Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Ballad of the French Fleet

Last time I wrote about how God confounded the Duc d'Anville's expedition to reconquer Acadia and burn Boston.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem about this fleet, which ascribes the glory of the victory to God.

A Ballad of the French Fleet

A fleet with flags arrayed
Sailed from the port of Brest
And the Admiral's ship displayed
The signal: "Steer southwest."
For this Admiral D'Anville
Had sworn by cross and crown
To ravage with fire and steel
Our helpless Boston town.

There were rumors in the street,
In the houses there was fear
Of the coming of the fleet,
And the danger hovering near.
And while from mouth to mouth
Spread the tidings of dismay,
I stood in the Old South,
Saying humbly: "Let us pray!"

"O  Lord! we would not advise;
But if in thy Providence
A tempest should arise
To drive the French Fleet hence,
And scatter it far and wide,
Or sink it in the sea,
We should be satisfied,
And thine the glory be."

This was the prayer I made,
For my soul was all on flame,
And even as I prayed
The answering tempest came;
It came with a mighty power,
Shaking the windows and walls,
And tolling the bell in the tower,
As it tolls in funerals.

The lightning suddenly
Unsheathed its flaming sword,
And I cried: "Stand still, and see
The salvation of the Lord!"
The heavens were black with cloud,
The sea was white with hail,
And ever more fierce and loud
Blew the October gale.

The fleet it overtook,
And the broad sails in the van
Like the tents of Cushan shook,
Or the curtains of Midian.
Don on the reeling decks
Crashed the o'erwhelming seas;
Ah, never were there wrecks
So pitiful as these!

Like a potter's vessel broke
The great ships of the line;
They were carried away as a smoke,
Or sank like lead in the rine.
O Lord! before thy path
They vanished and ceased to be,
When thou didst walk in wrath
With thine horses through the sea!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Duc d'Anville Expedition

The novel Guns of Thunder is set during the 1745 Siege of Louisbourg.
In 1744, the colonies of France and Great Britain were drawn into the War of the Austrian Succession.  New France repelled an attack at Canso.  In 1745, New England mounted an ambitious expedition.  4,000 colonists besieged the mighty French fortress of Louisbourg.  After 49 days, Louisbourg fell, and the British and their colonies rejoiced.

The news of the capture of Louisbourg shocked the French.  They assembled 11,000 soldiers on board a fleet of 64 ships--the largest expedition to the New World unti the American War of Independence.  The Duc d'Anville commanded the expedition to reconquer Acadia (Nova Scotia) and "consign Boston to flames."

The Duc d'Anville and the French flotilla
Alarmed, the New Englanders fasted and prayed, and God intervened.  Storms battered the French ships, while disease wiped out many soldiers.  When the expedition landed, the Duc d'Anville fell sick and died.  Finally, the remnants of the expedition returned to France.  New England had stood still and seen the salvation of the Lord.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Royal Edinburgh Light Dragoons

During the French Revolution, England expected an invasion from a France ruled by revolutionary tyrants.  To supplement her army, the militia was called up and volunteer corps were raised.  One was the Royal Edinburgh Volunteer Dragoons.  Walter Scott was Quartermaster and also wrote their war song.

"The following War-Song was written during the apprehension of an invasion.  the corps of volunteers to which it was addressed, was raised in 1797, consisting of gentlemen, mounted and armed at their own expense.  It still subsists, as the Right Troop of the Royal Mid-Lothian Light Cavalry, commanded by the Honourable Lieutenant Colonel Dundas.  The noble and constitutional measure of arming freemen in defence of their own rights, was nowhere more successful than in Edinburgh, which furnished a force of 3,000 armed and disciplined volunteers, including a regiment of cavalry, from the city and county, and two corps of artillery, each capable of serving twelve guns.  To such a force, above all others, might, in similar circumstances, be applied the exhortation of our ancient Galgacus: "Proinde ituri in aciem, et majores vestros et posteros cogitate.""--pg. 147, Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott