Battle of Signal Hill

Last updated
Battle of Signal Hill
Part of the Seven Years' War
Vue de la descente a Terre Neuve par le chevalier de Ternay en 1762.jpg
Vue de la descente a Terre Neuve par le chevalier de Ternay en 1762, Unknown artist
DateSeptember 15, 1762
Location 47°34′11″N52°40′55″W / 47.56972°N 52.68194°W / 47.56972; -52.68194 (Signal Hill) Coordinates: 47°34′11″N52°40′55″W / 47.56972°N 52.68194°W / 47.56972; -52.68194 (Signal Hill)
Result British victory
Belligerents
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg  Great Britain Royal Standard of the King of France.svg  France
Commanders and leaders
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg William Amherst Royal Standard of the King of France.svg Guillaume Léonard
Strength
1,159 1,500
Casualties and losses
24 killed and wounded 40 killed and wounded
800 captured

The Battle of Signal Hill was fought on September 15, 1762, and was the last battle of the North American theatre of the Seven Years' War. A British force under Lieutenant Colonel William Amherst recaptured St. John's, [1] [ non-primary source needed ] which the French had seized earlier that year in a surprise attack.

Contents

Background

By 1762 France and Britain had been fighting for seven years, and both were now contemplating a peace agreement. Britain's long blockade of the French coast had forced the French economy into a decline – and had prevented the French navy from going to the aid of France's colonies around the globe – leading to a large number being captured. To rebuild the French navy in the years of peace, it was believed that they needed access to the Newfoundland fishery and so an expedition was planned to take the island in anticipation of the coming peace negotiations. This occurred in May 1762 when a small force under the Chevalier de Ternay slipped out of Brest and past the blockade and headed out into the Atlantic. [2]

French occupation

On June 27, 1762, the French forces under the Comte d'Haussonville forced the British capitulation of St. John's. During the following weeks, d'Haussonville, under the orders of the Chevalier de Ternay, was able to consolidate the French position in Newfoundland. His defence system consisted of several advance posts equipped with artillery around Signal Hill, a strategic point dominating the surrounding area.[ citation needed ]

On September 13, 1762, the British landed at Torbay, a few miles to the north. Ternay and Haussonville were unable to counter it, so to hamper the British advance, they dispatched a detachment to guard the bare summit of Signal Hill. [3] [ non-primary source needed ]

Regional importance

St.Johns, being the most easterly city in the Americas (excluding those of Greenland), was an important place to dock ships from Europe and prepare them for further inland journeys. After the French took this valuable land from the British, the latter responded with the same tactic, eventually winning. Apart from seaboard advantages, St.John’s was highly regarded for its abundance in natural resources. St.Johns has a huge fishing industry; by 1540 Spanish and Portuguese ships were traveling to this point solely to gather fish. The land is also abundant in fir and spruce trees, which were commonly used in ships and often as sources of food/medicine. [4] [ failed verification ]

Signal Hill on the other hand was used as a center for the defense of St.John’s throughout the 18th century. Being along the Atlantic coast – northeast of the Avalon Peninsula (southeast Newfoundland) – Signal Hill is positioned beside the inlet of the harbor of St.John’s. Sea being the only effective mode of transportation at the time of the battle, troops on Signal Hill could spot seaboard vehicles miles off. Additionally, Signal Hill must be passed to enter the settlement of St.John’s via sea, making it hard for foreign warships to cause destruction to the settlement. [5] [ improper synthesis? ]

Battle

On the 26th of August, British-Yankee warships dispatched by Amherst and under Capt. Campbell had reached the now British Halifax harbour, in hopes of recapturing St.John’s (Newfoundland). Returning to sea on the 1st of September (three days after the expected date, due to contrary winds), those particular men-of-war had reached Louisbourg on the 5th of September. After leaving on the 7th, fortunately, Campbell's fleet joined that of Lord Colvill's on the 11th, not far off the south coast of St.John’s. Nearing the 12th the fleets landed at Torbay, a few miles north of St.John's and took three prisoners. French commanders Count D'Haussonville and Bellecombe were unable to prevent the British landing at Torbay, so they sent a battalion to guard Signal Hill as an important protection summit due to natural defenses. At the break of September 15, 1762, British troops climbed the hill held by the French. The surprise was total, and the engagement was brief but fatal. The commander of the French detachment, Guillaume de Bellecombe, was seriously wounded. On the British side, a bullet shattered the legs of one of Amherst's officers, MacDonell. The British attacked about 295 French infantry, resulting with the remainder of the French (about 600) retreating to Fort William. [3] [ non-primary source needed ]

Aftermath

At the close of the battle, Signal Hill was in the hands of the British. Strengthened by this advantageous situation, the British had numerous artillery pieces delivered to their position from Torbay and began constructing batteries to bombard the fort. [1] Three days later they obtained the capitulation of the French garrison of St. John's, which consisted of just over 1,500 French regulars. [6] [ non-primary source needed ]

Related Research Articles

St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador Capital of Newfoundland and Labrador.

St. John's is the capital and largest city of the Canadian province, Newfoundland and Labrador, located on the eastern tip of the Avalon Peninsula on the island of Newfoundland. It is the oldest city in Canada. The city spans 446.04 square kilometres (172.22 sq mi) and is the easternmost city in North America.

Avalon Peninsula Peninsula on the island of Newfoundland

The Avalon Peninsula is a large peninsula that makes up the southeast portion of the island of Newfoundland. It is 9,220 square kilometres (3,560 sq mi) in size.

1760 in Canada

Events from the year 1760 in Canada.

Thomas Graves, 1st Baron Graves

Admiral Thomas Graves, 1st Baron Graves, KB was a British officer of the Royal Navy and a colonial official. He served in the Seven Years' War and the American War of Independence. He was also the Commodore-Governor of Newfoundland for a period of time.

HMS Antelope was a 50-gun fourth rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched at Rotherhithe on 13 March 1703. She was rebuilt once during her career, and served in the Seven Years' War and the American Revolutionary War.

Signal Hill, St. Johns Historic site in Canada

Signal Hill is a hill which overlooks the city of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Mostly a National Historic Site, adjacent to is the largely encaved museum of Johnson Geo Centre and its associated park. The highest point, Ladies' Lookout, above Cabot Tower, is 167 metres (548 ft) high. The community of The Battery lies on the slope of the hill overlooking the Harbour. On 12 December 1901, the first transatlantic wireless transmission was received by Guglielmo Marconi, to its abandoned fever hospital.

St. Johns International Airport International airport serving St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

St. John's International Airport is in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is located 3 nautical miles northwest of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador and serves the St. John's metropolitan area and the Avalon Peninsula. The airport is part of the National Airports System, and is operated by St. John's International Airport Authority Inc.

Torbay, Newfoundland and Labrador Town in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Torbay is a town located on the eastern side of the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

Pepperrell Air Force Base, previously known as Fort Pepperrell, is a decommissioned United States military base located in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada which operated from 1941 to 1960.

Carbonear Island

Carbonear Island or "Stoners Island" as one may call it is a small uninhabited island on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland, Canada. It is located at the mouth of Carbonear harbour. It became a strategic haven for the British settlers of Carbonear fending off the raids by the French and became known for a time as the "Gibraltar of Newfoundland".

Guillaume Léonard de Bellecombe was Governor General of Réunion, Haiti and Pondichéry. According to most accounts he was born in 1728 in France.

Bay Bulls, Newfoundland and Labrador Town in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Bay Bulls is a small fishing town in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

HMS Shrewsbury was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 23 February 1758 at Deptford Dockyard.

Fort Amherst, St. Johns Neighbourhood in St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Fort Amherst is a neighbourhood in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. It is located at 47°33′48.96″N52°40′49.60″W, on the southern side of the Narrows, the entrance to St. John's harbour. Apart from some family dwellings, Fort Amherst consists of a man-made harbour, a lighthouse and the remains of gun emplacements built during World War II to defend against German U-boats. Two QF 4.7-inch B Mark IV* guns remain in place, and can still be seen on their mountings.

William Amherst (British Army officer)

Lieutenant General William Amherst was a British military commander. In 1762 during the Seven Years' War he led British forces that defeated a French expedition which had occurred earlier that year in St. John's, Newfoundland at the Battle of Signal Hill.

Charles-Henri-Louis dArsac de Ternay

Charles-Henri-Louis d'Arsac, chevalier de Ternay was a French naval officer. Most active in the Seven Years' War and the War of American Independence, Ternay was the naval commander of a 1762 expedition that successfully captured St. John's Newfoundland. He was appointed commander of the Marine Royale, French naval forces, as part of the project code named Expédition Particulière that brought French troops to American soil in 1780. He died aboard ship off Newport, Rhode Island.

The timeline of St. John's history shows the significant events in the history of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Newfoundland expedition

The Newfoundland expedition was a series of fleet manoeuvres and amphibious landings in the coasts of Newfoundland, Labrador and Saint Pierre and Miquelon carried out by the combined French and Spanish fleets during the French Revolutionary Wars. This expedition, composed of seven ships of the line and three frigates under the orders of Rear-Admiral Richery sailed from Cadiz in August 1796 accompanied by a much stronger Spanish squadron, commanded by General Solano, which had the aim of escorting it to the coast of Newfoundland.

Fort Waldegrave, Newfoundland and Labrador

Fort Waldegrave was a battery or an emplacement for heavy guns in St. John’s Newfoundland, strategically overlooking the Narrows and St John’s Harbour.

Fort William, Newfoundland

Fort William was a fort in St. John's built in 1698 to protect English interests on Newfoundland, primarily against French opposition. It was the original headquarters of the British garrison in Newfoundland. A second fort, known as Fort George was situated at the east end of the harbour connected by a subterranean passage with Fort William. On the south side of the Narrows, there was a third fortification called the Castle. Garrison headquarters were later moved to Fort Townshend, which was built between 1775-1779.

References

Citations
  1. 1 2 "No. 10251". The London Gazette . 9 October 1762. p. 2.[ non-primary source needed ]
  2. Dull 2005 , p. 226
  3. 1 2 "No. 10251". The London Gazette . 9 October 1762. p. 1.[ non-primary source needed ]
  4. "Geography and Climate | City Of St. John's". www.stjohns.ca. Retrieved 2018-12-24.
  5. "Signal Hill | The Canadian Encyclopedia". www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. Retrieved 2018-12-24.
  6. Newfoundland Grand Banks. "Recount of William Amherst Journal". Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-28.[ non-primary source needed ]
Bibliography
Further reading