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Updated February 14th 1999

WHY DID BRITISH NORTH AMERICANS (CANADIANS) FIGHT IN THE CW?

Canada at the time of the American Civil War was only a Colonie of Great Britain. Canada became a country in 1867 partially because of the Civil War.

There are over 50,000 British North Americans (Canadians) that fought for the Union and over 10,000 for the Confederacy. Why did Canadians fight in this war outside of their home land? Here are a few possible reasons.

1. Your on your small farm trying to make a living. You have been hearing thrue the news that war is comming to the States. A recruiting poster showed up in town offering great bounties to join. You think to yourself " I could provide for my family for years with the bounty." You decide to join.

Bounties offered to the 2nd Michigan for signing back on was 402$ . A great amount at the time.

2. Your parents ran one of many Underground Railroad Stations for years. Their beliefs in freeing slaves has been inbeded in you and they are also your beliefs. You decide to join for the cause

Upper and Lower Canada became a haven for run away slaves.

3. Your father wants you to become a Dentist like he is. You want more adventure than that. You join the army for the great adventure of your life.

Many youth look for adventure and look at the army as a way to get it.

4. Part of your family immigrated to the States. You have a few cousins now fighting in the great war. You decide to join the army and fight with them.

Immigration was easy then. It was a fully open border.

5. You parents are freed slave and now living in Upper Canada. You know that instead of chains you now have a chance to free slaves. You decide to join to free your family still in captivity.

Many United States Coloured Regiments were recruited for in British North America.

6. You realize after receiving your pay that you could be making much more money as a Soldier in the American Civil War. You decide to join the army because the wages are better.

Wages for an average soldier was much more than average pay for work back home.

7. You were brought up in the Lower Class and you don't have much Status in your neighbour hood. You join the army thinking that this will raise you in standing.

The Military as been for years a way to raise your status in the community.

8. Comments:
Your comments on why Canadians came south to fight in the Civil War missed one inportant reason. Many people loyal to the United States resided in Canada at the time of the war. Many people (including my ancestors that fought in the Rev. War against the Brits) went to Canada for free land. A simple oath of allegiance to the King was enough for the Brits - desperate to establish a new colonial base in North America - to give free land. I have a copy of my ancestors oath. He subsequently named his offspring George Washington Shotwell and Benjamin Franklin Shotwell. Afterall an oath to a king you neither honored nor respected was not worth the paper it was written on. Many of these "Americans" fought with or aided the States in the War of 1812. It was natural hence to return to the States when their country called. That country could be either North or South at the time.

Information sent to me by...
Steve Shotwell
His Email: steve.shotwell@spectrum-health.org

9. You are working as a ship carpenter in Mobile Alabama. At the call for men to man ships you decide that this would be a good thing to do and sign up.

"a lot of Canadians were in southern port cities like Mobile in the years just before the War, seeking work. And a lot of them were in ship-related trades." (Joy)

Information sent to me by...
Joy See the Help Needed page for information on her.

If you can think of any other reasons please let me know and I will be glad to enter them.


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