31 juillet 2005
par Archie Martin
*Les légendes et récits de Archie Martin sont aussi regroupés dans le menu déroulant en haut de la page à la section Culture > Légendes.
During the time I wrote both versions of We Were Not the Savages, 1993 and 2000, I read reams of material about the colonial era and the only condemnatory statement about the atrocities committed by the English that I recall was the following gem by historian John Stewart McLennan: "The punishments of the Indians for wrongdoing by the English were, as all punishments of that epoch, harsh and, in addition, they were humiliating and irritated the Indians. The scalp bounties of the colonies included rewards for the killing of women and children... This leads to] the strange conditions, in which we find a benign and devout clergyman praying that the young men who have joined the Mohawks in a scalping expedition against the French and Indians may go in fear of the Lord, and regard the bringing in of French scalps as a good omen."
It's notable that he didn't mention that the clergyman also regarded the bringing in of Amerindian scalps, including those of women and children, as a good omen. Perhaps it was the demonizing stereotype created by English propaganda, that has been instilled so effectively for centuries into the white conscience, that prevented him from doing so; but at least he mentioned it.
Footnotes to Chapter 7. Part #5, Book #1: Acadia
Warren's reports; first to the Admiralty Board dated 9th July, 1739; and, second, to Newcastle dated January 17th, 1747; as both are to be found in The Royal Navy and North America (London: Navy Records Society, Vol. 118, 1973) pp.10-13 & pp. 378-81.
MacMechan, op. cit., p. 171. MacMechan continues: "It was not without misgivings that the Council took this leaf from the Frenchmen's book. Montreal was a regular market for English scalps and English prisoners; but, even with this precedent, the Council followed it with only half hearted approval." At about this time an reward was also put on the head of Le Loutre. (Akins, op. cit., p. 23.)
McLennan, op. cit., has a one page essay on scalping. See Appendix XII, pp. 424-5. There is no question that all sides resorted to the practice. "Massachusetts in 1694 gave 50£ a head for every Indian, great or small, killed or captured. In January of 1745 Governor Shirley recommended that increased bonuses be given for scalps, especially for those troops who were to be committed to the struggle in Acadia. However, the business of buying scalps was mostly restricted to the New England colonies; there, problems with French and Indian raids along their borders were of long standing, and, it was thought, that that was the only way to get their men into the woods to "hunt" Indians. That men can be cruel to one another was true then as it is true today. Generally a disciplined army is less of a problem on a local population then one that is not. An example of this can be seen by reviewing the contemporaneous records of the First Siege of Louisbourg (1745). As one Anonymous Massachusetts Soldier (third) was to write in his journal, "Twenty of our men straggling toward northeast harbour were set upon by a party of French and Indians. Two only escaped and several killed and the rest after having surrendered themselves inhumanly butchered." And Pomeroy: "Twenty odd men was up in the woods, were shot upon by a greater number of French and Indians. Killed four of the men, 3 or 4 got away, 13 of our men gave themselves up as prisoners: But ye merciless barbarious creatures tormented them to death ..." At one point a small group of Frenchmen are captured and one is discovered to be wearing a jacket of one of the New Englanders that had gone missing (Capt. Peter Prescott). The New Englanders "gave the fellow to our Indians [Mokawks] and they did as they thought fit. They cut his throat standing." [Louisbourg Journals (New York: Soc. of Colonial Wars, 1932) and The Journals and Papers of Seth Pomeroy (New York: Soc. of Col. Wars, 1926).]
The First Attack At Dartmouth:
All of this pomp and ceremony was for naught: On September 30th, a group of men were out cutting wood to supply a mill operated by a Major Gilman in Dartmouth, a place just over the harbour from Halifax.8 I quote Thomas Beamish Akins: "Six of his [Gilman's] men had been sent out to cut wood without arms. The Indians laid in ambush, killed four and carried off one, and the other escaped and gave the alarm, and a detachment of rangers was sent after the savages, who having overtaken them, cut off the heads of two Indians and scalped one."9 It is reported10 that an Acadian by the name of Joseph Broussard ("Beausoleil") led the natives in their attack at Dartmouth.11 Next day the council determined to let loose the brave-hearted men among them, of which there were only a few, in declaring a bounty ("as is the custom of America") of ten gold guineas for every Indian taken or destroyed.12 This decision came as a result of an emergency Sunday meeting held aboard the Beaufort the day after the butchery in Dartmouth. "Within three days Captain Clapman raised a company of seventy volunteers, though only fifty were needed. They scoured the forest, but apparently without result. It does not appear that any ranger ever claimed a scalp bounty at Halifax."13
The evidence is that the Indians at first were friendly enough to these newly arrived Englishmen. One of the settlers wrote home about them in 1749. "When we first came here, the Indians, in a friendly manner, brought us lobsters and other fish in plenty, being satisfied for them by a bit of bread and some meat, but now they come no more, and are turned our adversaries; and when they get one of our people in their power, they will carry him along with them and put him to death in a barbarous manner. They don't live in a certain place, but are here and there, running up and down the country. They are a very wild people; their clothes generally black and ragged, their hair black and long like hog's bristles over their heads and faces." (As set out by Archibald MacMechan in his work, Red Snow on Grand Pré, p. 160.) This description is to be compared to that of the St. John Indians (Malecites) given by a gentleman who observed them on the deck of the Beaufort at Chebucto (Halifax) Harbour during the course of the ceremony held on August the 15th, 1749. "Their faces are rubbed over with vermilion, and across their nose and forehead are regularly drawn black lines, to beautify themselves the more: Their ears are bored full of holes, and adorned with tobacco pipes, and ribbons of different colours; their clothes are of the right homespun-gray, but intolerably ragged: The French supply them with those articles: Their squaws or women dress equally as gay as the men. They are complete drunkards, and never cease drinking spirituous liquors as long as they can get it. ... [after awhile] they solaced themselves with singing and dancing. As to the songs it is one continued bellowing noise. Upon their coming off, the man-of-war gave them a salute of 17 guns, as likewise they did on going aboard. They expressed a great deal of satisfaction at the honours done to them; so they were discharged and sent in one of Colonel Gorham's sloops to the St. John River with presents to the rest of their tribe." (The Journal of John Salusbury (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1973), p. 39; and see Akins, History of Halifax City as was published by The Nova Scotia Historical Society (NSHS, vol. #8, 1895), fn at pp. 15-6.)
Though there is no evidence, up to 1749, that the Micmac did any harm to English settlers, that, I suggest, was mainly because there were, practically speaking, no English sellers in their traditional territory. What was still burnt into the minds of the English, however, were the murderous raids carried out by Indians under the command of French officers and which took place along the New England border just before the turn of the 18th century. There was York, in 1692; Oyster Pond, in 1694; Wells & Saco; and, of course, Deerfield, in 1704 (see short biography on Jean-Baptiste Hertel.)
It is seen that among the English signatories, were: Hopson, Lawrence, Gorham, Green, How, and Mascarene. So, too, do four Indians (Joannes Pedousaghtigh [chief of the Chenecto Indians]; and Francois Arodonish, Simon Sactanvino and Jean Baptiste Maddounanhook [deputies of the St Johns Indians]. The treaty, as mentioned was signed at Halifax on August 15th, 1749. The Indian delegation returned on one of How's vessels in the company of both How and Gorham; and, on September 4th, 13 chiefs (Francois DeXavior, et al.) at the River of St. John, signed a ratification; Ed How, John Weare, Joseph Winnett, John Winn(?), Matt Winniett, John Phillipps, and others; signed on behalf of the English. The Indian signatories at the St. John "consisted of Francis de Salle, Chief from Octfragli; the Chief Noellobig, from Medochig; the Chief Neptune Albodonallilla from the Chignecto tribe, for himself and tribe. The negotiation was carried out through Martin, the Indian André, the interpreter from Minas.
As to the Acadian involvement in the Indian raids against the English? Well, all we might do is speculate. It is not likely that they had anything to do with such raids; indeed, many of them were also afraid of the Indian threat. Though, I would not be surprised to learn that some Acadians, young and spirited, were in cahoots with "LeLoutre and his gang." During those first months, 1749-50, "several young Acadians were brought from Minas to Halifax for trial, having been found to be in arms with the Indians." (Akins, op. cit., p. 23.)
The Indian Raids, A Recap:
The Indian raids that I am able to account for from my readings, which occurred in Nova Scotia, during these years, are, as follows:
- August: Lieutenant Joseph Gorham (John's brother) departs Halifax on the Wren to accompany a party to Canso to cut hay. At Canso the party is "surprised by Indians, who capture the vessel, took twenty prisoners and carried them off to Louisbourg (they were almost immediately released). Akins reports that during this incident "three English and seven Indians were killed."15
- September: As set out above: In Dartmouth, at Gilman's saw-mill, a party of six workers without their arms were attacked with the result of four being killed and one taken prisoner.
- October: In the words of a contemporary observer, John Wilson, a group of about eight men went out "to take their diversion; and as they were fowling, they were attacked by the Indians, who took the whole prisoners; scalped ... [one] with a large knife, which they wear for that purpose, and threw him into the sea ..."16
- At Dartmouth, March 26th: "A little baby was found lying by its father and mother," wrote a settler, "all three scalped. The whole town was a scene of butchery, some having their hands cut off, some their bellies ripped open, and others their brains dashed out."17
- On May 13th, the largest Indian attack to ever be staged in the area is carried out. A group of about 130 Indians and Acadians (likely led by "Beausoleil"), after a frustrating attack on Fort Lawrence, formed up at the Isthmus of Chignecto. They likely made their way down to Tatamagouche, then over the Cobequids to the Acadian community of Cobequid, and then down the Shubenacadie water system18 to arrive at the back door of the lightly protected community of Dartmouth. John Wilson: "A little before four in the morning; they all at once appeared, fired through the windows and doors, and killed fifteen persons, including women and children; wounded seven, three of whom died in the hospital; six men were carried away, and never heard of since."19 It was a calm night and "the cries of the settlers, and whoop of the Indians were distinctly heard" across the harbour at the harbour at Halifax by their fellow settlers.20 As a result of this particular attack Sylvannus Cobb is employed to round up some men (he sailed to Boston to do so) in order to go after the perpetrators; with the incentive of £10 for every Indian scalp and £50 for Le Loutre's. In fact Cobb was not successful in raising any men and the "hunt" was called off.21
- During 1751: "The North Blockhouse was once surprised by Indians when the guard was drinking and playing cards, and the men were killed. Near the South Blockhouse, Indians attacked workmen at a saw-mill on the stream flowing out of Chocolate Lake, and killed one or two of them. The casualties were buried by the guard, but the savages returned in an effort to obtain the scalps."22
- There was apparently a hiatus during 1752. It has been put down to Hopson's enlightened governorship. Hopson took over in Nova Scotia from Cornwallis in the summer of 1752.23 Hopson was obliged to give up his position due to health problems in the fall of 1753 at which time Lawrence took over. However, the fact that the Indians were quiet during this period could equally be -- and I wish to take nothing away from Hopson as an administrator -- and more likely due, to the fact that Le Loutre was out of the country for most of this period.24
- May/June: Of seven English sailors, six were killed by Indians at Musquodoboit. The seventh, Anthony Casteel is taken as a prisoner. Casteel, after being taken on a long circuitous route via the Isthmus of Chignecto, was traded off by the Indians at Louisbourg two months later; and, shortly thereafter, he found his way back to the English establishment at Halifax.25
- April/May, A wood gathering party out of Fort Monckton (Fort Gasperaux) at Baie Verte is surprised by Indians, "nine of them are scalped."26
- May: Four people (a two year old included) were killed and scalped in the Lunenburg area.27
- August: the Indians descended on the Lay family farm and caught the Lays and visiting neighbours (the Hatts); killed them all.28
- On an island in Mahone Bay, now Covey Island, where the Payzant family lived, Louis Payzant was murdered and scalped, so, too, a small boy, a servant and her infant.29
- Lunenburg: "Mr. Brissang, his wife, their two children, and a man and his son were killed and scalped by the Indians."30
- March: Lunenburg: A similar event, as just related, took place not too far away from the scene of the 1756 tragedy: a young farmer, his wife and their two children (aged four and two years), were killed and scalped.
- Lunenburg: 22nd March (Holy Week): "Indians scalped Oxner and his wife and heir."31
I conclude, by making a note that I know of no similar attacks on the French communities within Nova Scotia; though, when the French officialdom as was represented by the priests in their midst wanted to impress the Acadians they warned they were in a position to play their Indian card and would do so if the Acadians did not fall into line. For example, during January, 1750, at Beaubassin, on the church steps, in the presence of their own priests, with Indians at his back, threatened death to any Acadian who should travel to trade with the English.32 Francis Parkman gives an accounting:
"This priest [Le Loutre] urged the people of Les Mines, Port Royal, and other places, to come and join the French, and promised to all, in the name of the governor, to settle and support them for three years, and even indemnify them for any losses they might incur; threatening if they did not do as he advised, to abandon them, deprive them of their priests, have their wives and children carried off, and their property laid waste by the Indians."33
Deportation of the Acadians 1755