• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Voltigeurs in the War of 1812

Dog Walker

Reaction score
I have being doing some research into my ancestors lately.  Today I was in St. Anicet, Huntingdon, Quebec where part of my family comes from. On the drive back home I stopped at the Battlefield of Chateauguay National Historic Site. In the museum there is a display listing all of the names of the Canadian troops who fought in the battle. One soldier serving with the Voltigeurs was a Joseph Chretien.

One of my great great grandfathers was Joseph Alexis Chretien, born in March 1791. He would have being 22 years old at the time of the battle in 1813. He settled in St Anicet and married a 17 year old Irish girl, Ellen Kerby, in 1826. He died in 1885.

How can I confirm that Joseph Alexis Chretien is the same Joseph Chretien which served with the Voltigeurs? I search on the Généalogie du Québec web site, and my great great grandfather was the only Joseph Chretien I found of military age for that time.

While searching the web I found the following:

A minor attack on Cape Vincent, then called Gravelly Point, had been made shortly before by Lieutenant Marjoribanks, RN., and Corporal Chretien of the Voltigeurs, of which Captain Viger's diary supplies a graphic account. They had endeavoured to attack, with a gunboat, one of the enemy's gunboats on the river, but failing to overtake it, and "feeling very sore and disappointed," Marjoribanks decided to make a descent on Cape Vincent, the nearest American post, where he hoped to find and surprise some of the "Yankee boats," a proposal accepted by his men with the greatest enthusiasm. The attack was carried out, but the boats were not there, and after forcing an entrance into the deserted barracks and shooting an officer at the Commandant's quarters—looting some small arms by the way—the attacking party "retired under a desultory musket-fire from the returned enemy."

"The naval lieutenant," continues the diary, "in the official report to Commodore Yeo, gave a detailed statement of Chretien's coolness and courage, together with the peril to which he exposed himself during this brush with the enemy. He further charged him to convey his despatch to Kingston, where Sir George Prevost sent for him, and after promoting him to the rank of sergeant, presented him with the sabres and pistols looted at Gravelly Point."

Sounds like you have an interesting task ahead of you.
I would guess that somewhere there are enrolment lists for the Voltigeurs (Quebec provincial archives ?). Perhaps there is some detail on J. Chretien (military) that can tie to J. Chretien (family).
AJFitzpatrick said:
Sounds like you have an interesting task ahead of you.
I would guess that somewhere there are enrolment lists for the Voltigeurs (Quebec provincial archives ?). Perhaps there is some detail on J. Chretien (military) that can tie to J. Chretien (family).

It looks like this would be a difficult task. I would have to find some personal details of J.Chretien of the Voltigeurs, such as his age, date of birth or parents’ names. A search on the Library and Archives Canada web site show that they have some payroll records from the Voltigeurs.

I found another account of Cpl Chretien’s actions at Gravelly Point on google books. It is in a book called La Bibliotheque Canadienne dating from 1825. However, there are no personal details given.

It looks like Cpl Joseph Chretien of the Voltigeurs Canadien is my great great grandfather.

I sent an enquiry to Library and Archives Canada using their on line form on 4 July, and received a reply on the 31st.  It read in part:

A search of the index(es) to our British Military and Naval Records has produced the following references of interest to you:

British Military and Naval Records
Joseph Chrétien, 25-04-1812
Enlisted in the Canadian Voltigeurs
(RG 8-I, volume 796, page(s) 76, microfilm reel C-3257)

The book « Histoire sociale des miliciens de la bataille de la Châteauguay » contains a reference to Joseph Chrétien without additional information.

These showed that Joseph was the only Chretien serving in the Voltigeaus and that his rank was corporal. He enlisted in the Voltigeurs on the 25th of April 1812 at the age of 21. Also his height was 5 feet 8 inches.

I think that it would be very unlikely to have two individuals with the same name (Joseph Chretien) and the same age (both 21 in April 1812) considering how small the population of Lower Canada was at the time.
Congratulations on your discovery DW. Do you intend to do any more research? I hope you do, and share what turns up. Fascinating stuff.