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Boishébert and his party rejoined them, and brought a reinforcement of sixteen Indians, whom the Acadians had furnished with arms. Provisions were failing, till on the eighth, as they approached the village of Pisiquid, now Windsor, the Acadians, with great zeal, brought them a supply. They told them, too, that the English at Grand Pré were perfectly secure, suspecting no danger. On the ninth, in spite of a cold, dry storm of snow, they reached the west branch of the river Avon. It was but seven French leagues to Grand Prè, which they hoped to reach before night; but fatigue compelled them to rest till the tenth. At noon of that day, the storm still continuing, they marched again, though they could hardly see their way for the driving snow. They soon came to a small stream, along the frozen surface of which they drew up in order, and, by command of Coulon, Beaujeu divided them all into ten parties, for simultaneous attacks on as many houses occupied by the English. Then, marching slowly, lest they should arrive too soon, they reached the river Gaspereau, which enters Mines Basin at Grand Pré. They were now but half a league from their destination. Here they stopped an hour in the storm, shivering and half frozen, waiting for nightfall. When it grew dark they moved again, and soon came to a number of houses on the river-bank. Each of the ten parties took possession of one of these, making great fires to warm themselves and dry their guns.
It chanced that in the house where Coulon and his band sought shelter, a wedding-feast was going on. The guests were much startled at this sudden irruption of armed men; but to the Canadians and their chief the festival was a stroke of amazing good luck, for most of the guests were inhabitants of Grand Pré, who knew perfectly the houses occupied by the English, and could tell with precision where the officers were quartered. This was a point of extreme importance. The English were distributed among twentyfour houses, scattered, as before mentioned, for the distance of a mile and a half. The assailants were too few to attack all these houses at once; but if those where the chief officers lodged could be surprised and captured with their inmates, the rest could make little resistance. Hence it was that Coulon had divided his followers into ten parties, each with one or more chosen officers; these officers were now called together at the house of the interrupted festivity, and the late guests having given full information as to the position of the English quarters and the military quality of their inmates, a special object of attack was assigned to the officer of each party, with Acadian guides to conduct him to it. The principal party, consisting of fifty, or, as another account says, of seventy-five men, was led by Coulon himself, with Beaujeu, Desligneris, Mercier, Léry, and Lusignan as his officers. This
i Goldthwait to Shirley, 2 March, 1746 (1747). Captain Benjamin Goldthwait was second in command of the English detachment.
party was to attack a stone house near the middle of the village, where the main guard was stationed, - a building somewhat larger than the rest, and the only one at all suited for defence. The second party, of forty men, commanded by La Corne, with Rigauville, Lagny, and Villemont, was to attack a neighboring house, the quarters of Colonel Noble, his brother, Ensign Noble, and several other officers. The remaining parties, of twenty-five men each according to Beaujeu, or twenty-eight according to La Corne, were to make a dash, as nearly as possible at the same time, at other houses which it was thought most important to secure. All had Acadian guides, whose services in that capacity were invaluable; though Beaujeu complains that they were of no use in the attack. He says that the united force was about three hundred men, while the English Captain Goldthwait puts it, including Acadians and Indians, at from five to six hundred. That of the English was a little above five hundred in all. Every arrangement being made, and his part assigned to each officer, the whole body was drawn up in the storm, and the chaplain pronounced a general absolution. Then each of the ten parties, guided by one or more Acadians, took the path for its destination, every man on snow-shoes, with the lock of his gun well sheltered under his capote. The largest party, under Coulon, was, as we have seen, to attack the stone house in the middle of the village; but their guide went astray, and about three in the morning they approached a small wooden house not far from their true object. A guard was posted here, as at all the English quarters. The night was dark and the snow was still falling, as it had done without ceasing for the past thirty hours. The English sentinel descried through the darkness and the storm what seemed the shadows of an advancing crowd of men. He cried, “Who goes there?” and then shouted, “To arms!” A door was flung open, and the guard appeared in the entrance. But at that moment the moving shadows vanished from before the eyes of the sentinel. The French, one and all, had thrown themselves flat in the soft, light snow, and nothing was to be seen or heard. The English thought it a false alarm, and the house was quiet again. Then Coulon and his men rose and dashed forward. Again, in a loud and startled voice, the sentinel shouted, “To arms!” A great light, as of a blazing fire, shone through the open doorway, and men were seen within in hurried movement. Coulon, who was in the front, said to Beaujeu, who was close at his side, that the house was not the one they were to attack. Beaujeu replied that it was no time to change, and Coulon dashed forward again. Beaujeu aimed at the sentinel and shot him dead. There was the flash and report of muskets from the house, and Coulon dropped in the snow, severely wounded. The young cadet, Lusignan, was hit in the shoulder; but he still pushed on, when a second shot shattered his thigh,
“Friends,” cried the gallant youth, as he fell by the side of his commander, “don't let two dead men discourage you.” The Canadians, powdered from head to foot with snow, burst into the house. Within ten minutes, all resistance was overpowered. Of twentyfour Englishmen, twenty-one were killed, and three made prisoners."
Meanwhile, La Corne, with his party of forty men, had attacked the house where were quartered Colonel Noble and his brother, with Captain Howe and several other officers. Noble had lately transferred the main guard to the stone house, but had not yet removed thither himself, and the guard in the house which he occupied was small. The French burst the door with axes, and rushed in. Colonel Noble, startled from sleep, sprang from his bed, receiving two musket-balls in the body as he did so. He seems to have had pistols, for he returned the fire several times. His servant, who was in the house, testified that the French called to the colonel through a window and promised him quarter if he would surrender; but that he refused, on which they fired again, and a bullet, striking his forehead, killed him instantly. His brother, Ensign Noble, was also shot down, fighting in his shirt. Lieutenants Pickering and Lechmere lay in bed dangerously ill, and were killed there. Lieutenant Jones, after, as the narrator says, “ridding himself of some of the enemy,” tried to break through the rest and escape, but was run
1 Beaujeu, Journal. VOL. 11. – 13