[Footnote 559: Memoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760. Memoire sur les Fraudes, etc. Compare Pouchot, I. 8.]
[Footnote 560: Memoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]
Another prominent name on the roll of knavery was that of Varin, commissary of marine, and Bigot's deputy at Montreal, a Frenchman of low degree, small in stature, sharp witted, indefatigable, conceited, arrogant, headstrong, capricious, and dissolute. Worthless as he was, he found a place in the Court circle of the Governor, and aspired to supplant Bigot in the intendancy. To this end, as well as to save himself from justice, he had the fatuity to turn informer and lay bare the sins of his confederates, though forced at the same time to betray his own. Among his comrades and allies may be mentioned Deschenaux, son of a shoemaker at Quebec, and secretary to the Intendant; Martel, King's storekeeper at Montreal; the humpback Maurin, who is not to be confounded with the partisan officer Marin; and Corpron, a clerk whom several tradesmen had dismissed for rascality, but who was now in the confidence of Cadet, to whom he made himself useful, and in whose service he grew rich.
Canada was the prey of official jackals,—true lion's providers, since they helped to prepare a way for the imperial beast, who, roused at last from his lethargy, was gathering his strength to seize her for his own. Honesty could not be expected from a body of men clothed with arbitrary and ill-defined powers, ruling with absolute sway an unfortunate people who had no voice in their own destinies, and answerable only to an apathetic master three thousand miles away. Nor did the Canadian Church, though supreme, check the corruptions that sprang up and flourished under its eye. The Governor himself was charged with sharing the plunder; and though he was acquitted on his trial, it is certain that Bigot had him well in hand, that he was intimate with the chief robbers, and that they found help in his weak compliances and wilful blindness. He put his stepson, Le Verrier, in command at Michillimackinac, where, by fraud and the connivance of his stepfather, the young man made a fortune. When the Colonial Minister berated the Intendant for maladministration, Vaudreuil became his advocate, and wrote thus in his defence: "I cannot conceal from you, Monseigneur, how deeply M. Bigot feels the suspicions expressed in your letters to him. He does not deserve them, I am sure. He is full of zeal for the service of the King; but as he is rich, or passes as such, and as he has merit, the ill-disposed are jealous, and insinuate that he has prospered at the expense of His Majesty. I am certain that it is not true, and that nobody is a better citizen than he, or has the King's interest more at heart." For Cadet, the butcher's son, the Governor asked a patent of nobility as a reward for his services. When Pean went to France in 1758, Vaudreuil wrote to the Colonial Minister: "I have great confidence in him. He knows the colony and its needs. You can trust all he says. He will explain everything in the best manner. I shall be extremely sensible to any kindness you may show him, and hope that when you know him you will like him as much as I do."
[Footnote 561: Memoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]
[Footnote 562: Vaudreuil au Ministre, 15 Oct. 1759.]
[Footnote 563: Ibid., 7 Nov. 1759.]
[Footnote 564: Ibid., 6 Aout, 1758.]
Administrative corruption was not the only bane of Canada. Her financial condition was desperate. The ordinary circulating medium consisted of what was known as card money, and amounted to only a million of francs. This being insufficient, Bigot, like his predecessor Hocquart, issued promissory notes on his own authority, and made them legal tender. They were for sums from one franc to a hundred, and were called ordonnances. Their issue was blamed at Versailles as an encroachment on the royal prerogative, though they were recognized by the Ministry in view of the necessity of the case. Every autumn those who held them to any considerable amount might bring them to the colonial treasurer, who gave in return bills of exchange on the royal treasury in France. At first these bills were promptly paid; then delays took place, and the notes depreciated; till in 1759 the Ministry, aghast at the amount, refused payment, and the utmost dismay and confusion followed.
[Footnote 565: Reflections sommaires sur le Commerce qui s'est fait en Canada. Etat present du Canada. Compare Stevenson, Card Money of Canada, in Transactions of the Historical Society of Quebec, 1873-1875.]
The vast jarring, discordant mechanism of corruption grew incontrollable; it seized upon Bigot, and dragged him, despite himself, into perils which his prudence would have shunned. He was becoming a victim to the rapacity of his own confederates, whom he dared not offend by refusing his connivance and his signature of frauds which became more and more recklessly audacious. He asked leave to retire from office, in the hope that his successor would bear the brunt of the ministerial displeasure. Pean had withdrawn already, and with the fruits of his plunder bought land in France, where he thought himself safe. But though the Intendant had long been an object of distrust, and had often been warned to mend his ways, yet such was his energy, his executive power, and his fertility of resource, that in the crisis of the war it was hard to dispense with him. Neither his abilities, however, nor his strong connections in France, nor an ally whom he had secured in the bureau of the Colonial Minister himself, could avail him much longer; and the letters from Versailles became appalling in rebuke and menace.
[Footnote 566: Ordres du Roy et Depeches des Ministres, 1751-1758.]
"The ship 'Britannia,'" wrote the Minister, Berryer, "laden with goods such as are wanted in the colony, was captured by a privateer from St. Malo, and brought into Quebec. You sold the whole cargo for eight hundred thousand francs. The purchasers made a profit of two millions. You bought back a part for the King at one million, or two hundred thousand more than the price which you sold the whole. With conduct like this it is no wonder that the expenses of the colony become insupportable. The amount of your drafts on the treasury is frightful. The fortunes of your subordinates throw suspicion on your administration." And in another letter on the same day: "How could it happen that the small-pox among the Indians cost the King a million francs? What does this expense mean? Who is answerable for it? Is it the officers who command the posts, or is it the storekeepers? You give me no particulars. What has become of the immense quantity of provisions sent to Canada last year? I am forced to conclude that the King's stores are set down as consumed from the moment they arrive, and then sold to His Majesty at exorbitant prices. Thus the King buys stores in France, and then buys them again in Canada. I no longer wonder at the immense fortunes made in the colony." Some months later the Minister writes: "You pay bills without examination, and then find an error in your accounts of three million six hundred thousand francs. In the letters from Canada I see nothing but incessant speculation in provisions and goods, which are sold to the King for ten times more than they cost in France. For the last time, I exhort you to give these things your serious attention, for they will not escape from mine."
[Footnote 567: Le Ministre a Bigot, 19 Jan. 1759.]
[Footnote 568: Ibid., 29 Aout, 1759.]
"I write, Monsieur, to answer your last two letters, in which you tell me that instead of sixteen millions, your drafts on the treasury for 1758 will reach twenty-four millions, and that this year they will rise to from thirty-one to thirty-three millions. It seems, then, that there are no bounds to the expenses of Canada. They double almost every year, while you seem to give yourself no concern except to get them paid. Do you suppose that I can advise the King to approve such an administration? or do you think that you can take the immense sum of thirty-three millions out of the royal treasury by merely assuring me that you have signed drafts for it? This, too, for expenses incurred irregularly, often needlessly, always wastefully; which make the fortune of everybody who has the least hand in them, and about which you know so little that after reporting them at sixteen millions, you find two months after that they will reach twenty-four. You are accused of having given the furnishing of provisions to one man, who under the name of commissary-general, has set what prices he pleased; of buying for the King at second or third hand what you might have got from the producer at half the price; of having in this and other ways made the fortunes of persons connected with you; and of living in splendor in the midst of a public misery, which all the letters from the colony agree in ascribing to bad administration, and in charging M. de Vaudreuil with weakness in not preventing."
[Footnote 569: Le Ministre a Bigotu, 29 Aout, 1759 (second letter of this date).]
These drastic utterances seem to have been partly due to a letter written by Montcalm in cipher to the Marechal de Belleisle, then minister of war. It painted the deplorable condition of Canada, and exposed without reserve the peculations and robberies of those intrusted with its interests. "It seems," said the General, "as if they were all hastening to make their fortunes before the loss of the colony; which many of them perhaps desire as a veil to their conduct." He gives among other cases that of Le Mercier, chief of Canadian artillery, who had come to Canada as a private soldier twenty years before, and had so prospered on fraudulent contracts that he would soon be worth nearly a million. "I have often," continues Montcalm, "spoken of these expenditures to M. de Vaudreuil and M. Bigot; and each throws the blame on the other." And yet at the same time Vaudreuil was assuring the Minister that Bigot was without blame.
[Footnote 570: Montcalm au Ministre de la Guerre, Lettre confidentielle, 12 Avril, 1759.]
Some two months before Montcalm wrote this letter, the Minister, Berryer, sent a despatch to the Governor and Intendant which filled them with ire and mortification. It ordered them to do nothing without consulting the general of the French regulars, not only in matters of war, but in all matters of administration touching the defence and preservation of the colony. A plainer proof of confidence on one hand and distrust on the other could not have been given.
[Footnote 571: Le Ministre a Vaudreuil et Bigot, 20 Fev. 1759.]
One Querdisien-Tremais was sent from Bordeaux as an agent of Government to make investigation. He played the part of detective, wormed himself into the secrets of the confederates, and after six months of patient inquisition traced out four distinct combinations for public plunder. Explicit orders were now given to Bigot, who, seeing no other escape, broke with Cadet, and made him disgorge two millions of stolen money. The Commissary-General and his partners became so terrified that they afterwards gave up nearly seven millions more. Stormy events followed, and the culprits found shelter for a time amid the tumults of war. Peculation did not cease, but a day of reckoning was at hand.
[Footnote 572: Proces de Bigot, Cadet, et autres, Memoirs pour Francois Bigot, 3'me partie.]
NOTE: The printed documents of the trial of Bigot and the other peculators include the defence of Bigot, of which the first part occupies 303 quarto pages, and the second part 764. Among the other papers are the arguments for Pean, Varin, Saint-Blin, Boishebert, Martel, Joncaire-Chabert and several more, along with the elaborate _Jugement rendue_, the _Requetes du Procureur-General,_ the _Reponse aux Memoires de M. Bigot et du Sieur Pean,_ etc., forming together five quarto volumes, all of which I have carefully examined. These are in the Library of Harvard University. There is another set, also of five volumes, in the Library of the Historical Society of Quebec, containing most of the papers just mentioned, and, bound with them, various others in manuscript, among which are documents in defence of Vaudreuil (printed in part); Estebe, Corpron, Penisseault, Maurin, and Breard. I have examined this collection also. The manuscript _Ordres du Roy et Depeches des Ministres_, 1757-1760, as well as the letters of Vaudreuil, Bougainville, Daine, Doreil, and Montcalm throw much light on the maladministration of the time; as do many contemporary documents, notably those entitled _Memoire sur les Fraudes commises dans la Colonie, Etat present du Canada,_ and _Memoire sur le Canada_ (Archives Nationales). The remarkable anonymous work printed by the Historical Society of Quebec under the title _Memoires sur le Canada depuis 1749 jusqu'ae 1760, is full of curious matter concerning Bigot and his associates which squares well with other evidence. This is the source from which Smith, in his _History of Canada_ (Quebec, 1815), drew most of his information on the subject. A manuscript which seems to be the original draft of this valuable document was preserved at the Bastile, and, with other papers, was thrown into the street when that castle was destroyed. They were gathered up, and afterwards bought by a Russian named Dubrowski, who carried them to St. Petersburg. Lord Dufferin, when minister there, procured a copy of the manuscript in question, which is now in the keeping of Abbe H. Verreau at Montreal, to whose kindness I owe the opportunity of examining it. In substance it differs little from the printed work, though the language and the arrangement often vary from it. The author, whoever he may have been, was deeply versed in Canadian affairs of the time, and though often caustic, is generally trustworthy.
The war kindled in the American forest was now raging in full conflagration among the kingdoms of Europe; and in the midst stood Frederic of Prussia, a veritable fire-king. He had learned through secret agents that he was to be attacked, and that the wrath of Maria Theresa with her two allies, Pompadour and the Empress of Russia, was soon to wreak itself upon him. With his usual prompt audacity he anticipated his enemies, marched into Saxony, and began the Continental war. His position seemed desperate. England, sundered from Austria, her old ally, had made common cause with him; but he had no other friend worth the counting. France, Russia, Austria, Sweden, Saxony, the collective Germanic Empire, and most of the smaller German States had joined hands for his ruin, eager to crush him and divide the spoil, parcelling out his dominions among themselves in advance by solemn mutual compact. Against the five millions of Prussia were arrayed populations of more than a hundred million. The little kingdom was open on all sides to attack, and her enemies were spurred on by the bitterest animosity. It was thought that one campaign would end the war. The war lasted seven years, and Prussia came out of it triumphant. Such a warrior as her indomitable king Europe has rarely seen. If the Seven Years War made the maritime and colonial greatness of England, it also raised Prussia to the rank of a first-class Power.
Frederic began with a victory, routing the Austrians in one of the fiercest of recorded conflicts, the battle of Prague. Then in his turn he was beaten at Kolin. All seemed lost. The hosts of the coalition were rolling in upon him like a deluge. Surrounded by enemies, in the jaws of destruction, hoping for little but to die in battle, this strange hero solaced himself with an exhaustless effusion of bad verses, sometimes mournful, sometimes cynical, sometimes indignant, and sometimes breathing a dauntless resolution; till, when his hour came, he threw down his pen to achieve those feats of arms which stamp him one of the foremost soldiers of the world.
The French and Imperialists, in overwhelming force, thought to crush him at Rosbach. He put them to shameful rout; and then, instead of bonfires and Te Deums, mocked at them in doggerel rhymes of amazing indecency. While he was beating the French, the Austrians took Silesia from him. He marched to recover it, found them strongly posted at Leuthen, eighty thousand men against thirty thousand, and without hesitation resolved to attack them. Never was he more heroic than on the eve of this, his crowning triumph. "The hour is at hand," he said to his generals. "I mean, in spite of the rules of military art, to attack Prince Karl's army, which is nearly thrice our own. This risk I must run, or all is lost. We must beat him or die, all of us, before his batteries." He burst unawares upon the Austrian left, and rolled their whole host together, corps upon corps, in a tumult of irretrievable ruin.
While her great ally was reaping a full harvest of laurels, England, dragged into the Continental war because that apple of discord, Hanover, belonged to her King, found little but humiliation. Minorca was wrested from her, and the Ministry had an innocent man shot to avert from themselves the popular indignation; while the same Ministry, scared by a phantom of invasion, brought over German troops to defend British soil. But now an event took place pregnant with glorious consequence. The reins of power fell into the hands of William Pitt. He had already held them for a brief space, forced into office at the end of 1756 by popular clamor, in spite of the Whig leaders and against the wishes of the King. But the place was untenable. Newcastle's Parliament would not support him; the Duke of Cumberland opposed him; the King hated him; and in April 1757, he was dismissed. Then ensued eleven weeks of bickering and dispute, during which, in the midst of a great war, England was left without a government. It became clear that none was possible without Pitt; and none with him could be permanent and strong unless joined with those influences which had thus far controlled the majorities of Parliament. Therefore an extraordinary union was brought about; Lord Chesterfield acting as go-between to reconcile the ill-assorted pair. One of them brought to the alliance the confidence and support of the people; the other, Court management, borough interest, and parliamentary connections. Newcastle was made First Lord of the Treasury, and Pitt, the old enemy who had repeatedly browbeat and ridiculed him, became Secretary of State, with the lead of the House of Commons and full control of the war and foreign affairs. It was a partnership of magpie and eagle. The dirty work of government, intrigue, bribery, and all the patronage that did not affect the war, fell to the share of the old politician. If Pitt could appoint generals, admirals, and ambassadors, Newcastle was welcome to the rest. "I will borrow the Duke's majorities to carry on the government," said the new secretary; and with the audacious self-confidence that was one of his traits, he told the Duke of Devonshire, "I am sure that I can save this country, and that nobody else can." England hailed with one acclaim the undaunted leader who asked for no reward but the honor of serving her. The hour had found the man. For the next four years this imposing figure towers supreme in British history.
He had glaring faults, some of them of a sort not to have been expected in him. Vanity, the common weakness of small minds, was the most disfiguring foible of this great one. He had not the simplicity which becomes greatness so well. He could give himself theatrical airs, strike attitudes, and dart stage lightnings from his eyes; yet he was formidable even in his affectations. Behind his great intellectual powers lay a burning enthusiasm, a force of passion and fierce intensity of will, that gave redoubled impetus to the fiery shafts of his eloquence; and the haughty and masterful nature of the man had its share in the ascendency which he long held over Parliament. He would blast the labored argument of an adversary by a look of scorn or a contemptuous wave of the hand.
The Great Commoner was not a man of the people in the popular sense of that hackneyed phrase. Though himself poor, being a younger son, he came of a rich and influential family; he was patrician at heart; both his faults and his virtues, his proud incorruptibility and passionate, domineering patriotism, bore the patrician stamp. Yet he loved liberty and he loved the people, because they were the English people. The effusive humanitarianism of to-day had no part in him, and the democracy of to-day would detest him. Yet to the middle-class England of his own time, that unenfranchised England which had little representation in Parliament, he was a voice, an inspiration, and a tower of strength. He would not flatter the people; but, turning with contempt from the tricks and devices of official politics, he threw himself with a confidence that never wavered on their patriotism and public spirit. They answered him with a boundless trust, asked but to follow his lead, gave him without stint their money and their blood, loved him for his domestic virtues and his disinterestedness, believed him even in his self-contradiction, and idolized him even in his bursts of arrogant passion. It was he who waked England from her lethargy, shook off the spell that Newcastle and his fellow-enchanters had cast over her, and taught her to know herself again. A heart that beat in unison with all that was British found responsive throbs in every corner of the vast empire that through him was to become more vast. With the instinct of his fervid patriotism he would join all its far-extended members into one, not by vain assertions of parliamentary supremacy, but by bonds of sympathy and ties of a common freedom and a common cause.
The passion for power and glory subdued in him all the sordid parts of humanity, and he made the power and glory of England one with his own. He could change front through resentment or through policy; but in whatever path he moved, his objects were the same: not to curb the power of France in America, but to annihilate it; crush her navy, cripple her foreign trade, ruin her in India, in Africa, and wherever else, east or west, she had found foothold; gain for England the mastery of the seas, open to her the great highways of the globe, make her supreme in commerce and colonization; and while limiting the activities of her rival to the European continent, give to her the whole world for a sphere.
To this British Roman was opposed the pampered Sardanapalus of Versailles, with the silken favorite who by calculated adultery had bought the power to ruin France. The Marquise de Pompadour, who began life as Jeanne Poisson,—Jane Fish,—daughter of the head clerk of a banking house, who then became wife of a rich financier, and then, as mistress of the King, rose to a pinnacle of gilded ignominy, chose this time to turn out of office the two ministers who had shown most ability and force,—Argenson, head of the department of war, and Machault, head of the marine and colonies; the one because he was not subservient to her will, and the other because he had unwittingly touched the self-love of her royal paramour. She aspired to a share in the conduct of the war, and not only made and unmade ministers and generals, but discussed campaigns and battles with them, while they listened to her prating with a show of obsequious respect, since to lose her favor was to risk losing all. A few months later, when blows fell heavy and fast, she turned a deaf ear to representations of financial straits and military disasters, played the heroine, affected a greatness of soul superior to misfortune, and in her perfumed boudoir varied her tiresome graces by posing as a Roman matron. In fact she never wavered in her spite against Frederic, and her fortitude was perfect in bearing the sufferings of others and defying dangers that could not touch her.
When Pitt took office it was not over France, but over England that the clouds hung dense and black. Her prospects were of the gloomiest. "Whoever is in or whoever is out," wrote Chesterfield, "I am sure we are undone both at home and abroad: at home by our increasing debt and expenses; abroad by our ill-luck and incapacity. We are no longer a nation." And his despondency was shared by many at the beginning of the most triumphant Administration in British history. The shuffling weakness of his predecessors had left Pitt a heritage of tribulation. From America came news of Loudon's manifold failures; from Germany that of the miscarriage of the Duke of Cumberland, who, at the head of an army of Germans in British pay, had been forced to sign the convention of Kloster-Zeven, by which he promised to disband them. To these disasters was added a third, of which the new Government alone had to bear the burden. At the end of summer Pitt sent a great expedition to attack Rochefort; the military and naval commanders disagreed, and the consequence was failure. There was no light except from far-off India, where Clive won the great victory of Plassey, avenged the Black Hole of Calcutta, and prepared the ruin of the French power and the undisputed ascendency of England.
If the English had small cause as yet to rejoice in their own successes, they found comfort in those of their Prussian allies. The rout of the French at Rossbach and of the Austrians at Leuthen spread joy through their island. More than this, they felt that they had found at last a leader after their own heart; and the consciousness regenerated them. For the paltering imbecility of the old Ministry they had the unconquerable courage, the iron purpose, the unwavering faith, the inextinguishable hope, of the new one. "England has long been in labor," said Frederic of Prussia, "and at last she has brought forth a man." It was not only that instead of weak commanders Pitt gave her strong ones; the same men who had served her feebly under the blight of the Newcastle Administration served her manfully and well under his robust impulsion. "Nobody ever entered his closet," said Colonel Barre, "who did not come out of it a braver man." That inspiration was felt wherever the British flag waved. Zeal awakened with the assurance that conspicuous merit was sure of its reward, and that no officer who did his duty would now be made a sacrifice, like Admiral Byng, to appease public indignation at ministerial failures. As Nature, languishing in chill vapors and dull smothering fogs, revives at the touch of the sun, so did England spring into fresh life under the kindling influence of one great man.
With the opening of the year 1758 her course of Continental victories began. The Duke of Cumberland, the King's son, was recalled in disgrace, and a general of another stamp, Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, was placed in command of the Germans in British pay, with the contingent of English troops now added to them. The French, too, changed commanders. The Duke of Richelieu, a dissolute old beau, returned to Paris to spend in heartless gallantries the wealth he had gained by plunder; and a young soldier-churchman, the Comte de Clermont, took his place. Prince Ferdinand pushed him hard with an inferior force, drove him out of Hanover, and captured eleven thousand of his soldiers. Clermont was recalled, and was succeeded by Contades, another incapable. One of his subordinates won for him the battle; of Lutterberg; but the generalship of Ferdinand made it a barren victory, and the campaign remained a success for the English. They made descents on the French coasts, captured; St.-Servan, a suburb of St.-Malo, and burned three ships of the line, twenty-four privateers, and sixty merchantmen; then entered Cherbourg, destroyed the forts, carried off or spiked the cannon, and burned twenty-seven vessels,—a success partially offset by a failure on the coast of Brittany, where they were repulsed with some loss. In Africa they drove the French from the Guinea coast, and seized their establishment at Senegal.
It was towards America that Pitt turned his heartiest efforts. His first aim was to take Louisbourg, as a step towards taking Quebec; then Ticonderoga, that thorn in the side of the northern colonies; and lastly Fort Duquesne, the Key of the Great West. He recalled Loudon, for whom he had a fierce contempt; but there were influences which he could not disregard, and Major-General Abercromby, who was next in order of rank, an indifferent soldier, though a veteran in years, was allowed to succeed him, and lead in person the attack on Ticonderoga. Pitt hoped that Brigadier Lord Howe, an admirable officer, who was joined with Abercromby, would be the real commander, and make amends for all short-comings of his chief. To command the Louisbourg expedition, Colonel Jeffrey Amherst was recalled from the German war, and made at one leap a major-general. He was energetic and resolute, somewhat cautious and slow, but with a bulldog tenacity of grip. Under him were three brigadiers, Whitmore, Lawrence, and Wolfe, of whom the youngest is the most noteworthy. In the luckless Rochefort expedition, Colonel James Wolfe was conspicuous by a dashing gallantry that did not escape the eye of Pitt, always on the watch for men to do his work. The young officer was ardent, headlong, void of fear, often rash, almost fanatical in his devotion to military duty, and reckless of life when the glory of England or his own was at stake. The third expedition, that against Fort Duquesne, was given to Brigadier John Forbes, whose qualities well fitted him for the task.
[Footnote 573: Order, War Office, 19 Dec. 1757.]
[Footnote 574: Pitt to Abercromby, 27 Jan. 1758. Instructions for our Trusty and Well-beloved Jeffrey Amherst, Esq., Major-General of our Forces in North America, 3 March, 1758.]
During his first short term of office, Pitt had given a new species of troops to the British army. These were the Scotch Highlanders, who had risen against the House of Hanover in 1745, and would raise against it again should France accomplish her favorite scheme of throwing a force into Scotland to excite another insurrection for the Stuarts. But they would be useful to fight the French abroad, though dangerous as their possible allies at home; and two regiments of them were now ordered to America.
Delay had been the ruin of the last year's attempt against Louisbourg. This time preparation was urged on apace; and before the end of winter two fleets had put to sea: one, under Admiral Boscawen, was destined for Louisbourg; while the other, under Admiral Osborn, sailed for the Mediterranean to intercept the French fleet of Admiral La Clue, who was about to sail from Toulon for America. Osborn, cruising between the coasts of Spain and Africa, barred the way to the Straits of Gibraltar, and kept his enemy imprisoned. La Clue made no attempt to force a passage; but several combats of detached ships took place, one of which is too remarkable to pass unnoticed. Captain Gardiner of the "Monmouth," a ship of four hundred and seventy men and sixty-four guns, engaged the French ship "Foudroyant," carrying a thousand men and eighty-four guns of heavier metal than those of the Englishman. Gardiner had lately been reproved by Anson, First Lord of the Admiralty, for some alleged misconduct or shortcoming, and he thought of nothing but retrieving his honor. "We must take her," he said to his crew as the "Foudroyant" hove in sight. "She looks more than a match for us, but I will not quit her while this ship can swim or I have a soul left alive;" and the sailors answered with cheers. The fight was long and furious. Gardiner was killed by a musket shot, begging his first lieutenant with his dying breath not to haul down his flag. The lieutenant nailed it to the mast. At length the "Foudroyant" ceased from thundering, struck her colors, and was carried a prize to England.
[Footnote 575: Entick, III. 56-60.]
The typical British naval officer of that time was a rugged sea-dog, a tough and stubborn fighter, though no more so than the politer generations that followed, at home on the quarter-deck, but no ornament to the drawing-room, by reason of what his contemporary, Entick, the strenuous chronicler of the war, calls, not unapprovingly, "the ferocity of his manners." While Osborn held La Clue imprisoned at Toulon, Sir Edward Hawke, worthy leader of such men, sailed with seven ships of the line and three frigates to intercept a French squadron from Rochefort convoying a fleet of transports with troops for America. The French ships cut their cables and ran for the shore, where most of them stranded in the mud, and some threw cannon and munitions overboard to float themselves. The expedition was broken up. Of the many ships fitted out this year for the succor of Canada and Louisbourg, comparatively few reached their destination, and these for the most part singly or by twos and threes.
Meanwhile Admiral Boscawen with his fleet bore away for Halifax, the place of rendezvous, and Amherst, in the ship "Dublin," followed in his wake.
The stormy coast of Cape Breton is indented by a small land-locked bay, between which and the ocean lies a tongue of land dotted with a few grazing sheep, and intersected by rows of stone that mark more or less distinctly the lines of what once were streets. Green mounds and embankments of earth enclose the whole space, and beneath the highest of them yawn arches and caverns of ancient masonry. This grassy solitude was once the "Dunkirk of America;" the vaulted caverns where the sheep find shelter from the ram were casemates where terrified women sought refuge from storms of shot and shell, and the shapeless green mounds were citadel, bastion, rampart, and glacis. Here stood Louisbourg; and not all the efforts of its conquerors, nor all the havoc of succeeding times, have availed to efface it. Men in hundreds toiled for months with lever, spade, and gunpowder in the work of destruction, and for more than a century it has served as a stone quarry; but the remains of its vast defences still tell their tale of human valor and human woe.
Stand on the mounds that were once the King's Bastion. The glistening sea spreads eastward three thousand miles, and its waves meet their first rebuff against this iron coast. Lighthouse Point is white with foam; jets of spray spout from the rocks of Goat Island; mist curls in clouds from the seething surf that lashes the crags of Black Point, and the sea boils like a caldron among the reefs by the harbor's mouth; but on the calm water within, the small fishing vessels rest tranquil at their moorings. Beyond lies a hamlet of fishermen by the edge of the water, and a few scattered dwellings dot the rough hills, bristled with stunted firs, that gird the quiet basin; while close at hand, within the precinct of the vanished fortress, stand two small farmhouses. All else is a solitude of ocean, rock, marsh, and forest.
[Footnote 576: Louisbourg is described as I saw it ten days before writing the above, after an easterly gale.]
At the beginning of June, 1758, the place wore another aspect. Since the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle vast sums had been spent in repairing and strengthening it; and Louisbourg was the strongest fortress in French or British America. Nevertheless it had its weaknesses. The original plan of the works had not been fully carried out; and owing, it is said, to the bad quality of the mortar, the masonry of the ramparts was in so poor a condition that it had been replaced in some parts with fascines. The circuit of the fortifications was more than a mile and a half, and the town contained about four thousand inhabitants. The best buildings in it were the convent, the hospital, the King's storehouses, and the chapel and governor's quarters, which were under the same roof. Of the private houses, only seven or eight were of stone, the rest being humble wooden structures, suited to a population of fishermen. The garrison consisted of the battalions of Artois, Bourgogne, Cambis, and Volontaires Etrangers, with two companies of artillery and twenty-four of colony troops from Canada,—in all three thousand and eighty regular troops, besides officers; and to these were added a body of armed inhabitants and a band of Indians. In the harbor were five ships of the line and seven frigates, carrying in all five hundred and forty-four guns and about three thousand men. Two hundred and nineteen cannon and seventeen mortars were mounted on the walls and outworks. Of these last the most important were the Grand Battery on the shore of the harbor opposite its mouth, and the Island Battery on the rocky islet at its entrance.
[Footnote 577: Journal du Siege de Louisbourg. Twenty-nine hundred regulars were able to bear arms when the siege began. Houlliere, Commandant des Troupes, au Ministre, 6 Aout, 1758.]
[Footnote 578: Le Prudent, 74 guns; Entreprenant, 74; Capricieux, 64; Celebre, 64; Bienfaisant, 64; Apollon, 50; Chevre, 22; Biche, 18; Fidele, 22; Echo, 26; Arethuse, 36; Comete, 30. The Bizarre, 64, sailed for France on the eighth of June, and was followed by the Comete.]
[Footnote 579: Etat d'Artillerie, appended to the Journal of Drucour. There were also forty-four cannon in reserve.]
The strongest front of the works was on the land side, along the base of the peninsular triangle on which the town stood. This front, about twelve hundred yards in extent, reached from the sea on the left to the harbor on the right, and consisted of four bastions with then-connecting curtains, the Princess's, the Queen's, the King's, and the Dauphin's. The King's Bastion formed part of the citadel. The glacis before it sloped down to an extensive marsh, which, with an adjacent pond, completely protected this part of the line. On the right, however, towards the harbor, the ground was high enough to offer advantages to an enemy, as was also the case, to a less degree, on the left, towards the sea. The best defence of Louisbourg was the craggy shore, that, for leagues on either hand, was accessible only at a few points, and even there with difficulty. All these points were vigilantly watched.
There had been signs of the enemy from the first opening of spring. In the intervals of fog, rain, and snow-squalls, sails were seen hovering on the distant sea; and during the latter part of May a squadron of nine ships cruised off the mouth of the harbor, appearing and disappearing, sometimes driven away by gales, sometimes lost in fogs, and sometimes approaching to within cannon-shot of the batteries. Their object was to blockade the port,—in which they failed; for French ships had come in at intervals, till, as we have seen, twelve of them lay safe anchored in the harbor, with more than a year's supply of provisions for the garrison.
At length, on the first of June, the southeastern horizon was white with a cloud of canvas. The long-expected crisis was come. Drucour, the governor, sent two thousand regulars, with about a thousand militia and Indians, to guard the various landing-places; and the rest, aided by the sailors, remained to hold the town.
[Footnote 580: Rapport de Grucour. Journal du Siege.]
At the end of May Admiral Boscawen was at Halifax with twenty-three ships of the line, eighteen frigates and fireships, and a fleet of transports, on board of which were eleven thousand and six hundred soldiers, all regulars, except five hundred provincial rangers. Amherst had not yet arrived, and on the twenty-eighth, Boscawen, in pursuance of his orders and to prevent loss of time, put to sea without him; but scarcely had the fleet sailed out of Halifax, when they met the ship that bore the expected general. Amherst took command of the troops; and the expedition held its way till the second of June, when they saw the rocky shore-line of Cape Breton, and descried the masts of the French squadron in the harbor of Louisbourg.
[Footnote 581: Of this force, according to Mante, only 9,900 were fit for duty. The table printed by Knox (I. 127) shows a total of 11,112, besides officers, artillery, and rangers. The Authentic Account of the Reduction of Louisbourg, by a Spectator, puts the force at 11,326 men, besides officers. Entick makes the whole 11,936.]
Boscawen sailed into Gabarus Bay. The sea was rough; but in the afternoon Amherst, Lawrence, and Wolfe, with a number of naval officers, reconnoitred the shore in boats, coasting it for miles, and approaching it as near as the French batteries would permit. The rocks were white with surf, and every accessible point was strongly guarded. Boscawen saw little chance of success. He sent for his captains, and consulted them separately. They thought, like him, that it would be rash to attempt a landing, and proposed a council of war. One of them alone, an old sea officer named Ferguson advised his commander to take the responsibility himself, hold no council, and make the attempt at every risk. Boscawen took his advice, and declared that he would not leave Gabarus Bay till he had fulfilled his instructions and set the troops on shore.
[Footnote 582: Entick, III. 224.]
West of Louisbourg there were three accessible places, Freshwater Cove, four miles from the town, and Flat Point, and White Point, which were nearer, the last being within a mile of the fortifications. East of the town there was an inlet called Lorambec, also available for landing. In order to distract the attention of the enemy, it was resolved to threaten all these places, and to form the troops into three divisions, two of which, under Lawrence and Whitmore, were to advance towards Flat Point and White Point, while a detached regiment was to make a feint at Lorambec. Wolfe, with the third division, was to make the real attack and try to force a landing at Freshwater Cove, which, as it proved, was the most strongly defended of all. When on shore Wolfe was an habitual invalid, and when at sea every heave of the ship made him wretched; but his ardor was unquenchable. Before leaving England he wrote to a friend: "Being of the profession of arms, I would seek all occasions to serve; and therefore have thrown myself in the way of the American war, though I know that the very passage threatens my life, and that my constitution must be utterly ruined and undone."
On the next day, the third, the surf was so high that nothing could be attempted. On the fourth there was a thick fog and a gale. The frigate "Trent" struck on a rock, and some of the transports were near being stranded. On the fifth there was another fog and a raging surf. On the sixth there was fog, with rain in the morning and better weather towards noon, whereupon the signal was made and the troops entered the boats; but the sea rose again, and they were ordered back to the ships. On the seventh more fog and more surf till night, when the sea grew calmer, and orders were given for another attempt. At two in the morning of the eighth the troops were in the boats again. At daybreak the frigates of the squadron, anchoring before each point of real or pretended attack, opened a fierce cannonade on the French intrenchments; and, a quarter of an hour after, the three divisions rowed towards the shore. That of the left, under Wolfe, consisted of four companies of grenadiers, with the light infantry and New England rangers, followed and supported by Fraser's Highlanders and eight more companies of grenadiers. They pulled for Freshwater Cove. Here there was a crescent-shaped beach, a quarter of a mile long, with rocks at each end. On the shore above, about a thousand Frenchmen, under Lieutenant-Colonel de Saint-Julien, lay behind entrenchments covered in front by spruce and fir trees, felled and laid on the ground with the tops outward. Eight cannon and swivels were planted to sweep every part of the beach and its approaches, and these pieces were masked by young evergreens stuck in the ground before them.
[Footnote 583: Drucour reports 985 soldiers as stationed here under Saint-Julien there were also some Indians. Freshwater Cove, otherwise Kennington Cove, was called La Cormorandiere by the French.]
The English were allowed to come within close range unmolested. Then the batteries opened, and a deadly storm of grape and musketry was poured upon the boats. It was clear in an instant that to advance farther would be destruction; and Wolfe waved his hand as a signal to sheer off. At some distance on the right, and little exposed to the fire, were three boats of light infantry under Lieutenants Hopkins and Brown and Ensign Grant; who, mistaking the signal or wilfully misinterpreting it, made directly for the shore before them. It was a few roads east of the beach; a craggy coast and a strand strewn with rocks and lashed with breakers, but sheltered from the cannon by a small projecting point. The three officers leaped ashore, followed by their men. Wolfe saw the movement, and hastened to support it. The boat of Major Scott, who commanded the light infantry and rangers, next came up, and was stove in an instant; but Scott gained the shore, climbed the crags, and found himself with ten men in front of some seventy French and Indians. Half his followers were killed and wounded, and three bullets were shot through his clothes; but with admirable gallantry he held his ground till others came to his aid. The remaining boats now reached the landing. Many were stove among the rocks, and others were overset; some of the men were dragged back by the surf and drowned; some lost their muskets, and were drenched to the skin: but the greater part got safe ashore. Among the foremost was seen the tall, attenuated form of Brigadier Wolfe, armed with nothing but a cane, as he leaped into the surf and climbed the crags with his soldiers. As they reached the top they formed in compact order, and attacked and carried with the bayonet the nearest French battery, a few rods distant. The division of Lawrence soon came up; and as the attention of the enemy was now distracted, they made their landing with little opposition at the farther end of the beach whither they were followed by Amherst himself. The French, attacked on right and left, and fearing, with good reason, that they would be cut off from the town, abandoned all their cannon and fled into the woods. About seventy of them were captured and fifty killed. The rest, circling among the hills and around the marshes, made their way to Louisbourg, and those at the intermediate posts joined their flight. The English followed through a matted growth of firs till they reached the cleared ground; when the cannon, opening on them from the ramparts, stopped the pursuit. The first move of the great game was played and won.
[Footnote 584: Pichon, Memoires du Cap-Breton, 284.]
[Footnote 585: Journal of Amherst, in Mante, 117. Amherst to Pitt, 11 June, 1758. Authentic Account of the Reduction of Louisbourg, by a Spectator, 11. General Orders of Amherst, 3-7 June, 1759. Letter from an Officer, in Knox, I. 191; Entick, III. 225. The French accounts generally agree in essentials with the English. The English lost one hundred and nine, killed, wounded, and drowned.]
Amherst made his camp just beyond range of the French cannon, and Flat Point Cove was chosen as the landing-place of guns and stores. Clearing the ground, making roads, and pitching tents filled the rest of the day. At night there was a glare of flames from the direction of the town. The French had abandoned the Grand Battery after setting fire to the buildings in it and to the houses and fish-stages along the shore of the harbor. During the following days stores were landed as fast as the surf would permit: but the task was so difficult that from first to last more than a hundred boats were stove in accomplishing it; and such was the violence of the waves that none of the siege-guns could be got ashore till the eighteenth. The camp extended two miles along a stream that flowed down to the Cove among the low, woody hills that curved around the town and harbor. Redoubts were made to protect its front, and blockhouses to guard its left and rear from the bands of Acadians known to be hovering in the woods.
Wolfe, with twelve hundred men, made his way six or seven miles round the harbor, took possession of the battery at Lighthouse Point which the French had abandoned, planted guns and mortars, and opened fire on the Island Battery that guarded the entrance. Other guns were placed at different points along the shore, and soon opened on the French ships. The ships and batteries replied. The artillery fight raged night and day; till on the twenty-fifth the island guns were dismounted and silenced. Wolfe then strengthened his posts, secured his communications, and returned to the main army in front of the town.
Amherst had reconnoitred the ground and chosen a hillock at the edge of the marsh, less than half a mile from the ramparts, as the point for opening his trenches. A road with an epaulement to protect it must first be made to the spot; and as the way was over a tract of deep mud covered with water-weeds and moss, the labor was prodigious. A thousand men worked at it day and night under the fire of the town and ships.
When the French looked landward from their ramparts they could see scarcely a sign of the impending storm. Behind them Wolfe's cannon were playing busily from Lighthouse Point and the heights around the harbor; but, before them, the broad flat marsh and the low hills seemed almost a solitude. Two miles distant, they could descry some of the English tents; but the greater part were hidden by the inequalities of the ground. On the right, a prolongation of the harbor reached nearly half a mile beyond the town, ending in a small lagoon formed by a projecting sandbar, and known as the Barachois. Near this bar lay moored the little frigate "Arethuse," under a gallant officer named Vauquelin. Her position was a perilous one; but so long as she could maintain it she could sweep with her fire the ground before the works, and seriously impede the operations of the enemy. The other naval captains were less venturous; and when the English landed, they wanted to leave the harbor and save their ships. Drucour insisted that they should stay to aid the defence, and they complied; but soon left their moorings and anchored as close as possible under the guns of the town, in order to escape the fire of Wolfe's batteries. Hence there was great murmuring among the military officers, who would have had them engage the hostile guns at short range. The frigate "Echo," under cover of a fog, had been sent to Quebec for aid; but she was chased and captured; and, a day or two after, the French saw her pass the mouth of the harbor with an English flag at her mast-head.
When Wolfe had silenced the Island Battery, a new and imminent danger threatened Louisbourg. Boscawen might enter the harbor, overpower the French naval force, and cannonade the town on its weakest side. Therefore Drucour resolved to sink four large ships at the entrance; and on a dark and foggy night this was successfully accomplished. Two more vessels were afterwards sunk, and the harbor was then thought safe.
The English had at last finished their preparations, and were urging on the siege with determined vigor. The landward view was a solitude no longer. They could be seen in multitudes piling earth and fascines beyond the hillock at the edge of the marsh. On the twenty-fifth they occupied the hillock itself, and fortified themselves there under a shower of bombs. Then they threw up earth on the right, and pushed their approaches towards the Barachois, in spite of a hot fire from the frigate "Arethuse." Next they appeared on the left towards the sea about a third of a mile from the Princess's Bastion. It was Wolfe, with a strong detachment, throwing up a redoubt and opening an entrenchment. Late on the night of the ninth of July six hundred French troops sallied to interrupt the work. The English grenadiers in the trenches fought stubbornly with bayonet and sword, but were forced back to the second line, where a desperate conflict in the dark took place; and after severe loss on both sides the French were driven back. Some days before, there had been another sortie on the opposite side, near the Barachois, resulting in a repulse of the French and the seizure by Wolfe of a more advanced position.
Various courtesies were exchanged between the two commanders. Drucour, on occasion of a flag of truce, wrote to Amherst that there was a surgeon of uncommon skill in Louisbourg, whose services were at the command of any English officer who might need them. Amherst on his part sent to his enemy letters and messages from wounded Frenchmen in his hands, adding his compliments to Madame Drucour, with an expression of regret for the disquiet to which she was exposed, begging her at the same time to accept a gift of pineapples from the West Indies. She returned his courtesy by sending him a basket of wine; after which amenities the cannon roared again. Madame Drucour was a woman of heroic spirit. Every day she was on the ramparts, where her presence roused the soldiers to enthusiasm; and every day with her own hand she fired three cannon to encourage them.
The English lines grew closer and closer, and their fire more and more destructive. Desgouttes, the naval commander, withdrew the "Arethuse" from her exposed position, where her fire had greatly annoyed the besiegers. The shot-holes in her sides were plugged up, and in the dark night of the fourteenth of July she was towed through the obstructions in the mouth of the harbor, and sent to France to report the situation of Louisbourg. More fortunate than her predecessor, she escaped the English in a fog. Only five vessels now remained afloat in the harbor, and these were feebly manned, as the greater part of their officers and crews had come ashore, to the number of two thousand, lodging under tents in the town, amid the scarcely suppressed murmurs of the army officers.
On the eighth of July news came that the partisan Boishebert was approaching with four hundred Acadians, Canadians, and Micmacs to attack the English outposts and detachments. He did little or nothing, however, besides capturing a few stragglers. On the sixteenth, early in the evening, a party of English, led by Wolfe, dashed forward, drove off a band of French volunteers, seized a rising ground called Hauteur-de-la-Potence, or Gallows Hill, and began to entrench themselves scarcely three hundred yards from the Dauphin's Bastion. The town opened on them furiously with grapeshot; but in the intervals of the firing the sound of their picks and spades could plainly be heard. In the morning they were seen throwing up earth like moles as they burrowed their way forward; and on the twenty-first they opened another parallel, within two hundred yards of the rampart. Still their sappers pushed on. Every day they had more guns in position, and on right and left their fire grew hotter. Their pickets made a lodgment along the foot of the glacis, and fired up the slope at the French in the covered way.
The twenty-first was a memorable day. In the afternoon a bomb fell on the ship "Celebre" and set her on fire. An explosion followed. The few men on board could not save her, and she drifted from her moorings. The wind blew the flames into the rigging of the "Entreprenant," and then into that of the "Capricieux." At night all three were in full blaze; for when the fire broke out the English batteries turned on them a tempest of shot and shell to prevent it from being extinguished. The glare of the triple conflagration lighted up the town, the trenches, the harbor, and the surrounding hills, while the burning ships shot off their guns at random as they slowly drifted westward, and grounded at last near the Barachois. In the morning they were consumed to the water's edge; and of all the squadron the "Prudent" and the "Bienfaisant" alone were left.
In the citadel, of which the King's Bastion formed the front, there was a large oblong stone building containing the chapel, lodgings for men and officers, and at the southern end the quarters of the Governor. On the morning after the burning of the ships a shell fell through the roof among a party of soldiers in the chamber below, burst, and set the place on fire. In half an hour the chapel and all the northern part of the building were in flames; and no sooner did the smoke rise above the bastion than the English threw into it a steady shower of missiles. Yet soldiers, sailors, and inhabitants hastened to the spot, and labored desperately to check the fire. They saved the end occupied by Drucour and his wife, but all the rest was destroyed. Under the adjacent rampart were the casemates, one of which was crowded with wounded officers, and the rest with women and children seeking shelter in these subterranean dens. Before the entrances there was a long barrier of timber to protect them from exploding shells; and as the wind blew the flames towards it, there was danger that it would take fire and suffocate those within. They rushed out, crazed with fright, and ran hither and thither with outcries and shrieks amid the storm of iron.
In the neighboring Queen's Bastion was a large range of barracks built of wood by the New England troops after their capture of the fortress in 1745. So flimsy and combustible was it that the French writers call it a "house of cards" and "a paper of matches." Here were lodged the greater part of the garrison: but such was the danger of fire, that they were now ordered to leave it; and they accordingly lay in the streets or along the foot of the ramparts, under shelters of timber which gave some little protection against bombs. The order was well timed; for on the night after the fire in the King's Bastion, a shell filled with combustibles set this building also in flames. A fearful scene ensued. All the English batteries opened upon it. The roar of mortars and cannon, the rushing and screaming of round-shot and grape, the hissing of fuses and the explosion of grenades and bombs mingled with a storm of musketry from the covered way and trenches; while, by the glare of the conflagration, the English regiments were seen drawn up in battle array, before the ramparts, as if preparing for an assault.
Two days after, at one o'clock in the morning, a burst of loud cheers was heard in the distance, followed by confused cries and the noise of musketry, which lasted but a moment. Six hundred English sailors had silently rowed into the harbor and seized the two remaining ships, the "Prudent" and the "Bienfaisant." After the first hubbub all was silent for half an hour. Then a light glowed through the thick fog that covered the water. The "Prudent" was burning. Being aground with the low tide, her captors had set her on fire, allowing the men on board to escape to the town in her boats. The flames soon wrapped her from stem to stern; and as the broad glare pierced the illumined mists, the English sailors, reckless of shot and shell, towed her companion-ship, with all on board, to a safe anchorage under Wolfe's batteries.
The position of the besieged was deplorable. Nearly a fourth of their number were in the hospitals; while the rest, exhausted with incessant toil, could find no place to snatch an hour of sleep; "and yet," says an officer, "they still show ardor." "To-day," he again says, on the twenty-fourth, "the fire of the place is so weak that it is more like funeral guns than a defence." On the front of the town only four cannon could fire at all. The rest were either dismounted or silenced by the musketry from the trenches. The masonry of the ramparts had been shaken by the concussion of their own guns; and now, in the Dauphin's and King's bastions, the English shot brought it down in masses. The trenches had been pushed so close on the rising grounds at the right that a great part of the covered way was enfiladed, while a battery on a hill across the harbor swept the whole front with a flank fire. Amherst had ordered the gunners to spare the houses of the town; but, according to French accounts, the order had little effect, for shot and shell fell everywhere. "There is not a house in the place," says the Diary just quoted, "that has not felt the effects of this formidable artillery. From yesterday morning till seven o'clock this evening we reckon that a thousand or twelve hundred bombs, great and small, have been thrown into the town, accompanied all the time by the fire of forty pieces of cannon, served with an activity not often seen. The hospital and the houses around it, which also serve as hospitals, are attacked with cannon and mortar. The surgeon trembles as he amputates a limb amid cries of Gare la bombe! and leaves his patient in the midst of the operation, lest he should share his fate. The sick and wounded, stretched on mattresses, utter cries of pain, which do not cease till a shot or the bursting of a shell ends them." On the twenty-sixth the last cannon was silenced in front of the town, and the English batteries had made a breach which seemed practicable for assault.
[Footnote 586: Early in the siege Drucour wrote to Amherst asking that the hospitals should be exempt from fire. Amherst answered that shot and shell might fall on any part of so small a town, but promised to insure the sick and wounded from molestation if Drucour would send them either to the island at the mouth of the harbor, or to any of the ships, if anchored apart from the rest. The offer was declined, for reasons not stated. Drucour gives the correspondence in his Diary.]
On the day before, Drucour, with his chief officers and the engineer, Franquet, had made the tour of the covered way, and examined the state of the defences. All but Franquet were for offering to capitulate. Early on the next morning a council of war was held, at which were present Drucour, Franquet, Desgouttes, naval commander, Houlliere, commander of the regulars, and the several chiefs of battalions. Franquet presented a memorial setting forth the state of the fortifications. As it was he who had reconstructed and repaired them, he was anxious to show the quality of his work in the best light possible; and therefore, in the view of his auditors, he understated the effects of the English fire. Hence an altercation arose, ending in a unanimous decision to ask for terms. Accordingly, at ten o'clock, a white flag was displayed over the breach in the Dauphin's Bastion, and an officer named Loppinot was sent out with offers to capitulate. The answer was prompt and stern: the garrison must surrender as prisoners of war; a definite reply must be given within an hour; in case of refusal the place will be attacked by land and sea.
[Footnote 587: Mante and other English writers give the text of this reply.]
Great was the emotion in the council; and one of its members, D'Anthonay, lieutenant-colonel of the battalion of Volontaires Etrangers, was sent to propose less rigorous terms. Amherst would not speak with him; and jointly with Boscawen despatched this note to the Governor:—
Sir,—We have just received the reply which it has pleased your Excellency to make as to the conditions of the capitulation offered you. We shall not change in the least our views regarding them. It depends on your Excellency to accept them or not; and you will have the goodness to give your answer, yes or no, within half an hour. We have the honor to be, etc.,
Drucour answered as follows:—
Gentlemen,—To reply to your Excellencies in as few words as possible, I have the honor to repeat that my position also remains the same, and that I persist in my first resolution.
I have the honor to be, etc.,
The Chevalier de Drucour
[Footnote 588: Translated from the Journal of Drucour.]
In other words, he refused the English terms, and declared his purpose to abide the assault. Loppinot was sent back to the English camp with this note of defiance. He was no sooner gone than Prevost, the intendant, an officer of functions purely civil, brought the Governor a memorial which, with or without the knowledge of the military authorities, he had drawn up in anticipation of the emergency. "The violent resolution which the council continues to hold," said this document, "obliges me, for the good of the state, the preservation of the King's subjects, and the averting of horrors shocking to humanity, to lay before your eyes the consequences that may ensue. What will become of the four thousand souls who compose the families of this town, of the thousand or twelve hundred sick in the hospitals, and the officers and crews of our unfortunate ships? They will be delivered over to carnage and the rage of an unbridled soldiery, eager for plunder, and impelled to deeds of horror by pretended resentment at what has formerly happened in Canada. Thus they will all be destroyed, and the memory of their fate will live forever in our colonies.... It remains, Monsieur," continues the paper, "to remind you that the councils you have held thus far have been composed of none but military officers. I am not surprised at their views. The glory of the King's arm and the honor of their several corps have inspired them. You and I alone are charged with the administration of the colony and the care of the King's subjects who compose it. These gentlemen, therefore, have had no regard for them. They think only of themselves and their soldiers, whose business it is to encounter the utmost extremity of peril. It is at the prayer of an intimidated people that I lay before you the considerations specified in this memorial."
"In view of these considerations," writes Drucour, "joined to the impossibility of resisting an assault, M. le Chevalier de Courserac undertook in my behalf to run after the bearer of my answer to the English commander and bring it back." It is evident that the bearer of the note had been in no hurry to deliver it, for he had scarcely got beyond the fortifications when Courserac overtook and stopped him. D'Anthonay, with Duvivier, major of the battalion of Artois, and Loppinot, the first messenger, was then sent to the English camp, empowered to accept the terms imposed. An English spectator thus describes their arrival: "A lieutenant-colonel came running out of the garrison, making signs at a distance, and bawling out as loud as he could, 'We accept! We accept!' He was followed by two others; and they were all conducted to General Amherst's headquarters." At eleven o'clock at night they returned with the articles of capitulation and the following letter:—
Sir,—We have the honor to send your Excellency the articles of capitulation signed.
Lieutenant-Colonel D'Anthonay has not failed to speak in behalf of the inhabitants of the town; and it is nowise our intention to distress them, but to give them all the aid in our power.
Your Excellency will have the goodness to sign a duplicate of the articles and send it to us.
It only remains to assure your Excellency that we shall with great pleasure seize every opportunity to convince your Excellency that we are with the most perfect consideration,
Sir, your Excellency's most obedient servants,
E. BOSCAWEN. J. AMHERST.
[Footnote 589: Authentic Account of the Siege of Louisbourg, by a Spectator.]
The articles stipulated that the garrison should be sent to England, prisoners of war, in British ships; that all artillery, arms, munitions, and stores, both in Louisbourg and elsewhere on the Island of Cape Breton, as well as on Isle St.-Jean, now Prince Edward's Island, should be given up intact; that the gate of the Dauphin's Bastion should be delivered to the British troops at eight o'clock in the morning; and that the garrison should lay down their arms at noon. The victors, on their part, promised to give the French sick and wounded the same care as their own, and to protect private property from pillage.
Drucour signed the paper at midnight, and in the morning a body of grenadiers took possession of the Dauphin's Gate. The rude soldiery poured in, swarthy with wind and sun, and begrimed with smoke and dust; the garrison, drawn up on the esplanade, flung down their muskets and marched from the ground with tears of rage; the cross of St. George floated over the shattered rampart; and Louisbourg, with the two great islands that depended on it, passed to the British Crown. Guards were posted, a stern discipline was enforced, and perfect order maintained. The conquerors and the conquered exchanged greetings, and the English general was lavish of courtesies to the brave lady who had aided the defence so well. "Every favor she asked was granted," says a Frenchman present.
Drucour and his garrison had made a gallant defence. It had been his aim to prolong the siege till it should be too late for Amherst to co-operate with Abercromby in an attack on Canada; and in this, at least, he succeeded.
Five thousand six hundred and thirty-seven officers, soldiers, and sailors were prisoners in the hands of the victors. Eighteen mortars and two hundred and twenty-one cannon were found in the town, along with a great quantity of arms, munitions, and stores. At the middle of August such of the prisoners as were not disabled by wounds or sickness were embarked for England, and the merchants and inhabitants were sent to France. Brigadier Whitmore, as governor of Louisbourg, remained with four regiments to hold guard over the desolation they had made.
[Footnote 590: Account of the Guns, Mortars, Shot, Shell, etc., found in the Town of Louisbourg upon its Surrender this day, signed Jeffrey Amherst, 27 July, 1758.]
The fall of the French stronghold was hailed in England with noisy rapture. Addresses of congratulation to the King poured in from all the cities of the kingdom, and the captured flags were hung in St. Paul's amid the roar of cannon and the shouts of the populace. The provinces shared these rejoicings. Sermons of thanksgiving resounded from countless New England pulpits. At Newport there were fireworks and illuminations; and, adds the pious reporter, "We have reason to believe that Christians will make wise and religious improvement of so signal a favor of Divine Providence." At Philadelphia a like display was seen, with music and universal ringing of bells. At Boston "a stately bonfire like a pyramid was kindled on the top of Fort Hill, which made a lofty and prodigious blaze;" though here certain jealous patriots protested against celebrating a victory won by British regulars, and not by New England men. At New York there was a grand official dinner at the Province Arms in Broadway, where every loyal toast was echoed by the cannon of Fort George; and illuminations and fireworks closed the day. In the camp of Abercromby at Lake George, Chaplain Cleaveland, of Bagley's Massachusetts regiment, wrote: 'The General put out orders that the breastwork should be lined with troops, and to fire three rounds for joy, and give thanks to God in a religious way." But nowhere did the tidings find a warmer welcome than in the small detached forts scattered through the solitudes of Nova Scotia, where the military exiles, restless from inaction, listened with greedy ears for every word from the great world whence they were banished. So slow were their communications with it that the fall of Louisbourg was known in England before it had reached them, all. Captain John Knox, then in garrison at Annapolis, tells how it was greeted there more than five weeks after the event. It was the sixth of September. A sloop from Boston was seen coming up the bay. Soldiers and officers ran down to the wharf to ask for news. "Every soul," says Knox, "was impatient, yet shy of asking; at length, the vessel being come near enough to be spoken to, I called out, 'What news from Louisbourg?' To which the master simply replied, and with some gravity, 'Nothing strange.' This answer, which was so coldly delivered, threw us all into great consternation, and we looked at each other without being able to speak; some of us even turned away with an intent to return to the fort. At length one of our soldiers, not yet satisfied, called out with some warmth: 'Damn you, Pumpkin, isn't Louisbourg taken yet?' The poor New England man then answered: 'Taken, yes, above a month ago, and I have been there since; but if you have never heard it before, I have got a good parcel of letters for you now.' If our apprehensions were great at first, words are insufficient to express our transports at this speech, the latter part of which we hardly waited for; but instantly all hats flew off, and we made the neighboring woods resound with our cheers and huzzas for almost half an hour. The master of the sloop was amazed beyond expression, and declared he thought we had heard of the success of our arms eastward before, and had sought to banter him." At night there was a grand bonfire and universal festivity in the fort and village.
[Footnote 591: These particulars are from the provincial newspapers.]
[Footnote 592: Cleaveland, Journal.]
[Footnote 593: Knox, Historical Journal, I. 158.]
Amherst proceeded to complete his conquest by the subjection of all the adjacent possessions of France. Major Dalling was sent to occupy Port Espagnol, now Sydney. Colonel Monckton was despatched to the Bay of Fundy and the River St. John with an order "to destroy the vermin who are settled there." Lord Rollo, with the thirty-fifth regiment and two battalions of the sixtieth, received the submission of Isle St.-Jean, and tried to remove the inhabitants,—with small success; for out of more than four thousand he could catch but seven hundred.
[Footnote 594: Orders of Amherst to Wolfe, 15 Aug. 1758; Ibid, to Monckton, 24 Aug. 1758; Report of Monckton, 12 Nov. 1758.]
[Footnote 595: Villejouin, commandant a l'Isle St.-Jean, au Ministre, 8 Sept. 1758.]
The ardent and indomitable Wolfe had been the life of the siege. Wherever there was need of a quick eye, a prompt decision, and a bold dash, there his lank figure was always in the front. Yet he was only half pleased with what had been done. The capture of Louisbourg, he thought, should be but the prelude of greater conquests; and he had hoped that the fleet and army would sail up the St. Lawrence and attack Quebec. Impetuous and impatient by nature, and irritable with disease, he chafed at the delay that followed the capitulation, and wrote to his father a few days after it: "We are gathering strawberries and other wild fruits of the country, with a seeming indifference about what is doing in other parts of the world. Our army, however, on the continent wants our help." Growing more anxious, he sent Amherst a note to ask his intentions; and the General replied, "What I most wish to do is to go to Quebec. I have proposed it to the Admiral, and yesterday he seemed to think it impracticable." On which Wolfe wrote again: "If the Admiral will not carry us to Quebec, reinforcements should certainly be sent to the continent without losing a moment. This damned French garrison take up our time and attention, which might be better bestowed. The transports are ready, and a small convoy would carry a brigade to Boston or New York. With the rest of the troops we might make an offensive and destructive war in the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. I beg pardon for this freedom, but I cannot look coolly upon the bloody inroads of those hell-hounds, the Canadians; and if nothing further is to be done, I must desire leave to quit the army."
Amherst answered that though he had meant at first to go to Quebec with the whole army, late events on the continent made it impossible; and that he now thought it best to go with five or six regiments to the aid of Abercromby. He asked Wolfe to continue to communicate his views to him, and would not hear for a moment of his leaving the army; adding, "I know nothing that can tend more to His Majesty's service than your assisting in it." Wolfe again wrote to his commander, with whom he was on terms of friendship: "An offensive, daring kind of war will awe the Indians and ruin the French. Blockhouses and a trembling defensive encourage the meanest scoundrels to attack us. If you will attempt to cut up New France by the roots, I will come with pleasure to assist."
Amherst, with such speed as his deliberate nature would permit, sailed with six regiments for Boston to reinforce Abercromby at Lake George, while Wolfe set out on an errand but little to his liking. He had orders to proceed to Gaspe, Miramichi, and other settlements on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, destroy them, and disperse their inhabitants; a measure of needless and unpardonable rigor, which, while detesting it, he executed with characteristic thoroughness. "Sir Charles Hardy and I," he wrote to his father, "are preparing to rob the fishermen of their nets and burn their huts. When that great exploit is at an end, I return to Louisbourg, and thence to England." Having finished the work, he wrote to Amherst: "Your orders were carried into execution. We have done a great deal of mischief, and spread the terror of His Majesty's arms through the Gulf, but have added nothing to the reputation of them." The destruction of property was great; yet, as Knox writes, "he would not suffer the least barbarity to be committed upon the persons of the wretched inhabitants."
[Footnote 596: "Les Anglais ont tres-bien traites les prisonniers qu'ils ont faits dans cette partie" [Gaspe, etc]. Vaudreuil au Ministre, 4 Nov. 1758.]
He returned to Louisbourg, and sailed for England to recruit his shattered health for greater conflicts.
NOTE. Four long and minute French diaries of the siege of Louisbourg are before me. The first, that of Drucour, covers a hundred and six folio pages, and contains his correspondence with Amherst, Boscawen, and Desgouttes. The second is that of the naval captain Tourville, commander of the ship "Capricieux," and covers fifty pages. The third is by an officer of the garrison whose name does not appear. The fourth, of about a hundred pages, is by another officer of the garrison, and is also anonymous. It is an excellent record of what passed each day, and of the changing conditions, moral and physical, of the besieged. These four Journals, though clearly independent of each other, agree in nearly all essential particulars. I have also numerous letters from the principal officers, military, naval, and civil, engaged in the defence,—Drucour, Desgouttes, Houlliere, Beaussier, Marolles, Tourville, Courserac, Franquet, Villejouin, Prevost, and Querdisien. These, with various other documents relating to the siege, were copied from the originals in the Archives de la Marine. Among printed authorities on the French side may be mentioned Pichon, Lettres et Memoires pour servir a l'Histoire du Cap-Breton, and the Campaign of Louisbourg, by the Chevalier Johnstone, a Scotch Jacobite serving under Drucour.
The chief authorities on the English side are the official Journal of Amherst, printed in the London Magazine and in other contemporary periodicals, and also in Mante, History of the Late War; five letters from Amherst to Pitt, written during the siege (Public Record Office); an excellent private Journal called An Authentic Account of the Reduction of Louisbourg, by a Spectator, parts of which have been copied verbatim by Entick without acknowledgement; the admirable Journal of Captain John Knox, which contains numerous letters and orders relating to the siege; and the correspondence of Wolfe contained in his Life by Wright. Before me is the Diary of a captain or subaltern in the army of Amherst at Louisbourg, found in the garret of an old house at Windsor, Nova Scotia, on an estate belonging in 1760 to Chief Justice Deschamps. I owe the use of it to the kindness of George Wiggins, Esq., of Windsor, N.S. Mante gives an excellent plan of the siege operations, and another will be found in Jefferys, Natural and Civil History of French Dominions in North America.
In the last year London called on the colonists for four thousand men. This year Pitt asked them for twenty thousand, and promised that the King would supply arms, ammunition, tents, and provisions, leaving to the provinces only the raising, clothing, and pay of their soldiers; and he added the assurance that Parliament would be asked to make some compensation even for these. Thus encouraged, cheered by the removal of Loudon, and animated by the unwonted vigor of British military preparation, the several provincial assemblies voted men in abundance, though the usual vexatious delays took place in raising, equipping, and sending them to the field. In this connection, an able English writer has brought against the colonies, and especially against Massachusetts, charges which deserve attention. Viscount Bury says: "Of all the colonies, Massachusetts was the first which discovered the designs of the French and remonstrated against their aggressions; of all the colonies she most zealously promoted measures of union for the common defence, and made the greatest exertions in furtherance of her views." But he adds that there is a reverse to the picture, and that "this colony, so high-spirited, so warlike, and apparently so loyal, would never move hand or foot in her own defence till certain of repayment by the mother country." The groundlessness of this charge is shown by abundant proofs, one of which will be enough. The Englishman Pownall, who had succeeded Shirley as royal governor of the province, made this year a report of its condition to Pitt. Massachusetts, he says, "has been the frontier and advanced guard of all the colonies against the enemy in Canada," and has always taken the lead in military affairs. In the three past years she has spent on the expeditions of Johnson, Winslow, and Loudon L242,356, besides about L45,000 a year to support the provincial government, at the same time maintaining a number of forts and garrisons, keeping up scouting-parties, and building, equipping, and manning a ship of twenty guns for the service of the King. In the first two months of the present year, 1758, she made a further military outlay of L172,239. Of all these sums she has received from Parliament a reimbursement of only L70,117, and hence she is deep in debt; yet, in addition, she has this year raised, paid, maintained, and clothed seven thousand soldiers placed under the command of General Abercromby, besides above twenty-five hundred more serving the King by land or sea; amounting in all to about one in four of her able-bodied men.
[Footnote 597: Pitt to the Colonial Governors, 30 Dec. 1757.]
[Footnote 598: Bury, Exodus of the Western Nations, II, 250, 251.]
Massachusetts was extremely poor by the standards of the present day, living by fishing, farming, and a trade sorely hampered by the British navigation laws. Her contributions of money and men were not ordained by an absolute king, but made by the voluntary act of a free people. Pownall goes on to say that her present war-debt, due within three years, is 366,698 pounds sterling, and that to meet it she has imposed on her self taxes amounting, in the town of Boston, to thirteen shillings and twopence to every pound of income from real and personal estate; that her people are in distress, that she is anxious to continue her efforts in the public cause, but that without some further reimbursement she is exhausted and helpless. Yet in the next year she incurred a new and heavy debt. In 1760 Parliament repaid her L59,575. Far from being fully reimbursed, the end of the war found her on the brink of bankruptcy. Connecticut made equal sacrifices in the common cause,—highly to her honor, for she was little exposed to danger, being covered by the neighboring provinces; while impoverished New Hampshire put one in three of her able-bodied men into the field.
[Footnote 599: Pownall to Pitt, 30 Sept. 1758 (Public Record Office, America and West Indies, LXXI.) "The province of Massachusetts Bay has exerted itself with great zeal and at vast expense for the public service." Registers of Privy Council, 26 July, 1757.]
[Footnote 600: Bollan, Agent of Massachusetts, to Speaker of Assembly, 20 March, 1760. It was her share of L200,000 granted to all the colonies in the proportion of their respective efforts.]
[Footnote 601: Address to His Majesty from the Governor, Council, and Assembly of New Hampshire, Jan. 1759.]
In June the combined British and provincial force which Abercromby was to lead against Ticonderoga was gathered at the head of Lake George; while Montcalm lay at its outlet around the walls of the French stronghold, with an army not one fourth so numerous. Vaudreuil had devised a plan for saving Ticonderoga by a diversion into the valley of the Mohawk under Levis, Rigaud, and Longueuil, with sixteen hundred men, who were to be joined by as many Indians. The English forts of that region were to be attacked, Schenectady threatened, and the Five Nations compelled to declare for France. Thus, as the Governor gave out, the English would be forced to cease from aggression, leave Montcalm in peace, and think only of defending themselves. "This," writes Bougainville on the fifteenth of June, "is what M. de Vaudreuil thinks will happen, because he never doubts anything. Ticonderoga, which is the point really threatened, is abandoned without support to the troops of the line and their general. It would even be wished that they might meet a reverse, if the consequences to the colony would not be too disastrous."
[Footnote 602: Levis au Ministre, 17 Juin, 1758. Doreil au Ministre, 16 Juin, 1758. Montcalm a sa Femme, 18 Avril, 1758.]
[Footnote 603: Correspondance de Vaudreuil, 1758. Livre d'Ordres, Juin, 1758.]
The proposed movement promised, no doubt, great advantages; but it was not destined to take effect. Some rangers taken on Lake George by a partisan officer named Langy declared with pardonable exaggeration that twenty-five or thirty thousand men would attack Ticonderoga in less than a fortnight. Vaudreuil saw himself forced to abandon his Mohawk expedition, and to order Levis and his followers, who had not yet left Montreal, to reinforce Montcalm. Why they did not go at once is not clear. The Governor declares that there were not boats enough. From whatever cause, there was a long delay, and Montcalm was left to defend himself as he could.
[Footnote 604: Bigot au Ministre, 21 Juillet, 1758.]
He hesitated whether he should not fall back to Crown Point. The engineer, Lotbiniere, opposed the plan, as did also Le Mercier. It was but a choice of difficulties, and he stayed at Ticonderoga. His troops were disposed as they had been in the summer before; one battalion, that of Berry, being left near the fort, while the main body, under Montcalm himself, was encamped by the saw-mill at the Falls, and the rest, under Bourlamaque, occupied the head of the portage, with a small advanced force at the landing-place on Lake George. It remained to determine at which of these points he should concentrate them and make his stand against the English. Ruin threatened him in any case; each position had its fatal weakness or its peculiar danger, and his best hope was in the ignorance or blundering of his enemy. He seems to have been several days in a state of indecision.
[Footnote 605: N.Y. Col. Docs., X 893. Lotbiniere's relative, Vaudreuil, confirms the statement. Montcalm had not, as has been said, begun already to fall back.]
In the afternoon of the fifth of July the partisan Langy, who had again gone out to reconnoitre towards the head of Lake George, came back in haste with the report that the English were embarked in great force. Montcalm sent a canoe down Lake Champlain to hasten Levis to his aid, and ordered the battalion of Berry to begin a breastwork and abattis on the high ground in front of the fort. That they were not begun before shows that he was in doubt as to his plan of defence; and that his whole army was not now set to work at them shows that his doubt was still unsolved.
It was nearly a month since Abercromby had begun his camp at the head of Lake George. Here, on the ground where Johnson had beaten Dieskau, where Montcalm had planted his batteries, and Monro vainly defended the wooden ramparts of Fort William Henry, were now assembled more than fifteen thousand men; and the shores, the foot of the mountains, and the broken plains between them were studded thick with tents. Of regulars there were six thousand three hundred and sixty-seven, officers and soldiers, and of provincials nine thousand and thirty-four. To the New England levies, or at least to their chaplains, the expedition seemed a crusade against the abomination of Babylon; and they discoursed in their sermons of Moses sending forth Joshua against Amalek. Abercromby, raised to his place by political influence, was little but the nominal commander. "A heavy man," said Wolfe in a letter to his father; "an aged gentleman, infirm in body and mind," wrote William Parkman, a boy of seventeen, who carried a musket in a Massachusetts regiment, and kept in his knapsack a dingy little notebook, in which he jotted down what passed each day. The age of the aged gentleman was fifty-two.