Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

boring settlements. The regulars were in bad condition. About the preceding Christmas they had broken into mutiny, being discontented with their rations and exasperated with getting no extra pay for work on the fortifications. The affair was so serious that though order was restored, some of the officers lost all confidence in the soldiers; and this distrust proved most unfortunate during the siege. The governor, Chevalier Duchambon, successor of Duquesnel, who had died in the autumn, was not a man to grapple with a crisis, being deficient in decision of character, if not in capacity.

He expected an attack. “We were informed of the preparations from the first,” says the Habitant de Louisbourg. Some Indians, who had been to Boston, carried to Canada the news of what was going on there; but it was not believed, and excited no alarm. It was not so at Louisbourg, where, says the French writer just quoted, “we lost precious moments in useless deliberations and resolutions no sooner made than broken. Nothing to the purpose was done, so that we were as much taken by surprise as if the enemy had pounced upon us unawares.”

1"On fit venir cinq ou six cens Miliciens aux Habitans des environs ; ce que, avec ceux de la Ville, pouvoit former treize à quatorze cens hommes.” Lettre d'un Habitant de Louisbourg. This writer says that three or four hundred more might have been had from Niganiche and its neighborhood, if they had been summoned in time. The number of militia just after the siege is set by Eng. lish reports at 1,310. Parsons, 103.

Shirley to Newcastle, 17 June, 1745, citing letters captured on board a ship from Quebec.

It was about the twenty-fifth of March 1 when the garrison first saw the provincial cruisers hovering off the mouth of the harbor. They continued to do so at intervals till daybreak of the thirtieth of April, when the whole fleet of transports appeared standing towards Flat Point, which projects into Gabarus Bay, three miles west of the town.2 On this, Duchambon sent Morpain, captain of a privateer, or “corsair,” to oppose the landing. He had with him eighty men, and was to be joined by forty more, already on the watch near the supposed point of disembarkation.3 At the same time cannon were fired and alarm bells rung in Louisbourg, to call in the militia of the neighborhood.

Pepperrell managed the critical work of landing with creditable skill. The rocks and the surf were more dangerous than the enemy. Several boats, filled with men, rowed towards Flat Point; but on a signal from the flagship “Shirley,” rowed back again, Morpain flattering himself that his appearance had frightened them off. Being joined by several other boats, the united party, a hundred men in all, pulled for another landing-place called Fresh-water Cove, or Anse de la Cormorandière, two miles farther up Gabarus Bay. Morpain and his party ran to meet them; but the boats were first in the race, and as

1 14 March, old style.

: Gabarus Bay, sometimes called “Chapeau Rouge” Bay, is a spacious outer harbor, immediately adjoining Louisbourg. Bigot au Ministre, 1 Août, 1745. VOL. II. -7

soon as the New England men got ashore, they rushed upon the French, killed six of them, captured as many more, including an officer named Boularderie, and put the rest to flight, with the loss, on their own side, of two men slightly wounded. Further resistance to the landing was impossible, for a swarm of boats pushed against the rough and stony beach, the men dashing through the surf, till before night about two thousand were on shore. The rest, or about two thousand more, landed at their leisure on the next day.

On the second of May Vaughan led four hundred men to the hills near the town, and saluted it with three cheers, — somewhat to the discomposure of the French, though they described the unwelcome visitors as a disorderly crowd. Vaughan's next proceeding pleased them still less. He marched behind the hills, in rear of the Grand Battery, to the northeast arm of the harbor, where there were extensive magazines of naval stores. These his men set on fire, and the pitch, tar, and other combustibles made a prodigious smoke. He was returning, in the morning, with a small party of followers behind the hills, when coming opposite the Grand Battery, and observing it from the ridge, he saw neither flag on the flagstaff, nor smoke from the barrack chimneys. One of his party was a Cape Cod Indian. Vaughan bribed him with a flask of brandy which he had in his pocket, — though, as the clerical historian takes pains to assure us, he never used it himself,- and the Indian, pretending to be drunk, or, as some say, mad, staggered towards the battery to reconnoitre." All was quiet. He clambered in at an embrasure, and found the place empty. The rest of the party followed, and one of them, William Tufts, of Medford, a boy of eighteen, climbed the flagstaff, holding in his teeth his red coat, which he made fast at the top, as a substitute for the British flag, — a proceeding that drew upon him a volley of unsuccessful cannon-shot from the town batteries.” Vaughan then sent this hasty note to Pepperrell: “May it please your Honour to be informed that by the grace of God and the courage of 18 men, I entered the Royal Battery about 9 o'clock, and am waiting for a reinforcement and a flag.” Soon after, four boats, filled with men, approached from the town to reoccupy the battery, - no doubt in order to save the munitions and stores, and complete the destruction of the cannon. Vaughan and his thirteen men, standing on the open beach, under the fire of the town and the Island Battery, plied the boats with * Belknap, ii. * John Langdon Sibley, in N. E. Hist, and Gen. Register, xxv. 377. The Boston Gazette of 3 June, 1771, has a notice of Tufts'

1 Pepperrell to Shirley, 12 May, 1745. Shirley to Newcastle, 28 October, 1745. Journal of the Siege, attested by Pepperrell and four other chief officers (London, 1746).

? Bigot says six thousand, or two thousand more than the whole New England force, which was constantly overestimated by the French.

recent death, with an exaggerated account of his exploit, and an appeal for aid to his destitute family.

musketry, and kept them from landing, till Lieu. tenant-Colonel Bradstreet appeared with a reinforcement, on which the French pulled back to Louisbourg,

The English supposed that the French in the battery, when the clouds of smoke drifted over them from the burning storehouses, thought that they were to be attacked in force, and abandoned their post in a panic. This was not the case. “A detachment of the enemy," writes the Habitant de Louisbourg, "advanced to the neighborhood of the Royal Battery.” This was Vaughan's four hundred on their way to burn the storehouses. “At once we were all seized with fright,” pursues this candid writer, “and on the instant it was proposed to abandon this magnificent battery, which would have been our best defence, if one had known how to use it. Various councils were held, in a tumultuous way. It would be hard to tell the reasons for such a strange proceeding. Not one shot had yet been fired at the battery, which the enemy could not take, except by making regular approaches, as if against the town itself, and by besieging it, so to speak, in form. Some persons remonstrated, but in vain; and so a battery of thirty cannon, which had cost the King immense sums, was abandoned before it was attacked.”

Duchambon says that soon after the English landed,

1 Vaughan's party seems to have consisted in all of sixteen men, three of whom took no part in this affair.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »