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France and England Clash Over Power

Colonial Wars

If you are fortunate enough to visit eastern Canada, undoubtedly you will wish to include the city of Quebec in your travels. Quebec is perched on the sides and the summit of a steep, rocky promontory overlooking the St. Lawrence River. With narrow, winding streets and French speaking population, the city is a reminder of past centuries when France controlled much of what is now Canada. On September 13, 1759, on the plain outside Quebec, was fought one of history’s decisive battles. For several years English and French forces had been battling in North America, but neither side had been able to defeat the other. Montcalm, the French general and his army felt reasonably secure in their natural fortress at Quebec. Finally, however, James Wolfe, a brilliant young English general, worked out a bold plan for making a direct attack on the French stronghold. Wolfe discovered a narrow path leading up the steep cliff from the riverbank. To fool the French he kept the English fleet farther up the St. Lawrence. Then, on the night of September 12, the English soldiers in small boats drifted noiselessly down the river. In the darkness they climbed stealthily up the rocky path. Having surprised the guards at the top of the cliff, Wolfe and his forces at dawn were ready for battle. The French forces inside the city were short of provisions. Although his men were poorly trained, Montcalm led them out of Quebec to meet the English. The French were no match for Wolfe’s well-disciplined troops. At the height of the battle, as the English swept toward Victory, Wolfe received a fatal wound. A famous historian has given us the following report of Wolfe’s last moments. “They run! They run!” cried one of the soldiers who were carrying the stricken general from …

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