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the morning of the thirteenth of September, Wolfe, Moncton and Murray, with about half the forces, set off in boats and, using neither sail nor oars, glided down with the tide, every officer knew his appointed duty. Silence pervaded the flotilla, and it was a thrilling moment. The night was intensely dark; but the ships followed and reached the cove just in time to cover the landing. Wolfe and his troops with him leaped on the shore. Of the ascent to the plains of Abraham, perhaps there has never been written a more graphic account than the following, which we extract from the letter Noah Stevens wrote to his wife:
“I was with the light infantry and Americans in the first boats, and we were borne by the current a little below the path which we were to ascend. However, we effected a landing on a narrow strip of stony beach beneath the steep cliff. It was so dark, I could scarcely see my hand before me, nor did I know whether my own men were about me or the British regulars. Some one who was at my side said:
“We can scale the cliff.'
“ Then I gave the command to the men, who slung their muskets on their backs and began to climb from one jutting crag to another, staying themselves by the roots and boughs of the mapie, spruce and ash trees that covered the precipitous declivity. The night was cloudy, not a star appeared, nor could I see the men at my side. I thought I was first to start up the steep; but ere long my head struck against the heel of a soldier above me, and I knew that some one was in advance. At the same time, some one at my feet was pressing me upward, while on each side men were ascending. Only the deep-drawn breath, the scrambling of feet, the loosening of earth and crackling of roots and bushes could be heard. Not a word was uttered. I need not deny that I had a dread of the result. We knew nothing of the cliff we were ascending. At any moment, the men above might lose their hold and come tumbling down upon us, we in turn fall upon those below, until the whole regiment fell senseless and bleeding at the bottom of the bluff, but not a man lost his hold, though we moved rapidly, yet carefully. At every second I dreaded, expected and at the same time longed to hear the reports of guns, which would tell us that the top of the cliff was reached and the enemy struck. It seemed hours—it seemed an age climbing up the cliff in the darkness. Then I heard voices. They were Canadians speaking in French. They evidently hailed some one, and next moment I distinctly heard the report of a musket. It was followed by three or four more. The soldiers, hastening up the narrow path, struck
the enemy first and crowded them close. Our boys cheered and sprang up to the top as rapidly as they could. One poor fellow was either struck by a ball, or lost his hold, for I heard him falling back among the bushes and rocks below. With a loud cheer, I leaped on the top, and, forming what men had already gained the summit, we charged on the battery of four guns, which Colonel Howe had already captured. When Townshend's division disembarked we had already gained one of the roads to Quebec, and, advancing in front of the forest, formed our lines of battle and awaited the dawn of day to begin the engagement.”
Thus, at daybreak, Wolfe with his invincible battalions stood on the plains of Abraham, the battlefield of the Celtic and Saxon races.
In his intrenchments on the other side of the St. Charles, Montcalm heard the news of the approach of the English with amazement.
"It can be but a small party, come to burn a few houses and retire,” he said to a subaltern; but on learning more, he cried, “ Then they have at last got to the weak side of this miserable garrison; we must give battle and crush them before midday.”
Before ten o'clock, the two armies, equal in number, each being composed of less than five thousand men, were ranged in presence of one another for battle. The English, not easily accessible from intervening shallow ravines and rail fences, were nearly all regulars, perfect in discipline, terrible in their fearless enthusiasm, thrilling with pride at the morning's progress, commanded by a man whom they obeyed with confidence and love. Montcalm, who had but five weak battalions of less than two thousand French regulars“ mingled with disorderly peasantry,” formed on commanding ground. The French had three small pieces of artillery, the English had but two, which they had dragged by ropes up the terrible steep during the night. For nearly an hour, the two armies cannonaded each other; when Montcalm, having summoned De Bougainville to his aid, and despatched messenger after messenger for De Vaudreuil, who had fifteen hundred men at the camp, to come up before he should be driven from the ground, endeavored to flank the British and drive them over the high bank of the river. Wolfe counteracted the movement by detaching Townshend with Amherst's regiment, and afterward a part of the royal Americans, who formed the left with a double front.
Despairing of reinforcement, Montcalm led the French army impetuously to the attack. The illdisciplined companies, broken by their precipitation and the unevenness of the ground, fired by
platoons, without unity. Their adversaries, especially the forty-third and forty-seventh, where Moncton stood, of which three men out of every four were Americans, received the shock with calmness, and, after having, at Wolfe's command, reserved their fire till their enemy was within forty yards, their line began a regular, rapid, and exact discharge of musketry. Montcalm saw the danger which threatened his army, and was everywhere cheering his men by example, although the blood flowed from a wound he had received. The second in command, De Sennesergues, an associate in the glory at Ticonderoga, was killed. The brave but untried Canadians, flinching from so hot a fire in the open field, began to waver; and Wolfe, seeing this, placed himself at the head of the twenty-eighth and the Louisburg grenadiers and charged with bayonets. Though the enemy everywhere gave way, this proved a fatal charge. Of the English officers, Carleton was wounded and Barre, who fought near Wolfe, received a ball in the head, which destroyed one eye and ultimately both. Wolfe, who led the charge, was wounded in the wrist; but, still pressing forward, he received a second shot more serious; and just as the battle was decided by the utter rout of the enemy a third bullet struck him in the breast.
“Support me!” he cried to an officer near him;