Their Hands Froze To Their Shovels

Montcalm leading his troops at Quebec.
Montcalm leading his troops at Quebec. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although Wolfe won the Battle of the Plains of Abraham on September 13, 1759, the city was not occupied until September 19.  Wolfe had died on the field of battle, but Montcalm, fatally wounded but still mounted on his black horse, was brought back into Quebec supported by two men.

Before dying, he had time to send a message to General Townsend asking him to be kind to the French sick and wounded, and to carry out an agreement for an exchange of prisoners.  His body was placed in a crude wooden box and buried in a convent.  A British shell had come through the roof and blasted a hole in the ground large enough to make a grave. Wolfe’s death may have been due to the fact that he wore a new uniform, against the advice of his officers.  He was a marked man when he led the Louisburg Grenadiers in the attack.   Wolfe was wounded in the wrist and groin before the fatal bullet pierced his lungs.

By the middle of October it was time for the ships to sail for Britain or be frozen in the St. Lawrence for the winter.  Admiral Saunders sailed, taking Townsend with him and leaving General Murray in charge.  Murray was Governor of Canada until 1766, when he was recalled, although he continued to be paid as governor for eight years after that date.

The first winter in Quebec was miserable because the city had been so badly damaged by nearly ten weeks of bombardment.  Food and fuel were scarce.  Murray had nearly 7,000 troops to look after, as well as 4,000 citizens who  chose to stay in Quebec and take the oath of allegiance.  Murray was very strict with his troops.  Any soldier found guilty of robbing a French citizen was hanged.  Officers were instructed to lift their hats when a religious procession went by.  If they did not want to do that, they had to get out of sight until the procession passed.

Actually, the British soldiers got on well with the French and worked with them in the fields, helping to bring in the harvest.  They were not equipped for winter, however.  Their hands froze to the shovels when they had to go into the forests to get wood for fuel.  There was so much sickness that Murray’s forces had been reduced to half by the middle of winter.

To learn more about today’s post, I suggest visiting British Battles, and the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, as well as the Canada Free Press.


  1. Reblogged this on therapy and stuff and commented:
    Post of the week comes from Bite Size Canada. The post is representative of what the site has to offer. Informative and just enough to entertain me during my 15 minutes of free time. Follow this blog for a daily dose of cool and interesting. If anyone knows of a blog that does the same thing for other countries, post the addy in comments section please – no “this day in history” blogs.

    Post of the Week. Posts for this feature are selected each week and posted on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Posts selected are not necessarily featured the week they were originally posted.


  2. One doesn’t realize or think about how much war and fighting took place in North America, especially in what would become your country. That’s a great deal of the fascination of your blog: Lots of information and revelation!


    • Ohh, I try so hard to forget that scene! How painful … a lot of us have done that … mostly on a dare!
      And it must have been even harder on these men and women without our modern tools.


  3. That was very interesting…My humans are American, and human #1 (the favorite) loves history and she told me she had never thought about learning Canadian history- now she wants to know more! Good job, human. One MORE thing to take her attention away from adoring me. (flattens ears). *sigh*


    • Ah, you seem to suffer from a common ailment of late, namely the lack of a lap and attention. I have been thinking of starting a movement called “lap reclamation” to address this. My human likes teaching Canadian history, but she fails to notice me as much. Hopefully, if you work on your human while I work on mine, we should get a balance going! LOL. 🙂 thanks for dropping by


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