The BOYS are MARCHING
COLONEL GEORGE H. HAM
OF COURSE, the Great World’s War has completely overshadowed all previous unpleasantnesses, but in the old days, minor events, as they are deemed-today, were of the most vital importance. Take, for instance, the Trent Affair in 1861, when the United States had forcibly taken Mason and Slidell, the Confederate ambassadors, on their way to Great Britain from the British steamer Trent at Nassau, Bahama Islands. Great Britain demanded their instant release, and there being a prolonged delay in complying by the United States, steps were immediately taken to enforce the demand. There was a call to arms and a surprising response in Canada. Many thousands more recruits volunteered than were asked for. Although only fourteen years of age, I, with other Whitby youths who, like myself were tall for their age, enlisted. There was no medical examination in those times, and in a couple of days we donned the now discarded scarlet infantry uniform. We drilled every night, carrying the old heavy Enfield rifle which seemed to weigh a ton, and we kids went through our military exercises until .we almost became as lop-sided as a pig with one ear. There wasn’t one of us but devoutly hoped, like the man with the invalid •wife that she would get well— or something—only we hoped something or other would happen and we didn’t care a continental what it was, so long as we were relieved of that awful tiring monotonous drill. The United States, knowing it was in the wrong, according to the laws of nations, gracefully delivered up Messrs. Mason and Slidell and the episode happily ended without any blood being shed.
An Adventure With Colonel Denison
N 1866, there was another call to arms, when the Fenians invaded Canada at Fort Erie. Whitby sent an able bodied contingent, of which I was a high private, to Niagara Falls, which was reached as the skirmish at Ridgeway was being fought.
That campaign was a picnic, and as we were billeted at the swagger Cataract House, and afterwards in barracks, it was not so bad. We had particular instructions to allow no one to pass into camp without the password, and one day, Private Jimmy Shier and I were on sentry go. Colonel Bob Denison, a fine soldier, as all the Denisons were, endeavored to pass the lines on horseback. I halted him and demanded the password, and he, evidently to try me out, said:
“You know me, I’m Col. Denison.”
“Yes, :sir, you doubtless are, but orders are orders. Password, please.”
He didn’t give it, and ■ I called * for Jimmy, who, dropping his rifle, climbed like a cat up the horse’s side, and unceremoniously pulled the colonel to the ground.We called out the guard, and marched the Colonel to headquarters. Then the trouble commenced, and Jimmy and I were brought before the commanding officer, who had issued the orders which we had faithfully fulfilled. We were properly acquitted.
Col. Bob, who evidently enjoyed the little affair, got even with us. The next day we were out drilling as usual, and when deploying in full extended order, were instructed by Col. Denison to lie down. It was no bed of roses we dropped on, but—well, I never saw so many thistles in all my life, nor ever felt so many. In fact our uniforms were more thistles than clothing, and the gallant Colonel chuckled, as he saw us picking the prickles from every conceivable part of our persons.
Previous to this, on our way to the front, a sergeant’s guard of us were billeted in Toronto at Mike Murphy’s joint—Mike being the Fenian head centre. Well, we bully-ragged that place all night, and had a very frugal breakfast, the chief part of which consisted of playing ball with ill smelling salt-herring and in our throwing boiled potatoes up and trying to catch them in our cups of alleged coffee. Mike had passed the word around, and a menacing gang of big dock wallopers gathered at the door, but we marched steadily, with rifles in one hand and our heavy buckled'belts in the other, and no attempt was made to interfere with us, but their pointed remarks were just what you would imagine they might be. Then we were sent to the Bay Tree (after the Tremont) and when my bod-mate discovered some apple sauce on the sheets, we marked it with a lead-pencil and recognized it at dinner next day. Such are the horrors of war.
WHEN the Metis rebellion broke out in 1885, Ned Farrer, then editor of the Toronto Mail, wired me at Winnipeg, to secure a man to represent his paper at the front. My efforts were unavailing and I dropped into the telegraph office to send him a message to that effect, when who should walk in but Davis of the Toronto Globe, who told me he was getting a team of horses and a buckboard and the Lord only knows what else, and intended joining the troops at Qu’Appelle. There was nothing private
about the conversation, and I wired his programme to Ned. Quickly came • back the characteristic reply:
“Go thou and do likewise.”
I went, but before I did I engaged Alex. Berard, a Fort Rouge Metis, whom I knew well, to accompany me.
I agreed to give him $300 if he got me into Riel’s camp before the troops at Batoche, and as a pledge of good faith gave his wife $18, on the distinct understanding that if I were killed, I wouldn’t pay the $300 and would also get my $18 back. Alick and L with a lot of provisions, went out to Qu’Appelle where General Middleton and his forces were preparing for the northern movement. Unfortunately, like the parrot who got its neck twisted, I talked too much and disclosed my . plan to a comrade, who told it to some one else and finally it reached the ears of the General, who at once sent Alick home. Thus what might possibly have been one of the greatest newspaper scoops of the day was frustrated and the ultimate decision arrived at by myself was that whenever a blooming idiot was missing I could assuredly find him by gazing into a mirror.
In no cheerful frame of mind I strolled out along the beautiful valley of the Qu’Appelle, which in English means “Who calls?” — and I heard a voice “Hey there, George” calling me — the sweet dulcet voice of Col. Allan Macdonald, the Indian agent at Qu’Appelle.
“Hop in here, old man, and take a drive,” he said.
So I got into his buckboard and innocently asked where he thought his destination might be.
“Oh, just over to the File Hills,” he said. “There’s a report that Nicol, the farm instructor, and his wife have been killed by the Indians and I’m going out to see.” We passed an Indian on a load of straw en route, and I never realized till then how much better poor Lo looks on a load of straw than he does on the war path. We reached the Superintendent’s house just before dark to find that the report of his death was a little premature, and also ascertained that the File Hill Indians were not in the most beautiful frame of mind. After supper, beds were made for us on the floor, and the Colonel cautioned me to sleep with one eye open and to have my gun ready, which I did by promptly falling sound asleep.
Next morning a band of the Crees appeared in war paint and well-armed. We had a pow-wow in a little shack about 12 feet square, in which there was a large stone chimney. I’ve been to grand opera and five o'clock teas, but I never spent such i delightfully uncomfortable half hour as I did in the ensuing thirty minutes. There were Rosebud, Sparrow Hawk and Star Blanket, brother-in-law of Frank Hunt, an old friend of mine, who must have been an all nighter, for his full name was “The man who has a Star for a Blanket,” and they were all dressed in their war paint and feathers. Their demands were many and urgent, but the sturdy old colonel never blinked an eye. He gave his opinion of them individually and collectively in the most classic of ail classical languages. All the while I was gazing up the chimney, and wondering how far I could climb before something or other might happen me. But nothing did, for the colonel bravely browbeat them so that they skulked out and “we” had a glorious victory.
I’m not going to tell the story of the uprising that s too old a story. But I just want to record another adventure—remember these are personal experiences of a little unpleasantness. At Clarke's Crossing, the General one evening, when there was a stiff breeze blowing, rode
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out of camp all alone. I rustled a horse, and without saddle or bridle followed him. Catching up to him, a few miles from camp he hailed me: “Hello, what are you doing here.” I explained I was hunting for Indians. He began to admonish the weather. “This beastly wind, you know —why I came out here for a quiet smoke, and I’ll be hanged if I can light my pipe.” “Is that all, General?” I remarked, “that’s no trouble. Just get a little to leeward.” He drew up beside me, I scratched a match, lighted his pipe unconcernedly and he said: “Well, you westerners are a most remarkable people; you can do anything.” And I thanked Providence he didn’t ask me to light his pipe a second time, for it was a thousand to one shot. But it made me his friend for life—and when he was appointedConstable of the Tower of London, he invited me over to see him. Which was not accepted for fear he might want me to strike another match for him.
Middleton and the Queen
GENERAL MIDDLETON was a kindly. bluff old soldier, and was unmercifully criticized by people who had no knowledge of military affairs. _ The best, answer to those who abused him is that, by request of good old Queen Victoria, he was instructed to spare the lives of
his untrained soldier boys, for most of them were mere lads, and of the misguided Indians and Metis, who were her Majesty’s subjects. This is what he told me, and it is another, if another were needed, example of how wise and humane was the Great White Mother across the sea. I think now, if she had been spared she might possibly' have subdued rebellious Ireland.
Selected for Dangerous Mission
JUST another incident, which while it does not amount to much, was allimportant to me at that critical moment.
It happened on the Saskatchewan whose lazily-rolling waters flow from beyond the farthest of the far-away Rockies, through the pine lands and plains of the Canadian Northwest and empty into murky Lake Winnipeg, from which they are carried to Hudson Bay, and for all I know mingle with those of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. And it came about through that almost incomprehensible perversity or foolhardiness or obliging disposition which impels one to help a fellow out of a hole and causes a certain class of happy golucky people to rush in where white-winged spirits would not attempt to fly. let alone tread. To be exact :t was the day be'o’-e the beginning of the iong-siretched out skirmishing at Batoche, which resulted in the charge which led to the discomfiture of Riel and the dispersal of his dusky forces. The sun shone bright and strong on that lazy May afternoon, with not a breath of air stirring; and Gabriel’s Crossing, where the stern-wheeler Northcote was tied to the bank, as drowsy and sleepy as if the recalcitrant halfbreeds and Indians were a thousand miles away and not lurking in the nearby woods. The arrival of the mail—a not very regular occurrence—was a decided break in the irksome monotony—the pleasantness of which, however, was modified by instant disappointment. The Canadian troops had marched away that morning to take up a position behind the rebel headquarters at Batoche, and the mail carrier would not deliver up the bag for reasons sufficient for him, but insisted on taking it on to the camp sixteen miles away. There was nothing to do but follow after him for our letters and our papers, and George Macleod, one of the couriers, attached to the small detachment on the steamer, was detailed for the duty. There was to be a fight on the morrow with a strongly-entrenched savage foe of whose strength we knew very little, but whose wily tactics, and deadly aim had been deeply impressed upon us a short time before at Fish Creek, and we were eager to hear what perhaps might be the last word from home. For the Northcote was to take part in the coming engagement— steaming down the river past the rebel stronghold and drawing the enemy’s fire while the troops were to rush in from the rear, and—but this story has nothing whatever to do with that.
Macleod quickly reported himself ready. Then Captain So-and-So asked him to bring something or other from camp, and Lieutenant What’s-his-name wanted him to carry a message to a comrade, and noncoms. and men had requests galore for parcels and other truck until poor Macleod had more commissions than a corporal’s guard could execute in a fortnight. He remarked—sarcastic like—that perhaps it would be easier to march the whole column from Batoche back to the boat than “to git all them things,” so it was decided that someone or other should accompany him. Why that someone should have been myself does not after all these years appear very clearly to me, nor did it then; but Colonel Bedson—God rest his soul— suggested that I should go and even if we didn’t return the naval brigade would not be so seriously handicapped as to render it entirely ineffective, That settled it; so Macleod and I—a humble newspaper Correspondent—and Peter Howie’s pony which was attached to Peter Howie’s buckboard, kindly loaned foi the occasion —Peter was an interpreter—started out on our mission. A well-beaten road led due south through dense woods and we followed it for five or six miles, and then the freshly broken turf showed that the column had turned sharp to. the left, and paralleled the river towards Batoche, marching through a park-like country with bluffs and openings and dotted with little ponds. There was a remarkable similarity in the surroundings for many a mile, so much so that one portion was confusingly
like another—but it was a winsome scene whoserestfulnessand calm were accentuated by the jarring discordant events of previous days. In these northern latitudes, Nature is unusually lavish with her gifts arid here she had created a picturesque demesne that was remindful of wellkept ancestral estates in the Old Country. It was Nature in hér simple beauty— unadorned except with that adornment which the ,hand of the Master alone can give. It was the summer dreamland— a scenic poem—a fragment of incomparable Kentish landscape in a glorious Canadian setting
Lost on the Trail
THE stars shone that night in the cloudless northern sky in all their accustomed brilliancy, and the long-drawn out summer twilight, never reaching more than semi-darkness, rendered the surroundings indistinctly visible. Peter Howie’s played-out pony had been replaced by a captured rebel broncho, unused to the restraint of harness and shafts; commissions had faithfully been executed, the last outpost had bidden us a cheery good-night, and we were bowling a'ong smoothly towards the Northcote. The partially broken broncho, however, did not take kindly to anything like work, and so soon as this one began to realize the ignominy of its task, it started in to cavort and swerve around and despite the united efforts of Macleod and myself, we soon found ourselves off the trail. While Macleod held the fractious beast, I groped about in the darkness for tixe wagon tracks, and having found them, soon lost them again, only to recover and again lose them more frequently than I can now remember. A dim light in the distance was the first indication of anybody’s presence but our own. Macleod couldn’t see it until we were within a few hundred yards of an Indian camp fire carefully secreted in one of the bluffs. We—in some trepidation, so far as I was concerned—managed to make a wide detour and just as we were beginning to congratulate ourselves that we had avoided these emissaries of the enemy, a cry like that of a bittern gave warning that the Indians were signalling to one another. Macleod intimated that I and the broncho and the buckboard should make for a particular bluff which he pointed out, and he would remain where he was and await developments. Then came the bad half-hour of utter loneliness and anxiety and misgiving for we knew not our exact location—nor the whereabouts of the foe. After what seemed an age, Macleod caught up to me, and reported that we had evidently not been observed.
A moment later other signals were heard issuing from near where the Indian camp was, and answers seemed to come from several different quarters. Macleod, who was as plucky as they make ’em, suggested a repetition of the previous tactics. But I remonstrated. I held that we ought to stand together; I fully realized that if anything happened to him, the Lord only knew how I would get out of that tangled maze of country. Besides, between you and me, there are times when one would rather not-be altogether alone, and this was one of them. He persisted, however, in following out his plan of campaign, and told me to take my bearings by a couple of stars which he pointed out. If he didn’t turn up soon, I was to be guided by them until I reached the road leading to the boat. I went on with the broncho and the buckboard, and if ever an astronomer watched stars as steadfastly as I did, he’s a wonder. My neck would get stiff as a poker from the unusual craning it had to undergo, and then I would bend it down to ease it, and when I again glanced upwards I would catch a couple of other stars, until I honestly believe the whole firmament was completely taken in, My idea of location was disgustingly hazy, but I had a firm impression when I saw what I thought to be a .blanketed Indian sneaking towards me that, once I got a fair shot at him, I would make a break for the timber and never stop until I struck the Gulf of Mexico or some other place near a railway. The tension was extreme; it is the dread of the unknown and the unseen and the darkness and the uncertainty that make a fellow’s flesh creep. I—and the broncho-buckboard combination — were strategically placed, and with gun drawn over the animal’s withers I was prepared to make a good Indian out of at least one redskin. The figure came nearer and nearer, and,
however it was, while my heart beats sounded like the pounding of a big brass drum, my hand was steady, and my mind strayed away from thoughts of my predicament. Every incident of a lifetime flashed before me, trivial events that had long before been forgotten—occurrences that had not been recalled to memory in many a day. I thought of those at home, and of my first little boy Jack, dead and gone, and wondered if he would know me in the other world. I guess it’s that way when one feels he’s facing death. Mr. Indian was just within good range, but I was waiting to make sure of him, when “all right” was sounded. My fancied Indian was Macleod himself. I never was so glad to see anybody in all my whole life, even my best girl. He had not only evaded the enemy, but—the Indian’s craftiness doesn’t amount to much at night—he had put him on the wrong track. There was but one fly in our pot of ointment. We were off the trail and how far off we didn’t know—but we knew that if we kept due West we would strike the road leading to the river somewhere or other this side of the Rocky Mountains.
A BOUT midnight that long looked for ^ road was reached. It was a perfect tree-lined avenue, dark as blackness itself, and so we trudged along—Mac as the advance guard, and I carefully leading the broncho. We had not advanced a mile before Mac stepped upon a dry poplar limb that had been placed across the road by the Indians as a signal to their fellows, and it snapped like a pistol. Mac sprang I don’t know how many feet in the air, and I leaned against the broncho and, notwithstanding the seriousness of the occasion, laughed till the tears came. It was a wonderful leap. He assumed all kinds of postures in that jump; it was positively the best bit of ground and lofty tumbling I had ever seen, even in a circus. I didn’t laugh long, though, because as we proceeded through a little opening, to the right I saw a dim camp fire, around which it didn’t require much imagination to see figures flitting. Mac could see this one too, and we watched it growing larger and larger. In whispered consultation, I suggested that we abandon the broncho outfit and take to the woods on the left.
“But we can’t,” remonstrated Mac. “Why not?” I whisperingly wanted to know.
“Because it’s Peter Hourie’s buckboard, and I told him I’d bring it back.”
“Oh, hang,”—I think that’s the word I used—“hang Peter Hourie’s buckboard.” But Mac was obdurate and we mournfully and noiselessly moved on. Then came another glimpse of that camp fire, and the awful import of the old saying that silence is golden flashed upon me. Then I laughed again—heartily and boisterously. The confounded old camp fire we had conjured up was only the moon rising!
At three o’clock in the morning, we passed through a spot which I afterwards learned was to have been the gathering place of the rebels at that hour. Fortunately the meeting had not materialized through some providential misunderstanding in their orders.
As the sun’s rays came streaming from the East we reached the Northcote, only to be welcomed by the gruff demand as to what on earth—well, we’ll say it was earth—kept us so long, and that’s the sort of thanks Mac and I got for our trouble. Afterwards, my companion confided in me that, for some reason or other, he couldn’t see very well at night. Others told me he was blind as a bat in darkness.' That was some consolation.
A Naval Battle In the West T'HE next day, orders were to start the A steamer at 8 o’clock sharp and steam down the river. I was on the upper deck, indulging in a fragrant five cent cigar when I read a funny paragraph in a newspaper I had brought along. I went down to the barricaded lower deck to show it to Major Bedson, when the rebels opened fire upon us. That part of the Northcote was barricaded with bags of flour so arranged as to make port holes. My old friend, Hugh John Macdonald, was seriously ill, and I grabbed his gun and shoving it through the porthole, banged away, only to set fire to the bags. Quickly extinguishing the burning bags, I hastened to another porthole in the bow of the boat, not barricaded, and fired away, until a lot of
splinters struck me in the face—the splinters being the outcome of a fairly well directed rebel shot. Discretion being the better part of valor, just then, I moved to another porthole, and a soldier came up and with his fingers picked a bullet from the tendrils of the wood, and quietly remarked, “Pretty close shave.” It was pointing right straight for my heart. Then we struck the ferry cable which had been lowered for our especial benefit, and to avoid a rock, Capt. Jim Sheets, an experienced old Missouri steamboat man, in command of the Northcote, let the craft swing around, and we went downstream, stern foremost, with the current. In the meantime the Canadian forces engaged the enemy, an hour late according to schedule. The Northcote stopped a few miles below Batoche, where, ensconsed behind a pile of mail-bags which made a splendid barricade, I kept up a steady fire at something unknown. I don’t know whether I hit any clouds or not, but I am assured of one thing; if any lead mines are ever discovered on the banks of the Saskatchewan, I should have a prior claim over anybody in their ownership. This was the first naval battle in the Canadian Northwest, and I imagine it will be the last. At any rate, it will be as far as yours truly is concerned.
Rescuing the MacLean Family
WHEN I was a kid, the favorite literature amongst the youngsters was Beadle’s Dime Novels—long ago discontinued and almost forgotten. There was a remarkable similarity in the different books issued. The same old story was of a lovely heroine who was captured by the wild Indians and rescued by a gallant, brave and loving hero, after no end of miraculous escapes, in which he did many unheard of feats. I never thought then that I would ever be chasing Indians or being chased by them. The romantic days of fiction had passed. But one fine June morning at Fort Pitt, I found they hadn’t.
While I was strolling along the river bank, trying my best to smoke a real bang-up five cent cigar, Major Bedson, master of transportation of General Middleton’s column, drove up in a carriage and yelled at me: “Get in, old man.”
I did so and, after we had started off again, I naturally asked where we were going and why. He told me that Big Bear had released the Maclean family and we were going out to find them. Might as well look for a needle in a haystack in that jmmense tract, but the Major had an idea of their whereabouts, and so we -struck for Loon Lake, on reaching which we found in camp about as tough a looking crowd as ever you saw. Unwashed, unkempt, with tattered clothing and little food, there they all were, the twentytwo prisoners who had been allowed, when provisions ran short, to escape from Big Bear’s camp—the Maclean family, father and mother and nine children, Amelia and Eliza being young ladies of 18 and 16 years of age, Kitty being 14, and the others ranging from 12 years to an infant in arms; and George Mann, farm instructor at Frog Lake, his wife and three children, Stanley Simpson and other employees of the Hudson’s Bay Co. at Fort Pitt, Frog Lake and Onion Lake. For once, somebody was mighty glad to see me, and more glad to see Major Bedson, who was a brother-in-law of Maclean’s. That staunch old Westerner, Major Hayter Reed, who did splendid service during the uprising, came up with supplies and clothes, and when they arrived and the freed captives had donned their new habiliments, and washed up and eaten the first square meal for a long time, the transformation was .complete. After all their trekking through wild lands and swamps with little food, here were freedom and liberty and friends.
I shall never forget that memorable 21st June—the longest day of the year—when W. J. Maclean, the father, commonly known as Big Bear Maclean, and I trudged along the trail, and he told me the story of their wanderings. They had never been ill-treated, some kindly disposed halfbreeds guarding them, but once, at Loon Lake, the squaws whose husbands or sons had been killed wanted to slaughter them, but they were prevented. The only one to complain was Stanley Simpson (who afterwards was accidentally drowned) who confidentially informed me that boiled dog as a regular article of diet was a fraud, a delusion and a sham. What I was a delicacy to the red man was sickening to him, and between dog and starvation,
the latter was largely preferable in his humble opinion.
However the sun was shining brightly and everybody was joyful and happy. And no wonder, after the days and weeks of terror which they had endured. We reached Fort Pitt in safety, after a long wearisome trip, most of which we had to tramp or ride in rude, jolting, springless wagons. There was no complaint, no grumbling, no pest mortems, and motherly Mrs. Maclean, I could see, silently thanked God for their happy deliverance.
We didn’t know where Big Bear and his aboriginal warriors were, but we kept one eye open to see that, if he had changed his alleged mind, he would get the worst of any encounter with us. And when, after a long fit of silence on my part, Mrs. Maclean kindly asked me what I was thinking ut I laconically replied: “Beadle’s Dime Novels.”
A Church Parade in the Wilderness
THE banks of the Beaver River have seldom, if ever, witnessed the sight which was to be seen on the morning of June 6th, 1885, a military church parade. There was no stately edifice, no solemn sounding organ, no rich upholstered pews, no carved or gilded pillars, nor fashionably dressed ladies attired in silks and satins. But the place of worship was a grander one, with the blue vaulted Heaven for dome, the fringe of far-extended green budding trees the living walls, while the ripple of a brook and the carolling of birds furnished a sweet accompaniment to the songs of praise sung by the uncultured and unpractised voices of the choir. Nor marble floer nor silk-woven carpet was here, but on the flower-flecked prairie we found easy seats or shaking off the conventionality of eastern etiquette, sought grassy couches and lay prone on the luxuriant verdure. This picture may have been rudely marred by the canvas-covered wagons and clumsily constructed carts which formed the corral, but they were in keeping with the congregation, a mixed and motley crew, mainly red-coats with Sunday shaven faces, slouch-hatted teamsters, booted and spurred rough riders of the plain, buckskin-clad scouts, herders, cowboys, camp cooks, redolent of grease and flour, all semicircling the preacher—the grand old western Methodist pioneer, Rev. John MacDougal—who for the nonce had donned sombre garments, and listening to the message of Christ and His Love to man and man’s duty to Him. The sermon ended—no polished oration, but a simple and earnest discourse—all most reverently, with uncovered heads, stood silent and still while the benediction was pronounced and then they dispersed, not with the rush and hurly-burly of the more cultured churchgoer, but quietly and orderly to their camps, while from the mission house on the crest of the upland, now sacrilegiously occupied by the military, came' the dusky hued Chippewayans, with shawl-enveloped squaws, from the more imposing service of the Catholic Church. The service may soon have been forgotten, the lesson it taught unlearned, but for the nonce at any rate, the roughest and rudest felt the influence of the Word, and the camp was better for the day and the day’s gathering ol worshippers.
THE traveller on the plains in the ear'y days soon learned the significance of the spires of smoke that he sometimes saw rising from a distant ridge or hill and that in turn he might see answered from a different direction. It was the signal talk of the Indians across miles of intervening ground, a signal used in rallying the warriors for an attack, or warning them for a retreat if that seemed advisable.
The Indian had a way of sending up the smoke in rings or puffs, knowing that such a smoke column would at once be noticed and understood as a signal, and not taken for the smoke of some camp-fire. He made the rings by covering the little fire with his blanket for a moment and allowing the smoke to ascend, when he instantly covered the fire again. The column of ascending smoke rings said to every Indian within thirty miles, “Look out! There is an enemy near!” Three smokes built close together meant danger. One smoke merely meant attention. Two smokes meant “Camp at this place.” Sometime at night the settler or the traveller saw fiery lines crossing the sky, shooting up and falling, perhaps taking a direction diagonal to the lines of vision, He might guess that these were the signals of the Indians, but unless he were an oldtimer, he might not be able to interpret the signals. The old-timer and the squaw man knew that one f.re-arrow, an arrow prepared by treating the head of the shaft with gunpowder and fine bark, meant the same as the columns of smoke puffs— “An enemy is near.” Two arrows meant "Danger.” Three arrows said impera tively, “This danger is great.” Several arrows said “The enemy are too many for us.” Thus the untutored savage could telephone fairly well at night as well as at day.
And this was where the red man was ahead of the white, for this long distance system of communication was in daily use years before the Morse code of telegraphy by wire, which was practically on the same lines, was invented.
Another system of wireless telegraphy by m rrors was also operated by the red man. but it would only be used on bright sunshiny days and never at night. The holder of the mirror, by catching the rays of the sun could direct them right into the eyes of a passing person at some distance, and thus attract h's attention, and com munication between them was thus estab fished.
, All of which goes to show the truthfulness of the adage; ‘‘There's nothing new under the sun ”
At the time of the Custer massacre the first tidings of the fight were learned on the Red River Valley from Indians from the Red Lake River, a tributary of the Red River, who came down in canoes :n war paint and told the people of Crookston, Minnesota, of the great Indian victory. The Winnipeg Free Press and the St. Paul and Minneapolis evening papers published the story simultaneously, and this was the first intimation given of Custer’s terrible fate. The next day, the news came by wire from Deadwood, but the Indian signals beat out the telegraph companies and these Red Lake Indians were several hundred miles from the scene of the disaster.