Compagnies Franches de la Marine

The Compagnies Franches de la Marine were regular soldiers raised in France for colonial service. They were regular soldiers but independent of the French army. The soldiers of “La Marine” were not the ships' marines which served with the French Royal Navy, but were Independent Companies raised for land service in the French colonies where they kept the peace through policing duties; they were encouraged to, and many did, settle in the colonies with a grant of land after their term of service was up, then joining the extensive Canadian militia system.

As Independent Companies, La Marine garrisoned forts and outposts by company or detachment throughout the frontiers of New France as well as the more settled areas. Commanded by Canadian officers, most of whom had already gained twenty to thirty years' experience of wilderness warfare, they fought alongside the Canadian militia and French-allied Indians in skirmishes and raids against Anglo-American and allied Indian settlements. In this way as disciplined regulars, they learned to serve in a light infantry role. As Independent Companies they had no battalion structure, though Montcalm did form a service battalion of Compagnies Franches de la Marine in 1757; Levis organised two battalions in 1760.