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Canadian Military Journal

Named by the Enemy: A History of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles

Bernd Horn
Bernd Horn
Abstract :

The adage “you cannot judge a book by its cover” is actually false in this instance. This book is exactly what it appears to be – a high-quality, very polished regimental history. It is an incredibly handsome book, exactly what one would expect from a Robin Brass publication.

The book title derives its name from the fact that the Winnipeg Rifles, also known as the “Little Black Devils,” derived their nickname from the Métis during the North West Rebellion in 1885. The Métis knew who the ‘men in red serge’ were, but asked who were the troops in the dark tunics, who they referred to as ‘the little black devils.’ They, of course, were referring to the Winnipeg Rifles.

The book is written by former artillery officer and relatively well-known author on military history, Brian Reid, who produced the volume specifically for the Winnipeg Rifles Association. The book has the quality of a coffee table presentation, yet it is a very respectable regimental history. It is well written, with an entertaining and fast moving text. It is also based upon sound research. However, anyone looking for a very detailed history or analysis of the larger context of the respective periods or conflicts in question will be somewhat disappointed. It is, understandably so, a pure narrative of the history of the “Little Black Devils.” Nonetheless, it is an excellent survey history of the regiment, captured in just 300 pages. The author has created a succinct overview of the regiment, punctuated with brilliant testimonials by various participants. As such, he achieves a good broad brush overview of key events and achievements, and a global understanding of the “Little Black Devils’” participation in conflict, at home, and abroad.

The text begins naturally enough with the organizations and individuals that preceded the regiment, as well as the circumstances surrounding its establishment in the vibrant but volatile and quickly growing Canadian West in 1883. Of particular interest is the account of members who participated as boatmen on the Nile River in Field Marshal Sir Garnet Wolseley’s attempted relief of the besieged General ‘Chinese’ Gordon at Khartoum, Sudan, in 1884-1885.

Keywords :
Named by the Enemy: A History of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles

Date Deposited : 08 Apr 2015 10:50

Last Modified : 08 Apr 2015 10:50

Official URL: http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/arc/index-eng.asp

Volume 11, Number 1, - 2011

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