A Decade of Turbulence

Vulnerability of the Province of Canada

Planning A Defence

A detachment of the British Army's Military Train leaving for Canada following the 'Trent Incident'

Caption: A detachment of the British Army's Military Train leaving for Canada following the 'Trent Incident'

Having got over the shock of the crisis, the authorities had to quickly think of ways in which to repulse any American land invasion of Canada. In February 1862 Lord Monck appointed a commission of inquiry to study the Province of Canada's system of fortifications and defence, to be chaired by Colonel John William Gordon of the Engineers. Their report was submitted on September 2. The commissioners expected that the Americans would attack Collingwood, Windsor, the Niagara Peninsula, Prescott and Montreal initially, followed by Kingston and Quebec City. They therefore recommended the building of fortifications in 16 locations, at a cost of approximately £1.6 million ($8.5 million), and to keep 65,000 soldiers and volunteers on a war footing. They also felt it eminently desirable to build a railway between Halifax and Montreal, which would complete to the east the network that already reached as far as Windsor to the west. Railways were being built everywhere around the world and military staffs recognized their importance for the rapid transport and deployment of troops, just as they were aware of the need for telegraph lines, which usually ran along the train tracks.