On March 26, 1885, the 150 to 200 Métis and Aboriginal warriors under the command of Gabriel Dumont defeated a combined group of 90 Prince Albert Volunteers and North-West Mounted Police led by their superintendent Leif Newry Fitzroy Crozier at Duck Lake, outside Batoche. In response, the federal government sent Major General Frederick Middleton in command of 3,000 troops to the area, where Middleton incorporated the mostly 2,000 English-Canadian volunteers and NWMP.
Looting of Battleford
On March 30, 1885, a raiding party of Cree people, short of food due to declining bison populations, approached Battleford. The white inhabitants fled to the nearby Northwest Mounted Police post, Fort Battleford. The Crees then took food and supplies from the abandoned stores and houses. In an argument, an Indian Agent named Rae was shot and killed.
Frog Lake Massacre
On April 2, 1885, near Frog Lake, Saskatchewan (now in Alberta) a Cree raiding party led by Wandering Spirit attacked a small town. Angered by what seemed to be unfair treaties by the Canadian government and by the dwindling buffalo population, their main source of food, Big Bear and his Cree decided to rebel after the successful Métis victory at Duck Lake. They gathered all the white settlers in the area into the local church. They killed Thomas Quinn, the town's Indian Agent, after a disagreement broke out. The Cree then attacked the settlers, killing nine and taking three captive.
The massacre prompted the Canadian government to take notice of the growing unrest in the North-West Territories. When the rebellion was put down, the government hanged Wandering Spirit, the war chief responsible for the Frog Lake Massacre.
On April 15, 1885, 200 Cree warriors descended on Fort Pitt. They intercepted a police scouting party, killing a constable, wounding another, and captured a third. Surrounded and outnumbered, garrison commander Francis Dickens (son of famed novelist Charles Dickens) capitulated and agreed to negotiate with the attackers. Big Bear released the remaining police officers but kept the townspeople as hostages and destroyed the fort. Six days later, Inspector Dickens and his men reached safety at Battleford.
Battle of Fish Creek
On April 24, 1885 at Fish Creek, Saskatchewan, 200 Métis achieved a remarkable victory over a superior government force numbering 900 soldiers who were sent to quell the rebellion. The reversal, though not decisive enough to alter the outcome of the war, temporarily halted Major General Frederick Middleton's column's advance on Batoche. That was where the Métis would later make their final stand.
Battle of Cut Knife
On May 2, 1885, the Cree war chief Fine-Day defeated Lieutenant Colonel William Otter at the Battle of Cut Knife near Battleford. Despite their use of a Gatling gun, a flying column of Canadian militia and army regulars, government forces were defeated. Fine-Day was affiliated with the chief Poundmaker.
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