The British sent several expeditions to North America during the French and Indian War. The object of every one of them was to take New France. The Braddock expedition was intended to take Fort Duquesne, and therefore the right flank of New France. It failed, but in 1758, the Forbes expedition succeeded. Also in 1758, the largest army ever assembled in North America was formed by General Abercromby to march up the Champlain valley, more or less an attack on the center of New France. His second in command was George, Lord Howe. There were about 7000 regulars and 7,000 or 8,000 American militia. As was the case with the Braddock and Forbes expeditions, the transport and the supplies were provided by the American colonies, largely at their own expense. Howe was killed in a skirmish as the army approached Fort Carillon, then an elaborate earthwork fortification to protect the south end of Lake Champlain. The British would later construct Fort Ticonderoga on that site. Although Abercromby had the largest British force yet sent to North America, and the largest force of colonial militia ever assembled, they failed to take the fort, defended by French and Canadian regulars. (French overseas colonies were under the Minister of Marine, and their defense was provided by locally raised regulars, called troupes de la marine
.) Abercromby's entire conduct of this campaign is worthy of severe criticism. Montcalm turned the fortress over to another officer, and when Jeffrey Amherst approached the fort in 1759, that officer marched away, leaving a small body of Canadian regulars there to delay the British while the buildings of the fort were fired. The British had now taken the right flank and the advanced center of New France.
Amherst had arrived with more than 12,000 regulars and Lord Anson, the first lord of the Admiralty, had made every effort to give him all the naval support he could round up. Once again, the colonies provided supplies and transport. The first target of Amherst had been Louisbourg, the fortification protecting access to the St. Lawrence River. The colonists had taken the fortress during King George's War, but it had been given back to the French in the peace conference. With large-scale colonial support, Amherst quickly invested Louisbourg, which as quickly surrendered. That was in 1758, and Amherst then marched off to take Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) while his deputy, James Wolfe, took the main body of the troops, and, in about the only all-British expedition of the war, sailed up the St. Laurence to attack Québec. Through the frustrating summer of 1759, he could make no headway, and finally, in desperation, lead an attack which scaled the cliffs above the river. The British advanced, with General Wolfe in their ranks carrying a musket--a useless gesture, and possibly an example of suicide by combat. Many historians think that Wolfe was despondent and thought he would fail. Wolfe was shot three times and finally left behind as the infantry continued to advance. He died of wounds. As General Montcalm attempted to rally his troops at the gates of the Upper Town, he was shot by a musket ball which passed through both lungs. His regulars were left leaderless for the crucial period it took the British to take the Upper Town. He died in the night and was buried in secrecy by the nuns in the cathedral who feared the English would desecrate his remains. In death, Wolfe had succeeded in taking New France.
The great American source on the French in North America was Francis Parkman. His seven volume history is the finest in the English language. The final volume, Montcalm and Wolfe: The French and Indian War
details all of these operations by the British, and the defense of New France by Montcalm, his regulars, the Canadian regulars and their Indian allies. The final battle took place in the fields west of the Upper Town, owned by a prosperous French Canadian peasant named Abraham Martin. After the death of Wolfe, they were grandiosely renamed "The Plains of Abraham."
the wonderful modern historian Simon Schama wrote a small tour de force
in historical synthesis and coincidence entitled Dead Certainties: Unwarranted Speculations
. It tells the tale of James Wolfe and the Marquis de Montcalm, and their deaths before the gates of the Upper Town. It then tells about the famous painting by Benjamin West, a very successful American painter in London.
Schama also points out that the painting by Edward Penny is probably a good deal more realistic than the improbable fantasy painted by West.
From there, Schama tells us about Francis Parkman, and finally tells the tale of a notorious murder trial in Boston involving the death of a member of Parkman's family, George Parkman, a professor at Harvard. Schama said of his own work: "Historians shouldn't make it up, but i did." I highly recommend his book as an entertaining read.
The British did not come to North America to protect the colonists, but to expand their empire.
In that effort, the colonists spent a good deal of blood and treasure.