151 | Account of the Surrender of St. John’s, Newfoundland

    [c.29 August 1762]

    When the French came before St. Johns the Garrison consisted of 3 officers & 23 privates of the Train of Artillery & of 2 officers & 50 or 51 privates of the 40. Regiment Capt. Ross commanding the Garrison & regulars & Capt. Lt. Rogers commanding the Train.588 There were 36 guns in the fort & Battery adjoining (besides six in the South Battery,) of which 20 were 24 Pounders 8 18 pounders & 8 6 pounders (including 2 field pieces one of which had its carriage broke) 10 of which guns pointed towards the Ground, where the Enemy advanced; And there was ammunition sufficient. The Capt of the Gramont brought 100 Sailors & Marines.589 The People of the Country that came in to the defence of the fort were 370 according to the Armourers Account who delivered out so many Arms & Cartouch boxes. This was when the french were above a mile off the fort. The French that attackt the fort were about 500, according to the best account, when they marcht from the Bay of Bulls; & some were left by the Way: they had no Cannon with them or nearer than the Bay of Bulls. At first, preparations were made for defending the fort: When the french were within half a mile One Cannon 24 Pounder was fired at them —twice once with round shot & once with grape. The French advanced to gain the Shelter of a hill about 300 Yards off, & then they sent a flag of truce which was met by Capt. Rogers & blindfolded & conducted to the fort. Soon after the French Officer (a Major) was carried into the Room of Capt Ross, where a Council was held, the Capt of the Grammont came out of Capt Ross’s Room, to the platform of the Curtain opposite the french & wringing his hands Said “My Lads you are all sold: I have ruined my Character for ever by coming into this damned place”; & cryed very heartily. The French Officer returned blindfolded & came again in the same manner and returnd the second time with his Eyes open; upon which Some of the Men cried out it was all over. Soon after A Serjeant came out with orders for the Men to ground their arms & the French presently after Marcht in. When the French officer went out the Second time The Capt. of the Grammont Sent A Man out & gave him orders publickly, that when he hoisted a flag which lay before him they should Spike the Guns & scuttle the Ship & soon after he hoisted the flag, & the Ship soon after that drove on Shore.__590

    When the french first advanced Capt. Rogers had pointed one Cannon & sent 3 or 4 Messengers after Capt Ross to come & give orders. At lenght he came & Capt Rogers asked him if he should fire; twice or thrice he made no answer, at lenght he said “you may if you please”. The Men of the train were never Stationed nor received any other orders than as before. The Batteries were en barbet,591 but were sufficiently covered with Sand bags the day before the French approached, The inner row of pickets were not good, the outer row was Very good: but if there had been no pickets, the ramparts could not have been taken without cannon by that force. Some of the People of the Country came in from Portugal Cove the day before the french arrived to offer their Service but were answered by Capt Ross & Justice Gill592 that when they wanted thier Service they would send for them. this they declared publickly on the platform & went away disgusted.

    Ms, RC WO 34/26, ff 202-203.

    The cover letter is No. 150. This document provides a soldier’s view of the British surrender of St. John’s, as FB explains in the cover, and reveals Capt. Ross’s failure to stage a show of resistance. There is no record of Ross having been court-martialed, in General Courts Martial, Apr. 1762–May 1764, WO 71/25, PRO.