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Chris Scott Wilson                   Writer                                             

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    A two-pronged attack on the French was planned, explained Lord Ligonier, one via Lake George and the other up the St Lawrence against Quebec. The mere fact Ligonier was telling him alerted Wolfe he was in a good position to forward his case. He showed no hesitation in doing so, offering to lead the Quebec attack. He then retired to Bath for a week before being recalled to the capital where he discovered in his absence the prime minister, William Pitt, (probably under Ligonier’s advice) had recommended him to King George II. Wolfe should not have been surprised. He had taken no chances after the Ligonier meeting, writing to Pitt personally to offer his services if operations continued on the St Lawrence. Confirmation came just after Christmas when a commission dated 12th January 1759 named him major-general and C-in-C of the Quebec expedition, under the overall command of Amherst who had been appointed Commander-in-Chief in America.

    When Wolfe had returned to England, Cook sailed Pembroke into Halifax where she had earlier completed her crew after the scurvy episode. Winter in the St Lawrence lasts a long time, some five months, the seaway choked with ice. But the French had not abandoned their colonies. The British naval blockade was not 100% effective. The French managed to ferry much needed supplies into the St Lawrence using fast navires de flute. These vessels were of Dutch origin, developed in the 16th century to be super-efficient when used as traders. Against vessels of a comparative size, flutes could be handled by a much smaller crew but carry twice the cargo. Their design made them cheaper to build but the light construction rendered them unsuitable for mounting guns. This was immaterial as speed and silence were the top priorities.

    But if the French succeeded in slipping by some 20 flutes packed to the gunnels with supplies, it was only prolonging the inevitable. The British had determined they would take Quebec, and Pitt was ready to give Wolfe ten battalions (12,000 men) of infantry, but all were under strength which actually made the figure more like 8,500 troops. It amounted to a considerable force when combined with the support of His Britannic Majesty’s Navy under Vice-Admiral Charles Saunders who commanded 22 ships-of-the-line, each mounting 50 guns, plus another 27  smaller  naval   vessels  and   some  100  


...more Captain Cook, Man of the Sea




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