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Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History No. 18

The Construction and Occupation of the Barracks of the King's Bastion at Louisbourg

by Blaine Adams

English Occupation: 1745-49

Descriptions of the barracks by the English were factual.

The Cittadel... was a Very Large House. Being 23 Rods Long and about 45 Feet Wide all Built of Stone and Brick, it was Defended By it Self Against the City Having a trench between it and the Citty and the Bridge on which we went over (part of it) was Easily Highsted up... in the Middle was A Steeple where Hung an Excellent Bell, the Biggest (By far) that Ever I see. (altho' we Broke it.) at the East End it is three Stories and Several Larg Rooms Well finished, there is also a Chappel in it Larg Enough to hold Large Congregation. I Trust 1-000 Men may Live Comfortably in Said House.1

There is only limited information on the use made of the barracks by the English. These new inhabitants of Louisbourg soon found that the building was inadequate for the number of troops, and set about constructing a wooden barracks inside the adjoining Queen's Bastion.

A few changes were made in the existing barracks. The addition of pews to the chapel and a new altar turned it into a place of Protestant worship. Before the roof was repaired a participant recorded the following incident in the chapel:

I went into the Barracks or Cittydal and when we were in the Chappel there was a man aloft and the upper part Being verry much Broke by our Cannon Balls it gave way & [sic] a Cannon Ball with Boards Came Down and had Like To have Struck Clerk Patterson & my Self and the man hung by his arms By a Joyce.2

The barracks was the site of courts martial which were probably held in the council chamber, and the prison was used again. The conditions there were vividly described. "All prisoners sent there be subsisted with Bread and Water only and that each prisoner pay three pence at their going in, and three pence at their coming out, and one penny p'day for each day they may be confin'd."3 Prisoners were let out to witness lashings which were given in the yard (one man was given 800 over four days) and then returned to their confinement.

The barracks of the King's Bastion housed one regiment of troops, that regiment being chosen by the drawing of lots and changing roughly each year. This allowed each regiment to occupy the good lodgings and allowed for periodic cleaning of the barracks. From the summer of 1745 to June, 1746, the building was occupied by Warburton's regiment. Fuller's men (minus Hopson's company) seem to have remained in the barracks for the next two years until May 1748; the colony was returned to France in 1749.

Little is known of English life in the barracks, and work accounts provide only scattered details. Brooms, shovels and baskets and later tubs were provided for the removal of dirt. Ashes from the fireplaces were put aside for use in mortar. Complaints were made that the soldiers were firing their guns in the streets and from the barracks windows. Non-commissioned officers, soldiers and drummers were given a pair of sheets on the first of each month and required to pay three pence for them and return the old ones. Prohibitions were issued against chopping wood in the barracks rooms.4

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