Suppliment Mario's milice info - Drill

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Suppliment Mario's milice info - Drill

Postby Belleville » Wed Apr 04, 2018 4:11 pm

la Milice – Drilling in New France

In 1669 Louis XIV ordered that the Canadian militia be formed and that they were to assemble
once a month to practice handling arms. There are traces of documentation that the militia was
being drilled but on a very irregular basis.

Governor-General Dusquesne took measures to increase the efficiency of the militia. In 1752
he ordered that the militiamen were to be drilled every Sunday, which was executed “exactly”
according to his report to the Minister of the Marine in September. (France, Archives
Nationales, Colonies, C11A, 95 fol, 344). He would not tolerate militia officers appearing
before him without their gorgets and swords.

With regard militia drilling, Duquesne mentions in a letter to the Minister of the Navy, in
November 1752 that he reviewed the militia of Orleans Island, Pointe-Lévy, Beauport and
Charlesbourg; all of parishes on the outskirts of the city of Québec. He afterwards
ordered them to be drilled every week. He was also hoping to improve the militia of Québec
City. (Archives coloniales, Fonds des colonies, Série C11A, vol. 98, fol. 82-84v).

By September 1754, Dusquesne reported that the militia was in good shape, that of Montreal
being the best, and that he had inspected the militia in every parish “to examine if all the
militiamen were well armed, had their powder horns filled and at least twenty bullets. (Archives
coloniales, Série C11A, vol. 99, fol. 244). Duquesne reports to the Minister that the militia of
the government of Montreal which was "the most insubordinate but basically the best” had
been improved. There was a review in each parish of that government. All men were well
armed and he was assured that it was now the same in the governments of Trois-Rivières and
Québec. He concluded that he "did not know any better people in the world than the
Canadiens". (Archives coloniales, Fonds des Colonies, Série C11A, vol. 99, fol. 238-243v).

So orders to drill the militia on a more regular basis (once a week) were given by the Governor
General. It seems that these orders were actually followed in all parishes since within two
years of his arrival; Duquesne could report to the Minister that the militias were in good shape.

In Illinois: "Order of Command for Macarty, Illinois 1751, from Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuill,
governor of the province of Louisiana: M. de Macarty will give special attention to the <> militia
companies, making them assemble frequently in each place to drill, and having them learn the
drill recently ordered by His Majesty of which we have sent several copies both for the militia of
each place and for the troops, whom he will take care to have well disciplined. He will also see
to it that no habitants, servants, or work men are exempt from this drill, and in case he finds
gentlemen who refuse to take places as officers of the militia, he will make them serve as
privates, the King’s intention being that none should be exempt from that service, save officers
with commissions, brevets or letters of service. He will take care to keep them trained to arms
and will see to it that they are well armed and that the officers who act as major and aid major
hold-frequent reviews when he cannot hold them himself."

Sources:
Chartrand, Rene, “Canadian Militia, 1750-1760”
Gousse, André, E-mail message from 9-24-02.
Pease, Theodore Calvin, Illinois on the Eve of the Seven Years War 1745-1755, 1940,
published by the Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, IL, page 305.
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Re: Suppliment Mario's milice info - Drill

Postby Fitz Williams » Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:24 am

I have heard that the officer of the milice of a parish was the seigneur, who was also the civilian authority there. When milice were called up for service, it was he who selected who would go and who would stay. The people necessary for running the village, the blacksmith, the miller, etc., would be exempted and the less indispensable sent. And also, the seigneur would not command the milice when they were on campaign, but an officer detached from the CfM. And also, that a company of milice on campaign would not be made up of the milice from any one parish, but consist of men from different parishes combined into the requisite number for the military organization. This would tend to explain why it was necessary for all the parishes to conform to the established drill and all be proficient. In reading about the battle of the Monongahela, I was struck by the ratio officers to men of the Compagnies franches de la Marine. It seemed a little high. But then I realized that many of these were commanding the milice (who greatly outnumbered the CfM), so that would make sense. Also I suspect the some of the CfM were inserted into the various Native formations to let them know they were "part of the team".
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Re: Suppliment Mario's milice info - Drill

Postby Ken Hamilton » Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:31 am

This is good stuff. Are we saying that "Canadiqan Militia" were not ALL jolly, rugged "courriers du bois" with big fleur de lis on their pom-pom toques? :D

Seriously, In my Acadien research, I am seeing that the Native war parties containing French personnel, , were indeed comprised of marine officers (and a 'servant", priest or "gentleman" on occasion). I suspect that the "gentlemen" were, in fact, interpreters for the Natives...although most of the officer's were also fluent??? Soldiers were largely unaccustomed to wilderness survival because they were largely from France itself, so either stayed at their post or merely assisted as formal troops landed from chaloup, batteau or even a large warship, if duty called them away from guard duty, digging moats, fortification building and chopping fire wood. I have no doubt that the region's PARISH malice were trained semi-regularly in l'acadie...(Grand pre', Minas, Beaubassin, St. John River, Chibouctou, Port Royal, Canso etc... but I have not seen that specific info?
However, I think it is LESS regular in the 17th cent. because of the sparse population here? The seigneuries on the St. john were mostly family units and not really "settlements" per se'...so one sees these guys personally named in campaign accounts occasionally, (they had notorious, scandalous reputations too).

Thanks Doc and Fitz.

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Re: Suppliment Mario's milice info - Drill

Postby Fitz Williams » Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:36 am

I will add that the effectiveness is the milice is a bit over rated. We tend to think of them as the tough woodsmen (with with big fleur de lis on their pom-pom toques), but the fact is they were villagers and farmers and not soldiers. Most of the epic warfare was done by the CfM, who looked and dressed like the milice when on campaign. At Braddock's Defeat, when the French ran into the British, and both were genuinely surprised, the milice broke and ran. French and British accounts both say the French officers were waving their hats to try and direct their men. Dumas describes it in detail, and also takes full credit for the victory. At Carillon/Ticonderoga the fort's artillery had to fire on the milice to stop them from deserting. (This was reenacted in 2008 by M. H. Boucher :) ). Their finest moment came in 2009 at the Plains of Abraham when they rallied and shot the Highlanders to pieces after the Highlanders had grounded their muskets, drew their swords, and executed a Highland charge. Classic example of bringing a knife to a gunfight. Just sayin'. . . .
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Re: Suppliment Mario's milice info - Drill

Postby Sanscoeur » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:17 am

Long ago, when this Board had MANY more contributors, the standard reference for the condition and status of the Canadian militia was regarded as being best documented in Louise Dechêne's "Le peuple, l'État et la Guerre au Canada sous le Régime français". Later, a few of the Canadian members of the Board objected to Ms. Dechène's nationalist view of Canadian history. The biggest existing problem for the present audience is that this work has never been translated to English. How come those guys on the Board, back then, thought Dechêne had it so right?

Fitz's interpretation of milice history basically complies with that of Mademoiselle Dechêne. Until members of this Board gain a more complete command of vernacular Canadian history, there won't be any complete conclusion about how to conduct ourselves on this historical stage. And we have no Canadian Board contributors these days to give us their interpretations.

Sad to say, but that gives those guys on the wild "fleur-de-lis on their pom-pom touques" ranks license to do almost what they want.
«S’il n’y avait en Angleterre qu’une religion, le despotisme serait à craindre; s’il y en avait deux, elles se couperaient la gorge; mais il y en a trente, et elles vivent en paix et heureuses».
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Re: Suppliment Mario's milice info - Drill

Postby Ken Hamilton » Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:17 am

Sanscoeur..........wow, I admit I have not ever even heard of Dechene's book....although I might have been a little skeptical of any modern writer trying to "standardize" a 400 -350 year old culture?

I say this because I micro examine Acadian records from both English and French records, and add the reality check of archaeology, period art and museum/private collections etc....I was immediately evident that things did not go as "planned" ...nor are they like things "Parisian" (or in Quebec for that matter).

This became even more evident when a recent pair of authors working on a CFM research book decided to NOT include Marine info from Louisianna or l'acadie, because it was often too unique and not representative of standard CFM structure. Even before I ever even started reading about Marine stuff specifically, I was aware that according to early uniform researchers in the late 80's.....the Louisianna marine coats had short COLLARS (for some reason?). I still don't know if this is totally distinctive to them, or if it reflected some other influence or uniform source? I KNOW that Acadien marines were wearing moccasins (especially in winter) because the records even give the PRICES they had to pay the surgeon (who no doubt acquired them from local Maliseet Indian women). Capotes of Blue serge and leggings of the same or blue mazamet also for these same soldiers..........but not for snowshoe campaigns...just for wood detail and details around their post or for comfort in one of several advance observation camps. Sooooo different than "metropolitan" MARINES.

Anyway, Acadien Marine stuff from the 1690's was a small, finite world and the structure was based on the allotted 90 soldats, (not including officers apparently). These guys were forever at the END of the supply chain, and frequently wanted for basic items. Their force was spread out to several small posts, and was loose enough to have a semi-flexible command structure...but at the same time conform to the "official" commission rules for rank, pay and authority. A letter or report could be (and was) falsified or exaggerated here, AND contradicted by that of another individual ...and I suspect (therefore) everywhere :!:

I only mention this specific stuff (early too, I know, I'm sorry :D ), because it clearly illustrates "local" variations and adaptions, event though the 1690's may or may not reflect anything relevant to the 1750's?
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Re: Suppliment Mario's milice info - Drill

Postby PAUL C. DAIUTE » Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:34 am

What a great thread, thanks guys! I learned a lot.
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Re: Suppliment Mario's milice info - Drill

Postby Fitz Williams » Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:56 am

Interesting about the Louisiana Marines having collars. I have heard that the Louisiana was supplied via the Caribbean Islands, so maybe the uniforms had more the look of the Marines from La Rochelle than from Québec? So does this mean that the garrison of Fort Toulouse should have collars on their justaucorps? By the way, their big Spring event is next weekend, and it's only a 2 day drive from Maine. (Two long days)
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