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Focus: French regiment, Carignan-Salières Regiment defended and fortified New France. There 1,200 soldiers overwhelmed the 3,000 residents of New France in 1665.
IMAGE – Illustration ‘Unibroue’ régiment de Carignan-Salières by Charles Vinh
The Carignan-Salières Regiment (1665-1669)
The Carignan-Salières Regiment was the only one to be deployed in full to Canada during the French Regime. To establish a sustainable presence in the colony, the colonial authorities provided a variety of incentives, such as distributing seigneuries to officers in the regiment or marrying soldiers off to the Filles du roi to persuade them to settle in the colony at the end of their service. Of the 1,300 soldiers and officers from the regiment sent to New France, more than 400 settled permanently in the North American territory.
The Carignan-Salières Regiment arrived in New France in 1665, 57 years after Samuel de Champlain founded Québec City in 1608.
In view of the fact that there were only 3,200 people of French ancestry in Canada, of whom about 500 lived in or near the town of Quebec, it is easy to guess the emotions raised in that little colony by the announcement that such a large force was arriving. There was enough commotion just trying to find lodgings for all 1,200 soldiers and 80 officers! It was not long before the troops were deployed. By the end of August, eight companies had been sent to build strongholds all along the Richelieu. These became the forts of Sorel, Chambly, Saint-Jean, Sainte-Thérèse and Sainte-Anne. The four companies from the West Indies were attached to the Carignan-Salières Regiment but not incorporated into it, retaining their identification with their respective regiments.
The presence of so many troops radically altered the colony’s military position, which had previously been so precarious. At last the towns could be defended by suitable garrisons, and forts built to block the Richelieu, the traditional path of the Iroquois. Enthusiasm was such that numerous Canadians volunteered to provide support to the Carignan-Salières Regiment. In just a few weeks, the small French colony, which had been huddling defensively for a quarter of a century, changed its outlook from that of besieged to that of aggressor. A new tactic of attacking the Iroquois in their own villages emerged.