The British Colonist was full with news from the American civil war and in February there was a fear that the British Empire would be drawn into this war.
On February 22nd 1862 the British Colonist had a letter from their London correspondent dates December 7th 1861. The fear in London was of imminent war with the Northern States of America. Much of the issue was related to the US navy blocking the south and from that repeatedly violating the neutrality of British ships.
In specific, a ship, the Spitifire, was boarded by the Americans in Nova Scotia waters.
I am certain that the people in Victoria were very concerned about a war with the US because the access back to England or Canada was all via the US. Victoria was very dependent on the connection to San Francisco.
A war would likely have meant an expedition would have come north from California and quickly conquered the Vancouver Island and British Columbia. It is not until 1865 that British Royal Navy moved their Pacific Station to Esquimalt from Valparaiso in Chile. In 1862 all there was in BC were a couple of very small militia units and the Royal Engineers.