The first unusual thing we came across was a house with all the windows smashed, where destruction was clearly intended. It was the property of a1 Mr. Mcintosh, whose brother's place we ha& just left. Grain was lying about here and there, as if placed to feed horses, in which operation the enemy had but a short time before been evidently disturbed. We spent a few minutes examining the premises, which was fortunate for the General and for us, as it gave the scouts in front an opportunity of getting a little further in advance, and thus giving the General so much more warning of the presence and intended action of the enemy.
We had hardly left this house, to proceed on our way, when Captain Johnston, commanding the advanced scouts, reported to me that he had struck thirteen camp-fires still warm, and a heavy trail leading away from them. I reported the circumstance to the General, who told me to obtain further information. I then ordered Captain Johnston to take the leading section, follow up the trail, and report to me. We meantime marched on.
They had not been gone many minutes when I heard, bang! bang! and immediately after, a volley was fired at us, which, however, struck the trees in front. I gave the command "Left wheel, gallop !" and we charged down upon thirty or forty mounted men who were standing in the shelter of a bluff. When we came upon them they at once turned their horses and bolted for a ravine, or gully, about a hundred and fifty yards distant, dismounting as they galloped. I instantly gave the word to my men, "Halt! Dismount! Extend in skirmishing order, and lie down!" Simultaneously, the enemy, who were in the ravine and out of sight, opened a murderous fire upon us. I said, "Fire away, boys, and lie close; never mind if you don't see anything, fire ; "-my object being to keep the enemy down in the gully and hold them in check till the supports came up. The rebels would pop up from the ravine, take a snap shOt, and disappear in an instant. The General at once sent back Captain Wise, A.B.C., to hurry up the main body, in which duty his horse was shot. We here sustained the whole of the enemy's fire, which was very hot, and unfortunately fatal. Captain Gardiner, who was beside me, was the first to say, "Major! I am hit." Almost immediately, Langford called out that he was hit. Bruce was the next victim. Then poor D'Arcy Baker called out, "Oh, Major! I'm hit 1" as he received his death-wound by a bullet crashing into his breast. Then Gardiner called out, "I am hit again !" Langford, too, was wounded a second time. I told the wounded to drag themselves to the rear the best way they could and get out of further danger; ordering the remainder to hold on and fire away.
The anxiety of the moment, hearing the groans of my comrades and the continuous and disastrous fire of the enemy, was very great. But to have allowed the breeds to come up from the ravine upon the approaching supports, I felt, would have been so fatal, that I kept my men firing away, and I looked anxiously back for the arrival of the infantry, which, when we attacked the rebels, was half a mile in our rear.
The scouts who were extended in skirmishing order, and who had been in advance of the column, now began to gallop in. They attacked the enemy from other points which tended somewhat to draw their fire from us. But so far, having sustained little damage, the enemy were becoming bolder, and one brave came out in full view at the top of the bank, and danced a war-dance for the purpose of stimulating his comrades. He was, however, promptly disposed of by a bullet from Sergeant Stewart's rifle, which effectually prevented any further foolish exposures, for the half-breeds now kept themselves well under shelter of the ravine.
Feeling certain that in a few minutes all the horses would be slaughtered, I had ordered them to be let loose to save them, and they went galloping back to the rapidly approaching column. The first detachment came up. in about fifteen minutes, during which we managed to keep the enemy in check and under cover of the gully. Captain Clark's company of the 90th was the first to come up, and he himself was one of the earliest victims, among the riflemen, of the rebel bullets. "C" School of Infantry, under Major Smith, arrived about the same time, and next came the artillery, which was speedily brought into action, Captain Drury opening fire upon the enemy, over our heads. The remainder of the troops marched up in rapid succession, the enemy the while keeping up a hot fire from the ravine, only exposing themselves for an instant as they took a snap shot.
The ravine at this point forms an angle, the left arm of which descends almost perpendicularly to the bottom. Both bank and bottom were densely covered with bush, and this formed an excellent protection for the rebels along the course of the ravine, and up and down the stream. The flat is about a hundred yards broad, through which the stream, about ten feet in width, meanders. The abrupt banks are five or six feet high, and were covered with long grass and occasional willow bushes, forming a second protection for the rebels, as they stood up to their waists in water in the bed of the stream. Stretched along this ravine, occupying a tract a quarter of a mile in length, the enemy lay, some two hundred and fifty strong. At the beginning of the engagement they had their horses, to the number of about a hundred, tied up to the trees in the bottom of the ravine, showing that they evidently did not expect defeat, and that they intended to entrap General Middleton's column as it crossed by the trail. The formation of the column, by the line of scouts that had always preceded our advance, precluded the possibility of a surprise. So, instead of the enemy drawing us into a trap, they got themselves into that position, little thinking that the General's movements would bring him and the force so early to the spot, or that our advance would be so well protected. Fifty-five of the enemy's horses were shot before the day was over, causing as much sorrow to the half-breeds as the loss of their comrades. The horses they had when they fired at us first were allowed to run loose when the rebels jumped off their backs, and some of my men, while under fire, captured fourteen of them, and tied them up in a bluff to await the close of the battle.
The companies of the 90th, under Colonel Mackeand, arrived in quick succession, General Middleton directing them. Two companies of this battalion (" B" and "C," under Captains Ruttan and Wilkes) under command of Major Boswell, were ordered to advance to the left where an attempt was being made to out-flank us. With a few of the men left we joined Major Buchan, who was in command of three other companies of the 90th (under Captains Forest, Worsnip, and Whitla), and Major Smith, in command of "C" School of Infantry. Our object was to defeat a flanking movement of the enemy on our right.
The same tactics displayed by the half-breeds with Major Crozier at the Duck Lake fight were being pursued here, and an attempt was made to enclose us on three sides. But the steadiness of the troops, who advanced and "C" companies of the 90th had attacked the left flank, causing the retreat of a portion of the enemy down the ravine to escape in that direction The casualtte8 on our left were as great as in other parts of the field, for the men had crossed the ravine, under the immediate command of the General, and cleared the front on that flank, afterwards returning and taking up a position on the brow of the hill, below which the rebels made the first stand.
About this time the fire of the enemy considerably slackened, and their comrades at this point discovered that they had been deserted by the main body to the right and left of them. But the firing was resumed with great vigour when they found that it now became necessary for them to sell their lives as dearly as possible.
An attempt was here made to clear the bush at the bottom of the angle of the ravine, which was humourously described as "the hornet's nest" With this object, Captain Ruttan, with his company of the 90th, and Captain Peters, with the dismounted artillery, descended to the bed of the creek The former crossed it, and pushed into the hush, while the latter advanced up the right bank But the enemy retired through the bush keeping out of sight and picking off the advancing troops, so that they had to take up a position, under cover, in the bed of the creek, where they were joined shortly after by Colonel Houghton and Captain Wise, with reinforcements. At the same time, eight of my men under Quartermaster Cox, with a few of the artillery and 90th, co-operated by attempting to advance over the brow; but all were obliged to retire with several casualties. DeManolly, of the artillery, was killed, and Perrin, Thompson, King, and Sergeant Stewart, of my corps, were wounded. At the bottom of the ravine, Lieut. Swinford received his death wound, and Wheeler of the 90th, and Cook, of the artillery, were killed. Captain Wise, A.D.C., was wounded at this time, and many other casualties also occurred. A gun was brought up to cover the retirement of this advanced line, which, though it failed, was a gallant attempt to clear out "the hornet's nest."
The General shortly afterwards sent Captain Drury with a gun (supported by his own men, and by "C" School, under Major Smith), across the ravine to the left, to shell the apparently impregnable position. Though the range was too close to effect much with a shell, Captain Drury for a time silenced the enemy's fire. Nor could the infantry accomplish much, as the rebels, while the gun was operated, lay at the bottom of their rifle pits, secure from harm. It was simply impossible to see anything of them to fire at. One gunner was wounded here, and my horse was shot from under me, while I was standing beside the gun.
While this was going on, the column under Colonel Montizambert and Lord Melgund, some two miles distant on the left bank of the river, heard the heavy firing and the rage of battle proceeding, and their chagrin at not being with us was very great. But they vigorously set to work to make preparations to cross; and, happily, Gen. Middleton's foresight, in bringing the ferry with the wire rope from Clarke's Crossing, gave them the means of doing so. But, before a crossing could be effected, oars had to be hewn out of the poplar timber, as the wire rope could not be speedily stretched ; and the scow was rowed over the current, a tedious operation. Many of the men, in their eagerness to cross, were anxious to swim over, not knowing what was happening, and, fearing the danger our small column might be exposed to. One can well imagine their feelings as they were forced to listen to the fire of artillery and the rattle of musketry for several hours before they could ascertain the cause or the result. However, by the combined exertions of Colonel Grasett, Major Jarvis, Captain French, Lord Melgund, and Colonel Montizambert, the officers in command of the various corps forming the left column, a crossing was effected, and early in the afternoon a portion of the Grenadiers, under Colonel Grasett, and the Winnipeg Field Battery, with Colonel Montizambert and Lord Melgund, immediately marched up to the scene of action. By this time the battle may be said, however, to have been over, for the enemy had all retreated, excepting the small detachment hidden in the narrow angle of the ravine. Protected by their rifle-pits and the woods, like rats in a hole, there they were, completely surrounded and preparing to sell their lives as dearly as possible. The Grenadiers now relieved, some of the companies of the 90th, and took up the position so gallantly held by the Winnipeg Rifles.
The question now was: "Will the surrounded rebels be cleaned out by a charge upon their position;?" and an appeal was made to the General to decide the question. With characteristic humanity, the General, however, replied "No, it will cost more lives, and I have lost too many already; their capture will not affect the work of the day." The men who had borne the. brunt of the battle were ready. to undertake the task; Colonel Grasett and his men were also anxious to take part in the day's work, and to bring it to. a decisive conclusion; while Capt. Mason of the 10th volunteered the services of his company. But the General was obdurate. Knowing the determined character of the men we had to deal with, and the difficulties of approaching them through bush and brush to find their whereabouts, there is no doubt that had the charge been made many more valuable lives would have been sacrificed to gain a slight advantage. The General's good sense in refusing to make the charge was therefore to be commended.
No greater bravery, heroism, devotion duty, or discipline could be expected from any troops, than was manifested at this unequal fight at Fish Creek. There was no wavering, no thought of a retreat, but rather a dogged determination to hold their ground, under the galling fire of an unseen enemy. The critics who sympathize with the rebels have tried to represent that with the superior arms and the superior numbers of General Middleton's force, no other result was to be expected over the foe. But without wishing to disparage the bravery of the enemy, it is well to remember that on this occasion the actual fighting force which took part in the battle did not exceed three hundred. The rear-guard, the orderlies, and the non-combatants of the force, with few exceptions, were ordered to remain in rear to protect the transport. Gabriel Dumont, over his own signature, on the other hand, acknowledges to having had two hundred and eighty men on the rebel side, which I feet sure, from what I saw and heard, was below the, number. Besides this force, the enemy had the advantage of knowing the country, and had selected a naturally strong position, rendered still more strong by their ingeniously constructed rifle-pits. Moreover, every man of them had been accustomed from boyhood to the use of fire-arms, by which numbers of them live. Out of our three hundred men engaged, one officer and nine men were killed, and four officers and thirty-eight men were wounded, besides minor casualties which were never reported.
Individual instances of heroism were not wanting to make up the brilliant record of the fight; but as it is not my place to distinguish them, I shall leave it to their comrades, in recalling the memories of this eventful day for Canada, to mark them out for special admiration.
Out of my total strength, which was forty armed men, mounted and dismounted, D'Arcy Baker received a death- hurt, and seven others were severely wounded. About the same percentage of the other forces engaged fell during the day, besides Captain Wise and Lieutenant Doucet, the General's two A. D. C.'s, both of whom were severely wounded, and the General himself came off with a bullet hole through his fur cap.
Major Buchan, of the 90th, was the first to arrive after the fight commenced, and writing shortly after to a friend, thus describes the opening of the battle :- "Volley after volley broke the stillness of the clear morning. Vaulting into my saddle-for I had been walking quietly along with my horse's bridle over my arm-and passing the various sections of the advanced guard, who were already extending for attack, I galloped to the front. When I got around the curve on the trail and came to the edge of the bluffs, where a plain opened, a terrible sight was before me. Riderless horses were scattered about, half a dozen or so of them struggling in death's agonies. Some wounded scouts endeavoured to crawl to the rear, while the remainder were lying flat and briskly returning the fire of the enemy, who were unseen, save by the puffs of smoke which came from the further side of the plain, but whose presence was made very manifest by the whizzing "zip" and "ping" of the bullets as they flew over our heads. My appearance was the signal for a volley at myself, which made me realize, as I did all through the day, that mounted officers were the enemy's special targets. The men extended in good shape as they came up, and immediately opened fire from an advantageous position on the edge of the scrub, and gradually crept forward towards the enemy, while the wounded scouts crawled back behind the first bluff in front of which were our fellows. Not five minutes afterwards, Capt. Clark of "F" company was struck, as he was kneeling in the scrub directing the fire of his sharpshooters. Presently the guns of "A" Battery came up, and Capt. Peters opened fire, dropping his shells with splendid effect. The roar of the cannon and the scream of the bursting shells gave encouragement to those engaged on our side and evidently dismayed the enemy."
Towards four o'clock in the afternoon, the General ordered the firing to cease, and the small body of the enemy still remaining were only too well satisfied to abandon the conflict Comparative quietness now reigne„, and an opportunity was given the doctors to attend to the wounded, among whom they had already been busy. Dr. Orton, M.P., brigade surgeon; Dr. Rolston, of my troop; Dr. Grant, of the artillery; Dr Whiteford, of the 90th, were all doing their best to relieve the distressed and suffering men. They were moderately well-prepared with instruments and bandages, although, not being accustomed to war or expecting such calls upon their resources, they were somewhat deficient. A corral, about six hundred yards from the ravine, had been formed of the transport by Mr. Bedson, assisted by Mr. Secretan, and in the centre of this an hospital was improvised. The casualty list was anxiously conned, and was found to amount to eight killed, and forty-four wounded.
The war correspondents, Mr. Chambers, of the Montreal Star; Mr. Ham, of the Toronto Mail and the Winnipeg Times; Mr. Davis, R.M.C., of the Toronto Globe and the Winnipeg Free Press; Mr. Johnstone,. of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and Mr. Flynn, of the Winnipeg Sun, were now busily engaged completing their hastily written reports, conveying information of the fight to the people of Canada, whose anxiety was great to know the fate of their friends among the troops, and whose hearts were to be torn by the sad news.
The General ordered me to supply two couriers for the conveyance of despatches to the telegraph station at Clarke's Crossing, twenty-four miles distant, The honour of bearing these despatches fell to Sergeant Dalton and Corporal Marriott, and the correspondents took advantage to send by them their accounts of the engagement. I sent a telegram to my wife, to acquaint our friends of the result of the day, -being off the line of communication, -so that no unfounded rumours might distress them. Before the following night it was received, the message having travelled twenty-four miles from Fish Creek at our end, and sixty miles by road to Russell at the other end, which, it will be admitted, is remarkable despatch.
The General had now to determine what his next best course should be. But his first anxiety was for the wounded. He instructed Lord Melgund and Capt. Haig to select a suitable camping-ground in the neighbourhood, which would at the same time protect the crossing of the remainder of the troops from the left bank of the river, and be safe from surprise. They found an open space, about half a mile to the left of the battle-ground, near the Saskatchewan, and close to the gully of Fish Creek, which there empties into the river.
The wounded were conveyed thither in the ambulance, the transport next, and then the troops were gradually withdrawn from the scene of conflict. Thus ended the most severe battle that the Canadian soldiery of the present day have had to fight.
Had we had supports, the day might have been carried with less loss of life by a charge on the enemy's position at the commencement of the fighting; but the men lacked the experience they gained after the battle of Batoche. Apart from this fact, however, it would have been too risky with so small a force at disposal to have charged down into the ravine, without reinforcements to fall back upon.
The Grenadiers were the last to leave the field towards dusk. When they had got about three hundred yards from the battle-field, a party of about fifty horsemen came out of the woods on the opposite side of the ravine and gave their war-whoop These were evidently the reinforcements Gabriel Dumont had sent down from Batoche, for they did not show themselves while the troops were on the field. The word was given, "right-about-turn," and the troops were returning to the battlefield, when the enemy once more disappeared in the bush. As the General determined to pursue the attack no further, the order was once more given to march into camp. We all went into camp, and put out strong pickets and sentries, which, after the fatigue of the day, was no light task for tired officers, and men to perform. But it was done with cheerful alacrity and steadiness. Our night duty consisted in furnishing a mounted patrol, which every two hours circled the camp outside the pickets. This was the most risky duty the mounted men had to. perform. We kept from a quarter of a mile to half a mile outside the pickets, and had to run the gauntlet of every sentry and answer to their challenges. The sentries performed their duties with a great degree of faithfulness. Lord Melgund, going the rounds one very dark night, was met by, "Who goes there?" "Rounds." "What rounds?" "Grand rounds." "Stand, Grand rounds, and put up your hands," and the sentry came down to the charge. Lord Melgund called out, "Come to the port, sir." The sentry's reply was, "No, you don't," until he became convinced that he was not being taken in by a deceitful enemy. On another occasion the patrol came and woke me up about one o'clock in the morning, and told me that one of the sentries had drawn a bead on them, and that the sentries' orders were to shoot at sight. I had to get up and go and see that the orders were corrected. This was after we had joined General Strange's men, in our chase after Big Bear, and when the sentries who were on piquet the first night we joined forces had not been accustomed to the mounted patrol. This duty General Middleton always required to be performed, and hearing my patrol moving through the dark, they took them for Indians, and very nearly fired upon them.
One sad but necessary duty had on the following day to be performed - the burial of the poor fellows who had been sent to their last home by the fatal bullets of the enemy. Wrapped up in their blankets, the bodies were placed on stretchers, and mournfully the troops followed them to their last resting-place, the General reading the burial service in an impressive and solemn manner. Their graves were covered up, and a sketch made of the position in which they lay, for the benefit of their friends. The General, before dismissing the troops to their separate parades, addressed them in these brief but affecting words: "Men! your comrades did their duty and have nothing to regret." D'Arcy Baker, not sinking till the day after the battle, was buried the following morning beside his comrades in arms. Before leaving the camp a hundred waggon loads of stone were hauled, and a huge cairn, surmounted by a wooden cross, was erected over the spot where lay in honour their country's dead.
Two nights after the battle of Fish Creek, we were alarmed by the report of a rifle and the summons, "Guard, turn out!" The whole camp was astir at once, and, in the most orderly and self-possessed manner, fell-in on their parade-grounds within three minutes from the first alarm. The General, who was on horseback in a moment, rode off to visit the pickets and ascertain the cause of alarm. Three mounted men were reported as having been seen approaching the near picket, and not answering to the challenge the sentry fired, but nothing more was heard of them. After half an hour's anxious wondering the troops were turned in.
At dawn I was awakened by a stranger, a transport-officer, who related his adventures of the past night. It appears that he was in charge of thirty-five transport-waggons loaded with supplies from Humboldt, and just in time discovered that he was on the wrong trail and marching straight into the enemy's camp. At six o'clock the previous night he had left the teams formed up for defence, to try and find our whereabouts, and struck the camp about one o'clock in the morning. This was the cause of the alarm. Not knowing whether we were friends or foes, he refused to answer to the challenge, and on hearing the whiz of the bullets, dismounted and lay down on the prairie till daybreak. He now wanted an escort to go off and convoy his teams into camp, which the General ordered me to furnish, and we arrived back in safety with the waggons, about six o'clock in the evening.
Poor D'Arcy Baker, who was lying severely wounded in one of the hospital tents, on hearing the shots fired at this night alarm, raised himself up, called for his horse and rifle, staggered to the door of the tent, and fell dead from the exhaustion of his efforts. The following lines on the gallant trooper's death, from the pen of Mr. Murdock, of Birtle, indicate the sympathy of our friends:
"My rifle and my horse," the soldier said,The General now resolved to place his left column again on the other side of the river It took two days to complete the crossing, and when that was accomplished there was nothing to relieve the routine of camp-life which now set in. The infantry took advantage of the time to drill their men and to instruct them in the various military duties which they were daily called upon to perform. Our time was more actively employed in furnishing escorts to hay trains and transports, and in sending couriers with the General's despatches, which were frequent and on long distances, as we were twenty miles from the telegraph station. Gunner Wood, our excellent telegraph operator, soon laid a field-line, however, into the camp from across the river, where the wires ran on the way to Prince Albert.
As forth with vigorous step he quickly came;
On his young brow the morning sunlight play'd,
And life was centered in his active frame.
By winding streams 'far o'er the plain we go,
Where dark ravines and woody bluffs appear,
Where'er a swarthy, treacherous Indian foe
May hide, to burst upon our flashing rear.
'Tis ours to guard the friends who come behind,-
'Tis ours to find and search the dangerous shade;
Perchance our lives we lose, but never mind,
When duty calls let no man be afraid.
The sulphurous smoke is drifting to the sky,
And horse and rider on the plain are spread;
The ambushed foe, in sullen terror fly,
The bold and brave are now amongst the dead.
With shattered heart, the stricken soldier lies,
The fatal wound has almost ceased to bleed;
The dying warrior vainly seeks to rise,
And begs once more, his rifle and his steed.
Forever more the youthful limbs are still,
The young, the gallant, and impulsive brave
Now rests beside the far-off western bill,
And wild flowers blossom by his lonely grave
The General went over on Sunday morning to visit the scene of battle; and the fight of Friday was had over again in the vivid descriptions of individual experiences. The houses were all deserted, and left evidences of a hurried flight having taken place. We found the dead bodies of three Indians, which, with the eight killed and the eleven wounded that Gabriel Dumont, in his official report to Riel, stated were his casualties, made up the total loss of the rebels. The shelter of the ravine had reduced their casualties very much below ours, who had to fight in the open and exposed prairie.
There was, of course, a little sadness in camp on account of the death of so many comrades, and this was deepened by the receipt of the news of the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Kennedy, of the 90th Battalion of Winnipeg Rifles, who at the time of the outbreak of the Rebellion was in Egypt in connection with the brigade of Canadian boatmen, formed for the transport service. As soon as the news of the insurrection reached him he started to join his own regiment, which he had raised only the previous year, and made all haste to return to Canada. It had been arranged that he was to be received by the Queen at Windsor, on his way through England, but stricken with smallpox almost at the moment of his arrival, he lingered only a few days, to die far from his own home. Colonel Kennedy left behind him a name honoured and respected not only among the people of his own Province and the Dominion, but by all who had followed his career and noted the brilliant services he rendered the Mother Country during the Soudan campaign. The news of his death was a deep shock to all ranks in his battalion, who had eagerly looked forward to his soon joining them; but not only was the gallant Colonel's death felt by his own regiment, but by all those who had the opportunity of knowing and appreciating his manly qualities. His funeral, in England, was attended by representatives of the most prominent personages in the land, and by some of the highest officers in the service; and I am happy to say that in appreciation of his important services to the nation, the Imperial Government has granted a handsome pension to his widow and children. The Provincial Government also, wishing to show the appreciation which Manitoba had for so valiant a son, created a new precedent in the Civil Service, by appointing Mrs. Kennedy to the position of Registrar in the city of Winnipeg, which had been held by her husband.
The General now awaited the arrival of the steamboat, which had left Saskatchewan Landing, near Swift Current, but was much delayed by low water. He was anxious to send the wounded away by it to the village of Saskatoon, some forty miles up the river, on the other side of Clarke's Crossing, whose inhabitants had written to say that they would be pleased to give their houses for their accommodation, and that their, wives and daughters would nurse the wounded. But the boat was so long in coming that the General was obliged after all to send them by road. Through the ingenious invention of the chief transport officer, rude ambulances were made out of the transport waggons, by stretching across them the hides of the cattle we had killed; and on the 2nd day of May I was ordered to escort them to Clarke's Crossing, where they were to be met by representatives from the settlement at Saskatoon. The wounded were accompanied by Drs. Orton and Rolston, and the day after their arrival at Saskatoon, Dr. Roddick, with his staff and excellent hospital outfit, arrived and took them in charge, where, by all accounts, the arrangements for their comfort were perfect. The kindness and hospitality of the settlers of Saskatoon were at once supplemented by experienced nurses under the excellent superintendence of Nurse Miller, of the Winnipeg General Hospital.
I might here state that all the arrangements for conducting the campaign were excellent. The troops were never once without the most liberal rations, and all of good quality. The transport, though costly, did its work well; and with the exception of the two days at Clarke's Crossing, never failed to bring up the most liberal supplies of forage and rations.
I might here also remark upon the excellence of our mail arrangements. Soldiers' letters went free, and two or three mails a week arrived, bringing the greatest solace to the soldier far from home. The newspapers were eagerly scanned for information, especially when the first news came back to us of the battle of Fish Creek. Mr. Nursey, who is a bombardier when he is soldiering, and Provincial Auditor when he is not, was our obliging post- master. The only thing that put him out was when every man in camp came to ask him each evening when the mail was going out or had it come in. He was assisted by one of the Honourable Mr. Norquay's sons, two of whom were with the column, one in the fighting ranks, the other in the post-office. The thanks of the whole force are due to the Postmaster General for the liberal postal arrangements he made for the troops.
On the 4th of May the General had a brigade parade, with the view of practising his troops, which lasted for several hours. On the 5th we made a reconnaissance towards Batoche, under the personal command of the General, accompanied by Lord Melgund. The reconnoitering force consisted of my own and Captain French's men. We marched in the usual formation, with sixteen mounted skirmishers well to the front. We found all the houses completely deserted, everything being left as they were, excepting blankets, which the half-breeds had taken with them for their nightly camp covering. On the trail we observed numerous heavy tracks of horses, as if a large body had lately passed over it. The country was thickly covered with bluffs or clumps of trees, affording excellent cover for an enemy. After we had proceeded about nine miles, some of my men signalled signs of the enemy, and almost immediately Sergeant Fisher came up and reported having seen a dozen or more men galloping off at full speed. The General now rode on to the front, and, with an escort, went down to the houses from which the enemy had escaped, leaving the main force on the trail. He found in the house they had so hurriedly left the dinner cooking on the stove and their bannocks in the oven. After further search nothing unusual was discovered. They proved to be an outlying picket of the enemy stationed there to give warning of ourů approach. We resumed our march for a couple of miles until we arrived at Gabriel Dumont's Crossing, the homestead of Riel's lieutenant-general. We found a store here containing a few articles, chiefly blacking, braces, strings of beads, and such like, but nothing of value, except a billiard table. Dumont's house, which was built of logs, was neat and commodious, with ample outbuildings, and the store referred to attached. From this store everything of value had been removed. The General gave orders that he would allow nothing to be touched, and turned all of the men out of the buildings, not, however, before some mementoes of the campaign had been secured.
After having lunched off our hardtack, which we had with us, and fed our horses, each with a nose-bag of oats, we returned by the river bank, about a mile and a-half to the west of the main trail, passing by all the houses overlooking the river. They were all open, and the interiors showed evident signs of comfort and prosperity. In almost every other house was seen a fiddle on. the walls, to help in whiling away the long winter evenings in a Red River jig. But beyond a few chickens, which we caught for the wounded, nothing was touched; and we left the doors closed to await the return of the occupants.
During this reconnaissance a courier followed us to say that the long-looked-for steamboat had arrived from Saskatchewan Landing, having on board Colonel Williams, with two companies of the Midland Battalion, and Colonel Van Straubenzie, who had come up to act on the of the General's staff. On board also was the gatling gun, in charge of Captain Howard, a representative of the manufactory where these guns are made. The troops disembarked to form part of the column. The gatling was attached to "A" Battery and put under the command of Lieutenant Rivers.
Before leaving camp at Fish Creek the telegraph operator, gunner Wood, of the Winnipeg Field Battery, had constructed a line of some four miles to connect with the main line across the river, and thus the arduous duties of the courier were relieved. Wood was a most efficient field-operator.
On the 5th of May General Middleton completed his arrangements for a further advance on Batoche. At the time he was, I believe urged to advance directly on Prince Albert, in order to effect a junction with Colonel Irvine and his corps of Mounted Police, leaving Batoche for future attack; but no doubt feeling that this would be a sign of weakness, the General determined to march on to Batoche, and to attack Riel in his stronghold without further delay, sending a message to Colonel Irvine to co operate with him from the north.
In order to give the Indians an opportunity of abandoning their alliance with Riel, the General, on the 4th of May, wrote out a proclamation in French, and sent half a dozen copies to he distributed in Batoche. He selected one of the three Indians scouts we still held as prisoners to take them. This proclamation was to the effect that if the Indians and friendly half-breeds would return to their reserves they would be protected. Riel took this messenger prisoner and suppress&l the proclamation before he had distributed any of the copies.
About this time, I lent two of my best horses to couriers McConnell and Linklater, to carry despatches, both of whom were, however, captured by the enemy. McConnell becoming a prisoner, but Linklater escaping with the loss of his horse.
General Middleton's two A.D.O.'s, Captain Wise and Lieut. Doucet having been wounded, Lieut. Frere, Adjutant of the School of Infantry at St. John's, Quebec, now joined to take their places. Another visitor also turned up in the person of Mr. Henty, correspondent of the London Standard, having been sent out by that enterprising paper to report the campaign. He arrived on the 9th of May, the first day of Batoche, and with Mr. Johnston, of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, they were the only representatives outside of the Canadian press.
"A" BATTERY. - Gunner G. H. de Manolly, Gunner W. Cook.
90TH BATTALION. - Privates A. W. Ferguson, James Hutchins, George Wheeler, William Ennis.
Died of Wounds.
Lieutenant Charles Swinford, 90th Battalion; Arthur J. Watson, Infantry School Corps; Trooper D'Arcy Baker, Boulton's Mounted Infantry; Corporal John Code, 90th Battalion.
Staff Captain Wise, A.D.C., Lieutenant Doucet, A.D.C. "A" BATTERY. - Gunners E. Moisau, C. Armsworth, A. Asselin, W. Woodman, A. Emerie, M. Ouillet, W. Langerell, Staff Sergeant S. W. Mawhinney, Acting Bombardier D. Taylor; Drivers M. Wilson, J. Harrison, J. Turner.
90TH REGIMENT. - Captain W. Clarke, Corporals J. E. Lethbridge, W. Thacker, J. W. C. Swan, H. H. Bowden, Private David Hislop, C. H. Kemp, Milas Riley Jones, A. S. Blackwood, M. Caniff, E. Lowell, W. W. Matthews, Joseph Chambers, Charles Bouchette.
"C" INFANTRY SCHOOL CORPS. - Privates Robert H. Dunn, R. Jones, E. Harris, E. J. McDonald, Harry Jones, C. Sergeant, R. Cummings.
BOULTON'S MOUNTED INFANTRY. - Captain Gardner, Sergeant Alexander Stewart, Troopers F. H. Thompson, Valentine Bruce, Perrin, J. Langford, C. King.
LIST OF KILLED AND WOUNDED AT DUCK LAKE.
MOUNTED POLICE (Constables). - G. Gibson, George P. Arnold and M. K. Garrett.
PRINCE ALBERT VOLUNTEERS (Residents). - Lieutenant Morton, a farmer from County Bruce, Ontario; A. N. B. Markley, an old resident from Red River; S. C. Elliott, a son of Judge Elliott, of London; Wm. Napier, from Edinburgh, Scotland, and a nephew of Sir Charles Napier; Robert Middleton, from Prince Edward Island; Daniel McKenzie, Charles Hewitt, from Portage la Prairie; Daniel McPhail, of McPhail Bros., Prince Albert; Alexander Fisher, a young Englishman; William Blaikie, of Orkney; Joseph Anderson, a native half-breed.
Captain Moore, Charles Newitt, A. Macnab, Alexander Stewart, Inspector J. Howe, Corporal Gilchrist, S. F. Gordon, A. W. Smith, J. J. Wood, A. Miller.