The Compagnies Franches de la Marine of Canada

Dominance Of Raid Warfare

Training in a New School

Thereafter the tactics of Canadian warfare would be refined but not fundamentally altered. At the end of the seventeenth century, regular soldiers, accustomed to living in forts, often proved unable to withstand the harsh physical demands of such expeditions as well as Amerindians and Canadian militiamen could. The wars against the Foxes in the west provided them with an opportunity to gradually grow accustomed to this kind of warfare, and the most experienced of them eventually served as cadres for militiamen. The raids also provided training. Often, small groups of eight to ten men - almost always the allied Amerindians - would decide on their own to conduct a few surprise attacks in the frontier regions. These actions added to the pressure maintained on the American colonies. In little more than ten years, the war was thus largely transferred from the settlements of New France to those of New England. This reversal in the situation was due to the tactics developed by the Canadians.

The Compagnies franches de la Marine played a large part in the development of this innovative war strategy, due largely to their practice of recruiting officers from the colony. Because they belonged to these troops and enjoyed a military status and the support this brought, these officers could ponder the problems of waging war in their own environment and propose solutions to improve the effectiveness of the fighting forces.