COMMITMENT 86 NATIVE TRAVELERS IN EGYPT .
The famous Nile Expedition in 1884-1885 was organized to rescue a British garrison commanded by General Charles (" Chinese ") Gordon trapped in Khartoum by the troops of the Mahdi - Islamic religious leader who is fighting for the independence of Egypt and the establishment of an Islamic republic. Major- General Sir Garnet Wolseley , who has made a name in the Red River control the relief expedition . One of his first decisions was to ask the Governor General of Canada " try to hire good 300 travelers Caughnawaga , St. Regis and Manitoba as helmsmen for boats of Nile Expedition ."
The ascent of the Nile from the railhead at Wadi Halfa turns long , exhausting and dangerous. Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Charles Denison, Toronto militiaman and his men landed at the foot of the Second Cataract October 26, 1884 . They are about halfway Khartoum , they still have 1300 km, four waterfalls and many smaller rapids to cross . They manage to carry the British troops to Upper Nile, where they meet in January 1885 vapors sent to Khartoum by Gordon . On January 24 , the vapors find that the city fell to the Mahdists and Gordon died . The Wolseley expedition arrived 56 hours too late. Thereafter , the British back down the Nile, skillfully guided by Canadian loggers .
Despite the failure of the military operation to free the unfortunate garrison of Khartoum , the effectiveness of the Canadian contingent is unmistakable. Lt. Col. Grove Coleridge , Gemai commander and assistant adjutant general of river services , reports:
The use of travelers was a clear success. Without them , it is doubtful that the boats had come up the river , and if they had succeeded , you can rest assured that they would have had more time and the loss of life would have been much higher.
Brigadier General F. W. Grenfell, communications manager for the expedition, fully endorses the views of Grove "In my opinion, the Indians were the best suited to work in fast . Their ability to navigate a boat in turbulent waters was exceptional . The expeditionary force could hardly do without their valuable assistance. "
And finally, Butler concludes that the best travelers are :
... The French Canadians, Iroquois Lachine and the Plains Indians and Métis in Winnipeg. If we could get about 200 posts of this caliber , we would have won a huge amount of time - so much, in fact, that we could have spent another week to concentrate our forces Korti .
Boatmen who reach Khartoum , is awarded the strip Kirbekan and medal THE NILE (1884-1885 ) . Sixteen Canadians, including one Saulteaux and two Indians of Caughnawaga ( Kahnawake) , died . Six drowned in the Nile cataracts , two were killed by falling from a train in Egypt and eight died of natural causes. Even if they were not very many , indigenous travelers have played an important role in the Nile Expedition . And it will not be the last time that will be part of Aboriginal Canadian Expeditionary Forces assigned in support of military operations of the Crown , far from their traditional territories.