We do not know his name: Klatsassin and the Chilcotin War

Seymour to Cardwell, No. 56

4 October 1864

I have had the honor to receive your Despatch No. 30 of the 1st of August, respecting the insurrection of the Chilicoten Indians in this Colony. I am highly gratified to perceive that you approve of the determination I expressed of dealing with the matter as far as lay in my power as a series of offences against the Law.

2. I am reluctant to make any observations upon a despatch so indulgent in tone as the one I have now the honor of acknowledging, but I would observe, with reference to your second paragraph that it was not so much the high rate of pay assigned to the Volunteers of the two Expeditions I regretted, as the heavy miscellaneous charges. For instance, the first that came under my notice, two hundred pounds (200) for the conveyance of fifty rifles and ammunition to Alexandria. During three Months a force of upwards of a hundred men has been maintained upon supplies obtained mainly from the Gold regions, with their bases of supply, Alexandria or Quesnel Mouth, upwards of five hundred miles from the Sea. That these supplies were difficult to obtain, even at exorbitant prices, can hardly be considered as evidencing the prosperity of the Colony.

3. The Indian insurrection is merely referred to by you as a question of Colonial importance. I would, however, beg most respectfully to point out that should a real war take place between the Indian population and the Whites, the former numbering about 60,000, the latter about 7,000 I may find myself compelled to follow in the footsteps of the Governor of Colorado, whose proclamation I forwarded in my despatch No. 49 of the 24th of September and invite every white man to shoot each Indian he may meet. Such a proclamation would not be badly received here in a case of emergency.

4. The final paragraph of your despatch directs me to maintain a cordial cooperation with the Admiral on this Station. I can assure you that your wishes will be fully carried out on my part. Indeed, they have been forstalled. I have no copy of the hurried semi-official letter to your department in which I stated that I had "despatched" a gun boat somewhere. But my official despatch No. 8 of the 20th of May was, I understand, before the Lords of the Admiralty at the same time as the note referred to, and in it their Lordships may have seen stated that, "the Senior Naval Officer after some hesitation, complied with my application for assistance to the extent of supplying the Gunboat "Forward," coupled with the request that she should be detained in the Colony as short a time as possible." When so lent, I may have carelessly stated--improperly, possibly--that I had "despatched" her to Bute Inlet.

5. My correspondence with Lord Gilford created no bad feeling between us, but after it had closed when he was on a visit to me, I learnt that he was annoyed by something which had been published in the Victoria Papers, and I, quite unsolicited by him, wrote the letter, copy of which I enclose. I do not and have not complained of Lord Gilford, and I shall be always happy to cooperate in the most friendly manner with him, but at the same time I reserve to myself the right of thinking that earlier assistance ought to have been afforded me. We might have saved the lives of Macdonald's party and prevented the rising of the Western branch of the Chilicoten tribe under Anaheim.

6. Sir Edward Lytton's despatch No. 30 of the 10th March 1859, and the Duke of Newcastle's, No. 31 of the 21st October 1859* certainly led me to believe that the two Gunboats would be generally available for the Service of British Columbia when our fellow Countrymen were being butchered therein.

I have etc.

*Parl: Paper Part II P. 81 & Part III P. 105.

Mr. Elliot

The Despatch N. 30 of 1 of August which the Governor replies to is in circulation. I annex a Copy of it. See 10948 referred to.

VJ29 Nov

Mr Cardwell

I should be inclined to treat these questions as bygones, and put the Despatch by, unless you should think it necessary to notice the end of par: 3.



Seymour to Gilford, 11 June 1864, excusing a previous remark attributed to him and advising that his concern centred on the defenseless state of the colony, and was not intended as a personal slur.


Draft reply, Cardwell to Seymour, No. 53, 1 December 1864.

The despatch remodelled as it here stands, and the approval and signature of Mr. Cardwell is done.

TFE 1 Dec

Source: Great Britain Public Record Office, Colonial Office Records, CO 60/19, p. 298, 10955, Frederick Seymour, Letter to Cardwell, No. 56, sent October 4, 1864, received November 29, 1864.

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