In mid-February of 1757 Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, Governor of parish of Trois Rivieres, assembled a detachment for the surprise attack of Fort William Henry. The four divisions that were formed were a mix of many different troops including Canadians. An Account of two Expeditions in Canada, in the Course of the winter of 1757 noted, “six hundred and fifty Canadians, one company of which consisted of fifty volunteers, together with four hundred Indians.”
Canadian volunteers and milice composed almost half of the entire detachment. Much of their job was to serve on the outer flanks of the three main columns of regular and colonial Troops. In addition to personal clothing, Canadian milice wore mostly what was issued to them by the government for their service. These issues of clothing from the French government typically consisted of winter souliers savage or summer souliers d’ boeuf, leggings, breechcloths, shirt, shoes, veste, blanket coat and a knit wool cap. Often only a tobacco pouch, pipe, and their own firelock accompanied a soldier of the milice from home. Lieutenant Jean-Baptiste d'Aleyrac of the French Languedoc regiment described Canadian clothing in his memoirs of his service during the French and Indian War.
It is true that the Canadians are obliged to go to war to defend the country when it is attacked. Meanwhile, those who remain in the parishes must cultivate the fields of those who are at war for free. Moreover, those who go to war receive a capote, two cotton shirts, a breechcloth, a pair of leggings, a blanket, souleirs d’ boeuf, a wooden handled knife, a gun worm, and when they don’t have a gun they are given one. The breechcloth is a strap of wool that is passed between the legs in the manner of the Indians and whose two ends are attached to a belt; it is put on without breeches to march more freely in the woods. The leggings are a type of very broad gaiters whose two sides are sewn together, about four fingers from the edge without buttons or buttonholes. This is another native invention. The souliers d’ beouf are made entirely different than those in France, they have a sole as thin as the uppers that surrounds the entire foot, to the height of the quarters; then, we sew another smaller a strip of leather upon them which covers the top of the foot; this fashion allows marching more conveniently in the woods and mountains.
Jean Baptiste d' Aleyrac left a more detailed description of the Canadian capote.
The average Canadian hardly wears French clothing, but one species of, capots overlapping in front with lapels. The buttons and collars are of another color. A sash around the capot: simple and impractical clothing.
Apart from clothing, Canadians have some other unique characteristics that set them apart from others. French soldiers coming to Canada noted the wide variety ot tattoes worn by Canadians. Peter Kalm in 1749 wrote:
Many French country people who often travel through Canada for the fur trade take pleasure in following this Indian custom, but they never like them tattooed their face but only other parts of the body, such as the breast for example, the back, their thighs and especially their legs. These tattooes represent in a few lines Our Lord on the cross, or whatever their fancy suggested them.
The few Canadians posted at Fort Carillon in the winter of 1757 served with few personal comforts beyond the bare essentials. Travelling light in the manner of Native Amerians they put their native inspired, issued clothing to hard use. Individual Canadians may well have brought extra gilets, vestes, and capotes from home on account of the season. These extra layers over their breechcloth, leggings, and shirt added a little warmth for men well accustomed to Canadian winters.
Best: Hand-stitched white or off-white cotton shirt with narrow band cuffs, made for sleeve buttons (cuff links).
Acceptable: White or blue cotton or linen shirt with narrow band cuffs with thread buttons or made for sleeve buttons (cuff links) with minor visible machine-stitching.
Discouraged: Checked, striped linen, or wool shirts
Unacceptable:Cotton calico or plaid shirts
Best:Silk, linen, or cotton neckerchief
Unacceptable: Leather neck-stocks
Hats and Caps
Best: Knit red wool bonnet or tuque.
Acceptable:Red, blue, or white wool tapaboard caps.
Unacceptable: Fur cap, voyageur cap
Best: Hand-finished, well-fit grey, drab, or white stout woolen capote with or without a contrasting color hood and buttons.
Acceptable:Well-fit grey, drab, white or other color wool cloth capote with minor visible machine stitching.
Discouraged:Blanket coats or capotes from a white-bodied, blue or red striped blanket
Unacceptable: 19th century trapper blanket coats; Blanket shirts
Best: Undecorated wool breechcloth or brayet (red, blue, white)
Best: Hand-finished well-fit, square-cut gilet made of red or blue broadcloth or similar material, made with our without sleeves.
Acceptable: Well-fit Square-cut gilet made of red or blue broadcloth or similar material, with minor visible machine stitching.
Unacceptable: Extremely long or baggy gilet or modern upolstery materials.
Best: Hand-finished and well-fit, sleeved veste made of blue, red, grey, brown, drab, or light colored woolen cloth.
Acceptable: Well fitted sleeved veste made of blue, red, grey, brown, drab, or light-colored woolen cloth with minor visible machine stitching.
Unacceptable: Extremely long or baggy veste or modern upolstery materials.
Best:Well fit, unadorned blue, red, or white wool Indian leggings, or mitasses with plain wool or Native garters
Unacceptable: Buckskin leggings, gaiters, or baggy wool leggings
Best: Vamp or pucker-toe styled soulier savage or mocassins
Acceptable: Soulier du beouf
Discouraged: Half boots or buckled shoes
Unacceptable: Modern shoes, boots, or Dyer, Arrow, Minnetonka moccasins, Shoepacks
Cold Weather Protection
Unacceptable: Modern gloves or mittens
Best: Fusil de chasse or fusil de traite
Acceptable: French Military Muskets of 1728 or earlier pattern
Discouraged: British arms, Anglo-American fowlers
Unacceptable: Canoe guns, Blunderbusses, rifles
Best: Couteaux boucheronor sheathed trade knife; Sheathed casse-tête or hatchet, all carried on a simple wool cloth sash or finger woven native sash.
Acceptable: trade knives carried in a neck sheath.
Unacceptable:Unsheathed knives or hatchets.
Best:Leather slit pouch, simple drawstring leather pouch carried on the sash around the waist.
Acceptable: Small leather shot bags with shoulder straps.
Discouraged: Cartridge pouches and boxes, belly boxes
Best: Empty, plain white powder horn slung on a small leather strap or finger woven native American strap.
Unacceptable:Filled powder horns
Best: Gourd, ceramic, glass canteen, slung over the shoulder on a hemp cord or leather thong.
Acceptable: Leather or tin kidney shaped style canteen.
Discouraged:: Wooden cheese-box canteens
Knapsacks and Tumpline’s
Best: Hemp tumplineor single strap snapsack
Acceptable: Jute or leather tumplines.
Best: 2-3 Point, Dutch, or rose blankets. Bear skin hides may also be used.
Acceptable: Plain white, checked or Hudson Bay blankets.
Unacceptable: Civil War grey blankets or modern olive drab blankets.