A 19TH Century Canadian Time Capsule

The town of Halifax was often attacked in the night, and its inhabitants didn’t venture far at night in fear of being shot, scalped, or taken prisoner. The Indian attackers were often led by a Frenchman, and prisoners were sold to Louisburg for arms and ammunition. Louisburg pretended that they had purchased the prisoners in compassion, saving them from sure death – but would not release them to the English unless a large ransom was paid.

You know the English were Protestants, and the Acadians were Roman Catholics. When the English took Port Royal, they told the Acadians they might sell their goods, and go away; or, if they chose to remain and be good subjects of the King of England, they should be allowed to enjoy their own religion, and have their own priests; and Judge Haliburton seems to think it was by these priests, that the Acadians were incited to revolt against the English.

In response to these brutalities, Governor Cornwallis decreed that all the French inhabitants had to take the oath of allegiance as British subjects, and that the King of England would allow no man to hold land that would not take up arms and fight for him in time of war.

He informed them, that had they left Nova Scotia following the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, they could have sold their lands, but at this time they were not permitted to sell their property and leave the province.

The Deputies of the Acadian settlements returned to their towns without making a decision toward swearing allegiance. Some Natives came from the borders of the St. John River and attacked Minas (now Lower Horton). Cornwallis had established a fort at Minas and Pesiquid (Windsor), and had posted soldiers to each.

The Natives had killed 18 soldiers at Minas, and besieged the fort for one month. Four men were killed and scalped at Dartmouth, and they made an attempt to murder the crews of two English vessels in the Harbour, resulting in more than half of the crews being killed or wounded.

Cornwallis was angered by the extent of violence, and declared that all French emissaries that took up arms, or supplied arms against the English should be put to death. A company of Rangers from New England (trained in fighting Natives), along with some companies of local volunteers pursued the Natives, and relieved the attacks on Halifax for a while.

Next, a price of 10 guineas was offered by Governor Cornwallis of Massachusetts for every Native Scalp. This method of confirming the deaths of Natives convinced the Governor that the settlement was once again safe from attack.

1750 – Cornwallis heard that the Commander-in-Chief of Canada sent two vessels to Bay Verte with 600 men, and that many Natives were collecting at the same place.  He ordered the construction of a wooden breastwork round the town of Halifax for its defence.

The French controlled the narrow isthmus between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, allowing the Natives to stage their attacks from the continent against the peninsula, and to retreat safely. The French constructed a fort at Bay Verte on the grounds that it belonged to the government of Canada.

Acadians from Chiegnecto joined the effort, and the French Commander, LaCorne found himself in command of 1500 men.
Spring, 1750 – Cornwallis sent Major Lawrence with a few men to Chiegnecto. Major Lawrence discovered the need for more men and returned to Halifax, where he gathered close to 1000 men.

On returning to the isthmus, the Natives and French tried to prevent his landing. He had departed the bay of Halifax, entering the Atlantic, sailing around Cape Sable, up the Bay of Fundy, and into the Cumberland Basin. His concerted attack against the enemy on shore forced them to retreat across the Massaguash (River). LaCorne had named his fort Beau Sejour. The English built a fort on the opposite bank and called theirs Fort Lawrence.

1751 – Despite the existence of Fort Lawrence, many Natives infiltrated Nova Scotia to successfully surprise the town of Dartmouth, where they killed and scalped a great number of people, and carried some others off. Cornwallis returned to England, and the English government made a complaint at the French court – to no avail, because the French and English were technically at Peace.