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272 MILITARY HISTORY OF CANADA

 

protected that it was exceedingly difficult to dislodge them. This is what Boulton calls the "hornet's nest."'

Meanwhile, the troops under Montizambert had succeeded, after desperate exertions, in getting across the river; even bringing their guns with them. It was no fault of theirs that the fight was practically over when they arrived. Both the Grenadiers and the Winnipeg Rifles begged Middleton to let them charge down the ravine and clean out the "hornet's nest," but the Commander-in-Chief felt that the enterprise would cost more in lives than it would be worth. The small remnant of the enemy that remained in the coulee could safely be left to their own devices. As a matter of fact, they stole away to Batoche during the night. The troops camped a few hundred yards from the ravine. The casualties had been heavy; ten killed and over forty wounded. The rebels lost thirteen men killed and eighteen wounded.

It is worth remembering that this was the first battle, and the first campaign in the history of Canada, in which the troops consisted entirely of Canadian militia. Counting those brought over the river by Montizambert, the force at Fish Creek included the Winnipeg Rifles under Major McKeand; the Grenadiers, under Lieut.-Col. Grasett; the Infantry School Corps, under Major Smith; Boulton's Mounted Infantry; "A" Battery R.C.A., under Captain Peters; and the Winnipeg Battery, under Major Jarvis, each with two guns. A company of the Grenadiers and French's Scouts remained on the opposite side of the river, to guard the baggage and supplies.

The forces actually engaged were approximately equal, about three hundred on each side. The militia might claim some advantage over the half-breeds on the score of discipline, although it must be remembered that the great majority were under fire for the first time. They were also better equipped, and had the benefit of artillery. On the other hand, they were fighting in the open, while

1 Reminiscences of the Northwest Rebellions.


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