Threats Internal and External

Provisional Government Rule

Fort Pitt, a North-West Mounted Police post

Caption: Fort Pitt, a North-West Mounted Police post

The police were obviously not prepared to obey the rebels. Assistant Commissioner Lief N.F. (Paddy) Crozier commanding Fort Carlton was no man to give in. He also controlled the Duck Lake trading post located between Carlton and Batoche where there were stores of food and ammunition. Though the post was of some importance locally, it was hardly worth an ill-prepared battle. Crozier was advised not to move before the arrival of reinforcements; however, urged on by a few zealous volunteers and certain of his strength and his cause, he took to the road at the head of 55 men. This initiative would cost him dearly.

On 26 March, while moving towards Duck Lake, which he knew to be already under Métis control, Crozier was ambushed by a Métis party under Gabriel Dumont. The fight was brief and violent, leaving 12 policemen dead and 11 wounded. The bloodshed surprised and unsettled Riel, who did not want Dumont to pursue a police force who, in their haste to retreat, had abandoned some of their casualties and equipment in the field.

Dumont's victory set several Aboriginal groups on the warpath. Divided, the police would be easy prey. On 28 March, abandoning Fort Carlton, they fell back on Prince Albert. Further west, in the Battleford area, other law enforcement officers barricaded themselves in their post along with the white population, leaving the surrounding area to Cree and Blackfoot groups. Even further west, at Frog Lake, the Aboriginals massacred some settlers.

In early April 1885, as Ottawa finally began to see that it had lost control over events on the North Saskatchewan River, the Métis leader realized that his Indian allies were not entirely under his control.

Additional Images

Louis Riel, 1870-1871