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The Battle of the Plaines d’Abraham

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In June of 1759 a large British force led by General Wolfe sailed up the St Lawrence to besiege General Montcalm in Québec City. From the end of July until early September the British forces shuttled up and down the south side of the river, raking the city with cannon fire. Montcalm and the governor, Vaudreuil, became convinced Wolfe was planning a direct assault on the citadel from Anse de Foulon (Wolf’s Cove), the only handy break in the cliff face; this was confirmed when lookouts observed a British detachment surveying Cap Diamant from across the river in Lévis. Montcalm thus strengthened the defences above Anse de Foulon, but made the mistake of withdrawing the regiment stationed on the Plains themselves. The following night the British performed the extraordinary feat, which even Wolfe had considered “a desperate plan”, of scaling the cliff below the Plains via Anse de Foulon, and on the morning of September 16 Montcalm awoke to find the British drawn up a couple of kilometres from the city’s gate. The hastily assembled French battalions, flanked by aboriginal warriors, were badly organized and rushed headlong at the British, whose volleys of gunfire mortally wounded Montcalm. On his deathbed Montcalm wrote a chivalrous note of congratulations to Wolfe, not knowing he was dead. Québec City surrendered four days later.

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