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Lieutenant Colonel J. Deacon notebook
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Lieutenant Colonel J. Deacon notebook

  • 77-1018
  • Item
  • 1885

This item is a notebook containing orders and correspondence of Lieutenant Colonel J. Deacon, commanding officer of the Midland Regiment, during the Riel Rebellion of 1885. Also included in the notebook are telegrams and copies of Deacon's own correspondence to General Middleton.

The Northwest Rebellion was provoked by the militant push across western Canada by agents of the Canadian Pacific Railway supported by the Government of Canada and white settlers disturbing Metis homesteads and their way of life in Manitoba and the Northwest territories on the Saskatchewan River . Louis Riel was persuaded to return to Canada, though he had been in virtual exile in Montana since the Red River Uprising of 1869-1870, to assist the Metis and their native allies in the struggle against encroachment on lands and bureaucratic interference with Metis organization and self-determination. On 19 March 1885 ,Riel declared the establishment of the provisional government of Saskatchewan .

Command of the Canadian government troops was given to Frederick D. Middleton (1825-1898 ) The first skirmish is at Duck Lake, 26 March 1885 . The combatants were mostly North West Mounted Police and volunteers from Prince Albert . Soon after the battle, a Canadian Militia Force is raised as a Northwest Field Force. The Cree were at this time in a state of famine and Poundmaker decided to take advantage of the situation to try (unsuccessfully)to negotiate supplies and moved on to the deserted post of Battleford and thence to Cutknife Creek. Riel moved his Metis forces to Batoche and set up a defended position there.

By April 1, the Midland Battalion has been raised in Kingston, Ontario .Soldiers from Lindsay, Bowmanville, Peterborough, Millbrook, Port Hope, Hastings and Cobourg are among the volunteers under the command of Lt. Col. Arthur T.H. Williams(18---1885). The situation with the Metis is clear, but the native bands were now in some disarray and Indian Agent Thomas Quinn was killed by a member of Big Bear's band setting off the Frog Lake massacre. The Midland soldiers arrived in the west on April 10 and set up tents at Swift Current. Meanwhile, Middleton was heading for Batoche and Big bear had surrounded Fort Pitt which was immediately abandoned by Francis Dickens and the N.W.M.P. Two columns from the Midland ( E Coy. and F Coy)headed north from Swift Current towards Battleford under the command of William Otter.

On April 23, as Deacon's correspondence notes, the steamer “Northcote” left Saskatchewan Ferry north of Swift Current. She was carrying good, oats, hay part of a field hospital, Gatling gun etc. They were headed for Clarke's Crossing. Middle to and Dumont clashed the next day at Fish Creek. The force ledby Otter met Poundmaker on May 2 and was beaten badly at Cutknife Hill and had to retreat to Battleford. Poundmaker's band then moved forward to join Riel at Batoche in spite of Poundmaker's decision to set up camp elsewhere. On May 5,part of the Midland met Boulton's Horse at Clarke's Crossing and moved up to Fish Creek Camp. Middleton was now ready to move on Batoche.

J. Deacon