Montcalm and Wolfe eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 771 pages of information about Montcalm and Wolfe.

Chapter 30

1760

Fall of Canada

The retreat of Levis left Canada little hope but in a speedy peace.  This hope was strong, for a belief widely prevailed that, even if the colony should be subdued, it would be restored to France by treaty.  Its available force did not exceed eight or ten thousand men, as most of the Canadians below the district of Three Rivers had sworn allegiance to King George; and though many of them had disregarded the oath to join the standard of Levis, they could venture to do so no longer.  The French had lost the best of their artillery, their gunpowder was falling short, their provisions would barely carry them to harvest time, and no more was to be hoped for, since a convoy of ships which had sailed from France at the end of winter, laden with supplies of all kinds, had been captured by the English.  The blockade of the St. Lawrence was complete.  The Western Indians would not fight, and even those of the mission villages were wavering and insolent.

Yet Vaudreuil and Levis exerted themselves for defence with an energy that does honor to them both.  “Far from showing the least timidity,” says the ever-modest Governor, “I have taken positions such as may hide our weakness from the enemy."[835] He stationed Rochbeaucourt with three hundred men at Pointe-aux-Trembles; Repentigny with two hundred at Jacques-Cartier; and Dumas with twelve hundred at Deschambault to watch the St. Lawrence and, if possible, prevent Murray from moving up the river.  Bougainville was stationed at Isle-aux-Noix to bar the approach from Lake Champlain, and a force under La Corne was held ready to defend the rapids above Montreal, should the English attempt that dangerous passage.  Prisoners taken by war parties near Crown Point gave exaggerated reports of hostile preparation, and doubled and trebled the forces that were mustering against Canada.

[Footnote 835:  Vaudreuil au Ministre, 22 Juin, 1760.]

These forces were nevertheless considerable.  Amherst had resolved to enter the colony by all its three gates at once, and, advancing from east, west, and south, unite at Montreal and crush it as in the jaws of a vice.  Murray was to ascend the St. Lawrence from Quebec, while Brigadier Haviland forced an entrance by way of Lake Champlain, and Amherst himself led the main army down the St. Lawrence from Lake Ontario.  This last route was long, circuitous, difficult, andfull of danger from the rapids that obstructed the river.  His choice of it for his chief line of operation, instead of the shorter and easier way of Lake Champlain, was meant, no doubt, to prevent the French army from escaping up the Lakes to Detroit and the other wilderness posts, where it might have protracted the war for an indefinite time; while the plan adopted, if successful, would make its capture certain.  The plan was a critical one.  Three armies advancing from three different points,

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