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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

The Campaign of 1758 in J.C.B. Travels in New France



(p. 99)

YEAR 1758:- This campaign opened in March, when a convoy of food and munitions with a reinforcement of one hundred and fifty men arrived at Fort Duquesne. The Governor General had learned that the English were planning to drive the French from the Ohio.

Shortly after, five hundred savages came from the region of Michillimakinac. The day after they arrived, we held a council with them, in which they explained their desire to fight against the English. They were made welcome for their goodwill and were given tobacco, powder, and shot, as was customary. They had a war feast, boiling a dog in water, and dividing it among them. Then they danced part of the night.

Next morning, they split up into five bands and set out in various directions to the English settlements. One band returned twenty days later with forty prisoners and one hundred and twenty scalps. This party had laid waste two settlements in Virginia. Their prisoners were fortunate in escaping the bastonnade, [1] as there were no savages at the fort when they arrived.

The four other parties, one after the other, came in some days later, with many scalps and prisoners. These prisoners were not so lucky as the first, for they had to undergo the bastonnade from the savages who had first arrived. Of all these prisoners, only seven were given to the commander. The savages kept the rest and took them away, as well as the scalps.

It is a rather general custom among savage tribes, not to continue warfare when they have been victorious. This is because they fear their tutelary gods will not be favorable or will punish them. It is also customary, when they have been victorious in war, for the chief of the war party to leave a tomahawk on the battlefield. The emblems of the tribe and the number of warriors he had with him are indicated on its handle. He does this as much to show his valor, as to defy his enemies to come and attack him. Some tribes merely make the same signs on a tree, stripping off the outside bark. It must be said, however, that this is only done in wars with other savages. It is very seldom done when they fight Europeans, unless there are hostile savages fighting along with the Europeans.

(p. 100)

The prisoners taken are either adopted, enslaved, or condemned to death. Slaves have to do the most menial work, such as cutting firewood, cultivating the fields, harvesting, pounding Indian corn or maize to make sagamit, [2] cooking, mending the hunters' shoes, carrying their game, and, in general, anything that the women do. The women are in charge of the slaves, and deny them food if they are lazy. Adoption is undertaken by a family which has lost a man in battle, and wants to replace him by a prisoner who seems suitable to them. The women are left free to select this prisoner, especially those women who have lost their husbands. In this case, they choose the prisoners to be adopted, even from those condemned to be burned (for there is no other form of execution among the savages); and in these circumstances, a woman need only throw her blanket over the condemned man's body. Though he be trussed up ready for execution, that is enough to prove that he has been adopted. The woman unties him and takes him away without objection from the executioners.

A messenger from Quebec brought word that in June an English fleet commanded by Admiral Boscawen had appeared before Louisbourg, the principal fort on Isle Royale, with a landing force of sixteen thousand men commanded by Generals Wolfe and Amherst. [3] They immediately began a siege lasting many days, which the French commander Drucourt withstood with great valor and courage, despite a heavy cannonade and bombardment. During this siege, the commander's wife performed great feats of valor; firing cannons and holding back several onslaughts. But in spite of this fine defense, the place could not hold out and had to capitulate with the honors of war. This garrison contained twenty-four hundred soldiers and four thousand inhabitants.

Isle Royale, also called Cape Breton, has been mentioned before. It is thirty leagues long and twenty-two leagues across at its widest part. Waves dash at the foot of the small separate rocks with which its entire coast bristles. All the ports open to the east. On the southern side, except for the mountainous parts, the land surface is rather soft. It is mossy and wet everywhere. The great dampness of the soil causes mists, without making the air unhealthy. The climate is very cold.

Louisbourg, the capital of this island, is built on an oblong neck of land jutting out toward sea. The fortress is three quarters of a league around, and much of it is built of French stone. The French came into [rest of this book is currently unavailable]

1Running the gantlet.

2 A sort of hasty pudding.

3 Admiral Boscawen and General Amherst landed in Gabarus Bay on June 8, 1758, to begin the siege of Louisbourg.

[Source: The Campaign of 1758, Chapter 17, in J. C. B., Travels in New France, (Stevens, Sylvester K., Donald H. Kent, and Emma Edith Woods, eds.), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Instruction, the Pennsylvania Historical Commission, Harrisburg, 1941, pp. 99-100. ]

[Copyright 1996, Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology and The Trustees of Indiana University]