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Removal of the Acadians

State of Acadia.  Threatened Invasion.  Peril of the English.  Their Plans. 
French Forts to be attacked.  Beauséjour and its Occupants.  French
Treatment of the Acadians.  John Winslow.  Siege and Capture of
Beauséjour.  Attitude of Acadians.  Influence of their Priests.  They
refuse the Oath of Allegiance.  Their Condition and Character.  Pretended
Neutrals.  Moderation of English Authorities.  The Acadians persist in
their Refusal.  Enemies or Subjects?  Choice of the Acadians.  The
Consequence.  Their Removal determined.  Winslow at Grand Pré.  Conference
with Murray.  Summons to the Inhabitants.  Their Seizure.  Their
Embarkation.  Their Fate.  Their Treatment in Canada.  Misapprehension
concerning them.

Chapter 8


Removal of the Acadians

By the plan which the Duke of Cumberland had ordained and Braddock had announced in the Council at Alexandria, four blows were to be struck at once to force back the French boundaries, lop off the dependencies of Canada, and reduce her from a vast territory to a petty province.  The first stroke had failed, and had shattered the hand of the striker; it remains to see what fortune awaited the others.

It was long since a project of purging Acadia of French influence had germinated in the fertile mind of Shirley.  We have seen in a former chapter the condition of that afflicted province.  Several thousands of its inhabitants, wrought upon by intriguing agents of the French Government, taught by their priests that fidelity to King Louis was inseparable from fidelity to God, and that to swear allegiance to the British Crown was eternal perdition; threatened with plunder and death at the hands of the savages whom the ferocious missionary, Le Loutre, held over them in terror,—­had abandoned, sometimes willingly, but oftener under constraint, the fields which they and their fathers had tilled, and crossing the boundary line of the Missaguash, had placed themselves under the French flag planted on the hill of Beauséjour.[240] Here, or in the neighborhood, many of them had remained, wretched and half starved; while others had been transported to Cape Breton, Isle St. Jean, or the coasts of the Gulf,—­not so far, however, that they could not on occasion be used to aid in an invasion of British Acadia.[241] Those of their countrymen who still lived under the British flag were chiefly the inhabitants of the district of Mines and of the valley of the River Annapolis, who, with other less important settlements, numbered a little more than nine thousand souls.  We have shown already, by the evidence of the French themselves, that neither they nor their emigrant countrymen had been oppressed or molested in matters temporal or spiritual, but that the English authorities, recognizing their value as an industrious population, had labored to reconcile them to a change of rulers which on the whole was to their advantage.  It has been shown also how, with a heartless perfidy and a reckless disregard of their welfare and safety, the French Government and its agents labored to keep them hostile to the Crown of which it had acknowledged them to be subjects.  The result was, that though they did not, like their emigrant countrymen, abandon their homes, they remained in a state of restless disaffection, refused to supply English garrisons with provisions, except at most exorbitant rates, smuggled their produce to the French across the line, gave them aid and intelligence, and sometimes disguised as Indians, robbed and murdered English settlers.  By the new-fangled construction of the treaty of Utrecht which the French boundary commissioners had devised,[242] more than half the Acadian peninsula, including nearly all the cultivated land and nearly all the population of French descent, was claimed as belonging to France, though England had held possession of it more than forty years.  Hence, according to the political ethics adopted at the time by both nations, it would be lawful for France to reclaim it by force.  England, on her part, it will be remembered, claimed vast tracts beyond the isthmus; and, on the same pretext, held that she might rightfully seize them and capture Beauséjour, with the other French garrisons that guarded them.

[Footnote 240:  See ante, Chapter 4.]

[Footnote 241:  Rameau (La France aux Colonies, I. 63), estimates the total emigration from 1748 to 1755 at 8,600 souls,—­which number seems much too large.  This writer, though vehemently anti-English, gives the following passage from a letter of a high French official:  “que les Acadiens émigrés et en grande misère comptaient se retirer à Québec et demander des terres, mais il conviendrait mieux qu’ils restent où ils sont, afin d’avoir le voisinage de l’Acadie bien peuplé et défriché, pour approvisionner l’Isle Royale [Cape Breton] et tomber en cas de guerre sur l’Acadie.”  Rameau, I. 133.]

[Footnote 242:  Supra, p. 102.]

On the part of France, an invasion of the Acadian peninsula seemed more than likely.  Honor demanded of her that, having incited the Acadians to disaffection, and so brought on them the indignation of the English authorities, she should intervene to save them from the consequences.  Moreover the loss of the Acadian peninsula had been gall and wormwood to her; and in losing it she had lost great material advantages.  Its possession was necessary to connect Canada with the Island of Cape Breton and the fortress of Louisbourg.  Its fertile fields and agricultural people would furnish subsistence to the troops and garrisons in the French maritime provinces, now dependent on supplies illicitly brought by New England traders, and liable to be cut off in time of war when they were needed most.  The harbors of Acadia, too, would be invaluable as naval stations from which to curb and threaten the northern English colonies.  Hence the intrigues so assiduously practised to keep the Acadians French at heart, and ready to throw off British rule at any favorable moment.  British officers believed that should a French squadron with a sufficient force of troops on board appear in the Bay of Fundy, the whole population on the Basin of Mines and along the Annapolis would rise in arms, and that the emigrants beyond the isthmus, armed and trained by French officers, would come to their aid.  This emigrant population, famishing in exile, looked back with regret to the farms they had abandoned; and, prevented as they were by Le Loutre and his colleagues from making their peace with the English, they would, if confident of success, have gladly joined an invading force to regain their homes by reconquering Acadia for Louis XV.  In other parts of the continent it was the interest of France to put off hostilities; if Acadia alone had been in question, it would have been her interest to precipitate them.

Her chances of success were good.  The French could at any time send troops from Louisbourg or Quebec to join those maintained upon the isthmus; and they had on their side of the lines a force of militia and Indians amounting to about two thousand, while the Acadians within the peninsula had about an equal number of fighting men who, while calling themselves neutrals, might be counted on to join the invaders.  The English were in no condition to withstand such an attack.  Their regular troops were scattered far and wide through the province, and were nowhere more than equal to the local requirement; while of militia, except those of Halifax, they had few or none whom they dared to trust.  Their fort at Annapolis was weak and dilapidated, and their other posts were mere stockades.  The strongest place in Acadia was the French fort of Beauséjour, in which the English saw a continual menace.  Their apprehensions were well grounded.  Duquesne, governor of Canada, wrote to Le Loutre, who virtually shared the control of Beauséjour with Vergor, its commandant:  “I invite both yourself and M. Vergor to devise a plausible pretext for attacking them [the English] vigorously."[243] Three weeks after this letter was written, Lawrence, governor of Nova Scotia, wrote to Shirley from Halifax:  “Being well informed that the French have designs of encroaching still farther upon His Majesty’s rights in this province, and that they propose, the moment they have repaired the fortifications of Louisbourg, to attack our fort at Chignecto [Fort Lawrence], I think it high time to make some effort to drive them from the north side of the Bay of Fundy."[244] This letter was brought to Boston by Lieutenant-Colonel Monckton, who was charged by Lawrence to propose to Shirley the raising of two thousand men in New England for the attack of Beauséjour and its dependent forts.  Almost at the moment when Lawrence was writing these proposals to Shirley, Shirley was writing with the same object to Lawrence, enclosing a letter from Sir Thomas Robinson, concerning which he said:  “I construe the contents to be orders to us to act in concert for taking any advantages to drive the French of Canada out of Nova Scotia.  If that is your sense of them, and your honor will be pleased to let me know whether you want any and what assistance to enable you to execute the orders, I will endeavor to send you such assistance from this province as you shall want."[245]

[Footnote 243:  Duquesne à Le Loutre, 15 Oct. 1754; extract in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 239.]

[Footnote 244:  Lawrence to Shirley, 5 Nov. 1754.  Instructions of Lawrence to Monckton, 1 Nov. 1754.]

[Footnote 245:  Shirley to Lawrence, 7 Nov. 1754.]

The letter of Sir Thomas Robinson, of which a duplicate had already been sent to Lawrence, was written in answer to one of Shirley informing the Minister that the Indians of Nova Scotia, prompted by the French, were about to make an attack on all the English settlements east of the Kennebec; whereupon Robinson wrote:  “You will without doubt have given immediate intelligence thereof to Colonel Lawrence, and will have concerted the properest measures with him for taking all possible advantage in Nova Scotia itself from the absence of those Indians, in case Mr. Lawrence shall have force enough to attack the forts erected by the French in those parts, without exposing the English settlements; and I am particularly to acquaint you that if you have not already entered into such a concert with Colonel Lawrence, it is His Majesty’s pleasure that you should immediately proceed thereupon."[246]

[Footnote 246:  Robinson to Shirley, 5 July, 1754.]

The Indian raid did not take place; but not the less did Shirley and Lawrence find in the Minister’s letter their authorization for the attack of Beauséjour.  Shirley wrote to Robinson that the expulsion of the French from the forts on the isthmus was a necessary measure of self-defence; that they meant to seize the whole country as far as Mines Basin, and probably as far as Annapolis, to supply their Acadian rebels with land; that of these they had, without reckoning Indians, fourteen hundred fighting men on or near the isthmus, and two hundred and fifty more on the St. John, with whom, aided by the garrison of Beauséjour, they could easily take Fort Lawrence; that should they succeed in this, the whole Acadian population would rise in arms, and the King would lose Nova Scotia.  We should anticipate them, concludes Shirley, and strike the first blow.[247]

[Footnote 247:  Shirley to Robinson, 8 Dec. 1754.  Ibid., 24 Jan. 1755.  The Record Office contains numerous other letters of Shirley on the subject.  “I am obliged to your Honor for communicating to me the French Mémoire, which, with other reasons, puts it out of doubt that the French are determined to begin an offensive war on the peninsula as soon as ever they shall think themselves strengthened enough to venture up it, and that they have thoughts of attempting it in the ensuing spring.  I enclose your Honor extracts from two letters from Annapolis Royal, which show that the French inhabitants are in expectation of its being begun in the spring.” Shirley to Lawrence, 6 Jan. 1755.]

He opened his plans to his Assembly in secret session, and found them of one mind with himself.  Preparation was nearly complete, and the men raised for the expedition, before the Council at Alexandria, recognized it as a part of a plan of the summer campaign.

The French fort of Beauséjour, mounted on its hill between the marshes of Missaguash and Tantemar, was a regular work, pentagonal in form, with solid earthern ramparts, bomb-proofs, and an armament of twenty-four cannon and one mortar.  The commandant, Duchambon de Vergor, a captain in the colony regulars, was a dull man of no education, of stuttering speech, unpleasing countenance, and doubtful character.  He owed his place to the notorious Intendant, Bigot, who it is said, was in his debt for disreputable service in an affair of gallantry, and who had ample means of enabling his friends to enrich themselves by defrauding the King.  Beauséjour was one of those plague-spots of official corruption which dotted the whole surface of New France.  Bigot, sailing for Europe in the summer of 1754, wrote thus to his confederate:  “Profit by your place, my dear Vergor; clip and cut—­you are free to do what you please—­so that you can come soon to join me in France and buy an estate near me."[248] Vergor did not neglect his opportunities.  Supplies in great quantities were sent from Quebec for the garrison and the emigrant Acadians.  These last got but a small part of them.  Vergor and his confederates sent the rest back to Quebec, or else to Louisbourg, and sold them for their own profit to the King’s agents there, who were also in collusion with him.

[Footnote 248:  Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.  This letter is also mentioned in another contemporary document, Mémoire sur les Fraudes commises dans la Colonie.]

Vergor, however, did not reign alone.  Le Loutre, by force of energy, capacity, and passionate vehemence, held him in some awe, and divided his authority.  The priest could count on the support of Duquesne, who had found, says a contemporary, that “he promised more than he could perform, and that he was a knave,” but who nevertheless felt compelled to rely upon him for keeping the Acadians on the side of France.  There was another person in the fort worthy of notice.  This was Thomas Pichon, commissary of stores, a man of education and intelligence, born in France of an English mother.  He was now acting the part of a traitor, carrying on a secret correspondence with the commandant of Fort Lawrence, and acquainting him with all that passed at Beauséjour.  It was partly from this source that the hostile designs of the French became known to the authorities of Halifax, and more especially the proceedings of “Moses,” by which name Pichon always designated Le Loutre, because he pretended to have led the Acadians from the land of bondage.[249]

[Footnote 249:  Pichon, called also Tyrrell from the name of his mother, was author of Genuine Letters and Memoirs relating to Cape Breton,—­a book of some value.  His papers are preserved at Halifax, and some of them are printed in the Public Documents of Nova Scotia.]

These exiles, who cannot be called self-exiled, in view of the outrageous means used to force most of them from their homes, were in a deplorable condition.  They lived in constant dread of Le Loutre, backed by Vergor and his soldiers.  The savage missionary, bad as he was, had in him an ingredient of honest fanaticism, both national and religious; though hatred of the English held a large share in it.  He would gladly, if he could, have forced the Acadians into a permanent settlement on the French side of the line, not out of love for them, but in the interest of the cause with which he had identified his own ambition.  His efforts had failed.  There was not land enough for their subsistence and that of the older settlers; and the suffering emigrants pined more and more for their deserted farms.  Thither he was resolved that they should not return.  “If you go,” he told them, “you will have neither priests nor sacraments, but will die like miserable wretches."[250] The assertion was false.  Priests and sacraments had never been denied them.  It is true that Daudin, priest of Pisiquid, had lately been sent to Halifax for using insolent language to the commandant, threatening him with an insurrection of the inhabitants, and exciting them to sedition; but on his promise to change conduct, he was sent back to his parishioners.[251] Vergor sustained Le Loutre, and threatened to put in irons any of the exiles who talked of going back to the English.  Some of them bethought themselves of an appeal to Duquesne, and drew up a petition asking leave to return home.  Le Loutre told the signers that if they did not efface their marks from the paper they should have neither sacraments in this life nor heaven in the next.  He nevertheless allowed two of them to go to Quebec as deputies, writing at the same time to the Governor, that his mind might be duly prepared.  Duquesne replied:  “I think that the two rascals of deputies whom you sent me will not soon recover from the fright I gave them, notwithstanding the emollient I administered after my reprimand; and since I told them that they were indebted to you for not being allowed to rot in a dungeon, they have promised me to comply with your wishes."[252]

[Footnote 250:  Pichon to Captain Scott, 14 Oct. 1754, in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 229.]

[Footnote 251:  Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 223, 224, 226, 227, 238.]

[Footnote 252:  Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 239.]

An entire heartlessness marked the dealings of the French authorities with the Acadians.  They were treated as mere tools of policy, to be used, broken, and flung away.  Yet, in using them, the sole condition of their efficiency was neglected.  The French Government, cheated of enormous sums by its own ravenous agents, grudged the cost of sending a single regiment to the Acadian border.  Thus unsupported, the Acadians remained in fear and vacillation, aiding the French but feebly, though a ceaseless annoyance and menace to the English.

This was the state of affairs at Beauséjour while Shirley and Lawrence were planning its destruction.  Lawrence had empowered his agent, Monckton, to draw without limit on two Boston merchants, Apthorp and Hancock.  Shirley, as commander-in-chief of the province of Massachusetts, commissioned John Winslow to raise two thousand volunteers.  Winslow was sprung from the early governors of Plymouth colony; but, though well-born, he was ill-educated, which did not prevent him from being both popular and influential.  He had strong military inclinations, had led a company of his own raising in the luckless attack on Carthagena, had commanded the force sent in the preceding summer to occupy the Kennebec, and on various other occasions had left his Marshfield farm to serve his country.  The men enlisted readily at his call, and were formed into a regiment, of which Shirley made himself the nominal colonel.  It had two battalions, of which Winslow, as lieutenant-colonel, commanded the first, and George Scott the second, both under the orders of Monckton.  Country villages far and near, from the western borders of the Connecticut to uttermost Cape Cod, lent soldiers to the new regiment.  The muster-rolls preserve their names, vocations, birthplaces, and abode.  Obadiah, Nehemiah, Jedediah, Jonathan, Ebenezer, Joshua, and the like Old Testament names abound upon the list.  Some are set down as “farmers,” “yeomen,” or “husbandmen;” others as “shopkeepers,” others as “fishermen,” and many as “laborers;” while a great number were handicraftsmen of various trades, from blacksmiths to wig-makers.  They mustered at Boston early in April, where clothing, haversacks, and blankets were served out to them at the charge of the King; and the crooked streets of the New England capital were filled with staring young rustics.  On the next Saturday the following mandate went forth:  “The men will behave very orderly on the Sabbath Day, and either stay on board their transports, or else go to church, and not stroll up and down the streets.”  The transports, consisting of about forty sloops and schooners, lay at Long Wharf; and here on Monday a grand review took place,—­to the gratification, no doubt, of a populace whose amusements were few.  All was ready except the muskets, which were expected from England, but did not come.  Hence the delay of a month, threatening to ruin the enterprise.  When Shirley returned from Alexandria he found, to his disgust, that the transports still lay at the wharf where he had left them on his departure.[253] The muskets arrived at length, and the fleet sailed on the twenty-second of May.  Three small frigates, the “Success,” the “Mermaid,” and the “Siren,” commanded by the ex-privateersman, Captain Rous, acted as convoy; and on the twenty-sixth the whole force safely reached Annapolis.  Thence after some delay they sailed up the Bay of Fundy, and at sunset on the first of June anchored within five miles of the hill of Beauséjour.

[Footnote 253:  Shirley to Robinson, 20 June, 1755.]

At two o’clock on the next morning a party of Acadians from Chipody roused Vergor with the news.  In great alarm, he sent a messenger to Louisbourg to beg for help, and ordered all the fighting men of the neighborhood to repair to the fort.  They counted in all between twelve and fifteen hundred;[254] but they had no appetite for war.  The force of the invaders daunted them; and the hundred and sixty regulars who formed the garrison of Beauséjour were too few to revive their confidence.  Those of them who had crossed from the English side dreaded what might ensue should they be caught in arms; and, to prepare an excuse beforehand, they begged Vergor to threaten them with punishment if they disobeyed his order.  He willingly complied, promised to have them killed if they did not fight, and assured them at the same time that the English could never take the fort.[255] Three hundred of them thereupon joined the garrison, and the rest, hiding their families in the woods, prepared to wage guerilla war against the invaders.

[Footnote 254:  Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760. An English document, State of the English and French Forts in Nova Scotia, says 1,200 to 1,400.]

[Footnote 255:  Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]

Monckton, with all his force, landed unopposed, and encamped at night on the fields around Fort Lawrence, whence he could contemplate Fort Beauséjour at his ease.  The regulars of the English garrison joined the New England men; and then, on the morning of the fourth, they marched to the attack.  Their course lay along the south bank of the Missaguash to where it was crossed by a bridge called Pont-à-Buot.  This bridge had been destroyed; and on the farther bank there was a large blockhouse and a breastwork of timber defended by four hundred regulars, Acadians, and Indians.  They lay silent and unseen till the head of the column reached the opposite bank; then raised a yell and opened fire, causing some loss.  Three field-pieces were brought up, the defenders were driven out, and a bridge was laid under a spattering fusillade from behind bushes, which continued till the English had crossed the stream.  Without further opposition, they marched along the road to Beauséjour, and, turning to the right, encamped among the woody hills half a league from the fort.  That night there was a grand illumination, for Vergor set fire to the church and all the houses outside the ramparts.[256]

[Footnote 256:  Winslow, Journal and Letter Book.  Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.  Letters from officers on the spot in Boston Evening Post and Boston News Letter.  Journal of Surgeon John Thomas.]

The English spent some days in preparing their camp and reconnoitring the ground.  Then Scott, with five hundred provincials, seized upon a ridge within easy range of the works.  An officer named Vannes came out to oppose him with a hundred and eighty men, boasting that he would do great things; but on seeing the enemy, quietly returned, to become the laughing-stock of the garrison.  The fort fired furiously, but with little effect.  In the night of the thirteenth, Winslow, with a part of his own battalion, relieved Scott, and planted in the trenches two small mortars, brought to the camp on carts.  On the next day they opened fire.  One of them was disabled by the French cannon, but Captain Hazen brought up two more, of larger size, on ox-wagons; and, in spite of heavy rain, the fire was brisk on both sides.

Captain Rous, on board his ship in the harbor, watched the bombardment with great interest.  Having occasion to write to Winslow, he closed his letter in a facetious strain.  “I often hear of your success in plunder, particularly a coach.[257] I hope you have some fine horses for it, at least four, to draw it, that it may be said a New England colonel [rode in] his coach and four in Nova Scotia.  If you have any good saddle-horses in your stable, I should be obliged to you for one to ride round the ship’s deck on for exercise, for I am not likely to have any other.”

[Footnote 257:  “11 June.  Capt.  Adams went with a Company of Raingers, and Returned at 11 Clock with a Coach and Sum other Plunder.” Journal of John Thomas.]

Within the fort there was little promise of a strong defence.  Le Loutre, it is true, was to be seen in his shirt-sleeves, with a pipe in his mouth, directing the Acadians in their work of strengthening the fortifications.[258] They, on their part, thought more of escape than of fighting.  Some of them vainly begged to be allowed to go home; others went off without leave,—­which was not difficult, as only one side of the place was attacked.  Even among the officers there were some in whom interest was stronger than honor, and who would rather rob the King than die for him.  The general discouragement was redoubled when, on the fourteenth, a letter came from the commandant of Louisbourg to say that he could send no help, as British ships blocked the way.  On the morning of the sixteenth, a mischance befell, recorded in these words in the diary of Surgeon John Thomas:  “One of our large shells fell through what they called their bomb-proof, where a number of their officers were sitting, killed six of them dead, and one Ensign Hay, which the Indians had took prisoner a few days agone and carried to the fort.”  The party was at breakfast when the unwelcome visitor burst in.  Just opposite was a second bomb-proof, where was Vergor himself, with Le Loutre, another priest, and several officers, who felt that they might at any time share the same fate.  The effect was immediate.  The English, who had not yet got a single cannon into position, saw to their surprise a white flag raised on the rampart.  Some officers of the garrison protested against surrender; and Le Loutre, who thought that he had everything to fear at the hands of the victors, exclaimed that it was better to be buried under the ruins of the fort than to give it up; but all was in vain, and the valiant Vannes was sent out to propose terms of capitulation.  They were rejected, and others offered, to the following effect:  the garrison to march out with the honors of war and to be sent to Louisbourg at the charge of the King of England, but not to bear arms in America for the space of six months.  The Acadians to be pardoned the part they had just borne in the defence, “seeing that they had been compelled to take arms on pain of death.”  Confusion reigned all day at Beauséjour.  The Acadians went home loaded with plunder.  The French officers were so busy in drinking and pillaging that they could hardly be got away to sign the capitulation.  At the appointed hour, seven in the evening, Scott marched in with a body of provincials, raised the British flag on the ramparts, and saluted it by a general discharge of the French cannon, while Vergor as a last act of hospitality gave a supper to the officers.[259]

[Footnote 258:  Journal of Pichon, cited by Beamish Murdoch.]

[Footnote 259:  On the capture of Beauséjour, Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760; Pichon, Cape Breton, 318; Journal of Pichon, cited by Murdoch; and the English accounts already mentioned.]

Le Loutre was not to be found; he had escaped in disguise with his box of papers, and fled to Baye Verte to join his brother missionary, Manach.  Thence he made his way to Quebec, where the Bishop received him with reproaches.  He soon embarked for France; but the English captured him on the way, and kept him eight years in Elizabeth Castle, on the Island of Jersey.  Here on one occasion a soldier on guard made a dash at the father, tried to stab him with his bayonet, and was prevented with great difficulty.  He declared that, when he was with his regiment in Acadia, he had fallen into the hands of Le Loutre, and narrowly escaped being scalped alive, the missionary having doomed him to this fate, and with his own hand drawn a knife round his head as a beginning of the operation.  The man swore so fiercely that he would have his revenge, that the officer in command transferred him to another post.[260]

[Footnote 260:  Knox, Campaigns in North America, I. 114, note.  Knox, who was stationed in Nova Scotia, says that Le Loutre left behind him “a most remarkable character for inhumanity.”]

Throughout the siege, the Acadians outside the fort, aided by Indians, had constantly attacked the English, but were always beaten off with loss.  There was an affair of this kind on the morning of the surrender, during which a noted Micmac chief was shot, and being brought into the camp, recounted the losses of his tribe; “after which, and taking a dram or two, he quickly died,” writes Winslow in his Journal.

Fort Gaspereau, at Baye Verte, twelve miles distant, was summoned by letter to surrender.  Villeray, its commandant, at once complied; and Winslow went with a detachment to take possession.[261] Nothing remained but to occupy the French post at the mouth of the St. John.  Captain Rous, relieved at last from inactivity, was charged with the task; and on the thirtieth he appeared off the harbor, manned his boats, and rowed for shore.  The French burned their fort, and withdrew beyond his reach.[262] A hundred and fifty Indians, suddenly converted from enemies to pretended friends, stood on the strand, firing their guns into the air as a salute, and declaring themselves brothers of the English.  All Acadia was now in British hands.  Fort Beausejour became Fort Cumberland,—­the second fort in America that bore the name of the royal Duke.

[Footnote 261:  Winslow, Journal.  Villeray au Ministre, 20 Sept. 1755.]

[Footnote 262:  Drucour au Ministre, 1 Déc. 1755.]

The defence had been of the feeblest.  Two years later, on pressing demands from Versailles, Vergor was brought to trial, as was also Villeray.  The Governor, Vaudreuil, and the Intendant, Bigot, who had returned to Canada, were in the interest of the chief defendant.  The court-martial was packed; adverse evidence was shuffled out of sight; and Vergor, acquitted and restored to his rank, lived to inflict on New France another and a greater injury.[263]

[Footnote 263:  Memoire sur les Fraudes commises dans la Colonie, 1759. Memoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]

Now began the first act of a deplorable drama.  Monckton, with his small body of regulars, had pitched their tents under the walls of Beauséjour.  Winslow and Scott, with the New England troops, lay not far off.  There was little intercourse between the two camps.  The British officers bore themselves towards those of the provincials with a supercilious coldness common enough on their part throughout the war.  July had passed in what Winslow calls “an indolent manner,” with prayers every day in the Puritan camp, when, early in August, Monckton sent for him, and made an ominous declaration.  “The said Monckton was so free as to acquaint me that it was determined to remove all the French inhabitants out of the province, and that he should send for all the adult males from Tantemar, Chipody, Aulac, Beauséjour, and Baye Verte to read the Governor’s orders; and when that was done, was determined to retain them all prisoners in the fort.  And this is the first conference of a public nature I have had with the colonel since the reduction of Beauséjour; and I apprehend that no officer of either corps has been made more free with.”

Monckton sent accordingly to all the neighboring settlements, commanding the male inhabitants to meet him at Beauséjour.  Scarcely a third part of their number obeyed.  These arrived on the tenth, and were told to stay all night under the guns of the fort.  What then befell them will appear from an entry in the diary of Winslow under date of August eleventh:  “This day was one extraordinary to the inhabitants of Tantemar, Oueskak, Aulac, Baye Verte, Beauséjour, and places adjacent; the male inhabitants, or the principal of them, being collected together in Fort Cumberland to hear the sentence, which determined their property, from the Governor and Council of Halifax; which was that they were declared rebels, their lands, goods, and chattels forfeited to the Crown, and their bodies to be imprisoned.  Upon which the gates of the fort were shut, and they all confined, to the amount of four hundred men and upwards.”  Parties were sent to gather more, but caught very few, the rest escaping to the woods.

Some of the prisoners were no doubt among those who had joined the garrison at Beauséjour, and had been pardoned for doing so by the terms of the capitulation.  It was held, however, that, though forgiven this special offence, they were not exempted from the doom that had gone forth against the great body of their countrymen.  We must look closely at the motives and execution of this stern sentence.

At any time up to the spring of 1755 the emigrant Acadians were free to return to their homes on taking the ordinary oath of allegiance required of British subjects.  The English authorities of Halifax used every means to persuade them to do so; yet the greater part refused.  This was due not only to Le Loutre and his brother priests, backed by the military power, but also to the Bishop of Quebec, who enjoined the Acadians to demand of the English certain concessions, the chief of which were that the priests should exercise their functions without being required to ask leave of the Governor, and that the inhabitants should not be called upon for military service of any kind.  The Bishop added that the provisions of the treaty of Utrecht were insufficient, and that others ought to be exacted.[264] The oral declaration of the English authorities, that for the present the Acadians should not be required to bear arms, was not thought enough.  They, or rather their prompters, demanded a written pledge.

[Footnote 264:  L’Evéque de Quebec à Le Loutre, Nov. 1754, in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 240.]

The refusal to take the oath without reservation was not confined to the emigrants.  Those who remained in the peninsula equally refused it, though most of them were born and had always lived under the British flag.  Far from pledging themselves to complete allegiance, they showed continual signs of hostility.  In May three pretended French deserters were detected among them inciting them to take arms against the English.[265]

[Footnote 265:  Ibid., 242.]

On the capture of Beauséjour the British authorities found themselves in a position of great difficulty.  The New England troops were enlisted for the year only, and could not be kept in Acadia.  It was likely that the French would make a strong effort to recover the province, sure as they were of support from the great body of its people.  The presence of this disaffected population was for the French commanders a continual inducement to invasion; and Lawrence was not strong enough to cope at once with attack from without and insurrection from within.

Shirley had held for some time that there was no safety for Acadia but in ridding it of the Acadians.  He had lately proposed that the lands of the district of Chignecto, abandoned by their emigrant owners, should be given to English settlers, who would act as a check and a counterpoise to the neighboring French population.  This advice had not been acted upon.  Nevertheless Shirley and his brother Governor of Nova Scotia were kindred spirits, and inclined to similar measures.  Colonel Charles Lawrence had not the good-nature and conciliatory temper which marked his predecessors, Cornwallis and Hopson.  His energetic will was not apt to relent under the softer sentiments, and the behavior of the Acadians was fast exhausting his patience.  More than a year before, the Lords of Trade had instructed him that they had no right to their lands if they persisted in refusing the oath.[266] Lawrence replied, enlarging on their obstinacy, treachery, and “ingratitude for the favor, indulgence, and protection they have at all times so undeservedly received from His Majesty’s Government;” declaring at the same time that, “while they remain without taking the oaths, and have incendiary French priests among them, there are no hopes of their amendment;” and that “it would be much better, if they refuse the oaths, that they were away."[267] “We were in hopes,” again wrote the Lords of Trade, “that the lenity which had been shown to those people by indulging them in the free exercise of their religion and the quiet possession of their lands, would by degrees have gained their friendship and assistance, and weaned their affections from the French; but we are sorry to find that this lenity has had so little effect, and that they still hold the same conduct, furnishing them with labor, provisions, and intelligence, and concealing their designs from us.”  In fact, the Acadians, while calling themselves neutrals, were an enemy encamped in the heart of the province.  These are the reasons which explain and palliate a measure too harsh and indiscriminate to be wholly justified.

[Footnote 266:  Lords of Trade to Lawrence, 4 March, 1754.]

[Footnote 267:  Lawrence to Lords of Trade, 1 Aug. 1754.]

Abbé Raynal, who never saw the Acadians, has made an ideal picture of them,[268] since copied and improved in prose and verse, till Acadia has become Arcadia.  The plain realities of their condition and fate are touching enough to need no exaggeration.  They were a simple and very ignorant peasantry, industrious and frugal till evil days came to discourage them; living aloof from the world, with little of that spirit of adventure which an easy access to the vast fur-bearing interior had developed in their Canadian kindred; having few wants, and those of the rudest; fishing a little and hunting in the winter, but chiefly employed in cultivating the meadows along the River Annapolis, or rich marshes reclaimed by dikes from the tides of the Bay of Fundy.  The British Government left them entirely free of taxation.  They made clothing of flax and wool of their own raising, hats of similar materials, and shoes or moccasons of moose and seal skin.  They bred cattle, sheep, hogs, and horses in abundance; and the valley of the Annapolis, then as now, was known for the profusion and excellence of its apples.  For drink, they made cider or brewed spruce-beer.  French officials describe their dwellings as wretched wooden boxes, without ornaments or conveniences, and scarcely supplied with the most necessary furniture.[269] Two or more families often occupied the same house; and their way of life, though simple and virtuous, was by no means remarkable for cleanliness.  Such as it was, contentment reigned among them, undisturbed by what modern America calls progress.  Marriages were early, and population grew apace.  This humble society had its disturbing elements; for the Acadians, like the Canadians, were a litigious race, and neighbors often quarrelled about their boundaries.  Nor were they without a bountiful share of jealousy, gossip, and backbiting, to relieve the monotony of their lives; and every village had its turbulent spirits, sometimes by fits, though rarely long, contumacious even toward the curé, the guide, counsellor, and ruler of his flock.  Enfeebled by hereditary mental subjection, and too long kept in leading-strings to walk alone, they needed him, not for the next world only, but for this; and their submission, compounded of love and fear, was commonly without bounds.  He was their true government; to him they gave a frank and full allegiance, and dared not disobey him if they would.  Of knowledge he gave them nothing; but he taught them to be true to their wives and constant at confession and Mass, to stand fast for the Church and King Louis, and to resist heresy and King George; for, in one degree or another, the Acadian priest was always the agent of a double-headed foreign power,—­the Bishop of Quebec allied with the Governor of Canada.[270]

[Footnote 268:  Histoire philosophique et politique, VI. 242 (ed. 1772).]

[Footnote 269:  Beauharnois et Hocquart au Comte de Maurepas, 12 Sept. 1745._]

[Footnote 270:  Franquet, Journal, 1751, says of the Acadians:  “Ils aiment l’argent, n’ont dans toute leur conduite que leur intérêt pour objet, sont, indifféremment des deux sexes, d’une inconsidération dans leurs discours qui dénote de la méchanceté.”  Another observer, Dieréville, gives a more favorable picture.]

When Monckton and the Massachusetts men laid siege to Beauséjour, Governor Lawrence thought the moment favorable for exacting an unqualified oath of allegiance from the Acadians.  The presence of a superior and victorious force would help, he thought, to bring them to reason; and there were some indications that this would be the result.  A number of Acadian families, who at the promptings of Le Loutre had emigrated to Cape Breton, had lately returned to Halifax, promising to be true subjects of King George if they could be allowed to repossess their lands.  They cheerfully took the oath; on which they were reinstated in their old homes, and supplied with food for the winter.[271] Their example unfortunately found few imitators.

[Footnote 271:  Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 228.]

Early in June the principal inhabitants of Grand Pré and other settlements about the Basin of Mines brought a memorial, signed with their crosses, to Captain Murray, the military commandant in their district, and desired him to send it to Governor Lawrence, to whom it was addressed.  Murray reported that when they brought it to him they behaved with the greatest insolence, though just before they had been unusually submissive.  He thought that this change of demeanor was caused by a report which had lately got among them of a French fleet in the Bay of Fundy; for it had been observed that any rumor of an approaching French force always had a similar effect.  The deputies who brought the memorial were sent with it to Halifax, where they laid it before the Governor and Council.  It declared that the signers had kept the qualified oath they had taken, “in spite of the solicitations and dreadful threats of another power,” and that they would continue to prove “an unshaken fidelity to His Majesty, provided that His Majesty shall allow us the same liberty that he has [hitherto] granted us.”  Their memorial then demanded, in terms highly offensive to the Council, that the guns, pistols, and other weapons, which they had lately been required to give up, should be returned to them.  They were told in reply that they had been protected for many years in the enjoyment of their lands, though they had not complied with the terms on which the lands were granted; “that they had always been treated by the Government with the greatest lenity and tenderness, had enjoyed more privileges than other English subjects, and had been indulged in the free exercise of their religion;” all which they acknowledged to be true.  The Governor then told them that their conduct had been undutiful and ungrateful; “that they had discovered a constant disposition to assist His Majesty’s enemies and to distress his subjects; that they had not only furnished the enemy with provisions and ammunition, but had refused to supply the [English] inhabitants or Government, and when they did supply them, had exacted three times the price for which they were sold at other markets.”  The hope was then expressed that they would no longer obstruct the settlement of the province by aiding the Indians to molest and kill English settlers; and they were rebuked for saying in their memorial that they would be faithful to the King only on certain conditions.  The Governor added that they had some secret reason for demanding their weapons, and flattered themselves that French troops were at hand to support their insolence.  In conclusion, they were told that now was a good opportunity to prove their sincerity by taking the oath of allegiance, in the usual form, before the Council.  They replied that they had not made up their minds on that point, and could do nothing till they had consulted their constituents.  Being reminded that the oath was personal to themselves, and that six years had already been given them to think about it, they asked leave to retire and confer together.  This was granted, and at the end of an hour they came back with the same answer as before; whereupon they were allowed till ten o’clock on the next morning for a final decision.[272]

[Footnote 272:  Minutes of Council at Halifax, 3 July, 1755, in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 247-255.]

At the appointed time the Council again met, and the deputies were brought in.  They persisted stubbornly in the same refusal.  “They were then informed,” says the record, “that the Council could no longer look on them as subjects to His Britannic Majesty, but as subjects to the King of France, and as such they must hereafter be treated; and they were ordered to withdraw.”  A discussion followed in the Council.  It was determined that the Acadians should be ordered to send new deputies to Halifax, who should answer for them, once for all, whether they would accept the oath or not; that such as refused it should not thereafter be permitted to take it; and “that effectual measures ought to be taken to remove all such recusants out of the province.”

The deputies, being then called in and told this decision, became alarmed, and offered to swear allegiance in the terms required.  The answer was that it was too late; that as they had refused the oath under persuasion, they could not be trusted when they took it under compulsion.  It remained to see whether the people at large would profit by their example.

“I am determined,” wrote Lawrence to the Lords of Trade, “to bring the inhabitants to a compliance, or rid the province of such perfidious subjects."[273] First, in answer to the summons of the Council, the deputies from Annapolis appeared, declaring that they had always been faithful to the British Crown, but flatly refusing the oath.  They were told that, far from having been faithful subjects, they had always secretly aided the Indians, and that many of them had been in arms against the English; that the French were threatening the province; and that its affairs had reached a crisis when its inhabitants must either pledge themselves without equivocation to be true to the British Crown, or else must leave the country.  They all declared that they would lose their lands rather than take the oath.  The Council urged them to consider the matter seriously, warning them that, if they now persisted in refusal, no farther choice would be allowed them; and they were given till ten o’clock on the following Monday to make their final answer.

[Footnote 273:  Lawrence to Lords of Trade, 18 July, 1755.]

When that day came, another body of deputies had arrived from Grand Pré and the other settlements of the Basin of Mines; and being called before the Council, both they and the former deputation absolutely refused to take the oath of allegiance.  These two bodies represented nine tenths of the Acadian population within the peninsula.  “Nothing,” pursues the record of the Council, “now remained to be considered but what measures should be taken to send the inhabitants away, and where they should be sent to.”  If they were sent to Canada, Cape Breton, or the neighboring islands, they would strengthen the enemy, and still threaten the province.  It was therefore resolved to distribute them among the various English colonies, and to hire vessels for the purpose with all despatch.[274]

[Footnote 274:  Minutes of Council, 4 July—­28 July, in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 255-267.  Copies of these and other parts of the record were sent at the time to England, and are now in the Public Record Office, along with the letters of Lawrence.]

The oath, the refusal of which had brought such consequences, was a simple pledge of fidelity and allegiance to King George II. and his successors.  Many of the Acadians had already taken an oath of fidelity, though with the omission of the word “allegiance,” and, as they insisted, with a saving clause exempting them from bearing arms.  The effect of this was that they did not regard themselves as British subjects, and claimed, falsely as regards most of them, the character of neutrals.  It was to put an end to this anomalous state of things that the oath without reserve had been demanded of them.  Their rejection of it, reiterated in full view of the consequences, is to be ascribed partly to a fixed belief that the English would not execute their threats, partly to ties of race and kin, but mainly to superstition.  They feared to take part with heretics against the King of France, whose cause, as already stated, they had been taught to regard as one with the cause of God; they were constrained by the dread of perdition.  “If the Acadians are miserable, remember that the priests are the cause of it,” writes the French officer Boishébert to the missionary Manach.[275]

[Footnote 275:  On the oath and his history, compare a long note by Mr. Akin in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 263-267.  Winslow in his Journal gives an abstract of a memorial sent him by the Acadians, in which they say that they had refused the oath, and so forfeited their lands, from motives of religion.  I have shown in a former chapter that the priests had been the chief instruments in preventing them from accepting the English government.  Add the following:—­

“Les malheurs des Accadiens sont beaucoup moins leur ouvrage que le fruit des sollicitations et des démarches des missionnaires.” Vaudreuil au Ministre, 6 Mai, 1760.

“Si nous avons la guerre, et si les Accadiens sont misérables, souvenez vous que ce sont les prêtres qui en sont la cause.” Boishébert á Manach, 21 Fév. 1760.  Both these writers had encouraged the priests in their intrigues so long as there were likely to profit the French Government, and only blamed them after they failed to accomplished what was expected of them.

“Nous avons six missionnaires dont l’occupation perpetuelle est de porter les esprits au fanatisme et à la vengeance....  Je ne puis supporter dans nos prêtres ces odieuses déclamations qu’ils font tous les jours aux sauvages:  ’Les Anglois sont les ennemis de Dieu, les compagnons du Diable.’” Pichon, Lettres et Mémoires pour servir à l’Histoire du Cap-Breton, 160, 161. (La Haye, 1760.)]

The Council having come to a decision, Lawrence acquainted Monckton with the result, and ordered him to seize all the adult males in the neighborhood of Beauséjour; and this, as we have seen, he promptly did.  It remains to observe how the rest of the sentence was carried into effect.

Instructions were sent to Winslow to secure the inhabitants on or near the Basin of Mines and place them on board transports, which, he was told, would soon arrive from Boston.  His orders were stringent:  “If you find that fair means will not do with them, you must proceed by the most vigorous measures possible, not only in compelling them to embark, but in depriving those who shall escape of all means of shelter or support, by burning their houses and by destroying everything that may afford them the means of subsistence in the country.”  Similar orders were given to Major Handfield, the regular officer in command at Annapolis.

On the fourteenth of August Winslow set out from his camp at Fort Beauséjour, or Cumberland, on his unenviable errand.  He had with him but two hundred and ninety-seven men.  His mood of mind was not serene.  He was chafed because the regulars had charged his men with stealing sheep; and he was doubly vexed by an untoward incident that happened on the morning of his departure.  He had sent forward his detachment under Adams, the senior captain, and they were marching by the fort with drums beating and colors flying, when Monckton sent out his aide-de-camp with a curt demand that the colors should be given up, on the ground that they ought to remain with the regiment.  Whatever the soundness of the reason, there was no courtesy in the manner of enforcing it.  “This transaction raised my temper some,” writes Winslow in his Diary; and he proceeds to record his opinion that “it is the most ungenteel, ill-natured thing that ever I saw.”  He sent Monckton a quaintly indignant note, in which he observed that the affair “looks odd, and will appear so in future history;” but his commander, reckless of the judgments of posterity, gave him little satisfaction.

Thus ruffled in spirit, he embarked with his men and sailed down Chignecto Channel to the Bay of Fundy.  Here, while they waited the turn of the tide to enter the Basin of Mines, the shores of Cumberland lay before them dim in the hot and hazy air, and the promontory of Cape Split, like some misshapen monster of primeval chaos, stretched its portentous length along the glimmering sea, with head of yawning rock, and ridgy back bristled with forests.  Borne on the rushing flood, they soon drifted through the inlet, glided under the rival promontory of Cape Blomedon, passed the red sandstone cliffs of Lyon’s Cove, and descried the mouths of the rivers Canard and Des Habitants, where fertile marshes, diked against the tide, sustained a numerous and thriving population.  Before them spread the boundless meadows of Grand Pré, waving with harvests or alive with grazing cattle; the green slopes behind were dotted with the simple dwellings of the Acadian farmers, and the spire of the village church rose against a background of woody hills.  It was a peaceful, rural scene, soon to become one of the most wretched spots on earth.  Winslow did not land for the present, but held his course to the estuary of the River Pisiquid, since called the Avon.  Here, where the town of Windsor now stands, there was a stockade called Fort Edward, where a garrison of regulars under Captain Alexander Murray kept watch over the surrounding settlements.  The New England men pitched their tents on shore, while the sloops that had brought them slept on the soft bed of tawny mud left by the fallen tide.

Winslow found a warm reception, for Murray and his officers had been reduced too long to their own society not to welcome the coming of strangers.  The two commanders conferred together.  Both had been ordered by Lawrence to “clear the whole country of such bad subjects;” and the methods of doing so had been outlined for their guidance.  Having come to some understanding with his brother officer concerning the duties imposed on both, and begun an acquaintance which soon grew cordial on both sides, Winslow embarked again and retraced his course to Grand Pré, the station which the Governor had assigned him.  “Am pleased,” he wrote to Lawrence, “with the place proposed by your Excellency for our reception [the village church].  I have sent for the elders to remove all sacred things, to prevent their being defiled by heretics.”  The church was used as a storehouse and place of arms; the men pitched their tents between it and the graveyard; while Winslow took up his quarters in the house of the priest, where he could look from his window on a tranquil scene.  Beyond the vast tract of grassland to which Grand Pré owed its name, spread the blue glistening breast of the Basin of Mines; beyond this again, the distant mountains of Cobequid basked in the summer sun; and nearer, on the left, Cape Blomedon reared its bluff head of rock and forest above the sleeping waves.

As the men of the settlement greatly outnumbered his own, Winslow set his followers to surrounding the camp with a stockade.  Card-playing was forbidden, because it encouraged idleness, and pitching quoits in camp, because it spoiled the grass.  Presently there came a letter from Lawrence expressing a fear that the fortifying of the camp might alarm the inhabitants.  To which Winslow replied that the making of the stockade had not alarmed them in the least, since they took it as a proof that the detachment was to spend the winter with them; and he added, that as the harvest was not yet got in, he and Murray had agreed not to publish the Governor’s commands till the next Friday.  He concludes:  “Although it is a disagreeable part of duty we are put upon, I am sensible it is a necessary one, and shall endeavor strictly to obey your Excellency’s orders.”

On the thirtieth, Murray, whose post was not many miles distant, made him a visit.  They agreed that Winslow should summon all the male inhabitants about Grand Pré to meet him at the church and hear the King’s orders, and that Murray should do the same for those around Fort Edward.  Winslow then called in his three captains,—­Adams, Hobbs, and Osgood,—­made them swear secrecy, and laid before them his instructions and plans; which latter they approved.  Murray then returned to his post, and on the next day sent Winslow a note containing the following:  “I think the sooner we strike the stroke the better, therefore will be glad to see you here as soon as conveniently you can.  I shall have the orders for assembling ready written for your approbation, only the day blank, and am hopeful everything will succeed according to our wishes.  The gentlemen join me in our best compliments to you and the Doctor.”

On the next day, Sunday, Winslow and the Doctor, whose name was Whitworth, made the tour of the neighborhood, with an escort of fifty men, and found a great quantity of wheat still on the fields.  On Tuesday Winslow “set out in a whale-boat with Dr. Whitworth and Adjutant Kennedy, to consult with Captain Murray in this critical conjuncture.”  They agreed that three in the afternoon of Friday should be the time of assembling; then between them they drew up a summons to the inhabitants, and got one Beauchamp, a merchant, to “put it into French.”  It ran as follows:—­

     By John Winslow, Esquire, Lieutenant-Colonel and Commander of His
     Majesty’s troops at Grand Pré, Mines, River Canard, and places

     To the inhabitants of the districts above named, as well ancients
     as young men and lads.

Whereas His Excellency the Governor has instructed us of his last resolution respecting the matters proposed lately to the inhabitants, and has ordered us to communicate the same to the inhabitants in general in person, His Excellency being desirous that each of them should be fully satisfied of His Majesty’s intentions, which he has also ordered us to communicate to you, such as they have been given him.
We therefore order and strictly enjoin by these presents to all the inhabitants, as well of the above-named districts as of all the other districts, both old men and young men, as well as all the lads of ten years of age, to attend at the church in Grand Pré on Friday, the fifth instant, at three of the clock in the afternoon, that we may impart what we are ordered to communicate to them; declaring that no excuse will be admitted on any pretence whatsoever, on pain of forfeiting goods and chattels in default.

     Given at Grand Pré, the second of September, in the twenty-ninth
     year of His Majesty’s reign, A.D. 1755.

A similar summons was drawn up in the name of Murray for the inhabitants of the district of Fort Edward.

Captain Adams made a reconnoissance of the rivers Canard and Des Habitants, and reported “a fine country and full of inhabitants, a beautiful church, and abundance of the goods of the world.”  Another reconnoissance by Captains Hobbs and Osgood among the settlements behind Grand Pré brought reports equally favorable.  On the fourth, another letter came from Murray:  “All the people quiet, and very busy at their harvest; if this day keeps fair, all will be in here in their barns.  I hope to-morrow will crown all our wishes.”  The Acadians, like the bees, were to gather a harvest for others to enjoy.  The summons was sent out that afternoon.  Powder and ball were served to the men, and all were ordered to keep within the lines.

On the next day the inhabitants appeared at the hour appointed, to the number of four hundred and eighteen men.  Winslow ordered a table to be set in the middle of the church, and placed on it his instructions and the address he had prepared.  Here he took his stand in his laced uniform, with one or two subalterns from the regulars at Fort Edward, and such of the Massachusetts officers as were not on guard duty; strong, sinewy figures, bearing, no doubt, more or less distinctly, the peculiar stamp with which toil, trade, and Puritanism had imprinted the features of New England.  Their commander was not of the prevailing type.  He was fifty-three years of age, with double chin, smooth forehead, arched eyebrows, close powdered wig, and round, rubicund face, from which the weight of an odious duty had probably banished the smirk of self-satisfaction that dwelt there at other times.[276] Nevertheless, he had manly and estimable qualities.  The congregation of peasants, clad in rough homespun, turned their sunburned faces upon him, anxious and intent; and Winslow “delivered them by interpreters the King’s orders in the following words,” which, retouched in orthography and syntax, ran thus:—­

GENTLEMEN,—­I have received from His Excellency, Governor Lawrence, the King’s instructions, which I have in my hand.  By his orders you are called together to hear His Majesty’s final resolution concerning the French inhabitants of this his province of Nova Scotia, who for almost half a century have had more indulgence granted them than any of his subjects in any part of his dominions.  What use you have made of it you yourselves best know.
The duty I am now upon, though necessary, is very disagreeable to my natural make and temper, as I know it must be grievous to you, who are of the same species.  But it is not my business to animadvert on the orders I have received, but to obey them; and therefore without hesitation I shall deliver to you His Majesty’s instructions and commands, which are that your lands and tenements and cattle and live-stock of all kinds are forfeited to the Crown, with all your other effects, except money and household goods, and that you yourselves are to be removed from this his province.
The peremptory orders of His Majesty are that all the French inhabitants of these districts be removed; and through His Majesty’s goodness I am directed to allow you the liberty of carrying with you your money and as many of your household goods as you can take without overloading the vessels you go in.  I shall do everything in my power that all these goods be secured to you, and that you be not molested in carrying them away, and also that whole families shall go in the same vessel; so that this removal, which I am sensible must give you a great deal of trouble, may be made as easy as His Majesty’s service will admit; and I hope that in whatever part of the world your lot may fall, you may be faithful subjects, and a peaceable and happy people.

     I must also inform you that it is His Majesty’s pleasure that you
     remain in security under the inspection and direction of the troops
     that I have the honor to command.

[Footnote 276:  See his portrait, at the rooms of the Massachusetts Historical Society.]

He then declared them prisoners of the King.  “They were greatly struck,” he says, “at this determination, though I believe they did not imagine that they were actually to be removed.”  After delivering the address, he returned to his quarters at the priest’s house, whither he was followed by some of the elder prisoners, who begged leave to tell their families what had happened, “since they were fearful that the surprise of their detention would quite overcome them.”  Winslow consulted with his officers, and it was arranged that the Acadians should choose twenty of their number each day to revisit their homes, the rest being held answerable for their return.

A letter, dated some days before, now came from Major Handfield at Annapolis, saying that he had tried to secure the men of that neighborhood, but that many of them had escaped to the woods.  Murray’s report from Fort Edward came soon after, and was more favorable:  “I have succeeded finely, and have got a hundred and eighty-three men into my possession.”  To which Winslow replies:  “I have the favor of yours of this day, and rejoice at your success, and also for the smiles that have attended the party here.”  But he adds mournfully:  “Things are now very heavy on my heart and hands.”  The prisoners were lodged in the church, and notice was sent to their families to bring them food.  “Thus,” says the Diary of the commander, “ended the memorable fifth of September, a day of great fatigue and trouble.”

There was one quarter where fortune did not always smile.  Major Jedediah Preble, of Winslow’s battalion, wrote to him that Major Frye had just returned from Chipody, whither he had gone with a party of men to destroy the settlements and bring off the women and children.  After burning two hundred and fifty-three buildings he had reimbarked, leaving fifty men on shore at a place called Peticodiac to give a finishing stroke to the work by burning the “Mass House,” or church.  While thus engaged, they were set upon by three hundred Indians and Acadians, led by the partisan officer Boishébert.  More than half their number were killed, wounded, or taken.  The rest ensconced themselves behind the neighboring dikes, and Frye, hastily landing with the rest of his men, engaged the assailants for three hours, but was forced at last to reimbark.[277] Captain Speakman, who took part in the affair, also sent Winslow an account of it, and added:  “The people here are much concerned for fear your party should meet with the same fate (being in the heart of a numerous devilish crew), which I pray God avert.”

[Footnote 277:  Also Boishébert à Drucourt, 10 Oct. 1755, an exaggerated account. Vaudreuil au Ministre, 18 Oct. 1755, sets Boishébert’s force at one hundred and twenty-five men.]

Winslow had indeed some cause for anxiety.  He had captured more Acadians since the fifth; and had now in charge nearly five hundred able-bodied men, with scarcely three hundred to guard them.  As they were allowed daily exercise in the open air, they might by a sudden rush get possession of arms and make serious trouble.  On the Wednesday after the scene in the church some unusual movements were observed among them, and Winslow and his officers became convinced that they could not safely be kept in one body.  Five vessels, lately arrived from Boston, were lying within the mouth of the neighboring river.  It was resolved to place fifty of the prisoners on board each of these, and keep them anchored in the Basin.  The soldiers were all ordered under arms, and posted on an open space beside the church and behind the priest’s house.  The prisoners were then drawn up before them, ranked six deep,—­the young unmarried men, as the most dangerous, being told off and placed on the left, to the number of a hundred and forty-one.  Captain Adams, with eighty men, was then ordered to guard them to the vessels.  Though the object of the movement had been explained to them, they were possessed with the idea that they were to be torn from their families and sent away at once; and they all, in great excitement, refused to go.  Winslow told them that there must be no parley or delay; and as they still refused, a squad of soldiers advanced towards them with fixed bayonets; while he himself, laying hold of the foremost young man, commanded him to move forward.  “He obeyed; and the rest followed, though slowly, and went off praying, singing, and crying, being met by the women and children all the way (which is a mile and a half) with great lamentation, upon their knees, praying.”  When the escort returned, about a hundred of the married men were ordered to follow the first party; and, “the ice being broken,” they readily complied.  The vessels were anchored at a little distance from shore, and six soldiers were placed on board each of them as a guard.  The prisoners were offered the King’s rations, but preferred to be supplied by their families, who, it was arranged, should go in boats to visit them every day; “and thus,” says Winslow, “ended this troublesome job.”  He was not given to effusions of feeling, but he wrote to Major Handfield:  “This affair is more grievous to me than any service I was ever employed in."[278]

[Footnote 278:  Haliburton, who knew Winslow’s Journal only by imperfect extracts, erroneously states that the men put on board the vessels were sent away immediately.  They remained at Grand Pré several weeks, and were then sent off at intervals with their families.]

Murray sent him a note of congratulation:  “I am extremely pleased that things are so clever at Grand Pré, and that the poor devils are so resigned.  Here they are more patient than I could have expected for people in their circumstances; and what surprises me still more is the indifference of the women, who really are, or seem, quite unconcerned.  I long much to see the poor wretches embarked and our affair a little settled; and then I will do myself the pleasure of meeting you and drinking their good voyage.”

This agreeable consummation was still distant.  There was a long and painful delay.  The provisions for the vessels which were to carry the prisoners did not come; nor did the vessels themselves, excepting the five already at Grand Pré.  In vain Winslow wrote urgent letters to George Saul, the commissary, to bring the supplies at once.  Murray, at Fort Edward, though with less feeling than his brother officer, was quite as impatient of the burden of suffering humanity on his hands.  “I am amazed what can keep the transports and Saul.  Surely our friend at Chignecto is willing to give us as much of our neighbors’ company as he well can."[279] Saul came at last with a shipload of provisions; but the lagging transports did not appear.  Winslow grew heart-sick at the daily sight of miseries which he himself had occasioned, and wrote to a friend at Halifax:  “I know they deserve all and more than they feel; yet it hurts me to hear their weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  I am in hopes our affairs will soon put on another face, and we get transports, and I rid of the worst piece of service that ever I was in.”

[Footnote 279:  Murray to Winslow, 26 Sept. 1755.]

After weeks of delay, seven transports came from Annapolis; and Winslow sent three of them to Murray, who joyfully responded:  “Thank God, the transports are come at last.  So soon as I have shipped off my rascals, I will come down and settle matters with you, and enjoy ourselves a little.”

Winslow prepared for the embarkation.  The Acadian prisoners and their families were divided into groups answering to their several villages, in order that those of the same village might, as far as possible, go in the same vessel.  It was also provided that the members of each family should remain together; and notice was given them to hold themselves in readiness.  “But even now,” he writes, “I could not persuade the people I was in earnest.”  Their doubts were soon ended.  The first embarkation took place on the eighth of October, under which date the Diary contains this entry:  “Began to embark the inhabitants who went off very solentarily [sic] and unwillingly, the women in great distress, carrying off their children in their arms; others carrying their decrepit parents in their carts, with all their goods; moving in great confusion, and appeared a scene of woe and distress."[280]

[Footnote 280:  In spite of Winslow’s care, some cases of separation of families occurred; but they were not numerous.]

Though a large number were embarked on this occasion, still more remained; and as the transports slowly arrived, the dismal scene was repeated at intervals, with more order than at first, as the Acadians had learned to accept their fate as a certainty.  So far as Winslow was concerned, their treatment seems to have been as humane as was possible under the circumstances; but they complained of the men, who disliked and despised them.  One soldier received thirty lashes for stealing fowls from them; and an order was issued forbidding soldiers or sailors, on pain of summary punishment, to leave their quarters without permission, “that an end may be put to distressing this distressed people.”  Two of the prisoners, however, while trying to escape, were shot by a reconnoitring party.

At the beginning of November Winslow reported that he had sent off fifteen hundred and ten persons, in nine vessels, and that more than six hundred still remained in his district.[281] The last of these were not embarked till late in December.  Murray finished his part of the work at the end of October, having sent from the district of Fort Edward eleven hundred persons in four frightfully crowded transports.[282] At the close of that month sixteen hundred and sixty-four had been sent from the district of Annapolis, where many others escaped to the woods.[283] A detachment which was ordered to seize the inhabitants of the district of Cobequid failed entirely, finding the settlements abandoned.  In the country about Fort Cumberland, Monckton, who directed the operation in person, had very indifferent success, catching in all but little more than a thousand.[284] Le Guerne, missionary priest in this neighborhood, gives a characteristic and affecting incident of the embarkation.  “Many unhappy women, carried away by excessive attachment to their husbands, whom they had been allowed to see too often, and closing their ears to the voice of religion and their missionary, threw themselves blindly and despairingly into the English vessels.  And now was seen the saddest of spectacles; for some of these women, solely from a religious motive, refused to take with them their grown-up sons and daughters."[285] They would expose their own souls to perdition among heretics, but not those of their children.

[Footnote 281:  Winslow to Monckton, 3 Nov. 1755.]

[Footnote 282:  Ibid.]

[Footnote 283:  Captain Adams to Winslow, 29 Nov. 1755; see also Knox, I. 85, who exactly confirms Adams’s figures.]

[Footnote 284:  Monckton to Winslow, 7 Oct. 1755.]

[Footnote 285:  Le Guerne à Prévost, 10 Mars, 1756.]

When all, or nearly all, had been sent off from the various points of departure, such of the houses and barns as remained standing were burned, in obedience to the orders of Lawrence, that those who had escaped might be forced to come in and surrender themselves.  The whole number removed from the province, men, women, and children, was a little above six thousand.  Many remained behind; and while some of these withdrew to Canada, Isle St. Jean, and other distant retreats, the rest lurked in the woods or returned to their old haunts, whence they waged, for several years a guerilla warfare against the English.  Yet their strength was broken, and they were no longer a danger to the province.

Of their exiled countrymen, one party overpowered the crew of the vessel that carried them, ran her ashore at the mouth of the St. John, and escaped.[286] The rest were distributed among the colonies from Massachusetts to Georgia, the master of each transport having been provided with a letter from Lawrence addressed to the Governor of the province to which he was bound, and desiring him to receive the unwelcome strangers.  The provincials were vexed at the burden imposed upon them; and though the Acadians were not in general ill-treated, their lot was a hard one.  Still more so was that of those among them who escaped to Canada.  The chronicle of the Ursulines of Quebec, speaking of these last, says that their misery was indescribable, and attributes it to the poverty of the colony.  But there were other causes.  The exiles found less pity from kindred and fellow Catholics than from the heretics of the English colonies.  Some of them who had made their way to Canada from Boston, whither they had been transported, sent word to a gentleman of that place who had befriended them, that they wished to return.[287] Bougainville, the celebrated navigator, then aide-de-camp to Montcalm, says concerning them:  “They are dying by wholesale.  Their past and present misery, joined to the rapacity of the Canadians, who seek only to squeeze out of them all the money they can, and then refuse them the help so dearly bought, are the cause of this mortality.”  “A citizen of Quebec,” he says farther on, “was in debt to one of the partners of the Great Company [Government officials leagued for plunder].  He had no means of paying.  They gave him a great number of Acadians to board and lodge.  He starved them with hunger and cold, got out of them what money they had, and paid the extortioner. Quel pays!  Quels moeurs!"[288]

[Footnote 286:  Lettre commune de Drucour et Prévost au Ministre, 6 Avril, 1756.  Vaudreuil au Ministre, 1 Juin, 1756.]

[Footnote 287:  Hutchinson, Hist.  Mass., III. 42, note.]

[Footnote 288:  Bougainville, Journal, 1756-1758.  His statements are sustained by Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]

Many of the exiles eventually reached Louisiana, where their descendants now form a numerous and distinct population.  Some, after incredible hardship, made their way back to Acadia, where, after the peace, they remained unmolested, and, with those who had escaped seizure, became the progenitors of the present Acadians, now settled in various parts of the British maritime provinces, notably at Madawaska, on the upper St. John, and at Clare, in Nova Scotia.  Others were sent from Virginia to England; and others again, after the complete conquest of the country, found refuge in France.

In one particular the authors of the deportation were disappointed in its results.  They had hoped to substitute a loyal population for a disaffected one; but they failed for some time to find settlers for the vacated lands.  The Massachusetts soldiers, to whom they were offered, would not stay in the province; and it was not till five years later that families of British stock began to occupy the waste fields of the Acadians.  This goes far to show that a longing to become their heirs had not, as has been alleged, any considerable part in the motives for their removal.

New England humanitarianism, melting into sentimentality at a tale of woe, has been unjust to its own.  Whatever judgment may be passed on the cruel measure of wholesale expatriation, it was not put in execution till every resource of patience and persuasion had been tried in vain.  The agents of the French Court, civil, military, and ecclesiastical, had made some act of force a necessity.  We have seen by what vile practices they produced in Acadia a state of things intolerable, and impossible of continuance.  They conjured up the tempest; and when it burst on the heads of the unhappy people, they gave no help.  The Government of Louis XV. began with making the Acadians its tools, and ended with making them its victims.[289]

[Footnote 289:  It may not be remembered that the predecessor of Louis XV., without the slightest provocation or the pretence of any, gave orders that the whole Protestant population of the colony of New York, amounting to about eighteen thousand, should be seized, despoiled of their property, placed on board his ships and dispersed among the other British colonies in such a way that they could not reunite.  Want of power alone prevented the execution of the order.]

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number:  62:16974

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