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Siege of Grand Pre
Part of Father Le Loutre’s War
Site of Siege of Grand Pre, Hortonville, Nova Scotia
DateNovember 27-December 4, 1749
LocationGrand Pre, Nova Scotia (present-day Hortonville, Nova Scotia)
Result British victory
Wabanaki Confederacy (Mi'kmaq
British America
Commanders and leaders
unknown Captain John Handfield [1]
300 Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, and Acadians unknown British regulars
Casualties and losses
unknown 19 prisoners; sentrys killed

The Siege of Grand Pre happened during Father Le Loutre’s War and was fought between the British and the Wabanaki Confederacy (Mi’kmaq, Maliseet) and Acadians. The siege happened at Fort Vieux Logis, Grand Pre (present-day Hortonville, Nova Scotia). The native and Acadian militia laid siege to Fort Vieux Logis for a week in November 1749.

Historical context[]

Despite the British Conquest of Acadia in 1710, Nova Scotia remained primarily occupied by Catholic Acadians and Mi'kmaq. By the time Cornwallis had arrived in Halifax, there was a long history of the Wabanaki Confederacy (which included the Mi'kmaq) protecting their land by killing British civilians along the New England/ Acadia border in Maine (See the Northeast Coast Campaigns 1688, 1703, 1723, 1724, 1745, 1746, 1747).[2]

To prevent the establishment of Protestant settlements in the region, Mi'kmaq raided the early British settlements of present-day Shelburne (1715) and Canso (1720). A generation later, Father Le Loutre's War began when Edward Cornwallis arrived to establish Halifax with 13 transports on June 21, 1749.[3] By unilaterally establishing Halifax the British were violating earlier treaties with the Mi'kmaq (1726), which were signed after Father Rale's War.[4]

Within 18 months of establishing Halifax, the British also took firm control of peninsula Nova Scotia by building fortifications in all the major Acadian communities: present-day Windsor (Fort Edward); Grand Pre (Fort Vieux Logis) and Chignecto (Fort Lawrence). (A British fort already existed at the other major Acadian centre of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Cobequid remained without a fort.) There were numerous Mi'kmaq and Acadian raids on these fortifications such as the Siege of Grand Pre.

Just prior to the Siege, on September 30, 1749, about forty Mi'kmaq attacked six men who were cutting trees at a saw mill in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Four of them were killed on the spot, one was taken prisoner and one escaped.[5] Two of the men were scalped and the heads of the others were cut off. A detachment of rangers was sent after the raiding party and cut off the heads of two Mi'kmaq and scalped one.[6]

As a result of the raid in Dartmouth, on October 2, 1749, Cornwallis offered a bounty on the head of every Mi'kmaq. He set the amount at the same rate that the Mi'kmaq received from the French for British scalps. As well, to carry out this task, two companies of rangers were raised, one led by Captain Francis Bartelo and the other by Captain William Clapham. These two companies served alongside that of John Gorham's company. The three companies scoured the land around looking for Mi'kmaq.[7] 'After the destruction of Mirligueche (later known as Lunenburg, Nova Scotia), the Siege of Grand Pre was the first recorded conflict after Cornwallis’ bounty proclamation.

The Siege[]

On November 27, 1749, 300 Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, Penobscot and Acadians attacked Fort Vieux Logis at Grand Pre.[8] The fort was under the command of Captain John Handfield[9] of the Cornwallis' Regiment. The Native and Acadian militia killed the sentrys (guards) who were firing on them.[10] The Natives then captured Lieutenant John Hamilton and eighteen soldiers under his command, while surveying the fort's environs. After the capture of the British soldiers, the native and Acadian militias made several attempts over the next week to lay siege to the fort before breaking off the engagement. When Gorham’s Rangers arrived the militia had already departed with the prisoners to Chignecto.[11]


On March 18, 1750, Gorham’s Rangers left Fort Sackville (Nova Scotia), under orders from Governor Cornwallis to march to Piziquid (Windsor). Their mission was to establish a blockhouse at Piziquid (i.e., Fort Edward), and to seize the property of Acadians who had participated in the Siege of Grand Pre.[12] (En route, Gorham engaged the Mi’kmaq in the Battle at St. Croix).

The Mi’kmaq and Acadians continued raids on the Protestant settlements, such as the Raid on Dartmouth (1751) and the Raid on Lunenburg, Nova Scotia (1756).

The prisoners spent two years in captivity before being ransomed. In August 1751, Lt. John Hamilton had negotiated the release for himself and the other 60 Englishmen who had been imprisoned over the two years.[13] The Governor and Council paid Le Loutre's ransom of £882 to release sixty prisoners of officers, soldiers and settlers, including Hamilton.[14]


  1. Canadian Biography
  2. John Reid.“Amerindian Power in the Early Modern Northeast: A Reappraisal.” in Essays on Northeastern North America: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008) ; Grenier, John. The Far Reaches of Empire. War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2008.
  3. Grenier, John. The Far Reaches of Empire. War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 2008; Thomas Beamish Akins. History of Halifax, Brookhouse Press. 1895. (2002 edition). p 7
  4. Wicken, p. 181; Griffith, p. 390; Also see
  5. Harry Chapman. In the Wake of the Alderney: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 1750-2000. Dartmouth Historical Association. 2000. p. 23.
  6. Thomas Beamish Akins. History of Halifax, Brookhouse Press. 1895. (2002 edition). p 18.
  7. Thomas Beamish Akins. History of Halifax, Brookhouse Press. 1895. (2002 edition). p 19.
  8. Beamish Murdoch. History of Nova Scotia vol. 2. p. 172
  9. Canadian Biography
  10. Brebner, New England's Outpost.p 174
  11. See Faragher 262; Griffith 392; Murdoch, 166-167; Grenier, p. 153; John Salusbury's Diary, Dec. 10, 1749; and
  12. Grenier, p. 153
  13. Beamish Murdoch. History of Nova Scotia. Vol. 2. p. 204
  14. (Thomas Akins, History of Halifax City, Chapter 2).

Literature cited[]

  • Faragher, John. Great and Noble Scheme. New York: Norton, 2005.
  • Grenier, John. The Far Reaches of Empire. War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 2008. pp. 154–155.
  • Griffiths, Naomi Elizabeth Saundaus. From Migrant to Acadian: A North American border people, 1604-1755. Montreal, Kingston: McGill-Queen's UP, 2005.
  • Landry, Peter. The Lion & The Lily. Vol. 1. Victoria: Trafford, 2007.
  • Murdoch, Beamish. A History of Nova Scotia, Or Acadia. Vol 2. LaVergne: BiblioBazaar, 2009. pp. 166–167.
  • Rompkey, Ronald, ed. Expeditions of Honour: The Journal of John Salusbury in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1749-53. Newark: U of Delaware P, Newark, 1982.

External links[]

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