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The Canadian Volunteers Receive the Thanks of the Government

The Canadian Volunteers Released from Duty at the Front and Returned to Their Homes--They Earned the Gratitude of Their Country and Received it.


After about three weeks of active service, the Canadian volunteers who were on duty at the front were relieved and sent home. Although matters were still in an unsettled state among the Fenians in the United States, and threats were constantly being made of more trouble, yet the occasion was not considered of sufficient serious importance to require the services of the force posted on the frontier for a longer period. The Government was well aware that when occasion demanded the same troops would again take up arms as promptly and cheerfully as on previous occasions, and relied on their patriotic service being immediately available whenever required. In relieving the troops from further duty, the Commander-in-Chief promulgated the following order:--


Ottawa, June 23rd, 1866.

In relieving the volunteers, for the present, from active duty, the Commander-in-Chief desires to make known to the officers and non-commissioned officers and men of the force, the pride and satisfaction with which he has witnessed the patriotism and energy displayed by them in their instantaneous response to the call to arms. The Commander-in-Chief wishes to express his admiration of the promptitude with which, on the only occasion when an opportunity was afforded them of meeting the enemy, the volunteers went under fire, and his deep sympathy with the friends and relations of those who there met a soldier's death. The discipline and good conduct of the force while on service has secured the approbation of their military commanders, and has been most favorably reported on to the Commander-in-Chief. The Commander-in-Chief wishes to impress on the minds of the volunteers that, though the late attack on the Province has proved a failure, the organization by means of which it was attempted still exists, and that its leaders do not hesitate to declare publicly that they meditate a renewal of the invasion. Under these circumstances, the Commander-in-Chief trusts that the volunteer force generally will continue at all convenient times to perfect themselves in drill and discipline, so that they may be able successfully to repel any future aggression that may be attempted.

Major-General Napier's Order.

Major-Gen. Napier, who commanded the troops in Canada West, returned thanks, in appreciation of their services, by issuing the following:--


Brigade Office, Toronto, June 18th, 1866.

Major-General Napier, C.B., Commanding the First Military District, Canada West, cannot allow the volunteers under his command to return home without tendering them his best thanks for the patriotic way they responded to the Governor-General's call for further services, as well as for their general good conduct whilst in the field. Although only a few were fortunate enough to be engaged with the enemy, the whole force were equally ready and anxious to meet him. The Major-General feels sure that should their services be again required, they will show the same fine spirit, and turn out to a man in the defence of their country. The Major-General, in bidding them farewell for the present, trusts that they will keep up their present efficient state, which can only be done by constantly attending to their drill whenever they have an opportunity of doing so.

          By order.
          (Signed) H. Nangle.
          Captain and Brigade Major.

Major-General Lindsay's Order.

Major-Gen. Lindsay also commended the volunteers for their prompt response to the call of duty, and their valued and faithful service in the field, in the language contained in the following order:--


Brigade Office, Montreal. 23rd June. 1866. District Order.

The emergency which has caused the Volunteer Militia Force of Canada to spring to arms, having passed by, the Major-General commanding the District acknowledges the important services they have rendered.

The patriotic spirit, exhibited both by employers and the employed, placed at the service of the Crown, in a few hours, a force of upwards of 22,000 men in the two Canadas, which, if the occasion had been of more serious character, could have been augmented to such numbers as the Government might have required.

The various corps sent out to the front have shown a zeal and aptitude in the performance of their duties as soldiers, which is calculated to inspire the greatest confidence; while some of the battalions have had severe and difficult marches to perform, all have undergone considerable hardships in most unfavourable weather.

While the good faith and firmness of the General Commanding the U.S. troops on the frontier had the effect of preventing larger assemblies of armed men, and while in the end the long-threatened attempt at invasion proved a miserable failure, the Major-General feels confident that the volunteer force have only one regret, that they have not had the opportunity of driving from the soil of Canada those misguided men, who, under the flimsy veil of so-called patriotic feeling, would have carried war into a country with which they have no pretence of quarrel.

The Major-General feels convinced that, shoulder to shoulder with the regular troops of Her Majesty, the volunteer militia force of this Province would, if they had been brought in contact with an enemy, have proved themselves worthy of the approbation of their fellow-countrymen, and that they would, as their predecessors had done in times long past, have successfully defended their country, and kept it against all aggressors.

While anxious for peace, Canada is showing herself prepared for war; and the Major-General is gratified in bearing his testimony to the noble and independent spirit, which proves that Canada has reason to be proud of her citizen soldiers.

          By order,
          H. C. HEALEY,
          Major of Brigade.

Special Thanks to the Queen's Own.

The splendid services of the Queen's Own Rifles in the campaign were officially recognized by the General Commanding in the promulgation of the following order:--


Assist. Adj.-.General's Office, Toronto, June 8, 1860.

Sir,--I am directed by Major-General Napier, C.B., commanding 1st Military Division, C.W., to acknowledge the receipt of a copy of your despatch dated Stratford. June 6th, 1866, addressed to Lieut.-Col. Lowry, 47th Regiment, detailing the operations of the Volunteer force on the morning of the 2nd, in which the Queen's Own were engaged with the enemy.

It is now my gratifying duty to convey to you not only the approbation but the very great pleasure the Major-General experienced in hearing from you of the good conduct of the officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the regiment under your command on that occasion.

That they fully confirmed and justified the good opinion that the Major-General always entertained of them, by their conduct in meeting for the first time the enemies of their Queen and country.

The Major-General feels quite sure that the regiment will always cherish and sustain the character now so nobly won by the Queen's Own.

I have also to express to you, by the Major-General's desire, his entire approbation of the very able and gallant manner in which you commanded the Queen's Own under very trying circumstances, and it will give him much pleasure in bringing before His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief, the gallant service rendered by the Queen's Own on the occasion, which you will be good enough to convey to the officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the regiment under your command.

          I have the honor to be, Sir,
          Your most obedient servant,
          W. S. DURIE,
          Lieut.-Col., A.A.G.M.
          Major Charles T. Gilmor. Queen's Own Rifles.

Canadian Patriotism.

Lord Monck's communication to the Imperial Secretary of State may also be quoted as showing his views concerning the patriotic conduct of Canadians who were at the time residing in the United States:--


Ottawa, June 14, 1866.

Sir,--I have had the satisfaction in other communications to report to you the excellent spirit evinced by the resident population of Canada in connection with the late Fenian attack on the Province. There has been in addition an exhibition of patriotism and devotion on the part of Canadians who happened to be domiciled at the time of the disturbance outside of the Province, which deserves, I think, special mention and praise. Immediately after the news of the inroad on the Province reached Chicago, sixty young Canadians who were resident there engaged in various employments gave up their situations and repaired by railroad to Canada to give their aid in defending the land of their birth. These young men have been formed into a Volunteer Company and are now doing duty at Toronto.

I had also a communication from Her Majesty's Consul at New York to the effect that a large number of Canadians, resident there, were prepared to abandon their occupations and come to assist in the repulse of the invaders of Canada if I considered their services necessary. I informed Mr. Archibald by telegraph that I did not require their aid, but begged him to express to them my gratitude for the exhibition of their loyalty. Such conduct speaks for itself, and I would not weaken the effect of the bare relation of the facts by any attempts at eulogy on my part.

          I have, etc.
          (Signed) Monck.
          The Right Hon. Edward Cardwell, Secretary of State.

From the Imperial Government.

The following General Order, contained in a letter communicated through the regular official channel to His Excellency the Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief (Right Hon. Viscount Monck), was duly promulgated through the Department of Militia of Canada:--


Horse Guards, July 21st, 1866.

The Under-Secretary of State for War:--

Sir,--With reference to the several reports which have been received from the General Officer Commanding in Canada relative to the Fenian movement in that Province, and to the measures taken by the colonists for repelling any Fenian attack, I am directed by the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief to request that you will acquaint the Secretary of State for War that His Royal Highness, having observed the alacrity, loyalty and zeal shown by the volunteers and militia forces of Canada in having come forward for the defence of the colony on the late trying occasion, in support of the troops, is very desirous of expressing to the force his full appreciation of their gallant and energetic behavior, and the very great gratification and satisfaction he has thereby experienced. And His Royal Highness trusts, therefore, that Lieut.-General Peel will see no objection to the necessary communication being made by him to the Colonial Office, with the view to His Royal Highness' sentiments, as above expressed, being made known through the proper channel to the volunteers and militia of Canada, lately employed against the Fenians.

          I am, etc.,
          W. F. Foster.

Lord Monck's Acknowledgment of American Intervention.

In acknowledgment of the service rendered by the United States Government in checking the invasion, Lord Monck, the Governor-General of Canada, sent the following despatch to Sir Frederick Bruce, the British Minister at Washington, for presentation to Secretary of State Seward:--


Ottawa, June 11th, 1866.

Sir,--I have learned from the public press the terms of the Proclamation which the President of the United States of America has promulgated against the hostile designs of the Fenians on the Province, the Government of which I have the honor to administer. I have also, by the same means, been made acquainted with the orders issued by the Attorney-General of the United States and other officers of the Administration of that country for the apprehension of the persons of Fenian conspirators and the stoppage and seizure of arms and other supplies intended to be used by them against Canada. As these proceedings of the Government of the United States have materially tended to defeat the hostile purposes of the Fenians against this Province, I shall feel much obliged if you will convey to the Secretary of State for the United States my acknowledgments of the course which has been adopted by that Government in reference to this matter.

          I have, etc...
          (Signed) Monck.

Lord Monck's Report to the Imperial Government.

In presenting his report to the Right Hon. E. Cardwell, Secretary of State of the British Government, Lord Monck sent the following despatch, which was accompanied by the reports of the Lieutenant-General and other officers who were in command of troops during the campaign:--


Ottawa. June 14th, 1866.

Sir,--I have the honor to transmit for your information, the reports to the Lieutenant-General commanding Her Majesty's forces of the several officers, relating to the proceedings connected with the late Fenian invasion at Fort Erie, Canada West. I think these documents substantially corroborate the account which I gave you from telegraphic and other information in my despatches of the 1st, 4th and 8th instant.

From all the information I have received, I am now satisfied that a very large and comprehensive plan of attack had been arranged by the party which is popularly known as the Sweeny-Roberts section of the Fenian Brotherhood.

The plan of invasion, in addition to the attempt on the Niagara frontier--the only one which actually occurred--appears to have embraced attacks on the line of the Richelieu and Lake Champlain, and also on the frontier in the neighborhood of Prescott and Cornwall, where I have reason to think the principal demonstration was intended.

For the latter object, large bodies of men, sent by railroad from almost all parts of the United States, were assembled at a place called Malone, in the State of New York, and at Potsdam, also in the State of New York, and with a view to the former, St. Albans and its neighborhood in the State of Vermont was selected as the place of assemblage.

Large supplies of arms, accoutrements and ammunition were also attempted to be forwarded by railroad to these points, but owing to the active intervention of the authorities of the United States--as soon as it became apparent that a breach of international law had been committed by these persons--a very large portion of these supplies never reached their destination.

It is not easy to arrive at a trustworthy estimate of the number of men who actually arrived at their different points of rendezvous. It has been reported at times that there were at Potsdam, Malone, and the intervening country, as many as ten thousand men, and similar rumors have been from time to time circulated of the force at St. Albans and its neighborhood. From the best opinion I can form, however, I shall be inclined to think that the number of Fenians in the vicinity of St. Albans never exceeded two thousand men, and that three thousand would be a fair allowance for those assembled at Potsdam, Malone, and the surrounding counties. The men have been represented to me as having, many of them, served in the late Civil War in the United States--to have had a considerable amount of small arms of a good and efficient description. I have not heard of their possessing any artillery, and I am informed that they were deficient in the supplies of ammunition and totally destitute of all the other equipments of an organized force. They appear to have relied very much on assistance from the inhabitants of the Province, as the force which invaded Fort Erie brought with them--as I am told--a large quantity of spare arms to put in the hands of their sympathizers whom they expected to join them. I have in my former despatches noticed the measures which were adopted by the Provincial Government in order to place at the disposal of the Lieutenant-General commanding Her Majesty's forces, the Provincial resources available for defence, both by land and water. The reports of the officers of the army and volunteers, which I transmit, will acquaint you with the manner in which these means were used by the officers in command. I am happy to be able to bear my tribute to the energy and good faith exhibited by the American Government and its officials in checking all infractions of international obligations on the part of any portion of its citizens from the moment that it became evident that an invasion of the Province by the Fenians had actually taken place. The determination of the Government of the United States to stop the transportation of men and supplies to the places of assembly, rendered even the temporary success on the part of the Fenians impossible; while the large forces which the Lieutenant-General commanding was able to concentrate at each of the points threatened, had the effect of deterring from an attack the portion of the conspirators who had already arrived at their places of rendezvous. No invasion in force occurred except at Fort Erie. A slight incursion took place at a place called St. Armand, about thirteen miles from St. John's, on the borders of the County of Missisquoi, which ended in the capture of about sixteen prisoners, without any loss on our side.

The latest accounts I have received announced that the men who had congregated at the different points of assembly were being transmitted to their homes at the expense of the Government of the United States, most of the leaders having been arrested and held to bail to answer for their conduct.

Although I deplore the loss which the Volunteer Force suffered when engaged on the 2nd of June at Lime Ridge, amounting to six killed and thirty-one wounded. I think it is a matter for congratulation that a movement which might have been so formidable has collapsed with so small an amount of loss, either of life or property. I think it is also a source of satisfaction that such strong proofs have been afforded of the spirit which animates the Canadian people, of their loyalty to the throne, of their appreciation of the free institutions under which they live, and of their readiness at all times to prove their sense of the value of these institutions by incurring expense and personal risk in the defence of them. The period of the year at which the people have been called on to make these sacrifices of timely serving in the volunteer ranks has been the most inconvenient that could have been selected, yet I have never heard a murmur from any quarter at the necessity of suspending industrial occupation involving the risk of a whole year's production, while I have received information of a good deal of discontent on the part of those who were anxious to give their services, but whose presence in the ranks was not considered necessary.

I have to express my very high sense of the services performed by Lieutenant-General Sir J. Michel and the officers under his command in the able disposition of troops, both regulars and volunteers. The officers of the Royal Navy stationed at Quebec and Montreal deserve the highest credit for the rapidity with which they extemporized gunboats for the defence of the St. Lawrence and the Lakes. I have already spoken of the admirable spirit displayed by the Volunteer Force, both officers and men. I have every reason to believe that their conduct as regards discipline and order has entitled them to as much commendation as does their spirit of patriotism and self-reliance.

I desire particularly to bring before your notice the ability and energy exhibited by Colonel Macdougall, A.G.M., with a view to having his services specially mentioned to His Royal Highness, the Commander-in-Chief. This officer has not yet been one year in Canada, yet so admirable is the system of organization which he has established that he is able within a few hours to assemble on any given point over a line of more than 1,000 miles, masses of volunteers who at the time the order was given were scattered over the country pursuing their ordinary avocations. While I attribute full credit to the excellent spirit of the people for its share in this effect, I think the administrative ability which has given practical operation to this good feeling of the population ought to have its meed of praise and in the interests of the public service on some possible future emergency ought not to be left without official record.

There are prisoners in our hands to the number of about one hundred and fifty. (I have not yet received official returns of them), whose trial will be proceeded with at an early day.

I confidently expect within a few days to be able to dismiss to their homes the great majority of the Volunteers, and my firm conviction is, that this disturbance will produce beneficial effects by discrediting Fenian enterprises, exhibiting the futility of any attempt at invasion of the Province, and showing the absence of all disaffection amongst any portion of the people of Canada.

          I have, etc.,
          (Signed) Monck.
          The Right Honorable E. Cardwell.

Welland County Honors the Brave.

The services of the officers and men of the Welland Canal Field Battery and the Dunnville Naval Brigade--for their gallantry in the fight at Fort Erie--were recognized by the Municipal Council of the County of Welland by the public presentation to each of them of a handsome silver medal, commemorative of the occasion. In addition, Capt. King and Capt. McCallum were each presented with handsome swords of honor by the County Council, as special marks of appreciation of their bravery by the people of the county. To each of the wounded a grant of 100 acres of the lands owned by the county in the Cranberry Marsh was given. In addition to the above honors the Corporation of the Village of Fort Erie presented Capt. King with a valuable sword as a testimonial of their recognition of his services at that place on the 2nd of June.


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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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