A Soldier’s Story: A new view of the Deportation
Historian Earle Lockerby and Saint Mary’s University archeology professor Jonathan Fowler examine a period uniform following a public presentation detailing their work on a soldier’s diary written during the time of the Acadian Deportation.
For more than a decade Jonathan Fowler and his team has been digging in the fields around Grand-Pré looking for artifacts of pre-Deportation Acadian life.
The Saint Mary’s archeologist has recovered some notable clues in the form of pottery and glassware, but ironically one of his biggest discoveries to date may have come while sorting through drawers just a few blocks from his office.
While doing work at the Nova Scotia archives, he came across the transcript of a diary written by Jeremiah Bancroft, a Massachusetts born soldier, who was on the front line of the Deportation of the Acadians from Grand-Pré. The entries covered only a dozen pages, but Fowler and his research partner, Earle Lockerby, immediately recognized they offered up a view of the Grand Dérangement that had never before appeared in print.
At a meeting at Saint Mary’s University today, the pair explained the diary’s significance and read passages that described the burning of Acadian villages and the placing of the French inhabitants on ship.
“It has a very rudimentary style, but the entries provide us a view of events told from lower down the chain of command. That’s something we haven’t seen before,” said Professor Fowler.
Jeremiah Bancroft was born in Reading Massachusetts and in 1755 he was an ensign in Captain Phineas Osgood’s Company. He was present at the capture of Fort Beauséjour and then later participated in the Deportation of the Acadians around Grand-Pré.
The whereabouts of Bancroft’s original diary are unknown; it may not still exist. The 1925 transcript on display today was created at the hand of Judge William B Stevens, a Massachusetts historian with an interest in military matters.
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