The Conquest

Tensions Among the French Staff

Corruption Causes Hardship

Soldier with regimental colour, régiment de Béarn, circa 1757-1760

Caption: Soldier with regimental colour, régiment de Béarn, circa 1757-1760

Intendant François Bigot's dishonest management of Canadian finances did nothing but accentuate the tensions. Some goods went missing, and there was galloping inflation. The intendant and his acolytes authorized endless spending, some of the money lining the pockets of the Canadian officers responsible for supplying the troops. While speculation allowed a few to a amass fortunes, others saw their salaries dwindle to almost nothing. Although several could rely on family connections and income from their seigneuries to counteract the shortfall, this was not the case for the officers in the regiments that had come from France, who found themselves considerably impoverished by the effects of inflation. Rumours that some Canadian officers were stealing with impunity only increased the bitterness. Following the lead of their general, the French showed profound contempt for their Canadian colleagues, considering them to be not true military men and to fight "like savages." The Canadian officers restricted their relations with them. This attitude hit home, because one of the metropolitan officers noted that he felt he was perceived to be an enemy in Canada.

The non-commissioned officers and soldiers, both colonial and French, were better protected against inflation, because they were accommodated, fed and clothed at the expense of the King. As the war continued and food became scarcer, beef was replaced by horsemeat and rations were cut.