“We are the Fenian Brotherhood, skilled in the arts of war, and we’re going to fight for Ireland, the land which we adore, many battles we have won, along with the boys in blue, and we’ll go and capture Canada, for we’ve nothing else to do.”
—Fenian drinking song
On June 1, 1866, more than 1,000 Irish Americans crossed the Niagara River from Buffalo, N.Y., and occupied the town of Fort Erie in Canada West (now Ontario).
They were members of the Fenian Brotherhood, whose invasion was part of a master plan to secure the independence of Ireland.
After the first Fenian raid of Campobello Island, N.B., in April 1866 failed in the face of a British show of force, a new invasion plan was drawn up.
First, multiple raids would draw out British forces while a large Fenian force invaded ...