Montcalm and Wolfe on Top of the Rock
The Battle of the Plains of Abraham, Quebec 1759

by Stephen D Smith

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Foreword: These rules use the second version of fast rules developed by Matt Fritz's for conflicts during the musket era. Matt Fritz's fast rules are simple and fast as are the morale checks and charges. Not all of the rules listed below apply to this battle. These rules were written to be a general set of rules to cover the entire musket era of warfare. These rules have been modified by two additional rules. These two additional rules are found under the Optional Rules. The first additional rule being the first fire rules for muskets. The second additional rule is regarding the number of cannons that each side had available to them in this battle. This rule can be used as a "what if" scenario.

Historical Background: The battle for Quebec 1759 was apart of the Seven Years War in North America between the England and France. The British General Wolfe sailed up the St Lawrence River with over 250 ships and boats in late June of 1759 from the fortress Louisbourg. The British knew very little about the City of Quebec, which they sent General Wolfe to attack, other than that the city was the capital of New France. Quebec is a native word in Algonquin meaning where the river narrows. Quebec City is situated at the narrowest part of the St Lawrence River. No ships could sail past Quebec City if cannons were placed on both sides of the river. Who ever controlled Quebec City would be able to control the access from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. When General Wolfe and his soldiers landed on the Isle d' Orleans they discovered that the City of Quebec sat on top of a 350 foot cliff over looking the St Lawrence River. The British soldiers made several amphibious attacks from the Isle d' Orleans into the surrounding area. It was not until September that General Wolfe found the cove and ravine which they could climb up to get on top of the rock to be able to attack the City of Quebec. Both the City of Quebec and the Plains of Abraham were located on top of the rock. On September 13th General Wolfe made the amphibious landing that led his soldiers up to the Plains of Abraham. The whale boats and flat bottom barges took Wolfe's 4,800 men over in two trips. When General Montcalm woke in the morning he found out that the British were just outside the City on the Plains of Abraham.

General Montcalm had defeated the British several times before and each time he had done it with less soldiers that the British side, but this time would be different. The French lacked good intelligence on the size and deployment of the British forces during this period. The British navy screened the movements of the British army and also used night naval movements to deny the French good intelligence. When General Montcalm got out to the Plains of Abraham he saw a red line of British soldiers a over mile long. At 09:00 General Montcalm ordered the French soldiers to move forward. The French soldiers started firing at long musket range of 400 meters. The French soldiers continued on, moving and firing at the British. General Wolfe had his soldiers lay down on the ground when the French started firing until he ordered his soldiers to stand up and fire. The British waited until the French were at close musket range of 40 meters before they fired. Before the battle started General Wolfe had his men load their muskets with two to three musket balls in their guns for a greater first fire effect. The British fire tore through the French ranks with disastrous effects. General Wolfe also had his soldiers' line up only two men deep for greater fire power. The first row would kneel and the second row would stand and both fire at the same time. The French were formed up in the traditional way for the Seven Years War with men in three rows deep. Only the first two rows could fire. The men in the third row would move forward to take the place of the fallen soldiers in the first two rows. The French advance was stopped because of the tremendous casualties. The French soldiers started to retreat. General Montcalm spent most of this time rallying his soldiers. Both General Wolfe and General Montcalm were killed in this battle. At 10:00 the French soldiers retreated off from the Plains of Abraham and away from the City of Quebec. The French Governor surrendered the city to the British five days later. The French did try two times to take back the city. The French won both battles but the British would not surrender the city back to the French.

The battle for Quebec can be looked at in three different view points. These three view points are the campaign for Quebec, the greater battle for Quebec, and the lesser battle for Quebec. I have chosen the lesser battle showing the center wings of both sides forces where the main and decisive fighting took place at the Plains of Abraham on top of the rock. The additional soldiers that were not included are the following. For the British this includes General Monckton on the right wing with his 35 th Foot, and General Townsend's left wing with his 15 th Foot, and the entire 60 th Foot of American soldiers. For the British this also includes the rear wing that consisted of Howe's light infantry battalion and the American rangers. For the French both the left and right wings which include all of the Canadian militia and the Native Americans located in the woods. This lesser battle leaves the British with 2,550 men and the French with 2,650 men. The British are formed in bases or stands of 100 men while the French are formed in bases or stands of 150 men allowing for the difference in the two rows and the three rows of men.

The Seven Years War in North America, also known as the French and Indian War in the United States, took place from 1754 till 1763. This is the two hundred and fiftieth (250) anniversary of the Seven Years War in North American or the French and Indian War. This anniversary will be celebrated from 2004 through 2013. There should be many reenactments at the different historical sites during this anniversary time. There should be one or more held at Quebec on the Plains of Abraham during 2009. Quebec City will be having events during 2008 as it celebrates its four hundred (400) year's anniversary having been founded in 1608. You can get more information on the events happening in Quebec City at ( For more information on events happening at the different historical sites you can contact the Seven Years War Association, a historical site park, or the local chamber of commerce of the town located close to the historical site. For information on the French visit the site 1755 The French and Indian War. For information on the British visit the website at

Battle 1: The French forces started moving slowly toward the British forces. The British stood still with only their cannon firing. The French continued to move toward the British and open fire upon the British. The British received light casualties. The British moved toward the French forces and opened fire upon the French. The French received heavy casualties. The French held their ground and counter fired at the British again giving the British light casualties. The British maintained their ground and counter fired at the French giving them again heavy casualties. The British overran all three of the French cannons. The French had received heavy losses while the British had sustained light losses. The French forces were forced to retreat off the Plains of Abraham. Both General Wolfe and General Montcalm lived to fight another day..

Battle 2: The French forces started moving fast toward the British forces. The French open fire upon the British giving them light casualties. The British held their ground and returned fire upon the French causing the French heavy casualties. The French held their ground and returned fire upon the British giving them light casualties, but killed General Murray. The British moved forward over running two cannons and causing the French right portion of the center to fall apart. The French were forced to pull back. The British over ran the last cannon and killed General Montcalm. The French were forced to retreat off the field with double the losses that the British had suffered.

Victory Conditions: The French win sudden death victory if the British losses (due to enemy fire or routed off the table) reaches 25 bases before the end of the French fifth turn. Anything else is a British victory. The British may have a sudden death victory any time the French loses (due to enemy fire or routed off the filed) reaches 19 bases

The Map: The game table is 7.5' x 5' and is all clear terrain. The Plains of Abraham present both the British and the French with the ideal terrain for fighting a linear line formation battle like the one's fought in Europe during the Seven Years War. This area can be represented by a green cloth placed over the game table. The 7.5' length of the game table should face the East and West. The 5' width of the game table should face the North and South. The British forces must start the game deployed in the western half of the game table. The French start the game deployed in the eastern half of the game table. All units for both sides start the game set up on the game table.

Building the Armies: You can use any of the three following types: plastic 1/72 scale soldiers, paper 25 mm scale soldiers, or paper counters 25mm, 20mm, or 15mm scale. For plastic soldiers you can use Thirty Years War, Seven Years War, and American Revolutionary War figures. Flags can be found at Warflag. Here are some paper soldiers bases that you can print and use. The black and white paper soldiers can be reproduced on a coping machine with white paper for the French, and red colored paper for the British or reproduce both of these sides on white paper and color the soldiers by hand. The bases for both the plastic and paper soldiers are the same size. The infantry and cavalry are mounted two per base. The infantry bases are 3/4" x 1.5", and the cavalry bases are 1.5" square. All commanders are based individually on 3/4" x 1.5" bases. The cannons are mounted one per base. The cannon bases are 3/4" x 1.5". The cannon crew are one figure per base with the base being 3/4" x 3/4".

Orders of Battle: The number of bases or stands in each unit is indicated inside the parentheses.

British Forces (all units 6 bases)

General Wolfe (Overall Commander)

Center Wing 2,550 men
Gen. Murray
28 th Foot
43 rd Foot
47 th Foot
58 th Foot
78 th Highlanders (2 units)
Louisbourg Grenadiers
2 lb Light Field Cannons (1 gun model)

Center Wing Reserve
48 th Foot (2 units)

French Forces (all units 6 bases)

General Montcalm (Overall Commander)

Center Wing 2,650 men
La Sarra Regt
Lanquedoc Regt
Bearn Regt
Guyenne Regt
Royal Rousillon Regt
Troop de la Marine
Troop de la Marine
6 lb Medium Field Cannons (3 gun models)

Setup Sequence:

1. British Setup First
2. French Setup Second

Turn Sequence:
1. French Move
2. French Shoot
3. British Move
4. British Shoot
5. Charges
6. Melees

Formations: There are only two formations used in this battle the line and column. The names of these formations can be very confusing for the students. At school, when they are told to "get in line" they line up one behind the other, in what we call column formation. With the kids I call the formations "firing line" (like a firing squad), and "marching column." Lines may be single or double rank, and may bend. Columns are single company. Inside the redoubts there are no formations, bases can move individually. Units may change formation at the start or end of their movement, but can only change formation once per turn.

Movement: Infantry can move 6" if they are in line formation or 12" if they are in column formation. Commanders may move 12". Field cannons can move 6" but may not fire on a turn when it was moved. annons can pivot in place during movement and still fire. Units may about face (turn 180 degrees) once per turn. Units may move backward while still facing to the front at half speed. Units may not move within 1" of an enemy unit except when charging.

Fire: Units that are in line formation and artillery that didn't move this turn may fire. Range is measured from the center of a unit to the nearest part of the target unit. Units may only fire to the front and may not fire through narrow gaps between friendly units, or over the heads of friendly units. Roll one die per base or two dice per gun model. The chart indicates the number needed for a hit. Remove one base for each hit rolled by the firing unit. It takes three hits in the same turn to remove an artillery base. Note that you only use the 1" firing column when shooting at a charging unit. If a unit is reduced to a single surviving base then the last base is immediately removed.

Shooting  1"  6"  12"  24"
Muskets  5-6  6  -  -
Rifles  4-6 5-6  6  -
Light Cannon  5-6  6  6  -
Medium Cannon  4-6 5-6  6  6
Heavy Cannon  4-6 5-6  5-6  6

Charges: Both sides may charge during the charge phase. A unit may not declare a charge unless it is in line formation and within 6" of an enemy unit. If it matters the British charge first. A player may measure to see if a unit is within charge range. One enemy unit must be chosen as the target of the charge. A unit that wishes to charge must first pass a morale check. If the unit fails moral nothing happens, it cannot charge this turn. If the unit passes its morale check then the target must pass a morale check. If the target fails it loses one base and immediately retreats 12", the charging unit is moved into the position vacated by the retreating target unit. If artillery is the target and it fails morale it is eliminated. If the target passes the morale check it has the option of firing at the chargers or counter charging. If the unit counter charges the two units meet in the middle and fight a melee. If the target decides to fire at the chargers it does so at a range of 1". If the charging unit survives the fire it moves into contact with the target and they fight a melee.

Morale Checks: If a unit has to take a morale check Roll one die and add any modifiers. If the roll is less than or equal to the number of bases (plus a commander if one is present), then it has passed. If the role is greater then it fails. Artillery must roll a 4 or less to pass a morale check.

Morale Die Roll Modifiers
Commander present   -1
Grenadiers, Highlanders   -1

Melee: If a charging unit contacts an enemy unit there will be a melee. Each side rolls a die and applies the modifiers. High roll wins. The loser removes a stand and retreats 12". He must spend the next turn reforming. If the roll is a tie each side removes a stand and rolls again.

 Melee Die Roll Modifiers
 More stands than opponent  +1
 Hitting the flank or rear  +1
 Commander leading charge  +1
 Grenadier, Highlander  +1
 Artillery crew  -1

Commanders: A Commander may join or leave one of his units during movement. This unit gets a +1 bonus on all melee rolls and the officer counts as a base when testing morale. Every time a unit with an attached commander is completely eliminated by enemy fire (last base removed), or is engaged in a melee (win or lose) roll one die. If the roll is a 6 the commander is a casualty and is removed from play. This is the only way a commander can be eliminated.

Optional Rules:

First Fire: Only the muskets receive the first fire advantage. Each base or stand firing in the unit with muskets receives a +1 to the dice roll when firing for the first time. If one or more bases of a unit fire for the first time and the remaining bases do not fire then the remaining bases lose their first fire advantage. You do not have the option of delaying first fire within a unit. This represents the best coordinated mass fire that soldiers with muskets were able to obtain. This first fire often was the most powerful fire during the entire battle. Not all soldiers after the first fire would be able to be ready for the next fire. This would become a greater problem as the battle went on with the muskets becoming clogged from power residue buildup. Units in skirmishing and column formation do not get first fire advantage.

Additional Field Artillery: Both sides had more cannons available to use than were actually used in the battle. The British put three 2lb cannons on the boats headed for the battle on the Plains of Abraham. Only one 2 lb cannon ended up being actually used in the battle. It is assumed that the other two cannons did not make it up the cliff. The other two cannons' wooden carriages may have been broken, or the two cannons may have broken loose while being lifted up the cliff f. General Montcalm had asked the French Governor for 25 cannons to be brought out for the battle on the Plains of Abraham from Quebec City. The French Governor only gave General Montcalm three 6 lb cannons. After the surrender of Quebec City the British found not only adequate artillery supplies, but also over 250 cannons inside Quebec City. This optional rule is put in as a "what if" scenario for both sides. This rule favors the French and gives them a greater chance of changing history. If General Montcalm had been given 10 or 15 cannons how would this have changed the outcome of the battle and possibly the out come of the war in North America? Would the people living in the following states or province: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Ontario be speaking in the French language now? Before the battle each side rolls 1 die to determine the number of cannons they will have available during the battle.

 Optional: Additional Field Artillery


 Die Roll Number of Cannons  Die Roll Number of Cannons
1 0 Med Cannons 1 0 Lt Cannons
2 3 Med Cannons 2 1 Lt Cannon
3 3 Med Cannons 3 1 Lt Cannon
4 10 Med Cannons 4 2 Lt Cannons
5 15 Med Cannons 5 2 Lt Cannons
6 20 Med Cannons 6 3 Lt Cannons

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