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“Here Comes That Damned Green Flag Again”

The Fenians and the American Civil War

By
Michael Ruddy

Period Newsketch: Fenians Land in Canada

COPYRIGHT NOTICE
 This article initially appeared, in edited form, in the April 2003 issue of CIVIL WAR TIMES, and  appears here with the magazine's permission. It may not be copied in whole or in part for any use whatsoever without permission of
CIVIL WAR TIMES

The author: Michael Ruddy is a graduate in History from the University of California at Santa Barbara and is a specialist in the history of Young Ireland and the Fenian Movement. Mr. Ruddy is retired and lives in Union City, Tennessee. His great grandfather, Bernard McNulty, born in County Tyrone, Ireland was a hedge row school teacher there. McNulty arrived on the ship "Harriet" in New York on 3 October 1851.  McNulty in 1854 settled in Oakwood Township just west of Wabasha City, Minnesota.[1] He was a member of the Fenian Brotherhood.[2]

 

THE ORIGIN OF A NAME

Ireland is not only an island. It is a surreal image of a Celtic nation in the mind’s eye of every Irishman. Surrounding this image orbit 1200 years of nostalgic history passed down to each succeeding generation. From 1845 to 1852 a famine gripped Ireland.[3] The misery was made worse as an inept, laissez faire, British government fumbled around while an eighth of the population perished. A great exodus out of Ireland began and ‘the scattered debris of the Irish Nation,’ more than a million starving British-hating Irish, washed up on the shores of America.[4] To harness Irish energy it is necessary to weave myths, symbols, and Celtic history into solid cloth. John O’Mahony was a master weaver whose ultimate achievement was to organize a body of armed Irishmen ready to attack the British Empire on two continents. O’Mahony christened his organization “The Fenian Brotherhood” basing the name on the Gaelic word Fianna, a sort of Praetorian Guard to the high king in 3rd Century Ireland.[5] O’Mahony’s Fenians arrived onto the front pages of American history during the American Civil War. Had John O’Mahony achieved his objective, the United States’ flag would be flying over Canada and the end of British rule in Ireland would have been the closing act of the American Civil war.

 

The Birth of Fenianism

John O'Mahony was a strikingly handsome young man with the proud bearing of a Celtic warrior. Born in 1819 near Mitchelstown, County Cork and descended from the ancient chiefs of the O’Mahony clan, he was leader of the peasantry along the border of Cork and Tipperary.[6] Originally a follower of Daniel O’Connell, leader of the non-violent Irish Repeal movement, [7] O’Mahony began to doubt that political action alone would ever lead Ireland to self-government.

In Fethard, County Tipperary, Michael Doheny, a thoughtful, pragmatic son of a poor farmer was born in 1805. His ugly, rugged face was so Irish he could have served as the model for any 1850 British cartoon caricature of an Irish peasant. Self-educated while running the family farm, he later acquired a formal education in law and was admitted to the London Bar. He returned to Ireland and became a moderately well off lawyer in Cashel; but, he, too, was fed up with political non-solutions to Irish independence.

O’Mahony and Doheny joined a group of young men who had been ousted from O’Connell’s Repeal party for refusal to swear an oath of non-violence. O’Connell deridingly called these cast-offs ‘Young Ireland’ because of their youthful lack of patience with political maneuvering. Chief amongst the leaders of ‘Young Ireland’ were Thomas Francis Meagher, John Blake Dillon and William Smith O’Brien.[8] This group called itself “The Irish Confederation”[9] and began openly advocating military action to achieve self-government in Ireland.

Advocating force is not the same thing planning a rebellion. Debating and rabble-rousing turned into life on the run for Michael Doheny and the Irish Confederation one night in 1848. “On the night of the 24th of July, I was awakened, where I was staying, by a rapping at my window. I recognized the voice of my sister in law, and learned from her, in a few seconds, how matters stood. O’Brien, Dillon and Meagher had left Dublin on learning the Habeas Corpus act had been suspended. I parted from my sister in law in half an hour, and rode off in the direction of Carrick-on-Suir, where I was certain Mr. O’Brien would direct his way, whether he came alone or followed by his countrymen in arms.”[10]

John O’Mahony learned the news the next day. “On Sunday morning a messenger arrived…to tell our club-men of the suspension of Habeas Corpus…. On Monday morning [I] met Messers. O’Brien, Meagher, and Doheny on their way to Carrick…. I went off to muster the country clubs from the Tipperary side of the Suir.”[11] Unfortunately the 1848 rising was over before O’Mahony and his band could act.

William Smith O’Brien accompanied by his young lieutenant, James Stephens, and a small force of men attempted to capture some local policemen at the small town of Farrenrory.[12] Some shots were fired but everyone scattered as British troops began to arrive. O’Brien and Meagher were arrested shortly thereafter, O’Brien on a train platform in Thurles and Meagher walking along a road near Cashel.

 The British moved swiftly before any defined plan of action existed in the Confederation. Arrest warrants were issued for the leaders. The, now, fugitive Doheny made his ‘felon track’ through the backcountry of Ireland meeting at various times in mountain cottages with, O’Mahony and Stephens.[13] James Stephens and John O’Mahony escaped to France where Stephens remained until his return to Ireland in 1856. O’Mahony sailed on to New York in 1853 where, free of British interference, he began again the ancient fight.

Michael Doheny landed in 1849 in New York and opened up a law office.[14] Within a year of his arrival Doheny was captain in an Irish militia group. In May of 1850 Doheny’s unit was formally accepted into state service as the 9th New York State Militia. Doheny rose to the rank of Colonel.[15] He joined every club or association he could find which had the theme of an independent Ireland. One of these clubs was John O’Mahony’s Emmet Monument Association.[16] When attendance and interest slackened in the EMA the two men began searching for an alternative because Michael Doheny and John O’Mahony had a plan.

It was late Autumn in 1857 in New York City[17] and the noisy jangling of horse drawn carts accompanied by the shouts of draymen cursing their charges through the tangled traffic seeped through the cracks around the old windowsill at number 6 Centre Street[18] making it hard to hear what was being said. Not satisfied with deadening only one the five senses, the mercantile center of the New World sent the odor of horse manure spiced with a host lesser pungencies aloft into the stairwells and over the transom. Inside the room a thick cloud of intermingled cigar and cigarette smoke laid heavy. Below the layer of smoke, John O’Mahony and Michael Doheny plotted the imminent defeat of England. The time for another rising had come and they were sure that this time, unlike all the times before, Ireland would be victorious and become ‘a nation once again.’[19] They would enlist expatriate Irishmen to be recruited and trained as soldiers. With this liberation army they would sail to Ireland where their arrival would signal a general uprising.

O’Mahony and Doheny knew that to successfully land men and arms in Ireland for their rebellion they would need an Irish connection. A carefully worded message was carried to Dublin.[20] The Fenian Movement, like its chosen symbol the Phoenix, arose out of the smoke and spread its wings towards Ireland. A process began that unified Irish Nationalism for the first time in both Ireland and the United States.

Living underground in Dublin was James Stephens, the Irish connection. He was a large, rotund, balding man sporting a full beard and the demeanor of dignity bolstered by self-perceived importance. His every pore breathed unbounded optimism and a firm commitment to Ireland’s fight for freedom. A born conspirator with ceaseless energy and a capability to organize, this was the man who could ready Ireland for the coming struggle. Stephens opened the message, glanced for a moment at the signatures on the bottom, and began scheming. His response to New York used as a courier O’Mahony’s confidant, Joseph Denieffe, who had been sent to Ireland to assess the possibility of stirring the people to another rebellion.[21] Stephens consented to join the group, but only if he was chosen supreme leader with dictatorial powers: “A few words as to my position. I believe it essential to success that the centre of this or any similar organization should be unshackled; in other words, a provisional dictator. On this point I can conscientiously concede nothing.”[22]

John O’Mahony was not a happy man. He had not envisioned himself subservient to Stephens. But Irish independence was more important and he accepted Stephens’ leadership of the overall organization. Stephens sailed in October of 1858 to America and ceremoniously appointed O’Mahony “Head Centre” of the American branch. Irish Nationalism was now solidified in America and Ireland by this most unlikely alliance. A learned, idealistic, almost graceful John O’Mahony and a blustering, pompous, carnival huckster James Stephens put aside their differences and began the process of recruiting and training men.

They organized a network of secret cells called “Circles” each with a leader called a “Centre.”[23] O’Mahony called his organization in America the Fenian Brotherhood and the Circles organized were relatively open in their meetings. Many Circles formed into military units, to practice drilling and marching. Back in Ireland Stephens called his organization the Irish Republican Brotherhood, or IRB.[24] In an effort to avoid mass arrests in the event of any Circle being discovered by Dublin Castle (the Irish equivalent of Scotland Yard) all Circles in Ireland remained anonymous to each other.[25] Drilling and training in Ireland was done in secret.

O’Mahony and his colleagues had embarked on one of the wildest rides in Irish-American history. Only a combination of Irish credulousness and Yankee boundless self-faith could take such a scheme and put it onto center stage America. But that is just what happened. Thousands of Irishmen joined the organization and began to train for battle.[26] The military atmosphere prevalent in 1858 provided the right soil for the growth of a Fenian army.[27] The possibility of Irish independence as a direct result of these actions always hovered tenuously at the outermost fringes of reality; but Fenianism struck a resonant chord in Irish hearts.

Irishmen Join America’s Call to Arms

The advent of American Civil War brought a potent ingredient into the mix. By 1860 the bitter gap between North and South had widened and the fibers holding the United States together began to unravel. Stirred to combat by political leaders too proud or too stubborn to yield, volunteers poured into the enlistment centers. Before it was over three and one half million men fought and five hundred thousand died.[28] One hundred and eighty thousand of those who fought were born in Ireland.[29] What motivated Irishmen to risk their lives in ‘America’s fight’? Many spoke only Gaelic or broken English and lived on the fringes of society, pushed there by their lack of education, their Catholicism, and the normal reaction of an established culture towards those who were different. The North-South polarization which had festered through a century of economic and political warfare between plantation farming and mercantile opportunism might explain why an exasperated tradesman in New York or farmer in South Carolina would grab a musket and march off to solve the problem. It did not explain the Irish soldier.

Fenian brigades and all Irish state militias were an army in waiting across the United States when the war began.[30] With names like “The Phoenix Brigade” and “The Emmet Guards” these groups met, paraded, and drilled for the next great rising in Ireland. Understandably a synergy formed between Irish patriots drilling and training and the sudden need for Yankee and Rebel soldiers. Caught up in dreams of glory and a chance to test themselves in combat, recruited and led by men eager for military promotion, some of these Irish military units enlisted to a man into the nearest volunteer regiment.[31]           Irishmen flung themselves into battle on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line flying symbolic green flags of a non-existent nation. They fought, many times against one other, for Ireland’s freedom. Envisioning Irishmen fighting Irishmen in America’s Civil War, John O’Mahony tried to dissuade Fenian military units from joining the rush to enlist. “The first enemies the 69th [NY] will encounter will, in all probability be Irishmen….”[32] It fell on deaf ears. Finding himself powerless to stop the rising Irish enlistment, he made an adroit about-face and discovered the silver lining. Forthcoming battles would serve as a training ground upon which Irish generals, captains, sergeants, corporals, and privates could learn the art of war in preparation for the fight for Irish freedom. O’Mahony took advantage of his change in policy and organized the New York 99th National Guards Regiment with himself as Colonel in command.[33]

The Union Army mobilization in New York provided the stage upon which the mettle of the heirs of the sacred Fianna could be proven in combat. With the echoes of Fort Sumter still reverberating throughout the nation, Irish soldiers of the 69th New York marched off to the front along the narrow, tenement-lined streets of the city. Thousands of men, women, and children turned out to send their boys into battle. Fluttering over the recruits was a new splendid green flag overflowing with symbols of Irish Nationalism: an uncrowned harp; a golden sunburst; a wreath of shamrocks; and, in Gaelic, the old battle cry “Never Retreat from A Clash of Spears.”[34] The exultant crowds witnessed a sight not seen for centuries: an Irish Army going to war. It was a heady brew.[35] Along that parade route, if you were Irish, a vision began to take shape of a battlefield in a future Ireland, a cowering enemy wearing the hated Saxon crimson awaiting the charge of Erin’s green host. One final victorious attack and Ireland would be free forever. If you were one of the paid informers posted along the route that afternoon, the notes you jotted down were scarcely comforting to your paymasters up in Canada or back in Britain. Carrying Irish dreams, the men of the 69th marched off to the piers and boarded a ship for Virginia. At Bull Run, Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, and in many other battles the 69th joined the regiments that made up the Irish Brigade and fought bravely against a gray Confederate Army. For many Irishmen this was not the most important fight.

The Fenian Brotherhood Goes to War

Fenian Circles sprang up in the Armies, North and South. There was much active recruiting in the encampments and membership continued to increase. The largest was “The Potomac Circle” in the Army of the Potomac. First Lieutenant Thomas Galwey of the Hibernian Guard, a company of the 8th Ohio Volunteers was a Fenian “Centre.” “Our meetings take place at eight o’clock in the evening. A few minutes are enough for the dispatch of the routine business, for the initiation of new members, and so forth. After this, any officer who has to go on duty is careful to steal back to his camp, often six or eight miles away, for the officers belong to every corps of the army.”[36] They met as comrades to discuss Ireland and what should be done to free her and they met in good fellowship to drink away the dullness of camp life. “Whiskey is a great thing in the army. At times we have ‘lashins’ of it, as they say in the Irish Brigade, and then it is sometimes very hard to find.”[37]

The Irish Brigade in the Union Army put any question of Irish courage under fire to rest. Assembled and led by Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher “of the Sword,”[38] the Irish Brigade fought valiantly, decimating itself against the enemy. Whether or not Thomas Meagher was actually a sworn member of the Fenian Brotherhood is sometimes debated because he didn’t take part in Fenian functions;[39] but, that he was a frequent visitor to Fenian headquarters and a good friend of the leading Fenian military men is not debated. Fenian officers actively joined him recruiting to fill the ranks of his Brigade.

The Irish Brigade was Meagher’s own idea. As a Captain in the 69th NY, Meagher was optimistic in his request to form the brigade in September of 1861. “Authorize positively to organize an Irish brigade of 5,000 men. I can do so forthwith and have it ready in thirty days to march. Please reply at once authoritatively by telegraph, afterward by official letter. Expedition in the matter of vital importance.”[40] Needless to say, Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, accepted the offer at once. He referred Meagher to Governor Edwin Morgan of New York who authorized the recruiting. “I have accepted Captain Meagher's proposal to organize the Irish brigade in thirty days.”[41] Some say such heroics were incurred to further Meagher’s career, others say it was to prove to America that the Irish could stand and fight with the best. Many, looking through a darker glass, felt that army enlistment was a good way for the United States to rid itself of Irish immigrants.

Irish Brigade exploits were followed on both sides of the ocean and many an Irishmen basked in the glory of Brigade bravery. Once during a fierce battle, the Irish Brigade charged several times against an entrenched Confederate line. A Confederate officer, looking through binoculars at the Battle of Malvern Hill July 1, 1862, saw that the Brigade was reforming for another charge. “Here comes that damned green flag again.” ‘That Damned Green Flag Again’ was enshrined in a poem by John C. Hoey in Ireland and recited everywhere by the Fenians.[42]

There were many occasions during the Civil War where Fenians in blue and gray put aside their assigned roles and worked together in the cause of Irish freedom. Behind a wall at Fredricksburg an Irish soldier from Georgia faced several charges of the Irish Brigade. Seeing the color-bearer fall dead in the last charge, he waited until nightfall and then crawled out on the battlefield and rescued the Green Banner. After taking the flag and wrapping it around himself under his uniform, he jumped into the river separating the Union and Confederate armies. Amid firing from his own men, receiving a wound in the process, he swam over and delivered the flag back to the Irish Brigade. “You have earned the goodwill and esteem of the Brigade,” said Brigadier General Meagher, “You are welcome to join us, if you wish.” The soldier indicated he couldn’t and with the help of Fenian mediators from both armies the soldier was returned back to his own lines.[43]

During the Atlanta campaign Brigadier General Thomas W. Sweeny, USA, called a truce with Major General Patrick R. Cleburne, CSA, both Irish-born, and sent a message asking Cleburne to join the Fenians after the war and help raise an army to free Ireland. Cleburne wouldn’t commit. “After the war closed, [he told Sweeny,] both of them would have had fighting enough satisfy them for the rest of their lives.”[44]

IRB envoys and Fenian messengers frequently crossed battle lines to deliver the latest news from Ireland and collect money for ‘The Cause.’[45] First Lieutenant Galwey described one such encounter when a sentry brought him an ‘Irish Newspaperman’ with passes signed by both USA and CSA officers. (The “newspaperman” was actually a Fenian emissary.) “A few nights later a joint meeting was held in a ravine not far from Falmouth. A sentry was posted at either end of the opening and the two delegations, one in gray and one in blue, after swearing an oath before entering not to discuss the American Civil War, met in the Center.”[46] They discussed the army they would raise after the war to defeat England.

A Fenian Brotherhood divided against itself cannot stand

April 1, 1862 brought the untimely death of Michael Doheny in New York. One is left to ponder what might have been the fate of the Fenian Brotherhood had its able mentor been there during the critical period after the Civil War when membership peaked. John O’Mahony and the men and officers of the 69th NY regiment buried Doheny in Calvary Cemetery in New York.[47] With Doheny went some of the glue that held the Fenians together. Egos began to rule and the wheels on the Fenian bandwagon began to wobble.

In November of 1863, the Fenians held a convention in Chicago attended by 82 delegates.[48] Cracks, always evident in the Stephens – O’Mahony relationship, began to widen. O’Mahony had never really accepted James Stephens’ interference into Irish affairs in America. Stephens and his IRB, for their part, resented the various delegations sent to Ireland by O’Mahony to verify if the IRB Circles were real or figments of Stephens’ fertile imagination.[49] The fiery impetuous leader of the Phoenix Club of the Cork IRB, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa wrote, “If, instead of sending us the means to fight, they only send men to inquire into our condition and report thereon the thing will never be done.”[50]

The Chicago convention witnessed the first public break in the O’Mahony-Stephens partnership. In a carefully orchestrated sequence O’Mahony resigned as Head Centre to be then elected President. The convention established a central council of five members to be appointed by the ‘new’ president. The leadership of the Fenian Brotherhood, originally bestowed on O’Mahony, was now an elected position and no longer subservient to Stephens.[51] Stephens, with no alternative, ignored the challenge, in public at least.[52] He could not afford to jeopardize his periodic tours of the United States selling Fenian war bonds. An open split in the Brotherhood could dry up these revenues.

The Fenian convention in Cincinnati in January of 1865 saw the number of delegates rise to 398. To the chagrin of the more cautious O’Mahony, Stephens promised the membership that the great rising would occur in 1865.[53] The Civil War was drawing to a close. Anticipation was high in both Ireland and America as Fenianism grew in membership, power, and readiness to act. Irish-American politicians delighted in seeing a quiver rippling through American politics every time the Fenian Phoenix flapped its wings. American politicians began to court the Fenians under the assumption they controlled the Irish vote.[54] This was an assumption even non-Fenian Irish were loath to deny as the Fenians were drawing political power towards the Irish.

The center of action now shifted to Ireland as Irish-born American Civil War veterans began arriving to take part in what Stephens had promised: “war or dissolution in 1865.”[55] Secrecy was never a strong suit in Irish nationalist undertakings and the Fenians and IRB were no exception in 1865. With different speech patterns, odd-looking square-toed shoes, and strange mannerisms the returning Irish-American soldiers were readily distinguishable as they filtered back onto the Old Sod through the various ports of entry.[56] At the Dublin Post Office two checks for Ł1000 each from O’Mahony to the Dublin treasurer of the IRB, James O’Leary were intercepted.[57] Patrick Meehan, messenger to Stephens from O’Mahony, lost the message he was supposed to deliver along with Ł500 and both were instead delivered to the police.[58] Thoroughly aroused, Dublin Castle began to take a serious interest in the IRB activities. As a result of its investigations the Castle ended up with a more coherent picture of what the IRB was planning than the IRB itself. Leaks, confiscated documents, and informers insured disaster.

September 15, 1865, Dublin Castle struck. In Dublin they Confiscated or destroyed all equipment and files belonging to the Fenian newspaper The Irish People and jailed every Fenians they could find.  Many IRB leaders were arrested including James Stephens. Surprisingly the police did not guard Stephens well and he was immediately rescued, jumping over the wall of Richmond prison. This was a great public relations coup for the IRB and a serious embarrassment for Dublin Castle. At this critical moment, Stephens, unsure of what was happening and aware of the troubles in the Fenian Brotherhood in America, called everything off. Not everyone wanted to hear the message. An initial flurry of uncoordinated encounters with local police in 1865 was followed by another botched attempt in 1867. Both ‘risings’ ended up as scattered skirmishes leading to more arrests of IRB members.

The lack of success in 1865 in Ireland brought about a total split in the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States where more and more members were calling for O’Mahony’s head. O’Mahony called a special convention of the Fenian Brotherhood on October 16, 1865 in order to forestall moves being made by the Central Council to change the constitution.[59] O’Mahony rightfully saw the proposed changes as a challenge to his leadership. In the end, he was unable to round up enough support to prevent a restructure. O’Mahony was allowed to remain as president and choose a council but his powers were taken away and the newly constituted “Senate” contained his opponents held the power. One of these opponents was William Randall Roberts, a successful Irish immigrant businessman from New York City.

The movement peaked in membership with more than 600 delegates attending the convention. The Fenian Brotherhood, at the time when it had reached its highest potential to achieve success, began to render asunder. By January 1866 Fenianism was divided into two opposed camps: the “O’Mahony Wing” led by O’Mahony and the “Senate Wing” led by Roberts. O’Mahony desperately tried to keep the Brotherhood focused on the original plan of sending money, men, and arms to Ireland at a time designated by James Stephens. Roberts and the Senate wing wanted immediate action in the form of an invasion of Canada and the establishment of a base in Canadian territory from which to call for United States’ recognition of “belligerent status,” the first step toward Ireland’s independence.[60] “If we can get a foothold on which to raise the Irish flag we shall be recognized…. A government once established, it will have the sympathies of every Irishman. Irishmen in every quarter of the land seeing that we are working instead of talking, the cause will go triumphantly forward until there will not be left a single Saxon cutthroat.”[61]

Canada under Fenian attack: “We’ve got nothing else to do”

“We’ve got nothing else to do” were the words of a Fenian song.[62] It was true. The end of the Civil War freed up thousands of Irish soldiers, many unable to find work, who were now free to pursue the fight for Irish freedom. The squabbling Fenian Brotherhood in the United States mirrored the uncoordinated attempts at insurrection made by the IRB in Ireland. Three attempts were made to establish a base in Canada. In each of these attempts the Brotherhood operating clumsily in the open and hopelessly disorganized, had its plans divulged to Canada, the United States, and Great Britain by an abundance of willing informers.

The first action taken against Canada occurred in April 1866 by a desperate John O’Mahony attempting to retrieve control of the Fenian Brotherhood from Roberts. He decided to upstage the Senate Wing with a Canadian adventure of his own. O’Mahony set in motion a plan quickly cobbled together by one of his military advisors, Bernard Dorian Killian, intended to land an armed Fenian force on Campobello, a small Canadian island near Eastport, Maine. The perceptive Illustrated London News reported, “It seems the design of Killian and his accomplices to provoke a breach of neutrality on the part of the native population, with a view to causing a war between Great Britain and the United States.”[63] The fiasco ended abruptly on April 19 when the United States confiscated the Fenian munitions ship, Ocean Spray. What Roberts and his Senate derisively called the “Eastport Fizzle” concluded with its sole accomplishment the stealing of a flag from a Canadian customhouse on tiny Indian Island.[64] The more perceptive members of the Brotherhood saw that Canadians were not going to rise in arms against the British -- a keep precept in Fenian logic. The blunder at Campobello insured that O’Mahony lost the last remnants of his influence over the Brotherhood. James Stephens ‘at the behest’ of O’Mahony, sailed into to New York, on May 11, 1866 accepted O’Mahony’s resignation. “No man worth the name questions your honor and devotion to Ireland; but the united action we desire so much, and to effect which I left Ireland at your invitation, would be impossible while you directed activities here.”[65]

While in New York, Stephens was treated courteously by Roberts, who promised, “If it could be shown that Ireland was accessible by a military expedition, the Senate would change their plans.”[66] In spite of Robert’s promise three weeks later on May 31, 1866, the Senate’s Fenian army invaded Canada. On leave from his post as Major in the U.S. Army, Fenian Major General Thomas W. Sweeny as the Fenian Secretary of War sent Fenian Colonel John O’Neill commanding 500 soldiers across the US-Canadian border near Buffalo into Fort Erie, Canada. This attack was well executed by an O’Neill, a Union officer in the Civil War[67] who had learned his lessons well. In a classic divide and conquer strategy he promptly placed his troops between two Canadian forces heading towards a rendezvous at Fort Erie and attacked and defeated the first force of Canadian Militia units at the Battle of Ridgeway. It is doubtful the Fenians would have been able to hold out against a properly directed concentration of troops but the Canadians had their own problems.

Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Booker commanding 840 Canadians was approaching the Fenians skirmish line when the Canadians saw some Fenian officers on horseback and shouted, “Calvary! Look out for Calvary!” Booker, while advancing his troops toward the Fenian, issued an order to his reserve, “Prepare for Cavalry.” The Queen’s Own, Companies 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 formed into a square. There was no Cavalry and the forward part of the square was ordered to the rear. This gave the support troops the impression a retreat had been sounded and they broke to the rear. “The bugles now having sounded the ‘Retire,’ Nos. 1 and 2 of the Queen’s Own fell back and seeing their comrades in disorder they too became demoralized.”[68] The Canadian army turned and ran. The Fenians chased the Canadians into Ridgeway and O’Neill began desperately to signal for reinforcements; but it was not to be.

President Andrew Johnson, belatedly responding to the obvious neutrality violation from United States soil, issued a “Proclamation of Neutrality” and sent in Major General George Gordon Meade. Meade immediately issued orders to Major General W. F. Barry. “I wish you to use the force at your command to preserve the neutrality by preventing the crossing of armed bodies, by cutting off reinforcement supplies and by seizing of all arms, ammunition, &c….”[69] The US steamship Michigan under command of Captain Bryson arrived on the scene near Fort Erie and interrupted the festivities, impounding Fenian arms and rounding up Fenian soldiers. A reporter for the New York Times wrote, “Shortly after my arrival in this city the gunboat Michigan arrived having in charge two canalboats drawn by tugs, on board of which were about 400 Fenians, who had surrendered to the Michigan after entering American waters.”[70] O’Neill cut off and forced to retreat with his troops back onto United States territory was captured along with the remaining Fenians. While O’Neill was engaged at Ridgeway, Fenian Brigadier General Samuel Spears commanding 1200 soldiers marched into Canada at Pigeon Hill across the Vermont-Quebec border. Spears made a speech and, upon hearing British Regulars were headed his way, re-crossed the border into the waiting arms of the U.S. Army. With most Fenians now in custody, the United States government, one eye fixed on England and the other on the Irish vote, decided to discretely release the majority on nominal bond dispersing them with railroad tickets home. There is a temptation to join the New York Times who wrote off the Fenian “attack on a deserted dunghill” as a frivolous non-event.[71] “The Fenian Folly; Irish Army Takes To Its Heels In The Dark” blared the headlines.[72]

UP IN SMOKE
The Fenians are Towed Back From Canada on a Barge
by the USS Michigan (Period Sketch)

We must not underestimate the possibilities open to the Fenians if the United States chosen to ignore the Canadian border incursions and given O’Neill a chance to get more troops into Canada. United States troops had disarmed 7000 soldiers[73] and it does not take too much imagination to see the kind of havoc that could have been wrought had the Fenians planned events a little better. An established base on Canadian soil would have provided the possibility of recognition of the Fenians as a belligerent government in control of its territory. This very recognition Queen Victoria’s British government gave the Confederate States at the commencement of the Civil War and it still rankled in Washington. The British Minister, Sir Fredrick Bruce, saw the possibilities, too, noting that Major Thomas Sweeny, still on active service in the United States Army, was laying out strategy for an Irish attack on Canada. Bruce voiced his concern to Seward. “It seems to me he ought to choose between the North American and the Irish Republic.”[74] The possibilities of 1866 were illuminated further two years later. Fenian Brigadier General John O’Neill was called into a meeting at the White House with President Andrew Johnson. “General, your people unfairly blame me a good deal for the part I took in stopping your first movement. Now I want you to understand that my sympathies are entirely with you, and anything which lies in my power I am willing to do to assist you. But you must remember that I gave you 5 full days before issuing any proclamation stopping you. What, in God’s name, more did you want? If you could not get there in 5 days, by God, you could never get there; and then, as President, I was compelled to enforce our Neutrality Laws, or be denounced on every side.”[75] We are left to judge whether wily William Seward and pragmatic President Johnson had given the Fenians all the time they could afford to give; or, perhaps more likely, stepped in before war with Great Britain became a real possibility.

O’Mahony and Stephens fade away

A victory was a victory and The Battle of Ridgeway provided the Senate Wing with enough glory to ensure they remained firmly in control of the Fenian Brotherhood. O’Mahony and Stephens no longer played important parts. Accused of living high on Brotherhood funds, O’Mahony died alone and destitute in a New York tenement in 1877. He had given up his aristocratic birthright and devoted his life to the cause of Irish freedom and it had killed him. Surrounding himself with sycophants and informers, he did not possess the political savvy to maintain control of the Brotherhood. A quaint custom of the Irish is that after they have destroyed the man they canonize the corpse. No exception to the ritual, John O’Mahony’s body was taken back to Ireland where he was given a hero’s burial.[76]

The fate of James Stephens paralleled his American counterpart. His vacillating at the moment set for the attack in 1865 created the disorganization that in member’s eyes led to the poor showing of the IRB and it cost him his support. By the end of 1866, Stephens had been replaced and the IRB was being directed by Fenian Captain, Thomas J. Kelly, an Irish-American Civil War veteran. Stephens was forced into exile in France where he lived in abject poverty. He was finally allowed to return to Ireland September 25, 1891.[77] Still in poverty and forgotten, he died March 29, 1901. James Stephens, his coffin wrapped in the Irish Tri-color, was given the traditional Irish hero’s burial in the Patriot’s Cemetery at Glasnevin.

Canada unites to meet the Fenians

The Fenian actions at Campobello and Fort Erie resulted in the unification of the Canadian colonies. The Fenian attacks brought home to the separate Canadian colonies their vulnerability and created a fear that they could be annexed by the United States piecemeal on one pretext or another. Blatant Fenian appeals to colonial Separatists united Confederation activists who succeeded in establishing The Dominion of Canada under the British America Act of 1867.[78] A more prepared Canada awaited the Fenians in 1870.

The third Fenian attack on Canada was again led by the Senate Wing. This time no “Battle of Ridgeway” occurred to give hope to the remaining die-hard Fenians left in the movement. Fenian Colonel Henri LeCaron, a British Spy, gave the Fenian plans and their progress over to British and Canadian intelligence insuring Canadian troops were in place before the attacks began. The first assault was made across the Vermont-Quebec border near Eccles Hill on May 25, 1870. Now a Fenian Brigadier General, John O’Neill sent Fenian Captain Cronan and 400 Vermont Fenian soldiers across the border into Quebec, at which point the Fenian forces were pinned down by fire from a group of Canadian Home Guard sharpshooters.[79] O’Neill was captured as he returned to bring up reinforcements, surrendering meekly to US Marshal George P. Foster. Watching their leader go by in a coach under guard took some of the starch out of the Fenians who retreated back into United States territory and were rounded up by U.S Army units.[80]

The second assault, under the command of Fenian Colonel Owen Starr, crossed the New York-Quebec border toward Holbrook Corners May 27, 1870. For a few minutes the Fenians held a breastwork they had set up. At the approach of the Huntingdon Borderers commanded by Canadian Colonel Bagot, the Fenians retreated back into New York where they, too, surrendered to U.S. troops.[81] Once again Uncle Sam, in the person of Major General Meade had ‘upheld’ United States ‘neutrality.’ Meade, as before, was lenient and the troops were allowed to return home after having been relieved of their arms. This time the United States did not foot the bill leaving Tammany Hall and Irish volunteer organizations to pick up train fares.[82]

A final, bizarre anti-Canadian act took place on October 5, 1871 as John O’Neill, without approval of the Fenian Senate, led 40 men into Canada at the Minnesota-Manitoba frontier. O’Neill had hoped to stir up the Metis, a rebellious French-Indian population in Manitoba, but Luis Riel, their leader, refused to get involved and O’Neill and his men were captured by U.S. troops after raiding the Hudson Bay Pembina trading post in Manitoba.[83]

Close, but No Republic

The actions of Fenian Brotherhood and its posture as an Irish government in exile appear almost farcical as we look back from a modern vantage point; at the time, however, newspapers reported wild stories of Fenian strength and the populace took these exaggerations as true. In England Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone viewed Fenianism as the direct result of Parliament’s procrastination in facing Irish problems. “[British rule in Ireland] is in my opinion, so long as it continues, an intolerable disgrace, and a danger so absolutely transcending all others, that I call it the only real danger of the noble empire of the Queen.”[84] The ‘noble empire’ had created, almost overnight, a second Irish ‘Nation’ in America free to assemble, arm itself, and plot revenge outside the restraints of British Citizenship.

John O’Mahony combined Irish hatred of the British with the military environment that existed in America before and during the Civil War to forge an Irish Nationalist movement in exile, much of it under arms. The Fenians using the threat of a negative Irish vote successfully created interlocks between American politics, Irish aspirations, and United States’ relations with Great Britain. The result found the British government weighing each action it took in Ireland against the possible effect it might have on the Irish vote in the United States and any resultant shift in United States policy toward Britain. It was, to say the least, an uncomfortable position for the policy-makers of the British Empire.

The effect of tying Irish votes to foreign relations served to magnify the power of the Fenian Brotherhood. The actual strength or capability of the movement was never quite clear in Britain or the United States as these two worthy governments threatened each other with Fenian consequences. Playing on the worst fears of both, the Fenians came very close to inciting a war between the United States and Great Britain that could have led to an Ireland free of British rule and the annexation of Canada by the United States.[85]

The End


FOOTNOTES

 

[1] History of Wabasha County [MN] by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge p.126, published in Chicago 1920

[2] Irish Families by Edward MacLysaght p.137, published in Dublin 1957. MacLysaght indicates McNulty founded the movement in the U.S., for which I have not uncovered one shred of evidence. Perhaps MacLysaght uncovered sources somewhere wherein McNulty founded a Fenian branch in Wisconsin or Minnesota and was confused. Anna Victoria McNulty, his daughter, confirmed to my mother his Fenian involvement.

[3] This Great Calamity 1845-1852 by Christine Kennealy, published in Boulder Colorado, 1995.

[4]The Scattered Debris of the Irish Nation” by Edward O’Donnell, p.52, a paper published in The Hungry Stream in Belfast, Ireland 1955. The quoted title is from a remark by “Dagger John” Hughes, Catholic Archbishop of New York.  See: Dagger John by Richard Shaw, p.236, published in New York 1977.

[5] The influence of John O’Mahony, a Gaelic scholar and translator of Geoffrey Keating’s History of Ireland, from Gaelic to English, (published in New York 1857) can be seen in the decision to call the group Fenians from the Gaelic Fianna or “Finn’s men,” an ancient group of Irish Warriors led Fionn McCumail (Finn McCool.) For more on the Fianna see Seumas McManus: The Story Of The Irish Race, pp.64-69, originally published in 1921 and reprinted in 1991, Connecticut.

[6] Fenian Heroes and Martyrs by John Savage, p.301, published in New York 1868 and Recollections Of An Irish Rebel By John Devoy, p. 266, published in New York 1929.

[7] O’Connell fought for “Repeal” of the Act that had stripped Ireland of her Parliament.

[8] O’Brien, Dillon, and Meagher: leaders of the Irish Confederation. William Smith O’Brien was the recognized intellectual leader of the group. The Irish Confederation frustrated by the famine and lack of a true philosophy, disbanded. The members were forced to reunite by events in 1848. John Blake Dillon was a commander in O’Brien’s small force. Thomas Francis Meagher was the great orator of Young Ireland. In America Meagher was Brigadier General of the Irish Brigade during the U.S. Civil War.

[9] The Felon’s Track by Michael Doheny, p.ix, published in New York 1849. For more on the Irish Confederation and its problems see The Most Distressful Country by Robert Kee, pp.256-269, republished in London 1989, from the 1972 original.

[10] Michael Doheny speaking in The Felon’s Track, op. cit. p.159.

[11] Memoirs of General Thomas Francis Meagher by Michael Cavanagh, p. 272, published in Worcester (MA) 1892. Cavanagh inserted O’Mahony’s account of his part in the failed 1848 rising in his book.

[12] The Most Distressful Country, op. cit., p.284. The Fenian Chief, op. cit., p.28.

[13] In The Felon’s Track, op. cit., Michael Doheny tells of his involvement in the 1848 rising and his trek across Ireland and subsequent escape to America. This number may be exaggerated. Certainly 2000 would have been there based on the number of clubs O’Mahony indicates were called and the fact his club had 400 members.

[14] Fenian Heroes and Martyrs, p291 Op. cit.

[15] A Personal Narrative of the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood by Joseph Denieffe, p.vi, published serially in The Gael in 1904 and as a book in New York in 1906.

[16] Robert Emmet was an Irish Patriot executed by the British. He said at his trial that no one should write an epitaph on his tombstone until Ireland gained her freedom.

[17] The Fenian Chief, op. cit., p.87.

[18] Memoirs of General Thomas Francis Meagher, op. cit., p. 368.

[19] A Nation Once Again: And then I prayed I yet might see, Our fetters rent in twain, And Ireland, long a province, be, A Nation once again! A well-known revolutionary song in Ireland.

[20] The Fenian Chief, op. cit., p.87

[21] A Personal Narrative of the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood, op. cit., p. 17.

[22] Ibid., p. 159, Appendix I, Letter: James Stephens to John O’Mahony.

[23]The Fenian Movement In The United States, by William D’Arcy, p.33. Published in New York 1947.

[24] “Fenian Brotherhood” and “The Irish Republican Brotherhood” were used interchangeably amongst both groups and the word “Fenian” is still used today to refer to Irish nationalists. The Fenians and the IRB were the forerunners of present day Ireland's nationalist alliances: in America the Clan Na Gael and in Ireland Sinn Fein, a political group, and the affiliated Irish Republican Army (IRA) paramilitary group.

[25] Fenian Heroes And Martyrs, op. cit., p.306. Savage attributes the use of circles (cells) to the influence that secret societies and their structures, particularly in Paris, held for O’Mahony and Stephens who claimed to have manned the barricades during the during the Third Republic. See also The Fenian Chief op. cit., p.92-93 for a detailed look at the IRB structure.

[26] The Fenian Movement In The United States, op. cit., p. 16. In 1859, a member enumerated forty groups of militia from various states “who knows.” The numbers involved in the Fenian incursion into Canada certainly indicate ‘thousands’ not to be an exaggeration.

[27] Immigrant Life In New York City 1825-1863 by Robert Ernst, p. 128 published in Syracuse 1994. Ernst cites that by 1853 there were 6,000 uniformed militia troops in New York of which 4,000 were foreign and 2,600 were Irish.

[28] Civil War Dictionary by Mark M Boatner III pp. 169, 602, and 858, published in New York 1959.

[29] The Irish Brigade by Paul Jones, reprint Gaithersburg (MD) no date, p7, Jones cites a United States Sanitary Commission report to arrive at 144 thousand in the Union Army. Note that William D’Arcy, in The Fenian Movement in the United States 1858-1886, op. cit., p61, gives a number of 160,000 in a footnote. I have added to the Union number my estimate of 20-30,000 Irish born men who served in the CSA to arrive at the number of 180,000 that I used.

[30] The Fenian Movement in the United States 1858-1886, op. cit., p. 16.

[31] Memoirs of General Thomas Francis Meagher, op. cit., p372.

[32] The Boston Pilot, May 4th, 1861, quoting the Fenian newspaper, The Phoenix.

[33]Recollections of Fenians and Fenianism, by John O’Leary p. 195, published in London 1896 and also Recollections of an Irish Rebel, op. cit., p. 268. In my possession is a carte de visite (CDV) of John O’Mahony in his uniform, the reproduction of which can be seen in The Civil War Times’ Photographic History of The Civil War p. 1301 (incorrectly giving the 40th NY) published in New York 1994.

[34] Riam nar druid o sbarin lann (literally: ever that-not drawing back from conflict of spears) Focloir Gaeilge-Bearla (Dictionary Gaelic-English) published in Dublin 1977 and also The Irish Brigade and Its Campaigns by David Power Conyngham, p.56, published 1866 New York. The motto can be seen on the flag in Memoirs of General Thomas Francis Meagher, op. cit., facing p.368.

[35] For an idea of how this may have looked, see a picture taken at the time in Remember Fontenoy!, by Joseph G Bilby p. 16, published in New Jersey in 1995.

[36] The Valiant Hours by Thomas Francis Galwey p. 74 published by his father Geoffrey Galwey in Pennsylvania in 1961.

[37] Ibid. p.75.

[38] I have seen many different reasons given to explain the “of the Sword” sobriquet that always follows Thomas Meagher’s name. Perhaps it is worthwhile to dispel the uncertainty. In the early 1800s there was a movement led by Daniel O’Connell to repeal the law that stripped Ireland of her Parliament. O’Connell demanded nonviolent, political methods to this end. When Meagher and others began to advocate military action should political action fail, they were asked to renounce all violence or be thrown out of the movement. Meagher, an eloquent orator, arose and spoke. He did not advocate violence, he said, but in the absence of success, he would never “abhor the sword.” Ever after he was called Meagher “of the Sword.”

[39] Memoirs of General Thomas Francis Meagher, op. cit., p.362 and The Fenian Movement in the United States 1858-1886, op. cit., p32. But Cavanagh does not sound convincing and D’Arcy is citing a letter by O’Mahony published in 1886, 9 years after Meagher’s death in Montana in1867. Cf. John Savage in Fenian Heroes and Martyrs, op. cit. p.63, “Meagher if he did not actively enter into the movement afterwards….” Savage is speaking of Meagher helping to get money to send Stephens at the time Doheny and O’Mahony were starting the movement. Savage later was elected to O’Mahony’s spot as president of the O’Mahony Wing and had as much reason in 1868 to claim Meagher as a Fenian as Cavenagh or O’Mahony did, yet, Savage does not list him in his book as a Fenian. That is more than sufficient cause to doubt Cavanagh and O’Mahony; however, as pointed out to me by Marta Roman, a Fenian researcher, Meagher’s letter to the Fenian Convention of 1863 on page 20 of the published “Proceedings” wherein Meagher gives his approval of contemplated changes it is hard not to conclude he was an official member who maintained a public distance from the Fenians for political reasons.

[40] Letter T F Meagher to Simon Cameron dated September 7, 1861 from The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series III, Volume I, p. 491, published in Washington DC 1899. Meagher recruited only 2400.

[41] Letter NY Gov. E.D. Morgan to Simon Cameron, dated September 10, 1861 from The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series III, Vol. I, op. cit., p. 497.

[42] Recollections of an Irish Rebel, op. cit. p.34. See also The Irish Brigade And Its Campaigns by David Power Conyngham p. 222. Conyngham says it was a Confederate Coronel.

[43] The Irish Brigade, op. cit. p.162. cf. Clear The Confederate Way!, p.120, published in Mason City, IA 2000 by Kelly J. O’Grady, who discounts the story as Irish Nationalist propaganda. Kelly cites the origin as a story in the Freeman’s Journal of March 28, 1914. He also cites the fact that the Irish Brigade’s green flags were not with the regiment until after the battle. The cooperation of Fenians across lines is well documented, cf. The Valiant Hours, cited below. The story, apocryphal or otherwise, is part of Irish Civil War history.

[44] Cleburne And His Command by Irving A Buck, Captain, CSA, p. 213. Published first in 1908 and reprinted in Wilmington (NC) 1991. Cf. The Irish In America by John Francis Maguire, p.597, published in London 1868. Maguire’s account of Cleburne’s response has a bit of a Southern ring to it: “…to assist in destroying the independence of one people [is] rather a poor preparation for the work of restoring the independence of another.”

[45] The Secret History Of The Fenian Conspiracy by John Rutherford, pp.24-25, published in London 1877. Rutherford had access to a lot of IRB documents. His interpretation of the documents has been much disputed. Getting passes may not have been as easy as Rutherford makes out, cf., A Personal Narrative of the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood, op. cit., p.185, a letter written in Louisville, Ky., 1864, from James Stephens to John O’Mahony indicating the trouble he had securing passes.

[46] The Valiant Hours, op. cit. p. 245 (Geoffrey Galwey quoting his father the Afterward titled Captain Brevet.)

[47] Fenian Heroes And Martyrs, op. cit., p.293.

[48] The Fenian Movement in the United States 1858-1886, op. cit., p36. If each delegate represents a Circle and noting that D’Arcy says each Circle should have 50 members minimum, we can infer there were at least 4000 Fenians. The actual membership was probably larger.

[49] Recollections of an Irish Rebel, op. cit., p.57.

[50] A Personal Narrative of the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood, op. cit., p.197. Letter: Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa to John O’Mahony.

[51] The Fenian Chief, op. cit., pp.191-192.

[52] Ibid. p.193. Letter: Stephens to Fenian Thomas Clarke Luby critical of O’Mahony. The letter was bought out into the open in 1865 after the raid on The Irish People, a Fenian Newspaper run by Stephens in Dublin.

[53] The Fenian Movement in the United States 1858-1886, op. cit., p40, also, The Secret History Of The Fenian Conspiracy by John Rutherford, op. cit., p.28.

[54] The Fenian Movement in the United States 1858-1886, op. cit., p182.

[55] The Fenian Movement in the United States 1858-1886, op. cit., p28.

[56] The Fenian Movement in the United States 1858-1886, op. cit., p72.

[57] John O’Leary, A Study In Irish Separatism, by Marcus Bourke p. 89, published in Co. Kerry, Ireland.

[58] The Fenian Movement in the United States 1858-1886, op. cit., p71.

[59] John O’Leary, A Study In Irish Separatism, op. cit., p. 86, published in Co. Kerry, Ireland 1967.

[60] The Civil War Day By Day by E B Long, p. 74, published New York 1971. On May 13, 1861 Queen Victoria issued a proclamation of neutrality thereby granting the Confederacy the rights of a belligerent. The Fenians saw their chance to gain the same from the United States by establishing themselves as a government on a conquered part of Canada.

[61] William Roberts quoted by Brendan O’Cathaoir in The Irish Sword, Vol. VIII, No 31, p. 79, published in Dublin 1907.

[62] The Year of the Fenians, by David Owen, p. 62, published in New York 1990.

[63] The Illustrated London News Supplement, May 5, 1866

[64] The Fenian Movement in the United States 1858-1886, op. cit., p139.

[65] Open letter Stephens to O’Mahony, Metropolitan Hotel, May 11, 1866, quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer, May 12, 1866.

[66] Philadelphia Inquirer, May 12, 1866.

[67] John O’Neill enlisted as Sergeant in the 1st US Reg. Cavalry rising to 1st Lt. He resigned and joined the Indiana 5th Cavalry as a 2nd Lt and later joined the 11th USCT as a Captain. Savage in Fenian Heroes and Martyrs, op. cit. gives this information on John O’Neill p. 383ff. HDS (civilwardata.com) indicates he was promoted to Lt Colonel in the USCT upon enlistment. He resigned from the USCT in November of 1864.

[68] Troublous Times In Canada by Captain John A. MacDonald of the 43rd Battalion, Ottawa Rifles, p. 50, published in Toronto, 1910.

[69] Letter from Meade to Barry from Headquarters Military Division Of The Atlantic, Buffalo, NY, Sunday June 3, 1866.

[70] The New York Times, Monday June 4, 1866..

[71] The New York Times, Saturday, June 2, 1866.

[72] The New York Times, Monday, June 4, 1866, Headlines.

[73] Fenians and Anglo-American Relations During Reconstruction by Brian Jenkins, p.150, published in Ithaca, New York 1969. He is quoting a June 16, 1866 letter from H.W. Hemans, British consul at Buffalo to Sir Fredrick Bruce, British minister to the United States. The quantity of muskets issued from or stored in Philadelphia was 6,500 and in New York, 2000 as stated by Fenian Major of Ordnance, W. M. O’Reilly in a letter to Fenian Major General Thomas W. Sweeny on May 3, 1866 found in the appendix of A Personal Narrative of the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood, op. cit., p.233.

[74] Fenians and Anglo-American Relations During Reconstruction, op. cit., p.111. Quoting a letter from Bruce to Seward December 26, 1865. The United States did relieve Sweeny from his U.S. Army command for being AWOL two weeks later, by then Sweeny had been Fenian Secretary of War for three months. Washington constantly brought up the Alabama reparations claims when Britain discussed Fenian doings with the implication that they might allow the Fenian incursions to occur and perhaps do nothing unless the claims were paid. Of course, the Fenians came to the same conclusion.

[75] Twenty Five Years in the Secret Service by Henri Le Caron, p59, published in London 1892. Le Caron was an alias used by Thomas Beach, who was a British informer in the upper circles of the Fenian Brotherhood.

[76] Recollections of an Irish Rebel, op. cit., p.271.

[77] The Fenian Chief by Desmond Ryan, op. cit., p.34.

[78] The Last Invasion Of Canada by Hereford Senior, p.56, published in Toronto, 1991.

[79] The Last Invasion Of Canada, op. cit., p.160.

[80] The Fenian Movement in the United States 1858-1886, op. cit., p.354.

[81] Troublous Times In Canada, op. cit., p.181. The Last Invasion Of Canada, op. cit., p.170.

[82] The Last Invasion Of Canada, op. cit., p.172.

[83] The Last Invasion Of Canada, op. cit., p.184.

[84] The Life of William Ewart Gladstone by John Morley, Volume II p.293. Published in New York 1911

[85] Fenians and Anglo-American Relations During Reconstruction by Brian Jenkins, op cit., p.42 quotes Queen Victoria’s journal: “…the impossibility of our being able to hold Canada, but we must struggle for it.” Queen Victoria was well aware of what an aroused United States with a fully equipped army was capable of, if that be the desire in Washington.


 [MR1] Fenian Soldiers in the Civil War and the Invasion of Canada: the proxy fight for Irish Freedom