Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nova Scotia National Historic Site #13: Duc D'Anville Encampment

On September 18, 1710, 42 British vessels carrying 2000 troops set sail from Boston in an attempt to capture Port Royal - the French stronghold in what was then known as Acadia. Though the Acadians fought valiantly, they were eventually forced to surrender to the overwhelming British attack (the British honoured the formidable French defenders by allowing them to march out with colours flying, drums beating, and with all their bags and arms in hand).

The capture of Port Royal signalled the beginning of the end of French rule in Acadia - which was officially ceded to the British at the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. However, the French would not stop fighting to regain control of their former capital for the next 50 years, and that leads us to Duc D'Anville's Expedition.

After losing another battle in what would later come to be known as Cape Breton Island, Louis XV ordered Jean-Baptiste Louis Frederic de La Rochefoucauld de Roye, Duc D'Anville, to lead a massive fleet of 64 ships and 11 000 troops to Port Royal (by this time renamed Annapolis Royal by the British in honour of Queen Anne) in one great effort to regain control of New France.

Long story short, the Expedition was a complete disaster, with numerous ships being battered by severe storms - one ship was even struck by lightning - and large numbers of troops succumbing to typhus and scurvy. After nearly 3 months at sea, the shattered Expedition (now only two-thirds its original size - limped into what is now known as Halifax Harbour in 1746, where it encamped at Chebucto, just north of what would later become Halifax. It was here, six days later, that Duc D'Anville and a great number of his men would die from disease.

Now though, Chebucto is just a small plot of grass and trees (see picture at top of article) next to a restaurant on the Bedford Highway, with only this cairn and plaque to indicate that anything significant happened here.

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