Robert Monckton : biography
Robert Monckton (24 June 1726 – 21 May 1782) was an officer of the British army and a colonial administrator in British North America. He had a distinguished military and political career, being second in command to General Wolfe at the battle of Quebec and later named the Governor of the Province of New York. Monckton is also remembered for capturing Fort Beausejour, and the island of Martinique, as well as his role in the deportation of the Acadians from British controlled Nova Scotia (because of their refusal to swear an unqualified oath of loyalty to the British Crown), and also from French controlled Acadia (present day New Brunswick) during the early part of the French and Indian War (the North American theatre of the Seven Years War). The city of Moncton, New Brunswick, (about 50 km west of Fort Beausejour) and Fort Moncton are named for him.
French and Indian War
In the winter of 1754, Governor Charles Lawrence of Nova Scotia and Massachusetts Governor William Shirley, under a general British directive, made plans to deal with French "encroachments" on the frontier of the British North American colonies. This process ultimately led to the beginning of the final French and Indian War and the onset of the Seven Years' War in North America. One of the first actions of this war was to be at Fort Beausejour and Robert Monckton, with his intimate knowledge of the local fortifications, was invited to spend the winter in Boston to assist in the planning process.
- See main article at Battle of Fort Beauséjour
In June 1755, Monckton, commanding a fleet of 31 transports and three warships carrying 270 British regular troops and 2,000 New England militia, entered Cumberland Basin. The ships dropped anchor at the mouth of the Missaguash River and the British forces were able to land unopposed. Using Fort Lawrence as a staging area, Monckton quickly surrounded Fort Beausejour and began a careful advancement on the fort from the north by moving along the top of Aulac Ridge. A two-week siege ensued, including heavy bombardment of the fort using 13-inch mortars. The French commander of the fort, Louis Du Pont Duchambon de Vergor, being outnumbered more than four to one, realised that his position was untenable and when his walls were breached, opted to surrender. The British forces then occupied the fort and renamed it Fort Cumberland (after the Duke of Cumberland). Following the capitulation, Monckton treated the defeated French generously and offered the garrison passage to Fortress Louisbourg. He also pardoned the Acadian irregulars. The French commander of Fort Gaspareaux, on the opposite side of the Isthmus of Chignecto, was offered (and subsequently agreed to) the same terms on the following day, thus securing the frontier of Nova Scotia. Fort Gaspareaux was subsequently renamed Fort Monckton.
Following the capture of Fort Beausejour, Governor Lawrence of Nova Scotia decided that the presence of Acadian irregulars helping in the defence of the fort constituted a "violation" of Acadian neutrality. This of course ignored the fact that the Acadians in the fort were from French controlled Acadia and not from British controlled Nova Scotia. Nevertheless, he used this as a pretense to force the Acadian inhabitants of Nova Scotia to swear an unqualified oath of allegiance to the British crown; something that the Acadian population of Nova Scotia had been successfully able to avoid for 40 years. The Acadians again refused to comply. The die was thus cast and Lawrence subsequently issued the order to expel the Acadian population from the region. This decision was heavily influenced by the recent conflicts between the British colonial authorities and the Acadians in Nova Scotia during Father Le Loutre's War. Lawrence's ordering of the deportation of the Acadians from Nova Scotia resulted in their dispersal to the other British North American colonies, as well as to Louisiana and to France. Since Monckton and his expeditionary force constituted the largest British military force in the area, Governor Lawrence placed them in charge of executing this order. On 10 August, under Lawrence's directive, Monckton rounded up 400 Acadian men (whom he had originally pardoned) and imprisoned them at Fort Cumberland to await deportation. Over the course of the next several months, the deportation effort spread to other French settlements on the Bay of Fundy and ultimately over 7,000 Acadian men, women and children were forced from their homes.
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