The Fenian Scare in England.
Stories of the most daring and diabolical attempts (says the European Mail, of 14th January) are beginning to come in from all parts of the kingdom. Rumors, indeed, have been current for some time back that since the Land League was founded by the Fenian Davitt, acting in conjunction with another Fenian in New York, called Devoy, the secret societies in England connected with the “ veiled rebellion” have been thrown into a state of feverish activity. The ugliest feature in the present situation is the
brisk secret trade in arms which is carried on between Birmingham and Ireland. Great numbers of old Enfields were sold by the War Office early last year at ridiculously low prices, and it appears that they were bought by agents of the Fenian organisation in England. These weapons are being gradually, week after week, converted into breechloaders for 7s 6d each, and secretly exported in small quantities to Ireland, where they are used in propagating the principles of the “ Irish Terror.” The announcements made in certain quarters
respecting a threatened attack on the drill-sheds, stores, and magazines of volunteer regiments in the home districts by no means represents the serious import of the intelligence which has readied the War Office. Some time ago the Secretary of State for War, conjointly with the Commander-in-Chief, had concerted arrangements to provide against any contingency which might arise, and, judging from the apparently well founded rumors which have since reached Pall Mall and Whitehall, the action subsequently adopted was not taken an hour before it was required ; so quietly have the
proceedings connected with the safety of the arms of upwards of two hundred thousand men in all parts of the country been carried out, owing, no doubt, to the strict secrecy enjoined by the War Office, all the communications on the subject being marked strictly confidential. It has been an established rule in the volunteer force to suspend shortly before Christmas all drills until usually about the middle of January. This fact has apparently been well known to those from whom an attack has been apprehended; but to the credit of the force —which, it will be remembered responded promptly to the call made upon it on the occasion
of the last Fenian disturbances—the greater number of the volunteers have already assembled. On receipt of orders from head-quarters there was a unanimous response, and the spectacle is now presented in all the headquarters which by their position are liable to attack, of guards and sentries properly mounted and posted, with a superabundance of men for reliefs both day and night. The exceptions are those regiments which recently, in accordance with War Office orders sent their arms to Birmingham for examination and re-browning. As far as the Home district is concerned, the precautions taken are of an extraordinary character. It is now no secret, and it is well that it should not be, that the
locks have been removed from every rifle in the armouries. Of course no orders have been issued respecting the weapons entrusted to members, who, under certain strict regulations, are allowed to keep them at home. The measures adopted have gone even further than this. With useless weapons ammunition is not of much service, but it will be information to some thousands of riflemen to learn that the small-arm ammunition has already been removed, or is about to be removed from all the rifle ranges in districts where it cannot be sufficiently protected. The authorities at the Home District Office, Horse Guards, who have the superintendence of the arrangements concerning the large body of regular and auxiliary troops in London, Middlesex, Surrey, Kent, and Essex —about 40,000 —have provided
most effectually against any attack, however well organised, which may be made. Scattered all round the metropolis—at Wimbledon, Epsom, Streatham, the Scrubs, Harrow, Rainham, Paistow, and many other places —large quantities of ammunition, which had been stored for class-firing and practice, have been taken away and stored in Government magazines. Meanwhile such additional precautions as were adopted at the last Fenian disturbances have been ordered, and in many cases have been carried out. In many of the head-quarters strong forces are posted, and will continue to be until the ideas of attack have been removed. Should any further drain of regular troops take place from the metropolis, it is understood that the volunteers will be available, under certain condition, for garrison duties. .
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The Fenian Scare in England., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 291, 12 March 1881
The Fenian Scare in England. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 291, 12 March 1881
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