Daily Life in New France

Officers

Promotions

A military order given by Governor General Vaudreuil in 1755

Caption: A military order given by Governor General Vaudreuil in 1755

Officers' commissions in the army in France had a monetary value and promotions could be bought. There were even some "child colonels," for whom this rank had been purchased. This practice did not exist among the Navy troops. Commissions and promotions were awarded in Versailles by the king, at the recommendation of the minister and colonial administrators. While various families may have curried favour with governors general and intendants, promotions were based primarily, though not exclusively, on years of service.

In general, officers had to wait years for promotion. In the meantime, unofficial lists of "expected" ranks were established. The officers on this list were expected to receive their next promotions when the positions became available. This system was mainly employed during the long years of peace between 1713 and 1744 when few people died and the number of officers did not change much. Thereafter, war and the increasing size of the armed forces made promotion more likely, and ten years later, "expected" ranks no longer existed.