Book Review: The Capture of Louisbourg, 1758


by Hugh Boscawen

Norman, Ok.: University of Oklahoma Press, 2013. Pp. xxxviii, 466. Illus., maps., tables, append., notes, biblio., index. $26.95 paper. ISBN: 0806144130

The Forgotten Prelude to the Conquest of “New France”

Boscawen is a former British Army officer and rather prolific historian of eighteenth century naval and military history. He is also, not incidentally a descendant of the Adm. Edward Boscawen, who figures prominently in the work, which is an account of the reduction of the French fortress of Louisbourg, on Cape Breton Isle, during the Seven Years’ War, which initiated the British conquest of Canada.

Boscawen opens with a look at the shaping of British strategy during the wars for North America. He follows this was a chapter on the history of the fortress, from 1715, through its capture by a New England expedition in 1745, its return to France by treaty, and on through 1757. Boscawen follows with a chapter covering British planning for the operation, one on the naval maneuvers that set the stage for the operation, and one on the imposition of a naval blockade on the fortress. There follows a chapter on the British military and navy preparations for a joint expedition and one on the initial landings on Cape Breton Isle. He devotes three chapters to the eight-week siege, from the initial investment through the opening of siege lines and on to the final sustained bombardment that led to the surrender of the fortress on July 26, 1758. Two chapters follow discussing the consequences of the fall of Louisbourg and offering some general conclusions. 

A volume in the University of Oklahoma Press series “ Campaigns and Commanders The Capture of Louisbourg is an important work not only for those interested in the military history of the eighteenth century, but also for students of expeditionary warfare , as it is an excellent account of how highly sophisticated British planning for and skill at joint expeditionary operations had become by the mid-eighteenth century, furthering the ground-breaking work of the late David Syrett in such works as Shipping and Military Power in the Seven Years' War .

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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