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Endgame 1758

The Promise, the Glory, and the Despair of Louisbourg's Last Decade

A. J. B. Johnston

Publication Year: 2008

The story of what happened at the colonial fortified town of Louisbourg between 1749 and 1758 is one of the great dramas of the history of Canada, indeed North America. The French stronghold on Cape Breton Island, strategically situated near the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, was from soon after its founding  a major possession in the quest for empire. The dramatic military and social history of this short-lived and significant fortress, seaport, and community, and the citizens who  made it their home, are woven together in A. J. B. Johnston’s gripping biography of the colony’s final decade, presented from both French and British perspectives.
Endgame 1758 is a tale of two empires in collision on the shores of mid-eighteenth-century Atlantic Canada, where rival European visions of predominance clashed headlong with each other and with the region’s Aboriginal peoples. The magnitude of the struggle and of its uncertain outcome colored the lives of Louisbourg’s inhabitants and the nearly thirty thousand combatants arrayed against it. The entire history comes to life in a tale of what turned out to be  the first major British victory in the Seven Years’ War. How and why the French colony ended the way it did, not just in June and July 1758, but over the decade that preceded the siege, is a little-known and compelling story.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization Series

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. viii

List of Maps

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pp. viii

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pp. ix

I would like to thank the following individuals for their assistance in the preparation of this book: B. A. Balcom, Charles Burke, René Chartrand, Elisabeth Demers, Kenneth Donovan, Bruce Fry, Heather Gillis,...

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Terminology and Dates

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pp. x

The reader will encounter both Mi’kmaq and Mi’kmaw in this text. Mi’kmaq is the spelling used when the people as a whole are being described. Mi’kmaw refers to a single person, and it is the adjectival form. All dates are presented according to the Gregorian calendar,...

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Prologue: The Book Ahead

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pp. 1-22

I did not realize it when I began to write this book, but it has turned out to be the closing chapter of my multivolume biography of eighteenth- century Louisbourg. It may sound odd to speak of a constantly evolving settlement of thousands of people over the span of four decades in terms of a biography. Nonetheless, that is...

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Chapter 1: Opening Moves, 1749

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pp. 23-45

Some dates loom larger than others, and in what is now Atlantic Canada, 1749 was a year of paramount importance. Two events that summer were to have a deep impact on all peoples in the region: Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet), French, Acadians,...

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Chapter 2: Middle Game, 1750–1755

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pp. 46-87

The events of 1749 altered more than the physical surroundings at Halifax and Louisbourg. Because the two major initiatives elevated the hopes and fears of all implicated peoples— the Mi’kmaq, the Acadians, and the British and the...

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Chapter 3: The Match Heightens, 1756–1757

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pp. 88-147

Louisbourg harbor does not freeze over in the twenty-first century, nor did it in the eighteenth. Thus the only times ships could not come and go as their captains pleased was when strong winds or no winds at all made it impossible, or when packs of...

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Chapter 4: Beginning of the End, Early 1758

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pp. 148-183

The people of Louisbourg made a valiant effort to enjoy themselves during the winter of 1757–58. Throughout the cold, dark season they did their best to put aside worries about blockades, food shortages, and a looming British assault. January...

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Chapter 5: This Time for Real, June 1–7, 1758

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pp. 184-206

The showdown building on and offshore at Louisbourg in the early days of June 1758 involved an enormous cast of characters. Including civilians, there were perhaps as many as thirty thousand individuals on the attacking side and ten thousand...

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Chapter 6: Attack and Defend, June 8–July 27, 1758

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pp. 207-272

As midnight struck on June 7 and the calendar rolled over to June 8, sailors extinguished nearly all the visible lights on the British transports anchored in Gabarus Bay. The only exceptions were at the waterline, where lanterns hung over...

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Chapter 7: Winner Take All

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pp. 273-290

The last days of July and early days of August 1758 brought little respite for the victors or the vanquished other than that the bombardment stopped. One task confronting both sides was a tabulation of dead and injured. As the attacker of an entrenched fortification,...

Appendix 1: French Ships to Louisbourg, 1758

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pp. 291

Appendix 2: British Ships at Louisbourg, 1758

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pp. 292-293

Appendix 3: French Land Forces at Louisbourg, 1758

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pp. 294

Appendix 4: British Land Forces at Louisbourg, 1758

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pp. 295-296


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pp. 297-336


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pp. 337-350


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pp. 351-365

E-ISBN-13: 9780803209862
E-ISBN-10: 080320986X

Illustrations: Illus.
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization Series