The Conquest

The Siege of Quebec

Attack at Montmorency Fails

Unable to defend both banks of the St. Lawrence, the French concentrated their forces on the north shore. The south shore and Île d'Orléans were immediately occupied by the British troops, who installed a large siege artillery battery on Pointe de Lévy to fire on Quebec.

Wolfe also knew he would be unable to take the city, a natural fortress strengthened by many fortifications, with artillery alone: he had to find a way to breach the French lines. In spite of its cliffs, the Beauport shore soon struck him as the most appropriate place to carry out the manoeuvre. He therefore decided to launch an attack near Montmorency Falls. On July 31 scores of landing boats carrying hundreds of elite soldiers made for the beach. After landing, the troops met very little resistance and Wolfe immediately ordered them to attack the entrenched positions on the heights. This proved to be a costly error. Instead of reforming ranks, the grenadiers, carried away by their enthusiasm, began to climb the escarpment in a very disorganized manner and quickly became an ideal target for the heavy fire of the French soldiers, militiamen and Amerindians, who were well sheltered behind their positions. The assault turned into a disaster. Having lost some 200 soldiers in this failed operation, Wolfe ordered a retreat.