The episode that is the subject of this volume occurred during the War of the Spanish Succession.
At the time that Marlborough had completed his successful campaign in Europe, the Secretary of State for War, Henry St John, had for some time been under pressure to help the colonial forces in northern America and the trade on that coast. Port Royal (renamed Annapolis Royal) in Nova Scotia had already been easily taken in 1710 and it was decided to send an expedition to capture Quebec, and drive the French out of Canada.
Several factors combined to doom the project from the start; political considerations obtruded, including the choice, not an obvious one, of Admiral Sir Hovenden Walker to command it. Strenuous attempts were made, unsuccessfully, to keep it a great secret, which considerably hampered the administrative preparations. There were no reliable charts of the St Lawrence River, nor were reliable pilots easily obtainable as there had been very little traffic with Quebec by sea. Lastly, numerous delays meant that the final preparations were rushed to avoid being caught upriver in the severe Canadian winter. The upshot was that the expedition was an abject failure with seven transports and a storeship being driven ashore and lost in a gale.
The volume is based on Walker’s contemporary journal, published in 1720, which is quite detailed and makes no attempt to show events in a favourable light to himself.
The Journal of Admiral Sir Hovenden Walker
The Voyage and the Disaster
The Reaction of New England