The Military Empire

Canadian Tactics In Louisiana

Successes For the Canadian Way of War

Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil, second baron de Longeuil, circa 1750

Caption: Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil, second baron de Longeuil, circa 1750

In 1739 and 1740, the superiority of the tactics of the Navy troops from Canada over those customary in Europe was again brilliantly demonstrated in Louisiana. The Chickasaw nation, under English influence, was at war with the French. It was therefore decided in France to send an expeditionary corps of 600 men. Unfortunately, these forces were led as if on a European campaign. They moved ponderously, while the Chickasaws were highly elusive or waited, well hidden, in their distant fortified villages. By early 1740, many soldiers had also died of illness, and Sieur de Noailles, who was commanding the expedition, felt compelled to retreat.

The Minister of the Navy had asked the governor general of New France to send a military expedition from Canada to join that of Sieur de Noailles. Accordingly, a force of 442 men, including 319 Amerindian allies, left Montreal in July 1739 headed for Louisiana, under the command of the Baron de Longueuil. 137 Another party from Michilimackinac, led by Captain Pierre-Joseph Céloron de Blainville, joined it and the entire contingent descended the Mississippi together. They joined the French troops in early January 1740, north of the present city of Memphis, Tennessee. The French expeditionary forces spoke of withdrawing, but Captain de Blainville, with about 100 Canadian soldiers and militiamen and 200 Iroquois and Chactas allies, marched resolutely toward the enemy villages. They attacked vigorously, leaving the Chickasaws no other choice but to sue for peace, to which he agreed. French military honour was saved, and the expeditionary forces returned to their respective bases, some to France and some in Canada.