gunplay and riot were also
commonplace. "As you may imagine," wrote Lt. Wilson, "where there is so
much young blood and no female population there are sometimes very
fierce scenes enacted & the bowie knife & revolver which every
man wears are in constant requisition." In Victoria, he commented casually,
"the whiz of revolver bullets round you goes on all day & if anyone gets
shot of course it’s his own fault."
Following one such shooting, the Engineers took charge of a native
accused of murdering an Irishman. One evening the prisoner, wearing only
a blanket, "watched his opportunity and darted away from his guard.
They were armed with revolvers, and rushed after him firing. But the
revolvers had been loaded for some time and hung fire."
Sapper Meade tried to leap on the escaping figure, but
Indian cleverly threw his blanket over Meade, and sped away down the
bank towards the river." The
naked man is presumed to have drowned trying to swim the half-frozen
Another adventure in law enforcement was recounted by Lt. Lempriere in
October 1859. Three men had
been found murdered downstream from New Westminster. A posse of sorts set off in search of the native suspects:
“I and Capt. Luard each
went in command of a boat with armed men and started up the River. There
was also a party of Yankees all armed, one man had no less than 3
revolvers on his waist belt. When we arrived at the Indian ranch we took
3 Indians whom we had some suspicion of. The Yankees wanted to hang one
of them right off the bat and requested Captain Luard, the magistrate
and myself to go away a short distance saying ‘That it would be all
over by the time we got back and that no one would be any wiser’ –
however Captain Luard told them that was not the way we did business.
They then said they would put it to a vote, endevouring to get
our men to join them. We immediately made our men fall in, put the
prisoners in my boat and returned to our Camp."
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