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BATTLE HONOURS
Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment
28th, 49th, 61st, 62nd, 66th and 99th Regiments of Foot

 

Louisburg
8th June – 27th July 1758
Unit Awarded Battle Honour Subsequent Designation
28th(North Gloucestershire) Regt 1st Gloucestershire Regiment
  Merged 2nd Battalion 1948
  Merged 1st D.E.R.R. 1994
  Now 1st Bn R.G.B.W.
   
62nd ( Wiltshire) Regiment Merged with 2n Bn 1948
  1st Bn D.E.R.R. 1959
  Now 1st Bn R.G.B.W.

 

THE GENERAL BACKGROUND

It commemorates the siege and capture of the fortress of Louisburg (Cape Breton’s Island, North America) from the France in July 1758. The Army, which was under the command of General the Lord Amherst, numbered 12.000 of all ranks broken down into three Brigades with the Gloucester’s under Brigadier Lawrence in the 3rd Brigade.

The grenadiers and light companies of the various Regiments were, as was customary in those days, organized into separate Battalions.. The Force which was conveyed by twenty three ships of the line, under Admiral Boscawen, on which the 62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment were serving as marines, arrived in Jabarus Bay, a little to the westward of the fortress, on June 8th, 1758. The country was well known by commodore Sir R. Warren, with some colonial troops he had wrested it from the French in 1745.. A reconnaissance revealed three possible landing places, and, to make assurance trebly sure, Amhurst determined to threaten all three, whilst the true attack should be made by Wolfe’s brigade, with the grenadier and light companies at freshwater cove, about three miles from the city.

The landing was stubbornly contested by the French but, thanks to the gallantry of Major Scott, at the head of the light Infantry Battalion, Wolfe was enabled to effect his object with a loss of about 100 killed and wounded. Lawrence’s Brigade was immediately thrown ashore, and by nightfall Amhurst had pitched his camp to the westward, and just out of the range of the guns of the fortress. The task of disembarking the siege material was exceedingly arduous, and Amhurst, owing to the nature of the ground, was compelled to restrict the siege operations to the western face of the fortress, Wolfe however was detached to move round the city and seize some works on the northern side of the harbour. This he effected with but slight loss, and was enabled by a daring coup de main to occupy a commanding position some 300 yards distant from the northernmost bastion. Thanks to the powerful and cordial co-operation of the fleet, Amhurst carried on the bombardment with ceaseless vigour. By the end of July the walls were so battered that they could barely withstand the shock of their own guns, and on the 27th of that month the French General surrendered unconditionally, with 5,600. 

Louisburg 1758

Map of Louisburg 1758

 

'BRAGGS REGIMENT' The 28th of Foot

Grenadier of Braggs Regt 1751

 

Comprehensive orders were issued to the troops engaged in this operation.

The first body that’s ordered to land at Gabarus bay must take nothing in the boats but their arms and ammunition, with bread and cheese in their pockets for two days. No women are permitted to land until the army are all on shore, and their tents, blankets, provisions and necessaries are likewise landed.

As fast as the men get out of the boats they must form and march directly forward to clear the beach and charge whatever is before them. They are not to pursue far, but will be ordered to take post so as effectually to secure the landing of the rest of the army.

 

In spite of the very good organization, the operation nearly failed. The French had posts all along the cliffs, and the small boats were subjected to a tremendous fire as they approached. Rough surf and hidden rocks added to the difficulties. Wolfe was in command of the assault, and just as he was about to call the operation off three boats found a small stretch of beach where they could land their men. Immediately Wolfe made the sailors row his boat to that point, and he leapt ashore, cane in hand, and organized the concentration of the flotilla there. The red coats waded ashore, the 28th, which was in the assault brigade, among them, and soon they formed up and drove the French back to the shelter of the walls, and the guns of Louisburg.

The siege of Louisburg lasted six weeks, six weeks of hard work. They landed stores and supplies, and dug trenches, under fire from the guns of the fortress, and with frequent attacks from Indian Guerrillas.

 

THE 62nd (Wiltshire) REGIMENT

On May 27th 1758, the French outposts overlooking Gabarus bay, on cape Breton island, stood to arms as they beheld a formidable spectacle. Thirty nine British War ships sailed into the bay and anchored, followed over several days by a great assembly of transports crammed with 11.000 troops. By June 2nd, the concentration of the invading force under the command of admiral Boscawen, and with 400 men of the 62nd on board five of his men-o-war, was complete. The siege of Louisburg, the ‘Gibraltar of Canada’ was about to be mounted.

After an opposed landing (Described above) Major General Amhurst ordered Wolfe to take 1,200 men and artillery to the abandoned French battery position at lighthouse point, on the far side of the harbour mouth, to engage the enemy coastal battery on Goat Island, which commanded the harbour entrance, and also the five enemy warships lying at anchor. Soon, the island battery was silenced and the ships driven to the close protection of the fortress.

The French reacted vigorously to this prizing-open of the harbour entrance. One foggy night soon afterwards, they sank six block ships in the channel and began a series of attack’s on the lighthouse point gun positions. The 62nd and other marines, with heavy guns from the fleet, had now relieved Wolfe and his force, to allow their return to the main siege lines, and the men of the 62nd, dug in to give infantry protection to the guns, saw brisk action in repelling the desperate French assaults.

Louisburg 1758

View of Louisburg 1758, in the foreground is Lighthouse Point, where Pepperells men erected their gun battery that silenced the island battery behind it. The harbour is on the right, and Gabarus bay is in the background.

On July 21st, the naval battery at light point point, still defended by the 62nd detachments, scored an excellent hit on one of the French ships of the line, the  Entreprenant, blazing furiously, it drifted to collide with and set alight two other ships.. Some nights later 600 British seamen and Marines including the men of the 62nd ,not at lighthouse point, notably from HMS Burford and Bedford, rowed stealthily into Louisburg harbour and captured the two remaining warships. One went aground and had to be burned, the other was towed away. 

Seldom have British troops had to fight under more trying circumstances than those produced by the difficulties of the landing, the raging surf and the rough and marshy ground round Louisburg. Seldom, too has there been a better illustration of such perfect co-operation between the two services. This is commemorated on one side of the Louisburg medal by a soldier and a sailor holding North America with the words Pariter in Bella. This co-operation could not however, be better illustrated than the part played by The Wiltshire’s between the two services. 

The British took nearly 6,000 prisoners, 240 cannon and 7,500 stands of arms with much ammunition. Eleven stands of colours were also taken, and afterwards deposited in St Paul Cathedral. Among the French garrison in Louisburg was the 62nd regiment of cambise. Some 50 years later the opposing 62nd Regiments met again, when the British 62nd defended the castle of Scylla in calabria against the French. The British losses at Louisburg were comparatively light, and the marines had few casualties.

The 62nd had won their first Battle honour, but it was not awarded till 152 years later. On many occasions over the intervening years the Regiment requested it, always to be told by the War office that there was no record of the 62nd or any part of it having been present. Nor there was in the military archives, the four companies of the 62nd being on the strength of the navy, as the admiralty records plainly showed when they were last inspected. 

 

UNITS AWARDED THE BATTLE HONOUR 'LOUISBURG'

Royal Scots

Sherwood Foresters
Cheshire

Kings Royal Rifles

South Lancashire

Leicester

Northampton

Royal Sussex

East Yorkshire

North Lancashire

Gloucestershire

Wiltshire

 

SOURCES

Battlefields of Canada, by Mary Beacock Fryer

Battle honours of the British Army By C.B. Norman
The Story of the Wiltshire Regiment by  Col Kenrick
The Wiltshire Regiment by Tom Gibson
Cap of Honour by David Scott Daniell
Regimental Journal, The Wiltshire Regiment
 
 
                             
 
                        
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                            Revised: 19 July 2006.