The Company of Frenchmen
in the County of Cumberland, Province of Nova Scotia
Many people may qualify for membership in patriotic organizations such as the Daughters of the American Revolution or the Sons of the American Revolution without realizing that they so qualify. What is required is descent from one or more of the men who served in the various military units who contributed to the winning of American independence from Great Britain. The contribution of the particular unit must have been recognized, and the applicant for admission to the patriotic organization must be able to provide satisfactory proof of his or her descent from someone who served in such unit.
Many of the military groups who fought in the thirteen colonies themselves are quite famous, from the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord to Francis Marion’s brigade in South Carolina. But there are others who served outside the present territory of the United States whose service nonetheless entitles their descendants to eligibility. One such group is the company of "Frenchmen" raised by Captain Isaïe Boudrot in 1776 in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, for the brief campaign under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Eddy.
The existence of this company was brought to the general attention of the genealogical community as long ago as 1955, when Atty. Laurie Ebacher caused a list of its members to be published in the Mémoires de la Société généalogique canadienne-française (vol. VI, pp. 317-318). Mr. Ebacher mentioned that some descendants of the soldiers in the unit had by that time already been admitted to membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (ibid., p 317).
At the time of the bicentennial of American independence in 1976, Father Clarence d’Entremont described in some detail the activities of this company in his article "La participation acadienne à l’indépendance américaine," which was published in the Cahiers de la Société historique acadienne (vol. VII, No. 1, Mar. 1976, pp. 5-13). A plan for the conquest of Nova Scotia had been developed by one John Allan, a resident of Cumberland County (ibid., p. 7). Allan recruited the support of Jonathan Eddy, and early in the summer of 1776 Eddy went to Boston to submit Allan’s plan to the Massachusetts General Court. The latter approved it and appointed Eddy a lieutenant colonel, authorizing him to secure eight schooners and sloops for transportation and to raise a force of 3000 men. Unfortunately, Eddy only managed to recruit about 200 volunteers, at Machias and Passamaquoddy in what is now Maine and at Maugerville in what is now New Brunswick. Twenty Indians also joined the force (ibid., p. 8). Eddy then shipped his soldiers from the Saint John River to Chipoudy, on the Cumberland Basin, where they seized a detachment of troops from Fort Cumberland. Encouraged by this success, they immediately launched an unsuccessful attack on the fort itself during the night of Nov. 14, 1776. Eddy then retreated to Memramcook, where the "Company of Frenchmen" was promptly raised. With this reinforcement, Eddy proceeded once more towards Fort Cumberland. Meanwhile, the commandant at the fort had sent to Halifax for his own reinforcements. These arrived on Nov. 28th, catching Eddy and his men by surprise and taking a number of them prisoners. The rest of Eddy’s troops fled, and that was the end of Allan and Eddy’s campaign to conquer Nova Scotia (ibid., p. 9).
The pay roll record published by Mr. Ebacher shows that the "Frenchmen" in Capt. Isaïe Boudrot’s company were enlisted on Nov. 14, 1776. Seven of the men were discharged after fifteen days, on either Nov. 29th or 30th, but the remaining fifteen remained in service until Feb. 14, 1777. The pay roll was sworn to by Capt. Boudrot on Feb. 12, 1778, at Machias, Maine, and payment was ordered on Apr. 29th of the same year (Ebacher, op. cit., p. 318).
While both Mr. Ebacher and Father d’Entremont gave certain indications about who some of the men in this company were, neither provided identifications of all of them. Mr. Ebacher noted, for example, that Corporal Michel Bourg was one of his own ancestors (ibid., p. 317). Father d’Entremont, on the other hand, stated that he believed that Isaïe Boudrot was the son of Pierre Boudrot and Madeleine Melanson (op. cit., p. 9). He also identified Louis-Frédéric Delesdernier as the son of Moïse Delesdernier, a Calvinist who had been brought to Nova Scotia by the British in 1751 (ibid., p. 10). Neither identified any of the others.
The information I have gathered for the eventual publication of the second part of the Dictionnaire généalogique des familles acadiennes, which covers all the Acadian families that came into existence between 1715 and 1780, plus what has already been made available through the release of my compilation "La généalogie des trente-sept familles hôtesses des ‘Retrouvailles 94’" (Cahiers de la Société historique acadienne, vol. XXV, nos. 2 & 3, Apr.-Sept. 1994, pp. 53-238, also available in corrected form at http://www.umoncton.ca/etudeacadiennes/centre/white/sha.html), make it relatively easy to identify the nineteen Acadians in the company. In what follows I indicate who these nineteen men were. The references at the end of each entry are to "La généalogie des trente-sept familles hôtesses." Anyone who wishes to trace the ancestries of these individuals beyond the generation of their respective parents will find further information in the printed article or on the web-site.
The company’s full strength was twenty-two men. Besides the nineteen Acadians, there were three others. Father d’Entremont identified Louis-Frédéric Delesdernier. The other two men were named David Farrell and J.B. Troop. These two men remain unidentified.
1. Isaïe Boudrot, the captain, served from Nov. 14, 1776, to Feb. 14, 1777, at £ 12 per month. He was a son of Pierre (dit Grand Pierre) Boudrot and Madeleine Melanson, as Father d’Entremont suggested (op. cit., p. 9). Isaïe was born at Port-Royal, July 2, 1745. No record of any marriage or offspring has been found. Indeed, none of Isaïe’s activities after the American Revolution have been traced. See Boudreau-1 v.
2. Pierre Caissie, first lieutenant, served from Nov. 14th to Nov. 30, 1776, at £ 8 2 s. per month. He was a son of Joseph (dit Grand Jos) Caissie and Marie-Josèphe Lapierre and had been born at Beaubassin, Aug. 4, 1741. About 1777 he married Rosalie Léger, daughter of Pierre-Jacques Léger and Marie-Madeleine Haché. They settled at Richibouctou, N.B., where Pierre died Jan. 24, 1813. See Caissie -1 iv, and for his eight children, Caissie-3.
3. Jean-Baptiste Maillet, sergeant, served for three months at £ 2 8 s. per month. Born at Petitcoudiac, July 11, 1753, he was a son of Charles Maillet and Marie Babineau. About 1779 he married Marguerite Richard, daughter of Joseph Richard dit Plate and Marie-Rose Gaudet, with whom he settled at Richibouctou. He died at the latter place Mar. 29, 1837. See Maillet-3 i, and for his ten children, Maillet-4.
4. Pierre LeBlanc, sergeant, served for only fifteen days, at £ 2 8 s. per month. Commonly known as Pierre à Charles, he was born at Pisiguit about 1751 to Charles LeBlanc and Marie Barrieau. He married Marie Saulnier, daughter of Charles Saulnier and Marie-Josèphe Savoie, about 1779, and settled at Memramcook, N.B. The date of Pierre à Charles’s death is unknown. See LeBlanc-1 i, and for his twelve children, LeBlanc-2.
5. Michel Bourg, corporal, served for fifteen days, at £ 2 4 s. per month. Born about 1750 at Beaubassin, he was a son of Michel (dit Michaud) Bourg and Marguerite-Josèphe Bourgeois. The Franklin Manor register shows that he married Ursule Forest, daughter of Charles Forest and Marie Chiasson, June 15, 1777, at Menoudie, N.S. He died sometime after March 1836, but his burial record has not been found. See Bourque-2 v, and for his eleven children, Bourque-3.
6. Benjamin Allain, corporal, served from Nov. 14th to Nov. 30, 1776, at £ 2 4 s. per month. His parents were Louis Allain and Anne Léger, and Benjamin was born about 1757, so he was about nineteen years old when he was recruited into this company. About 1778 he married Élisabeth LeBlanc, daughter of Charles LeBlanc and Marie Barrieau, and he thus became a brother-in-law of the Pierre LeBlanc (No. 4, above) who had served with him during those memorable fifteen days. He settled at Bouctouche, N.B., where he died Nov. 15, 1839. See Allain-1 iv, and for his four children, Allain-3.
7. Mathurin Gaudet, private, served for three months, at £ 2 per month. He was the second son of Pierre (dit Pierrotte à Pitre) Gaudet and Marie-Madeleine Aucoin and was born about 1755. According to his great-grandnephew Placide Gaudet (Fonds généalogique, famille Gaudet, CEA 1.98-30), he was never married, but died at Memramcook at an advanced age, perhaps in the late 1830’s or early 1840’s, when there are gaps in the Memramcook parish registers. See Gaudet-1 iv.
8. Joseph Léger, private, served for three months, at £ 2 per month. He was born Apr. 22, 1753, at Petitcoudiac, and was the only surviving son of Pierre-Jacques Léger and his first wife, Agathe Breau. His half-sister Rosalie became the wife of the company’s first lieutenant, Pierre Caissie (No. 2, above). Joseph Léger married about 1778 Anne Gaudet, daughter of Jean-Baptiste Gaudet dit Varouël and Anne Bastarache, with whom he settled at Memramcook. The date of Joseph’s death is unknown. See Léger-8 i, and for his nine children, Léger-9.
9. Charles dit Charlitte Maillet, private, served three months, at £ 2 per month. He was born about 1757 and was the younger brother of the Jean-Baptiste Maillet who served as one of the company’s sergeants (No. 3, above). About 1782 Charlitte married Marguerite Boudrot, daughter of Olivier Boudrot and Ludivine Landry, with whom he settled at Memramcook. He died in that parish Dec. 12, 1829. See Maillet-3 iii, and for his ten children, Maillet-5.
10. Jean DesRoches, private, served for three months, at £ 2 per month. He was a son of Julien DesRoches and Marie Arseneau and was born at Malpèque, on St. John’s Island (now Prince Edward Island), about 1754. About 1778 he married Anne-Esther Bastarache, daughter of Pierre Bastarache and Anne Gaudet. They settled at Bouctouche, where Jean died Apr. 15, 1844. The DesRoches family in and around Bouctouche descends from Jean and his ten children.
11. Jean dit Jean Pierrotte Gaudet, private, served for three months, at £ 2 per month. He was the third son of Pierre (dit Pierrotte à Pitre) Gaudet and Marie-Madeleine Aucoin and consequently the younger brother of Mathurin Gaudet (No. 7, above). About 1780 Jean married Marie-Madeleine LeBlanc, daughter of Joseph dit Coudjeau LeBlanc and Agnès Belliveau, with whom he settled at Memramcook. He died at Memramcook Dec. 10, 1845, and was most likely the last survivor of this company. See Gaudet-1 v, and for his nine children, Gaudet-2.
12. Joseph Bastarache, private, served for three months, at £ 2 per month. He was a son of Pierre Bastarache and Anne Gaudet and consequently a brother of the Anne-Esther Bastarache who later married his former comrade in arms Jean DesRoches (No. 10, above). The dates of Joseph’s birth and death are both unknown, but he was probably around twenty-two or twenty-three years old at the time of his service in this company. He married about 1778 Marie-Madeleine Girouard, daughter of Joseph (dit Bistet) Girouard and Jeanne Belliveau. He and his younger brother, Isidore Bastarache, are generally acknowledged as the founders of Bouctouche, along with the brothers Charles and François LeBlanc. See Bastarache-2 iii, and for his twelve children, Bastarache-4.
13. Mathurin DesRoches, private, served for three months, at £ 2 per month. He was a younger brother of Jean DesRoches (No. 10, above), but the dates of his birth and death are unknown, although he was probably about twenty years old in 1776. About 1780 he married Marguerite Picard, daughter of Mathurin Picard and Angélique Bonin and widow of Jacques-Ange Haché dit Gallant. He settled at Rustico, on St. John’s Island (from 1799 onward, Prince Edward Island). Mathurin and Marguerite had four sons.
14. Michel Gauvin, private, served for only fifteen days, at £ 2 per month. Strictly speaking he was not an Acadian, but had come to live in what is now southeastern New Brunswick after his widowed mother, Marguerite Castonguay, had was remarried to an Acadian named Jacques Dubois. Michel’s father was Jacques-Roch Gauvin. Michel was born at St-Roch-des-Aulnaies, on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River, Mar. 14, 1759, so he was only seventeen at the time of his brief military experience. About 1787 he married Euphémie-Anastasie Breau, daughter of Joseph Breau and Marie-Blanche Boudrot and young widow of the much older Olivier Boudrot, whose daughter Marguerite had married Charlitte Maillet (No. 9, above). They had nine children. Michel Gauvin lost his life in a blizzard on Feb. 22, 1816. His grave at Memramcook was blessed on the following May 13th. He and his brother Louis-Jérôme are the ancestors of the Gauvins in southeastern New Brunswick.
15. Louis dit Louison Doiron dit Gould, private, served for only fifteen days, at £ 2 per month. At around thirty-seven years of age Louis was the oldest recruit in the company. He was a son of Pierre Doiron dit Gould and Anne Forest and had been born at Menoudie. The Franklin Manor register shows that he married Marie Bonnevie dit Beaumont, daughter of Jacques Bonnevie dit Beaumont and his third wife Anne Melanson, July 9, 1777, probably at Menoudie. After many years living at Memramcook, Louison moved to Tracadie, N.B., where he died Apr. 19, 1809. See Doiron-1 ii, and for his eleven children, Doiron-3.
16. Joseph Boudrot, private, served for three months, at £ 2 per month. He was a son of Pierre (dit Grand Pierre) Boudrot and his second wife Madeleine Belliveau, and consequently a half-brother of the company’s captain, Isaïe Boudrot (No. 1, above). Joseph was born about 1756. About 1782 he married Rosalie Gaudet, daughter of Jean-Baptiste Gaudet and Jeanne Gaudet. He eventually settled at Barachois, N.B., where he died Nov. 7, 1825. See Boudreau-1 viii, and for his eight children, Boudreau-3.
17. Paul LeBlanc, private, served for three months, at £ 2 per month. Aged only about sixteen years, Paul was the youngest of the Acadian recruits. He was the elder of the sons of Joseph (dit Jos-André) LeBlanc’s second marriage, to Marie Doiron dite Bidâque, who was a sister of Louison Doiron (No. 15, above). About 1781 Paul married Marie Babin, daughter of Pierre Babin and Madeleine Bourg. He settled later on at Tédiche, N.B., where he died, Aug. 28, 1825. See LeBlanc-12 iv, and for his six children, LeBlanc-22.
18. Joseph-Isaac Thibodeau, private, served for three months, at £ 2 per month. His parents, Germain Thibodeau and Madeleine-Blanche Préjean, were among the Acadians who were deported in 1755 and were still in exile in Massachusetts when Isaac was born in Nov. 1759. The Thibodeaus returned to Acadia after the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Madeleine-Blanche Préjean died not long afterwards, and Germain Thibodeau married secondly about 1767 Marie Babineau, widow of Charles Maillet, and his son Isaac thereby became a stepbrother of the future Sergeant Jean-Baptiste Maillet (No. 3, above) and Private Charlitte Maillet (No. 9, above). Isaac married about 1782 Marie-Thècle Melanson, daughter of Charles (dit Charlot) Melanson and Anne Breau. The register of Memramcook shows that Isaac died June 12, 1808. See Thibodeau-1 ii, and for his ten children, Thibodeau-2.
19. Joseph Gaudet, private, served for three months, at £ 2 per month. Born about 1756, he was a son of Jean-Baptiste (dit Varouël) Gaudet and Anne Bastarache. His sister Anne Gaudet subsequently married Joseph Léger (No. 8, above). According to his great-grandnephew Placide Gaudet (Généalogies acadiennes, unpublished typescript, p. 1949), Joseph drowned when he was twenty years old, apparently shortly after the end of his term of military service. See Gaudet-8 ii.
As has been shown, all nineteen Acadians who served in this company were unmarried at the time of their recruitment. Sixteen of them are known to have eventually married, at least three within a few months of their discharge from service and the rest by no later than about 1787, and these sixteen men fathered over 140 children who are the ancestors of a very great many Acadians who are living today. The family with the greatest representation in the company was the Gaudets, although two of the three men of that name never married. There were two Boudrots, two DesRoches’s, two LeBlancs, and two Maillets. The Boudrots were half brothers, while the DesRoches’s, the Maillets, and a pair of the Gaudets were all full siblings. Isaac Thibodeau was meanwhile a stepbrother of the Maillets, and Louison Doiron was Paul LeBlanc’s uncle. The closeness of these relationships is not surprising, nor is the fact that four of these soldiers eventually wed sisters of their former comrades, given the small size of the Acadian community in the Memramcook area in 1776. Indeed, Lieutenant Colonel Eddy was rather fortunate to find as many as nineteen young, able-bodied, unmarried Acadian men who were willilng to take part in his enterprise. And we today are fortunate that enough records survive to provide information about how these men served and who they were.
Stephen A. White
Centre d’études acadiennes
Université de Moncton
This article has been posted with Mr. White's permission. It was published March 2002 in the quarterly issue of the American Canadian Genealogist, published by the American Canadian Genealogical Society of Manchester, New Hampshire.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Posted by Lucie LeBlanc Consentino at 7:14 PM