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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)



As originally planned, the Royal Battery was to have had thirty embrazures for cannon, all of them on the two large seaward faces, since the original specifications for the battery did not envisage flanks. This, is shown in the "dévis" according to which the earliest construction at the battery was undertaken,[1] and by the earliest plan of the battery in the possession of the Restoration Section at Ottawa, which is reproduced as Figure 1 in the Plans Appendix to this Report. Verrier's scheme for the addition of flanks originally anticipated the establishment of two embrazures on each flank, [2] but as explained in another section of this Report, the number, of embrasures was later changed to three per flank. [3] In the case of the left flank, ah additional four embrazures were added, raising the total on that flank to seven, as described earlier in this section.[4] Thus, between its occupation in 1732 and its first comprehensive overhaul in 1744, the distribution of embrazures at the battery was as follows:

In 1739, however, Verrier asserted that the 36-pounder guns on the faces of the battery were of too strong a discharge for the merlons, and recommended their replacement by 24-pounders. [6] This consideration, and the dangerously low elevation of the embrazures on the two main faces led Forant to propose, early in 1740, that the whole platform be raised by three or four pied.[7] His plan did not envisage a proportional elevation of the walls, but rather the simple filling of the embrasures to the new height of the platform, the whole battery being thus rendered "à barbette", or, alternately, the forming of embrazures at the new platform level by the construction of turf merlons. Verrier objected to the whole plan on the grounds that the raised platform would cause serious inconvenience to the walk-way and the barracks buildings, [8] and consequently no action appears to have been taken on Forant's suggestions.

Duquesnel took up the problem of the weakness of the merlons during his term as Governor, and, as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the battery, ordered Boucher to level all the embrazures, in order that they might be reconstructed in smaller number.[9] Verrier reported in 1744 that Duquesnel's scheme was apparently to take some of the cannon from the Royal Battery in order to mount them at the Grave Battery, which was unarmed, and noted that the Governor could have accomplished the transfer of the guns without carrying out the destruction and rebuilding of the embrazures, which Verrier considered unnecessary. [10]

Although the work occasioned great expense, [11] the modification of the embrasures on the flanks and faces and the construction of the éperon [12]were completed by the end of 1744, with the exception of some work on the left flank. [13] The plans for the execution of this project, reproduced in the plans Appendix as Figures 10 (A) and 10 (B) show the work to have consisted of the following modifications:

A11 these changes permitted a strengthening of merlons by increasing the distance between the edges of the embrazures. This is best seen by a comparison of the following figures in the Plans Appendix: Figure 10 (A) with Figure 10(B); Figure 2 with figure 19; Figures 15 and 16 with Figure 18.

English journals and diaries made during the siege year 1745 give the numbers of embrazures at the battery variously as forty, thirty-two, and thirty-three, and can therefore not be taken as trustworthy.[17] The Accurate Journal, however, mentions that two flanks of two guns each (i.e., obviously the right flanks of the battery itself and of the éperon) point towards the town, and a line of ten guns (i.e., the right face of the battery) against the Island Battery, thus seemingly confirming the account given above of the reduction in the number of the embrazures.[18] This evidence is confirmed by Franquet's 1751 report on the Royal Battery, which gives the following description of the number of embrazures at the battery: [19]

[A] It is obvious that Franquet has made a slip here. The left flank was the long flank facing the northeast branch of the harbour, the right the short one facing the town. In the face of the evidence of all plans and documents quoted in this section, the numbers here should clearly be reversed, giving the right flank two embrazures and the left flank six.

In this condition (represented by Figures 18 and 19), the embrazures of the battery appear to have remained until its demolition in 1758.



1. AC C11B V.6 ff.298-308x, Verville, 8 August 1723.

2. See Plan Appendix, Figure 2.

3. See this Report, Section I.

4. See this Report, Sections I and II A.

$. See Plans Appendix, Figures 7 and 9.

6. AC C11B V.21 ff.274-281, Verrier, Undated 1739.

7. See this Report, Section II H.

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

9. AFO DFC Am. Sept. Ordre No.209, Verrier to Minister, 18 November, 1744 / The Anonymous letter of an Inhabitant to Louisbourg, 1745, Ed. G. M. Wrong, p.38.

10. AFO DFC Am. Sept. Ordre No.209, Verrier to Minister, 18 November, 1744,

11. AC C11B V.27 ff.45-46, Verrier (?), 28 April 1745.

12. See this Report, Section 11 G.

13. AFO DFC Am. Sept. Ordre No. 209, Verrier to Minister, 18 November 1744.

14. See this Report, Section II G.

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

16. See this Report, Section II A.

17. Louisbourg Journals 1745 , Ed. L.E. de Forest, First Journal (Anonymous ), p. 52 / Diary Kept at the Siege of Louisbourg March 15, August 14, 1745, J. Emerson, p.2o /  Louisbourg Journals 1745, Ed.L.E. de Forest, Seventh Journal, Mygate and Lamb, p.104.

18. An Accurate Journal and Account of the Proceedings of the New England and Forces during the Late Expedition Againat the French Settlements on Cape Breton To the Time of the Surrender of Louisbourg, p.13, 27.

19. AC C11B V.31 ff.157-172v, Franquet, 15 December 1751.