|Editors note: In October 1755, English troops
deported more than 5,000 French Acadians from what
is now Nova Scotia, Canada. While their journeys were
desperate and difficult, times were even
harsher for members of the Acadian resistance who
remained in hiding in the forests of their
homeland. Part Three of The Advertiser's series on
the Acadian adventure tells their story, as related
in Bona Arsenault's book, History of the Acadians.
History tells us that war leaves
in its wake the sweetness of victory and the sorrow of the vanquished.
makes heroes, also.
That's certainly true of the
conflict between the English and the French in Acadia. After Le Grande
Derangement of 1755, hundreds of Acadians who had managed
to escape deportation hid in the forests of
Nova Scotia. As had happened so often before, they hoped
the French would regain control of the area so
they could reclaim their homesteads from the Protestant
First and foremost among them
were the brothers Brossard dit Beausoleil, Alexandre and Joseph. As
leaders of the Acadian resistance, they remained in Acadia
until after the Treaty of Paris was signed in
1763. The Brossards--whose family name was later changed
to Broussard - were known for their courage,
their marksmanship, and their contagious cheerfulness
(hence the nickname for Joseph, " Beasoleil,"
referring to a smile as bright as the sun).
Bona Arsenault's History of
the Acadians notes that Joseph Brossard, born in Port Royal, founded the
Boundary Creek Settlement with his brother Alexandre
in 1740. He later became "a legendary figure both
in the Maritimes and in Louisiana."
Along with other families whose
homesteads had been burned and pillaged, Joseph and Alexandre fled into
the woods with their familes. Joseph, a sharpshooter
and militia captain, "took a heavy toll of English
soldiers sent into the area to capture refugees," Arsenault
wrote. His shooting skills became legendary in the
region, and his reputed prowess followed him to the bayou
country of Louisiana a few years later.
But as good a shot as he was,
Joseph could only protect so many families. In other regions of Acadia,
refugees were dealt with harshly by English soldiers
and by Mother Nature. More than 600 of those who
were hiding in the Miramichi River area died of starvation
and a "horrible contagion" in the winter of 1757.
French missionary Francois LeGuerne wrote that they attempted
to survive by "eating the leather of shoes,
carrion, and some even the excrement of animals." There
was nothing the Brossards could do to feed or
Another group of Acadian refugees
joined up with Francois Bourdon at Louisbourg, one of the last French
strongholds in Acadia. He was married to Marguerite Gauthier,
daughter of Acadians who had fled from
Port Royal to Ile St. Jean. When Louisbourg finally fell
to the English in 1758, Francois, Marguerite and the
thousands of Acadians who had settled in Ile St. Jean
after 1755 found themselves running for their lives
once again, "trying by all means to get away before the
By Arsenault's account, their
desire for haste was well-founded. At Port-Latour, a few Acadian families
survived mainly by fishing in the area. On one April
day, the Acadian fishermen returned to find their homes
had been burned and their wives and children - 72 of
them - had disappeared.
The English had captured the
women and children and deported them to North Carolina. Most never saw
their husbands and fathers again. The English had also
begun offering rewards for the scalps of Indians in
"A number of English soldiers
confused Indian and Acadian scalps," Arsenault wrote. "They had the excuse
that officially, all Acadians had been deported from Nova Scotia."
Between the lack of food, the
threat of scalping, and the continued English assaults against the last
Acadian strongholds, the resistance gradually began to
lose its vigor. Even Joseph and Alexandre Brossard
could hardly hold out hope when they learned of the fall
of Louisbourg in 1758.
The final blow for Joseph came
when they heard that Quebec had finally fallen, in 1759.
"He lost all hope since the
refugees who were with him had no food, or other essentials left, and winter
fast approaching" Arsenault recorded.
In final desperation, Joseph
and Alexandre, along with Jean Basque, Simon Martin, Jean Bourg and Michel
Bourg led their followers to Fort Cumberland. They hoped
to cut a deal with the English, "rather than die of
hunger," Arsenault wrote. Instead, they were imprisoned
at Halifax until the Treaty of Paris was signed in
That signing marked the begining
of the last great wave of Acadian refugees to leave Nova Scotia. Most of
them, including the Brossards, were headed for Louisiana.
Arsenault wrote that their journey
resumed in 1764, when Joseph Broussard's name appeared on the
registry of a ship bound for the West Indies.
"Stricken by a plague and unable
to bear the tropical climate, they did not stay. 'Ihey soon headed for
Attakapas region of Louisiana..." Arsenault recorded.
The Broussard's arrival was
marked in Louisiana records too, by New Orleans Commissioner Nicolas
"A few days ago, 193 Acadians
arrived in Louisiana from Santo Domingo. Since they were extremely
indigent, we assured them of the help they need between
now and until such time as they are able to
choose land in the Opelousas region."
Foucault made another entry
in his records about two months later, of the arrival of 200 more Acadians.
Arsenault believed the Broussard party was among these
groups of refugees, since Joseph's name
appeared on a contract dated April 4, 1765:
"A retired army captain, Antoine
Bernard d'Hauterive, agreed to supply them with cattle for breeding
purposes," Arsenault wrote." The signatures included
those of Pierre Arcenaud, Joseph
Broussard,Jean-Baptiste Broussard, Victor Broussard,
Jean Dugas, Joseph Guillebeau and Olivier
Finally--some 160 years after
Pierre du Gast De Monts first set eyes on the Bay of Fundy - it seemed
Acadians had found a home.