A History of Nova Scotia Page

Book #1: Acadia.TOC
Part 2, "The English Takeover: 1690-1712"TOC
Chapter 10, "Annapolis Royal (1711-12)."

And thus, in 1710, Acadia by conquest was passed to England, a fact confirmed by the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). The Acadian lands were to be English grounds but the hearts and tongues of the occupants remained French. The centre of Acadia ran northeasterly up along the Annapolis Valley to the forked and muddy headwaters of the Bay of Fundy, the shores of Minas Basin and Chignecto Bay. At the time, 1710, the French population resided principally in only three communities: Annapolis, Minas, and Beaubassin. Both Annapolis and Minas had approximately 600 French inhabitants, Beaubassin at the isthmus, 300, and Cobequid had 80; a total of 1,500.1 The closest community Minas (Grand Pré) was 70 miles from the fort at Annapolis Royal and the others were more distant still. There were no roads, and to get anywhere, for the natives, it was by forest-path and canoe. As for the white man, he travelled relatively less dangerously by small sail boat up and down and around the seacoasts. The distant guns at Annapolis Royal and the little garrison located there had little effect on the Acadians; they continued to farm their lands and raise their black cattle, sheep and hogs2 behind their dykes undisturbed by outside authority as they had been doing for the previous hundred years.

Quebecois at Acadia:
What must now be mentioned, and to which we will return in greater detail as our story progresses, is the involvement of the Quebec authorities in Acadian affairs. French military personal were clandestinely sent to Acadia from Quebec. These patriotic fellows were more interested in guns and the forests rather than in plows and the fields, as were the Acadians. They infiltrated the Acadians and represented themselves as priests sent to shepherd the Roman Catholic flocks of Acadia. Some came dressed as Indians and lived among them.
3 The Quebecois amongst them wished to see the Acadians rise up and retake Acadia for the French king, but the Acadians, while intimidated with threats of excommunication and Indian reprisals, had little stomach for doing battle with the English.

The first intrusion upon the Acadians, by the English, at their centre around the Minas Basin, was to occur shortly after the capitulation of Annapolis Royal, in November of 1710. On the 8th, Mascarene, together with about 75 men, went aboard the Brigantine, Betty. The Betty, having sailed up the Fundy, dropped her anchor on the 13th, in the "Manis Road," and there, was rowed ashore a flat-bottomed boat with 42 men in it. These Englishmen were received by about "150 of the inhabitants with demonstrations of joy." Having appointed eight deputies or representatives (tax collectors) the English party left the French Acadian community at Minas after a seven day visit. I note that Mascarene paid "sixteen Livres for the Lodging and Diet ..." Mascarene and his contingent were back at Annapolis Royal by the 20th of November; with them went one of the deputies, John Landry, who bore a gift for Governor Vetch, "a parcel of Furr."4

The First Winter:
The first winter for the English soldiers in their captured fort at Annapolis Royal was to be a struggle, a struggle which was indeed to be continued for the first forty years of English rule in Nova Scotia.
5 To begin with, the fort was not set up to accommodate 450 soldiers.

"The accommodation was increased by turning the greater part of the chapel into barracks, but still the troops had but poor lodgings all winter. The frost having hindered the building of the chimneys, they suffered from want of fire. Fuel was also obtained with great labour, risk and expense. There was none in store in the fort, and all they obtained had to be cut on the opposite side of the river, then transported across, for which three flat-bottomed boats were kept continually going and coming, and then hauled to the fort.
They also began to feel other wants, that of bread especially, 'nothing but pease and beefe and little or no porke,' he [Vetch] says, being served out to them. An attempt to obtain supplies of grain from the inhabitants up the river led to a collision with some of them."
In addition to being without supplies, the fort itself was in a very bad state of repair. This small English troop was without food, clothing, and shelter; and a northern winter was coming on. Having just come through a siege and thus being in dire straits themselves, the shortages at the fort could hardly be made up by the locals; indeed, the Acadians looked to their new masters for support.

At the time of the English takeover, the town just below the fort held the largest population of Frenchmen in all of Acadia. At Port Royal (now named by the English Annapolis Royal) the residents made their living by serving the needs of the port. While some farming was carried out at Port Royal, by 1710, the community was depending on those farmers who were then at Minas. A number of the sons and daughters had relocated, circa 1690, to Minas, located north-east of Port Royal some seventy miles as the crow flies.7 The sloops which would normally run down the Bay to the market at Port Royal did not risk bringing their cargoes, the grains of Minas, to a place that was under siege by the English; and, by the time the English had installed themselves, winter weather was setting in. Starvation before the arrival of spring, both for the English and the French inhabitants at Annapolis was a real prospect until, in January of 1711, a sloop arrived from Boston with supplies. This was likely the same sloop on which Vetch returned home for a couple of months. He left Sir Charles Hobby in charge until April when Vetch returned to his duties at Annapolis Royal. The promise of April caused Vetch to do an accounting. He had found, that of the 450 men that he had started with the previous spring, he had lost 116 through death and desertion.8 In May Vetch writes:

"The inhabitants in general, as well French as Indians, continue still in a great ferment, and uneasiness. Those within the Banlieue, (who are but few), that have taken the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty, are threatened and made uneasy by all the others, who call them traitors, and make them believe the French will soon recover the place and then they will be ruined. The Priests likewise, who are numerous among them, and whom I cannot catch, (save one sent to Boston), threaten with their ecclesiastical vengeance for their subjection to heretics, so that until her Majesty shall be pleased both to give an order and afford me a sufficient force to reduce the whole country to such terms as she shall see meet to give them, we can expect no peaceable possession of the country. We have been much alarmed all winter with designs of the Indians, and the French from Canada making an attempt upon us, while the fortifications were so ruinous."9
The immediate project for the spring of 1711, now that the prospect of starvation was not before them,10 was to fix up the fort which was in a dilapidated condition. Its previous occupants had received no supplies from France for three years. The earthen works were loose and in a number of places had come tumbling down. The plan was to pile the dirt up once again and to face the ramparts with logs, which, it was figured, could be got from the French inhabitants. The Acadians up the Annapolis River were apparently ready enough to do the work of chopping and floating the logs down to the fort, especially since they were to be paid for their efforts; however, it was not to be that easy. The woods were "infested" with an unseen enemy, the Indians.11 So, it was necessary, when any woodworking party ventured forth from the fort, to have a considerable armed guard located nearby. The Indians had apparently threatened the inhabitants up the river, who were cutting lumber and plank for the repair of the fort, and these native agitators cut loose rafts that had been prepared to be sent down the river."12

First Battle of Bloody Creek:
To combat the Indian problem up river, a detachment of 70 English soldiers was sent from Annapolis Royal on June 10th, 1711, "to harass a nearby Indian settlement and restore the transportation of wood to the fort."
13 It was, however, their misfortune to run into a large number of French and their Indian allies who had just taken up their position in the province. The unsuspecting English party proceeded up the river in three boats: two flat-bottomed boats and one whaleboat. The whaleboat moved faster through the water and soon left the other two behind. This lead boat was ambushed while passing through "a narrow part of the river." These Indians, by and large, were not local14; they were Penobscots and had come from some distance, "having crossed the Bay of Fundy in birch bark canoes, and only arrived the day before." Some 30 British soldiers lost their lives and the rest were taken prisoner.15 Those that survived the attack and who had been taken prisoner were soon traded back to the fort for supplies and money. It is interesting to note that Annapolis Royal at this time had a spy, her name was Louise Guyon. Guyon was a most interesting French lady who had returned to the English fort with a request to live there. She had been at the fort before its fall and was well-liked by the French officers, indeed, she was bedded by the top ones. She had been in Quebec for a couple of years before she presented herself at the gates of Annapolis Royal just before the ambush at Bloody Creek and charmed the British officers into letting her stay. Mascarene, the second in command of the British garrison, did not trust her and was convinced she was a spy, but his betters thought otherwise; as Mascarene says, she was "received Very Kindly by Sir Chas. Hobby." It was said two of her grown up sons led the attack at Bloody Creek, and the very next night Madame Guyon was spirited out of Annapolis Royal, not to be seen or heard of again.

Knowing that the success at Bloody Creek would give heart to the French inhabitants in the area, within days, the regular French forces which lurked about coalesced and gathered the Indians and the Acadians to their aid and a crowd of 600, having received military supplies came from Placentia, swept up to the walls of Annapolis Royal with the intention to invest the fort. For a while it looked like Annapolis Royal was to have the fleur de lis flying over it once again; but, overall, the numbers of men and supplies were insufficient for a successful siege and Vetch and his men were determined to dig in. Eventually the besiegers dispersed.

Admiral Hovenden Walker:
During the summer of 1711 Vetch was called away to go with the ill-fated Walker expedition (Admiral Hovenden Walker), which, at great expense to England, had been formed up to go up the St Lawrence and take Quebec. Vetch was to take command of a division of the 5,300 troops which were under Brigadier-General John Hill. What happened to the Walker expedition after it left Boston on July 13th, 1711, is not germane to our story; sufficient for our purposes to point out that the French rule in North America would likely have ended in 1711, and not as it in fact did in 1759, if it had not been for the ineptitude of the leadership (both Hill and Walker) of this powerful English expedition of 1711. Several English ships were wrecked and hundreds of men lost on the shores of St Lawrence, after which Hill and Walker left North America, with its yet substantial invasion force, having not fired a shot at the enemy. It has been described as "perhaps the most inglorious naval and military expedition that ever left British shores."

Vetch, while off with Hill and Walker, left Annapolis Royal, once again, under the command of Hobby. In the fall of that year, 1711, Vetch brought back one of the remnants of General Hill's army to fill the ranks of the garrison at Annapolis Royal. (This remnant consisted of 250 men and included a hotheaded Irishman by the name of Lawrence Armstrong, a military man who was to have a long and sad connection with Nova Scotia.) I don't know that we might conclude that the 250 or so new soldiers17 were added to the existing 300 or so at the garrison, likely some were sent off to other postings. I know, at least, that Hobby was relieved in October of that year, 1711, being replaced by the English born Thomas Caulfeild (1685-1717).18 (Both Hobby and Caulfeild were with Nicholson in 1710 when Port Royal was captured.) Vetch was not to spend the winter of 1711/12 at Annapolis; he went to Boston, arriving there on October 20th, to be there with his family and to dismiss and pay off the provincial troops which had been under his command in the aborted expedition up the St Lawrence.

Iroquois in Nova Scotia (1711-12):
Vetch came back to Annapolis Royal in the spring of 1712. During the winter he had managed to convince the authorities that it would be a good idea to bring with him a band of Iroquois (100), under the control of his brother-in-law Major John Livingston (1680-1720) and to put a show on for their cousins in Nova Scotia. The summer of 1711, it will be recalled, was one that was full of threat and worry for the English garrison at Annapolis Royal mainly because of the Micmacs and the Penobscots.
19 Livingston had the confidence of the Iroquois and the Iroquois, having "their own technique and weapons," were feared by the natives who frequented the forests of Nova Scotia. It is interesting to note that a special issue of light muskets was given to them as "our muskets are too heavy for them." The Iroquois operated as a separate unit in Nova Scotia. Initially it was thought they might be put up in regular housing within the town, but that apparently didn't suit anyone, least of all, the Iroquois. Within weeks of their arrival, by June of 1712, the Iroquois built themselves their own fort about a quarter of a mile from the main English fort. With a great deal of their own labour and with little expense to the crown they had built "... a long square, composed of a dry stone wall of a reasonable thickness, about six feet high, heaped with sods, with a ditch before it about four feet deep, and between five and six feet high, having at each angle the form of a bastion, except towards the river, where it is in a direct line, having a breastwork or parapet of sods, with embrasure for cannon, capable to be made use of for a battery and commands the river very well thereabouts."20 At one point Livingston brought a number of his native charges (50) with him to Cape Breton with the objective to salvage what they could of the four British ships of the Walker expedition which had been lost off the northern coasts of this French territory in the previous year. The English knew, generally, the kind of mischief which the Iroquois could get up to, and, therefore, controlled them, usually by having an officer be with them at all times, often Livingston himself.21 These native visitors to Nova Scotia stayed for a year, they left in May of 1713 to return to their native lands (around the finger lakes in present day New York). It does not appear that there was any direct conflict with the Micmacs during this period; the mere presence of the Iroquois was enough to keep the peace.22

French Gold and English Paper:
That which stands out, over these first years, indeed, right up to Cornwallis'
arrival in 1749, is the fact that the English garrison at Annapolis Royal was utterly deserted by their masters back home. The English authorities, having spent the money to capture the place, sent hardly anything by way of men or supplies to keep it. The historical record shows pitiful plea after pitiful plea for help. These lonely and brave English soldiers seemed to have understood the importance of keeping Nova Scotia for the English, but the authorities in their comfortable headquarters at London seemingly did not care. The needed supplies to keep the fort functioning, and just barely functioning, were for the most part brought up from Boston, usually on the credit of the commanding officer at Annapolis Royal. The local Acadians could, and did, supply some food, fuel, and basic building supplies; however, no matter the source, things had to be paid for.23

Unlike the French, the English did not ship gold and silver to pay for the expense of maintaining their troops overseas.24 Thus, Annapolis Royal had no ready money to pay for supplies. Orders were made out for supplies with cooperative merchants who understood that they would have to accept "bills" signed by the commander at Annapolis Royal in payment. The Boston merchant would then usually sign them over to pay certain of his accounts in London. Ultimately the Annapolis Royal bill would wind itself through the system and come to rest on the desk of some government bureaucrat at London who would be responsible to see that the holder of the bill was paid with real money. Such a system was attended with some doubt as to whether the bills would ever be honoured by the government. The question to come into the mind of the creditor, would be -- Did the officers have the authority to issue such bills? What was certain, that under such a system, is that it took an age to get paid. Thus, assuming he would take a bill drawn on London, at all, the merchant would never take it at face value; such bills were discounted. For example, a Boston merchant who did accept a bill drawn on London in payment of a £100 invoice, failing its payment in legal tender, might take a £200 bill -- a discount of 50%. Such a bill, when it ultimately got paid in London by the government, would get paid at face value: the difference was necessary to make up for the waiting and the risk which was experienced by the middle men. Thus, a significant share of the money that the government in London spent on the English outpost at Annapolis Royal -- never made it to Annapolis Royal: and this on account of the antiquated method of payment which, in those days, the English government employed to pay its overseas accounts.25

"... the bills for the pay and victualling of the garrison of Annapolis were left unpaid. The public credit was sunk so low that government bills were worth twenty per cent less than private; the government agents had advanced money till they were on the verge of ruin, and officers and men had suffered much loss and inconvenience."26
The system to which I referred eventually broke down and the merchants would not ship, at all. This led to great problems for the garrison at Annapolis Royal. That it was able to continue and keep the British presence going in Nova Scotia, as was represented by a flying union jack at Annapolis Royal, is to the sole credit of those brave English soldiers who stood there at the earthen ramparts at Annapolis Royal, alone and without help.
"I have wrote your Lordship so often relating to the garrison and the payment of the bills for its support, without being honoured with the least return or directions with relations to the same, that I now almost write in despair, and as the agent, who hath launched out all the money he was capable to raise for Her Majesty's service and the support of this garrison, having as yet received no reimbursement, is necessitate to abandon us, so that I cannot get any person whatsomever who will, upon the public account, advance either money or provisions for the support of the garrison, nor have we provisions for more than a month longer, a necessity to abandon the place, for the inhabitants have not provisions to maintain themselves, so that we are reduced to the last extremity, especially considering that the garrison is composed of all the mutineers and refuse of the seven regiments from which they were detached, as their own officers affirm."27
This situation, as was explained by Vetch, was one that pretty well continued throughout the first 30 to 40 years of the British at Annapolis Royal; it would appear, however, that the first few years were the worst. As Vetch wrote, "Never any garrison was left in so abandoned condition as this hath been ever since its reduction [capture], during all which time I have the honour to command, there having been neither pay, nor provisions ..." Thus the garrison faced its second winter "nearly naked for want of clothing," without bedding and no food. Starvation and death was a real prospect, and in the face of these troubles, the officers faced the real risk of a mutiny of crazed soldiers. Winter set in, one of the worst seen in some time: all was going to be lost. The Governor and Council at Massachusetts were not unaware of the sad blight of the garrison at Annapolis Royal, nor of the strategic importance of the place; and just in the nick of time supplies arrived from Boston in January of 1712: a new lease was to be had for another year.


[NEXT: PART 3 -- Acadia#3: Annapolis Royal and Louisbourg (1712-1744):]

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