Further to the east, at Batoche the Metis faced about 800 soldiers. Some of the 275 men which were on the Metis side were Natives. But, most of the Natives in the Northwest had decided not to join in. The Natives who fought with the Metis were mainly from a nearby reserve, a reserve that was led by Chief One Arrow in times of peace.
When the Cree found out that the Metis had lost at Batoche, Poundmaker allowed a letter to be sent to Middleton. Middleton replied with a letter which demanding that Poundmaker give himself up at Battleford on May 26th.
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On May 26, the Cree loaded all their guns into two wagons and then quietly went into Fort Battleford. When Poundmaker approached Middleton, Middleton refused to shake hands. Their Farm Instructor, Robert Jefferson, reported that Middleton began by reprimanding Poundmaker "for taking up arms and murdering innocent settlers. The Chief replied that he had murdered nobody; that he had defended himself when attacked, which he thought he was entitled to do; but they now came to give themselves up. All that the Indians asked was that the women and children might go unharmed."
Jefferson added that "When the Chief got through, the two Stoney murders came forward one by one and confessed their guilt, making some sort of excuses for themselves. The General ordered these into custody, along with Poundmaker and a few others, and told the rest to go back to their reserves."
Meanwhile, a force marched north from Calgary to face Big Bear's band of Cree. As they came to a coulee near Frenchman Butte, in the distance they spotted some rifle pits on a ridge which overlooked the trail. From the opposite side of the coulee, they opened fire with a cannon. The Cree began firing back. The cannon soon found the range; three Cree were wounded and one was killed.
The soldiers went into the wide coulee and tried to attack, but struggled to advance through a marshy area. Beyond the marsh, there was no cover, so it was too dangerous to advance. The few that did found themselves to be easy targets for the Cree who were hidden above in rifle pits. Three soldiers were wounded.
So the soldiers were unable to advance, and they feared running short of supplies. It was decided that it would be safest to withdraw. At the same time, the Cree withdrew and headed north.
When the Cree and their prisoners reached Loon Lake, they stopped to rest. An eight year old White prisoner later reported that he heard Chief Little Poplar outline his plans:
After resting in the wilderness, Little Poplar said the Indians would emerge and capture Battleford and Prince Albert, killing all the Whites. After that, they would take a steam paddle-wheeler down the river and across the big lake to Winnipeg. Here they would join the Metis and kill all the Whites. Then they would take a train to Montreal, kill all the Whites there and, finally, take a big boat to England and kill everybody there.
Obviously, Little Poplar did not have as much understanding of the White man's world as Big Bear and a few of the other chiefs.
The next morning, 47 White troops known as Steele's Scouts caught up to the Cree. They attacked the camp in hopes of freeing some prisoners. But most of the prisoners were in another Cree camp, located on the other side of the Loon Lake ford.
There was fierce fighting. Some natives and one prisoner were able to cross the ford during the fighting. However, the Natives were running out of amunition and were firing stones. The fighting gradually died down as the Natives retreated into the safety of the bush.
While somewhere between five and twelve Cree were killed, none of the Scouts died. Seven of Steel's Scouts were wounded. This was the last of the fighting.
A little later, after the Cree found out from their scouts that White soldiers were coming from all directions, they let their prisoners loose. Eventually most of the Cree, including Wandering Spirit, gave themselves up. Others fled to safety in the United States.
In spite of his age, Big Bear traveled for a hundred miles. When he stopped at a camp near Fort Carleton, the police were called and he was taken prisoner.
to next part: trials and conclusion.