Website Design and Content © by Eric Krause,
Krause House Info-Research Solutions (© 1996)
All Images © Parks Canada Except Where Noted Otherwise
Report/Rapport © Parks Canada / Parcs Canada --- Report Assembly/Rapport de l'assemblée © Krause House Info-Research Solutions
Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada
THE CONSTRUCTION AND OCCUPATION OF THE BARRACKS OF THE KING'S BASTION
(Fortress of Louisbourg
Report H A 13)
CHATEAU ST. LOUIS
Until the writing of this report, the barracks was called the "Chateau St. Louis," and I thought it would be appropriate to quote, in the introduction, the first time the name was used for the building. To my surprise, I could not locate a single reference to the name in the documents. I went back over every likely one dealing with the construction to see if there was a mention. There was none. Where, then, did the term come from, since it had been used from the beginning of the reconstruction? A survey of early works indicated that the only time this term was used was in J. S. McLennan's history, Louisbourg From Its Foundation to Its Fall (London 1918). On pages 85 and 86 he used this name for the barracks while giving a general description of the town, but elsewhere in the book he used the more common term "citadel." Other historians of the Fortress, both before and after this time employed, without exception, the term "citadel," and McLennan in his earlier work A Notable Ruin, Louisbourg (1909) also used only the word "citadel".
In the eighteenth century several expressions were used for the building, and by far the most common was "barracks". On the plans of the building is the"barracks'' and even on the famous Verrier view of 1731, with the building dominating the town, that area is identified as "The Barracks and the King's Bastion". In the documents a variety of terms are used. Formal correspondence dealing with work accounts for the construction use "barracks" when they do not specify a particular part of the building I often a distinction is made between the barracks and the wings. In other documents not dealing specifically with construction, other appellatives are used. The term ''Fort" usually refers to the bastion as well as the barracks, with at least one reference to the ''barracks of the fort." The word "Château." is used in a few documents, especially those dealing with the paying of homage to the governor for land grants; it is obviously a word used in a formula for this procedure, since it is employed even before the building was constructed. "Chateau'' also appears in trial records as a term used by some people. The concept of ''Citadel" appears in a number of ways. One plan is entitled "King's Bastion serving as a Citadel". Another reference is to the "principal fort or Citadel." The term is used almost exclusively by the English when referring to the building or the area during their periods of occupation in the town.
Which of these terms is most appropriate for the building? A survey of contemporary texts gives some indication of the technical meanings of these expressions in the eighteenth century. A "fort" is considered in two senses; one as a tower at the end of a jetty for protection of a port, and another as a strategically placed outpost, some of which are square and some pentagonal. "Chateau", all the sources agree refers to earlier turreted fortifications, and one of the sources reports that if the ''chateau" is enclosed in a town, it can serve the function of a citadel or redoubt. A "citadel", we are told, has from four to six bastions and is usually on a height of land. It has the dual function of protecting the town from the enemy as well as controlling the town in case of revolt, and is hence fortified on both sides.
None of these terms adequately defines the peculiar arrangement of barracks and bastion which was found in Louisbourg. The barracks in Louisbourg did not contain just sleeping quarters, but housed various other functions as well. Throughout the entire French period a large chapel was in use in the building, and the governor occupied the south wing for all but six years. Two of the basement rooms served as a bakery until 1732, an armoury was utilized until 1733, and guard-rooms until 1740. Two functions were added to the building after construction: a prison in 1741, and a school for cannoneers in 1739.
Barracks were still a relatively new feature of French military life in the eighteenth century. A royal ordinance of 1716 is among the first documents to mention them, and a program of construction began only in 1719. The latter was not a success and was halted in 1724, so that rented dwellings remained the most common type of military housing for soldiers. The texts cited in the bibliography merely give a general definition of barracks, saying that they served as residences for officers and soldiers; some refer only to this function, while others state that barracks could also contain a hospital, workshops, boutiques, storerooms, a school room, bakery, "discipline" room, laundry, and even a rehearsal room for music. In the Louisbourg documents the terms "corp de casernes" and "casernes" are both used for the building, and the distinction between the two is only made in James' English dictionary which says the former is the ''range of buildings called barracks" and the latter are "large buildings for soldiers of the garrison to live in." The first term seems to be more inclusive. References in Louisbourg documents use both terms: Saint Ovide, "M. le Verrier a fait mettre en estat le Pavilion du Corps des casernes... "Le Pavillon des Cazernes que j'habite..."; De Forant, "renfermé dans les casernes"; Desherbiers, "officiers loges dans les casernes"; Memoire au sujet du Conseil Superieur, ''le gouverneur loge dans les Casernes.. "
One unanswered question is why did McLennan use the term "Château St-Louis" for the barracks? It may be that he did come across that name in his research, but more likely he interpolated the name from that which had been given to the chapel, so that in effect, the "Chapelle St-Louis" grew to become the "Château St-Louis", a Louisbourg counterpart to the Château St. Louis in Quebec City.