James Wolfe, an English general, born at Westerham, Kent, Jan. 2, 1726, killed before Quebec, Sept. 13, 1759. He entered the army as a second lieutenant at the age of 15, and took part in the battles of Dettingen, Fontenoy, Falkirk, Culloden, and Lawfeldt. In 1757 he was a colonel in the expedition against Rochefort. In 1758, with the rank of brigadier general, he accompanied the expedition to Cape Breton, and took a distinguished part in the reduction of Louisburg, after which he returned to England. Pitt, then planning the overthrow of the French dominion in North America, selected him to command an expedition against Quebec, made him major general, and gave him 8,000 men and a strong fleet. On June 27,1759, he landed on the isle of Orleans, where he erected batteries; but his fire upon the city from there and from batteries at Point Levi did little damage, and the ships from their great draught were unable to cooperate. In addition to the almost impregnable defences of the city, new works had been erected by Montcalm, the French commander, who had there concentrated the entire available forces of the province. Wolfe moved to the mouth of the Montmorency and assaulted the French works, but was repulsed with severe loss. July and August were spent in fruitless efforts to reduce these works.
On the night of Sept. 12, when his force was greatly reduced by losses, sickness, and the necessity of leaving garrisons at Point Levi and the isle of Orleans, Wolfe took 3,600 men in boats to a point two miles above Quebec, and before daylight ascended the heights of Abraham, which commanded the city from the west. At 10 o'clock Montcalm, most of whose men were raw provincials, confronted him, and began a sharply contested engagement, in which at length the French gave way. The successful general died of his wounds just as the victory was decided. Montcalm also was fatally wounded, and died the next day. Five days after the battle Quebec surrendered, and Canada was lost to France. Wolfe's remains were carried home and interred in the parish church of Greenwich, parliament voting a monument to him in Westminster abbey. In the government gardens of Quebec there is an obelisk 60 ft. high to the memory of both Wolfe and Montcalm. Wolfe's life has been written by Robert Wright (London, 1864).