April 28 This day during the French and Indian War

April 28, 1760 – Battle of Sainte-Foy was fought on April 28, 1760 near the British-held town of Quebec in the French province of Canada during the Seven Years’ War (called the French and Indian War in the United States). It was a victory for the French under the Chevalier de Lévis over the British army under General Murray. The battle was notably bloodier than the Battle of the Plains of Abraham of the previous September, with 833 French casualties to 1,124 British casualties. It was the last French victory of the French and Indian War. At first the British had some success, but the advance masked their artillery, while the infantry became bogged down in the mud and melting snowdrifts of the late spring. The battle turned into a two-hour fight at close range; eventually, as more French soldiers joined the fray, the French turned the British flanks, forcing Murray to realize his mistake and to recall the British back to Quebec without their guns, which Lévis then turned on the city. Lévis commanded 6,910 soldiers, including 3,889 in eight regular battalions. Compagnies Franches de la Marine comprised two more battalions. The remainder of his army was made up of Canadian militia, plus a handful of native allies. Of this force, approximately 5,000 and only three cannons were present on the field of Sainte-Foy. Murray’s 3,886-man force consisted of ten regular battalions, a converged light infantry battalion, and two companies of rangers. In order to cover the entire plateau, the battalions were each drawn up in two ranks with three-foot gaps between files, instead of the normal elbow-to-elbow formation. There were 40-yard intervals between battalions. The light infantry covered the right flank. In order, from right to left, were the 48th Foot, 15th Foot, 58th Foot, 2nd battalion of the 60th Foot, 43rd Foot, 47th Foot, 78th Foot, and 28th Foot. The rangers and some volunteers covered the left flank. In reserve behind the right flank stood the 35th Foot, while the 3rd battalion of the 60th formed the left flank reserve. The infantry were supported by 20 cannons and two howitzers. One sergeant recorded that the British army was “a poor pitiful handful of half starved scorbutic skeletons.” Observing that the French army was still deploying, Murray resolved to strike his enemies before they were ready. As the British advanced, Lévis pulled his three formed right wing brigades back into the Sillery Woods. At this time, the French left wing had not yet deployed. The British light infantry drove some French grenadiers out of a windmill on the right flank. Pursuing, they soon ran into trouble. The French left wing troops aggressively attacked and scattered the light infantry. Murray committed the 35th Foot from his reserve and restored the right flank of the British line. However, a bitter struggle for possession of the windmill continued. Observing that the French army was still deploying, Murray resolved to strike his enemies before they were ready. As the British advanced, Lévis pulled his three formed right wing brigades back into the Sillery Woods. At this time, the French left wing had not yet deployed. The British light infantry drove some French grenadiers out of a windmill on the right flank. Pursuing, they soon ran into trouble. The French left wing troops aggressively attacked and scattered the light infantry. Murray committed the 35th Foot from his reserve and restored the right flank of the British line. However, a bitter struggle for possession of the windmill continued. The British left flank troops captured some redoubts, but then Lévis launched a powerful counterattack with his right wing. Murray sent in his final reserve, the 3/60th to stop this attack. He also pulled out the 43rd Foot from his center, which Levis had mostly ignored, and moved it to support his left flank. However, the British left flank finally gave way after suffering heavy losses, and the line collapsed from left to right. Lévis later claimed that he tried to cut the British off from Quebec, but a mischance allowed his enemies to escape. Instead of attacking straight ahead, as ordered, one of his right wing brigades went astray, heading over to help the left wing. At the beginning of the action the numerous British cannon kept the French attacks at bay. The French advance gained momentum when the guns began to run out of ammunition. When Murray ordered the line forward, their ammunition carts had become bogged in the snow. The British spiked and abandoned their guns in the retreat.

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