Meanwhile Wolfe's troops bad reloaded. He seized the opportunity of the hesitation in the hostile ranks, and ordered the whole British line to advance. At first they moved forward with majestic regularity, receiving and paying back with deadly interest the volleys of the French; but soon the ardour of the soldiers broke through the restraints of discipline—they increased their pace to a run, rushing over the dying and the dead, and sweeping the living enemy off their path.
Wolfe was then wounded in the body; but he concealed his suffering, for his duty was not yet accomplished. Again a ball from the redoubt struck him on the breast. He reeled on one side; but at the moment that was not generally observed. "Support me," said he to a grenadier officer who was close at hand, "that my brave fellows may not see me fall." In a few seconds, however, he sank, and was borne a little to the rear.
The brief struggle fell heavily upon the British, but was ruinous to the French. They wavered under the carnage the columns which death had disordered were soon broken and scattered. Montcalm, with a courage that rose above the wreck of hope, galloped through the groups of his stubborn veterans, who still made head against the enemy, and strove to show a front of battle. His efforts were vain. The head of every formation was swept away before that terrible musketry. In a few minutes the French gave way in all directions. Just then their gallant general fell with a mortal wound: from that time all was utter rout.
While the British troops were carrying all before them, their young general's life was ebbing fast away. From time to time he tried, with his faint hand, to clear away the death-mist that gathered on his sight, but the efforts seemed vain, for presently he lay back, and gave no signs of life beyond a heavy breathing and an occasional groan.