Joseph Broussard leads a group of Acadians to Attakapas Parish, Louisiana

October 19, 2017

Monument in Halifax harbour to the imprisoned Acadians on Georges Island, Halifax during the Grand Dérangement of the 1750s and 1760s. Photo by Fralambert.

The group of six hundred Acadians from Halifax—including every living relative of Joseph and Alexandre Broussard, as well as the families of many of their associates in the Acadian resistance—arrived in Saint Domingue in January 1765. But the Broussards had no intention of remaining there. They soon hired another vessel, and with 193 Acadians continued on to New Orleans….

When the Broussards and their associates arrived in New Orleans, those [French] officials presented them with an opportunity to own land and raise cattle at Poste des Attakapas, a developing frontier station west of New Orleans on the verge of a treeless prairie…. The Broussards and their associates accepted the offer.

“Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil in Acadia”. Painted by Herb Roe. Photo by Heironymous Rowe.

Acting Louisiana governor Charles Philippe Aubry welcomed Joseph Broussard as a French hero. “In view of the proofs of valor, fidelity, and attachment in the service of the king, which the herein named Joseph Broussard, surnamed Beausoleil, Acadian, has given on different occasions…” read the commission Aubry signed on 8 April 1765, “We appoint him Captain of Militia and Commandant of the Acadians who have come with him.” This satisfying honor turned to be the capstone of Broussard’s life. Soon after the Acadians arrived at Attakapas, they were devastated by an epidemic of an unknown origin that claimed many lives. In September, Alexandre Broussard was struck down, and on 20 October, a Jesuit missionary recorded the death of his brother Joseph “at the camp known as Beausoleil.”

Acadians, painting by Samuel Scott

The two men had traveled a great distance from their birthplace along the Annapolis River early in the century. Long the leaders of the opposition to British rule, they had been unable to resist the campaign of removal. But they had successfully begun the transplantation of a way of life from the meadows of l’Acadie to the prairies of Louisiana.

John Mack Faragher, A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from their American Homeland (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005), 428-9.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 597

 

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