Monday, July 20, 2009

Live-blogging the siege of Quebec+250 #18

Friday, July 20, 1759. Wolfe, now that he has naval ships above the town, abandons all thought of a landing on the heavily defended Beauport-Montmorency shore, and sends Robert Monckton, one of his brigadiers, a letter outlining an attack he wants made that very day just west of the city.
It is of consequence that we get to a rising ground over the village where the road leading to Quebec runs... If we can take four or five good posts, and keep 'em till our friends arrive, it may bring on a very decisive affair.
A few hours later, Wolfe sends Monckton a second note:
Particular circumstances make it necessary to delay our attempt and to keep it a secret... You will countermand the embarcation and the march for a day or two.
This is another plan that will never be implemented. C. P. Stacey argues that the reason was the 600-man detachment -- including 200 cavalry -- Montcalm had dispatched upriver to shadow the British ships. Dumas, their commander, has quickly placed a small gun batterey at the cove where Wolfe is thinking of landing. It pounds the warship Sutherland hard enough that its commander retreats farther upriver. That is enough to convince Wolfe he cannot surprise the French defenders here.

James Gibson, a well-connected New Englander with the British forces, writes this day:
Within the space of five hours we received at the general's request three different orders of consequence, which were contradicted immediately after their reception -- which has been the constant practice of the general ever since we have been here to the no small amazement of everyone who has the liberty of thinking. Every step he takes his wholly his own; I'm told he asks no one's opinion and wants no advice.
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