Preparing for Battle
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Louis-Joseph the Marquis de Montcalm
Preparing for Battle
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Preparing for Battle
Preparing for Battle
For Louis-Joseph, the Marquis de Montcalm and his army of 15,000 encamped around Quebec, the winter of 1758 was a time of worrying and waiting for an answer from Versailles.
Louis-Joseph, the Marquis de Montcalm was a career soldier from a distinguished French family. (As portrayed by Guy Nadon in Canada: A People's History)
Louis-Joseph, the Marquis de Montcalm was a career soldier from a distinguished French family. (As portrayed by Guy Nadon in Canada: A People's History)
The disappointing response to the request for more troops didn't come until May when the ice cleared out of the St. Lawrence. Montcalm's emissary Louis-Antoine de Bougainville returned from France just before the June arrival of General James Wolfe and his British fleet. To a bleak and hungry Quebec he brought fresh provisions but a mere 400 troops.

Worse, many of the new troops were sick or dying from fever. The Quebec hospital couldn't hold all the ailing soldiers and some were sent to the General Hospital outside the walls. Ten nuns died after contracting the fever. Instead of getting reinforcements, Montcalm got a medical crisis that strained the city's thin resources.

He also got desolate news from home; one of his daughters had died, though he would never find out which one.
In his last letter to his wife, he wrote, "I would renounce every honour to join you again; but the King must be obeyed. The moment when I see you once more will be the brightest of my life. Adieu, my heart! I believe that I love you more than ever."

Wolfe, too, was forlorn. Against his mother's strenuous protest, he had become engaged to a woman named Katherine Lowther just before he sailed to Canada. They had spent only a few weeks together. On parting, she gave him a locket containing her image that he wore around his neck, and a copy of Thomas Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard. He read regularly from it. "The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, All that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Awaits alike the inevitable hour, The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

It was a passage perfectly suited to Wolfe's ongoing premonition that he would die young.
Montcalm hoped to survive, but he had been predicting military defeat for the French in Canada for months, writing to the Minister of War that it was inevitable. As they approached one of the great battles in history, neither general was fuelled by optimism.

But with the imminent approach of the British, Montcalm had no more time for private thoughts. Canadians from every parish in the colony converged on the city – fathers and sons, old men and boys as young as 12. One hundred and six extra cannon reinforced the city's walls.
To the east, where Montcalm saw a likely enemy landing, he had his men dig a vast network of trenches and redoubts, stretching for ten miles.

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Louis-Joseph de Montcalm

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