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    Transcript of Letter to Lord Strathcona from Sam Steele


    Posts : 567
    Join date : 2009-11-28
    Location : Calgary, Alberta, Canada

    Transcript of Letter to Lord Strathcona from Sam Steele Empty Transcript of Letter to Lord Strathcona from Sam Steele

    Post by qsamike Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:17 pm

    Ottawa, 17th February, 1900

    From: Lt. Col. S. B. Steele, Commanding "Strathcona's Horse"
    To: The Right Honorable Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, G.C.M.G.
    17, Victoria Street,
    London, S.W., England

    My Lord,

    As requested by your Lordship I have the honor to submit this my report upon all matters in connection with the organization of "Strathcona's Horse".

    When I was in Halifax on my way to South Africa with the Second Contingent from Canada, I received a telegram from the Honorable the Minister of Militia offering me the command of your Corps, namely: "Strathcona's Horse". I accepted, and proceeded to Ottawa forthwith. At Ottawa the Minister, Major General Hutton, and I discussed the organization of the Corps and selected some officers from names presented, for your approval.
    Personnel - Officers

    Major Belcher 2nd in Command, was 5 years in the 9th Lancers where he won prizes as the best swordsman and lancer the year he left. He joined the N. W. M. P. when the force was established and is still in the prime of life. He has great force of character and tact.

    Major Snyder is 36 years of age. He has been an Inspector of the N. W. M. P. for fifteen years, passing through the schools of instruction, and is well qualified.

    Major Jarvis is 36 years of age. He has been an Inspector of N. W. M. P. for 19 years, having risen from the ranks. He belongs to a well-known family in Toronto, and has had a very varied service in the Force.

    These Officers stand high in the estimation of the N.W.M.P. Department.

    Major Laurie is 38 years of age. He is a graduate of the R.M. College, Kingston, from which he passed at the head of his class and was offered a commission in the Royal Engineers, which he did not accept. He took part in the suppression of the rebellion of 1885, and was engaged in the actions at Fish Creek and Batoche.

    Captain Hughes is Lt. Colonel in Command of the 45th "Victoria" Battalion of Infantry and is on leave at the present time in South Africa. Captain Hughes will join the regiment at Cape Town. He holds R. S. Infantry certificates.

    Captain Howard is an Inspector in the N. W. M. P. of 10 years standing. He was engaged in the action at Batoche in 1885, serving with the 10th Royal Grenadiers.

    Lieut. Cameron is 35 years of age. Has been Major in the 5th Battalion, "Royal Scots of Canada" stationed at Montreal, since March 1897. He has a 1st class grade "A" certificate of the Royal School of Infantry, also equitation. He is at present Senior Major of his Battalion.

    Lieut. Cartwright is 27 years of age. Inspector of N. W. M. P., in which Corps he has served for four years. He was a Captain in the 14th Battalion Rifles, and has taken a first class long course certificate.

    Lieut. Mackie joined the 90th Battalion of Rifles in May, 1893, was gazetted in 1896, and was appointed Adjutant in 1898. He holds 1st and 2nd class grade "A" Infantry certificates and 1st and 2nd class grade "A" Cavalry certification.

    Lieut. Parke is an ex-Captain of the 15th Regt. of Foot. He retired on gratuity, and has resided for some years in British Columbia. He is a capital shot, and horseman, and has served on the staff of General Sir Charles Reid in India.

    Lieut. Courtney is a graduate of the R. M. College. He has served in the West and taken part in surveys in the Northern part of Canada. He was also attached to the 6th Fusiliers for upwards of 5 years.

    Lieut. Leckie is a graduate of the Royal Military College and has had experience in Western life. He is now a resident of British Columbia. He has served in the 72nd Battalion since 1895.

    Lieut. Magee is a graduate of the R. M. College and has served in the Imperial Army. For the past two years he has been attached to the 14th Battalion, Kingston. (Hythe Officers Extra -7th April, 1896).

    Lieut. Christie served with the Midland Battalion in the suppression of the Rebellion in 1895. He is at present a resident of Moosomin, Assa. This officer is late of the 38th Battalion and holds 2nd class "A" R. S. I. certificate.

    Lieut. Fall is a qualified officer in the Manitoba Dragoons and at present a resident of Oak Lake, Man. He served with the 75th Gordon Highlanders, the Queen's Own Dorset Yeomanry Cavalry, and was also in the North West Rebellion of 1885. He holds a 2nd class grade "A" Royal School of Cavalry certificate.

    Lieut. Pooley is a qualified officer in the Garrison Artillery, Victoria, and was gazetted in 1897. He holds 1st and 2nd Class Infantry and Artillery certificates from the Royal School of Instruction, England. He has also won Public School Rifle Competition prizes.

    Lieut. Strange is a graduate of the School of Gunnery, Kingston, and is a son of Major General Strange. He has had experience in the Western Provinces, having resided on his Ranch, near Calgary, for a number of years. He also served in the suppression of the Rebellion of 1885.

    Lieut. Parker. Quartermaster is 46 years of age, and has served in the N. W. M. P. since 1874. He took part in the suppression of the rebellion of 1885 in General Strange's column, and was present at Frenchman's Butte.

    Surgeon Keenan is the medical officer selected by Dr. Stewart of Montreal, and he reported for duty on the 16th February.

    The Captaincy of "C" Squadron is still vacant and Transport and Veterinary Officers are yet to be obtained.


    The men enlisted are composed of the very pick of the cowboy, cowpuncher, rancher, policeman and ex-policeman of the Territories and British Columbia, the balance are westerners of varied experience, especially qualified with rifle and horse.

    Notes Preliminary to Organization.

    Doctor McEachran proceeded me to the Northwest for the purpose of purchasing horses.

    Clothing I arranged with Mr. Clouston to have some necessary improvements made in the uniform. Unfortunately there was a considerable portion of the clothing being made when I arrived at Ottawa from Halifax. This fact made it difficult for me to make any changes, or to have and distinguishing badge inserted (with your approval) but I believe it has been arranged to have a representative badge attached to the collar and hat.

    Rifles The very long range rifle is not in use, to any extent, in the Territories, but for all that the men, as a body, can shoot well at ranges at which objects can be seen with the naked eye.

    Recruiting and Medical Examinations.

    In the Territories the men were examined by the Surgeons, and Assistant Surgeons of the N. W. M. Police, and Officers of the same force were employed to superintend the recruiting in their respective localities.

    In British Columbia, Inspector Morris of the N. W. M. Police Force recruited for me at Nelson, Captain Parker recruited at Fort Steele and Cranbrooke while Inspector Wilson of the N. W. M. Police did the recruiting at Golden, Revelstoke, Kamloops, Vernon; and Major Laurie carried out, in like manner, the enlisting of recruits in Victoria and Vancouver.

    Other Surgeons than those of the Force were employed in British Columbia, but great care was taken that the recruits were of fine physique, good shots, and capable horsemen, the latter quality especially was looked after. To make assurance doubly sure I have directed, since I returned to Ottawa, Surgeon Keenan of "Strathcona's Horse" to make another very strict medical examination of the men.

    With your permission, My Lord, I will now proceed to report the following detail of my work in organizing your Corps, and to enclose herewith a Nominal Roll of all ranks, showing the places in Manitoba, the North West and British Columbia, where the men enlisted, date of enlistment, and the names of Officers chosen to command each troop from the different districts.

    Organization and Recruiting Officers

    I left Ottawa enroute west on Tuesday, the 30th, January, and upon my arrival in Winnipeg I immediately notified the different districts that recruiting for the corps would commence on the 5th, February. I then appointed Lieut. Mackie, (late Captain and Adjutant of the 90th Rifles, Winnipeg) to undertake the recruiting for Manitoba under the supervision of Inspector Snyder of the N. W. M. Police, who is to be Major in command of "A" Squadron "Strathcona's Horse" and who was on his way to Halifax, arriving in Winnipeg shortly after my departure. Proceeding west the same day (2nd) I appointed Lieut. Christie to recruit at Moosomin under Major Snyder, and arrived at Regina on the 3rd, where I stayed over that day. I regret to say that, here, I found Major Belcher, N. W. M. Police, who is to be 2nd in command, ill in bed, where he has had to remain for the last ten days, but word received today is to the effect that he has greatly improved. This left me single handed in the command so far as he was concerned, but I arranged with the Assistant Commissioner (N. W. M. Police) so that the Regina District got their full share of good men recruited, also. under Inspector Snyder, who completed his work to that point on the 8th inst.

    Quartermaster Parker, (Late N. W. M. Police) was very careful with the recruiting at Prince Albert and selected first class all round men. Battleford only furnished one qualified recruit, the first contingent having stripped that district of those who were qualified.

    Inspector Morris of the N. W. M. Police was detailed to accompany me west and I directed him to proceed via the Crows Nest to Nelson where in conjunction with Lieut. Leckie of "Strathcona's Horse," he soon obtained the number allotted and entrained for the east with 52 men on the 9th instant, picking up Lieutenant Parker and troop (42) of Fort Steele at Cranbrooke.

    I left Regina on the morning of the 4th and proceeded to Calgary, appointing Inspector Harper recruiting Officer at Maple Creek, en route. He completed his work on the evening of the 6th, Medicine Hat District furnishing 10 out of the 20 allotted the two places. I arrived at Calgary on the night of the 5th, and made this point my temporary headquarters. Inspector Wilson, who was advised beforehand, proceeded to British Columbia on the same train that I got off, and Major Laurie, who accompanied me from Regina, went to the Coast. I had to perform Inspector Wilson's duties at Calgary as there was no other Officer doing duty at that post, but this did not interfere with my work and I am pleased to inform you that with constant instructions sent, and answers received, I was enabled to close the enlistment on the night of the 10th, making up the necessary compliment in five days. Of course changes had to be made where districts were under the number allotted, and in such cases I arranged to have the shortage made up by qualified men from other points. Many of these places had three and four times the number of volunteers required; as instances, Victoria and Vancouver, Vernon, Nelson, Calgary, Golden, Kamloops, Edmonton, Moosomin, and even Winnipeg. I believe a Brigade could have been formed with ease; however, the best men were selected in each case.

    Inspector Morris having reached Medicine Hat with the Nelson and Fort Steele contingents on the morning of the llth. instant, I sent him full instructions from Calgary and he proceeded east from Medicine Hat the same morning at eight, in command, picking up enroute. Medicine Hat, Maple Creek, Regina, Prince Albert, Moosomin, Virden, Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg Troops which made up the first train consisting of 7 officers and 286 men. The railway people provided the following equipment for our use:-6 Tourists, 50 men per car, 2 sergeants to a berth others 4 to a berth. Rear half of a 1st class car for Officers, front half for non-commissioned officers. 1 sleeper and 1 commissariat attached.

    The train is well handled, the commissariat being equally appreciated by both Officers and Men.

    A banquet given at Winnipeg was successfully carried out, the train being delayed there about two hours only (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.). The men were marched to and from the drill shed and entrained without difficulty.

    I left Calgary for Ottawa on the morning of the 12th being forced to come east sooner than I expected owing to Major Belcher's illness. Under the circumstances, I left instructions with Inspector Wilson N. W. M. Police and Lieut. Strange of "Strathcona's Horse" to assist Dr. McEachran who has been furnished with the necessary men to bring the horses east.

    The first train arrived in Ottawa on the morning of the 15th. inst., and took up their quarters at the Exhibition Grounds where everything is now in shape, and drill and order carried on.

    The second train carrying 3 Officers, 140 men and 96 horses left Calgary at 6:30 a.m. of the 14th. for Ottawa. They are expected to arrive Monday. Every provision has been made for them.

    With the exception of Major Jarvis, Lieutenant Cartwright, en route from Yukon, and a few who were granted passes to visit their homes, the establishment of your Corps is about complete.

    My Lord, in concluding my report on the recruiting of your corps I have the honour to state that a better class of men, from a moral, physical, shooting and horsemanship point of view could not have been selected, and as a proof of such our Surgeon (Keenan) who has already examined one-half of the command, since I arrived, states that he was greatly surprised at their physique and intelligence. As I mentioned before Surgeon Keenan is to medically examine each man, although the western doctors recommended them all before leaving.


    As I already reported I left the west sooner than I would have liked to on account of my 2nd in command being seriously ill — (at the time of writing he has greatly improved and I well know his capabilities of endurance, should he be fit for service in time). This necessitated co-operations with Doctor McEachran by wire, but fortunately he arrived in Calgary in time to discuss the further purchases to be made. The doctor reported that the horses already purchased were all broken, of the proper standard in size, etc. He had purchased at MacLeod, Pincher Creek and High River, starting in at Calgary the next day after I left, where it is likely that he would have his pick of 200 at least. Medicine Hat, Maple Creek, Moosejaw, Regina, Qu'Appelle, Red Deer were all prepared to exhibit their horses for his inspection.

    About 300 horses are now en route and the probabilities are that Dr. McEachran will have little trouble in selecting the balance. 14 hands 2 to 15 hands 2 is the standard worked upon, but only the very best 14-2, which are well known to be hard in the west, are being taken.

    The Palace Horse Cars provided by the Company are excellent in comparison with the old stock cars and in every way the Canadian Pacific Railway people have met our wishes and carried out their part effectively

    Machine Guns

    The officers have not been appointed, and the men have not yet been selected who are to compose the machine gun detachment, but I hold documents of qualification from a number of good men, and I intend having them parade, at once, so that I amy judge of their experience.

    My Lord, in conclusion this my first report upon the organization of your Corps, I beg to state that the two days, that I have been in Ottawa, I have devoted to completing the organization, and seeing the men properly instructed by competent instructors of the force and you will not be surprised when I tell you that the westerner has again proved himself to be a likely learner.

    The clothing may delay us, but everything is being rushed by competent hands and I am pleased to inform you that the organization is so far very satisfactory.

    I have the honour to be,
    Your obedient servant,

    (Signed) S. B. STEELE,
    Lt. Col. Commanding Strathcona's Horse

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