He was called out as a member of No. 3 Company, Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada (in which he’d served since at least 1865) in March 1866 for 23 days and then again in June 1866 to challenge the Fenian invasion. He was shot in the back and died on 2 June 1866 at the Battle of Ridgeway.
An unidentified journalist from the Toronto Leader came upon Defries and reported:
“He knew that he was dying. He requested me to take a ring from his finger and send it with a message to a young lady in Toronto. He also requested me to take his watch and send it to his father, whose address he gave me. This I attempted to do, but he could not endure to be touched. He told me it would do to take it after he was dead.”
The journalist then returned to help the dying Defries but discovered that his body had been moved. He found Defries dead in a back room at a tavern. When he attempted to remove Defries’ watch he found that it was now gone, presumably stolen.