Wednesday 11 May 2011

ABC Wednesday Q is for Quebec

This 1797 engraving is based on a sketch made by Hervey Smyth, General Wolfe's aide-de-camp during the siege of Quebec. A view of the taking of Quebec, 13th September 1759
Library of the Canadian Department of National Defence
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The Battle of Quebec, otherwise known as The Battle of the Plains of Abraham, Bataille des Plaines d'Abraham or Première bataille de Québec was fought during the Seven Years’ War (French and Indian War in the USA) which took place from 1757 to 1762.

It began on 13th September, 1759, between the British and the French on a high plain outside the city of Quebec in Canada. The land originally belonged to a farmer called Abraham Martin and gave rise to the name the Plains of Abraham.

The French, Canadian and Indian forces were commanded by Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm and Major General James Wolfe led the British and American soldiers. Montcalm’s men numbered 5,000 with three guns while 4,500 of Wolfe’s force went into battle on the Plains of Abraham with one gun.

On the night of September 12th Wolfe’s force rowed along the St. Lawrence River towards Anse de Foulon where they intended to disembark. They drifted slightly off-course and landed near a slope. The 4,500 men scaled the cliffs and assembled on the plains in a single line of battalions.

Montcalm was unaware of their presence until the morning of 13th September. At 10:00 am his troops began their advance. The British lines held their fire until their opponents were within range then loosed two volleys which destroyed the French attack. The British then advanced and forced the French to retreat from the field of battle.

The encounter lasted around fifteen minutes and was a pivotal moment in the conflict between France and Britain over sovereignty in New France, ultimately leading to the creation of Canada. French forces continued to battle and were victorious in several skirmishes but within four years most of France’s assets in eastern North America had been relinquished to Great Britain. In effect, the victory at Quebec marked the beginning of the end of French rule in Canada.

What of the generals?

General Wolfe had moved to a high point to see the battle action. Earlier he had been shot in the wrist but had wrapped it and continued to fight. Now, within moments of the order to fire the volleys, he was shot in the stomach and chest and carried to the rear of the battle field. One of the soldiers near the General shouted out, ‘They run, see how they run.’ Wolfe, who had declined medical assistance, asked what had happened, gave orders for following action and said, ‘Now, God be praised, I will die in peace.’ It was reported that he then turned on his side and died. He was 32.

Meanwhile, the Marquis de Montcalm had been shot in the thigh and lower abdomen while retreating but was still mounted. He was carried along with his army and eventually taken from his horse into a nearby house where he died the following morning. His body was buried in the Ursuline chapel in a crater left by a British shell. He was 47.

The Plains of Abraham are preserved in The Battlefields Park in Quebec City.

This meme is hosted and organised by Denise Nesbitt and her team. Click here to see more Qs.


  1. We learned not a WHIT of that in school, so I really appreciate the information.

    Good morning!


  2. I have never been to Quebec, it certainly looks a little different today !
    I hope you don't like as many battles in your house than in your posts, lol !

  3. I have never been to Quebec, I think it changed a little since this painting.
    I hope you don't have as many battles in your home than in your posts, lol !

  4. I watched a fascinating documentary about this last year.

    Great post!

  5. I'd love to go to Quebec and spend some time there. Thanks for the history lesson.

  6. Ah, yes, the good old Battle on the Plains of Abraham. We were Wolfed and Montcalmed to bits as children. Canadian history was considered tres dull, and it was, because it was written that way.
    Now I understand it a lot better. But it took you, in England, to tell me, in Canada, that General Wolfe died so young. He seemed very old when I was 8 or 9.
    I visited Quebec for the first time last year, and loved it. My husband grew up in Montreal but didn't want to go with me. He never did explain why, so I went by myself.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  7. Thanks for the history lesson today!
    I am going to impress everyone at dinner tonight.

  8. Another fascinating history lesson Janice, thank you. Love reading these things. Quebec is a place I have always wanted to go to. My husband went there on business many times when we first moved to Virginia. He loved the city.

  9. This is so fascinating. THanks for the post.

  10. That painting must have taken a long time! Thanks for sharing all that history!

  11. I remember reading about the war in the macro level but not in much detail.


    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  12. Speaking of that battle, we were "this close" (I'm holding my hand up with a dime's width between my thumb and pointer finger) from all speaking French in America. I'm not sure how that's related to that engraving ... but if Napoleon hadn't got bogged down in Europe, who knows.

  13. What a beautiful Q! Find out what my Q is at Nostalgic Marveling

  14. He's shot in the thigh and abdomen and he stays mounted? That is incredible. War is so horrible!

  15. A delightful engraving - and a pivotal moment... Shame that most such moments involve a war.

  16. A history lesson. Thanks. I love history. A great way to start the day.

  17. If French rule ended in Canada, why is Canada still a french speaking
    country, more than British (if it is?) Just shows how little I know about

  18. We have visited the Plains and Quebec City. You'd never know such a decisive battle was fought there.
    Great post! Hve a wonderful weekend!


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