Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Siege of Quebec: Week Twelve

Journal During the Siege of Quebec
12th. By this day's orders it appears the General intends a most vigorous attack, supposed behind the town, where to appearance a landing is impracticable.

Our disposition terminates thus ; that the Light Infantry are to lead and land first, in order to maintain a picquering with the enemy (as also cover the troops' debarkation) till the army take a footing on the heights.

We are to embark on board our flatt-bottomed boats by 12 o'clock and upon the Sunderland man-of-war showing a light, we are to repair to that rendevouze, where the boats will range in a line and proceed when ordered in the manner directed ; viz. the Light Infantry the van, and the troops to follow by seniority. The army compleated to 70 rounds ammunition each man ; and the flatt-bottomed boats to repair to the different vessells, and proportionably divide according to the number on board the ship.

By 10 o'clock Colonel How called for the volunteers in the Light Infantry, signifying to them, that the General intends that a few men may land before the Light Infantry and army, and scramble up the rock, when ordered by Capt. Delaune, who is to be first in the boat along with us ; saying that he thought proper to propose it to us, as he judged it owuld be a choice, and that is any of us survived, might depend on our being recommended to the General. made answer : We were sensible of the honour he did, in making us the first offer of an affair of such importance as our landing first, where an opportunity occured of distinguishing ourselves, assuring him his agreeable order would be put in execution with the greatest activity, care, and vigour in our power.

he observing our number consisted only of eight men, viz. :

1st. Fitz-gerald
2nd. Robertson
3rd. Stewart
4th. Mc Allester
5th. Mackenzie
6th Mc Pherson
7th. Cameron
8th. Bell

Ordered we should take 2 men of our own choice from three companys of Lt. Infantry, which in all made 24 men. Which order being put in execution we embarked in our boat. Fine weather, the night calm, and silence all over.

Waiting impatiently for the signal of proceeding.

September 12th and 13th. Morning, 2 o'clock, the signal was made for our proceeding, which was done in pretty good order, the same disposition formerly mentioned. When we came pretty close to the heights we rowed close in with the north shore, which made the Hunter sloop-of-war, who lay of, suspect us to be enemy, not being apprised of our coming down. However, we passed two sentries on the beach without being asked any questions. The third sentry challenged, who is there? Was answered by Capt. Fraser in the French tongue, saying we are the provision boats from Montreal, cautioning the sentry to be silent, otherwise he would expose us to the fire of the English man-of-war. This took place till such time as their officer was acquainted, who had reason to suspect us, ordering all his sentrys to fire upon us ; but by this time the aforesaid volunteer was up in eminence, and a part of the Light Infantry following. After we got up we only received on fire, which we returned briskly, and took a prisoner, the remaining part of the enemy flying into a field of corn. At same time we discovered a body of men making towards us, who we did not know (it being only daybreak), but were the enemy ; we put ourselves in the best posture of making a defence ; two of us advanced, when they came close, and challenged them, when we found it was Capt. Fraser with his co., who we join'd, and advanced to attack this party of the enemy lodged in the field, who directly fled, before us ; by pursuing close the Lieut. and his drummer came in to us. In this interval the whole of the Light Infantry were on the heights, and a part of the regts. We remained till the whole army took post, when we were detached to silence a battery who kept firing on our shipping who were coming down the river. This was effected without the loss of a man ; the enemy placed one of the cannon to flank, drew off, and got into the woods which was within forty yards of the battery. We demolished the powder, and came away.

On our return we saw our army forming the line of battle ; we (Light Infantry), who stood about 800 paces from the line, were ordered to face outwards, and cover the rear of our line, as there was a body of the enemy in their rear and front of the Light Infantry. About 6 o'clock observed the enemy coming from town, and forming under cover of their cannon ; we saw they were numerous, therefore the General made the proper disposition for battle ; they marched up in one extensive line. When they came within a reconoitring view they halted, advancing a few of their Irregulars, who kept picquering with one or two platoons, who were advanced for that purpose, at the same itm playing with three field pieces of our line. On which the General ordered the line to lay down till the enemy came close, when they were to rise up and give their fire. The enemy, thinking by our disappearing, that their cannon disconcerted us, they thought proper to embrace the opportunity ; wheeling back from the centre, and formed three powerful columns, advanced very regular with their cannon playing on us. By this time we had one field piece on the right, and two howats on the left who began to give fire ; the enemy huzza'd, advancing with a short trott (which was effectually shortened to a number of them) they began their fire on the left, the whole of them reclining that way, but received and sustained such a check that the smell of gunpowder became nautious ; they broke their line, running to all parts of the compass.

To our great concern and loss General Wolfe was mortally wounded ; but the Brigadiers, who were also wounded, excepting Murray, seeing the enemy break, ordered the Granadiers to charge in among them with their bayonets, as also the Highlanders with their swords, which did some execution, particularyy in the pursuit.

During the lined being engaged, a body of the enemy attacked a part of the Light Infantry on the right, were repulsed, and thought proper to follow the fait of traverse sailing. As I was not in the line of battle I can't say what the latest disposition of the enemy way before engaging.

How soon this action was over we received a part of our intrenching tools and began to make redoubts, not knowing but next morning we would have another to cut, as the enemy expected 13 companies of Granadiers to join, and about 2000 men who occupy'd a post mean Point au Treamp, but it seemed they were not recovered of the former morning's portion ; not liking English medicines.

This affair gave great spirit to the whole army, notwithstanding the loss of much regretted Life of the Army, General Wolfe. The men kept-sober, which was a great maxim of their bravery.

Towards the evening a part of the enemy, who were the Regulars, formed, who seemed to make a shew of standing ; Colonel Burton, 48th regt. was drawn opposite with a field piece in their front, which disputed them. We took post in our redoubts ; not having the camp equipage on shore, part of the army lay on their arms in the field till next morning. All quiet during the night of the 13th.

Anon. Journal of the particular transactions during the siege of Quebec: at anchor opposite the Island of Orleans, July 26th, 1759. London, Quebec, 1901.

©  Jeffrey Campbell, Fraser's 78th Regiment of Foot, 2018.


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