Shag Harbour & Her Pirate Encounters

In the days of the war of 1812 American privateers were frequent visitors on the southern coast of Nova Scotia, not only for the purpose of destroying British commerce but they would often land to obtain provisions and were not particular as to the means by which they were procure or the amount of damage done to the settlers.    (1813-1814)

A favourite resort of theirs was at Shag Harbour- a harbour west of Barrington Bay and near Cape Sable-the islands of the coast on which sheep were kept, affording the privateers man an easy opportunity of replenishing their larder with fresh mutton.

On many of the hills commanding a good view of the sea, cannons were mounted and lookouts stationed near by to fire them as a warning, to the people on the approach of a suspicious looking vessel.

One summer evening a strange brig was seen at anchor near Bon Portage Island about 1 ¾ miles from the mainland, a council of the people was held, and indignant at former losses which they had sustained they were determined if possible to prevent the Americans from lessening their flocks this time. So the long boat was manned by a sturdy crew commanded by Solomm Adams, and under cover of darkness, with noiseless oars they rowed to Bon Portage or “Outer Island” as it was called where entrenched behind the high sea wall they passed the night. At early dawn a boat from the privateer was seen making for the island, and when within easy gun-shot, Capt. Adams rose up and demanded them to surrender and row ashore.

A volley of gunfire was the reply, which cut off a limb of a tree over Capt. Adams head. He immediately ordered his own crew of men to fire which they did with such effort, that every man in the boat with but one exception was killed; he although wounded managed to pull the boat back before the visitors could reload the old muskets and inflict further execution.

The remaining crew of the brig, witnessing this scene had got a gun to bear and shot after shot plunged into the beach rocks doing no damage to the sturdy defenders of the islands, who smugly sheltered like the farmers in the “Concord” fight, “Gave them ball for ball from each fence and old stone wall”.

Apparently thinking chances for obtaining mutton or revenge were slim, the brig got underway, her guns carrying idle threat to the shore, aided by her sweeps the morning being calm, she got out of range and away to sea, thinking no doubt that plundering was an unprofitable business on this coast.



“An account written by the late E. R Nickerson”