Endgame 1758: The Promise, the Glory, and the Despair of Louisbourg's Last Decade

Endgame 1758: The Promise, the Glory, and the Despair of Louisbourg's Last Decade

Endgame 1758: The Promise, the Glory, and the Despair of Louisbourg's Last Decade

Endgame 1758: The Promise, the Glory, and the Despair of Louisbourg's Last Decade

Synopsis

The story of what happened at the colonial fortified town of Louisbourg between 1749 and 1758 is one of the great dramas of the history of Canada, indeed North America. The French stronghold on Cape Breton Island, strategically situated near the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, was from soon after its founding a major possession in the quest for empire. The dramatic military and social history of this short-lived and significant fortress, seaport, and community, and the citizens who made it their home, are woven together in A. J. B. Johnston's gripping biography of the colony's final decade, presented from both French and British perspectives. Endgame 1758 is a tale of two empires in collision on the shores of mid-eighteenth-century Atlantic Canada, where rival European visions of predominance clashed headlong with each other and with the region's Aboriginal peoples. The magnitude of the struggle and of its uncertain outcome colored the lives of Louisbourg's inhabitants and the nearly thirty thousand combatants arrayed against it. The entire history comes to life in a tale of what turned out to be the first major British victory in the Seven Years' War. How and why the French colony ended the way it did, not just in June and July 1758, but over the decade that preceded the siege, is a little-known and compelling story.

Excerpt

I did not realize it when I began to write this book, but it has turned out to be the closing chapter of my multivolume biography of eighteenth-century Louisbourg. It may sound odd to speak of a constantly evolving settlement of thousands of people over the span of four decades in terms of a biography. Nonetheless, that is how I now see this account of the events of the second and final French occupation of Louisbourg.

The story of what happened at Louisbourg between 1749 and 1758 is one of the great dramas in the history of Canada, indeed, of North America. It is a tale with many twists and turns, which brings in the end roughly forty thousand men, women, and children on shore and afloat at Louisbourg in June and July 1758. the resulting clash was monumental by anyone’s standards. One of the largest British military forces ever to campaign in North America—roughly twenty-seven thousand soldiers and sailors—went up against approximately eighty-five hundred French soldiers and sailors. the exact number of French civilians within the walls of Louisbourg is unknown, but the total was likely around four thousand. By itself the overall forty thousand figure reveals not only the massive scale of the undertaking but also the importance the two imperial powers placed on Louisbourg, the one to defend it and the other to capture it.

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