Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
December 22, 1892
GLIMPSES OF THE PAST
Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.
XLVII THE PASSAMAQUODDY INDIANS AND THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR-Continued.
[Rev. W. O. Raymond, M. A.]
Allan had tried to dissuade Eddy from making the attack on Cumberland, because of insufficiency of force; but the ill success attending the expedition did not deter Allan himself from undertaking a similar one to the St. John in the following summer.
His journal shows that he left Machias with a party in four whale boats and four birch canoes, on May 30, 1777. The party, including Indians, numbered forty-three men. The following day they reached the wigwam of the Passamaquoddy chief, and on landing were received with a salute; a party of some thirty Indians firing several rounds in their fashion. The next morning, reinforced by thirteen canoes, they proceeded eastward along the coast to Musquash Cove, where they rested till ten oclock at night, and then pressed on, arriving at Mechogonish (Duck Cove) at daylight. Having ascertained that there were no ships or garrison at the mouth of the St. John, Allan dispatched a party of sixteen men under Captain West, who marched three miles through the woods, crossed the river above the falls in bark canoes, and made their way to Portland Point, where they surprised and captured James Simonds and William Hazen. These gentlemen were subsequently released, and it is said that Mr. Hazen crossed the bay to Annapolis in a canoe, accompanied by two Indians, to procure assistance.
Allan, in his diary, gives an account of his trip up the St. John, which is of much local interest. He claims that the majority of the settlers were friendly to the American cause; but that some were great Zealots for Britain. Amongst the latter, one Lewis Mitchell was particularly obnoxious, as being well acquainted with the country, and of an insinuating turn, particularly among the French and Indians.
Preble and Allan, accompanied by three Indians, succeeded in capturing Mitchell; but he made his escape about three weeks afterwards, and assisted Hazen and Simonds in bringing a hornets nest about the ears of his captors.
On the 5th of June, the party led by Allan arrived at the Indian village of Aukpaque,1 and were received by a party of thirty to forty Indians arrayed in war costume, with painted shirts, etc. They were drawn up in single rank and fired a feu de joie, to which the visitors responded, and afterwards, to properly impress the savages, landed their two cannon and discharged them. Col. Allan and his party remained about a month on the St. John. Their intention of establishing a permanent post was rudely disturbed by the arrival of several British war vessels at the mouth of the river.
During his sojourn upon the river Col. Allan exerted himself to secure the attachment of the Indians. His first endeavour was the counteract the favourable impression created a few weeks previously by Col. Arthur Goold, the Nova Scotia agent. To this end he held frequent conferences at Aukpaque with the leading men of the tribe, the proceedings at which were of quite an imposing character. The Chiefs, writes Allan, made a grand appearance, particularly Ambroise St. Aubin, who was dressed in a blue Persian silk coat, embroidered crimson silk waist coat four inches deep and scarlet knee breeches, also gold laced hat with white cockade. An agreement regarding trade and commerce was arranged with the Indians and the various chiefs received each a copy. Allans diary records that he gave a copy on Tuesday, June 24, to Jean Baptiste Neptune, Chief of Passamaquoddy. At the risk of being prolix we may give in Allans own words an abridged account of the conference with the Indians at Aukpaque:
We soon had a general meeting composed of deputies from different parts, including the whole tribes of St. Johns and Passamaquoddy. It was agreed that Peace and Friendship be now established permanent and lasting between the United States and the Several Tribes, that such of them as were in the vicinity of the States should immediately withdraw and assist in the defence of that country. That those employed should be supported during their service and the widows and children of such as died be taken care of. That they should be for ever viewed as brothers. They should enjoy the free exercise of religion agreeable to their profession, a clergyman of that denomination be furnished them and a suitable residence provided for him on which a place of worship was to be erected. They were to have an exclusive right to the Beaver hunt necessary steps were to be taken to prevent a destruction of game and other enormities committed by the white hunters. In times of difficulty or distress those living within the territory of the United States should be furnished with ammunition for fowling. Trade was to be so regulated as to prevent imposition, and an agent should constantly reside as near them as possible, &c., &c.
The diary kept by Allan during the month he remained at Aukpaque is extremely interesting,2 but it is apparent to one who reads between the lines that whilst using every effort a zealous partizan could employ, he felt that he was engaged in a game at which two could play. He complains that the impression Col. Goold had made on the Indians seemed to occasion an unsteady conduct; so much so that, notwithstanding their fair speeches, he at times thought that they would desert him after all.
Whilst engaged in his negotiations Allan had posted nearly all his men, some sixty in number, at the mouth of the St. John, under comand [sic] of Captains Dyer and West.
On Monday, June 23rd, the British sloop-of-war Vulture arrived, and a few days later she was joined by the frigates Milford and Ambuscade, with a strong detachment of the Royal Fencibles and Nova Scotia militia on board. On the morning of June 30th, about one hundred and twenty men left the ships in barges, under command of Brigade Major Studholm and Colonel Fracklin [sic]. They landed at one Peabodys at Mahogany bay, marched thence across two and a half miles, in the direction of the falls, and had a brief skirmish with Allans men in the vicinity of the present village of Fairville. The engagement was of short duration. The Americans were speedily put to flight, and retired with such precipitation that by one oclock the same day they had reached a point twenty-five miles up the river. After a very trying experience, Dyer and West succeeded in making their escape to Machias by way of the Oromocto and Magaguadavic rivers.
The approach of the British filled the Indians at Aukpaque with serious alarm; and this, Allan, in all probability, did not strive to allay; his greatest fear being that Pierre Toma, always considered a Tory, might induce his brethren to make terms with the new comers, as indeed he evidently desired. Col. Allans untiring efforts to gain the friendship and support of the Indians, during the four weeks he had been at Aukpaque, had not, however, been fruitless; and he was now able, by a judicious representation of the advantages promised by the American congress on the one hand, and the prospect of British vengeance on the other, consequent upon their disregard of the engagements entered into with Col. Gould [sic], to persuade the savages to abandon the river for the time being. The exodus was a remarkable one, even for so migratory a people as the Maliseets. Allan frequently refers to it in his later correspondence. The starting point was at old Fort Meductic (about eight miles below the town of Woodstock, on the west bank of the St. John); whence, on Sunday, July 13, 1777, a party of between four and five hundred men, women, and children, embarked in one hundred and twenty-eight canoes for Machias. The step taken by the Indians involved some sacrifice. They left, says Allan, their little plantations well improved, and a good prospect, with a great part of their cloathing, & after 28 days Journey arrived at Machias, suffering many hardships & difficulties by the excessive heats, and the Lowness of the Streams, which greatly obstructed the Canoes. At each of the many carrying places along the route, a lively scene presented itself; Some backing their aged parents, others their maimed and decrepid brethren, the old women leading the young children, mothers carrying their infants, together with great loads of baggage. As to the Canoes, the men made it a play to carrey them across. In order more closely to indentify [sic] himself with the natives, Col. Allan on this journey assumed the Indian dress, determined, he says, to wear it at Machias.
Allans intention had been to leave the Indians at the Schoodic lakes, where they would find plenty of moose and fish for their subsistence, as well as birch bark for canoes, with which, it appears, they were not at this time very well provided; but, on hearing of the presence of the British at Passamaquoddy, he decided to take with him such of the Indians as were capable of fighting and push on to Machias. The party arrived at a very opportune moment for the Americans, and afforded material assistance in the defence of that post during the attack made by Sir George Collier on the 13th and 14th of August. The British retired without doing material injury to the place, and the services of the Indians on the occasion earned for them the thanks of the council of Massachusetts.
1It is a curious circumstance that Aukpaque, where Col. John Allan, the rebel, fixed his head quarters during the summer of 1777, became at the close of the war the property of Col. Isaac Allen, the Loyalist. The village of Aukpaque, was on the right bank of the St. John river, at Spring Hill. There was also a village and council house on Isle Sauvage, a well known island in the river, about six miles above Fredericton. The island contains about 500 acres. Col. Allen, in 1784, purchased from Francis Xavier and three other Indian chiefs their interest in the island.
2Allans diary under date June 19, 1777,
contains quite an elaborate description of the funeral of an
Indian girl which is interesting as showing the custom of the
Maliseet Indians at this period. She was no sooner
dead but they made the coffin and buried her immediately; the
funeral rite, tho short, very solemn. The corpse was
carried to the chapel the bell tolling all the time. After
a short prayer they sang funeral Hymns, that done some of the
Chiefs bore the coffin to the grave, then another prayer, then a
funeral hymn, which concluded, the coffin was deposited in the
grave and covered. The relatives and friends of her sex
seemed to perform the last rite by taking a handful of earth and
throwing it in the grave. Immediately the wigwam is struck
and removed into the thickest part of the village, that the
parents may not feel so lonesome by remaining at the spot where
they lost their dear child. I attended when she died and it
was very affecting to see the parents embrace and take their
final leave of the expiring daughter.