1760 - British three pronged attack against Montreal

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The campaign lasted from March to September 1760

Description

British Plan

During the winter of 1759-60, Lord Jeffrey Amherst, commander-in-chief of the British Army in North America, had matured his plans for a decisive campaign. The British Secretary of State William Pitt identified the capture of Montréal as the main objective of this campaign. Pitt had also decided to demolish the useless Fortress of Louisbourg, thereby releasing the garrison for active service. The provincial assemblies of the 13 colonies were called upon once more to furnish large contingents of troops for a supreme effort, and the final blow was about to fall.

Amherst's plan was to invade Canada simultaneously by all its three gates at once and, advancing from east, west, and south, to unite at Montréal and crush it as in the jaws of a vice:

  • Colonel James Murray was to advance upstream along the Saint-Laurent River from Québec;
  • Brigadier Haviland was to force an entrance by way of Lake Champlain;
  • Arnherst himself was to lead the main army down the Saint-Laurent from Lake Ontario.

Of the three lines of advance Amherst's was not only the longest but the most difficult and dangerous, owing to the rapids which obstruct the navigation of the Saint-Laurent. On the other hand, Amherst advance would cut off the retreat of the French army westward to Détroit where it might have protracted the war for an indefinite time.

The British plan was delicate in the extreme and called for the greatest nicety of calculation, for the three armies must start from three different points hundreds of km apart, by routes full of difficulty, and without possibility of inter-communication, and yet arrive at their goal together, lest the French should concentrate and overwhelm Murray's or Haviland's Corps in detail. If the French troops could be kept together, and if the small army of Murray or of Haviland should reach Montréal a few days before the co-operating forces appeared, it might be separately attacked and overpowered. In this lay the hope of the Governor of Canada, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, and the Chevalier de Lévis, commander-in-chief of the French Army in Canada.

The principal French posts for barring the lines of advance were Isle aux Noix at the head of Lake Ontario, Sorel on the eastern side of Montréal, and La Présentation (present-day Oswegatchie, aka La Galette) at the head of the rapids of the Saint-Laurent.

Map

Map of the British three pronged attack against Montreal in 1760 - Source: England in the Seven Years' War – A Study in Combined Strategy, by Julian. S. Corbett, 1907
Courtesy of Tony Flores

Campaign Opening

In the winter of 1759-60, a British naval force consisting of the Onondaga (18), Mohawk (16), and several row-galleys and gunboats, was established on Lake Ontario, with a view to transporting an army down the Saint-Laurent to Montréal.

At the beginning of March 1760, a French party sent towards Crown Point found traces of a British party. Scouts were sent to locate this British force which was located at the Bay of Mississiquoi. It consisted of some 300 men. Fearing a raid against the French frigate wintering at Sorel, measures were taken to protect them. Meanwhile M. Pouchot replaced M. Désandrouins as commander of Fort Lévis.

In March, Amherst was compelled to send 1,300 men (1st Royal Regiment of Foot and 77th Montgomery’s Highlanders) to the south to quell a rising of Cherokee Indians.

At the end of March, Louis Antoine de Bougainville, assisted by ingénieur M. de Lotbinière, left Montréal for Isle aux Noix on the Chambly River (present-day Richelieu river) to take command of the French force charged to bar the approach from Lake Champlain.

On April 5, the Sieur de Langy arrived at Montréal with 9 British prisoners, including 3 officers, taken near Ticonderoga.

In April, the French made an attempt to recapture Québec. On April 28, they defeated Murray at the Battle of Sainte-Foy. Murray retired within the walls of Québec. A British fleet relieved him in mid May and the French army gradually retired towards Montréal. When Ahmherst learned that Québec was besieged, he immediately summoned 2 battalions from Louisbourg to reinforce Murray.

On May 21, Lévis reviewed his army, most Canadians had by then deserted. The British who had received no additional infantry could not possibly detach more than 1,400 men from Québec, but this detachment could be supported by their fleet. Therefore, there was clear danger that British troops could be landed upstream of the French positions. This led Lévis to leave Sieur Dumas at the head of a corps of some 1,800 men to occupy posts at Pointe-aux-Trembles (present-day Neuville), Fort Jacques-Cartier and Deschambault and to send back all his other battalions to their quarters. Dumas' Corps was deployed as follows:

  • Pointe-aux-Trembles: 400 men under M. de la Rochebeaucourt
  • Fort Jacques-Cartier: 300 men under M. de Repentigny
  • Deschambault: 1,100 men (including a few sailors and Indians) under Sieur Dumas of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine

Dumas' Corps was charged to watch the Saint-Laurent and, if possible, prevent Murray from moving upstream.

On May 28, Lévis left Trois-Rivières for Montréal.

On May 29, Lévis arrived at Montréal where he conferred with the Governor Marquis de Vaudreuil on the future operations. Despite their failure in front of Québec, Vaudreuil and Lévis exerted themselves for defence with an energy that does honour to them both.

On May 31, Lévis was informed that the schooner of the munitionnaire who had sailed past Québec, had made 3 prizes before being burned by her crew who then marched upstream towards Montréal.

At the beginning of June, the French army lacked provisions, powder, ammunition, muskets, bayonets and artillery. After the detachments at Deschambeau and Isle aux Noix, its battalions then counted only 250 men each and a third of their officers. Furthermore, the French naval forces were reduced to:

  • at Montréal
    • the flûte Marie
    • 2 half-galleys
  • on Lake Ontario
    • 2 vessels
  • on Saint-Jean River
    • 1 schooner
    • 2 tartanes

Lévis could not count on any reinforcement, the blockade of the Saint-Laurent River by the British Navy being complete.

From June 7 to 8, Sieur Langy who had been sent with a party of Indians to reconnoitre towards Crown Point and had a skirmish with a British party at Pointe-aux-Fers, returned to Montréal.

On June 9, M. de Malartic and several officers who had stayed at the Hôpital Général of Québec arrived in Montréal. Thay had left Québec before Murray's decision to consider the French soldiers sojourning at this hospital as prisoners of war. The same day, Sieur de Pontbriant, Bishop of Québec, died at Montréal.

On June 11, Lévis was informed that the British were assembling a large force at Oswego on Lake Ontario with boats to transport them and vessels to escort the convoy.

On June 13, Lévis received news from the French fleet who had sailed from France for Québec on April 15, the date it was supposed to arrive in Québec. This fleet had been intercepted by a British squadron, some vessels escaping and taking refuge at Restigouche in Acadia (for details on these operations, see French reinforcement of Canada).

On June 14, the British vessels posted at the entry of Lake Champlain fired several salvoes.

On June 15, a British party of some 300 men appeared at Sainte-Thérèse, 8 km downstream from Saint-Jean. They burned a shed and a few neighbouring houses and took 20 inhabitants prisoners.

Late in June, Amherst finally received confirmation that Québec was secured. The provincial governments also were as usual a sore trial and the cause of much vexatious delay.

At the end of June, Bougainville, who commanded at Isle aux Noix, requested reinforcements. He had only 450 men and several British vessels were now operating on Lake Champlain. Lévis sent him II./Berry Infanterie along with 250 militia. Lévis also went personally to Isle aux Noix to appreciate of the situation. Furthermore, a force under the Chevalier de La Corne was held ready to defend the rapids above Montréal, should the British attempt that dangerous passage.

It was past midsummer when, as planned by Amherst, the three pronged attack began to close round the French.

Advance from Québec up the Saint-Laurent

After the Siege of Québec was raised, Murray had an effective force of about 2,500 rank and file. As the spring opened the invalids were encamped on the Isle-d'Orléans, where fresh air, fresh provisions, and the change from the pestiferous town hospitals wrought such wonders on the scorbutic patients, that in a few weeks a considerable number of them were again fit for garrison duty, if not for the field.

At the beginning of July, Lévis was informed that Murray's Corps had almost completed its preparations at Québec.

Indeed, on July 2, Murray ordered 2,450 men and officers to embark for Montréal. He left 1,700 men behind him for the garrison of Québec. His little column embarked in 32 vessels with a number of boats and bateaux.

On July 11, the British flotilla was ready at Québec. It consisted of 35 small craft (including several armed brigs and snows, 12 gunboats carrying 24-pdrs, 18-pdrs and 12-pdrs, and several transport vessels) in addition to several landing barges. It was escorted by the frigates Penzance (44) under Captain William Gough and Diana (32) under Captain Joseph Deane, the sloop of war Porcupine (16) under Commander John Macartney and the schooner Gaspé (8).

Bourlamaque was also sent to undertake work to block access to Lake Saint-Pierre from various rivers.

On July 13, Murray's force embarked aboard the flotilla.

On July 15, Murray's force set sail up the Saint- Laurent. They were followed some time after by Lord Rollo, with 1,300 additional men (22nd Foot and 40th Foot) just arrived from Louisbourg, the king having ordered that fortress to be abandoned and dismantled.

On July 16, the Amherst's flotilla reached Deschambault. The strong wind allowed it to pass rapidly in front of the town, Dumas' forces, which was stationed there, fired some 50 cannon shots on the flotilla.

Murray advanced slowly, landing from time to time, skirmishing with French detachments who followed the British flotilla along the shore, or more frequently trading with the farmers who brought them vegetables, poultry, eggs, and fresh meat. The British stopped at various parishes, disarmed the inhabitants and administered oaths of neutrality, which were taken without much apparent reluctance.

On August 1, Lévis sent M. de la Pause to reconnoitre Île-des-Barques to determine if this small fortified post could stop Murray's flotilla. The same day, Bourlamaque returned to Sorel to resume defensive works while La Sarre Infanterie was sent there.

On August 3, a British prisoner captured below Trois-Rivières arrived at Montréal, he informed Lévis that Murray's and Rollo's flotillas totalled some 3,500 men and that 400 additional troops had just arrived at Québec.

On August 4, Murray reached Trois-Rivières where Dumas had retired from Deschambault, leaving a small detachment at Fort Jacques-Cartier. Dumas had erected entrenchments in a hurry to defend the town. As the British flotilla approached, these troops lined their defensive works. Their Corps de Cavalerie followed along shore. However, Murray did not delay to attack it, his floating batteries drawn up in line of battle to protect the flotilla as it passed by the town and continued upstream. Dumas, leaving a small detachment in Trois-Rivières, was forced to abandon his position and to resume his march with 1,500 men upstream to occupy new defensive positions on the north bank in front of Sorel.

On August 5, Bourlamaque arrived at Montréal from Sorel to consult with Lévis.

On August 7, Lévis went to Sorel where he gave additional instructions for the defence of the place. Meanwhile defensive works were begun at Île Sainte-Hélène downstream of Montréal and near Sainte-Marie on the north shore.

On the evening of August 8, Lévis returned to Montréal. The same day Guyenne Infanterie embarked for Isle aux Noix.

On August 10, Bourlamaque returned to Sorel.

On August 11, Murray's flotilla advanced on Lake Saint-Pierre. Seeing that defensive works on the neighbouring islands could not be completed before its arrival, Bourlamaque withdrew his troops within the entrenchments erected at Sorel.

On August 12, Murray's flotilla debouched from Lake Saint-Pierre and entered into the channel leading to Sorel.

On August 13, Murray's flotilla reached the Île Plate. The battalion of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine stationed in Montréal received orders to encamp on Île Sainte-Hélène. In the evening, Murray's flotilla suddenly moved upstream towards Sorel. Bourlamaque, who had followed it on the shore, hurriedly retraced his steps to Sorel where he entrenched on the strand with 2,500 men. Meanwhile M. Dumas with another 1,500 men occupied defensive positions at Berthier (present-day Berthierville) on the north bank. Montréal was now about 100 km distant, and the situation was becoming delicate.

On August 14, Lévis went to Berthier to discuss with Dumas.

On August 17, Lévis was informed that the French vessels operating on Lake Ontario had been forced to retire and that the British corps operating in these quarters had now reached the rapids of the Saint-Laurent River. Lévis quitted Berthier to return to Montréal.

On August 18, Rollo's flotilla made a junction with Murray's. Bourlamaque and Dumas had been instructed to follow up the flotilla as it moved, so British and French alike advanced towards Montréal, where the Chevalier de Lévis lay with the French Main Army.

By August 24, Murray was within 43 km of Montréal. He sent 5 rangers towards Lake Champlain to get news of Haviland, and took measures at the same time to cause the desertion of the Canadians, who formed the largest part of the opposing force. He sent a proclamation among the parishes, advising the inhabitants to remain peacefully at home, promising that those who did so should be safe in person and property, and threatening to burn every house from which the men of the family were absent. These were not idle words. A detachment sent for the purpose destroyed a settlement near Sorel, the owners of which were in arms under Bourlamaque. On the other hand, Murray treated with great kindness all who left the army and returned to their families. The effect was soon felt. The Canadians came in by scores and by hundreds to give up their arms and take the oath of neutrality, till, before the end of August, half Bourlamaque's force had disappeared. Vaudreuil on his part was not idle. He sent a counter-proclamation through the parishes as an antidote to that of Murray. "I have been compelled," he writes to the Minister, "to decree the pain of death to the Canadiens who are so dastardly as to desert or give up their arms to the enemy, and to order that the houses of those who do not join our army shall be burned." Execution was to be summary, without court-martial. Yet desertion increased daily. The Canadians felt themselves doubly ruined, for it became known that the French Court had refused to redeem the paper that formed the whole currency of the colony; and, in their desperation, they preferred to trust the tried clemency of the enemy rather than exasperate him by persisting in a vain defence.

On August 25, Murray set sail and moved within 16 km of Montréal. Meanwhile Bourlamaque marched to Longueil and Boucherville while Dumas reached the Island of Montréal with his own corps.

On September 1, Lévis was informed that part of Murray's Corps had already landed at Varennes.

By September 3, Murray's Corps extended along the south bank of the Saint-Laurent.

Murray then moved up to Île Sainte-Thérèse, just below Montréal, encamped and waited for Haviland and Amherst to appear.

Advance from Lake Champlain along the Chambly (Richelieu) River

Vaudreuil had good hope of stopping the advance of Haviland. To this end, he had stationed Bougainville at Isle aux Noix with 1,700 men and Roquemaure at Saint-Jean, 20 km downstream, with about 1,350 men, besides all the Indians.

On July 14, Lévis sent M. de la Pause along the Yamaska and Saint-François rivers to reconnoitre the area between Baie Mississiquoi, the Chambly River and the Saint-Laurent, fearing that a British army could penetrate into Canada through these quarters.

On the evening of August 2, a prisoner captured at Crown Point informed the French that Amherst (in fact it was Haviland) was at Albany, that 3 of his battalions along with 7 militia battalions were at Ticonderoga and that they were ready to advance.

On August 9 at 4:00 a.m., 3 British vessels showed up at Isle aux Noix. The inhabitants were immediately assembled.

On August 11, Haviland embarked at Crown Point (former Fort Saint-Frédéric), with two battalions of regulars, and with Provincials and Indians sufficient to raise his force to 3,400 men.

After 4 days, Haviland reached Bougainville's position at Isle aux Noix.

On August 14, Haviland landed some troops near the island. As per Lévis, these troops consisted of 4 regular bns, some provincial rgts and 800 rangers for a total of about 8,500 men. This force was supplemented by 5 armed vessels (each mounting 18 to 20 guns), 2 floating 24-pdrs batteries and several gunboats.

On August 18, Haviland began to erect batteries in the swamp.

The British then made a landing 2 km upstream from Isle aux Noix and tried to make their way to the Rivière du Sud downstream of Isle aux Noix. The few remaining French vessels were deployed to block the mouth of the Rivière du Sud and additional troops were sent to reinforce Bougainville's Corps on Isle aux Noix. La Reine Infanterie and Royal Roussillon Infanterie were sent to Saint-Jean under the command of M. de Roquemaure who was later reinforced with all the Milice du district de Montréal.

On August 19, Lévis sent M. de la Pause to inspect the defences of Isle aux Noix.

In the night of August 20, M. de la Pause left Isle aux Noix to return to Montréal to report the situation to Lévis.

On August 23, British batteries opened on the fortifications of Isle aux Noix.

During the night of August 24 to 25, Major Darby with the light infantry and Rogers with the rangers, dragged 3 light pieces through the forest and planted them on the river-bank in the rear of Bougainville's position where lay the French naval force defending the mouth of the Rivière du Sud. This force consisting of 3 armed vessels and several gunboats, and was anchored close to the shore.

On the morning of August 25, Darby's cannon were turned upon the the vessels defending the mouth of the Rivière du Sud. The closest sloop cut her cable but her captain was killed and part of her crew killed or wounded. Soon the rest of the crew abandoned the sloop and a strong west wind then drove her ashore into the hands of the British. The other vessels and gunboats made all sail for Saint-Jean, but stranded in a bend of the river, where the rangers, swimming out with their tomahawks, boarded and took one of them, and the rest soon surrendered. With the threat of the French flotilla eliminated, the British transferred some barges on the Rivière du Sud. It was a fatal blow to Bougainville, whose communications with the next post, Saint-Jean, down the Chambly River, were severed.

On the night of August 27, in accordance with instructions from Vaudreuil, Bougainville abandoned the island, leaving only the wounded and about 50 men to hold Isle aux Noix, with instructions to surrender the following day. He then made his way with infinite difficulty through the dark forest on the left bank of the river towards Saint-Jean19 km downstream.

On August 28, British bateaux reached Saint-Jean, Roquemaure's Corps which occupied the fort retired out of cannon range. The same day, after a difficult march, Bougainville finally made a junction with Roquemaure near Saint-Jean.

On August 29, Bougainville remained in the area of Saint-Jean but was ready to retire to Montréal upon the arrival of Haviland's Corps. He sent garrisons to Fort Chambly and Sainte-Thérèse with instructions to burn Fort Sainte-Thérèse and to retire on Chambly. Canadian troops arriving from Isle aux Noix deserted. The Canadians occupying Saint-Jean did the same.

In the night of August 29 to 30, Haviland followed, the rangers leading the way. Several British bateaux showed up in front of Saint-Jean. M. de Roquemaure burned the town and retired between Saint-Jean and La Prairie. Bougainville and Roquemaure fell back, abandoned Saint-Jean and Chambly, and joined Bourlamaque on the banks of the Saint-Laurent, where the united force at first outnumbered that of Haviland, though fast melted away by discouragement and desertion.

On August 30 and 31, Haviland's Corps remained at Saint-Jean.

On September 1, Lévis who had been informed that part of Murray's Corps had already landed at Varennes, reconnoitred the position of M. de Roquemaure near Saint-Jean and ordered him to retire to Laprairie during the evening. The same day, Haviland's Corps advanced from Saint-Jean to Chambly. Haviland opened communication with Murray, and they both looked daily for the arrival of Amherst, whose approach was rumoured by prisoners and deserters.

On September 2, Lévis assembled his Indian Allies at Laprairie to ask them for their assistance. During the meeting, an Indian messenger arrived and informed the assembly that peace had been concluded with the British. The Indians dispersed immediately, leaving Lévis alone with his officers. The same day, the Chevalier de La Corne informed Lévis that Fort Lévis had been taken and that Amherst was at Les Cèdres within one day from Montréal. Lévis then gave orders for all French troops to the south of Montréal to retire to the Island of Montréal.

On September 3, according to Lévis' orders, French forces retired to the Island of Montréal.

Advance from Lake Ontario down the Saint-Laurent

On July 9, Amherst arrived at Oswego on Lake Ontario where his army was assembling.

In the first week of August, the last of the appointed regiments appeared at the rendezvous. The force now consisted of 8 weak battalions of British, numbering less than 6,000 men, with 4,500 Provincials under Brigadier-General Gage and 700 Indians under Sir William Johnson, or about 11,000 in all. The flotilla for the transport of the army was made up of nearly 800 whale-boats and bateaux, and was escorted by gunboats.

On August 3, Lévis was informed that 2 French vessels had been chased from Lake Ontario by a British brig.

On August 10, the entire force was embarked.

By August 15, the British flotilla had reached La Présentation, the seat of Father Piquet's mission. Nearby was a French armed brig, the Ottawa, with 10 cannon and 100 men, threatening destruction to Amherst's bateaux and whaleboats. Five gunboats attacked and captured her. Then the flotilla pursued its way among the Thousand Islands and was joined by two British armed vessels (probably the Onondaga (18) and Mohawk (16)) which had lingered behind, bewildered among the channels of these islands.

In the course of the advance the Onondaga (18) was taken by the French, and, though retaken, had to be abandoned.

On August 17, Lévis, who was inspecting Dumas' positions at Berthier on the north shore of the Saint-Laurent River, was informed that the French vessels operating on Lake Ontario had been forced to retire and that Amherst's Corps had now reached the rapids of the Saint-Laurent River. Lévis immediately quitted Berthier to return to Montréal.

Near the head of the rapids, a little below La Présentation, stood Fort Lévis, built the year before on an islet in mid-channel. Its garrison consisted of 300 men. Amherst might have passed its batteries with slight loss, continuing his voyage without paying it the honour of a siege; and this was what the French commanders feared that he would do. "We shall be fortunate," Lévis wrote to Bourlamaque, "if the enemy amuse themselves with capturing it. My chief anxiety is lest Amherst should reach Montréal so soon that we may not have time to unite our forces to attack Haviland or Murray." If he had better known the British commander, Lévis would have seen that he was not the man to leave a post of the enemy in his rear under any circumstances; and Amherst had also another reason for wishing to get the garrison into his hands, for he expected to find among them the pilots whom he needed to guide his boats down the rapids.

On August 21, Amherst invested Fort Lévis.

The Chevalier de La Corne with 400 men was sent to reinforce Fort Lévis who was under attack..

On August 23, Amherst cannonaded Fort Lévis from his vessels, the mainland, and the neighbouring islands. The fort was commanded by Pouchot, the late commandant of Niagara made prisoner in the last campaign, and since exchanged. As the rocky islet had but little earth, the defences, though thick and strong, were chiefly of logs, which flew in splinters under the bombardment. The French, however, made a brave resistance. The firing lasted all day.

In the morning of August 24, the British bombardment of Fort Lévis was resumed and continued two days more.

On August 25, Pouchot, whose works were in ruins, surrendered himself and his garrison. On this, Johnson's Indians prepared to kill the prisoners; and, being compelled to desist, three fourths of them went home in a rage. Despite Lévis' expectations, Fort Lévis had resisted for only 3 days. While retiring to Les Cèdres, La Corne's Corps, which consisted exclusively of inhabitants of Île Perrault and Montréal, simply disintegrated.

Meanwhile, repair of the fort and of his boats detained Amherst until August 30.

On August 31, Amherst quitted Fort Lévis and advanced downstream on the Saint-Laurent. The expedition now entered upon the most critical of its work, the descent of the rapids.

On September 1, Amherst's flotilla was compelled to proceed in single file. The Galops, the Rapide Plat, the Long Sault, the Côteau du Lac were passed in succession, with little loss.

On September 2, the Chevalier de La Corne informed Lévis that Fort Lévis had been taken and that Amherst was advancing with an army of 15,000 men and had now reached Les Cèdres within one day from Montréal. Lévis then gave orders for all French troops to the south of Montréal to retire to the Island of Montréal.

On September 3, according to Lévis' orders, French forces retired to the Island of Montréal.

On September 4, the flotilla reached the most dangerous of the rapids: the Cèdres, the Buisson, and the Cascades, where the reckless surges dashed and bounded in the sun. Boat after boat, borne on their foaming crests, rushed madly down the torrent. Of these, 46 bateaux (29 bateaux transporting men, 17 bateaux of artillery and stores) and 17 whale-boats were totally wrecked, 18 bateaux were damaged, 1 row galley was staved, and 84 men were drowned. La Corne was watching the rapids with a considerable body of Canadians; and it is difficult to see why this bold and enterprising chief allowed the army to descend undisturbed through passes so dangerous. At length the last rapid was left behind; and the flotilla, gliding in peace over the smooth breast of Lake Saint-Louis, landed at Île Perrot, about 35 km from Montréal.

On September 5, Amherst spent the day repairing his boats at Île Perrot.

In the morning of September 6, British troops embarked again. The French mounted volunteers who were observing Amhert's Army then retired from Île Perrot to Lachine, 11 km from Montréal, which they reached at the same time than the advanced elements of Amherst's Army who pursued them. By 11:00 a.m., Amherst's Army had landed unopposed at Lachine and marched without delay on Montréal. The French army retired within the walls of the town and Amherst encamped 1 km from Montréal. By then, all Canadians had deserted and only 2,000 French regulars were available for the defence of the town. The town was a long, narrow assemblage of wooden or stone houses, one or two stories high, above which rose the peaked towers of the Seminary, the spires of three churches, the walls of four convents, with the trees of their adjacent gardens, and, conspicuous at the lower end, a high mound of earth, crowned by a redoubt, where a few cannon were mounted. The whole was surrounded by a shallow moat and a bastioned stone wall, made for defence against Indians, and incapable of resisting cannon.

French Capitulation

In the morning of September 7, Amherst encamped above the place on the eastern side with the British Main Army, Murray landed to encamp below it; and Vaudreuil, looking across the Saint-Laurent, could see the tents of Haviland's little army on the southern shore. The town was crowded with non-combatant refugees. Here, too, was nearly all the remaining force of Canada, consisting of 2,200 troops of the line and some 200 men of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine; for all the Canadians had by this time gone home. Many of the regulars, especially of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine, had also deserted; and the rest were so broken in discipline that their officers were forced to use entreaties instead of commands. The three British armies encamped around the city amounted to 17,000 men; Amherst was bringing up his cannon from Lachine, and the fortifications of Montréal were contemptible except for defence against Indians.

During the night of September 7 to 8, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, the French governor of Canada, called a council of war. It was resolved that since all the militia and many of the regulars had abandoned the army, and the Indian allies of France had gone over to the enemy, further resistance was impossible. Bougainville was sent to ask for a suspension of arms for one month. His request was rejected and Amherst gave the French six hours to take their final decision. Vaudreuil then laid before the assembled officers a long paper that he had drawn up, containing 55 articles of capitulation to be proposed to the British; and these were unanimously approved.

In the morning of September 8, the inhabitants of Montréal refused to take arms. A battalion of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine was still stationed at Île Sainte-Hélène. The Marie had been fully armed as well as the 2 half-galleys and the batteries of Île Sainte-Hélène and the rest of the French Army had been posted along the walls of Montréal. At 10:00 a.m., Murray's army landed at Pointe-aux-Trembles and marched to Longue-Pointe. At 10:00 a.m., Bougainville carried the articles of capitulation to the tent of Amherst. He granted the greater part, modified some, and flatly refused others. That which the French officers thought more important than all the rest was the provision that the troops should march out with arms, cannon, and the honours of war; to which it was replied: "The whole garrison of Montréal and all other French troops in Canada must lay down their arms, and shall not serve during the present war." This demand was felt to be intolerable. Vaudreuil sent Bougainville back to remonstrate; but Amherst was inflexible. Then Lévis tried to shake his resolution, and sent him an officer with the following note: "I send your Excellency M. de la Pause, assistant quartermaster-general of the army, on the subject of the too rigorous article which you dictate to the troops by the capitulation, to which it would not be possible for us to subscribe." Amherst answered the envoy: "I am fully resolved, for the infamous part the troops of France have acted in exciting the savages to perpetrate the most horrid and unheard of barbarities in the whole progress of the war, and for other open treacheries and flagrant breaches of faith, to manifest to all the world by this capitulation my detestation of such practices;" and he dismissed La Pause with a short note, refusing to change the conditions. Finally, at 8:00 a.m., despite expostulation which rose almost to the point of mutiny on the part of Lévis, the capitulation was signed. Lévis gave orders to his battalions to burn their colours. In the evening, Murray's Corps advanced up to the Récollets suburbs.

By this capitulation, Canada and all its dependencies passed to the British crown. French officers, civil and military, with French troops and sailors, were to be sent to France in British ships. Free exercise of religion was assured to the people of the colony, and the religious communities were to retain their possessions, rights, and privileges. All persons who might wish to retire to France were allowed to do so, and the Canadians were to remain in full enjoyment of feudal and other property, including black and Indian slaves. Thus, half a continent passed into the hands of Great Britain. The same day, Haviland arrived on the southern shore against Amherst's camp. The junction was sufficiently complete, and the work of the campaign was practically done.

On September 9, a British detachment with some artillery entered into Montréal and took position on the Places d'Armes where, one after the other, the French battalions deposited arms before returning to their camp on the ramparts where they were reviewed by Lévis. The British then took possession of all posts within Montréal. By this date, the French Army in Canada were reduced to the following forces.

The French army in Canada – September 9 1760
Unit Fit
for duty
in Montréal
Unfit
for duty
In Mohawk
Camps
Deserted
or missing
Total Officers
present
II./La Reine (1 bn) 276 34 36 84 430 21
II./La Sarre (1 bn) 186 24 33 119 362 19
II./Royal Roussillon (1 bn) 240 30 27 79 376 24
II./Languedoc (1 bn) 154 36 53 130 373 23
II./Guyenne (1 bn) 224 36 40 86 386 23
Berry (2 bns) 588 68 60 100 816 46
II./Béarn (1 bn) 285 13 8 72 378 23

On September 10, French detachments were sent to recover baggage in the quarters of each battalion.

From September 11 to 13, the British provincial militia where sent back home while measures were taken to garrison Montréal for the winter. Transport vessels were readied to embark the French troops for their return to France.

On September 14, Languedoc Infanterie, Berry Infanterie and the Compagnies Franches de la Marine were embarked aboard transports.

On September 15, Royal Roussillon Infanterie, La Sarre Infanterie and Guyenne Infanterie embarked.

On September 16, La Reine Infanterie and Béarn Infanterie embarked.

On September 17, Lévis and Bourlamaque left for Québec.

On September 20, Vaudreuil left for Québec.

On September 21, Bigot left for Québec.

On October 10 and 11, the British vessels transporting the French troops arrived at Québec.

Throughout the month of October, the British vessels transporting the French troops gradually sailed from Québec for France.

On October 18, Lévis sailed from Québec.

On November 26, Lévis arrived at La Rochelle. His troops arrived in France in December.

On December 6, Lévis arrived at Paris.

References

This article is essentially an abridged and adapted version of texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Anonymous: A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 529-530
  • Clowes, Wm. Laird: The Royal Navy – A History from the Earliest Time to the Present, Vol. III, Sampson Low, Marston and Company, London: 1898, pp. 226-228
  • Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 395-400
  • Lévis, Chevalier de: Journal des campagnes du chevalier de Lévis en Canada de 1756 à 1760, Montréal, Beauchemin, 1889, pp. 238, 241, 256-257, 287-315
  • Parkman, Francis: Montcalm and Wolfe, Collier Books, New York, 1884, pp. 516-525