Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Live-blogging the siege of Quebec+250 #55

Sunday, August 26, 1759. The British siege guns have devastated the town, but as counter-battery fire they have been less successful. It is lack of ammunition that does most to silence the French batteries. When called on, they can still give a hot reception to, for instance, ships that try to pass upriver through the narrow; only a few British naval vessels have made the attempt. So the big-gun duel continues. The supply clerk describes today’s action:
The enemy fired with the greatest possible vigour. At one in the afternoon a canonnier-bombardier at the ramparts battery had his legs carried away by a ball. For several days they have fired neither shells nor fire-pots. It would not be surprising if they have run low, considering the quantity they have fired at us.

We have just learned that the enemy has raised its camp at St-Antoine [upriver on the south shore, opposite Pointe-aux-Trembles] and may try farthere upstream. We have heard a lot of cannonry on the Pointe aux Trembles shore but we know nothing of what is going on there.

Colonel de Bougainville is in that area with 1400 men. He moves up and down matching his movements to those of the enemy vessels. He has a lot of terrain to cover. I always fear some surprise.
Louis-Antoine, Comte de Bougainville is just 29 and began his military career just eight year earlier. In his future, he will circumnavigate the globe, have the well-known tropical plant named for him, and narrowly escape the guillotine. He came to New France as Montcalm’s aide-de-camp in 1756, but was rapidly promoted (being a count counts); he is now a colonel. Despite doubts among the professionals about his military training and among colonial officials about his loyalty to Montcalm over Governor Vaudreuil, he has performed effectively as he has received increasing responsibility.

By now he is one of the key sub-commanders in the French force. As the British shift their attention to the north shore upriver from the city, his role in patrolling that area is increasingly vital.

[Correction: St-Antoine above was originally mis-identified as the site of the British Montmorency camp.]
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