Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The 250th Anniversary of the Battle of Sainte-Foy

The Chevalier de Levis gives the signal to charge the British

Please accept my congratulations upon your splendid victory, my dear general. I am the more delighted with it because it affords an instance of cleverly-executed movements in the field, incredible diligence on the march, and noteworthy intrepidity-- Colonel Louis Antoine de Bougainville, writing to the Chevalier de Levis

On this day, two hundred and fifty years ago, the French troops in Canada gained their last great victory at the Battle of Sainte-Foy. This battle, through a French victory, has been used to tarnish the reputation of the Chevalier de Levis, new commander-in-chief after the death of Montcalm. But was Levis foolhardy? Was this battle unsound and unwise?

Levis made a risky decision to attack Quebec before the British army came out of winter quarters. His famished troops slogged their way through the snow and ice from Montreal to Quebec.

On the British side, Brigadier General James Murray commanded the starving and shivering British garrison of Quebec.

When Levis and his army appeared on the horizon, Murray decided to attack. He dragged heavy artillery through the slush onto the Plains of Abraham, while his soldiers followed. The British were outnumbered, but Murray decided to catch and crush Levis with a swift attack. He formed up in line of battle, and his cannons opened fire. The French were taking heavy casualties from the bombardment, which began to equalize the numbers of combatants. On one flank of the armies was a blockhouse, on the other, a windmill.

Bitter fighting raged in the windmill. It was taken and retaken by British light infantry, French grenadiers, His Britannic Majesty George II’s 35th Regiment, and His Most Christian Majesty Louis XV’s Bearn Regiment, all in turn. On the other flank, Rangers manned the blockhouse, but the French wiped them out.

The French held both strong positions on the flanks, and Levis launched attacks on the British flanks. By now the Royal Artillery was out of commission, due to a lack of ammunition transport through the slush. General Murray realized the disaster, and sent his reserves into the flanks, but it was too late. The French regiments charged into the British with bayonets, and the English officers could not rally their men. In the words of Levis’ aide-de-camp, the Chevalier de Johnstone, “The enemy fled so precipitately, and in such confusion that the officers could not rally a single man.”

The British and General Murray escaped through the gates into Quebec, and both armies anxiously waited for a ship of their own nation. If one French or British frigate could arrive in the River St. Lawrence, the possession of Quebec would be sealed. At last, a British frigate arrived in the river, followed a few days later by two more. The French retreated to Montreal, where the last vestiges of Louis XV’s colony in North America were lost on September 8th with the surrender of Montreal.

This battle is seen as unwise because Levis did not retake Quebec (for more information, see the post on Battle of Quebec). But it is clear that had one French ship arrived, the Battle of Sainte-Foy might have been more decisive even than Wolfe’s victory on the Plains of Abraham. And had the French frigate arrived, the independence of America might have been delayed, or even prevented all together. For without a British victory in the Seven Years’ War, there would have been no pretext to tax the American colonies. And without the taxation without representation of the British Parliament, there would have been no reason to revolt against the tyranny of England. But God in His Providence was using a battle in the snow in a little-known hamlet called Sainte-Foy, and the speedy voyage of the Royal Navy to the relief of the British garrison, ultimately, to bring America her freedom that she might shine forth the light of His Word. May we shine forth God’s light in this now-darkened country in which we live.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Well Done, Thou Good and Faithful Servant - Ye Olde Essay Contest Entry

Here is the final entry that our family submitted to "Ye Olde Essay Contest", written by yours truly (David). This essay is titled "Well Done, Thou Good and Faithful Servant". I would like to extend a very special thank you to Vision Forum for seeing the importance of the pen and for coming up with an avenue to assist writers in having a God-honoring outlet for their work. May this contest have served as inspiration for many in the body of Christ to sharpen their written communication skills and to dedicate their gifts and talents to the Lord to use for His purposes!

The sovereign ruler of a vast kingdom addressed the victorious warrior with the following words:

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Thy commitment to this kingdom that thou didst show through thy valor and bravery is admirable and thou art indeed worthy of the honor that I as king of this land bestow upon thee this day. Thou hast restored peace in this country by thy protection of the citizenry of this realm. We are all indebted to thou for thy act of heroism in defeating the dragon that hast been threatening the health and safety of my loyal subjects for many a day. Wouldst thou please recount how thou didst slay such a powerful and formidable foe?”

The one who had slain the fire-breathing menace replied to the king by saying:

“It is indeed my great privilege, O gracious king, to chronicle for thou the events that resulted in this victory for thy kingdom. As thou shalt clearly discern by this description, I cannot accept the praise for the triumph that was gained for thy empire since it was not the ability of thy servant that resulted in this successful conquest, but instead was due to the providential hand of Almighty God. It is He that is sovereign over all, governing in the affairs of men, and it is He that hast allowed me as His humble servant to be victorious for His good pleasure. My father trained me diligently to rest in the omnipotent hand of Jehovah by consistently extolling His holiness and perfection.

“My father had a vision of multi-generational family faithfulness which I deem as a sacred trust. This vision has served to inspire me to perpetuate this legacy by dedicating my life to serve my blessed Savior wholeheartedly and to raise my future family according to the precepts, patterns, and principles of Holy Scripture. One of the important lessons that both my father and my grandfather taught me through their words and their actions was not to trust in chariots and horses, but to remember that our strength is in the Lord. The oft-quoted words of my father still echo in my ears: ‘Every battle is the Lord’s, for it is He alone that can give thee victory over thine enemy.’ In addition to the consistent modeling of dependence on the King of Kings, my father trained me to be faithful in whatever my hand finds to do by performing each task as unto the Lord for the purpose of honoring His Name and not to seek after the praise of men, which is ever so fleeting. This truth from my father had the effect of instilling in me a sense of duty and, thus, when I was made aware of the danger that was before this kingdom, I knew that I had to go into battle out of a sense of responsibility to my Lord, a heart of thankfulness to my ancestors, a recognition of commitment to my descendants, and an awareness of my need to show loyalty to this country.

“I have profound gratitude for the diligent instruction of my father who not only taught me important principles to ensure that I had the proper spiritual, intellectual, and philosophical foundation, but also taught me practical skills that would be useful in order to live a life that would advance the crown rights of Christ. Since being able to properly defend home and country was always important to my father, one of the skills in which he ably trained me was the proper handling of a sword. My father himself was very accomplished with his own rapier, being knighted at the age of fourteen by thine own father, O king. The commitment that my father had in teaching me to be disciplined with the blade was invaluable and the mastery that he had with the sword along with abilities that were given to me by my loving Creator helped me in gaining an adeptness with this weapon. While under the tutelage of my father, I made a commitment to the One who bought me with a price that I would only ever employ the use of the sword when necessary to protect my family, my fellow man, or my country.

“In the battle that was secured this day, the Lord led me even when I knew not where to step. It was He that directed me to the place that would be close enough to see the movement of the menacing dragon, while still being well hidden from his sight based on the terrain of the land, my concealment being particularly aided by those rocks just over yonder. Throughout this whole encounter, I was praying to my Heavenly Father to honor and glorify His Name through me as His humble servant. One of the specific requests for which I beseeched the Holy One of Israel was that He would make known to me when I should proceed with my attack. The dragon was unwittingly moving toward me as I was bowing before God’s throne and when the beast was only thirty yards away from me, he suddenly stopped and then turned his back toward me. It was at that time that I sensed that the Lord was directing me to make my charge, which I did with utmost haste. As I was moving toward the dragon, he heard me coming upon him and turned toward me breathing fire. After narrowly escaping the flames, I lunged toward the fierce beast with my sword. Praise be to God that the blow on this fearsome foe was fatal and resulted in the victory for which I am standing before you now.”

The grateful monarch responded to the man of bravery with the following pronouncement:

“Thou hast shown thyself to be a humble and faithful servant to the God of heaven, hast strongly upheld the vision of thy ancestors, and hast demonstrated an admirable loyalty to thy country. To commend thy valiant acts of faithful service, I hereby officially ordain thee into the order of the Majesty’s Chivalrous Knights. I grant thee all the rights and privileges of thy incorporation into this prestigious order including lifetime exemption from all taxes and ownership of a parcel of property in the best portion of this land, which floweth with milk and honey. Additionally, I present thee with this fair maiden who is my dear and precious daughter to be thy beloved bride. I consider that my responsibility as father to raise this young lady to be full of virtue surpasses all of my obligations as the ruler of this vast kingdom. Based on thy acts of courage and thy words of honor, I discern that thou art an upright man and the one for whom I have been praying to wed my daughter.”

The newly ordained Sir Providence humbly responded to the king’s proclamation as follows:

“I am honored by your gracious and generous inclusion of thy servant into thy royal family and I pledge my sacred honor that I wilt rigorously strive to always be worthy of the kind words that thou hast ascribed to me today! Long live the king!”