptitude in the French military command and government at home, and the fortunes of war, gave Britain dominion over the vast French territory. But what might have been was now of no account. All that mattered to the conquered Canadians was to restore their destroyed homes before the onset of winter. Beyond that their main concerns was what their ultimate fate would be. They  were all disarmed and obliged to swear an oath of allegiance to the British monarch. Over them all hung the terrible fear of deportation, not to be dispelled for three generations. Yet the war still raged in Europe. They could still hope that France might win victories elsewhere with which to purchase their liberation. Meanwhile, they had to make the best they could of life under the military rule of their conquerors.

1 See Paul Vaucher, Robert Walpole et la Politique de Fleury (1731 – 1742) (Paris, 1924), pp. 298-302 ; Sir Julian S. Corbett, England in the Seven Years’ War (2 vols., London, 1918), I, 23-29 ; E. E. Rich (ed.), The Cambridge Economic History of Europe (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1967), IV, 536-537).

2 It is not without significance that the furs of the Ohio Valley were considered by the Canadians to be of very little value. See the informed comments by D’Aigremont; Paris, Archives Nationales, Colonies, C11A, vol. 29, p. 61. On Anglo-American aims and activities in the Ohio Valely see John Mitchell, The Contest in America Between Great Britain and France with Its Consequences and Importance (London, 1757), pp. iii-x1ix, 17-38; Alfred P. James, The Ohio Company: Its Inner History (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1959).

3 See W. J. Eccles, The Canadian Frontier, 1534-1760 (New York, 1969), pp. 157-160.

4 Guy Fregault, Le Grand Marquis: Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil et la Louisiane (Montreal, 1952), pp. 163-177.

5 George F. G. Stanley, New France: The Last Phase, 1744-1760 (Toronto, 1968), p. 60.

6 On the events, strategy, and tactics of the war see Stanley, New France: The Last Phase; Eccles, The Canadian Frontier, pp. 157-185; Guy Fregault, Canada: The War of the Conquest (Toronto, 1969); Corbett, England in the Seven Years’ War; Lawrence Henry Gipson, The British Empire Before the American Revolution, Vols. IV-VIII (New York, 1939-54); Gerald S. Graham, Empire of the North Atlantic: The Maritime Struggle for North America (Toronto, 1950).

7 This incident has long been a subject of controversy, American historians seeking to excuse Washington, while French and French-Canadian historians, for the most part, declare his act to have been that of a common assassin. See Stanley, New France: The Last Phase, pp. 54-55.

8 The journal was sent to Governor General Duquesne at Quebec, who predictably commented: “Rien de plus indigne et de plus bas Et meme de plus noir que les sentimens Et la facon de penser de ce Washinton, Il y auroit eu plaisir de luy Lire Sous le nez Son outrageant journal.” He had a translation made, a copy of which is in  the Archives du Seminaire de Quebec. See Fernand Grenier (ed.), Papiers Contrecoeur et autres documents concernant le conflit anglo-francais sur l’Ohio de 1745 a 1756 (Quebec, 1952), pp. 133-181, 251.

9 Walter L. Dorn, Competition for Empire, 1740-1763 (New York, 1963), pp. 287-289.

10 Troupes de terre were the regiments of the regular army, so designated because many of them took their nomenclature from the provinces where they were raised, e.g., Regiment de Languedoc, Regiment de Bearn.

11 See Corbett, England in the Seen Years’ War, I, 45-46: Richard Waddington, Louis XV et le renversement des alliances (Paris, 1896), pp. 96-97.

12 Waddington, Louis XV et le renversement des alliances (Paris, 1896), pp. 104-110.

13 The strength of the four battalions sent to Quebec, on arrival, was 108 officers, 1,693 other ranks. See Paris, Archives Nationales, Colonies, D2C, XLVI, 254.

14 See A.T. Mahan, The Influence of Seapower upon History (New York, 1890; paperback ed., New York, 1957). 1957, ed., p. 251. The strength of the French navy was depleted further by an epidemic of typhus that swept through the fleet and naval ports in 1757. It was this, rather than the greater strength or efficiency of the Royal Navy, that allowed the latter eventually to blockade the French ports and dominate the Atlantic. Seamen and dockyard workers fled the ports; ships could not be manned for lack of crews and sometimes had to go into action with a handful of seamen amid impressed landsmen. See Ruddock F. Mackay, Admiral Hawke (Oxford 1965), pp. 204, 213, 227, 234, 249.

15 For an example of the use made of these incidents by French diplomats abroad on instructions of the foreign minister see Rapport de l’Archiviste de la Province de Quebec, 1949-1951, p. 5, M. Durand d’Aubigny au Ministre, a Liege le 11 oct. 1755.

16 See Rapport de l’Archiviste de la Province de Quebec, 1931-1932, p. 19, Memoire du Chevalier de la Pause.

17 The most detailed and frequently cited study of this action is Stanley M. Pargellis, “Braddock’s Defeat,” American Historical Review, XLI (1936), 253-269. It is, however, dated; the limitations of the musket were not taken sufficiently into account, and the effectiveness of guerrilla tactics against regular troops untrained for such warfare had not been as clearly demonstrated in 1936 as it was to be in subsequent years.

18 On this issue many historians have allowed national sentiment to weight their judgment. This is particularly true of Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe (London, 1964 ed.), pp. 175-208, and Gipson, The British Empire Before the American Revolution, VI, 212-344. Waddington, Louis XV et le renversement des alliances, pp. 372-417, gives a detailed account of events and roundly condemns the British. For a judicious view see Guy Fregault, Canada: The War of the Conquest, pp. 164-200; “La deportation des Acadiens,” Revue d’Histoire de l’Amerique Francaise, VIII, 3 (1954-55), 309-358.

19 A contemporary American observer put the situation very succinctly: “Our colonies are all open and exposed, without any manner of security or defense. Theirs are protected and secured by numbers of forts and fortresses. Our men in America are scattered up and down the woods, upon their plantations, in remote and distant provinces. Theirs are collected together in forts and garrisons. Our people are nothing but a set of farmers and planters, used only to the axe or hoe. Theirs are not only well trained and disciplined but they are used to arms from their infancy among the Indians; and are reckoned equal, if not superior in that part of the world to veteran troops. Our people are not to be drawn together from so many different governments, views, and interests; are unable, unwilling, or remiss to march against an enemy, or dare not stir, for fear of being attacked at home. They are all under one government, subject to  command like a military people. While we mind nothing but trade and planting. With these the French maintain numbers of Indians—We have none,–These are troops that fight without pay—maintain themselves in the woods without charges—march without baggage—and support themselves without stores and magazines—we are at immense charges for those purposes. By these means a few Indians do more execution, as we see, than four or five times their number of our men, and they have almost all the Indians of that continent to join them.” Mitchell, The Contests in America Between Great Britain and France, pp.. 137-138. See also ibid., pp. 118-119, 125-126, and Charles Henry Lincoln (ed.), The Correspondence of William Shirley (2 vols., New York, 1912), II, 133-134, Shirley to James Delancey, Boston, Feb. 24, 1755.

20 See Henri-Raymond Casgrain (ed.), Collection des manuscripts du marechal de Lévis (12 Vols., Montreal and Quebec, 1889-95), Vol. IV, Lettres et pieces militaires, instructions, ordres, memoires, plans de campagne et de defense, 1756-1760 (Quebec, 1891),  p. 153.

21 In 1756 France had 45 ships of the line ready for sea, 15 in dock being readied, several under construction (Waddington, Louis XV et le renversement des alliances, p.246). England had 130 ships of the line, but they were inferior to the French; the reverse was true of the officers of the two navies. (Dorn, Competition for Empire, pp. 105-121). In 1756, with war declared, the French government decided on an invasion of England. The American theater tied down a sizable part of the Royal Navy; a diversionary assault on Minorca would die down more. Diversionary assaults were to be made on Scotland and Ireland, then the main invasion launched against England. It was anticipated that all the ships and troops in the latter assault would be lost, but not before they had caused worse panic than the Jacobite march on London in 1745, the  collapse of the country’s financial structure, and a consequent willingness of the ruling class to accept reasonable peace terms to avert worse losses. See Corbett, England in the Seven Years’ War, I, 83-95; Dorn, Competition for Empire, p. 355.

22 See Fregault, Le grand marquis.

23 See Fregault, Canada: The War of the Conquest, pp. 241-243.

24 His attitude is revealed by a comment in his journal: “A quoi donc sont bons les sauvages? A ne pas les avoir contre soi.” Casgrain, Collection des manuscrits, VII, 591.

25 Bigot’s activities were regarded as criminal, and he later paid for them; but to a degree, he appears to have been used as a scapegoat. It is interesting to note the difference in attitude toward his malversations and the bland acceptance in England of Henry  Fox’s amassing of a fortune, perhaps as large as that acquired by Bigot, while serving as paymaster-general. See Lucy S. Sutherland and J. Binney, “Henry Fox as Paymaster-General of the Forces,” English Historical Review, LXX (Apr., 1955). For Bigot’s checkered career see Guy Fregault, Francois Bigot: Administrateur francais (2 vols., Montreal, 1948).

26 For a brief contemporary description of the nature of this guerrilla warfare see Rapport de l’Archiviste de la Province de Québec, 1931-1932, Memoire et observations sur mon voyage en Canada, Chevalier de la Pause, p. 43.

27 New York State Archives, Albany, Colonial Documents, LXXXIV, 149.

28 Historians who accept – usually as an unstated, and likely unconscious, premise—that what happened had to happen, and therefore regard the conquest of New France as inevitable, always advance as a main argument the dependence of Canada on France for support. They thereby ignore that the English colonies were more dependent on England for military aid than Canada was on France.

29 In 1758 the British army and marines numbered 140,000. Rex Whitworth, Field Marshall Lord Ligonier: A Study of the British Army, 1702-1770 (Oxford, 1958), pp. 208, 246. The French army at maximum strength, 1757-1762, was slightly under 330,000 men in line units. Lee Kennet, The French Armies in the Seven Years’ War (Duke Univ. Press, 1967), pp. 75-78.

30 McCord Museum, McGill University, Wolfe Papers, No. 1288.

31 On the West Indies campaign and Pitt’s strategy see Corbett, England in the Seven Years’ War, I, 371-395; Gipson, The British Empire before the American Revolution, Vols. V and VIII.

32 Mr. James Turnbull, presently preparing a Ph.D. thesis on the role of Governor General Vaudreuil during the war, had advanced the proposition, on good evidence, that the French suffered a breakdown in the intelligence service provided them by the Five Nations. Previously the Iroquois had kept Vaudreuil well informed of English plans and preparations. On this occasion they conspicuously did not. It may be that they regarded it as in their interests to have the British destroy Fort Frontenac, located as it was on lands they claimed as theirs. When the French destroyed Oswego in 1756 the Iroquois pointedly thanked Vaudreuil for having thus “reestablished the Five Nations in possession of lands that belonged to them.” See Rapport de l’Archiviste de la Province de Quebec, 1932-1933, p. 327.

33 See Archives de la Guerre, Series Al, Vol. 3540, pt. 1, pp. 115, 138-139.

34 On August 11 he wryly remarked: “We had a lively skirmish this morning—we are as usual victorious and yet I am afraid we lost more than the enemy owing to our original disposition and partly to the irregularity and folly of our men…” Public Archives of Canada, James Murray Papers, Wolfe to Brig.-Gen. Murray, Aboard Sterling Castle, 11 Aug. 1759.

35 See Wolfe to Captain Maitland, August 5, 1757: “I have ever entertained a profound admiration for the King of Prussia as the first soldier of this Age and our Master in the Art of War….Some of H.M.’s manouvres are curious and the Deployments display uncommon ingenuity. They doubtless will be adopted by us if Occasion arises.” McCord Museum, McGill University, Wolfe Papers, M1385. On Wolfe’s generalship see E.R. Adair, “The Military Reputation of Major-General James Wolfe,” Canadian Historical Association Report, 1936; C. P. Stacey, Quebec, 1759 (Toronto, 1959), pp. 170-178.

36 For Wolfe’s views on the Indians, see McCord Museum, McGill University, Wolfe Papers, No. 1288. his manifesto is printed in Casgrain, Collection des manuscrits, IV, 273-276.

37 Public Archives of Canada, MG23, GII-I, Series 2-7, P. Mackellar’s short account of the expedition against Quebec, p. 20.

38 Christopher Hibbert, Wolfe at Quebec (London, 1959), p. 165; Stacey, Quebec, 1759, p. 102.

39 Stacey, Quebec, 1759, pp. 132-133.

40 C.P. Stacey, Quebec, 1759, pp. 11-112, 168, opines that Montcalm lacked one essential quality of a good general, the ability to divine his antagonist’s intentions, citing his failure to anticipate the landing above Quebec as an example. Montcalm gave abundant evidence of poor generalship, but in this particular case he cannot be faulted, for he had read Wolfe’s mind very accurately. What he failed to divine was that Wolfe would defer to the tactics proposed by his brigadiers. He could not have been expected to know that this had transpired.

41 For the confusion that this incident occasioned in the minds of Canadian historians see the intriguing critique by C.P. Stacey, “The Anse au Foulon, 1759: Montcalm and Vaudreuil,” Canadian Historical Review, XL, 4 (Mar.,1959), 27-37.

42 See C.P. Stacey, “Quebec, 1759: Some New Documents,” Canadian Historical Review, XLII, 4 (Dec., 1966), 344-355; Fregault, Canada: The War of the Conquest, p. 253.

43 In 1711 Governor General Philippe Rigaud de Vaudreuil, father of the governor general of 1759, had prepared to repel an English seaborn assault on Quebec. He had entrenchments made and cut all the roads everywhere the enemy could effect a landing on both sides of the city, from Beauport to Cape Rouge. He stated that even should the enemy break through these defenses, which they could not do without suffering heavy losses, “they would still hold nothing.” Rapport de l’Archiviste de la Province de Quebec, 1946-1947, pp. 433-434.

44 The total British casualties in the Quebec campaign were 21 officers killed, 93 wounded, 1,384 other ranks killed, wounded, and missing. McCord Museum, McGill University, No. 824, A Return of the kill’d & Wounded etc. of  H.M. Forces up the river St. Lawrence from the 27th June to the Reduction of Quebec 10 [sic] Sept. 1759.

45 Public Archives of Canada, James Murray Papers, Vol (1), 3, pp. 8-9.

46 Vaudreuil proposed to detach 1,500 to 1,800 men to harass the British garrison continually and by preventing their obtaining firewood force Murray to surrender. The proposal was rejected owing to the shortage of food supplies for such a detachment and also because the French were sure that Murray would retaliate by burning the homes of all the Canadians within his reach. This might indicate that the British policy of schrechlichkeit had served a purpose. See Rapport de l’Archiviste de la Province de Quebec, 1938-1939, p. 2

47 The best brief account of this battle to date is G.F.G Stanley, New France: The Last Phase, pp. 242-250.

48 Their officers reported that the majority of the regulars were resolved not to return ot France. Many of them had married Canadian girls, with the consent of Montcalm, who had promised them that they could take their discharge and remain in the colony at the war’s end. See Eccles, The Canadian Frontier, pp. 176, 184. For a graphic contemporary account of the collapse of French resistance see Rapport de l’Archiviste de la Province de Quebec, 1931-1932, p. 120, Relation de M. Poularies.

49 A handful of officers in the Troupes de la Marine, six captains, three lieutenants, four enseignes, were granted permission in 1760 to remain in the colony either to recuperate from serious wounds or to attend to urgent family affairs. Only three Canadian merchants returned to France at the capitulation, Guillaume-Michel Perrault, d’Etienne Charest, Louis Charly de Saint Ange. See Claude Bonnault de Mery, “Les Canadiens en France et aux colonies après la cession (1760-1815,” Revue de l’Histoire des Colonies Francaises, XVII (1924), 495-550.

50 Shortt and Doughty, Documents Relating to the Constitutional History of Canada, 1759-1791 II, 669.