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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada

Letter of an Inhabitant of Louisbourg Containing a History Exact and
Circumstantial of the Taking of Cape Breton By the English

Lettre d'un Habitant de Louisbourg, Contenant une Relation Éxacte et
Circonstanciée de la Prise de L'Isle-Royale, par les Anglais

Quebec, Published by William the Sincere at the Sign of Truth, MDCCXLV

Quebec: Chez Guillaume Le Sincere à l'Image de la Vérité

[© Parks Canada/Parcs Canada: Based on the Fortress of Louisbourg Rare Books 62-125 and 84-1379:  George Wrong, (ed.),
The Anonymous Lettre d'Un Habitant De Louisbourg (Cape Breton)
Containing a narrative by an eye-witness of the siege in 1745,
edited with an English Translation (Toronto: Warwick Bro's and Rutter, 1897 and Toronto: William Briggs, 1897)]

[The following selection was transcribed from Wrong's Book. In particular, it does not include the original French known as: "Lettre d'un Habitant de Louisbourg, Contenant une Relation Éxacte et Circonstanciée de la Prise de L'Isle-Royale, par les Anglais."]


Letter of an Inhabitant of Louisbourg Containing a History Exact and
Circumstantial of the Taking of Cape Breton By the English



This letter having fallen into my hands, I have thought it a duty to print it because of the service which it ought to accomplish for the other Colonies which have the same abuses. When the Court learns the truths contained in the letter which I now publish it will, doubtless, put their affairs in order and save other establishments, not less useful to the French than the one which the English have just seized, from meeting with a similar fate. It is to be feared that unhoped for success will lead the English on to further ventures. Already the trade which makes France so prosperous has suffered much ; renewed losses would ruin it utterly. What more powerful motive could we have to weigh all these things ? It is this that has led me to have no hesitation in printing this truthful letter. Some persons may take offence because their reputation or that of their relatives is not spared. But why did they not discharge their trust better ? The justice due to those who know how to fulfil their duty would then have been rendered to them.



I thank you, Sir and very dear friend, for the interest you take in the misfortune which has happened to me. If it had come upon myself alone I should feel it much less. I have not so much to complain of as have a multitude of miserable people, stripped of everything and without resources, who will be obliged to beg for a living if the Court does not provide for them, - sad results of a war in which we appear to be the only unfortunates! The first news of the conquests of  our August Monarch* which we learn as we disembark are in truth wel1 fitted to fil1 the whole kingdom with pure and ecstatic joy. But how can we share it without alloy, over-whelmed as we are with the most terrible reverses and despoiled

*The French victory of Fontenoy, on May 11th, 1745, and the subsequent capture of Tournay, Ghent, Bruges and other places. - Ed.

of the possessions which were the fruit of many years' labour ? We are unfortunate in this respect, that the English, who up to present time have not been able to succeed against the French, have made a beginning with us. May our loss mark the only progress which they will make this year ! It is not the least vexation felt by subjects as zealous as we are.

The first cause of our misfortune is, no doubt, the weakness of our wretched colony, but one cannot help admitting that the numerous mistakes which were made may have contributed as much or more. I recommend you to keep secret what I am going to unveil to you ; in any case I beg you at least not to reveal my name. It is often unsafe to tell the truth, and especially with the artless candour which will guide my pen. For a long time we were not unaware that a secret enterprise against us was in preparation in New England. [1] Every

[1] What is called New England is a country of Southern America (sic). It is bounded on the north by New France, on the south by New York or the New Netherlands, on the east by the North Sea or the ocean. The aborigines of New England are the Almouchiquois. Boston is the capital.

day we were in receipt of information that they were arming along the whole coast, and we were certain that this could only mean some design upon Cape Breton.* There was then abundant time to take measures for protection against the threatened danger; something was done, but not all that should have been.

* The author uses invariably the French name, Isle Royale.- Ed.

Our situation, on the verge of a pressing danger, was indicated to the Court by what happened regarding the vessels Ardent and Caribou. We were seeking prompt succour. Even if we had not asked for this, our weakness, obvious and faithfully explained to the Minister, ought to have procured it for us. Our colony was sufficiently important ; without it Canada is exposed and difficult to hold.

The two ships of war of which I have just spoken ought to be blamed in the first instance. If their commanders would have consented to aid in an easy expedition against Acadia we should have ruined the English in that country and made it impossible for them to plan the project which they have accomplished. But an abuse prevails in the Navy of France against which it is difficult to protest too much, though the protests are always in vain. Most of the officers of the King's ships, induced by the love of gain, carry on trade operations, although this is forbidden by the Ordinances of His Majesty. It is impossible to conceive how greatly commerce suffers from this, nor does the service gain anything. Presumably, all this is unknown to the Minister, who has only the glory of his master in view ; persons who are near him, however, have quite different motives, for a share in this base traffic gives them a pretext for self-justification and for concealing it from him.

It was only necessary to appear before this English colony, the neighbour of our unhappy island, and to land a few men. But, while this was being done, the trade ventures would have been neglected and the general welfare, that of the State, would have interfered with individual interests, [2] and this would have been contrary to received usage in a corps which, far from working to ruin the merchants, ought to protect them. Forgive these strong expressions ; although harsh they are true.

[2] This example has become contagious in all our colonies, where the generals, far from protecting commerce, are the first to injure it. They enrich themselves chiefly in the foreign trade which is so injurious to that of the subjects of the King. I speak here as an eye witness.

In place of this expedition, which would have protected us from a misfortune that the State ought to feel no less than we, they amused themselves by wasting time in useless disputes. These resulted on the part of the captains of the royal ships (MM. Maichin and de la Sauzai) in persistence in their refusal and on that of our Governor (M. du Quesnel) in a complaint against their conduct, which indeed it would not be easy to justify.

In seizing Acadia we should have freed ourselves from the menace of enemies dangerously near and destroyed a considerable portion of the facilities which they made use of against us. The naval commanders argued that they had not the orders of the Court, - as if it was necessary for all the subjects of the King to have special orders before keeping his enemies from doing him injury, when it was so easy to take from them the means. M. du Quesnel could not induce them to support the enterprise ; in vain did he assert his official authority. It was necessary for him to think of carrying through the matter alone. Would to God that he had abandoned this mad undertaking or that he had never thought of this or of the preceding one, of which I shall speak presently.

The ill-success which followed this enterprise is rightly regarded as the cause of our loss. The English would perhaps not have troubled us if we had not first affronted them. It is our love of aggression which has cost us dearly ; I have heard more than one of our foes say this, and it seems to me only too likely. It was the interest of the people of New England to live at peace with us and they would undoubtedly have done so if we had not been so ill-advised as to disturb the security which they felt in regard to us. They expected that both sides would hold aloof from the cruel war which had set Europe on fire, and that we, as well as they, should remain on the defensive only. Prudence required this, but that she does not always rule the actions of men we, more than any others, have demonstrated.

As soon as our Governor learned of the declaration of war he formed vast projects which have resulted in our present misfortune. God keep his soul in peace ! Poor man, we owe him little ; he was whimsical, changeable, given to drink, and when in his cups knowing no restraint or decency. He had affronted nearly all the officers of Louisbourg and destroyed their authority with the soldiers. It was because his affairs were in disorder and he was ruined that he had been given the government of Cape Breton. The foolish enterprise against Canso, which I shall describe presently, and from which they tried in vain to dissuade him, is the first cause of the loss of a colony so useful to the King.

How different was M. du Quesnel from his predecessor ! This was M. Forant,* the son of a vice-admiral and the grandson

*M. de Forant died in 1740. - ED.

of an admiral of Denmark. His grandfather migrated very young on account of his religion. M. Forant had entered the navy when young and knew his profession. By his kindness and humanity he deserved to lead men. They feared him because they loved him. When he came from France he had great plans for the development of the colony of which the King had made him Governor. He died, however, at the end of nine or ten months, and when he died he left a sum of thirty thousand livres for educating and bringing up young ladies, daughters of officers dying at Louisbourg. This sum is in Paris and only the income from it is used. It is said that a sister of this charitable Governor will attempt to overturn this good settlement, but it is to be hoped that she will fail n a design so contrary to the well-being of the State and of Religion, which are equally benefited.

Too much prudence can not be shown in the choice of Governors for the colonies. As they are the soul of these establishments it is of infinite consequence that their sentiments should correspond to the dignity of the Prince whom they represent. But it is obvious that too many of them act from unworthy motives. In the proper place, how many things would I have to say on this point ! Some day, perhaps, I shall have occasion to make public what I have learned in the course of my journeys to several of our colonies.

May 10 1744

The ambition of M. du Quesnel was to distinguish himself against the English. To realize this noble and daring design he armed a schooner (goëlette [3] ) of fourteen guns, and a bateau [4], upon which he put about six hundred men, soldiers and sailors, to go first and seize the little island of Canso. This was to be the signal of a breach with our neighbours, the English. His

[3] A species of chip of peculiar construction, with raking masts which help her speed.

[4] A little ship with one mast, much used in America.

force soon came back victorious. The enterprise, so much belauded, was in truth not worthy of our attention ; we did not gain what it cost. The English established upon this little island were, indeed, without the least defence. They did not know that we were at war with their nation, for we had been the first to hear of the declaration ; they did not even suspect that they might be attacked. The island, moreover, was not fortified, England having never taken any trouble to strengthen it. Some of her subjects had built a wretched town, which we burned.

This is how that expedition resulted for which its author would have believed himself to deserve the honours of a triumph ! Encouraged by this feeble success, our Governor aspired to a more substantial victory. Unable to get help from the commanders of the Ardent and the Caribou he was still not disconcerted, but resolved alone to attain the success of taking Acadia. He even appeared pleased that his glory should be shared by no one else.

You are aware, Monsieur, that Acadia formerly belonged to us, and that we ceded it to the English by the Treaty of  Utrecht.* It is even yet peopled by the old French inhabitants

* April 11th, 1713. -ED.

who occupied the country. It was upon this fact that M. de Quesnel based his plan, and he certainly made no mistake. We have experienced that they are still French at heart. Would not this fact cause our conquerors to desire that not a Frenchman should remain in Cape Breton ? It is, indeed, extremely difficult for a people to renounce allegiance to a power such as France, where reign monarchs whose virtues are so famous and who know how to secure the affection of their subjects.

In July M. du Quesnel sent M. du Vivier, a company captain, with orders to go by land to Baie Verte. This officer had two others with him from the garrison of Louisbourg, and he took also two more at St. John Island.* These five officers had a band of only ninety regular soldiers, but on their way they  collected from three to four hundred Indians and arrived before Annapolis+ (Port Royal [5] ) with their little army. Their camp was well situated. It was placed upon a hill, high enough to be able to command the town, to which they were so and it was henceforth called

* Now Prince Edward Island. -ED.

+ The English had captured Port Royal finally in 1710, and it was henceforth called Annapolis by them. -ED.

[5] This is the name of the Fort which is the one defence that Acadia has. It was built by us.

near that they could almost see and speak with those inside the fort. The French [6] subjects of Great Britain received them with demonstrations of sincere joy, and throughout rendered whatever services were in their power. M. du Vivier had caused them to make ladders, to be used on the walls of the fort in case there was a thought of entering it by assault, and they worked at these with all the zeal that one could expect from the most faithful subjects.

As orders had been given to treat them with great consideration, and they deserved it, they were carefully paid for everything. The Governor of the Fort, after our force had retired, told them that since France had paid them for the ladders which they had made it was proper that England should pay them to destroy them ; and in fact they were employed to do this.

The appearance of the French before Annapolis so frightened the Governor that he promised to surrender the Fort, without firing a shot, as soon as he should see appear the two vessels, with the coming of which they had menaced him. We were a long time before the place without anything happening on the one

[6] This is to speak improperly, the French of Acadia being rather neutrals.

side or the other. Our people got ready to attack as soon as the ships should appear, and, in case the enemy should attempt a defence, they had caused the settlers to prepare for them arrows, provided with an artifice for igniting fire, of which they had already made trial. M. du Vivier was relieved of the command by M. de Ganas, another captain of a free company, who had left Louisbourg later. This second commander manoeuvred badly. Out of patience because the ships for which he was waiting did not come, he imprudently abandoned the investment arid retired more than fifty leagues inland. It was this that caused the expedition to fail.

The cause of the delay of the two ships intended for this enterprise, was, at first, the dispute of the Governor with the commanders of the Ardent and the Caribou. M. du Quesnel always nattered himself that he should gain them over. Seeing that they were inflexible, he took his own course, which was to arm a merchant ship of La Rochelle, named the Atlas, together with a brigantine, [7] the Tempest. But he had not the satisfaction of seeing them sail, for he died suddenly, in the month

[7] Light ship, fit for racing, and either rowed or sailed. It has no deck.

of October,* regretted as little as he deserved to be. Of any one else it would be said that death was caused by chagrin, but that could not rightly be imputed to him.

*1744. -ED.

M. du Chambon, Lieutenant of the King, having taken command, caused the expedition to set out on the twenty-third. This new commander could not do otherwise. The situation was such that it was absolutely necessary to send this help to the troops which were supposed still to be encamped before Annapolis, where, in fact, they no longer were, as the two vessels perceived when they arrived before the fort. They were obliged to turn back. This armament was a loss, for although some prizes were taken on the return voyage, they were not a sufficient compensation. If the commanders had wished they could have taken a ship with a rich cargo, but they lost their heads ; sad forecast of what was to happen during the siege !

Although it was to be expected that our expedition against Acadia would succeed, because the enemy were very ill equipped to resist us, it failed, and this led them to the conclusion that we were either afraid or weak. They appear to have decided from this that they ought to take advantage of so favourable a circumstance, since from that time they worked with ardour upon the necessary military equipment. They did not do as we did they helped each other. They armed in all their ports, from Acadia along the whole coast ; they applied to England ; they sent, it is said, even to Jamaica, in order to secure all the help possible. The enterprise was planned prudently and they laboured all the winter to be ready at the first fine weather.

These preparations could not be kept so secret that something did not become known. From the first moment we had information about them, and in abundant time to be able to warn the Court by means of the two ships of war which had been of so little service to us, for it is well to record that they lay peacefully in port and did not deign to go out and give chase to certain privateers which often cruised so near that they could have landed men, if they had so wished. I was many times astonished that our ships did nothing, and was not the only inhabitant to grumble at this strange inaction. Indeed, it appears that this is common in all our colonies in America where I have heard it said that there were the same causes of complaint.

We had the whole winter before us more time than was necessary to put ourselves in a state of defense. We were, however, overcome with fear. Councils were held, but the outcome was only absurd and childish. Meanwhile the time slipped away ; we were losing precious moments in useless discussions and in forming resolutions abandoned as soon as made. Some things begun required completion; it was necessary to strengthen here, to enlarge there, to provide for some posts, to visit all those on the island, to see where a descent could be made most easily, to find out the number of persons in a condition to bear arms, to assign to each his place ; in a word, to show all the care and activity usual in such a situation. Nothing of all this was done, and the result is that we were taken by surprise, as if the enemy had pounced upon us unawares. Even after the first ships of the enemy which blockaded us had come we should have had time enough to protect ourselves better than we did, for, as I shall show, they appeared slowly, one after the other. Negligence and fatuity conspired to make us lose our unhappy island.

I will now describe its geographical situation. Formerly it was called Cape Breton* a name given it by the Bretons who first discovered it, and the English and Dutch still call it by this name. It lies in north latitude 45o 40' and about 377o or 378o of longitude. It is about one hundred leagues in circumference and is everywhere intersected by great bays. This Island is now the most considerable of those which remained to us about the Gulf of St. Lawrence [8] since Louis XIV gave up Newfoundland to the English by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1714 (sic). Their wish to secure Newfoundland, on account of its fisheries, was so great that it was one of the chief motives which led them since 1713 to abandon the Empire and Holland, and this movement, as is well known, was the salvation of France. All this great Island was almost wholly wild and uninhabited. We used it only to provide a place for the settlements which we were giving up (in Newfoundland). We

* The author himself, as already noted, invariably calls it Isle Royale. - Ed.

[8] The Gulf of St. Lawrence is the entrance to the River of that name which leads to Canada. It is the largest river in the world, there being places where it is upwards of five hundred leagues wide.

[The Gulf is not so wide, and the longitude is reckoned incorrectly, Cape Breton lying between 317o and 319o. From Paris, as now reckoned, the Island lies between 45o 30' and 47o 2' N. Lat., and between 62o 4' and 64o W. Long. ; from Greenwich, between 45o 27' and 47o 3' N. Lat. and between 59o 47' and 61o 32' W. Long. -ED.]

gave it then the name Isle Royale and the town built there was called Louisbourg. The island lies but two leagues distant from Acadia, from which it is separated only by the Strait of Canso. The nearer the English were to us, the more reason was there that we should fortify this new establishment to protect it from attack, for the English are so jealous that they are impatient of our being near them. They wished to have a monopoly of the cod fishery, which is a most important trade, as experience should have convinced us.

This was not all. It was necessary that we should retain a position that would make us at all times masters of the entrance to the River which leads to New France. [9] Our considerable settlements in Canada imposed this law upon us ; besides, it is absolutely necessary, in those dangerous waters where the storms are very wild, to have a port of refuge.

The Court, seeing the force of these reasons, neglected nothing to make the Island formidable to any one who should wish to attack it. The outlay was enormous and there is

[9] New France simply means the sum of all that we hold in Canada. We hare been in possession for nearly two hundred years.

scarcely a place which has cost the Court so much. It is certain that more than twenty millions were spent upon it. This was not, assuredly, because of any return from the colony, which is much more a burden than a source of profit ; but its usefulness to us is so great that France should sacrifice everything to get it back again out of the hands of the English. It protects our whole commerce in North America, and is also not less important for that which we carry on in the South, for, if the French held no place in this part of the North, vessels returning from Saint Domingo or Martinique would not, even in time of peace, be safe upon the Banks of Newfoundland. It is well known what the practice of the English is; the majority of them are engaged in piracy and the colonies most difficult of access are always for them the resort of sea-robbers and thieves, who plunder all the more securely because they receive underhand encouragement from their Governors. These have no scruple that restrains the wish to enrich themselves quickly, and in this they surpass even our Governors. Louisbourg is built upon a tongue of land which stretches out into the sea and gives the town an oblong shape. It is about half a league in circumference. The land is marshy. The houses are, for the most part, of wood; those of stone have been built at the King's expense and are designed to lodge His Majesty's troops and officers. To understand what the place must have cost one need only know that it was necessary to bring from France all the material for these houses, as well as that for the works of the place, which are considerable. The Dauphin's Bastion is very fine, as is also the King's. There is, too, a work called the Battery la Grave and a crenellated wall dominated by two cavaliers, with a wide view and a long range. Besides this, all around the town at the projecting and re-entering angles, are a variety of batteries of three or four guns, which were very effective during the siege. The King supports the greater part of the inhabitants ; the remainder live by fishing, and there are few well- to-do among them. On the Island are a number of villages in which a good many poor people, chiefly fishermen, are established.

It would not be difficult to improve this colony. It is only necessary that His Majesty should begin ship-building. Timber for the purpose is abundant ; all the inhabitants would have a useful occupation, and the advantage to the state would be that we should no longer have need to buy timber at great cost from the peoples of Northern Europe. It was shown in the case of the Caribou, [10] a vessel built in Canada, that the woods of Northern America are lighter and therefore better for the speed of a vessel. It is for this reason that the people of New England have such fast ships. Would it be less possible for us to succeed in this ? We could even make the pieces necessary for the construction of a vessel and take them to France numbered. The English, more ingenious than we, have adopted this plan and it works well. Why do we not imitate them ? Our navy would soon be equal to theirs and we should no longer see them so arrogant in their prosperity ; but we let them take advantage of our weakness, and, while we check them upon land, upon the sea they avenge themselves by destroying our commerce. Where is the navy of Louis the Great ?

[10] The Karibou or Caribou is an animal of North America very similar to the deer, having the same swiftness and agility. Like the deer, it has horns upon the head, but these are different from those of the European animal ; it is covered with long hair.

The outworks of Louisburg are not inferior to those within. A place so important, had it been well supplied and defended, would have brought to the English the same humiliation that they found before Cartagena.* The Royal Battery is about a quarter of a league distant from the town. This battery had at first forty pieces of  artillery, but the embrasures being too near to one another, M. du Quesnel very wisely had it rebuilt, and the number of pieces reduced to thirty, of which twenty-eight are thirty-six- pounders ; two eighteen-pounders command the sea, the town, and the head of the bay.

The Island Battery, at the entrance, protects the harbour, and as it was trained at the level of the water no ship could enter without being sunk. It is placed opposite the Lighthouse Tower, [11] which is on the other side, on the mainland. This battery has thirty-six twenty-four-pounders.

* Admiral Vernon with a considerable English fleet attacked Cartagena unsuccessfully in in 1740. -Ed.

[11] Its name indicates its use. It is intended to give light to vessels, and a fire is lit there every night.

The entrance to the harbour is further protected by a Cavalier, called the Maurepas Bastion, which has twelve embrasures, but no cannon had been placed there, either because it was not thought to be needful, or because it was regarded as wasteful to multiply the possibilities of a too-rapid consumption of gunpowder, of which a deficiency was feared.

Such were the fortifications of Louisbourg, upon which M. de Verville, an able engineer, had commenced to work, but, being appointed Chief Engineer at Valenciennes, he was succeeded by men who had never been engaged in war and were rather architects than engineers.

Let us look now at the forces in the town. First of all was the Garrison composed of eight companies of seventy men each, including, it must be admitted, the sick, who were very numerous. In the second place, five or six hundred militia taken from the settlers of the neighbourhood were brought in, and these, added to the force in the town, made up from thirteen to fourteen hundred men. The militia could have been increased by three or four hundred men who were at Niganiche* and in the neighbourhood, but action was taken too late; communication was cut off by the time it was decided to send for them.

* The modern Inganish. -Ed.

The supply of munitions of war and of food in the place was greater than has been made known, especially of food, of which there was enough to enable us to hold out longer than we did. I will give proof of this if it is demanded. Moreover, who kept any deficiency from being remedied in good time? The munitions of war were in like case. Since we were long threatened with a siege it was necessary to retrench in everything and to live as if scarcity already existed. Powder should not have been wasted in enterprises the more foolish because, even when accomplished, they would not have made our condition less serious ; besides these deprived us of what might have been our salvation. A prudent commander before undertaking anything would have weighed the matter carefully, but our commander was the very one that did not do this. Nevertheless we had still powder enough to last a long time, if they had known how to economize. From what I am about to narrate it will be seen how it was wasted.

Although we had some regular troops we had little reason to depend upon them. An incident which happened on December 27th was well fitted to lessen our confidence if we had had any. I will tell what it was. I am not too well posted as to how the Court would have taken the outburst, but it is certain that so bad an example remaining unpunished was fitted to have dangerous consequences. The Swiss who are in our Colonies would not fail on occasion to take advantage of the precedent.

Military discipline and the subordination that soldiers owe to officers had been so badly maintained by our late Governor that the most mischievous results followed. The day after Christmas, that of the festival of Saint Stephen, the Swiss revolted and had the insolence to come out without officers, drums beating, bayonets fixed, and swords in hand. The officers who tried to restrain them were bitterly enraged at this, and the matter reached such a point that those who wished to approach them were aimed at and very nearly lost their lives ; they would certainly have done so if prudence had not been used. The French soldiers were as bad and mutinied also; it went so far that the whole town was in alarm, not knowing where the revolt would end. The greatness of the peril (for it is certain that they would have sacked everything if they had only wounded one of their officers ; they have had the effrontery to boast of this since) led to conciliation which calmed the mutineers. It was promised that their grievances should be removed. These were that the best things were sold to the settlers. It was a question of the butter and bacon which the King furnishes; behold the object of the mutiny! The mutineers did not complain of the bread nor of any other provisions. [12] Possibly they had some cause of complaint, [13] but their bad conduct ought nevertheless to have been punished. Their offence is too striking to be overlooked. [14] Presumably they would have been punished if it could have been done with safety, but their judges were none of the bravest. In the end they were induced to lay down their arms. The incident cost the King seven or eight thousand livres. The rebels, taking

[12] Some say that they complained also about the beans ; but their greatest grievance was about the codfish, taken as booty at Canso, which M. du Quesnel had promised to them, and which the officers had appropriated to themselves, for a low price at long credit. Some of these knew how to enrich themselves by trade.

[13] It is certain that the officers treated the soldier badly, reckoning his pay fraudulently, and often making a profit out of his work. These soldiers worked upon the fortifications and ought to have been paid.

[14] I learn at this moment that orders from the Court have come, and that the guilty will be arraigned. They will be severely punished.*

* Three were executed and others punished. Collection de Manuscrits, III: 262, (Quebec, 1884). -Ed.

advantage of the fear in which they were held, proceeded the next day to the commissary's door and under frivolous pretexts such as that their money had been previously kept back ; caused themselves to be paid all that they wished and to be reimbursed even for their clothing. So ended the matter without the bloodshed that had been feared.

Troops with so little discipline were scarcely able to inspire us with confidence; we therefore did not think it well to make any sorties, fearing that such men might range themselves on the side of the enemy.* If anything can justify us, certainly it is the foresight that we showed in this connection. In  justice to them, indeed, it ought to be said that they did  their duty well throughout the siege; but who knows whether they would have still done this if an opportunity had offered to escape from the punishment of a crime which is rarely pardoned ? I confess that I thought it only natural to distrust them.

*Two of the Swiss deserted to the English during the siege. Collections de Manuscrits, III :219, (Quebec, 1884). -ED.


The enemy appeared in March, a month usually extremely dangerous in a climate which seems to confound the seasons, for the spring, everywhere else so pleasant, there is frightful. The English, however, appeared to have enlisted Heaven in their interests. So long as the expedition lasted they enjoyed the most beautiful weather in the world, and this greatly favoured an enterprise against which were heavy odds that it would fail on account of the season. Contrary to what is usual there were no storms. Even the winds, so unrestrained in those dreadful seas (Parages [15] ) in the months of March, April, and May, were to them always favourable ; the fogs (Brumes [16] ) so thick and frequent in these months that ships are in danger of running upon the land without seeing it, disappeared earlier than usual, and gave place to a clear and serene sky ; in a word, the enemy had always beautiful weather, as fine as they could desire.

March 14

On the 14th March we saw the first hostile ships. There were as yet only two, and at first we took them for French vessels, but the manoeuvres soon undeceived us. Their number increased day by day and ships continued to arrive until the end of May. For a long time they cruised about without attempting anything. The general rendezvous was

[15] Parage used in a nautical sense means a certain extent of sea.
[16] Brume in a nautical sense is what is called Brouillard on land.

before our island, and they came in from every direction, for Acadia, Placentia, Boston, and all English America, were in arms. The European contingent did not come until June. The enterprise was less that of the nation or of the King than of the inhabitants of New England alone. These singular people have a system of laws and of protection peculiar to themselves, and their Governor carries himself like a monarch. So much is this the case that although war was already declared between the two crowns, he himself declared it against us of his own right and in his own name, as if it was necessary that he should give his warrant to his master. His declaration set forth that for himself and all his friends and allies he declared war against us ; apparently he meant to speak for the savages subject to them, who are called Indians, and whom it is necessary to distinguish from those obedient to France. It will be seen that Admiral Warren had no authority over the troops sent by the Governor of Boston and that he was merely a spectator, although it was to him that we finally surrendered, at his own request. So striking was the mutual independence of the land army and the fleet that they were always represented to us as of different nations. What other monarchy was ever governed in such a way ?

May 11

The greater part of the transports having arrived by the beginning of May, on the eleventh we saw them, to the number of ninety-six, coming in order of battle from the direction of Canso and steering for the Flat Point of the Bay of Gabarus. We did not doubt that they would land there. Then it was that we saw the need of the precautions that we ought to have taken. A detachment of one hundred men from the garrison and militia was sent thither quickly in command of M. Morpain, port captain. But what could such a feeble force do against the multitude which the enemy was disembarking ? The only result was that a part of our force was killed. M. Morpain found about two thousand men already disembarked. He killed some of them and retired.

The enemy took possession of the surrounding country and a detachment pushed forward close to the Royal Battery. Now terror seized us all. From this moment the talk was of abandoning the splendid battery, which would have been our chief defence had we known how to make use of it.

Several tumultuous councils were held to consider the situation. Unless it was from a panic fear which never left us again during the whole siege, it would be difficult to give any reason for such an extraordinary action. Not a single musket had yet been fired against this battery, which the enemy could not take except by making approaches in the same manner as to the town and besieging it, so to speak, in the regular way. A reason for our action was whispered, but I am not myself in a position to speak decidedly. I have, however, heard its truth vouched for by one who was in the battery, but, my post being in the town, it was a long time since I had been to the Royal Battery. The alleged reason for such a criminal withdrawal is that there were two breaches which had never been repaired. If this is true the crime is all the greater, for we had had even more time than was necessary to put everything in order.


However this may be, the resolution was taken to abandon this powerful bulwark, in spite of the protestations of some wiser heads, who lamented to see such a stupid mistake made. They could get no hearers. In vain did they urge that we should thus proclaim our weakness to the enemy, who would not fail to profit by such huge recklessness, and would turn this very battery against us ; that, to show a bold face and not reinforce the courage of the enemy by giving him from the first day such good hope of success, it was necessary to do all that we could to hold this important post; that it was quite clear that we could hold it for more than fifteen days, and that this delay could be utilized by removing all the cannon to the town. The answer was, that the council had resolved otherwise; and so on the 13th, by order of the council, a battery of thirty pieces of cannon, which had cost the King immense sums, was abandoned without undergoing the slightest fire. The retreat was so precipitate that we did not take time to spike the guns in the usual manner, so that on the very next day the enemy used them. Meanwhile, some deluded themselves with a contrary hope ; I was on the point of getting a wager accepted that they would make almost no delay in attacking us. So flurried were we that, before the withdrawal from the battery, a barrel of gunpowder exploded, nearly blew up several persons, and burnt the robe of a Récollet friar. It was not from this moment, however, that imprudence marked our actions for a long time we had yielded to it.


What I had foreseen happened. From the fourteenth the enemy greeted us with our own cannon, and kept up a tremendous fire against us. We answered them from the walls, but we could not do them the harm which they did to us in knocking down houses and shattering everything within range.


While they kept up a hot fire upon us from the Royal Battery they established a mortar platform upon the Rabasse height near the Barachois [17] on the west side and these mortars began to fire on the sixteenth day after the siege began. They had mortars in all the batteries which they established. The bombs annoyed us greatly.

The same day the tardy resolution was taken to send to Acadia to summon to our help a detachment which had left Quebec to act in concert with us in the enterprise against Annapolis. The late M. du Quesnel, enamoured of this expedition, had given notice of it to M. de Beauharnois.* This Governor was

*Governor of  Canada from 1726 to 1747. -ED

[17] Barachois is a lake into which the sea comes.

more prudent and wished to have the authority of the Court which they wrote in concert to secure. M. du Quesnel took it upon himself to proceed with the enterprise, while M. de Beauharnois waited quietly for the orders of the Court. Meanwhile, as it was necessary to have everything ready, in case the Court should think it well to approve of the expedition, the Governor-General of Canada sent a company lieutenant, M. Marin, with two other officers and two hundred and fifty men, both Indians and French. Acadia is on the mainland, [18] and on the same continent as Quebec. This detachment, however, was not able to arrive as soon as ours. We did not learn of its arrival until the month of March of this year.

The messenger whom M. Marin sent to us asked on his part for provisions and munitions of war. We should have sent back the same messenger to urge this officer to come to our help, but we were without forethought and were so far from such wisdom that steps were taken in the month of April to comply with his requests; we did not send provisions, however,

[18] It is claimed that it is the largest continent in the world. It ia easy to go from Canada to Acadia, but there are several rivers and lakes to cross. The Canadians often make the journey.

for he let us know that he had recovered some. He was urgent in requesting powder and balls, and in granting his wishes, we made two irreparable mistakes. In the first place, we deprived ourselves of the help which this officer was able to bring us ; instead of explaining our situation, as we should have done, we gave him to understand that we were strong enough to defend ourselves. In the second place, already short of ammunition, especially powder, we further diminished our supply. There was some still more uselessly wasted.

It is necessity that makes men reflect. In the month of May we began to be anxious about the mistake we had made ; then, without thinking that, with the enemy extending all along the coast and masters of the surrounding country, it was impossible for M. Marin to penetrate to the place, two messengers were sent, beseeching him to succour us. Both had the good fortune to pass out, but they were obliged to make so wide a circuit that they took nearly a month to reach him. The Canadian officer, learning from them the extremity in which we found ourselves, collected some Indians to strengthen his detachment, being resolved to help us if he should reach us.

After a fight in crossing the strait, he had the chagrin to learn that he had arrived too late, and that Louisbourg had surrendered. The brave fellow had only time to throw himself into the woods with his five or six hundred men, to get back to Acadia.


The enemy appeared to wish to press the siege with vigour. They established near the Brissonet Flats a battery, which began to fire upon the seventeenth, and they were at work upon still another to play directly upon the Dauphin Gate, between the houses of a man named LaRoche and of a gunner named Lescenne. They did not content themselves with these batteries, although they hammered a breach in our walls, but made new ones to support the first. The marshy flat on the seashore at White Point proved very troublesome and kept them from pushing on their works as they would have wished ; to remedy this they dug several trenches across the flats, and, when these had been drained, they set up two batteries which did not begin to fire until some days afterwards. One of them, above the settlement of Martissance, had several pieces of cannon, taken partly from the Royal Battery and partly from Flat Point where the landing was made. They intended it to destroy the Dauphin Bastion, and these
two last batteries nearly levelled the Dauphin Gate.


On the 18th we perceived a ship carrying the French flag, and trying to enter the Port. It was seen that she was really a French ship, and to help her to come in we kept up a ceaseless fire upon the Royal Battery. The English could easily have sunk the ship had it not been for the vigour of our fire, which never ceased, and they were not able to keep her from entering. This little reinforcement pleased us. She was a Basque vessel, and another had reached us in the month of April.

We were not so fortunate in regard to a ship of Granville, which tried to enter a few days later, but, being pursued, was forced to run aground. She fought for a long time. Her commander, whose name was Daguenet, was a brave man, and surrendered only in the last extremity and when overwhelmed by numbers. He had carried all his guns to one side, and kept up such a terrible fire with them that he made the enemy pay dearly and they were obliged to arm nearly all their boats to take him. From this captain we learned that he had met the Vigilant, and that it was from that unfortunate vessel that he heard of the blockade of Cape Breton. This fact has a bearing upon what I am about to relate.

In France it is thought that our fall was caused by the loss of this vessel. In a sense this is true, but we should have been able to hold out without her if we had not heaped error upon error, as you must have seen by this time. It is true that, thanks to our own imprudence, we had already begun to lose hope when this powerful succour approached us. If she had entered, as she could have done, we should still hold our property, and the English would have been forced to retire.

28 or 29

The Vigilant came in sight on the 28th or 29th of May about  a league and a half distant from Santarye.*  At the time there

*Scatari. -ED

was a north-east wind which was a good one for entering. She left the English fleet two and a half leagues to leeward. Nothing could have prevented her from entering, and yet she became the prey of the English by a most deplorable fatality. We witnessed her manoeuvres and there was not one of us who did not utter maledictions upon what was so badly planned and so imprudent.

This vessel, commanded by M. de la Maisonfort, instead of holding on her way, or of sending a boat to land for intelligence, as prudence demanded, amused herself by chasing a privateer rigged as a Snow (Senault [19] ), which unfortunately she encountered near the shore. This privateer, which was commanded by one Brousse,* manoeuvred differently from the French vessel, and retreated, firing continuously, with all sail set, and leading her enemy on towards the English squadron ; her plan succeeded, for the Vigilant found herself so entangled that when she saw the danger it was impossible to save herself. At first two frigates [20] attacked her. M. de la Maisonfort answered with a vigorous fire which soon placed one of them  hors de combat. Her mainmast was carried away, she was stripped of all her rigging, and was compelled to retire. Five other frigates, however, came and poured in a hot fire from all sides ; the fight, which we watched in the open air, lasted from five o'clock to ten in the evening. At length it was necessary for her to yield to superior force and to surrender. The

*The officer referred to is no doubt Captain Rouse, commanding the  "Shirley," a provincial ship. Rouse was subsequently an officer in the Royal Navy . Windsor, Narr and Crit. Hist. V : 437, note. -Ed.

[19] Ship with two masts.

[20] The frigate is a swift vessel which goes well and is fit for racing.

enemy's loss in the fight was heavy and the French commander had eighty men killed or wounded ; his ship was very little

It is right to say to the credit of M. de la Maisonfort that he showed great courage in the struggle, but the interests of the King demanded that he should have proceeded to his destination. The Minister did not send him to give chase to any vessel ; his ship was loaded with ammunition and provisions, and his one business was to re-victual our wretched town, which would never have been taken could we have received so great a help ; but we were victims devoted to the wrath of Heaven, which willed to use even our own forces against us. We have learned from the English, since the surrender, that they were beginning to be short of ammunition, and were in greater need of powder than we were. They had even held councils with a view to raising the siege. The powder found in the Vigilant soon dispelled this idea, and we perceived that after the capture their firing increased greatly.

I know that the commander of this unfortunate vessel will say, to justify himself, that it was important to capture the privateer in order to govern himself by the information that he should thus secure. But that does not excuse him ; he knew that Louisbourg was blockaded, and that was enough ; what more was it necessary to know ? If he was afraid that the English were masters of the place it was easy to find this out by sending his cutter or his long-boat and sacrificing some men for the sake of certainty. The Royal Battery ought not to have troubled him. We should have done with it what we did in the case of the Basque ship, whose entrance we aided by keeping up a hot fire. The loss of a reinforcement so considerable caused even those to lose heart who had been most determined. It was not difficult to suspect that we should be obliged to throw ourselves on the clemency of the English, and several thought that it was now necessary to ask for terms of capitulation. We still held out, however, for more than a month and this is better than one could have expected considering the prostration to which so sad a spectacle had brought us.

The enemy was busy all the remainder of the month in cannonading and bombarding us without making any appreciable progress which could arouse their hopes. Since they did not attack in form, and, since they had no entrenchments to cover themselves, they did not venture to approach too near. All our shots carried while the greater part of theirs was wasted. Hence we fired only when we thought well. The enemy would fire daily from five to six hundred cannon shots to our twenty ; in truth our scarcity of powder caused us to be careful. The musketry was of little use.

I have forgotten to mention that in the early days of the siege the enemy had summoned us to surrender, but we answered as our duty demanded ; the officer who was sent to make the proposition, seeing that we were rejecting his offers, proposed that the ladies should be sent out with the guarantee that they should not be insulted, and that they should be protected in the few houses that were still standing, for the enemy when they disembarked had burned or destroyed nearly everything in the surrounding country. We declined the officer's proposal, for our women and children were quite safe in the shelter we had made for them. Some long pieces of wood had been put upon the casemates in a slanting position and this so deadened the force of the bombs and turned them aside that 1 heir momentum had no effect. It was underneath this that we had, as it were, buried them.

June 6

At the beginning of June the besiegers appeared to acquire renewed vigour. Dissatisfied with their slight success  hitherto, they began new undertakings, and planned to attack us from the sea. In order to succeed they tried to surprise the Battery at the entrance. A detachment of about 500 men, transported thither on the night of the sixth, was cut in pieces by M. d'Aillebout, captain of a company, who commanded there and fired upon them with grape shot ; more than three hundred were left dead, and none were saved except those who asked for quarter; the wounded were taken to our hospitals. On this occasion we made one hundred and nineteen prisoners, and on our side had only three killed or wounded, but we lost a gunner who was much regretted.

This advantage cheered us a little : we had as yet made no sortie, for want of men, since, as I have observed, we did not depend at all upon the regular troops, for the reason stated. It was, nevertheless, decided to make one, and for this there was urgent need. Wishing to possess, at any price, the battery at the entrance, the assailants commenced to build a fort opposite this battery, to command it. A hundred resolute men were chosen to go and dislodge them. M. Kol, a Swiss and a settler, took command of them, having with him M. Beaubassin, a retired officer. In the hands of these two brave men the sortie could not fail, and it was conducted with all imaginable prudence and courage. They went to land at the River Mira, where they halted some time, sending out a scouting party towards Lorembec,* a place three or four leagues from the town and still untouched ; it was reported to them that about three hundred men had been seen. They advanced upon them, but the enemy, seeing them coming, burned Lorembec and retired to the head of a Barachois, upon the property of M. Boucher, an engineer. Although they were entrenched there, our party, reinforced by thirty Indians found at the Mira, attacked them so that they lost two hundred and thirty men, of whom a hundred and fifty were killed and eighty wounded. Had not powder given out the reverse would have been pressed farther.

*The modern Lorad. -Ed.

The number of the enemy, however, increasing constantly, it was necessary to beat a retreat. The Indians returned to station themselves beyond the river.

These Indians are very brave and warmly attached to the Trench. They hate the English as much as they like us, and give them no quarter. It will be impossible for the English to quell them, and France, if she ever wishes to recover our colony by force, will always find in them assistance all the more invaluable because they are without fear. They are naturally good tempered, but when irritated are none the less dangerous. Full of hatred for the English, whose ferocity they abhor, they destroy all upon whom they can lay hands. Their rage against the English nation is so great that it extends even to its savage allies. We have heard them say that they would kill every Englishman who should dare to venture into the forest.

It was our misfortune not to have had any of these Indians, who would have rendered it possible for us to make frequent sorties; - or, rather, this ought to be added to the number of the Mistakes that we made, for it would have been very easy to bring together as many as we wished, but it would have been necessary to make this provision before the English arrived or the siege began. Our commanders' excuse, that one of the causes of the surrender was that they had not enough men to make sorties, and dislodge the enemy as they pushed forward new works, is not valid ; upon them lay this responsibility ; they were given advice but paid no heed.

An incident happened in the above action which shows the courage of the Indians attached to our side, and deserves to be narrated. One of them, called Little John, received a gun shot in the breast. His companions thought that he was dead and, having no time to dig a grave, buried him under the thicket. After three days the poor fellow rejoined them at the place to which they had retired beyond the River Mira, and surprised them very much for they could not believe that he was alive. These Indians have marvellous vigour, are hardened to fatigue, and extremely temperate, going voluntarily for several days without food. If, while hunting, they meet a Frenchman and have only a little food, they deprive themselves of it, telling him that, since he does not know how to fast as long as they, he must keep it for himself. This trait expresses well the generosity of their character. It was not their fault if they were of little service to us during the siege. Notice was not given to them before the means of communication were cut off, and they were thus not able to lend us the help that we should have hoped for. Having sought shelter in the woods, they tried several times to penetrate to the town. Some of the English who had the temerity to ramble about were massacred and several were killed by a band of from twenty to twenty -five Indians at Gabarus, upon the property of M. Rondeau, pay-master of the Navy, who wished to cut wood for the use of the hostile fleet. The English dreaded them so much that, to guard against surprises, they burned all the woods about Louisbourg.

When M. Kol returned and gave an account of his expedition, and of the manner in which the Indians had supported him, there was a discussion about sending munitions of war to them at once, both for themselves and for certain other Indians who it was thought would come from Acadia. A boat carrying five barrels of powder and thirty hundred weight of ball was sent off and taken through the woods to an island in the River Mira, where three men remained on guard, but we heard not a word of the Indians. Here again was seen one of the mistakes so familiar to us. For a long time the scarcity of powder had been complained of, yet upon the slightest pretext and for pure uncertainties we deprived ourselves of some of our supply. Nothing could better show how our heads were turned. What could the Indians have done then, even if they had come? The enemy no longer doubted about the final outcome; since the Vigilant was taken they had reason to be convinced that we could not escape and our loss of this vessel, in reducing us to extremities, placed them in a position to keep everything waiting upon their initiative.


To make things worse, on the 15th a squadron of six warships from London reached the English. These, together with the frigates, cruised about in view of the town without firing a single shot. We have, however, since learned that if we had delayed capitulating, all the vessels would have brought their broadsides to bear upon us (se seroient embosser [21] ) and we should

[21] Embosser, a naval term which signifies to make fast; so that a ship embossee is a ship at her moorings and at anchor.

have had to undergo a most vigorous fire. Their arrangements were not unknown; I will report the order that they were to keep.

18 and 19

The enemy had not yet used red hot bullets, but on the 18th and 19th they did so, with a success which would and have been greater had there not been prompt action on our part Three or four houses took fire, but it was quickly extinguished. Promptitude in such emergencies was our single resource.

It was without doubt the arrival of the squadron which caused this new greeting on the part of the land army, the General, who wished himself to have the honour of conquering us, being very desirous of forcing us to surrender before the fleet should put itself in a position to compel us.


The Admiral on his side was anxious to secure the honour of reducing us. On the 21st an officer came to propose, on the Admiral's part, that, if we must surrender, it would be better to do so to him, because he would show us a consideration that, perhaps, we should not find with the commander of the land force. All this shows very little co-operation between the two generals, and sufficiently confirms the remark which I have already made; in fact one could never have told that these troops belonged to the same nation and obeyed the same prince. Only the English are capable of such oddities, which nevertheless form a part of that precious liberty of which they show themselves so jealous.

We answered the officer, whom Admiral Warren had sent with this message, that we had no reply to give him, and that we should see which party it would be well to avail ourselves of when we should arrive at such an extremity. This swagger would have made any one laugh who had seen our real embarrassment. It could not have been greater ; the officer must have perceived it notwithstanding the bold countenance which we assumed, since it is difficult for the face to conceal the emotions of the heart. Councils were held more frequently than ever, but with no better results ; they met without knowing why, and knew not what to resolve. I have often laughed at these meetings where nothing happened that was not ridiculous, and which only revealed confusion and indecision. Care for our defence no longer occupied us. If the English had known how to profit by our fright they would soon have mastered us, sword in hand. But it must be granted, to their credit, that they were as much afraid as we were. Many a time all this has reminded me of the fable of the Hare and the Frogs.*

*La Fontaine, Book II., Fable XIV. - Ed.

+ According to the Governor, Du Chambon, this officer was M. de Laperelle (Coll. de Manus. iii, 254) -Ed.


The object of our numerous Councils was to draw up articles of capitulation. This occupied until the twenty-seventh, when an officer, M. Lopinot.+ went out to carry them to the commander of the land forces. It was hoped that the terms would be more agreeable to him than to the Admiral but they were of so extraordinary a character that, notwithstanding the anxiety of this General that we should capitulate to him, he had scarcely the patience to listen to them. I remember that in one article we demanded five pieces of cannon and two brass mortars . Such propositions were little in accord with our situation.

In order to succeed with one side or the other, the same conditions were proposed to the Admiral. This negotiation was entrusted to M. Bonaventure, company captain, who intrigued a great deal with Mr. Warren and, although most of our articles were rejected, obtained, nevertheless, terms sufficiently honourable. The capitulation was then decided on the terms which have been publicly reported. It was announced to us by two cannon shots from the Admiral's ship as M. Bonaventure had been instructed. We were reassured a little by this news, for we had reason to apprehend the saddest fate. We feared at every moment that the enemy, awaking from their blindness, would press forward to carry the place by assault. Everything invited them to do so. There were two breaches, each about fifty feet wide ; one at the Dauphin Gate, the other at the Spur, which is opposite. They have since told us that it had been decided to attempt the assault the next day. The ships were to support them and to bring their guns to bear in the following manner : - Four war ships and four frigates were intended for the Dauphin bastion; the same number of war ships and frigates, including the Vigilant, were to attack the La Grave battery, and three other vessels and as many frigates were ordered to keep close to the Island at the entrance. We should never have been able to answer the fire of all these vessels, and at the same time to have defended our breaches, so that it would have been necessary to yield, no matter what efforts we made, and see ourselves reduce to seeking clemency from a conqueror whose generosity there was reason to distrust. The land army was composed only of a crowd brought together without subordination or discipline, who would have made us suffer all that the most furious insolence and rage can do. The capitulation did not keep them from doing us considerable injury.

Thus, by the visible protection of Providence, we warded off a day which would have been so full of misery for us. What, above all, caused our decision was the small quantity of powder which we still had. I am able to affirm that we had not enough left for three charges. This is the critical point, and upon this it is sought to deceive the public who are ill-informed ; it is desired to convince them that twenty thousand pounds still remained. Signal falsehood ! I have no interest in concealing the truth, and ought the more to be believed because I do not pretend by this entirely to justify our officers. If they did not capitulate too soon, they committed mistakes enough to prevent their acquittal of the blame which they incurred. It is certain that we had no more than thirty-seven kegs of powder, each of one hundred pounds this is trustworthy, as is not all that is told to the contrary.

At first even we found only thirty-five; but our further searches procured two others, hid, apparently, by the gunners, who, it is known, are everywhere accustomed to this pilfering. The articles of capitulation granted by Admiral Warren provided in effect that the Garrison should march out with arms and flags, which should afterwards be given up, to be restored to the troops after their arrival in France ; that, if our own ships did not suffice to transport our persons and effects to France, the English would furnish transport as well as the necessary provisions for the voyage ; that all the commissioned officers of the Garrison and also the inhabitants of the town should be allowed to reside in their houses, and to enjoy the free exercise of their religion without molestation, until they could be removed ; that the non-commissioned officers and the soldiers should be placed on board the British ships immediately after the surrender of the town and the fortress, until they also should be taken to France ; that our sick and wounded should receive the same care as those of the enemy ; that the Commandant of the Garrison should have the right to take out two covered wagons which should be inspected by one officer only, to see that there were no munitions of war ; that, if any persons of the town or garrison did not wish to be recognized by the English, they should be permitted to go out masked.

These conditions were assuredly favourable ; more so than we could have promised ourselves considering the grievous condition to which we were reduced. Nothing could show better that the enemy were not yet cured of their fear. They dreaded our fortifications and in this had abundant reason to excuse them. Their mistake was in not having sufficient insight to detect our want of ammunition. An able and experienced enemy would soon have discovered this.

There were certain other articles added by Mr. Warren ; namely, that the surrender and execution of each portion of the things mentioned above should be done and accomplished as soon as possible ; that, for guaranty of their execution, the Island battery, or one of the batteries of the town, should be delivered up, with all the artillery and munitions of war, to the troops of His Britannic Majesty before six o'clock in the evening ; that the vessels lying before the harbour should be free to enter immediately thereafter, and whenever the Commander-in-Chief should deem proper ; that none of the officers, soldiers, or inhabitants of Louisbourg, subjects of the King of France, should take up arms against England or any of her allies, during a year, to be reckoned from the day of signing the capitulation ; lastly, that all the subjects of His Britannic Majesty held as prisoners in the town or on the Island should be delivered up.


In consequence of this capitulation, signed " P. Warren " and " William Pepperrell," the war vessels, merchant ships, and transports entered the harbour of Louisbourg on the 29th. We have nothing but praise for the polished and engaging manners of the Admiral, who had his men well under control, and showed us all the attentions that one could expect from an enemy, generous and compassionate. Mr. Warren is a young man, about thirty-five years old, very handsome, and full of the noblest sentiments. That he sought to gratify us in everything we had proof at our departure ; we had need of a surgeon on the Linceston, the ship which carried us to Rochefort, and he obligingly gave us the surgeon of the Vigilant.

We have, however, much to complain of respecting the commander of the land forces, who had not the same consideration for us, and allowed us to be pillaged by his troops, in violation of the good faith due to our capitulation, and of the public security. What could we expect from a man who, it is said, is the son of a shoemaker of Boston ? The Governor, whose favourite he was, had given him this command to the prejudice of better men, who had murmured loudly about it. The officers of the men-of-war had only open contempt for him ; those who served under his orders did not respect him more. To punish us for not surrendering to him, he did not cease to persecute us ; we can only impute to him all the harm which was done us. Constantly, ineffective complaints were carried to him against his men, who, after they were free to enter the town threw themselves into our houses and took what pleased them. Our lot was little different from that of a town given up to pillage.

We have another grievance against our conquerors. One of the articles of capitulation provided that we should use our own vessels to carry us and our effects to France, and that, if these did not suffice, the enemy would furnish us with ships, as well as with provisions, for the voyage ; yet, by the most glaring injustice, they refused us the ships in the harbour, on the ground that they belonged to some merchants of France, as if we had not treated for all that was in the place. What was more mortifying, they had the malice to let us get these ships ready for sea, and it was only on the eve of sailing that they committed this unworthy chicanery. Upon this fine pretext, which was at bottom only the law of the strongest, they seized the cargoes of some of these same ships, in which we should have found provisions for the voyage, instead of being compelled nearly to die of hunger. The captains were compelled to buy their ships back again.

This strange proceeding, which the Court of France is interested in avenging, shows how little the word of an enemy like the English can be depended upon, especially in those distant countries where honour is among the things unknown. Here is another proof. There had been a capitulation at Canso,  by which M. Brastrik, the officer in command there* could not serve before the month of June ; nevertheless, this officer

*Captain Heron was in command at Canso, where Brastrik had a ship. Collection de Manuscrits III. : 202-3 (Quebec, 1884). The charge against Brastrik of violating his parole is repeated by the Governor Du Chambon. ib., 257. -Ed.

ventured to take up arms in the month of May. If the court acted wisely, it would practice reprisals, and make use at once of the troops which we have brought home, unless the English court should give satisfaction for an outrage on the laws of war recognized by all civilized nations.

Such is the description of the siege of Louisbourg, which, notwithstanding our fortifications, would not have lasted so long had we been attacked by an enemy better versed in the art of war. No complaint can be made of the settlers, who served with the same precision as did the troops themselves, and had to bear the greatest fatigues. The regular soldiers were distrusted [22] so that it was necessary to charge the inhabitants with the most dangerous duties. Children, ten and twelve years old, carried arms, and were to be seen on the ram parts, exposing themselves with a courage beyond their years. Our loss scarcely reached one hundred and thirty men, and it is certain that that of the English was more than two thousand. Yet their force was so great that for them this loss was inconsiderable. They had, at disembarking, as many as from

[22] A French soldier was hanged during the siege for projected treason ; he was found with a letter which he was carrying from a prisoner to the English general.

eight to nine thousand men. We should have done them more injury if we had been able to make sorties. I have told the causes which prevented our doing this. The bombs and bullets of the enemy caused frightful desolation in our poor town; most of our houses were demolished, and we were obliged to remove the flour from the general magazine to expose it to the weather in the King's garden ; we feared that it might be burned by the enemy, as most of the bombs fell upon this magazine. More than three thousand five hundred must have been fired against us. I do not know exactly how much flour remained to us still, but I know that there was a large quantity, and there were other provisions in proportion. These, however, could not take the place of the munitions of war, which were absolutely exhausted. We had no more bombs, and if we had had any they would have been perfectly useless, for our mortars had cracked, after some shots had been fired. All misfortunes were ours at once.

The enemy caused all to embark and did not wish to allow any settler to remain upon the island. They would have driven out even the Indians if that had been in their power. This conduct proves that they desire to keep it. But if we succeed in taking Acadia* I see no difficulty in our getting Cape Breton from them. It appears that the English court is sending great forces thither ; this ought to awaken the attention of the French court and to lead it to increase its force on the sea, with a view to opposing the enemy's designs against Canada. When we came away they assured us that they would be masters of it next year. We ought to make sure that they have not a similar success in this enterprise, which would give the last blow to our commerce. Would it be possible that it should sustain so great a reverse under the invincible Louis XV., and that, while so valiant a Monarch makes the Powers which dare to oppose him tremble, he allows his subjects in the colonies to be exposed to the violence of his enemies, and to be the only ones who succumb to the fortune of war ? Are we less his subjects ? We should be very sorry to depend upon any other Power.

* An expedition against Acadia was being planned in France at this time. (August, 1745).

I will finish this sad and unhappy narrative, which makes me weep, by saying that the court should extend its charity to an immense number of unfortunates who, if not succoured, will die of hunger in France. We, the inhabitants of the town, owing to the terms of capitulation, however badly executed have still preserved something from the ruin of a fortune sufficiently limited, but those who dwelt in the country have lost everything, as they were exposed to the first fury of the enemy. I have seen numerous families (for there is scarcely a country in the world that we have peopled as we have our northern colonies) embark without having anything to cover them, and wring compassion from even the English themselves. I have succoured as many of them as my means have permitted, and several others have followed my example. The court will not leave those to perish whose fidelity has caused their misfortune.

Our commander, M. du Chambon, behaved very well after the reduction of the place. He protected us with all his power against insolence on the part of our conquerors, and he wished to be the last to leave the colony, but the English forced him to embark. He left an officer to represent him, and to see that the settlers were allowed to have what they had a right to carry off, under the terms of the capitulation.

This, my dear friend, is a detailed narrative of this unhappy affair, of which such diverse accounts are given. I can protest to you that I have suppressed nothing of all which could come to my knowledge, and I am inviolably bound to tell the truth, without wishing to injure anyone through a desire for revenge or anything else. The same motive compels me to render to the Minister* the justice which is his due. I hear that he is blamed for some of the disaster to our colony, as if he could be responsible for the faults of those to whose care he entrusted it. If you share this popular mistake, the detailed account which I have given can save you from it Can we, indeed, yield to notions so little in accordance with the foresight of this great Minister, to whom the navy owes much, and to whom it would owe still more if he were given the power to restore it to its ancient lustre ? One must be ignorant of what is going on to make such a mistake. Let him be listened to ; let him be the only one upon whom depends the strength of this potent support of our glory and splendour ; let him be given sufficient sums to build as many ships as we need, and let that no longer be regarded by the court as a thing indifferent which deserves, perhaps, the chief and the most serious attention. I warrant you that then you would soon see the navy upon the old footing that it had formerly under Louis XIV. But as long as his hands are tied and he gets only small and ineffective grants of money, and attention is turned away from this motive power of our greatness and strength, every penetrating and impartial mind will take care not to blame him for the blows levied at our maritime commerce, to which the state is more indebted than is imagined.

* The well known Comte de Maurepas whose long official life ended only in 1781. -Ed.

Believe it as perfectly true that Louisbourg had been sufficiently furnished with provisions and munitions of war ; that the Minister had reason to rely upon his own wisdom and care in this respect, and that the want of economy and the wastefulness of those placed in charge are what should be blamed. Could he foresee that they would foolishly consume [23] the pro-

[23] What did most to consume our powder were the privateering armaments which were planned from the time that we knew of the declaration of war. The officers were interested in the Privateers and this procured for the settler as much powder as he wished. I will say here that trade was controlled by the officers, that they purchased the cargoes as soon as they arrived, and that they obliged the inhabitants to buy their goods by their weight in gold. They have, however, an excuse in the small salaries which the Court paid them.

visions devoted to the needs of a useful colony ? And if he had suspected it, how could he have acted otherwise than as he did? As soon as he learns that Cape Breton is menaced, and is notified of its condition, he sends instantly a ship of sixty-four guns to carry thither all that would be necessary for the longest resistance. The event has shown that she could get in ; must he have divined that imprudence would put her in the power of the enemy ? It is said that she ought not to have been sent alone ; it is easy to say this but it was not so easy to do otherwise. For a long time the condition of our marine has been such that an expedition could not be undertaken the instant the occasion offered ; time is necessary to make preparations, and if the fleet which left Brest under the orders of M. du Perier was intended, as is believed, to come to our aid, then it is evident that the Minister neglected nothing to save us from the misfortune which has overtaken us. It was known in France that this was merely an enterprise of one colony against another, that England had not yet sent out any fleet (for that which went started only very late). One, therefore, could not imagine that the Vigilant would be taken and that we should surrender so soon. Thus, on slight reflection, it is clear that the Minister is not in the least to blame, and that it is unjust to charge that his prudence deserted him on this occasion. It is the more blameworthy to think this of him since the fortifications of Louisbourg are the product of his wise insight, and he has always endeavoured to keep up a colony whose importance he realized. Is it reasonable to imagine that he has wished to lose the product of so much care and expense?

In saying all this I have paid only the respect which I owe to truth.

Adieu, my dear friend ; love me well always, and rely upon the fondest return and the liveliest gratitude.

I am, etc.

                             B. L. N.

At .  .  . August 28th, 1745