At this point, with less than a hundred pages to go, the Battle for Quebec is finally, apparently going to happen.
Quebec’s location requires the British forces to storm uphill. It’s bad enough they have to storm at all, but — uphill?
To make things worse, Wolfe, the British commander, is taken ill (almost on the eve of the attack, of all the bloody ##@@!!) and has to stay in bed for five days.
Meanwhile, the French have planted small detachments (with cannon. And guns) on each declivity. So that once the British get through one line of fire, they’re met by another. All coming from above.
But the British have to attack because: 1) winter is approaching; 2) months in the Canadian wilderness have significantly weakened the British Army. Wolfe, the British commander, knows it’s now or never (Self is so impressed with this commander that she gave his name to one of the characters in The Rorqual, her horror story-in-progress.)
At this critical juncture, the British are able to send a small detachment of soldiers to a hill overlooking the city. So now this small British detachment (very wee: something like only 150 men) is able to see directly into the town, behind the ramparts, from above. The British are able to reinforce this detachment by sending ships, ships that go undetected by the French. (The French fully expected the challenge to come from the front because they believed that the hills behind the city were impregnable.)
But, let’s not underestimate British determination! Not to mention Parkman’s eye for the droll anecdote!
The 22 ships are joined by “a diminutive schooner, armed with a few swivels and jocosely named The Terror of France.” She sails by the city “in broad daylight.” The French, “incensed at her impudence . . . begin blazing at her from all their batteries.” Still, the schooner is able to “pass unharmed” whereupon the schooner salutes the British commander “triumphantly with her swivels.”
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.