The National Battlefields Commission
Plains of Abraham
In July 1759, General Wolfe was hesitant: he had developed several landing plans that were never carried out. At the end of the month, the Beauport Flats nevertheless remained his favourite target. Besides, on July 9, he had already set up camp on the east bank of the Montmorency River. From this location he was able to observe, and especially bombard, French positions. However, this time it was to be a large-scale operation.
The plan consisted in landing his troops at Beauport near Montmorency in order to capture a French redoubt and reinforce it so as to draw Montcalm out of his entrenchment. Now, at the beginning of the operation, on July 31, what the general himself could see from a transport ship, all the while under French battery fire, was that the coveted redoubt was located much closer to French lines that had been suggested by the observations made from the Île d'Orléans. He realized that, even if he captured it, he could not hold it for very long. As soon as the operation started, it was doomed to fail. What was there to do? Cancel everything? Such a decision would no doubt undermine the morale of the troops, who were expecting a battle. Likewise, his credibility and his authority were at risk of being questioned98.
On the French side, seeing the movements of the British troops, Montcalm ordered that a general alarm be sounded at around 12:00 noon. Everyone had to go back to their stations in the trenches between the St. Charles and Montmorency rivers.