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houses, volunteered to pass over the river and destroy the works; but, at the trial, their courage failed them, and they
retreated. The English, by the discharge of red-hot 1759. balls and shells, set on fire fifty houses in a night, de: molished the lower town, and injured the upper; but the citadel was beyond their reach, and every avenue from the river to the cliff was too strongly intrenched for an assault.
As yet no real progress had been made. Wolfe was eager for battle, being willing to risk all his hopes on the issue. He saw that the eastern bank of the Montmorenci was higher than the ground occupied by Montcalm, and, on the ninth, he crossed the north channel and encamped there; but the armies and their chiefs were still divided by the river precipitating itself down its rocky way in impassable eddies and rapids. Three miles in the interior, a ford was found; but the opposite bank was steep, woody, and well intrenched. Not a spot on the line of the Montmorenci for miles into the interior, nor on the St. Lawrence to Quebec, was left unprotected by the vigilance of the inaccessible Montcalm.
The general proceeded to reconnoitre the shore above the town. In concert with Saunders, on the eighteenth he sailed along the well-fortified bank from Montmorenci to the St. Charles ; he passed the deep and spacious harbor, which, at four hundred miles from the sea, can shelter a hundred ships of the line; he neared the high cliff of Cape Diamond, towering like a bastion over the waters and surmounted by the banner of the Bourbons; he coasted along the craggy wall of rock that extends beyond the citadel; he marked the outline of the precipitous hill that forms the north bank of the river: and everywhere he beheld a natural fastness, vigilantly defended; intrenchments, cannon, boats, and floating batteries guarding every access. Had a detachment landed between the city and Cape Rouge, it would have encountered the danger of being cut off before it could receive support. He would have risked a landing at St. Michael's Cove, three miles above the city, but the enemy prevented him by planting artillery and a mortar to play upon the shipping.
Meantime, at midnight, on the twenty-eighth, the French sent down a raft of fire-stages, consisting of nearly a hundred pieces ; but these, like the fire-ships a month before, did but light up the river, without injuring the British fleet. Scarcely a day passed but there were skirmishes of the English with the Indians and Canadians, who trod stealthily in the footsteps of every exploring party.
Wolfe returned to Montmorenci. July was almost 1759. gone, and he had made no effective advances. He resolved on an engagement. The Montmorenci, after falling over a perpendicular rock, flows for three hundred yards, amidst clouds of spray and rainbow glories, in a gentle stream to the St. Lawrence. Near the junction, the river may, for a few hours of the tide, be passed on foot. It was planned that two brigades should ford the Montmorenci at the proper time of the tide, while Monckton's regiments should cross the St. Lawrence in boats from Point Levi. The signal was made, but some of the boats grounded on a ledge of rocks that runs out into the river. While the seamen were getting them off, and the enemy were firing a vast number of shot and shells, Wolfe, with some of the navy officers as companions, selected a landing-place; and his desperate courage thought it not yet too late to begin the attack. Thirteen companies of grenadiers, and two hundred of the second battalion of the royal Americans, who got first on shore, not waiting for support, ran hastily towards the intrenchments, and were repulsed in such disorder that they could not again come into line; though Monckton's regiments had arrived, and had formed with the coolness of invincible valor. But hours hurried by; night was near; the clouds of midsummer gathered heavily, as if for a storm; the tide rose; and Wolfe, wiser than Frederic at Colin, ordered a timely retreat. A strand of deep mud; a hillside, steep, and in many places impracticable; the heavy fire of a brave, numerous, and well-protected enemy, — were obstacles which intrepidity and discipline could not overcome. In general orders, Wolfe censured the impetuosity of the grenadiers ; he praised the coolness of Monckton's regiments, as able alone to beat back the whole Canadian army.
This severe check, in which four hundred lives were
lost, happened on the last day of July. Murray was next sent, with twelve hundred men, above the town,
to destroy the French ships and open a communication with Amherst. Twice he attempted a landing on the north shore, without success; at Deschambault, a place of refuge for women and children, he won advantages over a guard of invalid soldiers, and learned that Niagara had surrendered, that the French had abandoned Ticonderoga and Crown Point. The eyes of Wolfe were strained to see Amherst approach. Vain hope! The commander in chief, though opposed by no more than three thousand men, was loitering at Crown Point; nor did even a messenger from him arrive. Wolfe was alone to struggle with difficulties which every hour made more appalling. The numerous body of armed men under Montcalm “could not,” he said, “ be called an army ;” but the French had the strongest country, perhaps, in the world, on which to rest the defence of the town. Their boats were numerous, and weak points were guarded by floating batteries; the keen eye of the Indian prevented surprise ; the vigilance and hardihood of the Canadians made intrenchments everywhere necessary. The peasantry were zealous to defend their homes, language, and religion; old men of seventy and boys of fifteen fired at the English detachments from the edges of the wood; every one able to bear arms was in the field. Little quarter was given on either side. Thus for two months the British fleet had ridden idly at anchor, the army had lain in their tents. The feeble frame of Wolfe sunk under the energy of his restless spirit, and the pain of anxious inactivity.
Yet, while disabled by fever, he laid before the brigadiers three several and equally desperate methods of attacking Montcalm in his intrenchments at Beauport. Meeting at Monckton's quarters, they wisely and unanimously gave their opinions against them all, and advised to convey four or five thousand men above the town, and thus draw Montcalm from his impregnable situation to an open action. Wolfe acquiesced in their proposal; and, with despair in his heart, yet as one conscious that he lived under the eye of Pitt and of his country, he prepared to carry it into effect. Attended by the admiral, he examined once more the citadel, with a view to a general assault. Although every one of the five passages from the lower to the upper town was carefully intrenched, Saunders was willing to join in any hazard for the public service; “ but I could not propose to him," said Wolfe," an undertaking of so dangerous a nature and promising so little success." He had the whole force of Canada to oppose, and, by the nature of the river, the fleet could render no assistance. “In this situation,” wrote Wolfe to Pitt, on the second of September, “there is 1759 such a choice of difficulties, that I am myself at a loss how to determine. The affairs of Great Britain require most vigorous measures; but, then, the courage of a handful of brave men should be exerted only where there is some hope.” England read the despatch with dismay, and feared to hear further tidings.
Securing the posts on the Isle of Orleans and opposite Quebec, he marched, with the army, on the fifth and sixth of September, from Point Levi, to which place he had transferred all the troops from Montmorenci, and embarked them in transports that had passed the town for the purpose. On the three following days, Admiral Holmes, with the ships, ascended the river to amuse De Bougainville, who had been sent up the north shore to watch the movements of the British army, and prevent a landing New France began to feel joy, believing the worst dangers of the campaign over. De Levi, the second officer in command, was sent to protect Montreal, with a detachment, it was said, of three thousand men. Summer, which in that climate hurries through the sky, was over; and the British fleet must soon withdraw from the river. “My constitution," wrote the general to Holdernesse, on the ninth, just four days before his death, “is entirely ruined, without the consolation of having done any considerable service to the state, and without any prospect of it.”
But, in the mean time, Wolfe applied himself intently to reconnoitring the north shore above Quebec. Nature had given him good eyes, as well as a warmth of temper to
follow first impressions. He himself discovered the cove which now bears his name, where the bending promontories almost form a basin, with a very narrow margin, over which the hill rises precipitously. He saw the path that wound up the steep, though so narrow that two men could hardly march in it abreast; and he knew, by the number of tents which he counted on the summit, that the Canadian post which guarded it could not exceed a hundred. Here he resolved to land his army by surprise. To mislead the enemy, his troops were kept far above the town; while Saunders, as if an attack was intended at Beauport, set Cook, the great mariner, with others, to sound the water and plant buoys along that shore.
The day and night of the twelfth were employed 1759.
e in preparations. The autumn evening was bright; and the general, under the clear starlight, visited his stations, to make his final inspection and utter his last words of encouragement. As he passed from ship to ship, he spoke to those in the boat with him of the poet Gray, and the “ Elegy in a Country Churchyard.” “Ī,” said he, 66 would prefer being the author of that poem to the glory of beating the French to-morrow ;” and, while the oars struck the river as it rippled in the silence of the night air under the flowing tide, he repeated :
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave. Every officer knew his appointed duty, when, at one o'clock in the morning of the thirteenth of September, Wolfe, Monckton, and Murray, and about half the forces, set off in boats, and, using neither sail nor oars, glided down with the tide. In three quarters of an hour the ships followed; and, though the night had become dark, aided by the rapid current, they reached the cove just in time to cover the landing. Wolfe and the troops with him leaped on shore; the light infantry, who found themselves borne by the current a little below the intrenched path, clambered up the steep hill, staying themselves by the roots and