Victoria Volunteer Rifles 1865 Windsor Canada Frontier Service Us Civil War For Sale
All sides shown:
cover front and letter front with emblem letterhead belonging to the 3rd Battalion Victoria Volunteer Rifles of Montreal ;
unfolded letter showingboth sides of lettersheet
magnified detail of letterhead emblem
A buy-it-now option may be added any time as long as there are no offers on this item as an sale. Please contact this seller.
Letter and cover April 11 1865
Canada 1st Western Administrative Battalion stationed at border Detroit River
This is a Canadian'Frontier Service'militia itempertaining to CanadianMilitia Battalions that were deployed along the Canada-USA border in early 1865 to prevent Confederate raids against the Unionfrom Canadaduring the United States Civil War.This letter is headed '1st(_?_) Western BattalionWindsor' which was commanded by (William) Osborne Smith (who the writer mentions in this letter). This Frontier Service Battalion existed only briefly until the summer of 1865 after the conclusion of the civil War.
The Canadian'Frontier Service' was established by the Canadian Government in response to the Confederate raid on St Albans Vermont banks and townspeople on October 19 1864. Confederate soldiers located in Canadahad crossed the international borderinto Vermont for what was the northernmost action of the civil war.
Windsor, Province of Canada, (Canada West /Upper Canada , known asprovince of Ontario from 1867)
Quebec, Canada East
Stampless envelope cover
postmarked WINDSOR CW AP 11 1865.
handstamped 7 (7 cents collect to be paid by the receiver)
Backstamped: Montreal AP 13; Quebec AP 14
CONDITION NOTE: the back of the envelope has a clipped portion missing.
(Illegible) appears to be signed 'W. Ken Stait' but notidentified by this seller. It is likely that this information can be gained by a search of historical military records
Henry Morgan, Provincial Secretary's Office, Quebec (Henry Morgan was a prolific compiler of Biographical information of notable Canadians in Government, Military and culture.Author of 'The Canadian Parliamentary Handbook' ; 'Sketches of celebrated Canadians, and persons connected with the times' and other works between the early 1860s and early 1900s
The letter is from a member (signature needs to be identified) of the '3rd BattalionThe Victoria Volunteer Rifles of Montreal' writing from the 1st Western Administrative Battalion Headquartersof the Canadian Frontier Service at WindsorCanada (opposite Detroit Michigan) with news about the Battalion including his ownspeculation about his potential rank or position in the battalion and stating thewhereabouts of commander Osborne Smith.
The Canadian'Frontier Service' was established bythe Province of Canada Government of John A MacDonald in early 1865 toprevent cross border raids/incursions from Canada by Confederates (soldiers & agents located in Canada) against the United States.
The primary purpose of the Frontier Servicewas topreventfurther excursionsby Confederates across the border. By making this effort the to placate the Americans, the Macdonald Government hoped to have the strict border passport controls lifted (that the UShad instituted after the St Albans VT raids) and quiet the annexationists. At the same time theMacdonald Government did want tokeep an eye on the goings on at the border and reinforce the border as a show of seriousness against a potential US invasion in the aftermath of the Civil War. The Frontier Servicewas made up of approx. 2,000 volunteers* and was comprised of 30 volunteer companies** organized into 3 different battalions**
-*according to Richard Gwynn's2007 autobiographyon John A Macdonald
-**according to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography entry for William Osborne Smith (published by the University of Toronto & University of Laval)
From the Canadian point of view, this border guard Frontier Service would be preventativeof potential agitation, Confederate or otherwise, coming from the Canadian side of the border thatmight stir anger against Canada in the US union.American annexationists whether newspaper editors or government officials, had long looked for excuses& justificationfor a USinvasion ofCanada.
The message from Canada and Britain officially was that this was a reinforcement of Britain's and Canada's stance of neutrality in the conflict.Of course the civil war was winding down it at this time, it really was more of a sign ofcooperationwith the Union by Canada than one ofneutrality.
The Government of John A Macdonald (who was at this very timebusily putting the finishing touches in place for the Confederation of the BNA provinces) was fearful of any kind of provocation that would encourage hawks in the US government. Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Seward was known to be in favour of annexing Canada. The provocations by Britain early in the war especiallythe Trentaffair in1861-2 soured relations with Britainwhich lead many in the US including leading newspaper editorialists to call for an invasion of Canada.
The Victoria Volunteer Rifles of Montrealwere officially recognized during the tensions of the Trent crisisDec1861-Jan 1862. Ironically this militia unit eventually served against the Fenians (Irish freedom fighters or terrorists whose designs on Canadathat the USA allegedly turned a blind eye toward) who raided Canada from the USAin 1866.
Transcript of Letter:
1st _ West'n Batt'n
Windsor 11 April/65
My Dear Morgan,
I have barely time
before the first class
to acknowledge the receipt
of yours of the 6th inst & am
much obliged for your
mailing the enquiry
about the Frontier Service.
Osborne Smith is am to //
the best of my knowledge
in Quebec as he left
here to go to Montreal
only about four days ago .
You may probably come
across him. I think it
is pretty certain that
I will be home again
by the 1st May as I believe
Col Reeve is to take
Smiths place. "Entre Nous"
If the latter had been
reappointed I might
have remained as I
think I would have got
the adjuntancy of the battn
that is to say if he had //
any voice in the matter as he
wished me to take it. If you can
give any further information
about the appointment in
confidence pray do so. "Big John"
wrote me the other day & said
you were laid up with the
"ladies fever" is that so? I thought
as much from your letter (- - - ?)
desiring to be remembered to you
Let me hear from you this week.
Ever yours ,
H J Morgan W Ken _ _ ait
a PS is crosswritten on the first page:
I am sorry you do not like
the photo -it is the best I
can get taken here. I will
send you one taken at Detroit
in plain clothes in a day or two
& I think I will also be
able to send you a - - - --
of the officers of this position
of the - - - -& barracks .
Letter contents: Letter is in excellent condition. laid paper, pliable(not brittle)appears to be archivally very stable.
folded lettersheet size:5" x 8" (10" x 8" when completely unfolded)
envelope cover: cover has a portion clipped out of back which is likely the VVR seal insignia same as the one pictured in the letterhead.
envelope cover size:5 3/8" x 3 1/8"
The condition of theitemsshould show clearly in the images. Please contact the seller if you have any question about the item's condition or description!
Canadian Residents: HST/ GST is charged extra: (13% HST in NB, NL, Ontario; 5% in BC; 15% in NS; 5% GST in all other regions).
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Packed very carefully, well protected.
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Victoria Volunteer Rifles 1865 Windsor Canada Frontier Service Us Civil War: