Saturday, 7 June 2014

Soldiers and the Militia – New France

Original post date: 2 Jun 2014

Military Week - 1
My children’s ancestor, Louis Guimont, came to New France full of youthful exuberance and hope for a bright future. He took a wife with whom he had 4 children, worked off his contract for the Juchereau family, and took up residence on the Cote de Beaupré.
Life was good. Until…
In 1661 the Iroquois launched a massive attack against Île d’Orléans and the towns of Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Tadoussac and Quebec City. Nearly 100 people, both French colonists and Algonquin, were slaughtered. At 8 o’clock on the morning of 18 June 1661, accompanied by spine-chilling war cries, the Iroquois raided the Cote de Beaupré and while many settlers were massacred, some were taken away and tortured.  One of these was Louis Guimont.  During his many days of torture Louis could not stop praying to God.  This so enraged the Iroquois that they did their worst and he died a horrible death.
Finally in 1665 the Carignan-Salières Regiment arrived in New France as reinforcements to help with the threat of the Iroquois. When this was accomplished the soldiers were encouraged to stay and help colonize. This was the beginning of the first permanent Canadian Military. There was a peace of sorts for 20 years.
In May 1689 England and France declared war, unbeknownst to the colonists in New France.  But the British in the US told the Iroquois, who decided it was a good time to get back at their enemies.  At dawn on August 5th, during a terrible storm, the Iroquois attacked the settlement at Lachine and my friend’s ancestor, Pierre Maupetit dit Poitvin, quickly sent his wife and children to the fort for safety while he tried to help his friends and neighbours. Men, women and children were massacred or taken prisoner and killed at leisure, among them Pierre Maupetit. 56 of the 77 houses were burned to the ground. It was not until 1694 that the people went back there to survey the aftermath, take count, and find the dead that had been quickly buried, and give them a proper burial at the cemetery of St-Anges Gardiens.

In Canada before 1850 it was obligatory for a man between 16 and 50 (or 60) to join the Militia. They also had to attend training at least once a year for which they were paid a small amount of money. Militia Captains could read and write, were well respected, and served under the Intendant, who was like the colonial judge and finance minister in one. They also settled disputes within their community, and got the best pew in their church. Search community histories, and the Pistard at the Banq website for your ancestors that were in the Militia.  
Relevant Links:

Historic Tales of Old Quebec (+ Massacre of Guimont and others)
The Carignan-Salières Regiment (on Wayback machine - 9 images)

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