Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hat to the Park Virtual Trip

Hi Marston

Report 41 Fort Carlton Saskatchewan

Every spring and fall of every year as long as people could remember, the tipis would spring up outside the Fort like mushrooms on a wet lawn. They were said to extend more than 5 kilometres down along the river banks. They were there to trade in their firs in the spring after a long winter of trapping. They were there in the fall to get their supplies for the hunt. But all this came to an abrupt halt in 1885. The N.W.M.P commandeered the Fort to establish a presence when the starving dispossessed Metis began agitating for their rights. This was the target Riel chose as his first stand. They besieged the Fort and defeated the mounties under the command of the hard nosed Lief Crozier They were at the point of arranging how Crozier would surrender ( peacefully or otherwise) when Riel got news of trouble over at Frog Lake. Using this opportunity of distraction, Crozier and 56 of his men plus 41 volunteers managed to escape from the Fort and headed over to Frog Lake also to settle up accounts with Riel and Dumont..

But he underestimated this crafty and deadly Dumont. The cunning trapper led Crozier and his men into a valley when they were forced to stop. Two parley groups met but unfortunately for every one, a misunderstanding resulted so a Cree Chief made a lunge for a rifle held by the Mountie's guide. The gun went off and the first casualty of the " Riel Rebellion" fell mortally wounded on the ground. Gun fire erupted from both sides and after 40 minutes, 17 of Crozier's men were dead and several more wounded. Only the personal intervention of Riel himself prevented Dumont from chasing and killing all the others.

Riel wanted the attention of Ottawa and now he really had it. Troops were coming in from the east, South and any where else they could be found as quickly as the trains could bring them.. With their canons and newly acquired Gatling gun capable of firing 1200 rounds per minute, the Elephant's foot in the shape of Major General Frederick Middleton and his 800 men,was about to come down on the mouse at a place called Batoche. The fighting was over in four days. While the Metis fought gallantly, they quickly ran out of ammunition and were using stones, nails and even the Mountie's own spent ammunition retrieved from the battle field to keep on shooting. Except for the dead and those who managed to escape, all the rebels were brought to trial and hanged or imprisoned.

There was no hope now for the Metis. They quietly disappeared into the history books The west was free to settle once more and the debris from the carnage swept under the carpet of the green summer foliage surrounding the little town of Batoche.

Louis Riel was shipped to Regina for trial and not even given the dignity or satisfaction of facing his tormentors

I'll end this saga next report with details of the trial in Regina.

Doug G

Thanks Doug

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