The essence of the militia system is as old as Anglo-Saxon history. The recognition that citizenship involves the responsibility of military service (as well as the establishment of laws for the enforcement of such service) is part and parcel of our racial inheritance. On careful retrospection, we find that in Saxon England all freemen between the ages of 15 and 60 who were capable of bearing arms were bound, under heavy penalties, to go forth at the king's summons to the "fyrd" or general levy. The levy of each shire took the field under its "alderman" or military chief. Its service held a double aspect. As a civil force the levy was known as the "posse comitatus," which might be called on to arrest criminals and suppress riots. As a military force it was called out to defend the realm in civil war or against foreign foes.

This general levy was always difficult to raise and hard to keep together, so that the Saxon kings depended much more, especially for foreign wars, on a well-armed, semi-permanent force of military dependents or thanes, to whom they granted land on the condition of military service. The Norman Conquest substituted for the thanehood a similar but much more rigidly feudal aristocracy of Norman war-lords, Norman feudalism petered out in the course of six centuries, and in 1660 Charles the Second abolished the obsolescent feudal levy and substituted a small standing army on the basis which still serves today.

The liability for all able-bodied men to serve in the general levy, however, still continued. The summons to serve would be issued in each case by the sheriff of the county in the form of a royal writ or "commission of array.: By the end of the sixteenth century the practice had become established of selecting from peace-time musters a convenient number of men for annual drill and intensive training. The command and control of these Trained Bands became one of the principal subjects of dispute between Charles the First and the Long Parliament, and in the protracted controversy the word "militia" first came into general use. By a Militia Act of 1662 the training of small county bands was discontinued and a system set up reestablishing the direct responsibility of all property-owners to give service or substitutes of men, horses, and money in proportion to the value of their property. Amendments have been made to this Act from time to time, but its provisions summarize fairly well the anc ient system, which, through various statutory phases, has persisted even to our own day.

Early Militia Organization in Canada

When Canada passed under British control in 1763, her new rulers soon imposed the traditional militia system of their race. In the form of levy which was ultimately accepted for many years, all the able-bodied men of the county between 18 and 60 were organized into battalions of "sedentary" militia. Every member of these battalions was supposed to provide himself with arms and ammunition. Officers were appointed by the Crown to command and discipline the respective units. Parades were held for two days in each year for drill and the inspection of arms.

The Militia were liable to service in time of war, rebellion, riot, or invasion, and could be kept mobilized for not more than six months. Quakers, Mennonites and Tunkers paid an annual exemption fee of twenty shilling in peace time and ten pounds in war time.

No pay was issued to militiamen. On the contrary, militia officers were actually mulcted certain fees on receiving their commissions. The scale of such deductions was as follows:Lt Colonels, 30 shillings; Majors and Captains, 20 shillings; Lieutenants, Paymasters, and Surgeons, 15 shillings; Ensigns and Quartermasters, 10 shillings. These fees were collected by the Officer Commanding and remitted to the public treasury

Local Militia in 1828 and 1839

The first record to be found in the Archives at Ottawa of any militia organization affecting the townships now included in Victory County is under the date of 1828. In that year the 2nd Regiment of Durham Militia, commanded by Lt-Col. Robert Henry, had Christopher Knowlson of Omemee as one of its captains; and numbered Wm. Cottingham, James Laidley, Samuel Cottingham, John Knowlson, Francis Henderson, and Wm. Fee among its lieutenants. This unit was called out in 1837, but took no part in the skirmishes of that uneasy year.

In 1839 all laws relating to the organization and training of the Militia were reduced into one Act. Under this statute a general reconstruction of units took place. The land-holders of Emily and Ops became the 4th Regiment of Durham Militia, and those in Verulam, Fenelon, Eldon, and Mariposa the 5th Regiment of Durham Militia.

The personnel of the regimental staffs was as follows:

4th Regiment of Durham Militia:

O. C. Lieut. Colonel John Logie

2nd in Command Charles Ruttan.

Captains Edward Davidson, Francis Henderson, Wm. Cottingham, Christopher Knowlson, Josias L. Hughes, Thomas Rea, Sr., Angus McDonald; Jesse Purdy.

Lieutenants Samuel Cottingham, Cheeseman Moe, Alex. Logie, Richard Hughes, Thomas Sowden, Isaac Rea, Gerald Patterson, Hassard Purdy, John Miller

Ensigns Charles Hamilton, Edward Davidson, Wm. John Logie, Richard Davidson, George Henry Marmion, Roger McHugh, Terence Brady, Richard Shaw.

5th Regiment of Durham Militia:

O. C.Lt. Col. A. S. Fraser

2nd in Command Major Jas. Wallace.

Captains Thomas Need, John Langton, Robert Dennistoun, Duncan Cameron, Jacob Ham, James Dunsford, Mossom Boyd, Samuel Davidson, Hector McDonald, Gavin Hamilton.

Lieutenants George Toker, Hartley Dunsford, Israel Ferguson, Geo. Hamilton Dundas, Edward Atthill, Behmamin Beresford, George Dunsford, Alexander Dennistoun, Henry Thomas Wickham, Charles Hore.

Ensigns Morgan Richard Jones, Alex. Ross, Robert Hamilton, Joseph Parker, Martin Dunsford.

The two units mustered 693 and 523 (all ranks) respectively.

Changes in 1847 and in 1851

In 1846 the Oregon Boundary dispute with the United States was made crucial by the mouthings of demagogues who clamored for "Fifty-four- forty-or-Fight." Under the tensity of this menace the Canadian government passed a new Militia Act and prepared to set its house in order in the event that hostilities should break out.

The townships of our present county became, in January 1847, part of a new organization. The militiamen of Emily, Verulam, and Somerville now constituted the 4th Battalion of Peterborough Militia, those in Ops, Fenelon, and Bexley the 5th Battalion of Peterborough Militia, and those in Mariposa and Eldon the 6th Battalion of Peter borough Militia. On the incorporation of Victoria County in 1851, these units became the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions, respectively, of Victoria Militia.

Their staffs were as follows:

4th Peterborough (later 1st Victoria) Battalion:

O. C. Lt. Col. Edward Davidson

2nd in Command Major Francis Henderson.

Captains Wm. Cottingham, Christopher Knowlson, James Dunsford, Mossom Boyd.

Lieutenants Chas. Hamilton, Edward Davidson, Jr.

Ensigns John Sullivan, Charles Hartley, Joseph Lee.

5th Peterborough (later 2nd Victoria) Battalion:

O. C. Lt. Col. A. S. Fraser.

Captains Alex. Logie, John Graham, Thomas Keenan, Wm. McDonell, Thomas Rea.

Lieutenants Isaac Rea, Roger McHugh, G. M Roche, James Graham, John Pyne.

Ensigns James Maloney, Martin Hogan, Charles Logie, G. D. Brock, Horatio Stephenson, Thomas Pyne, James Finnigan.

6th Peterborough (later 3rd Victoria) Battalion:

O. C. Lt. Col. Samuel Davidson

2nd in Command Major Hector McDonald.

Jr. Major Major Elridge R. Irish

Captains Andrew McPherson, William Webster, Wm. McCready, James McPherson, Israel Ferguson, John R. Lytle, W. Davidson, James Worsley, Donald Campbell, John Wylie, Matthew Emmerson

Lieutenants John Haight, Neil Smith, Edward Mather, Hugh McFadyen, Wm. Foster, Stephen Dundas, Alexander McLean, James Davidson, Henry McNeil, Duncan McFarlane, Alexander McTaggart.

Ensigns------McLaughlin, Charles Ross, Patrick O'Brien, Robert and Wm Stephenson, John Kingland, Joseph Perrin, James-------, Jalney McKenzie, Thomas Clark.

In 1875 No 2 Company was established at Fenelon Falls instead of at Orono. In 1894 Lt. Col. Cubitt was succeeded in the command by Lt. Col, John Hughes and he in turn, on June 9, 1897, by Lt. Col. Sam Hughes, M. P.

Under this new commander the headquarters of the unit were transferred from Bowmanville to Lindsay, and its title altered to "The 65th Victoria Battalion of Infrantry. By this reorganization, No. 1 company was at Cameron, Nos. 2 and 3 at Lindsay, No. 4 at Omemee, No. 5 at Janetville, and No. 6 at Woodville. In 1905 No. 5 Company was shifted from Janetville to Fenelon Falls and the transformation from a Durham county unit to a Victoria county unit was complete. Since that time the location of the companies, has varied, but has always remained within the limits of Victoria county and the subsidiary county of Haliburton on the north. In addition to the stations enumerated above, Bobcaygeon, Little Britain, Oakwood, Norland, Tory Hill, and Haliburton have also been company headquarters at one time or another. In 1920 the unit was reorganized as the "45th Victoria and Haliburton Regiment."

Lt. Col. Sam Hughes was succeeded on Jan. 21, 1903, by Lt. Col. Robert Sylvester. Subsequent commanding officers have been Lt. Col. Fred Holmes Hopkins, appointed Sept. 6, 1912, Lt. Col. J. J. H. Fee, appointed October 14, 1914, and Lt. Col. R. H. Anderson, appointed October 12, 1915

The Saskatchewan Rebellion, 1885.

The militia of Victoria County have seen active service on three occasions, vis.: in the Saskatchewan or Second Riel Rebellion of 1885, in the Boer War, and in the World War of 1914-18.

The Saskatchewan Rebellion was the result of sheer stupidity on the part of the Canadian government. The Northwest Territories had been taken over from the Hudson Bay Company in 1870, and the Canadian Pacific Railway had been begun in the early eighties. The half-breed or Metis along the Saskatchewan River asked that they be given a legal title to the land which they occupied. The government admitted the justice and reasonableness of the request but with criminal inertia allowed the matter to go unheeded, in spite of urgent solicitation by the North-West Council and others who saw the rising storm.

At last the tempest broke. The half-breeds found that constitutional agitation was hopeless and began open hostilities. On March 26th, under Louis Riel, the outlawed leader of a similar rebellion in Manitoba in 1870, and Gabriel Dumont, a resourceful half-breed, they defeated a detachment of Mounted Police at Duck Lake, killing twelve and wounding twenty-five. Two Indian chiefs, Poundmaker and Big Bear, at once went on the war-path, the former near Battleford and the latter at Frog Lake and Fort Pitt, farther to the northwest.

The solons at Ottawa now awoke at last and ordered the mobilization of a punitive force. Part of the contingent thus called out was a "Midland Battalion" of infantry, consisting of two companies from the 46th Militia Regt., and one each from the 15th, 45th , 47th, 49th, and 57th Regiments. The Officer Commanding this unit was Lt. Col. A. T. Williams, of Port Hope; and the Junior Major Colonel Deacon, of Lindsay.

The personnel of the 45th detachment from Lindsay and the surrounding district was as follows:--Major John Hughes, Capt. J. C. Grace, Lieut. George E. Laidlaw, Color-Sgt. McMurchy, Sergeants Christie and Holtorf, Corporals McKee and Hall, Privates Barton, Bennett, Brown, Bunting, Charlton, Crawford, Fishley, Fryer, Gregory, Gain, Gamble, Galbraith, Henry, Hepburn, Higgins, Irwin, Jeffrey, John, Just, Kayley, Keegan, Keele, Latimer, Lee, McDonald, Moore, Moyse, Pratt, Porter, Savage, Skinner, Smith, R., Smith S., Turner, Veitch, Williamson, Wilson J., Wilson W., and Woods.

On April 1, 1885, these troops left Lindsay to report at Kingston. Five days later the Midland Battalion, mustering 363 men and 34 officers, entrained at Kingston for the scene of action. The section of the C.P.R. lying to the north of Lake Superior was not yet complete, and on April 12th the battalion marched twenty miles in a blinding snow-storm across the ice of Lake Superior to cover a gap in railway service. They reached Winnipeg on the 14th and went into camp at Swift Current on the 15th. General Middleton, the Commander-in-chief in the North-West, now had a force of 4,380 infantry, 650 cavalry, and 300 artillery. He divided this force into three columns. The first was to march under his own command to attack Riel and Dumont at their headquarters at Batoche. The second, under Lieut. Colonel W. D. Otter, attacked Pondmaker near Battleford. The third, under Major-Gen. Strange, marched from Calgary towards Edmonton, near which Big Bear was supposed to be encamped.

Lindsay Soldiers Lead Batoche Charge.

By the time the Midland Battalion arrived at Swift current General Middleton's column had already set out and had been severely singed by an ambush at Fish creek. The Midland Battalion came down the river on the steamer Northcote and joined Middleton on May 5th. Four days later they faced the rebel position at Batoche. Here the enemy had established a strong line of rifle-pits across a scrubby ravine. Two days were spent in ineffectual skirmishing. On the afternoon of the 11th of May the force was brought out again, with orders to skirmish and snipe but not to charge the enemy's position. The troops were greatly exasperated by such warfare, however, and as soon as they got into touch with the enemy "C." Company (the Lindsay volunteers) of the Midland Battalion launched a charge against the rifle-pits. They were at once supported by their comrades and by the Grenadiers of Toronto, and swept down the ravine through the dense, scraggy underbrush. General Middleton accep ted the situation and ordered all the rest of his force into action. Batoche village was soon captured and the backbone of the rebellion broken. Riel was taken prisoner on May 22nd, and Dumont fled to the States.

Meanwhile Colonel Otter's column had accepted heavy losses in an attack on Poundmaker at Cut Knife Hill on May 2nd. The object of this attack had been to prevent a junction of the forces of Poundmaker and Big Bear and their combined march to Batoche. At the cost of eight killed and thirteen wounded, Otter achieved this objective. Poundmaker therafter remained inactive, and soon surrendered to the joint forced of Otter and Middleton.

General Strange, with his third column, the Albert Field Force was unable to come to grips with Big Bear, but succeeded in keeping that chief so continually on the move that he at last repented of his hostilities and gave himself up.

The net results of the rebellion were that the half-breeds received all that they had originally sought and that Canada paid $5,000,000 for a campaign brought on by the stupidity of her politicians.

The Victoria County Rifle Association.

The Saskatchewan outbreak aroused fresh interest in rifle practice, and on May 29, 1885, the Victoria County Rifle Association held its first match. J. A. Williamson, of Lindsay, made the highest aggregate score and took first prize in the "all-comers" match. Robt. Sylvester, of Lindsay, carried off the county council cup in the "association match."

The first range was in the 4th concession, on a farm owned by one Twohey, west of the present House of Refuge. On May 24, 1892, a new 600-yard range was opened at the head of Lindsay street north, north of the town limits. This was superseded in turn by a range on the James Hopkins farm, northwest of the town. About a decade ago, Dominion regulations were passed requiring a clear zone of 2500 yards (practically a mile and a half) behind the targets on every rifle range. No such conditions could be secured in South Victoria, and the Rifle Association collapsed.

During the history of this local rifle association one of its members, Major J. A. Williamson, visited England twice, in 1892 and in 1894, on the Canadian-Bisley team. On his first trip he made over &100 in prize money.

Next - History of the County of Victoria Part 28

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