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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Removed after them from Acadia

War and its horrors broke in upon this peaceful idyl.

The Acadians had constantly refused to take the oath to England; they were declared guilty of having violated neutrality. For the most part the accusation was unjust; but all were involved in the same condemnation.

On the 5th of September, 1755, four hundred and eighteen heads of families were summoned to meet in the church of Grand Pre. The same order had been given throughout all the towns of Acadia. The anxious farmers had all obeyed. Colonel Winslow, commanding the Massachusetts militia, repaired thither with great array. "It is a painful duty which brings me here," he said. "I have orders to inform you that your lands, your houses, and your crops are confiscated to the profit of the crown; you can carry off your money and your linen on your deportation from the province." The order was accompanied by no explanation; nor did it admit of any. All the heads of families were at once surrounded by the soldiers. By tens, and under safe escort, they were permitted to visit once more the fields which they had cultivated, the houses in which they had seen their children grow up. On the 10th they embarked, passing, on their way to the ships, between two rows of women and children in tears. The young people had shown a disposition to resist, demanding leave to depart with their families: the soldiers crossed their bayonets. The vessels set sail for the English colonies, dispersing over the coast the poor creatures they had torn away from all that was theirs. Many perished of want while seeking from town to town their families, removed after them from Acadia; the charity of the American colonists relieved their first wants. Some French Protestants, who had settled in Philadelphia after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, welcomed them as brothers, notwithstanding the difference of their creed; for they knew all the heart-rending evils of exile.

Much emotion was excited in France by the woes of the Acadians. In spite of the declaration of war, Louis XV. made a request to the English cabinet for permission to send vessels along the coasts of America, to pick up those unfortunates. "Our navigation act is against it," replied Mr. Grenville; "France cannot send ships amongst our colonies." A few Acadians, nevertheless, reached France; they settled in the outskirts of Bordeaux, where their descendants still form the population of two prosperous communes. Others founded in Louisiana settlements which bore the name of Acadia. The crime was consummated: the religious, pacific, inoffensive population, which but lately occupied the neutral land, had completely disappeared. The greedy colonists, who envied them their farms and pasturage, had taken possession of the spoil; Acadia was forever in the power of the Anglo-Saxon race, which was at the same moment invading the valley of the Ohio.

General Braddock had mustered his troops at Wills Creek, in the neighborhood of the Alleghany Mountains. He meditated surprising Fort Duquesne, erected but a short time previously by the French on the banks of the Ohio. The little army was advancing slowly across the mountains and the forests; Braddock divided it into two corps, and placing himself with Colonel Washington, who was at that time serving on his staff at the head of twelve hundred men, he pushed forward rapidly. "Never," said Washington afterwards, "did I see a finer sight than the departure of the English troops on the 9th of July, 1755; all the men were in full uniform, marching in slow time and in perfect order; the sun was reflected from their glittering arms; the river rolled its waves along on their right, and on their left the vast forest threw over them its mighty shadows. Officers and soldiers were equally joyous and confident of success."

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