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even this. One of them, who had been taken long before and gained over by the French, was used as an agent to extract information from his countrymen, and was called “notre homme de confiance.” At the same time the prisoners were freely supplied with writing materials, and their letters to their friends being then opened, it appeared that they were all in expectation of speedy deliverance.?
In July a report came from Acadia that from forty to fifty thousand men were to attack Canada; and on the first of August a prisoner lately taken at Saratoga declared that there were thirty-two war-ships at Boston ready to sail against Quebec, and that thirteen thousand men were to march at once from Albany against Montreal. “If all these stories are true," writes the Canadian journalist, “all the English on this continent must be in arms."
Preparations for defence were pushed with feverish energy. Fireships were made ready at Quebec, and fire-rafts at Isle-aux-Coudres; provisions were gathered, and ammunition was distributed; reconnoitring parties were sent to watch the gulf and the river; and bands of Canadians and Indians lately sent to Acadia were ordered to hasten back.
Thanks to the Duke of Newcastle, all these alarms were needless. The Massachusetts levies were ready within six weeks, and Shirley, eager and impatient, waited in vain for the squadron from England and the promised eight battalions of regulars. They did not come; and in August he wrote to Newcastle that it would now be impossible to reach Quebec before October, which would be too late.1 The eight battalions had been sent to Portsmouth for embarkation, ordered on board the transports, then ordered ashore again, and finally sent on an abortive expedition against the coast of France. There were those who thought that this had been their destination from the first, and that the proposed attack on Canada was only a pretence to deceive the enemy. It was not till the next spring that Newcastle tried to explain the miscarriage to Shirley. He wrote that the troops bad been detained by head-winds till General SaintClair and Admiral Lestock thought it too late; to which he added that the demands of the European war made the Canadian expedition impracticable, and that Shirley was to stand on the defensive and attempt no further conquests. As for the provincial soldiers, who this time were in the pay of the Crown, he says that they were “very expensive," and orders the governor to get rid of them “as cheap as possible.”2 Thus, not for the first time, the hopes of the colonies were brought to nought by the failure of the British ministers to keep their promises.
1 “Un ancien prisonnier affidé que l'on a mis dans nos interests.”
Extrait en forme de Journal de ce qui s'est passé dans la Colonie depuis ... le 1 Décembre, 1745, jusqu'au 9 Novembre, 1746, signé Beauharnois et Hocquart,
When, in the autumn of 1746, Shirley said that for the present Canada was to be let alone, he bethought him of a less decisive conquest, and proposed to employ the provincial troops for an attack on Crown Point, which formed a halfway station between Albany and Montreal, and was the constant rendezvous of war-parties against New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, whose discords and jealousies had prevented them from combining to attack it. The Dutch of Albany, too, had strong commercial reasons for not coming to blows with the Canadians. Of late, however, Massachusetts and New York had suffered so much from this inconvenient neighbor that it was possible to unite them against it; and as Clinton, governor of New York, was scarcely less earnest to get possession of Crown Point than was Shirley himself, a plan of operations was soon settled. By the middle of October fifteen hundred Massachusetts troops were on their way to join the New York levies, and then advance upon the obnoxious post.” Even this modest enterprise was destined to fail. Astounding tidings reached New England, and startled her like a thunder-clap from dreams of conquest. It was reported that a great French fleet and army were on their way to retake Louisbourg, reconquer Acadia, burn Boston, and lay waste the other seaboard towns. The Massachusetts troops marching for Crown Point were recalled, and the country militia were mustered in arms. In a few days the narrow, crooked streets of the Puritan capital were 1 Memoirs of the Principal Transactions of the Last War.
i Shirley to Newcastle, 22 August, 1746. ? Newcastle to Shirley, 30 May, 1747.
crowded with more than eight thousand armed rustics from the farms and villages of Middlesex, Essex, Norfolk, and Worcester, and Connecticut promised six thousand more as soon as the hostile fleet should appear. The defences of Castle William were enlarged and strengthened, and cannon were planted on the islands at the mouth of the harbor; hulks were sunk in the channel, and a boom was laid across it under the guns of the castle.' The alarm was compared to that which filled England on the approach of the Spanish Armada.”
Canada heard the news of the coming armament with an exultation that was dashed with misgiving as weeks and months passed and the feet did not appear. At length in September a vessel put in to an Acadian harbor with the report that she had met the ships in mid-ocean, and that they counted a hundred and fifty sail. Some weeks later the governor and intendant of Canada wrote that on the fourteenth of October they received a letter from Chibucto with “the agreeable news" that the Duc d'Anville and his fleet had arrived there about three weeks before. Had they known more, they would have rejoiced less.
That her great American fortress should have been snatched from her by a despised militia was more than France could bear; and in the midst of a burdensome war she made a crowning effort to retrieve her honor and pay the debt with usury. It was computed that nearly half the French navy was gathered at Brest under command of the Duc d'Anville. By one account his force consisted of eleven ships-of-the-line, twenty frigates, and thirtyfour transports and fireships, or sixty-five in all. Another list gives a total of sixty-six, of which ten were ships-of-the-line, twenty-two were frigates and fireships, and thirty-four were transports. These last carried the regiment of Ponthieu, with other veteran troops, to the number in all of three thousand one hundred and fifty. The fleet was to be joined at Chibucto, now Halifax, by four heavy shipsof-war lately sent to the West Indies under M. de Conflans.
Shirley to Newcastle, 29 September, 1746. Shirley says that though the French may bombard the town, he does not think they could make a landing, as he shall have fifteen thousand good men within call to oppose them.
3 Hutchinson, ii. 382.
From Brest D'Anville sailed for some reason to Rochelle, and here the ships were kept so long by head-winds that it was the twentieth of June before they could put to sea. From the first the omens were sinister. The admiral was beset with questions as to the destination of the fleet, which was known to him alone; and when, for the sake of peace, he told it to his officers, their discontent redoubled. The Bay of Biscay was rough and boisterous, and spars, sails, and bowsprits were carried away. After they had been a week at sea, some of the ships, being
1 This list is in the journal of a captured French officer called by Shirley M. Rebateau.