Classic History Books


William Wood - The Winning of Canada: A Chronicle of Wolfe

British vessels, besides Hardy's covering squadron. Of course, the men could not be landed under the fire
of the fortress. But two miles south of it, and running westward from it for many miles more, was

Gabarus Bay with an open beach. For several days the Atlantic waves dashed against the shore so

furiously that no boat could live through their breakers. But on the eighth the three brigades of infantry

made for three different points, [Footnote: White Point, Flat Point, and Kennington Cove. See the

accompanying Map of the siege.] respectively two, three, and four miles from the fortress. The French

sent out half the garrison to shoot down the first boatloads that came in on the rollers. To cover the

landing, some of Boscawen's ships moved in as close as they could and threw shells inshore: but without

dislodging the enemy.

Each of the three brigades had its own flag - one red, another blue, and the third white. Wolfe's brigade
was the red, the one farthest west from Louisbourg, and Wolfe's did the fighting. While the boats rose

and fell on the gigantic rollers and the enemy's cannon roared and the waves broke in thunder on the

beach, Wolfe was standing up in the stern-sheets, scanning every inch of the ground to see if there was

no place where a few men could get a footing and keep it till the rest had landed. He had first-rate

soldiers with him: grenadiers, Highlanders, and light infantry.

The boats were now close in, and the French were firing cannon and muskets into them right and left.
One cannon-ball whizzed across Wolfe's own boat and smashed his flagstaff to splinters. Just then three

young light infantry officers saw a high ledge of rocks, under shelter of which a few men could form up.

Wolfe, directing every movement with his cane, like Gordon in China a century later, shouted to the

others to follow them; and then, amid the crash of artillery and the wild welter of the surf, though many

boats were smashed and others upset, though some men were shot and others drowned, the landing was

securely made. 'Who were the first ashore?' asked Wolfe, as the men were forming up under the ledge.

Two Highlanders were pointed out. 'Good fellows!' he said, as he went up to them and handed each a

guinea.

While the ranks were forming on the beach, the French were firing into them and men were dropping
fast. But every gap was closed as soon as it was made. Directly Wolfe saw he had enough men he sprang

to the front; whereupon they all charged after him, straight at the batteries on the crest of the rising shore.

Here there was some wild work for a minute or two, with swords, bayonets, and muskets all hard at it.

But the French now saw, to their dismay, that thousands of other redcoats were clambering ashore, nearer

in to Louisbourg, and that these men would cut them off if they waited a moment longer. So they turned

and ran, hotly pursued, till they were safe in under the guns of the fortress. A deluge of shot and shell

immediately belched forth against the pursuing British, who wisely halted just out of range.

After this exciting commencement Amherst's guns, shot, shell, powder, stores, food, tents, and a
thousand other things had all to be landed on the surf-lashed, open beach. It was the sailors' stupendous

task to haul the whole of this cumbrous material up to the camp. The bluejackets, however, were not the

only ones to take part in the work, for the ships' women also turned to, with the best of a gallant

goodwill. In a few days all the material was landed; and Amherst, having formed his camp, sat down to

conduct the siege.

Louisbourg harbour faces east, runs in westward nearly a mile, and is over two miles from north to south.
The north and south points, however, on either side of its entrance, are only a mile apart. On the south

point stood the fortress; on the north the lighthouse; and between were several islands, rocks, and bars

that narrowed the entrance for ships to only three cables, or a little more than six hundred yards. Wolfe

 

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