We have been, as re-enactors, frequently asked: "Why, as Canadians, are you re-enacting an American War?"
Anywhere from 33,000 to 55,000 British North Americans (soon to be Canadians, with Confederation taking place in 1867) took part in this conflict. Numbers alone place the Canadian participation in this conflict just behind World War I and World War II, and even ahead of the Korean War. When you factor in a population in 1860 of only 3.5 million people, it would be comparable to, with our present population of over 37 million, to 350,000 to 580,000 taking part. This means that Canadian participation was very significant.
29 Canadians won the Congressional Medal of Honor, the United States highest decoration for bravery and 4 Canadians rose to General rank during the American Civil War.
Canadians were at Gettysburg, including Little Round Top where the 20th Maine, commanded by Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain fought a desperate battle to save the flank, as otherwise the outcome of the battle, perhaps the whole war, could have been changed; the 4th Michigan, Company C, with Canadians fought in the Wheatfield, fighting a desperate battle where the field changed hands 5 times; Canadians were at Appomattox Court House, witnessing General Lee's surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to General Grant and the Army of the Potomac.
Sadly, at least 7,000 Canadians gave up their lives fighting in this conflict.
A recent book, written by John Boyko, Blood and Daring: How Canada Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation (2013) illustrates in great detail not only Canada's participation in the American Civil War, but also how much it impacted Canada becoming an independent country in 1867.