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for launching. She was rapidly fitted for her new destination, converted into a frigate, mounted with 24 guns, and named the “Massachusetts.” The rest of the naval force consisted of the ship “ Cæsar,” of 20 guns; a vessel called the “Shirley,” commanded by Captain Rous, and also carrying 20 guns; another, of the kind called a “snow,” carrying 16 guns; one sloop of 12 guns, and two of 8 guns each; the “Boston Packet," of 16 guns; two sloops from Connecticut of 16 guns each; a privateer hired in Rhode Island, of 20 guns; the government sloop “Tartar,” of the same colony, carrying 14 carriage guns and 12 swivels; and, finally, the sloop of 14 guns which formed the navy of New Hampshire.
It was said, with apparent reason, that one or two heavy French ships-of-war — and a number of such was expected in the spring — would outmatch the whole colonial squadron, and, after mastering it, would hold all the transports at mercy; so that the troops on shore, having no means of return and no hope of succor, would be forced to surrender or starve. The danger was real and serious, and Shirley felt the necessity of help from a few British ships-ofwar. Commodore Peter Warren was then with a small squadron at Antigua. Shirley sent an express boat to him with a letter stating the situation and asking his aid. Warren, who had married an American woman and who owned large tracts of land on the Mohawk, was known to be a warm friend
1 The list is given by Williamson, ii. 227.
to the provinces. It is clear that he would gladly have complied with Shirley's request; but when he laid the question before a council of officers, they were of one mind that without orders from the Admiralty he would not be justified in supporting an attempt made without the approval of the King.' He therefore saw no choice but to decline. Shirley, fearing that his refusal would be too discouraging, kept it secret from all but Pepperrell and General Wolcott, or, as others say, Brigadier Waldo. He had written to the Duke of Newcastle in the preceding autumn that Acadia and the fisheries were in great danger, and that ships-of-war were needed for their protection. On this, the duke had written to Warren, ordering him to sail for Boston and concert measures with Shirley “for the annoyance of the enemy, and his Majesty's service in North America.”? Newcastle's letter reached Warren only two or three days after he had sent back his refusal of Shirley's request. Thinking himself now sufficiently authorized to give the desired aid, he made all sail for Boston with his three ships, the “Superbe,” “Mermaid,” and “Launceston." On the way he met a schooner from Boston, and learned from its officers that the expedition had already sailed; on which, detaining the master as a pilot, he changed his course and made directly for Canseau, — the place of rendezvous of the expedition, — and at the same time
1 Memoirs of the Principal Transactions of the Last War, 44.
sent orders by the schooner that any king's ships that might arrive at Boston should immediately join him.
Within seven weeks after Shirley issued his proclamation for volunteers, the preparations were all made, and the unique armament was afloat. Transports, such as they were, could be had in abundance; for the harbors of Salem and Marblehead were full of fishing-vessels thrown out of employment by the war. These were hired and insured by the province for the security of the owners. There was a great dearth of cannon. The few that could be had were too light, the heaviest being of twenty-two-pound calibre. New York lent ten eighteen-pounders to the expedition. But the adventurers looked to the French for their chief supply. A detached work near Louisbourg, called the Grand, or Royal, Battery, was known to be armed with thirty heavy pieces; and these it was proposed to capture and turn against the town, — which, as Hutchinson remarks, was “like selling the skin of the bear before catching him.”
It was clear that the expedition must run for luck against risks of all kinds. Those whose hopes were highest, based them on a belief in the special and direct interposition of Providence; others were sanguine through ignorance and provincial self-conceit. As soon as the troops were embarked, Shirley wrote to the ministers of what was going on, telling them that, accidents apart, four thousand New England men would land on Cape Breton in April, and that, even should they fail to capture Louisbourg, he would answer for it that they would lay the town in ruins, retake Canseau, do other good service to his Majesty, and then come safe home." On receiving this communication, the government resolved to aid the enterprise if there should yet be time, and accordingly ordered several ships-of-war to sail for Louisbourg. The sarcastic Dr. Douglas, then living at Boston, writes that the expedition had a lawyer for contriver, a merchant for general, and farmers, fishermen, and mechanics for soldiers. In fact, it had something of the character of broad farce, to which Shirley himself, with all his ability and general good sense, was a chief contributor. He wrote to the Duke of Newcastle that though the officers had no experience and the men no discipline, he would take care to provide against these defects, – meaning that he would give exact directions how to take Louisbourg. Accordingly, he drew up copious instructions to that effect. These seem to have undergone a process of evolution, for several distinct drafts of them are preserved.”
1 Shirley to Newcastle, 24 March, 1745. The ministry was not wholly unprepared for this announcement, as Shirley had before reported to it the vote of his Assembly consenting to the expedition. Shirley to Newcastle, 1 February, 1745.
* The first draft of Shirley's instructions for taking Louisbourg is in the large manuscript volume entitled Siege of Louisbourg, in the library of the Massachusetts Historical Society. The document is called Memo for the attacking of Louisbourg this Spring by Surprise. After giving minute instructions for every movement, it goes on to say that, as the surprise may possibly fail, it will be necessary to
The complete and final one is among the Pepperrell Papers, copied entire in the neat, commercial band of the general himself. It seems to assume that Providence would work a continued miracle, and on every occasion supply the expedition with weather precisely suited to its wants. “It is thought,” says this singular document, “that Louisbourg may be surprised if they (the French] have no advice of your coming. To effect it you must time your arrival about nine of the clock in the evening, taking care that the fleet be far enough in the offing to prevent their being seen from the town in the daytime." He then goes on to prescribe how the troops are to land, after dark, at a place called Flat Point Cove, in four divisions, three of which are to march to the back of certain hills a mile and a half west of the town, where two of the three “are to halt and keep a profound silence;” the third continuing its march “under cover of the said hills,” till it comes opposite the Grand Battery, which it will attack at a concerted signal; while one of the two divisions behind the hills assaults the west gate, and the other moves up to support the attack.
send two small mortars and twelve cannon carrying nine-pound balls, “ so as to bombard them and endeavour to make Breaches in their walls and then to Storm them." Shirley was soon to discover the absurdity of trying to breach the walls of Louisbourg with nine-pounders.
1 It is printed in the first volume of the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Shirley was so well pleased with it that he sent it to the Duke of Newcastle enclosed in his letter of 1 Feb ruary, 1745 (Public Record Office).