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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 first suggestion that turfing might be used to protect the walls of the Royal Battery from the ravages of the weather apparently came from St. Ovide, Le Normant, and Verrier during 1734. [1] The Minister gave his approval to this project early in 1735, although stipulating in the same letter that the walls of the battery's barracks should not be included in the turfing operation. In October of that year Verrier reported that work would be began an the earthing and turfing of the "summits" of the Royal Battery embrazures to a height of two pied. [2] It is not clear exactly what was meant by this report, since the embrazures of the Royal Battery were open and thus had no summits as such - it is possible that Verrier was referring to the tops of the merlons.

In the spring of 1736 Verrier informed the Minister that he considered it necessary to cover the "summits" of the embrazures in a manner similar to that employed on the towers of the battery during the previous year - i.e., a wooden roofing.[3] This also was given the minister's approval, but apparently no immediate action was taken to pat the plan into effect, as it was reported to the Minister in November of the same year that Verrier had had a thick bed of mortar laid on the "summits" of the embrazures without applying earthing.[5] Sabatier, who made this report, was of the opinion that the application of the mortar was merely an experiment, and that it would eventually be found necessary to apply the turfing.[6] Verrier was in fact probably postponing the operation of turfing in the hopes that he might be able to carry out his alternate project for wooden coverings.[7] St.Ovide and Le Normant thought, however, that before this step should be taken, the results of the turfing of merlons at other Louisbourg batteries should be observed.[8] Verrier seems to have come around to their opinion, for on 10 November 1736 he reported that he intended to cover the "summits" of the Royal Battery embrazures with earth and turf in order to preserve the masonry.[9] In addition he pointed out that it would not be necessary at the Royal Battery to level ("razer") these summits by two pied as had been done at the Island Battery, the Royal Battery being less exposed to damage by sea-spray. He proposed, however, to level the summits of the following walls at the battery:

The rain had damaged the masonry summits of these walls, and Verrier intended to level off the degraded masonry and substitute turfing.[10]

This work was apparently carried out during 1737, for in October of that year the definitive toisé of the turfing of the "summits" of the merlons and walls of the battery was sent to the Minister. Verrier was of the opinion that the turfed masonry should withstand the ravages of the weather for several years. [11]

Although, as described under the portion of this Section dealing with rough-casting, [12] the walls of the battery were in a state of collapse by the mid-1740's, it was not until 1744 that the turfing was renewed. In that year all the parapets and merlons included in the two large faces, the éperon, the two batardeaux, the two profiles and the two flanks were returfed.[13]

After the re-occupation of the town by the French a renewal of the turfing on the merlons, walls, and parapets of the Royal. Battery was recommended. In this recommendation, made in 1749, the turfing is described as having "covered" the two faces, the éperon, the two flanks, the retours, the profiles of the covered-way and glacis, and the embtazures and merlons. Reference is also made to the fact that this turfing was in very poor condition, riot having been maintained by the English during their possession of the battery.[14] An estimation of the cost of repairing the turfing was made during the same year,[15] but there is no evidence that these repairs were in fact put into effect, although no doubt some reconstruction of the turfing was undertaken in accordance with the decision to render the battery defensible against a coup de main.[16]



1. AC B V.63 ff.543-547, Minister to Verrier, 25 April 1735.

2. AC C11B V.17 ff.252-260, Verrier to Minister, 28 October 1735.

3. AC B V.64 ff.488v-490, Minister to St. Ovide and Le Normant, 25 May 1736.

4. Ibid.

5. AC C11B V.18 ff.289-294, Sabatier to Minister, 6 November 1736.

6. Ibid.

7. AC C11B V.18 ff.11-15v, St. Ovide and Le Normant to Minister, 7 November 1736.

8. Ibid.

9. AC C11B V.18 ff.271-283, Verrier to Minister, 10 November 1736.

10. Ibid.

11. AC C11B V.19 ff.232-240, Verrier to Minister, 30 October 1737 / AC C11B V.19 ff.37-41v, St. Ovide and Le Normant to the Minister, 30 October 1737 / AC C11B,V.20 ff.209-216, Sabatier, 3 November 1738.

12. See this Report, Section II C.

13. AFO DFC Am. Sept. Ordre No.202, Verrier, 30 October 1744,/ Transcript of CO / PAC Nova Scotia NS A27 pp.263-270, J. Eliot, [1745?].

14. AC C11B V.28 ff.298-302, Boucher, 24 July 1749.

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

16. See Section III of this Report.