Chris Scott Wilson Writer
British, no strangers to using fireships themselves, had moored ship’s boats to buoys in the channel, manned by crews waiting for just such an attack. They intercepted five burning vessels and towed them clear, a brave move as they could have exploded at any time, but the sailors laughed afterwards the French had given them “the grandest fireworks.” They tried again on the 25th July, this time using rafts : “the French sent five Fire-Floats down, which made great Confusion among our Fleet; but the Men of War sent their Boats and tow'd them ashore, where they burnt out without further Damage,” wrote the 40th grenadiers' sergeant-major.
Wolfe had established a gun battery on the south side of the river which began an unrelenting bombardment of the city on the north side. During the ensuing days of July the lower part of the city was severely damaged, either by destructive ball or set alight by incendiaries. Wolfe ordered what became an abortive landing. The grenadier NCO recorded, “their Cannon play'd very briskly on us; but their Small-Arms, in their Trenches, lay cool 'till they were sure of their Mark; then they pour 'd their Small-Shot like Showers of Hail, which caus'd our brave Grenadiers to fall very fast.” The loss of some 400 men made it obvious a different strategy was necessary. There was also the added pressure of time. The conquest had to be accomplished before the long winter arrived to bring all movement to a standstill when the St Lawrence would freeze over. If no progress had been made they would have to retreat before they were cut off, and all the efforts thus far would have been wasted.
Wolfe wrote to his mother, "My Antagonist has wisely shut himself up in inaccessible entrenchments, so that I cant get at him without spilling a torrent
...more Captain Cook, Man of the Sea
A contemporary map of Quebec, looking north. Wolfe's camp was some miles downriver on the right, one obstacle to his advance being Montgomery Falls.