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History of Saskatchewan and The Old North West
Chapter XXV - The Capture of Batoche


Middleton's Advance to Dumont's Crossinc—The Nortiicote Arrives at Batociie Ahead of Middleton; A Chapter of Accidents—A Check—Alleged Proposal of Retreat—Melgund Sent East— Second Day's Fighting—First Feigned Attack from the East —Discussion of Middleton's Policy—Middleton's Plans for Fourth Day—Astley's Heroism—Miscarriage of Original Plans—The Final Charge—Henty's Dispatch—The Globe's Account—Casualties—Heroism of the Halfbreeds—Extent of Their Losses—Capture of Riel—Escape of Dumont.

The next event of special importance in the campaign was Middleton's advance upon and capture of Batoche. On May 7th he set out from Fish Creek with his entire force now upon the right bank, numbering seven hundred and twenty-four officers and men. To these were added, two or three days later, the Land Surveyors' Scouts, some fifty in number, led by Captain Dennis.

The steamer Northcote was also to take part in the attack upon the rebel headquarters. Upon it were about fifty combatants under the command of Major Smith.

On the first day the force advanced as far as Gabriel Dumont's Crossing, where it camped for the night. The next day's journey brought Middleton's force within about nine miles of Batoche, and on May 9th the siege began." About six a. m. Middleton moved out from camp, leaving it standing with a small guard to assist the teamsters in case of an attack. According to Middleton's own report, the Northcote was to have moved down the river at such a time as to reach Batoche at nine o'clock, when he would also he on hand, and the village would be attacked both from the river and from the land. Apparently there was some misunderstanding, however. Lieutenant-Colonel Houghton, Middleton's chief of staff, subsequently declared1 that the steamer was under orders to be at Batoche at 8 a. m., and that its failure to connect with Middleton at the crucial time was owing to the fact that the general was one hour late in arriving. Whosoever was the fault, the steamer actually did approach Batoche one hour in advance of the land force, and a very hot welcome she received. Seeing no sign of support from the land, she swept with the current slowly past the settlement, exchanging with the rebels a vigorous fire. At Batoche's Ferry there is a steel cable crossing the river. Their attempts to sever this as they moved down stream failed, and the cable carried away the smokestack of the steamer, and for a few moments the accident threatened to be even more serious. Had the unlucky steamer been stranded at this point in the river, the results might well have been deplorable. The enemy's fire was kept up for nearly two miles, but only three of the men on the North-cote were wounded. She then came to a stand, but found it impossible to steam back against the current with the two heavily loaded barges in tow. Accordingly it was reluctantly resolved by those in command to go on down the river to the Hudson's Bay Ferry, repair damages, leave the barges there, take in more fire wood, and return at once to Batoche. Before reaching her intended destination, however, the unlucky vessel ran upon a sand bank, where she lay stranded for several hours. On reaching the ferry Major Smith found there the steamer Marquis with a party of Mounted Police. Though it takes us ahead of our story, it may be stated here that the two steamers were not ready to start back until the 12th, and then, as the engines of the Marquis broke down, she had to be towed by the Northcote, so that the two did not reach Batoche until after its capture. Middleton's official comments on this chapter of accidents were very generous: "Though the Northcote was unfortunately prevented from taking part in our attack on Batoche, I have little doubt that the probability of her returning with reinforcements tended to disturb the enemy, and Major Smith and his party deserve great credit for the way in which they met the difficulties with which they were beset."

Now let us return to the column. As it approached the river, Middleton heard, to his intense exasperation, a rattling fire and the steamer's whistle, showing that the Northcote was already engaged and that his plans for a combined attack were frustrated. The elated rebels, upon this first day, brought Middleton to a stand near the church, a short distance above Batoche. Indeed, the check was so serious that it was confidently affirmed by Colonel Houghton and many others, though denied by Middleton himself, that in the afternoon the General contemplated retreating to the camping ground of the night before, and was prevented from doing so only by Dr. Orton's absolute refusal to allow the wounded men to be transferred. It is almost impossible to arrive at the facts concerning this and many other incidents of the rebellion, as bitter disaffection was rampant among the officers in command, largely the product of the mutual jealousy that so universally prevails between professional soldiers and militia men. Had such a retreat occurred, its moral effect on both the volunteers and the rebels would have been very serious indeed.

Towards evening the troops were gradually withdrawn to the four sides of the zareba which Middleton had established on one of the very few open spaces adjacent to the village and above it. The enemy followed them up for a time, and even when checked by heavy fire from the zareba they maintained a desultory, long range fire until nightfall. No tents were pitched except for the wounded, and, after a hasty supper, the men lay down in a drizzling rain with their weapons beside them. Middleton's casualties had been two killed and ten wounded, including Captain Mason, of the Tenth Grenadiers.

An interesting and suggestive episode of this first day was the departure of Lord Melgund. Whatever may have been his motive, Middleton's explanation was that he had determined to send Lord Melgund with an important despatch to the Minister of Militia. The contents of this despatch have never been made public, though it still remains in cipher at Ottawa. It will doubtless provide interesting reading. Lord Melgund reached Humboldt (fifty-five miles southeast of Batoche) at four o'clock next morning. From there he sent Middleton's telegram, and, in the interview with Lieutenant-Colonel George T.. Deuisou, he told of the abortive attempt to drive the enemy out of their position. Colonel Denison says that while Lord Melgund, of course, revealed nothing of why he was being sent back East, the general impression was that it was to get us some regulars from Halifax.

The next morning Middleton's forces were under arms at dawn, and an attempt was made to take up the position from which they had retired the preceding evening. This proved unsuccessful, as the rebels in high force held the grounds about the cemetery and in front of the church. The infantry were stationed in as advanced a position as was possible, and engaged the enemy throughout most of the day. During the afternoon .trenches and isolated pits were constructed, from which in the evening an unexpected flank fire drove back the rebels as they attempted to follow up the advanced parties, when, under Middleton's orders, they fell back to the camp for the night. His losses during the day were one killed and five wounded.

On the third day of the siege, Middleton led a mounted reconnaisance, or feigned attack, north from the camp, past the Humboldt trail, which runs west from Batoche to a small open plain to the east of the village. This is the only piece of level country of any extent devoid of woods in the vicinity, and is known locally as La Belle Prairie. This region proved to be well protected, but the movement withdrew the rebels from the main front, and Colonel Williams succeeded in carrying the Indians' position below the cemetery.

Bitter dissatisfaction was prevalent in the evening, when the advanced parties were again recalled to the camp. It was felt that Middleton's policy unnecessarily involved the nightly sacrifices of whatever had been gained during the day. The rank and file, as well as most of the Canadian officers, were becoming distinctly restive, and were eager to close with the enemy and bring the siege to an end by a single decisive action. There are not wanting men whose opinion deserves respect, who think that the General showed discretion in not risking everything in a premature attempt to capture the village by a vigorous general assault. The country in which the fighting took place was admirably adapted to the purposes of defense. The numerous wooded ravines were lined with rifle pits, and to carry them the attacking party would need greatly to outnumber the enemy or to exhibit the most tenacious courage and steadiness under the withering fire of an invisible foe. Middleton was still under the impression that the rebel forces were much more numerous than they really were, and he was manifestly doubtful of the fighting qualities of his inexperienced militia men, at all events if they were called upon too soon to carry out so difficult and dangerous an assault. His sentiments are indicated in his despatch of May 1 to General Strange, in which he remarked, "These raw soldiers require whipping up at first." Furthermore, as Middleton has pointed out, he recognized that his forces could afford the considerable expenditure of ammunition which such tactics rendered necessary much better than his adversary. However, by May 11, "our men," says Middleton, "were beginning to show more dash, and that night I came to the conclusion it was time to make a decisive attack." "Our casualties for the day," he reported, "consisted of four wounded, all very slightly. This shows that my men are becoming more at home at this sort of warfare." It was his intention personally to conduct a feigned attack on the settlement from across La Belle Prairie. As soon as the firing was general in this quarter and the enemy had been withdrawn from their main position to resist the attack from the cast, Van Straubenzie was to seize the position formerly held by the Canadian troops and to push on cautiously. The General with his immediate staff would then gallop back and take command of the main attack, which would now be in progress.

Accordingly, on the morning of the fourth and final day of the siege, May 12, operations commenced with a vigorous firing across La Belle Prairie. During this engagement letters were sent over from the rebel lines by Riel, borne by two loyalist prisoners, Air. Astley and Mr. Jackson. Astley's letter ran as follows:

"Batoche, May 12, 1885.

"If you massacre our families we are going to massacre the Indian agent and other prisoners. Louis 'David' Riel."

To this communication General Middleton wrote the following reply: "Mr. Riel:

"I am anxious to avoid killing women and children, and have done my best to avoid doing so. Tut your women and children in one place and let me know where it is and no shot shall be fired on them. I trust to your honor not to put men with them. Fred Middleton,

"Commanding N. W. Field Forces."

Astley returned with this missive to Riel, and some time afterwards was sent back with the following acknowledgment: "General: "Batoche, May 12, 1885.

"Your prompt answer to my note .shows that I was right in mentioning to you the cause of humanity. We will gather our families in one place, and as soon as it is done we will let you know.

"I have the honor to be, General,

"Your humble servant,

"Louis 'David' Riel."

The desperation to which the rebel chief was now reduced was painfully indicated in a postscript written on the outside of this despatch:

"I do not like war, and if you do not retreat and refuse an interview the question remains the same as regards the prisoners."

To this communication Middleton sent no further reply, as indeed, by the time he received it, it would have been quite impossible for him to have induced the volunteers to withdraw from their attack. However, Astley, with memorable heroism, returned again to the rebel lines with a view to protecting the prisoners, and inducing them to surrender without further unnecessary bloodshed. In passing to and fro between the lines, Astley happily escaped uninjured, though his clothes were rent with bullets.

We left Middleton conducting a feigned attack from the east. When he judged that the time had come for the decisive assault, he galloped back-to his main body, which he expected to find already engaging the enemy. Owing to the high wind prevailing from the west, however, Straubenzie had not heard any certain sound of the preliminary attack east of the village; consequently, to Middleton's inexpressible exasperation, he found the troops still in cam]). While the General was getting something to eat, Straubenzie moved forward towards the cemetery on the left, with orders to assume the old position and push on cautiously. To the right of Strau-benzie's two companies of Midlanders, led by Colonel Williams, were the Tenth Grenadiers, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Grasett, extending beyond the church. Who gave the command to charge, or whether any such command were ever given, is still a matter of dispute. The men were in a mood in which restraint was no longer to be thought of. The shouting of Williams' Midlanders as they came under fire was the signal for a spontaneous advance of the whole line. "Halt when I halt and not before," cried Williams, and his men followed nobly. The advance towards the line of occupation of the previous Saturday was a race between the Midlanders and Grenadiers. As Middleton hurried out from his tent he "found the whole line, which had been splendidly led by Lieutenant-Colonel Van Straubenzie, in the wood facing the village, the line being perpendicular to the river; the Midlanders on the left, the Grenadiers in the centre, and the Ninetieth on the right in columns commanded by Captain Buchan; Major Makeand having sprained his leg early in the day and Major Boswell being left in the zareba with the guard. The guns were now up and commenced firing from their old position on the village and on the ferry by which some of the enemy were escaping. The Ninetieth were now quickly extended on the right of the Grenadiers, the extreme right being taken by the scouts dismounted.". It was at this juncture that Astley brought Riel's second message asking Middleton to withdraw his men.

Houghton and others subsequently stated that in this decisive assault the Canadian officers charged the pits on their own responsibility. "Had they been unsuccessful," says Houghton, "they would have been tried by courtmartial and shot, but being in close touch with their men, and knowing their metal, they drove the rebels from cover and broke the back of the rebellion."

The only authentic description of the fight by an independent eye witness was that cabled to the London Standard by G. A. Henly, Jr., the well-known war correspondent and author. After speaking of the armed reconnaisance of the morning he tells of Middleton's return to camp and of the general advance which took place at one o'clock. Continuing, Mr. Henty wrote as follows:

"Without a moment's hesitation they dashed into the bush, and with a rush carried the rifle pits from which the. enemy had harassed us on Saturday; and then swept the enemy before them down a short valley dotted with bush, into the plain, which extends half a mile back from the river banks.

"On one side of the plain the enemy had dug a long line of rifle pits, from which they opened fire as we advanced from the village of Batoche, which stands in the centre of the plain. The ground to be crossed was open, and for the most part under cultivation, though here and there were patches of brushwood.

"As the Grenadiers had cleared the valley, the other corps had come up, and the Grenadiers and Boulton's Horse advanced together with the intelligence Corps on their flank.

"The scene was a pretty one as the troops advanced, the puffs of smoke darting out from the houses of the villages, and fringing the bush-covered hills on our flank from the rifle pits at their feet. On our part there was no attempt at advancing in accordance with any military system. The troops moved forward in an irregular row, firing as they went, at the village in front.

"The enemy were few in number, but fought well and steadily, keeping under cover of the houses, and seldom showing a head. The troops advanced briskly until near the village, when they hesitated a little, and the officers had to expose themselves a good deal to get them forward; the result was that three officers were killed, Captains French and Brown, and Lieutenant Filch, while only two privates fell slain in the whole day's fighting. This speaks for itself, and shows also the steadiness and accuracy of the aim of the enemy. We had in all eleven wounded.

"After a short pause, the troops went at the village with a rush, and the rebels fled instantly from the other side. So quickly was the affair over that Riel's men had no time to carry off their prisoners with them, and they were all found uninjured.

"Several of the enemy were killed as the Grenadiers rushed the rifle pits, and some more were shot as we cleared the valley, but the total number engaged was small, and there can he no doubt that many of those who fought against us on Saturday must have retired before the fighting began."

A. S. O. E.'s dispatch to the Toronto Globe also provides a very spirited even if somewhat grandiloquent—account of the battle, and from it the following extracts are borrowed :

"Every man's blood was up and heated with excitement. Nothing could have drawn off the men from their one purpose in view. Another minute and a telling volley was poured by the Midlanders down the slope into the enemy's pits, and then with a 'three times three' rolled into one, they disappeared over the bank and fairly vaulted over the pits and prodded and bayonetted the enemy out.

"It was a grand and noble action, and ever thereafter they should he called 'The Irresistibles.' The cheering was contagious, and those behind, looking on from the trenches, caught it up, and cheered again and again in loyal style, and as only Britons can cheer. The Grenadiers, not a moment behind, answered thc command of their colonel, and on they went in short rushes, covering the ground as if the very devil was behind them. Without cover, they chose close quarters for their safety, if they thought at all of their safety, and every rille seemed levelled at them as they covered the ground and pushed on past the last of our trenches.

"The whole line took up the charge, and many a teamster jumped from the zareba, and, overtaking the main body, became thenceforward one of the men. The excitement was intense. The Grenadiers, peppered at in their onward course, kept on all the while, answering back the rebels' fire, giving it to them in rapid style, and nearing their pits every moment. It was plain to be seen that the advance was a general one from the extreme right to the left, and the 90th, in the zareba—'the little devils,' as they are now called—were formed lip ready to do their part on the right, and impatiently they waited. Still the Midlanders kept on, three men falling within as many minutes, their voices hardly missed in the wild cheering of those escaping as they dashed ahead on towards Batoche, still a mile or so distant. Away to the front rushed Colonel Straubenzie, hat in hand and waving it and cheering on the men.

"Just then the horses galloped up with the guns, the entire artillery being under the command of Colonel Montizambart, and the remainder of the 90th joined the advance 011 the right. The Winnipeg guns opened on the rebel houses; Howard crashed away at the bluffs covering the advance of the 90th and the remaining guns showered shrapnel into the scraggy and small-growth timber.

"Away to the left the rebels seemed more concerned with the advance of the Midlanders, who were fast gaining on the cemetery, and they made a firm and bitter stand, but all to no purpose; yet it was terribly hot for the men, and it was a great relief when the right of the Grenadiers gained the upper edge of the slope, and, pelting away at the rebels in their pits, eased things off for the Midlanders, and made it a little more comfortable. This was a great advantage gained, and the Midlanders, with another cheer and a rush, cleared the pits from which the fire had come so heavily.

"In the meantime the Surveyors' Corps had joined the charge, and Boulton's infantry came on, both being cheered to the echo when they were seen to enter and join the fight. They at once began to force the fighting away to the extreme right in a terrible fashion. Perhaps of all points along the line theirs was the hottest; the rebel pits fronted them as from two sides of a triangle. The Midlanders, with the assistance of the Grenadiers, had got too far ahead. They had cleared everything before them and the Grenadiers' attention was turned once more to their own immediate front. On they went under the disadvantage of getting the fire more or less from both the right and the left of the enemy's line. But their advance was as certain and as sure as the wave upon the wave-beaten shore. Too busy to tell who it was who fell, 011 they went except perhaps now and then one would cry out: 'Ambulance! Ambulance!'

"Things were by this time beginning to get mixed, and a black coat would be seen mingling with the red, and a red coat with the black. The Midlanders were catching it from across the river, and remaining still; answering back the rebels' fire was tame work for them. The fire of the enemy eame also hot and fast from the small ravine on further than the cemetery. Things were getting to be considerably unpleasant. 'I want a company to reinforce me,' said gallant Colonel Williams, 'and I'll clean out that ravine.' 'I'm here, and here's my company,' shouted back Ruttan of the 90th—an old Cobourg boy—and on the Midlanders went, followed by Ruttan, down into the ravine, the rebels jumping from their pits and scurrying back as they saw the onslaught that was on them. On. up, out of the ravine, and onwards, when Lieutenant Halliwell was hit just as he had told Laidlaw and Grace to keep their divisions firing so as to lessen the fire of the enemy. The left, led by the Midlanders, was fast sweeping round. With each fresh rush the men would cheer.

"Firing was gradually ceasing, fortelling the final dash soon to come. The rebels seemed to see this, and as the line came on, would scamper back from pit to pit, firing as best they could. The 90th, behind the bush to the right of the Grenadiers, darted through the bush and down the slope, on across the hollow and up the other side to the bluff, from whence the enemy kept pouring forth their jagged bullets. In the impetuous rush Major Makeand slipped and fell, and the belief that he was shot incensed his men still more, and on they went for satisfaction. In the meantime, the line had reached the rise, on which, until now, the Gatling had been playing, and it was ordered to take up a position near the rear, from whence it kept up its kettledrum rattle on the bluffs, as now one corps and then another would force on the fighting.

"In less than half an hour the fight was decided, but the battle had to be won. The line came swinging round, and in a short time it was at right angles to the original line of attack. Just then a ferry started from the west side of the river to cross with the rebel reinforcements, but a division of C Company under Laidlaw sent them back, and here it was he was shot from the bank by rebels expecting to cover the crossing of the ferry.

"The houses then had to be taken, and taken at the double, and Colonel Williams sent back a message to the General that he was going to charge them. The message sounded very much as if it were nolens volens. Before Stewart returned, the Colonel was up and at it. His men reached the top of the slope, and then down the other side they rushed with the force of a buffalo. The Grenadiers joined in the dash, one of them in his course plunging his bayonet clean through an Indian and carrying him out of the pit with the velocity of his charge. The enemy still contested the ground, firing as they retired, and many a poor fellow bit the ground.

"The Red Cross men were now to be seen here and there and everywhere. Amid all the din, the noise and cheering, a poor fellow could be heard now and again calling for a stretcher. Doctor Rverson's portly form could be seen well up in the front, and his sympathetic word brought a strange reaction to the wounded, whose desire for revenge was only intensified by being clean bowled out of the fight. Down came the 90th, squeezing up against the Grenadiers and soon all became mixed. The Surveyors' Corps, too, from the right, came swinging round towards the houses, and they, too, joined in the mixing. It mattered not, for there was but one command: 'Double! On!"

"Down across the open they went, the Midlanders on the left clearing the pits along the bank, and making the race a hot one. A storm of bullets crossed the open, but they came too late. Nothing could slop the force of the rush. The Grenadiers suffered here terribly, but the rush went on the same. The rebels, from the houses to the front, poured a raking fire into the advancing line, and first one and then another kept dropping ere the ploughed field was reached. In front of the houses were long trenches running parallel to our line of attack. From these also the firing came fast and furious. The ploughed field was reached at last, and on past it the rush continued. The first house to come upon was the little shack on the bank. As a Midlander pulled back the door, Captain Ruttan slipped in. Helterskelter went the inmates from the back portion of the house. The end had come. Our men knew it and felt it, and, flushed with victory, they pushed ahead and jumped upon the rebels in the very trenches before the houses. They had passed the log stable in front of the prison house, on past it with such a rush that a handful of rebels had escaped notice, and so it was Lieutenant Garden of the Surveyors' Corps got his nasty arm wound. Over the heads of the rebels, who lay in the trenches, 011 into the prison house and with a deafening cheer the men pulled up the prisoners from the poisoned atmosphere of the dark and slimy cellar.

"The fight, though, still went on. Private Eager, of the Grenadiers, coming out, was shot from the trenches, which our men rushed by to enter the store and release the prisoners. The charge continued on past the houses and on towards the rebel camp. In the meantime Batoche's house had been taken, poor French receiving his death wound at the upper window of a room that he had just entered, closely followed by Private Skinner, of the Midlanders. There was nothing now left of the line. Every man dashed-along and plunged ahead on a 'sort of go-as-you-please style.' except that he went at fever heat. Men from the extreme right got mixed up with men from the extreme left, and men took orders from the officers nearest them, regardless of what regiment he belonged to. On past the houses dashed portions of the regiments, determined to be in at the finish, and on up to Riel's Council House, where Captain Young secured important papers. The Grenadiers, in the meanwhile, led by Grasett and the Midlanders, on the slope and water's edge, charged and carried the pits in front of the Halfbreed and Indian camp, and by the time the Northcote came up the stream close on to the evening, to join the force once more, the last shot was fired, the rebels routed, the fourth day's fight was over, and the Battle of Batoche was a thing of the past."

The names of the Government volunteers who lost their lives at Batoche are: Grenadier William Philips, of A Battery: Lieutenant W. Fitch; Private T. Moore, of the Tenth Grenadiers; Private R. R. Hardisty, of the Ninetieth Battalion; Private James Fraser, of the Ninetieth Battalion; Captain E. L. Brown, of the Scouts; John French, of the Scouts; Lieutenant A. W. Kippens, of the Intelligence Corps; Private F. A. Watson, of the Ninetieth Battalion (died of wounds). In addition to these the Canadian wounded numbered forty-five.

Middleton sent back for blankets and food, and bivouacked in and about the houses of the village, having, however, sent the scouts back to strengthen the guard he had left all day in the zareba under Lieutenant-Colonel Houghton, consisting of a party of the Ninetieth under Major Boswell, and a gun of A Battery.

As Canada recalls with pride the courage displayed at Batoche and elsewhere by her civilian soldiery, let her not withhold or grant in scanty measure the need of admiration so well deserved by her misled children, the Halfbreeds of the Saskatchewan Valley. Among them, doubtless, were rogues and schemers and poltroons, but such renegades were in no greater numerical proportion than in any ordinary community. Hopelessly outnumbered in every engagement, totally unprovided with artillery and possessed of but a scanty supply of arms, and those largely of the crudest and most heterogeneous description, the Metis fought gallantly in defense of their rights, their homes and their leaders. Cruel necessity required that the uprising of this handful of misled and ignorant pioneers should be sternly repressed, but it would be an ill day for Saskatchewan if ever the vigor and valor which distinguished them should be extinguished in any body of its citizens, be they white men or Halfbreeds. The man who can visit the humble graves of the fallen Metis in the cemetery at Batouche and not feel for their memory the deepest respect is not worthy of the franchise of a citizen in our Dominion. Thanks to the skill with which they conducted their military enterprises, the actual loss of life among the Halfbreeds was remarkably small. During the four days of fighting at Batoche there were, in point of fact, only eleven of their number slain—in addition to a young chief despite the exaggerated reports that have obtained currency through the pages of various accounts of the rebellion.

At the capture of Batoche on May 12 Dumont, Riel and most of the other leaders escaped. Next day Middleton sent the following note to Riel by the hand of one of bis friends, Moise Ouellette, who consented to carry it only on the condition that he should not be followed:

"Mr. Riel: I am ready to receive you with your council and protect you until your case has been decided upon by thc Dominion Government."

Riel stated that he received this communication towards one o'clock on the morning of the 15th. He asserted afterwards that he might have escaped to the United States as did Dumont, but preferred to give himself up immediately in the interests of his Metis followers.

Meantime numerous parties of mounted men were scouring the woods in search of the rebel leader. Two of these scouts, Armstrong and Hourie, fell in with him on the 15th and brought him to Middleton's tent. Middle-ton then placed a guard over the fallen leader, as much to protect him from violence as to prevent his escape, and he was presently taken to Regina in the charge of Capt. C. H. Young. There he was placed in prison to await his trial.

Having become separated from Riel, Dumont searched for him until the 16th, when he heard of his surrender. With less than nine pounds of sea-biscuit as rations, Dumont then set out on his six-hundred-mile ride to safety beyond the border. He was accompanied by Michel Dumas, unarmed and also provided with but a few biscuits. It is commonly stated that Dumont's escape was deliberately facilitated by the numerous admirers of the plucky warrior, who were to be found in all quarters and among all classes. Dumont subsequently visited Montreal, 1889, where his story was carefully taken down, read to him and formally approved, in the presence of Colonel Adolphe Ouimet, Esq., and a number of other well-known witnesses.

The unfortunate people of Batoche had been reduced to deplorable want and misery by recent events, and before his departure, Middleton sent two teams loaded with floor, bacon, tea, etc., to the Roman Catholic priests at Batoche, to enable them in a measure to relieve the prevailing distress.

It may be remarked in passing that on the morning of the nth Father Moulin had been brought to Middleton's camp with a bullet wound in his left thigh. The General reports that the bullet was fired from the cemetery by the rebels, but a glance at the wall of Father Moulin's house is sufficient to show that he was the victim of a chance shot from the Gatling gun/' As a matter of fact, a considerable area of the wall was honeycombed with bullets at the same time.


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