Waging war on Signal Hill

Steve Bartlett
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British, French fought in St. John’s 250 years ago

Martin says the Battle of Signal Hill should have been a crushing defeat for the British because they sent two companies of light infantry to fight three companies of French grenadiers.

He says a number of things worked in the British favour that morning, including the dense black fog that prevented the French from seeing the true size of the enemy force as well as a serious injury to a highly-respected French officer.

The offensive was the last on North America soil of the Seven Years War, and it is the final battle to take place on Newfoundland soil.

The Treaty of Paris was signed the following year.

In it, France gave up its North American possessions, except the islands of St-Pierre—Miquelon, and fishing rights along Newfoundland’s north west coast.

Martin agrees with a suggestion in Candow’s book that historians have tended to overlook the Battle of Signal Hill in favour of larger offensives between the English and French at Louisburg, Montreal and Quebec City.

He says the French were more interested in holding onto the Newfoundland fishery, as well as the Caribbean sugar trade, than maintaining territories in North America.

Beside being a food source, he adds the fishery was also a training ground for the navy.

Martin expects there will be more study of the battle and its significance in the future.



Organizations: North American, British Navy, Royal Canadian Legion Signal Hill Tattoo Great Big Sea

Geographic location: Signal Hill, Newfoundland, Waging Torbay Fort William Colville Bay Bulls Halifax Petty Harbour Quidi Vidi Lake Narrows North America Paris France Islands of St-Pierre—Miquelon Louisburg Montreal Caribbean North America.Beside

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Recent comments

  • David Green
    July 18, 2012 - 11:56

    Interesting to read that the goal of the French military commanders was to destroy the fishing infrastructure. Were they alive today, I'm sure they would be happy to know the Harper government is continuing to do that for them.