The 15 Minute Battle

15 Minute Battle


Fifteen minutes was all it took to destroy hundreds of years of French claim and history in America. In 1759, General James Wolfe led the British to a victory that trumped all other victories in America so far. He had successfully defeated France after many attempts by other troops. But how did he manage to do it in such a short period of time?

The battle technically started 3 months prior to Wolfe’s victory. They made their way into the St. Lawrence River, holding off French fire impressively to land his fleet on the outskirts of Quebec. Because Quebec had such an imposing and extraordinary defence, Wolfe decided to starve the French. This went on for two and a half months to no avail. The city of Quebec was just too large for the British troops to surround also so Wolfe had to be clever if starving them out wasn’t going to work.

Eventually, Wolfe decided on a plan. He deployed a small troop of soldiers to a small town upstream from the city. There, Wolfe was able to trick a French General by speaking French and this gave him time to assemble the rest of his troops. The leader of the French troops, Marquis de Montcalm, was completely disorientated by such a quick and clever move from the British and from there, the French were led by him to their defeat.

In the confusion, he made mistakes. He gathered his troops in the wrong town. It was downstream – completely the other direction away from the British. When he did eventually find the British, he made the crucial mistake of engaging without waiting for the rest of his men. This delivered the fatal blow to the French and the whole battle lasted 15 minutes. I wonder how they looked after the fight! A little beauty cream never hurt anyone!

Both Wolfe and Montcalm died due to injuries sustained from the battle: Wolfe on the battlefield and Montcalm in a house nearby. This victory by Wolfe was the beginning of the retreat of France from America. It makes you wonder how different things would have been had Montcalm’s men marched upstream instead of down. I guess we’ll never know.