Horace Walpole calls the year 1759 the ' great year the ' wonderful year because of the victories which it brought to his country. France and Britain were in the midst of the terrible Seven Years' War, which involved the loss of nearly a million lives. The outcome of the war was still uncertain. During the summer the English people had been uneasy. France was known to be making great preparations to invade Britain, and many a good citizen went to bed each night in dread lest the roar of the cannon of the invader might be in his ears before morning. Wolfe had just led a great expedition to Quebec, but already there were gloomy forebodings that his attempt would fail. News travelled slowly in those days, and it was not until the early autumn that good tidings arrived. Word then came that at the end of July General Amherst had captured Ticonderoga, the fort which commanded the entrance to Canada by way of Lake Champlain, and that at the very same time Sir William Johnson had captured Fort Niagara, the key to the whole commerce of the region beyond Lake Ontario. England was exultant. Horace Walpole wrote on September 13, 1759, the date, though he did not yet know it, of another and greater victory in Canada : ' We have taken more places and ships in a week than would have set up such pedant nations as Greece and Rome to all futurity. If we did but call Sir William Johnson "Gulielmus Johnsonus Niagaricus" and Amherst "Galfridus Amhersta Ticonderogicus" we should be quoted a thousand years hence as the patterns of valour, virtue, and disinterest^ ness ; for posterity always ascribes all manner of modesty and self-denial to those that take the most pains to perpetuate their own glory.'
The exultation caused by the fall of Ticonderoga and Niagara soon gave way to new fears. Word came from Wolfe that Amherst had failed to join him before Quebec and that he had little hope of capturing the fortress. This news was made public, and, of course, caused gloom and depression. Almost immediately after this came, however, the tidings that Wolfe had won a great victory and that Quebec had fallen. Walpole expresses the pride and joy of the time. He now jested at the fears of invasion and at the weakness of the French navy: 'Can the lords of America' he asked, 'be afraid of half a dozen canoes?' The bells, he said, were being worn thin with ringing for victories, and one was forced to ask every morning what success there was for fear of missing one. ' I don't know a word of news less than the Conquest of America,' he writes to his friend Montague, on October 21: 'you shall hear from me again if we take Mexico or China before Christmas.' The English, he added, were like Alexander: they had no more worlds left to conquer. He affected to be bored by meeting so many people who had won military honours; it is 'very fatiguing: all the world is made knights or generals '. There was nothing in all history, he thought, to equal the victories of this year.
The simple-minded public, which received this joyful news, now assured itself that the struggle was over and that Canada had fallen. It dismissed America from its thoughts. The newspapers of the time make hardly any reference to the later campaign in that part of the world. Only when, seven months after the September day of Wolfe's victory, the British met with bloody defeat on the very ground where he had triumphed, did the nation realize that France still fought for the mastery of Canada. the deuce was thinking of Quebec?' wrote Walpole in June 1760; 'America was like a book one has read and done with . . . but here we are on a sudden reading our book backwards.' He mourns over the 'rueful slaughter' of brave men and concludes sadly that 'the year 1760 is not the year 1759'. During the year 1760, however, British arms were to achieve the final conquests in both India and Canada which the victories of 1759 had left still uncertain. In Canada, with which alone we are here concerned, the struggle carried on between September 1759 and September 1760 lays bare the condition to which France's great colony had been brought. We find in a survey of those last days of New France much that helps to explain the later history of the French race in Canada. We therefore take up the story from the moment on September 13, 1759, when Wolfe's musketry had shattered the French lines on the Plains of Abraham and when the fate of Quebec was still doubtful.
The game of war has never been played in surroundings more striking than those at Quebec. The mighty current of the St. Lawrence, contracted here to a breadth of about a thousand yards, washes the base of the high cliffs on which the stronghold stands and then broadens into a great basin four or five miles wide. On the east side of the basin the beautiful island of Orleans divides the river into two channels, a narrow and intricate one at the north, a broad one at the south. The deep blue of the silent, forest-clad mountains, the clear air, the rushing tide of the spacious river, are all elements in a scene of entrancing beauty. Quebec stands at the east end of a plateau seven or eight miles long and in places two or three miles wide. Though the fortifications were insignificant, Nature had made the place almost impregnable. At the north the River St. Charles flows into the St. Lawrence near the base of the high ground and constitutes a natural and difficult ditch for the assailant to cross. On the east and the south side the plateau falls in steep cliffs to the strand of the St. Lawrence. On the west side the drop to the valley of the Cap Rouge River is not less sheer.
Wolfe's problem had been to reach Quebec on this plateau, and he had been almost baffled. Soon after his arrival he had taken possession of the Levis shore and, across the mile of river, had battered many houses in Quebec to fragments with his cannon. Still the cliffs remained impregnable. To attack Quebec from the front promised destruction. On the French left flank, along the seven miles of the Beauport shore, lay entrenched the army of Montcalm, and here successful attack was impossible, as one attempt, repulsed with heavy loss, had made clear. At the other side of Quebec attack seemed equally hopeless. The high cliffs at Cap Rouge could be easily defended, and Colonel de Bougainville, one of the best officers in the French army, had been sent there with some two thousand men to watch every movement of the British and to concentrate his force rapidly at any threatened point. In the end Wolfe had achieved what seemed impossible. By a secret movement at night he had landed an army at the base of the cliffs, had climbed the steep path at the Anse au Foulon, had overpowered the guard which had been left criminally weak, and at eight o'clock on September 13 had drawn up his thin red line on the Plains of Abraham a mile from the walls of Quebec. Here Montcalm had attacked him promptly on the same morning and the battle had been fought which meant, in the long run, the ruin of French power in America.
This momentous battle of September 13 was especially fatal to the leaders on both sides. Not only was Wolfe killed ; Monckton, his next in command, was shot through the body and disabled. On the French side, to the loss of the Commander-in-Chief, Montcalm, was added that of the
officer next in rank, the Brigadier Senezergues. .Montcalm realized on his death-bed that in his defeat was involved the loss of Quebec. One of the last acts of the dying leader was to write to Brigadier Townshend, for the time the British commander, to acknowledge that the surrender of the fortress must follow. 'Obliged to cede Quebec to your arms,' Montcalm wrote, 'I have the honour to entreat your Excellency's kind offices for our sick and wounded.' Before the next day broke he was dead.
The Governor of Canada, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, in whom resided final military and civil authority, was with Montcalm before Quebec. Though vain and boastful, he was yet well-meaning and devoted to the interests of Canada, his native country. To be a Canadian was in his view to be a member of a superior race ; a single Canadian, he once wrote to the Home Government, was a match for from three to ten Englishmen. Vaudreuil did not lack a certain bombastic courage, but he inspired no confidence and was not the man to lead in a crisis. Montcalm's impulsive, but probably necessary, march to meet Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham had come so early on September 13 that the brief battle, little more than a skirmish, but big with great issues, had been lost and won before eleven o'clock in the morning. Vaudreuil had followed the rapid march of Montcalm from the camp at Beauport. Before he could reach the field, so fatal to France, crowds of fugitives from the broken army revealed the ill fortune of the day. At first Vaudreuil would not believe that all was lost, and he talked wildly of rallying his Canadians and of marching up the steep Cote Ste Genevieve to dispute with the victors their possession of the Plains of Abraham. Some of the Canadians whom he sent forward apparently did useful work in checking the British pursuit of the beaten army. But, for the time, nothing more could be done. Cadet, one of the corrupt ring who were making vast fortunes by robbing New France, besought the Governor not to risk a second battle. Convinced at length of the folly of this plan, Vaudreuil took up his position in an extensive redoubt on the left bank of the St. Charles River. It was reached from the Quebec side by a bridge of boats which could be easily destroyed should the British advance so far. The route from Quebec was protected in some degree by the cannon of the town. A boom of logs had been stretched across the mouth of the St. Charles and the hulks of two dismantled French frigates lay there in shallow water. They were armed with cannon which swept the approaches by water to the bridge.
To this bridge now came crowding the disorganized French soldiers, unable to take refuge in Quebec, because the gates were closed, and anxious to have the St. Charles River between them and the victorious foe. The fragments as they arrived Vaudreuil sent to their old positions at Beauport. The Chevalier Johnstone, a Scots Jacobite serving with the French and a close friend of Montcalm, tells us how he made his way at this time to the redoubt. He found there at two o'clock in the afternoon, four hours after the defeat of Montcalm, 'an incredible confusion and disorder; a general panic and consternation; M. de Vaudreuil listening to every one, and always to the advice of him who spoke to him last; not an order given with reflection or coolness.' Two captains of the regiment of Beam were shouting out that the redoubt would be carried in an instant, that they should all be put to the sword, and that the only thing to do was to surrender the whole colony at once. Others were protesting against this course. An alarm was raised that the ships of the British fleet were edging in towards the shore. During the panic some one gave instructions to cut away the bridge of boats. At the time a considerable part of the French army was still crowding the road leading from Quebec and the Royal Roussillon regiment was already on that side of the bridge waiting to cross. Johnstone says that he and a colonial officer stopped the fatuous work of destroying the bridge and drove away the soldiers who had their axes raised to hew through the beams. When a council of war met in a house near the redoubt, Johnstone ventured to enter the room where seven officers sat with Vaudreuil, the Governor, and Bigot, the Intendant. The Intendant was at the table, pen in hand. Johnstone heard nothing, for Vaudreuil promptly ordered him to be gone as he had no business there. He went off, he says, in deep dejection at the loss of Montcalm, and very tired, but not too tired to stir up some officers whom he met to protest against surrender.
Various courses were open to the French. They might stay where they were, rally their strength, and attack the foe before he could entrench himself or force Quebec to surrender. A second possibility was to retire beyond the Jacques Cartier River, thirty miles above Quebec, where the army would be in touch with the French ships which had ascended the St. Lawrence to escape from the British fleet. Here they might await the arrival of Montcalm's successor, the Chevalier de Levis, absent at Montreal. Last of all, the French might accept counsels of despair and end the struggle by surrendering the colony. Before the Council met, Vaudreuil had sent a hurried request to Montcalm for advice and had received a message naming these three alternatives. Undoubtedly some of the French officers of the regular army favoured the surrender of the entire colony and talked openly before their men in this sense. Vaudreuil declares that the Chevalier de Montreuil, who had had a long experience in Canada and was the senior officer present, insisted upon retreat to Jacques Cartier. This may well be : Montreuil was an officer who lacked insight and capacity. It seems that only the civilians present were for immediate fighting. The Intendant Bigot warned the officers that, with winter coming on, it was folly to think of a retreat that involved the abandonment of the tents and other needed supplies at Beauport, things which could not be replaced. He declares that he and Vaudreuil stood out for attacking the British forthwith, but that the officers were unanimous against this course.
In truth the soldiers had no confidence in Vaudreuil as a leader. During the absence of Levis the young Colonel de Bougainville ranked next to Vaudreuil, but he was posted at Cap Rouge and no commander was present who could speak with authority. It is true that Bougainville was only a few miles away and that his opinion might have been secured without much delay. Some of the officers present were, however, jealous of this brilliant young friend of Montcalm. Most of them, while unwilling to fight, were also unwilling to surrender. Their great fear was lest the British should cut off the possibility of retreat up the river towards Montreal. To prevent this it was quickly decided that immediately after nightfall the French army should withdraw to Jacques Cartier. After the council Vaudreuil was full of bustling activity. He must have kept his secretaries busy. At half-past four in the afternoon he sent a dispatch to Levis at Montreal urging him to join the defeated army at once. To M. de Ramezay, in command at Quebec, he sent elaborate instructions to surrender the town rather than to await its capture by assault, and enclosed a draft of the terms to ask. At six o'clock, with, as he said, grief in his heart at the decision to retreat, he sent to the stricken Montcalm in Quebec a report of what he had done, courteous regrets at Montcalm's misfortune, and hopes for his recovery. Thus, even in a moment of supreme excitement, Vaudreuil forgot none of the proprieties. But he hated Montcalm; he was glad now to be rid of him; and soon, to draw blame away from himself, he wrote a letter to the French Minister of War full of charges blackening the memory of the dead leader: ' If I had been sole master, Quebec would still have been in the King's hands.' About ten o'clock on the night of the battle, when Vaudreuil had already fled, Montcalm sent a message approving of what he had done and of the terms proposed for the surrender of Quebec. Both leaders thus agreed that the fortress must yield.
Vaudreuil and his officers now lost their heads in their deadly fear lest the British should occupy the lines of retreat towards Montreal and divide the French forces in Canada into two parts. The situation of the French was by no means hopeless. Between the Beauport camp and the victorious British lay a considerable river, fordable only at one place and at low tide ; a little west of the Plains of Abraham, at Cap Rouge, was Bougainville with between two and three thousand men in an excellent position to attack the enemy in the rear; in Quebec itself were as many more men capable of bearing arms and of aiding the troops from Beauport to attack the British front. The French could, indeed, rally something like 10,000 men. But confidence in Vaudreuil as a soldier was impossible; no commanding personality was there to weld together the scattered fragments of this discouraged host; and, lacking direction, it fled.
Soon after nightfall the retreat from Beauport began. Orders were given that the army should break into three divisions and that each division should retire as silently as possible so that the British might not become aware of the retreat. There was grave mismanagement somewhere. Poulariez, the officer commanding the eastern wing of the army at Montmorency, was left without instructions. After long waiting, he sent to Vaudreuil's head-quarters, only to find that the Governor had run away and that he himself was left to follow as best he could. The French marched by way of Charlesbourg and Old Lorette. It unfortunately happened that brandy was served out to the soldiers, and this heped to ^pmoy any semblance of order in the retreat. 'This was not', says the Chevalier Johnstone, 'a retreat, but a flight the most abominable; a rout even a thousand times worse than that of the morning on the Heights of Abraham, and with so much confusion and disorder that, if the English had known it, it would not have required more than three hundred men to cut in pieces our whole army. Except the Royal Regiment of Roussillon, which M. Poulariez kept ... in order, I did not see thirty men of any one regiment together; all the troops mixed and interspersed and every one running as fast as his legs could carry him as if the enemy were pursuing them close at their heels.' Daine, another French observer, says: 'No rout was ever more complete than that of our army. Posterity will hardly believe it.' Not only the Canadian militia but even some of the regulars were so panic-stricken that, after calling for refreshments at the houses of the farmers, they rushed off, too fearful of pursuit to partake of what was brought. French Canadian peasants told the British at a later time that in the retreat Vaudreuil and the officers took no thought for their men, but went off in such haste that they ' flew through the air like a cannon ball'. Though a great part of the army was without food, Vaudreuil took good care that needed supplies and excellent cooks should accompany him on the retreat. Apart from a little ammunition and some tents and camp kettles, the French abandoned their cannon, munitions of war, provisions, and baggage. Since there were few, if any, wagons, not even a barrel of powder could be taken. Officers and men alike lost their personal effects.
At daybreak on the morning of the 14th, Bougainville, now at Lorette, was first made aware of the retreat of the French. By that time the whole host had swept past, panic-stricken and convinced that it would be safe only beyond the river at Jacques Cartier. That evening, after a long and weary march, the fugitives reached Pointe aux Trembles and there rested. By daybreak of the 15th they were again in motion. When they reached the Jacques Cartier River they found the bridge broken down. The army was intent on putting the river between itself and pursuit. It managed somehow to cross and that night the weary men were lodged in the barns on the right bank. They were now thirty miles from Quebec and, for the time at least, safe.
Meanwhile, neither in Quebec nor in the British army had the retreat become known. Before leaving, the French had broken down the bridge across the St. Charles so that the British might not cross easily to the Beauport side. The tents at Beauport remained standing and the British thought that they were still occupied. The British were themselves busy in making sure of their own defences before Quebec. Two days after the battle a French officer visited the abandoned camp, found it undisturbed, and, to the alarm of the British, fired off some cannon that stood ready charged. Ramezay, shut up in Quebec, sadly needed the provisions left at Beauport and could easily have secured them; but he was not notified of the French retreat, and in the end the provisions were carried off by the starving habitants and by the Indians.
The French hopes now rested in the successor of Montcalm, the Chevalier de Levis. This leader of a lost cause was a member of a French family so ancient that it claimed descent from the tribe of Levi and cousinship with the Virgin Mary. There was a picture in the Chateau of Levis in which a member of the family was represented as addressing the Virgin as his cousin. The Chevalier was himself destined to win new lustre for the family by the high position to which in later years he attained as Duke and Marshall of Franco. Montcalm had said of him that, while a man of routine and not very able, he was practical, sensible, and alert, with an admirable capacity to think for himself when thrown on his own resources. During many days while the French had steadily baffled Wolfe's plans, Montcalm and Levis had been constantly together, except when the tireless energy of Levis had worn out Montcalm. Later, with great regret, Montcalm had been obliged to part with Levis and to send him to secure the approaches to Montreal from the south and the west. Thus Levis had not fought in the memorable battle of September 13. But the evil tidings reached him quickly. At six o'clock on the morning of the 15th a courier arrived at Montreal with the news of the defeat. At nine o'clock Levis was on his way to Quebec. He received on the road a letter from the Chevalier de Montreuil, an old companion in arms, begging him to use all diligence and saying that he alone could save the situation. In spite of a storm and of bad roads he made rapid progress. When he arrived at Jacques Cartier on September 17 there was joy in the French camp. It was, however, with bitter rage that Levis saw on all sides the evidence of incompetence. Panic had spread everywhere. Officers and men were alike disorganized. 'I never saw anything like it,' Levis wrote, ' absolutely everything— tents, kettles, and all their equipment, they had left behind at Beauport.' Many Canadians had deserted and, in disgust, the Indian allies of the French had already set out on the return journey to their villages.
The task of Levis was assuredly a grave one. He strongly condemned the retreat to Jacques Cartier. But Quebec still held out, and, at all hazards, he said, its loss must be prevented ; rather than surrender the fortress to the English, the defenders should destroy it and thus leave the enemy no stronghold in which to pass the winter. The first task of the defeated army was thus to rescue Quebec, and Levis gave orders at once that the march back should begin. Vaudreuil had always been on friendly terms with Levis and now he was all acquiescence. 'As soon as the Chevalier de Levis arrived,' he wrote on October 5 to the French Minister of War, 'I conferred with him and was charmed to see him disposed to lead the army back towards Quebec.' Bougainville still kept a guard at Cap Rouge and Old Lorette; he had not joined the flight of Vaudreuil and now stood between him and pursuit. Levis and Vaudreuil quickly sent messages to Quebec cancelling the instructions to surrender. Bigot, all energy in carrying out a plan of which he thoroughly approved, undertook to get supplies of food into Quebec. One plan was to send them down by way of the river. He had done this often before, in spite of the presence of the British fleet, and he could do it again. Moreover a route by land was still open. The French had a depot of provisions at Charlesbourg, and, since the British had not yet occupied the camp at Beauport, the path to Quebec was clear. As a matter of fact, provisions reached Quebec on the evening of the 17th by both these routes.
All this time, however, the British were showing great vigour. Townshend, now in command, had made it his first duty to strengthen his own camp, and by five o'clock on the day of the battle he had entrenchments five feet high on the Plains of Abraham. Late that night he occupied the General Hospital on the banks of the St. Charles River, crowded now with from twelve hundred to fifteen hundred of the wounded of both sides. On the 14th both sides agreed to a short truce for the burial of the dead. The season was late; the fleet must soon depart or be caught in the ice; and the British well understood that not a moment was to be lost in taking Quebec. 'The utmost diligence', says Admiral Holmes, 'was used and the greatest fatigue undergone, with Spirit and Cheerfulness by every Body, to bring the Campaign soon to an End.' Two thousand men were already busy making fascines and gabions to protect an approach to the walls. By the evening of the 13th, many of the trees on the Plains of Abraham likely to protect an assailant had been cut down, and the houses near the British camp had all been fortified. On that night the British slept within a thousand yards of the walls of Quebec. In a few days most of the underwood within a mile of their flank and rear had been cleared away. For a day or two they were aided by fine weather. They used the steep road from the strand of the river up to the heights at the Anse au Foulon, henceforth to be called Wolfe's Cove, for drawing artillery and ammunition to the Plains of Abraham. This toilsome task was carried on with much energy. Sailors as well as soldiers showed great alacrity ; in this work on land the word of command was given as on board ship: 'It was really diverting', says an eyewitness who saw the men toiling up the hill, 'to hear the midshipmen cry out "Starboard, starboard, my brave — boys "
Tragedy meanwhile hovered over Quebec. Montcalm died early on the morning of the 14th, content, as he said, to leave the military command in the hands of Levis, whose talents and capacity he had always valued. Vaudreuil had agreed that Quebec must surrender ; so also had Montcalm ; and its defenders could claim the warrant of both leaders for such an act. Naturally they now had deep searching of heart. For a day or two Ramezay kept up the appearance of a resolution to hold the place. His shot and shell greatly annoyed the British on the Plains of Abraham and forced them on the 15th to change their line of encampment ; even after this, British batteries on the south side of the river, more than a mile away, were disturbed by Ramezay's ceaseless fire, as were also the boats carrying munitions of war from the Point of Levy to Wolfe's Cove. There was, however, no heart in the defence of Quebec. Disorder and riot soon broke out. Those within the town had not realized at first that now they were left to their own devices. Across the basin they could see the white tents of the French at Beauport, and since, as they supposed, the French army was still there, rescue seemed not impossible. Disillusion came with the news of the headlong flight to Jacques Cartier and not unnaturally it produced a panic.
The Chevalier de Ramezay, who commanded at Quebec, was a Canadian by birth and had spent his whole life in the service of the colony. He was the fifteenth child of Claude de Ramezay, who had been Governor of Montreal. Three of his brothers had perished in the service of the French King. As early as in 1720 Ramezay had attained the rank of ensign. Later he had seen almost every variety of service in the country. Since he was only a colonial officer he was rather despised by the officers from France. One of these, Joannes, town-major of Quebec, declares, for instance, that, as Ramezay had only known rough backwoods fighting, he had no conception of the proper way to defend a fortress. The Governor, Vaudreuil, a fellow Canadian, did not like Ramezay and had mortified him by putting another officer, the Chevalier de Bernetz, in command of the Lower Town. The courage of Ramezay is not, however, to be doubted. Now, face to face with a difficult problem, he required both courage and wisdom. Even though Montcalm and Vaudreuil had admitted that the fortress must surrender and had outlined the terms to be demanded, it was for Ramezay himself to decide when the moment to yield should come. As Montcalm lay dying Ramezay went to him for orders. The stricken leader was, however, resolved to leave such decisions to those who should survive to see the future. His time was short, he said, and he had business to attend to of more moment than the affairs of a ruined colony.
As, a few months later, the British themselves found, to defend Quebec against assault would not be easy. The French Government had always shrunk from the great cost of proper fortifications, and the strength of Quebec was due less to what man had done than to natural position. It had been hitherto immune from assault only because of the difficulty of scaling the steep heights rising from the river, but now these heights had been gained by a triumphant foe. Montcalm himself had called ridiculous the defences on the landward side before which the British were entrenched. The wall, not yet really finished, which confronted the British encamped on the Plains of Abraham, was commanded by high ground only a few hundred yards away. It was better fitted for defence against muskets and bows and arrows than against artillery. For fear of shaking the rest of the fortifications, the French engineers had not used the necessary explosives to make excavations in the rock. There was thus no ditch. There were no outworks. The walls, if bombarded by the powerful batteries which the British were erecting, could probably not resist a cannonade for two hours. To meet attack from this side the defenders had not a single battery capable of action.
The town itself was a ruin. The Lower Town, curving for a mile or two along the strand of the river and inhabited by the traders and poorer classes, was a dismal sight. No less than five hundred and thirty-five houses had been burned, hardly a dozen remained standing, and some of the narrow streets were impassable owing to the debris caused by the British bombardment. The part of the city known as the Upper Town, where dwelt the Governor, the Bishop and other ecclesiastics, and the leading citizens, had fared somewhat better. Its principal buildings were, however, in ruins. The Governor's residence—the Castle of St. Louis the Bishop's palace the Cathedral, Marchalls' College, had all been in range of cannon on the opposite shore, and, of the first three, at least, the British batteries had left little but the walls. In the Seminary, a college for the training of priests, standing near the Cathedral, only the kitchen was left, and here the Cure of Quebec was living as best he could. Wolfe's guns had dismounted some batteries in the Upper Town and these were now filled with debris. Even walls six feet thick had not withstood his furious bombardment.
After the defeat of the 13th of September Ramezay had asked that a French engineer should be sent into Quebec to help him make the best of its shattered defences; but the disorganized leaders had not heeded the request. During the siege no stores of provisions had been kept in Quebec, because of the danger from the British fire. Supplies had been brought daily from the camp at Beauport and from the surrounding country. No doubt there was food in private houses, but most of it was now kept concealed by the owners. With supplies for only a few days in sight, Quebec seemed on the verge of starvation. There were a good many mouths to feed. Among the civilians were two thousand seven hundred women and children and a host of clerks, workmen, and domestic servants. The French, too, must feed their many invalids at the General Hospital. In addition to these were the forces in the town, numbering perhaps two thousand six hundred. About eleven hundred and fifty were regular soldiers; the rest were untrained militia—peasants, mechanics, and merchants.
As early as on the morning of the 14th the citizens of Quebec held a meeting to consider their position. Headed by the Mayor, they then entreated Ramezay to surrender. They had been prepared, they said, to face the loss of their homes and their property. During the prolonged bombardment they had not murmured. Now, however, the British had won a signal victory. Quebec, face to face with famine, could no longer be defended. Under the rules of war, if Ramezay should wait till it was taken by assault, not only men but helpless women and children would be put to the sword. Some there were who opposed these views and declared that the citizens of Quebec seemed more anxious to save their goods than their country. But the wish to surrender was not confined to unarmed citizens. Many of the Canadian militia, an amateur soldiery, were fearful that, if found fighting, they would be treated with the rigour meted out, under the rules of war, to civilians in arms; or that, if treated as soldiers, they would, upon surrender, be transported to France. They now declared that they would no longer serve and that they looked upon themselves as civilians only. When the drums beat for muster they refused to take their places, much to the wrath of the officers of the regular service. They abandoned even the exposed posts of which they had charge. A French officer, enraged, proposed to fall upon them sword in hand; but menaces, promises, even the experiment of serving out brandy, failed to inspire them with courage. They deserted in bands. Flight by way of Beauport was still possible. Within a day or two some nine hundred had gone off, a few to the British, but most of them to find refuge with the inhabitants of the surrounding country. The spirit of the men in the regular force was nearly as bad and it was soon apparent that even the officers were almost unanimous in desiring surrender.
What was Ramezay to do? On the 15th of September he called a council of war. By this time Vaudreuil's flight to Jacques Cartier had become known to all. At the council of war Ramezay read the instructions in regard to surrender which he had received from Vaudreuil ; he made also a statement as to the famine imminent in the town. Then he asked each officer, with these naked facts before him, to give in writings independent view of what should be done. Fifteen officers were present and we have still the record, solemnly made, of each man's opinion. For continuing the fight one officer alone stood out. The Captain of the town artillery, M. Jacquot de Fiedmont, who had elsewhere shown conspicuous courage, wrote his advice ' to put the garrison on still shorter rations and push the defence to the last extremity '. All the others, however, advised an opposite course, and the council of war decided that the best thing to be hoped for was an honourable surrender, and that, should there be delay, even this might not be possible. The hapless commander, with whom rested the final word, may well have been perplexed as to his duty. Ill health did not make his burden lighter. On the 15th he asked permission from the British to send the women and children past their lines, but the request met with a stern refusal.1 His foe would not allow him to be relieved even of this difficulty.
Scarcity of provisions caused the most serious problem. Since the French tents were still standing at Beauport, Ramezay sent thither, hoping to find provisions ; but, as we have seen, the inhabitants and the Indians had already made help from this quarter impossible. What portion of the abandoned supplies they could not carry off they had wasted, and Ramezay's messengers found strewn about in the wildest disorder flour and other stores that might have saved Quebec. Just at this time came one gleam of hope. News arrived from the defeated French army. A letter from Vaudreuil, which must have been written during his wild retreat, reached Ramezay with the tidings that he was sending into Quebec both provisions and troops.
The hapless commander in Quebec had to ask himself if such a promise could be fulfilled. He said nothing about the letter but, in order to get more light, sent out two officers, Joannes, of the French regular service, and Magnan, of the Canadian militia, to learn for themselves what the prospect of succour by the panic-stricken French army really was, and, if possible, to see Vaudreuil in person. By this time, however, the Governor was far away. Joannes pledged himself to go out and return in a single night, that of the 15th. He went some nine or ten miles towards Jacques Cartier; and then sent forward an urgent letter to Vaudreuil to say that there was a bad state of feeling in Quebec and that, if no word was received from him by ten o'clock on the morning of the 17th, negotiations for surrender would be opened. What Joannes saw and heard, perhaps from Bougainville at Lorette, led him to believe that rescue was by no means impossible, and he returned to Quebec convinced that the defenders should hold out. In this he was supported by the brave Fiedmont. But Ramezay was of stuff less stern. Levis had not yet arrived at Jacques Cartier and a distressing account of the lack of discipline and order in the French army had reached Ramezay. Help from such a force was, he thought, hardly to be expected. By this time, indeed, he had decided to give up the fight. Vaudreuil charges that Ramezay reached this decision without having informed himself of the conditions in Quebec, and declares that there were cattle and horses in the town which would have prevented famine.
It must be said that Ramezay had no good reason to believe that the demoralized French army could now render effective help. It is, of course, easy to suggest what he might have done, but from one urgent fact he could not escape ;— about him were women and children now in panic fear and clamorous for food. Vaudreuil had instructed him not to hold out until the British should assault Quebec. Now, because the foe had worked with fiery energy, this assault was imminent. By the morning of the 17th the British had a hundred and eighteen guns mounted in their batteries and were almost ready to open fire upon the feeble walls. Just at this time, too, the line-of-battle ships shifted to a position nearer the town and prepared for a bombardment. A renewed panic followed in Quebec. Ramezay himself describes his situation :
'It was no longer possible for me to hold any post securely. The batteries had been abandoned and the weak points were no longer guarded. I had not officers enough to carry out my orders ; I could no longer count upon the militia officers since the request [to surrender] which they had made. My situation soon became only too clear. On the 17th . . . there was an alarm, and I learned that an English force was coming in small boats to land in the lower town. At the same time we saw all the war-ships get under sail to come nearer the shore. A strong English column advanced [by land] towards the Palace gate where the entrance was unguarded. I ordered a general alarm and every man to take his place. While I was in the square with several officers, an officer whom I had sent to carry out my orders returned to tell me that none of the militia would fight. At the same moment the militia officers came to me. They said that they were in no temper to sustain an assault; that they well knew I had orders to the contrary; and that they intended to replace their weapons in the armoury, so that, when the enemy entered Quebec, the militia should be found without arms and should not be put to the sword. Henceforth, they said, they should regard themselves, not as soldiers but as civilians. If the army had not abandoned them they would have continued to show the same devotion that they had shown throughout the siege ; now, however, with no further resources left, they did not feel obliged to face a useless massacre ; such a sacrifice would not delay by one hour the taking of the town. All this time the enemy drew nearer and my situation was cruel. I took the opinion of several officers near me, and, in particular, that of my second in command, the Chevalier de Bernetz. By their advice I raised the flag, according to the orders I had received, and sent to the enemy's camp M. de Joannes, aide-major, with the terms of capitulation which M. de Vaudreuil had sent to me.'
Not only the militia had fallen into a state of abject terror. ' To my great regret' says the French officer, Bernetz, 'I saw this same unhappy spirit working in the hearts of the regular soldiers. I shed tears of grief over it.' He mourns, indeed, that he had not been killed earlier in the campaign, instead of living to see this final humiliation.
At three o'clock on the afternoon of the 17th, in pouring rain, Joannes, despite his vigorous protests against surrender, was sent to the British general to ask for terms. Townshend and Admiral Saunders took counsel together, made moderate demands, and gave Ramezay the four hours from seven to eleven o'clock of that night for consideration. Joannes had secured as long a time as possible, in order to increase the chance of rescue, and now he and Fiedmont, on their knees even, entreated Ramezay not to yield. They begged him, if he could do no more, to evacuate the Lower Town and concentrate his force in the Upper Town, where he would be almost safe from the fire of the British ships. It was too late; Ramezay's spirit was gone. His forces were utterly discouraged. Wholesale desertion was taking place and starvation seemed imminent. The heavy rain added to the discouragement, for it would retard any rescuing movement. Ramezay reasoned, moreover, that even if the British were in Quebec, they would still be as vulnerable there as in their fortified post on the Plains of Abraham. In fact, when seven months later the French attacked Quebec, the British preferred to fight on the open plain.
A little before eleven o'clock at night, Joannes was sent out again to the British camp with a final acceptance of the terms offered, terms, it should be noted, better than those which Vaudreuil had told Ramezay to accept. Each side was to take a hostage from the other in pledge of good faith. While this arrangement was being carried out a singular thing happened. Ere the dejected Joannes had left Quebec to return to the British head-quarters with the final surrender, help reached Quebec. A force of fifty mounted men, under Captain de la Rochebeaucour, sent by Bougainville, entered the town from the side towards Beauport, and brought with them some sacks of provisions and the news that other supplies were coming by water and that rescue was near. When Ramezay had signed the capitulation he had not been aware of La Rochebeaucour's arrival. This brave officer now went to Ramezay and, like others, begged on his knees for delay. Whether, had Ramezay known sooner of this succour, he would have drawn back, and whether within the next few days France and England would again have grappled in deadly strife on the Plains of Abraham, who can say? The help had come too late. Ramezay had already signed the capitulation and would not draw back. La Rochebeaucour rode off, carrying with him some of the provisions that he had brought for the relief of Quebec and bitterly angry at the conduct of Ramezay.
There is no doubt that, had the surrender been delayed even another day, the British would have been in a dangerous situation. Levis was marching back to Quebec with an army that trusted him as a leader, and the British had good reason to be nervous about their position. They were thus eager to enter the town. The weather, which had been delightful for a day or two after the battle, was now cold and wet. Rain had made the roads so bad that only with difficulty could the troops drag up further artillery to the Plains of Abraham. It was desirable that the British should occupy Quebec before it was further injured by bombardment, for they might have to find winter quarters there. Accordingly they were ready to grant easy terms. On one thing only were they unbending : the garrison in Quebec should not serve longer in Canada. When Ramezay asked leave to join the French army under Levis, Townshend's answer was that all but the militia must be embarked at once for France. The British agreed that the garrison, bearing arms, with drums beating and matches lighted, should march to the ships with the honours of war; they agreed further to respect private property, to leave the inhabitants of Quebec undisturbed in their houses, and to permit the free exercise of the Roman Catholic faith, until this question should be finally determined by a treaty of peace.
These arrangements were completed on the 18th. Then the grenadiers, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Murray, took possession of the gates of the Upper Town. At the same time a naval force, under Captain, afterwards Sir Hugh, Palliser, occupied the Lower Town. On the Grand Parade, with all the pomp of war, Townshend himself received the keys of the fortress from its former masters and the British flag was raised over Quebec. The French garrison which marched out made a brave showing and left only a ruined city to their foes. Since the day of the battle the numbers in the French ranks had declined ; now rather less than two thousand men, of whom more than nine hundred were militia, surrendered. All but the militia were to be taken at once to France.
The fatal intelligence of the surrender of Quebec reached Bougainville when he was less than two miles away. Levis heard it near Cap Rouge, less than ten miles from Quebec, when his army had already covered the greater part of the return march. 'The news,' he writes, 'which rendered useless all that I had done, affected me infinitely. It is unheard of that a place should surrender which had been neither attacked nor invested.' Bourlamaque, in command at Isle aux Noix, wrote that the blow was incomprehensible, terrible. The fall of the fortress meant, indeed, as time was to show, the loss to France of an empire.
The; surrender of Quebec caused in the French army the natural and stern resolve that before spring came they would recapture the fortress. To this everything else must give way. Levis would have wished to close in at once on Quebec and to harass the victors without delay. For this task, however, his resources were slender. He had no artillery and but little ammunition. Even food he could get only with great difficulty. Wolfe's cruel policy of desolating the parishes was now justified ; the country about Quebec could not support an attacking army. Levis soon resolved that for the moment a siege was impossible. To be safe from attack, he decided to return to Jacques Cartier, whither the French had fled so precipitately on the night of the 13th. With the river of that name as his frontal defence against a further British advance, he could make plans in some security.
Once more, therefore, in bad weather and over roads heavy with recent rains, the discouraged and defeated French army dragged itself away from Quebec. By the 24th of September the second retreat was completed and many of the French soldiers, turning their swords into pruning-hooks, were helping the Canadian farmers to reap the scanty harvest. A high bluff on the right bank of the Jacques Cartier River, where it joins the St. Lawrence, furnished a site little inferior to that of Quebec for a fort. The French leaders were quickly busy with plans. By September 26 engineers had begun to lay out new works. In the end, the works proved so strong that, as a matter of fact, Jacques Cartier was the last point on the St. Lawrence where the French flag was lowered.
For the time, however, little more could be done. The foraging parties could secure little, and famine was imminent. When, on October 4, some Canadians brought in twenty cattle which they had secured in the neighbourhood of Quebec, the rejoicing was great over what proved, after all, but a mouthful for so considerable an army. Levis sent to the French frigates still lying in the river some distance above Quebec to ask for food, but his boats returned empty. By October 15 the army at Jacques Cartier had in sight provisions for only nine days. With such scant resources it was impossible to keep a great force at that point. The French quickly found that they could not hold together their Indian allies, unless they could supply them with food. Since this was impossible, the Indians soon scattered to their own villages. For the moment at least Quebec was safe in the possession of its new owners.
With the fall of Quebec the outlook for France in North America was indeed gloomy. She had made magnificent claims to hold the vast region stretching from the mouth of the St. Lawrence to the mouth of the Mississippi. From the early days of discovery the sons of France, more imaginative than their English rivals, had been haunted by the mystery of the interior. While the English had rarely ventured far from the sea-coast, the French pioneers had pressed inland. Champlain had reached the Great Lakes ; La Salle had linked the St. Lawrence with the Mississippi in his dream of a far-reaching French Empire ; La Verendrye had gone still farther afield and had penetrated to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Fur-traders had followed the explorers. To this day, in regions far remote, regions which have passed to another race, French geographical names and some lingering remnants of French speech often furnish a reminder of the far-reaching energies of the explorers and traders of New France. To assert her claim and to protect the richest fur-trade in the world, France had built forts at the chief points of vantage. At the forks of the Ohio, commanding the commerce of that river, the fleurs-de-lis had waved over Fort Duquesne. At Niagara, commanding the passage from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, stood another French stronghold. Fort Frontenac commanded the point where Lake Ontario narrows into the River St. Lawrence. These were the chief forts, but at many other places, even in the far west on the Red River and beyond it, the energy of France was represented by posts, where her traders gathered the harvest of furs from half a continent.
"Now, however, this fabric which France had reared was tumbling down. One by one the British had mastered the vantage points. The summer of 1758 had been disastrous to the outposts of France. With the fall of Louisbourg in July she was stripped of power east of Quebec. At the end of August in that year the British had captured Fort Frontenac at the head of the St. Lawrence and cut off communications between Quebec and the West. A little later, in bleak November, they had struck a vigorous blow on the Ohio, captured Fort Duquesne, and were now rearing in its place Fort Pitt, named after the great minister. Niagara had still held out defiantly, but in the summer of 1759 it too had fallen. Thus, except at a few scattered points where surrender must come whenever the British should demand it, the whole power of France in the interior had fallen. After the disaster at Quebec, only the central region about Montreal remained to her.
This place was now the point of danger. Vaudreuil, though vain and bombastic, was not a coward, and he soon resolved to take up his head-quarters in Montreal. Accordingly, on September 28, he issued a pompous ordinance placing Levis in command 011 the lower river, and then set out from Jacques Cartier. On the first of October he arrived in Montreal, in company with the Bishop of Quebec, and was soon planning with feverish energy to meet the expected attack on this last foothold of France in Canada.
It seemed possible that Montreal might be won by the British befpre winter set in. It was menaced from the west and from the south. At Oswego, near the point where
the St. Licence River flows out of Lake Ontario, General Gage had gathered an army to descend the river to Montreal. His path was not clear, for the French had a fort called La Galette at La Presentation, some seventy miles down the river from Oswego, at a point commanding the St. Lawrence and near the Mohawk Valley, leading to the heart of the colony of New York. The fort was a centre from which the Indians in alliance with the French had made numerous forays and caused much trouble. Its defences were, however, weak and Gage could easily have overpowered it. It was not this problem but another which chiefly troubled him. If he descended to La Galette, could he winter his force there, in case it was impossible to advance to Montreal? If Gage had known what was happening at Quebec, he would probably have made a start for Montreal. Communications in this campaign were, however, extremely difficult. It is actually true that the news of the fall of Quebec reached England, three thousand miles away, on October 16 and did not reach General Amherst, who was on Lake Champlain, less than two hundred miles away, until October 18. Gage heard nothing of it for a long time, and in the end, ' to my great concern,' says his superior officer, Amherst, decided not to make any advance towards Montreal during that season. In slow deliberation he was more than a rival of his chief.
Amherst himself was approaching Montreal from the south along the war-worn route by Lake George and Lake Champlain. It had been hitherto a line of advance fatal to British arms. In 1757 Montcalm had captured a British army at Fort William Henry at the foot of Lake George. In the next year at Ticonderoga Montcalm had again inflicted a bloody defeat on the British trying to advance by this route into Canada. Now Amherst himself, the Commander-in-Chief, was using it for his advance. He had set out from Fort William Henry at the south end of the lake on July 21, 1759. The French did not try to check his progress up Lake George and Lake Champlain. Ticonderoga, where the British had been beaten with such heavy loss in the previous year, the French blew up at Amherst's advance ; Crown Point, on Lake Champlain, they also abandoned. All this had been done by August 1, and it was the news of these successes which had led to an outburst of rejoicing in England and to the humorous suggestion by Horace Walpole that Amherst should be given the title of Ticonderogious. But, having done so much in the face of a fleeing enemy, Amherst paused to make sure of his ground. At Crown Point he found what he thought the best situation in America for a fort, and he decided to build there a massive structure which might defy the enemies of Britain for all time. Soon he had three thousand men engaged in the task. He worked with untiring energy and all that he did was good. But during these weeks after August 1 the crisis of Wolfe's attack on Quebec had come, and the appearance of Amherst on the St. Lawrence would have been of inestimable service to the despairing British leader. Help did not appear. What Wolfe achieved, he achieved alone; Amherst gave him no aid.
Without doubt Amherst was an efficient officer. ' There does not exist', wrote General Yorke in this year, of Amherst, 'a worthier nor a more modest man than that nor a plainer or better soldier.' But, he added, 'Wolfe has more fire,' and this difference really explains the slow policy of Amherst. He would run no risks. Even at the cost of much time, he must be secure in every step he took. To himself the reasons for not advancing at once from Crown Point were all-sufficient. His scouts reported that the French had three or four armed vessels on the lake. To take forward his army and its equipment by land was impossible because of bad roads and of the danger of ambush in the forest ; and he could not take it by w^r in small boats unless he was able to drive off the armed ships of the French. He paused, accordingly, to build the necessary vessels and a floating battery.
The military task before him was formidable. Montcalm had sent one of his best officers, Bourlamaque, to guard this route. With Bourlamaque were now about thirty-five hundred men in a strong position. Lake Champlain discharges its waters into the Richelieu River. A few miles after leaving Lake Champlain this river is divided by an island which the French called Isle aux Noix. On this island they had built a strong fort. Its cannon swept the approaches by way of the river. To reach the St. Lawrence Amherst must pass this fort. If he attacked it from the water, the French cannon could demolish his small vessels. If he advanced to the attack with a land force, he would find the island fort protected on all sides by the river.
Amherst's problem had been made more difficult by lack of communication with the British before Quebec. Hardly any news trickled through the French lines. As early as August 7 Amherst had sent a letter to Wolfe by way of Nova Scotia and the Kennebec River. Since it would be long in arriving, he had made next day a more direct attempt. He sent Captain Kennedy, a kinsman of General Murray, with some companions to go through the forest to the St. Lawrence by way of the Indian settlements on the south shore. If Kennedy encountered Indians he was to promise them a liberal reward for bringing him to General Wolfe. Kennedy encountered the Indians of St. Francis, but, instead of honouring his flag of truce and acting as friendly guides, they treated him and his party as spies, put them in irons, and carried them to the French. The first news that reached Amherst came on September 10 in the form of a letter from Montcalm saying that they were his prisoners.
The conduct of the St. Francis Indians to Captain Kennedy brought to a head the resolve of the British to punish these savages. There was not only this but an older score to settle with them. For well nigh a century they had been a terror to the people of New England and had carried on murderous warfare against the helpless frontier settlements. Amherst now authorized a party of two hundred and twenty picked men, called in frontier warfare ' Rangers ', under a well-known leader, Major Rogers, to go by forest pathways to the head-quarters of the savages and inflict on them summary punishment.
The expedition set out on September 13, the very day of Wolfe's great victory. 'Take your revenge' wrote Amherst, 'but don't forget that though these villains have dastardly and promiscuously murdered the women and children of all ages, it is my orders that no women or children are killed or hurt.' We have Rogers's own account of what he did. In some way the intrepid ranger managed to get past the French armed vessels patrolling Lake Champlain. He hid his boats on the shores of its northern inlet, Mississquoi Bay, left two friendly Indians on watch, and then began a long and painful march through the forest. His goal, St. Francis, was distant a march of many days. When Rogers had been out two days, friendly Indians warned him that a strong party of the enemy had found his boats and was pursuing him. Bourlamaque, at Isle aux Noix, had in fact discerned the purpose of the expedition and had sent a warning to the priest at St. Francis—a warning apparently not heeded. Rogers pushed forward, hoping to outdistance his pursuers, who moved leisurely, since they thought they should catch him on his return journey. On the tenth day of a toilsome progress through wet spruce bog, where the water was usually about a foot deep and where the men could be dry at night only by swinging themselves in hammocks made of the branches of trees, he readied the River St. Francis about fifteen miles above the village. Since the village lay on the opposite bank of the river, it was necessary to cross. At the ford the water was five feet deep and the current very swift. Rogers put the tallest of his men up stream and, by holding on to each other, they crossed over with the loss of only a few muskets. The force had now good dry ground on which to march and it crept towards the village. When three miles distant, Rogers halted his party and climbed a tree, to take his bearings. Then, in the early evening, he and Lieutenant Turner and Ensign Avery went farther forward to reconnoitre.
They found the Indians engaged in a dance. Rogers drew his force nearer to the village until, at three o'clock in the morning, he was distant but five hundred yards. By this time the noisy festivities were over and the quiet of night and of sleep had settled down upon the savages. At half an hour before sunrise the signal for attack was given. The savages had no time to take arms in defence and an appalling massacre followed. With the exception of three houses, where was stored corn which Rogers reserved for the use of his party, all the houses were soon on fire. Many Indians who had concealed themselves in the cellars and lofts of their houses were burned to death. Others who tried to get away in canoes were either shot or died by drowning. Among those who thus perished was the priest. By seven o'clock in the morning the grim work was completed. Some two hundred Indians had been killed, including, it should seem, a good many women, in spite of the instructions of Amherst to the contrary. Rogers himself had lost but one man, an Indian from New England. The church, a fine one for the time, was burned and a rich collection of manuscripts relating to Indian life was destroyed. One ornament, a silver statue, was carried off by the victors to New England.
There is no doubt that the massacre was looked upon by the British as a righteous judgement. These savages, Rogers says, were ' notoriously attached to the French and had for nearly a century past harassed the frontiers of New England, killing people of all ages and sexes in a most barbarous manner . . . and to my own knowledge in six years' time, carried into captivity and killed on the before-mentioned frontiers, four hundred persons. We found in the town hanging on poles over their doors, &c., about six hundred scalps, mostly English.' Rogers set out for home by a circuitous route. He met with terrible hardships. Some of his men starved to death, others found on their route corpses of their own countrymen scalped and horribly mangled by the enemy, and were obliged to eat this ghastly food. Ten, it is said, were taken and carried back to St. Francis, where they were tortured to death by furious Indian women, whose lives they had probably spared. For some time haggard and worn men continued to drift into the various French and English posts half dead with exhaustion. Rogers himself returned in the end to Crown Point and made his triumphant report to Amherst.
The savage exploit of Rogers was only side-play. It was still Amherst's intention to be master of Montreal before winter. He was now confronted by a discouraged enemy. The news of the death of Montcalm had reached Bourlamaque at Isle aux Noix on September 18. He managed to keep it from the English and for some days he tried to keep it even from his own men. But rumours of what had happened began to be whispered about. When, a little later, to the news of the death of Montcalm was added that of the fall of Quebec, there was general consternation. Bourlamaque tried to restore confidence by saying that the British, few in number and with winter coming on, were themselves in an untenable position and could take no further aggressive action. He says that the return of Vaudreuil to Montreal was a new discouragement to the French army; we are left to conjecture whether it was the impending presence of the volatile governor or the fact that he was obliged to fall back from Quebec which caused this feeling.
Bourlamaque's health was bad; he was worn out by the fatigues of the campaign of the summer and had been ill for months with fever, asthma, and other ailments. Now he hardly undressed to go to bed, and an old wound kept him from sound sleep. During each night he made four or five rounds of inspection. The tone of his letters is naturally despondent. But he writes : 'We shall fight to our utmost, come what can.' The Canadians were now discontented and unwilling to serve. When enrolled, they deserted by hundreds; a force of five hundred men which Levis sent to Bourlamaque numbered on its arrival only one hundred and twenty. The Indians were no better. They had little taste for the operations of regular war and went off to their homes regardless of the fate impending over New France. Bourlamaque says that even the offer of a keg of brandy would not tempt them to do scouting work for him.
The autumn proved stormy and the gales stirred up heavy seas on Lake Champlain. The season was at its worst when, at last, Amherst began his advance in force. On October 13, he embarked his army in whale-boats and, defended by a miniature navy consisting of a brig, a sloop, and a floating battery, well armed, he advanced down Lake Champlain. The array of about seventy boats was striking enough to have attracted attention; yet, owing to what must have been glaring incompetence, M. de Laubara, the naval officer in command of the French ships on the lake, was not aware of the approach of the enemy until his own retreat by the river to Isle aux Noix was cut off. In face of the overwhelming superiority of the English he fled down Mississquoi Bay and, when night came on, sank two of his vessels, stranded a third, landed his force, and took to the woods. My party was without food and, in the end, the men were reduced to eating their own shoes. The sailors proved helpless on shore and the refugees would probably have perished in the wilds had it not been for some Scottish prisoners whom they had with them. These men, at home in the forest, led the party safely to Montreal. The fourth vessel of Laubara's squadron ultimately reached Isle aux Noix, but the loss of the ships took from the French any possibility of action by way of the water.
Had Amherst now pressed in on Isle aux Noix it would probably have yielded. His foe was delighted at his inactivity. 'In spite of my belief,' wrote Bourlamaque, 'that he risks his head by doing nothing, I begin to think that he will make no movement during this campaign.' In fact Amherst had delayed too long. Gales made the lake no longer navigable to his whale-boats loaded down with men. He was forced to land on the west shore, there to wait for better weather. Just at this time news reached him of the fall of Quebec. It might well have furnished an added inducement to press forward. But he did not see-it in this way. Certain now that Canada must yield, in any case, he turned back to Crown Point, in order to spare his men the perils of a needless campaign. It was a thoughtfulness for which they were not grateful, for it robbed them of the glory of the final conquest of Canada. 'I do not know how he will be able to save his head,' Bourlamaque wrote to Levis concerning Amherst; 'assuredly he is making a stupid campaign.' Yet he had done something. The French ships on the lake had been destroyed or captured and the English could no longer be kept from pressing in when they liked on the feeble defences at Isle aux Noix. Active campaigning was now suspended by the approach of winter. The best that each army expected to do was to hold its own during that season and to be ready for effective work in the early spring.