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Fenian Raids 1871

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: Oct 1870 to Oct 1870
Location: North Americamap
Surnames/tags: Canada Fenian Irish
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Pembina Raid (1871)

Fenian John O'Neill, after the failed 1870 Fenian invasion of Canada, had resigned the Senate Wing then joined the Savage Wing. In return he was given a seat on the Savage Wing governing council. In 1871 O'Neill and an odd character named W. B. O’Donoghue asked the Savage Wing Council to undertake another invasion of Canada across the Dakota Territory border. The Council, weary of Canadian adventures in general and O’Neill in particular, would have none of it. O'Neill's idea was turned down, but the Council promised to loan him arms and agreed they would not publicly denounce him and his raid.

O'Neill resigned from the Fenians to lead the invasion, which was planned in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to invade Manitoba near Winnipeg. About 35 men, led by John O'Neill, William B. O'Donoghue, and John J. Donnelly, hoped to join forces with Louis Riel's Métis. On October 5, O'Neill's force managed to capture a Hudson's Bay Company post and a Canadian customs house which they believed to be just north of the international border. A U.S. survey team had determined the border was two miles further north, placing the Hudson's Bay post and the customs house both inside U.S. territory. O'Neill, J. J. Donnelly and ten others were taken prisoner near Pembina, Dakota Territory, by U.S. soldiers led Captain Loyd Wheaton.

The raid was doomed from the very start. It actually took place inside the United States, and the Métis under Riel had signed a pact with the British just as the invasion began. Riel and his Métis captured O'Donoghue and gave him to U.S. authorities. In a somewhat muddled federal response, O'Neill was arrested twice – once in Dakota and once in Minnesota - but was released and never charged for "invading" U.S. territory. The men captured with him were released by the court as simply "dupes" of O'Neill and Donnelly.


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