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 War makes heroes of Acadian brothers: Part 3
By Alice Ferguson 
Editors note: In October 1755, English troops deported more than 5,000 French Acadians from what
is now Nova Scotia, Canada. While their journeys were desperate and difficult, times were even
harsher for members of the Acadian resistance who remained in hiding in the forests of their
homeland. Part Three of The Advertiser's series on the Acadian adventure tells their story, as related
in Bona Arsenault's book, History of the Acadians. 

     History tells us that war leaves in its wake the sweetness of victory and the sorrow of the vanquished. War
makes heroes, also. 
     That's certainly true of the conflict between the English and the French in Acadia. After Le Grande
Derangement of 1755, hundreds of Acadians who had managed to escape deportation hid in the forests of
Nova Scotia. As had happened so often before, they hoped the French would regain control of the area so
they could reclaim their homesteads from the Protestant enemy. 
     First and foremost among them were the brothers Brossard dit Beausoleil, Alexandre and Joseph. As
leaders of the Acadian resistance, they remained in Acadia until after the Treaty of Paris was signed in
1763. The Brossards--whose family name was later changed to Broussard - were known for their courage,
their marksmanship, and their contagious cheerfulness (hence the nickname for Joseph, " Beasoleil,"
referring to a smile as bright as the sun). 
     Bona Arsenault's History of the Acadians notes that Joseph Brossard, born in Port Royal, founded the
Boundary Creek Settlement with his brother Alexandre in 1740. He later became "a legendary figure both
in the Maritimes and in Louisiana." 
     Along with other families whose homesteads had been burned and pillaged, Joseph and Alexandre fled into
the woods with their familes. Joseph, a sharpshooter and militia captain, "took a heavy toll of English
soldiers sent into the area to capture refugees," Arsenault wrote. His shooting skills became legendary in the
region, and his reputed prowess followed him to the bayou country of Louisiana a few years later. 
     But as good a shot as he was, Joseph could only protect so many families. In other regions of Acadia, the
refugees were dealt with harshly by English soldiers and by Mother Nature. More than 600 of those who
were hiding in the Miramichi River area died of starvation and a "horrible contagion" in the winter of 1757.
French missionary Francois LeGuerne wrote that they attempted to survive by "eating the leather of shoes,
carrion, and some even the excrement of animals." There was nothing the Brossards could do to feed or
warm them. 
     Another group of Acadian refugees joined up with Francois Bourdon at Louisbourg, one of the last French
strongholds in Acadia. He was married to Marguerite Gauthier, daughter of Acadians who had fled from
Port Royal to Ile St. Jean. When Louisbourg finally fell to the English in 1758, Francois, Marguerite and the
thousands of Acadians who had settled in Ile St. Jean after 1755 found themselves running for their lives
once again, "trying by all means to get away before the English arrived." 
     By Arsenault's account, their desire for haste was well-founded. At Port-Latour, a few Acadian families
survived mainly by fishing in the area. On one April day, the Acadian fishermen returned to find their homes
had been burned and their wives and children - 72 of them - had disappeared.
     The English had captured the women and children and deported them to North Carolina. Most never saw
their husbands and fathers again. The English had also begun offering rewards for the scalps of Indians in
the area.
     "A number of English soldiers confused Indian and Acadian scalps," Arsenault wrote. "They had the excuse that officially, all Acadians had been deported from Nova Scotia." 
     Between the lack of food, the threat of scalping, and the continued English assaults against the last few
Acadian strongholds, the resistance gradually began to lose its vigor. Even Joseph and Alexandre Brossard
could hardly hold out hope when they learned of the fall of Louisbourg in 1758.
     The final blow for Joseph came when they heard that Quebec had finally fallen, in 1759. 
     "He lost all hope since the refugees who were with him had no food, or other essentials left, and winter was
fast approaching" Arsenault recorded. 
     In final desperation, Joseph and Alexandre, along with Jean Basque, Simon Martin, Jean Bourg and Michel
Bourg led their followers to Fort Cumberland. They hoped to cut a deal with the English, "rather than die of
hunger," Arsenault wrote. Instead, they were imprisoned at Halifax until the Treaty of Paris was signed in
     That signing marked the begining of the last great wave of Acadian refugees to leave Nova Scotia. Most of
them, including the Brossards, were headed for Louisiana. 
     Arsenault wrote that their journey resumed in 1764, when Joseph Broussard's name appeared on the
registry of a ship bound for the West Indies. 
     "Stricken by a plague and unable to bear the tropical climate, they did not stay. 'Ihey soon headed for the
Attakapas region of Louisiana..." Arsenault recorded. 
     The Broussard's arrival was marked in Louisiana records too, by New Orleans Commissioner Nicolas
     "A few days ago, 193 Acadians arrived in Louisiana from Santo Domingo. Since they were extremely
indigent, we assured them of the help they need between now and until such time as they are able to
choose land in the Opelousas region." 
     Foucault made another entry in his records about two months later, of the arrival of 200 more Acadians.
Arsenault believed the Broussard party was among these groups of refugees, since Joseph's name
appeared on a contract dated April 4, 1765: 
     "A retired army captain, Antoine Bernard d'Hauterive, agreed to supply them with cattle for breeding
purposes," Arsenault wrote." The signatures included those of Pierre Arcenaud, Joseph
Broussard,Jean-Baptiste Broussard, Victor Broussard, Jean Dugas, Joseph Guillebeau and Olivier
     Finally--some 160 years after Pierre du Gast De Monts first set eyes on the Bay of Fundy - it seemed the
Acadians had found a home.

© 1994 Lafayette Daily Advertiser [June 20, 1994]