What if Wolfe failed at Quebec?
General Wolfe launched an attack on Quebec that seemed
doomed to total and inglorious failure. Due
to the incompetence of the French Commander, it succeeded; the British were able
to invest and capture the city. In turn, the French counter attack was also defeated, and the
British captured Montreal.
There were so many things that could have gone wrong that
it’s hard to pick a POD. Let’s
go with Wolfe – who was not on good terms with his three subordinate
commanders – having an accident as the British creep up along the hidden path.
In the ensuring chaos, the French launch a counter-attack that would be
very difficult to handle; the British are beaten back with heavy losses,
including Wolfe. To add insult to
injury, an attempt to launch a sea borne invasion fails badly with losses.
The British force has to return to the American colonies.
Pitt will hear of this in a month or thereabouts.
This marks yet another failure to take Canada, so he may conclude that a
change of plan is required. Instead
of investing the cold lands of Canada, the British will concentrate on taking
Louisiana, which is French territory at the time.
The American colonists – who are desperate for land – will join this
eagerly; it is a theatre where their strengths can be applied ruthlessly.
Taking over the French (and perhaps Spanish, as the Spanish
might have joined the war on news of the victory at Quebec) possessions in the
Caribbean was a British strategic priority for several years prior to Quebec.
Instead of battling it out over Montreal, British sea power can be used
to hack away at the French islands, taking them one by one and cutting them off
from the mainland. Conquering Cuba
might well be as easy as it was in OTL, and then the Americans can concentrate
on the mainland. Taking New Orleans
will be far easier than it was for the British, forty years and a different
Once the French commanders surrender, the British will have
to dispose of the new territories. American
and British settlers can and will flood into the new farmlands, bringing with
them slaves and taxes. This will be
encouraged as the Spanish majority will be regarded as untrustworthy; there’s
enough land in the interior to keep even the Americans happy for years to come.
Interest in Canada fades as the promise of Louisiana becomes apparent.
When peace comes, there will be a very different
settlement. Britain and the British
Empire will keep the Caribbean Islands, and Louisiana, which will become new
dominions. France gets to keep
Quebec and perhaps that useless island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Spain, which has suffered worst in the war, will have lost control over
part of Mexico and Texas, which will be opened by force by waves of immigrants.
Spain may collapse into anarchy; the defeat will open a whole can of
worms for the anti-monarchist parties.
The changes for the American colonies are almost
incalculable. With the new lands
being open to settlement – and settlement being encouraged for strategic
reasons – there will be no proclamation of Indian Land being sealed off.
The Indian lands will become less interesting, at least Pontic’s lands,
as settlers will head south. Without
that, and without the religious concessions made to the Catholics in France, the
American Revolution may well be butterfly’d away completely, along with all
the troubles in Cuba as Cuba will be part of the British Empire.
Spanish control over Mexico becomes weaker and weaker as
time goes on. The British settlers
are expanding into Texas and pressing against the Spanish infrastructure.
It crumbles in 1803, starting a second war with the French and Spanish.
It’s possible at this point that we will see a union of France and
Spain, while the colonies become independent, or British Puppets.
Quebec remains the poor land of the American continent for
years to come. The French were
never as successful as the British at attracting colonists to Canada – and not
many of those who might want to go wanted to live under the strict laws – and
consequently France will probably turn its attention eastward.
Without the cost of the American War in 1777, it may survive without a
major explosion, perhaps even absorbing more European states.