By Alan Lester

The Red River Expedition with Colonel Garnet Wolseley’s boat featured flying the ensign at Kakabeka Falls, Frances Anne Hopkins, 1877:

We understand the British Empire’s military campaigns mainly via the accounts of the officers who led them. These records render the acquisition of territory, the crushing of dissent and the seizing of plunder into honourable enterprises but, when published, they were also about self-promotion. A heroic narrative, leavened with the correct dose of self-deprecation, could launch the career of an ambitious officer with literary flair. The best-known example is probably Winston Churchill, whose talent for burnishing his own credentials in stories of military campaigning led a reporter to nickname him “Pushful, the Younger”. It was his writing nonetheless, that helped propel his election as an MP.

Churchill may have been guilty of some exaggeration, but according to a report written with seething resentment by a Canadian surveyor in 1871, the most famous Victorian general, Garnet Wolseley, may have launched his own career with a tissue of lies about the legendary Red River Expedition.

The Premiss

With the accomplishment of Confederation in 1867, the separate colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were finally united under one, British settler-dominated, government. To the west of this confederation lay Rupert’s Land, a territory the size of Europe belonging nominally to the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). Two hundred years of over-hunting bison and beaver had reduced the company’s profits from the fur trade so it was content to sell the region to the new Canadian government for £300,000.

The Red River drainage basin, with the Red River highlighted:

Within this territory lay the Red River Valley, inhabited by around 10,000 Métis (descendants mainly of French fur traders and Indigenous women), Ojibwe, Cree, and French Catholic and British Protestant colonists. Under the HBC’s light touch authority, this disparate population had been left largely to its own devices, although tension was mounting as more British settlers arrived from Ontario.

The Canadian Prime Minister, John Macdonald, and the imperial officials in London were keen to extend the Canadian government’s authority over this region, cementing it as part of the British Empire against potential American claims. Only a few years before, American Fenians had been raiding into Canada in support of Irish independence from Britain and US congressmen were urging an alliance with the Métis to annex the Red River Valley. The British and Canadian governments agreed on the need to demonstrate sovereignty. The problem was that neither the HBC nor the Canadian government had bothered to consult the Red River Valley’s inhabitants.  It was left for the charismatic Métis leader Louis Riel to organise an assembly expressing their demands.

Louis Riel, after a carte de visite from 1884:

In March 1870 the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia became the first elected government at the Red River Settlement, with 28 representatives and Riel as president. This provisional, largely Métis, government was not opposed to incorporation within Canada in principle. However, the representatives sought to ensure that the Métis would keep their existing land holdings, receive representation in the legislature in Ottawa and gain recognition for French language and Catholic religious rights.

The first confrontation occurred when Macdonald’s government sent surveyors from Ottawa to map out the region in anticipation of its resettlement. Riel’s assembly sent armed men to turn them back. They also blocked the newly appointed Lieutenant Governor, demanding that the terms of incorporation be negotiated before his installation.

Although Riel’s assembly was elected it did not speak for all of the region’s inhabitants. Some of the English-speaking Protestants, including Orangemen originally from northern Ireland, feared further Fenian incursions, a Catholic government and US interference. Outraged by the Assembly’s assumption of authority, they tried to instigate its overthrow but were taken captive by Riel’s supporters. They escaped before Riel could trade off their release as part of the negotiations with the Canadian government. Thomas Scott, an Orangeman determined on Protestant governance, tried again to raise an insurrection. This time the Assembly put him on trial and had him executed, Riel acting as his translator in the French-speaking court.

Canadian Parliament Buildings Opened 1866: https://www

Despite’s Riel’s emissaries persuading the Canadian parliament in Ottawa to recognise Riel’s provisional government as a step towards incorporation, Macdonald insisted that “these miserable half-breeds”, should disband or “must be put down”. A military expedition was required and Macdonald declared, “I shall be very glad to give Colonel Wolseley the chance of glory” as its leader.

Colonel Garnet Wolseley was only too happy to oblige.

Garnet Wolseley

Wolseley had gained his promotion to Colonel exceptionally quickly as a result of reckless bravery storming trenches and forts in Burma, the Crimea, India and China. During a period of leave from active duty after the Second Opium War he had travelled as a civilian through the Civil War USA to meet Confederate generals and learn what he could of their strategy. General Lee had “awed” him with his “natural, … inherent greatness” and towards the end of his life, Wolseley was about to return to the USA to unveil Lee’s statue before being instructed that it would be impolitic given his role as commander of the British Army.

Garnet Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley, National Gallery of Ireland, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Macdonald’s determination to crush Riel’s “rebellion” presented Wolseley with the opportunity of his first independent command. Already stationed in Canada, he lobbied local and imperial politicians as well as his own military commanders to lead the expedition against Riel and the Assembly. The choice, he argued, was between a Canada modelled on Anglophone, Protestant Ontario, “the go-ahead portion of British North America” or a dominion more akin to French-speaking, Catholic Quebec, “always lethargic, progress being neither known nor desired there”. Wolseley put it to his superiors that one last deployment of regular British troops before their planned withdrawal, crushing Métis dissent and securing the US border, would dramatically enhance the prospects for Canada’s subsequent self-reliance. Macdonald promised that his government would shoulder three quarters of the cost, the British Treasury paying only for the remainder.

Well before receiving the order to mount an expedition, Wolseley had already drafted his plans to lead around 400 British regulars of the 60th Rifles, some Engineers and medical corps, plus 1,200 men of the Ontario and Quebec militias from Toronto the 1,200 miles to Riel’s headquarters at Fort Garry in Winnipeg.

Wolseley’s Narrative

Wolseley had taken to writing when the Quartermaster-General had suggested he write a practical guide for troops on campaign after the Second Opium War. His Soldier’s Pocket Book for Field Service was published in 1869, as Riel was planning the Assembly. It seems clear that Wolseley intended to publish a narrative of his expedition from the start, aiming it at a British readership hungry for tales of imperial adventure and conquest. However, he would face two major frustrations.

The first was that the expedition was taking place while both his military superiors and the British public were absorbed with the Franco-Prussian War. The shocking ease of the Prussian victory and its implications for British military preparedness took up much of the press’s attention at the very time that Wolseley wanted to unleash his narrative. He complained that “No home newspapers cared to record” his expedition’s “success, nor to sound one single note of praise in its honour”.

The second frustration was the absence of any military victory. The expedition took three months to reach Fort Garry, by which time Riel’s Assembly had dispersed and the “rebels” had all gone home. Wolseley’s troops marched into an abandoned fort while Riel himself watched from the far bank of the river before riding into exile across the US border. Captain Redvers Buller helped organise a consolatory victory ceremony in the empty fort, writing “it does so disgust one to have come all this way for the band to play God save the Queen”.  

If he was to make his name from a heroic rendition of this expedition, Wolseley would have to make the most of the difficulties of the journey itself.

Wolseley’s Narrative of the Red River Expedition was published anonymously in the popular Blackwood’s Magazine in 1871. Everyone knew who had written it. It may not have attracted quite the immediate attention that Wolseley had hoped for, but it still shapes the conventional understanding of the expedition as an unparalleled feat of logistical mastery, adaptation to circumstances and almost superhuman endurance. The Wikipedia entry on the “Wolseley Expedition” tells us that it “is considered by military historians to have been among the most arduous in history”.

The Canadian government’s surveyor, Simon James Dawson, had been tasked with recruiting and employing some 800 voyageurs – local men used to navigating fur-laden canoes along the lakes and rapids along the route – to act as Wolseley’s boatmen and guides. Wolseley complained that they were mostly “a half-breed population” who proved next to useless. His biographer Stephen Manning describes them as “clearly taken from the dregs of society”. Not only did Wolseley allege that the voyageurs were drunk for much of the time, he also suspected that they were deliberately impeding progress due to their sympathies for Riel. Wolseley’s own soldiers had to man, navigate and carry the boats, whilst being prepared to fight at any moment.

Wolseley complained that Dawson was also supposed to have built a road traversing a critical 47 mile section of the route between Thunder Bay and the Shebandowan Lakes. According to Wolseley it was not only unfinished but in a terrible state. What was worse, much of the basic equipment for the expedition including appropriate, lightweight boats for portage and harnesses for the men to carry the boats and their provisions, supplied locally, was deficient. Wolseley’s men had constantly to repair the inadequate boats and adapt their own harnesses to a design innovated by their commander himself.

An added difficulty, according to Wolseley’s narrative, was the potential threat of the indigenous “Chippewa” (Ojibwe Anishinaabe) people, whose land he had to traverse. Wolseley thought they were “an extremely dirty race: the men are very lazy, and cannot be depended upon to continue at any work they may be employed upon … They expect to be well paid by travellers in presents … so their presence along the line of route added to the difficulties to be overcome”.

Ojibwe (Chippewa) Chief Sha-có-pay, George Catlin, 1832:

When “a deputation of Indians from the neighbourhood of Fort Francis arrived to inquire what we were doing, and what were to be our intended movements”, Wolseley dismissed their complaints “that the passage of so many boats through their waters had frightened their fish, so that but little was now to be had” and that “our men having at many places thrown empty barrels into the rivers … scared the pike and sturgeon, alleging that even the grease from these barrels had been generally destructive to fish of all sorts”. These protestations, he declared, were the result of “someone putting this idea into their heads”. That someone, no doubt, being the local Catholic missionary.

Given the deficiencies of Dawson’s preparation, Wolseley and his officers’ personal example, throwing themselves cheerfully into portage, logging and road building work, was, according to the Narrative, critical to maintaining the troops’ morale. As the expedition moved slowly westward, Wolseley became explorer, diplomat, civil engineer, inventor and sailor as well as soldier.  All the while, carrying a tremendous weight of responsibility, “for every mail from the north-west brought urgent appeals from its inhabitants, praying for the earliest possible arrival of the force amongst them … all eyes and thoughts were bent upon the expeditionary force as the sole chance of deliverance from the bondage, both of mind and body, to which every loyal man was there subjected.”

Through sheer force of will, readers were assured, Wolseley prevailed, ensuring the successful arrival at Fort Garry of an expedition that at one point was stretched across 150 miles of territory.

There is no doubt that the journey was arduous. One of the Ontario militiamen, William Hubbard, wrote in his own reminiscences, “By lake and by land we had a lot of hard work. We climbed hill after hill with heavy loads on our backs. We crossed forty-seven portages – about seven miles of hard and wearying tramping for heavy-leaden men – beside dragging the boats over the portages or running them empty down the rapids. … a portage is a place where you go round the rapids of a river by land taking with you over the way … your boat or canoe and all that you have been carrying in it … we had to drag our boats over the portage in this fashion – a long strong rope was securely fastened in the bow of the boat. Then strong sticks were fastened to the rope at intervals, so that two men could grasp a stick handily, one on each side of the rope and so on for the requisite number of men to haul the boat along. Next five or six men would hold the boat on each side to keep her on an even keel … In some cases we had as many as thirty men hauling a boat. After getting the boat in her native element again, back we would tramp to get the supplies over.”

Hubbard included the lyrics of a song that the militia sang to keep up morale:

Some grumble loudly and exclaim ‘it is not what I expected,

I never forget that vast stockade would have to be erected;

t’was only as a volunteer that I left my abode,

I never thought of coming here to work upon the road …’

T’is true the roads are rather rough, the rapids too are swift.

And on those cursed portages the loads are hard to lift,

But never mind, we’ll struggle on not heeding wind or weather,

We’re sure to get along if we only pull together.

The militiaman also included what he described as an “amusing” tale. On picket duty by the river one night he called out a challenge to a “French half-breed” (Métis) man, canoeing past. When the man could not respond in English, Hubbard and his comrades locked him in the guardhouse for the night and made “the poor half breed believe he was going to be shot in the morning. The half-breed was so frightened over it that he could not eat his breakfast, and when he was marched off [to be released] with the other prisoners between soldiers with fixed bayonets he could hardly walk as he believed his time had come”. Despite their treatment of this “half breed”, Hubbard emphasised that the militia’s recapture of Fort Garry would give “protection to all alike no matter what their religion or colour may be”.

Camp scene of Métis people with carts on prairie. Manitoba, Canada, 1874:

All colonial army campaigns were arduous, but reading Wolseley’s and Hubbard’s accounts makes one wonder whether it was not just Wolseley’s organisation, determination and resilience that marks the Red River Expedition out. In colonial campaigning, wherever possible, the basic portering work for materiel and supplies, other than the rations and equipment issued to individual soldiers, was assigned to locally recruited or coerced “natives”. Unusually, British soldiers and white colonial militia had to carry all the Red River expedition’s supplies as well as their own personal equipment. Dawson’s failure to recruit sufficiently pliable “Indians” for the job was a key reason why Wolseley was so disappointed with him.

Wolseley borne by African bearers on the Ashante Campaign, 1874, from Byron Farewell, Queen Victoria’s Little Wars, Wordsworth Military Library, 1973

Wolseley told his readers that the “Christian Chippewa” employed to carry baggage had “positively refused to go any farther” because they were “terror-stricken by the warlike reports that Riel’s emissaries had spread amongst the Indians in that district”. In his farewell speech to the militia he noted, “You had to carry on your backs a vast amount of supplies over …  forty-seven portages … a feat unparalleled in our military annals”.

Dawson’s explanation for the lack of “native” porters was somewhat different: “These Indians simply refused the service because they had been worked like beasts of burden … they having done much more than their share man for man, of dragging the boats up the Kaministiquia”. Since Wolseley was unable to compel them to go any further, they simply went home.

Four years later, when Wolseley was leading the expedition against the Ashante in West Africa, he was similarly “guilty of thinking that the local populace would be grateful to work” for him “and that this alone should suffice. He could not understand why the locals did not relish the opportunity of carrying 50lb loads on their heads for over 70 miles” (Manning). This time though, Wolseley found an easier remedy. He instructed a Royal Navy ship to cruise the coastline, kidnapping men from local villages and forcing them to work. Ironically, the expedition was justified as an intervention against Ashante forms of slavery.

Dawson’s Counter-Report

Dawson came to read Wolseley’s account after copies of Blackwood’s Magazine arrived in Canada. Full of barely suppressed rage, he prepared his own report and had it printed for the benefit of the Canadian Parliament. He intended, he said, to draw “aside the flimsy veil” of deception in Wolseley’s no doubt “very readable paper”. Wolseley’s was a narrative, according to Dawson, “written by one whose spurs had to be somehow won” with “the exaggeration of difficulties”. “When he next tries his hand at romance”, Dawson fumed, he “should endeavour to keep more within the range of probability”.

Simon James Dawson, Surveyor for the Red River Expedition and later, Member of Parliament:

Dawson’s main grievance was Wolseley’s description of the voyageurs as “the most helplessly useless men that it is possible to imagine!” Dawson had recruited “Iroquois”, “Algonquins”, Métis and “raftsmen from the Trent and pure Indians from the various points on Lake Superior” with the promise of £1,800 between them, paid in cash once they reached Fort Garry. He had insisted on managing them himself rather than trusting them to Wolseley’s command, because they “held all fixed rules and restraint in abhorrence … [each] would have his own views about what he was to do and how he should do it, and would, without meaning it, be very likely to give offence to those accustomed to unquestioning obedience”. But Wolseley’s allegations that “some were broken-down drunkards” and that “all belonged more or less to the class known in America as loafers, men who lived, no one knew how, spending all their time in bars, liquoring up and smoking”, was a “foul aspersion”.  

Voyageurs Shooting the Rapids, 1879 by Frances Anne Hopkins:

Without the voyageurs, “who have their home in the forests, and whose summers are spent, not ‘in bars liquoring up,’ but on stormy lakes or foaming rivers, in the pursuit of an adventurous and dangerous calling”, Dawson retorted, “the Northwest Territories might possibly have been lost to Canada”. In fact, “there is not a more steady, sober, or hard-working class of people in the community. If proof were needed of the efficiency of those who accompanied the Expedition, I could point to the numerous letters given to them by the captains of their respective brigades, thanking them for their services, but there is a still better proof, plain and palpable to everyone, in the fact of their having carried the Expedition safely to its destination. As to their ‘liquoring up’ there was no liquor allowed”. The voyageurs’ “calling may perhaps be considered a humble one”, he wrote, “but that is no reason why, when they perform important public services, they should be utterly ignored and their hard won laurels snatched from them and placed on the brows of others”. As for Wolseley: “If there be a degree of ingratitude more reprehensible than another it is exhibited by him, who, to use a trite saying, ‘turns round to abuse the bridge which carried him safely over.’”

Aside from denigrating those who had enabled his success, Dawson accused Wolseley of fabricating a story to suggest that the corruption and uselessness of the local officials had presented yet another obstacle that he alone could overcome. The story was of a young man employed as a “book-keeper” at a roadside station on the route. Somewhat naively, the official had apparently admitted to Wolseley’s aides that his uncle, the Minister of Public Works, had offered him a job with the expedition solely so that he could get a free passage to see his brother in Manitoba. Dawson declared “this is a pure fabrication. The Minister of Public Works had no relative whatever, on the expedition, and it is difficult to find any explanation that could give colour to the slander … Here, then, is a purely fabulous incident brought in by the author of the narrative for a very unworthy purpose … here this writer of fiction, not content with the general abuse in which he has indulged so freely, manufactures and gives currency to a pitiful and spiteful tale … The tale, too, is as stupid as it is malicious, for here at least, it is easily refuted, but then no doubt the author of the narrative reckoned on such tattle being believed in England”.

It was not only uncooperative voyageurs and officials that Wolseley had invented, fumed Dawson. Most of the difficulties of the route itself consisted of “exaggerated statements”. No one, asserted Dawson, “having experience of such matters, will believe that it needed four hundred regular troops who, whatever their good qualities might be, were strangers to the country and the manner of travelling in it to carry treble their number of Canadians, voyageurs and volunteers, through the forests of their native country”.

Dawson felt impelled to “correct the error, into which the narrative falls in almost every matter of fact treated of”. Storms of a “tropical character” had not really “swept away” bridges and completely destroyed “long portions of the road, which had been constructed with infinite toil”. Rather, “one small bridge was damaged, a culvert loosened, and some clayey portions of the newly made road-bed rendered, for a time, very soft and sticky”.

The local horses supplied were not broken down and unfit, but in rude health. The harnesses approved for their use were those generally used for such work and did not have to be redesigned. The stores provided were perfectly adequate and did not require Wolseley’s personal intervention to bring up to scratch. Indeed, the exasperated Dawson countered, in “every circumstance of the Expedition”, Wolseley “seems to have taxed his inventive genius to find modes of expressing himself in absolute contradiction of the facts”.

What could have been most damaging of all to Wolseley’s reputation was Dawson’s radically different account of the challenges presented by the route itself. From Toronto, he explained, the railway took the men 95 miles to Collingwood. From there, steamers chartered in advance took them along lakes Huron and Superior some 520 miles to Thunder Bay. The road that Dawson had already built took them the best part of the next 47 miles to Lake Shebandowan, although the troops did have to corrugate the last twenty miles or so. The final 550 miles to Fort Garry was where most of the 47 boat portages were required, but even there, “The road … had been much used in former years. It was a link in the route by which the French, nearly two hundred years ago, carried the flag of their country to the plains of the Saskatchewan, and it was for many years the highway to the North-West Company of Canada, in carrying on a very extensive trade with the interior. It has been estimated that two thousand people passed over it, yearly, when the company was in the heyday of its prosperity, and although it had long been abandoned, it will be readily believed that it presented no serious difficulty”.

G. L Huyshe, Plan of Route Followed by Red River Expeditionary Force From Lake Superior to Fort Garry During the Summer of 1870 (1871):

Dawson’s summary of the expedition’s passage could not have been more different from Wolseley’s: “With every appliance which the country could command, magnificent steamers on Lakes Huron and Superior, good horses and waggons for the land roads, boats in every way adapted to the navigation of inland waters, and so light as to be easily transported on portages, with voyageurs to man them, well-skilled and accustomed to their work, the Expedition made its way to the Red River Settlement”. Dawson’s conclusion? “So strong has been the principle of evil in [Wolseley] that he has written a scandalous fiction, remarkable for nothing so much as its folly, unless it be its wickedness”.

The Judgement of Posterity

Evan as Dawson presented his report in Ottawa, he suspected that Wolseley’s narrative would more likely be handed down to posterity. Published “so remote from the scene” in the imperial metropolis, it “could … be effected before refutation or denial could confront him”. As Mark Twain is supposed to have said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.” Dawson nevertheless hoped that Wolseley would be “remembered … as one who had the power to do good, but who chose the opposite course”.

Dawson’s hope was forlorn. His protests went largely unheard in Britain. Despite the distraction of the Franco-Prussian War, Wolseley’s account of an expedition proving “that no distance or intervening obstacles can afford protection to those who outrage our laws” cemented his place in British and imperial history. He was appointed to apply the lessons learned in Canada against the Ashante when they occupied the newly British port of Elmina in 1874. Aside from the need to secure “native” porters by any means, perhaps the other lesson that Wolseley took most to heart from the Red River journey was the need to ensure a more decisive culmination. Even after the Ashante had retreated from Elmina and asked for negotiations, he pressed on towards their capital Kumasi. Each time they agreed to his terms of surrender, he raised the stakes, determined to round off the expedition with a battle whether his “enemy” wanted it or not.

After killing of some 10-15,000 Ashante with the loss of 18 British dead from combat and 55 from disease, and after plundering and burning Kumasi, Wolseley’s reputation as the the man who could take British troops anywhere and achieve any victory was cemented. In 1879 Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance character, the “very model of a modern Major General” was apparently modelled on him.

Disraeli agreed with Queen Victoria that “Wolseley is an egoist and a braggart” but added “so was Nelson”. Once he had finished off a series of wars against Black South African polities and crushed Urabi Pasha’s revolt in Egypt, Wolseley led the relief column to try to save his old friend General Gordon from besieged Khartoum. He intended to “recreate the Red River Expedition” down the Nile and over the desert, even to the extent of seeking to hire 400 Canadian voyageurs, despite his prior assessment of their character, to manage the specially constructed boats. With the building of the railway between Winnipeg and Ontario in the meantime however, there were few voyageurs left. It was mainly lumberjacks who volunteered. Despite Gordon’s death two days before the first troops’ arrival, there is no doubt that Wolseley had become expert in “that science and art in the study and practice of which I have spent my whole life and to which I have devoted all my energies and brain power God has gifted me”. That science and art was the waging of war against relatively poorly equipped indigenous enemies on behalf of the British Empire. Britain recognised his contribution. When he died in 1913, his body was laid to rest alongside the Duke of Wellington’s in St Paul’s Cathedral. His statue was unveiled outside Army headquarters in Horse Guards Parade in 1920.

Equestrian statue of the Viscount Wolseley, Horse Guards Parade, London:

Dawson pursued an unsuccessful political career in Ottawa, attempting to include First nations, Métis and French Canadians in the decision making of an Anglophone-dominated Dominion. He died in 1902.

Riel found sanctuary in Métis communities on both sides of the US border and was elected to the Canadian Parliament three times, but prevented from taking his seat. In 1884, he help lead the North-West Resistance, in which Métis and néhiyaw sought once again to protect their interests against the Canadian government. Riel was captured and hanged for treason in 1885, his trial providing a focal point for contestation over Canadian history ever since. Only 15 per cent of the land promised to the Red River Métis owners in the treaty that Riel’s emissaries had negotiated in Ottawa was ever allocated.

Main Sources

Anon (Garnet Wolseley), A Narrative of the Red River Expedition by an Officer of the Expeditionary Force, Blackwoods Magazine, 1871:

Simon James Dawson, Report on the Red River expedition of 1870: Printed by the order of the House of Commons: Reprint, with remarks on certain strictures published in England by an officer of the expeditionary force. Ottawa: Printed by the Times Printing & Publishing Co, 1871:

David Doyle, Louis Riel: Let Justice be Done, Ronsdale Press, 2028.

Byron Farwell, Queen Victoria’s Little Wars, Wordsworth Military Library, 1973.

Adam Gaudry, “Fantasies of Sovereignty: Deconstructing British and Canadian Claims to
Ownership of the Historic North-West,” Native American and Indigenous Studies, 3, 1, 2016, 48–50.

William Hubbard, “Recollections By W. Hubbard Of The Red River Expedition”, 1914:

Stephen Manning, Sir Garnet Wolseley: Soldier of Empire, Pen and Sword Military, 2023.

Paul McNicholl,  Journey, Through the Wilderness: Garnet Wolseley’s Canadian Red River Expedition of 1870, Helion and Company, 2019.

Darren O’Toole, “Métis Claims to ‘Indian’ Title in Manitoba, 1860–1870,” The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 28, 2, 2008, 241–70.

Samuel Steele, Correspondence Relative To The Recent Expedition To The Red River Settlement With Journal Of Operations, Report presented to both Houses of Parliament [Ottawa] by Command of Her Majesty, 1871:

Leave A Comment

Recommended Posts

Response to Kemi Badenoch’s, Nigel Biggar’s and the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Whitewashing of Colonial History

In April 2024, the Conservative MP Kemi Badenoch gave a speech in which she sought to deny the extent to which Britain’s economic trajectory was reliant on colonialism. When criticised by William Dalrymple, Toby Young, responded with this tweet, linking to an article in support of Badenoch by Nigel Biggar. This is my quickfire response to Badenoch’s and Biggar’s case: Biggar makes three historical arguments, each of which is tendentious and based on the construction of straw men: He starts with the economic foundations of the South African War, arguing that the antisemitic Hobson’s thesis that Cecil Rhodes and other […]

When the Raj Came to Brighton

Alan Lester In the early stages of World War I, the Raj came to the south coast of England in the form of over 4,000 wounded Indian soldiers. They convalesced in a number of specially constructed hospitals, including in the Brighton Pavilion. Between 1914 and 1916 the former Prince Regent’s Oriental-style palace became charged with the hubris and anxiety of the largest and most diverse Empire the world had ever seen. [1] A Palace Becomes a Hospital In August 1914, the Indian Army was roughly the same size as the regular British Army (around 240,000 men), but their deployment against the […]