Our Acadian Heritage

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Deportation Scattered Acadians Throughout American  Colonies

There were about 18,000 Acadians living in North America in 1755, the year of the Acadian exile. Many of them fled from Acadia before the deportation, going to Prince Edward Island and parts of New Brunswick that were still held by France, or moving to the Quebec or Montreal areas.

Some others were able to flee into the woods and hide, escaping immediate deportation. For example, a group led by Joseph (Beausoleil) Broussard, who would eventually go to Louisiana, hid in the woods for nearly two years before starvation finally forced them to surrender.

The first deportations were carried out by 2,000 troops from New England, aided by 250 British regulars. About 7,000 Acadians were actually sent from their homeland aboard 24 crowded ships and scattered along the Atlantic Seaboard and elsewhere. Some 2,000 Acadians were sent to Massachusetts, 700 to Connecticut, more that 300 to New York, 500 to Pennsylvania, nearly 1,000 to Maryland, 400 or more to Georgia and about 1,000 to Carolina.

Twelve hundred Acadians reached Virginia in the fall of 1755, but were not allowed off the ships because authorities at Jamestown feared a smallpox epidemic. These ships were sent to England. Many of the Acadians died aboard ship because of squalid conditions and overcrowding.

The deportation order remained in effect until 1764, although it became more difficult to find place for the exiles after the first shiploads were sent to American colonies on the Atlantic Coast. Most of the colonies did not know that the exiles were coming and were unprepared to receive them.

From 1756 to 1763, Acadians who had hidden in the woods when the first deportations began, were either rounded up by British troops or went to the British settlements voluntarily when winter weather and starvation made in impossible to continue to hide. Most of them were held at Fort Edwards (Pisiquid), Fort Cumberland, and the forts at Annapolis Royal and Halifax. A final attempt at deporting some of the Acadians in 1762 failed when authorities in Massachusetts refused to accept them.