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FENIAN AND OTHER RAIDS   235

Both at Chippawa and Port Colborne they had to depend on the townsfolk for food, or go hungry.

At Chippawa Colonel Peacocke learned that the Fenians were still at Frenchman's Creek, and immediately saw the opportunity of joining his forces with those of Lieut.-Col. Booker and making a combined attack on O'Neil's position. He sent Captain C. S. Akers, R.E., to Port Colborne with orders to Booker to meet him with his command at the village of Stevensville. Booker was to leave Port Colborne at 5 a.m. on the 2nd, proceed by rail to Ridgeway, and march from there to Stevensville. Peacocke proposed to leave Chippawa at 6 a.m., and expected to join Booker at Stevensville at about 10 a.m.

Peacocke's plan of campaign was admirable if the premises on which it was based had remained constant. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, the enemy did not play according to rule. Instead of remaining at French-man's Creek, O'Neil had marched out toward Ridgeway. He had got wind of the proposed concentration against him, and, like the experienced soldier that he was, decided to force the issue with one of the opposing bodies before the junction could be effected. Even then, if Peacocke had reached Stevensville at the hour planned, and got into touch with Booker, O'Neil would have been caught between two fires, and could hardly have escaped utter defeat. As it was, Peacocke was two hours late in leaving Chippawa, took the wrong road to Stevensville, and, by the time he got word from Booker, the latter had met O'Neil and suffered a disastrous defeat. Both Canadian commanders were handicapped by the lack of cavalry. Had they been sent out with an effective force of mounted men they could have kept in touch with each other and with the enemy. It is true the Headquarters Staff, apparently as an afterthought, sent Major Denison, with the Governor-General's Body Guard, on the morning of the 2nd, to join Peacocke's column, but it was then too late to avoid disaster at Ridgeway.


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