LEGARDEUR DE REPENTIGNY, LOUIS, officer in the colonial regular troops; b. 5 Aug. 1721 in Montreal (Que.), son of Jean-Baptiste-René Legardeur de Repentigny and Marie-Catherine Juchereau de Saint-Denis; d. 11 Oct. 1786 in Paris, France.
Louis Legardeur de Repentigny began military service at the age of 13 and in 1741 was breveted second ensign in the colonial regular troops. After this appointment he remained in the region of Fort Saint-Frédéric (near Crown Point, N.Y.) and was sent on various reconnaissance and scouting operations along the frontier. In 1745 he took part in an expedition against Saratoga (Schuylerville, N.Y.). Repentigny was promoted ensign in 1748, lieutenant in 1751, and captain in 1759, and during this period he participated in nearly all the campaigns fought in Canada. He served mainly in the region of Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Mich.), taking charge of Fort Saint-Joseph (Niles) in 1750, and then of a fort he built two years later on his seigneury of Sault-Sainte-Marie (in the vicinity of Sault Ste Marie, Mich.), whose command he retained until 1758 or 1759. As well, Repentigny received special commissions and served in Acadia in 1746 and 1747 as leader of a detachment of 30 Canadians [see Jean-Baptiste-Nicolas-Roch de Ramezay]. In 1757 he took part in the military operations against Fort George (also called Fort William Henry; now Lake George, N.Y.) and in the battle at Carillon (Ticonderoga, N.Y.) in 1758.
The next year, and throughout the Quebec campaign, he commanded the army reserve. On 31 July he repulsed Wolfe*’s landing at the ford across the Montmorency, and he fought in the battle of the Plains of Abraham, afterwards withdrawing to Pointe-aux-Trembles (Neuville), where he was in charge until November 1759. As officer commanding the colony’s militia units, Repentigny distinguished himself at the battle of Sainte-Foy on 28 April 1760. With his force he played a decisive role in blocking the British centre and twice repulsing it. “This brigade was the only one that the enemy did not make yield an inch of ground,” wrote Governor Vaudreuil [Rigaud]. Repentigny joined the retreat to Montreal; then, refusing British domination, he went to France after the colony’s surrender. He said that he was ruined, for he had left landed property in Canada worth 278,000 livres. In 1762, at the head of a 200-man detachment being sent to reinforce Charles-Henri-Louis d’Arsac de Ternay’s expedition, Repentigny set out for Newfoundland, but he was taken prisoner en route by the British vessel Dragon. He was also made a knight of the order of Saint-Louis that year.
Although Repentigny, like all former officers of the colonial regular troops, complained of being passed over in favour of officers from the regular army, he continued to serve in colonial forces. In 1769 he was in command of the depot for colonial recruits on the Île de Ré and the following year was promoted lieutenant-colonel. He took command, as colonel, of the Régiment d’Amérique in 1773 and of the Régiment de Guadeloupe four years later; in June 1780 he also received command, against his wishes, of the Régiment de Martinique. In 1783 Repentigny was named governor of Senegal and assigned responsibility for resuming possession of this colony, which had been restored to France by the treaty of Versailles; his main task was to protect the trade in gum arabic. Difficulties that developed with traders led to his recall in October 1785. He was ill when he left the island of Gorée on 24 April 1786 in the Bayonnaise, and he arrived back in France only to die.
Repentigny, who had to his credit 16 campaigns, 12 battles, and 2 sieges, was held in varying esteem by his superiors. In 1759 Lévis praised his talents and zeal, and in 1774 the Comte de Genlis noted that he “has served the king for 35 years and on every occasion has given proof of his zeal and conscientiousness”; on the other hand, at Guadeloupe he was blamed for lacking firmness, discernment, and impartiality. The king’s order for his appointment to Senegal stated: “This officer, [although] ill-fitted to command a corps, is endowed with honesty and unselfishness.”
Repentigny had married Marie-Madeleine, the daughter of Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros* de Léry, at Quebec on 20 April 1750. They had at least one son, Louis-Gaspard, who was born at Quebec on 10 July 1753 and was lieutenant-commander and port captain at Point-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, at the time of his death on 2 July 1808.
AN, Col., C11A, 105, f.12; D2C, 7, f.152; 101, ff. 153, 225; 204, f.2; 205, f.1; E, 72 (dossier Legardeur de Repentigny). Coll. des manuscrits de Lévis (Casgrain), II, 257. Æ. Fauteux, Les chevaliers de Saint-Louis, 191. Le Jeune, Dictionnaire, II, 520. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, V, 293. Léonce Jore, “Un Canadien gouverneur du Sénégal, Louis Le Gardeur de Repentigny (1721–1786),” RHAF, XV (1961–62), 64–89, 256–76, 396–418. P.-G. Roy, “La famille LeGardeur de Repentigny,” BRH, LIII (1947), 238.