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Battle of Fish Creek

map of fish creek montana, battle of fish creek
The Battle of Fish Creek also known as the Battle of Tourond's Coulée , fought April 24, 1885 at Fish Creek, Saskatchewan, was a major Métis victory over the Canadian forces attempting to quell Louis Riel's North-West Rebellion Although the reversal was not decisive enough to alter the ultimate outcome of the conflict, it was convincing enough to persuade Major General Frederick Middleton to temporarily halt his advance on Batoche, where the Métis would later make their final stand

The battle has been described as a military disaster for the Canadians

Contents

  • 1 Battle
  • 2 Maps
  • 3 Legacy
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Battle

Middleton, having led his considerable Field Force out from Qu'Appelle on April 10, was advancing upstream from Clarke's Crossing along the South Saskatchewan River when he discovered a hastily organized ambush by Gabriel Dumont's Métis / Dakota force

On April 23, as the militia began advancing from Clarke’s Crossing, Dumont took 200 men and rode out from Batoche toward Tourond’s Coulée Louis Riel accompanied them When a false report arrived that the North-West Mounted Police were advancing on Batoche, Riel returned there with 50 men Dumont stationed most of his men in the coulée, where they set to work digging rifle pits The militia would cross the coulée the next day, and it was then that the concealed men in the rifle pits would ambush them Dumont took a smaller party of twenty horsemen forward of the coulée Their task was to seal the exit when the ambush was sprung “I want to treat them like buffaloes,” Dumont said of Middleton’s men

Dumont and his twenty men hid in a poplar bluff There were not yet any leaves, however On the morning of April 24, before the infantry could cross the coulée, a Canadian cavalryman of Boulton’s Scouts spotted the Métis horsemen Dumont’s Métis and Boulton’s force then opened fire on each other The Scouts dismounted and began firing into the coulée, and the main body of Canadian infantry advanced to the coulée’s edge

The Métis pounded Middleton’s men with one devastating fusillade before withdrawing into cover and restricting themselves to sniper fire in order to conserve ammunition

With half of his force on the opposite side of the river, Middleton was unable to bring his full numerical superiority to bear One of his artillery batteries opened fire on the Métis to little effect, although well-fired cannonades did succeed in driving away Dumont’s Cree allies before their weight could be added to the battle

Strung out along the coulée’s edge, silhouetted against the sky, the militia fired a vast amount of ammunition at their enemies, succeeding mostly in showering tree branches across the ravine, but when the artillerymen pushed their guns to the coulée’s edge to try to fire down at the concealed enemy, they suffered heavy casualties The only targets the militia could clearly see were the enemy’s tethered horses They slaughtered about fifty of these

General Middleton behaved with reckless bravery, placing himself in full view of the enemy A bullet tore through his fur hat, and his two aides-de-camp were both wounded by his side The frustrated Canadians, their casualties mounting, undertook several fruitless rushes into the ravine A few infantry regulars under Middleton’s command made one charge Another, larger one was carried out by the Royal Winnipeg Rifles militia This latter advance was parried by Métis use of improvised barricades within the coulée These uncoordinated advances accomplished nothing but more Canadian casualties

Despite the heavy casualties inflicted upon the enemy, Métis morale deteriorated as the battle wore on Famished, dehydrated, and low on ammunition conditions that had plagued them throughout the rebellion, Dumont's rebels, though relatively impervious to enemy fire from within their gullies and ravines, knew that their positions would not hold in the face of any sustained enemy assault

However, Middleton, distressed by the casualties he was taking, erred on the side of caution and opted for retreat Weeks later, after news reached him of the Cree victory over Colonel Otter – to whom had been issued the dreaded Gatling gun – at Cut Knife, Middleton embarked once more on decisive action against Batoche

Maps

  • Military Battlefield Map of Fish Creek
  • Military Map of Fish Creek view 1
  • Military Map of Fish Creek view 2
  • Military Map of Fish Creek Rifle Pits

Legacy

"North West Rebellion - Fish Creek - While General Middleton was moving to capture Batoche his forces were attacked on the 24th April, 1885, by the Half-breeds under Gabriel Dumont from concealed rifle pits near the mouth of Fish Creek The rebels were defeated and driven from the field Erected 1933" National Historic Sites and Monuments Board

The site of the battle was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1923

In the spring of 2008, Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Christine Tell proclaimed in Duck Lake, that "the 125th commemoration, in 2010, of the 1885 Northwest Resistance is an excellent opportunity to tell the story of the prairie Métis and First Nations peoples' struggle with Government forces and how it has shaped Canada today"

The Battle of Fish Creek National Historic Site, now named Tourond's Coulée / Fish Creek National Historic Site, preserves the battlefield of April 24, 1885 at la coulée des Tourond , and the story of Madame Tourond’s home The National Historic site of Middleton’s camp and graveyard is across the Fish Creek water body and is north west of the theatre of battle which occurred in the creek valley west of the Tourond farmhouse site

References

  1. ^ a b c Panet, Charles Eugène 1886, Report upon the suppression of the rebellion in the North-West Territories and matters in connection therewith, in 1885: Presented to Parliamentp20, Ottawa: Department of Militia and Defence 
  2. ^ "Heroes of the 1885 Northwest Resistance Summary of those Killed" Barkwell, Lawrence J Louis Riel Institute 2010 Retrieved 2013-11-13 
  3. ^ a b Panet, Charles Eugène 1886, Report upon the suppression of the rebellion in the North-West Territories and matters in connection therewith, in 1885: Presented to Parliament, Ottawa: Department of Militia and Defence 
  4. ^ Parks Canada 2007-11-17, Famous 1885 Battle Site Gains New Name, Ottawa: Government of Canada, archived from the original on 2009-08-05 
  5. ^ "Battle of Fish Creek" 
  6. ^ Morton, Desmond, The Last War Drum, Hakkert, Toronto, 1972, Canadian War Museum Historical Publications Number 5, p62
  7. ^ Beal, Bob, and Macleod, Rod, Prairie Fire, McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1994, p230
  8. ^ Beal and Macleod, pp230-231
  9. ^ Morton, pp64-65
  10. ^ Mulvany, Charles Pelham, The History of the North-West Rebellion of 1885, Toronto, Hovey & Co, 1886, pp131-132 and 141
  11. ^ "Fish Creek The Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture" Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research Retrieved 2009-09-20 
  12. ^ Battle of Tourond's Coulee / Fish Creek Canadian Register of Historic Places Retrieved 6 August 2012
  13. ^ "Tourism agencies to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Northwest Resistance/Rebellion" Home/About Government/News Releases/June 2008 Government of Saskatchewan June 7, 2008 Archived from the original on 21 October 2009 Retrieved 2009-09-20 
  14. ^ "Battle of Fish Creek" ashx National Parks and National Historic Sites of Canada Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada 2007 Retrieved 2009-09-20  html

External links

  • Fish Creek battle site
  • Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan
  • Military Map of Fish Creek

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