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FENIAN AND OTHER RAIDS   233

of the neutrality laws; and a number of British and American war-vessels lay off the mouth of the St. Croix river. When the Fenian ship reached Eastport she was promptly seized by the United States authorities, and the disgusted Fenians abandoned their projected raid.

Meanwhile large numbers of men, with arms and am-munition, had been quietly assembled at various points along the northern boundary of the United States, from St. Albans in the east to Detroit in the west. General Sweeny himself made his headquarters at Ogdensburg. By the end of May all preparations had been completed for the invasion. Yet, although the situation was much more serious than on the New Brunswick frontier, neither the Canadian nor American authorities had made any effective preparations to prevent the raid.

Early on the morning of June 1st, the Fenians crossed the Niagara river and landed about a mile below the village of Fort Erie. Their forces consisted of about 1,500 men, mostly veterans of the Civil War, under General John O'Neil. No Canadian troops were anywhere within reach of Fort Erie, and the village was occupied without opposition. O'Neil, after cutting the telegraph wires and tearing up part of the railway track, marched his men down to Frenchman's Creek, and intrenched. Mounted scouts distributed copies of a characteristically bombastic proclamation among the Niagara farmers. Large reinforcements had been expected from Buffalo, but these did not turn up, and O'Neil, learning that Canadian troops were marching against him, decided to move forward and attack them. Early on the morning of June 2nd, he halted his men on Limestone Ridge, near Ridgeway, in a position peculiarly favourable for defence, and here awaited the Canadians.

A few hours before the Fenians actually landed on Canadian soil, the Headquarters Staff at Ottawa telegraphed orders again calling out the militia. The men responded with, if possible, even more enthusiasm than on the previous occasion, and within twenty-four hours


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