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General Lévis encouraging his French army at the battle of Sainte-Foy

Francis de Gaston, Chevalier de Levis (August 20, 1719 – November 20, 1787), born in Ajac, Aude, was a French noble and a Marshal of France. He served with distinction in the War of the Polish Succession and the War of the Austrian Succession, and served as a capable second in command to Louis-Joseph de Montcalm in the defense of New France during the Seven Years' War. Following the surrender of New France in 1760, he served in Europe. After the war he was appointed Governor of Artois, and in 1783 he was made a Marshal of France.

Military service

In 1756, the Marquis de Vaudreuil was informed that King Louis XV of France was sending the Marquis de Montcalm to take over the French forces in North America. Vaudreuil wrote back to Louis stating that there was no need to send another general, as Vaudreuil disliked the tactics of most "municipal" French generals. When Montcalm arrived in spite of Vaudreuil's protest, the two men developed a dislike for each other. Levis, second in command to Montcalm, diplomatically cultivated good relations with both men, and managed to avoid getting dragged into the feuds between the two leaders.

French planning for the 1758 campaign in the French and Indian War continued the disputes between Vaudreuil and Montcalm. Vaudreuil prevailed, and Montcalm was sent to Fort Carillon to defend against an expected British attack, and Levis was initially slated to lead an expedition to the western forts, leading about 500 French metropolitan troops and then a large force of seasoned French-Canadian militia. Vaudreuil, however, had second thoughts, and dispatched Levis and his metropolitan troops to support Montcalm at Carillon. Levis arrived at Carillon on the evening of July 7, as a British army was arriving before the fort. The next day, in an stroke of good fortune for the defenders, the 16,000 strong British army under the command of General James Abercrombie decided to frontally attack the French defenses manned by about 4,000 men, without the benefit of artillery support. In the Battle of Carillon, the British were decisively defeated, with Levis leading the defense on the French right flank.

Following Montcalm's death at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, Levis was appointed commander of French forces in North America. Wintering at Montreal, Levis managed to rally his troops and train them for a spring offensive aimed at recapturing Quebec in 1760. Marching downstream with the first breaking of the ice, Lévis met the forces of James Murray at the Battle of Sainte-Foy, where Levis' army won a striking victory, forcing Murray to retreat behind Quebec's walls. The lack of artillery and siege equipment precluded any assault on the fortifications of Quebec and Levis held back, awaiting reinforcements from Europe. With the arrival of a British squadron, Levis was obliged to retreat to Montreal, where Vaudreuil eventually surrendered New France to Amherst's army, which had advanced down the Saint Lawrence River that summer, in early September. Levis, unhappy with the terms of capitulation, which did not include traditional "honors of war", burned regimental colors rather than turning them over to the British.

Levis returned to France, and King Louis XV made him the Duc de Levis. Following additional military service in German campaigns, Levis was appointed Governor of Artois, and lived the rest of his life quietly in retirement. He died in 1787 in Arras, France, and was succeeded as duke of Levis by his son Pierre-Marc-Gaston, who escaped to England during the French Revolution.


  • Carillon 1758, Osprey Publishing
  • Quebec 1759, Osprey Publishing

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