Battle of Petitcodiac
The Battle of Petitcodiac was fought during the Bay of Fundy Campaign (1755) of the French and Indian War. The battle was fought between the British colonial troops and Acadian resistance fighters led by French Officer Charles Deschamps de Boishébert on September 4, 1755 at the Acadian village of Village-des-Blanchard on the Petitcodiac River (present-day Hillsborough, New Brunswick, Canada).
After the capture of Fort Beauséjour in June 1755 by British troops during the Seven Years War, they began rounding up and deporting the local French population. Using Fort Cumberland as a base, British troops and colonial militia made forays into the surrounding countryside, rounding up Acadians and destroying their settlements. Some of the Acadians surrendered, while others fled from the coastal communities into the interior, where they joined with local Mi'kmaq and Maliseet Indians in resisting the British deportation.
Charles Deschamps de Boishébert was a French militia commander who became a resistance leader. Based in the Miramichi River valley, he helped Acadians fleeing the British deportation operations escape to Quebec. After the fall of Beausejour, Monckton sent a naval squaldorn to evict him from the satellite fort at the mouth of the Saint John River. Knowing that he could not defend his position, Bosishebert destroyed the fort. When he received word that the British were planning an expedition to the Petitcodiac River, he hurried to Chipoudy, where he organized 120 Acadians, Maliseets and Mi'kmaq into a guerrilla fighting force.
During Bay of Fundy Campaign (1755), on August 28, Monckton sent Major Joseph Frye with an expedition of 200 provincial militia from Fort Cumberland in two armed sloops, with instructions to clear Acadians settlements on the Petitcodiac River. After setting the buildings on fire at Shepody, New Brunswick, they began moving up the river, torching settlements and taking prisoners along the way.
On September 2, the expedition began these clearing operations on settlements in and around the Village-des-Blanchard. While the main body worked on the eastern bank of the river, a detachment of fifty or sixty under John Indicot was despatched to the western bank. When they set fire to the village church, Boishébert and three hundred men attacked. The British retreated behind a dyke and were in a near panic when Frye landed with the remainder of the force and took command. After three hours of spirited fighting, Frye eventually extracted the force to the boats and retreated. Twenty two British were killed and another six were wounded. Ranger Joseph Gorham was wounded in the battle.
The battle was a stinging defeat for the British. Abbe Le Guerne wrote that it "made the English tremble more than all the cannons of Beausejour." For many of the provincial fighters this was their first experience with combat and over 50 percent of those who participated became casualties.
The battle was the first bright spot for the Acadians. Boishebert rescued thirty Acadian families and brought off several fields worth of crops and supplies. Charles Deschamps de Boishébert et de Raffetot's created an Acadian refugee camp known as "Camp de l’Espérance", on Beaubears Island near present-day Miramichi, New Brunswick. The Acadians also managed to reach camps Baie des Chaleurs and the Restigouche River. On the Restigouche River, Boishébert refugee camp was at Petit-Rochelle (present-day Pointe-à-la-Croix, Quebec). Boishebert also led Acadians against the British in the 1759 siege of Quebec.
The British would return three years later to destroy the village again for the final time in the Petitcodiac River Campaign (1758).
The site is now marked by a National Historic Sites and Monument plaque.
- John Faragher. Great and Nobel Scheme. Norton. 2005.
- John Grenier. The Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia 1710-1760. University of Oklahoma Press. 2008.
- Earle Lockerby. The Explusion of the Acadians from Prince Edward Island. Nimbus Press. 2008.
- Commemoration of Battle
- Doughty, Sir Arthur George. The Acadian exiles: a chronicle of the land of Evangeline
- Wrong, George. Chronicles of Canada
- Arsenault, Bona, and Alain, Pascal. Histoire des Acadiens
- Faragher, p. 350
- Faragher, p. 350; Grenier, p.180
- Grenier, p. 180. Note: Grenier locates this battle at Chipoudy rather than at Petitcodiac. There is a primary source, however, of a letter written by Major Jedediah Preble which indicates the battle happened in "Shipodia" (See Peter Landry. The Lion and the Lily. Trafford Press. 2007. p. 535)
- Grenier, p. 180. The French reported that eighty British were killed (see Grenier, p. 180).
- The William Pote Journal, p. 176
- Faragher, p. 351
- Grenier, p. 180
- Grenier, p. 181
- Lockerby, 2008, p.17, p.24, p.26, p.56
- Faragher, p. 414; also see History: Commodore Byron's Conquest. The Canadian Press. July 19, 2008 http://www.acadian.org/La%20Petite-Rochelle.html