The Acadian Resistance

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The Battle of Petitcodiac was fought by Acadian resistance fighters and British colonial troops in September, 1755.

Following the capture of Fort Beausejour, in June 1755, the British began rounding up and deporting the local Acadian population. Renamed Fort Cumberland by the British, Fort Beausejour was used as a base of operations by the British as they rounded up the Acadians and destroyed their settlements. Some Acadians co-operated with the British and allowed themselves to be taken into custody. However, others fled from the coast to the interior, where they joined with local Mi’kmaq and Maliseet tribes in resisting the British deportation effort.

Escaping the Acadian Deportations

The Acadians and the First Nations organized themselves into an insurgency movement led by Charles Deschamp de Boishebert. Born in February, 1727, near Rouen, France, Boishebert joined the Quebec garrison in 1742 and was eventually promoted to the rank of lieutenant. Based in the Miramichi Valley, in central New Brunswick, Boishebert helped the Acadians who were fleeing the deportations, allowing them to escape to Quebec. In August, 1755, Boishebert received word that the British were in the process of planning an expedition up the Miramichi River. Gathering approximately 100 Acadians, Boishebert set off in an attempt to defend the Acadian settlements in the Miramichi Valley.

On August 28, 1755, a force of 200 American militiamen from Massachusetts under the command of Major Joseph Frye set sail from Fort Cumberland, Maryland, with orders to clear the Acadians from the area around the Petitcodiac River, in southeastern New Brunswick.

Boishebert came into contact with Frye’s men on September 3, 1755. After three hours of desperate fighting, the British withdrew. Boishebert returned to the Saint John River Valley with 30 poverty stricken Acadian families.

In an attempt to forestall any notions of British revenge against the Acadians, Boishebert sent one of his lieutenants, Francois Boucher de Niverville, back to the Petitcodiac region with orders to disrupt the flow of supplies and munitions between the Fort Cumberland region, on the border between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and Baie Vert. At the same time, Boishebert went to prevent a British landing. He also spent part of the winter of 1755 and 1756 near Shediac, New Brunswick. On January 24, Boishebert was caught in a British ambush, but managed to escape without suffering any losses.

Boishebert’s constant vigilance demonstrated his determination to prevent any further Acadian deportations. However, his efforts were hampered by a consistent lack of supplies. This coincided with a period of deep poverty for the Acadians that lasted from 1756 to 1758. Matters were further complicated by a consistent British advance. British prisoners who were taken to Quebec reported that Fort Cumberland had a garrison of over 1,000 men and that there were an additional 150 men stationed at both Baie Vert and Fort Lawrence, near Amherst Nova Scotia.

Legacy of the Acadian Deportations

Despite being outnumbered, Boishebert held his position in the Saint John River Valley. On October 15, 1756, Boishebert attacked Fort Gaspereaux, renamed Fort Monckton by the British. However, the British received advanced warning of Boishebert’s presence in the area, and evacuated the fort, burning it to the ground. In 1757, Boishebert returned to the Miramichi Valley, where he set up a new headquarters and a refuge for the Acadians. From here he continued trying to resist the Acadian deportations by the British.

Sources

Doughty, Sir Arthur George. The Acadian exiles: a chronicle of the land of Evangeline Apr.18/10

Wrong, George. Chronicles of Canada Apr.18/10

Charles Deschamp de Boishebert Apr.18/10

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