Battles of the French and Indian War: Plains of Abraham

 

This page describes the Battle of the Plains of Abraham during the French and Indian War.

 

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Battle of the Plains of Abraham

Battle of the Plains of Abraham – Public Domain

The Battle of Quebec City, often referred to as the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, was one of the most important British victories in the French and Indian War. It was fought on September 13, 1759.

The battle was actually the end of a long siege that began on June 26, when British forces sailed south from Louisbourg on the St. Lawrence River, and landed near Quebec City. The British fleet, under the command of Charles Saunders, featured 49 boats, 1,944 guns, and 13,500 soldiers. They landed their boats in a small cove and were forced to climb a steep cliff and subdue French snipers at the top of the cliff to gain access to an area called the Plains of Abraham, two miles west of Quebec City.

Meanwhile, French forces, under the command of Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, numbered over 13,000 strong and were positioned inside Quebec City.

On September 13, James Wolfe and 4,400 soldiers began forming battle lines on the Plains of Abraham. At the same time, Montcalm and 4,000 soldiers left Quebec City and engaged the British on the plains. Many historians have viewed Montcalm’s decision to leave Quebec City as a severe tactical error. Firing began when the two armies met. The British soon gained an advantage and the French quickly accumulated many casualties. Subsequent charges by French forces were easily repulsed by the British. In the battle, General James Wolfe and General Montcalm were both fatally wounded. The French army was forced to retreat back to Quebec City. Upon news of Montcalm’s defeat, French naval forces on the St. Lawrence River also retreated. Quebec City was surrendered on September 18, following a lengthy British assault. The loss of Quebec essentially sealed victory for the British in the French and Indian War.

Following the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, the British and French again fought near Quebec City in what came to be known as the Battle of Sainte-Foy. On April 28, 1760, French forces of over 7,000 soldiers returned to Quebec City. Despite defeating the British, and inflicting over 2,000 casualties, the French could not retake Quebec City. British naval reinforcements soon arrived, and the French were forced back to Montreal.