Robert Tomes.

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

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not arrive at their destination until an
early hour next day. It was hoped that
they would have reached the bay of
Chapeaurouge,or Gabarus as it was called
by the English, upon the shores of which
it was determined to land, without being
discovered by the inhabitants of Louis
burg. Every precaution had been taken
to prevent a knowledge, on the part of
the French, of the proposed attack, and
with complete success. The English men-
of-war had been observed cruising in the
neighborhood, but their purpose was not
suspected ; while their diligent capture
of coasting and other vessels bound to
and from Louisburg, put a stop to all
communication from without, by which
the French might have been made aware

of their impending danger, and have pro
tected themselves accordingly.

It was not until the New-England fleet
of a hundred sail, soon after daybreak on
the morning of the last day of April, came
sailing into their bay under full canvas,
that the French were conscious of their
danger. Great was the alarm and great
the confusion at Louisburg when the ap
proach of so formidable an enemy was
observed. There can be little doubt that
if the colonial troops (so unexpected was
the invasion) had arrived as was intend
ed, marched to the town, and made an
assault under cover of the night, Louis
burg would have fallen at once, and Shir
ley s bold design been fully justified by
a triumphant success.

The provincial troops were no less ea
ger for the attack than the French were
dejected at its prospect. The vessels had
hardly come to anchor in the bay,
when the boats were lowered and
pulled off, loaded down with soldiers, ea
ger to reach the shore and commence the
affray. As they neared the land within
a short distance of the walls of the town,
the fort was aroused to a great state of
excitement. The bells began to sound a
general alarm, and the signal-guns were
fired in quick succession. Finally, a de
tachment of French troops appeared is
suing from the gates of Louisburg, and
marching rapidly to the point where the
provincials seemed about to land. These
latter, however, having made a feint of
pulling their boats to a certain spot, sud
denly changed their course, and disem
barked farther inland, before the enemy
could arrive and dispute their landing.




They had some difficulty in getting safe
ly in with their boats, in consequence of
the great surf, but finally succeeded ; and
had no sooner sprung to the shore, than
they became the pursuing force, and
rushed eagerly to meet the French, whom
they defeated at the first collision, killing
seven or eight, and wounding and captu
ring as many more, among whom was the
French commander Morepang. The rest
of the enemy took to their heels and fled
back in panic to the town. The provin
cials came out of the encounter without
any loss, and with only one or two wound
ed ; and, being in fine spirits, their com
mander was eager to give them a " time
for a general push." The troops now
succeeded in landing, without fear of mo
lestation; and in the course of a few
days, the whole force had disembarked,
and encamped before the town. In the
meantime, Pepperell kept up almost dai
ly communication by letter with Warren,
who, with his squadron off the mouth of
the bay, was doing good service in block
ading the harbor, and protecting by the
cover of his guns the provincial camp on

As soon as a sufficient number of the
soldiers had landed, Pepperell sent, on
the very first day of their arrival, Colonel
Vaughan (the same man who had pro
posed the bold expedient of floating the
troops upon the ice into Louisburg), at
the head of a company, to reconnoitre
Louisburg and its environs. This officer
approached as near as possible to the
garrison, and, having let them hear the
sound of three hearty cheers, he marched
his men to the acclivity of an eminence

called Green hill, which overlooked the
Royal battery, at some distance from the
town, to the northeast of the harbor.
Here Vaughan, having arrived at night>
fall, found several dwellings and struc
tures, to which he set fire, making a most
portentous-looking blaze and smoke. Du
ring the night Vaughan sent back most
of his men, and encamped with thirteen
only on the spot ; and at break of day
next morning, ascending the summit of
Green hill, to make a survey of the
Grand battery, which was situated within
distinct view below, he was surprised to
find that there was every appearance of
its being deserted. There was no flag
flying, no smoke rising from the barrack-
chimneys, and in fact no indication of its
containing a single soldier. He now de
scended and entered the battery with his
thirteen men, and sent back immediately
to the provincial camp, asking for a rein
forcement to aid in holding the position,
and a British flag to fly from the fort. In
the meantime, one of the thirteen, strip
ping off his red coat, and taking it in his
teeth, climbed the staff, and nailed it to
the top.

It seems that the smoke and blaze
from the conflagration on the acclivity
of Green hill, during the night before,
had been observed from the Grand bat
tery, and had so frightened the soldiers
of the garrison, who supposed that the
whole force of the enemy was approach
ing, that they deserted their post and
fled into the town.

The French soon discovered their mis
take, and sent out boats, with a hundred
men or so, to regain possession of the




battery before Vaughan and his handful
of men could be reinforced by the pro
vincial camp. The brave Vaughan, how
ever, leading out his thirteen to the shore,
succeeded in keeping the Frenchmen at
bay, and prevented their landing, until
aid from Pepperell arrived, when the en
emy were forced to betake themselves
hurriedly to the town.

The provincials, finding that the can
non had been spiked by the French pre
vious to deserting the battery, set some,
twenty smiths, under the supervision of
one Pomeroy, a gunsmith by trade, and
now a major of a Massachusetts regiment,
to work at drilling the guns. They thus
found themselves in possession of twenty-
eight serviceable forty-two pounders, be
sides a good supply of shells, balls, and
other ammunition. The powder, how
ever, had been thrown into a well. With
the Grand battery thus reinstated, the
provincials were enabled to turn upon
the enemy their own guns with great
effect. The French were much vexed at
the result, and strove, by keeping up a
brisk fire, to render the position too hot
for the provincials to hold ; but the lat
ter succeeded in maintaining possession,
and in returning more than they received.
The Grand battery remained, impregna
ble, in the hands of the colonists, to the
end of the siege.

The coup de main suggested by Shirley
having been now abandoned, there was
every prospect of a long siege ; and Pep
perell accordingly made preparations for
a systematic attack. He be^an erectini;

J O o

batteries at various points, from which
he might direct his fire upon the town.

One was constructed on Green hill, fifteen
hundred yards from the northwestern
wall ; another in the same direction, some
six hundred yards nearer ; and a third
within seven hundred yards of the town.
These batteries were composed of brush
wood, fagots, and turf, which naturally
suggested themselves to the militia, who
made no pretension to skill in military
art, and who in fact ridiculed its techni
calities. It was a labor of great difficulty
to land the cannon and place them in po
sition. In consequence of the boggy na
ture of the soil, the Avheels of the gun-
carriages sank deeply into the morasses ;
and it was found necessary to transport
them upon sledges, which were construct
ed by a New-Hampshire colonel, of the
name of Messerve. The men, having har
nessed themselves to these by means of
straps drawn over their shoulders,dragged
them, as they sank knee-deep into the
mud, to the batteries. For a full fort
night, by day and by night, they were
thus occupied in this fatiguing work of
getting the cannons into place.

The provincials were much annoyed
by a strong battery of the enemy, built
on an island situated at the opening of
the harbor, and facing the town. This
island battery was keeping up constantly
a brisk fire upon Pepperell s works, and
he was of course anxious to silence its
guns at his earliest chance. Commodore
Warren, had soon discovered the impor
tance of carrying it, and proposed to aid
Pepperell in the undertaking. Councils-
of-war, on land and on shipboard, were
held from day to day, to devise some plan
for this purpose. The commodore Avas




for attempting it at once ; but Pepperell,
more cautious and prudent, insisted upon
waiting until his battering cannon and
mortars were ready to play on the town.
The attempt, therefore, was postponed ;
while the provincials, in the meantime,
busied themselves in completing and fur
nishing their batteries, and bringing them
nearer and nearer to the walls of the cit^

The two commanders now de
termined to send a flag of truce to
the town, with a summons to surrender.
To the demand of the English the French
returned the defiant answer that their
reply would be at the cannon s mouth.
After a momentary cessation of hostili
ties, during this brief parley, the firing
was renewed with greater vigor than ev
er ; and the provincials, with the addition
of a fourth fascine battery, within two
hundred and fifty yards of the west gate
of the town, were now enabled to send
such a shower of balls and shells against
the walls as to do the enemy great mis

Warren now urged again his favorite
project of an attack upon the island bat
tery. The war-council, however, did not
approve of it, considering it too hazard
ous, although Pepperell favored the com
modore s proposition. The objections of
the army were overruled, and, for several
nights in succession, boats were got ready
for an attack ; but it was found imprac
ticable, in consequence of the weather.
The two commanders were in constant
communication, and for the most part in
harmony in regard to the operations of
the siege. Councils-of-war were daily held

May 9.

on sea and land, and the results of their
deliberations communicated through Pep
perell and Warren.

It was finally agreed that the
town of Louisburg be attacked by
storm, in the night, with all the vigor
possible. Before the night set in, how
ever, it was found advisable to postpone
the assault, " inasmuch as there appears a
great dissatisfaction in many of the offi
cers and soldiers at the designed attack
of the town by storm this night ; and as
it may be attended with very ill conse
quences if it should not be executed with
the greatest vigor whenever attempted,
the said attack of the town be deferred
for the present, or until the cannon are
all mounted and in full play, and the
enemy more reduced by the siege."

"Louisburg is an exceedingly strong
place," wrote Major Pomeroy, the gun
smith, to his wife, " and seems impregna
ble. It looks as if our campaign would
last long ; but I am willing to stay till
God s time comes to deliver the city into
our hands." The good dame answered
in the same spirit of patriotic and pious
confidence : " Suffer no anxious thought
to rest in your mind about me. The
whole town is much engaged with con
cern for the expedition, how Providence
will order the affair, for which religious
meetings every week are maintained. I
leave you in the hand of God."

The spirit of the Pomeroys was that
of the whole provincial force ; and the
men went on, day by day and night by
night, toiling without a murmur and with
a pious resignation, waiting for the " com
ing of God s good time." Their labors



Alvl I

were heavy and their sufferings great,
but their energies never flagged and their
spirits were equal to every trial. With
out regular tents, they were obliged to
house themselves under temporary erec
tions of turf and brushwood, and to sleep
upon the ground. The weather, fortu
nately, was unusually dry ; but, notwith
standing, the men suffered from disease
in consequence of their severe hardships
and exposure. Pepperell found so many
of his men disabled, that he was forced
to send to the governor of Massachusetts
for another reinforcement of a thousand
men, for the bringing of whom he had
despatched fourteen transports, which he
took occasion to load with a number of
the prisoners that had been taken.

The provincials continued their labors,
adding battery to battery, and keeping
up a brisk fire night and day from the
works already erected. " Yester
day," writes Pepperell, " we gave
the west gate about one hundred shot
from our fascine battery," and concludes
hopefully : " I hope that, under God, we
shall soon be masters of this island, and
that I shall have the pleasure of writing
you from within the walls of Louisburg."
He had now raised his fourth fascine bat
tery, termed Titcomb s, in honor of one
of the bravest and most daring of the
New-England captains. Having mount
ed this with some of the heavy French
guns taken from the Grand battery, the
provincials were enabled to open a de
structive fire upon the town. As they
were only distant two hundred and fifty
yards, they could point their guns with
such effect, that they succeeded in de-

May 16,

stroying the western gate, with its draw
bridge, and making a small breach in the
walls. The soldiers on both sides, on this
occasion, were brought into each other s
view, and so closely, that they passed
mocking compliments, with invitations to
take a glass of wine, and exchanged vol
leys with their muskets, by which some
Frenchmen were toppled off dead from
the walls.

The enemy did not appear to be doing
as much damage to the besiegers as the
besiegers seemed to be doing to them
selves, for the latter reported several as
wounded by the " splitting" of their own
cannon. Pepperell was apparently very
well satisfied with the progress of his op
erations, and wrote : " We have had con
siderable success hitherto, having cleared
three forty-twos at the Grand battery,
and have done some execution, lodging
several shot in the citadel ; the mortars
and cohorns throw into the tow r n in most
instances." Warren, however, was not
so well satisfied with the state of affairs,
and complained of the apparent delay.
Still, the two commanders remained on
the most friendly terms with each other,
and we find Pepperell thanking the com
modore for the " claret and lemons, and
repeated kind offers."

Warren took care to keep his squad
ron busy; and, with an occasional capture
of an enemy s privateer and some dozen
merchantmen, and a bombardment of two
neighboring French settlements, his ac
tivity told to a good purpose. Pepperell
went on in his usual patient way with
the batteries, to which, having found thir
ty cannon in the east harbor at low-water





mark, he added another near the lightr
house. Here he hoisted an English flag,
and sent a regiment to guard the posi
tion. The French crossed over in boats
from the town opposite, and attempted
to dislodge them, but were repulsed with

Warren wa-s getting more and more
impatient, and continued to urge Pepper-
ell daily by letter to more active opera
tions, and particularly to an attack on
the island battery. The latter answered
these suggestions courteously, but never
failed to justify his own conduct. " It is
my great concern," he says. May 17th,
" that our progress against our enemies
on shore is so slow ; but when the diffi
culties of attacking the island battery
are duly considered, there being but criti
cal moments in which it can possibly be
done with hopes of success ; also the diffi
culty of scaling walls, without a breach,
by undisciplined troops ; of landing our
cannon in so bad a harbor; of getting
them conveyed on such bad grounds in
the face of our enemy s fire, while we can
not annoy them at all ; and a general ill
ness through the army : these and such
like things considered, I hope your pa
tience will not tire. The probability of
the speedy arrival of a French sea-force
I duly consider, but I hope the best, and
nothing in my power shall be wanting
toward the greatest despatch and most
vigorous attack."

Warren had proposed another plan for
the attack on the island battery, which
Pepperell laid before his council-of-war.
The provincials did not seem to approve
of it, as the commodore wished to bring

in his squadron and trust chiefly to the
naval forces for the enterprise. The
troops were desirous, if honor was to be
won, that they should secure for them
selves a fair share of it. Pepperell, ac
cordingly, went on with his systematic
siege, and seemed satisfied with its prog
ress. " We have continued," he says, " our
fire on the enemy from the west-gate bat
tery, which has shattered the wall con
siderably; but we were so unfortunate

last night as to split one of the

f + ;JL May 20,

lorty-two pounders.

The enemy about this time enjoyed a
small triumph, in the arrival of a Bor
deaux merchantman, laden with provis
ions, which succeeded, under the cover
of a dark and stormy night, in escaping
the vigilance of Warren and his cruisers,
and reaching the harbor of Louisburg in
safety. At the same time there arrived
a less welcome visiter in the shape of a
fire-ship, which Pepperell, taking advan
tage of the darkness of the night, had
sent in, and which did considerable dam
age to the enemy s shipping.

Commodore Warren, however, won the
greatest triumph of all, having taken a
French man-of-war of sixty-four guns,
manned by six hundred men, and laden
with military stores. The capture of the
Vigilante, as she was named, produced a
burst of joy in the army, and animated
the soldiers with fresh courage to perse
vere. Pepperell himself seemed now to
tire of the slowness of his own operations,
and proposed a general consultation, in
order to determine upon a speedy and
vigorous attack with the whole united


forces, both sea and land. Warren re-




ceived this suggestion with a hearty wel
come, and, with the advice of his council,
proposed a plan for an attack upon the

It was proposed that all his majesty s
ships, and all the colonial cruisers except
two, with the schooners and transports,
should sail into the harbor and attack the
town and batteries with the utmost vig
or, "with his majesty s ships in such order
of battle as shall be agreed on, and that
all the unarmed vessels anchor in the
northeast harbor, out of gunshot." It was,
moreover, proposed that sixteen hundred
of Pepperell s men should go on board
the vessels of the squadron, to aid in the
attack, while the marines should be land
ed under the command of M Donald, their
colonel, who was to lead the attack on
shore, and be sustained by the provincial

This proposition was by no means wel
come to Pepperell and his army, as its
whole scope was to place the provincials
in a very subordinate position, and de
prive them of all chance of glory in the
proposed undertaking.

Pepperell and his council had other
reasons to urge. The Indians, they con
tended, might come in upon their backs,
while the troops were on board the ships,
and attack what forces remained in the
camp and hospitals. Moreover, they de
clared that the army was so reduced by
sickness, that the soldiers were unfitted
for such service as proposed ; and that if
the plan should miscarry, as it probably
would from this inefficiency, the result
would be disastrous to the colonies. Pep
perell s council then proposed that a gen

eral attack be made upon the town by
the land and naval forces forthwith ; that
five hundred men be impressed from the
cruisers and transports, to embark in the
Vigilante (the vessel captured from the
French), and that the other men-of-war
follow her into the harbor ; that five hun
dred provincials put off in boats from the
Grand battery at a given signal, to land
and scale the walls in front of the town,
under cover of the guns of the squadron
and the land-batteries ; that the marines
and sailors of the fleet should put off and
join them; that five hundred of the troops
should scale the walls at the southeast
part of the town, and that the same num
ber should make a breach at the western
gate, leaving half a thousand disposable
men to aid any party that might need
their services.

This plan of Pepperell s council was
not sent at once to Warren, in conse
quence of a dense fog. The commodore
became impatient, and wrote, asking why
he had not received an answer to the
proposition sent two days be
fore ; and, after reiterating some
of its details, peevishly remarked, " For
God s sake, let us do something, and not
waste our time in indolence !"

The provincials began to sympathize
with Warren s anxiety to do something,
and the council-of-war proposed that the
general should go on board the commo
dore s ship, and try to decide upon some
mutual plan for immediate action. War
ren, although he had been reinforced by
several additional men-of-war* which had
joined him from the various American
and West-Indian stations, was fearful that

May 26,




the arrival of the French fleet, daily ex
pected, would give him so much to do in
looking after it, that he would no longer
have it in his power to aid in the attack
upon Louisburg. He therefore pressed
this enterprise with all his energies. As
a preliminary to the general assault, War
ren thought it necessary to silence the
island battery, which guarded the ap
proach to the town, and was seriously in
the way of his ships making an attack.
He accordingly prevailed upon Pepperell
to make an attempt on the island, though
the army generally was averse to it, as
too hazardous, and as likely to result in

A volunteer party of provincials was
now enlisted for the purpose, and started
with scaling-ladders to make the assault.
Although it was in the darkness of the

night, and every precaution was taken
to elude the vigilance of the enemy, the
garrison of the island battery caught the
alarm, and began to fire upon the boats
before they reached the shore. On the
provincials now attempting to land, they
got so wetted in the heavy surf that many
of the firelocks could not be discharged,
and some of the party were driven back
at once in confusion to their boats ; oth
ers succeeded in making a stand on the
shore for awhile, but were, after an hour s
hard struggle, compelled to yield to the
French. Sixty were killed, and no less
than a hundred and sixteen taken pris
oners. " Providence seemed remarkably
to frown upon the affair," as one of the
pious provincials wrote, in giving an ac
count of this melancholy disaster to his
friends in New England.


Exultant Shouts of the Enemy. Pepperell discouraged. A more Vigorous Push. A General Attack proposed. Opposed
by the Admiral. A French Deserter reports the Enemy in Good Spirits. A Plan to dash them. A Successful Ruse.
An Attack upon the Island Battery again proposed. Opposed hy Pepperell. The Bombardment of the Town
brisker than ever. The General Assault decided upon. The " Three Smokes and Dutch Flag." Great Preparations.
Louisburg suffering more than ever. The Attempt begun. Stirring Addresses from the General and the Commo
dore. The Enemy sends out a Flag of Truce. Proposes to capitulate. Terms of Surrender agreed upon. Pepperell
and Warren disputing about the Keys. The General triumphs. Louisburg entered. Its Strength and its Weakness.
Glorification. Dinner. Parson Moody agreeably disappoints his Friends with a Short Grace. Pepperell and War
ren Joint Governors. The French Flag hoisted as a Decoy. Fat Prizes. Glorification and Thanksgiving in New
England. Ditto in Old England. The King delighted. The Admiral promoted, and Pepperell made a Baronet, the
first and last in New England. The Effect of the Victory.

THAT night s repulse of the attack on
the island battery was a sad blow to the
provincials, who, as the morning dawned
upon them in their camp, heard the ex
ulting shouts of the enemy over the first
success they could claim since the begin
ning of the sieg3. Although Pepperell

had made fair progress in investing the
citadel with his batteries, by which he

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 3 of 126)