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Date: May 4th 1885
Gerald Brophy - (brother)
Lewis Brophy

Fort Otter
May 4/85

Dear Gerald

I received your letter of the 21st on Friday the 1st and was very glad to hear from you. I also received one from Katie at the same time. I am glad you are keeping on the good side of [Wibt?] and the rest of the [B?] people as if I get home and [worry?] through this campaign all safe, I would like to have a sit when I do get there. I think that the boys around Winnipeg will get their wish now as we want every man we can get here and that as soon as possible as Nichees and Breeds are increasing every day. I am now sitting writing in the door of my tent and across the Battle River there is a long string of men with seven waggons each with a rough coffin covered with a flag they are on the [way?] to the fort it is the burial party of the poor fellows killed in action on Saturday. The Queens Own bugle band is in front, I can tell you it makes a fellow feel sad and at the service time very revengeful and I can tell you the Indians will get no mercy shown them by the soldiers. I will now give you a short sketch of the Battle of Cutknife Hills. Our column was composed of B. Battery 80 men two 7 pdrs and a Gatling under Major Short and little Bobby Rutherford. 75 Mounted Police under Col Herchmer. C. School. 40 strong under Lieut Wadmore. 50 men from the Queens Own. 50 men of the Battleford Militia under Capt Nash, a brother of Ernie’s and 20 of the Ottawa Sharpshooters under Harry Gray. We left the fort at 3. P.M Friday and travelled along in wagons until dark when we made a halt, had some tea and waited until the moon rose when we continued the march as the Indians would no doubt know that we were coming but would not expect us to travel all night. We drove on until 4.30 A.M. and were about 36 miles out when we struck the place where the Indians had camped but they had moved away. We thought at this time that we would have to chase them all over the country and never fire a shot but we were mistaken as events shortly proved. We went on about half a mile until we came to a coulee with a stream running through and a lot of scrub [alon?] the banks we crossed over to the foot of a hill and at this point saw about a mile of a herd of cattle grazing on the hill we then knew that the Indians had either run off and abandoned them or were close by. We were not kept long in suspense we were on our way up the hill intending to push on to where the cattle were and the artillery were in advance when suddenly I heard four shots one after the other as the scouts were in advance we thought it was them, however the Gatling doubled up and had no sooner reached the top than it was met by a perfect hail of bullets, in less that 1/4 of a minute it was hard at work just mowing them down for a few minutes. The infantry and mounted Police came up on the double and dismounted tying their horses to the wagons on the top of the hill. McGray who had been walking up ahead of the Guards shouted to us to hurry up. I ran up the hill and when I reached the top, threw my overcoat off and we lined up on the top of the hill, we then formed forces to march to the scene of conflict but had not gone three paces before we found we were already there as bullets whistled around us like hail. We immediately extended in any sort of order and lay down flat so as to expose ourselves as little as possible after we had been at it about half an hour we were pretty well scattered I was pretty much all over the field. When the fight commenced a square of 200 yds would have more than enclosed all our men, but before our fellows were through our lines were nearly a mile wide so you can see that although we did retire it was not because we were forced to but because our position was such an exposed one that it would have been madness to remain there all night as it would surely have been another Custer massacre.

The fight lasted from 5 in the morning until 12.30 and although it was my first fire I venture to say that it is the hottest fight ever took place in Canada we fired about 12 000 rounds of ammunition and the Gatling fired 3,500 while the two 7 Pdrs fired until they were both knocked off their carriages and almost completely disabled. I was most of the time near the Gatling and the two other guns along with a few mounted Police. Major Short and young Rutherford of B. Battery were regular bricks and as cool as possible although in a very dangerous spot They fired the guns themselves nearly all the time. At one time I was lying down near the 7 Pdr and I heard Short say as he pointed to a bunch of Indians “I wonder how far they are off” I ventured to say about 1200 yards and acting on my advice he sighted the Gun for that distance and had the satisfaction of bursting a double shell in the middle of them and they were scattered in every direction. We also saw their village about 1500 yds off and knocked a good many of their teepees silly with the shells. The Indians seem to have known about the Gatling Gun, or were told about it by the breeds of whom I think there must have been at least 50 among them, as they made a desperate charge up the hill on it and had it not been for Short and a few others might have taken it as they came within 10 yds of the muzzle.

Short hit one with his revolver and the French Cook of the Battery brained another with the but of his gun. There must have been from 500 to 700 Indians and breeds in the fight and there were some very good shots among them. I was not in the least frightened and I guess I downed a few Nichees. Capt Todd told me when I came back that he had heard from several officer that I was the coolest fellow around there. I had quite a chat with Major Farley while the bullets were whistling. he saw me firing with my glass in my eye and I had been talking some time between shots when he asked me my name and when I told him it was Brophy he said are you anything to Gerald Brophy of Winnipeg I said you were my brother and he told me he had seen you on his way up. He seems to be a very nice chap, although he had not much work to do in the battle.

Our men were highly complimented by the Col. of the Brigade and he said that he never wished to command a better lot of men, and men who were so cool under the most trying circumstances. He said that he would report on us to General Middleton and also upon the individual conduct of several of the officers and men of the brigade.

Some of our boys are positive that I will be mentioned and are ready to bet on it but I do not think I will as I did not do anything of any special account that I remember I simply did my duty without any fear. I would be more afraid to stand up before a good boxer than I was on Saturday. The Guards lost the most heavily of any of the corps in action as out of 20 men of our on the Column, we had 2 killed and two wounded, or 20 per cent of our force knocked hors du combat. I am feeling all right again and have returned to my normal condition I suppose we will have lots more fighting but I do not think it will ever be nearly so hot.

Your affectionate broth
Lewis L. Brophy.

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