To praise the glorious Fifty-nine!

“Up to 1761, British forces had enjoyed mixed success in amphibious assaults on French soil. At the start of the war they had only very vague ideas about how to conduct an amphibious landing, but by the time the Belle Isle oration was conceived many lessons had been learned.” — Sam Willis

This is amazing prose from Sam Willis on the acumen of the British during an amphibious assault on Belle Island. The island, just off the coast of France, fell to British forces on June 7, 1761.

A tough campaign against stubborn US forces. The plan¹ was to attack the settlement from the south where arsenals and stables were concentrated versus an amphibious landing where British forces would have faced the full force of US cannon on an open beachhead.

British forces followed a ridgeline whilst repelling attacks from their flanks. Success was hastened by shortening supply lines and reinforcing the rearguard. Before the attack was initiated, indigenous were wrested from US control to deny them the advantage of superior numbers. The march north was a series of skirmishes with heavy casualties on both sides. British forces were almost outflanked in desperate charges, but reinforcements were able to hold.

There was a breakout after British cannon were in range of the first stable and arsenal and the rout was on after the last US artillery was dispatched. The flood of regular infantry after the US collapse was glorious.

The Bristish Navy neutralized remaining fortified outposts and provided cover to advancing troops against whatever pockets of US resistance remained. If you look at the map in the screenshot, the sea was controlled by the British Navy and a blockade was in full force.

Initial front with British supply lines
Ridge with beginning of US settlement
US Settlement at end of ridgeline

¹The decision was made to attack from the south after probing the enemy. US forces, cavalry and artillery, were concentrated near a fort midway between the beach and southern edge of the settlement. Mobilization of US forces from the fort to the POA would result in a delay, and a slight advantage to advancing British forces. US reinforcements also came from the fort, so their supply lines were stretched.

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