Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Salaberry, Charles Michel de

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SALABERRY, CHARLES de (1778–1829), Canadian soldier, born on 19 Nov. 1778 at the manor-house of Beauport, near Quebec, was the son of Louis Ignace de Salaberry by his wife, Mlle. Hortel. Charles Michel's grandfather, Michel de Salaberry, who settled in Canada in 1735, was descended from the noble family of Irumberry de Salaberry in the Pays des Basques. At fourteen years of age Charles Michel joined the 60th regiment, and soon obtained the rank of lieutenant. He served for eleven years in the West Indies under General Robert Prescott [q. v.], and was present in 1794 at the conquest of Martinique. In 1809 he was stationed in Ireland, and in the following year took part in the unfortunate Walcheren expedition. In 1811 he returned to Canada with the rank of major as aide-de-camp of Major-general Rottenberg. In the following year, on the declaration of war against England by the United States, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and entrusted with the organisation of the Canadian voltigeurs. In 1812, at the head of these troops, he encountered General Dearborn's vanguard, numbering fourteen hundred men, at La Colle, and drove them back. In the following year the Americans renewed the invasion with larger forces. Two armies, each numbering seven or eight thousand men, invaded Canada, intending to converge on Montreal. One, under Hampton, took the route by Lake Champlain; the other, under Dearborn and Wilkinson, advanced by Kingston. In October Salaberry, at the head of four hundred voltigeurs, encountered Hampton's outposts at Odeltown. He repulsed them, and succeeded in striking terror into the whole force. After several days' indecision, Hampton marched westward to unite his forces with Wilkinson's. To prevent the junction, Salaberry posted himself at Chateauguay on Hampton's route in an exceedingly strong position, defended by swamps and woods. Although he had little more than three hundred men at his disposal, he succeeded on 25 Oct. in repulsing the American attack and in forcing Hampton to retreat from Canada altogether. This action gained for Salaberry the name of the ‘Canadian Leonidas.’ On learning of it, Wilkinson deemed it prudent to abandon offensive operations, and Lower Canada was secured from further invasion. In recognition of his services, Salaberry was made a companion of the Bath. After the conclusion of the war he turned his attention to politics, and in 1818 was called to the legislative chamber. He died on 26 Feb. 1829 at his residence at Chambly, near Montreal. By his wife, Mlle. Hertel de Rouville, whom he married early in 1812, he had four sons and three daughters. His sons were: Alphonse Melchior, deputy adjutant-general of militia for Lower Canada; Louis Michel, Maurice, and Charles René. His portrait was painted by Dickinson and engraved by Durand.

[Morgan's Celebrated Canadians, pp. 496–200; James's Military Occurrences of the Late War, i. 306–18; Christie's late War in Canada, pp. 90–1, 141–7; David's Héros de Chateauguay, 2nd edit. 1883; Gent. Mag. 1813 ii. 617, 1814 i. 169, 276.]

E. I. C.