The 1840s to Confederation

Carleton Martello Tower National Historic Site

Continued Conflicts with the US

A black and white engraving, showing the Tower, 2 signalling masts, and 6 people in the foreground. A view of Saint John and its harbour is seen in the background.
Carleton Martello Tower in the 1840s
© National Archives of Canada

Historians suggest that during the 1840s, the Carleton Martello Tower was possibly used by the British as a place to store gunpowder. Problems still continued to exist between the US and Great Britain well after the War of 1812 had ended.

Land disputes such as the Maine-New Brunswick Boundary Dispute and the Oregon Boundary Crisis did much to keep tempers flared on both sides. In response to this situation, it is quite possible that the British kept the Tower's powder magazine stocked during this uneasy decade.

Carleton Martello Tower functioned as a garrison for the first time in 1866. This time, Saint John was fearful of being invaded by the Fenians, a radical Irish-American group that hoped to capture British North America as ransom for Irish independence.

A recreation of the 15th Regiment's barracks, with table, bed, equipment, and uniform.
15th Regiment barracks

This threat resulted in a small detachment of British soldiers from the 15th Regiment of Foot being stationed at the Tower until 1867. Also, the Tower was armed for the first time since it had been built, and two 32-pounder smoothbore guns were positioned atop its flat roof.

Although these efforts to prepare the Tower were heroic, critics questioned the point of it all. Due to the development of rifled artillery and other advancements in military technology, the ability of Martello towers to withstand an attacking force was now severely limited.

Next part: The 20th Century

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