The militia was established
in Canada in 1669 when Louis XIV instructed Governor-General Courcells to
divide the subjects of Canada into companies with regard for their proximity,
and after having divided them to select captains, lieutenants and ensigns
to command them. To issue orders that they assemble once a month to practice
the manual of arms. Care should be taken that they always are well armed and
always have powder, lead and match necessary to use their arms when needed.
All able-bodied men between 16 and 60 were required to participate. They had
no specific uniform.
The parishes were used as the
organization structure for the militia companies. Each parish had a militia
company and the more populated had several. This system endured until the
end of the French regime. Their duties were not only military, but also included
posting and reading of decrees and assisting civil powers such as in the pursuit
of criminals. In wartime, officers of the regular colonial marine troops had
When the militia was called
up, the Governor decided how many men were required. An appeal was made for
volunteers from the various companies to join the expedition. Those who remained
behind cultivated the farms of those who served.
The Canadian militia preferred
using ambush was good marksmen and fought well in entrenchment. They had little
use for European style tactics, but still preformed satisfactory when presented
with this type of engagement. In an attack, they would come out of nowhere,
fire a volley at their enemy and charge with tomahawks in hand. They used
the Indian war whoop to signal the charge and frighten the enemy, who was
regularly surprised and overtaken before having time to recover. The militia
rarely lost, confidently brave and virtually invincible. Their raiding style
of war was so strenuous that it was difficult to endure. When they returned
they were unrecognizable and needed a lot of time to recover.
In 1752 Governor-General Duquesne
ordered that the militia be drilled every Sunday, which was done. The Governor
would not tolerate militia officers appearing before him without gorgets and
swords. Militiamen were to be well armed, with their powder horns filled and
at least 20 musket balls.
The reinstated, La compagnie
de Milice de Gamelin of Les Compagnies du Détroit is named for Laurence
Eustache Gamelin. He was born 1704, buried March 1771 at Detroit, married
1740 to Mary Joseph Dudevoir dit Lachine, born June 1721 at Montreal, buried
Jan 10, 1803 at Detroit, daughter of Claude Dudevoir dit Lachine and Barbara
Cardinal. They had 12 children of which at least 5 died in infancy. Laurence
was a trader in 1755, he was captain of the local militia at Detroit and in
1757 he resided at the coast of the Potowatomies. Was captured by the British
at the battle of La Belle Famille in 1759 near Ft. Niagara. His grandfather
Michael Gamelin dit Lafontaine had come from France as a surgeon. Détroit
had several militia companies.
While we are organized to have
a lot of fun, Les Compagnies are serious about quality, presentation and safety.
New recruits must have minimum clothing, including foot and headwear, arms
and equipment to our reference guidelines in order to participate and are
expected to complete their kit within a year.