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Frederick Dobson Middleton


General Sir Frederick Dobson Middleton KCMG CB 4 November 1825 – 25 January 1898 was a British general noted for his service throughout the Empire and particularly in the North-West Rebellion

Military career

Educated at Maidstone Grammar School and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Middleton was commissioned into the 58th Regiment of Foot in 1842

He served in the New Zealand Wars and in 1845, he was mentioned in dispatches for his part in the capture of the stronghold of Māori chief Te Ruki Kawiti

In 1848 he transferred to the 96th Regiment of Foot in India and took part in the suppression of the Indian Mutiny in which campaign he was recommended for, but not actually awarded, the Victoria Cross He went on to be Commandant of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, in 1879

He was appointed General Officer Commanding the Militia of Canada in 1884 In 1885 a group of Métis launched the North-West Rebellion, and Middleton was named commander of the main force sent to put it down After a defeat at the Battle of Fish Creek, his force arrived at Batoche, Saskatchewan and was victorious in the Battle of Batoche

Middleton left Ottawa and arrived in Winnipeg to evaluate Military District 10 which covered the Prairies as the officer in charge of District 10 had just been dismissed on the account of his alcoholism, the same day as the Battle of Duck Lake, where the North-West Mounted Police were defeated by the Métis Through Middleton was elderly and cautious, his response to the news of Duck Lake was swift and on the same day, he departed Winnipeg on a train bound for Qu'Apelle with a company of Manitoba militia The major difficulty for Middleton was mobilizing the militia who had to travel from Ontario and Quebec on the partially completed Canadian Pacific Railroad, requiring that the militiamen march through the snows and rocks of northern Ontario to reach Winnipeg The Canadian historian Desmond Morton described Middleton as an experienced soldier who "mixed common sense and pomposity in equal measure", whose plan was to take Batoche, the capital of the Métis exovedate council, which he predicated would end the rebellion As the rebellion had shaken international confidence in the credit-worthiness of Canada, Middleton was under immense pressure from the Prime Minister, Sir John A MacDonald, to end the rebellion as soon as possible The militiamen arriving in Winnipeg were mostly untrained, and Middleton had to train them as they marched to Saskatchewan

On 6 April 1885, Middleton set off on a march to Batoche On 23 April 1885, the Métis and Cree Indians under Gabriel Dumont ambushed the Canadians at Fish Creek Despite Middeton's orders, Colonel William Dillon Otter after reaching Battleford, set out to do battle with the Cree, and was defeated by Chief Poundmaker at the Battle of Cut Knife Hill; only the latter's unwillingness to have his warriors take advantage of the rout saved the Canadians from being annihilated Poundmaker was a reluctant rebel against Canada, and did not want the Canadian forces annihilated, believing this would save his people from reprisals Middleton planned to advance on Batchoe with river streamers owned by the Hudson's Bay Company bringing up supplies along the South Saskatchewan river, and as streamers were not available at first, Middleton chose to wait Despite their own panic at Fish Creek, many of the militiamen came to curse "Old Fred" as too timid, but Middleton had sound reasons for not wishing to advance without a means of resupply Middleton knew that the Métis and the Cree were expert horsemen and believed they would ambush any supply wagons, which is why he preferred to bring up supplies and reinforcements via the river

On 5 May 1885, the streamer Northcote was ready and Middleton set off for Batoche On 9 May 1885, the Northcote was stopped by a cable that Dumont had laid across the river outside of Batoche, and its American captain turned back when the boat came under fire The Northcote was a diversion to draw out the Métis and at the same time, the Field Force under Middleton arrived at Batchoe Seeing his troops beginning to panic again, Middleton ordered his wagons to be drawn into a circle to form a strong defensive position On 11 May 1885, Middleton observed that the outnumbered Métis and Cree had to rush from position to position on the Prairies and on the morning of 12 May 1885, Middleton ordered his artillery would open fire on his opponents to pin them down while his infantry would advance Nothing had happened as infantry claimed not to hear the fire of the artillery; after accusing his men of cowardice, Middleton attacked again on the afternoon and with a battalion commanded by a Conservative MP, Colonel Arthur Williams leading the attack Inspired by the example of Williams's battalion, other battalions began to charge forward Shouting enthusiastically, the Canadians raced down from the hill, and disheartened Métis and Cree were soon defeated

Morton described Middleton as cautious, but highly professional officer who was a better tactician than Dumont, who brought the war to a swift conclusion in a manner that was much less bloodier than it could have been For his service in the war, Middleton was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1885 He also received the thanks of the Parliament of Canada and the sum of $20,000

He resigned as head of the Militia in 1890 when a select committee of the House of Commons criticized him for the misappropriation of furs from a Métis prisoner, Charles Bremner, during the rebellion There were also other criticisms of Middleton's command during the Rebellion, such as his hesitancy to unleash the Canadian militia troops to assault the Metis positions at Batoche, and unfair treatmant and poor maintenance accorded the troops under his command

Family

Frederick Dobson Middleton married, as his first wife, Mary Emily Hassall

Lady Marie Cecile Eugenie Middleton

He married in February 1870 as his second wife, Marie Cecile Eugénie Doucet, daughter of Theodore Doucet, NP, of Montreal She was born in Montreal in 1846, and was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Sault-au-Recollet The couple had two sons and a daughter She died at Tateley, Hants, England, 1 November 1899

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
  2. ^ a b Morton, Desmond A Military History of Canada, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999 page 101
  3. ^ Morton, Desmond A Military History of Canada, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999 page 102
  4. ^ a b c d Morton Desmond A Military History of Canada, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999 page 102
  5. ^ Morton Desmond A Military History of Canada, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999 pages 102-103
  6. ^ a b c d e f Morton Desmond A Military History of Canada, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999 page 104
  7. ^ a b Morton Desmond A Military History of Canada, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999 page 103
  8. ^ Morton Desmond A Military History of Canada, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999 pages 104-105
  9. ^ a b Morton Desmond A Military History of Canada, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999 page 105
  10. ^ Morton Desmond A Military History of Canada, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999 page 105
  11. ^ Morton Desmond A Military History of Canada, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999 page 106
  12. ^ Joseph Hicks, "With Hatton's Scouts in Pursuit of Big Bear" repro in Hughes, The Frog Lake "Massacre" 1976
  13. ^ Morgan, Henry James Types of Canadian women and of women who are or have been connected with Canada : Toronto, 1903
Military offices
Preceded by
Richard Luard
General Officer Commanding the Militia of Canada
1884–1890
Succeeded by
Lord Treowen


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