Monday, August 24, 2009

Live-blogging the siege of Quebec+250 #53

Friday August 24, 1759: From the journal of de Foligné:
Once again, after having made several previous requests to be permitted to go home, some Canadians came to headquarters to request that they be permitted to go to get in their harvests. Headquarters refused them, promising that they would be provided for. But the Canadians seemed reluctant to rely on this promise and made up their own minds, so that as soon as it was night at least two hundred of them went off and the command was unable to keep order, despite the complaints of Marquis de Montcalm, who feared that the enemy would take notice of the desertions, which he estimated at more than two thousand men.
Captain Knox, on the 19th, had a slightly different version of these events, as picked up in the British camp:
By the deserter above-mentioned we are informed that two thousand Canadians have been permitted to withdraw from the army to reap their harvest. A heavy storm of rain in the evening, with great thunder and lightning.
Knox went to visit General Wolfe at Montmorency this day, but Wolfe was too ill to come downstairs to dinner. Knox took the opportunity to stroll along the Montmorency Falls ("a strength and rapidity not to be conceived") and was very nearly shot dead by a French soldier:
I was hastily called to by one of our sentinels, when, throwing my eyes about, I saw a Frenchman creeping under the eastern extremity of their breastwork, next the main river, to fire at me. This obliged me to retire as fast as I could out of his reach and, making up to the sentry to thank him for his attention, he told me the fellow had snapped his piece twice, and the second time it flashed in the pan, at the instant when I turned away from the fall. Having satisfied my curiosity, and not finding myself disposed to give Monsieur another chance at this time, on so trivial an occasion, I returned to the headquarters.
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