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By Richard Arthur Preston

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Additional info for Defence of the Undefended Border: Planning for War in North America, 1867-1939

Sample text

Furthermore it was no longer scattered in widespread frontier posts but it was available for operational service north as well as south. 67 Lateral communications in the British provinces were still poor and vulnerable: one part of the lateral defence-communications line, the Beauharnois Canal, passed close to American territory, and other canals, especially the Welland, and railways were also close to the border. 69 To crown all, the United States, hitherto virtually powerless at sea, began to rebuild its navy.

It was now Canada's turn to fear that the British might not live up to the contract to defend the Queen's domains. 80 The fact that Canadian negotiators in 1864 and 1865 asserted even more vigorously than before that a war would be a result of British policy should not be taken too seriously. They were undoubtedly aware that the colonies could no longer limit their involvement by alleging imperial responsibility. Until late in the Civil War there had continued to be considerable lack of agreement about the strategy to be adopted in British North America if the conflagration spread.

82 Nevertheless, the advisability of seizing the initiative inevitably came up for further discussion because from the naval point of view such a move was essential. Capt. William Hatt Noble of the Royal Engineers reported on harbours in the Great Lakes to Capt. Richard Collinson, RN, who had been instructed to recommend to the Admiralty what assistance the navy could give the Province of Canada in the event of war. ) at Rouse's Point, Niagara, and Mackinac between Lakes Huron and Michigan. 83 Those actions were, however, undoubtedly intended to be in the context of a defensive-offensive strategy and not part of a major offensive movement.

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