King George's War

A Brief History

"After enjoying a state of comparative peace and prosperity for nearly thirty years following Queen Anne's War, the news of war again between France and England reached the American shores; hostilities being declared by the former on March 15th, and by the latter April 9th 1744. This is commonly known as King George's War. It originated with disputes regarding the kingdom of Austria.

The most important event of this war in America was the seizure and capture of Louisburg. After the peace of Utrecht in 1713, the French had built Louisburg, on the Island of Cape Breton (Nova Scotia), and fortified it at an expense of five and a half million dollars. The works had been twenty-five years in building, and were of such strength that the place was sometimes regarded as The Gibraltar of America.

Impressed with the importance of rescuing this fortress from the French, as it furnished a convenient retreat to such privateers as annoyed to those engaged in the fisheries, Governor Shirley of Massachusetts, in January 1745, communicated a plan to the legislature which he had formed for its reduction. The measure was adopted only by a majority of a single voice, and so serious were the objections urged against it that Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island raised their respective quotas of troops; New York furnished artillery, and Pennsylvania raised provisions. The troops numbered four thousand, and the naval force consisted of twelve ships and vessels.

The cooperation of Commodore Warren, then in the West Indies, was expected, and when at the moment their hopes were likely to be disappointed in regard to his aid—having excused himself from any concern in the enterprise—he joined the expedition with his fleet at Canso. On May 11th the combined forces appeared off Louisburg, and effected a landing at Gabarus Bay, the enemy being until that moment, ignorant that the attack was under way.

After several movements, a siege was commenced, and for fourteen nights they were occupied in drawing cannon towards the town, over a morass, in which oxen and horses could not be used. Incredible was the toil. By the 31st of May, several batteries had been erected, one of which had mounted five forty-two pound cannon. These batteries were quite effective.

Meanwhile, Commodore Warren captured the Vigilant, a French ship of seventy-four guns, and with her five hundred and sixty men, and large quantities of military stores. By this capture the English added to their military supplies, and seriously lessened the strength of the enemy. Shortly after, the number of the English fleet was considerably augmented by the arrival of several men-of-war. A combined attack by sea and land was now determined and fixed for the 29th of June. Before the arrival of the appointed time, however, the enemy desired a cessation of hostilities, and on the 28th of June, after a siege of forty-nine days, the city of Louisburg and the Island of Cape Breton were surrendered to his Britannic majesty.

Thus successfully terminated a daring expedition, which had been undertaken without the knowledge of the mother country. The acquisition of the fortress of Louisburg was as useful and important to the colonies and the British empire, as it was mortifying to the court of France. Besides the stores and prizes which fell into the hands of the English, security was given to the colonies in their fisheries, Nova Scotia had been preserved, and the trade and fisheries of France nearly ruined.

The capture of Louisburg roused the court of France to revenge. Under the Duke D'Anville, a nobleman of great courage, an armament was dispatched to America in 1746 consisting of forty ships of war, fifty-six transports, with three thousand five hundred men, and forty thousand stands of arms for the use of the French and Indians in Canada. The object of this expedition was to recover possession of Cape Breton, and to attack the colonies. But several ships of this formidable French fleet were damaged by storms, others were lost, and one forced to return to Brest, on account of a malignant disease among her crew. Two or three only of the ships, with a few of the transports, arrived at Chebucto, now Halifax. Here the admiral died, through mortification, or, as some say, by poison. The vice-admiral came to a similar tragic death, by running himself through the body. That part of the fleet that arrived sailed with a view to attack Annapolis, but a storm scattered them, and prevented the accomplishment of this object.

In April 1748, a preliminary peace was signed between France and England, at Aix-la-Chapelle, a city in the western part of Germany, soon after which hostilities ceased. The definitive treaty was signed in October. Prisoners on all sides were to be released without ransom, and all conquests made during the war were to be mutually restored.


— A History of the United States, by Charles A. Goodrich, 1857 (edited)


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