The Organization of New France

Staff Officers

The Governor General's Staff

Officer's gorget, around 1750, found in Quebec

Caption: Officer's gorget, around 1750, found in Quebec

The essentially military character of New France becomes evident upon examination of the way it was organized. For instance, the governor general, who was the supreme military authority in the colony, had a staff organized in nearly the same way as those which existed in French provinces. His closest advisers included the captain of his guards, who also acted as an aide-de-camp, the senior officers of the Compagnies franches de la Marine, and the king's engineer. The intendant was also included with this group of officers because of the repercussions that decisions made in his area of responsibility, the colony's financial administration (which included paying the troops) could have on military matters. The intendant was the only administrative officer that the "officers of the sword" tolerated in their organization.

This group of men made the major decisions on the way war would be waged. It fixed the objectives for attack and defence, determined the tactics to be used, allocated the necessary resources - officers, soldiers and militiamen; supplies and ammunition - and negotiated the important alliances with the Amerindians.

Additional Images

Marquis de Beauharnois, Governor General of New France, circa 1748
Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, Marquis de Vaudreuil (circa 1643 – 1725)  Governor General of New France 1703 to 1725