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

The National Battlefields Commission

Plains of Abraham




The Montmorency Battle


The defeat sustained by the British at Montmorency dealt Wolfe a strong blow. His decision to attack at that specific time had been made after weeks of uncertainty and prevarication, and the operation had failed. This defeat enraged the General, an anger that was mainly vented on the Grenadiers, whom he criticised for their hot-headed, irregular and undisciplined conduct. Everyone thought the charges were exaggerated. Moreover, this criticism was not without affecting relations between the General and his staff.

The General implemented measures for the rest of the siege. First, he gave orders to keep the troops busy while he prepared another attack. He also braced up control on the St. Lawrence River, upstream from Québec. Moreover, the fear and destruction campaign waged since July 1759 was growing in scale. During that summer, which must have seemed endless for the villagers living downstream and upstream from Québec, Wolfe's men burned some 1,400 houses, barns and churches. These operations were mostly led by the Rangers and the Light Infantry104. Wolfe also increased the tempo of the shellings. In the night of August 8 through 9, it became especially devastating: the Lower Town was attacked and three fires broke out simultaneously105.

But, even more important, the Montmorency defeat of July 1759 led to the breaking off of relations between Wolfe and his brigadiers. The latter, after spending the summer expecting a battle, finally saw their commander make a decision that proved disastrous. The resentment felt towards Wolfe after the defeat had increased tenfold, and criticisms began flying from all sides, particularly from his staff, with whom relations were becoming increasingly strained.