A Half-Century of Conflict, Volume II
Francis Parkman

Part 3 out of 4

letters and documents on the subject. The large volume entitled _Siege of
Louisbourg_, in the same repository, contains many more, including a
number of autograph diaries of soldiers and others. To these are to be
added the journals of General Wolcott, James Gibson, Benjamin Cleaves, Seth
Pomeroy, and several others, in print or manuscript, among which is
especially to be noted the journal appended to Shirley's Letter to the Duke
of Newcastle of Oct. 28, 1745, and bearing the names of Pepperrell,
Brigadier Waldo, Colonel Moore, and Lieutenant-Colonels Lothrop and
Gridley, who attest its accuracy. Many papers have also been drawn from the
Public Record Office of London.

Accounts of this affair have hitherto rested, with but slight exceptions,
on English sources alone. The archives of France have furnished useful
material to the foregoing narrative, notably the long report of the
Governor, Duchambon, to the Minister of War, and the letter of the
Intendant, Bigot, to the same personage, within about six weeks after the
surrender. But the most curious French evidence respecting the siege is the
_Lettre d'un Habitant de Louisbourg contenant une Relation exacte &
circonstanciée de la Prise de l'Isle-Royale par les Anglois. A Québec, chez
Guillaume le Sincère, à l'Image de la Vérité_, 1745. This little work,
of eighty-one printed pages, is extremely rare. I could study it only by
having a _literatim_ transcript made from the copy in the Bibliothèque
Nationale, as it was not in the British Museum. It bears the signature B.
L. N., and is dated _à ... ce 28 Août, 1745._ The imprint of Québec,
etc., is certainly a mask, the book having no doubt been printed in France.
It severely criticises Duchambon, and makes him mainly answerable for the

For French views of the siege of Louisbourg, _see_ Appendix B.]





The troops and inhabitants of Louisbourg were all embarked for France, and
the town was at last in full possession of the victors. The serious-minded
among them--and there were few who did not bear the stamp of hereditary
Puritanism--now saw a fresh proof that they were the peculiar care of an
approving Providence. While they were in camp the weather had been
favorable; but they were scarcely housed when a cold, persistent rain
poured down in floods that would have drenched their flimsy tents and
turned their huts of turf into mud-heaps, robbing the sick of every hope of
recovery. Even now they got little comfort from the shattered tenements of
Louisbourg. The siege had left the town in so filthy a condition that the
wells were infected and the water was poisoned.

The soldiers clamored for discharge, having enlisted to serve only till the
end of the expedition; and Shirley insisted that faith must be kept with
them, or no more would enlist. [Footnote: _Shirley to Newcastle, 27
Sept. 1745._] Pepperrell, much to the dissatisfaction of Warren, sent
home about seven hundred men, some of whom were on the sick list, while the
rest had families in distress and danger on the exposed frontier. At the
same time he begged hard for reinforcements, expecting a visit from the
French and a desperate attempt to recover Louisbourg. He and Warren
governed the place jointly, under martial law, and they both passed half
their time in holding courts-martial; for disorder reigned among the
disgusted militia, and no less among the crowd of hungry speculators, who
flocked like vultures to the conquered town to buy the cargoes of captured
ships, or seek for other prey. The Massachusetts soldiers, whose pay was
the smallest, and who had counted on being at their homes by the end of
July, were the most turbulent; but all alike were on the brink of mutiny.
Excited by their ringleaders, they one day marched in a body to the parade
and threw down their arms; but probably soon picked them up again, as in
most cases the guns were hunting-pieces belonging to those who carried
them. Pepperrell begged Shirley to come to Louisbourg and bring the
mutineers back to duty. Accordingly, on the 16th of August he arrived in a
ship-of-war, accompanied by Mrs. Shirley and Mrs. Warren, wife of the
Commodore. The soldiers duly fell into line to receive him. As it was not
his habit to hide his own merits, he tells the Duke of Newcastle that
nobody but he could have quieted the malcontents,--which is probably true,
as nobody else had power to raise their pay. He made them a speech,
promised them forty shillings in Massachusetts new-tenor currency a month,
instead of twenty-five, and ended with ordering for each man half a pint of
rum to drink the King's health. Though potations so generous might be
thought to promise effects not wholly sedative, the mutineers were brought
to reason, and some even consented to remain in garrison till the next
June. [Footnote: _Shirley to Newcastle, 4 Dec 1745._]

Small reinforcements came from New England to hold the place till the
arrival of troops from Gibraltar, promised by the ministry. The two
regiments raised in the colonies, and commanded by Shirley and Pepperrell,
were also intended to form a part of the garrison; but difficulty was found
in filling the ranks, because, says Shirley, some commissions have been
given to Englishmen, and men will not enlist here except under American

Nothing could be more dismal than the condition of Louisbourg, as reflected
in the diaries of soldiers and others who spent there the winter that
followed its capture. Among these diaries is that of the worthy Benjamin
Crafts, private in Hale's Essex regiment, who to the entry of each day adds
a pious invocation, sincere in its way, no doubt, though hackneyed, and
sometimes in strange company. Thus, after noting down Shirley's gift of
half a pint of rum to every man to drink the King's health, he adds
immediately: "The Lord Look upon us and enable us to trust in him & may he
prepare us for his holy Day." On "September ye 1, being Sabath," we find
the following record: "I am much out of order. This forenoon heard Mr.
Stephen Williams preach from ye 18 Luke 9 verse in the afternoon from ye 8
of Ecles: 8 verse: Blessed be the Lord that has given us to enjoy another
Sabath and opertunity to hear his Word Dispensed." On the next day, "being
Monday," he continues, "Last night I was taken very Bad: the Lord be
pleased to strengthen my inner man that I may put my whole Trust in him.
May we all be prepared for his holy will. Red part of plunder, 9 small
tooth combs." Crafts died in the spring, of the prevailing distemper, after
doing good service in the commissary department of his regiment.

Stephen Williams, the preacher whose sermons had comforted Crafts in his
trouble, was a son of Rev. John Williams, captured by the Indians at
Deerfield in 1704, and was now minister of Long Meadow, Massachusetts. He
had joined the anti-papal crusade as one of its chaplains, and passed for a
man of ability,--a point on which those who read his diary will probably
have doubts. The lot of the army chaplains was of the hardest. A pestilence
had fallen upon Louisbourg, and turned the fortress into a hospital. "After
we got into the town," says the sarcastic Dr. Douglas, whose pleasure it is
to put everything in its worst light, "a sordid indolence or sloth, for
want of discipline, induced putrid fevers and dysenteries, which at length
in August became contagious, and the people died like rotten sheep." From
fourteen to twenty-seven were buried every day in the cemetery behind the
town, outside the Maurepas Gate, by the old lime-kiln, on Rochefort Point;
and the forgotten bones of above five hundred New England men lie there to
this day under the coarse, neglected grass. The chaplain's diary is little
but a dismal record of sickness, death, sermons, funerals, and prayers with
the dying ten times a day. "Prayed at Hospital;--Prayed at
Citadel;--Preached at Grand Eatery;--Visited Capt. [illegible], very
sick;--One of Capt. ----'s company dyd--Am but poorly myself, but able to
keep about." Now and then there is a momentary change of note, as when he
writes: "July 29th. One of ye Captains of ye men of war caind a soldier who
struck ye capt. again. A great tumult. Swords were drawn; no life lost, but
great uneasiness is caused." Or when he sets down the "say" of some Briton,
apparently a naval officer, "that he had tho't ye New England men were
Cowards--but now he tho't yt if they had a pick axe & spade, they w'd dig
ye way to Hell & storm it." [Footnote: The autograph diary of Rev. Stephen
Williams is in my possession. The handwriting is detestable.]

Williams was sorely smitten with homesickness, but he sturdily kept his
post, in spite of grievous yearnings for family and flock. The pestilence
slowly abated, till at length the burying-parties that passed the Maurepas
Gate counted only three or four a day. At the end of January five hundred
and sixty-one men had died, eleven hundred were on the sick list, and about
one thousand fit for duty. [Footnote: On May 10th, 1746, Shirley writes to
Newcastle that eight hundred and ninety men had died during the winter. The
sufferings of the garrison from cold were extreme.] The promised regiments
from Gibraltar had not come. Could the French have struck then, Louisbourg
might have changed hands again. The Gibraltar regiments had arrived so
late upon that rude coast that they turned southward to the milder shores
of Virginia, spent the winter there, and did not appear at Louisbourg till
April. They brought with them a commission for Warren as governor of the
fortress. He made a speech of thanks to the New England garrison, now
reduced to less than nineteen hundred men, sick and well, and they sailed
at last for home, Louisbourg being now thought safe from any attempt of

To the zealous and energetic Shirley the capture of the fortress was but a
beginning of greater triumphs. Scarcely had the New England militia sailed
from Boston on their desperate venture, when he wrote to the Duke of
Newcastle that should the expedition succeed, all New England would be on
fire to attack Canada, and the other colonies would take part with them, if
ordered to do so by the ministry. [Footnote: _Shirley to Newcastle, 4
April, 1745._] And, some months later, after Louisbourg was taken, he
urged the policy of striking while the iron was hot, and invading Canada at
once. The colonists, he said, were ready, and it would be easier to raise
ten thousand men for such an attack than one thousand to lie idle in
garrison at Louisbourg or anywhere else. France and England, he thinks,
cannot live on the same continent. If we were rid of the French, he
continues, England would soon control America, which would make her first
among the nations; and he ventures what now seems the modest prediction
that in one or two centuries the British colonies would rival France in
population. Even now, he is sure that they would raise twenty thousand men
to capture Canada, if the King required it of them, and Warren would be an
acceptable commander for the naval part of the expedition; "but," concludes
the Governor, "I will take no step without orders from his Majesty."
[Footnote: _Shirley to Newcastle, 29 Oct. 1745._]

The Duke of Newcastle was now at the head of the Government. Smollett and
Horace Walpole have made his absurdities familiar, in anecdotes which, true
or not, do no injustice to his character; yet he had talents that were
great in their way, though their way was a mean one. They were talents, not
of the statesman, but of the political manager, and their object was to win
office and keep it.

Newcastle, whatever his motives, listened to the counsels of Shirley, and
directed him to consult with Warren as to the proposed attack on Canada.
At the same time he sent a circular letter to the governors of the
provinces from New England to North Carolina, directing them, should the
invasion be ordered, to call upon their assemblies for as many men as they
would grant. [Footnote: _Newcastle to the Provincial Governors, 14 March,
1746; Shirley to Newcastle, 31 May, 1746; Proclamation of Shirley, 2 June,
1746._] Shirley's views were cordially supported by Warren, and the
levies were made accordingly, though not in proportion to the strength of
the several colonies; for those south of New York felt little interest in
the plan. Shirley was told to "dispose Massachusetts to do its part;" but
neither he nor his province needed prompting. Taking his cue from the Roman
senator, he exclaimed to his Assembly, "_Delenda est Canada;_" and the
Assembly responded by voting to raise thirty-five hundred men, and offering
a bounty equivalent to £4 sterling to each volunteer, besides a blanket for
every one, and a bed for every two. New Hampshire contributed five hundred
men, Rhode Island three hundred, Connecticut one thousand, New York sixteen
hundred, New Jersey five hundred, Maryland three hundred, and Virginia one
hundred. The Pennsylvania Assembly, controlled by Quaker non-combatants,
would give no soldiers; but, by a popular movement, the province furnished
four hundred men, without the help of its representatives. [Footnote:
Hutchinson, II. 381, _note._ Compare _Memoirs of the Principal
Transactions of the Late War._]

As usual in the English attempts against Canada, the campaign was to be a
double one. The main body of troops, composed of British regulars and New
England militia, was to sail up the St. Lawrence and attack Quebec, while
the levies of New York and the provinces farther south, aided, it was
hoped, by the warriors of the Iroquois, were to advance on Montreal by way
of Lake Champlain.

Newcastle promised eight battalions of British troops under
Lieutenant-General Saint Clair. They were to meet the New England men at
Louisbourg, and all were then to sail together for Quebec, under the escort
of a squadron commanded by Warren. Shirley also was to go to Louisbourg,
and arrange the plan of the campaign with the General and the Admiral.
Thus, without loss of time, the captured fortress was to be made a base of
operations against its late owners.

Canada was wild with alarm at reports of English preparation. There were
about fifty English prisoners in barracks at Quebec, and every device was
tried to get information from them; but being chiefly rustics caught on the
frontiers by Indian war-parties, they had little news to give, and often
refused to give even this. One of them, who had been taken long before and
gained over by the French, [Footnote: "Un ancien prisonnier affidé que l'on
a mis dans nos interests."] was used as an agent to extract information
from his countrymen, and was called _"notre homme de confiance."_ At
the same time the prisoners were freely supplied with writing materials,
and their letters to their friends being then opened, it appeared that they
were all in expectation of speedy deliverance. [Footnote: _Extrait en
forme de Journal de ce quie s'est passé dans la Colonie depuis ...le 1
Déc. 1745, jusqu'au 9 Nov. 1746, signé Beauharnois et Hocquart._]

In July a report came from Acadia that from forty to fifty thousand men
were to attack Canada; and on the 1st of August a prisoner lately taken at
Saratoga declared that there were thirty-two warships at Boston ready to
sail against Quebec, and that thirteen thousand men were to march at once
from Albany against Montreal. "If all these stories are true," writes the
Canadian journalist, "all the English on this continent must be in arms."

Preparations for defence were pushed with feverish energy. Fireships were
made ready at Quebec, and fire-rafts at Isle-aux-Coudres; provisions were
gathered, and ammunition was distributed; reconnoitring parties were sent
to watch the Gulf and the River; and bands of Canadians and Indians lately
sent to Acadia were ordered to hasten back.

Thanks to the Duke of Newcastle, all these alarms were needless. The
Massachusetts levies were ready within six weeks, and Shirley, eager and
impatient, waited in vain for the squadron from England and the promised
eight battalions of regulars. They did not come; and in August he wrote to
Newcastle that it would now be impossible to reach Quebec before October,
which would be too late. [Footnote: _Shirley to Newcastle, 22 Aug.
1746._] The eight battalions had been sent to Portsmouth for
embarkation, ordered on board the transports, then ordered ashore again,
and finally sent on an abortive expedition against the coast of France.
There were those who thought that this had been their destination from the
first, and that the proposed attack on Canada was only a pretence to
deceive the enemy. It was not till the next spring that Newcastle tried to
explain the miscarriage to Shirley. He wrote that the troops had been
detained by head-winds till General Saint Clair and Admiral Lestock thought
it too late; to which he added that the demands of the European war made
the Canadian expedition impracticable, and that Shirley was to stand on the
defensive and attempt no further conquests. As for the provincial soldiers,
who this time were in the pay of the Crown, he says that they were "very
expensive," and orders the Governor to get rid of them "as cheap as
possible." [Footnote: _Newcastle to Shirley, 30 May 1747._]
Thus, not for the first time, the hopes of the colonies were brought to
nought by the failure of the British ministers to keep their promises.

When, in the autumn of 1746, Shirley said that for the present Canada was
to be let alone, he bethought him of a less decisive conquest, and proposed
to employ the provincial troops for an attack on Crown Point, which formed
a half-way station between Albany and Montreal, and was the constant
rendezvous of war-parties against New York, New Hampshire, and
Massachusetts, whose discords and jealousies had prevented them from
combining to attack it. The Dutch of Albany, too, had strong commercial
reasons for not coming to blows with the Canadians. Of late, however,
Massachusetts and New York had suffered so much from this inconvenient
neighbor that it was possible to unite them against it; and as Clinton,
governor of New York, was scarcely less earnest to get possession of Crown
Point than was Shirley himself, a plan of operations was soon settled. By
the middle of October fifteen hundred Massachusetts troops were on their
way to join the New York levies, and then advance upon the obnoxious post.
[Footnote: _Memoirs of the Principal Transactions of the Last War._]

Even this modest enterprise was destined to fail. Astounding tidings
reached New England, and startled her like a thunder-clap from dreams of
conquest. It was reported that a great French fleet and army were on their
way to retake Louisbourg, reconquer Acadia, burn Boston, and lay waste the
other seaboard towns. The Massachusetts troops marching for Crown Point
were recalled, and the country militia were mustered in arms. In a few days
the narrow, crooked streets of the Puritan capital were crowded with more
than eight thousand armed rustics from the farms and villages of Middlesex,
Essex, Norfolk, and Worcester, and Connecticut promised six thousand more
as soon as the hostile fleet should appear. The defences of Castle William
were enlarged and strengthened, and cannon were planted on the islands at
the mouth of the harbor; hulks were sunk in the channel, and a boom was
laid across it under the guns of the castle. [Footnote: _Shirley to
Newcastle, 29 Sept. 1746._ Shirley says that though the French
may bombard the town, he does not think they could make a landing, as he
shall have fifteen thousand good men within call to oppose them.] The alarm
was compared to that which filled England on the approach of the Spanish
Armada. [Footnote: Hutchinson, II. 382.]

Canada heard the news of the coming armament with an exultation that was
dashed with misgiving as weeks and months passed and the fleet did not
appear. At length in September a vessel put in to an Acadian harbor with
the report that she had met the ships in mid-ocean, and that they counted a
hundred and fifty sail. Some weeks later the Governor and Intendant of
Canada wrote that on the 14th of October they received a letter from
Chibucto with "the agreeable news" that the Duc d'Anville and his fleet had
arrived there about three weeks before. Had they known more, they would
have rejoiced less.

That her great American fortress should have been snatched from her by a
despised militia was more than France could bear; and in the midst of a
burdensome war she made a crowning effort to retrieve her honor and pay the
debt with usury. It was computed that nearly half the French navy was
gathered at Brest under command of the Duc d'Anville. By one account his
force consisted of eleven ships of the line, twenty frigates, and
thirty-four transports and fireships, or sixty-five in all. Another list
gives a total of sixty-six, of which ten were ships of the line, twenty-two
were frigates and fireships, and thirty-four were transports. [Footnote:
This list is in the journal of a captured French officer called by Shirley
M. Rebateau.] These last carried the regiment of Ponthieu, with other
veteran troops, to the number in all of three thousand one hundred and
fifty. The fleet was to be joined at Chibucto, now Halifax, by four heavy
ships-of-war lately sent to the West Indies under M. de Conflans.

From Brest D'Anville sailed for some reason to Rochelle, and here the ships
were kept so long by head-winds that it was the 20th of June before they
could put to sea. From the first the omens were sinister. The Admiral was
beset with questions as to the destination of the fleet, which was known to
him alone; and when, for the sake of peace, he told it to his officers,
their discontent redoubled. The Bay of Biscay was rough and boisterous, and
spars, sails, and bowsprits were carried away. After they had been a week
at sea, some of the ships, being dull sailers, lagged behind, and the rest
were forced to shorten sail and wait for them. In the longitude of the
Azores there was a dead calm, and the whole fleet lay idle for days. Then
came a squall, with lightning. Several ships were struck. On one of them
six men were killed, and on the seventy-gun ship "Mars" a box of musket and
cannon cartridges blew up, killed ten men, and wounded twenty-one. A
storeship which proved to be sinking was abandoned and burned. Then a
pestilence broke out, and in some of the ships there were more sick than in

On the 14th of September they neared the coast of Nova Scotia, and were in
dread of the dangerous shoals of Sable Island, the position of which they
did not exactly know. They groped their way in fogs till a fearful storm,
with thunder and lightning, fell upon them. The journalist of the voyage, a
captain in the regiment of Ponthieu, says, with the exaggeration common in
such cases, that the waves ran as high as the masts; and such was their
violence that a transport, dashing against the ship "Amazone," immediately
went down, with all on board. The crew of the "Prince d'Orange," half
blinded by wind and spray, saw the great ship "Caribou," without bowsprit
or main-topmast, driving towards them before the gale, and held their
breath in expectation of the shock as she swept close alongside and
vanished in the storm. [Footnote: _Journal historique du Voyage de la
Flotte commandée par M. le Duc d'Enville._ The writer was on board the
"Prince d'Orange," and describes what he saw (Archives du Séminaire de
Québec; printed in _Le Canada Français._)] The tempest raged all
night, and the fleet became so scattered that there was no more danger of
collision. In the morning the journalist could see but five sail; but as
the day advanced the rest began to reappear, and at three o'clock he
counted thirty-one from the deck of the "Prince d'Orange." The gale was
subsiding, but its effects were seen in hencoops, casks, and chests
floating on the surges and telling the fate of one or more of the fleet.
The "Argonaut" was rolling helpless, without masts or rudder; the "Caribou"
had thrown overboard all the starboard guns of her upper deck; and the
vice-admiral's ship, the "Trident," was in scarcely better condition.

On the 23d they were wrapped in thick fog and lay firing guns, ringing
bells, and beating drums to prevent collisions. When the weather cleared,
they looked in vain for the Admiral's ship, the "Northumberland."
[Footnote: The "Northumberland" was an English prize captured by Captains
Serier and Conflans in 1744.] She was not lost, however, but with two other
ships was far ahead of the fleet and near Chibucto, though in great
perplexity, having no pilot who knew the coast. She soon after had the good
fortune to capture a small English vessel with a man on board well
acquainted with Chibucto harbor. D'Anville offered him his liberty and a
hundred louis if he would pilot the ship in. To this he agreed; but when he
rejoined his fellow-prisoners they called him a traitor to his country, on
which he retracted his promise. D'Anville was sorely perplexed; but
Duperrier, captain of the "Northumberland," less considerate of the
prisoner's feelings, told him that unless he kept his word he should be
thrown into the sea, with a pair of cannon-balls made fast to his feet. At
this his scruples gave way, and before night the "Northumberland" was safe
in Chibucto Bay. D'Anville had hoped to find here the four ships of
Conflans which were to have met him from the West Indies at this, the
appointed rendezvous; but he saw only a solitary transport of his own
fleet. Hills covered with forests stood lonely and savage round what is now
the harbor of Halifax. Conflans and his four ships had arrived early in the
month, and finding nobody, though it was nearly three months since
D'Anville left Rochelle, he cruised among the fogs for a while, and then
sailed for France a few days before the Admiral's arrival.

D'Anville was ignorant of the fate of his fleet; but he knew that the two
ships which had reached Chibucto with him were full of sick men, that their
provisions were nearly spent, and that there was every reason to believe
such of the fleet as the storm might have spared to be in no better case.
An officer of the expedition describes D'Anville as a man "made to command
and worthy to be loved," and says that he had borne the disasters of the
voyage with the utmost fortitude and serenity. [Footnote: _Journal
historique du Voyage._] Yet suspense and distress wrought fatally upon
him, and at two o'clock in the morning of the 27th he died,--of apoplexy,
by the best accounts; though it was whispered among the crews that he had
ended his troubles by poison. [Footnote: _Declaration of H. Kannan and
D. Deas, 23 Oct. 1746. Deposition of Joseph Foster, 24 Oct. 1746, sworn to
before Jacob Wendell, J. P._ These were prisoners in the ships at

At six o'clock in the afternoon of the same day D'Estournel, the
vice-admiral, with such ships as remained with him, entered the harbor and
learned what had happened. He saw with dismay that he was doomed to bear
the burden of command over a ruined enterprise and a shattered fleet. The
long voyage had consumed the provisions, and in some of the ships the crews
were starving. The pestilence grew worse, and men were dying in numbers
every day. On the 28th, D'Anville was buried without ceremony on a small
island in the harbor. The officers met in council, and the papers of the
dead commander were examined. Among them was a letter from the King in
which he urged the recapture of Louisbourg as the first object of the
expedition; but this was thought impracticable, and the council resolved to
turn against Annapolis all the force that was left. It is said that
D'Estournel opposed the attempt, insisting that it was hopeless, and that
there was no alternative but to return to France. The debate was long and
hot, and the decision was against him. [Footnote: This is said by all the
writers except the author of the _Journal historique_, who merely
states that the council decided to attack Annapolis, and to detach some
soldiers to the aid of Quebec. This last vote was reconsidered.] The
council dissolved, and he was seen to enter his cabin in evident distress
and agitation. An unusual sound was presently heard, followed by groans.
His door was fastened by two bolts, put on the evening before by his order.
It was burst open, and the unfortunate commander was found lying in a pool
of blood, transfixed with his own sword. Enraged and mortified, he had
thrown himself upon it in a fit of desperation. The surgeon drew out the
blade, but it was only on the urgent persuasion of two Jesuits that the
dying man would permit the wound to be dressed. He then ordered all the
captains to the side of his berth, and said, "Gentlemen, I beg pardon of
God and the King for what I have done, and I protest to the King that my
only object was to prevent my enemies from saying that I had not executed
his orders;" and he named M. de la Jonquière to command in his place. In
fact, La Jonquière's rank entitled him to do so. He was afterwards well
known as governor of Canada, and was reputed a brave and able sea-officer.

La Jonquière remained at Chibucto till late in October. Messengers were
sent to the Acadian settlements to ask for provisions, of which there was
desperate need; and as payment was promised in good metal, and not in
paper, the Acadians brought in a considerable supply. The men were encamped
on shore, yet the pestilence continued its ravages. Two English prisoners
were told that between twenty-three and twenty-four hundred men had been
buried by sea or land since the fleet left France; and another declares
that eleven hundred and thirty-five burials took place while he was at
Chibucto. [Footnote: _Declaration of Kannan and Deas. Deposition of
Joseph Foster._] The survivors used the clothing of the dead as gifts to
the neighboring Indians, who in consequence were attacked with such
virulence by the disease that of the band at Cape Sable three fourths are
said to have perished. The English, meanwhile, learned something of the
condition of their enemies. Towards the end of September Captain Sylvanus
Cobb, in a sloop from Boston, boldly entered Chibucto Harbor, took note of
the ships lying there, and though pursued, ran out to sea and carried the
results of his observations to Louisbourg. [Footnote: _Report of Captain
Cobb,_ in _Shirley to Newcastle, 13 Oct. 1746._] A more thorough
reconnoissance was afterwards made by a vessel from Louisbourg bringing
French prisoners for exchange under a flag of truce; and it soon became
evident that the British colonies had now nothing to fear.

La Jonquière still clung to the hope of a successful stroke at Annapolis,
till in October an Acadian brought him the report that the garrison of that
place had received a reinforcement of twelve hundred men. The reinforcement
consisted in reality of three small companies of militia sent from Boston
by Shirley. La Jonquière called a secret council, and the result seems to
have been adverse to any further attempt. The journalist reports that only
a thousand men were left in fighting condition, and that even of these some
were dying every day.

La Jonquière, however, would not yet despair. The troops were re-embarked;
five hospital ships were devoted to the sick; the "Parfait," a fifty-gun
ship no longer serviceable, was burned, as were several smaller vessels,
and on the 4th of October what was left of the fleet sailed out of Chibucto
Harbor and steered for Annapolis, piloted by Acadians. The flag of truce
from Louisbourg was compelled for a time to bear them company, and Joseph
Foster of Beverly, an exchanged prisoner on board of her, deposed that as
the fleet held its way, he saw "a great number of dead persons" dropped
into the sea every day. Ill-luck still pursued the French. A storm off Cape
Sable dispersed the ships, two of which some days later made their way to
Annapolis Basin in expectation of finding some of their companions there.
They found instead the British fifty-gun ship "Chester" and the
Massachusetts frigate "Shirley" anchored before the fort, on which the two
Frenchmen retired as they had come; and so ended the last aggressive
movement on the part of the great armament.

The journalist reports that on the night of the 27th there was a council of
officers on board the "Northumberland," at which it was resolved that no
choice was left but to return to France with the ships that still kept
together. On the 4th of November there was another storm, and when it
subsided, the "Prince d'Orange" found herself with but nine companions, all
of which were transports. These had on board eleven companies of soldiers,
of whom their senior officer reports that only ninety-one were in health.
The pestilence made such ravages among the crews that four or five corpses
were thrown into the sea every day, and there was fear that the vessels
would be left helpless in mid-ocean for want of sailors to work them.
[Footnote: _Journal historique._] At last, on the 7th of December,
after narrowly escaping an English squadron, they reached Port Louis in
Brittany, where several ships of the fleet had arrived before them. Among
these was the frigate "La Palme." "Yesterday," says the journalist, "I
supped with M. Destrahoudal, who commands this frigate; and he told me
things which from anybody else would have been incredible. This is his
story, exactly as I had it from him." And he goes on to the following

After the storm of the 14th of September, provisions being almost spent, it
was thought that there was no hope for "La Palme" and her crew but in
giving up the enterprise and making all sail at once for home, since France
now had no port of refuge on the western continent nearer than Quebec.
Rations were reduced to three ounces of biscuit and three of salt meat a
day; and after a time half of this pittance was cut off. There was diligent
hunting for rats in the hold; and when this game failed, the crew, crazed
with famine, demanded of their captain that five English prisoners who were
on board should be butchered to appease the frenzy of their hunger. The
captain consulted his officers, and they were of opinion that if he did not
give his consent, the crew would work their will without it. The ship's
butcher was accordingly ordered to bind one of the prisoners, carry him to
the bottom of the hold, put him to death, and distribute his flesh to the
men in portions of three ounces each. The captain, walking the deck in
great agitation all night, found a pretext for deferring the deed till
morning, when a watchman sent aloft at daylight cried, "A sail!" The
providential stranger was a Portuguese ship; and as Portugal was neutral in
the war, she let the frigate approach to within hailing distance. The
Portuguese captain soon came alongside in a boat, "accompanied," in the
words of the narrator, "by five sheep." These were eagerly welcomed by the
starving crew as agreeable substitutes for the five Englishmen; and being
forthwith slaughtered, were parcelled out among the men, who would not wait
till the flesh was cooked, but devoured it raw. Provisions enough were
obtained from the Portuguese to keep the frigate's company alive till they
reached Port Louis. [Footnote: _Relation du Voyage de Retour de M.
Destrahoudal après la Tempête du 14 Septembre,_ in _Journal

There are no sufficient means of judging how far the disasters of
D'Anville's fleet were due to a neglect of sanitary precautions or to
deficient seamanship. Certain it is that there were many in self-righteous
New England who would have held it impious to doubt that God had summoned
the pestilence and the storm to fight the battles of his modern Israel.

Undaunted by disastrous failure, the French court equipped another fleet,
not equal to that of D'Anville, yet still formidable, and placed it under
La Jonquière, for the conquest of Acadia and Louisbourg. La Jonquière
sailed from Rochelle on the 10th of May, 1747, and on the 14th was met by
an English fleet stronger than his own and commanded by Admirals Anson and
Warren. A fight ensued, in which, after brave resistance, the French were
totally defeated. Six ships-of-war, including the flag-ship, were captured,
with a host of prisoners, among whom was La Jonquière himself. [Footnote:
_Relation du Combat rendu le 14 Mai _(new style)_, par l'Escadre du
Roy commandée par M. de la Jonquiere, _in_ Le Canada Français,
Supplément de Documents inédits, 33. Newcastle to Shirley, 30 May,





Since the capture of Louisbourg, France had held constantly in view, as an
object of prime importance, the recovery of her lost colony of Acadia.
This was one of the chief aims of D'Anville's expedition, and of that of La
Jonquière in the next year. And to make assurance still more sure, a large
body of Canadians, under M. de Ramesay, had been sent to Acadia to
co-operate with D'Anville's force; but the greater part of them had been
recalled to aid in defending Quebec against the expected attack of the
English. They returned when the news came that D'Anville was at Chibucto,
and Ramesay, with a part of his command, advanced upon Port Royal, or
Annapolis, in order to support the fleet in its promised attack on that
place. He encamped at a little distance from the English fort, till he
heard of the disasters that had ruined the fleet, [Footnote: _Journal de
Beaujeu_, in _Le Canada Francçais, Documents_, 53.] and then fell
back to Chignecto, on the neck of the Acadian peninsula, where he made his
quarters, with a force which, including Micmac, Malecite, and Penobscot
Indians, amounted, at one time, to about sixteen hundred men.

If France was bent on recovering Acadia, Shirley was no less resolved to
keep it, if he could. In his belief, it was the key of the British
American colonies, and again and again he urged the Duke of Newcastle to
protect it. But Newcastle seems scarcely to have known where Acadia was,
being ignorant of most things except the art of managing the House of
Commons, and careless of all things that could not help his party and
himself. Hence Shirley's hyperboles, though never without a basis of truth,
were lost upon him. Once, it is true, he sent three hundred men to
Annapolis; but one hundred and eighty of them died on the voyage, or lay
helpless in Boston hospitals, and the rest could better have been spared,
some being recruits from English jails, and others Irish Catholics, several
of whom deserted to the French, with information of the state of the

The defence of Acadia was left to Shirley and his Assembly, who in time of
need sent companies of militia and rangers to Annapolis, and thus on
several occasions saved it from returning to France. Shirley was the most
watchful and strenuous defender of British interests on the continent; and
in the present crisis British and colonial interests were one. He held that
if Acadia were lost, the peace and safety of all the other colonies would
be in peril; and in spite of the immense efforts made by the French court
to recover it, he felt that the chief danger of the province was not from
without, but from within. "If a thousand French troops should land in Nova
Scotia," he writes to Newcastle, "all the people would rise to join them,
besides all the Indians." [Footnote: _Shirley to Newcastle, 29 Oct.
1745._] So, too, thought the French officials in America. The Governor
and Intendant of Canada wrote to the colonial minister: "The inhabitants,
with few exceptions, wish to return under the French dominion, and will not
hesitate to take up arms as soon as they see themselves free to do so; that
is, as soon as we become masters of Port Royal, or they have powder and
other munitions of war, and are backed by troops for their protection
against the resentment of the English." [Footnote: _Beauharnois et
Hocquart au Ministre, 12 Sept. 1745._] Up to this time, however, though
they had aided Duvivier in his attack on Annapolis so far as was possible
without seeming to do so, they had not openly taken arms, and their refusal
to fight for the besiegers is one among several causes to which Mascarene
ascribes the success of his defence. While the greater part remained
attached to France, some leaned to the English, who bought their produce
and paid them in ready coin. Money was rare with the Acadians, who loved
it, and were so addicted to hoarding it that the French authorities were
led to speculate as to what might be the object of these careful savings.
[Footnote: _Beauharnois et Hocquart au Ministre_, 12 Sept. 1745.]

Though the Acadians loved France, they were not always ready to sacrifice
their interests to her. They would not supply Ramesay's force with
provisions in exchange for his promissory notes, but demanded hard cash.
[Footnote: _Ibid_.] This he had not to give, and was near being
compelled to abandon his position in consequence. At the same time, in
consideration of specie payment, the inhabitants brought in fuel for the
English garrison at Louisbourg, and worked at repairing the rotten
_chevaux de frise_ of Annapolis. [Footnote: _Admiral Knowles à ----
1746._ Mascarene in _Le Canada Français, Documents_, 82]

Mascarene, commandant at that place, being of French descent, was disposed
at first to sympathize with the Acadians and treat them with a lenity that
to the members of his council seemed neither fitting nor prudent. He wrote
to Shirley: "The French inhabitants are certainly in a very perilous
situation, those who pretend to be their friends and old masters having let
loose a parcel of banditti to plunder them; whilst, on the other hand, they
see themselves threatened with ruin if they fail in their allegiance to the
British Government." [Footnote: Mascarene, in _Le Canada Français,
Documents_, 81.]

This unhappy people were in fact between two fires. France claimed them on
one side, and England on the other, and each demanded their adhesion,
without regard to their feelings or their wrelfare. The banditti of whom
Mascarene speaks were the Micmac Indians, who were completely under the
control of their missionary, Le Loutre, and were used by him to terrify the
inhabitants into renouncing their English allegiance and actively
supporting the French cause. By the Treaty of Utrecht France had
transferred Acadia to Great Britain, and the inhabitants had afterwards
taken an oath of fidelity to King George. Thus they were British subjects;
but as their oath had been accompanied by a promise, or at least a clear
understanding, that they should not be required to take arms against
Frenchmen or Indians, they had become known as the "Neutral French." This
name tended to perplex them, and in their ignorance and simplicity they
hardly knew to which side they owed allegiance. Their illiteracy was
extreme. Few of them could sign their names, and a contemporary well
acquainted with them declares that he knew but a single Acadian who could
read and write. [Footnote: Moïse des Derniers, in _Le Canada
Français_, I. 118.] This was probably the notary, Le Blanc, whose
compositions are crude and illiterate. Ignorant of books and isolated in a
wild and remote corner of the world, the Acadians knew nothing of affairs,
and were totally incompetent to meet the crisis that was soon to come upon
them. In activity and enterprise they were far behind the Canadians, who
looked on them as inferiors. Their pleasures were those of the humblest and
simplest peasants; they were contented with their lot, and asked only to be
let alone. Their intercourse was unceremonious to such a point that they
never addressed each other, or, it is said, even strangers, as
_monsieur_. They had the social equality which can exist only in the
humblest conditions of society, and presented the phenomenon of a primitive
little democracy, hatched under the wing of an absolute monarchy. Each was
as good as his neighbor; they had no natural leaders, nor any to advise or
guide them, except the missionary priest, who in every case was expected by
his superiors to influence them in the interest of France, and who, in
fact, constantly did so. While one observer represents them as living in a
state of primeval innocence, another describes both men and women as
extremely foul of speech; from which he draws inferences unfavorable to
their domestic morals, [Footnote: _Journal de Franquet_, Part II.]
which, nevertheless, were commendable. As is usual with a well-fed and
unambitious peasantry, they were very prolific, and are said to have
doubled their number every sixteen years. In 1748 they counted in the
peninsula of Nova Scotia between twelve and thirteen thousand souls.
[Footnote: _Description de l'Acadie, avec le Nom des Paroisses et le
Nombre des Habitants_, 1748.] The English rule had been of the
lightest,--so light that it could scarcely be felt; and this was not
surprising, since the only instruments for enforcing it over a population
wholly French were some two hundred disorderly soldiers in the crumbling
little fort of Annapolis; and the province was left, perforce, to take care
of itself.

The appearance of D'Anville's fleet caused great excitement among the
Acadians, who thought that they were about to pass again under the Crown of
France. Fifty of them went on board the French ships at Chibucto to pilot
them to the attack of Annapolis, and to their dismay found that no attack
was to be made. When Ramesay, with his Canadians and Indians, took post at
Chignecto and built a fort at Baye Verte, on the neck of the peninsula of
Nova Scotia, the English power in that part of the colony seemed at an end.
The inhabitants cut off all communication with Annapolis, and detained the
officers whom Mascarene sent for intelligence.

From the first outbreak of the war it was evident that the French built
their hopes of recovering Acadia largely on a rising of the Acadians
against the English rule, and that they spared no efforts to excite such a
rising. Early in 1745 a violent and cruel precaution against this danger
was suggested. William Shirreff, provincial secretary, gave it as his
opinion that the Acadians ought to be removed, being a standing menace to
the colony. [Footnote: _Shirreff to K. Gould, agent of Phillips's
Regiment, March, 1745._] This is the first proposal of such a nature
that I find. Some months later, Shirley writes that, on a false report of
the capture of Annapolis by the French, the Acadians sang _Te Deum,_
and that every sign indicates that there will be an attempt in the spring
to capture Annapolis, with their help. [Footnote: _Shirley to Newcastle,
14 Dec. 1745._] Again, Shirley informs Newcastle that the French will
get possession of Acadia unless the most dangerous of the inhabitants are
removed, and English settlers put in their place. [Footnote: _Ibid., 10
May, 1746._] He adds that there are not two hundred and twenty soldiers
at Annapolis to defend the province against the whole body of Acadians and
Indians, and he tells the minister that unless the expedition against
Canada should end in the conquest of that country, the removal of some of
the Acadians will be a necessity. He means those of Chignecto, who were
kept in a threatening attitude by the presence of Ramesay and his
Canadians, and who, as he thinks, had forfeited their lands by treasonable
conduct. Shirley believes that families from New England might be induced
to take their place, and that these, if settled under suitable regulations,
would form a military frontier to the province of Nova Scotia "strong
enough to keep the Canadians out," and hold the Acadians to their
allegiance. [Footnote: _Ibid., 8 July, 1747._] The Duke of Bedford
thinks the plan a good one, but objects to the expense. [Footnote:
_Bedford to Newcastle, 11 Sept. 1747._] Commodore Knowles, then
governor of Louisbourg, who, being threatened with consumption and
convinced that the climate was killing him, vented his feelings in
strictures against everything and everybody, was of opinion that the
Acadians, having broken their neutrality, ought to be expelled at once, and
expresses the amiable hope that should his Majesty adopt this plan, he will
charge him with executing it. [Footnote: _Knowles to Newcastle, 8 Nov.

Shirley's energetic nature inclined him to trenchant measures, and he had
nothing of modern humanitarianism; but he was not inhuman, and he shrank
from the cruelty of forcing whole communities into exile. While Knowles and
others called for wholesale expatriation, he still held that it was
possible to turn the greater part of the Acadians into safe subjects of the
British Crown; [Footnote: Shirley says that the indiscriminate removal of
the Acadians would be "unjust" and "too rigorous". Knowles had proposed to
put Catholic Jacobites from the Scotch Highlands into their place. Shirley
thinks this inexpedient, but believes that Protestants from Germany and
Ulster might safely be trusted. The best plan of all, in his opinion, is
that of "treating the Acadians as subjects, confining their punishment to
the most guilty and dangerous among 'em, and keeping the rest in the
country and endeavoring to make them useful members of society under his
Majesty's Government." _Shirley to Newcastle, 21 Nov. 1746._ If the
Newcastle Government had vigorously carried his recommendations into
effect, the removal of the Acadians in 1755 would not have taken place.]
and to this end he advised the planting of a fortified town where Halifax
now stands, and securing by forts and garrisons the neck of the Acadian
peninsula, where the population was most numerous and most disaffected. The
garrisons, he thought, would not only impose respect, but would furnish the
Acadians with what they wanted most,--ready markets for their produce,--and
thus bind them to the British by strong ties of interest. Newcastle thought
the plan good, but wrote that its execution must be deferred to a future
day. Three years later it was partly carried into effect by the foundation
of Halifax; but at that time the disaffection of the Acadians had so
increased, and the hope of regaining the province for France had risen so
high, that this partial and tardy assertion of British authority only
spurred the French agents to redoubled efforts to draw the inhabitants from
the allegiance they had sworn to the Crown of England.

Shirley had also other plans in view for turning the Acadians into good
British subjects. He proposed, as a measure of prime necessity, to exclude
French priests from the province. The free exercise of their religion had
been insured to the inhabitants by the Treaty of Utrecht, and on this point
the English authorities had given no just cause of complaint. A priest had
occasionally been warned, suspended, or removed; but without a single
exception, so far as appears, this was in consequence of conduct which
tended to excite disaffection, and which would have incurred equal or
greater penalties in the case of a layman. [Footnote: There was afterwards
sharp correspondence between Shirley and the Governor of Canada touching
the Acadian priests. Thus, Shirley writes: "I can't avoid now, Sir,
expressing great surprise at the other parts of your letter, whereby you
take upon you to call Mr. Mascarene to account for expelling the missionary
from Minas for being guilty of such treasonable practices within His
Majesty's government as merited a much severer Punishment." _Shirley à
Galissonière, 9 Mai 1749._ Shirley writes to Newcastle that the Acadians
"are greatly under the influence of their priests, who continually receive
their directions from the Bishop of Qeubec, and are the instruments by
which the Governor of Canada makes all his attempts for the reduction of
the province to the French Crown." _Shirley to Newcastle, 20 Oct.
1747._ He proceeds to give facts in proof of his assertion. Compare
_Moncalm and Wolfe_, I. 106, 107, 266, _note_.] The sentence was
directed, not against the priest, but against the political agitator.
Shirley's plan of excluding French priests from the province would not have
violated the provisions of the treaty, provided that the inhabitants were
supplied with other priests, not French subjects, and therefore not
politically dangerous; but though such a measure was several times proposed
by the provincial authorities, the exasperating apathy of the Newcastle
Government gave no hope that it could be accomplished.

The influences most dangerous to British rule did not proceed from love of
France or sympathy of race, but from the power of religion over a simple
and ignorant people, trained in profound love and awe of their Church and
its ministers, who were used by the representatives of Louis XV. as agents
to alienate the Acadians from England.

The most strenuous of these clerical agitators was Abbé Le Loutre,
missionary to the Micmacs, and after 1753 vicar-general of Acadia. He was a
fiery and enterprising zealot, inclined by temperament to methods of
violence, detesting the English, and restrained neither by pity nor scruple
from using threats of damnation and the Micmac tomahawk to frighten the
Acadians into doing his bidding. The worst charge against him, that of
exciting the Indians of his mission to murder Captain Howe, an English
officer, has not been proved; but it would not have been brought against
him by his own countrymen if his character and past conduct had gained him
their esteem.

The other Acadian priests were far from sharing Le Loutre's violence; but
their influence was always directed to alienating the inhabitants from
their allegiance to King George. Hence Shirley regarded the conversion of
the Acadians to Protestantism as a political measure of the first
importance, and proposed the establishment of schools in the province to
that end. Thus far his recommendations are perfectly legitimate; but when
he adds that rewards ought to be given to Acadians who renounce their
faith, few will venture to defend him.

Newcastle would trouble himself with none of his schemes, and Acadia was
left to drift with the tide, as before. "I shall finish my troubleing your
Grace upon the affairs of Nova Scotia with this letter," writes the
persevering Shirley. And he proceeds to ask, "as a proper Scheme for better
securing the Subjection of the French inhabitants and Indians there," that
the Governor and Council at Annapolis have special authority and direction
from the King to arrest and examine such Acadians as shall be "most
obnoxious and dangerous to his Majesty's Government;" and if found guilty
of treasonable correspondence with the enemy, to dispose of them and their
estates in such manner as his Majesty shall order, at the same time
promising indemnity to the rest for past offences, upon their taking or
renewing the oath of allegiance. [Footnote: _Shirley to Newcastle, 15
Aug. 1746._]

To this it does not appear that Newcastle made any answer except to direct
Shirley, eight or nine months later, to tell the Acadians that so long as
they were peaceable subjects, they should be protected in property and
religion. [Footnote: _Newcastle to Shirley, 30 May, 1747._ Shirley had
some time before directed Mascarene to tell the Acadians that while they
behave peaceably and do not correspond with the enemy, their property will
be safe, but that such as turn traitors will be treated accordingly.
_Shirley to Mascarene, 16 Sept. 1746._] Thus left to struggle unaided
with a most difficult problem, entirely outside of his functions as
governor of Massachusetts, Shirley did what he could. The most pressing
danger, as he thought, rose from the presence of Ramesay and and his
Canadians at Chignecto; for that officer spared no pains to induce the
Acadians to join him in another attempt against Annapolis, telling them
that if they did not drive out the English, the English would drive them
out. He was now at Mines, trying to raise the inhabitants in arms for
France. Shirley thought it necessary to counteract him, and force him and
his Canadians back to the isthmus whence they had come; but as the ministry
would give no soldiers, he was compelled to draw them from New England. The
defence of Acadia was the business of the Home Government, and not of the
colonies; but as they were deeply interested in the preservation of the
endangered province, Massachusetts gave five hundred men in response to
Shirley's call, and Rhode Island and New Hampshire added, between them, as
many more. Less than half of these levies reached Acadia. It was the
stormy season. The Rhode Island vessels were wrecked near Martha's
Vineyard. A New Hampshire transport sloop was intercepted by a French armed
vessel, and ran back to Portsmouth. Four hundred and seventy men from
Massachusetts, under Colonel Arthur Noble, were all who reached Annapolis,
whence they sailed for Mines, accompanied by a few soldiers of the
garrison. Storms, drifting ice, and the furious tides of the Bay of Fundy
made their progress so difficult and uncertain that Noble resolved to
finish the journey by land; and on the 4th of December he disembarked near
the place now called French Cross, at the foot of the North Mountain,--a
lofty barrier of rock and forest extending along the southern shore of the
Bay of Fundy. Without a path and without guides, the party climbed the
snow-encumbered heights and toiled towards their destination, each man
carrying provisions for fourteen days in his haversack. After sleeping
eight nights without shelter among the snowdrifts, they reached the Acadian
village of Grand Pré, the chief settlement of the district of Mines.
Ramesay and his Canadians were gone. On learning the approach of an English
force, he had tried to persuade the Acadians that they were to be driven
from their homes, and that their only hope was in joining with him to meet
force by force; but they trusted Shirley's recent assurance of protection,
and replied that they would not break their oath of fidelity to King
George. On this, Ramesay retreated to his old station at Chignecto, and
Noble and his men occupied Grand Pré without opposition.

The village consisted of small, low wooden houses, scattered at intervals
for the distance of a mile and a half, and therefore ill fitted for
defence. The English had the frame of a blockhouse, or, as some say, of
two blockhouses, ready to be set up on their arrival; but as the ground was
hard frozen it was difficult to make a foundation, and the frames were
therefore stored in outbuildings of the village, with the intention of
raising them in the spring. The vessels which had brought them, together
with stores, ammunition, five small cannon, and a good supply of
snow-shoes, had just arrived at the landing-place,--and here, with
incredible fatuity, were allowed to remain, with most of their
indispensable contents still on board. The men, meanwhile, were quartered
in the Acadian houses.

Noble's position was critical, but he was assured that he could not be
reached from Chignecto in such a bitter season; and this he was too ready
to believe, though he himself had just made a march, which, if not so long,
was quite as arduous. Yet he did not neglect every precaution, but kept
out scouting-parties to range the surrounding country, while the rest of
his men took their ease in the Acadian houses, living on the provisions of
the villagers, for which payment was afterwards made. Some of the
inhabitants, who had openly favored Ramesay and his followers, fled to the
woods, in fear of the consequences; but the greater part remained quietly
in the village.

At the head of the Bay of Fundy its waters form a fork, consisting of
Chignecto Bay on the one hand, and Mines Basin on the other. At the head of
Chignecto Bay was the Acadian settlement of Chignecto, or Beaubassin, in
the houses of which Ramesay had quartered his Canadians. Here the neck of
the Acadian peninsula is at its narrowest, the distance across to Baye
Verte, where Ramesay had built a fort, being little more than twelve miles.
Thus he controlled the isthmus,--from which, however, Noble hoped to
dislodge him in the spring.

In the afternoon of the 8th of January an Acadian who had been sent to
Mines by the missionary Germain, came to Beaubassin with the news that two
hundred and twenty English were at Grand Pré, and that more were expected.
[Footnote: Beaujeu, _Journal de la Campagne du Détachement de Canada à
l'Acadie_, in _Le Canada Français_, II. _Documents_, 16.] Ramesay
instantly formed a plan of extraordinary hardihood, and resolved, by a
rapid march and a night attack, to surprise the new-comers. His party was
greatly reduced by disease, and to recruit it he wrote to La Corne,
Récollet missionary at Miramichi, to join him with his Indians; writing at
the same time to Maillard, former colleague of Le Loutre at the mission of
Shubenacadie, and to Girard, priest of Cobequid, to muster Indians, collect
provisions, and gather information concerning the English. Meanwhile his
Canadians busied themselves with making snow-shoes and dog-sledges for the

Ramesay could not command the expedition in person, as an accident to one
of his knees had disabled him from marching. This was less to be regretted,
in view of the quality of his officers, for he had with him the flower of
the warlike Canadian _noblesse_,--Coulon de Villiers, who, seven
years later, defeated Washington at Fort Necessity; Beaujeu, the future
hero of the Monongahela, in appearance a carpet knight, in reality a bold
and determined warrior; the Chevalier de la Corne, a model of bodily and
mental hardihood; Saint-Pierre, Lanaudière, Saint-Ours, Desligneris,
Courtemanche, Repentigny, Boishébert, Gaspé, Colombière, Marin,
Lusignan,--all adepts in the warfare of surprise and sudden onslaught in
which the Canadians excelled.

Coulon de Villiers commanded in Ramesay's place; and on the 21st of January
he and the other officers led their men across the isthmus from Beaubassin
to Baye Verte, where they all encamped in the woods, and where they were
joined by a party of Indians and some Acadians from Beaubassin and Isle St.
Jean. [Footnote: _Mascarene to Shirley, 8 Feb. 1746_ (1747, new
style).] Provisions, ammunition, and other requisites were distributed, and
at noon of the 23d they broke up their camp, marched three leagues, and
bivouacked towards evening. On the next morning they marched again at
daybreak. There was sharp cold, with a storm of snow,--not the large,
moist, lazy flakes that fall peacefully and harmlessly, but those small
crystalline particles that drive spitefully before the wind, and prick the
cheek like needles. It was the kind of snowstorm called in Canada _la
poudrerie_. They had hoped to make a long day's march; but feet and
faces were freezing, and they were forced to stop, at noon, under such
shelter as the thick woods of pine, spruce, and fir could supply. In the
morning they marched again, following the border of the sea, their
dog-teams dragging provisions and baggage over the broken ice of creeks and
inlets, which they sometimes avoided by hewing paths through the forest.
After a day of extreme fatigue they stopped at the small bay where the town
of Wallace now stands. Beaujeu says: "While we were digging out the snow to
make our huts, there came two Acadians with letters from MM. Maillard and
Girard." The two priests sent a mixture of good and evil news. On one hand
the English were more numerous than had been reported; on the other, they
had not set up the blockhouses they had brought with them. Some Acadians
of the neighboring settlement joined the party at this camp, as also did a
few Indians.

On the next morning, January 27th, the adventurers stopped at the village
of Tatmagouche, where they were again joined by a number of Acadians. After
mending their broken sledges they resumed their march, and at five in the
afternoon reached a place called Bacouel, at the beginning of the portage
that led some twenty-five miles across the country to Cobequid, now Truro,
at the head of Mines Basin. Here they were met by Girard, priest of
Cobequid, from whom Coulon exacted a promise to meet him again at that
village in two days. Girard gave the promise unwillingly, fearing, says
Beaujeu, to embroil himself with the English authorities. He reported that
the force at Grand Pré counted at least four hundred and fifty, or, as some
said, more than five hundred. This startling news ran through the camp; but
the men were not daunted. "The more there are," they said, "the more we
shall kill."

The party spent the 28th in mending their damaged sledges, and in the
afternoon they were joined by more Acadians and Indians. Thus reinforced,
they marched again, and towards evening reached a village on the outskirts
of Cobequid. Here the missionary Maillard joined them,--to the great
satisfaction of Coulon, who relied on him and his brother priest Girard to
procure supplies of provisions. Maillard promised to go himself to Grand
Pré with the Indians of his mission.

The party rested for a day, and set out again on the 1st of February,
stopped at Maillard's house in Cobequid for the provisions he had collected
for them, and then pushed on towards the river Shubenacadie, which runs
from the south into Cobequid Bay, the head of Mines Basin. When they
reached the river they found it impassable from floating ice, which forced
them to seek a passage at some distance above. Coulon was resolved,
however, that at any risk a detachment should cross at once, to stop the
roads to Grand Pré, and prevent the English from being warned of his
approach; for though the Acadians inclined to the French, and were eager to
serve them when the risk was not too great, there were some of them who,
from interest or fear, were ready to make favor with the English by
carrying them intelligence. Boishébert, with ten Canadians, put out from
shore in a canoe, and were near perishing among the drifting ice; but they
gained the farther shore at last, and guarded every path to Grand Pré. The
main body filed on snowshoes up the east bank of the Shubenacadie, where
the forests were choked with snow and encumbered with fallen trees, over
which the sledges were to be dragged, to their great detriment. On this
day, the 3d, they made five leagues; on the next only two, which brought
them within half a league of Le Loutre's Micmac mission. Not far from this
place the river was easily passable on the ice, and they continued their
march westward across the country to the river Kennetcook by ways so
difficult that their Indian guide lost the path, and for a time led them
astray. On the 7th, Boishébert and his party rejoined them, and brought a
reinforcement of sixteen Indians, whom the Acadians had furnished with
arms. Provisions were failing, till on the 8th, as they approached the
village of Pisiquid, now Windsor, the Acadians, with great zeal, brought
them a supply. They told them, too, that the English at Grand Pré were
perfectly secure, suspecting no danger.

On the 9th, in spite of a cold, dry storm of snow, they reached the west
branch of the river Avon. It was but seven French leagues to Grand Pré,
which they hoped to reach before night; but fatigue compelled them to rest
till the 10th. At noon of that day, the storm still continuing, they
marched again, though they could hardly see their way for the driving snow.
They soon came to a small stream, along the frozen surface of which they
drew up in order, and, by command of Coulon, Beaujen divided them all into
ten parties, for simultaneous attacks on as many houses occupied by the
English. Then, marching slowly, lest they should arrive too soon, they
reached the river Gaspereau, which enters Mines Basin at Grand Pré. They
were now but half a league from their destination. Here they stopped an
hour in the storm, shivering and half frozen, waiting for nightfall. When
it grew dark they moved again, and soon came to a number of houses on the
river-bank. Each of the ten parties took possession of one of these, making
great fires to warm themselves and dry their guns.

It chanced that in the house where Coulon and his band sought shelter, a
wedding-feast was going on. The guests were much startled at this sudden
irruption of armed men; but to the Canadians and their chief the festival
was a stroke of amazing good luck, for most of the guests were inhabitants
of Grand Pré, who knew perfectly the houses occupied by the English, and
could tell with precision where the officers were quartered. This was a
point of extreme importance. The English were distributed among twenty-four
houses, scattered, as before mentioned, for the distance of a mile and a
half. [Footnote: _Goldthwait to Shirley, 2 March, 1746 (1747)_.
Captain Benjamin Goldthwait was second in command of the English
detachment.] The assailants were too few to attack all these houses at
once; but if those where the chief officers lodged could be surprised and
captured with their inmates, the rest could make little resistance. Hence
it was that Coulon had divided his followers into ten parties, each with
one or more chosen officers; these officers were now called together at the
house of the interrupted festivity, and the late guests having given full
information as to the position of the English quarters and the military
quality of their inmates, a special object of attack was assigned to the
officer of each party, with Acadian guides to conduct him to it. The
principal party, consisting of fifty, or, as another account says, of
seventy-five men, was led by Coulon himself, with Beaujeu, Desligneris,
Mercier, Léry, and Lusignan as his officers. This party was to attack a
stone house near the middle of the village, where the main guard was
stationed,--a building somewhat larger than the rest, and the only one at
all suited for defence. The second party, of forty men, commanded by La
Corne, with Riganville, Lagny, and Villemont, was to attack a neighboring
house, the quarters of Colonel Noble, his brother, Ensign Noble, and
several other officers. The remaining parties, of twenty-five men each
according to Beaujeu, or twenty-eight according to La Corne, were to make a
dash, as nearly as possible at the same time, at other houses which it was
thought most important to secure. All had Acadian guides, whose services in
that capacity were invaluable; though Beaujeu complains that they were of
no use in the attack. He says that the united force was about three hundred
men, while the English Captain Goldthwait puts it, including Acadians and
Indians, at from five to six hundred. That of the English was a little
above five hundred in all. Every arrangement being made, and his part
assigned to each officer, the whole body was drawn up in the storm, and the
chaplain pronounced a general absolution. Then each of the ten parties,
guided by one or more Acadians, took the path for its destination, every
man on snow-shoes, with the lock of his gun well sheltered under his

The largest party, under Coulon, was, as we have seen, to attack the stone
house in the middle of the village; but their guide went astray, and about
three in the morning they approached a small wooden house not far from
their true object. A guard was posted here, as at all the English
quarters. The night was dark and the snow was still falling, as it had done
without ceasing for the past thirty hours. The English sentinel descried
through the darkness and the storm what seemed the shadows of an advancing
crowd of men. He cried, "Who goes there?" and then shouted, "To arms!" A
door was flung open, and the guard appeared in the entrance. But at that
moment the moving shadows vanished from before the eyes of the sentinel.
The French, one and all, had thrown themselves flat in the soft, light
snow, and nothing was to be seen or heard. The English thought it a false
alarm, and the house was quiet again. Then Coulon and his men rose and
dashed forward. Again, in a loud and startled voice, the sentinel shouted,
"To arms!" A great light, as of a blazing fire, shone through the open
doorway, and men were seen within in hurried movement. Coulon, who was in
the front, said to Beaujeu, who was close at his side, that the house was
not the one they were to attack. Beaujeu replied that it was no time to
change, and Coulon dashed forward again. Beaujeu aimed at the sentinel and
shot him dead. There was the flash and report of muskets from the house,
and Coulon dropped in the snow, severely wounded. The young cadet,
Lusignan, was hit in the shoulder; but he still pushed on, when a second
shot shattered his thigh. "Friends," cried the gallant youth, as he fell by
the side of his commander, "don't let two dead men discourage you." The
Canadians, powdered from head to foot with snow, burst into the house.
Within ten minutes, all resistance was overpowered. Of twenty-four
Englishmen, twenty-one were killed, and three made prisoners. [Footnote:
Beaujeu, _Journal_.]

Meanwhile, La Corne, with his party of forty men, had attacked the house
where were quartered Colonel Noble and his brother, with Captain Howe and
several other officers. Noble had lately transferred the main guard to the
stone house, but had not yet removed thither himself, and the guard in the
house which he occupied was small. The French burst the door with axes, and
rushed in. Colonel Noble, startled from sleep, sprang from his bed,
receiving two musket-balls in the body as he did so. He seems to have had
pistols, for he returned the fire several times. His servant, who was in
the house, testified that the French called to the Colonel through a window
and promised him quarter if he would surrender; but that he refused, on
which they fired again, and a bullet, striking his forehead, killed him
instantly. His brother, Ensign Noble, was also shot down, fighting in his
shirt. Lieutenants Pickering and Lechmere lay in bed dangerously ill, and
were killed there. Lieutenant Jones, after, as the narrator says, "ridding
himself of some of the enemy," tried to break through the rest and escape,
but was run through the heart with a bayonet. Captain Howe was severely
wounded and made prisoner.

Coulon and Lusignan, disabled by their wounds, were carried back to the
houses on the Gaspereau, where the French surgeon had remained. Coulon's
party, now commanded by Beaujeu, having met and joined the smaller party
under Lotbinière, proceeded to the aid of others who might need their help;
for while they heard a great noise of musketry from far and near, and could
discern bodies of men in motion here and there, they could not see whether
these were friends or foes, or discern which side fortune favored. They
presently met the party of Marin, composed of twenty-five Indians, who had
just been repulsed with loss from the house which they had attacked. By
this time there was a gleam of daylight, and as they plodded wearily over
the snow-drifts, they no longer groped in darkness. The two parties of
Colombière and Boishébert soon joined them, with the agreeable news that
each had captured a house; and the united force now proceeded to make a
successful attack on two buildings where the English had stored the frames
of their blockhouses. Here the assailants captured ten prisoners. It was
now broad day, but they could not see through the falling snow whether the
enterprise, as a whole, had prospered or failed. Therefore Beaujeu sent
Marin to find La Corne, who, in the absence of Coulon, held the chief
command. Marin was gone two hours. At length he returned, and reported that
the English in the houses which had not been attacked, together with such
others as had not been killed or captured, had drawn together at the stone
house in the middle of the village, that La Corne was blockading them
there, and that he ordered Beaujeu and his party to join him at once.

When Beaujeu reached the place he found La Corne posted at the house where
Noble had been killed, and which was within easy musket-shot of the stone
house occupied by the English, against whom a spattering fire was kept up
by the French from the cover of neighboring buildings. Those in the stone
house returned the fire; but no great harm was done on either side, till
the English, now commanded by Captain Goldthwait, attempted to recapture
the house where La Corne and his party were posted. Two companies made a
sally; but they had among them only eighteen pairs of snow-shoes, the rest
having been left on board the two vessels which had brought the stores of
the detachment from Annapolis, and which now lay moored hard by, in the
power of the enemy, at or near the mouth of the Gaspereau. Hence the
sallying party floundered helpless among the drifts, plunging so deep in
the dry snow that they could not use their guns and could scarcely move,
while bullets showered upon them from La Corne's men in the house and
others hovering about them on snow-shoes. The attempt was hopeless, and
after some loss the two companies fell back. The firing continued, as
before, till noon, or, according to Beaujeu, till three in the afternoon,
when a French officer, carrying a flag of truce, came out of La Corne's
house. The occasion of the overture was this.

Captain Howe, who, as before mentioned, had been badly wounded at the
capture of this house, was still there, a prisoner, without surgical aid,
the French surgeon being at the houses on the Gaspereau, in charge of
Coulon and other wounded men. "Though," says Beaujeu, "M. Howe was a firm
man, he begged the Chevalier La Corne not to let him bleed to death for
want of aid, but permit him to send for an English surgeon." To this La
Corne, after consulting with his officers, consented, and Marin went to the
English with a white flag and a note from Howe explaining the situation.
The surgeon was sent, and Howe's wound was dressed, Marin remaining as a
hostage. A suspension of arms took place till the surgeon's return; after
which it was prolonged till nine o'clock of the next morning, at the
instance, according to French accounts, of the English, and, according to
English accounts, of the French. In either case, the truce was welcome to
both sides. The English, who were in the stone house to the number of
nearly three hundred and fifty, crowded to suffocation, had five small
cannon, two of which were four-pounders, and three were swivels; but these
were probably not in position, as it does not appear that any use was made
of them. There was no ammunition except what the men had in their
powder-horns and bullet-pouches, the main stock having been left, with
other necessaries, on board the schooner and sloop now in the hands of the
French. It was found, on examination, that they had ammunition for eight
shots each, and provisions for one day. Water was only to be had by
bringing it from a neighboring brook. As there were snow-shoes for only
about one man in twenty, sorties were out of the question; and the house
was commanded by high ground on three sides.

Though their number was still considerable, their position was growing
desperate. Thus it happened that when the truce expired, Goldthwait, the
English commander, with another officer, who seems to have been Captain
Preble, came with a white flag to the house where La Corne was posted, and
proposed terms of capitulation, Howe, who spoke French, acting as
interpreter. La Corne made proposals on his side, and as neither party was
anxious to continue the fray, they soon came to an understanding.

It was agreed that within forty-eight hours the English should march for
Annapolis with the honors of war; that the prisoners taken by the French
should remain in their hands; that the Indians, who had been the only
plunderers, should keep the plunder they had taken; that the English sick
and wounded should be left, till their recovery, at the neighboring
settlement of Rivière-aux-Canards, protected by a French guard, and that
the English engaged in the affair at Grand Pré should not bear arms during
the next six months within the district about the head of the Bay of Fundy,
including Chignecto, Grand Pré, and the neighboring settlements.

Captain Howe was released on parole, with the condition that he should send
back in exchange one Lacroix, a French prisoner at Boston,--"which," says
La Corne, "he faithfully did."

Thus ended one of the most gallant exploits in French-Canadian annals. As
respects the losses on each side, the French and English accounts are
irreconcilable; nor are the statements of either party consistent with
themselves. Mascarene reports to Shirley that seventy English were killed,
and above sixty captured; though he afterwards reduces these numbers,
having, as he says, received farther information. On the French side he
says that four officers and about forty men were killed, and that many
wounded were carried off in carts during the fight. Beaujeu, on the other
hand, sets the English loss at one hundred and thirty killed, fifteen
wounded, and fifty captured; and the French loss at seven killed and
fifteen wounded. As for the numbers engaged, the statements are scarcely
less divergent. It seems clear, however, that when Coulon began his march
from Baye Verte, his party consisted of about three hundred Canadians and
Indians, without reckoning some Acadians who had joined him from Beaubassin
and Isle St. Jean. Others joined him on the way to Grand Pré, counting a
hundred and fifty according to Shirley,--which appears to be much too
large an estimate. The English, by their own showing, numbered five
hundred, or five hundred and twenty-five. Of eleven houses attacked, ten
were surprised and carried, with the help of the darkness and storm and the
skilful management of the assailants.

"No sooner was the capitulation signed," says Beaujeu, "than we became in
appearance the best of friends." La Corne directed military honors to be
rendered to the remains of the brothers Noble; and in all points the
Canadians, both officers and men, treated the English with kindness and
courtesy. "The English commandant," again says Beaujeu, "invited us all to
dine with him and his officers, so that we might have the pleasure of
making acquaintance over a bowl of punch." The repast being served after
such a fashion as circumstances permitted, victors and vanquished sat down
together; when, says Beaujeu, "we received on the part of our hosts many
compliments on our polite manners and our skill in making war." And the
compliments were well deserved.

At eight o'clock on the morning of the 14th of February the English filed
out of the stone house, and with arms shouldered, drums beating, and colors
flying, marched between two ranks of the French, and took the road for
Annapolis. The English sick and wounded were sent to the settlement of
Rivière-aux-Canards, where, protected by a French guard and attended by an
English surgeon, they were to remain till able to reach the British fort.

La Corne called a council of war, and in view of the scarcity of food and
other reasons it was resolved to return to Beaubassin. Many of the French
had fallen ill. Some of the sick and wounded were left at Grand Pré, others
at Cobequid, and the Acadians were required to supply means of carrying the
rest. Coulon's party left Grand Pré on the 23d of February, and on the 8th
of March reached Beaubassin. [Footnote: The dates are of the new style,
which the French had adopted, while the English still clung to the old
style.] [Footnote: By far the best account of this French victory at Mines
is that of Beaujeu, in his _Journal de la Campagne du Détachement de
Canada à l'Acadie et aux Mines en 1746-47._ It is preserved in the
Archives de la Marine et des Colonies, and is printed in the documentary
supplement of _Le Canada Français_, Vol. II. It supplies the means of
correcting many errors and much confusion in some recent accounts of the
affair. The report of Chevalier de la Corne, also printed in _Le Canada
Français_, though much shorter, is necessary to a clear understanding of
the matter. Letters of Lusignan fils to the minister Maurepas, 10 Oct.
1747, of Bishop Pontbriand (to Maurepas?), 10 July, 1747, and of Lusignan
père to Maurepas, 10 Oct. 1747, give some additional incidents. The
principal document on the English side is the report of Captain Benjamin
Goldthwait, who succeeded Noble in command. A copy of the original, in the
Public Record Office, is before me. The substance of it is correctly given
in _The Boston Post Boy_ of 2 March, 1747, and in _N. E. Hist. Gen.
Reg._, X. 108. Various letters from Mascarene and Shirley (Public Record
Office) contain accounts derived from returned officers and soldiers. The
_Notice of Colonel Arthur Noble_, by William Goold (_Collections
Maine Historical Soc., 1881_), may also be consulted.]

Ramesay did not fail to use the success at Grand Pré to influence the minds
of the Acadians. He sent a circular letter to the inhabitants of the
various districts, and especially to those of Mines, in which he told them
that their country had been reconquered by the arms of the King of France,
to whom he commanded them to be faithful subjects, holding no intercourse
with the English under any pretence whatever, on pain of the severest
punishment. "If," he concludes, "we have withdrawn our soldiers from among
you, it is for reasons known to us alone, and with a view to your
advantage." [Footnote: _Ramesay aux Députés et Habitants des Mines, 31
Mars, 1747_. At the end is written "A true copy, with the misspellings:
signed W. Shirley."]

Unfortunately for the effect of this message, Shirley had no sooner heard
of the disaster at Grand Pré than he sent a body of Massachusetts soldiers
to reoccupy the place. [Footnote: _Shirley to Newcastle, 24 Aug.
1747._] This they did in April. The Acadians thus found themselves, as
usual, between two dangers; and unable to see which horn of the dilemma was
the worse, they tried to avoid both by conciliating French and English
alike, and assuring each of their devoted attachment. They sent a pathetic
letter to Ramesay, telling him that their hearts were always French, and
begging him at the same time to remember that they were a poor, helpless
people, burdened with large families, and in danger of expulsion and ruin
if they offended their masters, the English. [Footnote: "Ainsis Monsieur
nous vous prions de regarder notre bon Coeur et en même Temps notre
Impuissance pauvre Peuple chargez la plus part de familles nombreuse point
de Recours sil falois evacuer a quoy nous sommes menacez tous les jours qui
nous tien dans une Crainte perpetuelle en nous voyant a la proximitet de
nos maitre depuis un sy grand nombre dannes" (printed _literatim_).
_Deputés des Mines à Ramesay, 24 Mai, 1747._] They wrote at the same
time to Mascarene at Annapolis, sending him, to explain the situation, a
copy of Ramesay's threatening letter to them; [Footnote: This probably
explains the bad spelling of the letter, the copy before me having been
made from the Acadian transcript sent to Mascarene, and now in the Public
Record Office.] begging him to consider that they could not without danger
dispense with answering it; at the same time they protested their entire
fidelity to King George. [Footnote: _Les Habitants a l'honorable
gouverneur au for d'anapolisse royal_ [sic], _Mai_(?), 1747. On the
27th of June the inhabitants of Cobequid wrote again to Mascarene:
"Monsieur nous prenons la Liberte de vous recrire celle icy pour vous
assurer de nos tres humble Respect et d'un entiere Sou-mission a vos
Ordres" (_literatim_).]

Ramesay, not satisfied with the results of his first letter, wrote again to
the Acadians, ordering them, in the name of the Governor-General of New
France, to take up arms against the English, and enclosing for their
instruction an extract from a letter of the French Governor. "These," says
Ramesay, "are his words: 'We consider ourself as master of Beaubassin and
Mines, since we have driven off the English. Therefore there is no
difficulty in forcing the Acadians to take arms for us; to which end we
declare to them that they are discharged from the oath that they formerly
took to the English, by which they are bound no longer, as has been decided
by the authorities of Canada and Monseigneur our Bishop.'" [Footnote: "Nous
nous regardons aujourdhuy Maistre de Beaubassin et des Mines puisque nous
en avons Chassé les Anglois; ainsi il ny a aucune difficulté de forcer les
Accadiens à prendre les armes pour nous, et de les y Contraindre; leur
declarons à cet effêt qu'ils sont dechargé [sic] du Serment preté, cy
devant, à l'Anglois, auquel ils ne sont plus obligé [sic] comme il y a été
decidé par nos puissances de Canada et de Monseigneur notre Evesque"

"In view of the above," continues Ramesay, "we order all the inhabitants of
Memeramcook to come to this place [Beaubassin] as soon as they see the
signal-fires lighted, or discover the approach of the enemy; and this on
pain of death, confiscation of all their goods, burning of their houses,
and the punishment due to rebels against the King." [Footnote: _Ramesay
aux Habitants de Chignecto, etc., 25 Mai, 1747._ A few months
later, the deputies of Rivière-aux-Canards wrote to Shirley, thanking him
for kindness which they said was undeserved, promising to do their duty
thenceforth, but begging him to excuse them from giving up persons who had
acted "contraire aux Interests de leur devoire," representing the
difficulty of their position, and protesting "une Soumission parfaite et en
touts Respects." The letter is signed by four deputies, of whom one writes
his name, and three sign with crosses.]

The position of the Acadians was deplorable. By the Treaty of Utrecht,
France had transferred them to the British Crown; yet French officers
denounced them as rebels and threatened them with death if they did not
fight at their bidding against England; and English officers threatened
them with expulsion from the country if they broke their oath of allegiance
to King George. It was the duty of the British ministry to occupy the
province with a force sufficient to protect the inhabitants against French
terrorism, and leave no doubt that the King of England was master of Acadia
in fact as well as in name. This alone could have averted the danger of
Acadian revolt, and the harsh measures to which it afterwards gave rise.
The ministry sent no aid, but left to Shirley and Massachusetts the task of
keeping the province for King George. Shirley and Massachusetts did what
they could; but they could not do all that the emergency demanded.

Shirley courageously spoke his mind to the ministry, on whose favor he was
dependent. "The fluctuating state of the inhabitants of Acadia," he wrote
to Newcastle, "seems, my lord, naturally to arise from their finding a want
of due protection from his Majesty's Government." [Footnote: _Shirley to
Newcastle, 29 April, 1747._ On Shirley's relations with the Acadians,
see Appendix C.]





From the East we turn to the West, for the province of New York passed for
the West at that day. Here a vital question was what would be the attitude
of the Five Nations of the Iroquois towards the rival European colonies,
their neighbors. The Treaty of Utrecht called them British subjects. What
the word "subjects" meant, they themselves hardly knew. The English told
them that it meant children; the French that it meant dogs and slaves.
Events had tamed the fierce confederates; and now, though, like all
savages, unstable as children, they leaned in their soberer moments to a
position of neutrality between their European neighbors, watching with
jealous eyes against the encroachments of both. The French would gladly
have enlisted them and their tomahawks in the war; but seeing little hope
of this, were generally content if they could prevent them from siding with
the English, who on their part regarded them as their Indians, and were
satisfied with nothing less than active alliance.

When Shirley's plan for the invasion of Canada was afoot, Clinton, governor
of New York, with much ado succeeded in convening the deputies of the
confederacy at Albany, and by dint of speeches and presents induced them to
sing the war-song and take up the hatchet for England. The Iroquois were
disgusted when the scheme came to nought, their warlike ardor cooled, and
they conceived a low opinion of English prowess.

The condition of New York as respects military efficiency was deplorable.
She was divided against herself, and, as usual in such cases, party passion
was stronger than the demands of war. The province was in the midst of one
of those disputes with the representative of the Crown, which, in one
degree or another, crippled or paralyzed the military activity of nearly
all the British colonies. Twenty years or more earlier, when Massachusetts
was at blows with the Indians on her borders, she suffered from the same
disorders; but her Governor and Assembly were of one mind as to urging on
the war, and quarrelled only on the questions in what way and under what
command it should be waged. But in New York there was a strong party that
opposed the war, being interested in the contraband trade long carried on
with Canada. Clinton, the governor, had, too, an enemy in the person of the
Chief Justice, James de Lancey, with whom he had had an after-dinner
dispute, ending in a threat on the part of De Lancey that he would make the
Governor's seat uncomfortable. To marked abilities, better education, and
more knowledge of the world than was often found in the provinces, ready
wit, and conspicuous social position, the Chief Justice joined a restless
ambition and the arts of a demagogue.

He made good his threat, headed the opposition to the Governor, and proved
his most formidable antagonist. If either Clinton or Shirley had had the
independent authority of a Canadian governor, the conduct of the war would
have been widely different. Clinton was hampered at every turn. The
Assembly held him at advantage; for it was they, and not the King, who paid
his salary, and they could withhold or retrench it when he displeased them.
The people sympathized with their representatives and backed them in
opposition,--at least when not under the stress of imminent danger.

A body of provincials, in the pay of the King, had been mustered at Albany
for the proposed Canada expedition; and after that plan was abandoned,
Clinton wished to use them for protecting the northern frontier and
capturing that standing menace to the province, Crown Point. The Assembly,
bent on crossing him at any price, refused to provide for transporting
supplies farther than Albany. As the furnishing of provisions and
transportation depended on that body, they could stop the movement of
troops and defeat the Governor's military plans at their pleasure. In vain
he told them, "If you deny me the necessary supplies, all my endeavors must
become fruitless; I must wash my own hands, and leave at your doors the
blood of the innocent people." [Footnote: _Extract from the Governor's
Message_, in Smith, _History of New York_, II. 124 (1830).]

He urged upon them the necessity of building forts on the two
carrying-places between the Hudson and Lakes George and Champlain, thus
blocking the path of war-parties from Canada. They would do nothing,
insisting that the neighboring colonies, to whom the forts would also be
useful, ought to help in building them; and when it was found that these
colonies were ready to do their part, the Assembly still refused.
Passionate opposition to the royal Governor seemed to blind them to the
interests of the province. Nor was the fault all on their side; for the
Governor, though he generally showed more self-control and moderation than
could have been expected, sometimes lost temper and betrayed scorn for his
opponents, many of whom were but the instruments of leaders urged by
personal animosities and small but intense ambitions. They accused him of
treating them with contempt, and of embezzling public money; while he
retorted by charging them with encroaching on the royal prerogative and
treating the representative of the King with indecency. Under such
conditions an efficient conduct of the war was out of the question.

Once, when the frontier was seriously threatened, Clinton, as
commander-in-chief, called out the militia to defend it; but they refused
to obey, on the ground that no Act of the Assembly required them to do so.
[Footnote: _Clinton to the Lords of Trade_, 10 Nov. 1747.]

Clinton sent home bitter complaints to Newcastle and the Lords of Trade.
"They [the Assembly] are selfish, jealous of the power of the Crown, and of
such levelling principles that they are constantly attacking its
prerogative.... I find that neither dissolutions nor fair means can produce
from them such Effects as will tend to a publick good or their own
preservation. They will neither act for themselves nor assist their
neighbors.... Few but hirelings have a seat in the Assembly, who protract
time for the sake of their wages, at a great expence to the Province,
without contributing anything material for its welfare, credit, or safety."
And he declares that unless Parliament takes them in hand he can do nothing
for the service of the King or the good of the province, [Footnote:
_Clinton to the Lords of Trade_, 30 Nov. 1745.] for they want to usurp
the whole administration, both civil and military. [Footnote: _Remarks on
the Representation of the Assembly of New York, May, 1747_, in _N. Y.
Col. Docs._, VI. 365. On the disputes of the Governor and Assembly, see
also Smith, _History of New York_, II. (1830), and Stone, _Life and
Times of Sir William Johnson_, I. _N.Y. Colonial Documents,_ VI.,
contains many papers on the subject, chiefly on the Governor's side.]

At Saratoga there was a small settlement of Dutch farmers, with a stockade
fort for their protection. This was the farthest outpost of the colony, and
the only defence of Albany in the direction of Canada. It was occupied by a
sergeant, a corporal, and ten soldiers, who testified before a court of
inquiry that it was in such condition that in rainy weather neither they
nor their ammunition could be kept dry. As neither the Assembly nor the
merchants of Albany would make it tenable, the garrison was withdrawn
before winter by order of the Governor. [Footnote: _Examinations at a
Court of Inquiry at Albany, 11 Dec. 1745,_ in _N. Y. Col Docs.,_
VI. 374.]

Scarcely was this done when five hundred French and, Indians, under the
partisan Marin, surprised the settlement in the night of the 28th of
November, burned fort, houses, mills, and stables, killed thirty persons,
and carried off about a hundred prisoners. [Footnote: The best account of
this affair is in the journal of a French officer in Schuyler, _Colonial
New York,_ II. 115. The dates, being in new style, differ by eleven days
from those of the English accounts. The Dutch hamlet of Saratoga, surprised
by Marin, was near the mouth of the Fish Kill, on the west side of the
Hudson. There was also a small fort on the east side, a little below the
mouth of the Batten Kill.] Albany was left uncovered, and the Assembly
voted £150 in provincial currency to rebuild the ruined fort. A feeble
palisade work was accordingly set up, but it was neglected like its
predecessor. Colonel Peter Schuyler was stationed there with his regiment
in 1747, but was forced to abandon his post for want of supplies. Clinton
then directed Colonel Roberts, commanding at Albany, to examine the fort,
and if he found it indefensible, to burn it,--which he did, much to the
astonishment of a French war-party, who visited the place soon after, and
found nothing but ashes. [Footnote: Schuyler, _Colonial New York,_ II.

The burning of Saratoga, first by the French and then by its own masters,
made a deep impression on the Five Nations, and a few years later they
taunted their white neighbors with these shortcomings in no measured terms.
"You burned your own fort at Seraghtoga and ran away from it, which was a
shame and a scandal to you." [Footnote: _Report of a Council with the
Indians at Albany, 28 June, 1754._] Uninitiated as they were in party
politics and faction quarrels, they could see nothing in this and other
military lapses but proof of a want of martial spirit, if not of cowardice.
Hence the difficulty of gaining their active alliance against the French
was redoubled. Fortunately for the province, the adverse influence was in
some measure counteracted by the character and conduct of one man. Up to
this time the French had far surpassed the rival nation in the possession
of men ready and able to deal with the Indians and mould them to their
will. Eminent among such was Joncaire, French emissary among the Senecas in
western New York, who, with admirable skill, held back that powerful member
of the Iroquois league from siding with the English. But now, among the
Mohawks of eastern New York, Joncaire found his match in the person of
William Johnson, a vigorous and intelligent young Irishman, nephew of
Admiral Warren, and his agent in the management of his estates on the
Mohawk. Johnson soon became intimate with his Indian neighbors, spoke their
language, joined in their games and dances, sometimes borrowed their dress
and their paint, and whooped, yelped, and stamped like one of themselves. A
white man thus playing the Indian usually gains nothing in the esteem of
those he imitates; but, as before in the case of the redoubtable Count
Frontenac, Johnson's adoption of their ways increased their liking for him
and did not diminish their respect. The Mohawks adopted him into their
tribe and made him a war-chief. Clinton saw his value; and as the Albany
commissioners hitherto charged with Indian affairs had proved wholly
inefficient, he transferred their functions to Johnson; whence arose more
heart-burnings. The favor of the Governor cost the new functionary the
support of the Assembly, who refused the indispensable presents to the
Indians, and thus vastly increased the difficulty of his task. Yet the Five
Nations promised to take up the hatchet against the French, and their
orator said, in a conference at Albany, "Should any French priests now dare
to come among us, we know no use for them but to roast them." [Footnote:
_Answer of the Six [Five] Nations to His Excellency the Governor at
Albany, 23 Aug. 1746._] Johnson's present difficulties, however, sprang
more from Dutch and English traders than from French priests, and he begs
that an Act may be passed against the selling of liquor to the Indians, "as
it is impossible to do anything with them while there is such a plenty to
be had all round the neighborhood, being forever drunk." And he complains
especially of one Clement, who sells liquor within twenty yards of
Johnson's house, and immediately gets from the Indians all the bounty money
they receive for scalps, "which leaves them as poor as ratts," and
therefore refractory and unmanageable. Johnson says further: "There is
another grand villain, George Clock, who lives by Conajoharie Castle, and
robs the Indians of all their cloaths, etc." The chiefs complained, "upon
which I wrote him twice to give over that custom of selling liquor to the
Indians; the answer was he gave the bearer, I might hang myself."
[Footnote: _Johnson to Clinton, 7 May, 1747._] Indian affairs, it will
be seen, were no better regulated then than now.

Meanwhile the French Indians were ravaging the frontiers and burning
farm-houses to within sight of Albany. The Assembly offered rewards for the
scalps of the marauders, but were slow in sending money to pay them,--to
the great discontent of the Mohawks, who, however, at Johnson's
instigation, sent out various war-parties, two of which, accompanied by a
few whites, made raids as far as the island of Montreal, and somewhat
checked the incursions of the mission Indians by giving them work near
home. The check was but momentary. Heathen Indians from the West joined the
Canadian converts, and the frontiers of New York and New England, from the
Mohawk to beyond the Kennebec, were stung through all their length by
innumerable nocturnal surprises and petty attacks. The details of this
murderous though ineffective partisan war would fill volumes, if they were
worth recording. One or two examples will show the nature of all.

In the valley of the little river Ashuelot, a New Hampshire affluent of the
Connecticut, was a rude border-settlement which later years transformed
into a town noted in rural New England for kindly hospitality, culture
without pretence, and good-breeding without conventionality. [Footnote:
Keene, originally called Upper Ashuelot. On the same stream, a few miles
below, was a similar settlement, called Lower Ashuelot--the germ of the
present Swanzey. This, too, suffered greatly from Indian attacks.] In 1746
the place was in all the rawness and ugliness of a backwoods hamlet. The
rough fields, lately won from the virgin forest, showed here and there,
among the stumps, a few log-cabins, roofed with slabs of pine, spruce, or
hemlock. Near by was a wooden fort, made, no doubt, after the common
frontier pattern, of a stockade fence ten or twelve feet high, enclosing
cabins to shelter the settlers in case of alarm, and furnished at the
corners with what were called flankers, which were boxes of thick plank
large enough to hold two or more men, raised above the ground on posts, and
pierced with loopholes, so that each face of the stockade could be swept by
a flank fire. One corner of this fort at Ashuelot was, however, guarded by
a solid blockhouse, or, as it was commonly called, a "mount."

On the 23d of April a band of sixty, or, by another account, a hundred
Indians, approached the settlement before daybreak, and hid in the
neighboring thickets to cut off the men in the fort as they came out to
their morning work. One of the men, Ephraim Dorman, chanced to go out
earlier than the rest. The Indians did not fire on him, but, not to give an
alarm, tried to capture or kill him without noise. Several of them suddenly
showed themselves, on which he threw down his gun in pretended submission.
One of them came up to him with hatchet raised; but the nimble and sturdy
borderer suddenly struck him with his fist a blow in the head that knocked
him flat, then snatched up his own gun, and, as some say, the blanket of
the half-stunned savage also, sprang off, reached the fort unhurt, and gave
the alarm. Some of the families of the place were living in the fort; but
the bolder or more careless still remained in their farm-houses, and if
nothing were done for their relief, their fate was sealed. Therefore the
men sallied in a body, and a sharp fight ensued, giving the frightened
settlers time to take refuge within the stockade. It was not too soon, for
the work of havoc had already begun. Six houses and a barn were on fire,
and twenty-three cattle had been killed. The Indians fought fiercely,
killed John Bullard and captured Nathan Blake, but at last retreated; and
after they were gone, the charred remains of several of them were found
among the ruins of one of the burned cabins, where they had probably been
thrown to prevent their being scalped.

Before Dorman had given the alarm, an old woman, Mrs. McKenney, went from
the fort to milk her cow in a neighboring barn. As she was returning, with
her full milk-pail, a naked Indian was seen to spring from a clump of
bushes, plunge a long knife into her back, and dart away without stopping
to take the gray scalp of his victim. She tried feebly to reach the fort;
but from age, corpulence, and a mortal wound she moved but slowly, and when
a few steps from the gate, fell and died.

Ten days after, a party of Indians hid themselves at night by this same
fort, and sent one of their number to gain admission under pretence of
friendship, intending, no doubt, to rush in when the gate should be opened;
but the man on guard detected the trick, and instead of opening the gate,
fired through it, mortally wounding the Indian, on which his confederates
made off. Again, at the same place, Deacon Josiah Foster, who had taken
refuge in the fort, ventured out on a July morning to drive his cows to
pasture. A gun-shot was heard; and the men who went out to learn the cause,
found the Deacon lying in the wood-road, dead and scalped. An ambushed
Indian had killed him and vanished. Such petty attacks were without number.

There is a French paper, called a record of "military movements," which
gives a list of war-parties sent from Montreal against the English border
between the 29th of March, 1746, and the 21st of June in the same year.
They number thirty-five distinct bands, nearly all composed of mission
Indians living in or near the settled parts of Canada,--Abenakis, Iroquois
of the Lake of Two Mountains and of Sault St. Louis (Caughnawaga),
Algonkins of the Ottawa, and others, in parties rarely of more than thirty,
and often of no more than six, yet enough for waylaying travellers or
killing women in kitchens or cow-sheds, and solitary laborers in the
fields. This record is accompanied by a list of wild Western Indians who
came down to Montreal in the summer of 1746 to share in these "military
movements." [Footnote: _Extrait sur les différents Mouvements Militaires
qui se sont faits à Montréal à l'occasion de la Guerre, 1745, 1746._
There is a translation in _N. Y. Col. Docs._]

No part of the country suffered more than the western borders of
Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and here were seen too plainly the evils
of the prevailing want of concert among the British colonies. Massachusetts
claimed extensive tracts north of her present northern boundary, and in the
belief that her claim would hold good, had built a small wooden fort,
called Fort Dummer, on the Connecticut, for the protection of settlers.
New Hampshire disputed the title, and the question, being referred to the
Crown, was decided in her favor. On this, Massachusetts withdrew the
garrison of Fort Dummer and left New Hampshire to defend her own. This the
Assembly of that province refused to do, on the ground that the fort was
fifty miles from any settlement made by New Hampshire people, and was
therefore useless to them, though of great value to Massachusetts as a
cover to Northfield and other of her settlements lower down the
Connecticut, to protect which was no business of New Hampshire. [Footnote:
_Journal of the Assembly of New Hampshire,_ quoted in Saunderson,
_History of Charlestown, N. H.,_ 20.] But some years before, in 1740,
three brothers, Samuel, David, and Stephen Farnsworth, natives of Groton,
Massachusetts, had begun a new settlement on the Connecticut about
forty-five miles north of the Massachusetts line and on ground which was
soon to be assigned to New Hampshire. They were followed by five or six
others. They acted on the belief that their settlement was within the
jurisdiction of Massachusetts, and that she could and would protect them.
The place was one of extreme exposure, not only from its isolation, far
from help, but because it was on the banks of a wild and lonely river, the
customary highway of war-parties on their descent from Canada. Number
Four--for so the new settlement was called, because it was the fourth in a
range of townships recently marked out along the Connecticut, but, with one
or two exceptions, wholly unoccupied as yet--was a rude little outpost of
civilization, buried in forests that spread unbroken to the banks of the
St. Lawrence, while its nearest English neighbor was nearly thirty miles
away. As may be supposed, it grew slowly, and in 1744 it had but nine or
ten families. In the preceding year, when war seemed imminent, and it was
clear that neither Massachusetts nor New Hampshire would lend a helping
hand, the settlers of Number Four, seeing that their only resource was in
themselves, called a meeting to consider the situation and determine what
should be done. The meeting was held at the house, or log-cabin, of John
Spafford, Jr., and being duly called to order, the following resolutions
were adopted: that a fort be built at the charge of the proprietors of the
said township of Number Four; that John Hastings, John Spafford, and John
Avery be a committee to direct the building; that each carpenter be allowed
nine shillings, old tenor, a day, each laborer seven shillings, and each
pair of oxen three shillings and sixpence; that the proprietors of the
township be taxed in the sum of three hundred pounds, old tenor, for
building the fort; that John Spafford, Phineas Stevens, and John Hastings
be assessors to assess the same, and Samuel Farnsworth collector to collect
it. [Footnote: Extracts from the Town Record, in Saunderson, _History of
Charlestown, N.H. (Number Four)_, 17,18.] And to the end that their fort
should be a good and creditable one, they are said to have engaged the
services of John Stoddard, accounted the foremost man of western
Massachusetts, Superintendent of Defence, Colonel of Militia, Judge of
Probate, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, a reputed authority in
the construction of backwoods fortifications, and the admired owner of the
only gold watch in Northampton.

Timber was abundant and could be had for the asking; for the frontiersman
usually regarded a tree less as a valuable possession than as a natural
enemy, to be got rid of by fair means or foul. The only cost was the labor.
The fort rose rapidly. It was a square enclosing about three quarters of an
acre, each side measuring a hundred and eighty feet. The wall was not of
palisades, as was more usual, but of squared logs laid one upon another,
and interlocked at the corners after the fashion of a log-cabin. Within
were several houses, which had been built close together, for mutual
protection, before the fort was begun, and which belonged to Stevens,
Spafford, and other settlers. Apparently they were small log-cabins; for
they were valued at only from eight to thirty-five pounds each, in old
tenor currency wofully attenuated by depreciation; and these sums being
paid to the owners out of the three hundred pounds collected for building
the fort, the cabins became public property. Either they were built in a
straight line, or they were moved to form one, for when the fort was
finished, they all backed against the outer wall, so that their low roofs
served to fire from. The usual flankers completed the work, and the
settlers of Number Four were so well pleased with it that they proudly
declared their fort a better one than Fort Dummer, its nearest neighbor,
which had been built by public authority at the charge of the province.

But a fort must have a garrison, and the ten or twelve men of Number Four
would hardly be a sufficient one. Sooner or later an attack was certain;
for the place was a backwoods Castle Dangerous, lying in the path of
war-parties from Canada, whether coming down the Connecticut from Lake
Memphremagog, or up Otter Creek from Lake Champlain, then over the
mountains to Black River, and so down that stream, which would bring them
directly to Number Four. New Hampshire would do nothing for them, and their
only hope was in Massachusetts, of which most of them were natives, and
which had good reasons for helping them to hold their ground, as a cover to
its own settlements below. The Governor and Assembly of Massachusetts did,
in fact, send small parties of armed men from time to time to defend the
endangered outpost, and the succor was timely; for though, during the first
year of the war, Number Four was left in peace, yet from the 19th of April
to the 19th of June, 1746, it was attacked by Indians five times, with some
loss of scalps, and more of cattle, horses, and hogs. On the last occasion
there was a hot fight in the woods, ending in the retreat of the Indians,
said to have numbered a hundred and fifty, into a swamp, leaving behind
them guns, blankets, hatchets, spears, and other things, valued at forty
pounds, old tenor,--which, says the chronicle, "was reckoned a great booty
for such beggarly enemies." [Footnote: Saunderson, _History of
Charlestown, N. H._, 29. Doolittle, _Narrative of Mischief done by the
Indian Enemy_,--a contempory chronicle.]

But Massachusetts grew tired of defending lands that had been adjudged to
New Hampshire, and as the season drew towards an end, Number Four was left
again to its own keeping. The settlers saw no choice but to abandon a place
which they were too few to defend, and accordingly withdrew to the older
settlements, after burying such of their effects as would bear it, and
leaving others to their fate. Six men, a dog, and a cat remained to keep
the fort. Towards midwinter the human part of the garrison also withdrew,
and the two uncongenial quadrupeds were left alone.

When the authorities of Massachusetts saw that a place so useful to bear
the brunt of attack was left to certain destruction, they repented of their
late withdrawal, and sent Captain Phineas Stevens, with thirty men, to
re-occupy it. Stevens, a native of Sudbury, Massachusetts, one of the
earliest settlers of Number Four, and one of its chief proprietors, was a
bold, intelligent, and determined man, well fitted for the work before him.
He and his band reached the fort on the 27th of March, 1747, and their
arrival gave peculiar pleasure to its tenants, the dog and cat, the former
of whom met them with lively demonstrations of joy. The pair had apparently
lived in harmony, and found means of subsistence, as they are reported to
have been in tolerable condition.

Stevens had brought with him a number of other dogs,--animals found useful
for detecting the presence of Indians and tracking them to their
lurking-places. A week or more after the arrival of the party, these
canine allies showed great uneasiness and barked without ceasing; on which
Stevens ordered a strict watch to be kept, and great precaution to be used
in opening the gate of the fort. It was time, for the surrounding forest
concealed what the New England chroniclers call an "army," commanded by
General Debeline. It scarcely need be said that Canada had no General
Debeline, and that no such name is to be found in Canadian annals. The
"army" was a large war-party of both French and Indians, and a French
record shows that its commander was Boucher de Niverville, ensign in the
colony troops. [Footnote: _Extrait en forme de Journal de ce qui s'est
passé d'intéressant dans la Colonie à l'occasion des Mouvements de Guerre,
etc., 1746, 1747_.]

The behavior of the dogs was as yet the only sign of danger, when, about
nine o'clock on the morning of the 7th of April, one of Stevens's men took
it upon him to go out and find what was amiss. Accompanied by two or three
of the dogs, he advanced, gun in hand, into the clearing, peering at every
stump, lest an Indian should lurk behind it. When about twenty rods from
the gate, he saw a large log, or trunk of a fallen tree, not far before
him, and approached it cautiously, setting on the dogs, or, as Stevens
whimsically phrases it, "saying _Choboy!_" to them. They ran forward
barking, on which several heads appeared above the log, and several guns
were fired at him. He was slightly wounded, but escaped to the fort. Then,
all around, the air rang with war-whoops, and a storm of bullets flew from
the tangle of bushes that edged the clearing, and rapped spitefully, but
harmlessly, against the wooden wall. At a little distance on the windward
side was a log-house, to which, with adjacent fences, the assailants
presently set fire, in the hope that, as the wind was strong, the flames
would catch the fort. When Stevens saw what they were doing, he set himself
to thwart them; and while some of his men kept them at bay with their guns,
the rest fell to work digging a number of short trenches under the wall, on
the side towards the fire. As each trench was six or seven feet deep, a man
could stand in it outside the wall, sheltered from bullets, and dash
buckets of water, passed to him from within, against the scorching timbers.
Eleven such trenches were dug, and eleven men were stationed in them, so
that the whole exposed front of the wall was kept wet. [Footnote: "Those
who were not employed in firing at the enemy were employed in digging
trenches under the bottom of the fort. We dug no less than eleven of them,
so deep that a man could go and stand upright on the outside and not
endanger himself; so that when these trenches were finished, we could wet
all the outside of the fort, which we did, and kept it wet all night. We
drew some hundreds of barrels of water; and to undergo all this hard
service there were but thirty men." _Stevens to Colonel W.
Williams,--April, 1747._] Thus, though clouds of smoke drifted over the
fort, and burning cinders showered upon it, no harm was done, and the enemy
was forced to other devices. They found a wagon, which they protected from
water and bullets by a shield of planks,--for there was a saw-mill hard
by,--and loaded it with dry fagots, thinking to set them on fire and push
the blazing machine against a dry part of the fort wall; but the task
proved too dangerous, "for," says Stevens, "instead of performing what they
threatened and seemed to be immediately going to undertake, they called to
us and desired a cessation of arms till sunrise the next morning, which was
granted, at which time they said they would come to a parley." In fact, the
French commander, with about sixty of his men, came in the morning with a
flag of truce, which he stuck in the ground at a musket-shot from the fort,
and, in the words of Stevens, "said, if we would send three men to him, he
would send as many to us." Stevens agreed to this, on which two Frenchmen
and an Indian came to the fort, and three soldiers went out in return. The
two Frenchmen demanded, on the part of their commander, that the garrison
should surrender, under a promise of life, and be carried prisoners to
Quebec; and they farther required that Stevens should give his answer to
the French officer in person.

Wisely or unwisely, Stevens went out at the gate, and was at once joined by
Niverville, attended, no doubt, by an interpreter. "Upon meeting the
Monsieur," says the English captain, "he did not wait for me to give him an
answer," but said, in a manner sufficiently peremptory, that he had seven
hundred men with him, and that if his terms were refused, he would storm
the fort, "run over it," burn it to the ground, and if resistance were
offered, put all in it to the sword; adding that he would have it or die,
and that Stevens might fight or not as he pleased, for it was all one to
him. His terms being refused, he said, as Stevens reports, "Well, go back
to your fort and see if your men dare fight any more, and give me an answer
quickly; for my men want to be fighting." Stevens now acted as if he had
been the moderator of a town-meeting. "I went into the fort and called the
men together, and informed them what the General said, and then put it to
vote whether they would fight or resign; and they voted to a man to stand
it out, and also declared that they would fight as long as they had life."
[Footnote: _Stevens to Colonel William Williams,--April, 1747._]

Answer was made accordingly, but Niverville's promise to storm the fort and
"run over it" was not kept. Stevens says that his enemies had not the
courage to do this, or even to bring up their "fortification," meaning
their fire-wagon with its shield of planks. In fact, an open assault upon a
fortified place was a thing unknown in this border warfare, whether waged
by Indians alone, or by French and Indians together. The assailants only
raised the war-whoop again, and fired, as before, from behind stumps, logs,
and bushes. This amusement they kept up from two o'clock till night, when
they grew bolder, approached nearer, and shot flights of fire-arrows into
the fort, which, water being abundant, were harmless as their bullets. At
daylight they gave over this exercise, called out "Good morning!" to the
garrison, and asked for a suspension of arms for two hours. This being
agreed to, another flag of truce presently appeared, carried by two
Indians, who planted it in the ground within a stone's throw of the fort,
and asked that two men should be sent out to confer with them. This was
done, and the men soon came back with a proposal that Stevens should sell
provisions to his besiegers, under a promise on their part that they would
give him no farther trouble. He answered that he would not sell them
provisions for money, but would exchange them for prisoners, and give five
bushels of Indian corn for every hostage placed in his hands as security
for the release of an English captive in Canada. To this their only answer
was firing a few shots against the fort, after which they all disappeared,
and were seen no more. The garrison had scarcely eaten or slept for three
days. "I believe men were never known to hold out with better resolution,"
writes Stevens; and "though there were some thousands of guns shot at us,
we had but two men slightly wounded, John Brown and Joseph Ely." [Footnote:
_Stevens to Colonel W. Williams,--April, 1747._]

Niverville and his party, disappointed and hungry, now made a tour among
the scattered farms and hamlets of the country below, which, incapable of
resisting such an inroad, were abandoned at their approach. Thus they took
an easy revenge for their rebuff at Number Four, and in a march of thirty
or forty leagues, burned five small deserted forts or stockaded houses,
"three meeting-houses, several fine barns, about one hundred dwellings,
mostly of two stories, furnished even to chests of drawers, and killed five
to six hundred sheep and hogs, and about thirty horned cattle. This
devastation is well worth a few prisoners or scalps." [Footnote: _N. Y.
Col. Docs._, X. 97.] It is curious to find such exploits mentioned with
complacency, as evidence of prowess.

The successful defence of the most exposed place on the frontier was
welcome news throughout New England, and Commodore Charles Knowles, who was
then at Boston, sent Stevens a silver-hilted sword in recognition of his
conduct. The settlers of Number Four, who soon returned to their backwoods
home, were so well pleased with this compliment to one of their fellows
that they gave to the settlement the baptismal name of the Commodore, and
the town that has succeeded the hamlet of Number Four is Charlestown to
this day. [Footnote: Just after the withdrawal of the French and Indians,
Stevens wrote two letters giving an account of the affair, one to Governor
Shirley, and the other to Colonel William Williams, who seems to have been
his immediate military superior. At most points they are substantially the
same; but that to Williams contains some passages not found in the other.
The letter to Shirley is printed in Saunderson, _History of Charlestown,
N. H._, 34-37, and that to Williams in _Collections of the New
Hampshire Historical Society_, IV. 109-113. Stevens also kept a diary,
which was long in possession of his descendants. One of these, Mr. B. F.
Stevens, kindly made a search for it, at my request, and learned that it
had been unfortunately destroyed by fire, in 1856. Doolittle, in his
_Narrative of Mischief_, and Hoyt, in his _Antiquarian Researches_,
give other accounts. The French notices of the affair are few and short, as
usual in cases of failure. For the principal one, see _N. Y. Col. Docs.,_
X. 97. It is here said that Stevens asked for a parley, in order to
capitulate; but all the English accounts say that the French made the first





Since the last war, the settlements of Massachusetts had pushed westward
and begun to invade the beautiful region of mountains and valleys that now
forms Berkshire. Villages, or rudiments of villages, had grown up on the
Housatonic, and an establishment had been attempted at Pontoosuc, now
Pittsfield, on the extreme western limits of the province. The position of
these new settlements was critical, for the enemy could reach them with
little difficulty by way of Lake Champlain and Wood Creek. The
Massachusetts Government was not unmindful of them, and when war again
broke out, three wooden forts were built for their protection, forming a
line of defence westward from Northfield on the northern frontier of the
province. One of these forts was in the present town of Heath, and was
called Fort Shirley; another, named Fort Pelham, was in the present town of
Rowe; while the third, Fort Massachusetts, was farther westward, in what is
now the town of Adams, then known as East Hoosac. Two hundred men from the
militia were taken into pay to hold these posts and patrol the intervening
forests. Other defensive works were made here and there, sometimes by the
votes of town meetings, and sometimes by individuals, at their own cost.
These works consisted of a fence of palisades enclosing a farm-house, or
sometimes of a blockhouse of timber or heavy planks. Thus, at Northfield,
Deacon Ebenezer Alexander, a veteran of sixty who had served at Louisbourg,
built a "mount," or blockhouse, on the knoll behind his house, and carried
a stockade from it to enclose the dwelling, shed, and barn, the whole at


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