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Quebec 1759

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A view of the taking of Quebec, 13 September 1759.

Le Marquis de Montcalm and the Battle for Québec, September 1759: a Re-assessment

by Major Michael Boire

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In Memoriam

MONTCALM – à la mémoire de Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, marquis de Montcalm de Saint-Servan [sic], héros mort à Québec le 14 septembre, 1759, des blessures qu’il avait subies lors de la défense héroïque de la Nouvelle France. Vive le Québec!1


Much has been written of the generalship of le Marquis de Montcalm since his death at the culmination of the defence of Québec in September 1759. His role as commander of French regular troops in the North American theatre for the greater part of the Seven Years War has often been examined through various distorted prisms. The recurring insistence, by many of his critics, on his responsibility for souring relations with his superior, Vaudreuil, is perhaps the most notable of these. That this failed relationship had both professional and personal facets is well supported by the evidence, as are its disastrous effects on the conduct of operations in defence of New France. There are positive elements of interpretation in the historiography of this great figure as well. L’Abbé Casgrain, a prolific and supportive chronicler of the defenders of the colony, has offered even-handed criticism in justification of le Marquis’s actions in defence of the colony.2 In many ways, differing views of Montcalm’s role at the end of New France are representative of the clash between metropolitan and colonial visions of the effective conduct of warfare in the forests of North America.3

This article will explore selected aspects of Montcalm’s performance as the defender of Québec in 1759. The intention here is to provide an analysis of the determinants in his decision-making, measured against the criteria of warfare as conducted in the 18th Century. Though at first glance this appears a common sense approach, it is disappointing to read how few otherwise prominent historians have bothered to consider the military context when assessing le Marquis’s options. Selected evidence contained in primary sources will be re-examined with a view to describing aspects of Montcalm’s situation that have either escaped attention in past renditions of his life or have not received the weight of comment they deserve. To be blunt, such an important historical figure deserves more balanced treatment than he has received at the hands of some observers.

Louis-Joseph de Montcalm

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Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm.


In describing the evolution of French Canada’s historiography, Ramsay Cook concludes that “(n)o question has more consistently occupied the attention of French-Canadian historians, intellectuals, politicians, social scientists, priests, novelists and newspapermen than the meaning of 1759... Each generation of French Canadians appears to fight, intellectually, the Battle of the Plains of Abraham again.”4 Not surprisingly, the controversy surrounding Montcalm’s role in the fall of New France has been well reflected in the historiography of the colony. Eccles and Frégault, prominent representatives of both linguistic divisions in the historiography of New France, occupy the negative end of the continuum. Because their presence is overpowering, let us address the most vehement criticism first.

In his most recent re-assessment of the campaign W.J. Eccles, the dean of English Canadian historians of New France, makes evident his admiration for the military quality of early Québec’s character and potential. “If it were possible to have an accurate accounting... it would likely be found that the military establishment ran the fur trade a close second as the economic mainstay of the colony... (t)he whole fabric of Canadian society was imbued with the military ethos... (and) by 1753 the officer corps in Canada had become a caste.”5 When the king appointed Vaudreuil to be Governor-General at the beginning of the Seven Years War, he became the spiritual head of this new military class. In many ways, he was an excellent choice. Born and bred in the colony, and having served as an officer there for most of his life, his experience and commitment created credibility. His strategic direction carried great weight among the officers of the colonial regulars, as well as the militiamen of New France’s military districts. Vaudreuil’s military instincts were well attuned to the strategic situation, and there was a reservoir of untapped warrior expertise in the ranks of the militia and colonial regulars. Eccles’s argument is that Montcalm’s poor relations with Vaudreuil, and his public criticisms of the militia’s competence, were indicators of his weaknesses as a commander. Moreover, Eccles expresses regret that le Marquis did not see the value of defending New France more vigorously, for it had become a brilliant strategic investment, despite its economic liability.6

What seems to be missed here is the reality of colonial warfare at the end of the Seven Years War in North America. The colony’s potential to wage la petite guerre was, indeed, an asset at the beginning of hostilities. As professional European forces were introduced into the campaign, the requirement for achieving decision in the field became the sine qua non for success. The capacity of militiamen, and of the colonial regulars, to stand, to fight, and to absorb the inevitable casualties was not present, for clear cultural reasons. They had not been raised in this classic European tradition. To hope that this ability might appear so that these irregular warriors might have been integrated into the French campaign plan was illusory. In his appraisal of the 1759 campaign, Eccles seems unwilling to place himself ‘in Montcalm’s shoes.’ His criticisms of Montcalm’s motivations are trenchant. We are told: “All through the war he had been a defeatist.”7 However, when reading Montcalm’s journals and letters, one searches in vain for proof of such consistent campaign-long defeatism. That there were moments of spiritual darkness is clear; that they became characteristic is an assertion unsupported by Montcalm’s own words.8

Beyond being a defeatist, Montcalm is painted as a man of inaction who does not seize the opportunities presented by Wolfe’s poor health, and the sorry condition of his long-suffering army as the summer of 1759 progressed. Eccles feels that because nearly half the invading force was hors de combat, due to sickness and wounds, Montcalm could have attacked at better-than-even odds, for the added weight of the Indian allies would have ensured battlefield advantage, if not superiority. Furthermore, Wolfe’s retreat from direct offensive operations against the Beauport defences, as well as the ‘fire and sword campaign’ waged against the settlements downriver from Québec, should have been seen as indicators of his potential weakness. In Eccles’s mind, it was a time for Montcalm to exploit British weakness, presumably through counter-attack with troupes de terre, or through harassment with militiamen and Amerindians.

James Wolfe


James Wolfe by Brigadier Townshend, 1759.

This argumentation presents a lopsided view of these supposed opportunities. In a war already in its fifth campaign season, the possibility of a French defeat loomed ever larger during 1759. Montcalm was sensitive to this reality. The Versailles court’s strategic focus remained fixedly continental rather than colonial, or even balanced, for that matter. Britain’s military investment in operations in North America had become preponderant. Montcalm could not afford to squander what limited professional units he had left by the summer of 1759, engaged in forays that could not guarantee decisive results. The risks to his diminished forces were just too great. More to the point, his orders from Versailles were extremely precise. His mission was to retain a foothold in New France, with a view to creating a future advantage during the diplomatic negotiations that would inevitably end the conflict. Given that he was not called upon to gain as much as he could by decisively defeating the British, but, rather, to lose as little as possible to them, why would Montcalm have wished to deplete the core of his fighting power by adventuring outside his defensive works? Besides, what good could come from forays against an enemy whose departure was guaranteed by the approach of winter and concomitant closure of the St. Lawrence River?

A final criticism demonstrates the bias Eccles brings to his assessment of Montcalm’s reactions to Wolfe’s presence on the Plains of Abraham on the morning of 13 September 1759. “All that Montcalm had to do was avoid a major engagement for a few days, then Wolfe would have been forced to attempt to withdraw his army down the steep cliff to the narrow beach to be taken off by ships’ boats. Given the forces at Montcalm’s disposal, withdrawal could have been a costly operation.”9 This line of reasoning ignores the realities. When the English appeared below the walls of Québec astride the colony’s main supply route, Montcalm had little time to ponder their intentions. Though much has been said of his impulsive nature, he did not have the luxury of time in assessing his next move. Montcalm appears to have concluded that the English force was digging in, the first stage of a classical siege operation, and a credible course of action. He could ill afford to let the English develop the situation, thus creating a tactical advantage for them. More critically, le Marquis could not have known whether this was the main effort or a diversion, to be followed by the main English effort onto the Beauport defences. Hence, the requirement to attack the redcoats in front of him quickly, to gain decision, and restore defensive balance to what was becoming a vulnerable and extended French deployment.

In addition, Montcalm did not have a fortress behind him capable of withstanding British siege operations. The defences on the landward side of Québec were largely wooden, although well laced with cannon. A critical factor, which has escaped virtually all commentators, was the advantage offered to an attacker by les Buttes à Neveu. This was a series of hillocks situated 200 metres west of Québec’s fortifications. Had the British been allowed to occupy this position, they would have completely dominated the town’s defences located downhill from les Buttes. It is reasonable to assume that Montcalm was aware of this ‘chink in Québec’s armour’. A rapid pre-emptive attack, conducted while the English were consolidating their lodgement after their unopposed landing, offered a less risky course of action than waiting for Bougainville to close the trap behind the British. Unfortunately for Montcalm, his hasty attack found the redcoats ready to repel the advancing French at favourable odds. This was another unintended result of the friction of warfare.

Frégault takes up much of Eccles’s critiques in his own work, although with greater balance. For Frégault, the Vaudreuil-Montcalm quarrel over the best defensive strategy for New France in 1759 was a clash of principles, based upon visions of the colonyfuture. To the question: What should be defended? Vaudreuil’s answer was couched in terms essentially economic. The colony’s resources base extended far to the west, beyond Niagara, and well to the south, reaching Louisiana through the Ohio and Mississippi River basins. To give up these territories without a fight would be to nullify the colony’s economic value to the king of France.

Consequently, as 1758 became 1759, Vaudreuil’s strategy called for a wide deployment of Montcalm’s metropolitan regulars, reinforced by the militia, colonial regulars, and Amerindian allies.10 The main effort was to be in the Richelieu-Albany corridor, which Vaudreuil saw as the most likely English line of advance toward Québec. French forces stationed in this central area could engage the advancing British, inflict delay from the fortifications at Carillon and Fort Frédéric, and gain a favourable decision in that fortified belt or further up the Richelieu toward Montreal, should the British progress that far north. By that time, it was assumed that the English advance would ‘run out of steam’. Initially, at least, Vaudreuil discounted the rumours that the English were to launch an expedition from Louisbourg up the St. Lawrence estuary to Québec. Nonetheless, he maintained, should this become the case, the same forces delaying northward in the Richelieu Valley could disengage and move down the estuary to face this new threat.11

Montcalm on his death bed surrounded by mourners


The Death of Montcalm.

Vaudreuil’s strategic vision operated on several naive assumptions, which would have been especially difficult to realize on the ground. In the event of a British move up the St. Lawrence, shifting the main French effort from the Richelieu Corridor to Québec would not have been a trouble-free operation. Once engaged in the centre, Montcalm’s regulars would not necessarily have had the freedom of manoeuvre to simply break off contact and swing northwards. Being fixed in place by the firepower of a superior British force was a real possibility. Because there were fewer than 4000 regulars in condition to fight, and 1500 of these had been deployed westward at the beginning of 1759, what could be deployed southward into the central corridor was not an impressive amount of fighting power. Even accepting that breaking off action with advancing British forces could have been possible by harassing their rear areas with militia and Indians, French losses would have been potentially considerable. An already weakening position would have been made even more tenuous.

Although the question of what to defend became the object of much correspondence between Vaudreuil, Montcalm and the Royal Court, the Governor-General’s ‘defend everywhere’ strategy was overtaken by events when Bougainville returned from the Versailles court in the spring of 1759 with new royal direction, as well as a promotion for his superior. Because royal perceptions of French imperial interests in the New World had evolved under pressure from European events, the orders Montcalm received from his king were now unambiguously metropolitan. He was to safeguard an important foothold in New France that would become a bargaining chip when diplomacy replaced fighting at war’s end. Montcalm’s, rather than Vaudreuil’s, strategic vision would prevail. With dwindling French military resources facing a resolute British enemy that was becoming stronger as the year wore on, Montcalm was to remain strictly on the defensive, operating on close interior lines. His centre of gravity was to be the fortress, and the portion of the estuary it controlled at Québec. That Frégault should conclude both the Vaudreuil and Montcalm strategies were somehow of equal value, in relation to the situation in which New France found itself in 1759, is to not comprehend the strategic implications of each view, nor the appearance of a new royal policy.12

At the other end of the continuum, there are observers who give Montcalm much credit as a commander. Gustave Lanctot, an unabashed admirer, captured the essence of Montcalm’s strategic problem in 1759 when Bougainville brought back news from Versailles that the threatened colony was well and truly on its own. Although there had been a reinforcement of metropolitan troops, and partial replenishment of rations for the army, ‘the writing was on the wall.’ “Après étude de multiples mémoires sur la défense du Canada, Versailles se range à une décision qui résume pratiquement dans un abandon du pays à ses propres forces et à l’habilité de Montcalm.”13 Versailles seems to have wanted it both ways: although Québec was not to be sacrificed, it was not to be significantly reinforced, either. Although the Governor-General reacted properly in deferring to Montcalm as the colony’s military supreme, after receiving royal direction to do so in the spring of 1759, Vaudreuil could not avoid the temptation to cast responsibility for the loss of Québec on Montcalm’s dead shoulders. In this respect, Lanctot does le Marquis’s reputation a service by placing Vaudreuil’s hypocrisy in perspective. In addition, Lanctot glosses over le Marquis’s decision to advance in column against the British when it came time to seek a decisive engagement on the Plains of Abraham. Although advancing in line might have allowed the French regulars quicker fire production when they finally closed to within just a few yards of the British, Montcalm opted for the faster column formation. This was a reasonable decision, considering the spray of murderous grapeshot blasting out of the British flank. Unfortunately, the decision to organize columns had consequences. The second and third ranks in each French column were a mixed assortment of militia and colonial regulars. When these soldiers fired prematurely, then threw themselves to the ground to reload à la petite guerre, the columns lost configuration and momentum. “Les Français ripostent par un feu spasmodique auquel répondent les ennemis par une fusillade méthodique, de front et de flanc.”14 This increased the destructive effect of the British volleys when they came.

In many ways, Parkman remains the most enlightened observer of Montcalm’s command. The historian understood the military context that produced a sense of balance and detachment when assessing his faults. Although Parkman admits that Wolfe surprised Montcalm by appearing where least expected, on the Plains of Abraham, le Marquis was, nonetheless, quick to act resolutely, rushing to battle “with a fixed look, not uttering a word... that his impetuosity overcame his better judgment was evident yet... of this charge it is hard to acquit him.”15 Parkman’s appreciation of Montcalm’s dire situation still rings true. There was no question that Montcalm had the time to mount a coordinated manoeuvre with Bougainville, since “...he felt that there was no time to lose, for he imagined that Wolfe would soon be reinforced, which was impossible, and he believed that the English were fortifying themselves, which was no less an error. He has been blamed not only for fighting too soon, but also for fighting at all. In this, he could not choose. Fight he must for Wolfe was now in the position to cut off all his supplies.”16 Montcalm did not have quite the wide range of options his critics believe he possessed.

Wolfe on his death bed surrounded by mourners

Benjamin West, National Gallery of Canada

The Death of Wolfe.


Montcalm’s journal is a treasure trove of insights into his complex personality. Because he has not received the same measure of historians’ attention that Wolfe has enjoyed, Montcalm the man, remains a stranger. Here are some observations that give us a glimpse into his world.

Louis XV must have been in dire need of Montcalm’s services, or so le Marquis would have us believe. This is a first impression when reading of the ritual surrounding le Marquis’s recall to duty. Although he claimed to prefer the country life at his ancestral seat in Candiac, in the heart of Provence, Montcalm claims, rightly, to be without choice in the matter of his new appointment. Although his preference is to remain with his large, young family, he cannot avoid the royal summons to court, coming as it does with the announcement of his new command. Even so, the old soldier must have felt a foreboding. Having survived two bloody wars, always in front in the heat of the action, his reputation for bravery and devotion to his king’s cause were hardly to be questioned. He had earned a respite from danger. To mount his charger once again was indeed pressing his luck, and his chances of survival must have preoccupied him. Moreover, the severe wounds he had suffered in previous campaigns, although healed, were still present.17 Humidity and fatigue brought painful discomfort.

The future commander of His Majesty’s troops in Canada described, in detail, the warm reception he received at Versailles from d’Argenson, the Minister of War. The appointment was just the first instalment of a ‘six-part deal,’ which included a promotion to the rank of major-general, a hefty initial cash grant and a generous yearly stipend while commanding the King’s troops in Canada, as well as a pension for la Marquise, should he not return. After the campaign, there would be a pension for Montcalm, a return of the financial investment he had already made for uniforms, weapons and mounts to outfit le Régiment de Montcalm for further action in the European theatre, and promotions within the family regiment for his sons.18

Montcalm spills much ink, describing the detail of what he has received from the king, as well as what this will mean to his noble line, whether or not he survives his North American adventure. Although comfortable, well-married and suitably connected at court via his wife’s relations, le Marquis alludes to the precariousness of his social position prior to his nomination to the Canadian command. By ensuring financial stability for the next generation of his family, he is responding to an imperative of survival. By mid-century, the old families belonging to the noblesse de l’épee, the warrior caste ennobled by the French kings, were falling on hard times, largely because of the debt load incurred when raising regiments for wartime service. For a provincial noble such as Montcalm, relatively unknown and certainly not personally active at court, to risk penury was to endanger the continued existence of his line. Profiting, in the widest sense, from his new command was the way to avoid catastrophe. The distinguishing characteristic of France’s nobility was the possession of hereditary title and its associated special privileges.19 Le Marquis’s sacrifice and devotion would ensure this destiny for the Montcalm line.

Despite his reservations, Montcalm recognized that he had been given the ideal command. Six regiments of the line, all battle-tried and led by officers of proven worth, were his to lead against the English, in defence of Canada. The Minister of War was very clear, however, that the regiments might not be with him for very long, as they might be required to return home at short notice. This must have caused Montcalm considerable unease, as these regiments would be the key to any military success in the colony. However, there was good news as well. He was to enjoy the support and talents of some of France’s most brilliant soldiers. Le Chevalier de Lévis had been brought back from service with the Danish royal family, where he had been a trusted retainer. His political skills would become evident later on in the campaign for Canada, when ‘cool heads’ would be at a premium. Their friendship was immediate, and it stood the test of the campaign’s many reversals. Bourlamaque was confirmed as an aide de camp, once his transfer from le Régiment du Dauphin was finalized. And Bougainville, already enjoying a reputation for intelligence and innovation, was recalled from the embassy in London to serve Montcalm as an aide.

Montcalm’s journal permits us to peer into his soul. His fiery Provencal temper notwithstanding, le Marquis arrives in Canada with a determination to remain circumspect, even detached, in his dealings with colonial authorities. He genuinely appears to have given Vaudreuil benefit of the doubt, however.20 That said, after a year in Canada, Montcalm has had enough of the dishonesty and graft he sees in the colony’s aristocracy, and he deeply resents Vaudreuil’s unwillingness to assume responsibility. The crux of their falling out seems to be Montcalm’s disappointment in a fellow noble, rather than a conflict of temperament.

Montcalm knows and understands la petite guerre as a former practitioner. He is not impressed, and he makes no more than passing mention of the style of warfare in his journal, because he remains convinced that irregular warfare cannot produce the decisive effects he must realize in his engagements with British forces.21 Le Marquis, perhaps, has simply lost interest in fighting, and he has forgotten how useful night raids were during his Italian adventures during the 1740s. What a difference a coor dinated attack might have made in July and August against the British rear at Quebec!


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Quebec’s Church of Notre-Dame de la Victoire in ruins.


By 1759, Montcalm commanded a mixed force, bringing together elements from the colonial militia, metropolitan regulars, the independent Franche companies, and Amerindians from many tribes. With such a diversity of culture and interests in its ranks, perhaps a personable commander, one more culturally attuned to the requirement for inspirational frontier leadership, rather than to harsh European discipline, might have been a better commander for such a disparate force. Le Marquis had service in two previous wars, wherein he had witnessed the principal military developments of the 18th Century. Commencing his service at the age of 12, he had been raised in the close-ordered battles of the Old World. In the New World, 35 years later, he would see that an “(a)ggressive, mobile, combative strategy replaced the slow strategy of siege.”22 As a warrior in the dynastic wars of the 18th Century, Montcalm’s unshakeable belief was that “(t)he army reflected the state. It was divided internally into classes without common spirit, into officers whose incentive was honour, class-consciousness, glory or ambition, and soldiers enlisted for long terms who fought as a business for a living, who were thought incapable of higher sentiments, and whose strongest attachment was usually a kind of naïve pride in their regiments.”23 Le Marquis’s understanding and conduct of generalship were results of his origins, upbringing and experience. And he was a faithful reflection of them. Montcalm’s strategic decisions, in so much as Vaudreuil permitted them, reflected the finest qualities and most common faults of 18th Century French nobility, who constituted the senior leadership of Louis XV’s army.24

His actions, for there was no possibility of inaction in Montcalm’s spontaneous character, resulted from analysis and decision-making that were consistent. Decisions followed from his interpretation of the politico/strategic direction he received from the Versailles court, evolving and contradictory as these instructions may have been throughout the Seven Years War. Indeed, his comprehension of his political masters’ intentions was always as straightforward as their wording. However, Montcalm needed mental agility if he was to second-guess Wolfe’s intentions. Unfortunately, by 1759, Montcalm seems to have been unwilling to credit his nemesis with the degree of cunning and guile so evident in the British manoeuvres in the St. Lawrence estuary. Although Montcalm mastered the military problems of time and space, the principal strategic determinants of the North American theatre, he underestimated the advantages his enemy could realize through amphibious operations in the St. Lawrence Valley. This is, perhaps, Montcalm’s greatest failing as a commander.

For Montcalm, the 18th Century European general defending dynastic interests at the fringes of French imperial interests, war was “formal, professional and mercenary.”25 For Vaudreuil, defender of his homeland, war was not bound by norms of conduct familiar to the Royal Army. Although waged, in large part, by the amateur citizen-soldiers of the Québec militia, the defence of New France was certainly fought by those most affected by its outcome, les Canadiens themselves. And the reward was greater than money – it was survival itself. Although la petite guerre and classical warfare co-existed as styles of conflict, they made for a volatile mixture of weapons, tactics, and, above all, intentions. How were adversaries to judge the advantage to be gained from a raid, a siege, or an attack? What would be the rules for a particular action, when both English and French forces were coalitions of metropolitan and colonial regulars, men from militias, both voluntary and impressed, as well as the ever-present Amerindian ‘scalp hunter’? The war of woods and rivers, ambushes and battlefields, and the constant possibility of sudden death, cast a pall over both combatants and civilians. The Seven Years War in the North American forests was a precursor of modern warfare, as later generations would know it.

Perhaps Montcalm’s most vehement critic, W.J. Eccles, should have the last word on Montcalm as commander:

It was not, however, Montcalm alone who was responsible for that defeat and the ensuing loss of the French colonial empire in North America. He was merely the product of a military system that was long overdue for the reforms soon to come. As a contemporary military expert Jacques-Antoine-Hippolyte de Guibert remarked of the French Army in the Seven Years War: “The machine is so worn out that even a man of genius could only touch it with trepidation. His genius would not suffice to guarantee success.” Montcalm was a product of that system. Indeed, he personified it.26

A special thanks goes out to Professors Ronald Haycock and Roman Jarymowycz, both of the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), and to Professor Terry Copp of Wilfrid Laurier University, for their counsel and encouragement.

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Major Michael Boire, an armoured officer, teaches Canadian History at the Royal Military College of Canada.


  1. Anonymous, Montreal Gazette, 14 September 1974 in C.P. Stacey, Quebec, 1759: The Siege and the Battle (Toronto: McMillan, 1959, repr.1982), p. ii.
  2. François Gaston Duc de Lévis, Journal du Marquis de Montcalm durant ses Campagnes en Canada de 1756 à 1759, in Abbé H.R. Casgrain, (ed.) Collection des manuscrits du Maréchal de Lévis, 12 Vols. (Québec: Imprimerie Demers & Frères, 1895) Vol.VI, p. 23. In the introduction to this edited version of Montcalm’s private journal, Casgrain’s view of the moral and personal dilemmas which the officers of the Royal Army had to face as they defended the colony are well put. “Il est juste de signaler aussi l’exagération évidente des récits de Montcalm et de ses officiers. On peut les excuser sans doute, on peut pardonner à des gens qui voient leur bravoure et leurs efforts inutiles, par suite du désordre qui règne dans l’administration et du manque de probité chez ceux qui ont la gestion des finances; on peut leur par donner disons-nous leur plaintes amères contre ceux qu’ils regardent à juste titre comme la cause première de leurs défaites et la ruine du pays qu’ils sont chargés de défendre.” Vol. VI, p. 26.
  3. This is a recurring theme in Canadian military history. One can imagine Isaac Brock echoing Casgrain’s words in describing the negligence of civilian authorities in Upper Canada to focus upon the province’s defences during the campaign of 1813. Also, conversations among British officers seconded to duty in Canada’s fortified garrisons during the 19th Century would have reflected these themes of frustration.
  4. Ramsay Cook, “Some French Canadian Interpretations of the British Conquest: Une Quatrième Dominante de la Pensée- canadienne-française,” Canadian Historical Association Annual Report, 1966-67, p.70.
  5. William J. Eccles, Essays on New France, (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp.110-115.
  6. Ibid., p. 110.
  7. Ibid., p. 127.
  8. In Montcalm’s private journal, there is both realism and despondence. “La paix ou tout ira mal. 1759 sera pis que 1758. Je ne sais pas comment nous ferons. Ah! Que je vois noir. M. de Vaudreuil et l’intendant [Bigot] attendent des miracles.” Casgrain, Vol. VI, pp. 242-243 “Le désordre s’accroit à mesure que le dénouement s’approche. Quel sujet pour une piece de théâtre qui réuniroit tant de gens, et des situations biens neuves pour l’ancien monde.” Yet Bougainville’s return with royal direction revitalized him. Casgrain, Vol.VI, p. 552
  9. W.J. Eccles, “Montcalm”, in Mary McDonald Maude et al, (eds.) in Dictionary of Canadian Biography (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974), p. 469. To the charge that Montcalm was ‘caught flatfooted’ on the morning of 13 September 1759, discussions at the colony’s Council of War for April clearly demonstrate Montcalm’s grasp of the British options for attack. Consequently, Montcalm has built balance into his deployment plan, both for the defence of Cap Diamant, his centre of gravity and on the Beauport Flats (which he has assessed as the most likely British approach). If need be, he can shift his defensive effort to his right (river) flank, should the English attack from that direction. Casgain, Vol. VI, p. 552.
  10. Casgrain, Vol. VI, p. 66. From Montcalm’s Journal entry for 30 May 1756, it is crystal clear that Vaudreuil has a strategic vision for the defence of the colony: to defend everywhere. In this regard, he remains remarkably consistent throughout the Seven Years War. In their first meeting on 30 May 1756, Vaudreuil gives Montcalm clear, as well as ambitious, strategic direction, defined precisely in operational tasks, based upon the colony’s strongest assets – interior lines of operation and a developed system of fortifications, which control the major river defiles in and approaching the colony. Unclear as to British intentions for the forthcoming campaign, the Governor-General deploys the colony’s defenders in a very wide arc, ready for any enemy option. Consequently, despite the appearance of strength, Vaudreuil’s deployment is not strong at any point. There are eight separate tasks for the regulars, troupes de marine and militiamen defending New France. In the southwest: I- Fort Duquesne is to be held by a mixed force of militia, Indians, and troupes de marine, who will remain prepared to move to Niagara should the British march upon it. II- Fort Chouagen (Oswego) – a mixed force will maintain surveillance on English/’Yankee’ garrisons south of Lake Ontario. III- Fort Frontenac will be garrisoned initially by Régiment Béarn, until relieved by Régiment Guienne. Béarn is then to move to Fort Niagara. Régiment La Sarre to reinforce Fort Frontenac. For Vaudreuil, this is the weakest link in the colony’s defences. In the south: IV-Fort Edward (Lydius) will be garrisoned by a mixed force.V- Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) will be garrisoned by Régiments La Reine et Languedoc. In the east: a mixed force on Rivière Saint-Jean. Vaudreuil does not assess danger on this flank. In reserve: Régiment Royal Roussillon. Naval strength on Lake Ontario is four barques with two 18-pounders each.
  11. Guy Frégault, Canada: the War of the Conquest, (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1969), p. 250.
  12. Guy Frégault, “Le Régime militaire et la Disparition de la Nouvelle France, » in Marcel Trudel, Histoire de la Nouvelle France, (Québec: Fides, 1999), Vol. X, p. 325. “Sans se contredire, on l’aura noté, sur tous les points – tous deux reconnaissent la nécessité « de donner la bonne fortune » sur le front de Québec – ils se heurtent sur le terrain des principes. Qui a raison? Vaudreuil, avec sa théorie des lignes étendues mais susceptibles d’être contractées le cas échéant, ou Montcalm, avec son idée d’un périmètre restreint au contour rigide.”
  13. Gustave Lanctot, Histoire du Canada du Traité d’Utrecht au Traité de Paris 1713-1763 (Montréal: Librairie Beauchemin, 1964), p. 228. Lanctot’s views of Montcalm are strongly held. “Quoique mortel lement blessé, Montcalm n’oublie pas le sort de ses soldats. Il trouve la force d’écrire au nouveau général anglais, Townshend, recommandant « à ses bontés » ses « malades et blessés », tombés aux mains de ses ennemis. Mal soigné, il meurt, le lendemain, regretté de l’armée, du peuple et des Sauvages. Ainsi disparaît par la guerre, « tombeau des Montcalm », une des figures les plus atta chantes de l’histoire canadienne, remarquable par la lucidité de son esprit, l’étendue des ses conceptions et de son sentiment du devoir. Chef d’une minime d’armée, il accomplit cet exploit unique de battre quatre fois les anglais en quatre campagnes : Chouagen, William-Henry, Carillon et Montmorency, éclatants témoignages de ses talents militaires.” p. 238.
  14. Ibid., p. 236.
  15. Samuel Eliot Morison (ed.), The Parkman Reader (Boston: Little, Brown, 1955). p. 500.
  16. Ibid., Eccles, however, rejects completely the notion that Montcalm had to attack because his supplies were threatened. There was, Eccles claims, the alternate route west through Loretteville. That this route was an easy morning’s march from the Plains, and hence vulnerable to British interdiction, seems to have escaped him.
  17. Anyone who has seen Montcalm’s remains when they were exposed at Les Ursulines de Québec before their recent (2000) transfer to Le Couvent de la Congrégation de Notre Dame, must wonder how le Marquis survived such terrible head wounds. The skull had been deeply rent by two deep sword strikes.
  18. Casgrain, Vol.VI, pp.19-20.
  19. Cook, “Some French Canadian Interpretations of the British Conquest: Une Quatrième Dominante de la Pensée-canadienne-française,” p. 7.
  20. Casgrain, Vol.VI, p. 66.
  21. Eccles, “Montcalm,” p. 469.
  22. R.R. Palmer, “Frederick the Great, Guibert, Bülow: From Dynastic to National War,”in Peter Paret (ed.), Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), p. 92.
  23. Ibid.
  24. For analyses of the French Army in the Seven Years War, see Susan W. Hendersen, The French Regular Officer Corps in Canada, 1755-1760: A Group Portrait (University of Maine: Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, 1975). Lee Kennett. The French Armies in the Seven Years War: A Study in Military Organiza tion and Administration. (Durham, South Carolina: Duke University Press, 1967), Robert S. Quimby, The Background of Napoleonic Warfare: The Theory of Military Tactics in Eighteenth-century France (New York: Columbia University Press, 1957), Christopher Duffy, The Military Experience in the Age of Reason (New York: Routledge & Kegan,1987).
  25. I.K. Steele, Guerrillas and Grenadiers: The Struggle for Canada, 1689-1760. (Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1969), p. 6.
  26. W.J. Eccles, “Montcalm,” p. 469.