Classic History Books


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

saw that the north point, where the lighthouse stood, was undefended, and might be seized and used as a
British battery to smash up the French batteries on Goat Island at the harbour mouth. Acting on this idea,

he marched with twelve hundred men across the stretch of country between the British camp and the

lighthouse. The fleet brought round his guns and stores and all other necessaries by sea. A tremendous

bombardment then silenced every French gun on Goat Island. This left the French nothing for their

defence but the walls of Louisbourg itself.

Both French and British soon realized that the fall of Louisbourg was only a question of time. But time
was everything to both. The British were anxious to take Louisbourg and then sail up to Quebec and take

it by a sudden attack while Montcalm was engaged in fighting Abercromby's army on Lake Champlain.

The French, of course, were anxious to hold out long enough to prevent this; and Drucour, their

commandant at Louisbourg, was just the man for their purpose. His wife, too, was as brave as he. She

used to go round the batteries cheering up the gunners, and paying no more attention to the British shot

and shell than if they had been only fireworks. On June 18, just before Wolfe's lighthouse batteries were

ready to open fire, Madame Drucour set sail in the venturesome Echo, a little French man-of-war

that was making a dash for it, in the hope of carrying the news to Quebec. But after a gallant fight the

Echo
had to haul down her colours to the Juno and the Sutherland. We shall hear
more of the Sutherland at the supreme moment of Wolfe's career.

Nothing French, not even a single man, could now get into or out of Louisbourg. But Drucour still kept
the flag up, and sent out parties at night to harass his assailants. One of these surprised a British post,

killed Lord Dundonald who commanded it, and retired safely after being almost cut off by British

reinforcements. Though Wolfe had silenced the island batteries and left the entrance open enough for

Boscawen to sail in, the admiral hesitated because he thought he might lose too many ships by risking it.

Then the French promptly sank some of their own ships at the entrance to keep him out. But six hundred

British sailors rowed in at night and boarded and took the only two ships remaining afloat. The others

had been blown up a month before by British shells fired by naval gunners from Amherst's batteries.

Drucour was now in a terrible, plight. Not a ship was left. He was completely cut off by land and sea.

Many of his garrison were dead, many more were lying sick or wounded. His foreigners were ready for

desertion. His French Canadians had grown down-hearted. All the non-combatants wished him to

surrender at once. What else could he do but give in? On July 27 he hauled down the fleurs-de-lis from

the great fortress. But he had gained his secondary object; for it was now much too late in the year for the

same British force to begin a new campaign against Quebec.

Wolfe, like Nelson and Napoleon, was never content to 'let well enough alone,' if anything better could
possibly be done. When the news came of Montcalm's great victory over Abercromby at Ticonderoga, he

told Amherst he was ready to march inland at once with reinforcements. And after Louisbourg had

surrendered and Boscawen had said it was too late to start for Quebec, he again volunteered to do any

further service that Amherst required. The service he was sent on was the soldier's most disgusting duty;

but he did it thoroughly, though he would have preferred anything else. He went with Hardy's squadron

to destroy the French settlements along the Gulf of St Lawrence, so as to cut off their supplies from the

French in Quebec before the next campaign.

After Rochefort Wolfe had become a marked man. After Louisbourg he became an Imperial hero. The
only other the Army had yet produced in this war was Lord Howe, who had been killed in a skirmish just

before Ticonderoga. Wolfe knew Howe well, admired him exceedingly, and called him 'the noblest

Englishman that has appeared in my time, and the best soldier in the army.' He would have served under

 

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