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Turning Back the Fenians
Turning Back the Fenians

Turning Back the Fenians

132 pages
Published:   November 3, 2006
Non-Fiction  /  NB Military Heritage Series
Paperback:   9780864924612    $16.95
Published by Goose Lane Editions with the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society

In the early 1860s, Irish immigrants in the United States were eager to help the Fenian brotherhood overthrow the British in Ireland. The American Fenians' mission: to invade British North America and hold it hostage. New Brunswick, with its large Irish population and undefended frontier, was a perfect target. The book tells how, in the spring of 1866, a thousand Fenians massed along the St. Croix River and spread terror among New Brunswickers. When the lieutenant-governor called in British soldiers and a squadron of warships, the Fenians saw that New Brunswick was no longer an easy target, and they turned their efforts against central Canada. The Fenian "attacks" and the demand for home defence fanned the already red-hot political debate, and a year later, in July 1867, New Brunswick joined Confederation.

Turning Back the Fenians is volume 8 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
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Born in Montreal in 1935, Robert Leonard Dallison attended both the Royal Roads Military College and the Royal Military College of Canada and, following graduation in 1958, was commissioned into the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. He received a BA (history) from RMC and a BA (history and international studies) from the University of British Columbia. He served for thirty-five years with the Canadian Army, obtaining the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and ending his career as chief of staff of the Combat Arms School at CFB Gagetown. After retiring, he maintained his life-long interest in history and heritage, including serving as the President of Fredericton Heritage Trust and as the New Brunswick representative on the Board of Governors for Heritage Canada. From 1992 to 2002, he was director of Kings Landing Historical Settlement. Retired again, he is currently living with his wife Sharon in Fredericton.


"Robert L. Dallison's Turning Back the Fenians: New Brunswick's Last Colonial Campaign makes a significant contribution to this part of our history by shedding light on the motivations, maneuvers, and organization of New Brunswick's militias in their fight against Fenian invasion. . . . provides valuable insight into the events surrounding the Fenian crisis in New Brunswick and elucidates the experiences of the local militiamen charged with defending their homeland. Rather than simply using this work to give a general overview of the military tactics involved in the crisis, Dallison is able to breathe new life into this oft-neglected aspect of pre-Confederation history." —

"A recommended read." — Daily Gleaner

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