Ile Saint-Jean Campaign

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The Ile Saint-Jean Campaign was a series of military operations in fall 1758, during the Seven Years' War, to deport the Acadians who either lived on Ile Saint-Jean (present-day Prince Edward Island) or had taken refuge there from earlier deportation operations. Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Rollo led a force of 500 British troops (including James Rogers leading his company of Rogers Rangers) to take possession of Ile Saint-Jean.[2][3] The percentage of deported Acadians who died during this expulsion made it the deadliest of all the deportations during the Expulsion (1755–1762). The total number of Acadians deported during this campaign was second only to that of the Bay of Fundy Campaign (1755).[4]

Historical context[edit]

Marquis de Boishébert - Charles Deschamps de Boishébert et de Raffetot (1753)

The British Conquest of Nova Scotia happened in 1710. The Acadian mainland (now New Brunswick), Cape Breton Island and Isle Saint-Jean remained in French hands. Over the next forty-five years the Acadians refused to sign an unconditional oath of allegiance to Britain. During this time period Acadians participated in various militia operations against the British and maintained vital supply lines to the French Fortresses of Louisbourg and Fort Beausejour.[5] During the Seven Years' War, the British sought both to neutralize any military threat Acadians posed and to interrupt the vital supply lines Acadians provided to Louisbourg by deporting Acadians from Nova Scotia.[6]

The first wave of these deportations began in 1755, after Father Le Loutre's War, with the Bay of Fundy Campaign (1755). Many Acadians fled those operations to the French colony of Ile Saint-Jean, now known as Prince Edward Island. Ile Saint-Jean's major and commandant was Gabriel Rousseau de Villejouin.[1] Villejouin occasionally sent Mi'kmaq to Nova Scotia to pillage and harass the English during this time. In the summer of 1756, for example, Villejouin sent seven Mi'kmaq to Fort Edward where they scalped two English people and returned to Villejouin with the scalps and a prisoner.[7] (Rollo found numerous British scalps at the Governor's house when he took over Ile St. Jean.[8] )

After capturing Louisbourg on Ile Royal (present-day Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) in 1758, the British began operations to deport Acadians from Ile St. Jean, Ile Royale, and present-day New Brunswick. According to one historian, this wave of operations was more brutal and considerably more devastating than the first.[3]


Andrew Rollo, 5th Lord Rollo, British commander

Under orders from General Jeffery Amherst, Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Rollo led the British deportation operations. Amherst ordered Rollo to take possession of Ile Saint-Jean, build Fort Amherst on the site of Port-la-Joye, and deport the Acadians. When Rolo took over the Island he found British scalps in the French governor's possessions.[9] On 8 August, a large party with the Light Infantry of the 22nd, 40th, and 45th Regiments and 143 Rangers under the command of Lord Rollo of the 22nd Regiment sailed for the Island of St. Johns.

On August 17, Rollo approached the harbour at Port-la-Joye on the war ship Hind with four transports and a schooner. Commandant Villejouin surrendered immediately.[10] On August 18, Rollo's men travelled up what is now called the Hillsborough River and brought back French prisoners, as well as three cannons that had probably been installed by the French at present-day Rams Island, near Frenchfort.[11]

As the deportation operation continued, on October 14, a schooner arrived at Port-la-Joye from Pointe-Prime (now Eldon, Prince Edward Island) carrying Noel Doiron and 50 other Acadians.[12] On October 20, Doiron and his family embarked on the ill-fated transport the Duke William.[13] Of the three thousand deportees included, roughly 600 had been shipped over to Ile Royale earlier and then sent across the Atlantic well before Nov. 4 on the Mary. Almost half of the people on board the Mary died of disease, most of them children.[14] Historian Earle Lockerby estimates that 255 out of 560 passengers died.

On November 4, 12 transport ships headed out of Port-la-Joye. One was wrecked in the Strait of Canso, Ruby on the Azores, and Duke William and Violet sank off Land's End.[15] Eight transports made it to France.[16] In total, about 1,500  Acadians died en route to France by disease or drowning.[17]

All the settlers from the largest village, Havre Saint-Pierre (St. Peter's Harbour), were deported. Acadians were deported from areas from Port-la-Joye, such as Bedec (Bedeque), La Traverse (Cape Traverse), Riviere des Blonds (Tryon), and Riviere au Crapeau (Crapaud), as well as other settlements in present-day Kings County, Prince Edward Island.[18]

Pierre Douville (1745–1794) - only known image of Ile St.-Jean resident prior to Expulsion of the Acadians. Douville was age 12 when deported. Portrait was made c. 1790.

While the majority of Acadians surrendered along with Villejouin, roughly 1,250 Acadians (30%) did not.[19] Many of these Acadians fled the island. The French and Acadians arranged for four schooners, one mounted with six guns, at Malpec (present day Malpeque Bay, Prince Edward Island) to transport Acadians fleeing the island.[20] Because of Malpec's distance from Port-la-Joye, it was out of reach of the British patrols.[21] Acadians manage to leave the island and to reach French military leader Charles Deschamps de Boishébert et de Raffetot's refugee camp, known as "Camp de l'Espérance", on Beaubears Island near present-day Miramichi, New Brunswick. The Acadians also managed to reach Baie des Chaleurs and the Restigouche River.[22] On the Restigouche River, Jean-François Bourdon de Dombourg also had a refugee camp at Petit-Rochelle (present-day Pointe-à-la-Croix, Quebec).[23][24] Acadians Joseph Leblanc dit Le Maigre and the brothers Pierre and Joseph Gautier played important roles in assisting these Acadians to escape.[3] The Mi'kmaq offered some assistance to the Acadians' escape.[25]

All the families from the communities of Malpec, Tracadie and Étang des Berges seem to have evaded the deportation as well as a number of families settled on the rivière du Nord-Est who seem to have gone to Ristigouche with the Gauthiers, Bujolds and Haché-Gallants.[18]

Approximately 150 Acadians remained on the island by mid-1759.[19] Although the other military campaigns against the Acadians during the war included burning their villages, the orders in this campaign did not include instructions to do so. Rollo was instructed to save the homes for British-sponsored settlers that might come later.[26]


After the Ile Saint-Jean campaign began, Major General Amherst dispatched Brigadier James Wolfe to the northeast along the coast in the Gulf of St. Lawrence Campaign (1758).[27] After Wolfe had left the area, the 1760 Battle of Restigouche led to the capture of several hundred Acadians at Boishébert's refugee camp at Petit-Rochelle (which was located at present-day Pointe-à-la-Croix, Quebec)[28]

The British also went along the northern shore of Baie Françoise (present-day Bay of Fundy). In November, Major George Scott and several hundred men from Fort Cumberland sailed up the Petitcodiac River in a number of armed vessels, destroying the villages as they went, including Beausoleil, home to the Broussards. Simultaneously, Colonel Robert Monckton, in command of 2,000 troops, engaged in a similar campaign on the St. John River.[29] The British also conducted a similar Cape Sable Campaign.[30]



  1. ^ a b Rodger, Andrew (1979). "Ile Saint-Jean Campaign". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. IV (1771–1800) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  2. ^ a b Loescher, Burt Garfield (1969). The History of Rogers' Rangers: The First Green Berets. San Mateo, California. p. 34.
  3. ^ a b c Faragher (2005), p. 403.
  4. ^ Lockerby (2008), p. 85.
  5. ^ Grenier (2008).
  6. ^ Patterson, Stephen E. (1998). "Indian-White Relations in Nova Scotia, 1749-61: A Study in Political Interaction". In P.A. Buckner; Gail G. Campbell; David Frank (eds.). The Acadiensis Reader: Atlantic Canada Before Confederation (3rd ed.). Acadiensis Press. pp. 105–106. ISBN 978-0-919107-44-1.
    • Patterson, Stephen E. (1994). "1744–1763: Colonial Wars and Aboriginal Peoples". In Phillip Buckner; John G. Reid (eds.). The Atlantic Region to Confederation: A History. University of Toronto Press. p. 144. ISBN 978-1-4875-1676-5. JSTOR 10.3138/j.ctt15jjfrm.
  7. ^ Lockerby (2008), p. 62.
  8. ^ London Magazine 1758, p. 537
  9. ^ p. 281
  10. ^ Lockerby (2008), p. 13.
  11. ^ Lockerby (2008), p. 15.
  12. ^ Lockerby (2008), p. 24.
  13. ^ Lockerby (2008), p. 26.
  14. ^ Lockerby (2008), pp. 80–81.
  15. ^ S. Scott and T. Scott, "Noel Doiron and the East Hants Acadians," Journal of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, Vol. 11, 2008, pp 45–60.
  16. ^ Lockerby (2008), pp. 28, 67.
  17. ^ Lockerby (2008), p. 70.
  18. ^ a b Georges Arsenault. The Malpeque Bay Acadians: 1728–1758. The Island Magazine, Number 66 (Fall/Winter 2010), p. 2–9.
  19. ^ a b Lockerby (2008), p. 68.
  20. ^ Lockerby (2008), pp. 24–26.
  21. ^ Lockerby (2008), p. 27.
  22. ^ Lockerby (2008), pp. 17, 24, 26, 56.
  23. ^ Faragher (2005), p. 414; also see History: Commodore Byron's Conquest. The Canadian Press. July 19, 2008
  24. ^ Rodger, Andrew (1979). "Bourdon de Dombourg, Jean-François (b. 1720, d. in or after 1798)". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. IV (1771–1800) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  25. ^ Lockerby (2008), pp. 60, 63.
  26. ^ Lockerby (2008), p. 79.
  27. ^ Lockerby (2008), p. 55;
    For the campaign to the Gaspé, see McLennan, J.S. (1918). Louisbourg, from Its Foundation to Its Fall, 1713-1758. London: Macmillan. pp. 417–423, Appendix 11.
  28. ^ Faragher (2005), p. 415; In late 1761, Captain Roderick Mackenzie and his force capture over 330 Acadians at Bourdon's camp on the Resitgouche River (See Grenier (2008), p. 211).
  29. ^ Faragher (2005), p. 405.
  30. ^ Grenier (2008), pp. 198-200.

Secondary sources[edit]

Primary sources[edit]