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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada





Report H E 15

Fortress of Louisbourg



The term of  officier reformé was used to designate an officer who served en second, subordinate to all those of the same rank en pied. An officer whose regiment had been disbanded might continue to serve in another unit with this designation. [1] It was also the term used for an officer who had been forced to retire due to physical disability or unworthiness to serve. 2 Four officier reformé were listed on the bordereaux for Louisbourg prior to the siege of 1745; three were captains, one an ensign.

Ballon De Forant was serving as an ensign, probably in the company of Rousseau De Souvigny, in 1730 when the minister wrote that he was retiring, to be replaced by Chassin De Thierry. For the next ten years De Forant was carried on the rolls as enseigne reformé with an appointement of 360 livres, three-quarters of his pre-retirement pay. [3] No reason was offered for this unusual arrangement. The usual retirement or retraite of an officer was with half pay, a pension which was not paid from Louisbourg's funds. Other officers, such as Rousseau De Souvigny, who retired due to physical disability, did so in the usual way, receiving only half pay . What service, if any, De Forant performed for this arrangement, is not known, nor is it clear whether or not he remained in Louisbourg after his retirement.

Two of the other officers listed as reformé were Jean Baptiste De Couagne and Pierre Jérome Boucher, both sous-ingénieurs. Though both ultimately became capitaines reformés they arrived at that rank through different routes. De Couagne came to Louisbourg as a lieutenant of the infantry in the Compagnies Franches. He was not properly a member of a corps of engineers. De Couagne and Fontenay, another lieutenant of a company who was also an engineer, were to receive their appointements as lieutenants (720 livres) plus an annual gratuity of 200 liyres. Fontenay was placed in charge of construction of the Demi-Bastion Dauphin and the battery there, while De Couagne was employed at the Bastion du Roi and the barracks. [5]

Fontenay, who went to Ile Royale as an ensign in 1714, remained for seven years in the colony. While in France in 1721 tending to family matters he contracted a fever which prevented his scheduled return to Louisbourg. He never did resume his post in the colony .[6] While Fontenay was in France problems arose with regard to De Couagne's dual role as engineer and lieutenant. Although he was supposed to be concerned solely with the business of fortifications, the chief engineer, Verville, informed the minister that De Couagne found himself forced to tend to company matters. He served with application and intelligence, Verville wrote, but was continuously interrupted and the works suffered as a result. It was suggested that De Couagne be permitted to keep the title of lieutenant, while being completely detached from his company. [7]

The Council of the Marine ordered that De Couagne should be free to concentrate on the fortifications, but did not actually move to separate him from his company. [8] Problems, which undoubtedly arose from the shortage of officers in the garrison at the time, persisted and in 1723 Verville requested that De Couagne be made a capitaine reformé so that he could apply himself entirely to the fortifications. This time the request was granted and De Couagne was removed from his company and listed frown then until his death in 1740 as a capitaine reformé. In this capacity he received an appointement of 720 livres, two-thirds of a captain's pay and the same as he had received as a lieutenant, in addition to an 800 livres annual gratuity which had been granted him in 1721 for performance of his engineering duties. [10]

Boucher was sent to Ile Royale in 1721 to serve as a sous-ingénieur with a salary of 1,200 livres. A member of the corps of engineers, Boucher possessed no rank in the Compagnies Franches de la Marine. Consequently, in order that he would have a "title over the soldiers he will have to command" he was given the rank of lieutenant without appointement. [11] In 1723 Boucher was accorded an annual gratuity of 300 livres in addition to his pay. [12] When De Couagne died in 1740 it was decided that a replacement was unnecessary as Boucher and Verrier fils, along with Verrier himself, were sufficient to complete the works. To compensate the two sous-ingénieurs  for their additional duties, Boucher was given De Couagne's vacant capitaine reformé position with the 720 livres that went with it, in addition to the 1,200 livres he received as a sous-ingénieur, and Verrier fils was accorded Boucher's gratuity to augment his 600 livres salary. [13]

The fourth officer to receive the reformé designation was Palude De Tonty in 1742. Reluctant to promote De Tonty to the post of aide-major because of his questionable reputation, the minister agreed to let De Tonty, the most senior lieutenant in the garrison, retire at half pay with the rank of captain. From then until 1745 De Tonty was listed on the financial accounts of the colony as capitaine reformé, with an appointement of 540 livres. The reason why this title was used for him and not for other retiring officers is not known. [14]