Plains of Abraham

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Plains of Abraham

PLAINS OF ABRAHAM. 13 September 1759. On the night of 12-13 September 1759, forty-five hundred British troops led by Major General James Wolfe landed in a cove on the north side of the St. Lawrence above Quebec City and managed to climb the bluff to a thousand-yard-wide, relatively level area about a mile from the western walls of the city. Wolfe's reckless plan put the bulk of the army that had invested Quebec since 28 June in an untenable position; it could not be resupplied, French light forces were closing on its rear; and the impregnable walls of the city were to its front. Wolfe was saved from disaster and ignominy by the even more foolish response of the French commander, the marquis de Montcalm, who unaccountably decided to accept Wolfe's offer of battle. The French fought valiantly, some approaching to as close as forty yards from the British line, which stood stock-still, reserving its fire until the French were close enough. When the British opened fire with rolling platoon volleys and in some cases with volleys by entire regiments, the French line shattered and the men fled to safety behind the walls of Quebec. Both Wolfe and Montcalm were mortally wounded. Wolfe's senior unwounded subordinate, Brigadier General George Townshend, called off the pursuit and set about besieging the city from the west. The French were so rattled that they capitulated without resistance on 18 September 1759.

SEE ALSO Colonial Wars; Wolfe, James.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754–1766. New York: Knopf, 2000.

                              revised by Harold E. Selesky

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ABRAHAM, PLAINS OF

ABRAHAM, PLAINS OF, on the west side of the city of Quebec, were named after Abraham Martin, a Quebec pilot, who once owned part of the land. They were the scene, in 1759, of the battle for the heavily fortressed and seemingly impregnable city of Quebec, which, when it fell, brought an end to the dream of French empire in North America. In addition, the battle resulted in the death of two great generals, James Wolfe of Great Britain and Louis Joseph de Montcalm of France. The site is now a Canadian national park.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Lloyd, Christopher. The Capture of Quebec. London: Batsford, 1959.

Donaldson, Gordon. Battle for a Continent: Quebec 1759. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1973.

Lawrence J.Burpee/c. w.

See alsoFrench and Indian War ; New France ; Quebec, Capture of .

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Plains of Abraham

PLAINS OF ABRAHAM. 28 April 1760. Brigadier General James Murray, who commanded the British garrison of Quebec City over the winter of 1759–1760, sought to stop a French force advancing from Montreal, under the chevalier de Levis, first at the village of Ste. Foy, six miles from Quebec (from which an alternate name of the ensuing battle is derived). Murray pulled back, however, to the Plains of Abraham about a mile from the city, roughly the same site on which James Wolfe had defeated the marquis de Montcalm on 13 September 1759. The Second Battle of Quebec was much more sanguinary than the first, and it resulted in a British defeat that left Murray penned up in Quebec. The British kept control of Quebec, and with it the base from which to launch the conquest of the remainder of New France, only because the first ship to make its way up the still ice-choked St. Lawrence that spring, on 12 May, was a British vessel, HMS Vanguard.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754–1766. New York: Knopf, 2000.

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Plains of Abraham

PLAINS OF ABRAHAM. 15 November 1775. After completing his famous march from Boston across Maine to Quebec city, Benedict Arnold crossed the St. Lawrence with seven hundred men, climbed the bluffs west of Quebec City, and established himself roughly on the same piece of relatively flat ground where the British under James Wolfe had defeated the French under the marquis de Montcalm sixteen years earlier (13 September 1759). His attempt to bluff the Quebec garrison into surrender was unsuccessful.

SEE ALSO Arnold, Benedict; Arnold's March to Quebec; Canada Invasion.

                       revised by Harold E. Selesky

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Plains of Abraham

PLAINS OF ABRAHAM. 6 May 1776. At the end of a long winter in which Quebec City was loosely besieged by American forces, Major General Guy Carleton sallied forth from the city with 900 men and 4 guns. Carleton's forces routed the remaining 250 disease-ridden American soldiers under Major General John Thomas.

SEE ALSO Canada Invasion; Carleton, Guy; Thomas, John.

                      revised by Harold E. Selesky

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Plains of Abraham, fairly level field adjoining the upper part of the city of Quebec, Canada. There, in 1759, the English under Gen. James Wolfe defeated the French under Gen. Louis Montcalm. The battle decided the last of the French and Indian Wars and led to British supremacy in Canada. Part of the battle site is now built over, but a part is preserved as a national park.

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Plains of Abraham: see Abraham, Plains of.