My ancestor, Jean Perrier was a member of the Orleans Regiment that went to the West Indies in 1663 under Marquis Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy (c. 1596 or 1603–1670). Tracy was in the West Indies as part of his royal commission to officially establish Louis XIV’s rule of the French colonies, following the King’s takeover of the French territories after the bankruptcy of the Company of 100 Associates in 1663.
After driving out the Dutch from the West Indies in 1664, the Marquis de Tracy was appointed lieutenant-général of New France. Four companies from Martinique in the Antilles under de Tracy joined the Carignan-Salières in New France, arriving in New France on the Brézé on 30 June 1665. The de Prouville companies were attached to, but never formally integrated into, the Carignan-Salières.
The Carignan-Salieres Regiment official list includes: Perrier, Jean; dit LaFleur; other spelling: Parrier; Regiment: La Brisandière.
His wife, Marie Gaillard was a filles du Roi, one of 774 single women sent to New France by King Louis XIV between 1663 and 1673. Most of the millions of people of French Canadian descent today, both in Quebec and the rest of Canada and the USA (and beyond!), are descendants of one or more of these courageous women of the 17th century.
The genealogy listings are:
Perrier, Jean said LaFleur, m. Marie Gaillard, October 6, 1669 Une filles du Roi
Gaillard said Daire, Mary , m. 1. Perrier, Jean-Baptiste said Lafleur, Oct. 6, 1669, m. 2. Sabourin, John, September 22, 1682
The Iroquois attacks were strangling the colony’s fur-based economy and threatening to destroy its tiny settlements. The pleas of the colonists of New France for assistance in their struggle with the Indians were answered by King Louis XIV in 1665 with the arrival of the first French regular troops in Canada, the Carignan-Salières Regiment. Between June and September 1665, some 1200 soldiers and their officers arrived in Quebec.
Over three years, a series of forts established by the Regiment along the Richelieu River, along with the success of its second campaign into the land of the Mohawk Indians, allowed the French to consolidate their foothold on the north shore of the St Lawrence and establish new settlements across the river. This led to a long period of peace for the colony and rebuild the economy to its former prosperity.
King Louis XIV’s plan also included the permanent settlement of many of the soldiers and officers in Canada. Over 450 of these troops remained in the colony, many of whom married the newly arrived filles du roi.
Most persons of French Canadian descent can claim one or more of these brave soldiers as ancestors. In addition to the list of soldiers and officers on the official “roll” of the Regiment, there were many others who participated in the successful campaign against the Iroquois, including many militiamen who resided in the colony but whose names were not recorded for posterity.
Promoted by Abbé Lionel Groulx as a body of chosen men sent to do God’s work, the regiment came to be viewed as an elite corps of Catholic crusaders. In “The Good Regiment”, Jack Verney sets the record straight, revealing that the Carignan-Salières Regiment was not a group of saintly knights but caroused, womanized, and gambled in off hours just like any other infantry regiment.
Formation. The Carignan-Salières was formed from two existing regiments: the Balthasar Regiment, formed during the Thirty Years’ War (became the Salières when Balthasar died in 1665), and the Carignan Regiment, formed in 1644 in Piedmont. Following the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, both regiments avoided disbandment by merging to form the Carignan-Salières Regiment.
New France. In 1664, following the request of the Sovereign Council, the French finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert ordered the Carignan-Salières to reinforce the existing 100 man force in New France. This reinforcement was as much, if not more, motivated by mercantile ambitions than actual cries for help from New France. By now the regiment had been reduced to eight companies of about 400 troops; this was insufficient to meet King Louis XIV’s demand for a large military force. The regiment’s strength was increased to 20 companies and 1000 troops by absorbing 12 other French companies, including those from the Lallier, Chambellé, Poitou, and Broglio regiments. A popular erroneous story in New France was that the regiment had fought in the Austro-Turkish War of 1663–64; the story may have arisen from troops of the 12 new companies, many of whom may have fought in that war.
They were welcomed as saviours, particularly by Mother Marie of the Incarnation, head of the local convent, who wrote of their arrival: “The ships have all arrived, bringing us the rest of the army, along with the most eminent persons whom the king has sent to the aid of the country. They feared they would all perish in the storms they braved on their voyage…we are helping them to understand that this is a holy war, where the only things that matter are the glory of God and the salvation of souls.”
Although Mother Marie viewed them as saviors, modern day scholars like Jack Verney argue that their mission, contrary to what she states, was “a secular rather than sacred one”. Jean-Baptiste Colbert wanted to develop the colony’s economic potential. After requiring that the Company of One Hundred Associates (Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France) relinquish its monopoly on trade in 1663, Louis XIV and his minister finally had the control they needed to develop the colony’s economic potential.
In Montreal, the Sulpician priest, François Dollier de Casson, reacted to the soldiers negatively, saying that “vices which have, in fact, risen and grown here since that time [when the troops arrived], along with many other troubles and misfortunes which had not up to that time made their appearance here”. In Verney’s view, this is a much more realistic account of how the men had “marked their progress along the road to La Rochelle with outbreaks of disorder and indiscipline”.
Caribbean Companies. Marquis Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy (c. 1596 or 1603–1670) After driving out the Dutch from the West Indies in 1664, the Marquis de Tracy was appointed lieutenant-général of New France. The governor was not present, so de Tracy acted as the governor in the Sovereign Council. Four companies under de Tracy joined the Carignan-Salières in New France from Martinique in the Antilles on the Brézé, arriving in New France 30 June 1665. The captains of these companies were La Durantaye (Chambellé), Berthier (L’Allier), La Brisardière (Orléans), Monteil (Poitou). Tracy had been in the West Indies as part of his royal commission to officially establish Louis XIV’s rule of the French colonies, following the King’s takeover of the French territories after the bankruptcy of the Company of 100 Associates. The de Prouville companies were attached to, but never formally integrated into, the Carignan-Salières.
First Campaign. From his base in Quebec City, as Lieutenant General of the Carignan-Salières Regiment, he initiated a brutal war against the Iroquois peoples. After defeating them and destroying their crops and villages, he launched an attack against the Mohawk nation and caused destruction to their territory in central present-day New York. Marquis Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy seized all the Mohawk lands in the name of the king of France. He forced the Mohawk to accept the Roman Catholic faith and to adopt the French language as taught by the Jesuit missionaries. A mission village for Mohawk Catholics, Kahnawake, was set up south of Montreal.
The French troops were at a tactical disadvantage as they were used to the pitched battles regulated by rigid drills commonly used in Continental Europe. Despite the experience of the soldiers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment, their tactics were useless against the hit-and-run tactics used by the Mohawks.
The fighting ended when the burgomaster of Schenectady informed Courcelles that he was in the territory of the Duke of York. The burgomaster implied that if the French chose to stay in the settlement they would be vulnerable to attacks by both Indians and the English units stationed at Schenectady and Albany (less than 25 kilometres away). The French stopped the attack and the burgomaster agreed to provide the men with some provisions for their return journey.
The campaign was ultimately a failure. Nothing was accomplished and the regiment sustained great losses; 400 out of 500 died. Due to the hastiness with which the campaign had been launched and the harshness of the weather, most of the deaths occurred while travelling from and to Fort St. Louis. When Courcelles commanded that the troops were to meet at Fort St. Louis at the end of January, he said that they should be prepared with three weeks worth of provisions. In total, the expedition took a little over five weeks to complete. What is more, the men were ill-equipped—many left the fort without snowshoes—which contributed significantly to the campaign’s death toll.
Second campaign. The regiment’s second and final campaign was led by Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy. The plan was to enter into Mohawk territory, located northwest of Schenectady along what is now the Mohawk River. The necessity of the campaign was created by the declaration of the Second Anglo-Dutch War in the summer of 1666. King Louis XIV wanted de Tracy to lead the men into the same area where they were the last year near Albany and Schenectady. However, it was first necessary for the French to subdue the Mohawks to protect themselves from facing multiple fronts against both the English and Mohawks. In addition, they wanted to ensure that their two opponents would not ally themselves against the French. The destruction of four Mohawk villages was the most important outcome of the venture. However, there was no real fighting as the villages the regiment came across had been abandoned prior to the arrival of the regiment.
The plan was for the regiment to regroup at Fort Sainte Anne on the 28 and push into Mohawk territory on 29 September 1666. The late arriving of several parties meant the regiment left in three separate columns over a period of three days. The number of men available in the campaign was approximately 120 regimental soldiers, habitants and Native warriors. Because de Tracy sought to use the element of surprise and swiftly move into enemy territory, he ordered his soldiers to travel light. Thus, from the beginning of the campaign, the Regiment’s situation was precarious as the soldiers brought insufficient provisions and did not carry the necessary equipment for a lengthy assault. Inclement weather added to the danger of the mission and further threatened the campaign’s success.
As it moved inland, the regiment encountered four Mohawk villages all of which had been abandoned. The fact that the Mohawks abandoned their villages was fortuitous for the regiment since it was not operating at full strength and the soldiers were stretched over a large area. At this point in the campaign, the regiment probably would not have been able to withstand a large-scale attack. What is more, the villages were hastily abandoned thus providing the French troops with a supply of food, tools, weapons, and other provisions. After regrouping at the last of the four villages, Tracy ordered the soldiers to turn around and burn each one as they went, carrying all the loot they could back to Quebec. The Mohawks, though skilled in guerilla fighting, were caught by surprise by the speed of the French attack and were unable to engage the French. On 17 October 1666, the lands and fields surrounding the Mohawk villages were all claimed as French territory and crosses were erected to symbolize that claim. However, the French never returned to the area to enforce this territorial claim.
Despite the fact that the French troops had not directly engaged the Mohawks or the English, the campaign was considered a great success; the French finally assumed a position of tactical superiority over the Mohawk and Iroquois Confederacy which in turn gave the French a diplomatic advantage in the following peace talks.
In July 1667, peace was signed with the Iroquois following a five-day summit. The main objective of the French during the negotiations was to consolidate their control of the fur trade at the expense of the Anglo-Dutch interests in Albany. They sought to do so by placing themselves in a position that allowed them to oversee the traffic of the fur trade in the region. As a result, the French were able to place French-speaking traders as well as Jesuits in a number of Iroquois villages. To ensure the success of this agreement as well as the security of the traders and missionaries, a system of hostages was implemented. Each Iroquois village was required to send two members of a leading family to live among in the St. Lawrence Valley. Following the ratification of the treaties of 1667, the peace was kept in the region for twenty years. The peace treaties of 1667 also signalled the end of the regiment’s operations in New France. Nonetheless, the troops of the Carignan-Salières Regiment were held in duty until another means of protecting New France could be devised.
Religion. Even though the Edict of Nantes in 1598 had allowed French Protestants to live in France, the law was not always observed in the colonies. The king had given huge power to the Jesuit order by making it part of New France’s government. So, when Mgr de Laval discovered the significant numbers of unconfirmed Catholics and even some French Protestants within the ranks of the regiment, drastic measures were taken. Jesuit Father Claude Dablon gave two emergency sermons within five days of the first eight companies landing in New France to reaffirm the relapsed and unconfirmed Catholics in the regiment.
Equipment. The first regulars of the Carignan-Salières were dressed for “efficiency rather than looks”. Additionally, the soldiers were rather poorly equipped during their first year. In the duration of one year, the king had sent only 200 flintlocks as well as 100 pistols for a troop force of over 1,200 men. Below are descriptions of some of the equipment used:
Powder horn: used to store gunpowder for firing their weapons.
Black powder: used to arm and fire the newly issued muskets of the regiment.
Sword: used commonly for hand-to-hand fighting and every soldier had one.
Flintlock musket: became the main weapon of long range fighting for the Carignan-Salières. It replaced the matchlock musket that was common in early years due to its increased reliability and ability to be fired without the use of an external flame. Additionally, it was capable of a much higher rate of fire than the earlier matchlock.
Bayonet: the Carignan-Salières were one of the first regiments to transition to the bayonet, which was introduced in 1647.
Pistol: a standard issue weapon but was not in high-supplies in New France.
Slouch hat: was worn in place of later tricorn hats. It was better at repelling rain and wind from the faces of soldiers.
Uniform: The Carignan-Salières wore brown coats with contrasting colour sleeves. The Carignan-Salières were one of the first French forces to wear uniforms.
Departure and settlement in Canada. With the end to the Iroquois threat, King Louis XIV decided to offer the men of the regiment an opportunity to stay in New France to help increase the population. As incentive, regular officers were offered 100 livres or 50 livres and a year worth of rations. Lieutenants, alternatively, were offered 150 livres or 100 livres and a year worth of rations. Officers were also offered the incentive of large land grants in the forms of seigneuries. This offer was particularly beneficial to such men as Pierre de Saurel, Alexandre Berthier, Antoine Pécaudy de Contrecœur, and François Jarret de Verchères, who were granted large seigneuries in New France.
Although the majority of the regiment returned to France in 1668, about 450 remained behind to settle in Canada. These men were highly encouraged to marry, being offered land as incentive. As a result, most of them did marry newly arriving women to the colony known as Filles du Roi. The largest import of women to New France occurred during the 1660s and early 1670s, largely in response to the need to provide wives for the regiment.
Besides just rewarding Carignan-Salières officers by granting them seigneurial tenures, the tenure properties served an ulterior purpose. The properties granted to Contrecœur and Saurel were placed in strategic areas that could be used as a buffer between invaders both foreign (the British) as well as domestic (the Iroquois). It was believed that the men of the Carignan-Salières would be the colonists best suited to defend the territories of New France, therefore many of them were given properties on the Richelieu river and other areas prone to attack. These Seigneurs would sub grant land to the men of their companies in order to create an even more thoroughly reinforced zone. Saurel’s land would later be known as Sorel-Tracy in Quebec, while Contrecœur’s property would later become a region named after himself.
The French had a practice of allotting noms de guerre – nicknames – to their soldiers (this is still continued, but for different reasons, in the Foreign Legion). Many of these nicknames remain today as they gradually became the official surnames of the many soldiers who elected to remain in Canada when their service expired as well as the names of cities and towns throughout New France.
LES FILLES du ROI – the King’s Daughters
In 1661, the population of New France consisted of about 2,500 souls, most of them men who were having a frightful time defending themselves against recurring attacks by Iroquois. French casualties were high and the settlers discouraged. A decision had to be made to support and defend New France with troops and emigrants or abandon the idea of colonization all together.
To promote the settlement of his colony in Canada, King Louis XIV, in 1662, sent out two ships with a hundred soldiers and nearly two hundred settlers to the colony. The following year, one hundred forty-nine more colonists arrived in Québec, of which thirty-eight were young women of marriagable age known as les Filles du Roi. Most were single French women and many were orphans. These women were the first of approximately 774 who would arrive within the next ten years. Their transportation to Canada and settlement in the colony were paid for by the King. Some were given a royal gift of a dowry of 50 livres for their marriage to one of the many unmarried male colonists in Canada. These gifts are reflected in some of the marriage contracts entered into by the filles du roi at the time of their first marriages.
They were not all saints, but there were more saints than sinners. Some 737 of these women married and the resultant population explosion gave rise to the success of the colony. Most of the millions of people of French Canadian descent today, both in Quebec and the rest of Canada and the USA (and beyond!), are descendants of one or more of these courageous women of the 17th century. It is with their courage and determination that the people known as French Canadians were founded.
Go to “The Society of Daughters of the King and soldiers of the Carignan, Inc., PO Box 220144, Chantilly, VA 20153-6144” for more information.