A History of Nova Scotia Page

Book #1: Acadia.TOC
Part 4, "First Siege of Louisbourg (1745)"TOC
Chapter. 14, "The English Garrison at Louisbourg."

Rev. Samuel Moody was a friend and neighbour of Pepperrell's, indeed he was related to Pepperrell's wife. Notwithstanding his advanced years, 70, Moody went off to Louisbourg with Pepperrell.1 Moody was quite a character. Earlier on in life he had attended Harvard (1697) and it was there that he experienced a conversion; he became a minister of the Congregational Church. Shortly thereafter, he elected to go off to the western borders of the present day State of Maine, where he helped his parishioners fight the French inspired Indians. "Although he never failed in the performance of compassionate acts on behalf of the unfortunate, he nevertheless was a man of violent temper ..."; he was said to be "a powerful preacher."2 Moody, it would seem, also had a taste for fighting, at least fighting "papists." He volunteered to be the chaplain to an earlier expedition to Nova Scotia, Colonel John March's 1707 campaign. Thirty-eight years later, in 1745, at Louisbourg, we would have seen Rev. Moody, once again; it gave the campaign "the character of a crusade."3

"... when he [Moody] boarded the transport at Boston he seized an axe and exclaimed, 'The sword of the Lord and of Gideon,' predicting that Louisbourg would be taken and he would cut down the objects of papal worship. ... It is said that following the siege Moody did attack the alter and the images in the French church with his axe."4
The civil authorities sat reverently in the pews before the altar as Rev. Moody gave his fiery sermon in the axed chapel; Warren was undoubtedly there, likely next to Pepperrell and the other leaders of the expedition; all bedecked in their finest attire. Warren was particularly thoughtful as the old preacher raved on; he had thoughts of treasure on his mind, but I shall come to that shortly. Pepperrell had things on his mind, too. He and Shirley had promised the New Englanders that they could return home after Louisbourg was taken. This was a rash promise, one that was to be repeated to the men on a number of occasions in the coming months as they showed their feelings, heightened, as they were, by the discomforts of Louisbourg and thoughts of their needy families back in New England. From the poor fighting soldier's viewpoint things were unfair. Here they were being told to be good and to take nothing (to pillage was forbidden); to continue to work and undo their siege work (filling up the trenches): and, at the same time, to see the officers, especially the naval officers, fill up their trunks with booty.5

The French Population Deported:
The first order of business for the victors was to expel the vanquished: Louisbourg had to be evacuated of its French population.
6 The French administrators and soldiers, by the terms of the capitulation, were to be transported back to France. As for the rest, just so many fifth-columnists: they had to go too, somewhere, anywhere; but away from Louisbourg as there was a continuing fear that a French military force might show up at any moment, either by land or by sea, or by both.

The 40 gun Launceston (see a listing of Warren's ships) was stripped of all but two of her guns,7 and extra cabins were built for the French officers and their families. As Warren reported, the Launceston "with some small transports belonging to the colonies, left Louisbourg on July 2nd (o.s.) to "carry to France about 1,500 men, women and children." Among the 1,500 was the "the governor, intendant, most of the chief officers and regular troops."8 The Lark was to sail in company with this fleet headed out across the Atlantic and to continue on with them until they were well off shore, as Warren expressed it, "least they should presume to go to Canada, of which they seem to be very desirous."9

Another 400 French persons, less important types, were loaded on smaller auxiliary vessels and sent off, in the company of the Hector and the Eltham (Philip Durrell, captain) to Boston. It was anticipated that the Boston authorities would then further see to their return to France.10 Warren did not want the Hector and the Eltham to get too far away from Louisbourg, but felt obliged to employ them to convoy the "victualers" coming up from Boston.11

And though approximately 1,900 French were thus transported, there was left 5,000 "peasants." Warren reports:

"... I believe we have near 5,000 yet we shall not be able to transport this fall. Many of the peasants have offered to take the oath of allegiance to his Majesty. As they will be useful in getting in wood and other necessaries for the garrison, the general and I propose to tender the oath to such as we can not transport. We are determined by no means to let them remain here longer than until vessels can be procured to transport them. We see the ill effects of a thing of this nature at Annapolis, and till the French are transported from thence, or till we have possession of Canada, the colony of Nova Scotia will be continually alarmed." 12
I do not believe Warren's estimate of 5,000 is an estimate of the number of those just to be found at Louisbourg; but, rather, the number of Frenchmen to be found throughout all of Ile Royal and Ile St. Jean (1,000 at Ile St. Jean). Warren in a despatch dated November 23rd makes reference to approximately 400 men, women and children who were required to move inside the fort, so to better keep an eye on them.13 What ever the number might be, and it could not have exceeded a couple of hundred, there was indeed a number of French who were to stay over that first winter with the New Englanders; and, that number was to increase as Warren brought in his French prizes. A number of these new arrivals -- and I am not sure of the holding facilities -- were treated as prisoners. The contemporary, soldier, journalists made a number of references to how English search parties were sent out to gather up escaped prisoners.14

Next in importance to evacuating the French was that of getting Louisbourg defences back up and to eliminate the external offensive works which the New Englanders had built during the course of the siege. The fear which Warren and Pepperrell had right along, continued: Canadian land forces might appear from the west; and, from the east, a naval force from France. Within two weeks, by June the 28th, the sick and the stores were moved into the city.15 Slowly, through the summer, Louisbourg was to arise, phenix like, back into its defensive posture; but, now, into its English cycle: the Frenchmen gone and Englishmen there where their enemy had lodged.16 Debris was being cleared, holes patched and guns remounted. Outside of the walls, within weeks, siege trenches had been filled in and all provisions, munitions, and armament locked away securely within the walls. This was work for Pepperrell's soldiers; Warren had another kind of work for his sailors.

Warren's Prizes:
At the first of the year, when he was wintering over in the West Indies, as
we have seen, Warren had a chore convincing his captains that they should undertake a northern cruise. They were of the view that England would be better served if the ships of the fleet stuck to their regular routes which included a continuing presence in the West Indies. But Warren was the senior man and his orders were broad enough to allow him to take part of his fleet to Louisbourg to assist the New Englanders in their attack against Louisbourg. The success of this combined military operation fully vindicated him, and, as we will see, earned him a promotion to that of a Rear Admiral. However, Peter Warren was most unlikely to have adopted such a course without some ulterior purpose. This purpose we see unfold in a marvelous fashion within days after the capitulation of Louisbourg.

The French flag was left to fly over the ramparts of Louisbourg and the English men-of-war were to sport French colours.17 And thus it was, that a number of French captains were in for a rude awakening as they made their run into the harbour of Louisbourg. One was the captain of the Notre Dame de la Déliverance. She no sooner laid out her ground gear when to the amazement of her captain and crew she was boarded by an armed party of the British navy; they were immediately advised that they were now prisoners of war.18 For months, Warren and his naval men continued to play their net, and, like so many deadly spiders, pounced on the unsuspecting French merchantmen.19 Due to the system of prize money in existence back in those days, Warren was to make his fortune at Louisbourg.20

The Vigilant was Warren's first prize that he took at Louisbourg; it had aboard 1,454 ounces of silver plate, 125 gallons of brandy, and 2,905 of wine.21 The Vigilant was taken on May 19th. Prior to that on May the 2nd, the Marie de grace from Brest was taken.22 After the French gave up Louisbourg and Warren's trap was fully set, a number of merchant vessels were to fall in, all carrying provisions for Louisbourg, which, while reaching their destination, were now to be consumed by Englishmen.23 As important as these merchant vessels and their cargoes were, however, there was another species of merchantmen which Warren knew might show up in his net. The first of these was to show up on June the 23rd, the Charmante.

Louisbourg at this time was a rendezvous point for the East India Ships which were making there way back to France. They make their way there after many months at sea, sailing around Cape Horn and catching the prevailing winds up the eastern coast of the Americas. At Louisbourg they expected to be convoyed home with the protection of French men-of-war. The Charmante was the first of the "French India Ships" which Warren was to get his hands on. She came to him on June 23rd. She was a 500 ton vessel and had 28 guns and 99 men. The Charmante had in her holds, 100,200 pieces of eight.24 The next "French India Ship" taken, "with little effort," during the later part of July, was the Héron (24 guns; 500 tons; 118 men) she had 250,847 lbs of pepper aboard.25 But the richest catch of all, and, the one for which Peter Warren was to immeasurably increase his fame and fortune was Notre Dame de la Déliverance "with a cargo of bullion, cocoa, Peruvian wool and quinine." The Chester and the Sunderland brought her in. She was from "Lima in the South Seas, for which place she sailed from Cadiz; she apparently had been making her rounds since 1741; and, she was loaded. She had in her holds, 972,000 pieces of eight, 13,278 gold double doubloons, 291 lbs. of virgin silver, 65 lbs. in gold bars."26

The English navy, with its successful captures, was to bring great joy to all, even those on land, who, taking a moment out, and while leaning on their pickaxes and shovels, would witness a proud and patriotic moment and give out with a cheer as these captured French vessels were towed in. But there was to be nothing in it for the New Englanders. While they went about cleaning up Louisbourg the navy boys were, -- well, just cleaning up. It didn't take long for some very serious unrest to spread among those on shore. "Hey! It was us that thought this business up. We came to Louisbourg and did the fighting. We're denied our right to plunder and pillage; hell, we have to stand guard and take care of the Frenchies and their stuff. Nothing in it for us; we just do the dirty work: -- hauling stuff around; repairing walls; cleaning out the shit; wrestling with cannon, getting them from here to there; and, nothing but slop for food and wet tents to crawl into.27 And there -- Look! These navy guys, these 'Brits' filling their pockets with gold. Now! -- There's something wrong with this. And, besides we have families to get back to; and, there's a harvest to be gotten in. We were promised. We were ..."28 Well, the mumbles and grumbles, by September, as we will see, turned into loud and distinct signs of insubordination. These first signs of an uprising, however, subsided, as the troops were somewhat diluted with fresh men. On July, 5th, "There came in another transport of Men from New England." This was Col. John Choate with two companies of his 8th Mass. Reg't. Also, on July, 13th, certain of the New England men were embarked on Choate's transports so to be returned to their homes; mostly, I suppose, the sick and those with the best excuses.29

Governor Shirley's Arrival:
For the balance of July and for the month of August matters seem to have settled down. The Good summer weather I am sure contributed to the ease. There was some fishing and hunting for the boys to do, and, more generally, there was expected work to be done.
30 Directly, Louisbourg had been taken, "orders had gone out to New England for the immediate supply of great quantities of window panes, pine and oak boards and planks, spikes and nails, bricks and mortar, and every sort of hand tool."31 Supplies and fresh men came in; and all were flush with victory.

On August 16th, there was to be a timely distraction. Just at dusk, in came in the 40 gun man-of-war, Hector, which had made a special run down to Boston in order to carry His Excellency, Governor Shirley -- and his Lady, the Commodore's Lady, and many other gentlemen, and women etc." And there she was, the Hector all bedecked out and gleaming in the setting sun, there with her equally bedecked sisters, there before the prize of Louisbourg, safely in her harbour. She was to stir early the following morning:

"8 o'clock A.M.: His Excellency [Governor Shirley] came ashore who was received with great respect and great tokens of joy being saluted by the men-of-war, 17 cannon from Superb and 17 from the Hector. The whole army was called to attend upon his excellency while he was walking through the street up to his house; and as soon as he had set his feet upon Louisbourg the cannons in the city were discharged. With a great deal of drumming, trumpeting and other instruments of music was this day filled up. ...
"... the whole army was called together and His Excellency made an excellent speech both to officers and soldiers but all insufficient to make 'em really willing and contented to tarry all winter. He gave the soldiers two hogsheads of rhum to drink his majesty's health. After which he with the General and sundry other gentlemen walked all round upon the wall of the city while the ensigns with their colours were placed at each angle of the wall and all the soldiers in proportion who fired valleys as they passed along."
Another witness to the event reports that at the citadel "the General had delivered to him after a short speech in the presence of the commodore the keys of the fort. The Commodore made a speech in praise of the officers and soldiers."33 And another, "A very pleasant day. This day His Excellency went to see the Grand Battery which fired seventeen cannon at his arrival ... and the same at his departure ..."34

September At Louisbourg:
Much of Louisbourg, though she was to wear her scars of the siege for months yet, was, on her surface quite presentable, due, no doubt, to the preparations for a proper reception of Governor Shirley and the Ladies. On September the 13th a schooner came in with intelligence. Nothing is heard of the French squadron; the "Acadians were quiet."
35 Joseph Richardson had been sent to Annapolis to give them information and to continue on and "cruize the Bay of Fundy for intelligence and return the latter end of the month."36 On September 23rd, Capt. John Rous arrived in "19 days from England."37 The news is that England was all astir and celebrating the capture of Louisbourg. It is with the arrival of Rous that the news is heard that Warren is to be made Rear Admiral of the Blue and Pepperrell, a baronet. On September 24th, Colonel Gorham returned from Bay Vert (map just above #6 on the Northumberland side of the isthmus.), "every thing quiet at Nova Scotia."38 On September, 30th: "Rous sailed upon a cruise to St. Lawrence River to get what intelligence he could."39 The rumours of a French fleet from France, had been circulating since the New Englanders had first arrived in the spring.40 By September, Warren was to know more, for, earlier on in the month, a vessel from Carolina loaded for London hauled into Louisbourg and handed off the intelligence that she had fallen in, three weeks before, with a French squadron consisting of seven men-of-war.41 This meeting occurred at sea "about 150 leagues to the eastward of Newfoundland banks." The French squadron was bound for Louisbourg and captured this Carolina vessel; but she was released and directed to go to Louisbourg, presumably, to advise that this French naval force was descending. The New Englanders now took a defensive position and there could now be seen English eyes peering out from the walls just as French eyes had been doing but three months earlier; an invasion fleet might anytime emerge, ghost-like, through the fog. Men on the ramparts seem to think they just spotted something; but, no. Fishing vessels come into harbour with reports that maybe they saw something? Everyone was on edge.42

Early autumn is a time, when, in the northern parts, all of nature stirs seemingly giving thought to getting ready for winter's assault. Men, more then than now, were once again aroused with their annual sense of unease: things had to be put right around the farm and there was a harvest to be gotten in. The New England men at Louisbourg in September of 1745, though far from home, were to feel this unease. The complaints, first registered in July, were now to be heard again. They had not signed on for garrison duty. They all wanted to go home; and, as the season advanced, despite promises, it seemed plain that no relief by way of regular British soldiers was going to be seen at Louisbourg, at least not that year. There was, by mid September, a "great tendency to general mutiny amongst the soldiers."43 The authorities at Louisbourg -- and during September at Louisbourg could be found Governor Shirley, General Pepperrell, and Admiral Warren44 -- knew they had a most serious problem on their hands. Louisbourg by feat of arms was captured for the King of England; but, how was she to be held if there were to be no, or few men to hold her? First they would try, as all administrators have done down through history, staged ceremonies. What was necessary was an outward rite or observance, solemn acts in accordance to prescribed form, all accompanied with appropriate solemnity. The military is very good at this. It was time to get the royal representatives back on display so as to promote a suitable amount of reverence and veneration. On the 17th, of September, we see, where, "The Governor and Commodore and their Ladies and other great men and ladies went to the Grand Battery and the Island Battery" and there was to be heard across the waters and echoing off the walls a 17 gun salute from each battery.45 The pomp and ceremony had an immediate effect.46 Next, came the political promises. On September 18th there was a "Beat to arms" and speeches were made. The Governor made a speech to each regiment told them that he had sent to New York and Philadelphia for clothing, and that their wages should be eight pounds a month, and that, etc., etc.47 The speech had a good effect; and, afterwards, to the gathered throng, "the Governor and Commodore each gave 2 hogsheads of rum."48 These celebrations, together with the increasing confidence, that, with the advancing season, the French would not likely be launching a counter attack, put the attitude and spirit of the English garrison on a different plain. They were going to be there until spring and they might as well make the best of it.49

Sickness and Death At Louisbourg:
September turns into October and the countryside gives its blazing goodbye and then the weeds begin to rot and leaves begin to fly. The men at first, it seems, ate well,
50 but as dull November took hold it must have been realized that they were short of that which was necessary to get them through the winter, now, just before them. I am not at all clear why this shortage was to occur, it certainly made itself felt in a deadly fashion before spring.51 Late in the summer or early fall of 1745, Mascarene had seen to the delivery of livestock; it meant immediate good eating, I imagine, though, that much of it was to be salted down.52 These fresh provisions from Acadia were but a mere supplement to the provisions that flowed into Louisbourg on account of Warren's activities. We have already dealt with Warren's prizes, most of which was shipped out and sold with the proceeds used to fatten the bank accounts of the privileged. The record discloses that captured French ships had aboard: flour, butter, salt, pork (10 tons of it, presumably salted), vinegar, oil; and, too: soap, vinegar, oil and cloth; and kegs and kegs of brandy and wine. Given the dreadful events to be described, one can only but wonder what happened to all this stuff. And, remember too, that New England ships, along with men and building supplies, had to have brought up food stuffs from Boston. Louisbourg itself, or rather its surrounding waters, would also give up a wealth of food (the primary purpose of Louisbourg's being, after all, to prosecute the fishing industry). We also see from the records that winter fuel was laid in.53 Why was it that such a terrible winter was to be spent by these men from New England; within months, hundreds and hundreds were buried at Louisbourg.

Better than half of the garrison was to die, slowly from diseases exacerbated by exposure to the bitter elements of that winter, 1745/46, at Louisbourg. It was likely due to an epidemic that swept through the population at Louisbourg. Disease produced by causes which we now might only guess at. A lack of good food, a lack of dry and warm accommodations might be listed; and, the sick, especially where there is a preponderance of them, cannot fend for themselves. Warren and Pepperrell were to take honours and praise for their leadership, in the taking of Louisbourg; but can they take praise for seeing the men through the winter; they were both there, but their presence made little difference. Maybe there was nothing to be done about it. The right materials and the right provisions were needed to be brought in from England (impossible) and from New England (more likely.) These were hard times; these were times of war; these were times when privateers lurked about ready to capture a ship and take her provisions. And, yet, I am not convinced that the tragedy of Louisbourg, not of the French, but of the English, might have been avoided and its hard to believe it had much to do with lack of provisions.

As early as April, when the New Englanders landed at Canso, "Men begin to sicken."54 We see this trend continue throughout the first month of the siege.55 With the better weather of the summer months one doesn't see much reference to sickness at Louisbourg. By September, it seems to take hold again.56 As the fall of the year progresses we see a real progression of disease and men drop like flies. A reading of Rev. Williams' diary, brings the deadly results out in stark relief. Here is shown the disorder, sickness and death that prevailed at Louisbourg, post capitulation. It's as if the French knew and feared the forthcoming miseries, enough to hand over Louisbourg so that they (the French) could go home to the comforts of France and to leave the conquering heroes to the ravages of the disease that was to take hold. Herein, following, I set forth but a sampling of the entries of Rev. Williams' diary, entries, I should remind the reader, made before the worst of it was to arrive that dreadful winter:

July 26th:
I passed by the Commodore's he invited me in to drink - a dish of coffee - I saw the French merchant, and his daughter, that came from the Indies - who were gay and easy.
July 27th:
... vessels from New England with live stock as cattle - sheep - fowls - but I don't see how the poor people - are able to buy - I mean the soldiers who want such things very much. -
July 29th:
... this afternoon there was an unhappy fray in the city - one of the captains of the men of war - caned a soldier who - struck the captain; again - a great tumult was occasioned - swords were drawn - but no life lost - but great uneasiness, is caused.
July 30th:
... a Court Martial, has been held - I know not what has been done - I wish there was more order.
August 10th:
... this day one Stanley the man that took the sheets from the dead corps [July 29th] was whipped at the parade, at the head of the army. 39 lashes were given to him.
August 29th:
Dined at [Ezekiel] Gilmans - with some French gentle folks - who were modest - and handsome - after diner visited Serg't Smead, and Mr. Dodgett - walked the walls - Joseph Crowell died this afternoon.
September 4th:
Visited Mr. [Samuel] Windslow - who is very sick, and prayed with him at his brothers [William], the commissary.
September 7th:
This day Mr. Samuel Windslow dies - as did one Tarbell ...
September 11th:
Went to the Generals - and found dear Mr. Bullman dead [Alexander Bullman, Pepperrell's personal physician] ... last night one Lt. Bullock ... died as did one Thomas ... and Captain Eastman's Negro, London, died this morning, thus the dead are multiplying. One of Captain Warner's men whose name was Procter died he had tended at the hospital. Yesterday one of Captain's Baglies men died ... One Sergeant Millet of Captain' Byles' company was buried - that died last night.
October 25th:
Went to dine with the Admiral again - afternoon - went and prayed - at the house where Captain John Baker lived - where they were very sick - attended - the citadel prayers - this day four men buried at the Grand Battery - Lt. Chaplins men and four more ...
November 10th:
... this day was buried - one Ebenezer Stevens and Amos Hovey both of Colonel Molton's company. and one, Mudget, of Captain Light's company of New Hampshire; and one, Slate, an Indian of Colonel Broadstreet's company - and a Lt. ... of Captain Goldthwait's company.
Williams, himself, was to become sick. We see from one of his last entries in his Louisbourg Journal, where, on November 29th, 1745, he "went in chair - covered" aboard the Massachusetts frigate; so ill he was (a high fever) that he made no account of his voyage back to Boston.58 But Williams was one of the lucky ones; he got out of Louisbourg, alive. By June, 1746, a great number of New Englanders, variously estimated between 400 and 2,000, were buried at Louisbourg.

The weather at Louisbourg, of which I make a separate comment, also contributed to the increasing sickness; or, maybe I should say, not so much the weather but the inattentiveness of their leaders and of the colonial soldiers themselves in keeping out, or clear of the worst of it through proper clothing, footwear and shelter. Many of the men caught their first chill upon their arrival at Louisbourg. On wading, some up to their waists, through the cold Atlantic waters at the end of April they were then "obliged when their Labour was over to lay on the Cold Ground in their Wet Cloaths under no better Covering than some Boughs laid together - the nights exceeding cold and foggy ..."59 As May advanced we see other entries: "Very cold and has snowed for several hours together."60 And, by May 11th we read, "The variety of fatigues and the unwholesomeness of the climate with the poor accommodations, etc. -- were hard for the men at last who were taken down in great numbers with fever and fluxes -- so that at some times near 1500 were uncapable of duty."61 Another, on May 11th, "The variety of fatigues and the unwholesomeness of the climate with the poor accommodations, etc. -- were hard for the men at last who were taken down in great numbers with fever and fluxes -- so that at some times near 1500 were uncapable of duty."62 And Seth Pomeroy writes in his diary on May 31st: "People many of them are ill -- the reasons I think are plain and the ground is cold and wet the water much of it is in low marsh ground of a reddish colour and stagnated and the people no beds to lie on nor tents to keep out the fogs and dew. Too, our provisions is chiefly pork and bread without sauce, except a small matter of beans and pease. [The overall effect is to] set the people into fluxes."63

The diet of the common soldier was neglected, too. They were, it seems, left to generally fend for themselves.64 And, as we might now all understand from our review: liquor flowed profusely. It's consumption, as is usually the case, if not controlled65 -- and there didn't seem to be any direction from the top in this regard -- will do considerable harm to the body and the spirit of a man. Important personal duties were neglected and the gates for the entry of sickness and disease were thrown open. Governor Charles Knowles, on his arrival at Louisbourg in the spring of 1746 to take up his duties as the English governor of Louisbourg was to find the place, as expressed in a letter to the Duke of Newcastle, in a "confused, dirty, beastly condition." Disparaging the New Englanders (a regular sort of thing to do for British officers) Knowles continues: "they not only pulled down an end of the house in which they lived to [use as fuel], but even buried their dead under the floors and did their filth in the other corners of the house, rather than go out of doors in the cold."

By the end of November, 1745, the number of New Englanders manning the garrison amounted to 2,000. A number had gone home, some replacements had come up.66 Warren reported that of the 2,000 "near a third of them sick."67 It was to get worse!

The wind blew and the snow piled up against the walls of the fort. From the chimneys, poking up from within, could be seen curls of smoke emanating from fires which now had to be continually tended.68 If you had examined the top of the walls carefully one might see, at the right time, some movement as blanketed men replaced those in the guard houses perched here and there. Off, on the other side of the frozen harbour, could be seen another ribbon of smoke coming from a single fire about which a small number of men in rags huddled in a barrack of miserable description within the white banked cannonless walls of the Royal Battery.69 In the far background, at the northeast harbour, could be seen the Chester and the Vigilant now stationary and frozen in.70 By January 18th, 1746, 400 of the 2,000 were buried in grave yards about Louisbourg and 1,100 were sick. There was no escape; there was nothing to be done for these dying men but to hang on, assisted only by their dreams of home and of an early spring.

Some 480 Provincial soldiers had died of disease through the winter; quadruple the toll of the battle.71 As one said, "No survivor ever forgot the miseries of that dire winter in cold and clammy Louisbourg."72 With the warming sun of March and April, winter was to lose its grip on Louisbourg. It had been full of sick and starving men and the melting snows revealed Louisbourg to be a massive midden. Those who had survived the winter could not do much more than stand periodic guard; they wait; they prayed. What was necessary was for the ice to disappear from the harbour and the approaches: the sun did its business slowly. Men regularly mounted the walls and squinted at the sea horizon, "Is that a sail?"

Two regiments were to come from Gibraltar. It was intended that these regular British troops, should be transported directly to Louisbourg and so to relieve the weary New Englanders. It was initially promised that they would be there in the fall of the year; but, the delay in getting the escort and transport ships set at Gibraltar, and, above all, because of the exigencies of ocean travel by wind driven ships, they were delayed in their trip across the broad Atlantic. Not able to buck the autumn "northeasterlies," the transports put in at Virginia and New York, and there the Gibraltar troops wintered over. The following spring, on the 21st of April, 1746, troops, 1219 in number, were to disembark. They were of the 29th Foot (Fuller's) and the 56th Foot (Warburton's) under the command of Lt.-Col. Peregrine Thomas Hopson and Lt.-Col. John Horsman respectively.73 In addition, somewhere near a 1,000 colonial volunteers raised back in Massachusetts by Pepperrell and Shirley, also arrived at this time. As of June 2nd, 1746 there were 2524 at Louisbourg.74

On July 4th, 1745, eleven transports carried
Governor Duchambon and his French followers out of Louisbourg. Duchambon had lost Louisbourg: this expensive edifice, built to serve the French king and his empire; this chessman, critical to the protection of the Laurentian throat of French North America. The English, with its powerful navy, could now cut French lines, both of supply and command; choke off New France, which by this time, the mid-eighteenth century, through her occupation of forts in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, had extended French influence deep within the North American continent and stood as a French fence restricting the English from expanding into the broad west. Duchambon had some explaining to do. Duchambon filed his report:75

"... I must tell His Majesty truthfully that all the enemy's batteries - mortar and cannon were firing constantly and had been since the day they were constructed. The same was true of the musket fire from the Francoeur battery. All the houses in the town were demolished, riddled with holes, and not fit for habitation. The flank of the Bastion du Roy was destroyed, as were the wooden embrasures which we had improvised."76
It would not seem, in the loss of Louisbourg, that the French authorities much took into account Duchambon's irresolution, for he "was exempted from surrendering the fortress on military grounds alone ..." It was thought that "the outcome of the siege was critically influenced by forces outside his control. Faults in fortification design, poor garrison morale, limited artillery and munitions, [and] the ministry of marine's failure to realize the full danger of an Anglo-American attack" until it was too late: these were the factors which accounted for the loss of Louisbourg to the Anglo-American forces.77 The 65 year old Duchambon was simply pensioned off.

What happened to Shirley, Pepperrell and Warren? Well, Shirley returned to his gubernatorial duties (Massachusetts). In 1749, the British, taking advantage of his knowledge of America, appointed Shirley as their representative on the Boundaries Commission which meant that he was to spend time in France (it was there, Lady Frances having died in 1746, that Shirley married his landlord's young daughter, a Roman catholic, yet!). In 1753, he returned to his position as the Governor of Massachusetts, but did not last long; in 1756, he was recalled to England. Eventually, proving himself a bit of an embarrassment to everybody, he was shipped off to the Bahamas, as its governor; he died there in 1771. As for Pepperrell, well he was knighted. Sir William retired to live the life of a gentlemen on his estate at Kittery (now, the State of Maine, close on to the border with New Hampshire). Pepperrell, for a generation of New Englanders, was the only real American military hero that they had ever known; until the American Revolution came along, which, of course, produced numerous heros and a foundation upon which the American military legend was built. Warren: On September 25th, Warren was made an Admiral of the Blue, the news of which was greeted by the saluting guns of his ships stationed in the harbour of Louisbourg. He was made the first governor of Cape Breton; but he did not want to stay, and soon, was with Shirley at Boston planing for its defence against a French attack which was expected to unfold in 1746. With the D'Anville disaster, which resulted in the scattering of dead and sick French soldiers on the shores of Chebucto (now Halifax), an event with which I shall deal in the next part, and with the passing of the French scare of 1746, Warren sailed for England and was soon, once again, on active sea duty. He was to team up with his old boss, once again, Admiral George Anson; and the both of them went off to make history in the battle of Cape Finisterre (1747) (a place located off the northeastern corner of Spain). From it, Warren was to sail home, a hero, once again; he was made a knight companion of the Order of the Bath and promoted to vice-admiral. With the coming of peace, in 1748, Warren turned his attention to politics and philanthropy. He died suddenly at Dublin and "buried in Ireland in the parish of his birth."

I end this piece with a quote from James Hannay: If such a deed -- "a band of untrained artisans and husbandmen, commanded by a merchant, should capture a fortress that it had taken thirty years to build" was to have occurred in Greece 2,000 years ago, it would have been made "the theme of innumerable commentaries, the details ... would have been taught to the children in the schools generation after generation, great statesmen would have written pamphlets on the subject, and great poets would have wedded it to immortal verse."78 However, after a brief celebration, this victory, as a historical matter, was tossed aside as "a fluke." The English considered that Louisbourg was a worthless card, or so it seems, for they readily gave it back to the French in 1748, by the terms of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. The colonies were not to forget that the English authorities gave so little regard to their great feat of arms: they bled for the cause of Britain at Louisbourg and close on to 2,000 of their men were to die there; 28 years later they would bleed again in another cause, in the cause of freedom and the American Revolution, the roots of which can most certainly be traced back to the shores and bogs of Louisbourg.


[NEXT: ACADIA: Part 5 - The Intermission: 1746-1749.]

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