Stoney Lake N.W.T.
June 19th 1885
As you no doubt have heard we left Battleford on the 8th in search of Big Bear, whom by the way for we know of his whereabouts is about as far from us as ever. We have marched a great deal since we left Battleford and have passed through a rather pretty country although the water supply is not up to the mark. We marched for four whole days after leaving Battlefd but since then have been moving round in a more leisurely manner taking in on our way Stoney Creek, Turtle Lake (from which place I wrote Gerald) and now Stoney Lake we stopped a couple of days at [both?] [this?] last and have been here three days. The weather has been on the whole favorable until last night, when we had a very severe thunderstorm. I happened to be on guard at the time and got pretty wet, however the weather is now very fine and I am none the worse for it. I hope you will not feel offended at my not having written the last letter to you instead of to Gerald, but as I had no time to write any more than one letter I wrote to kill two birds with one stone as I knew that Gerald would send it on to you.
We have never been able to get near Big Bear and it is my opinion we never will as his party is supposed to have been broken up into several bands, in fact they say in camp that he has only a very few lodges with him and is scared to death. In any event if there is any more fighting done I am almost certain it will not be done by us. If any one can catch him it will be Crozier and his Mounted Police. We are all very tired of this business as there is nothing for us to do but eat and mount guard neither of which affords much pleasure to us as the food is poor and guards tiresome. for the last day or two the rations have been running low, we have had no sugar for four days and they are now cutting down our tea to half rations, however we wont starve yet as we have plenty of Corn Beef and Hard Tack. Capt Mutton left here a couple of days ago for Battleford with a train of waggons to bring up rations and he is expected here to morrow, I think they will also bring in some mail of which we have had none for two weeks. This Indian business seems to me to be a great farce, as whenever we come up to a band they say they are friendly and have been so all along, although I am certain that they are as great scoundrels as ever lived, it is a case of moral certainties and legal doubt. Yesterday our scouts went out with all our mounted men and the staff to an Indian camp about 20 miles from here. There were about 80 lodges of them, under a chief named Yellow Sky. They had a large herd of cattle with them and also quantities of furs of all sorts which no doubt were stolen from the Hudson’s Bay Co. The officers and men bought large quantities of furs from them but really paid almost as much as they would cost in Ottawa. I did not meddle with any. The scouts brought in all their cattle as it belonged to the Wyld [Bros?] of Battleford, their brother is a lawyer in Ottawa, a partner of Mosgrove’s. We will now have fresh beef as the Govt will buy what they require from them, at any rate there was one killed this morning for dinner to morrow. Captain Todd is now a Brevet-Major I believe it is the rank he is entitled to for having seen ten years service. However he has forbidden us to address him as anything more than Captain, as it appears he dislikes the rank of Brevet Major. I suppose you in Ottawa know more about when we shall get home than we do. My impression is that we will be lucky if we get home by the 1st of August. Tell Jack I received his letter all right but have not time to answer it, however he must not be offended at me and discontinue his letters as believe me it is much easier to write when at home than out here. I have not yet seen anything yet of the good things you sent me and no doubt never will all on account of whatever crank started something called the Soldiers Aid Assn. May he, she or they be consumed by the fire of our wrath or as Bill says may the [Blue?] spark of [?] light on them and burn them to a crisp. You may perhaps wonder what I mean by all this. I will [endeavor?] to explain.
From what I understood a society was formed in Ottawa to supply the Ottawa Sharpshooters with comforts and now instead of letting this go on as intended, some person or persons desirous of having their names mentioned as contributing to a Dominion instead of a local organization formed the Soldiers Aid Assn
Now while large cities like Toronto and Montreal contented themselves with sending things to their own men a miserable [little?] place [like?] Ottawa must needs supply the whole North West field force of some 5,000 men. Now what is the consequence? It is this, that while the Queens Own, the Grenadiers and 90th have rec’d their stuff weeks ago, our boys have never even had a smell of anything good, and the chances are that we never will until we get home and there is really no news and I have nothing to ask about. Love to Father and the rest of the family and a Big Kiss for yourself
Your aff Son