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.

Posted March 7, 2016

British North America was officially neutral during the U.S. Civil War but some of its subjects were not.

This uncomfortable fact was exposed when the Chesapeake, a Union ship, was captured by Confederates who then steamed the ship into Canadian waters.

The ship was eventually retaken after a cat-and-mouse chase involving Union gunships.

But the 1863 incident revealed there were plenty of sympathizers in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia who were willing to help out the Confederate cause.

And the affair came close to dragging Britain — and therefore Canada — into the American conflict.

See this video from the Museum of the Confederacy in Virginia to learn more about why the southern Confederacy had allies in Britain and its colonies.

A full story about the capture of the Chesapeake appeared in the April-May 2016 issue of Canada’s History.

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