In an hour the French centre was utterly broken. " I have seen," said Contades, " what I never thought to be possible - a single line of infantry break through three lines of cavalry, ranked in order of battle, and tumble them to ruin! " Nothing but the refusal of Lord George Sackville to complete the victory by a charge of the horse which he headed saved the French from utter rout. As it was, their army again fell back broken on Frankfort and the Rhine. The project of an invasion of England met with like success. Eighteen thousand men lay ready to embark on board the French fleet, when Admiral Hawke came in sight of it at the mouth of Quiberon Bay. The sea was rolling high, and the coast where the French ships lay was so dangerous from its shoals and granite reefs that the pilot remonstrated with the English admiral against his project of attack. "You have done your duty in this remonstrance," Hawke coolly replied; "now lay me alongside the French admiral." Two English ships were lost on the shoals, but the French fleet was ruined and the disgrace of Byng's retreat wiped away.
It was not in the Old World only that the year of Minden and Quiberon brought glory to the arms of England. In Europe, Pitt had wisely limited his efforts to the support of Prussia, but across the Atlantic the field was wholly his own, and he had no sooner entered office than the desultory raids, which had hitherto been the only resistance to French aggression, were superseded by a large and comprehensive plan of attack. The sympathies of the colonies were won by an order which gave their provincial officers equal rank with the royal officers in the field. They raised at Pitt's call twenty thousand men, and taxed themselves heavily for their support. Three expeditions were simultaneously directed against the French line - one to the Ohio valley, one against Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain, while a third under General Amherst and Admiral Boscawen sailed to the mouth of the St. Lawrence. The last was brilliantly successful.
Louisburg, though defended by a garrison of five thousand men, was taken with the fleet in its harbour, and the whole province of Cape Breton reduced. The American militia supported the British troops in a vigorous campaign against the forts; and though Montcalm, with a far inferior force, was able to repulse General Abercromby from Ticonderoga, a force from Philadelphia and Virginia, guided and inspired by the courage of George Washington, made itself master of Duquesne. The name of Pittsburg which was given to their new conquest still commemorates the enthusiasm of the colonists for the great Minister who first opened to them the West. The next year saw the evacuation of Ticonderoga before the advance of Amherst, and the capture of Fort Niagara after the defeat of an Indian force which marched to its relief. The capture of the three forts was the close of the French effort to bar the advance of the colonists to the valley of the Mississippi, and to place in other than English hands the destinies of North America. But Pitt had resolved, not merely to foil the ambition of Montcalm, but to destroy the French rule in America altogether; and while Amherst was breaking through the line of forts, an expedition under General Wolfe entered the St. Lawrence and anchored below Quebec. Wolfe had already fought at Dettingen, Fontenoy, and Laffeldt, and had played the first part in the capture of Louisburg. Pitt had discerned the genius and heroism which lay hidden beneath the awkward manner and the occasional gasconade of the young soldier of thirty-three whom he chose for the crowning exploit of the war, but for a while his sagacity seemed to have failed.
No efforts could draw Montcalm from the long line of inaccessible cliffs which at this point borders the river, and for six weeks Wolfe saw his men wasting away in inactivity while he himself lay prostrate with sickness and despair. At last his resolution was fixed, and in a long line of boats the army dropped down the St. Lawrence to a point at the base of the Heights of Abraham, where a narrow path had been discovered to the summit. Not a voice broke the silence of the night save the voice of Wolfe himself, as he quietly repeated the stanzas of Gray's " Elegy in a Country Churchyard," remarking as he closed, "I had rather be the author of that poem than take Quebec" But his nature was as brave as it was tender; he was the first to leap on shore and to scale the narrow path where no two men could go abreast. His men followed, pulling themselves to the top by the help of bushes and the crags, and at daybreak on the 12th of September the whole army stood in orderly formation before Quebec. Montcalm hastened to attack, though his force, composed chiefly of raw militia, was far inferior in discipline to the English; his onset however was met by a steady fire, and at the first English advance his men gave way.
Wolfe headed a charge which broke the French line, but a ball pierced his breast in the moment of victory. "They run," cried an officer who held the dying man in his arms - "I protest they run." Wolfe rallied to ask who they were that ran, and was told "The French" "Then," he murmured, "I die happy!" The fall of Montcalm in the moment of his defeat completed the victory; and the submission of Canada, on the capture of Montreal by Amherst in 1760, put an end to the dream of a French empire in America.