Siege of Louisburg

THE campaign of 1758 opened with the siege of Louisburg. Admiral Boscawen arrived at Halifax early in May, with a fleet of almost forty vessels, bearing an army of ten thousand effective men led by Sir Jeffery Amherst, with General James Wolfe as his chief lieutenant. At near the close of May the whole armament left Halifax for Cape Breton, and landed on the shores of Gabarus Bay, not far from Louisburg, on the 8th of June. The surf was running high and breaking in foam on the rugged shore. Wolfe, at the head of the first division, ventured among the turbulent waters before the dawn. Several of his launches bearing troops were upset or shattered. When he reached shoal water, the impatient young general leaped into the sea waist-deep, drew his sword, and in the morning twilight led his soldiers against breastworks and abatis in the face of a sharp fire from batteries. The French were driven from their outworks into the fort, and the siege immediately began. It lasted almost fifty days.

The garrison at Louisburg was composed of twenty-five hundred regulars and six hundred militia, under the command of Chevalier de Drucourt. In the harbor were several ships of the line and some frigates; and vessels were sunk at the entrance of the harbor to prevent the ingress of an enemy. Wolfe was the soul of the expedition. Four days after the landing, he led some infantry and Highlanders to the capture of a battery on the northeast side of the harbor; and smaller works were soon secured. The English cannon were placed in battery and soon began to play upon other outworks, the fort, the town, and the vessels in the harbor. Four of the latter were burned and one was carried off by the English, late in July. The town of Louisburg was then reduced to a ruin. Almost all of the cannon of the fort had been dismantled by English shot and shell; and the French were compelled to capitulate on the 26th of the month. The next day the English took possession of the fort and town, with the islands of Cape Breton and Prince Edward; and all the coast nearly to the mouth of the St. Lawrence passed into the possession of Great Britain. The spoils of victory were about five thousand prisoners and a large quantity of munitions of war. After that victory, the French power in America began to wane. The attempt to capture Quebec was deferred until another year, and Wolfe returned home and received the plaudits of the nation.

Return to Our Country, Vol. I