The Canadian Sedentary Volunteer Militia, History In Brief, 1759-1808.

S.V.P. This is a first draft on your typical mainstream historian status quo account, with Author’s narrative, footnotes at the end, in brief.
Allow me to digress: On the mergence of an uprising, invasion, rebellion, raid, or war, Canada’s Militia Battalions, Regiments were funded, raised in large numbers by the governing body, overwhelmingly praised for their courage by the masses in one then both Provinces and later in the Dominion of Canada. Once the conflict diminished, ignored while discarded as waste of public monetary funs, an absurdity of ridicule, a Joke voiced by news papers, provincial, city officials, parliament and Canada’s Government. By amending, tabling new bills for reading and passing new Acts, hastily disbanded the old regiments, militia battalions, Coy’s, in order to release strain on the Government coffers, created a smaller paid and volunteer militia force in 1855, of 5000 all ranks. The Government’s shallow pockets, knowing public privet interest, donations would materialize, in 1856 created an unpaid volunteer militia of 10,000 Rank and file. Taking into consideration officers paid for their commissions, an amount set on rank. A Governmental status quo, perpetuated with Canada’s militia since pre war 1812 or post “Trent Affair.” Historical accounts are clear, public monetary donations consisted largely in maintaining the militias more then Government’s contribution. Financial support from individuals of high stature, Officers, merchants, bank, companies, the upper and bas Canada, “Chieftains” or “The Clique” “Chateau Clique.” The Québec Government and Militia have always marched to the beat of their own drum, functioning independently from the rest of Canada when it suited her needs even in 2014. However the militia act or amendments authorised by Upper Canada weren’t completely upheld by Bas Canada owing to documents, Militia registries I uncovered in Québec, Montréal archives, historical accounts, privet collections. Though the act of 1855-56 till 59 raised independent Coy’s, with the exception of the Montreal Light Infantry, the first duly authorised Battalion in the 1856 Act. Both Bas-Canada cities, with surrounding rural areas authorised by GO Sedentary Militia battalions, regiments from 1840-1862, registries published by Lt.-Col. A. de Salaberry, Deputy Adjutant-General of the Militia Office of Lower Canada.


The Governor in June 1759 divided Nouvelle France into three districts: Ville de Québec, Trois-Rivières et Montréal according to historical recycled accounts, who was this Governor?[1]

“In 1759 Monckton, who had succeeded to the command of the British forces at Québec, was ordered south for his health, and, before leaving, appointed Murray, the next senior brigadier, military governor of Québec, with Burton as lieutenant-governor, until the king’s pleasure should be known. Murray had already been acting as governor of Québec for nearly a year, when, after the capitulation of Montreal, Amherst, the British commander-in-chief in North America, issued a placard setting up two new districts, Three Rivers and Montreal, and appointing as governors in them respectively Burton and Gage. The net result of this action was to divide Canada, for the purposes of military government, into three districts corresponding to the judicial districts under French rule. But the difference in date and source of the appointments of Murray, on the one hand, and Burton and Gage, on the other, was reflected in the type of military rule set up in their several districts. Murray, who had already made his arrangements for the government of the district of Quebec, was not bound by the terms of Amherst’s instructions to Burton and Gage; and consequently the military government of Quebec differed radically from that of Three Rivers and Montreal.[2] Just 15 minutes after the battle on the Plains of Abraham had begun, the French line had crumbled. Even though the French vastly outnumbered the British, the Governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, decided they would not fight again the next day. Uncoordinated French troops start shooting at their enemy on the Plains of Abraham. They are quickly defeated, and retreat within 15 minutes, after the British fire across a line a mile wide, with the power of double-loaded muskets, followed by a full British bayonet advance. The battle lasted no more than 15 minutes. From the television series After the conquest, a new Canada slowly took shape. The Canadian militia returned to their villages and farms. 500 French soldiers, married to Canadian women, were allowed to stay. 3000 British troops remained in Québec. Bigot was put in the Bastille for corruption, and died in exile in 1778. Governor Vaudreuil was arrested for his role in the colony’s loss. General James Wolfe became a virtual industry in death, as biographies, ballads, epic poems, and paintings of him abounded.[3]


La Milice du District de Montréal, carried a reputation of an efficient unit, composing of fur traders, that were Voyageurs. This Militia was trained mostly for ambush tactics in the woods, or “Hit & Run” an old Huron, Algonkin, Mohawk warrior tactic, earning them the nickname “Wolves” by other militia districts. In 1759, 5,455 militiamen were mobilized, including 4,200 who’re dispatched to Québec for the siege, positioned on the Beauport Flats. The Cavalry Corps, established in June 1759, comprised of 200 cavalrymen under the leadership de Cinq Canadien, divided into two companies.


The Québec Act of 1774 & Invasion of Canada, 1775.

The Québec Act of 1774 extended Quebec’s boundaries to the Ohio River, shutting out the claims of the “13 Colonies.” By then, however the Americans had little regard for new laws from London; they were drilling militia and organizing for war.[4] The Americans had fought hard in the French and Indian War, and now they were angry that the losers (the French in Quebec) were given all the rewards including lands belonging to the 13 colonies.[5] The act had wide-ranging effects, in Quebec itself, as well as in the Thirteen Colonies. In Quebec, English-speaking immigrants from Britain and the southern colonies objected to a variety of its provisions, which they saw as a removal of certain political freedoms. Canadiens varied in their reaction; the land-owning seigneurs and clergy were generally happy with its provisions although the populace resented their loss of liberties.[6][7] The Act defined the structure of the provincial government. The governor was to be appointed by the Crown, and he was to govern with the assistance of a legislative council; there were no provisions for an elected legislative assembly.[8]


The British government responded by passing several Acts which came to be known as the Intolerable Acts. Consisted of four laws enacted by the British parliament; the first was the Massachusetts Government Act, which altered the Massachusetts charter and restricted town meetings. The second Act, the Administration of Justice Act, ordered that all British soldiers to be tried were to be arraigned in Britain, not in the colonies. The third Act was the Boston Port Act, which closed the port of Boston until the British had been compensated for the tea lost in the Boston Tea Party. The fourth Act was the Quartering Acts of 1774, which allowed royal governors to house British troops in the homes of citizens without requiring permission of the owner. Following the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775, the Patriots had control of most of Massachusetts; the Loyalists suddenly found themselves on the defensive. In all 13 colonies, Patriots had overthrown their existing governments, closing courts and driving British governors, agents and supporters from their homes. They had elected conventions and “legislatures” that existed outside of any legal framework; new constitutions were used in each state to supersede royal charters. They declared they were states now, not colonies.[10]


The Invasion of Canada in Montreal and Quebec City by the Americans in June 1775, objective of the campaign was to gain military control of the British Province of Quebec, and convince the French-speaking Canadiens to join the revolution on the side of the Thirteen Colonies. Schuyler American force of 1200 men departed Fort Ticonderoga in late August towards Fort St. Johns the main defensive point south of Montreal.[11] Following this first skirmish, General Schuyler became too ill to continue, so he turned command over to Montgomery. Schuyler left for Fort Ticonderoga several days later.[12] After another false start, and the arrival of another 800–1000 men from Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York, as well as some of the Green Mountain Boys,[13] Montgomery finally began besieging Fort St. Johns on September 17, cutting off its communications with Montreal and capturing supplies intended for the fort. Ethan Allen was captured the following week in the Battle of Longue-Pointe, when, overstepping instructions to merely raise local militia, he attempted to take Montreal with a small force of men.[14] This event resulted in a brief upturn in militia support for the British; but the effects were relatively short-lived, with many deserting again in the following days.[15] After an attempt by General Carleton to relieve the siege failed on October 30, the fort finally surrendered on November 3rd. After the fort was captured in November, Montreal fell without any significant fighting on November 13, as Carleton, deciding that the city was indefensible (and having suffered significant militia desertion upon the news of the fall of St. Johns), withdrew.[16] Carleton abandoned Montreal, fleeing to Quebec City, and Montgomery took control of the city before heading for Quebec. On December 2, Montgomery finally came down the river from Montreal with 500 troops, bringing captured British supplies and winter clothing. The two forces united, and plans were made for an attack on the city.[17] Three days later the Continental Army again stood on the Plains of Abraham and began to besiege the city of Quebec.[18]


Montgomery joined Arnold, who had left Cambridge in early September on an arduous trek through the wilderness that left his surviving troops starving and lacking in many supplies and equipment. And James Livingston in an assault on Quebec City during a snowstorm on December 31, 1775. The Americans were soundly defeated by Carleton, Montgomery was killed, Arnold was wounded, and many men were taken prisoner, including Daniel Morgan. [19] The battle was a disastrous defeat for the Americans, and the city’s defenders suffered few casualties. Carleton chose not to pursue the Americans, await reinforcements to arrive when the river thawed in the spring. Arnold maintained a somewhat ineffectual siege over the city, until March 1776, when he was ordered to Montreal and replaced by General Wooster. During these months, the besieging army suffered from difficult winter conditions, and smallpox began to travel more significantly through the camp. These losses were offset by the arrival each month of small companies of reinforcements.[20] On March 14, Jean-Baptiste Chasseur, a miller living downstream from the city, entered Quebec and informed Carleton that there were 200 men on the south side of the river ready to act against the Americans.[21] These men and more were mobilized, but an advance force was defeated in the Battle of Saint-Pierre by a detachment of pro-American local militia that were stationed on the south side of the river.[22]


The American Congress, even before it learned of the defeat at Quebec, had authorized as many as 6,500 additional troops for service there.[23] Throughout the winter, troops trickled into Montreal and the camp outside Quebec City. By the end of March, the besieging army had grown to almost 3,000, although almost one quarter of these were unfit for service, mainly due to smallpox. Furthermore, James Livingston and Moses Hazen, commanding the 500 Canadians in the army, were pessimistic about the loyalty of their men and the cooperation of the population due to persistent Loyalist propaganda.[24]

During the winter months, small companies of men from hastily recruited regiments in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut made their way north to supplement the Continental garrisons at Quebec and Montreal.[25] The presence of disease in the camp outside Quebec, especially smallpox, took a significant toll on the besiegers, as did a general lack of provisions.[26]


In early April, Arnold was replaced by General Wooster, who was himself replaced in late April by General John Thomas.[27] When General Thomas arrived, the conditions in the camp led him to conclude that the siege was impossible to maintain, and he began preparing to retreat. The arrival on May 6 of a small British fleet carrying 200 regulars (the vanguard of a much larger invasion force), accelerated the American preparations to depart. precipitating the Americans’ retreat to Sorel. The retreat was turned into a near rout when Carleton marched these fresh forces, along with most of his existing garrison, out of the city to face the disorganized Americans.[28] Captain Charles Douglas had arrived to relieve Quebec with supplies and 3,000 troops.[29] The American forces, ravaged by smallpox (which claimed General Thomas during the retreat), eventually retreated all the way back to Fort Ticonderoga.[30] Carleton then launched a counteroffensive to regain the forts on Lake Champlain. Although he successfully defeated the American fleet in the Battle of Valcour Island and regained control of the lake, the rear guard defence managed by Benedict Arnold prevented further action to capture Ticonderoga or Crown Point in 1776.[31]


Early on June 14, Carleton finally sailed his army up the river to Sorel. Arriving late in the day, they discovered that the Americans had abandoned Sorel just that morning, and were retreating up the Richelieu River valley toward Chambly and St. Johns. Unlike the departure from Quebec City, the Americans left in a somewhat orderly manner, although some units were separated from the main force by the arrival of Carleton’s fleet, and were forced to march to Montreal to join Arnold’s forces.[32] Carleton directed General Burgoyne and 4,000 troops to move up the Richelieu after the retreating Americans, while Carleton continued sailing toward Montreal.[33] Between May 6 and June 1, 1776, nearly 40 British ships arrived at Quebec City.[34] They carried more than 9,000 soldiers under command of General John Burgoyne, including 4,000 German soldiers; so-called Hessians from Brunswick and Hanau under the command of Baron Friedrich Adolf Riedesel.[35] These forces, some of which having participated in Carleton’s counteroffensive, spent the winter of 76–77 in the province, putting a significant strain on the population, which numbered only about 80,000.[36] Many of these troops were deployed in 1777 for Burgoyne’s campaign for the Hudson Valley.[37]


On June 13th, 1787, Lord Dorchester wrote to Lord Sydney announcing the passing by the Council of “An Act to Regulate the Militia.” The ordinance provided for detachments being embodied for two years; Dorchester would have preferred three. In June 1791, the Constitutional Act of 1791 31 George III Cap. 31 passed, dividing the old colony of Québec into two provinces, Upper and Bas-Canada while providing each with a new constitution. Their Militias were distinct forces under separate staffs and “separate Militia laws.” The Act Loyalist leaders joined forces with British merchants in Montréal and Québec city conspiring against the Québec Act. The Act made no provisions for land tenure, “Seigneurial System” of Nouvelle France which many favoured and expected. A system where Lords were grated parcels of land in the colony. In response to the agitation, Britain divided Quebec into two colonies, Bas and Upper Canada, providing both with a new constitution. Français Bas-Canada; upholding “Le code civil des Français,” the rights of the Catholic Church, while preserving the seigniorial land tenure system. In English Upper Canada, Protestant churches, mostly the Church of England, and English laws and Lord land tenures.


Canada masses owing to fear mongering from newspapers, war profiteers, etc., believed America was up to no good, in preparation of invading. In a knee-jerk reaction the Government passed legislation allowing for the creation of an official local defence force a Montréal by June 1793 militia Act of upper & bas Canada. The Militia Act 1793 passed in the second session of Upper Canada’s First Legislature. The Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe’s planed, “to call out, arm, array and train annually all males aged 16 to 50.” In 1794, owing Simco’s fell short on the required numbers, the max age was increased to 60 years old. The amended Act obligated all ranks to provide at their own expense with a “sufficient musket, fusil, rifle or gun with six rounds of ammunition,” remaining “at the ready” when required and ordered. The Government made changes requiring men to sign a general roll, issuing equipment and arms. With mere oversight in the general roll, some took advantage bartering or selling resulting in changes. Imposing fins for non compliance of the general roll, from 10 to 40 shillings considering on rank; refusal to muster in time of need or required by order, resulted in a fine of 20 to 50 pounds. Failure to pay the fines in the allotted time resulted, with an arrest warrant with six to twelve months of imprisonment.


In 1793, provincial regiments were raised in Montréal and Québec. Disbanded in 1802, replaced 1803 in Bas Canada, at the first session of Parliament the militia laws were renewed. The Government in peace time had overlooked, allowing the Militia act to expire. They authorised a force of service battalions of 1200 max force, all ranks.


In 1808 a new Militia act (48 George III, Chap, 2), was passed, entitled: “An act to explain, amend and reduce to one act of parliament the several laws now in being for the raising and training of the militia of the province.”


Regiments and Units Serving in Canada 1755-1871: APPENDIX D: Reference.


  • [1] Règne militaire au Canada (Mémoire de la Société historique de Montréal, no. 5, Montréal, 1872.
  • [2] Source: W. S. Wallace, ed., “Period of Military Rule,” in The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. IV, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 400p., pp. 288-290.
  • [3]Canada: A People’s History.” Conquered and the Conquers- British Control of Quebec- Battle for a Continent.
  • [4] Nevins, Greene and Pole 1994 chapter 15.
  • [5] Richard B. Drake (2004). p.61.
  • [6] Gerald E. Hart (1891). The Quebec Act 1774. Montreal. p. 12.
  • [7] R. Douglas Francis; Richard Jones; Donald B. Smith (2010). Journeys: A History of Canada (6 ed.). p. 100.
  • [8] The Quebec Act, 1774 14 George III, c. 83 (U.K.).
  • [9] Miller 1943 p. 353–76.
  • [10] Nevins 1927 Greene and Pole 1994 chapter 29.
  • [11] Smith 1907 vol 1 p. 317–324.
  • [12] Smith 1907 p. 335.
  • [13] Smith 1907 p. 361–365.
  • [14] Smith 1907 p. 384.
  • [15] Smith 1907 p. 388-410.
  • [16] Stanley p. 67–70.
  • [17] Alden p. 206.
  • [18] Smith 1907 V2 p. 98.
  • [19] Smith 1907 V2 p. 111–147.
  • [20] Lanctot p. 126.
  • [21] Lanctot p. 130.
  • [22] Lanctot p. 131–132.
  • [23] Nelson p. 167.
  • [24] Lanctot p. 133.
  • [25] Morrissey 2003 p. 25.
  • [26] Lanctot 1967 p. 126.
  • [27] Lanctot 1967 p. 136–142.
  • [28] Fraser 1907 p. 100. Letter from Carleton to Germain dated May 14, 1776.
  • [29] Smith 1907 V2 p. 294–295.
  • [30] Lanctot 1967 p. 141–146.
  • [31] Lanctot 1967 p. 162–163.
  • [32] Stanley p. 129.
  • [33] Stanley p. 130.
  • [34] Nelson 2006 p. 212.
  • [35] Stanley 1973 p. 108,125,129,145.
  • [36] Lanctot 1967 p. 31,144,154,155.
  • [37] Lanctot 1967 p. 164–165.


Spañard 2014.





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