Early Militaria Collections / Important Provincial Ranger Siege of Louisbourg Powder Horn Belonging to Abijah Smith
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In the summer of 1758 British General Jeffrey Amherst led an army of about 11,600 soldiers in an expedition to capture Fortress Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The fortress was the critical French installation protecting the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. His army was composed almost entirely of British regular soldiers with the exception of about 550 Provincial Rangers from New England. The Rangers were specially trained soldiers skilled in irregular fighting tactics, fought as light infantry troops, and led raiding parties and scouts into enemy territory. The 550 Provincial Rangers were organized into four companies led by James Rogers (brother of the famed Robert Rogers), John McCurdy, Jonathan Brewer, and William Stark (brother of John Stark). While Abijah Smith was undoubtedly a member of one of these companies, muster rolls for these units do not survive, but there are several Abijah Smiths recorded in the Massachusetts and New Hampshire Provincial muster rolls in the late 1750s.
The date July 26, 1758, recorded on the powder horn corresponds to the date that the French forces at Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island surrendered to the British forces. June 8 is the day that the British and provincial forces landed near Louisbourg and began the formal siege of the fortified city. Powder horns connected to the 1758 siege of Louisbourg are extremely rare and horns associated with Rangers from any campaigns are exceedingly scarce.