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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)



The 1723 "dévis", the earliest with any real relevance to the actual construction of the Royal Battery, [1] gives the following details of the revetment of the seaward face, although there is no evidence that the work was proceeded with according to these specifications:

The first extant plan of the Royal Battery, on the other hand, shows (Figures 1, 11, and 14) a sea-wall with a 6:1 exterior slope, closed embrazures and the following scaled dimensions:

Since, however, it is evident that the battery was not actually constructed with closed embrazures, these dimensions, and those given in the 1723 "devis" are of little use.

There is little further documentary evidence for the dimensions of the seawalls, but some estimate may be gained from the scaled dimensions of the elevations and profiles showing the battery in what was probably its original constructed form (Figures 12 (A), 12 (B), 13, 15, and 16). Scaled dimensions from Figures 12 (A), 12 (B), and 16, which were taken from Flan 1726-3 designated "Pour servir au projet de 1727" are as follows:

The conformity between these scaled dimensions and those taken from Figures I, 11, and 14 should be noted. Identical dimensions are found in Figures 13 and 15.

Although from these measurements it would appear that the lower frontal lips of the embrazurea were on an average approximately twelve pied above the level of the beach in front of the battery, and were in turn surmounted by merlons six to eight pied high, a profile of a portion of the battery, taken for the establishment of stables in 1738 (Figure 8) and showing a cut-away view near the salient angle gives the height of the lips above the beach as only eight to a pied. This evidence adds weight, to Forant's contention in 1740 that the battery was vulnerable to escalade attack on its seaward side, the embrazures being, he asserted, only seven to eight pied above the beach-level. [3] This led to his project for an éperon and for the raising of the platform, the first of which was put into effect in 1744, [4] while the second was apparently abandoned. [5] Bigot corroborated Forant's information in 1740, writing that the elevation of the embrazure lips was only six to sever pied. [6] these extremely low figures are possibly explained by the fact that both Bigot and Forant probably drew their estimations from the height of the embrazures near the battery 's salient angle, where, because of the irregular elevation of the beach,[7] they were closest to ground level.[8]

Fortunately, a document exists which gives what may be regarded as an accurate statement of the definitive height of the seawall faces of the battery. This is the provisional toisé of the work done by the entrepreneur Muiron on the board revetting of the Royal Battery during 1744.[9] This gives the "reduced height" - i.e. , probably the average height from beach level - of the left face as follows:

For the right face the following dimensions are givens:

This evidence is corroborated by the statement in Roger Wolcott's Journal that the sea-wall of the battery was "about twelve feet high to the embrasures" in 1745. Journal of Roger Wolcott at the Siege of Louisbourg, Connecticut Historical Society, p. 154.

To sum up, at the time of the performance of the revetting - late 1744 - the seaward faces of the battery had an elevation, from beach level, of approximately 11 pied to the lips of the embrasures, and approximately 19.5 pied to the summit of the parapet. This would appear to be borne, out by scaled measurements taken from Figure 18, which represents an elevation of the battery taken in 1751, and by Franquet's observation (obviously estimative) in the same year that the battery was revetted on its seaward side by a wall twelve to fifteen pied high.[10]

Thus the basic height of the seawall and its merlonned parapet does not appear to have been changed throughout the course of the battery's history. Presuming - and there is no evidence to the contrary - that no drastic changes in its height were made between 1751 and 1758, the dimensions of the seawall from the time of its completion in 1728 until its demolition thirty years later may be taken as approximately:



1. AC C11B V.6 ff.298-308v, Verville, 8 August 1723. / See also this Report, Section I.

2. AC C11B V.6 ff.298-308v, Verville, 8 August 1723.

3. AC C11B V.22 ff:252 -252v,Verrier to Minister, 7 February 1740.

4. See this Report, Section II G.

5. See this Report, Section II H.

6. AC C11B V.22 ff.144-146, Bigot to Minister, 7 February 1740.

7. Attested to by Franquet in 1751, AC C11A V.126 Pièce 88, Franquet, 20 November 1751.

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

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

10. AC C11A V.126 Pièce 88, Franquet, 20 November 1751.