The Revolt of Pontiac and the American Invasion

The German Presence

Good Relations With the Canadians

Sapper, Brunswick Infanterie-Regiment von Riedesel, 1776-1777

Caption: Sapper, Brunswick Infanterie-Regiment von Riedesel, 1776-1777

In such a context, the inclusion of many Germans in the garrison of regular troops at the time may be considered to have been providential. The German soldiers got along well with the French-Canadian population and most of their officers understood French better than English. Their administrative correspondence was usually written in French or German. One of them wrote that the Canadians were "very good people, serious, attractive and very upright. Once won over, their friendship was boundless.... No nation could support so much effort, work and fatigue with such patience." 49 The Canadians, for their part, appreciated the order and discipline of the German troops. At Kamouraska, for example, the excellent deportment of a detachment of the Anhalt-Zerbst Regiment won the full approval of the militia captains.

Most of the German troops were stationed at Sorel. They consisted primarily of Brunswick regiments and battalions under the command of General von Riedesel, part of which remained in garrison during the 1777 campaign. The following year, the German soldiers captured by the Americans were exchanged and returned to Canada. With the exception of the Prinz Friedrich Regiment, all infantrymen, dragoons and light infantrymen were incorporated into the Ehrenbrook Battalion and the von Barner Regiment in the fall of 1778, for a total of 2,000 men, excluding the approximately 800 Hesse-Hanau infantrymen, light infantrymen and artillerymen. In addition, the 600- to 700-strong Anhalt-Zerbst Regiment arrived in May 1778 to be assigned the task of guarding Quebec and its surroundings. Standing guard on the ramparts, they must have evoked in many Canadians memories of the French, because, instead of the usual blue of German soldiers, these wore an attractive white uniform with scarlet lapels, cuffs and collar. The German regiments totalled 3,200 men at the time, half the regular troops in garrison in the St. Lawrence Valley.

Additional Images

Drummer, Brunswick Infanterie-Regiment von Specht, 1776-1777