Summary and Info
This is an account of one of the most ambitious and catastrophic French naval expeditions in the 18th century, resulting in the deaths of up to 8000 men. It exposes the ambitions and frailties of men, the arbitrariness of success, and the limits of power in the 18th century. Intended as a riposte to the Anglo-American capture of Loisbourg in 1745, the so-called d'Enville expedition set out from France the following year to secure Canada, recapture Acadia and Louisbourg, and ravage the New England coast as far south as Boston. Many of the 64 French vessels involved did not return and estimates of the dead reached as high as 8000, yet the enemy was never met in battle. James Pritchard's account of this naval fiasco sheds new light on the extent of the tragedy and raises questions about the role and effectiveness of naval power during the intercolonial wars of the mid-18th century. Pritchard describes the domestic and international political circumstances in France that gave rise to the expedition, outlining strategy and politics in the context of colonial defence and continental ambition. He reconstructs the events that contributed to the failure of the expedition: human and institutional weakness, weather, spoiled provisions, disease and the death of the commanding admiral.
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