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James Wolfe

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| Hero Does Not Fit | Does James Wolfe Deserve the Title ‘Hero of Quebec’ | | Zachary Bliss | 12/6/2012 |
Dr. Daryl White
HI2600

|

The battle of the Plains of Abraham was a turning point in the Seven Years War once the British defeated the French at Quebec they never relinquished hold of the city. It did not signal the end to the fighting but it gave the British the upper hand. The French army commanded by Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm was much larger than the British force commanded by Major-General James Wolfe. Montcalm had the help of François-Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, the governor of Trois-Riviere and when Great Britain declared war on France he commanded the advanced guard of Montcalm’s forces. While Wolfe is heralded as a hero in Britain he does not deserve the title ‘Hero of Quebec’. There is no doubt that James Wolfe was a tremendous leader. He certainly has the history to prove it. He was not however, the best tactician. He had joined the army at the age of fifteen and he was a Lieutenant Colonel and commanding his own regiment by the age of twenty-three. Francis Parkman describes Wolfe as “ardent, headlong, void of fear, often rash, almost fanatical in military duty, and reckless of life when the glory of England of his own was at stake”. He contains the qualities necessary to lead an army and did so quite effectively. His army stood triumphant at the end of the fighting but the British did not really win the battle; the French lost it. Montcalm had the numbers, he had the geography but he didn’t have the strategy.
According to the American historian Francis Parkman the French had The French army contained sixteen thousand men while Wolfe’s army had only nine thousand. The number of men Wolfe actually commanded was eight thousand five hundred and thirty five according to an account by a volunteer in this fight. With the numbers at nearly two to one you would think that Montcalm’s army would stand victorious. Wolfe’s commands were to stay back and wait for Montcalm to have his army split into two fronts. Wolfe knew he was outnumbered and he was smart about that. Wolfe held off from rushing to attack Quebec and instead laid siege to the city from a distance using artillery and cannon fire. This turned out to be an excellent strategy as it provoked the people of Quebec to beg for a group of people to head out and attack Wolfe head on to end the fighting. Montcalm sent Jean-Daniel Dumas, one of his best colonial officers to head the charge and try to dislodge Wolfe from his place at Pointe Levis. Dumas broke his troops into two columns and split up. In the darkness one column seen the other column and mistook them for the enemy. Panic ensued from both column and a volley of shots was fired. All of Dumas’ soldiers began to flee back towards the boats, two more volleys were fired and by the time Dumas made it to the boats two-thirds of his men were already there waiting to shove off and head back to Quebec. After this embarrassment of a mission an exodus was made from the city. Families had seen their houses being blown apart and devastated by artillery from the English.
Quebec’s geography was one thing that stopped Wolfe from attacking the city straight on. It was built on what is today called the Quebec Promontory. The promontory is the cliff that Quebec was founded on. It gives excellent sight to the river where the French were able to see every ship that tried to pass through on the St. Lawrence.The geography of Quebec made it strong but the logistics made it vulnerable. Quebec had no real food sources besides their farming. When the crops of 1758 failed the only reason they had any food to survive was Michael-Joseph Cadet and his huge organization creating jobs and supplying people with food. Quebec was just isolated enough that they were able to fortify and guard most of their front with only a few men. That was however, a mistake. It allowed Wolfe’s men to find a hole in the French defence and sneak up onto the battle field, the Plains of Abraham. Another mistake that Montcalm made was not fortifying Pointe Levis. It was situated right across the river from Quebec and Montcalm all but gave it to the British. Had he been smart enough to strengthen Pointe Levis and deploy troops there the British would not have been able to take it so easily and perhaps not at all. Without the British at Pointe Levis they wouldn’t have been able to ravage Quebec with artillery fire. The geography of Quebec and surrounding areas also took its toll on Wolfe’s men. A few of Quebec’s defenders were popping in and out of the woods shooting at the English. This caused them to resort to living in much tighter, more fortified camps. Living in these camps were microbes, vermin and diseases that ate at the resolve and health of Wolfe’s men. After all this disease made its way through Wolfe’s camps he had only six thousand men that were fit to fight. The geography was certainly taking its toll on the English.
Montcalm had the upper hand throughout the battle of Quebec he just did not use it. His strategy was terrible. He sat back with the larger army at his disposal and let Wolfe fire artillery at the city. He sent one attack forward in response and when it failed he would not let another party go. When Montcalm sent fire ships to burn the English fleet his men were so unreliable that they started the fires and abandoned ship much too early. A man on the expedition against Quebec with Wolfe said that “They set them on fire, and left them to the direction of the current before they had got within half a mile of our head-most ship…”. This allowed the British to tow them ashore and let them burn out where they could not harm anyone or anything. Had the French just waited a little longer to light the ships they could have done some serious damage to Wolfe’s fleet and the morale of his men. When Montcalm sent Jean-Daniel Dumas on his expedition to dislodge Wolfe from Pointe Levis and it failed, he didn’t try again. This was a mistake. Incompetent men and a lack of organization kept Montcalm from organizing another attack.
When Montcalm decided not to attack Wolfe at Pointe Levis again he should have shored up his defences. Wolfe’s men snuck passed the French defence and up the embankment on September 13th. The Quebec winter is cold and harsh the river freezes over and supplies stop coming. There is no way that Wolfe could have stayed in Canada that much longer. He would have had to head back to Britain when the weather turned for the worst, the river would have frozen over and left him and his men stranded there without enough food and supplies to survive the winter. Montcalm could have used this to his advantage by fortifying his defences to withstand any invasions of the British. Admiral Saunders, a naval officer under Wolfe’s command said that they would have to sail by September 20th if they wanted to be able to make it back to Britain. Wolfe wanted to have one final attack and that was the one that proved to win Quebec for the British. Wolfe wanted to attack lower in the city but his brigadier’s rejected the idea. They wanted to attack higher up and cut Montcalm’s supply lines. Had Wolfe been allowed to attack the way that he wanted the English would have lost and gone home. The great battle that won Quebec was not Wolfe’s idea. How can we call him the ‘hero of Quebec’ when he did not have the brains to orchestrate a successful attack? Vaudreuil warned Montcalm of the British leaving their posts and moving up the river but Montcalm would not move his troops from their positions. He figured that the battle was virtually won because Wolfe would have to retreat to return to Britain. He sent a smaller than usual group to fortify the outposts because he refused to believe that the British were making their way up the river. Montcalm panicked. He rallied his troops without giving word to the troops stationed with his Colonel Louis-Antoine de Bougainville. Montcalm faced off against Wolfe’s troops without back up and with a dishevelled group of soldiers not expecting to fight. The British ravaged the French troops and by the time that Bougainville arrived with his troops the battle was over and he retreated.
James Wolfe was not a fantastic strategist and he does not deserve the title of ‘her of Quebec’. He won the battle on the Plains of Abraham with luck and Montcalm’s own incompetence. It was by fact of poor planning and hastiness that Montcalm chose to fight immediately when Wolfe began climbing the banks with his troops. Disorganization ensued as Montcalm, refusing to believe Vaudreuil, assembled his troops rapidly after giving poor defence to the outposts on the cliffs. History is created by the winners. That is why Wolfe was hailed and regaled in his victory. In reality it was the ballet the French lost, not the battle the British won. There are many words that can be used to describe Major-General James Wolfe but hero is not one of them. He is certainly not fit to have the title ‘hero of Quebec’.

References
Hamelin, Jean, and Jacqueline Roy. "RIGAUD DE VAUDREUIL, FRANÇOIS-PIERRE DE - Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online." Welcome to the DCB Online | Bienvenue au DBC en ligne. http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=2143 (accessed December 6, 2012).
Parkman, Francis. Montcalm and Wolfe. 100 Anniversary ed. Markham, Ontario, Canada: Penguin Books Canada Limited, 1984.
Eccles, W.J.. "MONTCALM, LOUIS-JOSEPH DE, Marquis de MONTCALM - Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online." Welcome to the DCB Online | Bienvenue au DBC en ligne. http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=1542 (accessed December 6, 2012).
Casgrain, H. R. Wolfe and Montcalm. Toronto: Morang & Co., 1905
MacLeod, D. Peter. Northern Armageddon: the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2008.
"A Vital Corridor | Earth Sciences." Welcome to Natural Resources Canada | Bienvenue à Ressources naturelles Canada | Natural Resources Canada. http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/earth-sciences/products-services/mapping-product/geoscape/quebec/6453 (accessed December 6, 2012).
Volunteer on Expedition, James Thompson, Major Moncrief, and Peter McKellar. A Short authentic account of the expedition against Quebec in the year 1759, under command of Major-General James Wolfe : By a volunteer upon that expedition.. Quebec: Middleton & Dawson, 1872.

--------------------------------------------
[ 1 ]. Hamelin, Jean, and Jacqueline Roy. "RIGAUD DE VAUDREUIL, FRANÇOIS-PIERRE DE - Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online." Welcome to the DCB Online | Bienvenue au DBC en ligne. http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=2143 (accessed December 6, 2012).
[ 2 ]. Parkman, Francis. Montcalm and Wolfe. 100 Anniversary ed. Markham, Ontario, Canada: Penguin Books Canada Limited, 1984.
[ 3 ]. Eccles, W.J.. "MONTCALM, LOUIS-JOSEPH DE, Marquis de MONTCALM - Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online." Welcome to the DCB Online | Bienvenue au DBC en ligne. http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=1542 (accessed December 6, 2012).
[ 4 ]. Parkman, Francis. Montcalm and Wolfe (412)
[ 5 ]. Ibid (332)
[ 6 ]. Parkman, Francis. Montcalm and Wolfe (564)
[ 7 ]. Casgrain, H. R. Wolfe and Montcalm. Toronto: Morang & Co., 1905
[ 8 ]. MacLeod, D. Peter. Northern Armageddon: the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2008. (104)
[ 9 ]. "A Vital Corridor | Earth Sciences." Welcome to Natural Resources Canada | Bienvenue à Ressources naturelles Canada | Natural Resources Canada. http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/earth-sciences/products-services/mapping-product/geoscape/quebec/6453 (accessed December 6, 2012).
[ 10 ]. MacLeod, D. Peter. Northern Armageddon: the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2008. (61)
[ 11 ]. Eccles, W.J.. "MONTCALM, LOUIS-JOSEPH DE, Marquis de MONTCALM - Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online." Welcome to the DCB Online | Bienvenue au DBC en ligne. http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=1542 (accessed December 6, 2012).
[ 12 ]. MacLeod, D. Peter. Northern Armageddon: the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2008. (55)
[ 13 ]. Volunteer on Expedition, James Thompson, Major Moncrief, and Peter McKellar. A Short authentic account of the expedition against Quebec in the year 1759, under command of Major-General James Wolfe : By a volunteer upon that expedition.. Quebec: Middleton & Dawson, 1872. (10)
[ 14 ]. Volunteer on Expedition, James Thompson, Major Moncrief, and Peter McKellar. (26)
[ 15 ]. Eccles, W.J.. "MONTCALM, LOUIS-JOSEPH DE, Marquis de MONTCALM - Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online."
[ 16 ]. Ibid.
[ 17 ]. Ibid.
[ 18 ]. ibid
[ 19 ]. Eccles, W.J.. "MONTCALM, LOUIS-JOSEPH DE, Marquis de MONTCALM - Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online."
[ 20 ]. Ibid.

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...the United States look for a new life a fresh start, independence, and look for their dreams here because they cannot achieve their dreams from where their land. The “American Dream” is an opportunity to search for freedom and fulfillment of needs and wants. James Turslow Adams wrote in his book The Epic of America, “It’s not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position” ( quoted in Dept. of Education 214-215). This quote explains that the American dream isn’t about having the most elegant things; it’s about what you can do to achieve the dream and being recognized for who they become,regardless if you’re a man or woman, regardless of their backgrounds whether they come from high standards or grew up on the streets. Tomas Wolfe said “to every man, regardless of his birth, his shining, golden opportunity… the right to live, to work, to be himself, and become whatever thing his manhood and his vision can combine to make him”(quoted in the Dept. of Education). Wolfe explains that everyone has the right to live, work, be what they want to be, and do whatever one has planned for himself. Everyone has the chance to start over, do something new and become a better person. Everyone has the chance achieve the “American......

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