[FRENCH & INDIAN WAR -- SEVEN LOUISBOURG AND QUEBEC CAMPAIGNS]. SKELLY, Gordon, Captain, R.N. Autograph manuscript, entitled "A Journal of two Voyages to North America. In his Majesty's Ship ye Devonshire, From June 1757 to December 1759. Containing the Expedition against Louisbourgh under the Admirals Holburne and Boscowen; with the Reduction of some places of less note after the Surrender of Louisbourgh in the year 1758. The transactions during the winter at Hallifax in 1759--The arrival of Admiral Saunders with a Fleet against Quebec...to the Surrender of Quebec, and our return to England...." N.p., June 1757- December 1759. 157pp. 8vo, neatly written in ink in a clear italic hand in a notebook of laid paper, one page detached, original blind-paneled reversed calf, minor wear, otherwise in exceptionally fresh condition.
THE FALL OF LOUISBOURG, THE SEIGE OF QUEBEC AND THE DEATH OF WOLFE, A BRITISH OFFICER'S EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT
A newly discovered and evidently unpublished journal kept by a very literate young English officer, vividly describing several key campaigns of the French and Indian War including the death of General Wolfe at the victory at Quebec. Gordon sailed in June 1757 with "a squardron of five sail of the Line" under Commander Moor[e] on the 68-gun warship the Devonshire. His very vivid, readable and detailed journal is in two parts divided into chapters. The first describes the Devonshire's trans-Atlantic passage and rendezvous with the main British fleet at Halifax, on 9 September, joining the fleet supporting the siege of Louisbourg, and he carefully lists the vessels of the French and English fleets. But the severe damage inflicted by a dangerous storm (Sept.24-25) carries off his ship's masts and rigging and nearly drives it ashore on Nova Scotia, forcing them to return to England. Skelly's second voyage to America proved less dangerous and more eventful. Skelly betrays his ignorance of American geography, explaining that one Chapter runs "from our fitting out...to our arrival at New York in Pensylvania..." (p.39).
Their landfall at New York is described: "there is no finer harbour than that of New York...an extream fine place, and the country round it inferior to none, especially Long Island, a large and most pleasant spot of ground..." He offers a detailed description of their next port, Halifax (pp.62-68), including blockhouses "to prevent the Indians from falling upon the inhabitants." Chapter 4 is entirely devoted to the seige and capitulation (July 26 1758) of Louisbourg ("long of the greatest consequence to the French and no less a terror to our northernmost settlements"); Skelly lists the English vessels in the fleet (pp.74-75). After wintering at Halifax, the most prolonged and memorable campaign of the war, against Quebec, was launched in the Spring of 1759. Chapters 8 and 9 records the British fleet's passage up the St. Lawrence and skirmishes with French defensive fortifications, and Chapter 10 (pp.125-157) contain a very detailed eyewitness account of the first British landings (repulsed on 31 July), General Murray's abortive flank attack at Montmorency (August 7), and the successful final night landing at L'Anse de Foulon, below the Plains of Abraham (Sept.13). "By the time we had run our [long-]boats ashore at the foot of the eminence (which seemed inaccessible) and the troops began to draw up, the enemy were no longer in doubt and now began to fire irregularly from above into us..." The final battle on the Plains of Abraham is described: "the whole line of the enemy soon gave way, ours pushing on with their bayonets, till they took to their heels and were pursued with great slaughter to the walls of the Town...General Wolfe fell the moment he was victorious, just living to hear the defeat was completed." Skelly describes Wolfe's wounds "which we saw upon pulling his body into the boat."
Very few journals or first-hand accounts of the Louisbourg and Quebec campaigns appear on the market. Stephen Kemble's Ms. Orderly book of the Canada campaign, 1763-64, was sold here 9 June 1999, lot 187, $14,000.