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Daily Archives: July 10, 2013

Mosquito Fleet = Scoundrels

Mosquito Fleet, Galveston, Texas.

Mosquito Fleet  (Photo credit: SMU Central University Libraries)

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When the American Revolutionary War began in 1775, parts of Nova Scotia had been settled by people brought from the colonial states to replace the Acadians. There was a great deal of sympathy for the American cause and an organization was set up to support it.

A delegation to the Congress at Philadelphia gave the names of 600 people who were ready to join the rebellion, and Nova Scotians even attacked Cumberland.  They were easily defeated, however, and the uprising in the Maritime never became serious.

One of the rebel leaders in Nova Scotia gave the Americans advice on how to win the Maritimes, urging them to equip small ships that could run up the tidal waters of Nova Scotia and attack the settlements inland.  This was done very successfully.  The American raiders sailed close to shore, where heavier British warships could not catch them, and a great many communities were raided and plundered.

Eventually, however, the operation backfired.  Many of the American ships in the “mosquito fleet” were little better than pirates, and Nova Scotia soon turned against them. The leading citizens of the fishing village of Lockeport sent a protest to Massachusetts saying, “the scoundrels took 19 quintals of codfish, 4 barrels of salt, 3 salmon nets, 60 pounds of butter, 1 green hide, 5 dressed skins, some cheese and other things … These things are very surprising in that we in this harbour have done so much for America, that we have helped three or four hundred prisoners to go along to America and have given part of our living to them.  If this is the way we are to be repaid we desire to see no more of you without you come in another manner”

Quintal: The quintal or centner, from Latin centenarius (“hundredlike”), is a historical unit of mass in many countries which is usually defined as 100 base units of either pounds or kilograms. – Wikipedia

They came back in the same way.  However, this time, as most of the menfolk were away, the women and children, living up on a bluff, wore red coats and carried broomsticks which looked like guns.  One woman marched up and down with a drum.  The raiders thought they were soldiers and departed.

The Government of Nova Scotia organized a tiny navy to oppose the rebels.  Rebel strength was further depleted by battles, such as the one on July 10, 1780, between rival members of the “mosquito fleet.”

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