November 29, This day during the American Revolution

November 29, 1776 – Battle of Fort Cumberland was an attempt by a small number of militia commanded by Jonathan Eddy to bring the American Revolutionary War to Nova Scotia in late 1776. With minimal logistical support from Massachusetts and four to five hundred volunteer militia and Natives, Eddy attempted to besiege and storm Fort Cumberland in central Nova Scotia (near the present-day border between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) in November 1776. The fort’s defenders, the Royal Fencible American Regiment led by Joseph Goreham, a veteran of the French and Indian War, successfully repelled several attempts by Eddy’s militia to storm the fort, and the siege was ultimately relieved when the RFA plus Royal Marine reinforcements drove off the besiegers on November 29. In retaliation for the role of locals who supported the siege, numerous homes and farms were destroyed, and Patriot sympathizers were driven out of the area. The successful defense of Fort Cumberland preserved the territorial integrity of the British Maritime possessions, and Nova Scotia remained loyal throughout the war. Goreham took stock of his situation. Nearly one quarter of his garrison (more than 60 men) had been captured by Eddy, along with critical fuel and other supplies that had not been unloaded from the Polly before her seizure. His defenses consisted of a hastily constructed palisade that encompassed most of the fort, and six cannons, for which his men had only completed three mounts. The fort’s military complement was 176 men, including officers and artillerymen. Over the next few days, local militia arrived to raise the garrison’s size to about 200, although this included individuals not effective for combat due to illness. On both November 7 and 8 he again attempted to get messengers out of Eddy’s cordon, without success. On November 8 Eddy was joined by about 200 men from Cobequid and Pictou, and he finally felt ready to act on November 10. Eddy sent a letter demanding that Goreham surrender his garrison. Goreham refused, suggesting in retort that Eddy surrender. The next day authorities outside the area learned of Eddy’s activities. Michael Francklin, patrolling in the Bay of Fundy for privateers, recovered a ferry that had been taken, and learned from its passengers that Eddy was active. When the news reached Halifax, Lieutenant Governor Marriot Arbuthnot responded by dispatching orders on the 15th for any available ship based at Annapolis to go to Fort Edward in Windsor, to convoy troops to relieve the siege. Commodore Sir George Collier had previously dispatched the HMS Vulture into the Bay of Fundy on rumors of privateering activity there, so he ordered the HMS Hope to locate the Vulture so that she could assist. However, the Hope captured a prize and returned to Halifax; she was then sent out again to accompany a supply ship to Fort Cumberland. In the meantime, the Vulture fortuitously arrived at Windsor, where she took on some marines and Fencibles. Lacking artillery, the rebels attempted to storm the fort on the night of November 12, attempting a feint to draw Goreham’s strength away from the weak points of the defenses. The experienced Goreham saw through the feint and repulsed the attack. One of Eddy’s Maliseet warriors snuck into the fort and very nearly opened a gate but was stopped at the last moment. Following the failed attack, Eddy effectively lost control of the expedition, as a council of leaders formed against him. Night attacks ordered by the council on November 22 and 23 succeeded in capturing and burning several buildings, but Goreham grimly held his ground, and the invaders were again repulsed. On November 27, the Vulture arrived. Rather than retreat in the face of arriving relief, the rebels increased their guard; Goreham, with some intelligence about the size of the force opposing him, planned a sortie. Early on the morning of November 29, Major Thomas Batt led 150 men from the Vulture’s Royal Marine contingent and the Royal Fencible Americans, and scattered Eddy’s men, killing and wounding several, at the cost of two dead and three wounded.




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