Poundmaker Wins Battle

03 May
English: Poundmaker, a chief of the plains Cre...

Poundmaker, a chief of the plains Cree First Nation, Image courtesy of the National Archives of Canada, C-001875 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Otter versus Poundmaker sounds like a fight between two Indians.  Poundmaker was an Indian, chief of the Crees, but Otter was a colonel in the British army, serving with General Middleton in the Northwest Rebellion of 1885.  Pleased with himself because he had relieved Battleford while his general was being pushed around by Gabriel Dumont and his Métis, Otter thought it would be a good move to attack Poundmaker before he could join forces with Big Bear, and go on to help Louis Riel at Batoche.  Riel was pleading with both to get there in a hurry.

Instead of having his plan approved by General Middleton, Otter wired Governor Dewdney and was given his permission.  He began his march from Battleford on the afternoon of May 1, with 325 men, including 75 members of the Northwest Mounted Police.

On the moonlit night of May 3, 1885, the force was spotted by an Indian scout.   There was a race for the top of Cut Knife Hilll and the Mounties got there first.  If Otter had attacked then, while the Indians were disorganized, he might have won his goal easily.  Instead, he decided to station his infantry on the hill first, and this gave Poundmaker time to hide his men in fissures on the slope, behind trees and shrubs.  Otter’s force was surrounded. The Gatling gun and the seven-pounders which the American army had provided fired aimlessly into the night.  The hidden Indians would hold up bonnets or rags on sticks and then shoot the soldiers who exposed themselves to fire.

Although the Indians were outnumbered three-to-two, the fighting went on for seven hours.  Otter’s men were exhausted.  The gun-carriages had broken down.  Reluctantly, Otter retreated to Battleford.

English: Louis Riel, after a carte de visite f...

Louis Riel, after a carte de visite from 1884. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Father Cochin, who had been a prisoner in Poundmaker’s camp, said later that if Poundmaker had not restrained his Indians, Otter’s force would have been slaughtered.  It is believed that the great Indian leader knew the rebellion would be crushed soon, and thought there was no point in being charged with the slaughter of government troops at Cut Knife Hill.

Interesting, isn’t it? So, to read even more about Chief Poundmaker and this battle, I have a few places to suggest: the University of Saskatchewan, the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, a new site I just found has a little on it, but you can spend much of your time just clicking around the site is The Loyal Edmonton Regiment Military Museum, the Order of Thelemic Knights is very interesting, the First Peoples of Canada. All good places to start.


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20 responses to “Poundmaker Wins Battle

  1. seeker

    May 3, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    So Poundmaker sounded like a good Indian and spared a few lives. Just don’t understand why the white army just won’t live the alone. That’s a gorgeous looking Riel. He should be the national Hero of Canada if there is one. Thank you for the story, TK. 😛

    • tkmorin

      May 3, 2013 at 11:02 pm

      You’re welcome; I’m glad you enjoyed it. Actually, the French think of Riel as a hero … The English were the ones who didn’t think that! 🙂

  2. CulturalRites

    May 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Excellent article. I was in Cut Knife last July, and researched the same battle. A short post on the day is at

    • tkmorin

      May 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Thank you, I’ll go see it! 🙂 Thanks for dropping by and leaving a footprint!!

    • tkmorin

      May 3, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      Thank you!! 🙂 Glad you came by for a visit!

  3. Professor VJ Duke

    May 3, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Sure am!

  4. Shelli@How'sitgoingeh?

    May 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Interesting! I have another subject request – I’m very fascinated but do not know much about the Metis people! Thanks for writing about Louis Riel!

    • tkmorin

      May 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      Umm … yes, that would be an interesting post or two … I’ll see what I can do!! 🙂

  5. Author's Thought

    May 3, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Reblogged this on Author's Thought – SLS Oborowsky and commented:
    Read a bit of history on Bite size Canada

  6. L. Marie

    May 3, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Very interesting. With the mention of the Gatling gun, I can help being reminded of The Last Samurai (the Tom Cruise movie) and how the advent of that weapon showed the contrast between two cultures there.

    • tkmorin

      May 3, 2013 at 9:47 am

      Really? I didn’t know that … Do you recommend the film? Thanks for the comment!! 🙂

  7. Professor VJ Duke

    May 3, 2013 at 9:31 am

    It is interesting! I love history, man!

    • tkmorin

      May 3, 2013 at 9:39 am

      That makes me happy … So you’ve fallen in my snare, have you? 🙂


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