French fireships attacking the English fleet off Quebec, 28 June 1759
An incident during the Seven Years War, 1756-63, between France and Britain. 1759 was a year of victories for Britain and on 26 June Admiral Sir Charles Saunders' powerful fleet, which had conveyed Major-General James Wolfe's land forces to Canada, anchored off the Ile d'Orleans on the St Lawrence River, below Quebec. At midnight on 28 June the French attacked with seven fire-ships and two fire-rafts. Saunders had received advance warning and the boats of the fleet were sent out loaded with his men, who grappled the fire-vessels and towed them safely clear of his ships. On 13 September Wolfe's infantry were landed in boats below the Heights of Abraham and scaled them during the night to reach the plateau outside the city. There they defeated the French army of the Marquis de Montcalm, in a set-piece battle of which both Wolfe and Montcalm were the leading casualties. On 18 September the city capitulated, marking the beginning of the end for the French colonies in North America. Within the year mainland Canada was completely in British hands.
- Image reference: BHC0391
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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