Robert Tomes.

Battles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) online

. (page 2 of 126)
Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 2 of 126)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

with an aggregate of two hundred and
four guns, made up of the various cruis
ers kept always in service by the sea
board colonies. With the transports, the
whole fleet amounted to no less than a
hundred sail. A provincial, of the name
of Edward Tyng, was appointed commo
dore of this colonial squadron.

It was a matter of greater difficulty to
find a commander for the land-forces, and
a general leader of the expedition. The
governor of Massachusetts seemed em
barrassed in making a choice, as might
naturally have been expected among a



people whose occupations were of com
merce and trade. It was not difficult to
find among the fishermen, lumberers, sail
ors, and mechanics, of New England, har
dy and bold men enough for any under
taking requiring courage and endurance ;
but who among them had that knowl
edge of military art necessary to disci
pline their rude force into the order re
quired for regular warfare ? It is true,
there were not wanting those who had
gathered their countrymen together from
the bench, the field, and the fishery, and
led them against the savages, in defence
of their lives and property. These were,
however, mere Indian skirmishes in which
there was no occasion for military art.

Governor Shirley was supposed to have
hesitated for some time between two dis
tinguished New-Englanders : Wentworth,
governor of New Hampshire, and Colonel
William Pepperell, president of the coun
cil of Massachusetts. He finally chose
the latter, but evidently not without some
compunctions of injustice toward the for
mer, to whom he wrote, after the appoint
ment of Pepperell, to this effect: "It
would have been an infinite satisfaction
to me, and done great honor to the ex
pedition, if your limbs would have per
mitted you to take the chief command."
Shirley alluded to Wentworth s gout, as
his reason for passing him by. The gov
ernor of New Hampshire, however, did
not care thus to be invalided, and wrote
in reply that he had thrown away his
crutches, and was ready, in spite of the
gout, to march at the head of the expe
dition. But it was too late, as Pepperell
had already received his appointment.

No better selection could probably
have been made, in the want of any reg
ular military tactician. Pepperell, how
ever, was very doubtful of his own capa
city for the undertaking, and hesitated
to accept the position. Governor Shir
ley strenuously urged him to comply, on
the ground that his influence with those
upon whom the expedition depended for
its success could not be dispensed with.
He, however, still pondered the matter,
and determined to consult his friends be
fore coming to a final conclusion.

At this time, the celebrated George
Whitefield,theeloquentMethodist preach
er, had reached New England, in the
course of his evangelizing labors in Amer
ica, and was stopping at the house of
Pepperell, in Maine. The host took this
occasion of consulting his famous guest
in regard to his appointment, and is sup
posed to have been influenced by White-
field s advice, in his resolution to accept.
The divine said, he did not think the
scheme very promising ; that the eyes of
all would be upon him ; that if it should
not succeed, the widows and orphans of
the slain would reproach him ; and if it
should succeed, many would regard him
with envy, and endeavor to eclipse his
glory; that he ought, therefore, to go
with a single eye, and he would find his
strength proportioned to his necessity.

This was good religious advice, and
gave a holy sanction to the enterprise,
which seems to have had its influence in
determining Pepperell to undertake it,
and in inspiring many of the New-Eng
land people with a pious ardor in favor
of the cause. Many of Whitefield s own




converts offered themselves with enthu
siasm as recruits, and all began to con
sider the expedition as a sanctified one.

There is no doubt that the Puritan feel
ing of New England was aroused in reli
gious hostility to the French, in conse
quence of their Roman Catholic faith.
Whitefield himself seems to have given
such a direction to the sentiment of New
England by the motto which he furnished
for the flag of the expedition. Nil des-
perandum, Christo duce " With Christ for
our leader, nothing is to be despaired of"
were the words supplied ; and none
could have been better chosen, to give
the tone of a religious crusade to the un
dertaking. That such, in effect, was the
result, may be gathered from the fact
that clergymen, with axes on shoulder,
prepared to demolish popish images, read
ily enlisted for service ; and from such
letters as this from one Deacon Gray, ad
dressed to Pepperell : " that I could
be with you and dear Parson Moody in
that church, to destroy the images there
set up, and hear the true gospel of our
Lord and Saviour there preached ! My
wife, who is ill and confined to her bed,
yet is so spirited in the affair, on hearing
of your taking the command, that she is
very willing all her sons should wait on
you, though it is outwardly greatly to
our damage. One of them has already
enlisted, and I know not but there will
be more. She sends her duty to you,
and says, so long as she has life she shall
importunately pray for you."

There was no man in the whole colony
more popular than Pepperell. He was a
thorough New-Englander, by birth, edu

cation, religion, habits, and occupation.
His father, at an early age, had emigrated
from Wales and settled at Kittery, on the
banks of the Piscataqua, the river which
separates Maine from New Hampshire.
Commencing as a fisherman, he finally
reached the more imposing position of a
merchant, and became colonially famous
for wealth and integrity.

His son William was born in 1696 at
Kittery. His early education was the
best that could be supplied by the vil
lage school, and consisted only of the ele
mentary reading, spelling, and arithme
tic. Having soon exhausted these aca
demic resources, he was taken into his
father s trading establishment, and there
finished his education, which was, of
course, more of a practical than scholas
tic character. The Pepperells were great
merchants for those times, and dealt large
ly in timber, fish, and Wesi^Indian molas
ses, rum, and negroes.

The elder Pepperell, from a fisherman s
apprentice, had passed rapidly through
the various transitions of fisherman, pro
prietor of fishing-boats, shopkeeper, and
factor, until he finally became ship-owner
and merchant. He had his coasters to
send to the West Indies with lumber, in
exchange for sugar and other tropical
productions ; his ships to take these and
other colonial produce to Europe, and
bring back manufactured goods ; and, in
fact, he carried on as important commer
cial transactions as the colonial trade al
lowed. His son William soon became a
partner in the paternal house, and add
ed rapidly to its importance and wealth.
On his father s death, he succeeded him




as the principal member of the firm, and
in a few years was known throughout
New England as the wealthiest and most
influential of its merchants.

Taking an active part in the public
concerns of the colony, he soon secured
a large share of colonial honor. He suc
cessively became justice of the peace, a
captain, major, lieutenant-colonel, colonel,
and commander-in-chief, of the militia of
Maine, and finally member of the coun
cil of Massachusetts. It was his military
prominence, combined with his great per
sonal influence and popularity, which had
induced Governor Shirley to give him
the command of the expedition about
to set out for the attempt upon Louis-

Pepperell s command as colonel of the
militia seems to have inspired him with
considerable military ardor. He devoted
himself with great spirit to his duties,
and, by frequent drills, musters, and pa
rades, imparted to his miscellaneous regi
ment of fishermen, lumberers, and me
chanics, all the discipline of which they
were capable. As the neighborhood was
particularly exposed to the incursions of
surrounding savages, there was the mo
tive of constant and imminent danger to
prompt to alertness of military prepara
tion. The ardor of their commander was
thus readily shared by his fellow-colo
nists ; and it may well be conceived
that the troops of Maine were as effect
ive as the best of the irregulars. None
could have surpassed them in courage
and endurance, and few equalled their
skill in the use of the firelock. In the
frequent skirmishes with the Indians,

they had become practised in savage
warfare ; while not only their occupa
tions as fishermen and lumberers, but
their amusements on the sea and in the
forest, served to inure them to danger
and fatigue, as well as to accustom them
to the exercise of their strength and skill.
All they required was the practice of act
ing together in large bodies; and this
they were about learning, for the first
time, in the hazardous attempt upon Lou-

The recruits came in rapidly, as soon
as it was known that Colonel Pepperell
had accepted the command of the pro
posed expedition. His personal influ
ence was so great, that all his immediate
neighbors capable of bearing arms seem
ed eager to join his standard. The whole
town of Berwick turned out almost to a
man. There was no difficulty in obtain
ing the necessary quota of soldiers for
the ranks, but there was some trouble in
reconciling the officers to assuming cer
tain subordinate positions. Some of these,
even in Berwick, were accordingly back
ward in offering their services. Pepper-
ell, referring to this remissness, wrote :
" I have not the least doubt that the com
missioned officers in Berwick are as brave
and as good men as any in this province,
and would willingly venture their lives
with their colonel. Please to tell them
all I sincerely value and love them, and
that should there be occasion for forces
to be sent after us, I don t doubt in tin
least but they will be ready to come. 1
beg all their prayers."

Governor Shirley was still bent upon
his scheme of taking Louisburg by sur-




prise ; and accordingly, although he had
failed to keep the purpose of his expedi
tion a secret from his own people, he re
solved to use every precaution to mysti
fy the French. All communication with
Louisburg was cut off, by prohibiting the
sailing of colonial vessels to that place ;
and it was strictly forbidden for copies
to be taken of the orders read to the com
panies, or for any soldier to disclose their
purport. Shirley s plan of taking Louis-
burg by surprise, and carrying it by a
coup dc main, was based upon his knowl
edge, not only of the strength of that
citadel, but of the weakness of the colo- j
nial forces. He naturally supposed that
an undisciplined militia had not the ne
cessary skill, or even the patience, for
executing the operations of a systematic
siege. He knew, moreover, that the col
onists, to a man, would do all that enter
prise and courage could do in the want
of art, and accordingly trusted for success
to these well-known characteristics of the
New-England troops. It was, therefore,
no Quixotic scheme of Shirley to design
a rapid movement, a sudden surprise, and
a quick execution, by which the skilled
soldier in command of the French for
tress would be thrown off his guard, and
be prevented from bringing to bear the
resources of military art against his un
disciplined opponents. The governor of
Massachusetts, accordingly, as Bancroft
says, " wisest of all, gave instructions for
the fleet of a hundred vessels to arrive
together at a precise hour; heedless of
the surf, to land in the dark on the rocky
shore ; to march forthwith, through thick
et and bog, to the city and beyond it ;

and to take the fortress and Royal bat
tery by surprise before" daybreak."

The troops all being raised within the
brief period of two months, and to the
number of over three thousand, prepared
to sail in the fleet now at anchor in the
roads of Nantucket. Some of the fleet
est of the provincial cruisers were sent
in advance, to hover about Louisburg,
and intercept all French vessels bound
thither. The rest were detained to trans
port the provincial forces. A day was
now set apart for prayer^ and to invoke
the blessing of Heaven upon the expedi
tion. Large crowds gathered together
on the shore, on the Sunday preceding
the day of embarkation ; solemn prayers
were offered up to the God of battles,
imploring his aid in the coming struggle ;
and sermons were delivered in every
church, setting forth the holiness of the
cause, and urging the duty of each sol
dier to do his "manfullest in the service
of the Great Captain of our salvation."

On the day before the departure, a
heavy blow and great discouragement
came, in an answer from Warren, the
commodore of the West-India squadron,
to Governor Shirley, refusing to give the
aid solicited. The colonial forces had ex
pected to be reinforced by this squadron
before sailing ; but the cause of the non-
arrival of Warren with his ships having
been kept a secret by the prudent gov
ernor, and only disclosed to Pepperell
(now lieutenant-general) and his second
in command, General Wolcot, the troops
embarked in ignorance, and expected
merely a temporary delay of the naval
assistance still confidently hoped for.




The small settlement of Canseau, in
the strait of that name dividing Nova
Scotia and Cape Breton, having been de
termined upon as the rendezvous, the
various vessels set sail. The troops of

Massachusetts, which formed the larger
proportion of the forces, sailed first, on
the 24th of March, and were sue-

1 r

ceecled at brief intervals by those
of New Hampshire and Connecticut.


Arrival at Canseau. Detained by Ice. A proposal to float into Lonisburg upon Icebergs. Encouraged by a Capture.
The Judicious Pcppcrell keeps his Troops busy. The Encouraging Arrival of a British Squadron. Admiral Warren.
His Life and Character. His Nephew, Sir William Johnson. Pepperell superseded in the Naval Department.
His Judicious Behavior. Shirley s Letter. His Desire to give Warren the Pre-eminence. Pepperell tenacious of his
Rights. Anxious to secure the Glories of the Coming Conquest for the New-Englanders. The Ice clears away.
Departure for Louisburg. The French unexpcctant of the Attack. Sailing into the Bay. Landing. The Alarm of
the Fortress. The Enemy put to Flight. The Capture of Morepang. Encampment before the Town. Admiral
Warren doing Good Service on the Coast. Colonel Vaughan sent to reconnoitre. The Garrison of the Grand Bat
tery frightened by a Smoke. Their Flight. The Hoisting of a Ked Coat. A Sortie from the Fort. The French driven
back. The Grand Battery reinstated and held by the Ncw-Englandcrs. The French strive by a Brisk Cannonade to
make it too hot to hold. Their Want of Success. The Siege regularly begun. Erection of Batteries. The Diffi
culties spiritedly overcome. The Island Battery a Great Annoyance. The Attempt upon it postponed by the Advice
of Pepperell. The Town summoned to surrender. The Defiant Answer of the French. Councils-of-War. A De
termination to carry Louisburg by Storm. Postponement. The Siege expected to be long. The New-Englanders,
however, still hopeful. The Sufferings of the Besiegers. Pcppcrell forced to send to Shirley for Reinforcements. A
Heavy Fire opened against the Walls A Breach made. Compliments passed between the Hostile Parties. Split
ting of Cannon. Captures by the Fleet. Impatience of the Admiral. Pepperell cautious and temporizing. Another
Attempt upon the Island Battery proposed, and again postponed. A Small Triumph for the Enemy. A Gix>at
Triumph for the British Fleet. The Capture of the Vigilant. A General Attack by Sea and Land proposed. An
Unsuccessful Attempt upon the Island Battery.

THE vessels with the Massachu
setts troops on board reached Can
seau on the first of April, and were in a
few days joined by the rest. Here they
were unfortunately detained, in conse
quence of the ice, which, breaking up in
that season, had drifted in such masses
in and about the harbor of Louisburg,
that it was impracticable to attempt its
entrance. There was great disappoint
ment felt at this untimely detention, by
the ardent and sanguine ; and it was even
gravely suggested by some, more impul
sive and impatient than the rest, to float
the troops into Louisburg on the ice !
The men, however, kept up their spirits

successfully, in spite of the untoward de
lay. An opportune chance at an ene
my s vessel served to occupy their minds
and reinvigorate their hopes. A French
colonial vessel, laden with tropical prod
uce, rum, and molasses, appeared off the
coast, making its way to the port of Lou
isburg. The New-England cruisers at
once pounced upon it, and, making it
an easy capture, brought the prize into
Canseau, much to the satisfaction of the
impatient invaders.

Care was taken by the judicious Pep
perell to keep his men busy. Some were
put to preparing the ammunition ; some
were set to building fortifications, struo




tures, and hospitals, for the more effect
ive protection of the small garrison of
Canseau; and others were sent out in
detachments to practise themselves in
skirmishes with the neighboring savages
and French. Important information in
regard to Louisburg was gathered from
those taken captive in these engage

Three weeks had thus passed with the
troops still at Canseau, in consequence
of the ice, when the appearance of three
large vessels off the harbor was an
nounced. These, to the great satisfac
tion of the colonists, proved to be British
men-of-war, under command of Warren.
Soon after this officer had written to Gov
ernor Shirley, refusing to co-operate on
his own responsibility with the colonial
expedition, he received orders from the
British government directing him to ren
der with his squadron all the aid in his
power to the New-England enterprise.

Warren, who was a prompt officer, im
mediately set sail in the Superbe, ac
companied by the Launceston and the
Mermaid. He was making for the port
of Boston, quite unaware of the proposed
attack on Louisburg, when he fell in with
a New-England vessel, from which he
learned that the troops had sailed for
Canseau. He accordingly directed his
course at once for that place, where the
arrival of his three effective men-of-war
was now hailed with joyful acclamation.

Warren was a brave, impulsive Irish
man, and a most skilful sailor and judi
cious commander. His long service on
the American coast had made him famil
iar with its navigation, and no naval offi

cer accordingly could be better fitted to
guard provincial seaboard interests. He
was, moreover, bound by a family tie to
the colonies, having married the daugh
ter of James Delancy, lieutenantrgovern-
or of New York. He had become also a
large landed proprietor, owning an exten
sive territory watered by the Mohawk.

His nephew was the well-known Sir
William Johnson, who, having been in
vited by his uncle to take charge of his
American estates, became so enamored
of the wild life on the borders, that he
passed the remainder of his years among
the Indians, over w 7 hom he exercised an
influence perhaps never equalled by any
European. These various circumstances
served to identify Warren with colonial
interests, and caused him to support them
with ardor.

Warren and his ships were a great ac
cession to the colonial troops, and their
arrival gave increased confidence to all.
Pepperell might, perhaps, have been par
doned a little feeling of jealousy, on the
arrival of the English admiral, who was
to supersede him in part of his command.
Pepperell had been appointed lieutenant-
general and commander-in-chief of both
the land and sea forces. He was now re
quested, by a letter from Shirley, to make
over the command of the colonial fleet
to Warren. "You will perceive," says
Shirley to Pepperell, " upon your perusal
of his majesty s orders to me, that in any
attempt against the enemy s settlements,
he has plainly given Commodore Warren
the command of the shipping or naval
force with which I am ordered to assist
him ; hence in general upon any expedi-



tion, which you are sensible must super
sede any commission from me, as to any
sea-command ; and doubtless Commodore
Warren will expect and insist upon the
armed vessels with which, since my re
ceiving his majesty s orders, I am assist
ing him in obedience to the royal com
mands, the command of those ships ; and
I doubt not, sir, from the extraordinary
conduct and vigilance with which you
have hitherto acted for his majesty s ser
vice, that you will instantly give orders
to Tyng and the other cruisers to follow
the commodore s directions and orders to
them, the omitting of which may create
a most unhappy disagreement and vari
ance between you and Mr. Warren, which
may prove fatal to the service. Had I
not received these precise orders from
his majesty, which so evidently give Mr.
Warren a general command at sea, in all
expeditions from hence, I should have
insisted upon my command given you
over the sea-forces (which, as it is, is only
suspended during Captain Warren s pres
ence, and would revive upon his going
off), against every person whatsoever;
and you must be sensible that this is not
a preference given to him by me, but
only acting in obedience to his majesty s

It is quite evident that Shirley was
particularly anxious to shift the respon
sibility of this change from himself, and
at the same time not the less desirous of
securing as large a share of the command
as possible for Warren. It has even been
asserted that the governor was desirous
of giving the English commodore the en
tire control of the expedition. There is

no occasion, if this be true, to attribute
Shirley s conduct to jealousy of his friend
Pepperell. It was quite natural that, in
his anxiety for the success of the expedi
tion, of which he was the originator, the
governor should have more faith in the
leadership of one who, like Warren, was
of established fame, than in Pepperell,
who, with all his well-known qualities as
a good and true man, had had no oppor
tunity of giving proof of his capacity as
a military commander.

Pepperell, though tenacious of his own
rights, was the first to welcome Warren s
arrival, and did not hesitate to yield his
naval command to the English commo
dore, although he brooked no interfe
rence with his leadership of the land-
forces. In Pepperell s first letter to War
ren, in which he hurried to congratulate
him upon his arrival, he took care at once
to define what he supposed to be the es
pecial function of the naval branch of the
service : " I am confident," he says, " that
nothing which the strictest vigilance and
prudence can foresee or bravery execute
will be wanting on your part, and doubt
not you will succeed in preventing ihe in
troduction of provisions and succors into Lou-
islurg, and that we shall soon have the
pleasure of a meeting there."

Pepperell was a positive, self-confident
man, and relied, with all his inexperience
and that of his troops, upon his and their
efforts mainly for the attempt upon Lou-
isburg. He, however, was a prudent man
withal, and was not disposed, upon a mere
question of etiquette, to quarrel with War
ren, to whom and whose ships he looked
for such important aid in the approaching




enterprise. It was now agreed between
the two commanders that the naval squad
ron should proceed to blockade the har
bor of Louisburg, and thus cut off all
communication by sea ; while the troops
should be transported at the earliest mo
ment, and, disembarking at the most con
venient point, should attack by land the
French citadel.

The ice did not clear away sufficiently
until toward the close of the month of
April, to allow of the sailing of the troops.
It was thus as late as the 29th of April
when the transports weighed anchor and
sailed for Louisburg. In accordance with
Governor Shirley s design, it was intend
ed to reach that place in the dead of
night, and therefore the departure from
Canseau had taken place early in the
morning. Though starting with a fair
breeze, the wind in the course of the
evening so far lulled, that the vessels did

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 2 of 126)