A newspaper report of the attempt by an Irish MP to kidnap Queen Victoria has reached the remote outpost and Colonel Tom Mangan of the US Cavalry is taking great delight in telling Lieutenant John O’Neill, another Irishman, that he used to share rooms with the famous Finbar Blake. When Mangan and O’Sullivan arrived in Boston ten years ago, Finbar had given them enough money to get on their feet. The men travelled on to St Louis, where O’Sullivan had a cousin who worked on a newspaper. O’Sullivan got a job as a reporter but Mangan wanted to go further west. With his military experience he easily obtained an officer’s commission in the US Cavalry and within three years was in command of a new frontier post on the Red River, that he named Fort Emmet. His overall command now stretched to 3,000 men and four forts, as far west as the Missouri River. Two thirds of his troops were Irish emigrants. The key to Mangan’s success was his relationship with the Sioux and Chippewa. They knew by now that he was sympathetic to their problems and accordingly the Dakota area had enjoyed seven years of relative peace. Mangan knew this would soon come to an end. A group of businessmen in St Paul’s, the first major city to the east had sponsored the building of a steamboat to navigate the Red River north the 200 miles from Fort Emmet to the Canadian trading post of Upper Fort Garry (now Winnipeg). In August 1858, amid great excitement the veteran captain Anson Northup launched the first steamboat and successfully navigated the river north to Canada.
26:Upper Fort Garry. November 1858
Jean-Paul has arrived home. His father had died the year after he had left for Scotland but he knew that, without telling him, his grandfather had been sending money to support his mother. Life had not changed since Jean-Paul had left. The Metis were allowed land but it was inferior to that taken by the Protestant settlers who had arrived there in the previous century from Scotland. Jean-Paul now realised that the situation was very similar to that in the north of Ireland. Because their property was poor farming land, the Metis have traditionally been traders, selling the products of their buffalo hunts to the Hudson Bay Company, whose biggest trading post for 1,000 miles was 20 miles downstream at Lower Fort Garry. As no other company was