The battle
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Plains of Abraham
The battle
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The battle
The battle
Gathered on the Plains of Abraham and confronted with sniper fire from the Indians and Canadian militia, the British artillery began firing around 8:00 a.m., September 13, 1759. The purpose was to unnerve the enemy army.

"...we had two pieces of short brass six pounders playing on the enemy," wrote the Irish-born Lieutenant John Knox, "which threw them into some confusion, and obliged them to alter their disposition...
Four hundred Canadian militia and native snipers fired on the British troops while Montcalm's forces mobilized on the Plains of Abraham. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
Four hundred Canadian militia and native snipers fired on the British troops while Montcalm's forces mobilized on the Plains of Abraham. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
about nine the two armies moved a little closer together."

The French General, the Marquis de Montcalm was employing a textbook manoeuvre: advancing with a massive centre column to crush the British and two shallow side columns to finish them off. He rode the length of the formation, shouting the question, "Are you tired?" The game, untruthful response was a resounding no. The French artillery commander, Fiacre-François de Montbeillard, received his instructions from his general.

"I spoke for a moment with M. le Marquis de Montcalm who told me: "We will not be able to avoid the battle... If we give them enough time to establish themselves, we will never be able to attack with the kind of army we have." At around 10:00 the French shouted "Vive le Roy!" and the battle formally began with Montcalm ordering a general advance.

"The enemy began to advance in three columns," Knox wrote, "with loud shouts – two of them inclined to the left of our army, and the third to our right, firing obliquely at the two extremities of our line."

But the French formation that started down the hill was unco-ordinated.
At 10 a.m on September 13, 1759, Montcalm ordered the French to advance against the British troops. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham had begun. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
At 10 a.m on September 13, 1759, Montcalm ordered the French to advance against the British troops. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham had begun. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
The troops, made up of Canadians and French soldiers who had not trained together, were moving in disorder. The left was too far in the rear and the centre too far in front. Major Malartic, an officer in the French regular army, observed the problem: "The Canadians who formed the second rank and the soldiers of the third fired without orders and, according to custom, then threw themselves on the ground to reload.
As the French line began to collapse under British fire, the Highlanders charged with their broadswords. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
As the French line began to collapse under British fire, the Highlanders charged with their broadswords. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
This false movement broke all the battalions." They had fired too soon and their volleys were ineffectual and disruptive.

The French resumed the advance, their lines more confused and disordered with every step. Forty yards from the British, the ragged French line stopped again and formed for a second volley. This time, they were able to see the faces of the men in the British line. Redcoats slumped as the crude balls ploughed through flesh and shattered bone.

As the French reloaded, the British took their position. Before he gave the order to fire, General James Wolfe was spotted in his new uniform by a sniper and shot through the wrist.
The wound was dressed with a borrowed handkerchief and at 10:15 Wolfe raised his cane, giving the order to fire – the last military order of his life.

The British volley fired across a line a mile wide, with the power of double-loaded muskets. The French troops were paralyzed with confusion and terror. Whole sections of the line collapsed as the massive volley ripped through them. Then the Highland yell was taken up, the piper played Lovat's March and the Fraser Highlanders charged with their broadswords, hacking through the retreating French army. A full British bayonet advance followed in their awful wake.

Wolfe was shot in the groin and had to be helped forward. A third shot, into his chest, was fatal and he slumped to the ground, happily receiving the whispered news that the enemy was in retreat.
The battle on the Plains of Abraham lasted just more than fifteen minutes.

On the other side of the line, engulfed in a stream of retreating men, Montcalm received a mortal wound below his ribs. He fell just as he was about to enter the Saint-Louis gate and was then carried by his men to the General Hospital.

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Louis-Joseph de Montcalm

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