The Conquest

The Surrender

Harsh Terms of Surrender

Any attempts at defence appeared hopeless. The city's fortifications - a simple stone wall that enemy artillery would be able to breach in a few hours - were not designed to withstand a European-style siege. Vaudreuil and Lévis had no choice but to capitulate. They delegated Bougainville to negotiate the terms of surrender with the British. Amherst was intractable: the regular French troops were to surrender without the honours of war and to hand over their weapons and flags, conditions particularly harsh for the period, and even unfair - for an army that had fought so doggedly and so bravely. Outraged, Lévis considered retrenching with the French regiments to Île Sainte-Hélène, near the city, for a final battle. Vaudreuil refused, probably because he was disheartened and wished to avoid an unnecessary bloodbath and to defend the civilians against any consequent misdeeds by undisciplined soldiery during an assault.

Lévis therefore surrendered. But during the night of September 7-8 the French soldiers held a moving ceremony in which the standard-bearers of each battalion burned the regimental flags, sacred symbols that they were. The next day, September 8, 1760, Vaudreuil signed the terms of surrender. The British light infantry grenadiers went to the parade ground, where the French troops deposited their weapons. When the British demanded the flags, Lévis answered that, on his honour, they no longer existed at the time of surrender. Offended at being unable to get these trophies, Amherst suspected the French of having hidden them, which he considered "scandalous." 22 But he was forced to accept Lévis's word.

Amherst, though, had more pressing problems. The British had 3,116 French officers and soldiers held prisoner, 907 of whom were from colonial troops. Along with the women, children and servants who usually followed the army, the total number of persons in their care exceeded 4,000. Because a large number of French soldiers had married Canadian women during the war, it was made possible for many of them to leave the service and remain in Canada, which hundreds of men did.