At Quebec the British now prepared for a long and stern winter. They were full of joy and thanksgiving for their great success. 'Let us now Sing unto the Lord a new Song,' wrote Quartermaster-Sergeant Johnson, ' for he has done marvellous things for us this day : his Right hand, and his holy arm hath gotten us the victory. . . . Let us look through the Annals of Antiquity :様et us Search the records of former Ages, and see whether we can find so great a Conquest in so short a time, by so small a number of Men.' On the 23rd the field of battle was the scene of a thanksgiving service. On the 27th the Ursuline Chapel, the only one left intact in Quebec, was used for a similar purpose. A naval chaplain, the Rev. Elie Dawson, preached a sermon which shows how the glory of Wolfe was already regarded. ' Ye Mountains of Abraham, decorated with his trophies, tell how plainly ye opposed him when he mounted your lofty Heights with the Strength and Swiftness of an eagle : Stand fixed upon your rocky Base, and speak his Name and Glory to all future generations ! ' Again, a week later, when the town had been regularly occupied, the victors offered in the same chapel renewed thanksgivings. With fine impartiality some of the French inhabitants attended this service. The good nuns of the Ursuline Convent must have been shocked at the desecration by heretics of their house of prayer ; but, during the winter, Protestant and Roman Catholic services continued to be held in the same structure. In England a special form of prayer and thanksgiving was issued for use in the churches with the petition that the ' haughty adversaries' might ' confess and amend the injurious behaviour of which they have been guilty '. ' The Lord God of Israel fought for Israel,' said a preacher, Mr. Townley, at St. Paul's. To him the enemies of England were assuredly the enemies of the Lord.
Delighted as were the victors with their conquest, they still had doubts whether it would not be wise to destroy Quebec. To defend, without the aid of a fleet, a ruined fortress, in a hostile country, and in face of the rigours of a Canadian winter, was assuredly no light task. The generals and the admirals debated the matter in a council of war and reached the conclusion to defend to the last what Wolfe had so laboriously won. There was a great extent of wall to be protected and for such a task it would be necessary to leave at Quebec every available soldier. On September 24 the British muster roll showed an army of 8,504 men, all told, but of these only 5,707 were, at the moment, fit for duty. In the end only a few grenadiers; rangers, and artillery men were sent away, and Quebec was left with 7,313 defenders of all ranks to face the winter and the enemy. [The regiments left at Quebec were the 15th, 28th, 35th, 43rd, 47th, 48th, 58th, 60th, and 78th. In addition there were the men of the Royal Artillery. The 60th Regiment contained two battalions of colonial troops (Royal Americans) ; there were besides 100 Colonial Rangers.]
The town once occupied, not a moment was lost in getting ready for the winter. The British evacuated the posts at the Point of Levy and the Island of Orleans, which Wolfe had used as his bases. On the night of the i8th, not without difficulty, they put a force across the St. Charles and occupied the redoubt where a few days before the Chevalier Johnstone had found such confusion in the French counsels. It was taken with the exchange of only a few shots. The victors lost no time in sending home the French troops who had surrendered. They were embarked promptly in four ships and, a few days after the fall of Quebec, they set sail for France, no doubt much to their joy. To some of them, because of their sin of failure, the mother country gave a stern welcome. Ramezay, in particular, had to meet bitter attacks and to endure shame and poverty for the loss of Quebec. Vaudreuil, who had instructed him to surrender the fortress, sent home an official letter blaming him for carrying out these instructions.
Since there seemed to be no anchorage in the river where, during the winter, large ships would be safe from destruction by ice, Admiral Saunders made ready to sail away with his whole fleet. Before departing the transports unloaded vast quantities of stores. In the Lower Town the Intendant's Palace, a stately building which greatly impressed the victors, became the chief depot for supplies, while in the Upper Town the large Jesuits' College was used in part for a similar purpose. The Jesuits remaining in the place were few in number. At first the British took three-fourths of the building and a little later they took it all. The task of unloading the stores involved heavy labour. There were almost no horses in Quebec, and to reach the Upper Town the men had to drag the casks and bags up a very steep hill. In addition, since the cannon found at Quebec were worn out and almost useless, the victors had to disembark artillery and place it in proper position. Some of the streets were so nearly impassable from the debris of fallen houses that it was a heavy preliminary labour to clear them for traffic. There was 'not a man', writes General Murray, 'but was constantly employed.'
Until the preliminary work was done the army remained on the Plains of Abraham. On September 29, however, the troops marched into Quebec. The officers drew lots for quarters in the ruined houses and the accommodation was
primitive enough. Captain Knox tells us that to him fell a shed used as a cart-house and stable ; for ceiling he had only a few loose boards and above him was a hay-loft; but a little carpentry wrought wonders, and with a good stove he was able, as winter advanced, to fight the cold successfully. He thought, however, that he would have been more comfortable in a tent. Captain John Montresor secured a roofless house and at first had not a single board for the needed repairs. But he could look after himself ; he took what timber he needed from a house too far gone to be lived in, and a couple of carpenters soon gave him a roof over his head. If officers were lodged so ill the lot of the private soldier was hard indeed. His quarters were bad ; so also was his bedding ; and for food he soon had little but salted provisions. Moreover, since the Government had failed to send out money with which to pay the army, the private soldier had no means to purchase small additions to his comfort. For him, as chill winter drew on, the outlook was grim and the result was to prove tragic.
Monckton, disabled by his wound, was ordered to a milder climate; Townshend went home; and the command at Quebec devolved on Brigadier-General Murray, with Colonel Burton as his second in command. In the early days of October the preparations for the sailing of the fleet were completed. When, on the 10th, a portion of it was ready, the departing ships saluted the garrison with twenty-one guns, return courtesies boomed out from the batteries on the shore, and the squadron proceeded on its homeward way. The other ships soon followed. A part of the fleet was to remain at Halifax under Lord Colville for the winter. Two sloops of war, the Racehorse and the Porcupine, and three small armed vessels remained at Quebec, puny evidence of Britain's might upon the sea. For the time the naval strength of France on the St. Lawrence was greater than that of Britain. The few French frigates, which had reached Canada in the spring early enough to avoid the British fleet, had gone up the river beyond Quebec. Saunders, to his great regret, had been unable to reach them and they remained a source of considerable anxiety to the British. It was no doubt with many misgivings that Murray saw the British ships disappear behind the Island of Orleans. Colville was to come back at the first possible moment in the spring, but for six months Murray would be cut off from succour by the sea. Between him and any chance of aid by land from England's American colonies lay many miles of well nigh virgin forest, the water pathways of which would soon be held in the iron grasp of winter.
James Murray, the officer now left to defend Quebec, was the fifth and youngest son of a Scottish peer, the fourth Lord Elibank. The first bearer of the title had held to Charles I during the Civil War and the Scottish peerage of Elibank was his reward. A few years later this ancestor had been one of the Scottish peers who opposed the surrender of Charles by the Scots to the English Parliament. The loyalty of the Murrays to the Stuarts in the seventeenth century was continued in the eighteenth. Long after the defeat of the second Pretender the family was supposed to be tainted with Jacobitism, and Horace Walpole declared that if a Stuart could have displaced George III in England the then Lord Elibank would have won prompt recognition for services in a second Restoration. Perhaps the knowledge of this suspicion helped to make James Murray especially zealous. The date of his birth is uncertain, but he was now about forty years old. His father had wished him to be an advocate, but he had run away from home and had enlisted in the Scots-Dutch brigade in Holland. For the time his family lost sight of him. It happened, however, a few years later, that a friend of the family, who saw the changing of the guard at Bergen-op-Zoom, was astonished when he recognized in a smart-looking young non commissioned officer the missing member of the house of Murray. He soon returned to England and entered the army, this time as an officer. When, long after, he reached the rank of General, he was able to say that he had served in every degree in the army but that of drummer. In spite of his own complaints to the contrary, he had made a fairly rapid advance. Wolfe, under whom he had served as a Brigadier, was, however, his junior in years. Murray was keen葉oo keen as the event proved葉o win by daring service fame like that which made Wolfe's name for ever glorious.
In Murray's family there was both wit and resolution. The resolution was mingled sometimes with the bravado that gained for them the nick-name of 'The Windy Murrays'. James Murray's brother Patrick, Lord Elibank, transformed, by a fortunate marriage, from a poor into a rich Scottish peer, was among those who welcomed Dr. Johnson on his famous Scottish journey. To Johnson's insolent note in his dictionary that oats is 'a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people', Elibank made the well-known retort: 'And where will you find such men and such horses?' Elibank moved in the literary society of the time at Edinburgh; he was the patron of the historian Robertson and of the poet Home, and was regarded as a choice spirit by men like David Hume, Adam Smith, and Adam Fergusson. Johnson once said, 'I never was in Lord Elibank's company without learning something'. At the 'Select Society' in Edinburgh he met in debate on equal terms the brilliant Charles Townshend, brother of Townshend, the General who commanded at Quebec after Wolfe's fall. Alexander Murray, another brother, took up the role of a political agitator and, having attacked the Government in the spirit that, a little later, made John Wilkes famous, was ordered in 1751, by the House of Commons, to kneel at the bar to receive censure for inciting to riot in London. He answered defiantly, 'I beg to be excused; I never kneel but to God.' When the Speaker pressed him, he answered firmly, 'Sir, I am sorry I cannot comply with your request. I would do anything else.' For his inflexible pride in defying the House he was committed to Newgate, and, though his physician declared that the confinement imperilled his life, he refused to accept the partial release of going out in the custody of the sergeant-at-arms; his brother, who had petitioned for his freedom, he declared to be a mean and paltry puppy. Alexander Murray's tough nature survived the poisonous air of Newgate, and when, on the adjournment of the House, the Sheriffs of London released him, he was escorted by a great concourse of people through the streets under a banner inscribed, 'Murray and Liberty'. The House pursued him still and he spent many years in exile. Amid the heated passions of the time such an obstreperous and defiant brother can have done no good to the military prospects of the commander at Quebec.
James Murray was, however, well able to take care of himself. In 1759 he was a tried soldier, who had seen service in Europe, in the West Indies, and, with distinction, in the previous year at Louisbourg. He was ardent, high-spirited, and fearless; he had a thorough knowledge of the art of war and the ability and good sense to use his knowledge well. He possessed a fine courtesy of manner. The French officers, his foes, thought him an agreeable companion; 'although he is our enemy, I am unable to speak too well of him,' wrote Malartic, a French officer, to his leader Levis. Murray was always paying gracious compliments to the courage of his opponents. For the hardships of his own troops he showed a manly sympathy, and the Canadians found the stern resolution of the soldier in harrying their villages tempered by the humane regret of the man who felt for their sufferings. His 'military talents, added to intrepid rage and resolution, made him both feared and admired', wrote Johnson, one of his non-commissioned officers. Murray was impatient of opposition and quick tempered, but quick also to regret the hasty action or words of a moment of anger. While an impulsive generosity was one of his most striking characteristics, the thirst to emulate the glory of Wolfe was one of his chief failings. There were no chances that he would not take to win fame. He possessed, says Lieutenant Malcolm Fraser, one of his officers, all the military virtues except prudence.
Murray tried to draw the French into making a truce for the winter, but against this they were firm. To consent to such an agreement, with the British in possession of the strongest position in the country, would have enabled this enemy to draw support from the inhabitants, and would have been regarded by the world at large as only preliminary to final surrender. The defeated army hoped, not without reason, that isolation in a hostile country, the rigour of the coming winter, disease, and the absence of a fleet would so weaken the British as to make their destruction possible before reinforcements should come in the spring. The French counted upon their Indian allies- to help make life a burden to the British. Some French officers still had high hopes of success. Letters sent to Quebec on the chance that they might in some way be forwarded to France were intercepted by Murray, and one evening at dinner, much to the chagrin of a French officer who was present, he read aloud one of these epistles. 'Quebec has indeed fallen,' it said, 'but we have excellent means for retaking it this winter葉he cold, the Canadians, and the Indians.'
It seemed probable that if the French campaign should resolve itself into a siege of Quebec the fortress would fall. It was in no condition to withstand a vigorous attack.
Wolfe had indeed, found to his cost that Quebec was strong on the side of the river. To try to scale the heights, in face of a defending force, was, as Major Mackellar, the chief of the engineer corps, had proved to Wolfe, to invite destruction, for the ascent of the cliff could easily be so guarded that probably not a single assailant would escape. None the less, Quebec was really weak; but the danger came from the landward side. Long after, when Murray had had the experience of three years in defending Quebec, he declared that it was badly placed, that the situation never could be strong, and that the attempt to make it so would cost an immense sum.
A high ridge on the adjacent Plains of Abraham swept the whole line of defence. A thin wall, built for protection against attack by Indians, stretched inward from Cape Diamond, the cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence, to the suburb of St. Roch. This wall, as we have seen, was too weak to withstand a vigorous cannonade. Already there were many breaches in the feeble defences. Montcalm had preferred to fight in front of rather than behind the walls. Murray now repaired the breaches, opened embrasures, and mounted some guns. His men were soon busy erecting a row of block-houses at the distance of a musket-shot outside the walls, both to keep an enemy from occupying the high ground which commanded them and to prevent surprise. But Murray had no confidence in these defences except as against light field artillery and musketry. Major Mackellar indeed advised him to throw up entrenchments on the Plains of Abraham and to trust to them rather than to the walls until reinforcements should arrive in the spring. It was Murray's fixed resolve, if a French force should attack Quebec, to carry out this policy, and not to stay behind the walls. Nothing could indicate more clearly his conviction that Quebec was really weak.
When the British were once securely in Quebec the Canadians accepted the inevitable with cheerfulness. On September 21, in obedience to a military order, the farmers and other inhabitants within a radius of nine miles of the fortress flocked to the town to take an oath to be faithful to King George, and not to arm against him or to be a party to anything that might injure him. On the next day, September 22, Murray issued a manifesto telling the inhabitants that the British had come not to ruin them but to give them mild and just government. They should be secure, he promised, in their property and in the exercise of their religion. As far as possible he disarmed the inhabitants of the parishes. So docile were they that they seemed to him pleased with the change of rulers. Levis wrote in his journal with a touch of bitterness: 'The inhabitants of the Government of Quebec appear to accommodate themselves to the English.' Murray reported on January 30, 1760, that six thousand Canadians had taken the oath of fidelity and brought in their arms. As there were only about sixty or seventy thousand Canadians of all ages and of both sexes in the country, these six thousand must have included nearly the whole adult male population in the district of Quebec. Murray employed some of them with their horses and sleighs to bring in wood; others he employed as artificers. All were paid for their work.
Though some of the Canadians near Quebec were in a half-starving condition, they still had. fresh vegetables; the English, on the other hand, had an abundance of biscuit and of salt meat; and exchanges were effected with mutual advantage. The British soldiers were soon on friendly terms with the habitants, and shared their provisions and even their slender allowance of rum with their new friends. It was the season of the harvest, and Captain Knox writes that on one day he saw more than twenty soldiers assisting the French in the labours of the harvest near Quebec. The work was done with no thought of reward; when asked what pay was expected, one of the soldiers said: 'It would be rank murder to take anything from the poor devils, for they have lost enough already.' This pitying attitude softened the asperities of war. As a military measure the British had ruthlessly destroyed houses and villages in the territory which they held; and, not without reason, the Canadians had been taught to look upon them as barbarians. Now they found generous traits in the new-comers who were to remain the masters of Canada.
All the British soldiers, it is true, were not conspicuous for humanity and generosity. On the day of the surrender of Quebec reports of outrages on the Canadians reached Townshend. He promptly offered a reward of five guineas for the discovery of the offenders. A few days later, when some women at the Point of Levy complained of robbery and outrage by soldiers encamped there, the several detachments were paraded that the women might identify the offenders. They declared that it was not those wearing the ordinary military dress, but les gens sans culottes who were guilty. This pointed to the Highlanders, and the offenders were promptly detected and punished. The incident was unusual; during the operations in Canada the Highlanders had been remarkable for humanity and steadiness. Their strange appearance and dress, however, frightened the French, who nicknamed them les sauvages d'Ecosse葉he Scotch savages.
Murray soon found that to make an effective defence he must do more than hold Quebec. To ensure the health of his troops he required access to the supplies of fresh provisions in the neighbouring villages. Moreover, a large quantity of fire-wood would be necessary during the winter and, in consequence, the British must control some areas of forest. Above all, the Canadians and also the Indians must be kept as far from Quebec as possible, for they were dangerous neighbours. When the British first occupied the town the French sent in hostile scouting parties, which made the roads unsafe. Bands of savages, disguised sometimes as wild animals, came up almost to the walls, and committed numerous outrages. To ensure safety the British found it necessary to occupy all the approaches to Quebec. Murray planned, indeed to extend his outposts so as to keep the French army beyond the River Jacques Cartier. He was forced, however, to adopt a course less ambitious, and to place his farthest outpost at Lorette, not on the plateau but in the valley, some eight miles to the west. There he fortified the church, and by holding this place he cut off the enemy from the most important road to Quebec, the one which led through Charlesbourg. The church at Ste Foy, on the plateau some five miles from Quebec, and commanding a more southerly road from the west, he also fortified. At both Lorette and Ste Foy he stationed field-pieces, and he surrounded the positions with entrenchments and stout picket-work. He held himself ready also to place a force at Cap Rouge. These posts meant the control of the parishes in the immediate neighbourhood of Quebec, and he provided for the administration of justice in these parishes by appointing a Canadian magistrate.
It was desirable also to control the south side of the St. Lawrence. For some time Murray was unable to throw a force across the river; on November 30, however, he sent one Captain Leslie, with a detachment of two hundred men to disarm the inhabitants. Not until three weeks later, on Christmas Day, did Captain Leslie return. Then he reported that every officer and soldier in his party had been frostbitten. Though he had achieved less than he had hoped, he had disarmed the inhabitants in a considerable area and had taken from them an oath of fidelity. Murray, in summing up his work in the last days of 1759, could say that the sway of George II was recognized everywhere eastward of Cap Rouge on the northern bank of the St. Lawrence and eastward of the River Chaudiere on the southern bank.
The British complained bitterly that the French did not play the game of war as it was played in Europe. The savage allies of the French insisted on fighting in their own way. Should a soldier be missing it was as likely as not that his body would be found outside the walls, scalped and mutilated. The Indians, indeed, scalped not only the dead but the wounded. Similar outrages there had been in the course of the war on the British side. Malcolm Fraser, a Highland officer, describes his horror at the brutal savagery of the Colonial Rangers. But these methods were firmly checked by the leaders when present. Generals like Amherst restrained sternly their Indian allies, always restlessly eager for massacre and scalps. Without doubt the French leaders, though they disliked the methods of the Indians, had shown, in this respect, less strength than the British. They had, it is true, urged moderation on the savages, and to save prisoners from torture they had sometimes paid ransoms to their Indian captors. They did not, however用erhaps they dared not with their weaker forces用unish, as Amherst punished, those who were guilty of outrage.
Now the outrages were nearly all on the French side, and the belief sank deeply into the hearts of the British forces that it was a regular French practice to permit Indians to scalp and murder the wounded left on the battle-field. It was stated and believed that even Montcalm, after entertaining a British officer at his table, had then permitted the savages to torture him. The Canadians, it was said, were now told to make no prisoners, but to bring in scalps as trophies of their prowess and to receive a handsome reward. Levis was not chiefly blamed for this conduct. He was looked upon as an honourable soldier. It was against Vaudreuil that the rage of the British turned. He told the Canadians that the British did not keep faith and that, in turn, no promises made to them were binding; thus, he said, the inhabitants might ignore the solemn oath of neutrality which they had given to the British victor. 'It is impossible to describe the impression which the English have of M. de Vaudreuil or of the council which controls him,' Bernier, the French commissary, sent to Quebec after the surrender, reported to Levis; 'prudence and modesty forbid my repeating what they say. They consider him as blood-thirsty, deceitful, a wanton liar, who wishes the ruin of the country.' Many horrors attributed to Vaudreuil were described in England預 country, says Bernier, 'where everything is printed' (dans un pays on tout s'im-prime)預nd made a great impression. Horace Walpole echoes the general sentiment: 'Had he fallen into our hands our men were determined to scalp him, he having been the chief and blackest author of the cruelties exercised on our countrymen.' Though happily this stern vengeance found no place, the time was to come when, on account of such practices, a deep humiliation should be exacted from the defeated French army.
Since the French had a few frigates and other ships in the river above Quebec, the British were always on the watch lest these should pass down and get away to France. It was, indeed, vital to the French that they should escape, for only by them could Vaudreuil send home a statement of his needs and a request for prompt help in the early spring. On November 22 the French fleet dropped down the river and anchored above Quebec off Sillery. Voices of those on board reached the shore and the British were convinced from the continual chattering that the ships were crowded with families returning to France. The intention of the French was to pass Quebec that night when it was dark. The wind, however, failed them, and then the British opened fire the French ships retired out of range. A day or two later they had better luck. On a very dark night and with a fresh and favourable wind they repeated the attempt to get away. The British gunners fired a vast quantity of shot and shell at the passing ships, silent and dim in the gloom. The fire was not entirely effective. Some of the ships sailed past and continued their voyage. It was found, however, when morning broke, that, owing less to the British fire than to bad seamanship, five of the ships had run aground. Four were set on fire by their crews; one lay stranded and abandoned on the south shore.
A tragedy followed. Without Murray's knowledge Captain Miller of the sloop Racehorse, left at Quebec for the winter, went in a schooner to survey the wrecks. Accompanied by a lieutenant and thirty or forty men he boarded the stranded ship lying near the mouth of the River Etchemin. The French, whether by accident or design, had left powder lying about loose. Unhappily some one lighted a fire and there was a terrible explosion. Most of the British were killed outright; those not killed were left so deplorably injured that no one of them could help the others. The schooner in which they had crossed the river was soon boarded by crews which had escaped from the French ships and it was taken after a sharp fight. The victors hurried away; but, a little later, a Canadian ventured to board the stranded ship in search of plunder. To his horror he found many dead bodies; he also found Captain Miller, the lieutenant, and two seamen still alive but dreadfully burned and in great agony. He cared for them as best he could and in the end they were taken for treatment to the Ursuline Convent at Quebec. To the great grief of the garrison, Miller and the lieutenant died within a few days and Murray had to deplore the useless loss of brave men. The ship-carpenters taken prisoners in the schooner by the French could be ill-spared. Murray was building flat-bottomed boats for the river campaign of the coming summer and was sorely in need of men skilled to do this work.
When it was evident that Quebec must be prepared to stand a siege, Murray gave permission to the French inhabitants to withdraw if they wished to do so. The cost of living in a besieged city would be great, he pointed out, and he asked those to go away who had hot adequate means. Many families, even the Bishop of Quebec himself, removed to Montreal. Some of the inhabitants went only as far as Three Rivers or to neighbouring villages, while still others departed to live in the woods in Indian style. Those, however, who wished to do so had the right under the capitulation to remain in their own houses, and this a good many of the obscurer sort did. The English found that these humble people did not hesitate to call down maledictions upon Vaudreuil for their misfortunes. The women were specially vehement; their bitter invectives involved the wish 'that he may be brought to as miserable and barbarous an exit as ever a European suffered under savages'. When Captain Knox heard these imprecations he slyly suggested that they should ask for an exit as barbarous as ever an Englishman suffered under savages by his orders. The revilers of Vaudreuil assented to this, though in calmer moments they would deny that any of the French leaders had approved of such outrages. This was not true. At this very time Vaudreuil was inciting the savages to commit outrages on the Canadians who accepted British rule. At last, in November, Murray issued a proclamation denouncing the Governor's conduct and in turn menacing the Canadians with all the rigours that the rules of war would allow, if they should prove unfaithful to their new oath of allegiance.
Over the French who remained in Quebec Murray established a 'stern but just' rule. They were guaranteed, for the time being, the full rights of their religion. During the winter, multitudes thronged to the Ursuline Chapel, and Captain Knox describes how he was 'agreeably entertained' at this chapel by high mass celebrated with great pomp of vestments. But his Protestant soul was vexed by another ceremony and one that it is not now easy to identify. 'I cannot omit', he writes in December, 'taking notice of an incident that happened here yesterday. Passing in the evening through one of the streets, before it was dark, I met a crowd of French people, of both sexes, with staves and lanthorns, and seemingly in great haste; upon inquiry I found that it was one of the Popish ceremonies. These deluded creatures were going in quest of Barrabbas, the robber, who was released at the crucifixion of the Saviour of the world; and, having, after a long search, discovered a man who was to personate him, being concealed for that purpose, they bound him like a thief, and whipped him before them, with shouts and menaces, until they arrived at one of their churches, where it was pretended he was to suffer as Christ did, in commemoration of His passion.'
In spite of Protestant critics like Knox, Murray ordered that 'the compliment of the hat' should be paid by the officers to religious processions as they passed through the streets; any one whose conscience would be compromised by such recognition was asked to go out of his way to avoid meeting processions. Some of the corner houses in Quebec had niches in the walls, with statues, as large as life, of St. Joseph, Ste Ursule, and other saints. From the first days of the occupation any injury to such property was strictly forbidden and plundering was to meet with the penalty of death. Though religious gatherings were permitted, all other meetings were forbidden. Lights in the houses must be put out at ten. The inhabitants must give up their arms. They must report promptly to the authorities any persons newly arrived whom they sheltered. If they went out after dark they must carry lanterns to show that their errand was legitimate and that they were not trying to conceal it. British soldiers might not intermarry with the French or work for them. On penalty of death the Canadians might not, unknown to Murray, enter into correspondence with people of the adjoining country. It is necessary to add that, in spite of such precautions, the French leaders at Montreal were kept well informed as to what was happening at Quebec.
Murray enforced his regulations with considerable rigour. For being out after dark without a lantern two citizens of Quebec were flogged. When a former inhabitant of the city arrived from Montreal and did not at once report his coming to the Governor, both he and the friend in whose house he was concealed were thrown into prison. A prominent citizen, accused of corresponding with the enemy, was arrested, confronted with two intercepted letters directed to him, and threatened that if he did not confess he should receive a hundred lashes and be drummed out of the town with a halter round his neck. The man protested his innocence so earnestly that punishment was postponed. Then it was found that he was the victim of a malicious trick. It had become known that he had taken the oath of fidelity to the sovereign of Great Britain and, in resentment at this desertion of the French cause, a former business partner had sent the letters from Montreal, knowing that they would fall into the hands of the British. In November a similar outburst of resentment overtook a Canadian who was bringing provisions from the Point of Levy to Quebec. Some French light horse seized and plundered him, beat him inhumanly, wounded him with their sabres, and then sent him over to Quebec with the message : 'Now go and tell your fine English Governor how we have treated you, and we hope soon to serve him, and his valiant troops, in the same manner.'
It was of the priests and especially of the Jesuits that the British were the most suspicious. We know, indeed, that the French army counted upon these allies for help against Quebec.Murray learned that some priests, taking advantage of the hardships endured by his soldiers, had incited them to discontent and desertion. He banished a priest whom he found in the act of giving what may well have been innocent instruction to some of his men laid up in hospital. A soldier who had been condemned to death for desertion Murray pardoned, when it became known that the man had been incited by a priest to commit the offence. At first Murray had left to the Jesuits, now few in number, a part of their fine building, taking the rest as a depot for provisions. Everywhere at that time Jesuits were under a cloud of suspicion, a state of opinion that led a few years later to the abolition of the order by the Pope. Rumours of intrigue by the Jesuits reached Murray. He welcomed this excuse, since he wished to use the remainder of their building, and on October 26 he gave them notice that they must leave Quebec as soon as possible. Shortly after this a barrel of gunpowder and a cask of 15,000 cartridges were found to have been 'artfully concealed' by a Jesuit's valet. He and his master were arrested and confined separately. When the valet admitted his guilt, the Jesuit pleaded that his servant was an idiot whose testimony should not be heeded. To this the retort was that it would have been an act of folly if the powder had been concealed a little earlier when the weather was so damp as to destroy it, but that the offender had waited until there had been a hard frost; and, in short, ' if the fellow is an idiot his abettors and accomplices are no fools.' Murray turned the Jesuits out of their building, in spite of murmurs from some of the inhabitants, who claimed that to dispossess the Jesuits of their property was to violate the conditions of surrender.
A few of the priests and Jesuits most suspected Murray kept in confinement. Naturally some of the suspicions proved unjust. Captain Knox was sent to arrest a suspected priest. He writes: 'I found him in his house, and arrested him in the name of his Britannic Majesty; the poor old man was greatly terrified, and entreated me earnestly to tell him his crime: but I made no other delay than to post a centinel, whom I had taken with me, in the apartment with this ancient father.' It turned out that the priest had been quite guiltless of what was suspected.
Among his own people Murray had difficult problems of government. The British private soldier of the time was, in any case, too often ignorant, degraded, and drunken. The recent desolation of the surrounding country had involved a kind of plundering warfare which had debauched the soldiers and, at first, great rigour was necessary to restore good habits. There was much theft, robbery, and desertion, the last offence being caused, no doubt, by the desire to escape from possible punishment for the other crimes. To check this the sentence of death was often passed. On October 28 a soldier was shot on the Grand Parade for desertion. A fortnight later a soldier of the 48th regiment was executed for robbing a Quebec citizen. At the same time an inhabitant, formerly a drummer in the French service, who was caught in the act of enticing some soldiers of the Royal American regiment to desert, was hanged. When, at another time, a court martial condemned two men to death for robbery, Murray decided that the death of one would suffice to teach the needed lesson and ordered lots to be cast as to which should die. We can picture the torrent of emotions linked with such a cast, but the man who made the fortunate throw showed outwardly no satisfaction, while, says Captain Knox, 'the other poor fellow was instantly executed, and behaved quite undaunted, though with great decency.' With similar vigour Murray checked the vice of drunkeness. He ordered that no liquor should be sold, so that the men might have only the allowance served out regularly. Then, any soldier found drunk was to receive twenty lashes a day until he should tell where he had secured the liquor and his allowance of rum was to be stopped for six weeks. Others than soldiers met with similar severity. More than once women were whipped through the streets for the offence of selling rum.
In the Orders of the day we get an excellent picture of the military discipline of the time, and it commands admiration for its efficiency. As so often in the subsequent history of the army, some of the younger officers were prone to a contented ignorance in regard to their duty. Men of this type Murray took sharply to task. He ruled with something like iron rigour. The sentences of a single court martial show how stern was the discipline enforced. 'One soldier was sentenced to receive a thousand lashes, for absenting his duty [sic], and using expressions tending to excite mutiny and desertion. A second, for being disguised, with an intention to desert, and being out of his quarters at an undue time of night,葉o receive three hundred. A third, for an intention to desert,熔ne thousand. And a fourth, for desertion, and endeavouring to inveigle others to desert, 葉o suffer death.'
In spite of occasional blackguardism the spirit of the men was excellent. For the most part they were cheerful and ready for hard service. They were always quick to volunteer for any difficult duty and in this respect were better than their officers; in November, when officers and men were invited to volunteer for a special scouting service, no officer came forward though the men were ready. Officers and men, alike, however, were prepared for any service to which they were ordered. The tasks before the defenders of Quebec were heavy. They had to repair a great number of houses within the walls, to build the line of block-houses as outer defences of the walls, to strengthen the walls themselves, to open embrasures, to drag cannon into position, to store away an inconceivable quantity of ammunition, to cut and put into magazines thousands of fascines, and to perform a hundred other exhausting labours. In their tasks the men took the cheery humorous view of life that has helped to carry the British arms through so many crises. 'Their daily allowance of rum', writes Captain Knox, 'contributes not a little to exhilarate them under their present harrowing circumstances.' For the hardships of even the lower animals they showed sympathy. The Canadians used dogs as beasts of burden to haul wood and water, and these beasts sometimes dragged great loads on the light sleighs to which they were harnessed. One day a band of soldiers, straining in the street at their own load of wood, met a peasant and two dogs dragging a similar burden. The men instantly hailed the dogs as fellow-workers, called them comrade and yoke-mate, and invited both the man and his animals to share their scanty meal. When Murray heard the story 'he expressed himself like a tender parent towards his brave soldiers for their immense yet unavoidable hardships ' and laughed at the humour with which they bore the stern exigencies of war.
The effect of this spirit was that every soldier tried to outdo his fellows in zeal. Murray had no money with which to pay them, for the Hunter sloop of war, sent from Halifax with ｣20,000 on board, had set out too late in the season to reach Quebec and had turned back. The result was that the pay of the troops remained in arrears from October 24, 1759. Murray declined to issue a paper currency and he forbade the circulation of the discredited French paper money with which the Canadians, to their sorrow, were so familiar. The officers of the fleet, before going away, had collected ｣4,000, which they lent to the army. When this supply was exhausted, Murray issued his own and Colonel Burton's notes at six months for ｣8,000 and asked the garrison to volunteer advances of cash on the security thus offered. The sum was promptly made up, the sober and frugal men of Fraser's Highlanders contributing no less than ｣2,000. Murray complains of the 'villainy' of the English traders who, unlike the soldiers, hoarded all the specie paid in to them.
In Quebec were three communities of women, the Ursuline Nuns, devoted chiefly to education, the Nuns of the General Hospital, whose special task was the care of the old and the indigent, and the Nuns of the Hotel Dieu, whose work was to nurse the sick. For these nuns, helpless women as they were, the conquerors showed every consideration. It was necessary to use their extensive houses as hospitals, and, in consequence, they themselves were huddled into rather narrow quarters. The Ursuline Nuns were obliged to give up two of the three floors of their fine building to wounded officers and soldiers. In the wing of the Holy Family, Murray held meetings of his council; even the chapel, as we have seen, was used twice a week for Protestant services. The nuns lived in the top flat and were carefully protected. The British repaired their building, which had suffered during the siege. A sentry stood night and day before the door of the convent; the nuns drew daily supplies from the commissariat department established in the neighbouring Jesuits' College; and convalescent soldiers cut wood, carried water, and cleared the paths of snow for them.
In return for this special protection the ladies were unsparing of courtesies to the British. They furnished delicacies for the wounded. Even in those troubled days they found leisure for fine needlework, and on St. Andrew's Day, in compliment to Murray's Scottish nationality, they presented to him and some other officers a set of crosses of St. Andrew curiously worked: 'In a corner of the field of each cross was wrought an emblematical heart expressive of that attachment and affection which every good man naturally bears to his native country.' For Scots of humbler rank the kind-hearted nuns were not less solicitous. The bare legs of the men in kilts aroused their special compassion in the severe weather, and they worked long woollen hose 'to cover the limbs of the poor strangers'. Murray marked the doors in the Ursuline Convent beyond which no soldier might pass. From their quarters in the top flat the nuns descended at regular intervals for prayers in the chapel, where, as a cloistered community, they were strictly guarded from intrusion. But one evening a sister descending to ring the angelus bell saw a soldier in the chapel. She cried out, the sentry came running in to seek the cause of the noise, and the man was seized. He protested that he had wished only to see the procession of nuns file past to their prayers, but he was haled before a court martial which pronounced a heavy sentence. Then the venerable mother-superior, now seventy-five years old, wrote a touching letter to Murray, asking pardon for the offender, and the general could not refuse the humane request.
Since Wolfe's victory the General Hospital at Quebec, lying outside the walls across the meadows near the bank of the St. Charles River, had been a centre of great interest for the victors. At its head was Madame Sainte-Claude, the sister of Ramezay, the last French defender of Quebec. Before the surrender of the fortress the convents in the town had found their position dangerous from the incessant bombardment and, in the end, their inmates had decided to take refuge in the General Hospital, which lay beyond the range of the British fire. Here they proved of great service in helping to nurse the sick. It was the mother-superior of the Hotel Dieu and her nuns who had first wended their way to this refuge. The next day the nuns of the Ursuline Convent, flying from the bombs and bullets which were piercing the walls of their house, had found safety across the meadows in the same haven. A good many refugees from the suburbs of Quebec sought there, too, a temporary abiding place, and the ladies of the Hospital had their hands full. On the memorable 13th of September the trembling nuns had looked out from the windows on dire slaughter; and soon the wounded were being brought to them until between twelve and fifteen hundred had been laid on the beds and floors of the large building. Late that night, when as many members of the three communities as could be spared were prostrate before the altar to implore the mercy of God amid these troubled scenes, their fears had been aroused anew by repeated and violent knocking at the outer doors. A British officer, said, probably incorrectly, to have been General Townshend himself, with a guard of two hundred men, had come to take possession. The officer reassured the nuns and they received every courtesy from the British. After the British occupation most of the Ursulines and the nuns of the Hotel Dieu returned to their convents in Quebec, where they showed great devotion in nursing the sick. The British had urged that the French army should furnish support to their own wounded in the Hospital, but this Vaudreuil protested the French were unable to do. When the limited resources of the nuns of the General Hospital became exhausted, Murray ordered the inhabitants of the surrounding villages to bring them supplies.
During the hard winter in Quebec the pity of the nuns of the General Hospital knew no distinctions of race. In going about their duties among officers and men they were, says Captain Knox, 'exceedingly humane and tender. . . . When our poor fellows were ill, and ordered to be removed from their own odious regimental hospitals to this general receptacle, they were indeed rendered inexpressibly happy; each patient had his bed with curtains allotted to him and
a nurse to attend him; sometimes she will take three, or more, under her care, according to the number of sick or wounded in the house. . . . Every Officer has an apartment to himself, and is attended by one of those religious sisters, who, in general, are young, handsome, and fair; courteous, rigidly reserved, and very respectful. . . . Their office of nursing the sick furnishes them with opportunities of taking great latitudes, if they are so disposed; but I never heard any of them charged with the least levity.' Thirty years earlier, in 1733, some Canadian nuns had been less demure and a French Minister of State, M. de Maurepas, had sent out a letter to rebuke them for their worldly conduct in going out into society and attending dinners and suppers. The Minister intended that the standard for Canada, if not for France, should be austere.
At the General Hospital were gathered a considerable number of French officers, most of them convalescent. Under the terms of the Cartel agreed to by the belligerents, they were not prisoners and they had their own table as in the days before the capitulation. The French commissary in Quebec, M. Bernier, did not think highly of these gentlemen. 'Their pretensions', he says, 'are so extravagant in all things that it is impossible to satisfy them.' Because he had been placed in charge of the arrangements affecting them they looked upon him as a valet at their beck and call. But he makes allowances; they are ill and idle and, he says sententiously, 'Idleness is a great vice and illness makes us fretful.' Captain Knox saw much of these officers. He spent a week in command of the small garrison which held the Hospital and, compared with the stable which constituted his quarters in Quebec, he found it an oasis in the desert. The General Hospital still exists, little changed from what it was when Knox thought it a 'very stately building', having 'two great wings, one fronting the north, and the other the south with a 'superb church' in the south wing and 'a very neat chapel ' in the other. 'I have lived here he says, 'at the French King's table, with an agreeable polite society. . . . Some of the gentlemen were married, and their ladies honoured us with their company; they were generally chearful, except when we discoursed upon the late revolution, and the affairs of the campaign; then they seemingly gave way to grief uttered by profound sighs, and followed by an "O, mon Dieu"' The men seemed less depressed. In fine weather Knox sometimes walked with them in the garden; at other times he played picquet. When the French officers discovered that he understood French better than he could speak it, they would, in defiance of manners, converse among themselves in Latin. We may believe that its range was limited and Knox knew that language better than his French companions. Their phrases usually wound up with a rapturous and theatrically spoken declamation from Virgil in regard to their own hardships:
Per mare, per terras, per tot discrimina rerum
Nos patriam fugimus, nos dulcia linquimus arva.
Knox racked his brains for an appropriate rebuke and at length hit upon a neat citation, also from Virgil, which summed up the British point of view :
0 Meliboee, Dens nobis haec otia fecit?
After this there was no more spouting of tragic phrases.
'We dined, every day,' he says, 'between eleven and twelve, and afterwards were respectively served with a cup of laced coffee [coffee with spirits added]; our dinners were generally indifferent but our suppers (what they called their grand repas, were plentiful and elegant. I was at a loss, the first day, as every person was obliged to use his own knife and wine, there being only a spoon and a four-pronged fork laid with each napkin and plate. . . . Each person here produces an ordinary clasped knife from his pocket, which serves him for every use; and, when they have dined or supped, they wipe and return it: the one I had, before I was provided with my own, was lent me by the Frenchman who stood at my chair, and it gave my meat a strong flavour of tobacco, which, though it might have supplied the want of garlic to the owner, or his countrymen, was so exceedingly disgustful to me, that I was obliged to change my plate, and it was with difficulty I could eat any more.'
Dining so early Knox did not trouble about breakfast, but, after he had been at the Hospital two or three days, a nun brought him a polite note from Madame Sainte-Claude inviting him to an English breakfast. He found her surrounded by nuns engaged in needlework. On a table in the middle of the room was a plentiful supply of tea, milk, and slices of bread an inch thick ' covered with a profusion of butter '. A beverage black as ink was offered to Knox, the hostess assuring him that, to suit the supposed English taste, half a pint of tea had been put in the pot and then well boiled with the water. To the good lady's obvious distress, Knox declared that he preferred milk; 'she had heard the English always preferred tea for breakfast.' Conversation did not flag and Knox says that he 'passed near two hours most agreeably, in the society of this ancient Lady and her virginal sisters '.
The ancient lady, who was of great stature, proved less innocent than she seemed. As the winter wore on Murray found that rumours of British defeats and of the conclusion of a peace favourable to France were emanating from the General Hospital. They were circulated in the hope of discouraging the British soldiers. Murray, though usually friendly to the nuns, is said by Knox to have sent an officer to reproach Madame Sainte-Claude for conduct unfitting one who had turned from the world, and to say that 'if she is tired of living out of the world, and will change her habit for that of a man, she being of a proper stature, his Excellency will inrol her as a grenadier and upon her good behaviour, will duly promote, and grant her every farther indulgence in his power.
Murray found that another community of nuns, those of the Hotel Dieu, also sent to the French army news of what was taking place in Quebec. At the intercession of the Duchess d'Aiguillon Pitt had written to ask for special care of these nuns. Murray, however, had at length to warn them that if they did not mend their ways their house would be converted into a barracks for troops and they themselves would be banished from Quebec. The nuns showed so strenuous a zeal for the conversion of the heretics to whom they ministered that the Bishop of Quebec, Mgr. Pontbriand, a saintly man, quietly told them that their own piety and modesty rather than their words were likely to touch the hearts of their patients. He told them, too, that they had a duty to the conqueror, since ' according to the teaching of St. Paul they owed obedience to the King of England, for the time the ruler of Quebec.
Until the late autumn, the serene atmosphere and the bright sky at Quebec were very agreeable, but 'hoary winter' soon appeared, as Knox says, 'with hasty strides.' The cold was to prove the great enemy. The rigours of a Canadian winter are not really difficult to combat, but the British in Quebec were wholly without experience in fighting them. This winter of 1759-60 appears to have been unusually severe; by February, even spirits stored in cellars were found frozen. Adequate clothing had not been provided for the soldiers, and the Highlanders in particular, with their bare legs, suffered severely until, with the assistance of the good nuns and by other strenuous efforts, most, if not all, of them had been furnished with trousers or with long knit hose. Sentries at their posts were often severely frost-bitten. In the Orders the men were warned when this happened to avoid going near a fire and to rub the frost-bitten part with snow. Sentries on duty in the open air were sometimes quickly deprived by the cold of the power of speech. The guard was changed in severe weather every half-hour or even oftener. Men who underwent the prolonged exposure of winter expeditions suffered terribly; much farther south than Quebec, at Crown Point, during this winter a British surgeon amputated in a single day no less than one hundred toes, frozen in a march from Ticonderoga.
For protection from the cold the men at Quebec cut up blankets to make socks and gloves. In order to replenish the supply, Murray seized blankets from the Canadians, with the promise to pay for them on the arrival of the ships in the spring. The soldiers wore anything they could get which promised warmth, even the French uniforms found in the stores at Quebec. Mocassins proved warmer than boots and were less likely to cause slipping. Accordingly the soldiers appeared on parade in mocassins. 'Our guards, on the Grande Parade,' says Knox, 'made a most grotesque appearance in their different dresses; and our inventions to guard us against the extreme rigour of this climate are various beyond imagination: the uniformity, as well as the nicety, of the clean methodical soldier, is buried in the rough fur-wrought garb of the frozen Laplander; and we rather resemble a masquerade than a body of regular troops; insomuch that I have frequently been accosted by my acquaintances, who, though familiar their voices were to me, I could not discover or conceive who they were; besides, every man seems to be in a continual hurry; for, instead of walking soberly through the streets, we are obliged to observe a running or trotting pace.' When the weather was cold no one stirred out unless absolutely obliged to do so. Persons going out covered everything but the eyes. The appreciation of the attractions of a Canadian winter, now so general, is apparently the result of education.
Sometimes the snow was so deep that it blocked the streets. It lodged in such a mass under the walls of Quebec that assailants could almost have walked into the town over the snow banks. To avert this danger, after each snowfall the British soldiers dug the snow away from the wall and piled it so as to form a second outer defence. A line of barrels filled with snow frozen into solid ice helped to make a glacis of this outer defence and a kind of ditch separated it from the stone wall. Even when snow did not block the streets of Quebec there was another difficulty, for ice often made them extremely slippery. Mountain Street, the descent of the steep cliff separating the Upper from the Lower Town, became a sheet of ice, and soldiers found it safer to sit down and slide to the bottom than to try to walk. ' Creepers ' to make the footing secure were in great demand, as also, when snow had fallen, were snow-shoes. Taught by some of the Rangers from New England, the light infantry practised walking on snow-shoes and, though the practice was at first fatiguing, it was not difficult to learn. So useful did the snow-shoes prove that Murray required the people of the surrounding country and of Quebec to hand over the snow-shoes which they possessed. In mid-winter, soldiers mounting guard were ordered always to bring snow-shoes with them in order that, if necessary, they might be able to pursue the enemy over the snow.
The St. Lawrence, when first frozen over, was, for a time, without a covering of snow and furnished a great expanse of smooth ice. OiJPday a Stench prisoner saw his opportunity. Going with a soldier to bring a bucket of water from the river, he slipped off his shoes and ran away in his stockings on the ice. The soldier, armed with a bayonet only, and wearing boots without ' creepers cut a ridiculous figure as he slipped on the ice in his vain efforts to pursue the fugitive. The British, always athletic, could not resist the temptation to skate on this sea of glass which lay before Quebec, and a French officer, writing in February, notes grimly that this practice gave the hostile Indians great pleasure and that they had already captured six of the defenders of Quebec.
The visitors had been in Quebec only a few days when they saw that one of their chief problems would be to secure fire-wood. The supply from ruined houses and old fences was soon exhausted. Not less than twenty thousand cords of wood were needed and only about a thousand cords were on hand. At first, on chill nights, the soldiers upon guard had been permitted to have fires in the open air, but this was soon forbidden, in order to save wood. A few days after the surrender two frigates were sent about four miles up the river to procure some wood which the Canadians had piled on the heights. A body of Rangers kept off assailants while the wood was thrown over the precipice and secured by the sailors. By order of Levis the French burned all the firewood which they could find on the south bank of the river as far as the Point of Levy, so that it might not fall into Murray's hands. The British were soon repenting bitterly that, in the course of their siege of Quebec, they had destroyed quantities of wood. Murray ordered the Canadians to bring in wood, and offered them five shillings for each cord. But they supplied it only slowly and reluctantly. As the winter advanced, he was obliged to seize what sleighs he could and to require the service from his own men, paying them, however, the price he had offered to the Canadians.
This cutting of wood proved the most severe task of the army. For a time fuel was brought by water from Isle Madame and the Island of Orleans, but, on account both of the distance and of the difficulty in winter of navigating the river, filled with floes of ice, Murray was obliged to look for his chief supply to the forests at Ste Foy, five miles away. From two hundred and fifty to three hundred men were kept busy at this work. It was especially trying because of the inexperience of the men in handling the axe. They also suffered terribly from frost-bites. Since almost no horses were available in Quebec the soldiers had to do the work of horses. In teams of eight, yoked in couples like beasts of burden, and with a ninth man to guide the sleigh, they dragged wood four or five miles to the town, through snow so deep, at times, that it was necessary to mark the road by beacons. The service was dangerous as well as difficult; Indians were lurking in the neighbourhood to cut off stragglers, and to be captured meant death by scalping and also barbarous mutilation. The sleighing parties were obliged to carry arms and ammunition, and by practice the men were able so to carry their weapons that they could get at them easily even while drawing the sleighs. It was this service more than anything else which wore down the strength of the troops in the course of the winter.
Unsalted food was always a pressing need. There was an abundance of fish in the river, and the soldiers learned from the Canadians how to take fish through holes in the ice. The garrison was ready either to buy outright from the Canadians fresh meat and vegetables or to give in exchange for them wine, biscuits, and salted provisions, while these things lasted. Extravagant prices were sometimes asked by the Canadians. At length, on the request of the British and French traders in Quebec, a maximum price for| bread and meat was fixed by Colonel Young, whom Murray had appointed to act as a magistrate in civil affairs, with the aid of some of the principal inhabitants. All butchers must have licences and they were not to charge more than 6d. a pound for mutton and 5d. for beef. When the men grumbled about the food, Murray ordered that any one complaining of his allowance should be brought to trial for sedition. Though the exchange of provisions with the Canadians had been brisk for a time, the supplies, on both sides, were soon exhausted and there remained little to exchange. Murray levied a contribution of three hundred cattle on the inhabitants of the subdued country, but this resource was not adequate. Even salted provisions became in time scarce. It had been supposed that supplies for a year had been left at Quebec by the fleet, but, towards the spring, the garrison found itself face to face with famine. The unfortunate Canadians remaining in Quebec were then, of course, even worse off than the soldiers. Murray at last ordered that in each week the provisions for one day allotted to the officers and men should be handed over to the inhabitants. The soldiers accepted this plan without a murmur, though they themselves were being reduced to mere skeletons from lack of food.
Disease aided famine in Quebec. Almost from the first the health of the troops suffered. Since there was a suspicion that this might be due to the poisoning of the wells with dead dogs and cats, the men were ordered to drink only the water from the river. But the real tragedy was caused by a deadly outbreak of scurvy, which was believed to follow upon an exclusive diet of salted meat and upon the absence of vegetables.' Our brave soldiers are growing sickly,' wrote Knox as early as November ; ' their disorders are chiefly scorbutic, with fevers and dysenteries.' Every available remedy was tried. In the barrack-rooms regulations were posted for the preserving of health against scurvy. The men were ordered to boil their pork in fresh water, and in no case to eat uncooked meat. Murray had found a good supply of wine in the French stores, and, since it was deemed a cure for scurvy, he encouraged the men to buy it out of their scanty resources. Ginger and vinegar, tar-water, and other remedies were tried. Perhaps the best one was a liquor made from the spruce tree, and Murray gave orders that every day the men should drink some of this mixed with their allowance of rum.
Yet hundreds died. Daily, as the winter wore on, there were not less than two or three funerals, and sometimes there were half a dozen. 'The men grow more unhealthy as the winter advances, and scarce a day passes without two or three funerals,' wrote Knox in January. In February he repeats: 'Our soldiers grow more sickly, and many of them are daily carried off by the inveteracy of their disorders'; and in March: 'our forces are now reduced to three thousand fit for duty; our sick, lame, and convalescents amount to nineteen hundred.' In April the troops were stricken with the disease at the rate of two hundred a week, and most of the men had become little more than skeletons, hobbling about with the aid of crutches. Before the end of April two thousand men were unfit for any service and about a thousand had died. The ground was so hard frozen that final burial was impossible, and the bodies of many hundreds of British soldiers were laid away in the snow, to be preserved by the intense cold until spring should permit their committal to mother earth. There were in Quebec five hundred and sixty-seven women camp-followers, the invariable and usually disreputable accompaniment of the armies of the time. While disease was carrying off its sadly numerous victims, these women remained perfectly healthy, and they rendered useful service in nursing the sick soldiers and in washing and mending. The Canadian inhabitants were not as fortunate as the women; though they suffered less than the soldiers, about a hundred and twenty died during the winter. No doubt the Canadians were the more liable to disease because they were underfed. What money they had was the paper money issued in Canada by the French, and this the English traders in Quebec would not accept.
Behind everything was the great military problem of defending the fortress. Gossip was always busy as to the designs and the successes of the enemy. Towards the end of November it was rumoured in Quebec that a ship from France had passed up unobserved, in the night, and had brought news that the French had destroyed Halifax, had retaken Louisbourg, and had put two-thirds of the garrisons to the sword. It was added that a fleet carrying troops would arrive in the early spring from France to perform similar feats at Quebec. Later came a rumour that the French had destroyed the greatest fleet which had ever sailed from the shores of England; that they had conquered Ireland, and had massacred troops and natives alike when found in arms ; and that they would soon make a triumphant peace and re-occupy Quebec. Usually, the day of vengeance was not postponed so indefinitely. At first rumour said that Levis was resolved to spend Christmas in Quebec ; he would set its roofs on fire by a shower of hot arrows and, in the confusion, carry the place by storm. It was this threatened assault before Christmas which led Murray, always nervous about the strength of his walls, to build the block-houses on the side towards the Plains of Abraham and to drill his men in the use of snow-shoes, apparently with the intention of fighting on the snow outside the walls. Christmas passed, and then it was in February that dire things were to happen. At one time the French general, in sporting humour, wrote to propose a wager with Murray that help from France would arrive before the British could receive aid from England. Murray's answer was spirited and prophetic; 'I have not the least inclination to win your money, for, I am very certain, I shall have the honour to embark your Excellency and the remains of your half-starved army, for Europe, in British bottoms, before the expiration of the ensuing summer.' The fulfilment of this prophecy was to become a grim reality for the French.
Other rumours pointed to a British success. With some truth the French army was reported by deserters to be half starved. It was said that the Canadians had grown anxious for final surrender to the British. The Indian allies of the French were also reported to be discontented and arrogant; to have threatened to stone Vaudreuil to death for his incompetence; and to have refused to fight unless given permission to scalp the dead and wounded on the field. There was a report of a great British success near Chambly, and of the cutting to pieces at that point of the French Regiment de la Reine. Some one had seen great fires near Montreal and had taken it as evidence of a British camp in that neighbourhood. On one occasion a French deserter who had spread such rumours was brought before Murray. A French officer, a prisoner on parole, was present. The deserter declared that the French army was in such distress and disorganization that it had become a mere rabble. Murray handed the man a silver dollar. In Canada, discredited paper money had long been almost the only currency. The man looked at the dollar: 'This is no French money!' he said, and then added : 'A few of these properly applied would induce even the Officers, as well as soldiers, of the miserable French army to follow my example.' At this the French officer flew into a rage so violent that Murray threatened him with imprisonment.
When Murray's soldiers were discouraged by rumours of reverses in the outside world he resorted to a stratagem to counteract these reports. On April 3, after long waiting for news, he sent a sergeant and four rangers across the river with instructions to come in on the British outpost at the Point of Levy as if they were an express from General Amherst. Of course, only good news could come by such means, and, without saying anything definite, Murray was able greatly to encourage the garrison. He adds that the device visibly affected the French inhabitants who, however, were well able to keep their own counsel. Captain Knox says that they showed no concern or discomposure at unacceptable news, but only the more sedulously whispered reports of French victories.