But on reaching land they found themselves checked by Canadian sharp-shooters disposed in the thickets along their front. A charge was ordered, Walley's men rushed with great impetuosity upon their assailants, and in spite of two volleys drove them back in confusion. Reinforced, however, the French made a stand, and, fighting in Indian fashion from behind cover, inflicted considerable loss upon the invaders. Towards evening the French force retired, and Walley advanced towards the St. Charles and encamped for the night, some small armed vessels that were to assist in the crossing of the river having failed to arrive.
While Walley's force was in this position, Phips moved his larger ships before the town and began a cannonade, which, however, had very little effect. His guns were no match for those of the fortress, and scarcity of powder made it necessary to reduce the charges, so that their normal efficiency was very much impaired. A picturesque touch is given to this phase of Phips' attack by the capture of the flag of the Admiral's own ship. A well-aimed shot from the shore batteries cut the flag-staff, staff and flag together falling into the river. They were drifting with the tide towards the town when some Canadians secured them and brought them ashore in triumph. After having two of his ships badly mauled, Phips withdrew his fleet out of range.
While the attack from the river was taking place, Walley's force lay in bivouac near the St. Charles, the men devoid of shelter, wet, famished, and suffering from small-pox. The smaller vessels which had been ordered to assist Walley in crossing the St. Charles were also to have supplied him with food rations, but the masters of these light craft, many of whom were also the owners, hesitated to risk them in the narrow channel. The only reinforcement which seems to have been received by Walley consisted of six small field-pieces, but they were only a burden, as there were no means available for moving them across the muddy Beauport flats.