M255 | Manuscript, Journal of James Wolfe, Quebec Expedition, 1759

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Manuscript journal
Manuscript, Journal of James Wolfe, Quebec Expedition, 1759
1759, 18th century
19 x 14 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  History (944) , Manuscript (11)
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Keys to History

This was believed to be the journal in which General James Wolfe (1727-1759) described his battle of the siege of Quebec.

The manuscript belonged to at least five different people before it was bought by David Ross McCord (1844-1930) in 1914. When General Wolfe was killed, one of his aides was instructed to return Wolfe's documents to his mother in England. After his mother received her son's belongings, the journal disappeared for 155 years, until purchased by McCord.

Extensive examination of the journal in the mid- to late 1900s determined that it was most likely not written by Wolfe but by one of his aides, Captain Thomas Bell. Regardless, the surviving document gives great insight into the period in which the British were preparing for the final battle against the French forces in Quebec City. The journal describes Wolfe's frustration at being held up in front of the city, his feelings about his colleagues, as well as his bouts with illness.

  • What

    This journal is composed of 22 pages plus a title page, which reads "Papers of the late Commander-in-Chief No. 4." It is placed in a green morocco leather cover.

  • Where

    The author most likely wrote this journal while travelling aboard the ship Neptune and then stationed at British headquarters, opposite Quebec City, on the south shore of Isle d'Orleans.

  • When

    This manuscript documents the period June 10 to August 7, 1759, which corresponds to General James Wolfe's (1727-1759) campaign against Quebec City.

  • Who

    General James Wolfe (1727-1759) died on the Plains of Abraham during the battle of September 13, 1759, that made him an instant hero in Britain.