Capture of Louisbourg by the New England Militia: Iii
FREQUENT councils of war were held in solemn form at headquarters. On the 7th of May a summons to surrender was sent to Duchambon. who replied that he would answer with his cannon. Two days after we find the following startling entry in the records of the council: “ Advised unanimously that the Town of Louisbourg be attacked by storm this Night.” Vaughan was a member of the council, and perhaps his impetuous rashness may have turned the heads of his colleagues. To storm the fortress at that time would have been a desperate attempt for the best trained and best led troops. As yet there was no breach in the walls, nor the beginning of one. Nine in ten of the soldiers had no bayonets ; many of them had no shoes; and the scaling ladders brought from Boston are said to have been ten feet too short. Perhaps it was unfortunate for the French that the New England army had more discretion than its leaders. Another council being called on the same day, it was “ Advised, That, inasmuch as there appears a great Dissatisfaction in many of the officers and Soldiers at the designed attack of the Town by Storm this Night, said Attack be deferred for the present.”
Another plan was adopted, hardly less critical, though it. found favor with the army. This was the assault of the Island Battery, which closed the entrance of the harbor to the British squadron, and kept it open to ships from France. Nobody knew precisely how to find the two landing-places of this formidable work, which were narrow gaps between rocks lashed with almost continual surf ; but Vaughan would see no difficulties, and wrote to Pepperell that if he would give him the command, and let him manage the affair in his own way, he would engage to send the French flag to headquarters within forty-eight hours. On the next day he seems to have thought the command assured to him, and writes from the Grand Battery that the carpenters are at work there, mending whaleboats and making paddles ; asking at the same time for a good supply of pistols and a hundred hand grenades, with men who know how to use them. The weather proved bad, and the attempt was deferred. This happened several times, till Warren lost patience, and offered two hundred sailors to support the attack.
At last, on the 23d, the volunteers for the perilous enterprise mustered at the Grand Battery, from which the boats were to set. out. Brigadier W aldo, who still commanded there, saw the men with concern and anxiety, as they came dropping in in small squads, without officers, noisy, disorderly, and in some cases more or less drunk. “ I doubt,” he wrote to the general, “ whether straggling fellows, three, four, or seven out of a company, ought to go on such a service.”A bright moon with northern lights again put off the attack. The volunteers remained at the Grand Battery. waiting their time. " They seem to be impatient for action,” says Waldo. “ If there were a more regular appearance it would give me greater sattysfaction.”
On the 26th their wish for action was fully gratified. The night was still and dark, and the boats put out from the battery a little before twelve o’clock, with three hundred men on board, who were to be joined by a hundred or a hundred and fifty more from Gorham’s regiment, then stationed at Lighthouse Point. The commander was not Vaughan, but one Brooks, chosen by the men themselves, as were also his subordinates.1 They moved slowly, the boats being propelled, not by oars, but by paddles, which, if skillfully used, would make no noise. The wind presently rose, and when they found a landing-place the surf was lashing the rocks with violence. There was room for only three boats at once between the breakers on each hand. They pushed in, and the men scrambled ashore with what speed they might.
The Island Battery was a strong work, walled in on all sides, garrisoned by a hundred and eighty men, and armed with thirty cannon, seven swivels, and two mortars. It was now a little after midnight. Captain d’Aillebout, the commandant, was on the watch, pacing the battery platform ; but he seems to have seen nothing unusual till about a hundred and fifty men had got on shore, when they had the folly to announce their presence by three cheers, Then, in the words of General Wolcott, the battery “blazed with cannon, swivels, and small arms. " The crowd of boats, dimly visible through the darkness as they lay just off the landing, waiting their turn to go in, were at once the target for volleys of grapeshot, langrage shot, and musket balls, of which the men on shore also had their share. They succeeded, however, in planting twelve scaling ladders against the wall. It is said that some of them climbed into the place, and that Brooks, their commander, was hauling down the French flag when a Swiss soldier split his head with a cutlass. Many of the boats were shattered or sunk, and the men drowned. Those in the rear, seeing the state of things, seem to have sheered off. The affair was soon reduced to an exchange of shots between the garrison and the men who had landed, and who, standing on the open ground, were not wholly invisible, while the French were completely hidden behind their walls. “ The fire of the English,” says Bigot, “ was extremely obstinate, but without effect, as they could not see to take aim.” They kept it up till daybreak, or about two hours and a half, and then, finding themselves at the mercy of the French, surrendered, to the number of a hundred and nineteen, including the wounded, several of whom died almost immediately. By the most trustworthy accounts, the English loss in killed, drowned, and captured was a hundred and eighty-nine, or, in the words of Pepperell, " nearly half our party.” 2 Disorder, precipitation, and weak leadership ruined what chance of success the attempt ever had.
As this was the only French success throughout the siege, Duchambon makes the most of it. He reports that the attacking force was a thousand men, who were to have been supported by eight hundred more, but that these did not dare to show themselves ; and he further declares that there were thirty-five boats, all of which were shattered or sunk, though he afterwards says that two of them got away with thirty men, being all of the thousand that were left. Bigot, more moderate, puts the number of assailants at five hundred, of whom he says that all perished except the hundred and nineteen who were captured.
At daybreak Louisbourg rang with shouts of triumph. It was plain that a disorderly militia could not capture the Island Battery. Yet captured or silenced it must be, and it was resolved to attack it by a battery at Lighthouse Point, on the eastern side of the harbor’s mouth, at the distance of a short half mile. The neighboring shore was rocky and almost inaccessible. Cannon and mortars were carried in boats to the nearest landing-place, hauled up a steep cliff, and dragged a mile and a quarter to the chosen spot, where they were planted under the orders of Colonel Grid ley, who thirty years after directed the earthworks on Bunker Hill. They soon opened fire, with deadly effect.
The French, much encouraged by their late success, were plunged again into despondency by a disaster which happened a week before the affair of the Island Battery, but remained unknown to them till some time after. On the 19th of May the men in the camp heard a fierce cannonade, and presently discovered a large French ship hotly engaged with several vessels of the squadron. She proved to be the Vigilant, carrying sixty-four guns and five hundred and sixty men, and commanded by the Marquis de la Maisonfort. She had come from France with munitions and stores, and, on approaching Louisbourg, met one of the English cruisers, some say the Mermaid, of forty guns, and others the Shirley, of twenty. The British or provincial vessel, being no match for her, kept up a running fight, and led her towards the English fleet. She was soon beset by several other vessels, and struck her colors after a gallant resistance and the loss of eighty men. Nothing could be more timely for the besiegers, whose ammunition and provisions had sunk perilously low. The Vigilant now supplied their needs, and drew from the Habitant de Louisbourg the mournful comment. " We were victims devoted to appease the wrath of Heaven, which turned our own arms into weapons for our enemies.”
Nor was this the last time that the defenders of Louisbourg supplied the instruments of their own destruction, for ten cannon were presently unearthed, at low tide, from the flats near the careening wharf at the northeast arm of the harbor, where the French had hidden them some time before. Most of them proved sound, and, being mounted at Lighthouse Point, they were turned against their late owners at the Island Battery.
When Gorham’s regiment first took post at Lighthouse Point, Duchambon thought the movement so threatening that he forgot his former doubts, and ordered the Sieur de Beaubassin to make a sortie against it. Beaubassin landed with a hundred men at a place called Lorambec, and advanced to surprise the English detachment, but was discovered by an outpost of forty men, who attacked. and repelled his party. Being then joined by eighty Indians, he had several skirmishes with English scouting parties, till, pushed by superior numbers, the Freach regained Louisbourg by sea, escaping with difficulty from the guardboats of the squadron. The Sieur de la Vallière, with a considerable body of men, tried to burn Pepperell’s storehouses near Flat Point Cove, but ten or twelve of his party were captured, and nearly all the rest wounded. Various other petty encounters took place between English scouting parties and roving bands of French and Indians, always ending, according to Pepperell, in the discomfiture of the latter. To this, however, there was at least one exception. Twenty Englishmen were waylaid and surrounded near Petit Lorambec by forty or fifty Indians, accompanied by two or three Frenchmen. Some of the English were shot down, a few escaped, and the rest surrendered on promise of life ; on which the Indians shot or speared some of them in cold blood, and atrociously tortured others.
This suggested to Warren a device which had two objects: to prevent such outrages for the future, and to make known to the French that the ship Vigilant, the mainstay of their hopes, was in English hands. The Marquis de la Maisonfort, late captain of the Vigilant, and now a prisoner on board, of her, was informed of the treatment of the captives, and requested to lay the facts before Duchambon. This he did with great readiness in a letter which contained these words : “ It is well that you should be informed that the captains and officers of this squadron treat us, not as their prisoners, but as their good friends, and take particular pains that my officers and crew shall want for nothing; therefore it seems to me just to treat our enemies in like manner, and punish those who do otherwise, or offer any insults to the prisoners who may fall into your hands.”
Captain McDonald, of the marines, carried this letter to Duchambon under a flag of truce. Though familiar with the French language, he spoke to the governor through an interpreter, so that the French officers present, who hitherto had only known that a large ship had been taken, expressed to each other, without reserve, their dismay on learning that the prize was no other than the Vigilant. Duchambon replied to Maisonfort’s letter that the Indians alone were answerable for the cruelties in question, and that he would forbid such conduct for the future.
A new danger nowT threatened the besiegers. In the past summer, as we have seen, the Sieur Duvivier had attacked Annapolis, and had been forced to retreat. On this, he went to France to beg for help to attack it again. Two thousand men were promised him, and, in anticipation of their arrival, the governor of Canada sent a body of French and Indians, under the noted partisan Marin, to join them. Marin was ordered to wait at Minas till he heard of the arrival of the troops from France ; but, growing impatient, he resolved to attack Annapolis without them. Accordingly, he laid siege to it with the six or seven hundred white and red men of his party, aided by tlie so-called Acadian neutrals.
Mascarene, the governor, kept them at bay till the 24th of May, when, to his surprise, they all disappeared. Duchambon had sent them an order to come at once to the aid of Louisbourg. As the report of this reached the besiegers, multiplying Marin’s force fourfold, they expected to be attacked in the rear by numbers more than equal to that of their own effective men. This wrought a wholesome reform. Order was established in the camp, a fence of palisades was set round it, scouts were sent out, and a careful watch was kept.
Another tribulation now fell upon Pepperell. Shirley had enjoined upon him to keep in harmony with the naval commander ; and the injunction was in accord with Pepperell s conciliating temper. Warren was as earnest as he for the success of the siege, lent him ammunition in time of need, and offered every aid in his power ; while Pepperell, in letters to Shirley and Newcastle, praised the commodore without stint. But the two men were widely different in habits and character. Warren was in the prime of life, and had not outlived the ardor of youth. The slow progress of the siege sorely tried his patience. Prisoners told him of a squadron coming from Brest, of which the Vigilant was the forerunner; and he feared that, even if it could not defeat him, it might elude the blockade, and, with the help of the fogs, get into Louisbourg in spite of him, and make its capture impossible. Therefore he called a council of captains on board his flagship, the Superbe, and proposed a plan for taking the place without further delay. This he laid before Pepperell on the same day. It was to the effect that all the king’s ships and provincial cruisers should enter the harbor, after taking on board sixteen hundred of Pepperell’s men, and attack the town from the water side, while what was left of the army should assault it by land. To accept the proposal would have been to pass over the command to Warren, as only about twenty-one hundred of Pepperell’s men were fit for service at the time ; and of these, as he informs Warren, six hundred were absent on scouting parties.
Warren replies with evident pique: “ I am very sorry that no one plan of mine has been so fortunate as to meet your approbation, or have any weight with you ; ” and, to show his title to consideration, lie gives an extract of a letter written to him by Shirley, in which that inveterate flatterer hinted his regret that, by reason of other employments, TV arren could not take command of the whole expedition, li which, I doubt not.” says the governor, “ would be a most happy event for his Majesty’s service.”
Pepperell kept his temper under this thrust, and wrote to the commodore with invincible courtesy : “ Am extremely sorry the fogs prevent me from the pleasure of waiting on you on board your ship: ” adding that six hundred men should be sent from the army and the transports to man the Vigilant, which was now the most powerful ship in the squadron. In short, he showed every disposition to meet Warren halfway. But the commodore was beginning to feel doubts as to the expediency of the bold action he had proposed, and informed Pepperell that his pilots thought it impossible to go into the harbor before the Island Battery was silenced. In fact, there was danger that, if the ships got in while that battery was still alive and active, they would never get out again, but be kept there as in a trap under the fire from the town ramparts.
Gridley’s artillery at Lighthouse Point had been doing its best, dropping bombshells into the Island Battery with such precision that the French soldiers were sometimes seen running into the sea to escape the explosion. Many of the island guns were dismounted, and the place was fast becoming untenable. At the same time, the English batteries on the land side were pushing their work of destruction with relentless industry, and wall and bastion crumbled under their fire. The French labored vigorously, under cover of night, to repair the mischief : closed the shattered West Gate with a wall of stone and earth twenty feet thick ; made an epaulement to protect what was left of the formidable Circular Battery, all but three of whose sixteen guns had been dismounted; closed the throat of the Dauphin’s Bastion with a barricade of stone; and built a cavalier or raised battery on the King’s Bastion, where, however, the English fire soon ruined it. Against that near and peculiarly dangerous neighbor, the advanced battery, they planted three heavy cannon to take it in flank. These, says Duchambon, had a marvelous effect, dismounted one of the cannon of the enemy and damaged all their embrasures, which, concludes the governor, “did not prevent them from keeping up a constant fire; and they repaired by night the mischief we did them by day.”
Pepperell and Warren came at last to an understanding as to a joint attack by land and water. The Island Battery was crippled, and the batteries that commanded the interior of the harbor were nearly destroyed. It was agreed that Warren, whose squadron was now increased by recent arrivals to eleven ships, besides the provincial cruisers, should enter the harbor with the first fair wind, cannonade the town, and attack it in boats, while Pepperell assaulted it from the land side. Warren was to hoist a Dutch flag under his pennant at his main topgallant mast head, and Pepperell was to answer by three columns of smoke, marching at the same time towards the walls with drums beating and colors flying.
The French saw with dismay a quantity of fascines carried to the foot of the glacis, ready to fill the ditch, and their scouts came in with reports that more than a thousand scaling ladders were lying behind the ridge of the nearest hill. Toil, loss of sleep, and the stifling air of the casemates in which they were forced to take refuge had sapped the strength of the besieged. The town was a ruin ; only one house was left untouched by shot or shell. “ We could have borne all this,” writes the intendant “Bigot, “but the scarcity of powder, the loss of the Vigilant, the presence of the squadron, and the absence of any news from Marin, who had been ordered to join us with his Canadians and Indians, spread terror among the troops and inhabitants. The townspeople said that they did not want to he put to the sword, and were not strong enough to resist a general assault.” On the 15th of June they brought Duchambon a petition begging him to capitulate.
On that day Captain Sherburn, at the advanced battery, wrote thus in his diary : “ By twelve o’clock we had got all our platforms laid, embrasures mended, guns in order, shot in place, cartridges ready, dinner finished, gunners quartered, matches lighted to return their last favors, when we heard their drums beat a parley, and soon appeared a flag of truce, which I received midway between our battery and their walls, conducted the officer to Green Hill, and delivered him to Colonel Richmond.”
La Perelle. the French officer, delivered a note from Duchambon, directed to both Pepperell and Warren, asking for a suspension of arms, to enable him to draw up proposals for capitulation. Warren chanced to be on shore when the note came, and the two commanders answered jointly that it had come in good time, as they had just resolved on a general attack, and that they would give the governor till eight o’clock the next morning to make his proposals.
The proposals came in due time, but were of such a nature that even the mild Pepperell refused to listen to them, and sent back Bonaventure, the officer who brought them, with counter proposals. These were the terms which Ducliambon had rejected on the 7th of May, with some conditions added, as, among others, that no officer, soldier, or inhabitant of Louisbourg should bear arms against the king of England or any of his allies for the space of a year. Ducliambon stipulated, as the condition of his acceptance, that his troops should march out of the fortress with their arms and colors. To this both the English commanders agreed. Warren observing to Pepperell, “The uncertainty of our affairs that depend so much on wind and weather makes it necessary not to stickle at trifles.” The articles were signed on both sides, and on the 17th of June the ships sailed peacefully into the harbor, while Pepperell, with a part of his ragged army, entered the South Gate of the town. “ Never was a place more mal’d [mauled] with cannon and shells,” he writes to Shirley. “ Neither have I read in History of any troops behaving with greater courage. We gave them about nine thousand cannon balls and six hundred bombs.” Thus this unique military performance ended in complete and astonishing success.
According to English accounts the French lost about three hundred men during the siege, but their real loss seems to have been not above a third of that number. On the side of the besiegers the deaths from all causes were only a hundred and thirty, about thirty of which were from disease. The French used their muskets to good purpose, but their mortar practice was bad, and though the advanced battery was close to their walls they often failed to hit it, while the ground on both sides of it was so torn up by the bursting of their shells that it looked like a ploughed field. Their surrender was determined largely by the want of ammunition, as, according to one account, they had but thirtyseven barrels of gunpowder left, in which particular the besiegers fared little better.3
The New England men had been full of confidence in the result of the intended assault, and a French writer says that the timely capitulation saved Louisbourg from a terrible fate; yet, ill armed and disorderly as the besiegers were, it may be doubted whether the quiet ending of the siege was not as fortunate for them as for their enemies. The discouragement of the French was increased by’ extravagant ideas of the number of the besiegers. The Habitant de Louisbourg puts them at eight or nine thousand men, and Duchambon reports to the minister, D’Argenson, that he was attacked by thirteen thousand in all. It, is true that his mortifying position was a pressing temptation to exaggerate.
Warren believed that the assault would succeed, and wrote to Pepperell that he hoped they would soon “ keep a good house together, and give the Ladys of Louisbourg a Gallant Ball.” When in the camp on the day the flag of truce came out, he made a speech to the New England soldiers, exhorting them to behave like true Englishmen, at which they cheered lustily. Making a visit to the Grand Battery on the same day, he won high favor with the regiment stationed there by giving them a hogshead of rum to drink his health.
Whether Wanrren’s “ gallant ball ” ever took place does not appear. Pepperell, on his part, celebrated the victory by a dinner to the commodore and his officers. As the redoubtable Parson Moody was the general’s chaplain and the oldest man in the army, he was invited to ask a blessing at the board, to the great concern of those who knew his habitual prolixity, and dreaded its effect on the guests. At the same time, not one of them dared to rasp his irritable temper by any suggestion of brevity, and hence they came in terror to the feast, expecting an invocation of a good half hour ended by open revolt of the hungry Britons, when, to their surprise and relief, Moody uttered himself thus : “ Good Lord, we have so much to thank thee tor that time will be too short, and we must leave it for eternity. Bless our food and fellowship on this joyful occasion, for the sake of Christ our Lord. Amen.”And with that he sat down. It is said that lie had been seen in the French church hewing at the altar and images with the axe he had brought for that purpose, and perhaps this iconoclastic performance had relieved the high pressure of his zeal.4
Amazing as their triumph was, Pepperell ’s soldiers were not pleased with the capitulation, and one of them thus records his disapproval in his diary: Sabath Day, ye 16th June. They came to Termes for us to enter ye sitty to morrow and Poore Termes they Bee too. The cause of discontent was the security of property assured to the inhabitants, “by which means,” says that blundering chronicler Rev. Samuel Niles, “the poor soldiers lost all their hopes and just demerit [desert] of plunder promised them.” In the meagreness of their pay they thought that they were entitled to t the pillage of Louisbourg, which they imagined to be a seat of wealth and luxury. Pepperell’s thrifty son-in-law, Nathaniel Sparhawk, shared this illusion, and begged the general to get for him (at a low price) a handsome service of silver plate. When the volunteers exchanged their dreary camp for what they expected to be the comfortable quarters of the town, they were disgusted to see the houses still occupied by their former owners, and to find themselves forced to stand guard at the doors to protect them.5 " A great Noys and hubbub a mongst ye Soldiers a bout ye Plunder ; Som Cursing som a Swarein,” writes one of the indignant victors.
They were not, and perhaps could not be, long kept in order; and when, in accordance with the capitulation, the inhabitants had been embarked for transportation to France, discipline broke down, and General Wolcott records that while Moody was preaching on a Sunday in the garrison chapel there was “ excessive stealing in every part of the town.” Nothing of value, however, was left to steal. But if the army found meagre gleanings, the navy reaped a rich harvest. The French ships, instead of being barred out of the harbor, were now lured to enter it. The French flag was kept flying over the town, and prizes were thus entrapped to the estimated value of a million pounds sterling, half of winch went to the Crown, and the rest to the British officers and sailors, the army getting no share whatever.
Now rose the vexed question of the relative part borne by the army and the navy, the colonies and the Crown, in the capture of Louisbourg ; and here it may be well to observe the impressions of a French witness of the siege : " It was an enterprise less of the English nation and its king than of the inhabitants of New England alone. This singular people have their own laws and administration, and their governor plays the sovereign. Admiral [Commodore] Warren had no authority over the troops sent by the governor of Boston, and he was only a spectator. . . . Nobody would have said that their sea and land forces belonged to the same nation and were under the same prince. No nation but the English is capable of such bizarreries, which nevertheless are a part of the precious liberty of which they show themselves so jealous.”
The French writer is correct when he says that the land and sea forces were under separate commands, and it is equally true that nothing but the conciliating temper of Pepperell could have preserved harmony between the two chiefs ; but when he calls Warren a mere spectator he does gross injustice to that gallant officer, whose activity was incessant and whose services were invaluable. He and his captains maintained, with slight lapses, an almost impossible blockade, without which the siege must have failed. Two or three small vessels got into the harbor, but the capture of the Vigilant, more than any other event of the siege, discouraged the French, and prepared them for surrender.
Several English writers speak of Warren and the navy as the captors of Louisbourg, and all New England writers give the chief credit to Pepperell and the army. Neither army nor navy would have succeeded without the other. Warren and his officers, in a council of war, had determined that so long as the Island Battery and the water batteries of the town remained in an efficient state the ships could not enter the harbor, and Warren had publicly expressed the same opinion.6 He did not mean to enter till all the batteries that had made the attempt impracticable had been silenced or crippled by the army, and by the army alone. The whole work of the siege fell upon the land forces; and though it had been proposed to send a body of marines ashore, this was not done.7 Three or four gunners, intended, in the words of Warren, “ to put your men in the way of loading cannon,” were his only contribution to the operations of the siege. Though the fear of a joint attack by the troops and the ships no doubt hastened the surrender, the governor of Canada ascribes the defeat to the extreme activity with which the New England men pushed the siege.
The Habitant de Louisbourg says that each of the two commanders was eager that the keys of the fortress should be delivered to him, and not to his colleague; that, before the surrender, Warren sent an officer to persuade the French that it would be for their advantage to make their submission to him rather than to Pepperell; and that it was, in fact, so made. Wolcott, on the other hand, with the best means of learning the truth, says in his diary that Peppered received the keys at the South Gate. The report that it was the British commodore, and not their own general, to whom Louisbourg surrendered made a prodigious stir among the inhabitants of New England, Who had the touchiness common to small and ambitious peoples; and as they had begun the enterprise and borne most of its burdens and dangers, they thought themselves entitled to the chief credit of it. Pepperell was blamed as lukewarm for the honor of his country, because he did not demand the keys, and annul the capitulation if they were refused. After all this ebullition, it appeared that the keys were in his hands ; for when, in the following August, Shirley came to Louisbourg, Peppered formally presented them to him in the presence of the soldiers.
Warren no doubt felt that he had a right to precedence, as an officer of the king in regular standing, while Peppered was a civilian, clothed with temporary lank by the commission of a provincial governor. Warren was an impetuous I1TI1 sailor, accustomed to command, and I epperell was a merchant, accustomed to manage and persuade. The difference appears in their correspondence during the siege. Warren is sometimes brusque and almost peremptory. Pepperell is forbearing to the utmost. He liked Warren, and to the last continued to praise him highly in letters to Shirley and other provincial governors ; while Warren, on occasion of Shirley’s arrival at Louisbourg, made a speech complimentary to the general and his soldiers.
The news that Louisbourg was taken reached Boston, by a vessel sent express, at one o’clock in the morning of the 3d of July. An uproar of bells and cannon proclaimed it to the sleeping citizens, and before the sun rose the streets were filled with shouting crowds. At night every window shone with lamps, and the town was ablaze with fireworks and bonfires. The next Thursday was appointed a day of general thanksgiving for a victory believed to be the direct work of an approving Providence. New lork and Philadelphia also hailed the news with illuminations, ringing of bells, and firing of cannon.
In England the tidings were received with astonishment, and a joy that was dashed with reflections on the strength and mettle of colonies suspected already of aspiring to independence. Warren was made an admiral and Pepperell a baronet, no empty honor among a people who, with all their republican leanings, reverenced a title no less than do some of their descendants of to-day. The merchant general was made a colonel in the British army, and a regiment was given him, to be raised in America and maintained by the king, while a similar recognition was granted to the lawyer, Shirley.
A question vital to Massachusetts worried her in the midst of her triumph. She had been bankrupt for many years, and of the great volume of her outstanding debt a considerable part was not worth eightpence in the pound. Besides this, she had spent £183,649 sterling on the Louisbourg expedition. That which Smollett calls “ the most important achievement of the war ” would never have taken place but for her, and Old England, and not New, was to reap the profit ; for Louisbourg, conquered by arms, was to be restored by diplomacy. If the money she had spent for the mother country were not repaid, her ruin would be certain. William: Bollan, a son-in-law of Shirley, was sent out to urge the just claim of the province, and after vigorous solicitation he succeeded. The full amount in sterling value was paid to Massachusetts, and the expenditures of the other New England colonies were also reimbursed. The people of Boston saw twenty-seven of those long, unwieldy trucks, which the elders of the place still remember as used in their youth, rumbling up King Street to the treasury, loaded with two hundred and seventeen chests of Spanish dollars and a hundred barrels of copper coin. A pound sterling was worth eleven pounds of the old tenor currency of Massachusetts, and thirty shillings of the new tenor. These beneficent trucks carried enough to buy in at a stroke nine tenths of the old tenor notes of the province, nominally worth above two million pounds. A stringent tax, laid on by the Assembly, paid the remaining tenth, and Massachusetts was restored to financial health.8
NOTE. — The English documents on the siege of Louisbourg are very numerous. The Pepperell Papers and the Belknap Papers, both in the library of the Massachusetts Historical Society, afford a vast number of contemporary letters and papers. The large volume entitled Siege of Louisbourg, in the same repository, contains many more, including autograph diaries of soldiers and others. To these are to be added the journals of General Wolcott, James Gibson, Benjamin Cleves, Seth Pomeroy, and several more, in print or manuscript, among which is to be noted the journal appended to Shirley’s letter to the Duke of Newcastle, dated 28 October, 1745. This journal bears the names of Pepperell. Brigadier Waldo, Colonel Moore, and Lieutenant-Colonels Lothrop and Gridley, who attest its accuracy. Many papers have also been drawn from the Public Record Office of London.
Accounts of this affair have hitherto rested, with but slight exceptions, on English authorities alone. The archives of France have furnished useful material for the foregoing narrative, notably the long report of the French governor, Duchambon, to the minister of war, and the letter of the intendant Bigot to the same personage, written about six weeks after the surrender. But the most curious French testimony concerning the siege is the “Lettre d’un Habitant de Louisbourg, nontenant une Relation exacte & circoiistanciée de la Prise de l’Isle-Royale par les Anglois. A Québec chez Guillaume le Sincère, à l’Image de la Vérité, 1745.” This little book, of eighty-one printed pages, is extremely rare. I could study it only by having a literatim transcript made from the copy in the BibliotMque Rationale, as it was not to he found in the British Museum. It hears the signature “ B. L. N.,” and is dated . ce 28 Août, 1745.” The imprint of Quebec is certainly intended as a mask, the book having no doubt been printed in France. It criticises Duchambon severely, and makes him mainly answerable for the disaster.
- The list of a company of forty-two ” subscribers to go voluntarily upon an attact against the Island Battery ” is preserved. It includes a negro called “Ruben.” The captain, chosen by the men, was Daniel Bacon. The fact that neither this name nor that of Brooks, the chief commander, is to be found in the list of Pepperell’s commissioned officers printed by Parsons (Life of Pepperell, appendix) suggests the conclusion that the volunteers were permitted to choose officers from their own ranks. This list, however, is not quite complete.↩
- Douglas makes it a little less: ‘“We lost in this mad frolic 60 men, killed and drowned, and 116 prisoners.”↩
- Pepperell complains several times of a total want of Loth powder and halls. Warren writes to him on May 29th: “It is very lucky that we can spare you some powder. I am told you had not a grain left.”↩
- A descendant of Moody, at the village of York, told me that he was found in the church employed as above.↩
- “Thursday ye 21 st. Ye French keep possession yet and we are forsed to stand at their Dores to gard them. (Diary of a Soldier, anonymous.)↩
- Report of Consultation on board the Superbe, 7 June, 1745. “Commodore Warren did say puhlickly that before the Circular Battery was reduced he would not venture in here with three times ye sea force he had with him, and through divine assistance we tore that and this city almost, to pieces.” (Pepperell to Shirley, 4 July, 1745.)↩
- Warren had no men to spare. He says: " it should be thought necessary to join your troops with any men from our ships, it should only be done for some sudden attack that may be executed in one day or night.” (Warren to Pepperell, 11 May, 1745.) No such occasion arose.↩
- It was through the exertions of the muchabused Thomas Hutchinson, Speaker of the Assembly and historian of Massachusetts, that the money was used for the laudable purpose of extinguishing the old debt.↩