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James Wolfe Collection (C173)

1751-1765. - 20 cm of textual records.

Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:

Born in England, James Wolfe (1727-1759) received his commission in the British army in 1741 and fought in Germany, Scotland and the Netherlands. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1750 and was named a colonel in 1756. By 1758 he was a brigadier-general and participated in the Louisbourg expedition. In 1759 he was made a major-general and the commander of the British land forces for the attack on Québec City. Although Québec City was captured, Wolfe died from wounds inflicted on the Plains of Abraham.

(Source: Guide to Archival Resources at McGill University : Private Papers At McGill University. McGill University Archives. 1985. Vol.3, p.190.)

Scope and Content:

The James Wolfe papers are primarily concerned with his military career. There are letters to his uncle, Major Walter Wolfe, dealing with Gen. Edward Braddock's defeat in 1755, the capture of Louisbourg in 1758, as well as a signal acknowledgement from Wolfe to Amherst during the Louisbourg siege in 1758. His writings consist of an elegy for Captain Gardiner, 1758 and a journal of his Québec campaign, 10 May-7 August, 1759. The journal documents the progress of the fleet to Québec, his vacillations concerning strategy and animosities amongst his staff members. Also included are a mathematics textbook, 1741 and correspondence of other Wolfe family members, 1745-1761. There are also historical pamphlets on Wolfe, 1901-1930 and material related to collections of Wolfe, including a catalogue, 1929, correspondence on Wolfe's kit dressing case, 1824, 1903 and the authenticity of various writings of Wolfe, 1936, 1971.

The collection is divided into the following series and files:

  • C173/A: Manuscript documents
    • C173/A,01 - Letters of James Wolfe
    • C173/A,02 - Manuscript material other than letters
    • C173/A,03 - Letters others than those by James Wolfe
  • C173/B: Printed documents
    • C173/B,01 - Prints and pamphlets - Canadian sources
    • C173/B,02 - Prints and pamphlets - British sources
  • C173/C: Additional documentation
    • C173/C,01 - Portraits of James Wolfe
    • C173/C,02 - Newspaper clippings
    • C173/C,03 - Wolfe's monument (England)
    • C173/C,04 - Correspondence, Wolfe's house
    • C173/C,05 - Beckles Willson, J. B. Learmont - Sale of Wolfiana
    • C173/C,06 - Faked Wolfe dispatch
    • C173/C,07 - Book of notes and clippings on James Wolfe
    • C173/C,08 - Miscellaneous documents