Montcalm and Wolfe: The Dual Biography of Two Men Who Forever Changed the Course of Canadian History
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The national bestseller that tells the story of Wolfe and Montcalm and the Plains of Abraham
In September 1759, a small band of British troops led by James Wolfe scaled the tall cliff overlooking a farmer’s field owned by Abraham Martin and overpowered the French garrison that protected the area, allowing the bulk of the British army to ascend the cliff behind and attack the French who, led by Louis-Joseph Montcalm, were largely unaware of Wolfe’s tactics. The battle that ensued on what would become known as the Plains of Abraham would forever shape the geography and politics of Canada.
Montcalm and Wolfe, written by one of the finest writers this country has ever produced, is the epic story of this battle told through the lives of the two generals, Wolfe and Montcalm. The book is a dual biography of the men and their most famous battle written by a master storyteller. What kind of life did they have before they took up arms? What were the two men really like? And, most importantly, what forces brought the two men to face each other in a battle that forged a nation?
He attended theatre and opera but was always in bed by eleven o’clock. The English ambassador, Lord Albemarle, father of Lord Bury, invited James Wolfe to family dinners. He also invited him to official dinners where he met important French personages and the delegates of foreign countries. The ambassador even introduced him to Louis XV’s court, where, in “splendour and magnificence,” Wolfe saw “how a multitude of men and women were assembled to bow and pay their compliments in a most submissive manner to a creature of their own species.
At the end of October, Montcalm assigned three hundred ground troops to Fort Carillon, along with a hundred troops of the marine. He placed eighty men at Fort Saint-Frédéric. During the winter, the two forts would guard the frontier of Lake Champlain. And Montcalm left Carillon. A strong wind blew over Lake Champlain, the waves were high, the water was freezing. If the boat capsized … Montcalm thought of his son, a mestre de camp who, in Austria, “was leading a life of ease” among “a few too many princes and counts from the Empire.
Amherst would be seconded by three new brigadiers: Charles Lawrence, Edward Whitmore, and James Wolfe. At thirty-one years old, Wolfe, the youngest in age and experience, was jubilant; the American colonies would no longer be in the hands of “decrepit old generals”! Ligonier allotted to Amherst the largest portion of the redcoats who would be sailing, or fourteen battalions. He assigned him a partner with experience and practical good sense: Vice-Admiral Boscawen. Like Wolfe’s father, Boscawen had witnessed the disaster at Cartegena.
Montcalm and his men, on difficult terrain, gave chase, surprised them, and took 150 prisoners. They then rejoined the Franco-Spanish army, which on June 16 suffered a costly defeat at the hands of the Austrians at Piacenza. Among the many soldiers who lost their lives was Montcalm’s nephew, the son of his elder sister, who was already a widow. As for Montcalm, he received sabre blows to his forehead, the back of his head, and a shoulder blade, and suffered a severed artery. Covered in blood, he was captured by the Austrians.
He slept a lot. One night, thunder woke his men but did not disturb his own sleep. That worried him, because “a deep sleep is the sign of an inactive mind. ” 14 “Who would govern the governor? ” After the disastrous Dieskau campaign, the governor general of New France, Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, warned the minister of colonies in October 1755: however courageous the commander arrived from France may be, he does not know Canada. Wars in America are different from those he has known in Europe.