Bordering a War: Transnational Volunteers to the American Civil War from the Eastern Townships


  • Jane Jenson Université de Montréal



Transnational volunteering during the Civil War by soldiers born in British North America (BNA) continues to intrigue Canadians. Nonetheless, distinguishing between those who crossed the border to enlist and the many BNA-born soldiers already living in the United States has proven difficult. With a new database of volunteers who left the Eastern Townships to enlist in Vermont, this article assesses three propositions drawn from historians’ work. It refutes the idea that transnational volunteers were primarily mercenary, enlisting late when bounties were high. It partially confirms the proposition that enlistment was an immigration strategy. The third proposition that transnational volunteering was a borderland practice of those with close ties of family or religious practice to the United States holds for these border crossers.

Author Biography

Jane Jenson, Université de Montréal

Jane Jenson is Professeure émérite at the Université de Montréal.