Tag Archives: fenians canada

THE 1870 FENIAN UNIFORM HIGHLIGHTED ON THE COVER OF THE COMPANy OF MILITARY

The Winter 2020 Military Collector & Historian Cover from the Journal of the Company of Military Historicans highlights the the 1870 Fenian Green Regulation Uniform. The description is written by Rene Chartand and drawn by Ron Volstad, courtesy the History and Heritage Directore, Department of National Defence, Ottawa.

This article is a good primer on who the Fenians were, their regulation uniform as well as buttons, worn by Fenians within the enlisted ranks. One thing different in this drawing is the odd blue miltary hat, with a dark band and red and white piping which has not normally been seen before, nor described in any newspapers. This certainly is not a Fenian regulation cap. It looks more like a Canadian or European shako style hat with visor & piping. There also is an ornament on the front of the hat, likely a company letter or regimental number.

Fenian cap regulation of 1866 stated the irish Harp should be on the front and a company letter. We have covered the Fenian uniform before here in other posts, where the regulation hat was a blue cap (patterned after the US Civil War model), with a 1 1/2 inch green felt band around the bottom. This design was likely chosen because it could be pick up cheaply in large quantites from Civil War Federal supply surplus and be easily modified with the green felt around the band.

This hat shown here in this drawing was what was reportedly captured with the green Fenian Cavalry jacket in 1870 and now on display at the National Historic Sites, Parks Canada, however has now been lost. Forunately it was documented and used with this Fenian figure.

In these photos, the Fenian’s uniform jacket appears almost dark blue, however it is dark green when one shifts the hues and looks more closely.

You can read the entire quarterly Military Collector & Historian Journal by following this link.

I would recommend any serious student of Military History become a member of the Company of Military Historians and checking out their website: https://military-historians.org/

Above is the captured Fenian jacket which is referred to in this article.

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The Flannel Mouths are Whipped! – 1870 Fenian Raid Newspaper Broadside

An usual piece of Fenian history is this newspaper broadside published on May 25th 1870 by an Ontario, Canada newspaper Record and Journal as an Extra.

The headlines announce the Fenian Raid, A Battle Fought, The Flannel Mouths Whipped! The Canadian publisher was relishing in the fall of the Fenians calling them “Flannel Mouths” a term which is not heard today but in this context means a smooth-talker, a flatterer, or a braggart. with the intent of deceiving or manipulating others.

The broadside then goes on to print other incoming newspapers reports from US and Canadian newspapers, usually just a direct copy, on what has happened during this Fenian Raid.

Making this even more extraordinary was that this anonymous writer from Detroit documents his efforts having to travel across the river (about 1 mile) to a Windsor, Ontario newspaper, to seek out information on the recent Fenian Raid then printing a copy for himself with the aid of a former newspaper man.

Below is the transcription on this Windsor 1870 Fenian Raid circular, which was kept as a momentum of his experience which was written in pencil and circles around all sides of the newsprint.

Detroit May 25th 1870

At night,

I have just returned from Canada. Have been over to get reliable news. I found that this circular is just out. I went to the news depots and all around, but all was sold out. I finally came across an ex editor of the paper that furnishes this an in company with him I went to the office but then was none to be had there but the type was still in frame so we printed one for each of us. The excitement is intense. The Red Coats were drilling tonight. We/I  [wanted?] to hear the booming of the cannon from my room before the week is out and look from my bed room window with the aid of glasses, upon the battlefield.  

Fenian Raid Clip May 1870 Orginalc

“Perplexing” 1866 Fenian Weapons – Base Ball Bats?

Belvidire Nov 6 1866
Belvidere Standard, Nov 6, 1866 (Belvidere, Il)
While researching the Fenian Base Ball Clubs, (Base Ball being two words back then), there were several Clubs which popped up within cities with large Irish populations. The name indicated the political sentiment of Irish locals during the period after the American Civil War. From New Orleans, LA, Charleston, SC and Hartford, CT, as well as other Gaelic centers, these gentlemanly sports teams cropped up, notably in places where the Fenian Brotherhood was active.
batsWhether there is a correlation between these base ball clubs and the Fenian military companies, which drilled publicly or in local halls at the same time has yet to be seen. It was not unusual to have amateur teams being named after the ethnic make up of their players, as the Germans did the same, but it is interesting to see these sporting teams named after a political movement. Later we come to see teams named Shamrocks, Gaels, Celtics, and of course The Fighting Irish.
I came across this newspaper story in Nov 1866 while British North America/Canada was still on a heighten state of alert, a few months after the Fenian Raids in Canada East & West of June 1866. I can only imagine what Canadian custom inspectors where thinking when they opened these suspicious packages containing base ball equipment and trying to figure out how these strange weapons would be used by the Fenians to wage war against them again.

Catcher
Could this be the new Fenian army uniform outfitted for the next raid onto the Canadian border?