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Another Call to Arms
Another Call to Arms--Fenians Again Threaten an
Invasion--Gallant Response by the Canadian Volunteers.
Early in the month of April the Government was
apprised by its secret service agents that Fenian trouble was again
brewing on the frontier, and from details of the plot given, the
Vermont border was specially designated as the quarter from which an
invasion was extremely probable. Prompt measures were at once taken
by Sir George E. Cartier, the Minister of Militia and Defence, to
prepare for such an emergency, and complete arrangements were made
to guard our entire frontier whenever necessary.
Notwithstanding their great secrecy, and the surreptitious methods
the Fenians employed to smuggle their arms, ammunition and war
supplies to the border during the winter months, the Government was
kept fully informed of every movement by reliable officials, who had
special means of getting inside information.
As matters became more threatening, and acting on additional
information received, the Government considered it advisable to call
out a force of 5,000 men for active service on the frontier of the
Province of Quebec, the whole to be under the chief command of the
Lieutenant-General commanding Her Majesty's regular troops in
Canada, with Col. W. Osborne Smith, D.A.G. of Military District, No.
5, in command of the troops operating on the south-eastern frontier.
On April 11th the call to arms was made, and the different
battalions and companies responded with their usual promptitude and
alacrity, so that within 48 hours all were assembled at their posts
on the frontier to which they had been assigned, ready for action.
The Cookshire Troop of Cavalry, under command of Lieut. Taylor, was
stationed at Frelighsburg, with pickets at Pigeon Hill and Abbott's
Corners. The 52nd Battalion, under command of Lieut.-Col. P. Miller,
was posted at Frelighsburg, with detachments stationed as pickets at
Mansonville, Abercorn and Cook's Corners.
The 60th Battalion, under Lieut.-Col. B. Chamberlin, had its
headquarters at Pigeon Hill, with detachments at St. Armand and
On the Huntingdon frontier the troops were posted as follows:
At Huntingdon--No. 1 Troop, Montreal Cavalry, in command of Capt.
Muir, with videttes at Franklin and Hemmingford; the 50th Battalion,
commanded by Lieut.-Col. McEachren; and the 51st Battalion, under
command of Lieut.-Col. Rogers, with detachments at Franklin and
At Beauharnois--The Beauharnois Battalion, under Lieut.-Col. Rodin,
with a detachment at Valleyfield, guarded the canals.
While the above forces thoroughly covered the exposed points on the
frontier, the following troops were held in reserve at Montreal,
ready to go at a moment's notice to any point where their services
might be urgently required: Montreal Garrison Artillery, two
companies of Engineers, 1st Battalion (Prince of Wales Rifles). 3rd
Battalion (Victoria Rifles), 5th Battalion (Royal Light Infantry).
6th Battalion (Hochelaga Light Infantry), First Provisional
Battalion, Second Provisional Battalion, 65th Battalion (Mount Royal
Rifles), 4th Battalion (Chasseurs Canadiens)--a total of all ranks
At Quebec a force of 1,617 officers and men of the Sixth Military
District were concentrated, ready for duty anywhere.
On the 12th of April a further call was made for troops to guard the
St. Clair River frontier, in Western Ontario, which was completed as
At Sarnia--The London Field Battery, with two field guns (manned and
horsed by 35 gunners and drivers), and two companies of the 7th
Battalion of London, under command of Lieut.-Col. Shanly.
At Windsor--The Windsor and Leamington Companies of Infantry (each
55 strong), with Major Walker, of the 7th Battalion, in command.
In addition to the above troops, companies of the Grand Trunk
Railway Brigade were judiciously posted at certain vulnerable points
along the line of that railway by its commander. Lieut.-Col. C. J.
Brydges, so that in all a force of fully 6,000 men were stationed on
duty where required within a very short period.
These troops remained on active service until the 21st of April,
when it was considered advisable to release all from duty with the
exception of the 50th, 51st, 52nd, 60th and Beanharnois Battalions,
and the two troops of cavalry originally placed on the south-eastern
frontier, who remained on duty until the 29th of April, when they
were also withdrawn. The Government was confident of the fact that
the services of the volunteers would be cheerfully and promptly
given whenever they would again be called upon, and in relieving
them from duty, thanked them warmly for their service, and reminded
them that it might be necessary to rally again to the colors almost
any day, and to be ready to respond to the call.
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Troublous Times in Canada, A History of the Fenian Raids of 1866 and 1870
Fenian Raids of 1866 - 1870