Monday, September 27, 2010

Canadian Volunteers (1775)

Canadian volunteers participated in every skirmish and battle of the American invasion of Canada. Some fought for the British, others for the Americans. Inevitably, Canadians were sometimes on opposite sides of the same fight.

The British and Americans tended to obtain their support from somewhat different groups.

The British generally had the support of the principal persons in French Canadian society, including the seigneurs. This segment of society furnished for the British a number of experienced veterans of the French and Indian War (e.g., Joseph-Dominique-Emmanuel Le Moyne de Longueuil, François-Marie Picoté de Belestre, Luc de La Corne), as well as some talented, junior officers (e.g., Claude-Nicolas-Guillaume de Lorimier, David Monin).

Ironically, British Canadian elites were more divided in their loyalties, and some became prominent figures in the American cause (e.g., James Livingston, Moses Hazen).

The Canadian habitants were broadly sympathetic to the American cause, and the British had only mixed success bringing the Canadian militia into the field. The Americans could not provide the pro-American Canadians with arms, ammunition, or pay; nevertheless several hundred habitants took the field on the Americans' behalf in the Richelieu River valley.

The principal military actions at which Canadian volunteers were present are listed below:

  • Siege of Fort Saint-Jean (fought on both sides)
  • Bombardment of Fort Chambly (fought with the Americans)
  • Battle of Longue-Pointe (fought on both sides)
  • Battle of Longueuil (fought with the British)
  • Capture of a British Flotilla at Sorel (fought with the Americans)
  • Siege of Quebec (fought on both sides)

The image below, by von Germann, shows a Canadian habitant wearing a hooded capote (or blanket coat), tied up with ribbons, and with a brightly-colored sash worn about the waist

This image was one source of inspiration for the 15mm miniatures I painted below. These figures are made by Minifigs for the French and Indian War, but the dress is more-or-less appropriate for the Revolutionary War. The hoods are not visible on these miniatures; rather, each is wearing a woolen tuque.

Without a lot of guidance on the dress of the Canadian habitant, I let my imagination run free a bit with these figures. Guiding principles were that the figures should be colorful in appearance, yet also warlike and grim.

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