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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Louisbourg was nothing but a heap of ruins


The

new general had had thirty-five years' service, though he was not yet fifty; he had distinguished himself in Germany and in Italy. He was brave, amiable, clever; by turns indolent and bold; skilful in dealing with the Indians, whom he inspired with feelings of great admiration; jealous of the Canadians, their officers and their governor, M. de Vaudreuil; convinced beforehand of the uselessness of all efforts and of the inevitable result of the struggle he maintained with indomitable courage. More intelligent than his predecessor, General Dieskau, who, like Braddock, had fallen through the error of conducting the war in the European fashion, he, nevertheless, had great difficulty in wrenching himself from the military traditions of his whole life. An expedition, in 1756, against Fort Oswego, on the right bank of Lake Ontario, was completely successful; General Webb had no time to relieve the garrison, which capitulated. Bands of Canadians and Indians laid waste Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Montcalm wrote to the minister of war, Rouille, "It is the first time that, with three thousand men and less artillery, a siege has been maintained against eighteen hundred, who could be readily relieved by two thousand, and who could oppose our landing, having the naval superiority on Lake Ontario. The success has been beyond all expectation. The conduct I adopted on this occasion and the arrangements I ordered are so contrary to the regular rules, that the boldness displayed
in this enterprise must look like rashness in Europe. Therefore, I do beseech you, monseigneur, as the only favor I ask, to assure his Majesty that, if ever he should be pleased, as I hope, to employ me in his own armies, I will behave differently."

The same success everywhere attended the arms of the Marquis of Montcalm. In 1757 he made himself master of Fort William Henry, which commanded the lake of Saint-Sacrement; in 1758 he repulsed with less than four thousand men the attack of General Abercrombie, at the head of sixteen thousand men, on Carillon, and forced the latter to relinquish the shores of Lake Champlain. This was cutting the enemy off once more from the road to Montreal; but Louisbourg, protected in 1757 by the fleet of Admiral Dubois de la Motte, and now abandoned to its own resources, in vain supported an unequal siege; the fortifications were in ruins, the garrison was insufficient notwithstanding its courage and the heroism of the governor, M. de Drucourt. Seconded by his wife, who flitted about the ramparts, cheering and tending the wounded, he energetically opposed the landing of the English, and maintained himself for two months in an almost open place. When he was at last obliged to surrender, on the 26th of July, Louisbourg was nothing but a heap of ruins; all the inhabitants of the islands of St. John and Cape Breton were transported by the victors to France.

Canada had by this time cost France dear; and she silently left it to its miserable fate. In vain did the governor, the general, the commissariat demand incessantly re-enforcements, money, provisions; no help came from France. "We keep on fighting, nevertheless," wrote Montcalm to the minister of war, "and we will bury ourselves, if necessary, under the ruins of the colony." Famine, the natural result of neglecting the land, went on increasing: the Canadians, hunters and soldiers as they were, had only cleared and cultivated their fields in the strict ratio of their daily wants; there was a lack of hands; every man was under arms; destitution prevailed everywhere; the inhabitants of Quebec were reduced to siege-rations; the troops complained and threatened to mutiny; the enemy had renewed their efforts: in the campaign of 1758, the journals of the Anglo-American colonies put their land forces at sixty thousand men. "England has at the present moment more troops in motion on this continent than Canada contains inhabitants, including old men, women, and children," said a letter to Paris from M. Doreil, war commissioner. Mr. Pitt, afterwards Lord Chatham, who had lately, come to the head of the English government, resolved to strike the last blow at the French power in America. Three armies simultaneously invaded Canada; on the 25th of June, 1759, a considerable fleet brought under the walls of Quebec General Wolfe, a young and hopeful officer who had attracted notice at the siege of Louisbourg. "If General Montcalm succeeds again this year in frustrating our hopes," said Wolfe, "he may be considered an able man; either the colony has resources that nobody knows of, or our generals are worse than usual."


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