Fenian raids

The Fenian raids were carried out by the Fenian Brotherhood, an Irish Republican organization based in the United States, on British Army forts, customs posts and other targets in Canada, in 1866, and again from 1870 to 1871. A number of separate incursions by the Fenian Brotherhood into Canada were undertaken to bring pressure on Great Britain to withdraw from Ireland, although none of these raids achieved their aims.

Fenian Raids
Part of the Fenian Rising

Depiction of the Fenian charge during the Battle of Ridgeway
DateApril 1866 – October 1871
Location
Result British Empire and Canadian victory[1]
  • Defeat of Fenian soldiers
  • End of incursions into Canada
Belligerents
Fenian Brotherhood  Canada[lower-alpha 1]
Commanders and leaders
John O'Mahony
Thomas Sweeny
John O'Neill
Samuel B. Spiers
Owen Starr
John A. Macdonald
George-Étienne Cartier
John Stoughton Dennis
William Osborne Smith
Casualties and losses
24 killed in action,
48 wounded,
59 captured,
1 cannon seized
Total:
131[citation needed]
13 killed in action,
53 wounded,
54 captured,
22 died of wounds
Total:
142[citation needed]
  1. Raids that were carried out in 1866 took place in the Province of Canada and the colony of New Brunswick; prior to confederation in 1867.

In Canada, the incursions divided its Catholic Irish-Canadian population, many of whom were torn between loyalty to their new home and sympathy for the aims of the Fenians. The Protestant Irish were generally loyal to the British and fought with the pro Union Orange Order against the Fenians.

While authorities in the United States arrested the men and confiscated the arms of the Fenian Brotherhood, there was speculation that some in the United States government had ignored the preparations undertaken by the Fenians because of anger over actions that could have been construed as British assistance to the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.