A Blupete Biography Page


LOUIS-FRANCOIS La CORNE
(1703-1761).

Chevalier Louis-Francois Chapt De Louis La Corne1 was born into the army at Fort Frontenac (Kingston, Ontario). His father was Jean-Louis de La Corne Chaptes (1666-1732), a descendant "from a noble family of the province of Auvergne" who had come to France as a young soldier in 1685.2 As for young Louis-Francois, he was to enter the colonial regulars in 1719 and appointed second ensign in 1722.3 During these early years, though an active officer in the army, La Corne was involved in the fur trade, as it seems every Frenchman of any substance was; he financed a number of trips out west. In 1738 he was to become a lieutenant; and, in 1747, he made Captain.

La Corne saw his first action when he was to go to Acadia with Ramezay in 1746. He likely appeared before Annapolis Royal when the French went on the attack in September of that year (they were there but a short time, and, lacking support, were soon to retire to the Isthmus of Chignecto). Intelligence was to come to the French that Noble and a force of New Englanders had moved into premises at Grand Pre; further, they heard, the English were planning to attack the French at the isthmus with the arrival of the better weather in the spring. The French, determined to preempt the English, made an immediate and brilliant overland march, in the middle of winter; and, thus, were to catch the English napping. I give an account of this in my history, The Battle of Grand Pre. Villiers, was seriously wounded at the first of it, such that he was obliged to give up his command to his second in charge, La Corne. After the capitulation -- a term of which was that the English should pack up and return to Annapolis Royal -- La Corne led his weary men (some sick and wounded), together with 50 or so English prisoners, back to the isthmus where orders were waiting for him to return to Quebec. At Quebec, the authorities feted him, indeed, La Corne was recommended for the cross of Saint Louis.

With the arrival of Governor Jonquiere, in 1749, La Corne was sent to Chignecto at the head of a French military force with orders to hold Chignecto and to convince the Acadian inhabitants thereabouts (Beaubasin) to move west of the Missaguash River conceding peninsular Nova Scotia to the English. Arriving in November of 1749, La Corne set about his work. Immediately he commenced the construction of Fort Beausejour. At the other end of the isthmus, at Baie Verte, about 15 to 20 miles away to the northeast, Fort Gaspereaux was started.4

During April, 1750, the English made their counter move -- readily able to so, as Cornwallis, by then, had established a strong English presence at Chebucto (Halifax). Cornwallis sent one of his chief officers, Major Charles Lawrence with 400 men. The English took issue: La Corne was not to be in Acadia; and, being so, was in breach of their recent treaty5, a term of which was that Acadia was confirmed to be English territory. The French did not dispute that fact; but, rather, held a different opinion as to the extent of Acadia. The French were of the view that Acadian territory ended at the Missaguash River; and, to the west of it, was Canadian territory. Lawrence was to establish himself in a newly built fort, Fort Lawrence. Thus it was, by the end of summer, 1750, we would have seen the French (at Fort Beausejour) and the English (at Fort Lawrence) staring at one another across the Missaguash. In the midst of this stalemate, in October of 1750, La Corne was replaced and recalled to Quebec.

I do not believe that La Corne's recall in 1750 was the result of the authorities being unhappy with his performance in Acadia. Indeed, it was because of his successes in Acadia that La Corne was called back to Quebec in its great efforts to the west and to the south. Out west he was to establish Fort Paskoya [Le Pas, Manitoba] and Fort-a-la-Corne [Saskatchewan]). To the south of Quebec, LaCorne was to do battle with the English, once again; he was active at Lake Champlain. During the last years of New France, in home territory, la Corne was to play an important role in the last defence of Quebec and the French efforts to regain it; during which, in one of these battles, la Corne was wounded.

With the capitulation of Montreal, in 1760, many of the French nobility and leading officers were to make their way to France. La Corne and certain members of his family were among the number. They were to board the Auguste on October 15th, 1761; however, the vessel and those aboard came to grief off the coast of Cape Breton. La Corne and three of his relatives were to drown.6

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FOOTNOTES:

[1] We see from the DCB that La Corne was also variously known as "Jean-Louis," "Louis-Luc," and, so too, as "Pierre." Louis-Francois' father, Jean-Louis de La Corne Chaptes (1666-1732), we might determine from his write-up in the DCB (vol.ii), had a number of boys: "... four of his sons became knights of the order of Saint Louis." More generally, the DCB contains short write-ups of five of Jean-Louis' children. In addition to Louis-Francois, there is: Marie Madeleine (1700-62), a sister of the Congregation of Notre Dame; Francois-Josue (1710-1753), an officer in the colonial regular troops; Saint-Luc (1711-84), an officer; and, Joseph(Jean)-Marie, a priest.

[2] In the DCB we find: "Jean-Louis de La Corne Chaptes [the father] was the founder of one of the most important families in New France, and four of his sons became knights of the order of Saint-Louis."

[3] See both Webster's, "The Forts of Chignecto," Appendix beginning at 87; and, the DCB.

[4] Hannay's The History of Acadia, p. 359.

[5] The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) had ended the War of the Austrian Succession.

[6] In the write-up on his illustrious brother, Saint-Luc de La Corne (1711-84), found in the DCB (vol. iv, p. 427), we read: "On Oct. 1761 he [Saint-Luc de La Corne] sailed on the Auguste with quite a number of the Canadian nobility ... He was accompanied by his brother Louis [the subject of this page], two of his [Saint-Luc's] children, and two of his nephews, all of whom he was unfortunately to lose a month later when the ship was wrecked near Cape North, on Cape Breton Island. Only seven of the 121 passengers and crew escaped death. One of the lucky survivors, La Corne Saint-Luc published an account of this voyage. In it he relates how, after many adventures, despite the autumn chill and the lack of supplies and transportation, he succeeded in finding help for his unfortunate companions; he then traveled 550 leagues, going right across Cape Breton island to Canso Strait, following the northwest coast of Nova Scotia to Baie Verte (N.B.), taking the Saint John River to the portage at Temiscouata, and then journeying from Kamouraska to Quebec. He arrived on Feb. 1762 after a hundred days of impossible travel."

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Peter Landry
(2012)