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neglect every precaution, but kept out scoutingparties to range the surrounding country, while the rest of his men took their ease in the Acadian houses, living on the provisions of the villagers, for which payment was afterwards made. Some of the inhabitants, who had openly favored Ramesay and his followers, fled to the woods, in fear of the consequences; but the greater part remained quietly in the village.
At the head of the Bay of Fundy its waters form a fork, consisting of Chignecto Bay on the one hand, and Mines Basin on the other. At the head of Chignecto Bay was the Acadian settlement of Chignecto, or Beaubassin, in the houses of which Ramesay had quartered his Canadians. Here the neck of the Acadian peninsula is at its narrowest, the distance across to Baye Verte, where Ramesay had built a fort, being little more than twelve miles. Thus he controlled the isthmus, — from which, however, Noble hoped to dislodge him in the spring.
In the afternoon of the eighth of January an Acadian who had been sent to Mines by the missionary Germain, came to Beaubassin with the news that two hundred and twenty English were at Grand Pré, and that more were expected.1 Ramesay instantly formed a plan of extraordinary hardihood, and resolved, by a rapid march and a night attack, to surprise the new-comers. His party was greatly
1 Beaujeu, Journal de la Campagne du Détachement de Canada à P Acadie, in Le Canada Français, ii. Documents, 16.
reduced by disease, and to recruit it he wrote to La Corne, Récollet missionary at Miramichi, to join him with his Indians; writing at the same time to Maillard, former colleague of Le Loutre at the mission of Shubenacadie, and to Girard, priest of Cobequid, to muster Indians, collect provisions, and gather information concerning the English. Meanwhile his Canadians busied themselves with making snow-shoes and dog-sledges for the march.
Ramesay could not command the expedition in person, as an accident to one of his knees had disabled him from marching. This was less to be regretted, in view of the quality of his officers, for he had with him the flower of the warlike Canadian noblesse, — Coulon de Villiers, who, seven years later, defeated Washington at Fort Necessity; Beaujeu, the future hero of the Monongahela, in appearance a carpet knight, in reality a bold and determined warrior; the Chevalier de la Corne, a model of bodily and mental hardihood; Saint-Pierre, Lanaudière, Saint-Ours, Desligneris, Courtemanche, Repentigny, Boishébert, Gaspé, Colombière, Marin, Lusignan, all adepts in the warfare of surprise and sudden onslaught in which the Canadians excelled.
Coulon de Villiers commanded in Ramesay's place; and on the twenty-first of January he and the other officers led their men across the isthmus from Beaubassin to Baye Verte, where they all encamped in the woods, and where they were joined by a party of Indians and some Acadians from Beaubassin and Isle St. Jean.1 Provisions, ammunition, and other requisites were distributed, and at noon of the twentythird they broke up their camp, marched three leagues, and bivouacked towards evening. On the next morning they marched again at daybreak. There was sharp cold, with a storm of snow, — not the large, moist, lazy flakes that fall peacefully and harmlessly, but those small crystalline particles that drive spitefully before the wind, and prick the cheek like needles. It was the kind of snow-storm called in Canada la poudrerie. They had hoped to make a long day's march; but feet and faces were freezing, and they were forced to stop, at noon, under such shelter as the thick woods of pine, spruce, and fir could supply. In the morning they marched again, following the border of the sea, their dog-teams dragging provisions and baggage over the broken ice of creeks and inlets, which they sometimes avoided by hewing paths through the forest. After a day of extreme fatigue they stopped at the small bay where the town of Wallace now stands. Beaujeu says: “While we were digging out the snow to make our huts, there came two Acadians with letters from MM. Maillard and Girard.” The two priests sent a mixture of good and evil news. On one hand the English were more numerous than had been reported; on the other, they had not set up the blockhouses they had brought with them. Some Acadians of the neighboring settlement joined the party at this camp, as also did a few Indians.
On the next morning, January 27, the adventurers stopped at the village of Tatmagouche, where they were again joined by a number of Acadians. After mending their broken sledges they resumed their march, and at five in the afternoon reached a place called Bacouel, at the beginning of the portage that led some twenty-five miles across the country to Cobequid, now Truro, at the head of Mines Basin. Here they were met by Girard, priest of Cobequid, from whom Coulon exacted a promise to meet him again at that village in two days. Girard gave the promise unwillingly, fearing, says Beaujeu, to embroil himself with the English authorities. He reported that the force at Grand Pré counted at least four hundred and fifty, or, as some said, more than five hundred. This startling news ran through the camp; but the men were not daunted. “The more there are," they said, “the more we shall kill.”
The party spent the twenty-eighth in mending their damaged sledges, and in the afternoon they were joined by more Acadians and Indians. Thus reinforced, they marched again, and towards evening reached a village on the outskirts of Cobequid. Here the missionary Maillard joined them, — to the great satisfaction of Coulon, who relied on him and his brother priest Girard to procure supplies of provisions. Maillard promised to go himself to Grand Pré with the Indians of his mission.
The party rested for a day, and set out again on the first of February, stopped at Maillard's house in Cobequid for the provisions he had collected for them, and then pushed on towards the river Shubenacadie, which runs from the south into Cobequid Bay, the head of Mines Basin. When they reached the river they found it impassable from floating ice, which forced them to seek a passage at some distance above. Coulon was resolved, however, that at any risk a detachment should cross at once, to stop the roads to Grand Pré, and prevent the English from being warned of his approach; for though the Acadians inclined to the French, and were eager to serve them when the risk was not too great, there were some of them who, from interest or fear, were ready to make favor with the English by carrying them intelligence. Boishébert, with ten Canadians, put out from shore in a canoe, and were near perishing among the drifting ice; but they gained the farther shore at last, and guarded every path to Grand Pré. The main body filed on snow-shoes up the east bank of the Shubenacadie, where the forests were choked with snow and encumbered with fallen trees, over which the sledges were to be dragged, to their great detriment. On this day, the third, they made five leagues; on the next only two, which brought them within half a league of Le Loutre's Micmac mission. Not far from this place the river was easily passable on the ice, and they continued their march westward across the country to the river Kennetcook by ways so difficult that their Indian guide lost the path, and for a time led them astray. On the seventh,