The Louisbourg Grenadiers
The Louisbourg Grenadiers was a temporary unit of grenadiers formed by General James Wolfe in 1759 to serve with British Army forces in the Quebec campaign of the Seven Years' War. Initially grenadiers from the 22nd, 40th, and 45th regiments were brought together by Wolfe at the Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia in preparation for action along the St. Lawrence River.
The unit was involved in numerous battles during the months long prelude to the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, including the ill-fated Battle of Beauport fought on the morning of Tuesday July 31st, near the falls at Montmorency, Four thousand British troops stormed the beaches in front of the Beauport trenches. It was the same gamble Wolfe used a year earlier at Louisbourg and won. But this time the French troops and Canadian militia were ready.
As Wolfe's men landed on shore and moved up the heavily fortified hill, the first troops advancing toward French lines were the thirteen companies of grenadiers and some 200 soldiers of the Royal Americans. Fire from the Montreal militia stalled their advance up the hill to the entrenchments above. Shortly after the firing began, a summer storm broke out, causing gunpowder to become wet and rendering firearms unusable. When General Wolfe ordered the retreat there were 440 English dead or wounded compared to 70 for the French. The injured British were taken to the General Hospital, under the care of Marie de la Visitation. Wolfe sent a letter to the French General, the Marquis de Montcalm, offering to pay for the care of his men but Montcalm gallantly refused to take any payment.
At the Battle of the Plains of Abraham General Wolfe was positioned near the Louisbourg Grenadiers. It was here that he was struck in the wrist early in the fight, but had wrapped the injury and continued on. Volunteer James Henderson, with the Louisbourg Grenadiers, had been tasked with holding the hill, and reported afterwards that within moments of the command to fire, Wolfe was struck with two shots, one low in the stomach and the second, a mortal wound in the chest. Knox wrote that one of the soldiers near Wolfe shouted "They run, see how they run." Wolfe, on the ground, opened his eyes and asked who was running. Upon being told that the French had broken, he gave several orders, then turned on his side and said "Now, God be praised, I will die in peace", and died.
After Quebec City's capture, the Grenadiers went on to be involved in the fall of Montreal the next year. After the end of the Seven Years' War, the unit was disbanded and its members returned to their original regiments.
Grenadiers were also detached from parent regiments and attached to Roger’s Rangers during some of their campaigns.