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Wolseley Expedition

The Wolseley Expedition (also known as the Red River Expedition) was a troop movement authorized by Sir John A. Macdonald to confront Louis Riel and the Métis in 1870, during the Red River Rebellion, at the Red River Settlement in what is now the Canadian province of Manitoba. The expedition was also intended to counter American expansionist sentiments in northern border states.

Under the leadership of Colonel Garnet Wolseley, the expedition set out from Toronto, Ontario in an attempt to interdict Riel. The U.S. Government had refused permission for the troops to cross U.S. soil, and many thought it impossible to move a military force into western Canada via an all-Canadian route, the Dawson Trail having been mapped out only three years earlier and the railway still many years away.

The expedition travelled to Georgian Bay. They then travelled by steamer across Lake Huron and Lake Superior to arrive at Fort William in June. From there the troops carried small boats to Lake Shebandewon. Travelling further westwards, they passed through Fort Frances to Lake of the Woods. They proceeded down the Winnipeg River and across the south basin of Lake Winnipeg to the Red River finally arriving at Fort Garry in late August.

Wolseley formed up his troops and immediately began his advance on Upper Fort Garry. Riel and his followers abandoned the fort with the result it was taken in a "bloodless" action.

An eyewitness account of the expedition's arrival at Upper Fort Garry, provided by a member of the expedition, William Perrin, appeared in the Manitoba Free Press in August 1900 on the 30th anniversary of the arrival. Perrin was a regular British soldier of the 60th Kings Royal Rifles Corps.

The expedition is considered by military historians to have been among the most arduous in history. Over 1,000 men had to transport all their provisions and weaponry including cannon over hundreds of miles of wilderness. At numerous portages, corduroy roads had to be constructed. All this was endured for over two months, along with the summer heat and the inevitable plagues of blackflies and mosquitoes.

Following the successful completion of the expedition, Wolseley penned a tribute to his men in recognition of their extraordinary efforts.


(Source Wikipedia)