The Worlds Famous Orations. Great Britain: I. (7101777). 1906.
To His Army Before Quebec
James Wolfe (172759)
Born in 1727, died in 1759; served against the Scottish insurgents in 17451746; made a Brigadier in 1758; commanded a division at Louisburg in 1758; made a Major-General in 1759; commanded the expedition to Quebec in the same year, and died on the Plains of Abraham in the hour of victory.
I CONGRATULATE1 you, my brave countrymen and fellow soldiers, on the spirit and success with which you have executed this important part of our enterprise. The formidable Heights of Abraham are now surmounted; and the city of Quebec, the object of all our toils, now stands in full view before us. A perfidious enemy, who have dared to exasperate you by their cruelties, but not to oppose you on equal ground, are now constrained to face you on the open plain, without ramparts or intrenchments to shelter them.
You know too well the forces which compose their army to dread their superior numbers. A few regular troops from old France, weakened by hunger and sickness, who, when fresh, were unable to withstand the British soldiers, are their generals chief dependence. Those numerous companies of Canadians, insolent, mutinous, unsteady, and ill-disciplined, have exercised his utmost skill to keep them together to this time; and, as soon as their irregular ardor is damped by one firm fire, they will instantly turn their backs, and give you no further trouble but in the pursuit. As for those savage tribes of Indians, whose horrid yells in the forest have struck many a bold heart with affright, terrible as they are with a tomahawk and scalping-knife to a flying and prostrate foe, you have experienced how little their ferocity is to be dreaded by resolute men upon fair and open ground: you can now only consider them as the just objects of a severe revenge for the unhappy fate of many slaughtered countrymen.
This day puts it into your power to terminate the fatigues of a siege which has so long employed your courage and patience. Possessed with a full confidence of the certain success which British valor must gain over such enemies, I have led you up these steep and dangerous rocks, only solicitous to show you the foe within your reach. The impossibility of a retreat makes no difference in the situation of men resolved to conquer or die; and, believe me, my friends, if your conquest could be bought with the blood of your general, he would most cheerfully resign a life which he has long devoted to his country.
Note 1. Delivered on the Plains of Abraham, before the battle, September 13, 1759. Wolfes men had been drawn up in six battalions in first line facing Quebec, two battalions covering the left flank, one being held in reserve. [back]