Faced with opposition to the transfer of the Red River Settlement to Canadian jurisdiction in 1870, the Canadian government proposed to dispatch a military force to the area. The British government, however, recommended caution and agreed to support the expedition. British regulars would be provided on the condition that reasonable terms should be granted to the Red River settlers. The Canadian government accepted these conditions, and, on 24 March 1870, Sir James Lindsay departed for Canada to take charge of the Red River Expedition.
The force included detachments of the Royal Artillery, Engineers (373 men), officers of the 60th Rifles, and two battalions of militia from Ontario (382 men) and Quebec (389 men). Lieutenant-Colonel S.P. Jarvis, Deputy Adjutant-General of Militia District 3, and Lieutenant-Colonel Louis Casault, Deputy Adjutant-General of Militia District 7, commanded the Ontario and Quebec battalions respectively. A British staff officer, Colonel Garnet J. Wolseley, led the expeditionary force. On 12 May 1870, the Governor General stated that the expedition was not a punitive one but, rather, was dispatched "on an errand of peace."
The most direct route to the Red River Settlement from Canada was through American territory, but the U.S. government refused to grant passage to British and Canadian troops. As a consequence, the expedition faced an arduous trip north of the Great Lakes. It was accomplished relatively quickly due to the excellent planning and organization of Colonel Wolseley. Advised that his life may be in danger, Louis Riel and a few loyal followers fled the settlement as the troops approached. On 24 August 1870, the expedition arrived at Fort Garry and encountered no resistance from the local population.