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School House at Indian Island | Artist unknown | 1866
A watercolor that shows the fortification of the schoolhouse on Indian Island, New Brunswick during the Fenian border raids into Canada in 1866. The Fenian movement to aid the cause of Irish nationalism had begun 1858 and gained strength after the American Civil War with an influx of Irish veterans of the Union Army. In the spring of 1866, they congregated at various locations along the American border with British North America, what is now Canada. They hoped that by taking Canadian territory they could exchange it with Britain for Irish independence. One of the locations the Fenians came to was Eastport, Maine immediately across the border from Indian Island. The Fenians trained on a beach in Eastport in plan sight of Indian Island. On April 14, 1866 several Fenians raided Indian Island and capture the British flag that waved above the island’s British customs house. A week later, the Fenians returned and burned to the ground four warehouses and related wharves on the shores of the island. In response, New Brunswick militia were sent to Indian Island and fortified the island’s school house and this is the scene shown in the watercolor. Soon afterwards, American General Meade was dispatched to Eastport to disperse the Fenians. The Tides Institute acquired the watercolor in 2007. Initially the watercolor had come up for auction in England and the institute narrowly lost out in the bidding process. The winning bidder was an art gallery in Savannah, Georgia and the institute was then able to negotiate a purchase price with the gallery and have the watercolor become part of the institute’s collections. Photo caption: Watercolor that shows the fortification of the schoolhouse on Indian Island, New Brunswick during the Fenian border raids into Canada in 1866. Artist: Artist unkown Medium: Watercolor and graphite drawing? Classification: Paintings Old Accession Number: 96