Surrender of Quebec City

General James Wolfe was struck on the wrist early in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, yet he continued on with his hand wrapped in cloth.

Then he was struck twice again, once in the stomach and once in the chest. He died before the battle ended. With Wolfe dead, the pursuit of the fleeing French became chaotic and bloody.

Brigadier-General George Townshend took command of the troops and ordered to turn and meet the French, coming from Cap-Rouge, under the command of de Bougainville. At this moment, the general Joseph de Montcalm was struck by what was either a piece of artillery or repeated musket fire. He was taken inside the wall of Quebec City.

The French command passed to Lieutenant Jean-Baptiste-Nicalas-Roch de Ramezay, who was ill and had to leave the hospital to take the command. Ramezay was left within Quebec City with a force of 2200 men. He estimated than he had eight days of rations. Meanwhile, Governor Vaudreuil of Quebec held a council of war at Beauport. During the council, he announced his decision to retreat 46 km upriver, and he presented de Ramezay with terms for the surrender of Quebec. In fact, de Ramezay was instructed to give up the capital of New France before it suffered a damaging assault.

Aghast, the lieutenant appealed to wounded Montcalm to intercede, but the general was too weak to respond. Montcalm died the next morning. On 15 September 1759, representatives of Quebec City’s 4 thousand inhabitants requested that de Ramezay surrender the city. De Ramezay replied than the city still could resist and the winter was coming, so the English would retreat eventually. But he was stunned when 13 of his own officers recommended adopting the request.

On 17 September 1759, Major General Francois de Gaston, Chevalier de Levis arrived from Montreal to Jacques-Cartier, where Vaudreuil stood. Levis proposed to return to Quebec City with all the forces and again engage the British on the Plains of Abraham. Vaudreuil sent new instructions to Ramezay, but hi never got them. The situation in the city was worsening. Rations became tight, illness was spreading.

The British assembled cannons on the Plains of Abraham. Ramezay was under the pressure from the citizens and from his officers. Unaware of new instructions, he entered into negotiations for the surrender of the city. Townsend accepted all demands from Ramezay, afraid than the French would change their mind.

On the morning of 18 September 1759 all the articles of capitulation of Quebec were signed and all hostilities ceased. With winter approaching, the British sailed out of the Saint Lawrence on 19 October 1759, one month after the fall of the capital of New France, leaving 4 thousand men in Quebec City under the command of General James Murray.

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