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By James Pritchard

This can be an account of 1 of the main bold and catastrophic French naval expeditions within the 18th century, leading to the deaths of as much as 8000 males. It exposes the pursuits 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 catch of Loisbourg in 1745, the so-called d'Enville excursion set out from France the subsequent 12 months to safe Canada, recapture Acadia and Louisbourg, and ravage the hot England coast as some distance south as Boston. some of the sixty four French vessels concerned didn't go back and estimates of the lifeless reached as excessive as 8000, but the enemy was once by no means met in conflict. James Pritchard's account of this naval fiasco sheds new gentle at the volume of the tragedy and increases questions about the position and effectiveness of naval energy in the course of the intercolonial wars of the mid-18th century. Pritchard describes the family and overseas political situations in France that gave upward thrust to the excursion, outlining method 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, ailment and the demise of the commanding admiral.

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

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The Anglo-French detente of the 17203 combined with financial constraints to undercut any rationale for building a large fleet and also affected decisions concerning the kinds of ships to be built. 36 In the opinion of Admiral Rene Duguay-Trouin, sea battles had cost France far too much and had decided nothing. He favoured 74- and 8o-gun ships as being just as useful in war against the English, who gained enormously from provoking fleet actions with a numerically inferior navy. 39 Shipbuilding resumed only slowly, and the largest vessels built before 1740 mounted 74 guns.

26 The first scholarly article to deal with the expedition was based on some solid research in both army and naval archives in Paris, but, not surprising, the author claimed, as did the inscription on the newly unveiled monument, that storms and 8 Anatomy of a Naval Disaster disease were the causes of failure, and he concluded on a note of Franco-Canadian goodwill. 27 Some of the material proved vital to the account of events. But despite new sources, the writer came to old conclusions, blaming failure on a lack of funds.

Yet the d'Enville expedition, so named after its late, unlamented commander, Jean-Baptiste-Louis-Frederic de la Rochefoucauld de Roye, due d'Enville, represented the first and largest French attempt to mount a combined operation overseas before the American War of Independence. It was also the largest French naval expedition mounted during the War of the Austrian Succession. Historians who have not ignored the expedition altogether - as did Alfred Thayer Mahan - have always treated it obliquely.

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