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CHAPTER THE EIGHTEENTH.
THE SIEGES CONTINUED.-BATTLE NEAR SILLERY
WOOD-THE FRENCH RAISE THE SIEGE-GENERAL MURRAY'S DESPATCH.
It has been stated that, on the fleet under Admiral SAUNDERS returning home after the successful expedition of 1759, General MURRAY was left Governor of QUEBEC, with a garrison of five thousand men. Other accounts make the number six thousand, which appears more nearly correct. They were first employed in repairing upwards of five hundred houses which had been almost entirely destroyed by the fire of the English batteries at Pointe Lévi ; and in putting the fortifications in a condition fit for defence. Several affairs of posts occurred during the winter, which all redounded to the advantage of the British. Sr. Fox and LORETTE were occupied by General MURRAY as outposts ; and those of the French at LAKE CALVAIRE, ST. AUGUSTIN, and Maison Brulée, were successively attacked and dispersed.
Owing to the rigour of the climate, and the constant living on salted provisions, without vegetables, the scurvy-the same disease which had proved so fatal to the little band of JACQUES CARTIER, in 1535—broke out amongst the garrison in so inveterate a manner, that before the end of April a thou
sand men were dead, and two thousand more rendered unfit for service.
The main force of the French army, which had been cantoned during the winter between Jacques CARTIER and Three Rivers, was in the spring collected in the neighborhood of MONTREAL, under the command of M. DE LEVI, an officer of merit, activity and enterprise. It consisted of ten battalions of regular troops, making about four thousand five hundred men—which had been reinforced by six thousand disciplined Canadian Militia-two hưndred of whom were mounted and acted as cavalry—and by two hundred and fifty Indians-amounting in all to ten thousand seven hundred and fifty effective men. This statement is taken from the French account: the English accounts at the time stated them to be fifteen thousand men. The first intention of M. de Levi had been to capture QUEBEC by a coup de main during the depth of winter ; and to that end he had provided snow shoes, scaling ladders, and fascines. He had also a large depôt of provisions at PointE LEVI. These, however, were immediately captured by a detachmeut of the English garrison, which marched across the ice for the
purpose. Finding that the vigilance of General MURRAY, and of his outposts, was not to be baffled, the French commander altered his plans, and resolved to attempt the reduction of Quebec by a regular siege, which he flattered himself he could bring to a termination before the place could be relieved by Lord ColVILLE's Fleet, then lying at Halifax. He was favored in such an operation by the absence of all British naval forces in the St. Lawrence, while he had six French frigates of from forty-four to twenty
six guns each, which secured to him the command of the river between MONTREAL and QUEBEC.
On the 17th April, 1760, M. DE LEVI, having embarked bis baggage and military stores in small craft and batteaux, under convoy of his frigates, reached POINTE AUX TREMBLES with his army by land. The stores being disembarked at Sr, AUGUSTIN, on the 27th, he arrived at the Plains of Abraham by the way of the St. Foy road.
The French accounts state that the advanced post of the British at the ford of Cape Rouge River, consisting of the Light Infantry, would have been cut off but for the following incident: On the 27th April, a sentinel, on board the Race-horse sloop of war, hearing cries upon the river, informed Captain MACARTNEY therewith; who ordered out a boat, and brought on board a French soldier, belonging to the artillery, who had been floating up and down on a field of ice. The poor fellow, although treated with all humanity, was unable for nearly two hours to give any account of himself. He then stated, that he had formed one of the crew of a batteau belonging to the French Army under M. DE LEVI, consisting of ten thousand men, who were advancing to the attack of QUEBEC. On this information it is said that the post at CAPE ROUGE was called in, the French all the while pressing close upon the rear.
General MURRAY, for reasons explained in his despatches, resolved to hazard a battle; and accordingly marched out of QUEBEC on the morning of the 28th April, with all his troops fit for duty, amounting to no more than three thousand men.
He took post on the celebrated PLAINS OF ABRAHAM, where so many laurels had been gathered the year before ; and with great gallantry made a powerful attack on
the French centre, posted upon some rising ground not far from SILLERY Wood. The French were well commanded, and fought so well, that General MURRAY, finding it impossible to avoid being surrounded by a body three times as numerous as his own, was forced to recal his men, and to retire after sustaining a very heavy loss. Far from being discouraged by the loss of the battle,-in which it must be acknowledged that his troops behaved most admirably, the loss of the French being admitted to be nearly double that of the English-he resolved to trust for defence to the fortifications of Quebec. By almost incredible exertions, he built two cavaliers, and mounted upon the ramparts one hundred and thirty-two pieces of artillery. The enemy broke ground before the place, but made slow progress in getting up their artillery. On the 9th May, General MURRAY was encouraged by the arrival of the Lowestoffe Frigate, Captain DEANE ; who informed him that Commodore SWANton, with a fleet from ENGLAND, was in the river. Lord Colville, also, , had sailed from Halifax on the 22nd April, and might be daily expected.
Although M. de Levı had made every exertion to commence the siege, he was not able to open his fire until the 11th. His batteries were soon silenced by the superior fire and weight of metal of the English. On the 15th, to the great joy of the garrison, and the equal discomfiture of the French, the fleet under Commodore SWANTON arrived before the city, and QUEBEC was soon delivered from the presence of the
enemy. On the next day, two men of war were detached against the French 'naval force above the town, which consisted of two frigates, two armed vessels, and a number of smaller craft. The attack was
completely successful--one of the French frigates was driven upon the rocks above Cape Diamondthe other ran ashore, and was burned at Pointe auc Trembles-the rest were taken or destroyed. On this occasion, however, the Lowestoffe was lost, having run upon some hidden rocks.
M. de LEVI, concerned at the loss of his shipping, and believing the vessels which had already arrived to be the forerunners of a larger reinforcement, determined forthwith to raise the siege. He accordingly broke up his camp, and retired with such a recipitation towards MONTREAL, that General MURRAY was unable to come up with the rear guard before it had crossed CAPE Rouge River. He, however, captured the stores, provisions, and artillery of the enemy, together with all the entrenching tools used in the siege.
On the 27th June, the following despatch was received by Mr. Pitt from General MURRAY ; to which we refer as containing all that it is necessary to preserve, relative to the siege of QUEBEC by the French :
Friday, 27th June, 1760. This morning arrived Major MAITLAND, ard Captain SCHONBERG, with the following letter from the Hon. JANES MURRAS, Governor of QUEBEC, to the Right Honorable Mr. Secretary Рітт:
Quebec, May 25, 1760. Sir,
Having acquainted General AMHERST, three weeks ago, that QUEBEC was besieged by an army of 15,000 men, I think it necessary to do myself the honor of addressing directly to you, the more agreeable news of the siege being raised, lest, by your receiving the former intelligence, before the late ter, some inconvenience may arise to His Majesty's service.