Soldiers of the Atlantic Seaboard

The 1740s

A Flawed Strength?

Sergeant and private soldier of the régiment suisse de Karrer

Caption: Sergeant and private soldier of the régiment suisse de Karrer

Although the Louisbourg garrison was generally between 30 and 40 soldiers short, it reached its maximum complement in 1741, with 70 men per company in each of the eight Compagnies franches de la Marine and 150 officers and soldiers in the Karrer Regiment. The large number of artillery pieces on the fortifications eventually required a corps of specialized troops. Therefore, in 1743, Île Royale was authorized to form the first artillery unit in the history of the French colonial army. It was called the Compagnie de canonniers-bombardiers, and initially numbered 30 men.

In May 1744, shortly after the outbreak of the War of Austrian Succession, these troops had an opportunity to prove what they could do, following a long period of inaction. A mixed detachment of French and Swiss soldiers captured the English port of Canso, which was garrisoned by a few companies of the 40th Regiment. In August of the same year, they made a rather feeble attempt to take Annapolis, but were repulsed by the English.

Additional Images

Men of the Compagnie des canonniers-bombardiers of Canada move an artillery piece into place
Panoramic view of Louisbourg in August 1744
View of the port and town of Louisbourg in August 1744