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The Fenian Raid of 1866 and Events on the Frontier
By Barlow Cumberland, M.A., President Ontario Historical Society, Captain, Retired List. (Presented by Dr. W. Wilfred Campbell, and read Sept. 27, 1910.)


The President, the Rev. Dr. Bryce, at the meeting of the Royal Society of Canada, held last May, gave a narrative of events connected with the Queen’s Own Regiment in which he had served (in the University College Co.) as Lance-Corporal, and of the advance of Col. Booker’s Column from Port Colborne to Ridgeway and Fort Erie, being the movements of the western wing of the forces then defending the Niagara Frontier.

The movements of the Eastern wing, being that of Col. Peacock’s Column from Chippewa, of which the “10th Royals” in which I was then serving formed a part, not having hitherto been written, it was desired that I should give a paper recording them.

Much has been written of the movements of the Western Column culminating as it did in the action at Ridgeway, but little has been given of the Eastern. It is thought well that both should be recorded.

A narrative of events in which the narrator has personally participated must of necessity be somewhat individualistic, the “ego” frequently intervene, but, as palliative for this, it is out of such leaflets of personal observation and record that material is afforded for the assistance of subsequent combined historical narrative. The aroma of the period is formed on contemporaneous experiences instead of from colourings of sympathetic invention.

The Conditions Preceding the Raid.

As prelude to the events it may be well to give somewhat of the conditions which preceded the movements of the Forces on the Frontier.

During the early months of the spring of 1866 rumours had been rife of the possibilities of a forward movement being made against Canada by the combined forces of the Fenian organization then so active in the United States. England, as said their orators, was “to be humiliated through her territory in Canada, the Irish Flag of Freedom was to be raised over the Union Jack on British soil, and a vital blow be struck for the freeing of Ireland from the Saxon Yoke.”

The time was opportune. On the American side thousands of trained soldiers were being disbanded from the armies in both the Northern and Southern divisions of the Civil War, and were restless from their enforced inaction. While many had returned to their peaceful employments there was still a considerable percentage who were ready for any adventure, however reckless, which might restore to them the excitements of camp life. In addition to those who were of Irish descent, there was plenty of available material of kindred sort, and of these conditions the Fenian leaders took full advantage. It was now, or never, that their years of promises were to be fulfilled, and the flagging subscriptions to their cause be again aroused.

On the Canadian side the cry of “Wolf” has been so often raised on the borders, only to fade away, that not a few of the Canadian people had settled down into incredulity and into apathy. Militia expenditures were looked at askance or not warmly supported, perhaps due to an increased sense of security from the added regiments of the regular army which the British Government had sent over and distributed through Canada for its defence. Some there were who, affected by the creed of anti-militarism, opposed any forms of drill or military organization, and expressed their reliance upon the intervention of the American Government to prevent any Fenian invaders from ever leaving the boundaries of the United States; but many others there were who considered that to trust solely to the British Government for defence, and to a foreign Government for protection, was neither honourable nor patriotic. Preparations for self protective action were therefore maintained by the more zealous, and the fervour of volunteering which had been roused by the Trent “Affair” of 1SG1, was by these earnestly continued.

The Call to Arms.

The authorities at Ottawa had been keeping careful watch, and as a preliminary precaution a section of the Canadian Volunteer Force, some 10,000 in number, of which the Toronto Regiments formed a part, was on Sth March, 1866, called out, not for continuous active service but for daily drill at their several headquarters.

I was then an undergraduate student in residence at Trinity College, and a private in the “Trinity College Company,” No. 8, of the Queen’s Own, a sister company of the “University College Company,’’ No. 9, of the same regiment in which President Bryce was serving, these being the two “Student Companies” of the Battalion.

The enrolled students then attending Trinity College were not of themselves sufficiently numerous to quite fill the ranks of a full company, members were therefore accepted from kindred young men of the city families, the Grasetts, Ilagartys, Harmans, Evans and others, and it is interesting to note, that of the whole number of 62 then serving in the Company, 18 of the 19 who were collegians were afterwards ordained in the ministry of the Church, and most of the others of the company became working laymen in the Synods and organizations of the Anglican communion. Thus truely did the Trinity maxim, "Fear God and Honour the King,’’assert its virility.

The first call to arms was disruptive of the continuity of educational routine. To some it was an interference with the earnestness of their studies in preparation for the final University examinations in June, to others a welcome interlude in the rigidity of college discipline, and an outlet for the sportive tendencies of vigorous youth.

The hours of drill for the Volunteers had been so arranged that there should be as little interference for the city men as possible with their daily avocations; but at college the morning chapel bell still rang, some lectures continued, and evening “Gates” were still incumbent to the inflexible porter at the college entry. I fear me there was little thought for the professors’ grinds, for how could a fellow search for the most appropriate allusion in the pages of his Liddle & Scott, or puzzle out a differential calculus when, after drill, his table was encumbered, and his sofa sprawled over by youthful forms, while with tunics released and loosened belts, they chatted to the accompaniment of the congenial pipe, and slaked their dusty throats (as we used to do in those days), with the steward’s mild beer from the buttery. Intricacies of the firing movements, the evolutions of company drill, the anticipations of actual service in the field, were much more engrossing topics than the mutabilities of the aorist, or of the advance of the Israelites to the Promised Land. The incongruities of a green uniform peering-through the voluminous folds of a surplice in the choir in chapel, or adorned in lecture but not concealed by the ragged remnants of a college gown, were but common accompaniriients of the martial period. The Church Militant had been merged in the campaign expectant and proprieties had to give way to the imperative necessity of punctual attendance at the musters in the drill shed.

So, too, no doubt, it was the same at University College, for once again it was in Toronto, as our poet Mair wrote of the gathering in York in 1812;

“What news afoot?

Why everyone’s afoot and coming here York’s citizens are turned to warriors. The learned professions go a-soldiering.

Tecumseth.''

Among the memories of this period is a garrison parade held one Sunday in St. James’ Cathedral. The church had then two high galleries, one on the west and the other on the east side of the central nave, both of which, much to the improvement of the edifice, have since been removed. The church was completely filled with the soldiers, regulars and volunteers. The Trinity College Company, together with the other companies of the Queen’s Own Rifles, were placed in the lines of seats in the upper West gallery facing the nave. At the recital of the Apostles’ Creed, when all the congregation rose to their feet, the Trinity company by an intuitive movement simultaneously faced to the left towards the chancel, an undesigned coincidence from force of Chapel habit which, thus italicizing the location of the company in the gallery, afterwards caused some amusing comment.

This spell of daily drill, after continuing for three weeks, was discontinued, and we returned again to the even but much interrupted tenor of college study, yet only to have it all completely stopped by the final call to arms.

The volunteers had been instructed to hold themselves in readiness for any immediate summons and drill had been kept up on one day in each week.

I had in the interval received appointment as Ensign in the 10th Royals, the regiment which had been raised in 1860 under my father, Col. Cumberland, and from the command of which he had retired in the autumn of 1865 upon his appointment as Provincial A.D.C. to Lord Dufferin.

Although not gazetted until December. 1866, I had at once undertaken my new duties, turned in my equipment as a private in the Queen’s Own, and was in May in the service of the 10th Royals.

The second call was sudden. On the evening of the 31st of May during a concert being held in the Music Hall, Toronto, public announcement was made from the platform, that a raid on the Niagara frontier was impending, the Queen’s Own had been called out for active service and were to assemble in the drill shed at 4 next morning. The news was fast distributed through the city, and much regret was felt that the 10th had not also been summoned.

Then began at Trinity a hurry and a scurry of preparation. The night was far gone in the furbishing of uniforms and accoutrements and the getting of things ready for the journey. The welcome news came later during the night that the 10th were also to parade at noon next day for movement to the front. In the early morning, donning my uniform as ensign which I kept in my room at college, I sallied out to my father’s house on College Street, adjacent to the University buildings, chafing on the way under the delays of the overcrowded rattle-trap horse cars which were then the only means of conveyance in Toronto. Arriving at home I found that an enterprising fellow collegian, a private in the Trinity company, who boarded with a clergyman in the neighbourhood, had been in advance of me. He was a persona grata with my mother and sisters who had fitted him out with my newest underwear, many of my belongings and still worst of all my shoulder satchel. The 10th had been ordered to provide themselves with food for 24 hours, so perforce I paraded to the drill shed with a large brown paper parcel under my arm containing my food and chattels.

Most of the Queen’s Own had sailed at 6.30 a.m. in the steamer “City of Toronto” for Port Dalhousie, and the balance (120) were to leave for the same place at 2 p.m. on her return.

The drill shed, a large building with arched roof of single span (since destroyed), was situated on the west side of Simcoe Street, adjacent to the old Parliament Buildings and extended through from Wellington Street to Front Street. It was built in the hollow of the old Russells Creek, a portion of whose valley is still to be seen in the Lieutenant Governor’s garden, and the hard earth floor of the shed was far below the level of Wellington Street. From this street a stairway led down to a small entrance door at the north end and at the south end were the broad double doors by which the regiments marched out direct on the lower level to Front Street.

The scene was one of much excitement, the surrounding streets being filled with people, but only members of the regiments were admitted entrance to the building by the sentries at the doors.

The 10th Royals, as did the Queen’s Own,paraded in fullest strength. Many men who had passed through the regiments pressed forward to be re-enrolled. We had in our company No. 1, two ex-officers who volunteered as privates, Capt. Clarence Moberly and Capt. John G. Ridout, formerly of the 100th Royal Canadians who had been adjutant of the 10th in 1865, and as the company with them was over strength they agreed to serve without pay and at their own expense. Every old uniform, whether soiled or ill-fitting, was eagerly accepted, haversacks, of which the regiment had a goodly supply, bulged largely with the men’s extras and provisions. I obtained one of these, and gloated over my Esau brother of the Q.O.R. that it held more than my errant satchel could for him. Overcoats were rolled and fastened by straps, placed over the left shoulder in bandolier fashion, encircling the body but leaving the right arm free, 40 rounds of ball cartridges, for the muzzle loading Enfields with which we were armed, were served out to each man, but there were no knapsacks nor water bottles.

At 4 p.m. the broad south doors were opened and on Friday, 1st June, under command of Major Boxall, Col. Brunel being detained in Montreal, the regiment headed by its band marched out.

Immediately we were surrounded by the throngs of friends who pressed forward, filling the road alongside with the column marching in fours, along Front Street, west to Bathurst Street, where we were to entrain at the Great Western, Queen’s Wharf, Freight Shed,

Two hundred and fifty of the 47th Regiment (regulars), under Lt. Col. Villiers, had already been entrained at the station-. We were soon placed in the cars, and amid a torrent of cheers from the throngs who had surged upon the bridge and upon the ramparts of the old fort overlooking the railway yard, the train started on its way at 4.30. We ran through Hamilton without stopping. The overhead bridges and the sides of the railway cutting were crowded with people enthusiastically cheering as indeed was also done at every hamlet on the way.

On the train the utmost good fellowship and hilarity prevailed; greetings were lavishly returned to the young women who, as we passed, sent their waving signallings. Stops and delays were numerous and the men, many of whom owing to the hour of the assembly and the hurry of preparation had missed their mid-day meal soon, like boys off on an excursion, had made a big hole in the provender in their haversacks.

The Advance to Fort Erie.

It was dark when we passed St. Catharines, and night when we reached Suspension Bridge at 11 p.m. Here there was to be a halt for an hour waiting orders and we were to stay in the station. No definite arrangements having been made by the authorities for provisioning the men, some of the officers considered it a good opportunity for obtaining further supplies and to do a little foraging. Capt. McMurrich and Lieut. Patterson of our company soon effected arrangements with a neighbouring hotel and our company were taken over in squads and given a full meal. It was during one of these that our immaculate bugler boy first gained that notoriety for escapades which ever afterwards continued to be earned by him. Being very much of a boy, he had a boy’s fondness for investigation, so that fooling with a rifle which he had picked up in the hotel he snapped the trigger. Fortunately the muzzle was pointing upwards and the bullet went through the ceiling causing a hurried rush to find out if any one was in the room above. No further harm was done, but the men learning a good lesson and the boy didn’t sit down quite so comfortably as previously.

The telegraph wires were not working and as the condition of the track, which had only lately been laid down, was unknown, the railway authorities decided not to start the train until dawn, but we were put again into the cars to spend the night.

In the early morning the train was transferred from the Great \\ estern Railway to the new Erie and Niagara branch, and about 5 a.m. we were unloaded at Chippewa. Here we joined the 19th Lincoln Battalion, 350 men under Lieut. Col. Currie and the St. Catharines company of garrison artillery, who had preceded us from St. Catharines, on Friday and had reached Chippewa at midnight. Col. Peacock and the regulars had arrived there at dusk on the same evening and all had bivouacked on the open common near the bridge across the Chippewa River.

Col. Peacock’s orders over night had been that breakfast was to be served early so that his force might move at 6 a.m.; but in the morning finding that the volunteers had not been supplied with any provisions and had spent the greater part of the night on the train, and knowing that the brigade had a march ahead with an expected engagement with the Fenians at its end, decided that it was absolutely necessary that the volunteers should have a meal before starting.

This as my memory serves me and those of others with whom I have consulted, was mainly prepared for us by the men of the 16th regiment, so that no time should be lost.

The meal was served out, camp broken up, and we marched off the ground at about 7 a.m. on June 2nd. Capt. [J. A. Macdonald of the St. Catherines Garrison Artillery, who were left behind to guard the base at Chippewa, says he was on the guard tent, and that it was nearer 7.30 before the column started.]

This eastern column under Col. Peacock consisted of Royal Artillery, Col. Hoste’s Battery, 90 horses; 200 men and 6 Armstrong guns; detachment 47th Regiment, 16 officers, 250 men, under Lieut. Col. Villiers; 16th Regiment, 350 men, 16 officers, under Major Grant; 19th Lincoln, 350 men, 30 officers, under Lieut. Col. Currie; 10th Royals, 420 men, 30 officers, under Major Boxall. Total 1,600 men, 6 guns, but no cavalry.

It was a fine sight, as after having been formed up in brigade the troops successively taking their places in the route march, moved off with the Grey Battery and their guns in the centre.

After a short distance out from Chippewa the route changed to move along the river road, following the river bank, winding around the reaches and points where the currents passed on their way to the Falls. The early mists had faded away and soon the morning sun beat down in fullest strength, presage of a sweltering day.

After preceding along the river road for about an hour, during which many of the men sang choruses as they marched, a sudden turn was made at Black Creek inland, almost at right angles, and we left the river behind. The pace hitherto had been fairly quick; but soon it was hastened, and then the rumour came down the line that the Queen’s Own and 13th were engaged with the Fenians at some point ahead. Then the rate was increased, paces lengthened and every man strove his utmost to press quicker forward. It was the first hot day of the summer season, one of those days when the air unrelieved by any moving breeze seems too hot and heavy to breathe, when clothes are heavy and perspiration comes without exertion. Our men in the unaccustomed weight of heavy shakoes, close buttoned thick tunics, and with military overcoats over their shoulders and heavy leather ammunition pouches which banged on their buttocks at every step, suffered much from the speed and the heat. Their thirst was insatiable and being without water bottles they would drop out of the ranks to lap up the water in the ditches alongside the roads only to be still more overheated by running up to take their places in the ranks again. We were marching immediately behind the 16th and the sight of one of their men falling over, after taking a long drink, assuaged their desire and made them more willing to take the advice of their officers that a pebble carried in the mouth was the best palliative against thirst. The regulars suffered even more than our men, for in addition to their warm clothing they were in heavy marching order with full kit and knapsack and carrying extra rounds of ammunition, sixty rounds of the heavy Enfield ball cartridge. Poor fellows, they struggled bravely on but many were obliged to sit down and rest on the roadside, loosening off their knapsacks while the column still swept on and leaving many behind.1 Our men suffered most from their feet. The volunteers were marching in their own usual civilian, every-day city shoes, many with high heels and narrow toes, quite unfitted for a forced march on a hot day over hardened ruts, made slippery by dust, on a sun-baked country road.

It may not have been strictly in accordance with the then military regulations, but our Company impressed and hired a passing farmer and his team. Putting the waggon in the middle we loaded it with overcoats and haversacks and gave the sore ones a chance for a few minutes of alternating rest, men and officers carrying at times two rifles each so that weary shoulders might have a little relief. In such way we kept our company together and came into the stopping place at the end in full strength. The regulars lost many of their men on the way.

Halt at New Germany.

Notwithstanding the heat and difficulties the fast pace had been kept up without a halt until at 11 a.in. A stop was made at a place called New Germany, now called Snyder, a mile and a half from Stevensville for which we had set out. We then learned that an action between the Fenians and the volunteers had taken place somewhere near by, but it was all over, and wc were to remain where we were while it was being ascertained in what direction the Fenians had gone. It was a terrible disappointment to find we were too late, for we had done our best and the column had made a really fast march.

Different estimates have been made of the distance marched, and it has been variously reported at from 9 to 10 miles. I have recently had it measured and find the distance by the route we came from Chippewa to New Germany is 12{ miles. There is a shorter and more direct route of 9 miles; but as the bridges on this had been reported unfit for artillery we had been brought by a detour to the longer route along the river road, like around the three sides of a parallelogram, to join the other route. At any time 12| miles in four hours, or in three and a half hours if we left at 7.30 a.m., is good walking; but for armed troops and on such a day it was a really creditable effort, but not having ended successfully in bringing us into action has not received much credit. Yet the recollection of that forced march to get up in time to the fighting line will not easily be forgotten by those who engaged in it.

The rest was welcome, tired limbs were stretched out upon the sward, and the neighbouring farm houses foraged for supplies—fat pork, hard tack and bread soaked in the sizzling fat was the menu for the day. “Is this all we are going to get?” said one private. ‘ Well, well,’’ replied the sergeant looking at his officers who were sitting on the top of a rail fence eating their share, “ Wot’s good enough for the officers is good enough for us.”

The good people of St. Catharines had been good enough to promptly send up supplies for their regiment, and some of ours were lucky in getting cuts from their good quarters of beef as the waggons passed by us to the 19th.

Everyone regretted that we had not been up for the early engagement but were full of hopes, and were told that we would have our chance later on in the day. So we cheered ourselves with the thought and got ready.

It would have amused some at home if they had seen the junior ensign at work busy with scissors and sponge on the sore footed ones set out in a row before him on a bank, with their boots and stockings off. Feet were sponged, blisters pricked, bare places mended up with goldbeaters, skin, and soles cooled and soaped to be ready for another try after the Fenians. Luckily the hunting “huzziff” with its camp contents had not gone off with the satchel, for narrow toed civilian shoes are poor things to carry volunteers when out on active service.

News had come that the Fenians were retreating back towards Fort Erie and at 5.30 we were started off to chase after them. Just after we had marched off the Governor General’s Body guard under Major George T. Denison, came up and we moved to one side of the road to let them by. giving them a rousing cheer as they gallopped past towards the head of the column. Dusk came on as we hurried forward. After we had gone about 9 miles a bank of woods closed in, into which a rise in the road entered, and we saw some men on horses in the opening. It quickly became dark and a part of the 47th and our No. 1 company of the 10th were sent out in skirmishing order as advance picquetsto the right of the road. The column halted and the whole force bivouacked in the open for the night.

Our company lay under the lee of a rail fence, from the other side of which the fields sloped up towards the woods. The ground on which we were placed was fresh ploughed and soggy and no lights or fires were allowed.

Luckily our restless bugler boy with his wandering tendencies discovered a stack of straw in a field to one side of us, so the captain permitted one at a time from each of our double picket files to go and get an armful, and before long the whole company was bedded and out of the mud. The dark, still night was spent in watchful quiet and the remaining contents of the haversacks shared and eaten with relish.

At earliest dawn (3rd June), three men were seen coming towards us over the fields from the woods at the right. Being challenged they threw up their hands and running forward climbed over the fence and asking to be taken at once to headquarters, were sent along our line towards the main road to Col. Peacock. “ Good heavens,” said one as they passed by, "That’s Col. Dennis, but he has cut his long whiskers off.” So indeed it was. The shaven, haggard faced man, with slouched cap and tousled common clothes was the same man, but very different in appearance, from the stately Colonel Stoughton Dennis, District Commanding Officer of the 5th District, with handsome uniform and flowing Dundreary whiskers, who had gone out in command of the Queen’s Own only two days before. “ What in the world has happened?” “What has become of the Queen’s Own?” were some of the questions that at once went around. A few minutes afterwards as it was fairly light we were up and off.

As we approached Fort Erie, which was 2| miles from our bivouac, the troops were extended in a wide sweeping semi-circle to envelop the fort and town, and so to close in on the Fenians whom we expected to bring to a fight with their backs to the river.

Again No. 1 company was in luck for we were sent forward as an advance party to search the woods and houses in front of our part of the line. The first persons we encountered were several men of the Welland Battery, and Private Hindes of the Trinity College Company, and Private Junor of the University Company of the Queen’s Own, who had been taken prisoners by the Fenians on the previous day and had just escaped. They told us a little of the events, and that early that morning a large body of the Fenians had gone back to the American shore but that there were still many left about the town. Continuing our advance the company searched every haystack and building. In a little one storey and a half building it was thought there was a Fenian concealed in the attic, so notwithstanding the voluble protestations of the Irishwoman in possession, Captain (then private) J. G. Ridout, was hoisted up through the trap door to make search. He soon came down, not by the way be went up but through the ceiling, bringing with him, not a prisoner but a cloud of broken plaster and dust, and landing in the middle of the bed which doubled up and broke under his weight amid a volley of words from the proprietress. Luckily he didn’t land in the middle of the room on the bayonets of the men who had crowded into it, but the appearance of the burly ex-adjutant all covered with cobwebs as he extricated himself from the bed clothes was altogether too farcical to be serious, so the expurgations and danger were smothered in uncontrollable laughter. In searching another house a strong arm yanked a man out of a cupboard in which he was hiding, and sent him swirling into the middle of the room. He acknowledged himself to be Father McMahon and had been with the Fenians.

He was tried at Toronto and sentenced to death but soon afterwards was released and sent across the border.

In another room a dead Fenian was lying. This house we afterwards learned was that of a man named Canty, who had long been suspected as a Fenian and who when they had come over had brought out a sword and announced himself as a major in the “Patriot Army.” On a table in the middle of a neighbouring barn was the body of a man (afterwards known to be Lieut. Lonergan of the Fenian forces), with his shirt open exposing the death wound in his body, and on the floor alongside another dead Fenian.

The regulation Springfield U.S. Army rifles and accoutrements marked U.S. captured showed their official origin. When as was our wont, prodding with bayonets the hay and straw in the mows on either side, a rustle was heard and a faint voice saying, “ Don’t shoot, I’ll come out,” when a poor wounded fellow with his arm in a sling emerged from the straw.

These prisoners with others (some 12 or 13 in all), picked up as we worked forward, were left behind under guard; but alas when we reached the heights overlooking the town and river there before us lay the tug and scows with the Fenians close to the American shore with an American gunboat near by.

The quarry had stolen away and we were disappointed of the fight we had hoped for.

In Camp at Fort Erie.

Locations for the regiments of the brigade were at once laid out along the high shores. The day was spent in clearing our camp ground, making pits for the cooks, etc., and generally getting things in order.

Our camp was alongside a road leading from Port Colborne. About 5 o'clock in the afternoon the Queen's Own arrived. They had come by train from Port Colborne, 5$ miles, to Sherks Crossing, the place where they ought to have left the train the previous day, and from thence with a short halt at Ridgeway, the scene of their struggle, had marched in by road to Fort Erie. As they came in sight the mutual recognition of the Toronto regiments was enthusiastic, camp work was abandoned, the road lined and the cheers resounded. The 10th were just preparing a meal which was at once offered to their brothers and of which many of them returned to share. It was all we saw of them for they moved off during the next night to Stratford.

We camped that night in the position allotted to us; but as Fenians were reported to be still in the neighbourhood guards and outlying picquets were set out. Tents had been served out late, but there were no poles nor pegs, so we lay on the ground and each squad spreading out its tent over them as a covering slept in well earned rest after their hard marching and 40 hours of exertion.

Early next morning we improvised tent poles out of a neighbouring rail fence and got the tents up.

The 10th when first raised had been formed as a mechanics' or Engineers battalion and though changed to an infantry regiment its recruitings' still continued to be made from those classes of employments. There were thus many artizans in the ranks and specialists among the officers. Full advantage of this was taken and parties were detailed to lay out drainage and water supply, restore the tracks of the Erie and Niagara Railway which had been pulled up in places by the Fenians and repair buildings and rolling stock. There was, as well as the regular military duties, plenty of work to be done proving the utility of the regiment as a workingman’s battalion. The men were keen, perhaps somewhat given to hilarity, but under the training they received soon improved wonderfully in drill and discipline. In physique the regiment was found by actual measurement on parade to compare favourably with any other, whether regular or volunteer, in the brigade.

On the second night in camp (June 4th), an event occurred which caused much excitement. The regiments of the brigade, extended in long lines on the brow of the hill, had been ordered to maintain guards and outpost picquets in the rear of each of their camps. I happened that night to be in charge of the main guard of the 10th. The rear picquets had been placed within touch of one another in the woods on the rising ground behind us. About 11 o’clock a rifle shot rang out at our immediate rear and at once every one was alert and the “Assemble” bugles sounded along the lines of the brigade. On hurried consultation with the acting-major it was agreed that I should take the balance of the guard which was lined up at the guard tent and strengthen the picquets in the direction of the shot and that he would send out a company at once to relieve me. We doubled out and gaining the wood found the men at their posts when one of them, a funny little old chap, explained how he had fired the shot. “I heerd somethin’ movin’ about in the dark but I couldn’t see nothin’ so I crouched down and listened. I heerd branches cracklin’ so I challenged him, but divil an answer did he make, so I shouted, 'Stop, or I’ll shoot ye,’ but niver a word did he say but kep’ coinin’ on, so I blazed at him and he ran, I heerd the leaves rustlin’ as he went.”

The relief company under Capt. Mussen came quickly up and I hurried back with the guard. The regiment was standing motionless, in close column on the parade ground. We had scarcely got back to the guard tent when up galloped a party on horseback, being Colonel Lowry and his staff. It was a narrow squeak for what would have been said if they had found the tent empty and the guard away?

After making enquiries the Colonel went over to the battalion and there expressed himself pleased with the steadiness of the men under a sudden night alarm. Among the staff was my father, who seeing me as they rode away said, “ Hello, so it’s you. Didn’t the old regiment do well? . Come and see me in the morning.” He had come over on the staff of Col. Lowry and it was the first I khew of it.

The regiment remained under arms for an hour or so but nothing further occurred.

In the early dawn we searched the wood and found only a peaceful cow grazing quietly with a bullet score on her flank. Private Billy Cordingly had to stand any amount of chaff and “Billy Cordingly’s cow” became one of the stock jokes of the camp; but the episode was not without its value for the Brigade.

Next morning, accepting the invitation given, I went down to the water front and found the father with Col. Lowry and members of his staff comfortably established in the directors’ car of the Northern Railway, which had been brought over from Toronto. The “ Alabama,” the name by which the car was known, was then used as the headquarters office of Col. Lowry, who was in command. Besides being the business centre it became also a congenial rendezvous, for the steward, the “ inimitable ” Parker could put up good meals, and was a deft hand at the composition of those appetizing mixtures in which thirsty souls delight, and hospitality abounded.

Sec. II., 1910. 7.

The evening coteries were indeed pleasant gatherings to which, although only a junior ensign, I was, by my connection, admitted when off duty. Col. the Hon. John Hillyard Cameron, Col. Wolseley and many others, contributing their comments on campaigning and world wide experiences, while Capt. Hogge of the 47th acted as A.D.C., a round faced, mellow complexioned officer, whose “smiles” were frequent and acceptable.

The usual camp duties and interminable drill were not all that fell to our share for the regiment, as did all the others, supphtd its quotas for outlying picquets.

The Newbigging Farm at Frenchman’s Creek, some 2| miles down the river from Fort Erie, towards Chippewa, was a very favourite post, for the young ladies of the house were comely and genial so that the duties of picket were accompanied by much pleasurable companionship.

The main body of the Fenians, we learned, had camped at the farm on the 1st of June, the day they landed. Their arms and ammunition had been distributed to them on the scows when crossing the river. After forming up in the town they had marched down along the lake shore road arriving at Newbiggings about 8 a.m., some 700 or 800 in number, and carrying seven or eight green flags. On these were, as one of their men had said, the “Harp of Ould Ireland,” and one of them displayed a harp above a crown. Some of the breastworks of fence rails, which they had constructed along the banks of the creek facing towards the direction of Chippewa, were still to be seen. These were made of rails piled four or five feet high with others set on top forming a sloping roof screen for the rifle pits. When leaving aftei‘ midnight, and going inland on the early morning of the 2nd they had set fire to the bridge across the creek and burned or thrown into the river a large quantity of arms of which they appeared to have had a large surplus supply.

Another favourite outlying post was at the other end of the position of the forces at the car ferry of the Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway. This was about H miles up the river from the town and near the old Fort Erie which had played so important a part in the war of 1812. Here the cars of the trains were transferred to a large ferry steamer on which they w<#e carried across the river to the Buffalo side. The inspection of the passengers by going through the cars, and attending the arrivals and departures of the steamer were pleasant interludes in the twenty-four hours of duty.

An event which caused much and excited comment might be mentioned. The Fenian dead we had found we had buried in a pit dug below the hill. Two days afterwards, by Col. Lowry’s permission, one of them was exhumed and taken over to Buffalo for interment.

That night, at a public meeting in Buffalo, of Fenian sympathizers, a fervid orator named Fitzgerald, created intense indignation by expatiating upon the inhumanity and outrages of the Canadians, which he said “was worthy of the brutal Saxons.” He declared that the bodies of the fallen had been horribly mutilated and that of Lonergan had been almost scalped. A headquarters’ enquiry, which at once followed, proved that every care had been exercised; but we were advised that when burying the dead without coffins it is better to place them with faces downward, and the false report was publicly refuted by Col. Lowry in a letter to the American consul. It is ill founded, virulent statements such as made, which create international animosities, for the truths and refutations seldom come to all the hearers or readers.

During our stay at Fort Erie we were not without recreation. Our energetic bugler boy had brought to our camp two horses which he had found straying about on the day of our arrival. One of these, although with mane and tail closely cropped, was promptly claimed by our adjutant, the horse and its rider, who was not celebrated for his horsemanship, having parted company during the advance. The other, never being claimed, may have been “borrowed” elsewhere by the Fenians so the officers of our company had ample opportunity for riding around the neighbourhood, including sundry visits to the New-bigging farm.

Our company was rich in negro minstrelsy, and Privates Lee Jacobs and Dave Farrell were professional clog dancers. A pair of barn doors were set up in front of our tents for a stage, and on “ off nights ” entertainments given, much for the amusement of the other companies who flocked to the concerts at “No. 1.” After matters had been settled down many visitors came over from Buffalo, parties of ladies and gentlemen, to see the unusual sight of a British brigade in camp. We entertained them to the best of our ability and formed and received much pleasant association.

Thus the hours of duty and relaxation passed quickly away; but we were glad when at noon on the 19th June we entrained for home. We did not reach Toronto until after 10 p.m., the night was dark and disagreeable, the streets empty, the people had all gone home, so we marched along in quiet and dismissed at the drill shed. Next morning the mayor and officials came down to our parade full of regrets. They had given a public reception to the Queen’s Own on their arrival from Stratford at 3 p.m. on the previous afternoon; but by some omission they had not received any notice of when the 10th would come back and so they had not been able to arrange a similar reception for us. Regrets, too, were warmly expressed in both regiments that the Queen’s Own and 10th Royals had not been together from start to finish.

The 10th had not, much as they wished it, been under fire; but had done much campaigning and good work in active service in the field, greatly for the benefit of the men and the creation of a spirit of readiness for action, which has ever remained in the regiment.

The Plan of Campaign.

There has been so much controversy upon the plan of campaign under Col. Peacock and its performance, so many misconceptions, mainly the outcome of the hurried and not fully informed reports made in newspapers during the first few days of its progress, that it is well to give a resume of it and the consensus of opinions as expressed at the time at headquarteis, of which I had exceptional opportunities of learning.

General Napier, at Toronto, was in full command of all the forces in Upper Canada, now Ontario. The local command of the Niagara Frontier force was entrusted to Col. Peacock of the 16th, who with his regiment was then at St. Catharines, which was to be the central point for his operations. The main object was to protect the Welland Canal and to prevent any advance on it by the Fenians, who were reported on June 1st to have landed at Fort Erie.

A western force of the Queen’s Own from Toronto and the 13th Regiment of Hamilton had been dispatched by the Welland Railway to Port Colbome to join the Welland Battery. Having arrived there in the evening of 1st June this was at first under the command of Col. Dennis and subsequently of Col. Booker.

Col. Peacock had moved at once from St. Catharines and by the Erie and Niagara R.R. arrived at Chippewa on the same evening of June 1st and was there joined by reinforcements early in the morning of June 2nd thus completing the eastern force.

The problem as arranged by Col. Peacock was to effect a co-operation between these two forces under his immediate command and by moving on the inner lines of the area of operations protect the canal during these movements and then by a united sweeping advance drive back the Fenians to the frontier if they should be advancing inland.

To take charge of their rear he ordered that a steamer and detachment should be sent from Port Colborne to the Niagara River there to patrol the river at Fort Erie to prevent any further reinforcements coming over, and those of them on the Canadian side from recrossing to the American side.

This was communicated by wire to Port Colborne, and to secure and emphasize his plan he sent Capt. Akers of the Royal Engineers from Chippewa to Port Colborne to assist and guide the volunteers who were without any officer of the regular army.

The geographical position was somewhat of a triangle with the Welland Canal and Welland Railway as its base and Fort Erie its apex. The sides being, southerly side Port Colborne to Fort Erie, 19 miles; northerly side, Chippewa to Fort Erie, 15 miles; Stevensville mid-way between the two starting points and 10 miles inland from Fort Erie was selected to be the point of junction. Col. Dennis’ force was to proceed either north by the Welland Railway to a point opposite to Stevensville, there to detrain and march direct east to Stevensville, or to proceed east some miles by the Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway and then march north to Stevensville. The routes and the time of leaving Port Colborne to be settled by Capt. Akers after consultation after his arrival at Port Colborne. Col. Peacock and the eastern force were to leave Chippewa at 6 a.m. and march southerly by road to the point of junction. Both forces were to time their movements so as to meet at Stevensville between 10 and 11 a.m. on the morning of June 2nd.

As the routes of both columns would thus cover the Welland Canal and be kept between it and the Fenians who might be advancing from Fort Erie, the plan was considered by all the critics to have been entirely judicious and that it would have been effective, if it had been properly carried out.

Col. Dennis at Port Colborne, learning the Fenians were on the shore of the river at Newbiggings, devised a new plan of his own by which the western force was to advance alone, direct to Fort Erie while he with the men of the Welland Battery were to sail in the “ Robb ” by lake to Fort Erie and there to co-operate on the rear of the Fenians.

Capt. Akers arrived at Port Colborne at 1.30 a.m. (June 2nd). The proposed change was then wired to Col. Peacock at Chippewa and without waiting for a reply Capt. Akers sailed with Col. Dennis in the “ Robb ” at 4 a.m. thus abandoning the volunteer force which he had been sent to accompany and direct. Before sailing Capt. Akers instructed Col. Booker that if he did not hear from Col. Peacock approving of the change, he was at 5 a.m. to leave Port Colborne by Buffalo and Lake Huron train to Ridgeway Station, and from there march inland to Stevensville.

Col. Peacock did not approve of this change, and at 4.15 a.m. finding, in order to give the volunteers a meal, he would be delayed an hour in leaving, wired Col. Booker to delay his start to a similar extent. Before this message reached Port Colborne, Col. Booker with his forces had started, and it being sent after them on a hand car was only delivered to him at 7.30 at the beginning of the action with the Fenians. Capt. Akers afterwards admitted that he had told Col. Booker to leave an hour earlier than was necessary, as he did not think that the volunteers would start on time! Had he remained at Port Colborne he would have known that the men were put into cars over night and so were ready to leave, as they did at the exact train time. In addition to this earlier departure the train went four miles nearer to Fort Erie than was intended, and so the Booker force was at Ridgeway station only three miles from Stevensville, and four hours before Col. Peacock expected to be there.

Had it not been for these misdirections of Capt. Akers the two forces would have joined and together met the Fenians but through them it was that the Fenians were enabled to meet one force alone, and sooner than was expected. Perhaps also, had a trained officer been present the volunteers would not have so valiantly but inconsiderately thrown themselves at once upon the opposing foe, but would have taken up a position for defence until their supports had come up.

The Fenians, instead of remaining on the shore of the river had during the night marched inland for the canal. Col. Dennis and Capt. Akers arrived at Fort Erie in the “Robb” at S a.m. (June 2nd), and found the main body of the Fenians had left. Instead of patrolling the river, he landed his men and made some prisoners of some stragglers whom they put in the hold of the steamer. About 3 p.m., while on land, they were attacked by the main body of the Fenians returning from Ridgeway with disastrous effect, notwithstanding the gallant efforts of the Dunville company and the Welland Battery, three of whom were killed and five wounded, among whom were Capt. King and Lieut. Schofield, the little force of only 54 having been far outnumbered. We saw the house to which a number of them had retreated, which was fairly riddled before they surrendered.

Col. Dennis concealed himself and fled in disguise, Capt. Akers escaped in a buggy by the shore road along Lake Erie to Port Colborne, and the “Robb,” without officers or soldiers after receiving a running fire from the Fenians, went off to Port Colborne to deliver her prisoners to the jail. The river being left thus unguarded, the tugs brought the barges back to the Canadian side and at 2 a.m. June 3rd, the main body of the Feinans went on board and left our shores.

To this change of the plan made without authority, and the folly of these two officers, were considered to be due the mis-connections of the day and the final escape of the Fenians.

The career of Col. Stoughton Dennis with the Canadian Militia from that time ceased, and Capt. Akers was suspended by Col. Lowry upon his arrival next evening at Fort Erie.

The course of Col. Peacock in stopping at Chippewa until all his forces had had a meal before starting on their march for the expected action was considered to be absolutely correct. It was further justified by the subsequent event that the western force having been without meals (for biscuits and red herring served out in the cars cannot be considered a meal), were after their action, obliged to return to Port Colborne for supplies.

The long delay (6 hours) at New Germany of Col. Peacock’s column was considered to have been most unfortunate. It was admitted that it was absolutely nceessary to find out, before moving, whether the Fenians were still advancing towards the canal. Here the absence of cavalry with the force was again felt. Had there been any, the fact that the Fenians were retiring towards Fort Erie could have been ascertained much earlier than was done by local scouts. The advance could have been made more promptly, and the force instead of bivouacking over night outside the woods could have been brought into contact with the Fenians at Fort Erie that same afternoon and before the tugs came over for them. Col. Peacock supposed, however, that this would have been prevented by the “ Robb ” patrolling the river.

The Inadequate Equipment of the Volunteer Militia.

Another subject which received much comment was the inadequate equipment of the volunteers for active service in the field.

In physique, drill and ardour they were all that could be desired, the months of preliminary training having brought good results, and in equipment for parade drill at headquarters they were excellently supplied, but were entirely without proper provision for service in the open.

The 13th had overcoats but no straps with which to carry them, no knapsacks, haversacks or water bottles. The Queen’s Own had straps, some companies had a few haversacks but nothing else, and their ammunition was not served out until they arrived at Port Colborne. There was also, only one horse between these two regiments for all their officers of mounted rank. The 10th and 19th had overcoats and haversacks and nothing more.

There was no commissariat, few cooking utensils, no supply of provisions except what the men themselves had provided, no camp tools and no tents. The wonder is that, unfed and unequipped, all did so well but had it not been for the assistance of the regulars and the generous supplies sent forward by the citizens of their respective cities the volunteers would have fared ill while the militia authorities were coming to their senses.

An acute lesson was learned and all this has since been remedied, so that when sudden calls for active service came again in 1885 for the North West and in 1890 for South Africa, both men and full equipments were immediately ready. Improvements have still continued, until in the gathering of the militia from all parts of Canada at the Tercentenary celebration at Quebec in 1908 the Canadian Army for the first time in its history, took the field completely equipped in every particular; cavalry, artillery, foot, army service, hospital and commissariat, a perfect organization which received the commendation of Lord Roberts.

Had there been such conditions in 1806 much trial of makeshifts and endurance would have been saved to those who then answered their country’s call.

The Delayed Neutrality of the United States.

In closing these personal reminiscences of the Fenian invasion of 1866 and in view of the fact that diplomatic thanks were then promptly transmitted to the United States by the Governor-General and the British Government, it may be well to add some records upon the neutrality of the United States Government and its people, gleaned from recollection and a somewhat extensive reading of the documents and papers of that period.

Andrew Johnstone, the Vice-President had, upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in April, 1865, succeeded to the presidency. A position of political unrest followed. The new president from Tennessee, a man of doubtful view’s and character, had been chosen for the election contest, not for his personal abilities but as a sort of running mate to attach support from the war democrats and the south to Lincoln, the potent presidential candidate of the north.

The evil of the separation of the Executive powrer from the Legislative w’hich is so embarrassing in the constitution of the United States, and so contrary to the responsible system of our modern British Constitution, at once became evident.

The new President and his Congress, w’hich was dominantly Republican, came into immediate and constant conflict, so much so that finally the President was placed under impeachment. Under such circumstances the broader dealings of the nation with other nationalities were submerged under the; exigencies of party politics and local partizan-ship.

The rival armies of the Civil War had been disbanded, a million of men set free from military service. The Fenian agitators, unchecked by either political party and perhaps encouraged by animosities aroused by the recollections of the destruction done by the “Alabama,” blatantly conducted their agitation and open preparations for the invasion of Canada in the early spring of 1S66 had been publicly announced and conducted. Yet neither President nor Congress interfered.

From the 10th May, 1866, the Marine Insurance Companies, foreseeing trouble, refused to insure cargoes through the \\ elland Canal, all American vessels were -withdrawn from it, and the Northern Transit Co., an American line of steamers operating through the upper lakes to Oswego on Lake Ontario, stopped their trips.

In later May, depots of arms were made at various places along the American northern frontier, among others at Erie and Buffalo. The instructions were that the agents were to store the arms and advertise auction sales of arms and military equipments and so explain their possession. The agent at Erie failed to insert his advertisement so for want of this his stores were seized by the local authorities.

The Fenian agent at Buffalo was more judicious and it was advertized that an auction sale of muskets, rifles and military equipments would take place by P. O’Day at his store in Pearl St., on Friday morning, June 1st.

The enterprising newspaper reporters, moved by the current rumours, investigated the premises and some of the samples and the many rows of boxes piled up in the store, but were informed that the goods would not be opened for exhibition until the morning of the sale. All these in the public prints prior to, and on 29th May.

On Tuesday the 29th, a railway concentration to the frontier was begun from Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Columbus towards Buffalo, and from New Haven and Boston towards the eastern frontier.

As the small parties came into Buffalo they disappeared among the residents, for the larger parties, coming by special trains containing three hundred and fifty men or more, the trains on arriving at Buffalo were stopped outside the city near the Union Iron Works, and the men were quickly dispersed to the houses of the friends of the brotherhood.

The men were clad in every imaginable way, some in Confederate gray; but most wore the black felt U.S. Army felt hat. It was evident that they -were largely discharged soldiers from the northern and southern armies.

On the evening of 30th May, General Sweeney, chief of the Fenian Brotherhood announced in Buffalo that something would be done at once to rescue the order from disgrace.

Notwithstanding these open evidences of an intended movement on Canada the United States authorities took no steps to prevent it.

Early on 1st June the sale at O’Day’s began and amid much amusement the arms were sold singly, and by the case at SI.00 each. The auctioneer being asked what had become of the large piles of cases which had been seen two days previously, laughingly said that he was afraid the rascally Fenians had taken them away. It had been publicly known that there would be an “ Excursion on the River,” from Black Rock early that morning. Nine waggons with cases were seen going down the streets toward the landing place, a tug and two scows were provided and the excursionists getting on board were taken across the river to Fort Erie.

They were the advance party for the invasion of Canada.

During all this period the garrison of the United States Federal Army at Fort Parker at Buffalo was maintained at only 50 men and no orders were given for their interference with the Fenian movements. The United States revenue cutter “Michigan” was also in the port. That this steamer did not get out early enough in the morning of the 1st to prevent the Fenians crossing, was next day accounted for by the commander saying that his engineer was on shore and so the delay occurred, but it is also to be noted that again on the morning of the 3rd she did not arrive at the river in time to prevent the tug and barges going across again to Fort Erie to bring the Fenians back, nor until after they had returned to American waters.

The peculiar relations existing between the central government of the United States and the militia of a State was also evidenced.

General Grant in command of the Federal Army issued orders on June 2nd appointing General Barry to the command at Buffalo with a reinforcement of 200 men and also requested that “The State Authorities” should call out the Militia on the frontier to prevent hostile expeditions leaving the United States.

These orders for “prevention” were not given until after the Fenians had been driven back out of Canada.

The barges with about 500 Fenians on board had been brought to anchor close to the American shore under the charge of the “Michigan.” At an interview held on board the cutter on the 3rd between Col. Lowrj^ and General Barry as “no demand for the return of the Fenians was made,” so little guard was kept over them that during that night they slipped over the sides, took boat to the shore and next morning there were only 200 left. These were released on their own recognizance to appear in court and on the 5th all were discharged on their own parole.

Kot until the Oth of June did President Johnstone issue his proclamation declaring the intervention and position of the United States.

Meantime parties of Fenian reinforcements kept coming into Buffalo and on the 7th June a body of 1,200 Fenians advanced at the eastern frontier from St. Albans and were repulsed by the Canadian forces at Pigeon Hill.

The numbers of Fenians in Buffalo still continued to increase, 900 being reported to have arrived on the Sth and it was estimated that there were then between 3,000 and 1,000 in the city. These became so troublesome and a menace to die citizens that the United States Government offered them returned railway tickets to their several destinations which they gradually accepted and so departed. Thus both the Executive, and the political parties had avoided making interference and of risking the hostility of any of their voters until after the Fenian attempt had been defeated.

This menace of the interference of party politics in the foreign relations of the United States with their neighbours will always be present under their form of constitution.

The President being elected by a public vote is the continuing representative of a political party and his actions as the head of the executive are moved by consideration of what will be desirable foi' the advantage of himself or of his party at the next election. When, as in this case, he is at personal issue with his Congress a still greater impediment to speedy and judicial action is further introduced.

The illusion of depending upon the active neutrality of an adjoining nation had been abundantly proved in 1837 when secret clubs known as “ Hunters Lodges ” had been organizing in many American villages on the shores of the St. Lawrence. In these moneys were raised for procuring arms and enlisting men for the expedition against Canada which followed. The readiness of the volunteer militia of Kingston dislodged them from Hickory Island when they had landed; but it was not until they had retreated to the United States that the State militia were called out at Cape Vincent and Clayton.

A similar condition existed in 1812 when the war was brought on by the political aspirations of Madison and the “war hawks” of Clay and the South, and again in 1866 when the invasion of Canada was made possible by a desire not to antagonize the solid vote of the Irish adherents

That the Americans as a nation would ever attack Canada is unbelievable; but political exigencies may hamper their intervention and sudden excitements of local bodies get beyond control.

Especially is this the case now that the Rush-Bagot Convention of 1817 for the peace of the lakes has been virtually annulled and strongly armed gun-boats are in active volunteer service in all the large border cities in the United States on the inland lakes. A “Flag incident” brought on by thoughtless partizans might suddenly blaze into recriminations and reprisals and set the two nations unwillingly by the ears. In State and in Federal politics a yellow press and an approaching election could readily cause delay in action, guided by self-seeking politicians.

The true peace of Canada is to be found not in trusting to intervention’ by any foreign government, but to readiness for honourable self-defence.

A fear of militarism is not a prelude to peace but to subservience and attack. In 1S37 and in 1866 if the troops, even in their then imperfection, had not been ready to be placed in a few hours upon the frontier, a foothold might have been obtained and hordes would have followed and greater loss of life have been occasioned. Peace was won by readmess. The patriotic maintenance of our volunteer militia in full numbers and equipments is not in antagonism to any one else, not to create a desire for war, but to prevent it, to improve our selfreliance and to keep our country and our homes in peace.


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