Confederation’s Armed Defenders Recalled : Third Part
Carleton Place Canadian, 28 April, 1966
By Howard M. Brown
Defence routine at Brockville was reported “From the Frontier” on June 13, 1866 by Captain Poole:
“We parade three times a day, at six o’clock in the morning, at ten and four. The men are drilled from one to two hours each time. Guard is mounted at 11 o’clock, and in addition to the regular sentries the town is patrolled during the night. One party goes east, the other west of the guard room, which is the new market building near the Wilson House. There is also a gun boat which cruises up and down the river, so that you see the Fenians can hardly take us unawares.
The men are all cheerful and contented. As there are only six companies in town they are pretty well accommodated, in fact much better than their brethren in arms at Prescott, some of whom are quartered in an old brewery with one blanket apiece to sleep on. Though many have left home at great personal loss they all seem willing to remain away so long as it may be necessary for the defence of their country.
I imagine the Fenian bubble is about burst, but it will of course be necessary to keep a considerable force on active service for some time, for should our volunteers be sent home the Fenians might annoy us by making raids for the mere sake of plunder, especially since the United States government is giving them every encouragement, though pretending to frown upon the movement.”
The homecoming of the Carleton Place and Almonte troops, at the start of what proved to be a four year suspension of American Fenian border activity, was recorded a week later:
“The Fenians, warned by their defeat at Fort Erie and the chase of the Royal Guides at Pigeon Hill in Missiquoi County, have quieted down and apparently given up the idea of taking Canada at present. The Canadian Government, having a due regard to economy and considering the immediate danger past, have ordered home a portion of the Volunteer force who have been on duty on the frontier for the past fortnight.
On Saturday evening last, Lieut. Colonel Crawford, who was in command of the force stationed at Brockville, received an order to relieve from further service the Almonte and Carleton Place companies which formed a portion of the Battalion under his command. Arrangements were made with the B. & O. R.R. to have a special train in readiness on Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock to convey them to their homes. The Battalion mustered in the Court House Square and, having wheeled into line, formed fours and marched to the station.
The Almonte and Carleton Place men having got on board, the train moved off amid the cheers of the Brockville and Perth companies which were drawn up in line on the platform. The run was made to Carleton Place in a little over two hours, and in a few minutes the brave fellows were surrounded by their friends. It is a matter of congratulation that they were not required to place themselves in immediate danger, as also that they did not require the services of the young ladies who kindly volunteered to do service if necessary.
In the meantime it will be a question for our authorities to decide what they shall do with their Fenian prisoners. A more criminal raid was never heard of in the history of modern nations, and the idea of asserting Irish independence by a murderous onslaught on the residents of a remote British province is absurd. Let us however exhibit moderation in the punishment we shall award to our captives.”
Another four years of danger lay ahead. The second overt challenge came when forces under the Fenian Brotherhood president and military firebrand, John O”Neill, rallied again in 1870 by grace of insufficient United States government restraint, to attack the new Dominion of Canada, and Canadian militia units were placed on duty at points of possible invasion on our Quebec and Ontario international borders.