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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



By John Humphreys 

October 15, 1964

(Fortress of Louisbourg Report Number H F 5)



In their original form the gun-platforms of the Royal Battery appear to have been of a continuous rectangular type, running the whole length of the faces in which embrazures were cut, and extending similarly the length of the crenellated walls of the flanks. By 1736 these original platforms were reported to be entirely rotten. [1] In addition, part of the platform on the left flank was subsiding, necessitating a raising operation . [2] The "proces verbal" of a visit to the battery in December of that year makes no reference to these defects, however, [3] and Le Normant, writing to the Minister in the same month, only noted that the boards of the platform were not as well conserved as those of other batteries. [4] Nonetheless Le Normant took the precaution of amassing three hundred boards of "bois franc" to replace those of the platform that might rot, and this action won the Minister's approval. [5]

Le Normant's forethought was fortunate, for, in 1738 some of the platform boards were reported to be rotten, and Le Normant had by that time five hundred boards of "bois franc" in provision in case of need. [6] No action appears to have been taken, however, and in 1739 the platform of the Royal Battery was reported to be completely out of service.[7] In 1740 Forant repeated that it was necessary to re-wood the platform, the side-planks of which were rotten. [8] Forant proposed to remedy this defect and to raise the whole platform three of four pied by using earth fill, thus placing the whole battery "à barbette". This project did not meet with the approval of Verrier, who pointed out that such an operation would increase the height of the interior wall of the platform from four pied to eight, thus "blinding" the barracks building and rendering snow removal from the pathway between the barracks and the platform extremely difficult, the snow having to be thrown eight pied up to the platform before it could be expelled from the battery through the embrazures.[9]

From later plans of the battery (Figure 18) it does not appear that Forant's project for the raising of the platform was carried into effect, but apparently some repair work was done on the platform during 1740, for at the end of October of that year Bigot reported to the Minister that the platform was not at that time entirely finished, [10] and in November Sabatier wrote that the "solage" of the platform of the two faces, being entirely rotten, had been set up again. [11]

The platforms of the battery are not mentioned again until 1744, when two items concerning them were included in the provisional toisé of the work done by the entrepreneur Muiron during that year. [12] These items were as follows:

Total length of three sleepers ...............................  49pi.-0
Width ..........................................................................8pi.-9 

                                                                                      t.  p. po.
"L" ...........................................................................  2-4-0 
                                                                                                          6- 0-0 
 "L" ..........................................................................  2-1-6

These two items appear to refer to the construction of different parts of the same five platforms.

It should be noted that in the plans proposed for the completion of the work at the Royal Battery during 1745 (Figure 10 (B)), the platforms on the two flanks and those of the éperon appear in trapezoidal form rather than in the previous rectangular configuration. It is probable that the new platforms of the left flank [13] were still under construction when the battery was occupied by New England forces in 1745.[14]

When an inspection of the Royal Battery was made by the French in 1749, it was found that the platform of the two faces was completely out of service, having had no maintenance since 1745, [15] and 205 square toises of three-pouce cherrywood boards [sic type of birch] were estimated necessary for its re-establishment [16] In 1751 Franquet drew up his own estimation of the cost of constructing pine and cherrywood [sic type of birch] platforms for the battery, and drew up a detailed account of the materials that should be held in provision for the construction of these platforms. [17] In these estimations, all of which are reproduced in the Research Notes Appendix to this Report, exact details of the platforms' dimensions are given, and it is specifically stated that the platforms of the two large faces and the éperon covered totally the terre-plain of the battery, in such a way that there was no banquette from one embrazure to the next. The platforms of the flanks, by contrast, were trapezoidal in form, and a drawing of one such, platform is given in the estimation, and reproduced in the Research Notes Appendix.

No further mention of the platforms is made until August 1755, when Drucour informed the Minister that he had, on Salvert's advice, left twelve cannon at the Royal Battery, and had remade the platform from end to end so that, if need arose, the guns could be passed onto the flank which covered "all that part of the roadstead where the vessels anchor" - i.e., presumably the left flank, which covered the northeast branch of the harbour. [18] No plan of this work exists at Ottawa, but apparently the platform of the battery was left in existence even after the garrison troops were withdrawn from the battery in 1759, [19] for Drucour was alarmed that the enemy might seize the Royal Battery with its platform intact after the landing of the British in 1758, and gave Desgouttes instructions to have it destroyed. [20] No mention of the platform is made in the preliminary British report on the battery in August 1758.[21]



1. AC C11B V.18 ff.43-46v, St. Ovide to Minister, 30 October 1736.

2. AC C11B V.18 ff.289-294, Sabatier, 6 November 1736.

3. AC C11B V.18 ff.131-131v, Sabatier, 4 December 1736.

4. AC C11B V.18 ff.122-125v, Le Normant to Minister, 20 December 1736.

5. AC B V.65 ff.465-466v, Minister to Le Normant, 3 May 1737.

6. AC C11B V.20 ff.62-72, Bourville and Le Normant to Minister, 24 October 1738.

7. AC C11B V.21 ff.09-12v, Forant and Bigot to Minister, 30 October 1739.

8. AC C11B V.22.ff.27-28, Forant to Minister, 8 February 1740.

9. Ibid.

10. AC C11B V.22 ff.190-196v, Bigot to Minister, 30 October 1740.

11. AC C11B V.22 ff.243-245, Sabatier to Minister, 7 November 1740.

12. AFO DFC Am. Sept. Ordre No.202, Verrier, 30 October 1744.

13. See this Report, Section II A.

14. A Journal of the Late Siege by the Troops from North America against the French at Cape Breton, the City of Louisbourg ..." etc., James Gibson.

15. AC C11B V.f28 ff.298-302, Boucher to Minister, 24 July 1749.

16. AC C11B V.28 ff.303-320, Boucher, 30 August 1749.

17. AC C11B V.31 ff.157-172v, with Franquet's letter to the Minister, of 14 December 1751.

18. AC C11B V.35 ff.84-87, Drucour to Minister, 25 August 1755.

19. See this Report, Section III

20. AN Marine Ser.B4 v.80 f.116v, Drucour to Desgouttes, 3 June 1758.

21. CO 5 v.53 (MG.11) pp.136-153, J. H. Bastide, 13 August 1758, in J. Amherst's letter to the Board of Trade and Plantations, 28 August 1758.