Gouvernement du Canada - Commission des champs de batails nationaux Gouvernement du Canada - Canada

The National Battlefields Commission

Plains of Abraham





Québec: The Challenge of a New Battle

Faced with the imminent danger of a British attack from three directions (through the St. Lawrence River, Lake Champlain and Lake Ontario), Lévis decided to focalize his forces on Québec. During the winter, he drew up plans to recapture the town and he gathered the necessary equipment for such an operation. It had to be launched as soon as possible, even more so since the General wanted to prevent Murray from fortifying the Buttes-à-Neveu, which was the highest position outside city walls, and therefore the best site where cannons could be installed for the siege. Lévis and Vaudreuil were very confident that they would get the reinforcements they had asked for. And so they assembled their troops in preparation for combat.

Lévis decided to attack before the snow had totally melted and the St. Lawrence was no longer ice bound. He hoped to surprise Murray's advanced posts at Lorette and Sainte-Foy. The British General was however informed that the French were progressing, and he repatriated his detachments.

Faced with this French threat, Murray decided to wage battle. In fact, like Montcalm a few months earlier, he did not want to give the enemy time to settle down and build up strength on the Plains. Therefore, he came out of the city with a relatively smaller army and formed his lines himself on the Buttes-à-Neveu. Although his troops had been pared down, Murray had at his disposal 22 cannons, which he positioned between each regiment. And so he was fairly comfortably positioned to face his enemy, provided his strategy remained defensive.