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Notes Regarding Events on the Saint John River (1755-1760)
as Gleaned from the Columns of the Pennsylvania Gazette

The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 17, 1755
BOSTON, July 7.

Thursday last a Sloop arrived here in four Days from Annapolis Royal, and by her we have Advice, that on the 26th of June past, three of his Majestyís Ships of War, the Success, the Mermaid, and Syrene, with some of the Transports with Soldiers, came down the Bay, and sailed for St. Johnís River; and that the Vulture Sloop of War, with some other Vessels, having on board the French Garrison of Beausejour, had sailed for Louisbourg, to deliver them there, according to Capitulation.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 24, 1755
BOSTON, July 14.

The Beginning of last Week, we had by several Vessels just come from Sea, a considerable Number of very important Articles of News (mostly relating to the Operations of the Fleet) which we feasted upon with great Delight till last Friday Morning, when Capt. Hall arrived in 4 Days from Halifax, and then it appeared by Letters and Oral Advices, that most of those Articles were without even the Shadow of Truth to support them. However, we have Reason to believe the following Articles, brought by Capt. Hall, may be depended on, viz.

* * *

That upon the Approach of Commodore Rous, with his three Ships of War towards St. John, the French Garrison blew up the Fort, spoiled the Cannon, and did what other Mischief they could, and then marched off to old St. John, an abandoned Fort a few Leagues further up the River; and that after Rous was landed, 150 Indians came in, made their Submission, and desired to put themselves under the Protection of the English, on such Conditions as should be agreed upon between Governor Lawrence and them, and in the mean time they left a Number of their Chiefs in the Hands of the Commodore, as Security for the faithful Performance of their Promises.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 31, 1755
BOSTON, July 21.

By a Letter from Fort Cumberland Camp, at Chignecto, dated the 3d Instant, we have the following authentick Intelligence, viz. That upon Capt. Rousís appearing before St. Johnís withthe Ships under his Command, and sending his Boats to reconnoitre, from whence he was to send Word to the Commanding Officer of the Troops, whether or no the French had any Shipsof War there, that the Officer commanding in the Fort, immediately set Fire to all the Magazines and Houses in the Fort; burst all their Cannon, and destroyed every Thing in and around it. That they were about 100 Indians, who all seemed inclined to Peace, and offered to send four of their Chiefs for that Purpose. The French retired up the River, and by what can be learned are gone to Canada. That the Commanding Officer has in his Possession one Chief and another of their Sons,whom they had sent to him before this happened, he having sent a Person to them, to know whether they were for Peace or War; the first of which they wisely preferr. Extract of a Letter from Fort Lawrence, of the same Date as above. ďYou will be glad to hear, that the French have burnt their Fort at St. John, which has saved us the Trouble of a Voyage there. Upon the Appearance of Capt. Rouse, with the Four Men of War, they set Fire to the Fort, burst their Cannon, broke their small Arms, and marched off to Canada,leaving the Indians behind them. Capt. Rouse landed, and was saluted by the black Gentry, who desired to come to amicable Terms with the English, and accordingly four of their Chiefs went on board: Whether he has sent them to Halifax is not certainly known. We have two Chiefs now at Fort Cumberland, who came up from St. Johnís to pilot us down; and we were just going to embark 1500 Men to reduce that Place (the Stores and Provisions being on board the Transports) when the above Accounts arrived, which was Yesterday. I think Providence has been remarkably favourable to us; the French being now entirely dispossessed of Nova Scotia, with the Loss of only four Men, and three of them belonged to this Fort) --- We have a Prospect of bringing the St. Johnís Indians entirely over to our Interest. All the Inhabitants of this River are disarmed and kept tightly to Work. I wish they were exchanged for as many good New England Husbandmen, who would improve the Lands hereabouts, for they are well worth it. Our Successes in these Parts, as they must give you great Satisfaction in New England, I doubt not they will spirit up the Troops at the Southward; and I hope are happy Omens of the Downfall of the Interest of the French in North America. You see there is nothing like cutting off the Head; how soon, in such a Case, the Limbs wither: Upon the Surrender of Beausejour, all their mighty Forts and Possessions came to nothing: However, we must not boast too much; we have, it is true, made a good Beginning, and I hope the End will correspond therewith.Ē

The Pennsylvania Gazette, March 11, 1756
BOSTON, March 1.

Extract of a Letter from an officer at Fort Cumberland, in Nova Scotia, dated February 6, 1756.

"When our Preparations were about two Thirds compleated a Deserter came to us (a German who had been one of the first at Halifax) . . . . "* * * This Deserter is a most knowing clever Fellow, he has been a Sort of Prime Minister to the Priests Le Luther and Pere Jermin, in their Indian Affairs, which he knows thoroughly, and all the Country: He says, that the St. John Indians now have the Small pox, having lost lately 15 by it, that the Penobscots brought it amongst them, which Tribe is now almost reduced to nothing, having lost 160 last Summer and this Winter. The Peasants that remain in the Country are in the greatest Misery, living in the Woods, and must soon surrender or starve, if they cannot get off to the Island of St. John, which is their Design, that being the Reason of Mons. Beauhebere making Shediack his Quarters on Account of the Contiguousness of that River with St. John."

The Pennsylvania Gazette, September 14, 1758
BOSTON, September 4.

By Captain Winslow, who arrived here Yesterday in ten Days from Louisbourg, we learn, That on the 22nd of August last, Signal was made for the following Ships to weigh Anchor, in order to proceed to the Bay of Gaspay, in the River St. Lawrence, viz. Royal William, 84 Guns, Sir Charles Hardy, Bedford 64, Lancaster 64, Devonshire 60, Pembroke 60, Vanguard 64, 2 Frigates, the Aetna Fireship, and 7 Transports, with three Regiments on board, under the Command of General Wolfe, there to make a Diversion on Land, and to distress the Enemy Trade: That great Numbers of our People were employed in pulling down the West Gate, which is to be rebuilt, and made stronger: --- That the Ships employed in weighing those sunk by the Enemy, had given over their Undertaking, not being able to accomplish it: --- That six Regiments were embarking for Bolton: --- That Col. Monckton with 1500 Troops, and several Frigates, were going to St. Johnís River, in the Bay of Fundy, to take Possession of the important Pass the Enemy now have there; by which Means it is hoped the French and Indians will be entirely routed from that Part of Nova Scotia. --- That the French 64 Gun Ship was refitting, and was going to England: --- That the Inhabitants of that Island and St. Johnís daily came in, agreeable to the Vth Article of Capitulation, and as fast as they were put on board sailed for France: --- And that Capt. Rouse, in the Sutherland Man of War, of 50 Guns, was going to destroy the French Settlements at Newfoundland.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, October 12, 1758
HALIFAX, September 16.

On Monday last his Majestyís Ship Squirrel sailed from this Place, for the Bay of Fundy, having under her Convoy the Transports with the Troops destined for the Reduction of the Fortresses, &c. on the River St. John, chiefly inhabited by the renegade Neutrals.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, October 26, 1758
BOSTON, October 16.

Thursday Morning arrived here Capt. Campbell from Annapolis Royal, who left that Garrison last Saturday, and informs, That on Thursday last an officer arrived there, who had been with Brigadier Monckton, up the River St. Johnís with a Number of Troops from Halifax, to destroy what Fortress the Enemy might have up that River; but that upon their landing they found the old Fort had been evacuated a considerable Time, as it was entirely gone to Decay, and Shrubs grown about it; that there were considerable Quantities of Timber lying about, of which the Brigadier intended to have erected a strong Fort: That our Troops had marched near 40 Miles up the River, and discovered none of the enemy.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, November 9, 1758
BOSTON, October 30.

Wednesday last Capt. Miller arrived here in 6 Days with Dispatches from our Forces at St. Johnís River in Nova Scotia, by which we learn, that Brigadier Gen. Monckton had almost finished a strong Fort, just above the Entrance to that River on the same Spot where the French some Time ago erected a Fort, which they afterwards demolished. That the French and Indians continue to retire farther up, as our Rangers advance in their Scouting, in which they have discovered several of their Huts and Fields, &c. which they had deserted. That a Number of Vessels lay ready to carry a Body of our Troops as far up the River as they possibly could, where, it is said, the French have a small Fort, and where they have got up two Vessels that were taken from the English some Time ago in the Bay of Fundy, and afterwards improved as Cruizers. That these Troops were to proceed as soon as Major Morris had joined them from Cape Sable; from which Place they had an Express the 17th Inst. with an Account, that Major Morris and Capt. Gorham, with a Number of our Forces had taken a French Place calledCapesse, with 70 Prisoners, and about 100 Head of Cattle; among the Prisoners was a French Priest, who has engaged, upon granting them indemnity, to bring in 200 more to submit themselves; and is said he is accordingly gone with a Party of our Troops, with a Flag of Truce for that Purpose.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, November 16, 1758
NEW YORK, November 13.

Governor Lawrence of Halifax, in Nova Scotia, and Admiral Durell, who is to winter there with several of his Majestyís Ships of War, have given Assurance, that all Coasters and others trading thither with fresh Provisions, &c. shall not only be protected by the Admiral from being pressed, but shall receive all Manner of Countenance from both.

A Proclamation is also issued by the Governor of Halifax, importing, That as by the late Success of His Majestyís Arms in the Reduction of Cape Breton, and its Dependencies, as also by the Demolition and entire Destruction of Gaspey, Meremichi, and other French Settlements, situate on the Gulph of St. Lawrence, and on St. Johnís River, in the Bay of Fundy; the Enemy (who have formerly disturbed and harassed the Province of Nova Scotia, and much obstructed its Progress) having been compelled to retire and take Refuge in Canada; and thereby left a favourable Opportunity for the peopling and cultivating as well the Lands vacated by the French, as every other Part of that valuable Province: --- He therefore declares, That he will be ready to receive any Proposals that may be hereafter made to him for effectually settling the said vacated or other Lands in that Province; One Hundred Thousand Acres of which produce Wheat, Rye, Barley, Oats, Hemp, Flax, &c. which never need manuring, as no Part has failed of Crops these Hundred years. Another hundred Thousand Acres is cleared, and stocked with English Grass, planted with Orchards, Gardens, &c. The Timber on the whole is Beach, Black Birch, Ash, Oak, Pine, Fir, &c. The Lands are so intermixed that every single Farmer may have a proportionable Quantity of Plow land, Grass Land, and Woodland; and are all situated about the Bay of Fundy, upon Rivers navigable for Ships of Burthen.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, December 7, 1758
BOSTON, November 27.

Saturday last Capt. Edwards, in a large Transport of 700 Tons, arrived here in 8 Days from St. Johnís River, having on board the Remainder of the Artillery, and about 40 Matrosses. And Yesterday Capt. Loring, in another Transport, arrived here in 6 Days from the same Place, and informs, that a Number of our Forces had been a great Distance up St. Johnís River, and had come upon another French Settlement, consisting of about 40 Houses, before the Inhabitants had Time to carry off their Goods, which our People destroyed, together with their Houses, &c. killed a great Number of Cattle, and took some of the Inhabitants Prisoners, and also brought off a Sloop and a Schooner which the Neutral French had taken from us some Time since. That as Capt. Cobb was going up the River in his Boat, he was fired at from the Shore by a Party of the Enemy, and himself and two Men wounded, but upon their landing the Enemy fled into the Woods.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, April 5, 1759
BOSTON, March 26.

Extract of a letter from Fort Frederick, St. Johnís River, March 10, 1759.

"The 5th of March Lieut. Hazzen, of the Rangers came in from a Scout of 15 Days, with a Party of 16 Rangers, up the River St. John; he brought in with him six French Scalps, and six Prisoners. Lieut. Hazzen reports, that he has been to St. Ann, which is 140 Miles up this River, from Fort Frederick, where it was expected he would have found a strong Garrison of the Enemy; but on his Arrival he found the Town vacated, which he set Fire to, burnt a large Mass house with a Bell of 300 lb. a large Storehouse, and many valuable Buildings, amounting in the whole to 147, together with a large Quantity of Hay, Wheat, Pease, Oats, &c. killed 21 Horses, about 50 Head of Cattle, a Number of Hogs, &c. and that he took the Prisoners and Scalps with 11 of his Party, on his Return, near Grimnoss, which is about 85 Miles from this Place, who give an Account, that a Number of the Enemy live six Miles back of Grimnoss, and that the Inhabitants of St. Ann are chiefly gone to Canada, the Remainder scattered in the Woods: He was pursued by about 30 or 40 of the Enemy, but not overtaken; and that he found a large new Schooner up this River, which was taken lately by the French from Capt. Grow; he brought one Horse with him to Fort Frederick, where he arrived in good Health, without the Loss of a Man."

The Pennsylvania Gazette, December 13, 1759
BOSTON, November 26.

Extract of a Letter.
"On the 13th of October the Inhabitants of St. John River, having heard of the Surrender of Quebec, sent to Lieutenant Colonel Arbuthnot, who commands 250 of the Provincial Troops at Fort Frederick, to surrender themselves Prisoners at Discretion, whether he shall please toreceive them as Prisoners of War, and so remove them off their Lands; or whether he would grant them Leave to continue with Liberty of their Religion, as is permitted to the Canadians.Colonel Arbuthnotís Prudence did not permit him to trust them on any Terms; he therefore went up the River, and in two Schooners brought off with him 196 of these Inhabitants, and more we hear are coming. On the 3d of November, Pere Germain, the Jesuit Missionary both to the Inhabitants and Indians of those Parts, having come from Canada since the Surrender ofQuebec, though somewhat too late, with a Copy of the Terms granted to the Inhabitants and Priests of Canada, having in View to obtain the same for these Inhabitants of Nova Scotia,or rather insinuating that such were already granted to them, wrote to Colonel Arbuthnot from St. Ann, desiring the same Leave to continue to serve his Cure as is granted to the Priests of Canada; but that he has abandoned the Indians, and he is willing to take the Oath of Fidelity to his Britannic Majesty; but that if his Continuance in those Parts be disagreeable to the English Government, he will, with Permission, retire to France; as he would by no Means stay in the Country, without the Consent of the true Masters of it. That as to his Character of Indian Missionary, he will employ his Power to reconcile the Indians of those Parts to the Government from which they are much estranged, at least will prevent their doing of Mischief. He says all the Indians, except about a Score, are at the present in a good Accord with the English Commander. Lieutenant Colonel Arbuthnot has this Summer destroyed several of their Villages, and taken anddestroyed several of their Vessels up the River; and on the 18th of September had a smart Skirmish with some of these Inhabitants and Indians. The Effect is the best Proof of theServices of this Officer and small Garrison of Provincials; but we could not but think that the Mention of these Particulars is due to the Assiduity and Alertness with which they were performed; and we hope the Men will not disgrace these Services, by an unsoldierlike Impatience for getting home before they can be duly relieved."

The Pennsylvania Gazette, March 6, 1760
BOSTON, February 25.

From Halifax we have Advice, That the Beginning of this instant February arrived there two Schooners, which had been sent by that Government to St. Johnís River in the Bay ofFundy, for the Inhabitants there. They were landed at Halifax; among them was the Jesuit Pere Germain, with some of the St. Johnís Indians.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, August 7, 1760
BOSTON, July 28.

Monday last arrived here Colonel Arbuthnot, who has commanded at Fort Frederick, in St. Johnís River, the Year past and also several other Officers, and a Number of Soldiers belonging to this Province, who have garrisoned His Majesty Forts up the Bay of Fundy, and now discharged, arrived here, being relieved by a Number lately enlisted in this Province for that Service. We hear that the Indians behave well, and still continue to come into the several Forts at Nova Scotia, and carry on Trade very peaceably.

The foregoing has been assembled and edited by Stephen A. White from material collected by Lucie LeBlanc Consentino, through her research in the library of the American Philosophical Society. The research assistance of the staff of that library is gratefully acknowledged.

© Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
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