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 Ranger
This is the second story I have begun. Again, it's a work in progress.
EUAN THE RANGER.
By Rod Redden
It was a cold morning as the old man woke up. It was the kind of
cold which told you that you were glad to wake up. A snowfall had happened in
the night, which wasn`t all that unusual for October in Nova Scotia. The old man`s family slept
quietly and he quietly walked to the hearth. Taking the flint and steel on the
mantleplace, he began to strike for a spark. It was so dark, and the cold was
numbing his mind. Euan stood there trying to start a fire, but forgetting to
take a piece of charcloth with which to light a fire.
As he stumbled
about the cabin, his young granddaughter came up to him. “Grampie, your hands
are all cold, I`ll strike the spark and you can get a flame going.”
“Well now, I guess
that`s as good an idea as any. You help your old grandfather to light the fire
and we`ll have a spot of tea and porridge shall we? Now if I can also light
this lantern here we can see what we are doing a bit more. “Can we also make
bannock Grampie? I like how you make it.” Well sure but we`ve got to get a fire
Anne sat huddled
in front of the fire trying to catch any warmth that came from it. She had
helped her grandfather lay small pieces of birchbark and kindling to get it
going. As they sat waiting for the kettle to boil, he began to tell her a new
Euan pulled a blanket closer to his body and began. Now where did I
leave you off last night little one?” Anne looked up and rubbed some sleep from
her eye. You were saying something about going for a moosehunt with great
grampie Lindsay.” The old man smiled. Ah yes, but I should remind you of what I
was doing then.
I stayed with
Phillip`s Regiment until they became the 40th Regiment of Foot in
1751. But seeing as I saw how the war was fought, I decided that if I could
carry a musket, I wanted to not wear a redcoat and be an easy target. So, when
Capt. Goreham began to recruit for new soldiers, I traded my redcoat for a grey
one. I was only 16 but Goreham let me stay as militia soldiers could join at
the same age. I had a little experience with hunting with Lindsay and Gordon,
so when I enlisted in the rangers, Gordon followed me. Lindsay though, decided
that as he was getting older that being an officer in the garrison was the best
place for him.”
Learning to be a
ranger was a lot different from how we were trained in the regular army. For
one thing, our uniforms were much different. Instead of wearing Redcoats, we
were issued with a grey wool coat, but we kept our waistcoats, as long as our
grey coats covered them. We had the choice of wearing a blue Scottish style
bonnet, or a black cap. Since Gordon was English, he chose the black cap. I
decided to follow my Irish ancestors and wore the bonnet. It was a sky blue and
over time, it would darken up through many years of use. Gordon and I also
traded our red breeches to buffed linen and we were given a powder horn, a
cartridge box, a tomahawk, and if we wanted to, we could add a knife ourselves,
but we would have to pay for it. We retained our old haversacks and we traded
our white leggings for brown or black ones. We went from looking like soldiers
of the king to little more than highwaymen or rouges.
Benard taught us
all we needed to know about our new unit. Both of us were clever and that we
were told was the greatest asset of a ranger. “For you boys, to think makes you
apart from the redcoats. You have to know how to read the forest for signs that
the enemy has been there. Forget standing and fighting in lines, you have to
act together and use the land to protect yourselves. You need to know how to
make a camp with just your tomahawk and your blanket to protect you. You also
need to know that once you make that camp that you build simple defenses for
it. If rangers are ambushed, there isn`t much point of us being here”.
“So if the war
had ended father, what did you do then?” “Well, as Rangers, Gordon and I had a
lot of work to do. The government in London
decided that they were serious about Nova
Scotia and wanted a strong hold to rival Louisbourg.
So Halifax was
founded in 1749. Chebucto was chosen over Annapolis Royal
or Canso because the harbour was so huge! Canso was only good for fishing, and Annapolis was too far
away from the Atlantic Ocean, and too far from
Louisbourg. Goreham`s Rangers and the Grenadiers of the 40th set out
through the forest to secure Chebucto harbour so that the settlers would be
Most of our time
was spent patrolling the forests and protecting woodcutting parties. There was
one patrol that went from Canso to cut hay for the settlements animals. The
farmers and Rangers didn`t return. It was only afterwards that we had found out
what had happened to our comrades. The Mik Maq took the rangers to Louisbourg
to get a reward for capturing the men. However, since war was not declared, the
French authorities would not take them. The Mik Maq, angry that they had not
been given any reward for capturing the rangers, simply took them back to their
camp, and systematically torutured them in revenge for the white man
encroaching on their land. They had no problems with the French because they
would trade with them. The English only wanted to take the land and make farms.
The Jesuit priest, Abbe Le Loutre made sure the Mik Maq understood that a new
war was coming and that they would need to fight them off again. So, a trail of
fear was to be made to all non-French settlements in Nova Scotia.
Of course we also patrolled, both on land and sea. Capt. Goreham had bought 2
boats for us to use to patrol the rivers and the Minas
Basin along with the Bay of Fundy.
I grew to be a strong man from all the work we had to do. I didn`t think that I
would learn how to be a sailor while a ranger, but that was the fun part of
being one. I had to learn how to help rig the ship for sailing and more
importantly, how to operate the swivel guns”
cannon is different from loading a musket. First of all, it`s much bigger and
they can be more dangerous. We spent about a week learning how to go through
the loading and firing drill. The first thing we had to do was to search the
barrel for anything inside that shouldn`t be there. Then we loaded a cloth bag
which was the gun powder cartridge. While one ranger placed his thumb over the
touch hole with his thumb covered with a little glove, another ranger would
insert the powder charge, and then the main charge; a round shot, grape, or
chain shot depending on what our target was. Both the powder and shot were
rammed home with a wooden rammer. At first we got fearsome scholdings by the corporal
as if we made a mistake, it would mean that the gun could explode and kill us,
or it wouldn`t fire properly. But finally we were able to load and fire the
small gun with ease.
“Now while the
regular troops of both the French and British stayed in their forts for the
most part, it was the illregulars like us who kept up the low fight. With the
two boats we patrolled up the Shubenacadie and Stewiacke rivers. For a
landlubber like myself the first time we hit the water I think I was more
scared than during the attacks on FortAnne. The tides were so
huge! One moment it would be nothing but mud flats, the next a wall of water
would come crashing from the coast. Plus the winds would come up quickly and a
calm area of water would soon see large waves coming over the gunwhales of the
On our first trip up into the Minas Basin, we spotted a structure on the water. It was
a series of poles which were sunk into the sea bed. Puzzled, we asked our
officer what it was. “Aye lads, that`s a Mik Maq fishing weir. Just like the
ones the Welsh people use back home. If it was low tide, you`d see that each
post is woven together that makes a fence in the water. The fish swim in but
can`t get back out. When the tide goes out, they just hop in their canoes and
paddle out and scoop up the fish on the bottom.
We`d even find
them up the Stewiacke and Shubenacadie rivers. There, they were stretched them
across the river which really bothered us because they became a navigation
hazard. A few times, we broke through them so we could continue, but this
wasn`t such a good idea because then we`d have a bunch of vengeful warriors who
would try and attack us.It was like a
big game of cat and mouse. Once a party of eleven rangers had gone out on a
patrol and we never saw them again. We never knew what happened to them. On
another time, Benard`s group led an attack on a Mik Maq village and 25 scalps
came back. I didn`t like that business myself. It`s bad enough to have to kill
someone when you are a soldier, but to harm a body once they have been killed
is something I didn`t like to do.” Then afterwards, we`d then burn out the
camps, and destroy any food that they might have. If we couldn`t carry it
ourselves, we`d destroy it. Making war on men, women and children was something
that I also didn`t like to do, but if we didn`t want to fight in the future, we
had to defeat them in some way. But this is something that I have always asked
for God`s forgiveness for.
The rangers had
gone out early in the morning just after sunrise to help the farmers cut the
hay. It meant that they had to form a skirmish line on the edge of the
forest.The Mik Maq and the French had
been watching all the settlements to see what was happening. The rangers sat
there watching the gloomy woods for any signs of the enemy. . And once more,
the muskets barked out only this time, the Mik Maq felt a little bolder and ran
out of the woods. They had orders not to kill, but decided that they would try
and capture some British soldiers. The Rangers were willing to keep on
fighting. They began to make a fighting withdrawl to the fort in the town when
the farmers up and ran as fast as they could. Without any covering fire from
the fort`s defenses, the rangers were quickly surrounded.” All we found of them
were the tracks and cartridge papers some of the rangers had used. We found the
bodies of the civilians. They had been stripped and scalped. There was no sign
of the rangers. We could only hope that they died quickly and were carried off.
But war is not a fairy tale world.
So in the
spring, Capt. Gorham was given orders to advance us up to Minas and find some
of the Acadians who had taken part in the raid back in the fall. Gordon and I
went up and the first thing we were ordered to do was to build a blockhouse for
our defense. We had spent the winter at FortSackville
and we marched down the road we built. We spent two days on the road which was
pretty fast considering that it was March. When we hit the St.
Croix River, we all got that feeling again.
The woods still
had snow about and the river was partly frozen over. There were little channels
for water that had carved themselves through the snow. We could see tracks of
small animals that had been going down to get a drink from the water. Now in
the winter it`s pretty quiet, but come up to spring, you`d get some animals
about looking for food. But on this morning, the only thing we could hear was
the sound of the river splashing it`s way through the trees. We came up to the
sawmill and two houses that made up the only settlement in the area. As we went
to cross the river, the Mik Maq began to holler and shout and muskets began to
fire at any smoke you see” came the command. Gordon and I found a nice piece of
river bank to hide behind. We decided to act together so while I fired, Gordon
waited until I got down and then he fired. “Take that you dog lovers” Gordon
shouted. So there we were, bang bang, bang, bang. The other rangers were doing
the same. We`d all group together in pairs and fire from any cover we could
find. We kept it up until Gorham yelled out “back to the sawmill men.” So it
was Retire and fire. Gordon and I fired, running back to the next pair who
fired. We had already begun to load as we had run back so that we could keep up
a continous fire. “Fire and retire” was our order. Only a few of the men fell,
the rest of us made it into the buildings.
“Right boys, we`ll be fine inside here. So we
settled in and listened to the yelps of the warriors and taunts from the
Canadian militia. The worst part was trying to go out to relieve yourself.
Anyone of us even poked our heads out the door or a window was answered by
about five shots. Gordon was always chipper. “Well look at it this way lads,
we`re inside warm and dry while those buggers outside have to squat in the
snow. Unless they get some torches, we`ve nothing to fear.” We all laughed
until one of the militia must have read Gordon`s mind and made to rush at us
with a blazing torch. “I don`t think so Jean” as I looked out and fired at a
figure running at our window. The musket ball hit him square in the chest and
he went down. His torch mearly hissed when it hit the snowy ground.“I need a runner to go back to FortSackville
to sound the alarm” Goreham called. One brave man volunteered, and it was a
good choice. That man must have spouted angel wings for he made the trip in
morning, about dawn, the French and Indians began to put up a withering fire
towards us. “Euan, it`s hailing musket balls” yelled Gordon. “Aye, but they
sound more like a bad boran player myself” I answered. Then a large fusillade
and two mighty barks sounded in response. “Damm but they have artillery” I
heard one man yell out. “Gorehams prepare to fire and advance, that`s our
rescue!” we heard the Captain yell. It was like watching a strong rain wash the
snow off the land. The Mik Maq and Canadians melted back into the woods. We
then resumed our march to Minas with the bonus of more men and artillery. We
all looked forward to a hot mug of tea and with luck it would be laced with a
good tot of rum.
Well, in April
of 1750, Major Lawrence was ordered to advance on Chignecto to drive off the
French who had taken up positions there. His orders were to destroy the French
fort and force them to retreat. It was a large expedition using most of all the
resources the British army and Royal Navy had in Nova Scotia at the time. Gorham`s Rangers
were tasked with helping scout out the advance while Lt. How, though only an
army officer was tasked with using his two boats. Captain Cobb was also tasked
with providing his boats as well.
We advanced up the same road that we had just
fought on, but he was an alert commander and took nothing to chance. We made
good time marching through the flatlands past the St.
Croix river and were able to ford and canoe the rivers until we
met up with Capt. Handfield in his picketed fort and blockhouse at Minas. The
Royal Navy sailed around Nova Scotia
to meet up with the army to then transport us over the Minas
Basin to Chignecto.
In order to
secure our rear area, Major Lawrence instructed us to search the Acadian homes
and to confinscate any muskets we came across. This was good as some of us had
worn out our old ones and we were in a fix as to getting new arms. But we
didn`t steal them. We promised and paid the Acadians for their arms. For an
Acadian, the musket was a farming tool, an essential piece of property to use
for hunting, driving off pesky crows and varmints who would sneak in and eat at
their crops. As well, they were afraid that once issued with British muskets,
that they would then have to be mobilized as militia for the British. What
didn`t make sense to me was if they accepted French muskets, why were they not
worried the French would want them for their militia?
I remember that spring well. Looking back all these years, it was
like a calm before a great storm that hit us. I had seen war, been party to
some fighting and saw things I wish I had never seen. I went from being an
innocent boy, to a hardened man. Sometimes I wonder what happened to that
little drummer boy I once was. But for me, it was the only way to escape the
poverty of Ireland
and a life of low subsistence.
By 1755, Gordon
Jefferson and I had become strong men, who had learned the experiences of fighting
the Mik Maq in the forest. I had also learned how to handle a small boat going
up and down the coasts and up the rivers. I had also made friends not only with
the soldiers of the garrisons I served in, but with some of the local people as
well. The Melanson family were Acadians who helped supply food to the garrison,
and whose father had drowned when his canoe overturned one day. My father,
Lieutant Lindsay Kenny married the widow and I had gained a step-sister. I
thought that I was in love with her, but in youth, we can sometimes mistake
love for loneliness.
Our lives had not been quiet. In order to keep ourselves at peace,
we had to constantly prepare for war. However, it was becoming more difficult
to do our repairs to the forts. We had heard reports that Captain Murray at
Fort Edward had not received any firewood or wood to make repairs to the fort`s
stockade. When Gordon and I were sent up as part of a patrol, we found out that
the local Acadian priest Abbe Daubin had been preaching that it was wrong to
supply us with anything which could lead to war. Though I never could
understand why they didn`t tell them to not supply the Mik Maq. All of the
officers felt that the priests in the area were acting as spies and agents of
the French government.
In August of 1755,
we got word that General Braddock had been defeated in the forests of Pennsylvania. He had
almost reached his objective but was soundly beaten by a French and Indian
force. Braddock`s troops had trained for war in Europe and had no concept of
how we fought war here.
Now what none of
us knew at the time was that the Drums of war had been beating far from our own
lands. George Washington, a young officer in the Virginian Colonial Forces had
set out from Williamsburg
with orders from the governor to make a solid claim on the boundry of Virginia. The French had
been reported as having set up trading posts and forts in areas that we
claimed. But with one shot, little did he know that he would engulf the whole
world in war. Washington`s actions had led to Braddock taking the war path, but
it plunged us all into war.
I remember the day we got the news. “Ah Euan, you beat me again at
cards. I`m sure you must be cheating.” Gordon took a sip of spruce beer as the
two friends sat at their table in the barracks. “On my honor Gordon, I don`t
cheat, you can read my face whenever I do something wrong. Besides, maybe I
have better luck, being born in Ireland
“So what`s to say
I don`t shake you about and expect a Leprician to fall out your breeches with a
pot of gold in his hands.” We both fell about laughing just thinking of it.
“I sure do wish
we`d have something more to do. This dam rain is keeping us in these past ten
days.” “Aye but would you rather be on sentry duty or running a patrol out in
the woods now?” “Ah so if it isn`t Private Jefferson and Private Kenny playing
cards. “ Corporal Todd of the 40th Regiment noted. “I should report
you and let you have a chat with the Drum Major`s Cat eh?” “No Corporal, there
be no need of that. We have no money to bet with, we`re just passing the time.”
“Well I think I can find something else more useful to His Majesty then playing
cards. I`d say a spell in the holding cell would do you some good. Out with you
Both of us were dragged out
of our cosy barracks and led by the picket to the Black hole. That`s what we
called the holding cell in Fort Anne. “We will see what your officer has to say
about this. “ And with a nasty chuckle, Corporal Todd placed us in the cell to
await what Captain Joseph Goreham would do with us. “The next morning, we were
led out of the cells with a picket guard of four soldiers and a drummer.
Corporal Todd sneered at us and ordered us to march off. We were led to the
officer`s barracks and would face the officers.
Todd reporting with two rangers who in direct violation of the Articles of War,
were found while in barracks playing a game of chance with cards.
stood up and addressed his Corporal. Cpl. Todd, are these men members of your
company?” “No sir, they are members of Captain Goreham`s Rangers. However, as I
was Corporal of the guard, I was making my rounds through the fort to ensure
that the soldiers were in good discipline.” Captain Goreham, in his grey coat
and red waistcoat, stood up and addressed the senior officers. “Major
Blackmore, these men are members of my company. Surely any discipline would
fall under my own discretion. I`m sure that these two men, both of whom have
given loyal service to His Majesty would not be so foolish as to play for money
in violation of their orders.”
Major Blackmore in
his redcoat faced buff with a ruffle of silk about his neck, glowered at the
rangers. “Captain Goreham, I find this whole situation an annoyance. These
rangers were playing cards when they should have being doing some sort of
soldiers duty. Corporal Todd, while your diligence to duty is not in question,
were you yourself not in violation of your orders?” “Sir, I was within hailing
distance to the guard room.”
then spoke up. “Sir, Corporal Todd was following my orders. I had sent him to
make a round of the barracks, as I could hear some soldiers loudly laughing and
I thought that they may have been drunk. I was in the guard room myself.”
The older officer
sighed. “I see, well, Private Jefferson, do you have anything to say for your
conduct?” “No sir” Gordon replied. “Private Kenny, do you have any words to
your superior officers? “Sir, we were not playing for money, but I understand
that we are at fault. I`m willing to accept his Majesties punishment.”
“I find both of
you guilty of violating your orders. I sentence you to ten days loss of pay.”
This court martial
is adjourned.” And with that, the officers stood up and we were led from the
room by our guard to face our fellow soldiers. Captain Goreham was most
unpleased. “You two idiots. What the hell were you doing playing cards in the
daytime?” “Well sir I had finished casting musket balls and preparing
cartridges with Jefferson as we had been
ordered. Since it was raining, there wasn`t much else we could do, so we
secured the powder, and let our balls cool off in the rain.”
“Well then, I
suppose that I`ll have to send you out on a patrol to keep you two out of
trouble for a few weeks. I`m sending Sargeant Gillies out to see what the Mik
Mak are up to. You will join him.”
“But why did the Corporal want to get you in trouble Grandfather”? “Most
British officers don`t like colonial troops very much. They seem to think that
we are not professional and that we lacked discipline. Since we don`t wear
uniforms or spend our time drilling on parade squares, they tend to feel that
we`re not worthy of receiving the king`s shilling. But if it wasn`t for Gorham`s
Rangers, the British in Nova Scotia would have faced a tougher time than they
did. Whenever there was an Indian attack on Halifax or Dartmouth the locals would raise a so called
ranger company and then try to find the war party. Those were the amateurs. We
knew what we were doing. Soldiers like Corporal Todd were many and he wanted to
impress on his superiors that Gordon and I were not really soldiers.
“I told you we should have waited until after tattoo to play cards
Gordon.” “Yeah well if we are out on a patrol, we won`t have anyway to spend
money, so I guess it`s better than getting flogged.”
Our patrol was to
set up an ambush site where the Mik Maq might come through. Now that was
boring. We first had to make some basic fortifications but we had to do it in a
way that wasn`t easy to spot. Gordon and I got to spend a week living in a
leanto and spell each other off every two hours. At the time, I felt that what
we did was a big waste because sure as the grass is green, the Mik Maq would
have noticed us from a long way off, either by our structures, or by the noise
of us cutting the bush down to make our defenses. But sometimes we had to do
work for work sake.
Soon afterwards though, we came back to FortAnne
and received new orders. Colonel Robert Monckton would lead us on an assault on
FortBeasejour in Chignecto. Now I remembered
that place well, having been there when How had been killed. Over the
interviening years, it had grown from a simple earthwork, to something that
would challenge us in an attack. So in the late spring, Annapolis
Royal saw a massive influx of troops. Winslow was one of the
commanders and he had about a thousand men. Captain Scott, was chosen as the
commander of the second group and it was with this group of another thousand
men. The troops had first assembled in Boston
and then sailed up to Nova Scotia.
Major Lawrence sent orders to Captain Murray at FortEdward
informing him of the coming campaign. He was to collect the Acadian deputies
together and get some form of confirmation that the Acadians would be loyal
subjects of the British crown. If any were preparing to go and assist the
French at Beasejour, or to take up arms against their legitimate government,
they would be classified as rebels and would be punished by execution. Not only
the men, but their families would also be punished. The Acadians would have to
choose a side, and the message was, they had better choose to side with the
formed us up on the parade square. There we stood rigidly at attention and as
the other soldiers formed up, we could hear the birds singing and feel the
slight breeze blowing off the Annapolis
river. “Soldiers, we have been ordered to attack the French fort of Beausejour
in Chignecto. Some of you have been there before. Goreham`s Rangers will be our
eyes and ears on this expedition. I have faith that our troops will prevail
over the French. For too long they have kept us cooped up on the coast Each
soldier shall do his duty to his upmost. Three cheers for his Majesty King
George the Second Hip Hip Huzzah, Huzzah, Huzzah!”
So this was what
our orders were. We were to proceed up the Bay of Fundy,
towards Chignecto and lay siege to FortBeasejour.. On May 25th, 1755, Annapolis Royal saw one of the largest fleets that had
sailed into our area since the place had been captured from the French
fifty-five years before. Forty-one ships with 2000 troops moved into camp. We
had set up tents in the ditch of the fort and on the glacis to accommodate them
all. For five days the troops were assembled, and supplies passed out. Each
soldier was given 60 rounds of ammunition, three flints. We spent a lot of time
loading the ships with extra cannon balls, and other things to make us ready.
We set sail on June 1st and made our way up the bay until we reached
We then encamped
outside the forts walls, and as rangers, we had to go out and report what we
could see. Gordon and I paired up and we were given a spy glass to help us.
We got to the
river bank and spied on the French lines. The French were busy with last minute
preparations for what they knew could be a long siege. We had proper artillery
and engineers and the officers planned that it might take as long as a month if
not more to reduce the garrison into surrender. We could see some Acadians
under arms moving into the fort as well as some Mik Maq warriors. We watched
them for four days before we began to make our move. Those four days we spent
huddled in the grass with only our canteens, moose jerky and biscuits to keep
us company. Gordon would watch for a bit while I`d either rest or make notes.
Then it would be my turn. I had a kind of excited feeling watching the French
scurry about trying to protect themselves.
In the wee hours
of the morning of June 4th, we began the French and Indian war in Nova Scotia. The Royal
Artillery had 4 six pound guns ready for march to be led by the Grenadiers of
the 43rd Regiment and Goreham`s Rangers. The artillery was at the
back of the column as we set out. Of course we headed to the place where there
had been a bridge but the French were not stupid enough to leave it intact. The
Royal Engineer detachment quickly built another one as the rest of the army
waited. As we stood there, we took sips from our canteens and some of us were apprehensive
about what might happen to us that day. I had experienced attacks before, but
we had been the defenders. Now we were the attackers.
As the engineers
began to build the bridge, Mik Maq warriors began to fire on them. There was a
log house which they had made into a type of block house and from inside they
had some swivel guns which they fired on us. While this was happening, the new
village the Acadians had built near the fort was torched and the smoke screened
what the defenders were doing. It was a crazy time of war whoops, musket and
cannon fire, screams of pain and alarm for the soldiers and curses by those who
were trying to build the bridge without getting shot.”
“Alright, I`ve had enough of those pop guns. Royal Artillery from
open sights at the log house FIRE!” All four guns began to belch forth their fire
ploughing up the earth in front of the building and around it as they began to
reach out for a proper range. Eventually, the British shot began to make
results and we observed that the French took what guns remained and ran into
the woods. The Mik Maq withdrew up to the heights out of range of our guns and
a few die hards stayed in the trenches around the blockhouse.
Gordon and I were
used to fire at them along with the other rangers. Evetually, all the French
retired into their fort. Then we began the hard task of preparing to lay siege
to the place. Now it was different being an attacker than a defender. First, we
had to prepare an area for our camp. We had to clear an area of land of brush
and then dig defenses and lay out the tent lines. Then the camp had to be
supplied. So we had to also build a road from the area where our ships were to
the camp. All the while, the French watched us and worried about what would
happen. About a week after we landed, the camp had been set up and we then
began the real work of the siege.
We had to start by
digging trenches and gun emplacements for our artillery in order to fire on the
fort. We had to help build another road so that the heavy guns could be moved.
Since there were no horses, we had to use man power to haul the guns into
position. Those cannons are heavy! We found a spot to put them on a rise just
above their fort, but the French weren`t about to just pass that spot over.
“Grampie, can we
start to make some bannock.?” “I suppose that`s a good idea. We can make and
cook them as I tell the story. Here`s the flour, go get a mug of water and
we`ll mix and then make them as we talk.
“So how did you
get the high ground around the fort then Grandfather?” Anne began to look most
shocked and awed by her grandfather`s story.
and the Grenadiers of the 43rd, 45th, and 47thled by the now Major Scott took it upon
ourselves to assault the site. The French had dug in a little on the site and
we advanced carefully.”
will fix bayonets, Fix your bayonets. Shoulder your arms. Rangers take the
flank, Grenadiers, take care, by the left quick march!”
“Up we went.
Gordon would run ahead first then kneel and take aim. Then I would advance
about 10 meters and kneel then present as to fire. We kept it up until we were
about 100 meters from the position. “Grenadiers halt. Prime and load.” Now this
was just at the limit of the French range of their muskets. As the Grenadiers
loaded, we began to fire on the French. Then finally, the French began to fire.
It was heavy for a bit and the Engineer who was with us was hit and badly
wounded. Major Prebel who was second in command received a scrape. Even though
the French were firing like mad, their aim was bad. As we began to advance
again, the French fired but only five men dropped. One had been killed while
the others were taken back to the surgeon`s lines.
Grenadiers charged their bayonets and rushed the line, the French broke. To
cover their withdrawl, the forts cannons began to fire on us. We spent the rest
of the night digging in to make trenches and redoubts for our guns. We began
our trenches 700 feet from the forts walls and began to inch our way forward.”
The ground was
soft enough, but it still takes a lot of energy to put a spade or shovel into
the ground and then pile it up to protect ourselves. Sappers did a lot of this
but we also had to help at times. The infantry behind us simply lay on their
bellies until there was some cover and then they crawled into the protection of
“Euan, did you
think we`d be rats or rabbits in this attack. If I have to dig anymore, I might
as well turn into a rabbit and just eat carrots” “Gordon, the only carrots
you`ll be eating will be out of our stew pot. I`d just like to be able to shoot
at those gunners on their walls.”
“Around June 12th,
our trenches were established enough for a mortar to be brought up and move
until it was in position to begin it`s bombardment of the fort. On the night of
June 16th, with their linstocks lit and ammunition piled ready for
use, the Royal Artillery gunners began their work. As we stood in the trench on
the firing step, we could hear the linstock hiss and then there was a little
whoosh BANG! The mortar began firing. But the most suprising thing was after
about the fifth shot. This time it went hiss, whoosh, BANG! WHAM!!!!!! We saw a
bright flash and one of the buildings blew up! When dawn broke, we were greatly
surprised to see a drummer march out with an officer beating for a parley!
It turned out that
that shot from the mortar blew up inside a building which held seven French
officers. With the flash of the explosion, we thought we must have hit their
powder magazine. The garrison as it turned out consisted of mostly Acadian
farmers the rest were colonial troops. As we crept closer, more and more of the
Acadians had slipped over the walls and off into the woods to flee with their
families away from us. Since the French commander who was Vergor had lost most
of his officers, he felt it best to surrender.
Now also, we knew
the Le Loutre must also be there, and after we had witnessed what his preaching
had caused, we wanted to get him. But when the French marched out, Le Loutre
was no where to be found. Much later did we find out what happened to him.
Despite the fact that he had been preaching to the Mik Maq and the Acadians, he
found that he was used by the French government. Le Loutre had traveled back to
earlier to gain funds to help the Acadians, and also to help fund his
activities in making the Mik Maq wage war on us. We even found out that funds
which he had obtained were used not only in dyke construction in Acadian
communities, but also in buying English scalps that his Mik Maq followers brought
for him. Knowing that the British would want him a prisoner, he disguised
himself as a servant girl, and slipped out of the fort to head towards Quebec. Now he had been
made the Bishop for the Acadians, but the church authorities in New France were not pleased that Beasejour had fallen.
Also, despite his orders to act as an agent for the French, he would find out
that his over zealous preaching of attacking the English meant that France had just
lost one of their outposts. He was sent packing. He made his way to Louisbourg
to sail for France.
Le Loutre`s luck
finally ran out about a week after his ship sailed for France. One of the Royal
Navy patrols captured his ship and finding out who he was, clapped him in irons
and sent to Elizabeth Castle in Jersey where
he remained a prisoner until 1763. While there, he was nearly murdered by one
of his guards. It had turned out that the soldier had been posted to Nova Scotia and had been
one of the men captured by the Mik Maq. He said Le Loutre had been leading the
war party and had actually went up to this soldier and had drawn a knife ready
to scalp him! He had watched as the Mik Maq murdered his companions and then
saw how the priest paid the warriors with money he had. For some reason, this
soldier had been sparred. The other soldiers of the guard in the castle had to
restrain him. After that, he didn`t do any guard duty over the priest.
The officers gave
the garrison the honors of war, the French were allowed to keep their colors,
their baggage and weapons. Also, the Acadians who had been part of the garrison
were not to be harmed. We packed the French troops onto ships and sent them
under flag of truce to Louisbourg. We had managed to convince Louisbourg that
we would also attack them, and thus with Royal Navy ships off their coast, the
French felt they couldn`t send help to them. Nor could the troops in IsleSaint
Jean or Quebec.
With his garrison dwindling from desertions of his Acadian militia, with only
about one company of Compaigne Franches, the French passed us the fort only
four days after we first began to dig out trenches.
amazing Grandfather, I mean to attack a fort and take it so easily.” “Yes, we
thought that it would take all summer to finish it off. And I suppose that if
they had had any decent and able commander, they would have.” “So did you then
get set for winter then?” Anne had just finished making her fifth little
At this, Euan`s
face came a cloud of sorrow. “No, there was to be no getting ready for winter,
at least not yet. What we did next is something that I have felt the most shame
for all my life. I`ve lived with this guilt for a long time. From that summer,
my life forever changed. I`m amazed that I came out of that summer sane.
CHAPTER FOUR: THE GREAT DEPLACEMENT.
“The next few
weeks proceeded as we thought it would. The French fort of Gaspereau had to be
taken. It was a shabby place, with four badly built blockhouses and a shallow
ditch. The whole place was surrounded by a palisade but there was no rampart or
loopholes in the walls! They had no real supplies at all, there wasn`t even a
well. To get water, they had to haul it by cart from quite a distance. The
barracks were a mess, not even hospitable. It was a wonder that it had been
built in the first place. But the worst part was that it was built so close to
the water that any navy force could almost sail right up to it and blast it
apart with cannons. Colonel Winslow felt that it would be best to destroy the
place and sent a message back to Colonel Monckton about the situation. Monckton
felt that it could still serve a purpose and then sent us a relief force to
secure the area. We searched the village
of Baie Vert and taking
what stores we could use, marched back to Beausejour.
Another force went
down to what in the future became Saint
John. When the British force arrived, the French blew
up their cannons, blew up their powder magazine and retreated up river until
they reached Quebec.
We had secured the area in less than a month, and the summer was still young.
But what the commanders then did next was awful.
When we finally took possession of FortBeasejour,
we found that the majority of the garrison had been Acadians! They claimed that
they were forced to enlist in the French colonial militia and help to defend
the fort. For the senior officers in Nova
Scotia, this was almost a confirmation of their
belief that the Acadian were a big problem. For them, they saw the Acadians
under arms as though they were a wolf in sheep`s clothing. For many years, they
claimed to be neutral, but here they were with arms fighting English troops.
They failed to noticed or perhaps they didn`t know that Le Loutre had
threatened them with his Mik Maq followers and would burn them out or kill them
if they didn`t join the French in the fort. These same people had been forcibly
removed to the French side of the river four years before.
I knew of these
because I was used as an interpreter due to the fact that I had learned some
French while playing with Madeline. I spoke with some of the prisoners and this
is what they told me. Also many of the Acadian militia had actually deserted
when they saw how close we were getting to their walls.
Now Major Lawrence
had been waiting for a chance to get rid of his “Acadian problem”. He had at
his disposal 2000 paid troops, various transport vessels and it was just the
beginning of summer. So rather than have these troops stay in garrison, and
with a victors mindset, they proceeded in a campaign that I am ashamed to admit
I was ordered to take part in.
After news of
Beasejour`s fall reached Halifax, Governor Lawrence held a council meeting of
all of the major officers of the colony as well as the civilian authorties.
Belcher was to act as the legal representative of the meeting. In July Major
Lawrence set out to make a decision about the Acadians in Nova Scotia. He was quoted as saying that he
felt the best solution to the situation was to prevent as much as possible any
possible hope of return for the Acadian population. They would be distributed
amoungst the English colonies and that ships would be hired as soon as possible
to take them away.
Now as we were
going about our attack on Beaujseour, the Acadians in Piziquid were causing the
local commander Captain Murray some problems. The Government in Halifax was concerned
that the Acadians in the are would go up and help the French. So Captain Murray
had orders to enforce English control over the area. He was ordered to meet
with deputies of the Acadian communities and explain that they had nothing to
fear from the English. They would be under the protection of the British
government to enjoy the rights and liberties of English subjects. If however
any of them felt the need to go and assist the French, they would suffer the
full weight of English law.
It was during this
meeting that Murray
set out the new rules of the land. All guns the Acadians had were to be
delivered to FortEdward as well as all
boats or canoes. This upset the Acadians as there guns were used in their daily
life in farming, and their canoes or boats were their only means of
transportation in the area because there were no roads. As well boats were used
for fishing so that they could feed their families.
When the Acadians
wrote a petition complaining about these new rules, they had no idea that a
battle had just taken place. With their view of asking for fair treatment by
the British, what they received in return was a complete overreaction. Governor
Lawerence saw the Acadians as presumptuous.
He called for a
meeting of Acadian deputies to Halifax
to inform them of what was expected of them. Lawrence had the knowledge that Acadians had
been found in the garrison of Beasejour and thus gave them a scathing speech.
plead to us that you only want to live on your land and to grow crops to feed
your families. Whenever we summon you, you plead submission. However, it has
come to my attention, that you have been supplying the French both in
Louisbourg and Beasejour with provisions in direct violation of English law! When
you have supplied us, you have charged us three times what you charged the
French. When you choose to trade with the enemy, you have forfeited your
rights!” “Governor Lawerene” spoke one of the delegation, “we have not done as
you said, we have only been living in our lands living our daily lives. We have
nothing to do with the French” Lawerence exploded “then explain to me why my
soldiers at FortEdward have observed your canoes loaded
with goods heading towards French territory and not English. Why are you under
arms when traveling? As Catholics, you have no right to bear arms, however, if
you submit to His Majesties loyalty now and pledge the loyalty of your people,
you shall enjoy all the rights of English subjects without further hinderance.
But you must swear an oath of alligance. If there will be no oath, then your
people shall suffer for it.”
“But Governor, we
have constantly sworn to be at peace with you as our fathers have also… “ “Damm
you sir, you have know our position these past six years. The time has come for
a final answer to this question. Are you English, or French subjects? Every
governor of Nova Scotia
has faced your questionable loyalty since 1710. You will submit or suffer for
The delegation was
shocked at this news. Pleading that they could not decide on this without consulting
their people, Lawerence then responded, “If Le Loutre or any other priest tells
you to do something, you do it, and as this is English territory, you are in
fact, in open rebellion when you ignore our orders and obey those of your
priests. As well, if you are deputies of your communities, then you represent
them by law. You will give us an answer or suffer for it.
The French troops
from Beasejour were sent to Louisbourg, but the civilians, we imprisoned them
in FortLawrence until we could bring ships up
to take them away. We then went out and burned their farms, took their cattle
and other livestock and burnt their crops. The officers decided that if the
French were to come back, they would find nothing but a wasted land. We thought
that was the last of it, but as the summer progressed, it got much much worse.
See we all thought that we`d only expel these people because they had clearly
supported the French in this area.
I remember when
Captain Gorham assembled us and gave out our orders.
“Rangers, you are
here by charged with assisting the authorities and other troops in reducing the
Acadian population of Nova Scotia.
We will proceeded to each district and evict all Acadian we find. We are to
burn all their homes, destroy their possessions, seize their livestock, and
deport them to the English colonies to the south. That being said, I must admit
that this will be the hardest part of our duty that we have been charged with.
Even in our fighting against the Mik Maq, we have not been ordered to go in and
destroy their villages. The authorities insist that we will make this land
English and that the Acadians have had over forty years to submit to our rule,
which they have never done. Though these Acadian have fed us and have for the
most part kept to their neutrality. For some of you, this order will be very
difficult to carry out. I know that some of you have married into Acadian
families and even some of the officers at Annapolis Royal
are going to be personally affected with this order. I might remind you that we
must carry out any order which we are given, weither we agree with them or not.”
We arrived there
on August 19, 1755.
After staying at FortEdward, we marched and
sailed into the settlement. Upon our arrival, we set up an encampment. The local
Acadians came up to us and began to trade food and cider with us for any money
we had. We had strict orders to not let on why we were there. For the Acadians,
they must have felt it was like a fair day what with all the tents for the
soldiers and the ships in the harbor. We set up sentries and pickets. Our
commander, Colonel Winslow took up residence in the priests house and we used
the church for what would be the meeting place for the men. When the locals
asked us why we had set up a picket fence, we told them it was for our own
protection from the Mik Maq.
feeling of Grand Pre was like visiting the
ghosts of my past. I had survived the massacre back in 1747. Here I was again
eight years later, but this time, it would be very different. We got water and
supplies from the locals and made ourselves as comfortable as possible. I was
still so upset that I didn`t feel like eating. The simple homes on the slope
leading down to the water would soon be a scence of hell. I mean the place was
a beautiful piece of earth. Such lush green pastures rimmed with dykes to keep
out the mighty rivers with their huge tides. And the site of the mountain that
was the border of the horizon would take anyones breathe away. No wonder the
Acadians had settled here. It was such a different scene from the one I had
seen that winter so long ago.
We had to wait
about two weeks for the transports to arrive from Boston. During that time, the colonial troops
Winslow had were a disgusting bunch. They made a mess in the camp, throwing
their garbage about which in the summer heat would rot quickly and stink. The
officers spent a lot of their time trying to keep the men busy, for we had to
keep our minds off what was to come and also to keep from the Acadians what was
to soon befall them. The members of my old regiment, the 40th kept
themselves occupied with duties and when I had the chance, I sat around the
camp fire and sang songs with them to keep us entertained. We smoked our pipes,
sang our songs and some sipped at hoarded cider the Acadians had been passing
to us. But the tension was becoming almost unbearable for the officers and
Finally at the
beginning of September, the day of dread dawned. All the preparations were
finished. We had gone out on patrol to the outer settlements to summon all the
men to the church at Grand Pre for a meeting
to inform them of some news for them. There was no need to bring arms, they
were not being mustered into the British army but rather, the King had some
news for them.
That morning, we
were all mustered in the parade ground of our camp. Every soldier had his
musket checked, issued new flints, powder and shot for our cartridge boxes. As
rangers, our powder horns were topped up and we were also given balls to put in
our extra pouches. With what we were about to do, we might have to use our arms
against these people. The local Acadian men had continues to go about and
harvest their crops. What they didn`t know was that these were the last crops
they would sow and reap on the lands their ancestors had tilled for many years.
As we went to
sleep on the night of September 4th, we were ordered to sleep with
our arms. As the Acadians had had theirs seized earlier that summer, we had the
only firearms which could cause us harm. But a good commander never goes
unprepared. There could be the possibility that some of these men had kept
their muskets hidden.
The next morning
dawned with a mist that clung to the hill side. With it being September, it was
starting to become chilly. Even the air felt as cold as our governors heart. We
had just over four hundred men come in that day to meet in the church. Winslow
had a Swiss man to act as his interpretuer. Finally at three o`clock in the
afternoon, we began.
was read out to the assembled men. With comprehending looks, these farmers
began to understand that this home of there`s was now gone! They were now in
effect, prisoners Then the howls of shock and protest began. Winslow, in his
speech explained that this was on order that he didn`t want to carry out, but
that he had to follow the orders of his superior officers. At that word, the
soldier made their muskets ready in case the men got violent. Every soldier had
fixed bayonets but the officers didn`t want to start killing people. Being
outnumbered by scared people is not something someone wants to witness.
“But what have we
done wrong sir?” asked an older Acadian man who was one of the few to speak
English. “We have grown our crops, raised our children, stay out of the wars
you have fought with the Mik Maq and French. We have also sold you our surplus
food which has fed your garrisons and the new settlers in Halifax and
Lunenburg. What about our women and children? Are we to be held here without
them?” Winslow replied, “Very well, twenty of your men will be able to visit
the families of the men held here. However, if you do not return, we shall
punish those who are left behind.”
Euan took a long
pull from his tea mug. Anne could see that the memories coming out on his face.
She knew her grandfather well. Grandmother Emily always said that Euan`s face
was like a book. You could read him like a page.
He began again. “So
there we were, now we were like prison guards. We watched the men who were held
in the church. The female relations of these men would come everyday, the women
crying, the children confused at what was going on. They would bring food and
blankets for their men folk. When it was time for them to leave in the evening,
it was a sea of anguish that we would face. So many people had tears streaming
down from reddened eyes. We were holding about five hundred men in the church,
but there were only about three hundred British soldiers to watch them. Winslow
was gravely concerned that the ships would be delayed and his greatest fear
would be for the younger and stronger Acadian men to plot an escape and turn
this into Bedlam.
transports did arrive, we separated the younger and stronger men from the
others and with soldiers lining the route to the shore, we marched them down to
the ships waiting in the river basin. These men, believed that they were being separated
from their families and refused to move. “No no,” they shouted at us. Winslow
went up and grabbed a man by his shirt and drew his sword. “I do not want to
start killing, but if you will not move, then this man will be run through” We
were then ordered to charge out bayonets at the group and if it had been
necessary, we would have begun to prod them by bayonet point. With looking over
their shoulders with fear in their eyes, they began to march down to the
awaiting transports. Some were singing, others prayed, while others began to
weep. The women followed and it took all of our strengths to keep from going
mad. “Phillipe, Jean, Erik, mon fere, mon papa, they wailed an fell upon the
ground. All of the soldiers felt sick. This was not what we usually did. We
were trained to fight our enemy, and that was either French soldiers, or Mik
None of us took
any joy in this. Some of the soldiers who had come from the poverty stricken
areas of England or the colonies laughed and joked as we burnt out the farms,
but they were doing it because when they took the King`s shilling, they were
told they would be doing a great service for their country. But Anne, when
officers force you to make war on women and children, this is wrong. The
Acadians didn`t understand that the English government wanted them to be loyal
and to be officially members of the British Empire.
For me, having witnessed what English soldiers sometimes did in Ireland, it was
hard for me to see these people as a threat to us.
what did the Acadian do that made the King angry?” Anne`s face was streaked
with tears. “War is bad. People die,
people are hurt, no one truly wins, we all loose something. You have never seen
what I have, and it would be my wish that you will never know this life. King
George didn`t order this to happen. It was Governor Lawerence who did it on his
After we had put
the Acadian men on board the ships, we than had to put the women and children
on. We tried out best to keep mothers with their children and families
together, but we had so many language problems. Also, the New
England soldiers were still very angry at the fact that the French
had sent Indians down from Quebec
to attack their farms. The trouble was, the Acadians had nothing to do with
that. But it was hard to argue with a Boston
soldier with a bottle of rum in his hand and a musket in the other.
“What are you some
kind of French lover” one soldier asked me. “No, but I`ve lived here and worked
with Acadians for a good part of my life. And if this is what you call
soldering, jesus boy, you need to see what war is. I`ve fought off Mik Maq and
French attacks. I`ve been in sharp engagements on boats with them also. But
what we are doing is wrong” The New England
soldier sneered at me. “Yeah well, perhaps them wine drinking buggers in Quebec might think a
little more the next time they send a war party to Deerfield”
This soldier was
dressed in a brown civilian coat and pants with a custard colored waistcoat and
green stockings. He didn`t look much like a soldier. Massachusetts had recruited so many men for
the campaign to FortBeasejour that there were
not enough uniforms to go around. How he had managed to get himself a bottle of
rum I didn`t know, but for me, when the day was over, and we could rest was the
time to maybe have a swig from a bottle, but not when we had scared people to
“I felt physically
sick. Great Grand father Lindsay was married to Madeline`s mother. With horror
I now realized that I would be forcing my friend from her home and those of her
We sailed down to Annapolis Royal to begin the deportation operation in
that area. I was anxious to be able to get to the Melanson farm to warn
Madeline of what was to happen. Lindsay was very shocked when he received word
that he was to assist the officers in compiling a list of names of Acadians in
the area who would be removed. The only Acadians who would be staying were the
officers and soldiers wives. I was determined that I would find Madeline and
ask her to marry me so as to spare her family more heartache and dispare.
So there we were
advancing one sunny October morning. You could smell the warmth of the grass as
we advanced down the river. We had crossed to the North side of the river and
began to march down to the farms we knew were along the way. We had a few
wagons with us to transport the women and children. The men we`d march with us.
We arrived in the farmyard of the Melanson farm and Madeline came running up to
“Euan what are you
doing here, you look thirsty, shall I fetch you and your comrades some cider.
Why Euan, what is wrong, why do you look so upset.”
British have ordered that all the Acadians in Nova Scotia are to be deported to other
British colonies. We`ve been ordered to take everyone to FortAnne
and hold you there until ships come to take everyone away. The soldiers with me
are to round up all the livestock and burn all the buildings.” She dropped the
clay pitcher she was holding and put her hands to her face gasping in horror. “I
can stop them if I tell the officer that you are to be my wife. If that is the
case, your farm will be sparred. I will take my discharge and marry you to save
your farm. I love you and I don`t want to see you loose everything”
I expected her to
hold me tight and thank her for my offer. But what I received shook me to my
very soul. With a reddening face, she slapped me across my face leaving a red
mark and spitting in French and screaming in English “You bastard, I will not
marry you just so that you can take my families farm and fill the bellies of
your soldier friends. This is our land, you have no right to do this, damm you
Two other soldiers
came up and grabbed her by the arms. I asked them to let her go, that she was
my friend and we were having a lover`s quarrel. The soldiers laughed and walked
away grasping bundles of straw to begin burning the farm.
I turned away and
began to wipe the tears from my eyes. Gordon came running up. “Why are you
crying dear fellow.” “Ah, the smoke is in my eyes and are making my eyes water.
Madeline will not have me and we must obey our orders.” “You mean we have to
burn out our friend`s farm? Dear God, what is this world turning to?”
It took us most of
the morning to gather up the people and livestock. The officers took pains to
ensure that we didn`t loot the homes looking for drink. Instead, at , all the available food and
drink was brought together and passed about to soldiers and civilians alike.
Most people didn`t eat. I only drank the cider. My stomach knotted with the
thought of food. In our haversacks, we had torches prepared. They were sticks
that we had wrapped strips of lined dipped in linseed oil to help us fire the
With our musket
butts, we smashed out the windows and set the roofs on fire. As we began to
march back to Annapolis,
the air about the whole valley was filled with the smoke from all the house
fires. We could also hear the milk cows bellowing in pain as they needed to be
milked and since we were taking the people away, their udders would continue to
fill up. The next morning, the sergeants gathered up any soldiers who had been
farm hands back in England
and took them out to the farms to milk the cattle. Afterwards, they were driven
into Fort Anne`s ditch to await shipment to Halifax.
troops we had with us fixed bayonets and herded the civilians into the fort.
The men we weeping and the women were crying from sorrow and fear. That night,
I was beside myself with sorrow. Gordon had found a bottle of rum and was
sharing it with me. I began to drink like crazy and sang like crazy. I bolted
from the barracks and with bottle in hand went upon the parapet and began to
loudly sing and run about.
Gordon was trying to catch me and knock me
down before the evening sentries and Corporal found me. When Corporal Cutcliff
found me, the sentries grabbed hold of me. I went wild, I was thrashing about
and roaring like a madman. As the sentries held me, Cutcliff began to try and
knock me out by hitting me on the head. It enraged me more and I was fighting
the sentries who with all their might were trying to hold me. We all tumbled
down into a heap and I leapt at the Corporal to thrash him. But the sentries
held me fast. “Kenny, shut up! Your drunk and disordly. You`ll be put in the
hold and I doubt if you`ll escape the lash.” I calmed down, my chest heaving
and I was panting to catch my breathe. “Private Jefferson, take Kenny back to
your barracks. I`ll report this to the Sargeant. He might be able to get off
with just a loss of pay.”
Gordon took me
back to the barracks and placed me down in our bunk. It was then that I began
to weep and cry. “Madeline, why did you leave me?” I cried and cried. I thought
then that maybe I would spend my life alone, that I would never know love, that
I would never see my children born, that the life I thought I would have would
never be. I felt destined that I would remain lonely all the days of my life
and my heart felt like it would burst with the sorrow that I felt. I don`t know
when I fell asleep that night.
I was definetly
lucky. Corporal Cutcliff had spoken with Gordon and had found out what had
happened. Feeling that I had suffered enough, and that there would be more
action for us, he let the matter drop.
know that this happened?” asked Anne. “Yes she does, and it`s one of the things
which I don`t speak of often. She knows that I was involved with soldiers
taking part in the deportation, but she doesn`t know that I asked that woman to
marry me. In 1755, I was 21, and I thought that I was ready to be married. But
I was still young. Madeline was only 19, and I know now that for a woman to
want to marry you, that you have to marry for love, not for any other reason. I
have loved your grandmother like I have loved no other person in my life. She
made me the man that I am now. A very thankful and happy old man. When you are
old enough and fall in love with a man, make sure he is a good one and will
take care of you. Don`t marry because someone makes you. Marry someone because
you love them as they love you.
All that summer
and fall, we took our boats and advanced to small settlements and delivered our
news and took the Acadians away to be shipped to colonies to the south. After
awhile we got numbed to the scenes of women and children crying and of the
animals howling or lowing. But even though it took place so long ago, sometimes
when I`m alone in the woods trapping furs, I can picture or hear all that. Some
of the soldiers turned to rum to drown their sorrows. I tried that with ale,
but it only made things worse. We`d get drunk to try and forget, but then the
next day, we`d have to do it all over again.
With the Acadians all
gone, we then went back to the farms andbegan to slaughter the animals. There were many a spit that fall and
winter with roasts of beef, pork, chicken and mutton along with the harvest of
grain and vegetables we had. The whole time, I ate with a rough stomach. All I
could think about was Madeline and how her family had worked so hard to raise
these animals and grow this food, only to have it stolen from them and eaten by
hungry soldiers who didn`t even have the decency to feel guilty about it. At least
we didn`t go hungry.
It wasn`t always
peaceful either. There was one time when a bunch of the Acadian men had been
able to escape by dressing up as women. We were sent off to find them. We found
one lad who had gotten a horse and was trying to flee. We hailed him but he
kept riding. We began to fire over his head but he still kept on going. “Right,
sod that, said our Captain Scott. Rangers, take that man down. Kenny, drop him.
“ Yes sir”. I had no choice but to follow his order. I raised my musket and took
careful aim. I squeezed the trigger and flash bang, the man dropped from his
horse. We ran up and I found that I had killed him. I felt sick because he
wasn`t armed. “Good work Private Kenny”, exclaimed Captain Scott. “That will
show the next Frenchy who wants to run what will happen to him, collect the
horse, it`ll fetch a good price in Halifax.”
We also took one
man out of a group of people we had captured and ordered him to put all his
possessions back into his house. From this group, some other Acadians had
escaped. “Right, well then sir, seeing as you have been the deputy of this
area, you are hereby held responsible for those men fleeing. Private Jefferson,
fire this mans house, and make sure the village watches. We mean business. All
of them will not remain, they shall all be removed.” Captain Scott took great
pleasure in executing his orders.
“But why did you
shoot him Grandfather? Was he armed or a danger to you?”
“Well, no, he
wasn`t directly a danger to us, but if he had been able to escape, he could
have alerted other commuities of what was to happen, or if he were able to
contact a Mik Mak band, we`d have a huge problem to deal with. Also, when you
are a soldier, you can be ordered to do what ever an officer tells you to do.
If you refuse, the officer has the right to end you life with a pistol shot or
to be run through with his own sword. So there really wasn`t a way that I could
have refused the order.”
Chignecto falls next.
We then sailed
next towards Cobequid basin. These men now had relatives, neighbors and friends
who were now god knew where. There were even rumors that some ships may have
gone down at sea, it wasn`t unusual for ships to flounder in the gales that
blew this way in the fall. For us, we couldn`t be sure if the Acadians had
already heard about out attacks on other villages.
So, on the morning
of August 28, 1755,
Major Frye led a group of two hundred soldiers into the area. His orders were
to round up all the Acadians, and to take them back to FortEdward.
Later on, the livestock would come, but he was to search and then destroy the
homes of the Acadians. “Right men, let us proceed up the beach and meet with
these people. Kings forces fix bayonets.” All two hundred soldiers drew out
their 18 inch long bayonets and clicked them onto the muzzles of their muskets.
Sargeants, take your sections into the countryside and do your work. “Forward,
march”. The lone drummer began to beat out a cadence and the soldiers moved
into the village. Boshibert watched with his own fusil pointing out. As the
column of English moved into the village square he yelled out “Feu” and dozens
of muskets shattered the morning calm. Frye was astonished, and dressing his
men into lines, began to trade volleys with each house. The first French volley
had cut down ten of his men. As the musket balls flew, they would splinter off
the wooden homes adding flecks of wood into the mayhem of the scence. It was so
similar to all of the ambushes I have survived. We heard about what happened
then days later when Frye and his survivors made it back. In all 24 of his men
had been killed. A few Frenchmen had been seen to have been killed, but the
Acadians had been able to drag away their dead and wounded. Before leaving,
Frye and his men torched the village. Even the barns with their animals still
in them were set alight. “Better that France be deprived of supplies than
to gain by them” he was quoted as saying.
Euan took looked
into the eyes of his grandaughter. “Now when I tell you my stories, I want you
to remember that British officers who have never served here will do some
pretty stupid things. First of all, they will usually ignore the advice rangers
or senior colonial officers will give
them. There have been many times when British officers will under estimate
their enemy and I`m sure that it won`t be the last time that more British
soldiers will die because of the stupidity of their officers. See Frye had been
told to keep his men together as there would always be the chance that the
French, Acadian or Mik Maq would try and strike back upon us. After this
attack, the only success the British had were to find small hamlets that were
far from other settlements and remove them. It was interesting to note, that
when the troops decended on the Stewiacke and Shubenacadie areas, they only
removed the people. Being so close to the Mik Maq, the colonial officers knew
better than to advertise their presence by lighting fires.
“Well Euan, what
do thing they will send us to do now?” Gordon was picking his nails with his
knife. “It would be nice to get back to what we really do well, scouting out
what the Mik Maq are doing. I mean, we don`t need to concern ourselves with the
French around here now do we?”
“Aye now we don`t,
but Sargeant what do know what we`re to do now? Sargeant Annis took a pull from
his pipe and looked at the two rangers. “I guess you two haven`t heard now have
ya? Major Prebble`s made a dogs breakfast of deporting the Acadians down by
Caple Sable. His orders were to round up the Acadians, burn them out, and take
them to Boston.
But since they left in December and then all them New Englanders had their
enlistments up, he just torches a few buildings, fires some shots in the air I
suppose and sails back to Boston”.
“And how did you come about this news then Sargeant?” replied Euan. “The silly
fool sent a message to the authorities in Halifax
saying that the Acadians had escaped, now that means, we now have to go down
and comb the woods for them. I`d think our time would be better suited to watching
the Mik Maq and French at Louisbourg.
Now while we were out in the forests looking
for the Mik Maq, the German settlers were enjoying a good feed of wurst and
sauerkraut. Life for the Germans had been trying. They had uprooted from their
poverty in the Rhineland to take up a land
grants in the far off place of Nova
Scotia. Some had been an apprentices , but most had
fallen on hard times. Knowing that a life on the Rhine
would bleak, they took the chance to start a life in the new world. It was May
1756, the beginning of their fourth spring in Nova Scotia, and he had just finished
plowing the field. Tomorrow, they would begin to sow the cabbage and turnip
seeds the English had given them. Perhaps, they might also plant potatoes, if
only the English didn`t think them to be garbage.
cabbages to raising pigs, it had been hard work. It would have been easier too
if the land had been cleared for them first. But the price was good, so they
couldn`t complain. If only those men of the woods would leave us in peace.” “
They did have blockhouses which should have helped them.
The Mik Maqs would
watch the small farms from the safety of the forest. They were the advance
scouts of war parties. They were dressed for war. Each had painted their faces
half red and half black. They were wearing the clothes the French had given
them, and held with pride the Tulle muskets they had gotten in trade. Most
warriors had heeded the call of the Blackrobe Abbe Le Loutre and had takenthe faith of the holy creator.
Benard, my old
Mohician friend had spoken to some Mik Maq taken prisoner. They told him,“Those
white devils have fouled our hunting grounds with their wild animals and
cutting down all the trees. Mother earth would not be happy to see her land
torn up and planted with food she does not know.” The people far from here grow
corn much like these white men.” “But the difference is, they use the land
Mother Earth left open for us. We don`t go in and just destroy all the land to
make it into something it wasn`t. The holy father says, with each farm these
white devils build, it makes it harder for us to push them back into the sea. He
says it is not a sin to kill these white people. “I don`t mind killing the men,
but killing the women and children seems not to be the way that the Holy father
wants us to live.” “It`s no different from when we make war on other peoples
who have sided with the English. Though, we do tend to save the innocents to be
adopted into our clan. But the father says that we must do this, or we shall
perish in the white mans hell, instead of our paradise.”
The best way to
attack these farms was either at sunrise or after sunset. They could see the
family inside, it would be over fast.
The rest of the
war party arrived. Their leader Cope told them what to do.
“We shall attack
by knocking out their windows and then break down the door. Kill the man first,
the woman and child later.” “But sachem, why must we kill the woman and child,
we could take them to the French and get paid for them.” “They are not people,
they are devils, even those who look like our women and children are still
The war party
crept silently through the undergrowth. It was like stalking a moose. They all surrounded
the cabin. They could smell the disgusting food these devils ate. It was like
greasy bear but with a stink they couldn`t fathom. As one, they all gave a loud
war cry. At once, they could hear the woman and child scream with fright. They
poked their musket barrels into the cabin and fired. The guns did their job.
All they could hear was the screams of the child. They entered to find the man
slumped over the table, moaning in pain, having been hit in the back, his woman
lay on the floor trying to crawl towards the small boy, holding him close to
her, as though her feeble attempts at protection would keep him safe. The
warrior had taken out his long knife and quickly scalped the man, his howl of
pain only increased the child`s sceams. The woman looked up horrified
screeching. Goo Goo just looked on, his tomahawk in his hand, but he couldn`t
bring himself to kill these frightened people. “Goo Goo, kill them, their
screams will alert the other devils.” He was trembling with fear and disgust. “I
can`t kill them, they didn`t do anything to us” “They live, that`s enough of a
threat. Paul walked over and with his musket butt, hit the woman in the face
until she was dead. The boy kept howling. Paul took Goo Goo`s tomahawk, and
brought it down onto the boys body. The screams died along with the life of the
child. Goo Goo ran outside and vomited. The other warriors laughed at him. “What
are you, weak? Their scalps will give us a good bottle of brandy.” The other
warriors laughed and dragged the bodies of the devils out into the yard. They
then set fire to the cabin, after having taken anything they could that would
be valuable. For Goo Goo, he wouldn`t join anymore war parties. He couldn`t
stomach the thought of killing innocent children. No matter what he did, the
childs screams stayed with him forever. When Goo Goo went to mass, he always
said a prayer for the mother and child he had watch die. He always asked the
Great creator for absolution for his sin, but he felt, just by watching what
happened, he would never see the kingdom of heaven.
We could still see
the smoke still rising from the ruins of the cabin. We had traveled overland to
check on the German settlements. I still remember, the smell of burnt timber
and to see the horror that the sunrise had shown. “Ah Jesus have mercy” Gordon
cried. He ran over to the family to see if any of them still had life.
“Anne, I can still
hear Gordon`s horrified scream. I can still feel the tears of rage that fell
down my face. The warriors had scalped and left these poor souls in their yard
as a warning to the other settlers. Even when we attacked Mik Maq villages, we
never killed women and children. It would only enrage them more. We`d kill
warriors, but the Mik Maq were Hell bent on driving out the settlers. Their war
of terror kept us busy. Most of the rangers who would witness the aftermath of
these raids would react would be driven almost mad by these horrors. I`ve seen
grown men weep like overgrown children at the sight of dead children. I walked
up and held Gordon as his sobs subsided. “It`s alright Gordon, it wasn`t our fault,
we didn`t know the Mik Maq would attack them.” Ah but Christ Euan, how can they
do this?” “They hate all white people, they want to kill us all.” I looked down
at the dead child. He looked like he was sleeping. His hair what was left of
hit was tied in a neat club at it`s base, the rest had been stripped off so
that his tiny skull was open to the elements. He was wearing his night shirt,
which had been a cream linen color, but was now smeared with mud, soot and gore
from his body. I dug his little grave as the others dug the graves for his
mother and father. It took us most of the day.
It was a warm one
too, and between our tears, our gags from the smell and the buzz of the flies,
we gave them a Christian burial. We made 3 crosses for each grave. This is one
of the most horrifying memories I have. Then as we made our way up the coast to
stopped in MahoneBay to check on the
settlers there. Sure enough, the war party had hit again, this time the Payzant
family had been attacked, and we had to bury four more people. Two of the
victims were a servant and her child. How the tears of anger bristled on my
face. Here, this young girl had left her home far away to seek a better life,
only to have it ended by Mik Maq warriors who hated her and her child because
they were white.
War is not just two sides of soldiers who
stand in a line and fire at each other until one side runs away. In war,
everyone dies, not just soldiers! I`m telling you this story because I don`t
want you to see what I have. I don`t want you to suffer what I have. You should
find a good man, marry him, have children and build your own farm with you own
two hands, raise your crops, watch your children grow. I`ve had to miss
watching your father do many of the things I would have wished to have seen. I
never saw him begin to crawl, or walk or to hear his first word because I was
busy beating on my drum while fighting Americans in the South. They had to stay
in camp when we marched out. I was lucky enough to survive, I saw many widows
with their children in my time. In the army, women whose husbands were killed
had a day to find a new husband, and there was never a shortage of willing men.
In those days, marriages were out of necessity, not love. It was amazing though
to see how those marriages lasted.”
CHAPTER 6 NEW UNIFORMS AND NEW DUTIES
Anne got up off
her stool and put a few more logs on the fire. She got the tea pot and poured
some for her grandfather and himself. “What uniform did you wear then
Grandfather”. Euan smiled and began again.
government felt that by now our grey coats and red waistcoats had been through
enough, so we were issued with a new uniform. It was a short navy blue coat
faced with cornflower blue cuffs and lapels. We were also given a kind of small
kilt also in cornflower blue. It was more like an apron to help protect our
legs. We were given new black canvas leggings, and since most of our leather
equipment had worn out, we were given new powder horns, and new shooting bags.
A few of us kept our cartridge boxes. Of course, I still wore my bonny blue
bonnet, while Gordon got a new leather cap.
Our clothes were
almost in tatters. There was hardly anyway we could patch the patches we had.
With our new uniforms, we hoped that we`d be put to a better use than to round
up defenseless men, women and children to be sent to God knows where.
And so it came to
pass, that we went into winter quarters about November of 1756. We were posted
at Annapolis Royal as of course, we`d have to go out and chase down any more
Acadians, or Mik Maq or any French raiding parties that might be sent down from
either Quebec or Louisbourg. For most of the winter, we`d be able to rest up in
barracks. Of course, we`d also do patrols. It went along the lines of about
eighteen days in a fort, and then we`d go out on a patrol for fifteen days,
then go back to Annapolis Royal for a rest and then we`d go back out again.”
“But how`d you be
able to patrol in the winter?” Well, we`d use snowshoes and follow animal
tracks through the woods. We`d always look out for signs of any human activity
in the area. Tracking in the winter is the easiest as anything that moves will
leave a sign. Of course, the Mik Maq would try and cover their tracks as best
they could, but after a while, you could learn to read the tell tale signs that
humans had been through an area. Animals didn`t break tree branches the way
humans did, and no matter how careful skilled warriors were, there would always
be someone who would be lazy and leave some mark that they had been there.
Then we`d also go
out in our boats and go up and down the coast, .looking to see if there were
any Acadians trying to make it to French territory, or any enemy trying to
sneak past us. The Bay of Fundy never froze,
but the rivers did. We`d just sail up and at times we`d advance up a river with
ice creepers on our shoes to see what was up.
I always enjoyed
getting back to a nice warm dry barracks. At night, we`d be able to sit around
the common fireplace and someone would pull out a fiddle, a tin whistle and if
it was with me, my boran would beat out the rythum. It was those times that we
could forget for a few hours that we were soldiers who had to kill our fellow
man. The regular British soldiers found the winter to be the worst. Since they
didn`t have the skills we had, they just had to stay cooped up in the barracks
with only sentry duty to break up their mononoty. Any sentry in the winter time
is terrible. The wind just bites at you, robbing you of any warmth you have.
Most of the time, you were trying to keep yourself from freezing, let alone
making sure you were protecting the King`s men and his property. Manys a time
when I had to stand sentry thinking that King George was probably sitting
somewhere in front of a cozy fire drinking a good bottle of Maderia and not
giving a hoot about what Private Euan Kenny, Goreham`s Rangers was doing in the
colony of Nova Scotia. As rangers, we didn`t have to do sentry that often, but
there would be times that some of the garrison were too sick and we`d be called
up to do our part.
Doing sentry at FortEdward
was the worst. The wind would come off the Avon
river with a vengeance. The fort was on a high
point so of course we`d get all the blustery winds
blowing snow into our faces. At least the duty corporal would allow us a tot of
rum when we were relived at the end of our twenty-four hours on. It`s close to
impossible to see anything in a blinding blizzard at night, but you never
question your orders.”
puzzled. “But that doesn`t make sense Grandfather, if you can`t see and it`s
dark, what`s the point of being on guard duty?” “See that`s the kind of
thinking that got a lot of English soldiers killed. The officer would think the
French or Mik Maq wouldn`t attack in this, he`d go to bed, his soldiers would
be tipping back bottles of rum and in the dead of night, you`d have an attack
with most everyone sleeping off a night of drinking. Here in Nova Scotia, it
was always considered frontier, and thus the smart officers and us rangers
would be standing there with the wind in our teeth making sure that those
buggers who were asleep drunk, would wake up with hangovers and be thankful
that they actually live to see the day with bloodshot eyes rather than missing
their hair and watching their blood ooze out onto the cold snow.
When the spring
arrived, we went back on the offensive. We went up into the Mik Maq country
around the Shubenacadie river. We had been following on the heels of a war
party for sometime. We knew the Mik Maq had several encampments on that river
because it went right through the middle of the colony and there were many
places that were sheltered and provided natural protection and plenty of food.
We found the war party in a small bend in the river, with a natural beach that
they could land their canoes and set up their wigwams.
The campsite had
no doubt been a place for these people to rest for many generations. As we went
closer, we could smell the aroma of roasting moose meat. The warriors had
gotten one and were celebration the spirit of the moose as well as their own
success of the hunt.” “But how did you know that Grandfather, did you learn Mik
Maq?” “You forget that we had Benard, our Mohician in the rangers. He would
explain to us what the Mik Maq were doing. They were singing and dancing around
the fire. Their drummer was thumping on a drum similar to my boran, and their
song was like a yelping cry. It made the hair stand up on the back of your
neck. We checked our priming powder in our flashpans, and quietly cocked the
hammer back. When the Mik Maq had stopped singing, Captain Goreham yelled “FIRE”.
Thirty muskets spoke out at once. The thunderous roar echoed through the trees
and the powder smoke gently lifted to show what we had accomplished. Most of
the warriors lay on the ground. We had loaded with buckshot and a musket ball
to give us a first fire advantage. Since they were all in a packed group, and
they didn`t think we had been following them, they had become careless and in
their haste to enjoy their moose, they became lax in their protection. We
quickly moved in to check on how many were left. I found two warriors, one was
lying on his back, the blood was spurting out from his wounds with every
breathe he exhaled. I could hear his friend, who was also badly wounded calling
out his name, Goo Goo. The young warrior who lay dying looked into my eyes with
a pleading to help him. I knelt down and took his hand. I was surprised when he
said to me in French, “I`m sorry we killed the little ones and their mothers, I
didn`t want to. The warrior next to Goo Goo tried to swat my hand away, only to
have the back end of a tomahawk smack his head. Goo Goo cried out, “Paul, the
great creator didn`t want us to kill women and children, this is his judgement,
the rangers found us. The warrior reached for his knife but Private Willams
struck his head with a war club he carried. The sickening crunch of wood on
bone made me gag. I looked down at Goo Goo, and his eyes had already glazed
over, his spirit going to what ever heaven he believed in.
Our orders were to
leave the warriors intact. No scalps were to be taken. We did take all the
muskets, powder, flints and weapons we could find. Since there was already food
cooked, we just pulled out our plates and helped ourselves to the cornbread,
moose meat and berries they had for themselves.”
could you eat after killing” Anne`s face showed a mixture of horror and shock”.
“You see what I mean by my story, soldiers will eventually become dulled to the
savageness of war. I never had a problem with shooting an enemy at a distance.
For me, I`d just look at their hair, or the coats they were wearing. Grey,
white or blue coats were the enemy. Red, Green, or Brown were friends. I always
avoided close quarter fighting if I could help it. I wasn`t a coward, but I
didn`t like to see how a man, or boys life would end at the point of my knife
or the blade of my tomahawk. I always believed the same when I was hunting. One
shot, one kill. All these years later, I can still see the people who died because
I shot them. It`s not a pleasant memory, and this is why I`m telling you this.
About the same
time that we were fighting the Mik Maq, we got word from Halifax that war between Britain and France had
actually been declared on May
18, 1756! We were all astounded. “You mean to say that we weren`t
at war and were actually fighting?”yelled Gordon when we got the word in
garrison. Turns out, that what with what Washington did, and our attack on Fort
Beausour, and an aggressive British naval captain, we had started a conflict
between the two greatest powers of the 18th century, Britain and
France. Of course, we didn`t get the news until sometime in late July. We had
already been fighting. Over here, once British forces got the official word,
they really began to take on the offensive to defeat the French. As I said,
before some British Admiral had helped to spark the war in that back in 1755,
Boscawen fired on the French ships Lys nad
Alcide. Both ships were carrying French troops for both Quebec and Louisbourg.
At the same time
we were deporting the Acadians, the French in Europe
were preparing their own campaigns in the new war to come. When we got word of
the declaration of war, the French attacked Minorca
in the Mediterranean. Minorca
eventually fell to the French invasion and it also resulted in Admiral Byng
being hung for not fighting hard enough. With the new conflict, more troops
began to arrive for both sides. The French sent more soldiers to their main
bases and the British sent us more also. Our new job was to go out and patrol
in our boats up and down to coast to act as sea scouts. If we saw anything,
we`d run like hell to the nearest port and alert the British that French fleets
were on the way.
Around July 26, the
Royal Navy sailed towards Louisbourg. Our fleet numbered 4 ships of the line
and they were either to blockade Louisbourg, or fight any French ships they
came across. Well, the French Admiral was in a fighting mood. Over a period of
a week, the ships engaged each other. Finally the Royal Navy had to beat back
to Halifax as
HMS Jamaica had lost her main mast.
In our small schooner, we could only watch as
the pride of the Royal Navy sailed back, the sight of a mighty battleship minus
it`s main mast was a sad spectale. The French stayed in the area until August
and then sailed back to Europe. We watched as
one French ship sailed away. It was massive. The stern, with it`s quarterdeck
was close to five decks high and was covered in gold leaf! They were flying a
huge white ensign which was close to the size of a mizzen sail. “Would you look
at that Euan, I never thought I`d see the day we`d gaze upon a big golden arse
with frilly looking Frenchmen on the top”. We all fell about laughing out
bellies out. We were lucky in that no French vessels wanted to take us as a
The seasons kept
coming and going. Before I knew it, I was in my thirteenth year of service to
his majesty. We`d go out in the woods, patrol, hunt, and sometimes we`d have to
fight. But then in 1757, it all began to come together.
CHAPTER 6: THE
The government in London, with Lord Loudoun
had a new plan for war in the colonies.
past campaigns, they decided that instead of fighting in Europe,
they would do most of their fighting on this side of the Atlantic.
Loudoun was made
commander and chief of British forces in North America
and was determined to use as many resources as possible to make North America
English. For us, it meant that Louisbourg would be captured, followed by Quebec and then on to Montreal. The American
colonials would fight in their territories in order to drive out the French.
In June, 1757,
Loudoun had twelve thousand soldiers assembled at Halifax. Oh what a mighty looking fleet they
made as they sailed past Chebucto head and past MacNab`s Island. On board were
six battalions of British troops. The 44th and 48th from
their fighting in Pennsylvania,
the Royal Americans but most welcoming to me were the Scottish soldiers of the
78th Regiment. It had been a long time since I had seen fellow Celts
arrive on our shores.
With all these
soldiers, they needed to be in camp. We helped to set up the twelve hundred
tents for the new soldiers. One of the surprises we had was that Sgt. McPherson
came up from FortAnne to volunteer to join
the 78th. When I spoke with him, he was using his gaelic as part of
the reason he was joining the new Highland
regiment was the need to have men who could speak both English and Gaelic. As
the ships began landing their troops, we could hear the skirl of bagpipes. It
brought tears to my eyes as it had been so long since I had heard them played
by other soldiers besides my father. The new highland soldiers uniforms were
grand to see. Each man wore a red coat faced off white, with a green tartan
set. They wore hose of red and white dicing and most had sporrans of leather.
Besides the musket and bayonet, each men seemed to have a dirk, a highland
pistol and a broadsword! Their bonnets of blue completed their uniform and they
really were a sight to see.
As well as the
soldiers who came with the army, there were several hundred campfollowers who
also came with the troops. The were six women per company and since there were
about twelve thousand men, it meant there were a little over three hundred
women and children who came with the army. Halifax at the time only numbered less than
two thousand people! So with this army came almost a new city.
were sent to Halifax to help train the soldiers who would be attacking
Louisbourg. With all the tent lines, it reminded me of when I had joined in Ireland. And
once again, we were busy. Our good Captain Goreham spoke to us when we
assembled at FortSackville.
will be assisting General Loudoun`s army by first constructing the defenses
around the camps and acting as an enemy force for when they do begin attacks.
As well, since Louisbourg is on the ocean, we will have to learn how to assault
their beaches and possibly help man the guns. Therefore, every ranger who has
had some gun experience, will train with the Royal Artillery. Who will
“I will sir” I
spoke up. “Count me in as well” hollored Gordon. “I suspect that learning the
bigger guns will be a bit different from our swivels on the boats eh Euan?”
“Aye, added to the
fact that we`ll be learning from Royal Artillery NCO`s and they might not like
that mere colonial troops will be learning how to use these guns.” “Well I hope
that we can do other stuff besides digging trenches, building forts, anything
will do so long as we also get the chance to kill some Frenchmen.” Gordon was
all keen for fighting. I guess we all were.
Our first lesson
on the guns was with a young corporal named Culligan. I had hoped that a fellow
Irishman would take kindly to a fellow member of his race, but I was soon to
learn that he was a most strict fellow.
hell man, when I say ram, why in Christ are you putting your hands around the
stave of the rammer. If the gun goes from a spark inside, you`ll loose both of
them you idiot” Now I wasn`t a complete stranger to cannons having loaded and
fired the swivel guns on the boats, but then again, they were a bit smaller. It
took me about two days to finally figure out what the hell I was doing
wrong.Each time, Cpl. Culligan would
yell until he was purple in the face and he threw down his tricon and stomped
in disgust. Sargeant Hall eventually watched what I was doing and then
mentioned “Kenny use your fingers to reef the rammer out, that way if it does
goes off, you only loose your finger tips.” “Jesus what in blazes has him all
in a stew” wondered Gordon.
Then after we had
learned how to load a field piece, we then had to learn how to fire and run the
gun in and out of an embrasure in the field fortifications we were going to
build for siege works. The field pieces such as a six pound gun, could be
crewed by 6 men. But the larger heavy guns such as the twelve pounders needed
six men to operate it, but also six others to aid in pivoting the gun. Then
there were the guns on naval carriages which were also heavy. Many a day Gordon
and I spent learning how to use handspikes to run the gun out and back. We were
trained on the guns for about ten days before we began to do other jobs.
Lucky for us, the
other rangers had been busy building the breastworks to surround the camps in
case the Mik Maq wanted to harass us. We built palisades, ramparts and
redoubts. We prepared fascines and gaibons much like what we had done at FortAnne
back in 1744. This work I remembered well, and the soldiers didn`t need to to
be told that this work would protect us from French artillery fire.
In the evenings,
in our camps, each tent would have to make our own meals. There was still
relatively fresh pork and beef from what we took from the Acadian farms. Many a
night we ate stew as it was the best way to protect ourselves from disease.
Grog sellers and other forms of entertainment made their way into our lines. At
times the officers tried to stop them, but eventually, they could see that
having the soldiers provided for with wine women and song, would protect the
town more than by halting it. After we ate, I`d pull out my boran, some other
soldiers would dig out tin whistles, bones or fiddles and we`d sing together
again just like in the barracks.
One soldier began “There`s
a pubice in the garden where the lads and lassies meet for it would not do to
do the do their doing in the streets. And the very first time I saw I was very
much impressed for to see the jolly fellows at the Coo Coo`s nest”
All of us howled
with laughter. Since most of us didn`t have wives or sweethearts, we would
sometimes sing about girls. I remember Gordon got up with his cup and gave a
toast. To finding enough French lassies for the army!”
To help us
remember what to do, a Corporal had come by and sang us “A stands for attention
the first word he knows and B stands for bullet to tickle his foes. C stands
for the charge which the Frenchmen all dread and D for discharge which lays
them all dead Derry down, hey down derry down.”
So to help us in
our work, we began to sing these songs as we dug new fortifications to use to
attack, and also when we had to march. It gave us a spirit that we would be
able to attack and capture Louisbourg.
“You know Gordon,
for all the work we are doing, I don`t really see the point. It`s August and we
haven`t sailed up there yet. I wonder what`s the hold up?” “Your right my
friend, but these British officers probably don`t know their arse from a whole
in the ground when it comes to fighting war here in America. I mean so far Braddock got
topped, I hear Minorca was captured, and all
we`ve done is round up the Acadians to send away. The war isn`t going so well.
Maybe they think we`ll attack in the winter?”
About the end of
August, the British fleet arrived. Loudoun was frustrated with his naval
commander Admiral Holbourne. Holbourne had been chasing French vessels across
the North Atlantic and had begun to blockade
Louisbourg. However, in mid September, we had an event that put all these plans
The skies had been
growing grey for several days, and the winds had been dying down. The air
became oppressive with the wetness of the sea. Our sweat wouldn`t roll off out
bodies and it became a terrible feeling to be hot without an ability to cool
It was around September
20th that a good old fashioned hurricane decided to drop by. Now
that was a storm. The winds had begun to steadily build up and we could see the
tree leaves turning up to the sky as if praying to God for the rain. The tents
that had not been pegged down hard began to fall down, and we spent most of the
time putting out the fires in the pits. The navy was busy tying up their boats
or sailing them into BedfordBasin. The soldiers were
trying to build shelters as fast as they could for it was best to be in a hut
rather than a tent in a bluster. When it came, the wind and waves smashed a
bunch of small craft up onto the beaches and many a tree came crashing down. A
few soldiers were killed when trees fell on their shelters. We all got drenched
as though our officers had ordered us to march into the harbor.
The Navy bore the
brunt of the storm. Most of the fleet which had been blockading Louisbourg were
blown all around the Atlantic. Some sank, but
the end result was that Loudon`s grand scheme was ruined. We`d trained and prepared
all summer to attack a fortress and now, most of our gunpowder was ruined, our
transports blown about, and the fall coming on fast. With what little ships he
had left, Holbourne loaded up the 44th, 46th and 78th
Regiments to winter in New York
The 60th were left in Halifax
as there was sufficient barracks and stores for these two battalions plus the
original garrison. We went back to FortSackville.
Now maybe I should
tell you a little more about FortSackville. We had built
the place just after Halifax
was established. I guess we must have built it around 1750. We built a barracks
and palisade and dug a bit of a ditch. It was one of the places we had to
fortify as the Mik Maq and French could use the Sackville river to try and
by coming up the basin shore. It was a typical frontier style fort of the time.
We made it as cosy as we could when we were in garrison. It was placed on a
hill over looking the river that would bear the same name and also overlooked
the further most part of the harbor
of Halifax. Since we had
time on our hands, we`d get news and stories from the other soldiers. During
the summer, while we were training the regular troops in Halifax, Lt. Dickson led a patrol of 25
rangers from FortCumberland. He had heard
that a French and Mik Maq, or Malecite camp was in the area close to the fort.
They marched to there and found it abandoned. While crossing the Aulac river,
they were ambushed. It must have been a devasting little skirmish as we got a
report that Dickson was now a prisoner and was somewhere in Quebec. Another patrol had been sent out and
found all the rangers. Most had died from musket balls, but a few had been
scalped. Even though there were so many British soldiers in the area, the
French and Indians were still able to keep us penned inside out forts, too
afraid to move outside the walls. Later on, we also heard that another wood
cutting party had been ambushed near FortAnne at the same place
the French and Indians had attacked by in 1711. The soldiers started calling
that place Bloody Creek. It turns out that the Acadians who had gotten “lost”
had in fact formed up with some Mik Mak further inland and were now going to
keep the garrison penned up in FortAnne.
CHAPTER 7, 1758: The Europen style of war begins.
The waves were
lapying up onto the beach at Halifax.
The wind blew through the pine and evergreen trees. Even though Halifax had exhisted for
almost a decade, it was still a remote outpost of the growing British
empire. Out of the morning mists, the fishermen could see the
shapes of vessles sailing into the harbour. As they came closer into the
harbor, it seemed as if the whole town came out to watch this large flotilla.
“Blimey Euan, did
they send the whole Royal Navy and British army to here?” Gordon just looked at
the sight. “You know what this means, we`ll be building more camps and barracks
in the next little while.” Euan chuckled. “At least we don`t have to worry
about the Mik Maq for a bit. With all this might, they will no doubt partake to
the trees as far away from us as they can.”
The ships were
filled with soldiers and sailors. Coming closer to land, the sailors were a lot
in the rigging shortening sails and the soldiers were lining up along the
rails, waiting to climb down the rope ladders and into the boats to land on the
shore. At first, George`s Island took as many as they could, but as the morning
went on, more and more redcoated troops were marching up to the Grand parade
and waited while the bells of St. Pauls chimmed. The troops in garrison had
already prepared for the expected arrival of the troops in New York from the previous year. The commons
had been cleared of trees and brush to make way for an army of over twelve
It took close to
three days to land all the troops. In all, fourteen battalions from thirteen
The most senior
regiment was the senior regiment of all of the British Army. The First Foot, a
proud regiment of Scotsmen marched up the streets in their redcoats and blue
facings. They stood out in their blue breeches as well. Their music led the way
looking dignified in all their marital splendor.
The Fifteenth Foot
came next with their yellow facings. Then the Seventeenth in white, the 22nd
in buff, the 28th also in yellow.
Regiment came in with their red and orange coats. This regiment had served at
Fort William Henry and had survived a terrible battle. Most of the soldiers
wanted to talk to them to hear first hand if the stories of the massacre were
true. We were all sitting around a roaring fire one night in a pot house below
the main fort in Halifax.
One young soldier who had witnessed it began to speak and his audience was held
in silence as he told of the event. A French and Indian army had left Quebec and attacked the
new British fort of Fort William Henry in New York in the summer. This fort was
located on Lake George and was besieged by the
Marquis de Montcalm. “Montcalm marched a large army from Quebec. They say he had over three thousand
regular French soldiers, close to three thousand French militia, two hundred
artillerymen and almost two thousand native warriors. They arrived in July and
entrenched themselves in the heights around the fort. During the day and night,
the French built siege trenches to move their large guns into positon to
bombard the fort. We heard that eight hundred soldiers worked every day on the
trenches. By the beginning of August, they had their mortars in place and began
to fire on the fort and our camp. We couldn`t believe that the main force of
the British were actually outside the walls. It was easy for the French and
Indians to fire into the camp. We could see that the French were bringing up
large guns. Most of us had never experienced a siege or a large battle.
TheFrench fired mortars which dropped
explosive rounds right into the fort convinced Colonel Munro to surrender. The
French only had to fire one volley from these guns. We could hear them roaring
through the night sky and when they exploded, everything around them were blown
to pieces. I saw some of my mates turn into stew pretty fast. The wooden walls
and ramparts burst apart and the women and children were screaming something
“Jesus Euan, a
British officer had to surrender? Gordon looked awestruck. “It`s bad enough
when we get whipped in an ambush but for a large army to surrender”
continued. “Well if that wasn`t bad enough, Montcalm made a peace deal with
Munro and we were allowed to leave the fort with the honors of war. But the
Indians didn`t see it that way. As our army and the campfellowers moved out,
the Indians waited until we got to a meadow area and then pounced on us!”
A loud gasp
escaped from the lips of all the soldiers in the barracks. “What the hell
happened” one young drummer squeaked. “In a period of twenty minutes around
five hundred men women and children were killed or captured. Of course the French
could head the screams and our firing and rushed down to stop their native
allies. When they did arrive, the twenty one nations of warriors had to be held
back at the point of French bayonets.”
nations, how in God`s name did they get so many warriors.” “I suppose that the
French went about and called in all their favors to get warriors. That`s a big
army. If we ever have to attack Quebec, that`s what we`ll face.”
One of the
soldiers from the 58th Regiment inquired “how many nations do we
face here in Nova Scotia?”
I replied “no need to worry about those large numbers, there`s only two in this
area, the Mik Maq and Malecite. However, I`d worry about any warrior you see.
When they send you out to cut firewood, you better hope we see them before they
see us. When Indians do attack, they do so with speed and terror.”
“Why in God`s name
didn`t Montcalm control the warriors?” Anne cried. “Surely he must have thought
that they would plunder the retreating army or kill them.”
“You must remember
Anne that European officers see war in a different way that we do. For them,
war has a set of rules where you don`t attack women and children. All armies
are supposed to abide by the gentlemen`s code of conduct. European armies are
dressed in fancy looking uniforms with their colors flying, their fifers and
drummers playing and war is fought in good weather. But here in the colonies,
war is a different thing. No one is safe. Men, women and children all become
victims. Europeans and Natives kill each other over land, trade, or just plain
As I was from a lower class in society, I
wasn`t surpised with some of the things we were ordered to do. Even though my
father was an officer, he was looked down upon by the other officers as he was
not born into that society. It didn`t matter that Lindsay was brave, or that he
had skills to keep his men from being killed. His uniform was the cheapest an
officer could buy and even at that, Lindsay had spent more money on that
uniform than he had earned in five years.
They said Montcalm
was a soldier not a butcher. He had experience fighting big battles in Europe and he was smart. Despite what he must have thought
of his colonial troops, he used their skills with efficiency and blended both
European tatics with Native ways to form an army that was able to capture a
British fort, defeating it`s garrison of regular British soldiers and laying
waste to the lands the English had settled.
Most of those
settlers were in fact indentured servants. The same people I had almost become.
How sad it was to think that all of the heartache they went through, selling
themselves into bondage for seven years, only have to hack out their homes in
the forests of the frontier living as best they could. But for them, they were
proud to have their freedom and the satisfaction of knowing that they land they
worked on was for them, not to a master. Most of them never knew that the lands
they were settling on had been hunting and gathering grounds for native peoples
for hundreds of years. The war parties who would strike though were bent on
hatred at Europeans who had stolen their lands. The war with the French and
Indians changed everyones world forever.”
As the days
passed, we found more and more different uniforms. The 58th looked
strange with their black facings. They were a new regiment that had been raised
to fight in this war. Most of the lads signed up knowing they would fight
Frenchmen, but didn`t dream that they would be sent here. There had been some
expeditions into France,
but they were costly to mount, both in men and material for little profit.
There were two battalions
of the 60th Royal Americans. These were also a new regiment which
were raised from Swiss immirgrants and a few American settlers. There uniform
was similar to the 1st regiment what with their red coats faced blue
and blue breeches. With the 40th,
45th and 47th already in garrison, it looked like a sea of English
men had arrived. But then I heard a sound that made my heart leap and my eyes
The skirl of the
great highland bagpipe proclaimed to Halifax
that a regiment of highlanders had arrived. The 78th Regiment, the
Fraser`s Highlanders marched up into the town. They wore shortened red coats
faced white, wearing a deep green tartan set in their kilts. They wore blue
bonnets and carried muskets, broadswords, dirks and some had pistols as well.
The officers marched with tall black feathers in their bonnets. They were the
biggest regiment of all, with twelve hundred men. The shop keepers, grog shops
and the town wenches had grand visions in their eyes, knowing quite well that
such a large army would keep them in business for quite some time.
troops only spoke Gaelic so it was fun to speak to them in my old language.
There`s only a wee bit of difference with Scotch and Irish. Gordon and I paid
them a visit in their camp. Since they were not English, the rest of the army
didn`t want anything to do with them.
One soldier James
Cameron we got to speak with a bit. “Welcome to Halifax friend, how can we help you?” “Well,
I don`t suppose we could get some sheep to make into haggis now do you? I
chuckled “I think we can get you something of that sort. What do you have in
trade for us?” The highlander pulled a clay jar from the folds of his belted
plaid and we sniffed it. “Alright, whiskey”, exclaimed Gordon. We got a few
sheep that had been take from the Acadians and passed them over to the Fraser`s.
“Cameron, how did ye come to be in the army?” “Well, my family was pretty much devastated
by the rebellion where we helped somebody from over the water.” “Well who was
that then?” I smacked Gordon on the back. “You idiot, if we says his name all of
us can be flooged for mentioning the name.” Of course Anne, we were talking
about the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie. Cameron told us his story. “I
had been called up with my Da as part of our clan to serve our chief at
Culloden. That was hell. Forty minutes of British muskets, cannons and horse
killed our dream of a Stuart king forever. My Da died of his wounds in prison
in Inverness. I was held for two years and
then let go. By the time I was 22, our old clan officers came though our
village saying that we could wear our kilts again, play our pipes, carry our
broadswords and speak our language if we joined King George`s army to fight the
French in America. Seeing as we didn`t have much in Scotland, we took the chance to
leave and gain some of our pride back. So here we are.”
“I guess we`re in
the same boat. I`ve been here fourteen years and I`ve seen my fair share of
what glory fighting for our king can be. We`ll keep you safe, if you fight like
I know your people can.” “Och aye, we know how to fight, we just want to have
the chance to kill to rid ourselves of the shame of defeat.”
As well as the
soldiers, like all armies there were women and children who had followed them.
They were the same type of women and wee ones who had been with the army the
previous year. However, the commanding officers decreed that any women found in
camp who were no on the lists of the regiments would be severely punished, ie
flogged. If the same woman was found in camp again, she would be shot. There
were strict rules that they had to follow as though they were soldiers
themselves. For instance, did you know Anne that if a campfollower overcharged
for their washing or mending services, or who sold liquor without permission,
she could be either drummed out of camp, flogged or hung. Since Halifax was such a small
place, the officers had to keep the army in tight discipline.
Even though it was
a small town, with all the soldiers arriving, parts of the town began to open
up trades that are not so good. Soldiers get bored very easily, so all kinds of
shops began to open up to give them something to do, but also for the merchants
to make money off the soldiers and sailors.
“What kinds of
shops did they open Grandfather?” “Grog shops mostly, which is to say any place
that served rum, beer or wine. The worst, was the Gin shops. Gin was very
cheap, cheaper than beer, and it drove us to do stupid things. After I had
gotten drunk at FortAnne, I vowed to keep
myself in check from drinking too much. Often times, we`d be sent on picket
duty, and we`d have to pull soldiers out of the pubs and shops.
“What were the
shops like Grandfather, were they like when we have a celideh? No dear, they
were much worse. You`d have soldiers and regular people pushed in together
drinking, singing, and then fights would break out. Or there would be men who
would want to kiss many girls. If you kiss a boy too much, you`ll get black
marks on your skin.
I never wanted to
kiss a girl who I didn`t know, I always wanted to kiss someone who I could
love. But soldiers get lonely and when they drink, it happens.
have ladies come into the camps secretly. They`d bring in barrels of gin, or
other grog. Once, when I was on sentry duty in our camp, a woman who was with a
little boy walked in. She was going to have a baby, and her tummy was big. Now
back then, I didn`t know much about how women could have babies, so I let the
lady in. She said she was the wife of a ranger and that she had just come into
port looking for him.
Well after a bit,
the area of Starks Rangers tents began to become louder and boisterous. Lt.
Lindsay, who was now one of Scott`s Light Infantry officers, led those sentries
who were not on duty to find out what the commotion was about. As we came
around the corner, rangers scattered and we found the little boy outside the
tent crying and finding that a ranger was inside the tent with his mother. They
were kissing and hugging each other, but I knew that this soldier wasn`t
married. On coming up to the boy, Lt. Lindsay picked him up and cuddled him. He
wasn`t more than 2. He had been sitting on a grog barrel which had bits of rope
about it. Lt. Lindsay signaled to Gordon and I to pull out the ranger by his
feet. We grabbed hold and yanked him out. The man`s breeches were about his knees.
The woman began to screech and yell. When Lindsay cocked his pistol and pointed
it in her face, she became silent. We held the man by each arm, he was
thrashing about. “That`s me wife you bugger.” “Is that so, well then, what`s
her name? If we find it on the soldier`s wife list, she can stay, but hey now,
you`re a ranger. Ranger`s don`t have wives do they?” The soldier began to sober
up quickly.” “Private Kenny, did this woman enter the camp earlier?” “I remember
seeing a woman with child sir, with a wee little boy. That`s the boy, and the
woman does look familiar but sir, where is her baby?” Lindsay gave me the boy,
and with his tomahawk, he whacked the cask the boy was sitting on. Out trickled
her grog. “Why tiss Ladies delight. Now miss, perhaps we`ll have a search about
your pocket and see how much of the king`s shillings you`ve coaxed out of our
men.” With the loaded pistol in her face, there was not much she could do. A
search of her reveled that she had about 3 pounds in coin, a Ladies pistol and
on her skin were rope marks where she had tied the cask to herself. Women were
not supposed to enter the camps. I lost a weeks pay for not checking her
status. The woman was thrown in the whirly gig and spun until she vomited up
the grog she had been drinking. The little boy was in fact a wee lad she had
gotten from St. Paul`s parish. She told us the story that she had gone to the
church inquiring if there was a boy of about 2. She mentioned that she had
given birth to a boy 2 years previous but he`d gone missing. After getting the
boy, she went about with him to begg for coin, then moving up until she then
was able to get the cask and fill with grog. She then decided that she would
row out to soldier`s camp and using the boy would sneak into the camp and sell
the grog and herself to any soldier.
“What happened to
the little boy Grandfather?” Why he`s your Uncle Fred. Lindsay and his wife
took the boy in and raised him. Fred was a smart one too. They raised him up
and with learning he became an adjutant in the army.
“That woman sounds
like an awful person Grampie, how could she do that?” Euan took a look at his granddaughter
and sighed. “Anne, not all people are bad. Bad things happen to them, and they
are forced to do things that other people find horrible. If you have no work,
you can`t buy food. If the woman`s family didn`t help her, she had to help
herself. What she did was wrong, but in the end, Fred turned out ok. He passed
away some time ago, but he was a happy man because he had a mother to love him.
“Is Halifax a bad place
Grandfather?” “Heavens no, it`s a little rough around the harbor, but that`s to
be expected in a port. The docksides are where sailors live and work, FortGeorge
is where the soldiers live. And everyone else lives in the middle. There are
more people there, so sometimes you get a real mix of people. After all I have
seen in my life, I don`t think people are born bad, they may turn out bad, but
it`s all due to our choices in our life. If you choose to buy a cup of gin
rather than work, then that`s why people are poor.
As more of the
troop ships arrived from England,
New York or Boston, the soldiers
contained inside were to stay in them until the fleet would sail for
Louisbourg. However, they would be disembarked and marched and trained around
the town. At the end of each day, small boats would put out from the shore and
take the soldiers back to their transports. The ships had begun to arrive in
late April and into May they kept coming.
were varied. General Jeffery Amherst was an English officer He had been a
Colonel of the 15th Regiment and had been sent to Germany. But
the Duke of Cumberland had been defeated by the French and Amherst had been given the chance to command
the army to attack Louisbourg. He was a good choice because he could get the
job done, and he was able to keep his other officers happy. A lot of times, we
could see that officers whose pride got in the way of their work, led us to our
deaths. But Amherst
was not like that.
James Wolfe was
our second in command. He was a smart man and he made sure that we knew what we
would do in our campaign against the French city. He was responsible for
getting us to train to fight together. Our old governor Charles Lawerence was
also chosen as a brigade commander. His work in the deportation proved to the
government in London
that he would no doubt be able to assist Amherst
in organizing and sending the expedition up to Louisbourg. General Whitmore was
also sent, and we were surprised as he was an older man.
The most suprising
fact for us was Amherst
dislike of us. He understood that war in America was fought differently than
in Europe but felt that our demenour was not
the same as regular troops. However, Captain Goreham held a King`s commission
and our regiment was granted the rare honor to be included in the expedition.
We only had Dank`s Rangers company, and James Rogers company. Captain Scott,
who had been so keen in the deportation was made our brigade commander. He was
a tough hard bugger and from my younger days, I found him to be too proud.
However, as a soldier, you never have a choice of what to do, only follow the
orders that your officers give you.
“Alright you lazy
lot,” Captain Scott addressed us “your to be part of General Amherst`s
Provisional Light Infantry Battalion for this campaign. As such, you will help
train and pick out the best soldiers from each regiment present. Each regiment
will supply fifty men, the Highlanders will provide one hundred as there are so
many of them. Captain Goreham,” “Sir” came his reply “You will establish a
training area on McNab`s island. You will build mock defenses the French may
have at Louisbourg, as well, you will also build a skill at arms range to test
the soldiers.” “Yes sir”. “Rangers, I have served along side you in Nova Scotia, but you
will have to earn the trust of your officers to be included in this campaign.
There will be no larking about, any man who does not do his duty shall be
flogged and left out of this expedition. You have your orders, now dismiss.”
“Well how do you
like that Euan, these damm officers think they are better than us.” “What else
is new Gordon, officers always treat us like this.” “Not Goreham, he respects
our opinions and treats us with respect.” “Ah but you forget, Goreham is not considered
a proper gentleman by the English officers. He`s in the same boat as us. A mere
colonial officer, who the English believe to be just a trumped up majestrate.”
“When we were
musted with the other ranger companies, we were given a uniform look. As I may
have mentioned before, out new uniform consisted of a black waistcoat faced
blue with a blue bonnet much like the Highlanders had and black leggings. The
rest of our clothing was whatever we had. Some of us had shirts of buff, white
or checked patterns. Our breeches were a variety of colors that blended well
with our tasks in the forests. Mostly white, but a few brown. We never wore red
because that would stick out in the forest. All the Light infantry apart from
the regulars wore this uniform. The regular troops would be issued with
shortened red coats, and black jockey style caps. The Highlanders kept their
kilts but had shorter ones made, and their coats, already short were altered to
just a matter red with extra pockets added. To protect their legs, they had leggings
that went up under their kilts.
Now despite all
this new work we had, it was a lot of fun. We had to teach the skills to these
new soldiers of how to fight war, our way. The first task was to see which
soldiers could shoot well, being the ones who could actually hit a target at a
hundered paces. Those who could were singled out, and we then moved along to
showing them how to throw their tomahawks and knives. Their swords were put in
storage and the knives and tomahawks were issued from stores. The soldiers who
had passed the shooting test we then trained in how to spot the enemy, build
shelters and basic Indian fighting tatics. We had to do all these in a rush for
General Amherst wanted our army to advance on Louisbourg before the summer
ended. He would have liked to have begun in April, but we had to wait until all
the troops and ships arrived.
All the selected
soldiers stood rigidly at attention as Captain Goreham began his orders to
them. “You men have shown that your skills with the musket are better than any
other soldiers in this army. We will teach you how to properly fight the French
and Indians at Louisbourg. You will follow one of our rangers through the woods
trail and engage targets in the forrest. These are placed to how you might
encounter them in the woods. You have to show us that you have a blanket, a
source of food, a tomahawk, a working musket, water, a knife, ammunition either
in cartridge boxes or shot bags and powder horns.
I took a selection
of men with me. Each of them fired at the target and missed. “What are you all
thick as cheese? You hit your targets on the first range. If you can do it
there, you can do it here as well.” “But Ranger Kenny, we can`t see the target”
answered one of the 58th privates. “Watch this then.” I raised my
musket and looked at my target. We had painted up boards to look like French
soldiers. Most of the soldiers we knew were from the Compaigne Franches de La
Marines. It was easy to aim for them in the gloom of the forest. Their blue
waistcoats would still show up depending on the time of day. I placed the butt
of the musket to my shoulder and using the bayonet lug, I placed my mark on the
target by looking at the centre framed by his cartridge box on his shoulder
sling and his bayonet and tomahawk on his waistbelt. I looked for the brass
buckle and took a deep breather. As I exhaled, I squeezed the trigger and flash
bang, my target went down. When I went to raise it up, I saw that I had put the
bullet dead centre of the soldiers body. I actually hit about five centimeters
up from where I had aimed but no matter, if it had been a soldier, my shot
would have killed him.
So all the soldiers
tried again. Most of the shots hit the target but no one else hit near my mark.
As the walk continued, they got better at seeing the targets. We came to
another target. This one was for our knives and tomahawk. If we could hit the
card on the tree, it would be a pass. I split my card, but the new soldiers all
missed. We went through again and again until they could all split the card.
“Right, you can
shoot, you can throw your knives and tomahawks and hit your targets. If however
you find yourselfs in the position of having to fight your enemy one on one,
these next techniques will help you survive and win.” Gordon and I had some
wooden tomahawks and knifes carved up. We held a weapon in each hand and then
set into each other. I was able to block away most of Gordon`t blows and when
he chaged me, I ducked low and as his back was turned, I hit his back. “if you
are hit in the back, the next hit will be the warrior slicing off your scalp to
which they will trade for a bounty the French will pay them. Always watch your
back. You have to try and hit your enemy in the chest, or gut. You have to try
and block their attacks as well. Right, each soldier get yourselves a weapon
and let`s begin.”
For the rest of
the day, these men whacked and beat each other until most of them were black
and blue. “This training will hurt, but if you can feel pain, you are still
By the end of our
training, we had a skill at arms day. Each soldier who was chosen to be a new
light infantryman, or chosen men as they liked to call themselves would compete
and test the skills we had just taught them. We set up a woods walk, with
targets to shoot, we had tomahawk and knife throwing targets, we even had an
area where they had to show us how to light a fire without showing too much
At the end of the
day, we sat around the campfire and shared stories of our home country and of
what we had been through here.
Conlon spoke up. “Jesus Marry and Joseph most of us in the 58th
boarded our ship in Cork
and were sick as dogs. Not only was it the sea sickness but then a bunch of the
lads got fevers. By the time we got here in Halifax, a lot of us were sick. Being out in
this fresh air does a man good. I hope that what we learned here will keep us
alive when we head for Louisbourg.”
you`ve mentioned that there were woman with the army, but you`ve never
mentioned any women following you.”
Euan chuckled “well
you see Anne, the nature of our way of fighting meant that we didn`t march and
camp like the rest of the army. As you may have guessed, our camps were usually
made from lean tos made in the forest or sometimes nothing but our own
blankets. Now an interesting part of being in a large military camp was that we
had to feed ourselves. Each tent would get their rations from the quartermaster
and then we`d have to prepare it up. Now usually we did these up on our own without
much fuss, make a small fire, put our tea pot on, maybe one of us had a small
pot to make a stew but that was usually it. But in a large camp, we had to do
more than that. Just about the time before we began to embark for Louisbourg, I
was put on a fatigue detail. I had to help cook the food for the army. Now the
first time I had cooked was when I was about 13 when I was in garrison in FortAnne.
For our meat ration, we were given sausages. Corporal Nickerson told me that
I`d have to fry them up. So I took a fry pan, put it on the grate and put the
sausages in the pan. They fried and sizzled along, and then when I was going to
take them out, they stuck to the pan. I was confused. “Aye Euan, you didn`t add
any fat to the pan. Those fellows are not worth serving to the officers. You`ll
have to eat them. I was able to save them for my mess later. So all those years
later in Halifax,
you can understand how anxious I was.
We had to stoke
the fire pits well, getting a nice bed of coals ready so that the ladies and
soldiers could begin to bake the bread we would eat. Now we could bake corn
bread or whole wheat using the dutch ovens we had. We`d get a good bed of coals
ready, nice red hot and then over time put hot coals in the top of the cover.
When they turned black, we`d replace them. One fire pit was used just to bake
the bread. Other pits were used to boil water for tea or other things, other
pits would be where the soups and stews were made. A few had spits of meat as
well, but these would be added to the stews later on. Or the officers would get
“What did you use
to cook on then” Anne asked. “The same as now. Cast iron pots and pans, trivets
and fire irons. Much like when we cook outside in the summertime. Sometimes we
have a two bit spit with a small roast on it just slowly mellowing by the fire.
It was hot, hard, dirty work, but it gave us pleasure to see the men eat what
we made for them.
Of course then we
had to clean up afterwards. Having only had to take care of ourselves before,
it was a real chore to help the ladies clean up after a thousand men had eaten.
Now despite all of
my own experiences, this coming attack would be the biggest battle I would
fight in up to that time. Our attack on Beausejour was so fast that we really
didn`t get a feel for what a siege would be like. Louisbourg was a mighty
fortress that the New Englanders had taken thirteen years before, but the
French had gotten it back, and we were hoping that we would capture it again.
It would all take time and as the weeks went by and we trained out new light
infantry, we were getting anxious to use our skills in combat.
CHAPTER 8: THE
FLEET DEPARTES FOR LOUISBOURG
beginning of May, the tents were taken down and packed aboard the ships. All
the troops for the expedition were rowed out to the transports to begin our
trip up the coast to Louisbourg. I sailed with my company in the Warren. Gordon though he
had been a Ranger like me for a long time was still not the type of person who
enjoyed sailing. He spent most of the trip huddled in the cockpit. He was put
to good use rolling and making cartridges.
All the ships
sailed together to protect ourselves from any French naval vessels or
privateers. Louisbourg had outfitted private vessels to be armed with small
cannons or just sailors with muskets to attack any British ship they came
across. The Governor of Louisbourg had been handing out letters of marque to
any ship captain he could, as the French navy could no be expected to just
protect her colonies in New France, there were her colonies in Africa and India
to think of as well.
As we advanced up
the coast, all you could see were vast stretches of forest. Occassionally we`d
find a Mik Maq encampment on a beach where some of the men would have been
fishing for their winter food supply. However, with the war looming, many Mik
Maq were on the war path. They had hidden their families deep in the interior
of Nova Scotia
and then joined the French in an effort to clear us out. But for those
warriors, seeing all our ships must have put real terror into their hearts.
About the end of
May, we sighted Garbarus bay and laid anchor. The officers took out their
telescopes and scanned the beaches for the best place to land.
“Now that`s too
bad, I guess we must have taught them a lesson back in 1745” We all looked
about and found Benard looking at the beach. “What do you see friend?” I asked.
“Well see when we
landed here then, the French didn`t have any defenses, but just look there now”.
We all looked out and those of us with good eyes saw the whole bay was lined
with trenches and redoubts. From the scale of the fortifications, we estimated
that there were close to a thousand men. The redoubts appeared to have four
guns. They couldn`t hit out ships, but they could do a nasty bit of work on our
boats, as we rowed ashore. To make it worse, the seas were always rough. The
weather would become foggy or the winds could blow up something fierce.”
Amherst was watching the coast and the weather for several days. His entire
invasion depended on a successful landing in this bay. The only problem was,
which beach could they have any success in attacking? He summoned his officers
to the flag ship.
propose that we land our troops here at Kenningston Cove. We shall also send
feint attacks on White point and land some troops close to the seaward walls of
the city. With luck, the French will not know where our actual landing will be.
Much will depend on our brethren in the Navy and the boat crews to row our
troops ashore. General Wolfe, you are to command the attack on Kennington cove.
Our Light Infantry battalion, the Fraser`s Highlanders and the combined
Grenadier battalion will be your attacking force.” The young red haired officer
replied. “I shall do my best for out King and country. We shall take the beach,
and make those French run back into their city.”
“On the day of our
landing, June 8, 1758
it was about as calm as it had been for days. The swells weren`t so bad. Our
landing divisions were drawn up, and we`d be some of the first soldiers sent on
the quest to take this French city.”
“What do you mean
the swells weren`t so bad grandfather?” “The waves were only about six feet or
so. The difficulty was getting the troops from off the ships into the ships
boats and to be rowed to shore. We had started just before day break. We had
hoped to attack in the dark, but with the way the weather had been, and getting
the troops loaded, we were being rowed in daylight. With our element of surprise
gone, the French defenders fell into their trenches and with fixed bayonets,
awaited our onslaught.
As part of Wolfe`s
division, we had gotten into the boats sometime after midnight. At , the ships of the fleet began a bombardment
of all the fortifications in Louisbourg. It was mostly directed on the landing
beaches, but also on the fortress as well, so as to keep the Frenchmens heads
It was different
from what we had practice 3 weeks earlier in Halifax. This time however, we were sailing
towards the enemy. However, it was strangely quiet. As Gordon and I huddled in
out boat, the sailors kept rowing us closer to shore. My main worry was falling
overboard. Our haversacks not only contained our rations, but also each ranger
had been issued a new weapon.
“Gordon, why did
they give us cannon balls with holes in them?” “Not sure Euan, maybe it`s our
new cooking pot?” “You simple sods, those are Grenades” Captain Goreham
exclaimed. “You add a charge of powder in the hole, then put a match into the
hole, you light the fuse with your flint and steel and throw it at any French
emplacement you come across. Got it?”
sailors kept rowing us to shore. We could see the abittis the French had made
by cutting down trees and sharpening the branches so that the points were
towards us. The bombardment had smashed a bunch of them, but there were still
enough to pose as a hazard. We got about 200 meters from shore when the din of
hell opened up on us.
“Bloody hell, it`s
raining musket balls!” The small guns the French had were firing grape and
round shot at us, the French infantry had mixed buckshot and ball in their
initial volley. The water around us splashed like it was raining and we`d hear
some of the balls smack into soldiers and wood. The screams of the dying and
wounded were almost deafened by the roar of the muskets and cannon. We were getting
soaked from the seawater, our sweat, our tears of fear and the vomit and urine
of those around us who were afraid.
“Keep moving forward, we must land on the
beach” Wolfe could be heard crying. Most of the boats that hadn`t been hit were
trying to come about and head back out to sea. It was turning into a bloody
mess. We watched as Major Lawerence`s boat was smashed by a round shot. Nine of
his men were killed and as the boat sank, the rest splashed about and tried to
make it to shore. Lawerence made it as he was able to swim. Those soldiers who
boats were swamped, sank quickly with the weight of their equipment. Many a
scream was quickly silenced by the waves. You`d see an arm or hand thrash the
water on the surface before it sank below.
We couldn`t fire
back because our locks were secured with rags to protect the priming from sea
water. Wolfe signaled us to fall back to his boat. Around him, he had collected
boats of Rangers, light infantry, grenadiers and Highlanders. As we formed up
to row back to the transports, Wolfe took out his telescope and sighted a place
we could land. “Right, there`s a place we can land 2 boats at once. It appears
the French can`t see it, so we`ll be safe from their fire. These 6 boats will
land and lead the way for the rest of the assault.” Cautiously, three of our
boats moved forward. Lt. Hopkins, Brown and Ensign Grant of the 35th
Regiment were the first to land. They peared over the cover of the boulders to
see the French still firing towards the boats. Our whole area was not even
being touched. There was a battery of three guns pointing out to the beach on
the right, but no one in this small area. There was a watch tower on the hill,
but as the officers looked up, they saw it was abandoned! We sat there with the
waves lapping and slapping the sides of out boat. Some of the lads were trying
to retch quietly over the side. Some just hurled into the bottom of the boat.
There the vomit mixed with the seawater to swish and swirl in the bottom,
making the rest of us gag. I looked up to see the officers crawling on their
bellies and I though, they look like toddlers trying to go to their mothers.
The officers seeing the coast was clear, signaled to us. We rowed into the
rocks and sprang up to begin our attack. Major Scott was out first and was
rallying us to his spot. “To me rangers, present, fire at anything in range. As
we go up on the rocks, the French and Indians finally spotted us and began to
rush at us. “Form into line, present, FIRE!” Our initial volley was a bit
ragged but we took a few soldiers and warriors down. We traded volleys with
them for a bit when Scott cried, “fix bayonets, charge your bayonets,
CHARGE!!!!! We all jumped up and rushed at the enemy.
The beach was not
sand but stone pebbles. It was like trying to run on marbles. We slipped and
slid our way up to the French.
stood their ground and tried to fight us off. Those who did, met their end. My
bayonet found itself embedded in the stomach of a French man. His face was a
look of fear and pain. It made me sick to do it, but if I hadn`t, he would have
done the same to me. Gordon didn`t have a bayonet but he taken out his tomahawk
and was smacking at anyone within his range. I looked back and saw Wolfe
standing on a rock waving only a cane towards the other ships. I could hear
above the din an English Sargeant cry “Who`s not going to hell who hears this
music for half an hour today?” At that moment, a volley erupted and the man was
flung backwards onto his own men. Even from the distance, I could see that his
chest had been ripped open by several musket balls.
I thought it was
rather stupid of him to stand up in his boat like that, but then again, he must
have done it to animate his men and give them courage to follow him.
Wolfe by now had
gathered a force of Grenadiers and Highlanders. The Highlanders had slung their
muskets and drawn their broadswords. As one, they charged the French. From our
position on the rise we had rushed to, we could hear the pipes playing. I found
out from Cameron later that it was Caber Feigh, and even though it was a
Mackenzie clan war tune, it gave courage to all who heard it. He had learned to
play it on the crossing from Scotland.
We all rushed down the hill. The pebbles on the beach were becoming blood
soaked and men slipped and fell rushing up them, and over the bodies of the men
who had fallen in front of them.
All around us, it
was a world of blood, fire, and noise. From the click, flash bang of our
muskets to the loud thump of the cannons, I didn`t think that I`d hear birds
singing again. Men were screaming in fear, pain and anger. I could see the
Highlanders slashing with their swords at the French. I saw one man take his
broadsword and slash it across the face of one Frenchman, it looked like his
face would slide off his head. Blood gushed down and he fell to the ground, his
hands scrambling at the blood pouring out the deathly wound.
I saw another man
get slashed from shoulder to waist. Gordon cried, “Euan their cleaning the Frenchmen
like fish”! It was horrible to watch, but it did what the Highlanders wanted.
The remaining French defenders ran panicing back towards their own troops. The
British grenadiers stormed the rest of the line with bayonets leveled, and were
striking against French muskets, but also sticking into soft bellies and lungs.
It was a mass of Red coats and caps. The British were a mix of buff, white,
green and yellow on the back of their caps, but the Frasers were in their
Bearskin caps, blue bonnets and kilts.
rallied us. “Rangers, you lead the way, we have to secure this beach for the
rest of the army. Advance up the road, Go!” We formed into a skirmish line, and
while one line knelt and presented, the other rushed ahead fifty meters and
then knealt and allowed the rank behind us to rush up. As we got closer to the
trees, we began to fire at any human shape we could see. The French were
fleeing like crazy fearing that they were going to be surrounded. Our other
troops had been landing at Fresh water cove and White point. As we advanced up
the woods road, we saw a formed body of troops. These French men were wearing
white grey coats faced white. They were all wearing moustaches, meaning they
were Grenadiers. They began to fire volleys in platoons. When one section would
fire, another would retire and wait until the first had fallen back behind.
With this retreating fire, they were able to act as a rear guard for their
After six hours,
we held the beach. The only French still there were the dead, wounded or
prisoners. I looked seaward and felt tears coming to my eyes. From our vantage
point, we could see the lovely beach framed by woods behind us, and bordered by
granite rocks, but scatter about this beauty, were the red or white coated
corpses. Some were being tossed back and forth up against the pebbles and then
back into the water by the waves.
The water was a
mix of blue, green and purple from the blood of the dead. The smell of
gunpowder still lingered in the air. Also, the metallic smell of blood seemed
to cling to the rocks and trees. I looked about and Gordon was soon at my side.
His leather cap was splattered red. “Gordon are you wounded?” “No, some English
bugger in front of me caught a musket ball in the head, it went through him and
splattered my face and cap with his brains. I`ve been washing it off myself
Even nowlittle one, I don`t like to eat Strawberry
preserves for it reminds me of the death and wounds I have seen. I like
strawberries, but not as jam.
The rest of the
day was spent securing the beach by clearing up the dead and wounded. Wolfe
took a party of Light Infantry to scout out the French postions. We had a vauge
idea of the lay out from the veteran officers from the last siege. One of the
main objectives was to capture intact the Royal Battery. From our ships at sea,
we could tell that the French fleet was bottled up in the harbor, but we
couldn`t get a good look at the harbor defenses. As rangers we always led the
As we advanced, the
French Grenadiers and a few Mik Maq skirmished with us. The ground was just as
it always seemed to be. Miles and miles of trees, bog and brush. It was as
though the French had planted this forest to try and impede out advance. What
they didn`t learn from the first siege was that this was easily cleared by our
pioneers and ourselves. We had to hack a road through the forest to find the
city. All day we fired and advanced. We fell back a bit, then advanced, right
almost to the city walls. As we could make out the walls, the French guns
opened fire. The cannon balls smashed though some of the trees and ploughed up
the earth around us. “Euan, you think we should stay in the trees” THUMP,
CRASH, WHACK. “I think you have a good idea Gordon, we just have to wait for
our officers to tell us what to do.” “Rangers fall back to the trees!” came
Major Scott`s orders.
That first night,
we used the French encampment for our shelter. It was the first time I got a
chance to take a look at myself. I was a mess. My leggings were caked with salt
from the sea and mud from the woods. My arms and legs had little scrapes from
thorny branches from where the leggings and my shirt had ridden up while I was
My fingers were a
little burned from the heat of the musket barrel. They had gotten so hot during
the fighting, you could barely hold onto them. I took a look at Gordon, his face was smeared
with black powder from having to bite open our cartridges and load our muskets.
I rubbed my cheek and my fingers were grimed with black powder. My mouth was so
dry, I was gagging for water. We emptied our canteens down our throats and
filled them up from a clean looking stream. The only food we had in our
haversacks was some moose jerky, oatcakes and some molasses cookies. Someone found
a bit of tea that hadn`t gotten wet so we all shared a tin mug. When two of our
number were put on sentry, the rest of us slept. It felt like I had been asleep
for only a short time before I was shaken awake to take over.
did you have to fight everyday at Louisbourg?”
“Well no, most of
the time spent at a siege seemed just to prepare for an attack or bringing up
supplies. For the first few days, we had to clear an area for our camp, then
use the trees we cut down to prepare defenses. We had brought some
prefabricated block houses which we threw up pretty fast to defend our camp.
There were about six in all. The trees we used to build a palisade to surround
our encampment. Then all the tents had to be brought ashore and fire pits dug.
So for me, my memories of the first week or so was just bringing everything off
the ships and setting up the army to get ready to begin fighting.
When we first got
a chance to scout our Louisbourg, it looked massive! The King`s Bastion, which
we thought was their citadel, was a four sided structure. Three of the walls
were stone pointing out like an arrow towards the forrest. The back end was
enclosed by a huge building, the largest I had ever seen. The walls there were
about 20 feet high, so the building on the inside must have been about 4 floors
tall. The whole town was surrounded by stone walls, and earthworks. At some
points on the wall, we found sentry boxes which jutted out from the wall. The
main gate to the town was a wooden drawbridge topped by an elaborate stone
carving of the French kings arms, but in order to get at the gate, we would
have to first punch through a trench line and redoubts which were dug into the
ground. We could see spires of what we thought must have been churches, or
important looking buildings. From where we first spotted the town, we began to
carefully clean up the brush so that the artillery could move in and start to
fire on the fortress.
Our encampment was
very large. It took almost two days straight work to clear the area of trees
and brush, then set out the tent lines, and then surround it with a palisade.
We also built earthen bastions at the corners to emplace some field artillery
to ward off any French raiders who might want to pay us a visit. Since we had
fourteen battalions of regular infantry plus artillery and ourselves, it was a
very large camp. As the siege went on, further redoubts, trenches and other
works meant that most of the soldiers would be occupied in these positons or
would rotate in and out so as to not exhaust one unit while others were left in
their tents. There were not as many women allowed on this expedition due to the
fact that it was a siege and also that space as at a minimum on the transport
ships. However, a few of the officer`s wives and wives of the Sargeants were
A happy memory
from that time was that Sargeant Sutherland of the 78th Fraser`s
Highlanders wife was expecting a baby. In all the rush to get ready to sail for
Louisbourg, she had not been put off in Halifax,
so she accompanied her husband on the siege. About the fifth day after we
landed, she went into labor. The officer`s wives and the surgeon were called to
Sutherland`s tent. Since the Highlanders were considered to not be usual like
the rest of the army, they were camped close to us. As word spread of the
impending birth, the soldiers were all anxiously awaiting this new life to
come. Mrs. Sutherland was lucky in that her trial of suffering was short and a
bonny wee lassie named Emily was born. The whole regiment cheered on the news
and the pipers played lively tunes to welcome the baby into the regiment.
General Amherst heard of the birth and sent forth a goat to provide milk for
both mother and baby. As well, Sgt. Sutherland was granted a small purse of guineas
to help in the costs of transporting his wife back to Halifax. A military camp in the middle of a
siege was not the best place of a mother and new baby.
The next week, the
real work began. Our second objective was to encircle the city and cut off any
chance of French troops marching overland to come to the assistance of the
garrison. We got up early on the third morning and began to advance towards
Lighthouse point. Our force consisted of three battalions, and four companies
of Grenadiers. Most of the Light Infantry and Rangers were also used to cover
the army as it advanced. We lay out an ambush, the regulars would march up to
us, then we`d advance a bit more, set ourselves up, and they`d advance again.
Luckily for us, it was very foggy that day, so the French gunners couldn`t see
us. About , we found
the ruins of the Royal battery. The French had demolished it and taken away the
guns. However, with a little bit of work, we stabilized the ruins and the Royal
Artillery came along later and put their guns there to fire on the city and the
French fleet riding at anchor.
General Wolfe was
pleased that we were able to occupy Lighthouse point and he made his main
Headquarters just a little east of there. But getting the troops and supplies
there was not easy. There was no beach suitable at Lighthouse point, so
everything had to be landed at our initial landing place, then marched and
hauled on the roads we built and through the woods. To make it worse, the
weather was horrible. Windy and rainy making the seas rough to land anything
and the simple roads we built would become muddy. Once the roads came closer to
the shore, we came under fire of the French ships in the harbor. That was a
hassle. You couldn`t move for the fountains of earth those large cannon balls
would plum up. A few men were smashed about, legs, arms and bodies would be
torn and flung apart from the ships guns. But we kept at it.
At night, we`d
have fires set along the shore to light the way of our troops to bring up more
supplies or more men.
“Ah Euan, take a
look”, Gordon beckoned. I carefully looked over the parapet of the trench we
had built on Lighthouse point. There below us was the town of Louisbourg, and the Island
battery. In the harbor were the ships of the French fleet. We had to keep our
heads down for fear of attracting the attention of the French guns.
THUMP, BANG. “Gordon,
when was the last time we had enemy cannon fire at us”
AHHHHHH. “I guess that was at Annapolis
back in 1744 when the French fleet came from here. Ah, bloody hell, they got
one of the Grenadiers, his body is torn up bad.” “Keep your bloody heads down,
if you want to live” came our officers reply. “Right any soldier who is not on
sentry duty, pick up a shovel or pick and start to dig our trench. If you want
to live, dig!”
That made sense I
thought. The officers kept us busy for several reasons. The first was to
actually be doing our job, second, to keep us busy and third, if we were busy
and doing our job, we wouldn`t be sitting around thinking and then becoming
terrified at the sounds of the incoming artillery fire.
“Why didn`t the
pioneers and engineers do all the digging? I mean that`s what there job is for
“Well you would
think that right, but remember, the sappers, engineers and pioneers are only a
small part of an army. If you have several thousand men laying around, what
better way to put them to work then to make them dig and build your defenses?
If the soldiers dig it, they will know why they are digging it, especially if
they know that they are under enemy fire at the same time. Digging and building
these defenses gave us a sense of purpose. We wouldn`t be killed or wounded by
artillery fire if the trenches and redoubts were deep enough and had sufficient
Around June 13, we
had our first major skirmish with the French. Major Ross had reported that a
force of three parties of French troops had left from the main gate of the city
and advanced towards our trenches. In all, there were about three hundred
French and Indians advancing towards us. The Grenadiers were formed up in the
centre and we, the rangers were positioned just a little down from Green hill.
Our part of the line of battle was approached by Acadian partisans, Canadiens
and Mik Maq under the command of a French officer. They were creaping thought
the small brush and tall grass, but we were just at the tree line.
advanced along our line, “right men, kneel, load with buckshot and ball, we`ll
try to stop as many of them as we can. If the Grenadiers are flanked, our army
will fall back to the beaches.” We quietly and carefully loaded our muskets
from our shot bags and powder horns. Only a few of us had cartridge boxes. The
day was unusually hot and sunny, considering that it had been cold, foggy and
rainy for the most part since we landed. On the war party advanced. When they
got to a small pond just in front of us, we opened fire. “Present, FIRE!” As
one, our muskets opened up the first volley of the action. The French and
Indians kept firing as a skirmish. A few of us, including Gordon and I, could
fire faster than the rest of the group. I aimed my musket at any body that was
in front of me. The French and Indians were clever, though, they never stood to
fire, just knealt. I knew that I`d have to aim at a flash of smoke before it
disappeared to high. I saw a flash of flame and smoke shoot out of some reeds,
the ranger behind me was hit in the gut and fell to his front, squealing in
pain. Before he had fallen though, I had fired at that spot I saw the shot from,
and the grass parted to show that I had hit a warrior and splayed him on his
Our little fight
took the better part of two hours. Of our initial party of one hundred rangers,
about seventy of us were still firing. “Alright, I`m getting tired of this damm
shooting at shadows.” Goreham was getting annoyed.“Rangers will retire to the tree line, fall
back.” We quickly moved into the brush and knealt with loaded muskets. We hoped
that the French and Indians would then move forward to charge us, thinking we
were in full flight. “ I won`t give the command to present, once the whole body
gets ,up, every ranger will present and on my command will then let loose.”
Goreham was hoping that his gamble would work.
One by one, the
war party all stood up, which was astonishing considering these were warriors
who had been able to defeat the likes of Braddock and ambush our regulars on
many occasions. The whole party stood up and began to advance towards us. “FIRE”,
we all let loose and the deafening blast of powder and smoke blanketed the
field. When it cleared, we saw what we had done. Every warrior was now dead,
the Acadian partisans lay amoung the Mik Maq and only their officer lay alive.
He was propping himself up against one of his dead men and was waving his sword
with his neck stock attached to the tip, “Any ranger speak French?” came
Gorehams request. “Yes sir, I can speak a bit” I answered. “Arr let`s kill him
anyway.” Gordon`s cry came. “No Gordon, we can take him back to the generals
and they can get some information out of him.”
I crouched down
and ran forward to the wounded officer. I saw that our musket balls had hit his
leg, and he was in pain. He was wearing a blue waist coat which he had added
gold lace to. His tricorn was also laced in gold. His brown hair was tied up in
a simple que, not powdered like most officers. His face was handsome, though
now it was one of pain. “Mosieour, pardon me, I will help you as best I can.
Have some water.” I took my canteen and took out the stopper and put it to the
mans lips. He drank well, then swallowed. I reslung my canteen and asked him, “sir
may I have you name? “Oui, I am Cadet Lorrin, I`m a Canadien officer of Les
Compaigne Franches de la Marine and I will surrender my sword to your officer.
Who are you soldier?” “I am Private Euan Kenny, Goreham`s Rangers at you
service sir.” The officer looked astonished. “How can it be that a lowly
private can speak French so well?” “I was posted to FortAnne
and played with Acadian children. They taught me how to speak. I will take you
to our surgeons lines now sir.”
and Gordon ran up to me and we carried him into our position. It was just as
well, for at that moment, the guns in the big bastion opened up and cannon
balls began to hit the ground where we had just stood. Their officers must have
seen that Cadet Lorrin`s party had been anhillated.
Out of that
action, we also took two French soldiers who were speaking German. It turned
out that they were members of the Voluntaire Etrangers, a German regiment in
the French army. Both men had actually deserted the French and brought us news
that our action had resulted in a few of their men killed and several score
Cadet Lorrin was
seen to by a surgeon, who removed two musket balls, one from each leg. Luckily
for the him, it only hit his calves which while producing a lot of blood and
torn muscle, his leg bones were intact. He`d be taken care of in our camp until
we exchanged him for our officers the French had taken.
As I had spoken
with him at first, I was asked to assist the officers in speaking with him. I
also took it upon myself when not engaged in my other duties to try and make
sure he was confortable.
speak French but it sounds different from the officers and soldiers who I have
heard before, what part of France
do you come from?” Lorrin smiled and looked at me. “Kenny, I was not born in France, but Canada. My home
is north of Montreal,
we have our own farm there. My Great grandmother was a fils du roi, a daughter
of the king. She married my great grandfather and helped him to raise a large
family. I am not French, but Canadien!” “Then why are you fighting here in
“Canada is my
home, if you English capture Louisbourg, then you will then attack Quebec. Even though we
have many native tribes, we won`t be able to stop an army this size. I came
here to help defend my home. My wife is back in Quebec, pregnant with our first child. I am
fighting for the future of my children`s country. This war for us is a war of
survival. You English are all around us. We have no choice but to fight.” “I am
sorry that you were wounded sir, but perhaps one day, when this war is over,
you will be able to see your wife and child again.” Lorrine gave a sad little
smile. “Perhaps Kenny, but who is to say if I will be sent back to Quebec? If Louisbourg
will fall, I may be sent to France,
a country that I have never seen, and never want to.”
Day and night, we
dug our trenches closer to the walls. Our next objective was to capture Green
Hill. We advanced into the trenches and waited with the Frasers. We quickly
advanced and rushed up the hill to find that the French had not bothered to
erect any defenses at this point. Their outer defenses were still four hundred
meters in front of us. However, as soon as we got onto the crest of the hill,
the French began to pour a heavy fire onto us. We saw large plumes of smoke
rise up from the large bastion to our right and then a roar sounded above us.
WHAM! “The French are firing mortars at us, take cover and begin to dig into
this hill, came the officers command.
Sgt. Sutherland was rallying his troops when
another WHAM sounded. He was flung down to the ground. I rushed over to him and
found that a large piece of iron from the exploding bomb had torn into his left
arm. He had also been knocked unconscious by the force of being flung down. What
parts of the arm were not cut, the bones were like mush. We gathered him up in
his plaid and rushed him to the surgeon where we left him, hoping that he would
We had to go back
to the position and help build up the gabions and fascines to act as a
temporary breastwork until our digging could give us sufficient cover. Most of
that day was spent digging, ducking behind the hill when the large guns fired,
and harassing fire from the forward trenches. A few other soldiers were hit by
lucky musket shots, but since we were so far away from the muskets effective
range, only a few soldiers were wounded. By next morning, we had dug the hill
out to place two guns in it to begin firing at the forward defenses of
Once we arrived
back in camp, we were all exhausted. We were relived by the 15th
Regiment who advanced and began digging trenches to connect the new postion on
Green Hill to our other batteries. Sgt. Sutherland we learned had survived the
sugeons lines, but lost his arm. He was badly affected by it, for he was also a
piper and thus would no longer be able to play. As well, it would affect his
ability to hold his new daughter. But we were amazed by his determination to
live and carry on. With his arm bandaged up, and his left sleeve of his coat
pinned up, the good Sargeant was ready to once again to fight the French.
“Aye our Sargeant
is a tough fellow” Cameron told us at the fire one night. “Some of us though
still hold bitter feelings towards his clan though. We faced each other during
the ’45 Rebellion and he was a tough warrior then. He was part of the Argyle
milita that broke down the walls at Culloden so that the English horse could
flank us. The Argyles and Sutherlands poured a murderous fire into us.” He spat
into the fire. “But now, we are under his command, so the only way we take out
our anger is to fight the French.”
“But why are you
so angry Cameron” Gordon asked. “Well you English passed laws to forbid us from
wearing our kilts, weaving our tartans, playing our music on our bagpipes,
carrying our broadswords, dirks and pistols and even speaking our language. I
learned English from my guards. I was lucky in that I wasn`t executed after
Culloden, but my father and older brothers were. Though Sgt. Sutherland
suffered too. Even though his clan supported the government, the new
restrictions also affected his clan. He was only able to keep his pipes by
hiding them. And now, he`s lost his arm which means he won`t be able to play
again. Though he`s a Sutherland, his piping was a source of comfort to all of
us in the regiment.
One morning, I
awoke to find a young drummer in a buff and red faced coat marching into our
camp. He was a drummer of the 40th Regiment as the arms and roman
numerals on his drum attested to. “Ranger, where is you officer? I have a
message for him.” “Aye, I`ll take you to him. What`s your name drummer?” “Drummer
Steele, Private.” “Steele, I don`t suppose that your father is Sargeant Steele
who was posted to Annapolis Royal and then
sent to Newfoundland
now is he?” “Why yes, he is my father, but how would you know him?” “Matthew,
you don`t remember me, I`m the drummer who you used to follow about in FortAnne.”
The young fellow`s face broke into a wide smile. “You were Drummer Kenny then,
but why are you dressed as a ranger now?”
“Well, I decided
that I wanted to carry a musket and thus I traded in my drum and drummer`s coat
for that of a ranger. Though I do miss beating on the drum sometimes. Come
along, I`ll take you to Captain Goreham.
One of the unforeseen
consequences of my speaking with Cadet Lorrin was that it nearly cost me my
friendship with Gordon. I hadn`t noticed, but I had been spending a lot of time
with the French officer and not the rangers.
“You seem quite
taken with that Frog, Euan. Are we not up to snuff with you now anymore” Gordon
glared at me. I dropped my plate of stew to the ground and rose up to confront
him. “What the bloody hell is that supposed to mean?” “Well since we`ve
captured him, you`ve been spending most of your evening with him rather than
your comrades. Did you know we lost Private Dunphy today?” “Well no, I had been
ordered to speak with Lorrin to see if I could get any useful information from
him.” Gordon pushed Euan away. “The only thing I want to know about the Frogs
is how many can I kill” “What`s gotten you so vexed Gordon?” At that, he struck
me about my face so that I fell to the ground. “Bloody hell, Euan, haven`t you
forgotten that it`s the French from here that attacked us at Fort Anne? The
same bloody Frenchmen we`ve been fighting for the past ten years? So how the
hell do you think I feel when you are seen speaking to a French officer” I got
upon my feet and landed a swift kick to Gordon`s arse. “You bloody twit, don`t
you remember I`ve been in the same places as you and I know what the French can
do. Maybe you`ve drunk a bit too much
grog today.” The other rangers pulled us apart before we had a real to do with
“You both want to
be strapped to a gun and kiss the gunner`s daughter?” Corporal Booker asked. “If
you feel like fighting, why not go out to the forward trenches and shooting
some French gunners for us. Oh, and Jefferson, Kenny was able to get from that
officer a few facts, such as the fact that our skirmish with his partisans
destroyed them. They were the only French and Indians who had been sent down
Oh, and you`d need not worry about Kenny spending anymore time with Lorrin, he
was exchanged this evening for two of our officers the French had taken.”
Gordon and I
looked at each other and shook hands and apologized. “I`m sorry Gordon, you`ve
been like my brother. Your friendship is something I don`t want to loose. “Aye
Euan, I was out of place. I suppose all the cannon fire ismaking me a bit anxious. We`d better stick to
fighting the French rather than each other. Seeing Dunphy get killed shook me
up a bit.” “What happened to him” “We were sent down to help dig a trench to
link up with some of the batteries. We could see the French warships in the
harbor and as we began digging, they pivoted at anchor and began to fire on us.
A few of us were able to duck down in time, but Dunphy had been at the front
digging. When the cannon balls fell about, they smashed up the ground and a big
mound of earth we had pilled up to make a parapet, caved in on him. He was
buried alive. We dug like crazy to try and get him out. We found his feet and
dragged him out. He died with his face full of terror. There was nothing we could
do for him.”
And so it went on
and on. Week after week, we dug, the French fired their guns at us to try and
stop our advance to their walls. One morning when I was on sentry duty, I
noticed a peculiar site. I noticed that the French gunners were preparing their
guns to fire. Using a telescope that Lt. Kenny gave me, I looked into the
embrasure. There I saw a woman about to fire a cannon! She put the linstock to
the vent and it fired towards our lines. She then walked to two other guns and
fired them. After the smoke cleared, I could hear the French gunners yell “Vive
Madame Drucour, vive le bombardiere!” I asked the other soldiers about this,
and they also said they had seen her go up every morning to fire the guns. This
was the same woman who tipped the drummer for bringing her pinapples! I was
amazed, even the upper class women fight. The only women I had ever hear fight
were wives and mothers who lived with their families on the frontier.
There were a few times when we fought with
them. One morning before sunrise, the French sent out a sortie to try and
perhaps spike some of our guns. They unfortunately found themselves in amoung
the Frasers. The wild highlanders fired their muskets, then drew their
broadswords and dirks. A few had pistols which they also fired off. As the
French withdrew, some of the Frasers had small round shields that they dropped
to the ground, and taking their broadswords and dirks, began to dance their war
dance with the pipes playing. Most of them began to shout in Gaelic at the
French and we all gave whoops and our own battle cries. Even a few of us
rangers began to dance wildly about. The English officers who saw this thought
we must be going mad but it gave us the heart to keep on fighting. Those who
weren`t dancing were slapping their musket slings to give an ominous sound. I
looked towards the French lines, and their officers were trying unsuccessfully
to get them to advance. They didn`t feel like charging a bunch of wild
highlanders that day.
A few days later,
we were sent out on a sortie to harass at the French outer defenses. The Light
Infantry, including us and the Highlanders were sent towards the outer line in
front of the large bastion. We used out trenches to approach and then we rushed
from them towards the ravelin. The French were firing volleys of musket fire.
It was like trying to walk during a thunder storm. “Kenny, Jefferson,
help the Grenadiers light their grenades.” Lieutant Kenny yelled. It was the
first attack that we were a part that included my father. He had been tied up
with the headquarters due to his French speaking ability. Cameron was one of
the Highlanders we were to help. I hadn`t realized that Cameron, as well as
being a piper had trained with stones back in Scotland. He could hurl a stone
about 20 yards. We had seen him practice with rocks in our camp. “Right, Euan,
and Gordon, you light my fuses and I`ll hurl the grenades.”We were going pretty
well, we`d strick a spark with our flint and steel, the match would catch and
Cameron would hurl it into the French work. It was all going well until “BANG”.
Cameron fell to the ground screaming, Gordon was holding his scalp and my ears
wouldn`t stop ringing. Lt. Annis and Cpl. Booker pulled us back into our
trench. They slapped a wad of bandage on Gordon`s head, and were busy wrapping
a bandage on Cameron`s right hand. I helped Gordon to the surgeons lines, while
Booker and another ranger carried Cameron.
Granfather?” “It turns out, the match on that Grenade was super dry and it
burned faster than the others. As Cameron threw it, it exploded. He had ducked
down but his hand was still in the air as he came down. Gordon had been ready
to hand him another grenade and caught a graze or iron just below his hair
line. I had already been on the ground with my head down. But the blast made my
ears ring for a bit. We checked on Cameron later on, and he was balling like a
baby. We thought maybe it was the shock of the fight, but then my father bid me
closer. Speaking in Gaelic he told me, “Euan, help take care of Cameron. He
needs to be watched.” “What`s wrong with him sir?” “The surgeon says it`s not
from the pain that he`s crying. He`s had enough rum and whiskey to dull that
pain. I spoke with him. It seems that he`s the last in his family. His father
and brothers were killed during the English pursuit in the Highlands
after the ’45. In his family, there was a tradition of sons to follow fathers
on the great highland bagpipe. Cameron isn`t married, he`s not fathered any
children. So his family`s piping is finished.” I stared at Cameron. “But he`s
still got his hand.” “Aye he does, but he lost his ring and pinky finger on his
right hand. He`ll be able to still use his hand in life, but he`ll no longer be
able to play. To use the chanter, you need all your fingers. Stay with him and
make sure he doesn`t do anything stupid.” The sad truth dawned on me. After the
’45 Rebellion, the bagpipes had been outlawed. Cameron had been able to play
again only in the army, but now, with his hand missing two fingers, he`d no
longer play his beloved pipes. His grief was profound. For him, it was as
though his children had died. A part of his soul died when that grenade went
“Gordon, are you
alright.” “That I am Euan, but I still have a headache. That piece of grenade felt
like a ram butted my head. Any closer, and I`d have bought the farm. This
battle is worse than all our others eh?” “That it is, but we have to tough it
out. When these French give up, we can stop dying.”
I felt like it
must go on forever. The French warships kept firing on our positions which was
doing it`s job of delaying our advance. However, once we established gun
batteries at Lighthouse point, and along the harbor shore, the French ships had
to keep moving about to get out of range of our own guns.
For the French
inside the walls and town it must have been terrifying. We heard from one of
the drummers who was sent on a parley.
“I marched forward
beating the parley call to tell the French not to fire on me. I had two
pineapples from General Amherst in my pack. When I entered the gate, I was
blindfolded and led by a French drummer. From what little I could see under my
blindfold, the the town was getting smashed to pieces. The walls seemed to be
crumbling from both our fire and their own guns. Madame Drucour paid me two
gold sovereigns and placed two bottles of wine in my pack. I was sent back. As
well, I was told to thank General Amherst for the pineapples, but that I could
not continue to supply his officers with wine, as other drummers had been sent
in as well. She seemed to feel that the British officers would replace her
husband`s wine cellar with tropical fruit.” At this, the drummer grew silent. “I
saw many little children crying and holding tight to their mothers and fathers.
The look of terror in their eyes at me, because I was the enemy. But I`m only
11, those little boys and girls are almost my age, and I`d rather be playing
with them in the fields outside the forts walls then have our cannons smash
their homes and scare them.”
After a month of
fighting, the fortress walls appeared to show signs that our artillery were
doing their job. Chunks of stone were falling into the ditches, most of the
buildings that we could see had damaged roofs and we had very few skirmishes
with the garrison. For the most part, they just kept their heads down, while we
pounded them with our cannons. To liven things up a bit, several battalions
would be marched into the forward trenches and would then fire several volleys
at the French gunners. During these times, we`d crouch out and see exactly how
badly the walls were. However, the Compaigne Franches would usually be in the
outer defenses and would fire upon us. We`d stay just out of musket range to
By mid July,
almost all of the French ships were grounded, or sunk. Our heavy guns were put
in place and for seven days, we fired day and night. Any French soldiers who we
saw running towards us we`d fire at. Some would reach us and throw down their
muskets. These men we found out were usually from the Etranger Regiment who
were Germans and not French soldiers. They were usually good at providing us
with information. It was starting to show that the morale of the garrison was
falling, but the German soldiers told us that most of the French soldiers and officers
would fight on, perhaps to a bitter end.
why didn`t the Frenchmen come out and fight. I mean did they just stay inside
their walls waiting for the cannonballs to fall on them?” “Oh they came out to
fight alright. On July 9, they tried a night attack.”
The air was filled
with the far off thunder of the guns and the pounding of the surf on the beach.
Gordon and I were getting a good nights sleep after having helped dig yet
another trench and redoubt. I had drank large quantities of tea in the day from
the hot work. I needed to go water a tree so I crawled out of our tent and
walked to the necessary house. It was then that I saw a frightened figure
running towards the camp. The sentry gave the challenge, and the reply was
given in English. “The French have struck out advanced post. Lord Drummond`s
dead, the French are right behind me.” Sure enough, the faces of snarling
French grenadiers were running pell mell at us. “Drummer, sound to arms,” came
an officer`s command. The young drummer frantically beat out the roll to awaken
the troops. The 22nd were the first to answer and began to form line
to repulse the charge. The volley fired into the night resulted in some yells
of pain, but as it was dark, no one could really see what they were firing at.
Gordon and I gathered out muskets and gear and began to advance. We could see
the French trying to destroy one of our smaller batteries and they were able to
kill the gun crews. “Come on Gordon, we have to drive off the French, who`s
with me?” “I`ll advance with you” came Booker`s reply. So the three of us
advanced and fired at the French.
The problem was,
other British soldiers were also firing in out direction. Gordon and I reached
the battery and killed a few French soldiers. The rest fled. I spotted a much
larger force advancing towards us. “Gordon, we have to get this gun ready to
fire. Do you remember how we loaded the swivel guns?” “Yeah, but Euan, this a a
lot bigger than a swivel gun.” “Aye, but it`s still the same principal. Powder,
wad, shot, wad, thumb over the vent, use the linstock and fire right?” “So what
will you do Euan?” “I`ll act as the number four and five, you`ll be two and
three.” I looked about and found the ready made cartridges and wads. I brought
a powder cartridge forward and placed it in the muzzle. Gordon had the rammer
ready while I ran back and placed my thumb on the vent. Gordon ran the charge
home, then I got a grapeshot charge. I placed that in the barrel and again went
back to the vent. Gordon rammed that home, then I took the priming iron and
punched the bag. Gordon placed his rammer down and went for the worm. Making
sure we were both clear of recoil, I touched the quill I had added, it was a
whoosh BANG, and the gun went off. The group of Frenchmen were smashed apart
like a basket of eggs. For about an hour, Gordon and I loaded and fired the
gun. By about , it began
to become light. All this time, Gordon and I had been so busy, we didn`t
noticed Booker was not with us. “Gordon, where`s Booker gone to?” I turned and
saw Gordon checking a body. Booker had been hit in the back by two musket
balls. In the confusion of the night, our own soldiers had fired towards the
French, only to hit him. About this time, a Royal Artillery officer came up
with a gun crew escorted by Major Scott and some of the Light Infantry. “Privates
Kenny and Jefferson, what are you doing here? Your not at your post.” “Sir,
when the drums sounded assembly, Jefferson and I advanced towards the French.
We saw that this battery`s crew were dead. We took over and fired back at the
French.” “Private, how did you know how to load and fire a twelve pound gun?”
Lieutant Blackmore asked. “Sir, I learned how to fire swivel guns on Captain
Goreham`s vessel. We both knew how to work it, so we kept up the fire.”
Lieutant, my men used your guns and ammunition without orders. I shall punish
them as you see fit.” At that moment, General Wolfe came up and looked about
our postion. “Major Scott, are these two men part of your command?” Scott snapped
to attention and gave a reply. “Sir, they are members of Goreham`s Rangers.
They advanced to here without orders and proceeded to operate this gun until
dawn. Lt. Blackmore and his gun crew had now arrived to take over.” “Privates,
what are your names?” Now I had never been addressed by a General, and I was
also in front of Scott, who had given me a hard time in my younger days. “Sir,
I`m Private Euan Kenny” “Sir, I`m Private Gordon Jefferson.” “Well now, I don`t
think you should stay privates for very long.” Wolfe turned to Scott. “See to
it that these men be raised to Corporal. These soldiers showed initive and took
over when others had fallen. This act of bravery should not be punished. Had it
not been for their action, the French may have destroyed this battery and taken
this gun. Thus the honor of the Royal Artillery was saved as well.” “General
Wolfe sir, the gun appears to be in good order. Both these men could do well in
the artillery with a little training.” Blackmore looked most impressed. Two colonial
rangers had saved his gun. “Later on, Blackmore visited us in the lines and on
parade, awarded both Gordon and I a pint of rum each. For infantry regiments,
losing your colors is a disgrace. For the artillery, to loose your guns is the
Major Scott was
not impressed. He felt that we should have stayed with the other rangers.
However, in the dark, we had not seen him, or our other officers. We knew that
if the French had turned the gun on us, more British would have been killed.
As with all things,
the siege did come to an end. By July 20, most of the French guns had stopped
firing, most of their ships were wrecked save for two, and the walls were now
falling down on their own. We all knew it was only a matter of time, that we`d
be sent in to assault the walls. We had spent weeks digging trenches, building
redoubts and clearing the ground, now we had to build scaling ladders. “Assualting
a fortress is the most difficult thing we can do as soldiers” Goreham told us. “We`ve
knocked a breach in we wall just to the right of the Dauphin gate. Or orders
are to advance with the Grenadiers and clear out the front trenches. The
Grenadiers will rush past us, and into the breech, if they need those ladders,
they will use them.” So we all went into the forward trenches to await our
signal to rush out towards the walls. The Royal Navy was to go out and capture
the French ships Le Prudent and Le Bienfaisant. We gave a distraction of musket
fire on the walls so that the French would believe that we were going to go
over the walls. While we fired, six hundred sailors and Marines rowed out in
long boats to over power the ships crews. It was a foggy night, we all
anxiously awaited to hear the sailors get to the ships. Would an alert sentry
in the fort or a sailor on watch give a signal? The British tars crawled up the
side of the ships and a brisk sound of pistols and yells told they had reached
the ships. But then what did we see next, Prudent was on fire!
“Where were the
ship crews Grandfather” “Most had been sent into the fortress to help serve the
guns or to act as additional infantry. It wouldn`t have mattered anyway if they
had been on their ships. Ships are most affective when out at sea, not trapped
in a harbor. Granted, their guns blasted and harassed us from the start of the
siege, but their true purposed, lay on the sea. Now as I had said, the night
had been foggy, but by God, when that ship was on fire, you`d swear that the
sun was about to come up. It was about
and the light that the fire produced made it look like day break. All of
Louisbourg`s waterfront was light up watching the ship burn. Those sailors who
had been aboard had been able to get off. Bienfaisant was towed to the other
end of the harbor to be protected by our own batteries which until only
recently had been trying to destroy her.
Our artillery was
to make a further dent in Louisbourg when we noticed that a breach would be
opening up on the King`s bastion. We had also fired hot shot into the city
hoping to set buildings on fire.
The next morning,
the air was thick with the smell of burnt timber and tar. Prudent burned to the
waterline and was still smouldering. Louisbourg`s walls, once grand stone and
earth, now looked like a toothless old man. About , a French drummer was seen beating out the parley. I
jumped up and down in hysterics. “Euan, have you gone, mad, what the hell are
you doing?” “Gordon, don`t you remember your drum commands? It`s the parley,
the French want to surrender!
The governor of
Louisbourg, Drucour had wanted the honors of war in reconition of his
garrison`s bravery. General Amherst would have none of it. There was the chance
that the garrison could be used to fight us again, and seeing as how the French
had captured Minorca from us at the beginning
of the war, Amherst
wanted to give a smarting blow to the French. As well, Amherst was aware of the memory of Fort
William Henry, when the French had given the honors of war, only to have many
of their troops killed by the Indians whom Montcalm was unable to control. On
July 27, the Grenadiers marched through the Dauphin gate and relieved the
French sentries there. We marched in later to find scores of woman and children
looking on us with fear. Most times, soldiers are driven to madness during an assault
and commit terrible things on the civilian populations. Girls and ladies fear
for their virtue, but our commanders kept us in strict discipline. I wasn`t
interested in stealing things, I just wanted to live. Perhaps with Louisbourg
captured, our war would wrap up.
garrison looked sullen. Most had no doubt not had a decent sleep in a month.
Almost every soldier we saw had torn or ripped parts of their uniform. The
Compaigne Franches had a down trodden look about them, but the regular French
troops had tried to keep their appearance up. General Amherst demanded the
colors of the French garrison from Drucour. The French officers were agashed
and their soldiers gave us great looks of anger. Had these men not done all
that is required for the honors of war their officers enquired? “Mousieur
Drucour, if you would like the honors of war, kindly explain to me how your
commander Montcalm lost control of his Indians at Fort William Henry? My
government will not stand for it if I grant you the honors of war, when your
own army didn`t fufil it`s obligation to guarrentee the safety of the British
garrison there. Your city has fallen, your men are defeated. The only
concession that we will give you is to ship you back to France in our
ships. You should be grateful for that. And should I remind you, we did not
launch an assault on this town. If that were the case, many of you would not be
standing here today.
The French as we
found out later had burned their colors so as to not face the humiliation of
handing them over to us. The Cambis regiment had even gone so far as to smash
up their muskets. They had only arrived about a week before the siege and were
extremely insulted that we had treated them as such. Even more so was the
Artois Regiment. Lt. Lindsay remembered that they had also been captured at
Blenheim and had lost their colors there as well. But we had little sympathy
for the French. It had been their officers who had directed the Mik Maq to make
war on us, their soldiers who had attacked us in 1744, and their ships who had
With the siege
over, we began the process of cleaning up the damage and shipping off the
entire population, garrison and civilian back to France. Gordon and I were hoping to
get some rest and enjoying the ale houses of the town.
did give a bit of a rest. In reconition of our exploits, each man was fed a
true pound of beef, a pound of bread the French had left behind, and we were
each given a bottle of wine. We spent that night happy with full bellies, both
with beef and wine. I did feel sorry for the French we had captured. All of
them were now under guard in the British ships in the harbor. Soon enough, they
would be sent back to England
and the on to France.
THE SUMMER OF THE
About ten days
after the end of the siege, the Light Infantry Battalion was assembled on the
waterfront of Louisbourg. General Wolfe gave us our orders.
task of capturing this city is complete, but our expedition is not over. We
must find the remanants of French troops who are harassing the Western part of Nova Scotia. There is
also Saint John`s Island which must also be pacified. Brigadier Monckton and I
will lead expeditions to clear out those areas of Frenchmen. We will board
ships to take us away tomorrow. Ensure that you have all that you need to wage
war on the French. Officers, see to your men.” “King`s forces take care,
present your, arms!” With a slap and crash, three hundred men presented their
muskets in salute to their commander. General Amherst was busy with the overall
plan of what to do with a French city.
Our next bit of
soldering was to reduce the garrison and population of IsleSaint Jean
at Port La Joie. There was a small French earthwork fort there which we were
quickly able to force into surrender. The small detachment of Le Compaigne
Franches were not expecting a huge British army to attack them. The Acadians
however, must have known we were coming. Our commander had an estimate that
there were four thousand Acadians taking refuge there, however when we did go
about to gather them up, we only found seven hundred. The rest had fled up to
other French controlled areas of New France. It
was more of the same, terrible scences of men, women and children wailing,
families separated. I didn`t know it then, but some of the English troops had
been used to doing this in Scotland
when I was but a drummer boy. They found pleasure in destroying the Acadian
homes and herding them onto ships. To the English soldiers, they were French,
but to Gordon and I we knew who they were, and we had to reluctantly do as
As we went up
through the coast of the gulf
of Saint Lawerence, we
cleared out many small pockets of French settlements. Sometimes they had been
abandonded in haste to escape out advance, other times, we found them full of
refugees. No matter, they had run away only to be caught by us a little later
We did catch up
with a hostile bunch at Boishiberts island. Boshibert had gathered Acadians on
an island which we had built up for defense. With Mik Maq warriors, they had
begun to sweep down and save Acadians and try to slow our advance. For all the
French knew, we may have been trying to attack Quebec. But Durcour had made sure that we
couldn`t fight two sieges in the same summer.
We sailed into the
little bay in the Warren,
swivel guns and muskets primed. As we got closer to shore, the French and Mik
Maq began to fire on us. On of out lookouts in the maintop saw canoes and small
boats fleeing to the north. The Acadian partisans and Mik Maq were delaying us
so that the Acadian civilians could make a get away.
I aimed my small
gun at a group of warriors in the treeline and fired away. The smoke cleared to
show that in my haste to fire, I had misjuged the distance, The shot fell short
sending up a plume of water and sand just at the water line. Gordon led a party
ashore to attack and clear the beach. By the time we had all disembarked, the
enemy was gone. We then spent the rest of the day burning out fishing smacks,
drying racks and huts that had been this community.
settlements we attacked were clearly French, but it still bothered me that we
were attacking civilian settlements. I felt more like a pirate than a soldier.
Captain Goreham explained to us that each French settlement we burnt, meant the
French in Quebec
had that much less with which to fight us. Every fishing rack that was burnt,
or ship we sunk or took as a prize meant that more of King Louis` soldiers
would be hungry. But I also thought of all the women and children who would
also suffer in this war.
Every place from
the Miramichi to Mount-Louis was destroyed.
“Was it just the
rangers like you who were doing all these raids Grandfather?” “Well now, it was
the regular troops as well. Of course, we`d have to strike out into the forests
where we had the experience of woods fighting whereas the regular British
soldier was like those sheep I had to watch so many years ago.
Our biggest push
was on a settlement on the Gaspe peninsula. It
was the closest we would get to Quebec
in 1758. Wolfe led us on this attack. He was determined to strike fear into the
French authorities by showing them that with Louisbourg gone, the Royal Navy
could sail up without threat from French naval vessels.
was sent up the Saint John River. General
Monkton led the 35th, 2nd Battalion of the 60th
as well as the other half of the light infantry and rangers. There was word
that a large force of French, Acadians and Indians were lurking around the
area. They were pinning down the garrison at FortCumberland
and also would be a threat to Nova
Scotia when we advanced on Quebec. They went up quite a way up the
river but they never found that large force. The small Acadian partisans they
never did find. They spent a lot of time mapping out the area, and burning out
isolated homes and villages. They destroyed both French and Indian villages in
order to weaken the French hold on the area, and to deprive Quebec of any assistance.
During the winter,
most of the Royal Navy ships went home, a lot of the soldiers were sent to
different cities and towns. The 78th went to New York, which made me sad for I was making
a lot of friends in that regiment. The 1st Regiment went off to New York
“Where did you
stay that winter Grampie?” “Gordon and I stayed in Louisbourg and helped to
protect it. Though a lot of what we had to do was protect ourselves from the
ice and snow. Since we had bombarded a lot of the town, most of the buildings
were very drafty and some were ruins. I did meet a young lad named Henry who
was in the 22nd Regiment. He was from Chesshire and was a bright lad
but couldn`t read. He had gotten a place in our Light Infantry Battalion due to
his skills, but he was afraid that he would never advance past Private unless
he could read. So, I spent many a long day and night teaching him his letters,
and then having him write them on a small little slate I had found in the
Convent which had been the main French hospital.
Henry`s story was
a sad tale. He had been born in Northwich, Cheshire the son of a salt miner and a
milkmaid. His father was killed in a mine collapse and his mother, worn out by
her pregnancy had died after giving birth to him. He had been sent to the
parish orphanage and once at age 17 was then given to a recruiter by the parish
seeing as the bright lad might make something of himself in the army. One thing
he always talked about were the type of houses they had. They were called Tudor
style, built of black and white wood. And he was crazy about cheese as that was
also famous from there. Infact, most of the soldiers who had arrived at
Louisbourg had been eating ships biscuit and cheese which had come from Cheshire. Over one meal
he told us his story.
“When I was a lad,
the other boys in Northwich would tease me cruelly. They would either beat me
up, or force me to help them torture animals. They believed that my mother was
a harlot, and that my father was a rouge. They knew my father had died in the
mine, so for them, that meant I was lower than them. The only work that I could
do was that of a Link Boy, and I was only paid a farthing. I had to light the
way for many wicked people. Pickpockets would force me to lead wealthy sedan
chair passangers down dark alleys where they would ambush them. I was always
threatened by them with cruel punishments if I didn`t help them. They would
tell me that I`d get some guineas but they`d usually rob the passangers and
scamper off without giving me anything. More than once, I was cuffed by a
gentleman for having played a part in losing his watch, or money. That`s how I
ended up in the army.
One evening, I was made to light the way to a
Molly House down in a rookery where a wealthy gentleman was staying. As the man
came out, 2 boys tried to rob him. He drew out a muff pistol and shot one dead,
and drawing his rapier ran through the other boy. He grabbed me by the scruff
of my neck and dragged me away. I was thrown into prison for the robbery. But
seeing as the gentleman didn`t want his true actions known, I was taken to a
recruiting sergeant. That was about 7 years ago. And now, here I am, one of
Amherst`s chosen men.
why would they enlist prisoners as soldiers?” Anne wondered. “In times of war,
the army and navy need all the men they can get. If recruiting doesn`t fill up
the void, then recruiting parties will go to the local gaol and empty them of
any men who are fit. Sometimes they can volunteer but most they are thrown in,
given a uniform and musket and serve out their sentence in the service of the
king. Sometimes, their service in the army was actually longer than their initial
sentence for their crime.”
Gordon and I
helped the young lad to read and write. We`d also do small patrols in the woods
bordering the fortress. To add variety to our food, we`d also hunt or fish.
Once again, hunting was what I did well, but we had a different animal to hunt
then, the Caribou! They were a mighty animal, almost a big as moose, but
they`re almost all gone now. Too many English officers from Halifax have come out to hunt them. But oh my
were they tasty. We also stripped the hides and used the bones to make things.
Benard showed us how we could use the bones to make all manner of tools. The
antlers were the best for making buttons and knife handles. We`d trade them
with the other soldiers for tea or tobacco.
Some of the other
soldier also did leather work, having done that as their work before entering
the army. With all the hard work and conditions we worked in, your belts and
gear would break, wear out or you could loose it easily.” “Didn`t the army give
you all the things you needed Grandfather?” “Not always, if we were far away
from our fort, or the supplies didn`t arrive, we had to make do with what we
could find. Most English regiments were in bad shape. But our line of work
meant that we could improvise with the materials we could get out of the
When we hunted moose and caribou, nothing was
wasted. The antlers and bones were used as I said before, the meat was eaten,
the hides were turned into clothing, belts or equipment that we needed. Any
cattle that we shot, we also used what we could. The horns we`d take and turn
into powder horns which would keep it drier than the paper cartridges in out boxes
on our belts.
“But what did all
those things look like Grandfather?” Euan laughed and go up from his cane
chair. He walked over to the wall and pulled down his hunting gear from a peg
on the wall. “This brown bag here is my hunting bag. It wasn`t issued to us by
the army but was better for what we needed. I made this from the leather of a
moose I shot back in 1756. I sewed it together with other rangers in the
barracks at FortEdward.” Euan pulled out small pouches
and bags. “This rectangle one is a flint wallet. We made these to store our
spare flints. The army only issued you 3 good flints, but we always made sure
we had more in our bags. This little heart shaped one is a ball bag. I could
cram about 30 balls in one, so I`d usually have 3 bags in it. Now, this linen
bag is my haversack, but as you can see, the shoulder strap got stretched out
long ago. So we`d take canvas from worn out tents and make bags with them that
we could sling over our backs. On my waist belt, I`d have some more pouches to
put cloth patches to help clean the musket or to wrap my balls in when I shot
them. Sometimes, we didn`t have tents, only our blankets, so if it couldn`t be
carried on our backs, it didn`t go with us.
“Where would you
go to trade your goods grandfather?” “Like I do now, either to markets or to
pubs. In Louisbourg, the French pubs for sailors and soldiers were still going.
Of course, the customers and workers were now English. One of the more
interesting things we`d find were new prints from England posted on the walls. The
officers insisted on these being put up to help make sure we`d maintain
As though the lash
didn`t do that already.
The first one that
we saw was the Four Stages of Cruelty by Mr. Hogarth. It was a series of 4
prints which showed how bad boys would then become cruel men and commit foul
murders. It showed a boy who hurt a dog, then he would beat his horse then he
killed a woman. Another one that showed up was Beer Street and Gin Lane. These were pictures showing how
we should be drinking beer and staying healthy rather than drink Gin which was
much cheaper, but stronger. Many of the English soldiers who were at Louisbourg
had been addicted to Gin and had joined the army thinking that they could get
money to buy more gin.
From the stories that the English soldiers
told us, Gin was making the country mad. They would find people selling their
tools for gin, mothers would take their cook ware and pawn them off to buy gin.
Even more terrible, they heard of a case where a woman had taken her child to a
parish orphanage to be raised, but later on she came back and got him. She then
killed the boy and sold his clothes so that she could get money for gin. The
streets were full of violence, and people drunk in stupors. Some places sold
gin by the glass for a tuppence, dead drunk for a penny and then they`d let you
sleep it off in their stables full of straw.
Another set was A Harlot`s Progress, which
told us that we should not be with a lady of the evening.” “What`s that Grampie”
Euan blushed as he tried to think of a way to tell his granddaughter. “They are
ladies who will be a man`s wife only for one night, if the man pays her money.
It`s dangerous as you can get very sick, and the surgeons in the army were
always warning us not to do that. Plus a proper woman should marry for love and
only be with a man who will protect and cherish her. But not all girls are
lucky and sometimes have to do things that make them look evil to others. When
I`d see ladies of the evening painted up and calling to us, I never went to
them. Once, when Gordon and I were in Halifax,
we ended up in a cheap pub and there were some girls there who came up to us
and were tickling and teasing us. I just wanted to drink my beer. I was too shy
to be with a girl then. We could hear the tattoo coming up the street so we
were able to get out of there without getting into trouble.
Of course most of
the time in the winter was either staying warm, doing sentry duty or going on
patrols. The weather was just like in Annapolis Royal;
cold, snowy and it felt like it would never end. But being able to go to the
pubs gave us a chance to make new friends.
With the arrival
of spring, our war would continue.
WITH WOLFE TO QUEBEC.
Wolfe came back to
us looking threadbare and worn. He would get terrible sea sick, but at least he
was able to go home and see his family. The rank and file like us would only
ever see our families in our dreams, or if we survived, sent home as wounded.
The new invasion
fleet made it`s way to Louisbourg via England and Halifax. The 78th
Frasers Highlander`s came back, as did the … The fleet carried only 9000
soldiers and 18,000 sailors. The army that we used to attack Louisbourg had
been larger. Wolfe believed that his troops were better than the French, and in
the end, we would prevail he believed. Ranger patrols from other colonies had
reported that the French in Quebec
were getting weaker. We had close to 100 ships packed with artillery. In some
vessels, round shot was being used as ballast. Pitt in London was determined that Quebec would fall.
was going to advace up to FortTicondergoga so was not
with us this time. Wolfe would command us on our conquest.
All though the
spring, the army arrived. Eventually we had the 15th,28th,,35th,,60th and 78th
Regiments come back. We also had the 43rd, 47th ,48th
and 58th Regiments. The 22nd, 40th, 45th
Regiments provided their Grenadier companies to form the “Louisbourg
Grenadiers.” The Light infantry battalion would go taking the light companies
and rangers. We`d also have James Roger`s Rangers as well as four others. The
other troops present were more Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers and Marines
from the fleet.
We prepared as
best we could for the upcoming attack. Since the ships were so crowded with
men, women and children, as well as supplies, we`d build ladders fascines and
gabions when we got to Quebec.
Most of the army was well trained from having captured Louisbourg and also
fighting the French and Indians in northern New York. We spent most of the spring making
sure we had enough arms and ammunition. Most days, the rangers would cast
musket balls, and fill up our bullet pouches and fill our powder horns from the
main magazine. Of course we`d also have our cartridge boxes, but once they ran
out, we`d need other supplies of powder and ball. We also sharpened our knives
and tomahawks and drilled our tatics with the regulars. In order to win a
battle, all the soldiers have to work together and know what they need to do.
The morning was
getting on, and Emily came in shrieking. "Euan, go for a walk in the
fields to check on our cows?" "Oh my goodness, you are right, I
almost forgot, we need to go milk them." So off the little girl and the
old man walked out into the crispy October morning. Anne pulled her shawl close
to her and Euan took his old hunting frock and put it on. Even though he had
had this coat for over 40 years, it still provided warmth.
They walked along
the path that led from their cabin down the hill to where the cows were
grazing. As they got closer, they could hear them bellowing. "Oh dear,
we`re a little late, and the cows are in pain". Euan blushed in embarrassment,
"well let`s get to it, I can still tell you some stories while we milk
them. Just watch the cow dung.
As both sat to
work, Euan continued with his story.
“Now the most
amazing thing that I heard on our journey to Quebec was what had happened to some of the
British soldiers at the beginning of the war. Governor Shirley and General
Pepperrel had decided to raise their own regiments. They were to be full
fledged British regulars, but recruited from colonials. They were the 50th
and 51st Regiments. They had been sent to garrison FortOswego
but Montcalm had attacked and defeated the army that Shirley had placed there.”
“But Grandfather, what does that have to do with you going to Quebec?” “Well see after that battle, both
regiments, what was left of them were first marched to Montreal as prisoners but were then marched
on to Quebec
where they were embarked on a merchant ship to Portsmouth in England. How we found out about
that was that some of the prisoners were drafted into other regiments which
were being sent to Louisbourg and Quebec.
One of them, a man by the name of Cooper was glad to get his revenge on the
French. He told us how the Indians under Montcalm had destroyed, stolen or
broken as much as they could, and then taken many of the prisoners to either
scalp, or to be slaves in their encampments. The French officers were able to
stop most of that, and living in French prisons in Canada had been hard. A lot of his
friends had died at FortOswego, not by French
fire, but from sickness. The forts that they had built were useless as the
French had brought stronger guns which blew the wooden walls apart. This time,
he wanted the chance to kill some Frenchmen. But it would be a long summer
before we could do that.
Most of us didn`t
know how rough the Saint Lawerence river was. The Royal Navy had no charts of
the area, and our little boats the rangers used couldn`t do as good a job as a
frigate. We could get into small places, but extened voyages were impossible. So
when we sailed up the river, we had to do so at a slow pace, for fear of
wrecking. We were told that a British expedition on Quebec back in 1711 had been foiled by the
elements and the rocky coast. One of the other ranger patrols had captured a
local Frenchman and pressed him into service as a pilot on the leading British
As rangers, we led
the way. We first had to find a place for the whole army to encamp. The Island
of Orleans was chosen, and Monckton`s brigade began to entrench, and encamp
upon it. The area was so well defended, that we really couldn`t do proper
patrols outside our entrenchments to scout out the countryside. At least, not
unless we were part of a big force. From Orleans,
we could see the town, and the rest of the French defenses. Opposite our camp
on the north shore was Montcalm`s main defensive positions. This was the area
of the Beauport
shore. It looked like the best place to land. But first, we had to dig our own
defenses for our gun batteries. Wolfe had one force encamp on the eastern bank
of the Montmorency river on July 8. This was risky because if we separated our
army too much, the French militia and Indians could isolate us. But Montcalm
stayed in his trenches. By July 12th, our guns were in position on
Point Levy and the Royal Artillery began to fire on the town.
“How many cannons
did the army have Grandfather?” “Well I`m not quite sure, but I think it was
around 5 mortars, 6 32lbs guns, and other cannons. I only knew about the big
guns because some of them had been used in defenses in FortAnne
and Halifax. In
just two weeks, fifteen thousand cannon balls had been fired on Quebec and we could see
that around two hundred houses were destroyed. The Royal artillery even began
to fire hot shot on the town.” “What`s a hot shot?” “It`s when the gunners in
the artillery will use an iron stove to heat up the cannon balls until they are
red hot. Then they are carefully loaded into the gun and fired at a target.
Sometimes, they are used on ships, but Wolfe knew that we only had a limited
amount of time to try and capture the city. We were going to use every trick we
could think of to make the French surrender.
“Didn`t the French
try to come out and attack you Grandfather?” “Yes they did. About a week after
we had started to fire on the town, a large body of French attempted to attack
us at our camp. Now attacking in the dark takes a lot of practice, and even
though there soldiers were defending their homes, most of them were untrained.
Gordon and I were
asleep in our tent when we awoke to the sound of musket fire. All the rangers
and troops in our part of the camp stood to, expecting to be fallen upon by
Militia or Indians. We looked out and could see stabs of flame in the trees and
along the river bank. “Captain Goreham sir, are there any patrols out that way
this night?” I asked. “No, I`m not sure what that is.” All night we could hear
this party fire at each other. In the morning, Gordon and I took our groups
down to where we had heard the firing. It felt like we were hunting again, but
not moose and caribou, rather, we felt like the trees had eyes and we were the
game to be shot. I saw an officer propped up on a tree. I ran over to him and
to my amazement, I remember seeing this man before. “Gordon look, it`s the same
officer we shot at Louisbourg. Indeed, Cadet Lorraine was lying there, but this time, he
had taken a musket ball to his arm. He was weakened by the loss of blood, so we
picked him up and took him back to the surgeon`s lines. When he came too, I was
there as well as officers who could speak French to find out what had happened.
merchants were crying up a storm from your guns firing on the lower town. They
demanded that Montcalm send out a raiding party to attack the gun positions. We
were all voluntaries but most of the men were untrained. We had a few regulars,
but most were militia and seminary students who wanted to avenge the town.
During the advance to here, some of the students thought they saw movement, and
without waiting for orders, began to fire at the moving tree branches. The
militia believed that they were being fired on by rangers. The regulars had no
idea who was firing at who but from their position, they could view the musket
flashes pointing in their direction. Some musket balls hit the soldiers and
trees about them, so they also fired back. It was a huge shambles. When I came
too, the ranger who captured me at Louisbourg was helping me to the surgeons
assured him, “Fear not Cadet Lorrine, your arm will be saved. Please take a bit
of wine, bread and cheese from the officer`s mess. Cpl. Kenny, you may return
to your duties.”And with a flick of a wrist, the officer brushed me off, as
though I was unworthy of any further information. The fact that the next
morning that we saw about 20 other bodies lying about was not inquired upon. By
the time I got back with Gordon to check to see if there were any more
survivors, they had been dragged away by the Indians. We lost a good chance to
gather more intelligence from them. Lorrine wouldn`t give anymore information.
He was protecting his honor as an officer, and the honor of his home. He would
never betray either to the enemy. Throughout the whole Quebec campaign, Wolfe always seemed to be
moving as though we were in a big fog. Maybe it was because the army did not
have much prior knowledge of Quebec,
or maybe he didn`t trust rangers.
thereafter, the generals decided that we needed to find areas that were weak in
the French defenses. Around the middle of July, we did a night raid on
Pointe-aux-Trembles. It was a small village and the only occupants we found
were about two hundred women and children! We carefully loaded them on our
ships and took care of them.” “Did you have to deport them too?” Anne cried. “No,
Wolfe wanted to scout out a place to land. The next day, we landed them at
Anse-des-Meres. Once the women and children made it on shore, they climbed up
the hill easily and quickly. We now knew that there would be places where the
army could land to the west of the city.
As was the case at
Louisbourg and Halifax, the army camps that were set up about the city were
filled with soldiers trying to rest from their exhaustive work, and to try and
clear their heads of some horrifying scences. One young lad named Ned Botwell,
being a Sargeant in the 47th Regiment began to compose a song called
Hot Stuff which began to make the rounds about each camp. It was set to the
fife tune The Lily`s of France.
“Come each death
doing dog who does venture his neck. Come follow the hero that goes to Quebec. Jump aboard of
the transports and loose every sail. Pay your debts at the tavern by giving leg
bail. And ye that loves fighting shall soon have enough. Wolfe commands us me
boys and we`ll give them Hot Stuff.”
It was amazing how
the songs we would sing, would lighten our hearts and give us comfort. Be it a
lovely ballad from the old country, to a rousing soldiers song, to drinking or
talking about girls and ladies. They would always give us the courage to live
on to another day and survive to the end of our expedition.”
“So the British
army just fired cannons on the city, and the soldiers sat around eating,
drinking and singing?” “No Anne, it wasn`t all fun and games. We soon would see
what the French could do. We would sit around the fires at night to sing to try
and be human again. Most of us didn`t want to kill other men, we all just
wanted to have food in our bellies and to live.”
Wolfe was getting
anxious to break the French lines. We couldn`t just bombard the city into dust.
The French would simply melt away to Montreal.
Across the shore from our main camp, there was a river with a waterfall.
Monmorency was where the next part of my saga began. On the last day of July,
the landing boats filled with the Grenadiers of the army, and the light
infantry battalion along with the rangers rowed across the river to try and
make a new position.
As we all rowed
across, Ned Botwell began singing his tune. All of the soldiers took it up. The
fifes and drums also began to play the Grenadiers march. All of us were full of
pent up energy and we wanted to be at the enemy. The Grenadiers began to land.
There was a small redoubt at the foot of the cliffs near the ford by the falls.
Initally, as the lines of Grenadiers moved forward with fixed bayonets, the few
French defenders fell back. Wolfe then ordered the troops to begin storming the
heights. But the Grenadiers, filled with a frenzy of energy began to run up the
hillside in a disorganized manner. There officers were attempting to reform
their ranks. As the first tall soldiers cleared the summit, the French began to
It was like they
were all around us. Bullets were flying everywhere. It seemed like the entire
French army was firing down on us. I looked up and saw that the French,
Canadians and Indians were entrenched and were merely aiming their muskets at
any redcoat on the hill. Scores of Grenadiers began to fall. The rangers stayed
with the boats in case the French tried to come and flank us along the beach.
We had to duck down as the balls began to smack and crash into the longboats. A
few rangers cried out in pain. I looked over and one of James Rogers men had
been hit first by a musket ball and then by a splinter which had ricocheted off
the boat he was next to. He fell into the water kicking an splashing, turning
it red. He eventually stopped moving. After about thirty minutes of this, Wolfe
ordered everyone back to the boats. My section quickly manned the oars to aid
the sailors. Panicked and confused Grenadiers began to fill up the boats and we
roweded back to shore. Since I was rowing, my back was to the way we had come
while my front I could see everything on the shore. It was littered with the
dead and dying. The Indians began to run down and scalp those poor men. Just at
the bottom of the hill, I saw Ned Botwell. He had been shot in the upper chest.
He lay there with his life bleeding out of him onto the rocks of the shore. He
died watching us fall back on our camp. We sang the song that night in his
memory. Those of us who could wrote down the words in our journals. No matter
what has happened in my life, I always remembered Ned Botwell. He gave us a
spirit to go by. But after his death, that spirit of courage and optimism died
with him. It was a very long summer.
What was worse,
the weather began to turn bad. Cold, rainy foggy days arrived in August. Since
Montcalm took on a strategy of waiting, Wolfe became increasingly grumpy. We
could sometimes hear the officers argue about what to do next.
One morning, Major
Scott assembled the rangers and light infantry battalion.
Infantry and Rangers are hereby tasked with ravaging the countryside. Since
Montcalm has chosen not to fight, we shall use one of his own tricks against
him. When he attacked Fort William- Henry four years ago, he sent out war
parties of Canadians and Indians. They ravaged the frontier wrecking havoc on
settlements and impeding our campaigns. This time, we shall see how the French
like it. Each Ranger company and Light Infantry company shall be split into
squads to go along the south shore of this river. We may also go on the North
shore as well. Every building save churches shall be burnt out. All livestock
which cannont be carried back to our army shall be shot. All crops still in
fields shall be burnt. General Wolfe assures us that this strategy will work.
It drove the Highland Scots to defeat, now we shall use it on the French and
“Why did you do
the same to the Canadians as you did to the Acadians Grandfather?” Euan`s face
dropped into a sad look. “Well this time, our plan was to not take these people
away, but to try and make the French surrender faster. If an Army and a city
starve, a commander can`t continue on. A lot of Montcalm`s army were Canadian
militiamen. We`d catch sight of them trying to go back home to harvest their
crops and bring food into the city. When we did, we`d have small skirmishes
On one occasion we
had a scrap with them. Gordon and I led our sections into a village on the
south side of the river. When we arrived, only the women and children were at
home. A few women took out some blunderbusses and fired at us. Two of my men
were shot in the initial volley from the houses. I ran up to the window of one
and yelled at them in French. “Ladies and children, I will not harm you, but if
you try and kill any of my men again, I shall fire your house with allowing you
to escape.” The children were screaming in fright. The women screamed and
cursed at us. Once we got them all huddled together in the centre of the
village by the church, I then tried to comfort them. Gordon and I had made
molasses cookies over the fire during the previous days. We decided to do this
so that if we met a large amount of kids, we`d give them the food to quiet
them. Since a lot of familes husbans, sons and brothers were away in the city,
there were no breadwinners at home. Most of the women, and children who were
old enough had been trying to harvest and take care of their farms, but without
their men folk, there was no way they would succeed.
“You said you
hated doing that to the Acadians, but what about the Canadians?” “By this time
Anne, most of us had become numbed to what war did to us. For weeks we went up
and down the river to burn out towns and villages. At another village, we
arrived just as some of the men and boys came back. We had a sharp skirmish.
Gordon`s group took one side of the village to attack, we took the other.
It was a damp day. We had had to wrap our
locks with waxed linen to try and keep the powder dry. I saw one young farmer
take aim at me and fire. He just missed my head, so I pointed my musket up and
pulled the trigger, but all the happened was CLICK. My musket misfired, or so I
thought. I took the weapon down from my shoulder and went to prime it again when
the priming went off and the musket fired. The problem was, I had just looked
down and the flame from the lock shoot up into my face! I remember thinking,
which one of my men is screaming. The blast from the lock blinded me for a bit
and my hands had flown up into my face and I had fallen onto a rock in the
I was rolling around trying to put out the
fire on my face. My whiskers had caught as did my bear fur on my bonnet. Gordon
ran up to me and flipped me over.” “Jesus Euan, I`ll help you. Someone get a
canteen and pour it on his face.” I felt the cool water splash on to my face
and I could hear my eye brows sizzle like bacon in the pan. We got the fire
out. As you can see now, my face wasn`t badly burned. The patrol picked me up
and rushed back down to the river shore and loaded me into the long boat we
had. The rangers quickly rowed me out to the sloop which was supporting us. I
was taken into the ships cockpit and the surgeon began to clean up my face. My
face felt greasy and my hands went up to my cheek. When I pulled it away, it
was covered in butter! I stayed in the cockpit until the ship returned to our
camp the next day. I was taken to the surgeon`s lines and worked on a bit more.
Luckily my burns were like I had been in the sun too long. We took my musket to
the armourer and they worked on my frizzen to harden it. When it was returned
to me, it was so well done, that it would strike a spark in the rain, and I was
given some new flints. After that, anytime I fired and it was a hang fire, I made
sure my face or any other part of my body was no where near the lock.
“What happened to
the Canadians Grandfather?” “Those who could fled to other French controlled
areas. There wasn`t much point in running to the city, the people there had
their own problems. Those who stayed, lived in the churches we sparred. Despite
the fact that we were protestants, Wolfe did not believe that burning down
houses of God was necessary. It was the only consideration he gave to the
civilians of Quebec.
There were plenty of American Rangers who wanted to destroy them, as they
viewed the Catholic church as bad, but for me, it has never matter who or how
The mornings were beginning to get crispy with that touch of frost. At night,
the sentries would try to keep warm with whatever they could find. Wolfe had
gotten sick during the last few weeks. The Generals were desperate in what they
wanted to do. The north shore of the river was the place they needed to land,
and to try and force Montcalm to come out and fight. We found a place called
Anse au Foulon, which was only defended by an abates and a small detachment of
On September 12th,
the army was assembled and Wolfe gave us a speech. He was dressed in a basic
redcoat with a black armband in mourning for his father. Around his waist, he
had a cartridge box and bayonet. Over his shoulder was slung a musket. To the
rest of us, he appeared like any other soldier and it gave us heart to see that
even our commander wanted to get out there and fight.
“The enemy is now
divided. Their supplies are running out thanks to your efforts in raiding the
countryside. We have struck a strong blow upon the Canadians. All our soldiers
are ready, the artillery and tools are waiting for us to storm. The first group
of troops will clear the way for the rest of the army. You must all climb a
hill to get at the French. They do no think we can climb. We must all do so
with the upmost silence and push off any small resistance we meet. Be careful
not to fire on those who cleared the way for you. Our country expects us to do
our duty, we have shown the French what we are capable of, now is the time to
fight against them. The French have but only 5 weakend battalions and
disorderly peasants. You soldiers must obey your officers and be resolute in
As I stood there
listening to what our general was saying, I couldn`t help thinking that he was
being overly optimistic. Granted, we had been pounding the French for close to
two months, but they had defeated our first assault. I also found that his
opinion of the Canadian militia was misplaced. They had done a pretty fine time
of defeating the British before, what was to stop them this time?
were asked for to be in the initial advance, Gordon and I stepped forward. We
also had a Fraser officer from the light infantry section join us. We loaded
ourselves into the longboats and waited to advance on the city. Before we
departed, we all had a tot of rum to fortify our courage. There were brigades
sent out as diversions and the Royal Navy began to bombard the town again
around . We had boarded
our boats at , and
had allowed the current to let us drift over to the other side. We knew that
the French were going to send down boats with provisions for the city. From
some prisoners we had taken, they had told us that the French soldiers were
ordered not to cry out for fear of alerting the British. As we got closer to
the shore, the French sentries believed that we were the provisions. We could
hear the warships bombarding the town, which was keeping the main garrison
busy. In our ranger uniforms of black and blue, it was easy to mistake us for
French colonials. We silently captured the French sentries. General Murray had
joined us and signaled to the other boats that we had made our landing. Gordon
and I with the Fraser officer in tow crept slowly up the path to the field that
the officers had sighted just days ago. All we knew, was that it was an open
clearing. We had no idea if there were troops encamped on it, or if in fact, we
were going to find new entrenchments there. As we climbed, a sentry challenged
“Who goes there” a
French voice asked? The Scottish officer replied, we are French you idiot, if
you cry out again, the English will hear you idiot.” We kept going up and came
upon an advance guard of French soldiers. There were only about 30 of them and
most were asleep. We took most of them prisoners, but a few escaped. We hoped
they wouldn`t raise an alarm.
It was a steep
slope, at times we had to use tree roots and branches to climb up. All night we
went up. Just before dawn, it began to rain. It made it worse for us. The rain
dripped off the branches and down our necks. It was a cold drizzle that made it
more unpleasant. Finally, we got up onto the plain. Murray and the Fraser
officer used their telescopes. I looked out upon an open field which was clear.
It was a bit uneven closer to the French walls, but for us, it was perfect. The
regular British soldiers quickly and quietly were formed up into two ranks.
Quietly, they were given the command to prime and load twice. Each soldier
would have two balls down the barrel when the French would come. The rangers
and light infantry, we went to the left of the line. Wolfe was gambling by
extending his line to just over two kilometers. And then we stood there and
By about , the French had seen us formed up
on the field. At once, we saw a large body of Canadians and Indians trying to
make our way around our left flank. The Rangers and light infantry were placed
there. Our job was to defend the main line of troops. For about an hour, we
fired on them to keep them back. My group was a mixture of Rangers and Light
Infantrymen from the different. I had Gordon on my right and Henry the former
Link boy on my left. We were keeping up a brisk fire when one Indian stood up
close to us and fired. I dropped him with one shot, but Henry was on his back.
“Henry, are you
hit?” As I picked up his body to check him, my hand came away covered in blood.
I looked down and he had a musket ball pass through his lower stomach. He was
going into a state of shock. “Euan, I`m hurt bad, hold me please.” “I`ll hold
you lad, we`ll get you to the surgeon`s lines, no fret boy.” But already his
face was going pale, the blood was pouring out of him. I held him on the ground
and rocked him, like he was my little brother. “Euan, please don`t forget, I`ve
no family, I wanted a wife and child, but I`ll not live to do so.” “Ahh Henry,
don`t despair, you`ll be alright” He began to weep crying out in sobs, “Mummy,
mummy, I want my mummy”, then he shook and stopped breathing. I laid his body
down and closed his eyes”. I was filled with so much emotion, I didn`t know
what to do.
At that moment, I
could hear the French troops drums and fifes advancing towards us. I looked up,
and saw French columns firing on our line. But I couldn`t believe that they
would fire at such a long range. Perhaps one of the French officers felt that
with the size of their force, they would sweep down the hill. But as they
advanced closer, I could see that the line was made up of both French regular
and militia. When they fired, the militia would drop down and reload but this
caused the whole French advance to slow down. Our boys stood there. Again, the
French advanced and fired, this time a few of our lads dropped. When they were
only about 50 meters away,
kneeling make ready, present, FIRE”. Both ranks fired. The sound was like a mad
clap of thunder. As the smoke cleared, there were great gaps in the French
line, but they still held. Then the command came “CHARGE YOUR BAYONETS” The
British regulars pointed their muskets forward. The 78th Highlanders
began to cheer and yell their different clan war cries in Gaelic. Then their
pipers struck up. The Highland way to charge
was to drop your musket and then draw your broadsword and dirk and then go at
the enemy. The Rangers and Light Infantry, we began to move forward as well.
I was so angry, I
slung my musket over my back, took out my plug bayonet, and my tomahawk and
began to scream. Gordon did the same, taking out his hunting knife and
tomahawk. Those rangers who had them fixed bayonets and we all charged at the
The main French
line collapsed. I could see one officer mounted on his horse and then I heard
one the cannons that had been brought up. The officer on the horse shook and
began to fall, but I could see four soldiers run up to hold him. I looked back
on our own lines, and I saw four men standing around in a group. They all
looked like officers, and I found it amazing that they were not advancing. Then
I heard an officer cry, “They run see how they run, The French sir!” Later did
we learn, that Wolfe had died just after the officer had yelled.
The Indians and
Militia were falling back under our advance, but they were still putting up a
good fire. As the Highlanders closed, a lot of them were cut down by the
flanking fire. When our charge arrived we cut into the corn field where some of
the Canadians and Indians had been hiding. Any of those poor devils we cut
apart. I was surprised that I had so much rage at the time. All summer, we had
been shot at, and we`d been fighting both the French and Indians. Besides the
attempt on Montmorency, we had no chance to give the French our wrath. I just
nearly escaped being shot by one milita man and I fell on him with both my
weapons. He died from my stabs and cuts. I was so enraged at the time, that I
didn`t think of him as another man, but something which had to be destroyed. It
was a horrible feeling that I had. I suppose it was because of all of the anger
and fear I had been feeling, not only that summer but for many years. As they
fell back under our assault, we kept firing back and they fell back into the
While we were
advancing, we were stepping over the bodies of the French dead and wounded.
French, Canadian, Indian, Acadian, all those who we had been fighting for the
past four years lay about what had once been a farmer`s field. You could hear
the weeping and screams of pain from all over. The whole battle, had lasted
The rest of the
day, we spent looking for wounded amoung the dead. The dead, we began to collect
together. Eventually, we`d dug a huge pit, and put both French and British dead
together. It was important to bury these men quickly as we didn`t want to get
sick from them, and also, the French inside the walls of Quebec might have wanted to attack us again.
We waited there to
see if the French would surrender. We began to build about 12 redoubts to cover
our artillery. If they didn`t surrender, the British commanders decided we
would pound Quebec
until they did. In the late afternoon, the French came out to try and get their
wounded. We fought them off, and linked the redoubts with a ditch. The Royal
Artillery began to bring up 24 pounders, mortars, and howitzers. Seeing this,
the townspeople began to panic, and eventually, the French came out and
surrendered on September 15. The women and children of the city were escorted
by the British army to the French lines. We were all anxious because even
had fallen, Montreal
and the rest of the French army awaited us. All the troops which had been
entrenched on the North bank of the St. Lawerence river retreated towards Montreal. We marched into
the city on the 18th and began to prepare for the winter.
Our first duty we
began was a drum head church service in memory of our Brave General Wolfe. His
body had already been placed in a cask of rum to be shipped back to England with
the other invalids and wounded. The drums of the serving regiments were laid
out and the chaplins of the regiments gave blessings and benedictions to the
The soldiers were
all marched up by their battalions and companies and each man removed his headgear.I remember the soft autum breeze blowing
across what had been a battlefield. It was a time for us to remember those who
had died and were wounded. It was a great time of peace after we had been
creating a war in this country. The chaplins of the regiments spoke to us. The
service was in the Church of England as that was the faith the British army
practiced. The firery Presbeterian chaplin to the 78th Frasers
Highlanders did a good job at assuring us that though we had broken some of
God`s commandments, our courage and discipline had saved us from damnation.
Though, he stressed that our glory and salvation would be taken from us if we
were to fall into a drunken sinful revelry. None of us felt like going crazy on
the population. We all knew that if might be possible for the French to come
back. After the battle of September 13, we dug a large pit in the battlefield
and put all the dead, English, French or Indians in the hole and covered them
up. It was done quickly as the officers were concerned with more disease
spreading. We first stripped the bodies of anything useful. Some of the bodies
had already been striped of most of their clothes by a desperate population.
Soldiers would go for shoes, food or valuables. Civilians would go for clothes
that would fit them. Even the wounded would be striped, sometimes they would be
killed in order for people to steal their clothing. It was cruel, but wars are
For myself, I just
wanted to be through with all the fighting and killing. We were a conquering
army in a foreign land, and I would never allow myself to turn into what the
English had done in Scotland
The main camp
moved from Orleans,
to the plains of Abraham, and we stayed there until October. The French
garrison were now our prisoners and were loaded on board the ships for the
journey back to England.
The civilians who remainded in the city, we were to treat well. The British
army was strict in discipline, we were not to terrorize the population. We had
to keep good relations with them, because we were not sure if the French would
try and attack us again.
“But how did you
prepare for the winter if you had burnt out the French crops” “My you are a
smart child aren`t you? We had indeed destroyed the French stores, but we did
have our own supplies. The senior officers and Navy would be leaving. What
stores they didn`t need, they left with us. They could replenish at Halifax before sailing
back to England.
General Murray was left to command us.
All the soldiers
left over from the campaign were garrisoned in Quebec for the winter. Three regiments were billeted
in the lower town. The 78th were placed in Saint-Roch other`s were
even placed in the former Intendant`s palace. We made strong emplacements and
had many sentry posts. We knew winter was coming, but we also had to stay vigilant.
This had been the French capital. We knew, that in winter, the French could try
and take it back.
“So you stayed in
the walls all winter?” “No, in November, we were sent to Trembles to try and
push the French out. But they held firm, and we knew that more soldiers could
arrive to help them. We wouldn`t be getting any new soldiers until spring, and
that was a long time away. So we spent our time, gathering firewood. From time
to time, we skirmished with the French and Indians, but soon, the cold and snow
placed both armies at rest. There was no way we could fight, so we huddled
together and tried not to freeze.
“What about the
French people in the city?” “Well, those people like I said we treated nicely.
Actually, they treated us rather well. Considering that we had bombed the city
with the artillery. They took care of themselves as best as they could. We
would trade them salt, lard, ships biscuit for their sheep, pigs and chickens.
The most important was vegetables as it would keep us from getting sick. We
never stole, we always paid or traded. Still, most of the soldiers suffered. I
couldn`t understand why. A lot of us had stayed in Louisbourg the last winter,
but then again, most of those soldiers had been in Nova Scotia for the better part of five
years. We had all gotten used to the climate. The boys from the 58th,
47th and other British regiments had never experienced a cold
Canadian winter. As it got colder, and the snow began to fall, the armies appearance
began to look rather less than that of a professional army, to that of a band
of ragged men.
“Didn`t the army
give warm clothes to them?” “Well you see Anne, the generals and officers in
England have no idea what it`s like here. Officers who stay here always send
requests back to England
for more supplies, but I suppose that the high officers can`t believe what
winter is like here. For example the 78th Fraser`s were in kilts.
Now most Scottish Highlanders can survive the winter, it does snow in Scotland, but
it never gets as cold as here. So, the Ursline Nuns knit the Highlanders long
hose to augment what they were wearing. In fact, the Nuns had taken care of
many of the wounded and sick during and after the siege. As a result of this,
the British army fed them over that winter. They treated all, and refused none.
Despite what we had done to their city, and the fact that we weren`t Catholics,
they took care of us. That`s one of the amazing things about that war that I
As to what we
wore, well you wore what you could find. The army issued us two blankets in
winter. What a lot of soldiers did was turn one blanket into a capote which was
the blanket coat the Canadian militiamen would wear when fighting in the
winter. It was warm, and practical. The Candians would close it with a sash, but
we just buckled our waist belt and that kept it closed. They were big enough to
wear over our regimental coats and many a night on sentry duty, I was glad I
had it. The coats were in many different colors so it was hard to tell the
French from British troops in a snowstorm. Lots of soldiers had mittens and
scarfs tied about them. They put the capotes over top of their regimental coats
and then place their equipment over that. But still, they were cold. As the
winter wore on, and the fresh vegetables began to give out, scurvy began again,
and other winter sickness.
As rangers, we
always had warm clothes for the winter. My leggings though were beginning to
wear out by February. It was then, that General Murray decided that we would
make another push against the French. He must have thought that the weather was
going to improve soon. But like most British officers, he had no idea how the
weather really dictated how we could wage war.
It was February 13, 1760. “We set
out to clear off the French who were raiding up to our lines to get any
foodstuffs. We believed the French were raiding, but they must have been asking
for help from their countrymen. We were sure that the Canadians would help out
the French as they spoke the same language and shared the same culture. We were
the enemy to them.
It was in this
skirmish that Gordon got wounded. We crossed to Levis, the area we had been all summer. The
French, whose coat colors blended in with the snow and trees were not easy to
spot. As Gordon`s picket led the way, I covered his group. Just as he reached
the tree line, a Huron warrior smashed into him with his war club. He kept
beating at him with it, but luckily, Gordon was able to deflect the majority of
them with his musket. His arms and ribs were hurt badly and he nearly got
brained but I was able to shoot the warrior. We fired on them for about an hour
when finally the French fell back. By this time Gordon was getting as white as
the snow, with the blood pouring out of his nose. I threw him over my shoulder
and we retreated back to the river. However, the ice had floated in and thus,
we had to haut the boat through water and the ice. It took us until late
evening to finally get Gordon to the hospital. He was gasping and groaning in
pain. The nuns and orderlies set his bones right. But his fingers on his right
hand were never straight again. He still carries the scares on his ankle where
the warriors knife tried to get him.
“But what do you
mean by he had scars on his ankle if they were kitting him Grandfather?” “Well
Indian war clubs come in many shapes and sizes. Some are like a gun stock,
others are a long heavy stick that was naturally curved and then carved with a
ball head. Some had ball heads and also iron blades. Since Gordon was using his
musket to deflect the blows of the club, the blade was hitting his legs.
Like now, winter
was the hardest part of the year. For us in Quebec, it was even worse. Not only did we
have to fight the enemy, but also try to stay warm, keep from getting sick, but
But, we usually
found ways to fight the boredom. As long as we kept it quiet, we could play
cards in the barracks. Some of us who had instruments that survived the
battles, would play music and sing. A lot of times, we sang Ned Botwell`s song
of Hot Stuff, because we wanted to remember him, and also it would take our
minds off the fact that once the battle was over, we had to endure the
suffering of the winter.
Scurvy made it`s
rounds, as did the flux, and many men also got consumption from the damp weather.
It was a miracle that when General Murray ordered us out in February, that he
had enough men fit to fight.
Around mid April,
we got word from our forward picquets that the French were advancing on us! Levis was moving most of
his army to attack us. No doubt, he believed that with a strong enough push, he
could drive us out of the city, and hold it, further prolonging the war, and
also attempting to save the colony of New France.
What was amazing, was that he had an army of nearly seven thousand men! They
were the remanents of the army Montcalm had had in the summer, and who had been
able to slip away in the fall to Montreal.
“Didn`t all the
French soldiers get sent to England
Grandfather?” “Not all of them did. A lot had been able to fall back to Montreal. Plus there were
still troops who had not been in the siege. The La Reine Regiment, who were the
French Queen`s regiment had been in forts in western New France. They, along
with the French colonial troops, militia and warriors made up the army that was
going to try and retake Quebec
“Once again, we
went out to meet the French. This time, it was at Sainte Foy. There was a mill which we took
position in. While waiting for the French to advance, the rangers and light
infantry began to make loopholes in the walls of the buildings. “Euan, it`s
just like that time we fought at Saint Croix. What is it with these places
named after saints that we have to fight over?” “I know Gordon, these places
will get more holey than most in a few minutes” Gordon laughed himself silly at
my little joke.
As the French
troops began to move out of the woods, the Royal Artillery began to fire on
them. We had plenty of cannon, powder and shot, so this was not a waste. By
late April, we had begun to entrench ourselves around the mill. That wasn`t
easy to do. The ground was still hard, or as it would thaw, it would be a mix
of mud and snow. But we needed to have some sort of protection from French
however, were snug in the houses around the area. On the morning of April 28, 1760, the second
battle for Quebec
The French ships
that had sailed down to Montreal
now sailed back up. They held the French guns, and soldiers who would now
strike us. Levis,
decided that he must have control of the windmill, in order to control the
heights with which he could then use his artillery to fire on us. Most of our
own defenses were so spread out, that it would have been impossible for us to
cover them all, and meet the French on the field of battle.
Murray led the army out of the walls. We provided covering fire for the
advance. Most of the army was coming out to beat off the French. The French
advanced in neat columns but our artillery blew them apart. We cheered as they
fell back into the woods.
Our own soldiers
began to advance rapidly down the hill. The artillery, tried to keep up with
the advance but got bogged down in the snow and mud.
What we didn`t
know, was that another group of French troops were now flanking our line, and
they simply walked out of their part of the woods, and fired into our army.
The French charged
us, and we had to fight them off with our bayonets, knives and swords. The
field had worked well for us in the summer, but it was not to the French that
the advantage fell. All around us, we could see French soldiers. Their fire
seemed to come from everywhere. Our troops were falling into ourselves, which
meant that we couldn`t fire well for fear of hitting our own men.
Quickly, Murray ordered us all to
fall back into the city walls. As the main force fell back, we had to provide
cover fire again. This was only the second time, that I had been in a battle
and we were losing. I was trying hard to fight off the rising panic that
threatened to overwhelm me. I was so scared Anne, that I wet myself. It looked
like it was going to be all over for us.
By the time we got
inside, the French were only six hundered meters away from us. They then took
over our positions that we had been working so hard on the last few months.
Our officers spoke
with us to calm our fears, and to instill in us our morale as British soldiers.
Captain Scott had
been promoted to Major and proceeded to speak to us
army`s survival in the last attack must rest solely on the bravery of the
British Light Infantry.” Now the way that he said it, he meant the regular
soldiers, not the rangers who were also under his command. “The French may have
beaten us on the field, but we still hold this city. We have plenty of guns,
powder and shot, and our army is the best bloody army in the world.” With that,
most of the soldier cheered. The colonial rangers like ourselves had little
time for Major Scott. When he was a Captain back in Annapolis
Royal years ago, he made his opinion known of how the rangers
fared in his opinion. Though, it was our hard work, and our ability to defeat
the French and Indians at their own way of warfare that kept officers like him
alive. He had gained command of our Light Infantry group by converting one
company of the 40th Regiment as a light company. He had been taught
by our own Captain Goreham, but in the typical English way, he dismissed us as
mearly disciplined militia. To officers like him, we were a necessary evil.
Even Wolfe had no appreciated us fully. He did appreciate our ability to
provide him with intelligence on the enemy, but it was generally our appearance
that made most officers weary of us.
attempted to place us under siege, but we noted that their cannon fire was
slack. For every shot they fired, we could send back three or four. The French
were building new siege works to try and take us before the first ships of
spring arrived. None of us knew if it would be a French or British relief
force. Our communications with the outside world were cut off. We couldn`t send
runners down to Louisbourg without fear that they would be captured by Acadian
partisans or hostile natives.
beginning weeks of spring, it was a waiting game. We constantly wondered what
was going to happen.
“You know Euan,
this war will probably drag on like the previous ones. I bet the politicians
and generals back in London
and Paris have
drawn up a peace treaty now.”
“I doubt it
Gordon, this place was French for a long time. I can`t see them giving it up
without a long fight. Just from talking with people like Cadet Lorrin, they
have been here for generations, and there is much money to be made in the fur
Sargeant Essex of
the Chesshires spoke up. “Mind you these furs are what the upper class wear,
and I grant you that they fetch a pretty penny. But for sheer importance, the
spice islands of the West Indies are where the
fortunes of war will be won or lost. We may have captured the capital of this
colony, but if the French have a mind to it, they might take it back.”
“And how would
know of the great importance of this war then Sargeant? I said. “Well, before I
joined King George`s Army, I was a clerk in a trading house in Cambridge. All
the merchants would ever talk about was the spice islands either in the West Indies or East Indies.
You don`t know how much money is made in these colonies. I decided to join the
army to see these places as I doubted a book clerk would be sent to out there.”
“Why didn`t you
join one of the companies? I know that even here up in Hudson
Bay, we have factories of fur traders where you can make your
fortune.” “Aye but I`d rather not freeze there in the ice and snow. If truth be
told, my trader went out of business due to the war. We couldn`t trade as
easily as other companies, so our merchant went off to prison due to his debts
and those who were left had to take care of ourselves. I choose the army.”
Sargeant, you`ve found yourself in a nasty place. But your now a Sargeant in
the Light Infantry, and we`ll take care of you. Essex
was a short man like myself. He had a good sense of humor and was always
looking up the French girls in the city. He was fair to his men, and he was as
good of an Englishman I had ever met. James wasn`t the type of person to look
down on us for being lower than him. He had seen enough of how the world worked
to understand how strange society back home was. Not everyone was genteele
about life. Most of us had to struggle just to survive.
We still had
sufficient supplies to fight with, it was just food that we were running out
of. Since it was getting on in the spring, we could expect to see ships coming
from Europe. Everyday, the soldiers of both
armies would look out upon the Saint Lawrence river.
Everyday, we looked to see if there were signs of ships flying the flags of our
One morning in
May, a ship approached the city. It was a small vessel. The Royal Navy and
Artillery had established a signal system with the ships in British service.
The main flag mast held a large Union Jack. It was raised up and down 3 times
to signal the ship. The ship came to a stop, and began to fire! “Jesus Euan, a
Frenchie ship is going to pound us.” “Are you thick as cheese Gordon, look at
that brilliant ensign flying on the yardarm! We all stood up upon our ramparts
and cheered huzzah wildly. For an hour we cheered, waving our hats in the air,
we shook our fists at the French sentries who could see us. I observed a French
officer use his telescope and with a grave face, he withdrew his men. Quebec was ours. The
French effort to force us out was wasted. The sentries reported the next
morning that the French encampment was now deserted, they had packed up and
retreated to Montreal.
Now we would fall out of the city, and complete our conquest.
“Why didn`t the
French send help to their colony? Didn`t they care about their own people?” “Yes
Anne, they did send help, but it was too late. In the summer of 1760, the
French sent out a small fleet with troops to try and press our army between two
Most of us were
moving down the Saint Lawrence to attack and take out Montreal. General Amherst was moving up Lake Champlain taking Ticonderoga,
Major Bradstreet who was originally from Annapolis Royal
had destroyed FortNiagra the year before.
The French had sailed towards Quebec
but were stopped at Chaleur Bay.
soldiers and sailors must have known that they had no hope of beating us. In
the first week of July, the drama played itself out.
The Royal Navy was
already in the area and bottled them into the bay. The French commander went in
there because he knew the British ships wouldn`t be able to follow him. When he
got in there, he found Acadian refugees and Mik Maq warriors and their
families. Most had been starving. The ships had provisions, ammunition and
soldiers, so gathering up all the fighting men, they took guns off the ship and
built batteries on the north shore of the Restigouche river. The plan was to
try and lure the British ships into the bay, where the French guns could blast
them. The smaller ships that had accompanied him, were scuttled in the river
passage.The Royal Navy were able to
force the passage under French cannon fire.
Several days went
by. Both sides kept up heavy fire, but the French knew they were the only hope
for New France. As their soldiers and sailors
were wounded or killed, they could see their colony dying. The French commander
scuttled his ships in order to keep the supplies out of British hands. Runners
were sent to Montreal
to tell them the news.
Meanwhile in Montreal, the French
militiamen had been deserting in order to go home and plant or harvest their
crops. They knew the end of their country was beginning, but they were trying
to get on with their lives. If there was going to be a new master in the house,
the servants still needed to serve the master. Levis was desperate. Desertion in any army is
punishable by death, but when an armies morale falls, even the hangmans noose
or a firing line is no deterant.
And we kept
advancing on Montreal.
Three armies were moving on the city. One army was coming from Crown Point, and important fort in New York. Another was
coming from Oswego
using the Saint Lawrence river and our army
coming down from Quebec.
Amhert`s army was held up for about a week by a small French force at Fort
Levis. The French artillery in Montreal
were able to damage some of our ships, but we were slowly drawing closer. To
the south, the British army were blocked for a month at Isleaux
Noix by a French and Canadian force. But by the end of August of 1760, eighteen
thousand British and American troops were ready to fight the final battle.
“Didn`t Montreal have strong
forts?” “Well no, because the French never thought that the British would be
able to capture Quebec.
The regular soldiers wanted to keep fighting, as the officers wanted to
maintain their honor. But the average soldiers could see that their war was
only had a simple stone wall, there were no large fortifications. So the French
governor Vandreuil contacted Amherst
for the terms of surrender.
Once again, Amherst had harsh terms.
The British government was enraged that the French tatics over the last hundred
years had been to use the Indians to terrorize the New
England colonies. They had kept the British from advancing over
the frontier and the rivalry over control of fishing and furs. The British
demanded that the French surrender with no honors. Even with the capture of
Louisbourg, and Quebec, Amherst`s terms were that all colors were to be handed
over. All French arms were to be passed into our hands. New
France would cease to exhist. The French were horrified. They
always felt they had fought with honor for the defense of their country.
marching to the surrender ceremony. As a reward for out hard work, the Light
Infantry, which also included rangers were joined by the Grenadiers where the
French troops grounded their muskets. “King`s forces, present your, firelocks”
A thousand muskets were slapped from shoulders and placed in a salute to their
enemy. It was the only honor we gave them.
“Mousier Levis, you will now turn
over all your colors and ground your muskets in front of our army.” General
Amherst looked at him coldly. Levis,
sniffed and in a French way shrugged his shoulders “I am sorry General Amherst,
but at this time, our colors do not exhist? We have none to give.”
Afterwards, when I
was delegated to sort out the prisoners, I found Cadet Lorrine.
happened to the French colors, did the soldiers hide them?” “Main non, last
night, we had a moving ceremony. Levis,
formed all of our troops up on this same parade, and each regiment and company
moved to the front. The soldier lowered the flags to the flames of a big
bonfire. Everyone of us had tears in our eyes, knowing that our beloved colors
were being burned, but we could do this rather than bear the shame of turning
them over to the enemy. So when Levis
told you general that he had no colors, he was telling the truth, they no
longer exhisted. But I must tell you, a lot of these soldiers will be staying” “And
why is that Lorrine, what is here for them” I asked. “Many of the soldiers
married any single woman. Many girls are now wives. With that, a lot of these
soldiers will stay. I myself, as I told you back in Louisbourg, this is my
home. My family came here. I have no ties to France anymore. If I can raise my
own family with my new wife, I shall do so.” “What do you mean, you new wife?”
Lorrine chuckled, “well Kenny, last week, I married a Huron woman. She is very
beautiful woman, with long black hair, and of a natural beauty as to make me
happy. If we can survive these battles, I think we can survive living under a
British flag, so long as we can speak our language and practice our faith.”
I shook this man`s hand. “I would rather have
you as a friend than an enemy”. With that, he marched off, having handed in his
sword and musket. I watched him walk up to a beautiful looking woman and I felt
a pang of loneliness at the sight of their embrace. At least he was going back
to a new life. But my life was to continue as a soldier.
We now had four
thousand prisoners to handle. The majority of French soldiers choose to return
We were also surprised at the amount of Canadian officers who also choose to
leave. As Lorrine had said, most of these men and their families had never been
But it must have been the prospect of living under the British crown that moved
them. That, or they knew the war in Canada was over, but the war in Europe was still raging. Perhaps they could still serve
As Euan looked up
from milking his cow, he saw his wife walking toward him with a stern look. “How
long is it going to take you to finish milking our cows? Do you think the
butter will make itself? And what about the cheese we need to make? Or the
garden that needs to be tended?” “Aye Emily, I`ll get on that. I`ll hook up my
yoke and we`ll bring them back to the house.
As they started to
walk back to the house, Anne spoke up again. “So what happened to you and
Gordon after that?”
“Once we loaded
the prisoners on the ships, we boarded with them to sail down to Louisbourg.
Once there, the ships sailed back to England and we took a passage to Halifax. When we arrived,
we were sent to FortSackville where we spent
many a time retelling our tales to the soldiers who had stayed in garrison. One
night, Gordon and I had a long discussion about our future.
We found ourselves
sitting in a pothouse, drinking our fill of good beer. After a hearty serving
of real roast beef and pudding, we began to think of what we would do with our
“Well now Euan, I
think with this war ending, I should like to make my way as a cabinet maker.
There`s a cabinet maker in Annapolis Royal that I should like to apprentice
myself to. I`d like to have hand at making fine tables, chairs and cabinets. I
hear tell, there are to be new settlements on the lands we cleared the Acadians
from. Once my enlistment in the rangers is up, I shall begin my studies. Now
look there, see that girl who`s service us, I should like to make her my wife
and settle down. You there, girl, come over here and sit a while with us.
What be you name
lass”? The girl came over with a pot of beer and sat down. “I don`t usually
associate myself with soldiers, but you two look handsome in your uniforms. My
names Allanah. My father is the innkeeper. I`m not a wench, so no foolish games
“I spoke up. On my
honor me lady, I shall only sing to you and wish to speak to you of our
travels, and our adventures. My mate Gordon here was just telling me how he
wants to make cabinets and tables for the rest of his days, and that you are
the woman he wants to be with”. Gordon launched a swift kick of his leg at my
shin. I dropped my leather cup and spilled my beer. “What you doing that for,
I`m only telling her what you seem to be too shy for. The girl laughed and took
his hand. “Why Gordon, just tell me what you`d like and perhaps I could be with
you.” As I sat across from them, I couldn`t help feel lonely. I was happy that
my friend was going to be with someone, but since I had no future plans, I
decided that I would stay in the army.
after, Gordon took passage with his new bride to FortAnne.
It would be a while before I saw him again.
Now while we had
been fighting up in Quebec,
and the situation had calmed down. New England
land surveyors had arrived in Nova
Scotia to lay out new townships. The colonial
government had decided that English settlers would move onto the lands we had
cleared the Acadians from. Even before Quebec
fell, there were new settlers on the way. When I got back to Halifax, Captain Goreham gave me a new
for your outstanding bravery at both the Siege of Louisbourg and Quebec, you are to be
raised as Sargeant, and you are to take post at the new settlement of FortEllis
in the Township
of Truro. Your duty is to
help raise a militia company to defend the settlement and to act as the King`s
representative in the area. Here is your new sash and sword.
“Why did they send
you there Grandfather, did you do something wrong?” Euan laughed. “No Anne,
after all that I had been through, being sent to FortEllis
was probably the best thing that happened to me then. With Louisbourg and Quebec captured, the war
against the French was for all intents and purposes was over. We weren`t sure
if the Mik Maq would stay at peace, so we had to always be prepared.
Now in 1760, a lot
of land agents were being sent to New England
colonies and also to Ireland
to see who would come and settle here. I arrived at the sight of what would be FortEllis.
This area had been used by the French to attack us at Grand
Pre back in 1744. The British decided that there needed to be a
fort inland from the coast. There were a lot of families who had come up from
New Hampshire who had moved out from Ireland back in the 1720`s. For reasons of
their own, they felt Nova Scotia
would be a better place for them. These people were called Ulster Scots as
their names were Scottish but their families had moved to Ireland in the
1600`s. My job was to see them well looked after with provisions and defense.
I remember that September
of 1760. The grass still stood tall, waiting to be mown. The Acadian dykes,
which still stood to hold back the mighty Shubenacadie and Stewiacke rivers
were the only signs of man. “You mean the green snake like bump there was built
by people?” Anne asked. “Of course, I was sent out with a small corporal`s
guard to help establish the settlement. The idea was, the new settlers would
clear away the land, cut down trees to make lumber for the fort and buildings.
In the spring, we`d then move on to build their houses and farms.
“Now see here
soldier, when do you think we`ll be getting on to making my house and setting
up fences” one settler inquired”? “It`s Sargeant Kenny to you, and that will
happen in the spring. Right now, our priority is to establish this fort, build
shelters and store enough food for the winter. The government won`t be doing
much else to help you so help yourselves and get this settlement going.”
The settler wasn`t
impressed. “Well see here Sargeant Kenny, my name is John Ellis, and I`d be
rather careful of how you treat us. We`re not soldiers, and you can`t order us
about.” “Oh can`t I” I replied. “As Sargeant of His Majesties Goreham`s
Rangers, I am the government representative here, your sherrif, and your
supplier. Also, as required by your land title, you are to serve in the
colonial militia. Since we are still at war with France, you will do as ordered.” I
pointed down the river. “Just down there a few hours away is a large Mik Maq
camp. What`s to say they don`t come up here and kill us and scalp us? The women
of the group let out a horrified cry and the other men began to hackle Ellis.
“Your Irish aren`t
you? Why are you serving the king?” Ellis asked. “Indeed I am. I was born in
Ennis, CountyClare. But I`ve been here in Nova Scotia since 1744.”
“How can a Catholic serve in the army you black Irish rougue?” “Have a care
Ellis”, cried one of the other men. “I walked up to this man and with my nose
to his I hissed “I`m not popish and I`m not a black Irish rougue. I took the
King`s shilling to save my life, it was that or starve back home. The king`s
been good to me. And I`ve had to expel my share of Catholics recently enough.
It`s no concern of yours, but I`m Presbeterian, my mother saw to that. Now do
we have anymore trouble?” The man saw the force in my eye and backed down. “Beg
my pardon Sargeant, I had no idea”?
I turned to the
crowd. “All of you listen to me. I will do my duty to protect, and feed you
through this winter. But you must also obey my commands. It`s a matter of life
or death. Everyone here will work from sunrise to sunset. I want this Fort
built within a month. We need to cut down trees for our palisades, cabins and
other buildings. We need to dig a defensive ditch and hopefully bastions. We
should be getting some artillery from Halifax.
I shall be forming the militia company shortly. Any man between the ages of
16-60 is required to serve. Once our cannon arrive, I shall be training you on
how to fire it. We may also get some swivel guns, which we shall also mount in
“What about a
meeting house?” one settler inquired. Now I was used to dealing with soldiers
who would do what they were told, not to discuss what was to be done. “The
priority right now is defense and shelter. When we have time, we shall build a
meeting house. That hill, across from us should have a blockhouse built on it.
Perhaps in time, a meeting house could also be added.” About a week later, a
schooner arrived with our cannons. Now they weren`t large guns, but they were
very heavy. The first thing we had to do was to rig a triangle to take the gun
barrels off the ship and bring them to shore. So with block and tackle we
began. Most of the settlers were used to hard work, but they didn`t know how to
use block and tackles well. We got the gun barrel off the ship and were getting
it lowered into a long boat. Some how, someone let the line go slack and down
came the gun smashing it through the boat bottom. Now the boat didn`t sink much
because it was low tide, but the gun barrel went in muzzle first. I was so
enraged I threw off my bonnet and was stomping on it and cursing until my face
was blue. The sailors in the boat were doubling over with laughter. Eventually
the ships captain restored order. The other guns were landed safely. We built
some gun carriages for them and hauled them into the fort. We now only had 3
guns instead of the 4 we needed. But one bastion would have to make do with a
We named our
little stockade FortEllis in honor of Captain
Ellis who was some British officer. John Ellis was quite smug about it saying
he was a good member of his family. Though I didn`t quiz him about being Irish
and serving in the King`s army. That winter we did the best we could to survive
the winter. Since most of these families had lived in North
America before, they knew what to expect from the weather and we
had no one die that winter.
Starting in the
spring of 1761, we began to clear the land. Once the snows began to melt and
the days got warmer, we spent every bit of daylight preparing the land for
planting. We cut down a lot of trees, those that we didn`t have a chance to the
previous fall due to building the fort and huts.
“What was your
duty then Grandfather?” “Well, I was in charge of running the fort, which I did
rather well. The Mik Maq stayed where they were. We had a few come towards us,
but usually a shot from a swivel gun told them we were armed. My days were
spent issuing out rations, keeping a record of supplies that were used, and
making sure that everyone was fine. I was even surprised, because we had a herd
of goats and sheep, which meant that I also had to keep track of them as well.
We built a small
enclosure by the forts palisade. It would also act as an extra defensive
measure. There I was, a soldier and for the first time in twenty years, I was
taking care of sheep again. But at least this time, I wasn`t hungry and
miserable. That summer was so quiet that I could hear the flies sleep.
Day in and day out
I`d keep watch on the mighty brown river. One of the aspects that I had not
known was the huge tides that occurred. When we had landed, the river was at
low tide, and it was easy for us to see why the French had used this place to
cross. But just before dark, a mighty roar began to play in the air. The
settlers were fearful and they all ran into the fort, not knowing what was
happening. I peered out of the loophole we had made in the upper floor of the
barrack, and I could see a huge wave of water coming in faster than any horse I
have seen run. When we arose the next morning, the river was low again. We then
knew that it was the tide, and not something God was sending at us as a
“So you didn`t
have to fight after that?” No, for this war, there was one more expedition to
take part in. And compared to Louisbourg and Quebec, this one was the worst.
THE CARRIBEAN AND HAVANANA
By this time of
day, Euan and Anne had finished up their chores and went back to the house to
have well deserved meal. Emily had set a place for the three of them. Everyone
else was still off in the fields or had gone back to their own homes. Anne`s
mother had left her there to help take care of her Grandmother and Grandfather.
She would spend the summer helping out on the farm before being taken back to
As they sat down
to eat a lunch of bread, sauerkraut and cheese, Euan kept on with the story.
“I was just about
settled in for another winter when a schooner sailed up to our position. This
was in November. It was none other than the ship I had been on before, Captain
Joseph Goreham stepped out in a new uniform. It was brown with a red lining.
The cuffs were turned up, much like a regular soldier`s coat. At first, I
thought he was a different man, but his gorget reminded me of who he was.
muster your militia company, there is urgent news.” “Yes sir” I went into the
barracks and took out a drum which was to be used by the company drummer,
though as still, there wasn`t one yet. I beat out assembly and the farmers who
were close, heeded the call, most came running straight from the fields. Some
were holding pitchforks, others cycles, while others had actually run home
first and grabbed their muskets.
Goreham spoke. “Gentlemen of FortEllis, it is my duty to
inform you that Sargeant Kenny is to be recalled to rejoin his regiment. We are
to take our war to the West Indies. Goreham`s
Rangers has been recalled to active duty. Thus, I am here to make sure that
your militia company is able to defend itself, while your ranger is away.” “I
looked over at Ellis who seemed to become animated. He no doubt would become
leader of this settlement due to his persuasive nature.
“Sargeant, it is
my duty to inform you that we are to rendezvous at FortEdward
and link up at FortAnne with the rest of our
force. General Amherst has ordered all able bodied units to decend on Martinique and other French islands. Your blue uniform is
not needed, this package contains your new one.”
“Thank you sir”, I
opened the canvas wrapping. I’d use the material later for something else.
Inside was the same brown coat Goreham was wearing with black leggings, a new
shirt, new brown breeches and a black cap. I kept my bonnet as I wanted to keep
something from the old country with me. After checking all of my equipment, I
boarded the ship to take me down to the new township of Falmouth,
which was what the new settlement around FortEdward
For about 3 weeks,
we sailed about gathering up troops for the expedition. To my delight, as we
entered FortAnne, I saw Gordon formed up with the
When we had a
chance to speak his first words were “you didn`t think I`d go and miss the fun?”
“But what of your wife and cabinet making?” I asked. “Well they can wait.
Goreham`s Rangers were not disbanded as yet, so when the captain calls we still
have to obey him now don`t we?” “I hear we`re to go and reduce the French
We sailed over to Halifax to meet up with
the rest of the convoy. There were still French privateers lurking around. Most
of the British troops which had taken part in Louisbourg, Quebec and Montreal were along as well. The 15th,
17th,28th, 35th, the old 40th, the
43rd and the 60th were all together again. There were
other regiments which had been in America which also joined us, namely the 27th
Inniskilling from Ireland, the 42nd Royal Highland Regimentand
the 46th Regiment. General Monckton was our leader and sailed down
into a new area of the world I had never been before.
While the main
army went down to help in the attack on Martinique,
we stayed behind in reserve. There were other provincial and ranger units which
went down at first in December of 1761 but we were garrisoned in Boston. Now a lot of the
original Rangers had come from here, and a few of them choose to desert. Some
had deserted when we were at FortFredrick but those of us
who had a sense of duty stayed on.
“Why did some of
the soldier desert?” Anne asked. “Not everyone who becomes a soldier wants to
do what they are told. Sometimes, when a man joins the Army or Navy, he doesn`t
really know what he is doing. The recruiting sergeants look nice in their
uniforms, they tell tall tales about glory and riches to be found. They never
mention the boredom, the fear, the stupidity or the waste. Some soldiers became
homesick or lonely, or realized that they didn`t want to be soldiers. But you
can`t quit. If a deserter was caught, he was lucky if he was just flogged or
thrown into prison. In wartime, we had the rule that a deserter could be hung or
shot. All of us wanted to go home and live in peace. The French, Mik Maq and
English just wanted to live in peace. But the high ranking officers and
officals on both sides wanted to keep us fighting.
was successful in attacking Martinique. They were very lucky as there had been
a large force there, and the island was a perfect defensive place.
The French had
close to thirteen thousand men under arms. They were a mix of troops from
France, local militia, freed blacks and slaves and sailors acting as
Just to take this
island, the British army was fourteen regiments, which is what we used to
attack Louisbourg, and there were only about five thousand French there.
“If the French had
so many soldiers, why did they loose?”
fight for what they believe in. If you have a good leader, and are fed and
treated well, you feel safe. Your morale is high and you believe that you will
always have high morale. Sometimes too much. If your officers can lead you
well, you will do anything they ask you. Also, sometimes an officer can make a
stupid mistake and it will have a diasterous consequence.
As the British
advanced, and held a position, the French rushed down from the hills to attack
them. But the French officer didn`t see them. As his flank or side of his force
moved, the Highlanders of the 42nd Regiment fired into them. With a
lot of dead and wounded soldiers, the French fell back. Our soldiers who had
been trying desperately to fight charged after them, and cleared them all the
way back to their main fort at FortRoyal. I heard afterwards
that Captain Murray who was a British regular officer and who was with us at
Louisbourg and Quebec
died there. But he wasn`t killed by enemy fire, but much worse, the yellow
By this time,
Emily had begun to clear up the table. “Euan, didn`t you get that sickness
then?” “No my dear, I was a lucky one. I was never to fear having it. My
constitution was strong after I had had the pox as a child, but many soldiers
died of it.
But I`m getting
ahead of myself. We missed the battle of Martinique
but we then went on to the most hellish battle I was ever in. As I said, we had
wintered over in Boston.
All the while, Monckton`s army had invaded the Spanish colony of Cuba. Now Spain had
joined the Seven Years War late. They sided with the French and would try to
hamper British intentions in the area. The Spanish had the largest empire in
the New World. It was a place of jungles,
gold, silver, spices, rum and sugar. The French and British were only
interested in the sugar and spices, but the Spanish had a greed for precious
metals. They had colonized most of the area before the French or English had
arrived. They say Christopher Columbus discovered America, I say not. I heard tales
in my youth of the Vikings who had been in Ireland had sailed to a land far to
the west of us. And of course, there were also some Irish sailors who had gone.
Cuba was their main colony. Monckton`s original army had consisted of
regiments that had been in Canada plus others from England. The 34th,
56th and 72nd Regiments who were all English men. The 22nd
was also there, they had been with us in Louisbourg and Quebec. “Yes I remember you said about
Henry, the lad who liked his cheese.” Emily sighed. “Ah right Emily, I`m sorry
ladies, my memory gets a little rusty. It comes with age. I think I`ve never
told a story, and yet, I get told I`ve told them many times.
But anyway, they
were fighting for the better part of three months.
Havana was a very interesting place. It had the best harbour in all the West Indies. It was big enough for the Spanish to have
their dockyard facilities and could build and repair many of their ships. There
were two large fortresses defending the harbor and the city. Even the city had
walls around it. The Spanish had been there for over two hundred years. Many a
time English adventurers had tried to take it.
The main fort was
called Castillor de los Tres Reyes del Morro. “What a long name!” Anne
exclaimed. “Why did they call it that?” The Spanish are a Catholic nation, and
many of their place names have Christian saints names, or are in memory of
important people. We just called it The Morro. It was built on a rocky ridge.
It had sixty-four heavy cannons and a garrison of about seven hundred men. In
order to capture the city, we needed to take this fort. But it was on rock.
That meant we couldn`t dig trenches easily like we had done at Louisbourg or Quebec. The Spanish had
made good use of the land to defend it. The Spanish commander used a similar
tatic that the French had used on us. Delay and wait out. He could hope for
reinforcements from the other Spanish colonies or Spain. But instead of having to
worry about the cold and snow, we had to worry about hurricanes and yellow jack.
“You said that
before but what is it?”
Yellow jack is
what the sailors call a horrible fever. It takes healthy men and turns them
into disgusting wastes. It turns the skin yellow, and makes you vomit black.
The black is actually your blood. Most people die from it. And a lot of our
soldiers did. Cuba
is a hot place, and it had many mosquitoes. At first, soldiers who got sick
complained of having headaches but this was usually dismissed by the officers
and Sargeants who believed that many of the soldiers were drinking too much
rum. Any soldier who did complain of a headache and was made to prove if he was
sober, usually was thought to be drunk. The drummer`s cat came out many times
at first to flog many a man to stop the drunkenness. But it was their fever and
vomiting which changed the minds of everyone.
Soon, most of the
army was sick or dying from it. Even the heat would drive men sick. I remember
one night, we were in a forward trench taking turns to try and work the sap
forward and covering the others with our rifled muskets. Two of the lads we
were covering were from the 27th Regiment. These poor Irish lads
looked in such a state. One men was covered in boils from all the mosquitoes
who were biting him. The other fellow was sweating so much, it looked as if he
had jumped into the harbor, he was so wet. It must have been around and the soldier with the
bites finally threw down his shovel and began screaming and cursing in Gaelic.
He was so enraged by the bites and the heat he climbed up out of the trench and
ran towards the water, some of the Spanish sentries began to fire at him, the
poor man made it the waters edge only to fall into the water. At first I
thought he had tripped, but his body didn’t stir. He had been hit in the back.
What was worse followed. As his body drifted from shore, we could see the water
thrash about. I thought he had somehow survived and was getting up, but we
could see more thrashing. It wasn’t him, but the sharks eating his body. The
other lad kept digging and couldn’t stop crying. “Be Jesus Ryan, we survived
fighting the damm Indians at Ticonderoga and
you end up getting hit by a Don’s shot and then torn apart by those hellish
Engineers, pioneers and sappers along with the Royal Artillery still had to
fight on and try to capture the The Morro. It was surrounded by brush and had a
large ditch. They had stormed an outer redoubt and from there, they could see
what they were up against. The initial gun batteries were set up in the shade
of the trees of La Cabanna hill. The Royal Navy transferred heavy guns and
crews to emplace cannons powerful enough to try and breach the fortress walls. The
only other siege works the British could build were breastworks of wood,
gabions and facines once again. But the Spanish also had large guns, and they
could blast our works to pieces.
Since many of the
Chesshire lads had been salt miners at one time, many of them were used to try
and dig a mine towards the walls. If it could be blown, the army could then
storm up the ramp made of rubble and overtake the defenders.
By late June, the
British guns began to fire. Mortars lobbed explosive shells and the heavy guns
battered the walls with round shot. The Royal Artillery were always good shots
and the Spanish were losing men everyday. After the artillery had begun to
fire, the Spanish sent out a large sortie to try and destroy our siege works.
They managed to get into our lines and spike some of the guns. A lot of the
British soldiers had fled at the sight of the Spanish. There had been
Grenadiers, marines, and engineers but what put most to flight, was the sight
of the armed slaves the Spanish used. Many English soldiers had never seen a
Black man and were terrified of them. Until we had all come to the West Indies, many of us had never seen a Black person.
Once the regain
their composure, the British counter-attacked and retook the positions. The
Spanish pulled back leaving many dead Spainards and Africans laying about. The
flies had a feast, and more of the soldiers got sick. The next day, a combined
naval and land attack took place. The ships guns couldn`t reach high enough but
our artillery did a better job. The Spanish still had ships in the harbor and
fired on us as well. Just after the major assault, somehow, the breastworks
caught fire. Many of our soldiers died trying to put the fire out, or were
badly burned. Due to this event, the British had to pull back, and the Spanish
were able to repair their damage and remount more guns in the Morro.
By mid July, the British
army was at half strength! The British admiral cleared his lower decks of heavy
guns and sent most of his sailors and marines to help rebuild the batteries.
With their help, we silenced their guns.
On July 22nd,
the Spanish sallied forth in the night to attack the batteries. Our artillery
was virtually unopposed and the Spanish were desperate to knock the British
back. A large force came at us, but due to the previous attempt, the lines and
camps were always alert for an attack. In the dark, the only light to be seen
were the musket and cannon flashes. It must have been a terrifying event for
all involved. By early morning, the Spanish fell back into the fort. Two days
the British admiral offered Velasco, the Spanish commander the option to
surrender. He even told the Don to write his own conditions. Velasco answered
that he would rather settle it by fighting. The Spanish are a proud people and
don`t like to be defeated.
In all this,
that`s when we arrived. It was July 27th, four years to the day that
Louisbourg had fallen. In our transports were the 46th, 58th,
several American provincial regiments and Gorham`s Rangers.
“By Jesus it hot
here eh? Gordon cried. In our journey down, we had rekindled our friendship and
had shared stories of old and sung new songs. Once we landed, the first thing
we did was to alter our uniforms. We left our coats in camp and took to wearing
only our waist coats and shirts. But even then, it was still hot.
“But how hot does
it get? Is it like here in the summer Grandfather?” “No it`s much worse, it`s a
wet heat, making it feel like you put on your winter clothes on a hot day, and
that`s just when your lying around in your shirt! At night, we`d sleep with as
little clothes as we could, but then with all the mosquitoes, it didn`t matter.
We`d either be bitten, or roasted.
In any event, two
days later, the Royal Engineers prepared for out assault. Velasco sent a small
navy force to try and flank us from the sea. But he was unsuccessful in the
night. The next morning, we blew the mine and rushed forward.
WHAM! Went the
mine and to the screams of the dead and wounded, we yelled and charged forward.
Gordon and I were carrying ladders with us, with our muskets slung on our
backs. We got to the ditch, but saw that the rubble wasn`t enough to allow us
to easily climb. No matter, we just took the ladders and put them up. While
some soldier held them in place, the rest of us rushed up. As I climbed up and
over the parapet, the Spanish were trying to force us back. Only a few were in
our place. A young Spanish officer swung his sword at my head but I stepped
back. The tip of his sword hit my mouth and blood flew out. I was so enraged
that I didn`t notice. We had been issured bayonets but I forgot to fix mine. In
the chaos, I took my slung musket and swung it at him. It took him on the side
of the head and he fell knocked out. As I moved forward, I saw the strangest
thing. The same man came at me again but was alright. Gordon attacked him and
likewise also knocked him out. We both looked back and saw to our amazement
that both officers were twins. By this time, the small Spanish group fell back
only to surge ahead with Velasco. Gordon and I had been able to load our
muskets and began to fire at the advancing Spanish. Velasco fell hit by one of
our musket balls in the chest. Once we had stormed in and had enough troops, we
took the place. Velasco, mortally wounded was treated with the upmost respect
and taken under a flag of truce to Havana.
As we stood there
in the morning sunrise, a young woman walked toward us. She was handsomely
dressed and walked to where Gordon and I stoop over the captured Spanish
officers. We had dressed up their wounds. And had been giving them water.
senor, she spoke to us, pointing to the two officers. “I`m sorry maam, I don`t
speak Spanish, but these men are alright, they will live.
Then the girl
spoke. “Good morning Englishmen, my name is Veronica Paula Hernendez. Those two
officers at your feet are my twin brothers Roberto and Fillipe. I would like to
see them please.” “Certainly mama.” “Please call me Senorita. My family is of
high standing in this colony.” Gordon looked at me with astonishment. “Why of
course Senorita, we are going to take your brothers to the surgeon`s lines to
get them well looked after, you may join us as well.
We made stretchers
of our coats and muskets for the two officers and led the lady down the ramp.
We marched into the camp and left the Spanish with the surgeons.
As we began to
walk back to our own camp, the young Spanish lass began to speak with us.
are my brothers?” “Senoritta, I`m not English but Irish. My name is Euan and
your brothers will live. They were only knocked about by musket butts.” This
woman was barely 19 but she looked very different from most of the women I had
seen before. In Nova Scotia
and in Boston,
we saw many Europeans. Of course in Nova
Scotia we saw Mik Maq and in Quebec, we saw warriors and their families
of many nations.
But this Spanish
girl had long black hair and skin that was like the color of milk tea. She was
pretty, but not as pretty as your Grandmother.” Emily had started to show a
sign of jealously at the mention of this other woman.
It turns out that
the Hernendez family were from the Colonial elite in Mexico. Both brothers were officers
in the Aragon Infantry regiment. They had only been in Cuba for a year
when war was declared against Britain.
Their family were sugar merchants and also miners. That is to say, they owned
mines and had many slaves to dig their silver and gold.
It was while I was in Cuba that I
began to believe that if I were to marry, it would have to be someone outside
of my own culture. I never saw the people we were fighting as the enemy, but
rather people who shared the same feelings as me. The differences were only in
our appearances and their languges. But this has never bothered me, rather I
have enjoyed interacting with them.
It`s like in the
Royal Navy. There are so many different people that the Navy will enlist. If
you are fit, and have skills they need, many different cultures serve on His
“What other sort
of people did you see in Cuba
interesting were the Africans. Those Africans who charged at us from the
ramparts of El Morro were fiercesom men. But it was only afterwards that we
found out more about them. I had many chances to speak with Senorrita Hernendez
and she told me that the Africans were slaves. They were used in the Sugar
plantations and mines the Spanish had established in the islands and on the
“But what`s a
slave Grandfather?” Euan`s face grew sad. “Anne, slavery is the worst thing
that man has ever created. It`s when some people take other people away from
their homes and families and make them work without pay. Many slaves are
treated worse than farm animals. Many die from working too much, or not enough
food or sickness. It`s worse than war. When a war ends, people can try and live
again, but slaves never get free, unless they die. Now before I had rarely seen
had a few, as did Louisbourg and Quebec,
but never in the numbers we saw in the West Indies.
Those slaves that
charged us were told that if they broke out line and drove us back to the sea
would gain their freedom. But the Spanish commander had known that the possibility
of victory was slim. Even though half of us had died, we still had ships with
men who could come ashore.
But I`m getting
off from my story. After we had stormed the Moro, we aimed our guns at the next
battery which was on the waterfront of Havana.
Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta was a low lying fort designed to fire on
ships trying to break into the harbor. However, with our elevation, we were
able to elevate the guns to fire down and thus with our many heavy guns, forty
seven in all, we silenced La Punta in one day. The next morning, we could hear
drums beating out a parley. Our fight for Havana
Those of us who
had survived the heat, the fighting, the disease and the horrors of war marched
into the city. No only did we capture large amounts of military stores, but
they told us we had taken close to two million pesos in money and goods! It was
the first time that many of us had seen a full months pay. In fact, in honor of
our good fortune, we were paid our back pay. Though a lot of soldier then spent
it in wine women and song. I kept mine, because I knew I would never again see
this much money. I still have some of it, would you like to see?
Euan got up and
walked over to his writing desk. Emily kept a good household and made sure Euan
didn`t spend his money foolishly. He picked up a very old looking leather bag
and tipped it out. Gold coins fell out and they all looked at them. “Money will
never buy you happiness. If you can eat, have clothes on your back and a roof
on your had, that will make you happy. To have someone who loves you and will
take care of you and help you make a good home and farm, that is the true way
of being happy.
Anne nodded and by
this time, it was getting late. They sat by the fire place, Emily picked up her
fife and played some tunes while Euan took out his boran and played. Anne,
listening to the soft melody and fell into a nice deep sleep. Emily and Euan stoked
the fire, and snuffed out the candles save for one in the lantern hanging from
the hook on the roof beam. Tomorrow, he would tell more stories, but for now,
it was time to sleep again.
(56,763 as of July 20, 2011)
I began writing
Euan the Ranger during the fall and winter of 2007 while finishing my teaching
job in Toyama, Japan. During that last summer I
was there, my fifth child, Leena Jashimine was born. This book I would like to
dedicate to my wife and baby girl as well as my son Ian who had to bear being
without their father for several months when I was transferred to Tokyo in the spring of
One of the
characters in this story, Cadet Lorrine, is based on my friend Erik Lorrine of Quebec. I find it ironic
that exactly two hundred and fifty years to the month of the last siege of
Louisbourg, my head teacher is a French-Canadian teaching English in Tokyo. He has been an
inspiration for the French side of this story, and I would like to thank him
for giving me good guidance in my new job.
As I write this
story, it is exactly two hundred and fifty years since the British army under
General Amherst attacked and captured Louisbourg for the last time. I was
fortunate enough to take part in the Louisbourg grand encampment of 1995 to
commerate the first siege. Then, as a newly graduated university student, I
took part in my last large reenactment before I became an English as a Second
Language teacher in Korea
in 1996. The battle scence where Euan and Gordon skirmish with Cadet Lorrine`s
detachment is based on historical fact which I gleamed from Rene Chantrand`s
Osprey book Louisbourg 1758 as well as from BluPete`s website. It is also based
on the skirmish that Mark Weatherby and I took part in as part of the Ranger
battalion under the command of Horst Dresler in 1995. In that action, it was as
lose to the actual combat of the day. We did in fact fight close to two hours
firing at a group of French reenactors made up of Ameridians and Militia. We
were all hot and tired, as the weather was as mentioned in the story unusually
sunny and hot. All the French stood up to see what was going on when we stopped
firing. As they all got up, we fired, they all fell and the crowd behind us
cheered. It was a strange moment for me. We weren`t really fighting, but I
found that people cheering what we did to be a bit odd. For two hundered and
fifty years before hand, those men would have stayed where they laid, not
gotten up after the public display to have dinner together and talk about our
experiences. The officer who was in charge did indeed march to us with his sword
raised above his head and surrendered to us. During the entire encampment, we
were the only British unit to capture a French officer!
And on a final
note, my good friends David and Mary Beth Sutherland have an extra special
place in this story. Their daughter Emily was born during the encampment! We
had almost an authentic 18th century birth in the camp. Mary Beth
had insisted on coming to the event, believing that her due date was after the encampment.
I guess little Emily must have been excited from all the musket and cannon
fire. During the second day`s demonstration, each volley the Grenadier company
of the 78th Fraser`s Highlander fired, they yelled out “For Emily”.
It`s just another little story that you will find in this tale.
July 28, 2008 also witnessed the 250th Anniversary encampment at
Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. 1500 reenactors watched by
approximetly 20,000 people relieved the final scence of that battle.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend as I was moving my family across Japan. By the
time I finish writing this book, the 250th anniversary of the Siege
of Quebec 1759 will have passed unmarked. I had hoped that the French, British
and American reenactors who were to take part in this event would pause and
remember what happened all those years ago. I had hoped, that my country will
never ever had to experience a war on it`s land. However, modern politics and
the anger of a minority cancelled the event. The Quebec separatists seemed to have won a
small battle in ensuring that the memory of their French ancestors would be
forgotten in their zest to purge Canada of the memory of an English
victory. That Quebec
was allowed to continue to exhist as a distinct member of Canada, was a
truly remarkable legacy of the bravery and courage of the French defenders of Quebec. The Amerindians
who took part would also be forgotten. It would only be in the 1990`s that we
would begin to see the proud first nations peoples finally stand up and demand
that their rights and grivences be heard. I only hope that the memory of all
those who fought in the French and Indian War will be remembered. Not for
nationalistic or ethnic gain for each participant, but rather for the fact that
in their own way, they worked to make a country of their own, in a world that
was so tightly controlled.
The summer of 2010
will see some of the last commerative events of the Seven Years war in North America. The Battle
of the Restigouche will take place in July 2010. This event was a last ditch
effort by the French to send troops and ships to try and regain Quebec in conjunction
However, in a river estuary, a lone French man of war was stripped of it’s guns,
and attempted to fight off a Royal Navy and British army assault. By writing
these stories, I hope to bring back to memory the English, Scottish, Irish,
French, German, Amerindian and Spanish soldiers who had to fight in the world’s
first global conflict.