The Fortress Of LouisbourgIn all of North America, you will not find a more power fortress than Louisbourg. It was said to be indestructible, but was proven otherwise on a number of occasions. Established in 1713 and located on Northern Cape Breton Island, Louisbourg was not only a fortress but a major commercial center as well. Louisbourg was originally known as Port St. Louis, and its main purpose was protecting Quebec and Montreal by guarding the entrance to the St. Lawrence River against hostile ships.
The other main job for Louisbourg was serving as a base for the cod fishing industry. French fishing ships could come to Louisbourg to unload their catch instead of taking it all the way back to France. This arrangement saved time and money and allowed the ships to catch more fish in a season, since they didnt have to make the long trip back to France with each load. However, Louisbourg was also sending out raiding parties to attack New England villages along the coast.
The New Englanders soon heard of the mutiny at Louisbourg, so the villages decided to fight back against this threat. In 1745, 4000 New Englanders, along with the Royal Navy, launched an attack against the fortress, but Louisbourg didnt think them of as a threat. Louisbourg thought that the New Englanders would not be able to launch a serious attack with any kind of heavy artillery, since they attacked the weak rear side, travelling over marshy, wooded areas to reach the fort. The people of Louisbourg were wrong, however, as the New Englanders did indeed manage to bring in artillery over the marshy terrain. Had Louisbourg attacked the New Englanders now with their entire garrison, the English may very well have turned and ran, but they chose to attack from within their walls with only muskets. This allowed the English to pound the fort with their cannons, as well as exchange musket fire with the French. Since the Royal Navy prevented the bringing in of supplies and reinforcements, Louisbourg was soon forced to surrender to the New Englanders, who banished the French back to France.
The War of the Austrian Succession, which began in 1940 in Europe, ended in 1948 with the signing of the Treaty of Aix-La-Chapelle. As part of this treaty, Cape Breton Island, along with Louisbourg, is returned to France, outraging the New Englanders who fought so hard to take it just 3 years earlier. The French reoccupied Louisbourg in 1749, and resumed their protection of the St. Lawrence River as well as Quebec and Montreal. The French continued their control of Louisbourg for another 7 years, when war was officially declared between France and Great Britain. Because of the importance of Louisbourg to France, the British could see that they would have to take the fort in order to defeat France in North America. In 1758, in order to achieve this, General James Wolfe gathered a large army and naval force to take on the fortress. General Wolfe decided that the best way to attack the fortress would be to surround it and attack mainly from behind, since he knew that a direct naval attack would be useless. The navy was there mainly to block reinforcements and supplies from entering the fort. The Louisbourg garrison had almost been doubled since the last siege, but the attacking force was also much stronger than it had been the first time, consisting of 27000 troops and 160 warships. When the English first attempted a landing to put men on shore, the French attacked them with all that they had, and they almost turned the English back. Had General Wolfe not been so set on taking the fortress, the English would have been sent home after the first attack, but he pushed on and the English managed to get a sizeable land force in behind Louisbourg to attack from the rear. Louisbourg fought as best it could, but it was forced to surrender after only 49 days of fighting. Again, the English sent the French occupants home to France. The English, in 1760, decided to destroy the Fortress of Louisbourg, but it was so well made that they had to just abandon it. The British now had control of all Nova Scotia, the New England States, and the entrance to the St. Lawrence River. This effectively cut off all supplies going to Quebec City and Montreal. England had just opened the door to total power in North America, a door which remains open today.
Sources:Encarta 99 cd-romCanadian encyclopedia 99 cd-romICQ internet search
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