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The Scot in New France (1535-1880)


wretched fortification. Nothing appears to be more contrary to sound rules of war, than that a Commander of garrison should risk a battle to prevent his being shut up and besieged. Considering, too, that his troops were sickly and the army of M. de Levis well-conditioned and of triple numbers, it certainly was the rashest resolve that an officer, charged with the command of a most important fortress, could have entertained."

After reading the above, I am doubtful if many soldiers, at least at the present day, would answer without hesitation "To be sure," to General Murray’s question. The critical moment of attack was probably made use of, as Murray, perceiving the Chevalier advancing in single column, proceeded to attack him before he could properly form. The disaster of the day may also be attributed to the action of the right. The ardor of the troops carried them further in pursuit than prudence should have dictated, and tho’ they succeeded in the commencement, they met with a severe check. The force taking possession of the redoubts defended them with great determination, but were eventually outnumbered and forced to retire. The left also gave way, and Murray, driven back on both flanks, had no alternative but to seek shelter within the walls of his fortress. On the whole he seems to have fought his battle bravely, but the vital mistake lay in fighting at all.

The same night, M. de Levis commenced his trenches before Quebec, but Murray, by extraordinary exertions, succeeded in mounting a number of guns, and when the French batteries opened on the 11th of May, they were silenced by the fire of the town. On the 15th, the English fleet, which had wintered at Halifax, arrived at Point Levis, and having captured the French vessels lying in the river, M. de Levis, in disgust, raised the siege, and retreated again on Montreal, abandoning his military train and siege artillery. It was now the turn of the English to take the offensive. General Amherst advanced from Oswego with 10,000 men, and reached Montreal on the 6th of September; Murray was already in the vicinity, and the next day Colonel Haviland arrived from Isle-aux-Noix. The Marquis de Vaudreuil, despairing therefore of his ability to stand a siege, demanded a capitulation, which was granted, and this ending the war, Canada became a British Province.

Read in connection with the accounts of the campaign, I think that these two letters of General Murray add something to the history of the stirring times in which they were written; and I trust they may prove acceptable to the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, who, I know, are anxious to record and preserve all the waifs and strays of literature, pertaining to the history of their ancient town.

General Murray seems to have been a brave and skilful soldier, and tho’ he committed an error of judgment in fighting at Sillery, his services, during the campaign, were not only praiseworthy, but even brilliant. His military talent and fertility in resource eminently qualified him for the command of a fortress in a state of siege; and his defence of Fort St. Philip, in Minorca, which he held six months against the French and Spaniards, entitle him to a distinguished place amongst the Generals of his day. His personal character for honor stands no less high ; for when, in 1781, the Duke de Crillon,


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