Troublous Times in Canada - A History of the Fenian Raids of 1866 and 1870
by John A. Macdonald
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Late that night signal lights were displayed from the American shore, which by the Fenian code signified to Gen. O'Neil that a movement was on foot in Buffalo to attempt to run the blockade with reinforcements. But the remnant of the Fenian army which was bivouacked in the ruins of old Fort Erie was too much demoralized to take any further interest in the campaign, and signalled back the information that the reinforcements were too late—that they intended to evacuate the country, and needed speedy relief.

About midnight two steam tugs, with a couple of canal boats in tow, quietly slipped out of Buffalo Creek, and escaping the vigilance of the American authorities, headed for the Canadian shore. These boats contained about 500 reinforcements for the Fenians, but when about half way over the river the transports were met by a messenger in a rowboat with an order from Gen. O'Neil, directing them to return to Buffalo, disembark all the troops, and immediately proceed back to Fort Erie to carry off the remainder of his men. The order was obeyed, and at 1 o'clock on the morning of June 3rd all in the camp were shipped on board of the canal boats and started back across the river. When about half way over, and in American waters, the retreating army was hailed by the armed tug "Harrison," under command of Acting Master Morris of the gunboat "Michigan," who demanded an immediate surrender to the United States authorities. The order not being promptly obeyed, it was repeated with a threat to sink the canal boats if not immediately complied with. Gen. O'Neil, realizing that resistance was useless, then surrendered the remnant of his command. The "Michigan" was signalled, and having steam up and anchor tripped, came alongside, and taking the tug and canal boats in tow, proceeded down the river to a point opposite Black Rock, where she dropped anchor in mid-stream and placed a guard over the prisoners. Gen. O'Neil and his principal officers were taken on board the "Michigan," while the rank and file were left huddled up on the canal boats for the night.

When the main body of the Fenians evacuated Canada their movement was executed so hurriedly that the officers did not take time to notify their pickets and patrols, who were still faithfully performing their duties, so that about 150 of these "patriots" were deserted by their comrades and exposed to the halter. Great indignation was manifested by these men at being left as they were on outpost duty without any notification of the proposed withdrawal of the Fenians from Canada. Had it not been for the approach of Major Denison's cavalry, which encountered their picket line at Bowen's Farm and caused their retreat to Fort Erie, none of them would probably have learned of the evacuation in time to escape. As it was, a large number of these men were captured by the Canadians the next day and consigned to prison, while the remainder managed to get across the border in various ways.

Commander Bryson, of the "Michigan," at once telegraphed to the United States authorities at Washington, reporting the capture of the main portion of Gen. O'Neil's forces, and asked for instructions regarding their disposition. Pending official correspondence between the two Governments relative to the prisoners, they were kept under close guard for a day or two. But as the British Government made no immediate demand for their extradition, the rank and file were liberated on their own recognizances to the amount of $500 each, binding them to appear if a complaint was lodged against them.

Gen. O'Neil and the other officers who were captured by the "Michigan" were released on bail, to appear when called on for trial on charges of violations of the neutrality laws, but the proceedings were quietly dropped, and thus the matter ended.

This disposal of the prisoners captured by the "Michigan" did not meet with popular approval in Canada, where our people were mourning the loss of some of our bravest and best young volunteers, and feelings of resentment held sway for some time. It was thought that an example should have been made of the leaders at least, but the diplomats who had charge of the matter evidently felt that a policy of moderation and leniency might be exercised with beneficial results at that particular time, and the raiders were not further molested.

The City of Buffalo, on the 4th of June, was full of Fenians. They had been arriving from all parts to take part in the raid, and only for the vigilance of the United States troops, were prepared to make another attempt to cross the line. But General Meade was firm in his resolve to prevent further disturbances, and issued the following order:

Headquarters Mil. Div. Atlantic. Buffalo, June 3, 1866.

Brevet Maj.-Gen. Barry:

General,—Orders will be sent you from Headquarters, Department of the East, assigning you to the command of the District of Ontario, extending from Erie, Pa., to Oswego, New York, both places included, Headquarters at Buffalo. In advance of the orders and accompanying instructions, I direct you to use the force at your command to preserve the neutrality by preventing the crossing of armed bodies, by cutting off reinforcements or supplies, by seizing all arms, munitions, etc., which you have reason to believe are destined to be used unlawfully—in fine, taking all measures precautionary and otherwise to prevent violation of law. For this purpose you will move the forces under your command to such points as are threatened, and you will employ vessels, tugs, or others, such as can be procured, for watching the river and lake shores, and taking all such measures as in your judgment the emergency requires.

Very respectfully,

GEO. G. MEADE, Major-General Commanding.

In accordance with the above instructions, Gen. Barry very thoroughly guarded the United States frontier with troops, while the United States man-of-war "Michigan," the "Fessenden," and other armed steamers, patrolled the lakes and the Niagara River with the full determination to rigidly carry out Gen. Meade's orders. This was a crushing blow to the hopes of the rank and file of the Irish Republican Army, and there were many who were inclined to defy the Federal authorities and fight their way over the border. But wiser counsels prevailed, and the fiery subordinates were obliged to submit to the law and await another opportunity.

During the following ten days the people of Buffalo had a horde of very undesirable guests within their gates. The majority of the Fenian troops were without means of subsistence, and became a charge upon the authorities and their sympathizers. The question of their disposal was at last decided by the United States Government offering transportation to their homes to all who would agree to sign the following:


We, the undersigned, belonging to the Fenian Brotherhood, being now assembled in Buffalo, with intentions which have been decided by the United States authorities as in violation of the neutrality laws of the United States; but being now desirous to return to our homes, do severally agree and promise to abandon our expedition against Canada, desist from any violation of the neutrality laws of the United States, and return immediately to our respective homes.

This offer was largely taken advantage of, and muster rolls were made out as rapidly as possible. The number of signatures obtained to the written paroles was 5,166 during the afternoon of June 15th, and that night these men departed for their homes, much to the relief of the citizens of Buffalo, who had become weary of their guests.

Previous to the departure of the disappointed warriors from Buffalo, the Fenian General Burns issued the following farewell address:

Buffalo, June 14, 1860.

To the Officers and Soldiers of the Irish Republican Army in Buffalo:

Brothers,—Orders having been received from President Roberts, requesting you to return to your homes, it becomes my duty to promulgate said order in this department. Having been but a few days among you, and witnessing with pride your manly bearing and soldierly conduct in refraining from all acts of lawlessness on the citizens of this city, it grieves me to part with you so soon. I had hoped to lead you against the common enemy of human freedom, viz., England, and would have done so had not the extreme vigilance of the United States Government frustrated our plans. It was the United States, and not England, that impeded our onward march to freedom. Return to your homes for the present, with the conviction that this impediment will soon be removed by the representatives of the nation. Be firm in your determination to renew the contest when duty calls you forth; the cause is too sacred to falter for a moment. Let your present disappointment only prompt you to renewed energy in the future. Be patient, bide your time, organize your strength, and as liberty is your watch-word, it will finally be your sword. In leaving this city, where you have bountifully shared the hospitality of the citizens, I beg of you to maintain the same decorum that has characterized your actions whilst here.

(Signed) M. W. BURNS, Brigadier General Commanding Irish Army at Buffalo.



No matter where you find a true Canadian, he holds in the depths of his heart a love and reverence for his native land and its flag which cannot be uprooted. He may "roam 'neath alien skies" or tread a foreign shore, but his heart ever beats true to his homeland, and when his services are required in defence of her shores he does not as a rule require to be summoned hence. He acts on the impulse of the occasion, and quickly buckles on his armor to take the field for the honor of his country.

This national trait was never more spontaneously illustrated than during the perilous periods of the Fenian Raids. Many of the stalwart sons of Canada were temporarily residing in the United States at these times, and had exceptional opportunities of noticing the constant preparations that were being made by the Fenian plotters to invade the land of their birth. Oft-times, perhaps, they were reminded by their American and Fenian shopmates or fellow-employees, of the fact that they were aliens, who were only permitted to reside in the United States on sufferance, and insults and epithets would be hurled at them because they were "bloody Canucks." But the Canadian boys always kept a stiff upper lip, and when insolence became too intolerable they were not afraid to assert their manhood by the use of a little physical force, and teach their tormentors that a Canadian has rights which all men are bound to respect.

Quite a colony of Canadians resided in the City of Chicago, Illinois, in 1866, many of them holding lucrative positions in employment where brains, energy and confidence were the chief essentials required. As a natural result these loyal boys chafed in spirit, and their breasts heaved in indignation, when they observed the open encouragement and financial assistance which was being given to the Fenians by the citizens of that metropolis to enable them to carry out their nefarious plans to conquer Canada.

For the purpose of meeting together for mutual counsel, and more firmly welding the bonds of loyalty and unity among themselves, these young men organized the "Chicago Canadian Society," with Mr. John Ford (an old Toronto boy) as President. The formation of this Association in one of the hottest hot-beds of Fenianism in America, required men of courage and reliance to uphold its principles, and in this they were specially fortunate. From the President down to the most youthful member they were all "hearts of oak"—men who unflinchingly stood by their principles, and had their love of country so deep at heart that they resolved to sacrifice their positions and return to their native land to offer their services to the Government as soon as occasion demanded. They accordingly organized a military company, with the sturdy patriot. John Ford, as their Captain, and began drilling.

They had not long to wait before the news was received in Chicago that the Fenians had landed in Canada, and that the time for action had arrived. So the "Chicago Volunteers" at once decided to individually resign their situations and leave for "the Land of the Maple" to fight for their flag. While the Company was making preparations for their journey, Capt. Ford was sent ahead to make the necessary arrangements at Windsor for their reception, and to formally offer their services to the Government. Capt. Ford had a dangerous trip en route, as many of the most violent Chicago Fenians knew him personally and were inclined to "put him out of business." But the Captain was a stalwart, determined young man, full of fire and courage, and being ready for any emergency, he succeeded in getting through to Windsor without any serious trouble, although dogged all the way by Fenians, who only waited an opportunity to assault him. On arrival at Windsor he consulted with Mr. Gilbert McMicken, the Police Magistrate, who advised him to proceed on to Toronto with his Company. He then telegraphed his comrades to come along, and they quickly answered the summons. That night the whole Company of 57 men left Chicago for Canada, and great was their delight when they lined up at Windsor the next morning under the folds of the Union Jack, and gave three hearty cheers for their Queen and country. Two companies of volunteers, accompanied by the Mayor and a large concourse of citizens, were at the railway ferry dock to meet the boys, and gave them a great reception.

They then proceeded by the Great Western Railway to Toronto, receiving hearty ovations at London, Hamilton and every station at which they stopped, until they arrived at their destination at 10 o'clock on the night of June 5th. They were met at the depot by a guard of honor composed of two companies of volunteers, His Worship Mayor Metcalfe, and a large number of citizens, and escorted to the Drill Shed, where short addresses were delivered to them by the Mayor, Hon. George Brown, Mr. T. M. Daly, and others, thanking them warmly for their patriotism and manly conduct in making personal sacrifices to return to their native soil and defend their country in a time of peril.

Capt. Ford and Lieut. G. R. Kingsmill replied in suitable terms on behalf of their Chicago comrades, saying that they could vouch that every man would do his duty fearlessly, should their services be required. They both stated that if necessary an entire regiment could have been raised in Chicago for the defence of Canada, so ardent were the Canadians in that city to assist in driving out the invaders.

After hearty cheers had been given for the Queen, the Chicago Volunteers, and the men on duty at the front, the Chicago men were marched to the Metropolitan Hotel and the Robinson House, where refreshments and lodgings had been provided for them for the night.

On the following morning this band of patriots formally tendered their services to the Government as a company to be enrolled as volunteers for the defence of the Province. The Mayor and Col. Durie (Assistant Adjutant-General) called on Gen. Napier, and presented the offer, which was immediately accepted by the General on behalf of the Government. At the same time he spoke in the most complimentary terms of the patriotic spirit evinced by these gallant young men, and desired Col. Durie and the Mayor to convey his views to them.

The corps was named "No. 1 Company of Volunteers for Canada," and the following officers were chosen: Captain. John Ford; Lieutenant, George R. Kingsmill; Ensign. Hector Ross; 1st Sergeant, Samuel Ridout; 2nd Sergeant, T. D. Skinner; 3rd Sergeant, W. F. Collins; 4th Sergeant, J. H. Cornish; 1st Corporal,

John Allen; 2nd Corporal, G. J. Fitzsimmons; 3rd Corporal, John Ginn; Lance Corporal, George McKay. The privates were: C. T. Wright. B. Baskerville, R. Gilbert. T. English, R. Mason, J. Moore, F. Gatrell, T. G. Rice. R. S. Shenston, W. E. Richards, W. Grain, W. Skinner, C. J. Mitchell. S. Langford, J. Cavers, S. McKay, G. B. Roberts. J. Hillman. F. Baker, J. C. Keighley, J. J. Innes, C. Rubidge. L. Werden. W. Orr. J. Fraser, J. Wickens, J. G. Kinnear, W. H. Rice, George Morehead, John Travers, W. Beck, Luke E. Kingsmill, S. Gordon, E. Smith, G. Mothersill. W. S. Cottingham, S. Langford, A. Babley, J. W. Dunn, S. McCallum, W. Ford, 0. S. Hillman. J. Healey, C. C. Baines, James J. James, and F. W. Nation.

The Chicago Volunteers remained on guard duty at Toronto until all danger was passed, when they were relieved from service and permitted to return to their homes. Previous to their departure a grand reception was given in their honor at the Music Hall, where an immense concourse of people assembled to assist in paying them a royal tribute of praise for their loyal service.

His Worship Mayor Metcalfe presided, and after delivering a splendid patriotic oration, presented Capt. Ford and his comrades with an address from the Mayor and Corporation of the City of Toronto, expressive of the high opinion of their patriotism that prevailed among the citizens and their countrymen generally.

The address was accompanied by the presentation of a handsome Union Jack, on which was inscribed, "Presented to the Chicago Volunteers by the City Council. Toronto."

Capt. Ford and his officers replied in fitting terms to the sentiments expressed by the Mayor, and assured him that should occasion ever again arise to necessitate their services, they would promptly respond to the summons.

Capt. John Ford (who at the date of issue of this book is still alive and as full of fire and patriotism as in days of yore) is a well-known and highly respected citizen of Toronto, whose friends are many. By request of the author he has given the following personal recollections of the organization of "The Chicago Volunteers" and their trip home to Canada, which I feel will prove of great interest to the reader:—

"As all old citizens of Toronto will well remember, they had for neighbors years ago some who were keen sympathizers with the Fenians, and whose relatives were seen in Fenian processions in Chicago and other American cities. As circumstances took many young men from Canada to the States, we found on foregathering on one occasion in the old Post Office in Chicago, in 1864, that we numbered 75, all former citizens of Toronto. We then organized the "Chicago Canadian Society," meeting weekly for drill and social purposes in the hall of the American Protestant Association. Our drill instructors were Military School cadets, holding first and second-class certificates. We found that the Fenian organization was raising money and manufacturing pikes, and in the year 1864 they held an Irish National Fair for the purpose of increasing their fund. Quite a number of Canadians visited the Fair, and saw soil or turf from Ireland sold in envelopes for 25 cents each, and also "Irish bonds," to be redeemed on the consummation of the object of the Fenian organization, or the capture of Canada; and to show the ease in which they expected to accomplish this end, a stuffed lion was shown with its tail between its legs, and head down, covered with a calf-skin. On lifting the calf-skin the calf's head appeared, their idea evidently being to cast ridicule on the bravery of the British lion or the nation.

"On the evening of May 24th, 1865, we held a banquet in the Washington Coffee House, which was largely attended, and the toast of 'The Queen and Royal Family,' and other patriotic sentiments, were enthusiastically honored.

"On attending one of the Fenian recruiting meetings in Metropolitan Hall, we saw upwards of 1,000 veteran cavalry men enrolled for service, who, it was announced, were to be mounted on horses between Hamilton and Toronto. This enrollment was only part of the 37,000 guaranteed by the delegates from Illinois at the National Convention of the Fenian Brotherhood in 1865, when the total guarantee was 250,000 men. Needless to say, we were thoroughly alarmed, and prepared to leave for home on short notice.

"On the day of the Raid (June 2nd, 1866) at about 3 p.m., it was reported in Chicago that 30,000 men had crossed into Canada, had destroyed the Welland Canal, and were advancing on Stoney Creek, expecting to be in Hamilton that night. We had wired Toronto for information, and went from one telegraph office to another in vain for answers. We found out afterwards that our telegrams were lying unopened on Mayor Metcalfe's table on the following Tuesday, as that gentleman was away at the front.

"We held a meeting at Chicago on Saturday, June 2nd, 1866, and organized a second company to follow the first to Canada, provided their services would be accepted and they could get to the front. The St. George's Society guaranteed to organize more companies, which would total 1,000 men.

"Comrade Forbes and myself were appointed delegates to proceed to Detroit and open communications with the military authorities at Windsor, and offer our services. We arrived at Detroit at early dawn on Monday, June 4th, and were very much relieved, on looking across the river through the haze, to recognize the scarlet coats of the soldiers on duty on the Canadian shore. We crossed to Windsor, and met Col. McMicken; who immediately wired Hon. John A. Macdonald, Minister of Militia, tendering our services. The answer arrived in Windsor between 3 and 4 o'clock, when Col. McMicken advised me to wire the company in Chicago, and to avoid international complications he instructed us to do this in a private manner. We then sent the following message to the company: 'Ship what you have, and buy up the rest.' In Chicago the company awaited instructions in the A. P. A. Hall, and on receiving our telegram they marched to the depot through enthusiastic crowds of sympathizers, singing, "Rule, Britannia" and other patriotic songs. On arrival at the depot, Dr. Bigelow, a sympathizer, took off his Panama hat, placed a $5 greenback in it, and passed it around, raising $20 more than was required to pay the Michigan Central Railroad for two first-class coaches, which had been arranged for by Lieut. Kingsmill with the General Manager of the Michigan Central, who very courteously allowed us the same rates charged the United States Government when moving troops. Lieut. Kingsmill agreed to place a guard at each end of the coaches, and allow no one to enter except members of the company.

"The company arrived at Detroit early on Tuesday morning, June 5th. Col. McMicken gave Comrade Forbes and myself a pass to go to Detroit and meet the company, advising us to allow no demonstration until we had passed the centre of the river and were in Canadian waters. The company followed the advice, and when the steamer crossed the line the men went wild with enthusiasm, and were royally received in Windsor by the military authorities. This was repeated at London and Hamilton. The company arrived in Toronto on the night of Tuesday, June 5th. It took the entire police force to get the men off the train, owing to the delight of their friends and the cheering crowds who came to welcome us home. The company was then escorted to the Drill Shed by the military companies, where patriotic speeches were made by Mayor Metcalfe, Hon. Geo. Brown, and others."

Chicago was not alone in the matter of exemplifying Canadian patriotism during this trying period, as loyal sons of Canada came trooping home from nearly every quarter of the United States, and gallantly took their places in the ranks wherever a vacant place could be found. Thousands of others wrote home, volunteering their services if necessity required. These men deserve special mention on the pages of Canadian history, and it is a pleasure to the author of this book to put on record the splendid spirit of patriotism they displayed when their beloved Canada was in danger. Very many of them have passed away from earth, but their memories and worth will long be remembered by those who knew them best. To their descendants, and to all young Canadians, the loyal spirit which animated them should strongly appeal, and their deeds be emulated whenever danger threatens their native land.



Concurrent with the mustering of troops to act on land, the need of naval forces to patrol our lakes and rivers was fully realized, so preparations were quickly made in that direction. The Toronto Naval Brigade, commanded by Capt. W. P. McMaster, was a very efficient and well-disciplined corps of brave and hardy men, who were among the first to respond to the call of duty. The Government chartered the powerful steam tug "Rescue," which being properly armed, was placed in commission as the first boat in the Canadian Navy. She was manned by the Toronto Naval Brigade, and sailed out of Toronto Harbor on June 4th under sealed orders. She arrived at Port Dalhousie the same evening and proceeded through the Welland Canal and Lake Erie to Windsor, where trouble was expected. Her officers and crew were a resolute and able lot of men, who were patriotic to the core, and were keen to get into action with the enemy. It had been rumored that a Fenian fleet was being fitted out on the Upper Lakes to assist in Gen. Sweeny's programme, therefore all on board the "Rescue" were vigilant and expectant that they would have an opportunity to meet a Fenian gunboat on Lake Erie and prove their mettle.

The roster of the Toronto Naval Brigade on this expedition was as follows: Captain. W. F. McMaster; Lieutenant, Alex. McGregor; Sub-Lieutenant, E. B. Vankoughnet; Surgeon, N. McMaster; Gunner, John Field; Boatswain. R. Montgomery; Chief Engineer, J. Nicholson; Midshipmen, R. Wilson and A. Miller; Paymaster. Joseph Fletcher; Quartermaster, George Wyatt; Assistant Engineers, James Findlay and John Young; Gunner's Mate, James Morrison; Boatswain's Mates, James Ford and Richard Ardagh; Carpenter, Joseph Smith; Carpenter's Mate, John Clendinning; Armorer, Fred Oakley; Seamen, Thos. G. Cable, George Mackay, Wm. A. Wilson, John Bolam, Harry Sewart Crewe, George Fox, Wm. W. Fox, George Poulter, Samuel Crangle, Ed. Metcalfe, Fred Walker, Samuel Mountain, Charles Corin, Wm. Miles, Ed. Scadding, Joseph Fetters, Thos. Hutchinson, James Humphrey, Wm. Dillon, Wm. Maclear, Chas. Callighan, R. Y. Ellis, Joseph Bywater, John Graham, James Ferguson, Fred Yates, Harry Y. Young, George Mutton, Edward Turner, Wm. Pedlow, Samuel Pettigrew, W. J. McClure, Ben. Cope, Thos. Spence, James Craig, Clarence Cooch, W. Cooch, T. Mulholland, Sam. Parker, E. J. Hobson, J. G. Hutchinson, Thos. Lunday, Geo. Williams, George Oakley; Powder Boys, F. H. Moulson and Gus Ellis.

Mr. E. B. Vankoughnet (a Toronto boy, who was then serving as a midshipman on board Her Majesty's warship "Aurora," lying at Quebec, and who was home on a visit at the time) wired his commanding officer for leave to join the "Rescue," and being granted permission, reported for duty to Capt. McMaster and was attached to the Toronto Naval Brigade as Sub-Lieutenant on board the "Rescue" before she sailed.

As an example of the alacrity which marked the men of the Toronto Naval Brigade, it may be mentioned that when they received orders to go on board the "Rescue" on Sunday morning, June 3rd, and fit her up for service, they responded so promptly that before evening they had put 67 tons of coal on board, besides transforming the boat from a peaceful tug to a veritable gunboat by making such alterations as were necessary for that purpose. All were workers, and "handy men" either ashore or afloat, and that night everything was so snug and secure that they took up their quarters on board, fully provisioned for a cruise. Early next morning the "Rescue" steamed up to the Queen's Wharf and took on board her armament and ammunition. A large 32-pound gun was mounted on the main deck, in a position available for service in any direction required, while the projectiles were placed in pyramidal piles near-by, so as to be convenient for quick action.

On the afternoon of the 5th of June, while proceeding up Lake Erie, a suspicious-looking steamer was seen approaching from the west. Heavy clouds of black smoke belched forth from her funnels, and she appeared to be heading for the "Rescue" under full speed. As rumors of a Fenian flotilla on the Upper Lakes had prevailed, it was conjectured that this strange craft might be one of the enemy's gunboats, and consequently its appearance caused some excitement on board the "Rescue." The men were called to quarters, the 32-pounder loaded and charged with chain-shot, and every preparation made to give battle in case the approaching steamer should happen to be a foe. As it came nearer it was seen that she was a side-wheeler, and was evidently crowding on all steam. Jack Fields (an experienced gunner) took charge of the 32-pounder, which he carefully trained on the stranger, and remarked: "We will take that walking-beam out of her." All were now expectant, and ready for action, awaiting orders to fire. But as the steamer approached closer it was learned that she was the United States revenue cutter "Fessenden," which was on patrol duty on Lake Erie, on the look-out for Fenians also, and her commander had intended to overhaul the "Rescue," as he likewise thought her suspicious-looking. After a friendly "hail" and mutual explanations, both steamers proceeded on their way.

At about 12 o'clock that night, when about off Port Stanley, a heavy storm of wind and rain arose, and the crew of the "Rescue" experienced a very rough time. The boat pitched and rolled in the trough of the heavy seas, and she sprang a leak. The big gun threatened to break loose from its lashings, and had to be thoroughly secured by cables. The round shot, which had been built up in pyramids on the deck, got away from their base-frames and were rolling in every direction, while the high waves swept over the bulwarks, deluging the men with water. During the whole of the night and part of the next day the men were kept constantly at the pumps, and by dint of hard work succeeded in keeping the boat afloat until the gale subsided and they entered calmer waters. The crew were pretty well worn out with hunger and fatigue when they reached the mouth of the Detroit River on the evening of the 6th of June. They arrived at Windsor about 8 o'clock on the same night, weary, but none the worse of their experience in a Lake Erie storm, which is said by old sailors to be the worst that can rage on any sea.

As matters looked serious along the Detroit River and Upper Lakes, it was decided to strengthen the naval force at Windsor by equipping another boat for service. Therefore the staunch ferry steamer "Michigan" was chartered and details of British tars from Her Majesty's Ship "Aurora" were brought up from Quebec to form her crew, and also to relieve the Toronto Naval Brigade from duty on the "Rescue," as Capt. McMaster had received orders to transfer his command to the "Magnet" and cruise the lakes. Both the "Michigan" and the "Rescue" were then efficiently armed and equipped for the naval service required, and went into commission under British officers and crews. Each boat had an armament of two Armstrong ship guns (9 and 12-pounders), with full supplies of ammunition, and were manned by one Lieutenant, one Second Lieutenant, and midshipmen, doctors, carpenters, etc., with about 90 seamen, 22 marines and seven other officers, all armed with rifles, cutlasses, revolvers and dirks. Lieut. Fairlie, R.N., and Lieut. Heron, R.N. (both of the British man-of-war "Aurora"), were placed in command of the "Rescue" and "Michigan," respectively.

On being relieved from duty on the "Rescue" by the British seamen, Capt. McMaster and his men proceeded to Toronto to fit out the steamer "Magnet" for lake service. They had just completed this arduous work and were awaiting sailing instructions, when an order came that their services were not needed for the present. In relieving them from further service they were specially thanked by Gen. Napier for the creditable manner in which they had done their duty, in the following order:

Assistant Adjt.-General's Office. Toronto, June 10. 1866.

Sir,—I am directed by Maj.-Gen. Napier, C.B., commanding Her Majesty's forces and volunteers, Canada West, to express to you his thanks for the efficient services rendered by the Naval Brigade under your command, particularly recently, when required to take charge of and convert the steamer "Rescue" into a gunboat, in discharging her cargo and getting the necessary armament on board in a very short time and in a highly creditable manner; and, when relieved from the charge of the "Rescue." in performing similar good services when placed in command of the steamer "Magnet." And the Major-General will not fail to again avail himself of the services of the Naval Brigade afloat should an opportunity occur, and will have great pleasure in bringing before the notice of His Excellency the Governor-General the important and valuable services which they have rendered.

I have the honor to be, Sir, Your obedient servant,

Capt. McMaster, Commanding Naval Brigade, Toronto.

W.M. S. DURIE, Lt.-Col., A.A.G.M.

On the St. Lawrence River the necessity for a patrol of gunboats was also very manifest, and the Government fitted out the steamer "Watertown" for such service. She was placed in command of Lieut. French, and was employed in cruising the upper part of the St. Lawrence and the lower portion of Lake Ontario, making her port of rendezvous at Kingston.

The gunboat "St. Andrew," commanded by Lieut. Spencer Smith, R.N., and manned by a detachment of British man-of-warsmen, patrolled the St. Lawrence between Brockville and Gananoque. She carried five guns, and her crew were armed with the usual fighting equipment of seamen in the British navy.

The steamer "Wabuno" was armed and placed in commission to cruise on the Georgian Bay, in which waters her crew performed active and vigilant service on patrol duty for several weeks.

On the Niagara River and Lake Erie the steamer "W. T. Robb" was retained in commission and fitted up for service as a cruiser. In addition to the Dunnville Naval Brigade, a detachment of the St. Catharines Garrison Battery (under command of Lieut. James Wilson) was placed on board with two guns, a 9-pounder and a 12-pound howitzer, and the necessary complement of small arms. The wheel-house and cabins were covered with boiler plates, and the bulwarks strengthened by heavy planking for the protection of her crew, so that she was soon converted into a formidable craft and admirably fitted for the work she was detailed to do. This boat was kept busy patrolling the Niagara River and the lower portion of Lake Erie, and her crew did excellent night and day service during the time she was so employed.

At Montreal the gunboat "Royal" was fitted out and despatched through the St. Lawrence Canals and River. She was armed with an Armstrong 12-pounder and a brass howitzer forward, and a 12-pound Armstrong gun aft. Her batteries around bows and stern were cased with iron for the protection of the men working the guns, and her wheel-house protected with sand-bags, making her secure against rifle fire. The gun-boats "Hercules" and "Canada" were also put in commission at Montreal and thoroughly outfitted for service on the lakes and river.

To aid in the protection of Montreal harbor H. M. ship "Rosario" (Capt. Versturme) was despatched from Quebec to that point. She was a steam screw sloop of 673 tons and 150 horsepower, with an armament of eleven guns, and had a full complement of British sailors and marines.

At Hamilton and Port Stanley the Naval Brigades stationed at these points performed shore duty, and did it well. Danger hovered everywhere, and the utmost vigilance was necessary to guard every point. The country was overrun with Fenian spies and emissaries, and arrests of suspicious characters were numerous. Even at home there were traitors who needed watching, as there were some who were ready to give countenance and support to the enemy. Thus the companies who remained at their local headquarters, and the Home Guards who were enrolled for home protection, did remarkably good service along those lines.



While the sanguinary engagements which have been related in the preceding pages were in progress on the Niagara frontier, the danger of invasion was just as imminent at many other points along our border line, and excitement was consequently as intense. It was felt at the time, and subsequently confirmed as correct, that the diversion of Gen. O'Neil at Fort Erie was only a prelude to cover more formidable attacks along the line of the St. Lawrence, and the frontier of the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

To guard this lengthy border was the first precaution taken by the Government, and all troops that were available east of Toronto were promptly called out for active service. Along the St. Lawrence River the points most seriously threatened were Kingston, Brockville, Prescott and Cornwall, and the attention of the Lieutenant-General Commanding was immediately directed towards making adequate provision for the protection of those places.

At Kingston the 14th Battalion of Rifles, the Kingston Field Battery, the First Frontenac Troop of Cavalry, and the Garden Island and Portsmouth Infantry Companies, were assembled and equipped, ready to proceed to any point where their services might be required. The forts were garrisoned by regular troops, and the city put in a proper state of defence. On Sunday, the 3rd of June, just as the garrison was returning from church parade, Lieut.-Col. John Paton received orders to proceed at once with the 14th Rifles to Cornwall. The Battalion started that evening by special train for their destination, amid tremendous cheering by the patriotic citizens.

The force which was mobilized at Prescott on June 3rd consisted of one division of the Ottawa Field Battery, with two guns; the Gananoque Battery of Garrison Artillery; three companies of the Prince Consort's Own Rifle Brigade (regulars), under Major Newdegate; the left wing of the 25th King's Own Borderers (regulars); the 18th (Hawkesbury) Battalion, under command of Lieut.-Col. John Hamilton; Nos. 1 and 2 Companies of the Ottawa Rifles; the Pakenham and Fitzroy Companies of Infantry; and the 15th (Belleville) Battalion of Infantry, under command of Lieut.-Col. A. A. Campbell. Old Fort Wellington was strengthened and well equipped with three batteries of garrison artillery, and every detail arranged to properly protect the town. All of the danger points were so securely guarded by this efficient garrison (which was under the command of Col. F. T. Atcherly, D.A.G.) that the invaders would have met with an amazingly hot reception had they carried out their threatened intentions to cross the river anywhere in that vicinity.

Lieut.-Col. Crawford had command of the force which was assembled at Brockville, consisting of a battalion composed of the Brockville Rifles, Gananoque Rifles, Brockville Infantry, Perth Rifles, Perth Infantry, Carleton Place Rifles, and Almonte Infantry. These companies were exceedingly efficient, and did great service in guarding the river front and railway communications at Brockville. Col. Crawford and his troops received great praise from the Major-General for the very satisfactory manner in which they did their duty on these trying occasions.

The City of Ottawa was garrisoned by the Civil Service Rifles, Major Ross' Artillery Company, the Bell's Corners Infantry Company, and other companies from the neighborhood, assisted by a strong Home Guard.

The Grand Trunk Railway bridges at Vaudreuil, St. Ann's and Lachine were guarded by the St. Therese, Como and Varennes Infantry Companies, this arduous duty being very accurately and vigilantly performed by the corps mentioned.

At Cornwall the situation was exceedingly serious, as it was known that Gen. Sweeny had particular designs on that place, and was making every preparation to deliver an attack. The possession of the canals was one of his chief desires, and to ward off such an attempt a strong force was quickly mobilized at this point of danger. On the 2nd of June a public meeting of citizens was called and a committee appointed to act in concert with the military commandant in putting the town in a thorough state of defence. A patrol was established for ten miles up and down the river by the local companies, and navigation on the river and through the canal was stopped. Early on the 3rd of June troops began arriving from different points, and by the following morning over 2,000 had been assembled under the command of Col. T. H. Pakenham, of H. M. 30th Regiment. The Canadian force which was mustered at Cornwall was composed of the 14th (Kingston) Battalion, the 25th Regiment (King's Own Borderers), the 11th Argenteuil Rangers, a portion of H. M. 30th Regiment, one division of the Ottawa Field Battery, the 6th Hochelaga Light Infantry, two companies of Ottawa Rifles, and two Cornwall companies.

On the St. John's and Missisquoi frontiers the local companies of Frelighsburg, Philipsburg, Granby and Waterloo were posted, under command of Col. F. R. Elrington, of the P. C. O. Rifle Brigade, and kept a sharp look-out for the appearance of the enemy. They received numerous "alarms." but beyond a general expectancy of a conflict which kept them on the alert, they did not have an opportunity of proving their valor.

Lieut.-Col. W. Osborne Smith, D.A.G., had command of the troops which were assembled on the Huntingdon and Hemmingford frontiers, which consisted of the 1st Prince of Wales Rifles (Lieut.-Col. B. Devlin), of Montreal; the Victoria Rifles, of Montreal; one division of Capt. A. A. Stevenson's Field Battery, of Montreal; the Hemmingford. Roxham and Havelock Infantry Companies, and a detachment of the Montreal Cavalry. With this force he proceeded to Hemmingford, where he halted on the 3rd and sent out scouts to observe the operations of the enemy on the frontier. Learning that an attack was likely to be made on the Huntingdon frontier. Col. Smith left next morning at daybreak with his column for the threatened point. The weather was exceedingly unfavorable, as it rained incessantly all day, and the roads were in a very bad state. Still he pushed on, and covered 37 miles, which his troops accomplished in a splendid manner, and went into camp that night with only two patients reported on the hospital returns as being incapacitated by the fatiguing march. The direct approach to Huntingdon from Malone, where the Fenians were mobilizing, is by the Trout River Road, and across this path Col. Smith constructed a line of breastworks and awaited the approach of the enemy. His position was admirably chosen, and had Gen. Sweeny made an advance down the Chateauguay Valley, he would have met with such a stout resistance that his defeat would have been certain, as the Canadian position was impregnable. For a few days all kinds of rumors were current of an advance being made by the Fenians, and constant vigilance was maintained, but the attack failed to eventuate.

Lieut.-Col. George Browne, D.A.G., with the 1st and 2nd Huntingdon Infantry Companies; the Athelstan, Durham and Rockburn Infantry Companies, and the Hinchinbrooke Rifle Company, also assisted to hold the Huntingdon line, and did good service in keeping guard on the frontier.

With the salient points along the Canadian border being thus securely guarded, and every soldier on the qui vive, the Fenian troops would most certainly have encountered very strong opposition before they could carry out their designs to conquer Canada.



During the night of the 31st of May a general movement of Fenian troops was commenced from different towns and cities in the New England States towards their point of concentration at St. Albans, Vermont. This force was designated as the "Right Wing of the Irish Republican Army," and was commanded by Gen. Spier, with Gen. Mahon, of Boston, as his Chief of Staff. By noon of the 1st of June over 800 men had reported to Gen. Spier, and during the following twenty-four hours their number had increased to about 1,800. Like their comrades who had assembled at Buffalo, they travelled in small squads and companies, unarmed, and were reticent as to their intentions while in American territory. They quietly scattered about the town in groups and made no disorderly demonstrations, as they seemed to be under some sort of military restraint or orders. Every train that arrived from the east or the south brought in fresh contingents, who on arrival received their orders and silently distributed themselves among the small towns and villages along the Vermont border. For some time previous cases of arms and ammunition had been shipped to convenient points where they would be ready for distribution, and staff officers were busy looking after this war material and getting everything ready for the equipment of the expedition. For a day or two matters looked very promising for Gen. Spier. Thirteen thousand troops had been promised to him by Gen. Sweeny, with an unlimited supply of arms and ammunition, and his hopes soared high. But alas for human reckoning! The fates proved unkind, as subsequent developments proved.

On the 4th of June the Boston contingent of Fenians, about 400 in number, arrived at St. Albans, without arms. Of this command about 200 were sent to Fairfield, Vt., a village eight miles east of St. Albans, and quite close to the Canadian frontier, where a column was being mobilized to cross the border.

At East Highgate, Vt., the Fenians established a camp and made preparations for an advance into Canadian territory from that point.

All along the border of Missisquoi County, in Quebec, the invaders gathered in groups, companies and regiments, awaiting their arms and orders to move. Finally a sufficient force was equipped to make a forward movement, as the men were getting impatient, and on the 4th of June Gen. Spier led his advance guard across the frontier into St. Armands, where he established his camp and set up his headquarters at Pigeon Hill, from the summit of which he flaunted a large green flag.

There were about 1,000 men in this brigade, which was officered by several old soldiers who had achieved distinction in the American Civil War, among whom were Gen. Mahon, of the 9th Massachusetts, Col. Coutri, and others of prominence.

The only Canadian force in the vicinity of St. Armands was composed of three companies of infantry, consisting of nine officers and about 100 non-commissioned officers and men, the whole being under command of Capt. W. Carter, of H. M. 16th Regiment. These troops were all raw volunteers, who were very deficient in drill or military experience, some of whom had never handled a rifle before, but all were willing and anxious to contest Gen. Spier's advance, and were brave to a fault.

As soon as the Fenians appeared in force at St. Armands, Capt. Carter hastily withdrew his force to the interior, as he said he was under the impression that it was not intended that he should bring on an engagement until he was properly reinforced, as his command was only an outpost. For his action in retiring so early he was severely criticized and reprimanded for his "error in judgment in retreating without sufficient reason," while his troops never forgave him for what they considered an exhibition of cowardice.

The main body of Gen. Spier's forces had advanced about a mile into Canadian territory, and took possession of all the houses and barns in the vicinity for their quarters. Their scouts and pickets were thrown out three or four miles in advance, and for some days they were in complete possession of the country. During this time the Fenians conducted themselves in a most lawless manner, robbing and stealing, and wantonly destroying property. All of the citizens and farmers residing in the neighborhood were the victims of pillage, being robbed of horses, provisions, valuables, etc., while cattle, sheep, poultry and other live stock were confiscated and slaughtered for the use of the raiders.

As the days passed by and the promised arms and reinforcements for Gen. Spier failed to materialize, he became restless and disheartened. The United States authorities had seized all of the arms and ammunition that could be discovered, and the fact was forced on the deluded General's mind that if he did not leave Canada soon a strong force of British troops would be upon him and annihilate his command. Moreover, the demoralization of his whole army was becoming complete, and both officers and men refused to do duty any longer. Desertions were taking place in a wholesale manner, and in several instances Colonels marched off with their entire commands and re-crossed the line. He therefore convened a Council of War to consider the situation. It was of short duration, as the officers were of the unanimous opinion that there was no other course left for them but to retrace their steps and give up the idea of invading Canada. The reinforcements, arms, provisions and munitions of war that had been so liberally promised, had failed to reach them, and weakened as they were by such wholesale desertions to the rear, it was deemed by old soldiers to be nothing but madness to remain where they were, as they would be wholly unable with such a small force to make even a decent show of a fight, should they happen to be attacked, and it was at once determined to give up the intended invasion, leave Canada, and head back for the United States.

Therefore Gen. Spier ordered Col. Coutri and Col. O'Connor to form up their men and march them back to St. Albans to report to Gen. Sweeny. Both of these officers were deeply affected as they proceeded to carry out their orders, as they wanted to stay and fight it out.

The men were formed in companies, but many went off on their own responsibility, and at 9.30 o'clock on the morning of June 9th, all that was left of the grand "Right Wing" were marching back across the border to the United States. The men had a few rounds of ammunition left in their pouches, and immediately commenced firing off their muskets and rifles in a most promiscuous manner. Arms, plunder and everything else that the men could carry off with them on their retreat were lashed upon their backs or packed in satchels, and quite a number of new suits of clothes, hats, shoes and other valuables which they had pilfered were carried off by them. Several horses were also taken across the line by the marauders.

Generals Spier and Mahon marched on foot among their retreating troops, and were very much downcast. Gen. Spier said that he would rather have been shot than have left Canada in the manner he was obliged to, while Gen. Mahon wept with rage at the thought of having to abandon the invasion. Most of the officers expressed themselves as being ashamed of the affair, and would rather never go home. After all their boasting of how easily they would capture Canada and set up their visionary Republic, the disgraceful manner in which the whole campaign terminated, without so much as a slight skirmish having taken place, was more than they could bear. There were many brave yet deluded men who joined the expedition with a determination to fight, but the majority of them were "nothing more or less than an armed mob, roving about wherever they pleased, robbing the houses and insulting and abusing women and children." as stated by a newspaper correspondent.

When the retreating raiders reached United States territory they found detachments of American troops stationed upon all the roads leading to St. Albans, who had received instructions to seize all the arms the Fenians might have in their possession. As the majority of them had thrown away their muskets, sabres and ammunition on their retreat, there was not much left for the United States troops to gather up, but what little there was left was promptly seized.

Upon arrival on the American side of the line Gen. Spier and his staff surrendered to Col. Livingston, of the United States Army, and were taken to St. Albans and placed under heavy bonds to await trial for violation of the neutrality laws.

A portion of Spier's army who were stationed at a point about eight miles from St. Armand when the main body retreated, were charged upon by 40 men of the Montreal Guides, and in the skirmish several Fenians were killed and sixteen taken prisoners, who were conveyed to Montreal. There were no casualties on the Canadian side.

On the night of the 9th of June a train left St. Albans for the east with nearly 1,000 Fenians bound for their homes, while many others were left skulking around the country in the hope that another raid would soon be organized, whereby they could have an opportunity of securing more booty.

On the 22nd of June a small party of these marauders came on a reconnoitering expedition to Pigeon Hill, and on arriving at the outpost began firing at the Richelieu Light Infantry sentinel who was stationed there. They were in a thick bush off the road, leading across the lines to Franklin County. As soon as they were perceived, the Canadian detachment made an endeavor to get between the Fenians and American territory, for the purpose of intercepting their retreat. But the Fenians fled through a swamp and managed to effect their escape. About twenty shots were fired, but without effect.

This was the last episode of the Pigeon Hill affair, and in another week peace and quietness again prevailed along the Vermont border.



The principal points of rendezvous for the Fenians who were intended to operate on the St. Lawrence frontier were Ogdensburg, Watertown, Malone and Potsdam, in the State of New York, and at these places large bodies of men began concentrating during the first two or three days in June. General Sweeny was in personal command of the troops of the Irish Republican Army in that department, and had made every arrangement to invade Canada along that line, in accordance with his original plan of campaign. He made his headquarters at Ogdensburg for a time, and from there directed the mobilization of his columns for the contemplated attacks on Prescott, Cornwall and other points on the Canadian border.

Meanwhile Gen. Michael J. Heffernan, Gen. Murphy, and Gen. O'Reilly, were at Malone, N.Y., perfecting the military organization of the column which was intended to attack Cornwall. These officers were all old soldiers, who had held commands in the United States service during the Civil War, and were well posted in the business they had on hand.

While the Fenian leaders were thus employed in getting their forces ready for the movement across the line, Major-General Geo. Meade (the commander of the United States troops) was equally active and vigilant in his determined efforts to stop the promised invasion. He ordered the seizure by the United States officials of all arms and ammunitions of war intended for use by the Fenians that could be located on American territory, and forbade the railways and other transportation companies from carrying further supplies of such material to the frontier. These orders were rigidly complied with, and seizures of arms and ammunition were made at Rouse's Point, Malone, Potsdam, Ogdensburg, Watertown, St. Albans and other places, which considerably disconcerted Gen. Sweeny's plans and thwarted his whole scheme. The presence of United States troops, which had been moved north from various military stations to support Gen. Meade in his efforts to prevent another breach of the Neutrality Act, also had a deterrent effect on the Fenians, and they became disheartened.

On the afternoon of the 4th of June, Major-General Meade ordered the United States Marshal at Watertown, N.Y., to intercept, seize and hold two carloads of Fenian war material which were on the way from Rome to Potsdam Junction and Malone. On arrival of the train at Watertown the Deputy Marshal was in waiting and promptly carried out the instructions. A carload of Fenian soldiers who were on the same train got off the car and angrily remonstrated with the officer when they learned of the seizure, but he was obdurate and retained possession of the two cars, which he had side-tracked. The Fenians remained at Watertown and began plotting for the recapture of the arms and ammunition. Not realizing that any interference with the majesty of the law would be attempted, the Marshal did not deem it necessary to place a strong guard over the two cars, and the Fenians determined to re-possess them. On arrival of the evening express train from the south they gathered around it and captured not only that train, but their two cars of supplies, and taking charge themselves, ran the whole outfit off to De Kalb Junction before they were recaptured. Several other instances of defiance of lawful authority were reported, but Gen. Meade meant business, and these infractions of his orders and the laws of the United States only served to make him more determined than ever to strangle the hopes of the Fenians before they had an opportunity of carrying out their designs.


The tardy proclamation of President Johnson was finally issued on the 6th of June, almost a week after the Fenians, under Gen. O'Neil had crossed over the Niagara. Its delay seemed significant to the Canadian people, as the President and his Cabinet were fully aware that the Fenians had been making active preparations for months previously to invade Canada, and made no secret of their intentions. The following is the text of the proclamation:—

By the President of the United States of America—A Proclamation.

Whereas, it has become known to me that certain evil-disposed persons have, within the territory and jurisdiction of the United States, begun and set on foot, and have provided and prepared, and are still engaged in providing and preparing, means for such a military expedition and enterprise to be carried on from territory and jurisdiction of the United States against colonies, districts and people of British North America within the dominions of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with which said colonies, districts, and people, and kingdom, the United States are at peace; and whereas, the proceedings aforesaid constitute a high misdemeanor, forbidden by the laws of the United States as well as by the laws of nations;

Now, therefore, for the purpose of preventing the carrying on of the unlawful expedition and enterprise aforesaid from the territory and jurisdiction of the United States, and to maintain the public peace, as well as the national honor, and enforce obedience and respect to the laws of the United States;

I, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, do admonish and warn all good citizens of the United States against taking part in or in anywise aiding, countenancing or abetting such unlawful proceedings; and I do exhort all judges, magistrates, marshals and officers in the service of the United States to employ all their lawful authority and power to prevent and defeat the aforesaid unlawful proceedings, and to arrest and bring to justice all persons who may be engaged therein, and in pursuance to the Act of Congress in such cases made and provided.

I do further authorize and empower Major-General G. G. Meade, Commander of the Military Division of the Atlantic, to employ the land and naval forces of the United States, and militia thereof, to arrest and pre vent the setting on foot and carrying on the expedition and enterprise aforesaid.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done in the City of Washington the sixth day of June, in the year of our Lord 1866, and in the independence of the United States the 90th.


By the President, WM. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Although President Johnson did not issue his neutrality proclamation until the 6th of June, orders had previously been issued to United States officers to stop further invasions, and Gen. Meade exhibited great energy and promptness in carrying out instructions so far as his Department was concerned. Fenians were gathering in thousands, with the understanding that their equipment would be at the border on their arrival, but the bulk of the coveted armament was prevented from falling into their hands owing to the watchfulness of Gen. Meade's staff of officials. This action on the part of the United States authorities deeply incensed the Fenian leaders, and they were disposed to resent any interference with their plans. During an interview between Gen. Meade and the Fenian Generals Heffernan and Murphy, at Malone, the former complained of the interference of the United States Government, and bitterly remarked: "We have been lured on by the Cabinet, and used for the purpose of Mr. Seward. They encouraged us on to this thing. We bought our rifles from your arsenals, and were given to understand that you would not interfere. But this thing is not dead yet. We will succeed. We have our orders from General Sweeny, and we can and will perform them. If we get arms we will cross into Canada. We shall fight your regulars if they oppose us." General Meade replied: "I have got orders, too, and I shall fight you to enforce the neutrality laws."

In the performance of his duty Gen. Meade was inflexible, and would not stand any bluff or bluster from the Fenian leaders. On the contrary, he became very aggressive in compelling them to respect the laws and authority of the United States, and largely through his firmness and stern efforts the whole Fenian campaign was abandoned.


On the 8th of June the United States Government caused the arrest of Col. W. B. Roberts, President of the Irish Republic, on a charge of conspiracy and violation of the Neutrality Act. He was brought before United States Commissioner Betts, at New York, and committed to jail pending a hearing of his case. From the quiet precincts of his contracted quarters he issued several proclamations, which teemed with gasconade and valiant promises, of which the following is a sample:

Ludlow St. Jail, New York, June 11, 1866. To the Fenian Brotherhood and Irishmen of America:

Friends and Countrymen,—The Irish people of America are again united in the cause of Irish independence and universal freedom. The cheer which arose from the Irish soldiers at Limestone Ridge as the English foe went fleeing before their avenging steel, had found a responsive echo in every Irish heart and made us one in love, purpose and resolve. We see, after ages of your oppression, the unquenchable desire for Irish independence blaze forth anew, and as it sweeps along the cities and prairies of this vast continent it gathers within its magic influence five millions of Irish hearts and twice five millions of friends of freedom and foes of despotism! Arise, then, my countrymen! Nerve yourselves for the struggle so nobly commenced. Cast aside every consideration that would darken the bright hopes of your enslaved countrymen. Be true to liberty, your country, and your God; and your native land, instead of being a lazar-house of slavery, will soon be the garden of freedom. Stand by the cause! Be not dismayed by obstacles you meet; you must surmount them, and you will. Let cowardice and ignorance desert and denounce you—what of that? The true men are still with us, and the struggle must not be abandoned, even though our soldiers should be compelled through the over-zeal of United States officers to abandon the present campaign. There is no turning back for us, my countrymen. Our movement must and will advance. Retrogression would entail certain infamy and bring a deeper stain upon your country and race, and it is as legitimate for you to attack English power in Canada as it was for England to attack France there, or France and America England. Remember, in union there is strength, and that Union which has been cemented by the blood of our gallant brothers must be eternal, and let that man be anathemized and banned who with lying lip or evil heart would dare to weaken or dissolve it. Be true to Ireland—steadfast in the right and undismayed by obstacles, and remember that—

"Freedom's battle once begun— Bequeathed from bleeding sire to son— Though baffled oft, is ever won!"

I remain, with unchanged determination and regard, your countryman,

WM. R. ROBERTS, President Fenian Brotherhood.

While President Roberts was busy in penning his proclamations and exhorting his deluded followers to stand by the cause and "keep their powder dry" for a future attempt, the Revolutionary Committee of the Irish Republic were also sending out appeals to all lovers of Republican liberty, invoking further aid, from one of which circulars the following is an extract:

Let the Irish citizens in particular send in commissary stores, such as bread, meat, coffee, sugar, etc., just what each one would like at home. We want all the money you can raise for other purposes—what purposes the people can guess. Let no person imagine that the cause is defeated or that the men who have sworn to free their native land or die, will abandon their cause. A few over-zealous officials have placed some obstacles in our way. The voice of the great American people is at last heard in her halls of Congress, not from a single individual, but from the representatives of thirty, millions, and true to her natural instincts, they raise their voices for the oppressed. God bless them! They will raise many an anxious spirit through the world and make tyrants tremble on their thrones as the cry goes forth, "America is the defender of liberty." Let the people take heart throughout the land. Call meetings, pass resolutions, pledge support to the men who inscribe on their banner universal liberty. Be patient, but work! work! Collect money. Have your men ready, and when the cry of fight goes forth, let them come as individuals if they cannot come as companies or regiments.

As a large number of Fenians had gathered at Malone with very hostile intentions, Gen. Meade gave particular attention to the marauders who had mustered there. They had taken possession of the old military barracks at Malone, and were running the town to suit their own inclinations. As the days wore on and the prospects of their receiving arms and supplies to equip the invaders became more and more remote, the leaders chafed, fumed and fretted alternately, and finally became absolutely discouraged. Their fondest hopes were blasted, and they bitterly berated the United States Government in blasphemous language for stopping their expeditions. While the officers were in this frame of mind, their soldiers were worse. They were living on short rations, and their promise of a pleasant sojourn in "The Land of Plenty," where they hoped to revel in all the luxuries of life (when they captured it), was likely to prove but an empty dream. They were becoming turbulent and demonstrative, and it was finally found necessary to invoke the majesty of military power to keep them in subjection. Desertions were now frequent, and they had become a disorganized mob rather than a disciplined army. As this state of affairs was a menace to the public safety of the citizens of Malone. Gen. Meade took a firm grasp of the situation and issued the following order:

MALONE, N.Y., June 9th, 1866.

All persons assembled at this place in connection with, and in aid of the Fenian organization for the purpose of invading Canada, are hereby ordered, in compliance with the President's proclamation, to desist from their enterprise and disband. The men of the expeditionary force will, on application to the officer in command of the United States forces, on giving their names and residences, and satisfying him that they are unable to provide their own transportation, be provided with transportation to their homes; and all officers below the rank of field officers who are unable to provide their own transportation, on giving their parole to abandon the enterprise, will be allowed to return to their homes; officers above the rank of field officers will be required to give such bonds as may be satisfactory to the civil authorities; it being the determination of the United States Government to preserve neutrality, and the most stringent measures having been taken to prevent all accessions of men and material, the Commanding General trusts that these liberal offers will have the effect of causing the expedition, now hopeless, to be quietly and peaceably abandoned; and he confidently expects that all those who have any respect for the authority of the United States will conform to the requirements of the President's proclamation; and of this, which if not promptly obeyed, a sufficient force will be brought to bear to compel obedience.

(Signed) GEORGE G. MEADE, Major-General, U.S.A.

In compliance with this order, the majority of the men immediately gave their paroles, and for the next day or two trains were filled with the discomfitted warriors returning to their homes. All thoughts of the capture of Canada had vanished, and peace reigned once more on the border line.

The day previous, while Gen. Sweeny and Col. Meehan were actively engaged in mobilizing troops and directing operations on the Vermont frontier, warrants were served upon them by the United States authorities for violation of the Neutrality Act. They were arraigned before the United States Commissioner at Burlington, Vt., when they waived examination, and bail was fixed for Sweeny at $20,000 and Meehan at $5,000, to appear for trial at the July term of the United States District Court. Meanwhile other prominent leaders were being arrested at other points. With the President, the Secretary of War, and other members of the Irish Republican Cabinet under arrest, and many others of lesser note being "wanted" by American officers for infractions of the law, the hopes of the invaders sank below zero, and their warlike zeal vanished away.


As nearly all of the prominent Fenian leaders had been placed under arrest for transgression of United States laws, and quite a number of their deluded followers who were captured in Canada were confined in Canadian prisons awaiting trial, the seriousness of their offences began to dawn upon the minds of those implicated in the movement. The good offices of the United States Government were then eagerly sought by their friends and supporters to get them out of the meshes of the net, and earnest appeals were made to the State Department for some action along these lines. Every possible pressure was brought to bear on Congress and the United States Senate to secure the influence of those two important legislative bodies in taking up the Fenian cause. But it was a delicate question to handle, and although there were some Congressmen who introduced the matter into the House of Representatives, and made fiery speeches in support of their resolutions, the majority failed to concur, as they rightly conjectured that if the United States gave the Fenians the recognition and liberty of action they desired, it might end in embroiling them in war with Great Britain, for which they were not prepared.

On June 11th, 1866, Congressman Ancona, of Pennsylvania, offered the following preamble and resolution in the United States Congress:

Whereas, the Irish people and their brothers and friends in this country are moved by a patriotic purpose to assist the independence and re-establish the nationality of Ireland, and whereas the active sympathies of the people of the United States are naturally with all men who struggle to achieve such ends, more especially, when those engaged therein are the known friends of our Government, as are the people of the Irish race, they having shed their blood in defence of our flag in every battle of every war in which the Republic has been engaged; and whereas the British Government against which they are struggling is entitled to no other or greater consideration from us, a nation, than that demanded by the strict letter of international law, for the reason that during our late Civil War that Government did in effect, by its conduct repeal its neutrality laws; and whereas when reparation is demanded for damages to our commerce, resulting from the wilful neglect of Great Britain to enforce the same, she arrogantly denies all responsibility, and claims to be the judge in her own cause; and whereas the existence of the neutrality law of 1818 compels the executive department of this Government to discriminate most harshly against those who have ever been, and are now, our friends, in favor of those who have been faithless, not only to the general principles of comity which should exist between friendly States, but also to the written law of their own nation on this subject; therefore, be it resolved, that the Committee on Foreign Affairs be instructed to report a bill repealing an Act approved April 20th, 1818, it being the neutrality law, under the terms of which the President's proclamation against the Fenians was issued.

It is needless to say that the good sense of Congress prevailed, and the resolution was consigned to the morgue which is the receptacle for all undesirable resolutions.



The question of the ultimate fate of the Fenian prisoners who had fallen into our hands was one which received considerable thought and discussion. While the temper of the Canadian people was not favorable to any leniency being shown to them in those sad days in June when they viewed the death and desolation that had been caused by the raiders, yet all felt constrained to give them the full benefit of British justice—fair trials and an opportunity to separate the guilty from the innocent. The authorities further resolved to be not too hasty in bringing the unfortunates before the tribunal, as in the excited state of the public mind such action might prove disastrous to the accused. This policy was a wise and just one, and met with general approval.

While these Irish-Americans were penned up in Canadian prisons their friends across the line were using every effort to effect their release by supplicating President Johnson and Secretary Seward to interpose in their behalf, and at last succeeded in getting some resolutions put through Congress with this object in view.

Secretary Seward took the question up in an official way with Sir Frederick W. A. Bruce, the British Minister at Washington, who forwarded the documents relating to the matter to the British and Canadian Governments, and no doubt this friendly interposition had some effect in influencing the authorities to adopt the humane policy which subsequently prevailed.

During the month of June the Fenian prisoners who had been captured at Fort Erie and vicinity and lodged in the jails at Brantford and elsewhere, were removed to Toronto Jail and placed under special guard until their cases could receive due consideration by the authorities. At a preliminary investigation a large number of these men were discharged for want of sufficient evidence to convict, and were deported from the country. About forty were held for trial. Some of these were British subjects, while the remainder claimed American citizenship. The former were charged with high treason, the penalty for which is death. Those claiming to be aliens, and citizens of the United States, were indicted under an old statute which was enacted during the period of the Canadian Rebellion of 1837, which provided that subjects of a foreign state who entered Canada for the purpose of levying war rendered themselves liable, on conviction, to the death penalty.

On the 26th of July, 1866, President Andrew Johnson sent to the United States Congress the following documents from the Department of State, in reply to two resolutions of the House of Representatives, the first requesting him to urge upon the Canadian authorities, and also upon the British Government, the release of the Fenian prisoners captured in Canada; and the second requesting him to cause the prosecutions instituted in the United States against the Fenians to be discontinued, if not incompatible with the public interest:—

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, WASHINGTON, July 26, 1866. To the President:—

The Secretary of State, to whom was referred two resolutions of the House of Representatives, passed on the 23rd of July, instant, in the following words, respectively:—

"Resolved, that the House of Representatives respectfully request the President of the United States to urge upon the Canadian authorities, and also the British Government, the release of the Fenian prisoners recently captured in Canada.

"Resolved, that the House respectfully request the President to cause the prosecutions instituted in the United States courts against the Fenians, to be discontinued, if compatible with the public interests."

Has the honor to report, in regard to the first resolution, that the Government of the United States holds no correspondence directly upon any subject with the Canadian authorities mentioned in the said resolution, or with the authorities of any colony, province or dependency of any other sovereign state; and that, on the contrary, all its correspondence concerning questions which arise in, or effect, or relate to such colonies, provinces or dependencies, is always conducted exclusively with such foreign governments.

On the 11th of June last a note was addressed by this department to the Honorable Sir Frederick W. A. Bruce, Her Majesty's Minister Plenipotentiary residing in the United States, of which a copy is hereunto annexed. It is proper to say, in relation to that note, first, that the reports mentioned therein to the effect that prisoners had been taken on the soil of the United States and conveyed to Canada, and threatened by Canadian agents with immediate execution without legal trial, were found on examination to be untrue and without foundation in fact. It is due to the British Government to say, in the second place, that the representations made in the said note have been received by the British Government and by the Canadian authorities in a friendly manner.

The resolution of the House of Representatives first recited, harmonizing, as it does, with the spirit of the aforesaid note, will be brought to the attention of Her Majesty's Government and of the Canadian authorities, with the expression of a belief on the part of the President that affairs upon the frontier have happily come to a condition in which the clemency requested by Congress may be extended without danger to the public peace, and with advantage to the interests of peace and harmony between the two nations.

I have already received your directions that the second of said resolutions be taken into consideration by the proper departments of the Government, with a desire that it may be found practicable to reconcile the humane policy recommended with the maintenance of law and order, the safety of the public peace, and the good faith and honor of the United States.

Respectfully submitted, WILLIAM H. SEWARD.


Sir,—The Secretary of War has laid before the President several despatches which were received yesterday and to-day from Major-Gen. Meade, who is commanding the United States forces on the Canadian frontier. These communications warrant the President in believing that the so-called Fenian expedition is now entirely, at an end, and that order and tranquility may be expected to prevail henceforth on that border. I regret, however, that I am obliged to connect with this gratifying information the further statement that reports have reached Major-Gen. Meade to the effect that some of the Canadian or British troops have crossed the line and entered within the territory and jurisdiction of the United States. It is even said that this entry took place after the disturbers of the peace under the command of the leader Spear had relinquished their forbidden enterprise and withdrawn within the boundary line of the United States. The reports go so far as to say that prisoners have been taken on the soil of the United States and conveyed to Canada, and that the Canadian agents have threatened that these prisoners, together with such stragglers as may now lie found within the Canadian lines, will be executed without legal trial. It is believed that these reports are exaggerated. Care has been taken by Major-Gen. Meade to have them promptly investigated.

In the meantime I am instructed by the President to represent to you, and through you to the British and Canadian authorities, that this Government would not look without serious concern upon the practice of any retaliation or other illegal proceedings upon the persons of such of the offenders as have fallen, or shall hereafter fall, into the hands of the Canadian authorities. I respectfully invite your attention to the subject, with the confident expectation that no proceedings that are not authorized and in conformity with law, will be taken against persons of that class, and in the hope that even the customary administration of the law will be tempered with special forbearance and clemency. In view of the effective proceedings which this Government has adopted in regard to the disturbances now so fortunately ended, these representations would have been made by me without waiting to be moved from any other quarter. They are now made, however, with the approval of Major-Gen. Meade, and I believe that they will receive the concurrence of the Congress and people of the United States.

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