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120 MILITARY HISTORY OF CANADA

 

The French Canadian preferred the English-speaking people of Britain to the English-speaking people of the United States. "Our Religion, Our Language, and Our Laws!" was, and still is, the rallying cry of the French Canadians. They knew that the enjoyment of these cherished privileges was guaranteed by Britain, and they knew that Britain would keep faith with them. But they placed no dependence on the good faith of the United States. They recalled the repudiation of the debts incurred by the Continental troops of Arnold and Montgomery during the invasions of 1775-76, and did not forget the harsh treatment given the United Empire Loyalists. As a result, in the contest extending over the years 1812, 1813, and 1814, Canadian fencibles' and militia fought shoulder to shoulder with the seasoned veterans of the Royal Navy and the British regular army, and the blood of the French-Canadian noblesse and habitants mingled with that of their British fellow-subjects on many a glorious battlefield.

At the opening of hostilities, the prospect of conquering British North America certainly looked promising to the people of the United States. The population of British North America, exclusive of Newfoundland, was at the census of 1806, 250,000 in Lower Canada and 70,000 in Upper Canada, and 109,676 in the Maritime Provinces. At the outbreak of the war the total population was probably not more than 500,000. The threatened frontier of the two Canadas was 1,700 miles in length and there were only 4,450 regular troops, and 3,800 fencibles to defend it. The United States had a population of over 7,000,000, and, on paper, a regular army of 35,000; during the progress of the war the total militia enlistments were 456,463, but not 100,000 of these were to see fighting. Her man-power was so great that Canada was in an apparently de-fenceless condition, and Britain was fully occupied in Spain and in India. In the light of these facts, Henry

1 Corps raised for local defence or at a special crisis for a limited time, were called "fencibles."


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