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Québec, Battle of

Québec, Battle of (1759).In the French and Indian War, conquest of New France presupposed the capture of Québec, the citadel controlling access to the St. Lawrence River. Late in June 1759, 141 British warships and transports brought nearly 9,000 regulars and provincials, commanded by Maj. Gen. James Wolfe, to challenge nearly 16,000 defenders under Gen. Louis‐Joseph, marquis de Montcalm. For more than two months the British bombarded the city, destroyed farms, and attempted landings, without luring the French from their formidable defenses.

On 13 September, a desperate General Wolfe led 4,400 troops in a risky night landing, scaled a 150‐foot cliff, and secured an exposed position. On the Plains of Abraham outside the fortress, Montcalm, acting with uncharacteristic haste, attacked with forces that barely outnumbered the British. The battle lasted half an hour and killed 658 British and 644 French, with Wolfe among the dead and Montcalm among the dying, but it proved a British victory.

With British control of the Plains of Abraham, four days later the French surrendered the still‐defensible city. Viewed by some as a coup de grâce to a crippled empire, and by others as a preliminary victory, the battle is generally seen as the poignant climax of the Anglo‐French struggle for North America.


C. P. Stacey , Quebec, 1759: The Siege and the Battle, 1959.

Ian K. Steele

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