and other places

First génération,
Samuel Papineau dit Montigny, (1670-1737)

1.2 The long crossing from La Rochelle to Montréal

Finally arrives the ship "Soleil d'Afrique" to load the military equipment and the ammunitions stored in the arsenal of Rochefort. Heavily loaded and pulled from the embankments by the soldiers, the vessel moves carefully down the Charente river. It sails past la Pointe de L'espérance (Hope Point) and fort Vauban towards Fouras, across from the Island of Oléron, where she boards the officers.
Hundred and fifty soldiers and about twenty officers of the three companies of the " Recruit of 1688"  are present plus seventy five replacements for those who had returned in France, that were killed in action, or that were married overseas.
The ship La Maréchale also sails towards La Rochelle to take goods and provisions for a crossing estimated to last two months. (We were very fortunate to make an unusual find in the archives of the French admiralty in La Rochelle. There before our incredulous eyes were the 312 years old "rolles" listing the sailors and ordinance of the ship La Maréchale when she sailed in 1688. Originals and transcripts).
In La Rochelle there is awaiting in the harbour a small flotilla grouped around "La Diligente, the 250 tons former king's frigate  chartered by the Compagnie de l' Acadie and maneuvered by 30 sailors, under the command of captain Jean Durand. One has the highest confidence in him because he has already made crossing towards Quebec every year since 1682 and moreover will make it non-stop until 1698. The previous year, in 1687, he had guided the crossing of 16 Companies of Marines, as their 900 soldiers and officers were to prepare the return of the former governor of Quebec, Louis de Buade, count of Frontenac, whom the king considered the only leader capable of making again peace with the Iroquois Five Nations and possibly also conquer Boston and Manhatte, as New-York was called.
There is also in the harbour the Soleil d'Afrique, built in Rochefort in 1681, of captain Delorme; the Nom-de-Jésus, of 100 tons, of captain Nicolas Blacquebot; the Françoise, of 80 tons, of captain Jacques Pruneau; the Dragon, of 80 tons, of captain Nicolas Noël and finally La Maréchale , of 300 tons, built in Holland twelve years earlier, belonging to Richard Massiot of La Rochelle, captained by Jean Guillot assisted by 33 people and on which embarks Samuel Papineau, under his war name of Montigny,  one of fifty soldiers of the company of Captain Dandrésy. On board there is a total of 225 soldiers of the Troops with their officers.

One sees also a few vessels belonging to merchants of Bordeaux and La Rochelle who, by " Order of the King " must cross in convoys as protection against pirates. These slower vessels carry a contingent of colonists and hired hands, called thirty six months, the lenght of their notarized contract with merchants or religious communities.
 There is also a merry group of women who follow the tradition set twenty years ago by the so-called King's Daughters, these girls, often orphans, having been endowed by the King to go over as future wives for the numerous bachelors of Nouvelle-France.

On each of the vessels of the Royal Navy, there is by Order of the King, a commander of the gunners, a chaplain, a surgeon and a writer.
It is the writer, a prestigious post, who records all the facts and documents of the journey for the Admiralty. So he registers in his best writing: the roll call of the crew, the inventory of the merchandise loaded aboard "La Maréchale",of which copies will be handed to the admiralty of La Rochelle as well as to the admiralty of Québec upon arrival. He also writes down the " role of the soldiers who compose the recruit embarked on the vessel la mareschale for the garrison of québec ". Appears there: the name of the soldier, his parish of origin, his age, his height, the colour of his hair, the name of his father and mother and his profession, if he has one. Before " LA MARÉCHALE " weighs anchor he is assailed by the numerous travelers who, not knowing how to write, come to ask him in secret to draft a last letter to the family or to the loved one they not certain to see again.
The chaplain on his part consults the boarding manifests to identify the undesirables and those of the so called reformed religion, as were called the Calvinist Huguenots, to whom the king forbade to cross in Nouvelle-France, unless they renounce and submit to three years of probation in a port of the coast. If one escapes his scrutiny, he will fast realize it duriing the religious offices on board and will try to convert him before the arrival in Québec.  The alternative will be return by the first vessel and upon arrival, prison or a forced march to the royal galleys of Marseille.

The port of La Rochelle in the 17th century.
Museum of the New-World, La Rochelle

The first vessels lift anchor with the morning tide of April 21, 1688. The travelers watch a last time the three bell-towers of La Rochelle becoming blurred in the rising sun while the sailors fuss to hoist the sails to take advantage of the sea breeze. For the new servicemen and the gunners there is little time to be moved. Discipline sets down rapidly for the young recruits, made of lessons and  exercises of boarding, hand-to-hand and sword fighting, and cannon practice against the possible attacks by pirates. The sea is infested with pirates, financed by the English merchants. This in spite of the peace negotiated by Louis XIV with his friend the king of England, the catholic James II.  They attack and plunder shamelessly the French vessels and the Spanish galleons loaded with the wealth of the New World.

The crossing is particularly long and painful. Among the numerous victims of the purple fever, the scurvy and the typhoid, one counts the Sire d'Andrésy, the captain who recruited samuel's company. One thinks that he belongs to a noble family of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, who by obtaining him this command hoped that he would find glory and fortune in the New World. The funeral ceremony  is repeated several times. The deceased man's body is placed into a bag cut in a remnant of the main sail, ballasted with a cannon ball. The sailors let it slide in the sea after the solemn singing of a Libera and a salvo of musket for a sailor or a soldier and the shot of the cannon for an officer.
The two other companies of the recruit of 1688, commanded by the captains De Beaugy and De Gallifet, also suffer heavy losses and even the most sturdy are not spared by the epidemics and suffer horribly from seasickness.

The convoy progresses slowly, the better careened and faster vessels being obliged to wait for the heavier merchant ships. They arrive finally on the banks of Newfoundland. There, takes place the traditional initiation to the New World by the dunking of some soldiers and passengers in a big tub of ice-cold water and other jokes chaired by a sailor disguised as god Neptune, the whole being disapprooved by the chaplain.

Finally one sees the coastline harsh and inhospitable, but much welcomed in this midsummer day.
Rowboats hurry to replenish the supply of drinking water and firewood for the kitchen. They also capture some small game, welcomed change to the damaged biscuit of the recent meals.
Then by following carefully the captain Durand, by small tacks and aided by the raising tide, they sail up the majestic gulf and the Saint-Laurence River which leads them to Québec City where they cast anchor in the middle of July.

The city of Québec,
as seen from the Saint-Laurent River in 1688

After the landing ceremonies in the presence of governor Denonville, the Intendant Champigny notices in a report to Paris: "All which has been sent from France arrived in good state and condition. But the number of people has decreased, because of the 225 who were in the mareschale many have died. Sr. Dandresy, Captain, is one of them. They gave his employ to Sr. de La Groye, lieutenant, who is a strong man, from the Gentry and who has well served".
The orphaned company is therefore given a new captain, Charles Henri d'Aloigny, marquis de La Grois, from Ingrandes near Chatellerault in Poitou, so a fellow countryman for Samuel who will remain attached to his company until his untimely death in the shipwreck of the Saint Jérome at Île-de-Sable in 1714. The marquis de La Grois will make it a duty to assist at marriages and baptisms of the children of his former officers and soldiers. This permits to reconstitute a good part of the original company of 1688.

In flat boats and fragile canoes made with the bark of the birch tree, the troop takes at once the direction of Montreal which is constantly threatened by bands of Iroquois indians. This journey seems to them very precarious, but will be even more precarious the next few years.


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