Napanee’s Garrison Artillery Company prepared for possible invasion in 1866

Elizabeth Hall
A Walk Through History

The Fenian Brotherhood wanted to invade Canada, they wanted to ransom the Canadian Territories back to the British in exchange for Irish independence. The Fenians, named after the Old Irish National Militia, were members of an Irish liberation movement established in 1858 by Irish-Americans who wanted to secure independence from Britain. Things began after the American Civil War ended, and the Fenians were joined and supported by Civil War mercenaries who helped them begin their series of cross border raids. The raids were launched over a period of five years, and for decades, the threat of an invasion was looming over Canada. During this, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia joined Ontario and Quebec, which played a major role in Canadian Confederation.

The rumours of a Fenian invasion were only growing. On March 13th, 1866, Napanee hosted an emergency town meeting to raise recruits if an invasion did occur. Napanee raised two companies of militia volunteers: the 1st Infantry Company and the 2nd Infantry Company, they served under Cpt. Campbell and Cpt. Fraser. Other villages raised their own recruits, forming two companies at Tamworth, one at Bath, one at Enterprise, and later one at Odessa. All of these village Companies were re-designated the 48th Lennox and Addington Battalion of Infantry and were re-enrolled under the 1868 Militia Act. The Napanee Battery of Garrison Artillery was also re-enrolled under the Militia Act the same year.

The Garrison Artillery Company was formed in Napanee in 1866, serving under Edmund Hooper, who was the Captain of the Napanee Battery of Garrison Artillery from 1866 to 1881. He was also in charge of the Rescue, a gunboat that operated out of Kingston. The garrison company practiced drills three times a week on the grounds of the County Jail, but none of the newly formed companies were trained in time to see active duty. However, another Fenian threat developed in 1870.

John Wallace, who worked as a plasterer, served as a Private with the Napanee Battery of Garrison Artillery in the 1870 raid. John Moore Wallace was awarded a late Victorian military campaign medal for his services defending Canada during the invasion of 1870. Medals were awarded in 1899, but were only awarded to those who applied for them, and they had to have either been active in the field, served as a guard while an attack was expected, or been detailed for some specific service duty.

The Companies of the 48th Lennox and Addington Battalion of Infantry were renumbered and re-localized in 1871, and the Battalion was disbanded in 1880 when companies were transferred to the 47th Frontenac Battalion of Infantry. Lastly, the Napanee Battery of Garrison Artillery was disbanded in 1881.

Random History Fact: Romans didn’t know Britain existed until Julius Caesar invaded it in 55 and 54 BC. Those who did know it existed thought it was a place of unbelievable riches.


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