“… “Yes, yes, yes, but we will not succeed here directly as a result of the contributions from these natives. I can certain of that now. This is not Dawson’s trail, is it? And the indigenous population of this part of the world is nowhere near as sophisticated, both in culture and in intelligence, as the Half-breeds and Indians, as dim as they all are, that we had at our disposal for the march to Ft. Garry. While some of the Africans seem to have been exposed to Mohammedism, this is a rare instance only reserved for the very distant tribes of the northern savannah. And I’m sure monotheism of this sort will only be a positive influence, compared to the cannibalism the forest tribes all practice—but only in the long run will it help to increase their ability to read and write in Arabic. Bah—and that will not cure their laziness for our sakes right now! Only a small number of the Half-breeds and Indians earned our disfavor. The whole of them even took the Sabbath and were quite civil and useful really. When only our presence as British Regulars in Red River meant we were the tip of a broad sword of a contingent of Canadian volunteers, here, I’m afraid, we must not only demonstrate the willingness of England’s military by not only sailing the distance, but we must also carry the mortal burden ourselves and rely not on the African to go to war for us. Those half-minded monkeys will carry us to the battle, if we can properly motivate the beasts. Sadly, I’m afraid, we will be very fortunate if we can secure enough native levies to bring us to our enemy before we may punish him for his transgressions. Come, friends, let us finish this after we eat.” …”
Defiant, the ships of the British Army poised their sails to complete their journey towards the far-flung coast. At the proper distance away from the shallow beach, the anchors slid quickly into the watery darkness and connected with the bottom of the Guinea Coast. Watching above from the slow gliding clouds, the silhouette of several dark teardrops left their larger hosts and meandered their way towards a long sandy break on the rocks. Determined, their final destination was finally within close view.
Men of war rode the sickening lift and fall of the immense silver water clutching and swaying their heavy oars from knee to chest, knee to chest, knee to chest. All eyes watched the contours of the distant horizon. Small fires fueled whiffs of smoke at various spots at the edge of the water. Shifting red coats moved about, out of place, along the grey stonewalls of the fortress. The encampments drew the eyes of the men to the dark forested background beyond the beachhead. Alien. Birds zipped and circled above the edge of the water, and the smell of the fires mingled with the hot, salty air of the Gold Coast. …
- Check out this free digitized source: http://archive.org.
- Primary source writing about the Red River Expedition:
- Wrote The Soldier’s Pocketbook, 1869
- Blackwoods December 1870
- Directorate of History and Heritage 83/309: Narrative of the Red River Expedition: By an Officer of the Expeditionary Force, 1870
- Library and Archives Canada, Manuscript Group 29-E111 Journal of the Red River Rebellion
- Captain G.L. Huyshe. The Red River Expedition (London: MacMillan and Co.) 1871.
- Colonel Wolseley’s official account: Correspondence relative to the recent Expedition to the Red River Settlement: with Journal of Operations, 1871. This wonderfully detailed source is full of implicit and explicit details about the RRE. So far, it is particularly interesting how the British and Canadian intelligentsia wanted to ensure the largely Canadian militia force, although augmented by a regiment of the British 60th Rifles, would be a display of “imperial” power against Riel for the Canadian public. This small detail shows me the documentation from the period is full of promising details and perspectives for my handling of Wolseley. Now I have to keep making time to finish this part of the research so I can start writing the first chapter. Maybe I can have it finished before summer?