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By James Pritchard

This is often an account of 1 of the main formidable and catastrophic French naval expeditions within the 18th century, leading to the deaths of as much as 8000 males. It exposes the goals and frailties of guys, the arbitrariness of luck, and the bounds of energy within the 18th century. meant as a riposte to the Anglo-American trap of Loisbourg in 1745, the so-called d'Enville day trip set out from France the subsequent 12 months to safe Canada, recapture Acadia and Louisbourg, and ravage the recent England coast as some distance south as Boston. a number of the sixty four French vessels concerned didn't go back and estimates of the lifeless reached as excessive as 8000, but the enemy used to be by no means met in conflict. James Pritchard's account of this naval fiasco sheds new mild at the quantity of the tragedy and increases questions on the position and effectiveness of naval energy through the intercolonial wars of the mid-18th century. Pritchard describes the family and foreign political conditions in France that gave upward push to the excursion, outlining procedure and politics within the context of colonial defence and continental ambition. He reconstructs the occasions that contributed to the failure of the day trip: human and institutional weak spot, climate, spoiled provisions, disorder and the dying of the commanding admiral.

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Extra resources for Anatomy of a Naval Disaster: The 1746 French Naval Expedition to North America

Example text

In the spring, two of the four major military campaigns depending on the navy had failed, not because of defeat in battle but because of ineptitude and ignominy. The Battle of Toulon, which involved 15 ships of the line in company with 12 Spanish warships, was inconsequential. 57 The chief result was to increase enmity between the two Bourbon courts. Shortly before, on 6 February, an even larger French fleet of 22 ships had departed from Brest with a mission to sail up the Channel to engage the enemy, collect a formidable expeditionary force at Dunkirk, and escort it to England.

Its failure belies any view of the inevitability of victory arising from sea power. A careful reconstruction of the events of the expedition and the circumstances surrounding it reveals only uncertainty and confusion in the struggle between two navies. The d'Enville expedition was not destroyed by superior enemy forces - its ships never met the enemy in battle. Nature, in its climatic and pathogenic guises, destroyed the French expeditionary force. Nevertheless, questions of human weakness, personal ambition, and professional competence must be examined and the evidence weighed.

First, it represented the largest French expeditionary force dispatched overseas before the American War of Independence. Not even the defence of Canada a decade later inspired such a singular effort. Second, and more significant, closer examination of the events leading up to and during the expedition and of the behaviour of people who took part may provide a better understanding of the limits to power in Bourbon France, for this expedition failed to accomplish a single one of its military objectives.

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