Canada’s Civil War

As Union and Confederate armies battled in the United States, Canadians got involved on both sides of the conflict.

Posted February 1, 2023

Over the course of America’s bloody four-year Civil War from 1861 to 1865, around thirty thousand to fifty thousand Canadians enlisted to fight. Most signed up for the Union Army under the United States’ abolitionist President Abraham Lincoln, but some took the side of the Southern Confederates, who wanted to secede from the American union and keep the institution of Black slavery. But Canada wasn’t just a recruitment ground for soldiers. Many members of Canada’s political and financial elite sympathized with the Confederacy, and Montreal in particular became a hotbed of Southern spies and agents seeking to launch attacks on the Northern states.

From the Archive

Soldier Girl: The Emma Edmonds Story

She cropped her hair, donned a uniform, and became a soldier in the American Civil War. No one ever knew that he was a she. Until she told them.

The Chesapeake Piracy

A Union warship’s capture by Confederates who made Canada their base during the American Civil War made for a sticky diplomatic situation.  

Raising Hell in Montreal

A ragtag bunch of Confederates made Montreal their base during the American Civil War.

Canada’s Secret Police

Spymaster Gilbert McMicken ferretted out American agents operating north of the border.

Subscribe to Canada's History

Save as much as 52% off the cover price! 6 issues per year as low as $29.95. Available in print and digital.

Related to Military & War