Army and marines

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Old Sweat Fixture
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And now for something completely different, pre-Confederation we had a small number of "naval brigades", including one at Dunnville, ON. During the 1866 Fenian invasion this unit was called out and deployed, first to Port Colborne, and then after embarking the Welland Canal Field Battery in an infantry role, patrolled the upper Niagara River to prevent Fenian reinforcement or withdrawal. Unfortunately the officer in charge of the expedition, Lieutenant Colonel JS Dennis, decided to land his force to mop up the Fenians, whom he estimated would have been routed and fleeing for their lives.

It did not work quite as he intended. The Fenians had easily bested the Canadian militia at Ridgeway and had then retired to Fort Erie to seek further instructions from their forces in Buffalo. When the two sides met, Dennis abandoned his troops and ran off, while the Naval Brigade and the Gunners made a fight of it. They finally surrendered when they ran out of ammunition and were taken prisoner, until released when the Fenians withdrew that night. Note, and I can still get agitated over this, if Dennis had not landed his force, they would have been available to block the arrival of the shipping that embarked the Fenians. Within a few hours, the Fenians, who were short of ammunition, would have been confronted by five or six British and Canadian battalions with artillery and cavalry. Instead of a Fenian victory, the episode would have gone into the history books as the Fenian Alamo.

P.S. Dennis, who was well connected, went on to run the survey of Manitoba, provoking the Metis to rebel in 1870.
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