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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)



Masonry works in the Louisbourg area suffered severely from poor mortar and from the region's notorious climate. In order to preserve masonry for as long a period as possible without resorting to major repair work, four principle methods were used: turfing, rough-casting ("crepissage"), cramponning, and revetment in wood. Section, II B deals with the first of these methods, while this section reviews the use to which the remaining three were put at the Royal Battery.

Supplementary rough-casting was first applied to the masonry of the Royal Battery during the summer of 1736, when the battery's embrazures we're rough-cast to a height of two pied above their bibs or lips. At the same time the freestone of the edges of the embrasures was cramponned. In reporting the completion of this work, St. Ovide noted that the towers of the battery were in need of the same repair. [1] He also indicated that the merlons of the battery were in need of rough-casting. [2] Verrier, in a report written in the autumn of 1736, expanded on St. Ovide's account of the work done and the repairs necessary. He stated that all the freestone of the corners, bibs, genouillières, and tablettes of the merlons had been cramponned and sealed with lead, following the Minister's orders. [3] He also pointed out that the frosts and thaws degraded the mortar beneath the beds of stones making up the façade of walls to such an extent that three or four years after construction the mortar and seals fell out, and parts of the wall began to collapse. He recommended roughcasting as the solution to this problem. [4]

This rough-casting appears to have been applied during the summer of 1737. At the beginning of June Verrier complained that foul weather was delaying the "indispensible" rough-casting of the battery,[5] but by the end of October he had sent the definitive toisé of the rough-casting to the Minister,[6] and St. Ovide and Le Normant were reporting that the work was completed.[7] It was Verrier's opinion that the masonry of the battery would now be secure for some years, sheltered as it was by rough-casting and turfing,[8] but as early as 1740 the rough-casting on the sea-wall faces was beginning to fa11.[9] Nothing was done at this time, however, and it was not until 1743 that the appeals for further repairs to the masonry of the Royal Battery assumed an urgent tenor. Duquesnel and Bigot stressed repeatedly,[10] that the facing of the battery's walls was crumbling, and that major repairs would have to be performed during 1744 to counter this fault.

Early in 1744, Verrier formed the project of revetting the exposed masonry with boards, gave his opinion that this operation was essential to preserve the masonry from the weather, and estimated that if carried out during 1744 it would necessitate an expenditure of 20000 .[11] The funds to meet this expenditure were ordered by the Minister at the end of April,[12] and at the close of October Verrier had drawn up a provisional toisé for the revetment.[13]

According to the specifications given in this toisé, the revetment was to take the following form:

By 10 November 1744 Duchambon could report to the Minister that the revetments were completed,[15] and eight days later Perrier confirmed this when he wrote that the main battery and the éperon were perfected, as were their revetments. [16]

Owing to this thoroughgoing repair work, the masonry of the revetted faces of the battery did not suffer extreme damage during the temporary occupation of the battery by the British. In the summer of 1749 Boucher after inspecting the battery reported that the walls having been revetted with boards in 1744, the two main faces, the éperon, the two flanks, the retours, and the profiles of the covered way and glacis were all in good condition, as were all the merlons and embrazures. [17] However, Boucher also observed that the interior wall of the platform needed maintenance, and that the counterscarp, banquettes, parapets, and covered way, none of which had been revetted in 1744, were partially ruined.[18] Later in the summer he drew up an estimation of the expenditure necessary for the repair of damages to the Royal Battery, including items calling for the application of rough-casting to the towers, the counterscarp, and the interior wall of the platforms.[19] There is no evidence that this work was ever undertaken. No further reference to revetment, cramponning, or rough-casting is made, with the exception of an incidental reference which shows the board revetments of the battery to have still been in existence as late as 1757.[20]



1. AC C11B V.18 ff.43-46v, St. Ovide, 30 October 1736.

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

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

4. Ibid.

5. AC C11B V.19 ff.230-231, Verrier to Minister, 2 June 1737.

6. AC C11B V.19 ff.232-240, Verrier to Minister, 30 October 1737.

7. AC C11B V.19 ff.37-41v, St. Ovide and Le Normant to Minister, 39 October 1737.

8. See this Report, Section II B.

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

10. AC C11B V.25 ff.19-22v, Duquesnel and Bigot to Minister. 28 October 1743 /AC C11B V.25 ff.70-71v, Duquesnel to Minister.4 November 1743 / AC C11B V.25 ff.169-178v, Bigot to Minister. 26 November 1743.

11. AC C11B V.26 ff.199-202, Verrier, 8 February 1744.

12. AC B V,78-2 ff.411-411v, Minister to Duquesnel, 30 April 1744.

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

14. Ibid.

15. AC C11B V.26 ff.70-76, Duchambon to Minister, 10 November 1744.

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

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

18, Ibid.

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

20. AN Marine Ser.B4 V.76 ff.20-25, Unsigned, Undated 1757 / AC C11C V.16 Pièce 13, Unsigned.