In 1665, the famous Carignan-Salieres Regiment arrives in New France. This force of 1,200 men was sent to save the colony which was barely trying to survive under the constant pressure from the Iroquois.
The Carignan-Salieres Regiment was called to tackle the problem and bring an end to the war that was undermining Canada, hampering trade and limiting settlement. The first French regular troops in Canada came between June and September 1665, under the leadership of Lt. General Alexander de Prouville, Sieur de Tracy.
The Iroquois menace was by no means the sole reason for the decline of New France (financial problems, hard winters and lack of immigrants must be quoted as some of the other reasons), but it contributed significantly to the climate of insecurity. Although the local militia was established in Quebec city, Trois-Rivieres and Montreal (this force comprised most of the men old enough to bear arms), these men were unable to put an end to the threat.
Thus, when King of France Louis XIV answered the constant plea for help and sent 1,200 soldiers, the relief for the colony of 2,500 inhabitants was obvious. The first counterattack in Iroquois country focused on the Mohawks, one of the groups of the League of the five Nations that had engages in the fiercest battles against the French.
The first “punishment expedition”, in 1666, however, was a failure, as the soldiers didn’t even find the Indians (actually, they burned down a few abandoned camps or villages). But in 1667, the second vigorous campaign forced the chiefs of the Mohawks to sue for peace. The respite lasted from 1667 to 1684. Even more, some of the Mohawks tribes sought alliance with the French.
These pro-French fractions have always been reluctant to fight New France, so they joined the colony at the first opportunity. The Carignan-Salieres Regiment establishes a series of forts along the Richelieu River.
The plans included the permanent settlement of many of the soldiers and officers in Canada, thus over 450 of the troops remained in the colony, many of whom married the local girls or the newly arrived immigrants.
Nowadays, many Quebeckers of French Canadian descent claim one or more of these brave soldiers as ancestors, who paved the way for growth and prosperity of New France.
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