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Chris Scott Wilson                   Writer                                             


...more Captain Cook, Man of the Sea


cook 76D Quebec uniforms pvt PD



British Army. Private's uniform in the 1760s as worn at Quebec.

the British manhandling artillery up to the Plains of Abraham to shell the city, he listened to the army council of war and the townspeople’s pleas and had hoisted the white flag. In Jacques-Cartier, the governor changed his mind, but by the time his instructions arrived, Ramezay had already signed the surrender.

    Brigadier Lévis immediately began to hatch plans. If he could get word to France to send reinforcements and supplies to reach them before the British returned to the St Lawrence in the spring, then he had a chance of regaining the city. As soon as Lord Colville’s squadron left Quebec to winter at Halifax, Lévis ordered the remaining French ships to return to Europe, carrying despatches which included his report of what had occurred at Quebec and warning that without fresh supplies and support they would lose all the French colonies.

    Brigadier James Murray commanded the British garrison in Quebec, and throughout the winter saw his garrison weakened by disease from 7,500 to 4,000, mainly by the bitter cold and scurvy, unable to procure fresh food from the surrounding area due to harrassment from Canadian detachments. Murray had been well thought of by Wolfe, others remarking he was “a man of the most ardent and intrepid courage,”  while his detractors thought him “hot-headed and impetuous, inclined to underrate the offensive power of his opponents”.  Both these were qualities which led him to favour attack rather than defence.

    Lévis collaborated with Governor Vaudreuil, planning and  organising their troops while in winter quarters and on 20th April 1760 Lévis led an army of 7,000 men from Montreal to assault Quebec. Murray stalled him on the Plains of Abraham on the 28th and after a battle which looked as though it could have gone either way, the British were forced to retreat inside the city walls. Lévis then laid siege as the British had done the previous year.

    As sailing master, James Cook had possession of the quarterdeck of  HMS Northumberland, no doubt under the watchful eye of the flag captain and Lord Colville when the squadron cleared Halifax on 22nd April, but two days later a solid field of sea ice halted them. Delays and no doubt frustration lasted well into May until they were able to make all sail. Meanwhile, captain Robert Swanton commanding HMS Vanguard and a small squadron had been sent from England to prevent the French navy resupplying Lévis. Vanguard anchored in the St Lawrence on 11th May with the frigate Diana to wait for the remainder of his command to assemble. When intelligence reached him from brigadier Murray that Quebec was under attack from Lévis whose troops now numbered some 11,000, supported by the firepower of two French frigates Atalante and Pomone, Captain  Swanton  in Vanguard,  along  with Diana   sailed   

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