A History of Nova Scotia Page

Book #1: Acadia. TOC
Part 6 -- The Deportation of the Acadians TOC
Ch. 12 --
"Grand Pré, Part II."

On the 26th of September, in Minas Basin, sailed three newly arrived ships. Two were the provision vessels which Winslow had long expected: the Halifax (snow, John Taggert, master) and the Ulysses (sloop, Captain Rogers). The third, was a British naval vessel, HMS Nightengale (Captain Digges). Thomas Saul was aboard the Halifax and was proceeding under Governor Lawrence's instructions.1 The Halifax had provisions for the transports, which, it was expected, would be lined up and waiting at Minas. However, as we have seen, there were but only five, and, three times that number was needed. The Ulysses, while at one point at Chignecto, had come in from the capital of Halifax, having taken aboard there, on September the 13th, provisions for "four weeks for Colo Winslows detachment at Mines, 400 men."2 The Halifax, being a snow, was a substantial vessel, I suppose it had to be, as it was to provision all of the expected transports vessels at Grand Pré, Piziquid and at Annapolis Royal. The provisioning of the vessels at Chignecto had been completed and Grand Pré was Saul's second stop. It was likely that details were given to Winslow by Saul as to the happenings at Chignecto; further, Saul had aboard letters for him from Chignecto. Only then, after some discussion with Saul -- as one might conclude on an over all view and analysis of the correspondence -- did Winslow come to the conclusion that he ought not, as he had right along, to expect that the needed transports would be coming from Chignecto3; though, he continued to hope that a couple might yet come from that quarter. Saul wanted to know what he was to do after he "victualed" the five transport vessels. "Where were the others?" How long was it expected that he should have to wait, as, there were transports at Annapolis Royal that were waiting on him? Chiming in would have been Captain Dudley Digges of His Majesty War Vessel, Nightengale. He had been detached from Admiral Boscawen's fleet, the bulk of which was then, I suppose, at Halifax. We can just hear this naval captain, "Yes! Yes! I must be moving along. We have fair winds. These transports -- from where did you say they were coming? When?" These were questions that Winslow could not answer. For two days, it would appear, there were discussions between Winslow, Digges, and Saul; then Winslow, at least together with Digges, took the whale boat and sailed off to Piziquid, but 12 miles away, to consult with Captain Murray at Fort Edward. A plan had been struck which would necessitate an immediate application to the governor at Halifax, a plan that might yet save the situation.

On returning to his quarters at Grand Pré, Winslow went to his desk and drew out his writing material:

Grand Pre Camp, September 29th 1755
May It Please Your Excellency,
I am Favored with yours of the 23 Instant, and am Greatly Pleased that my Proceedings have Met with your Excellencys approbation and it would have Doubled that Pleasure Could I inform your Excellency of the Arrival of the Transportes (you were So Good as to Mention) from Chignecto, but alas in that Pointe we Fail and are Entirely Disappointed, as Capt Taggert arrived on the 26th with Mr. Saul & the Provisions and Information that there is not more Vessels then will take of the People they have, and that no Dependance Can be had of relief from that Quarter, I have also a Letter from Colo Monckton, in answer to one I wrote him Desiering to Know what Vessels Might be Depended on, and Sent in a whale Boate from this with your Excellencys Dispatches, but in return he does Not so as much Mention anything about the Transportes, have Duly Considered these things and yesterday Morning went up with a whale Boat to Forte Edward to Consult with Captain Murray on These affairs, when it was by us Determined That as Major Handfield Could Not begin his Embarkation of the Inhabitants of the River of Annapolis, til he had a Large Detachment from me as he Informed Me by the return of the Party Sent to convey the Deputys, who belonged to that River, and my officer in Passing up and Down the River Says, that all the men Left their Habitation on his approach.
And Such a Detachment in our apprehension in our Present Situation Cannot be Spared, and that the Transportes Intended for the removing the People there are & will be Idle, Concluded it Proper to Propose to your Excellency, wither or not, it would be best that these Transportes now at Annapolis Joyne us as Soon as Possible and we Go Through with Shipping the Inhabitants here and at Piziquid & that Others Might be provided to replace those already there while we were a Going through this party of Duty, which when over I Should be able to Send a Sufficient Force to assist Major Handfield, or if your Excellency thought Necessary the whole Party might be ordered to his assistance, your Excellency will Give me Directions in those Points, for as matters now are, the Season Growing Every Day worse and we Gaine Nothing Forward for want of Vessels am Greatly Mortifyed that we Loose Time. I have advise from Capt Lewis of the 25th Instant, that the Inhabitants of Cobequid have Entirely Deserted that Country and that he began to Burn and lay waste on the 23rd and Intended to Finish as This Day. The Boat that Brought this Express Brought one of our Party who had the Misfortune to be Shott Through his Shoulders by a Brother Sentry when on Post taking him to be an Enemy. The Vessel that Carryed Capt Lewis party was Drove out from Cobequid Bay and arrived here this morning without a Boate & Left the party Destitute (& by whom I have this Verbal Intelligence) I have ordered her to Depart for that Place as Soon as the Tide will admit having a Good Deal of Concern for that Party.4
... We have Received Six Hhds Molasses from Mr. Winslow [a relative who served as a commissary Chignecto] ... I have Certain Intelligence that partys of the French Do Pass & repass across from Shepody Side over to ours & that they hold rendezvouses &c about the River Pero. As Soon as Capt Lewis returns Shall Make a Thorough Visit to that part and the old River Habitant where are Villages I have but Lately heard of and none of their Inhabitants Come in.
We are Not as yet able to Do anything in Getting out ye Grain Nor Like too til we have God rid of our French Friends ...
Capt Diggs arrived here on the 26th Instant in his Majestys Ship the Nightengale and Expected our People were Embarked & Informed Me that he Could remain but a Short time wither the Vessels were ready or Not, but however was Soo Good as to go up with me to Capt Murray and acquaint with the Scheme Proposed and will waite the return of this Express, wither he writes the admiral or Not I Don't Know your Excellency is Best Judge what is necessary to be Done on that account.
The French are Constantly plying me with Petitions & remonstrances with which I Shante Trouble your Excellency but with one which they So Importunate with me to Send that I Could Not put them off.
Here is one Colo Donnal an old Trader in this part recommended to me by My Friend Sir Willm Pepperrell, that Says he has a Quantity of Indian Corne and Some Goods that he Imported into this Place, and the Property of them never altered, and desiers permission to take them off. I have Told him nothing Can be Done but by you Excellencys Immediate orders which I Shall waite.
Our People in Camp Suffer as their Camps are very thin & do Not Protect them from the rain or Could and Can't but apprehend their Health is in Danger, which moves me more Pressingly to alter our Situation and that as Soon as May be. Here is one jean dine [sic?] whose Parents were English and he Borne in New Yorke and is Very Serviceable here and would be Glad to remain (has Marryd a French wife). I Told him I would acquaint your Excellency & believe he would be of Service to Settlers that may Come as he has a Perfect Knowledge of the Country. Have now on Board the Transportes, 330 men.
Am with the Greatest regards your Excellencys Most Dutifull Most obedient & Humble Servt.
John Winslow.
On his Majtys Service To His Excellency Chas Lawrance Esq Lievt Govr & Commandr in Chief of his Majtys Province of Nova Scotia &c.
5
On the same day, the 29th, Winslow dispatched Ensign Fasett with 30 men to travel overland via Fort Edward to Halifax. Time was now clearly running out, and if the governor didn't direct the transports now lying at Annapolis Royal up to Minas, then, all the work at Minas will have been for naught. Murray and Winslow waited. These were the days when messages were physically delivered in person and a considerable period of time might elapse before an exchange was completed; Halifax was two days away on foot. Winslow and Murray continued to wait and commiserate. On the 30th, Murray came down to Grand Pré and was to return that evening.6

On October 4th, Ensign Fasett and his party came in from Halifax. He had with him a packet from Governor Lawrence, it contained a letter for Winslow and another for Major Handfield at Annapolis Royal. Lawrence had finally come to the realization, "we will fall short of transports." (He obviously had been of the view that Monckton at the isthmus would have enough left over to send down to Winslow.) He was in full agreement with the suggestion made in Winslow's letter of the 29th that all the transports at Annapolis Royal should be relocated to Minas, so that, those Acadians at that place might be taken off at once. As for Handfield, Lawrence would "send him transports from hence [Halifax] in a few days7 to replace those we take from him. Therefore you will please to hurry away the major's letter with all speed to prevent his shipping any of the people there and that you may have the vessels, as soon as possible."8 Winslow was to immediately act, and, within half an hour of Ensign Fasett and his party coming in, organized another party of 30 men under Lieutenant Fitch and sent them out, overland to Annapolis Royal. (See map.) Fitch's detachment would have taken two days to get to Annapolis Royal. Handfield didn't waste much time implementing the orders; for, on October 10th, seven transports were to arrive at Grand Pré.9 The vessels were: the Hannah, the Dolphin, the Three Friends, the Ranger, the Swan, the Sarah & Molly, and the Prosperous.

They finally had their vessels; and, the deed could be done. On the 10th of October, the mouth of the Gaspereau was bristling with sails. Earlier, though, with the message having come up from Governor Lawrence on the 4th, both Murray and Winslow knew that they could start taking positive steps in the loading process. They had, it will be recalled, five vessels that had long been waiting in the stream: the Mary, the Endeavour, the Industry, the Elizabeth, and the Leynord. In addition, the Neptune was at the mouth of the Piziquid and had been there since August the 31st. With the exception of the Elizabeth and the Neptune, which it would appear were kept clear in order to transport troops, as was the case for Captain Lewis' detachment which went to Chignecto, the ships had been used, as we have seen, as floating prisons for the Acadian men which had been isolated during the early part of September. There was to be a juggle, now that the loading of the families was to commence. Each transport was to take full sets of families from one or two villages immediately adjacent.10 I suspect that the Mary, Endeavour and the Industry were to continue to act as prison ships while the other transports were loaded, with the prison population being thinned as the men were joined up with their respective families.

The Elizabeth and the Leynord were cleared and made ready to receive the first families from Grand Pré. Notices had gone out to the selected families to bring themselves and what of their personal possessions they could carry to the embarkation point. They were to meet on the 7th, but rainy weather delayed the embarkation of these first two vessels to the 8th. In the meantime the news that it was now to really happen, that they were to be put on vessels and sent away from their lands, swarmed from family to family. The men, too, were to get the news from the family members who came aboard the prison ships as they had been allowed to do right along. A certain group of young men, about 24 of them, in the confusion of a rain storm, on the 7th, managed to make good an escape. According to an account given by Winslow,11 they had gotten away from two of the "prison ships" by disguising themselves as women. (It was a regular daily event for Acadian women to go back and forth to the vessels with baskets of food for their menfolk.) They got ashore and were on the loose for a number of days. Winslow was to launch an immediate investigation: he wanted to know how these men got loose. He was to determine that the escape took place mainly through the instigation of one Francis Hebert, "either the contriver or abetter." Hebert, I believe, was one of the prisoners aboard the Leynord, presumably, one of the two vessels from which the young men had made their escape. Winslow was to pull Francis Hebert off the vessel together with "his effects shipt." Winslow then ordered that he should be brought to his (Hebert's) house, there, at Grand Pré. Herbert was then ordered to put all of his goods inside of his house. He then was made to stand there in front of his house, together, presumably, with a gathered crowd so that they might all witness the next event. The house was torched by the English together with all of Hebert's "effects." Then Winslow made pronouncement for all the spectators to hear, if "these men did not surrender themselves in two days, I should serve all their friends in the same manner."12

Winslow's drastic measure was not to have the intended effect, at least, not for a number of days. The young Acadian men made their escape on the 7th of October, and, we see that by the 12th they were still on the loose. These were busy days for Winslow's men: a sufficient number of transports were now at Grand Pré, and that meant getting provisions and people back and forth from ship to shore; it meant getting parties of his men out to the various villages and arranging which families should go on which transports. So, there wasn't much time to go chasing run-a-ways. On the 12th however there was an encounter. I quote from Winslow's journal: "Our parties reconnoitering the country fell in with one of the French deserters, who endeavoured to make his escape on horse back. They hailed him and fired over him, but he persisted in riding off when one of our men shot him dead off his horse." Apparently, this same party Winslow had sent out met more of the deserters, and, "fired upon them, but they made their escape into the woods." These incidents on the 12th, it seems, drove the English soldiers into thinking that it was open season on any Frenchman that seem to be out of place. The problem was serious enough, such that Winslow had to restrain his men. For example, on the 13th we see this entry: "Morning Orders: Whereas orders some time since was given directing that no soldier stir out of the pickets without order saving for water and that only with a non-commissioned officer, which lately have been violated and the French inhabitants thereby injured, this is therefore to remind the soldiers of this camp of the former orders and to require strict obedience to them."13 It seems that a number of the ordinary soldiers were of the view that since the Acadians were going to be obliged to leave most everything behind; well, that must mean that Acadian property was free for the taking. And, it was not just the soldiers which managed to get beyond the pickets, so too the seaman -- of which, as of October the 10th, there were quite a number -- were coming off of the waiting transports and escort vessels and giving the Acadians unnecessary trouble. On the 13th, Winslow gives further orders: "Whereas complaint has been made to me by the French inhabitants ... as people who come after cattle etc. ... no seaman without the master of the vessel, being with him, or an order in writing from the master showing their business, be allowed to pass higher than the Dutchman's house nor on the other side of the River Gaspereau, nor any Englishman, or Dutchman14 stir from their quarters without orders, that an end maybe put to distressing these distressed people ..." As for the escaped Acadians: in the middle of all of this, they all came in, it seems in a peaceful manner. How this was accomplished, -- is not something the record shows; except that there was a promise that these young men would not be punished, and that they would all be allowed to go aboard the transports to join with their respective families with nothing more to be said about it.15

So, it was, that the loading of the Acadian families started on October 8th, 1755. The Elizabeth and the Leynord were the first to be loaded and were to receive 80 families from the Grand Pré region. The Acadians embarked, as Winslow was to describe in his journal, "very sullenly and unwillingly, the women in great distress carrying off their children in their arms. Others carrying their decrepit parents in their carts and all their goods. Moving in great confusion and [it] appears as a scene of woe and distress."16 These two ships loaded, Winslow had no choice but to hold up for the other vessels which he had faith would be up from Annapolis Royal within a few days. In the meantime he continued to get the people on the shore sorted out in anticipation of their embarkation. So, too, the men aboard the "prison ships" were being ferried about so that they may be re-assigned to their particular transport ship with their families when the right moment was to come. Captain Digges of the HMS Nightengale continued to complain to Winslow, as he did in his letter sent ashore on the 10th: "With great impatience I waited for these sloops from Annapolis but there is no sign of appearance, I should be glad to hear when you really expect them, we had a fair wind yesterday & the day before, what detains them." He then asks to borrow Winslow's shallop so that he can replenish his water;17 further, he would be grateful if Winslow "could send me some yeast for bread which you were so kind to promise me the other day." Also this very English naval captain was to remind Winslow of his "promise concerning a little fresh meat, for my people, two bullocks will be of great service."18

No sooner had Captain Digges registered his complaint to Winslow about the non-appearance of "these sloops from Annapolis," than, on the same day, the 10th of October, that seven sailing vessels, to which we have referred above, hoved into view off the shore at Grand Pré; and, it can be imagined, much to everyone's relief. Finally, after weeks of delay, Winslow had enough transports to just about to do the job that he had been sent to do; seven weeks back.

The English at Grand Pré, now had their work cut out for them. The entire fleet of transports were to be, all at once, -- provisioned, loaded with Acadian families and made ready for sea. Three of the new arrivals19 were designated to be sent up to Murray at Piziquid.20 Winslow was left with nine, four of which (the Mary, the Industry, the Indeavour and the Prosperous), on October the 19th, were sent along the coast a few miles away to Pointe-des-Boudrot. There, 677 persons, being the inhabitants of Rivière-aux-Canards and Rivière-des-Habitants, were embarked.21

I should say, too, at about this time, to add to the gathering fleet at the mouth of the Gaspereau, there was to come in, within a day or two of the 13th, the Chignecto transports. Monckton had sent them over to rendezvous. They had aboard, 1652 Acadians which had been embarked at Beaubassin.22 (See map.)

Things were now quickly coming to their conclusion. On the 20th of October, the four transports that had been loaded at Piziquid dropped down the basin to join the other vessels which were still being loaded at Grand Pré. They had sailed from Piziquid with over a 1000 Acadians aboard. The provision ship, Halifax, accompanied them and Murray was aboard. It seems, then, that there was some juggling of the people as between the fourteen Minas transports, which, by then, had collected up in the one spot; such, that the four transports that came in from Piziquid were to have their numbers reduced. I think these British officers, particularly Winslow, were very conscious of the problems of over crowding and were doing all they could do to relieve the problem. One of the steps taken was to press into service a trading vessel, which, having come up from New England, was just then at Minas. This vessel was the Seaflower. The Seaflower took up a number of the Piziquid Acadians, which Winslow could plainly see, were crowded on those vessels which Murray had loaded up.

A good recap of the above events which were to unfold after the ten transports came in from Annapolis Royal on October the 10th, can be found in a contemporaneous letter which Winslow had sent to Governor Lawrence:

"After the arrival of the seven sail from Annapolis, three of them, after victualing, I sent forward to Captain Murray at Fort Edward. The others remained at Minas, and after two days to fill water and take on board wood, we began to embark the inhabitants & shipt the whole at Grand Pré & River Gaspereau. And, to expedite this affair, sent Capt Adams with half of my party to encamp between the River Canard & Inhabitant at a place called Boudrot Point, where the whole inhabitants of those rivers and all Larure Habitants [?] & Peron were ordered to be & in compliance of those orders actually came with their whole families & effects and having been given orders to the transports that had the inhabitants of Grand Pré etc. on board on the 18th. On the 19th went to Budrot Point to dispatch those collected there ..."
Winslow continues in his written report:
"On the 21st was completed & the transports fell down under convoy of Captain Adams [I believe this to be Captain Abraham Adams of the Warren] to the Nightengale, Captain Diggs [the man-of-war which Admiral Boscawen had sent up from Halifax and which arrived at Grand Pré on September the 27th, whose captain was most anxious to get underway]. And although I put in more than two to a ton, and the people greatly crowded,23 yet remains on my hands for want of transports the whole villages of Antoine & Landry & some of Cannard amounting to 98 families & upwards of six hundred souls, all of which I have removed from boudrot point to Grand Pré, where I have at present set them down in houses nearest the camp and permit them to be with their families upon their word of being at any call ready to embark and answering to their names upon the roll call at sun set in the camp."24
So it was, that we would have seen, on October 27th, 1755, a fleet of twenty-four sailing vessels making their way out of the Minas Basin on an ebbing tide. Of the 21 transports, fourteen carried Acadians from Minas and seven from Chignecto. There were three armed vessels which escorted the fleet.25 Of the seven transports from Chignecto there were 1652 Acadians aboard; the five from Piziquid, 1062; the five from Grand Pré, 826; and the four from Rivers Canard and Habitant, 677. Thus, on that day, a grand total of 4217 Acadians were borne out of the Minas Basin, away, from their native lands.26

With most all of the Acadians gone and those that were left, five to six hundred, compressed into their cousins' homes in the Grand Pré area, the English could proceed with the execution of the final part of their plan without being bothered by "weeping & waling" Acadians. Detachments spread out into the Acadian countryside; and, then, proceeded to torch every standing structure they came upon. Close up there was the crackle and heat of raging fires; and, in the nearby fields, animals,27 some on the scurry, others looking on over their shoulders, seemingly wondering; and, in the distance, all about, stretching everywhere, twirling white plumes reach into the blue. Within two weeks, excluding those at Grand Pré, 698 wooden structures went up in smoke.28

With his work all but done Winslow broke up his forces,29 and, leaving Grand Pré, set out for Halifax by foot on November 13th.30 He left behind Capt. Phineas Osgood together with 130 men.31 Winslow had seen to the deportation of 1510, but yet left, as the noted historian, Placide Gaudet figured, were 732 Acadians.32 By November the 29th we see that Winslow was at Halifax and was writing the commander at Minas. He expressed the hope that there will be no further "delay in putting a finishing stroke to the removal of our friends, the French."33 In December, Osgood, with four more transports having been found, cleared out the last of the Acadians. He then burnt the remainder of the wooden structures at Grand Pré and departed overland for Halifax, leaving, no evidence of the Acadian occupation except the blackened ruins of stone foundations.


[NEXT: Pt. 6, Ch. 13 - "Deportations At Pisiquid & Annapolis Royal."]

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