Muskets and Mayhem
For the first, but not the last time, in 1776
war raged back and forth across the U.S.-Canadian
border. The breakaway American colonists were
battling the armies of Britain's King George III
in the American War of Independence.
The eight-year war had left the North American
continent in turmoil. The army of the 13 colonies
had turned their guns on Upper Canada, which remained
loyal to the king. Now it had arrived at the doorstep
of Quebec City, the oldest fortress city on the
The American militia numbered almost 1,000 strong.
Inside the garrison, a meagre force of 263 British
soldiers waited to repel the attack. The British
forces' only real hope was that the citizens of
Quebec City would answer their desperate plea
for help. The call was taken up. Every willing,
able-bodied man, woman and child was needed to
help swell the thin red line of the British regular
The Battle on the Plains of Abraham should have
been an easy victory for the invading Americans.
Instead it turned into a devastating rout. The
rag-tag force of British line soldiers backed
by Americans loyal to the King, native Canadians
and the people of Quebec City humiliated the colonists.
So humiliating in fact that the Battle was not
mentioned in American history books for many years.
But 220 years later, that memorable day in Canadian
history is re-enacted by 1,700 men, women and
children drawn from right across Canada and, yes,
the United States.
The 125 acres of woods and hills that make up
the Plains of Abraham are now a national historic
site. But for three days, the area is alive with
the sound of cannon and musket fire. The re-enactors
are all dressed in authentic period costume and
military uniforms which they have made by copying
This is their glorious opportunity to relive
history and experience the terrifying spectre
of an 18th century battlefield without risking
life and limb.