Testimony of Gen. Frederick D. Middleton

Examined by MR.. ROBINSON:

Q. You are a major-general in Her Majesty's service? A. I am.
Q. What position do you hold in Canada? A. I am commanding the home militia force.
Q. Where do you reside? A. Ottawa.
Q. Were you called upon for service in these territories at any time? A. I was.
Q. When? A. I think it was on the 23rd of March. I was sent for on the 23rd of March by Mr. Caron and told I should have to leave at once for the North-West.
Q. Mr. Caron is Minister of Militia? A. Yes.
Q. What reason was given you? A. He told me they had news which was of a very bad character; that a rising might take place and I was to go at once, and he asked me when I could go.
Q. When did you start? A. About two hours afterwards.
Q. What did you do first? A. I went straight to Winnipeg. On the way to Winnipeg, I think it was on the train, I heard of the Duck Lake battle. When I got to Winnipeg I found the 90th was almost ready to march, that a small detachment had been sent to Qu'AppeIle and that the Winnipeg battery was ready. And then I heard more news about Colonel Irvine afraid to go to Batoche as it was in the hands of the half-breeds, and I heard a confirmation of the Duck Lake affair. I went to the town hall and inspected the 90th, and that evening I went on the train with the 90th and went straight to Qu'AppeIle without stopping.
Q. How long did you remain at Qu'AppeIle? A. I cannot exactly remember. I was there waiting for the formation of the commissariat.
Q. You left Qu'Appelle and proceeded where? A. To Fort Qu'AppeIle.
Q. And from that you went to Fish Creek? A. Yes.
Q. That was the first occasion on which you met the opposing rebels? A. Yes.
Q. What force was under your command when you got to Fish Creek? A. When I got to Fish Creek I had the 90th. I had previously divided my forces and put half of them on the other side of the river. I had under my immediate command the 90th, the so-called 'A' Battery with two guns, Boulton's scouts, and I think that was all.
Q. How many in all? A. On paper there would be about 420 or 450.
Q. That was your force at Fish Creek? A. Yes; as far as I can remember.
Q. And how many were lost there on your side? A. I think we had - well I forget the exact number. We lost nine or ten killed and forty wounded.
Q. That was on the 24th of April? A. The 24th of April.
Q. You remained there for some short time? A. Until I could get rid of the wounded. We had a large number of wounded and I could not leave them there. I hadn't sufficient force to leave to protect them and I was obliged to wait, and I also wanted oats, but the principal thing was to get rid of the wounded.
Q. Then you proceeded to Batoche? A. Yes.
Q. When did you arrive before Batoche? A. About nine miles from Batoche I struck the trail from Batoche on the 8th, and on the morning of the 9th marched straight on to Batoche, leaving my camp standing.
Q. And when did the engagement begin? A. On the 9th, the instant we got there.
Q. Do you mean you were fired on almost on your getting there?
A. On our arrival, we came on the top of the plateau and we saw a large assembly of men, and we opened fire there.
Q. That was the beginning of the engagement? A. Yes.
Q. The engagement continued till the l2th? A. Yes.
Q. When Batoche was taken? A. When Batoche was taken.
Q. I believe you had some negotiations on the l2th? A. Yes. On the l2th I had moved out to the extreme left of the enemy. I moved to the right in order to draw their attention away, and I left orders with my second in command, that while I was away, as soon as he heard firing, he was to retake the old position we had the previous days, and as I drew the enemy off on the right, he was to press on the left. I went off with the cavalry and guns so as to make as much show as possible, and I kept the enemy engaged some little time. In the middle of our engagement there, which was quite at long bowls, I saw a man galloping across the plains, from the direction of the enemy, with a flag. He came closer, and it turned out to be Mr. Astley. He handed me a letter. He said: 'I am one of the prisoners. I have been sent by Riel to communicate with you, and I have brought you this letter.'
Q. Is this the letter he brought you? A. Yes, that is the same letter.
(Letter put in Exhibit 2l.) This is my answer on the back of it.
Q. Then what did you do with this letter? A. I took it from Mr. Astley and wrote my answer, and gave it to Mr. Astley, who went away with it.
Q. What took place next? A. The next thing was a man on foot came up.
Q. Do you know who he was? A. Yes, he was Mr. Jackson, a brother of the man who was a prisoner. He came up with another document. He had exactly the same story to tell, that he had been sent by Riel, only he was confused. He said he had been told to stand in front of a house with a white flag, and eventually he said he found that was a stupid work, and he came on to me.
Q. Is this the document he brought (Exhibit 22)? A. Yes, to the best of my belief it is. It is an exact copy of it, because it was a little different from the wording of the other one.
Q. Then what did you do in answer to that? A. I took no particular notice of it, as I had already sent an answer back. I looked upon this simply as a copy, and I told Jackson I had sent an answer back by Astley.
Q. How long was it between the time you received the two communications? A. I should say about a quarter of an hour.
Q. And what took place next? A. As soon as that was over, I did what I principally wanted - I had drawn the fire of the enemy. Mr. Astley said: 'I think, sir, Mr. Riel is in a very great state of excitement, and l should not wonder if he would surrender.' I gave orders, and retired my whole force by degrees and fell back upon my camp.
Q. And what took place next? A. When I arrived at the camp, I was very much put out and annoyed to find my orders had been misunderstood, and that instead of their having taken advantage of my feint and having occupied the rifle pits, they were all quietly in camp.
Q. Did you receive any further communications? A. As soon as I found this, I am afraid I used some pretty strong language. The end of it was we attacked. The men were ordered down. I went down myself to the front to see if there was any of the enemy in the entrenchment. I soon got tangible proof of it. The force that had their dinner were brought up, and we began gradually to force our way on. In the middle of that, when we got the artillery down, Mr. Astley came again galloping, having run the gauntlet of both forces. He ran between them, and came with a flag and produced another letter from Riel.
Q. Is this the one he brought you that time? (Producing.) A. Yes, that is the same one.
Q. Is this the envelope it came in? A. Yes. (Exhibits 3 and 4.) I could not hear what Astley was saying. I opened the envelope and handed it to him. I could not hear what he said. I tried to stop the guns firing to hear it but that was hopeless. At last he handed me the envelope and pointed to it and I read what was on the outside of the envelope, and he said, after Mr. Riel had closed the letter, he got it back and wrote on it with an indelible pencil, and he said you better read what that was.
Q. Then what took place? A. Astley said he had better go back with  an answer, and I said no, there was no necessity. He said the prisoners might be massacred. I said there was no fear of that, that we would be there in half a minute. I went on and forced my way, brought the 90th, and dismounted the troops and gradually pushed on.
Q. And then the place was carried? A. Then the place was carried. By a series of rushes we forced our way on and the enemy dispersed altogether, but they still kept up a fire in the distance, but virtually all attempt at defence had ceased with the exception of a few stray shots now and then.
Q. Astley didn't return? A. No, he went down with us to the plateau.
Q. How many of your force was killed on that occasion? A. On that occasion there was six killed, I think, and twelve or thirteen wounded.
Q. That, practically, was the end of the campaign so far as your campaign was concerned? A. Practically, it was.
Q. How long after that was it before the prisoner was brought to you? A. That was the l2th. We halted the l3th and marched on the l4th, and I think it was on the l5th. I had heard he was on that side of the river and I marched as soon as I could, intending to go to Lepine's Crossing. On the way I heard of Riel and Dumont having been seen, and instead of going to Lepine's I turned and halted at Garriepy's crossing and sent out all the scouts I could spare with directions to search the woods as far as Batoche. On the l5th Riel was brought in by two scouts, Hourie and Armstrong, and brought to my tent, and when he entered the tent he produced a paper which I had sent to him, saying if he surrendered I would protect him until his case was decided by the Canadian Government.
Q. What was done with him when he was first brought in? A. He was brought into my tent.  Very few knew he was there. I kept him in my tent all day.  I had another tent pitched alongside and he was put in that tent under charge of Captain Young with two sentries with loaded arms and during the night Captain Young slept in the ten.
Q. Did you invite any conversation from him?  A. I daresay I asked him one or two questions. He talked very freely to me.
Q. And did he make any representations as to his share in the matter? A. No, I cannot hardly remember.  I was writing at the time and then I stopped writing and talked to Riel.  The only one thing I can remember particularly as to his share in the matter was as I was leaving the tent, He said, 'General, I have been thinking whether, if the Lord had granted me as decided a victory as he has you, whether, I should have been able to have put it to a good use.' That was the only thing  he said as I left the tent.  I had talked a good deal with him on different matters.
Q. Then he was sent down with Captain Young? A. Yes. I telegraphed down to the Government to say Mr.. Riel was a prisoner and to know what was to be done with him, and eventually I was directed to send him to Regina which I did, under the charge of Captain Young with twelve men and a sergeant.


Q. You were in command of the forces in the North-West Territories? A. I was.
In the course of that command did you issue any general instructions or proclamations to the inhabitants?  A. Well, once while I was Fish Creek I sent a communication by an Indian to say that the Government had no war against the half-breeds or Indians, that those who had been forced against their will to join Riel would be pardoned if they left and went to their homes and reserves, but I said no pardon should be given to Riel or his immediate aiders and abetters.  It was something to that effect.
Q. Was the proclamation issued over your name?  A. Over my signature.
Q. About what time was that?  A. That must have been between the 24th of April and the 5th of May, while we were lying at Fish Creek with the wounded.
Q. During the time Riel was in our tent did you have any conversations with him regarding his religious views?  A. Well, yes, he talked a good deal about his religion.
Q. did Astley make any remark to you at the time he brought these two message that Riel wished as a condition of his surrender that he should be recognized as the head of the church he had formed at Batoche, or remarks to that effect?  A. No, I don't think so. I remember Astley saying: 'Confound him, he is always bothering about his religion, he is anxious you should know about his religion,' or something to like that.
Q. This was before you saw Riel?  A. Yes.
Q. What did  he say to you, that is Riel, when you had this conversation with him regarding religion? A. I could hardly tell you.  It was a disconnected thing.  He told me that Rome was all wrong and the priests were narrow-minded people. There was nothing particularly, except the ideas of an enthusiast on some religions point.
Q. Did he say to you he was  a prophet?  A. No.
Q. And endowed with eh Spirit of God?  A. No, nothing of that sort.
Q. Under what circumstances was the paper which you sent to Riel offering him protection sent?  A. I don't exactly know what you mean.  That, I think, was sent when Astley told me he was anxious to surrender.
Q. it was when Astley told you he thought he was anxious to surrender that you sent him that?  A. I think I sent it out by a scout.
Q. Was there not a man came on behalf of Riel, after the final charge and after Batoche had been carried, and stated to you Riel would be willing to give himself up under certain conditions?  A. No; I have no recollection of that.
Q. Do you recollect having seen a man name Moise Ouellette, who was one of the councilors of the government of the Saskatchewan? A. I don't remember him particularly.
Q. Do you remember he came to your camp and stated he knew where Riel was, and that he would surrender under certain conditions, and he didn't wish to be followed by anyone? A. Nothing of the sort. If any man had come and told me that, I would have seized him immediately.
Q. That is pretty good evidence he didn't come? A. Certainly.
Q. Your recollection is you gave that little piece of paper to a scout?
A. Yes; with the hope it would reach Riel in some way or another.
Q. Do you recollect the date you gave him this paper? A. No; I cannot exactly say, but it must have been between the l2th and the l5th.
Q. Do you remember he came to your camp and state he knew where Riel was, and that he would surrender under certain conditions, and he didn't wish to be followed by anyone?  A. Nothing of the sort.  If any man had come and told me that, I would have seized him immediately.
Q. That is pretty good evidence he didn't come?  A. Certainly.
Q. You recollection is you gave that little piece of paper to a scout? A. Yes; with the hope it would reach Riel in some way or another.
Q. Do you recollect the date you gave him this paper? A. No; I cannot exactly say, but it must have been between the l2th and the l5th.

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