Canadian Voltigeurs

Reenactment & Living History

Canadian Voltigeurs

The Voltigeurs were formed on April 15, 1812 by Sir George Prévost, with the Regiment being paid for by the government of Lower Canada. All men were to be Canadian-born between the ages of 17 and 35 with a minimum height of 5 feet 3 inches. The commander was Charles de Salaberry who was allowed to choose all his own officers except for the quartermaster and the adjutant who were chosen from other regiments. The headquarters was Fort Chambly with the regiment consisting of ten companies of French- and English-speaking men, (orders were to be made in English) and each company was allowed one bugler.

The uniforms were of grey wool with black buttons, collars and cuffs, with wings of black tape with black cotton fringes. They also wore grey trousers with short black gaiters. In the beginning boots were worn but these were later replaced by shoes. For most of the war they wore light bearskin caps with a black leather visor with the fur sticking upwards. When in training or working around camp they wore a grey cap with a black rim and pompom, instead of the fur hat, and a white jersey waistcoat. The officers, on the other hand, wore green uniforms.

They were trained as light infantry. The arms were supposed to be rifles or light infantry muskets, but these were in short supply so most of the Voltigeurs had Brown Besses. Their cross-belts were black, the cartridge box was made for 60 cartridges and the backpack and canteen were British issue.

They first saw action in Lacolle for a few days in November 1812. Of four companies sent to Kingston in the spring of 1813 to help defend Upper Canada, two were at the attack of Sacket’s Harbour. On October 25, 1813, they fought at the Battle of Chateauguay. They also saw action at Chrysler’s Farm. In the spring of 1814 they were part of the 2nd Brigade when the attack on Plattsburg was made.

The Voltigeurs were disbanded on March 25, 1815.