Previous Index Next

 

FENIAN AND OTHER RAIDS   241

breach of neutrality. They were between the devil and the deep sea, and could do absolutely nothing. General Meade ordered the seizure of all arms and ammunition intended for use by the Fenians, and sternly warned them that he would enforce the law at all hazards. Within a few days General Sweeny and several other leaders were arrested; and, finally, Colonel Roberts, President of the Irish Republic, had to submit to the indignity of imprisonment in a common jail. Nothing remained for the Irish Republican Army but to disband and postpone to another day the capture of Canada.

In relieving the militia from active service the Commander-in-Chief warned them that they should lose no opportunity of perfecting themselves in drill and discipline, and should hold themselves in readiness for another call to arms at any time, as the Fenians had made no secret of their determination to renew the attempt to invade Canada at the first possible opportunity. This opportunity did not come, or at any rate was not used, until the spring of 1870. General O'Neil, who had led the invading army at Ridgeway, was now President of the Fenian Brotherhood, and, for reasons best known to himself, decided that the time was ripe for another attempt to drive the hated English out of Canada. Warned by the experience gained at such cost in 1866, the Fenians exercised the utmost caution in transporting munitions to the frontier and storing them where they would be safe from the prying eyes of the United States officials. They actually succeeded in secreting at various places from Ogdensburg to St. Albans, 15,000 stand of arms and 3,000,000 rounds of ammunition.

At this time the militia of Canada were in better shape to meet a Fenian invasion than they had been in 1866. During the intervening years the military spirit of the country had been kept alive by recurring threats of impending raids. Confederation, too, by consolidating the scattered provinces of British North America had given the Canadian people a sense of growing power and at the


Previous Index Next