MEN, FALL IN!
In the early 1800s, military service in Canada was mandatory for men between the ages of 16 and 60. In the wake of the Militia Act 1855, which changed Canada’s sedentary army into an active volunteer militia force, Perth men formed the First Volunteer Rifle Company and the Second Volunteer Infantry Company in 1862. These battalions joined to become the 28th(Perth) Battalion of Infantry.
In the 1830s, settlers of Southwestern Ontario were more occupied with clearing and establishing their land, as the area was not facing any immediate military threats. Resident British Soldiers were being recalled from Canada by the 1850s to fight in Eastern Europe and India, leaving local population to rely on their militia. At the same time, the pressure of southern hostilities (American Civil War and the threat of Fenian Brotherhood) began to create a sense of military duty among the soldiers of Perth County. With the incursion of the Fenian Raids and the Red River Rebellion, the Perth Militia was deployed.
Throughout this period Canada’s military was undergoing growth and change. The 1793 Militia Act initiated the mandatory service of men in militia, whereas the 1855 Militia Act allowed for militia men to volunteer for service/duty rather than the previous compulsory service. The foundation for Canada’s military was established through these two Militia acts. It was during this vulnerable time that Perth found its military footing.
Fenian Raids 1866-1870:
When the Irish republican organization called the Fenian Brotherhood attempted to attack British interests in North America (Canada) in order to end British rule in Ireland, the 28th Battalion was stationed along the Canadian border to defend against attack.
The Red River Rebellion 1869-1870:
The first major political crisis of the newly formed Canadian government after its Confederation in 1867. When the Canadian government purchased Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1869, the conflict between the English-speaking inhabitants and French-speaking Metis grew. Under the leadership of Louis Riel, the Red River Colony established a provisional government and barred any outside authority from interfering with the colony. Two soldiers from the 28th Battalion were sent to participate in the Red River Expedition.