When the hockey experts pick their “three stars”, they usually choose two players from the winners and one from the losers. For much of the same reason, history has not given Montcalm and Lévis the recognition they deserve as great soldiers.
François Gaston, Chevalier de Lévis, was one of Montcalm’s most valuable officers. He refused to give up the battle for Canada after the fall of Quebec and spent the winter of 1759-1760 in Montreal building up a new army. The British had not been able to capture Montreal in the autumn of 1759 because the news of Wolfe’s victory at Quebec reached General Amherst too late in the year.
By April 1760, General Lévis had recruited 7,000 men and was ready to try to recapture Quebec. One of his biggest problems was to transport this large force down the St. Lawrence river without being detected. He manage this, somehow or other, and landed at Cap Rouge (where the Quebec Bridge is), on a wild, rainy night.
Unfortunately for Lévis, at this moment one of his men fell overboard, but saved himself by grabbing a large piece of floating ice. A British sloop, patrolling off Quebec, heard the man’s cries and picked him up. He was brought before General Murray, commander of the garrison at Quebec, at three in the morning. He told the general everything. Murray had just enough time to blow up an ammunition dump at Sainte Foy, so that it would not fall into Lévis’ hands, and to set up a line of defence outside the city walls.
The battle of Sainte Foy was fought on April 28, 1760, and was one of the bloodiest in Canadian history. Murray was beaten and had to return to Quebec. Each side lost 1,000 men. Now it was a question of time. Murray hoped he could hold on until British reinforcements could get up the St. Lawrence. Lévis knew he had to bombard the city into submission before that happened. Murray was the victor eventually, because British ships began to arrive on May 10, before Lévis was able to break through. The French had to return to Montreal to get ready to fight again.
You probably want to read more about the battle of Sainte-Foy, so here are a few places to go to for that: there’s Wikipedia, and About.com‘s article by Kennedy Hickman, and Weapons and Warfare blog. And if you’d prefer to hold a book in your hands to learn, there’s Canadian Military Heritage, 1000 – 1754
[…] place on May 9, 1760. Quebec had fallen to Wolfe in September 1759, but now General Lévis (see April 28th‘s post) had struck back. General Murray, defeated in the Battle of Ste Foy, had withdrawn his […]
Levis sounds very heroic, but Montcalm was a more foolish individual. He could have beat Wolfe but was obsessed with a set-piece battle, for this reason left the the security Quebec provided and fought, only to lose.
I agree! Isn’t it interesting? 😉
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I’m confused. Is Gaston a Canadian or British?
He fought for New France (Quebec), and is from France himself … does that make sense?
Oh I see. It makes sense. So the battle is between France and England?
… as most of the battles of the time, it was more between countries than individuals … 🙂
Ok, I got it. Now, I understand what battles are all about. Poor Canada, it became a battle ground. I thought we are just like Switzerland at the time. 😛