Carignan Soldiers

Carignan Soldiers or Soldat Carignan

In 1665 King Louis XVI ordered the Carignan-Salieres Regiment to Canada to help save the Royal Colony from destruction at the hands of the Iroquois. Between June and September 1665, some twenty-four companies of 1200 soldiers and their officers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment arrived in Quebec, under the leadership of Lt. General Alexander de Prouville, Sieur de Tracy. Launched almost immediately upon arrival to attack the Indians in the dead of winter, the regiment was almost destroyed. Within months though it had stabilized the French situation and ensured the survival of the colony. Following their service, many members of the Regiment stayed on in Canada. The Carignan-Salieres Regiment was the first regular military unit to serve in Canada.

The 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, led to a long period of peace for the colony, which permitted it to prosper. However, King Louis XIV's plan included the permanent settlement of many of the soldiers and officers in Canada.

Over 400 soldiers and officers decided to remain in New France when the regiment was recalled to France. Many of the soldiers married the newly arrived filles du roi. Most French Canadians have several ancestors who served in the Carignan-Salières Regiment.

The Carignan-Salières Regiment was one of the first to wear a uniform in the French army. The uniform was brown with a gray lining that was visible in the upturned sleeves, forming a decorative facing. Buff-coloured and black ribbons decorated the hat and right shoulder, in accordance with the style of the time. An image of a Carignan soldier in uniform may be found at http://www.cmhg.gc.ca/cmh/en/image_70.asp?flash=1&page_id=49. The soldiers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment carried matchlock and flintlock muskets with bayonets, a novelty of the era. They left their pikes in France, since they were of little use against the Iroquois, but they all carried swords.

At that time, army was made of volunteers. During recruitment, the only condition for the soldiers-to-be was to stand at least five feet three inches tall.

A list of the soldiers of the Régiment de Carignan-Salières, taken in 1668, can be found on Michel Robert's site at http://www.geocities.com/~carignan/03_rollcarignan/E3rollcarignan.html. The document reproduced on the microfilm is a hand written list of the militaries who decided to stay in Canada in 1668 at the end of their three-year engagement. The original list was likely prepared for discharge and accounting purpose, as each soldier who decided to establish himself in Canada was given a monetary bonus by the king. The names on the list are mostly "dit" names. The term "dit" is the equivalent of "also known as" (a.k.a.) in English.These were the nicknames, or nickname or nom de guerre, given to the recruits at the time of hazing and were the only names used officially for soldiers while in the army. Only the officers down to enspassade level kept their real names. This is still practiced in the Foreign Legion of France.

For more information about the Carignan Soldiers or Soldat Carigna, look at the following sites: