Narrative of the Fenian invasion of Canada


Some punctuation has been changed to be consistent.
— “St ” changed to “St.”
— “Lt-Col.” changed to “Lt.-Col.”; “Lt. Col.” changed to “Lt.-Col.”
— “Lieut-Col.” changed to “Lieut.-Col.”
— “Col ” changed to “Col.”
— “13th.” changed to “13th”; “22nd.” to “22nd” (Battalions)
— Period removed from dates (for example 1st. of June)

The description of time has been made consistent. Use of a comma (for example 4,30 p. m. or 4, a. m.) has been changed to use a period or a space (4.30 p. m. or 4 a. m.). Some upper case A. M. and P. M. have been changed to lower case.

The Chapter headings were misnumbered in the original book. There is no ‘Chapter V’ and no ‘Chapter VII’; no pages are missing.

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

Some other changes to the text are noted at the end of the book.

Map of the field of combat at Limestone Ridge
Published in the Narrative of
AT Hamilton, Canada West.








decorative line

Published for the Author, by JOSEPH LYGHT, Bookseller & Stationer.
Printed by A. LAWSON & Co., White’s Block, King Street.


[Pg iii]


decorative line

The term Fenian is derived from the Irish word Feine, the genitive case of Fian (plural Fiana), the designation of a band, or rather several bands of warriors, whose duty was to defend the coasts of Ireland from foreign invasion.

The Fians, Fiana, or Fenians flourished in the third century of our era, and employed their time alternately in war, the chase, and the cultivation of poetry. As their protecting power extended to part of Scotland, hence the traditions of them in that country, on which Macpherson’s celebrated poems of ‘Ossian’ are founded. Their chief was Fin or Fionn (the Fingal of Macpherson), and their most celebrated bards were Ossian, or Oisin, and Fergus (sons of Fin), and Daire, sometimes called Gunire.

James Stephens, who claims to be originator of Fenianism, was born at Kilkenny, Ireland, in 1827. He was probably familiar with the agrarian disturbances around Kilkenny in the years 1842-43. While it falls to me in the year 1866 to write this, “Narrative of the Fenian Invasion of Canada,” and to deprecate, deplore, denounce it, so it fell to me in the years 1843 and 1844, when vindicating the rights of industry against injustice to produce a work, “A Cry from Ireland” of which the late Daniel O’Connell spoke thus at a public meeting in Dublin, afterwards, nearly in the same words, in London:

“The impartial, vivid descriptions of the wrongs of Irish industry and sufferings of the tenantry at Bennet’s Bridge, by Alexander Somerville, are all the more emphatic that he is neither an Irishman, a catholic, nor a repealer. To him more than to any individual we owe the commission of Inquiry into the operation of the Laws of Landlord and Tenant. This work of Mr. Somerville which I hold in my hand (and from which he had cited passages) will be read by generations of Irishmen yet unborn.”

On February 14th, 1844, Sir Robert Peel, then Prime Minister, having announced that a commission of Inquiry was to be sent to Ireland, Lord John Russell, leader of the opposition, made a speech of which this is a passage: “Government have appointed a commission for farther inquiry into the subject. I doubt whether farther evidence be necessary seeing how much evidence we already have upon it, and see statements in the book by Alexander Somerville, ‘A Cry from Ireland’ of a heart rending kind; statements which I would not venture to refer to unless they were fully ascertained to be true; statements which show that with the powers of the law, and in name of the law, some landlords in Ireland, are exercising a fearful and a dreadful power.”

The Prime Minister said in the same debate: “The noble lord has referred to a book called A Cry from Ireland. Sir, I have read that work, and I think it is impossible for any man whatever to read it without being shocked with the manner in which landlords, as there described, have in many instances perverted their powers for harsh purposes.”

Extract from the evidence of Patrick Ring, one of seventy and odd tenant farmers on the Bennet’s Bridge estate near Kilkenny, for some of whom I obtained justice and re-instatement in the lands from which they had been evicted. Commission Blue Books, Reports to both Houses of Parliament, 1844; Vol. III. p. 363. [See also “Somerville’s Book of a Diligent Life in the Service of Public Safety in Britain,” published by John Lovell, St. Nicholas Street, Montreal].

Patrick Ring, examined before the Royal Commission at Kilkenny, Oct. 8,[iv] 1844: “There was a gentleman came over to Ireland of the name of Somerville. He had heard of my case and how I was persecuted. He hired a car and went out to Bennet’s Bridge, and got up to the place and saw my mother out in the ruins with an infant in her arms, after she had come out from the mother [his wife] striving to mind the mother and to mind the child. They [family of children] were in a famishing way; and he saw her and left her [a sum of money was named but misprinted]. He brought me into Kilkenny and he kept me at Flude’s Hotel taking down my case two days and a night. I told him I was going to Dublin and he gave me money and clothes, and then he took me to Dublin, and he got my case put in the Morning Chronicle in London, and he laid it also before Mr. O’Connell” &c.

Extract of a letter from Patrick Ring written from Bennet’s Bridge, Kilkenny, 4th Oct. 1844 to Alexander Somerville in London: “My Dear Sir. I take the liberty of writing to you as I know I am welcome, hoping to find you and your dear mistress, my best friend on earth, well, as this leaves me and my family at present. Them all is recovered from the fever, and you next to God was the means of it, you and your dear mistress.”

In the famine years I was again sent to Ireland by the proprietors of the Manchester Examiner, and on behalf of benevolent persons in England, to trace the courses of the pestilence. Some Irish newspapers and many clergymen catholic and protestant hailed my presence in the country warmly. On my sending to England reports of villages or districts which were especially distressed benevolent persons and societies forwarded money to catholic priests and others whom I named as persons to be entrusted with funds for the relief of the perishing people.

In 1848, I was, with an artist, the representative of the Illustrated London News, sent to Ireland to describe the progress of Smith O’Brien’s insurrection.

These matters are here referred to merely to indicate that, although a Scotchman, I am familiar with the social condition of Ireland; that although bred only to the plough with but small education in schools, almost none, for I was working in the fields at seven years of age to assist in obtaining, as one of a large and poor family a scanty subsistence, I yet had the power and the privilege, as a public writer employed in England, occasionally visiting Ireland, to give material assistance, and obtain redress for oppressed tenants in that district, which owns James Stephens as a native, and which has inspired him with Fenianism. My life has been a battle, and my battle has been the rights of man. Not to pull down, but to build up. My writings have been for a space of thirty or more years, directed to the development of a conservative science, teaching, not alone as Political Economy in its heartless divorcement from human sympathies, has taught, how to produce and accumulate insensate matter as public wealth, but how to diffuse as well as produce in completest abundance the stores of wealth among the producers; and how, among all the people of a nation, to dispense the elements of human happiness.

“Ireland for the Irish.” What would have been done with Richard Shea, the tyrant landlord of Bennet’s Bridge, who in 1841, ’42, ’43, had 247 lawsuits with his tenantry, who by his defiance of justice and of law, yet by the power of the law, had brought the district into a condition of agrarian convulsion? He was an Irishman of ancient lineage, boasted of being descended from the kings of Munster? What of him, and such as he, in expelling the Saxon and giving Ireland to the Irish.

But standing on this land of Canada in presence of a Fenian invasion, recently attempted, again threatened, and possibly to be repeated before these sheets are dry from the press, the mind which has with long fidelity pleaded for the rights of Irish industry, for justice to Irish tenant farmers, revolts against discussion[v] of such, questions now. The people of this Province, reclaiming the wilderness, creating property, building up a country, a social fabric, and desiring to enjoy what they are toiling to establish, what have they done that Irishmen, in the United States, in name of the wrongs of seven centuries, should invade them? Most of them were in their own persons, or in the persons of their fathers, poor, hard-working laborers in England, Scotland, Ireland, before coming to Canada to toil. My forefathers lost their land in Scotland by political revolution as many in Ireland have. Three fourths of all the Scotch in this Province came here for the same reason that the Irish came, because they were landless at home, and doomed to lives of toil at small wages, sometimes to the pressure of famine prices on food, while, in vain, they

Begged some brother of the earth
To give them leave to toil.

And English laborers came to Canada to do battle for fortune and subdue the wilderness, for the same reasons and with similar objects in view as the Irish and Scotch. So also the French of an older day, and the Germans and Dutch.

American Republicans. We are not ignorant of political freedom. As a people, we in Canada, warmly, earnestly sympathized with you in your great war of four years, waged to conserve your nationality, to vindicate legitimate government, and the laws against rebellion, (see chapter eight of this Narrative). We possess freedom in the widest amplitude; religious, political, civic, social, industrial. We venerate what is old in the British Constitution, which being at the same time youthful, vigorous and easily adapted to new circumstances, is favorable to stability, public morality, social safety, general happiness.

And the people here will stand by the political constitution and laws of Canada and by their allegiance to the British Empire, loving you not the less, trusting to live side by side with you in all the harmony of people inheriting and enjoying a kindred freedom; but resolved before Heaven and in the name of Almighty God to defend this freedom, and this country.

As I have presumed to comment on persons and occurrences in the following Narrative, it may be proper to say that in youth I had considerable experience in a field of war, and as a writer have often had occasion to advert to the subject of national defences. A military education of the manhood of Great Britain, was, to my pen a frequent theme.

Letter from Lord Stanley, M. P., late Secretary of State for the Colonies; afterwards Secretary of State for India, and now, 1866, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, dated London, May 12, 1863, to Alexander Somerville, Hamilton, Canada West, acknowledging receipt of “Somerville’s Diligent Life in the Service of Public Safety,” and “Canada a Battle Ground.” (About latter work see chapter eight of this Narrative). Extract: “Your life and writings have long been known to me. I remember on the occasion of some military debate, your name being appealed to. I think it was when the Militia Bill was in question, and the laudatory reference made to you by Lord Palmerston, was received with general applause by the House of Commons.”

The late Right Hon. Sidney Herbert, Secretary of State for War, House of Commons, 1860: “Somerville was a man of great ability. He wrote remarkably well, and in after life raised himself to a good social position.”

“If we did know the earnest nature of the man, some of the statements in this remarkable book might be set down as the figments of a diseased brain. But truth, unsullied truth, we know to be, as it ever has been the rule and guide of Alexander Somerville.” G. P. Ure, Montreal Family Herald, 1860.

“I know nothing in our literature which, for graphic narrative and picturesque description of men and things surpasses some of the Letters of the Whistler at[vi] the Plough, written by Alexander Somerville.” Richard Cobden, M. P., 1847. (On the question of national defences Mr. Cobden and I parted company never to meet again.)

For three years, 1835-38, the Foreign Enlistment Act was suspended in Britain to permit an auxiliary Legion to serve under the Queen of Spain. I do not cite this matter as approving of the policy, but to say that I, with 20,000 more, induced by the cry of constitutional liberty, and full of young life and enterprise, was there. About 5000 survived the hardships of campaigning in a wooded, mountainous country and the casualties of seven general engagements (allied with the Spanish army), and numerous smaller actions such as that at Limestone Ridge on 2nd of June 1866. We were before an active enemy always. In that time I learned something, and suffered some, as bullet wounds and premature disability bear witness now. But it does not follow that because a man has been in a fight or many fights, that therefore he is a sound military critic. Every man is not a hero who is wounded or killed, though a generous courtesy confers on the killed and wounded that high distinction. I do not profess to be an infallible authority. But in the matter of the Niagara frontier campaign, claim to have been careful in research, in collecting and collating evidence. And no inducement under heaven would lead me to write what I do not believe to be true. A literary experience of more than a quarter of a century has made me familiar with many subjects. I adduce a few extracts from military certificates, relating to service before the enemy. The first is from General Sir De Lacy Evans, G. C. B., thirty-four years M. P. for the City of Westminster. He commanded 2nd Division in the Crimea, 1854-55, and before serving in Spain, 1835-37, had seen more active and arduous service in India, Portugal, Spain, France, America than almost any living contemporary.

Bryanstone Square, London, Nov. 7th, 1847.

(Extract), “Mr. Somerville—Sir, I should be wanting in every feeling of justice were I to hesitate, under the circumstances referred to, in bearing my unqualified testimony to your brave, zealous, useful and exemplary conduct while serving in the Auxiliary Legion under my orders in Spain. The position you filled in that service, was no sinecure. The reports respecting your conduct and character were uniformly to your credit and honor.

(Signed)    “De Lacy Evans, Lieut.-General.”

No. 2. From Colonel Gilbert Hogg, K. S. F. (Knight of San Fernando) now, 1866, chief of constabulary county of Stafford, England. “I have much pleasure in stating that the conduct of color-sergeant Alexander Somerville, late of 8th Highlanders, British Auxiliary Legion, was such as to merit my most unqualified approbation. His name was forwarded by me with others to the General of Division as worthy the notice of His Excellency the Lieutenant General for gallantry before the enemy. I might stop here were it not that justice demands I should state more fully the character of this individual. I have a perfect recollection of a mutiny at St. Sebastian in the different Scotch corps [this related to the period of enlistment]. On that occasion as on others the conduct of sergeant Somerville was conspicuous and deserved the highest praise. He never neglected his duty, and ever evinced a desire to secure order and good conduct among the men where his influence was considerable. On the line of march he was enabled from his powerful bodily strength, to bear the fatigue with comparative ease; and at the halt his exertions were unceasing in promoting the comforts and providing for the wants of the men. His conduct naturally attracted my particular notice and I have satisfaction in now recording it. Gilbert Hogg, Colonel, late commanding 8th Highlanders, B. A. L. of Spain.

“Given under my hand and seal this 26th day of February 1841. Gilestown House, Strokestown, County Roscommon, Ireland.”


The more a soldier knows of service before an enemy, not alone the service of battle, siege, or skirmish; not so much these, as the life of rough campaigning, marching hurriedly, eating irregularly, often long without sustenance, sleeping in the open air on the ground, doing duty on outlying piquets, penetrating the enemy’s lines as scouts, escorting stores through perilous obstacles,—the more a soldier knows of these trials of strength and health, of mind and body, the more he realizes the cardinal truth, that not alone are firearms and ammunition guardians of his life. His overcoat and blanket; his water canteen; his haversack to carry food, kettles to cook food, are, by many possible chances of fortune his life preservers rather than his arms and ammunition. But the whole are to him a unity, inseparable. Without a part of the whole he dies. To see the Militia Volunteers of Canada after three or more years of organization, and after nearly twelve months of special training for active frontier service, going forth upon a campaign with almost none of the necessary equipments to preserve health, life, efficiency as they went on the 1st of June 1866, was to me, who had gone through such mind-killing, body-killing service as is indicated in the two military certificates, deplorable, astounding. I wrote in the public journals, fervently, strongly. But that fault, that condition of alarm, does not now remain. Though not in all respects equipped, the volunteers are in a condition for service creditable to the military executive officers.

This is how I came to be the writer of the present Narrative. On Sunday, 3rd of June, when the citizens of Hamilton arose in the same condition of feverish disquiet in which they subsided from the streets for a brief space after midnight—not to sleep, for few sleepers lay in Hamilton on the night of 2nd of June, an adjourned meeting from Saturday was held in the Court House. A committee of the principal ladies and gentlemen of the city was there to arrange for sending provisions, medicines, surgical appliances, medical gentlemen and nurses to the front. The character of the previous day’s occurrences was not known beyond the fact that there had been an engagement and that the enemy had retreated, yet that the volunteers who had beaten them in fight had also retreated, and were reported by Lt.-Col. Booker as “demoralized.”

The Committee requested the City clergymen present to offer prayers in their churches for the men at the front, and sent me as a fit person to go to the Niagara and Lake Erie frontier to ascertain and report fully without fear or favor what was the real condition of the 13th, and the state of the campaign. All agreed that any news, if true, no matter how calamitous, was better than the horrible suspense which convulsed and clouded the whole city.

I was to cross the country, some thirty miles with a team of fast horses and a guide, as no trains were supposed to be on the track, it being Sunday. But there was in preparation a special train which left at 1.30 p. m. I waited and went on it.

At Grimsby at 2.10 p. m. intelligence was given of Colonel Booker having passed on his way to Hamilton. I inferred that excessive zeal for the good of his battalion, nothing to the contrary in his conduct or character being known to me, had induced the journey to urge up provisions and field equipments. Yet the fact of his leaving his command before the enemy also suggested itself as inexplicable. I assert with all the emphasis which language admits, that I expected to have good reports to make of Colonel Booker’s eminent military services, until dismal specks discolored the floating rumours that were met about the Welland Railway. At Port Colborne, on the platform, up the street, along the canal wharf, everywhere that day and next day statements were pressed on me both by Hamilton and Toronto volunteers. I hesitated to believe; questioned, cross questioned, sifted, and still doubted, until many refused to reply[viii] farther, alleging that I seemed not to believe anything they said implicating Colonel Booker.

This gentleman’s name and conduct fills too much of the Narrative. But in the mismanagement of the action of June 2nd, in the subsequent aspersions thrown on the 13th battalion by Lt.-Col. Booker, and in the prominence through a concatenation of circumstances, given to the combat at Limestone Ridge, as the crisis of the short, prompt, decisive campaign, the reputation of the 13th battalion; the good name of Hamilton city which sent it forth to the fight; the reputation of the Queen’s Own, of Toronto city which gave them to the service; of the York and Caledonia Rifles; of the Province of Canada whose sons they were a sample of—all were injuriously affected through Lt.-Col. Booker, unless the facts would bear proof that his misconduct was only personal. I have proved that, beyond farther cavil, the volunteers engaged at Limestone Ridge were brave alike, and alike deserving of a historical good name in the present day, and in time to come. To establish this on incontestable grounds I have made many journeys, questioned many persons, balanced conflicting statements, and incurred an unprofitable delay in getting this work before the public; a delay without financial recompense to me as an author, but favorable to the main object which I had in view, a vindication of the Militia Volunteers of Canada.

Animadversions are freely made in the Narrative on the reprehensible inadequacy of equipments with which the volunteers went upon service in June. While the body of this work was in the press the incompleteness continued, so also the remarks of censure; but the Militia authorities have now, (end of August, first and second weeks of September) proved that, while they have had difficulties almost insuperable to overcome, the obstacles are in greater part surmounted.

Almost insuperable? What were the obstacles? A factious opposition waged against the organization of an efficient defensive force of Militia, carried on under the delusive cry of economy, from the year 1862, when the Militia organization by Colonel Lysons, Her Majesty’s military representative, was frustrated until the present season of Fenian Invasion, 1866.

Intelligence which lately arrived from Britain informs Canada that the new conservative government, under the Earl of Derby, comprehends and will act on the knowledge of a just conservative philosophy, which Canadian political men calling themselves conservative would have done well to have anticipated during the four years of American war and since. For they have by themselves and their newspaper organs, during the four years of horrible civil war, cultivated international asperities, which are now ripened to a bitter American hatred of Canada, under which, and only under which, Fenian invasions of British America became possible.

On 23rd of July, 1866, Lord Stanley, (son of the Earl of Derby), the new Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, being questioned by Mr. White, a non-official member of the House of Commons, on the Fenian Invasion of Canada in June, and reminded of the just, honorable, effectual interference of the United States government to prevent a more formidable Fenian incursion than that which happened, replied thus:

“I agree in the opinion which the honorable member has expressed as to the friendly and honorable feeling that has been shown by the United States with regard to this Fenian affair. I am very anxious, if possible, and I can speak for my colleagues as well as myself, to do anything that is reasonably possible to remove any ill-feeling of irritation or soreness which may remain in consequence of circumstances connected with the late war.” Her majesty’s speech at the prorogation of parliament; and subsequently the Prime Minister’s speech at a London banquet, expressed similar sentiments.

[Pg 9]


decorative line


Outlines of Strategy as arranged by General Sweeny, Fenian Commander in Chief.—Personality of Colonel O’Neil.

The plan of the invasion of Canada at the end of May, 1866, was given by the Fenian military commander, General Sweeny, to his followers somewhat thus:

The advance to be made simultaneously from points along the American frontier from St. Albans in Vermont, to Chicago in Illinois, on a sinuous frontage line of fifteen hundred miles. The right wing was at St. Albans and to the eastward. The centre at Malone, State of New York, situated at about fifteen miles inland from the St. Lawrence river, and having railway facilities to concentrate men and supplies from the wide interior of the States, and to distribute them to selected positions on the frontier opposite Canada. Malone was considered available for a landing at Cornwall, the lower outlet of the Upper Canada section of the St. Lawrence canals. Also for an attack on Prescott from Ogdensburg. The occupation of Prescott was to include the severing of the Grand Trunk railway, and to give possession of the branch line to Ottawa city, seat of the Canadian Government. Malone was available also for an expedition to Montreal by way of the Richelieu river. That expedition was also to co-operate with Spears’ force crossing the Missisquoi frontier line, both marching with artillery within easy supporting distance of each other.

Murphy and Heffernan were to cut the Lachine and Beauharnois canals; while Spears destroyed the Grand Trunk at several points, including Longueil, opposite Montreal, St. Hilaire, and St. Hyacinthe.

Kingston was to be threatened from Cape Vincent and Ogdensburg, both within easy supporting distance from Malone, by a body of two or three thousand men, who were merely to keep moving, advancing and retiring[10] in the vicinity of the St. Lawrence, where it issues from Lake Ontario, and so occupy the Kingston garrison of British regulars.

O’Neil with 5,000 men was to cross from Buffalo, by the narrows of Lake Erie, or upper section of the Niagara river, or if transportation availed, to go to Port Colborne, the Lake Erie terminus of the Welland canal. In any case to reach that place, occupying the canal and Welland railway; Buffalo and Lake Huron railway; and reach the chief depot of the Great Western at Hamilton; occupy that city and co-operate with forces which would advance against Toronto, from the south by Lake Ontario and its shores, from the north and west by Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The Niagara peninsula and agricultural country around Hamilton were expected to furnish horses sufficient to transpose O’Neil’s 5,000 men on foot into cavalry. Many of these had been in cavalry service in the American war. O’Neil himself was from Nashville, Tennessee, his men were from Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio.

At Chicago, General Lynch, with Tevis, Adjutant-general of Sweeny’s staff, were meanwhile to organize and transport what men and supplies were ready in Illinois State, co-operate with another force concentrating at Milwaukee city, State of Wisconsin, both to be steamed across Lake Michigan, through the straits of Mackinaw, and Lake Huron, invading Canada at Goderich, the western terminus of the Buffalo and Lake Huron railroad, and at Collingwood, upper terminus of the Northern railroad, connecting by eighty miles, the Georgian Bay and Huron Lake, with Toronto city and Lake Ontario. This force was called, or was to have been, the left wing of the Fenian army of invasion.

The State of Michigan, supplemented by the States lying to westward and south was to furnish the right column of this grand left wing. This column, or rather division, had assigned to it Detroit and Port Huron as points of advance, from which to cross the Detroit river, occupy Windsor, Sandwich, Amherstburg, north shore of Lake Erie, and, at Windsor, the Great Western railway of Canada, leading toward Chatham and London. The other part of that Michigan division was to cross to Sarnia, where the river, a mile wide, issues from Huron lake; where the north-west branch of the Great Western, connecting with the main line at London, has its terminus; and where the Grand Trunk of Canada crosses the frontier, by steam ferry, to Michigan, and by running fifty miles southerly reaches Detroit city.


All that western army, forming the grand left wing was to have been supported by artillery.

Next there was to be the Cleveland column, 7,000 strong, occupying an intermediate place between O’Neil’s column of 5,000 at Buffalo, and the right of the western wing at Detroit. This, it seems, was to have been an independent army corps to support the first invaders and permanently occupy central positions in Upper Canada.

“All the invaders from the west, having crossed the line, were to concentrate at Hamilton, London, Toronto and Kingston, where plenty of supplies and large depots of arms for the use of the British troops, could have been seized without any hard fighting, from the smallness of the forces occupying these places. Thus Canada would have been invaded from every available point.”—Correspondent New York World.

“The Fenian forces advancing from the different western lake cities, on Canada West, must necessarily as a measure of safety, have drawn all the best troops from Montreal, to cover the exposed points, such as London, Hamilton, Toronto, and Kingston. This movement of Sweeny’s would certainly have left Montreal uncovered to the attacks of Spears and Murphy, who were to co-operate in two different columns, marching on left and right of the Richelieu river on Montreal.” The same.

“The total number of men directly engaged in this Fenian movement to the front has been variously estimated, according to the feelings or prejudices of those making calculations. Enthusiastic Fenians assert that 50,000 to 75,000 men designed for operations against Canada were furnished transportation by agents of the Fenian directory at New York, and other large cities and by the circles of the Fenian Brotherhood throughout the United States, during the progress of the movement northward.” The same.

“On the other hand, Canadians whom I have conversed with, some of them holding high positions in the colonial government, have assured me that there were not more than 15,000 or 20,000 Fenians congregated at any one time along the frontier with hostile intent or purpose. However, from my observation and information, having a most favorable opportunity and facility for both, I can safely say that over 30,000 men have been forwarded by Fenian authorities from all points toward the frontier, and had the United States government shut its eyes to the hostile purpose of the movement, there can be no reasonable doubt whatever, but that at least fifty or sixty thousand hardy and earnest men, four-sixths of whom had been inured[12] to war in the contending armies of the North and South during the late war, would have precipitated themselves on the Canadian people.” The same.

The foregoing extracts and statements of Fenian plans are here placed on permanent record for reference, but without admission or denial of their accuracy.

On 29th of May intelligence from Nashville, Louisville, and Cincinnati, in the States of Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio respectively, reached Canada intimating that Fenians were in motion, and that an extensive raid on Canada was contemplated. From Ohio large shipments of arms had been ordered northward to Cleveland, on the south shore of Lake Erie.

Large bodies of men arrived on the same day by railway and on being questioned as to their destination said, “to California, to the railroad.” Most of them moved eastward on foot and entered the cars outside the city, on the railway to Buffalo.

May 30. A telegram from Buffalo brought intelligence to Canada in these terms: “The Fenians from Cleveland arrived here this morning. Several fights occurred on the train, and out of three hundred and forty-two that started, quite a number were left by the way, badly hurt. One at Ashtobula will die. They left the train a mile outside Buffalo, separated, and are now scattered through the worst places in the city, and are very disorderly. Two are in gaol for shooting at a policeman who attempted to arrest them for misconduct. There is no possibility of any organized movement to-night, the entire police force is on duty. Some think the movement a blind to cover an attempt elsewhere.”

Later. About two hundred more Fenians reached the city at 10 o’clock, and left the train as the others did—some distance out of the city. They have just marched into town. A meeting is now being held in Townsend Hall, the Fenian head-quarters. The men are boarded at various Irish boarding houses. There is only a force of fifty regulars at Fort Porter here. Warning has been given, however, to the commander of the revenue steamer Michigan.”

It was reported that the Michigan had been about to leave Buffalo several days before on a cruise, but on rumours of an intended Fenian gathering at Buffalo reaching the United States authorities the commander had orders to remain. It was the presence of this vessel which now prevented the Fenians going at once to Port Colborne, terminus of the Welland canal twenty miles from Buffalo; at least this has been stated.


During that day, Wednesday May 30, several rumours, not at any time probable gained currency; of which one was that trains had been arrested on the Great Western Railway, at Niagara Suspension Bridge. By whom, or for what purpose, did not in reasonable form appear. But with an aptitude to accept any reports of offensive operations having been commenced against the Province, the public mind of Canada, was equally ready to accept assurances given through the newspapers that the Executive power of Canada, civil and military, was actively alert and equal to meet the impending emergency.

A telegram from Philadelphia dated May 31, gave information that a company of three hundred and fifty men had left that city to join the Fenian invaders at the northern frontier.

A telegram from Ottawa, seat of Canadian government dated May 31st, conveyed intelligence that all was tranquil there. In Toronto, Hamilton, London, Kingston, Montreal, and Quebec, where regular troops were stationed and at Sarnia, Windsor, and Sandwich which were guarded by Volunteers, the forces were quietly ordered to be on the alert.

Colonel John O’Neil, of Nashville Tennessee, who was now at Buffalo and was on 31st of May, about to invade Canada, has been thus described in New York journals. “He is a young and ardent Fenian, and is now in his twenty-fifth year. He was formerly connected with the Sixteenth regiment of regulars, and served in that organization under Gen. Sweeny. He was well known as a dashing cavalry officer in the late war, when he was attached to a Western regiment. He was promoted to a captaincy for gallantry in a severe engagement.”

A newspaper writer who conversed with O’Neil at Buffalo reported as follows:

“He is not a graduate of West Point, as has been stated, but enlisted as a private in the 2nd U. S. dragoons in 1857, and went to Utah. He was subsequently transferred to the 1st dragoons, went to California and served until the breaking out of the rebellion. He entered the Union ranks and served in the Army of the Potomac until McClellan was driven back. After the seven days’ fight the regiment to which he belonged was broken up. The officers went to Indianapolis on recruiting service, and he was commissioned in the 5th Indiana cavalry. He served in Kentucky until after Morgan’s raid, and had a severe fight with that famous guerilla at Buffington Island, and though the force with which O’Neil opposed the[14] rebel was greatly inferior in numbers, compelled him to retreat.

“Colonel O’Neil continued in the service until severe wounds forced him to leave it. He further says that the report of his having been in the rebel service is wholly untrue. That he was a Union man from the first—that he never fought against the Union, and that he never could be induced to do so.

“In reply to a question as to what truth there was in the report that he had killed a man unfairly in a duel, he stated that he had never fought a duel in his life; that he condemned ‘the code’ as against his religion, was opposed to it in toto, and would never fight a duel under any circumstances.

“We give these statements as given us by Colonel O’Neil himself, and while expressing no doubt of their truth, are not, of course prepared to vouch for their authenticity.”

By different persons who saw him at Fort Erie and Lime Ridge, he is described as about five feet seven or eight inches high, of slim, active figure, with light colored hair, blue or grey eyes, ruddy face somewhat freckled; speaking with a soft voice and courteous manner.

decorative line


From 3.30 a. m. 1st of June 1866 to 11 a. m. Canada invaded. Lower Ferry. Engineer of International Bridge. He is asked for “chunk” and “sugar.” Mrs. Kempson parleys. Dr. Kempson made prisoner. Village Council ordered to find breakfast for one thousand Fenians. Axes and spades in request. Telegraph posts cut down. Boat escaping on the river. The Hotels. Bar-rooms. Landlords serving liquors with revolvers at their heads. Carrying sacks of flour with bayonets in their rear. Baking, cooking for one thousand Fenians. They eat, drink, sleep. Are aroused for the line of march.

During the night of 31st May, the Fenian bands left Buffalo city, travelling by different outlets; but meeting on Niagara Street and Black Rock Road, they halted at Black Rock Ferry about five miles below, and north of Buffalo city; there they embarked in scows, which, with a steam tug, lay in readiness to receive and tow them over to the Canada[15] shore, distance about one thousand yards. They landed at the wharf called Lower Ferry, and marched westward towards the village of Waterloo. This is a place containing about seven hundred and fifty inhabitants. By persons living at a distance it is called Fort Erie from an old fort of historical name situated two miles south-west on the shore of Lake Erie, and nearly opposite to Buffalo city, where the outflowing volume of Niagara is three miles wide. But to the inhabitants of the surrounding country the village is only known by name of “The Ferry.” The river at this point has contracted to a width of eight hundred yards, and the traffic across is conveyed by a steamer which plies every half hour. On the American side there is first an embankment separating Buffalo mill race from the main river. On this embankment are several flour mills, lofty and wide, the most southerly of the group now marked with Fenian bullets which, on the afternoon of June 2nd, were directed against the steam tug Robb, a vessel from Dunnville, which gallantly stemmed the current with about sixty Fenian prisoners on board, below decks, on passage to Port Colborne, twenty miles westward. The mill race is spanned by a swing bridge, after which is the Erie and New York canal, which extends along the foot of the Buffalo and Black Rock heights, which there rise seventy or eighty feet. On the Canada shore is a corresponding range of heights, but more rounded and covered with verdure, and with a level margin between them and Niagara river, the level varying from three hundred to fifty yards wide. On this plain lies scattered on three quarters of a mile of river front the village of Waterloo. It has three small churches, a school house, which was, for a short while on June 2nd, a prison for Fenians, before these were taken on board the steamer Robb; and some hotels, stores, and a few goodly dwelling houses embowered in orchards, in maple and poplar groves, one of which, occupying a prominent position, became the prison of certain officers and men of the Welland Artillery, who, with a portion of the Dunnville Naval Brigade, had become captives to the Fenians, after placing Fenian prisoners on board their vessel. This, as will hereafter appear, was not the result of their own mistakes, but of a turn in the fortunes of war, which with many other adverse complexities characterized the different parts of the military drama of the 2nd of June.

A Buffalo journal related how the Fenians obtained transports, thus: “On Wednesday or Thursday previous to the raid, some persons waited on Capt. Kingman, of this city, and engaged two tugs and four canal boats to carry the employees of Pratt’s Iron Works, at the lower Black Rock, on[16] a pleasure trip to Falconwood. The price of the trip was arranged for, the money paid and the boats dropped down to their position on Thursday afternoon. The Fenians seized upon these transports to invade the ‘sacred soil’ of Canada. The boats, after use, were quietly returned to the American shore; the owners being nothing out of pocket thereby.”

On the night of invasion there was a brilliant moon three days past full. Sunrise was twenty-five minutes past four. The first gleams of daybreak appeared in the north-east as the invaders landed in Canada at Lower Ferry, township of Bertie, county of Welland. At this place there is a shingle factory, a boat-house, a tavern, the residence of a customs officer, and one or two frame dwellings. It is about two miles below and north of Waterloo village. The invaders took possession and left an armed guard on those houses. The main body then moved hurriedly up the Niagara shore road towards the village.

Near to a bend in the Canada shore, named Bertie Point, half a mile south of Lower Ferry is the residence of Mr. Molesworth engineer of the International railway bridge, which was to have been built this year, but is not yet begun, the delay being caused partly through financial difficulties, in Britain, and partly through Fenian disturbances on this frontier. The river between Bertie Point and Squaw Island on New York shore, where it will terminate in conjunction with the Atlantic and Great Western Railway is eighteen hundred feet wide, greatest depth forty-one feet. There will be a carriage and foot-way as well as railroad track, and it is expected when the bridge is completed, citizens of Buffalo will erect dwelling houses on the Canada side. The hotels and boarding houses of Waterloo were frequented by persons from Buffalo before the Fenian alarm.

A detachment of invaders broke off from the main body in passing Mr. Molesworth’s house, a brick villa with white columns supporting a verandah and standing among a thicket of trees, twenty or thirty yards from the road. They knocked loudly with the butt end of their rifles. Mr. Molesworth, his wife and family of young children were asleep. He looked upon the intruders from an upper window and asked what was wanted. They ordered him down to open the door, else they would break it in. He again asked who they were and what was wanted? The reply was that they were the Fenian army landed to liberate Canada; they wanted chunk; they wanted sugar. Mr. Molesworth not being acquainted with slang did not know that chunk and sugar meant money. He asked if they wanted bread. Their reply was “yes; bread, chunk, sugar.” He went[17] down stairs, collected all the bread and cheese the house contained, carried it up, and lowered it out of the window. Still they cried for chunk and sugar. Presently officers with drawn swords and revolvers in hand drove that portion of the mob away ordering them to fall into their places on the road. Mr. Molesworth felt relieved by their absence, but was much puzzled to think what such a crew could want with sugar. Either these returned or others came and once more there was the cry, “chunk! sugar!” “I have given all the bread, everything eatable in the house,” responded the engineer. “We want money,” rejoined one of the marauders. But fortunately for that defenceless household, Fenian officers again called away, or forced off these men.

As they approached Waterloo village, the shore road on which they marched, crossed the railway track of the Erie and Niagara line, a track not yet regularly working. A single telegraph wire was on the posts skirting this line; but on the river side road by which they had come, were the International telegraph wires. Near to Lower Ferry, these are bound around a post and carried under water from shore to shore. When the invaders had reached the Erie and Niagara track, they passed a church on their right hand, standing within its small cemetery among trees, on a descending section of the heights before mentioned which here approach the river. At fifty yards further south they passed the mouth of a ravine which separates the church bluff from one on which, within an orchard and a grove of tall poplars, stands prominently out the residence of Dr. Kempson, reeve of the village. That house was the first point to which the Fenian commander O’Neil conducted his force. He ascended a steep carriage way at a right angle from the river road and railway track, about two hundred yards, entered the enclosure, placed sentries around the house, stable and barn, and along the garden and orchard, his main body being halted outside the garden fence and in an enclosed pasture field adjoining. At a short distance north from this residence on the same bluff and within the same orchard, was another house which was also surrounded by Fenian pickets.

It was now daylight. The range of rounded green knolls, extending three quarters of a mile southerly and west from this section, on which the second skirmish of next day was fought, and on which Royal Artillery, Infantry regulars, and Volunteers were subsequently encamped, reflected back the first beams of the sun; that sun of the 1st of June, which brought the light of offended Heaven to bear witness against an army of strangers whose presence there was a crime against international law, against innocent[18] Canada, which had done them no offence, against civilization, against the liberty and safety of a free people, which America should be ever foremost to vindicate; against the declared authority of the bishops and priests of the Roman Catholic Church, to which nearly all the Fenian brotherhood professed to be attached. By the scheme of invasion of Sweeny and Roberts attacks had been designed for this or the preceding morning, at eight or more places along a frontier line of fifteen hundred miles. By confusion in the councils of the Fenian brotherhood, by want of confidence in one another, by failure of transport to men and munitions of war; by a sense of justice or of discreet policy newly manifested in the executive government of the United States, the hand of Omnipotence was on that occasion discernible on the side of right, and of comparative innocence, against crime and unqualified wrong.

O’Neil, the chief of the invaders, has been described. He wore gray clothes with some badge of green around a military cap. He ascended the steps to Dr. Kempson’s front door, rapped, and demanded that the Doctor should come out to speak with him. Mrs. Kempson descended to the door instead of her husband. She is an intelligent lady seemingly about twenty-five years of age, and mother of several young children, who were then in the house. Colonel O’Neil quickly announced himself, again demanded to see the lady’s husband, in his capacity of reeve of the village of Waterloo; and intimated that if he did not come at once force would be used. Mrs. Kempson inquired what they intended to do? “To do? what do you mean?” “To us—what are you going to do to us?” “We have come to hold possession of Canada; you are all, for the present, my prisoners.” “Do you intend to kill us?” “No; not if you be quiet and do as I require.” “What do you want with us?” “First of all, where are your axes and spades, I must have them instantly; and your husband must at once surrender himself to my orders!” The lady intimated that the tools asked for were in the barn or in the woodshed. Whereupon O’Neil ordered some men to find them, and proceed to the railway track and the road in front of the church, cut down the telegraph posts, sever the wires, lift the rails, and dig trenches across the track; all of which was speedily done. While Mrs. Kempson still guarded her doorway, O’Neil said, “Do you suppose my men will kill you?” She expressed fear that they would. “They will not hurt you” he replied; “but you must bring Dr. Kempson here at once.” The Doctor came. O’Neil ordered him out to the road in front of the garden wicket, placed an armed guard in front and in rear of[19] him, and said, “Dr. Kempson, you are chief magistrate of this village, I require you to assemble the principal inhabitants and, without delay, provide breakfast and other rations for one thousand men. You march along with me. A picket of officers and men will keep guard on your house; your wife will give them and also those in the field such provisions as she may now have.” About fifty men occupied the garden and searched the lower rooms and cellar. Mrs. Kempson gave the bread, meat, wine and brandy which the house contained, and with her servants baked more bread, fried ham, made tea and coffee in pailfuls, which were carried out to the field beyond the garden gate, where between one and two hundred men lay on the grass, besides the fifty who crowded into the house. They in the field were prevented by sentries from entering at the garden gate.

After the occupation of the reeve’s house, the next incident of sensation in the village was the discharge of Fenian shots at a small boat which had crept out from the Canada shore, containing two men, one of whom was pulling his oars frantically towards middle stream, the other lying down in the boat. The oarsman was Mr. Leslie the postmaster, his passenger, Mr. Kerby, a clothier; Fenian bullets whizzing past their ears, and loud shouts of “come back”, compelled their return. Like others they were taken prisoners, but liberated on parole.

As the reeve advanced up the street, half a mile south of his own house, Mr. Forsyth, a justice of peace and member of the corporation, Mr. Douglas another member of corporation, Mr. Graham, collector of customs and two or three more principal men emerged from cover, and answered O’Neil’s summons to surrender themselves prisoners. They also were paroled, and commanded to furnish breakfast for one thousand men on pain of having their houses forcibly entered and possibly burned. The words “one thousand men,” were frequently used by O’Neil on that morning. Next day, June 2nd, when he made his head-quarters in the house and on the farm of Henry F. Angur at Limestone Ridge, before the fight began, he spoke of his force being fourteen hundred. After much inquiry I have not been able to trace the retreat of the latter number of men across Niagara river, though it is ascertained that many escaped across from Saturday to Sunday June 2nd and 3rd, besides those intercepted by the U. S. steamer Michigan. By the excess of rifles and ammunition brought from Buffalo beyond what O’Neil’s force required, and which were destroyed previous to the Lime-ridge conflict, it is probable that Canadian[20] Fenians were expected to fall into the invading ranks. But whether they were to have partaken of the breakfast for “one thousand men,” or if that was the actual numerical strength brought from Buffalo, investigation has failed to determine.

Some of the inhabitants were too poor to contribute to the Fenian breakfast. The operations in the principal hotel, were of this kind: The three lower sitting rooms were filled by men, who awaited their turn to pass into the bar-room. Sentries with loaded revolvers stood in front of the bar; the landlord stood behind it filling his liquors as long as bottles and jars held out. When these were drained he was escorted to his cellar by other guards with revolvers loaded and capped and assisted by willing “helps” to carry his liquid stock to the floor above. When all was drained, his cellar and bar empty, he was thoroughly cursed for not having more liquor on hand; and, at point of bayonet, driven to make haste and “help get breakfast ready.” All the butcher’s meat and cured hams in the hotel were cut up and cooked; coffee was made in pails and tubs and carried to a rising ground west of the village, on which O’Neil and his officers had posted the main body of their force. All the bread was soon consumed, and the flour in the hotel had been made into more bread and that eaten up. The landlord having drained off his liquors and given his eatables to his voracious visitors thought to rest himself, as he could do no more. The click of revolvers seconded the command to go and purchase. His faint reminder that he had drawn no money wherewith to purchase additional supplies, was stopped by curses, by pointed bayonets, and the language of menace which informed him that he had credit at the stores. Thither he went under a dancing, rollicking escort, and was ordered not to look miserable, but to be happy, to laugh and join in the hilarious joy now that, “degraded Canada was liberated, and from that day was a free country!” He shouldered a sack of flour; and, pricked with bayonets, trotted under his burden, laughing as best he could; assuring the liberators of Canada, that he was happy to see them; happy to see that day; overcome with joy in fact; oh, yes! very happy! hoorah for the Irish Republic!

“You may as well not publish names,” said one of the villagers who with me listened to this recital; “when Colonel Peacocke and the army leaves here, some of those Buffalo men may come over and give us a licking.”

During the plunder of the bar-room and cellar, the landlady, a delicate young person, and servants, with Fenian “helps” were cooking, baking,[21] and boiling. Next day, during the absence of the Fenians at Limestone Ridge, this landlord, like most other residents on the Canada shore got the females of the family removed to the American side for safety.

Other contributories to Friday morning’s breakfast were treated and employed similarly to the hotel keeper, though not all. Wherever O’Neil was, his men were moderate, merciful, obedient.

When the invaders had filled themselves, and drank all the liquor in the village they still demanded more. One hundred and fifty or two hundred continued about that hotel, singing, and dancing, several hours. At last O’Neil and other officers with drawn swords came, supported by armed pickets and drove them away, using such reproaches as, “you blackguards! do you think we brought you to Canada to get drunk, and make sport? you came here to fight. The army of red-coats will soon be on you! are you in a state to meet the red-coats? For shame! soldiers of the Fenian brotherhood! shame!” And the officers drove out the plunderers before them.

A man named Canty, who had been suspected of Fenianism disclosed himself now. He girded on a sword and boldly informed his neighbours that he was a B, or Major, in the “army of liberation.” Canty was owner of a house and lot in the village, of which government agents soon took possession. He was said to have absconded from the States, two years before, with the money of his creditors, and purchased this property. He absconded from Canada quite as hurriedly after the fight at Limestone Ridge, on the reported advance of Colonel Peacocke’s force. His house was said to be a depository of entrenching tools. It was said that arms and ammunition had been concealed there, but after the man’s flight none were found. Some village names were freely and unfavourably mentioned to me by a person in authority, who was making an official report to the government at Ottawa through Colonel Peacocke; but, in conversation, I found that the Fenian invasion had less to do with the gentleman’s ideas than the discomfiture which he had suffered at a recent village election. That gentleman’s narrative of the movements of the steamer Robb, of the Welland Artillery, and of the manner of capturing Fenian prisoners, as also of the number of prisoners captured was at variance with facts otherwise ascertained and unquestionably certified. He might intend to do government a good service, but his memory seemed not reliable, nor his mind sufficiently free of a petty political distemper. The Ottawa[22] authorities should receive with caution any magisterial statement he may have forwarded reflecting on the loyalty of his neighbours.

A detachment of Fenians, some hundreds strong, but precisely how strong, I could not ascertain, proceeded to the Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway depot, a mile south-west of the village. A man named William Duggan, employed as a track-man on that line, was committed for trial to Welland prison, on June 21st, accused of having conducted the marauders to the depot offices and aided them with crowbars to open lock-fast doors.

decorative line


Dinner ordered for a “thousand,” and provisions run out. Fenian army asleep; what, when it should awake? Pickets, sentries and passes. Reverend Fenian, Lumsden from “Auld Reekie.” Dimensions of Welland Canal. Rideau Canal. St. Lawrence Canals. American vessels with-held from Welland Canal. They re-appear after two weeks. Horses captured. How bridles were made. New use of telegraph wires. Milking the cows at Frenchman’s Creek. O’Neil’s pass. Fenian sentry. Sergeant of the picket.

The village corporation of three at Waterloo, and the less timid of seven hundred and fifty inhabitants, breathed more freely at nine a. m. than they had done any minute since daybreak. The “breakfast for one thousand men” had been amply furnished, and heartily eaten. The armed multitude, fierce and hungry before, were now filled, and lay stretched in sleep on the green slopes, or under the trees, or kept watch by the river side, or as railway pickets. But noon was fast approaching. The thousand men would be hungry again. The corporation were ordered to prepare dinner. Where was it to come from? Then supper would be required, and lodgings for the ensuing night. The food of the village was already eaten up. It was a fearful prospect, the awakening of that multitude, now lying drowsily in the fields, in the orchards, in the woods, in the barns, on the door steps in the passages, on the sofas, or carpeted floors of private dwellings. But it was no part of O’Neil’s policy to remain inactive in that village, risking[23] an attack, without having accomplished something more than levying breakfast for his forces.

They were roused from sleep, collected and admonished that the time had arrived to march into the interior. O’Neil’s object was, first, to gain possession of the Welland canal and two railways at Port Colborne, situated seventeen miles west from where he then was, and besides, to strike at the aqueduct which feeds the canal, and the swing bridge which carries the Welland railway over it at Port Robinson. He left guards upon the Fort Erie terminus of the Grand Trunk auxiliary, the Buffalo and Lake Huron railway, a mile south of the village, besides cutting the telegraph wires on that line, as he had done on Erie and Niagara track, to prevent intelligence of his movements going west by way of Port Colborne. He also left pickets in the woods and at the junction of different roads, and at the ferries on the Niagara river. The inhabitants were only permitted to move from their houses to any given point by obtaining written passes from Fenian officers. One who wrote passes during that day signed his name L. F. Lumsden. On being recognized by a farmer as a Scotchman and asked where he came from in Scotland, Lumsden replied, “Auld Reekie,” a familiar term for Edinburgh; and added that he was an Episcopal clergyman, as his dress in some measure indicated. This person was one of the prisoners captured next day, taken by the steamer Robb to Port Colborne, then to Brantford jail, subsequently to Toronto. After being prisoner he dropped the name Lumsden, written on the passes which he was pleased to grant, and called himself Farfarden.

The importance of the Welland canal and the railway running near its side, in the scheme of Fenian strategy lay in this: that the canal connects the navigation of Erie and Ontario lakes. Erie is united by Detroit river, Lake St. Clair and River St. Clair, in the west, with Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior, besides several smaller aggregations of navigable water and tributary streams equal to one-half the fresh water on the globe. Ontario, after interchange of commerce with Erie by way of the Welland canal, which obviates the torrents and falls of Niagara, gives birth to the River St. Lawrence, the rapids on which, occurring occasionally over a space of ninety miles, are overcome by a series of magnificent works, known as St. Lawrence canals. Near to Montreal this river of the life of Canada receives a tributary hardly inferior to itself, the romantic floods of northern forests, brown-tinged Ottawa.

The Welland Canal is 30 miles long. It has 27 locks, surmounting a rise[24] of 350 feet; is 564 feet above sea level at Lake Erie, and about one thousand miles from the sea, by way of Montreal, Quebec and Gulf of St. Lawrence. The locks admit vessels 142 feet long by 26 feet beam and 10 feet draught. On the several sections of rapids between Prescott and Montreal the St. Lawrence Canals admit vessels 184 feet long, 44½ feet beam, and nine feet draught. But all craft passing from Montreal, the head of ocean navigation, nearly 600 miles from the sea, are limited to the size of the Welland locks.

The Rideau canal, to connect the eastern outflow of Lake Ontario, at Kingston, at the head of the St. Lawrence, with the River Ottawa, and the navigation from Montreal, at a point where stands the city of Ottawa, overcomes 293 feet of rise, and is 126½ miles long. The locks are 134 by 33 feet, and 60 inches deep, on the sill. This with some minor sections of canal on the River Ottawa, was intended to serve a strategical purpose in the defences of Canada. It was begun in 1826, and finished so far as for a steamer to pass through, in 1832. Its cost, $3,860,000, was defrayed by the Imperial Government. It is frequently out of repair, and is not now available for the main object of its construction. The St. Lawrence Canals and the Grand Trunk Railway running parallel with them, are available for defensive purposes, yet so openly exposed to hostile incursions, if such should ever threaten them, as to be elements of strategical weakness as well as lines of transport for conveyance of troops and munitions of war. But in the interests of peace they are works of unspeakable benefit to Canada, as also to the western United States.

For eight or ten days previous to the day of the Fenian invasion, June 1st, 1866, American vessels had nearly all disappeared from the Welland canal, the ship-owners, merchants, forwarders and insurers of Chicago and Milwaukee, the great commercial ports on Lake Michigan; and of Detroit. Cleveland and other places in the west, declined to charter vessels or risk freights on passage through the Welland canal. They knew that its capture and obstruction formed one of the earliest acts intended against Canada in the scheme of Fenian invasion. Except an occasional empty vessel, bound up, none bearing a United States flag passed through the Welland locks, until two weeks after O’Neil returned to the American side of the Niagara river. The steamers of the Northern Transportation Company, plying between Cleveland on Lake Erie, and Rochester, and Oswego on Lake Ontario, continued to run.

It was not without delay and difficulty that O’Neil and his officers collected[25] their forces, extended as these were from old Fort Erie on the lake shore, and from that north by the station of Buffalo and Lake Huron branch of the Grand Trunk Railway through Waterloo Village to the Lower Ferry where they had first landed at daybreak, in all five miles; and from farm-houses several miles inland, where already desultory bands had penetrated in search of horses and other plunder. The other plunder consisted of sheep, turkeys, fowls and such provisions as hams, crocks of butter, cheeses, sacks of flour and pigs. The live animals intended for food were shot, and slung over the backs of horses. Frequently two men, and occasionally three bestrode one horse. These animals having been in most instances captured in pasture fields, and such bridles and saddles as the owners possessed having been removed in their hurried flight to escape the perils of Fenian imprisonment, the marauding horsemen contrived a new kind of bridles from a material not before used for that purpose. They had cut telegraph poles to prevent transmission of intelligence, they now made bridles for the horses, and strung their plunder together with the wires. As they assembled at the camping grounds on Frenchman’s creek, three miles north of the village, half a mile north of Lower Ferry where they had first landed, the duplicate and triplicate riders went in with their plunder, the mouths of the horses bleeding; and some animals which, a few hours before had been proudly defiant, and too bold in spirit to submit tamely to such loads as oppressed them, were reduced to obedience by bayonet wounds which crippled one or both of the hind quarters. A trotting mare of beautiful form and high reputation, was ridden into the field of bivouac at the creek, hobbling painfully on three legs, two Fenians shouting and cursing in wild hilarity seated on her back, one with his feet to the left, the other with his feet to the right side, bundles of fowls, turkeys and other plunder on their shoulders, and a wild warrior on foot, who, a few minutes before had been a third rider, but had fallen off, inflicting bayonet wounds on the bleeding flanks of the groaning beast, one of whose hind quarters was pierced by a bayonet through and through. Farmers who had been compelled to surrender their horses and who were then prisoners stood witnesses to these scenes of spoliation and of cruelty.

But I feel bound to suggest that such cases must have been exceptional. If these western Fenians were experienced cavalry men, as said to have been, they would know the worth of horses too well to abuse them. It had been part of the tactics of O’Neil to mount his entire force on horses, provided he had met, in Canada, the friendly contingents which he expected but did[26] not meet. Yet still there was wanton spoliation. Farmers saw their sheep shot in the yards, and out on the pastures. The family of Mr. Thomas Newbigging, whose house stands on the south side of Frenchman’s creek, and about forty yards from Niagara shore, and on whose hay field and orchard, on the north bank of the creek, O’Neil and his main force planted themselves about eleven o’clock a. m. 1st of June, saw their cows driven into the yard from a distant pasture, and two or three Fenian warriors around each cow struggling to have the first privilege of milking. The restive cows were subdued as the horses were, by hobbling them with telegraph wires. When the beasts had been teased and milked all the afternoon and evening, with nothing to eat for the night, and men were heard talking of killing one or more to roast on some of the many fires which they had made of fence rails in the orchard field, one of the sons of Mr. Newbigging asked Colonel O’Neil to give him permission and a pass to the lines of sentries to drive the cows to the pasture field. The answer was, “certainly, tell every man who questions, that it is Colonel O’Neil’s order that none of your cows shall be injured or molested.” The young man drove the beasts forth. At a gate four hundred yards in the rear of the house, a sentry demanded to know who he was, and where he was going with those cattle? The name of Colonel O’Neil was given, but the sentry responded by bringing his rifle and bayonet to the charge, and swearing that he would stick the bayonet through him for the cursed lie, that he was not taking the cattle to pasture but attempting to escape with them into the wood; and if he dared go one step farther his “mouth would be filled with a live bullet.” The sergeant of the picket came and inquired what was the matter. On being told he called other men to come and assist to make a gap in the fence and put the cows in the field. When this was done, he, assisting to replace the rails, and at the same time charging the men of the picket to see that the cows were not injured, turned to Mr. Newbigging and said, “This occupation of your premises and farm by us is, no doubt, very disagreeable, but we have stringent orders from Colonel O’Neil to injure no one who quietly submits, nor destroy property, nor to appropriate anything beyond what is required for subsistence.” That sergeant and his picket being left behind, when the Fenian main body marched at midnight of Friday June 1st, were made prisoners next day; but some escaped across the river early on the morning of Saturday.

decorative line



Midnight in Fort Erie village. Kerby and Rutherford’s store plundered by Buffalo thieves. O’Neil’s letter denouncing theft. Young ladies seek safety on the American side. Newbigging’s farm. Half a hundred horses collected. Stockdale’s farm plundered of provisions. Mr. Penny, and Mrs. McCarty, robbed of money. Fenian positions and defences at Frenchman’s creek. Fenian sentry shot by his picket. Rifle bullet screens, how made by Fenians. Bridge set on fire. O’Neil marches at midnight June 1st. Eighteen thousand cartridges afterwards found in the creek. Also rifles and bayonets. A night of sensations. “Worst looking blackguard of the whole was a Scotchman.” Bivouac at Krafft’s farm. March at daylight, June 2nd. Limestone rocks and house on Ridgeway road. Fenian head-quarters. O’Neil’s conversation with Henry Angur. Stoneman’s three little Boys, they ran to the woods.

It was about 11 a. m. on June 1st, that the Fenian main body were aroused from slumber, in Waterloo village, and marched to northward, three miles down Niagara shore road. Their absence relieved the anxieties of the village corporation as to getting another mess for one thousand men. But unhappily, a residue, not of military Fenians, but of Buffalo, and other American city thieves was left. They had followed the invaders to pursue their professional vocation.

One was a woman. She sought to win confidence, and thereby attain to friendly familiarity with native Canadians, by weeping for a husband, who “without intending it, had come from Buffalo with the Fenians, not knowing what he did, with a drop too much to drink;” that he and many more were about to desert and return to the American side.

Her assumed sorrow hardly deceived any one; and not at all, after a Fenian officer came upon her at a house and ordered her off to the other side on pain of being thrown into the river. He said; “We have been followed by thieves, who are no part of our force, and this woman is one of the worst: watch her.”

In the village, near the hour of midnight, the military body of the Fenians being then at Frenchman’s creek, three miles north, the landlord of the[28] Forsyth House, was, with his wife, at an open window inside of the verandah, anxiously observing parties of men who were seen, by the moonlight to come across Niagara river, land at unusual places of wharfage and go prowling about the village. Some he saw come to the store of Kerby and Rutherford clothiers and general dealers, next door to his house. It was shut, Mr. Rutherford only being within, and as he afterwards stated, asleep. The men outside broke open the door with billets of cordwood. Mr. Rutherford, when aroused by the noise confronted them. He was seized and thrown on his back across the counter, revolvers pointed to his head, and sternly admonished to remain quiet. Some cases of champagne had been left there for sale by a St. Catharines merchant. The plunderers quickly discovered that part of the stock, and drank freely. A young man who keeps a grocery store lower down the village was passing. He entered, calling, “Rutherford, what is the matter?” One of the thieves struck him with a champagne bottle across the face, cutting him frightfully, and exclaiming, “That’s what’s the matter!” The grocer ran out calling “help!” and “murder!” He was overtaken at the hotel door and again struck. He ran across the street and attempted to get into a house there. But no one dared open a door. He was followed by one who threw him down, and with threats of shooting him dead, ordered him to be quiet. The young man pleaded for life and said he would be quiet. Then he ran south along the railway track, and obtained entrance to a house at the south end of the village, where the bleeding gashes in his face were dressed. The robber returned to his comrades, who deliberately carried out bales of cloth, ready-made clothing and other goods, and loaded their boats with which they departed across the river. American customs officers were on watch and seized the goods. The plunderers returned to the Canada shore. Two of them were afterwards found among Fenian prisoners and identified. They are said to have been known as thieves in the city of Hamilton.

On the subject of plunder the following letter, published in a Buffalo daily paper, shows the terms in which Colonel O’Neil disclaimed and denounced theft and thieves. It was dated June 5th, 1866, on board the U. S. steamer Michigan:

“To the Editor,—You will please make known through the news columns of your paper, that I have in my possession a gold mourning ring, engraved with the following inscriptions: on the outside in black ground the words,[29] ‘in memory of,’ on the inside ‘Lucretia Wrigly, ob’t 6th Feb., 1829, Act 6,’ and under that, ‘Mary Wrigly, ob’t 6th Feb., 1830, Act 45,’ besides some other rather indistinct characters, that the claimant will have to describe. Also a lady’s gold pencil and mounted gold eye-glass, with chain attached made of fine beads. These articles were found on the person of one of the men in the scow; and I wish to say, to the credit of the men, that loud and earnest threats of lynching the fellow were made, such was the indignation at an act calculated to throw discredit on all, and so contrary to discipline and the wishes of our body. And I wish to say farther that were it not for our present circumstances and relations, such an act would, as it ever will be by me and my associate officers, have been punished with all the rigor of army discipline. You will oblige us all by the publication of this communication, both to set us right, and that the property may be restored to its owner.

“(Signed)      John O’Neil, Colonel.”

When the Fenians arrived at Newbigging’s farm on Frenchman’s creek about noon June 1st, two sons of the family had just returned from hurriedly taking their sister and other young ladies to a place of safety on the American side. O’Neil was then mounted on the cream colored charger which had been “borrowed” from Mr. James Stivens of the Ferry, and which he next day rode in the combat at Limestone Ridge. This horse was returned to its owner on Sunday the 3rd, considerably jaded.

The Fenian chief alighted at the garden wicket, which opens from the road skirting Niagara river, walked up to the house, where he was met at the door by Mrs. Newbigging. This family came from Greenock, in Scotland some years ago. The Fenian courteously introduced himself, was sorry to cause alarm; assured the lady that although the premises, on this side the creek and fields beyond were occupied by an armed force, no harm would be done, if every one in the house remained quiet. He had a sick gentlemen whom it was necessary to put to bed. Soldiers would be placed in the house to attend him, and protect the family. None else would be permitted within doors. O’Neil and officers, some of them, not all, had meals in the house; and the sick person had warm drinks, all of which were prepared by Fenian hands; Mrs. Newbigging’s offers of assistance being declined. All remained quiet within doors, but there was uproar outside. Between forty and fifty horses were collected and brought to the premises before sunset, upon all of which men wildly mirthful and grotesque in dress and manners galloped and curvetted about, along the river side road and over the farm fields. An[30] American reporter said a hundred horses. Three of Mr. Newbigging’s best were taken. One of brown color with white hind feet answered the description of a charger shot under its rider in the combat of next day, and which he supposed was his; but the three were returned on Sunday, June 3rd, not seriously injured though much distressed. One of his waggons and a set of harness were found in the woods a wreck. Several of his sheep were killed, and at the hurried midnight departure thrown into the creek.

At Mr. Stockdale’s house next farm north, thirteen cured hams, several crocks of butter and sacks of flour were taken. That provision had been made for hay and harvest workers. Nine or ten of the hams rudely slashed with sword cuts, and sacks of flour were afterwards found in the creek. An old Englishman named Penny, residing alone, was visited; his money was demanded. He gave a dollar, all he had. They threatened, he says, to bake him on the stove if he did not disclose where more money was concealed, but beyond frightening the poor man, the plunderers only seem to have taken the dollar. Mrs. McCarty living further down the river side road, said they tore up her carpets, broke open a bureau and took twelve dollars in money. Many fowls, turkeys and geese were taken. Their remains, with feathers, still strewed the bivouac field when I was there, 19th to 22nd June.

Frenchman’s creek is a deep sluggish stream, sixty to eighty feet wide, with marshy banks. Its dull water, seemingly motionless mingles with the clear swift current of the great Niagara, which is here about a mile wide to Strawberry Island opposite. At the mouth of the creek, close on the river shore, is a bridge of timber. Newbigging’s house and farmyard are a hundred yards south of the creek. An apple orchard, willow and poplar trees skirt it on the north side. A field of grass lies beyond the orchard and north of that, other fields which gave a clear rifle range of from five to eight hundred yards, down the river side, and inland over clear stretches of from eight hundred yards to a mile. At these distances from the river were forest thickets, only a few trees intervening on the open pastures. Here O’Neil, apprehensive that Colonel Peacocke, or other British commander would bring up a force by Niagara river side, constructed screens of fence rails across the pasture field, and in the orchard, from east to west to command the approach from north. The creek bended on his left flank and round upon his rear to Niagara river which flanked his right. The position was comparatively strong except as against artillery. Beyond[31] the creek westward, twelve hundred yards to forest thickets, and southerly from Newbigging’s house, pickets were thrown out, and sentries posted: these last all round and back in the woods. And mounted scouts, furnished from the locality and from Buffalo, penetrated to the interior of the country. The creek so frequently mentioned, with a devious course comes through marshy meadows from south-west. On each side are gently elevated grounds, well cultivated, and long settled called the Ridges. A road runs diagonally through the farm lots and squared township roads from a point two miles below, and north of Frenchman’s creek, following the bends of a ridge to the south-west ending on Lake Erie, nine or ten miles west of Waterloo village. This road follows the Limestone Ridge, and is therefore termed Ridge Way.

From the careful dispositions of his force, and the half circle of outlying pickets, with sentries along the roads in all directions, O’Neil evinced apprehension of being attacked there. One of the sentries posted in the thicket, fourteen hundred yards west of the bivouac field was shot during the night by another Fenian sentry who had mistaken him for a Canadian. His comrades stripped him of clothing except a flannel. Next day when some farmers who went to bury the body, were tracing the course the bullet had taken, through right arm, right side, to the heart, a pocket containing $112 in greenbacks, was discovered. A custom house officer took charge of the money. The Fenian picket of which this man was a sentinel were then prisoners, and among them the sergeant before spoken of. They said their comrade had been shot “accidentally,” they not choosing, perhaps, to admit that the bullet which killed him had been intended for a subject of Her Majesty the Queen. The farmers wished the coroner to hold an inquest, but he declined. The deceased man had a cross suspended on his breast, and the figure of one with initials marked on his left arm. He is buried on the edge of the wood where the body was found.

The split rails of oak, averaging about six inches thick, so well known as “snake fences” in Canada, “Virginia rails” on the other side, about fifteen feet long, which are piled in a zigzag form, alternately overlying each other at the end, and rising to a height of five, six, or seven feet, were carried from the sides of the Niagara river road, and from other fields, and piled as rifle bullet screens. These extended at intervals across the pasturage in front of Newbigging’s orchard from the river on the right, to the[32] westerly bend in the creek, distance four or five hundred yards. The screens were formed thus:

A rail was cut in three pieces; the ends sharpened, and driven into the ground in form like x. Two of these x’s supported a rail horizontally set at a height of about three feet. From that two or more rails slanted downward to the ground, from the position in which sharpshooters were to be screened. Then a lower roof of rails was laid longitudinally and horizontally on these, beginning on the ground, rising to the higher level. Then an upper roof was laid by pieces placed transversely to the former, and as closely together as they would lie. This roof sloped from three feet high to the ground at an angle of about thirty degrees, or less. It was intended that rifle bullets, hitting it from the direction in which the opposing force might come, would glance off over the heads of sharpshooters ensconced behind. Some of these screens were four feet high in rear, others only two, generally they were elevated three feet. The different sections of screens were regulated by the length of rails, and were not placed continuously end to end, but were advanced, like detached columns twelve or twenty yards before others, and much scattered. Probably this was done in expectation that, if artillery fired upon them, all would not be knocked down at once.

A way of escape was intended under cover of the orchard, within which screens were also placed at intervals, to the bridge over the creek, close to Niagara shore. The creek is there about seventy feet wide; the bridge eighty feet long. Piles of fence rails split to be readily combustible, were laid on the bridge to be set on fire, should the attack be from north and the Fenians have to retreat behind the Newbigging farm premises and south by the way on which they had advanced. The destruction of that bridge, and the rifle shooting which for a time might have been practised from the farm house and barns, to give the main body of Fenians time to escape to their scows and steam tug at Lower Ferry where they first landed, three quarters of a mile south and round a bend out of sight of their present position, would have probably delayed an advancing force for a time. That is, had such force come by the river-side road and that only. But there were inland roads by which, as O’Neil knew the British could approach from the direction of the Great Western railway at Niagara Suspension bridge and from Chippewa. There was also a line of rails, the Erie and Niagara track which though not regularly open for traffic, had been[33] recently repaired to be opened; and G. W. R. trains, it was supposed could pass up the track to Waterloo village. Information having reached the Fenian colonel at Frenchman’s creek, sometime between 10 p. m. and midnight, June 1st, that Colonel Peacocke of Her Majesty’s army, with a force of Royal Artillery, regular, Infantry and Canada Volunteers, had reached Chippewa, a village three miles south of Niagara Falls, and about four miles south of Suspension Bridge, fifteen miles north of his bivouac on Frenchman’s creek, he decided to leave his position and march into the interior of the country.

To gain the Welland canal and railway at Port Colborne was now, as it had from the first been the Fenian object. O’Neil either expected additional forces unarmed from the American side, or to have had unarmed Fenians joining him in Canada, most probably the latter. For at the creek were collected spare arms and ammunition. This was in boxes of one thousand cartridges each; ten packages of one hundred, to a box; ten smaller parcels of ten to each package, and twelve percussion caps with each parcel of ten. Eighteen of the boxes had been fished up from the bottom of the creek, close by the bridge previous to 20th of June, containing 18,000 cartridges. Possibly more had been sunk elsewhere. The boxes had been punctured by bayonets to admit water to destroy the powder. Each box bore a date, “1865,” and the name of a United States arsenal, most of them that of “Bridport.” The arms, rifles and bayonets, were piled on a fire kindled on centre of the timber bridge, to be destroyed with that structure. They had been sunk in the creek. Ninety rifles were taken out and accounted for before 20th of June. How many more were found or still remained in the water, was uncertain. Rifles had also been broken by striking the butts against trees. The bark of apple and cherry trees, poplars and willows along the creek, indicated where the rifle stocks had been broken; and stock, lock, and barrel thrown into the water. Remnants of barrels and locks were also found in the ashes of the numerous cooking fires which had been used along the orchard and pasture field.

The Fenian Chief’s object in burning the bridge, on his removal north, from Frenchman’s creek at midnight of June 1st, was to prevent pursuit in his rear, in the event of a British force having reached Waterloo village (commonly called Fort Erie) by an inland road. To cover his movement he left his outlying pickets on their posts, southerly and west of the creek and Newbigging’s house. Some men of these pickets escaped across[34] Niagara, when at daylight, June 2nd, they discovered that the main body had left; others remained, refusing to believe that any British force was approaching. Certain of the farmers, acting with Mr. Murray a customs officer, took them prisoners, as also other stragglers, and during the forenoon, of June 2nd, delivered them to a party of the Welland Artillery, who placed them on board the steamer Robb. They formed part of a batch of sixty-five prisoners taken to Brantford jail, afterwards to Toronto.

The Newbigging family passed a night of keen sensations. They did not know that O’Neil and his force had left, having been ordered, when he and officers took supper at 11 p. m., in their house, to stay strictly within doors. They dreaded that, if the Fenians remained until the expected advance of British troops in the morning, they would, on retreating burn the premises; or, if giving battle, that the creek, bridge, dwelling-house and barns would be the central theatre of fiery conflict, or, if the British did not come soon, that their cows, sheep, everything consumable would be taken for Fenian food, and the premises perhaps, burned at last.

The “worst looking blackguard of the whole” according to the judgment of the lady of the house, was a small sized Scotchman, who had been pugilistically engaged and had then a disfigured face. He was asked what induced him to be a Fenian? and replied that he had been a soldier, in the American army, was discharged, wanted something to do, and so joined the army of General Sweeny.

A youthful volunteer of the 13th left wounded on the field of Limestone Ridge next day, relates that he narrowly escaped murder after being a prisoner, and was saved by intervention of a Fenian Scotchman. If that was the same person he had a good side as well as a bad and an ill-favored face.

After leaving Frenchman’s creek the invaders marched five miles north, to the town lines of Bertie and Willoughby; then west to Lot 16, 8th concession of Bertie, the property of Louis Krafft. There they bivouacked till daylight; having as at the Newbigging farm, erected bullet screens of rails, posted pickets and made a show of entrenching and defending a position on Black creek.

At sunrise they marched south, and struck the road called Ridgeway, and then south-west on that road until they reached the property of Henry F. Angur, Lot 4. 10th concession of Bertie. About a hundred yards distant[35] from the road, skirting it on the south, the limestone rock has a vertical face, the farm fields above the precipice sloping upward and south two or three hundred yards to a pine thicket; the country to north of the road being nearly level, and stretching half a mile to the skirts of a thicket of maple and oak where also is a marsh and a stream, which is a feeder of Black creek. Henry Angur’s house is on the wayside, not many yards from the vertical rocks. There, O’Neil halted to reconnoitre, and, as events came out made his head-quarters during the combat which derives its name from that locality. It was now 5 a. m. June 2nd.

On the previous day messengers came along this road and warned the inhabitants that the Fenians were to march that way to Port Colborne and to Port Robinson to capture the Welland canal. The farmers, whose houses are nearly all on the wayside, if their land touch it, removed their families and the best of their horses and cattle that day. Henry Angur, aged 73, afflicted with gout and moving only on crutches chose to remain. He is an intelligent veteran from the war of 1812, and the rebellion of 1837-38. He said his family wanted him to go in the waggon, but, “he had been in two wars and would risk a third.” O’Neil had been well informed of the inhabitants lining in that district, of the horses they possessed, with the number and names of their sons. On entering this house he looked the old man in the face and said: “Your name is Henry Angur?” “Yes, sir, Henry F. Angur; what may your name be, if you please?” “My name is O’Neil. I am chief in command of fourteen hundred men, (Mr. Angur feels sure he gave that number), now in possession of your premises, your farm and country from the ferry to Ridgeway; where are your sons?” “I have no sons at home, sir,” “No sons at home? nonsense! where is Jim?” “Well, sir, I don’t know where Jim have gone.” “When did you last see him?” “Last see him? well sir, Jim went yesterday to the mill with a grist, and I suppose he heard ill news and so have not come home.” “What ill news do you think he heard?” “The same as we heard here, I suppose.” “What was that?” “It was that the Fenians had landed, and to begin with had killed Dr. Kempson of the Ferry.” “But Dr. Kempson is not killed, nor injured, don’t you know that no harm has happened him or any one else, from us?” “I have heard since that he was not killed; but what, sir, are you going to do with us?” “Tell me first Mr. Angur, have you any Johnny Bulls around here?” “Johnny Bulls, sir? I don’t exactly comprehend.” “Yes, you comprehend quite well; have you seen any red-coats here about? any of Queen Victoria’s soldiers? or of[36] Canadian Volunteers? any armed men? any cavalry? artillery? infantry?” “No, sir, I have not; I have not indeed, sir.” “Very well, that will do for the present. Captain” (to an officer of the staff) “you and a guard remain in charge of this house and this old man. Make every person prisoner you find.” O’Neil, after that conversation proceeded in the direction of the railway station at Ridgeway, but did not go farther, it is supposed, than about Hoffman’s tavern, the “Smuggler’s Home,” a mile in advance of Henry Angur’s house and about two miles short of the station.

A nephew of the old man, a youth of sixteen remained beside his horse in sight of the conflict in the woods 800 yards north of the road. Another young man lay concealed in the roof of a barn. He said he counted over twelve hundred Fenians pass the barn. All else had left the previous day. At the farm house of Mr. Stoneman, half way between Henry Angur’s and J. N. Angur’s (that name being German is pronounced Anker) I spoke to three small boys a few days after the fight, the hottest of which had been in their orchard, and in fields adjoining. They were aged about eleven, nine, and seven. “Where were you little boys, the time of the battle?” “Back in the woods, over yonder.” (pointing north). “How far?” “Back ever so far—six mile” “Did you go soon in the morning?” “No, day before.” “How did you know the day before that Fenians were coming this way?” “A man came along from the Ferry, telling all around here to clear.” “Did you carry provisions with you?” “Some, not much.” “Where did you stay all Friday night?” “Slept in the woods?” “Were you frightened?” “Yes, I think so; you’d have been frightened too.” “You have fancy pigeons in that cage; did you take them to the woods?” “No, they hung just there all the time.” “And the Fenians did not take them?” “They took fowls, and then throwed fowls away; pigeons were no use to them, but they were near being shot; you can see where bullets went through boards of the house—up there, and here, and there again, and the trees in the orchard are scored all over with bullets.”

Up to this point the narrative has followed the track of the Fenians. Let us now turn to the prompt mustering of forces, the patriotic, the impassioned attitude of defiance, the gallant rush to the frontier, to repulse from Canadian soil, this unrighteous army of intruders, who by no law recognized on earth or in heaven was justified in its invasion of Canada.

decorative line



Words of warning in 1862, and 1863, from Colonel Lysons, Quarter-master General of Her Majesty’s Forces in Canada. Olden signals of War. The alarm on June 1st, 1866. The quick response. Give us arms, lead on. Conflicting telegrams on 1st of June. The cry is still they come. Sons of Canada, come home to fight for mothers and mother land. Americans at Oil Springs enrol for defence of Canada. Home Guards organized. The cry is still they come. Volunteers for the field. How are they equipped? The Queen’s Own. Tenth Royals. York and Caledonia Rifles. Hamilton Field Battery. Welland Field Battery. Hamilton Thirteenth. All defective in equipments. “Authorities” in a lethargy. Enemy “thundering at the door.” Courage of the people. Little else ready.

“It will be too late to speak of organizing and equipping your Militia when the enemy is thundering at your doors” [Valedictory letter of Lieut.-Colonel Lysons, C. B. Royal Artillery, to the people of Canada, 1862, on his leaving the Province after an effort rendered fruitless through Canadian parliamentary factions to organize and equip a Provincial Defensive force.]

“What the Province is doing is worse than nothing, as yet. Her Majesty’s Government have furnished arms for an effective Provincial Militia, and what do we see? The arms after six months are still lying in boxes kicking about at railway depots, rusting and going to destruction. No armories provided.” [Extract of a letter from Lieut.-Colonel Lysons, C. B. Royal Artillery, after returning to Canada as Acting Quarter-master General of H. M. Forces, June 1863, addressed to Alexander Somerville, then Editor of the Canadian Illustrated News, writer of Canada a battle ground, published May, 1862].

An enemy within the frontier line! Canada trodden by the foot of hostile forces vowing to be avenged on the peaceful, industrious people of British America, for the grievances of Ireland, accumulating through the long historic ranges of seven centuries. The land we live in invaded. Whatever may be the incentives to war growing out of the traditions of seven hundred years, there is no questionable sentiment, within the living community which hears the tread of the armed stranger within its borders. That is the aggression of to-day.


What is the note of alarm? What is the signal? Who are the messengers to carry along the lake and river shores a thousand miles east and west, and north into the far interior, to citizens, artizans, husbandmen, and lumbermen, the intelligence, “Stand to your arms, an enemy is within the frontier; he has broken in on upper Niagara; he threatens to come in on lake and river shore, and all along the faintly defined line of Lower Canada!” Who is to carry this message, and diffuse it, proclaim it, be eloquent to enforce it?

Electricity, secret, instant, is the messenger. But the matter of the message itself is electric, even when carried by men on foot. It thrills through body and soul, limb and life, of all the people; youngest, oldest; citizens of all professions, rural husbandmen, forest lumberers, lake and river raftsmen, sailors; sons and daughters of every national parentage, dwelling in these Provinces. No prompting of eloquence, no invocation of patriotism is needed. The enemy armed and hostile, supposed to be in league with some among ourselves; how many none can tell; some among ourselves but not very many. That possibility of an enemy in our own city, or street, or house, inspires to prompt action. In all ages of mankind, among all races, in all lands, the alarm of—“the enemy within your borders!” was diffused by the agency of light and fire and sound; and messengers swift of foot. Read Jeremiah, chapter VI. verse I. “O ye children of Benjamin, blow the trumpet in Takoa and set up a sign of fire in Beth-haccerem!” Read the extract from an act of the Scottish parliament of the year 1455, C. 48, and find, that Scotland fought the invaders in the day of their evil visitation, not waiting for Scottish posterity to be avenged on English posterity, and other inoffensive posterities, in another land, living in fellowship under a system of happiest liberty, four thousand miles away, seven, or five, or three, or one hundred years after the evil occurrences. It was directed that one bale fire of faggots on crag, or hill, or mountain summit, should be warning of the approach of the “English in any manner.” That two bale-fires of faggots should be the alarm that, “the English are coming indeed.” That four bale-fires should be decisive intelligence that, “the English are within the borders in great force.”

Indians in America, Kaffres, Hottentots and Bosjesmens in Africa, light their war-fires, some adding on elevated ground signs of an extended hand with club, two extended hands with clubs, a blanket, a skin, or several skins; in the whole a species of telegraphing which was not much improved[39] until the semaphore was invented in France in 1794, introduced to England about the same time, by which intelligence was carried long distances and secretly, by signs, numerals, and letters.

The oldest Fenian tradition, a dim glimmer of uncertain light seen through a tunnel more than two thousand years long, by way of ancient Greece, and Phoenecia, leads the idea to war-fires lighted in Ireland to warn the owners of the soil, cultivators and herdsmen, of those remote centuries that Phoenician invaders were within the Irish coasts. Other dim lights shew the Fenian descendants of Irish Phoenicians burning war-fires of alarm to announce the approach of Danes, Normans, and Norman English, as the Scotch did. The feudal system oppressed and paralyzed the industrial arm of Scotland, Ireland, England, France and all Europe. But it was indeed grievous in Ireland.

“Man’s inhumanity to man—
Makes countless thousand’s mourn.”

The Fenians were, in Ireland conquerors of the land from an older proprietory. The colonists of Massachusetts, and of the American Atlantic coast invoked in 1757-58-59, the aid of their mother country, Great Britain, to capture the castle of Louisburg on Cape Breton, Quebec in Canada, Fort du Quesne, now Pittsburg in Pennsylvania, to repress or expel the French in North America, for the sake of the ocean fisheries and the fur trade. Thus it was that English, Irish, and Scottish colonists, came to occupy the Provinces, now claimed by Fenians and by such of the Americans as sympathize with Fenianism on the ground that Britain was not justified in subduing the French to gratify the colonies of New England, New York, New Jersey, Virginia and the Carolinas, in 1757, 1758, 1759. Contrary to the prayer of Massachusetts and the conjoint colonies, Great Britain did not seek to expel the French from Canada, nor to suppress their language by legal enactment, as the United States subsequently did in Louisiana and region of the Mississippi; but gave the French co-equal rights political and religious with English, Irish, Scotch and German or any other colonizing race in British America.

And thus it was, that enjoying equal rights, laws, and privileges, with a freedom of speech and of publication, as generous and universal, as summer sunshine and fertilizing rain, the people of Canada, French, British, Irish,—all, except perhaps some thinly scattered adherents of delusion led away from better judgment under the fascination of secrecy and hope of future[40] adventures—leapt to their arms, demanding to be led to the frontier, demanding to be armed and placed under responsible leadership.

And not alone these, but native Americans now resident in Canada who under other influences might think annexation of the two countries desirable. At Oil Springs, township of Enniskillen, Lambton County, Canada West, situated twenty miles from Sarnia, a strong Volunteer Company was enrolled in a few hours to aid in repelling the invaders of which a third were Pennsylvania oilmen and other Americans. Mr. Read a lawyer; Mr. Robert Mathison printer and editor, both graduates of the Canada military schools, were chosen captain and lieutenant. Mr. Perry, a merchant, was ensign. On remote tributaries of the Upper Ottawa, lumbermen, raftsmen, heard the news through the fleet hurrying of messengers and faster paddling of canoes, and thronged down the streams to the river and upon the river to the cities of Ottawa and Montreal, offering their services, their lives—gifts to the Province. Sons of Canada resident in the United States left employment and social ties, and hastened to their own land to defend it, to assert that British America will remain British. A goodly number of these came from Chicago to Toronto, five hundred miles. Many more would have quickly followed if wanted.

Who is she, that elderly woman on the railway platform, looking eagerly to the cars, into the circles of friends, crowding around the men as they alight? She is looking if her son has come. “Yes!” she exclaims, embracing the youth, loyal to his mother, loyal to his native land, “I knew you would come to fight for Canada and for me.”

At Hamilton the Mayor issued this proclamation: “I hereby request all able bodied men who are willing to turn out in defence of their country to meet this evening at 7 o’clock in their respective wards for the purpose of enrollment and forming a Home Guard.” They met, they enrolled, they formed the Home Guard; were armed and for some months exercised in the use of rifles and bayonets, and nightly perambulated the city in squads. These were merchants, store keepers, artizans, professional men, clerks. In other cities, towns, villages similar associations were formed. At Toronto, said the newspapers; “Without exaggeration we may say we have never seen the city so intensely moved as it was last night (June 1.) when the news indicated a probable battle on the line of the Niagara river. The streets were crowded with thousands of men and women eager to obtain the latest scrap of intelligence from the front and every extra was[41] perused with feverish anxiety. It is to be hoped to-day’s news will relieve the deep suspense which may be said to have rested on the city last night.”

All reports were not true, but they occupied official time; and complicated military plans. The following reached Toronto by way of Buffalo. “It has been reported that Port Sarnia and Windsor have been captured by the Fenians. It is also reported that they have taken possession of the Welland canal.” [Not true]. Buffalo, 12 o’clock noon, June 1. “The Fenians at Fort Erie have opened a recruiting office, and are now enrolling volunteers. They have seized the Newbigging Farm and made it their head-quarters. When opposition is offered by people of the town, the Fenians at once set fire to their houses.” (Not wholly true.)

That was from the American side. The following came from St. Catharines a town on Welland canal, Welland railway and Great Western, in Canada, twelve miles inland from Niagara bridge. “A portion of four companies from Grimsby and Beamsville arrived here this morning at eight o’clock. Col. Currie is in temporary command. Forty or fifty more will arrive in a few hours.” “Col. McGiverin has procured one thousand stand of arms, to be sent from Hamilton, to arm the citizens, and also ammunition. The home guard under Col. McDonald is called out. There is no ammunition for the Spencer rifles.”

The following dated Buffalo June 1, 1.30 p. m. was circulated in Toronto and all Canada in the afternoon. Exaggeration in the estimates of Fenian numbers had not then been corrected by better information. Military plans of defence were formed on the highest estimate, not the lowest.

“I have just returned from Lower Black Rock, 4 or 5 miles from the city, and had a view of the Fenians encamped on the opposite bank; some say to the number of 2000 or 3000. A tug boat carried over a large number, and cheers for the new arrivals were distinctly heard on this side. The ferry-boat is now stopped, but the Fenians appear to have full liberty to ply in tug boats as often as they please. A man on a white horse appeared to be very active, he being distinctly seen on the bank of the river riding amongst his men. About half past six the host of the Fenian army proper went over in canal boats and took with them twenty wagon loads of munitions of war. They have sentinels posted for miles around their encampment, and are enjoying their favorite occupation of stealing all the horses in the locality. The stars and stripes float from a flag-pole at Erie, opposite Black Rock, but the general impression here is that if the Canadians have the least spark of that spirit they are supposed to possess, the Fenians will soon have to skedaddle. It is said that they intend going on to Chippewa[42] forthwith. The steamer Michigan has steam up to prevent the Fenians coming back.

“All kinds of rumors are afloat here—one that Windsor has been burnt down. Another that a force was advancing from Albany. They had tickets for Rome, and probably were destined for the St. Lawrence region. They had no arms. The Fenian leaders in this city are very active and more men will leave to-night for the Canadian frontier.”

More news arrived from the States and flew on wings of a free press through the Province. The people not dismayed one shade of countenance, but on the contrary fired with newer, bolder energy to muster, march, give battle and conquer. This was circulated at Toronto, after noon. Cincinnati, June 1. The Commercial’s Columbus, Ohio, despatch says that 450,000 rounds of ammunition were shipped from that place to New York, and 150,000 to Chicago, and 30,000 muskets to Buffalo, within a few days, which it is reported were intended for the Fenians.

Also came information from Boston telling of Fenian forces forwarded from there and in the same paragraphs of United States forces sent to the frontier to intercept them. Canadians were ready to believe the Fenian items true; slow to rest confidently on what U. S. authorities would do; for, said same reports; “Fenians and U. S. regulars are fraternising.” Boston June 1. “Two companies United States regulars left Fort Warren this morning for St. Albans, under the command of Col. Livingstone. An additional detachment of about 100 Fenians also left, it is supposed for the Canada border. Fifteen hundred men is the alleged Fenian quota of Massachusetts for the present enterprise. The newly raised Fenian Cavalry regiment, under the command of Col. Icartoi, late of Moseby’s guerillas, is a part of the expedition from this city. The Fenians say that Gen. Fitzhugh Lee will command the cavalry wing of their army of invasion. They further say that the blow will be struck early next week probably on Monday.” And again, Boston, June 1.—12, noon.—“In addition to the Fenian cavalry regiment, the third Fenian Infantry, Col. Connor, 1,200 strong, has left this city for the Canada border. Transportation for the cavalry regiment was paid through to St. Albans by a citizen of Boston. Detachments of United States troops from Forts Warren and Independence, and also from Fort Preble, are under orders to leave for the northern frontier.”

A despatch from Port Stanley [north shore of Lake Erie, terminus of a railway from London C. W.,] said that forty schooner’s had been in sight from one o’clock; their conduct very mysterious all the morning. At London C. W., the volunteers were immediately ordered under arms and[43] preparations made in the garrison of Royal Artillery and 60th Rifles of H. M. regular army, to move in any direction. Colonel Hawley the commandant called in the detachment of the 60th from Komoka. The city council met to form a Home Guard. At Port Hope and Cobourg, and all down the shore of Ontario lake the organized volunteers mustered under arms. Intelligence arrived that a suspicious steamer was moving on the mouth of Niagara river. At Kingston the 14th battalion of militia, and the garrison of regulars mustered; the militia on Garden island. At Ottawa, at Montreal and throughout Lower Canada the same spirit of promptitude became an instant thing of life, of action. Let the preceding items of defensive preparation be multiplied by hundreds, with all the names of towns, townships, cities, counties attached; and add that the thoughts of the people had but one bent, defend the frontier, repel the invader, pray to high Heaven, but remember that Heaven helps those who help themselves.

And now stands out the question prominent above all thoughts of that day—in the minds of some—What had the Canadian Government done to equip the Volunteer Militia for this emergency?

At the beginning of this chapter two quotations are cited, which though brief, afford a glimpse of what was the opinion of the Quarter-Master General of H. M. forces as held by him in 1862 and 1863. After 1863, some change for the better was made in militia organization. In all, about thirty thousand men had been enrolled, armed, and less or more efficiently educated in military evolutions. That portion of their equipment which is most conspicuous to the eye—uniform and ornamental clothing—was perfect. Rifles, bayonets, cross-belts and cartridge pouches, were also correct according to army pattern. But equipments, equal in importance for the life and efficiency of the soldier on active service, to his rifle, ball cartridge, percussion cap, and bayonet, and greatly more important to his life and efficiency than the make or material or color of his clothing, were awanting, had not it seemed, by the event, been thought of by persons called for want of a more distinct name, the Authorities.

The political Authorities had given out from time to time, and up to the day of invasion, when, as Colonel Lysons had said, the enemy would be “thundering at their doors” that they were ready for any emergency; but they were not ready. Not much was ready but the mercy of heaven and the courage of the people.


The Volunteer Militia had been frequently inspected in Canada West by Major-General Napier, Assistant Adjutant-General Durie, and by other army officers. Their complimentary addresses, or at least newspaper paragraphs purporting to be echoes of their addresses, led the public to believe that the volunteers were organized, exercised, educated, equipped for any emergency.

The Rifles of Toronto known as the “Queen’s Own,” were despatched from that city on 1st of June, with a speech from General Napier to the effect that they might be engaged with the enemy within twelve hours, yet all save one company went without ammunition, and without the equipments enumerated on another page as wanting by the Thirteenth from Hamilton. The Tenth Royals from Toronto, were in like manner deficient. Observe the result in the military fortunes of next day. Referring to his bivouac at Chippewa, night and morning of 1st and 2nd June, Colonel Peacocke, commanding on Niagara frontier, in his official despatch, when relating the events of the 2nd, and 3rd says, “The Volunteers being unprovided with the means of carrying provisions and of cooking them had not been able to comply with an order I had sent the previous evening that they were to bring provisions in their haversacks. I saw that the absolute necessity of furnishing them with some would cause delay and I telegraphed to Port Colborne that I should be one hour later in starting. We marched at 7, o’clock.” In the previous sentence he had named the Toronto “10th Royals under Major Boxall,” 415 in numerical strength, and no doubt referred to them, but the remark of having no haversacks to carry provisions, no cooking apparatus, no provisions to be cooked, applied to other volunteers besides the 10th Royals. That delay was more than an hour. Had there been haversacks and provisions, the Queens Own, Thirteenth, York and Caledonia men need not have been confronted with the Fenians at Limestone Ridge alone. So small a matter as a haversack to a volunteer, and a single atom of common sense to an “Authority,” might have changed the history of that day.

The County of Lincoln sent forth a squadron of Cavalry, good men and true, with faultless horses, but without Cavalry equipments. The York and Caledonia rifles like the Toronto Queen’s Own went without ammunition. The Hamilton Field Battery of artillery, comprised a body of men equal to any that ever assumed the name of soldiers but their harness was decayed, had been condemned over two years, and government had not[45] replaced it. It was unfit for field exercise. The battery could not go to battle. And yet the local newspapers, reporting Colonel Peacocke’s inspection of that battery on 8th March, 1866, published to the Province that he had said, “The Hamilton battery was in a state of highest efficiency, ready for any emergency.” Had it been ready for service it might have been on the field of Limestone Ridge on 2nd of June: and thus, again, the history of that day might have read differently from what it does.—The Welland Field battery was at Port Colborne on the morning of 1st of June, and would have been on Limestone Ridge, but its officers and men had no cannon. Their guns had been removed to Hamilton where there was no harness. They embarked on the steamer Robb and went to Fort Erie. There we shall meet them in due time, in combat with the Fenians on the afternoon of 2nd of June.

If the volunteers engaged with the enemy on 2nd of June are brought under the readers eye in this narrative more frequently than others equally worthy of popular record, it is the circumstance of their having been mortally engaged that brings them now prominently out for comment. The soul of the old soldier when he looked upon the 13th, mustering for frontier service on that morning, bounded with joy to behold the olden youthfulness, buoyancy, and confidence of the race reproduced in this newer country, newer generation. But, because he was an old soldier and knew the exigencies of active war in a wooded country his heart sunk within him at seeing those gallant youths go forth carrying, in the negligence of governmental authorities their death with them. Addressing the public immediately after the events of the 2nd, the writer said: “I assert that had the 13th been exposed day and night for one or two weeks in such work as that of June 2nd, half would have perished of diseases induced by thirst, bad water, no water, hunger, fatigue, and through exposure to marsh malaria without overcoats.” The coats having been lost for want of, with each man, a pair of straps to fasten them when folded on the back. They had no pioneers, no spades, axes, nor other entrenching tools. The Fenians, as was seen in chapter II. looked for spades and axes first thing on touching Canada. They had not been taught how to fold their overcoats so as to carry them on their backs without impeding the action of loading, capping, aiming, and firing. From the American Bull Run of 1862, they had profited nothing in the matter of advancing upon an enemy in a wooded country, carrying no water, no food, nothing but bold confidence,[46] which in war is something but not everything. For want of their coats they mounted guards at night exposed to rain, to swamp fogs, chills from the lake and the canal, wearing only their red tunics and shirts, and all because they had not each a pair of shoulder belts, to carry that first of a soldier’s life preservers, the overcoat. Was no superior answerable for this neglect?

They were sent out without canteens to carry water when on the line of march or on the battle-field. On the field of action and on the retreat they drank from swampy ditches, lifting the water in their shakos and caps and shoes; many were in consequence sick—their intolerable thirst having been aggravated by the ambrosial breakfast of a red-herring which the military genius of their commander, administered to them at 4.30 a. m., preparatory to a long march without water and the hazards of a battle.

It has since been ascertained that he had beef-steak for breakfast. They had no knapsacks in which to carry changes of underclothing, or the usual military necessaries. They had no mess tins in which to divide food, and carry it when not all at once consumed. They had no haversack to carry bread and small articles indispensable to personal cleanliness and health, and not second to these, indispensable in keeping the rifle in working order. They had not a wrench in the battalion to unscrew locks, nor a worm screw, of which every man should have one wherewith to draw charges from rifles. The nipples of some were, after the action, plugged with dirt and could not be fired off. There was no battalion armourer. They had no oil for springs, or to protect burnished steel from rust. They had no portable camp kettles, to cook food which should have been supplied by a Government commissary. There were commissary agents who had no stores. The Government were said to be ready for any emergency. The 1st and 2nd of June proved that they had made no adequate preparation. And the question remains for the time of present writing, month of August. Has any better provision, or equipments for a campaign yet been made?

With all those wants the 13th carried with them their colors to the woodlands. No commanders of practical experience permit colors to be carried into forests, where the war from nature of the enemy and contour of the country is likely to prove desultory. General Sir De Lacy Evans, in Spain, than whom no soldier of riper and more varied experience has lived in this century, never permitted his troops to carry colors before the enemy in that country of woods, orchards, rivers, and ravines.


I come now to the Toronto Volunteers, The “Queen’s Own” were thus described in a local journal, the Leader. The first call to arms referred to was when companies of Volunteers were sent to the frontier to prevent raids into the United States by American refugee rebels, or desperadoes calling themselves such, during the great, the calamitous civil war. (See further on this subject, ensuing chapter.)

The second call to arms of the volunteers has been responded to with even more enthusiasm than the first. The order for mustering the “Queen’s Own” only reached here late on the afternoon on Thursday, and at the appointed hour (four o’clock yesterday morning) over five hundred men assembled in the drill-shed ready to receive orders to proceed to the point where the Fenians were congregating. At that hour the fire bells rang out as a signal for the men to assemble, and in less than an hour the number we have mentioned were under arms. Under the command of Colonel Dennis, Brigade Major 5th military district, the men were marched from the drill-shed to the Yonge street wharf, where they were embarked on board the steamer City of Toronto, at half past six o’clock, for Port Dalhousie, where they were to take the Welland railway to Port Colborne. The men were in the highest spirits, and one and all expressed the hope that the Fenians who have been so long threatening would at length give the volunteers an opportunity of meeting them in open conflict. Notwithstanding the early hour at which the steamer left, the wharf was crowded with people who lustily cheered the brave fellows as they took their departure. About 120 men of the battalion had been left behind, some of whom had not been notified of the arrangements that had been made, and others who had not heard the alarm of the fire bells and had slept too long. The boat left half an hour earlier than was stated, and many of the men had reached the wharf just as the steamer was moving out. It was therefore deemed advisable that the men so left behind should assemble at drill about noon and be ready to proceed by special train to join their comrades. The men were punctually at their post, and after being inspected by Major Smith and their names called over, they were marched, under the command of Capt. Gardner, of the Highland company, to the Union Station, followed by an immense concourse of people. Nothing could exceed the delight which evidently filled the breast of every man of them. Upon arriving at the station it was ascertained that they were not to go by railway, but to take the City of Toronto upon her return from Port Dalhousie at two o’clock. They were then marched back to the drill-shed, and there awaited the hour of embarkment. When the order to again “fall in” had been given, they formed into two companies marched to the Yonge street wharf and immediately proceeded on board the steamer which was lying at the wharf ready to receive them. Besides the officer in command—Captain Gardner—they were accompanied by Lieut. Bevan, Lieut. Campbell, and Ensign Davis. At this juncture the crowd of people and the excitement among them, along the way between[48] the drill-shed and the wharf, were tremendous. Previous to the volunteers going on board many were the warm greetings that they received from relatives and friends. Many a kind word of encouragement, and many a heartfelt wish for their success and their safe return were expressed. While bales of blankets and canvass for tents were being placed on board, the men were engaged in singing songs, and as the steamer was leaving her moorings, they were lustily cheered again and again by the crowds of people on the wharf and as warmly returned by the volunteers.

When the Queen’s Own arrived at Port Dalhousie, Mr. McGrath, manager of the Welland railway, was there with a special train to convey them to Port Colborne. “Gentlemen,” said he, to some of the officers, “where is all that luggage going?” This consisted of trunks, hat boxes, and usual accompaniments of railway travellers when on long journeys. “We are going to Port Colborne,” one replied. “That luggage,” rejoined the manager, “will require a van for itself; what is the meaning of it for this military train?” “We expect to remain in garrison at Port Colborne.” “Remain there! It is likely you will be engaged with the Fenians before you pass Port Robinson, or somewhere between that and Port Colborne.” To which the officer commanding said, “Good God! you don’t say that?” Someone observed that General Napier had told them at Toronto they might soon be engaged with the enemy. “Did he?” said the commander, “if he thought so, why are we sent from Toronto and landed here without ammunition?”

Mr. McGrath had reason to suppose that the enemy might attack this train. He warned Colonel Dennis that it was hazardous to run the train into Port Colborne without first sending skirmishers to feel the way; the enemy might be in the woods on either side. This suggestion went unheeded. The battalion was disembarked at the platform, scattering at once through the village, along the canal, over the bridges, no guard mounted, no pickets, no sentries posted; but all easy victims to any military enemy, had such been there.

When Mr. McGrath was giving car room for conveyance of the unmilitary luggage, he asked to be informed of the space to be filled with their provisions. The reply was that, “no provisions had been brought, sufficient would be found at Colborne.” “That,” he rejoined, “is a poor place for provisions. It is but a small village; other volunteer forces will be there; you should take stores from St. Catherines.” That town was on the way, but there was no commissariat arrangements for purchasing, or obtaining[49] stores by requisition. No cooking utensils to dress food. They came as destitute of field equipments from Toronto, as the 13th did from Hamilton, and in the vital article of ammunition worse; only one company of the Queen’s Own had ball cartridges; they were thirty rounds each with No. 5 company for repeating rifles, which as the event proved were expended in a very brief time and to small purpose.

Brave young men, full of hope, full of confidence, they went to the front without suspicion that any requisite for an active campaign had been neglected.

Let us return to Toronto for the volunteer 10th Royals, and detachments of regulars. Newspapers of next day reported that:

The 10th Royals, in obedience to orders, mustered in the drill-shed at twelve o’clock, and after having been inspected by Major Boxall, who, in the absence of Lieut.-Col. Brunel, had assumed command of the battalion, were ordered to be in readiness to proceed to St. Catharines, by the Great Western railway, at four o’clock. Col. Brunel, who was in Montreal, was telegraphed for to return to this city immediately. At the appointed hour the 10th Royals assembled at the shed. The excitement about this time became intense. All kinds of rumors were afloat, some of which were that the volunteers who had left at early morn, and some of the 16th regiment, were in actual engagement with the Fenians, and had been repulsed. This story made the men of the 10th still more eager for the fray. After having been formed into companies and then four deep, the order to march was given, and the battalion proceeded to the Queen’s wharf, headed by their band. The whole consisting of eight companies, under the command of Major Boxall. They were met by about two hundred men of the 47th regiment, under Lieut.-Col. Villiers. Three companies of that gallant regiment, under command of Major Lodder, and the G battery of the Royal Artillery left at 12.40 o’clock by the Great Western railway for Port Colborne. The two companies of the forty-seventh and the tenth royals were marched to the cars, which were in waiting to convey them to St. Catharines. The bridge which spans the railway track at the Queen’s wharf and the hill tops which surround the Great Western railway workshops, were crowded with spectators. The greatest enthusiasm possible prevailed among the troops—the men of the 47th and 10th Royals singing with heart and voice, “Rule Britannia,” the “Red White and Blue,” and other loyal songs.

Reverting to the departure of regulars and volunteers from Hamilton on 1st of June. On the previous day about 4 p. m. the 16th of H. M. army, the head-quarters, right wing, at Hamilton under Colonel George Peacocke, was kept within barracks. Intelligence had then arrived from[50] the General commanding in chief that a Fenian invasion was expected. During the same day a sergeant of the volunteer 13th went to the dwellings of the members warning them to assemble at the drill-shed at 6 a. m. next morning. They came; most of them without breakfast. They were told, says Lieut.-Col. Booker, to get breakfast for they were going to meet the enemy and he did not know when they would return. [Statement to Court of Inquiry]. Some went to breakfast; others did not. A few, about one-fifth of the whole—the parade state of that morning being 265 of all ranks, had haversacks. They were chiefly men who had been on previous frontier service. Therefore the need of their having that article had long been known to the commanding officer. He also knew they were without knapsacks. He addressed the battalion in the drill-shed, when about to march, in these terms: “Men of the Thirteenth, you are once more called out for duty. You will now, as you did before, follow me. You have no knapsacks, but I can promise that if you do not behave yourselves before the enemy as soldiers should do, you will get plenty of ‘knapsack drill’.” [Written statement laid before me by men of the 13th, who offered to attest it]. There was nothing contrary to good military rule in these words. But in memory of the fact that a portion of the battalion had been five months on frontier service at Windsor not under his command, but under an officer from another city equally vigilant if less pretentious, and had not one defaulter all the time, the taunt of knapsack drill, that is, punishment drill, was not then in the line of discretion. The words follow me, were afterwards remembered. This address on the morning of June 1, is noted here, however, principally to show that Colonel Booker, for several years Militia Commandant of the city as well as Lieut.-Col. of the 13th, was familiar with the deficiency of field equipments.

This battalion, small in numbers, several men and officers having been then absent from the city who afterwards overtook it on the frontier, marched to the railway depot accompanied by many citizens who heartily prayed for blessings on it. The Great Western cars were ready. The train left at 10 a. m. going west to Paris, a two hours journey; then on the Buffalo and Lake Huron track to travel eastward to Port Colborne.

H. M. 16th, (right wing) went on board a train about 12 noon, but remained at the depot two hours, many citizens crowded on the platform. Again, the spirits of old soldiers who had known campaigns in earnest, and who now looked on, were depressed to see infantry—nothing yet but infantry,[51] bound for the front. These were not going without all necessary equipments, as the volunteer militia had gone, but they were without canteens to carry water. Those articles, indispensable to men on a campaign, had been reserved in some army store, not at Hamilton. Thus in addition to the delay caused at Chippewa, on the morrow, to give the 10th Royals breakfast, they having come from Toronto without provisions, without haversacks, “contrary to my orders” (Colonel Peacocke’s report,) the 16th regulars marched without water canteens; “the day was very hot.” (same report.) And the men of the regulars, like the volunteers were thirsty, exhausted, and did not reach the vicinity of the enemy so soon by some hours as otherwise they might.

But strangest want of all; though there is in the Province a Quarter-master General’s Department, whose special business is, with other things special, to provide commanding officers with maps of the country, and though county maps abounded in the Canada common schools, and Normal School at Toronto, Colonel Peacocke, in command of the forces in the Niagara District went out without a map showing the roads upon which he would have to move the troops. He had a small chart of the Niagara peninsula, but it did not show the Welland roads. This want of a good map from which to question his advisers; with want of breakfast for 10th Royals, want of water canteens for both regulars and volunteers, delayed the advance of the main force from Chippewa. Colonel Booker had no map of any kind, nor paper of his own on which to write a message, which want became an event next day.

But O’Neil in command of the Fenians had a map of the roads. And also writing paper for his messages.

The narrative and narrator were at the Hamilton depot a minute ago. The absence of such a common-place element in field equipment as the best map which the Province could afford the commanders not then known; yet the apparent absence of artillery, causing a tremulous apprehension that the volunteers who had gone hours before, and the regular infantry now on board to go, were to be exposed to the hazard of——

No; not this branch of the army of the front. Here came the Royal Artillery from Toronto; the Armstrong guns on platform cars; horses in vans; men guarding guns, sentries guarding horses; detachment of 47th[52] regulars. Hurrah! Loud was the shouting on the Hamilton depot platform. Cheerful the military responses.

The time was 2.30 p. m. June 1st. The Toronto train with two engines went ahead. Hamilton train followed. After a delay at St. Catherines the two trains reached Suspension Bridge, Niagara river, about 6 p. m.

Another view of this large subject, public safety of Canada, lies in the pathway of this narrative which cannot be here avoided. Let us look it in the face.

decorative line


American newspapers had a “grim satisfaction” at seeing Canada “scared.” Assertion that Canadians, as a people, during the American civil war sympathised warmly with the legitimate government and loyal citizens of the United States. Extracts from “Canada a Battle Ground,” published 1862. And, “Where is Canada Drifting?” 1863.

Though this chapter may seem to interrupt the story of Canadian operations of defence, its matter forms an integral part of the larger field of circumstances which gave character to those operations. The Fenian invasion only became possible by sufferance of American popular opinion; and that was widely, deeply distempered, as regarded the British American Provinces and Great Britain, A full, true account of the Fenian invasion, cannot be given without the writer adverting to that distemper, speaking, as he believes he is about to do, for five-sixths of the whole people of Canada, and for the true national opinion of the British Islands.

The two following paragraphs are from a journal of New York called the Citizen. The first purports to be the conclusion of a statement made by an officer of the United States army.

“The mistake of the Fenians was, that they allowed too much talking and writing about their contemplated movements. They should have collected all their men and material along the frontier—their equipments were plentiful and good—without allowing one word to leak out of what[53] they were doing. This, taught by experience, they promise to do next Fall; and if so their success cannot be doubtful.”

The next is the comment of the Editor of the Citizen, who is styled General Halpine, reprinted in Canadian papers, August 3rd, 1866, with the italics as given here.

“The foregoing remarks we commend to the attention of all American citizens who are not enamored with the course of England and Canada toward the United States during the late rebellion. Here was an opportunity to have avenged the wrongs of the British pirate vessels without costing the American Government one dollar. Here the Canadians might have been allowed to realize the scoundrelism of their conduct in sheltering the raiders of St. Albans, and the yellow fever and assassination conspirators. What Mr. Seward may think about it, we do not know; but are well satisfied a majority of the American people regret that the Fenian flag is not to-day floating over the steeples of a captured Montreal.”

The next two paragraph’s are reprinted from the Buffalo Courier of June 1st, but written on the previous day. Both of them are texts:

“It will be seen by reference to an advertisement, that the collector of this port has issued instructions, forbidding any vessel to clear between the hours of 9 a. m. and 4 p. m., without inspection of her cargo by officers of the custom house, and peremptorily interdicting the departure of vessels at all between the hours of 4 p. m. and 9 a. m., until instructions have been received from the Secretary of the Treasury. It is more than probable that the Fenians are endeavoring to obtain transportation to some point, audit is quite certain that they will be very closely watched, and find it very difficult to leave without discovery.

“Our neighbours over the border may be pardoned for indulging in a little excitement under the circumstances; but they claim to be prepared for the worst, and ready to welcome the invaders. There will be no violation of the neutrality laws if our authorities can prevent it; but, looking back two or three years, to the time when Buffalonians were in hourly expectation of Confederate soldiers from Canada, we can ‘phancy the phelinks’ of Victoria’s loyal subjects. We don’t wish them any ill; but a little healthy scaring won’t do them any harm. So soon does time make all things even.”

I permit the last paragraph to be reprinted to remark, that it was in the month of the invasion, but one of hundreds, published in the United States expressing, what the writers termed a “grim satisfaction” that Canadians were now experiencing a return of the evil wishes they gave American citizens during the war of 1861-65. This allegation, was[54] not true. It was the opposite of truth. The widest circulated journals in both the Canadas, and a largely predominating majority of the male adult population of Canada West, who held any political opinions, were throughout the war sympathizers with the legitimate national government of the United States, and were by rational opinion and natural instinct, abhorrent of the Southern insurgents, who, though enjoying co-equal rights with their fellow citizens of the North, and enjoying the privilege of a free press and freedom of speech to discuss public questions, had plunged the great American nation into the horrible calamities of civil war. And added to this numerical majority of political male adults, were the non-political, and all the women and children of the Province, who were guiltless of evil thoughts towards Americans, yet whose risk of life, alarm, terror and plundered homesteads, while fleeing to the woods, the wilderness, to escape the Fenians, were a “grim satisfaction” to some portion of the American newspaper mind.

But this is not all the denial. It is not true that any inhabitants of Canada, political or non-political, sympathizers with the national integrity and lawful authority of the United States or with the rebellion of the slave-owners, were parties to Confederate warfare based in Canada against the Federal States. The Canadian government and people at much cost and inconvenience in 1864 and 1865, posted forces of Militia Volunteers along the frontier to prevent American rebel refugees, resident in Canada, from making raids across the boundary line.

I might be more explicit and elaborate on this matter, which so intimately affects the two great nationalities who in common speak the English language in North America, but for the present refer to a book entitled “Canada a battle ground, by Alexander Somerville” (present writer) published early in 1862. In that publication the sympathy of Canadians, for the lawful government of the United States was asserted, and the estrangement which painfully occurred, foreshadowed. Mr. Seward, in reference to Canada being annexed to the States, writing in 1856, before he was Secretary of State had said “All Southern stars must set though many times they rise again with diminished lustre. But those which illuminate the pole remain for ever shining, for ever increasing in splendour.” To which the author of “Canada a Battle Ground” rejoined in 1862, page 24.


“Remark. It is belief in that bright destiny of Northern free nations which binds Britain, Canada, and other Colonies together. They will not separate. For Britain to willfully pluck her Empire in pieces to set up new nations in conformity to some theory of magnanimity, is an offence to the simplest principles of political philosophy. Were Canada to demand separation, and obtain it; or were she cut adrift, the inevitable fate of absorption, by her more powerful neighbour, and extinction of political existence, would follow. The integrity and perennial vigour of the British empire should be the lofty political faith of all Conservatives and rational Reformers whether at home or in the colonies. And they who desire the permanence of British stability, or deserve the personal safety and freedom guaranteed by imperial laws, and by institutions at once venerable, and youthfully elastic in their adaptability to new circumstances, must by a logical necessity—if they hold any settled conservative principle—cherish a sympathy for other free nations, and hold in abhorrence a rebellious appeal to arms to overturn constitutional government.

“New complications may occur between Britain and France, as well as between Canada and America. A recurrence of excitement about French invasion may any day arise with still deeper perplexities than at any time before. The Legislative Chamber at Paris has just been told by a noble member, a legitimist, not a Napoleonist, and so much the worse, that the thirteen hundred millions of francs, spent on the Crimean war would have carried the French army to London. The British uneasiness of 1858 ripened public sentiment in favour of an auxiliary army of volunteers. Other ‘tyrannicide’ pamphlets, as atrocious as that of 1858, may issue from London and inflame France. Again, the ‘French Colonels’ may demand permission of the Emperor, as in that year, to ‘hunt conspirators in their London dens.’

“In that hypothesis of complex difficulties, the Engineers and Guards, the Royal Artillery and regiments of the British Line, grandly efficient in quality, but inadequate in number even now, may be recalled to save the venerated soil of Britain from the track of invasion. But should they remain, as pray Heaven they may have no cause to go away nor any employment here; a mass levy of the male population will be an instant necessity in the event of war. The mass levy will be only a mob, yet indispensable, as a source from whence to draft selected levies, and to form working brigades to construct defences; to build Forts, for instance, beyond Toronto on the Yorkville side, and on the heights near Hamilton city, should Huron Lake and Georgian Bay be occupied by gun-boats and floating batteries from the arsenals at Chicago, and Green Bay; and Erie Lake, from docks and arsenals at Toledo and Buffalo. The sooner those Forts are raised after the enemy is at Georgian Bay, at Suspension Bridge, at Port Dover, Port Colborne and Port Dalhousie, the sounder may Toronto and Hamilton sleep in bed, if they can sleep at all.

“Concentrated on one point, or distributed to distant places in obedience[56] to the exigencies of strategy, the rural aggregations of the mass levy, and the rural regiments of militia, while defending towns and cities from hostile occupation and ravage, may be told of their own undefended homesteads laid in ashes; barns plundered and pastures cleared of cattle; women and children fleeing to the wilderness distracted, or dying on the cinders of the homes, in which they live happily this day, believing that none dare make them afraid.

“And those aggregations of militia and volunteers, and the mass levy, in this newspaper-made war, may be told of such atrocities, when absent on the frontier service, or may see them after the occurrence. If they do, the fiercest spirits in Canada, not few in number, will volunteer with all the vehemence of revenge; or they may, in desperate frenzy, form expeditions on their own account, to make reprisal on the towns and country opposite. Offended humanity there, which is now as innocent of political feuds or evil intention to Canada, as any non-political farmer and his wife and baby on this side, will in turn cry for a reciprocity of vengeance. Patriotism on that side will be crime on this: the patriotism of Canada will be crime beyond the frontier. They who are least successful in devastation and in victory, will on their Fast days, pray to have a due sense of sin, and better success. The side which enjoys the highest satisfaction for defeats avoided, and battles won, will proclaim a day for thanksgiving and sky-rockets. And what wonder if Eternal Justice should leave them all to the consummation of their own wrath? The only warrant for hope, that they may not be utterly forsaken of merciful Heaven, rests on this; that they who are exposed the most to suffer such calamities are the least guilty in provoking war.

“On the frontier homes of Canada, two thousand miles of war-track. One thousand miles open to attack on the frontier of the States. On the one side and the other, three thousand miles of war, among cities, towns, hamlets, homesteads; tracks of plunder in the mansions of the wealthy; houses of the poor; iron safes of the merchants; strong vaults of the banks. Tracks of battle and of marching armies on fields of summer greenness; on harvests of ripe wheat. Tracks of blood on three thousand miles of death-bed snow.

“War-tracks of wreck, vessels and canals all a wreck, on lake, river and canal navigation. Mutual destruction along the frontier lines of railway, American and Canadian—populated Canada nearly all a frontier as yet.

“Locomotive engines, offspring of genius more godlike than human, now carrying civilization through the primeval forests, dispensing the elements of social happiness as they go, these, compelled to be their own executioners.

“The wheels of Human Progress are reversed. Viaducts broken down[57] on this side the frontier and on that. Flying bridges of international amity now spanning the torrent at Niagara; or leviathans of the ferries, breasting the rivers in calm or storm or floods of crashing ice, at Sarnia, Windsor, Erie Ferry, Kingston, Prescott, and other passages of friendly traffic and social courtesies—all a wreck. And noblest victory of science, the monumental bridge at Montreal, each of its four-and-twenty pillars a monument, that overthrown; or besieged and defended as a bulwark of the fair city which with good reason, dreads to be captured.

“Barrenness on the fields; emptiness in the granaries of Canada; much of the soil untilled, little sown; husbandmen in the war; wives and families scattered; and a pitiful harvest to reap. The peopled country being nearly all frontier, in Upper Canada, the farmers in those days, or months, for years, happily all a hypothesis as yet, are defending not ploughing.—They march to the battle which was expected yesterday; or counter-march to that which is expected to-day; or they are harassed by sleepless nights on picket and forced marches to meet a fresh invasion expected next week, or next month, yet which may come this night. Canada clems with hunger while her enemy is abundantly supplied from the interior of the Union and the prolific North-western States.

“Granaries which supplemented deficient harvests in Britain and France are now devastated or blockaded on the seaboard. Britain is in peril of domestic convulsion by insufficiency of food and material for manufactures and external commerce. Continental Europe sharing the disorder. Austria, weakened by revolted provinces is strength to France. France, stronger, is nearer danger to the English coast, and that is new weakness and greater peril to Canada. Our regular troops, as already said, may be called suddenly home. The gun-boats expected may never come. France scorns neutrality and blockades, most probably. Her steam rams-of-war make grim fraternity with the iron rams of America, possibly. The commerce of two oceans and of all the seas and gulfs is plundered, burned or sunk by privateers. Electric telegraphs, ‘our own correspondents’ and unofficial army reports, by facilitating wreck and ruin, and keeping enemies well informed, are curses, no longer utilities. The fire-brand or revolutionary section of the Canada press, happily a very small and misguided minority of the whole, which in mockery of common sense retains the name of ‘conservative,’ or ‘moderate,’ yet has outraged moderation, and put rational conservatism to shame by spreading along and across the peaceful frontier the elements of discord and convulsion—takes its turn of ‘sentry go’ on dark and stormy nights, in sleet, or snow, or rain, or sultry summer heat; the provost-martial keeping the office, types and ink. And ‘special correspondents,’ sent from England are considerably abridged of the liberty which they used so indiscreetly in the United States, while lawful authority there struggled in all the majesty of national conservatism to suppress a rebellion less excusable than any ever known in[58] the history of the world. And so the war of invasion, which in the incongruities of party servitude the ‘moderate’ newspapers of Canada have done so much to realize as a fact of horrible proportions, goes on; the roar of ocean storms deafened by the roar of naval battles; Great Britain with hands full, yet grand even in that day of extremity, while Canada sweeps up the ashes of her homesteads and wipes her widowed eyes.

“Such may that war be which political lunacy, less or more apparent on both sides the boundary line, is now hastening to a hideous birth. Why are two nations of kindred race and language preparing for the world this great agony? The event advances to its fullness of time primarily and chiefly, because they are of kindred race and language.

“To describe the cities, towns, hamlets, and happy homesteads on both sides of the boundary line; the social and commercial intercourse of the two countries. To depict, as far as an uninspired pen may, their measureless resources of natural wealth—all pleading for peace. To foreshadow as far as a non-prophetic writer may presume, the nature of the differences from which they may drift into a conflict of mutual devastation. To illustrate the practical elements of military discipline and strength by reference to changed circumstances of social and political life in new communities. To relate incidents of British campaigns, victories, defeats, retreats, army panics, and the difficulties of the greatest generals in all wars, as a study indispensable in Canada, where the new militia of this year, 1862—fifty thousand undisciplined men not yet obtained, are proposed to do what fifty thousand veteran troops continuously in the field, might fail to do—defend Canada against an army of the United States, now trained or being trained, to arms, should it be directed at once against all accessible landing places on her vastly extended frontier.

“To ask by the logic of political affinities, that all loyal subjects who can appreciate the freedom and stability of Britain, should extend a lively sympathy to the United States, now struggling in the majesty of a grand conservatism to consolidate civil and religious liberty with an enduring nationality; a result, which only Britain, of all other nations in the world, has practically achieved. To treat of those things; to contribute to the safety of Canada, and like a drop added to the mighty St. Lawrence, river of the life of North America, to contribute my driblet to the well-being of the British empire, and to the happiness of peaceful nations. That is the object of the work now in the reader’s hand.”

Battle of Bull’s Run. That was still a topic of popular conversation when “Canada a Battle Ground” was written. Of that, it was remarked; p. 59,

“It would have been to the advantage of international amity if Mr. Russell of the Times had seen and described the actual battle of Manassas[59] alias Bull’s Run, which, while it lasted, was a valiant conflict, carried on by troops, on the Government side, famishing for want of water and food, and unsupported by the necessary adjuncts of a campaign, all difficulties caused by a too early advance without the means of transport, and all aggravated by the battle occurring in a thickly wooded country. Killed and wounded at Bull Run, 18 per cent of all engaged, in five hours. Killed and wounded at Waterloo, in the year 1815, 24 per cent of all engaged of British and Allies, in twelve hours. The defeated veterans ran six times farther from Waterloo, than the defeated troops at Bull Run.”

Truths about Battles—Wellington and Waterloo. Even Generals in command can only make a guess at the incidents of battle. Civilian correspondents, viewing the smoke from afar, can tell nothing but by hearsay. Nor do Generals find it desirable to publish all occurrences in their dispatches. A historian having applied to Wellington for a full account of Waterloo, that he might exactly describe it, the great General replied as follows:—“You cannot write a true history of the battle without including the faults and misbehavior of part of those who were engaged, and whose faults and misbehaviour were the cause of material losses. Believe me, that every man you see in a military uniform is not a hero; and that although in the account given of a general action, such as that of Waterloo, many instances of individual heroism must be passed over unrelated, it is better for the general interests to leave those parts of the story untold than to tell the whole truth.


“Victory is not always a certainty even with the ablest Generals in command of the best troops. Many unreflective admirers of Wellington, military men as well as civilians, have asserted that he never engaged in battle but with the certainty of success. He has himself affirmed the contrary, and what he said should be treasured as words of caution to over confident officers in command of armies or detachments. Writing to Sir Charles Stuart, British Envoy at Lisbon, in March, 1811, previous to a new campaign, he said:—“I have but little doubt of success; but as I have fought a sufficient number of battles to know that the result of any one of them was not certain, even with the best arrangements, I am anxious that the Government should adopt preparatory arrangements and take out of the enemy’s way those persons and their families who would suffer if they were to fall into the enemy’s hands.”

Where was Canada drifting in 1863?—The following passage from the Canadian Illustrated News of May, 16, 1863, was widely reprinted in British newspapers, its sentiments meeting the popular British opinion of that time, as it expressed the opinions of the press and people of Canada with but few exceptions. It is given here that Americans who peruse this Book of the Fenian invasion, may see that sympathy for the[60] people who were loyal to the legitimate authority in the United States was in Canada a fact in the years of the war, not an after-thought in this year of the Fenian trouble, 1866, as some of them now allege. One of the exceptions just noted, a Brantford paper, had jeered at the American army then on the Potomac; and spoke lightly of a rupture which it said, “might occur between England and the Federal States at any time.” A rejoinder of rebuke by the present writer, which accorded with the popular voice of Canada, was in these terms, necessarily now abbreviated:

“‘May lead at any time to an open rupture.’ And what might that be to Brantford? Read the selections from the report of the committee of Congress on page 4 of this journal. ‘An open rupture’ means the probable sequences of war; the stoppage of all through traffic on the Buffalo and Lake Huron railroad, whose central works are at Brantford. It means the enemy’s occupation or bombardment of Goderich town from Lake Huron. It means the approach of an army of invasion from Buffalo and Port Dover, and all the ports on the north shore of Lake Erie towards Brantford and Hamilton; and a battle perhaps the bloodiest in the annals of time, the Thermopylæ of Canada fought on the banks of the Grand River near the village of Caledonia, or between that village and the lake shore, but more probably in and around Brantford town. Then will every brick of that place be battered to rubbish heaps, in the battle which decides which army shall hold the key-ground of Canada West. The key-ground of Canada West extends from the Grand River below Caledonia, by way of Brantford to Paris, and northerly to Guelph; from thence to Toronto eastward, and to London westward. The three railways, Buffalo and Lake Huron, Great Western, and Grand Trunk, will be kept open to the last extremity, for though we may be terribly tried, Canada will submit willingly,—never.

“I will not describe in these columns the probable disposition of forces. I direct the reader’s eye through the curtain of the future to take that one glimpse, because of the fervency of a terrible apprehension that the wilful negligence of the Government of Canada to organize, or provide means for organizing a defensive force, may leave the Province to the appalling hazard of seeing a time of war with insufficiency of means to resist the invasion at the beginning.

“What, to Great Britain, are the aspects of the contingency of an ‘open rupture’ or Roebuck’s ‘declaration of war?’ War with the United States, the Southern blockade broken, and secession achieved, involves either the defence of Canada by all the might of the Mother country or abandonment. Abandonment means, the confiscation of every man’s estate, every child’s heritage.

“Then we may see Alabamas playing havoc on the wrong side. The[61] sordid traitors to their Queen and country who, in 1862 and 1863, have built them on the Mersey and the Clyde, in breach of British neutrality, standing accursed in the presence of the British Empire immersed in the three-fold baptism of convulsion famine and pestilence, weird offspring of havoc and of war.

“Such, Mr. Roebuck, of Sheffield, would be the probable result of your crazy counsels. Such, Mr. Laird, of Birkenhead, will possibly be the early convulsion of nations in which your sordid iniquity is preparing to plunge the British Empire.

“And you, the suicidal section of the newspaper press of Canada, happily a minority of the whole, mocking common sense by retaining the otherwise respectable name of ‘conservative,’ outraging all moderation in blindly, prodigally goading to implacable anger our next-door national neighbour, struggling as that great nation has been during the last two years, in the noblest efforts that could engage the sympathy of conservatives—the conservation of nationality, the repression of internal rebellion—what of you in that day which I have depicted; in that conflagration which you will have contributed to kindle? you will stand, not as Cassandra stood, in frantic joy at the havoc of your torch, but you will be whiffed out, extinguished in the dread convulsion of this distracted Province, your types and presses in the custody of the provost-martial. That is where Canada is drifting to.”—Alexander Somerville, ‘Whistler at the Plough.’

American journalists—orators—statesmen. Such were the sentiments of Canadians towards the United States, with only the small exceptions indicated in the years of the war. Some of you now enjoy, what you term a “grim satisfaction” at the thought of the women and children of Canada being exposed to ravage, plunder, murder, who in no way offended you. And the large majority of men who felt your cause to be theirs—the cause of constitutional freedom, national stability, true conservatism, you are grimly satisfied because they are now, or but lately were, exposed to the contingencies of invasion. History will judge that you cruelly wrong this Province. And Almighty God whom you worship, is witness, that the people of Canada, as a people never did you wrong, never spoke of you but in friendliness.

Note for to-day—While this sheet is passing through the press intelligence from Britain informs Canada that the new conservative government comprehends and will act on a just conception of conservative philosophy towards the United States. In society the first characteristic of a gentleman is courtesy towards his neighbors. In international policy the first duty of true conservatism is promotion of friendship with other nations. August, 1866.

decorative line



Colonel Peacocke’s advance to Chippewa on June 1st. His march next day. And the day after. Lieut.-Colonels Booker and Dennis. Night of June 1st, and morning of the 2nd.

We are now arrived at the morning of June 2nd. In the Niagara District the first act of the Fenian Invasion being in progress Colonel Peacocke is looked to as the leading actor in the operations. Around him the main forces for defence and repulsion of the enemy have gathered. On him expectation rests. A senior officer Colonel Lowry of the 47th will presently appear, but not yet. Colonel Peacocke’s official report as written in his own terms is demanded by the pretentions of this narrative to fulness, and fidelity to truth. A chapter describing his advance and halts from Suspension Bridge to Fort Erie to be followed by that report, and the report by comments on his movements and strategy would occupy too many of these pages. It is convenient therefore to introduce his official statement first. This is it:

Colonel Peacocke’s Report; To Major-General G. Napier, C. B. Commanding 1st Military District, Toronto, C. W.

Fort Erie, 4th June, 1866.

Sir.—I have the honor to make the following Report of my operations in the field since the 1st inst. In compliance with a telegram received from you, I joined at 2 o’clock, at Hamilton, with 200 men of my own battalion, the force proceeding from Toronto to St. Catherines, consisting of one battery of Royal Artillery, under the Command of Lieut.-Col. Hoste, C. B., and 200 men of the 47th Regt, under the command of Major Lodder. You had also placed under my command, for the defence of the frontier, 7 companies of the volunteer force stationed at St. Catherines, under the command of Lieut.-Col. Currie, the Queen’s Own regiment of volunteers at Port Colborne, and the 13th Battalion volunteer militia, commanded by Lieut.-Col. Booker, at Dunnville; and you had informed me that I should be reinforced at St. Catherines by 800 men. Your instructions were that I was to make St. Catherines my base, to act according to my own discretion, to advance on Clifton or elsewhere, and to attack the enemy as soon as I could do so with a force sufficient to ensure success. On arriving at St. Catherines, I received telegrams to the effect that the Fenians, about 800 strong, were marching on the Suspension Bridge and were actually two or three miles from Chippewa. I pushed on immediately to the Bridge, leaving orders for all troops arriving at St. Catherines to follow me as soon as possible. On reaching the Bridge, I heard that the enemy had not yet reached[63] Chippewa, and being anxious to save the bridge over the creek, I pressed on with the 400 infantry, preceded by a pilot engine—the battery marching by road in consequence of the reported want of platform accommodation at the Chippewa station. (1.) It was dark when we arrived at Chippewa.

We bivouacked there that night. I there received numerous reports from scouts sent out by Mr. Kirkpatrick, the reeve. They agreed generally in the statement that the Fenians had entrenched themselves roughly a little below Fort Erie, at Frenchman’s Creek, and had sent on a party towards Chippewa. Their strength was variously estimated from 800 to 1,500. I resolved on effecting a junction with the force at Port Colborne, to which place I had already ordered the battalion from Dunnville. With this object in view, I selected Stevensville as the point of junction, and having explained to Captain Akers, of the Royal Engineers, who accompanied the force from Toronto, what my object was, and that this point was chosen, because judging from information received we could not be anticipated at it by the evening. (2.) I despatched that officer at 12 o’clock, to communicate with the officer commanding at Port Colborne, to make him conversant with my views and to meet me at Stevensville between ten and eleven o’clock next morning, informing him that I should start at six o’clock. I continued to send out scouts during the night, and to receive reports which made me believe that my information was correct, and that the enemy had not left their camp. At about two o’clock, I received a telegram from Colonel Booker, despatched before he was joined by Captain Akers, informing me that he had given orders to attack the enemy at Fort Erie. (3.) At about half past three I received another one from Captain Akers, despatched after he had reached Port Colborne, saying the enemy was at French Creek, and proposing that Lt.-Col. Booker’s force should advance on Fort Erie and join us at Frenchman’s Creek.

At about 4.30 o’clock, I was joined by the eleven companies of volunteers from St. Catharines, formed into a battalion 350 strong, under Lt.-Col. Currie, and by the expected reinforcement under Lt.-Col. Villiers, of the 47th Regiment, which consisted of 150 men of the 47th, and of the 10th Royals, 415 strong, under Major Boxall. The volunteers, being unprovided with the means of carrying provisions and of cooking them had not been able to comply with an order I had sent the previous evening, that they were to bring provisions in their haversacks. I saw that the absolute necessity of furnishing them with some would cause delay, and I telegraphed to Port Colborne that I should be one hour later in starting. (5). We marched at 7 o’clock, leaving the Garrison Volunteer Battery, from St. Catharines, under Capt Stoker, to hold Chippewa. The day was oppressively hot, and our guide took us by a road much longer than necessary. (6). When about three miles from Stevensville, at about 11 o’clock, I received a few words from Lieut.-Col. Booker, written at 7.30 o’clock, to the effect that he had just received my telegram, but that he was attacked in force by the enemy at a place three miles south of Stevensville, (7).[64] At the same time, I received information that he had retired from Ridgway. I encamped a mile further on, at a small place called New Germany, across a road leading due south to Stevensville. At about 4 o’clock, having gathered information that the enemy was falling back on Fort Erie, I left everything behind which would encumber the men and started to follow them. At the moment of starting, we received an important accession to strength by the arrival of the Cavalry Body Guard of His Excellency the Governor-General, 55 strong, under Major Denison. (8.) We marched until dark, and halted two and a half miles from Fort Erie, the men sleeping on their arms, due precautions being observed. During the night, I sent out scouts to collect information. It appeared that the Fenians, on retiring, had posted themselves at once near the old Fort. Some said they had been reinforced, some that they were attempting to re-cross into the United States. I also heard that three companies of the 60th Rifles had arrived at our vacated camp at New Germany and that a force had reached Black Creek; also that 10 more companies of volunteer militia had arrived at Port Colborne. The Volunteer Garrison Battery, which I had left at Chippewa, joined me during the night.

Anxious to prevent the escape of the Fenians, I sent word to the officers commanding at those places that I was going to attack Fort Erie, and asked when they would be able to co-operate. Subsequently, fresh reports of attempts of the Fenians to escape having reached me, I determined to advance at once. We were about to move when Lt.-Col. the Hon. John Hillyard Cameron came into camp and informed me that the Fenians had escaped. The intelligence caused great mortification in my little force. I desired Major Denison to scour the country and enter the town. He sent me a message that he was informed that there was still a body of Fenians about the old Fort. We at once marched in that direction, skirmishing through the woods. Major Denison soon informed us that they really had escaped. As many scouts and farm people assured us they had not escaped, we took a long sweep through the woods. On our right on Lake Erie, a few stragglers were seen, and four were reported shot. On entering the old fort, traces were found of its having been recently occupied. During the short operation which extended only over forty hours, the troops under my command underwent very great fatigue, and bore it with great cheerfulness. I received all possible support and co-operation from officers of all ranks. The conduct of the men was excellent. A great number of private individuals rendered me service in many ways, and the inhabitants generally exhibited a good and loyal feeling. Mr. Swinyard, Manager of the Great Western Railroad, gave me the benefit of his services in person. He placed at my disposal the resources of the railway; and the officials on the line exerted themselves to render these available. I have the honor to enclose a report of Lieut.-Col. Booker, of his operations on the 2nd inst.

Col. and Lt.-Col. 16th Regt.


Notes to Colonel Peacocke’s Report. 1. “The reported want of platform accommodation.” Since the time and the events, persons have spoken largely as to how quickly they would have provided platforms had they been consulted. The Colonel could not consult persons of whose existence he was uninformed. He acted according to the best information.

2. and 3. I had written a criticism on the extraordinary, the unmilitary procedure of Captain Akers, Lieut.-Colonels Dennis and Booker, in taking upon themselves to alter the plans of their superior, Colonel Peacocke, who alone was responsible in the campaign, and from whom they were bound to take instructions; but a statement of Major Denison having been published as these sheets are passing to the press, some portions of it are here cited.

Major Denison’s account of the campaign is lucid, and soldier-like. But he has committed errors in his description of the combat at Limestone Ridge. They are serious errors. He is not known to have consulted any officer of the 13th, at Hamilton, as to matters of fact affecting that battalion, but has followed stories floating about Toronto, among certain of the “Queen’s Own,” that are not true. He expresses acknowledgments for information to Lieut.-Col. Booker, which is about enough to declare against the fidelity of his narrative. That person was not at any time in a position to know much of what was done in the front. In matters within his own knowledge he has not told the whole truth. Major Denison having had close intercourse on the advance to Fort Erie with Colonel Peacocke, his remarks may be accepted as interpreting the mind of that officer. They also accord with what the Colonel related to me at Fort Erie village soon after the incidents occurred. Says Major Denison, referring to June 1, at Chippewa:

History of the Fenian Raid, p. 30. “Colonel Peacocke then made arrangements for the junction of his forces with Lieut.-Colonel Booker’s. At the time he decided upon the hour of meeting, the greater portion of his force was yet to arrive, and not knowing what hour in the morning or in the night they might come, he was unable to name an earlier hour to start than 6 a. m. which would make the hour of his arrival at Stevensville between 10 and 11 a. m. Not having a map showing the roads about Port Colborne and between there and Stevensville, and being unable in Chippewa to obtain accurate information as to the roads, or the condition of them, and having received at the same time very conflicting information as to the movements of the enemy, he found it was impossible for him to lay down the route Lieut.-Col. Booker should take, or[66] the hour at which he should start, in order to meet him at Stevensville between 10 and 11 a. m. Under these circumstances he thought it desirable to send an officer across to Lieut.-Col. Booker who should be thoroughly acquainted with his plan, and would be able in case of doubt or difficulty, to consult with Lieut.-Col. Booker and see that the spirit of the plan was carried out even if the details were varied.

“Acting upon this idea, Colonel Peacocke chose Capt. Akers R. E. for this service and explained his plan and the reasons which induced him to adopt it; but with reference to the roads he left it entirely optional with Lieut.-Col. Booker and Capt. Akers to choose a road after making thorough inquiries as to the most available route, and the route most remote from the position of the enemy—going even so far as to tell Capt. Akers that they might go along the Welland railway, northerly to a point opposite Stevensville and then march due east to that place; or take the Grand Trunk railway for some miles, and then cut across the country in a diagonal direction to the point of junction. Ridgeway was never mentioned as a point to leave the railway; and there is little doubt that with a correct map, Colonel Peacocke would have positively forbidden it—Ridgeway being nearer Fort Erie than Stevensville, and the further march being consequently brought nearer to the enemy’s position than the occasion called for. From information received since, there is no doubt that the shortest and safest route lay from Sherk’s crossing across the country to Stevensville.”

Yes, that was the route. But Lieut.-Col. Booker had no map; not even the poor pretence of one which the officer in chief had. Lieut.-Col. Dennis may have known the roads but his head seems to have been deluded with the idea of independent command. Booker in his official report contradicts the chief direct. He says: “In accordance with instructions received from Colonel Peacocke, through Captain Akers I proceeded by a train at 5 a. m. to Ridgeway station.” “Ridgeway station,” says Major Denison “was never mentioned as a point to leave the railway.”

In his statement to the Court of Inquiry Lieut.-Col. Booker again names Ridgeway as the place to which he went, but went with hesitation. His hesitation, however, did not grow out of a doubt whether his superior intended him to go there, but whether he and Dennis and Akers should not go off on an expedition of their own to French Creek, leaving Colonel Peacocke to his own fortunes. Says Lieut.-Col. Booker [Court of Inquiry]. “On arrival of Captain Akers, 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 Capt. Akers left him at midnight. It then seemed necessary to enquire[67] 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.”

Had they followed their “later and more reliable information,” they would have reached Frenchman’s creek eight hours after the Fenians left it. Colonel Peacocke did not know precisely which route his enemy might pursue inland towards the Welland canal, but strategical prescience led him to provide against the Fenian advance in that direction, and he planned accordingly. The event proved that he had judged correctly.

A strange predicament was that of Colonel Peacocke. At Chippewa his advisers and scouts gave contradictory information. His subordinates dividing the command of a distant detachment, set themselves up as superior to him. Major Denison tells the story, thus:

“We must go back a little and give an account of what happened at Port Colborne until the arrival of Capt. Akers. It will be remembered that Lieut.-Col. Dennis was sent there on the morning of Friday with 400 men of the Queen’s Own, and directed to occupy and, if necessary, entrench a position there and wait for further orders before an attack was made. He arrived at Port Colborne about noon and hearing that the enemy were not very near the village, billeted the men to enable them to get their dinners, and sent out scouts during the afternoon to discover the position of the Fenians. The day and evening was occupied in this way. In the evening about 11 p. m. Lieut.-Col. Booker arrived with his battalion, the 13th from Hamilton, and being the senior officer took command of the whole force.

“At 10 p. m. Mr. Graham, the collector of customs at Fort Erie, arrived with information of the exact position of the Fenian camp. This was at Frenchman’s creek a mile below the Lower Ferry, on Mr. Newbigging’s farm. He had been in their camp at 6 o’clock that evening, and was of opinion there was not more than 700 men, and that as they had been drinking hard during the day they would certainly fall an easy prey to any force that might attack them. Lieut.-Col. Dennis’s orders were positive not to attack until further orders; the same orders were binding on Lieut.-Col. Booker, and consequently they could not move to the attack which Mr. Graham urged them on to make, and which he stated would certainly be successful. In order to induce them to move at once to the attack, he suggested that, probably, Colonel Peacocke was endeavoring to keep the volunteers back in order that the regulars should have all the credit of capturing the Fenians.”


Mr. Graham spoke only as nine civilians out of ten would have done, in the same position of time and circumstances. Since then the complaint of the nine out of ten has been that this force of volunteers was precipitated by General Napier and Colonel Peacocke into a position of peril, where they had to prematurely encounter the enemy in mortal combat, unsupported by artillery, unaided by cavalry. Yet they would have been in a worse predicament, by far, had they, equally without artillery and cavalry, been precipitated upon the Fenian field breast-works at Frenchman’s creek. It was Colonel Peacocke’s negative to that mad project which avoided that peril, and its probable disaster. Adherence to his orders to find the best and safest roads, where the Fenians were least likely to be met, in moving from Colborne to Stevensville to join him, would have avoided the premature conflict at Limestone Ridge.

But in this remark I write as they may do whose beloved sons, brothers, friends fell there, slain and wounded. In the larger aspect of a military event the conflict at Limestone Ridge is not to be mourned. On the contrary it has exalted the character of the Province.

“Whether any of the three” says Major Denison, that is, Akers, Dennis, or Booker, “had reflected on the propriety of moving a large force by rail through a wooded country at night, and through a section not properly reconnoitred, and in close proximity to an active enemy, does not appear in the official reports.”

Whether the three had an overflow of courage at Colborne before the hour of trial, or were only in their normal condition of heroes, held back and impatient of restraint, may never be known. But though each became separated from the other two in the operations of next day, each earned the distinction of avoiding, in a conspicuous hurry, the risk of captivity with the Fenians. Colonel Dennis when attacked at the village, ran down Niagara side, reached the house of Mr. Thomas, shaved off his beard, and changed his clothes and so escaped capture. Capt. Akers, by his own account, made tracks through the woods towards Port Colborne in a buggy, at the same time as Colonel Dennis shaved himself, that is about 2 p. m. Lieut.-Col. Booker had then reached Colborne from the battle of Limestone Ridge thirteen miles, much flurried.

The other marked passages in Colonel Peacocke’s report refer to the delay caused by want of haversacks with the volunteers, and the time at which he got a message from Lieut.-Col. Booker through Detective Armstrong.[69] This last falls to be noticed in next chapter but one. Major Denison says, referring to Chippewa, morning of June 2:

“Colonel Peacocke’s reinforcements were to join him sometime in the morning, and being anxious that there should be no delay in starting, he telegraphed back to Hamilton and St. Catharines directing that the reinforcements should bring with them a supply of cooked provisions, so that no delay should be occasioned by waiting to get breakfast for the men after they arrived. At about 4.30 a. m. the expected reinforcements came up and after being unloaded, Colonel Peacocke mentioned to the officers commanding that he should march at six o’clock, it being then nearly five. They at once objected on account of their men not having had any breakfast, and very little to eat the whole of the previous day, and they were unable to bring anything with them, as they were unprovided with haversacks in which to carry it.”

Severe animadversions have been directed against this commander for his having delayed on that morning to give his own regiment and other regulars breakfast, while the Hamilton, and Toronto Volunteers had marched to battle while fasting. It was the volunteers, newly arrived at Chippewa, not the regulars, for whom breakfast and delay were requisite. Whatever the degree of misfortune may have been, arising from that circumstance, it was directly traceable to the misjudged economy of the Provincial executive in not having provided equipments for volunteers suitable for the field and to the negligence of commanding officers, who preferred scrupulous attention to the inferior trifles of parade show, well enough in their way, but not vital to the soldier’s efficiency in fight, existence under privation. Two more passages are here materially important.

“Being unwilling to set out upon a very severe march, to finish probably with a severe battle, and through a country where it would be difficult to get food, Col. Peacocke decided it would be better to wait an hour to enable the men to get breakfast, and immediately telegraphed to Lieut.-Col. Booker to delay his march an hour. This message, did not reach him until he was engaged with the enemy. Had he started at the proper time he would have received the message before he left, for even to have reached Stevensville at 9.30 it was not necessary for him to leave Port Colborne until six. He was at the battle ground, three miles from Stevensville at 7.30; and if not interrupted would have reached Stevensville at 8.30, about an hour earlier than Capt. Akers mentioned, and two hours before Colonel Peacocke’s time of junction. This mistake of one hour led to his not receiving the message to delay, and therefore caused him to be really three hours too soon.

“It must not be forgotten that at the time Colonel Peacocke decided to[70] wait that there was no reason for him to fear any ill result from the delay. At that time he expected that a heavy battle would take place, before the Fenians would be driven out, and that instead of the object being to prevent them getting out of the country, the opinion of every one was, that the great difficulty would be to drive them out, and that he was right in proceeding cautiously with that object in view. At any rate he anticipated that the steamer (for which he had given orders to be employed) would have prevented their escape.”

In another passage the writer speaks thus, of the plans of Dennis, Booker and Akers, at Colborne in contravention of their chief at Chippewa;

“There was the commanding officer’s plan changed by his subordinates almost at the moment of execution. The three officers whom he had charged with the execution of his orders, even including the staff officer who carried them, coolly forming themselves into a mimic council of war, aided by a customs officer, and unitedly deciding upon a plan which has been previously shown to be absurd, a plan for cutting off the Fenian retreat to the east, but leaving the whole country open to them to the west, as well as uncovering the canal they were sent to protect.

“Again Lieut.-Col. Dennis’s instructions were to wait further orders before any attack was made; and yet Capt Akers says, he was anxious to move with the volunteers at once without arranging a junction with Colonel Peacocke. Capt. Akers was sent to go with Lieut.-Col. Booker, and consult and advise with him on Col. Peacocke’s plan, and assist him in carrying it out. Col. Dennis was sent to command the ‘Queen’s Own,’ and yet before receiving any answer from Col. Peacocke, both these officers, in disobedience to orders, went off in the tug to carry out their own plan.

“The only way in which their conduct can be accounted for is, that they were so confident that Col. Peacocke would at once fall in with their plan of operation in lieu of his own, that they never, for one moment, calculated that his answer would be in the negative. Being imbued with this idea it can readily be imagined that Capt. Akers would not be very particular in going into details and explaining minutely to Lieut.-Col. Booker the plan which they had both looked upon as virtually abandoned. It can also be conceived, even if Capt. Akers did enter minutely into the details of the plan laid down by Col. Peacocke, that Lieut.-Col. Booker believing that it was a useless precaution, would not give so close attention to it, or be able so clearly to remember it, as if he felt when he heard it he was about setting out to put it in execution.

“It also so happened, unfortunately, that Captain Akers, fearing the delays which often occur in the movements of a large number of men, as a matter of precaution directed them to start an hour earlier than they should, and to be an hour earlier at Stevensville, thinking that in all probability at least an hour would be lost in setting off, or on the march, and that if[71] they were before the time they might be kept back a little on the way. If he had staid with them to have kept them back, it would have been all right, but unfortunately he was away when he was wanted.

“Lieut.-Col. Dennis and Capt. Akers as stated in the report, without receiving any answer from Col. Peacocke, left Port Colborne about 4 a. m. in the tug ‘Robb’ which had at that time arrived taking with them the Welland garrison battery (but without cannon, these having been removed to Hamilton, and not then returned) under command of Capt. Richard F. King, and a few men of the Dunnville naval company under command of Capt. McCallum.

“After they had left Colborne Lieut.-Col. Booker received a telegram from Col. Peacocke directing him to adhere strictly to the first plan, the particulars of which had been carried to him by Capt. Akers.”

This telegram was in these words, “Chippewa 3.45 a. m. Have received your message of 3 a. m. I do not approve of it. Follow original plan. Acknowledge receipt of this. George Peacocke.” Major Denison continues:

“Lieut.-Col. Booker, therefore had set out upon his march without the assistance he should have received from Capt. Akers, and without the opportunity of referring to him for enlightenment on those parts of his instructions which he did not clearly understand.

“Having his men all ready in the cars to start, and having heard that the railway was clear as far as Fort Erie, he decided to go by train as far as Ridgeway, and to keep his men in the cars, or at least under arms for the short time he would have to delay before starting. Having his men thus all ready there occurred none of that delay which Capt. Akers had anticipated, and to provide against which he had named an earlier hour for starting. Being in the cars ready, and only waiting for a particular hour to arrive, it can readily be believed that he would be likely to start a little before the time rather than after it. However this may be, there is no doubt Lieut.-Col. Booker started at least as early as 5 a. m., an hour or more earlier than necessary. Immediately after the force had left a telegraph arrived from Col. Peacocke directing Lieut.-Col. Booker to delay his march for one hour, which would make his time of arrival at Stevensville between 11 and 12, cautiously feeling his way in the direction of the rendezvous, Mr. Stovin of the Welland railway seeing the importance of the message took a hand car and followed Lieut.-Col. Booker as fast as he could.”

The more exact fact is that Capt. McGrath, general manager of the Welland line, seeing the importance of the message took the hand car, Mr. Stovin with him, and proceeded about half way, five miles, when they saw[72] the train returning from Ridgeway after debarking the troops. Capt. McGrath stopped it by signal, and having a pressure of business on his own line returned with the train to Colborne. He directed Mr. Stovin to be exact in noting the time at which the telegram was delivered to Col. Booker, as he already foresaw through the various nature of the orders with an apparent desire to disobey them, that trouble would arise. The message was delivered at 7.30, when the action was just begun at the Ridge and not at 9.30 as stated by Lieut.-Col. Booker, “when the troops had been under a hot fire an hour and a half.” This telegram was addressed “to the officer commanding,” and said; “Be careful in feeling your way for fear obstacles should prevent a junction; if possible open communications with me. I will do the same. G. Peacocke.”

decorative line


Nineteenth Volunteer Battalion. Statement of occurrences which does not correspond with the official report of Colonel Peacocke, and historical narrative of Major Denison.

The nineteenth battalion of volunteers comprises the St. Catharines and Thorold companies. It is commanded by Lieut.-Col. the Hon. J. C. Currie, member of the legislative council. St. Catharines is situated about twelve miles from Clifton Suspension Bridge, both on G. W. Railway. Chippewa is five miles higher on Niagara shore with railway connection, the Erie and Ontario line. Col. Peacocke says, (official reports)

“On arriving at St. Catharines (about 4 p. m.) I received telegrams to the effect that the Fenians about 800 strong, were marching on Suspension Bridge and were two or three miles from Chippewa.”

I am informed, for the object of this full and true account of the Fenian Invasion, and enabled on authority the most reliable, to remark on Major Denison’s history, that he says nothing about the fact that until about 8 p. m., Friday, June 1, the village of Chippewa and important bridges were entirely unprotected. At 10 a. m. on Friday, ten hours sooner, the St. Catharines 19th volunteers, under Lieut.-Col. Currie, could have easily[73] been there 450 strong. It is now asked, why were they not sent there instead of the men kicking their heels on the street until half past 9 p. m.? The 19th at that hour, a day wasted, left St. Catharines with the detachment of 47th and 10th Royals, for Clifton (Suspension Bridge) and could have reached Chippewa that night at half past 11 o’clock. But instead of that being done they remained at Clifton in the cars until 4 a. m. next day. “Had they been allowed to go up the night before, the whole force under Colonel Peacocke could have left Chippewa at 3 or 4 a. m. on Saturday, and by going the direct road, would have reached Stevensville by 7 a. m. with ease.” [Letter from the 19th.]

As to the delay at Chippewa to enable the volunteers to breakfast [see Col. P.’s Rep. and extracts just given from Major Denison], it is stated on behalf of the 19th, that they did not take breakfast until they reached New Germany. There they partook of their own supplies, and shared them with both the royals and regulars.

At noon they reached New Germany and there remained until after 6 p. m. Col. Peacocke says he left this place at 4 p. m. Major Denison says Col. Peacocke at about 4 p. m. had positive intelligence, of the Fenians falling back on Fort Erie. “He immediately made arrangements to move in pursuit. It was about half past 5, when he started from New Germany.” And then says Major D. “Had this delay not occurred the Fenians in all probability could not have escaped.” Which delay? does he mean the time that elapsed between noon and 4 p. m.? or the time lost after 4 p. m.? He says: “it was particularly unfortunate that Col. Peacocke had not decided to move on Fort Erie three hours or so sooner.” On behalf of the Volunteer 19th it is said, the whole force remained at New Germany until after 6 p. m. “I cannot understand why we delayed unless Col. P. waited for reinforcements (see Lowry’s report.)” Looking to Col. Lowry’s report it does appear that Col. P. had telegraphed for assistance, and additional force arrived at New Germany after he had left. The superintendent of G. W. Railway told Col. L. at Hamilton, that Col. P. had twice telegraphed for reinforcements.

It may be reasonably suggested on behalf of Col. Peacocke, that at New Germany he neither knew the force of the Fenians, nor where they were, nor whether they had been augmented in strength by artillery. As it was, they had on that morning, though unknown to any British commander, from forty to fifty horses. They had cavalry men also, but no cavalry accoutrements.[74] The critics of Col. Peacocke are writing after the time and the occurrences when all is known. It is easy in that case to say what should have been done. But this suggestion only covers the time from 12 noon to 4 p. m. Why the loss of ninety minutes (Denison) or over two hours (authority of 19th) before starting when the locality of the Fenians became known at 4 p. m.

But the other question raised by the letter from the 19th battalion is more serious. Why were the forces, (they were all night in the cars at Clifton only five miles off,) not at Chippewa to advance to Stevensville at 3 or 4 a. m.? The delay for breakfast was meant well, but no breakfast rewarded the delay, at least for the 19th. None of these authorities tell why. Let me. The delay was for breakfast; the marching to New Germany without breakfast was from want of camp kettles to cook it. These were not up in time. The government was at fault. The St. Catharines authority says:

At pp. 52, 53, Major Denison gives the cause of our halt when within two and a half miles of Fort Erie. I have undeniable authority for saying that there were really no Fenians in the woods there referred to, nor had there been any for twenty-four hours before.

These woods were on Lots 8 and 9, R. and W. Bowens, fifth concession of Bertie. The Fenians had been on Newbigging’s farm less than two miles distant until the midnight preceding and entrenched there as related in this work. Col. Peacocke not knowing their number and resources was right in being cautious now that night had come. Yet, again, Why so late in getting there? The writer continues: “I do not deny that he and his troop (Denison) saw some men. But they were people of our own, who accompanied us to see the expected fight. This halt was most unfortunate. Then, as to the positions of the troops at page 54, he commits other errors.

“The 19th were the only men in line on the left of the road; but were covered by a company of the 16th, regulars, and by No. 7 of the 19th, as advanced skirmishers.” The statement of Major Denison is: “The 19th battalion, Lieut.-Col. Currie took up a similar position [in line] on the left of the road; in the rear of the 16th.”

There was a small creek close in front, and at a mile farther, Frenchman’s creek; both crossing Col. P’s line of march. “At this time,” says Major Denison, p. 54. “While I was close beside Col. Peacocke, a voice in the dark, said, ‘you can’t go down that way, sir.’ On looking closely[75] we saw that it was a farmer living about a quarter of a mile back, who had given us some information as we passed. Col. Peacocke asked him; ‘Why not?’ He answered, ‘The bridge is broken.’ The Colonel questioned him closely and he adhered to it positively that we could not get through. This information, together with the inability for the skirmishers to make their way through the woods (these were tangled bush and logs, the ground marshy and wet, p. 53). This decided Colonel Peacocke. With that report of a broken bridge; with darkness of night set in; with uncertainty of his enemy’s place and strength; with the possibility of an ambush in the woods, or at the broken bridge, he was fully justified in remaining as he did until daylight.”

The reader will keep in mind that the blame laid on this commander for that halt implies that he thereby permitted the Fenians to escape. This is no light charge. But the graver charge of his not advancing from Chippewa at 3 or 4 a. m. so as to reach Stevensville at 7 remains as the gentleman of the 19th has put it.

In Major Denison’s account of the line of march taken, and as Col. Peacocke related to me personally when in conversation at Fort Erie, there arose several circumstances of hinderance. There was the bad and devious road taken by the river side instead of the better and shorter direct way, through his relying on advisers and informants who seem to have led him up the river side to Black Creek, around windings and out of the way in order to drive the Fenians from their properties, or prevent their coming upon them. Mr. Tupper, a government constable resident at Fort Erie, has since told me that he was sent to inform Col. Peacocke and conduct him from Chippewa, but that his service was not accepted. Tupper says that Mr. Street M. P. P. told the Col. that he was an official person and reliable. But after seeing him at Fort Erie that officer had no recollection of him at Chippewa. Major Denison remarking on the unreliability of persons offering to be guides, relates that one bustling person, talking on Friday night at Chippewa told what he could accomplish in taking a message to Port Colborne if he had a horse. He was furnished with a horse, and the message committed to his care; what did he do? He rode to the Fenians, gave them the message and the horse too; himself also, perhaps, for he never again turned up.

We are now sufficiently informed on the aspect which the campaign presented on the morning of 2nd June; at Chippewa, where delay was caused because volunteer militia had come without haversacks without food;[76] at Ridgeway, where Col, Booker had arrived an hour before the time he should have been leaving Colborne; at Henry Angur’s farm, where the Fenian commander O’Neil had halted his force, while he sent scouts forward to see if British and Canadian troops were approaching in his direction.—With this sufficiency of information let us catch up to the gallant eight hundred sons of Toronto and Hamilton, cities; Caledonia and York villages, and march in their footsteps to the field of conflict.

decorative line


Combat on Limestone Ridge.

Lieut.-Col. Booker produced the following as having been written by him at Colborne after the arrival of Capt. Akers: “Mem. leave not later than 5.30, at 5 if bread be ready. Move to depot at Erie and wait till 7. If not communicated with by 7, move to Frenchman’s Creek. If NO by telegraph, disembark at Ridgeway, and move to Stevensville at 9.30. Send pilot engine to communicate with Lieut.-Col. Denison at Erie and with telegrams.”

About that bread. The reeve of Colborne offered to provide rations for the 13th if presented with a requisition. Booker said; “No; I think the least the municipality can do is to provide us with rations.” He did not then give a requisition. But bread and cheese for supper were procured. About three in the morning an officer went to him at the house of Mr. Pring, customs collector, and spoke of breakfast being requisite for the men before starting on the march. Lieut.-Col. Booker was then seated with a dish of hot beef-steak before him. He replied to the officer: “I am very tired. Go see what you can get from the reeve or any one in the village.” The officer, accompanied by the Quarter-master of the Toronto Rifles, went to the reeve’s house; knocked at the door; saw a window raised, and heard an angry reply to their request, “You got all the bread I had hours ago.” Then the reeve shut down his window, and they went elsewhere. That was the bread, the supply of which, Capt. Akers had made a condition in the time of marching. What bread? None. The Lieut.-Col. who had[77] his hot beef-steak as a foundation for the fatigues of the day, had presented no requisition, else the baker, being also reeve, would have readily complied with it. Booker says (Statement to Court of Inquiry)

“During the night at my request Major Skinner endeavoured 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.”

This is not true. It is of minor importance to other mis-statements of this gentleman, and is only noticed here, as showing that his story laid before the Court of Inquiry was unreliable, even where he had no motive for erratic obliquity. He did not concern himself about the men’s rations further than to murmur over his own substantial breakfast that he was very tired, and request some one else to do informally, what he should have done officially. The irregularities of the day had commenced. Applications were made to several owners of stores and crackers and red herrings were obtained, but in small quantity. Some men got half a herring; others a whole one; some had crackers; some had none. They who ate no herring were the most fortunate; for that June day became hot, and they had no canteens in which to carry water.

“Move not later than 5.30, at five if bread be ready.” He knew he had made no requisition on the baker. Officers of the “Queen’s Own” were running hither and thither in search of food. Meeting Mr. McGrath of the Welland railway they implored him for something to eat. He gave them crackers for which they were thankful. As there was no bread to wait for, Booker left Colborne at 5-8 a. m. Twenty minutes afterwards the telegram arrived from Col. Peacocke ordering him not to move until 7.

The train arrived at Ridgeway about 6, having proceeded over the intervening ten miles slowly and with due caution, so far as the engine driver had command. The Fenians instead of being at French creek were halted on the Ridge road, three miles distant and had sent forward scouts to watch military arrivals at this station. No sooner did the small volunteer army alight than emissaries of the enemy numbered them and went off with information.

The combined force of Q. O. Rifles from Toronto, 480; of York and Caledonia companies, together 95, and 13th from Hamilton 265; numbered, 840 of all ranks. Only one company of Q. O. had ammunition. Why they had come from Toronto without it, and been scattered through[78] Colborne village without pickets, or guards, or sentries, can only be accounted for on the supposition that Col. Dennis, who came in command of them and leaving them to Major Gilmore, started off on an enterprise of his own devising at 4 a. m., had an imperfect conception of the military art, though holding the office of Brigade Major of the 5th military district. Why the Q. O. were sent from Toronto without ammunition, Major-General Napier knowing that fact, and telling them they were likely to be engaged with the enemy within twenty-four hours, (his first speech), or within twelve hours his second version of first speech, the powers of common sense fails to comprehend.

Quartermaster-sergeant Stoneman of the 13th supplied ammunition to the Toronto, York, and Caledonia Rifles at Ridgeway. The percussion caps ran short. Some of the York and Caledonia getting only 40 caps to 60 cartridges. There was a large surplus of cartridges left, but no caps. With difficulty and delay, Q. M. S. Stoneman pressed a farmer’s waggon into service and followed after the column which by that time had marched out of sight. No guard was placed by Lt.-Col. Booker over the ammunition. Dr. Ryal junr. of the 13th had been supplied at his father’s expense with some surgical necessaries. But there were no hospital ambulance.

Arrived at this point, with mind depressed by fault-finding, by recital of official negligences, by wants not supplied among the rank and file, the follower of this little army enters within a fresher, higher, moral atmosphere. The mind is now carried to a height from whence it beholds heroes. They may not be all developed. He is not the best soldier who distinguishes himself even in some very notable performance of gallantry. The true and good soldier is he who keeps his place in the ranks, goes where he is ordered to go, does what he is ordered to do. The men of the column now before us may have no demand made on them this day, to display the qualities commonly called heroic. The nervous and unsteady will sometimes rush upon an enemy with a vehemence which the world applauds. That is not heroism. The popular idea of high courage displayed in battle, is the charge, the shout, the rush with bayonet on the enemy’s line. That charge of bayonets has on occasions been effective, but it neither evinces high courage, nor is it often a safe movement. There is no man breathing who approaches the verge where the enemy’s fire may open, or who being within it hears the whiz of mortal missiles of death, but fears to be a victim. Courage is not a condition of mind which has no fear; courage is the conquest[79] of fear. Without fear there is no courage. Of all the forms of danger from an enemy in battle the most trying to the manhood of the soldier, is bullet firing from forest thickets, from orchards, from behind curtains of concealment, out of houses, over garden walls, under covert of field fences; from behind trees. In such places the enemy is not seen or is but dimly discernable. In the greater fields of carnage where columns are undergoing rapid evolutions, and moving through massive formations exposed to quickly repeated vollies of artillery, men do not feel so acutely apprehensive, and sensitive. The reasons why not are various. The sight of blood maddens some. The magnitude of sanguinary havoc deadens the more delicate senses. Combativeness is inflamed. The desire to destroy obtains ascendancy. In the more intellectual natures the thought of death and the hereafter have been committed to the mercy of Almighty God. It has been done silently, and military duty, proceeds as if there had been no praying. The individual reckons on being killed. Unless he be fool as well as sinner he has not deferred repentance and prayer to that supreme hour. If he finds himself alive, and unhurt where many have fallen, he accepts the renewed term of life calmly, but inwardly gives Heaven his gratitude, feeling that he has yet some good service to perform for himself, kindred, country.

If these columns of subdivisions now marching from Ridgeway station up the Ridge road, have some quality that the hypercritical must find fault with, it is a disposition towards too much levity. These young volunteers are rather too sure that a fight with the Fenians will do them no harm. But this condition of gaiety has another meaning. It is young life in the morning of promise. That lightness of laugh, aptness of jest, gaiety of remark, that general vivacity is the sparkling of a native born, self-reliant spirit. Underneath lies manly fortitude.

“With ball cartridge, load!” These words of command at Ridgeway Station fell upon youthful ears with more meaning than any other words of command, at any time previously. Yet their full import may not have been comprehended. The Toronto men, clothed in dark green, ten small companies, had the lead, right in front. To Trinity College company of that battalion, only about twenty strong, the York Rifles were added, also in green. Next was the 13th, six companies, in scarlet. The Caledonia men wearing green, formed a rear guard. The Toronto field officers left their horses at Colborne, because said they, with some prudent ideas of difficulties to come, horses would be of no use in forest thickets; because[80] said they afterwards, horses could not have been safely landed from the cars at Ridgeway. Major Skinner of the 13th took his horse, and lent it to Lt.-Col. Booker.

The road from Ridgeway station is skirted on each side with the ancient forest, but occasionally with cleared patches on which are dwellings and gardens, until you reach up about as far as the houses near to the letters B B on the map. There the cleared land widens on either hand. Towards the left the woods are seen forming a waving line, five, six, and seven hundred yards back to north-west, several farm fields with zigzag rail fences intervening. On the right hand is a space of pasturage unenclosed, broken on the front near the Ridge road with shallow quarries of limestone, lime-kilns now disused; much debris of broken stone; occasional trees dotted on the surface; the extent upward over a gentle elevation, three or four hundred yards. This is a section of Limestone Ridge. Its first boundary is that marked garrison road, and school house. The bugler sounds. The column halts. What is the matter? One on horseback comes to Lt.-Col. Booker and informs him that the Fenians occupy the road, and positions on the ridge within the fields and orchards, about three quarters of a mile further along to north-east. This is Squire Learn a justice of peace. He has been considerably beyond Hoffman’s tavern, and says he had come within sight of Fenian outposts on the road near to the place of letter C on the map where subsequently the square to receive Cavalry was formed. The Squire was fired upon. He had, he says, been commissioned by government to assist the commanding officer with information, and is now fulfilling this service. Little more of him was seen. The Colonel might reasonably doubt every man’s fidelity. Possibly he doubted this gentleman. Possibly he doubted none. But there were somewhere around him, persons professing to be friends who were not trustworthy.

Something in motion by the edge of the wood down on the left, drew the Colonel’s attention. He consulted with Adjutant Henery of the 13th and other officers. They and he differed in opinion. By aid of his field glass, he saw, so he affirmed, at least 200 Fenians in the wood, some mounted. They said there were only some cows and a man on horseback driving them. This matter did not involve any important issue. It was only a farmer, one of the Angurs, “running his cows off.” Yet the Colonel acted prudently, with the concurrence of Major Gilmore, in sending skirmishers across the fields to discover if the enemy occupied the woods on the left. No opposition was met in that direction.


Let us look at the ground before taking up the story of the fight.

We have arrived at the crossing of Ridge road, and Garrison road; the latter leading to Fort Erie, distant seven miles, eastward to the right hand. At our left is a tavern, a white house and red barn, called the Smuggler’s Home, but which on the map bears the occupier’s name, Hoffman. This was afterwards used as a temporary hospital; so also the next two houses near the bend of the road, now in rear of us towards Ridgeway. On the Garrison road which, with a gentle ascent, crosses over the stoney ridge, and penetrates the forest thickets, is a school house.

Crossing a rail fence from the Garrison road, a person tracing the movements of the combatants, enters a field, which in June bore a crop of young wheat. Let this fence be named 1. The wheat field is about 200 yards wide. At fence 2 many bullet marks are seen. Cross it; the field lying before you, 350 yards wide, bears a crop; half spring wheat, half grass. Near fence 3 is a large maple, at 20 yards from the junction with the cross fence—that which runs nearly parallel with the front of the wood on your right hand. Here is a small enclosure of a quarter acre. Within this lay a Fenian picket at the commencement of the conflict. Behind this small enclosure, on ground stoney and slightly rising, are thirteen scoriated trees, leafless and of dismal aspect. The field beyond fence 3, has a crop of rye. The rye field merges with an orchard. The Fenian right flank, advance, occupied this orchard at the first. At the head of this orchard towards the right is a copse of thick brushwood, and on its higher edge a low stone wall running parallel with the upper woods, and about 150 yards from their front. Getting through the orchard and this copse and across another patch of open land about 100 yards wide, you reach a concession road. Its distance from the Garrison road is about 800 yards. This concession way crosses the Ridge road. You see in the corner a brick house—that is J. N. Angur’s house. The fences on each side of this road are, in the present reckoning, 5 and 6. The Fenian main body occupied that road, where the map shows black. They took the rails of fence 6, and laid them slanting on fence 5, with a face for a screen against bullets towards the south, from which direction the Canada volunteers were to advance. At bottom of that orchard on the Ridge road are two barns and a dwelling-house, a few hundred yards south of J. N. Angur’s brick house, which you see in the corner.

Crossing that concession road at about 300 yards east of J. N. Angur’s brick house, you are well up on the crown of the ridge. To your left is[82] Stoneman’s orchard; and at the bottom of that orchard on the Ridge road is Stoneman’s house, and Reinhard’s house. Beyond Stoneman’s orchard, on the Ridge road, at the letter A. is Henry F. Angur’s house, where O’Neil made his head-quarters. Keeping near the crown of the ridge, where the concession road was crossed, you follow the track on which the Fenians fell back. You cross fence 7, and fence 8, and observe that they join at an angle. Also it is to be noticed that a portion of each is thrown down. From much treading, the grass shows here that a crowd had left a beaten track. This track was made by the Fenians hastening to another position in their rear. They having got through fences 7 and 8, had a thick pine wood on their left front; the fence 9, beyond a narrow wheat field crossing before them, and a maple grove of grand old trees, standing on their right, within which they buried some of their dead. You can see the grave of four. It was when they were driven back over fences 7 and 8, and out of Stoneman’s orchard by a concentrated fire from fences 5 and 6, concession road, that Booker’s bugles three times sounded retire. The Fenians then encouraged to a fresh attack counter marched round by the higher woods, and did execution on the retiring volunteers; the deadliest of it on those nearest the upper woods, the University Rifle company as we shall presently see.

Observe that all the open ground lying to the left of the Ridge road and down to a marshy rivulet on the edge of the forest, is farm land. It is intersected by many rail fences, all of zigzag form. The York Rifle, and Trinity College companies got along the lower edges of those fields, and on the concession road, formed the left of the advanced skirmishers.

The Toronto Rifles had the lead assigned them, Major Denison says because they were the senior corps. Coming up from Ridgway No. 5 company, under Captain Edwards, were sent forward as an advanced guard. They were armed with Spencer rifles. On arriving near, perhaps a little beyond, that part of the road marked B. B. intimation of the enemy having then been given by Mr. Peter Learn J. P. No. 5 extended from its centre. The troops were marching in a column at quarter distance. No. 1 moved forward and extended on the left, and No. 2 on the right of No. 5. As supports No. 3 formed the centre; No’s 4 and 6 the left and right.

In this formation one does not recognize an adherence to any ordinary battalion movement. Indeed throughout, the Q. O. seem to have acted as independent companies. After moving on in this way for some distance,[83] according to Major D’s report, but precisely how far I have failed to ascertain, No. 7 was sent out as a flanking party to the left towards the woods on that side, supported by No. 8, Trinity College company. This last was but a section, about twenty in number. Subsequently, the University, and Highland Companies No. 9 and 10 went on the right; but for the present they formed a reserve. The York company went with the Trinity college youths as an additional support on the left.

The advance was steady. They with the Spencer rifles had only thirty rounds of cartridges per man, and these they fired rapidly away. They fell back, some reports say in seven, others in ten minutes from the time they began to fire. Rapid firing, with repeating rifles had in that instance the disadvantage of too quickly expending an imperfect supply of ammunition; but it produced noise, and had a formidable appearance. It assisted materially to drive back the foremost Fenian pickets. In crossing into the first field from the garrison road an officer of No. 5 was killed.

At this time, seven to ten minutes after the first firing of the Fenian pickets on the advance of the Queen’s Own, the Hamilton 13th moved over the stoney ground on right of Ridge road, distant from Garrison road, about a hundred yards. Companies No’s 1, 2, and 3, then advanced and extended as skirmishers; their supports being No’s 4, 5, and 6, Major Skinner and Adjutant Henery accompanied the front line. “They advanced,” says Adjutant Henery, who is an experienced Sergeant from Her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards, “as steadily, evenly, as ever did soldiers on a field day.” Said Sergeant-Major Rosconnell, an old British soldier, “their advance over the fences and across those fields was as regular and steady as could be desired.” This was strictly a battalion movement. The Queen’s Own also advanced as companies, regularly, steadily, but not as a battalion. Let us here observe them from the high ground beyond concession road, as the Fenian chief O’Neil saw them. This is how they looked to their enemy:

The Nashville Press of July 9, 1866, reported a statement made the day before by O’Neil, on the occasion of a public reception. “Tell us,” cried a voice in the crowd, “about the ‘Queen’s Own.’” He responded: “I desire to rectify a mistake about those troops. It has been said that they acted in a cowardly manner. Not so. When they advanced in line of battle in their red uniforms they presented a beautiful appearance. It was one of the prettiest sights I ever witnessed. The line was well formed and their advance was brave.


Words similar to these had been used by General O’Neil at Buffalo. The present writer did not at first attach importance to this matter, until he observed that the Nashville statement was so well accepted at Toronto by some who have with an unsoldier-like spirit underrated the 13th, to exalt the Queen’s Own, that they reprinted the paragraph omitting the distinctive mark of the 13th, “their red uniforms.” It was known that not only on the American side, but generally about Ridgeway and Fort Erie, Canadian residents spoke of the volunteers collectively, who had been engaged, on June 2nd, as the “Queen’s Own.” For the accuracy of history, in face of this perversion in Toronto newspapers, a writer whose constant aim is historical accuracy and fair play to all persons irrespective of frowns or favours, addressed, General O’Neil, as to which of the reports was the true one. He replied thus: (The letters in full will be seen on another page);—Nashville, Tennessee, July 31st 1866.

“In answer to your inquiries I beg leave to state that on account of the prominence given to the ‘Queen’s Own’ by the American and Canadian newspapers, I had been led to believe that they were the principal troops opposed to me on the 2nd of June last. And as the red uniform appeared to me the most conspicuous on the field, I had taken up the idea, without making any inquiry on the subject, that the ‘Queen’s Own’ were dressed in red. In my speech at this place I did not intend to distinguish the troops dressed in ‘red’ from those dressed in ‘green’. I intended to speak of the whole when I stated that they fought well.”

Thus, from the enemy’s point of view on those heights above concession road, it is seen that while nothing was observed detracting from the steady, soldier-like gallantry of the Toronto and York and Caledonia Rifles, who wore green uniforms, the equally soldier-like gallantry of the Hamilton 13th is vindicated. The enemy, against whom a force advances in mortal conflict is the best judge of the effect which it produces. Prisoners taken, and other Fenian informants, concur in stating that while the men in dark green (Q. O.) had driven in the advanced Fenian pickets, it was the additional line, the line of red which decided them to abandon the concession road. About the same time, the University Rifle Company supported by Capt. Gardener’s Highlanders (Denison’s Hist.) advanced on the extreme right. “There,” says a writer in Toronto Leader “they bore the brunt of the battle.” The University youths like all else on the field were brave, and bravely did their duty, but it was not while advancing on the enemy’s position that their casualties occurred, nor while keeping that post on the[85] right under cover of the wood on the upper ridge. They suffered severely, but not yet, and not there.

From the accounts so plentifully written by members of the Q. O. in various newspapers the writers seem to have exhausted their soldierly qualities on the field of fight. It is not soldierly, when the fight is over to take pens in hand for the detraction of another portion of the force equally engaged with themselves. The 13th continued to advance and co-operate, all its companies as a battalion; its three companies of skirmishers, and its three companies of supports. It had not been ordered, it was not its duty to take the place of Q. O. companies that they might fall to the rear. Its duty was to do what it did, advance as closely as practicable upon the enemy, and make the best use of its arms and the position. The ultimate position was in the orchards north and east of the concession road.

The Q. O. companies interchanged and relieved each other, or without being in each case, relieved, fell back, making a column of reserve. The order in which this was done cannot be distinctly traced, as few of the Q. O., officers or men, agree in giving the same statement. Captain Gardener, (Court of Inquiry,) speaks of having been twice with his Highlanders sent to the front. Major Gilmore says (Court of Inquiry,) Gardener did not retire from the front until the last. Capt. Adam is represented as saying that he and No. 6, Q. O. drove the Fenians out of J. N. Angur’s brick house, which is situated in the corner at the crossing of Ridge road with concession road; while again Lieut. McLean (Court of Inquiry) relates that his company on the concession road, should have been relieved by one of the 13th, which did not advance so far, and that on its default to relieve him he said to his men “peg away”, and they pegged away accordingly. Mr. McLean’s story in other respects is equally marvelous. The 13th were in the front. They had nobody to relieve. The duty of all was to fight, not to fall back.

Three companies of the 13th had advanced upon the brick house and to right and left of it. No. 1, Capt. Grant, Lieut. Gibson, Ensign McKenzie, took a position extending up the concession road, where Fenian breast-work of rails had been. No. 2, Capt. Watson, and Lieut. Sewell, [Ensign Baker of that company being with the regimental colours at the reserve], occupied a space of the road on each side of the brick house, within and in front of it. No. 3 company, Lieut. Ferguson, [his Capt. absent, and Mr. Armstrong, his Ensign, with the 13th’s colours at the reserve], advanced[86] upon concession road to the left of J. N. Angur’s brick house. Finding here that his men could not fire at anything but a thicket of orchard trees, where no enemy was visible, Mr. Ferguson advanced his company across the road towards the letter B of the map, half wheeled to the right and obtained a range of fire towards a Fenian position beyond Stoneman’s orchard. No other company was so far advanced towards the enemy. Mr. McLean says he and a subdivision of No. 6, Q. O. were there; others say no. Major Skinner and Adjutant Henery with portions of the 13th took possession of the brick house and the garden in front. The front garden gate and house doors were all fast until they forced an entrance, and took up a fighting position. Fenians were not driven out by the Q. O.; they had not been in. But that house was then in the range of Fenian bullets. Nor did the 13th find the Q. O. in possession of the premises, nor see them in front, except a very few, some half dozen men, on the road, their companies having scattered and gone back as part of the reserve, so these men said. At the corner of Angur’s barn an officer of the Q. O. was industriously firing the rifles which two or more men behind the barn loaded for him. This was probably Capt. Adam; because, Major Denison says p. 43, “For some reason the company of the 13th which was to have relieved No. 6 Q. O. Capt. Adam, marched up to the brick house, where No. 6, after driving out the enemy with great gallantry had established itself; and both companies remained in that position fighting together.”

The meaning of this is obscure. A tone of doubt is not here assumed as to the gallantry of the Q. O. but as to the exactness of their recollections, or of the description of their motions. I heard this brick house incident freely spoken of at Toronto before Major Denison’s book came out, and have therefore been more particular in examining the recollections of the 13th. The skirmishers of that battalion, extended on both sides and in front of Angur’s brick house, have a vivid recollection of Major Skinner and Adjutant Henery going along their line, speaking words of cheerful encouragement, patting some of the youngsters on the shoulder, accompanied with remarks, such as, “good boys; take steady aim; do not throw away your fire; do not expose yourselves needlessly”.

There is a large single tree on the Ridge road side, fifty yards or so, to north of Angur’s brick house, and near to that tree a land roller. In the hinder part of the frame of the roller is a bullet hole made by a shot which came from the direction of the barn 200 yards behind Angur’s house.[87] Adjutant Henery and some men were firing from behind the roller using it and the tree as cover, when that bullet struck close to his head, he kneeling and taking aim. This was a circumstance to make him look around and notice who was shooting in that direction. Nobody was then visible except men in scarlet, none of whom could have fired that shot, and eight or nine Q. O. men, who said their company had retired to the reserves, but that they had remained. This incident is only named as a marking place of memory. Major Skinner who commanded the three companies in front is equally clear that men in scarlet uniforms were the sole occupants of those premises and of the concession road adjoining, as of the orchard across concession road, when he advanced and held possession of it. From the nature of the ground which undulated, and from frequency of wooded thickets, and orchards interrupting the view, the Q. O. companies which went earliest to the front, especially those on the extreme right, became concealed to those behind. And the 13th when they soon after advanced still further to the front, were in like manner indistinctly seen by the Q. O. who fell back. When the right wing of the 13th had advanced in even skirmish line about 400 yards, from garrison road, the left wing under Major Cattley advancing compactly, as supports, at an interval of 150 or 200 yards, the coolness, caution, precision of eye and soldier-like watchfulness of the officers were happily exemplified. Major Skinner having passed along the skirmish line to confer with the adjutant and observe what was in the front, and on the right flank noticed objects which some of the 13th were about to fire at. These objects from their apparently stealthy motions in the bush were supposed by some to be Fenians. The Major perceived they were not. And Captain Grant also reported to him that men in dark clothing were creeping about under cover and occasionally visible in the higher wood, on the ridge, easterly; that he had difficulty in restraining his company from firing on them as Fenians; but that he did not think they were Fenians. Major Skinner said they were not the enemy, and went along the extended files of No. 1, as also did the officers of the company giving the men caution that the heads indistinctly seen in that bush, up to their right, were not heads of the enemy. It is probable they were the University Rifle Company, perhaps also Captain Gardener’s Highlanders.

Soon after this the supporting companies of the 13th occupied the orchard, which is about 200 yards south and in rear of the skirmish line[88] on concession road. These were No. 4, Lieut. Routh (Capt. John Brown absent with leave) and Ensign J. B. Young. No. 5, Capt. Askin and Lieut. Ritchie. Captain Askin is assistant engineer on the Great Western Railway. I, and the battalion, and the public, are indebted to him for the map of Limestone Ridge, published herewith. He had been absent at Windsor when the alarm to assemble, fall in, march, was given at Hamilton. A telegram told he was wanted. Taking the earliest train east, he heard at Paris that the 13th had gone by B. and L. H. Line to Dunnville. He overtook them at Port Colborne, just as they were marching for Ridgeway. The other company in support, occupying that orchard, was No. 6, Ensign Roy. Captain Irving of this Company was absent from Hamilton when they left, and thinking to reach the battalion by a shorter route followed Colonel Peacocke’s force, by which he was prevented from reaching the field of fight in time, much to his mortification.

At a point of the Ridge road about 400 yards north of Angur’s brick house, a reserve of the Q. O. was halted. The two colours of the 13th, carried by Ensigns Armstrong and Baker were here, in their proper place. Also the men guarding the colours, and some orderlies. Major Gilmore (Court. of In.) mentioned this reserve as comprising green and scarlet uniforms. Those just indicated were the only officers and men of the 13th there at that time. The only companies of men in green not in the reserve on the road, when the hottest fire was being delivered in front by the skirmishers, were the University and Highlander companies then engaged on the extreme right; Trinity College and York companies on the left, not then exposed to Fenian fire. The Caledonias forming a rear guard; and desultory portions of several Q. O. companies on the concession road, or under the trees or about the barns. It being said by Major Denison that No. 6, Capt. Adam, was there, that must also be admitted, but if so, that company was considerably scattered towards the rear.

All these in the front delivered a steady, well sustained fire, forward, and into copse woods, and places of covert where the Fenian smoke and rattle indicated the enemy to be. At no place, in front of concession road, could more than 200 yards of clear range be seen. Very few casualties had then occurred, the Fenian bullets going high. Both Q. O. and 13th men were struck in rear of the line of skirmishers by bullets flying over the heads of the front line. Besides the enemy were retiring before the steady, brave, soldier-like advances of the Q. O. front companies and 13th[89] The Fenian chief says the men in red were the more conspicuous; but both his testimony, and that of others competent to judge give the Q. O. and York Rifles credit in largest measure, highest degree, as well as the gallant 13th in red. Had there been any generalship then, the fight was won. Major Denison says p. 44:

“Our troops had been in this position for some time when it seems that the Fenian leaders decided to charge again, to drive our men back from the line they had carried.”

Charge again, means that they had charged before. Nobody saw them charge either before or then. Their tactics were exclusively movements under cover. They crept from bush to bush. They were retiring to get round to concession road to retreat to Fort Erie. They could not have come round the right flank, on crown of the ridge without being seen by the U. R. and Gardener’s companies posted there, and by Grant’s of the 13th. Major Cattley of 13th who was attached to the three companies of supports was at the upper end of the orchard, at a copse where the low stone wall, before mentioned, ran parallel with the ridge, 100 yards from the wood on the ridge, and he saw persons, supposed at the time to have been Fenians the same as were seen from the Q. O. reserve and Capt. Grant’s company of 13th. If these had been the enemy no better place than that low stone wall could have been found to shelter troops to keep the position and drive the Fenians back. Major Cattley made his apprehensions known. But the brigadier, Lt.-Col. Booker, made no disposition of force in that direction, nor in any other. These men in the upper wood, and near to it, were the U. R. and Highlander companies of Q. O.

Two Fenian officers had been at different times seen on horseback. One was unhorsed, the animal galloping away to eastward with empty saddle, itself wounded. It was found dead at the top of H. F. Angur’s field, near the wood of the Fenian graves.

If cavalry had been seen in that direction which it was not, it could not have charged either upon skirmish lines, or supports, or reserve. There were several high zigzag fences, impassable by cavalry, had there been any, on the right, on the left, and in front, except only in front of the reserve when it stood on the Ridge road. And there also it was flanked with fences, proof against cavalry. Major Denison says p. 44.

“The skirmishers seeing the mounted men coming towards them, thought a body of cavalry was going to charge; and raising a cry that cavalry were[90] coming began to run back, calling out to the reserve ‘look out for cavalry’. The reserves were on the road and there mounted men were also seen upon it. Lieut.-Col. Booker, from the position in front of the reserves, could not possibly see for himself whether the report was true or false; but hearing it reiterated, he called to Major Gilmore to ‘look out for cavalry.’ Major Gilmore therefore ordered his battalion to form square. This was done. The bugles sounded to ‘prepare for cavalry!’ and the companies on the flanks ran in—some forming in rear of the square, others forming rallying squares in the fields, and afterwards falling back on the main body.”

How or why Major Denison could have written this story can only be accounted for, by his saying in his book that for information received, he tenders his thanks to Lt.-Col. Booker.

To the facts as they were; not as the story was afterwards concocted and imagined. The facts were these. Between the place of the reserve on ridge road, letter C on the map, and J. N. Angur’s brick house, there are two houses on the left of the road, and a barn on the right of it. From undulations of the ground, bending of the road, and orchard trees, Booker and those near him, behind that house next to the reserve, could not see along the road. He had been screening himself from imaginary bullets. He knew nothing of what was going on at the front, or to the right of the skirmish line. He was not in a place to see. He was not in a condition of mind to understand. But of that presently. The Q. O. men and officers who were scattered behind the other houses and barn—[not improperly, shelter was legitimate to all who could obtain it where duty required them to be]—they could not see farther to the front along ridge road than 100, 200, to 300 yards. But Major Skinner and part of the 13th were in possession of the brick house and orchard opposite. They could see farther along to north-east, and saw no horsemen in that direction, nor heard any cry of cavalry. Adjutant Henery of the 13th, and some men were advanced still farther, out on the open of Ridge road, they heard no alarm of cavalry. Capt. Ferguson and his company of 13th, were still farther advanced, by the side of the orchard on left of the Ridge road, near Stoneman’s house, at letter B of the map, they heard no alarm of cavalry. All these ultimately retreated; but when they reached the place where the reserve had been, where the square had been, where the cry of cavalry had been,—all had vanished. The cry of cavalry did not come from the front. Those who were fighting in front, and came in, when they discovered that their supports were gone, saw no reserves, no square.[91] They were afterwards told that such formations had been. Nor did these men, with their company officers, and the battalion officers, Major Skinner and Adjutant Henery, see Lieut.-Col. Booker. None of the 13th had seen him after commencement of the action, except the few with the colours and the orderlies, and they had been in action one hour. Several persons had noted the time.

The retreat, the confusion, did not originate in the cry of cavalry.

The fight was a soldier’s battle, not that of a general. No coherent words of command had been given by Lt.-Col. Booker. The fight was won.

The Fenians were retreating. With waggons and stores they were getting away to Niagara river Ferry from Henry F. Angur’s house, O’Neil’s head-quarters. They were throwing food out of the waggons to make room for the wounded and hurrying around to be off. Captain Mahony came into Henry F. Augur’s house, hurriedly put off his uniform and assumed the clothes of a labouring man to disguise himself. They were destroying arms and ammunition, which they could not carry with them. Unused rifles and bayonets in quantities they were plunging into a marsh to be hidden. On the upper woods they were retreating on the run to reach round to the concession road and so on to Fort Erie village. They had lost the battle. What stopped them? O’Neil and his officers heard Booker’s bugle sounding retire, that stopped them. A second time it sounded retire. A third time retire, and the call to double.

At first the Fenians thought this was a trick of tactics to draw them on in pursuit, and into ambush. They were cautious, but at last discovered that the force which had advanced upon them so gallantly, steadily, beautifully, was actually retreating, and in confusion. They then raised a shout. They followed up. The U. R. Company had been nighest to them, nearly concealed in the upper wood. It did not hear the retire and lingered. When the increase of Fenian firing, with shouting, and the decrease of firing on their own skirmish line, led them to examine their position, the U. R. retired. And then came their casualties. They were now at short range and shot down; so also the Highland Company, but in less degree.

Let us examine that bugle call, retire. Sergeant Gibbons of the 13th, (an experienced soldier of H. M. 71st), says: “It was that bugle call, retire, that began the confusion. The first call was for the skirmishers to[92] come in, and also the second, and they were retiring, in proper order; but the third was given with the double; and then men came running, and leaping, over fences, and stumbling.” Capt. Grant, who was with Lieut. Gibson, beside No. 1 Company of the 13th, highest up concession road, except U. R. and Highlanders, heard the bugle call retire. He knowing the enemy had been retreating, and Fenian fire declining, remarked; “what is meant by that retire? Why is it sounding?” On its second call they retired upon their supports at head of the orchard. Others fell back in obedience to that call, and formed on the supports. Major Skinner, Adjutant Henery and the force nearest their position at the brick house, and in the orchard beyond the house, over concession road, remained, the bugle sound not having reached them through the noise of firing, and impediments of trees.

O’Neil does not admit that he was beaten. Perhaps he did not feel that he was. But in his Nashville speech he admits that he felt the necessity of retreating, having a formidable force in his front, and knowing that, “two or three other small armies were pressing forward to overwhelm his small and inadequate force.” He was retreating, pressed by the gallant 13th, and Q. O. with York and Caledonia Rifles, and would have yielded the field to their advance, had not the unaccountable retreat of his assailants recalled him to action.

They of the skirmish line who heard the first and second calls retired. The supports retained their places in the orchard until the third call and double were sounded. Then they also retired across the orchard, fields, and fences towards the Q. O. reserve. Then arose the panic; the cry of, look out for cavalry. Perhaps O’Neil and his mounted officers may have been seen at this crisis riding to their front to ascertain what was the matter. Perhaps some of the portions of companies and officers of the Q. O. who were near Lt.-Col. Booker, beside the barn where he had taken his station, with its walls in front of him, the orchard on his right hand, nothing visible to him but the reserve in his rear and the persons around,—it may have been some of these who cried “look out for cavalry” if he did not himself imagine its presence. Booker did not know where his front skirmish line was, did not know that some were beyond hearing the recall of the bugle from his place of retirement, did not know the enemy had retreated. The bugler bears testimony that Booker gave the commands to sound. He seemed to have decided, so far as, in a condition of imbecility[93] and nervous prostration, he could decide anything, to retreat from the field of action.

It had been his custom on field days, and Hamilton holidays, to follow the call of skirmishers retire, with form square; prepare to receive cavalry. My old note-books written when looking on, bear that record, so do the memories of his men. Perhaps, in this hour of his mental prostration he reverted to the old rotation of movements learned from a book, and gave the order to the bugler form square. Charity would rather believe that he made that mistake in forgetfulness, than that his vision of cavalry, crossing a variety of fences, five and six feet high, in pursuit of the retiring skirmishers, whom he had called in, led to the formation of a square.

An hour and a half earlier, the action about to begin, but no shots fired, he mistook a farmer “running off his cows” for a Fenian force of two hundred men, some of them mounted. In his narrative to the court of inquiry, concocted after the events, and in contradiction to animadversions on his conduct published two or three days after the 2nd of June, he said: “I observed loose horses moving about in the woods to our left, but saw no men.”

Officers of the 13th who were then beside him, would make affidavit were it required, that he said to them his field glass enabled him to see, distinctly two hundred men, some of them mounted. But these are gentlemen of honor. They have passed their word to this statement, their word is sufficient. Thus we have it that Lt.-Col. Booker, entered on the field seeing cavalry where none were.

It was shortly after this, at 7.30 a. m. that Mr. Stovin of the Welland railway delivered the telegram from Col. Peacocke, to Lt.-Col. Booker who expressed, in words of vehemence, anxiety for a messenger to go to Col. Peacocke. Detective Armstrong was at hand and offered to go. “Tell him,” said Col. Booker, “how I am situated,” “you must write it,” rejoined Mr. Armstrong. “I have no paper!” Booker fumbled about his person and finding no paper said: “tell him that”—Armstrong repeated that he must have a written message. “Well then, don’t go at all,” Mr. Lawson of Port Colborne who was present offered paper. Mr. Armstrong gave paper and pencil. Lt.-Col. Booker enquired the time and was told by Lawson, by Stovin, by Armstrong and others 7.30. He wrote 7.30 the only portion of his despatch which was legible. Mr. Armstrong says it was written on paper given by him. Booker says to the court of inquiry that now 9.30;[94] “I turned to Detective Armstrong and wrote on the telegram which I had received that the enemy had attacked us at 7.30.” Mr. Stovin says: “It seemed a strange thing to me that he sent away the telegram he had received; and still more so that after Armstrong was gone, he inquired of me where that telegram came from. He had not read Chippewa.” Squire Learn said of Booker, then: “If they have not got a fool for a commander, he is something worse.”

The time of 7.30, put in the past tense, was an after-thought for the Court of Inquiry. Mr. Armstrong, rode out two horses in seeking Col. Peacock, and delivered that paper, he will swear if required, near Black Creek by 8.30. He is positive it was delivered within the hour from the time of his getting it. From whom Booker got paper is in itself immaterial. He went to the field in command of a brigade, without a map, without a pencil, without a scrap of paper. Says Major Denison, apologetically, p. 39:

“Lt.-Col. Booker was on this eventful morning, for the first time in his life in command of a brigade.... During his whole military career he had never commanded a brigade of infantry, even at a review, and was sent to the front merely as a commanding officer of his regiment, the 13th and not in any other capacity. Chance threw him into the position of a brigadier-general on the morning of a battle, without any mounted staff, without any mounted orderlies, without any artillery, or cavalry, and without a mounted officer in the field but himself. Such was the position in which he found himself when forming up his command at the village of Ridgeway after taking them off the cars.”

Chance may have made that the morning of battle, but chance did not find him in command of the brigade. On the cars all the way from Hamilton he had boasted of his seniority to every other Lt.-Col. of Volunteers likely to come in rivalry with him, and told in grand tones that within a few days he expected to command a force of at least 3,000 men. “And,” say the companions of his journey, “he talked as if he were competent to command fifty thousand men.”

“Without a mounted officer in the field but himself!” By what chance, since chance ruled the day, was he himself mounted? At Hamilton before starting, an officer inquired “Are you not to be mounted colonel? Why don’t you take your horse?” His reply was to poke the officer in the side with his fingers, and say: “Skinner! there is Skinner with his horse; I’ll[95] dismount him.” So, that had Lt.-Col. Booker supplied himself with a charger for the field, he would have had at least one mounted officer besides himself. He says to the Court of Inquiry, and Major Denison says; that finding himself in command of the brigade, he handed over the command of the 13th battalion to Major Skinner. Not true. He arranged that Major Gilmore should handle the Q. O. and York Rifles, and that he would take the rest. The only words approaching to an order given to Major Skinner on that day were, to proceed to the front with the right wing of the battalion, Major Cattley having charge of the left wing as supports. Had Major Skinner been placed in command of the battalion, Major Cattley would have gone with the right wing.

“In command of a brigade for the first time in his life.” The force on Limestone Ridge was not at any time formed or moved as a brigade, except on the line of march from Ridgeway to the place of first deployance. He neither commanded his own battalion as such nor the whole brigade as such. Yet the 13th did operate as a battalion The Q. O. operated as a series of independent companies, some advancing, some falling back, pretty much at their own will and option; or dividing, some portions of a company remaining in position, another portion falling back upon the reserve; no one in particular controlling their motions.

Questions by Lt.-Col. Booker to Major Gilmore, Court of Inquiry:

“What did they,(the Highland Company) report on their return?” Ans. “I do not recollect their return. I believe them to be the last to leave the field.” Ques. “Did you see that we were outflanked on the right?” Ans. “No.” By the Court. “On what do you ground your belief that they were not outflanked on the right?” Ans. “Principally on the statements of the officers and men who were out skirmishing on the right.”

Following this Major Gilmore was asked by the Court, whose members seem from first and to the end, to have had a very imperfect knowledge of what occurred on the field, and small wonder, as they shut themselves up against information, refusing to permit any one who could have directed their inquiries to hear what was said by others, except Lt.-Col. Booker, and peremptorily stopping explanatory observations of witnesses, when they attempted to lead the Court into a clear channel of information; Major Gilmore was asked: “When three companies of the 13th were sent out[96] to relieve the Queen’s Own, had the movement been executed before the retreat was sounded?” Ans. “No; so far as my knowledge extends. Both lines of skirmishers, Rifles and 13th came in together.” The 13th had been out and their movement executed nearly, if not quite one hour. Their movement was to drive back the enemy. With the skirmishers of the Q. O. who remained in front they did it.

Major Gilmore could not see from his position at letter C on the map, where the right wing of the 13th were. He may have seen the rear of the left wing, in the orchard before him.

“Did you notice,” asked Lt.-Col. Booker, “men coming down the hill to our front at a double in front of the reserves crying, ‘cavalry’?” Ans. “No.”

Previous to this Court of Inquiry, the story had been that the cry of cavalry came along the Ridge road from direction of the brick house.—That story being given up it was tried, on Booker’s behalf, to fix the cry as coming down the hill from what he calls “our front,” but which was his right flank, for he had never changed front, at least his troops had not. That company was No. 1 of the 13th, coming in at a run in obedience to the retire and double. They had heard no cry of cavalry.

No. 6 Company of the 13th being of the supports, the one nearest the Q. O. reserve, got over the rails, not in time for the square, but to form in rear of it. No other men in scarlet had reached that square then, except they with the colours and the orderlies of the 13th. But just as the Q. O. were being re-formed into column from the square, which had been imperfectly formed and but momentary, (for, says Major Gilmore, a sharp fire was then directed on it from the enemy’s front and left,) No. 1 Company reached the ground. They hurrying over the railings into the road, were about to form in rear of that reserve, now half square half column, when it broke. It broke through No. 6 of the 13th, and through No. 1. Capt. Grant was violently thrust against the fence rails on a heap of stones. He saw some of his men trodden down. Ensign Roy of No. 6 and some of his men were trodden down. And in that moment of emergency Lt.-Col. Booker called the orderly who held the horse, Major Skinner’s horse, and quickly vaulting into the saddle rode off rapidly to the rear. All this has been denied on behalf of Lt.-Col. Booker. Capt. Grant is a gentleman whose word is not to be doubted. He saw the act of riding away. Others[97] saw the same. The companies of the 13th, which had been coming into the road at the call of form square, on seeing the reserve broken and hurriedly retreating continued their line of retreat across the fields towards garrison road. The companies at the front which had not heard the bugle call to retire, observed their supports gone, and retreated along the ridge road. When arrived where the reserve had been there was no reserve, no square, no column, no Queen’s Own.

Bugler Clarke says Booker ordered and he obeyed to sound the halt.—It was sounded, but most say who heard it, rather faintly, bugler and colonel being both in a hurry. The Court of Inquiry makes one witness, Mr. Urquart assistant editor of the Hamilton Spectator, and who was in the ranks of the 13th to say:

“Several attempts by officers of the 13th and the Rifles were made to rally or re-form the men. I noticed Colonel Booker and Adjutant Henery do this, and Ensign Armstrong who carried the colours.”

Mr. Urquart did not say this. The Court made several answers into one; thereby placing Booker where he was not. Adjutant Henery was not where Booker was. Mr. Armstrong was with the colours, but Booker was not there. Mr. Urquart was in No. 4 Company, which under Lieut. Routh was one of the supports at the head of the orchard to the right front of the square C. “What made your Company retreat?” asked the Court. “We retreated because the bugle sounded retreat; and we were also ordered to retreat by Lieut. Routh the officer in command of our Company, who afterwards said it must have been a mistake as it should have been the advance, and ordered us to halt and front—and we halted and fronted accordingly.” Then, as the skirmishers came in rapidly in obedience to the call of double, they all retreated. There was no reserve to go to, it had melted away. No. 4 Company and No. 5 under Captain Askin again halted and formed at the corner of garrison and Ridge roads. By that time also Major Skinner, Adjutant Henery and they who had been in the most advanced front got up; all tried their utmost to re-organize a force to withstand the enemy now steadily though cautiously coming in pursuit. Lieut. Gibson of No. 4 saw Adjutant Henery near the log house (see map) at a tree, assembling men around him; also Major Skinner near the same spot endeavoring to arrest and re-form the retreating current, which was then a mixture of green and red uniforms. He saw Captain Davis of the[98] York rifles making efforts to organize a force near Mrs. Ryerson’s house. Major Skinner had partially succeeded in forming a red line across the road with fixed bayonets directed against the retreat. But his men were overborne by a rush from behind. Lieut. Routh was there shot through the body and carried into one of the houses. The University and Highland companies were then streaming along, having left several dead and wounded on the track of their retreat. Brave spirits all. Youths of fair promise cut down in the morning of life, who an hour before had, with the rest, driven the invading strangers before them, now destroyed on a retreat which should never have occurred, for which there was no cause, the culpable author of which was away on horseback to the front, among the leaders of the panic.

He denies, and loud denials have been made on his behalf that he went away on horseback. Captain Grant saw him ride off, when the square and the column dissolved. The Revd. Mr. Inglis who, as a minister of religion accompanied the 13th from Hamilton, and witnessed as much of the action as lay between Garrison road and concession road, and was now on the ammunition waggon with Q. S. Stoneman, says; “I saw Colonel Booker on the horse (Major Skinner’s) coming towards Ridgeway.” “Oh no,” said Colonel Booker to the Revd. gentleman when before the Court of Inquiry, “I was on foot, not on horseback.” But Mr. Inglis was not mistaken, and he is a witness not to be overborne by such questionable obliquity of an inculpated party. Lieut. McKinnon, Caledonia company, said “Col. Booker was on horseback when he came to Ridgeway.”

But, “Colonel Booker may have hastened to the front of the retreat to intercept it.” Did he? What in this supposition comes of the want of evidence of his trying to stem the panic which he had made? What comes of facts to the contrary, showing that he not only hurried away himself but prevented others from arresting the retreat? Here are facts which would have been given in evidence to the Court of Inquiry, which sat at Hamilton in July, had its members summoned witnesses whose names were furnished to them, but whom they did not call. A volunteer officer who commanded a company in the action wrote to Hamilton for the information of the officers of the 13th. He said; “Have Lieut. Davis of York Rifles, and Capt. Jackson of Caledonia Rifles summoned, witnesses as to the language and action of Col. Booker upon the 2nd ult. I will give you a resume of what they will swear. Mr. Davis stopped the[99] Colonel (Booker) and begged him to halt, and rally the men as they knew him. The reply he got was: ‘We must go to the lake shore.’ Some distance farther on he came up to Captain Jackson’s company which was the rear guard. He asked, ‘what company, and who commands?’ and received the reply as above (that it was rear guard, Caledonia company, commanded by Capt. Jackson). Then Colonel Booker said: ‘Save yourselves men, the Fenians are after you!’ The company broke at once, until stopped by their Captain.”

The writer continued: “I have not the slightest ill-feeling, or wish, for Col. Booker. On the contrary I feel heartily sorry for the man; but I do not think it fair that the good name and fame of the officers and men of a good regiment should be impugned, much less sacrificed, to shield the incompetence of any man. I think I am only doing my duty as a man who loves his country, and as a volunteer who knows the stuff there is in the force, if I can throw any light upon the cause of the disaster of the 2nd of June.”

The gentlemen indicated by this officer were not called, though their names, on behalf of the slandered 13th, were furnished to the Court of Inquiry. As was also the name of Captain McGrath, Manager of the Welland Railway, whose important statement will be read presently. At the end of August while these pages are preparing for the press, I am in receipt of a letter; from which the following extract is made in reference to the passages just quoted: “Had Lieut. Davis been called before the court he would have given his evidence without any malice, fear, or favour.”

“Must go to the lake shore.” Could not halt then. The lake shore, from the point where this fugitive speech was made, Mrs. Ryerson’s house or thereabout, was eight, or ten, or more miles away according to the road he might take. By the road he took it was twelve miles away.

Major Gilmore says (C. of In.) he could have at any time halted and gathered around him a few hundreds of men, but deemed the effort of no use. He saw officers at different points of the road “exciting themselves frantically” to arrest the retreat. Such were his words, but he was more cool and allowed things to happen as fate and confusion without a commander would have it. Lieut. Arthur of the Q. O. has been reported as grandly stemming the tide of retreat, in its very front, at Ridgeway. He may[100] have been one of those who “frantically excited themselves.” A more practical question, is; how did Lieut. Arthur get there so soon? Mr. Arthur a civilian gave evidence to the Court of Inquiry somewhat exculpatory of Booker. But it is not forgotten at Hamilton that this same Mr. Arthur returned from the field of action, where he had been a non-combatant, on the evening of 2nd of June, and at the railway depot was the first to give intimation that Booker had broken down as commander and made a fool of himself.

Men of the 13th called to mind on the line of retreat, that when Booker was largely pompous at the Hamilton drill-shed on the previous morning he said, “I know you will follow me.” They followed, but only a few could get sight of him.

Captains Grant, Askin, Ferguson, Lieut. Gibson, and other officers of the 13th got sight of him half a mile past Ridgeway. A considerable force was then halted on the road. They expected that a stand would be made, the ground being advantageous for resistance, and fighting. Booker was heard calling for somebody to show the road to Port Colborne. To a farmer looking on, he trotted up, then returning to the imperfect column cried “Fours right, quick march!” And so the return to Colborne was continued in that disorder which incompetency had initiated, and aggravated. Sometimes he was seen riding, again walking, and trotting on foot in the semblance of a man crazed in the head. At Sherkston, five miles west of Ridgeway, they got a railway train to Colborne. It took them at two trips.

At some point on the road Booker turned to observe the dislocated column and accosted Sergeant Gibbons whom I have named as affirming with others that the bugle calls of retire and double gave origin to the retreat. This general of brigade, who had been so grand yesterday, that “he looked and talked as if able to command fifty thousand men,” and who at Port Colborne had asserted his seniority and displaced the officer who came in command from Toronto, now murmured in whining tone, and broken speech; “Sergeant, I suppose this is not your first engagement with an enemy? It is mine.” He gave the horse to carry a sick man, and on this his apologists form a claim for magnanimity. It would have been the attitude of a General to remain mounted, especially on the retreat, that his person might be observed, his place known, his command heard. A[101] true soldier, while modest, mild, keenly perceptive that necessary equipments were present with his force, while days were pleasant and peaceful, would have now risen with the crisis, firm in his saddle, firm in mind, lofty with the great emergency, to retrieve order out of confusion.

But Brigadier-General Booker straddled on foot a little while, then got on the horse a little while, got down again, and again ambled on foot, seeking sociality with the bugler, the groom, the sergeant, abjectly mumbling that he had never previously been in battle; then getting hold of a Lieutenant’s arm said; “I am a failure; I have failed; I acknowledge my failure.” And to a Captain uttering words to the same effect. And at Port Colborne continuing his abject confession to others.

Generous minds might have forgiven him after his miserable confessions however much they deplored the unhappy consequences of his incompetency, triumph to the enemy, derision of the Province by Americans; wild invention of calumnies against the 13th battalion, because he, its Lt.-Col., had involved the Q. O. Rifles in discredit. In face of all this his subordinate officers and battalion might have pitied the man while they deplored his military failure. But with a feeling of safety to his own person, he began to retract his confessions of incapacity, and to give currency to accusations of blame on his troops, and proclaim himself a martyr. At Colborne a report of the morning’s work was written for the authorities, imperfect, and untrue. He did not seek the assistance of any officer of the 13th all of whom could have informed him of as much of the action as they engaged in the front could know. He did not employ his own orderly room clerk to write for him. He got a person of the Q. O. to write, in order to satisfy Major Gilmore; and even then the Major gave only a general assent to the report. “Yes, its general tenor was correct, and I assented to it.” But Major Gilmore was not quite exact about it himself according to his own statement. The report said the telegram arrived at 9.30 after an hour and a half of hot fighting. That was not true. It spoke of driving the enemy from their rifle pits. There were no rifle pits. It said we were in a cul de sac. There was no cul de sac. All was open to the front except intervening woods. The enemy had retreated through the woods. The report said nothing of the 13th having as a battalion advanced from garrison road across fields and fences half a mile, the enemy retiring before their beautiful red line, and then across concession road; they engaged in fight one hour, except the supports lying within 150 yards[102] of the skirmish line, which however were actually advancing to the relief of their right wing when the retire stopped them; while most of that one hour the Q. O. were in reserve, two companies on the right front, and one on the extreme left front only excepted. On the contrary Lt.-Col. Booker caused a telegram to be sent to his superiors reporting the 13th as demoralized, and unfit for duty. It has been denied by himself and friends that he did so. But it is known on the highest railway authority that such messages with his name appended, went over the wires. A Hamilton newspaper gave currency to that phrase, demoralization. Two days after, Lieut.-Colonel Booker visited the reporter, and besought him to retract the imputation, saying “You know it was not I who said demoralized; it was that —— rascal Gilmore.”

The Square. Ques., by Lieut.-Col. Booker to Major Gilmore. “Were you satisfied with my conduct on the field?” Ans. “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 square, which I thought at that time was a mistake and I think so still.”

Ques. By Court. “Who gave the order to form square?” Ans. “Lieut.-Col. Booker gave the caution to look out for Cavalry, and I gave the command to form square.”

Ammunition of Q. O. The paragraph beginning on page 77, and ending on page 78, in this chapter is inaccurate as respects the alleged non-supply of ammunition; but not as regards the omission to post sentries on the arrival of the Q. O. at Colborne. The misstatement made on authority which I trusted was unfortunate, yet the ammunition served at Toronto was inadequate to go into a locality near the presence of an enemy. The following evidence touches this highly important question:

Ques. To Alex Muir, Q. O. “How many rounds of ammunition had been issued to you?” Ans. “I received 5 rounds at Toronto before leaving; and 30 rounds at Port Colborne. I had 35 rounds.”

To Ques. of the Court to Major Gilmore; Ans. “No. 5 company were armed, about forty of them, with Spencer rifles, and for those rifles they had under thirty rounds each man; the remainder of the company were armed with long Enfields. The whole regiment had on average forty rounds of ammunition per man.” Q. by the court: “How long were[103] they under fire when the right wing of the 13th were advanced to their relief?” Ans. “I could not form any idea as to the time.” Major Skinner, Adj. Henery, Capts. Askin, Grant, Watson, Ferguson, Lieut. Gibson, Private Urquart, Editor of Spectator, all say that the 13th were engaged about one hour.

Drill of the Q. O. In reply to questions from the Court, Major Gilmore said;

“They were as a rule partially drilled, some men undrilled. Recruits are joining every week. All the available men, drilled and undrilled, were in the field. With the exception of one or two days in May when the whole battalion was out skirmishing, I am satisfied that half of the battalion had never fired a shot,” (with blank cartridge). Ques. “What proportion had not fired with ball cartridge?” Ans. “The proportion was about the same; one half.” Ques. “What proportion of the regiment was composed of lads under 20 years of age?” Ans. “I should say more than half the regiment.” Ques. “Did you observe any difference in the demeanour of the lads and the older soldiers going into action?” Ans. “No. Each were equally cool. I may state here that this was the first occasion in which the whole regiment had the opportunity to skirmish as a battalion. I also wish to state that I saw the right wing of the 13th extend and advance in skirmishing order, and that nothing could exceed the steadiness and regularity with which they advanced.”

decorative line


Toronto Q. O. Rifles.

Killed.—Ensign Malcolm McEachern, No. 5 Company, Sergeant H. Matheson, No. 1, Private Christopher Alderson, No. 7, Private M. Defries, No. 3, Private W. F. Tempest, No. 9, Private William Smith, No. 2, Private J. H. Mewburn, No. 9, Private M. McKenzie, No. 9, Corporal F. Lackie, No. 2.

Wounded.—Captain J. B. Boustead, No. 3 Company, Lieut. J. H. Beaven, No. 3, Lieut. W. C. Campbell, No. 6, Ensign Fahey, No. 1, Color Sergeant Forbes McHardy, No. 10, Private C. F. Bell, No. 5, Private W. Vandersmissen, No. 9, Private Kingsford, No. 9, Private John White, No. 10, Private Paul Robbins, No. 6, Private Thomas Oulster, No. 1, Private William Thompson, No. 2, Private Charles Winter, No. 3, Private Colin Forsyth, No. 10, Private Edward Copp, No. 5, Private J. H. Rutherford, No. 6, Private E. J. Patterson, No. 9, Private Joseph Lugsden, No. 4, Private Alexander Muir, No. 10, Private E. T. Paul, No. 9, Sergeant[104] William Foster, No. 7, Color-Sergeant John Tuck, York Rifles. Private Robert Cranston, ditto.

Hamilton 13th—Wounded.

Private Edwin Hilders, No. 1 Company, Private S. Dallas, No. 3, Private J. G. Powell, No. 3, Private James Stewart, No. 3, Lieut. Routh, No. 4, Private John Donnely, No. 5, Private Richard Pentecost, No. 3, Private McKenzie, No. 4.

Private Morrison died of fatigue. Several suffered from sun stroke.

Welland Field Battery, at Fort Erie Village. Wounded: Capt. King, leg amputated. Sergeant Bradley, and several others very severely.

Fenians Killed.—Nine bodies found on Limestone Ridge, one at French Creek. Several said to have been found dead near Fort Erie, and some bodies carried to Buffalo. Most of the wounded were carried away; two were brought prisoners to Colborne Hospital.

decorative line


Port Colborne, June 2, 1866.

Sir,—I have the honour to report that, in accordance with instructions received from Colonel Peacocke, through Capt. Akers, I proceeded by train at 5 a. m. to-day to Ridgway station on the Buffalo and Lake Huron R. R., with the Queen’s Own, of Toronto, Major Gilmore, say 480 men of all ranks; the York Rifles, Capt. Davis; the Caledonia Rifles, Capt. Jackson; and the 13th Battalion of Hamilton—together about 360 men—total of all ranks, say 840 men, in order to form a junction with Col. Peacocke, at Stevensville, at 9 to 9.30 a. m. On arriving at Ridgway, I sent the Great Western Railway train away; and as I could not obtain a horse or waggon in the place for the conveyance of the force, I was compelled to leave without the stores, and sent them back to Port Colborne at a little before 8 a. m. We were feeling our way on the Stevensville road, and were about three miles from that village, when our advanced guard felt the enemy—Major Gilmore extended the Queen’s Own in skirmishing order, in admirable style—the men advancing in good spirits. They were supported and relieved, as required, by the 13th Battalion of Hamilton and the Rifle companies from[105] York and Caledonia. After Major Gilmore had expended much ammunition, he reported to me that his ammunition was failing. At 9.30, after being engaged under a hot fire for an hour and a half, I observed the enemy throwing back his right and reinforcing his left flank. I immediately ordered up two companies in support, to counteract the movement. At this moment I received a telegram by the hands of Mr. Stovin, Welland Railway, on the field, informing me that Col. Peacocke could not leave Chippewa before 7 o’clock, instead of 5 a. m., the hour named by Capt. Akers on his behalf. The enemy was strongly posted in the woods on the west of the garrison road, the road forming the entrance as it were to a cul de sac. We outflanked him, when he brought up his centre reserves and outflanked us. We drove them, in the first place, over a mile, and held possession of the rifle pits. A cry of cavalry from the front, and the retreat of a number of men in our centre on the reserves, caused me to form a square and prepare for cavalry. This mistake originated from relieved skirmishers doubling back. I immediately re-formed column, and endeavoured to deploy to the right. A panic here seized our men, and I could not bring them again to the front. I regret to say we have lost several valuable officers and men. I estimate the strength of the enemy as greater than ours; and, from the rapid firing, they were evidently armed with repeating rifles.

I have, &c.,
(Signed)       A. BOOKER,
Lieut.-Col. Com. Vol. Militia.

decorative line


Lt.-Col. Dennis; Capt. Akers of Royal Engineers. Welland Field Battery. Capt. McCallum, Lieut. Robb, Steam tug Robb and Dunnville Naval Brigade on 2nd of June. Capt. Harbottle and Hamilton Naval Brigade. Toronto Naval Brigade.

Let us return to Lt.-Col. Dennis who came to Colborne on June 1st commanding the Toronto Q. O. Rifles. He made reconnoisances during the afternoon in various directions; on B. and L. H. Railway twelve miles east from Colborne, to a point five miles from Fort Erie, where the Fenians had burned a railway bridge at 7 a. m. that day. Lt.-Col. Booker having, as senior officer, taken command, Dennis and Capt. Akers of the Royal Engineers, who arrived at midnight from Col. Peacocke to advise and assist went on board the tug steamer Robb at 4 a. m. June 2nd. They took[106] with them the Welland Artillery, with only small arms (their heavy guns being at Hamilton), 3 officers, Capt. King, Lieuts. Scholefield and Nimmo, and 50 men. Lachlan McCallum Esq., owner of the tug, and captain of Dunnville Naval Brigade, with Lieut. Robb, sailing master of the boat and 25 men were present.

Whatever may be said of the indiscretion of attempting to alter the plans of Col. Peacocke who commanded in chief, it must be accorded to the officers of this expedition that they evinced enterprise and courage in seeking to find the enemy at the earliest moment, and confront him in mortal combat when found. The same credit is due to Lt.-Col. Booker. That he is not covered with honorable renown, and known this day as Sir Alfred Booker, Knt. is due to his want of perspicuity of judgment, allied with firmness in the crisis of action, not to a want of preliminary boldness to advance and encounter the enemy. Supported as he was by officers whose souls were in the service, and whose souls were honour, and by men every one of them worthy of such officers; and with an enemy before him well armed and equipped and accustomed to arms and to field strategy the most difficult to cope with, but a strategy affording the more honour to him who circumvents and vanquishes it, namely: the wary, hiding, creeping, advancing, retiring, slippery tactics of desultory bush-fighting, Lt.-Col. Booker had that day a life-long renown within his reach; but he did not grasp the glory flitting before him.

On passing down the river between Buffalo and Fort Erie, a patrol boat of the U. S. steamer Michigan challenged the Robb, and after explanations, permitted its passage, giving information that the Fenians had quitted their entrenchments on French Creek during the night. The Robb went down the river as far as Black Creek, nine miles below Fort Erie village, eight miles above Chippewa. There they were informed that the Fenians had turned westward, passing near New Germany. Says Lieut. Col. Dennis in his report: “A message was at once sent off to Col. Peacocke, we presumed then under previously concerted arrangement to be near there moving up, and we returned with the tug in accordance with that arrangement, to meet Col. Booker and the Port Colborne force at the upper railroad depot at Fort Erie. On our arrival there we could see or hear nothing of them.”

No. Had they come there, the Fenians would have slipped through between both forces, Booker’s and Peacocke’s; done what damage they[107] chose to the Welland Canal, and have been, possibly, afloat on Lake Erie before evening, in shipping seized at Colborne or Dunnville. Or, still possibly, though not probably, they, daring much to obtain a temporary success, might have arrived at the city of Hamilton. What then, imagination declines to suggest.

The Robb then returned to Fort Erie village, where the Welland men were landed. They were divided in two wings; the right with Lieut. Scholefield; the left Lieut. Nimmo, the whole under Capt. King. One wing took the lake shore road, the other the railway line, and scoured the district northerly, collecting prisoners which the farmers and customs officers and villagers had previously captured. They were occasionally accompanied by Lt.-Col. Dennis and Capt. Akers. During the afternoon intelligence reached the village that the Fenians had been engaged and were defeated. Capt. King expecting them to retreat towards the Niagara, put his men on board the Robb, and the prisoners under hatches, and was preparing to defend the vessel by breast-works of cordwood on deck; the vessel to patrol the river and prevent the enemy’s escape. But on Lt.-Col. Dennis who had been for a time absent, returning and assuming command, the Welland company were ordered on shore; for, says Dennis: “concluding that the action which was known to have taken place had resulted in the capture of the enemy, I,” &c. The enemy not having been captured, made a sudden appearance, coming down the street from south, and over the heights, only 100 to 200 yards distant from west. They opened rifle fire on the Welland men at once, which was as promptly returned. Capt. King was shot in the leg; several men were also severely hurt. Dennis, at a run led them to northward, down the river side. Most of the men, and Lieuts. Scholefield and Nimmo occupied Mr. Leslie’s house, the post office, and for a time returned a sharp rifle fire. Ultimately they capitulated as prisoners, being but as one to twelve of their assailants. Windows and doors were riddled with Fenian shot. Lt.-Col. Dennis continued his retreat a half mile further. He entered the house of a friend, Mr. Thomas, changed his clothes, shaved his beard, took a pipe and came out to the door smoking, as if a resident of the house. The Fenians who came in pursuit were told that no one else was there, and returned to the village, not suspecting the man before them to be Lt.-Col. Dennis.

I heard language of severest censure used against Dennis by the Welland company. Since then Capt. King has accused him of cowardice and he has in turn demanded a court of inquiry on his conduct.


The Robb with 65 Fenian prisoners on board and only a portion of the naval brigade fell down the river but afterwards steamed up, exposed to a rifle fire from the shore. The Fenians knew their people were captives on board, and therefore aimed to shoot the steersman. Lieut. Robb stood by the helm, several bullets hitting near him. He proceeded to Colborne and delivered the prisoners. They were carried by railway to Brantford jail. From there to Toronto.

The prisoners whom the Fenians held were detained in the post office, and in Dr. Kempson’s house, Fenian guards over them in the early part of the night. At daybreak they saw no guards. After a time some ventured out. Then all were informed that they were no longer prisoners.

About the time when the Fenians arrived near the village on Saturday afternoon, from Ridgeway, Capt. Akers was near the Fort Erie railway station. He discovered his danger, and having a wheeled conveyance drove away westward, and reached Colborne about seven in the evening. In his report he speaks of finding the garrison there in disorder. The Q. O. exhausted from the battle, and other newly arrived volunteers, being billeted through the village, there was no doubt a semblance of confusion. But Capt. Akers did not see the 13th. They were quartered all in one building, the school house, outside the village, and remained there in as good order as troops usually are in after coming from a long march. I saw them next day and affirm that they were orderly, soldierly, diligent in restoring their accoutrements and clothes to cleanliness. Nothing unusual to the best military regulations issued from their lips, except a unanimous outpouring of scorn against Lt.-Col. Booker.

The Dunnville naval brigade under Capt. McCallum, and the steamer Robb his property, under Lieut. Robb, continued their good service to government and for public interests. They complained of being overlooked in official thanks; and some newspapers intimated that Capt. McCallum, offended at ill-treatment was about to sell his property at Dunnville and leave the Province. They who said so, little understand the patriotism of Lauchlin McCallum; or of his Lieutenant. Their zeal for Canada, the new country adopted, and for old country laws brought to consolidate amplest political freedom with social stability in Canada, is too earnest, to be converted to antagonism, by any temporary oversight, or neglect, or even rebuffs of government.


Captain Harbottle at Hamilton organized a naval company in 1862. He and his officers have twice supplied them with naval uniforms to the number of about seventy; besides paying drill instructors. During the crisis of June and July 1866, when the regular troops were removed from Hamilton to the frontier, this volunteer naval brigade, numbering then 55 men present, some of its members being as sailors absent with their vessels, did all the garrison duty, and did it well. They mounted guards on the stores, magazine, military hospital, and drill-shed armory. They watched the bay. The Captain performed the duty of commandant of Hamilton city in all its departments. He and his men gave the citizens confidence in union with the Volunteer Artillery, and Home Guard. Their services have been appreciated by the people, yet not well rewarded. The uniform of the company instead of coming from government has been provided solely at the expense of the captain and his officers.

In Toronto a naval company was organized, with Mr. McMaster, a merchant, acting as captain. They went to Lake Erie on service in the steamer Rescue in June, which vessel was afterwards manned by British man-of-war’s men from the Aurora frigate. The Toronto company is dissolved. The reason why I have failed to ascertain.

decorative line


At Port Colborne. Officers of Volunteers from St. Catharines and London urge Capt. Akers R. E. to obtain orders to remove Booker from command. The midnight alarm. Morning of 3rd June. Capt McGrath’s Statement. Booker at Hamilton. Returns to Colborne. His telegrams to Col. Lowry commanding Niagara force. Col. L. refuses to restore him to command of the 13th Battalion. Court of Inquiry. Suppression of truth. Perversion of facts.

Capt. Akers stated in his report, after relating what he knew of occurrences at Fort Erie: “I arrived at Colborne between 6 and 7 o’clock in the evening. The troops that had been engaged in the morning were considerably exhausted from want of rest and food. Col. Booker appeared quite overcome with fatigue and anxiety. He begged me to undertake all necessary arrangements, and later in the evening requested me to take the command out of his hands. Finding this was the wish of other volunteer[110] officers of rank superior to myself, I telegraphed for instructions, and was desired by Col. Lowry to take the command.”

The troops which had arrived at Colborne since the morning were seven volunteer companies of Prince Arthur’s Own, from London C. W. Four of the 22nd Oxford, with the Drumbo company attached, and two companies of Home Guards from St. Catharines.

Added to these were now the Q. O. and 13th battalions, York and Caledonia companies, in all about 1,400. Brigadier-General Booker who last night asserted his seniority and took command, was now in a condition of maudlin imbecility. He should have taken command of this force of 1,400. There it was, for aught that any mortal could tell, exposed on one of the most important strategical points of Canada to a reinforced enemy from Fort Erie; and to invasion by water from southern ports of Lake Erie. Nobody in command. That man, whom a court of inquiry subsequently pronounced to have behaved as a soldier, now going about in a condition of idiotcy. Had he surrendered to his next in command in the 13th measures of precaution would have been taken. But Major Skinner knew nothing of Booker’s resignation. The garrison was without a responsible head. Lt.-Col. McGiverin, M. P. P., arrived at 5 p. m. and assisted.

About midnight an alarm was sounded. The troops who lay accoutred rose, fell in, stood to arms, threw out patrols, and strengthened piquets. Booker was lying among the men in the school house, weary no doubt, as all were. He was shaken, rolled over, and violently pulled in efforts to arouse him (men’s statement). Then he arose staring wildly, calling, “Where are they? Where are they? What shall I do? What can I do?”


At one o’clock, a. m., Sunday morning, 3rd of June, 1866, sixteen hours after the combat with the Fenians, at Limestone Ridge, Capt. McGrath, General Manager of the Welland Railway, received at St. Catharines the following telegram from Port Colborne.

“Men at Station, Hurry up. A new attack expected here.” This was signed by Dr. Mack, of St. Catharines, who was then at Colborne. The meaning of the message was obscure. But a train was placed upon the track without delay, and certain companies of Volunteers carried from St. Catharines to Colborne, Mr. McGrath accompanying the train. While backing to clear the crossing of the Buffalo and Lake Huron line, and[111] while it was yet barely daylight, a person came on the Welland line platform, at a running pace, carrying a cloak, and a sword and belt loose in his arms. This was Colonel Booker. In manner and language, excited and incoherent, he cried; “For God’s sake send back this train to St. Catharines. I want to go—to go now. We are attacked in the woods a mile back, the alarm has just sounded, I want to go to St. Catharines at once, send this train special!”

Capt. McGrath replied that the train could not go then, the wounded and sick were to be carried in it and he must wait for them. To which Colonel Booker rejoined, “Hold my cloak! what shall we do? we are attacked, hold my cloak.” “I cannot hold your cloak, sir, I have other business to attend to, some of these men about the platform can hold it.” That was the response of the General Manager. Then said Colonel Booker, “Take my sword, hold my sword”. On which Mr. McGrath responded, “Really, Sir, I have no time to hold your sword, I am busy”. Colonel Booker again murmured incoherently, something about the Fenians being in the wood, and that he wanted to go a passenger to St. Catharines by the train.

His words, action and look, suggested that he was in a condition of violent mental aberration.

An alarm had just then, or shortly before, been sounded by the bugles, and the 13th battalion of which Booker was Lieutenant Colonel, as well as the other volunteers which with the 13th he had commanded as General of brigade on the previous day, had turned out and were standing under arms.

An attack was expected. He had left them to their fate.

Either Colonel Booker was in a condition of temporary insanity in relation to his duty, on one hand, and in relation to his personal danger on the other, or he was sane, and wanted to escape the supposed danger of another Fenian fight. Which of these conditions do his friends elect to judge him by.

The foregoing statement was first published when the Court of Inquiry was about to meet at Hamilton. In August it was again submitted to Capt. McGrath to know if lapse of time, or newer information had led him to modify his first impressions. He said this was true, and various other occurrences of that morning and of the evening before, not related in that[112] statement, confirmed the opinion that Booker was on those days wholly unfitted, physically and mentally, for military command.

One of these officers of volunteers whom Capt. Akers alludes to as of superior rank to himself and who advised that Booker, for the safety of all, should be removed from command of any, was on Sunday morning witness of his frantic imbecility in clutching hold of Mr. McGrath at the railway depot.

Lt.-Col. Booker went to Hamilton on Sunday 3rd June. Telegrams published there on the 4th gave him information that the Fenians were vanquished: had retreated across the Niagara river, after a fight with the Welland field battery and Dunnville naval brigade on the 2nd and were intercepted by the U. S. steamer Michigan, which held them prisoners for breach of the neutrality laws. On the evening of Monday the 4th Booker re-appeared at Colborne. He telegraphed to Col. Lowry as if nothing had occurred to interrupt his command, “I am here awaiting your orders.” This was not replied to. But on next day Col. Lowry, in a telegram to Lt.-Col. Villiers of the 47th regulars who was there, inquired; “What does Booker mean? He says he awaits my orders. He resigned his command on Saturday; it was accepted; he cannot be re-instated.” On being informed of this Booker telegraphed again that he had only resigned command of the brigade, not of the 13th battalion. Col. Lowry did not answer, but sent to Lt.-Col. Villiers saying: “Major Skinner commands the 13th battalion; render him all the assistance he may require. If Col. Booker is not satisfied he may apply to Major-General Napier.”

Booker on next day returned to Hamilton, went to Toronto, and induced General Napier to telegraph to Lt.-Col. Villiers to assemble the officers of the 13th, and submit a proposal that they should sign a letter of solicitation, asking to have Lt.-Col. Booker restored to the 13th battalion. The officers refused to sign any such application. They unequivocally made known to the military authorities, then and afterwards, that if Booker were restored to the command of the battalion they would not serve under him. By him their honor had been impugned; by him the battalion was maligned, and all to cover his own unsoldierly, scandalous misconduct. Not alone on the field, but by his desertion of them and misrepresentation at Port Colborne.

He applied for a Court of Inquiry. It was granted. Three volunteer colonels assembled at Hamilton on 3rd of July. Col. Denison of[113] Toronto, President; Colonels Chisholm of Oakville, and Shanly of London C. W., members. The officers of the 13th were not permitted to be present at the Inquiry neither in their own persons, nor by a legal representative to examine witnesses, and keep them to lines of truth, and to lead them to a development of truth, beyond the points at which it suited Booker to interrupt them. And yet he, with the assistance of a lawyer out of doors, had his choice of persons and questions, and style of putting questions at his discretion. And the Court acquiesced in that mockery of Inquiry. Witnesses who would have given inculpatory evidence had they told truth, as they tell it out of doors, were not called.

But the Court pronounced: “That so far as the courage and character of Lt.-Col. Booker, with reference to his command of the force engaged with the enemy at Lime Ridge, on Saturday the 2nd of June, are affected, there is not the slightest foundation for the unfavorable imputations cast upon him in the public prints, and most improperly circulated through that channel and otherwise.”

“And the Court lastly find that the whole of the wounded and sick were brought with the retreating column.”

The wounded and killed were left on the field except in the cases of slight hurts.

On 11th of August the official Gazette announced that the command of the 13th, battalion, resigned by Lt.-Col. Booker on 8th of May had been accepted and that Major James Skinner was appointed to the Lieut.-Colonelcy. Colonel Lowry as chief in Niagara District had refused to re-instate Col. Booker on the 5th of June when he begged to be re-appointed, he having been superseded on the 2nd. Who re-instated him so that he should be gazetted out of command on the 11th of August? But he remains commandant of Hamilton, of the volunteer forces, the 13th included, naval brigade, and artillery. He is a gentleman of good address, and looks well on holidays.

The Wounded.—Lieut. Routh, of the 13th, has stated that when he and other wounded volunteers were left in the house, (log house on the map) Colonel O’Neil entered, and after enquiring about their wounds, expressed hope that the Lieut. would recover. “Does your sword-belt hurt you?” said the Fenian chief. “Take it off,” replied Mr. Routh; “I am your prisoner; I suppose the sword is, by right of war, yours.”[114] O’Neil removed it, handling the wounded officer tenderly; then said: “No, I will not take it, it’s possession may be a solace to you; I will leave it by your side.” “Thank you,” rejoined Mr. Routh, “but some one less kind may come and take it.” Said O’Neil “Let me conceal it under the bedding.” And he placed the sword under the mattress, where it might not be seen by any less honorable visitors, and in mild accents said farewell. Mr. Routh has recovered, but no one then thought him likely to recover.

Mr. Lawson of Colborne, who was present near the fight and remained among the wounded, relates that O’Neil or some other Fenian officer gave him a written protection to go over the field and collect the wounded into the houses. Major Denison on this, pp. 69, 70, says:

“Before closing this chapter I must mention that from all accounts the Fenians, except in so far as they were wrong in invading a peaceful country, in carrying on an unjustifiable war, behaved remarkably well to the inhabitants, I spent three weeks in Fort Erie and conversed with dozens of the people of the place, and was astonished at the universal testimony borne by them to the unvarying good conduct of this rabble while among them. They claimed food and horses, but they can hardly be blamed for that as an act of war, but can only be blamed because the war itself, which alone could give them the right to take these things was unjustifiable and wicked. They have been called plunderers, robbers and marauders, yet, no matter how unwilling we may be to admit it, the positive fact remains, that they stole but few valuables, that they destroyed, comparatively speaking, little or nothing and that they committed no outrages on the inhabitants but treated every one with unvarying courtesy.

“On taking a number of the Welland Battery and the Naval Company prisoners they treated them with the greatest kindness, putting the officers under their parole and returning them their side-arms, taking them down to the wharf on their departure and releasing them, bidding them adieu with expressions of good will.”

But the treatment of the University rifleman, the youthful student, J. H. Mewburn, was by evidence of surviving associates, not tender nor chivalrous.

“John Herman Mewburn, who fell at Lime-ridge, a member of the University College Rifles, was a student of three years standing, and had distinguished himself very highly at Upper Canada College, and also at the University of Toronto where he carried off four scholarships, and although in ill health from hard study, and unfit for service, he hesitated not a moment at the call of duty to join his brave comrades. In the retreat he fell, struck by a rifle bullet on the temple, which fractured the inner plate, and produced delirium and convulsions. He was made prisoner by the enemy, robbed, and very roughly if not cruelly used by them. His hands were bound[115] behind him and he was thrown on his face, but at the earnest request of a wounded comrade, Mr. Rupert Kingsford, he was turned on his back, and his hands unbound half an hour before he died. Loved and esteemed by all who knew him, and deeply regretted in death, the inhabitants of his native township honored him with the highest honors it was in their power to bestow, viz: a public funeral. The deceased was a grandson of the late Dr. Mewburn of Danby House, Stamford, County of Welland, and had just attained his twenty-first year.

Prisoners of War.—When two parties come into mortal combat, and each holds prisoners taken from the other, a law of expediency arises out of present circumstances, over-riding all other laws. The United States, during the war of 1861-65, held rebel prisoners who by the national laws had forfeited their lives. Yet in view of the fact that the rebels held prisoners taken from the army of legitimate authority, that authority was by expediency forced to treat its captives as prisoners of war. To have hanged them as traitors would have led to the rebel power hanging prisoners in retaliation.

By the laws of civilized communities the Fenian invaders of Canada are pirates and liable to the penalties for repression and punishment of piracy. Humanity may plead for them on one hand. Indignant vengeance may denounce humanity and demand execution of the laws against piracy on the other. But while passion and abstract principles are thus at issue, expediency arises and presents the subject of contention in another aspect, this is the practical aspect. The time is 4 p. m. June 2nd. Lt.-Col. Dennis, Capt. Akers, Capt. King, Lieut. Scholefield, Lieut. Nimmo and seventy-five men had, at their mercy, fifty-nine piratical prisoners an hour ago. The fifty-nine are under hatches on board the steamer Robb. By the laws against piracy they have forfeited their lives. But now, through the fortunes of war, in one hour, Capt. King, Lieuts. Scholefield, Nimmo and fifty out of the seventy-five are captives to Fenians. Had the seventy-five Canadians slain the fifty-nine Fenians when first captured, might not the fellow Fenians of the fifty-nine slay the disarmed fifty now? For the present there is no power to prevent them. But happily the fifty-nine were uninjured after surrendering to the seventy-five. The fifty being captives in their turn are unhurt. The higher law, the law of expediency, which is in this case the law of humanity, has interposed.

And the circumstances of one day may be the chances of war on another day. Heaven forbid that day should come.


I write on this subject with a military experience as to prisoners of war not acquired by many now alive, and known to but few in Canada. When I served as a soldier on the side of Queen Isabella and constitutional government in Spain, 1835 to 1838, our enemy in the field fought under the banner of the Durango Decree of Don Carlos which was, “Death to every prisoner taken in arms.”

All prisoners taken from the British Legion were without mercy executed, and in some cases tortured before execution. That decree was carried into effect. But did it deter, as its diabolical authors intended it should, the British Legion, (English, Irish, Scotch, twenty thousand of them,) from engaging in the hazards of such a conflict? No; the Durango Decree of, “Death to every prisoner,” transformed ordinary men into extraordinary devils. And I was one of them. Of a mild type, yet one of them.

decorative line


Camp at Thorold in August and September, 1866. Meeting of the 13th and Queen’s Own, first time after the action of 2nd June. Speech of Adjutant General McDougal. Corrections. Additions. Varieties.

Fenian demonstrations on the U. S. frontier under name of picnic festivals, with sham fights caricaturing the Limestone Ridge affair—one near Buffalo on the 21st of August; together with openly avowed, widely announced determination of Fenian leaders to invade Canada soon, secretly, and with augmented numbers; and in addition to those circumstances of threatened aggression, a sense of propriety in Canada, of promoting the military education of the Volunteers by service in the field, it was resolved that a camp should be established at Thorold. The ground selected was on the high level overlooking the town of St. Catharines, G. Western Railway, and Welland Canal locks, to the westward of Thorold village. The first troops posted were volunteers, 10th from Toronto, 7th from London; a portion of the 16th regulars, and of Royal Artillery; also Major Denison’s Toronto Troop of Volunteer Cavalry. They assembled on the 18th of August. On the 26th the Volunteers were relieved by Q. O. from Toronto; the 13th, Hamilton; and 22nd Oxford Rifles, the latter from Woodstock,[117] Drumbo, and other places in Oxford County. On arrival of the 13th and Q. O. on the ground the first under Lt.-Col. Skinner, the latter under their Limestone Ridge commander Major Gilmore; the Adjutant General brought them together in column, and in the spirit of a soldier, and military philosopher, thus addressed them:

“I am glad that I happened to be here to welcome to camp the two battalions who fought at Lime-ridge. I know that foolish people have done their best to create a feeling of jealousy between the corps, by praising the performance of one at the expense of the other. I say that all honor is due to both; and that there is not the smallest foundation for the statement that one battalion was, in any respect, behind the other in gallantry on that occasion. Up to the moment when the unfortunate alarm of cavalry was given, I say, and I declare I speak it without exaggeration, that no troops of any army or nation could have behaved better than did the two battalions of inexperienced volunteers who, at Lime-ridge, attacked an enemy posted in a strong position of his own choosing, without the support of a single regular officer or soldier. And what I said at the time I repeat now—that the manner in which the volunteers alone sought out the enemy and attacked him like bull dogs, before he had been twenty-four hours on Canadian soil, produced both a moral and physical effect which disconcerted his whole general plan of operations. He had landed at a remote corner of our territory, counting securely on being left unmolested for at least forty-eight hours, during which period the attacks on other points were to be matured; but thanks to the men I see before me, and to the York and Caledonia Rifles, that time was not allowed him.

“The equal share taken by the Hamilton 13th in that day’s work was not undervalued by the Governor-General; neither was it in any manner the fault of the Queen’s Own, for that regiment is composed of brave men, and brave men never depreciate the gallantry of their comrades in the field. I have been told that the feeling which exists between the two battalions is such that it would be dangerous to bring them to this camp at the same time. I will not believe that such is the case, and I have purposely brought them here together to prove that such an apprehension is groundless and that the only rivalry existing between them is the honorable rivalry as to which regiment shall do the best service to the country. I appeal to you all earnestly to show by your brotherly demeanor while in camp that I have judged correctly. If it were possible that by unseemly quarrels you should prove me mistaken, I shall of course be severely blamed for my misplaced confidence.

“A few words now on another matter. Both newspapers and individuals have asserted that the government has been and is neglecting its duty in the matter of proper equipment for the volunteers. That statement is untrue. There is no foundation for it whatever. I would ask who is it that[118] is responsible for the faulty equipment, who is responsible for the starving of the militia expenditure up to the last meeting of parliament? Why the people of Canada through their representatives; and I declare positively that from the moment of the passing of the last militia estimates, no government could have done more than the present government has done to render the volunteer force efficient. It is natural that the people of Canada should be impatient in this matter, but they should consider that the labor to be performed is enormous and that the completion of it must take time. When it is considered that new clothing had to be issued to the greater part of the old existing force; that knapsacks, haversacks and water canteens had to be provided; that the field batteries required new harness as well as guns and stores, and that the cavalry required saddlery and firearms, at the same time that about 150 new companies were to be equipped throughout, it must be evident that the work could not be done with that rapidity which all must so earnestly desire. Even before the militia estimates were passed an urgent request was forwarded to England that a complete equipment in knapsacks, haversacks, tent equipage, &c., for 35,000 volunteers should be sent to Canada, as well as for the necessary harness and armament of four field batteries and for a supply of heavy guns for the instruction of the garrison artillery. The Imperial stores in Canada have been drawn upon to their utmost capacity for our pressing wants, and to make up deficiencies contracts have been entered into in Canada for haversacks, water canteens and boots, and as a substitute for knapsacks, which can only be obtained from England, great coat straps have been made or are making in Canada sufficient to supply every man of the force. New rifles have been sent to London, Hamilton and Toronto for the purpose of exchanging damaged or unserviceable arms. I have entered into this explanation in order that the country may know that the militia department is doing its utmost to enable the volunteer force to take the field, if required, with that full and proper equipment which its merits so well deserve.”

Correction.—On page 112, the name of Lt.-Col. Villiers is used where it should be brigade Major Villiers. The name of the Lt.-Col. was also associated with the subject. The passage relating to Booker’s resignation at Colborne on 2nd June, and his telegrams to Col. Lowry commanding in chief, soliciting to be re-instated in the 13th Battalion should read thus: Lt.-Col. Booker on returning to Colborne, from Hamilton, evening of June 4th, telegraphed to Col. Lowry saying, “I am waiting for orders.” Brigade Major Villiers telegraphed on his behalf to the same effect. Col. Lowry replied to the Brigade Major: “What does Booker mean? He was relieved of his command at his own request, and will not be re-instated by me; Major Skinner is in command.” Booker then telegraphed to Col. Lowry: “I only asked to be relieved of the command of the Brigade, not of the 13th Battalion.” Col. Lowry replied referring[119] him to Maj.-Gen. Napier. Booker then telegraphed to Napier and remained in Colborne until Wednesday, June 6th. Lt.-Col. Villiers had not then arrived at Colborne, nor until some time after, the date I cannot ascertain. This correction is made to obviate the mistake of introducing that officer’s name in that stage of the electric correspondence. But the main fact stands as before, which is, that Lt.-Col. Booker, left the 13th battalion early on the morning of Sunday, 3rd of June, without announcing his departure to Major Skinner, next in seniority in the battalion. The officers mentioned by Capt. Akers of “superior in rank to himself,” who had, on the evening of the 2nd, urged Booker’s removal from command, by reason of his manifest incompetence, saw him on morning of the 3rd when the force was about to be led towards the supposed position of the enemy; bear witness to his exhibition of imbecility, or whatever his malady may have been, at the railway station, as related by Mr. McGrath, manager of the Welland Railway, when he pleaded to be sent away, in his flight from Colborne, by a special train.

I have not in the proper place named it so explicitly as the circumstance demands, that Booker had reported that the 13th were demoralized, that is in a military sense unfit for duty, untrustworthy before an enemy. That is the military signification of a battalion being demoralized. The troops then at Colborne, June 3rd, 4 a. m., were about to march towards the scene of yesterday’s action; and the 13th, whether because of Booker’s slanderous report or not, yet with it resting on them, were left behind, in Colborne. There lay the stigma from which the officers on their own behalf and that of the gallant fellows of yesterday’s combat sought to be absolved before the public, through Booker’s Court of Inquiry, which, however, refused them a status in it as parties, or a place within its doors as listeners to what others said involving their interests. True, it has since been officially stated that the 13th was left there to do garrison duty. But the invidious distinction was not removed by that explanation, of the Toronto Q. O., Caledonia and York companies being taken to the scene of yesterday’s fight where an enemy was expected on the 3rd, and the 13th left out, apparently as unworthy. And there was this other set of aggravations. The Q. O. notwithstanding what Adj.-Gen. McDougal has so handsomely said at Thorold camp, (see another page), that brave men never calumniate their fellow soldiers, did set afloat stories at their new quarters in Fort Erie village, and in their letter-writing to Toronto, slandering the 13th. The St. Catharines Journal had a reporter at Fort Erie camp, and his ear was filled,[120] his paper supplied in turn, with calumnious lies about the 13th and unqualified praises of the Q. O. Other volunteer companies such as Barrie and Scarboro took the story from the Q. O. and when they came to do garrison duty at Colborne along side of the 13th, about June 12th, were insolent almost beyond endurance. “If we had been in the fight,” said they, “we would not have heeded Booker’s bugle calls to retire; we would have gone on with the battle, we would.” That is each man would have taken the command upon himself.

It was about the 11th or 12th of June that Lt.-Col. Villiers met the officers of the 13th at Colborne and stated that it was the desire of Maj. Gen. Napier that Lt.-Col. Booker should resume command of the battalion. He urged that “bygones should be bygones,” but they all without exception said Lt.-Col. Booker could never command the battalion again, while they remained its officers. They were not, it seems, asked to write a letter of solicitation to have him re-instated. At Colborne, I was informed that such a request had been made. And so gave it in the Narrative written from my Notes.

The names of certain witnesses presented to Booker’s Court of Inquiry may have been considered by the Court as withdrawn. The officers of the 13th decided to have nothing to do with it when Major Skinner was refused the privilege of being present as a party to the proceedings.

I have only briefly, for want of space, referred to the evidence of the Rev. Mr. Inglis. It should have been added that when Booker contradicted him about the horse, saying “No, not on horseback, I returned to Ridgeway on foot,” or words to that effect; Mr. Inglis addressing the Court said; “Well, gentlemen, if I were on my oath I would only repeat what I have just said.”

The passage on page 110, second paragraph: “Had he surrendered to his next in command of the 13th,, measures of precaution would have been taken,” may be misunderstood. It means that Major Skinner would have taken command of the 13th and posted its guards and night piquets. There were superior officers present. See paragraph beginning St. Catharines Home Guard.

That Flag. It was reported that but for the Q. O. the 13th would have lost their colours. The colours were never out of the keeping of Ensigns Armstrong and Baker and the guard told off to attend them. When[121] the whole of the 13th went into action, right wing in front, left wing supporting, the colours took post with the reserve of the brigade consisting entirely of the unengaged companies of Q. O. When that reserve led the retreat the Ensigns of the 13th retreated with it. The story which Toronto papers first started reached New York. There the pictorial journalists added to the Toronto fiction, and made pictures of a flag of the “Queen’s Own” captured by Fenians. The Q. O. had no flag. And here, I repeat, that commanders of experience will not take flags into a wooded country upon a desultory campaign of bush-fighting. But an order to that effect should emanate from the Commander-in-chief.

Page 98. “Major Skinner had partially succeeded in forming a red line across the road with fixed bayonets directed against the retreat.” The Major did not state this to me and he is too conscientious to accept a statement made by others, which it seems is not strictly correct. At that point, [near log house on the map] Major Skinner and Lieut. Routh were together and endeavoured to form a party. Two lads in red, with fixed bayonets had faced round as ordered, and others seemed willing to stand by the officers, when a rush of men in green uniforms [Highlanders or U. R.’s retreating from the extreme right] pushed over them, trampling one of the lads, Parker by name, under foot. He was found by the Fenians insensible and carried into an adjoining house. In a few moments after that Major Skinner was told that Lieut. Routh was killed. The wound however, was not mortal. The Major like others who came last out of the field, expected that a re-formation of the force would be made at Ridgeway; but on arriving there he and they saw nothing of Lt.-Col. Booker, or Major Gilmore, or of any one attempting to restore order. Under these circumstances Major Skinner, and officers with him lent assistance to support some disabled men along; they could do no more at that time.

O’Neil at Nashville.—On pages 83, 84 a letter from the Fenian General O’Neil is quoted. It was asked for in the following terms: “Hamilton Canada West, July 23rd, 1866. Sir. I am a correspondent of British newspapers resident in this city, and author of a small work soon to be published bearing some such title as ‘Somerville’s Narrative of the Fenian Invasion of Canada, June 1866.’ As such I take the liberty of writing this note and soliciting a reply to questions which to me as a truthful journalist and current historian are important.

“Before stating the questions permit me to remark that while I as a British subject deprecate and deplore your invasion of Canada, I am constrained[122] by force of truth to acknowledge, and will in my forthcoming Narrative place the acknowledgement on permanent record that you individually, as also some of your officers and men performed acts of kindness to some of our wounded; and that you and also some of your officers interfered with persons in your force to prevent outrages on property and persons.

“It has been reported in American newspapers but the report varying in its terms that in conversation at Buffalo and subsequently in a public speech at Nashville, you paid a military compliment, which coming from one in your position was a generous tribute to your enemy, those Canada Volunteers who were in conflict with you on the 2nd of June at Limestone Ridge.

“You are reported to have called them the ‘Queen’s Own’ and to have spoken of them as wearing red uniform. Some newspapers reprinting the report in Canada have omitted the words red uniform. The only troops in red which were in conflict with you, or in your sight on June 2nd were the 13th battalion of Volunteer Militia from Hamilton. The ‘Queen’s Own’ from Toronto wore dark green uniform; as also two detached companies from Caledonia and York villages. Did you speak of the whole force opposed to you as the ‘Queen’s Own’? Did you speak of a part of the force before you as wearing red uniform? Did you in your speech distinguish, which I presume expressed any distinction observed by you on the field of action, between that portion of the Canadian force wearing dark green and that wearing red uniforms?

“If it be agreeable to you to repeat in writing any statement which you made in Buffalo or at Nashville about the Canadian force opposed to you on the 2nd of June 1866, your courtesy will be duly appreciated.

“I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
Alexander Somerville.”

“General John O’Neil, Nashville, Tennessee.”

The portion of the reply relating to red uniforms and affecting the 13th battalion is printed on page 84.

I quote a passage from O’Neil’s Nashville speech in which he disclaims that the plunderers who followed him to Canada were Fenians. It is small comfort to Canadians to be told that American thieves coming over the line under cover of a Fenian invasion are not of the brotherhood. He said “I wish to correct another false report, that ninety of our men were taken prisoners by the enemy. Only a few who did not remain with their command, and a few who were wounded and could not be removed were captured. The other prisoners were camp followers who accompanied the expedition for plunder, and some who went out of curiosity. These robbers I hope will get a halter yet. Had I known them I would have strung them up myself.”

In another passage O’Neil said of the action of the American Government:[123] “The reinforcement that would certainly have reached us that night, and have enabled us to hold our ground, was stopped by the vigilance and promptness of the United States government on the way to us.”

The retreat of O’Neil’s army over the Niagara on June 3rd was in a considerable part intercepted by the U. S. gun-boat Michigan. About 600 were detained as U. S. prisoners on a charge of a breach of the neutrality treaty and law of nations, of whom were 18 officers. The latter after proceedings in the N. Y. State courts, were held to bail, but in August discharged. The rank and file of the Fenians were set free at once. And some thousands were provided with conveyance to their homes by the American government.

St. Catharines.—Limited space compels to an apparent oversight and injustice to the many gallant volunteers called out in all parts of the country, and who hardly waited to be called in the fervor of their patriotism, but I cannot omit the St. Catharine’s Home Guard inasmuch as Lt.-Col. McGiverin, M. P. P., who took it to Port Colborne, on 2nd June, was for a time the superior in command at that strategically important place. This gentleman is Member of the Legislative Assembly for the County of Lincoln, and has places of business both in St. Catharines and Hamilton. Receiving intelligence of the Fenian landing on Fort Erie shore, through Brigade Major Villiers, he, with that officer, Colonel Peacocke, and Mr. Swinyard of the G. W. Railway, proceeded to the station at Hamilton where arrangements were made to transport the volunteers from Hamilton, Paris, Brantford, Grimsby, Beamsville and St. Catharines to meet the enemy.

On the morning of the 2nd of June, Lt.-Col. McGiverin procured 200 stand of arms, which were conveyed to St. Catharines. And there he organized a Home Guard to aid in the defence of that town. The greatest enthusiasm was manifested by all classes of persons in St. Catharines. Young and old of the male population pressed forward, praying to be admitted to the honor and privilege and duty of defending the country. Ladies offered assistance in whatever manner help could be available. And it became available in various ways, for volunteers at the front, and for the sick and wounded brought from the front to St. Catharines town hall, converted on the emergency into a general military hospital.

On Saturday, June 2, about noon, intelligence was received of the fight at Limestone Ridge, and the subsequent retreat of the volunteers who had first defeated the enemy, to Port Colborne. Col. McGiverin called for men of the Home Guard to volunteer to Colborne. In less than an hour about one hundred and forty offered, were accepted, and were on passage up the Welland railway to aid their countrymen in driving the invaders out of the peaceful land they had dishonored by their presence.

On arrival at Colborne Lt.-Col. Booker was met. He appeared exhausted. Col. McGiverin offered him every assistance in his power. A portion[124] of the volunteers who had been in the fight being without provisions, their wants were supplied from temporary stores brought up from St. Catharines.

About 5 p. m. the steam tug Robb, under command of Capt. McCallum, arrived in port from Niagara river with 59 prisoners. These were placed under charge of Col. McGiverin, with instructions to have them conveyed to Welland County prison. But from alarming rumors that a Fenian army reinforced since morning, was marching on the Welland canal, the Colonel judged that it would be unsafe to have them in a position so much exposed. He therefore sent them to Brantford, under a guard of thirty-five of his men, commanded by Capt. Rykert, having previously telegraphed the Sheriff of Brantford to receive them.

Col. McGiverin believing it possible that the enemy might attack Colborne during Saturday night felt it prudent to order the hotels and drinking saloons to be closed, which was promptly and cheerfully done. Finding a large portion of the force then in Colborne without ammunition he telegraphed to Maj.-Gen. Napier for supplies. To that requisition there was a prompt response. A large quantity arrived in charge of an officer of the commissariat department at 3.30 a. m., Sunday 3rd June. The troops were immediately paraded and ammunition served out. All expressed an impatient desire to advance upon the enemy. The main body soon after left, and by a circuitous route of 22 miles reached Fort Erie before breakfast.

The noble manner in which the Militia of Lincoln (without uniforms and without expectation of receiving pay), behaved on that occasion is deserving of the highest praise. As evidence of the gallant spirit which inspired all, youthful and aged, to seek the enemy, it may be related that two veterans of the war of 1812 were present; Lewis Clement a man of 80 years, who had been wounded at the battle of Chippewa in that war, and Capt. John Gibson, aged 75. They made the whole march over rough roads, rifles on shoulder, from Colborne to Erie Village.

The 13th battalion as already stated were retained at Colborne on that morning to do garrison duty. Farther evidence is not requisite as to their efficiency, their earnest desire to share in the expected combat with the enemy, and their well grounded mortification at being left behind, in consequence of the misrepresentation of Lt.-Col. Booker. But Col. McGiverin bears testimony that the 13th were in every respect soldier-like and fit for any duty on that occasion. Of the manner in which Col. Booker left them, left Colborne, that morning and hurried to Hamilton, enough has been said in these pages.

decorative line



Invasion of the frontier of Eastern Townships, Lower Canada. Freligsburg. Pigeon Hill. Losses by Fenian invasion. Compensation paid. Another invasion threatened.

The Fenian plans of invasion, as sketched in the first chapter, embraced the river St. Lawrence and the Eastern Townships frontier of Lower Canada. The intervention of the United States authorities to enforce the laws of neutrality and intercept the incursion of the Fenians into Canada has been lightly esteemed, after the event, by some in this country from whom a wiser policy might be expected. I am not of their number, but prefer to say, as Her Majesty’s speech at the prorogation of the imperial parliament said; as the Prime Minister, head of the great conservative party of Britain, said; as his son, Lord Stanley, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said, that the friendly action of the American government was just and honorable and entitled to the thanks of this Province and of the Empire. On the 8th of June President Johnson issued a proclamation directed in strong terms against such citizens of the United States as had taken part in or been accessory to the Fenian raid upon Canada. It was late, but the government had intervened to arrest the passage of Fenians to the frontier, before the proclamation was issued. Its true value is to be estimated by a calculation of what was likely to have occurred had no hindrance to the invaders been opposed by the American authorities; or by the measure of disquietude now, month of September, prevailing in apprehension that the President and his cabinet have ceased to enforce neutrality, as they enforced it in June.

The portion of the Narrative which falls to this concluding chapter comprises a mingled sketch of Fenians pressing to the frontier, and intercepted by United States troops; or crossing the boundary line in Lower Canada, committing depredations and escaping from before Provincial forces directed against them.

Under date of New York, June 5th, it was reported that quantities of ammunition and arms had been seized at O’Day’s, in Buffalo, the day before and confiscated. But that on the other hand that Fenians were moving upon Canada from Malone and were said to have artillery. A Montreal despatch to New York said that all was quiet on the 4th at Plattsburg, Lake Champlain and in that vicinity. That there was a large number of Fenian spies in the city. That the Mayor had compelled the police to take the oath of allegiance, but that a number had refused, (last not true). And it was thought the Fenians would cross and make a stand near Cornwall.

A Rutland, Vermont, despatch of same date, June 5th, said that the main body of Fenians at Fairfield met smaller columns at Swanton and[126] Fairfax about 12 miles from the Canada lines. And that they had in large force crossed the border and were marching toward the St. Lawrence, the border there being only a geographical line. And in the night of June 4th, a force was said to have come up by the Vermont Central railroad, 2000 strong.

Same date specials from St. Albans, Vermont, said 31 cases of Fenian arms had been seized at Rouse’s Point. And the St. Albans Fenian camp under Colonel Spears had moved towards the Canada line. And special messages from General Sweeney had reached Spears. Something important was expected to be immediately done.

Ogdensburg specials intimated that Canada had about 2,000 regulars and volunteers assembled at Prescott, the scene of the fight at Windmill point in the rebellion days of 1837, where United States adventurers committed the mistake, the crime of crossing into this Province.

Other specials of the same date, June 5, received in New York, were as follows: One from Potsdam said, the Beauharnois canal [in the St. Lawrence group] was cut by Fenians from Coteau du Lac to the river; also, that Gen. Murphy was to cross at St. Regis and Cornwall with 4,500 infantry, and another column was to cross at Beauharnois or Laprairie, and cut the Lachine canal. Gen. Spears, with 3,000 men was to move from St. Albans via Philipsburg, cutting the railroad at St. John’s Junction and the Grand Trunk at St. Hilaire and St. Hyacinthe.

Watertown, N. Y., June 5.—The Fenian train was come up with at Richville by a company of U. S. troops, who took the arms, ammunition and men in charge. Cincinnati. O., June 5.—$3,000 were subscribed for the Fenian cause at a meeting on the previous night. It was stated that 3,000 Fenians had left for the frontier.

Boston, June 5.—It was estimated that 600 Fenians left Boston yesterday afternoon for St. Albans and northern New York. About 300 belonging to the 3rd regiment left by the Lowell road. About the same number took the Fitchburg R. R.

A Montreal special said the authorities had reliable information that the Fenians were marching from Fairfield on St. Armand.

Toronto, June 5.—A Toronto special said the Volunteers and Regulars had been recalled from the front, and would concentrate at Toronto.

Boston, June 5.—That day special despatches from St. Albans said the main column of the Fenians commenced moving from Fairfield at 4 o’clock p. m. yesterday. The column headed towards Canada. Seven car loads of Fenians arrived from Massachusetts this morning bound for the front.


New York, June 5.—Colonel James Kerrigan, late member of Congress, left on Saturday in command of a full brigade, the officers were taken from various volunteer regiments in the late rebellion.

New York, June 5.—The Tribune’s telegram, dated Hamilton, C. W. said 2000 men were concentrated along the line of the Detroit and St. Clair rivers. The main concentration of troops was about Prescott, that being considered the real point of attack. Few troops from the west had been sent to that point, it being guarded by the regulars and volunteers from Montreal. The west was quiet all the troops being at the front.

The reports telegraphed on the 6th, 7th and 8th were but repetitions of the foregoing, with additions to the effect that Spears had crossed near St. Albans; and Heffernan at a point farther west. Then came detailed accounts of the marching of Volunteers and regulars from Montreal and elsewhere in the east to confront the invaders in the counties of Missisquoi and Huntingdon. A Montreal correspondent wrote of the volunteers thus:

“Frelighsburg, 11th June.—I learned on Sunday afternoon that troops were to be sent to St. Johns by special train; and managed to procure permission to come out with them. This was so far towards the front, and I might either by a team, or another train with troops for the front reach the Missisquoi frontier. The troops sent forward were, a part of the force recently garrisoning Cornwall—a portion of the 25th Regt, under Col. Fane, and the Argenteuil Rangers under Lieut.-Col. the Hon. J. J. C. Abbott. The 25th men, Montrealers know. The Argenteuil Rangers—the Gentiles (corruption of Ar-genteuil) as they are called by their fellow soldiers of the line. They are a splendid body of men, fine, strapping, yeomanry—lacking something of the nattiness of dress, and precision of drill, of their companions in arms; but seeming in every way, fit for hard fighting when called upon. Some of them were strapping fellows from 6 to 6½ feet high.

“Altogether, the two corps filled eighteen cars, which were drawn by two or three engines. Regulars and Volunteers vied with each other in alacrity to reach the front, and eagerness to meet the robbers. This campaigning, however, falls with great severity on those farmers from Argenteuil—many of them having left without having put in all their crops, and fearing now lest they may reach home too late to put them in, so as to secure a good crop this season. The barracks at St. Johns were full of troops—the Artillery under Col. Pipon, the provisional battalion of Montreal Volunteers under Capt. Bond, detachments of the R. C. Rifles, and other corps under Lieut.-Col. Hibbert, and the Chasseurs under Lieut.-Col. Coursol being all here, and a part of the troops already under canvass. The 25th and Rangers were compelled therefore to encamp upon ground somewhat damp after the heavy recent rains, and their officers could procure no straw for them at the late hour of their arrival. They had, however, a very fine night, and did not suffer such discomforts as some of the Volunteers on the[128] Huntingdon frontier in the midst of rain, &c. I found our Montreal boys indignant that they had not had a chance at the front.”

To follow the operations on the Missisquoi frontier and elsewhere in Lower Canada would lead to a narrative for which the present sheets cannot be prolonged.

The Fenians who had invaded and posted themselves on Pigeon Hill were driven out of the land; but many who were on the border ready to come in stayed their advance in obedience to the injunctions of U. S. General Meade acting on the proclamation of the President of the United States.

The Villages of Freligsburg, parish of St. Armand East, and of Pigeon Hill, St. Armand West, District of Bedford, Canada East, were the centre of invasion by the force under Spears, the days of occupation being the 7th, 8th and 9th of June. A return of the damage done by plunderers was made to the Provincial Government, with the report of Joshua Chamberlin, Esq., Commissioner. These copious documents were not printed though laid before the legislature. I have, however, to-day, Sept. 10, received a written copy of them, but not in time to be used in this Upper Canada section of the Narrative. For these I return thanks to the officers of Government who sent them. The claimants for compensation were in number 102. Each gave a detailed statement of losses. The total amount claimed being $18,232.80. Allowed $15,463.83.

It is noticeable that damage to bureaus, and safes, and to axes broken in breaking safes, are items of account. Also, in Freligsburg very considerable quantities of high wines, old rye, and other liquors are named. The losses on the Fort Erie frontier were about $6,000.

As this page closes rumors of another invasion, more secretly planned, and on a wider scale than that of June, and the military preparations to meet it occupy the minds of the people of Canada. Some public personages who assume to be leaders of opinion, and who, whether with good intention or evil design, resisted for several years a full organization of a defensive Militia, are, in this supreme crisis, engaged in reviling public men who happen to be in possession of power, and who have practically evinced the capacities of statesmen. Though the men in power may have made political mistakes, and I think the conservative section of them did grievously err in not conciliating the American national mind in the years of civil war (see chapter eight), it is now the duty of all good citizens to be of courage, of one mind, loyal to the ruling authorities.

The “Whistler at the Plough.”


Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within the text and consultation of external sources.

Some hyphens in words have been silently removed, some added, when a predominant preference was found in the original book.

Except for those changes noted below, all misspellings in the text, and inconsistent or archaic usage, have been retained.

Pg iii: ‘M’Pherson’s celebrated’ replaced by ‘Macpherson’s celebrated’.
Pg vi: ‘conduct and and’ replaced by ‘conduct and’.
Pg vii: ‘City elergymen’ replaced by ‘City clergymen’.
Pg vii: ‘was in preperation’ replaced by ‘was in preparation’.
Pg viii: ‘on incontestible grounds’ replaced by ‘on incontestable grounds’.
Pg viii: ‘inadequecy of’ replaced by ‘inadequacy of’.
Pg 12: ‘States of Tennesee’ replaced by ‘States of Tennessee’.
Pg 19: ‘also were parolled’ replaced by ‘also were paroled’.
Pg 22: ‘any magesterial’ replaced by ‘any magisterial’.
Pg 23: ‘which, occuring’ replaced by ‘which, occurring’.
Pg 25: ‘too welll to’ replaced by ‘too well to’.
Pg 30: ‘with eathers’ replaced by ‘with feathers’.
Pg 34: ‘an il-favored face’ replaced by ‘an ill-favored face’.
Pg 39: ‘Phenecia’ replaced by ‘Phoenecia’ (three times).
Pg 39: ‘indeed grievious’ replaced by ‘indeed grievous’.
Pg 39: ‘secresy and hope’ replaced by ‘secrecy and hope’.
Pg 40: ‘with thousands af’ replaced by ‘with thousands of’.
Pg 41: ‘inland front Niagara’ replaced by ‘inland from Niagara’.
Pg 41: ‘to possesss the’ replaced by ‘to possess the’.
Pg 42: ‘noon. Cincinnatti’ replaced by ‘noon. Cincinnati’.
Pg 43: ‘a Home Gnard’ replaced by ‘a Home Guard’.
Pg 46: ‘indispensible to’ replaced by ‘indispensable to’.
Pg 46: ‘to prove disultory’ replaced by ‘to prove desultory’.
Pg 49: ‘Rule Brittania’ replaced by ‘Rule Britannia’.
Pg 55: ‘perrenial vigour’ replaced by ‘perennial vigour’.
Pg 57: ‘or leviathens of’ replaced by ‘or leviathans of’.
Pg 57: ‘are harrassed by’ replaced by ‘are harassed by’.
Pg 58: ‘forshadow as far’ replaced by ‘foreshadow as far’.
Pg 58: ‘indispensible in’ replaced by ‘indispensable in’.
Pg 58: ‘battle of Manasses’ replaced by ‘battle of Manassas’.
Pg 61: ‘the noblest efiorts’ replaced by ‘the noblest efforts’.
Pg 63: ‘in consquence of’ replaced by ‘in consequence of’.
Pg 63: ‘platform accomodation’ replaced by ‘platform accommodation’.
Pg 64: ‘Lient.-Col, Booker’ replaced by ‘Lieut.-Col. Booker’.
Pg 65: ‘platform accomodation’ replaced by ‘platform accommodation’.
Pg 65: ‘Lient. Colonels’ replaced by ‘Lieut.-Colonels’.
Pg 67: ‘billetted the men’ replaced by ‘billeted the men’.
Pg 73: ‘The superintendant of’ replaced by ‘The superintendent of’.
Pg 74: ‘and the occurrances’ replaced by ‘and the occurrences’.
Pg 74: ‘they all night in’ replaced by ‘they were all night in’.
Pg 74: ‘At p. p. 52, 53’ replaced by ‘At pp. 52, 53’.
Pg 76: ‘York vilages’ replaced by ‘York villages’.
Pg 77: ‘bteakfast that he’ replaced by ‘breakfast that he’.
Pg 78: ‘in eommand of’ replaced by ‘in command of’.
Pg 79: ‘repeated vollies of’ replaced by ‘repeated volleys of’.
Pg 79: ‘gaiety of of remark’ replaced by ‘gaiety of remark’.
Pg 83: ‘a statemant made’ replaced by ‘a statement made’.
Pg 84: ‘their casualities’ replaced by ‘their casualties’.
Pg 86: ‘fighting postion’ replaced by ‘fighting position’.
Pg 88: ‘disultory portions’ replaced by ‘desultory portions’.
Pg 88: ‘few casualities’ replaced by ‘few casualities’.
Pg 94: ‘a brigade. * * During’ replaced by ‘a brigade.... During’.
Pg 96: ‘over the railngs’ replaced by ‘over the railings’.
Pg 96: ‘half columm’ replaced by ‘half column’.
Pg 103: ‘Did you abserve’ replaced by ‘Did you observe’.
Pg 104: ‘Capt. Jckson’ replaced by ‘Capt. Jackson’.
Pg 106: ‘tactics of disultory’ replaced by ‘tactics of desultory’.
Pg 106: ‘they were informnd’ replaced by ‘they were informed’.
Pg 114: ‘four scholarshps’ replaced by ‘four scholarships’.
Pg 118: ‘of the malitia’ replaced by ‘of the militia’.
Pg 121: ‘disultory campaign’ replaced by ‘desultory campaign’.
Pg 121: ‘as a Brit-sh’ replaced by ‘as a British’.
Pg 123: ‘Beamsville und’ replaced by ‘Beamsville and’.
Pg 124: ‘Col. M’Givern’ replaced by ‘Col. McGiverin’ (twice).
Pg 127: ‘the Artilery under’ replaced by ‘the Artillery under’.
Pg 128: ‘It is noticable’ replaced by ‘It is noticeable’.