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The English and French Fleets at Louisbourg: 1758.

In 1758, the English determined, as part of a larger project known in history as the Seven Years War to launch an attack against Louisbourg. Fifteen thousand army men, ten thousand of which were regulars, were to be employed in the expedition against Louisbourg and they were under the command of
Jeffrey Amherst. These troops were to be transported over great distances. The English fleet to be employed had to be one of the largest ever drawn together: 120 transports and other auxiliary vessels, together with 23 men-of-war and 16 smaller vessels, mounting 1,842 guns, and carrying crews of about 14,000 men.1 Naval operations were under the command of Edward Boscawen.

Hardy, Boscawen's second in command, had preceded him to take up the blockade of Louisbourg with eight ships of the line and two frigates. Hardy left England on January 20th, 1758, in the Captain. Upon his arrival, Hardy listed 10 naval vessels that were then at Halifax: Terrible, Defiance, Sunderland, Somerset, Kingston, Boreas, Captain, Northumberland, Orford and Arc en Ciel. My belief is that all of these, with the exception of the two that came in with Hardy from England (Captain and the Boreas), had wintered over at Halifax. After sending two of these vessels to New York in order to escort the transports which had aboard the soldiers who had wintered over there, Hardy took the remainder up the coast in order to blockade Louisbourg Harbor and was in position by April 16th. Boscawen was to bring out a large and fresh fleet from England, and while they were underway at the end of February, they did not arrive at Halifax until May 12th. By June 2nd the entire force was afloat and at anchor in Garbarus Bay, just below Louisbourg.

As for the French, being the masterful sailors that indeed they were, they were able, in spite of Hardy's early start, to get six French men-o-war under the command of Commodore Desgouttes (Marquis Desgouttes) across the Atlantic and into the safety of Louisbourg Harbour. Two of the men-of-war were en flûte, that is to say stripped down with many of their guns removed so as to accommodate the transport of supplies and men. Another French squadron, consisting of "five warships and a frigate"2 under Du Chaffault de Besné almost got themselves into Louisbourg Harbour, but were obliged, in order to avoid Hardy's squadron which by this time was patrolling along the coast, to sail north along the top of Cape Breton Island to Port Dauphin (Ste Ann's). (See map: 11, 15 & 17.) This second French fleet was carrying the Cambis Regiment. This regiment eventually found its way to Louisbourg, arriving overland just a day or so before the English made their landing at Garbarus Bay. The fleet under Besné then carried on to Quebec.

By June the 8th, 1758, the British had affected a landing on the shores just below Louisbourg and the Siege of Louisbourg of 1758 was underway.

  • GO TO >>> A Listing Of The English Ships
  • GO TO >>> A Listing Of The French Ships

    ShipNo. GunsComplimentCaptainDate Left England
    Matw. Buckle
    Feb. 15 '58
    Royal William84765(Hardy)
    Thos. Evans
    Feb. 15 '58
    Princess Amelia80665(Durell)
    John Bray
    Feb. 15 '58
    Dublin74600G. B. RodneyMar. 16 '58
    Terrible*74600Richard CollinsApr. 16 '57
    Northumberland*70520Lord CovilleApr. 16 '57
    Orford*70520Richard SpryApr.16 '57
    Somerset*70520Edward HughesJul. 12 '57
    Vanguard70520Robert SwantonApr. 8 '58
    Burford66520Jas. GambierFeb. 23 '58
    Lancaster66520Hble. G. EdgcumbeFeb. 23 '58
    Devonshire*66520Wm. GordonJun. 29 '57
    Captain*64480John Amherst4Jan. 20 '58
    Bedford*64480Thorpe FowkeFeb. 23 '58
    Prince Frederick*64480Robert ManJan. 29 '58
    Defiance*60400Patrick BairdMay 2 '57
    Pembroke60400Jno. SimcoeFeb. 23 '57
    York60480Hugh PigotJan. 30 '58
    Kingston*60400William ParryApr. 16 '57
    Prince of Orange60400Jno. FergussonMar. 23 '58
    Nottingham60400Saml. MarshallFeb. 23 '58
    Sutherland*50350John RousApr. 6 '56
    Centurion*50350Wm. MantellApr. 16 '57
    Juno32220Jno. VaughanJan. 29 '58
    Diana32220Alexr. SchombergJan. 14 '58
    Boreas28200Hble. Rt. BoyleJan. 21 '58
    Trent28200Jno. LindsayFeb. 23 '58
    Shannon28200Chas. MedowsFeb. 23 '58
    Portmabon*24160Paul H. OurryDec. 23 '54
    Hind24160Robert BondJan. 25 '58
    Scarborough20160Robert RouthSep. 24 '57
    Squirrel20160Jno. WheelockJan. 15 '58
    Kennington20160Maxm. JacobsFeb. 23 '58
    Gramont18125Jno. StottFeb. 15 '58
    Hunter (sloop)10-14110Jno. LaforeyJan. 25 '58
    Hawke (sloop)10-14110Robert HathoreApr. 16 '57
    There were a number of other smaller vessels also employed, and, 144 "Sail of Transports.5
    * - This vessel had been with Holburne's fleet the year before.

    Prudent74680Captured in the harbour.
    Entreprenant74680Burnt and sunk in the harbour.
    Bienfaisant64440Captured in the harbour.
    Célèbre*64440Burnt and sunk in the harbour.
    Capricieux*64440Burnt and sunk in the harbour.
    Appollon50350Sunk by the French at the harbour mouth.
    Aréthuse36270Got away.
    Fidèle36270Sunk by the French at the harbour mouth.
    Comète*30Got away.
    16150Sunk by the French at the harbour mouth.
    16150Sunk by the French at the harbour mouth.
    EchoCaptured in trying to get away.
    I have marked with an asterisk (*) the vessels that had been at Louisbourg the year before as part of De la Motte's Fleet. There was, in addition, another 64 gun French ship the Bizarre which apparently had gotten in that spring, in 1758, but which "escaped out of the harbour on June 8, and the Comète, thirty, a few days afterwards, in spite of the vigilance of Sir Charles Hardy." (Brown's A History of the Island of Cape Breton at p. 304.)




    [1] McLennan, Louisbourg, ("180 sail in total"), pp. 240 & 242.

    [2] "French and Naval Power at the Two Sieges of Louisbourg: 1745 and 1758"; by Julian Gwyn; NSHR, vol. 10 (1990), No. 2, p. 85. The vessels and their respective captains are named at p. 99.

    [3] The information for these list comes from McLennan, op. cit.; see, particularly, the table set out at p. 261.

    [4] John Amherst was Jeffery's brother, younger by one year.

    [5] The numbers are set out in Gordon's Journal, NSHS, vol. 10, p. 99.


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    Peter Landry