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From A Dialogue in Hades. A Parallel of Military Errors of which the French and English were guilty, during the Campaign of 1759, in Canada, attributed to Chevalier Johnstone. [With Notes by J. M. LeMoine. Published under the Auspices of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec; Quebec: Printed at the “Morning Chronicle” Office, 1887; pp. 3-59.


[Published under the Auspices of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec.]






11 18 54




Extract of the Register of Marriages, Baptisms and Deaths of the French Cathedral at Quebec, for 1759: —

“L’an mil sept cens cinquante-neuf, le quatorzième du mois de Septembre, a été inhumé dans l’Eglise des Religieuses Ursulines de Québec, haut et puissant Seigneur Louis Joseph Marquis de Montcalm, Lieutenant Général des armées du Roy, Commandeur de l’ordre Royal et militaire de St. Louis, Commandant en chef des troupes de terre en l’Amérique Septentrionale, décédé le même jour de ses blessures au combat de la veille, muni des sacrements qu’il a reçus avec beaucoup de piété et de Religion. Etoient présents à son inhumation MM. Resche, Cugnet et Collet, chanoines de la Cathédrale, M. de Ramezay, Commandant de la Place, et tout le corps des officiers.


“RESCHE, Ptre. Chan.
“COLLETT. Chne.”

“The year seventeen hundred fifty nine, the fourteenth of the month of September, high and mighty Lord Louis Joseph Marquis de Montcalm, Lieutenant-General of the King's Armies, Commander of the Royal and Military Order of St. Louis, Commander-in-Chief of the land forces in North America, has been buried in the Church of the Ursuline Nuns of Quebec, deceased this same day from his wounds from the combat the day before, fortified with the sacraments that he received with much piety and Faith. Messrs. Resche, Cugnet and Collet, canons of the Cathedral, Mr. de Ramezay, Garrison Commander, and the entire body of the officers were present at his burial.


“RESCHE, Prt. Can.*
“COLLETT. Can.”]

*  Ptre., in French is the abbreviation for prêtre, a ‘priest.’ Chne., and, I assume, Chan., are both abbreviations for chanoine, a ‘canon.’ In the Catholic church, a canon can be a priest, or a lay member of the church. I do not know if this explains the difference in the different spellings of the abbreviations used here. It seems to me that Resche is both a priest and a canon, while Collett may be a lay canon. I asked Bill, who is bilingual in French and English (and who kindly fine-tuned my translation), and he knows nothing more about the issue either. Just as puzzled, he did say that the problem is illustrative of his own apt maxim:

“Moral: when dealing with canons, it's best not to go off half-cocked.”

I tend to agree with him — Elf.Ed.


1  Formerly, inward bound ships, instead of taking the south channel lower down than Goose Island, struck over from Cape Tourmente, and took the south channel between Madame Island and Pointe Argentenay.

2  General Abercrombie’s army consisted of 6,000 regular troops and 7,000 provincials, according to the English; but the French gave them out to be 6,300 troops, and 13,000 provincials — in all 19,300 men.

3  The French say the English lost between four and five thousand men.

4  Unfortunately, the plans here alluded to do not accompany the manuscript.

5  This contest is generally denominated the Battle of the Monongahela. Capt. Daniel Liénard de Beaujeu commanded the Canadians, and achieved a most brilliant victory over General Braddock and George Washington; the English losing their provisions, baggage, fifteen cannon, many small arms, the military chest, Braddock’s papers. Washington, after the battle, wrote: “We have been beaten, shamefully beaten, by a handful of French.” — (J. M. L[eMoine].)

6  De Vergor’s post apparently stood about a 100 yard to the east of the spot on which Wolfe’s Field-cottage has since been built. The ruins still exist. — J. M. L.)

7  De Vergor’s guard was composed chiefly of Militiamen from Lorette, who on that day had obtained leave to go and work on their farms, provided they also worked on a farm Captain De Vergor owned. — “Mémoires sur les Affaires de la Colonie de 1749-60.” Some historians have intimated that De Vergor — a protége of Bigot’s — was a traitor to his King. — (J. M. L.)

8  I incline more to General Wolfe’s opinion than what Voltaire reports in the war of 1781, to have been the King of Prussia’s maxim: — “That we ought always to do what the enemy is afraid of.” Where the enemy is afraid of anything in particular, he has there his largest force, and is there more on his guard than anywhere else. — (Manuscript Note.)

9  Bigot’s coterie. — (J. M. L.)

10  It was reported in Canada, that the ball which killed that great, good and honest man, was not fired by an English musket. But I never credited this.

11  Arnoux gave me this account of his last moments. — Manuscript Notes.

12  The place where Montcalm died appears yet shrouded in doubt. It is stated, in Knox’s Journal, that, on being wounded, Montcalm was conveyed to the General Hospital, towards which the French squadrons in retreat had to pass to regain, over the bridge of boats, their camp at Beauport. The General Hospital was also the head-quarters of the wounded — both English and French. It has been supposed that Arnoux’s house, where Montcalm was conveyed, stood in St. Louis street. No where does it appear that Montcalm was conveyed to his own residence on the ramparts (on which now stands the residence of R. H. Wurtele, Esquire). As the city surrendered five days after the great battle, it was likely to be bombarded — and, moreover, one-third of the houses in it had been burnt and destroyed — we do not see why the wounded General should have been conveyed from the battle-field to the Château St. Louis — certainly an exposed situation in the event of a new bombardment; and, moreover, the city itself, after and during the battle, was considered so insecure that the French army, instead of retreating to it for shelter, hurried past the General Hospital, over the bridge, to their camp at Beauport. There is a passage in Lieutenant-Colonel Beatson’s Notes on the Plains of Abraham, which we give: — “The valiant Frenchman (Montcalm), regardless of pain, relaxed not his efforts to rally his broken battalions in their hurried retreat towards the city until he was shot through the loins, when within a few hundred yards of St. Louis Gate.a And so invincible was his fortitude that not even the severity of this mortal stroke could abate his gallant spirit or alter his intrepid bearing. Supported by two grenadiers — one at each side of his horse — he re-entered the city; and in reply to some women, who, on seeing blood flow from his wounds as he rode down St. Louis street, on his way to the Château, exclaimed: Oh, mon Dieu! mon Dieu! Le Marquis est tué !!! he courteously assured them that he was not seriously hurt, and begged of them not to distress themselves on his account. — Ce n’est rien! ce n’est rien! Ne vous affligez pas pour moi, mes bonnes amies.”b

a  M. Garneau, in his Histoire du Canada, says: — “The two Brigadier-Generals, M. de Senezergues and the Baron de St. Ours, fell mortally wounded; and Montcalm (who had already received two wounds), while exerting himself to the utmost to rally his troops and preserve order in the retreat, was also mortally wounded in the loins by a musket-ball. He was at that moment between Les Buttes-a-Neveu and St. Louis Gate.” From the city, on the one side, and from the battle-field, on the other, the ground rises until the two slopes meet and form a ridge; the summit of which was formerly occupied by a windmill belonging to a man named Neveu or Nepveu. About midway between this ridge and St. Louis Gate, and to the southward of the St. Louis Road, are some slight eminences, still known by the older French residents as Less Buttes-a-Nepveu or Neveu’s hillocks, and about three-quarters of a mile distant from the spot where the British line charged. — R. S. Beatson.

b  For these particulars I am indebted to my friend Mr. G. B. Faribault — a gentleman well known in Canada for his researches into the history of the Colony; whose information on this subject was derived from his much respected fellow-citizen the Hon. John Malcolm Frazer — grandson of one of Wolfe’s officers, and now (1854) one of the oldest inhabitants of Quebec; where, in his childhood and youth, he had the facts, as above narrated, often described to him by an elderly woman who, when about eighteen years of age, was an eye-witness of the scene. — R. S. Beatson.

13  This bakehouse appears to have been some where at the foot of Abraham’s hill.

14  The excavations of these French works are very visible to this day behind Mr. G. H. Parke’s residence, Ringfield, Charlesbourg road. The hornwork appears to have covered about twelve acres of ground, surrounded by a ditch.

15  It crossed the St. Charles a little higher up than the Marine Hospital, at the foot of Crown street. — (J. M. L)

16  A small bridge supported on masonry has since been built at this spot, exactly across the main road at Brown’s mills. — (J. M. L)

17  The deliberations of the council of war, called at M. Daine’s, Mayor of Quebec, on the 15th September, 1759, published in de Ramsay’s Memoires, in 1861, by the Literary and Historical Society, have done an effective, though a tardy, justice to de Ramsay’s memory. — (J. M. L)

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