Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada
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Glossary

Select a letter to browse an alphabetical listing of terms and definitions.

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Raid

Attack with a specific objective, carried out by a small party of men and often at night. A raiding party would withdraw after achieving its objectives. This type of tactic has always been used by North American Indians. In the late 17th century, Canadian-born officers in the French colonial troops, notably Hertel de La Fresniere, and Candian militiamen developed the concept of a raid into a tactical doctrine by adding a flexible version European military discipline and command structure. This gave them unrivalled superiority over any enemy in a wilderness warfare context. After 1760, it was also used against American forces by Loyalist raiders, such as Butlerís Rangers, during the American Revolution and allied Indians with the Indian department during the War of 1812. Because of their native heritage, Canadians soldiers have always liked the special challenges of raid warfare. In the First World War, Canadian Expeditionary Force parties regularly raided enemy trenches in order to harass the enemy and gather information about their defences and strength, activities for which Canadians became renowned on the Western Front.

Rangers

Armed men assigned to patrol or "range" an area, the term appears as early as the 14th century in England. Rangers were eventually recognized as men familiar with wilderness ways and who ranged very deeply into enemy terrirory to mount raids and gather intelligence. They date from the late 17th century in Massachusetts and in many other colonies from the middle of the 18th century. The first rangers garrisoned in Canada were "Goreham's Rangers" which served in Nova Scotia from 1744. Other notable Canadian ranger units include Butler's Rangers during the American War of Independence and Caldwell's Western Rangers during the War of 1812.

See also: Canadian Rangers, Pacific Coast Militia Rangers

Rank

Military command hierarchy. Rank in military forces is clearly defined and indicated from private soldier to general in an army, seaman to admiral in a naval force and airman to air marshal in an air force. Rank in Canada has followed closely the structures used in France from the 17th century and in Britain after 1760.

Red Cross

Organization that grew out of the 1864 Geneva Convention. Franceís was formed in 1864, Britainís in 1870 and the USA in 1881. Henri Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross, simply reversed the national flag colours of his native Switzerland to create the famous emblem of the Red Cross; a red cross on a white field (since joined by the Red Crescent in Muslim countries). First use of the badge in a Canadian campaign was during the 1885 North-West Rebellion.

See also: Geneva Convention, Prisoner of War

Redoubt

Very strong, or strongest part of a fortification. It is usually the most fortified area, able to withstand enemy assaults even when other areas have fallen. In a fortress, the citadel acts as the ultimate redoubt. In campaign field fortifications, it is a fieldwork, usually square or polygonal and with outflanking defences.