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236   MILITARY HISTORY OF CANADA

Booker reached Ridgeway about 7 a.m., and lost no time in getting his force in motion. He now learned for the first time that the Fenians, whom he had supposed to be at Frenchman's Creek, held a strong position immediately in front of him. Between two and three miles out the Ridge Road the advance guard, No. 5 Company of the Queen's Own Rifles, came under the enemy's fire. Supported by other companies of the Queen's Own they advanced in skirmishing order, gallantly returning the fire of the Fenian sharp-shooters, and forcing them back to their main position. The 13th and York Rifles were now brought up to the firing line to relieve the Queen's Own, who were running out of ammunition. The movement was executed with such steadiness and determination that the Fenians became panicky and were about to abandon their position, as O'Neil afterwards admitted, when one of those trivial incidents occurred that so often turn the tide of battle. Two or three Fenian horsemen were seen coming around the edge of a small wood. A cry of "Cavalry" came back from the front, and Colonel Booker hastily gave the order! "Prepare for Cavalry!" The Queen's Own promptly formed square on the road, and became exposed to a deadly fire from the enemy. Booker immediately discovering his error, ordered the battalion to "Reform Column," and fall back, as they were too close to the skirmish line. The bugles sounded the "Retire." The 13th, thinking a general retreat had been ordered, fell back hurriedly, and in a moment the whole line had broken into a panic. O'Neil, grasping the situation, ordered his men to advance. The Fenians poured volley after volley into the disorganized militia, and drove them down the road to Ridgeway. Having thus snatched victory out of defeat, O'Neil did not at-tempt to press his advantage. He dared not risk a battle with Peacocke with the men he had, and turned back to Fort Erie, hoping to find there reinforcements from Buffalo. Booker got his force together at Ridgeway Station, and retreated to Port Colborne. He had had


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