The Plains of Abraham, 1759 (Single lesson)

  • The Mission
  • Assessment Rubrics
  • Introduction
  • Clues
  • Resources
    • Books
    • Newspapers
    • Objects
    • Photographs
    • Maps
    • Chronologies
    • Audiovisuals
    • Extras
  • Activities
  • Teacher's Guide

The Mission

Imagine you are in September 1759 in North America.

Since 1754, France and England are, once again, on the verge of war. But this time, the British and French colonies of America are the main cause.

A series of clashing events, starting in the Ohio River valley in 1754 and then in Acadia (1755) and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, eventually leads to a mutual declaration of war in 1756. The war that results will last for seven years.

At the heart of this war is the fortified city of Québec, under the French authority of General Montcalm. For weeks now, the commander-in-chief of the British army, General Wolfe, besieges Québec in hope of capturing the strategic place before winter sets in and forces the British to retreat. The British fleet, under the command of admirals Holmes and Saunders, bombards relentlessly the fortifications while troops located in Montmorency, on the Isle of Orleans and at Pointe Levy attempt, unsuccessfully, to land near Québec, at Beauport shallows.

Desperate and resolute to make one more attempt to capture the fortress, General Wolfe orders a surprise attack at a different point: the heights of Québec, on top of the cliffs at l'Anse-au-Foulon. The secret attack is set for the morning of September 13. In less than 30 minutes, the destiny of Québec – and ultimately of New France – is decided by the famous "Battle of the Plains of Abraham."

One key witness of the whole battle is Rear-admiral Charles Holmes, third in command under General Wolfe, who drafted a report to the Admiralty in England on September 18, 1759, onboard the warship Lowestoff.

How did the Battle of the Plains of Abraham unfold?

Based upon the primary source report produced by Rear-admiral Holmes in the days following the battle, recreate the famous scene of the battle of the Plains of Abraham.

1. Examine the resources, identify and locate relevant information concerning the Battle of the Plains of Abraham
(Look on the map for photographic details.)

2. In the books, read carefully the report of Rear-admiral Holmes and note key passages dealing with the battle

3. In the Activity section, using French and British drag-and-drop military "figures" from the margin (soldiers, warships, sloops, transportation boats, canons, generals), recreate the scene of the battle based upon your interpretation of the report

4. When completed, compare and contrast your work with the historical one produced in 1759.

5. Explain the similarities and differences between your work and the one of 1759.

6. What could account for these similarities and differences?(interpretation, use of different sources, bias, positionality, etc.)

7. Is the original work of 1759 necessarily 'more accurate' than yours? If not, how do we define accuracy in historical research?

See Rubrics for specific expectations

To acheive your objective, you need to use primary source as evidence. To know more about the concept of primary source as evidence in history, consult The Historical Thinking Projet.

Accept Mission


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