Where the French flag, the fleur de lis, had flown for so many years, we now see the union jack flying over the earthen ramparts of Fort Ann at Annapolis Royal. By international law (Treaty of Utrecht, 1713) Fort Ann now looked over English soil. The War of the Spanish Succession, however, while giving England victory, had left her financially exhausted, such that she was unable to maintain her newly acquired possessions. Those who held her far away possessions, whether at Minorca or Nova Scotia, were "ragged and unpaid."1 "A weight of debt lay heavy on the nation, the legacy of the long war. Everywhere, at home and abroad, the soldiers and sailors and public servants were going unpaid."2
The blight of the garrison at Annapolis Royal might have been relieved, if only they had someone to champion their cause. Vetch and the officers thought they had the support of Nicholson, the one who, in the first place, had led them to their victorious capture of Annapolis Royal in 1710. But, no -- Nicholson, while in a position to intercede,3 not only left the garrison to completely fend for itself, but complained to the English authorities that Vetch was getting a cut of the supply contracts for the garrison -- a charge which was never substantiated. It can only be concluded that, at great expense to the young British colony of Nova Scotia, Nicholson was out to get Vetch for an insult, real or imagined, which Nicholson figured he had received from Vetch. Vetch, on the other hand, did not seem to understand that the great difficulties his administration encountered in the affairs of Annapolis Royal were traceable to Nicholson and the poison which he spread about.
"In autumn he [Vetch] left, for we find him in Boston in December , and now, if not before, his eyes were opened to one source of his difficulties with the British Government. When he was in extremity, besieging the ministry of relief in every form of urgency, he frequently refers them to Nicholson as able to give information and to satisfy them as to the justice of his demands; he directs his agent to endeavour to secure Nicholson's influence with those in power, and he writes to Nicholson himself, seeking his aid. But there is reason to believe that the man who he was thus trusting as his friend, was all the time his enemy and doing him all the injury in his power; that he was, in fact, the 'malicious slanderer' from whose influence he had been so long suffering."4
With a view to repairing his damaged reputation, Vetch, leaving Caulfeild behind in charge, sailed for England in April of 1714. Nicholson -- though not having been at the place since its capture, and who had done nothing but attempt to destroy it in the interim, and likely knowing that Vetch was not there -- arrived at Annapolis Royal in the summer of 1714. During Nicholson's short stay he assured the officers of his continuing support for them; but he fooled no one, least of all Caulfeild:
"In August, nearly two years after his appointment as Governor of Nova Scotia, Nicholson visited Annapolis. His stay was short, but long enough to bring matters into a worse muddle than ever. Caulfeild thus describes his proceeding;
Though Vetch was vindicated by a titular appointment as the Governor of Nova Scotia in January of 1715, he was never again to return to North America. The thirty year old Caulfeild carried on in charge at Annapolis Royal until his death in 1717. Though fighting great odds, in the tradition established by Vetch, Caulfeild was to keep England's outpost in Nova Scotia going; this he did by spending, as so many of the English officers did in the early days, his own money and credit. But, with Nicholson gone, and Vetch in place in England -- things began to change. Supplies, in the summer of 1715, for the first time, were received at Annapolis Royal, directly "from the victualling office, London, a supply of provisions sufficient to last the garrison nine months."
The garrison, it seems, lived, as shipped up from Boston, on hogsheads of molasses and barrels of salted pork. Desperate as they were for essential supplies, Caulfeild pleaded with his agent at Boston for something a little special for the officers:
According to Caulfield not only did he neglect to provide for the wants of the garrison, but he acted as if he designed its ruin, giving as a reason that it was useless and the country not worth retaining. Indeed his conduct was such in the other colonies, that the Governor of New York deliberately described him as a madman."5
"... one Pipe best Fyall Wine one Hogshead Barbados Rum one Do best Virginia leaf tobacco two ffirkins [a cask smaller than a barrel] butter one barrel of best Musquevado Sugar ten Gallons Lime Juice two boxes of Candles one box Castile Soap two pound of pepper halfe pound of Nutmeggs to ye Value of Twenty Shillings in cinnamon Cloves Mace and all Spice, I must likewise desire you will pay ye freight for there is no such thing as money here. ... [and if the agent] can meet with any good olive oil, to send 2 galls. for governor's own use."6In spite of this impressive list, it appears that the garrison received, and subsisted on pork and molasses. (I suspect that the molasses was converted to an alcoholic drink, one that Nova Scotia has long been famous for -- rum.) The call for victuals would come late in winter and in early spring. The soil of the Annapolis Valley, however, was fertile; and once the ground warmed up in the spring, fresh produce was not long in the coming. This fresh produce was to come, of course, from the farmers thereabouts: the Acadians.7
Governor Caulfeild described the three main French communities which existed in Acadia, in 1715: "Annapolis Royal, Minis, and Checanectou," as follows:
"Annapolis the 'Metropolis' has rich sound soil, produces 10,000 bushels grain, chiefly wheat, some rye, oats and barley, oxen and cows, about 2000, sheep about 2000, hogs about 1000. Masting can be had with difficulty; pitch has been frequently made. Forty thousand weight of furs have been taken out each season since the reduction of this place. 'Mines none.'8
'Minis' is 30 leagues N.E. from this place: much the best improved part of the colony: plain country, fertile soil, produces over 20,000 bushels, mostly wheat with pease, rye and barley, which is their principal branch of trade. They have at present, oxen and cows about 3,000, sheep about 4000, hogs about 2000. No masting; pitch is made there and sold at cheaper rates than what is get from New England. Considerable quantity of furs brought in by the Indians and sold by the French to our traders. Copper mines there of which the inhabitants make spoons, candlesticks and other necessities. They have between 30 and 40 sail of vessels, built by themselves, which they employ in fishing. Their harbors are but indifferent: there are about 500 men, of which 200 are settled inhabitants.
'Checanectou' is situate N. about 30 leagues away; a low country, used mostly for raising black and white cattle. Were supplied from C. in out necessity with about 70 bbls. of extraordinary good beef. The greatest resort for the Penobscot and St. John's Indians, who barter to the French great quantities of furs and feathers for provisions. Oxen and cows about 1,000, sheep about 1,000, hogs about 800, corn to support their families (about 50), computed to be 6,000 bushels. Very good coal mines there, which have formerly been used by this garrison."9
[NEXT: Pt. 3, Ch. 5 - Annapolis Royal (1720-39).]