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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


Extracts of Matters of Historical Interest from "The Huissier, News For and About the Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff" By The Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff


(August 4, 2003)

The following completes the part three of a series on uniforms, submitted by Sandy Balcom.

The Karrer Regiment Detachment

The Swiss Karrer regiment was the third unit stationed in Louisbourg in 1744. The regiment was named for its proprietary colonels, first François Adam Karrer and later his son, who contracted their services directly with the Crown. Originally raised in 1719 for service with the Army, the regiment transferred to the Marine in 1721 and the following year a 50-man detachment arrived in Louisbourg. The detachment was increased to 100 men in 1726 and 150 men in 1741. Although the regiment appears to have been unique in Marine service, such foreign units were well known in the French army. In 1741, 22 of the 122 French infantry regiments were foreign, and of these nine were Swiss. Like the artillery units in blue, the foreign regiments in French service did not wear the characteristic white coats of the infantry but instead Swiss and Irish regiments wore madder red, Germans blue and Italians grey-brown. The foreign regiments were not as unfavourably viewed as mercenaries are today. In fact, it was argued that foreign recruits played the role of three. In addition to taking his own place in the ranks, a foreign recruit freed a citizen for employment in the economy and he was denied as a potential recruit to foreign powers. Unlike the Marine troops, the Karrer regiment made its own arrangements for the supply of uniforms and followed the lead of other Swiss units in French service. The coat was in the traditional red with blue facings for such troops. It differed somewhat in cut from those of the Marine companies by having long vertical pocket flaps with three buttons and a collar. The Karrer regiments seems to have adhered to the 1736 modifications adopted by the Army. The small clothes and stockings were blue with the latter changing to white after 1739. The waistcoat featured a distinctive double-breasted cut with two columns of pewter buttons linked by white braid. The traditional red coats of the Swiss presented an interesting anomaly during the first siege. Except for those rare occasions when Commodore Warren massed his marines ashore, there were more redcoats defending Louisbourg than in the New England militia forces attacking it.