Battle of Eccles Hill
|Battle of Eccles Hill|
|Part of the Fenian Raids|
The Battle of Eccles Hill. Contemporary illustration.
|Commanders and leaders|
|Samuel B. Spiers||William Osborne Smith|
|Casualties and losses|
1 cannon captured
|Official name||Battle of Eccles Hill National Historic Site of Canada|
The Battle of Eccles Hill was part of a raid into Canadian territory from the United States led by John O'Neill and Samuel Spiers of the Fenian Brotherhood. The army of the Fenian Brotherhood was defeated by local militia units based in Huntingdon on May 25, 1870.
Fenian militants, operating from Vermont, assembled on May 25 to orchestrate a second invasion of the Montreal region (a similar expedition under Spiers had met with defeat near the same site at the Battle of Pigeon Hill of 1866). Although O'Neill was arrested at the border crossing by an American police patrol, Spiers and the main body of Fenians slipped across the border intact and entered the province of Quebec.
Partisans and government scouts spotted the invaders almost immediately. A force of militia (amongst which was Queen Victoria's son and a future Governor General of Canada, Prince Arthur) awaiting the Fenians at Eccles Hill put up resistance, resulting in firefights and skirmishing. Lieutenant-Colonel William Smith hurried to the field with a battalion of volunteer cavalry and charged the Fenian positions. The Fenians fled, leaving behind their artillery and their dead. The Canadians sustained no casualties during the engagement because of the information supplied by Thomas Billis Beach, a double agent working against the Fenians from within their own organization.
- Senior, H. (1996). The last invasion of Canada: The Fenian raids, 1866–1870. Dundurn Press. ISBN 1-55002-085-4
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