Monday, October 4, 2010

Handing over the Keys - 1710

There must have been a feeling of despair in the French community of Port Royal on October 5, 1710. A lackluster growing season meant that there was a poor harvest and the prospect of a harsh winter ahead. Worst of all, on the 24th of September British and New England troops had arrived to once again lay siege to the fort. When the sentry post opposite Goat Island spotted the approaching ships a beacon was lit and a drummer summoned the French garrison and militia. What a long night it must have been for both sides as they prepared for the upcoming conflict.

The next morning the British forces landed along the Allian River and began to establish siege batteries in the upper town. Soon muskets roared and cannonballs were flying from the fort. At night the British bomb ship Falmouth descended on the fort to blast away with shells and incendiary devices. By September 29th the resolve of the French commander Daniel d'Auger de Subercause was beginning to weaken. He sent a letter to his English counterpart, Francis Nicholson, requesting that women be allowed to leave the fort. When, on October 1 the British batteries began to fire on the fort, Subercause offered to discuss terms for a surrender. After a further exchange of cannon fire, Nicholson sent a formal summons demanding surrender. The next day terms of the surrender were agreed upon which allowed the French to "march out with their arms and baggage, drums beating and colours flying".

On October 5th the French marched out of the fort. Nicholson and Subercause met on the bridge at the edge of the fort for the official handover of keys. For interest's sake, this key is on display in the museum at Fort Anne. According to Nicholson, Subercause spoke these words "Sir, I'm very sorry for the misfortune of the King my master in Losing such a Brave Fort, and the Territories adjoyining; but count myself happy in falling into the hands of so noble and generous a General, and now deliver up the keys of the Fort, and the magazines into your hands, hoping to give you a visit next Spring."

Shortly after the siege, Port Royal was renamed Annapolis Royal in honour of Queen Anne, the reigning British Monarch. Acadie officially took the name of Nova Scotia which the British had given it in 1621. By the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the terms of the surrender were upheld and the British regime in Nova Scotia commenced.

October 5, 2010 also promises to be a busy day of commemorations in Annapolis Royal. From vignettes to a monument unveiling and a visit to the 1708 deGannes Cosby House, this promises to be an eventful day. Thankfully, there will be far fewer cannon balls flying through the air.

All for now,
RGS

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