The Revolt of Pontiac and the American Invasion

France and Spain Enter the War

Fears of French Fleets

Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Haldimand, Governor General of Canada, circa 1770

Caption: Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Haldimand, Governor General of Canada, circa 1770

At Halifax, the prospect of a French fleet in the vicinity of the Gulf of St. Lawrence did nothing to inspire confidence. As soon as France entered the war, the British organized an expedition against the small French islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon to neutralize them as a potential naval base. The island garrison, with only 50 soldiers of the Compagnie franche de Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, surrendered in exchange for the honours of war.

In spite of this victory, the British remained on the alert - and not without reason, because the following year they intercepted American dispatches suggesting a French attack against Newfoundland. The alarmed inhabitants of the island raised a colonial regiment to help the small garrison of regular troops stand guard. In 1780 the 350 men of the Newfoundland Regiment were posted to St. John's and Placentia.

The fear of naval raids proved to be well founded when French vessels attacked British convoys en route to North America. At Quebec, Governor Frederick Haldimand was also worried about the consequences of France's entry into the conflict. A declaration by the King of France addressed to Canadians was also circulating covertly; how would they react if a corps of French troops were to land on the shores of the St. Lawrence? As it happened, Haldimand had nothing to fear and the Canadians nothing to hope for from their former motherland, for France had secretly promised the Americans that it would not retake Canada, neither militarily nor by treaty.