The engineers were under-staffed, under-manned, and overworked. There were no Royal Engineers as a permanent and comprehensive corps till the time of Wellington. Wolfe complained bitterly and often of the lack of men and materials for scientific siege work. But he ’relied on Carleton’ to good purpose in this respect as well as in many others. In his celebrated dispatch to Pitt he mentions Carleton twice. It was Carleton whom he sent to seize the west end of the island of Orleans, so as to command the basin of Quebec, and Carleton whom he sent to take prisoners and gather information at Pointe-aux-Trembles, twenty miles above the city. Whether or not he revealed the whole of his final plan to Carleton is probably more than we shall ever know, since Carleton’s papers were destroyed. But we do know that he did not reveal it to any one else, not even to his three brigadiers, Monckton, Townshend, and Murray.
Carleton was wounded in the head during the Battle of the Plains; but soon returned to duty. Wolfe showed his confidence in him to the last. Carleton’s was the only name mentioned twice in the will which Wolfe handed over to Jervis, the future Lord St Vincent, the night before the battle. ’I leave to Colonel Oughton, Colonel Carleton, Colonel Howe, and Colonel Warde a thousand pounds each.’ ’All my books and papers, both here and in England, I leave to Colonel Carleton.’ Wolfe’s mother, who died five years later, showed the same confidence by appointing Carleton her executor.
With the fall of Quebec in 1759 Carleton disappears from the Canadian scene till 1766. But so many pregnant events happened in Canada during these seven years, while so few happened in his own career, that it is much more important for us to follow her history than his biography.
In 1761 he was wounded at the storming of Port Andro during the attack on Belle Isle off the west coast of France. In 1762 he was wounded at Havana in the West Indies. After that he enjoyed four years of quietness at home. Then came the exceedingly difficult task of guiding Canada through twelve years of turbulent politics and most subversive war.
Both armies spent a terrible winter after the Battle of the Plains. There was better shelter for the French in Montreal than for the British among the ruins of Quebec. But in the matter of food the positions were reversed. Nevertheless the French gallantly refused the truce offered them by Murray, who had now succeeded Wolfe. They were determined to make a supreme effort to regain Quebec in the spring; and they were equally determined that the habitants should not be free to supply the British with provisions.