Soldiers of the Atlantic Seaboard

The Defence of Ile Royale

Composition of the Garrison

The French sent some 3,000 soldiers and recruits to Île Royale between 1714 and 1755, but even so, the Compagnies franches de la Marine garrisoned there were generally below strength. The number of soldiers per company rose from 50 in 1713 to 60 (in theory) in 1723. However, the garrison was 50 soldiers short in 1719, and almost 100 short two years later. In order to bolster the garrison, a royal decree dated May 12, 1722 ordered that a detachment of 50 officers and soldiers from Karrer's Swiss Regiment be sent to Louisbourg.

This regiment was created on December 15, 1719 when King Louis XV granted François-Adam Karrer, an officer from Soleure, Switzerland who was a veteran of Swiss regiments in the service of France, the right to recruit a corps of three companies numbering 200 men each. All Swiss regiments raised under a contract (called a capitulation) between the king and their colonels enjoyed a certain amount of independence in regard to their management and military justice. Under the terms of such agreements, the colonels who owned the regiments rented them to the king at a certain price covering the pay of the mercenary soldiers and officers, their weapons and clothing, as well as a profit. The regiments bore the names of their colonels and all the officers had to be Swiss. The nationality of the soldiers did not matter much, as long as they were recruited by Swiss. Therefore, there were Germans, Eastern Europeans, and Scandinavians among them, some Protestant and some not. However, all foreign regiments in the service of France were strictly forbidden to recruit "French soldiers," as the Prince of Bourbon had to "explain" 129 to Colonel Karrer, who was caught red-handed enlisting Frenchmen in 1723. These troops wore red uniforms and had the right to carry sabres, the weapon of elite infantrymen.