A monument to the 40,000 Canadians who fought in the American Civil War was unveiled Saturday in Ault Park near Cornwall, Ontario. While the fight over the legitimacy of Confederate monuments continues to simmer in the U.S., Saturday’s ceremony was about remembering those Canadians who fought for both sides.
It’s one of the least-known facts of America’s deadliest conflict: 36,000 Canadians joined the Union Army while another 4,000 went South to fight for the Confederacy — and over 7,000 died.
The Grays and Blues of Montreal unveiled the granite memorial with about 250 spectators and 35 reenactors in attendance. The Parliamentary secretary to the minister of national defense, Jean Rioux, was there for the federal government. There were no protesters present.
In August a Hudson’s Bay store in Montreal unceremoniously removed a plaque from its front wall dedicated to Confederate president Jefferson Davis, who had once lived in the building.
Grays and Blues commanding officer Rob McLachlan told The Daily Caller on Sunday that he was inspired to erect the monument because “no one has done it yet” and that “the story of Canada’s involvement in the Civil War is not well-known or well-told,” he said. As a former Canadian Army officer, McLachlan said he was not even told of the Civil War connection when he went to staff school.
But McLachlan has a personal interest in this story as well. Three of his ancestors fought in the war — on both sides. “Two of them were brevet generals for the Union while a third was a private who fought for the South,” he said.
He noted that Canada produced 29 medal of honor recipients in the Civil War and five general officers of brigadier-general or higher. None of the Canadians who fought for either the Union or Confederacy were ever recognized by their government, which was officially neutral.
The memorial was built with the full support of Ault Park and the local Cornwall city council.