A History of Nova Scotia Page

Book #1: Acadia.TOC
Part 5, "The Intermission"TOC
Chapter. 9, "The English Fortify Nova Scotia"

The English Forts

The European habitation in Nova Scotia, prior to the coming of Cornwallis in 1749, was simply this: with the exception of a few English families at Annapolis Royal and a few more who resided on a seasonal basis at Canso, the only inhabitants of the province were French, the Acadians. There may have been 10,000 Acadians (see population table), most all of them farmers. They occupied the farming lands located around their first settlement at Port Royal (these days known as Annapolis Royal) in the early 1600s. Through the years they spread and occupied the best farming lands in all of Nova Scotia. These lands included the Annapolis Valley to the shores of Minas Basin and from there to the upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy to the Isthmus of Chignecto. (See map). Lesser populations of Acadians (fishers, traders and fur trappers) also existed in the Cape Sable (#8) area to the south of peninsular Nova Scotia on the hard shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Acadians were eventually to be found along the shores of a strait which we now know as the Strait of Northumberland [e.g., Tatamagouche (#8)].1 English garrisons, as mentioned, were to be found only at Annapolis Royal (#1) and at Canso (#13). There was no permanent French military presence on peninsular Nova Scotia, as the French had granted at the end of one of its wars with England, in 1713, that this part of Nova Scotia was thereafter English territory.

The year 1748, especially in comparison to the four years previous to that, was relatively quiet in Nova Scotia. It was indeed the year that The War of the Austrian Succession was brought to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. However the treaty was not signed until October and during that summer Mascarene wrote the deputies at Mines and severely reprimanded the Acadians for the "aid and comfort" they had given the enemy. Twelve of the Acadians were proscribed as being guilty of treason. Notices of rewards for their capture were posted both in Acadia and at Boston. On the first of June the Mahon and two armed schooners (the Anson, Capt. John Beare; and the Warren, 70 tons, Captain Jonathan Davis) came to Annapolis with stores for the garrison. Another vessel, "laden with merchandise" came up to Minas (Grand Pre), during the summer, there, to sell the merchandise and to use the proceeds to pay "those persons who had supplied provisions to Colonel Noble's troops ..."2 In the autumn of 1748, several vessels loaded with warlike stores came to Annapolis from Louisbourg, which, because of the English success in 1745, was then in English hands. We see too, where Gorham came up from New England to dislodge the French on the St. John River; he treated with them, but the few that were there continued to remain. With the closing of the season, the Anson and the Warren returned to Boston with retiring troops aboard.

And, so, we come to 1749, a year during which, though they had internationally recognized claims to it since 1713, the English, finally, laid a better hold on Nova Scotia. Plans to fortify Nova Scotia were to be implemented pretty much as was suggested by Peter Warren in 1747. Warren was to write3 the Duke of Newcastle on January 17th, 1747 and recommended a "strong fort, fit to contain a garrison of 500 men, [should] be built in the harbour of Chebucto [Halifax], to be mounted with 6 or 9 pounders. A blockhouse fit to contain 100 men [should] be built at Canso, mounted with some large cannon." Warren also recommended that "communication between Canada and that province be wholly cut off by blockhouses erected on the passes ..." The primary pass in respect to the communication with the Acadian population, would, of course, be at Chignecto (see map: number 6). These new forts were to be built in lieu of shoring up the fortifications at Annapolis, indeed, it was thought that once the new forts were built and garrisoned, that "Annapolis may be reduced to the number of 100 or 150 men." It was not just only Warren who wrote Newcastle, but Governor Shirley also did.4 The same sort of recommendations: "... a strong blockhouse there [Minas] with a garrison of 150 men ... another blockhouse there [Chignecto] equally necessary ... these two with a fort and a garrison at Chebucto [Halifax] of 300 men at least, and the continuance of a garrison of 300 at Annapolis Royal as it is at present, with a strong blockhouse at Canso garrisoned with 100 men ..."5 Shirley also recommended the extended use of "rangers," two companies of them in addition to that of Gorham's which had demonstrated their usefulness, each of 50 Indians (Mohawk), one to be posted at Minas and the other at Chignecto. Also it is recommended that there should be established two truck houses to be located, again, at Minas and at Chignecto. These truck houses would supply "the Indians with all necessaries in exchange for furs, and proper presents were made to them in the manner which the French use to keep them in their interest." Also Shirley recommended to Newcastle that there be two armed sloops with a tender to be constantly employed in the Bay of Fundy and around as far as Cape Sable; so, too, "one of his Majesty's Frigates be employed for the protection of the fishery at Canso" and which might run up to Bay Verte on occasion.

These plans were adopted, and, during June of 1749, an auspicious beginning was made with "The Founding of Halifax". Two stockaded forts were soon completed, including one known as Fort George located close to the top of what was to become known as Citadel Hill; and, before the first winter arrived, all about the town, there "had been completed, and a rough barricade of felled trees, logs" which had been carried around the settlement.6 A year was to pass, however, before Halifax was to be adequately fortified with the first rough barricade being replaced, by July of 1750, with a picketed line, or palisade. Then, in 1750, the English turned their attention to Georges Island, which, by 27th November, 1750, had seven heavy guns in place with a palisade around them. To complete the picture, I make but reference to a series of fortifications, the Peninsular Blockhouses, including the Peninsular Road, which were built in the ensuing years across the narrowest part of the Halifax peninsula, from the head of the North West Arm to Bedford Basin; thus, closing the back door to attack.7

Thus, it was to be, in 1749, that Halifax was to became the principal fortified place of the English in Nova Scotia and was to remain so. However, in keeping with the larger plan, other small forts were to be built in strategic places throughout Nova Scotia. On September 11th, 1749, Edward How, having returned from the St John River where he treated with the Indians at that place, was sent up the Basin (Bedford Basin, the body of water leading inland from the ocean, north-west of Halifax), there, to construct Fort Sackville. This was a natural outpost to the new community at Halifax. "It over looked the Sackville River, a water route used by the Indians in their travels to and from the interior parts of the Province, and commanded also the road to Minas which was cut through the woods some years earlier by the French in order to facilitate the shipment of provisions and livestock to Louisbourg."8

On July 12th, 1749, Mascarene and five of his councilors came up to Halifax from Annapolis Royal (which up to then had been the capital of Nova Scotia), in order to officially hand over power to the newly arrived governor, Edward Cornwallis.9 Cornwallis instructed Mascarene to return to Annapolis Royal and send a detachment from Annapolis Royal to Minas. On August 24th, 1749, Mascarene (at the age of 65 years, I should remind the reader) left Halifax together with "a captain, three Subalterns and hundred men." They marched overland, on, which by then, was a well established route to Annapolis Royal. On arrival, Mascarene sorted out his men under him and sent a detachment of men to Minas under Captain John Handfield. By November of 1749, there was, at Minas, British military presence which included "a picketed fort containing a blockhouse."10

The French at the Isthmus

We have seen where, in 1747, the French had a substantial force under Jean-Baptiste Ramezay at the Isthmus of Chignecto, indeed it was from their base at the isthmus that they were able to launch a successful attack against the New Englanders in their winter quarters at Grand Pre. After the French victory at The Battle at Grand Pre the French trekked back to their position at the isthmus. Shortly thereafter Ramezay, under newly received orders, pulled out his entire force and returned to Quebec. Thus, by the end of summer of 1747, there was not much of a French military presence in any part of Acadia.

In October of 1748, in Europe, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed by England and France bringing The War of the Austrian Succession to an end. By it, Acadia was confirmed to be English territory, as it had been since an earlier treaty signed in 1713. The parties, however, were not of the same mind as to where the Acadian territory ended and Canadian territory started. The English were of the view that Acadia included that which we now know as the Canadian province of New Brunswick: France did not; but, rather, was of the view that the "ancient limits" of Acadia meant that English territorial claims were limited to peninsular Nova Scotia. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle may have brought the war to an end; but, the controversy as to what lands constituted Acadian was to continue, -- as we shall see.

In the early part of 1749, the administrator of New France, Galissonniere, was determined, in the wake of the new peace, to flex the power of France by bolstering the French presence in the valleys of the Mississippi and the Ohio; and, of course, on the western edges of Acadia. Boishebert was chosen to go to Acadia. He went "out with eighty soldiers and militia. From Quebec they went on snowshoes (all the way) to Hocpaak, a French settlement, dragging their supplies and baggage with incredible exertions."11 In the fall of 1749, New France was to finally get its promised leader, one of dash and daring, la Jonquiere. Directly he arrived he approved of Galissonniere's earlier moves and took steps to increase the military strength at the borders of Acadia. La Jonquiere sent Chevalier la Corne with a detachment of regulars supported by Canadian militia, with instructions to hold Chignecto and prevent the English from going beyond the Missaguash12; thus it was that Fort Beausejour on the northern bank of the Missaguash River came into being.13

Directly he arrived, in the fall of 1749, at the western end, La Corne commenced the construction of Fort Beausejour. At the other end of the isthmus, at Baie Verte, about 15 to 20 miles away to the northeast, Fort Gaspereau was built.14 Earlier in the year, as we have seen, Galissonniere had sent Boishebert to the St John. Boishebert was to build a fort, of sorts, at its mouth. Boishebert did not stick exclusively to the St. John but traveled about attempting to garner support for the French flag in these western parts of Acadia. Traveling by canoe, a favourite mode of transportation for this 22 year old, he went to "the different settlements of this country disguised, sometimes as a sailor, sometimes as an Acadian habitant ..."15 Thus, by the time La Corne arrived, in the fall of 1749, Boishebert had paved the way to a considerable extent. La Corne was Boishebert's senior by 24 years, but La Corne had to be very much impressed by this young French officer; they had served together in Acadia during the years, 1746-47.

It is to be emphasized that it was not so much that the French military from Quebec were positioning themselves to recapture peninsular Nova Scotia, as, at this time, 1748-1755, they were not officially at war with the English, but more because the French were anxious to assert their territorial rights to Canada (as they perceived her boundaries to be); and, thus to protect its route for communications and supply from Quebec to Louisbourg. The French, however had strong connections to native populations, and encouraged their allies to keep the war up against the English, particularly, in light of the new English settlement at Halifax. Though numerous treaties had been signed16, the native Indians (it would appear more so the Malicites than the Micmac) kept up a considerable pressure17 on the English, pressure which proved to be successful (from the French/Indian perspective) in hindering English settlement. I have listed a number of raids in another part of my work, "The Indian Threat"; and, there is no need to take the matter up further, at this place. The attacks, however, went beyond just those against innocent settlers. For example, there was the attack on November 27th, 1749, "A party of about three hundred Micmac and St. John Indians"18 assisted by "eleven of the French inhabitants of Piziquid" attacked the English troops at Minas that were stationed there under Captain Handfield. They were to catch a Lieutenant Hamilton and eighteen men unawares and held them as prisoners. The natives prowled around the fortifications for about seven days and then disappeared into the woods. The Indians turned over the prisoners (including the one they took at the Dartmouth saw mill) to the French soldiers at the Tantramar River at the Isthmus; eventually these captives turned up in Quebec where there were ransomed back to the English.

The Battle at St Croix River (1750)

Given that there was "eleven of the French inhabitants of Piziquid" involved in the attack on the English troops at Minas, Cornwallis determined to send John Gorham and 60 of his Rangers to hunt the rebels down.19 At this time there was a small fort at Minas under the command of Captain Handfield; but, there was nothing at Piziquid. Cornwallis' orders to Gorham was "to take the properest post you can to dispose of your company to the best advantage, till you can erect a block house, for your security."20 Gorham and his men, who were at Fort Sackville (near Halifax), upon the first signs of spring made their way overland. After two days of travel, at about mid-March, 1750, they came to the St Croix River. It was there that they met up with a large number of Indians and a battle broke out. "A saw mill and two houses on the Halifax side of the river were commandeered, and for three days, Gorham fought a defensive action. As soon as the superior numerical advantage of the Indians became apparent, a messenger was sent post haste back to Fort Sackville for reinforcements. He made the 28 mile trip through the woods in eight hours."21 British regulars hauling two field pieces came to Gorham's aid and on their arrival the Indians melted back into the woods; the group proceed to Piziquid unmolested.

Lawrence's First Descent on Chignecto (April,1750)

One of the considerations, at the end of the war, of the English handing back Fortress Louisbourg, indeed all of Ile Royale and of Ile St. Jean (Cape Breton and Prince Edward Islands), as a term of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748), was that the French should understand that no lands, other than these islands at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, were to be considered French territory. The English knew that the French, notwithstanding their agreement, would proceed to push their southern limits far to the south of the St. Lawrence. A few weeks after Cornwallis arrived at Halifax, he was to receive instructions from the Lords of Trade, among the lines of which, we read: "And as there is great reason to apprehend that the French may dispute the right of the Crown of Great Britain to these territories, we further earnestly recommend to you to have a watchful eye to the security thereof and upon the proceedings of the French." Thus, during April of 1750, with the beachhead at Halifax having been fairly well established, Governor Cornwallis put Major Charles Lawrence under orders to establish himself and his troops at Chignecto.

"As there is reason to believe to apprehend that there is a detachment of French forces at Chignecto or thereabouts, and that they have erected a fort, in that case, you are to endeavour to erase it, as it is an open violation of treaties subsisting between the crowns of England and France."22
Having left Halifax on the 5th April with 300 men under his command, Lawrence made his way down the basin to Fort Sackville23 and from there he struck out overland on a well established route to Piziquid. We can but only imagine the men in their red military jackets trudging along a woods path, one wide enough to allow the hauling of a cart or gun carriage. The land had yet to come fully awake from its northern winter, though spring was showing its long awaited signs. Within a couple of days the bivouacking troops were to arrive at the land of the French Acadian inhabitants. John Salusbury had been sent along, and was to write:
April 7th, 1749
"Arrived that night at the five houses on the river St. Croix. Before we got there -- at about five miles distance [Stillwater] came down a very long descent to the River Ardois -- from the hill to the River Ardois, ... The vale deep and narrow and the assent perpendicular almost in some places ... in the vale the largest pines I ever saw ... in going near two mile [Ellershouse] we ascend into excellent gravel land clear ... Half a mile [St. Croix] further on the descent then into a good meadow land -- where the St. Croix falls in* -- we crossed that river over a new bridge made by Gorham after his
late action here. On a fine rising ground good land above the meadows the houses are -- even this land looks mineral tho' the surface is so good."24
In light of the fact that Gorham had been ambushed by an Indian force but a few weeks earlier, the men, following along in the same tracks, proceeded cautiously.25 On April 8th they arrived at the English "camp on the Piziquid River":
April 8th, 1749
"... now every little village in each particular district is called after the name of the clan and these are many. We marched ... for three hours ... then we opened on a fine champion [plain] -- with scattering houses. ... and this continued to the very banks of the river of Piziquid. This river carry's a great deal of water and the tide rises near sixty foot. At low water [tide] we waded through this river for the channel is wide ... about a half mile further we found St Loe encamped near a neat French chapel."
This was, as Salusbury was to observe, "excellent land." On Monday, April 9th, Lawrence's troops arrived at Grand Pre ("a large marsh, diked in and plowed"27). Unlike the Piziquid River through which they could wade at low tide, at the Gaspereau the troops had to be ferried across the short distance in canoes. They proceeded down the west side, "two miles," until they reached "the stone house28 on the Grand Pre" where Captain John Handfield was situated in "a picketed fort containing a blockhouse."29 There, round about Grand Pre, Lawrence's men were to pass a few days. With the addition of Gorham's rangers, which had joined in at Piziquid and certain of the men under Handfield, Lawrence now had some four hundred men under him, and, the plan was to sail the rest of the distance to Beaubassin. (See map.) The ships, of course, there being none regularly stationed at Minas, had to be sent around from Halifax. The fleet, under Captain John Rouse, had left Halifax on April 5th, the same day that the troops had set out on their overland march. It was to be a long voyage around, for 10 days were to pass; but, finally, on Sunday (Easter Sunday), April 15th, "Rouse arrived with the Dove and Phillips schooners."30 They did not depart for the isthmus right away, for there was some difficulty with the inhabitants at Grand Pre. Apparently, they had relieved a number of the locals of their arms and gave them to Gorham's Mohawks (rangers) as they had lost theirs. Thirty muskets were taken with promises that they would replace them. This move did not go over very well with the Acadians, and, for awhile there, it looked like that Lawrence would have to leave most of his men right there at Minas in order to quell a fomenting revolt. However, by whatever means31, things were settled down and most of Lawrence's troops boarded the six waiting transports and got underway away on April 18th with the gun ship Albany in escort.32

From Minas, the Isthmus of Chignecto might well be made on an overnight run, given fair winds and good tides. But fair winds and good tides are not something to be expected with any regularity in the waters of the Fundy. The fleet leaving the mouth of the Gaspereau at seven in the evening had a good start and managed its way out of the Minas Basin and through the choke point between Cape Split and Rams Head on the Parrsboro shore (as we know it today), and must have done so, mostly in the dark, on an outgoing tide. The tide or wind, likely both, then turned against the fleet and it tucked under Spencers Island in weather that John Salusbury described as "squaly with foggs." Within a day, the fleet was able to start out again and soon cleared Cape Chignecto; but the winds and tides again turned against them so they clawed their way into the sheltering waters beyond the mouth of Apple River. I should say that during these two days of sailing, smoke signals were observed first to the north of them and then to the east of them; their arrival at the Chignecto was being heralded to the knowing French in the most ancient of ways.33 Again the winds and tide turned and the ships of the fleet pulled in their riding rodes, and, clearing their anchorage, ran along the south eastern shores of Chignecto Bay and then into Beaubassin (Cumberland Basin). Ahead, was their objective; and ahead they could see yet more smoke; it was thick and seemed to curl away into the sky from several places to the east, -- why, the French community of Beaubassin, their intended disembarkation point, was, was -- in flames.34

Chevalier la Corne was ready for the descending Englishmen. And while he may have not positioned his regulars south of the Missaguash, his allies apparently did; and had struck upon a scorched earth policy. Le Loutre, who was now headquartered nearby, having determined that the people at Beaubassin, a community south of the Missaguash, should not live under direct English supervision, set fire, with his own hand, the parish church. His red and white adherents then went about systematically burning down this Acadian village, thus, ultimately, forcing the occupying Acadians to relocate beyond the Missaguash River out of peninsular Nova Scotia into a territory that was calculated, by the French, to be French.35

The day was "chill and windy with heavy showers" as the six transports and their escort rounded up and cast out their anchors. If the element of surprise was what was needed to get every one ashore safely, -- well such an element was lost. As John Salusbury wrote in his journal, "we found the enemy ready to receive us in all form. La Corne in his picketed fort so large as must have been the work of time." There was, ready to meet the four hundred men aboard the English transports, a great number of armed Frenchmen and their allies. And the French knew the terrain, and the English did not. A quick survey of the area convinced, at least Salusbury, that La Corne,

"had made his dispositions in a soldier like manner -- manned well the dyke on which he fixed his flag, that was equal to any entrenchment. With Indians had his own corps in reserve on the wind mill hill with a wood on his left and a river on his right, at a distance of a quarter of a mile from his picketed ground ... the asylum for all the rebel inhabitants. Now we had nothing but small arms nor a possibility of getting our cannon or shells to dislodge them. We might have fought but could never have made a proper impression -- in his circumstances and ours."
Lawrence, however, was not one to be easily deterred; he wished to take a closer look at the situation. He sent the York (Cobb's vessel) closer to the action, further up in the Basin which we now know as Cumberland Basin and just opposite the shore where the remains of the houses lay a-smoldering, a detachment under Captain Bartelle was sent ashore (Gorham and Clapham were in this shore party). This reconnoitering party was to return to the ship that evening, Saturday the 21st. Though the intelligence that Lawrence then had was not of the kind that would give him much encouragement of success, he, nonetheless, the next morning, Sunday morning, was successful at getting all of his 400 men ashore. The weather had been wet, though that Sunday conditions improved somewhat. The landing, being apparently south of the Missaguash, was not resisted by the French. However, it was plain to Lawrence as he lined up his troops that a crossing of the River to his north would be met with resistance from the French. "Whilst we were forming the troops a large white flag was waved several times by two peasants [Acadians] and afterward planted on a strong dyke with a small creek in front of it." Thinking it was a flag of truce, Lawrence sent a company of men over and they returned with the message that the flag was being planted as a "spot as being the boundary of the French king's territories." Lawrence also "observed that the dyke aforementioned was entirely lined with Indians from the sea at one end of it to a thick wood that flanked it on the other." Soon another flag was to appear and it became clear that La Corne wished a parley.
"I went to meet him in company with Captain Bartelle and Captain Scott, and on joining put to him all such questions as I thought were proper on the occasion, and such as I thought might contribute to the finding out his strength and the knowledge of his designs and intentions. Amongst other questions I demanded to know by whose orders he was there within His Majesty's undoubted limits, committing such unheard of outrages; he replied by M. Jonquiere's who had directed him likewise to take possession of Ceppodie, St. John's River, Memramcooke, Pitcodiak and all that country up to the river on our right, as being the property of the French king, or at least that he was to keep it and must defend it, till the boundaries should be settled by commissioners appointed for that purpose. I asked him where were the inhabitants; he said dispersed about in their territories, Where were the deputies? There were none. Who had burnt Beaubassin which he confessed belonged to the king of Great Britain. He said the Indians who claimed it as there own. By whose instructions? He knew nothing of that. Where was the villain Loutre? With his Indians ..."36
Well, there it was, as was perfectly plain to Lawrence: la Corne had a dyke "on his front, the sea to his right, an eminence with picketed ground to his rear, and a wood on his left." This was considered by Lawrence and his captains, together with the wet weather (not a good situation in the days when battles were fought with black powder that was required, several times during the course of such battles, to be loaded into the muzzles of muskets); and, too, there was the fact that the Missaguash River for some distance inland could not be crossed but with boats. As if this wasn't all bad enough: Lawrence was badly outnumbered. As against his four hundred there was, he calculated: 1000 Acadian men that may well be under arms; a mass of Indians; La Corne's detachment of regulars; a detachment of Canadians from Quebec; and, who knows how many "rebel inhabitants of all the different parts of the province." The English forces, understandably, retired to their waiting transports. That night, further discussions were had between the English officers. Lawrence concluded, in his report of the event, as follows:
"The next morning had the opinion of Captain Rouse [the commander of the fleet] and the principal officers upon that affair which were all in the negative; on the contrary they thought it much more for His Majesty's service to repair with the utmost despatch to Minas lest in the interim great mischief should be committed in that part of the province, which they rather apprehended from our ill success at Chignecto and the bad disposition of the Minas inhabitants at the time we sailed from thence. We therefore resolved to repair directly thither ..."
And, so, Lawrence and his 400 retired, and returned to the Minas area. The English would have had a bad time of it, if, in April of 1750, they had tried to establish themselves at Chignecto: there would be another day. Plainly, too, Lawrence was concerned about the worsening situation that he had observed earlier in the month as he marched through Piziquid and Grand Pre. The troops were needed at these nearer places. The worry was that these Minas Acadians might leave the province and join the French. After all, that's exactly what the Chignecto Acadians had gone and done. If, as was surely considered, there existed in the neighbourhood a strong English military presence, then the Minas Acadians might be prevented from "carrying off their effects."37

By the 26th of April, retracing their outward course, including layovers near Apple River and in behind Spencers Island, Lawrence and his men were back at Grand Pre. After disembarkation, the transports sailed back to Halifax38; but, again the troops went overland. The exercise would do them good; but, in addition, there was work to be done at Piziquid. Lawrence employed his forces to build a well positioned fort on the eastern side (Windsor) of the Piziquid, Fort Edward.39 By July the 22nd, Lawrence was back at Halifax.40

Lawrence's Second Descent on Chignecto (September,1750)

On August the 13th, the English military force at Halifax was considerably strengthened. Six transports, having departed Ireland earlier in the year, hauled into Halifax Harbour. Aboard was a full regiment, Laschelles', "all in health."41 We see on Friday, the 17th, at Halifax, there were "great preparations for the expedition, Rouse, the Fair Lady and several transports sailed for the Bay of Fundy." On the 19th, the weather being "warm, clear and fine, ... the troops under Lawrence went up in shallops to Fort Sackville." Lawrence, newly appointed to Lieutenant-Colonel, then went overland with his newly enlarged command.

To limit the time that the troops would have to spend on transports and in order to keep them well exercised, the style was to march them up to a debarkation point reasonably handy their objective. As it had been that spring, the embarkation was to take place at Grand Pre and their objective, of course, was Chignecto. The fleet, as we have seen, was assembled and provisioned at Halifax and then sent around. Captain Rous in the sloop, Albany was in charge of the fleet. There was, apparently, in total, "seventeen small vessels and about seven hundred men." This time, Lawrence was meaning to take firm control of the isthmus, above which the French had established, as we have seen, a strong presence.

I was in a position to give more detail on the Lawrence's first descent on Chignecto than I am in respect to the second descent, made, some two months later. The leaders on both sides were the same, the principal difference is that Lawrence arrived with more men, substantially more as one might discern from the fact that a greater number of transports were used in September versus April. So, too, Lawrence knew this second time what he was up against and undoubtedly brought some field pieces with him. Also, there seemed to be two valuable additions, "armed sloops," the Anson and the Warren which Edward How had chartered to the English. What we know is that this much strengthened fleet sailed from Minas on August the 31st42 and arrived at the isthmus on September 3rd. Lawrence, Rous and Gorham went in the Anson to reconnoitre the shore and pick out a landing place. A landing was made, and, Le Loutre and his followers were there, just as they had been that spring; he and his men "had thrown up a breastwork along the shore and manned it with his Indians and his painted and befeathered Acadians." The English forces apparently got themselves ashore, and, after a "sharp skirmish,"43 the Le Loutre forces retired north, behind the river Missaguash. What remained of the Acadian habitations in the area was torched: "the Indians and their Acadian allies set the houses and barns on fire, and laid waste the whole district, leaving the inhabitants [at least those remaining after the spring conflagration] no choice but to seek food and shelter with the French."44 Lawrence did not cross the Missaguash in force. He was satisfied to dig in on the south side of it, effectively letting La Corne have his way, viz., the French were to remain to the north of it, the English to the south of it.

On an elevation, a short distance south of the Missaguash, Lawrence then commenced the erection of a picketed fort.45 It was built up, in time, and was to have block-houses incorporated into its structure. We shall come to a better description of Fort Lawrence when we tell of the momentous events of 1755 in the next part of this history, sufficient, to say, at this place, that through the years 1750 to 1755 it was garrisoned by a few hundred English soldiers. And, across the Missaguash River, within easy sight was its opposite pawn, Fort Beausejour, garrisoned by an equal number of French soldiers. No major battle was to unfold, after all, this was a time of "peace." Parlaying parties would come forth, and exchanges would be made on one side or the other of the Missaguash. The exchanges might be that of prisoners who had the misfortune of straying into the wrong territory, or it may be a keg of wine or a special food which one commander thought the other might like for his table. However, this was a time of unease, for, while the parties were not at war: ancient hates continued to seethe.

It is in this atmosphere, on September the 6th (NS), 1750, an "atrocious act of treachery" was to take place. Francis Parkman described this event:

"One morning, at about eight o'clock, the inmates of Fort Lawrence saw what seemed an officer from Beausejour, carrying a flag, and followed by several men in uniform, wading through the sea of grass that stretched beyond the Missaguash. When the tide was out, this river was but an ugly trench of reddish mud gashed across the face of the marsh, with a thread of half-fluid slime lazily crawling along the bottom; but at high tide it was filled to the brim with an opaque torrent that would have overflowed, but for the dikes thrown up to confine it. Behind the dike on the farther bank stood the seeming officer, waving his flag in sign that he desired a parley. He was in reality no officer, but one of Le Loutre's Indians in disguise, etienne Le Batard, or, as others say, the great chief, Jean-Baptiste Cope. Howe, carrying a white flag and accompanied by a few officers and men, went towards the river to hear what he had to say. As they drew near, his looks and language excited their suspicion. But it was too late; for a number of Indians, who had hidden behind the dike during the night, fired upon Howe across the stream, and mortally wounded him. ...46
Edward How was "an intelligent and agreeable person."47 He ably represented the English claims to Nova Scotia; but, in so doing, he proceeded with "the greatest of fidelity and care." He was forever mindful that minds, faculties, and manners differed, not only from one race to another, but from one man to another. How, on the day of his death, was doing what he did best, as the DCB describes, he went out under "a flag of truce ... to secure the release of some English prisoners." This was a regular event for Edward How, as he proceeded out to parley with what he thought was a fellow officer, a French officer, when, but in a brief and for him a last moment, he saw, but not to hear, arise from the cover of the dyke and the tall marsh grass in between, a line of men; and then, along the line, puffs of white smoke. Treacherous men sent their messengers into his chest. And, so, we end this part with the scene of Edward How: slain, lying in the deep grass that lines the Missaguash River; there, splayed on his back, lifeless and still, his tunic of homespun serge ripped apart by a score of leaden blunt balls, and his red bright blood oozing its last.48


[NEXT: ACADIA: Part 6 - "The Taking of Beausejour and the Deportation of the Acadians."]

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