Canada General Service Medal 1866-70

Pte D Johnson 16th Batallion

Pte D Johnson
16th Batallion – Fenian Raid 1866

Approval for the medal to be issued to Imperial and Canadian forces was given in January 1899 for those who had taken part in the suppression of the Fenian Raids and Riels’ First Rebellion. 3 Bars attributable and the medal is always issued with a bar. They were: Fenian Raid 1866, Fenian Raid 1870 and Red River 1870.

Fenian Raid 1866 – Fenians was the name given to the old Irish National Militia which took the title of “Brotherhood” The Fenian Oath was “I promise by the divine law of God to do all in my power to obey the laws of the Fenian Brotherhood and to free and regenerate Ireland from the Yoke of England. So help me God.”

With a large following in the US and many Civil War veterans at hand, On 31st May 1866 Colonel John O’Neill crossed the Niagara River intent on an invasion of Canada and defeated Canadian troops at the battle of Ridgeway on 1st June. This was short lived as when news of a large force of Canadian volunteers was approaching, many of the Fenians deserted and retreated back to the US. On 3rd June the remaining Fenians surrendered . Further actions were present at Fort Erie and St Armand after which the remaining Fenians disbursed and all was again quite until 1870.

Battle of Ridgeway

Battle of Ridgeway

Henry James Kenyon St Hyacinthe Vol Bn

Henry James Kenyon
St Hyacinthe Vol Bn – Fenian Raid 1870

Fenian Raid 1870 – On 26th May 1870 O’Neill crossed the border again near Franklin, Vermont however this incursion was quickly quelled by Canadian forces. O’Neill was captured by the US Authorities on his return. On his release, he instigated one further incursion in Manitoba but did not participate and was arrested again by US authorities.

Battle of Eccles Hill

Partisans and government scouts spotted the invaders almost immediately. A force of militia (amongst which was Queen Victoria’s son and a future Governor General of Canada, Prince Arthur awaiting the Fenians at Eccles Hill put up resistance, resulting in firefights and skirmishing. Lieutenant-Colonel William Smith hurried to the field with a battalion of volunteer cavalry and charged the Fenian positions. The Fenians fled, leaving behind their artillery and their dead. The Canadians sustained no casualties during the engagement because of the information supplied by Thomas Billis Beach, a double agent working against the Fenians from within their own organization.

Battle of Eccles Hill

Battle of Eccles Hill

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