French Military in Canada

French Military in Canada:

An Overview Of French Forces During The French & Indian War

 By Joe Wagner

The content of this article goes somewhat afield from the typical Revolutionary War focus, but it is relevant enough to the reenactor experience in several ways to merit a look.  First of all, the history of the French military in Canada influenced military developments to the south in the English colonies, along with the obvious English models, from the French & Indian (F & I) War leading up to the Revolution.   It was, after all, against those French forces that our senior officers and statesmen, from Washington on down, fought two decades before our Revolution. Also, the military traditions of France, as exhibited in North America during the F & I War, give insights into the next generation of French forces who shared our War of Independence, as well as their influence on our own uniform, weapons, drill, etc.   Lastly, since any biography of George Washington or other Revolutionary leaders includes their early interactions with the French during both the F&I war as well as their collaboration during the Revolution, that knowledge is broadened by this background information.

Not the least interesting aspect of this research are the sources, which include an English  translation of a mid 20th century historical analysis by the Montreal Military Museum (La Societe du Musee Militaire & Maritime de Montreal),   and a 1759 French Army publication, “Etat Militaire de France”, which, among other things, listed all of the regiments then serving in North America, along with their organizational structure, uniform details, names of their officers, operational experiences, and where they were serving.  Four years earlier, in May 1755, was published a third piece of source material – “Exercice de L’Infantrie Francoise”.  This 80 page manual is a gold mine of period information on French drill, equipment, commands, and movements, as well as very detailed verbal explanation, in French and English, of each drill movement.  The detail of description and the quality of the engraved plates is outstanding.