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

The National Battlefields Commission

Plains of Abraham





The British Army Ransacking

The month of August was marked by a policy of terror led by the British. A few days after landing at the Île d'Orléans on June 27, Wolfe had a proclamation posted on the church door urging residents to stay inside and remain neutral, in exchange of which they would not be bothered. However, if they dared take up arms, they would be subjected to the worst atrocities perpetrated in wartime. Since these threats did not seem to have the desired effect, they were reiterated at the end of July. This time the General took action.

The first punitive expeditions were assigned to Joseph Gorham, a Rangers captain whose mission was to destroy the houses, farms, livestock and take prisoners at Baie-Saint-Paul. On August 9, the troops stationed at Pointe-Lévy could see smoke coming from the village. Gorham also pushed on as far as La Malbaie before crossing over to the south shore and setting fire to 50 houses at Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière. Throughout the month and even in early September, the British burned nearly 1,400 houses and farms, according to a fairly conservative estimate90. The campaign continued on both shores of the St. Lawrence, downstream and upstream from Québec. Wolfe hoped that this policy of terror would help flush out the French, and that they would then attempt an attack, in which case the General was convinced that he would be victorious. But Montcalm did not budge.