Century of Conflict

By Joseph Lister Rutledge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
THE MAGNIFICENT FIASCO

The greatest challenge yet to face New France. An important yet almost forgotten chapter In the history of Canada. The mixed motives that fostered the expedition and assured its unexpected strength. The palace intrigue that put incompetency in command. Two notable misfits--their fortune and their fate. An empty victory that favors the vanquished. The Peace of Utrecht where France signs away her hope of empire and decides the character of the now inevitable conflict.

It still seems strange that one of the greatest threats ever to cast its shadow over early Canada should remain an almost forgotten chapter of her history. Probably not even the names of the leading actors in these events will be wholly familiar to the average reader. Sir Hovenden Walker, commander of the threatening force, was an admiral of the Royal Navy, though there is nothing in his record, public or private, to suggest why or how he came to that rank. Jack Hill, who, as second-in-command of the expedition, had almost twelve thousand troops under his command, was a brigadier who wasn't really a soldier--a man about town, a pleasant fellow with all the social graces and no military graces at all.

There is no real reason why anyone should remember either of them. No doubt this explains today's lack of knowledge. It springs from the quite natural tendency to understress those incidents that lend no credit to either friend or foe, for it is easier to be magnanimous, at least after the event, than to be left without respect for anyone.

If glory or even credit was wholly lacking in this abortive effort to seize Canada, it was not because in concept, in the strategy proposed, or in the forces employed the project was foredoomed to failure. Never in the history of Canada,

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