Montreal, City of Secrets
300 Pages
English

Montreal, City of Secrets

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Description

Montreal hosted the Confederacy’s largest foreign secret service base during the Civil War. Montreal banks and other Canadian financial institutions held a million dollars or more in hard currency or gold to fund clandestine activities. When Jefferson Davis fled the U.S. in 1865, Montreal welcomed him and his family. Overrun with refugees, soldiers of fortune, spies, assassins, bankers and smugglers, Montreal was a pro “Secesh” town.
From the city’s grand hotels, plots of all sorts were hatched, including the infamous St. Albans raid and the Lincoln kidnapping, which mutated into an assassination. Influential British-Canadian bankers joined Confederates as they launched a successful assault on the new “Greenback.” When John Wilkes Booth was shot, a bank draft signed by Montreal banker and future mayor Henry Starnes was found in his coat pocket.
Surprises are not limited to the Confederacy. The level of corruption in the Northern war effort, as suggested by the names registered at the St. Lawrence Hall—Montreal’s finest hotel—is breathtaking. Opposition to Lincoln from both parties ran deeper than is generally acknowledged.
Based on original archival research and his previous books on the Civil War, Barry Sheehy challenges core tenets of the American Civil War narrative. Moreover, his case is greatly reinforced by the many photos taken by internationally celebrated photographer William Notman. A number of these photos have never been published before.

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Published 01 October 2017
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Barry Sheehy
MONTREAL CITY OF SECRETS
Barry Sheehy with Photographer Cindy Wallace
ontreal hosted the Confederacy’s largest foreign secret service base during the Civil War.
Montreal banks and other Canadian fnancial institutions held a million dollars or more in Mhard currency and gold to fund clandestine activities. When Jeferson Davis fed the U.S. in
1865, Montreal welcomed him and his family. Overrun with refugees, soldiers of fortune, spies, assassins,
bankers, and smugglers, Montreal was a pro “Secesh” town. MONTREAL
From the city’s grand hotels, plots of all sorts were hatched, including the infamous St. Albans raid
and the Lincoln kidnapping, which mutated into an assassination. Infuential British-Canadian bankers
joined Confederates as they launched a successful assault on the new “Greenback.” When John Wilkes CITY OF SECRETS
Booth was shot, a bank draft signed by Montreal banker and future mayor Henry Starnes was found in CONFEDERATE OPERATIONS IN MONTREAL DURING THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
his coat pocket.
Surprises are not limited to the Confederacy. The level of corruption in the Northern war efort, as
suggested by the names registered at the St. Lawrence Hall—Montreal’s fnest hotel—is breathtaking.
Opposition to Lincoln from both parties ran deeper than is generally acknowledged.
In this pioneering work, Barry Sheehy challenges core tenets of the Civil War narrative.
Barry Sheehy is an award-winning author of six books. His most recent, Savannah: Immortal City, was featured at the
prestigious Savannah Book Fair. His writings have appeared in historical and business publications worldwide. Born
and raised in Montreal, Barry Sheehy divides his time between Gabarus, Nova Scotia and Savannah, Georgia.
“Barry Sheehy lays out the case for the involvement of the Confederates
in a concise and convincing manner showing once and for all that Booth could
not have carried out his plot without their direct help. It is about time.”
– Edward Steers
“Sheehy skillfully spins tales of intrigue and treachery that challenge mainstream
interpretations of the American Civil War and Canada’s role in it.”
– John Boyko
$39.95 Canada
$34,95 US
www.barakabooks.com isbn 978-1-77186-123-6
City.couv.indd 1 2017-08-15 09:20“One of the most important keys to understanding John Wilkes Booth and the as-sassin
ation of Abraham Lincoln is the role of the Confederate operations in Montreal. It has
received too little attention from historians—until now. Barry Sheehy lays out the case
for the involvement of the Confederates in a concise and convincing manner showing
once and for all that Booth could not have carried out his plot without their direct help.
It is about time.”
– Edward Steers, author of Blood on the Moon, The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
“Sheehy has made an important contribution to our understanding of the American
Civil War and how Canada was both involved in and shaped by it. Montreal emerges
as a magnet that attracted dreamers, schemers, opportunists, and assassins. The many
photographs of people and places help bring the people and places of this fascinating
story to life. The book challenges preconceived notions of Abraham Lincoln, Sir John A.
Macdonald, the Confederacy, the war, Montreal, and Canada’s birth.”
– John Boyko, author of Blood and Daring: How Canad a
Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation
“For anyone who thought the Civil War had no more secrets to reveal, Montreal: City
of Secrets spills over with a story that is nothing less than incredible. It begins with
the author fnding a mysterious monument in Savannah’s Laurel Cemetery. That huge
slab of Canadian marble, topped with an angel holding her fnger to her lips, leads him
to Montreal’s leading 19th Century hotel, St. Lawrence Hall, and the guest register of
1864, where he fnds the names of not only leading Confederates, but Yankees as well,
Republicans, Democrats, businessmen, military leaders, and even the name of John
Wilkes Booth. What were they all doing at the same hotel in 1864? It’s a story of infuence
peddling, espionage, blockade running, kidnapping, assassination, and more.”
– Erik Calonius, author of The Wanderer:
The Last American Slave Ship and the Conspiracy that Set Its Sails.
City*.indd 2 2017-08-16 09:32MONTREAL
CITY OF SECRETS
City*.indd 3 2017-08-16 09:32City*.indd 4 2017-08-16 09:32Barry Sheehy
Images Arranged by Cindy Wallace
MONTREAL
CITY OF SECRETS
CONFEDERATE OPERATIONS IN MONTREAL
DURING THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
Montréal
City*.indd 5 2017-08-16 09:32All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval
system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
© Baraka Books 2017
isbn 978-1-77186-123-6
Book Design and Cover by Folio infographie
Editing and proofreading by Bronwyn Averett and Robin Philpot
Legal Deposit, 4th quarter 2017
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
Library and Archives Canada
Published by Baraka Books of Montreal
6977, rue Lacroix
Montréal, Québec h4e 2v4
Telephone: 514 808-8504
info@barakabooks.com
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Printed and bound in Quebec
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City*.indd 6 2017-08-16 09:32Prologue
Silence: The Confederacy
and Montreal
were stunned to learn they had been sculpted he Statue of “Silence” at Laurel Grove’s
in Canada at the Montreal Marble Works by Gettysburg cemetery in Savannah,
artist Robert Reid. Sourcing a major work of art TGeorgia marks the beginning of the jo- ur
from far away Montreal during the lean years of ney that led to the writing of this book, City of
Reconstruction was akin to sourcing it from the Secrets. In researching our Civil War Savannah
far side of the moon. We learned the statues had books Immortal City and Brokers, Bankers and Bay
been shipped to Savannah via Halifax without Lane, we took a keen interest in the Confederate
ever putting into a Northern port. The shipping Monument in Forsyth Park, the largest in th
and import duties exceeded the costs of the -oriSouth. Savannah is full of beautiful statues and
ginal art.works of art, and the Confederate monument,
I asked myself, why Montreal? We investigated which dominates the old “common” that served
and discovered deep, fascinating, and unexpected as a transit military encampment during the Civil
links between Montreal and the Confederacy, War, is among the most impressive. But my abs-o
including the beautiful city of Savannah. This lute favorite has always been the haunting statue
was a historic journey like no other, out of which of “Silence,” an angel holding her fnger to her
emerged a story of sedition, intrigue, violence lips calling for quiet and respect as she watches
and greed, but also one of fdelity and courage over her Confederate dead at Laurel Grove. I have
unto death. Stepping back, it all took one’s breath always thought the Angel’s whisper signaled not
away. For someone raised on the existing ca-lcijust Silence but suggested something yet to be
fed and simplistic American Civil War narrative discovered.
of a battle between good and evil, as defned by When we investigated the origins of the C-onfe
slavery, this turned the world upside down. The derate Monument and the “Silence” statue we
Prologu e] 7
City*.indd 7 2017-08-16 09:32information was more than disconcerting. Itj oined the great Anglophone diaspora, moving
was disorienting. This was particularly so for a abroad while also somehow drawn back to his
Canadian who had lived in and loved the Deep beloved Montreal. Although now and forever an
South but had dared write about the institution o efx ile, this is still a city I love.
slavery as it operated as a business in Savannah. As for the story, the more facts that poured in,
The book, while an award winner, was not uni-ver the more the tale of Montreal and the Confederacy
sally welcomed locally. As for the author, here wbaesc ame deeper, richer, darker, more complex and
someone born and raised in Montreal but who riddled with contradictions. l
Barry M. Sheehy
City*.indd 8 2017-08-16 09:32Table of Contents
CHAPTER 4 Prologue 7
AmericanPowerComestoMontreal 93Silence:TheConfederacyandMontreal
Powerbrokers 96
Introduction 13
Politicians 97
CHAPTER 1 No Questions Asked 102
Into the Ether 102MontrealandtheConfederacy 19
Hub of Confederate Secret Service Activity 19
CHAPTER 5
Confederate Operations TradingwiththeEnemy 107
Mounted out of Canada 21
Lincoln and Patronage 109
CHAPTER 2 A Faustian Bargain 110
ConfederateMontreal1861-1865 29 The Frenzy in Montreal 112
Turning Point — The Trent Crisis 36 Brokers, Agents and Speculators 116
Drama on the High Seas 38 How Much Cotton? 118
The Evolution of the Confederate
CHAPTER 6
Secret Service in Canada 43 Montreal,Halifax,Matamoros,
The Beginning 44
andNewYork 121
1864: The Confederacy Shifts Strategy 51
New York’s Dirty Little Secret 122
Complementary and Conficting Agendas 65
Halifax, New York, and the Montreal
Confederate Secret Service Fades Away 67
Connection 124
CHAPTER 3 Matamoros and New York 126
ConfederateCouriers 71
CHAPTER 7
A Hall of Mirrors 79
TheHiddenHand—JohnWilkesBooth
Separating Slater from Brown 82
inMontreal 129
St. Lawrence Hall and St. Catharines 83
Kidnapping the President 133
A “Secesh” Town 137
City*.indd 9 2017-08-17 09:12The Names Surrounding Boot h 138 CHAPTER 11
The Mysterious Sarah Slat er 140 Jeferson DavisinMontreal 187
American Politicians and Newspaper Me n141
APPENDIX A
Double-Carom 142
Characters in Montreal: Ten months in
The Hidden Hand 144
Montreal from June 1864 to April 18 65 193
CHAPTER 8
APPENDIX B
Leaks,Anomalies,andQuestions 147
Thomas Barnett’s Museum Visitors’ Book
Overlooked Footnote in Histo ry 152 Listings, June-November 1864 215
Perjury the Norm ? 154
APPENDIX CDunham and the Secretary of W ar 155
Jacob Thompson Reports to Judah John Surratt and Sarah Sla ter 157
Benjamin 221Links and Linkage s 159
Stanton’s Detectives in Montr eal 161 APPENDIX D
Unanswered Question s 163 Blockade Runners with Ties to Montr eal227
CHAPTER 9 APPENDIX E
TheBritishPlayersandTheirStories 165 Cotton Pass Signed by A. Lincol n 231
Lieutenant Colonel Garnet Wolseley Vi sits
APPENDIX F
Robert E. Lee 165
Map of Confederate Montreal Si tes 233
Lt. Colonel A.E. Clark-Kennedy
and the Great March Across Cana da 168 Notes 237
British Captains L.G. Phillips and E. Wynne
Bibliography 269
at the Battle of Fredericksb urg 170
Acknowledgements 285CHAPTER 10
St.AlbansRaid 177
Legal Dream Team 181
City*.indd 10 2017-08-16 09:32
Montreal in 1866 from Notre Dame Basilica, looking east. McCord Museum, Notman Collection, Montreal, QC, 1866. I-21048.1
City*.indd 11 2017-08-16 09:32City*.indd 12 2017-08-16 09:32Introduction
uring the Civil War (1861-1865), the Museum in Montreal and represents perhaps the
largest Confederate Secret Service base largest single repository of surviving Confederate Doutside of Richmond was located in Secret Service photographs.
Montreal. This organization was funded by the As we delved into the surviving Guest Books
Confederate Congress to the tune of a millionfr om Montreal’s leading hotel, St. Lawrence
dollars in gold or hard currencies in 1864. The Hall, and the recently recovered registers of the
Secret Service reported to Secretary of StatBea rnett’s Niagara Falls Museum, the story took
1Judah Benjamin. This was one of the reasons why on a darker hue. Not only were the Confederates
Jeferson Davis and his family immediately fed to present in strength in Montreal, but many of
Montreal after the war. Varina Davis frst took thLein coln’s enemies from the North were as well,
family north and Jeferson Davis followed as sooni ncluding Copperhead Democrats and Radical
as he was freed on bond from Fortress Monroe. Republicans. We discovered much of Wall Street
The Confederacy had friends and the remnants and America’s nascent military industrial c -om
of an organization in Montreal. We were able tpo lex in Montreal, apparently doing business with
identify and map the large Confederate Secreth e Confederacy. The level of corruption in the
Service apparatus operating in Montreal and - dis Northern war efort suggested by these American
covered that many key Confederates stayed at thep ower brokers in Montreal is at once breathtaking
same hotel, Montreal’s prestigious St. Lawrence and disquieting. Also present in the Montreal
Hall, and had their photos taken at the same st- uand Niagara areas were key members of the War
dio: Notman’s Studio on Bleury Street. Notman’s Department, the Judge Advocate General’s Ofce,
collection was later donated to the McCortdh e Federal National Detective Police, and the
Treasury Department. Much of Secretary of the
St. Lawrence Hall, St. James Street, Montreal. McCord
Treasury Salmon Chase’s presidential committee
Museum, Notman Collection, Montreal, QC, about 1890.
appears to be on hand.VIEW-1876
Introduction ] 13
City*.indd 13 2017-08-16 09:32William Notman, Montreal’s most prominent photographer, was a favorite of the Confederate
community in the city. Confederate agents, commissioners, and operatives went to his studio at
17 Bleury Street to have their photographs taken. Notman donated his entire collection to Montreal’s
McCord Museum. It provides a priceless reservoir of Civil War and post-Civil War images. Notman
Studio, 17 Bleury Street, McCord Museum, Notman Collection, Montreal, QC, 1859-60. N-0000.157
14 [ City of Secrets
City*.indd 14 2017-08-16 09:32What business called these senior American cially in Southern Ontario, but the general view
ofcials to Montreal, and to a hotel known to be of slavery was agnostic. Britain had abolished
closely associated with the Confederate Secrest lavery decades earlier and this was now viewed
Service? Civil War super banker Jay Cooke and as an American rather than a Canadian problem.
Edwin Stanton’s chief telegraph operator andE ven in the states that elected Lincoln there was
confidant Thomas T. Eckert were in Canada no great appetite for emancipation. This is clearly
along with Radical Republicans like James Ashley,r efected in Lincoln’s frst inaugural address.
James Harlan, James Wilson, John Bingham, John As for Lincoln’s war efort, Canada’s Tory go- v
Sherman, and Alexander R. Shepard, to name ernment, along with British authorities, viewed
but a few. Lincoln haters like New York Mayor a permanently divided United States as being in
Fernando Wood and his brother, Congressman the best interests of British North America. A
and newspaper editor Benjamin Wood, were unifed, militarized United States represented an
regulars at St. Lawrence Hall. Benjamin Woode xistential threat to Canadian and British i -nter
was on the Confederate payroll. It is evident thaetsts, . Great Britain had declared ofcial neutrality
by 1864, opposition to Lincoln was deeper, more in the war, recognizing both North and South
strident and more bipartisan, than is generally as legitimate and equal belligerents with whom
acknowledged. The full list of those present itn hey could do business; the same rules applied
Montreal will stagger anyone familiar with thtoe Canada. Not surprisingly, Canadian busin-ess
era and certainly challenge the existing mainm-en and bankers readily did business with the
stream American narrative regarding the CivilC onfederacy. Montreal played host to blockade
War and Lincoln. (See Appendices A and B the running and contraband for cotton trading on
names of those in Canada 1864-1865.) an enormous scale. Arguably, the single largest
It’s not just America’s mainstream Civil War cotton deal of all time, worth half a billion dollars
narrative that will be bufeted by these new facts o .r more in Greenbacks, was orchestrated out of
Canadian history will be likewise bruised. Most Montreal in 1864. This enormous contraband for
Canadians naively assume Canada was suppor- t cotton trade had the support of both Richmond
ive of Lincoln’s war because of their collectivaen d Washington and, in particular, Lincoln’s
opposition to slavery. This is simply not true. White House.
Although Canada was the last stop on the un- der Meanwhile, the Confederate Secret Service
ground railway, the number of slaves who made was allowed to deepen and expand operations
it safely to Canada from 1840-1865 was relatively in Canada while authorities looked the other
small, somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000, way. It was only after the St. Albans Raid t-hor
2with the lower number being more like Mly.ost oughly embarrassed the colonial government in
settled in Ontario. There was certainly a -comCanada that steps were fnally taken to rein in
mitted abolitionist movement in Canada, es-pe Confederate operatives in Canada.
Introduction ] 15
City*.indd 15 2017-08-16 09:32Canadian banks had no difficulty ho-ld Starnes, like Canada’s frst Prime Minister, John
ing rich Confederate deposits in their vaults A. . Macdonald, hailed from Kingston, Ontario. He
Cashier’s checks for thousands of dollars issuedw as also a close school friend of George-Étienne
by Canadian banks were found in possession Cartier. Macdonald and Cartier are considered
of Confederate agents and raiders arrested into b e the fathers of Canadian Confederation.
the U.S. The Ontario Bank on Place d’Armes in These are just some of the many secrets
Montreal and the Niagara and District Bank inM ontreal has kept hidden for 150 years. The p- ic
St. Catharines were efectively controlled by thteu re presented is hardly comforting. This is not
Confederates. The Ontario Bank regularly launG-one with The Wind. City of Secrets is a raw, sordid
dered money for the Confederate Secret Servicest, ory, riddled with greed and treachery but not
m aking cashier’s checks out to employees who without redemption. There are certainly villains
endorsed them to the intended recipients, whichh ere but also genuine heroes and, more no- ta
included senior American politicians. A c-ash bly, heroines. This is a tale of war, intrigue and
ier’s check signed by Ontario Bank President betrayal but also one of courage and love. In its
Henry Starnes, soon to be Mayor of Montreal,h uman dimensions, it is almost Shakespearean.
was found on the body of John Wilkes Booth This was not what we expected when we set out
after he was shot to death at the Garrett farm i tno d iscover the links between Savannah’s ha-unt
Virginia. It was entered into the record durinig n g statues and Montreal but this is the story we
the trial of the Lincoln Conspirators in 1865d.i scovered and it is ours to te ll.

City*.indd 16 2017-08-16 09:32This is an early photograph of the beautiful neoclassical Bank of Montreal building taken from the tower of Notre Dame Basilica.
The building was designed by architect John Wells. This incredible photo predates 1859 as the Dome was removed that year
and the new headquarters of the Bank were constructed adjacent to the branch in the space on the left in this photo. (A new
dome was added early in the twentieth century.) The Bank of Montreal and the nearby Ontario Bank would play important roles
in the story of Confederate Montreal. This beautiful structure still graces the Place d’Armes today. McCord Museum, Notman
Collection, Montreal, QC, 1858-1859. MP-0000-2901
City*.indd 17 2017-08-16 09:3218 [ City of Secrets
City*.indd 18 2017-08-16 09:32Chapter 1
Montreal
and the Confederacy
The Confederate Secret Service rented entire HUB OF CONFEDERATE
SECRET SERVICE ACTIVITY suites of rooms in grand hotels such as the
St. Lawrence Hall on St. James Street (now Saint-During the American Civil War, the Confederate
government had a substantial presence in Jacques) and the Donegana Hotel on Notre Dame
Street. Dooley’s bar in St. Lawrence Hall ofered Canada, centered in St. Catharines, Toronto,
and especially Montreal. Inside the vaults of th Me int Juleps year round, and the Montreal Gazette
and the Montreal Telegraph were always ava-ilBank of Montreal, the Ontario Bank, and other
Canadian fnancial institutions as far away asa ble at the hotel’s newsstand. Both papers were
the Niagara and District Bank in St. Catharinesge, nerally sympathetic to the Confederacy’s call
the Confederates kept on deposit a million d- olfor independence. St. Lawrence Hall had its own
lars or more in hard currencies and gold to funtd elegraph ofce to provide current war news from
1 America. On the main foor of the hotel was an clandestine activities T.his was an enormous
sum for the time. Room and board at Montreal’s elegant lobby, which included both ladies’ and
men’s smoking rooms, a purser’s ofce, a mail best hotels ranged from $1.75-$2.50 per day and a
major in the Confederate army was paid $1200 a room, and a frst-class barber shop. Downstairs
was Dooley’s Bar and a large billiards room.year. The Ontario Bank, located on Place d’Armes
in Montreal, was so closely associated with the On any given day, Confederate couriers, r -aid
ers, blockade runners, businessmen, and re -fuConfederate Secret Service that Southern bankers
were sometimes perceived as employees or direct gees could be found in the parlors and bars of the
Donegana, St. Lawrence Hall, the nearby Ottawa associates of the bank. The Confederate Secret
Service efectively controlled the institution. Hotel, and other hostelries throughout the city.
Montreal and the Confederac y19 ]
City*.indd 19 2017-08-16 09:32The grand Ottawa Hotel still graces Old Montreal today, the last of the City’s Civil War spy hotels. McCord
Museum, Notman Collection. Montreal, QC, 1874. II-10908
20 [ City of Secrets
City*.indd 20 2017-08-16 09:32More History from Baraka Books
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City*.indd 299 2017-08-16 09:32Barry Sheehy
MONTREAL CITY OF SECRETS
Barry Sheehy with Photographer Cindy Wallace
ontreal hosted the Confederacy’s largest foreign secret service base during the Civil War.
Montreal banks and other Canadian fnancial institutions held a million dollars or more in Mhard currency and gold to fund clandestine activities. When Jeferson Davis fed the U.S. in
1865, Montreal welcomed him and his family. Overrun with refugees, soldiers of fortune, spies, assassins,
bankers, and smugglers, Montreal was a pro “Secesh” town. MONTREAL
From the city’s grand hotels, plots of all sorts were hatched, including the infamous St. Albans raid
and the Lincoln kidnapping, which mutated into an assassination. Infuential British-Canadian bankers
joined Confederates as they launched a successful assault on the new “Greenback.” When John Wilkes CITY OF SECRETS
Booth was shot, a bank draft signed by Montreal banker and future mayor Henry Starnes was found in CONFEDERATE OPERATIONS IN MONTREAL DURING THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
his coat pocket.
Surprises are not limited to the Confederacy. The level of corruption in the Northern war efort, as
suggested by the names registered at the St. Lawrence Hall—Montreal’s fnest hotel—is breathtaking.
Opposition to Lincoln from both parties ran deeper than is generally acknowledged.
In this pioneering work, Barry Sheehy challenges core tenets of the Civil War narrative.
Barry Sheehy is an award-winning author of six books. His most recent, Savannah: Immortal City, was featured at the
prestigious Savannah Book Fair. His writings have appeared in historical and business publications worldwide. Born
and raised in Montreal, Barry Sheehy divides his time between Gabarus, Nova Scotia and Savannah, Georgia.
“Barry Sheehy lays out the case for the involvement of the Confederates
in a concise and convincing manner showing once and for all that Booth could
not have carried out his plot without their direct help. It is about time.”
– Edward Steers
“Sheehy skillfully spins tales of intrigue and treachery that challenge mainstream
interpretations of the American Civil War and Canada’s role in it.”
– John Boyko
$39.95 Canada
$34,95 US
www.barakabooks.com isbn 978-1-77186-123-6
City.couv.indd 1 2017-08-15 09:20