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

Seymour to Kennedy

British Columbia
New Westminster
4th June 1864. 8 am.

[ Government House, New Westminster, Dally, Frederick, 1838-1914, BCA A-02799 ]


I had the honor to receive, late last night, your letter of the 2nd Instant forwarding a copy of certain resolutions adopted at a Public Meeting held in Victoria to consider the state of affairs growing out of the late Massacre on the Bute Inlet trail.

May I request that your Excellency will have the goodness to convey in any manner you may think fit, to the people of Vancouver's Island my thanks for the resolutions passed at the meeting and his consequent enrolment of Volunteers to serve, if called upon, against the Chilicoten Indians in this Colony.

These Volunteers will I have no doubt attribute to none but proper motives the hesitation I feel in accepting their offer of assistance. The time may perhaps come when I may have to call for their Services but it has not yet arrived.

There is nothing unfriendly or disrespectful to the people of Victoria in my declining to avail myself immediately of their offer of assistance. I have already pressing upon me for employment in support of the Law The New Westminster Rifle Volunteers Company & the Hyack Fire Brigade; two bodies, I believe, of admirable efficiency. Individual offers of Service have likewise poured in upon me to an extent which would enable me to enrol a force greatly exceeding in number the whole Chilicoten tribe.

The meeting in Victoria was held, I gather, from the Public prints of the Island, in consequence of tidings of a fresh Indian Massacre having just been received from Nanaimo, brought down it was said to that town by Mr. Brew. Now Mr. Brew's information respecting the alleged second massacre in the interior of British Columbia was derived solely from the Vancouver Island newspapers. Thus the rumour which caused so much excitement and led to the public meeting was merely the echo from Nanaimo of Victoria news. We have no authentic intelligence of any Indian outrage having succeded the massacre of the Road party on the Bute Inlet trail. Unquestionably, however, while the Gang of Murderers is at large, the lives of the White men about the Chilicoten Lakes are in most imminent danger, if they have not already been sacrificed.

On the much delayed receipt by me, of the intelligence of the melancholy affair at Bute Inlet, I at once placed myself in communication with my Predecessor, as to the measures which should be adopted. His Indian experience and reputation for energy pointed Sir James Douglas out to me as my best counsellor.

He told me that "a party should be at once sent in the Gun Boat to the Inlet to pick up Survivors and to gain information of the Indian's movements. Then a party should be organized to consist of about 30 men, well mounted, equipped and provided with ammunition, under a proper leader to go round to Alexandria and that rewards for each man concerned in the murder should be offered, say $100 to $200." He thought the catching of them "will be certain but a matter of time. Three months or so"

In every respect my predecessor's suggestions have been exceeded by my actions. And additional steps, equalling at least in vigour any yet taken, would long ere this have been adopted had I received the cooperation I anticipated from a branch of Her Majesty's Service seldom slow in protecting the lives of our fellows' countrymen and supporting the authority of the law.

I trust that I shall even yet, without any more wearying delay have the means placed at my disposal for penetrating into the Chilicoten Country from Bentinck Arm forming a junction with the force from Alexandria near Benshee Lake.

I may possibly accept for this Service some of the Victoria Volunteers but I scarcely think that I shall have to do so. Should however any of these Gentlemen join the Expedition I would apprise them at the outset that their duties will not probably of the exciting kind which tempt young men from their homes. We are not at war with the Indians and the energy of the Volunteers restrained by their oaths as Special Constables will probably have only to be directed towards making passable for themselves and Packers the many swamps and rocks which will impede their progress. We apprehend no serious Resistance from a Small band of assassins who even though excited by [illusion?] would not have dared to face the men who fell their victims.

Should circumstances change and isolated massacres prove, contrary to my expectation, to be the prelude to a general insurrection among the tribes between the Upper Frazer and the Sea I shall earnestly involve the Assistance of the Victoria Volunteers. I have no doubt that in such a case they will promptly respond to the call and render us good Service side by side with their brother Colonists of British Columbia.

I have the honor to be
Your most obedient Servant

Frederick Seymour.

R 4/55 June 4th 1864
Governor Seymour
In regard to Resolutions of Public meeting at Victoria, Bute Inlet Massacre.

Source: BCA, Colonial Correspondence, GR-1372, F1588/3a, Mflm B-1310, Frederick Seymour, Letter to Kennedy, June 4, 1864.

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