François-Joseph Cailly

(1708-1750)




François-Joseph Cailly, officer in the Swiss Régiment de Karrer; baptized 16 September 1700 in Sainte-Croix-en-Plaine (dept. of Haut-Rhin), France, son of Jean-Christophore Cailly and Marie-Salomé Duvallier; married Anne-Marie Volant, niece of Colonel Louis-Ignaz Karrer, by whom he had five children; died sometime after 1762.

          François-Joseph Cailly joined the Karrer as a cadet in 1719 when the regiment was formed.  An ensign in 1723, he was sent to Martinique; three years later he was promoted captain-lieutenant (the equivalent of captain in the colonial regulars) and given command of the half-company stationed in Saint-Domingue (Hispaniola).  In 1730 he was involved in a quarrel there which resulted in the death of a fellow officer.  Acquitted of murder, Cailly was sent to command the 100 Swiss in garrison at Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), despite the protests of the governor, Saint-Ovide [Monbeton], who was a cousin of the dead officer.  Cailly arrived in Louisbourg on 2 September 1732.

          Almost immediately Cailly clashed with Saint-Ovide; the issue was the drum roll to be used when the Swiss were on guard duty.  As foreigners in the king's service, the Swiss were allowed to maintain many of their own customs and on this occasion Saint-Ovide was censured for trying to impose French procedure on them.  During his stay in Louisbourg Cailly was assiduous in claiming all the rights and prerogatives of the Swiss, a policy which was to cause him many difficulties.  For the rest of Saint-Ovide's period of command, however, there were no open conflicts, and before the governor left in 1738 he wrote a letter of recommendation for the Swiss commander.  In the meantime Cailly had consolidated his personal position at Louisbourg.  He had acquired two properties, one of which he rented to the crown as an officer's residence, and following the practice of most company commanders he established a canteen for his men from which he was said to make a considerable profit.

          Soon after the arrival in 1740 of the new commandant, Jean-Baptiste-Louis Le Prévost Duquesnel, Cailly felt he had to assert his own authority.  He was determined to maintain his position with his troops and objected when they carried complaints to the civil authorities.  In October 1741 he refused to allow his soldiers to assemble, in spite of a direct order from Duquesnel, and incriminated himself by writing out his refusal.  Duquesnel sent a strong letter to Maurepas, the minister of Marine, enclosing a copy of Cailly's note; he listed a number of instances in which the Swiss commander had exceeded his authority and hinted at a spirit of revolt in these actions.  Faced with this obvious case of disobedience, Maurepas had little choice.  He informed Colonel Karrer that he had taken the matter up with the king and ordered Cailly's retirement as of 1 January 1742.  Cailly left Louisbourg late in 1741.  In 1742, in response to a plea from Mme Cailly, who remained in Louisbourg until the summer, Duquesnel requested that his former antagonist be reinstated.  Cailly was allowed to re-enter the service in 1743 but was not permitted to return to Louisbourg.  He took up duties in Rochefort, and for a time was acting commander of the regiment after Karrer's death in 1751.  In that year he was awarded the cross of Saint-Louis; four years later he was promoted lieutenant-colonel.  He was still active in 1762 but nothing is known of him after the regiment was disbanded in 1763.

          Cailly seems not to have been an exceptional commander.  His vigorous defence of Swiss rights at Louisbourg was carried to the extreme and by his opposition to Duquesnel he set an example of disobedience for his men, who mutinied against the French officials in 1744.

—  Blaine Adams, Secondary school teacher
Silverthorn Collegiate Institute, Etobicoke, Ontario





Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
François-Joseph Cailly (the original article)
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