[FRENCH & INDIAN WAR]. MONTCALM, Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, Marquis de Montcalm. (1712-1759). Autograph letter signed ("Montcalm") as Field Marshall (Marechal de camp) of French forces in Canada, to Le Comte de Morangies, Colonel du Régiment d'Infantrie de Languedoc, Brest, 26 March 1756. 1 page, 4to, integral address leaf with a good, clear impression of Montcalm's personal seal in wax. In French.
MONTCALM PREPARES TO SAIL TO AMERICA: "THE TROOPS ARE EMBARKING IN GOOD SPIRITS...LET THERE BE FAVORABLE WINDS..."
A very unusual secret letter (which the recipient is specifically instructed to burn!), in which Montcalm promises to recommend the Comte for an unspecified high command post, quite possibly the same to which Montcalm had just been named: Field Marshall and Field Commander in Canada. The Marquis assures "my dear Count," a friend and fellow officer, that certain letters (probably hand-carried by Montcalm) "will be forwarded punctually. I can perceive from what you have written your admirable zeal. And, if the occasion should arise--as you say, one cannot foresee--I will recommend you, for two good reasons. Firstly, if the Minister wishes to send someone else, it is I that he would overlook...not you; secondly, if I am requesting it, for you, you have the right to refuse, if the Minister nominates you under those terms. So, I have followed your suggestion, and will follow through with it should the circumstances arise, prudently and without compromising you, endorsing you as a good prospect..." And, he adds, conspiratorially, "it is understood that you will burn my letter. I have just burnt yours. And I will report you the news" He closes with warm regards to the Comte's father "whom I honor most particularly," and notes that "the troops are embarking [for New France] in good spirits. La Sarre, the 23rd [regiment]and Royal Rousillon very soon. The staff officers tomorrow and then--let there be favorable winds."
Montcalm had only recently been appointed to field command of the army in New France, though subordinate to the Governor General, Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil. After receiving his orders in Paris, on 14 March 1756 Montcalm and a trusted staff officer, Colonel Louis-Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811) went to Brest to embark his command, which included two infantry battalions of the La Sarre and Royal-Roussillon regiments (both mentioned here). The transport convoy set sail on 3 April, and about five weeks later, on 13 May, the Marquis arrived in Quebec. Although he won significant victories at Ford Edward (3 August 1757) and Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga, 8 July 1758), Montcalm would suffer a fatal wound while attempting to rally his troops under British fire in the climactic final hours of the battle of Quebec (13 September 1759), following a prolonged siege.