Siege of Grand Pré

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Not to be confused with Battle of Grand Pré.
Siege of Grand Pre
Part of Father Le Loutre’s War
Site of Siege of Grand Pre, Hortonville, Nova Scotia
Date November 27-December 4, 1749
Location Grand Pre, Nova Scotia (present-day Hortonville, Nova Scotia)
45°6′18.14″N 64°17′55.26″W / 45.1050389°N 64.2986833°W / 45.1050389; -64.2986833Coordinates: 45°6′18.14″N 64°17′55.26″W / 45.1050389°N 64.2986833°W / 45.1050389; -64.2986833
Result British victory
Wabanaki Confederacy (Mi'kmaq militia
Maliseet militia)
Acadia militia
British America
Commanders and leaders
unknown Captain John Handfield[2]
John Hamilton (POW)
300 Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, and Acadians unknown British regulars
Casualties and losses
unknown 25 prisoners; 2 killed

The Siege of Grand Pré happened during Father Le Loutre’s War and was fought between the British and the Wabanaki Confederacy and Acadian militia. The siege happened at Fort Vieux Logis, Grand Pré (present-day Hortonville, Nova Scotia). The native and Acadia militia laid siege to Fort Vieux Logis for a week in November 1749.[3] One historian states that the intent of the siege was to help facilitate the Acadian Exodus from the region.[4]

Historical context[edit]

40th Regiment of Foot by David Morier, 1751
Military history of
Mi’kmaq people
Mi’kmaq Warrior
Battle off Port La Tour 1677
Raid on Salmon Falls 1690
Raid on Chignecto 1696
Avalon Peninsula Campaign 1696-97
Northeast Coast Campaign 1703
Raid on Grand Pré 1704
Siege of St. John's 1705
‪Battle of St. John's 1709
Siege of Port Royal 1710
Raid on Port Roseway 1715
Battle of Winnepang 1722
Blockade of Annapolis Royal 1722
Raid on Canso 1744
Siege of Annapolis Royal 1744
Siege of Port Toulouse 1745
Siege of Louisbourg 1745
Naval battle off Tatamagouche 1745
‪Battle at Port-la-Joye 1746
Battle of Grand Pré 1747
Raid on Dartmouth 1749
Siege of Grand Pre 1749
‪Battle at St. Croix 1750
Battle at Chignecto 1750
Raid on Dartmouth 1751
Attack at Mocodome 1753
Battle of Fort Beauséjour 1755
Battle of Petitcodiac 1755
Battle of Bloody Creek 1757
Siege of Louisbourg 1758
Lunenburg Campaign 1758
Battle of Restigouche 1760
Burying the Hatchet ceremony 1761

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Despite the British Conquest of Acadia in 1710, Nova Scotia remained primarily occupied by Catholic Acadians and Mi'kmaq. By the time Cornwallis had arrived in Halifax, there was a long history of the Wabanaki Confederacy (which included the Mi'kmaq) protecting their land by killing British civilians along the New England/ Acadia border in Maine (See the Northeast Coast Campaigns 1688, 1703, 1723, 1724, 1745, 1746, 1747).[5]

To prevent the establishment of Protestant settlements in the region, Mi'kmaq raided the early British settlements of present-day Shelburne (1715) and Canso (1720). A generation later, Father Le Loutre's War began when Edward Cornwallis arrived to establish Halifax with 13 transports on June 21, 1749.[6] By unilaterally establishing Halifax the British were violating earlier treaties with the Mi'kmaq (1726), which were signed after Father Rale's War.[7]

Within 18 months of establishing Halifax, the British also took firm control of peninsula Nova Scotia by building fortifications in all the major Acadian communities: present-day Windsor (Fort Edward); Grand Pre (Fort Vieux Logis) and Chignecto (Fort Lawrence). (A British fort - Fort Anne - already existed at the other major Acadian centre of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Cobequid remained without a fort.) There were numerous Mi'kmaq and Acadian raids on these fortifications such as the Siege of Grand Pre.

Just prior to the Siege, on September 30, 1749, about forty Mi'kmaq attacked six men who were cutting trees at a saw mill in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Four of them were killed on the spot, one was taken prisoner and one escaped.[8] Two of the men were scalped and the heads of the others were cut off. A detachment of rangers was sent after the raiding party and cut off the heads of two Mi'kmaq and scalped one.[9]

As a result of history of Wabanaki Confederacy raids against British settlers on the New England/ Acadia border and the recent raid in Dartmouth, on October 2, 1749, Cornwallis offered a bounty on the head of every Mi'kmaq. He set the amount at the same rate that the Mi'kmaq received from the French for British scalps. As well, to carry out this task, two companies of rangers were raised, one led by Captain Francis Bartelo and the other by Captain William Clapham. These two companies served alongside that of John Gorham's company. The three companies scoured the land around looking for Mi'kmaq.[10] 'After the destruction of Mirligueche (later known as Lunenburg, Nova Scotia), the Siege of Grand Pre was the first recorded conflict after Cornwallis’ bounty proclamation.

The Siege[edit]

On November 27, 1749, 300 Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, Penobscot and a Acadian militia (11 Acadians) attacked Fort Vieux Logis at Grand Pre.[11] The fort was under the command of John Handfield[12] of the 40th Regiment of Foot (Cornwallis' Regiment). The Native and Acadian militia killed the sentrys (guards) who were firing on them.[13] The Natives then captured Lieutenant John Hamilton (Otho Hamilton's son) and eighteen soldiers under his command (including Handfield's son William),[14] while surveying the fort's environs.[15] (They also captured six women and a soldier nearby.)[16] After the capture of the British soldiers, the native and Acadian militias made several attempts over the next week to lay siege to the fort before breaking off the engagement. When Gorham’s Rangers arrived the militia had already departed with the prisoners to Chignecto.[17]


On March 18, 1750, Gorham’s Rangers left Fort Sackville (Nova Scotia), under orders from Governor Cornwallis to march to Piziquid (Windsor). Their mission was to establish a blockhouse at Piziquid (i.e., Fort Edward), and to seize the property of Acadians who had participated in the Siege of Grand Pre.[18] (En route, Gorham engaged the Mi’kmaq in the Battle at St. Croix).

Cornwallis later arrested the Acadians and Father Girrard who were involved in the Siege.[19]

The Mi’kmaq and Acadians continued raids on the Protestant settlements, such as the Raid on Dartmouth (1751) and the Raid on Lunenburg, Nova Scotia (1756). For the Maliseet, it was their first breach of the Peace Treaty that they had made with Cornwallis months earlier.[20]

The prisoners spent two years in captivity before being ransomed. In August 1751, Lt. John Hamilton (whose father Otho was formerly on the Nova Scotia Council) and his father-in-law from his first marriage William Shirriff (also a member of the Nova Scotia Council) negotiated the release for Hamilton and the other 60 Englishmen who had been imprisoned over the two years.[21][22] (They were traded for daughter of native chief Captain Sam (Jerome Atecouando[23] - a former soldier of Gorham's. She was taken prisoner at St. John River in 1748 by Gorham's Rangers and kept with Gorham's wife in Boston.[24][25][26][23][27][28]) The Governor and Council paid Le Loutre's ransom of £882 to release sixty prisoners of officers, soldiers and settlers, including Hamilton.[29] As late as June 1754, Captain Hamilton wrote Governor Lawrence a letter of support for Abbe Le Loutre.[30][31][32][26][33]


  1. ^ "Documentary history of the state of Maine ..". Internet Archive. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  2. ^ Canadian Biography
  3. ^ the names of the Acadians as published in the "Selection from the Public Documents of the Province of Nova Scotia" by Thomas Akins, p. 177
  4. ^ "Acadia : missing links of a lost chapter in American history". Internet Archive. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  5. ^ John Reid.“Amerindian Power in the Early Modern Northeast: A Reappraisal.” in Essays on Northeastern North America: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008) ; Grenier, John. The Far Reaches of Empire. War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2008.
  6. ^ Grenier, John. The Far Reaches of Empire. War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 2008; Thomas Beamish Akins. History of Halifax, Brookhouse Press. 1895. (2002 edition). p 7
  7. ^ Wicken, p. 181; Griffith, p. 390
  8. ^ Harry Chapman. In the Wake of the Alderney: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 1750-2000. Dartmouth Historical Association. 2000. p. 23.
  9. ^ Thomas Beamish Akins. History of Halifax, Brookhouse Press. 1895. (2002 edition). p 18.
  10. ^ Thomas Beamish Akins. History of Halifax, Brookhouse Press. 1895. (2002 edition). p 19.
  11. ^ Beamish Murdoch. History of Nova Scotia vol. 2. p. 172
  12. ^ Canadian Biography
  13. ^ Brebner, New England's Outpost.p 174
  14. ^ list of officers, p.63
  15. ^ The son of Captain Otho Hamilton and daughter of Captain Handfield were married in 1752.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 20, 2007. Retrieved January 12, 2014. 
  17. ^ See Faragher 262; Griffith 392; Murdoch, 166-167; Grenier, p. 153; John Salusbury's Diary, Dec. 10, 1749
  18. ^ Grenier, p. 153
  19. ^ "Selections from the public documents of the province of Nova Scotia". Internet Archive. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  20. ^ "Documentary history of the state of Maine ..". Internet Archive. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  21. ^ Beamish Murdoch. History of Nova Scotia. Vol. 2. p. 204
  22. ^ When John Hamilton returned to Port Royal, he married John Hatfield's daughter Elizabeth.
  23. ^ a b "Biography – ATECOUANDO (fl. 1749-57) – Volume III (1741-1770) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  25. ^ "Documentary history of the state of Maine ..". Internet Archive. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  26. ^ a b "Documentary history of the state of Maine ..". Internet Archive. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  27. ^ "Documentary history of the state of Maine ..". Internet Archive. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  28. ^ p. 272
  29. ^ (Thomas Akins, History of Halifax City, Chapter 2).
  30. ^ "Selections from the public documents of the province of Nova Scotia". Internet Archive. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  31. ^ Le Loutre's letter about Hamilton, p. 15
  32. ^ In 1899, Rev. Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton of Halifax, Nova Scotia owned a portrait of John Hamilton and another of his wife Katherine Arbuckley.
  33. ^ "Collection de documents inédits sur le Canada et l'Amérique [microforme]". Internet Archive. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 

Literature cited[edit]

  • Faragher, John. Great and Noble Scheme. New York: Norton, 2005.
  • Grenier, John. The Far Reaches of Empire. War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 2008. pp. 154–155.
  • Griffiths, Naomi Elizabeth Saundaus. From Migrant to Acadian: A North American border people, 1604-1755. Montreal, Kingston: McGill-Queen's UP, 2005.
  • Landry, Peter. The Lion & The Lily. Vol. 1. Victoria: Trafford, 2007.
  • Murdoch, Beamish. A History of Nova Scotia, Or Acadia. Vol 2. LaVergne: BiblioBazaar, 2009. pp. 166–167.
  • Rompkey, Ronald, ed. Expeditions of Honour: The Journal of John Salusbury in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1749-53. Newark: U of Delaware P, Newark, 1982.

External links[edit]