278 MILITARY HISTORY OF CANADA
gun. On April 20th General Strange started for Edmonton, with a portion of his force, the remainder following a few days later. From there detachments were sent out to Fort Saskatchewan, Battle River, and Fort Pitt.
Early in April Big Bear and his braves, on receiving news of the Duck Lake fight, had gone on the war-path. Evidently this was part of a concerted plan, as both Poundmaker and Big Bear seem to have taken the first success of the half-breeds as the signal to join the insurrection. Big Bear opened his campaign by a massacre at Frog Lake, an isolated post of the Hudson's Bay Company, which was also an Indian agency and a Roman Catholic mission, thirty miles from Fort Pitt. Without warning the Indians surrounded the post and in cold blood shot down Quinn, the Indian agent, Fathers Farfard and Marchand, and a number of others. They carried off two white women and several half-breeds.
Big Bear's next move was to attack Fort Pitt. The post was incapable of defence against such a force as Big Bear brought against it, and on April 15th, Maclean, the Hudson's Bay agent, surrendered it, and with his family and the other traders became prisoners in the Indian camp. Inspector Dickens, a son of the novelist, with a small party of Mounted Police, escaped from the fort and floated down the Saskatchewan to Battleford in a leaky scow. But Big Bear had no use for forts, and after looting the place he and his band wandered about from camp to camp, dragging their prisoners with them.
This was the situation when General Strange took the field. His task was to round up Big Bear and his Indians. Big Bear, however, proved to be a most elusive antagonist, and beyond an inconclusive engagement at Frenchman's Butte, at the junction of the Red Deer and Little Red Deer rivers, on April 28th, it was found impossible to get near enough to his band to attempt a decisive blow. But the Indians were given no rest, many warriors deserted, and Big Bear was finally convinced that he had made a very grave mistake in going on the war-path.