« FöregåendeFortsätt »
through the heart with a bayonet. Captain Howe was severely wounded and made prisoner.
Coulon and Lusignan, disabled by their wounds, were carried back to the houses on the Gaspereau, where the French surgeon had remained. Coulon's party, now commanded by Beaujeu, having met and joined the smaller party under Lotbinière, proceeded to the aid of others who might need their help; for while they heard a great noise of musketry from far and near, and could discern bodies of men in motion here and there, they could not see whether these were friends or foes, or discern which side fortune favored. They presently met the party of Marin, composed of twenty-five Indians, who had just been repulsed with loss from the house which they had attacked. By this time there was a gleam of daylight, and as they plodded wearily over the snowdrifts, they no longer groped in darkness. The two parties of Colombière and Boishébert soon joined them, with the agreeable news that each had captured a house; and the united force now proceeded to make a successful attack on two buildings where the English had stored the frames of their blockhouses. Here the assailants captured ten prisoners. It was now broad day, but they could not see through the falling snow whether the enterprise, as a whole, had prospered or failed. Therefore Beaujeu sent Marin to find La Corne, who, in the absence of Coulon, held the chief command. Marin was gone two hours. At length he returned, and reported that the English in the houses which had not been attacked, together with such others as had not been killed or captured, had drawn together at the stone house in the middle of the village, that La Corne was blockading them there, and that he ordered Beaujeu and his party to join him at once. When Beaujeu reached the place he found La Corne posted at the house where Noble had been killed, and which was within easy musketshot of the stone house occupied by the English, against whom a spattering fire was kept up by the French from the cover of neighboring buildings. Those in the stone house returned the fire; but no great harm was done on either side, till the English, now commanded by Captain Goldthwait, attempted to recapture the house where La Corne and his party were posted. Two companies made a sally; but they had among them only eighteen pairs of snow-shoes, the rest having been left on board the two vessels which had brought the stores of the detachment from Annapolis, and which now lay moored hard by, in the power of the enemy, at or near the mouth of the Gaspereau. Hence the sallying party floundered helpless among the drifts, plunging so deep in the dry snow that they could not use their guns and could scarcely move, while bullets showered upon them from La Corne's men in the house, and others hovering about them on snow-shoes. The attempt was hopeless, and after some loss the two companies fell back. The firing continued, as before, till noon, or, according to Beaujeu, till three in the afternoon, when a French officer, carrying a flag of truce, came out of La Corne’s house. The occasion of the overture was this.
Captain Howe, who, as before mentioned, had been badly wounded at the capture of this house, was still there, a prisoner, without surgical aid, the French surgeon being at the houses on the Gaspereau, in charge of Coulon and other wounded men. “Though,” says Beaujeu, “M. Howe was a firm man, he begged the Chevalier La Corne not to let him bleed to death for want of aid, but permit him to send for an English surgeon.” To this La Corne, after consulting with his officers, consented, and Marin went to the English with a white flag and a note from Howe explaining the situation. The surgeon was sent, and Howe's wound was dressed, Marin remaining as a hostage. A suspension of arms took place till the surgeon's return; after which it was prolonged till nine o'clock of the next morning, at the instance, according to French accounts, of the English, and, according to English accounts, of the French. In either case, the truce was welcome to both sides. The English, who were in the stone house to the number of nearly three hundred and fifty, crowded to suffocation, had five small cannon, two of which were four-pounders, and three were swivels; but these were probably not in position, as it does not appear that any use was made of them. There was no ammunition except what the men had in their powder-horns and bullet-pouches, the main stock
having been left, with other necessaries, on board the schooner and sloop now in the hands of the French. It was found, on examination, that they had ammunition for eight shots each, and provisions for one day. Water was only to be had by bringing it from a neighboring brook. As there were snow-shoes for only about one man in twenty, sorties were out of the question; and the house was commanded by high ground on three sides.
Though their number was still considerable, their position was growing desperate. Thus it happened that when the truce expired, Goldthwait, the English commander, with another officer, who seems to have been Captain Preble, came with a white flag to the house where La Corne was posted, and proposed terms of capitulation, Howe, who spoke French, acting as interpreter. La Corne made proposals on his side, and as neither party was anxious to continue the fray, they soon came to an understanding.
It was agreed that within forty-eight hours the English should march for Annapolis with the honors of war; that the prisoners taken by the French should remain in their hands; that the Indians, who had been the only plunderers, should keep the plunder they had taken; that the English sick and wounded should be left, till their recovery, at the neighboring settlement of Rivière-aux-Canards, protected by a French guard, and that the English engaged in the affair at Grand Pré should not bear arms during the next six months within the district about the head of the Bay of Fundy, including Chignecto, Grand Pré, and the neighboring settlements.
Captain Howe was released on parole, with the condition that he should send back in exchange one Lacroix, a French prisoner at Boston, — “which,” says La Corne, “he faithfully did.”
Thus ended one of the most gallant exploits in French-Canadian annals. As respects the losses on each side, the French and English accounts are irreconcilable; nor are the statements of either party consistent with themselves. Mascarene reports to Shirley that seventy English were killed, and above sixty captured; though he afterwards reduces these numbers, having, as he says, received farther information. On the French side he says that four officers and about forty men were killed, and that many wounded were carried off in carts during the fight. Beaujeu, on the other hand, sets the English loss at one hundred and thirty killed, fifteen wounded, and fifty captured; and the French loss at seven killed and fifteen wounded. As for the numbers engaged, the statements are scarcely less divergent. It seems clear, however, that when Coulon began his marcb from Baye Verte, his party consisted of about three hundred Canadians and Indians, without reckoning some Acadians who had joined him from Beaubassin and Isle St. Jean. Others joined him on the way to Grand Pré, counting a hundred and fifty according to Shirley, — which appears to be much too large an