Troublous Times in Canada - A History of the Fenian Raids of 1866 and 1870
by John A. Macdonald
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The enemy advanced in close column, about 200 strong, with an advance guard about 100 yards ahead of the main body. On its approach to the boundary line it was ordered to move at the double, and the advance guard rushed across. As soon as it was on Canadian soil, Lieut.-Col. Chamberlin's men opened fire on the advance guard. The fire was returned from the main column of attack, which was still within United States territory. The conflict then became general. Upon the first volley from the Canadians one man in the leading section of the Fenian advance guard was shot dead and others wounded. The remaining men comprising it then sought refuge behind the neighboring barns and under a bridge near at hand. The main body halted, wavered, partially rallied again, and then, being galled by the well-directed fire of the Canadians, broke and ran for cover behind the houses and stone fences along the road, or made their way to a wood which crowned the summit of the hill opposite to our position on the western side of the road, another man being killed and several more wounded while seeking this shelter. From this time a desultory fire was kept up from behind trees and fences.

Col. Smith was on the way to Stanbridge for the purpose of ordering up reinforcements to strengthen the position at Eccles' Hill, when he was overtaken by a mounted messenger sent by Lieut.-Col. Chamberlin, stating that the Fenians were on the point of attack. He therefore ordered his aide (Capt. Gascoigne) to hasten on to Stanbridge and bring up every available man, and at once rode back to Eccles' Hill. On arrival there he found that the first attack had been bravely repulsed by Lieut.-Col. Chamberlin's men, and assumed command of the future operations. The total force of the Fenians had not yet been brought into action, their reserve of 350 or 400 men being still on the American side of the border line. A possible attack being feared from this force, Col. Smith took every precaution to hold his own until reinforcements arrived. About 2.30 p.m. the Montreal Troop of Cavalry, a company of the Victoria Rifles, and another detachment of 20 men of the 60th Battalion, reached the Canadian position from Stanbridge. With this additional force Col. Smith was enabled to strengthen his skirmish line, and better secure the right flank of his position. Firing was kept up until about 5 o'clock, when the Fenian fire began to slacken, with the exception of a few dropping shots from the enemy, who had taken shelter in the houses along the road. These riflemen were carefully marked by the Canadian skirmishers, and searched for by a shower of bullets whenever a shot was fired.

About 6 o'clock the Fenians were busy getting a field gun in position, and had it placed about 1,200 yards in front of the Canadian line. But before it was fired Col. Smith ordered an advance of his force, the detachment of the 60th Battalion and the Home Guards advancing in skirmishing order, and the company of Victoria Rifles covering their advance from the slope of the hill. This movement was well executed, and had the effect of driving the Fenians from their cover in all directions, in full flight. Not over a dozen shots were fired by them against the Canadians in their retreat. They threw away their arms, accoutrements and clothing as they ran, and did not stop until they were far over the American border.

At nightfall three shots were fired by the Fenians from their field gun, but their aim was faulty, and the shots did no damage to our men. During the whole engagement not one of the Canadians was even wounded.

The Fenian loss was four or five killed and 15 or 18 wounded. Three of their dead were at one time plainly in view from our lines, while another was reported as lying dead in a brook at the foot of the hill. Among the wounded was the Fenian General Donnelly. During the night lights were seen moving over the fields in search of the Fenian dead and wounded, who were removed to the United States by civilians. After his defeat the repulsed General O'Neil took refuge in a brick house, from which he was turned out by the owner. He then hastened to the rear, and on arrival on American territory was arrested by Gen. Foster, the United States Marshal, for breach of the neutrality laws.

The Canadian troops held their position and laid on their arms all night, expecting another attack, but the enemy had seen enough of Canadian valor, and did not make the attempt again to renew the combat.

On the following morning the Fenians abandoned their camp at Hubbard's Farm, leaving large quantities of arms, ammunition and clothing, which were seized by the United States Government. Their rifles were the best obtainable at that time, being breech-loading Springfields and Spencers of the latest pattern. Their field-piece (which was a breech-loading rifled steel gun) was captured on Canadian soil, and is one of the trophies held by the Missisquoi Home Guard in memory of O'Neil's dismal failure to capture Canada in 1870.



On the frontier of the Province of Ontario the danger of invasion was just as imminent as in the East, as Fenians were assembling at all points with definite objects in view. The invasion was well planned, but its execution was very poorly managed. It was not the intention of the Fenian leaders to bring on battles at either Eccles' Hill or Trout River unless success was well assured. These were only intended to be feints to draw the attention of the Canadians, while the main attacks were to be made at Cornwall and Prescott, with another heavy attack on the Niagara frontier if opportunity offered. Their object (as in 1866) was to destroy the St. Lawrence and Welland Canals and cut railway communication wherever practicable, thus preventing rapid concentration of Canadian troops while they proceeded to occupy the country. In conformity with their plans the Fenian troops gathered at convenient places to make their raids on the objective points in Ontario they had in view.

Owing to the extreme probability of an attack being made on Cornwall by the Fenians who had gathered at Malone, N.Y., it was deemed advisable by the Government to assemble a large force for the defence of that place as speedily as possible. Therefore orders were wired at 2 p.m. on May 24th to Lieut.-Col. F. T. Atcherly, Deputy Adjutant-General of the 4th Military District, to call out the militia force at Brockville and Prescott forthwith for active service. This was immediately accomplished and guards posted for the protection of these towns. On the following day he received instructions to proceed at once to Cornwall and assume command of the force there. He arrived at Cornwall that night with the Iroquois Battery of Garrison Artillery, and in conjunction with Lieut.-Col. Bergin, commanding the 59th Battalion, made all the necessary dispositions of guards for the protection of the town and the locks and bridges on the Cornwall Canal. In the meantime the entire 59th Battalion had been mustered, and on the following day his force was strengthened by the arrival of a demi-battery of the Ottawa Field Artillery, with two guns and 23 horses, under command of Capt. Forsyth, and also the Ottawa Brigade of Garrison Artillery, under Lieut.-Col. Forrest. About the same time the 18th Battalion began to arrive from L'Orignal, having been conveyed the whole distance in waggons. During the afternoon the 41st Battalion, under command of Lieut.-Col. Crawford, arrived by steamer from Brockville. In addition to this force, a corps of mounted scouts of about 60 men had been organized by Lieut.-Col. Bergin, and placed under command of Capt. Mattice. This company did most excellent service at night, patrolling along the banks of the canal from the guard lock at Dickinson's Landing to the village of Summerstown, a distance of about 21 miles. Strong pickets were posted every night to guard the culverts in the canal at various places. At the guard lock at the head of the canal, No. 5 Company of the 59th Battalion, under command of Capt. Bredin, was stationed, and did very excellent service. The town of Cornwall and the lower locks of the canal were so efficiently guarded and the surrounding country so thoroughly patrolled, that had an attack been made the invaders would certainly have met with a decidedly hot reception by Col. Atcherley's force.

While the land forces were so arduously performing their duties, the steamer "Prince Alfred" was employed in patrolling the river. She was manned by a detachment of artillerymen and sharp-shooters, who were unceasing in their vigilance to overhaul any craft that looked suspicious.

Lieut.-Col. W. H. Jackson, Brigade Major of the 8th Brigade Division, was in command of the force which assembled at Prescott, and performed the arduous duties required of him most efficiently. On the departure of Lieut.-Col. F. T. Atcherly to take command of the force at Cornwall, Lieut.-Col. Jackson was instructed to assume command of the forces which were concentrating at Preseott. A large body of Fenians had gathered at Ogdensburg, just across the river, and rumors were rife that they intended making a crossing. He accordingly took prompt precautions to place that important point in a state of defence. The troops at his command were one division of the Ottawa Field Battery, with two guns; the Ottawa Rifle Company (Capt. Mowat), the 43rd Carleton Battalion (Lieut.-Col. Bearman), and the 56th Battalion Lisgar Rifles (Lieut.-Col. Jessup). In addition he had two companies of Railway Guards, making his total force about 750 officers and men. With this command he thoroughly guarded, picketed and patrolled every important point east, west and north, and so keen was his vigilance that the enemy across the river could find no loop-hole for an attack and abandoned their intention. This force was kept on duty until the 3rd of June, when the danger having passed, they were relieved from further service.

The situation at Brockville was as grave as at other points along the frontier, owing to its close contiguity to the American shore. It was the headquarters of the 42nd Battalion, which was speedily mustered under command of Lieut.-Col. J. D. Buell. Several of the companies of this corps were located many miles from headquarters, but on receiving the call for active service they moved with remarkable activity, and arrived at the frontier within 24 hours after the summons had been sent forth. No. 4 Company (Capt. Allan Fraser), from Fitzroy, had about 80 miles to travel, partly by waggon and partly by rail. They quickly mustered at Kinburn and moved with such celerity that they reported at Brockville early the next morning. Such, indeed, was the spirit that prevailed among the volunteers everywhere, and to their promptness is due the defeat of the enemy's plans. The Forty-second did very great service in protecting the railway docks and other points of landing at Brockville, besides patrolling the river banks as far east as Maitland, thus keeping up a chain of communication with the garrison at Prescott. Several "scares" occurred during the time they were on service, which caused sleepless nights, but by their vigilance the Fenians were deterred from making an attack. All were prompt, willing and eager to obey every command, and were warmly commended for the soldierly manner in which they performed their duty.

For the protection of the Niagara frontier, all available troops in the immediate vicinity were called out for active service on the 24th of May. The Nineteenth Lincoln Battalion, under command of Lieut.-Col. J. G. Currie, the St. Catharines Troop of Cavalry under Capt. Gregory, and the St. Catharines Battery of Garrison Artillery, were quickly assembled and placed on active service. One company of the 19th was detached to guard the Suspension Bridge at Clifton, in conjunction with three companies of the 44th Welland Battalion. The remainder of the 19th Battalion were posted as follows:—Two companies (with regimental staff) consisting of 12 officers and 87 men, at St. Catharines and Port Dalhousie; one company (Capt. Upper) with three officers and 42 men at Niagara; three officers and 42 men at Port Robinson, three officers and 42 men at Welland, and three officers and 42 men at Allanburg.

The St. Catharines Troop of Cavalry (Capt. Gregory) was despatched to Chippawa to patrol the River Road between that point and Fort Erie—one officer and 13 troopers being stationed at Chippawa; one officer and 13 men at Black Creek, and one officer and 14 men at Fort Erie. This command maintained a complete system of patrols along the upper Niagara River. Two companies of the 44th Battalion were also stationed at Chippawa to guard the bridges and approaches to that place.

The St. Catharines Battery of Garrison Artillery (Capt. Thomas Oswald) was attached to the 19th Battalion, a portion of the Battery, under Lieut. J. G. Holmes, doing duty in guarding the locks on the Welland Canal at Allanburg, and the remainder being placed on board the tug "Clara Carter" with two field guns, which boat was employed to cruise Lake Erie and the Niagara River.

The Queenston Mounted Infantry, under command of Capt. Robert Currie, maintained an efficient patrol of the lower Niagara frontier, with two officers and 18 men at Niagara, and one officer and 18 men at Queenston.

The 37th Haldimand Battalion was ordered to Port Colborne, and also the Welland Canal, Field Battery, where they maintained a vigilant, guard on the entrance to the Welland Canal, which was threatened by an Fenian attack.

The United States gunboat "Michigan" was at Port Colborne on the 24th, and left on a cruise along the shores of Lake Erie with positive orders from the American Government to sink any piratical craft that might attempt to make a crossing. The Fenians assembled at Buffalo were anxious to get over into Canada, but could not get any ship owners willing to take the risk in face of such orders.

With the Niagara frontier thus protected and the remainder of the Active Militia in Toronto, Hamilton, Brantford and all other points in the Second Military District under orders to be prepared to move whenever their services might be required, the danger was averted, and the alarm of the people of that section soon subsided. The total strength of the force on active service on the Niagara frontier at that time (under command of Lieut-Col. Durie, D.A.G.) amounted to 1,159, consisting of 93 officers and 966 men, with 147 horses and four guns.

To guard the St. Clair River frontier, a sufficient force was placed on active service to keep in check any raiders that might attempt a crossing from the State of Michigan, while all of the troops in the First Military District were warned to be ready to move to the front when summoned. The troops called out were posted as follows:—

At Sarnia—London Field Battery, with two guns, three officers, 30 men and 25 horses, Lieut.-Col. Shanly commanding; Mooretown Mounted Infantry, three officers, 39 men and 42 horses, Capt. Stewart commanding; 27th Battalion of Infantry, 24 officers and 224 men, Lieut.-Col. Davis commanding.

At Windsor—St. Thomas Cavalry Troop (Capt. Borbridge), six officers, 42 men and 45 horses; Leamington Infantry Company (Capt. Wilkinson), three officers and 45 men; Windsor Infantry Company (Capt. Richards), three officers and 42 men; Bothwell Infantry Company (Capt. Chambers), three officers and 40 men; Lobo Infantry Company (Capt. Stevenson), three officers and 47 men.

Ceaseless vigilance was in evidence everywhere among the volunteers who guarded the points above mentioned, and the troops on duty were fully prepared for any invading force that might set foot on our soil. But fortunately the Province of Ontario was spared a repetition of the events of 1866, although it was not the fault of the enemy, who made strenuous efforts to get over the border. In 1870 President Grant took prompt measures to prevent unlawful expeditions from leaving the United States, and through the watchfulness of the American Government the designs of the Fenian leaders were defeated. Generals O'Neil, Starr, Gleason, O'Reilly, Donnelly and others had been promptly arrested by the United States authorities, and the rank and file soon abandoned their campaigns and returned to their homes.


While perusing the fyles of the Toronto Globe in the Public Reference Library recently, my eye caught the following item in the issue of that journal dated June 1st, 1870, which brought back to memory personal reminiscences which may be of interest:

"The St. Catharines Journal says that three young Canadians in Corry, Pa., named respectively John A. and George Macdonald, of St. Catharines, and Thomas Kennedy, of Niagara, hearing that the Fenians were on Canadian soil, determined to be on hand in the hour of danger, and at once took train for home, arriving at St. Catharines last Wednesday night (May 25th). It is no small thing for a working man to throw up a situation and sacrifice all for their love of country, and Canada should be proud of such sons."

At the time the Fenians were getting ready to make their second invasion of Canada in 1870, the writer of this book was employed as a newspaper reporter in a town in Pennsylvania where Fenianism was rampant, and in the course of my daily duties had rare opportunities for gleaning information as to the intentions of "the Brotherhood." I noticed that preparations were being made with the utmost secrecy possible, and that those who were engaged in organizing the movement were men of the most determined and desperate character. I chanced to know some of them personally, and by a careful process of reportorial "interviewing," learned that a sudden dash on Canadian territory was to be made within a few days. The chief desire of the leaders was to keep their intentions from the knowledge of the United States authorities, and they were very averse to giving the least publicity as to their movements.

However, in a casual way I received information from a reliable source that large numbers of men were on their way from the southern part of Pennsylvania. Ohio. Indiana. Kentucky, Tennessee and other places, travelling as ordinary passengers, and that they would rendezvous at Erie. Dunkirk. Buffalo, Niagara Falls and other places along the border, where they were to receive their equipment. This news I duly communicated to my friends at home (St. Catharines) and gave them notice that trouble was impending.

The next day (25th of May) things were looking more serious. About 9 o'clock in the morning I went down to the railway depot on my quest for "news items." and found that two trains had just arrived—one from Pittsburgh and the other from Central Ohio, on which were an unusually large number of men, who were bound for Buffalo. They were swarming on the station platforms and patronizing nearby saloons and restaurants freely while waiting for train connections. I wanted more information, and mingled with them with the intention of getting it. Most of them were very reticent, but I finally found out, by judicious pumping of a burly fellow from Pittsburgh, that they were Fenians on their way to Canada. I instantly made up my mind that it was time for me to go home. I had previously written to the Captain of my old corps (in which I had served at Fort Erie in 1866) giving him "pointers" as to what the Fenians were doing, and notifying him that I would be home to fill my place in the ranks when occasion required. I considered that the time had now arrived for prompt action on my part, and as the train was due to leave within an hour, I hurried over to my employer and explained matters, resigned my situation, got my salary, secured my valise (which I had already packed), and was ready to leave in less than half an hour. My brother (George M. Macdonald), who was also employed on the same paper as myself, did likewise, and when we were leaving the office our employer very cordially commended our action and bade us "God speed" on our journey, at the same time handing us a roll of money "for present use," as he expressed it, and adding that when the trouble was over and we were ready to return, our situations would be open for us. Such generous kindness, and the warm words of appreciation of our services which accompanied the genial "good-by" of our employer, touched us both deeply, and have remained in my memory ever since as one of the bright spots in my life. On our way to the station we met another Canadian (Thomas Kennedy), whose old home was at Niagara, where he belonged to No. 1 Company of the 19th Battalion. He was greatly "worked up" when he saw the Fenian contingent getting ready to start, and when we informed him of our intentions, he resolutely remarked. "Boys, I'm going home, too; and as I haven't got time to go down to my boarding-house for my clothes, I'll go just as I am. We'll be in uniform in Canada to-morrow." So he came with us. By this time the train was ready to leave, and we managed to get a double seat in one end of the car. The coach we were in was soon filled with Fenians, and the vacant seat beside me was taken by a sturdy-looking fellow who confidentially told us that he was a Sergeant in a company from Cincinnati, and that a large force of "the byes" were proceeding to the frontier. From this soldier we got considerable valuable information as to the strength and composition of the troops on the train, and also those following, which was carefully stored in our memories and afterwards duly reported to the Canadian authorities. Two or three times this Sergeant inquired what company of Fenians we belonged to, but we artfully managed to evade a direct answer to his questions, and switched the conversation in another direction. Had he realized or became aware of the fact that we were Canadians on our way home to take up arms against him and his comrades, there is no doubt but that we would have had a very unpleasant experience on that car. Quite a number of the Fenians on board were under the influence of liquor, and as they pushed around their bottles of whiskey several of them forgot the lessons of caution that had been impressed upon them by their officers, and became very talkative as to their organization and intentions. Our ears were strained to catch every syllable, and we gathered considerable desired information that otherwise would not have leaked out. On arrival at Dunkirk our travelling companion (the Fenian Sergeant) left the train with about twenty men, bidding us a friendly farewell and saying that perhaps we might soon meet again, "in the camp or in the field." We hoped the latter, but did not consider it necessary to explain our thoughts. We were much pleased to lose this gentleman's company, as he had again began to persistently ask us awkward questions as to what Irish Republican Regiment we were in, and who were our officers; also what Fenian "circle" we belonged to, and who was the "Centre" of it. Such queries were so very pointed and direct that we were obliged to use all sorts of evasions and diplomacy to throw our interlocutor off his guard. Before we reached Buffalo another chap approached us, and began asking a series of vexing questions, but fortunately the conductor just then happened to come through the car, and we disposed of the inquisitive Fenian by halting the train official and asking him a lot of questions about railway connections for points east, and other matters, of which we knew as much as he did. The Fenian stood by for a while listening, until a comrade in the centre of the car called him to partake of some liquid refreshments. He promptly responded to the summons, and after a liberal libation from the neck of a bottle he seemed to forget all about us, for which we were duly thankful. A few moments afterward our Fenian friend broke forth into song in stentorian tones, in which the rest of his comrades joined in the rendition of "The Wearin' o' the Green." This diversion drew their attention from our direction until the train finally rolled into the Exchange Street Depot at Buffalo. We quietly slipped off the rear platform of the car, and were obliged to elbow our way through a throng of Fenians who had gathered to meet the new arrivals. On reaching the street we quickly proceeded across to the Erie Street Station, where we caught the evening train for Suspension Bridge. This train also was pretty well tilled with Fenians, but we were not bothered by any of them on the way. Soon after we crossed the Niagara River and were on Canadian soil. To express our gratification and pleasure to be once more at home in our native land, cannot be fully expressed in words, so I will leave the feeling to be imagined by the reader.

That night at 9 o'clock my brother and myself reported to Capt. Thomas Oswald in the Drill Shed at St. Catharines. The old St. Catharines Battery of Garrison Artillery was on parade, and when we made our appearance we received such a hearty reception and ovation that the ringing cheers of my old comrades and their spontaneous greetings still haunt my memory. We were immediately ushered into the Armory by the Quartermaster-Sergeant, who issued to us our uniforms and equipments, and in half an hour we were again in the ranks, ready for service in defence of Canada.

Both my brother George and Comrade Tom Kennedy have long since passed away to eternal rest, and as an affectionate tribute to their memory and worth, and in remembrance of their loyal devotion to Queen and country. I deem it fitting to here put on record this evidence of the high spirit of patriotism which inspired these noble boys to respond to the call of duty when dancer threatened their native land.



Simultaneous with Gen. O'Neil's raid into Canada at Eccles' Hill on May 25th, an invasion took place on the Huntingdon border, when a strong force of Fenians under command of Generals Starr and Gleason advanced about a mile and a half into the Province of Quebec, on the line of the Trout River. On arrival at a chosen position which possessed great advantages for a successful defence, they began throwing up entrenchments, and prepared to make a determined stand. A whole day was spent in the work of constructing rifle pits and breastworks, but being no doubt discouraged by the news of O'Neil's defeat at Eccles' Hill, they abandoned their position on the 26th and returned to their camp on the American side of the line. While there they evidently received some encouragement and reinforcements, as they returned to their entrenchments in Canada early on the morning of Friday, the 27th of May, and re-occupied their works, which they busily began to strengthen. Their rifle pits were dug in front of some hop-fields, defended by stockades, with a stout barricade across the road. The line of entrenchments rested on the river on one side and a dense wood on the other, while their centre was strongly protected by a forest of hop-poles, through which their retreat, in case of necessity, would be comparatively safe. The whole position was chosen with considerable skill, and was so strong that 500 men could easily have held off several thousands for a considerable length of time, had they been properly directed.

The Canadian force chosen to operate against this column of the enemy was composed of H. M. 69th Regiment, the 50th Battalion (Huntingdon Borderers), and the Montreal Garrison Artillery, the whole under command of Col. Bagot. At 3 o'clock in the morning of the 27th, the Montreal Garrison Artillery and the Huntingdon Borderers were ordered on the march from Huntingdon Village, where they had arrived the previous night. In less than two hours the whole force was on the move along the road leading to Holbrook's Corners. At 8 o'clock the entire column had reached Hendersonville, which is two miles from Holbrook's, and there one company of the Montreal Garrison Artillery (under Capt. Rose) was ordered to proceed along the concession road to the west in order to flank the enemy, whose glittering bayonets were plainly visible in the sunlight as they were drilling in a field about a mile and a half distant.

The advance guard of the Fenians were posted behind a very strong entrenchment, with their right flank resting on the river and their left covered by the woods. Their skirmishers were about 150 in number, and their supports and reserves (amounting to about 300 or 400 more) were stationed a short distance in the rear.

The Huntingdon Borderers formed the Canadian advance guard, and as soon as they had approached within about 300 yards of the Fenian position, were deployed in skirmishing order, and advanced with great gallantry. The centre support was composed of one company of the 69th Regiment, under Capt. Mansfield and Lieut. Atcheson. The remainder of the 69th, under Major Smythe, was drawn up in quarter distance column as a reserve. One company of the Montreal Garrison Artillery (under Capt. Doucet) marched across the bridge and along the road on the left, and afterwards took part in the engagement with those who had been sent in the opposite direction further back, to prevent a flanking movement from either side. The remainder of the Artillery and Engineers, under Capt. Hall, marched to the front as a reserve, but afterwards returned to Holbrook Bridge, which it was feared the Fenians might attempt to capture, and advance along the south side of the river. The skirmish line advanced with great steadiness against the enemy behind the entrenchments. The Fenians fired three volleys as they advanced, the fire being promptly returned by our men as they gallantly moved forward. When the Canadians came within 100 yards of the entrenchments, the Fenians fell back through the hop-field, firing as they retreated, and when they got beyond its protection, ran for the buildings further back, where it was thought they would make a stand. Col. Bagot then ordered Capt. Mansfield's company of the 69th to fix bayonets and charge, which was done in grand style, amid loud cheering, and resulted in the complete rout of the Fenians. Capt. Hall's Battery of the Montreal Garrison Artillery, directed by Lieut. Fitzgeorge, cleared the wood on the left in a very thorough manner, and soon the whole Fenian army were in a helter-skelter race out of Canada and back to American territory. When the Canadian troops reached the boundary Col. Bagot had great difficulty in restraining them from crossing into the United States after the fugitives, so eager were they to effect the capture of the marauders. The Fenians were so swift in their retreat that only one was captured, but three men were killed and several wounded during the fight. No losses occurred among the Canadians.

The Fenians were utterly dispirited and completely demoralized, and when their commanders (Gen. Starr and Gen. Gleason) were arrested at St. Albans by the United States authorities on the following day, they abandoned all further thoughts of invading Canada, and left for their homes thoroughly sick of their experience on their excursion to Trout River.

At Buffalo, Detroit, Ogdensburg, and other points where Fenians had gathered for the purpose of invading Canada, the news of the fizzles at Eccles' Hill and Trout River caused consternation and depression among their ranks, and the fact that Gen. O'Neil and several others of their military leaders were in jail on serious charges, served to put an end to all thoughts of continuing the movement, and they hastily dispersed and returned to their homes.

Gen. O'Neil was brought to trial some time after by the United States Government, on a charge of violation of the Neutrality Laws, and was sentenced to six months' imprisonment. This was a hard blow to the Fenian organization, and it gradually went to pieces.

But the warlike spirit had not died out in O'Neil, and he began to plan new ideas. His hatred of British institutions appears to have been so deep-seated that he was willing to sacrifice not only his liberty, but life itself, to undertake any scheme that had for its object their overthrow, and it was not long before he was again implicated in a plot against the Dominion of Canada.

Shortly after his release from prison in 1870, he entered into a conspiracy with emissaries of the rebel Louis Riel to assist in a great uprising in the Canadian Northwest, in which the Indians and half-breeds were to be utilized. O'Neil was ready for anything, and consented to invoke Fenian aid in conjunction with Riel's rebellious plans, by participating in an invasion of Manitoba. He managed to obtain a few hundred stands of breech-loading rifles and a quantity of ammunition that had escaped seizure by the United States authorities at the time of the Fenian Raid of 1870, and with the assistance of Gen. J. J. Donnelly, he fitted out an expedition on the Minnesota frontier. He started from Port Pembina, Minn., on October 5th, 1871, to invade Manitoba and raise his standard, but had barely crossed over the boundary line when he was arrested, with his troops. All of their armament was seized and they were marched back as prisoners to Pembina and handed over to the United States authorities. They were indicted on charges of breach of the Neutrality Laws, but at the trial were acquitted on some slight technicality.

This ended Gen. O'Neil's career as a filibuster, and becoming disheartened and discouraged by his failures, he began drinking heavily, and soon became a wreck, subsequently dying alone and miserable as the result of his excesses, "unwept, unhonored and unsung."



The active militia of the Dominion which was called out for active service remained on duty wherever posted until all signs of danger had disappeared, and were then withdrawn by degrees, until on the 3rd of June all were released from duty and directed to return to their homes.

The Honorable Minister of Militia, in his report of the military operations, paid the following tribute to the gallantry of the volunteer militia force on this occasion:—

"Although the honor and satisfaction of repelling these lawless invaders had fallen to the lot of a few gallant men of the active militia, the desire evinced by the whole force called out to be afforded a similar opportunity of inflicting well-merited punishment on those daring to invade Canadian soil, was universally and ardently longed for; and, doubtless, had any attempt been made in force by the enemy to penetrate into the country, they would have met with heavier punishment than they experienced in this futile attempt—all classes in the Dominion (both French as well as English-speaking Canadians) having turned out manfully in so good a cause; and when it is considered that a great majority of the militia men called out are farmers, that the call made upon them was in the midst of their sowing season, that at the first sound of danger they gave up their work, abandoning their fields and their families, risking, perhaps, the loss of a whole year's crop, and the manifest distress which such would have entailed, it is not too much to say that they have well-earned the gratitude and admiration of their Queen and country for the self-sacrifice they exhibited, and the courage and loyalty they displayed.

"As an interesting proof of the loyalty and patriotism displayed by Canadians who at this period (as in 1866) were resident in the United States, many of them came home at the first note of alarm to take their places in the ranks of the active militia force to assist in defence of their country, for which they received the special thanks of the Government."

The Lieutenant-General in command of Her Majesty's troops in Canada, who was in supreme control of the active militia force of Canada, also recognized their faithful service by issuing the following order:—



Canada has once more been invaded by a body of Fenians, who are citizens of the United States, and who have again taken advantage of the institutions of that country to move without disguise large numbers of men and warlike stores to the Missisquoi and Huntingdon frontiers, for the purpose of levying war upon a peaceful community.

From both these points the invading forces have been instantly driven with loss and in confusion, throwing away their arms, ammunition and clothing, and seeking shelter within the United States. Acting with a scrupulous regard for the inviolability of a neighboring territory, the troops were ordered to the halt, even though in pursuit, upon the border.

The result of the whole affair is mainly due to the promptitude with which the militia responded to the call to arms, and to the rapidity with which their movements to the front were carried out, and the self-reliance and steadiness shown by this force, as well as by the armed inhabitants on the frontier. The regular troops were kept in support, except on the Huntingdon frontier, where one company took part in the skirmish.

The proclamation of the President, and the arrival of the Federal troops at St. Albans and Malone, were too late to prevent the collection and transport of warlike stores, or an inroad into Canada.

The reproach of invaded British territory, and the dread of insult and robbery, have thus been removed by a handful of Canadians, and the Lieutenant-General does not doubt that such services will receive the recognition of the Imperial Government.

The Lieutenant-General congratulates the militia upon this exhibition of their promptness, discipline and training, and in dismissing the men to their homes, he bids them carry with them the assurance that their manly spirit is a guarantee for the defence of Canada.

By order,


In consideration of their services at Eccles' Hill and on the Huntingdon frontier. Her Majesty the Queen was graciously pleased to bestow the Order of St. Michael and St. George (third class) upon the following officers: Lieut.-Col. Osborne Smith, Commandant Military District No. 5; Lieut.-Col. Fletcher. Brigade Major. Second Brigade. Military District No. 5; Lieut.-Col. Brown Chamberlin, commanding 60th (Missisquoi) Battalion, and Lieut.-Col. McEachern, commanding the 50th (Huntingdon) Battalion.


In 1899 the services of the survivors of the Fenian Raids of 1866 and 1870, and the Red River Rebellion, were recognized by Her Majesty Queen Victoria in the bestowal upon each of them of a General Service Medal, for the loyalty and patriotism they displayed in assisting to defend their country and flag in those times of danger. The medals are of the standard pattern adopted by the British Government for military service. Each medal bears the name and rank of the recipient stamped upon the edge. A clasp bearing the words "Fenian Raid, 1866" (crossing a scarlet and white ribbon) surmounts the medallion bearing the vignette of Queen Victoria on one side, and on the obverse a design emblematic of the Dominion of Canada. For those who served in 1870 the same medal was granted, with lettering to correspond, while to the volunteers who were on duty on both occasions, an extra clasp was issued, to denote service in both 1866 and 1870. These medals are highly prized by the veterans of the Fenian Raids, as they are commemorative of a time in the history of Canada which they will never forget.

It is possible that a large proportion of the recipients of the medals are not aware of how and where the idea originated which finally resulted in their obtaining these special marks of the Queen's favor. Therefore it may be as well to present the facts here. On the occasion of the celebration of the Queen's Jubilee in 1897, a large committee of loyal citizens of Toronto was organized for the purpose of arranging for a proper observance of the event, and among the members of that committee were quite a number of military men. At one of the meetings, held in the City Hall, Toronto, the following resolution was presented and unanimously adopted:—

"Moved by Capt. S. Bruce Harman, seconded by Lieut. R. E. Kingsford, That the following Committee be appointed to report the necessary steps to obtain a Medal, or other suitable Decoration, to be awarded to the Canadian Militia who took part in the campaigns of 1837, 1866 and 1870, viz.: Lieut.-Col. G. D. Dawson, Lieut.-Col. Vance Graveley, Lieut.-Col. Orlando Dunn, Major Frederick E. Dixon, Major R. Y. Ellis, Major Fredrick Manley, Capt. S. Bruce Harman, Capt. Wm. Fahey and Lieut. R. E. Kingsford."

This committee went earnestly to work, and after deciding on the mode of procedure, issued a large number of blank petitions, which were sent out through the country. It is needless to say that these were very numerously signed and returned to the committee, who forwarded their petition in a handsomely bound volume to Her Majesty Queen Victoria through the proper channels. The Dominion Government acquiesced in the request, and the result was that the petition was granted, and the issue of the medals authorized, the veterans of the Red River Rebellion also being honored with the decoration.


The Province of Ontario also generously recognized the service of those who defended the Provincial domain by giving a grant of 160 acres of Crown lands to each of the veterans of the Fenian Raids who were on active service in Ontario during those periods.


Up to the present date the Dominion Government has not moved in the matter of recognizing the services of the Veterans of the Fenian Raids. Deputations have waited upon the Premier and the Government, and petitions have been presented asking for grants of land, but beyond specious promises of "consideration of their requests" no progress has been made in this respect. This is hardly fair or just to the men who stood on the ramparts of the country with their rifles in hand in times of peril and danger, and made it possible that the Dominion Government should now have any land to bestow. Had it not been for the patriotism of the "Men of '66" it is just a question whether the Dominion of Canada as now constituted would be in existence to-day. Therefore these surviving veterans deserve all the recognition that a grateful country can give. We have millions of acres of vacant lands in our Northwest which need development, and who is better fitted for settlers than the resourceful Canadians themselves? We have sons and grandsons who have the will, the knowledge, the mettle and the courage to break the prairie sod and bring the virgin soil to successful fruition, and assist in developing our country's resources. They will lie glad to do this, and take particular pride in the patrimony of their military ancestors. Then why not do justice to the Veterans of 1866 and 1870 by putting them on the same footing as the Dominion Government accorded to the soldiers of other campaigns? The volunteers who went to Manitoba on the Red River expedition in 1870 received land grants of 160 acres each. Those who served in the Northwest Rebellion in 1885 were given scrip to the same value, while those who went out of Canada to serve in the South African War were granted 320 acres of Crown lands each. That was quite proper, but why should our paternal Government make any invidious distinctions? Surely those who helped to make the Dominion, and bravely guarded her shores in times of danger, are at least entitled to justice in the matter of receiving due recognition for their services. Emigrants have been assisted into Canada from all parts of Europe and given slices of our public domain, while the bone and sinew of our own people have been "passed by on the other side." This is not right—it is not patriotic, neither is it good public policy. Let justice prevail in all things, and our country will prosper and flourish. One by one the old Veterans of 1866 and 1870 are being finally "mustered out," and in a few years the last of them will have "crossed the bar." While they are still living the Government should bestow upon them that tardy recognition which they have a right to expect, and it is to be hoped that in its wisdom and sense of justice this act will not be long delayed. Let it never be said of Canada that—

When war clouds break, and danger is nigh. "God and the soldiers" is the people's cry. But when war is o'er and all things righted. God is forgot and the soldiers slighted.

Not a single volunteer ever thought for one moment of a monetary or other reward for his services when he shouldered his rifle and went forth in defence of his country when the bugles sounded. All were moved by a common patriotic impulse, and unselfishly and faithfully did their duty. At that time the Government appreciated their service, and was profuse in thanks, and there the national gratitude seems to have ended so far as the Fenian Raid Veterans are concerned. But, perhaps, they may yet be accorded fair play. Let us hope so, for the honor of our country.



Almost at the same moment that we had Fenian troubles at home, and threatened invasions of our Quebec and Ontario frontiers, the standard of revolt had been raised in Manitoba by the turbulent rebel Louis Riel and his band of half-breeds.

Arrangements had been completed between the Dominion Government and the Imperial Government with the Hudson's Bay Company, whereby the rights of the latter to lands in the Northwest Territories were to be transferred to the Dominion, subject to certain reservations. It was made an express agreement that the rights of the Indians and half-breeds in certain territory were to be respected by the Dominion Government. The arrangement was sanctioned by Parliament, and the sum of 300,000 pounds sterling was appropriated for the purchase of the Hudson's Bay Company's titles as specified. In the preceding year Lieut.-Colonel Dennis (of Fort Erie fame) was sent to the Red River country by the Dominion Government to institute a system of public surveys. When he appeared among the half-breeds, and they learned his intention, they strenuously objected, as they believed by the inauguration of a new system of survey their titles to the lands which they held might be jeopardized. Moreover, they thought that they should have been consulted when the purchase and transfer of the territory was made. The French half-breeds were especially fearful that the Dominion Government might dispute their titles to the lands, and gave Colonel Dennis to understand that trouble might result if he attempted to carry out his plans of survey. In the meantime Hon. Wm. Macdougall had been appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the Northwest Territory, and started west for the purpose of assuming office. He had been warned by Col. Dennis of the unfriendly feeling which prevailed among the half-breeds in respect to himself and the Dominion Government, and on arriving at Pembina (Minnesota), he was more forcibly notified of the disaffection which existed when he was forbidden by them to cross the border into the territory. He was determined to go ahead, however, and advanced about two miles over the line with his party, when he received news from Col. Dennis that rebellion was rife, and that the insurgents, under the leadership of Louis Riel, were determined to prevent his further progress. Riel had posted armed guards at various points along the trails leading from Pembina to Fort Garry for the purpose of resisting the advance of Lieutenant-Governor Macdougall, and as there was not a sufficient force available to overcome the rebels, he was obliged to remain where he was. Then Riel became emboldened, and seized Fort Garry, where he set up a "Provisional Government," and organized a force to hold the territory. During the fall and winter of 1869 and 1870 he held high revels at Fort Garry, and amused himself by arresting and imprisoning all loyal Canadians he could lay hands on. Several prominent citizens were confined in the fort by Riel's order and subjected to insults and indignities, while their worldly possessions were pillaged and destroyed. Among those who especially fell under Riel's displeasure was a loyal Canadian named Thomas Scott. He was a bold and fearless young man, and his sturdy patriotism to his country and his determined manner of expressing his views, angered Riel, who ordered him under arrest. He was taken to Fort Garry and confined in a cell, but made his escape. He was soon recaptured, and Riel at once convened a court-martial and sentenced Scott to be shot at 10 o'clock the next morning. The unfortunate prisoner was not allowed to make any defence. Riel's word was law, and to gratify his angry passions he ordered the execution to take place the following morning. Therefore on the 4th of March, 1870, poor Scott was led outside of the walls of the fort by a party of six rebels under command of Ambrose Lepine and brutally murdered. When the news of this inhuman butchery reached Ontario the people of the Province were filled with feelings of intense indignation, and the public and press demanded the Government to take immediate action in organizing a force to stamp out the rebellion and effect the arrest and punishment of the perpetrators of the crime.

The Government promptly heeded the appeals of the people, and on the 16th of April, 1870, an Order-in-Council was passed by the Cabinet authorising the organization of a military contingent for service in the new Province of Manitoba, the principal object being to quell the Riel Rebellion, arrest the leaders, and establish law and order in that territory. In accordance with this resolution two battalions of riflemen were organized, which were designated as the First (Ontario) Battalion, and the Second (Quebec) Battalion of Rifles. Each battalion consisted of seven companies, with an establishment of three officers and 50 non-commissioned officers and men to each company. The staff of each battalion consisted of one Lieutenant-Colonel, one Major, one Adjutant (with rank of Captain), one Paymaster, one Surgeon, one Quartermaster-sergeant, one Hospital Sergeant, one Sergeant-Major, one Armorer-Sergeant, and one Paymaster's Clerk, making the total strength of each battalion 375 of all ranks. These battalions were composed of volunteers from existing corps of the Active Militia in the seven Military Districts of the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and the terms of enlistment were for one year, or longer if their services were required. The enrolling of the men to form these organizations commenced on the 1st of May, and the ranks were quickly filled. The various companies were concentrated at Toronto, where they were clothed and equipped, and placed under the orders of Colonel Fielden, of Her Majesty's 60th Royal Rifles. All of the field and line officers were duly appointed, gazetted, and joined their respective corps in due time, and in a few weeks the expeditionary force was in excellent condition for active service.

The following is a roster of the officers who were on active service, in command of the volunteer corps named, on the Red River Expedition:—


Lieut.-Col. Samuel P. Jarvis, commanding officer; Major Griffiths Wainwright.

Captains—Thomas Scott, Thomas Macklem, William M. Herchmer, William Smith. Alex. R. Macdonald. Daniel H. McMillan and Henry Cook.

Lieutenants—Donald A. Macdonald, David M. Walker, William N. Kennedy, Andrew McBride, William J. McMurty, Samuel B. Harman and James Benson.

Ensigns—A. J. Z. Peebles, Stewart Mulvey, Josiah J. Bell, Samuel Hamilton, John Biggar, William H. Nash and Hugh John Macdonald.

Paymaster—Capt. J. F. B. Morrice.

Adjutant—Capt. Win. J. B. Parsons.

Quartermaster—Edward Armstrong.

Surgeon—Alfred Codd, M.D.


Lieut.-Col. Louis Adolphe Casault, commanding officer; Major Acheson G. Irvine.

Captains—Z. C. A. L. de Bellefeuille, Allan Macdonald, Jacques Labranche, Samuel Macdonald, Jean Baptiste Amyot, John Fraser, Wm. J. Barrett.

Lieutenants—J. W. Vaughan, John P. Fletcher, Edward T. H. F. Patterson. Oscar Prevost. Maurice E. B. Duchesnay, Henri Bouthillier, Leonidas de Salaberry.

Ensigns—Ed. S. Bernard, John Allan, George Simard, Gabriel L. Des Georges, Alphonse de M. H. D'Eschambault, William W. Ross, Alphonse Tetu.

Paymaster—Lieut. Thos. Howard.

Adjutant—Capt. F. D. Gagnier.

Quartermaster—F. Villiers.

The following officers were appointed to positions on the Brigade Staff in connection with the expedition:—

Assistant Brigade Major—Major James F. McLeod.

Assistant Control Officer—Capt. A. Peebles.

Orderly Officer on Staff of Commanding Officer—Lieut. Frederick C. Denison.

The total strength of the expeditionary force amounted to about 1,200, which was composed of about 350 officers and men of H. M. 60th Royal Rifles, detachments of Royal Artillery and Engineers, the First and Second Rifles above mentioned, and a contingent of Canadian voyageurs.

The whole expedition was in command of that gallant soldier Colonel Garnet S. Wolseley (who afterwards won honor and fame in foreign campaigns, and became a Field Marshal of the British Army). The troops left Toronto in May on their long trip to Fort Carry, going by steamboat to Prince Arthur's Landing (now Port Arthur), from which point they took the old "Dawson route" to their destination. It was a most difficult undertaking, but the undaunted courage of the officers and men and their determination to overcome all obstacles triumphed, as they forced their way through rivers, lakes, swamps, muskegs and forest until they reached the prairie land of Manitoba. They were about three months on the way, arriving at Port Garry on the 24th of August. During this time it became necessary for the men to cut trails through brake and bramble, construct corduroy roads, build boats, ascend dangerous rapids, portage stores and supplies over almost insurmountable places, meanwhile fighting mosquitoes and black flies, and encountering countless dangers, all of which they cheerfully performed with their characteristic bravery until the whole expedition was successfully landed on Manitoba soil without serious mishap.

Their approach to Fort Garry was made so quietly and quickly that Riel and his followers had barely time to get out of the fort and scatter in all directions before the troops arrived, and therefore they did not have an opportunity of using force to quell the rebellion. Unfortunately Riel and his lieutenants succeeded in making their escape. Fort Garry was at once occupied by the column and the Union Jack hoisted on the flag-staff, amid ringing cheers for the Queen, while the artillery fired a royal salute.

The arrival of Col. Wolseley's troops was hailed with delight by the loyal residents of what is now the flourishing city of Winnipeg, as they had suffered severe persecutions by the rebels during the period that Riel and his lieutenant Ambrose Lepine held sway in their career of rebellion. Lawful authority was quickly established, and all fragments of the revolt being stamped out by Col. Wolseley, the loyal citizens took up the work of temporary organization of the necessary civil institutions for the proper government of the Province, pending the arrival of Hon. Mr. Archibald, who had been appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the new domain. In this work Mr. Donald A. Smith (now Lord Strathcona) proved a tower of strength, and with the assistance of Dr. John Schultz and other loyal residents of the Province, matters were soon shaped into a state of peace, progress and prosperity.

Lieutenant-Governor Archibald arrived at Fort Garry on Sept. 2nd, and a few days later assumed the duties of his office. When it became absolutely certain that all of the embers of the rebellion had been extinguished, Colonel Wolseley returned to the east with the regular troops, leaving the Canadian volunteers still on duty in Manitoba. They remained at Fort Garry until the following spring, when their services being no longer required they were ordered home for "muster out."

That the Canadian volunteers and voyageurs acquitted themselves creditably on the occasion of the Red River Rebellion is a matter of history, and that their services were highly appreciated by Colonel Wolseley is evidenced by the fact that when he was put in command of the British troops operating in the Egyptian campaign, and desired a method of transporting his troops and stores up the River Nile, he remembered his Red River experience, and promptly asked for a contingent of Canadian voyageurs to handle his system of transport by the great water route, and got them. That they did their duty in the Land of the Pharoahs as thoroughly as they did on previous occasions at home, will always stand to their credit in the annals of the British Army.




The following is a report of the proceedings of the Court of Inquiry held at Hamilton on Tuesday, July 3rd, 1866, by order of His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief, on the application of Lieut.-Col. Booker, to examine and report on the circumstances connected with the engagement at Lime Ridge (or Ridgeway) on June 2nd:

The following officers composed the Court: President, Col. George T. Denison, Commandant Volunteer Militia, Toronto; members—Lieut.-Col. James Shanly, London; Lieut.-Col. G. K. Chisholm, Commanding Oakville Rifle Company, Oakville.

The letter of instructions from Col. P. L. Macdougall, the Adjutant-General of Militia, for the guidance of the Court, addressed to Col. Denison (the President), and also the letter from Lieut.-Col. Durie, by the authority of the Adjutant-General, on the same subject (also addressed to the President) were both read and duly considered by the Court previous to their entering upon the subject of inquiry.

Lieut.-Col. Booker having previously received due notice of the sitting of the Court and of the object of the inquiry, was permitted to be present, and he desired liberty of the Court to put in a written narrative of events as they occurred from the time he left Hamilton until he returned from Lime Ridge to Port Colborne.

The orders for the assembling of the Court were then produced and read, as follows:—


On application of Lieut.-Col. Booker, the Commander-in-Chief directs the assembly of a Court of Inquiry at Hamilton, on Tuesday, the 3rd of July, 1866, to examine witnesses and report on the circumstances connected with the late engagement at Lime Ridge. President, Col. G. T. Denison; members, Lieut.-Col. James Shanly, and Lieut.-Col. G. K. Chisholm.

(Signed) P. L. MACDOUGALL, Colonel, A.G.M. WM. L. DURIE, Lieut.-Col., A.A.G.M.

OTTAWA, 24th June, 1866. [A true copy].

TORONTO, 2nd July, 1866.

Sir,—In reply to your inquiries on Saturday last, I am directed to inform you that "the Court of Inquiry is to be closed," and that Col. Booker can produce any evidence he thinks proper. If the Court requires further evidence it may produce witnesses.

I beg to remain, Yours truly, WM. L. DURIE, Lieut.-Col., D.A.G.M.

COL. DENISON, President Court of Inquiry.

OTTAWA, June 23rd, 1866.

Sir,—I have the honor to instruct you that the Court of Inquiry of which you are named President, is ordered on the application of Lieut.-Col. Booker, in order to give that officer the opportunity of disproving the unfavorable imputations which have been cast upon him in the public prints. You will therefore be pleased to take all evidence which may be produced before the Court by Lieut.-Col. Booker, and you will also endeavor to procure all other evidence which may tend to elucidate the truth.

The opinion of the Court of Inquiry must, of course, be based on and sustained by such evidence only as is embodied in the written proceedings. I have the honor to be, sir,

Your very obedient servant, P. L. MACDOUGALL, Colonel, A.G.M.

COL. G. T. DENISON, President Court of Inquiry, Toronto.

The Court then considered the application of Lieut.-Col. Booker to put in his narrative, and after due deliberation came to the conclusion that they should comply with his request, and accordingly gave him permission to put in his written statement.

Lieut.-Col. Booker then read and afterwards handed in to the Court the following statement of his connection with the operations of the troops under his command in the engagement at Lime Ridge:


On the morning of the 1st of June, 1866, at the hour of 5.30, I received the following telegraphic message from Lieut.-Col. Durie, A.A.G.M.:

TORONTO, June 1st, 1866.

To Lieut.-Col. Booker, Commandant:

Call out your regiment for active service at once, and proceed by special train to Dunnville via Paris immediately. Complete your men to sixty rounds per man. Take spare ammunition with you. Ascertain enemy's position as you progress, who are reported to have landed at Fort Erie. In proceeding to Dunnville stop at Caledonia Station and take command of two volunteer companies (Caledonia and York) in readiness there. Better take cars with you for their transport.

If Port Colborne is occupied by the enemy, secure yourself at Dunnville and report to me.

By Order, (Signed) Wm. L. DURIE, Lieut.-Col., A.A.G.M.

And I proceeded to warn the Thirteenth Battalion, under my command, for immediate active service. The members mustered rapidly at the rendezvous, but as many came without overcoats or breakfasts, I caused them to return home for breakfast and report again within the hour, instructing them to bring their overcoats, and those who had them, their haversacks with food. I cautioned them that I could not tell when nor where they would have the next opportunity for a meal.

At about 7 a.m. the Commandant (Col. Peacocke) informed me that he also was under orders to leave. Shortly afterwards the manager of the Great Western Railway notified me that the cars were ready for transport.

The 13th Battalion, say 265 of all ranks, embarked at 9.30 a.m., and proceeded by way of Paris to Dunnville, taking up the York and Caledonia Companies (Captains Davis and Jackson), who reported 95 of all ranks.

On arrival at Dunnville, where we expected to remain during the night, we were met by the Reeve of the town, who provided the men with billets, and I reported our arrival to Col. Peacocke by telegraph. We were at dinner when I received the following telegram:


To Commander Hamilton Volunteers, Dunnville:

Go on to Port Colborne at once.

(Signed) G. PEACOCKE.

A few minutes sufficed to see all on the cars (which had been retained at Dunnville for orders) en route for our destination, which we reached at about 11 o'clock p.m. We found the Queen's Own of Toronto had preceded us during the afternoon (say 480 of all ranks). The Queen's Own had secured all the billets, and the command with me endeavored to settle themselves as best they could in the cars for the night.

During the night, at my request, Major Skinner endeavored to secure a bread ration for the men: Some biscuits and bread were obtained, and that officer reported to me that the baker would prepare a batch of bread to be ready at 3 a.m. of the 2nd June.

I may now mention that, being the senior officer present, the entire command of the force at Port Colborne devolved on me. About midnight I received the following despatch by telegraph:


To Officer Commanding at Port Colborne:

I have sent Captain Akers to communicate with you. He will be with you at about half-past one. Send back the Great Western cars, if, after seeing Captain Akers, you think they are not wanted. If you get the ferry boat, send a detachment to patrol the river.

(Signed) G. PEACOCKE, Colonel.

Capt. Akers arrived punctually. On his arrival it appeared that Lieut.-Col. Dennis and myself were in possession of later and more reliable information of the position of the enemy than Colonel Peacocke seemed to have had when Captain Akers had left him at midnight. It then seemed necessary to inquire whether the original plan for a junction at Stevensville, to attack the enemy, supposed to be encamped near Black Creek, should be adhered to, when it appeared they were encamped much higher up the river, and nearer to Fort Erie.

It was therefore proposed that the tug boat "W. T. Robb," whose Captain had expressed a desire to be of service, should patrol the shore of the lake as far as Fort Erie, and endeavor to communicate with Col. Peacocke's command. It was at the same time suggested that I should take my command down by rail to the railroad buildings at Fort Erie, and occupy and hold them until 7 a.m. If not communicated with before 7 a.m., to proceed to Frenchman's Creek, on the north side of which, it had been reported to me by an officer of Her Majesty's Customs at Fort Erie, that the Fenians were encamped not more than 450 strong; that they had during the day stolen 45 or 50 horses, and were drinking freely.

It was also suggested that in the event of my not being communicated with before 7 a.m. (and then being at Fort Erie), I should proceed to Frenchman's Creek and attack the enemy, if still there. This command, however, was to depend upon the approval of Colonel Peacocke.

In the meantime, and before I had received the telegram (No. 4) Lieut.-Col. Dennis and Captain Akers had left in the tug (in company with the Welland Field Battery, armed with short Enfields, under the command of Captain King) for Fort Erie, Captain Akers, at the last moment, leaving the final arrangement with me, which I took down as follows:

"Memo.—Move at not later than 5.30; 5 o'clock if bread be ready. Move to depot at Fort Erie and wait till 7. If not communicated with before 7, move to Frenchman's Creek. If 'No' by telegraph, disembark at Ridgeway and move to Stevensville at 9 to 9.30 a.m. Send pilot engine to communicate with Lieut.-Col. Dennis at Erie and with telegrams."

Soon after their departure I received Col. Peacocke's telegraph, as follows:


To Commanding Officer, Port Colborne:

Have received your message of 3 a.m. I do not approve of it. Follow original plan. Acknowledge receipt of this.

(Signed) G. PEACOCKE.

This negatived our proposed change of plan, and left me to follow the instructions which I had received from Colonel Peacocke through Captain Akers, namely:

"Move at not later than 5.30; 5 o'clock if bread be ready. * * * Disembark at Ridgeway and march to Stevensville at 9 to 9.30 a.m."

The bread ration having been secured, the train left Port Colborne soon after 5 a.m. en route for Stevensville. The only horse on the cars belonged to Major Skinner, 13th Battalion, who had kindly offered him for my service. I expressed a desire that the field officers of the Queen's Own would take their horses, but was met by the reply that they would be of no use in the woods where we should likely be, and that it was thought best not to take them.

I sent a pilot engine in advance of the train some ten or fifteen minutes, and instructed its driver, if possible, to communicate with Fort Erie. The train with the volunteers proceeded very slowly and cautiously, and arrived at Ridgeway without a sign of obstruction, after more than an hour from its departure from Port Colborne. At Ridgeway we formed battalions in column of companies, right in front.

Means of conveyance for my stores not being at hand. I thought best to distribute as much spare ammunition amongst the men as possible, and requested those who could do so to carry an extra ten rounds in their pockets. At this time it was reported to me that the Caledonia Rifle Company had no percussion caps, and but few rounds of cartridge. I supplied them from the spare ammunition of the 13th Battalion. I endeavored to procure a horse or team for my medical officers' stores, but without success, and failing means of transport, I returned tents and blankets to Port Colborne, relieving the cars from further waiting at Ridgeway.

After a little delay I requested Major Gillmor (as the Queen's Own was the senior battalion) to take the lead of the column, and as one of his companies was armed with the Spencer repeating rifle, that it should form the advance guard.

When the battalions were proved, and before forming the advance guard. I gave the order to the column, "With ball cartridge—load." I made inquiries from the inhabitants as to their knowledge of the whereabouts of the enemy. The reports were contradictory and evidently unreliable. To take proper precaution and keep my appointment at Stevensville was my obvious duty.

The column of route was formed as follows: Advance guard of Queen's Own; remainder of the battalion, Major Gillmor commanding; York Rifles. Captain Davis; the 13th Battalion, Major Skinner in command; the Caledonia Rifles (Captain Jackson), forming the rear guard. On the advance I was in the centre of the column, looking out for signs of the enemy. After proceeding about two miles the advance guard signalled indications of men moving in our front. The column (say 840 of all ranks) was hereupon halted on the road. I gave the horse on which I rode to the Orderly, in order that I might carefully examine with my field glass the country over which we were advancing. Soon after I observed loose horses moving about in the woods to our left front, but saw no men.

Before ordering the advance, flanking parties were thrown out to scour the woods, right and left. This duty was performed by companies of the Queen's Own. Proceeding in this order for some distance, a volley was fired upon our advancing men from behind the zig-zag fences in the open. Our volunteers accepted the challenge. The affair had commenced.

The Queen's Own, as skirmishers and supports, slowly advanced, pushing back the enemy. We were gradually changing our front to the right, when Major Gillmor wished me to relieve the Queen's Own and send out the reserves, as his men were falling short of ammunition, and that one company (No. 5) had none for their Spencer rifles. I at once directed the right wing of the reserve to deploy on the rear company to the right and to extend. Major Skinner commanded the 13th Battalion, and acted throughout out very gallantly. The movement was admirably executed. The York Rifles were on the left and No. 1 Company of the 13th Battalion on the right of the line. A hearty cheer was given by the Queen's Own when they saw the 13th advancing, who, with the company named, relieved the Queen's Own, supported by the left wing of the reserve, which was composed of the 13th Battalion. The Queen's Own then became the reserve. The 13th and York Rifles in advance, driving the enemy before them to the woods, cheered heartily and were answered by the yells of the Fenians. I felt anxious about our right flank, as with my glass I noticed the enemy throwing back his right into the woods. I requested Major Gillmor, who was in command of the reserve, to keep a sharp look-out for the cross roads on which the reserve rested, and to send two companies from the reserve to occupy and hold the woods on the hill to our right. He sent the Highland Company of the Queen's Own to perform that duty.

At this time (nearly 9.30 a.m.) two telegrams were brought to me by a gentleman from Port Colborne, one informing me that the column under Col. Peacocke could not move until 7 o'clock, and the other in the following words:

CHIPPAWA, June 2, 5.30 a.m.

To the Officer Commanding, Port Colborne:

Be cautious in feeling your way, for fear obstacles should prevent a junction. If possible open communication with me, and I will do the same.

(Signed) G. PEACOCKE.

At this unexpected information I was much disappointed. Major Gillmor was then with me, and I showed it to him. I at once realized that the force which I had expected about this hour at Stevensville could not now render me assistance, and turning to Detective Armstrong (who had accompanied us from Hamilton and obtained a horse at Ridgeway), I desired him to convey to Col. Peacocke a message I wrote on the telegram I had just received, to the effect that the enemy had attacked us in force at 7.30, three miles south of Stevensville.

Immediately afterwards Major Gillmor reported that the Highland Company had been compelled to leave the woods on our right, as they had found the woods occupied by Fenians. Almost simultaneously cries of "Cavalry" and "Look out for cavalry" came down the road. I then observed men doubling down the hill. In the next few moments events succeeded each other very rapidly. As the cry came down the road, directions were given the reserves on the road to "Form square." At this crisis the fire of the enemy came heavily to our right flank, as well as into the front and rear of our force in advance. I saw nothing to justify the first impression that we were to be attacked by cavalry. I gave the word to "Re-form column," with the view of deploying, when to my surprise I found the rear of the reserve which had formed part of the square had dissipated, and moving down the road. Major Gillmor came and reported to me that the enemy was bringing up his reserves. I asked him how he knew. He replied that he saw them himself. I then inquired, "In what shape?" when he replied, "In column—in mass of column." I then ordered to retire. But the confusion had become a panic. The Thirteenth did all that men could do under the circumstances, and were the last in the retreat, which became general.

Many men were trodden down. I endeavored to rally the retreating mass, and gave orders to hold the woods on either side, and some little distance down the road was assisted by Surgeon Ryall (of the Thirteenth) and several men, but all of no avail. Bugler Clarke (of the Queen's Own) sounded "the halt" at my request several times. The horse was brought to me and I mounted and rode amongst the men. I entreated them to rally, and implored them to halt, but without effect. If I could form at Ridgeway I might refrain order. I there found Lieutenant Arthurs, of the Queen's Own, and other officers, attempting to rally and form companies. I called for "coverers" for the men to form. I was answered that the men could not find their officers. I then ordered the men to fall in so as to show a good front. The attempt was made, but without success, and I ordered the retreat upon Port Colborne, towards which place many had previously turned their steps. I requested a gentleman from Toronto (Mr. George Arthurs), who was present at Ridgeway, and mounted, to ride forward to Port Colborne and report that we were retiring, and to send help down the road for the stragglers. I saw that the colors of the Thirteenth were safe, and I moved off with the column. A short distance from Ridgeway I dismounted and walked with a member of the Queen's Own who was wounded, and kept the road afterwards for some time with him. A volunteer rode the horse into Port Colborne, where we arrived, much fatigued and distressed, at about 3 p.m. Nearly two miles from Port Colborne I was, with others, taken up by the second train which came down the road to meet us. The train took up several officers of the 13th and the Queen's Own.

At Port Colborne, through the kindness of Mr. Pring, the Collector of Customs, I was provided with the requisites for writing my despatches to the Major-General Commanding and to Colonel Peacocke. The drafts were perused by Major Gillmor; and one despatch was copied by Major Cattley of the Thirteenth and the other by a non-commissioned officer of the Queen's Own.

Shortly after returning to Port Colborne I received advice of ten companies of volunteers from Paris. Others arrived during the evening. Among the latter were the Home Guard of St. Catharines, under Lieut.-Col. McGiverin. I beg leave especially to thank that officer for the assistance he afforded, and for very generously dividing with my command the provisions lie had brought from St. Catharines with him for his own men.

Prisoners were being brought in in numbers, and every question was referred to me personally. I had no Major of Brigade, no aide, no staff, not even an office clerk of whose services I could at the moment avail myself, while farmers as scouts were coming in with their varied reports. I felt it due to the large force of volunteers under my command to request the Major-General Commanding to relieve me and send a professional soldier (one from whom I might take my orders) to assume the command.

When at Port Colborne I reported that the Thirteenth and Queen's Own were alike tired and hungry, and that if it were possible they should have a day's rest, and that those volunteers who had arrived during the day of the 2nd of June at Port Colborne should be sent forward first.

I pointed out that uncooked rations, which it was intended to serve out to the Queen's Own and the Thirteenth, would not benefit them, as they were without the necessary appliances to cook and make use of them. But it was not by my wish that the Thirteenth were detained at Port Colborne on the morning of the 3rd June, while the Queen's Own were ordered to march on to Fort Erie. I was anxious that both should be thoroughly refreshed, and I felt regret that the companions of the day previous should be separated, as they were equally able to proceed.

Then, either from misunderstanding, or perhaps that I was not sufficiently explicit, I found that I had been relieved from the command of my own battalion, and not of the general command only, as I had expected. I immediately communicated with Majors Skinner and Cattley that I had been relieved.

The history of my connection with the campaign, which resulted in the expulsion of the Fenians from the Niagara District, has now been detailed, from the moment I received orders until I was relieved from command. I submit to those to whom the inquiry of my conduct on the occasion may be entrusted, that the state of affairs which existed at Port Colborne on my arrival at 11 o'clock p.m. on Friday. 1st of June, will be better understood if the communications which previously passed between Colonel Peacocke and the officer commanding at Port Colborne were obtained. I have reason to believe that they will bear materially in explaining the plans proposed and under consideration before Captain Akers' arrival, and the propriety of the modification which, if Colonel Peacocke's approval were obtained, was to have been pursued.

I further submit the official despatches connected with the affair at Lime Ridge, published by authority in the Canada Gazette of Saturday, 23rd June, 1866. Upon two points I expect inquiry will be directed, namely, to the capacity and care shown by me for the command entrusted to me, and my personal conduct on the field. On this latter point I ask for the evidence of those who are present.

That every precaution and every consideration for the comfort and advantage of my battalion which the circumstances did permit, I confidently assert were taken.

The volunteer force from Hamilton answered to the call for service with alacrity. The entire force which I had the honor to command was animated with the highest feelings of patriotism and zeal. All personal considerations gave way, all hardships were borne cheerfully and without a murmur. We had but one wish—to meet the enemy; and but one hope, to aid in his discomfiture; and if under the trying circumstances in which we were placed the result was not so triumphant as the devotion and heroism of the volunteers deserved, I trust that as their conduct cannot be impugned, the Court of Inquiry will, on appreciation of the facts, exonerate their commanding officer from the complete want of success of an attack which undoubtedly caused the enemy to abandon their plans of invasion and commence their retreat.



The Court then proceeded to the examination of witnesses.

The first witness called by Lieut.-Col. Booker was Major Chas. T. Gillmor, commanding the Second Battalion, or Queen's Own Rifles.


Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—When I relieved the Queen's Own and advanced the Thirteenth, did you report to me that your men were becoming short of ammunition?

Major Gillmor—On some one occasion I mentioned that one or two companies stated to me that they were short of ammunition.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—When the Thirteenth were in action, did you send out the Highland Company, at my request, to hold the woods to our right, and the road, from the reserve?

Answer—I did send out the Highland Company with orders as described, but I cannot say if it was before or after the Thirteenth went out.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—What did they report on their return?

Answer—I don't recollect their return. I believe them to be the last to leave the field.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Did you hear the cry of "Cavalry"?


Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Did you see the Fenian reserves advancing after the cry of "Cavalry'"?


Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Did you see that we were outflanked to the right?

Answer—No, I believe it was the reserve. I could not see the extreme right.

Question from the Court—On what do you ground your belief that they were not outflanked on the right?

Answer—Principally on the statements of the officers and men who were out skirmishing on the right.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Did you notice men coming down the hill to our front at a double, in front of the reserves, crying "Cavalry"?


Question from the Court—When three companies of the Thirteenth were sent out to relieve the Queen's Own, had the movement been executed before the retreat was sounded?

Answer—No, so far as my knowledge extends. Both lines of skirmishers, Rifles and Thirteenth, came in together.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Was the endeavor made to bring the men out of square into column?

Answer—Yes. They did re-form column.

Question—Was the rear of the column or square now in retreat?

Answer—No. Not at that time.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Do you consider there was a panic when the retreat commenced?

Answer—I think the retreat was caused by a panic. After the column was re-formed I ordered the two leading companies again to extend and skirmish. They did so. I ordered the rest of the column, which at that time was composed of Queen's Own and Thirteenth mixed together, to retire, as they were exposed to a heavy fire on the front and right from the enemy's front and left. This order was being obeyed by the men with reasonable steadiness, when as I was standing in rear of the retiring column, I heard them cheer loudly and call out "reinforcements." I then saw some men in red, whom I believe were the left wing of the Thirteenth, and whom these men, I suppose, took to be reinforcements. When these men in red heard the cheer they broke and retired. Then the whole column became disorganized. This was about 9 o'clock a.m. The first shot was fired about half-past seven a.m.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Did you believe, when you saw my despatches to Col. Peacocke and Gen. Napier, that they were correct, and did you concur in the correctness of them when you were with me in the customs office at Port Colborne?

Answer—Yes, the general tenor of the report was correct, and I assented to it.

Question from the Court—Is there anything in Lieut.-Col. Booker's report, just read to you, that places the Thirteenth Battalion in a false position?


Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Do you think the men could have been rallied after they had commenced the retreat?

Answer—The whole force could not have been, but I could have rallied two or three hundred men around me at any time during the retreat, had I been disposed to do so. Officers of both the Queen's Own and the Thirteenth were frantically exerting themselves to rally their men, but, knowing that I could not be relieved by Col. Peacocke, and fearing that the enemy might pass to our rear, I thought it wiser to conduct the retreat in as orderly a manner as I could.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Were you satisfied with my conduct on the field?

Answer—Col. Booker asked me the same question in Port Colborne, and I now give him the same answer that I did then, which was, that I could see nothing in his conduct to disapprove of, except with regard to the formation of the squares, which I thought at that time was a mistake, and I think so still.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—As you were not mounted, would you explain the reason why you did not take your horse with, you when you left Port Colborne?

Answer—I had my horse at the station at Port Colborne, when Mr. Magrath, the manager, told me that I could not get him off the cars at Ridgeway without breaking his legs, there being no platforms.


The second witness called by Lieut.-Col. Booker was Charles Clarke, a Government detective officer, by commission from Mr. G. McMicken, the stipendiary Magistrate at Windsor.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Were you with the volunteers in the affair at Lime Ridge on the 2nd June?


Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Did you see the square disperse?

Answer—Yes. I was with the reserve in the ranks when the square was formed. A number of men, as they were coming in as the reserve, cried out, "Prepare to receive cavalry!" I should say it came from as many as fifty men. I saw the column re-formed. At this time a body of red-coats were coming around a curve in the road about two hundred yards in rear of the square. The Queen's Own and those of the Thirteenth began to cheer, supposing them to belong to the 47th Regiment coming to their relief. As soon as we ascertained that they were not the 47th, we supposed that they were two companies of the Thirteenth who had been driven in by main force, and the result was that we became panic-stricken, and we all broke. I saw several officers belonging to the Queen's Own and the Thirteenth attempting to rally the men. I saw Lieut.-Col. Booker attempting to rally the men, telling them to get into the bush on each side of the road, about four or six hundred yards from where they commenced to retreat. He got the bugler to sound the "halt" several times, and I heard the bugler say he was tired sounding the "halt." The men continued to retreat, except sixteen or seventeen of us, who got over the fence into the bush on our left, but had to leave because the main body continued their retreat towards Ridgeway. At Ridgeway I saw Lieut.-Col. Booker with four officers of the Thirteenth and one of the Queen's Own, each with a revolver in his hand, and Lieut.-Col. Booker had his sword, threatening to shoot the men if they did not stop. They broke through the line of these officers.

Question from the Court—When Lieut.-Col. Booker ordered the battalions that were retreating to get into the woods on each side of the road, what was your impression of his object?

Answer—He wanted to make a stand by getting-into the bush to repulse the Fenians, and it was a splendid opportunity, from the country being so open in front of the bush. I served nearly six years in India in the 40th Regiment, and during the affair in Candahar.

Question from the Court—Did you see Lieut.-Col. Booker on the field before and during the retreat?

Answer—Yes, several times.

Question from the Court—Did you observe anything in his conduct which appeared to you like shirking his duties?

Answer—No. On the contrary, I saw him urging on a company of the Thirteenth, which appeared to be dilatory.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Do you recollect the fact of our force being outflanked to our right?


Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Was the firing from the Fenians more rapid than from our men?

Answer—Yes, much more so. Part of the time it was like file firing. I am since aware that they used both the Sharpe and Spencer rifles.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Did you receive a letter from Major Gillmor and other officers of the Queen's Own, complimenting you for your coolness and conduct at Lime Ridge?

Answer—I did.


The third witness called by Lieut.-Col. Booker was Mr. George Allan Arthurs.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Were you at Ridgeway on the 2nd of June, and what did you see there?

Answer—I was there, and was at Ridgeway when the army was retreating. I there saw the bugler come from the field on Lieut.-Col. Booker's horse. My brother (Lieutenant Arthurs, of the Queen's Own) mounted the Colonel's horse and drew his pistol, and threatened to shoot the first man that did not do his duty. Lieut.-Col. Booker came up as my brother was checking the retreat. He mounted his own horse and rode back towards the field to consult with his officers. The retreat was checked so far by my brother that he "told off" a company of men composed of red coats and green coats. I did not see any exhibition on the part of Lieut.-Col. Booker of either cowardice or fear.


The fourth witness called by Lieut.-Col. Booker was John Douglas, Captain of No. 4 Company of the Queen's Own Rifles.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—Did you, on the 2nd of June last, see me at Lime Ridge?

Answer—Yes, in front of your command, under fire.

Question from the Court—Did his conduct on this occasion attract your attention?

Answer—Yes. It struck me that he was not very careful of his own safety, he being in front of the column of the Queen's Own, and clothed in scarlet. He was directing the movements, with a field-glass in his hands. This was when the Queen's Own were in column, after part of the Thirteenth had gone out in skirmishing order. I saw no hanging back on the part of any officer or man up to that time.

Question from Lieut.-Col. Booker—How did Col. Booker go from Ridgeway to Port Colborne?

Answer—I found Lieut.-Col. Booker on the last train going into Port Colborne. Major Gillmor and several officers of both regiments, with men of both regiments, were in the same train. The great bulk of the force had preceded them.


The fifth witness called by Lieut.-Col. Booker was Lieut. William Arthurs, of No. 4 Company of the Queen's Own.

Question by Lieut.-Col. Booker—Were you at Ridgeway as Lieut.-Col. Booker arrived there during the retreat on the 2nd of June, and what did you see?

Answer—Yes. I saw Col. Booker on the retreat, and he seemed no way flurried or excited, but quite cool and collected. He spoke to the men. He asked them to form on their coverers. Several companies were formed up and retreated in order.


The sixth witness called by Lieut.-Col. Booker was Francis Clark. Bugle-Major of the Queen's Own Rifles.

Question from the Court—Did you sound the "halt" on the 2nd of June, by order of Lieut.-Col. Booker during the retreat?

Answer—Yes, repeatedly. He used his best endeavors to halt the men, and then he went forward amongst the men and asked them to halt and front and form. It had no effect, and he said, "Oh, God! what is this?" They still moved on. They retreated, red and green mixed together, as far as I could see, to the turn of the road.

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