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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 evidence concerning guérites at the Royal Battery is largely cartographic. All available plans of the battery up to the year 1727 show what appear to be guérites  at three points on the battery's structure - one at the salient angle of the seaward faces, and one each at the shoulder angle where these fades joined the batardeau at the ditch, (Figures 1, 2, and 3.) As projected in an elevation of the battery drawn up in 1725, these guérites appear to have been of circular design, with a small domed roof surmounted by a fleur-de-lis (Figure 14). In later plane however, a polygon-design guérite is shown, with one loop-hole on each face and a conical roof (Figure 15). In the absence of evidence to the contrary it would be logical to assume that these projected guérites were to be constructed of masonry.

With the first plan for the extended six-embrazure left flank, dated 1727, the guérites on the shoulder angles vanish, presumably being thought superfluous, since the flanks themselves surveyed and swept the surrounding area (Figure 4). The salient angle guérite persists, however, on all plans of the battery from 1727 to.1745 (Figures 5, 8, and 10 (A)), except one (Figure 7): The fact that this guérite did actually exist during these years is confirmed by a detailed partial plan of the battery drawn in 1738 (Figure 8), which definitely shows a guérite at the salient angle. With the construction of an éperon at the salient angle of the battery in 1744, even this survivor disappears; and guérites do not appear again on plans of the battery (Figure 10 (B)).

Paradoxically, it is in the very year, that the plans cease to show guérites at the Royal Battery that the first documentary evidence for their existence occurs. In a provisional toisé of the work done at the Royal Battery by Muiron, drawn up by Verrier on 30 October 1744, one section is devoted to guérites , and a detailed description is given of  a wooden guérite costing 45 livres, three of which are projected for the Royal Battery. [1] However, there is no reason to suppose that these wooden sentry boxes were placed in the same position as the former guérites ; indeed, cartographic evidence invalidates such an assumption. (Figures 10 (B), 18, and 19).

The Samuel Green diary kept during the siege of 1745 does make a puzzling reference to "watch boxes" at the Royal Battery, but a closer examination (he calls them "made with stone and lime, some part of them... bombproof") indicates that he probably uses this term to describe the battery's towers. [2] The only other documentary reference to guérites at the Royal Battery occurs in a list of Boucher's papers made in August 1753. Under the heading "Plans and Designs", it includes "Plan and Elevation of a Guérite at the Royal Battery" and "Plan and Cross-section of a Guérite made at the Royal Battery".[3] No further details are provided, and thus it is impossible to know whether wooden sentry boxes of the original stone guérites are in question here. In the light of strong cartographic evidence, however, it is safe to conclude that no-built-in guérites existed at the Royal Battery after 1744.



1. AFO DFC Am. Sept. No. D'Ordre 202, Verrier, 30 October 1744.

2. Massachusetts Historical Society. Samuel A. Green - Diary Kept at the Siege of Louisbourg, M.H.S., 1909, XLII, 3 Ser. II, p.141, 16 June 1745 (0S).

3. AC C11A V.126 Pièce 62, Franquet, 27 August 1753.