John Hamilton's letter to Governor Cornwallis of 05 January 1750 explaining how he came to be taken prisoner by the Indians. The original letter, written in French, was found 08 June 1972 by A. Yvon Handfield in the Public Record Office, Portugal Street, London, England. Ref: c.o. 217/33.
05 January 1749/50
To His Excellency Governor Cornwallis,
I have the honour of writing to you to inform Your Honourable Excellency of what happened to us at the Mines, if you will permit me. I am pleased to give you details of the event.
Mr. Handfield has told me that Your Excellency would appreciate having a map of the little fort at Grand Pré. I was working on it and was mapping the little River, and the higher land and prairie a short distance from the fort when we were taken prisoner.
I had asked permission from Mr. Handfield to go with a couple of men to measure the area and complete the map. He told me he had already ordered an officer and detachment to check the town of Grand Pré. I went with the detachment to Grand Pré, even though it was not my turn. Having taken two men without arms, a sergeant, 14 men, and Mr. Handfield's young son, I went with a compass and measuring cord. Because there was snow 16 to 18 inches deep in places, walking was difficult. When we arrived at the place I wished to measure, I had the sergeant line up his men. I took my compass and measuring cord and began my work. I heard a cry and loud noise on the higher land which was very near us and the river. It was about 200 to 300 yards from the Fort. At the same time at least 150 Indians began shooting at us and killed two men. We were immediately surrounded and taken prisoner.
Later, on the same day, six women and one soldier were taken at another place, and the Indians refused to let us go. However, I was fortunate to find Monsignor de Loutre, who was able to talk to the Indians. (An Indian woman, who had lived at the home of Captain Gorham in Boston with his daughter, said the Indians would sell us for money. Mr. Gorham is also in Boston now. I beg him write again to these two girls and to send a letter of credit for ransom.
The soldiers are well but have very few clothes
and need all types of garments.
I have the honour with very profound respect, Sir, Your Excellency, Your very humble and very obedient servant,
Extracts from the answer of Governor Edward
Cornwallis to Lieutenant John Hamilton's letter of 05 January 1750:
I received your Letter of the 5th Inst. from what
Place is a secret . . . .
I was astonished to see a Letter in French from an English Officer to me you say that the Priest lent you money to ransom you and Mr. Hanfeild [sic] from the Indians if you are ransomed why don't you come away. You mention the Sum paid for Mr. Hanfeild [sic] Ransom then why don't he return home.
I am your humble Servant
Return to history