Jon recalls “Ian Woods and I used to sing this at the Half Moon. Or rather Ian Woods would sing it and I’d sort of mumble along in harmony having never quite got round to learning the words…”
He’s following the Watersons here as Mainly Norfolk will reveal. You’ll note the alternative version from Martin Carthy, which follows the same story thread but with different words. There’s also a different song, again recorded by Carthy that seems to originate from the other side of the Atlantic, where this action and the resulting death of the general took place. The battle was actually one of the decisive actions of the war in Canada. As such it seems slightly short on the detail, as a degree of cunning and surprise won the day. According to Wiki Wolfe was wounded in three places and died, but not before noting the routing of the French forces. There is another ballad that focuses on his grieving betrothed, although he quite possibly entered that ‘arrangement’ out of convenience before heading off to war. He seems an intriguing and complex character, undoubtedly a hero to the British and commemorated with statues and paintings. At this point I’d like to hear from any Canadians regarding his status across the water, which I’m guessing is tempered by cultural duality. I picked up some interesting notes on Mudcat somewhere suggesting that the British spied some washer women and used their route to scale the cliffs outside Quebec. A Scottish soldier who could speak French fooled the sentries and surprise and the upper hand was gained. Again, I’d like to know whether this has any grounding in reality, or is simply a yarn. Still, a rousing song this one.