... to keep the waters and coastal areas free of privateers.Government officials were also responsible for ensuring that the Saint Lawrence, its Gulf, and the settlements along its banks were protected from enemy ships.
Governors ensured that defence ships were posted at the main strategic points to keep the waters and coastal areas free of privateers.
Haldimand vs Hervey
During the War of American Independence, the Governor of the Province of Quebec, Frederick Haldimand, found himself in dire straits. During the autumn of 1779, only two lightly armed Navy schooners were available to defend the entire Saint Lawrence River and the Gulf from American privateers! Moreover, the Captain of HMS Viper, Augustus Hervey, the Royal Navy Commander for the Saint Lawrence, preferred to stay docked in Quebec City rather than patrol the Gulf, as Haldimand had requested. Both men did not like each other, as evident in the following excerpt from a letter from Hervey to Haldimand:
I am best judge of the necessary steps to be taken for that purpose. I beg leave to inform Your Excellency that dictating is in my opinion as improper & uncivil a method of writing to me as it is an uncommon one.
Bibliothèque de l'Université Laval, Haldimand 68, 12/09/1779
Laval University Library, Haldimand 68, 12/09/1779
When Hervey finally decided to set sail for the Gulf in November 1779, he encountered a fierce storm off Tourelle in the Gaspé region and HMS Viper sank!
Only one Navy ship remained to defend the colony...