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312   HISTORY OF CANADA.

led to the disbanding of her huge armies, and pally rough characters were thus thrown upon society. Amongst them were many members of the Fenian Brotherhood, an association which owed its existence to the Irish troubles in 1848, and which from time to time had made threats of taking Canada. Not much attention was now paid to their movements, until in the spring of 1866 they began to congregate at various places on the frontier, and it was given out with considerable flourish of trumpets that on St. Patrick's day (March 17th) a grand invasion would take place. That day, however, passed quietly by. In April an attack was threatened on south-western New Brunswick, but on the advance of troops toward the scene the would-be invaders rapidly disappeared. There was, nevertheless, considerable anxiety all along the frontiers, and volunteers were industriously drilled in anticipation of an invasion at some point.

Ridgeway. —None came until the 1st of June. Early in the morning of that day about nine hundred men, under "General" O'Neil, crossed from Black Rock and landed a little below Fort Erie on the Niagara frontier. The regular troops at Hamilton and Toronto were at once sent against them, and the volunteer corps of those two cities were also called out. They responded with alacrity, and were soon on their way to the front. Colonel George Peacock, of the regular army, was in command of the entire force. O'Neil had occupied Fort Erie (a fort in name only) without opposition, and was preparing to advance upon the Welland Canal. The Queen's Own and the 13th Battalion were soon at Port Colborne, on Lake Erie, and the regulars and the other volunteers at Chippewa, on the Niagara River. Colonel Peacock determined to effect a junction of the two divisions at a point a few miles north-west of Fort Erie, and then march the entire force against the invaders. The officers at Port Colborne undertook to vary the plan slightly, and the volunteers there were in consequence sent off by rail toward Fort Erie early in the morning of June 2nd, in advance of the hour appointed. At Ridgeway they left the train and marched toward the rendezvous. On the way they met O'Neil and his motley crowd. As it was thought that Colonel Peacock must by this time be near at hand, the volunteers were ordered to advance to the attack. This they did in gallant style, and drove the Fenians some distance back. At this


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