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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 Philipsburg.

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 Havelock.

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 of 1,940.

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 follows:

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


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