Fenian Uprising, Malone: Part 2

Canadian Home-Guard defending against Fenians ...
Canadian Home-Guard defending against Fenians in 1870. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Canadians worried about an attack by the Fenians from the States. As early as November 1865, they placed troops at the borders and kept them on duty. In March they asked for 10,000 volunteers to guard the border and got 14,000. Eventually, they let their guard down and the volunteers returned home.

Then on June 2, 1866, reports came to Huntingdon that trains loaded with Fenians headed for Malone. The Canadians quickly re-assembled. Unfortunately, they had no firearms. Had the Fenians advanced at this point, they would have met no resistance and possibly have succeeded.

The Trout River Highway became heavily guarded and the Canadians placed at a fortification built to defend the road. Heavy rains turned that road into a quagmire and conditions persisted that would make advancement by the Fenians improbable.

Canadian farmers moved their families to their hunting cabins and some families moved in with American friends across the frontier.

On the first days of June, about 2,500 Fenians poured into Malone by train under the command of General M.J. Heffenan and Generals Murphy and O’Rielly–Civil War veterans. The bulk of the troops camped at the Fairgrounds on Main Street.

They were poorly provisioned and depended upon the locals for food and supplies. The troops were relatively ungoverned, so they had free access to the town. The residents, at times, feared their looting and rioting, but it never happened.

The only event that created a problem occured when William C. Sylvester, N.J. McGillivray and Dr. MacIntosh, all from Canada, came to see what was happening. By their dress, the Fenians assumed they were spies.

Hundreds of crazed Fenians convened by the Miller House, which  stood where the Flanagan stands today, in order to attack these three men. The commanding officers had little control over their troops. They tried to mingle with the mob in order to rescue the innocent victims.

One, Dr. MacIntosh, unhurt, hid under a lounge in the office of the lawyer William Cantwell. Sylvester’s injuries weren’t severe. Unfortunately, the same could not be said about McGillivray who was hidden in the attic of the south tower of the train station. Eventually, they secreted him to Pearl Street to the home of Colonel Seaver. He was badly injured. Here, his wounds were tended until the he and Sylvester could be secreted out of Malone. I assume MacIntosh escaped prior to these men.

That was the only Fenian attack in 1866.

Tune in next week for the next installment.

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