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The Father of British Canada: a Chronicle of Carleton by William Wood, CHAPTER V. BELEAGUERMENT 1775-1776 (1)

 

When Carleton finally turned at bay within the walls of Quebec the British flag waved over less than a single one out of the more than a million square miles that had so recently been included within the boundaries of Canada.

The landward walls cut off the last half-mile of the tilted promontory which rises three hundred feet above the St Lawrence but only one hundred above the valley of the St Charles. This promontory is just a thousand yards wide where the landward walls run across it, and not much wider across the world-famous Heights and Plains of Abraham, which then covered the first two miles beyond. The whole position makes one of Nature’s strongholds when the enemy can be kept at arm’s length. But Carleton had no men to spare for more than the actual walls and the narrow little strip of the Lower Town between the base of the cliff and the St Lawrence. So the enemy closed in along the Heights' and among the suburbs, besides occupying any point of vantage they chose across the St Lawrence or St Charles.

The walls were by no means fit to stand a siege, a fact which Carleton had frequently reported.

But, as the Americans had neither the men nor the material for a regular siege, they were obliged to confine themselves to a mere beleaguerment, with the chance of taking Quebec by assault. One of Carleton’s first acts was to proclaim that every able-bodied man refusing to bear arms was to leave the town within four days. But, though this had the desired effect of clearing out nearly all the dangerous rebels, the Americans still believed they had enough sympathizers inside to turn the scale of victory if they could only manage to take the Lower Town, with all its commercial property and shipping, or gain a footing anywhere within the walls.

There were five thousand souls left in Quebec, which was well provisioned for the winter.

The women, children, and men unfit to bear arms numbered three thousand. The 'exempts' amounted to a hundred and eighty. As there was a growing suspicion about many of these last, Carleton paraded them for medical examination at the beginning of March, when, a good deal more than half were found quite fit for duty. These men had been malingering all winter in order to skulk out of danger; so he treated them with extreme leniency in only putting them on duty as a 'company of Invalids.' But the slur stuck fast. The only other exceptions to the general efficiency were a very few instances of cowardice and many more of slackness. The militia order-books have repeated entries about men who turned up late for even important duties as well as about others whose authorized substitutes were no better than themselves. But it should be remembered that, as a whole, the garrison did exceedingly good service and that all the malingerers and serious delinquents together did not amount to more than a tenth of its total, which is a small proportion for such a mixed body.

The effective strength at the beginning of the siege was eighteen hundred of all ranks.

Only one hundred of these belonged to the regular British garrison in Canada—a few staff-officers, twenty-two men of the Royal Artillery, and seventy men of the 7th Royal Fusiliers, a regiment which was to be commanded in Quebec sixteen years later by Queen Victoria’s father, the Duke of Kent. The Fusiliers and two hundred and thirty 'Royal Emigrants' were formed into a little battalion under Colonel Maclean, a first-rate officer and Carleton’s right-hand man in action. 'His Majesty’s Royal Highland Regiment of Emigrants,' which subsequently became the 84th Foot, now known as the 2nd York and Lancaster, was hastily raised in 1775 from the Highland veterans who had settled in the American colonies after the Peace of 1763. Maclean’s two hundred and thirty were the first men he could get together in time to reach Quebec. The only other professional fighters were four hundred blue-jackets and thirty-five marines of H.M.SS. Lizard and Hunter , who were formed into a naval battalion under their own officers, Captains Hamilton and McKenzie, Hamilton being made a lieutenant-colonel and McKenzie a major while doing duty ashore. Fifty masters and mates of trading vessels were enrolled in the same battalion. The whole of the shipping was laid up for the winter in the Cul de Sac, which alone made the Lower Town a prize worth taking. The 'British Militia' mustered three hundred and thirty, the 'Canadian Militia' five hundred and forty-three. These two corps included practically all the official and business classes in Quebec and formed nearly half the total combatants. Some of them took no pay and were not bound to service beyond the neighbourhood of Quebec, thus being very much like the Home Guards raised all over Canada and the rest of the Empire during the Great World War of 1914. All the militia wore dark green coats with buff waistcoats and breeches. The total of eighteen hundred was completed by a hundred and twenty 'artificers,' that is, men who would now belong to the Engineers, Ordnance, and Army Service Corps. As the composition of this garrison has been so often misrepresented, it may be as well to state distinctly that the past or present regulars of all kinds, soldiers and sailors together, numbered eight hundred and the militia and other non-regulars a thousand. The French Canadians, very few of whom were or had been regulars, formed less than a third of the whole.

Montgomery and Arnold had about the same total number of men.

Sometimes there were more, sometimes less. But what made the real difference, and what really turned the scale, was that the Americans had hardly any regulars and that their effectives rarely averaged three-quarters of their total strength. The balance was also against them in the matter of armament. For, though Morgan’s Virginians had many more rifles than were to be found among the British, the Americans in general were not so well off for bayonets and not so well able to use those they had; while the artillery odds were still more against them. Carleton’s artillery was not of the best. But it was better than that of the Americans. He decidedly overmatched them in the combined strength of all kinds of ordnance—cannons, carronades, howitzers, mortars, and swivels. Cannons and howitzers fired shot and shell at any range up to the limit then reached, between two and three miles. Carronades were on the principle of a gigantic shotgun, firing masses of bullets with great effect at very short ranges—less than that of a long musket-shot, then reckoned at two hundred yards. The biggest mortars threw 13-inch 224-lb shells to a great distance. But their main use was for high-angle fire, such as that from the suburb of St Roch under the walls of Quebec. Swivels were the smallest kind of ordnance, firing one-, two-, or three-pound balls at short or medium ranges. They were used at convenient points to stop rushes, much like modern machine-guns.

Thanks chiefly to Cramahe, the defences were not nearly so 'ruinous' as Arnold at first had thought them.

The walls, however useless against the best siege artillery, were formidable enough against irregular troops and makeshift batteries; while the warehouses and shipping in the Lower Town were protected by two stockades, one straight under Cape Diamond, the other at the corner where the Lower Town turns into the valley of the St Charles. The first was called the Pres-de-Ville, the second the Sault-au-Matelot. The shipping was open to bombardment from the Levis shore. But the Americans had no guns to spare for this till April.

Montgomery’s advance was greatly aided by the little flotilla which Easton had captured at Sorel.

Montgomery met Arnold at Pointe-aux-Trembles, twenty miles above Quebec, on the 2nd of December and supplied his little half-clad force with the British uniforms taken at St Johns and Chambly. He was greatly pleased with the magnificent physique of Arnold’s men, the fittest of an originally well-picked lot. He still had some 'pusillanimous wretches' among his own New Yorkers, who resented the air of superiority affected by Arnold’s New Englanders and Morgan’s Virginians. He felt a well-deserved confidence in Livingston and some of the English-speaking Canadian 'patriots' whom Livingston had brought into his camp before St Johns in September. But he began to feel more and more doubtful about the French Canadians, most of whom began to feel more and more doubtful about themselves. On the 6th he arrived before Quebec and took up his quarters in Holland House, two miles beyond the walls, at the far end of the Plains of Abraham. The same day he sent Carleton the following summons:

SIR;—Notwithstanding the personal ill-treatment I have received at your hands—notwithstanding your cruelty to the unhappy Prisoners you have taken, the feelings of humanity induce me to have recourse to this expedient to save you from the Destruction which hangs over you.

Give me leave, Sir, to assure you that I am well acquainted with your situation. A great extent of works, in their nature incapable of defence, manned with a motley crew of sailors, the greatest part our friends; of citizens, who wish to see us within their walls, & a few of the worst troops who ever stiled themselves Soldiers. The impossibility of relief, and the certain prospect of wanting every necessary of life, should your opponents confine their operations to a simple Blockade, point out the absurdity of resistance. Such is your situation! I am at the head of troops accustomed to Success, confident of the righteousness of the cause they are engaged in, inured to danger, & so highly incensed at your inhumanity, illiberal abuse, and the ungenerous means employed to prejudice them in the mind of the Canadians that it is with difficulty I restrain them till my Batteries are ready from assaulting your works, which afford them a fair opportunity of ample vengeance and just retaliation. Firing upon a flag of truce, hitherto unprecedented, even among savages, prevents my taking the ordinary mode of communicating my sentiments. However, I will at any rate acquit my conscience. Should you persist in an unwarrantable defence, the consequences be upon your own head. Beware of destroying stores of any kind, Publick or Private, as you have done at Montreal and in Three Rivers—If you do, by Heaven, there will be no mercy shown.

Though Montgomery wrote bunkum like the common politician of that and many a later age, he was really a brave soldier.

What galled him into fury was 'grave Carleton’s' quiet refusal to recognize either him or any other rebel commander as the accredited leader of a hostile army. It certainly must have been exasperating for the general of the Continental Congress to be reduced to such expedients as tying a grandiloquent ultimatum to an arrow and shooting it into the beleaguered town. The charge of firing on flags of truce was another instance of 'talking for Buncombe.' Carleton never fired on any white flag. But he always sent the same answer: that he could hold no communication with any rebels unless they came to implore the king’s pardon. This, of course, was an aggravation of his offensive calmness in the face of so much revolutionary rage. To individual rebels of all sorts he was, if anything, over-indulgent. He would not burn the suburbs of Quebec till the enemy forced him to it, though many of the houses that gave the Americans the best cover belonged to rebel Canadians. He went out of his way to be kind to all prisoners, especially if sick or wounded. And it was entirely owing to his restraining influence that the friendly Indians had not raided the border settlements of New England during the summer. Nor was he animated only by the very natural desire of bringing back rebellious subjects to what he thought their true allegiance, as his subsequent actions amply proved. He simply acted with the calm dignity and impartial justice which his position required.

Three days before Christmas the bombardment began in earnest.

The non-combatants soon found, to their equal amazement and delight, that a good many shells did very little damage if fired about at random. But news intended to make their flesh creep came in at the same time, and probably had more effect than the shells on the weak-kneed members of the community. Seven hundred scaling-ladders, no quarter if Carleton persisted in holding out, and a prophecy attributed to Montgomery that he would eat his Christmas dinner either in Quebec or in Hell—these were some of the blood-curdling items that came in by petticoat or arrow post. One of the most active purveyors of all this bombast was Jerry Duggan, a Canadian 'patriot' barber now become a Continental major.

But there was a serious side.

Deserters and prisoners, as well as British adherents who had escaped, all began to tell the same tale, though with many variations. Montgomery was evidently bent on storming the walls the first dark night. His own orders showed it.

HEAD QUARTERS, HOLLAND HOUSE.
Near Quebec, 15th Decr.

1755.

The General having in vain offered the most favourable terms of accommodation to the Governor of Quebec, & having taken every possible step to prevail on the inhabitants to desist from seconding him in his wild scheme of defending the Town—for the speedy reduction of the only hold possessed by the Ministerial Troops in this Province—The soldiers, flushed with continual success, confident of the justice of their cause, & relying on that Providence which has uniformly protected them, will advance with alacrity to the attack of works incapable of being defended by the wretched Garrison posted behind them, consisting of Sailors unacquainted with the use of arms, of Citizens incapable of Soldiers' duty, & of a few miserable Emigrants.

The General is confident that a vigorous & spirited attack must be attended with success. The Troops shall have the effects of the Governor, Garrison, & of such as have been active in misleading the Inhabitants & distressing the friends of liberty, equally divided among them, except the 100th share out of the whole, which shall be at the disposal of the General to be given to such soldiers as distinguished themselves by their activity & bravery, to be sold at public auction: the whole to be conducted as soon as the City is in our hands and the inhabitants disarmed.

It was a week after these orders had been written before the first positive news of the threatened assault was brought into town by an escaped British prisoner who, strangely enough, bore the name of Wolfe.

Wolfe’s escape naturally caused a postponement of Montgomery’s design and a further council of war. Unlike most councils of war this one was full of fight. Three feints were to be made at different points while the real attack was to be driven home at Cape Diamond. But just after this decision had been reached two rebel Montrealers came down and, in another debate, carried the day for another plan. These men, Antell and Price, were really responsible for the final plan, which, like its predecessor, did not meet with Montgomery’s approval. Montgomery wanted to make a breach before trying the walls. But he was no more than the chairman of a committee; and this egregious committee first decided to storm the unbroken walls and then changed to an attack on the Lower Town only. Antell was Montgomery’s engineer. Price was a red-hot agitator. Both were better at politics than soldiering. Their argument was that if the Lower Town could be taken the Quebec militia would force Carleton to surrender in order to save the warehouses, shipping, and other valuable property along the waterfront, and that even if Carleton held out in debate he would soon be brought to his knees by the Americans, who would march through the gates, which were to be opened by the 'patriots' inside.

Another week passed; and Montgomery had not eaten his Christmas dinner either in Quebec or in the other place.

But both sides knew the crisis must be fast approaching; for the New Yorkers had sworn that they would not stay a minute later than the end of the year, when their term of enlistment was up. Thus every day that passed made an immediate assault more likely, as Montgomery had to strike before his own men left him. Yet New Year’s Eve itself began without the sign of an alarm.

Carleton had been sleeping in his clothes at the Recollets', night after night, so that he might be first on parade at the general rendezvous on the Place d’Armes, which stood near the top of Mountain Hill, the only road between the Upper and the Lower Town.

Officers and men off duty had been following his example; and every one was ready to turn out at a moment’s notice.

A north-easterly snowstorm was blowing furiously, straight up the St Lawrence, making Quebec a partly seen blur to the nearest American patrols and the Heights of Abraham a wild sea of whirling drifts to the nearest British sentries.

One o’clock passed, and nothing stirred. But when two o’clock struck at Holland House Montgomery rose and began to put the council’s plan in operation. The Lower Town was to be attacked at both ends. The Pres-de-Ville barricade was to be carried by Montgomery and the Sault-au-Matelot by Arnold, while Livingston was to distract Carleton’s attention as much as possible by making a feint against the landward walls, where the British still expected the real attack. Livingston’s Canadian fighting 'patriots' waded through the drifts, against the storm, across the Plains, and took post close in on the far side of Cape Diamond, only eighty yards from the same walls that were to have been stormed some days before. Jerry Duggan’s parasitic Canadian 'patriots' took post in the suburb of St John and thence round to Palace Gate. Montgomery led his own column straight to Wolfe’s Cove, whence he marched in along the narrow path between the cliff and the St Lawrence till he reached the spot at the foot of Cape Diamond just under the right of Livingston’s line. Arnold, whose quarters were in the valley of the St Charles, took post in St Roch, with a mortar battery to fire against the walls and a column of men to storm the Sault-au-Matelot. Livingston’s and Jerry Duggan’s whole command numbered about four hundred men, Montgomery’s five hundred, Arnold’s six. The opposing totals were fifteen hundred Americans against seventeen hundred British. There was considerable risk of confusion between friend and foe, as most of the Americans, especially Arnold’s men, wore captured British uniforms with nothing to distinguish them but odds and ends of their former kits and a sort of paper hatband bearing the inscription  Liberty or Death .

A little after four the sentries on the walls at Cape Diamond saw lights flashing about in front of them and were just going to call the guard when Captain Malcolm Fraser of the Royal Emigrants came by on his rounds and saw other lights being set out in regular order like lamps in a street.

He instantly turned out the guards and pickets. The drums beat to arms. Every church bell in the city pealed forth its alarm into that wild night. The bugles blew. The men off duty swarmed on to the Place d’Armes, where Carleton, calm and intrepid as ever, took post with the general reserve and waited. There was nothing for him to do just yet. Everything that could have been foreseen had already been amply provided for; and in his quiet confidence his followers found their own.

Towards five o’clock two green rockets shot up from Montgomery’s position beside the Anse des Meres under Cape Diamond.

This was the signal for attack. Montgomery’s column immediately struggled on again along the path leading round the foot of the Cape towards the Pres-de-Ville barricade. Livingston’s serious 'patriots' on the top of the Cape changed their dropping shots into a hot fire against the walls; while Jerry Duggan’s little mob of would-be looters shouted and blazed away from safer cover in the suburbs of St John and St Roch. Arnold’s mortars pitched shells all over the town; while his storming-party advanced towards the Sault-au-Matelot barricade. Carleton, naturally anxious about the landward walls, sent some of the British militia to reinforce the men at Cape Diamond, which, as he knew, Montgomery considered the best point of attack. The walls lower down did not seem to be in any danger from Jerry Duggan’s 'patriots,' whose noisy demonstration was at once understood to be nothing but an empty feint. The walls facing the St Charles were well manned and well gunned by the naval battalion. Those facing the St Lawrence, though weak in themselves, were practically impregnable, as the cliffs could not be scaled by any formed body. The Lower Town, however, was by no means so safe, in spite of its two barricades. The general uproar was now so great that Carleton could not distinguish the firing there from what was going on elsewhere. But it was at these two points that the real attack was rapidly developing.


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When Carleton finally turned at bay within the walls of Quebec the British flag waved over less than a single one out of the more than a million square miles that had so recently been included within the boundaries of Canada.

The landward walls cut off the last half-mile of the tilted promontory which rises three hundred feet above the St Lawrence but only one hundred above the valley of the St Charles. This promontory is just a thousand yards wide where the landward walls run across it, and not much wider across the world-famous Heights and Plains of Abraham, which then covered the first two miles beyond. The whole position makes one of Nature’s strongholds when the enemy can be kept at arm’s length. But Carleton had no men to spare for more than the actual walls and the narrow little strip of the Lower Town between the base of the cliff and the St Lawrence. So the enemy closed in along the Heights' and among the suburbs, besides occupying any point of vantage they chose across the St Lawrence or St Charles.

The walls were by no means fit to stand a siege, a fact which Carleton had frequently reported.

But, as the Americans had neither the men nor the material for a regular siege, they were obliged to confine themselves to a mere beleaguerment, with the chance of taking Quebec by assault. One of Carleton’s first acts was to proclaim that every able-bodied man refusing to bear arms was to leave the town within four days. But, though this had the desired effect of clearing out nearly all the dangerous rebels, the Americans still believed they had enough sympathizers inside to turn the scale of victory if they could only manage to take the Lower Town, with all its commercial property and shipping, or gain a footing anywhere within the walls.

There were five thousand souls left in Quebec, which was well provisioned for the winter.

The women, children, and men unfit to bear arms numbered three thousand. The 'exempts' amounted to a hundred and eighty. As there was a growing suspicion about many of these last, Carleton paraded them for medical examination at the beginning of March, when, a good deal more than half were found quite fit for duty. These men had been malingering all winter in order to skulk out of danger; so he treated them with extreme leniency in only putting them on duty as a 'company of Invalids.' But the slur stuck fast. The only other exceptions to the general efficiency were a very few instances of cowardice and many more of slackness. The militia order-books have repeated entries about men who turned up late for even important duties as well as about others whose authorized substitutes were no better than themselves. But it should be remembered that, as a whole, the garrison did exceedingly good service and that all the malingerers and serious delinquents together did not amount to more than a tenth of its total, which is a small proportion for such a mixed body.

The effective strength at the beginning of the siege was eighteen hundred of all ranks.

Only one hundred of these belonged to the regular British garrison in Canada—a few staff-officers, twenty-two men of the Royal Artillery, and seventy men of the 7th Royal Fusiliers, a regiment which was to be commanded in Quebec sixteen years later by Queen Victoria’s father, the Duke of Kent. The Fusiliers and two hundred and thirty 'Royal Emigrants' were formed into a little battalion under Colonel Maclean, a first-rate officer and Carleton’s right-hand man in action. 'His Majesty’s Royal Highland Regiment of Emigrants,' which subsequently became the 84th Foot, now known as the 2nd York and Lancaster, was hastily raised in 1775 from the Highland veterans who had settled in the American colonies after the Peace of 1763. Maclean’s two hundred and thirty were the first men he could get together in time to reach Quebec. The only other professional fighters were four hundred blue-jackets and thirty-five marines of H.M.SS. Lizard and Hunter , who were formed into a naval battalion under their own officers, Captains Hamilton and McKenzie, Hamilton being made a lieutenant-colonel and McKenzie a major while doing duty ashore. Fifty masters and mates of trading vessels were enrolled in the same battalion. The whole of the shipping was laid up for the winter in the Cul de Sac, which alone made the Lower Town a prize worth taking. The 'British Militia' mustered three hundred and thirty, the 'Canadian Militia' five hundred and forty-three. These two corps included practically all the official and business classes in Quebec and formed nearly half the total combatants. Some of them took no pay and were not bound to service beyond the neighbourhood of Quebec, thus being very much like the Home Guards raised all over Canada and the rest of the Empire during the Great World War of 1914. All the militia wore dark green coats with buff waistcoats and breeches. The total of eighteen hundred was completed by a hundred and twenty 'artificers,' that is, men who would now belong to the Engineers, Ordnance, and Army Service Corps. As the composition of this garrison has been so often misrepresented, it may be as well to state distinctly that the past or present regulars of all kinds, soldiers and sailors together, numbered eight hundred and the militia and other non-regulars a thousand. The French Canadians, very few of whom were or had been regulars, formed less than a third of the whole.

Montgomery and Arnold had about the same total number of men.

Sometimes there were more, sometimes less. But what made the real difference, and what really turned the scale, was that the Americans had hardly any regulars and that their effectives rarely averaged three-quarters of their total strength. The balance was also against them in the matter of armament. For, though Morgan’s Virginians had many more rifles than were to be found among the British, the Americans in general were not so well off for bayonets and not so well able to use those they had; while the artillery odds were still more against them. Carleton’s artillery was not of the best. But it was better than that of the Americans. He decidedly overmatched them in the combined strength of all kinds of ordnance—cannons, carronades, howitzers, mortars, and swivels. Cannons and howitzers fired shot and shell at any range up to the limit then reached, between two and three miles. Carronades were on the principle of a gigantic shotgun, firing masses of bullets with great effect at very short ranges—less than that of a long musket-shot, then reckoned at two hundred yards. The biggest mortars threw 13-inch 224-lb shells to a great distance. But their main use was for high-angle fire, such as that from the suburb of St Roch under the walls of Quebec. Swivels were the smallest kind of ordnance, firing one-, two-, or three-pound balls at short or medium ranges. They were used at convenient points to stop rushes, much like modern machine-guns.

Thanks chiefly to Cramahe, the defences were not nearly so 'ruinous' as Arnold at first had thought them.

The walls, however useless against the best siege artillery, were formidable enough against irregular troops and makeshift batteries; while the warehouses and shipping in the Lower Town were protected by two stockades, one straight under Cape Diamond, the other at the corner where the Lower Town turns into the valley of the St Charles. The first was called the Pres-de-Ville, the second the Sault-au-Matelot. The shipping was open to bombardment from the Levis shore. But the Americans had no guns to spare for this till April.

Montgomery’s advance was greatly aided by the little flotilla which Easton had captured at Sorel.

Montgomery met Arnold at Pointe-aux-Trembles, twenty miles above Quebec, on the 2nd of December and supplied his little half-clad force with the British uniforms taken at St Johns and Chambly. He was greatly pleased with the magnificent physique of Arnold’s men, the fittest of an originally well-picked lot. He still had some 'pusillanimous wretches' among his own New Yorkers, who resented the air of superiority affected by Arnold’s New Englanders and Morgan’s Virginians. He felt a well-deserved confidence in Livingston and some of the English-speaking Canadian 'patriots' whom Livingston had brought into his camp before St Johns in September. But he began to feel more and more doubtful about the French Canadians, most of whom began to feel more and more doubtful about themselves. On the 6th he arrived before Quebec and took up his quarters in Holland House, two miles beyond the walls, at the far end of the Plains of Abraham. The same day he sent Carleton the following summons:

SIR;—Notwithstanding the personal ill-treatment I have received at your hands—notwithstanding your cruelty to the unhappy Prisoners you have taken, the feelings of humanity induce me to have recourse to this expedient to save you from the Destruction which hangs over you.

Give me leave, Sir, to assure you that I am well acquainted with your situation. A great extent of works, in their nature incapable of defence, manned with a motley crew of sailors, the greatest part our friends; of citizens, who wish to see us within their walls, & a few of the worst troops who ever stiled themselves Soldiers. The impossibility of relief, and the certain prospect of wanting every necessary of life, should your opponents confine their operations to a simple Blockade, point out the absurdity of resistance. Such is your situation! I am at the head of troops accustomed to Success, confident of the righteousness of the cause they are engaged in, inured to danger, & so highly incensed at your inhumanity, illiberal abuse, and the ungenerous means employed to prejudice them in the mind of the Canadians that it is with difficulty I restrain them till my Batteries are ready from assaulting your works, which afford them a fair opportunity of ample vengeance and just retaliation. Firing upon a flag of truce, hitherto unprecedented, even among savages, prevents my taking the ordinary mode of communicating my sentiments. However, I will at any rate acquit my conscience. Should you persist in an unwarrantable defence, the consequences be upon your own head. Beware of destroying stores of any kind, Publick or Private, as you have done at Montreal and in Three Rivers—If you do, by Heaven, there will be no mercy shown.

Though Montgomery wrote bunkum like the common politician of that and many a later age, he was really a brave soldier.

What galled him into fury was 'grave Carleton’s' quiet refusal to recognize either him or any other rebel commander as the accredited leader of a hostile army. It certainly must have been exasperating for the general of the Continental Congress to be reduced to such expedients as tying a grandiloquent ultimatum to an arrow and shooting it into the beleaguered town. The charge of firing on flags of truce was another instance of 'talking for Buncombe.' Carleton never fired on any white flag. But he always sent the same answer: that he could hold no communication with any rebels unless they came to implore the king’s pardon. This, of course, was an aggravation of his offensive calmness in the face of so much revolutionary rage. To individual rebels of all sorts he was, if anything, over-indulgent. He would not burn the suburbs of Quebec till the enemy forced him to it, though many of the houses that gave the Americans the best cover belonged to rebel Canadians. He went out of his way to be kind to all prisoners, especially if sick or wounded. And it was entirely owing to his restraining influence that the friendly Indians had not raided the border settlements of New England during the summer. Nor was he animated only by the very natural desire of bringing back rebellious subjects to what he thought their true allegiance, as his subsequent actions amply proved. He simply acted with the calm dignity and impartial justice which his position required.

Three days before Christmas the bombardment began in earnest.

The non-combatants soon found, to their equal amazement and delight, that a good many shells did very little damage if fired about at random. But news intended to make their flesh creep came in at the same time, and probably had more effect than the shells on the weak-kneed members of the community. Seven hundred scaling-ladders, no quarter if Carleton persisted in holding out, and a prophecy attributed to Montgomery that he would eat his Christmas dinner either in Quebec or in Hell—these were some of the blood-curdling items that came in by petticoat or arrow post. One of the most active purveyors of all this bombast was Jerry Duggan, a Canadian 'patriot' barber now become a Continental major.

But there was a serious side.

Deserters and prisoners, as well as British adherents who had escaped, all began to tell the same tale, though with many variations. Montgomery was evidently bent on storming the walls the first dark night. His own orders showed it.

HEAD QUARTERS, HOLLAND HOUSE.
Near Quebec, 15th Decr.

1755.

The General having in vain offered the most favourable terms of accommodation to the Governor of Quebec, & having taken every possible step to prevail on the inhabitants to desist from seconding him in his wild scheme of defending the Town—for the speedy reduction of the only hold possessed by the Ministerial Troops in this Province—The soldiers, flushed with continual success, confident of the justice of their cause, & relying on that Providence which has uniformly protected them, will advance with alacrity to the attack of works incapable of being defended by the wretched Garrison posted behind them, consisting of Sailors unacquainted with the use of arms, of Citizens incapable of Soldiers' duty, & of a few miserable Emigrants.

The General is confident that a vigorous & spirited attack must be attended with success. The Troops shall have the effects of the Governor, Garrison, & of such as have been active in misleading the Inhabitants & distressing the friends of liberty, equally divided among them, except the 100th share out of the whole, which shall be at the disposal of the General to be given to such soldiers as distinguished themselves by their activity & bravery, to be sold at public auction: the whole to be conducted as soon as the City is in our hands and the inhabitants disarmed.

It was a week after these orders had been written before the first positive news of the threatened assault was brought into town by an escaped British prisoner who, strangely enough, bore the name of Wolfe.

Wolfe’s escape naturally caused a postponement of Montgomery’s design and a further council of war. Unlike most councils of war this one was full of fight. Three feints were to be made at different points while the real attack was to be driven home at Cape Diamond. But just after this decision had been reached two rebel Montrealers came down and, in another debate, carried the day for another plan. These men, Antell and Price, were really responsible for the final plan, which, like its predecessor, did not meet with Montgomery’s approval. Montgomery wanted to make a breach before trying the walls. But he was no more than the chairman of a committee; and this egregious committee first decided to storm the unbroken walls and then changed to an attack on the Lower Town only. Antell was Montgomery’s engineer. Price was a red-hot agitator. Both were better at politics than soldiering. Their argument was that if the Lower Town could be taken the Quebec militia would force Carleton to surrender in order to save the warehouses, shipping, and other valuable property along the waterfront, and that even if Carleton held out in debate he would soon be brought to his knees by the Americans, who would march through the gates, which were to be opened by the 'patriots' inside.

Another week passed; and Montgomery had not eaten his Christmas dinner either in Quebec or in the other place.

But both sides knew the crisis must be fast approaching; for the New Yorkers had sworn that they would not stay a minute later than the end of the year, when their term of enlistment was up. Thus every day that passed made an immediate assault more likely, as Montgomery had to strike before his own men left him. Yet New Year’s Eve itself began without the sign of an alarm.

Carleton had been sleeping in his clothes at the Recollets', night after night, so that he might be first on parade at the general rendezvous on the Place d’Armes, which stood near the top of Mountain Hill, the only road between the Upper and the Lower Town.

Officers and men off duty had been following his example; and every one was ready to turn out at a moment’s notice.

A north-easterly snowstorm was blowing furiously, straight up the St Lawrence, making Quebec a partly seen blur to the nearest American patrols and the Heights of Abraham a wild sea of whirling drifts to the nearest British sentries.

One o’clock passed, and nothing stirred. But when two o’clock struck at Holland House Montgomery rose and began to put the council’s plan in operation. The Lower Town was to be attacked at both ends. The Pres-de-Ville barricade was to be carried by Montgomery and the Sault-au-Matelot by Arnold, while Livingston was to distract Carleton’s attention as much as possible by making a feint against the landward walls, where the British still expected the real attack. Livingston’s Canadian fighting 'patriots' waded through the drifts, against the storm, across the Plains, and took post close in on the far side of Cape Diamond, only eighty yards from the same walls that were to have been stormed some days before. Jerry Duggan’s parasitic Canadian 'patriots' took post in the suburb of St John and thence round to Palace Gate. Montgomery led his own column straight to Wolfe’s Cove, whence he marched in along the narrow path between the cliff and the St Lawrence till he reached the spot at the foot of Cape Diamond just under the right of Livingston’s line. Arnold, whose quarters were in the valley of the St Charles, took post in St Roch, with a mortar battery to fire against the walls and a column of men to storm the Sault-au-Matelot. Livingston’s and Jerry Duggan’s whole command numbered about four hundred men, Montgomery’s five hundred, Arnold’s six. The opposing totals were fifteen hundred Americans against seventeen hundred British. There was considerable risk of confusion between friend and foe, as most of the Americans, especially Arnold’s men, wore captured British uniforms with nothing to distinguish them but odds and ends of their former kits and a sort of paper hatband bearing the inscription  Liberty or Death .

A little after four the sentries on the walls at Cape Diamond saw lights flashing about in front of them and were just going to call the guard when Captain Malcolm Fraser of the Royal Emigrants came by on his rounds and saw other lights being set out in regular order like lamps in a street.

He instantly turned out the guards and pickets. The drums beat to arms. Every church bell in the city pealed forth its alarm into that wild night. The bugles blew. The men off duty swarmed on to the Place d’Armes, where Carleton, calm and intrepid as ever, took post with the general reserve and waited. There was nothing for him to do just yet. Everything that could have been foreseen had already been amply provided for; and in his quiet confidence his followers found their own.

Towards five o’clock two green rockets shot up from Montgomery’s position beside the Anse des Meres under Cape Diamond.

This was the signal for attack. Montgomery’s column immediately struggled on again along the path leading round the foot of the Cape towards the Pres-de-Ville barricade. Livingston’s serious 'patriots' on the top of the Cape changed their dropping shots into a hot fire against the walls; while Jerry Duggan’s little mob of would-be looters shouted and blazed away from safer cover in the suburbs of St John and St Roch. Arnold’s mortars pitched shells all over the town; while his storming-party advanced towards the Sault-au-Matelot barricade. Carleton, naturally anxious about the landward walls, sent some of the British militia to reinforce the men at Cape Diamond, which, as he knew, Montgomery considered the best point of attack. The walls lower down did not seem to be in any danger from Jerry Duggan’s 'patriots,' whose noisy demonstration was at once understood to be nothing but an empty feint. The walls facing the St Charles were well manned and well gunned by the naval battalion. Those facing the St Lawrence, though weak in themselves, were practically impregnable, as the cliffs could not be scaled by any formed body. The Lower Town, however, was by no means so safe, in spite of its two barricades. The general uproar was now so great that Carleton could not distinguish the firing there from what was going on elsewhere. But it was at these two points that the real attack was rapidly developing.

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