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An Address delivered before the Vermont Historical 
Society at Montpelier, Oct. 19, 1880. by the 
Hon. Edward A. Sowles of St. Albans. 

■■ ^mi|W. i wiH r M i |!ii i | Hill ' ■ '" "»■ »i»w >i m» * ****H*«»-i<—*»-i*rt«*l 


Recollections of lion. B. F. Fifield, 
Who Was United States District At- 
torney at the Time. 

Publication in the Morning Journal 
a short time ago of the story of the 
St. Albans raid, as recalled by former 
Governor Josiah Grout, brings up the 
fact that the Hon. B. F. Fifleld of 
this city was United States District. 
Attorney at the time of a raid in an- 


jthe war and worked my way along 
until I was promoted to colonel. I 
intend to be a peaceful citizen. But 
I believed it my duty to avenge my 
wrongs and those of my native coun- 
try and thought I saw an opportunity 
to do so in making a raid on Canada. 
I did not intend to violate the laws 
of this country but to avenge the 
wrongs of my own." 

Senator Evarts and his family and 
a number of summer visitors 


many people of Windsor were present 

dertook an attack on Canada in June 
1866 and it was through his activity 
that the raid was so quickly sup- 
pressed, i 
When Mr. Fifleld learned that a; 
body of Irishmen had gathered in; 
Franklin county and were intending, 
to march into Canada, he. telegraphed 
Rockwood Hoar of Jlassachifsetts, who 
was then Attorney General of the 
United States. He was informed in 
reply tr/at a company of regular 
i trcops was on the way to St. Albans, 
t . Before the troops arrived Mr. Fi- 
! field gave a warrant for the arrest 
of Col. O'Neill, the leader, to United 
States Marshal Foster, who had com- 
manded a brigade at Gettysburg and 
who weighed something like 300; 
pounds. The marshal went to the' 
place where the men were encamped, 
if their irregular gathering can be 
called a camp, apprehended Col. O'- 
Neill and took him away without any 
resistance on the part of his follow- 
ers. "It made a deep impression on 
my mind," says Mr. Fifleld, "the re- 
spect for law and order shown' by 
these men who were planning a law- 
less raid." 

In about three hours after the ar- 
rest of Col. O'Neill the troops arriv- 
ed. They dismounted from the cars 
in silence, formed in line and inarched 
to the park without a word being 
spoken except the necessary orders. 
In the park they pitched their tents, 
I built fires, made coffee and cooked 
i supper like old campaigners as they j 
were. j 

iUXMh. i Kith™ 

other direction, when the Fenians un-; aU were dee pi y affected at the 

simple remarks of Col. O'Neill. The 
District Attorney made no reply. 
Judge Woodruff proceeded to sentence 
the prisoners, and in doing so said: 
"For your conduct in the service of 
the country, which secured your pro- 
motion to the rank of coloneli you 
deserve the country's thanks. For 
your endeavor to become a good and 
peaceful citizen you deserve commen- 
dation But these things cannot se- 
cure immunity from punishment for, 
offenses you have committed against 
the laws. The sentence must be exe-! 
cuted, and the sentence of the court; 
is that you be confined in jail for a: 
period of 60 days." ' | 

This enabled the Government to' 
state to the representatives of Great; 
Britain that the neutrality laws had; 
been enforced and offenders against' 
them promptly convicted and impris- 
oned. As a matter of fact Col. O'Neill , 
was not closely confined in jail,; 
though he returned to his quarters; 
there every night. But it is probable; 
that some f-jarof the effect of this ; 
proceeding on the Irish vote was felt,; 
for pardon was granted before the end; 
of the term and he was released. \ 

were then issued for the other Jead 
ers and they were gathered in with 
out resistance and'">iHitjdv-«*y — w- \m 
casion for employing the military, jf 
This broke up the raid, as the men; 
were disheartened at the loss of their : 
leaders. Mr. Fifleld then went to Gov-; 
fij "rnor Smith, who asked "What am I ! 
going to do? I don't want these men 
left here hanging around St. Albans 
with no money." I 
: "Put them on the ears, ship them 
to White River Junction and dump | 
them there," said Mr. Fifield. 

This was done, and on their arrival 
there the New Hampshire authorities 
took charge of them and shipped them 
on to Massachusetts. 

There was little need of Federal iB> 
tTference, as the men were unorgan- 
ized, practically unarmed, pocrlr 
clothed, and possessed of nothing ! 
dangerous except a strong hatred for I 
England. In reporting the matter toil 
:h« Attorney General Mr. Fifield com- 1 
pared them to Artemas Ward's troops, J 
But this prompt interference to pre- | 
. H'.ont a breach cf the neutrality laws | 
If was la such contrast to the actions 1 
i : J os England Ea several cases that it | 
H !»• a stronst impression and placed f 
*" » C:;It< tl States in a fine uositioii 



N army 240.000 strong, with Headquarters in New York, nr^ 
cretly recruited to Invade Canada. This daring plan was not 
made during Colonial days, hut as lately as 1866-barely forty- 

five years ago. . - f ,l- 

The plot was part of the general Fenian movement wh Ich^ ha 1 for JU 
chief object the freeing of Ireland and turning that 

The civil war in America had just ended. In the Union armies had ^been 
thousands oT irishmen and Irish sympathizers. ^ ^ ™^ 
trusted veterans; the very sort for a perilous mission. And-ihe reman 
decided to use them for the invading 6t Canada. ^ ^ 

Money was raised for the secret purchase °™ ^ at 

» r^^-o--f^ were eager, to 

strike this Wow at th*W*J« ^ gub . sodetles m several W cities; 

New T Tr r , r 

A Secret Army 

i cf Veterans. * conspiracy. Because 01 r M »>.»~ ~~"t~^, ""about 240.000 me: 
»w<^~«~>~«^o~— • the united States during that war. in »""" 

Tl were quietly mustered In. -hlrtle. (to avert suspicion) at varlo 

... The invaders began to arrive In small 'parties (to .avert -v 
<llT ™ po.nts along the Canadian border. Of these there were no less than 

„ ( . nr | Canada from many different points, iney ™" ?, D aone by Bte alt 

1UntJ eoum be sent to them. This transporting orweapons ha^to he a y^ ^ 
Wl But arms and ammunition enough to equip 60.000 men *ere airea y 

northward to the frontier. „„„>,-j »>,» Tinited States Governme: 

pointi News of the invasion had by this time ' a tltag couTd not b. p. 

. By the terms of our treaty with Great Brtttln^«* * Q ™ gnment3 of rifles. & 

glVOll netted. Tte <*™**^™^£T£g of Invates found Itself weapon!, 
• and confiscated them. Thus the mata army of ^inv ^munition that < 

Ktrenjiand helpless. An effort was made to ^ ana 

w]lm — the Government had deprived 


found that the expected " la *™™»*J£l noting England's whole Canaf 

•lonsor, retreat to American ^ ^ aa . Netll anft hls victorious bat baf j 

men set foot In the United States they were made prlso ^ 

men set iuui. *^ *** - — 

by the crew of the gunboat Michigan. An American a. 
under Gen. Meade quietly stamped out the last smoulde 

spark of the great conspiracy. Sweeney and his staff 
lutioiui already been arrested and his followers dispersed. . ■ 

T . i The Fenian Invasion of Canada was a thins of the past. The consp 
ilS 1 ' ell lwhlch had threatened to pour 240,000 armed men into the unprepared Dob. 
Vvas a total failure. It had been as futile as It had been spectacular. The ■ 
Vonplaco act of the United States Government to grabbing a few consigns 
\ arms had struck a deathblow to one of the most audacious plots of the cen«f 


nfljL4r^-£*~^*JL- 'Vt-zJ 14(0 


lJeeolleetions of Hon. B. V. FIfield, 
Who Was United States District At- 
torney at the Time. 

Publication in the Morning Journal 
a short time ago of the story of the 
s ui FW'l saunaoui oiqu-votuo isomer 
a n jo auo SB v&BMa ub Aq pa;oA uaaqthe 
Suiathi W SupMni ail* JO ^aop ©if; of 
wciaq pa.uss sua.* sju&um^wjJ.T Set 
•smao q«.\\. 5°X V 3 ^- SuwHn- 
.■■.osioa iptH* 's™iv>apsra- 

,■«-, p«K» U!-"*J- sjk S..anrtuj l T!A„ne 

„Aoq I.. '<>[os l^fA :™°U°J st: m°P- 
,. 3 tjjBJ sba\ nraSo-id -Owo;ft pire p» . 
- e'nia b SUI1.331U ssautsnq atn «WV a 
-sJicnioJlB sb uasoqo oioa piaym 
-huon; i« o.teK -SJK pne 'awna 

;.ri sjiV paB 1«'!V ff "OjSUUT^AV 
ui sidiui qoriA noiswAnoo icuoi^uie 
,nU oi s.)iB3ai-)p poiaata sj»av ujMua* 
•UiqilVL ' SJ K ^tl- -AVT siK T 

. -.Cmutiid "a T ssiK 'uapSpoH "af- 
" u a SSJK T O K !N * S WA\. 'Q 'IV 1 ' 

l| n -sjft Maptaip^a r I T -SJ K '«ospg d 
|j ^ 'fin '3TB0 - iJu;5 H •«« '«l«o; 

-Vsotf aqi 

rnoisTWW attt J° sassa". 
'u:aq SatAtoitoj atpt 'at^O 'V 
• 3 -sjk jo ataoq atn V* 1 cnl nopnioAan* 

•uojSujnsKAV i e ~ 
! bw»ix »n*s*i«I*a °l P*P a l 3 S n»o J !I r ,SJ K P nB ^ 30J a *a 'f gK " 

•saivaaiao ixra a *v 


, a[bji nt Sipctpsin iBaoin 
;o lojrqns aqi n 9tJ ° oi ^wmp 
-LUO0 -jqi jo; ajg ifii-tt. SmXtncI si n,. 
. :napp* aq pes s-.sipciparc aqj An | 

i t "oJo[(Itti5 spoq^Jcn siqwouousjp am -tj| 
| -pads poepai c!o;:s;qq;xiy itrui poSjn || 
' wired aqx -uisiainv sisjsa UJ^J.-nql 

lox si -tEpc: ai?u «! anss ? dl tL-' I 

• m ' ? ? ^ g i w LSM''' a! '! 

the war and worked my way along 
until I was promoted to colonel. I 
intend to be a peaceful citizen. But 
I believed it my duty to avenge my 
wrongs and those of my native coun- ; 
try and thought I saw an opportunity • 
to do so in making a raid on Canada. 
I did not intend to violate the laws 
of this cauntry but to avenge the 
wrongs of my own." 

Senator Evarts and his. family and 
a number of summer visitors and 
many people of Windsor were present 
and all were deeply affected at the 
simple remarks of Col. O'Neill. The 
District Attorney made no reply, j 
Judge Woodruff proceeded to sentence 
the prisoners, and in doing so said: 
"For your conduct in the service of 
the country, which secured your pro- 
motion to "the rank of colonel, you 
deserve the country's thanks. For 
your endeavor to become a good and 
peaceful citizen you deserve commen-i 
dation Out these things cannot se-j 
cure immunity from punishment for; 
offenses you have committed against 
the laws. The sentence must be exe- 
cuted, and the sentence of the courts 
is that you be confined in jail for a! 
! period of 60 days." ' 
j This enabled tho Government to 
1 state to the representatives of Great 
| Britain that the neutrality laws had 
j been enforced and offenders against 
I them promptly convicted and impris- 
' oned. As a matter of fact Col. O'Neill 
was not closely confined in jail, 
though he returned to his quarters 
there every night. But it is probable 
that some f-Kir of the effect of this 
proceeding on the Irish vote was felt, 
I for pardon was granted before the end 
i of the term and he was released. 


J/r. President and Gentlemen 

of the Vermont Historical Society : 

The history of Ireland has been characterized by local strifes, 
divisions and disappointments. No son of hers has ever occu- 
pied the throne of England. Unlike England and Scotland, 
the elements of discord have always shown themselves so promi- 
nently as to keep her people in continued sul>onliiiation. 

Whenever success has been within her grasp, some disap- 
pointed aspirant and his faction, has wafted it from her and 
given it to others. She never could concentrate her united 
strength and fealty on any one of her prominent men so as to 
insure marked success, though she has had her Emmets. O'Con- 
nels. and scores of like statesmen and philanthropists. No 
where, in all the annals of her history have the elements of dis- 
cord more prominently and forcibly exhibited themselves, and 
retarded her nationality, than in the great Fenian movement. 
The yoke of British oppression had become so wincing and bur- 
densome to them, as they for centuries have claimed, as to cul- 
minate in organizations for relief in Ireland — iirst designated 
under the local names of the *" I'homix Society.' 1 " '* Irish Revo- 
lutionary Brotherhood " and " Nationalist:.."" but belter known 
:i» Fi'iiia:^. dcmitiir their name from Fonua or Fietma, an Irish 


military organization in the third century, commanded by Fioim 
or Finn, w ho was slain in battle in A. D. 283 ; and his command 
under his grandson, Osgar, were practically annihilated during a 
civil strife in A. D. 290. 

The Fenian Brotherhood of the United States was founded 
under a charter from the State of New York, for a benevolent 
society in the city of New York, in the year 1857, by Michael 
Doheny, John O'Mahony and Michael Corcoran, subsequently a 
brigadier-general in the Union army. At the same time kin- 
dred organizations in Ireland were developing themselves in 
large proportions under the leadership of James Stephens — the 
funds for their maintenance being sent principally from this 
country. In 1858, Stephens came to this country and repre- 
sented the existence of 35,000 enrolled and disciplined Fenians, 
and solicited further aid. The friends of Ireland were called 
together in New York, and the Brotherhood was fully organized 
under John O'Mahony as President. In 1800 O'Mahony visited 
Ireland, and there found a net work of clubs of the order, which 
met statedly and secretly to drill. He inspected the most- 
important districts, and was present at a meeting of the Fenian 
leaders in Dublin, at which definite plans of action were agreed 
upon. From this meeting the organization received great 
impulse in both countries. 

When the Brotherhood was first organized in New Y> rk City, 
it numbered forty members ; but in 1870. it extended its ranii- 
lications all over the United States, British America and Aus- 
tralia, while in Great Britain it established "circles" wherever 
Irishmen were to be found. They were as completely organized 
and officered as any. soldiery ever was, not in active service. 

In the United States up to 1803, the order was but little 
known or understood. Our citizens saw men assembling by 


night and secretly drilling ; but they were confounded with the 
martial attitude and warlike appearance which then pervaded 
this entire country, and were supposed to be portions of the con- 
tending armies then existing, or in training therefor. 

These circles, especially in the large cities, furnished several 
regiments at the commencement of our civil war, which were 
familiar with military tactics and discipline, and proved to be 
valuable accessions to the Union army. After the first battle of 
. Bull Hun, and the return from service of the 69th X. Y. Re<n- 
ment of National Guards commanded by Col. Corcoran, com- 
posed largely of Fenians, Thomas F. Meagher organized the 
so-called "Irish Brigade" — likewise principally officered and 
filled by Fenians. This step was imitated all over the North, 
and the Fenian element was active in filling the ranks of volun- 
teer regiments composing the Union arm v. 

In 1802, Col. Corcoran was taken prisoner of war, and lodged 
in a Southern prison. After his liberation, his prominent posi- 
tion as a Fenian leader was the means of drawing many of the 
organizations into the Northern army with the ulterior expec- 
tation of using the experience so acquired, in the cause of the 
liberation of their fatherland. 

Early in 1863, T. C. Luby, a prominent Irish leader, came to 
America, and not only visited the prominent " circles " in this 
country, but also entered the Union lines and held meetings at 
the head-quarters of Irish regiments. 

On Nov. 3, 1803, the American Fenian Brotherhood held its 
First National Congress in Chicago — the delegates representing 
15,000 Fenians, above one-half of whom were in the Union 
army. The order was declared to be strictly in accordance with 

our laws — free from partisan politics and differences in religion, 

and declared the Irish people a distinct nationality with James 
Stephens as its leader. The central officers were to elect an 
annual Congress. The State officers were elected by the States, 
and "centers " were elected by " circles." in whom the affairs 
of the organization were entrusted. 

Soon after a newspaper called the " Irish People," began to be 
published in Dublin, growing out of which, was a riot at a pub- 
lic meeting in Dublin, Feb. 23, 1804, from which A. M. Suli- 
vau, a loyalist, was forcibly ejected by the Fenians. This some- • 
what aroused the apprehensions of the British authorities, and 
emboldened the Fenians in their open declarations in both coun- 
tries, of their intentions of liberating Ireland. The uniform 
adherence and sympathy of the Fenians for universal freedom in 
tins country, and especially their active cooperation and patriotic 
zeal, shoulder to shoulder with our own citizens in all the sau- , 
guinary struggles, in all our battles for the suppression of the 
.Rebellion, and their devout and oft repeated attachment to the 
"old flag"— consecrated by the blood of their bravest men as 
well as ours, were frequently referred too, and bound them as 
»-ith grapples of iron to the hearts and sympathies of the union- 
ising people of America. It may well be claimed that but for 
the timely aid of the Fenian organizations in this country, the 
government of our fathers might have been wrested from our 
control and destroyed forever. : 

On the other hand our experience with the British Govern- 
ment was their experience. British neutrality, so loudlv prated 

'-" Bmwh Sl,hi °^- ™* I'"""*! at by the Fenians and sa.Uv 
mvhzed by our people ils a luere slmm> ^..^ ^ ^ 



The palpable insincerity on tlie part of prominent British 
Government officials, including members of her ministry, and a 
large class of the aristocratic party of England and her colonies, 
created apprehensions of danger to the Union cause from South- 
cm recognition and otherwise, and greatly intensified American 
sympathy and favor for the Fenians. As British sham neutrality 
became exposed. Fenianisni grew and kept Britain in check. 
This was particularly noticeable after the Queen's proclamation 
of neutrality, of the 13th of May, 1861, and followed by the 
hasty and precipitate manner of according belligerent rights to 
the rebels, and before England had intelligence of a battle, an 
incident of bad faith almost unknown in the history of neu- 
trality, as known and interpreted by modern civilized nations. 
This was followed on the 8th of November, 1801. by the start- 
ling news of the capture by Commodore Wilkes of Mason and 
Slidell. two accredited agents of the Confederate Government 
for the negotiations of treaties with European powers, on board 
the British mail steamer " Trent," on the high seas. 

The British Government had always claimed the right of 
search, which was denied the United States in this instance. 
The United States Government, 'per contra, had always denied 
that right. Hence Commander Wilkes had, without authority, 
captured these two distinguished insurgents and had made up 
a case " based upon British precedent and authority. At once 
her Majesty's Government made a demand for their release from 
Fort Warren in Boston Harbor, based upon her own rule of 
action " that might makes right." The American Government 
adhered to her own precedents and released them from impris- 

Afterwards, these quasi officials were received by Lord John 
Russell, British Minister of Foreign Affairs, and an interview 
was held on the 4th of May, 1862, whom he afterwards described 
as " the three gentlemen deputed by the Southern Confederacy 
to obtain their recognition as an independent State." On the 
18th of May, 1861, Lord Russell sent, a communication to Lord 
Lynes, British Minister at "Washington, 1). C, instructing him ' 
to take such means as be might judge most expedient, to trans- ^ 
mit a copy of the dispatch to the British consul at Charleston 
or 2sew Orleans, in order that it might be communicated to Mr. 
Jefferson Davis, at Montgomery. This use of the British Lega- 
tion at Washington for such a purpose, was, as Mr. Seward 
afterwards said, an act which the United States would have been 
justified in regarding as an act of war, and the Fenians under- 
stood it. On the 7th of October, 1862, Minister Gladstone said 
in a speech at Newcastle, " we may have our own opinions about 
slavery ; we may be for or against the South ; but there is n» 
doubt that Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the South have 
made an army. They are making, it appears, a navy, and they 
have made what is more than either — they have made a nation. 
(Loud cheers.) We may anticipate with certainty the success of 
the Southern States so far as regards their separation from the 
North. I cannot but -believe that that event is as certain a? any 
event yet future and contingent can be." O, what a prophet 
0, what a Fenian poser ! 

On the 27th of March, 1863, Mr. Laird, the builder of the 
Alabama and other rams, which were seized by our Government, 
said in the British parliament, "I have only to say that I would 
rather be handed down to posterity as the builder of a dozen 
Alabama* than a* the man who applies him>elf deliberately to 


set class against class, and to cry up the institutions of another 
country, which when they come to be tested, are of no value 
whatever, and which reduced liberty to an utter absurdity." 

Afterwards, John Bright, the off-ox in the British team, to 
whom he refered — thus replied, "I shall confine myself to that 
•one vessel, the Alabama. She was built in this country ; all her 
munitions of war were from this country ; almost every man on 
board her was a subject of her Majesty. She sailed from one of 
our chief ports. She is reported to have been built by a firm in 
whom a member of this House was, and I presume is, interested. 
I did not complain that the member from Birkenham (Mr. Laird) 
had struck up a friendship with Captain Semmcs, who may be 
described as another sailor once was of similar pursuits, as being 
•'the mildest mannered man that "ever scuttled ship.' " 

Canada soon became largely imbued with the same spirit of 
unfriendliness, though there were as strong and devoted union 
men on her soil as ever uttered union sentiments. On her terri- 
tory thousands of Southern insurgents, refugees and sympathiz- 
ers congregated together, to menace the Xorthern army and 
Xorthern people, and Fenianism followed. Here the South 
received the fullest measure of sympathy. Here they seem to 
have either infatuated or completely over-awed the local govern- 
ment so that they could make incursions on United States terri- 
tory, where and when they pleased. Here organized the Lake 
Erie and St. Albans raids. I lere originated the conspiracy to bum 
Northern cities and send infected clothing into the United States 
to poison Xorthern aqueducts, and above all, to- assassinate Presi- 
dent Lincoln and his Cabinet. Here Clay and Thompson, Saun- 
ders and Porterfield, Clary and Tucker and their coadjutors, in 
April, 1865, sent forth J. Wilkes Booth, Surratt and Harold, as 


embassadors of death, to murder Lincoln, Johnson, Seward, Stan- 
ton, Grant and Chase, and the British Government declared them 
belligerents. Here, lest my assertions may be questioned, is the 
evidence of it as given in a book entitled " Assassination of Presi- 
dent Lincoln and Trial of the Conspirators," printed in 1805 by 
official sanction. Dr. James 15. Merritt, a Canadian, testified on 
that trial, ''I think I saw the prisoner, 1). C. Harold in Canada. 
Sannders said that Booth was heart and soul in this project of 
assassination, and felt as much as any person could feel, for the- 
reason that he was a cousin to Heal that was hung in New York. 
He said that if they could dispose of Lincoln, it would be an easy 
matter to dispose of Johnson, he was such a drunken sot ; it 
would be an easy matter to dispose of him in some of his drunken 
revelries," and Sannders knew. 

Richard Montgomery testified, "I frequently heard the subject 
of raids upon our frontier and the burning of cities spoken of by 
Thompson, Clay. Clary, Tucker and Saunders. * * Before- 
the St. Albans raid I knew of it." 

San ford Conover testified, "Of the accused who visited these 
persons (in Montreal) I knew John "Wilkes Booth and John H. 
Surratt." Booth I saw but once. That was in the latter part of 
October, 1804. I think I saw him with Saunders and also at 
Thompson's. I saw him principally about St. Lawrence, Hall.'*' 

Henry Finegas testified. «I heard Clay say -I suppose they 
are getting ready for the inauguration of Lincoln, next month/ 
Saunders says, • Yes. if the boys only have luck Lincoln won't 
trouble them much longer.' Clay asked, < Is everything well f 
Saunders replied, • O. yes, Booth is bossing the job.' " On Booth's 
bod> after he wa . >h..t by Boston (Wbett wm . f, mU(l bills of 


exchange drawn by the Ontario Bank of Montreal, proven to have 
been sold to him at Montreal and bearing date October 20, 1804, 
eight days-after the St. Albans raid. 

The writer had personal knowledge of the existence of a large 
Fenian organization inMontreal in October. 1SI!4. and employed 
in behalf of the sufferers by the St. Albans raid, an attorney 
known to many to be the acknowledged leader of the organiza- 
tion in that city. In many seemingly reckless adventures as 
counsel, witness and sufferer among the Southern refugees and 
their friends in that city, in pursuit of justice and the reclamation 
of property, I was always conscious that while the strong arm of 
the British law might be doubtful protection to the person— as it 
was to our property— any personal violence would be visited by a 
speedy retaliation on the part of thousands of Fenians, many of 
whom were congregated at the various legal proceedings eon- 
' nected with that raid, proffering their sympathy and support. 
In 18f>-> Mr. Seward called the attention of the British govern- 
ment to the inadequacy of the English and Canadian statutes to 
preserve neutrality and requested that they might be made more 
stringent. Lord I'almerstou declined, so that Canada in fact had 
. none in force until February, 1805, after the war was nearly over 
and the British •'•'•war in disguise" was nearly done. So defective 
was their statute that a learned judge of one of her majesty's 
supreme courts declared " that a whole fleet of ships of war could 
be driven through the statute." Caleb Cushing wisely remarked 
before -the tribunal of arbitration, " That, a? a matter of fact, a 
whole fleet of ships of war was driven through the statute." as 
was in proof before this tribunal. 

This was in wide contrast with the conduct of the United 
States under- similar circumstances of a rebellion in Canada in 

* . , ! ■ J I i . J. t V 

www* ig^»wju'«mi»»jM 


1837-8. Mr. Fox, the British Minister, to use his own language, 
" solemnly appealed .to the supreme government promptly to 
interpose its sovereign authority for arresting the disorders," and 
inquired "what means it proposed to employ for that purpose." 
Congress immediately passed a neutrality act and President Van 
Bnren issued a neutrality proclamation, and the whole frontier in 
this vicinity was bristling with the bayonets of our volunteers to 
preserve strict neutrality towards our neighbors. 

All these breaches of neutrality and good faith were food upon 
which the Fenians were growing in numbers and strength, and in 
favor with the United States government, because they greatly 
paralyzed the efforts of Great Britain in her attempts to aid the 
South in their schemes of secession. In view of all these enormi- 
ties Lord Stanley made bitter complaint, in regard to the Fenian 
policy of the United States, to which Mr. Seward forcibly replied 
in a dispatch, under date of January 12, 1867. He said, " I do 
not deem it necessary to reply at length to the reflections which 
Lccd Stanley makes upon the conduct of this government in 
regard to the proceedings of the so called Fenians. The Fenian 
moumient neither begins nor ends in the United States ; but tliey 
are nut in* of Great Britain, though some of them have assumed 
naturalization in the United States. This quarrel with Great 
Britain is not an American but a British one, as old— I sincerely 
hope it may not be as lading— as the union of the United King- 
dom. Their aim is not American but British revolution. In 
seeking to make the territory of the United States a base "for the 
organization of a republic in Ireland, and of military and naval 
operations for its establishment there, they allege that they have 
followed. a> au example, precedent* of British subjects in regard 
to our civil war, allowed by her majesty S government." 


Those flagrant breaches of neutrality, and wanton infractions 
of international law and comity, not only inflamed the loyal North, 
but also every Fenian against Great Britain and the South, whose 
cause that government had early espoused. The love of liberty 
which dwelt in the American heart and found a response in the 
patriotic bosom of nearly every Irishman in this country, made 
Americans and Irishmen allies in the suppression of the great 
rebellion, and induced the United States government and people 
to favor the Fenian cause for the purpose of showing to England 
that she too had her elements of discord in her midst, which 
like Hamlet's ghost would appear and trouble its author. It also 
led the Fenians to believe that British precedents of neutrality 
would be followed by the United States government whenever 
occasion presented itself. Hence Great Britain became alarmed 
at the magnitude of the Fenian movement and began to look to 
her own situation, and at the same time assure the United 
States of her extreme friendship diplomatically, which was much 
like the caricature of the fox at the poultry meeting where he 
devoutly rises and says "let us pray." 

Hence the United States did for a time pursue the same lax 
and unfriendly policy which Great Britain hart followed during 
the war. In violation of her laws she too had allowed these armed 
bands to organize on her territory for the avowed purpose of 
operating against England, and with the avowed object of pro- 
ducing " a counter irritant " on the body politic of England, 
and lead her to realize that she too had her intestine foes as well 
as other nations, and that conspiracies and insurrections were 
likely at any time to engage her attention and tax her strength 
and resources. 


Those who intimately knew the' great mind which presided 
over the destinies of onr foreign relations during the darkest days 
of onr rebellion, and guarded as with an Argus eye its difficulties, 
and combinations, make bold in saying that this Fenian move- 
ment was encouraged as a great strategic movement to defeat 
British intervention, which, it is claimed, that nation bad 
promised to the struggling, languishing South. Indeed, Mr. 
Seward wrote Minister Adams at the court of St. James in 186'), 
asking the opinion of the latter, as to the policy of "making up 
a ease " with the Fenians against Great Britain similar to those 
then arising with Great Britain growing out of their neutral 
relations towards the United States during our civil war. with a 
view of realizing compensation from British depredations— direct 
and indirect— upon our navy, territory and people during our war. 
Minister Adams at once replied that such a course would lack the 
element of belligerency — unless that was accorded to the Fenians 
— and then it would be a concession that Britain was right in the 
course she had pursued. For this and other minor things the 
Fenians entertained feelings of profound indignity towards Mr. 

. But who can say, then, that the great army of Fenians then 
menacing Great Britain in all directions was not one of the most 
potent means of quelling the British Lion in his lair, and that it 
led in part to the final triumph of our Northern army? Who 
can doubt, then, that the Fenian cause was a powerful agency in 
collecting our great debt against Great Britain growing out of 
the war? 

In January, 180.). the second Fenian congress met at Cincin- 
nati, when •■' the circles " had increased five fold, and the finan- 
cial receipts exceeded the total of seven previous years, as the 

result of British feigned neutrality towards the United States. 
The middle classes in Ireland were in favor of revolution. The 
termination of war in this country left free those valiant Irish 
officers and soldiers on whom were centered mainly the hopes and 
expectations of the revolutionists.- Disaffections and Fenian 
contagions began to spread among the Irish troops mainly com- 
posing the British army, and large numbers of them secretly 
joined the Fenian organizations. On the 8th of September. 1805, 
Stephens issued a proclamation in which he concludes. "The 
flag of Ireland, of the Irish republic,, must this year be raised," 
and the cry of "Erin go Bragh" was resounded throughout 
the land. 

On the 15th of September. 1805. Jeremiah O. D'Rossa and T. 
0. Lubv were arrested in Dublin and incarcerated. On the next 
dav appeared two proclamations from the viceroy. Lord Wad- 
house, announcing the existence of the brotherhood: suspending 
the writ of fatbetts rorpu* ; offering a reward for the apprehension 
of its members, and declaring martial law in the city and county 
of Cork. Simultaneously many other arrests were made, and 
among them one C. W. O'Connell. an nuh-de-amp of O'Mahony, 
as he landed at Queenstown. npon whom was found papers 
incriminating many persons. Great energy was displayed by the 
British authorities in the dispatch of vessels of war. and in the 
establishment of a cordon of gun boats around the coasts of 
Ireland with its scores of noble harbors and beautiful bays. On 
Xovemher 11. 1805. Stephens, living near Dublin under an 
assumed name, was arrested and committed to prison, and on the 
24th he escaped to France. 

As soon as this intelligence reached the United States, the 
third Fenian Congress was summoned at Philadelphia. During 


its session P. J. Median, editor of the .Irish American, and 
accredited agent of the brotherhood in Ireland, returned and 
reported everything there as " powerful, the management mas- 
terly, and the position solid f and this when the revolutionists 
were utterly hopeless. Thirty States were represented by three 
hundred and fifty circles, with a membership of 14,620. A 
Fenian sisterhood was established, which proved a successful aux- 
iliary in the raising of funds. John Mitchell was released from 
Fortress Monroe by President Johnson, and went to Ireland. 
The prisoners under arrest in Ireland were tried and sentenced to 
prison for twenty years. In the mean time, the rupture between 
O'Mahony and a majority of the Senate, had been gradually 
widening. His party wished to operate in Ireland. The 
senatorial party favored the scheme of an armed expedition in 
Canada, and were afterwards known as "the Canada party." 
Delegates were in attendance from Canada in respectable 
numbers. The characteristic disaffection became still more 
alarming. The excitement of the Irish element in America 
became almost uncontrollable, and O'Mahony was impeached by 
the Senate, and succeeded by Col. Win. R. Roberts of New York. 
While Roberts was preparing to move on Canada, O'Mahony was 
induced to move on Campo Bella. New Brunswick. Some arms 
were sent to East port. Me., and the command of the expedition 
was assumed by Major B. I). Kellian. Large numbers assembled 
at Eastport, but O'Mahony had ordered their guns not to be sent 
from Xew York. General Meade was dispatched by the United 
States authorities to watch their movements and they soon 

On May 10, 1800, Stephens arrived in New York and all hopes 
of extrication from their difference: eenfertd upon him. but he 




found the O'Mahony party urging that all efforts should be 
turned towards helping "the men in the gap" in Ireland. He 
said that all the men wanted in Ireland— numbering hund- 
reds of thousands — was money and cooperation to win their 
independence. Each party bitterly assailed the motives and 
plans of the other. * 

The Eoberts party, under the military direction of Gen. Thomas 
W. Sweney, a late officer of the Union army, was placed in com- 
mand of the Canada expedition about the middle of May. On 
the 19th of May, 1866, twelve hundred stands of arms were seized 
by the revenue officials, at Rouse's Point, N. Y. From the 29th 
to the 31st of May, 1866, bodies of Fenians, from various parts 
of the United States, moved towards Canada. On the morning 
of the 30th of May, the streets of St. Albans were suddenly 
thronged by soldiers in civilain's dress to the number of about 
one thousand. They made a descent upon us like an army in 
Flanders, without previous notice or expectation. They were 
reticent, and said that they had come to St. Albans to look over 
the grounds, and note the events made memorable by the Cana- 
dian rebel raid in 1864. They had been induced to come here 
because they were confident we would mete out to them the same 
kind of neutrality, that Canada had taught and practiced, at the 
time of the St. Albans raid, which had become established law 
throughout the British empire ; and as we usually followed Brit- 
ish precedents, we should not interfere with them in their strug- 
gles for independence. Here was history repeating itself on the 
old grounds, and " chickens coming home to roost/" Here were 
Canadian detectives and spies congregated, and giving us lessons 
on neutrality as found in the Gospel according to Conrsal and in 
the Acts of Young and his banditti — the former afterwards pro- 


;:«„h y ;u i , 1 .,.oi,w« ; . »»••*. *— * 

the Paris Exposition in 1878.. 

The expedition at this point was under command of General 
Swenev and Spear, and their subordinate officer, in attendance 
_,mong whom were several young men who had been com- 
plete* ruined financially by tf^^^ piratical depredations on mer- 
chTO t vessels and their cargoes, under, the British neutrahty 
law as interpreted and administered by such political mhnsters 
,s Kussell and Gladstone, who predicted that there would be no 
lon „er a government of the United States which Great Bntam 
Jdd be bound to respect. Here they met a fellow sympathy 
in the person of Capt. E. Lincoln, who was a sea captam on 
boird the "T. C. Wales" of Boston, Mass., a merchant vessel 
on her wav to Boston, from Calcutta in the East Indies, laden 
*itli leather and products of that country, and whose vessel and 
all its effects were destroyed by fire, by Capt. Semmes of the 
cruiser Alabama, manned in part by British subjects, on the high 
seas. Capt. Lincoln and wife were taken prisoners' of war and 
transferred to the cruiser -his wife giving birth to a child 
before landing at Nassau, a British port aud a rebel rendezvous 
in the West India Islands. Here these men were striving to . 
collect their debt from Great Britain, and to aid us in collecting 
ours. Here the Fenians received a eordial welcome from many 
of the citizens of St. Albans, and especially the Fenian Brother- 
hood, under the leadership of their acting head center, Peter 
Ward, and treasurer John Brown and others. Here many of the 
brotherhood from neighboring towns assembled with alacrity, to 
meet their co-patriots in the cause of Ireland. Here were assem- 
bled the Fenian scouts and spies and all the retinue of secret ser- 


vice. Here one of the spies exhibited to the writer maps of the 
route, and plans of the fortifications and garrisons at St. Johns 
and Montreal, and numerous letters from fellow Fenians in 
various parts of Canada enclosing funds, and entreating them to 
make a stand on Canadian soil, and the brotherhood in Canada 
would rise up en masse and flee to their rescue, striking terror to 
the people and making Canada a free independent Irish Republic. 

One of these letters was from a prominent British officer at St. 
Johns, who advised the informant to let him know the night they 
would be there, when he would be on duty with the right men, and 
surrender the entire fortification into the hands of the Fenians. 
Here dispatches and couriers were going forth towards Canada, 
and nightly the invaders were forwarding their small ordinance 
and muskets, before concealed in the barns and outhouses, and 
secret depositories along the frontier. A portion of -the Fenian 
guard had proceeded through Swantou as far as Highgate, when 
a young lad in great haste, hurried to St. Armand, Canada, and 
gave an exaggerated account of the numbers advancing, to Capt. 
Peter Smith and Surgeon Brigham, in command of the volun- 
teers at that place, and who, as the story goes, and it has never 
been denied — began immediately to fall back on St. Johns, 
about twenty miles distant. These two heroes of a thousand 
"imaginary battles" were the first to lea'd the retreat, and 
each with their panting war-steeds, undertook to make the best 
time in the race. When they reached St. Alexander, the Sur- 
geon was ahead, and took the heat and the race — time wisely 
withheld to prevent the contestants from getting -'a record." 
The doctor, after a diagnosis of the disease, pronounced it "a 
run of cannon fever. " 


bled in respectable numbers the occasion 

„d th, .««tv.i «» 

thi,i»g .■«*, .» ' > f „„ m Ame ,i. 

"""TTtX <-*•<>■ the ta ' orf **- 

C " ''t 1 ' ' a L« Iter. the » of t»e *** 
t y,b„ g h,a„dL»,t.Por ^ rerfj , to 

i„' their h,.nor, a,,d the night P»s«i a, mernlv a 
walgl „„ „ h « „ re „ incd for three 

: ^° or pother ai.ta.t *» »>* - 

; ;^ s *„h, c„„..«, «o **** «» «. -f s ™ 

. l.i.r.e ««, - ** »•* -**• 

'« hat. and high « ™ 

m ;. n ,i„„i„g a. .1... time m to Uv the fo.nd.tio. for . cU.m 
' ,,,1,,.. "the ho»" g..ver«n,,» t of .bout one mill.™ 

.bid. „ ,»>.■ ...»i charged to the United States i,. . *»t »<1 


() n their retreat the following day, their plunder was conspeu- 
ouslv displayed a, trophies of a hard fought battle r,d victory 
won", and the Fenians began to disburse to their homes. Many 
of them were able to defray the expense to their homes, but large 
numbers received aid ami provisions from our' local authorities 
and citizens to prevent depredations, and returned to their home* 


to "fight another day." As Artemas Ward sai d at the grave of 
Shakespeare, « it was a success." 

^ On the 1st of June, 1800, 1200 or 1500 Fenians under Col 
Aeu crossed Niagara river at Buffalo, J*. Y., and took pos^ 
-on o an unoccupied work called Fort Erie, near the spot where 
8.r Allen McNab gave lessons in neutrality in 1838, by going 
-Pen American territory and waters, and firing the Amoia! 
• stealer « Caroline," and then cutting her loose fro m her moor- 
^har^th.M,,^ 0>h . toiT! Thon 
faithful chronicler of the past, how thou repeatest thpelf 

On the 2d, the Fenians were attacked at a place called Lime- 
stone Ridge, and held their position, losing several' killed and 
wounded, and many prisoners. The history of the attack from 
a Canadian standpoint, was given by Lord Monck, Governor- 
General of Canada, to Hon. Edward Cardwell, British Colonian 
Secretary, in an official dispatch dated June 4th, 1800 as 
follows : , ' ' 

"Immediately on the receipt of the intelligence of an inva- 
sion, Major-General Napier pushed on by rail to Chippewa a 
force consisting of artillery and regular troops under Col. Pea- 
cocke, loth regiment. * * * A body of volunteers had come 
npon the Fenian encampment in the bush, and immediately 
attacked them, but were outnumbered and compelled to retire 
on Port Colburn. This occurred sometime on Saturday, June 
M. Col. Peacoeke, in the meantime was advancing in the direc- 
tion of Fort Erie from Chippewa, along the banks of the Xia^ara 
nver, but was not able to reach the former place before night- 
fall." b 

On the 14th of June, Lord Monck thus wrote Mr. Cardwell : 
"From all the information I have received, I am now satisfied 

, 22 
that a very large and comprehensive plan of attack had been 
arranged by the party which is popularly known as the Swency- 
Roberts section of the Fenian brotherhood. The place of inva- 
sion, in addition to the attempt on the Niagara frontier — the 
only one which actually occurred — appears to have embraced 
attacks on the line of the Richelieu and Lake Champlain, and 
also on the frontier in the neighborhood of Prescott and Corn- 
wall, where I have reason to think the principal demonstration 
was intended. 

For the latter object, large bodies of men sent by railroad from 
almost all parts of the United States were assembled at a place 
called Malone, in the State of New York, and at Potsdam, also 
in the State of New York ; and with a view to the former, St 
Albans and its neighborhood in the Shite of Vermont, was selected 
as the place of assemblage. Large supplies of arms, accoutre- 
ments and ammunition were also attempted to be forwarded by 
railroad to those points, but owing to the active interference of 
the authorities of the United States, as soon as it became 
apparent that a breach of international law had been committed 
by those persons, a very large portion of those supplies never 
reached their destination. It is not easy to arrive at a trust- 
worthy estimate of the number of men who actually arrived at 
their different points of rendezvous. It has been reported at 
times that there were at Potsdam, Malone, and the intervening 
country, as many us ten thousand men, and similar rumors have 
been from time to time circulated, of the force at St. Albans,. and 
its neighborhood. From the best opinion I can form, however, 
I shall be inclined to think that the number of Fenians in the 
vicinitj of St. Albans never exceeded two thousand men, and 


that three thousand would bo a f„v ,n„ 

bled at Potsdam Ar , allowance for those assem- 

t Potsda m Ma,o„e. and the surrounding countries . 
lh men have been represented to meas having m ,ny of th 

^ ^ -re decent in LZ P TZ' 

»mmnn,t,«„, and totally destitute of ,11 th, 

an oramiml force ™ ^ ef ' lli I> m ™t S of 

e io.ce. They appeared to have relied v„™ 

-stance from inhabitants of the Province - 1 7 ^ ^ 

qnanhty of spare arms to put into the lnndg ^ 9 ^ 

- whom the, expected to join then! " 

The determination of the Government of the United Sr ♦ > 
-top the transportation of men and supplies t ! e , 

rr** render6d eyen ** ^ - ^ 

: ,i,n : '~' *<• >-» forces which J^en 
-nt-General commanding was able to concentrate ,t e , 1 

-"UK ,u Lnnestone Bulge, amounting to si* killed 
•"1. »» „ a,„„,„, of , oss dther Qr , ( 


Lord Monck left it to the Canadian press to extol the bravery 
and courage of the volunteers, which for days teemed with graphic 
accounts of the adventures of a company called the "Queen's 
Own" of Toronto, and the volunteers generally. 

In September following Roberts summoned a congress at Troy, 
N. Y._, which wa% numerously attended. The case of Col. E. B. 
Lynch and a priest named McMahan who had been taken prison- 
ers at Limestone Ridge, tried and condemned to death while only 
innocently watching the Fenian movements served for a long time 
to keep alive public attention in the United States, and about 
$250,000 were raised by the brotherhood for their cause, and the 
excitement served to increase the numbers and influence of the 
Fenians largely in Canada. Through the good offices of the 
United States government these sentences were finally commuted. 

In December following Stephens renewed his efforts to make 
Ireland the base of operations, and active preparations began. 
A plan to seize the Castle of Chester garrisoned by an Irish Regi- 
ment, was frustrated by the treachery of one Congdon. Killar- 
ney had been chosen as the center of Fenian operations in the 
south, and Capt. O'Conner was intrusted with the command. 
A considerable force of insurgents took refuge in the Galtee hills, 
whence they had been driven by a heavy fall of snow, and a 
general rising took place in Dublin in accordance with the 
orders of their leaders. In all these movements their plans were 
previously made known to the British authorities by recreant 
and disappointed men in the secrets of the Brotherhood. For 
these offenses T. F. Burke and John McCofferty were tried by a 
military commission and condemned to death, and their sentences 
were afterwards commuted to penal servitude for life. J. Boyle 
O'Reilly, since chief editor of the Boston Pilot, was banished to 


• - - 1 : z r:? putiins 001 - - * 

mrce uajs sail saw a Unifprl <5f.^ 
merchant vessel heave in sight und hn.V • 

«ame to St. Albans in 1870 -m f1 fi , De 

About this time the president of the United SMf 

Fenuns. Stephens had been relieved of the management of thl 

organization and the future direction of the Fen 

intrusted to a committee until the fifth r ^ 

York in February i S f7 i ^ in ^ 

one A A GrT " ^ b ' 

one a. A. Gnfhn was constituted. 

, T °7t ° f ^ ^ a second invasion of Canada 

began to be agitated. Large bodies of men were seen driH 
Detroit and Buffalo, and recruiting became act 7 " " 
inrl St ATi , b ecame dct " e and successful, 

- St. A bans and Ogdensburgh were spoken of as deposits o 
2 77r d *™oranl e J 

York , lth llve thomani fiye ]iun(lred st;indg ^ ^ three 

^"^ tJ ~ d ^lion, rounds of 

-all a milllltl on, a supplv of artillery amunition, and thirty-nine 
officers of every grade of infantry, cavalry, artillery and engineer, 

mgs. Several of the officers set ashore were captured, but the 
military stores were brought back to New York. 


In June, 1867, a convention of delegates in Manchester, 
England, elected Thomas J. Kelley central executive of the Irish 
republic. This did not meet the approval of the revolutionists. 
Thus arose in the home organization a division similiar to that 
which paralyzed the Fenian brotherhood in America. The sixth 
national congress elected John Savage as chief executive. On tho 
night of September 13, the police of Manchester undertook to 
arrest four suspicious men ; two escaped and the others proved to 
be Col. Thomas J. Kelley and Capt. Deasy. On the 18th the 
van in which they were conducted was attacked and the prisoners 
were released, Sergeant Britt in charge of the van being killed. 
Subsequently five persons Allen, O'Brian, Larkin, Maguire and 
Condon were tried in Manchester and condemned to death though 
protesting their innocence. The three first were executed and 
the two last reprieved. A reign of terror pervaded throughout 
the United Kingdom and Canada, and riotous assemblages- 
became frequent and troublesome. On the llth of March, 1867, 
the Duke of Edinburgh was dangerously wounded by a supposed 
Fenian. On the 7th of April, 1867, Thomas Darcy McGee, a. 
member of the Canadian Ministry, was killed at Ottawa in thfr 
public streets, his opposition to Fenianism being the motive foi 
the deed. About this time Queen Victoria was assaulted by a, 
supposed Fenian with a revolver. 

These unfortunate events so wrought on the public mind m 
England that Michael Barrett was executed May 20, 1867, and 
British activity begun to show itself. Things remained compara- 
tively quiet until tho spring of 1870, when the senatorial party of 
the Brotherhood on the 24th of May, assembled another expedi- 
tion on the Canadian frontier. 

77 r -i.-.ywNmi 

On the 25th of May, 1870, the Fenians under General O'Neil, 
to the number of about two thousand in and about the expedition,' 
attempted to effect a lodgement near Pigeon Hill, Canada, near 
the scone of their first incursion in 18C«. Many hundreds of 
them were in and about St. Albans the day before, while at 
Malone and other points farther west on the borders they wcro 
forming large gatherings, with the evident intention of making a 
simultaneous attack upon Canada at many different points on the 

The massing of Fenians commenced on Monday, May 23, when 
crowds arrived at St. Albans, Trout Kiver, Malone and all' along 
the frontier as far west as St, Paul, Minnesota. Telegrams from 
nearly all the principal northern cities indicated remarkable 
activity among the Fenians and also announced their departure 
to parts unknown. On the 23d of May, 1870, the last train from 
Burlington to St. Albans at night brought to St. Albans a com- 
pany of forty-four men from that place. « They soon formed in 
military order in the depot, and marched easterly towards Fair- 
field, much to the surprise of our citizens, as the uninitiated had 
no inkling of any special activity in this vicinity. The morning 
train of the 24th from the south brought about one hundred and 
twenty men from Burlington and Port Henry, K Y., a part of 
whom started immediately in squads towards Fairfield, behaving 
well and paying their bills. They breakfasted among the farmers. 
The rest tarried a while in St. Albans and soon started towards 
Sheldon. Some of them had small bundles slang across their 
shoulders in the form of haversacks, containing provisions and 
clothing. Those going towards Fairfield took arms from the out 
buildings of a Fenian about two miles from St. Albans, and 
others deferred equipping themselves with the expectation of 


getting some arms nearer the lines, During the night the move- 
ment of supplies was active. Men and teams were actively 
engaged in the eastern towns in Franklin County, in transporting 
arms and supplies from where they were concealed towards the 
lines. Eight loads were seen passing through Westford towards 
the north. In the afternoon seventeen loaded teams were seen 
on the east of Fairfield Pond, and under the cover of darkness 
they moved northward. The number of teams thus loaded were 
variously estimated from seventy to eighty-five. Early on the 
morning of the 24th several pieces of artillery, together with 
several wagon loads of war-like materials, passed through the • 
easterly part of St. Albans ; among them were said to be four 
breech loading Parrott guns with three wagons of ammunition, 
en route for the future seat of war. Several other pieces of light 
artillery were seen between Fairfield and Hubbard's Corner in 

Appearances readily indicated preparations for about five 
thousand men, and if a sudden movement had been made at that 
time, immense damage would have been done to the Canadian 
government and people, and a probable stand would have been 
made on Canadian soil. The following morning large numbers 
™>d by 1,-ain from Troy, X. Y. , accompanied bv Major Moore. 
J»d from points heyond White River Junction, Vt., debarking 
rom the cars at various points between Essex Junction and St. 
Alban,, principally at the latter place. The most, of then, were . 
™n of nnlitary skill and exper . eiMe _ thpm ^ capt 

" LOm>1 ' g;in ° f Kington, Vt., well known in this vicinity 
courageous and brave Union officer. 

General 0^1 debarked from the cars at Georgia depot, on the 
mgl't of the 24th of Af 'iv t 

■.-">», and proceeded incog, by private con- 


veyance to Frankhn, whcre ho ^ ^ 
H» Presence was only known to the leaders at first. This wis 
done to evade the United State, authorities and surprise t o 
enemy. 1 

Our government was f l% informe(1 of fto & 
and t ere, good authority for saying that officers dclej^ 

Wash.ngton, D. C., to delay mak i„ g arrosts nnffl ^ 
imperative necessity for it. 

On Wednesday the 25th, the day of the battle, there was a 
genera ra„y of our citizens from St. Alhans and surrounding 
. ^towns ^towardsthe -front," among them invited guests, reporter! 
and strange ready to witness the battle. The press, ever on 
*e alert for news, was represented by correspondents of the New 
York HeraU and Tribune, Boston J ournal , Adver[iser ^ 
Transit, the Eutland HeraU and St. A.bans Metier 
Great caution was exercised to keep a respectful distance from 
the held when the firing began, as they were somewhat careless 
about putting bullets in their guns on both sides. 

The movement of the Canadian authorities had been remark 
ably active. Their volunteers were called out on Tuesday the 
24th of May, and Capt. Muirs cavalry left .Montreal at seven 
o'clock that evening. On the morning of the 25th. at five o'clock 
a special train with the first battalion Prince ffifle Brigade' 
under command of Lord A. Russell, with the Boval IIi„hne» 
Prince Arthur on the staff, left Bonaventure station. Montreal 
« route for St. Johns, where volunteers had preceded them, to 
be there posted as Gen. Lindsley might see proper. They 
numbered seven hundred strong. Col. Smith with a detachment 
of troops having arrived at Stanbridge-about eight miles from 


the border— late on the previous night, left early in the morning 
accompanied by Lieut. -Ool. Chamberlain's corps for Cook's 
Corners, the old camping ground at the first Fenian raid. When 
they arrived at this place they found already before them the 
"Home Guards "of Dunham, commanded by Capt. Westover. 
Gen. Lindsley disposed of the balance of the forces, volunteers 
and regulars, at other points along the Huntington borders. 

On the morning of the 25th, the Fenians were quartered in 
large numbers about Franklin Center, a short distance from the 
border and on the road leading thence to Cook's Corners, on the 
Canadian side. They had scattered their cases of arms and 
ammunition, which were being opened and distributed among the 
men. It is estimated that at this point the Fenians numbered 
about two thousand strong, and had arms for about two thousand 
more. Gen. O'Neil with Gen. Donelly, his chief of staff. Cols. 
Brown and Sulivan, and Capt. Lonergan spent a part of the 
night at Franklin Center, and early in the morning proceeded 
with the advance towards the line. 

As the Fenians were approaching the lines, Gen. Geo. P. 
Foster, United States Marshal, received a dispatch ordering the 
arrest of the leaders. Before doing so ho remonstrated with 
them to dissuade them from advancing. They disregarded tho 
proclamation of President Grant, which had then been issued, 
and Gen. Foster crossed the lines and informed Col. Smith that 
he had no troops at hand to prevent the Fenians from crossing, 
and the Canadians prepared at once for the onslaught.' Tho 
"Home Guards" had been in position on the hill-side, about 
five hundred yards from the boundary line, since the night of the 
24th, where in the morning they were joined by a portion of tho 
forces under Col. Smith and Lieut.-Col. Chamberlain, and at 


^ther near points there were a mple reserves in waiting," readv to 
advance on an hour's notice. ' 

The position of the Canadians was almost impregnab,e-tho 

wh lc h they proved by throwing up rifle pit., Thev fought 

afet, to themselves, and some lass to the Fenian, Before noon 
the Fen la n S marched onward. OTTcfl was, or professed to have 
been, m hi g h spirit , ^ ^ rf ^ ^ 

rods south of the border line, was chosen as the place from which 
to vmw the « attle. The Fenians came down by Eichards' house 
and passed a]ong the road fo ^ ^ 

eight rods north of the Canada line is a gully through which 
runs a small brook, named in some of the accounts "Chick-a- 
B^ddy," over which the road is bridged and beyond which are 
the heights that were occupied by the Canadians. From Richards' 
house to the Canadian position was only about a quarter of a 

The American accounts as given by eye witnesses from an 
American standpoint, are that at eleven o'clock, Gen. Geo. P. 
Poster, United States marshal for Vermont, arrived and caused 
the road, which the Fenians had rendered impassable for somo 
time, to be opened. Almost immediately orders were given 
to fall in and the march began. In about a hundred rods of the 
hne, orders were given to load, and this being done the march 
was resumed. Very soon the red coats of the Canadians were 
seen skirting the edge of the woods on the side-hill to the left 
°f the road, and when the Fenians arrived near the brick house 
of Alvah Eichards they halted and Gen. 0*Neil made a speech. 

1 w i sM i mmuM i i . i mi i g . M i « i....i | p ju mm—! 


A' newspaper reporter stood by his side and took it down as 
follows : 

" Soldiers .-—This is the advance guard of the Irish American 
army for the liberation of Ireland from the yoke of the oppressor. 
For your own country you now enter that of the enemy. The 
eyes of your countrymen are upon you. Forward, march !" 

The advanced position having been assigned to Capt. Wm. 
Cronan's Burlington Company, he stepped forward and addressed 
(Jen. O'STeil as follows : 

"General:— I am proud that Vermont has the honor of leading 
this advance. Ireland may depend upon us to do our duty." 

Col. Brown, with a musket in his hands, then addressed that 
company and said "that he had been honored with the command 
of the skirmish line. He knew the men were brave and all he 
asked of them was to keep cool and obey orders." 
' The advance was then resumed by the flank in the road, and 
just as Capt Cronan's company passed "Eiohards' house," and 
were descending the little hill towards the line, which was about 
ten rods distant, and a skirmish line was being formed, the fight 
commenced by the Canadians opening a sharp volley from their 
concealed positions, and much nearer than the Fenians had 
supposed. Capt, Cronan's men immediately faced to the left 
and returned the fire. Gen. O'Xeil was just in the rear, partially 
sheltered by the house, but he immediately took an exposed posi- 
tion and began to survey the position of the enemy through his 
opera glass. 

The two companies that were following became excited, and 
™«ld have continued so, hut their officers were cool, and in an 
instant the men became so, and moved forward in good order 
to the hillside on the left. The firing became general on both 


sides and continued for about an hour If 
Oronan crossed the line and then marched ^ ^ 
drcle, back again and to a more advant " aSOmN 

farther to the left ^vantageous position, a little 

less congenial than "the brick » thi- r > S 

p-^ n , sof the battle ^ . informatio > 

Henee Ishall be compelled to give the father proceedings of 

I tl T a ^ aCC ° Unt -da picture of the 

battle ground and the arrest of OWeil, given b y an artist of the 

Canaan Illustrated M W8 , "taken on the spot" as usual. He 
says the Fenians beginning to retreat after the first few volley. 
Gen. O^eilturned to rally them by the following speech, wind,' 
give, though it has never been produced in any American 
report of the battle : 

• "Men of Ireland .-I am ashamed of you. You have acted 
^gracefully, but y 0U wi H have another cWe of 
Aether you are cravens or not. Comrades, we must not, we darl 
not, go back now with the stain of cowardice on us. Comrades, I 
Will lead you again, and if you will not follow me, I will go with 
' ay officers and die in your front. I leave you now under com- 
mand of Boyle O'Reilly." 

^About this time the accounts agree that Gen. O'Neil, under 
° mistak en apprehension that he was Gen. Donelly, as he was 
» e ar "Richards' house/' was arrested by Gen. Foster, United 
■ ta 'es marshal, and his deputy, Thomas Failey, who by a grand 


coup de main thrust the General into a close carriage in readiness, * 
amidst the Fenian forces and flying bullets, and drove for some 
distance through numbers of approaching Fenians who little 
suspected that their chief was being carried from the field under 

When Gen. Foster first made his appearance within the Fenian 
lines he was ordered to halt, and after announcing his official , 
character, was placed under arrest and conducted to the Fenian 
headquarters, where he had an interview with Gen. O'Neil under 
the mistaken apprehension that it was Gen. Donelly whom he 
was addressing, and in total ignorance as he says that Gen. O'Neil 
was there present. He then entered the Canadian lines and was 
there again placed under arrest by the guard and conducted into 
the presence of the officer of the day, who proved to be the chival- \ 
rous.Capt. Peter Smith with whom he was acquainted and by I 
whom he was conducted to Col. Smith , in command. He then 
informed the Canadians that he had been taken by surprise as to 
the Fenian movements and was without any warrants for their 
arrest, and was powerless to prevent the Fenian advance, and 

soon returned to the Fenian headquarters. Gen. Foster says 

that he never knew his prisoner was Gen. O'Neil until they had ^ 

proceeded some distance towards St. Albans, when Gen. O'Neil 

made known the fact to him. These facts were obtained from 

Gen. Foster personally, shortly before his death. 
Gen. Foster then told Gen. O'Neil that if he offered any 

resistance he might be shot, and he was hastily driven to St. 

Albans without warrant for his arrest and detention. 

The Canadian accounts state that O'Reilly made another 

advance of the Fenians, and a straggling fire kept up for a time; 

but few casualties of a serious character occurred to the Fenians, 


harmless fire. ■ 111110 At Pt »P a bnsk and 

} G ° n ' D ° nel ' V Was in command a short ♦ ■ , 

j engagement after » arrest bt ^ ^ 

' / Hence O'Reillv must have h Z W ° Ullded - 

4 re8Ult ° f th ° w» as follows : Killed John T? ' 

Monah, >,. \. Wounded, Gen. J. S. Donellv of U tie , ^ y 

}' - conn., U, rongl , * J ft ^ 

1 th ? T ^ Same ^ W *"■«■* wounded in 

J »e gro.n ; E. Cronan of Bridgeport, Conn., in the ]eg . James 

Heenan of Fort Edwurd, A, Y., 8nkle ; Edward HaUah^ of Co 
C 1st Fen.n Cavalry, in the arm ; Private Chartes Carleton of 
Cambndge, Vt ' fl " h on the leg; Daniel Ahem of 

WmoosK Vt, bad wound in the hip; and another man, name 

• -Wn. The componic, of Capt. Flt^triek and Conor, of 

, Bridgeport, Conn., suffered the greatest loss. 

A Fenian council of war was held on the night of the 25th and 
afterwards it was alleged that the demoralized effect of the arrest 
<* Gen. O'Xeil and the rigid enforcement of the president's 
proclamation both conspired to dishearten the leaders and the 
leaders and the council decided to abandon the campaign. Thia 
Proved to be a mere ruse to divert attention. 

The manner of Gen. O'Xcifr arrest was immediately tele- 
graphed to President Grant who pronounced it, under the circum- 


stances, "one of the most ludicrous things he ever knew," as did 
many others, but they were unmindful of the fact that the 
supremacy of the law, after four years of fighting, had been so 
established even in the hands of a United States marshal, as to 
make it more potent than a Samson unshorn of his locks among 
the Philistines. 

- The Fenian Gen. Spear, in command of a like expedition at 
St. Albans in the raid of 1866, with Gen. Gleason, arrived in 
St. Albans at noon of the 26th, and urged the leaders to go to 
Malone and make an attack in the direction of Trout River. In 
the evening they held another council of war, at which Gen. 
Spear, was chosen commander-in-chief with some dissenting 
votes, and they started for Malone. Just before leaving Gen. 
; Gleason received a dispatch from Gen. O'Neil, in jail at Burling- 
ton, to the effect that he expected to be released on bail the 
. following day, and expressing a wish that Gen. Spear be placed 
.in command at St. Albans and Gen. Gleason at Malone, and that 
he (Gleason) had just received a private dispatch from Col. 
Leary, private secretary of the Fenian Council at New York, to 
the effect that large numbers of Fenians were being rapidly 
hurried to Malone. 

Thus ended " the battle-of Eichards' farm," fought hi Frank- 
lin, in the State of Vermont, where the killed and wounded were 
. shot by the British firing across the lines upon the territory of 
the United States. The place and circumstances of these tres- 
passes upon our territory will ere long give this battle a promi- 
nence in history which but few can realize. The Canadian 
accounts all presuppose that the battle was fought in Canada' 
which lias been accepted as the truth, and no international 
-differences or correspondence have arisen. But the real facts 


are that all of the British accounts speak of "the battle of 
Richards' farm," which lies entirely within the territory of the 
United States, and the offense so far as the United States 
are concerned is as great as if they had planted "a seigc gun " 
on the Canadian borders, under the circumstances, and fired 
upon the approaching Fenians, two miles away in Vermont. 

The Canadians buried the body of the young Fenian, Rowe, 
upon whom was found a belt of one of the Bnrlington Fire 
Companies. He was buried under about two feet of soil, 
dressed, as he was, in his Fenian uniform, and with his pocket 
handkerchief spread across his face. About his grave the 
Canadians piled "a cairn," or heap of stones, fearing doubtless 
that the spirit of this young man might take wings and bring 
forth ghosts, or his ashes, like those of Xapoleon at St. Helena, 
might bring forth crops of soldiers and again revive the Fenian 
cause. On Tuesday following Deputy Marshal Smaller crossed 
the lines and asked Col. Smith for permission to remove Rowe's 
body, who replied that it would be given up to the friends of the 
deceased, but. that no Fenian should be permitted to cross over 
for it. A short time thereafter an undertaker from St. Albans 
exhumed the body, placed the same in a coffin and earned it to 
St. Albans en route for Burlington for interment. 

A Canadian Irish poet closed some verses on this battle aa 
follows : 

" The bloody day at length was done, 
The Faynians wanted dinner, 
So o'er the line they bravely run 
Beneath their waving banner. 

" The mane Canadian crew were sold, 
They darstn't follow after, 
But kept their drooping spirits up 
Wid raising shouts of laughter. 



'■ O'Xeil's campaign so bravely fought 
Was gloriously inded, 
The I. R. A. their courage proved, 
Their pathriot cause defended. 
•' And the Faynian bhoys, wid little noise, 
Retreated from the front, 
As brave O'Xiel, through prison bars, 
Saw Burlington, Vermont." 

As the Fenians left the battle ground they sold their arms, or 
cast them away by the roadside, and elsewhere, where they were 
seized by United States Deputy Marshal N. B. Flanagan, in 
behalf of the United States government. Their retreat was 
covered by the tiring of a breech loading steel gun, about fifty 
yards west of « Richards' farm," at about six o'clock P. 51., which 
"was taken by some boys after the Fenians had abandoned it and 
drawn across the lines and sold to the Canadians, and which 
they clauned to have captured from the Fenians, and over which 
was displayed the usual British "bluster." During the after- 
noon and night of the battle and the morning of the 26th, the 
retreat on St. Albans continued, and that village was again the 
theater of military display and disappointed hopes. Many of 
the Fenians were again without food or the means of transporta- 
tion. The former they must have, but the latter they could 
forego. Our citizens and authorities again gave them food and 
shelter, and the necessary means of transportation to their 
homes. Several of the order were taken prisoners even, aB 
alleged, on Vermont soil, and were lodged in jail at Sweetsburgh, 
Canada ; among them Thomas Murphy of St. Albans, James 
Hunt and Patrick Melnally, who, by the intervention of friends 
and the aid of the United States government, were released, 
much dissatisfied with Canadian public boarding houses, kept 
on "the European plan," 


The excitement attending the movement of the battle, and 
during the following summer and winter, was very great along 
our Canadian frontier, and throughout the Provinces of Canada, 
intensified no doubt by frequent anonymous dispatches from the 
newspaper reporters of St. Albans, who, like the immortal 
Washington, after he had plied that historical hatchet to the 
felling of that memorable tree in his father's orchard, " could not 
tell a lie." Xevertheless, "history" here "sleeps while fiction 
speaks," and the louder she speaks the more she is applauded. 
These reporters were possessed of the Fenian secrets and a good 
deal more, and frequently delighted, in the extreme exuberance 
of their nature, in writing, by way of retaliation, inflama'tory 
letters for the purpose, as the youth said when he tipped over 
the bee-hive, of "stirring up the inmates." 

freiierals Meade and McDowell and their staff officers were in 
St. Albans on the 28th of May, and left for Maloue on the same 
day, looking after violations of the neutrality laws. About this 
time the battle of Trout River was fought, resulting in a repulse 
of the Fenians. These two battles were said to have been mere 
feints to draw the Canadian forces in those directions, and 
permit the main force of the Fenian army, said to have been 
about twenty thousand strong, as indicated by the number of 
guns distributed in the vicinity, to rendezvous at Ogdensburgh 
by steamer, rail and otherwise, then cross the St. Lawrence river 
and proceed thence by the Ottawa railroad to the capital of 
Canada, cutting olf all communication by rail after them. The 
main body did not come to time, probably by reason of the 
Stephens-O'Maliony disaffection, the result showing that "the 
best made plans of mice and men gang oft aglee.'' 


A summary of this whole affair may bo best illustrated by the 
criticism of the Irish hunter. Shooting a bird from a lofty tree 
it came tumbling down upon the rocks beneath. Kunning to 
him the hunter exclaimed, "0, fool that I was to waste mo 
powder, the fall itself would have killed him." So of the 
Fenian movement— their divisions alone would have killed them. 

To appease the wrath of Great Britain, no doubt, Col. John 
H. Brown, Capt. John J. Monehan, Hugh McGinnis, Capt. 
Daniel Murphy and Gens. O'jSTeil and Donelly were arrainged 
before United States Commissioners Jasper Eand and Jacob 
Smaller, and held for trial. Gen. O'Neil and Capt. Brown were 
tried in the United States court of Vermont for breaches of 
neutrality laws, and seutenced to the Vermont State prison at 
Windsor, Vermont, whence, after formally serving out a short 
term, they were pardoned by President Grant. Many of bur 
countrymen would sooner have seen the tongue cleave to the 
roof of the mouth of any judge, though in the discharge of his 
lawful duty, than to have had him pronounce sentence on these 
brave union soldiers, one of whom was the only man who success- 
fully foiled and captured the terror of the northern army during 
the war— the guerrilla, General Mosby. Others would sooner 
have seen Great Britain first punish one of her own offenders— 
which she never did, though equally culpable— before yielding 
to her demands for vengeance "towards a home-leaving, liberty- 
loving and liberty-saving people ! 

Irish weakness has always been England's strength. Irish 
characteristic disaffection has always been her weakness. Had 
the two wings of this great organization worked together in the 
true spirit of conciliation, and moved their entire forces upon 
Canada, striking hands with their numerous friends and sympa- 


thizers in the Provinces, the world might have seen the green 
flag of Ireland waving in triumph over a free, independent Irish 

Their genial wit and humor ; their proverhial eloquence and 
oratory ; their natural heroism and bravery, and their intellectual 
power and enlightenment, should have disclosed to them their 
only element of weakness, and given them a higher and more 
independent nationality. On the other hand, this great move- 
ment served only to fill the ranks of the Union army ; to expose 
to the wor hi England's sham neutrality ; to create disaffection 
and alarm on British territory; to engage her attention and 
resources in suppressing her own internal quarrels, and thereby 
to prevent her recognition of the so called Southern Confederacy, 
and above all to contribute towards preserving the government 
of our fathers— wrested from the grasp of a common adversary 
and preserved in its integrity by the patriotic blood and heroic 
lives of brave and devoted Irishmen hand in hand with our 
own countrymen in a thousand hard fought tattles. They too 
stood with our own coimtrymen as sentinels on "the watch 
towers" of our Republic' in the midst of wars deadly bla>ts. and 
saw "the star of peace" rise in all its effulgence over a free, 
emancipated people. From the battle of Bull Run to toe 
surrender of Richmond these brave men were taught lessons o 
freedom, equality and liberty. While they could enjoy the*- 
blessings under our beni,n» government, they naturally looked to 
their fatherland and its oppressed inhabitants with a yeammg 
heart brim full of sympathy and compassion. 

Thev expected that the American heart would at least respond 
in gratitude ... then- call for swnpathy and noo-intencnt.on and 
it did to „ ,reat extent. On the STth of March. ISO., <«,.. 


Banks, in the National House of Representatives, from the 
Committee on Foreign Affairs, submitted the following, which 
was adopted : 

Resolved, That this House extends its sympathy to the people 
of Ireland and Canada in all their just efforts to maintain the 
independence of states, to derate the people, and to extend" and 
perpetuate the principles of liberty." 

Mr. Seward also wrote Minister Adams on the 28th of March, 
1867, "I assume it to be possible that some where and at some 
time a seditious party in Ireland may proclaim an organized 
insurrection, with a show of delegated authority from some 
portions of the Irish people. Such a proceeding is intensely 
expected by many citizens of the United States. That expecta- 
tion excites a profound sympathy among adopted citizens of Irish 
birth and their descendants. It is equally manifest that the 
sympathy of the whole American people goes with such move- 
ments, for the reason that there is a habitual jealousy of British 
proximity across oar northern border, and especially for the 
reason that this nation indulges a profound sense that it sustained 
great injury from the sympathy extended in Great Britain to the 
rebels during our civil war." Here is an open and avowed 
intimation that if union and harmony had existed among the 
Fenians, and thereby a proper stand had been made on Canadian 
soil, and an open and fair battle and victory won on that soil, the 
United States might have accorded belligerent rights to the so 

called Irish Republic. 

But, on the contrary, their divided ranks— their misconceived 
ideas of liberating Ireland on Irish soil, with the imperial power 
of the British army and navy almost surrounding them, as 
Webster once said, ""Whose morning drum beat, commencing 


with the sun and keeping company with the revolving hours, 
surrounds the whole earth with one continuous strain of the 
martial air of England," and above all the demoralized situation 
of our own country and the exhausted condition of our resources 
and people, wisely prevented such a recognition at that time. 
As it is, the territory of our free country, vast in extent and 
resources, is thrown open to every emigrant. Our institutions 
welcome every nationality, and our natural gateways are thrown 
wide open to receive all who come within them, with all our 
national and social privilege and immunities. 
0, blessed country ! 

" There 's freedom at thy gates, and rest 
For earth's down trodden and oppressed; 
A shelter for the hunted head, 

And for the starved laborer — toil and bread." •