Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Great Fortress by William Wood

Part 1 out of 2

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

This etext was produced by Gardner Buchanan

Edited by George M. Wrong and H. H. Langton
In thirty-two volumes

Volume 8

A Chronicle of Louisbourg 1720-1760



Louisbourg was no mere isolated stronghold which could
be lost or won without affecting the wider issues of
oversea dominion. On the contrary, it was a necessary
link in the chain of waterside posts which connected
France with America by way of the Atlantic, the St
Lawrence, the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi. But since
the chain itself and all its other links, and even the
peculiar relation of Louisbourg to the Acadians and the
Conquest, have been fully described elsewhere in the
Chronicles of Canada, the present volume only tries to
tell the purely individual tale. Strange to say, this
tale seems never to have been told before; at least, not
as one continuous whole. Of course, each siege has been
described, over and over again, in many special monographs
as well as in countless books about Canadian history.
But nobody seems to have written any separate work on
Louisbourg showing causes, crises, and results, all
together, in the light of the complete naval and military
proof. So perhaps the following short account may really
be the first attempt to tell the tale of Louisbourg from
the foundation to the fall.

W. W.

QUEBEC, 2nd January 1915.



The fortress of Louisbourg arose not from victory but
from defeat; not from military strength but from naval
weakness; not from a new, adventurous spirit of attack,
but from a half-despairing hope of keeping one last
foothold by the sea. It was not begun till after the
fortunes of Louis XIV had reached their lowest ebb at
the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. It lived a precarious life
of only forty years, from 1720 to 1760. And nothing but
bare ruins were left to mark its grave when it finally
passed, unheeded and unnamed, into the vast dominions of
the conquering British at the Peace of Paris in 1763.

The Treaty of Utrecht narrowed the whole French sea-coast
of America down to the single island of Cape Breton.
Here, after seven years of official hesitation and maritime
exhaustion, Louisbourg was founded to guard the only
harbour the French thought they had a chance of holding.
A medal was struck to celebrate this last attempt to keep
the one remaining seaway open between Old France and New.
Its legend ran thus: Ludovicoburgum Fundatum et Munitum,
M.DCC.XX ('Louisbourg Founded and Fortified, 1720'). Its
obverse bore the profile of the young Louis XV, whose
statesmen hoped they had now established a French Gibraltar
in America, where French fleets and forts would command
the straits leading into the St Lawrence and threaten
the coast of New England, in much the same way as British
fleets and forts commanded the entrance to the Mediterranean
and threatened the coasts of France and Spain. This hope
seemed flattering enough in time of peace; but it vanished
at each recurrent shock of war, because the Atlantic then
became a hostile desert for the French, while it still
remained a friendly highway for the British.

The first French settlers in Louisbourg came over from
Newfoundland, which had been given up to the British by
the treaty. The fishermen of various nations had frequented
different ports all round these shores for centuries;
and, by the irony of fate, the new French capital of Cape
Breton was founded at the entrance to the bay which had
long been known as English Harbour. Everything that
rechristening could do, however, was done to make Cape
Breton French. Not only was English Harbour now called
Louisbourg, but St Peter's became Port Toulouse, St Anne's
became Port Dauphin, and the whole island itself was
solemnly christened Ile Royale.

The shores of the St Lawrence up to Quebec and Montreal
were as entirely French as the islands in the Gulf. But
Acadia, which used to form the connection by land between
Cape Breton and Canada, had now become a British possession
inhabited by the so-called 'neutral French.' These
Acadians, few in numbers and quite unorganized, were
drawn in opposite directions, on the one hand by their
French proclivities, on the other by their rooted affection
for their own farms. Unlike the French Newfoundlanders,
who came in a body from Plaisance (now Placentia), the
Acadians preferred to stay at home. In 1717 an effort
was made to bring some of them into Louisbourg. But it
only succeeded in attracting the merest handful. On the
whole, the French authorities preferred leaving the
Acadians as they were, in case a change in the fortunes
of war might bring them once more under the fleurs-de-lis,
when the connection by land between Quebec and the sea
would again be complete. A plan for promoting the
immigration of the Irish Roman Catholics living near Cape
Breton never got beyond the stage of official memoranda.
Thus the population of the new capital consisted only of
government employees, French fishermen from Newfoundland
and other neighbouring places, waifs and strays from
points farther off, bounty-fed engages from France, and
a swarm of camp-following traders. The regular garrison
was always somewhat of a class apart.

The French in Cape Breton needed all the artificial aid
they could get from guns and forts. Even in Canada there
was only a handful of French, all told, at the time of
the Treaty of Utrecht--twenty-five thousand; while the
British colonists in North America numbered fifteen times
as many. The respective populations had trebled by the
time of the Cession of Canada to the British fifty years
later, but with a tendency for the vast British
preponderance to increase still more. Canada naturally
had neither men nor money to spare for Louisbourg; so
the whole cost of building the fortress, thirty million
livres, came direct from France. This sum was then the
equivalent, in purchasing power, of at least as many
dollars now, though the old French livre was only rated
at the contemporary value of twenty cents. But the original
plans were never carried out; moreover, not half the
money that actually was spent ever reached the military
chest at all. There were too many thievish fingers by
the way.

The French were not a colonizing people, their governing
officials hated a tour of duty oversea, and Louisbourg
was the most unpopular of all the stations in the service.
Those Frenchmen who did care for outlandish places went
east to India or west to Canada. Nobody wanted to go to
a small, dull, out-of-the-way garrison town like Louisbourg,
where there was no social life whatever--nothing but
fishermen, smugglers, petty traders, a discontented
garrison, generally half composed of foreigners, and a
band of dishonest, second-rate officials, whose one idea
was how to get rich and get home. The inspectors who were
sent out either failed in their duty and joined the
official gang of thieves, or else resigned in disgust.
Worse still, because this taint was at the very source,
the royal government in France was already beset with
that entanglement of weakness and corruption which lasted
throughout the whole century between the decline of Louis
XIV and the meteoric rise of Napoleon.

The founders of Louisbourg took their time to build it.
It was so very profitable to spin the work out as long
as possible. The plan of the fortress was good. It was
modelled after the plans of Vauban, who had been the
greatest engineer in the greatest European army of the
previous generation. But the actual execution was hampered,
at every turn, by want of firmness at headquarters and
want of honest labour on the spot. Sea sand was plentiful,
worthless, and cheap. So it was used for the mortar, with
most disastrous results. The stone was hewn from a quarry
of porphyritic trap near by and used for the walls in
the rough. Cut stone and good bricks were brought out
from France as ballast by the fishing fleet. Some of
these finer materials were built into the governor's and
the intendant's quarters. Others were sold to New England
traders and replaced by inferior substitutes.

Of course, direct trade between the opposing colonies
was strictly forbidden by both the French and British
navigation acts. But the Louisbourg officials winked at
anything that would enrich them quickly, while the New
Englanders pushed in eagerly wherever a profit could be
made by any means at all. Louisbourg was intended to be
the general rendezvous of the transatlantic French fishing
vessels; a great port of call between France, Canada,
and the French West Indies; and a harbour of refuge in
peace and war. But the New England shipping was doing
the best trade at Louisbourg, and doing it in double
contraband, within five years of the foundation. Cod
caught by Frenchmen from Louisbourg itself, French wines
and brandy brought out from France, tobacco and sugar
brought north from the French West Indies, all offered
excellent chances to enterprising Yankees, who came in
with foodstuffs and building materials of their own. One
vessel sailed for New York with a cargo of claret and
brandy that netted her owners a profit of a hundred per
cent, even after paying the usual charges demanded by
the French custom-house officials for what really was a
smuggler's licence.

Fishing, smuggling, and theft were the three great
industries of Louisbourg. The traders shared the profits
of the smuggling. But the intendant and his officials
kept most of the choice thieving for themselves.

The genuine settlers--and a starveling crew they
were--wrested their debt-laden livelihood from the local
fishing. This was by no means bad in itself. But, like
other fishermen before and since, they were in perpetual
bondage to the traders, who took good care not to let
accounts get evened up. A happier class of fishermen made
up the engages, who were paid by government to 'play
settler' for a term of years, during which they helped
to swell the official census of uncongenial Louisbourg.
The regular French fishing fleet of course returned to
France at the end of every season, and thus enjoyed a
full spell of French delights on shore.

The Acadians supplied Louisbourg with meat and vegetables.
These were brought in by sea; for there were no roads
worth mentioning; nor, in the contemporary state of Cape
Breton, was there any need for roads. The farmers were
few, widely scattered, and mostly very poor. The only
prosperous settlement within a long day's march was
situated on the beautiful Mira river. James Gibson, a
Boston merchant and militiaman, who served against
Louisbourg in 1745, was much taken by the appearance of
an establishment 'at the mouth of a large salmon fishery,'
by one 'very handsome house, with two large barns, two
large gardens, and fine fields of corn,' and by another
with 'six rooms on a floor and well furnished.' He adds
that 'in one of the barns were fifteen loads of hay, and
room sufficient for sixty horses and cattle.' In 1753
the intendant sent home a report about a proposed 'German'
settlement near the 'Grand Lake of Mira.' A new experiment
was then being tried, the importation of settlers from
Alsace-Lorraine. But five years afterwards Cape Breton
had been lost to France for ever.

The fact is that the French never really colonized Cape
Breton at large, and Louisbourg least of all. They knew
the magnificent possibilities of Sydney harbour, but its
mere extent prevented their attempting to make use of
it. They saw that the whole island was a maritime paradise,
with seaports in its very heart as well as round its
shores. But they were a race of gallant, industrious
landsmen at home, with neither the wish nor the aptitude
for a nautical life abroad. They could not have failed
to see that there was plenty of timber in some parts of
the island, and that the soil was fit to bear good crops
of grain in others. A little prospecting would also have
shown them iron, coal, and gypsum. But their official
parasites did not want to see smuggling and peculation
replaced by industry and trade. Nothing, indeed, better
proves how little they thought of making Ile Royale a
genuine colony than their utter failure to exploit any
one of its teeming natural resources in forest, field,
or mine.

What the French did with extraneous resources and artificial
aids in the town of Louisbourg is more to the purpose in
hand. The problem of their position, and of its strength
and weakness in the coming clash of arms, depended on
six naval, military, and governmental factors, each one
of which must be considered before the whole can be
appreciated. These six factors were--the government, the
garrison, the militia, the Indians, the navy, and the

Get rich and go home. The English-speaking peoples, whose
ancestors once went to England as oversea emigrants, and
two-thirds of whom are now themselves the scions of
successive migrations across the Seven Seas, cannot
understand how intensely the general run of French
officials detested colonial service, especially in a
place like Louisbourg, which was everything the average
Frenchman hated most. This British failure to understand
a national trait, which is still as strongly marked as
ever, accounts for a good deal of the exaggerated belief
in the strength of the French position in America. The
British Americans who tried to think out plans of conquest
were wont to under-estimate their own unorganized resources
and to over-estimate the organized resources of the
French, especially when they set their minds on Louisbourg.

The British also entertained the erroneous idea that 'the
whole country was under one command.' This was the very
thing it was not. The French system was the autocratic
one without the local autocrat; for the functions of the
governor and the intendant overlapped each other, and
all disputes had to be referred to Quebec, where the
functions of another governor and another intendant also
overlapped each other. If no decision could be reached
at Quebec, and the question at issue was one of sufficient
importance, the now double imbroglio would be referred
to the Supreme Council in France, which would write back
to Quebec, whence the decision would be forwarded to
Louisbourg, where it would arrive months after many other
troubles had grown out of the original dispute.

The system was false from the start, because the overlapping
was intentional. The idea was to prevent any one man from
becoming too strong and too independent. The result was
to keep governors and intendants at perpetual loggerheads
and to divide every station into opposing parties. Did
the governor want money and material for the fortifications?
Then the intendant was sure the military chest, which
was in his own charge, could not afford it. The governor
might sometimes gain his ends by giving a definite
emergency order under his hand and seal. But, if the
emergency could not be proved, this laid him open to
great risks from the intendant's subsequent recriminations
before the Superior Council in Quebec or the Supreme
Council in France. The only way such a system could be
worked at all was either by corrupt collusion or by
superhuman co-operation between the two conflicting
parties, or by appointing a man of genius who could make
every other official discharge his proper duties and no
more. Corrupt collusion was not very common, because
the governors were mostly naval or military men, and the
naval and military men were generally honest. Co-operation
was impossible between two merely average men; and no
genius was ever sent to such a place as Louisbourg. The
ablest man in either of the principal posts was the
notorious intendant Bigot, who began here on a small
scale the consummate schemes that proved so disastrously
successful at Quebec. Get rich and go home.

The minor governmental life of Louisbourg was of a piece
with the major. There were four or five lesser members
of the Superior Council, which also had jurisdiction over
Ile St Jean, as Prince Edward Island was then called.
The lucrative chances of the custom-house were at the
mercy of four under-paid officials grandiloquently called
a Court of Admiralty. An inferior court known as the
bailiwick tried ordinary civil suits and breaches of the
peace. This bailiwick also offered what might be
euphemistically called 'business opportunities' to
enterprising members. True, there was no police to execute
its decrees; and at one time a punctilious resident
complained that 'there was not even a common hangman,
nor a jail, nor even a tormentor to rack the criminals
or inflict other appropriate tortures.' But appeals took
a long time and cost much money; so even the officials
of the bailiwick could pick up a living by threats of
the law's delay, on the one hand, and promises of perverted
local justice, on the other. That there was money to be
made, in spite of the meagre salaries, is proved by the
fact that the best journeyman wig-maker in Louisbourg
'grew extremely rich in different branches of commerce,
especially in the contraband,' after filling the dual
position of judge of the admiralty and judge of the
bailiwick, both to the apparent satisfaction of his friend
the intendant.

The next factor was the garrison of regulars. This was
under the direct command of the king's lieutenant, who
took his orders from the governor. The troops liked
Louisbourg no better than the officials did. True, there
were taverns in plenty: even before Louisbourg was
officially founded they had become such a thriving nuisance
that orders for their better control had been sent out
from France. But there was no other place for the ordinary
soldier to go to in his spare time. The officers felt
the want of a larger outlook even more than the men did;
and neither man nor officer ever went to Louisbourg if
he could help it. When Montcalm, the greatest Frenchman
the New World ever saw, came out to Canada, there was
eager competition among the troops at home to join his
army in the field. Officers paid large sums for the honour
of exchanging into any one of the battalions ordered to
the front; and when volunteers were called for from the
ranks every single man stepped forward. But no Montcalm
came out to Louisbourg, and nothing but bounties could
get a volunteer. There were only between five and six
hundred regulars in the whole garrison during the first
siege, twenty-five years after the foundation, and nearly
half of these were foreigners, mostly 'pay-fighting

The third factor was the militia. Every able-bodied man,
not specially exempt for other duties, was liable for
service in time of war; and the whole island could be
drawn upon for any great emergency at Louisbourg. Between
thirteen and fourteen hundred men were got under arms
for the siege of 1745. Those who lived in Louisbourg had
the advantage of a little slack discipline and a little
slack drill. Those in the country had some practice in
the handling of firearms. But, taken all round, it would
be an exaggeration to call them even quarter-trained

The fourth factor was the Indians. They belonged to the
Micmac tribe of the great Algonquin family, and probably
numbered no more than about four thousand throughout the
whole French sphere of influence in what are now the
Maritime Provinces. A few hundred braves might have been
ready to take the war-path in the wilds of Cape Breton;
but sieges were not at all in their line, except when
they could hang round the besiegers' inland flanks, on
the chance of lifting scalps from careless stragglers or
ambushing an occasional small party gone astray. As in
Canada, so in Cape Breton, the Indians naturally sided
with the French, who disturbed them less and treated them
better than the British did. The British, who enjoyed
the inestimable advantage of superior sea-power, had more
goods to exchange. But in every other respect the French
were very much preferred. The handful of French sent out
an astonishingly great number of heroic and sympathetic
missionaries to the natives. The many British sent out
astonishingly few. The Puritan clergy did shamefully
little compared with the wonderful Jesuits. Moreover,
while the French in general made the Indian feel he was
at all events a fellow human being, the average British
colonist simply looked on him as so much vermin, to be
destroyed together with the obstructive wilds that
harboured him.

The fifth factor, the navy, brings us into contact with
world-wide problems of sea-power which are too far-reaching
for discussion here [Footnote: See in this Series The
Winning of Canada and The Passing of New France, where
they are discussed.] Suffice it to say that, while
Louisbourg was an occasional convenience, it had also
peculiar dangers for a squadron from the weaker of two
hostile navies, as squadrons from France were likely to
be. The British could make for a dozen different harbours
on the coast. The French could make for only this one.
Therefore the British had only to guard against this one
stronghold if the French were in superior force; they
could the more easily blockade it if the French were in
equal force; and they could the more easily annihilate
it if it was defended by an inferior force.

The last factor was the fortress itself. This so-called
'Gibraltar of the West,' this 'Quebec by the sea,' this
'Dunkirk of New France,' was certainly first of its kind.
But it was first only in a class of one; while the class
itself was far from being a first among classes. The
natural position was vastly inferior to that of Quebec
or Gibraltar; while the fortifications were not to be
compared with those of Dunkirk, which, in one sense, they
were meant to replace. Dunkirk had been sold by Charles
II to Louis XIV, who made it a formidable naval base
commanding the straits of Dover. When the Treaty of
Utrecht compelled its demolition, the French tried to
redress the balance a little by building similar works
in America on a very much smaller scale, with a much more
purely defensive purpose, and as an altogether subsidiary
undertaking. Dunkirk was 'a pistol held at England's
head' because it was an integral part of France, which
was the greatest military country in the world and second
to England alone on the sea. Louisbourg was no American
Dunkirk because it was much weaker in itself, because it
was more purely defensive, because the odds of population
and general resources as between the two colonies were
fifteen to one in favour of the British, and because the
preponderance of British sea-power was even greater in
America than it was in Europe.

The harbour of Louisbourg ran about two miles north-east
and south-west, with a clear average width of half a
mile. The two little peninsulas on either side of the
entrance were nearly a mile apart. But the actual fairway
of the entrance was narrowed to little more than a clear
quarter of a mile by the reefs and islands running out
from the south-western peninsula, on which the fortress
stood. This low, nubbly tongue of land was roughly
triangular. It measured about three-quarters of a mile
on its longest side, facing the harbour, over half a mile
on the land side, facing the enemy's army, and a good
deal under half a mile on the side facing the sea. It
had little to fear from naval bombardment so long as the
enemy's fleet remained outside, because fogs and storms
made it a very dangerous lee shore, and because, then as
now, ships would not pit themselves against forts unless
there was no rival fleet to fight, and unless other
circumstances were unusually propitious.

The entrance was defended by the Island Battery, which
flanked the approach with thirty-nine guns, and the Royal
Battery, which directly faced it with thirty guns. Some
temporary lines with a few more guns were prepared in
time of danger to prevent the enemy from landing in
Gabarus Bay, which ran for miles south-west of Louisbourg.
But the garrison, even with the militia, was never strong
enough to keep the enemy at arm's length from any one of
these positions. Moreover, the north-east peninsula,
where the lighthouse stood, commanded the Island Battery;
and the land side of Louisbourg itself was commanded by
a range of low hillocks less than half a mile away.

It was this land side, containing the citadel and other
works, which so impressed outsiders with the idea of
impregnable strength. The glacis was perfect--not an inch
of cover wherever you looked; and the approach was mostly
across a slimy bog. The ditch was eighty feet wide. The
walls rose over thirty feet above the ditch. There were
embrasures for one hundred and forty-eight guns all round;
though not more than ninety were ever actually mounted.
On the seaward face Louisbourg was not so strongly
fortified; but in the centre of this face there were a
deep ditch and high wall, with bastions on each immediate
flank, and lighter defences connecting these with the
landward face. A dozen streets were laid out, so as to
divide the whole town into conveniently square little
blocks. The area of the town itself was not much more
than a hundred acres altogether--rather close quarters
for several thousand men, women, and children during a

If reports and memoranda could defend a fortress, then
Louisbourg ought indeed to have been impregnable. Of
course every official trust entails endless correspondence.
But, quite apart from the stated returns that go through
'the usual channel of communication,' reams and reams of
paper were filled with special reports, inspections,
complaints, and good advice. The governor wrote home,
most elaborately, in 1724, about the progress of the
works. Ten years later he announced the official
inauguration of the lighthouse on the 1st of April. In
1736 the chief item was the engineer's report on the
walls. Next year the great anxiety was about a dangerous
famine, with all its attendant distress for the many and
its shameless profits for the few. On November 23, 1744,
reinforcements and provisions were asked for, because
intelligence had been received that the New Englanders
were going to blockade Louisbourg the following summer.
At the same time, the discontent of the garrison had come
to a head, and a mutiny had broken out because the extra
working pay had not been forthcoming. After this the
discipline became, not sterner, but slacker than ever,
especially among the hireling Swiss. On February 8, 1745,
within three months of the first siege, a memorandum was
sent in to explain what was still required to finish the
works begun twenty-five years before.

But, after all, it was not so much the defective works
that really mattered as the defective garrison behind
them. English-speaking civilians who have written about
Louisbourg have sometimes taken partial account of the
ordinary Frenchman's repugnance to oversea duty in time
of peace and of the little worth of hireling foreigners
in time of war. But they have always ignored that steady
drip, drip, drip of deterioration which reduces the
efficiency of every garrison condemned to service in
remote and thoroughly uncongenial countries. Louisbourg
was remote, weeks away from exchanges with Quebec, months
from exchanges with any part of France or Switzerland.
And what other foreign station could have been more
thoroughly uncongenial, except, perhaps, a convict station
in the tropics? Bad quarters were endurable in Paris or
even in the provinces, where five minutes' walk would
take one into something pleasanter. Bad fortifications
would inspire less apprehension anywhere in France, where
there was at least an army always ready to take the field.
But cold, cramped quarters in foggy little Louisbourg,
between the estranging sea and an uncouth land of rock,
bog, sand, and scrubby vegetation, made all the world of
difference in the soldier's eyes. Add to this his want
of faith in works which he saw being scamped by rascally
contractors, and we can begin to understand why the
general attitude of town and garrison alike was one of
'Here to-day and gone to-morrow.'



Rome would not rest till she had ruined Carthage. Britain
would not rest till she had seen Dunkirk demolished. New
England would not rest till she had taken Louisbourg.

Louisbourg was unique in all America, and that was its
undoing. It was the one sentinel beside the gateway to
New France; therefore it ought to be taken before Quebec
and Canada were attacked. It was the one corsair lying
in perpetual wait beside the British lines of seaborne
trade; therefore it must be taken before British shipping
could be safe. It was the one French sea link between
the Old World and the New; therefore its breaking was of
supreme importance. It was the one real fortress ever
heard of in America, and it was in absolutely alien hands;
therefore, so ran New England logic, it was most offensive
to all true Britons, New Englanders, and Puritans; to
all rivals in smuggling, trade, and privateering; and to
all right-thinking people generally.

The weakness of Louisbourg was very welcome news to
energetic Massachusetts. In 1744, when Frederick the
Great had begun the War of the Austrian Succession and
France had taken arms against Great Britain, du Quesnel,
the governor of Louisbourg, who had received the
intelligence of these events some weeks before the alert
Bostonians, at once decided to win credit by striking
the first blow. He was much disliked in Louisbourg. He
drank hard, cursed his subordinates when in his cups,
and set the whole place by the ears. Moreover, many of
those under him wished to avoid giving the British
Americans any provocation, in the hope that the war might
be confined to Europe. But none dared to refuse a legal
and positive order. So in May his expedition left for
Canso, where there was a little home-made British fort
on the strait between Cape Breton and the mainland of
Nova Scotia. The eighty fishermen in Canso surrendered
to du Vivier, the French commander, who sent them on to
Boston, after burning their fort to the ground. Elated
by this somewhat absurd success, and strengthened by
nearly a hundred regulars and four hundred Indians, who
raised his total force to at least a thousand men, du
Vivier next proceeded against Annapolis on the west side
of Nova Scotia. But Mascarene, the British commander
there, stood fast on his defence, though his men were
few and his means small. The Acadian French in the vicinity
were afraid to join du Vivier openly. The siege dragged
on. The British received a slight reinforcement. The
French did not. And in September du Vivier suddenly
retired without attempting an assault.

The burning of Canso and the attack on Annapolis stirred
up the wrath of New England. A wild enthusiast, William
Vaughan, urged Governor Shirley of Massachusetts to make
an immediate counter-attack. Shirley was an English
lawyer, good at his own work, but very anxious to become
famous as a conqueror. He lent a willing ear to Vaughan,
and astounded the General Court of Massachusetts on
January 21, 1745, by first inducing the members to swear
secrecy and then asking them to consider a plan for a
colonial expedition against Louisbourg. He and they were
on very good terms. But they were provincial, cautious,
and naturally slow when it came to planning campaigns
and pledging their credit for what was then an enormous
sum of money. Nor could they be blamed. None of them knew
much about armies and navies; most thought Louisbourg
was a real transatlantic Dunkirk; and all knew that they
were quite insolvent already. Their joint committee of
the two Houses reported against the scheme; whereupon
each House carried a secret adverse vote by a large

But, just before these votes were taken, a Puritan member
from a country district wrestled in what he thought
confidential prayer with such loud ejaculations that an
eavesdropper overheard him and passed the secret on. Of
course the momentous news at once began to run like
wildfire through the province. Still, the 'Noes had it,'
both in the country and the House. Shirley was dejected
and in doubt what to do next. But James Gibson, the
merchant militiaman, suddenly hit on the idea of getting
up a petition among the business community. The result
surpassed every expectation. All the merchants were eager
for attack. Louisbourg embodied everything they feared
and hated: interference with seaborne commerce, rank
popery, French domination, trouble with Acadia, and the
chance of being themselves attacked. When the petition
was presented to both Houses, the whole subject was again
debated. Provincial insolvency and the absence of either
a fleet or an army were urged by the Opposition. But the
fighting party put forth all their strength and pleaded
that delay meant reinforcements for Louisbourg and a good
chance lost for ever. The vote would have been a tie if
a member of the Opposition had not slipped and broken
his leg as he was hurrying down to the House. Once the
decision had been reached, however, all did their best
to ensure success.

Shirley wrote to his brother governors. Vaughan galloped
off post-haste to New Hampshire with the first official
letter. Gibson led the merchants in local military zeal.
The result was that Massachusetts, which then included
Maine, raised over 3,000 men, while New Hampshire and
Connecticut raised about 500 each. Rhode Island concurred,
but ungraciously and ineffectually late. She nursed two
grudges against Massachusetts, one about the undeniably
harsh treatment meted out to her great founder, Roger
Williams, the other about that most fruitful source of
inter-provincial mischief-making, a disputed boundary.
New York lent some guns, which proved very useful. The
remaining colonies did nothing.

Shirley's choice of a commander-in-chief wisely fell on
William Pepperrell. There was no military leader in the
whole of New England. So the next most suitable man was
the civilian who best combined the necessary qualities
of good sense, sound knowledge of men and affairs,
firmness, diplomacy, and popularity. Popularity was
essential, because all the men were volunteers. Pepperrell,
who answered every reasonable test, went through the
campaign with flying colours and came out of it as the
first and only baronet of Massachusetts. He was commissioned
as major-general by all three contributing provinces,
since none of them recognized any common authority except
that of the crown. He was ably seconded by many leading
men who, if not trained soldiers, were at least accustomed
to the organization of public life; for in those days
the word politician had not become a term of reproach in
America, and the people were often represented by men of
the highest character.

The financial difficulty was overcome by issuing letters
of credit, which were afterwards redeemed by the Imperial
government, at a total cost of nearly a quarter of a
million sterling. There was no time and there were no
means to change the militia into an army. But many
compensating advantages helped to make up for its
deficiencies. The men volunteered eagerly. They were all
very keen to fight the French. Most of them understood
the individual use of firearms. Many of them had been to
sea and had learned to work together as a crew. Nearly
all of them had the handiness then required for life in
a new country. And, what with conviction and what with
prejudice, they were also quite disposed to look upon
the expedition as a sort of Crusade against idolatrous
papists, and therefore as a very proper climax to the
Great Awakening which had recently roused New England to
the heights of religious zealotry under the leadership
of the famous George Whitefield himself.

Strangely enough, neither Whitefield nor his friend
Pepperrell was at all sure that the expedition was a wise
or even a godly venture. Whitefield warned Pepperrell
that he would be envied if he succeeded and abused if he
failed. The Reverend Thomas Prince openly regretted the
change of enemy. 'The Heavenly shower is over. From
fighting the Devil they needs must turn to fighting the
French.' But Parson Moody, most truculent of Puritans,
had no doubts whatever. The French, the pope, and the
Devil were all one to him; and when he embarked as senior
chaplain he took a hatchet with which to break down the
graven images of Louisbourg. In the end Whitefield warmed
up enough to give the expedition its official motto: 'Nil
desperandum Christo Duce.' The 'Never Despair' heartened
the worldlings. The 'Christ our Commander' appealed to
the 'Great Awakened.' And the whole saying committed him
to nothing particular concerning the issue at stake.

The three militia contingents numbered 4,270 men. The
three naval contingents had 13 vessels mounting 216 guns.
In addition to both these forces there were the transports,
which had considerable crews. But all these together, if
caught on the open sea, would be no match for a few
regular men-of-war. New England had no navy, though the
New Englanders had enjoyed a good deal of experience in
minor privateering against the Spaniards during the last
few years, as well as a certain amount of downright piracy
in time of peace, whenever a Frenchman or a Spaniard
could be safely taken at a disadvantage. So Shirley asked
Commodore Warren, commanding the North American station,
to lend his aid. Warren had married an American and was
very well disposed towards the colonists. But, having no
orders from England, he at first felt obliged to refuse.
Within a short time, however, he was given a free hand
by the Imperial government, which authorized him to
concert measures with Shirley 'for the annoyance of the
enemy, and for his Majesty's Service in North America.'

Warren immediately sailed for Canso with three men-of-war
and sent for another to join him. His wait for orders
made him nearly three weeks later than the New Englanders
in arriving at the rendezvous. But this delay, due to no
fault of his own, was really an advantage to the New
England militia, who thus had a chance of learning a
little more drill and discipline. His four vessels carried
180 guns and 1,150 men at full strength. The thirteen
Provincial armed vessels carried more than 1,000 men. No
exact returns were ever made out for the transports. But
as '68 lay at anchor' in Canso harbour, while others
'came dropping in from day to day,' as there were 4,270
militiamen on board, in addition to all the stores, and
as the French counted '96 transports' making for Gabarus
Bay, there could not have been less than 100, while the
crews could hardly have mustered less than an average of
20 men each. The grand total, at the beginning of the
expedition, could not, therefore, have been less than
8,000 men, of all sorts put together--over 4,000 American
Provincial militia, over 1,000 men of the Royal Navy,
quite 1,000 men aboard the Provincial fighting vessels,
and at least 2,000 more as crews to work the transports.

May 1, the first Sunday the Provincials spent at Canso,
was a day of great and multifarious activity, both sacred
and profane. Parson Moody, the same who had taken the
war-path with his iconoclastic hatchet, delivered a
tremendous philippic from the text, 'Thy people shall be
willing in the day of Thy power.' Luckily for his
congregation he had the voice of a Stentor, as there were
several mundane competitors in an adjoining field, each
bawling the word of command at the full pitch of his
lungs. A conscientious diarist, though full of sabbatarian
zeal, was fain to admit that 'Severall sorts of Busnesses
was a-Going on: Sum a-Exercising, Sum a-Hearing o' the

On May 5 Warren sailed into Canso. The Provincials thought
the date of his arrival a very happy omen, as it fell on
what was then, according to the Old Style calendar, St
George's Day, April 23. After a conference with Pepperrell
he hurried off to begin the blockade of Louisbourg. A
week later, May 21, the transports joined him there, and
landed their militiamen for one of the most eccentric
sieges ever known.

While the British had been spending the first four months
of 1745 in preparing 8,000 men, the French authorities
in Louisbourg, whose force was less than 2,000, had been
wasting the same precious time in ridiculous councils of
war. It is a well-known saying that councils of war never
fight. But these Louisbourg councils did not even prepare
to fight. The news from Boston was not heeded. Worse yet,
no attention was paid to the American scouting vessels,
which had been hovering off the coast for more than a
month. The bibulous du Quesnel had died in October. But
his successor, du Chambon, was no better as a commandant.
Perhaps the kindest thing to say of du Chambon is that
he was the foolish father of a knavish son--of that du
Chambon de Vergor who, in the next war, surrendered Fort
Beausejour without a siege and left one sleepy sentry to
watch Wolfe's Cove the night before the Battle of the

It is true that du Chambon had succeeded to a thoroughly
bad command. He had no naval force whatever; and the
military force had become worse instead of better. The
mutiny in December had left the 560 regulars in a very
sullen frame of mind. They knew that acquisitive government
officials were cheating them out of their proper rations
of bacon and beans. The officials knew that the soldiers
knew. And so suspicion and resentment grew strong between
them. The only other force was the militia, which, with
certain exceptions, comprised every male inhabitant of
Cape Breton who could stand on two legs and hold a musket
with both hands. There were boys in their early teens
and old men in their sixties. Nearly 1,800 ought to have
been available. But four or five hundred that might have
been brought in never received their marching orders. So
the total combatants only amounted to some 1,900, of whom
1,350 were militia. The non-combatants numbered nearly
as many. The cramped hundred acres of imprisoned Louisbourg
thus contained almost 4,000 people--mutineers and militia,
women and children, drones and other officials, all
huddled up together.

No reinforcements arrived after the first appearance of
the British fleet. Marin, a well-known guerilla leader,
had been sent down from Quebec, through the bush, with
six or seven hundred whites and Indians, to join the two
thousand men whom the French government had promised du
Vivier for a second, and this time a general, attack on
Acadia. But these other two thousand were never sent;
and Marin, having failed to take Annapolis by the first
week in June, was too late and too weak to help Louisbourg
afterwards. The same ill luck pursued the French by sea.
On April 30 the Renommee, a very smart frigate bringing
out dispatches, was chased off by the Provincial cruisers;
while all subsequent arrivals from the outside world were
intercepted by Warren.

The landing effected on May 12 was not managed according
to Shirley's written instructions; nor was the siege.
Shirley had been playing a little war game in his study,
with all the inconvenient obstacles left out--the wind,
the weather, the crashing surf in Gabarus Bay, the rocks
and bogs of the surrounding country, the difficulties of
entering a narrow-necked harbour under a combination of
end-on and broadside fire, the terrible lee shore off
the islands, reefs, and Lighthouse Point, the commonest
vigilance of the most slovenly garrison, and even the
offensive power of the guns on the walls of Louisbourg
itself. Shirley's plan was that Pepperrell should arrive
in the offing too late to be seen, land unobserved, and
march on Louisbourg in four detachments while the garrison
was wrapped in slumber. Two of these detachments were
to march within striking distance and then 'halt and keep
a profound silence.' The third was to march 'under cover
of said hills' until it came opposite the Royal Battery,
which it was to assault on a given signal; while the
'profound silence' men rushed the western gate. The fourth
detachment was to race along the shore, scale a certain
spot in the wall, 'and secure the windows of the Governor's
Apartments.' All this was to be done by raw militia, on
ground they had never reconnoitred, and in the dead of

Needless to say, Pepperrell tried something quite different.
At daybreak of the 12th the whole fleet stood into Gabarus
Bay, a large open roadstead running west from the little
Louisbourg peninsula. The Provincials eyed the fortress
eagerly. It looked mean, squat, and shrunken in the dim
grey light of early dawn. But it looked hard enough, for
all that. Its alarm bells began to ring. Its signal cannon
fired. And all the people who had been living outside
hurried in behind the walls.

The New Englanders were so keen to land that they ran
some danger of falling into complete disorder. But
Pepperrell managed very cleverly. Seeing that some
Frenchmen were ready to resist a landing on Flat Point,
two miles south-west of Louisbourg, he made a feint
against it, drew their fire, and then raced his boats
for Freshwater Cove, another two miles beyond. Having
completely outdistanced the handful of panting Frenchmen,
he landed in perfect safety and presently scattered them
with a wild charge which cost them about twenty in killed,
wounded, and prisoners. Before dark two thousand Provincials
were ashore. The other two thousand landed at their
leisure the following day.

The next event in this extraordinary siege is one of the
curiosities of war. On May 14 the enthusiastic Vaughan
took several hundreds of these newly landed men to the
top of the nearest hillock and saluted the walls with
three cheers. He then circled the whole harbour, keeping
well inland, till he reached the undefended storehouses
on the inner side of the North-East Harbour, a little
beyond the Royal Battery. These he at once set on fire.
The pitch, tar, wood, and other combustibles made a
blinding smoke, which drifted over the Royal Battery and
spread a stampeding panic among its garrison of four
hundred men. Vaughan then retired for the night. On his
return to the Royal Battery in the morning, with only
thirteen men, he was astounded to see no sign of life
there. Suspecting a ruse, he bribed an Indian with a
flask of brandy to feign being drunk and reel up to the
walls. The Indian reached the fort unchallenged, climbed
into an embrasure, and found the whole place deserted.
Vaughan followed at once; and a young volunteer, shinning
up the flag-pole, made his own red coat fast to the top.
This defiance was immediately answered by a random salvo
from Louisbourg, less than a mile across the harbour.

Vaughan's next move was to write a dispatch to Pepperrell:
'May it please your Honour to be informed that by the
Grace of God and the courage of 13 Men I entered the
Royal Battery about 9 o' the clock and am waiting for a
reinforcement and a flag.' He had hardly sent this off
before he was attacked by four boats from Louisbourg.
Quite undaunted, however, he stood out on the open beach
with his thirteen men and kept them all at bay till the
reinforcement and the flag arrived with Bradstreet, who
was afterwards to win distinction as the captor of Fort
Frontenac during the great campaign of 1759.

This disgraceful abandonment and this dramatic capture
of the Royal Battery marked the first and most decisive
turning-point in the fortunes of the siege. The French
were dismayed, the British were elated; and both the
dismay and the elation grew as time wore on, because
everything seemed to conspire against the French and in
favour of the British. Even the elements, as the anonymous
Habitant de Louisbourg complains in his wonderfully candid
diary, seemed to have taken sides. There had never been
so fine a spring for naval operations. But this was the
one thing which was entirely independent of French fault
or British merit. All the other strokes of luck owed
something to human causes. Wise-acres had shaken their
heads over the crazy idea of taking British cannon balls
solely to fit French cannon that were to be taken at the
beginning of the siege: it was too much like selling the
pelt before the trap was sprung. Yet these balls actually
were used to load the forty-two pounders taken with the
Royal Battery! Moreover, as if to cap the climax, ten
other cannon were found buried in the North-East Harbour;
and again spare British balls were found to fit exactly!
The fact is that what we should now call the Intelligence
Department had been doing good work the year before by
spying out the land at Louisbourg and reporting to the
proper men in Boston.

The Bostonians had always intended to take the Royal
Battery at the earliest possible moment. But nobody had
thought that the French would abandon it without a blow
and leave it intact for their enemy, with all its armament
complete. The French council of war apparently shrank
from hurting the feelings of the engineer in charge, who
had pleaded for its preservation! They then ran away
without spiking the guns properly, and without making
the slightest attempt either to burn the carriages or
knock the trunnions off. The invaluable stores were left
in their places. The only real destruction was caused by
a barrel of powder, which some bunglers blew up by mistake.
The inevitable consequence of all this French ineptitude
was that the Royal Battery roared against Louisbourg the
very next morning with tremendous effect, smashing the
works most exposed to its fire, bringing down houses
about the inhabitants' ears, and sending the terrified
non-combatants scurrying off to underground cover.

Meanwhile the bulk of the New Englanders were establishing
their camp along the brook which fell into Gabarus Bay
beside Flat Point and within two miles of Louisbourg.
Equipment of all kinds was very scarce. Tents were so
few and bad that old sails stretched over ridge-poles
had to be used instead. When sails ran short, brushwood
shelters roofed in with overlapping spruce boughs were
used as substitutes.

Landing the four thousand men had been comparatively easy
work. But landing the stores was very hard indeed; while
landing the guns was not only much harder still, but full
of danger as well. Many a flat-boat was pounded into
pulpwood while unloading the stores, though the men waded
in waist-deep and carried all the heavy bundles on their
heads and shoulders. When it came to the artillery, it
meant a boat lost for every single piece of ordnance
landed. Nor was even this the worst; for, strange as it
may seem, there was, at first, more risk of foundering
ashore than afloat. There were neither roads nor yet the
means to make them. There were no horses, oxen, mules,
or any other means of transport, except the brawny men
themselves, who literally buckled to with anchor-cable
drag-ropes--a hundred pair of straining men for each
great, lumbering gun. Over the sand they went at a romp.
Over the rocks they had to take care; and in the dense,
obstructing scrub they had to haul through by main force.
But this was child's play to what awaited them in the
slimy, shifting, and boulder-strewn bog they had to pass
before reaching the hillocks which commanded Louisbourg.

The first attempts here were disastrous. The guns sank
out of sight in the engulfing bog; while the toiling men
became regular human targets for shot and shell from
Louisbourg. It was quite plain that the British batteries
could never be built on the hillocks if the guns had
nothing to keep them from a boggy grave, and if the men
had no protection from the French artillery. But a
ship-builder colonel, Meserve of New Hampshire, came to
the rescue by designing a gun-sleigh, sixteen feet in
length and five in the beam. Then the crews were told
off again, two hundred men for each sleigh, and orders
were given that the work should not be done except at
night or under cover of the frequent fogs. After this,
things went much better than before. But the labour was
tremendous still; while the danger from random shells
bursting among the boulders was not to be despised. Four
hundred struggling feet, four hundred straining arms--each
team hove on its long, taut cable through fog, rain, and
the blackness of the night, till every gun had been towed
into one of the batteries before the walls. The triumph
was all the greater because the work grew, not easier,
but harder as it progressed. The same route used twice
became an impassable quagmire. So, when the last two
hundred men had wallowed through, the whole ensnaring
bog was seamed with a perfect maze of decoying death-trails
snaking in and out of the forbidding scrub and boulders.

Pepperrell's dispatches could not exaggerate these 'almost
incredible hardships.' Afloat and ashore, awake and
asleep, the men were soaking wet for days together. At
the end of the longest haul they had nothing but a choice
of evils. They could either lie down where they were, on
hard rock or oozing bog, exposed to the enemy's fire the
moment it was light enough to see the British batteries,
or they could plough their way back to camp. Here they
were safe enough from shot and shell; but, in other
respects, no better off than in the batteries. Most men's
kits were of the very scantiest. Very few had even a
single change of clothing. A good many went bare-foot.
Nearly all were in rags before the siege was over.

When twenty-five pieces had been dragged up to Green Hill
and its adjoining hillocks, the bombardment at last began.
The opening salvo seemed to give the besiegers new life.
No sooner was their first rough line of investment formed
than they commenced gaining ground, with a disregard for
cover which would have cost them dear if the French
practice had not been quite as bad as their own. A really
wonderful amount of ammunition was fired off on both
sides without hitting anything in particular. Louisbourg
itself was, of course, too big a target to be missed, as
a rule; and the besiegers soon got so close that they
simply had to be hit themselves now and then. But,
generally speaking, it may be truthfully said that while,
in an ordinary battle, it takes a man's own weight in
cartridges to kill him, in this most extraordinary siege
it took at least a horse's weight as well.

The approach to the walls defied all the usual precautions
of regular war. But the circumstances justified its
boldness. With only four thousand men at the start, with
nearly half of this total on the sick list at one rather
critical juncture, with very few trained gunners, and
without any corps of engineers at all, the Provincials
adapted themselves to the situation so defiantly that
they puzzled, shook, and overawed the French, who thought
them two or three times stronger than they really were.
Recklessly defiant though they were, however, they did
provide the breaching batteries with enough cover for
the purpose in hand. This is amply proved both by the
fewness of their casualties and by the evidence of Bastide,
the British engineer at Annapolis, who inspected the
lines of investment on his arrival, twelve days before
the surrender, and reported them sufficiently protected.

Where the Provincials showed their 'prentice hands to
genuine disadvantage was in their absurdly solemn and
utterly futile councils of war. No schoolboys' debating
club could well have done worse than the council held to
consider du Chambon's stereotyped answer to the usual
summons sent in at the beginning of a siege. The formula
that 'his cannon would answer for him' provoked a
tremendous storm in the council's teacup and immediately
resulted in the following resolution: 'Advised, Unanimously,
that the Towne of Louisbourg be Attacked this Night.'
But, confronted with 'a great Dissatysfaction in many of
the officers and Souldiers at the designed attack of the
towne this Night,' it was 'Advised, Unanimously,' by a
second council, called in great haste, 'that the Said
Attack be deferred for the Present.' This 'Present' lasted
during the rest of the siege.

Once the New Englanders had settled down, however, they
wisely began to increase their weight of metal, as well
as to decrease the range at which they used it. They set
to work with a will to make a breach at the North-West
Gate of Louisbourg, near where the inner angle of the
walls abutted on the harbour; and they certainly needed
all their indomitable perseverance when it came to arming
their new 'North-Western' or 'Titcomb's Battery.' The
twenty-two pounders had required two hundred men apiece.
The forty-two pounders took three hundred. Two of these
unwieldy guns were hauled a couple of miles round the
harbour, in the dark, from that 'Royal Battery' which
Vaughan had taken 'by the Grace of God and the courage
of 13 Men,' and then successfully mounted at 'Titcomb's,'
just where they could do the greatest damage to their
former owners, the French.

Well-trained gunners were exceedingly scarce. Pepperrell
could find only six among his four thousand men. But
Warren lent him three more, whom he could ill spare, as
no one knew when a fleet might come out from France. With
these nine instructors to direct them Pepperrell's men
closed in their line of fire till besieged and besiegers
came within such easy musket-shot of one another that
taunting challenges and invitations could be flung across
the intervening space.

Each side claimed advantages and explained shortcomings
to its own satisfaction. A New England diarist says: 'We
began our fire with as much fury as possible, and the
French returned it as warmly with Cannon, Mortars, and
continual showers of musket balls; but by 11 o'clock we
had beat them all from their guns.' A French diarist of
the same day says that the fire from the walls was stopped
on purpose, chiefly to save powder; while the same reason
is assigned for the British order to cease fire exactly
one hour later.

The practice continued to be exceedingly bad on both
sides; so bad, indeed, that the New Englanders suffered
more from the bursting of their own guns than from the
enemy's fire. The nine instructors could not be everywhere;
and all their good advice could not prevent the eager
amateurs from grossly overloading the double-shotted
pieces. 'Another 42-pound gun burst at the Grand Battery.'
'Captain Hale is dangerously hurt by the bursting of
another gun. He was the mainstay of our gunnery since
Captain Rhodes's misfortune'--a misfortune due to the
same cause. But, in spite of all such drawbacks on the
British side, Louisbourg got much the worst of it. The
French had to fire from the centre outwards, at a semicircle
of batteries that fired back convergingly at them. Besides,
it was almost as hard to hit the thin, irregular line of
British batteries as it was to miss the deep, wide target
of overcrowded Louisbourg. The walls were continually
being smashed from without and patched up from within.
The streets were ploughed from end to end. Many houses
were laid in ruins: only one remained intact when the
siege was over. The non-combatants, who now exceeded the
garrison effectives, were half buried in the smothering
casemates underground; and though the fighting men had
light, air, and food enough, and though they were losing
very few in killed and wounded, they too began to feel
that Louisbourg must fall if it was not soon relieved
from outside.

The British, on the contrary, grew more and more confident,
both afloat and ashore, though they had one quite alarming
scare ashore. They knew their navy outmatched the French;
and they saw that, while Warren was being strengthened,
du Chambon was being left as devoid of naval force as
ever. But their still greater confidence ashore was, for
the time being, very rudely shaken when they heard that
Marin, the same French guerilla leader who had been sent
down from Quebec against Annapolis with six or seven
hundred whites and Indians, had been joined by the promised
reinforcements from France and was coming to take the
camp in rear. The truth was that the reinforcements never
arrived, that Marin had failed to take Annapolis, and
that there was no real danger from his own dwindling
force, even if it had tried to relieve Louisbourg in
June. But the rumour ran quickly through the whole camp,
probably not without Pepperrell's own encouragement, and
at once produced, not a panic, but the most excellent
effect. Discipline, never good, had been growing worse.
Punishments were unknown. Officers and men were petitioning
for leave to go home, quite regardless of the need for
their services at the front. Demands for promotion, for
extra allowances, and for increased pay were becoming a
standing nuisance. Then, just as the leaders were at
their wits' ends what to do, Marin's threatened attack
came to their aid; and their brave armed mob once more
began to wear the semblance of an army. Sentries, piquets,
and outposts appeared as if by magic. Officers went their
rounds with zeal. The camp suddenly ceased to be a
disorderly playground for every one off duty. The breaching
batteries redoubled their efforts against the walls.

The threat of danger once past, however, the men soon
slipped back into their careless ways. A New England
chronicler records that 'those who were on the spot have
frequently, in my hearing, laughed at the recital of
their own irregularities and expressed their admiration
when they reflected on the almost miraculous preservation
of the army from destruction.' Men off duty amused
themselves with free-and-easy musketry, which would have
been all very well if there had not been such a dearth
of powder for the real thing. Races, wrestling, and quoits
were better; while fishing was highly commendable, both
in the way of diet as well as in the way of sport. Such
entries as 'Thritty Lobbsters' and '6 Troutts' appear in
several diaries.

Nor were other forms of gaiety forgotten. Even a
Massachusetts Puritan could recommend a sermon for general
distribution in the camp because 'It will please your
whole army, as it shows them the way to gain by their
gallantry the hearts and affections of the Ladys.' And
even a city of the 'Great Awakening,' like Boston, could
produce a letter like the following:

I hope this will find you at Louisbourg with a bowl
of Punch, a Pipe, and a Pack of Cards, and whatever
else you desire. (I had forgot to mention a Pretty
French Madammoselle.) Your Friend Luke has lost several
Beaver Hatts already concerning the Expedition. He is
so very zealous about it that he has turned poor
Boutier out of his house for saying he believed you
wouldn't take the Place. Damn his Blood, says Luke,
let him be an Englishman or a Frenchman and not pretend
to be an Englishman when he is a Frenchman in his
Heart. If Drinking to your Success would take Cape
Britton you must be in possession of it now, for it's
a Standing Toast.

The day this letter was written in Boston, May 6, Warren
had already begun the regular blockade. Only a single
ship eluded him, an ably handled Basque, which stood in
and rounded to, under the walls of Louisbourg, after
running the gauntlet of the Royal Battery, on which the
French fired with all their might to keep its own fire
down. A second vessel was forced aground. Her captain
fought her to the last; but Warren's boat crews took her.
Some men who escaped from her brought du Chambon the news
that a third French ship, the Vigilant, was coming to
the relief of Louisbourg with ammunition and other stores.
This ship had five hundred and sixty men aboard, that
is, as many as all the regulars in Louisbourg. On May 31
the garrison heard a tremendous cannonading out at sea.
It grew in volume as Warren's squadron was seen to surround
the stranger, who was evidently making a gallant fight
against long odds. Presently it ceased; the clustered
vessels parted; spread out; and took up their stations
exactly as before, except that a new vessel was now flying
the British flag. This was the Vigilant, which had been
put in charge of a prize crew, while her much-needed
stores had been sent in to the Provincial army.

The French in Louisbourg were naturally much discouraged
to see one of their best frigates flying the Union Jack.
But they still hoped she might not really be the anxiously
expected Vigilant. Warren, knowing their anxiety, determined
to take advantage of it at the first opportunity. He had
not long to wait. A party of New Englanders, wandering
too far inland, were ambushed by the French Indians, who
promptly scalped all the prisoners. Warren immediately
sent in a formal protest to du Chambon, with a covering
letter from the captain of the Vigilant, who willingly
testified to the good treatment he and his crew were
receiving on board the British men-of-war. Warren's
messenger spoke French perfectly, but he concealed his
knowledge by communicating with du Chambon through an
interpreter. This put the French off their guard and
induced them to express their dismay without reserve when
they read the news about the Vigilant. Everything they
said was of course reported back to Warren, who immediately
passed it on to Pepperrell.

Warren now thought the time had come to make a bold,
decisive stroke. He had just been reinforced by two more
frigates out from England. Titcomb's famous brace of
forty-two's had just begun to hammer in the North-West
Gate of Louisbourg. Pepperrell's lines of investment were
quite complete. The chance was too tempting to let slip,
especially as it was safe strategy to get into Louisbourg
before the French could be relieved either by land or
sea. Still, there was the Island Battery to reckon with.
It was full of fight, and it flanked the narrow entrance
in the most threatening way. Warren paused to consider
the strength of this last outpost of the French defences
and called a council of war to help him. For once a
council favoured extreme measures; whereupon Warren sent
in word to Pepperrell, asking for 1,500 Provincials, and
proposing a combined assault immediately. The plan was
that Warren should sail in, past the Island Battery, and
attack the harbour face of Louisbourg with every soldier,
sailor, and ship's gun at his disposal; while Pepperrell
carried the landward face by assault. This plan might
have succeeded, though at considerable loss, if Pepperrell's
whole 4,000 had been effective. But as he then had 1,900
sick and wounded, and 600 guarding his rear against the
rumoured advance of Marin from Annapolis, it was quite
evident that if he gave Warren another 1,500 he would
have to assault the landward face alone. Under these
circumstances he very sensibly declined to co-operate in
the way Warren had suggested. But he offered 600 men,
both from his army and the transports, for the Vigilant,
whose prize crew would thus be released for duty aboard
their own vessels. Warren, who was just over forty,
replied with some heat. But Pepperrell, who was just under
fifty, kept his temper admirably and carried the day.

Warren, however, still urged Pepperrell to take some
decisive step. Both fleet and army agreed that a night
attack on the Island Battery was the best alternative to
Warren's impracticable plan. Vaughan jumped at the idea,
hoping to repeat in another way his success against the
Royal Battery. He promised that, if he was given a free
hand, he would send Pepperrell the French flag within
forty-eight hours. But Vaughan was not to lead. The whole
attack was entrusted to men who specially volunteered
for it, and who were allowed to choose their own officers.
A man called Brooks happened to be on the crest of the
wave of camp popularity at the moment; so he was elected
colonel for this great occasion. The volunteers soon
began to assemble at the Royal Battery. But they came in
by driblets, and most of them were drunk. The commandant
of the battery felt far from easy. 'I doubt whether
straggling fellows, three, four, or seven out of a company,
ought to go on such service. They seem to be impatient
for action. If there were a more regular appearance, it
would give me greater sattysfaction.' His misgivings were
amply justified; for the men whom Pepperrell was just
beginning to form into bodies with some kind of cohesion
were once more being allowed to dissolve into the original
armed mob.

The night of June 7 was dark and calm. A little before
twelve three hundred men, wisely discarding oars, paddled
out from the Royal Battery and met another hundred who
came from Lighthouse Point. The paddles took them along
in silence while they circled the island, looking for
the narrow landing-place, where only three boats could
go abreast between the destroying rocks on which the surf
was breaking. Presently they found the tiny cove, and a
hundred and fifty men landed without being discovered.
But then, with incredible folly, they suddenly announced
their presence by giving three cheers. The French commandant
had cautioned his garrison to be alert, on account of
the unusual darkness; and, at this very moment, he happened
himself to be pacing up and down the rampart overlooking
the spot where the volunteers were expressing their
satisfaction at having surprised him so well.

His answer was instantaneous and effective. The battery
'blazed with cannon, swivels, and small-arms,' which
fired point-blank at the men ashore and with true aim at
the boats crowded together round the narrow landing-place.
Undaunted though undisciplined, the men ashore rushed at
the walls with their scaling-ladders and began the assault.
The attempt was vain. The first men up the rungs were
shot, stabbed, or cut down. The ladders were smashed or
thrown aside. Not one attacker really got home. Meanwhile
the leading boats in the little cove were being knocked
into splinters by the storm of shot. The rest sheered
off. None but the hundred and fifty men ashore were left
to keep up the fight with the garrison. For once the odds
were entirely with the French, who fired from under
perfect cover, while the unfortunate Provincials fired
back from the open rocks. This exchange of shots went
on till daylight, when one hundred and nineteen Provincials
surrendered at discretion. Their total loss was one
hundred and eighty-nine, nearly half the force employed.

Despairing Louisbourg naturally made the most of this
complete success. The bells were rung and the cannon were
fired to show the public joy and to put the best face on
the general situation. Du Chambon surpassed himself in
gross exaggerations. He magnified the hundred and fifty
men ashore into a thousand, and the two hundred and fifty
afloat into eight hundred; while he bettered both these
statements by reporting that the whole eighteen hundred
had been destroyed except the hundred and nineteen who
had been taken prisoners.

Du Chambon's triumph was short-lived. The indefatigable
Provincials began a battery at Lighthouse Point, which
commanded the island at less than half a mile. They had
seized this position some time before and called it
Gorham's Post, after the colonel whose regiment held it.
Fourteen years later there was another and more famous
Gorham's Post, on the south shore of the St Lawrence near
Quebec, opposite Wolfe's Cove. The arming of this battery
was a stupendous piece of work. The guns had to be taken
round by sea, out of range of the Island Battery, hauled
up low but very dangerous cliffs, and then dragged back
overland another mile and a quarter. The directing officer
was Colonel Gridley, who drew the official British maps
and plans of Louisbourg in 1745, and who, thirty years
later, traced the American defences on the slopes of
Bunker's Hill. Du Chambon had attempted to make an attack
on Gorham's Post as soon as it was established. His idea
was that his men should follow the same route as the
British guns had followed--that is, that they should run
the gauntlet between the British fleet and army, land
well north of Gorham's Post, and take it by surprise from
the rear. But his detachment, which was wholly inadequate,
failed to strike its blow, and was itself very nearly
cut off by Warren's guard-boats on its crest-fallen return
to Louisbourg.

Gridley's Lighthouse Battery soon over-matched the Island
Battery, where powder was getting dangerously scarce.
Many of the French guns were knocked off their mountings,
while the walls were breached. Finally, the British
bombardment became so effective that Frenchmen were seen
running into the water to escape the bursting shells. It
was now past the middle of June, and the siege had lasted
more than a month. The circle of fire was closing in on
the beleaguered garrison. Their total effectives had sunk
to only a thousand men. This thousand laboured harder in
its losing cause than might have been expected. Perhaps
the mutineers hoped to be pardoned if they made a firm
defence. Perhaps the militia thought they ought not to
be outdone by mutineers and hireling foreigners. But,
whatever the reason, great efforts were certainly made
to build up by night what the British knocked down by
day. Two could play at that game, however, and the British
had the men and means to win. Their western batteries
from the land were smashing the walls into ruins. Their
Royal Battery wrecked the whole inner water-front of
Louisbourg. Breaches were yawning elsewhere. British
fascines were visible in large quantities, ready to fill
up the ditch, which was already half full of debris. The
French scouts reported hundreds of scaling-ladders on
the reverse slopes of the nearest hillocks. Warren's
squadron had just been again reinforced, and now numbered
eleven sail, carrying 554 guns and 3,000 men. There was
no sign of help, by land or sea, for shrunken, battered,
and despairing Louisbourg. Food, ammunition, stores were
all running out. Moreover, the British were evidently
preparing a joint attack, which would result in putting
the whole garrison to the sword if a formal surrender
should not be made in time.

Now that the Island Battery had been silenced there was
no reason why Warren's plan should not be crowned with
complete success. Accordingly he arranged with Pepperrell
to run in with the first fair wind, at the head of the
whole fleet, which, with the Provincial armed vessels,
now numbered twenty-four sail, carried 770 guns, and was
manned by 4,000 sailors. Half these men could be landed
to attack the inner water-front, while Pepperrell could
send another 2,000 against the walls. The total odds
against Louisbourg would thus be about four to one in
men and over eight to one in guns actually engaged.

But this threatened assault was never made. In the early
morning of June 27 the non-combatants in Louisbourg
unanimously petitioned du Chambon to surrender forthwith.
They crept out of their underground dungeons and gazed
with mortal apprehension at the overwhelming forces that
stood arrayed against their crumbling walls and dwindling
garrison. Noon came, and their worst fears seemed about
to be realized. But when the drums began beating, it was
to a parley, not to arms. A sigh of ineffable relief went
up from the whole of Louisbourg, and every eye followed
the little white flutter of the flag of truce as it neared
that terrible breaching battery opposite the West Gate.
A Provincial officer came out to meet it. The French
officer and he saluted. Then both moved into the British
lines and beyond, to where Warren and Pepperrell were
making their last arrangements on Green Hill.

After a short consultation the British leaders sent in
a joint reply to say that du Chambon could have till
eight the next morning to make his proposals. These proved
to be so unacceptable that Pepperrell refused to consider
them, and at once sent counter-proposals of his own. Du
Chambon had now no choice between annihilation and
acceptance, so he agreed to surrender Louisbourg the
following day. He was obliged to guarantee that none of
the garrison should bear arms against the British, in
any part of the world, for a whole year. Every one in
Louisbourg was of course promised full protection for
both property and person. Du Chambon's one successful
stipulation was that his troops should march out with
the honours of war, drums beating, bayonets fixed, and
colours flying. Warren and Pepperrell willingly accorded
this on the 28th; and the formal transfer took place next
day, exactly seven weeks since the first eager New
Englanders had waded ashore through the thundering surf
of Gabarus Bay.

The total losses in killed and wounded were never precisely
determined. Each side minimized its own and maximized
the enemy's. But as du Chambon admitted a loss of one
hundred and forty-five, and as the Provincials claimed
to have put three hundred out of action, the true number
is probably about two hundred, or just over ten per cent
of the whole garrison. The Provincials reported their
own killed, quite correctly, at a hundred. The remaining
deaths, on both sides, were due to disease. The Provincial
wounded were never grouped together in any official
returns. They amounted to about three hundred. This brings
the total casualties in Pepperrell's army up to four
hundred and gives the same percentage as the French. The
highest proportion of casualties among all the different
forces was the fifteen per cent lost by the French on
board the Vigilant in less than five hours' fighting.
The lowest was in Warren's squadron and the Provincial
Marine--about five in each. The loss of material suffered
by the French was, of course, on quite a different scale.
Every fortification and other building in Louisbourg,
with the remarkable exception of a single house, was at
least partly demolished by the nine thousand cannon balls
and six hundred shells that hit the target of a hundred
acres peopled by four thousand souls.

On the 29th the French marched out with the honours of
war, laid down their arms, and were put under guard as
prisoners, pending their transport to France. Du Chambon
handed the keys to Pepperrell at the South Gate. The
victorious but disgusted Provincials marched in by the
West Gate, and found themselves set to protect the very
houses that they had hoped to plunder. Was it not high
time to recoup themselves for serving as soldiers at
sixpence a day? Great Babylon had fallen, and ought to
be destroyed--of course, with due profit to the destroyers.
There was a regular Louisbourg legend, current in New
England, that stores of goods and money were to be found
in the strong rooms of every house. So we can understand
the indignation of men whose ideas were coloured by
personal contact with smuggling and privateering, and
sometimes with downright piracy, when they were actually
told off as sentries over these mythical hoards of wealth.
One diarist made the following entry immediately after
he had heard the news: 'Sabbath Day, ye 16th June [Old
Style] they came to Termes for us to enter ye Sitty to
morrow, and Poore Termes they Bee too.' Another added
that there was 'a great Noys and hubbub a mongst ye
Solders a bout ye Plunder: Som a Cursing, Som a Swarein.'
Five days later a third indignant Provincial wrote: 'Ye
French keep possession yet, and we are forsed to stand
at their Dores to gard them.' Another sympathetic
chronicler, after pouring out the vials of his wrath on
the clause which guaranteed the protection of French
private property, lamented that 'by these means the poor
souldiers lost all their hopes and just demerit [sic] of
plunder promised them.'

While Parson Moody was preaching a great thanksgiving
sermon, and all the senior officers were among his
congregation, there was what responsible officials called
'excessive stealing in every part of the Towne.' Had this
stealing really been very 'excessive' no doubt it would
have allayed the grumbling in the camp. But, as a matter
of fact, there was so little to steal that the looters
began to suspect collusion between their leaders and the
French. Another fancied wrong exasperated the Provincials
at this critical time. A rumour ran through the camp that
Warren had forestalled Pepperrell by receiving the keys
himself. Warren was cursed, Pepperrell blamed; and a
mutinous spirit arose. Then it was suddenly discovered
that Pepperrell had put the keys in his pocket.

Meanwhile the fleet was making haul after haul. When
Pepperrell marched through the battered West Gate, at
the head of his motley army, Warren had led his squadron
into the harbour; and both commanders had saluted the
raising of the Union Jack which marked the change of
ownership. But no sooner had the sound of guns and cheering
died away than the Union Jack was lowered and the French
flag was raised again, both over the citadel of Louisbourg
and over the Island Battery. This stratagem succeeded
beyond Warren's utmost expectations. Several French
vessels were lured into Louisbourg and captured with
stores and men enough to have kept the British out for
some weeks longer. Their cargoes were worth about a
million dollars. Then, just as the naval men were wondering
whether their harvest was over or not, a fine French
frigate made for the harbour quite unsuspectingly, and
only discovered her fatal mistake too late to turn back.
By the irony of circumstances she happened to be called
Notre-Dame de la Delivrance. Among her passengers was
the distinguished man of science, Don Antonio de Ulloa,
on his way to Paris, with all the results of those
explorations in South America which he afterwards embodied
in a famous book of travel. Warren treated him with the
greatest courtesy and promised that all his collections
should be duly forwarded to the Royal Academy of Sciences.
Once this exchange of international amenities had been
ended, however, the usual systematic search began. The
visible cargo was all cocoa. But hidden underneath were
layers and layers of shining silver dollars from Peru;
and, underneath this double million, another two million
dollars' worth of ingots of silver and ingots of gold.

The contrast between the poverty of Louisbourg, where so
much had been expected, and the rich hauls of prize-money
made by the fleet, was gall and wormwood to the Provincials.
But their resentment was somewhat tempered by Warren's
genial manner towards them. Warren was at home with all
sorts and conditions of men. His own brother-officers,
statesmen and courtiers, distinguished strangers like
Ulloa, and colonial merchants like Pepperrell, were
equally loud in his praise. With the lesser and much more
easily offended class of New Englanders found in the
ranks he was no less popular. A rousing speech, in which
he praised the magnificently stubborn work accomplished
by 'my wife's fellow-countrymen,' a hearty generosity
all round, and a special hogshead of the best Jamaica
rum for the garrison of the Royal Battery, won him a
great deal of goodwill, in spite of the fact that his
'Admiral's eighth' of the naval prize-money amounted to
some sixty thousand pounds, while Pepperrell found himself
ten thousand pounds out of pocket at the end of the siege.

Pepperrell, however, was a very rich man, for those
colonial days; and he could well afford to celebrate the
fall of Louisbourg by giving the chief naval and military
officers a dinner, the fame of which will never fade away
from some New England memories. Everything went off
without a hitch. But, as the hour approached, there was
a growing anxiety, on the part of both host and guests,
as to whether or not the redoubtable Parson Moody would
keep them listening to his grace till all the meats got
cold. He was well known for the length, as well as for
the strength, of his discourses. He had once denounced
the Devil in a grace of forty minutes. So what was the
surprised delight of his fellow-revellers when he hardly
kept them standing longer than as many seconds. 'Good
Lord!' he said, 'we have so much to thank Thee for, that
Time will be too short. Therefore we must leave it for
Eternity. Bless our food and fellowship on this joyful
occasion, for the sake of Christ our Lord. Amen!'

News of the victory was sent at once to Boston. The vessel
bearing it arrived in the middle of the night. But long
before the summer sun was up the streets were filled with
shouts of triumph, while the church bells rang in peals
of exultation, and all the guns and muskets in the place
were fired as fast as men could load them.

The mother country's joy was less exuberant. There were
so many other things to think of nearer home; among them
the British defeat at Fontenoy and the landing of the
Young Pretender. Nor was the actual victory without alloy;
for prescient people feared that a practically independent
colonial army had been encouraged to become more independent
still. And who can say the fear was groundless? Louisbourg
really did serve to blood New Englanders for Bunker's
Hill. But, in spite of this one drawback, the news was
welcomed, partly because any victory was welcome at such
a time, and partly because the fall of Louisbourg was a
signal assertion of British sea-power on both sides of
the Atlantic.

London naturally made overmuch of Warren's share, just
as Boston made overmuch of Pepperrell's. But the Imperial
government itself perfectly understood that the fleet
and the army were each an indispensable half of one
co-operating whole. Warren was promoted rear-admiral of
the blue, the least that could be given him. Pepperrell
received much higher honours. He was made a baronet and,
like Shirley, was given the colonelcy of a regiment which
was to bear his name. Such 'colonelcies' do not imply
the actual command of men, but are honorary distinctions
of which even kings and conquerors are proud. Nor was
the Provincial Marine forgotten. Rous, of the Shirley,
was sent to England with dispatches, and was there made
a post-captain in the Royal Navy for his gallantry in
action against the Vigilant. He afterwards enjoyed a
distinguished career and died an admiral. It was in his
ship, the Sutherland, that Wolfe wrote the final orders
for the Battle of the Plains fourteen years after this
first siege of Louisbourg.



Louisbourg was the most thoroughly hated place in all
America. The French government hated it as Napoleon hated
the Peninsula, because it was a drain on their resources.
The British government hated it because it cut into their
oversea communications. The American colonists hated it
because it was a standing menace to their ambitious
future. And every one who had to live in it--no matter
whether he was French or British, European or American,
naval or military, private or official--hated it as only
exiles can.

But perhaps even exiled Frenchmen detested it less heartily
than the disgusted Provincials who formed its garrison
from the summer of 1745 to the spring of the following
year. Warren and Pepperrell were obliged to spend half
their time in seeing court-martial justice done. The
bluejackets fretted for some home port in which to enjoy
their plentiful prize-money. The Provincials fretted for
home at any cost. They were angry at being kept on duty
at sixpence a day after the siege was over. They chafed
against the rules about looting, as well as against what
they thought the unjust difference between the million
sterling that had been captured at sea, under full official
sanction, and the ridiculous collection of odds and ends
that could be stolen on land, at the risk of pains and
penalties. Imagine the rage of the sullen Puritan, even
if he had a sense of humour, when, after hearing a
bluejacket discussing plans for spending a hundred golden
guineas, he had to make such entries in his diary as
these of Private Benjamin Crafts: 'Saturday. Recd a
half-pint of Rum to Drinke ye King's Health. The Lord
look upon Us and prepare us for His Holy Day. Sunday.
Blessed be the Lord that has given us to enjoy another
Sabath. Monday. Last Night I was taken verry Bad. The
Lord be pleased to strengthen my Inner Man. May we all
be Prepared for his Holy Will. Recd part of Plunder--9
Small tooth combs.'

No wonder there was trouble in plenty. The routine of a
small and uncongenial station is part of a regular's
second nature, though a very disagreeable part. But it
maddens militiamen when the stir of active service is
past and they think they are being kept on such duty
overtime. The Massachusetts men had the worst pay and
the best ringleaders, so they were the first to break
out openly. One morning they fell in without their
officers, marched on to the general parade, and threw
their muskets down. This was a dramatic but ineffectual
form of protest, because nearly all the muskets were the
private property of the men themselves, who soon came
back to take their favourite weapons up again. One of
their most zealous chaplains, however, was able to enter
in his diary, perhaps not without a qualm, but certainly
not without a proper pride in New England spirit, the
remark of a naval officer 'that he had thought the New
England men were cowards--But that Now he thought that
if they had a Pick ax and Spade they would digg ye way
to Hell and storm it.'

The only relief from the deadly monotony and loneliness
of Louisbourg was to be found in the bad bargains and
worse entertainment offered by the camp-followers, who
quickly gathered, like a flock of vultures, to pick the
carcass to the bone. There were few pickings to be had,
but these human parasites held on until the bones were
bare. Of course, they gave an inordinate amount of trouble.
They always do. But well-organized armies keep them in
their place; while militiamen can not.

Between the camp-followers and the men Pepperrell was
almost driven mad. He implored Shirley to come and see
things for himself. Shirley came. He arrived at the end
of August accompanied both by his own wife and by Warren's.
He delivered a patriotic speech, in which he did not
stint his praise of what had really been a great and
notable achievement. His peroration called forth some
genuine enthusiasm. It began with a promise to raise the
pay of the Massachusetts contingent by fifteen shillings
a month, and ended with free rum all round and three
cheers for the king. The prospect thereupon brightened
a little. The mutineers kept quiet for several days, and
a few men even agreed to re-enlist until the following
June. Shirley was very much pleased with the immediate
result, and still more pleased with himself. His next
dispatch assured the Duke of Newcastle that nobody else
could have quelled the incipient mutiny so well. Nor was
the boast, in one sense, vain, since nobody else had the
authority to raise the men's pay.

But discontent again became rife when it began to dawn
on the Provincials that they would have to garrison
Louisbourg till the next open season. The unwelcome truth
was that, except for a few raw recruits, no reliefs were
forthcoming from any quarter. The promised regulars had
left Gibraltar so late that they had to be sent to Virginia
for the winter, lest the sudden change to cold and clammy
Louisbourg should put them on the sick list. The two new
regiments, Shirley's and Pepperrell's, which were to be
recruited in the American colonies and form part of the
Imperial Army, could not be raised in time. There even
seemed to be some doubt as to whether they could be raised
at all. The absence of Pepperrell from New England, the
hatred of garrison duty in Louisbourg, and resentment at
seeing some Englishmen commissioned to command Americans,
were three great obstacles in the way. The only other
resource was the colonial militia, whose waifs and strays
alone could be induced to enlist.

Thus, once the ice began to form, the despairing Provincial
garrison saw there could be no escape. The only discharge
was death. What were then known as camp fevers had already
broken out in August. As many as twenty-seven funerals
in a single day passed by the old lime-kiln on the desolate
point beyond the seaward walls of Louisbourg. 'After we
got into the Towne, a sordid indolence or Sloth, for want
of Discipline, induced putrid fevers and dyssentrys,
which at length became contagious, and the people died
like rotten sheep.' Medical men were ignorant and few.
Proper attendance was wholly lacking. But the devotion
of the Puritan chaplains, rivalling that of the early
Jesuits, ran through those awful horrors like a thread
of gold. Here is a typical entry of one day's pastoral
care: 'Prayed at Hospital. Prayed at Citadel. Preached
at Grand Batery. Visited [a long list of names] all verry
Sick. [More names] Dy'd. Am but poorly myself, but able
to keep about.'

No survivor ever forgot the miseries of that dire winter
in cold and clammy Louisbourg. When April brought the
Gibraltar regiments from Virginia, Pepperrell sent in to
Shirley his general report on the three thousand men with
whom he had begun the autumn. Barely one thousand were
fit for duty. Eleven hundred lay sick and suffering in
the ghastly hospital. Eight hundred and ninety lay buried
out on the dreary tongue of land between the lime-pit
and the fog-bound, ice-encumbered sea.

Warren took over the command of all the forces, as he
had been appointed governor of Louisbourg by the king's
commission. Shirley had meanwhile been revolving new
plans, this time for the complete extirpation of the
French in Canada during the present summer of 1746. He
suggested that Warren should be the naval joint commander,
and Warren, of course, was nothing loth.

Massachusetts again rose grandly to the situation. She
voted 3,500 men, with a four pound sterling bounty to
each one of them. New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode
Island followed well. New York and New Jersey did less
in proportion. Maryland did less still. Virginia would
only pass a lukewarm vote for a single hundred men.
Pennsylvania, as usual, refused to do anything at all.
The legislature was under the control of the Quakers,
who, when it came to war, were no better than parasites.
upon the body politic. They never objected to enjoying
the commercial benefits of conquest; any more than they
objected to living on land which could never have been
either won or held without the arms they reprobated. But
their principles forbade them to face either the danger
or expense of war. The honour of the other Pennsylvanians
was, however, nobly saved by a contingent of four hundred,
raised as a purely private venture. Altogether, the new
Provincial army amounted to over 8,000 men.

The French in Canada were thoroughly alarmed. Rumour had
magnified the invading fleet and army till, in July, the
Acadians reported the combined forces, British regulars
included, at somewhere between forty and fifty thousand.
But the alarm proved groundless. The regulars were sent
on an abortive expedition against the coast of France,
while the Duke of Newcastle ordered Shirley to discharge
the 'very expensive' Provincials, who were now in Imperial
pay, 'as cheap as possible.' This was then done, to the
intense disgust of the colonies concerned. New York and
Massachusetts, however, were so loth to give up without
striking a single blow that they raised a small force,
on their own account, to take Crown Point and gain control
of Lake Champlain. [Footnote: An account of this expedition
will be found in Chapter ii of 'The War Chief of the Six
Nations' in this Series.]

Before October came the whole of the colonies were
preparing for a quiet winter, except that it was to be
preceded by the little raid on Crown Point, when, quite
suddenly, astounding news arrived from sea. This was that
the French had sent out a regular armada to retake
Louisbourg and harry the coast to the south. Every ship
brought in further and still more alarming particulars.
The usual exaggerations gained the usual credence. But
the real force, if properly handled and combined, was
dangerous enough. It consisted of fourteen sail of the
line and twenty-one frigates, with transports carrying
over three thousand veteran troops; altogether, about
17,000 men, or more than twice as many as those in the
contingents lately raised for taking Canada.

New York and Massachusetts at once recalled their Crown
Point expeditions. Boston was garrisoned by 8,000 men.
All the provinces did their well-scared best. There was
no danger except along the coast; for there were enough
armed men to have simply mobbed to death any three thousand
Frenchmen who marched into the hostile continent, which
would engulf them if they lost touch with the fleet, and
wear them out if they kept communications open. Those
who knew anything of war knew this perfectly well; and
they more than half suspected that the French force had
been doubled or trebled by the panic-mongers. But the
panic spread, and spread inland, for all that. No British
country had ever been so thoroughly alarmed since England
had watched the Great Armada sailing up the Channel.

The poets and preachers quickly changed their tune. Ames's
Almanac for 1746 had recently edified Bostonians with a
song of triumph over fallen Louisbourg:

Bright Hesperus, the Harbinger of Day,
Smiled gently down on Shirley's prosperous sway,
The Prince of Light rode in his burning car,
To see the overtures of Peace and War
Around the world, and bade his charioteer,
Who marks the periods of each month and year,
Rein in his steeds, and rest upon High Noon
To view our Victory over Cape Brittoon.

But now the Reverend Thomas Prince's litany, rhymed by
a later bard, summed up the gist of all the supplications
that ascended from the Puritans:

O Lord! We would not advise;
But if, in Thy Providence,
A Tempest should arise,
To drive the French fleet hence,
And scatter it far and wide,
Or sink it in the sea,
We should be satisfied,
And Thine the Glory be.

Strange to say, this pious suggestion had been mostly
answered before it had been made. Disaster after disaster
fell upon the doomed French fleet from the very day it
sailed. The admiral was the Duc d'Anville, one of the
illustrious La Rochefoucaulds, whose family name is known
wherever French is read. He was not wanting either in
courage or good sense; but, like his fleet, he had little
experience at sea. The French ships, as usual, were better
than the British. But the French themselves were a nation
of landsmen. They had no great class of seamen to draw
upon at will, a fact which made an average French crew
inferior to an average British one. This was bad enough.
But the most important point of all was that their fleets
were still worse than their single ships. The British
always had fleets at sea, constantly engaged in combined
manoeuvres. The French had not; and, in face of the
British command of the sea, they could not have them.
The French harbours were watched so closely that the
French fleets were often attacked and defeated before
they had begun to learn how to work together. Consequently,
they found it still harder to unite two different fleets
against their almost ubiquitous enemy.

D'Anville's problem was insoluble from the start, Four
large men-of-war from the West Indies were to join him
at Chibucto Bay, now the harbour of Halifax, under Admiral
Conflans, the same who was defeated by Hawke in Quiberon
Bay thirteen years later, on the very day that Wolfe was
buried. Each contributory part of the great French naval
plan failed in the working out. D'Anville's command was
a collection of ships, not a co-ordinated fleet. The
French dockyards had been neglected; so some of the ships
were late, which made it impossible to practise manoeuvres
before sailing for the front. Then, in the bungling hurry
of fitting out, the hulls of several vessels were left
foul, which made them dull sailers; while nearly all the
holds were left unscoured, which, of course, helped to
propagate the fevers, scurvy, plague, and pestilence
brought on by bad food badly stowed. Nor was this all.
Officers who had put in so little sea time with working
fleets were naturally slack and inclined to be discontented.
The fact that they were under sealed orders, which had
been communicated only to d'Anville, roused their suspicions
while his weakness in telling them they were bound for
Louisbourg almost produced a mutiny.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest