The Revolt of Pontiac and the American Invasion

The Military Reputation of Canadians

Insurmountable Legal and Political Problems

British soldier in winter dress, 1765-1783

Caption: British soldier in winter dress, 1765-1783

Soon after his arrival, Guy Carleton, who succeeded Murray as Governor of Canada in 1766, also recommended the raising of one or two regiments of Canadians. He even used statistics to support his case, noting the large number of officers of various ranks who were suitable to serve, from among the "French Noblesse in the Province of Quebec" 32 - i.e., 51, of whom 10 were captains. To rally the gentlemen of the colony for England, Carleton maintained that these men ought to be given officers' commissions in a new regular colonial regiment, and even be given a few commissions in the British army.

London refused again, claiming this time that there was an insurmountable problem, both legal and political. Under English law, Catholics could not hold official positions in the kingdom. It was therefore impossible to commission Canadian officers in the regular armed forces. There was a risk that the situation could degenerate at any time, although the Canadians, still weakened and ruined by the invasion of their country, did not for the moment show open hostility to the British. But what would happen in the future if their discontent were to grow? Of the 18,000 Canadians able to bear arms, most had already fought and were more familiar with guerilla tactics than the regular soldiers were; in addition, they were outstanding shots and excellent militiamen. A population as militarized as this was unprecedented, in both Europe and the other colonies. If a serious conflict were to arise with the Canadians, it would require not two British regiments in garrison in the St. Lawrence Valley, but a dozen!