In the summer of 1759, the Amerindians are constantly on the move, relentlessly harrying the British with raids and ambushes.

The tactics of the Amerindians fly in the face of rigid European military custom. The French officers would dearly love to know the location of their aboriginal allies. Unfortunately for them, the strategy of surprise and ambush employed by the Amerindians makes their movements entirely unpredictable. At one moment, they are near Cap-Rouge, only to appear a few days later at the foot of Montmorency Falls. Furthermore, Amerindian tribes come and go from the region depending on their whims and convictions. Nevertheless—and contrary to all expectations—their tactics will revolutionize the way soldiers wage war and call into question the traditional concept of the pitched battle. Camouflage, ambushes, surprise attacks, and raids—all techniques mastered by the Amerindian—are the new weapons that will determine the success of tomorrow’s armies. Throughout the summer, the Amerindians use these methods to take prisoners, steal military supplies, conduct surprise attacks and, especially, take a few English scalps.
In the summer of 1759, the Amerindians are constantly on the move, relentlessly harrying the British with raids and ambushes.

The tactics of the Amerindians fly in the face of rigid European military custom. The French officers would dearly love to know the location of their aboriginal allies. Unfortunately for them, the strategy of surprise and ambush employed by the Amerindians makes their movements entirely unpredictable. At one moment, they are near Cap-Rouge, only to appear a few days later at the foot of Montmorency Falls. Furthermore, Amerindian tribes come and go from the region depending on their whims and convictions. Nevertheless—and contrary to all expectations—their tactics will revolutionize the way soldiers wage war and call into question the traditional concept of the pitched battle. Camouflage, ambushes, surprise attacks, and raids—all techniques mastered by the Amerindian—are the new weapons that will determine the success of tomorrow’s armies. Throughout the summer, the Amerindians use these methods to take prisoners, steal military supplies, conduct surprise attacks and, especially, take a few English scalps.

© The National Battlefields Commission 2005

The siege of Québec has its inconveniences, the worst of them being hunger. Food theft becomes a veritable plague, and is severely punished… with a few exceptions…

The Amerindians are unfamiliar with the notion of private property. For them, food is to be shared among those in need. Knowing this, French authorities decided not to punish aboriginal thieves for fear of alienating their valued allies.In contrast, the theft of a mere chicken is enough to get a French soldier strung up for public execution without trial or any other form of due process.
The siege of Québec has its inconveniences, the worst of them being hunger. Food theft becomes a veritable plague, and is severely punished… with a few exceptions…

The Amerindians are unfamiliar with the notion of private property. For them, food is to be shared among those in need. Knowing this, French authorities decided not to punish aboriginal thieves for fear of alienating their valued allies.In contrast, the theft of a mere chicken is enough to get a French soldier strung up for public execution without trial or any other form of due process.

© The National Battlefields Commission 2005

On the Plains of Abraham, the Amerindians have been firing at the English since early morning. But because there are few places to hide, there is little else the Amerindians can do. Nonetheless, they inflict appreciable damage on Wolfe’s troops. At about 9 a.m., the French and Canadians finally arrive on the battlefield.

The Amerindians are feared by the Europeans because of their ruthless combat techniques. The warriors' battle dress and overall appearance play a big part in intimidating the enemy.

Many savage nations have a custom of pricking (tattooing) the skin. Other nations just paint their skin and faces with different colours—such as black, red, blue, and green—which are applied on top of a layer of bear grease. It is a war paint used to frighten and intimidate the enemy. They wear nothing, apart from a breechcloth and sometimes leggings. Their shaven heads are decorated with feathers. Their ears hang to their shoulders, and they take care to tie them out of the way so they don’t slow their movements. They have no facial or body hair, and they often proudly wear rings in their noses and bracelets on their arms.
On the Plains of Abraham, the Amerindians have been firing at the English since early morning. But because there are few places to hide, there is little else the Amerindians can do. Nonetheless, they inflict appreciable damage on Wolfe’s troops. At about 9 a.m., the French and Canadians finally arrive on the battlefield.

The Amerindians are feared by the Europeans because of their ruthless combat techniques. The warriors' battle dress and overall appearance play a big part in intimidating the enemy.

Many savage nations have a custom of pricking (tattooing) the skin. Other nations just paint their skin and faces with different colours—such as black, red, blue, and green—which are applied on top of a layer of bear grease. It is a war paint used to frighten and intimidate the enemy. They wear nothing, apart from a breechcloth and sometimes leggings. Their shaven heads are decorated with feathers. Their ears hang to their shoulders, and they take care to tie them out of the way so they don’t slow their movements. They have no facial or body hair, and they often proudly wear rings in their noses and bracelets on their arms.

© The National Battlefields Commission 2005

During the battle of the Plains of Abraham, the Amerindians were unable to use their favourite weapon—that of surprise. This wide, open field had no hiding places, except for the groves located on either side of the English lines.

Normally, the Amerindians look for a position that would give them an advantage by allowing them to lie in ambush close to the location they wished to attack. They wait quietly for hours, sometimes even days, until their leader gives the war cry. Catching the enemy unawares, they fire on them and then rush forward, axes in hand, to finish the job. Should an adversary fall, the warriors take his scalp, brandishing it in the air as they let out their terrifying battle cry. Here is how one French soldier describes the scene:

"The savage immediately takes his knife and makes a cut around the scalp, then putting his foot to his victim’s shoulder, he yanks the scalp free from back to front. After cleaning the scalp, he attaches it to the end of a long baton, which he triumphantly carries over his shoulder back to the village. Before making his entry, he announces his arrival and his bravery with a number of loud cries, eq Read More
During the battle of the Plains of Abraham, the Amerindians were unable to use their favourite weapon—that of surprise. This wide, open field had no hiding places, except for the groves located on either side of the English lines.

Normally, the Amerindians look for a position that would give them an advantage by allowing them to lie in ambush close to the location they wished to attack. They wait quietly for hours, sometimes even days, until their leader gives the war cry. Catching the enemy unawares, they fire on them and then rush forward, axes in hand, to finish the job. Should an adversary fall, the warriors take his scalp, brandishing it in the air as they let out their terrifying battle cry. Here is how one French soldier describes the scene:

"The savage immediately takes his knife and makes a cut around the scalp, then putting his foot to his victim’s shoulder, he yanks the scalp free from back to front. After cleaning the scalp, he attaches it to the end of a long baton, which he triumphantly carries over his shoulder back to the village. Before making his entry, he announces his arrival and his bravery with a number of loud cries, equal to the number of scalps he has taken."
Extract from : Voyage au Canada...
© The National Battlefields Commission 2005

The battle is now inevitable. It will take place on the Heights of Abraham. Listen to four people who witnessed the tragedy. An Aide-de-camp of General Wolfe, a Canadian employee at the King’s store, John Knox, Lieutenant in Wolfe’s army and a Huron warrior, Little Étienne.

September 12 , on board of Sutherland

The British:
The ennemy’s force is now divided, great scarcity of provisions now in their camp, and universal discontent among Canadians : (…) (…)Before day-break on the 13th we make a descent upon the north shore,(…)

We had, in this debarkation, thirty flat-bottomed boats containing about sixteen hundred men. This was a great surprise on the ennemy, who, from the natural strength of the place, did not suspect, and consequently were not prepared against, so bold attempt. This grand enterprise was conducted and executed with great good order and discretion; (…).

Morning of September 13

The Canadian: Read More
The battle is now inevitable. It will take place on the Heights of Abraham. Listen to four people who witnessed the tragedy. An Aide-de-camp of General Wolfe, a Canadian employee at the King’s store, John Knox, Lieutenant in Wolfe’s army and a Huron warrior, Little Étienne.

September 12 , on board of Sutherland

The British:
The ennemy’s force is now divided, great scarcity of provisions now in their camp, and universal discontent among Canadians : (…) (…)Before day-break on the 13th we make a descent upon the north shore,(…)

We had, in this debarkation, thirty flat-bottomed boats containing about sixteen hundred men. This was a great surprise on the ennemy, who, from the natural strength of the place, did not suspect, and consequently were not prepared against, so bold attempt. This grand enterprise was conducted and executed with great good order and discretion; (…).

Morning of September 13

The Canadian:
At daybreak the enemy landed at Anse des Mères… The orderly who had heard men swimming shouted out and upon being answered in good French “provisions!” investigated no further, since there were vessels loaded with provisions passing by and the order was given not to fire upon them.

The British:
As soon as we gain the summit, all is quiet, and not a shot is heard, owing to the excellent conduct of the light infantry under colonel Howe; it is by this time clear day-light. (…)

The Canadian:
…they immediately approached the shore and shortly burst into the home of Borgia Levasseur, taking over the house and the barn, as well as the homes of St-Joseph

Meanwhile in Beauport

The French:
A Canadien, an expression of sheer terror on his face, told us how he alone had escaped death and that the enemy was on the plateau. Knowing full well how difficult it was to reach the plateau from this point, we didn’t believe a word of the man’s tale, believing his fright had affected his senses. (…)

A little further on

The Amerindian:
I was with my grandfather Tsa-wa-wan-hi, Grand Chief of the Huron, when we met up with the army at Beauport with 60 or 70 of our grown men, and several younger men, too. We could hear musket fire. Our warriors rushed over from the other side of the St. Charles River to join in the battle.

The French:
I ran and joined Monsieur de Pontleroy and together we climbed to the plateau, following no distinct path but that of the whistling bullets.

On the Plains of Abraham

The Canadian:
The Canadiens rushed to the scene of the battle and many volleys were fired, but with enemy numbers growing by the minute, our militiamen were shooting from all sides, incapable of forming a common front to hold off the enemy.

The French:
We joined Monsieur le Marquis de Montcalm, who ordered his troops into battle as they arrived. The enemy was already in formation and entrenching, the river on their right and Chemin Sainte-Foye on their left. They looked to be at least four thousand strong, divided into three corps (…) We had a number of battalions in forward positions, firing under cover of the brush (…)

The British:
Weather showery : it is about six o’clock and the ennemy first makes their appearance upon heights, between us and the town : (…). Québec is eastward of us in front, with the enemy under its walls.

The French:
All our troops had arrived. I stopped a moment with Monsieur le Marquis de Montcalm, who said to me, “We cannot avoid the issue. The enemy is entrenching and already has two cannon. If we give him time to make good his position we can never attack him with the few troops we have.”

The British:
(…) It is ten o’oclock, the ennemy begins to advance briskly in tthree columns, (…) two of them inclining to the left of our army, and the third toward our right, firing obliquely at the two extrimities of our line, from the distance of one and hundred and thirty, until they come within forty yards; wich our troops withstand with the greatest intrepidity and firmness, still reserving their fire and paying the strictest obedience to their officers : (…)

The Amerindian:
My grandfather was too elderly to keep pace with his warriors. He wanted me to stay with him, but when he saw the Huron… He ordered me to go back the way I had come. I obeyed, but only went back a short distance. Then I hid to watch what would happen. I didn’t see much of the battle.

The Canadian:
The infantry marched forward, flanked on one side by the navy and on the other by the Canadian militia. He gave his order when they were within half range of the fire of the enemy, who were firmly in wait… And so began the great fire of battle from all sides…

The French:
Our troops ran into battle, letting out great cries of war, then stopping to fire. The first line of French and Canadian troops kneeled to fire, throwing themselves down to reload.

The British:
When the general forms the line of battle, he orders the regiment to load with an additional ball. (…) Our troops in general, and particularly the central corps, is levelled and firing.

The Canadian:
Monsieur de Sennezergue and Monsieur de Fontbonne, one a commander and brigadier, the other a commander, were killed on the battlefield and more officers were killed or wounded.

The French:
The enemy replied with heavy platoon fire. Our troops immediately veered to the right and retreated as fast as they could (…)

The British:
(…) Hereupon they give way, and flee with precipitation, so that, by the time the cloud of smoke vanishes, our men are again loaded and profiting by the advantage we have over them, pursing them almost the gates of the town and the bridge over the little river, redoubling our fire with great eagerness, making many officers and men prisoners.

The Amerindian:
I later heard the warriors telling how they had fired many rounds at the enemy but that as soon as General Montcalm gave the order to attack, everything happened too quickly and they had no choice but to return to their village of Lorette.

The French:
There was such chaos that the British entered the city, mingling haphazardly with the fleeing troops and cutting us off from our camp. We finally came to stop beneath the walls of the square, where more than eight hundred men from all the corps had gathered in panic.

The British:
Our joy at this success in inexpessibly damped by the loss we sustaines of one of the greatest heroes which this or any other age can boast of General James Wolfe, who received his mortal wound as he was exerting himself at the head of grenadiers of Louisbourg.

The Canadian:
Lieutenant General le Marquis de Montcalm died from his wounds and was laid to rest at the Ursuline convent. His loss will be deeply felt by the State and even more so by all Canadiens…

Cap-Santé, September 23, 1759

The French:
Alas, I have only sad news to write. Twenty times I have taken up my feather pen and twenty times it has fallen from my hands, the pain too great. How can I recall such a tragic sequence of events…? We were saved and now we are lost!
Texts inspired and from extracts: Journal du marquis de Montcalm...; The Siege of Québec...; Journal du siège de Québec;Les Hurons et la...
© The National Battlefields Commission 2005

The French: The Fall of the Colony
A year has passed since the battle on the Plains of Abraham. On September 18, 1760, Chevalier de Lévis lays down his arms in Montréal by burning his flags. It`s the end of the French colony. The professional soldiers return to Europe, disappointed because they lost the war but proud to have fought with valiancy and courage. Some of them will be decorated with the Croix de Saint-Louis, the highest French military honour.

The Brisith: The Victory
It was inevitable. Strength in numbers did the Franco-Indian alliances in. After the war, some soldiers immediately settle in the new British colony. This is the case for many Scots from the 78th Regiment of Foot, who are given land along the St. Lawrence River and elsewhere in the colony.

The Canadian: Change of King
The Canadians lived in a state of uncertainty just after capitulation. Would they be allowed to keep their language and religion? Would they have to leave the land where they were born or could they Read More
The French: The Fall of the Colony
A year has passed since the battle on the Plains of Abraham. On September 18, 1760, Chevalier de Lévis lays down his arms in Montréal by burning his flags. It`s the end of the French colony. The professional soldiers return to Europe, disappointed because they lost the war but proud to have fought with valiancy and courage. Some of them will be decorated with the Croix de Saint-Louis, the highest French military honour.

The Brisith: The Victory
It was inevitable. Strength in numbers did the Franco-Indian alliances in. After the war, some soldiers immediately settle in the new British colony. This is the case for many Scots from the 78th Regiment of Foot, who are given land along the St. Lawrence River and elsewhere in the colony.

The Canadian: Change of King
The Canadians lived in a state of uncertainty just after capitulation. Would they be allowed to keep their language and religion? Would they have to leave the land where they were born or could they stay in it? They had to make as heartbreaking choice. The majority of them decided to go on living in the only country that they ever knew. They will muster their energy to make the only belonging left to them after the conflict flourish : the land.

The Amerindian: Always at War
The capitulation of the French doesn't mean the capitulation of the Amerindians. Certain tribes refuse to accept the verdict of defeat. Under the directives of the great Ottawa chief Pontiac, the Miami, Huron, Potawatomi, Shawnee, and many others take up arms again against the British. The rebellion rages for a number of months. Finally, weakened by defeat and disease, Pontiac and his allies sign a peace treaty in 1766.

© The National Battlefields Commission 2005

Ambush: Manoeuvre that involves hiding in order to surprise the enemy

Barracks: Building in which soldiers are housed

Barter: Trade one good for another

Battery: Group of cannons

Bayonet: Type of sword affixed to the tip of a musket

Boots: Pieces of wood that were tightened around a convict’s legs as a form of torture

Canton: Square next to a cross on a flag

Capitulation: The act by which an army surrenders to the enemy

Colonists: Residents of the colonies Diagonal (on the): Border cut at an angle

Epidemic: Large number of cases of the same disease (flu epidemic)

Read More
Ambush: Manoeuvre that involves hiding in order to surprise the enemy

Barracks: Building in which soldiers are housed

Barter: Trade one good for another

Battery: Group of cannons

Bayonet: Type of sword affixed to the tip of a musket

Boots: Pieces of wood that were tightened around a convict’s legs as a form of torture

Canton: Square next to a cross on a flag

Capitulation: The act by which an army surrenders to the enemy

Colonists: Residents of the colonies Diagonal (on the): Border cut at an angle

Epidemic: Large number of cases of the same disease (flu epidemic)

Famine: Significant lack of food

Flint: Stone that sparks when struck against iron

Frizzen: Steel musket part on which flint is struck

Gangrene: Decay of a part of the body due to insufficient blood supply

Garrison: Troops stationed in a fortified work

Grenadier: Soldier specialized in grenade launching

Head-to-foot: Describes the position of two objects or people placed next to each other, with one upside-down (or from head to foot)

Hierarchy: An ascending or descending series of elements ranked according to their importance or value

Impetuousness: Characteristic of that which is violent, hasty, and quick-tempered

Infamy: A state of dishonour or shame

Infantry: Soldiers who fight on foot

Influx: Mass arrival of a liquid, people, or things

Larceny: Minor theft

Livre: Old coin or a unit of weight

Military hierarchy: Classification of titles of military personnel based on their level of importance

Militia: Consolidation of militiamen

Militiaman: Citizen of the colonies capable of taking up arms and reinforcing a regular army

Mitre: Tall triangular service hat

Omens: Signs that seem to predict the future

Ounce: Old coin or a unit of weight

Outbuildings: Annex buildings adjacent to the main one

Palavers: Never-ending discussions

Pallet: Terrible bed

Pitched battle: In lines, in formation

Priming pan: Small container on a weapon where the gunpowder is placed

Provisions: Food

Raid: Military blitz operation

Redoubt: Isolated military construction and autonomous

Recruit: New soldier

Rituals: Traditional ceremonies

Sentences: Punishments

Sentinel: Soldier who keeps guard

Seven Years’ War (1)
or French and Indian War (2)
or War of the Conquest (3): Three names for the same war from the point of view of the Europeans and English Canadians (1), Americans (2), or French Canadians (3)

Shipwreck: Total or partial loss of a ship due to an accident

Siege: All of the operations carried out to take a stronghold

Skirmishes: Minor battles among isolated soldiers

Sovereign: King or Queen

Spirits: Alcohol

Stake: Block of wood on which a person condemned to be decapitated placed his or her head

Subject: Person subjected to the authority of the king

Take up arms: Go to battle

Thirteen Colonies: Name of the British colonies in North America

Tuque: Wool stocking cap

Whipping post: Punishment in which the convict is put on public display

Winter quarters: Place where military troops are lodged during the winter

© The National Battlefields Commission 2005

Learning Objectives

The learner will :
  • Identify the major events and the impacts of the Conquest;
  • Identify significant characters of the Conquest;
  • Explain how the conquest shaped our society;
  • Review past and present impacts of the Conquest on the population, territory and culture.

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