2 June

The siege of Louisburg

Louisburg Under Attack

Before Wolfe could attack Quebec it was necessary to eliminate the powerful French fortress at Louisburg, Cape Breton. There were 200 cannons, 17 heavy mortars mounted along the fortifications, 3,000 regular troops in the garrison, plus 1,000 militia and about 500 Indians. Powerful units of the French fleet were in the harbour.

Britain was well prepared for the campaign. The land forces, numbering 12,000, were commanded by General Jeffery Amherst. His brigadiers included Whitmore, Lawrence and Wolfe. Admiral Edward Boscawen commanded the fleet of 39 ships and 12,000 sailors. He and Amherst were friends and worked well together.

Louisburg was commanded by the Chevalier de Drucour, a resolute soldier. His wife was a fighter too, and insisted on being with the guns. When the invasion fleet appeared on June 1-2, Drucour placed 2,000 troops along four miles of the coast where landings would have to be made.

The actual invasion was delayed until June 8, 1758 because of rough weather. Brigadier Wolfe was in command of the landing force. At two in the morning, they set out for the shore in small boats. It was bitterly cold, but the defenders provided a hot reception, waiting until the landing craft were close to the shore before opening fire. It was so intense that Wolfe had to order his boats to get out of range. He then saw that one group had made a landing east of the beach and its men were getting some protection behind the rocks. He ordered the boats to head in that direction. As soon as the water was shallow enough, he jumped into the surf and led his men to the land, waving them on with his stick.

The siege and the battle on shore lasted until July 27. While some of Boscawen's ships were sunk trying to enter the harbour, French ships within the harbour were sunk by gunfire. The battle raged continuously until the British troops broke through and forced Drucour to surrender.

Although Amherst was in command of the attacking force, he always gave Wolfe the credit for the victory. It was his dash and determination that saw it through.


2 June

-1629    William Alexander, founder of the Baronets of Nova Scotia, sent colonists from Scotland to Acadia.

-1755    A New England force attacked Fort Beauséjour near the present boundary between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

-1800    The Legislature of Upper Canada opened the session that introduced the British Criminal Law.

-1847    John A. Macdonald was made a cabinet minister.

-1889    The C.P.R. opened a railway through Maine, between Montreal and Saint John.

-1915    The government appointed a committee to enquire into war purchases.

-1953    Queen Elizabeth II was crowned.

-1954    Dr. C. J. Mackenzie of the Atomic Energy Control Board was awarded the Kelvin medal for outstanding service. He was the second Canadian to be so honoured.