Quotulatiousness

September 12, 2009

The untold story from the Plains of Abraham

Filed under: Cancon, History, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:03

Desmond Morton points out that one of the most interesting parts of the battle — after both Wolfe and Montcalm had become casualties — is almost unknown today:

What happened next? Suddenly French soldiers knew: they would die. The chill of terror that dissolved British regulars in earlier battles now struck Montcalm’s men. A British cannon shell smashed their general’s side. As soldiers lugged Montcalm back to Quebec, they were jostled by terrified whitecoats fleeing for their lives.

Bayonets glinting, the British followed at their heels. On the left, Fraser’s Highlanders dropped their muskets, drew their heavy claymores, and raced forward with blood-curdling screams to cut off a French escape to Beauport.

This is as much of the battle as most historians report. What more do you need?

Montcalm died before dawn on the 14th. Hit again, probably by a Canadien militiaman, Wolfe died as the French ranks dissolved. Fighting on the Plains continued until dusk, sustained by Canadien militia and their native allies. When Quebec sovereignists killed plans to re-enact the battle they helped keep that heroic story secret. Perhaps they had no idea that it happened. When French regulars fled, the militia fought on.

Five times they stopped Fraser’s terrifying Highlanders from slaughtering the terrified regulars. Thanks to their despised militia and aboriginal allies, Montcalm’s French regulars could safely stop at Beauport, catch their breath, and begin a long, dreary march back to Montreal to prepare for another year of war. Did the separatists not want anyone to know?

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