Siege of Port Royal (1710)

Coordinates: 44°44′30″N 65°30′55″W / 44.74167°N 65.51528°W / 44.74167; -65.51528 (Conquest of Acadia)
This is a good article. Click here for more information.
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Siege of Port Royal
Part of Queen Anne's War

Portrait believed to be of Francis Nicholson, by Michael Dahl, c. 1710
Date5–13 October 1710
Result British victory[1]

 Great Britain


Commanders and leaders
Francis Nicholson
Samuel Vetch
Daniel d'Auger de Subercase
Simon-Pierre Denys de Bonaventure
about 2,000 regular and provincial soldiers[2][3] fewer than 300[2]
Casualties and losses
unknown unknown

The siege of Port Royal (5–13 October 1710),

Annapolis Royal

The siege was the third British attempt during

Mi'kmaq[n 3] who continued to occupy Acadia.[7]

The Conquest of Acadia was a foundational moment in the history of the Canadian state—it was a precursor to the British conquests of Louisbourg and Quebec in the middle of the century.[8]


Treaty of Ryswick.[10]

Early expeditions

With the outbreak of the

raided Grand Pré and other Acadian communities.[12] English and French accounts differ on whether Church's expedition mounted an attack on Port Royal. Church's account indicates that they anchored in the harbour and considered making an attack, but ultimately decided against the idea; French accounts claim that a minor attack was made.[13]


Grand Banks was reduced by 80 percent between 1702 and 1707, and some English coastal communities were raided.[14]

English merchants in Boston had long traded with Port Royal, and some of this activity had continued illegally after the war began.[15] However, the business was being hurt by the war, and some merchants began making vocal calls for action, and public outrage rose over the failure of the Massachusetts defenses to stop the French and aboriginal raids.[16][17] Massachusetts Bay Governor Joseph Dudley had made repeated requests to London for support without any success, and finally decided to act independently to fend off accusations of complicity in the illegal trade.[15][18] In spring of 1707, he authorized an expedition against Port Royal.[17] This expedition made two separate attempts to take Port Royal; for a variety of reasons, both attempts failed despite the expedition's significant numerical superiority.[19]

British expedition organized

Annotated detail from a 1713 map showing eastern New England and southern Nova Scotia/Acadia. Port Royal is at A, Boston at B, and Casco Bay at C.

In the following years, France failed to send any significant support, while the British mobilized larger and better-organized forces for the conflict in North America. Samuel Vetch, a Scots businessman with colonial ties, went to London in 1708 and lobbied Queen Anne for military support to conquer all of New France.[20] She authorized a "great enterprise" to conquer all of Acadia and Canada in 1709 that was aborted when the promised military support failed to materialize.[21][22] Vetch and Francis Nicholson, an Englishman who had previously served as colonial governor of Maryland and Virginia, returned to England in its aftermath, and again appealed to the queen for support. They were accompanied by four aboriginal chiefs, who caused a sensation in London.[23] Nicholson and Vetch successfully argued on behalf of colonial interests for British military support against Port Royal.[24]

Nicholson arrived in Boston on 15 July 1710, bearing a commission from the queen as "General and Commander-in-Chief of all and sundry the Forces, to be employed in the expedition design'd for the reducing of Port Royal in Nova Scotia".

bomb galleys, and five warships.[24] Two ships, HMS Falmouth and HMS Dragon, were sent from England, while HMS Feversham and HMS Lowestoft were sent from New York to join with HMS Chester, which was already stationed at Boston.[26] Nicholson sent HMS Chester ahead of the fleet to blockade the Digby Gut, which controlled naval access to Port Royal.[25]

Port Royal defences

Military engineer's drawing of Port Royal, 1702

Port Royal was defended by about 300 troops, many of whom were poorly trained recruits from France.[27] Subercase had taken steps to improve the local defences since the 1707 sieges, building a new bomb-proof powder magazine and barracks in 1708, and clearing woods from the river banks to deny attackers cover. He completed the construction of another vessel to assist in naval defence, and engaged privateers with great success against New England fishing and shipping. From prisoners taken by the privateers he learned that plans were continually being made in 1708 and 1709 for new attempts on Port Royal.[28]


Daniel d'Auger de Subercase, governor of Acadia 1706–1710

As the fleet sailed north, it was met by a dispatch vessel sent by Thomas Matthews, captain of the Chester. She carried deserters from the French garrison, who reported that morale was extremely low.

Mi'kmaq on the shore. The ships returned fire with their cannons, without either side taking casualties. On 5 October, the main British fleet arrived at Goat Island, about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) below Port Royal.[29] That afternoon, the transport Caesar ran aground while attempting to enter the Annapolis River, and was eventually swept onto the rocks. Its captain, some of its crew, and 23 soldiers died, while a company commander and some 25 others struggled ashore.[29]

The following day, 6 October, British marines began landing both north and south of the fortress and the town. The northern force was joined by four New England regiments under Colonel Vetch, while Nicholson led the remaining New England troops as part of the southern force. The landings took place without incident, with fire from the fort answered by one of the fleet's

guerrilla-style resistance outside the fort, with Acadian and aboriginal defenders firing small arms from houses and wooded areas, in addition to taking fire from the fort.[32] This fire resulted in three British killed, but the defenders were unable to keep the British on the south side from establishing a camp about 400 yards (370 m) from the fort.[30]

Province Galley (ship), Commander Cyprian Southack

Over the next four days the British landed their cannons and brought them up to the camp. Fire from the fort and supporters outside it persisted, and the British bomb ships wrought havoc within the fort with their fire each night.[33] With the opening of new British batteries imminent, Subercase sent out an officer with a parley flag on 10 October. The negotiations got off to a bad start because the officer was not properly announced by a drummer, and deteriorated from there. Each side ended up holding an officer of the other, principally over matters of military etiquette, and the British continued their siege work.[34]

By 12 October, the siege trenches had advanced, and cannons that were within 300 feet (91 m) of the fort opened fire. Nicholson sent Subercase a demand that he surrender, and negotiations began once more. By the end of the day, the parties reached an agreement on the terms of surrender, which was formally signed the next day.

British Crown.[33]


Evacuation of Port Royal, 1710 by CW Jefferys

The British took formal possession of Port Royal following a ceremony on 16 October, in which they renamed the place Annapolis Royal in honour of their queen. Samuel Vetch was inaugurated as the new governor of Nova Scotia.[36] Massachusetts and New Hampshire proclaimed a day of public thanksgiving.[37]

Samuel Vetch became the first governor of Nova Scotia.

The first French attempt to retake Annapolis Royal happened the next year. After a skirmish in which a party of British soldiers was ambushed, Bernard-Anselme d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin lead a force of 200 Acadians and native warriors in a siege of the fort, without success.[38]

The capture of Port Royal marked the end of French rule in peninsular Acadia, and inaugurated a struggle for control of the territory that lasted until the British conquests of the

Treaty of Utrecht, and very nearly led to renewed war.[39] French negotiators were unable to recover Acadia, although they were able to retain Isle Saint-Jean (present-day Prince Edward Island) and Île Royale, (present day Cape Breton Island), which provided access to the important Atlantic fisheries.[40]

Acadia's people were placed in a difficult position by the conquest. The British on numerous occasions demanded they take oaths to the British Crown, but many refused to take oaths requiring them to take arms against the French, preferring to proclaim their neutrality.[41] For this and other reasons, hundreds of Acadians left peninsular Nova Scotia over the next decade. Most of them avoided the principal French colonial settlements and went to French-occupied Isle Saint-Jean.[42]

Acadia's border was not formally demarcated by the Treaty of Utrecht, which became a cause of ongoing friction between the British and French, especially on the Isthmus of Chignecto, which both sides eventually fortified. The French interpreted the phrase ancient boundaries to imply only the peninsula of present-day Nova Scotia, thereby excluding the mainland between New England and the St. Lawrence, ÎLe St. Jean, and Cape Breton. This helped the aboriginal groups of Abenaquis, Malecites, and Mi'kmaq to retain their sovereignty over their old hunting grounds.[43]

In 1746, the

Duc d'Anville
. The expedition was composed of 20 warships, 21 frigates, and 32 transport ships, containing 800 cannons, 3,000 soldiers, and 10,000 marines. The expedition was to retake
Annapolis Royal.[44]
However, after a three months crossing, and the dispersal of the fleet between Sable Island and the mainland, the expedition turned out to be a disaster for the French, and they would not try to recapture Port Royal again.

The territorial dispute would not be fully resolved until the British conquest of New France in 1760,[1] and the informal boundary between the British and French in the dispute (the Missaguash River)[45] now forms the border between the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.[46]

Order of battle

British forces

Land forces
  • Colonel
    Adjutant General
  • Captain Walter Elliot,
    Brigade Major
  • Battalion of Marines, [n 4] Colonel Robert Reading
  • Hobby's Regiment (Massachusetts Bay), Colonel Sir Charles Hobby.
  • Tailer's Regiment (Massachusetts Bay), Colonel William Tailer.
  • Whiting's Regiment (Connecticut), Colonel William Whiting.
  • Walton's Regiment (New Hampshire), Colonel Shadrach Walton.
  • Company of Gunner and Matrosses, Colonel Samuel Vetch, Captain.
  • Company of Indian Scouts (
    Iroquois Indians
    ), Major of Scouts John Livingston, Captain.


French forces


See also


  1. New Style
    ; many older English accounts use Old Style dates for this action: 24 September to 2 October
  2. ^ According to Grenier (2008), p. 12, prior to 1710, English forces had only raided, sacked, and temporarily occupied French colonial possessions. Other territories the English conquered came at the expense of other nations or aboriginals.
  3. Mi'kmaq people
  4. Churchill's
    regiments of marines.



  1. ^ a b c Peckham, p. 84
  2. ^ a b c Griffiths (2005), p. 234.
  3. ^ a b Drake, p. 259
  4. .
  5. .
  6. ^ Grenier (2008), p. 15.
  7. ^ Prins, pp. 1–2; Reid et al, p. x
  8. ^ McKay, Ian and Bates, Robin. In the Province of History: The Making of the Public Past in Twentieth-Century Nova Scotia. McGill-Queen's University Press. 2010. p. 78.
  9. ^ MacVicar, pp. 13–29
  10. ^ MacVicar, pp. 41–44
  11. ^ Baudry, René (1979) [1969]. "Monbeton de Brouillan, Jacques-François de". In Hayne, David (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. II (1701–1740) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  12. ^ Drake, pp. 193–202
  13. ^ Drake, p. 202
  14. ^ Faragher (2005), p. 113.
  15. ^ a b Peckham, p. 66
  16. ^ Drake, p. 225
  17. ^ a b Faragher (2005), p. 114.
  18. ^ Rawlyk, p. 100
  19. ^ Drake, pp. 225–236
  20. ^ MacVicar, p. 60
  21. ^ Griffiths (2005), p. 224.
  22. ^ Drake, pp. 250–254
  23. ^ Drake, pp. 254–256
  24. ^ a b c Griffiths (2005), p. 233.
  25. ^ a b c Reid et al, p. 7
  26. ^ Rawlyk, p. 117
  27. ^ MacVicar, p. 61
  28. ^ MacVicar, pp. 58–60
  29. ^ a b Reid et al, p. 8
  30. ^ a b c Reid, p. 9
  31. ^ MacVicar, p. 62
  32. ^ Dunn, p. 83
  33. ^ a b c Griffiths (2005), p. 235.
  34. ^ Reid, pp. 9–10
  35. ^ Reid et al, p. 10
  36. ^ Reid et al, pp. 11–12
  37. ^ Donald Chard. Canso, 1710–1721: Focal Point of New England-Cape Breton Rivalry. Nva Scotia Historical Society. 1975. p. 50.
  38. ^ MacVicar, p. 68
  39. ^ Reid, p. 26
  40. ^ Griffiths (2005), p. 253.
  41. ^ MacVicar, pp. 69–70
  42. ^ Plank, p. 65
  43. ^ W.J. Eccles, France in America, Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd. p. 107
  44. ^ ARSENAULT, Bona, Histoire des Acadiens, Bibliothèque nationale du Québec. 1978. Leméac p. 140
  45. ^ Fryer, p. 50
  46. ^ Ells, p. 8
  47. ^ Campbell & Kent 1785, vol. 5, p. 116.
  48. ^ Drake 1897, p. 259.
  49. ^ Dalton 1904, pp. 283-290.
  50. ^ Bouton 1864, p. 453.
  51. ^ Chartrand 1993, p. 162.
  52. ^ Baudry 1969, p. 38.

Cited literature

Further reading

44°44′30″N 65°30′55″W / 44.74167°N 65.51528°W / 44.74167; -65.51528 (Conquest of Acadia)