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260   MILITARY HISTORY OF CANADA

pouncing the arrival there of the boats sent by the loyal settlers of the Red River. Wolseley had been urged to cross the Lake of the Woods to the North-West Angle, from which a road had been partially built across country to Fort Garry, but as it appeared that thirty-five miles of the proposed route lay through muskeg, and as he had already had had bitter experience of that kind of country, he decided not to risk the experiment.

Convinced by Butler's report of the urgency of the situation at Fort Garry, and anxious to lose no time in getting the expedition through the perilous navigation of Winnipeg river, Wolseley started ahead to Rat Portage, to see to the necessary arrangements. A gale was blowing on the Lake of the Woods, and the canoe was out of the question. With strange lack of foresight he left his trusty Indians behind, and went on in the gig, with its soldier crew, good oaxsmen but poor guides. All night they rowed and sailed through the labyrinth of islands, by the light of a full moon, and all the next day. Bivouacking on an island, they were off again at 4 a.m. They knew they could not be far from Rat Portage, but after wandering about for hours they were forced to the uncomfortable conclusion that they had lost their way. Fortunately an Indian encampment was picked up, and by dint of signs the Chippewa were made to understand their predicament. Finally at 8 p.m., tired and hungry, Wolseley reached his destination.

He at once sent Butler down the Winnipeg to Fort Alexander to bring up as many men familiar with the dangerous rapids of the river as he could get together. As soon as arrangements had been completed at Rat Port-age for bringing down the brigades with the least possible delay, he himself followed in a light canoe. Fortunately the whole expedition managed to get through the many perils of this famous stream without misadventure. Several days later Wolseley reached Fort Alexander where he was welcomed by Donald A. Smith on behalf of the Hudson's Bay Company.


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