THE SASKATCHEWAN REBELLION, 1885 277
with two 7-pounders and the Gatling, Otter reached the Indian camp at daybreak on May 2nd.
Poundmaker had selected for his camp a position of great natural strength; his men outnumbered Otter's force; and had it not been that they were taken by surprise the Indians would probably have caught the militia in a trap and annihilated them. As it was, after several hours' fighting, the Indians almost succeeded in surrounding the force, and it was only by skilful handling on Otter's part and because of the coolness and resourcefulness of his men, that he succeeded in extricating them from their dangerous position. But this was only accomplished with the loss of eight men killed and thirteen wounded. Poundmaker had won an advantage, but fortunately failed to follow it up, and the force was able to make its way back to Battleford. Early in the fight Big Bear's "runners" had returned to their own camp in a state of much excitement, declaring that the soldiers "fought like' devils, rushing up the hill in the face of the deadliest fire, with additional sensational reports as to the execution wrought by artillery shells." The report of this news caused a delay of some days in the contemplated action of Big Bear and in the meantime other matters engaged his attention. According to Mr. Maclean, the Hudson Bay agent at Fort Pitt, who was a prisoner in Big Bear's camp, Colonel Otter's attack on Poundmaker "was positively providential, for being delivered at the time and in the manner it was, it certainly prevented a union between Big Bear and Poundmaker and the movement of their united forces to Batoche." No further action was taken by the column beyond patrolling the country around Battleford and keeping communications open.
There remains the third column, known as the Alberta Field Force. General Strange had organized at Calgary a force consisting of the 65th Battalion, 350 strong, under Colonel Ouimet; 77 Mounted Police, under Major Steele; the Winnipeg Light Infantry, 300 strong, Colonel Osborne Smith; the Alberta Mounted Rifles, 88 Scouts and one