Louisbourg Siege

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Louisbourg Siege (1745).The French commander of Louisbourg fortress at the entrance to the St. Lawrence River launched the renewed Anglo‐French war in 1744 by capturing Canso, besieging Annapolis (Nova Scotia), and encouraging raids on New England shipping. New England responded by besieging Louisbourg with 4,000 volunteers, led by William Pepperrell and supported by Commodore Peter Warren's British naval squadron. With French aid intercepted, and the fortress bombarded by both field cannon and those of its own captured Grand Battery, Louisbourg's 600‐man garrison surrendered after a 39‐day siege in which 101 attackers and 53 defenders were killed.

Louisbourg's fall had wide‐ranging consequences. Cancellation of Britain's planned invasion of Canada in 1746 allowed relieved Canadian defenders to capture both Fort Massachusetts and Saratoga. France's Indian allies in the Ohio Valley, deprived of supplies by the siege of Louisbourg, formed a pro‐British “Indian Conspiracy.” France sent a massive sixty‐four‐vessel armada to Louisbourg, only to have it disrupted en route by storms, calms, and disease. Naval escalation strained British colonial resources, necessitating imperial assistance and causing the frictions that provoked a three‐day impressment riot in Boston late in 1747. New Englanders felt betrayed when Britain returned Louisbourg to the French at the Peace of Aix‐la‐Chapelle (1748).
[See also Canada, U.S. Military Involvement in.]


G. A. Rawlyk , Yankees at Louisbourg, 1967.

Ian K. Steele

Louisburg Expedition

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LOUISBURG EXPEDITION. Louisburg, a French fortress and naval station on Cape Breton Island, threatened British dominance in the North Atlantic. New Englanders especially resented attacks by pirates and privateers on their commerce and fishing. Knowing that France had neglected the settlement, Massachusetts governor William Shirley organized regional support for an attack on the fortress in the spring of 1745. Colonists, joined by British naval ships, captured the settlement on 15 June 1745. The colonists held Louisburg despite ill-fated attempts at recapture and were embittered when, by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1748, England sacrificed Louisburg for Madras, although England's financial reimbursement to Massachusetts energized its flagging economy.


Anderson, Fred. A People's Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years' War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984.

Leckie, Robert. A Few Acres of Snow: The Saga of the French and Indian Wars. New York: Wiley, 1999.

Sosin, Jack M. "Louisburg and the Peace of Aix-la-Chappelle, 1748." William and Mary Quarterly 14 (1957): 516–535.

Raymond P.Stearns/t. d.

See alsoAix-la-Chapelle, Treaty of ; French and Indian War ; King George's War .


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Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island was the keystone of 18th-cent. French strategy in the North Atlantic. Massive fortifications were commenced in 1719–20, and completed shortly before a British and American colonial force captured the ‘Dunkirk of North America’ in 1745. Restored to France in 1748, Louisbourg was a thriving fishing and trading port as well as the key to the French colony in the St Lawrence valley. Captured again after heavy bombardment in 1758, Louisbourg was razed by the British in 1760. Since 1961, the fortress has been partly rebuilt as a regional development and heritage project.

Ged Martin

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