A scarce plan of the 1745 siege of the fortress of Louisbourg, published in the London Magazine for August of that year. Remarkable for having been issued less just a couple of months after the French surrender.
Eighteenth-century North America was the scene of a global struggle for empire between France, Great Britain, Spain, and the tens of thousands of Native Americans who had survived the depredations of the 17th century. New Englanders were deeply involved in this conflict, fighting the French and Indians as far afield as New York, Maine, Nova Scotia and the St. Lawrence.
The French built the massive fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island in the years 1720-1740 as a base for controlling access to the St. Lawrence and raiding the northern British colonies. It was thus a great triumph when in May-June 1745, during King George’s War (1744-48), it was besieged and captured by New England militia led by Mainer William Pepperell and supported by a British fleet under Admiral Peter Warren. A few years later the pride turned to outrage when the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle returned the fortress to the French.
British media, both in the homeland and the American Colonies, churned out a flood of pamphlets, maps, plans and prints documenting the siege and celebrating its successful outcome. Offered here is one such, being a metal cut map from the August 1745 number of The London Magazine, illustrating an essay titled “Reflections occasion’d by the late Conquest of CAPE BRETON”. The plan depicts the fortress, harbor and the surrounding country, all wildly out of scale relative to the rest of Cape Breton Island. French fortifications, “English” (i.e., American) siege works, the British fleet are shown, with 17 numbered locations identified by a key on the following page of the magazine (not included here). They are as follows:
“1 Royal Fort of 36 forty-two Pounders. 2 The Town. 3 Light-house 4 Battery thrown down into the Sea. 5 Battery that play’d on our People. 6 Battery to guard the Harbour. 7 Batter fronting the Passage. 8 English Battery, that play’d on the Town. 9 English Battery, that beat down the Drawbridge. 10 English weighing up the Cannon Battery. 11 The Enemy coming to hinder them. 12 Commodore Warren’s Ships bombarding the Fort. 13 Ships lying to guard the Harbour from Vessels going in and coming out. 14 Isle St. Paul. 15. Chibout. 16 Isle de Maurepa. 17 Beach-head.”
Though small, the plan conveys the essentials of the siege, and the pictorial elements give it a crude charm.
Jolly, Maps of America in Periodicals before 1800, #21.