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A few days after General Middleton23left Qu’Apelle more troops
arrived from Toront[o]. By this time great anxiety was felt for
Battleford and a force of infantry, artillery and sharp-shooters
were despatched from Swift Current to march across the prairie to
relieve the beseiged garrison. Colonel Otter24 was in command of this releiving force … whose approach we hailed with intense thankfulness
and joy that April evening.
Before the releiving column marched in the next day at noon, the Indians staged one last orgy of destruction. They plundered what was still to be found in the town and fired the Hudson’s Bay Company’s store.25 Probably because of the gunpowder stored in the cellar, the building blew up with a terrific explosion in which a number of the enemy were killed … The flames were clearly seen at the camp of the incoming forces. Next morning, Otter’s forces without any Indian opposition took up position on the hill south of the Battle river. The seige was over and yet the tension within the barracks was only reduced, it was not ended. Neither the arrival of the releiving forces at Battleford or the capture of Riel26 at Batoche27 word of which reached us on May 16th had ended the menace of a general Indian uprising, and barely out of sight there still lurked the roving bands of whom Poundmaker28 exercised a somewhat dubious and fitful authority. It was to this immediate problem that Otter now wisely directed his attention.
Forty miles west of Battleford Poundmaker’s camp at Cut Knife Hill was still intact. On the first of May Colonel Otter decided to make a surprise attack by flying column. A train of forty-eight wagons traveled through the moonlit night across difficult country, broken by hills and covered with bush, which cast eerie shadows that could be mistaken for nomad fighters. Battle was begun about five o’clock next morning. The Indians and half-breeds three-hundred strong were well armed and fought fiercely throughout the day. Estimates of the enemies’ losses varied from sixty to one hundred and of Colonel Otter’s eight were killed and twelve wounded ... Towards nightfall Otter decided to break off the engagement. The controversy still rages as to who won this encounter at Battleford …
Though the Indians were somewhat subdued following the Cut Knife engagement desultery fighting still continued and alarms were frequent. We still remained inside the stockade29 … The following day a scouting party brought definite word that Poundmaker had abandoned his camp at Cut Knife and was moving with his men and a large herd of cattle towards the fort.
On the morning of the 20th May a train of four wagons was seen upon the crest of the hill, flying the white flag. Scouts were sent out and met an emissary from Poundmaker asking for terms of surrender … Colonel Otter returned word that the rebels must treat30 with General Middleton.
On the evening of the 24th May Middleton’s column arrived and camp was pitched on a ridge on the Battle River near the barracks. General Middleton had already received a letter from Poundmaker May 23rd saying that he had heard a report of Riel’s surrender31 but did not know if it was true or not. He wished to know the truth and what terms were offered ... General Middleton replied that he had completely defeated Riel at Batoche and had taken him and his councilors prisoners. He had made no terms with Riel and would make none with Poundmaker. It would be wise for Poundmaker to come with his councilors and arms to Battleford on May 26th. Accourdingly Poundmaker and his aides arrived on horse-back on the day appointed … Poundmaker was dressed as a warrior in a bearshin cap with long feathers, a buckskin jacket decorated with brass nails and lavishly beaded … His appearance was commanding and his speech was full of poetic imagery. His main plea was that he had wished no harm, but that his young men had been carried away by excitement and were beyond his control. He again asked for honorable terms, General Middleton replied briefly that he would negotiate no terms with Poundmaker but insisted on the unconditional surrender of both Poundmaker and his councilors with all the ammunition an[d] horses ... All prisoners must be released … This was accepted and Poundmaker, Lean Man, Breaking-the-ice and Yellow-mud Blanket followed Riel to Regina32 …
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University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. 2006. E-mail me