« FöregåendeFortsätt »
English prisoners were told that between twentythree and twenty-four hundred men had been buried by sea or land since the fleet left France; and another declares that eleven hundred and thirty-five burials took place while he was at Chibucto. The survivors used the clothing of the dead as gifts to the neighboring Indians, who in consequence were attacked with such virulence by the disease that of the band at Cape Sable three fourths are said to have perished. The English, meanwhile, learned something of the condition of their enemies. Towards the end of September Captain Sylvanus Cobb, in a sloop from Boston, boldly entered Chibucto Harbor, took note of the ships lying there, and, though pursued, ran out to sea and carried the results of his observations to Louisbourg.2 A more thorough reconnoissance was afterwards made by a vessel from Louisbourg bringing French prisoners for exchange under a flag of truce; and it soon became evident that the British colonies had now nothing to fear.
La Jonquière still clung to the hope of a successful stroke at Annapolis, till in October an Acadian brought him the report that the garrison of that place had received a reinforcement of twelve hundred men. The reinforcement consisted in reality of three small companies of militia sent from Boston by Shirley. La Jonquière called a secret council, and
1*ation of Kannan and Deas. Deposition of Joseph Foster.
Captain Cobb, in Shirley to Newcastle, 13 October,
the result seems to have been adverse to any further attempt. The journalist reports that only a thousand men were left in fighting condition, and that even of these some were dying every day.
La Jonquière, however, would not yet despair. The troops were re-embarked; five hospital ships were devoted to the sick; the "Parfait," a fifty-gun ship no longer serviceable, was burned, as were several smaller vessels, and on the fourth of October what was left of the fleet sailed out of Chibucto Harbor and steered for Annapolis, piloted by Acadians. The flag of truce from Louisbourg was compelled for a time to bear them company, and Joseph Foster of Beverly, an exchanged prisoner on board of her, deposed that as the fleet held its way, he saw "a great number of dead persons ” dropped into the sea every day. Ill-luck still pursued the French. A storm off Cape Sable dispersed the ships, two of which some days later made their way to Annapolis Basin in expectation of finding some of their companions there. They found instead the British fiftygun ship “Chester” and the Massachusetts frigate “Shirley” anchored before the fort, on which the two Frenchmen retired as they had come; and so ended the last aggressive movement on the part of the great armament.
The journalist reports that on the night of the twenty-seventh there was a council of officers on board the “Northumberland," at which it was resolved that no choice was left but to return to France with the ships that still kept together. On the fourth of November there was another storm, and when it subsided, the “Prince d'Orange” found herself with but nine companions, all of which were transports. These had on board eleven companies of soldiers, of whom their senior officer reports that only ninety-one were in health. The pestilence made such ravages among the crews that four or five corpses were thrown into the sea every day, and there was fear that the vessels would be left helpless in mid-ocean for want of sailors to work them.At last, on the seventh of December, after narrowly escaping an English squadron, they reached Port Louis in Brittany, where several ships of the fleet had arrived before them. Among these was the frigate “La Palme.” “Yesterday,” says the journalist, “I supped with M. Destrahoudal, who commands this frigate; and he told me things which from anybody else would have been incredible. This is his story, exactly as I had it from him.” And he goes on to the following effect.
After the storm of the fourteenth of September, provisions being almost spent, it was thought that there was no hope for “La Palme " and her crew but in giving up the enterprise and making all sail at once for home, since France now had no port of refuge on the western continent nearer than Quebec. Rations were reduced to three ounces of biscuit and three of salt meat a day; and after a time half of this pittance was cut off. There was diligent hunting for rats in the hold; and when this game failed, the crew, crazed with famine, demanded of their captain that five English prisoners who were on board should be butchered to appease the frenzy of their hunger. The captain consulted his officers, and they were of opinion that if he did not give his consent, the crew would work their will without it. The ship's butcher was accordingly ordered to bind one of the prisoners, carry him to the bottom of the hold, put him to death, and distribute his flesh to the men in portions of three ounces each. The captain, walking the deck in great agitation all night, found a pretext for deferring the deed till morning, when a watchman sent aloft at daylight cried, “A sail!” The providential stranger was a Portuguese ship; and as Portugal was neutral in the war, she let the frigate approach to within hailing distance. The Portuguese captain soon came alongside in a boat, “accompanied,” in the words of the narrator, “by five sheep." These were eagerly welcomed by the starving crew as agreeable substitutes for the five Englishmen; and, being forthwith slaughtered, were parcelled out among the men, who would not wait till the flesh was cooked, but devoured it raw. Provisions enough were obtained from the Portuguese to keep the frigate's company alive till they reached Port Louis.
1 Journal historique.
There are no sufficient means of judging how far the disasters of D'Anville's fleet were due to a neglect of sanitary precautions or to deficient seamanship. Certain it is that there were many in self. righteous New England who would have held it impious to doubt that God had summoned the pestilence and the storm to fight the battles of his modern Israel.
1 Relation du Voyage de Retour de M. Destrahoudal après la Tempête du 14 Septembre, in Journal historique.
Undaunted by disastrous failure, the French court equipped another fleet, not equal to that of D'Anville, yet still formidable, and placed it under La Jonquière, for the conquest of Acadia and Louisbourg. La Jonquière sailed from Rochelle on the tenth of May, 1747, and on the fourteenth was met by an English fleet stronger than his own and commanded by Admirals Anson and Warren. A fight ensued, in which, after brave resistance, the French were totally defeated. Six ships-of-war, including the flag-ship, were captured, with a host of prisoners, among whom was La Jonquière himself.1
1 Relation du Combat rendu le 14 Mai (new style), par l'Escadre du Roy commandée par M. de la Jonquière, in Le Canada Français, Supe plément de Documents inédits, 33. Newcastle to Shirley, 30 May, 1747