|Part of the Anglo-American Wars|
Sierran forces fire at retreating Canadian forces outside Fort Astoria
Astoria (independence faction)
Astoria (pro-Canada faction)
|Commanders and leaders|
| Richard Trist|
John C. Frémont
| Alexander Sinclair
Brg. Gen. George Francis Wainwright
500 light cavalrymen
600 militia irregulars
|Casualties and losses|
1 frigate sunken
2 frigates, 1 corvette sunken
The Eugene War (also known as the Astorian War, the Canadian–Sierran War, or the War of Canadian Aggression) was a war between Canada and Sierra in Astoria in 1866 during the early stages of the War of Contingency. It is widely regarded by historians to be a sub-conflict of the War of Contingency and the Anglo-American Wars which occurred during the second half of the 19th century.
Following the political turmoil of the United States government at the end of the American Civil War, American control over the Oregon Country was lost. The power vacuum left behind in Oregon Country resulted in Anglo-American settlers there declaring independence as Astoria. Neighboring Canada began encouraging its citizens to settle in Astoria under the pretense of preventing lawlessness by the early fall of 1865. On March 28, 1866, just ten days after the outbreak of the War of Contingency, Canada claimed the 1846 Oregon Treaty it had with the United States was null and void, thus reactivating its claims of territory south of the 49th parallel north. It started sending its troops into Astoria for a military occupation. Canada was met with virtually no resistance upon their capture of Astoria's capital in Eugene and set up a pro-Canadian government. Sierran intelligence had learned of Canadian ambitions in Astoria weeks prior to the announcement and Sierra mobilized its own troops to prevent Canadian annexation of Astoria. Sierra feared if Astoria became a Canadian client state, both countries' republicanism would isolate the lone monarchist state and support the Styxie, an anti-monarchist region neighboring Astoria. It declared war on Canada a week later, citing Canadian aggression in Astoria as its cause.
Canadian and Sierran forces met at Eugene on April 20, 1866. Sierra demanded that Canada relinquish its claims over Astoria, evacuate all military personnel from the region, and recognize the independence of Astoria. Canadian Brigadier General George Francis Wainwright refused the demand, resulting in open combat in Eugene. The Canadians were defeated there and were forced to retreat northward to Fort Astoria to await naval reinforcements from Vancouver. Numerous small battles and skirmishes occurred throughout southern Astoria during the months of May and June before Sierran forces were ready to besiege the Canadian garrison in Astoria. Canadian naval reinforcements arrived in Astoria, resulting in an early advantage for the Canadians before Sierra received support from the Sierran Royal Navy. The Siege of Fort Astoria lasted more than two months of initial stalemate before it fell. While the siege was underway, news of the Sierrans' strong retaliation had finally reached Ottawa and dissuaded the Canadian government from pursuing the war further as it turned its attention to the southern aggression of the United States' successor, the United Commonwealth. It believed ending the war in Astoria would allow Sierra to devote its war effort to Eastern North America, which was a greater military threat to Canada due to the expansionist United Commonwealth. Canada ordered its army and navy to retreat from Astoria on July 20, 1866, but word did not arrive until July 26 when Fort Astoria had already fallen to the Sierrans just three days prior. The Canadian government petitioned the release of captured forces in Astoria. Canada and Sierra negotiated a peace settlement known as the Fort MacKenzie Treaty whereby Canada would relinquish its claims in Astoria, recognize Astoria's independence, and oversee joint protection of Astoria's independence against a potential invasion by either Superior or the United Commonwealth. The treaty also marked the normalization of Canadian–Sierran relations as the two nations became political and military allies during the rest of the War of Contingency.
In Canada, the military defeat was regarded by the public as a national humiliation. The Canadian government's decision to shift its attention from Astoria to the United Commonwealth was deemed a practical necessity and enabled both it and Sierra to halt Federalist advances in the war. However, the ruling Patriot Party lost public support after it suffered tremendous losses in the 1867 elections to the Liberals and Conservatives directly as a result of its failures in the Eugene War. On the home front in Sierra, news of Sierra's military victory in Astoria boosted national morale in a public that was skeptical of Sierran military capabilities in the War of Contingency. It also confirmed that the reorganization of California as Sierra had strengthened the nation-state, allowing Parliament to pass more drafts to raise numbers in the army to combat the Federalists in Eastern North America. Astoria became a republic and adopted its own constitution on December 19, 1866, and joined the War of Contingency by sending a small regiment to defend Superior and the Deseret.
Background[edit | edit source]
Prior to 1846, Canada and the United States claimed the region that included all of modern-day Astoria. It was known as Southern Columbia to the former and Oregon Country to the latter. The two states signed the Oregon Treaty in 1846 whereby the United States would gain exclusive control over all lands south of the 49th parallel north (except on Vancouver Island and its associated islets), while Canada gained exclusive control over all land north of the line. Despite the treaty, American and Canadian citizens continued settling on both sides of the territory, easily crossing the porous border with little to no resistance from either government due to unofficially declared freedom of movement. In 1865, amid the rapidly deteriorating situation to the United States government and public order following the assassinations of President Abraham Lincoln and other government officials, civilians in the U.S.-controlled Oregon Territory seceded and declared their independence as the unrecognized Free State of Astoria. While the declaration of independence went largely ignored, the Canadian government encouraged mass settlement in Astoria to prevent "lawlessness" from descending in the region.
On March 28, 1866, Canada claimed the Oregon Treaty was no longer in effect due to the United States' perceived inability to maintain control over the extant territory, which was now under control of the self-declared Free State of Astoria. By repealing the treaty, Canada was able to reactivate its claims south of the 49th parallel north and began sending troops to oust the secessionist government in Oregon and occupy the territory. The United States government condemned the unilateral decision by the Canadian government but was otherwise unable to organize substantial resistance to the action. Meanwhile, Sierra had known of Canadian intentions to take over Oregon Country for weeks before Canada's announcement. The Sierran government opposed Canadian expansion into Oregon because it viewed Canada as a Pacific Coast competitor and its republican government posed a threat to Sierra. There were fears that the expansion of a neighboring power which had gained independence from a monarchy would embolden the republican movement in the Styxie, which bordered Oregon Country.