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     The capture of Louisburg in 1745 was one of the most extraordinary military achievements of the New England Colonies. Louisburg, which was situated on the Island of Cape Breton, belonged to the French, who, realizing its strategic importance in the event of a possible invasion of New England, expended many millions of dollars in erecting fortifications.

     Governor Shirley of Massachusetts had been told that a sudden attack on this fortress might succeed, and he at once decided to organize an expedition. Parkman in his history calls this undertaking “a mad scheme.” A man called William Vaughan, who lived on the Damariscotta River in Maine, had been urging the attack for many years, as he feared that Louisburg might some day destroy his fish and lumber trade. Shirley talked the question over with him and determined to bring his proposal before the legislature.

     He succeeded finally in obtaining a favorable decision by a majority of only one vote. Massachusetts furnished three thousand men, Connecticut and New Hampshire contributed five hundred troops, and Rhode Island loaned a ship-of-war. Colonel William Pepperell of Kittery, Maine, was chosen to command the expedition, and Roger Wolcott of Connecticut was commissioned Major-General and second in command. Colonel Pepperell very much doubted the success of the enterprise, as he had only one 24-gun frigate and twelve small vessels. Governor Shirley appealed to England for assistance, and three ships were despatched, which, however, arrived in Boston after Colonel Pepperell’s vessels had left. They joined the attacking force at Louisburg and furnished much assistance.

     The New Englanders effected a landing on the first of May and laid siege to the town at once. Vaughan on the next day led four hundred men back of the hills where he succeeded in setting on fire some naval stores. Nearby the French had a battery of thirty guns, and when the defenders saw the clouds of smoke they became panic-stricken and fled without firing a shot. Vaughan’s men of course took possession, turning the guns against their former owners. The capture of this battery was good fortune and helped to decide the fate of the fortress. In a few days some British vessels arrived upon the scene, and the combined forces prepared a thousand scaling ladders for a grand attack. The Frenchmen became discouraged at these preparations and so surrendered on June 17. The world could not believe that Louisburg had fallen. New England celebrated the event with great enthusiasm. Colonel Pepperell was made a baronet, the only native American who ever received this appointment. Louisburg Square was named to commemorate this victory, but the two statues, one of Aristides and the other of Columbus, one at each end of the Square, are in no way connected with the Louisburg expedition.

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