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The Adventures of Captain Bonneville by Washington Irving

Part 3 out of 7

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generally mild and pleasant, freezing a little at night but
invariably thawing with the morning's sun-resembling the spring
weather in the middle parts of the United States.

The lofty range of the Three Tetons, those great landmarks of the
Rocky Mountains rising in the east and circling away to the north
and west of the great plain of Snake River, and the mountains of
Salt River and Portneuf toward the south, catch the earliest
falls of snow. Their white robes lengthen as the winter advances,
and spread themselves far into the plain, driving the buffalo in
herds to the banks of the river in quest of food; where they are
easily slain in great numbers.

Such were the palpable advantages of this winter encampment;
added to which, it was secure from the prowlings and plunderings
of any petty band of roving Blackfeet, the difficulties of
retreat rendering it unwise for those crafty depredators to
venture an attack unless with an overpowering force.

About ten miles below the encampment lay the Banneck Indians;
numbering about one hundred and twenty lodges. They are brave and
cunning warriors and deadly foes of the Blackfeet, whom they
easily overcome in battles where their forces are equal. They are
not vengeful and enterprising in warfare, however; seldom sending
war parties to attack the Blackfeet towns, but contenting
themselves with defending their own territories and house. About
one third of their warriors are armed with fusees, the rest with
bows and arrows.

As soon as the spring opens they move down the right bank of
Snake River and encamp at the heads of the Boisee and Payette.
Here their horses wax fat on good pasturage, while the tribe
revels in plenty upon the flesh of deer, elk, bear, and beaver.
They then descend a little further, and are met by the Lower Nez
Perces, with whom they trade for horses; giving in exchange
beaver, buffalo, and buffalo robes. Hence they strike upon the
tributary streams on the left bank of Snake River, and encamp at
the rise of the Portneuf and Blackfoot streams, in the buffalo
range. Their horses, although of the Nez Perce breed, are
inferior to the parent stock from being ridden at too early an
age, being often bought when but two years old and immediately
put to hard work. They have fewer horses, also, than most of
these migratory tribes.

At the time that Captain Bonneville came into the neighborhood of
these Indians, they were all in mourning for their chief,
surnamed The Horse. This chief was said to possess a charmed
life, or rather, to be invulnerable to lead; no bullet having
ever hit him, though he had been in repeated battles, and often
shot at by the surest marksmen. He had shown great magnanimity in
his intercourse with the white men. One of the great men of his
family had been slain in an attack upon a band of trappers
passing through the territories of his tribe. Vengeance had been
sworn by the Bannecks; but The Horse interfered, declaring
himself the friend of white men and, having great influence and
authority among his people, he compelled them to forcgo all
vindictive plans and to conduct themselves amicably whenever they
came in contact with the traders.

This chief had bravely fallen in resisting an attack made by the
Blackfeet upon his tribe, while encamped at the head of Godin
River. His fall in nowise lessened the faith of his people in his
charmed life; for they declared that it was not a bullet which
laid him low, but a bit of horn which had been shot into him by
some Blackfoot marksman aware, no doubt, of the inefficacy of
lead. Since his death there was no one with sufficient influence
over the tribe to restrain the wild and predatory propensities of
the young men. The consequence was they had become troublesome
and dangerous neighbors, openly friendly for the sake of traffic,
but disposed to commit secret depredations and to molest any
small party that might fall within their reach.


Misadventures of Matthieu and his party Return to the caches at
Salmon River Battle between Nez Perces and Black feet Heroism
of a Nez Perce woman Enrolled among the braves.

ON the 3d of February, Matthieu, with the residue of his band,
arrived in camp. He had a disastrous story to relate. After
parting with Captain Bonneville in Green River Valley he had
proceeded to the westward, keeping to the north of the Eutaw
Mountains, a spur of the great Rocky chain. Here he experienced
the most rugged travelling for his horses, and soon discovered
that there was but little chance of meeting the Shoshonie bands.
He now proceeded along Bear River, a stream much frequented by
trappers, intending to shape his course to Salmon River to rejoin
Captain Bonneville.

He was misled, however, either through the ignorance or treachery
of an Indian guide, and conducted into a wild valley where he lay
encamped during the autumn and the early part of the winter,
nearly buried in snow and almost starved. Early in the season he
detached five men, with nine horses, to proceed to the
neighborhood of the Sheep Rock, on Bear River, where game was
plenty, and there to procure a supply for the camp.

They had not proceeded far on their expedition when their trail
was discovered by a party of nine or ten Indians, who immediately
commenced a lurking pursuit, dogging them secretly for five or
six days. So long as their encampments were well chosen and a
proper watch maintained the wary savages kept aloof; at length,
observing that they were badly encamped, in a situation where
they might be approached with secrecy, the enemy crept stealthily
along under cover of the river bank, preparing to burst suddenly
upon their prey.

They had not advanced within striking distance, however, before
they were discovered by one of the trappers. He immediately but
silently gave the alarm to his companions. They all sprang upon
their horses and prepared to retreat to a safe position. One of
the party, however, named Jennings, doubted the correctness of
the alarm, and before he mounted his horse wanted to ascertain
the fact. His companions urged him to mount, but in vain; he was
incredulous and obstinate. A volley of firearms by the savages
dispelled his doubts, but so overpowered his nerves that he was
unable to get into his saddle. His comrades, seeing his peril and
confusion, generously leaped from their horses to protect him. A
shot from a rifle brought him to the earth; in his agony he
called upon the others not to desert him. Two of them, Le Roy and
Ross, after fighting desperately, were captured by the savages;
the remaining two vaulted into their saddles and saved themselves
by headlong flight, being pursued for nearly thirty miles. They
got safe back to Matthieu's camp, where their story inspired such
dread of lurking Indians that the hunters could not be prevailed
upon to undertake another foray in quest of provisions. They
remained, therefore, almost starving in their camp; now and then
killing an old or disabled horse for food, while the elk and the
mountain sheep roamed unmolested among the surrounding mountains.

The disastrous surprisal of this hunting party is cited by
Captain Bonneville to show the importance of vigilant watching
and judicious encampments in the Indian country. Most of this
kind of disasters to traders and trappers arise from some
careless inattention to the state of their arms and ammunition,
the placing of their horses at night, the position of their
camping ground, and the posting of their night watches. The
Indian is a vigilant and crafty foe, by no means given to
hair-brained assaults; he seldom attacks when he finds his foe
well prepared and on the alert. Caution is at least as
efficacious a protection against him as courage.

The Indians who made this attack were at first supposed to be
Blackfeet; until Captain Bonneville found subsequently, in the
camp of the Bannecks, a horse, saddle, and bridle, which he
recognized as having belonged to one of the hunters. The
Bannecks, however, stoutly denied having taken these spoils in
fight, and persisted in affirming that the outrage had been
perpetrated by a Blackfoot band.

Captain Bonneville remained on Snake River nearly three weeks
after the arrival of Matthieu and his party. At length his horses
having recovered strength sufficient for a journey, he prepared
to return to the Nez Perces, or rather to visit his caches on
Salmon River; that he might take thence goods and equipments for
the opening season. Accordingly, leaving sixteen men at Snake
River, he set out on the 19th of February with sixteen others on
his journey to the caches.

Fording the river, he proceeded to the borders of the deep snow,
when he encamped under the lee of immense piles of burned rock.
On the 21st he was again floundering through the snow, on the
great Snake River plain, where it lay to the depth of thirty
inches. It was sufficiently incrusted to bear a pedestrian, but
the poor horses broke through the crust, and plunged and strained
at every step. So lacerated were they by the ice that it was
necessary to change the front every hundred yards, and put a
different one in advance to break the way. The open prairies were
swept by a piercing and biting wind froIn the northwest. At
night, they had to task their ingenuity to provide shelter and
keep from freezing. In the first place, they dug deep holes in
the snow, piling it up in ramparts to windward as a protection
against the blast. Beneath these they spread buffalo skins, upon
which they stretched themselves in full dress, with caps, cloaks,
and moccasins, and covered themselves with numerous blankets;
notwithstanding all which they were often severely pinched with
the cold.

On the 28th of February they arrived on the banks of Godin River.
This stream emerges from the mountains opposite an eastern branch
of the Malade River, running southeast, forms a deep and swift
current about twenty yards wide, passing rapidly through a defile
to which it gives its name, and then enters the great plain
where, after meandering about forty miles, it is finally lost in
the region of the Burned Rocks.

On the banks of this river Captain Bonneville was so fortunate as
to come upon a buffalo trail. Following it up, he entered the
defile, where he remained encamped for two days to allow the
hunters time to kill and dry a supply of buffalo beef. In this
sheltered defile the weather was moderate and grass was already
sprouting more than an inch in height. There was abundance, too,
of the salt weed which grows most plentiful in clayey and
gravelly barrens. It resembles pennyroyal, and derives its name
from a partial saltness. It is a nourishing food for the horses
in the winter, but they reject it the moment the young grass
affords sufficient pasturage.

On the 6th of March, having cured sufficient meat, the party
resumed their march, and moved on with comparative ease,
excepting where they had to make their way through snow-drifts
which had been piled up by the wind.

On the 11th, a small cloud of smoke was observed rising in a deep
part of the defile. An encampment was instantly formed and scouts
were sent out to reconnoitre. They returned with intelligence
that it was a hunting party of Flatheads, returning from the
buffalo range laden with meat. Captain Bonneville joined them the
next day, and persuaded them to proceed with his party a few
miles below to the caches, whither he proposed also to invite the
Nez Perces, whom he hoped to find somewhere in this neighborhood.
In fact, on the 13th, he was rejoined by that friendly tribe who,
since he separated from them on Salmon River, had likewise been
out to hunt the buffalo, but had continued to be haunted and
harassed by their old enemies the Blackfeet, who, as usual, had
contrived to carry off many of their horses.

In the course of this hunting expedition, a small band of ten
lodges separated from the main body in search of better pasturage
for their horses. About the 1st of March, the scattered parties
of Blackfoot banditti united to the number of three hundred
fighting men, and determined upon some signal blow. Proceeding to
the former camping ground of the Nez Perces, they found the
lodges deserted; upon which they hid themselves among the willows
and thickets, watching for some straggler who might guide them to
the present "whereabout" of their intended victims. As fortune
would have it Kosato, the Blackfoot renegade, was the first to
pass along, accompanied by his blood-bought bride. He was on his
way from the main body of hunters to the little band of ten
lodges. The Blackfeet knew and marked him as he passed; he was
within bowshot of their ambuscade; yet, much as they thirsted for
his blood, they forbore to launch a shaft; sparing him for the
moment that he might lead them to their prey. Secretly following
his trail, they discovered the lodges of the unfortunate Nez
Perces, and assailed them with shouts and yellings. The Nez
Perces numbered only twenty men, and but nine were armed with
fusees. They showed themselves, however, as brave and skilful in
war as they had been mild and long-suffering in peace. Their
first care was to dig holes inside of their lodges; thus
ensconced they fought desperately, laying several of the enemy
dead upon the ground; while they, though Some of them were
wounded, lost not a single warrior.

During the heat of the battle, a woman of the Nez Perces, seeing
her warrior badly wounded and unable to fight, seized his bow and
arrows, and bravely and successfully defended his person,
contributing to the safety of the whole party.

In another part of the field of action, a Nez Perce had crouched
behind the trunk of a fallen tree, and kept up a galling fire
from his covert. A Blackfoot seeing this, procured a round log,
and placing it before him as he lay prostrate, rolled it forward
toward the trunk of the tree behind which his enemy lay crouched.
It was a moment of breathless interest; whoever first showed
himself would be in danger of a shot. The Nez Perce put an end to
the suspense. The moment the logs touched he Sprang upon his feet
and discharged the contents of his fusee into the back of his
antagonist. By this time the Blackfeet had got possession of the
horses, several of their warriors lay dead on the field, and the
Nez Perces, ensconced in their lodges, seemed resolved to defend
themselves to the last gasp. It so happened that the chief of the
Blackfeet party was a renegade from the Nez Perces; unlike
Kosato, however, he had no vindictive rage against his native
tribe, but was rather disposed, now he had got the booty, to
spare all unnecessary effusion of blood. He held a long parley,
therefore, with the besieged, and finally drew off his warriors,
taking with him seventy horses. It appeared, afterward, that the
bullets of the Blackfeet had been entirely expended in the course
of the battle, so that they were obliged to make use of stones as

At the outset of the fight Kosato, the renegade, fought with fury
rather than valor, animating the others by word as well as deed.
A wound in the head from a rifle ball laid him senseless on the
earth. There his body remained when the battle was over, and the
victors were leading off the horses. His wife hung over him with
frantic lamentations. The conquerors paused and urged her to
leave the lifeless renegade, and return with them to her kindred.
She refused to listen to their solicitations, and they passed on.
As she sat watching the features of Kosato, and giving way to
passionate grief, she thought she perceived him to breathe. She
was not mistaken. The ball, which had been nearly spent before it
struck him, had stunned instead of killing him. By the ministry
of his faithful wife he gradually recovered, reviving to a
redoubled love for her, and hatred of his tribe.

As to the female who had so bravely defended her husband, she was
elevated by the tribe to a rank far above her sex, and beside
other honorable distinctions, was thenceforward permitted to take
a part in the war dances of the braves!


Opening of the caches Detachments of Cerre and Hodgkiss
Salmon River Mountains Superstition of an Indian trapper
Godin's River Preparations for trapping An alarm An
interruption A rival band Phenomena of Snake River Plain
Vast clefts and chasms Ingulfed streams Sublime scenery A
grand buffalo hunt.

CAPTAIN BONNEVILLE found his caches perfectly secure, and having
secretly opened them he selected such articles as were necessary
to equip the free trappers and to supply the inconsiderable trade
with the Indians, after which he closed them again. The free
trappers, being newly rigged out and supplied, were in high
spirits, and swaggered gayly about the camp. To compensate all
hands for past sufferings, and to give a cheerful spur to further
operations, Captain Bonneville now gave the men what, in frontier
phrase, is termed "a regular blow-out." It was a day of uncouth
gambols and frolics and rude feasting. The Indians joined in the
sports and games, and all was mirth and good-fellowship.

It was now the middle of March, and Captain Bonneville made
preparations to open the spring campaign. He had pitched upon
Malade River for his main trapping ground for the season. This
is a stream which rises among the great bed of mountains north of
the Lava Plain, and after a winding course falls into Snake
River. Previous to his departure the captain dispatched Mr.
Cerre, with a few men, to visit the Indian villages and purchase
horses; he furnished his clerk, Mr. Hodgkiss, also, with a small
stock of goods, to keep up a trade with the Indians during the
spring, for such peltries as they might collect, appointing the
caches on Salmon River as the point of rendezvous, where they
were to rejoin him on the 15th of June following.

This done he set out for Malade River, with a band of
twenty-eight men composed of hired and free trappers and Indian
hunters, together with eight squaws. Their route lay up along the
right fork of Salmon River, as it passes through the deep defile
of the mountains. They travelled very slowly, not above five
miles a day, for many of the horses were so weak that they
faltered and staggered as they walked. Pasturage, however, was
now growing plentiful. There was abundance of fresh grass, which
in some places had attained such height as to wave in the wind.
The native flocks of the wilderness, the mountain sheep, as they
are called by the trappers, were continually to be seen upon the
hills between which they passed, and a good supply of mutton was
provided by the hunters, as they were advancing toward a region
of scarcity.

In the course of his journey Captain Bonneville had occasion to
remark an instance of the many notions, and almost superstitions,
which prevail among the Indians, and among some of the white men,
with respect to the sagacity of the beaver. The Indian hunters of
his party were in the habit of exploring all the streams along
which they passed, in search of "beaver lodges," and occasionally
set their traps with some success. One of them, however, though
an experienced and skilful trapper, was invariably unsuccessful.
Astonished and mortified at such unusual bad luck, he at length
conceived the idea that there was some odor about his person of
which the beaver got scent and retreated at his approach. He
immediately set about a thorough purification. Making a rude
sweating-house on the banks of the river, he would shut himself
up until in a reeking perspiration, and then suddenly emerging,
would plunge into the river. A number of these sweatings and
plungings having, as he supposed, rendered his person perfectly
"inodorous," he resumed his trapping with renovated hope.

About the beginning of April they encamped upon Godin's River,
where they found the swamp full of "musk-rat houses." Here,
therefore, Captain Bonneville determined to remain a few days and
make his first regular attempt at trapping. That his maiden
campaign might open with spirit, he promised the Indians and free
trappers an extra price for every musk-rat they should take. All
now set to work for the next day's sport. The utmost animation
and gayety prevailed throughout the camp. Everything looked
auspicious for their spring campaign. The abundance of musk-rats
in the swamp was but an earnest of the nobler game they were to
find when they should reach the Malade River, and have a capital
beaver country all to themselves, where they might trap at their
leisure without molestation.

In the midst of their gayety a hunter came galloping into the
camp, shouting, or rather yelling, "A trail! a trail! -- lodge
poles! lodge poles!"

These were words full of meaning to a trapper's ear. They
intimated that there was some band in the neighborhood, and
probably a hunting party, as they had lodge poles for an
encampment. The hunter came up and told his story. He had
discovered a fresh trail, in which the traces made by the
dragging of lodge poles were distinctly visible. The buffalo,
too, had just been driven out of the neighborhood, which showed
that the hunters had already been on the range.

The gayety of the camp was at an end; all preparations for
musk-rat trapping were suspended, and all hands sallied forth to
examine the trail. Their worst fears were soon confirmed.
Infallible signs showed the unknown party in the advance to be
white men; doubtless, some rival band of trappers! Here was
competition when least expected; and that too by a party already
in the advance, who were driving the game before them. Captain
Bonneville had now a taste of the sudden transitions to which a
trapper's life is subject. The buoyant confidence in an
uninterrupted hunt was at an end; every countenance lowered with
gloom and disappointment.

Captain Bonneville immediately dispatched two spies to over-take
the rival party, and endeavor to learn their plans; in the
meantime, he turned his back upon the swamp and its musk-rat
houses and followed on at "long camps, which in trapper's
language is equivalent to long stages. On the 6th of April he met
his spies returning. They had kept on the trail like hounds until
they overtook the party at the south end of Godin's defile. Here
they found them comfortably encamped: twenty-two prime trappers,
all well appointed, with excellent horses in capital condition
led by Milton Sublette, and an able coadjutor named Jarvie, and
in full march for the Malade hunting ground. This was stunning
news. The Malade River was the only trapping ground within reach;
but to have to compete there with veteran trappers, perfectly at
home among the mountains, and admirably mounted, while they were
so poorly provided with horses and trappers, and had but one man
in their party acquainted with the country-it was out of the

The only hope that now remained was that the snow, which still
lay deep among the mountains of Godin's River and blocked up the
usual pass to the Malade country, might detain the other party
until Captain Bonneville's horses should get once more into good
condition in their present ample pasturage.

The rival parties now encamped together, not out of
companionship, but to keep an eye upon each other. Day after day
passed by without any possibility of getting to the Malade
country. Sublette and Jarvie endeavored to force their way across
the mountain; but the snows lay so deep as to oblige them to turn
back. In the meantime the captain's horses were daily gaining
strength, and their hoofs improving, which had been worn and
battered by mountain service. The captain, also was increasing
his stock of provisions; so that the delay was all in his favor.

To any one who merely contemplates a map of the country this
difficulty of getting from Godin to Malade River will appear
inexplicable, as the intervening mountains terminate in the great
Snake River plain, so that, apparently, it would be perfectly
easy to proceed round their bases.

Here, however, occur some of the striking phenomena of this wild
and sublime region. The great lower plain which extends to the
feet of these mountains is broken up near their bases into
crests, and ridges resembling the surges of the ocean breaking on
a rocky shore.

In a line with the mountains the plain is gashed with numerous
and dangerous chasms, from four to ten feet wide, and of great
depth. Captain Bonneville attempted to sound some of these
openings, but without any satisfactory result. A stone dropped
into one of them reverberated against the sides for apparently a
very great depth, and, by its sound, indicated the same kind of
substance with the surface, as long as the strokes could be
heard. The horse, instinctively sagacious in avoiding danger,
shrinks back in alarm from the least of these chasms, pricking up
his ears, snorting and pawing, until permitted to turn away.

We have been told by a person well acquainted with the country
that it is sometimes necessary to travel fifty and sixty miles to
get round one of these tremendous ravines. Considerable streams,
like that of Godin's River, that run with a bold, free current,
lose themselves in this plain; some of them end in swamps, others
suddenly disappear, finding, no doubt, subterranean outlets.

Opposite to these chasms Snake River makes two desperate leaps
over precipices, at a short distance from each other; one twenty,
the other forty feet in height.

The volcanic plain in question forms an area of about sixty miles
in diameter, where nothing meets the eye but a desolate and awful
waste; where no grass grows nor water runs, and where nothing is
to be seen but lava. Ranges of mountains skirt this plain, and,
in Captain Bonneville's opinion, were formerly connected, until
rent asunder by some convulsion of nature. Far to the east the
Three Tetons lift their heads sublimely, and dominate this wide
sea of lava -- one of the most striking features of a wilderness
where everything seems on a scale of stern and simple grandeur.

We look forward with impatience for some able geologist to
explore this sublime but almost unknown region.

It was not until the 25th of April that the two parties of
trappers broke up their encampments, and undertook to cross over
the southwest end of the mountain by a pass explored by their
scouts. From various points of the mountain they commanded
boundless prospects of the lava plain, stretching away in cold
and gloomy barrenness as far as the eye could reach. On the
evening of the 26th they reached the plain west of the mountain,
watered by the Malade, the Boisee, and other streams, which
comprised the contemplated trapping-ground.

The country about the Boisee (or Woody) River is extolled by
Captain Bonneville as the most enchanting he had seen in the Far
West, presenting the mingled grandeur and beauty of mountain and
plain, of bright running streams and vast grassy meadows waving
to the breeze.

We shall not follow the captain throughout his trapping campaign,
which lasted until the beginning of June, nor detail all the
manoeuvres of the rival trapping parties and their various
schemes to outwit and out-trap each other. Suffice it to say
that, after having visited and camped about various streams with
varying success, Captain Bonneville set forward early in June for
the appointed rendezvous at the caches. On the way, he treated
his party to a grand buffalo hunt. The scouts had re ported
numerous herds in a plain beyond an intervening height. There
was an immediate halt; the fleetest horses were forthwith mounted
and the party advanced to the summit of the hill. Hence they
beheld the great plain below; absolutely swarming with buffalo.
Captain Bonneville now appointed the place where he would encamp;
and toward which the hunters were to drive the game. He cautioned
the latter to advance slowly, reserving the strength and speed of
the horses until within a moderate distance of the herds.
Twenty-two horsemen descended cautiously into the plain,
conformably to these directions. ""It was a beautiful sight,"
says the captain, ""to see the runners, as they are called,
advancing in column, at a slow trot, until within two hundred and
fifty yards of the outskirts of the herd, then dashing on at full
speed until lost in the immense multitude of buffaloes scouring
the plain in every direction." All was now tumult and wild
confusion. In the meantime Captain Bonneville and the residue of
the party moved on to the appointed camping ground; thither the
most expert runners succeeded in driving numbers of buffalo,
which were killed hard by the camp, and the flesh transported
thither without difficulty. In a little while the whole camp
looked like one great slaughter-house; the carcasses were
skilfully cut up, great fires were made, scaffolds erected for
drying and jerking beef, and an ample provision was made for
future subsistence. On the 15th of June, the precise day
appointed for the rendezvous, Captain Bonneville and his party
arrived safely at the caches.

Here he was joined by the other detachments of his main party,
all in good health and spirits. The caches were again opened,
supplies of various kinds taken out, and a liberal allowance of
aqua vitae distributed throughout the camp, to celebrate with
proper conviviality this merry meeting.


Meeting with Hodgkiss Misfortunes of the Nez Perces Schemes
of Kosato, the renegado His foray into the Horse Prairie-
Invasion of Black feet Blue John and his forlorn hope Their
generous enterprise-Their fate-Consternation and despair of the
village- Solemn obsequies -Attempt at Indian trade -Hudson's Bay
Company's monopoly-Arrangements for autumn- Breaking up of an

HAVING now a pretty strong party, well armed and equipped,
Captain Bonneville no longer felt the necessity of fortifying
himself in the secret places and fastnesses of the mountains; but
sallied forth boldly into the Snake River plain, in search of his
clerk, Hodgkiss, who had remained with the Nez Perces. He found
him on the 24th of June, and learned from him another chapter of
misfortunes which had recently befallen that ill-fated race.

After the departure of Captain Bonneville in March, Kosato, the
renegade Blackfoot, had recovered from the wound received in
battle; and with his strength revived all his deadly hostility to
his native tribe. He now resumed his efforts to stir up the Nez
Perces to reprisals upon their old enemies; reminding them
incessantly of all the outrages and robberies they had recently
experienced, and assuring them that such would continue to be
their lot until they proved themselves men by some signal

The impassioned eloquence of the desperado at length produced an
effect; and a band of braves enlisted under his guidance, to
penetrate into the Blackfoot country, harass their Villages,
carry off their horses, and commit all kinds of depredations.

Kosato pushed forward on his foray as far as the Horse Prairie,
where he came upon a strong party of Blackfeet. Without waiting
to estimate their force, he attacked them with characteristic
fury, and was bravely seconded by his followers. The contest, for
a time, was hot and bloody; at length, as is customary with these
two tribes, they paused, and held a long parley, or rather a war
of words.

"What need," said the Blackfoot chief, tauntingly, "have the Nez
Perces to leave their homes, and sally forth on war parties, when
they have danger enough at their own doors? If you want fighting,
return to your villages; you will have plenty of it there. The
Blackfeet warriors have hitherto made war upon you as children.
They are now coming as men. A great force is at hand; they are on
their way to your towns, and are determined to rub out the very
name of the Nez Perces from the mountains. Return, I say, to your
towns, and fight there, if you wish to live any longer as a

Kosato took him at his word; for he knew the character of his
native tribe. Hastening back with his band to the Nez Perces
village, he told all that he had seen and heard, and urged the
most prompt and strenuous measures for defence. The Nez Perces,
however, heard him with their accustomed phlegm; the threat of
the Blackfeet had been often made, and as often had proved a mere
bravado; such they pronounced it to be at present, and, of
course, took no precautions.

They were soon convinced that it was no empty menace. In a few
days a band of three hundred Blackfeet warriors appeared upon the
hills. All now was consternation in the village. The force of
the Nez Perces was too small to cope with the enemy in open
fight; many of the young men having gone to their relatives on
the Columbia to procure horses. The sages met in hurried council.
What was to be done to ward off a blow which threatened
annihilation? In this moment of imminent peril, a Pierced-nose
chief, named Blue John by the whites, offered to approach
secretly with a small, but chosen band, through a defile which
led to the encampment of the enemy, and, by a sudden onset, to
drive off the horses. Should this blow be successful, the spirit
and strength of the invaders would be broken, and the Nez Perces,
having horses, would be more than a match for them. Should it
fail, the village would not be worse off than at present, when
destruction appeared inevitable.

Twenty-nine of the choicest warriors instantly volunteered to
follow Blue John in this hazardous enterprise. They prepared for
it with the solemnity and devotion peculiar to the tribe. Blue
John consulted his medicine, or talismanic charm, such as every
chief keeps in his lodge as a supernatural protection. The oracle
assured him that his enterprise would be completely successful,
provided no rain should fall before he had passed through the
defile; but should it rain, his band would be utterly cut off.

The day was clear and bright; and Blue John anticipated that the
skies would be propitious. He departed in high spirits with his
forlorn hope; and never did band of braves make a more gallant
display-horsemen and horses being decorated and equipped in the
fiercest and most glaring style - glittering with arms and
ornaments, and fluttering with feathers.

The weather continued serene until they reached the defile; but
just as they were entering it a black cloud rose over the
mountain crest, and there was a sudden shower. The warriors
turned to their leader, as if to read his opinion of this unlucky
omen; but the countenance of Blue John remained unchanged, and
they continued to press forward. It was their hope to make their
way undiscovered to the very vicinity of the Blackfoot camp; but
they had not proceeded far in the defile, when they met a
scouting party of the enemy. They attacked and drove them among
the hills, and were pursuing them with great eagerness when they
heard shouts and yells behind them, and beheld the main body of
the Blackfeet advancing.

The second chief wavered a little at the sight and proposed an
instant retreat. "We came to fight!" replied Blue John, sternly.
Then giving his war-whoop, he sprang forward to the conflict.
His braves followed him. They made a headlong charge upon the
enemy; not with the hope of victory, but the determination to
sell their lives dearly. A frightful carnage, rather than a
regular battle, succeeded. The forlorn band laid heaps of their
enemies dead at their feet, but were overwhelmed with numbers and
pressed into a gorge of the mountain; where they continued to
fight until they were cut to pieces. One only, of the thirty,
survived. He sprang on the horse of a Blackfoot warrior whom he
had slain, and escaping at full speed, brought home the baleful
tidings to his village.

Who can paint the horror and desolation of the inhabitants? The
flower of their warriors laid low, and a ferocious enemy at their
doors. The air was rent by the shrieks and lamentations of the
women, who, casting off their ornaments and tearing their hair,
wandered about, frantically bewailing the dead and predicting
destruction to the living. The remaining warriors armed
themselves for obstinate defence; but showed by their gloomy
looks and sullen silence that they considered defence hopeless.
To their surprise the Blackfeet refrained from pursuing their
advantage; perhaps satisfied with the blood already shed, or
disheartened by the loss they had themselves sustained. At any
rate, they disappeared from the hills, and it was soon
ascertained that they had returned to the Horse Prairie.

The unfortunate Nez Perces now began once more to breathe. A few
of their warriors, taking pack-horses, repaired to the defile to
bring away the bodies of their slaughtered brethren. They found
them mere headless trunks; and the wounds with which they were
covered showed how bravely they had fought. Their hearts, too,
had been torn out and carried off; a proof of their signal valor;
for in devouring the heart of a foe renowned for bravery, or who
has distinguished himself in battle, the Indian victor thinks he
appropriates to himself the courage of the deceased.

Gathering the mangled bodies of the slain, and strapping them
across their pack-horses, the warriors returned, in dismal
procession, to the village. The tribe came forth to meet them;
the women with piercing cries and wailings; the men with downcast
countenances, in which gloom and sorrow seemed fixed as if in
marble. The mutilated and almost undistinguishable bodies were
placed in rows upon the ground, in the midst of the assemblage;
and the scene of heart-rending anguish and lamentation that
ensued would have confounded those who insist on Indian stoicism.

Such was the disastrous event that had overwhelmed the Nez Perces
tribe during the absence of Captain Bonneville; and he was
informed that Kosato, the renegade, who, being stationed in the
village, had been prevented from going on the forlorn hope, was
again striving to rouse the vindictive feelings of his adopted
brethren, and to prompt them to revenge the slaughter of their
devoted braves.

During his sojourn on the Snake River plain, Captain Bonneville
made one of his first essays at the strategy of the fur trade.
There was at this time an assemblage of Nez Perces, Flatheads,
and Cottonois Indians encamped together upon the plain; well
provided with beaver, which they had collected during the spring.
These they were waiting to traffic with a resident trader of the
Hudson's Bay Company, who was stationed among them, and with whom
they were accustomed to deal. As it happened, the trader was
almost entirely destitute of Indian goods; his spring supply not
having yet reached him. Captain Bonneville had secret
intelligence that the supplies were on their way, and would soon
arrive; he hoped, how-ever, by a prompt move, to anticipate their
arrival, and secure the market to himself. Throwing himself,
therefore, among the Indians, he opened his packs of merchandise
and displayed the most tempting wares: bright cloths, and scarlet
blankets, and glittering ornaments, and everything gay and
glorious in the eyes of warrior or squaw; all, however, was in
vain. The Hudson's Bay trader was a perfect master of his
business, thoroughly acquainted with the Indians he had to deal
with, and held such control over them that none dared to act
openly in opposition to his wishes; nay, more -- he came nigh
turning the tables upon the captain, and shaking the allegiance
of some of his free trappers, by distributing liquors among them.
The latter, therefore, was glad to give up a competition, where
the war was likely to be carried into his own camp.

In fact, the traders of the Hudson's Bay Company have advantages
over all competitors in the trade beyond the Rocky Mountains.
That huge monopoly centers within itself not merely its own
hereditary and long-established power and influence; but also
those of its ancient rival, but now integral part, the famous
Northwest Company. It has thus its races of traders, trappers,
hunters, and voyageurs, born and brought up in its service, and
inheriting from preceding generations a knowledge and aptitude in
everything connected with Indian life, and Indian traffic. In the
process of years, this company has been enabled to spread its
ramifications in every direction; its system of intercourse is
founded upon a long and intimate knowledge of the character and
necessities of the various tribes; and of all the fastnesses,
defiles, and favorable hunting grounds of the country. Their
capital, also, and the manner in which their supplies are
distributed at various posts, or forwarded by regular caravans,
keep their traders well supplied, and enable them to furnish
their goods to the Indians at a cheap rate. Their men, too, being
chiefly drawn from the Canadas, where they enjoy great influence
and control, are engaged at the most trifling wages, and
supported at little cost; the provisions which they take with
them being little more than Indian corn and grease. They are
brought also into the most perfect discipline and subordination,
especially when their leaders have once got them to their scene
of action in the heart of the wilderness.

These circumstances combine to give the leaders of the Hudson's
Bay Company a decided advantage over all the American companies
that come within their range, so that any close competition with
them is almost hopeless.

Shortly after Captain Bonneville's ineffectual attempt to
participate in the trade of the associated camp, the supplies of
the Hudson's Bay Company arrived; and the resident trader was
enabled to monopolize the market.

It was now the beginning of July; in the latter part of which
month Captain Bonneville had appointed a rendezvous at Horse
Creek in Green River Valley, with some of the parties which he
had detached in the preceding year. He now turned his thoughts
in that direction, and prepared for the journey.

The Cottonois were anxious for him to proceed at once to their
country; which, they assured him, abounded in beaver. The lands
of this tribe lie immediately north of those of the Flatheads and
are open to the inroads of the Blackfeet. It is true, the latter
professed to be their allies; but they had been guilty of so many
acts of perfidy, that the Cottonois had, latterly, renounced
their hollow friendship and attached themselves to the Flatheads
and Nez Perces. These they had accompanied in their migrations
rather than remain alone at home, exposed to the outrages of the
Blackfeet. They were now apprehensive that these marauders would
range their country during their absence and destroy the beaver;
this was their reason for urging Captain Bonneville to make it
his autumnal hunting ground. The latter, however, was not to be
tempted; his engagements required his presence at the rendezvous
in Green River Valley; and he had already formed his ulterior

An unexpected difficulty now arose. The free trappers suddenly
made a stand, and declined to accompany him. It was a long and
weary journey; the route lay through Pierre's Hole, and other
mountain passes infested by the Blackfeet, and recently the
scenes of sanguinary conflicts. They were not disposed to
undertake such unnecessary toils and dangers, when they had good
and secure trapping grounds nearer at hand, on the head-waters of
Salmon River.

As these were free and independent fellows, whose will and whim
were apt to be law -- who had the whole wilderness before them,
"where to choose," and the trader of a rival company at hand,
ready to pay for their services -- it was necessary to bend to
their wishes. Captain Bonneville fitted them out, therefore, for
the hunting ground in question; appointing Mr. Hodgkiss to act as
their partisan, or leader, and fixing a rendezvous where he
should meet them in the course of the ensuing winter. The brigade
consisted of twenty-one free trappers and four or five hired men
as camp-keepers. This was not the exact arrangement of a trapping
party; which when accurately organized is composed of two thirds
trappers whose duty leads them continually abroad in pursuit of
game; and one third camp-keepers who cook, pack, and unpack; set
up the tents, take care of the horses and do all other duties
usually assigned by the Indians to their women. This part of the
service is apt to be fulfilled by French creoles from Canada and
the valley of the Mississippi.

In the meantime the associated Indians having completed their
trade and received their supplies, were all ready to disperse in
various directions. As there was a formidable band of Blackfeet
just over a mountain to the northeast, by which Hodgkiss and his
free trappers would have to pass; and as it was known that those
sharp-sighted marauders had their scouts out watching every
movement of the encampments, so as to cut off stragglers or weak
detachments, Captain Bonneville prevailed upon the Nez Perces to
accompany Hodgkiss and his party until they should be beyond the
range of the enemy.

The Cottonois and the Pends Oreilles determined to move together
at the same time, and to pass close under the mountain infested
by the Blackfeet; while Captain Bonneville, with his party, was
to strike in an opposite direction to the southeast, bending his
course for Pierre's Hole, on his way to Green River.

Accordingly, on the 6th of July, all the camps were raised at the
same moment; each party taking its separate route. The scene was
wild and picturesque; the long line of traders, trappers, and
Indians, with their rugged and fantastic dresses and
accoutrements; their varied weapons, their innumerable horses,
some under the saddle, some burdened with packages, others
following in droves; all stretching in lengthening cavalcades
across the vast landscape, making for different points of the
plains and mountains.


Precautions in dangerous defiles Trappers' mode of defence on a
prairie A mysterious visitor Arrival in Green River Valley
Adventures of the detachments The forlorn partisan His tale
of disasters.

AS the route of Captain Bonneville lay through what was
considered the most perilous part of this region of dangers, he
took all his measures with military skill, and observed the
strictest circumspection. When on the march, a small scouting
party was thrown in the advance to reconnoitre the country
through which they were to pass. The encampments were selected
with great care, and a watch was kept up night and day. The
horses were brought in and picketed at night, and at daybreak a
party was sent out to scour the neighborhood for half a mile
round, beating up every grove and thicket that could give shelter
to a lurking foe. When all was reported safe, the horses were
cast loose and turned out to graze. Were such precautions
generally observed by traders and hunters, we should not so often
hear of parties being surprised by the Indians.

Having stated the military arrangements of the captain, we may
here mention a mode of defence on the open prairie, which we have
heard from a veteran in the Indian trade. When a party of
trappers is on a journey with a convoy of goods or peltries,
every man has three pack-horses under his care; each horse laden
with three packs. Every man is provided with a picket with an
iron head, a mallet, and hobbles, or leathern fetters for the
horses. The trappers proceed across the prairie in a long line;
or sometimes three parallel lines, sufficiently distant from each
other to prevent the packs from interfering. At an alarm, when
there is no covert at hand, the line wheels so as to bring the
front to the rear and form a circle. All then dismount, drive
their pickets into the ground in the centre, fasten the horses to
them, and hobble their forelegs, so that, in case of alarm, they
cannot break away. Then they unload them, and dispose of their
packs as breastworks on the periphery of the circle; each man
having nine packs behind which to shelter himself. In this
promptly-formed fortress, they await the assault of the enemy,
and are enabled to set large bands of Indians at defiance.

The first night of his march, Captain Bonneville encamped upon
Henry's Fork; an upper branch of Snake River, called after the
first American trader that erected a fort beyond the mountains.
About an hour after all hands had come to a halt the clatter of
hoofs was heard, and a solitary female, of the Nez Perce tribe,
came galloping up. She was mounted on a mustang or half wild
horse, which she managed by a long rope hitched round the under
jaw by way of bridle. Dismounting, she walked silently into the
midst of the camp, and there seated herself on the ground, still
holding her horse by the long halter.

The sudden and lonely apparition of this woman, and her calm yet
resolute demeanor, awakened universal curiosity. The hunters and
trappers gathered round, and gazed on her as something
mysterious. She remained silent, but maintained her air of
calmness and self-possession. Captain Bonneville approached and
interrogated her as to the object of her mysterious visit. Her
answer was brief but earnest -- "I love the whites -- I will go
with them." She was forthwith invited to a lodge, of which she
readily took possession, and from that time forward was
considered one of the camp.

In consequence, very probably, of the military precautions of
Captain Bonneville, he conducted his party in safety through this
hazardous region. No accident of a disastrous kind occurred,
excepting the loss of a horse, which, in passing along the giddy
edge of a precipice, called the Cornice, a dangerous pass between
Jackson's and Pierre's Hole, fell over the brink, and was dashed
to pieces.

On the 13th of July (1833), Captain Bonneville arrived at Green
River. As he entered the valley, he beheld it strewed in every
direction with the carcasses of buffaloes. It was evident that
Indians had recently been there, and in great numbers. Alarmed at
this sight, he came to a halt, and as soon as it was dark, sent
out spies to his place of rendezvous on Horse Creek, where he had
expected to meet with his detached parties of trappers on the
following day. Early in the morning the spies made their
appearance in the camp, and with them came three trappers of one
of his bands, from the rendezvous, who told him his people were
all there expecting him. As to the slaughter among the buffaloes,
it had been made by a friendly band of Shoshonies, who had fallen
in with one of his trapping parties, and accompanied them to the
rendezvous. Having imparted this intelligence, the three worthies
from the rendezvous broached a small keg of "alcohol," which they
had brought with them. to enliven this merry meeting. The liquor
went briskly round; all absent friends were toasted, and the
party moved forward to the rendezvous in high spirits.

The meeting of associated bands, who have been separated from
each other on these hazardous enterprises, is always interesting;
each having its tales of perils and adventures to relate. Such
was the case with the various detachments of Captain Bonneville's
company, thus brought together on Horse Creek. Here was the
detachment of fifty men which he had sent from Salmon River, in
the preceding month of November, to winter on Snake River. They
had met with many crosses and losses in the course of their
spring hunt, not so much from Indians as from white men. They
had come in competition with rival trapping parties, particularly
one belonging to the Rocky Mountain Fur Company; and they had
long stories to relate of their manoeuvres to forestall or
distress each other. In fact, in these virulent and sordid
competitions, the trappers of each party were more intent upon
injuring their rivals, than benefitting themselves; breaking each
other's traps, trampling and tearing to pieces the beaver lodges,
and doing every thing in their power to mar the success of the
hunt. We forbear to detail these pitiful contentions.

The most lamentable tale of disasters, however, that Captain
Bonneville had to hear, was from a partisan, whom he had detached
in the preceding year, with twenty men, to hunt through the
outskirts of the Crow country, and on the tributary streams of
the Yellowstone; whence he was to proceed and join him in his
winter quarters on Salmon River. This partisan appeared at the
rendezvous without his party, and a sorrowful tale of disasters
had he to relate. In hunting the Crow country, he fell in with a
village of that tribe; notorious rogues, jockeys, and horse
stealers, and errant scamperers of the mountains. These decoyed
most of his men to desert, and carry off horses, traps, and
accoutrements. When he attempted to retake the deserters, the
Crow warriors ruffled up to him and declared the deserters were
their good friends, had determined to remain among them, and
should not be molested. The poor partisan, therefore, was fain to
leave his vagabonds among these birds of their own feather, and
being too weak in numbers to attempt the dangerous pass across
the mountains to meet Captain Bonneville on Salmon River, he
made, with the few that remained faithful to him, for the
neighborhood of Tullock's Fort, on the Yellowstone, under the
protection of which he went into winter quarters.

He soon found out that the neighborhood of the fort was nearly as
bad as the neighborhood of the Crows. His men were continually
stealing away thither, with whatever beaver skins they could
secrete or lay their hands on. These they would exchange with the
hangers-on of the fort for whiskey, and then revel in drunkeness
and debauchery.

The unlucky partisan made another move. Associating with his
party a few free trappers, whom he met with in this neighborhood,
he started off early in the spring to trap on the head waters of
Powder River. In the course of the journey, his horses were so
much jaded in traversing a steep mountain, that he was induced to
turn them loose to graze during the night. The place was lonely;
the path was rugged; there was not the sign of an Indian in the
neighborhood; not a blade of grass that had been turned by a
footstep. But who can calculate on security in the midst of the
Indian country, where the foe lurks in silence and secrecy, and
seems to come and go on the wings of the wind? The horses had
scarce been turned loose, when a couple of Arickara (or Rickaree)
warriors entered the camp. They affected a frank and friendly
demeanor; but their appearance and movements awakened the
suspicions of some of the veteran trappers, well versed in Indian
wiles. Convinced that they were spies sent on some sinister
errand, they took them in custody, and set to work to drive in
the horses. It was too late -- the horses were already gone. In
fact, a war party of Arickaras had been hovering on their trail
for several days, watching with the patience and perseverance of
Indians, for some moment of negligence and fancied security, to
make a successful swoop. The two spies had evidently been sent
into the camp to create a diversion, while their confederates
carried off the spoil.

The unlucky partisan, thus robbed of his horses, turned furiously
on his prisoners, ordered them to be bound hand and foot, and
swore to put them to death unless his property were restored. The
robbers, who soon found that their spies were in captivity, now
made their appearance on horseback, and held a parley. The sight
of them, mounted on the very horses they had stolen, set the
blood of the mountaineers in a ferment; but it was useless to
attack them, as they would have but to turn their steeds and
scamper out of the reach of pedestrians. A negotiation was now
attempted. The Arickaras offered what they considered fair terms;
to barter one horse, or even two horses, for a prisoner. The
mountaineers spurned at their offer, and declared that, unless
all the horses were relinquished, the prisoners should be burnt
to death. To give force to their threat, a pyre of logs and
fagots was heaped up and kindled into a blaze.

The parley continued; the Arickaras released one horse and then
another, in earnest of their proposition; finding, however, that
nothing short of the relinquishment of all their spoils would
purchase the lives of the captives, they abandoned them to their
fate, moving off with many parting words and lamentable howlings.
The prisoners seeing them depart, and knowing the horrible fate
that awaited them, made a desperate effort to escape. They
partially succeeded, but were severely wounded and retaken; then
dragged to the blazing pyre, and burnt to death in the sight of
their retreating comrades.

Such are the savage cruelties that white men learn to practise,
who mingle in savage life; and such are the acts that lead to
terrible recrimination on the part of the Indians. Should we hear
of any atrocities committed by the Arickaras upon captive white
men, let this signal and recent provocation be borne in mind.
Individual cases of the kind dwell in the recollections of whole
tribes; and it is a point of honor and conscience to revenge

The loss of his horses completed the ruin of the unlucky
partisan. It was out of his power to prosecute his hunting, or to
maintain his party; the only thought now was how to get back to
civilized life. At the first water-course, his men built canoes,
and committed themselves to the stream. Some engaged themselves
at various trading establishments at which they touched, others
got back to the settlements. As to the partisan, he found an
opportunity to make his way to the rendezvous at Green River
Valley; which he reached in time to render to Captain Bonneville
this forlorn account of his misadventures.


Gathering in Green River valley Visitings and feastings of
leaders Rough wassailing among the trappers Wild blades of the
mountains Indian belles Potency of bright beads and red blankets
Arrival of supplies Revelry and extravagance Mad wolves The lost

THE GREEN RIVER VALLEY was at this time the scene of one of those
general gatherings of traders, trappers, and Indians, that we
have already mentioned. The three rival companies, which, for a
year past had been endeavoring to out-trade, out-trap and out-wit
each other, were here encamped in close proximity, awaiting their
annual supplies. About four miles from the rendezvous of Captain
Bonneville was that of the American Fur Company, hard by which,
was that also of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company.

After the eager rivalry and almost hostility displayed by these
companies in their late campaigns, it might be expected that,
when thus brought in juxtaposition, they would hold themselves
warily and sternly aloof from each other, and, should they happen
to come in contact, brawl and bloodshed would ensue.

No such thing! Never did rival lawyers, after a wrangle at the
bar, meet with more social good humor at a circuit dinner. The
hunting season over, all past tricks and maneuvres are forgotten,
all feuds and bickerings buried in oblivion. From the middle of
June to the middle of September, all trapping is suspended; for
the beavers are then shedding their furs and their skins are of
little value. This, then, is the trapper's holiday, when he is
all for fun and frolic, and ready for a saturnalia among the

At the present season, too, all parties were in good humor. The
year had been productive. Competition, by threatening to lessen
their profits, had quickened their wits, roused their energies,
and made them turn every favorable chance to the best advantage;
so that, on assembling at their respective places of rendezvous,
each company found itself in possession of a rich stock of

The leaders of the different companies, therefore, mingled on
terms of perfect good fellowship; interchanging visits, and
regaling each other in the best style their respective camps
afforded. But the rich treat for the worthy captain was to see
the "chivalry" of the various encampments, engaged in contests of
skill at running, jumping, wrestling, shooting with the rifle,
and running horses. And then their rough hunters' feastings and
carousels. They drank together, they sang, they laughed, they
whooped; they tried to out-brag and out-lie each other in stories
of their adventures and achievements. Here the free trappers were
in all their glory; they considered themselves the "cocks of the
walk," and always carried the highest crests. Now and then
familiarity was pushed too far, and would effervesce into a
brawl, and a "rough and tumble" fight; but it all ended in
cordial reconciliation and maudlin endearment.

The presence of the Shoshonie tribe contributed occasionally to
cause temporary jealousies and feuds. The Shoshonie beauties
became objects of rivalry among some of the amorous mountaineers.
Happy was the trapper who could muster up a red blanket, a string
of gay beads, or a paper of precious vermilion, with which to win
the smiles of a Shoshonie fair one.

The caravans of supplies arrived at the valley just at this
period of gallantry and good fellowship. Now commenced a scene of
eager competition and wild prodigality at the different
encampments. Bales were hastily ripped open, and their motley
contents poured forth. A mania for purchasing spread itself
throughout the several bands--munitions for war, for hunting, for
gallantry, were seized upon with equal avidity--rifles, hunting
knives, traps, scarlet cloth, red blankets, garish beads, and
glittering trinkets, were bought at any price, and scores run up
without any thought how they were ever to be rubbed off. The free
trappers, especially, were extravagant in their purchases. For a
free mountaineer to pause at a paltry consideration of dollars
and cents, in the attainment of any object that might strike his
fancy, would stamp him with the mark of the beast in the
estimation of his comrades. For a trader to refuse one of these
free and flourishing blades a credit, whatever unpaid scores
might stare him in the face, would be a flagrant affront scarcely
to be forgiven.

Now succeeded another outbreak of revelry and extravagance. The
trappers were newly fitted out and arrayed, and dashed about with
their horses caparisoned in Indian style. The Shoshonie beauties
also flaunted about in all the colors of the rainbow. Every freak
of prodigality was indulged to its fullest extent, and in a
little while most of the trappers, having squandered away all
their wages, and perhaps run knee-deep in debt, were ready for
another hard campaign in the wilderness.

During this season of folly and frolic, there was an alarm of mad
wolves in the two lower camps. One or more of these animals
entered the camps for three nights successively, and bit several
of the people.

Captain Bonneville relates the case of an Indian, who was a
universal favorite in the lower camp. He had been bitten by one
of these animals. Being out with a party shortly afterwards, he
grew silent and gloomy, and lagged behind the rest as if he
wished to leave them. They halted and urged him to move faster,
but he entreated them not to approach him, and, leaping from his
horse, began to roll frantically on the earth, gnashing his teeth
and foaming at the mouth. Still he retained his senses, and
warned his companions not to come near him, as he should not be
able to restrain himself from biting them. They hurried off to
obtain relief; but on their return he was nowhere to be found.
His horse and his accoutrements remained upon the spot. Three or
four days afterwards a solitary Indian, believed to be the same,
was observed crossing a valley, and pursued; but he darted away
into the fastnesses of the mountains, and was seen no more.

Another instance we have from a different person who was present
in the encampment. One of the men of the Rocky Mountain Fur
Company had been bitten. He set out shortly afterwards in company
with two white men on his return to the settlements. In the
course of a few days he showed symptoms of hydrophobia, and
became raving toward night. At length, breaking away from his
companions, he rushed into a thicket of willows, where they left
him to his fate!


Schemes of Captain Bonneville The Great Salt Lake Expedition to
explore it Preparations for a journey to the Bighorn

CAPTAIN BONNEVILLE now found himself at the head of a hardy,
well-seasoned and well-appointed company of trappers, all
benefited by at least one year's experience among the mountains,
and capable of protecting themselves from Indian wiles and
stratagems, and of providing for their subsistence wherever game
was to be found. He had, also, an excellent troop of horses, in
prime condition, and fit for hard service. He determined,
therefore, to strike out into some of the bolder parts of his
scheme. One of these was to carry his expeditions into some of
the unknown tracts of the Far West, beyond what is generally
termed the buffalo range. This would have something of the merit
and charm of discovery, so dear to every brave and adventurous
spirit. Another favorite project was to establish a trading post
on the lower part of the Columbia River, near the Multnomah
valley, and to endeavor to retrieve for his country some of the
lost trade of Astoria.

The first of the above mentioned views was, at present, uppermost
in his mind--the exploring of unknown regions. Among the grand
features of the wilderness about which he was roaming, one had
made a vivid impression on his mind, and been clothed by his
imagination with vague and ideal charms. This is a great lake of
salt water, laving the feet of the mountains, but extending far
to the west-southwest, into one of those vast and elevated
plateaus of land, which range high above the level of the

Captain Bonneville gives a striking account of the lake when seen
from the land. As you ascend the mountains about its shores, says
he, you behold this immense body of water spreading itself before
you, and stretching further and further, in one wide and
far-reaching expanse, until the eye, wearied with continued and
strained attention, rests in the blue dimness of distance, upon
lofty ranges of mountains, confidently asserted to rise from the
bosom of the waters. Nearer to you, the smooth and unruffled
surface is studded with little islands, where the mountain sheep
roam in considerable numbers. What extent of lowland may be
encompassed by the high peaks beyond, must remain for the present
matter of mere conjecture though from the form of the summits,
and the breaks which may be discovered among them, there can be
little doubt that they are the sources of streams calculated to
water large tracts, which are probably concealed from view by the
rotundity of the lake's surface. At some future day, in all
probability, the rich harvest of beaver fur, which may be
reasonably anticipated in such a spot, will tempt adventurers to
reduce all this doubtful region to the palpable certainty of a
beaten track. At present, however, destitute of the means of
making boats, the trapper stands upon the shore, and gazes upon a
promised land which his feet are never to tread.

Such is the somewhat fanciful view which Captain Bonneville gives
to this great body of water. He has evidently taken part of his
ideas concerning it from the representations of others, who have
somewhat exaggerated its features. It is reported to be about one
hundred and fifty miles long, and fifty miles broad. The ranges
of mountain peaks which Captain Bonneville speaks of, as rising
from its bosom, are probably the summits of mountains beyond it,
which may be visible at a vast distance, when viewed from an
eminence, in the transparent atmosphere of these lofty regions.
Several large islands certainly exist in the lake; one of which
is said to be mountainous, but not by any means to the extent
required to furnish the series of peaks above mentioned.

Captain Sublette, in one of his early expeditions across the
mountains, is said to have sent four men in a skin canoe, to
explore the lake, who professed to have navigated all round it;
but to have suffered excessively from thirst, the water of the
lake being extremely salt, and there being no fresh streams
running into it.

Captain Bonneville doubts this report, or that the men
accomplished the circumnavigation, because, he says, the lake
receives several large streams from the mountains which bound it
to the east. In the spring, when the streams are swollen by rain
and by the melting of the snows, the lake rises several feet
above its ordinary level during the summer, it gradually subsides
again, leaving a sparkling zone of the finest salt upon its

The elevation of the vast plateau on which this lake is situated,
is estimated by Captain Bonneville at one and three-fourths of a
mile above the level of the ocean. The admirable purity and
transparency of the atmosphere in this region, allowing objects
to be seen, and the report of firearms to be heard, at an
astonishing distance; and its extreme dryness, causing the wheels
of wagons to fall in pieces, as instanced in former passages of
this work, are proofs of the great altitude of the Rocky Mountain
plains. That a body of salt water should exist at such a height
is cited as a singular phenomenon by Captain Bonneville, though
the salt lake of Mexico is not much inferior in elevation.

To have this lake properly explored, and all its secrets
revealed, was the grand scheme of the captain for the present
year; and while it was one in which his imagination evidently
took a leading part, he believed it would be attended with great
profit, from the numerous beaver streams with which the lake must
be fringed.

This momentous undertaking he confided to his lieutenant, Mr.
Walker, in whose experience and ability he had great confidence.
He instructed him to keep along the shores of the lake, and trap
in all the streams on his route; also to keep a journal, and
minutely to record the events of his journey, and everything
curious or interesting, making maps or charts of his route, and
of the surrounding country.

No pains nor expense were spared in fitting out the party, of
forty men, which he was to command. They had complete supplies
for a year, and were to meet Captain Bonneville in the ensuing
summer, in the valley of Bear River, the largest tributary of the
Salt Lake, which was to be his point of general rendezvous.

The next care of Captain Bonneville was to arrange for the safe
transportation of the peltries which he had collected to the
Atlantic States. Mr. Robert Campbell, the partner of Sublette,
was at this time in the rendezvous of the Rocky Mountain Fur
Company, having brought up their supplies. He was about to set
off on his return, with the peltries collected during the year,
and intended to proceed through the Crow country, to the head of
navigation on the Bighorn River, and to descend in boats down
that river, the Missouri, and the Yellowstone, to St. Louis.

Captain Bonneville determined to forward his peltries by the same
route, under the especial care of Mr. Cerre. By way of escort, he
would accompany Cerre to the point of embarkation, and then make
an autumnal hunt in the Crow country.


The Crow country A Crow paradise Habits of the Crows Anecdotes of
Rose, the renegade white man His fights with the Blackfeet His
elevation His death Arapooish, the Crow chief His eagle
Adventure of Robert Campbell Honor among Crows

BEFORE WE ACCOMPANY Captain Bonneville into the Crow country, we
will impart a few facts about this wild region, and the wild
people who inhabit it. We are not aware of the precise
boundaries, if there are any, of the country claimed by the
Crows; it appears to extend from the Black Hills to the Rocky
Mountains, including a part of their lofty ranges, and embracing
many of the plains and valleys watered by the Wind River, the
Yellowstone, the Powder River, the Little Missouri, and the
Nebraska. The country varies in soil and climate; there are vast
plains of sand and clay, studded with large red sand-hills; other
parts are mountainous and picturesque; it possesses warm springs,
and coal mines, and abounds with game.

But let us give the account of the country as rendered by
Arapooish, a Crow chief, to Mr. Robert Campbell, of the Rocky
Mountain Fur Company.

"The Crow country," said he, "is a good country. The Great Spirit
has put it exactly in the right place; while you-are in it you
fare well; whenever you go out of it, whichever way you travel,
you fare worse.

"If you go to the south, you have to wander over great barren
plains; the water is warm and bad, and you meet the fever and

"To the north it is cold; the winters are long and bitter, with
no grass; you cannot keep horses there, but must travel with
dogs. What is a country without horses?

"On the Columbia they are poor and dirty, paddle about in canoes,
and eat fish. Their teeth are worn out; they are always taking
fish-bones out of their mouths. Fish is poor food.

"To the east, they dwell in villages; they live well; but they
drink the muddy water of the Missouri--that is bad. A Crow's dog
would not drink such water.

"About the forks of the Missouri is a fine country; good water;
good grass; plenty of buffalo. In summer, it is almost as good as
the Crow country; but in winter it is cold; the grass is gone;
and there is no salt weed for the horses.

"The Crow country is exactly in the right place. It has snowy
mountains and sunny plains; all kinds of climates and good things
for every season. When the summer heats scorch the prairies, you
can draw up under the mountains, where the air is sweet and cool,
the grass fresh, and the bright streams come tumbling out of the
snow-banks. There you can hunt the elk, the deer, and the
antelope, when their skins are fit for dressing; there you will
find plenty of white bears and mountain sheep.

"In the autumn, when your horses are fat and strong from the
mountain pastures, you can go down into the plains and hunt the
buffalo, or trap beaver on the streams. And when winter comes on,
you can take shelter in the woody bottoms along the rivers; there
you will find buffalo meat for yourselves, and cotton-wood bark
for your horses: or you may winter in the Wind River valley,
where there is salt weed in abundance.

"The Crow country is exactly in the right place. Everything good
is to be found there. There is no country like the Crow country."

Such is the eulogium on his country by Arapooish.

We have had repeated occasions to speak of the restless and
predatory habits of the Crows. They can muster fifteen hundred
fighting men, but their incessant wars with the Blackfeet, and
their vagabond, predatory habits, are gradually wearing them out.

In a recent work, we related the circumstance of a white man
named Rose, an outlaw, and a designing vagabond, who acted as
guide and interpreter to Mr. Hunt and his party, on their journey
across the mountains to Astoria, who came near betraying them
into the hands of the Crows, and who remained among the tribe,
marrying one of their women, and adopting their congenial habits.
A few anecdotes of the subsequent fortunes of that renegade may
not be uninteresting, especially as they are connected with the
fortunes of the tribe.

Rose was powerful in frame and fearless in spirit; and soon by
his daring deeds took his rank among the first braves of the
tribe. He aspired to command, and knew it was only to be attained
by desperate exploits. He distinguished himself in repeated
actions with Blackfeet. On one occasion, a band of those savages
had fortified themselves within a breastwork, and could not be
harmed. Rose proposed to storm the work. "Who will take the
lead?" was the demand. "I!" cried he; and putting himself at
their head, rushed forward. The first Blackfoot that opposed him
he shot down with his rifle, and, snatching up the war-club of
his victim, killed four others within the fort. The victory was
complete, and Rose returned to the Crow village covered with
glory, and bearing five Blackfoot scalps, to be erected as a
trophy before his lodge. From this time, he was known among the
Crows by the name of Che-ku-kaats, or "the man who killed five."
He became chief of the village, or rather band, and for a time
was the popular idol. His popularity soon awakened envy among the
native braves; he was a stranger, an intruder, a white man. A
party seceded from his command. Feuds and civil wars succeeded
that lasted for two or three years, until Rose, having contrived
to set his adopted brethren by the ears, left them, and went down
the Missouri in 1823. Here he fell in with one of the earliest
trapping expeditions sent by General Ashley across the mountains.
It was conducted by Smith, Fitzpatrick, and Sublette. Rose
enlisted with them as guide and interpreter. When he got them
among the Crows, he was exceedingly generous with their goods;
making presents to the braves of his adopted tribe, as became a
high-minded chief.

This, doubtless, helped to revive his popularity. In that
expedition, Smith and Fitzpatrick were robbed of their horses in
Green River valley; the place where the robbery took place still
bears the name of Horse Creek. We are not informed whether the
horses were stolen through the instigation and management of
Rose; it is not improbable, for such was the perfidy he had
intended to practice on a former occasion toward Mr. Hunt and his

The last anecdote we have of Rose is from an Indian trader. When
General Atkinson made his military expedition up the Missouri, in
1825, to protect the fur trade, he held a conference with the
Crow nation, at which Rose figured as Indian dignitary and Crow
interpreter. The military were stationed at some little distance
from the scene of the "big talk"; while the general and the
chiefs were smoking pipes and making speeches, the officers,
supposing all was friendly, left the troops, and drew near the
scene of ceremonial. Some of the more knowing Crows, perceiving
this, stole quietly to the camp, and, unobserved, contrived to
stop the touch-holes of the field-pieces with dirt. Shortly
after, a misunderstanding occurred in the conference: some of the
Indians, knowing the cannon to be useless, became insolent. A
tumult arose. In the confusion, Colonel O'Fallan snapped a pistol
in the face of a brave, and knocked him down with the butt end.
The Crows were all in a fury. A chance-medley fight was on the
point of taking place, when Rose, his natural sympathies as a
white man suddenly recurring, broke the stock of his fusee over
the head of a Crow warrior, and laid so vigorously about him with
the barrel, that he soon put the whole throng to flight. Luckily,
as no lives had been lost, this sturdy rib roasting calmed the
fury of the Crows, and the tumult ended without serious

What was the ultimate fate of this vagabond hero is not
distinctly known. Some report him to have fallen a victim to
disease, brought on by his licentious life; others assert that he
was murdered in a feud among the Crows. After all, his residence
among these savages, and the influence he acquired over them,
had, for a time, some beneficial effects. He is said, not merely
to have rendered them more formidable to the Blackfeet, but to
have opened their eyes to the policy of cultivating the
friendship of the white men.

After Rose's death, his policy continued to be cultivated, with
indifferent success, by Arapooish, the chief already mentioned,
who had been his great friend, and whose character he had
contributed to develope. This sagacious chief endeavored, on
every occasion, to restrain the predatory propensities of his
tribe when directed against the white men. "If we keep friends
with them," said he, "we have nothing to fear from the Blackfeet,
and can rule the mountains." Arapooish pretended to be a great
"medicine man", a character among the Indians which is a compound
of priest, doctor, prophet, and conjurer. He carried about with
him a tame eagle, as his "medicine" or familiar. With the white
men, he acknowledged that this was all charlatanism, but said it
was necessary, to give him weight and influence among his people.

Mr. Robert Campbell, from whom we have most of these facts, in
the course of one of his trapping expeditions, was quartered in
the village of Arapooish, and a guest in the lodge of the
chieftain. He had collected a large quantity of furs, and,
fearful of being plundered, deposited but a part in the lodge of
the chief; the rest he buried in a cache. One night, Arapooish
came into the lodge with a cloudy brow, and seated himself for a
time without saying a word. At length, turning to Campbell, "You
have more furs with you," said he, "than you have brought into my

"I have," replied Campbell.

"Where are they?"

Campbell knew the uselessness of any prevarication with an
Indian; and the importance of complete frankness. He described
the exact place where he had concealed his peltries.

" 'Tis well," replied Arapooish; "you speak straight. It is just
as you say. But your cache has been robbed. Go and see how many
skins have been taken from it."

Campbell examined the cache, and estimated his loss to be about
one hundred and fifty beaver skins.

Arapooish now summoned a meeting of the village. He bitterly
reproached his people for robbing a stranger who had confided to
their honor; and commanded that whoever had taken the skins,
should bring them back: declaring that, as Campbell was his guest
and inmate of his lodge, he would not eat nor drink until every
skin was restored to him.

The meeting broke up, and every one dispersed. Arapooish now
charged Campbell to give neither reward nor thanks to any one who
should bring in the beaver skins, but to keep count as they were

In a little while, the skins began to make their appearance, a
few at a time; they were laid down in the lodge, and those who
brought them departed without saying a word. The day passed away.
Arapooish sat in one corner of his lodge, wrapped up in his robe,
scarcely moving a muscle of his countenance. When night arrived,
he demanded if all the skins had been brought in. Above a hundred
had been given up, and Campbell expressed himself contented. Not
so the Crow chieftain. He fasted all that night, nor tasted a
drop of water. In the morning, some more skins were brought in,
and continued to come, one and two at a time, throughout the day,
until but a few were wanting to make the number complete.
Campbell was now anxious to put an end to this fasting of the old
chief, and again declared that he was perfectly satisfied.
Arapooish demanded what number of skins were yet wanting. On
being told, he whispered to some of his people, who disappeared.
After a time the number were brought in, though it was evident
they were not any of the skins that had been stolen, but others
gleaned in the village.

"Is all right now?" demanded Arapooish.

"All is right," replied Campbell.

"Good! Now bring me meat and drink!"

When they were alone together, Arapooish had a conversation with
his guest.

"When you come another time among the Crows," said he, "don't
hide your goods: trust to them and they will not wrong you. Put
your goods in the lodge of a chief, and they are sacred; hide
them in a cache, and any one who finds will steal them. My people
have now given up your goods for my sake; but there are some
foolish young men in the village, who may be disposed to be
troublesome. Don't linger, therefore, but pack your horses and be

Campbell took his advice, and made his way safely out of the Crow
country. He has ever since maintained that the Crows are not so
black as they are painted. "Trust to their honor," says he, "and
you are safe: trust to their honesty, and they will steal the
hair off your head."

Having given these few preliminary particulars, we will resume
the course of our narrative.


Departure from Green River valley Popo Agie Its course The rivers
into which it runs Scenery of the Bluffs the great Tar
Spring Volcanic tracts in the Crow country Burning Mountain of
Powder River Sulphur springs Hidden fires Colter's Hell Wind
River Campbell's party Fitzpatrick and his trappers Captain
Stewart, an amateur traveller Nathaniel Wyeth Anecdotes of his
expedition to the Far West Disaster of Campbell's party A union
of bands The Bad Pass The rapids Departure of
Fitzpatrick Embarkation of peltries Wyeth and his bull
boat Adventures of Captain Bonneville in the Bighorn
Mountains Adventures in the plain Traces of Indians Travelling
precautions Dangers of making a smoke The rendezvous

ON THE 25TH of July, Captain Bonneville struck his tents, and set
out on his route for the Bighorn, at the head of a party of
fifty-six men, including those who were to embark with Cerre.
Crossing the Green River valley, he proceeded along the south
point of the Wind River range of mountains, and soon fell upon
the track of Mr. Robert Campbell's party, which had preceded him
by a day. This he pursued, until he perceived that it led down
the banks of the Sweet Water to the southeast. As this was
different from his proposed direction, he left it; and turning to
the northeast, soon came upon the waters of the Popo Agie. This
stream takes its rise in the Wind River Mountains. Its name, like
most Indian names, is characteristic. Popo, in the Crow
language, signifies head; and Agie, river. It is the head of a
long river, extending from the south end of the Wind River
Mountains in a northeast direction, until it falls into the
Yellowstone. Its course is generally through plains, but is twice
crossed by chains of mountains; the first called the Littlehorn;
the second, the Bighorn. After it has forced its way through the
first chain, it is called the Horn River; after the second chain,
it is called the Bighorn River. Its passage through this last
chain is rough and violent; making repeated falls, and rushing
down long and furious rapids, which threaten destruction to the
navigator; though a hardy trapper is said to have shot down them
in a canoe. At the foot of these rapids, is the head of
navigation; where it was the intention of the parties to
construct boats, and embark.

Proceeding down along the Popo Agie, Captain Bonneville came
again in full view of the "Bluffs," as they are called, extending
from the base of the Wind River Mountains far away to the east,
and presenting to the eye a confusion of hills and cliffs of red
sandstone, some peaked and angular, some round, some broken into
crags and precipices, and piled up in fantastic masses; but all
naked and sterile. There appeared to be no soil favorable to
vegetation, nothing but coarse gravel; yet, over all this
isolated, barren landscape, were diffused such atmospherical
tints and hues, as to blend the whole into harmony and beauty.

In this neighborhood, the captain made search for "the great Tar
Spring," one of the wonders of the mountains; the medicinal
properties of which, he had heard extravagantly lauded by the
trappers. After a toilsome search, he found it at the foot of a
sand-bluff, a little east of the Wind River Mountains; where it
exuded in a small stream of the color and consistency of tar. The
men immediately hastened to collect a quantity of it, to use as
an ointment for the galled backs of their horses, and as a balsam
for their own pains and aches. From the description given of it,
it is evidently the bituminous oil, called petrolium or naphtha,
which forms a principal ingredient in the potent medicine called
British Oil. It is found in various parts of Europe and Asia, in
several of the West India islands, and in some places of the
United States. In the state of New York, it is called Seneca Oil,
from being found near the Seneca lake.

The Crow country has other natural curiosities, which are held in
superstitious awe by the Indians, and considered great marvels by
the trappers. Such is the Burning Mountain, on Powder River,
abounding with anthracite coal. Here the earth is hot and
cracked; in many places emitting smoke and sulphurous vapors, as
if covering concealed fires. A volcanic tract of similar
character is found on Stinking River, one of the tributaries of
the Bighorn, which takes its unhappy name from the odor derived
from sulphurous springs and streams. This last mentioned place
was first discovered by Colter, a hunter belonging to Lewis and
Clarke's exploring party, who came upon it in the course of his
lonely wanderings, and gave such an account of its gloomy
terrors, its hidden fires, smoking pits, noxious streams, and the
all-pervading "smell of brimstone," that it received, and has
ever since retained among trappers, the name of "Colter's Hell!"

Resuming his descent along the left bank of the Popo Agie,
Captain Bonneville soon reached the plains; where he found
several large streams entering from the west. Among these was
Wind River, which gives its name to the mountains among which it
takes its rise. This is one of the most important streams of the
Crow country. The river being much swollen, Captain Bonneville
halted at its mouth, and sent out scouts to look for a fording
place. While thus encamped, he beheld in the course of the
afternoon a long line of horsemen descending the slope of the
hills on the opposite side of the Popo Agie. His first idea was
that they were Indians; he soon discovered, however, that they
were white men, and, by the long line of pack-horses, ascertained
them to be the convoy of Campbell, which, having descended the
Sweet Water, was now on its way to the Horn River.

The two parties came together two or three days afterwards, on
the 4th of August, after having passed through the gap of the
Littlehorn Mountain. In company with Campbell's convoy was a
trapping party of the Rocky Mountain Company, headed by
Fitzpatrick; who, after Campbell's embarkation on the Bighorn,
was to take charge of all the horses, and proceed on a trapping
campaign. There were, moreover, two chance companions in the
rival camp. One was Captain Stewart, of the British army, a
gentleman of noble connections, who was amusing himself by a
wandering tour in the Far West; in the course of which, he had
lived in hunter's style; accompanying various bands of traders,
trappers, and Indians; and manifesting that relish for the
wilderness that belongs to men of game spirit.

The other casual inmate of Mr. Campbell's camp was Mr. Nathaniel
Wyeth; the self-same leader of the band of New England salmon
fishers, with whom we parted company in the valley of Pierre's
Hole, after the battle with the Blackfeet. A few days after that
affair, he again set out from the rendezvous in company with
Milton Sublette and his brigade of trappers. On his march, he
visited the battle ground, and penetrated to the deserted fort of
the Blackfeet in the midst of the wood. It was a dismal scene.
The fort was strewed with the mouldering bodies of the slain;
while vultures soared aloft, or sat brooding on the trees around;
and Indian dogs howled about the place, as if bewailing the death
of their masters. Wyeth travelled for a considerable distance to
the southwest, in company with Milton Sublette, when they
separated; and the former, with eleven men, the remnant of his
band, pushed on for Snake River; kept down the course of that
eventful stream; traversed the Blue Mountains, trapping beaver
occasionally by the way, and finally, after hardships of all
kinds, arrived, on the 29th of October, at Vancouver, on the
Columbia, the main factory of the Hudson's Bay Company.

He experienced hospitable treatment at the hands of the agents of
that company; but his men, heartily tired of wandering in the
wilderness, or tempted by other prospects, refused, for the most
part, to continue any longer in his service. Some set off for the
Sandwich Islands; some entered into other employ. Wyeth found,
too, that a great part of the goods he had brought with him were
unfitted for the Indian trade; in a word, his expedition,
undertaken entirely on his own resources, proved a failure. He
lost everything invested in it, but his hopes. These were as
strong as ever. He took note of every thing, therefore, that
could be of service to him in the further prosecution of his
project; collected all the information within his reach, and then
set off, accompanied by merely two men, on his return journey
across the continent. He had got thus far "by hook and by crook,"
a mode in which a New England man can make his way all over the
world, and through all kinds of difficulties, and was now bound
for Boston; in full confidence of being able to form a company
for the salmon fishery and fur trade of the Columbia.

The party of Mr. Campbell had met with a disaster in the course
of their route from the Sweet Water. Three or four of the men,
who were reconnoitering the country in advance of the main body,
were visited one night in their camp, by fifteen or twenty
Shoshonies. Considering this tribe as perfectly friendly, they
received them in the most cordial and confiding manner. In the
course of the night, the man on guard near the horses fell sound
asleep; upon which a Shoshonie shot him in the head, and nearly
killed him. The savages then made off with the horses, leaving
the rest of the party to find their way to the main body on foot.

The rival companies of Captain Bonneville and Mr. Campbell, thus
fortuitously brought together, now prosecuted their journey in
great good fellowship; forming a joint camp of about a hundred
men. The captain, however, began to entertain doubts that
Fitzpatrick and his trappers, who kept profound silence as to
their future movements, intended to hunt the same grounds which
he had selected for his autumnal campaign; which lay to the west
of the Horn River, on its tributary streams. In the course of his
march, therefore, he secretly detached a small party of trappers,
to make their way to those hunting grounds, while he continued on
with the main body; appointing a rendezvous, at the next full
moon, about the 28th of August, at a place called the Medicine

On reaching the second chain, called the Bighorn Mountains, where
the river forced its impetuous way through a precipitous defile,
with cascades and rapids, the travellers were obliged to leave
its banks, and traverse the mountains by a rugged and frightful
route, emphatically called the "Bad Pass." Descending the
opposite side, they again made for the river banks; and about the
middle of August, reached the point below the rapids where the
river becomes navigable for boats. Here Captain Bonneville
detached a second party of trappers, consisting of ten men, to
seek and join those whom he had detached while on the route;
appointing for them the same rendezvous, (at the Medicine Lodge,)
on the 28th of August.

All hands now set to work to construct "bull boats," as they are
technically called; a light, fragile kind of bark, characteristic
of the expedients and inventions of the wilderness; being formed
of buffalo skins, stretched on frames. They are sometimes, also,
called skin boats. Wyeth was the first ready; and, with his usual
promptness and hardihood, launched his frail bark, singly, on
this wild and hazardous voyage, down an almost interminable
succession of rivers, winding through countries teeming with
savage hordes. Milton Sublette, his former fellow traveller, and
his companion in the battle scenes of Pierre's Hole, took passage
in his boat. His crew consisted of two white men, and two
Indians. We shall hear further of Wyeth, and his wild voyage, in
the course of our wanderings about the Far West.

The remaining parties soon completed their several armaments.
That of Captain Bonneville was composed of three bull boats, in
which he embarked all his peltries, giving them in charge of Mr.
Cerre, with a party of thirty-six men. Mr. Campbell took command
of his own boats, and the little squadrons were soon gliding down
the bright current of the Bighorn.

The secret precautions which Captain Bonneville had taken to
throw his men first into the trapping ground west of the Bighorn,
were, probably, superfluous. It did not appear that Fitzpatrick
had intended to hunt in that direction. The moment Mr. Campbell
and his men embarked with the peltries, Fitzpatrick took charge
of all the horses, amounting to above a hundred, and struck off
to the east, to trap upon Littlehorn, Powder, and Tongue rivers.
He was accompanied by Captain Stewart, who was desirous of having
a range about the Crow country. Of the adventures they met with
in that region of vagabonds and horse stealers, we shall have
something to relate hereafter.

Captain Bonneville being now left to prosecute his trapping
campaign without rivalry, set out, on the 17th of August, for the
rendezvous at Medicine Lodge. He had but four men remaining with
him, and forty-six horses to take care of; with these he had to
make his way over mountain and plain, through a marauding,
horse-stealing region, full of peril for a numerous cavalcade so
slightly manned. He addressed himself to his difficult journey,
however, with his usual alacrity of spirit.

In the afternoon of his first day's journey, on drawing near to
the Bighorn Mountain, on the summit of which he intended to
encamp for the night, he observed, to his disquiet, a cloud of
smoke rising from its base. He came to a halt, and watched it
anxiously. It was very irregular; sometimes it would almost die
away; and then would mount up in heavy volumes. There was,
apparently, a large party encamped there; probably, some ruffian
horde of Blackfeet. At any rate, it would not do for so small a
number of men, with so numerous a cavalcade, to venture within
sight of any wandering tribe. Captain Bonneville and his
companions, therefore, avoided this dangerous neighborhood; and,
proceeding with extreme caution, reached the summit of the
mountain, apparently without being discovered. Here they found a
deserted Blackfoot fort, in which they ensconced themselves;
disposed of every thing as securely as possible, and passed the
night without molestation. Early the next morning they descended
the south side of the mountain into the great plain extending
between it and the Littlehorn range. Here they soon came upon
numerous footprints, and the carcasses of buffaloes; by which
they knew there must be Indians not far off. Captain Bonneville
now began to feel solicitude about the two small parties of
trappers which he had detached, lest the Indians should have come
upon them before they had united their forces. But he felt still
more solicitude about his own party; for it was hardly to be
expected he could traverse these naked plains undiscovered, when
Indians were abroad; and should he be discovered, his chance
would be a desperate one. Everything now depended upon the
greatest circumspection. It was dangerous to discharge a gun, or
light a fire, or make the least noise, where such quick-eared and
quick-sighted enemies were at hand. In the course of the day they
saw indubitable signs that the buffalo had been roaming there in
great numbers, and had recently been frightened away. That night
they encamped with the greatest care; and threw up a strong
breastwork for their protection.

For the two succeeding days they pressed forward rapidly, but
cautiously, across the great plain; fording the tributary streams
of the Horn River; encamping one night among thickets; the next,
on an island; meeting, repeatedly, with traces of Indians; and
now and then, in passing through a defile, experiencing alarms
that induced them to cock their rifles.

On the last day of their march hunger got the better of their
caution, and they shot a fine buffalo bull at the risk of being
betrayed by the report. They did not halt to make a meal, but
carried the meat on with them to the place of rendezvous, the
Medicine Lodge, where they arrived safely, in the evening, and
celebrated their arrival by a hearty supper.

The next morning they erected a strong pen for the horses, and a
fortress of logs for themselves; and continued to observe the
greatest caution. Their cooking was all done at mid-day, when the
fire makes no glare, and a moderate smoke cannot be perceived at
any great distance. In the morning and the evening, when the wind
is lulled, the smoke rises perpendicularly in a blue column, or
floats in light clouds above the tree-tops, and can be discovered
from afar.

In this way the little party remained for several days,
cautiously encamped, until, on the 29th of August, the two
detachments they had been expecting, arrived together at the
rendezvous. They, as usual, had their several tales of adventures
to relate to the captain, which we will furnish to the reader in
the next chapter.

Adventures of the party of ten The Balaamite mule A dead
point The mysterious elks A night attack A retreat Travelling
under an alarm A joyful meeting Adventures of the other party A
decoy elk Retreat to an island A savage dance of triumph Arrival
at Wind River

THE ADVENTURES of the detachment of ten are the first in order.
These trappers, when they separated from Captain Bonneville at
the place where the furs were embarked, proceeded to the foot of
the Bighorn Mountain, and having encamped, one of them mounted
his mule and went out to set his trap in a neighboring stream. He
had not proceeded far when his steed came to a full stop. The
trapper kicked and cudgelled, but to every blow and kick the mule
snorted and kicked up, but still refused to budge an inch. The
rider now cast his eyes warily around in search of some cause for
this demur, when, to his dismay, he discovered an Indian fort
within gunshot distance, lowering through the twilight. In a
twinkling he wheeled about; his mule now seemed as eager to get
on as himself, and in a few moments brought him, clattering with
his traps, among his comrades. He was jeered at for his alacrity
in retreating; his report was treated as a false alarm; his
brother trappers contented themselves with reconnoitring the fort
at a distance, and pronounced that it was deserted.

As night set in, the usual precaution, enjoined by Captain
Bonneville on his men, was observed. The horses were brought in
and tied, and a guard stationed over them. This done, the men
wrapped themselves in their blankets, stretched themselves before
the fire, and being fatigued with a long day's march, and gorged
with a hearty supper, were soon in a profound sleep.

The camp fires gradually died away; all was dark and silent; the
sentinel stationed to watch the horses had marched as far, and
supped as heartily as any of his companions, and while they
snored, he began to nod at his post. After a time, a low
trampling noise reached his ear. He half opened his closing eyes,
and beheld two or three elks moving about the lodges, picking,
and smelling, and grazing here and there. The sight of elk within
the purlieus of the camp caused some little surprise; but having
had his supper, he cared not for elk meat, and, suffering them to
graze about unmolested, soon relapsed into a doze.

Suddenly, before daybreak, a discharge of firearms, and a
struggle and tramp of horses, made every one start to his feet.
The first move was to secure the horses. Some were gone; others
were struggling, and kicking, and trembling, for there was a
horrible uproar of whoops, and yells, and firearms. Several
trappers stole quietly from the camp, and succeeded in driving in
the horses which had broken away; the rest were tethered still
more strongly. A breastwork was thrown up of saddles, baggage,
and camp furniture, and all hands waited anxiously for daylight.
The Indians, in the meantime, collected on a neighboring height,
kept up the most horrible clamor, in hopes of striking a panic
into the camp, or frightening off the horses. When the day
dawned, the trappers attacked them briskly and drove them to some
distance. A desultory fire was kept up for an hour, when the
Indians, seeing nothing was to be gained, gave up the contest and
retired. They proved to be a war party of Blackfeet, who, while
in search of the Crow tribe, had fallen upon the trail of Captain
Bonneville on the Popo Agie, and dogged him to the Bighorn; but
had been completely baffled by his vigilance. They had then
waylaid the present detachment, and were actually housed in
perfect silence within their fort, when the mule of the trapper
made such a dead point.

The savages went off uttering the wildest denunciations of
hostility, mingled with opprobrious terms in broken English, and
gesticulations of the most insulting kind.

In this melee, one white man was wounded, and two horses were
killed. On preparing the morning's meal, however, a number of
cups, knives, and other articles were missing, which had,
doubtless, been carried off by the fictitious elk, during the
slumber of the very sagacious sentinel.
As the Indians had gone off in the direction which the trappers
had intended to travel, the latter changed their route, and
pushed forward rapidly through the "Bad Pass," nor halted until
night; when, supposing themselves out of the reach of the enemy,
they contented themselves with tying up their horses and posting
a guard. They had scarce laid down to sleep, when a dog strayed
into the camp with a small pack of moccasons tied upon his back;
for dogs are made to carry burdens among the Indians. The
sentinel, more knowing than he of the preceding night, awoke his
companions and reported the circumstance. It was evident that
Indians were at hand. All were instantly at work; a strong pen
was soon constructed for the horses, after completing which, they
resumed their slumbers with the composure of men long inured to

In the next night, the prowling of dogs about the camp, and
various suspicious noises, showed that Indians were still
hovering about them. Hurrying on by long marches, they at length
fell upon a trail, which, with the experienced eye of veteran
woodmen, they soon discovered to be that of the party of trappers
detached by Captain Bonneville when on his march, and which they
were sent to join. They likewise ascertained from various signs,
that this party had suffered some maltreatment from the Indians.
They now pursued the trail with intense anxiety; it carried them
to the banks of the stream called the Gray Bull, and down along
its course, until they came to where it empties into the Horn
River. Here, to their great joy, they discovered the comrades of
whom they were in search, all strongly fortified, and in a state
of great watchfulness and anxiety.

We now take up the adventures of this first detachment of
trappers. These men, after parting with the main body under
Captain Bonneville, had proceeded slowly for several days up the
course of the river, trapping beaver as they went. One morning,
as they were about to visit their traps, one of the camp-keepers
pointed to a fine elk, grazing at a distance, and requested them
to shoot it. Three of the trappers started off for the purpose.
In passing a thicket, they were fired upon by some savages in
ambush, and at the same time, the pretended elk, throwing off his
hide and his horn, started forth an Indian warrior.

One of the three trappers had been brought down by the volley;
the others fled to the camp, and all hands, seizing up whatever
they could carry off, retreated to a small island in the river,
and took refuge among the willows. Here they were soon joined by
their comrade who had fallen, but who had merely been wounded in

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