Just over a year after the Civil War, a band of Union and Confederate veterans fought side by side to undertake one of the most fantastical missions in military history: to seize the British province of Canada and to hold it hostage until the independence of Ireland was secured. By the time that these invasions—known collectively as the Fenian raids—began in 1866, Ireland had been Britain’s unwilling colony for seven hundred years.
In his book, When the Irish Invaded Canada: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland’s Freedom, Christopher Klein tells how thousands of Civil War veterans who had fled to the United States rather than perish in the wake of the Great Hunger still considered themselves Irishmen first and Americans second. With the tacit support of the U.S. government, the Fenian Brotherhood carried out a series of five attacks on Canada. This motley group established a state in exile, planned prison breaks, weathered infighting, stockpiled weapons, assassinated enemies, and managed to seize a piece of Canada—if only for three days.
Mr. Klein will speak about his book at the first program of the Spring Author Talks at the Kingston Council on Aging on Thursday, March 19 at 7 p.m.