Canada. Siege of Louisbourg. Dairy
Manuscript diary, in French, in two parts: "Journal 1748," 94 pp in 3 quires (13 1/4 x 8 1/4 in. and 14 3/4 and 9 3/4 in.; 347 x 210 mm); "Suite du journal," 84 pp in 3 quires linked with green laces (15 7/8 x 10 1/6 in.; 400 x 258 mm), brown ink on paper; dampstains and foxing, ink faded on some pages.
The writer, unknown, is a French officer of the second battalion of the Cambis regiment. He arrived from France with the reinforcement troops. He describes all the French forces, the names of the officers (who invite him to their quarters), he writes the progression of the British forces, the number of casualties after each attack, even quotes the problems in the place's fortifications. The hand writing is sharp and clear until 11 July when the bombing becomes systematic. After that date, the place is very damaged and the conditions of living (and writing) are harder.
On July 21, the French lost three of their five ships which defended the entrance of the harbor, partly because of the wind : "(...) une bombe tombée a bord du Célèbre a fait sauter le gaillard et le feu s'est communiqué dans peu au reste du vaisseau (...) il a gagné dans peu de tems l'Entreprenant qui étoit à portée sous le vent (...) ils se sont portés sur le Capricieux qu'ils ont aussi mis en feu (...)".
The destruction of the King's Bastion, on July 25, is one of the main causes of the surrender on July 26. All the French regiments accepted the conditions of the peace except the Cambis regiment which preferred to break their weapons and burn their colors.
The second part of the diary, from 30 July 1758 to 1 May 1759 relates in the same detailed way the surrender, the conditions of captivity of the prisoners and the return, a year after to Saint-Malo, France.
This manuscript is a very detailed and lively relation of the siege and surrender of one of the four most important French fortresses in America. French panache appears in the lines: "nous attendons ce qui sera decide dans la ferme resolution de vendre cher aux anglois la prise de cette place." The loss of Louisbourg is a crucial event for the end of French presence in North America. It opened the road to Quebec which will fall a year later.
Such private and detailed French sources on the Siege of Louisbourg are rare.