In 1759, on this day Major-General James Wolfe issued his final orders to the nine thousand troops of the British Army garrisoned on the St Lawrence River some eleven miles from the fortified city of Quebec, urging them to remember "what their country expects from them, and what a determined body of soldiers, inured to war, is capable of doing against five weak French battalions mingled with disorderly peasantry".
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Suicide MissionIn fact the British were outnumbered by General Louis-Joseph Marquis de Montcalm's twelve thousand defenders who were entrenched behind sound defences in the city. Wolfe's plan was nothing less than a suicide mission, a nine-mile descent of the St Lawrence under cover of darkness, followed by an amphibious assault on the cliff-backed Foulon Cove.
"Are at all times to imitate them in that respect"Wolfe's no-nonsense "volley and bayonet" tactics had been adapted from military minds such as Gustavus Adolphus and Charles XII. And the stunning success of the thirty-two year Major-General would prefigure his rise to the highest ranks of the British Army; as Commander-in-Chief during the American Revolution Wolfe would decisively defeat an even more formidable foe by the name of George Washington.