James Wolfe, 1727–59, British soldier. After a distinguished record in European campaigns, he was made (1758) second in command to Jeffery Amherst in the last of the French and Indian Wars. Through his skillful siege operations, he became a hero of the capture of Louisburg (1758) from the French, and he was rewarded with the command of an expedition against the French at Quebec, which he himself had urged. After frontal attacks on the positions of General Montcalm at Quebec had failed, Wolfe took 5,000 men in boats down the St. Lawrence by night and forced an open battle with the French on the Plains of Abraham (Sept. 13, 1759). The British were victorious, but both Wolfe and Montcalm were killed. The battle was decisive in the fall of New France to the British. Wolfe is vividly portrayed in Thackeray's Virginians.
See biographies by C. Hibbert (1959) and D. R. Robin (1960); F. Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe (1884); R. Howard, Wolfe at Quebec (1965).