“Soldiers die in bloody battle.”
The headline might read something like that, if a newspaper in St. John’s covered the Battle of Signal Hill 250 years ago.
“There’s no question this is probably the most important military action to take place on the island of Newfoundland,” says Robin Martin, visitor experience product development officer with Parks Canada.
He has researched the event extensively, and counts James Candow’s 2011 book, “The Lookout,” as an important source.
The battle took place Sept. 15, 1762, however, events leading to it started many years before.
The French and English had long been fighting on North American soil. They were also on opposite sides in the Seven Years War, a global conflict that broke out in 1756.
Peace talks stalled in 1762, and the French sent more than 800 soldiers to Newfoundland.
Their plan: to spend a month destroying British fishing infrastructure.
“Not to hold anything,” Martin explains, “but to discourage the British from staying here.”
Under a captain named de Ternay, the French landed in Bay Bulls, walked overland and captured St. John’s without firing a musket. The British commanding officer surrendered because he thought the enemy numbers were much higher.