APPENDIX TO PART II
ACCOUNT OF THE DEPORTATION OF THE ACADIANS FROM "HALIBURTON'S HISTORICAL AND STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF NOVA SCOTIA."
AT a consultation, held between Colonel Winslow and Captain Murray, [of the New England forces, charged with the duty of exiling the Acadians,] it was agreed that a proclamation should be issued at the different settlements, requiring the attendance of the people at the respective posts on the same day; which proclamation should be so ambiguous in its nature that the object for which they were to assemble could not be discerned, and so peremptory in its terms as to ensure implicit obedience. This instrument, having been drafted and approved, was distributed according to the original plan. That which was addressed to the people inhabiting the country now comprised within the limits of King's County, was as follows:--
"To the inhabitants of the District of Grand Pre, Minas, River Canard,
&c.; as well ancient, as young men and lads:
"Whereas, his Excellency the Governor has instructed us of his late resolution, respecting the matter proposed to the inhabitants, and has ordered us to communicate the same in person, his Excellency being desirous that each of them should be fully satisfied of his Majesty's intentions, which he has also ordered us to communicate to you, such as they have been given to him. We, therefore, order and strictly enjoin, by these presents, all of the inhabitants, as well of the above-named district as of all the other Districts, both old men and young men, as well as all the lads of ten years of age, to attend at the Church at Grand Pre, on Friday, the fifth instant, at three of the clock in the afternoon, that we may impart to them what we are ordered to communicate to them; declaring that no excuse will be admitted on any pretence whatever, on pain of forfeiting goods and chattels, in default of real estate. Given at Grand Pre, 2d September, 1755, and 29th year of his Majesty's Reign.
In obedience to this summons four hundred and eighteen able-bodied men assembled. These being shut into the church (for that, too, had become an arsenal), Colonel Winslow placed himself, with his officers, in the centre, and addressed them thus:--
"I have received from his Excellency Governor Lawrence, the King's Commission, which I have in my hand; and by his orders you are convened together to manifest to you, his Majesty's final resolution to the French inhabitants of this his Province of Nova-Scotia; who, for almost half a century, have had more indulgence granted them than any of his subjects in any part of his dominions; what use you have made of it you yourselves best know. The part of duty I am now upon, though necessary, is very disagreeable to my natural make and temper, as I know it must be grievous to you, who are of the same species; but it is not my business to animadvert but to obey such orders as I receive, and therefore, without hesitation, shall deliver you his Majesty's orders and instructions, namely- that your lands and tenements, cattle of all kinds and live stock of all sorts, are forfeited to the Crown; with all other your effects, saving your money and household goods, and you yourselves to be removed from this his Province.
"Thus it is peremptorily his Majesty's orders that the whole French inhabitants of these Districts be removed; and I am, through his Majesty's goodness, directed to allow you liberty to carry off your money and household goods, as many as you can without discommoding the vessels you go in. I shall do everything in my power that all those goods be secured to you, and that you are not molested in carrying them off; also, that whole families shall go in the same vessel, and make this remove, which I am sensible must give you a great deal of trouble, as easy as his Majesty's service will admit; and hope that, in whatever part of the world you may fall, you may be faithful subjects, a peaceable and happy people. I must also inform you, that it is his Majesty's pleasure that you remain in security under the inspection and direction of the troops that I have the honor to command."
And he then declared them the King's prisoners. The whole number of persons collected at Grand Pre finally amounted to four hundred and eighty-three men, and three hundred and thirty-seven women, heads of families; and their sons and daughters, to five hundred and twenty-seven of the former, and five hundred and seventy-six of the latter; making in the whole one thousand nine hundred and twenty-three souls. Their stock consisted of one thousand two hundred and sixty-nine oxen, one thousand five hundred and fifty-seven cows, five thousand and seven young cattle, four hundred and ninety-three horses, eight thousand six hundred and ninety sheep, and four thousand one hundred and ninety-seven hogs. As some of these wretched inhabitants escaped to the woods, all possible measures were adopted to force them back to captivity. The country was laid waste to prevent their subsistence. In the District of Minas alone, there were destroyed two hundred and fifty-five houses, two hundred and seventy-six barns, one hundred and fifty-five outhouses, eleven mills, and one church; and the friends of those who refused to surrender were threatened as the victims of their obstinacy.
In short, so operative were the terrors that surrounded them, that of twenty-four young men, who deserted from a transport, twenty-two were glad to return of themselves, the others being shot by sentinels; and one of their friends, who was supposed to have been accessory to their escape, was carried on shore to behold the destruction of his house and effects, which were burned in his presence, as a punishment for his temerity and perfidious aid to his comrades. The prisoners expressed the greatest concern at having incurred his Majesty's displeasure, and in a petition addressed to Colonel Winslow intreated him to detain a part of them as sureties for the appearance of the rest, who were desirous of visiting their families, and consoling them in their distress and misfortunes. To comply with this request of holding a few as hostages for the surrender of the whole body, was deemed inconsistent with his instructions; but, as there could be no objection to allow a small number of them to return to their homes, permission was given to them to choose ten for the District of Minas (Horton) and ten for the District of Canard (Cornwallis) to whom leave of absence was given for one day, and on whose return a similar number were indulged in the same manner. They bore their confinement, and received their sentence with a fortitude and resignation altogether unexpected; but when the hour of embarkation arrived, in which they were to leave the land of their nativity forever--to part with their friends and relatives, without the hope of ever seeing them again, and to be dispersed among strangers, whose language, customs and religion were opposed to their own, the weakness of human nature prevailed, and they were overpowered with the sense of their miseries. The preparations having been all completed, the
10th of September was fixed upon as the day of departure. The prisoners were drawn up six deep, and the young men, one hundred and sixty-one in number, were ordered to go first on board of the vessels. This they instantly and peremptorily refused to do, declaring that they would not leave their parents; but expressed a willingness to comply with the order, provided they were permitted to embark with their families. This request was immediately rejected, and the troops were ordered to fix bayonets and advance towards the prisoners, a motion which had the effect of producing obedience on the part of the young men, who forthwith commenced their march. The road from the chapel to the shore, just one mile in length, was crowded with women and children; who, on their knees, greeted them as they passed with their tears and their blessings, while the prisoners advanced with slow and reluctant steps, weeping, praying, and singing hymns. This detachment was followed by the seniors, who passed through the same scene of sorrow and distress. In this manner was the whole male part of the population of the District of Minas put on board the five transports, stationed in the river Gaspereaux, each vessel being guarded by six non-commissioned officers, and eighty privates. As soon as the other vessels arrived, their wives and children followed, and the whole were transported from Nova Scotia. The haste with which these measures were carried into execution did not admit of those preparations for their comfort, which, if unmerited by their disloyalty, were at least due in pity to the severity of their punishment. The hurry, confusion, and excitement connected with the embarkation had scarcely subsided, when the Provincials were appalled by the work of their own hands The novelty and peculiarity of their situation could not but force itself upon the attention of even the unreflecting soldiery; stationed in the midst of a beautiful and fertile country, they suddenly found themselves without a foe to subdue, and without a population to protect. The volumes of smoke which the half expiring embers emitted, while they marked the site of the peasant's humble cottage, bore testimony to the extent of the work of destruction. For several successive evenings the cattle assembled round the smouldering ruins, as if in anxious expectation of the return of their masters, while all night long the faithful watchdogs of the Neutrals howled over the scene of desolation, and mourned alike the hand that had fed, and the house that had sheltered them.