The Battle of Batoche
The Métis Resistance Ends
After the Battle of Fish Creek, Middleton regrouped his forces and then marched on Batoche, the village where the Métis and their Indian allies had their headquarters. The Métis dug themselves into rifle pits in the steep bank of the South Saskatchewan River and waited.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
The Capture of Batoche 1885
Orig. lithograph - Image size - 19" x 24.5"
Found - St. Thomas, ON
Signed WD Blatchly, from sketches, Toronto Lithographing Co.
Pub. by Grip, Toronto, 1885
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
The Steamer Northcote Running the Gauntlet at Batoche, May 8, 1885 (detail)
Orig. lithograph - Image size - 7" x 9.5"
Found - Cookstown, ON
Hand-coloured, Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News Souvenir Number, Pub. Toronto Lithographing Co. 1885
The litho shows the cable clearly about to cut off the funnels of the heavily sand-bagged steamship. Presumably the crew is so preoccupied with avoiding the bullets peppering the boat that they don't see the real danger till it's too late.

Batoche: The Battle of Batoche lasted three days, from May 9, to May 12, 1885. The North West Field Force, under Maj. General Middleton, launched an attack (near side) against some 350 Métis and First Nations people, bunkered down in rifle pits, in front of Batoche (background). Louis Riel (left) and Gabriel Dumont (below) - who was the military leader - were both in the town.

On May 9 Middleton began a frontal assault, by land, in concert with what was to be a water-borne attack by the heavily sandbagged steamer Northcote, bristling with riflemen, who would be put on shore behind the backs of Dumont's men. The steamboat attack fizzled when Dumont ordered the ferry cables lowered, which cut off the tall funnels of the passing steamship. It drifted helplessly down the river with its load of captive riflemen.

The Militia's land attack failed too, as Dumont's men fired mercilessly from their rifle pits. When Middleton pulled back his men, the Métis and Indians advanced and sniped at them constantly.

Over the next two days Middleton bombarded Dumont's positions with heavy guns and sporadic rifle fire. The Métis and Indians held their ground and kept up a peppery sniping, but were running dangerously low on ammunition.

On May 12,Middleton tried to orchestrate a two prong attack, from opposite sides, against the men in the rifle pits around the church. He would feint an attack with a few men on the far side, hoping to draw the defenders out of the trenches. At which time the second more powerful pincer would attack and catch them out in the open. Their signal to move would be the sound of Middleton's group starting to fire. But the cross wind was so strong they did not hear the gunfire, and the support attack never started. Middleton returned to camp, fuming at the failure.

As he ate lunch in frustration, word arrived that the Métis had - after all - come out of their rifle pits to investigate what was going on. They were quickly overrun by a group of Canadians who put them to flight while Middleton was angrily eating lunch.

The battle was over; but Riel and Dumont escaped.

Each side had lost some 25 men.

With the main leaders captured or put to flight - Riel surrendered days later, and Dumont a refugee in the United States - the Northwest Rebellion was effectively over.

 

 

Out to Lunch! Blatchly has wonderfully set the scene to allow us to visualize the events of the battle that was won while General Middleton (right) was having lunch. In the foreground the Militia is attacking the village in the background, around which the Métis and Indians have set up a defensive perimeter of rifle pits.

Beyond is the South Saskatchewan River, and the ferry crossing where the cable was used to cut off the Northcote's smoke stacks, preventing it from dropping off the men behind the defenders.

The heavy guns are shown again (left foreground), but for the first time the importance of the Gatling Gun is recognized by being given prominence in the bottom right of the print - one man and one gun! The key (right) notes #27 - "The Man with the Gatling."

In the campaign, Arthur Howard had established the reputation of his gun, and his own as well. Till the day he died he would be known as Gatling "Gat" Howard. Right, Gat is pictured in a studio with the very gun he used during the North West Rebellion.

The original Souvenir Issue of the Canadian Illustrated News had featured a completed litho of The Capture of Batoche (below) which was virtually identical to the later Blatchly chromolithograph (above) - with one major exception. The bottom right corner, which originally featured another artillery unit rumbling by (right and below), was removed and replaced with Gat Howard (above) in all later issues.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
The Capture of Batoche, 1885
Orig. lithograph - Image size - 14" x 19.5"
Found - Cookstown, ON
Hand-coloured, Canadian Illustrated News Souvenir Edition, Pub. Toronto Lithographing Co. 1885
   
   
Back to the Top
Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. 2007