Fort Anne National Historic Site of Canada
Illustration from the book “The Micmac and How Their Ancestors Lived Four Hundred Years Ago” © Parks Canada/K. Kaulbach
Life for the Mi’kmaq and other aboriginal people would change forever after the arrival of Europeans. While the French maintained a mostly cooperative relationship with the Mi’kmaq and with their Abenaki allies, the relationship between the British and the Mi’kmaq was often turbulent.
As early as 1605, when Port-Royal was abandoned for a time by the French settlers, the site was left in the hands of a Mi’kmaq chief for safe keeping. Over time, the bonds between the two nations deepened through intermarriage. During the 17th and 18th centuries, French troops and Mi’kmaq warriors became allied against the British expansion. The British too, mostly by giving gifts and trading goods, developed military ties with native people. The battles of Bloody Creek clearly illustrate these alliances.
After the British succeeded in capturing Port-Royal in 1710, the battered fort needed repairs to make it serviceable. Acadian contractors up the Annapolis River agreed to cut wood for the fortifications and float the timber down to the fort. Supplying timber for the fort, however, would have disastrous consequences. The task was thwarted by Aboriginal warriors who harassed the Acadians for helping the English and cut adrift their rafted logs. The situation became dire enough that Governor Samuel Vetch decided to send a force upriver to placate the region.
Some 70 soldiers left Annapolis Royal on June 10th, 1711, in a whaleboat and two flatboats. When it reached René Forêt River near present-day Bridgetown, the whaleboat was confronted by Abenakis who had gathered there in advance of an attack on Annapolis Royal. The British were badly outnumbered and soon overcome. Around 18 men were killed and 12 wounded. All but one soldier was taken prisoner. The French later traded the prisoners for food and supplies.
Following this first battle, Colonel John Livingston, Vetch’s cousin, returned from New York with about 50 men recruited from among the Iroquois Confederacy. Their mission: scouting and preventing attacks on the fort by French soldiers and their Mi’kmaq, aboriginal allies. A fort for the soldiers was constructed at the lower end of Annapolis Royal. The Iroquois company was dismissed in the spring of 1713.
In 1755, some Acadians who had escaped the deportation formed resistance bands in the forests, often linking up with their Mi'kmaq allies. In December 1757, a work party from Annapolis Royal was cutting firewood near the site of the first battle when they were ambushed by an Acadian and Mi'kmaq force. One man was killed and another seven were taken captive. In response, 130 British troops were dispatched to recover the prisoners.
When British troops crossed a bridge on the René Forêt River on the morning of December 8th, they were attacked by the Mi'kmaq and Acadians. The British suffered 25 casualties before retreating back to Annapolis Royal. Despite defeating the British, the Mi'kmaq and Acadian force did not follow it up by attacking Annapolis Royal. The René Forêt River was later renamed Bloody Creek in honour of these two battles.