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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 earliest existing estimate of the artillery to be installed at the Royal Battery is a document dated May 1723, and entitled "Estat de l'Artillerie et des ustanciles nécessaires pour les Batteries de L'Isle Royale".[1] It calls for twenty-four 36-pounder cannon for the Royal Battery, with a corresponding number of carriages and artillery utensils. The next mention of guns at the Royal Battery, however, does not occur until 1728, when De Mezy reported to the Minister that thirty-three 36pounders with their carriages had been mounted at the battery during the last summer. With the extension of the left wing of the battery to form a seven-embrazure flank in 1731,[2] seven more 36-pounders.becamo necessary to complete the battery's armament, and these were ordered in October 1733, along with three brass twelve-inch mortars for the left flank mortar battery.[3] In the same month wood was taken into provision for the construction of four 36-pounder gun carriages on the new left flank, and for mortar beds for the Royal Battery.[4] The seven cannon requested in 1733 were sent from France in the ship L'Heros in April 1734,[5] and were mounted and pointed on the left flank of the battery during the same year.[6] Although 300 twelve-inch mortar shells also formed part of the cargo of the Heros, there is no evidence that the three-mortars requested in 1733 for the left flank of the battery were ever mounted, since the request for them was repeated in 1736 and 1741.[8]

During 1736 Le Normant reported to the Minister that most of the gun-carriages at the Royal Battery were in good condition, although those constructed of elm-wood needed repair. This operation was delayed because the battery was occupied by workers throughout the summer, and cluttered with stocked materials. Le Normant consequently planned to construct the necessary axles and wheels for the carriages during the winter, [9] and in the spring of 1737 the Minister approved this undertaking.[10]

Reports dated 1737, 1739, and 1741 give the number of 36-pounder cannon at the battery as forty, [11] presumably distributed as follows:

  3 on right flank 
  7 on left flank 
15 on right face 
on left face 

The report for 1743, however, reduces the number of 36-pounders to thirty-nine[12] while that for 1744 places the number at twenty-eight. [13] A letter written the same day as the 1744 report explains this reduction by noting that eleven 36-pounders had been taken from the Royal Battery and mounted at the Batterie de la Grave.[14] Confirmation of the fact that some of the Royal Batter's 36-pounders  were removed between 1743 and 1745 is provided by the many accounts given by New England troops of the battery's armament at its capture. Although many of these reports give the number of "42-pounders"[15] as thirty or even thirty-six,[16] the majority of the more reliable sources agree on assigning the battery twenty-eight 36-pounders, [17] and this number appears also in French accounts of the battery's condition at the time of its abandonment. [18]

The 36-pounders thus formed the core of the battery's offensive armament, but throughout the early 1740's various efforts were made in the direction of changing or supplementing this core. In October 1739 Forant and Bigot requested 4-pounder guns for mounting on the towers of the Royal Battery, and in the same year Verrier reported that the 36-pounders on the faces of the battery were too strong for the merlons, and suggested their replacement b y 24-pounders, which would require two men less per gun to operate. [19] No action seems to have been taken on this suggested reduction in the calibre of the battery's main armament, nor indeed were the requested 4-pounders immediately forthcoming, for in October 1740 Bigot, in a statement of cannons necessary for the defence of Louisbourg, gave high priority to those for the towers of the Royal Battery, since in, his opinion they were the most useful for the defence of the Port. [20] A report on the battery's artillery, dated 1741, stated that at that time twelve 4-pounders were mounted on the towers, [21] but in the next report, dated 1743, these guns are not mentioned, [22] a circumstance which casts doubt on the assumption that they were in fact ever mounted.

A similar doubt clouds the question of the mounting of mortars at the Royal Battery. Although several plans of this period (Figures 9, 10 (A), and 10 (B) show mortars mounted on the left flank extension, there is considerable evidence that no such weapons were ever in place at the Royal Battery - specifically the requests, dated 1733, 1736, and 1741, for three 12-inch mortars for this flank.[23] A report dated 1744 states that one 12-inch and one nine-inch mortar were then at the Royal Battery,[24] but Mr. T. Le. Goff's report on the artillery of Louisbourg has shown that this document is more in the nature of a description of the projected artillery requirements of Louisbourg than an account of the actual state equipment at hand, [25] and thus it cannot be accepted as concrete evidence. Mortar bombs were found at the Royal Battery immediately after its abandonment by the French, but no mention of mortars being mounted at the battery appears either in the French report of the evacuation [26] or the New England accounts of the capture of the battery. [27] The only exception to this rule is Bradstreet's report, on his initial inspection of the battery, that the mortars had been "carried off" - although this might merely have been an assumption on his part, arising from his expectation of finding mortars mounted at the battery.

The only supplementary artillery found at the Royal Batted at the time of its capture in 1745 were two cannon referred to in New England accounts as "18-pounders".[28] These, together with the twenty-eight "42-pounders", were spiked, and their carriages had been damaged by the French prior to their withdrawal. During the course of the siege, however, they were progressively brought back into operation by the besiegers, as described in Section III of this Report: At the conclusion of the siege Hopson and Bastide reported that there were twenty-two "iron 42-pounders" and two "broken cannons" of unspecified calibre at the Royal Battery. [29]This reduction in numbers from the original twenty-eight "42 pounders" is explained. by the fact that during the siege several of the Royal Battery's cannon were removed by the attackers for use at batteries closer to the town. [30]

During the first winter of English occupation (1745-1746), Pepperrell and Warren, with the concurrence of Governor Shirley, decided to "dismantle" the Royal Battery of all its heavy cannon, in order to prevent its use against the town in the event of a surprise attack by the French.[31] In the following spring, however, it was decided to remount the battery's cannon. [32] Possibly the dismounting of the battery's heavy artillery in the autumn, and its remounting in the spring became an annual practice during the English occupation for a letter from Pepperrell and Warren to Newcastle dated 29 January 1747 (OS) refers to the Royal Battery as being "dismantled of the heavy cannon".[33] The last available English account of the battery's equipment, dated 27 September 1747 (OS) gives its armament, as twenty-three "42-pounders" and four 4-pounders. [34]

Accounts of the Royal Battery's artillery equipment and requirements are vague for the early period of the French re-occupation of Louisbourg. An "Etat" drawn up by Ste. Marie, the "Commissaire d'artillerie" on 4 February 1749 noted that twenty-eight 36-pounders were needed for the battery. [35] On 12 July 1749 (OS), when the town was returned to the French, Hopson and Bastide drew up a report certifying that the artillery in the torn and the batteries was "all in order", but gave no details of the number or calibre of weapons mounted.[36] The fist specific mention of the battery's armament following the re-occupation is a 1751 account which states that at that time the battery mounted twenty-four 24 pounders, [37] possibly an erroneous report since at no other time did the battery ever mount guns Of this calibre. A more concrete form of evidence is the recommendation of the Minister, dated 15 March 1752, that six to eight 36-pounders were to be left as the sole armament of the Royal Battery, with provision for their rapid conveyance into the city by sea .[38] 36-pounders were certainly in position at the battery during 1752, for they were used in salutes fired in April and May of that year, [39] and during the summer of 1753 [40]

In all probability the cannons used for these services were the six which the Minister had recommended be left in position at the battery in 1752, a supposition supported by the face that in July 1755 Drucour reported that only six cannons remained at the battery.[41] However, later in the summer of that year, following the advice of Salvert and Drucour, six additional cannon were placed at the Royal Battery, making a total of twelve 36-pounders. [42] This equipment apparently remained in the battery until the summer of 1757, when Bois de la Mothe had all the guns removed, sending six to the Island Battery and six to the Light House Battery.[43] The Royal Battery was thus devoid of artillery when the English occupied it in 1758, and apparently remained in this condition until its demolition in 1760.

NOTE: This subsection should be read in conjunction with Section III of this Report.



1. Arch. Maritime, Port de Rochefort L.101 ff.609-610, Unsigned, May 1723 .

2. See Section I of this Report, p.10.

3. AC C11B V.14 ff.225-226v, Le Normant, 19 October 1733.

4. AC C11B V.14 ff.165-167v, Le Normant to Minister, 22 October 1733. .

5. Arch. Maritime, Port de Rochefort L.120 ff.267-269, Maurepas, 13 April 1734.

6. AC B V,63 ff.543v-547, Minister to Verrier, 25 April 1733.

7. AC C11B V.18 ff.226-227v, Le Normant, 20 October 1736.

8. AC C11B V.23 ff.46-48, Duquesnel to Minister, 19 October 1741.

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

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

11. AC C11B V.18 ff.199-227, Sabatier, 15 November 1737 / AC C11B V.18 ff.193-223, Sabatier and Le Normant, 15 December 1737 / AN Marine Sér.G V.51 ff.332-333, Unsigned, 22 June 1739 / AC C11B V.23 f.178, Unsigned, Undated 1741.

12. AC C11B V.26 ff.219-224, Unsigned, 20 June 1743.

13. AC C11B V.26 ff.59v-60, Duchambon, 10 November 1744.

14. AC C11B V.26 ff.61-68v, Duchambon to Minister, 10 November 1744.

15. The French 36-pounder was the approximate equivalent of the English 42-pounder. See T. Le Goff's report on artillery at Louisbourg, and Parkman's description of the 1745 siege.

16. A Journal of the Late ... Siege by the Troops from North America against the French at Cape Breton,  the City of Louisbourg, etc. pp. 33-34 / Louisbourg Journals, Ed.L.E. de Forest, First Journal (Anon.) p.18.

17. Louisbour Journal, 1745, Ed. L. E. de Forest, Fifth Journal (Anon.), p.75 / An Accurate Journal & Account of the Proceedings of the New England Land Forces During the Late Expedition Against the French Settlement on Cape Breton to the Time of the Surrender of Louisbourg, p.12 / Loiusbourg Journals 1745, Ed. L.E. de Forest, Eighth Journal Anon., p.113 /  CO 5 V.753 pp.161-162, William Vaughan, Undated / CO 5 V.900,ff.240-247, Shirley to Newcastle, 28 October 1745 (0S).

18. The Anonymous Letter of An Inhabitant of Louisbourg, 1745 . Ed. G. M. Wrong, p.30 /AC C11B V.27, Unsigned, Undated 1745.

19. AC C11B V.21 ff.09-12v, Forant to Bigot, 30 October 1739 / AC C11B V.21 ff.274-281, Verrier, Undated 1739.

20. AC C11B V.22 ff.194-189v, Bigot to Minister, 30 October 1740.

21. AC C11B V.23 f.178, Unsigned, Undated 1741.

22. AC C11B V.26 ff.219-224, Unsigned, 20 June 1743.

23. See this Report, this Section (II 0), p.1.

24. AC C11B V.26 ff.59v-60, Duchambon, 10 November 1744.

25. See T. Le Goff's Report on the artillery at Louisbourg.

26. See this Report, Section III, pp.

27. See Footnote 17 of this subsection, and CO 5 V.900 ff.183-185, Pepperrell to Shirley, 12 May 1745 (0S).

28. CO 5 V.900 ff.183-185, Pepperrell to Shirley, 12 May 1745 (0S).

29. AC C11B V.28 f.109, Hopson and Bastide, 15 May 1749 (0S)./ CO 5 V.44 ff.334-335, Bastide, 26 June 1745 (OS).

30. See this Report, Section III, p.

31. Transcript of CO/PAC Nova Scotia A27 pp.223-246, Warren to Newcastle, 23 November 1745 (OS).

32. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 6th.Ser. V. X, 1899, p.3-66, Unsigned, 10 March 1745/6 (0S).

33. Transcript of CO/PAC Nova Scotia A28 pp.1-11, Pepperrell and Warren to Newcastle, 29 January 1747 (03).

34. WO34 V.101 f.139, Unsigned, 27 September 1747 (OS).

35. AC C11B V.28 ff.283-285v, Ste-Marie, 4. February 1749.

36. Transcript of CO/PAC Nova Scotia A34 pp.156-165, Hopson and Bastide, 12 July 1749 (OS).

37. AC C11A V.126 Piece 88, Franquet, 20 November 1751 / Min. Guerre, Com. Tech Génie, Art .14 Carton 1, Pièce 38.

38. AC B V.95 ff.269-271v, Minister to Raymond and Prevost, 15 March 1752.

39. AC C11B V.32 ff.309-312v, Ste. Marie, 30 September 1752.

40. Service Historique de l'Armée (Vincennes) Sér A1 Reg. 3393, Pièce T4, Raymond to Minister, 20 June 1753. / AC C11B v.33 ff.67-68, Raymond to Minister.

41. AC C11B V. 35 ff.350-351, Drucour to Minister, 6 July 1755.

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

43. An Marine Sér. B4 V.76 ff.20-25, Unsigned, Undated 1757 / AC C11C V.16 Pièce 13, Unsigned / (The reference to thrity-six cannons in these two documents is obviously a mistake, since the Royal Battery had only thirty-two embrazures at this time. Evidently it is a confusion of the calibre number with the number of guns.) Archives du Service Historique de l'Armée, Sér. Al Art. 3457 Pièce 89 bis p.232, Pontleroy, 22 Play 1757 / CO 5 V.53 ff.37-38, Unsigned, 1758.