A firsthand account of the bombardment of Basse-Terre

Journal & Plans from Lt. Colonel Cuninghame. Chief Engineer on the Expedition with Major General Hopson [manuscript title] [manuscript signed, a firsthand account of the invasion of Guadeloupe].

Guadeloupe: January 29, 1759.

Price: $2,500.00

About the item

6pp, plus wrapper with above manuscript title. Handwritten in black ink on versos of folio leaves, signed ("Will Cunninghame") and dated on the last page; browned at edges. Folio. A firsthand account of the bombardment of Basse-Terre. Unstitched, minor paper loss to blank rear wrapper. Published in Royal Engineers Journal, vol. 37, December 1923.

Item #352660

Lt. Colonel Cunninghame's journal outlines the early days of the invasion of Guadeloupe, a pivotal action in the Seven Years' War, in which the British would ultimately take control of the island from the French. Beginning on 13 January, Cunninghame describes the amassment of ships in Carlisle Bay and his own preparations for battle. He then describes the initial deployments on 16 January: "The Army disembarked about 2 or 3 miles nearer Port Royal without Apposition, and took the strongest Post near to Negro Point, which was the deadliest communication with the Fleet." After describing the fortifications and future plans, Cunninghame goes on to describe, in stark detail, the invasion of Basse-Terre on the morning of 22 January: "The 22nd the whole Fleet plied off the Bay of Basseterre, next morning the Ships went in and attacked the Fort & Batteries as expressed in the Plan, by Night these Batteries were silenced. The bombs were ordered in to play upon the Fort & did some Execution, they threw Carcasses into the Town which was set on fire burnt a great part of the Night in several Places and all next Day which consumed most Part of the Town." The document concludes with a description of several of the smaller skirmishes that followed and the fortification of the posts that the British took possession of, ending his account on 29 January. The invasion continued until the French surrendered on 2 May 1759, though Guadeloupe would eventually be ceded back to France as a result of the Paris Treaty.