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´╗┐Title: The Campaign of 1760 in Canada - A Narrative Attributed to Chevalier Johnstone
Author: Johnstone, James Johnstone, chevalier de, 1719-1800
Language: English
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                                  THE
                      CAMPAIGN of 1760 in CANADA


                       A NARRATIVE ATTRIBUTED TO
                         CHEVALIER JOHNSTONE.


                  Published under the Auspices of the
               Literary and Historical Society of Quebec


                                QUEBEC:
               PRINTED AT THE "MORNING CHRONICLE" OFFICE

                                 1887.



[PUBLISHED UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE LITERARY AND HISTORICAL SOCIETY
OF QUEBEC.]

ATTRIBUTED TO CHEVALIER JOHNSTONE.



Hope that heavenly, healing balm, that gift from Providence, blended
with persecutions to blunt the sharpness of their sting and hinder the
unfortunate from being overwhelmed, and sinking under the load of
their afflictions, never dies out--never abandons the distressed. "We
don't believe in dangers," says Machiavel, "until they are over our
heads; but we entertain hopes of escaping them when at a great
distance." Hope does not abandon the pale, dying man: in his agony he
still fells life, and in his thoughts he does not detach himself from
it. Death strikes, before his heart has realized that he could cease
to live. Search in the prisons: hope dwells there with the wretch who
next day is to undergo his sentence of death. Every time the bolts
rattle, he believes his deliverance entering with the jailer. Whole
years of slavery have not been able to wear out this consoling
sentiment. These contradictions,--these differences of seeing,--these
returns,--this stormy flow and ebb, are so many effects of hope, which
plays upon us and never ceases. It is inherent in human nature to hope
in adversity for a favorable change of fate, however the appearances
may be ill-grounded of an end to its pain and suffering.

The Canadians, without the least apparent reason, still flattered
themselves to save their country, and did not lose the hope of
retaking Quebec, though without artillery and warlike stores. All
minds were occupied during the winter in forming projects of capturing
that town, which were entirely chimerical, void of common sense, and
nowise practicable. No country ever hatched a greater number--never
projects more ridiculous and extravagant; everybody meddled. The
contagion spread even to my Lord Bishop and his seminary of priests,
who gave their plan, which, like all the others, lacked only common
sense and judgment. In short, a universal insanity prevailed at
Montreal. Amongst thousands of the productions of these distempered
brains, that of surprising Quebec by a forced march in winter and
taking it by escalade, was the only one where there was the least
chance of success. This project was for some time agitated so
seriously, that workmen were employed in making wooden ladders; but
having always looked upon it as a wild and extravagant fancy of
priests and old women, I constantly argued against it whenever they
spoke of it, and it was continually the topic of conversation.

The Upper Town of Quebec lies upon the top of a rock, about two
hundred feet high, almost perpendicular in some parts of it, and
everywhere extremely steep and inaccessible, excepting towards the
_Hauteurs d'Abraham_, which is a continuation of the same hill, that
begins at Quebec and ends at Cap Rouge, diminishing gradually in
height in the space of these three leagues. The Lower Town is a narrow
piece of ground, from a hundred to four or five paces[A] broad,
between the foot of the rock and the St. Lawrence.

There is a street which goes up to the Upper Town without a
continuation of houses; it is impossible to climb up the rock from the
Lower Town, as I was employed three weeks upon it with miners and
other workmen, to render all the footpaths impracticable; we finished
only a few days before the arrival of the English fleet (in 1759). A
town built upon a vast extent of ground, which would require an army
to defend it, such as Ghent in Flanders, and which might be approached
on all sides at the same time, in order to divide the troops of the
garrison equally over all the town, may be surprised and taken by
escalade, and in our desperate situation might have been attempted by
risking all for all. A surprise in a dark night must naturally spread
universal terror, disorder and panic amongst those who are taken
unawares, and must soon be communicated through all the quarters of
the town. The soldiers are so much the more terrified that they know
not where they are most in danger; not like during a siege, where the
place for the assault is marked by the breach. Their heads turn, and,
deprived of judgment, coolness and reflection, they think rather of
escaping the slaughter that ensues when a town is being captured in
this manner, than of defending the ramparts. But Quebec being
accessible only on that side of it which faces the heights of Abraham,
and having nothing to fear elsewhere, the moment an alarm is sounded,
all the force of the garrison must naturally be there. Thus the
English having seven thousand men in the town--almost as many as our
army proposed for the escalade to invest all that part of the town
open to attack--it is likely that we should have lost the half of our
army in the attempt, and at last, after a horrible slaughter of men,
have been obliged to return ignominiously from whence we came.
Besides, supposing that we had even taken the Lower Town by escalade,
we would not have been further advanced. The English, in half an hour
afterwards, by burning it, by throwing down from the Upper Town upon
the roofs of the houses fire pots, shells and other combustible
matter, could have soon chased us out of it, or buried us under its
ruins. This project, after having furnished for a long time matter for
the daily conversations of Montrealers, was at last considered by M.
de Levis, and classed as it deserved, amongst the vagaries of bedlam;
he substituting a scheme in its place which was reasonable, well
combined, doing honor to his ability and talent.

[Footnote A: The four or five paces of 1760 have now attained seven or
eight acres.--(L)]

M. de Levis, in giving an account to the Court of the loss of all our
artillery and stores at Quebec, gave likewise all possible assurances
that he would re-take the town in the spring and save the colony,
provided they would send to him from Europe a ship loaded with
field-pieces and ammunition, to set sail from Europe in the month of
February, in order to be in the St. Lawrence river before the arrival
of the English, and near Quebec in the month of April. He collected
our army as soon as the season permitted; got together about twelve
pieces of old cannon, which had been laid aside for many years, and
with a small quantity of gunpowder and very few bullets, he set out
from Montreal with his army towards the beginning of April, the snow
being as yet upon the ground; and he conducted his march so well that
the army arrived at Cap Rouge, three leagues from Quebec, without the
enemy having any information of their having left Montreal. He did not
flatter himself to be able to take Quebec with such a despicable train
of artillery, and his design was only to invest the town; to open the
trenches before it; to advance his approaches, and be in a position,
the moment the ships he had asked from the Court should arrive, to
land the cannon, placing them instantly upon the batteries ready to
receive them, and without loss of time to batter the town immediately.

Fortune favored him to the height of his wishes, and if the ships had
arrived with the artillery he expected from France, that town could
scarce have held out for four and twenty hours, by which means he
would have had the glory of preserving to his country the colony of
Canada, then reduced to its last gasp.

The English got the news of our army's being at Cap Rouge by a most
singular accident, which greatly manifests the predominant power of
Fortune in military operations, and shows that the greatest general
cannot guarantee success or put himself out of the reach of those
events which human understanding cannot foresee, whereby the best
combined and well-formed schemes are frustrated in their execution. In
all appearance we would have taken Quebec by surprise had it not been
for one of Fortune's caprices, that have often as much share in the
events of war as the genius and talents of the greatest generals.

The Athenians were not in the wrong to paint Timotheus asleep, whilst
Fortune, in another part of the picture, was spreading nets over towns
to take them for him.

An artillery boat having been overturned and sunk by the sheets of
ice, which the current of the St. Lawrence brought down with great
force, an artilleryman saved himself on a piece of ice that floated
down the river with him upon it, without a possibility of his getting
to land, when he was opposite to the city.

The English, so soon as they perceived that poor distressed man--moved
with humanity and compassion--sent out boats, who with difficulty
saved him (the river being covered with fields of ice), and brought
him to town with scarce any sign of life. Having restored him with
cordials, the moment he began to breathe and recover his senses, they
asked him from whence he came, and who he was? he answered,
innocently, that he was a French cannonier from M. de Levis' army at
Cap Rouge. At first they imagined he raved, and that his sufferings
upon the river had turned his head; but, after examining him more
particularly and his answers being always the same, they were soon
convinced of the truth of his assertions, and were not a little
confounded to have the French army at three leagues from Quebec,
without possessing the smallest information of the fact. All their
care proved ineffectual for the preservation of life; he expired the
moment he had revealed this important secret. What a remarkable and
visible instance of fortune fighting for the English--equal at least
to the cloud of rain that saved General Wolfe's army the year
preceding at his attack of 31st of July, at Montmorenci. Had it not
been for this most unaccountable accident, to all appearance M. de
Levis would have captured all the English advanced posts, which were
said to amount to fifteen hundred men, who retired to the town
immediately after setting fire to the magazine of powder in the church
of St. Foy, which ammunition they had not the time to carry with them.

Nor would it have been surprising if M. de Levis, at the gates of
Quebec with his army, without being discovered, had taken it by
surprise. It is certain that luck has more or less share in all the
events of life, and this is more particularly visible in the
operations of war. Hazards may be constantly in the favor of a general
blindly protected by that goddess, against an adversary with far
superior talents. Everybody must acknowledge Prince Eugene's
superiority of genius, when compared with the Duke of Marlborough; but
Marlborough was always as fortunate in having continually unforeseen
accidents in his favor, as Prince Eugene was unlucky to have them
against him to thwart and cross the execution of the best-combined
projects, which extorted admiration, and seemed to have only need of
Fortune's standing neuter to be successful. The fate of an army,--can
it depend upon the personal good fortune of the General who commands
it? Cardinal Mazarin seemed to be of this opinion, since he never
failed to ask those who recommended persons to him to head
expeditions, "is he lucky?"--_est-il heureux_? Can it be surmised that
fortune acts with her favorite sons at the head of armies, as she does
at gambling tables? However it may be, a great General will always
watch vigilantly the chapter of accidents--seize rapidly that which is
favorable to him, and, by his prudence, foresight and circumspection,
will ward off and correct what is contrary to his interests. The
smallest things are not unworthy of his attention; they often produce
the greatest events, and the neglecting what at first view might
appear trivial, has often overturned the best-calculated schemes. The
most trifling of our actions becomes often a first cause which
produces an endless chain of effects--linked to each other--of the
greatest importance. The boat sunk by the ice, at Cap Rouge, was a
first cause. The cannonier, by this accident, was upon a sheet of ice
in the middle of the St. Lawrence, opposite to Quebec; this inspired
with pity the English to save his life. This humane action of the
English in saving the unhappy cannonier, saved Quebec from being taken
by surprise, which probably would have been the case without his
information, that M. de Levis' army was at Cap Rouge. If taken by M.
de Levis, it would have deterred the English from any further attempt
upon Canada, and peace would have soon ensued. But by the cannonier's
declaration, it was not taken, and consequently the war was prolonged.

Quebec in possession of the English rendered the conquest of Canada
inevitable and sure. The possession of that vast country of Canada,
after so much blood, and such immense expenses it had cost the English
in these different expeditions, excited too much the cupidity of the
English to consent to a peace upon reasonable conditions, and induced
them to extend their conquest to other French colonies.

The possession of so many French and Spanish colonies by the English
brought about the shameful peace that France and Spain were obliged to
receive at the hands of the English, upon the hardest terms, as laws
of the conqueror.

The boat upset and sunk at Cap Rouge was the primary cause and the
first link of the chain which had the greatest influence over all the
affairs of Europe. If M. de Levis had saved the cannonier at Cap
Rouge, what a multitude of events would have been nipped in the bud!
Perhaps even Great Britain would have been forced to receive the peace
from France instead of granting it on her own conditions.

There is scarcely any human action that is not the beginning of a
chain of results.

The French army took possession of the village of St. Foye the moment
the English went out of it, retiring to Quebec, and passed there the
night between the 27th and 28th of April. Next morning M. de Levis
being informed that the English army was come out of the town, and
that they were drawn up in battle upon the same ground that the French
army had occupied the year before at the battle of the 13th September,
he drew out his men and advanced in order of battle to meet the
English army. Though fully persuaded that the English general would
not risk a battle out of his town, where he had a great deal to lose
in being beat, and could gain little by a victory, he was fully
persuaded that he would return at the approach of the French army.

General Murray, who does the greatest honor to his country by his
great knowledge of the art of war, good sense and ability, had come
out of the town in order to cover that place with a retrenchment,
which was very evident from the prodigious quantity of working tools
that were taken by the French; and the vast rapidity with which the
French army advanced in all appearance, deprived him of the
possibility of getting back into Quebec without leaving a part of them
to be cut to pieces by the Canadians.

The English army had the advantage of position. They were drawn up in
battle upon rising ground, their front armed with twenty-two brass
field-pieces--the Palace battery which De Ramsay refused to Send to
M. de Montcalm. The engagement began by the attack of a house
(Dumont's) between the right wing of the English army and the French
left wing, which was alternately attacked and defended by the Scotch
Highlanders and the French Grenadiers, each of them taking it and
losing it by turns. Worthy antagonists!--the Grenadiers, with their
bayonets in their hands, forced the Highlanders to get out of it by
the windows; and the Highlanders getting into it again by the door,
immediately obliged the Grenadiers to evacuate it by the same road,
with their daggers. Both of them lost and retook the house[B] several
times, and the contest would have continued whilst there remained a
Highlander and a Grenadier, if both generals had not made them retire,
leaving the house neuter ground. The Grenadiers were reduced to
fourteen men--a company at most. No doubt the Highlanders lost in
proportion. The left of the French army, which was in hollow ground,
about forty paces from the English, was crushed to pieces by the fire
of their artillery loaded with grape-shot. M. de Levis, perceiving
their bad position, sent M. de La Pause, Adjutant of the Guienne
Regiment, with orders for the army to retire some steps behind them,
in order to occupy an eminence parallel to the rising ground occupied
by the English; but whether this officer did not comprehend M. de
Levis' intentions, or whether he delivered ill the orders to the
different regiments, by his stupidity the battle was very near being
lost irremediably. He ran along the line, ordering each regiment to
the right about, and to retire, without any further explanation of M.
de Levis' orders. Some of the left of the French army being so near as
twenty paces to the enemy, the best disciplined troops in that case
can scarce be expected to be able to retire without the greatest
disorder and confusion, or without exposing themselves evidently to
be defeated and slaughtered. Upon this movement, the English,
believing them in flight, quitted their advantage of the rising ground
in order to pursue them, complete their disorder, and break them
entirely. M. Dalquier, who commanded the Bearn Regiment, with the
troops of the colony upon the left of the French army, a bold,
intrepid old officer, turned about to his soldiers when La Pause gave
him M. de Levis' order to retire, and told them, "It is not time now,
my boys, to retire when at twenty paces from the enemy; with your
bayonets upon your muskets, let us throw ourselves headlong amongst
them--that is better." In an instant they fell upon the English
impetuously--with thrusts of bayonets hand to hand, got possession,
like lightning, of their guns; and a ball which went through
Dalquier's body, which was already quite covered with scars of old
wounds, did not hinder him from continuing giving his orders.
Poularies, who was on the right flank of the army, with his regiment
of Royal Roussillon, and some of the Canadian militia, seeing Dalquier
stand firm, and all the troops of the centre having retired in
disorder, leaving a space between the two wings, he caused his
regiment with the Canadians to wheel to the left, in order to fall
upon the left flank of the English army, the French army extending
further to their right beyond the English left wing. The enemy no
sooner perceived Poularies' movement, than they immediately fled with
precipitation and confusion, and were so panic-stricken that not an
English soldier could be rallied by their officers, several of whom
were taken prisoners. The French troops who had retired advanced
immediately, and all the French army pursued so hotly the English,
that if the cry had not been raised to halt, it is very doubtful if
they would not have got into Quebec pell-mell with the fugitives,
being near the town-gates when this cry began. Thus Quebec would have
been retaken in a most singular manner,[C] unforeseen and
unpremeditated. I know nothing worse than ill-disciplined troops;
certainly a brave militia, with its simple, ancient way of fighting,
even not drilled, is preferable to a force having a crude notion of
discipline--a science entirely neglected in Canada amongst French
regular troops; so that the French regiments there might be looked
upon as differing very little from the Canadian militia. The method of
managing militia and well-disciplined regular troops appears to be
quite as different as they differ in nature. A cool, phlegmatic,
undaunted bravery is the fruit of an excellent discipline, rendering
the soldiers capable, when repulsed, to return several times to the
assault, and rally of their own accord. But the strength and merit of
the militia resembles a hot, ardent, raging fire, that must be
suffered to blaze until it dies out of itself: it is a flash, an
explosion, that often works prodigies, and which, when stifled, there
is no possibility of preventing the immediate disorder that must
ensue, nor any means of bringing it back a second time to face the
enemy.

NOTE.--The preceding winter had been employed in skirmishing
around Quebec.--(J.M.L.)

[Footnote B: Dumont's Mill.]

[Footnote C: "On the night of the eighteenth of March, two hundred
light infantry were detached from the Garrison of Quebec, with three
days' provisions, and a company of Grenadiers, marched the next day to
Lorette Church, being the place of rendezvous. The whole proceeded to
Calvaire, accompanied by a French deserter in a British uniform. In
this route they surprised an advanced post of the French, and made the
party prisoners, consisting of a corporal and nine privates; having
secured these, they pushed forward with the greatest speed, fearing
that a straggling peasant, whom they met, should mar their further
views by alarming the country. The light infantry having reached the
wished for object, which was a strong camp or entrenchment of logs and
timber, with a house detached at a small distance from it, they
carried the dwelling house With their accustomed bravery, killed four
and took the rest, being twenty in number, some of whom were wounded.
The main body of the French by this time had manned their works, which
were breast high, and environed with an abattis of wood, to the
distance of about three hundred yards, whence they fired a few random
shots and shouted as usual. Capt. McDonald, who commanded this
detachment, seeing the French advantageously situated, and perceiving
their officers very active in encouraging their men, expected a warm
dispute, and therefore made a disposition to attack them in form. As
soon, however, as the light infantry advanced to the charge, the
French threw down their arms and took to flight, when near eighty of
them were made prisoners. In the attack the English had only six
wounded; but the French lost five killed and thirteen wounded. Capt.
McDonald destroyed the post, three corn-mills, granaries, and other
houses contiguous thereto. The French prisoners were brought to
Quebec, except the wounded, who were left in charge of the peasants,
with directions to conduct them to Jacques Cartier. Near one hundred
soldiers of the English detachment were frost-bitten, and were brought
back to the garrison on sleighs. Capt. Herbin, the commanding officer,
escaped; but his watch, hat, and feather, 'fille de joie,' with a cask
of wine and case of liqueurs, were taken.

"The Governor of Quebec (General Murray) sent the Town Major to the
Mother Abbess of the Convent of Hotel Dieu, to acquaint her with the
reasons that induced him to destroy their mills and tenements at
Calvaire: namely, on account of her having transmitted intelligence to
the French, of the last detachment's being ordered to be in readiness
to march out; for having actually carried on a correspondence with the
French army in the whole course of the winter, whereby they were
informed of all movements, proceedings, and every other occurrence
that happened within the walls: the Governor also signified to her,
that if either she or her sisters should presume to correspond in
future with the French, either directly or indirectly, or in any
respect act contrary to good faith and the duty they owed to the King
of Great Britain, they should, without further ceremony, be banished
from Quebec, and their convent be converted into a barrack for the
troops. As Madame de St. Claude, who was sister to M. de Ramsay, and
Superior of the General Hospital, had always been inimical to the
English in propagating falsehoods, and in encouraging the Canadians to
resist, General Murray sent the Brigade-Major to signify to this lady
that she should desist from such conduct; and that as she appeared to
take a great interest in the affairs of this world, and seemed tired
of her seclusion, he would enlist her as a Grenadier, which from her
stature (full six feet) she was qualified to be, and that he would
promote her the first opportunity that presented itself."--(SMITH.)]

The French had about two thousand killed and wounded in this battle of
the 27th (? 28th) of April, of which number there was an hundred and
ten officers of the regular troops, besides a great many officers of
the Canadian militia: so they might say with Pyrrhus, the day of his
victory over the Romans--"Again such another victory, and I would be
undone!"

M. de Levis opened the trenches the same night before Quebec, and they
were carried on with such activity that his batteries were soon ready
to receive the guns necessary to make a breach.

But the most considerable of his bad pieces was a twelve pounder,
which he mounted upon batteries, firing at times with the greatest
economy, as he had but a small store of gunpowder. There needed only
the arrival of a ship from France with artillery and ammunition to
crown M. de Levis with glory. The English in Quebec confessed that the
first flag that would appear in the St. Lawrence would decide the
question, if Canada should remain in possession of the English or
return to the French.

No ships arrived from France with artillery. The fate of Canada was at
last settled by the appearance of three English men-of-war, on the 7th
of May. They ascended immediately the St. Lawrence without stopping at
Quebec. They attacked the small French frigates--at the Ance du
Foulon, about a mile above the town--which had passed the winter in
Canada; took some of them, burned others, and, in short, destroyed in
an instant all the French marine. This unlooked-for arrival, instead
of the vessel which M. de Levis expected from France, so astonished
and terrified the French army, that they immediately raised the
siege--and that without any necessity for it. They again left as a
present for the English their tents and their baggage, as they had
done previously on retiring from Beauport, after the battle of the
13th September. Such was their consternation that, as if struck by a
thunderbolt, they fled with the utmost precipitation, as if the
English were pursuing them after the loss of a battle. De Vauquelin
alone distinguished himself by a truly heroic bravery. He commanded
one of the small French frigates of about sixteen guns, and fought
like a lion against an English man-of-war of forty guns, until he had
no powder nor shot. He then sent all his crew ashore to M. de Levis,
judging that they might be of use to him, and remained on board with
the wounded, his colors always flying.

The English, after firing some time at his vessel, and receiving no
answer, approached in their boats and asked him why he did not fire,
or lower his flag? De Vauquelin answered them fiercely that, had he
had any more powder he would not have been silent so long; that if
they had a mind to take him, they might cut down his flag themselves,
as hitherto his custom was not to strike his colors, but to make
others--his country's enemies--do so. The English then went on board
of his ship, and took him prisoner, with his wounded men, and in
consideration of his determination--they having cut down his
flag--treated him with the regard which bravery can claim at the hands
of a generous enemy. De Vauquelin had already made himself known to
the English by his undaunted courage at the siege of Louisburg. His
intrepidity so delighted the English Admiral, that he begged him to
tell him freely how he could serve him. He answered the Admiral, "that
what he wished for of all things was to have his liberty and
permission to return to France." The Admiral had so great a
consideration for him, that he caused a vessel to be immediately
fitted out to carry him to Europe, ordering the English captain to
obey De Vauquelin and land him in any French port he might ask for,
leaving him at the same time to choose what French passengers would
accompany him. This noble and generous behaviour of the English did
honor to their nation, by rendering justice to, and discerning the
merit of, an enemy, far beyond what De Vauquelin met with from
Berryer, the Secretary of the Navy, on his arrival in France.

The unhappy situation of the colony was now past remedy, and may be
compared to a man in the agonies of death, to whom the physician
continues to administer cordials, not from hopes of his recovery, but
to allay and soften the violence of his sufferings. All that could now
be expected was to obtain an honorable capitulation, favorable to its
inhabitants, the colony being at its last gasp.

M. de Levis left two thousand men at Jacques Cartier, with orders to
retire slowly according as the English advanced from Quebec, and to
avoid an engagement with them, without losing sight of them. This
retarded their march, and put off the evil hour as long as possible.
He went with the rest of his army to Montreal. As there was no
provision in that town to be able to keep his army assembled, he was
obliged to disperse them, sending them back to their winter quarters,
where each inhabitant was obliged to board a soldier at a very low
rate, which was paid by the munitionary general.

M. de Bougainville was sent in the spring to command at Isle aux Noix,
with eleven hundred men, of which number were the Regiment of Guienne
and Berry. This island is situated in the River Chambly (Richelieu),
about eight leagues in a straight line from Montreal, and two miles
distant from Lake Champlain.

M. Bourlamarque, an officer of great knowledge in all the branches of
his profession, decided upon that position for his retreat the year
before, when he evacuated Ticonderoga, having been forced to abandon
to the English that lake. He fortified this island as well as was
possible in a sandy ground, in order to serve as a frontier on that
side of Canada, and hinder the English from coming down by the River
Richelieu into the River St. Lawrence, by which means in a very short
time they might have been in possession of Montreal and Three
Rivers,--a much easier way than by Lake Ontario, which is much longer
and full of chicares (?) by the rapids in the St. Lawrence, and
prolong their operations;--a very great advantage in a country where
there are violent frosts during seven months of the year. This island
is about twelve hundred fathoms long, and from a hundred to two
hundred broad. The entrenchments traced and conducted by M.
Bourlamarque are regular, and a proof of his superior knowledge in
fortifications. He barred the two branches of the river which formed
the island with staccados, or chains of big trees, linked to one
another at their ends by strong rings and circles of iron. This
prevented the English boats from Lake Champlain to pass the island in
the night, to reach Montreal. But for the staccados the island must
have been taken by them before they could proceed any further.

Some Iroquois, of the Five Nations, informed M. de Vaudreuil at
Montreal, that General Amherst was marching to invade Canada with a
very considerable army by the rapids and Lake Ontario, whilst General
Murray had orders to come up the river with his army from Quebec, and
join Gen. Amherst at Montreal. But they had no knowledge of a third
body of troops, about four thousand men, that came by Lake Champlain,
in the month of July, five weeks before the arrival of the other two
armies at Montreal, and besieged Isle aux Noix with a very
considerable train of artillery, cannon, mortars, &c., in profusion.

They erected five batteries of guns on the south side of the river,
with a bomb battery, which rendered our trenches useless, as they had
a sight of us everywhere, back, face and sideways, and so near us that
at the south staccado they killed several of our soldiers by their
musket shots.

The sandy ground protected us from the effect of their shells, which
they threw upon us in great numbers, with a continual fire from their
gun batteries.

After sixteen days' siege with a most violent cannonade, without a
moment's interruption, M. Nogaire, an officer in the Regiment of Royal
Roussillon, came to us from Montreal, having crossed directly through
the woods, with some Indians for his guides, with two letters from De
Bougainville, one of which was from him to Vaudreuil, and the other
from M. de Levis. It was a very critical conjuncture, having only two
days' provision for the garrison, which had subsisted until the
arrival of the English troops by means of fishing-nets, that river
abounding with the most delicious fish, with seven or eight oxen,
which had been kept as a reserve and killed by the enemy's cannon. M.
de Vaudreuil's letter contained a permission to M. de Bougainville to
capitulate or retire from the island if it was possible. M. de Levis'
letter was a positive order to defend that post to the last extremity.
De Bougainville, notwithstanding his genius, good sense and learning,
with personal courage, and who lacked only taste for the study of the
art of war to distinguish himself, was nevertheless put to a nonplus
how to act from the contradictory orders he received. In this dilemma
he shewed me the letters, asking at the same time my advice; and my
answer was:--"That in two days famine must oblige us to surrender to
the enemy at discretion. That the reinforcements of a thousand men at
Montreal might be of the greatest importance, and help to make a good
countenance when the English army had advanced in the neighborhood of
it. That it was M. de Vaudreuil who commanded-in-chief in Canada, and
not M. de Levis; and that there was yet a possibility of retiring with
the garrison towards the north side of the island, where the swampy
ground upon the border of the river had hindered the English from
establishing a post." De Bougainville immediately decided for a
retreat, which was executed and combined with equal justness; and the
success answered exactly to the prudence, wisdom and good conduct that
De Bougainville exhibited in preparing for it. It was then about ten
in the morning when Nogaire arrived with the Indians, who--not
accustomed to such a terrible fire as was at that moment poured forth
by the English batteries, very different from their way of fighting
behind trees--were not at all at ease, and furiously impatient to get
out of the island. The hour of retreat was settled for ten that
night.

The north shore of Isle aux Noix, on the opposite side of the river,
was marshy to the distance of three hundred paces from the river,
covered with small trees where there was a rising ground, and there
was no English post nearer to it than at the Prairie de Boileau,
distant half a mile down the river, so that the locality where the
river was fordable was a little below the north staccados. De
Bougainville adopted every prudent measure imaginable to achieve
success. He ordered all the boats to be mended and put in condition to
be used at a moment's warning. He also ordained that the boats, bark
canoes, and punts hewn out of a large tree, be removed a certain
distance from the river side, lest some soldier should desert and
apprise the English of his design, such as had happened from the posts
near Quebec. He commanded that all the garrison should be in order of
battle at ten at night, all observing a profound silence, without the
least clashing of arms or other noise, and be in readiness to march.
He ordered M. le Borgne, an officer in the colonial troops, to remain
on the island with a detachment of forty men, to keep up a smart fire
from our battery, which consisted of seven or eight pieces of cannon,
during the time we were employed in passing the river, in order to
hinder the English from hearing us in our operations, and to continue
firing whilst ammunition lasted, and to conceal our retreat as long as
it was possible to do so.

We began to cross the river in two lighters, with some small boats,
about ten at night. They plied continually to and fro until midnight,
when all had crossed the river without the enemy perceiving or even
suspecting our operation, although so near to us were their posts on
their left that we heard distinctly their voices. All was executed
without the least noise, disorder, or confusion--a rare occurrence on
such an occasion. Le Borgne acted well, and at the same time
economized his ammunition so well that he had wherewith to fire upon
the English at intervals until one in the morning. Imagining us then
to be near Montreal, he hoisted the white flag to capitulate, and the
English, not having the smallest notion of our retreat, granted him
immediately very honorable terms. We had eighty men killed or wounded
during the siege--a very inconsiderable loss for a cannonade of
sixteen days' duration, from five batteries, besides a bomb battery,
without an instant's intermission. Had it been a stony instead of a
sandy ground, we must have lost above one-half of the garrison, and
could not have resisted so long.

So soon as everyone had passed the river, we set out for Montreal,
crossing through the woods, which, in a straight line, is only eight
leagues from Isle aux Noix, always half running one after the other,
after having marched in this manner, from midnight until twelve at
noon, over fens, swamps, mosses, and sinking often up to the waist in
marshy ground, without reposing or halting one minute. Instead of
being near Montreal, as we imagined, we were thunderstruck on finding
ourselves, by the fault of our guides, to be only at the distance of
half a league from Isle aux Noix: our guide, not knowing the road
through the woods, had caused us to turn round continually for twelve
hours without advancing!

We were so near an English post at the Prairie de Boileau, that a
grenadier of the Regiment de Berry, seeing his commander, Cormier,
sink down with fatigue, and not in a condition to go any further,
carried off a horse from them which was upon the borders of the wood,
and mounted his commander on it; otherwise he would have been left
aside and taken prisoner by the English, or scalped by the Indians.

Having lost all hopes of going to Montreal through the woods, we took
the road to Fort St. Jean, on the River Chambly, four leagues lower
than Isle aux Noix, and five leagues by land to Montreal. My strength
was so entirely spent, that it was with great difficulty I could draw
one leg after the other. Nevertheless the fear of falling into the
hands of the Indians, the idea of the horrible cruelties which they
practice on their prisoners, which shock human nature, prevented me
from sinking down with pain, and gave me strength to push on.

Arrived at a settlement at four in the afternoon, about a league and a
half from St. John's Fort, where De Bougainville caused his detachment
to halt and repose themselves for the first time since midnight, that
they left Isle aux Noix. I perceived there a boat going off to St.
Jean, and I had only strength enough remaining to throw myself into
it. We lost in this march about eighty men: those who could not hold
out were left behind, victims to the Indians. Arriving at St. John's
Fort, the first person I saw there was Poularies, on the river side,
who told me they had news of our retreat, and that he was sent with
his regiment to sustain us in case we had been pursued by the English.

We were now shut up in the island of Montreal on all sides. The
English were masters of the River Chambly by the possession of Isle
aux Noix. General Amherst approached with his army from Lake Ontario;
and General Murray was in march, coming up from Quebec, with six
thousand men that had passed through the winter there, and with some
men-of-war, one of which of about forty guns, on its arrival in sight
of the town of Montreal, greatly astonished, and excited the
admiration of, the inhabitants, who, from the ignorance and negligence
of those persons charged with the sounding of the St. Lawrence, had
never seen vessels arrive there of above sixty or seventy tons.

General Murray conducted himself as an officer of great understanding,
knowledge and capacity, and left nothing to do for General Amherst; he
employed five weeks in coming from Quebec to Montreal, which is only
sixty leagues, and did us during his march more harm by his policy
than by his army. He stopped often in the villages; spoke kindly to
the inhabitants he found at home in their houses--whom hunger and
famine had obliged to fly from our army at Montreal; gave provisions
to those unhappy creatures perishing for want of subsistence. He
burned, in some cases, the houses of those who were absent from home
and in the French army at Montreal, publishing everywhere an amnesty
and good treatment to all Canadians who would return to their
habitations and live there peaceably. In short--flattering some and
frightening others--he succeeded so well, that at last there was no
more possibility of keeping them at Montreal. It is true we had now
only need of them to make a good countenance. The three English armies
amounting to above twenty thousand men, it was impossible to make any
further resistance.

Amherst's army appeared in sight from the town of Montreal, towards
the gate of Lachine, on the 7th of September, about three in the
afternoon. General Murray with his army, from Quebec, appeared two
hours after at the opposite side of the town: thus a dark crisis was
at hand for the fate of Canada. Montreal was nowise susceptible of
defence. It was surrounded with stone walls, built in the beginning of
that colony, merely to preserve the inhabitants from the incursions of
the Indians, few imagining at that time it would become the theatre of
a regular war, and that one day they would see formidable armies of
regular, well-disciplined troops before its walls.

We were, however, all pent up in that miserable, bad place--without
provisions, a thousand times worse off than an advantageous position
in open fields--whose pitiful walls could not resist two hours'
cannonade without being level with the ground, and where we would have
been forced to surrender at discretion, if the English had insisted
upon it.

The night between the 7th and 8th September was passed in negotiating
for the articles of capitulation. But in the morning all the
difficulties were removed, and General Amherst granted conditions
infinitely more favourable than could be expected in our
circumstances.

Thus the Canadians, as brave as they are docile, and easy to be
governed, became subjects of Great Britain; and if they can think
themselves happy under that Government, by remembering their past
vexations, they will do so.

M. (Col.) Poularies and M. (Col.) Dalquier, who were generally
distinguished in the French army by their high sense of honor,
probity, and their bravery, experience and knowledge in the art of
war, were both of them, on their arrival in France, broken as
commanders of a battalion--a grade which was abolished in the French
service, in order to make the Major, as in the British service,
command the regiment in absence of the Colonel and Lieutenant-Colonel.
Belcomb, Poularies' Adjt. of Royal Roussillon, and Montgnary, Captain
in the Regiment of Bearn which Dalquier commanded--(two very handsome
men, capable to attract the attention of the ladies of any court in
Europe)--were made Colonels of Foot, without possessing any remarkable
military talent or capacity.

Fortune manifested most cruelly her almighty power in the military
state, where justice, punishments and rewards alone ought to be the
base of it. Men conduct themselves from the view either of honor or
interest; and there can be no emulation in a service where mediocrity
of talents, intrigues, favor, and credit, override merit.

Greatness of soul, joined to superiority of talent, ignores the art of
cringing; it is even impossible that merit can lead to fortune in a
corrupted and venal country: on the contrary, it becomes a cause of
exclusion. Virtue elevates the soul, and can neither fawn nor buy
credit, nor flatter vice and incapacity. "If such is the military
constitution of a State," says M. Gaubert, in his Treatise of
Tactics, "of which the Sovereign (the King of Prussia) is one of the
greatest men of the age, who instructs and commands his armies, and
whose armies form all the pomp of the court, what ought it to be in
those States where the Sovereign is not at all a military man; where
he does not see his troops; where he seems to disdain or be ignorant
of all that regards them; where the Court, who always obey the
impression of the Sovereign, is consequently not military; where
almost all the great rewards are obtained by surprise, by intrigue;
where the greater portion of favors are hereditary; where merit
languishes for want of support; where favor can advance without
talent; where to make a fortune no more implies acquiring a
reputation, but merely to heap up riches; where men may be, at one and
the same time, covered with orders and infamy--with grades and
ignorance, serve ill the State, and occupy the best places; be smeared
with the censure of the public, and enjoy the Sovereign's good graces?
If, whilst all other sciences are becoming perfected, that of war
remains in its infancy, it is the fault of the Governments, who do not
attach to it sufficient importance; who do not make it an object of
public education; who fail to direct men of genius to that profession;
who suffer them to find more glory and advantages in sciences trifling
or less useful; who render the profession of arms an ungrateful
employment, where talents are outstripped by intrigue, and the prizes
distributed by Fortune."

General Amherst, according to his statement in his letter to Mr. Pitt,
then Secretary of State, lost in coming down the rapids--without
meeting there any opposition from the French or Indians--by drowning,
eighty-four men. Twenty more of the regiments' boats were dashed to
pieces. Seven boats of the artillery, loaded with arms and ammunition,
and one of his galleys, were also lost.

If 900 Indians had been there, as they should have been, scattered in
the woods upon the borders of the river, with 1,200 Canadians, which
they had solicited earnestly from M. de Vaudreuil, to defend those
difficult passes of the Rapids, but which this officer obstinately
refused, what would have become of General Amherst? How could he have
got out of the scrape? As it happened to Braddock, Amherst and his
army must have perished there; his expedition would have been
fruitless, and Canada would have been yet saved to France: but heaven
willed it otherwise. How long the English may preserve this conquest
depends on their own wise and prudent conduct.

THE END.


[The original of this manuscript is deposited in the French war
archives, in Paris: a copy was, with the permission of the French
Government, taken by P.L. Morin, Esq., Draughtsman to the Crown Lands
Department of Canada, about 1855, and deposited in the Library of the
Legislative Assembly of Canada. The Literary and Historical Society of
Quebec, through the kindness of Mr. Todd, the Librarian, was permitted
to have communication thereof. This document is supposed to have been
written some years after the return to France from Canada of the
writer, the Chevalier Johnstone, a Scotch Jacobite, who had fled to
France after the defeat at Culloden, and had obtained from the French
monarch, with several other Scotchmen, commissions in the French
armies. In 1748, says _Francisque Michel_,[D] he sailed from Rochefort
as an Ensign with troops going to Cape Breton: he continued to serve
in America until he returned to France, in December, 1760, having
acted during the campaign of 1759, in Canada, as aide-de-camp to
Chevalier de Levis. On de Levis being ordered to Montreal, Johnstone
was detached and retained by General Montcalm on his staff, on account
of his thorough knowledge of the environs of Quebec, and particularly
of Beauport, where the principal works of defence stood, and where the
whole army, some 11,000 men, were entrenched, leaving in Quebec merely
a garrison of 1,500. The journal is written in English, and is not
remarkable for orthography or purity of diction: either Johnstone had
forgotten, or had never thoroughly known, the language.]

[Footnote D: _Les Ecossais en France_, vol. ii, p. 449.]





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