The 14th Colony and My Link to the Revolutionary War

(In what has become a Fourth Weekend Tradition, here is an article about why the former Massachusetts Residents up in Nova Scotia didn’t join their brothers in Rebelling against the crown. – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

As you may remember on April 17, 2009, I woke up Canadian due to a change in the Canadian citizenship laws. I can trace my family lineage through both Quebec and Acadia (the modern day Maritimes).  As we celebrate the Fourth of July, you may be interested to read about the Fourteenth colony, Nova Scotia, and why it did not join the other thirteen.  

There is a very good essay on Nova Scotia’s role in the American Revolution that I found on the web.  It basically boils down to three reasons that Nova Scotia did not join the Revolution: distance from the other thirteen colonies, the Naval Presence at the Harbor of Halifax, and a religious revival that coincided with the revolution.

Nova Scotia Colony had not sent representatives to the Continental Congress Studying this letter with the historical perspective we can see something which General Washington couldn’t, or wouldn’t see. The assembly of the Nova Scotia Colony had not sent representatives to the Continental Congress because they were surrounded by Redcoats and imperial Sailors and any such attempt would be learned of and quashed aborning. The 14th colony was under Martial Law with every ships Captain ready, willing, and able to act as a hanging judge at the first hint of open rebellion. Therefore while the Assembly of Nova Scotia had not sent representatives to Philadelphia for either the First or Second Continental Congress it was not from lack of will, but rather fear of retaliation, as was demonstrated in many of the acts of Sabotage preformed in Halifax. They were rumored to be set in play by current or former members of the Nova Scotian assembly, spurred forward in great part by the petty tyrant Governor Legge, who was paranoid to the point of seeing Rebels under every bed. This paranoia bred security measures that in turn lead to Sabotage, which fed the paranoia and led to tighter measures. Seeing where this path must inevitably lead Lt. Governor Francklin sent a delegation to London in January 1776 pleading for a new Governor before Legge managed to turn every local settler into a Rebel. Unfortunately for the United States and the peoples of Nova Scotia Colony Francklin was successful and a startled London ordered Legge back to England, with a 1,000 pound per year salary as Governor still in effect to keep him happy. His departure from Halifax was a memorable event, the entire town turned out to boo him and as he passed them by shouted curses were exchanged in both directions as the Frigate bearing the Governor pulled out of the harbor. In revenge Governor Legge managed to get Francklin removed from his post as well and Mariot Arbuthnot a naval officer was appointed to replace him. Unfortunately for the 14th colony Arbuthnot was a man who pretty much let the colonials be. The former Lt. Governor Francklin, a dedicated Loyalist, operated quietly behind the scenes to cool tempers and strengthen citizen support for the Loyalist side in the war.

Then to make matters even worse in March of 1776 General Howe returned to Halifax, pulling the Army and Fleet out of Boston and flooding the 14th colony with not only Military forces but also with every Loyalist they could cram aboard their fleet, rich and poor, honest or criminal. These retches descended on tiny Halifax like a plague of Locusts and devoured every morsel of food and occupied every room and then every inch of ground with their tents, driving prices through the ceiling and causing great hardship to the local population. While the Loyalist’s were greeted with less than enthusiasm and then down right hostility they in turn resented loosing everything and then being put on minimum rations so that everyone would get enough to eat. They soon began calling Nova Scotia Nova Scarcity and like the unexpected guest that doesn’t know when to leave they fomented anger and rebellion just by existing.

Some relief came in the fall of 1776 for when the Royal Navy attacked and the Redcoats invaded New York the wealthy Loyalists moved to Manhattan Island where they remained until 1783. The poorer loyalists however were left in Halifax to fend for themselves and it was quickly discovered that little could be done for them because little was available to share out. Even so far as food and shelter were concerned. Given these few options some of the Loyalist men began to form Loyalist regiments in hopes of securing food, shelter and revenge upon the Rebels whom they had fled in New England. From March 1776 when the first of the refugees arrived right through 1783 when the terms of the Treaty ending the war were announced and the fearful Loyalists in New York colony fled en masse to Halifax the town was continually filled up with Refugees whose attitude was sour and whose means were few or non-existent.

One of my direct ancestors was part of the attack on Fort Cumberland by rebels in Nova Scotia.  I’ve been to that site.

That was not the end of involvement of the Caissie in the guerre folle “crazy war” as it was called by the Acadians, seeing two groups of Englishmen fighting against one another. Isaie Boudreau, who helped carry Grand Jos back home, was single and eager to fight (His brother Hilaire was married to Madeleine, a daughter of Grand Jos). He accompanied Colonel Jonathan Eddy, the ranking officer in the Canadian forces, to George Washington’s camp to meet the general and ask for his support, promising that they could raise an army of 600 men. Washington refused to export his rebellion and Colonel Eddy decided to go at it anyway. In November, he came back to the Beausejour area with a troop of only 200 soldiers. One company was made up of 22 Acadians. Isaie Boudreau was the Captain and Pierre Caissie, “Grand Jos” son was First Lieutenant.

A first attack on the fort on November 14 failed and Eddy decided to lay siege. Two weeks later, 400 British troops arrived from Halifax, and during the night of Nov. 30 to Dec. 1, made a surprise raid on the rebel camp. Everybody ran, some back home when they could, others (including Isaie) all the way back to the American side. As a measure of retaliation Inverma Farm was burned to the ground. Some years later, the American Congress paid Allan for his losses, but nothing was ever offered to the Acadians, except the pay for 14 days of military duty; at least it appear they were paid as would indicate a payroll record. The Caissies again lost everything and this time took refuge in Memramcook where relatives of Jos’s wife were living. They were not pursued as the British felt that to do so might raise the ire of the Acadians who had remained neutral.

I’ll leave you with the author of the essays final thoughts about the revolutionary war.

What if?

I find it Ironic that such was the case when on at least two separate occasions the Nova Scotians rebelled, only to be quashed from lack of cannon and strength in numbers. Here is where we can play IF, if only Washington had sent aid in 1775, or if only the Rebels had captured Fort Cumberland in 1776, how might the war have changed? Would the Canadians of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick provinces been happier as states of the United States? We will never know, but if you are a native of these provinces I would find your perspective interesting.

What if? indeed.

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