Skip to comments.Redcoats shot Acadians in 1755 expulsion: letter
Posted on 10/29/2001 5:27:02 AM PST by jerod
H A L I F A X - A 1755 letter recently acquired by the University of Louisiana provides rare evidence that British soldiers shot people during the Acadian expulsion from Grand Pré, N.S.
The letter, by British Major-General John Winslow, describes how soldiers rounded up 1,510 inhabitants by force and put them on ships.
"Have had no uncommon disturbance," Maj.-Gen. Winslow wrote to a friend described only as a doctor. Some of the young men in the settlement, however, tried to get away, he said.
"Kil'd one & I believe one other as he has not been heard of and the rest return. I yesterday began to burn the out posts & march this afternoon to proceed on that business. I expect to see the battalion soon united at Halifax."
The one-page handwritten report was placed on display behind glass this week at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's Edith Garland Dupre Library.
"The Acadian deportation is now seen internationally as one of the classic early episodes of ethnic cleansing," said Carl Brasseaux, a history professor at the university whose family was deported from Grand Pré 10 generations ago.
While Mr. Brasseaux knew that as many as half the deportees died from disease, malnutrition and exposure, he said he was never sure Acadians were shot at Grand Pré until he read the Winslow letter. "This is one of the clearest indications that lethal force was employed," he said.
The shootings were "very uncommon and would have been done only in the face of Acadian resistance," said Barry Moody, a history professor at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S.
It is believed about 11,000 Acadians were deported from what is now the Maritimes between 1755 and 1758. Another 3,000 are believed to have hidden in the forests of Atlantic Canada and Quebec.
Others sailed south to Louisiana where, over the centuries, they lost their language and much of their culture, metamorphosing into today's Cajuns -- a word derived from 'Acadian.'
"There's been a cultural renaissance here over the last 30 years, and with that has come a heightened interest in the arrival of the groups," Mr. Brasseaux said. "Before that, the story was almost entirely ignored."
The Louisiana university, which has a student body made up of about 40% Acadians by ancestry, paid a book dealer less than US$5,000 for the letter. It came from a private collector in New England.
"The document is historically significant to our region," said Charlie Triche, director of the Dupre Library. "So it wouldn't have mattered if it would have cost $20 or $25,000. We still would have got it."
EXPULSION: The letter reads: "Dear Doctor: These acquaint you that the camp in general is well. We have ship of here 1510 of the inhabitants. We had the whole collected and for want of transport have left 600 people. Have had no uncommon disturbance. The young fellows look in on their head, to desert our party. Kil'd one & I believe one other as he has not been heard of and the rest return. I yesterday began to burn the out posts & march this afternoon to proceed on that business. I expect to see the battallion [sic] soon united at Halifax. I refer you to Capt. Gorham for news. Am yours, etc. John Winslow."
I believe that it is common knowledge that in 1755 we were shooting Acadians on a regular basis. After all, they were French, and we were British.
Tell that to the Scottish clans persecuted in 1746-7.
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