CARREFOUR DE LA PELOUZE, PIERRE-JOSEPH (baptized Joseph), army officer and author of a journal; b. 10 March 1738 in Saumur, France, son of Abraham Carrefour de La Pelouze and Gabrielle-Marie Vernas; d. 6 July 1808 in London, England.
At the age of 18, Pierre-Joseph Carrefour de La Pelouze, “having left his father’s house,” entered the Régiment de Berry as a lieutenant. In September 1756 his regiment was ordered to India, a posting that pleased La Pelouze and appealed to his taste for the exotic. After the unit had made lengthy preparations, a counter-order forced the entire complement to go to Brest and then to sail for Canada. This new arrangement also delighted the young officer, who received a captain’s commission at that time.
After a rather difficult crossing the squadron entered the port of Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), on 22 June 1757. La Pelouze took advantage of his short stay in the fortress to visit the town; he found it badly built, small, dirty, and reeking unbearably of fish. After a brief stay in harbour, on board ship, the Régiment de Berry went on to Canada, an “infinitely better” country in the opinion of La Pelouze, and reached Quebec without incident 26 days later. During his first winter La Pelouze thought he was still too young to take part in the gambling and balls that occupied the local population; he contented himself with visiting the region, getting to know the inhabitants, and observing their ways and customs.
In the spring of 1758 La Pelouze went with his regiment to Fort Carillon (near Ticonderoga, N.Y.); on 8 July he was in the forces which under Louis-Joseph de Montcalm* gained a noted victory over James Abercromby*. Through hearsay and experience La Pelouze was initiated into the Indians’ style of warfare, which he described as cruel. Indeed the details of the dress, religious beliefs, form of worship, manners, and especially the cruelty of these allies of New France made a strong impression on him.
La Pelouze’s regiment took up winter quarters that year at Quebec. However, it returned to Carillon in May 1759. La Pelouze worked at strengthening the fort as much as possible, but this turned out to be a waste of effort. When Jeffery Amherst* laid siege to it on 23 July, most of the troops under François-Charles de Bourlamaque* had already withdrawn to Île aux Noix, on the Richelieu. There La Pelouze, who was engaged in building fortifications, heard of the battle fought on the Plains of Abraham by Montcalm, Vaudreuil [Rigaud*], and James Wolfe*. The account of it in his journal is brief and contains few details. Nothing happened at Île aux Noix in 1759 and La Pelouze went with his detachment to take up winter quarters near Montreal. In April 1760 he left for Quebec with the army of 7,000 under François de Lévis*. Wounded in the battle of Sainte-Foy, he spent two months in hospital before sailing for France in August 1760.
La Pelouze subsequently continued his military career as a captain in the Régiment d’Aquitaine in 1763, and then as major of the Régiment de Boulonnais in March 1774. In August of that year he became king’s lieutenant at Bonifacio in Corsica, and on 16 Jan. 1778 he received the cross of Saint-Louis. He retired on 4 April 1781 with a pension of 1,250 livres. The next mention of him is in 1792, when he had returned to the army and was holding a commission as a major. Soon after, he emigrated to England where he died on 6 July 1808.
Pierre-Joseph Carrefour de La Pelouze’s journal is more a report of his voyage to Canada. This account, which in tone is sometimes jocular, sometimes shocked, but always exaggerated, is interesting not for the freshness of its information (in particular about the Seven Years’ War), but for its detailed description of the life led by a young and enthusiastic officer enthralled by new experiences.
AD, Maine-et-Loire (Angers), État civil, Saumur, 10 mars 1738. Arch. du ministère des Armées (Paris), Service hist. de l’Armée, A1, 9598. NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), 10: 1085.