Canadian Military History Gateway
Resource Type > Image
Date > 1600
Subject > Strategy and Tactics
When Champlain took part in a 1609 Huron expedition against the Iroquois, he began a contest between two ways of warfare that lasted centuries. The combination of armour and firearms was rapidly understood and used to advantage by early French soldiers in Canada. By contrast, the Amerindians evolved furtive tactics and rapid movements which eventually proved to be the best in a wilderness environment.
This early-20th century engraving shows the climax of the legendary 1660 defence of Long-Sault against the Iroquois by Adam Dollard des Ormeaux and his men. One of the French defenders is shown holding a keg of gunpowder above his head. This makeshift bomb would fall back inside the fort and kill much of the garrison.
Until the 1660s, especially in the Montreal area, no one in the French settlements really felt quite safe from surprise attacks by hostile Iroquois warriors. Many Canadian settlers, including women, learned to handle firearms during the 1650s.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, armies did not necessarily travel in ranks and even marching in step was uncommon until the middle of the 18th century. French soldiers of the régiment de Carignan-Salières posted in Canada from 1665 would have a similar appearance when on the move.
When the colony of Massachusetts formed militia regiments in 1637, the new militiamen imitated European organization and tactics as closely as possible. This was a complete contrast with the militiamen in New France. Reconstruction by Don Troiani. (United States National Guard)
This model represents the original Fort Chambly. The original wooden log structure was built in 1665 and was typical of the early forts in Canada.
From 1686 to 1697, Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville et d’Ardillières (1661-1706) took and retook English Hudson’s Bay Company forts and ships in four different expeditions. He is shown here leading one such attack.
When the Château Saint-Louis in Quebec was built, this Cross of Malta was carved in a stone bearing the date 1647. Charles Huault de Montmagny was governor at that time. He was knight of the Order of Malta as was at least one other of his officers in Canada. The stone was found in 1784 during renovations to the governor’s residence and eventually incorporated into a courtyard entrance of the Château Frontenac Hotel.
Construction of this building started in May 1624. The model shows the stone structure with its two corner turrets as it was circa 1625. The habitation was abandoned in 1633 following a fire.
Fort ‘de la Montagne’ (of the mountain) was built in 1685, just a few hundred metres outside of Montreal on the flanks of Mount Royal. The image shows A: the chapel of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges; B: the mission priest's house; C: a pair of turrets also used as a school by the sisters of the Congrégation; D: a barn also to be used as a shelter by women and children during attacks; E: two more turrets; F: an Amerindian village. The turrets marked ‘C’ can still be seen today.