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The Worlds Largest Army


Lincoln and his Generals


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Fathers of Confederation | Maritime Union | George Brown | Pan Federalism | US Civil War | Canada's Proposals | St Lawrence Cruise | Charlottetown | The Quebec Conference | The London Conference | July 1st 1867

During the 1850's the issue of slavery and the right of a state to establish, maintain and regulate this and other issues had reach a critical boiling point. The states rights supports believed that the States had the ultimate right to pass laws on many important controversial matters and could also withdraw from the Union by choice if the State was not in agreement with the Federal Government. The Federalists believed that not only did the Federal Government have a superior authority over many of the government powers such as the right to regulate or abolish slavery but that the States once in the Union could not unilaterally withdraw.

With the election of Lincoln as President, many Southern States decided to leave the United States and eventually they declared the formation of another Federal government know as The Confederate States of America. Besides the obvious lessons to be learned over the creation of a federalist system, the US had also raised the largest army in the world and by 1863/64 as it became likely that the Southern States were going to lose the war, it also became somewhat of a worry to British North America that the US would be able to invade and occupy any of the British colonies with little resistance. This fostered a belief among many that the colonies should move toward unification rather then be occupied or annexed once colony at a time.

By 1862 the United States had the largest and most powerful army in the world with a tremendous amount of experience which triggered talk of Manifest Destiny in many quarters with the objective of defeating the south and then absorbing the rest of North America into the Union.

There incidents also arose during the course of the Civil War that threatened to trigger a war between Britain and the United States. These were

The Trent Affair

As the battlefields took their toll on the armies of both the North and the South, the political battlefield also heated up. The South and North both knew that if England recognized the South as a new nation, then the Civil War would be all but won and support for the south would flow in from all other countries. The south however had to make an intense effort to convince the British to recognize them and sent several diplomats to England to plead their case. Two such diplomats had been able to get to Havana on a southern blockade runner and from there took passage on a British ship to England. On November 8th, 1861, the US naval vessel the USS Jacinto was given information that these southern diplomats were on the British ship and intercepted it at sea, boarded it and took the southerners prisoner. The Jacinto returned to Boston were the Southerners were imprisoned. A flurry of diplomatic and military activity ensured in which Halifax saw it's military contingent increase to over 18,000. The possibility of an armed confrontation escalated drastically until Lincoln decided to release the Southerners in order to keep the British out of the Battle. Fighting both the Southern States and the British would have been almost impossible and would have caused the British to recognize the Confederate States of America.

The Chesapeake Incident

On December 7, 1863 Confederate forces captured a Northern vessel the Chesapeake while on a run form New York to Portland Maine. They tried to flee to British waters in the hopes of selling the cargo and refitting the ship for the south. American naval forces pursued and re-captured the Chesapeake in British waters. Although the incident took place in British waters, both the North and South had violated British neutrality and once again brought home the vulnerabilities of the British position in North America.

The St. Albans Raid

On October 19th, 1864 a group of Confederates robbed a bank in Vermont and fled across the Canadian boarder to Montreal. Although the Canadian Government recovered the funds and returned them, the immediate planned reaction in the US was to send troops into Canada to recover the money and wipe out the Confederate forces. Lincoln once again recognized that the heated zealotry of the initial reaction would simply cause a more serious incident if not out and out war with the British, so he overruled the plans to invade Canada and minimized the impact of the event. The British once again felt the threat of large military forces on the boarder and this encourage the supports of Confederation who saw security in unity of all British colonies.