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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


Extracts of Matters of Historical Interest from "The Huissier, News For and About the Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff" By The Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff


(September 13, 2006)


The following is an extract from Ken Donovan’s article, Germans in Cape Breton, 1713-1758. Copies of the entire article will be placed in the staff lounges.

On 28 August 1758 Brigadier General Jeffrey Amherst, commander of the British forces during the second siege of Louisbourg, was aboard his flagship in Louisbourg harbour. "My intention", he wrote to Brigadier General Whitmore, "is that every German inhabitant of this Island (most of whom are on board) should be sent to Lunenburg. Those the few, who don't like to go, to be sent to France except such as you may like to continue in the Town of Louisbourg. Some may be of service." Judging by the hundreds of Germans who lived in Cape Breton during the French and British occupations, the Germans proved to be of considerable service. When Louisbourg was captured in June 1758, 59 German civilians, including 15married couples with their children and two single men, were among the captured people that Amherst sent to Lunenburg.

Who were the Germans during the 18th Century? Since Germany did not become a country until the late 1860's, the designation "German" refers not so much to one nationality as to any person who spoke German in Switzerland or in any other of the Western European states such as Saxony, Bavaria and Prussia, to name only a few.

Most of the German-speaking people in Louisbourg were Swiss since they had been recruited as part of the Karrer Regiment. The regiment had been established in 1719 by Franz Adam Karrer, a Swiss officer in the service of the King of France. Some 403 soldiers of the Karrer Regiment were sent to Louisbourg between 1720 and 1745. Most of the soldiers of the Karrer Regiment at Louisbourg spoke German. What was it like to be German speaking and Protestant in a French Catholic colony? New France was a theocracy: there was a union between church and state in Ile Royale as throughout France. For the most part, the soldiers of the Karrer Regiment remained separate and distinct from their fellow soldiers in the garrison. The Swiss had their own uniforms, justice system, administrative routines, accommodations, canteen, and laundry.

Recent discoveries of new evidence regarding the Swiss at Louisbourg offer some insights into Swiss behaviour. On 9 June 1745 Captain Thomas Waldron, a member of the New Hampshire forces in the siege of Louisbourg, wrote to his father: "Last night two Swisers deserted. Say that we should have had the town Er this had we kept on firing". One of two Swiss who deserted on 8 June was Anthony Glazier. In deserting the French side and helping the English, Glazier maintained that he hoped "to better himself". Upon his escape, Glazier was escorted to General William Pepperrell, commander of the New England troops, and reported on the state and condition of the French within the walls and also on the numbers of the French forces. Glazier took an active part in capturing the Royal Battery by providing information and “firing the mortar with his own hands”.

Within five years of deserting the French forces at Louisbourg, Glazier, a resident of Boston with a new wife and children, offered a pitiful spectacle. In a petition to the Council of Massachusetts, Glazier stated that he had "forfeited all hope of reconciliation with His nation". To make matters worse, Glazier maintained that he "is now in a Starving Condition with a wife & family without acquaintance Friends or any Great assistance nor even any work whereby to support his helpless family". Glazier must have made an impression on the councillors, since they allowed him five pounds out of the public treasury. Three years later, he appeared again before the Council of Massachusetts seeking further public support. A deserter from his fellow Swiss, Glazier appeared equally isolated and lonely in New England.

Like Glazier, Balthazar Muttart was another German who had been in the French service at Louisbourg and who eventually went on to join the British forces in 1758. Muttart was presumably a member of the Voluntaires Etrangres, a regiment composed largely of Swiss at Louisbourg. A native of the village of Stembach in Alcase, Muttart came to Louisbourg in 1757 as a stonecutter to serve in the garrison and help to repair the fortifications. After the capture of Louisbourg in 1758,Muttart was obviously given the choice of joining the British army or being deported to France. Muttart enlisted in the Royal American Regiment and went on to Quebec to fight under General James Wolfe at the Plains of Abraham. After the peace treaty in 1763,Muttart married Marguerite Holleri in the parish of St. Charles, Quebec, in 1764. Marguerite was of German origin, a native of the village of Bitche in Lorraine, France. The village of Bitche was approximately 25 miles from Muttart's home village of Stembach. Muttart eventually joined Samuel Holland's surveying party and settled on lot 28 in Tyron Prince Edward Island. Balthazar Muttart's descendants still reside in Prince Edward Island today.

Since Muttart was an Alsatian and Louisbourg had been captured, it was understandable that he did not have a strong sense of loyalty to the French crown. Besides, there were other Alsatians in General Jeffrey Amherst's forces besieging Louisbourg, including Anton Heinrich (Anthony Henry), a printer by trade. Like Muttart, Henry settled in Atlantic Canada, eventually becoming the publisher of the Nova Scotia Gazette and Weekly Chronicle in Halifax for most of the time from 1758 to 1800. The Alsatians who lived in Halifax "regarded him as a kinsman".

Other German-speaking members of the Voluntaires Etrangeres apparently shared the same sentiment as Balthazar Muttart. "Part of the Officers of the garrison of Louisbourg are here on their parole for the winter. They are not Frenchmen, but Germans hired ... to defend the place", reported the Boston News Letter in January 1759. "They are full of money;" the paper continued, "being paid three years pay before they would enter into the service. As soon as the English arrived, they broke open the military chest, and took the money. There are between 30 and 40 of the better sort who have servants to dress and wait on them".