A blog on War gaming in North-eastern North America from 1670-1815, the life of an ex EFL instructor, a family man formerly in Japan and now in Canada , a camper, a reenactor, a drummer, and all round crazy but home Nova Scotian. Currently a security officer.
Saturday, 15 December 2012
Euan the Drummer boy
This is one of my novel stories which I hope to get published someday. However, it is still a work in progress. The story is about 200 pages long.
Euan the little drummer
By Rod Redden
fire was crackling and the warmth it gave helped heat the old man`s bones.It was an early spring evening of 1814.
Another war in Euan`s life was occurring but he was not in this one. Euan was
an 80 year old man who had joined the British Army as a drummer boy. On his 80th
birthday, his family gathered for a celebration. Euan had married a Mohawk
woman and had 5 children with her. 2 of his grandsons were off fighting in Upper Canada against the
Americans. Both men, Thomas and Calvin were members of the Nova Scotia
Fencibles, and had been sent there to support the other Canadian regiments. As
Euan looked out into the yard of his home, he saw a large table set up. There
was a fire pit built in the centre of the yard where a pig was slowly roasting
on the fire. It`s fragrance filled the air, and he smiled knowing that this pig
would feed his family well. Of his other children, Alex was 34 and he had been
married for 10 years with his own wife. They had had a girl, Anne who was 9,
who loved her Grandfather dearly. Euan was a tough old man who had seen many
adventures in his life. His story was like that of many soldier settlers who
had come to Nova Scotia.
His home sat on a
plot of land he had been granted from his service in the American Revolution.
As he had served as a soldier in the 84th Regiment, he was given a
land grant in township
of Rawdon, but the only
thing which seemed to grow in those hills was rocks. He moved his family to the
MusquodoboitValley. The land there was pretty to
look at; small rolling hills with a majestic river slowly winding it`s way to
the coast. But the land wasn`t good for farming, the only food you could grow
were potatoes. He was able to raise some sheep and pigs to sell and trade with
the other settlers. Once in a while, he was even able to sell his pigs to the
garrison in Halifax.
Allison had married and moved to a different part of Nova Scotia. Her husband
was a farmer but had been called up into the militia. As he had a family of his
own, he had been able to serve in Nova Scotia defending his home in Truro. But
for this occasion she had traveled for a week through the woods with a guide
she had been able to hire. Allison had a daughter of her own, Beth who was just
shy of her second birthday.
Anne was sitting at
her Grandfather`s knee playing with her little Cinderella doll. It was a doll
which on one side was dressed in a gown for the ball, but if you turned it
inside out, it was Cinderella doing her chores in the castle.
“Grampie, can you
tell us a story” said the young girl. “Well, little Anne, I suppose so,
which one would you like to hear about
tonight? Would stories of the old country suit you?” The old man began to
think, but his granddaughter asked, “how did you come here Grampie, why did you
So Euan began to remember all those years ago when he was just a boy. Was it
nearly 70 years that he had been in Nova Scotia? “Well now, if I tell the story
perhaps we`d best have all the children and grandchildren here. Come here me
family and I`ll tell ya how we`ve come to be here in Nova Scotia” “Ah Da,
you`re going to tell us a long tale. Shall I stoke the fire and make a pot of
tea” asked his son Alex. “Ah Alex, you should for it`s a long tale, full of
adventure, danger, excitement, sorrow, love and life. Pull up a chair you older
ones, Emily me lovely wife, pass me my tea mug. Right, now where do I begin,
well at the beginning I suppose”
Chapter 1: A cold and
It was a cold and rainy day in County Clare,
Ireland. A young boy was looking out over the grass covered hills that made up
his landlords fields where he had to sit all day and watch the sheep. He was
wrapped up in a wool blanket around himself to try and keep the rain out. The
boy could feel every bit of the cold and damp creep into his body from the hard
stone he was sitting on to the bone chilling wetness that was taking away his
warmth. The blanket`s rough wool scratched at his neck as he watched the rain
drops drip off his nose. The boy had no hat save for the bonnet that he was
wearing. The boy`s life had not always about watching sheep, he had had a good
life, but being a boy of only 10, Euan Kenny could barley conceive what had
happened to his family.
was born on May 27th,
1734. His father, Lindsay was an improvished junior officer in the
British Army while his mother was Jean Peppard, a lowland Scot who his father
had met while his regiment had been on campaign in Scotland. Euan was born only a year
after his parents had married. It was hard to remember now, but his childhood
memories were happy. Euan remembered going to the sea shore with his mother,
learning to play the boran and sing from his Da and having a nice cozy home in
his father`s patron`s home.”
Lindsay Kenny was an accomplished bagpiper. He
had learned the art from his uncle John who had been a soldier in the army of
James II. Lindsay would travel the length and breath of Ireland playing at
county fairs and any gatherings.
Lindsay had done well for himself. He made a
modest amount playing for weddings, wakes and funerals. At one of these fairs,
there had been a British regiment which was recruiting. The officer in charge
was a Colonel Fraser. The Colonel was so taken with my father`s piping, that the
officer immediately hired the young Irishman to play pipes for him.
Lindsay had served
his patron loyally through Fraser`s service, but there was no war to fight. The
only action which Lindsay`s regiment had seen was against Spanish troops who
had come over to Scotland in 1719 in an attempt to support the Jacobite rebels.
At Glensheil Euan’s father, had drawn his
broadsword and cut down 3 Spanairds attacking his master. For this act of
devotion, Col. Fraser had given Lindsay a purse with enough guineas to buy a
commission into Fraser`s Regiment. Thus Lindsay had become a Lieutant. When the
rebellion was over, Col. Fraser retired from the army and bought an estate、Leamaneh Castle in Ireland. Lindsay went on
half-pay and they had moved to Ireland to work on the estate.”
Lindsay continued to
play his pipes for his lord, but Jean was an extremely bored woman. She had not
married a British officer for him to only play pipes for an old man. She had
married to see the sights of London
and mingle with high society.
As he recounted these
events, Euan`s face turned into a frown as he remembered. “During a night of
festivities when Col. Fraser was entertaining the officers of a Regiment of
Dragoons, me mum took up a conversation
with a young officer. Hearing of his deeds and travels, Jean decided that she
had no further use for my father. Jean was a Presbterian and Lindsay had not
shown much thought to his spiritual life. The only time Lindsay had gone to
church was with the army to divine worship in the Church of England. Jean had
persuaded Lindsay to convert, and thus I had been born Presbeterian.
“When the Dragoon
Regiment marched off the next morning, Jean was missing. Also missing was the
balance of Lindsay`s purse. My Da was humiliated at losing his wife and his
means of support, he turned to the whiskey bottle and since this was affecting
his ability to serve his master, he was being called upon less and less to
Now we had once lived
in a cottage but now I had to make the hearth of the lord`s kitchen my bed,
with only a petticoat to cover myself at night. Since I was Presbeterian, none
of the other servants children would play with me as they were Catholic, and
didn`t want to associate with a heathen. The only comfort I had was to play on
my boran with Lindsay at fairs, wakes, funerals and weddings. But this didn`t
always feed one`s belly, and thus I had applied to at age 8 to assist in
guarding the sheep. The worst was that I was always hungry. On Sunday if we
were lucky, we got some boiled beef that was the leftovers from Fraser`s table.
The rest of the week my food consisted of bits of bread that the kitchen staff
would give me, or gruel.
After a while, I began to believe that sheep
were the dumbest animals on earth? To this day I still couldn`t understand why
they all go in one direction away from which way he was herding them. But the
most fearful things were the Highwaymen who would from time to time steal one
or two to feed themselves. I had been hired to help stop this. As if that
wasn`t bad enough a gang of local boys had been harassing me and stealing more
sheep. ‘Ah ya Scot bugger you, pass over those sheep or we`ll use our sheleighs
on ya.’ ‘You`ll have to beat me then boys,
I`ll not betray my master’ I answered them. They beat me about my legs and back
and took off with about 6 sheep. I ran to the Manor house to raise the alarm,
and a troop of dragoons chased them. When they were caught, these boys were to
be used as an example and were hung in the town of Ennis. After that, no one
stole my sheep.’
‘Even the sheep would taunt me. The rams are
the worst. Being stubborn creatures, they took it into their head to ram into
your backside if you turned your back on them. I was once caught bringing a ram
home to his pen’. “Your stupid bloody bugger you, I`ll have that wool off your
hide and eat you for me dinner” I yelled at one ram. “Come on then hit me ya
bugger”. So I kept having the ram try to butt me but I would jump out of the
way and the ram would bang his head into the stone wall of his enclosure. I
looked up and saw Lindsay with tears of laughter streaming down his face. “Now
Euan” he said “if the Lord was to catch us, it would mean the highway, so let`s
just keep this little matter secret and try not to do so again eh?” All of
Euan`s children and grandchildren howled with laughter.
‘So I get`s to
thinking is this what I want to do, watch a herd of dumb sheep grazing on wet
soggy rocky ground? Even the stink of them in wet weather is enough to make one
gag. And since your clothes were made of wool, you never got away from it. I
had learned my letters from Col. Fraser`s chaplin. Thus for a young lad of my
times, I could read and write.
Now I had heard of
ways to improve myself. At the last fair I had attended in 1742, I had heard
tell of a way to travel to the Americas. As an Indentured Servant. I could sell
myself to a master and work on a farm for 7 years after which I could get a new
set of clothes, some land to settle on, a gun and tools plus money!Plus I had heard from men in the pubs who had
served in the British Army that the Americas were a wonderful place with virgin
forests, mighty rivers, wild Indians who painted their faces and lovely
The children were laughing as they knew from
their own lives how much a fib this was.‘But I had also heard from others that if you went to the South, it was
courting death from fevers. So my choice seemed to either brave the hot climate
and risk a fever, or continue to brave the cold and wet of Ireland with a half
empty belly. There was also the chance I could sign on to a boat and fish the
Grand Banks of Newfoundland, but when I spoke with a fishing captain, I was
roughly told to go back to my mothers apron strings as only men could work on
the boats, not small boys. So at the autum fair would I thought, right, that`s
what I`ll do, I`ll go to the fair to seek my fortune.’
Chapter Two: Away to
the fair like a dashing young blade.
“So did you become an
indentured servant father?” asked Alex.
‘Well now you`re
getting ahead of my story. I had been talking with father about our future.
Lindsay was also growing restless in his patron`s employment. “Perhaps we`ll
see if the harvest fair will have some well won diversions. The market day was
the annual time when all the county people flocked to Ennis town to view the
delights of life. There was dancing, games of strength, (and hidden in some
tents, games of chance), music, foods, and other entertainments. “How`s that
sound Euan?” “Ah father, that would be grand, it`ll be more fun that watching
got to the fair and it was grand. Farmers would bring what little extra food
they had to trade, butchers would be cutting up animals they could not keep for
the winter. There were bakers making whole wheat breads and even the chandlers
would be hawking their wares. I always liked going to see them because the
candles always smelled nice. There was the honey smell of the beeswax candles
to the meaty scent that the tallow ones had. Once, I had been so hungry I took
the only candle I had left and ate it all, save for the wick. There were
blacksmiths would be selling, trading or batering new hooks, forks, and
fireplace implements to the local townspeople. Tinsmiths would be selling
candle holders, lanterns, small boxes, cups, plates, pots and pans. There were
coopers who made barrels for holding food and drink, or buckets to pull water
out of wells. There were people who made spoons, cups, bowls and plates out of
wood as well.
In my patron`s home, I ate off a wooden plate
and had a horn spoon. But I even saw new silver spoons the silversmith was
selling, and pewter spoons as well. There were saddlers who sold saddles and
other leather goods for riding horses. , Wheelwrights were selling wheels for
carts and wagons, Joiners had tables, chairs, bookcases andcabinets for sale, but only people who had
money could buy them. Tailors had shirts, breeches, waistcoats and coats for
sale. Seamstresses had chemises, dresses, skirts, aprons and bonnets for sale. There
was even a bookbinder who was selling his wares of leather covered books, but a
lot of the country people couldn`t read. The cobbler had shoes for sale which
looked very nice, but I couldn`t afford a pair, my brogues were my only
footwear. When I was a child, I had enjoyed the traveling minstreals, the
puppeteers and the sheep races.
As I grew older, I remember what I saw and I thought
how sad some of the other games were. Bear baiting was rather odd, the bear
never had a chance to tear apart the dogs set on it. Cock fighting was also the
same, what use was it to set two roosters to fight each other when both could
be made better use of on a spit or pot over a fire?” Everyone nodded in
agreement. Watching men box was also a little dull. It`s just like watching older
boys and men scrap outside the pubs. I had watched many fights when I was asked
to gather father back to the estate from the local pub.
But going to get Da from the pub wasn`t a bad
thing. It was a chance to speak to a lot of the local people and to catch up on
the latest gossip. But most of all, I loved the music. Men playing tin
whistles, others on fiddles and I`d join in with my boran. I really enjoy
hearing men sing of the sea, wars and battles that have taken place, mysterious
women, saucy ladies and of lands far away.” “But there just like the pubs here
darling” spoke Emily. “Ah me love, they are, but it`s my people and I don`t go
there now do I” Euan meekly replied. “That`s true, I made an honest man of you”
she replied. “But Grampie what happened at the fair?” Anne asked
“Well I found the agent for the Indentured
Servants and since I could read, I was able to understand to a certain degree
what the contract said. I would serve seven years in the colony of either Maryland or Virginia. Both places
the agent told me were free from the deadly fevers. And the land was so fertile
the grasses so tall, that the cows gave cream rather than milk. The land was so
soft, you could hoe it with your foot, and the crops yielded would feed a town
like Ennis for five years. All I had to do was sign the contract. I was just
ready to dip the quill into the inkwell, when Lindsay came running up and in
horror grasped the quill. “What in bloody hell are you doing you slave master
you?” he demanded from the agent.But I
fought with Da for the quill. I remember yelling “I`m tired of being a poor
Sheppard, I want to be a farmer in Virginia!”
But just then, there
was the most interesting sound I had ever heard. It was a shrill melody and a
rattle of a drum coming up the lane. While Da and the agent argued, I ran out
to see what this was. Coming up the street, was an English Officer dressed in a
fine red coat with silver lace on his buff colored cuffs and lapels, wearing a
black tricorn with more silver lace and a nice frilly lace at his throat. He
was carrying a splendid looking sword and was followed by a boy of 16 playing a
flute looking instrument and a boy of 11 beating on a drum.
Both boys were wearing Buff colored coats with
red cuffs. Both were carrying handsome looking swords and were wearing tall
pointed caps. At the sound of the music, a crowd began to follow and gather
around this party. The officer raised his sword and with a florish, all
stopped. Behind the musicians, I saw there were 6 soldiers.
The officer florished
his sword again, and the drummer began to beat out a cadence.
All the men began to
“ Hark now the drums
beat up again, to all good soldiers gentlemen. So let us list and march I say,
Over the hills and far away,…..
Over the Hills and or
the main. To Flanders, Portugal and Spain, King
George commands and we`ll obey, over the hills and far away…”
“As the troops
finished the song, the crowd cheered and clapped. I was excited. The musicians
uniforms were wonderful. And the drummer was close to my age. I wondered if he
could join up.
Now my Da had quietly
snuck up behind me and the officer in charge noticed him.
“ By Jove, it`s Lt.
Kenny, the piping hero! My word good man what brings ye here to this fine
fair.” Lindsay answered “Ah Capt. Nelson, tis a bonny brisk day to go
recruiting. To what privillage does our fine town have to welcome good soldiers
like your selves to this land?” The Captain replied, “Why Lt. Kenny, our
country calls and our good King needs brave lads to fight the dastardly French
and Spanish once again. The Queen of Austria is threatened and our King has
decided to teach those rouges a lesson.
Any man who enlists
today, shall receive 40 shillings as a bounty, a fine redcoat, and the finest
musket , the Brown Bess. If any man has too much work, too much wife, a need to
escape romantic complications, or a desire to become a hero, why attend to us
at the Sign of the Shilegha as fine an Ale house there is this side of Shannon. We sail for America in the spring.”
So I stepped up to
the drummer and asked him, “How`d you`d get to wear the uniform and beat on the
drum? The drummer answered, “why lad, you need to be 10, have no ruptures, have
all your limbs, both eyes, two teeth that meet, and an ability to beat the
drum. We even get paid more than the soldiers, we gets Corporal`s pay!”
My heart leapt with
excitement, this was the chance I was looking for. Forget being a slave for 7
years, the army gave you money and a fancy uniform”
The older lad spoke
up. “Aye, me fadder was in this regiment, and has been picking up the gold off
the French littering every battlefield we cross. And the lassies, my what fine
girls, the wine flows off the rocks, and we dine on the finest beef. Ah it`s
the life.” Euan gave a chuckle and his grandchildren asked him what was so
funny. “Well little one`s the best way to get new soldiers is to tell a few
fibs, for if they really know what it`s like, you`d never get them signed up.”
Alex gave a knowing nod, having himself served in the army in his own youth.
“So Capt. Nelson spoke up “ Lt. Kenny, do you
feel the pride again to serve your king?
Bring along your
pipes and we`ll scare those bloody frogs from every battlefield in America. His
Majesties Phillips Regiment needs good men like you.”
“Right” said Lindsay
“I think my boy and I shall take you up on your offer, my brogues are just near
worn out, and I`ve a mind to better myself. Toss Euan a shilling and I`ll bring
“So I was given a
shinny new shilling in my little hand. I couldn`t wait to trade my old holely
brown jacket, green patched breeches and a flimsy shirt for a fine uniform.
This would be the start to my new life, and I felt like it was Christmas. All
in all, the Captain was able to recruit 20 men and boys into Phillip`s Regiment.
Our recruitment party marched for Kinsale the
next day. After a weeks walking, I found myself in that seaport full of the
strangest things I had ever seen.” Euan looked up and his face was lost in his
was filled with ships. Every thing from little fishing smacks to men of war. With
a new purpose in life, Lindsay decided on only drinking with the officers in
the regiment as being an officer meant that you had to keep up a respectable
appearance. It was the best thing that happened for the both of us. The only
time I ever saw Lindsay drink again was during dinner with the other officers.
Any other time he just drank tea like me.
The first place we
were sent to was Charles Fort. As we marched over the bridge through the main
gate, the sentry saluted Captain Nelson. It was a stone gate that opened up a
long stone wall. Inside were stone barracks for the soldiers. However, because
there were so many soldiers arriving, only the garrison lived in them. The rest
of the army lived in tents. There were soldiers and cannons everywhere. On the
other side of the harbor stood Jame`s fort. It had a stone blockhouse and batteries
which the Spanish had built in their siege long ago but had been taken by the
Now with me being so
young I hadn`t been issued a uniform except for a new pair of breeches made of
red wool, a tricorn hat, a new shirt, and a basic red waistcoat. I was told
that once we arrived in the New World, that a new uniform would be issued to
When we had arrived
at Kinsale, all the new recruits were marched into the British army camp. It
was like it`s own little town. There were streets and streets of wedge shaped
tents, which must have been white at one time but over the years had turned a
The uniforms that the
soldiers wore were almost all the same. Each man had a redcoat with his cuffs
and collar the color of his regiment. All the soldiers also had red breeches
and waistcoats and white shirts with a strap of leather at his throat. All had
white leggings with black buttons going up the outside of their legs from their
shoes to just above the knees held in place by a single strap below the
kneecap. Each man also carried brown leather belts that held his sword and
bayonet that hung on the left side of their body, while on their waists was a
belt for a cartridge box. The officer`s uniforms were much different. Their
coats were a nicer red color and had lots of silver lace to show how important
they were. The men all wore tricorns except the tall soldiers who were called
Grenadiers because they used to throw grenades. They had tall mitre caps with
the Horse of Hanover on the front to make them look taller and also to help
them when they had to storm enemy positions.
At the end of each street there was one tent
which faced towards the larger tents of the Sargent`s and officers. The
soldier`s tents all had their doors facing each other, and would sleep 5 men
crossways. At the back of each tent there was a small space where all the men`s
lamb knapsacks were kept, and on some of the tent poles there were pegs to hang
their haversacks, and tin canteens. Down by the officer`s tents were the
cooking fires. Large pits with iron trivets, spits and grates where the women
would cook the soldiers rations of boiled beef and bread. There were some
kettles to make tea as well. To protect some of the area, canvas flies had been
erected to cover the blue tables which held the soldiers rations as well as
buckets and basins to wash their dishes, and themselves. There were also little
tents placed near the Corporals tents which had a bored looking soldier
standing in front of them. When I had walked into the camp, being curious, I
walked up and was able to make a quick glance inside to see muskets stacked
against the single tent pole, but the sentry had told me to bugger off.
Lindsay, being an officer, was given his own
tent, which I would be lucky enough to share, as long as I took care of fathers
new uniform and equipment”. Euan paused and sighed remembering about that camp
so many years ago. “There was to be no living carefree days in a camp. I was so
weary from my march from Ennis, I laid down on my bed of straw with a new thick
blanket over myself.”
“At 6am, the first
sound he heard was a single drum beating out a medley. Lindsay, woke me and
told me where to find the drummer because that was the call for the drummers. I
got up and since I was already dressed I grabbed my tricorn and found several
other drummers now formed up in a line. Not all of them wore the buff colored
coat, but others had green, yellow, white and back coats but all had red cuffs
Each boy was carrying a large drum with red
hoops and the body had the same color as their coats. Most of them had tall
mitre caps but some like myself had a tricorn. Each one was carrying a sword.
Two others had a tin case which held their fifes. All the musicians had lace
going up their arms either plain white or with bits of blue in it. They made
arrows going up the arm, and were the mark of drummers.An older drummer with a red sash looked at me
and barked “You horrible little man, you show up on parade with your hat
cockeyed and without respect to your superior. Stand at attention boy and fall
in behind the drummers. You useless farmhand” “You got yelled at on your first
day father” laughed Alex” “I thought you said you were a born soldier” Euan
blushed and laughed.
“The next thing I
heard was Kings drums, sound revillie, quick march. All ten drummers began to
beat as one and stepped off with the left foot beating out a loud rythum Daa da
da da da dum da da dum da da dum and began to march up and down each tent
street. The two fifers played a whistling sound to accompany the drumming. As I
walked by each tent, soldiers crawled out to be met by their Corporals yelling
out to rouse out and dress quickly.
The camp at Kinsale held 5 battalions that
were being assembled to sail off to either Europe or the colonies. After the
drums had finished beating through all the streets, the drummers were dismissed
and they took their drums to one tent. Several of them then ran to the
officer’s lines to attend their officers as most of the younger drummers were
also officer`s servants. I decided that I must also rush to find my father.
Running back to our tent, I found Da already
dressed and writing out a report at his small table and lap desk. Lindsay
helped me get ready but told me that from tomorrow I would be responsible not
only for myself, but also to make sure my father would also be ready for the
day. As a gift, Da had secretly purchased me a shinny new plate, a pewter
spoon, and a tin mug so that I could drink my issue of tea. I quickly ran off
to the cooking lines to get our morning ration issue.
When I arrived, I found that it was breakfast.
I was greatly disappointed to only receive a spoonful of oatmeal, a small piece
of bacon and a cup of dark tea, but at least it was hot food.
I finished up
breakfast, and I washed my set of dishes and then heard the drums call again at
9am. This time I was ready to report to the Drum Major. When I did ,I was
issued the rest of my equipment. I recieved my first drum, sling, sticks,
sword, haversack, knapsack, leggings and shoes to replace the brogues that I`d
been wearing. When in camp I only had to wear my drum sling, sword and carry my
drum and sticks. When I put the drum on, it was half of my height, and the drag
ropes which were to be used to sling the drum onto my back were literally
dragging on the ground.” This was met by roars of laughter by everyone by the
fire. “After the first two hours, it had gone from a gleaming white, to a muddy
brown. All morning the drummers taught me the basic beatings. Now having had
skills at playing the boran, I was quick to learn, and I thought I saw a
glimmer of a smile on the Drum Major`s face.
The Corporal that we
had was a most unfriendly fellow. His job was to turn us civilians into
soldiers of His Majesties army. “Kenny, you little runt, when I give the order
to dress, that mean you look to your left not your right. Are you a daft boy?
You may be a drummer, but if you make a mistake, the entire battalion will be
killed because you didn`t beat out the right command. All day we learned how to
march left, right, how to march in lines together, how to change those lines,
and how to do the drill movements with our drums.
It took awhile to
remember all the drum commands to beat and to also remember when the beats were
sounded. What beating goes to which command, I was constantly thinking? Water
call was to tell the soldiers to draw water. But this was difficult as we had
to draw the water from a well in buckets and then we had to carry them on a
yoke across our shoulders to the kitchen lines. The soldier`s wives would get
really cranky with us if we were slow as the water we were bringing was used
for cooking, cleaning and washing our shirts. It was always best to keep the
Another fatigue duty
I didn`t like to do was to help dig the necessary houses. When the old pits
were full, we`d have to dig new ones, which of course were right next to the
old ones. The stench was almost unbearable. But it was slightly better than
That part was the
worst. We`d sometimes have to dig graves for soldiers or camp followers who
died from sickness or accidents. The smell of rotting bodies was always
difficult to bear. Luckily, we only had to do that about three times as there
were no major epidemics that struck the camp. I always felt sorry for the men,
women and children we had to bury because for most of them, none of their loved
ones would ever know where they would lay, or what had happened to them.
In the afternoon, we
were given our dinner ration. This time it was a small loaf of bread I knew and
a chunk of what must have been beef, but most of it was bone and grissle. But I
didn`t complain, this was the first regular meal I had had in months!” Alex`s
stomach rumbled at the sound of food and they all laughed.
“In the later evening
about 8pm, the drums assembled again and we beat out the retreat, and then marched
through the town of Kinsale we beat out Tattoo to tell the innkeepers,
alehouses and houses of ill repute to turn off their taps to the soldiers and
have them return to camp. This took about 20 minutes and at last I was able to
go to bed, but not before I had to scrap the mud off my drag rope, leggings,
shoes and belt, and then I also had to clean my father`s shoes. Exhausted, I
collapsed onto the straw bed again.”
Euan saw Anne yawn for it was so cosy sitting
by the fire and laying in her father`s arms.
“For 3 months it was
the same routine. Get up, beat revillie, beat out the commands to the camp from
cutting wood, gathering water, to orders for the Manual of Arms. I even began
to march in step and beat out the different march tunes. The drummers also had
to beat out the drill for the drill movements. I had to remember the commands
for when we marched, changed how we marched, fired, and charge bayonets. I
remember meeting my first friend.”
“Pleased to meet you mate, my name`s Gordon
Jefferson. I`m to be a drummer like yourself” Gordon had joined the regiment in
England and had been sent to the camp in Ireland to join with the rest of the
recruits bound for Nova Scotia.
All the soldiers had
to drill daily so that whenever they were in battle, they would do what they
were trained to do and not run at the sound of gunfire.Each soldier had to learn how to load and
fire his musket up to 3 times a minute. For hours on end we drilled on priming
and loading the musket, then how to present it and give fire. Once they learned
how to do it in one rank, we then had to learn how to do it in 3 ranks. Then
they would fire by each platoon. The idea was that the regiment would give a
constant fire on their enemy.It was
important to know because if we made a mistake while in battle, it would mean
that the whole regiment would have to stop firing in order to fix themselves,
and that would mean an enemy unit could destroy us.
At first, the
soldiers were taught how to shoulder the musket and we were told, this was the
proper position of a soldier. From the shoulder, the musket would be brought
down to the side of the body to do what was required. The hammer in the lock
would always be at half-cock, and the frizzen closed over the pan. So to load
it at first, the soldier had to hold the musket in one hand, then pull out a
cartridge with the other. You had to put the cartridge in your teeth and bite
off the paper to open the cartridge. Then you had to pour a small bit of powder
in the pan, close the pan and then, on the command cast about, you turned the
musket muzzle up to your chin and put your cartridge inside it. Then you had to
pull out the wooden rammer and push the cartridge that had the powder and ball
in it to the bottom of the barrel. Finally, bringing the musket back up to the
side of your body, waiting for the command, make ready, you pulled the hammer
back, present; point the musket towards the enemy and fire was when the trigger
was pulled. Once the musket fired, you brought it back down to the side of your
body, and pulled the hammer back to half cock. Taking farm hands, and city laborers
through the process took a long long time.
The soldiers had to
be taught and practice the drill everyday. The new recruits were always
harassed because they were not used to army life and also because that`s how
the Sargents taught their new soldiers. If you still made mistakes after being
taught, you were put in the awkard squad, and a lot of times I was sent to drum
for this group as I was also new.
The other thing the
soldiers had to do a lot was to clean their uniforms and equipment so that it
not only looked nice, but would work when they had to fight. The mud had to be
scrapped off the belts, and their white leggings had to be scrubbed and
polished with pipe clay to give them their white look. Even their hair had to
be pulled back and curled and powdered.
After we finished our
fatigues, we were allowed to go into Kinsale town. AH, Kinsale had the best
Molasses Brown Ale. It was so refreshing after a long day of drilling and work.
I loved being able to sing the songs of the country and swap stories with the
lads or towns folk. Having a bit of brass meant we could drink and then chase
the lassies but then we`d get into scraps with the local boys.
If the soldiers did
something wrong, or broke the rules, there were many ways they were punished.
There was a wooden horse in the centre of the parade square where a soldier
would be placed with muskets tied to his legs. It was an uncomfortable bench
that looked like a toy horse but was made so that it was easy for the soldier
to fall off.
One memorable evening
after tattoo, one land had come back drunk as a skunk and proceeded to the
kitchen lines where he then began to knock down tables, and tripping over tent
fly lines. In the whole mess, he proceeded to ruin the next mornings breakfast
and crushed the officer`s eggs! While this bloke was crashing about, he also
snapped a few tent poles as well. Finally the evening picket clapped him in the
stocks until morning muster. The officers were fit to be tied! Just after
revillie, we beat through the camp playing the rouges march. Behind us, marched
the picket with their prisoner. He was ordered to dress for parade with all his
equipment. After being issued his musket, he was ordered to fix his bayonet,
and then to present as though to give fire. On the next order, he gave a soft
groan. “Quick march” and thus for three hours, he marched about the camp with a
drummer and corporal in tow. To add insult to injury, his pay was stopped for a
month to recover the costs of the king`s equipment he had broken. We didn`t see
him drunk for a long time after that.
Even the soldier
wives could be punished as well. There was a whirly gig which was a cage that
could be spun. If one of the ladies had fought with, or had done something
wrong, she`d be put in there and the drummers would spin it very fast until she
was sick. I hated doing that one because they did a lot of work for us, and a
lot of the soldiers treated them badly. Maybe that was because so few of them
were allowed to marry.
All through my time
in the army, I always respected the women. They acted as our cooks at times,
cleaned our dishes or clothes and tended to us if we had been wounded. Their
existence depended on the men they were attached to. Some were the wives of
soldiers, some were their sisters or daughters, and their food came from the
regiments stores. But for the wives, it would only be half of what a soldier
got and any children they had would only get a quarter of a mans ration. They would
follow the army where ever it went, and if their men fell in battle or died
from some other cause, they had but twenty-four hours to find a new husband, or
they would be drummed out. It was a harsh life, but better than to be begging
back in their own towns or villages, or to be rotting in debt prison.
Most of these women
worked hard for what little money they could get. We paid them to wash our
shirts, and sometimes they would help us mend our uniforms. Others made extra
money buy selling small items the soldiers might want such as combs, trinkets,
ribbons and lace. Some had even made whiskey on the sly and they were pretty
good about hiding it. They were not ladies of the evening, but were the lucky
ones. The official soldier`s wives were taken care of, the rest, well, they did
the best they could, but when the regiments left for foreign postings, the
women who were not officially soldiers wives, were left behind.
Finally at the beginning of April, the
soldiers who were to serve with Phillips Regiment boarded the troop ship bound
for Nova Scotia and the fort at Annapolis Royal. For some it was a gay
adventure to be embarking on. But we left many women and children behind. For
those men who did not have permission to marry, it was the last time they ever
saw their families.
Chapter 3: The
crossing and a new land.
“Now I was amazed
with the ships we boarded as I`d never sailed in my life. There were boats full
of men dressed in sailor`s garb who rowed us out to our ships, and then each
soldier had to climb up the side of the ship. I thought it interesting to see
little steps on the side of the ship just big enough for your foot to step on
and pull yourself up. There were about 30 of us who boarded the ship bound for
At first, I didn`t
mind the gentle rocking of the ship. But trying to get into my hammock at night
was a tiresome ordeal. It was also a big change of routine to be on board of a
Kings ship, where there was nowhere to go but up on deck, which was a crowded
place of sailors, guns, masts and rigging. Although in the evenings, there was
lots of merrymaking with sailors singing on the upper decks while the soldiers
below sang their own tunes. I got to play on my boran as another soldier took
out a tin whistle and we played. All the soldiers clapped and sang together.
Since I had no brothers, I felt that now I had a new family. But the fun
stopped the first time there was a storm.”
closer to hear him speak. “I had never known hell until the morning the sky
became low and foggy. Then the wind and rain began and the gentle rocking of
the ship turned into a bucking living creature. More than once, I had fallen
down the ladders to the deck where the soldiers were, spilling our rations on
the floor. And more than once, did I get a cuff for doing so. If you dropped
your food, there was no going back to the cook for more, what he dished out was
your issue, and there was no pity for landlubbers like myself. On and on the
ship rocked, creaked and moaned. The worst part of being in a storm is not
being able to do anything about it. You just have to put your faith in the
almighty and pray you`ll see another day.
Finally in the month
of June, we arrived at what would be our posting.
We had one new recruit died of sickness and a
few sailors fell from the rigging into the sea. I thought I`d die from being
seasick, it was a wonder how much a little boy could throw up that much.
However, the entire voyage was not a lonely experience for me. Being down with
the other soldiers meant I met many of the men and boys who I would serve with
in Nova Scotia. We were going into the Bay of Fundy and approaching the
Annapolis Basin.” “Gordon told me, “the land was now a British colony but had
been fought over from before his own father was born. The French had been here
before them, and the first to have settled were the Natives.”
As we sailed though a narrow gap in the
shoreline, we came into a wide basin with green fields bordered by grass
covered earthen banks along the river. Farmers were tilling these grasslands.
Stretching to the horizon on the North was a mountain and to the far south
another range of mountains.” Alex remembered well his own visit to the area
twenty years before.Alex added, “The
only area that was open and flat was the land next to the river, about maybe 3
leagues to the base of the North Mountain and about 10 to the South Mountain.”
Euan continued, “As the river narrowed, we saw our first glimpse of what would
be our new home, Annapolis Royal.”
“Now children” asked
Euan, “do you remember what Annapolis Royal looks like?” “No Grampie, what`s it
like, can I go there?” Anne asked “I`ll see about taking you there. There was
an earthern fort on a point on the south-west side of the river with a small
town along the riverbank. It`s a typical Vauban style fortification that the
French had built back in the early part of the last century. It has 4 bastions,
a powder magazine which is built of stone, a stone gateway, an underground
powder magazine, barracks for the troops and officers and a well. It`s
surrounded by a dry ditch and has ravelins on the North, East and South. The
Annapolis river acts as a border and a lot of the heavy guns are positioned in
the bastions facing the anchorage. There is also a palisade of logs that are on
the top of the walls and stakes also driven into the ground to keep men away
from the ditch which I think is about 3 meters deep.
To add to the defense I seem to remember there
are also some small buildings that are blockhouses, which hold swivel cannons
in the upper story windows and have musket loopholes in the walls
As our ship docked at the wharf, we saw a
curious mix of people. There were farmers wearing clothes which didn`t look
English, elegantly dressed gentlemen and ladies and a few soldiers walking
about. As the officers landed to be followed by the men, the townspeople began
to cheer. For we were the first new soldiers to set foot in Annapolis Royal
since 1720! As we marched into the fort, we were aghast at what we saw. The
walls had looked impressive were crumbling and the wooden palaside was rotting
where it stood.
The sentry snapped his musket to the present
in salute, was wearing a very shabby uniform, and his musket looked like it had
seen better days.
Later that night, Lt.
Kenny was invited by the other officers to dine with them in welcoming the
newest officer to the garrison. The commander introduced himself.
“My name is Jean Paul
Mascarene I`m a French Hugenot who has loyally served his Majesty King George
here in Nova Scotia. My position here is thus, I have 120 men here to defend
the capital of Nova Scotia. Most have been here since Phillips Regiment was
formed in 1717, and they were here even before that in independent companies.
We`ve received no new uniforms, equipment, weapons or troops except for
yourselves since that time. At the moment, I don`t even have enough functioning
muskets to issue to my troops. The sentry you saw was carrying a doglock musket
which was last issued in Queen Anne`s Day! We`ve been making due with what we
can make here, but Annapolis Royal is in grave danger. The French at Louisbourg
are a constant threat, my closest post to here is Canso, which is a fishing
village. In this colony which the mainland part is close to the entire length
of England, I have but only 180 men to defend it from a French garrison of over
1000! My artillery is in short supply and trained gunners even more. These men
will be the ones who will keep you from losing your hair to a Mic Mac warrior
with a scalping knife!”
“Now my Da was
horrified. He had been sent to a backwater overseas post, to help defend a fort
that was crumbling under his feet, with old men and rusty muskets. “God help us
all” he thought.
Euan took another
pull from his tea mug which was now empty. “Emily darling, could you pour me
another? Now let me see, where did I leave off?
“You were saying about how you saw the fort
for the first time Grampie” replied Anne. “Ah right, well, that evening, in the
officer`s mess, Lt. Kenny was welcomed to his new post by the officers of the
Garrison. The commander was Col Mascarene, second in command was Major
Bradstreet, the other officers were Capt. Blackmore, Lt. Howe, Lt. Scott,
Ensign Bradstreet and a Lt. Farrell of the Royal Artillery, the sole Artillery
officer in the entire colony! Lindsay was the junior officer of the garrison
but it was always good to get another gentleman to the regiment.
As they sat to dinner, Captain Blackmore asked
Da, “Have you been in the east sir” To which Lindsay replied that yes he had,
and warmly shook the hand of a brother. “Ah we`re all brothers here then” he
said. As they began their dinner, Da was surprised at the fare. There were
roasts of beef, whole roasted ducks and geese from the officers own stocks, a
supurb onion soup, and plenty of white bread. The officers washed down their
meal with the finest Madeira that Da had tasted for many years and the claret
was not bad either.
The whole evenings festivities were rounded
off nicely with a good brandy. Col. Masscarene was constantly asking “How
stands the glass around?” All in all, it was the world that Lt. Kenny had been
longing to rejoin.Though father had
drank too much whiskey back in Ireland, being an officer meant he had to act as
a gentleman. Thus he drank only during the mess dinners. It would not due to
bring discredit to your regiments. So his behaviour after he joined up
improved. Captain Bradstreet struck up a conversation with Lindsay. “Sir, if I
may be so bold, what is your impression of Fort Anne so far?” “Well Bradstreet,
I must say that while the countryside is more stunning than that in England or
Ireland, I can`t help but feel that this is a lonely place”. “Aye that it is”
replied the young officer. “Our current commander came up in March of 1740. Our
previous commander, Colonel Lawerence Armstrong had a fit of despondency and
ran himself through with his own sword. This place can be bleak, but now that
our new commander is here, it`s a bit more tolerable, what with our weekly mess
Alex interrupted Euan. “But father, how did
you know what happened in the officer`s mess, you were only a drummer”.
“Well as I was my
father`s servant, I was obliged to attend on the dinner officers. The bonus
that this entailed, was that the officer`s servants would be able to enjoy
foods which we might otherwise not be able to. The most pleasant for me was the
beef steak, and the bread and cheese was of a quality I`d never known. Being
too young for the wines, and brandy, I was given a mug of spruce beer, to warm
my little heart. As I sat in the kitchen with the other servants after the
table had been cleared, each member began to quietly remimice of a home that
they had not seen for years.
The old soldiers amoung us included Cpl.
Nickerson, who had joined the regiment in England and had been wounded fighting
with the Mik Maq warriors that had ambushed his woodcutting party in 1717.
Nickerson had been lucky, he had only gotten sliced by a knife before he could
dispatch his attacker with a tomahawk. I was surpised and I asked him why he
didn`t use a sword.” “Those things are`nt much use over here lad” he told me.
“When you go out on patrol, you`ll see. They, bang into you hip and catch on
every bloody tree and bush that`s out there. Tomahawks are much better, and
they come in handy when we need to build shelters if we`re too late to head
back to the fort here.”
“Along with Nickerson were Private Delaney who
had also served with Nickerson, and a rather bitter young lad named Lynch.
Lynch it turned out was actually an indentured servant who had run away from
his master who treated him like the slaves he already owned. Lynch was a big
lad, and was being trained as to work the forts guns with the few gunners in
the garrison. Lynch told us the stories he had, I felt a bit of pity and
disgust. The boy had run away from home, not having wanted to follow his father
as an apprentice in carriage making and had signed on to be an indentured
servant in Virginia.
Now I was confused
because I knew that to escape, your contract was extended if you were caught.
“Right, See I finds meself a recruiting Sargeant and gets me a shilling, so
that bugger can`t get me now. Not even if he was the governor himself, once you
take the King`s shilling, you`re a soldier until you die, or the wars end.
“But why didn`t you
wait till your contract ended, you`d have your own farm by now” I asked. “Are
you a daft child”, answered Lynch, they don`t give ya that, you`d be lucky to
get some land on the frontier where the Indians will scalp ya. And me master,
whoa, didn`t know he had a soft spot for the black ladies. Nor did I enjoy
myself much, he worked me from dawn to dusk in the tobacco fields. No sir, that
wasn`t what I had signed up for you can be dammed sure.”
Lynch was a strange
fella. “Gordon wasn`t impressed.” “If that boy had worked as well as he says he
did, maybe the master wouldn`t have whipped him so much!” I heard him say.”
“Was it an easy life
in the fort Grampie” asked little Anne. Euan chuckled.
“The routine in
garrison was not much different from what we had seen in the camp. As a
drummer, I had to take part in all of the daily routines. If I was put on
sentry duty, it was my job to beat all the commands for the fort, and to stay
in the guard room with the sentries who were off duty. And the days I wasn`t on
duty were spent cutting firewood for the fires, helping the cook in the
cookhouse and drilling with the soldiers in the parade square. We`d also march
through the town to make sure everyone was safe, or to catch anyone who was
doing something bad. But since the population was so small, we didn`t have to
worry about that too much. The only people who caused problems were soldiers
who had had too much rum or beer, and we`d march them back up to the fort to
spend some time in the Garrison cells.
Chapter 4: Garrison
life and dangers in the forest
After about two weeks, I saw why so many of
the men looked old and tired it was a lot of tedious work, or boredom. But I
still preferred being there to the sheep pasture back in Ireland. The officers
would take some of the men on patrols into the countryside and in the nearby
forests to check to see if there were signs of Mik Maq war parties or French
raiders from New France. Each patrol would go out for a few days and return
with wild game to add to the stew pots for their mess. After the attack back in
1717 and again in 1722, no soldier was allowed to march out of the town without
being a member of a patrol. There was also the chance to fish or to bathe in
the rivers during the hot summer.The
officers would sometimes go out on hunting trips. Soldiers jumped at the chance
to leave the confines of the fort. If it took you away from the boredom, you
always found a way to go on a work party”
“So when did you go
on patrol father” “At the beginning of July, Lindsay took a detachment of men on
a patrol to the east of the town. I marched with them to keep their step with
my drumming. Each soldier held sixty rounds of powder and ball and three flints
for their musket. Since it was only a patrol, they only carried their muskets,
canteens, cartridge boxes and bayonet as well as their tomahawks. They didn`t
carry their knapsacks but just their haversacks which held some moose jerky and
biscuits. The road they marched on eventually stopped and it became nothing
more than a track. The trees grew very close together.
I`d never seen anything like it. You couldn`t
see more than 20 meters into the gloom. All you saw were trees, trees and more
trees.My sword and drum kept getting
caught on branches. Lindsay ordered me, “ Drummer Kenny, sling your drum onto
your back and to draw your sword.” “Yes sir” I replied.
I was thinking to make the path a bit bigger,
so I began to hack at the small tree branches with my sword. As I did so to one
tree, a partridge lept up into the air with a flurry of wings beating and
feathers flying. “Bloody hell” I screamed in fright, and the rest of the patrol
roared with laughter. But there was something that caused Lindsay to be
concerned. He shouted for us to be quiet. I then thought it was strange.
There were no birds singing, no wind blowing,
just a quiet that made you feel like it was just yourself there. It was so
quiet, that I could hear my breathing and my heart was pounding in my ears. I
fought against a rising panic in myself, this forest felt alive, as though it was
a living thing itself. Then I heard a snap and at first thought it was one of
the soldiers stepping on a twig but then there was a horrendous bang followed
and all hell broke loose!
More shots came from the woods, and I then
heard the whack of the balls flying by my ear and hit the soldier behind me
with a meaty smack. The soldier fell backwards screaming as he went down.” Anne
gave out a cry of fright. “Lindsay quickly formed us into a firing line. “Prime
and load, he roared”, as he drew his own pistol and fired into the gloom. The
soldiers began to load their muskets and wait for the commands to fire back.
While waiting for the order, two more soldiers dropped down wounded from shots
fired. One had been hit in the thigh and great amounts of blood were pouring
out. When a musket ball hits you it`s not pretty. It will be a round ball when
it goes in but as it passes through the meat and bones, why it flattens out and
makes a big hole if it comes out the other side. The other soldier had been hit
in an arm and he dropped down to the ground howling in pain.
Lindsay gave the order to ram. Each soldier
rammed the ball down and then returned the rammers to the holes in the musket
below the barrel. Lindsay then gave the command to recover the musket, then hollered
“Make ready” each soldier pulled back the hammer holding the flint, “Present”
to which each soldier pointed their muskets into the din. “FIRE” and each man
pulled the trigger. With a mighty roar the muskets made fire and spit smoke and
flame out into the trees enveloping everything in a thick blanket of grey
smoke. It took all his courage to keep the men together as a group. As the
smoke cleared, we could still hear the blood curdling yells of the Mik Maq
warriors ringing in our ears. The whole ambush had lasted only a few minutes.
That sound stayed with me all my life. It was a sound that would make your
bowels turn to water and your blood turn to ice. Even remembering it now makes
the hair on my neck stand up.
Well now, I thought that was the most
terrified I had been in my whole life. I had not ducked down but stood still,
my eyes wide in panic with sword drawn waiting for a warrior to come running in
to scalp the hair from my head. I didn`t even have time to take my drum off my
back and sling it to beat out the commands to the soldiers. Of the 15 soldiers
who had marched out that morning, only 12 would be returning. The first soldier
to have been shot lay dying, drowning in his own blood. The musket ball and
entered just below his ribcage. His back was a mess where it had exited. The
woods were still filled with the powder smoke from the muskets. It added to the
gloom and was like a fog that shrouded the whole area. It made you feel even
more lonely and helpless.
The red coats the soldiers wore was a beacon
of light in the gloom of the woods. For all the muskets they had fired, the
only damage was some scarred trees. Not one of the balls had found it`s mark.
The corporal explained to father that this was how an Indian attack was. They
never saw them coming, only when the musket fire began. As well, there had not
been attack on the soldiers for a long time. The Mik Maq must have seen us
arrive at Annapolis a few weeks before and decided that they didn`t want more
British troops in Annapolis.
“Lindsay was certain
the warriors would be back and decided not to risk his men further. We began to
fall back to Annapolis Royal with the news that a war party was in the area.
For me, my first time out into the forest of Nova Scotia had turned from the
wonderful sensation I had felt in the morning, into a nightmare world where
there were Indian warriors hiding behind every tree ready to knock the life out
of you if they got the chance.” “Poor Grampie, you must have been so scared,
did you cry? asked Anne.” “No child, but I was shocked and angry. I wanted to
find those warriors and kill them for killing some of us. I began to feel a
rage building up inside me, but it was too dangerous to go alone into the
We went back to the
fort, and when we returned and told the commander, Col. Mascarene had the
drummer`s sound assembly and formed up his garrison. Of the 150 men who he had,
only 80 were fit for duty, and only about 40 had muskets that would work. The
30 without were ordered to serve the cannons in the bastions and the sick were
moved into the underground powder magazine. The powder from there was placed in
the main magazine. Inside the underground room, it was dark and damp. There
were no windows in the underground chamber which had been built into the
bastion and had been constructed of stone. The earth for the walls and bastion
above had been placed on top to make it bomb proof. There was only one entrance
and a small ventilation shaft to try and keep the humidity down.The sick and soon to be wounded would be safe
fromartillery fire. Cpl. Nickerson
reported that he had two men missing, who had apparently gone into town.
A picket was quickly formed and led out the
main gate with loaded muskets and fixed bayonets. In one of the gardens, they
found both men. Each had been stripped of their, clothing. Also missing was
their hair, which had been sliced off from the top of their heads. Cpl.
Nickerson turned to his men and said “this is what happens to men who leave the
fort without permission. Fall back to the fort.”
Chapter 5, Euan`s
Before they could, the Mik Maq began to fire
on them and Nickerson and another man were able to reach the safety of a small
blockhouse on George street. The others made it back into the fort. The warriors
yelled and hollered and began to burn several of the houses, they then began to
run at the blockhouse with torches trying to set it alight, but were cut down
by a party of soldiers who had come up from below the glacis and relieved the
blockhouse. Lt. How led the soldiers who spent the rest of the day tearing down
buildings to give a clear field of fire from the fort.
The towns people who were mostly the soldiers
families began to run into the fort pushing carts filled with their
possessions. Mascarene had most of the women and children sent to the three
ships in the river to rush to Boston with news that Annapolis Royal was under
attack. Every man in the garrison and the town doubled their efforts to repair
the fort. Even the local Acadians helped out for they knew that if the English
were to leave, they`d have no trade with New England, and they would suffer.
However, a few days later, when most of the repairs were finished, all the
Acadians in the town fled for fear of the coming attack.
About 3 days after we
had returned from out patrol, a loud yelling began from the tree line beyond
the town. Swiftly, a group of warriors and soldiers dressed in blue or red
waistcoats began to run towards the main gate of the fort. The sentries were
able to shout out a warning. On hearing the yelling, Massacrene ordered the men
to man the walls. Lt. Farrell laid his guns out to make a cross fire as best he
When the French and Indians burst into view,
the garrison waited for the enemy to approach until they were almost at the
ditch, then with one command muskets andcannons roared out spitting musket balls, and canister shot. The French
and Indians fled back to the safety of the tree line. They wouldn`t carry Fort
Anne with just a frontal rush on the gate. They would have to lay siege to it.
As the French and
Indians retired, father led a small piquet out the gate to check on the enemy
casualties. Out in the ditch, I could see a Mik Maq warrior lying dead. He had
painted his head red with a small tuft of hair on the top, and his lower half
of his face was painted black. He was wearing a French style blue waistcoat,
and had a breechcloth suspened from a belt to cover him self. He carried a
knife that hung from a cord around his neck, and had a powder horn hanging from
one shoulder. His gun was a very old style flintlock no doubt gotten in trade.
This man appeared to have been a proud warrior. He didn`t look like a savage,
he reminded me of the stories I had heard from my grandfather of the old Irish heros.
I realized that this warrior was not much different from me. He was fighting
people he felt were invaders in his land. But the sight of this dead warrior
made me afraid because this was who had been trying to kill us earlier in the
Lt. Lindsay was able to drag back two wounded
French soldiers, one wore the blue waistcoat and breeches of Le Compaigne
Franches de la Marine which were the French colonial troops at Louisbourg and
the other soldier wore a pair of red breeches and a blue waistcoat. One soldier
was speaking but it wasn`t French. Could it be German?
It turned out, with
some of the officers translating, that he was a member of The Regiment de
Karre, a Swiss regiment in the French service. His name was Vergets and he was
a most displeased soldier. He also mentioned that the Swiss soldiers had joined
the raid because they wanted pay owed to them from an attack on Canso. This was
some of the first news that we had that War had been declared. The French had
gotten word first and sacked Canso. Since the Mik Maq didn`t like us, it was
possible to be attacked at anytime. But for French soldiers to attack us, was
definetly an unpleasant surprise!
“What happened at
Canso Grampie?” inquired Anne.
Well, in March of
1744, the French had heard that war was declared back in Europe. They knew that
we would not hear of it first as most British ships never left home before
March. The French ship had braved the elements and made a crossing in winter.
The French governor
had decided that he would try and retake Nova Scotia. So he launched a large
raid on Canso with his French and Swiss troops. The main reason was that the
New England fisherman who had their fishing operations there were in direct
competition with the French. As well, it was easy for an enemy force to attack
as it was so lightly defended.
The French sailed
down in their boats and surprised the small garrison. Lt. Bradstreet who had
been promoted was sent to act as the commander and he was unaware that war had
been declared. It must have been quite a shock to wake up one morning hearing
cannons boom and the yells of the French soldiers as they rushed up the beach
over the small island and began to burn the houses and fishing gear.
Humiliated, Bradstreet was captured with his men and sent to Louisbourg as
The French governor had then ordered a force
to try and capture Annapolis Royal. But the interesting thing was, apart from
the Mik Maq attack in the early summer, the main attack didn`t happen until
much later. The officers of Fort Anne held a war council to decide what to do.
Almost every one of the officers felt that with the condition of the fort, the
condition of their men and the lack of good and sufficient arms that we should
But Massacreene was a
brave man. He listened to his officers, but assured them that they would be
safe. “For example gentlemen, have you heard any cannons fire? No? That is
because this is a war party which uses it`s speed and agility to move through
the forrest and uses shock to achieve victory. But I will not surrender to a
bunch of warriors with their French masters until they pound the walls down
around us. Stand your ground, and we`ll beat them. However I would like
volunteers to take a message to Boston to tell them of our plight and to insist
on troops to relieve us here. Now back to the walls gentlemen, these warriors
will try again, I`m sure of it.”
“So thus began my
first siege. The soldiers couldn`t stand up on the walls without risk getting
shot at by the enemy.I`d have to wait
to see if I`d see my 11th birthday.
Anne had fallen asleep, clutching her father`s
arms. “Well father, perhaps you can finish the story for her tomorrow night.”
“Aye that I will son, take her into the cabin to bed and we`ll see you in the
morning to do our chores. Goodnight to ya.” Euan and Emily began to get
themselves ready for bed, the last thing he did was to put some water on the
fire and take in the lantern he had on the table.
The next night,
Euan`s family got together again. The weather being a fine night, they sat out
in the yard. Alex brought his family to hear of the stories his father had.
“Grampie you didn`t finish your story last night?” “Well Anne, you fell asleep
just when I was getting going. Shall I start again? “Yes please” replied the
“Well day and night,
the Mik Maq warriors would yelp and scream to try and intimidate us. A few of
the newer recruits began to become upset by this but the officers kept all the
men busy either using wood to patch up holes in the walls, making cartridges
for the muskets and cannons and clearing away rubbish. The armourer was having
a terrible time because most of the soldier`s muskets were breaking from being
so old and worn out. The officers believed that if they kept us busy, we wouldn`t
have time to think, and they could keep our morale up. And all the while, you`d
hear muskets firing at us.
When the soldiers
didn`t have to fire their muskets, they had to make more cartridges, try and
fix any parts of the walls that were falling down, and cleaning their muskets.
“By Jesus boys”
Nickerson said, “ these Mik Maq sure do have a hate on for us. I guess we`ll
have to show them that English soldiers don`t run at just the sound of a war
whoop.” “But Corporal, what if they come over the walls and scalp us” I asked.
“Never fear Drummer Kenny, we`ll keep each other safe. Just stay calm and do
your work. We`ll be alright. Also, didn`t you know, Drummers have luck?”
I had many extra tasks to do. Because the fort
had been in such a bad shape, we had to keep rebuilding the walls with whatever
we could find. We had to make fascines, which were bundles of sticks made into
their own logs to place in parts of the walls that were falling down. We also
had to make Gabions or wicker woven baskets filled with earth. These we placed
on the walls of the bastions to protect the gunners serving the cannons. Not
only did I still have to beat out commands for the troops, but if the surgeon
needed my help, then I`d have to go and assist him. But apart from a few
scrapes from bullet fragments hitting the palisades, I was spared the horror of
the surgeons table for the time being.
On the seventh night of the siege, the French
and Indians again tried to storm the fort in 3 different places. The firing was
heavy and continous and a few times, some of the French and warriors were able
to scale the wall and attempt to fight along it. Several soldiers were involved
in hand to hand fighting but any French or Indians who got over the wall, never
made it back. “Euan, I got one” yelled Gordon, “Great, now stop showing off and
fight some more, and stop hiding behind the officer!” “The Red hand of Ireland
you wild warriors”
Only a few of the soldiers died in this night,
the majority of the dead were French or Indian. Now I was beginning to feel
angry at these men. Why were they trying to wound and kill my friends? What had
we done to make them want us dead? I had never felt such anger before. I even
wondered if I was losing my soul with these terrible feelings. For the minister
in the church so long ago in had repeatedly told his flock, thou shall not
kill. But what could you do when a Frenchmen was jabbing a bayonet towards you
or a Mik Maq warrior was trying to shoot you? Were you just supposed to stand
there and die? I wanted this horrible event to end. Day in and out we`d hear
firing, sometimes we`d have to beat off an assault or fight with the French or
Indians. It felt like it would go on forever.”
Euan stopped talking
for a bit, lost in the horrible memories he had. “Father are you alright?”
asked Alex. “What, oh, yes, sorry, it`s been a long time since I thought of
“The next morning,
brought a sight that warmed the heart of every soldier in the garrison. A small
fleet of 4 ships coming up the Basin flying the Union Jack. The siege would be
over. Piling over the side of the ships into boats were grey coated soldiers
who stormed onto the river bank and ran the glacis to flank the French and Mik
Maq. At the sight of these reinforcements, the French and Indians ran for their
lives. These soldiers from New England were not all Europeans. There were a few
Natives amoungst them, all of them wore grey jackets with red waistcoats, and
they had a wide variety of caps. Some had Scottish style bonnets, others had tricorns,
still others were wearing hat blanks which were turned up on the side, or caps
with a stiff brim. Their officer could only be told by his gorget at his neck.
Capt. Joseph Goreham had led his corps of Nova Scotia Rangers to relieve the
fort. Once the troops were landed and had chashed off the French, the garrison
could heave a collective sigh of relief, and then begin to take the war to the
French themselves. The garrison sent out 3 companies out to chase away the
attackers. I was ordered to stay and relay any drum commands I heard.
Over the next few
days, I was able to speak to these new Rangers. They were a really interesting
bunch of people. Unlike the regular British soldiers, these Rangers didn`t wear
the redcoat or march in lines. They had army discipline but they could all
think, sharing their ideas with their officers and their clothing was a mix of
European style military wear and Native American. I was able to speak with one
ranger who was a Mohician but I was a little confused seeing as we had just
been fighting Natives.
“Ah well little drummer, in Europe is there
not more than one type of white man?” the ranger asked. “Well yes of course” I
replied “but aren`t all Indians the same” “Ah no, there are many different
people” replied the Mohician. “My name is Benard, I was born in a valley far
from here. My people`s enemies are the Abenaki, the Huron, the Maliseet and the
Mik Maq. My people live in long houses and grow corn and squash. We don`t trade
with the French as the Mik Maq do.”
“But Nova Scotia is British! Why would they
trade with the French?” asked I. “The first white man here was from a long long
time ago. They came in boats that had animal heads and fierce warriors who were
covered in hair. Even the hair on their face was braided like our women, and
their hair was gold colored, not black like ours. They stayed in a land a
little close to here, but the people there fought with them and finally the
long haired white people left. Then many years later, there were new ships but
these ships had white skins on their trees, and these white men dressed in
funny clothes. The made a place to live here after asking the Mik Maq if they
could stay. The Mik Maq said yes because they wanted the metal knives, axes and
pots, they just had to give furs to the new white men. These were the French.
The Mik Maq made a
mistake because the English began to fight the French over the furs. The Mik
Maq wanted to get more things from the French so they became their brothers and
have fought alongside the French since before Annapolis Royal was taken by the
English. My grandfather came here the first winter to help protect our English
“So why are you here now Benard?” I asked.
“Well, the French and their allies the Abenaki and Maliceet have come into our
hunting grounds and fought us because we don`t want to trade with them. We`d
trade with the English and we traded with the Dutch in New York before. We get
better guns, knives and pots. The French will trade us these things but will
also try to get us to trade furs for Brandy and follow what the Black robes who
tell us to worship their god. If I can fight some Mik Maq, then maybe my
peoples land will be saved.”
“Well I`m glad you came Benard, I`d like to be
your friend” “Well Euan, it`s good to have friends, and as long as you always
keep a promise to me, we shall be friends. Most of the other redcoats don`t
think the peoples here are worth their time. But you are young, and you must
learn that if you want to live here, you will have to live with us, not fight
us.” Benard extended his hand to me, the drummer boy. We shook hands, and it
was the beginning of a new friendship.”
Once the troops from
New England had arrived, my first battle was over. We had been lucky. Since the
French had lacked artillery, we didn`t suffer the full horror of a siege. All
the older men felt relieved as well. For at their age, they had been able to
beat off an attack. It had been twenty-four years since they had had to fire
their muskets in anger.
“With the relief of
the seige, some of the soldier took themselves to drink with secretly hoarded
issues of rum. A few of them began to fight and brawl with each other. “Hey you
dirty bugger, you stole my shirt” yelled one soldier. “Are you crazy man, why
would I steal your dirty thing, you didn`t put it in your haversack you sod.”
“Before I knew it, a brawl broke out inside our barrack. Fists were flying,
chairs and tables became over turned. Cpl. Nickerson with the help of some of
the evening sentries arrested these men and threw them in the black hole. The
next morning, I was the duty drummer with Nickerson, and we led the men through
the fort beating the rouges march. The other drummers had beaten assembly and
the entire garrison was formed up on the parade square where in the middle
stood a triangle of 3 halberds which was the Sargeant`s weapon and badge of
rank. The officers were formed up on one side with the soldiers of the garrison
forming 3 sides of a square.
Col. Massacrene read out “articles of war” Any
man who was found to be in drink after tattoo was in violation of military
discipline. Any man who was caught fighting would also raise the ire of the
law. So as an example, both men were sentenced to be flogged. This meant that I
would be introduced to a new experience in my military life. Drummers were also
responsible for flogging soldiers who broke the law. The drum major carried a
cat of nine tails in a bag. The cat was a covered wooden handle in leather
which had 9 leather tails coming off it which held small lead pellets in their
ends. A soldier could be sentenced to as much as 1000 lashes, but in this case,
punishment was only 25 each. One by one, each prisoner was stripped to the
waist and had their hands tied to the top of the triangle. I had to beat out
With a roll I began, and then the whish of the
whip, the slap of the cat on skin, and the grunt of mutted pain. The first
soldier he endured silently. The second soldier didn`t hold up so well. After 4
strokes he began to scream. By the tenth he had fainted.” Anne looked horrified
and spoke up. “Grampie, is army life always harsh and cruel?” “Not always Anne,
but I saw far worse in the home country. Life is hard, sometimes too hard.”
“I had been shocked,
but talking with the older soldiers that night, I learned that discipline in
the army was serious, and floggings did happen from time to time. It was the
only way to ensure that each soldier did his duty. The older men thought
rightly that the officers had shown lienency in their sentence given that the
garrison had just experienced a siege. If they had done so during the siege,
they might have been shot or hanged. Life in the army was the same as for a
civilian. Short, harsh and brutal, but at least in the army, the punishments
were seemed more just.
Chapter 6: THE SUMMER
“Goreham`s Rangers began to chase the French
and Mik Maq party as far as the Piziquid River. As they did this, the garrison
of Annapolis Royal repaired the damage to the fort, and buried our dead. In
order to conceal the true numbers, the dead were buried at night in the ditch
and next to the river. If any Mik Maq or Frenchman was watching, they would not
notice how many troops were left. Despite the fact that there were new soldiers
in the garrison, the officers felt the drummers needed to learn some elementary
handling of small firearms.
The other drummers and I were not usually
permitted to handle the muskets, but the officers decided to arm the drummers
with blunderbusses. They would only use these weapons if the fort was attacked
again. I was surprised at the style of firearm this was. The blunderbuss was
similar to the musket in that it was a flintlock, and loaded from the muzzle,
but it was short and the` muzzle was flared out, like a funnel.
“Well boys, “Lt. Howe told us, “ the
blunderbuss is for close range. You`ll find them in some homes back in merry
old England and on coaches as well to defend against those pesky rouges of
highwaymen. It`s designed to load easily. You can quickly load a round ball and
a charge of buckshot with a powder charge.” All the drummers were lead out to
the outer works of the fort and given a try at firing these weapons at turnips
on stakes. Behind us, a few soldiers who had been doing repair work stopped and
watched what would happen. Drummer Jefferson was first. Gordon loaded his
piece, cocked it, pointed it and fired, and promptly fell on his backside and
missing his target completely. “Bloody Hell that hurt” he said. The soldiers
fell about laughing. “Look at the wee drummers playing soldier, they are the
terror of France now, Ha ha ha ha. Sgt. Nelson quickly saw to it, that they
would be doing more physical labor since they had time to watch other soldiers
at their duty. “Alright then you lot, you just earned yourselves a days worth
of cleaning out the necessary house, since you seem to have nothing else but to
make fun of these boys. Away with ya now.”
Drummer Shaw was next and though he also
missed his target, he didn`t fall down, but that may have been also because he
was 16 was going to be re-mustered and issued a musket on his 17th
birthday which happened to be later in the summer. Finally I was given the
chance. Seeing as how the other boys had been standing, I thought that if I
knelt, I`d have a better chance.
So I loaded the weapon by carefully biting
open a cartridge, but I bit too low and got a mouthful of powder that tasted
like seawater.” Alex burst out laughing. “I poured a small amount in the pan,
closed it then turned the muzzle around making sure my face wasn`t anywhere
near it, then poured the powder, ball and pellets into the barrel. Finally on
the order of the officer, I pointed the blunderbuss towards the turnip and
feeling that if I closed one eye, I`d see it better. So I took a breath and
squeezed the trigger.
The flash was so bright, I closed my eyes and
thought I fell backward but I righted myself without falling down. When the
smoke cleared, my turnip was now mush, it had been blown to pieces. “Well done
Drummer Kenny, that`s the way to do it” exclaimed the officer.I was pleased with what I did, but I decided
that I`d beat my drum instead. At least it didn`t kick your shoulder like a
The daily routine in
the fort took on an urgent feel. The soldiers were drilled in the manual of
arms, and with some tatics that the rangers were using. Instead of lining up in
a long line to fire, the soldiers were marched into a column of only two men
wide. Then each was drilled to fire, retire and the pair of soldiers behind
them would present and fire until the whole column had had a chance. Then they
did it in an advance. This time the two front soldiers would fire, the two rear
soldiers would advance to the front and fire. After 4 hours, the entire
battalion was exercised in this way. Thus when the regiment marched out into
the woods, they would be able to fire almost similiarly to how the French and
Mik Maq did. And Lt. Kenny would make sure that before his troops left for a
patrol, he`d have every man loaded with buckshot and ball before they entered
the gloomy woods.
Another welcome sight
appeared in September. This ship was a merchant vessel which carried stores for
the garrison as well as trade goods for the townspeople. For me, the best was
that I was to be issued my first complete uniform. Each soldier was issued two
new shirts, a new coat, a new hat, breeches, stockings and in place of their
white canvas leggings, they were issued with brown wool leggings to wear while
in the forest. But most importantly they were issued with new muskets. I kept
my original issued clothes as well as the new uniform. The coat was buff
colored with the red cuffs and collar and laced arrows going up both arms and
lined with linen. The mitre cap I was given made me feel silly not impressive
as I had thought. With this cap, I felt like a court jester, but I was assured
by Da that the only time I`d be expected to wear it was within the forts walls
while on duty, when they went out on patrol, I`d wear my tricorn again.
Besides drumming for
drill and marching, I would find my days filled with chopping firewood for the
forts kitchen fires as well as the fires for the officers and men. After one
whole day of it, I was surprised to learn that the amount I had split, would
heat only one fireplace for a day in the fall! My god, I thought how cold will
the winter be in this land?”
To help us with
chopping, we`d sing work songs together. “I like to rise when the sun she rises
early in the morning. And I like to hear those small birds singing merrily
along their way eh eh. And horray for the life of the country boy and to ramble
in the new mown hay.” Anne nodded her head as she had seen both her mother and
father chop wood and when she would help them by piling it in the cabin. “I
tell ya, the other bother that I noticed were the amount of flies that wanted
to bite me. They were tiny black creatures that would buzz around you and then
stick their needle noses into your skin and it would itch like crazy. Then
there was the weather! Some days it would be like in Ireland, cool and rainy
while others were hot and dry. There was the wind and the fog which reminded me
of the voyage across the ocean. I never knew that you could see all four
seasons in one day here in Annapolis Royal.
“I was also used as a
messenger to pass on letters or orders to the other officers or soldiers. One
morning, during the first assembly, Captain Scott ordered me “Drummer Kenny,
find out where Private Mitchel is. He`s not falling in. “Yes sir”. I ran to the
barracks calling “Private Mitchel, where are you? The drums are beating
assembly, hurry up!” I finally found him in one of the barracks. “Mitchel, why
aren`t you on the parade square, Captain Scott orders you to fall in.” Mitchel
took a bite of his bread and spat back at me, “Bugger off you little brat, I`m
eating my breakfast. Tell Scott I`ll fall in when I`m finished”. “Are you mad,
I can`t do that”. “Fine then” he replied and made to smack me across my mouth.
I ran back to Captain Scott. “Well, where the bloody hell is he you little
rougue?” roared Scott. “Beg pardon sir, but Private Mitchel says he`ll fall in
when he`s finished breakfast.” “You insolent little bugger, if you have to,
drag the man back here.” So I ran back to the barracks and found Mitchel
drinking his tea. “Mitchel you have to fall in now, you`ll be in trouble.” “I`m
coming, get out of my way”. “I ran back to the parade square and reported to
Scott” “Private Mitchel is coming sir.”
When he arrived,
Mitchel found the displeasure of his tardiness. “Cpl. Nickerson, why was this
man not in your formation when assembly was beaten” “I`ve no idea sir, I gave
the men the order to fall in but as I left the barracks, I saw Mitchel putting
on his equipment. He was slow though.” “Cpl. Nickerson, I`d must inform the
commander that you are also at fault. As for you Smith, what`s your
explanation?” Mitchel spoke up “dam you sir but I hadn`t eaten my breakfast. So
a pox on you!”
“The entire battalion
took in a collective gasp of disbelief” Captain Scott took out his cane and
whacked Smith on his face. “Cpl. Nickerson confine this man. Place him in the
garrison cells. Battalion will retire to barracks to report back to the parade
square in 15 minutes. Quarter-Master, I want you to issue a ramrod for each
member of Cpl. Nickerson`s squad. The battalion will prepare to witness
punishment. You Private Mitchell will run the Gauntlet. Battalion, Disperse.”
“Now he had done it.
When the soldiers came back, we were formed in a square with Cpl. Nickerson`s
squad making a parrell line. Each man was given a wooden rammer. Mitchel was
stripped to his waist, and Nickerson drew his sword and pointed it at Mitchel`s
back. Sgt. Nelson took the spot in front of Mitchel and facing forward, drew
his own sword to point behind him. Captain Scott spoke “Any man who does not
put his whole strength into hitting Smith, I`ll use my own cane on your back.
Drummer Kenny sound the Rouge`s march. Quick, march.” And so we began. Each man
flung himself with the rammer on Smith`s back. Whack, Swish, slap, each soldier
hit Mitchel. After two passes, Mitchel collapsed and the soldiers continued
until he passed out. “Right, that should teach you all that insolence to an
officer will be repaid in kind. Cpl. Nickerson, place this man in the garrison
cell and stop his pay for ten days. Perhaps that will teach him to remember to
fall in on time. Battalion, disperse.”
When I had the
chance, I was finally able to go into the town and meet some of the
townspeople. Gordon and I went to the farmers market to see what wares the
country people made. “Aye Gordon, a little lassie for us to chat with” We both
went over to see her. The girl who I saw was selling dried herbs. She had
blonde hair and blue eyes and spoke a little English but with a French accent.
“So if you are French, why are you here?” I said. The girl replied, “I`m not
French! I`m Acadiene. My name is Madeline and my family lives on the Melanson
farm just over the river. I`m sorry those Mik Maq attacked you. We have nothing
to do with them. We just want to live here in peace and to trade with you
“So you had a little Acadian girlfriend did
you dear?” asked Emily. “No dear no, she was just a girl who I used to talk to
and she was only 10 like myself.”I
remember thinkingthat made sense.
Seeing as the Irish preferred to live in peace too but they always had to
either serve in the English army, or feel the injustices of having English
overlords in their own country. “Here, try this packet of herbs, it`s for
Fricot,” she said. “It`s a delicious chicken stew. Your soldiers will like the
taste.” “Thank ye kindly miss.” I replied.What else do you do besides selling stuff here.” “I help my family on
the farm of course, but if you`d like we could play a bit.” Gordon and Euan
both jumped at the chance to be with someone their own age. “Do you know any
other children we can play with?” we asked. “But of course, there are many
children in my village who we can play with, tomorrow I can back with my
friends and we`ll play with you then.” “Great, we`ll see you tomorrow. Wait at
the front gate, and we`ll come out to play.” Bye.
Other things that I found in the market
included wooden shoes which worked well in the mud. There was a tin smith
selling his wares as well as some ladies who were selling lace in the French
style. It was just like the market days back in Ireland, but the goods sold
here were different. I saw jars of a brown liquid which he asked about and was
given a taste. It was one of the sweetest things I had ever tasted. When I
asked what it was, I was told that it was molasses, which was made from the
sugar in the West Indies.
I also tried a golden colored liquid and this
too was sweet, but this was made from the maple trees from the forest. It was
Maple syrup which the Mik Maq had taught the Acadiens to make. Other delights I
tried that day included bannock which was a type of bread that the Indians and
Scots made and jerky which was made from dried moose meat. There were also
baskets made from tree bark. When I heard the drummer in the fort beat the
fatigue call, I reluctantly left the town and returned to the fort. There, I
began to do his chores for the day, which was to help Cpl. Nickerson prepare
dinner for the officers. Having gotten the fricot package from Madeline, we
made it into the first course soup for the officers. The aroma was a delicious
mix of chicken, thyme, savory and a hint of new mown hay. And there was enough
left over for the soldiers to have once they finished serving the officers.
They also served rappie pies which were
Acadian meat pies with vegtables. I was truly lucky to be my father`s servant,
as the other soldiers were just getting boiled beef which was not of gourmet
quality and bread.
The next day, I was
the duty drummer again, drilling the soldiers and also doing more chores.
Gordon got to play with Madeline and her friends, but I was sent along with a
work party to put in new palisades along the top of the forts walls. We also
put sharpened stakes into the slopes of the walls and in front of the ditches.
First they had to cut the logs, then they would sharpen them to be ready to
stick an enemy soldier, and finally they were driven into the ground at a
forty-five degree angle. It took all day and I was glad that I only had to beat
tattoo that night. My dinner was the rest of my bread I was issued that day and
the cold hunk of salted beef I didn`t finish for my breakfast, washed down with
The next day I got my
chance to play with the other children. I had only seen some of the other
soldier`s children and some of the younger ones from the town. The first game
we started with was having a hoop race. I had gone to the cooper and gotten
about 6 barrel hoops which we could play with. “Are you ready?” I cried “1, 2,
3, go!” Three of the kids began to whack the hoops along the ditch floor. We
were all yelling and cheering like mad. I looked up and saw my father watching
“Drummer Kenny, you go next and give them a
good run.” Gordon passed me a hoop and a stick. “Ready, off ya go.” I rolled
the hoop and whacked at it with my drumstick. But since the ditch wasn`t very
wide, we kept bumping into each other and we`d fall about laughing and we`d get
back up and try again. Madeline was doing very well, she never missed a hit and
she beat us by a mile. I didn`t know I`d get beaten by a girl. The next game we
tired was using stilts. Each of us had a go and we`d try walking around with
them. I kept falling over though so I gave up on it for a bit.
Then after a bit, we all stood in a circle and
began to sing Ring around the roses, which was lots of fun because we had to
teach the English words to Madeline and her friends. “Ah the English is so
hard, you should try one of our songs” she said. “On rouland ma bula roulong,
on rouland ma boure, on rouland my bula roulong, on roulang ma bule.” “We made
a mess of the song but we all fell about laughing at trying to use each others
languages. When the fatigue call was sounded, we reluctantly bid goodbye to the
other children but they promised us that they`d come back and play with us
There were other
times where we got together and played stool ball or Nine pin bowling. We also
sang songs to each other. I remember singing Sing a song of sixpence and Jack
and Jill. I was lucky enough to get a copy of Tales of Mother Goose which we`d
read to the other children and we`d act out the songs. The girls would also
teach us cat`s cradle with sting they had. We`d also watch the officer`s play
cricket on the glacis outside the forts walls. When it wasn`t raining, we`d
also play marbles.
son, Matthew took a likeing to my uniform and drum. When I would practice with
the other young drummers, he would follow me about like a little dog with his
master. He was a cute little fellow. His mother often apologized to me for
Matthew following me about, but I didn`t mind. Since I had no brothers or
sisters, it was nice to have a little boy want to be around me. His father made
him a small drum from a cut down powder keg and Matthew would try and imitate
my drumming. Shortly afterwards, Steele was sent with his company to Placentia,
his wife and son followed. He cried as he went in the boat crying out Euan bye
bye. It made me a little sad, for he was a good little boy, and where he was
going, there were not many other boys for him to play with.
Gordon and I even
pooled our money together to buy a set of toy soldiers. We were able to get a
set each of infantry, cavalry and artillery. The quartermaster even let use
some of the paint to make them look like ourselves. The officers found this was
good and even used them to show how we could attack the French next time. It
kept us busy and with the dice we had, we even played our own battles.
When we could get a
few boys together, we`d also fight battles with them with toy guns and swords
Being a soldier was tough, but it still beat
watching those sheep on wet moors in Ireland. And so it was for the rest of the
summer, fixing the forts walls, gates, and buildings. We`d go out on patrols
with an escort of rangers, and also it seemed that all we ever had to do was
cut firewood. But firewood cutting parties were very interesting as Cpl.
Nickerson was in charge of those. I found out from these parties more and more
stories of the older soldiers. Nickerson had in fact fought in the big battles
of the War of Spanish Succession in Flanders. “Aye little Euan, I even fought
with Marlborough at Blenheim. I was in the pioneer section of Corporal John`s
army. I spent most of the morning throwing down fascines into the marsh we had
to cross. Now that was a battle! There seemed to have been soldiers from every
part of Europe in that great battle. I was lucky in that I came through without
a scratch. The ground shook with the movement of the cavalry charges and loud
were the cannons roar. A lot of English troops advanced against the villages
the French and Barvarians had fortified. That night, we pounded the place with
our artillery. In the morning, when they surrendered, was saw that the villages
had been packed with thousands of soldiers. The French and Barvarian commanders
had kept too many men inside and they couldn`t shoot without hitting their own
men. We took scores of men afterwards.
When that war was over, I enlisted in
Independent companies to come and serve in Newfoundland. Whenever we had the
chance, we`d go out fishing to add to our diet. Then when Phillip`s regiment
was raised, I came here. I miss being on the sea jigging for cod, but you don`t
have to worry about falling out of a boat in the woods.”
After the siege, the soldiers were drilled in
woods fighting by the rangers in the forest, and in a new defensive drill
inside the forts walls. If the French were to attack again, this time they
would meet the main French attack with concentrated musket firing in ranks.
When one rank would fire, they would retire, to be replaced by another rank would
fire and so on. As the summer gave way to the fall, I began to notice the
change in the air. The mornings were not cool as they had been in the summer,
but were becoming crisp with a cold and frost that would be on the ground. The trees
which had been green were changing into a rainbow of colors. There were
yellows, reds, browns and they dotted the hillsides with ribbons of colors. The
birds were beginning to fly south for the winter.
Since we had used so
much powder during the attacks during the summer, we had to also go in and
shift the gunpowder barrels. We did this so the powder wouldn`t cake together
if it got damp. If the powder was wet, we may as well have thrown rocks at the
enemy. I was always scared to do that job because the barrels were so heavy and
also if there was any spark, we`d all be blown to kingdom come. The rules in
the powder magazine were no fire or smoking of any kind, we couldn`t go inside
with any metal on us, so we had to wear a special suit of clothes and wear
moccasins so that there would be no chance of our shoe buckles or nails
scraping anything to make a spark.
Chapter 7: The French
In the middle of
October, the drums were sounding assembly in the wee hours of the morning. It
was still dark when I tumbled out onto the parade square with the other
soldiers. The officers were forming the soldiers into their companies with
shouted orders and commands. When they were all assembled, Col. Mascarene spoke
“Kings forces, Gorehams Rangers have sighted a large French and Indian War
party advancing towards us. They are estimated to be about 600 men. With the
rangers and ourselves, we only number 200. We`re outnumbered three to one, but
we have an advantage. We`re inside this fort, which we have been making
stronger all summer. All of you have been drilled with a new way of fighting.
You have also been issued with new muskets. Each of you will do your duty for
King, country and your regiment. We`re the best regiment in America and we`ll
send those rascally French and Indians running. Three cheers for King George
the Second, Hip Hip Huzzah, Huzzah, Huzzah”
We stood rigidly at attention and I was
thinking, why did these French soldiers want to attack us again? Lt. Kenny took
our company and posted them along the top of the walls.I joined them and then the waiting began. At
about daybreak, I could hear distant fifing and drumming. On the south bank of
the river on a slight rise, I could see the French forming up. These soldiers
were wearing grey coats faced blue and were wearing blue breeches and tricorns.
Instead of swords hanging from their belts, they had tomahawks. There were some
Mik Maq warriors crawling closer to the walls. These warriors were wearing blue
leggings and had blanket coats. The French force advanced towards the forts
walls with their colors flying and drums and fifes playing.
We held our fire until the French were almost
against the walls. Finally the forts guns fired and scattered the French as the
cannon balls bounded towards them.In
the river though were a few fishing boats and small boats that the rangers had.
Before the Rangers could act, a party of French Marines had captured the boats
and had scored the first victory in their siege. These boats were armed with
swivel cannons and thus the French now had some artillery to fire on the fort.
The guns were of small caliber, but could still kill and maim.
The French Marines took the boats out into the
river and began to fire on the fort to harass the defenders. All of a sudden, I
heard a pop from one of the ships guns but was then followed by an almighty
explosion. I first thought that a lucky hit by the French had hit one of the
guns in the bastion and blew it up killing the crew. When the smoke cleared, I
saw a scene of true horror. It wasn`t a lucky shot but rather the gun was so
old that it blew up when fired. Not one of the guns crew was left intact. The
only way you could tell that there had been living men standing there were the
body parts and broken equipment strewn about. It looked like a painter had
knocked over a pot of red paint. I was so shocked that I threw up my
Then the familiar
yelling and screaming as the French and Mik Maq made an assault on the
walls.When the French got to the edge
of the ditch, we began to let loose a fusillade on the attackers. I kept
beating out the firing commands. The volleys were deafening. Bang, bang, bang,
bang, bang, bang! The smoke from the cannons and muskets was so thick that it
was like a man made fog covering the area. A few soldiers began to fall on the
walls, from French fire. After about half an hour, the French withdrew, having
tested the strengths of the garrison. When the smoke cleared, the ditch around
the fort had more bodies in it. But to the surprise of the officers, it wasn`t
French dead but more Mik Maq! Even more surprising for the garrison, was after
the first assault, the French seemed content to snipe at the troops on the
walls. This time though, with a stronger and more aggressive force, Massacrene
ordered Capt. Goreham to make a night sortie and find out what the true
situation of the French was.
The first act for the rangers was to relieve
the boats in the river of their French captors and to try and chase off the Mik
Maq. As they prepared to leave, I caught sight of Benard. He was in his uniform
but had painted his face black, and looked very fierce. I waved cheerfully but
Benard had a grim face on him. Later I learned that Benard was part of the
party that would storm the boats. Rangers had courage, but trying to attack a
ship that had cannons, no matter how small felt like suicide.
As a ruse, Col. Mascarene had the garrison
Drummers assemble the garrison and lining the walls to fire blank charges
towards the French and Mik Maq, in an attempt to keep their heads down. It
worked. Gorehams men rushed down the glacis and took some canoes they had
spotted and charged out over the river to the boats. The French crews were
easily surprised in the darkness and the rangers took the ships and sailed for
Boston with all speed.
The French commander Duviver attempted a
parley with Mascarene. During the cordial meeting over wine, Duviver informed
the British Commander “I have a fleet of ships, cannons and more men who will
arrive from Louisbourg. In all honor, I ask you to surrender so that we may
stop fighting.” Mascarene suspected a rouse and decided to see if Duviver was
bluffing. The garrison officers began to grumble and argue with Mascarene
again, urging him to surrender. Mascarene understood that this was not because
they were cowards, but rather they were old and tired. The siege then became a
dangerous game of wait and see. If Duviver was correct, a French fleet would
use their guns to pound us to dust, and Nova Scotia would become Acadie again.
We all became alarmed at this fact and every soldier who could was weaving more
gabion baskets to add to the bastion walls and we kept fixing the walls as best
as we could.
Our morale began to fall seeing how the
officers were arguing between themselves. I had no wish to spend my days in a
French prison cell and would continue to fight no matter what. During another
parley, Duviver again asked for the British surrender, but when one of his
junior officers began to yell at the British officers the politeness of parley
gave way to the rudeness of war again.
About 10 days later, one Mik Maq warrior who
was captured told the officers that the military commander at Louisbourg De
Gannes had ordered the French to raise the siege and to return to the French
city. So we thought that was that. The second attack on us petered out and we
began to relax and begin to prepare for the coming winter. We sent out patrols
to check on the French camp, only to find it deserted. The only evidence that
there had been an attacking army was the many brush huts that they had built in
the tree lines to hide the position of their camp. We also found the beginnings
of siege works. The French had started to dig trenches and gun positions in
expectation of the arrival of their artillery and more troops from Louisbourg,
France or the West Indies.
On a late October morning, after we had begun
to believe that the danger was over, the sentry on the wall noticed 4 ships of
the line advancing up the river. “Corporal of the guard, 4 Man of war sighted in
the river approaching.” “Which flag are they flying sentry” “I can`t see” Cpl.
Nickerson ran to the officer`s quarters to find an officer on duty. Captain
Bradstreet was the only one awake and upon hearing Nickerson`s report, grabbed
a spy glass and ran up to the wall to check the masts of the ship. As he raised
the glass, he gasped, “Dear God , those are French ships ready to bombard the
fort.” “Drummer, sound to arms, Corporal, advise the officers of the situation,
get to the artillery officer and man the guns at once.”
“I awoke to the sounds of the drums beating
out assembly again, and as it was getting to be a regular occurance, the troops
quickly roused out and began to get themselves into their positions. Every one
of us looked in horror at the ships approaching up the river. They were not
small privateers but rather frigates and brigs with several gun decks. The guns
on the ships matched the heavy guns on our walls. But the ships easily out
gunned us. It was a tense few minutes until the gun crews came up to man their
The only activity we could see was a small
cutter pull out from the largest ship and head to the North shore of the river.
We watched as an officer and a party of French Marines advanced up the river
bank. “Sir, shall I open fire?” asked the gun commander. “Hold fire, until the
French open up, I do not want to tell them what we have in our bastions.
Massacrene watched the ships for sighs of their guns being made ready or other
boats getting ready.
All of a sudden an alarm came from the bastion
on the far left, the one in which the main gunpowder magazine was. “Col.
Massacrene, ships crews are landing troops on the south bank of the river. “Lt.
Lindsay” came Massacren`e cry, “take 2 companies and man the outer walls. Get
into the blockhouse and load the swivels with grape and the wall guns with buck
and ball. “Yes sir, Lindsay`s company and Bradstreet`s company, from line into
collumn at the quick step, march. 50 men quickly followed their officers out
the sally port towards the barbette battery and the blockhouse. “By Jesus, I
think the French mean to take us this time. Men of war, with heavy guns, and a
company of Marines per ship. That makes about 1200 men they have ready to storm
us from this side, not forgetting the troops which are some where to our east.
“Guns loaded and ready sir.” “Drummer Kenny”
came Lindsay`s cry. “Yes sir” I replied. Get yourself into the blockhouse. Stay
on the first floor. If the French begin to come up the glacis, take a
blunderbuss and fire out through the loophole, but only do so when they have
crossed over and up the bank.” “But sir, you need my drumming to aid in
orders.” “I have a drummer already, you will need to beat out commands from the
blockhouse.” He then knealt so that only I could hear. “Euan, I know that the
guns will fire onto any gun position, but if you are inside the blockhouse, you
will have more cover. You are my only son, and I want you to survive. Be a good
boy and see to your duty.” “Yes sir, good luck”. I saluted my father and ran
into the blockhouse.
All day, the men
watched the ships. Every moment might be the one when the awful machines of
death would spit out fire and smoke sending roundshot pounding into the walls
or smashing into bodies. The few rangers in the fort began to make a sally out
to the lower town to see what was about and to act as a skirmish screen to
deter a landing.
By nightfall, no
shots had been fired. Sentries were posted, but the men were ordered to come
off the walls and sleep at the bottom of the parapets. If the French wanted to
attempt a night assault, the garrison would still be ready to meet them. Euan
waited patiently inside the blockhouse. “About 11pm, I was ordered to go and
see if there was any stew or tea made for us. None of us had eaten all day, and
our canteens were all but empty. I quietly dashed towards the sallyport and was
challenged by the sentries.
“Who goes there came a hoarse whisper.
“Drummer Kenny” I answered. “What`s Irish for red hand? I gave the reply and
was allowed to enter. I got a tin pot of tea and one of stew to take out to the
blockhouse. I took great care not to spill it. It was tough going as we weren`t
allowed any lanterns to light our way. Once I made it back inside, one soldier
was kept a look out on the swivel guns while those of us who could ate as
quickly as possible in order to give the others a chance to eat and rest as
well. I was allowed to sleep, but I would keep waking up terrified that the
guns would begin to fire. Finally at dawn, the French ships began to fire. “Get
down take cover”. Every soldier who could crouched as low as possible and
hugged the grass as though it was a mother holding them and giving them
cannon balls thudded into the earthen walls shaking them like God was angry and
shaking the earth we were on. You`d hear the thump of the gun, then the whoosh
of the ball coming over. The only sound they made when they landed was a dull
thud or if it hit something, you`d hear a crashing sound of metal on wood.
The sentries looked
out over the top of the walls to see what was happening. The ships were giving
a bombardment to cover a raiding party who were capturing the small boats on
the wharf. Since the gunfire would intimidate the townspeople and keep us with
our heads down, the French Marines boarded the vessels and rowed them to the
cover of their ships. Gorehams fired at them, but this only attracted the
attention of swivel guns that were in the French boats. The French naval
commander had learned that Duviver had already left, so the navy force occupied
itself by capturing some supply boats that had arrived to relive the fort.
We thought that we
were damm lucky for if Duviver had stayed put and the ships had bombarded us,
we`d have been prisoners or dead for sure. For me 1744 proved to be a dangerous
“Grampie, why didn`t
you run away to somewhere safe?” “Well, there really wasn`t any where else to
go. So I thought, well, I might as well stay and fight.”
“For many evenings
afterwards, the officers conversations were about what the French were up to
and what should they do. Having survived two attacks, the officers all agreed
that they would forget any talk of surrender. They sent messages to Boston to
ask the governor of Massachussetts for more troops.
The next time I was
able to go into the town, the only Acadian to be trading was little Madeline. She
had brought corn, pumpkins, onions, carrots, squash and turnips to trade or
sell. Her father had sent whatever surplus vegetables he had to the garrison in
the hopes that if he fed the British soldiers, he`d keep them from burning his
farm. Madeline was feeling very worried.
“Papa only talks about the fighting. When the
French soldiers come from Louisbourg and they have Mik Maq with them, he gives
them whatever he can, and listens to what they say. Every time a war party
comes through with a French officer, the officer always asks Papa to join and
help drive the English out, but for our family this is our home, not France or
My family has been here for a hundred years,
and this is the only home we know.” Her father had been given a new French
musket and a cartridge box, which the French officers were giving to all the Acadians
who would take them expecting that they would join in attacking Fort Anne.
Madeline`s father gave what he could because he feared that if he gave nothing
to the French soldiers, their Mik Maq allies would burn his homeand take everything. I always liked talking
with Madeline as we could talk about what I had experienced in Ireland, where
the only home I had had was taken away from me, and how my life had changed so
much when I had arrived in Nova Scotia.
“For us, this land is Acadie, not New Scotland”
she said. It was so similar for me because I considered Ireland Eire, but this
land was now called by it`s English name. The best part was, I had made another
Chapter 8, Preparing
As the summer turned
to fall, the soldiers filled their days with chopping firewood, making sure
that they had enough blankets and laying in a stock of candles. As Private
Delaney told me, “The winters here are long and dark. We need lots of wood,
lots of candles and lots of rum!” Now I wasn`t a stranger to cold weather, but
I was getting worried about what was coming. As well, I saw a lot of the
soldiers coming back from patrols with bundles of spruce branches. When I asked
about them, Delaney explained to me that they would be used to make spruce beer,
which was drunk to keep scurvy away.
There was little time to rest. The day`s
routine had changed from drilling to preparing for the winter. With a shipment
of new blankets, the soldiers spent their time sewing a blanket into a coat
called a capote, which the Acadians had taught them to make. These coats were
thick and warm with a hood and would protect the soldiers while on duty during
long hours walking the forts parapets. Any one who could, knitted scarves,
woolen hats, and mittens. Thick socks were also issued and the soldiers mended
their wool leggings. Standing in a snowstorm was not the time to remember that
one should have prepared a little more in the fall.
November came around
and with it came traditions from the old world. Oct 31 had been welcomed by the
Irish soldiers as All Hallows Eve. The soldiers carved faces into turnips and
pumpkins and dressed and disguised themselves as highwaymen and paid a visit to
the Officers who warmly welcomed them and treated them to rum and brandy.
Lindsay and I spent the evening going about the barracks playing tunes on our
pipes and boran and helping in sing songs with the troops. It was important to
keep these customs alive. The officers felt it greatly helped with morale and
helped keep defaulters at bay.
The English got to
have their chance to entertain by celebrating Guy Fawkes Day on November 5th.
Cpl. Nickerson was splendid in making up a huge batch of Hot Buttered Rum for
the troops and many a men dressed up again and had more singing and dancing as well
as a huge bonfire out by the river. The English joked that by lighting these
fires, they`d scare the Mik Maqs out of attacking them this winter. I thought
they might be right. After all the terrible things I had seen that year, I
could understand why the soldiers were going a little crazy. I sipped my hot
buttered rum, letting the hot liquid course through my body, and I began to
feel wild and I was soon belting out the tunes and cheering during my boran
playing. I felt that I should enjoy my life as much as I could, because I could
not know if a French or Mik Maq musket ball might take my life away in the
coming year. Maybe that`s why all the officers drink so much and the soldier
hide their rum rations. It`s the only way to escape this crazy world.
I was even brave enough to start smoking a
pipe that night. On my first puff, I gagged and spit up my rum, but the other
soldiers laughed and told me to just pull a little into your mouth, not to
inhale and then blow out. It was a strange sensation. The smoke felt like it
was cooking the inside of my mouth, but then all I could smell was smoke
afterwards. Perhaps, I though I should wait until I was older to smoke.”
“Stupid boy” Emily said, “you were a foolish boy weren`t you Euan?” “Yes dear
that`s why I don`t do it now, you asked me to not drink the demon rum or the
devil tobacco.” “And you`ve been a much better man since I`d say”.
Euan had a drop of
tea. “The next morning I felt sick as a dog, and I also thought that perhaps,
I`d also have to save drinking rum for when I was older as well. My head
pounded, my stomach ached and I had to constantly run to the necessary house to
purge my bowels which were like fire inside him. Oh, what calamities I felt
were befalling my body. For a while after, I had only bread, and tea, no more
liquor would touch me for a bit, or perhaps, I`d have to not drink at all.
The snow begins to
One morning late in
November, I was surprised to see that the puddles in the parade square from the
previous days rain had frozen over! It was COLD! Even the soldier`s shirts that
the washer women had hung out to dry had frozen stiff! With Gordon, I picked up
the ice from the puddles and lined it up along the barrack walls. The cold was
not a wet dampness but it made you shiver as soon as you stepped outside. Since
October, the grass had been covered with frost but now in November it had
progressed to ice! The cold bit into your skin making ones hands red and your
cheeks rosy. Now I understood why everyone had been making mittens! Watching
the smoke from the chimneys lazily drift upward in the cold air gave me the
feeling that the winter would be long.
After drumming for the changing of the
sentries, I felt relieved that I could sit by the wood stove in the guardhouse
and sip my hot tea. But the sentries would have only their walking to keep
their numbed limbs warm. During the day the sky was as grey asmusket balls and the air felt strange. You
could taste and smell chilled water in the air which tingled in your nose. I
stepped outside to beat out the drum call to change the sentry when I saw the
first snow flake fall.
WOW, I thought, it`s snowing. The snow began
to build into a steady fall. By evening, you couldn`t see 5 meters in front of
you. Everything had turned from grey to white. I asked Delaney what was
“Oh, this is a blizzard lad. It`s not uncommon
for us to get one this early in the winter. We`d best stoke up the fire and
I`ll get the Corporal to go and check on the sentries. I guess we`ll have to
make sure they only have one hour on in this, not the two we have for the rest
of the year.” Then the wind came up. It blew so hard and strong that it took
the breath away from you. The snow stung your face as soon as you stepped out
the door. The only light that there was came from the Officers barracks windows
and a few lanterns that were hung about to help guide soldiers to the necessary
house in the dark. Walking the walls in this weather was very dangerous and the
sentries were told to just pace in each bastion. They had to keep moving for
standing still would rob them of what body heat they had. At least if you were
walking, you were still making heat for yourself. My nose was running but it
began to freeze, as the tempreture had dropped so much.
And so it was for
three days. Snow, snow, and more snow. All you could see was white. It seemed
like it would never stop snowing! Everyone who wasn`t on duty was huddled in
their barracks trying to stay dry and warm. It was tough on the sentries who
had to try and dry out their clothes and warm up as best they could. And every
soldier would do his duty, it was just how life as a soldier was. With only
four drummers in garrison, each boy would be on for 24 hours at a time at least
twice a week. But at least drummers didn`t need to march about.
Finally on the morning of the fourth day, I
awoke to see that the snow had drifted up right up to the tops of the first
floor windows! The soldiers took the fire shovels and crawled out the upper
story windows to start and dig out the doors. The officers, and NCO`s were
calling out to each building to see it their occupants were still alive and
well. All the sentries survived the night but everywhere was a thick coat of
snow. It was a big worry for the soldiers because now that the snow was so deep
and high, in some places, enemy soldiers would be able to walk over the ditch
and scale the walls with relative ease. And as was always the case, everyone
was put to work doing something to combat the soldier`s worst enemy, boredom. It
took a further 3 days to dig enough paths about the fort to making walking
easier. The daunting thought occurred to me, if this was just the beginning of
winter, how many more storms would we have before spring?
Chapter 9: Euan`s
First Nova Scotian Christmas.
The winter in Nova
Scotia could be summed up with two words, cold and snow. Now like I said, I
wasn`t a stranger to the cold, having spent many a day watching those sheep,
but I had never seen so much snow fall. Everything was coated in a thick blanket
of snow and ice. The snow from the first blizzard wasn`t melting. It just
stayed where it was. It made moving about difficult until the Rangers showed
the soldiers how to make snowshoes.
Even though it was winter, they said, the
French and Indians would still make war on us. Another problem with all the
snow and cold was that the soldiers were cooped up in their barracks for weeks
on end. The only people who went out were the sentries. Going to the necessary
house was an ordeal as it was so cold in there, it felt like the water in you
would turn to ice when it came out!
A lot of time was
spent doing little chores that the soldiers didn`t have time for in the rest of
the year. Several soldiers could sew and make things out of leather for some of
them had been saddlers before enlisting. Belts and shooting bags began to fill
up the hooks and pegs around the walls. Any linen that was on hand was being
cut and sewn into shirts for the spring. Other soldiers would carve designs
into cow horns and make them into powder horns which were good for at keeping
the powder dry and were very useful for hunting. I decided that I`d make a
chess set for my father out of wood, so I began to carve them.
Other soldier who
could read would read out stories from the bible or other books or newspapers
which we had. A lot of the papers were very old, but it would lead to
discussions, and anything which kept you from being bored, was good.
The officers spent their time catching up on
writing the regiments dispatches, journals and documents. A lot of time was
spent by both the officers and men repairing and maintaining their weapons for
the next attack which they were sure would come.
The other problem was
that the climate in Annapolis Royal wrecked
havoc with the forts walls and buildings. In the spring when it came, we would
be tasked with putting new sod on the walls and adding more earth to keep them
The barracks were
miserable. Some of the older buildings were very drafty as the seams between in
the logs would open up. Even the wood could be pulled out by your fingers. At
times the weather was so foul, the soldiers couldn`t even make it to the
necessary house and had to use their wash buckets as toilets. The stink made
you gag, but it wasn`t much different from sheep dung as I remembered.
But finally there was
a day to celebrate. Christmas had arrived. Despite the misery of the barracks,
the weather and the food, salt pork for 3 weeks straight, the officers and men
had been preparing for the day. The Regimental chaplin had given a divine
service to the troops and as a good will gesture and morale booster, the
officers and NCO`s threw a Regimental dinner for the entire garrison. No
expense was spared in food and drink for the men. Secretly, the NCO`s had been
preparing vast kegs of beer, and had been able to acquire large amounts of rum.
Hot Buttered Rum was flowing freely as well as good wine which the officers had
secretly aquired from the French.
The food made my stomach rumble with hunger.
Cornish pasties had been prepared. Wild fowl which the officers had shot such
as included ducks, geese and partridgeswere all spit roasted and stuffed with cornmeal and apples. Hams had
been smoked, beef had been roasted and large amounts of root vegetables were
cooked to help ward off the dangers of scurvy. The officers joined in the
dinner as well as in drink and song. The officers knew that an occasion like
this would help to head off some desertions and meloncoly for a bit. I
presented my chess set that I had made for my father and he presented me with a
deck of cards and some dice which he`d made out of two musket balls. “Now just
so you know, gambling is officially a crime but if you are stuck inside a
barracks for several weeks, you ought to give something for the other soldiers
to do. Just don`t gamble on money.”
Lindsay and I played
music again and other soldiers brought out their fiddles, tin whistles and
voices made merry and the rafters rang. Later in the evening, as the men
continued their celebrations in the barracks, several soldiers arrived in
costumes. One man was dressed as a parson with a hood on his head, another was
as a lady of the evening and two others had made themselves look like Indians.
It was the old custom of mummering. The men came in to boisterous laughing and
welcomes. The men all had masks on their faces and danced, played tunes and
sang until each was given a piece of fruit cake which had been made for the
occasion as well as a good tot of rum punch. In a part of fun, the parson
blessed the men and after a bit, all the mummers left to visit another
It was a night that helped everyone forget
that we were far from our home, in an inhospitable place in the dead of
winter.” ”I decided to strike up a tune I knew.
“Will ye go to Flanders, my mally-o. Will ye go to Flanders,
my mally-o, farewell good wine and brandy, sac and sugar candy, will ye go to Flanders, my mally-o…
As I finished singing, I could see tears in
the eyes of the older soldiers who had been away from home for so long.
” “Were the winters
worse than now Grampie?” “No Anne, they were the same, it was just that I
wasn`t used to it yet.” Just thinking of that first winter made Euan shiver and
Emily put a shawl around his shoulders to warm him. “Thank you dear, you take
good care of me”.
“Well, with the
soldiers being exposed to cold and damp, sickness began to break out. With the
newyear being long past, the men began to fall victim to a host of diseases.
The first one to make the rounds was the bloody flux caused by the lack of
clean water and the contamination of the air by the “honey buckets” as the
soldiers began to call the wash tubs which had been filled and emptied out the
doors. With our diet being only a pound of bread a day, with dried peas and
salted beef or pork (and I suspected horse) the men began to get sick with
scurvy. I watched with horror as some of the older men started to bleed from
their gums and loose their teeth. The NCO`s were trying to find onions and
cabbages to make soup for the troops before most of them would die. We all
drank our spruce beer, and we`d eat our vegetables but when the supplies began
to get low, then the sickness would start. Then the worst hit.
Chapter 10, The Pox
One morning when I
was preparing to act as the duty drummer, I began to feel strange. The inside
of my mouth felt funny, like I had small bumps in it, and my throat began to
feel very raw. I also noticed that I had a small rash but thought it was
because we had not been able to wash properly in days. As I went about my duty,
I began to feel even weaker. On the fourth change of the guard, I marched out
of the guard house and began to beat, but my hands didn`t want to obey and I
dropped my sticks, I then collapsed into a heap of snow. The last thing I
remembered was Cpl. Nickerson yelling for the surgeon.
“Bloody hell, but I
feel terrible” I yelled . The pox was the worst. “I can`t stop bloody
scratching myself” Mine was one of the barracks that was turned into a small
pox hospital. To my amazement, Lindsay was there. “Da, you can`t be here,
you`ll get sick, I`ll be on me own if you die.” “No worries Euan” said my
father, “I had the pox as a child, and survived. I was lucky and got a mild
case, but it gave me a cure from it in the future, now I`m to nurse any soldier
who has it”. As the days went by, we saw more of the soldiers added to the
“Lynch, you`re not sick are ye?” I asked.But Lynch was beyond speaking. The pox had
covered his whole body. It looked like he had been spit roasted on the fire.
The barracks was a world of misery and dispair. All I could hear at night were
the moans and groans of those who were sick. The fever had made me begin to
have dreams where my mum was there with me. My father told me he could hear the
conversations I had with mother who wasn`t there. “Mother, it`s alright that
you ran off and left us in Ireland. I didn`t know you came to Nova Scotia. Please stay with us”. Lynch in
his agony began to cry for his own mother, “I`ll be a good boy mum, I`ll not
tease the pigs, or break the pots anymore, I`ll do anything if you can make me
feel better. I`ll learn to be a coachmen with Da, just stop the pain mum.”
All the while, Lindsay gave words of comfort,
and did what he could. The surgeon could do little. “Tis what happens in winter
sir” Dr. Malcom said. “With so many men under one roof, trapped by the snow,
it`s only a matter of time before soldiers get sick. But we must keep the pox
here in the fort. If it spreads into the town, it`ll create a panic.”
On the sixth day
Lynch was no longer crying. His face was a palor of ivory. The sweat was coming
off him, but the pox had been too advanced to let him recover. The next
morning, I found out, the young lad, who had sold himself into indenture
servitude, only to run away to join the army and be a gunner, died at the young
age of 16. “I can handle the deaths of soldiers in battle, or by my knives, but
to see them die of diseases God creates, it`s a mighty burden to me” Dr. Malcom
was heard to say
“And all I could do
was cry for the boy, because I hadn`t been much of a friend to him.” Euan
stopped and wiped the tears from his eyes. Anne had tears running down her
cheeks. Euan`s family was lucky as they had never been exposed to those
diseases. “I`ve never had to watch my children die from sickness and I pray
Alex that you`ll never have to either.”
Euan sat and watched
the fire for a bit, trying to remember what parts of the story he had yet to
say. Just as he was about to begin, Euan`s other son Arthur arrived. “Sorry
father, some of the sheep fled into the woods and I had to chase them” “Ah
that`s a good lad, chasing the sheep, bringing them back. Just as long as you
weren`t chasing the girls”. Everyone laughed.
“Grampie, is that the
end of the story, what about how we came here?” “Now hold on Anne, I`m just
getting started.” He drained his tea cup and then began again.
“One of the more
interesting things that winter of 1744 was what had been happening outside of Nova Scotia. The
soldiers began to tell us of news and stories they had heard over the years and
it helped to make the long nights more bearable. We heard tell that a large
fleet and army had been sent from England and America to try
and capture the city of Cartagena
in the Indies from the Spanish back in 1741.
But the commanders were a bunch of idiots as they had no experience in
attacking a fortress and even the grenades they had were too old, and most
didn`t fire. A lot of the soldiers were Englishmen from New York or New Jersey. They were just militiamen and no
one knew how to be a soldier. All the Spanish soldiers had to do was point
their muskets out the loopholes in their walls and fire away. The city was also
heavily defended with about five different forts and batteries.”
Sgt. Nelson piped up
“Well the first action was actually back in November 1739. Admiral Vernon
attacked Portobelo with a fleet of 6 ships. Now there was a mighty bit of prize
money for those Jack tars. See all the Spanish colonies in the south are just
full of gold and silver. So the government back home decides, right time for us
to expand our empire. So they sends out Lord Cathcart to lead the army and navy
and what`s he up and do but dies! So then all the officers are wondering whose
in command? So Admiral Vernon and General Wentworth then go about trying to
Now like we said the commanders were pretty daft because they let their pride
get in the way.
The first thing they
did was bombard the city for a month. Then the army landed at Boca Chica which
was right below their castle and was covered by bastions and batteries. They
must have faced no less than 100 cannon! Now this is where the whole thing
starts to unravel. Vernon
argured that his ships couldn`t come in shore to give covering fire. Wentworth
was pretty angry at having to try and reduce the forts on his own with just his
artillery. In fact, Vernon
had forced Wentworth to land and begin his stage of the operation. Wentworth
had not planned his assault well and was stuck with not a lot of time to
capture the place. If he stayed too long, the rainy season would come and the
invasion force would soon drop like flies from all the diseases the tropics
will give you.
The Spanish commander
just had to sit back and watch our boys drop from yellow jack, the flux and
since he had not planned well, the army began to run out of supplies. Men
either dropped dead from sickness or from hunger. The soldiers didn`t get their
promise of mountains of gold. More men died in that siege from sickness than
from Spanish fire. Even more died on the ships home. But the most interesting
bit was that an officer had been sent back to London to report that we had captured the
place! I`ve even heard tell there was a medal struck! Funny enough, after the
news arrived in Europe later that summer, we
got ourselves involved in a nice war with the French because our King has
decided to support that Austrian hag on her throne.
“Do you rightly think
that a British Captain would start a war with the Spanish?” asked one of the
men. “Well the silly bugger showed off his pickled ear in Parliament so he must
have done something wrong to make the Don`s want to fight us.”
“You mean there was war in other parts of the
world?” asked Anne. “Oh yes child, England and France and Spain fight
wherever they have colonies. Even worse was the war back in Scotland.
Bonnie Prince Charlie decided that he`d be able to make himself king. But the
days of the Highlanders being able to defeat the English were over.The Highlanders had been able to defeat the
English twice, but the King sent his son the Duke of Cumberland and his army crushed the
Highlanders at Culloden. We didn`t hear about any of that war until we got more
supplies in the spring of 1747.
the Governor was getting mighty fed up with the French up at Louisbourg. He didn`t
like that they had a good trade business, and that they were closer to getting
the fish out on the Grand Banks. There was
also a lot of smuggling of goods to New England
or English goods traded to the French. As well, he didn`t like the fact that he
had to keep sending us soldiers to defend Nova Scotia, so he held a conference
and all the Governors of New England banded together and decided to attack
Louisbourg. As well the French in Quebec
had constantly been sending down war parties of Natives and some Canadians to
raid the New England frontier. All over New Hampshire, and
Massachuttes, the colonial governors had to build Garrison houses, blockhouses,
stockades and small forts to protect the settlers. The Garrison houses were
regular houses but had thick walls and musket loopholes in them. It was getting
very expensive to keep building these places.
Even in Newfoundland, the
British had to keep building forts and other defenses to protect the fishing
harbors. For the British, the best way to defend ourselves has always been to
have a strong Navy, but to hold possessions in the new world, you have to build
palaces for the colonists and settlers to feel safe in time of war.There were several different places that had
to be defended for the fishermen and places to dry their catches. Now actually Newfoundland was
British, but the French were always trying to challenge the control of the
fishery. Since they had Louisbourg, they felt that they could command the whole
North Atlantic fishing banks.
Up in Labrador,
they had built small forts and stations and there was FortCharles,
a post at Rigolet bay, a fort at RedBay and another fort at
Baie-Chateau. The main base for the British was at Placentia which had been French until the end
of the previous war. But the king`s ministers back in England didn`t know how
big Newfoundland really was.A lot of
the best harbors and coves needed some sort of protection. The British had FortWilliam
and FortFrederick around Placentia and some defenses at St. Johns. But an area so
big, it was hard for them to defend all these places. At least here in Nova Scotia, we had 2
settlements but they were so far apart, that even Massacrene complained. Before
the war, the government didn`t even give us a boat to patrol up and down the
coast. It was mad trying to keep this area British.
“Then there was
Louisbourg. Louisbourg was a grand city that the French built up on CapeBreton.
After the French had lost Acadie, they moved to Isle
Royale and began to build a mighty fortress to challenge the
British in Nova Scotia.
It had an excellent harbour which made it both a major fishing base, but also a
Naval station for the French. It became a major seaport because of it`s
location close to the fishing banks, and also it was on the trade routes to New
France and Europe and the West Indies.
It developed into the
main market for codfish which would be then sent along to French colonies in Martinique, Guadeloupe,
Saint-Dominique and off to France.
It could safely hold an entire fishing fleet to ride out storms and was a busy
harbour only behind New York,
Boston and Charleston. Merchant
ships from France,
the West Indies and New
England would bring in besides codfish, molasses, sugar, coffee,
whale oil, lumber, food, pottery, fabrics and furniture. They`d all unload
their goods which would then be sent to other colonies. The quays were filled
with goods, and inside the fortified walls, you would have found storehouses
filled to the brim. There were harbor front inns, and cabarets for sailors to
be entertained in.
But even though it
was a thriving seaport, the climate was terrible. It was worse than at FortAnne
because it was right on the coast. For days and days you would find it covered
in the thickest fog, and it was always cold and damp. Even in the summer, you`d
see the seasons change in the same day.
They called it Isle
Royale. The French soldiers who attacked us at FortAnne
came from there. Now when I was laying in me bed in the winter of 1744, the
French were having problems of their own. It seems that the cunning French
officers had been holding out on their men. A lot of them hadn`t been paid, and
the Swiss soldiers were treated badly by the French officers because they were
not French. So while we were celebrating Christmas, the soldiers of Louisbourg
had their own Christmas cheer by having a mutiny. They just decided that they
wouldn`t be soldiers until they had been paid, fed better and treated fairly.
The officers controlled the soldiers pay but some of the officers had been
stealing the money. The soldiers also wanted more firewood as it was so damm
cold. Of course, we didn`t know that in Annapolis Royal,
we never found out until much later. All that winter we kept thinking that the
French would come back.But after the
Swiss soldiers mutinied, they were sent home and never came back.”
Chapter 11: The
fighing goes to the French.
“So did the war end
then Father” asked Arthur. “Oh no, it was just beginning. In the spring, the Boston merchants bought
themselves their own army to take Louisbourg. I think the General`s name was
William Pepperell. They had their own artillery, and soldiers from Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The only
British help they got was from the Royal Navy. Commodore Warren was looking for some personal glory
and riches. He knew that Louisbourg was a big French Naval station and that
perhaps French treasure ships could bring him some prize money. He had
convinced his Captains that it would be in their interests to help this little
army. I mean, as an Irishman, he could smell out a good chance to increase his
purse. So he brought 3 ships to the party, HMS Supere, Launceston, and Mermaid.
When combined with the supply ships and troop transports, it would be a
powerful navy and fleet. Some of the ships came into Annapolis Royal to pick up
Gorham`s Rangers. I didn`t go with them because I was posted with the 40th
Regiment to guard Annapolis Royal.”
Euan stoked the fire
and stretched himself. He took a big gulp of tea and continued.
“The govenors of the New England colonies were hell bent on taking Louisbourg.
They saw the French city as a threat to their trade, and since it was the most
visible symbol of French might on the eastern seaboard, they felt that the
attacks on their frontiers were as a result of the French wish to make all of
North America French. The governors knew that they couldn`t attack Quebec because it was
too well protected by strong garrisons and they had many friendly native tribes
on their side.
Governor Shirley had
wanted to attack Louisbourg when he had first learned of the French attacks on
us at Annapolis Royal. Not only were the
French harassing us, but there were also French Privateers who would take their
ships and attack English fishermen on the Grand banks. These privateers were
able to roam up and down the coasts without much bother from the English.” “You
mean there were pirates at Louisbourg Grampie” little Anne asked. “No dear,
privateers were sailors who were given a letter to say that they could attack
any ship that wasn`t French. They were only to be used in time of war, but the
French were very sneaky. When the news of the Canso attack reached Boston, many families spoke
of how the French needed to be punished. They first wondered if they could do
it, and then the people began to think of how to do it.
So slowly but surely,
the leaders of Massachusets, Connecticut, and Rhode Island began to raise
troops, built ships and find the supplies to attack Louisbourg. The other
colonies raised money and gave it to this home grown army. Now this army was
not like us in Annapolis Royal. They weren`t
British soldiers, they didn`t wear the red coat, but the coats they had on
their backs. The colonial governments issued blankets and muskets and then
tried to train them for the coming attack. I remember our officers laughed
themselves silly thinking that an army of farmers and fishermen led by shop
keepers and merchants could take a European style fortress from regular French
troops. But of course, no one knew that the garrison had muntinied during the
winter of 1744-45, and that the walls were falling down.
England soldiers were extremely eager and found all sorts of
materials to use in the coming attack. Every village sent what supplies they
could, any extra cannon balls or food was being sent to Boston to the assembling force. But we heard
that not everyone was convinced that Louisbourg would be such a cake walk as
most believed. Benjamin Franklin was heard to say that fortified towns are hard
nuts to crack, when your teeth are not used to it, but so many men believe that
taking Louisbourg will be like taking snuff up the nose.
There were some
veterans in the army. Captain Harmon had a group of snowshoe men who had raided
into the Indian territories and were hard fighters. They were like Gorehams
rangers. They had thirty years of experience fighting Indians on the frontier
and thus with Goreham`s, were the only experienced units who knew the rigors of
campaigning. The Harmon brothers were both old men, but they gave the army
“Father who were the
snowshoe men, I thought Rangers were the only troops to chase the Indians”
Most of them were
volunteers who did military service for their colony of Massachusetts.Since there were few British units in America at the
time, colonies had to raise their own militia and some were almost permament
militiamen. Most of them were adventurers they did patrols and raiding along
their frontier. They saw it as their duty to their king and country and to
protect their fellow neighbors from Indian raids. Sometimes they would also
garrison the small forts or garrison houses, but usually that was left to the
usual militiamen who didn`t have the skills the older men had.
After they had picked
up Gorehams Rangers in Annapolis Royal, the
fleet moved up to Canso to prepare and train for their own war. It must have
been awful for them because Benard told me afterwards what it had been like.”
“Aye Euan I can`t
stand to eat fish anymore”, he told me one night when we were in our barracks
in Annapolis Royal. “The transport ships had
been working boats which had been used in fishing. The wood had become soaked
in the juice and slime off the countless dead fish that had been caught. The
ships were terrible, they stank, the motion of the ocean would make you loose
your dinner overside more times than enough. We were always wet, and our food
The Rangers built a
blockhouse and it was armed with cannons that they had brought with them. If
they didn`t take Louisbourg, they definetly needed a safe place to defend when
the French ships began to cruise down. Plus there were always Mik Maq who would
be more than happy to scalp or kill us. During the first few days, one of the
colonial officers had captured eight Mik Maq who had come to see what all the
fuss was about. A few days later a war party came back to seek revenge and
ambushed a small wood cutting party. As these new soldiers forgot to bring
their muskets, the Mik Maq decided to take them up to Louisbourg. When they had
stopped for a rest, the New England soldiers
became brave and turned the tables on the war party. They struck them about and
grabbed the muskets the Indians and French had, firing at those who ran away.
These new soldiers brought back to Canso two Frenchmen and the Rangers went out
to see what they could do. They found one dead and found a canoe they had come
down in with a bottle of rum in it.
Now that they had
seen some action, the New England boys felt
they could begin to make the French pay back for all the raids their families
had been suffering. A small group crossed the water onto Isle
Royale and attacked St.
Peters. They burnt the village, and captured a sloop
which was added to the armada. They had left quickly because there had been
more French and Mik Maq around then they were comfortable with. So a week
later, they sent two ships and seventy men to destroy the place for good.
Finally in April this army would begin their own war on the biggest French fort
Chapter 12 The war
goes to Louisbourg.
They attacked the city for a month starting in
May. The French soldiers who had attacked us, were then to suffer what we had.
Now the area around Louisbourg is all forest and bogs. The beaches are really
rough so it wasn`t easy for the army to land. A lot of the soldiers were used
to row the boats inshore were fishermen who did this everyday as part of their
job. When the New England army landed, the
French hadn`t made any defenses on the beaches, they thought the woods would be
enough of a barrier. But seeing as a lot of the soldiers were used to hard work
in the forests of their homes, they just went at the work as though they were
preparing for spring planting. The cannons that were to be used to fire on the
city couldn`t be moved through the woods or boggs easily, so they made sleds
for them and the men pulled the sleds over.
So there this army
sat and began to bomb Louisbourg. The Royal Navy ships couldn`t come into the
harbor because of the defenses the French had. So first, the Royal Battery had
to be taken. At first, a small party under Colonel Vaughan went out to go and
see how many soldiers were inside serving the guns. On the way, they had been
burning any French store houses they could find. It was a grand looking place
with walls of stone, two towers on each end, and there were twenty-eight
forty-two pounder guns mounted and pointed at the mouth of the harbor. But what
surprised this little group more was that the French had just left it! They had
spiked their guns but they didn`t do anything to the gun carriages! The French
had even left behind food and ammunition! So all the New Englanders had to do
was turn the guns about to point at the city and begin to fire.
battery had to be taken but the French had learned their lesson about just
running away. Colonel Nobel and Capt. Goreham led an attack by boat to try and
take the battery. They tried attacking by night, but the French had been
closely watching the water behind them. When Goreham`s and Nobel`s troops
landed on the island, the French fired everything they could at them. I heard
from Benard that it was a nightmare. Those who could quickly got back into
their boats and rowed to safety. Nobel and Goreham had been able to pull most
of their troops away, but 200 of their men now lay dead on the beach. Goreham
had had enough of assaults and led a party up onto Lighthouse point. Finding
this to be a better place, they then moved cannons there and fired on both the
island and the city. After a month of siege, the French Governor Duchambon
surrendered. When they gave up, Pepperell sent them back to France and some to Boston. Then the
Americans made Louisbourg their home.”
“So that finished the war then?”asked his granddaughter.“No Anne, it kept going on.
“As I said before,
the French were always raiding New England.
There was one fort in northern Massachuttes that was attacked about 3 times. It
wasn`t safe to have a farm on the frontier.
While we were left in
Annapolis Royal, the French had sent more
Indians to attack us. It was funny because all I could think of was, right it`s
spring, time to fight again.
This time I was
chopping firewood inside the fort with several other soldiers when we heard muskets
fire. We got so used to the approaching sound of musket fire that we always
stopped what we were doing to check if it wasn`t one of the officers out
Then I saw one of the
privates clutching his throat, blood was pouring out of his hands like he was
spilling a wineskin all over himself.I
saw him falling down the wall and then I ran to get my drum to beat out to arms
again. I couldn`t believe it! We had just sent soldiers to attack Louisbourg
and here there were Mik Maq`s attacking us again!
“Bloody hell Euan,
did all the soldiers who went to Louisbourg die?” wondered Gordon.
“Jesus I don`t know,
what do they think they are doing by attacking us again.” The officers were
aghast as well. Lt. Scott was mad with rage. “You bloody murdering buggers, you
want some more steel, taste it!” “40th Regiment load double rounds.
If they keep coming, we`ll give them a bayonet charge!” So up the soldiers went
onto the parapet and as one on the command “Fire” A great wall of fire and lead
cut a swath through the ranks of the Canadian and Mik Maq attackers. I thought
they were pretty stupid to try and rush our walls every time without artillery
But this attack lasted only about two weeks
because they left quickly when they found out that Louisbourg was being
attacked. This attack was made up of Canadian militia and French troops from Quebec and Louisbourg.
It was pretty big too. There were about 300 French soldiers who came down to
attack us. But the biggest mistake that they always made was that the Acadians
would come and help them. When I talked with Madeline, she told me the same
thing over and over, “We just want to live in peace and trade with each group.
The French always tell us to help them fight, the English always ask us to join
“The other mistake they always made was that
they never had cannons with them. It was as though they thought if they sent a
lot of soldiers at us, we`d give up. So they`d run at our walls, we`d fire at
them, they`d fire at us, some of us died, some of them died. I couldn`t see
what was the point of these French men trying to capture our home if they
didn`t have cannons.Then one morning, I
spotted a canoe heading for the French camp. I shouted for the nearest officer
and Lt. How came over. Through his telescope, he could see much activity and
movement in the camp. He summoned Private Benard to go and scout out what was
happening. As he listened, Benard heard that the New
Englandarmy was attacking
Louisbourg and they had to flee back to save their city.
As they ran for home,
a ship near Canso found them and fired back at them. I heard tell later that
the Mik Maq had decided to try and capture the boat by rowing out to it in
their canoes. The French were trapped between Isle Royale
and Nova Scotia
by the straight of Canso. The only boats they had were some sent from
Louisbourg and canoes the Mik Maq had. The Tartar from Rhode Island used their cannons to blast
them away.The sailors later bragged it
was like a turkey shoot. Even if they had made it through to Louisbourg, the
city was ours then. The New Englanders even tried to attack Saint John`s Island
but the French there held out and by that time, the Americans had lost their
taste for fighting. But afterwards, the French fled to Quebec for their safety.
By now, the fall and
winter had begun to settle in. And once again, it was a time of fighting off
boredom or sickness. Our celebrations were not so much that year because we had
had so many attacks that we had no time to just enjoy life, but to try and
The previous winter
we had lots of time to prepare but since we had been fighting and repairing the
fort, it was late in the season before we began to prepare ourselves for a land
of ice and snow. My mittens were worn in places and our socks had holes in
them. This presented a problem I had not experienced the year before. My
fingers and toes were getting nipped by the frost, and if I was not careful I
could get frostbite! I quickly learned how to darn my stockings and mittens to
save myself the pain of the cold.
The previous winter I
had made my father a chess set. But I didn`t make one for myself. Instead,
Gordon and I made a checkers set from Corn cobs and we painted them. Both of us
spent our nights off playing the game by lantern light. Another game we played
a lot was Nine man Morris, another board game where we had to make a line of 3
stones and try to take out the other pieces. We also played with a Bilbo
catcher, which was a ball connected to a stick by a string.”
“I know that one
Grampie” Anne exclaimed. “I`m pretty good at catching it. I`m better at it than
Now back in France, the
King had gotten really mad that he had lost his city, so he sent out a large
fleet to try and attack us again and to take back Louisbourg, but he should
have sent for a better general and Admirals. See, Duc D`Anville had really bad
luck. His fleet had many storms, a lot of his soldiers got sick and when they
found Nova Scotia,
they had no energy left to try and attack. I even remember hearing that the
Duke died and his second in command took his pistol out and shot himself!
We only knew about the Duc`s adventure because
the French Governor in New France sent down a large army to attack us. They
went down as far as Truro, Nova Scotia and were gathering up Mik Maq
from Stewiacke and Shubenacadie. They just stayed up there that summer and we
stayed where we were. It was a quiet but tense summer. Well, old Governor
Shirley wasn`t too happy to hear that the French were up there, so he sent
orders to us to go and try and stop them. They were also causing us problems up
in Chignecto as well.
What I didn`t know at
the time was that Governor Shirley in Boston
dispatched a regiment of five hundred men to assist in the defense of Nova Scotia. This force
was led by Colonel Arthur Nobel. Nobel`s task was to march his troops and
occupy the Minas area basing himself at Grand Pre. He was to build a fort in
the town and make it known to all that this was English territory, and to help
stop French raiders from Louisbourg and New France
using the area to resupply. From here, they would then launch operations to
clear out the French from Chignecto.
“So my father`s
company along with soldiers from Boston went with Colonel Arthur Noble to Grand
Pre. Now Col. Nobel was an officer in a Massachuttes Regiment and had built
some forts and garrison houses in his home colony. He had even helped command
the New England army that attacked and
captured Louisbourg. Col. Nobel and Capt. Goreham had led the assault on the
Island Battery but they failed in that the French defenders cut them down with
musket and grape shot. When Col. Massacrene called for help to the Governor in Boston, he sent Nobel to
help us as this officer had a lot of experience in defending the frontier.We set out in January 1747.Travelling through
the AnnapolisValley in winter wasn`t that easy. So
Nobel was able to secure Capt. Goreham`s boats so that we could sail up the Bay
of Fundy. Since we were sailing in rough weather, we couldn`t cook our food, so
we just had cold tea, biscuits and dried caribou and moose meat.
It was cold but we made good time up to Grand Pre. Now I had remembered from Madeline that the
Acadians would be nice to us. So we stayed in their homes, and shared food. At
first they didn`t seem to be too happy about us there, but they really didn`t
have much of a choice because we were armed and they weren`t. We took over 20
houses which looked over the marshlands and Col. Nobel took a large stone
building as his headquarters. The Acadians in the town told us that the French
were at least 150 miles away so we felt safe. The ground was frozen and there
was so much snow that the officers chose not to build the blockhouses we had in
the ships off the town. There was some artillery but it was placed inside the
stone house. So thinking we were safe and were nicely settled into staying
there for the winter. We had been there for 2 weeks and then it happened.”
Chapter 13: The night
Euan grew silent and got up from his chair and
walked around the yard.
“Grampie are you ok”
“Euan, dear you don`t have to tell them, it`s alright” “No Emily, it`s part of
the story, and they should know”
“On the night of
February 12, we were sleeping in the Acadian houses, now it had been snowing
pretty heavy that night, so Noble decided that we were safe and didn`t put out
any sentries. But about ,
I had to go pee, so I got dressed and walked outside because I didn`t know how
to ask for a chamber pot. When I got outside, it was snowing so hard that you
couldn`t see very far. And as I was standing there making water, I got the same
bad feeling I had had on my first forest patrol 3 years before. So I crouched
down next to the cabin and tried to see out into the blizzard.
Then I saw them coming.
50 Mik Maq warriors and 300 French soldiers swooped in on us. They had been
able to sneak into the village during the night, muffled by the snowstorm and
also by the Melancon family was celebrating a wedding. Villiers told the family
to keep celebrating to keep the English occupied. They waited until they knew
that most of us would be asleep.
One of the soldiers
in our house came out I guess to do the same as me to but both of us thought we
saw some movement in the snowstorm. ”Who goes there?” he cried out. There was
no answer so the soldier went back inside to get his musket. I watched and
before I could yell out, three French officers rushed the house. They were well
dressed to hide in the snowstorm. Each of them was wearing a wollen blanket coat
tied with a red sash and wearing a wollen cap. Some had the Fleu-de-lis while
others were plain. They also had warm blanket leggings and their equipment was
held tight to their bodies. The soldiers inside saw them coming and 3 of them
fired into the night, one of the French soldiers dropped.
“Turn out” the
soldiers cried, but not before the first raiders made it inside the house. Oh,
what a Charrel house it became. Knives, tomahawks and swords sliced and slashed
at the men who were still in bed, or who had tumbled out, but had been unable
to defend themselves. In 5 minutes, twenty-one men were dead.
I guess they didn`t kill me because I was
still young, but a lot of my friends weren`t so lucky. Most of those poor men
died in their beds.
When the first house
was attacked, the noise of the firing muskets awoke the other houses.Col. Noble got himself up as the French began
to hack down his door with an axe, in his shirt and with sword and pistol in
hand, he rushed at the attackers. Before he got off a shot, he was slashed
twice, the French told him to surrender, “NEVER” he yelled out, so one of the
French Marines aimed his musket at Nobels head, and fired. He instantly fell as
the musket ball smacked into his head and tore out the back. Without stopping,
they stabbed and hacked at anyone who was still alive. Nobel`s son Ensign
Frances Nobel was also in the house and before he could avenge his father`s
death was also shot dead. Lt. How was with them and as he tried to defend
himself, was cut about his left arm. Later on, his arm was amputated.
It was so confusing and scary because it was
like we had been attacked by ghosts. We couldn`t see anything. The fighting
continued all night and into the morning. It was snowing so hard that we
couldn`t tell who were English or French. I was able to run to Lt. Kenny`s
house and took shelter there. We barricaded the door as well as we could. We
could hear women and children screaming, and the wounded were crying out in
fear and pain. The snow muffled the sound of the musket pops, but with each
shot, we knew someone else was getting killed or hurt. We fired back into the
snow, sometimes the French were so close that we could almost touch them with
the muzzles of our muskets. They would fall down and stay there, the blood
turning the snow red.
Finally at dawn, Lindsay put his sword in the
air and we called for a truce. When it was all over, 150 of our soldiers lay
dead, and 25 French also died. I was so scared. I can still hear the soldiers
scream in the night and the Canadian warriors yells. The French commander was
honorable, and let us retreat with the honors of war. That night the surviving
officers dined with the French officers. All of us were amazed as the French
troops had marched for close to a week to attack us. They had marched over the
snow, and had done so with little to eat. To aid us in our shock, the officers
of both sides issued us lots of rum and cider. Both English and French tried to
wash away the horror we had seen with drink. The next day about February 14th,
we formed up and then we went back to Annapolis Royal.
But for me, it was hard to understand how our officers could eat and drink with
men who had been trying to kill them.”
Euan stopped talking
and went up to the chopping block and took the axe and began to chop some wood.
“Father I`ll do that”. Arthur went to take the axe from his father but Euan was
splitting the wood with a fury. After a few moments, he came back. “If only I
had yelled out sooner, I could have saved my friends. The Acadian families we
were with didn`t warn us because they had been threatened as well. I felt
betrayed because we had behaved well to the Acadians. We hadn`t taken advantage
of any of their women and we never stole anything from them. We paid for what
we took and were there to defend our country.Of all the things I have seen and the terrors I have suffered, I can
never forget that night.”
“Lindsay took us back
to the fort and the French went back to Chignecto. Noble was an idiot, we
should have had soldiers outside that night. Lindsay was really bothered by
that. He may have built forts and garrison houses in his colony, be he really
didn`t know how the war was here in Nova
Scotia. Even at the siege of Louisbourg in 1745, he
led that assault on the Island Battery, where most of the men were killed.
So that spring,
Gorehams Ranger`s was made bigger, and they took the war to the enemy. We were
never attacked again at Annapolis Royal. But
for two years we waited for the French and Mik Maq to come back.”
In the spring, the
Rangers went out patrolling up to see if the French or Mik Maq would be coming
back. Even the 40th went out and did patrols. One of these was along
the AnnapolisRiver up to Melanson settlement. I was
happy we could stop there because I could see where Madeline lived. I was very
surprised to learn that her father was the basic head of the village. Lindsay
spoke to him about the current events. Madeline came running out and was
nervous. “Why have you come here Euan, we`ve done nothing wrong.” “Don`t worry
Madeline,” I told her, “we`re patrolling to see if there are any Mik Maq or
French about. I was a little angry when she said they had done nothing wrong
seeing as we had been attacked while in an Acadian village just a few months
earlier. I told her this and she was shocked as were most of the people in the
Her father, Alexandre, spoke at length to
Lindsay that most Acadians had nothing to do with that attack, he blamed it on
the Canadian soldiers who had come from Quebec.
One thing that I did
really notice was the earth walls bordering the river. I asked Madeline what
they were and she told me they were dykes. “We used them to protect our
farmland from the river and we use the tide water to water our fields. We use
the marshland to make more space to grow our crops. Father grows wheat and
barley on our land which we sell or trade to you soldiers in Annapolis
Royal.” I also noticed that they could be used as convient hiding
places for raiding troops. They could hide behind them as we marched along.
Chapter 14, Living
surronded by the enemy.
Once we knew that the
Acadians in the area meant us no harm, we traded with them again and continued
our friendships. Col. Massacrene decided that for our own safety, that we`d
patrol along both banks of the AnnapolisRiver to keep up a
presence in the area. Whenever a patrol was going out, I always volunteered to
go, but I didn`t always get the chance to march away from the fort.
“Did you ever try
walking in the forest again Grampie?” “Of course I did dear, when Grampie
Lindsay and I would go hunting. My first chance to go hunting in the summer of
1747. Our party was made up of Lt. How, Lindsay, Gordon and my self. We were
going hunting for moose or any game that was there. Gordon and I had a blunderbuss
each and the officers were carrying a fowler and a musket.” “What`s a fowler
Daddy?”, Anne whispered to Alex. “It`s a smaller musket than what the soldiers
carried” he said. “So off we went on the north side of the river. We passed
through the farms of the Acadians and walked into the upper lands away from the
river. Our first day out, we were trying to look for moose. So we set up a
small little camp and decided to make an ambush site if one came along.
Each of us took a
corner of our enclosure and looked out into the forest. It was so nice and cosy
there just laying on the ground listening to the forest sounds. Since it was
spring, the black flies were not biting so much. I heard a small rustling in
the brush and I looked out and there was a small wild bird. It looked like a
wild chicken. So I slowly cocked my piece and aimed out. I took a deep breathe
and then pulled the trigger. When the smoke cleared, and after I got a cuff on
the ear for not mentioning what I was doing, I went out and picked up the bird.
But Lindsay noticed something that I had done wrong. “You aimed at the body
right son?” “Yes” I replied, I thought it was better to hit the target in the
centre of the bird. “Well you hit the bird, but you`ll be chewing on pellets as
well as meat. Always aim for the head.” I was still pleased that I had at least
gotten something. As it was, my hunt was successful. I shared the bird with my
party that night as we roasted it over the fire.”
We also went duck and
goose hunting. Now that was an experience. That time it was just my father and
I. We had gone west of Annapolis Royal along
the river to find a nice piece of marsh. We settled ourselves down on a dyke at
Madeline`s farm. We had promised them some of our hunt if we got anything or a
few shillings if not. So there we were, laying upon the bank when a flock of
ducks decided that it was quiet enough to venture in the little cove the river
made. I was tense with excitement trying to contain myself. Finally when the
ducks were about 20 meters, Da and I fired a volley into the body. Most of the
flock took to flight but 6 were left on the water. One duck in it`s death
clamped down on a water plant trying to save itself. As father and I didn`t
have a boat we had to wait for the ducks to float closer to shore.”
“Well after a bit,
Lindsay said “right Euan, in you go, get the ducks”. I replied “are you mad,
that waters cold!” “It`s either wade in and get our catch or see it waste or
eaten by the wolves. Which will it be?” So I stripped off my clothes from my
waist down and in I went, and by jove, that water was cold! It made my skin
feel like I was being stabbed by knives. What was worse was the river bottom.
It was mud but there were sticks and rocks for my unwary feet. I stubbed myself
several times and nearly fell in, but I got all the ducks save for the one who
had clamped himself to the reeds. I quickly dressed and we walked back to
Madeline`s cabin. There her family welcomed us to some hot fricot and bread.
Alexandre was very happy to have a bird to add to his stew pot and Lindsay
spoke to him about life in general.”
“But while we were
hunting and fighting off our own attacks, many English towns were in terror of
attacks from the French war parties and their Native allies. The French
commander Marin who had attacked us went back to Quebec only to lead an attack on New York colony. The
French strategy was to inflict a reign of fear so that the English would not
advance into native lands, which the French wanted for their own empire. They
didn`t want the land per say, but the furs who lived on it. The only victories
for us were Louisbourg, Fort Number 4 in New
Hampshire and our defense of Annapolis
“When the war did end
in 1748, it was very bitter for us. The French had taken a place called Madras in far off India and the
British wanted it back. So they gave Louisbourg to the French in exchange. When
we found out about that, most of the soldiers were grumbling. The New
Englanders who were part of the militia regiments who passed through on the way
up to garrison Louisbourg nearly mutinied, they were so mad. The Boston
Merchants weren`t impressed either. They wanted Louisbourg so that they could
take over the trade. For me, it was the first time in 4 years that I didn`t
have to worry about being killed by the French or the Mik Maq. We thought the
war was over, but it was just on hold. Nothing really changed much in that war.
We still had to worry about the French and Native attacks. The Boston merchants felt they had spent all that
money for nothing. True the government did pay for it and Pepperell was given a
title, but for the poor soldiers like us, we only saw that we`d have to fight
the same people in the same place again. And a few farmers on the frontier felt
a little safer with all those blockhouses, garrison houses and little forts
they had built. But also for the British Government, they had to pay for all
the soldiers, ships, cannons and other supplies in order to make war. The Royal
Navy (bless them) had done well. But in the end, nothing changed over here.
Now, while the war
had been going on in Nova Scotia,
I had been growing up. The fighting between the British and French officially
ended, but the war hadn`t ended with the Mik Maq. They were still angry that we
were here, and their priests kept them riled up to keep fighting. When the war
ended, I was 14. Gordon and I spent a lot of time talking about what we wanted
to do with our lives.
“Gordon, do you want
to be a soldier all your life?” “Well, you know when I was growing up in England, I had
begun to be an apprectence carpenter. But my employer went out of business and
thus I was left with no home, or way of feeding myself. So I joined the army.
But I`ve always wanted to make things with my hands. So I`d like to do
woodworking, you know make tables, chairs. But what about you Euan, what are
you going to do? “Well I haven` given much thought to my future. I suppose that
someday I want to be married and have a family but I guess that I`ll stay a
soldier as long as I can.
The whole expedition
was under the command of Colonel Edward Cornwallis. He was an experienced
British officer having fought in the war in Europe
and later on in Scotland.
He was strict, and while he would do his duty for his superiors, he didn`t like
to be reproached about his conduct. He spent all of his time in Halifax, while issuing
orders to the other garrisons to do their duty. He never once toured Nova Scotia.
In later June, we took Capt. Gorehams boat,
and Capt. Davis` boat Warren
to help deliver supplies and assist the settlers. We had to help the soldiers
and settlers cut down trees, and clear the land. While we were searching the
area, we found where Duc D`Anville`s army had encampment. It was a ghostly
area. We found the graves of some of the soldiers, there were a few pieces of
cooking irons and we could see where they had built a palisade to defend
themselves from a landward attack. But at the time, we had been under siege at FortAnne,
so they didn`t need to. But a good commander always makes sure his soldiers are
protected. Now we had expected the area to be a little more cleared out than it
was, but all except for where the French had been camped, the area was once big
forest right down to the water. The first thing that we had to build was a
wharf in order to off load all the supplies that the military and settlers had.
Then of course we got as many of the civilians and soldiers who weren`t on
guard duty to start to cut down trees, hauling away the stumps and then using
the logs to build houses for everyone, and the defences of the town. One
gentleman was smart and built a sawmill to help speed up the process of
building. Once the town began to get built, store houses for supplies and goods
began to arrive to help build up the town, as well as to supply us with good
food to eat and plenty of rum to drink! The Acadians began to send cows and
sheep to us which they were paid well for.
In July, the British
garrison from Louisbourg was sent down as the French had been given it back.
Once the settlers had homes and had established themselves, those men who were
between ages 16-60 were formed into militia companies. But we still had to do
patrols around the area to keep the Mik Maq away. No one could feel safe
because Le Loutre was making the Mik Maq attack us, but then again, Halifax had
been theirs before we arrived, but since they didn`t live like us, we didn`t
The big problem we
had with the new arrivals was that most of these people had grown up in cities
and towns and had no experience with the hard work that was required of them.
Some of them had come over because they were debt ridden, some came to get
rich, while others who were full of adventure wanted the free land and tools
the government was giving them. Most had never expected that they had to work
so much. But hard work is good for the soul I always say. There were over a
thousand people who had came but only about about three hundred were able or
willing to work. Ah the British officers were so frustrated because they
expected these people to act like soldiers and to do what they were told to do.
The authorities organized the workers into ships companies as though they were
in the navy. It made for a more efficient way of making them work, and for
providing supplies to them.
None of them
understood how to plant crops and the land was too poor even if they had tried.
Most thought that the area was ready for them, they just picked out a plot of
land that had a house on it, with a garden planted and they would just harvest
the crops in the fall. Some of them were thinking that if Halifax wasn`t for them that they would move
to the more southern colonies in New England
They had been told that there were no Indians to fight, that the French were
far away, and the rivers, lakes and woods were teeming with wildlife ready to
be added to their stew pots.
The trade which they
thought they could establish with the Natives or with other colonies was
hampered. The French effectively controlled the Fur trade as the Natives were
allied with them and did their trade in Quebec.
The only annual ships that arrived were the supplies ships for the garrison.
We were lucky enough that along with meat on
the hoof, which the Acadians sent, they also sent us carrots and turnips. The
woods as always provided us with most of our food; rabbits, partridges, wild
pigeons, and geese were plentiful when the seasons were right. Once they had
cut down spruce trees, a brewery was built to make spruce beer to fight off the
horrors of scurvy. Even Molasses began to come in and people began to make
We also built the defenses of Halifax by surrounding the town with a wooden
palisade with block houses at intervals. We also had to dig trenches and make
earthworks for the cannons to defend against an attack by sea. Then we also
built FortSackville to guard the end of HalifaxHarbor and control the Sackville river.
When we finished there, we marched and built a road to Piziquid and built FortEdward
with a blockhouse. The road was wide enough for two carts to pass by, and we
built about five bridges to stay connected to the new capital. The English
garrison from Louisbourg arrived in July. Eventually the 45th
Regiment and the 47th came over from IrelandNova Scotia. The 40th,
45th and 47th all rotated their troops through Ft.Lawerence,
Ft.George in Halifax, Ft.Anne,
and they all had to do patrols. But with so many Mik Maq wanting to attack us,
most of the time, those soldiers had to stay within the walls of their forts.
And whenever these soldiers went out on patrols or woodcutting parties, we had
to accompany them to ensure their safety from the Mik Maq.
All it seemed we did was cut down trees to
make roads, build forts or create new towns.
To build a fort, we
first had to clear the ground of trees. These we cut down and then began to dig
the ditches for the forts walls. The trees were then palaced along the top to
make a palisade. Sometimes, the buildings inside had been prefabricated from
lumber in Halifax.
Ft. Edward`s blockhouse was one such building. The smaller tree branches or
trees became stakes in the ground on the top of the glacis. It usually took us
about 4 months to build a fort, after which a regiment would be posted to. Of
course, each new unit would spend it`s time strengthening the fort to make it
We’d also take small
ships to patrol along the waterways. Since Dunner’s War, it was decided that
the colonial government had to show who actually controlled Nova Scotia.
One of the big
reasons that we patrolled up the rivers and coasts, was the fact that there
were so many vessels on the water. The fishery was and still is a big part of
life here in Nova Scotia.
The waters off the coast had whole fleets of shallops or schooners. Canso was a
main base for the New England fishing fleet
was where a lot of the English fishing boats went. How had a house built there
and he also had some fishing shelves to dry the catch his fishermen would land.
He lost a lot of money when the French raided the town and burnt it. Some say
the shock from it caused his wife to die of heartache. Afterwards, he didn`t
bother to rebuild, but rather he focused on his life in the army.
Canso was where the New England fishermen would land their catch during the
summer to dry it. There were usually several hundred men staying there over the
summer but come the end of the season, they`d sail back to their homes in their
schooners. Sometimes, they`d also make side trips to land their catch at
Louisbourg which while it was a French colony, they would allow trade in food
to be allowed. Sometimes though, other goods would find themselves smuggled
aboard and sold as contraband to the French.
The French were at
Louisbourg because of this huge industry. What we were doing was making sure
that any of the French fishing Goelettte`s or Chaloupe`s were staying in their
own waters. A lot of times, in isolated coves and harbours, close to Isle Royale, we`d find codfish drying on shelves. This
was the dry fishery where the fish had been caught, and then brought ashore to
be dried by the sun and air with a bit of salt added. Now to dry cod, you had
to have a big area of shoreline and enough wood and water to take care of the
process. We didn`t have the authority to go in and destroy them, but to report
back to our officers who would then send letters of protest to the French
authorities in Louisbourg.
So from May to
September, the shallops and schooners would be plying the waters all trying to
catch cod. The little boats only had a crew of three people but another crew of
four would be on shore to gut and cut the fish up for drying. The schooners had
six or eleven crew with another four on shore.We`d sometimes follow some boats to protect them from French privateers
and to get news of if they had seen any French ships in the area.
Sometimes, we`d stop
by a ship that had caught some cod in the green fishery and buy some of their
catch. Those ships caught the fish, and then tossed them in the hold with salt
on top and then for a run back to Europe, or
the colonies to the south.
Codfish was most
important because it would preserve well, and could be transported easily with
little waste of the fish. Sometimes, in place of salted beef, we`d get codfish
instead. It was always nice to get a different food to break the monotony of
our diet. Most seasons, the catch was good and there were many pounds of fish
landed as fresh or dried. Sometimes on long voyages, we`d get a hook with a
line and we`d jig for cod over the side of our boat. Usually about six of us
would be their jigging. We even made a game of it. When I had a turn at
jigging, I caught eight cod! We cleanded them up and dug out a frying pan we
had and made a run ashore. We took some of the potatoes we had and fried them
up, and fried the fish up. It was so tasty.
The Mik Maq had a
habit of attacking English schooners, shallops,and ships looking for trade goods and to scare away new settlers. It was
also to show that the British were here to stay.
“There were still
times that we fought small battles with the Mik Maq. It seems that their
spiritual leader Abbe Le Loutre was always stiring up trouble and getting the
Mik Maq to attack our settlements. Le Loutre was one of the Black Robes the
French would send out to preach to their Native allies. I think he was a
Jesuit, but he was more than just a Priest. He led the Mik Maq in most of their
attacks or he persuaded them to do what he asked. He had sailed from France and went
first to Louisbourg I suppose but eventually he ended up in Stewiacke. He
preached to the Mik Maq that we, the English were the Devils children and must
be driven from the land. All through the war in the 1740`s he directed his Mik
Maq followers to attack any English troops. We even thought that when
Louisbourg was returned to the French, the authorities enlisted Le Loutre as
their agent to increase the pressure on us.
“The area around Chignecto was really bad.
Just after the war ended in 1748, the French built two forts on the Messaguash
river and VerteBay; FortBeausjour
and FortGaspereau. Beausjour was the stronger of
the two.It was a pretty strong place
for being on the frontier. So after Halifax
was founded, Gov. Lawerence ordered that FortLawerence
be built. There had been an Acadian settlement of Beaubassin which the French
had forced the Acadians out and establish their new settlement behind the
forts. When we arrived to build the fort, we found the burnt out ruins of the
houses. We couldn`t understand why the French had done such a thing to people
who were of their own culture.
But all of this was
by plan. The French authorities in Louisbourg had decided that they would go on
an offensive strategy, by using the Mik Maq. Once the French had regained the
fortress, they turned it into a busy sea port again, and with trade and
fishing, it became an important centre again. French trading and fishing
vessels could call on the port for safety and security without fear of being
attacked by an English vessel.
Louisbourg was the
transit point for French trade goods to be sent on to Europe.
But it wasn`t only French vessels, English merchants could also put into port
and trade. Rum from the West Indies found it
way there as well as sugar, coffee, spices and raw materials for making
clothes. French ships would bring in wines, and textiles from France. The
French wanted to keep this trade going and if a war was to begin again, they
would arm and send out privateers to prey on English trading vessels. What was
the worst was that sometimes French privateers would attack a New
England vessel and land it in Louisbourg where a bribe would be
paid and the papers falsified to say where the ship had come from. It just
added more frustration to New Englanders.
Chapter 16: A PRISNOR
even had to go out and screen hay cutting parties. At Canso, Lt. Lindsay`s
section was sent to protect them. Lindsay had been sent from Annapolis
Royal as there were few officers to maintain order and discipline
for all the outposts in Nova Scotia.
Canso was still a position that the 40th would garrison. It must
have been very lonely for my father.
Meanwhile, La Corne,
a French officer from Quebec
had been sent down to Acadia to begin the
French operations in the area. The French authorities decided that sending
Candian militia and warriors to Nova
Scotia wasn`t enough. They had to be hemmed in with a
physical barrier. Bosihbert had been sent ahead with a party of militia and
Indians while La Corne began to build FortBeausjour.
On November 27, 1749,
three hundred Mik Maq and Malcite warriors fell upon the English garrison at
Minas. Lt. Hamilton was captured with eleven of his men and held prisoner. For
a week, Captain Hanfield was held up their little stockade and then left.
Eventually the prisoners were sent up to Quebec
as we had and were ransomed to the British.
In order to gain us
some time, Colonel Corwallis had orders to try and make peace with the Indians
of the area. In July, he sent Captain How on several trips up the Saint John river to meet and greet the Indians there. As
part of a peace deal, he took gifts to impress them. He met with the Malecites
and presented them with corn and wheat for their food for the winter. In
August, a delegation came to Halifax
and were warmly received including a 17 Gun salute. But for all the expense put
into it, they should have pacified the Mik Maq closer to home.
In September, a wood
cutting party on the Dartmouth
side of the harbor had been sent without arms. The general feeling was that
having just given the Indians a good reception, there was no cause for alarm.
The Mik Maq had been waiting in ambush and fired on the party. Four fell dead,
carrying off one man while another made his way back to Halifax. Hearing of the attack, we set out
from FortSackville to find the party.
We found them and
attacked. But what my fellow soldiers did made me sick. After the Indians had
lain down their muskets, two of the rangers went up and took a man each, and
with their tomahawks in each hand, laid the poor buggers across a stump and
chooped their heads off. The third warrior they scalped. “These will make good
proof of a good days work”. “Are you mad” I screamed? When their fellows find
them, it`ll only egg them on to more slaughter.” “What`s it to you Kenny, they
are only Indians”! What made it worse for me was that in the heated frenzy, the
governing council in their wisdom, decided to issue a bounty on the scalps of
Indians brought in or proof that a native warrior had been killed. I wondered
then if the savages they spoke of were themselves rather than the warriors we
had to fight.
While we were getting
ready to advance, Le Corne had already prepared for our arrival.The French had built two forts on the
Messaguash river and VerteBay; FortBeausjour
and FortGaspereau. Beausjour was the stronger of
the two.It was a pretty strong place
for being on the frontier. So after Halifax
was founded, Gov. Lawerence ordered that FortLawerence
be built. There had been an Acadian settlement of Beaubassin which the French
had forced the Acadians out and establish their new settlement behind the
forts. When we arrived to build the fort, we found the burnt out ruins of the
houses. We couldn`t understand why the French had done such a thing to people
who were of their own culture.. War is such a horrible thing. The French didn`t
burn down the village but had the Mik Maq do so from orders from Abbe Le
Loutre. They wanted the area north of theriver to be part of New France but the British Authorities in Halifax and
London believed that Nova Scotia`s border was up to the Resticouche river. This
way, the French could claim that it was French territory and say they were
protecting French people. Never mind that the Acadians had been living a happy
life where they were as had their ancestors before them.”
Le Loutre had marched
into Beaubassin village on Sunday morning with his Mik Maq in tow. After
morning mass, he addressed the crowd of worshippers and gave an impassioned
speech. “My children, you are in land of evil. The Great spirit and the Holy
church desires that you leave this place of hell, and move to where god`s own
soldiers may protect you from the English. If you do not heed my warning, my
warriors will not pause to strike down those who God has chosen to be punished,
and their homes to be burned. I shall also take away your priests and have your
women and children carried away.” His priests were terrified. We only heard
about this later from French soldiers who had strayed into out territory.
When we arrived, Le
Corne had used the dykes as excellent trenches and had placed his colors on the
top. When we arrived, we had no artillery and since our ships couldn`t come
that far up river, there was nothing that we could do. After Captain Cobb sent
his boat up river to see what the situation was, he deemed it safe enough for
the troops to land. The whole force was landed and as we began to march. The
Rangers had to lead the way. It was a bit of a surprise to see two Acadian men
running up to the top of the dyke and planting a white flag on the top. From a
distance, we thought it might have been a flag of truce, but as we got closer,
we saw that the Fleur-de-Lis was on it. This was to be a boundry marker between
New France and Nova Scotia.
Another flag was
waved and by this, Lawrence
knew it to be a parley. So accompanied by Captain Scott, they advanced to meet
the French. As these were officers, a detachment of rangers were sent to guard
the party. I always found the habit and manners of officers to be pompous and
overly acted. But officers were gentlemen and had to follow a code of conduct,
becoming their station in life.
“Bonjour Measour, My
name is the Chevalier la Corne. I am the French commander of his most Catholic
Majesty Louis IXV. This is French territory. Why are you here with your troops?”
La Corne was wearing his finest uniform complete with his Cross of Saint Louis
which he won for his conduct in the attack at Grand Pre
three years before. “My most humblest regards. I am Major Charles Lawerence of
His Majesties 45th Regiment of Foot. I am the commander of British
forces in Nova Scotia
and as such am ordered to inform you that you are infringing on the territory
of our colony. You are hear by ordered to march your troops to French territory
immediately. Your presence here is also in violation of the treaty that we
signed between our two countries ending the last war.”
With a false smile the French officer spoke.
“You are mistaken Major, this is French territory. You can see by our
settlement and fortification that this area has been settled by French
was clearly annoyed but was trying hard not to show it. “Chevalier, your men
burned out a British settlement of Beaubassin, and forcibly removed British
subjects, what say you to that charge?” La Corne feigned surprise. “Mais non, I
did not give the order for this attack. The Mik Maq told me that that village
was part of their territory.” “Sir I must protest” Captain Scott spoke up. “
Mr. La Corne did not order this action then it must have been the actions of
Abbe Le Loutre and his Mik Maq.
With a Gallic shrug,
Le Corne answered, “as you may see Major, I have a strong picketed position in
front of you. I also have Canadian Militia, Acadian Militia, my own troops at
my fort. You are outnumbered sir. I suggest that you retire unless you want to
start a new war between out countries”. Lawrence
was trying to maintain his decorum with much struggle. With a curt nod, he
about faced and we withdrew to our boats. Capt. Scott was seething. As we
withdrew, Gordon and I could start to see the heads of the warriors looking
over the dyke as well as the white faces of the French troops. We were lucky
that day that the war didn`t start then and there.
Seeing as our
position was compromised, Major Lawerence ordered us to return to Pisiquid
where we spent the summer building FortEdward, which was a
useful distraction for so many idle hands. We put up the blockhouse which was
supposed to be built at Chignecto but seeing as we needn`t waste a good deal of
timber. We trained and drilled and practiced our plan of attack should it come
to that whenever we had to meet the French or Mik Maq again.
In September, Major
Lawrence decided once again that we would force the French from Chignecto. This
time, we had even more troops. In August, troop transports from Ireland arrived
bearing the 47th Regiment. I was greatly surprised to hear friendly
Irish voices after so long.With these
additional troops, the commanders believed we now had the numeric superiority
to take on the French, wiether was was declared or not. The army marched from FortSackville
up the road to FortEdward and then boarded
the transports to take us to Chignecto.
Our fleet sailed and
we landed on the shore and we quickly spotted Le Loutre and his Mik Maq still
manning the dykes. This time however, Major Lawerence had taken the precautions
to add artillery and armed sloops to our landing. As our boats came closer to
shore, the firing started. Quick as a sharp, the boat crew answered with the
swivel guns as we tumbled out splashing into the river. I ducked down into the
mud using the boat as cover while I tried to find an officer who needed Gordon
and I to drum. Then I saw a warrior poke his head up to take a shot at the gun
Once the small guns
were landed and could add to the fire, we began to fire and advance. The
regulars were forming up into lines. On the command “Rangers take cover” they
dove and hugged the ground. “King`s forces make ready, present, FIRE” A hundred
muskets all spoke at once to be echoed by the two field guns. With this
weithering fire, Le Loutre and his Mik Maq began to fall back. “King`s forces
will fix bayonets! Charge your bayonets, Charge!” With a loud yelling, the
soldiers ran at the dyke wall clearing out any Mik Maq or Acadians who were
stupid enough to stay and argue with British steel. Once we had secured the
dyke wall, Major Lawrence ordered us to set fire to any of the Acadian
buildings in the area that had not already been burned in the Spring.
Having achieved our
first objective of driving back the French and Indians, we began to quickly
prepare for our own defenses. We chose the high ground to the south of the
Missaguash river and began erecting a picketed fort and during the next few
weeks were added blockhouses and barracks. As the soldiers began to do sentry
duty inside all eyes were on the French fort opposite the marshland. Captain
How was given command of this post and we began to play the game of hurry up
and wait. The good Captain had experience in the area having taken part in a mission
in the area to meet the local Indians the previous year.
War still was not
declared but it was an uneasy standoff. We`d see parties of Mik Maq advance
towards us, but they would always stay just out of musket range. Most of the
time we thought they were just testing our reactions. Early one morning through
the dawning fall gloom, the sentry spotted a party marching towards us. There
was one officers accompanied by either Canadian militia or Mik Mak. The officer
was carrying a flag or truce, so the sentry cried “Corporal of the guard,
The duty corporal
informed the garrison commander Lieutant How of the situation. It was become
almost a daily occurrence to see these actions. The French officers would sent
over wine which the British officer might enjoy and the British officers would
send over some choice food to enliven the table of the French officer`s mess.
To see this party coming was not alarming. During the weeks that followed our
initial landing, it became our daily entertainment.
“AH, perhaps the
French officers have some news for us. Well then Ensign Tulliver, let us see
what the game is today. Corporal, see to it that Drummers Kenny and Jefferson
attend as my escort. Those two boys do have a good eye for smelling out
trouble.” “Yes sir” came the reply. We quickly joined the officers and marched
out the fort`s gate towards the river. Now How was a gifted officer. He has
spent most of his life in Nova Scotia
having first settled in Canso. He was married twice, his first wife dying after
the shock of the Canso raid which led him to financial ruin having lost his
house and fishing boats he had built. His second wife was an Acadian girl he
had married at Annapolis Royal.
I remember How`s bravery as we had been at
Grand Pre together back during that terrible winter`s night. “I wonder if this
parley concerns some of our deserters.” How answered his younger officer. “Why
any soldier would desert in this desolate place, I can`t fathom. There is no
where to go except French territory and I`d be weary to try and annoy the Mik
Maq.” “ Do you have any knowledge of the red men sir?” asked the Ensign. “I
have had the privilege of serving His Majesties government in parley with the
Indians at Saint John
back last year. I`ve been able to pick up a bit of the language and of course
as a gentleman, I can speak French. Though I must admit that my wife has made
sure that I keep my French in good use. Ah I do miss seeing her and our
children. Though having a family in this place would not be wise.” We continued
towards the river, but Gordon and I began to give each other quizzing looks.
“Captain How sir, that officer looks suspicious”. “Drummer Kenny, perhaps the
rigors of living in a small post far from home has taken a shine off him, but
one must respect the uniform.”
“Though I must say,
he is acting a bit odd. What the hell?!” BANG! BANG! BANG!
“Get down men” yelled
Tolliver. Gordon and I dove for cover and I looked over to see if How was still
with us, but then I saw an awful sight. The balls hat hit him square in the
middle and he had fallen with the blood quickly oozing out his body. “Jefferson, get back to the fort for help.” I checked to
see if the Mik Maq were still about by as I stood up I could see that they were
high tailing it back to the French fort.
I ran over to How and
tried to see what I could do for the man. His eyes had already closed, perhaps
he was thinking of his love and their children back in Annapolis
“God`s blood, what
treachery this is” Tolliver yelled. But I knew then, that a good officer had
served his last duty to his king and country. All I could think of was his
children who now had no father and a wife without a husband.”
“But Grampie, why did
the Mik Maq shoot him?” Anne asked. “He was an enemy to them. He was a British
soldier and they didn`t want anymore British soldiers to be in their land. They
knew that they couldn`t kill us all at once, but they could shoot some of us
one by one. Any deserters who had been caught by the French patrols were lucky.
They knew that they would live. If you were captured by the Mik Maq, they might
kill or scalp you. It all depended on what they wanted. If they traded English
prisoners, they could get brandy, or more ammunition or food from the French.
In October, as if to answer the savage way the
rangers had killed the raiding party the year before, another work party was
out but this time they were captured. To sow fear into the settlement, they
scalped one and then threw his body into the harbor.
But if that one
action began to sow fear into the hearts of every man, woman and child in Halifax, then the next
year surely did. On morning in March, new spread through the town that a scene
from hell had decended during the night. We set out and saw such a horrible sight.
I couldn`t believe that what our actions were causing. A little baby was found
lying between his mother and father, all three having been scalped. We found
others who had been bashed in the head and others with their hands cut off.
Worse still were some women who had had their bellies ripped open.
Later in May, a
further night of terror occurred. While FortLawerence
had withstood an attack, the war party simply went down the coast and marched
overland to arrived behind Dartmouth.
The party numbered about a hundred and thirty Mik Maq and Acadians. At , they all rushed the windows of
each cabin and house and began to fire into each building. It was such a calm
night, that they sound of the fighting carried across the water to Halifax. It was said that
the screams of the women and children could be heard above the war whoops. When
the sun rose, there were scores of settlers dead, others died in hospital and
some were missing. We could only guess at what happened to them. No one was
sparred from the horror. Defensive blockhouses had been built, it didn`t
matter. The sentries were stupid enough to distract themselves with cards and
drink. They all paid the price of death. Even the dead weren`t safe. The Mik
Maq would dig up the bodies and scalp them to claim the bounty the French would
Each time an attack
happened, a company of rangers would be formed and sent out to track down any
warriors they came across. But we were fighting a losing battle. This was the
Mik Maq`s home, and they knew all the nooks and crannies of the rivers and
lakes. It was only much later did we discover that the Shubenacadie river
flowed north south and was used as a fast way to move between settlements.
Now Cornwallis, who
was the Governor of Nova Scotia had a plan for colonization. Once Halifax had been
established, he sent about an agent named John Dick to act as an official agent
of the British government. His job was to recruit settlers into Nova Scotia from
Protestant countries in Europe. This was part
of the plan to make Nova Scotia
more English, and to rebalance the population from one that was more
French.In 1752 when the Germans made
their town at Lunenburg, we had to go over and help protect them and build the
blockhouse to defend that town. There were reports that the French were sending
down three hundred Mik Maq to attack the settlement, so our presence was needed
to protect them.
Most of these Germans were not used to the
wilderness that we had, but we were quite clear to them. If they wanted our help
to build the defenses, they had to be willing to do a lot of the work
So everyone and his
dog who could pick up an axe, or shovel would work from first light to last
light. Since most of the time was spent building, not much food was planted
that year. Thus, they had to survive off of supplies sent from Halifax. They had established a small village
known as DutchVillage but the majority were then sent
down to the new town of Lunenburg. The most abundant food that could be easily
found was fish, so after getting boats, the German men would go out and fish,
then bring their catches on the land to dry, much like all the other fishermen
were doing on this side of the world.
Now while the
authorities in Halifax
were pleased, some of the settlers were beginning to become annoyed. One fellow
by the name of Hoffman decided that he had had enough of the problems they
faced and decided to do something about it. Hoffman was angry at the treatment
he and his fellow Germans had received from the British. There were many
language problems, no one spoke German and many believed the Germans to be
unable to do what was required. They had been promised many things but they had
not materialized into meaningful responses. Rumors had spread amoung the new
settlers about famine, and the ever present danger of a massacre by the
Indians! One settler, Jean Pettrequin was thought to have written a letter to
authorities back in England
that the British were hording supplies and denying the settlers their just due.
It was felt that corruption was behind the mismanagement and that no one was
doing anything about it.
It all came to a head
one day when a mob of men went looking for Pettrequin and decided to give him a
tuning up. They wanted the proof of this letter and decided to give him some
attention. The local magistrates heard of this and rushed to his aid. But the
mob was not so easily intimidated. They finally took Pettrequin and threw him
into one of the blockhouse and locked him in. Fearing for his life, he said
that he had given the letter to Zouberbuhler, the justice of the peace. So the
mob let him out and then proceeded to go after Zouberbuhler. The local garrison
commander Captain Sutherland grabbed Zouberhuhler and took his detachment and
occupied one of the blockhouses. Before he shut himself in, Sutherland sent of
a runner to Halifax
to gain assistance. About a week later, two ships with troops led by Colonel
Monckton arrived. When Monckton landed he was in a right state. “Kings forces
fix bayonets! Charge your bayonets”. And with pointed steel, the soldiers
advanced through the town pushing back the mob who had been creating the
When Monckton arrived
at Sutherland`s blockhouse, he gave a rather rousing speech.” To gain the
attention of the crowd, he had his party fire a volley into the air to let them
know who was in charge. “Alright you rascals, what in God`s name are you doing?
Anymore of this nonsense, and my men will be only happy to oblige me and burn
you out and leave you here to starve with your women and children. I want the
men who were stupid enough to call on the wrath of the British army to this
town. To those men who stand before me know, how much time have you wasted
puttering around when there are fields to be sown, trees to be cut and houses
to be built. If you want your supplies for the winter, you must work for them.
Nothing comes for free. My men will stand down once the perpetrators of this
rougish act are handed over.”
Well after each
principal actor was interviewed, it was found that Pettrequin had never seen a
letter but had been told about a letter by John Hoffman. It all boiled down to
the fact that Hoffman had been the justice of the peace but had lost his
position to Pettrequin. It was a case of revenge and Hoffman had decided to
stir up some trouble in order to get back at Pettrequin. Well Monckton didn`t
suffer fools and promptly took Hoffman back in irons to Halifax and imprisoned
him on George`s Island for the better part of two years and a hundred pound
The best part of the
whole action was that it spurned the settlers into working their best. By 1754,
they had been able to plant potatoes, flax which they had brought as seeds from
and had cleared the land for the town plus gardens and farm lands. They had
even used all the trees they had cleared to build up their own barrels as well
as the beginnings of shipbuilding.
By this time the
towns that were now in Nova Scotia
were Annapolis Royal, Windsor which is what Piziquid was recalled,
and Canso as well as FortLawerence.
After the British settled Halifax in 1749, the Mik Maq decided to act
more aggressively and began to scalp settlers. So the British decided to give
money for Mik Maqs who were captured or scalped. At the time, I thought the eye
for an eye way of fighting was stupid. All we were doing was making the Mik Maq
more aggressive. I never once did that. If I had to shoot to defend myself I
did, but I never wanted to decend into being a barbarian. I soon became a good
shot with my musket because I felt that if I killed my enemy with my gun,I wouldn`t have to lower myself to such
ship was attacked while he had a water party ashore. “Major” Cope`s Mik Maq`s
ambushed the party and killed six of the party. When there were about to kill
the seventh, the sailor Casteel speaking in French told them that he had been
forced to serve in the Royal Navy and thus spent the better part of the summer
a prisoner. He eventually ended up in Louisbourg and was then traded back to
the English at Halifax.
Weither on land and sea, no Englishmen or Protestant was safe.
“About this time, I
had gotten some interesting news. Father had met Madeline`s mother who was now
a widow. Her husband had died in the spring after his canoe overturned in one
of the many rivers . She was left without means of support, but Madeline had
heard from me that if you married a British officer, you would be take care of.
Father had been posted back to Annapolis
and had met her when she had come into the town and fort looking to work as a
washer woman for the soldiers. As Da was very lonely and he could speak French
they struck up a friendship and eventually he asked her to marry him. So it was
in the summer of 1751, I was able to take report to Fort Anne for my father`s
wedding. The officers and men of the garrison gave them a wonderful wedding. It
was so nice to see my father so happy. I just hoped that in the future that I
would find a lovely woman to marry.”
“I remember seeing Madeline at the
wedding and we went walking along the river. I asked her, you are a wonderful
girl and I have admired you for many years, and I want to spend many more years
with you. I could be a good husband and take care of you, helping your mother
to take care of your farm. I am asking you, will you be my wife? “Oh Euan, she
said, “ You have been a good friend to me, and I have admired you as well, but
I`m sorry to say that I don`t think I`m ready to marry. I`m still young and I
am afraid that if we married, I would become a widow if you were killed. You
are an English soldier, and I fear that a war will begin again soon.Ask me again when you are not a soldier and
can show me that you can take care of me.” “Alright, I understand. I will ask
you to be my wife, when my enlistment expires next year.”
“Now not all of my memories of that time are
sad, I really enjoyed being in the forest. It`s such a different palace from
the green fields of Ireland. To hear the birds sing, the wind blowing through the
trees, the lonely wolves howling. And watching the moose walk. Of course when I
see moose, it goes into our stew pot doesn`t it Emily?” “Yes, but I do prefer
partridge” “Aye and the fish in the rivers are good too. The Salmon does taste
fine when we smoke it with maple wood.
I never did see such
different parts of land all in one area. The Stewiacke and Shubenacadie rivers
are at places liquid mud. The river banks are all one big brown ribbon. And I
was always amazed at where the Acadians had settled. Most of the settlements
were near the rivers but Hebert was far inland than I would have thought.
It was at the
junction of the Stewiacke and Shubenacadie rivers but most of the other
settlements were on the coast.Cobequid
was their closest neighbors as well as the Mik Maq in their village at
Shubenacadie. Sailing up those rivers we saw all manner of wildlife. Moose and
Caribou abounded, ducks, and geese flew over, and we even saw majestic eagles
along the Shubenacadie. A lot of our patrols meant that we were also mapping
the rivers so that we would know where to go and also to find places that
English settlers could go.
But now Anne, it`s getting late, we should
head to bed.”
“Ah Grampie I want to hear more”. “Now Anne,
your grandfather must be tired, let`s crawl into bed now.” “Alright father,
goodnight Nannie and Grampie. Can you tell me some more tomorrow.?” Of course
my dear, but you must go to sleep now. See you in the morning.” And with that,
Euan got up from his chair, stoked the fire, changed into his nightgown and
night cap and with his wife went to bed, for a sleep that an old man can enjoy.
(40, 375 words as of July 20, 2011)
This is my first
attempt at writing a book. I have always loved history and reading. My main
inspiration for this story came from my own studies as a student in junior high
school where my father Robert L. Redden breathed a passion for history into his
classroom. I have also been a military re-enactor since 1984 and a lot of the
experiences Euan faced is what I have done in my reenacting career. The idea to
write this story began to fill my mind while I was an English teacher in Japan in the
summer of 2007. I had written historical fiction stories when I was in Junior
High school but I never developed them past writing for myself. Twenty years
later, I decided to start again, but with a new perspective. I have been an
avid fan of Julian Stockwin`s Kydd
series which gave me further inspiration to write. To Mr. Stockwin, thank you
for writing such good books, and for breathing life into an era of history that
eclips my own.
My idea for this
story and the stories to follow are to give to my readers both from Junior high
up to adults is to impart a look into the world that exhisted in Canada 260
years ago. Sure we can read the history books, but to read a novel which has a
main character the same age as you tends to interest you. The CBC made an
excellent series Canada: A people`s
history, which I was able to see parts of while home from teaching English
in Asia. A lot of my research materials have been accessed through the internet
of which The Canadian Military Heritage
Gateway has been a great asset. As well, Peter Laundry has a wonderful site
Bluepete which chronicles the History of Nova Scotia, and to him I
also owe a big thank you.
My friends in the
reenactment hobby have given me inspiration for the characters and events which
unfold in the story. My hope is to continue Euan through the major conflicts
which not only would have occurred in his life time but also in the colonial
era of Nova Scotia`s history.
One thing I would
like to stress is that War is bad. As I am writing this book, Canada is
fighting in Afganistan, and thus, Canadian children are aware of the dangers
and sorrows of what war can bring. During the 18th century, war was
not in a far off place but right in your own backyard! The superpowers of that
fought wars in their colonies for their own gain, and not necessarily for the
gain of their colonists. As well, cultural groups, mainly the Amerindians of
North America were to pay an awful price for what happened to their land. There
are aspects of the fighting which have become controversial, and are used as
examples of racism and hatred. I would say that yes, the British and French did
do bad things, but in War, humans become animals in their fighting. The idea
that war was more polite in the 18th century is a myth. While there
are examples of chivalry, there are more examples of themes that we hear on our
own TV`s or read on the internet. Genocide, famine, war, disease, ethnic
cleansing, and human rights abuses. These are not new ideas, but perhaps new
vocabulary to our language to put a more truthful face on them.
Euan is as much a
victim as a player in this story. He was forced to leave his home by
geo-political and economical reasons that he would never have understood. The
only understanding he had was sitting on a cold wet moor watching sheep, with
an empty belly.
History is just that.
History. What we learn from it, I hope will maybe make us think of what we do
today, and how we can make sure that our mistakes in the past are not repeated.
Finally, I must thank
my wonderful wife Emi, who not only encouraged me to write this story, but who
has given our family five children to add to both our family trees. Hopefully,
one day you will be able to read these stories and understand more the culture
you embraced with me. To my children Tomoki, Kazuma, Arisa, Ian and Leena, I
hope that this has made you proud, and that you have learned more about you
other countries past.
like to dedicate this book to all of the men and women who became English as
Second Language teachers. A lot of my collegues hail from Atlantic Canada, and
a lot of what Euan experiences in cultural differences, both positive and
negative, you yourselves have no doubt experienced. Weither you worked for one
year or ten, all of you have helped to enrich the world with your positive
energy, and your work as cultural ambassadors from your own homes. Never give
up, and know that you are remembered.