Christopher Klein

When the Irish Invaded Canada: It’s No Blarney

Just over a year after Robert E. Lee relinquished his sword, a band of Union and Confederate veterans dusted off their guns. These former foes, however, had no intention of reigniting the Civil War. Instead, they fought side by side to undertake one of the most fantastical missions in military history: to seize the British province of Canada and hold it hostage until the independence of Ireland was secured.

What better way to get ready for St. Patrick’s Day than to learn the outlandish, little-known story of the self-proclaimed Irish Republican Army that carried out five attacks on Canada—known collectively as the Fenian Raids—between 1866 and 1871. With the tacit support of the U.S. government, this motley group—including a one-armed war hero, an English spy infiltrating rebel forces, and a radical who staged his own funeral—managed to seize a piece of America’s northern neighbor, if only for a matter of days.

Christopher Klein is the author of When the Irish Invaded Canada: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland’s Freedom and Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero. He is a frequent contributor to History.com, the website of the History Channel, and has written for The Boston Globe, The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Harvard Magazine, Smithsonian.com, and AmericanHeritage.com. https://christopherklein.com


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