1757 - British raid on Rochefort Account 01

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This text is a reproduction of a letter sent by Lieutenant-Colonel James Wolfe to his uncle on October 18 1757.


"18 October 1757

Nous avons manqué un beau coup, as the prisoners told us, after we had loitered away three or four days in consultations, deliberations, and councils of war. The season of the year and nature of the enterprise called for the quickest and most vigorous execution, whereas our proceedings were quite otherwise.

We were in sight of the Isle of Rhé the 20th September, consequently were seen by the enemy (as their signals left us no room to doubt), and it was the 23rd before we fired a gun. That afternoon and night slipped through our hands,- the lucky moment of confusion and consternation among our enemies. The 24th, - Admirals and Generals consult together, and resolve upon nothing between them but to hold a council of war. The 25th, - this famous council sat from morning till late at night, and the result of the debates was unanimously not to attack the place they were ordered to attack, and for reasons that no soldier will allow to be sufficient. The 26th, - the Admiral sends a message to the General, intimating that if they did not determine to do something there he would go to another place. The 27th, - the Generals and Admirals view the land with glasses, and agree upon a second council of war, having by this time discovered their mistake. The 28th, - they deliberate, and resolve to land that night. Orders are issued out accordingly, but the wind springing up after the troops had been two or three hours in the boats, the officers of the navy declare it difficult and dangerous to attempt the landing. The troops are commanded back to their transports, and so ended the expedition! The true state of the case is, that our sea-officers do not care to be engaged in any business of this sort, where little is to be had but blows and reputation; and the officers of the infantry are so profoundly ignorant, that an enterprise of any vigour astonishes them to that degree that they have not strength of mind nor confidence to carry it through.

I look upon this as the greatest design that the nation has engaged in for many years. The Court of Versailles and the whole French nation, were alarmed beyond measure. "Les Anglois ont attrapé notre foible," disent-ils. Alas! we have only discovered our own...."


Wright R., Wolfe, 1864, p. 392.