EARLY MILITARY FORTS IN CORNWALLIS, HORTON (July 29/13)

“Beside this fort ran a large river of the same name, Pisga (Piziquid) River, over which we passed in boats into the Menus (Minas) country,” wrote Capt. David Perry in an autobiography published in 1822.* “The people had laid out two towns, one called Horton and the other Cornwallis.  We were stationed at the latter ….  We had a very agreeable time of it, among our own country people, and built a picket fort there.”

Perry’s “picket fort,” built in 1760 after the Planters arrived here – or perhaps early in 1761- is one of the earliest records of a military fort in Kings County.   In his history of Kings County, Arthur W. H. Eaton refers to two forts the military erected here shortly before and just after the Acadian expulsion in 1755.   One, Fort Montague in Horton Township near Grand Pre, is mentioned briefly.  Eaton has more detail on what was called Fort Vieux Logis in Cornwallis Township, even though he notes that Fort Montague was the more important of the two.  Of course neither is the picket fort Perry mentions in his book, this being simply a hastily made post barrier that wasn’t meant to be permanent.

Vieux Logis (said to be an Acadian place name in Kings County) was originally a blockhouse at Annapolis Royal.  Eaton writes that in 1749, on orders from Governor Cornwallis, “the block-house now erected at Annapolis Royal (is) to be taken down and transported to Minas, there to be set up for the protection of the detachment you are ordered to send there.”

Late in 1760, Jonathan Belcher wrote to the English Board of Trade informing them that as soon as the townships of Horton and Cornwallis were laid out, “palisaded forts” were erected in each of them.  Eaton writes that the fort in Horton Township (Vieux Logis) likely was the renovated blockhouse carted up from Annapolis Royal.  However, says Eaton, it’s probable a new fort was constructed in Cornwallis Township and perhaps this was the aforementioned Fort Montague near Grand Pre.  This fort was still standing “as late as from 1840 to 1850,” Eaton notes.

Exactly where Fort Vieux Logis in Horton Township was located has never been determined.  Local folklore places it several places, one of them on a rise overlooking and above the south side of the Gaspereau River, approximately where the landmark Stirling tower stands today.  However, recent research places the fort more to the north on the opposite side of the river.

Apparently Fort Vieux Logis was named after the Acadian locale in which it stood – a bilingual friend tells me it translates as “old house.”  Eaton says the fort was established in Horton Township in 1749 and abandoned in 1753, the military outpost moving to Windsor.  In historical research I have on the fort (origin unknown) it’s suggested the fort was located on the Hortonville side of the Gaspereau River, near a landing used by the Acadians.

Perhaps one day when the exact site of the fort is located, a suitable monument will mark where it stood.

*The Life of Captain David Perry, a Soldier of the French and Revolutionary War.   Perry began his military career with the New England militia in 1758 when he was 16 and participated in several battles during the Seven Years’ War.

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