Colonel Arthur Rankin, a Canadian abolitionist eager to fight for the Union, secured permission to raise a large regiment. From the beginning, Rankin made it clear that he expected his men to fight with lances.
Newspaper editors in Toronto soon accused him of deliberately setting out to violate the Neutrality Act. Authorities refused his request for a leave of absence as commander of the Ninth Military District, Canada West. Because of these rebuffs, the sixteen hundred Canadian lancers expected by Washington to help put a quick end to the fray never entered it.