Louisbourg 1758
The painting reads, “A view of Louisbourg in North America, taken from the Light Houfe when that City was besieged in 1758.” (Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. R9266-1520 Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana)


From A Gentleman’s Career At Sea – Review by David Twiston Davies of The Wooden World – An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy by N.A.M. Rodger

“… Nicholas Rodger believes that life in the wooden world of one of His Majesty’s ships during the Seven Years’ War, 1755 to 1763, had much to recommend it by the standards of the day.  For a youth from a labouring family, the pay and food were better than he could expect from labouring on the land … Seamen’s skills and, particularly agility had to be learned young, so it was not unknown for boys to go to sea at 6.  A ship’s company was, above all, an intimate unit in which a captain liked to draw his followers from his family’s estates and set his nephews and the sons of friends on their careers … [Captain Cook was a farm labourer’s son] … Unlike the army, the navy did not permit purchase of commissions, although financial inducements seem to have been occasionally made on foreign stations by expectant successors … The author is perhaps a little harsh in saying that, almost alone among the responsibilities of Georgian government, war at sea was considered too important to be left to the politicians.  Yet the workings of ‘interest’ – those political and family links that oiled the wheels of administration at every level – were always subject to professional considerations at the Admiralty.  As the largest industrial unit in the eighteenth-century world, it was not afraid to refuse anyone … the Admiralty appreciated the role of fresh vegetables in preventing scurvy, and even supplied fresh beef to the North American squadrons wintering at Halifax.  A rough-and -ready approach to discipline, enforced by kicks and cuffs, was acceptable, Rodger says, because there was no class tension in the middle of the century, … Since discipline, as such, was unquestioned, much more seriously regarded were offences threatening the well-being of a ship’s company as a whole, such as theft, murder and sodomy … Desertion, a court-martial offence, was usually treated with surprising leniency.  When Boscawen was about to launch the Louisbourg expedition in 1758, he threatened those overdue from leave in Halifax with fines, but nothing more.”

From The History of Acadia by James Hannay

Excerpt from Pages 414 to 416

“… The capture of Louisbourg was the first object essayed by Pitt, and he selected men for that enterprise that he knew would not repeat the tactics of Loudon and Holborne.  The command of the land forces was given to General Jeffrey Amherst, a man of singular ability, bravery and discretion, whose fame has been somewhat eclipsed by that of the hero of Quebec, but whose services to his country cannot be too highly estimated.  Under him were three able Brigadiers, Wolfe, Lawrence and Whitmore, the land forces amounting to 12,000 men.  The fleet was under command of Admiral Boscawen, an officer of distinguished courage, and consisted of 23 ships-of-the-line and 18 frigates.  The fleet which, including transports, numbered 157 sail, left Halifax on 28 May, 1758 and a part of it arrived in Gabarus Bay, near Louisbourg, on 2nd June. The surf and fog made it impossible to effect a landing until 8th June.  The French, who had fortified the line of coast, made a stout resistance, but the heroism of Wolfe, and the courage of the soldiers whom he led, broke their line of defense and seized the key of the position, so that they were obliged to retreat.  A landing having been effected, the operations of the siege were carried on with great vigour.  The French abandoned the Royal battery at the head of the harbour and the Light House battery which lay opposite Louisbourg, and General Wolfe took possession of the latter battery on the 12th with 1200 men.  Then he mounted guns from which he destroyed the shipping in the harbour and silenced the Island battery.  Meanwhile, approaches were made and batteries erected against Louisbourg on the land side.  The city was surrounded by a girdle of fire and day by day the fortifications crumbled way.  Of the five war vessels in the harbour, three were destroyed by fire of the besiegers, and on the night of the 25th July a detachment from the fleet, under command of Captains Laforey and Balfour, entered harbour of Louisbourg, burnt one of the remaining war ships and towed out the other.  Next day articles of capitulation were signed and on 27th July Louisbourg was surrendered.  The capitulation included the whole Island of Cape Breton and the Island of St. John (P.E.I.).  The garrison consisting of 3,031 soldiers and 2,606 sailors, were sent to England as prisoners of war.  A detachment was sent to take possession of the Island of St. John, where the inhabitants to the number of 4,100 submitted and surrendered arms. Of the 2,400 inhabitants of Cape Breton, 1700 were sent to France at their own request.  The rest remained on the Island and submitted to English rule.  The Acadians soon felt the loss of their protector, Louisbourg.  A squadron was sent to Miramichi and to Gaspe to destroy the settlements they had made there, and returned after inflicting as much damage as possible upon them.  Colonel Monckton was sent with a detachment of the Colonial Highlanders and Colonel Howe’s light infantry to the St. John River to drive the French from the fort at its mouth.”

From Louisbourg – From Its Foundation to Its Fall 1713 – 1758 by J.S. McLennan

Excerpt from Page 261

List of English Fleet









Admiral Boscawen Matthew Buckle

Philip Afflick

Royal William



Sir Charles Hardy Thos. Evans

Wm. Dumaresq




Wm. Gordon

Jno. Proctor

Gr. Frederick



Robt. Man

Jno. Gordon




Alex. Schomberg

Jos. Norwood




Maxm. Jacobs

Lewis Gordon

Sloop Hunter



Jno. Laforey

Jno. Sharpe


From The History of England – The Revolution – The Death of George the Second A Continuation of Mr. Hume’s History – by T. Smollett, M.D.. A new Edition  -In Four Volumes Volume IV, London: Printed for T. Cadell, Strand. 1841.

Pages 8 and 9 Chapter XXIX 1756 Expedition to Cape Breton

. . . Scenes of still greater importance were acted in North America , where, exclusive of the fleet and marines, the government had assembled about fifty thousand men, including two-and-twenty regular troops.  The chief command in America devolved on Major-General Abercrombie; but as the objects of operation were various, the forces were divided into three detached bodies, under as many different commanders.  About twelve thousand were destined to undertake the seige of Louisbourg, on the island of Cape Breton.  The General himself reserved near sixteen thousand for the reduction of Crown Point, a fort situated on Lake Champlain: eight thousand, under the conduct of Brigadier-General Forbes, were allotted for the conquest of Fort Du Quesne, which stood a great way to the southward, near the river Ohio; and a considerable garrison was left at Annapolis, in Nova Scotia.  The reduction of Louisbourg and the Island of Cape Breton, being an object of immediate consideration, was undertaken with all possible despatch.  Major-General Amherst being joined by Admiral Boscowen, with the fleet and forces from England, the whole armament consisting of one hundred and fifty-seven sail took their departure from the harbour at Halifax, in Nova Scotia, on the 28th of May; and on the second of June part of the transports anchored in the bay of Gabarus about seven miles to the westward of Louisbourg.  The garrison of this place, commanded by the Chevalier Drucour, consisted of two thousand five hundred regular troops, three hundred militias . . . and towards the end of the seige they were reinforced by three hundred and fifty Canadians, including threescore Indians.  The harbour was secured by six ships of the line and five frigates (the Prudent of 74 guns; the Entreprenante of 74 guns; . . . Bienfaisant of 64 guns) three of which the enemy sunk across the harbour’s mouth, in order to render it inaccessible to the English shipping.  The fortifications were in bad repair . . . The Governor had taken all precautions in his power to prevent a landing . . . on the eight of June, the troops being assembled in boats . . . in three divisions, several sloops and frigates . . . began to scour the beach with their shot; and after the fire . . . the boats containing the division on the left were rowed toward the shore, under the command of Brigadier-General Wolfe . . .

Page 10

. . . the other divisions landed also . . . The difficulty of landing stores and implements in boisterous weather, and the nature of the ground, being marshy, was unfit for the conveyance of heavy cannon . . . Mr. Amherst made his approaches with great circumspection . . . the Governor of Louisbourg, having destroyed the grand battery which was detached from the body of the place, and recalled his outposts, prepared to make a vigouous defence.  A very severe fire, well directed, was maintained against the beseigers and their works . . . Brigadier Wolfe, with a strong detachment . . . had . . . taken possession of the Lighthouse point, where he erected several batteries . . . On the nineteenth day of June, the Echo, a French frigate, was taken by the English cruisers . . .

Page 11

Brigadier Wolfe . . . grievously incommoded the enemy, both of the town and shipping.  On the twenty-first of July the three great ships, the Entreprenante, Capricieux, and Célèbre, were set on fire by a bomb-shell, and burned to ashes; so that none remained but the Prudent and the Bienfaisant, which the Admiral undertook to destroy.  For this purpose, in the night between the twenty-fifth and the twenty-sixth days of the month, the boats of the squadron were in two divisions detached into the harbour under the command of two young captains, Laforey and Balfour.  They accordingly penetrated, in the dark, through a terrible fire of cannon and musketry; and boarded the enemy, sword in hand.  The Prudent, being aground, was set on fire and destroyed, but the Bienfaisant was towed out of the harbour in triumph . . . the Governor, in a letter to Mr. Amherst, proposed a capitulation on the same articles that were granted to the English at Pont Mahon . . . 

Page 12

. . . On the 27th day of July . . . Brigadier Whitmore was detached into the town, to see the garrison lay down their arms, and deliver up their colours on the esplanade . . . thus at the expense of about four hundred men killed and wounded, the English obtained possession of the important island of Louisbourg . . . The merchants and inhabitants were sent to France in English bottoms; but the garrison, together with the sea-officers, marines, and mariners, amounting in all to five thousand six hundred and thirty-seven prisoners, were transported to England.  The loss of Louisbourg was the more severely felt by the French king, as it had been attended with the destruction of so many considerable ships and frigates . . .      

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