When it learned that France was sending armed forces to America, the English government immediately ordered the Royal Navy to intercept any French ships with troops on board. Given that war had not yet been declared, this was a virulent response. On June 8, off the coast of Newfoundland, Admiral Edward Boscawen's squadron sighted three French ships separated from their own squadron by fog: these were the Alcide, the Lys and the Dauphin royal. With the English and French ships within hailing distance, the commander of the Alcide asked, "Are we at peace or at war?" "We can't hear," answered the HMS Dunkirk, the nearest of the English ships, before adding, "Peace, Peace!" 3 But after moving to within 100 metres of the Alcide, the Dunkirk opened fire Some 80 French sailors were cut down and the ship lost its rudder. The broadside was a complete surprise. The French gunners did what they could to respond to the English fire, but the battle was already lost. The Alcide and the Lys had to lower their flags. Only the Dauphin royal was able to escape and reach Louisbourg. Following this bloody incident, war was declared between France and England, even though hostilities would not be officially declared until a year later.
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