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In Times of War
When Philipps had set at rest the question of the
oath of allegiance, he returned to England, and Armstrong, less
pacific than his chief, again assumed the administration, and again
had some trouble with the priests. Two Acadian missionaries had been
expelled from the country for want of respect to the governor; and
Armstrong informed the inhabitants that in future he must be
consulted regarding the appointment of ecclesiastics, and that men
from Quebec would not be acceptable. Brouillan, the governor of Ile
Royale, had taken the ground that the Acadian priests, not being
subjects of Great Britain, were not amenable to the British
authorities. This view was held by the priests themselves. The
president of the Navy Board at Paris, however, rebuked Brouillan,
and informed him that the priests in Acadia should by word and
example teach the obedience due to His Britannic Majesty. This
pronouncement cleared the air; the disagreements with the
missionaries were soon adjusted; and one of them, St Poncy, after
being warned to cultivate the goodwill of the governor, was
permitted to resume his pastoral duties at Annapolis Royal.
On the death of Armstrong, on December 6, 1739, from wounds supposed
to have been inflicted by his own hand, John Adams was appointed
lieutenant-governor and president of the Council. In the following
spring, however, Adams was displaced by a vote of the Council in
favor of Major Paul Mascarene. 'The Secretary came to my House,'
wrote Adams to the Duke of Newcastle, 'and reported to me the
judgment of the Council in favour of Major Mascarene, from whose
judgment I appealed to His Majesty and said if you have done well by
the House of Jerubable [Jerubbaal] then rejoice ye in Abimelech and
let Abimelech rejoice in you.'1 After
this lucid appeal, Adams, who had deep religious convictions,
retired to Boston and bemoaned the unrighteousness of Annapolis.2
It was under Mascarene's administration that Nova Scotia passed
through the period of warfare which now supervened. For some time
relations between France and England had been growing strained in
the New World, owing chiefly to the fact that the Peace of Utrecht
had left unsettled the perilous question of boundary between the
rival powers. There was the greatest confusion as to the boundaries
of Nova Scotia or Acadia. The treaty had given Great Britain the
province of Acadia 'with its ancient boundaries.' The 'ancient
boundaries,' Great Britain claimed, included the whole mainland of
the present maritime provinces and the Gaspe peninsula; whereas
France contended that they embraced only the peninsula of Nova
Scotia. Both powers, therefore, claimed the country north of the
isthmus of Chignecto, and the definition of the boundary became a
more and more pressing question.
The outbreak of the war of the Austrian Succession in Europe in 1741
set the match to the fuse. By 1744 the French and English on the
Atlantic seaboard were up in arms. The governor of Ile Royale lost
no time in attacking Nova Scotia. He invaded the settlements at
Canso with about five hundred men; and presently a band of Indians,
apparently led by the Abbe Le Loutre, missionary to the Micmacs,
marched against Annapolis Royal. Towards these aggressions the
Acadians assumed an attitude of strict neutrality. On the approach
of Le Loutre's Micmacs they went to their homes, refusing to take
part in the affair. Then when the raiders withdrew, on the arrival
of reinforcements from Boston, the Acadians returned to their work
on the fort. During the same year, when Du Vivier with a
considerable French force appeared before Annapolis, the Acadians
aided him with provisions. But when the French troops desired to
winter at Chignecto, the Acadians objected and persuaded them to
leave, which 'made their conduct appear to have been on this
occasion far better than could have been expected from them.'3
Once more the Acadians resumed their work on the fortifications and
supplied the garrison with provisions. They frankly admitted giving
assistance to the French, but produced an order from the Sieur du
Vivier threatening them with punishment at the hands of the Indians
if they refused.
In May of the following year (1745) a party of Canadians and
Indians, under the raider Marin, invested Annapolis. Again the
Acadians refused to take up arms and again assisted the invaders
with supplies. By the end of the month, however, Marin and his
raiders had vanished and the garrison at Annapolis saw them no more.
They had been urgently summoned by the governor of Ile Royale to
come to his assistance, for Louisbourg was even then in dire peril.
An army of New Englanders under Pepperrell, supported by a squadron
of the British Navy under Warren, had in fact laid siege to the
fortress in the same month.4 But Marin's
raiders could render no effective service. On the forty-ninth day of
the siege Louisbourg surrendered to the English,5
and shortly afterwards the entire French population, civil and
military, among them many Acadians, were transported to France.
The fall of Louisbourg and the removal of the inhabitants alarmed
the French authorities, who now entertained fears for the safety of
Canada and determined to take steps for the recapture of the lost
stronghold, and with it the whole of Acadia, in the following year.
Accordingly, a formidable fleet, under the command of the Duc
d'Anville, sailed from La Rochelle in June 1746; while the governor
of Quebec sent a strong detachment of fighting Canadians under
Ramesay to assist in the intended siege. But disaster after disaster
overtook the fleet. A violent tempest scattered the ships in
mid-ocean and an epidemic carried off hundreds of seamen and
soldiers. In the autumn the commander, with a remnant of his ships,
arrived in Chebucto Bay (Halifax), where he himself died. The
battered ships finally put back to France, and nothing came of the
enterprise.6 Meanwhile, rumors having
reached Quebec of a projected invasion of Canada by New England
troops, the governor Beauharnois had recalled Ramesay's Canadians
for the defense of Quebec; but on hearing that the French ships had
arrived in Chebucto Bay, and expecting them to attack Annapolis,
Ramesay marched his forces into the heart of Acadia in order to be
on hand to support the fleet. Then, when the failure of the fleet
became apparent, he retired to Beaubassin at the head of Chignecto
Bay, and proceeded to fortify the neck of the peninsula, building a
fort at Baie Verte on the eastern shore. He was joined by a
considerable band of Malecite and Micmac under the Abbe Le Loutre;
and emissaries were sent out among the Acadians as far as Minas to
persuade them to take up arms on the side of the French.
William Shirley, the governor of Massachusetts, who exercised
supervision over the affairs of Nova Scotia, seeing in this a real
menace to British power in the colony, raised a thousand New
Englanders and dispatched them to Annapolis. Of these only four
hundred and seventy, under Colonel Arthur Noble of Massachusetts,
arrived at their destination. Most of the vessels carrying the
others were wrecked by storms; one was driven back by a French
warship. In December, however, Noble's New Englanders, with a few
soldiers from the Annapolis garrison, set out to rid Acadia of the
Canadians; and after much hardship and toil finally reached the
village of Grand Pre in the district of Minas. Here the soldiers
were quartered in the houses of the Acadians for the winter, for
Noble had decided to postpone the movement against Ramesay's
position on the isthmus until spring. It would be impossible, he
thought, to make the march through the snow.
But the warlike Canadians whom Ramesay had posted in the neck of
land between Chignecto Bay and Baie Verte did not think so. No
sooner had they learned of Noble's position at Grand Pre than they
resolved to surprise him by a forced march and an attack by night.
Friendly Acadians warned the British of the intended surprise; but
the over-confident Noble scouted the idea. The snow in many places
was 'twelve to sixteen feet deep,' and no party, even of Canadians,
thought Noble, could possibly make a hundred miles of forest in such
a winter. So it came to pass that one midnight, early in February,
Noble's men in Grand Pre found themselves surrounded. After a plucky
fight in which sixty English were killed, among them Colonel Noble,
and seventy more wounded, Captain Benjamin Goldthwaite, who had
assumed the command, surrendered. The enemies then, to all
appearances, became the best of friends. The victorious Canadians
sat down to eat and drink with the defeated New Englanders, who
made, says Beaujeu, one of the Canadian officers, 'many compliments
on our polite manners and our skill in making war.' The English
prisoners were allowed to return to Annapolis with the honors of
war, while their sick and wounded were cared for by the victors.
This generosity Mascarene afterwards gratefully acknowledged.
When the Canadians returned to Chignecto with the report of their
victory over the British, Ramesay issued a proclamation to the
inhabitants of Grand Pre setting forth that 'by virtue of conquest
they now owed allegiance to the King of France,' and warning them
'to hold no communication with the inhabitants of Port Royal.' This
proclamation, however, had little effect. With few exceptions the
Acadians maintained their former attitude and refused to bear arms,
even on behalf of France and in the presence of French troops.
'There were,' says Mascarene, 'in the last action some of those
inhabitants, but none of any account belonging to this province...
The generality of the inhabitants of this province possess still the
same fidelity they have done before, in which I endeavor to
Quite naturally, however, there was some unrest among the Acadians.
After the capture of Louisbourg in 1745 the British had transported
all the inhabitants of that place to France; and rumors were afloat
of an expedition for the conquest of Canada and that the Acadians
were to share a similar fate. This being made known to the British
ministry, the Duke of Newcastle wrote to Governor Shirley of
Massachusetts, instructing him to issue a proclamation assuring the
Acadians 'that there is not the least foundation for any
apprehension of that nature: but that on the contrary it is His
Majesty's resolution to protect and maintain all such of them as
shall continue in their duty and allegiance to His Majesty in the
quiet and peaceable possession of their habitations and settlements
and that they shall continue to enjoy the free exercise of their
Shirley proceeded to give effect to this order. He issued a
proclamation informing the inhabitants of the intention of the king
towards them; omitting, however, that clause relating to their
religion, a clause all-important to them. The document was printed
at Boston in French, and sent to Mascarene to be distributed.
Mascarene thought at the time that it produced a good effect.
Shirley's instructions were clear; but in explanation of his
omission he represented that such a promise might cause
inconvenience, as it was desirable to wean the Acadians from their
attachment to the French and the influence of the bishop of Quebec.
He contended, moreover, that the Treaty of Utrecht did not guarantee
the free exercise of religion. In view of this explanation,8
Shirley's action was approved by the king.
In Shirley's proclamation several persons were indicted for high
treason,9 and a reward of 50 pounds was
offered for the capture of any one offender named. These,
apparently, were the only pronounced rebels in the province. There
were more sputtering in Acadia of the relentless war that raged
between New France and New England. Shirley had sent another
detachment of troops in April to reoccupy Grand Pre; and the
governor of Quebec had sent another war-party. But in the next year
(1748) the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, by which Ile Royale (Cape
Breton) and Ile St Jean (Prince Edward Island) were restored to
France, brought hostilities to a pause.
1 Public Archives, Canada. Nova
Scotia A, vol. xxv, p. 9.
2 Writing from Boston to the Lords of Trade, Adams
said: 'I would have returned to Annapolis before now. But there was
no Chaplain in the Garrison to administer God's word and sacrament
to the people. But the Officers and Soldiers in Garrison have
Prophaned the Holy Sacrament of Baptism and Ministeriall Function,
by presuming to Baptize their own children. Why His Majesty's
Chaplain does not come to his Duty I know not, but am persuaded it
is a Disservice and Dishonor to our Religion and Nation; and as I
have heard, some have got their children Baptized by the Popish
Priest, for there has been no Chaplain here for above these four
years.'--Public Archives, Canada. Nova Scotia A, vol. xxv, p. 176.
3 Nova Scotia Documents, p. 147.
4 See The Great Fortress in this Series, chap. ii.
5 June 17, Old Style, June 28, New Style, 1745. The
English at this time still used the Old Style Julian calendar, while
the French used the Gregorian, New Style. Hence some of the
disagreement in respect to dates which we find in the various
accounts of this period.
6 See The Great Fortress, chap. iii.
7 Newcastle to Shirley, May 30, 1747.--Canadian
Archives Report, 1905, Appendix C, vol. ii, p. 47.
8 Bedford to Shirley, May 10, 1748.
9 Canadian Archives Report, 1906, Appendix C, vol.
ii, p. 48.]
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Chronicles of Canada, The
Acadian Exiles, A Chronicle of the Land of Evangeline, 1915
Chronicles of Canada