Military Wiki

See also Troupes de Marine for later history of same Corps.

Flag of the Troupes de la Marine

The Troupes de la Marine (Troops of the Navy), also known as independent companies of the navy and colonial regulars,[1] were under the authority of the French Minister of Marine, who was also responsible for the French navy, overseas trade, and French colonies. They were the only regular soldiers in New France from 1682 to 1755, when several army battalions were dispatched to North America.

In the early seventeenth century, Cardinal Richelieu ordered the creation of the Troupes de la Marine to serve aboard French naval vessels. About eighty companies of one hundred men each were formed.[1] The Troupes de la Marine were dispatched by Louis XIV in 1682[2] to replace French regulars in New France, and were used to garrison other French colonies. Initially, the troops that were recruited in France and arrived in Quebec by 1683 were composed of three companies. The number of companies in Canada steadily increased over the years and reached as many as 40 companies by the year 1757.[3] The roughly 30 companies stationed in the territory of Canada gradually developed into the first permanent ‘Canadian’ military force. A company of marines was usually composed of 45 to 65 soldiers, two sergeants, two corporals and one drummer, overseen by a capitaine.[4] The majority of the rank and file soldiers were lower class men recruited in France, although the officers were increasingly Canadian-born and noble. Promotions from soldiers to the officer corps were non-existent and the individual ranks were separated by large pay gaps.[5] Young Canadian-born men were usually admitted into the officer ranks by commissions as cadets or ensigns through the governor.[5] The sons of noblemen or existing officers were usually preferentially selected for positions in the officer corps as well.[5] Cadets constituted a boy or young man who served in a company and was being trained to become an officer in the future.[4] Officers would often exploit the selective nature of admittance to the corps by enrolling their boys sometimes as early as age 5 in order to receive more rations and an extra salary.[4] In 1717, the admission of officers under the age of 14 was prohibited, but the exploitation of the system continued.[4]

Part of a series on the
Military history of
Nova Scotia
Citadel hill.jpg
Battle of Port Royal 1690
Conquest of Acadia 1710
Battle of Jeddore Harbour 1722
Northeast Coast Campaign 1745
Battle of Grand Pré 1747
Dartmouth Massacre 1751
Bay of Fundy Campaign 1755
Fall of Louisbourg 1758
Headquarters established for Royal Navy's North American Station 1758
Burying the Hatchet ceremony 1761
Battle of Fort Cumberland 1776
Raid on Lunenburg 1782
Halifax Impressment Riot 1805
Establishment of New Ireland 1812
Capture of USS Chesapeake 1813
Battle at the Great Redan 1855
Siege of Lucknow 1857
CSS Tallahassee Escape 1861
Departing Halifax for Northwest Rebellion 1885
Departing Halifax for the Boer War 1899
Imprisonment of Leon Trotsky 1917
Jewish Legion formed 1917
Sinking of HMHS Llandovery Castle 1918
Battle of the St. Lawrence 1942–44
Sinking of SS Point Pleasant Park 1945
Halifax VE-Day Riot 1945
Walter Callow Wheelchair Bus established 1947
Notable military regiments
Mi'kmaq militias 1677-1779
Acadian militias 1689-1761
40th Regiment 1717-57
Troupes de la marine 1717-58
Gorham's Rangers 1744-62
Danks' Rangers 1756-62
84th Regiment of Foot 1775-84
Royal Fencible American 1775-83
Royal Nova Scotia Volunteers 1775-83
King's Orange Rangers 1776-83
1st Field Artillery 1791-present
Royal Nova Scotia 1793-1802
Nova Scotia Fencibles 1803-16
The Halifax Rifles (RCAC) 1860-present
The Princess Louise Fusiliers 1867-present
78th Highlanders 1869-71
Cape Breton Highlanders 1871-present
Nova Scotia Rifles 1914-19
No. 2 Construction Battalion 1916-19
West Nova Scotia 1916-present
The Nova Scotia Highlanders 1954-present

Troupes de la Marine

Service in the officer corps of the Troupes de la Marine was an important source of economic opportunity and prestige for New France's elite and there was usually a waiting list for commissions in Marine companies. However, colonial enlistment of rank-and-file soldiers was discouraged because it reduced agricultural settlement.[3] During periods of peace, soldiers received additional pay for their services in the construction of forts and roads.[6] Due to a chronic labor shortage, the colonial regulars were also permitted to increase their pay by rendering their services on local farms.[6] Although the strength of the force varied widely over time, by the French and Indian War, there were some forty companies serving in the St. Lawrence Valley and the Pays d'en Haut, about twenty at Louisbourg,[1] and more in Louisiana and Acadia. Large garrisons were maintained at Quebec, Montreal, and New Orleans, with smaller forces guarding posts to secure the frontiers and supply routes throughout France's vast territories in North America by the eighteenth century. Small detachments of troops were sent to protect the advance trading posts, which were integral to the success of the profitable fur trade in New France.[3]

The companies were considered colonial regulars and were well trained in conventional warfare and became proficient as bush fighters [1] (what today would be called guerrillas or irregulars). In Louisbourg, the canoniers-bombardiers company (artillery company) was established in 1743. Two soldiers were chosen from each company stationed at the Louisbourg Garrison, to be trained by the master gunner at firing and aiming cannons.[7] As a result of their extra training and duties, the canoniers were paid an additional six livres per month in compensation for their inability to earn money in the construction of forts or elsewhere, and were offered cash prizes for good marksmanship.[8] The Louisbourg artillery company was composed of 13 canoniers, 12 bombardiers, one drummer, two corporals and two sergeants, led by a lieutenant and a captain.[8] Along with the Canadian militia and France's Amerindian allies, the Troupes de la Marine were essential to the defence of New France in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. With the arrival of large numbers of British regulars after 1755, the nature of warfare in North America shifted from irregular to conventional European warfare, with particular importance attached to sieges and fortifications. French army battalions were also dispatched to fight in North America after 1755.

During the Seven Years War, the Louisbourg Garrison's residents became prisoners to the British when the fortress fell,[1] and after the conquest of 1760, many settled permanently in the new territory,[1] while others were repatriated to France.[1]

See also


Troupes de la Marine


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Sutherland, Stuart. "Troupes de la Marine", in The Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1988), Volume 4, p.2196.
  2. Sutherland, Stuart. "Troupes de la Marine", in The Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1988), Volume 4, p.2196, says they were created in December 1690.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Greer, Allan. "The Soldiers of Isle Royale, 1720–45" (Environment Canada: 1979), p. 7.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Greer, Allan. "The People of New France" (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), p. 50–51.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Greer, Allan. "The People of New France" (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), p. 51.
  7. Greer, Allan. "The Soldiers of Isle Royale, 1720–45" (Environment Canada: 1979), p. 8.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Greer, Allan. "The Soldiers of Isle Royale, 1720–45" (Environment Canada: 1979), p. 9.


  • Greer, Allan. "The People of New France" (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), pp. 50–51.
  • Greer, Allan. "The Soldiers of Isle Royale, 1720–45" (Environment Canada, 1979), pp. 7–9.
  • Sutherland, Stuart R. J. "Troupes de la Marine", in The Canadian Encyclopedia, Volume 4, p. 2196. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1988.

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