Siege of Louisbourg, 2 June-27 July 1758 (Canada)

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The most significant operation of the French and Indian War in 1758. Louisbourg guarded French access to their Canadian colony and it's capture left the colony isolated, and very hard to reinforce. Pitt was determined to provide the best troops and commanders for the attack. In command of the army was Major-General Jeffrey Amherst, back by three brigadiers known for their energy including James Wolfe. The army numbered 13,200 and was supported by a large artillery train. Command of the fleet was given to Admiral Boscawen, who knew the American waters. He was given twenty-one battleships and fourteen frigates. The entire attack was delayed by bad weather and problems crossing the Atlantic, and the combined fleet and army was not ready until 24 May, putting the entire plan well behind schedule. The original intention had been to capture Louisbourg by the end of June, but the British did not arrive until 2 June. The French had 7,000 men in the garrison on the town, and had managed to get five ships of the line into the harbour, enough to prevent a naval assault on the harbour.

British success came down to a certain amount of luck. The French had fortified the obvious landing places, and when the British attempted to land on 8 June, they were close to a disasterous repulse when two junior officers noticed a small and rocky creek that the French had not fortified, and diverted the assault into that gap. By the time the French realised what had happened, several thousand British troops had reached land, and the French were forced to fall back on the town.The rest of the siege was undramatic. It took till early July for the British to fully establish their line of guns, after which most of the town was vulnerable. The last French hope was their ships of the line, whose's guns were able to threaten the siege, but on 21 July one lucky shot hit the powder store on one of the five, and the fire spread to two more. The burning ships themselves inflicted great damage on the town as their loaded guns fired once hot enough, threatening both the town and other ships. The town and garrison finally surrendered on 27 July, marking Britains first victory during the war.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (21 November 2000), Siege of Louisbourg, 2 June-27 July 1758, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_louisbourg.html

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