To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excelence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fightingso said Sun Tzu in his famous book on military philosophy, Art of War
That is exactly what the Red River expedition did in 1870, when Colonel Garnet Wolseley ended a nascent rebellion by the Metis in the Red River colony. It was Wolseley’s first independent command, where his attention to detail, during an extremely arduous journey to Red River, would presage his eventual rise to become Commander-in-Chief of the British Army. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald knew that to resist the expansionist pressures of the United States, Canada would have to expand to the Pacific. Wolseley’s success meant that what later became the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia would not be American. History, has largely forgotten this bloodless use of military force, failing to appreciate the expedition’s impact as a Canadian political and strategic victory.
Paul McNicholls is an independent historian and published author. He is also the 2021 recipient of the Howard Browne Medal from the Victorian Military Society. Journey… was his first book. Paul has two future titles in the works- Canada in the Boer War and another about FM Montgomery’s older brother- Canada’s Monty.
This presentation was made to the Royal United Services Institute of Vancouver Island luncheon on Wednesday, January 11, 2023.