In 1665 King Louis XVI ordered the Carignan-Salieres Regiment to Canada to help save the Royal Colony from destruction at the hands of the Iroquois Indians. Between June and September 1665, some twenty-four companies of 1200 soldiers and their officers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment arrived in Quebec under the leadership of Lt. General Alexander de Prouville, Sieur de Tracy.
The Carignan-Salieres Regiment was the first regular military unit to serve in Canada. Almost immediately upon arrival, they launched an attack upon the Indians in the dead of winter, and the regiment was almost destroyed. Nevertheless, within months the Regiment stabilized the situation, ensuring the survival of the French colony.
The Regiment established a series of forts along the Richelieu River and conducted another successful campaign into the land of the Mohawk Indians, leading to a long period of peace. The colony prospered as a result. However, King Louis XIV's plan also included the permanent settlement of many of the soldiers and officers in Canada. Following their service, many of the soldiers stayed on in Canada.
In fact, over 400 soldiers and officers decided to remain in New France when the regiment was recalled to France. Many of the soldiers married the newly arrived filles du roi (Daughters of the King). Most French Canadians have several ancestors who served in the Carignan-Salières Regiment.
The Carignan-Salières Regiment was one of the first to wear a uniform in the French army. The uniform was brown with a gray lining that was visible in the upturned sleeves, forming a decorative facing. Buff-colored and black ribbons decorated the hat and right shoulder, in accordance with the style of the time. An image of a Carignan soldier in uniform may be found at http://www.cmhg.gc.ca/cmh/en/image_70.asp?flash=1&page_id=49. The soldiers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment carried matchlock and flintlock muskets with bayonets, a novelty of the era. They left their pikes in France, since they were of little use against the Iroquois, but they all carried swords.
At that time, the army was made of volunteers. During recruitment, the only condition for the soldier-to-be was to stand at least five feet three inches tall.
A list of the soldiers of the Régiment de Carignan-Salières, taken in 1668, can be found on Michel Robert's site at http://www.geocities.com/~carignan/03_rollcarignan/E3rollcarignan.html. The document reproduced on microfilm is a handwritten list of the militaries who decided to stay in Canada in 1668 at the end of their three-year engagement. The original list was likely prepared for discharge and accounting purposes, as each soldier who decided to establish himself in Canada was given a monetary bonus by the king. The names on the list are mostly "dit" names. The term "dit" is the equivalent of "also known as" (a.k.a.) in English. These were the nicknames, or noms de guerre, given to the recruits at the time of hazing, and these were the only names used officially for soldiers while in the army. Only the officers down to enspassade level kept their real names, a practice that continues in today's Foreign Legion of France.
For more information about the Carignan Soldiers or Soldat Carigna, look at the following sites:
La societe des filles du roi et soldats du Carignan at http://www.fillesduroi.org