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JAMES WOLFE (1727-1759)

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 773 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JAMES WOLFE (1727-1759), British general, the hero of Quebec, was born at Westerham in Kent on the 2nd of January 1727. At an early age he accompanied his father, Colonel (afterwards Lieutenant-General) Edward Wolfe, one of Marl-borough's veterans, to the Carthagena expedition, and in 1741 his ardent desire for a military career was gratified by his appointment to an ensigncy. At the age of fifteen he proceeded with the 12th Foot (now Suffolk Regiment) to the Rhine Campaign, and at Dettingen he distinguished himself so much as acting adjutant that he was made lieutenant. In 1744 he received a company in Barrel's regiment (now the 4th King's Own). In the Scottish rising of the " Forty-five " he was employed as a brigade-major. He was present at Hawley's defeat at Falkirk, and at Culloden. With his old regiment, the 12th, Wolfe served in the Flanders campaigns of the duke of Cumberland, and at Val (Lauffeld) won by his valour the commendation of the duke. Promotion followed in 1749 to a majority, and in 1750 to the lieutenant-colonelcy of the loth, with which he served in Scotland. Some years later he spent six months in Paris. When war broke out afresh in 1757 he served as a staff officer in the unfortunate Rochefort expedition, but his prospects were not affected by the failure, for had his advice been taken the result might well have been different. Next year he was sent to " Hugo Theodoricus iste dicitur, id est Francus, quia ohm omnes Franci Hugones vocabantur . . .," Annales Quedlinburg. (Pertz Script. iii. 42o.) N. America as a brigadier-general in the Louisburg expedition under Amherst and Boscawen. The landing was effected in the face of strenuous opposition, Wolfe leading the foremost troops. On the 27th of July the place surrendered after an obstinate defence; during the siege Wolfe had had charge of a most important section of the attack, and on his lines the fiercest fighting took place. Soon afterwards he returned to England to recruit his shattered health, but on learning that Pitt desired him to continue in America he at once offered to return. It was now that the famous expedition against Quebec was decided upon, Wolfe to be in command, with the local rank of major-general. In a brief holiday before his departure he met at Bath Miss Lowther, to whom he became engaged. Very shortly afterwards he sailed, and on the 1st of June 1759 the Quebec expedition sailed from Louisburg (see QUEBEC). After wearisome and disheartening failures, embittered by the pain of an internal disease, Wolfe crowned his work by the decisive victory on the Plains of Abraham (13th of September 1759) by which the French permanently lost Quebec. Twice wounded earlier in the fight, he had refused to leave the field, and a third bullet passing through his lungs inflicted a mortal injury. While he was lying in a swoon some one near him exclaimed, " They run; see how they run!" " Who run? " demanded Wolfe, as one roused from sleep. " The enemy," was the answer; " they give way everywhere." Wolfe rallied for a moment, gave a last order for cutting off the retreat, and murmuring, " Now God be praised, I will die in peace," breathed his last. On the battle-ground a tall column bears the words, " Here died Wolfe victorious on the 13th of September 1759." In the governor's garden, in Quebec, there is also a monument to the memory of Wolfe and his gallant opponent Montcalm, who survived him only a few hours, with the inscription " Wolfe and Montcalm. Mortem virtus communem, famam historia, monumentum posteritas dedit." In Westminster Abbey a public memorial to Wolfe was unveiled on the 4th of October 1773. See R. Wright, Life of Major-General James Wolfe (London, 1864) ; F. Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe (London, 1884) ; Twelve British Soldiers (London, 1899); General Wolfe's Instructions to Young Officers (1768–1780) ; Beckles Willson, The Life and Letters of James Wolfe (1909) ; and A. G. Bradley, Wolfe (1895).
End of Article: JAMES WOLFE (1727-1759)
CHARLES WOLFE (1791-1823)

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