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Isaac Tirion: Quebek, de Hoofstad van Kanadaaan de Rivier van St. Laurens

Map: CAN3043
Cartographer: Isaac Tirion
Title: Quebek, de Hoofstad van Kanadaaan de Rivier van St. Laurens
Date: 1769
Published: Amsterdam
Width: 18 inches / 46 cm
Height: 14 inches / 36 cm
Map ref: CAN3043
Finely engraved plan depicting the pivotal Battle of Quebec, an attack on the main French settlement in North America by the British on 13th September 1759.

During the 18th century, Britain and France were embroiled in an imperialist dispute in North America. In 1754, this erupted along the frontiers of their respective colonies, both sides gaining support from the local Native Americans.

Following decisive French victories led by General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm at Fort Oswego (1756) and Fort William Henry (1757) in New York, the British began to focus their energy on re-asserting control in North America, meanwhile the French, who were experiencing supply chain issues due to the British Naval blockade along the French coast, were more concerned with matters closer to home.

In 1758, the British were able to re-capture Fort Oswego and take Louisburg, enabling a clearer route along the St. Lawrence River to Quebec. In June 1759, British troops led by Major James Wolfe had established a base at the Île d'Orléans opposite the city Quebec, which was at the time being defended by approximately 13,00 French troops and Native American forces under the command of Montcalm.

An unsuccessful attempt to land at Beaufort on 31st July resulted in huge British losses and Wolfe, who was on the verge of withdrawing, directed a series of attacks on the settlements along the St. Lawrence River to try to drive Montcalm out. In fear of running out of men and the sickness that was sweeping through his troops, Wolfe realised he had to act soon before his force were too weak to take control of Quebec.

Wolfe led and expedition towards Quebec. Around 4,000 of these troops landed secretly at a cove just west of the city in the early hours of 13th September (marked “a” near Sillery, on the battle plan). Simultaneously, the British fleet diverted attention by attacking from the St. Lawrence River. The soldiers landing at Quebec scaled the steep cliffs and were confronted by the French at a plateau west of the fortified city of Quebec known as the Plains of Abraham (farmland originally owned by Abraham Martin). The siege also goes by the name of the “Battle of the Plains of Abraham”.

Due to the lack of practice by the French in volley fire (a military tactic of artillery shooting en masse in a focused direction) and the fact that the British has strategically positioned themselves behind a ridge to protect themselves from the French batteries, the French retreated back into the town. They surrendered 3 days later on the 18th September and the British took the city. During the fiery battle, both leaders Wolfe and Montcalm were both killed, with 116 French and 58 British soldiers, and around 600 wounded from each side.

In 1763, the Treaty of Paris saw the majority of France’s colonial possessions in eastern North America transferred to Britain. The victory at Quebec triggered the end of the French-Indian Wars and offered Britain control in Canada. It was also one of the contributing factors leading to the American Revolution (1765-1783) and the creation of the United States.

In the upper right of the map there is a lettered key explaining the positions, fleets and camps of the French and the British throughout the battle. The posts of notable British leaders are named in this key, they include Admirals Holmes and Saunders, General Monkton, Major Hardy, and of course, Major-General Wolfe. In addition to this, an inset map showing the St. Lawrence River, Quebec and environs is shown in the upper left.

This is the Dutch edition of battle plan published by Thomas Jeffreys, and would have been published in Tirion’s “Hedendaagsche Historie of Tegenwordige Staat van Amerika” [Contemporary History or Present State of America].

Coloured. [CAN3043]