Military Wiki
Joseph Godin
Born 1697
Died 1774 (aged 76–77)
Cherbourg, France
Known for British Empire resistance

Joseph Godin, dit Bellefontaine, dit Beausejour (1697- c. 1774) was an Acadian and the leader of the Acadian Militia in the St. John River Valley. A British officer described Godin as having "a man of some consequence and had a commission as Major of Miliitia." [1] His home was at Sainte-Anne-du-Pays-Bas (present-day Frederickton, New Brunswick).

Early life

His father Gabriel Godin, dit Chatillon, a naval officr, was the second lieutenant at Fort Saint-Joseph (Fort Nashwaak) in 1692. His father was a trader with the Wabanaki Confederacy. Joseph worked with his father and eventually became the King's interpreter. As an Acadian deputy, he represented the Acadians from St. John to the Nova Scotia Council in 1736.

In 1749, at the outbreak of Father Le Loutre’s War, Godin became the official leader of the Acadian militia on the St. John River. They rebuffed the efforts of both John Gorham (1748) and John Rous (1749) to establish control of St. John River.

St. John River Campaign

During the St. John River Campaign, in February 1759, Acadian militia leader Joseph Godin dit Bellefontaine and a group of Acadians ambushed the Rangers.[2] Eventually Godin and his militia was overwhelmed by Hazen's rangers. Godin resisted Hazen's efforts to get him to sign an oath of allegiance, even in the face of Hazen torturing and killing some of Godin's family members in front of him. The rangers scalped six Acadians and took six prisoners during this raid.[3][4] Godin “by his speech and largess . . . had instigated and maintained the Indians in their hatred and war against the. English.” Godin was taken prisoner by the rangers and brought, after having been joined by his family, to Annapolis Royal. From there he was taken to Boston, Halifax, and England; later he was sent to Cherbourg.[5]

Godin's official statement to the French Crown states: "The Sieur Joseph [Godin] Bellefontaine [Sieur de] Beauséjour of the Saint John River, son of Gabriel (officer aboard the king`s vessels in Canada (in Acadie) and of Angélique-Roberte Jeanna), was major of all the Saint John River Militia by order of Monsieur de la Galissonnière, from the 10 April 1749 and always was in these functions during the said war until he was captured by the enemy, and he owns several leagues of land, where he had the grief to have seen the massacre of one of his daughters and her three children by the English, who wanted, out of cruelty and fear to force him to take their part ... he only escaped such a fate by his flight into the woods, carrying with him two other children of the daughter." He and his wife spent the remainder of their lives in Cherbourg France, where they received 300 French Livres of annual revenue as compensation [6][7][8][9]

See also



  2. Burt G. Loescher. Rogers Rangers: First Green Berets, p. 71
  3. Grenier_p61
  4. Canadian Biography
  5. AD, Calvados (Caen), C 1020, mémoire de Joseph Bellefontaine, dit Beauséjour, 15 janv. 1774. Placide Gaudet, “Acadian genealogy and notes,” PAC Report, 1905, II, pt., 140, 241. N.S. Archives, III. [Joseph Rôbinau de Villebon], Acadia at the end of the seventeenth century; letters, journals and memoirs of Joseph Robineau de Villebon . . . , ed. J. C. Webster (Saint John, N. B., 1934), 99, 149, 154. L. M. B. Maxwell, An outline of the history of central New Brunswick to the time of confederation (Sackville, N.B., 1937). ; Dictionnary of Canadian Biography, Volume IV (1771-1800)
  6. List of the names of the members of honourable Acadien families of military officers who are currently living in Cherbourg (Normandy, France), Acadians At Cherbourg, 1967, Université de Moncton Copied Records
  7. There are other primary sources that support his assertions. A letter from Fort Frederick which was printed in Parker’s New York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy on 2 April 1759 provides some additional details of the behavior of the rangers. Also see William O. Raymond. The River St. John: Its Physical Features, Legends and History from 1604 to 1784. St. John, New Brunswick. 1910. pp. 96-107
  8. While the French military hired Natives to gather British scalps, the British military hired Rangers to gather Native scalps. The regiments of both the French and British militaries were not skilled at frontier warfare, while the Natives and rangers were. British officers Cornwallis and Amherst both expressed dismay over the tactics of the rangers and the Mi'kmaq (See Grenier, p.152, Faragher, p. 405).
  9. The scalping of Acadians in this instance was unique for the Maritimes. New Englanders had been scalping native peoples in the area for generations, but unlike the French on Ile Royale, they had refrained from authorizing the taking of scalps from individuals identified as being of European descent. See Plank, p. 67

Primary sources


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