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James Wolfe

 

WOLFE, James, British soldier, born in Westerham, Kent, England, 2 January, 1727; died near Quebec, Canada, 13 September, 1759. He was a son of Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Wolfe, an officer distinguished for skill and bravery in Marlborough's campaigns. James was educated at Greenwich. His military life began early, and with such unmistakable evidences of great ability that at the age of sixteen he served as adjutant of his regiment in the campaign of Dettingen. In the suppression of the Scottish rebellion of 1745 he served as major and deputy quartermaster general, while his father was a major-general, commanding a division. He was engaged in the Netherlands in 1747-'8 on garrison duty in Scot in 1748-'53, and in England in 1753-'7. 

In 1758 he had reached the grade of brigadier-general, and commanded one of General Jeffrey Amherst's divisions at the siege of Louisburg, where he was distinguished for his gallantry. The next year he was promoted major-general, and placed by William Pitt in command of the expedition against Quebec. In the latter part of June, 1759, he arrived before that city with a force of 8,000 men, supported by a powerful fleet, and, after erecting batteries at Point Levi and the isle of Orleans, he opened fire on the enemy's defenses, which had been greatly strengthened by the French commander-in-chief. The large ships of war being unable to co-operate by reason of their draught, he next took position near the mouth of Montmorency river and made a bold attack on the French works, which was repelled with loss. Various other plans were now proposed by Wolfe, but rejected by his officers. Sir Jeffrey Amherst failed to co-operate as had been promised, and the approach of winter necessitated the speedy departure of the fleet. Wolfe sent many desponding messages to Pitt, and the appointment of the young general to the command was severely criticized in England. 

As a final plan, Wolfe transferred his troops to a point several miles above the city. While reconnoitering the precipitous bluffs called the Heights of Abraham, on the north shore of the river, he detected the cove that is now called by his name, about two miles from Quebec, whence a narrow path wound up the cliff. Determining to surprise the French by this difficult route, he spent a day and a night in preparation, and at one o'clock on the morning of 13 September embarked about 5,000 men in boats, which dropped noiselessly down the river to the landing-plate. By sunrise the entire force had completed the ascent, and soon after ten o'clock they confronted the French force, which was superior in numbers but composed chiefly of undisciplined provincials. After an hour's cannonade Montcalm attacked impetuously, but his men were driven back in confusion, and Wolfe, pressing to the front, ordered the Louisburg grenadiers to charge the enemy. While cheering on his men, he received two wounds, the second of which ended his life, but not until he was assured of the defeat of the French. Five days later Quebec surrendered, and the English became masters of Canada.

Wolfe's remains were carried to England, where a monument was erected to him in Westminster Abbey. The Massachusetts assembly also voted a marble statue of him. A small column marks the spot where he fell, and an obelisk sixty feet in height, has been placed in the government gardens at Quebec in his honor and that of his enemy Montcalm, who fell in the same battle. See Robert Wright's "Life of James Wolfe " (London, 1864), and Francis Parkman's " Montcalm and Wolfe " (Boston, 1885).

By  Alicia M.  - Gotha Middle School, Windermere, Florida.

General James Wolfe, a British soldier whose success in 1759 at the battle of Quebec won Canada for the British Empire. After several failures due to poor judgment his victory came. As a general James Wolfe's greatness was exaggerated because of his dramatic death during the moment of his victory. Joining the army when he was fourteen Wolfe fought to his grave by discovering a cove which is now Wolfe's cove, being appointed to command the expedition against Quebec, and winning the war for the British.

Born in Westerham, England Wolfe joined the army when he was fourteen years old. He served in Flanders and in Scotland. During the Seven Year War he became a brigadier which is a military officer between a colonel and a major general. In the battle of Louisberg he served under the ruling of Major General Jeffrey Amherst. Wolfe returned to England after the battle of Louisberg.

When Wolfe returned to England he was told to command the expedition against Quebec. William Pitt was the director of English foreign affairs then and appointed Wolfe. It was said to be one of the best decisions he could have made. There were times Wolfe and the army felt like giving up but they knew they had to continue.

Trying before and failing was Wolfe's last attempt to capture Quebec. Depressed Wolfe called his senior officers together. Also helping Wolfe was Admiral Charles Saunders. He was going to take the army another dangerous miles up the river for landing. Dampening the spirits of the army was a delay of bad weather. But wait a minute General James Wolfe had spotted something that nobody else had spotted. It was a narrow cove at the cliff base only 1.5 miles west of the city. At this time Wolfe had to make a bold decision. On that night, September 12, he led a line of darkened boats into what forever would be called Wolfe's cove.

Wolfe's success cost him his life and permitted the British to seize Montreal completing the conquest of Canada. Dawn brought about a rough scare for the French. Montcalm the French commander was prepared and had about four thousand, five hundred men on hand while Wolfe had only about three thousand, three hundred. With double loaded muskets the British soldiers stood stiffly at attention. Snipers in the woods fired into the British ranks when a soldier fell another one would step forward to take their place. Armed with only a cane Wolfe strolled along the ranks smiling and joking with his men. Suddenly Wolfe was hit a snipers bullet shattered his wrist. The French marched forward firing again and again. It seemed that Wolfe would never give the order to fire back. With the French only forty yards away he dropped his cane down and leaped from in front of the muskets. Lying in the arms of an officer Wolfe was shot in the lungs and in the stomach. He had enough time to ask how the war was going. When the soldier told him the French were running he smiled and said," God be praised I will die in peace." Forever giving him fame for finding Wolf's cove, being appointed to command the expedition against Quebec, and winning the war for the British.

 



 

Bibliography:

The World Book Encyclopedia 1994
S.V. James Wolfe By : Philip Buckner
page 378-379


The Colonial Wars 1992
Alden R. Carter
page 49-51


The American Nation 1991
Prentice Hall
page 154-155

 

 


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