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determined more or less with a view to that traffic. Hence they had no slight commercial value. In some of them the Crown itself carried on trade through agents who usually secured a lion's share of the profits. Others were farmed out to merchants at a fixed sum. In others, again, the commanding officer was permitted to trade on condition of maintaining the post, paying the soldiers, and supporting a missionary; while in one case, at least, he was subjected to similar obligations, though not permitted to trade himself, but only to sell trading licenses to merchants. These methods of keeping up forts and garrisons were of course open to prodigious abuses, and roused endless jealousies and rivalries.
France had now occupied the valley of the Mississippi, and joined with loose and uncertain links her two colonies of Canada and Louisiana. But the strength of her hold on these regions of unkempt savagery bore no proportion to the vastness of her claims or the growing power of the rivals who were soon to contest them. 1
1 On the claim of France that all North America, except the Spanish colonies of Mexico and Florida, belonged to her, see Appendix A.
A MAD SCHEME.
WAR OF THE AUSTRIAN SUCCESSION. – THE FRENCH SEIZE CAN.
SEAU AND ATTACK ANNAPOLIS. – PLAN OF REPRISAL. — WILLIAM VAUGHAN. — GOVERNOR SHIRLEY: HE ADVISES AN ATTACK ON LOUISBOURG. – THE ASSEMBLY REFUSES, BUT AT LAST CONSENTS. - PREP:RATION. — WILLIAM PEPPERRELL. - GEORGE WHITEFIELD. - PARSON MOODY – THE SOLDIERS. — THE PROVINCIAL Navy, — COMMODORE WARREN. – SHIRLEY AS AN AMATEUR SOLDIER. — THE FLEET SAILS.
The Peace of Utrecht left unsettled the perilous questions of boundary between the rival powers in North America, and they grew more perilous every day. Yet the quarrel was not yet quite ripe; and though the French governor, Vaudreuil, and perhaps also his successor, Beaubarnois, seemed willing to precipitate it, the courts of London and Versailles still hesitated to appeal to the sword. Now, as before, it was a European, and not an American, quarrel that was to set the world on fire. The War of the Austrian Succession broke out in 1744. When Frederic of Prussia seized Silesia and began that bloody conflict, it meant that packs of howling savages would again spread fire and carnage along the New England border.
News of the declaration of war reached Louisbourg some weeks before it reached Boston, and the French military governor, Duquesnel, thought he saw an opportunity to strike an unexpected blow for the profit of France and his own great honor.
One of the French inhabitants of Louisbourg has left us a short sketch of Duquesnel, whom he calls “capricious, of an uncertain temper, inclined to drink, and when in his cups neither reasonable or civil.”] He adds that the governor had offended nearly every officer in the garrison, and denounces him as the “chief cause of our disasters.” When Duquesnel heard of the declaration of war, his first thought was to strike some blow before the English were warned. The fishing-station of Canseau was a tempting prize, being a near and an inconvenient neighbor, at the southern end of the Strait of Canseau, which separates the Acadian peninsula from the island of Cape Breton, or Isle Royale, of which Louisbourg was the place of strength. Nothing was easier than to seize Canseau, which had no defence but a wooden redoubt built by the fishermen, and occupied by about eighty Englishmen thinking no danger. Early in May, Duquesnel sent Captain Duvivier against itwith six hundred, or, as the English say, nine hundred soldiers and sailors, escorted by two small armed vessels. The English surrendered, on condition of being sent to Boston, and the miserable hamlet, with its wooden citadel, was burned to the ground.
1 Lettre d'un Habitant de Louisbourg contenant une Relation exacto et circonstanciée de la Prise de l'Isle Royale par les Anglois.
Thus far successful, the governor addressed himself to the capture of Annapolis, — which meant the capture of all Acadia. Duvivier was again appointed to the command. His heart was in the work, for he was a descendant of La Tour, feudal claimant of Acadia in the preceding century. Four officers and ninety regular troops were given him, and from three to four hundred Micmac and Malicite Indians joined him on the way. The Micmacs, under command, it is said, of their missionary, Le Loutre, had already tried to surprise the English fort, but had only succeeded in killing two unarmed stragglers in the adjacent garden.
Annapolis, from the neglect and indifference of the British ministry, was still in such a state of dilapidation that its sandy ramparts were crumbling into the ditches, and the cows of the garrison walked over them at their pleasure. It was held by about a hundred effective men under Major Mascarene, a French Protestant whose family had been driven into exile by the persecutions that followed the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Shirley, governor of Massachusetts, sent him a small reinforcement of militia; but as most of these came without arms, and as Mascarene had few or none to give them, they proved of doubtful value.
1 Lettre d'un Habitant de Louisbourg.
3 Mascarene to the Besiegers, 3 July, 1744. Duquesnel had written to all the missionaries " d'engager les sauvages à faire quelque coup Important sur le fort” (Annapolis). Duquesnel à Beauharnois, 1 Juin,
Duvivier and his followers, white and red, appeared before the fort in August, made their camp behind the ridge of a hill that overlooked it, and marched towards the rampart; but being met by a discharge of cannon-shot, they gave up all thoughts of an immediate assault, began a fusillade under cover of darkness, and kept the garrison on the alert all night.
Duvivier had looked for help from the Acadians of the neighboring village, who were French in blood, faith, and inclination. They would not join him openly, fearing the consequences if his attack should fail; but they did what they could without committing themselves, and made a hundred and fifty scalingladders for the besiegers. Duvivier now returned to his first plan of an assault, which, if made with vigor, could hardly have failed. Before attempting it, he sent Mascarene a flag of truce to tell him that he hourly expected two powerful armed ships from Louisbourg, besides a reinforcement of two hundred and fifty regulars, with cannon, mortars, and other enginery of war. At the same time he proposed favorable terms of capitulation, not to take effect till the French war-ships should have appeared. Mascarene refused all terms, saying that when he saw the French ships, he would consider what to do, and meanwhile would defend himself as he could.
The expected ships were the “ Ardent" and the “Caribou,” then at Louisbourg. A French writer