In 1727, on this day the ruthless British General James Peter Wolfe was born in Westerham, Kent.
Architect of the Northern ArmageddonA life-long military career began at the age of just thirteen when he volunteered for his father's first Marine regiment. But the moment when Wolfe exploded on the world stage was the summer of 1759. As a thirty-two year old General, Wolfe was responsible for the capture of Quebec, the pivotal military decision which ensured that the future of North America would be determined by the British.
"I propose to set the town on fire with shells, to destroy the harvest, houses and cattle, both above and below, to send off as many Canadians as possible to Europe and to leave famine and desolation behind me; but we must teach these scoundrels to make war in a more gentleman like manner" The Supreme Commander of French Forces in North America, the Marquis de Montcalm, believed that Quebec was an "impregnable Gibraltar of the New World". And so it seemed, after months of vicious fighting througout the St Lawrence River region. In desperation, Wolfe attempted a "back door" strategy of sneaking troops over the cliffs at the Plains of Abraham. And yet the information provided by "French turncoats" was in fact the work of double agents, and the amphibious assault failed in fifteen minutes of battle.
By now Wolfe fully understood the unique history of Quebec, realising the French would never give up the city. Because founder Champlain and only eight men survived the first Quebec winter, a sign of the enduring French commitment to the settlement. Accordingly, Wolfe carried out his threat to execute a "Northern Armaggedon". Because Quebec City was destroyed, and its population expelled.
Seventeen years later, Wolfe was appointed Supreme Commander of British Forces in North America. The ruthless prosecution of his orders to suppress "the troubles" on the East Coast would still provoke intense emotions two hundred and fifty years later.