A Metis Victory in 1885
On the morning of the April 24, 1885, Gabriel Dumont and his force of Metis soldiers had carefully planned a surprise attack on Canadian forces at Tourond's Coulee (also called Fish Creek), a steep and winding ravine leading down to the south Saskatchewan River.
Men in the advance guard of the Canadian forces first realized they were under attack when they noticed several of their leading scouts fall from their saddles under the deadly fire of the Metis who were concealed in the bluffs above them. At that moment, the Canadians noticed about thirty or forty mounted Metis in front of them and they charged after them. The Metis at once turned their horses and bolted for a ravine about a hundred and fifty yards distant, dismounting as they galloped. When the soldiers dismounted to fight, they were attacked again from above by the Metis, who rained down fire while those in the ravine also attacked in full.
While the soldiers were successful in forcing the Metis in the ravine to fall back slightly, the rebels would occasionally ‘pop up’ from the ravine, take a snap shot, and disappear in an instant. In their defense, the Canadian soldiers brought two gattling guns into action, but these had little effect as the Metis kept under cover. The attack of the Metis pushed the soldiers to the edge of the bank of the creek, and many casualties occurred because the Canadians could not find adequate shelter from the Metis sniping from above them. In addition to their shooting prowess, the Metis started a prairie fire to the right of the Canadian lines and, under cover of the smoke, made a gallant attempt to dislodge the soldiers and make them scatter. However, the soldiers kept their nerve, and were able to beat out the flames.
In an effort to break the Metis offensive, a party of soldiers advanced into the ravine, but they were checked by the fire of the Metis who were almost invisible. After making several gallant attempts, all of the soldiers retreated with the loss of three men killed and five wounded in the effort.
By about 3:00 pm, with the exception of an occasional shot from the Metis firing pits, the conflict started to die down as most of the Metis left the battle.
In total, 10 Canadian soldiers were killed in the skirmish and 40 were wounded. 11 Metis were killed and about 18 were wounded.
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities