NOBLE MASSACRE PART OF ACADIAN HISTORY (July 9/04)

“Eileen Bishop of Greenwich contacted me recently to suggest I write something about the Noble massacre which took place at Grand Pre. A freelance writer and history buff, Bishop has researched the Noble massacre extensively and has had a couple of articles published about it. Bishop feels that the Noble incident is being overlooked and the event should be acknowledged during the upcoming Acadian celebrations.

“We’ll have busloads of people coming here (during the Acadian Congress) and they’ll be driving by the Noble monument without knowing it exists or why it’s there,” Bishop said. “It’s part of Grand Pre’s history and the story should be told.”

Another local history buff who has researched the Noble massacre agrees. “We’re all sorry about the deportation,” Gordon Hansford of Kentville says, “but the telling of history shouldn’t be lopsided. If we’re going to tell the Grand Pre story, we should tell the whole story and include the attack on Noble and his troops.”

Bishop and Hansford are referring to an incident about which took place at Grand Pre in the winter of 1747. Since the massacre is usually ignored when the Acadian story is told, you may not be familiar with it. Yet as Bishop and Hansford point out, it’s part of Acadian and Grand Pre history.

What occurred during the so-called Noble massacre and what are the details? Let’s turn to Arthur W. H. Eaton’s history of Kings County for his observations on the event. “In all the history of Minas,” Eaton writes, “no incident is as tragical as this night battle between the French and the English at the hamlet of Grand Pre.”

By “Minas” Eaton meant the Acadian settlement that stretched from Grand Pre south to the Gaspereau Valley and westerly up both sides of the Canard River and Cornwallis River. Other than the expulsion, this “night battle” was one of only a few violent events in the history of the Minas settlement. Eaton was referring to the sneak attack by the French and an “Indian force” on British troops from New England; the troops under the command of Lt. Colonel Arthur Noble were housed at Grand Pre in the winter of 1747 when they were ambushed.

I’ve read various accounts of the attack on Noble and his soldiers, and some called it a massacre, some a battle. Most accounts agree that it was a treacherous affair and that the French force was assisted by local Acadians. Giving no warning, the French attacked under the cover of darkness, firing upon Noble’s troops while they were in their beds. The attack took place during a snowstorm in the early morning hours of February 11.

Eaton writes that “the English loss was one hundred killed, fifteen wounded and fifty captured,” and the “French loss was seven killed and fifteen wounded.” The monument marking the incident, which was placed by the Federal Government, reads that Noble’s loss was about 70 killed, which is probably the correct figure. The monument confirms that the attack by a French and Indian force took place without warning under cover of a snowstorm.

If you’re interested in reading about the incident, you’ll find numerous accounts on the Internet. I went to Google and typed in Noble + Grand Pre and found a lengthy account that was prepared from original sources, French and British records of the affair.

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