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A Soldier's Account
of the Campaign on Quebec, 1759
Written by the Sergeant Major of the 40th Regiments Grenadiers (part of the Louisbourg Grenadiers), A Journal of the Expedition up the River St. Lawrence was published as a pamphlet in Boston in November 1759. Not only was it the first account to be published on the siege of Quebec , but is one of the few works by a member of the other ranks. While it lacks the flare of officers account, it does present one of the best records of the day to day movements of the part of Wolfes Army, namely the Louisbourg Grenadiers. The Louisbourg Grenadiers themselves were made up of the Grenadier Companies of the 22nd, 40th, and 45th Regiments who had been left to garrison Louisbourg, captured the year earlier. General James Wolfe, while forming his expedition against Quebec at Louisbourg, personally oversaw the training of the Louisbourg Grenadiers in the "New Exercise", which was an improved infantry drill. As fate would have it, on September 13th , 1759 on the Plains of Abraham, Wolfe would fall mortally wounded next to the Louisbourg Grenadiers. A few days later, Quebec surrendered and the duty fell upon the Louisbourg Grenadiers to form the honour guard and first to enter the walls of Quebec. In his account, the Sergeant Major skips a day around the time of the battle of the Plains and records it incorrectly as occurring on the 14th of September.
"A Journal of the Expedition up the River St. Lawrence;
A True and Particular
Account of the Transactions of the Fleet and Army,
by the Serjeant-Major of Gen. Hopsons Grenadiers
Louisbourg, June 1st, 1759
We embarkd on board the Transport Harwood, bound on the Expedition to Canada ...
The 4th Day we set Sail for the River St. Lawerance, which we made on the 9th Day, and there we lay 'til the 16th, before we got into the River; which is very wide and Mountainous. For about forty Leagues up the River the Depth of Water is 100 Fathoms. The 16th Day we came into seventeen fathom Water; and on the 23rd we join'd Admiral Durell, who had 7 Sail of the Line, with some Frigates with him, which lay as a Guard to Protect the River, at a Place call'd the Island of Coudre This island is pleasantly situated, lies partly high, and was very well peopled before we came up : - And passing this Island about a League up, we anchor'd, and two of our Boats went in Shore and was attack'd by a small Party of Canadians and Indians, and was obliged to retreat to their Ships.
The 25th we made the out End of the Island of Orleans, and on the 27th we landed on it without the loss of a Man. A small Party of Rangers were almost surrounded by a large Party of Indians; but the Rangers rush'd through them with the Loss of only one Man; what damage the Enemy sustain'd is uncertain.
On the 29th the French sent five Fire Ships down among our Fleet; but, thank God, they did no Damage. The same Day we marched about 6 miles, under the Command of Col. Carlton, and encamped that same Night in Sight of the French Army, and likewise in Sight of the Town Gen. Moncktons Brigade and a party of Rangers landed on the South Side; we had a small Attack, by which we had 3 kill'd, 2 wounded and 4 taken Prisoners.
July 1st, the Enemy came against our Detachment on the South-side of the River with floating Batteries; but our Shipping soon drove them off ; --the Damage they suffer'd is not known. Same Day the Louisbourg Grenadiers went a Foraging; we had two kill'd and scalp'd belonging to the 22d Regiment. The same Day we marched to the West End of the Island, in order to join the Louisbourg Battalion. A Party of the Enemy fired out of the woods, and wounded two men.
July the 5th, a Barge between the Island and the main Land, to sound the Depth of Water: The French fird four Cannon-Shot at her, and came down on a large Bar of Sand, from whence they fir'd small arms; also five Canoes came down the River, loaded with Indians, who took the Barge, made one Man prisoner, and wounded another belonging to the 22d Regiment. On the same Day their floating Batteries attack'd our Shipping but was soon obliged to quit their Firing. --Gen. Monckton opened a small Battery upon the South Side; The first Day they canonaded and bombarded on both Sides; but lost never a Man.
General View of Quebec
from Point Levis, 1761 (NAC)
The 8th, we landed on Quebeck-Shore, without any Interception, and marched up the River about two miles; when the Louisbourg Grenadiers being order'd out to get Fascines, they had scarce set down to take a small Refreshment, and detachd a small Party of Rangers to guard the Skirts of the Wood, before a large Party of Indians surrounded them, kill'd and scalp'd 13, wounded the Captain-Lieutenant and 9 Privates; they likewise kill'd and wounded 14 of the Royal Americans, wounded 2 of the 22d and one of the 40th Regiment : we got only 3 Prisoners, and kill'd 2 of the Savages.
The third Day our Shipping was drove off by the Enemy's Shells. - We got only some few Prisoners, 'til the 12th Day, when the French built a Battery against us, but had not Time to mount any Guns on it; for we soon demolish'd it with our Field-Pieces and Hawitzers. The fourteenth Day their floating Batteries came out after our Boats, but we soon drove them back again. -The 16th, we set the Town on Fire, about 12 O'clock, which continued burning all that Day.
On the 17th we went out a Fascining, and to make Oars, with a small Party to cover us; --5 were kill'd of which 4 were scalp'd, and we was oblig'd to quit the Wood directly ; the Indians came up very close, and killd and scalp'd one Man close by us; the Grenadiers of the 45th Regiment fird upon them, and I saw one drop; but the Indians took him off in a minute. We had 5 kill'd, belonging to the 35th Regiment, and one dangerousIy wounded; the 15th Reg. had one wounded very bad; but our People returning upon them, made them fly so fast that they were obligd to leave their Blankets and Match-coats, with several other Things, behind them; but we could not get one of them Prisoners. A Deserter came to us, from whom we had an imperfect Account of their Forces; which, however, gave us some Encouragement.
July 18th, the Deserter went out with our Light-Infantry, to show them a Place where to cross the Falls; the Indians fir'd on them, but hurt none: Likewise the same Night some of our Shipping passd the Town, and one run ashore on the South Side of the River. The 19th Day the floating Batteries came out to attack Our Shipping round the Harbour; but our Batteries on the Land-Side drove them off, so that the Shipping receiv'd but two Shot. On the 20th an accident happen'd in the Light-Infantry's Camp; a Man sitting in his Tent, with his Firelock by him, taking hold of the Muzzle to pull it towards him, it went off and wounded him in the Thigh so that he died the same Night.
The 21st Day of July all the Grenadiers cross'd over to the Island of Orleans; the Indians attackd us very smartly, as we was marching to the Water-Side.--Same Day the Enemy open'd two batteries on us, which raked our Camps. Our Troops, with Seamen, stormed a Battery on the S. Side, spiked the Cannon, broke the Mortars, broke into their Magazine, took all their powder, and threw all the Shot and Shells into the Water.
July 22d we set the Town on Fire, which burnt all the next Day: Some of our Shipping went to pass the Town ; but they fir'd so hot, that they were obligd to turn back.
The 23d 300 Provincials landed on the Island of Orleans, which was some Reinforcement.
July 25th, the Louisbourg Battalion and three more Companies of Grenadiers, with 3 Companies of Light-Infantry, went round the Island of Orleans. -- The 27th we arrived at our Camp; and we receiv'd News That our Forces on Montmorancy Side had been attack'd the Day before, and likewise got the Better of the Enemy ; we had an Account that we kill'd 300 of them, but the Number of wounded none of us could tell: Our loss was 5 Officers and 32 Privates, 12 of whom were kill'd and the rest wounded. The same Day we went to get our Plunder, which we discovered on our march round the Island, consisting of Gowns, Shirts, Petticoats, Stockings, Coats and Waistcoats, Breeches, Shoes, and many other Articles too tedious to mention and some Cash ; which, if the Things had been sold to the Value, would have fetch'd upwards of 500 l. Sterl. The same Night the French sent five Fire-Floats down, which made great Confusion among our Fleet; but the Men of War sent their Boats and tow'd them ashore, where they burnt out without further Damage.
July 29, Otways and Hopsons Grenadiers went on board the Three-Sisters, Witmores and Warburtons on board the Russell, the rest in flat-bottom Boats and other Vessels, with a full Intent to land on a Part of the French Shore; so as by that Means we might come at the Town :
The First Push we made was on the 31st of July: with 13 Companies of Grenadiers, supported by about 5 Thousand Battalion-men;-- as soon as we landed we fixed our Bayonets and beat our Grenadier's-March, and so advanced on ; during all this Time their Cannon play'd very briskly on us; but their Small-Arms, in their Trenches, lay cool 'till they were sure of their Mark; then they pour 'd their Small-Shot like Showers of Hail, which caus'd our brave Grenadiers to fall very fast: Brave Gen. Wolfe saw that our attempts were in vain, so he retreated to his Boats again: The number of kill'd and wounded that Day was about 400 Men; - in our Retreat we burnt the two Ships, which we had ran ashore on that side to cover our Landing.
The 3d Day of August a Party of Capt. Danks's Rangers went from the Island of Orleans to Quebec Side, a little down the River; they were attack'd by a Party of French, and was smartly engag'd for the Space of half an Hour; but the Rangers put them to flight, kill'd several and took one Prisoner: The Rangers lost one Lieutenant, who died of his Wounds soon after, and 2 or 3 others. They got a great deal of Plunder.
Aug 4th the French made an Attempt of crossing the Falls; but our Train fir'd Hawits and Cohorns so fast, that they were oblig'd to retreat without accomplishing any Thing;----what Damage was done them I know not.
On the 6th a Victualing Ship sail'd from our Fleet, and went below the Falls, the French hove Shot and Shells in great Number at them; but did them no Harm.
The 8th of Aug. two Centinels being at the Falls, they took an Indian and bro't him Prisoner to the General, who sent him on board the Admiral. At 12o'Clock at Night we threw a Carcass and one Shell on the Enemy's Battery of 9 Guns, which blew up their Magazine, Platforms, and burnt with such Violence that some of the Garrison were oblig'd to get into Boats to save themselves from the Flames. The 9th Day we set the Town on Fire, being the 3d Time.
On the 10th the French floated a Thing down in the Form of a Floating-Battery; one of our Ships sent out a Boat to see what it was, and just as the Seamen were going to jump on board, it blew up and kill'd one midshipman and wounded four Sailors .The same day about 30 Sailors went a Plundering on the South-side of the River, and as they were about their Prey, they was surpriz'd by a Party of Indians and drove off; but they all got safe to their Boats, tho' not without the Loss of their Plunder.
The 11th Instant there was an Engagement between our Scouting-Parties and the Indians, Our People drove them off, we had a great Number wounded, several very badly, but the most slightly; there was but few kill'd: There was one of the 35th Reg. told me, he saw an Indian who fir'd at him, but miss'd him; that he levelled his Piece and fir'd at the Indian and miss'd him likewise; upon which the Indian immediately threw his Tommahawk at him and miss'd him; whereupon the Soldier, catching up the Tommahawk, threw it at the Indian and levelld him, and then went to scalp him; but 2 other Indians came behind him, and one of them stuck a Tommahawk in his Back ; but did not wound him so much as to prevent his Escape from them.
The 12th Day We had an Account of General Murray's going to land above the Town--He made all Attempt to land twice and was beat off; he made the third Attempt, and landed at the South-Shore with the Loss of about 100 kill'd and wounded. The same Day we had an Account from the Enemy, That Gen. Amherst's Army was taken very badly and that they were oblig 'd to turn back again.
On the 13th we had an Account by one of the French Gunners, who deserted to us that Night, That the enemy had very little provisions; he likewise gave an Account what a Body of French and Indians came over the Falls, the same Side that our Army was on, and that they had four Days Provisions with them, and remain'd there still.
The 14th a Sailor belonging to the Dublin Man of War, endeavour'd to swim over to the French, over the River; but the Current ran so strong, that he was driven on Shore on the Island-Side and was taken up by one of Hopson's Grenadiers and carried to their Quarter-Guard, from whence he was carried on board his own Ship again, stark naked.
The 15th of Aug. Captain Gorham returned from an Incursion, in which Service were employ 'd, under his Command, 150 Rangers, a Detachment from the different Regiments, Highlanders, Marines, &c. amounting in the whole to about 300, an arm'd Vessel, three Transports, with a Lieutenant and Seamen of the Navy to attend him, of which Expedition they gave the following Account:
The same Day 1 of our Schooners went from the Fleet below the Fall, and the French fir'd 8 or 9 Shot at her; but miss'd her. This Day a Party of young Highlanders came to the Island of Orleans from Gen. Moncktons Encampment; on Purpose to destroy all the Canaada-Side.-- The same Day our People set one of the Enemy's Floating-Batteries on Fire; --and in the Night General Monckton set the Town on Fire, (being the 4th Time) and the Flames raged so violently, that 'twas imagin'd the whole City would have been reduc'd to Ashes.
August 18th, a Sloop and Schooner went below the Falls ; the French hove Shot and Shells at them, but did 'em no Damage. The same Day the Enemy hove a Bomb from the Town, which kill'd one Man and wounded 6 more,--one Man had his Arm cut off by a Piece of the same Shell.
On the 20th the Louisbourg Grenadiers began their March down the main Land of Quebeck, in order to burn and destroy all the Houses on that Side---- On the 24th they were attackd by a Party of French, who had a Priest for their Commander; but our Party kill'd and scalp'd 31 of them, and likewise the Priest, their Commander ; They did our People no Damage. The three Companies of Louisbourg Grenadiers halted about 4 Miles down the River, at a Church called the Guardian-Angel, where we were order'd to fortify ourselves till further Orders; we had several small Parties in Houses, and the Remainder continued in the Church.----The 25th , began to destroy the Country, burning Houses, cutting down Corn, and the like: At Night the Indians fired several scattering Shot at the Houses, which kill'd one of the Highlanders and wounded another ; but they were soon repulsed by the Heat of our Firing. --It was said that the Number of the Enemy consisted of 800 Canadians and Indians. Sept 1st we set Fire to our Houses and Fortifications, and marched to join the Grand Army at Montmorancy; the 3 Companies of Grenadiers ordered to hold themselves in Readiness to march at a Minute's Warning.
The 26th a Serjeant of the 35th Regiment deserted across the Fall, and our people fir'd several Grape-Shots after him; notwithstanding which he got clear off to the Enemy.
The 27th of August some of our Shipping went past the Town, which fir'd so hot at them with Shots and Bombs, that one would have thought Vessel to pass ; but they receiv'd little or no Damage. The 29th, 5 Sail went to pass the Town, up the River; the Town fir'd very warm all the Time of their passing, and I was very well informed, That only 15 of their Shot took Place out of all their Firing; Likewise the 30th Instant four of our Ships pass'd the Town, where they kept a continual Firing ; but did us very little Damage.
Sept. 1. all the Sick and Women that was on Montmorancy-Side, came over to the Island of Orleans; on the 2d Intant a a large Body of Wolfes Troops came over, with the Louisbourg Grenadiers, and encamped that Night on the same Island.
The 3d Day all the Army left Montmorancy-Side and we set all the Houses and Fortifications on Fire, and then we embark'd in flat-bottom Boats and came above the Fall; the French fir'd very brisk all the Time of our passing, but did us no Damage, and we went over to Point Levee and encamped there.
Sept. 4th the Louisbourg Grenadiers and the Remainder of the Army, cross'd over to Point-Levee from the Island of Orleans, and encamped there.--The Same Day 4 Men came from Gen. Amherst's Army; they was 26 Days on their Journey, and informd us, That we had got Ticonderoga, and likewise Crown-Point.
Sept 5th about 5 or 6000 Men Marched up the River on Point-Levee Side, to go above the Town, and carried one Month's Provision up in Sloops· The same Day one of the Royal-Americans, who was taken Prisoner by the French-Indians the 31st of July last, made his Escape and came to the Porcupine Sloop of War, that lay a little below the Fall; he informs us That there is no more than about 300 Indians that carries Arms; but that there are a great number of Women and Children, that they were very scant of Provisions; likewise that he himself had been 48 Hours without any thing to eat: He further said, that the Enemy they were very numerous in their Intrenchment", consisting of at least, 14,000 Men of which 11,000 were Canadians and the rest Regulars, the latter of whom were heartily tir'd with the Siege.
Sept. 6th the Schooner Terror of France went above the Town, in the middle of the Day, as she pass'd they kept up a constant Fire at her, and she receiv'd five of their Shot; one in her Jib, two in her Mainsail and 2 in her Foresail; but lost none of her Hands, nor did she sustain any further Damage.
The whole Army being on Point-Levee Side, the main Body were order'd to get ready to march above the Town, on the South Side, and to take only one Shirt and one Pair of Stockings, besides what we had on. We marched up the River about 8 Miles, and then embark'd on board the Men of War and Transports that were up the River: the Number that embarked was 3349 Men, with a Party of the Train of Artillery.
Sept. 10. the Weather being very wet, and the Troops very much crowded on board the Men of War and Transports, the General thought proper to land us on the South Side again; which was a great Decoy to the French : We marched to the Church of St. Nicholas, under the Command of General Monkton, where we halted. The next Day we received intelligence of a small Number of French and Indians, who were driving some Cattle;......we dispatched a Party of 500 Men, who took the Cattle, but the Enemy got off.
The 12th we received Orders to embarked on board our Ships again.
The 13th we had Orders to land ; so we fell down the River in the Ships and Boats till we came a little above the Town, where the Enemy least suspected us (for where the Enemy thought we should have landed, they had about 600 Horse; but what Number of Foot we could not say; we could perceive that they was intrench'd and had 5 Floating-Batteries to intercept our Landing.)
On the 14th we landed, at break of Day, and immediately attacked and routed the Enemy, taking Possession of a Battery of 4 24-Pounders, and one thirteen Inch Mortar, with but an inconsiderable Loss. We then took Post on the Plains of Abraham, whither M. Montcalm (on hearing that we had landed, for he did not expect us) hasted with his whole Army (consisting of Cavalry as well as Infantry) to give us Battle; about 9 o'Clock; we observed the Enemy marching down towards us in three Columns, at 10 they formed their Line of Battle, which was at least six deep, having their Flanks covered by a thick Wood on each Side, into which they threw above 3000 Canadians and Indians, who gauled us much; the Regulars then marched briskly up to us, and gave us their first Fire, at about Fifty Yards Distance, which we did not return, as it was General Wolfe's express Orders not to fire till they came within twenty Yards of us --They continued firing by Platoons, advancing in a very regular Manner till they came close up to us, and then the Action became general: In about a Quarter of an Hour the Enemy gave way on all Sides, when a terrible Slaughter ensued from the quick Fire of our Field Pieces and Musquetry with which we pursue'd them to the Walls of the Town, regardless of all excessive heavy Fire from all their Batteries. The Enemy lost in the Engagement, Lieut. Gen. Montcalm, (who was torn to Pieces by our Grape Shot) 2 Brigadier-Generals; one Colonel; 2 Lieutenant-Colonels ; and at least 130 Officers and Men kill'd and 200 taken Prisoners at their very Sally-Ports, of which 58 were Officers. On our Side was killed the brave and never to be forgotten General WOLFE; with 9 Officers, 4 Serjeants and 44 Privates ; wounded, Brigadier-General Monckton , Colonel Carlton, Quarter-Master-General; Major Barre, Adjutant-General; and 50 Other Officers, with 26 Serjeants and 557 privates.-- This Action was the more glorious, as the Enemy were at least 12,000 strong, besides 500 Horse; whereas we, at the utmost, did not consist of above 3500, some of whom did not engage;--for at the Time of the Engagement Colonel Scott was out burning the Country with 1600 Men; Col. Burton was at Point-Levee with 2000 Men; and on the Island of Orleans there were 1500; whereas our whole Army, at our first embarking at Louisbourg, did not exceed 8240 Men.
At Ten o'Clock at Night we surpriz'd their Guard and took Possession of their Grand Hospital, wherein we found between 12 and 1500 Sick and Wounded.
We lay on our Arms all Night, and in the Morning we secured the Bridge of Boats which the Enemy had over Charles River, and possessed ourselves of all, the Posts and Avenues that was or might be of any Consequence leading to the Town, and broke Ground at 100 Yards Distance from the Walls; we likewise got up 12 heavy 24-pounders; six heavy Twelve Pounders, some large Mortars, and the 46 inch Hawitzers, to play upon the Town, and we had been employed three Days, intending to make a Breach, and storm the City Sword in hand, but we were prevented by their beating a Parley, and sending out a Flag of Truce with Articles of Capitulation, and the next Day- being the 17th of September, we took Possession of the City, where we found 250 Pieces of Cannon, a Number of mortars, from 9 to fifteen Inches, Field-Pieces, Hawitzers, &c. with a large Quantity of Artillery-Stores.
M. Vaudreuille, the Governor-General of New-France, stole out of the City before the Capitulation; leaving only about 600 Men, under the Command of Mon. Ramsay, by whom the Capitulation was signed. The poor Remains of the French Regulars, with about 10,000 Canadians, retired to Jaques Quartiees under the Command of M. Levy; but the Canadians deserted him in great Numbers, and came in and surrendered themselves.
Sept 19th the French Garrison were embarked on board Transports: Such of the Inhabitants as would come in and take the Oaths of Allegiance, were permitted to enjoy their Estates.
Brigadier General Murray is Governor of the Town, and the whole Army left to Garrison it.
view of the church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire, Quebec City 1760 (NAC)
During the whole Siege from first to last, 535 Houses were burnt down, among which is the whole eastern Part of the lower Town (save 6 or 8 Houses) which make a very dismal Appearance. We also destroyed upwards of Fourteen Hundred fine Farm-Houses in the Country, &c.
Copyright The Discriminating General 1999