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Bouquet, Henry

Bouquet, Henry

BOUQUET, HENRY. (1719–1765). Swiss-born British army officer and military theorist. After a careful education Bouquet entered the Dutch service in 1736, and during the War of the Austrian Succession he fought for the Sardinians, probably learning something of light infantry tactics in the process. In 1748 he became captain commandant and lieutenant colonel of a Swiss Guards regiment being formed by the Prince of Orange to occupy fortresses being given up by the French. This brought him into pleasant contact with the British, and in 1756 to a lieutenant colonelcy in the new Royal American (60th) regiment being formed for service in North America. Bouquet, who seems already to have devoured numerous modern works on military theory, was particularly impressed by Count Turpin de Crisse's Essai sur l'art de la Guerre (1754) and went to America determined to apply its maxims to American conditions. After a brief period in South Carolina, where a French attack was expected, his battalion joined Forbes's expedition in Pennsylvania. Bouquet quickly realised Native Americans were far more dangerous than any European light infantry and analysed the principles behind their methods: attempt to surround the enemy, always adopt an open deployment, and always yield ground when attacked in force. Soon he was systematically training his battalion in counter-tactics devised by himself and enthusiastically pressing de Crisse's book upon his colleagues. He allowed the ambitious and plausible Grant to bounce him into authorising a reconnaissance in force, but was not responsible for the unauthorised attack which led to Grant's defeat and capture at Fort Duquesne. In Pontiac's War he relieved Fort Pitt after a hard-fought victory at Bush Run (5-6 August 1763) and went on to lead an expedition that forced the Shawnees and Delawares to make peace in 1764. He was then made brigadier general and given the command of all British troops in the southern colonies, but died in an epidemic at Pensacola in the autumn of 1765.

Bouquet's personal attitude to Native Americans is controversial: while he seems to have removed settlers from the upper Ohio in anticipation of the Proclamation of 1763, he did not dissent from Amherst's proposal to distribute smallpox-infected blankets at the start of Pontiac's War. However, his status as an important innovator and theorist of light infantry methods in closed country is beyond dispute. William Smith's account of Bouquet's Ohio campaigns was prepared with papers given to him by Bouquet and the second edition (1766) included a reflective appendix almost certainly by Bouquet's pen. The light infantry methods pioneered by Bouquet and others, though neglected in the 1760s, were quickly revived and adapted in the War of American Independence, and had a permanent effect upon the tactics of the British army.


Beattie, D. J. "The Adaptation of the British Army to Wilderness-Warfare, 1755–1763." In Adapting to Conditions: War and Society in the 18th Century, edited by M. Ultee. Tuscaloosa, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 1986.

Brumwell, Stephen. Redcoats: The British Soldier and War in the Americas, 1755–1763. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Dowd. Gregory Evans. War Under Heaven: Pontiac, the Indian Nations and the British Empire. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.

Hinderaker, Eric. Elusive Empires: Constructing Colonialism in the Ohio Valley, 1673–1800. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Houlding, J. A. Fit for Service: The Training of the British Army, 1715–1795. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.

                                    revised by John Oliphant

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