Research The Canadian Problem

Lubliner

2nd Lieutenant
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Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
I would like to begin a discussion on the U. S. diplomacy used for mediation with Canada. It appears Canada was a 'seeding ground' for conspiracies and plots to terrorize the northern cities. I had already heard of the burning of some New England towns during the war, plots that had come to fruition in Canada. Recently I found some references to activities in the Great Lakes region during the winter of 1863-1864 when the rivers were frozen up and making possible some raids. I will give these reference reports with their sources for members that are interested in knowing more about the Canadian problems.

I know very little about our diplomatic policy regarding Canada, and whether it was also a France/England problem to resolve also. Any discussion about ambassadors and policies the U. S. sought during the war is welcome, including thoughtful opinions about the quality or goals being used politically. Of course it is always a boon for the student when these discussions are backed up with source points for further reference and reliability.
Here is the problem that was reported in January of 1864 and Major General Joseph Hooker's response, including some reports by others. I do not know how it was finally resolved, hence this desire to learn.

The first report was on December 3 to Capt. Potter from Lieutenant Colonel B. H. Hill, stated extensive preparations were being made in Canada for burning cities on the lakes, and others; that Greek fire was being prepared in Windsor, and Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit were to be the targets, along with armed attempts to rob and plunder. Cincinnati and Louisville were also threatened with burning;
“I am also informed that by some means a large number of rebel soldiers have been introduced into Canada; some, it is said, have been furloughed, and have made their way through the lines.”
[O. R. Series 1, Volume 45, Part 2, page 82-83].

On December 5, 1864 Lieutenant Colonel B. H. Hill notified Brig. General James Fry, the Provost Marshal about the plot and the increased number of rebels in Canada, saying;
“Colonel Butler’s regiment of Kentucky rebel troops had been disbanded in Kentucky, with directions to make their way through the lines and report in Canada, and that they had done so in large numbers, and that Colonel Butler himself has arrived in Canada….I beg also to recommend that the attention of the Honorable Secretary Of State be called to this subject, with a view of presenting it to the Canadian authorities.”
[Ibid., page 69-70].

Major-General Joseph Hooker commanding that District reported this to Brig. General E. D. Townsend, the Assistant Adjutant-General of the Army in Washington, on December 6. He also communicated with Governor Brough of Ohio on December 3 about the plot for plunder and burning cities from rebels in Canada, and threatened retaliation;
“I need not tell you, Governor, that if anything of this sort is attempted I intend that somebody shall be hurt before it is over, if I have to go into Canada to do it. If the Canadian authorities allow our enemies to enter the territory to organize for hostile purposes, I shall exercise the same right, and if exception is taken it can be arranged afterward by negotiation. I am determined that security and tranquility shall prevail along the border while I exercise command of this department.”
[Ibid., page42-43].

The Provost Marshal for the city of Columbus, Ohio, John W. Skiles, wrote to Captain C. H. Potter, an Assistant Adjutant-General in Cincinnati on December 7, 1864 about the need for a guard on an important bridge along the Columbus and Piqua Railroad, saying;
“….Mr. Clement, superintendent of Little Miami Railroad, had informed the railroad authorities here that this band [of confederates] was organized for the destruction of bridges on all roads in Ohio; he did not give any other information.”
[Ibid., page 95].

Thanks,
Lubliner.
 

Belfoured

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
I would like to begin a discussion on the U. S. diplomacy used for mediation with Canada. It appears Canada was a 'seeding ground' for conspiracies and plots to terrorize the northern cities. I had already heard of the burning of some New England towns during the war, plots that had come to fruition in Canada. Recently I found some references to activities in the Great Lakes region during the winter of 1863-1864 when the rivers were frozen up and making possible some raids. I will give these reference reports with their sources for members that are interested in knowing more about the Canadian problems.

I know very little about our diplomatic policy regarding Canada, and whether it was also a France/England problem to resolve also. Any discussion about ambassadors and policies the U. S. sought during the war is welcome, including thoughtful opinions about the quality or goals being used politically. Of course it is always a boon for the student when these discussions are backed up with source points for further reference and reliability.
Here is the problem that was reported in January of 1864 and Major General Joseph Hooker's response, including some reports by others. I do not know how it was finally resolved, hence this desire to learn.

The first report was on December 3 to Capt. Potter from Lieutenant Colonel B. H. Hill, stated extensive preparations were being made in Canada for burning cities on the lakes, and others; that Greek fire was being prepared in Windsor, and Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit were to be the targets, along with armed attempts to rob and plunder. Cincinnati and Louisville were also threatened with burning;
“I am also informed that by some means a large number of rebel soldiers have been introduced into Canada; some, it is said, have been furloughed, and have made their way through the lines.”
[O. R. Series 1, Volume 45, Part 2, page 82-83].

On December 5, 1864 Lieutenant Colonel B. H. Hill notified Brig. General James Fry, the Provost Marshal about the plot and the increased number of rebels in Canada, saying;
“Colonel Butler’s regiment of Kentucky rebel troops had been disbanded in Kentucky, with directions to make their way through the lines and report in Canada, and that they had done so in large numbers, and that Colonel Butler himself has arrived in Canada….I beg also to recommend that the attention of the Honorable Secretary Of State be called to this subject, with a view of presenting it to the Canadian authorities.”
[Ibid., page 69-70].

Major-General Joseph Hooker commanding that District reported this to Brig. General E. D. Townsend, the Assistant Adjutant-General of the Army in Washington, on December 6. He also communicated with Governor Brough of Ohio on December 3 about the plot for plunder and burning cities from rebels in Canada, and threatened retaliation;
“I need not tell you, Governor, that if anything of this sort is attempted I intend that somebody shall be hurt before it is over, if I have to go into Canada to do it. If the Canadian authorities allow our enemies to enter the territory to organize for hostile purposes, I shall exercise the same right, and if exception is taken it can be arranged afterward by negotiation. I am determined that security and tranquility shall prevail along the border while I exercise command of this department.”
[Ibid., page42-43].

The Provost Marshal for the city of Columbus, Ohio, John W. Skiles, wrote to Captain C. H. Potter, an Assistant Adjutant-General in Cincinnati on December 7, 1864 about the need for a guard on an important bridge along the Columbus and Piqua Railroad, saying;
“….Mr. Clement, superintendent of Little Miami Railroad, had informed the railroad authorities here that this band [of confederates] was organized for the destruction of bridges on all roads in Ohio; he did not give any other information.”
[Ibid., page 95].

Thanks,
Lubliner.
An interesting topic. As you know, "Canada" was a group of British colonies until 1867, so any diplomacy necessarily involved Great Britain. The Governor-General answered directly to London. GB was officially neutral, but as we know tolerated Confederate activities on its soil until/unless they became too obvious or likely to embroil GB in the war.
 

Kurt G

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 23, 2018
Canada was officially neutral , but there were concerns on both sides about the border areas . I believe any Confederate plots would have been secretive and not known to the Canadian government , although there may have been local cooperation. Sympathies were divided , but the Canadian people were largely anti-slavery and Canada was an important destination for the underground railroad . Another thing to consider is the strong economic and social ties between border areas such as Detroit and Windsor. It is estimated that approximately 40,000 Canadians served in the Union army , including my great-great grandfather .
 

lupaglupa

Sergeant Major
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Apr 18, 2019
I recently got a book about the Canadian activities during the Civil War (due to my family being involved) and it's much more extensive than I would have thought. A great choice for a discussion!
 

Lubliner

2nd Lieutenant
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Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
I had heard of Fighting Joe Hooker trying to play a political card while in the hospital after Chancellorsville. I am not sure how involved he was in politics, but his persuasion can be likened to General Butler and his move on Baltimore. Lincoln had to throw some water on his inflamed spirit to cool him down, and I wonder exactly what was done by Hooker's threat to deal with Canada first and then let negotiations proceed.

There were plenty of spies on both sides due to personal feelings of the north or the south. One of the reports mentioned having the hotels under strict observance and daily inspection by anonymous 'yankees' who checked in to get a handle on the activity. So this broadens from localized activity into governmental oversight due to obvious embarrassments that could occur. I haven't yet come upon any more mention than what I stated in the OP. Thanks for showing interest. I do hope more will be threshed out.
Lubliner.
 

Belfoured

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
I had heard of Fighting Joe Hooker trying to play a political card while in the hospital after Chancellorsville. I am not sure how involved he was in politics, but his persuasion can be likened to General Butler and his move on Baltimore. Lincoln had to throw some water on his inflamed spirit to cool him down, and I wonder exactly what was done by Hooker's threat to deal with Canada first and then let negotiations proceed.

There were plenty of spies on both sides due to personal feelings of the north or the south. One of the reports mentioned having the hotels under strict observance and daily inspection by anonymous 'yankees' who checked in to get a handle on the activity. So this broadens from localized activity into governmental oversight due to obvious embarrassments that could occur. I haven't yet come upon any more mention than what I stated in the OP. Thanks for showing interest. I do hope more will be threshed out.
Lubliner.
One interesting aspect is that the "Province of Canada" (in significant part what had been "Upper Canada" during the War of 1812) was less hospitable to aiding the CSA than the Maritime colonies were. Even though Upper Canada was where the Yanks had made incursions during that war, including burning York (Toronto), the Maritimes were antagonistic to "Canada" and so id'd more with the Confederacy. Danny Jenkins did a paper at the University of Ottawa which concluded that somewhere between 33,000 and 55,000 "British North Americans" aka "Canadians" fought for the Union. Many had taken up residence in the northern US but their participation reflects the general views in "Canada" at the time. Vastly fewer fought for the CSA. One of the results of the ACW was the insistence on a strong centralized government when the Dominion of Canada came into existence in 1867.
 

Miles Krisman

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 15, 2012
One interesting aspect is that the "Province of Canada" (in significant part what had been "Upper Canada" during the War of 1812) was less hospitable to aiding the CSA than the Maritime colonies were. Even though Upper Canada was where the Yanks had made incursions during that war, including burning York (Toronto), the Maritimes were antagonistic to "Canada" and so id'd more with the Confederacy. Danny Jenkins did a paper at the University of Ottawa which concluded that somewhere between 33,000 and 55,000 "British North Americans" aka "Canadians" fought for the Union. Many had taken up residence in the northern US but their participation reflects the general views in "Canada" at the time. Vastly fewer fought for the CSA. One of the results of the ACW was the insistence on a strong centralized government when the Dominion of Canada came into existence in 1867.
Perhaps the following book would be of interest:

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1771861231/
 

Belfoured

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Perhaps the following book would be of interest:

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1771861231/
Thanks. I am aware of the book. One thing to keep in mind is that Upper Canada (today's Ontario) and Lower Canada (today's Quebec) were merged for about 25 years in the Province of Canada, which was intended to reduce the influence of the French Canadian vote because the parliament equally apportioned seats even though Lower Canada had a larger population. When confederation occurred in 1867 they again went their separate ways, this time as Ontario and Quebec. Given how the government was set up between c. 1840 and 1867, I'm skeptical that it was fully informed about Confederate machinations in Montreal.
 

Lubliner

2nd Lieutenant
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Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Thanks, @Miles Krisman, the book in the link provided does appear to hold a wealth of secrets. Undoubtedly, the majority of Canadians were pro-North from what I hear just in the comments above. But, I am still perplexed how the 'French-Canadian' or 'British-Canadian' interests were accounted for out of the main majority. Were the rules different for the divisional provinces that represent each nation, France and Britain? This would hamper diplomatic relations concerning the overseas interests and perhaps fray European ties that existed. Coming back to this but moving on....
I looked up John Russell Butler, the Colonel of the First Kentucky Cavalry Regiment, and found very little corroborating evidence of disbanding and moving up into Canada. They were formed in October of 1861 for one year of service, and being a hard year, they disintegrated into a battalion and were merged with the 3rd Kentucky Cavalry soon after Perryville. This Cavalry was led mainly by Colonel Helms up until Chickamauga when he was killed. So that would place the Cavalry under General Wheeler, who helped screen Tennessee that winter of 1863-1864. They were involved around Dalton and also Atlanta in 1864, giving them opportunity possibly to break away and move into Kentucky as a splinter group of raiders by the date of these dispatches. I still need to look further into Colonel Butler's military record after being absorbed into the 3rd Kentucky, but as I stated, I can find very little information so far upon him.
The number of men to gather and form up as a group of 'terrorist militia' is also in need of counter-balancing with the politicians and bankers that refused to bloody their own hands, directly. It just happens to show the differentiation between leadership and obedience.
Thank you all.
Lubliner.
 

Belfoured

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Thanks, @Miles Krisman, the book in the link provided does appear to hold a wealth of secrets. Undoubtedly, the majority of Canadians were pro-North from what I hear just in the comments above. But, I am still perplexed how the 'French-Canadian' or 'British-Canadian' interests were accounted for out of the main majority. Were the rules different for the divisional provinces that represent each nation, France and Britain? This would hamper diplomatic relations concerning the overseas interests and perhaps fray European ties that existed. Coming back to this but moving on....
I looked up John Russell Butler, the Colonel of the First Kentucky Cavalry Regiment, and found very little corroborating evidence of disbanding and moving up into Canada. They were formed in October of 1861 for one year of service, and being a hard year, they disintegrated into a battalion and were merged with the 3rd Kentucky Cavalry soon after Perryville. This Cavalry was led mainly by Colonel Helms up until Chickamauga when he was killed. So that would place the Cavalry under General Wheeler, who helped screen Tennessee that winter of 1863-1864. They were involved around Dalton and also Atlanta in 1864, giving them opportunity possibly to break away and move into Kentucky as a splinter group of raiders by the date of these dispatches. I still need to look further into Colonel Butler's military record after being absorbed into the 3rd Kentucky, but as I stated, I can find very little information so far upon him.
The number of men to gather and form up as a group of 'terrorist militia' is also in need of counter-balancing with the politicians and bankers that refused to bloody their own hands, directly. It just happens to show the differentiation between leadership and obedience.
Thank you all.
Lubliner.
I think the answer is that official diplomacy involved Great Britain - as it had to. Until 1867, Ontario/Quebec (Province of Canada), each of the Maritimes, Vancouver Island, and BC were all just colonies of Great Britain. In fact, Britain's concerns about "Canada" vis-a-vis the US and the pressures of maintaining forces there helped propel confederation, which took place in 1867.
 

Lubliner

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Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
I think the answer is that official diplomacy involved Great Britain - as it had to. Until 1867, Ontario/Quebec (Province of Canada), each of the Maritimes, Vancouver Island, and BC were all just colonies of Great Britain. In fact, Britain's concerns about "Canada" vis-a-vis the US and the pressures of maintaining forces there helped propel confederation, which took place in 1867.
The reason I was asking, while watching a travel video on motorcycles, a different set of rules were handed out at the city of Quebec for entry, and the motorcycle was denied. I thought that possibly an established 'French City' would bear French rule over it's own jurisdiction, even then.
Thanks,
Lubliner.
 

Belfoured

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
The reason I was asking, while watching a travel video on motorcycles, a different set of rules were handed out at the city of Quebec for entry, and the motorcycle was denied. I thought that possibly an established 'French City' would bear French rule over it's own jurisdiction, even then.
Thanks,
Lubliner.
That's a result of efforts over the past 50 years to keep the Quebecois from pushing for secession, It's why road signs are in both languages, etc and PQ has a lot of language rules in schools, etc, After 1763, the French influence was pretty minimal for more than a century and it was all sublimated in a British colony until 1867. For comic relief, there have been battles in recent years over an Italian restaurant in Quebec City using "pasta" on its menu instead of the French equivalent (resolved in favor of "pasta", fortunately). Montreal, by the way, is much less fixated on French.
 

Belfoured

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
I remember news stories about a violent French separatist movement in Quebec in the 1960s.
Correct - that's what led to the dual language requirements, etc. Traveling around in Montreal and in QC are two different experiences.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Canada was officially neutral , but there were concerns on both sides about the border areas . I believe any Confederate plots would have been secretive and not known to the Canadian government , although there may have been local cooperation. Sympathies were divided , but the Canadian people were largely anti-slavery and Canada was an important destination for the underground railroad . Another thing to consider is the strong economic and social ties between border areas such as Detroit and Windsor. It is estimated that approximately 40,000 Canadians served in the Union army , including my great-great grandfather .
I think you're right: Canada was very divided. On the one hand, Canadian authorities probably were complicit in the Confederate raids in northern New England but, on the other, a substantial percentage of Maine troops were Canadian. In this area of Maine, most of the Canadian troops were from Quebec so I can't help but suspect that another motivation may have been a certain feeling against the English (who, at that time, controlled the Canadian government).
 

Lubliner

2nd Lieutenant
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Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Looking at the map of Canada, the opportunity to infiltrate the border for Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati or Cleveland and the region Hooker was commanding is both by water and slim stretches of land. There would be much ground to cover through Michigan or Wisconsin to reach any of the cities I mentioned, unless waterborne transportation of sort was used. This is the Ontario Province of Canada which would also be more British, and judging by the namesake, the First Tribe indigenous population.
At this point in General Hooker's career he was very dissatisfied with his assignment, writing to Wade (?) to give himself an opportunity to convene with the Conduct of the War Committee by the next week. (mid-December 1864). He was feeling slighted by Generals Grant, Sherman and Sheridan, and Howard. Being brought to the attention of the Government in Washington by conspicuity, these threats against a foreign power surely were made known. So adding one more problem to the OP being investigated is the mode of transport these confederates were using to come and go.
Lubliner.
 

Kurt G

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 23, 2018
Is Ontario Canada really complicit or is it a ruse to undermine Yankee Diplomacy with Britain?
Lubliner.
I find it hard to believe that Ontario was complicit . Ontario was the province that received the vast majority of escaped slaves through the underground railroad. It is estimated that as many as 40,000 escaped slaves made it to Canada. That being said there is always the possibility of local cooperation with Confederates .
 

Lubliner

2nd Lieutenant
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Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
I find it hard to believe that Ontario was complicit . Ontario was the province that received the vast majority of escaped slaves through the underground railroad. It is estimated that as many as 40,000 escaped slaves made it to Canada. That being said there is always the possibility of local cooperation with Confederates .
So do I the more I think and look for the answers. But Hooker seems to believe it. And that spells trouble for Washington, maybe. He feared citizen retaliation from the American side against the Canadians, thus rupturing all peace at the borders.
Lubliner.
 

Kurt G

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 23, 2018
There was an attempt to free Confederate prisoners on Johnson's Island by John Yates Beall and 20 Confederate volunteers who operated out of Sandwich ( now Windsor) Ontario , but after seizing a steamship the plan fell apart and they returned to Sandwich . I believe this whole plot was done in secrecy and have never found where Ontario authorities were aware of it .
 
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