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

The National Battlefields Commission

Plains of Abraham




The Two Armies Face Each Other

The Opposing Forces

It is not easy to know with certainty how many opposing forces met on the Plains during the famous battle. In the case of the British Army, numbers vary between 3,600 and 4,828 according to source. The official assessment, that of Corporal Townshend, puts it at 4,441. Historians C.P Stacey and André Charbonneau come up with similar numbers112. On the French side, the discrepancies are even greater, the lowest estimate being 2,500 men, and the highest, 7,520. According to historians Stacey and Filteau, 4,500 is probably the correct number. André Charbonneau, for his part, suggests 4,400113. Of the soldiers Montcalm had at his disposal, approximately 2,000 were regulars while the rest were either militiamen or Amerindians. In numbers, therefore, the two armies were more or less of equal strength. It was from the standpoint of quality that the British army largely outdid its opponent, because it was exclusively made up of regular soldiers, well-trained and above all highly familiar with open terrain combat. On the contrary, the French army had to make do with a large number of militiamen and Amerindians who were often unfamiliar with European style battles. The militiamen were poorly armed, with only rifles and no bayonets114. Furthermore, when they reached the Plains, the men were tired from their long march from Beauport.

As for the artillery, the British had at their disposal two six-pound bronze cannons. The sailors had managed to transport these two pieces of artillery to the top of the cliff. As for the French, it is difficult to know to what extent they resorted to them. However, we can safely say that they had more than their opponents115. However, it doesn't seem to have made much of a difference to the outcome of the battle.

Opposing Forces on the Battlefield on September 13, 1759


  French Forces British Forces
Regular troops 2,000 4,426
Canadians recruited into the ranks of the regular troops 600  
Militiamen and Amerindians 1,800  
Total  4,400 4,426

Source : André Charbonneau, « Québec, ville assiégée », Dans Serge Bernier et al., Québec, ville militaire (1608-2008). Montréal: Art Global, 2008, p. 143.

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