Hawke's Bay Herald. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 1885. THE LATE CANADIAN REBELLION.
In the August number of the Nineteenth Century Lord Melgund, military secretary to the Governor General of Canada, gives an account of the rebellion in the | north-west of the Dominion, which I eventually brought about ihe execution of the half-breed Louis Riel. Our readers are doubtless aware that the reoent outbreak was the second one in I whioh Riel was concerned. The previous revolution occurred iv 1870. On that oooasion Riel established himßelf with some 400 half-breeds at Fort Garry, a Hudson's Bay post at tbe junction of the Red River and the Assinihoine. He there proclaimed a provisional govera- | ment, one of the first acts of which was the murder, after a mock trial, ef a j settler named Scjtt, who had dared to resist Riel's authority. This rebellion was put 'down without very much difficulty. When the force sent against Reil reached Fort Garry the gates stood open. Rell had fled to the United States. He was tried, nevertheless, and outlawed for five years, a sentence which did not seem to trouble Riel very much, for he voluntarily extended it by about nine years. He returned to Canada in the summer of last year, and though his arrival at Ottawa was regarded with some suspicion, he was believed to have learned wisdom, and no harm was expected from his visit. Lord Melgund says :— " At Ottawa the winter passed without a whisper of uneasiness, and it was not until lite in March that, almost without warning we found ourselves face to face with an organised" rebellion." The oausea of the uprising are stated by Lord Melgund t ■ have been as follows :— "The Metis of the north-west claim to be placed on the same footing as the Manitoba halfbreeds, viz., to receive grants of 240 aores. They ask that patents for tbeir land should ba issued to settlers ln possession, and they protest against the form of Government land surveying as likely to Interfere with the arrangement 'of their farms as at present existing. Acoording to the old Frenoh custom the Metis settlements line the river banks, eaoh farm having a small river frontage, and extending in a narrow strip a considerable distance inland. It is asserted that Bhould the Government method qf surveying in j squares and giving grants in squares be insisted on the river frontages will in many cases disappear from certain farms, and that at any rate much unnecessary annoyanoe would be caused by a new division of settlements. .... The purely half-breed dispute praotically rested on three points, viz., the grant of patents for lands already in possession, equal olaimswith Manitoba ' breeds,' and objections to Government form of survey. But there is also a feeling in the north-west, not at all confined to Metis, tint local claims and interests are not understood or sufficiently recognised at distant Ottawa, and the feeling would have
been more universrlly pronounced, had not the first shot fired at Duck Lake at onpe alienated the loyal settlers froni tlie Metis cause." Lord Mulgund adds that that thero were bigger interests at stake than the Metis claims, and that thongh half-breed and redskin were in the front rank, in the second were to be fonnd the disappointed white contractor, the disappointed white land shark, the disppointed white farmer. The first encounter was towards the end of March last between a detach ment of mounted police under Major On zier and a band of rebels under Riel, ia which some police and eleven Volunteers were killed. The battle, if it may be so termed, was almost accidental. Major Crozier had left Fort Carlton In the morning with about 100 men to seoure some stores in the neighborhood of Duck Lake, and was met by Riel at the head of a small band of rebels. There was some hasty conversation on either Bide, a squabble, and then a shot. "Who fired first," remarks Lord Melgnnd, "is doubtful, but an encounter ensued, in which Major Crozier was partially surrounded, and fell back to Fort Carlton, leaving his dead on the field. Putting aside the loss of life, the affair was unfortunate, as the actual collision would appear to have been avoidable." Lord Melgund seems to think not only that the first encounter could have been avoided, but the whole rebellion could have been stifled with a little good management. " Riel," he says, " took up arms for the j Metis cause, nominally so at any rate. Though a miserable creature himself he
named hia price, and could have been bought out of the country in the autumn o! last year. Bat he posed as a Metis patriot — the Indians were not directly interested in the rebellion — and 'Poundinaker ' and 'Big Bear' would appear only to have followed the. instincts of their race, when seeing, as they thought, Rlel successful, they' were tempted by the love of fighting and the love of plunder, and in many oaßes by the necessity of having something to eat. Riel well knew the assistance which the Indians could afford him, and by at once driving in all the settlers' oattle he could bribe thera with food, and they could hardly be expected to mist the temptation." Winding npa somewhat circumstantial account of General Middleton's campaign, Lord Molgund says, " On the 15th Qf May Rial surrendered to Middleton's scouts. I His chief lieutenant, Gabriel JDumont, escaped across the frontier. The rebellion was practically at an end. ' Poundmaker ' surrendered to General Middleton at Battleford on the 20th. General Strange had guaranteed the safety of Edmonton, and though the pursuit of ' Big Bear ' gave tbe troops more hard work, all cause for anxiety had disappeared with Riel's defeat. . . . . It has been General Middleton's lot to command the first volunteer or civilian soldiers who have been in action, and moat gallantly have men and officers done their work. The men of his force were almost of the same class as our English Volunteers— olerks in offices, mechanics, tradesmen. They were not soldiers by trade. Excellent material, splendid marchers, apt to learn, possessed of muoh handinesa and ingenuity, especially with the axe, but unacoußtomed to the work required of thera, .and with no time allowed them to gain experience, they went straight from their homes into actions."