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The National Battlefields Commission

Plains of Abraham




The Outcome

The outcome of this decisive battle differs according to source. According to Officer John Knox, the British counted 61 dead and 603 wounded. The regiment most affected was the Highlanders with 18 dead and 148 wounded. The French suffered sizeable losses. Various numbers were put forward, but the likeliest assessment (that of the La Pause report) is from G. Filteau, historian: 150 dead – including 13 officers – and 370 prisoners – including 18 officers. The number of missing troops is assessed at 28. As for the number of wounded, it is high – probably several hundreds –, and 193 men died as a result of their wounds at the Hôpital Général. The losses in the ranks of the Militia have not been determined124.

However, in addition to soldiers who lost their lives or were wounded in combat, it is above all the death of the two generals that has put its mark on history. First, General Wolfe was wounded at the wrist, in the groin and in the chest. It was this last injury which proved fatal. Considering the size of the projectile (1/4 inches in diameter, twice the size of that of a French rifle), everything suggests that the shot was fired from an artillery piece125.

The last minutes of Wolfe's life have become an issue of choice for several writers and painters, whose works often describe a hero dead in combat with a romantic slant, but this is far from historic reality. Wolfe in fact died very quickly on the battlefield after being wounded for the last time. An hour after the start of the hostilities, that is, around 11:00 a.m., his body was transported on one of the ships. He was later repatriated to England.

Like his opponent, Montcalm was also wounded in combat: he was shot as he retreated towards the city. After painfully riding within the city walls, he was finally taken care of, but it apparently did not produce the desired effect. When learning that he would not live much longer, Montcalm allegedly replied: "So much the better, I won't see the British in Québec." The general was given the last rites and expired at dawn, around 5:00 a.m.126. His body was buried in a crater-hole under the Chapelle des Ursulines.

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