Colonel Williams Statue

from Wikipedia
By May 12, 1885, Métis defences were in poor shape. Of the original defenders, three-quarters had either been wounded by artillery fire or were scattered and divided in the many clashes with the Canadians on the outskirts of the town. Those that still held their positions were fatigued and desperately short of ammunition. They resorted to hunting in the underbrush for bullets fired by government troops and firing them back and some fired nails and rocks, forks and knives, instead of bullets, out of their rifles.

Middleton's attack plan on this day was designed to mirror the success of the previous day's flanking feint, with one column drawing defenders away to the north and a second, under Colonel Bowen van Straubenzee, assaulting the town directly. At first, on the morning of May 12th, Middleton's plan went awry. Van Straubenzee and his men did not attack, because the wind was blowing away from them and they did not hear the sound of the north column's gunfire. Middleton, who had been with the north column, returned to the camp in a rage because van Straubenzee had not attacked. He shouted abuse at van Straubenzee and the Canadian colonels, and stalked off to lunch.

The previous night, some of the senior Canadian officers, exasperated by Middleton's caution, had discussed undertaking a charge. Now van Straubenzee was more amenable to this, as well. After noon, the Midlanders and Royal Grenadiers moved forward again, to a point near the Batoche Cemetery. No one knows precisely who ordered the wild mass Canadian charge which now ensued. Firing at will, and cheering, the Midlanders and Grenadiers, aided by the Winnipeg 90th Rifles, rushed at the Métis rifle pits. Many of the Métis fighters were still out of position, having been drawn away from the cemetery and church to the north-east by Middleton's feint that morning. Ammunition on the Métis side was very low. Nevertheless, they resisted bravely, aided by sharpshooters firing from across the Saskatchewan River at the charging militiamen.

However, the charge was irresistible. Middleton ordered the rest of the troops to assist by covering the flank of the charging men. Howard and his Gatling [Gun] were moved up. The charging militia stormed into the village of Batoche. Then their enemies rallied. Métis and Indians who had been drawn away to the east by Middleton's feint in the morning now appeared, and commenced a heavy fire from rifle pits in brush near the village. A senior Canadian officer, Captain French, was killed as he fired from a second story window. But the artillery and the Gatling were brought up to break this new resistance. The last defenders of Batoche surrendered.

Straubenzee's soldiers had performed brilliantly, charging into Batoche in the face of heavy fire and driving the remaining Métis clear of the town.

Middleton's plan, plus an impetuous charge by Canadian militia had seen the last defenders overrun, and resistance at Batoche ended.

Use the form below to comment on this article. A name is required, optional email address will not be revealed.