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252 MILITARY HISTORY OF CANADA

 

instructions of the Lieutenant-Governor, but he found little enthusiasm among the English settlers. Some of the more hot-headed were eager to attack Riel, but the majority held back. Riel had some time previously invited the English settlers to meet the French in convention to draw up a List of Rights, and there seemed hope that a peaceable way might be found out of the difficulty. To attempt to force the issue at that time might do more harm than good. Finally, however, Major Boulton and some of the other leaders of the English settlers were reluctantly brought over to support Dennis' scheme. With their assistance, a force was organized and provided with such arms and equipment as could be got together. The whole plan, however, was wretchedly mismanaged, and the final outcome was that Riel, without firing a shot, captured a large number of the men, and locked them up in Fort Garry.

If proof were needed of Dennis' utter incapacity to handle such a delicate situation, it is to be found in his attempt to enlist the services of some of the Indians. Knowing the close relations between the half-breeds and the Indians, and the horrible possibilities of an Indian uprising, his action seems little short of criminal madness. Dennis finally abandoned in disgust his duties as a recruiting officer, and returned to Pembina to report to McDougall. The latter, having done all that was humanly possible to make the situation in the Red River Settlement hopeless, toward the end of December packed up his baggage and returned to Ottawa. A bitter controversy followed between McDougall and Joseph Howe, as to the responsibility for the grotesque mismanagement of the Red River situation. The net result so far was that the authority of the Dominion Government had been thoroughly discredited; many of the leaders of the loyal party were imprisoned in Fort Garry ; the Hudson's Bay Company's officers were power-less; the efforts of the saner element among the settlers to unite all parties in a constitutional movement had been


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