THE SASKATCHEWAN REBELLION, 1885 267
Isbister, Gabriel Dumont, Moise Ouellette, and Michel Dumas—to Riel, who had been outlawed after the 1870 Rebellion and was living in Montana, asking him to come over and help them. It does not appear that in taking this step the half-breeds contemplated anything more than a constitutional agitation, but they might have known they were playing with fire when they invited Louis Riel to lead them. Riel confined himself for a time to such harmless activities as the drawing up of a Bill of Rights, along much the same lines as that of 1870, but the evidence all points to the conclusion that he had determined to make another attempt to set up a little government of his own in the West.
The winter of 1884–85 passed without incident, and it was not until the end of March that Riel finally showed his hand. A quantity of provisions and forage was stored at Duck Lake, a small settlement near Fort Carlton and about forty miles from Prince Albert. Riel had deter-mined to seize these provisions. Major Crozier, who commanded the Mounted Police at Fort Carlton, was equally determined that he should not have them, and on March 26th sent a small detachment under Sergt. Stewart to remove them to the fort. Gabriel Dumont with a party of half-breeds met the detachment and turned it back. Stewart sent a message to Fort Carlton asking for support; Crozier then set out with a force of about 100 men to help him and found Dumont waiting for him at Duck Lake. Crozier was compelled to retire, after having twelve men killed and about twenty-five wounded. Fort Carlton, being incapable of defence, was evacuated on March 29th, and or), April 3rd Riel took possession.
A few days before these events, the Government at Ottawa had at last awakened to the seriousness of the situation. General Middleton was sent to Winnipeg to look into the matter, and, if necessary, to take the field against the rebels. He reached Winnipeg on March 27th, and then learned of the fight at Duck Lake. All the available forces in Winnipeg were already mobilized.