The Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812

Canada at War with France

A French Squadron at New York

Soon afterwards news reached Halifax, causing the sounding of a general alert. In July 1793 a large French squadron reached New York, carrying a contingent of troops under the command of General Galbaud. Ambassador Genêt saw this as the ideal instrument to attack Canada by sea and had even begun to recruit American volunteers to join the French. With this new fleet, according to reports from British spies, a corps of troops could disembark in Nova Scotia before the Royal Navy had time to reinforce its North Atlantic Squadron. In the Maritimes there was general consternation: the provincial troops were organized in record time - suitable weapons were found for them; but in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick there was a temporary shortage of regulation red uniforms and the new soldiers had to parade in blue jackets with red collars and cuffs.

The militias were also placed on a war footing, particularly in Nova Scotia, where there was a serious threat of a French attack. In July the city of Halifax militia regiment had some 630 men training twice a week. In addition, a legion of 1,000 militiamen, broken down into infantry, cavalry and artillery companies, was ready to move quickly in the event of a coastal raid. The 400 Acadians who volunteered to join the militia led Governor Sir John Wentworth to report that the old wounds of the deportation had healed and that the Acadians were ready to help the British defend their province.

In the Maritimes the French were awaited. To everyone's surprise, it was in Montreal, in October 1793, that General Galbaud put in an appearance in person, without his troops! The General had abandoned his army, torn as it was by political dissension, to take refuge in Canada and to give himself up as a prisoner to the British. The French fleet returned to France, its men deeply divided by discord and political passions, all discipline lost. Thus ended the threat of a French invasion of the east coast. These events confirmed in the minds of the FrenchCanadian population just how little they could count on support from France. 57 They eventually took a neutral stance vis-à-vis the former motherland, while at the same time condemning the excesses of the Revolution. Moreover, the authorities were already preoccupied with more pressing problems.