Fall of Louisbourg

The Governor Drucour’s plan for the defence of Louisbourg was built on the presumption that the French would be able to impede the British ships to enter the St. Lawrence before the coming of winter.

However, the increased bombardment threatened this strategy. After a few days, the fortress which had still not been fully rebuilt after the siege of 1745 was beginning to fall. Despite the efforts of the French, Louisbourg was doomed.

But the defenders stood well. Madame Marie-Anne de Drucour, wife of the Governor, fired herself three canons each day to inspire the soldiers. But it was impossible to do anything inside the crumbling walls. The men lost hope The situation was made worse on 21 July 1758, when a mortar round from Wolfe’s position at Point a la Croix set ablaze L’Entreprenant, a 74-gun warship. This greatest French ship in Louisbourg fleet, exploded and sank, as two other French ships stationed nearby burned. On July 23, another round destroyed the Bastion de Roi (King’s Bastion), the largest building in North America.

The end was hastened by a thick fog which rolled in on 25 July. The British took advantage of the cover it offered and sent a cutting party to destroy the last two French ships in Havre Louisbourg. Unchallenged, the Royal Navy was then able to seize the harbour. On 26 July, the governor wrote to Jeffery Amherst to request the terms of surrender.

The response was harsh:  We give your Excellency an hour to determine on the only capitulation we are willing to grant, which is, you surrender yourselves prisoners of war. Drucour was in no position to negotiate. He accepted the British terms and signed the capitulation of Louisbourg, Ile-Royale (present day Cape-Breton) and Ile Saint-Jean (today’s Prince-Edward Island). Those who managed to survive the Battle of Louisbourg were deported to France.

The Governor Drucour died in 1762, a little more than 4 years after the surrender of the fortress. His heroic wife Marie-Anne died two months later.

The three British commanders of the three divisions died even earlier: James Wolfe died a hero’s death in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, on 13 September, 1759; Charles Lawrence would die in 1760, cut down by an illness.

Edward Whitmore was made governor of the newly rechristened Cape Breton and the Island of Saint Jean. His first duty was to oversee the demolition of Louisbourg. Once the task was accomplished, he took leave, boarding a ship bound for Boston. During his voyage, he was swept overboard and drowned.

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