Readme.it in English  home page
Readme.it in Italiano  pagina iniziale
readme.it by logo SoftwareHouse.it

Ebook in formato Kindle (mobi) - Kindle File Ebook (mobi)

Formato per Iphone, Ipad e Ebook (epub) - Ipad, Iphone and Ebook reader format (epub)

Versione ebook di Readme.it powered by Softwarehouse.it






The Adventures of Captain
Bonneville
digested from his journal by
Washington Irving

Originally published in 1837

Introductory Notice

WHILE ENGAGED in writing an account of the grand enterprise of
Astoriait was my practice to seek all kinds of oral information
connected with the subject. Nowhere did I pick up more
interesting particulars than at the table of Mr. John Jacob
Astor; whobeing the patriarch of the fur trade in the United
Stateswas accustomed to have at his board various persons of
adventurous turnsome of whom had been engaged in his own great
undertaking; otherson their own accounthad made expeditions
to the Rocky Mountains and the waters of the Columbia.

Among these personagesone who peculiarly took my fancy was
Captain Bonnevilleof the United States army; whoin a rambling
kind of enterprisehad strangely ingrafted the trapper and
hunter upon the soldier. As his expeditions and adventures will
form the leading theme of the following pagesa few biographical
particulars concerning him may not be unacceptable.

Captain Bonneville is of French parentage. His father was a
worthy old emigrantwho came to this country many years since
and took up his abode in New York. He is represented as a man not
much calculated for the sordid struggle of a money-making world
but possessed of a happy temperamenta festivity of imagination
and a simplicity of heartthat made him proof against its rubs
and trials. He was an excellent scholar; well acquainted with
Latin and Greekand fond of the modern classics. His book was
his elysium; once immersed in the pages of VoltaireCorneille
or Racineor of his favorite English authorShakespearehe
forgot the world and all its concerns. Often would he be seen in
summer weatherseated under one of the trees on the Batteryor
the portico of St. Paul's church in Broadwayhis bald head
uncoveredhis hat lying by his sidehis eyes riveted to the
page of his bookand his whole soul so engagedas to lose all
consciousness of the passing throng or the passing hour.

Captain Bonnevilleit will be foundinherited something of his
father's bonhommieand his excitable imagination; though the
latter was somewhat disciplined in early yearsby mathematical
studies. He was educated at our national Military Academy at West
Pointwhere he acquitted himself very creditably; thencehe
entered the armyin which he has ever since continued.

The nature of our military service took him to the frontier
wherefor a number of yearshe was stationed at various posts
in the Far West. Here he was brought into frequent intercourse


with Indian tradersmountain trappersand other pioneers of the
wilderness; and became so excited by their tales of wild scenes
and wild adventuresand their accounts of vast and magnificent
regions as yet unexploredthat an expedition to the Rocky
Mountains became the ardent desire of his heartand an
enterprise to explore untrodden tractsthe leading object of his
ambition.

By degrees he shaped his vague day-dream into a practical
reality. Having made himself acquainted with all the requisites
for a trading enterprise beyond the mountainshe determined to
undertake it. A leave of absenceand a sanction of his
expeditionwas obtained from the major general in chiefon his
offering to combine public utility with his private projectsand
to collect statistical information for the War Department
concerning the wild countries and wild tribes he might visit in
the course of his journeyings.

Nothing now was wanting to the darling project of the captain
but the ways and means. The expedition would require an outfit of
many thousand dollars; a staggering obstacle to a soldierwhose
capital is seldom any thing more than his sword. Full of that
buoyant hopehoweverwhich belongs to the sanguine temperament
he repaired to New-Yorkthe great focus of American enterprise
where there are always funds ready for any schemehowever
chimerical or romantic. Here he had the good fortune to meet with
a gentleman of high respectability and influencewho had been
his associate in boyhoodand who cherished a schoolfellow
friendship for him. He took a general interest in the scheme of
the captain; introduced him to commercial men of his
acquaintanceand in a little while an association was formed
and the necessary funds were raised to carry the proposed measure
into effect. One of the most efficient persons in this
association was Mr. Alfred Setonwhowhen quite a youthhad
accompanied one of the expeditions sent out by Mr. Astor to his
commercial establishments on the Columbiaand had distinguished
himself by his activity and courage at one of the interior posts.
Mr. Seton was one of the American youths who were at Astoria at
the time of its surrender to the Britishand who manifested such
grief and indignation at seeing the flag of their country hauled
down. The hope of seeing that flag once more planted on the
shores of the Columbiamay have entered into his motives for
engaging in the present enterprise.

Thus backed and providedCaptain Bonneville undertook his
expedition into the Far Westand was soon beyond the Rocky
Mountains. Year after year elapsed without his return. The term
of his leave of absence expiredyet no report was made of him at
head quarters at Washington. He was considered virtually dead or
lost and his name was stricken from the army list.

It was in the autumn of 1835 at the country seat of Mr. John
Jacob Astorat Hellgatethat I first met with Captain
Bonneville He was then just returned from a residence of upwards
of three years among the mountainsand was on his way to report
himself at head quartersin the hopes of being reinstated in the
service. From all that I could learnhis wanderings in the
wilderness though they had gratified his curiosity and his love
of adventure had not much benefited his fortunes. Like Corporal
Trim in his campaignshe had "satisfied the sentiment and that
was all. In fact, he was too much of the frank, freehearted
soldier, and had inherited too much of his father's temperament,
to make a scheming trapper, or a thrifty bargainer.


There was something in the whole appearance of the captain that
prepossessed me in his favor. He was of the middle size, well
made and well set; and a military frock of foreign cut, that had
seen service, gave him a look of compactness. His countenance was
frank, open, and engaging; well browned by the sun, and had
something of a French expression. He had a pleasant black eye, a
high forehead, and, while he kept his hat on, the look of a man
in the jocund prime of his days; but the moment his head was
uncovered, a bald crown gained him credit for a few more years
than he was really entitled to.

Being extremely curious, at the time, about every thing connected
with the Far West, I addressed numerous questions to him. They
drew from him a number of extremely striking details, which were
given with mingled modesty and frankness; and in a gentleness of
manner, and a soft tone of voice, contrasting singularly with the
wild and often startling nature of his themes. It was difficult
to conceive the mild, quiet-looking personage before you, the
actual hero of the stirring scenes related.

In the course of three or four months, happening to be at the
city of Washington, I again came upon the captain, who was
attending the slow adjustment of his affairs with the War
Department. I found him quartered with a worthy brother in arms,
a major in the army. Here he was writing at a table, covered with
maps and papers, in the centre of a large barrack room,
fancifully decorated with Indian arms, and trophies, and war
dresses, and the skins of various wild animals, and hung round
with pictures of Indian games and ceremonies, and scenes of war
and hunting. In a word, the captain was beguiling the tediousness
of attendance at court, by an attempt at authorship; and was
rewriting and extending his travelling notes, and making maps of
the regions he had explored. As he sat at the table, in this
curious apartment, with his high bald head of somewhat foreign
cast, he reminded me of some of those antique pictures of authors
that I have seen in old Spanish volumes.

The result of his labors was a mass of manuscript, which he
subsequently put at my disposal, to fit it for publication and
bring it before the world. I found it full of interesting details
of life among the mountains, and of the singular castes and
races, both white men and red men, among whom he had sojourned.
It bore, too, throughout, the impress of his character, his
bonhommie, his kindliness of spirit, and his susceptibility to
the grand and beautiful.

That manuscript has formed the staple of the following work. I
have occasionally interwoven facts and details, gathered from
various sources, especially from the conversations and journals
of some of the captain's contemporaries, who were actors in the
scenes he describes. I have also given it a tone and coloring
drawn from my own observation, during an excursion into the
Indian country beyond the bounds of civilization; as I before
observed, however, the work is substantially the narrative of the
worthy captain, and many of its most graphic passages are but
little varied from his own language.

I shall conclude this notice by a dedication which he had made of
his manuscript to his hospitable brother in arms, in whose
quarters I found him occupied in his literary labors; it is a
dedication which, I believe, possesses the qualities, not always
found in complimentary documents of the kind, of being sincere,
and being merited.


To JAMES HARVEY HOOK, Major, U. S. A.,
whose jealousy of its honor, whose anxiety for its interests, and
whose sensibility for its wants, have endeared him to the service
as The Soldier's Friend;
and whose general amenity, constant cheerfulness. disinterested
hospitality, and unwearied benevolence, entitle him to the still
loftier title of The Friend of Man,
this work is inscribed, etc.


WASHINGTON IRVING

1.
State of the fur trade of the Rocky Mountains American
enterprises General Ashley and his associates Sublette, a famous
leader Yearly rendezvous among the mountains Stratagems and
dangers of the trade Bands of trappers Indian banditti Crows and
Blackfeet Mountaineers Traders of the Far West Character and
habits of the trapper

IN A RECENT WORK we have given an account of the grand enterprise
of Mr. John Jacob Astor to establish an American emporium for the
fur trade at the mouth of the Columbia, or Oregon River; of the
failure of that enterprise through the capture of Astoria by the
British, in 1814; and of the way in which the control of the
trade of the Columbia and its dependencies fell into the hands of
the Northwest Company. We have stated, likewise, the unfortunate
supineness of the American government in neglecting the
application of Mr. Astor for the protection of the American flag,
and a small military force, to enable him to reinstate himself in
the possession of Astoria at the return of peace; when the post
was formally given up by the British government, though still
occupied by the Northwest Company. By that supineness the
sovereignty in the country has been virtually lost to the United
States; and it will cost both governments much trouble and
difficulty to settle matters on that just and rightful footing on
which they would readily have been placed had the proposition of
Mr. Astor been attended to. We shall now state a few particulars
of subsequent events, so as to lead the reader up to the period
of which we are about to treat, and to prepare him for the
circumstances of our narrative.

In consequence of the apathy and neglect of the American
government, Mr. Astor abandoned all thoughts of regaining
Astoria, and made no further attempt to extend his enterprises
beyond the Rocky Mountains; and the Northwest Company considered
themselves the lords of the country. They did not long enjoy
unmolested the sway which they had somewhat surreptitiously
attained. A fierce competition ensued between them and their old
rivals, the Hudson's Bay Company; which was carried on at great
cost and sacrifice, and occasionally with the loss of life. It
ended in the ruin of most of the partners of the Northwest
Company; and the merging of the relics of that establishment, in
1821, in the rival association. From that time, the Hudson's Bay
Company enjoyed a monopoly of the Indian trade from the coast of
the Pacific to the Rocky Mountains, and for a considerable extent
north and south. They removed their emporium from Astoria to Fort
Vancouver, a strong post on the left bank of the Columbia River,
about sixty miles from its mouth; whence they furnished their
interior posts, and sent forth their brigades of trappers.


The Rocky Mountains formed a vast barrier between them and the
United States, and their stern and awful defiles, their rugged
valleys, and the great western plains watered by their rivers,
remained almost a terra incognita to the American trapper. The
difficulties experienced in 1808, by Mr. Henry of the Missouri
Company, the first American who trapped upon the head-waters of
the Columbia; and the frightful hardships sustained by Wilson P.
Hunt, Ramsay Crooks, Robert Stuart, and other intrepid Astorians,
in their ill-fated expeditions across the mountains, appeared for
a time to check all further enterprise in that direction. The
American traders contented themselves with following up the head
branches of the Missouri, the Yellowstone, and other rivers and
streams on the Atlantic side of the mountains, but forbore to
attempt those great snow-crowned sierras.

One of the first to revive these tramontane expeditions was
General Ashley, of Missouri, a man whose courage and achievements
in the prosecution of his enterprises have rendered him famous in
the Far West. In conjunction with Mr. Henry, already mentioned,
he established a post on the banks of the Yellowstone River in
1822, and in the following year pushed a resolute band of
trappers across the mountains to the banks of the Green River or
Colorado of the West, often known by the Indian name of the
Seeds-ke-dee Agie. This attempt was followed up and sustained by
others, until in 1825 a footing was secured, and a complete
system of trapping organized beyond the mountains.

It is difficult to do justice to the courage, fortitude, and
perseverance of the pioneers of the fur trade, who conducted
these early expeditions, and first broke their way through a
wilderness where everything was calculated to deter and dismay
them. They had to traverse the most dreary and desolate
mountains, and barren and trackless wastes, uninhabited by man,
or occasionally infested by predatory and cruel savages. They
knew nothing of the country beyond the verge of their horizon,
and had to gather information as they wandered. They beheld
volcanic plains stretching around them, and ranges of mountains
piled up to the clouds, and glistening with eternal frost: but
knew nothing of their defiles, nor how they were to be penetrated
or traversed. They launched themselves in frail canoes on rivers,
without knowing whither their swift currents would carry them, or
what rocks and shoals and rapids they might encounter in their
course. They had to be continually on the alert, too, against the
mountain tribes, who beset every defile, laid ambuscades in their
path, or attacked them in their night encampments; so that, of
the hardy bands of trappers that first entered into these
regions, three-fifths are said to have fallen by the hands of
savage foes.

In this wild and warlike school a number of leaders have sprung
up, originally in the employ, subsequently partners of Ashley;
among these we may mention Smith, Fitzpatrick, Bridger, Robert
Campbell, and William Sublette; whose adventures and exploits
partake of the wildest spirit of romance. The association
commenced by General Ashley underwent various modifications. That
gentleman having acquired sufficient fortune, sold out his
interest and retired; and the leading spirit that succeeded him
was Captain William Sublette; a man worthy of note, as his name
has become renowned in frontier story. He is a native of
Kentucky, and of game descent; his maternal grandfather, Colonel
Wheatley, a companion of Boon, having been one of the pioneers of
the West, celebrated in Indian warfare, and killed in one of the
contests of the Bloody Ground." We shall frequently have
occasion to speak of this Subletteand always to the credit of


his game qualities. In 1830the association took the name of the
Rocky Mountain Fur Companyof which Captain Sublette and Robert
Campbell were prominent members.

In the meantimethe success of this company attracted the
attention and excited the emulation of the American Fur Company
and brought them once more into the field of their ancient
enterprise. Mr. Astorthe founder of the associationhad
retired from busy lifeand the concerns of the company were ably
managed by Mr. Ramsay Crooksof Snake River renownwho still
officiates as its president. A competition immediately ensued
between the two companies for the trade with the mountain tribes
and the trapping of the head-waters of the Columbia and the other
great tributaries of the Pacific. Beside the regular operations
of these formidable rivalsthere have been from time to time
desultory enterprisesor rather experimentsof minor
associationsor of adventurous individuals beside roving bands
of independent trapperswho either hunt for themselvesor
engage for a single seasonin the service of one or other of the
main companies.

The consequence is that the Rocky Mountains and the ulterior
regionsfrom the Russian possessions in the north down to the
Spanish settlements of Californiahave been traversed and
ransacked in every direction by bands of hunters and Indian
traders; so that there is scarcely a mountain passor defile
that is not known and threaded in their restless migrationsnor
a nameless stream that is not haunted by the lonely trapper.

The American fur companies keep no established posts beyond the
mountains. Everything there is regulated by resident partners;
that is to saypartners who reside in the tramontane country
but who move about from place to placeeither with Indian
tribeswhose traffic they wish to monopolizeor with main
bodies of their own menwhom they employ in trading and
trapping. In the meantimethey detach bandsor "brigades" as
they are termedof trappers in various directionsassigning to
each a portion of country as a hunting or trapping ground. In the
months of June and Julywhen there is an interval between the
hunting seasonsa general rendezvous is heldat some designated
place in the mountainswhere the affairs of the past year are
settled by the resident partnersand the plans for the following
year arranged.

To this rendezvous repair the various brigades of trappers from
their widely separated hunting groundsbringing in the products
of their year's campaign. Hither also repair the Indian tribes
accustomed to traffic their peltries with the company. Bands of
free trappers resort hither alsoto sell the furs they have
collected; or to engage their services for the next hunting
season.

To this rendezvous the company sends annually a convoy of
supplies from its establishment on the Atlantic frontierunder
the guidance of some experienced partner or officer. On the
arrival of this convoythe resident partner at the rendezvous
depends to set all his next year's machinery in motion.

Now as the rival companies keep a vigilant eye upon each other
and are anxious to discover each other's plans and movements
they generally contrive to hold their annual assemblages at no
great distance apart. An eager competition exists also between
their respective convoys of supplieswhich shall first reach its
place of rendezvous. For this purposethey set off with the


first appearance of grass on the Atlantic frontier and push with
all diligence for the mountains. The company that can first open
its tempting supplies of coffeetobaccoammunitionscarlet
clothblanketsbright shawlsand glittering trinkets has the
greatest chance to get all the peltries and furs of the Indians
and free trappersand to engage their services for the next
season. It is ablealsoto fit out and dispatch its own
trappers the soonestso as to get the start of its competitors
and to have the first dash into the hunting and trapping grounds.

A new species of strategy has sprung out of this hunting and
trapping competition. The constant study of the rival bands is to
forestall and outwit each other; to supplant each other in the
good will and custom of the Indian tribes; to cross each other's
plans; to mislead each other as to routes; in a wordnext to his
own advantagethe study of the Indian trader is the disadvantage
of his competitor.

The influx of this wandering trade has had its effects on the
habits of the mountain tribes. They have found the trapping of
the beaver their most profitable species of hunting; and the
traffic with the white man has opened to them sources of luxury
of which they previously had no idea. The introduction of
firearms has rendered them more successful huntersbut at the
same timemore formidable foes; some of themincorrigibly
savage and warlike in their naturehave found the expeditions of
the fur traders grand objects of profitable adventure. To waylay
and harass a band of trappers with their pack-horseswhen
embarrassed in the rugged defiles of the mountainshas become as
favorite an exploit with these Indians as the plunder of a
caravan to the Arab of the desert. The Crows and Blackfeetwho
were such terrors in the path of the early adventurers to
Astoriastill continue their predatory habitsbut seem to have
brought them to greater system. They know the routes and resorts
of the trappers; where to waylay them on their journeys; where to
find them in the hunting seasonsand where to hover about them
in winter quarters. The life of a trapperthereforeis a
perpetual state militantand he must sleep with his weapons in
his hands.

A new order of trappers and tradersalsohas grown out of this
system of things. In the old times of the great Northwest
Companywhen the trade in furs was pursued chiefly about the
lakes and riversthe expeditions were carried on in batteaux and
canoes. The voyageurs or boatmen were the rank and file in the
service of the traderand even the hardy "men of the north
those great rufflers and game birds, were fain to be paddled from
point to point of their migrations.

A totally different class has now sprung up:--the Mountaineers
the traders and trappers that scale the vast mountain chains, and
pursue their hazardous vocations amidst their wild recesses. They
move from place to place on horseback. The equestrian exercises,
therefore, in which they are engaged, the nature of the countries
they traverse, vast plains and mountains, pure and exhilarating
in atmospheric qualities, seem to make them physically and
mentally a more lively and mercurial race than the fur traders
and trappers of former days, the self-vaunting men of the
north." A man who bestrides a horse must be essentially different
from a man who cowers in a canoe. We find themaccordingly
hardylithevigorousand active; extravagant in wordand
thoughtand deed; heedless of hardship; daring of danger;
prodigal of the presentand thoughtless of the future.


A difference is to be perceived even between these mountain
hunters and those of the lower regions along the waters of the
Missouri. The lattergenerally French creoleslive comfortably
in cabins and log-hutswell sheltered from the inclemencies of
the seasons. They are within the reach of frequent supplies from
the settlements; their life is comparatively free from danger
and from most of the vicissitudes of the upper wilderness. The
consequence is that they are less hardyself-dependent and
game-spirited than the mountaineer. If the latter by chance comes
among them on his way to and from the settlementshe is like a
game-cock among the common roosters of the poultry-yard.
Accustomed to live in tentsor to bivouac in the open airhe
despises the comforts and is impatient of the confinement of the
log-house. If his meal is not ready in seasonhe takes his
riflehies to the forest or prairieshoots his own gamelights
his fireand cooks his repast. With his horse and his riflehe
is independent of the worldand spurns at all its restraints.
The very superintendents at the lower posts will not put him to
mess with the common menthe hirelings of the establishmentbut
treat him as something superior.

There isperhapsno class of men on the face of the earthsays
Captain Bonnevillewho lead a life of more continued exertion
periland excitementand who are more enamored of their
occupationsthan the free trappers of the West. No toilno
dangerno privation can turn the trapper from his pursuit. His
passionate excitement at times resembles a mania. In vain may the
most vigilant and cruel savages beset his path; in vain may rocks
and precipices and wintry torrents oppose his progress; let but a
single track of a beaver meet his eyeand he forgets all dangers
and defies all difficulties. At timeshe may be seen with his
traps on his shoulderbuffeting his way across rapid streams
amidst floating blocks of ice: at other timeshe is to be found
with his traps swung on his back clambering the most rugged
mountainsscaling or descending the most frightful precipices
searchingby routes inaccessible to the horseand never before
trodden by white manfor springs and lakes unknown to his
comradesand where he may meet with his favorite game. Such is
the mountaineerthe hardy trapper of the West; and suchas we
have slightly sketched itis the wildRobin Hood kind of life
with all its strange and motley populacenow existing in full
vigor among the Rocky Mountains.

Having thus given the reader some idea of the actual state of the
fur trade in the interior of our vast continentand made him
acquainted with the wild chivalry of the mountainswe will no
longer delay the introduction of Captain Bonneville and his band
into this field of their enterprisebut launch them at once upon
the perilous plains of the Far West.

2.
Departure from Fort Osage Modes of transportation Packhorses
Wagons Walker and Cerre; their characters Buoyant feelings
on launching upon the prairies Wild equipments of the

trappers Their gambols and antics Difference of character between

the American and French trappers Agency of the Kansas General

Clarke White Plumethe Kansas chief Night scene in a trader's

camp Colloquy between White Plume and the captain Beehunters
Their expeditions Their feuds with the Indians Bargaining
talent of White Plume


IT WAS ON THE FIRST of May1832that Captain Bonneville took
his departure from the frontier post of Fort Osageon the
Missouri. He had enlisted a party of one hundred and ten men
most of whom had been in the Indian countryand some of whom
were experienced hunters and trappers. Fort Osageand other
places on the borders of the western wildernessabound with
characters of the kindready for any expedition.

The ordinary mode of transportation in these great inland
expeditions of the fur traders is on mules and pack-horses; but
Captain Bonneville substituted wagons. Though he was to travel
through a trackless wildernessyet the greater part of his route
would lie across open plainsdestitute of forestsand where
wheel carriages can pass in every direction. The chief difficulty
occurs in passing the deep ravines cut through the prairies by
streams and winter torrents. Here it is often necessary to dig a
road down the banksand to make bridges for the wagons.

In transporting his baggage in vehicles of this kindCaptain
Bonneville thought he would save the great delay caused every
morning by packing the horsesand the labor of unpacking in the
evening. Fewer horses also would be requiredand less risk
incurred of their wandering awayor being frightened or carried
off by the Indians. The wagonsalsowould be more easily
defendedand might form a kind of fortification in case of
attack in the open prairies. A train of twenty wagonsdrawn by
oxenor by four mules or horses eachand laden with
merchandiseammunitionand provisionswere disposed in two
columns in the center of the partywhich was equally divided
into a van and a rear-guard. As sub-leaders or lieutenants in his
expeditionCaptain Bonneville had made choice of Mr. J. R.
Walker and Mr. M. S. Cerre. The former was a native of Tennessee
about six feet highstrong builtdark complexionedbrave in
spiritthough mild in manners. He had resided for many years in
Missourion the frontier; had been among the earliest
adventurers to Santa Fewhere he went to trap beaverand was
taken by the Spaniards. Being liberatedhe engaged with the
Spaniards and Sioux Indians in a war against the Pawnees; then
returned to Missouriand had acted by turns as sherifftrader
trapperuntil he was enlisted as a leader by Captain Bonneville.

Cerrehis other leaderhad likewise been in expeditions to
Santa Fein which he had endured much hardship. He was of the
middle sizelight complexionedand though but about twenty-five
years of agewas considered an experienced Indian trader. It was
a great object with Captain Bonneville to get to the mountains
before the summer heats and summer flies should render the
travelling across the prairies distressing; and before the annual
assemblages of people connected with the fur trade should have
broken upand dispersed to the hunting grounds.

The two rival associations already mentionedthe American Fur
Company and the Rocky Mountain Fur Companyhad their several
places of rendezvous for the present year at no great distance
apartin Pierre's Holea deep valley in the heart of the
mountainsand thither Captain Bonneville intended to shape his
course.

It is not easy to do justice to the exulting feelings of the
worthy captain at finding himself at the head of a stout band of
hunterstrappersand woodmen; fairly launched on the broad
prairieswith his face to the boundless West. The tamest
inhabitant of citiesthe veriest spoiled child of civilization


feels his heart dilate and his pulse beat high on finding himself
on horseback in the glorious wilderness; what then must be the
excitement of one whose imagination had been stimulated by a
residence on the frontierand to whom the wilderness was a
region of romance!

His hardy followers partook of his excitement. Most of them had
already experienced the wild freedom of savage lifeand looked
forward to a renewal of past scenes of adventure and exploit.
Their very appearance and equipment exhibited a piebald mixture
half civilized and half savage. Many of them looked more like
Indians than white men in their garbs and accoutrementsand
their very horses were caparisoned in barbaric stylewith
fantastic trappings. The outset of a band of adventurers on one
of these expeditions is always animated and joyous. The welkin
rang with their shouts and yelpsafter the manner of the
savages; and with boisterous jokes and light-hearted laughter. As
they passed the straggling hamlets and solitary cabins that
fringe the skirts of the frontierthey would startle their
inmates by Indian yells and war-whoopsor regale them with
grotesque feats of horsemanshipwell suited to their halfsavage
appearance. Most of these abodes were inhabited by men who had
themselves been in similar expeditions; they welcomed the
travellersthereforeas brother trapperstreated them with a
hunter's hospitalityand cheered them with an honest God speed
at parting.

And here we would remark a great differencein point of
character and qualitybetween the two classes of trappersthe
Americanand "French as they are called in contradistinction.
The latter is meant to designate the French creole of Canada or
Louisiana; the former, the trapper of the old American stock,
from Kentucky, Tennessee, and others of the western States. The
French trapper is represented as a lighter, softer, more
self-indulgent kind of man. He must have his Indian wife, his
lodge, and his petty conveniences. He is gay and thoughtless,
takes little heed of landmarks, depends upon his leaders and
companions to think for the common weal, and, if left to himself,
is easily perplexed and lost.

The American trapper stands by himself, and is peerless for the
service of the wilderness. Drop him in the midst of a prairie, or
in the heart of the mountains, and he is never at a loss. He
notices every landmark; can retrace his route through the most
monotonous plains, or the most perplexed labyrinths of the
mountains; no danger nor difficulty can appal him, and he scorns
to complain under any privation. In equipping the two kinds of
trappers, the Creole and Canadian are apt to prefer the light
fusee; the American always grasps his rifle; he despises what he
calls the shot-gun." We give these estimates on the authority of
a trader of long experienceand a foreigner by birth. "I
consider one American said he, equal to three Canadians in
point of sagacityaptness at resourcesself-dependenceand
fearlessness of spirit. In factno one can cope with him as a
stark tramper of the wilderness."

Beside the two classes of trappers just mentionedCaptain
Bonneville had enlisted several Delaware Indians in his employ
on whose hunting qualifications he placed great reliance.

On the 6th of May the travellers passed the last border
habitationand bade a long farewell to the ease and security of
civilization. The buoyant and clamorous spirits with which they
had commenced their march gradually subsided as they entered upon


its difficulties. They found the prairies saturated with the
heavy cold rainsprevalent in certain seasons of the year in
this part of the countrythe wagon wheels sank deep in the mire
the horses were often to the fetlockand both steed and rider
were completely jaded by the evening of the 12thwhen they
reached the Kansas River; a fine stream about three hundred yards
wideentering the Missouri from the south. Though fordable in
almost every part at the end of summer and during the autumnyet
it was necessary to construct a raft for the transportation of
the wagons and effects. All this was done in the course of the
following dayand by eveningthe whole party arrived at the
agency of the Kansas tribe. This was under the superintendence of
General Clarkebrother of the celebrated traveller of the same
namewhowith Lewismade the first expedition down the waters
of the Columbia. He was living like a patriarchsurrounded by
laborers and interpretersall snugly housedand provided with
excellent farms. The functionary next in consequence to the agent
was the blacksmitha most importantandindeedindispensable
personage in a frontier community. The Kansas resemble the Osages
in featuresdressand language; they raise corn and hunt the
buffaloranging the Kansas Riverand its tributary streams; at
the time of the captain's visitthey were at war with the
Pawnees of the Nebraskaor Platte River.

The unusual sight of a train of wagons caused quite a sensation
among these savages; who thronged about the caravanexamining
everything minutelyand asking a thousand questions: exhibiting
a degree of excitabilityand a lively curiosity totally opposite
to that apathy with which their race is so often reproached.

The personage who most attracted the captain's attention at this
place was "White Plume the Kansas chief, and they soon became
good friends. White Plume (we are pleased with his chivalrous
soubriquet) inhabited a large stone house, built for him by order
of the American government: but the establishment had not been
carried out in corresponding style. It might be palace without,
but it was wigwam within; so that, between the stateliness of his
mansion and the squalidness of his furniture, the gallant White
Plume presented some such whimsical incongruity as we see in the
gala equipments of an Indian chief on a treaty-making embassy at
Washington, who has been generously decked out in cocked hat and
military coat, in contrast to his breech-clout and leathern
legging; being grand officer at top, and ragged Indian at bottom.

White Plume was so taken with the courtesy of the captain, and
pleased with one or two presents received from him, that he
accompanied him a day's journey on his march, and passed a night
in his camp, on the margin of a small stream. The method of
encamping generally observed by the captain was as follows: The
twenty wagons were disposed in a square, at the distance of
thirty-three feet from each other. In every interval there was a
mess stationed; and each mess had its fire, where the men cooked,
ate, gossiped, and slept. The horses were placed in the centre of
the square, with a guard stationed over them at night.

The horses were side lined as it is termed: that is to say,
the fore and hind foot on the same side of the animal were tied
together, so as to be within eighteen inches of each other. A
horse thus fettered is for a time sadly embarrassed, but soon
becomes sufficiently accustomed to the restraint to move about
slowly. It prevents his wandering; and his being easily carried
off at night by lurking Indians. When a horse that is foot free"
is tied to one thus securedthe latter formsas it werea
pivotround which the other runs and curvetsin case of alarm.


The encampment of which we are speaking presented a striking
scene. The various mess-fires were surrounded by picturesque
groupsstandingsittingand reclining; some busied in cooking
others in cleaning their weapons: while the frequent laugh told
that the rough joke or merry story was going on. In the middle of
the campbefore the principal lodgesat the two chieftains
Captain Bonneville and White Plumein soldier-like communion
the captain delighted with the opportunity of meeting on social
terms with one of the red warriors of the wildernessthe
unsophisticated children of nature. The latter was squatted on
his buffalo robehis strong features and red skin glaring in the
broad light of a blazing firewhile he recounted astounding
tales of the bloody exploits of his tribe and himself in their
wars with the Pawnees; for there are no old soldiers more given
to long campaigning stories than Indian "braves."

The feuds of White Plumehoweverhad not been confined to the
red men; he had much to say of brushes with bee huntersa class
of offenders for whom he seemed to cherish a particular
abhorrence. As the species of hunting prosecuted by these
worthies is not laid down in any of the ancient books of venerie
and isin factpeculiar to our western frontiera word or two
on the subject may not be unacceptable to the reader.

The bee hunter is generally some settler on the verge of the
prairies; a longlank fellowof fever and ague complexion
acquired from living on new soiland in a hut built of green
logs. In the autumnwhen the harvest is overthese; frontier
settlers form parties of two or threeand prepare for a bee
hunt. Having provided themselves with a wagonand a number of
empty casksthey sally offarmed with their riflesinto the
wildernessdirecting their course eastwestnorthor south
without any regard to the ordinance of the American government
which strictly forbids all trespass upon the lands belonging to
the Indian tribes.

The belts of woodland that traverse the lower prairies and border
the rivers are peopled by innumerable swarms of wild beeswhich
make their hives in hollow trees and fill them with honey tolled
from the rich flowers of the prairies. The beesaccording to
popular assertionare migrating like the settlersto the west.
An Indian traderwell experienced in the countryinforms us
that within ten years that he has passed in the Far Westthe bee
has advanced westward above a hundred miles. It is said on the
Missourithat the wild turkey and the wild bee go up the river
together: neither is found in the upper regions. It is but
recently that the wild turkey has been killed on the Nebraskaor
Platte; and his travelling competitorthe wild beeappeared
there about the same time.

Be all this as it may: the course of our party of bee hunters is
to make a wide circuit through the woody river bottomsand the
patches of forest on the prairiesmarkingas they go outevery
tree in which they have detected a hive. These marks are
generally respected by any other bee hunter that should come upon
their track. When they have marked sufficient to fill all their
casksthey turn their faces homewardcut down the trees as they
proceedand having loaded their wagon with honey and waxreturn
well pleased to the settlements.

Now it so happens that the Indians relish wild honey as highly as
do the white menand are the more delighted with this natural
luxury from its havingin many instancesbut recently made its
appearance in their lands. The consequence is numberless disputes


and conflicts between them and the bee hunters: and often a party
of the latterreturningladen with rich spoilfrom one of
their foraysare apt to be waylaid by the native lords of the
soil; their honey to be seizedtheir harness cut to piecesand
themselves left to find their way home the best way they can
happy to escape with no greater personal harm than a sound
rib-roasting.

Such were the marauders of whose offences the gallant White Plume
made the most bitter complaint. They were chiefly the settlers of
the western part of Missouriwho are the most famous bee hunters
on the frontierand whose favorite hunting ground lies within
the lands of the Kansas tribe. According to the account of White
Plumehowevermatters were pretty fairly balanced between him
and the offenders; he having as often treated them to a taste of
the bitteras they had robbed him of the sweets.

It is but justice to this gallant chief to say that he gave
proofs of having acquired some of the lights of civilization from
his proximity to the whitesas was evinced in his knowledge of
driving a bargain. He required hard cash in return for some corn
with which he supplied the worthy captainand left the latter at
a loss which most to admirehis native chivalry as a braveor
his acquired adroitness as a trader.

3

Wide prairies Vegetable productions Tabular hills Slabs of
sandstone Nebraska or Platte River Scanty fare Buffalo
skulls Wagons turned into boats Herds of buffalo Cliffs
resembling castles The chimney Scott's Bluffs Story connected
with them The bighorn or ahsahta Its nature and habits Difference
between that and the "woolly sheep or goat of the mountains

FROM THE MIDDLE to the end of May, Captain Bonneville pursued a
western course over vast undulating plains, destitute of tree or
shrub, rendered miry by occasional rain, and cut up by deep
water-courses where they had to dig roads for their wagons down
the soft crumbling banks and to throw bridges across the streams.
The weather had attained the summer heat; the thermometer
standing about fifty-seven degrees in the morning, early, but
rising to about ninety degrees at noon. The incessant breezes,
however, which sweep these vast plains render the heats
endurable. Game was scanty, and they had to eke out their scanty
fare with wild roots and vegetables, such as the Indian potato,
the wild onion, and the prairie tomato, and they met with
quantities of red root from which the hunters make a very
palatable beverage. The only human being that crossed their path
was a Kansas warrior, returning from some solitary expedition of
bravado or revenge, bearing a Pawnee scalp as a trophy.

The country gradually rose as they proceeded westward, and their
route took them over high ridges, commanding wide and beautiful
prospects. The vast plain was studded on the west with
innumerable hills of conical shape, such as are seen north of the
Arkansas River. These hills have their summits apparently cut off
about the same elevation, so as to leave flat surfaces at top. It
is conjectured by some that the whole country may originally have
been of the altitude of these tabular hills; but through some
process of nature may have sunk to its present level; these
insulated eminences being protected by broad foundations of solid
rock.


Captain Bonneville mentions another geological phenomenon north
of Red River, where the surface of the earth, in considerable
tracts of country, is covered with broad slabs of sandstone,
having the form and position of grave-stones, and looking as if
they had been forced up by some subterranean agitation. The
resemblance says he, which these very remarkable spots have in
many places to old church-yards is curious in the extreme. One
might almost fancy himself among the tombs of the pre-Adamites."

On the 2d of Junethey arrived on the main stream of the
Nebraska or Platte River; twenty-five miles below the head of the
Great Island. The low banks of this river give it an appearance
of great width. Captain Bonneville measured it in one placeand
found it twenty-two hundred yards from bank to bank. Its depth
was from three to six feetthe bottom full of quicksands. The
Nebraska is studded with islands covered with that species of
poplar called the cotton-wood tree. Keeping up along the course
of this river for several daysthey were obligedfrom the
scarcity of gameto put themselves upon short allowanceand
occasionallyto kill a steer. They bore their daily labors and
privationshoweverwith great good humortaking their tonein
all probabilityfrom the buoyant spirit of their leader. "If the
weather was inclement said the captain, we watched the clouds
and hoped for a sight of the blue sky and the merry sun. If food
was scantywe regaled ourselves with the hope of soon falling in
with herds of buffaloand having nothing to do but slay and
eat." We doubt whether the genial captain is not describing the
cheeriness of his own breastwhich gave a cheery aspect to
everything around him.

There certainly were evidenceshoweverthat the country was not
always equally destitute of game. At one placethey observed a
field decorated with buffalo skullsarranged in circlescurves
and other mathematical figuresas if for some mystic rite or
ceremony. They were almost innumerableand seemed to have been a
vast hecatomb offered up in thanksgiving to the Great Spirit for
some signal success in the chase.

On the 11th of Junethey came to the fork of the Nebraskawhere
it divides itself into two equal and beautiful streams. One of
these branches rises in the west-southwestnear the headwaters
of the Arkansas. Up the course of this branchas Captain
Bonneville was well awarelay the route to the Camanche and
Kioway Indiansand to the northern Mexican settlements; of the
other branch he knew nothing. Its sources might lie among wild
and inaccessible cliffsand tumble and foam down rugged defiles
and over craggy precipices; but its direction was in the true
courseand up this stream he determined to prosecute his route
to the Rocky Mountains. Finding it impossiblefrom quicksands
and other dangerous impedimentsto cross the river in this
neighborhoodhe kept up along the south fork for two days
merely seeking a safe fording place. At length he encamped
caused the bodies of the wagons to be dislodged from the wheels
covered with buffalo hideand besmeared with a compound of
tallow and ashes; thus forming rude boats. In thesethey ferried
their effects across the streamwhich was six hundred yards
widewith a swift and strong current. Three men were in each
boatto manage it; others waded across pushing the barks before
them. Thus all crossed in safety. A march of nine miles took them
over high rolling prairies to the north fork; their eyes being
regaled with the welcome sight of herds of buffalo at a distance
some careering the plainothers grazing and reposing in the
natural meadows.


Skirting along the north fork for a day or twoexcessively
annoyed by musquitoes and buffalo gnatsthey reachedin the
evening of the 17tha small but beautiful grovefrom which
issued the confused notes of singing birdsthe first they had
heard since crossing the boundary of Missouri. After so many days
of weary travelling through a nakedmonotonous and silent
countryit was delightful once more to hear the song of the
birdand to behold the verdure of the grove. It was a beautiful
sunsetand a sight of the glowing raysmantling the tree-tops
and rustling branchesgladdened every heart. They pitched their
camp in the grovekindled their firespartook merrily of their
rude fareand resigned themselves to the sweetest sleep they had
enjoyed since their outset upon the prairies.

The country now became rugged and broken. High bluffs advanced
upon the riverand forced the travellers occasionally to leave
its banks and wind their course into the interior. In one of the
wild and solitary passes they were startled by the trail of four
or five pedestrianswhom they supposed to be spies from some
predatory camp of either Arickara or Crow Indians. This obliged
them to redouble their vigilance at nightand to keep especial
watch upon their horses. In these rugged and elevated regions
they began to see the black-tailed deera species larger than
the ordinary kindand chiefly found in rocky and mountainous
countries. They had reached also a great buffalo range; Captain
Bonneville ascended a high bluffcommanding an extensive view of
the surrounding plains. As far as his eye could reachthe
country seemed absolutely blackened by innumerable herds. No
languagehe sayscould convey an adequate idea of the vast
living mass thus presented to his eye. He remarked that the bulls
and cows generally congregated in separate herds.

Opposite to the camp at this place was a singular phenomenon
which is among the curiosities of the country. It is called the
chimney. The lower part is a conical moundrising out of the
naked plain; from the summit shoots up a shaft or columnabout
one hundred and twenty feet in heightfrom which it derives its
name. The height of the wholeaccording to Captain Bonneville
is a hundred and seventy-five yards. It is composed of indurated
claywith alternate layers of red and white sandstoneand may
be seen at the distance of upward of thirty miles.

On the 21stthey encamped amidst high and beetling cliffs of
indurated clay and sandstonebearing the semblance of towers
castleschurchesand fortified cities. At a distanceit was
scarcely possible to persuade one's self that the works of art
were not mingled with these fantastic freaks of nature. They have
received the name of Scott's Bluffsfrom a melancholy
circumstance. A number of years sincea party were descending
the upper part of the river in canoeswhen their frail barks
were overturned and all their powder spoiled. Their rifles being
thus rendered uselessthey were unable to procure food by
hunting and had to depend upon roots and wild fruits for
subsistence. After suffering extremely from hungerthey arrived
at Laramie's Forka small tributary of the north branch of the
Nebraskaabout sixty miles above the cliffs just mentioned. Here
one of the partyby the name of Scottwas taken ill; and his
companions came to a haltuntil he should recover health and
strength sufficient to proceed. While they were searching round
in quest of edible rootsthey discovered a fresh trail of white
menwho had evidently but recently preceded them. What was to be
done? By a forced march they might overtake this partyand thus
be able to reach the settlements in safety. Should they linger


they might all perish of famine and exhaustion. Scotthowever
was incapable of moving; they were too feeble to aid him forward
and dreaded that such a clog would prevent their coming up with
the advance party. They determinedthereforeto abandon him to
his fate. Accordinglyunder presence of seeking foodand such
simples as might be efficacious in his maladythey deserted him
and hastened forward upon the trail. They succeeded in overtaking
the party of which they were in questbut concealed their
faithless desertion of Scott; alleging that he had died of
disease.

On the ensuing summerthese very individuals visiting these
parts in company with otherscame suddenly upon the bleached
bones and grinning skull of a human skeletonwhichby certain
signs they recognized for the remains of Scott. This was sixty
long miles from the place where they had abandoned him; and it
appeared that the wretched man had crawled that immense distance
before death put an end to his miseries. The wild and picturesque
bluffs in the neighborhood of his lonely grave have ever since
borne his name.

Amidst this wild and striking sceneryCaptain Bonnevillefor
the first timebeheld flocks of the ahsahta or bighornan
animal which frequents these cliffs in great numbers. They accord
with the nature of such sceneryand add much to its romantic
effect; bounding like goats from crag to cragoften trooping
along the lofty shelves of the mountainsunder the guidance of
some venerable patriarch with horns twisted lower than his
muzzleand sometimes peering over the edge of a precipiceso
high that they appear scarce bigger than crows; indeedit seems
a pleasure to them to seek the most rugged and frightful
situationsdoubtless from a feeling of security.

This animal is commonly called the mountain sheepand is often
confounded with another animalthe "woolly sheep found more to
the northward, about the country of the Flatheads. The latter
likewise inhabits cliffs in summer, but descends into the valleys
in the winter. It has white wool, like a sheep, mingled with a
thin growth of long hair; but it has short legs, a deep belly,
and a beard like a goat. Its horns are about five inches long,
slightly curved backwards, black as jet, and beautifully
polished. Its hoofs are of the same color. This animal is by no
means so active as the bighorn; it does not bound much, but sits
a good deal upon its haunches. It is not so plentiful either;
rarely more than two or three are seen at a time. Its wool alone
gives a resemblance to the sheep; it is more properly of the
flesh is said to have a musty flavor; some have thought the
fleece might be valuable, as it is said to be as fine as that of
the goat Cashmere, but it is not to be procured in sufficient
quantities.

The ahsahta, argali, or bighorn, on the contrary, has short hair
like a deer, and resembles it in shape, but has the head and
horns of a sheep, and its flesh is said to be delicious mutton.
The Indians consider it more sweet and delicate than any other
kind of venison. It abounds in the Rocky Mountains, from the
fiftieth degree of north latitude, quite down to California;
generally in the highest regions capable of vegetation; sometimes
it ventures into the valleys, but on the least alarm, regains its
favorite cliffs and precipices, where it is perilous, if not
impossible for the hunter to follow.


4

An alarm Crow Indians Their appearance Mode of approach Their
vengeful errand Their curiosity Hostility between the Crows and
Blackfeet Loving conduct of the Crows Laramie's Fork First
navigation of the Nebraska Great elevation of the country Rarity
of the atmosphere Its effect on the wood-work of wagons Black
Hills Their wild and broken scenery Indian dogs Crow trophies
Sterile and dreary country Banks of the Sweet Water Buffalo
hunting Adventure of Tom Cain the Irish cook

WHEN ON THE MARCH, Captain Bonneville always sent some of his
best hunters in the advance to reconnoitre the country, as well
as to look out for game. On the 24th of May, as the caravan was
slowly journeying up the banks of the Nebraska, the hunters came
galloping back, waving their caps, and giving the alarm cry,
Indians! Indians!

The captain immediately ordered a halt: the hunters now came up
and announced that a large war-party of Crow Indians were just
above, on the river. The captain knew the character of these
savages; one of the most roving, warlike, crafty, and predatory
tribes of the mountains; horse-stealers of the first order, and
easily provoked to acts of sanguinary violence. Orders were
accordingly given to prepare for action, and every one promptly
took the post that had been assigned him in the general order of
the march, in all cases of warlike emergency.

Everything being put in battle array, the captain took the lead
of his little band, and moved on slowly and warily. In a little
while he beheld the Crow warriors emerging from among the bluffs.
There were about sixty of them; fine martial-looking fellows,
painted and arrayed for war, and mounted on horses decked out
with all kinds of wild trappings. They came prancing along in
gallant style, with many wild and dexterous evolutions, for none
can surpass them in horsemanship; and their bright colors, and
flaunting and fantastic embellishments, glaring and sparkling in
the morning sunshine, gave them really a striking appearance.

Their mode of approach, to one not acquainted with the tactics
and ceremonies of this rude chivalry of the wilderness, had an
air of direct hostility. They came galloping forward in a body,
as if about to make a furious charge, but, when close at hand,
opened to the right and left, and wheeled in wide circles round
the travellers, whooping and yelling like maniacs.

This done, their mock fury sank into a calm, and the chief,
approaching the captain, who had remained warily drawn up, though
informed of the pacific nature of the maneuver, extended to him
the hand of friendship. The pipe of peace was smoked, and now all
was good fellowship.

The Crows were in pursuit of a band of Cheyennes, who had
attacked their village in the night and killed one of their
people. They had already been five and twenty days on the track
of the marauders, and were determined not to return home until
they had sated their revenge.

A few days previously, some of their scouts, who were ranging the
country at a distance from the main body, had discovered the
party of Captain Bonneville. They had dogged it for a time in
secret, astonished at the long train of wagons and oxen, and
especially struck with the sight of a cow and calf, quietly
following the caravan; supposing them to be some kind of tame


buffalo. Having satisfied their curiosity, they carried back to
their chief intelligence of all that they had seen. He had, in
consequence, diverged from his pursuit of vengeance to behold the
wonders described to him. Now that we have met you said he to
Captain Bonneville, and have seen these marvels with our own
eyesour hearts are glad." In factnothing could exceed the
curiosity evinced by these people as to the objects before them.
Wagons had never been seen by them beforeand they examined them
with the greatest minuteness; but the calf was the peculiar
object of their admiration. They watched it with intense interest
as it licked the hands accustomed to feed itand were struck
with the mild expression of its countenanceand its perfect
docility.

After much sage consultationthey at length determined that it
must be the "great medicine" of the white party; an appellation
given by the Indians to anything of supernatural and mysterious
power that is guarded as a talisman. They were completely thrown
out in their conjecturehoweverby an offer of the white men to
exchange the calf for a horse; their estimation of the great
medicine sank in an instantand they declined the bargain.

At the request of the Crow chieftain the two parties encamped
togetherand passed the residue of the day in company. The
captain was well pleased with every opportunity to gain a
knowledge of the "unsophisticated sons of nature who had so
long been objects of his poetic speculations; and indeed this
wild, horse-stealing tribe is one of the most notorious of the
mountains. The chief, of course, had his scalps to show and his
battles to recount. The Blackfoot is the hereditary enemy of the
Crow, toward whom hostility is like a cherished principle of
religion; for every tribe, besides its casual antagonists, has
some enduring foe with whom there can be no permanent
reconciliation. The Crows and Blackfeet, upon the whole, are
enemies worthy of each other, being rogues and ruffians of the
first water. As their predatory excursions extend over the same
regions, they often come in contact with each other, and these
casual conflicts serve to keep their wits awake and their
passions alive.

The present party of Crows, however, evinced nothing of the
invidious character for which they are renowned. During the day
and night that they were encamped in company with the travellers,
their conduct was friendly in the extreme. They were, in fact,
quite irksome in their attentions, and had a caressing manner at
times quite importunate. It was not until after separation on the
following morning that the captain and his men ascertained the
secret of all this loving-kindness. In the course of their
fraternal caresses, the Crows had contrived to empty the pockets
of their white brothers; to abstract the very buttons from their
coats, and, above all, to make free with their hunting knives.

By equal altitudes of the sun, taken at this last encampment,
Captain Bonneville ascertained his latitude to be 41 47' north.
The thermometer, at six o'clock in the morning, stood at
fifty-nine degrees; at two o'clock, P. M., at ninety-two degrees;
and at six o'clock in the evening, at seventy degrees.

The Black Hills, or Mountains, now began to be seen at a
distance, printing the horizon with their rugged and broken
outlines; and threatening to oppose a difficult barrier in the
way of the travellers.

On the 26th of May, the travellers encamped at Laramie's Fork, a


clear and beautiful stream, rising in the west-southwest,
maintaining an average width of twenty yards, and winding through
broad meadows abounding in currants and gooseberries, and adorned
with groves and clumps of trees.

By an observation of Jupiter's satellites, with a Dolland
reflecting telescope, Captain Bonneville ascertained the
longitude to be 102 57' west of Greenwich.

We will here step ahead of our narrative to observe that about
three years after the time of which we are treating, Mr. Robert
Campbell, formerly of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, descended
the Platte from this fork, in skin canoes, thus proving, what had
always been discredited, that the river was navigable. About the
same time, he built a fort or trading post at Laramie's Fork,
which he named Fort William, after his friend and partner, Mr.
William Sublette. Since that time, the Platte has become a
highway for the fur traders.

For some days past, Captain Bonneville had been made sensible of
the great elevation of country into which he was gradually
ascending by the effect of the dryness and rarefaction of the
atmosphere upon his wagons. The wood-work shrunk; the paint boxes
of the wheels were continually working out, and it was necessary
to support the spokes by stout props to prevent their falling
asunder. The travellers were now entering one of those great
steppes of the Far West, where the prevalent aridity of the
atmosphere renders the country unfit for cultivation. In these
regions there is a fresh sweet growth of grass in the spring, but
it is scanty and short, and parches up in the course of the
summer, so that there is none for the hunters to set fire to in
the autumn. It is a common observation that above the forks of
the Platte the grass does not burn." All attempts at agriculture
and gardening in the neighborhood of Fort William have been
attended with very little success. The grain and vegetables
raised there have been scanty in quantity and poor in quality.
The great elevation of these plainsand the dryness of the
atmospherewill tend to retain these immense regions in a state
of pristine wildness.

In the course of a day or two morethe travellers entered that
wild and broken tract of the Crow country called the Black Hills
and here their journey became toilsome in the extreme. Rugged
steeps and deep ravines incessantly obstructed their progressso
that a great part of the day was spent in the painful toil of
digging through banksfilling up ravinesforcing the wagons up
the most forbidding ascentsor swinging them with ropes down the
face of dangerous precipices. The shoes of their horses were worn
outand their feet injured by the rugged and stony roads. The
travellers were annoyed also by frequent but brief stormswhich
would come hurrying over the hillsor through the mountain
defilesrage with great fury for a short timeand then pass
offleaving everything calm and serene again.

For several nights the camp had been infested by vagabond Indian
dogsprowling about in quest of food. They were about the size
of a large pointer; with ears short and erectand a long bushy
tail--altogetherthey bore a striking resemblance to a wolf.
These skulking visitors would keep about the purlieus of the camp
until daylight; whenon the first stir of life among the
sleepersthey would scamper off until they reached some rising
groundwhere they would take their seatsand keep a sharp and
hungry watch upon every movement. The moment the travellers were
fairly on the marchand the camp was abandonedthese starving


hangers-on would hasten to the deserted firesto seize upon the
half-picked bonesthe offal and garbage that lay about; and
having made a hasty mealwith many a snap and snarl and growl
would follow leisurely on the trail of the caravan. Many attempts
were made to coax or catch thembut in vain. Their quick and
suspicious eyes caught the slightest sinister movementand they
turned and scampered off. At length one was taken. He was
terribly alarmedand crouched and trembled as if expecting
instant death. Soothedhoweverby caresseshe began after a
time to gather confidence and wag his tailand at length was
brought to follow close at the heels of his captorsstill
howeverdarting around furtive and suspicious glancesand
evincing a disposition to scamper off upon the least alarm.

On the first of July the band of Crow warriors again crossed
their path. They came in vaunting and vainglorious style;
displaying five Cheyenne scalpsthe trophies of their vengeance.
They were now bound homewardsto appease the manes of their
comrade by these proofs that his death had been revengedand
intended to have scalp-dances and other triumphant rejoicings.
Captain Bonneville and his menhoweverwere by no means
disposed to renew their confiding intimacy with these crafty
savagesand above alltook care to avoid their pilfering
caresses. They remarked one precaution of the Crows with respect
to their horses; to protect their hoofs from the sharp and jagged
rocks among which they had to passthey had covered them with
shoes of buffalo hide.

The route of the travellers lay generally along the course of the
Nebraska or Plattebut occasionallywhere steep promontories
advanced to the margin of the streamthey were obliged to make
inland circuits. One of these took them through a bold and stern
countrybordered by a range of low mountainsrunning east and
west. Everything around bore traces of some fearful convulsion
of nature in times long past. Hitherto the various strata of rock
had exhibited a gentle elevation toward the southwestbut here
everything appeared to have been subvertedand thrown out of
place. In many places there were heavy beds of white sandstone
resting upon red. Immense strata of rocks jutted up into crags
and cliffs; and sometimes formed perpendicular walls and
overhanging precipices. An air of sterility prevailed over these
savage wastes. The valleys were destitute of herbageand
scantily clothed with a stunted species of wormwoodgenerally
known among traders and trappers by the name of sage. From an
elevated point of their march through this regionthe travellers
caught a beautiful view of the Powder River Mountains away to the
northstretching along the very verge of the horizonand
seemingfrom the snow with which they were mantledto be a
chain of small white cloudsconnecting sky and earth.

Though the thermometer at mid-day ranged from eighty to ninety
and even sometimes rose to ninety-three degreesyet occasional
spots of snow were to be seen on the tops of the low mountains
among which the travellers were journeying; proofs of the great
elevation of the whole region.

The Nebraskain its passage through the Black Hillsis confined
to a much narrower channel than that through which it flows n the
plains below; but it is deeper and clearerand rushes with a
stronger current. The sceneryalsois more varied and
beautiful. Sometimes it glides rapidly but smoothly through a
picturesque valleybetween wooded banks; thenforcing its way
into the bosom of rugged mountainsit rushes impetuously through
narrow defilesroaring and foaming down rocks and rapidsuntil


it is again soothed to rest in some peaceful valley.

On the 12th of JulyCaptain Bonneville abandoned the main stream
of the Nebraskawhich was continually shouldered by rugged
promontoriesand making a bend to the southwestfor a couple of
dayspart of the time over plains of loose sandencamped on the
14th on the banks of the Sweet Watera stream about twenty yards
in breadthand four or five feet deepflowing between low banks
over a sandy soiland forming one of the forks or upper branches
of the Nebraska. Up this stream they now shaped their course for
several successive daystendinggenerallyto the west. The
soil was light and sandy; the country much diversified.
Frequently the plains were studded with isolated blocks of rock
sometimes in the shape of a half globeand from three to four
hundred feet high. These singular masses had occasionally a very
imposingand even sublime appearancerising from the midst of a
savage and lonely landscape.

As the travellers continued to advancethey became more and more
sensible of the elevation of the country. The hills around were
more generally capped with snow. The men complained of cramps and
colicssore lips and mouthsand violent headaches. The
wood-work of the wagons also shrank so much that it was with
difficulty the wheels were kept from falling to pieces. The
country bordering upon the river was frequently gashed with deep
ravinesor traversed by high bluffsto avoid whichthe
travellers were obliged to make wide circuits through the plains.
In the course of thesethey came upon immense herds of buffalo
which kept scouring off in the vanlike a retreating army.

Among the motley retainers of the camp was Tom Caina raw
Irishmanwho officiated as cookwhose various blunders and
expedients in his novel situationand in the wild scenes and
wild kind of life into which he had suddenly been thrownhad
made him a kind of butt or droll of the camp. Tomhoweverbegan
to discover an ambition superior to his station; and the
conversation of the huntersand their stories of their exploits
inspired him with a desire to elevate himself to the dignity of
their order. The buffalo in such immense droves presented a
tempting opportunity for making his first essay. He rodein the
line of marchall prepared for action: his powder-flask and
shot-pouch knowingly slung at the pommel of his saddleto be at
hand; his rifle balanced on his shoulder. While in this plighta
troop of Buffalo came trotting by in great alarm. In an instant
Tom sprang from his horse and gave chase on foot. Finding they
were leaving him behindhe levelled his rifle and pulled [the]
trigger. His shot produced no other effect than to increase the
speed of the buffaloand to frighten his own horsewho took to
his heelsand scampered off with all the ammunition. Tom
scampered after himhallooing with might and mainand the wild
horse and wild Irishman soon disappeared among the ravines of the
prairie. Captain Bonnevillewho was at the head of the lineand
had seen the transaction at a distancedetached a party in
pursuit of Tom. After a long interval they returnedleading the
frightened horse; but though they had scoured the countryand
looked out and shouted from every heightthey had seen nothing
of his rider.

As Captain Bonneville knew Tom's utter awkwardness and
inexperienceand the dangers of a bewildered Irishman in the
midst of a prairiehe halted and encamped at an early hourthat
there might be a regular hunt for him in the morning.

At early dawn on the following day scouts were sent off in every


directionwhile the main bodyafter breakfastproceeded slowly
on its course. It was not until the middle of the afternoon that
the hunters returnedwith honest Tom mounted behind one of them.
They had found him in a complete state of perplexity and
amazement. His appearance caused shouts of merriment in the
camp--but Tom for once could not join in the mirth raised at his
expense: he was completely chapfallenand apparently cured of
the hunting mania for the rest of his life.

5

Magnificent scenery Wind River Mountains Treasury of waters A
stray horse An Indian trail Trout streams The Great Green River
Valley An alarm A band of trappers Fontenellehis
information Sufferings of thirst Encampment on the Seeds-kedee
Strategy of rival traders Fortification of the camp The
Blackfeet Banditti of the mountains Their character and habits

IT WAS ON THE 20TH of July that Captain Bonneville first came in
sight of the grand region of his hopes and anticipationsthe
Rocky Mountains. He had been making a bend to the southto avoid
some obstacles along the riverand had attained a highrocky
ridgewhen a magnificent prospect burst upon his sight. To the
west rose the Wind River Mountainswith their bleached and snowy
summits towering into the clouds. These stretched far to the
north-northwestuntil they melted away into what appeared to be
faint cloudsbut which the experienced eyes of the veteran
hunters of the party recognized for the rugged mountains of the
Yellowstone; at the feet of which extended the wild Crow country:
a perilousthough profitable region for the trapper.

To the southwestthe eye ranged over an immense extent of
wildernesswith what appeared to be a snowy vapor resting upon
its horizon. Thishoweverwas pointed out as another branch of
the Great Chippewyanor Rocky chain; being the Eutaw Mountains
at whose basis the wandering tribe of hunters of the same name
pitch their tents. We can imagine the enthusiasm of the worthy
captain when he beheld the vast and mountainous scene of his
adventurous enterprise thus suddenly unveiled before him. We can
imagine with what feelings of awe and admiration he must have
contemplated the Wind River Sierraor bed of mountains; that
great fountainhead from whose springsand lakesand melted
snows some of those mighty rivers take their risewhich wander
over hundreds of miles of varied country and climeand find
their way to the opposite waves of the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The Wind River Mountains arein factamong the most remarkable
of the whole Rocky chain; and would appear to be among the
loftiest. They formas it werea great bed of mountainsabout
eighty miles in lengthand from twenty to thirty in breadth;
with rugged peakscovered with eternal snowsand deepnarrow
valleys full of springsand brooksand rock-bound lakes. From
this great treasury of waters issue forth limpid streamswhich
augmenting as they descendbecome main tributaries of the
Missouri on the one sideand the Columbia on the other; and give
rise to the Seeds-ke-dee Agieor Green Riverthe great Colorado
of the Westthat empties its current into the Gulf of
California.

The Wind River Mountains are notorious in hunters' and trappers'
stories: their rugged defilesand the rough tracts about their
neighborhoodhaving been lurking places for the predatory hordes


of the mountainsand scenes of rough encounter with Crows and
Blackfeet. It was to the west of these mountainsin the valley
of the Seeds-ke-dee Agieor Green Riverthat Captain Bonneville
intended to make a halt for the purpose of giving repose to his
people and his horses after their weary journeying; and of
collecting information as to his future course. This Green River
valleyand its immediate neighborhoodas we have already
observedformed the main point of rendezvousfor the present
yearof the rival fur companiesand the motley populace
civilized and savageconnected with them. Several days of rugged
travelhoweveryet remained for the captain and his men before
they should encamp in this desired resting-place.

On the 21st of Julyas they were pursuing their course through
one of the meadows of the Sweet Waterthey beheld a horse
grazing at a little distance. He showed no alarm at their
approachbut suffered himself quietly to be takenevincing a
perfect state of tameness. The scouts of the party were instantly
on the look-out for the owners of this animal; lest some
dangerous band of savages might be lurking in the vicinity. After
a narrow searchthey discovered the trail of an Indian party
which had evidently passed through that neighborhood but
recently. The horse was accordingly taken possession ofas an
estray; but a more vigilant watch than usual was kept round the
camp at nightslest his former owners should be upon the prowl.

The travellers had now attained so high an elevation that on the
23d of Julyat daybreakthere was considerable ice in the
waterbucketsand the thermometer stood at twenty-two degrees.
The rarefy of the atmosphere continued to affect the wood-work of
the wagonsand the wheels were incessantly falling to pieces. A
remedy was at length devised. The tire of each wheel was taken
off; a band of wood was nailed round the exterior of the felloes
the tire was then made red hotreplaced round the wheeland
suddenly cooled with water. By this meansthe whole was bound
together with great compactness.

The extreme elevation of these great steppeswhich range along
the feet of the Rocky Mountainstakes away from the seeming
height of their peakswhich yield to few in the known world in
point of altitude above the level of the sea.

On the 24ththe travellers took final leave of the Sweet Water
and keeping westwardlyover a low and very rocky ridgeone of
the most southern spurs of the Wind River Mountainsthey
encampedafter a march of seven hours and a halfon the banks
of a small clear streamrunning to the southin which they
caught a number of fine trout.

The sight of these fish was hailed with pleasureas a sign that
they had reached the waters which flow into the Pacific; for it
is only on the western streams of the Rocky Mountains that trout
are to be taken. The stream on which they had thus encamped
provedin effectto be tributary to the Seeds-ke-dee Agieor
Green Riverinto which it flowed at some distance to the south.

Captain Bonneville now considered himself as having fairly passed
the crest of the Rocky Mountains; and felt some degree of
exultation in being the first individual that had crossednorth
of the settled provinces of Mexicofrom the waters of the
Atlantic to those of the Pacificwith wagons. Mr. William
Sublettethe enterprising leader of the Rocky Mountain Fur
Companyhadtwo or three years previouslyreached the valley
of the Wind Riverwhich lies on the northeast of the mountains;


but had proceeded with them no further.

A vast valley now spread itself before the travellersbounded on
one side by the Wind River Mountainsand to the westby a long
range of high hills. ThisCaptain Bonneville was assured by a
veteran hunter in his companywas the great valley of the
Seedske-dee; and the same informant would have fain persuaded him
that a small streamthree feet deepwhich he came to on the
25thwas that river. The captain was convincedhoweverthat
the stream was too insignificant to drain so wide a valley and
the adjacent mountains: he encampedthereforeat an early hour
on its bordersthat he might take the whole of the next day to
reach the main river; which he presumed to flow between him and
the distant range of western hills.

On the 26th of Julyhe commenced his march at an early hour
making directly across the valleytoward the hills in the west;
proceeding at as brisk a rate as the jaded condition of his
horses would permit. About eleven o'clock in the morninga great
cloud of dust was descried in the rearadvancing directly on the
trail of the party. The alarm was given; they all came to a halt
and held a council of war. Some conjectured that the band of
Indianswhose trail they had discovered in the neighborhood of
the stray horsehad been lying in wait for them in some secret
fastness of the mountains; and were about to attack them on the
open plainwhere they would have no shelter. Preparations were
immediately made for defence; and a scouting party sent off to
reconnoitre. They soon came galloping backmaking signals that
all was well. The cloud of dust was made by a band of fifty or
sixty mounted trappersbelonging to the American Fur Company
who soon came upleading their pack-horses. They were headed by
Mr. Fontenellean experienced leaderor "partisan as a chief
of a party is called in the technical language of the trappers.

Mr. Fontenelle informed Captain Bonneville that he was on his way
from the company's trading post on the Yellowstone to the yearly
rendezvous, with reinforcements and supplies for their hunting
and trading parties beyond the mountains; and that he expected to
meet, by appointment, with a band of free trappers in that very
neighborhood. He had fallen upon the trail of Captain
Bonneville's party, just after leaving the Nebraska; and, finding
that they had frightened off all the game, had been obliged to
push on, by forced marches, to avoid famine: both men and horses
were, therefore, much travel-worn; but this was no place to halt;
the plain before them he said was destitute of grass and water,
neither of which would be met with short of the Green River,
which was yet at a considerable distance. He hoped, he added, as
his party were all on horseback, to reach the river, with hard
travelling, by nightfall: but he doubted the possibility of
Captain Bonneville's arrival there with his wagons before the day
following. Having imparted this information, he pushed forward
with all speed.

Captain Bonneville followed on as fast as circumstances would
permit. The ground was firm and gravelly; but the horses were too
much fatigued to move rapidly. After a long and harassing day's
march, without pausing for a noontide meal, they were compelled,
at nine o'clock at night, to encamp in an open plain, destitute
of water or pasturage. On the following morning, the horses were
turned loose at the peep of day; to slake their thirst, if
possible, from the dew collected on the sparse grass, here and
there springing up among dry sand-banks. The soil of a great part
of this Green River valley is a whitish clay, into which the rain
cannot penetrate, but which dries and cracks with the sun. In


some places it produces a salt weed, and grass along the margins
of the streams; but the wider expanses of it are desolate and
barren. It was not until noon that Captain Bonneville reached the
banks of the Seeds-ke-dee, or Colorado of the West; in the
meantime, the sufferings of both men and horses had been
excessive, and it was with almost frantic eagerness that they
hurried to allay their burning thirst in the limpid current of
the river.

Fontenelle and his party had not fared much better; the chief
part had managed to reach the river by nightfall, but were nearly
knocked up by the exertion; the horses of others sank under them,
and they were obliged to pass the night upon the road.

On the following morning, July 27th, Fontenelle moved his camp
across the river; while Captain Bonneville proceeded some little
distance below, where there was a small but fresh meadow yielding
abundant pasturage. Here the poor jaded horses were turned out to
graze, and take their rest: the weary journey up the mountains
had worn them down in flesh and spirit; but this last march
across the thirsty plain had nearly finished them.

The captain had here the first taste of the boasted strategy of
the fur trade. During his brief, but social encampment, in
company with Fontenelle, that experienced trapper had managed to
win over a number of Delaware Indians whom the captain had
brought with him, by offering them four hundred dollars each for
the ensuing autumnal hunt. The captain was somewhat astonished
when he saw these hunters, on whose services he had calculated
securely, suddenly pack up their traps, and go over to the rival
camp. That he might in some measure, however, be even with his
competitor, he dispatched two scouts to look out for the band of
free trappers who were to meet Fontenelle in this neighborhood,
and to endeavor to bring them to his camp.

As it would be necessary to remain some time in this
neighborhood, that both men and horses might repose, and recruit
their strength; and as it was a region full of danger, Captain
Bonneville proceeded to fortify his camp with breastworks of logs
and pickets.

These precautions were, at that time, peculiarly necessary, from
the bands of Blackfeet Indians which were roving about the
neighborhood. These savages are the most dangerous banditti of
the mountains, and the inveterate foe of the trappers. They are
Ishmaelites of the first order, always with weapon in hand, ready
for action. The young braves of the tribe, who are destitute of
property, go to war for booty; to gain horses, and acquire the
means of setting up a lodge, supporting a family, and entitling
themselves to a seat in the public councils. The veteran warriors
fight merely for the love of the thing, and the consequence which
success gives them among their people.

They are capital horsemen, and are generally well mounted on
short, stout horses, similar to the prairie ponies to be met with
at St. Louis. When on a war party, however, they go on foot, to
enable them to skulk through the country with greater secrecy; to
keep in thickets and ravines, and use more adroit subterfuges and
stratagems. Their mode of warfare is entirely by ambush,
surprise, and sudden assaults in the night time. If they succeed
in causing a panic, they dash forward with headlong fury: if the
enemy is on the alert, and shows no signs of fear, they become
wary and deliberate in their movements.


Some of them are armed in the primitive style, with bows and
arrows; the greater part have American fusees, made after the
fashion of those of the Hudson's Bay Company. These they procure
at the trading post of the American Fur Company, on Marias River,
where they traffic their peltries for arms, ammunition, clothing,
and trinkets. They are extremely fond of spirituous liquors and
tobacco; for which nuisances they are ready to exchange not
merely their guns and horses, but even their wives and daughters.
As they are a treacherous race, and have cherished a lurking
hostility to the whites ever since one of their tribe was killed
by Mr. Lewis, the associate of General Clarke, in his exploring
expedition across the Rocky Mountains, the American Fur Company
is obliged constantly to keep at that post a garrison of sixty or
seventy men.

Under the general name of Blackfeet are comprehended several
tribes: such as the Surcies, the Peagans, the Blood Indians, and
the Gros Ventres of the Prairies: who roam about the southern
branches of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, together with
some other tribes further north.

The bands infesting the Wind River Mountains and the country
adjacent at the time of which we are treating, were Gros Ventres
of the Prairies, which are not to be confounded with Gros Ventres
of the Missouri, who keep about the lower part of that river, and
are friendly to the white men.

This hostile band keeps about the headwaters of the Missouri, and
numbers about nine hundred fighting men. Once in the course of
two or three years they abandon their usual abodes, and make a
visit to the Arapahoes of the Arkansas. Their route lies either
through the Crow country, and the Black Hills, or through the
lands of the Nez Perces, Flatheads, Bannacks, and Shoshonies. As
they enjoy their favorite state of hostility with all these
tribes, their expeditions are prone to be conducted in the most
lawless and predatory style; nor do they hesitate to extend their
maraudings to any party of white men they meet with; following
their trails; hovering about their camps; waylaying and dogging
the caravans of the free traders, and murdering the solitary
trapper. The consequences are frequent and desperate fights
between them and the mountaineers in the wild defiles and
fastnesses of the Rocky Mountains.

The band in question was, at this time, on their way homeward
from one of their customary visits to the Arapahoes; and in the
ensuing chapter we shall treat of some bloody encounters between
them and the trappers, which had taken place just before the
arrival of Captain Bonneville among the mountains.

6

Sublette and his band Robert Campbell Mr. Wyeth and a band of
down-easters" Yankee enterprise Fitzpatrick His adventure with
the Blackfeet A rendezvous of mountaineers The battle of Pierre's

Hole An Indian ambuscade Sublette's return

LEAVING CAPTAIN BONNEVILLE and his band ensconced within their
fortified camp in the Green River valleywe shall step back and
accompany a party of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company in its


progresswith supplies from St. Louisto the annual rendezvous
at Pierre's Hole. This party consisted of sixty menwell
mountedand conducting a line of packhorses. They were commanded
by Captain William Sublettea partner in the companyand one of
the most activeintrepidand renowned leaders in this half
military kind of service. He was accompanied by his associate in
businessand tried companion in dangerMr. Robert Campbellone
of the pioneers of the trade beyond the mountainswho had
commanded trapping parties there in times of the greatest peril.

As these worthy compeers were on their route to the frontier
they fell in with another expeditionlikewise on its way to the
mountains. This was a party of regular "down-easters that is to
say, people of New England, who, with the all-penetrating and
all-pervading spirit of their race, were now pushing their way
into a new field of enterprise with which they were totally
unacquainted. The party had been fitted out and was maintained
and commanded by Mr. Nathaniel J. Wyeth, of Boston. This
gentleman had conceived an idea that a profitable fishery for
salmon might be established on the Columbia River, and connected
with the fur trade. He had, accordingly, invested capital in
goods, calculated, as he supposed, for the Indian trade, and had
enlisted a number of eastern men in his employ, who had never
been in the Far West, nor knew anything of the wilderness. With
these, he was bravely steering his way across the continent,
undismayed by danger, difficulty, or distance, in the same way
that a New England coaster and his neighbors will coolly launch
forth on a voyage to the Black Sea, or a whaling cruise to the
Pacific.

With all their national aptitude at expedient and resource, Wyeth
and his men felt themselves completely at a loss when they
reached the frontier, and found that the wilderness required
experience and habitudes of which they were totally deficient.
Not one of the party, excepting the leader, had ever seen an
Indian or handled a rifle; they were without guide or
interpreter, and totally unacquainted with wood craft" and the
modes of making their way among savage hordesand subsisting
themselves during long marches over wild mountains and barren
plains.

In this predicamentCaptain Sublette found themin a manner
becalmedor rather run agroundat the little frontier town of
Independencein Missouriand kindly took them in tow. The two
parties travelled amicably together; the frontier men of
Sublette's party gave their Yankee comrades some lessons in
huntingand some insight into the art and mystery of dealing
with the Indiansand they all arrived without accident at the
upper branches of the Nebraska or Platte River.

In the course of their marchMr. Fitzpatrickthe partner of the
company who was resident at that time beyond the mountainscame
down from the rendezvous at Pierre's Hole to meet them and hurry
them forward. He travelled in company with them until they
reached the Sweet Water; then taking a couple of horsesone for
the saddleand the other as a pack-horsehe started off express
for Pierre's Holeto make arrangements against their arrival
that he might commence his hunting campaign before the rival
company.

Fitzpatrick was a hardy and experienced mountaineerand knew all
the passes and defiles. As he was pursuing his lonely course up
the Green River valleyhe described several horsemen at a
distanceand came to a halt to reconnoitre. He supposed them to


be some detachment from the rendezvousor a party of friendly
Indians. They perceived himand setting up the war-whoopdashed
forward at full speed: he saw at once his mistake and his
peril--they were Blackfeet. Springing upon his fleetest horse
and abandoning the other to the enemyhe made for the mountains
and succeeded in escaping up one of the most dangerous defiles.
Here he concealed himself until he thought the Indians had gone
offwhen he returned into the valley. He was again pursuedlost
his remaining horseand only escaped by scrambling up among the
cliffs. For several days he remained lurking among rocks and
precipicesand almost famishedhaving but one remaining charge
in his riflewhich he kept for self-defence.

In the meantimeSublette and Campbellwith their fellow
travellerWyethhad pursued their march unmolestedand arrived
in the Green River valleytotally unconscious that there was any
lurking enemy at hand. They had encamped one night on the banks
of a small streamwhich came down from the Wind River Mountains
when about midnighta band of Indians burst upon their camp
with horrible yells and whoopsand a discharge of guns and
arrows. Happily no other harm was done than wounding one mule
and causing several horses to break loose from their pickets. The
camp was instantly in arms; but the Indians retreated with yells
of exultationcarrying off several of the horses under cover of
the night.

This was somewhat of a disagreeable foretaste of mountain life to
some of Wyeth's bandaccustomed only to the regular and peaceful
life of New England; nor was it altogether to the taste of
Captain Sublette's menwho were chiefly creoles and townsmen
from St. Louis. They continued their march the next morning
keeping scouts ahead and upon their flanksand arrived without
further molestation at Pierre's Hole.

The first inquiry of Captain Subletteon reaching the
rendezvouswas for Fitzpatrick. He had not arrivednor had any
intelligence been received concerning him. Great uneasiness was
now entertainedlest he should have fallen into the hands of the
Blackfeet who had made the midnight attack upon the camp. It was
a matter of general joythereforewhen he made his appearance
conducted by two half-breed Iroquois hunters. He had lurked for
several days among the mountainsuntil almost starved; at length
he escaped the vigilance of his enemies in the nightand was so
fortunate as to meet the two Iroquois hunterswhobeing on
horsebackconveyed him without further difficulty to the
rendezvous. He arrived there so emaciated that he could scarcely
be recognized.

The valley called Pierre's Hole is about thirty miles in length
and fifteen in widthbounded to the west and south by low and
broken ridgesand overlooked to the east by three lofty
mountainscalled the three Tetonswhich domineer as landmarks
over a vast extent of country.

A fine streamfed by rivulets and mountain springspours
through the valley toward the northdividing it into nearly
equal parts. The meadows on its borders are broad and extensive
covered with willow and cotton-wood treesso closely interlocked
and matted together as to be nearly impassable.

In this valley was congregated the motley populace connected with
the fur trade. Here the two rival companies had their
encampmentswith their retainers of all kinds: traders
trappershuntersand half-breedsassembled from all quarters


awaiting their yearly suppliesand their orders to start off in
new directions. Herealsothe savage tribes connected with the
tradethe Nez Perces or Chopunnish Indiansand Flatheadshad
pitched their lodges beside the streamsand with their squaws
awaited the distribution of goods and finery. There was
moreovera band of fifteen free trapperscommanded by a gallant
leader from Arkansasnamed Sinclairwho held their encampment a
little apart from the rest. Such was the wild and heterogeneous
assemblageamounting to several hundred mencivilized and
savagedistributed in tents and lodges in the several camps.

The arrival of Captain Sublette with supplies put the Rocky
Mountain Fur Company in full activity. The wares and merchandise
were quickly openedand as quickly disposed of to trappers and
Indians; the usual excitement and revelry took placeafter which
all hands began to disperse to their several destinations.

On the 17th of Julya small brigade of fourteen trappersled by
Milton Sublettebrother of the captainset out with the
intention of proceeding to the southwest. They were accompanied
by Sinclair and his fifteen free trappers; Wyethalsoand his
New England band of beaver hunters and salmon fishersnow
dwindled down to eleventook this opportunity to prosecute their
cruise in the wildernessaccompanied with such experienced
pilots. On the first daythey proceeded about eight miles to the
southeastand encamped for the nightstill in the valley of
Pierre's Hole. On the following morningjust as they were
raising their campthey observed a long line of people pouring
down a defile of the mountains. They at first supposed them to be
Fontenelle and his partywhose arrival had been daily expected.
Wyethhoweverreconnoitred them with a spy-glassand soon
perceived they were Indians. They were divided into two parties
formingin the wholeabout one hundred and fifty personsmen
womenand children. Some were on horsebackfantastically
painted and arrayedwith scarlet blankets fluttering in the
wind. The greater parthoweverwere on foot. They had perceived
the trappers before they were themselves discoveredand came
down yelling and whooping into the plain. On nearer approach
they were ascertained to be Blackfeet.

One of the trappers of Sublette's brigadea half-breed named
Antoine Godinnow mounted his horseand rode forth as if to
hold a conference. He was the son of an Iroquois hunterwho had
been cruelly murdered by the Blackfeet at a small stream below
the mountainswhich still bears his name. In company with
Antoine rode forth a Flathead Indianwhose once powerful tribe
had been completely broken down in their wars with the Blackfeet.
Both of themthereforecherished the most vengeful hostility
against these marauders of the mountains. The Blackfeet came to a
halt. One of the chiefs advanced singly and unarmedbearing the
pipe of peace. This overture was certainly pacific; but Antoine
and the Flathead were predisposed to hostilityand pretended to
consider it a treacherous movement.

Is your piece charged?said Antoine to his red companion.

It is.

Then cock it, and follow me.

They met the Blackfoot chief half waywho extended his hand in
friendship. Antoine grasped it.

Fire! cried he.


The Flathead levelled his pieceand brought the Blackfoot to the
ground. Antoine snatched off his scarlet blanketwhich was
richly ornamentedand galloped off with it as a trophy to the
campthe bullets of the enemy whistling after him. The Indians
immediately threw themselves into the edge of a swampamong
willows and cotton-wood treesinterwoven with vines. Here they
began to fortify themselves; the women digging a trenchand
throwing up a breastwork of logs and branchesdeep hid in the
bosom of the woodwhile the warriors skirmished at the edge to
keep the trappers at bay.

The latter took their station in a ravine in frontwhence they
kept up a scattering fire. As to Wyethand his little band of
downeasters,they were perfectly astounded by this second
specimen of life in the wilderness; the menbeing especially
unused to bushfighting and the use of the riflewere at a loss
how to proceed. Wyethhoweveracted as a skilful commander. He
got all his horses into camp and secured them; thenmaking a
breastwork of his packs of goodshe charged his men to remain in
garrisonand not to stir out of their fort. For himselfhe
mingled with the other leadersdetermined to take his share in
the conflict.

In the meantimean express had been sent off to the rendezvous
for reinforcements. Captain Subletteand his associate
Campbellwere at their camp when the express came galloping
across the plainwaving his capand giving the alarm;
Blackfeet! Blackfeet! a fight in the upper part of the
valley!--to arms! to arms!

The alarm was passed from camp to camp. It was a common cause.
Every one turned out with horse and rifle. The Nez Perces and
Flatheads joined. As fast as horseman could arm and mount he
galloped off; the valley was soon alive with white men and red
men scouring at full speed.

Sublette ordered his men to keep to the campbeing recruits from
St. Louisand unused to Indian warfare. He and his friend
Campbell prepared for action. Throwing off their coatsrolling
up their sleevesand arming themselves with pistols and rifles
they mounted their horses and dashed forward among the first. As
they rode alongthey made their wills in soldier-like style;
each stating how his effects should be disposed of in case of his
deathand appointing the other his executor.

The Blackfeet warriors had supposed the brigade of Milton
Sublette all the foes they had to deal withand were astonished
to behold the whole valley suddenly swarming with horsemen
galloping to the field of action. They withdrew into their fort
which was completely hid from sight in the dark and tangled wood.
Most of their women and children had retreated to the mountains.
The trappers now sallied forth and approached the swampfiring
into the thickets at random; the Blackfeet had a better sight at
their adversarieswho were in the open fieldand a half-breed
was wounded in the shoulder.

When Captain Sublette arrivedhe urged to penetrate the swamp
and storm the fortbut all hung back in awe of the dismal
horrors of the placeand the danger of attacking such
desperadoes in their savage den. The very Indian alliesthough
accustomed to bushfightingregarded it as almost impenetrable
and full of frightful danger. Sublette was not to be turned from
his purposebut offered to lead the way into the swamp. Campbell


stepped forward to accompany him. Before entering the perilous
woodSublette took his brothers asideand told them that in
case he fellCampbellwho knew his willwas to be his
executor. This donehe grasped his rifle and pushed into the
thicketsfollowed by Campbell. Sinclairthe partisan from
Arkansaswas at the edge of the wood with his brother and a few
of his men. Excited by the gallant example of the two friendshe
pressed forward to share their dangers.

The swamp was produced by the labors of the beaverwhichby
damming up a streamhad inundated a portion of the valley. The
place was all overgrown with woods and thicketsso closely
matted and entangled that it was impossible to see ten paces
aheadand the three associates in peril had to crawl alongone
after anothermaking their way by putting the branches and vines
aside; but doing it with cautionlest they should attract the
eye of some lurking marksman. They took the lead by turnseach
advancing about twenty yards at a timeand now and then
hallooing to their men to follow. Some of the latter gradually
entered the swampand followed a little distance in their rear.

They had now reached a more open part of the woodand had
glimpses of the rude fortress from between the trees. It was a
mere breastworkas we have saidof logs and brancheswith
blanketsbuffalo robesand the leathern covers of lodges
extended round the top as a screen. The movements of the leaders
as they groped their wayhad been descried by the sharp-sighted
enemy. As Sinclairwho was in the advancewas putting some
branches asidehe was shot through the body. He fell on the
spot. "Take me to my brother'' said he to Campbell. The latter
gave him in charge to some of the menwho conveyed him out of
the swamp.

Sublette now took the advance. As he was reconnoitring the fort
he perceived an Indian peeping through an aperture. In an instant
his rifle was levelled and dischargedand the ball struck the
savage in the eye. While he was reloadinghe called to Campbell
and pointed out to him the hole; "Watch that place said he,
and you will soon have a fair chance for a shot." Scarce had he
uttered the wordswhen a ball struck him in the shoulderand
almost wheeled him around. His first thought was to take hold of
his arm with his other handand move it up and down. He
ascertainedto his satisfactionthat the bone was not broken.
The next moment he was so faint that he could not stand. Campbell
took him in his arms and carried him out of the thicket. The same
shot that struck Sublette wounded another man in the head.

A brisk fire was now opened by the mountaineers from the wood
answered occasionally from the fort. Unluckilythe trappers and
their alliesin searching for the forthad got scatteredso
that Wyethand a number of Nez Percesapproached the fort on
the northwest sidewhile others did the same on the opposite
quarter. A cross-fire thus took placewhich occasionally did
mischief to friends as well as foes. An Indian was shot down
close to Wyethby a ball whichhe was convincedhad been sped
from the rifle of a trapper on the other side of the fort.

The number of whites and their Indian allies had by this time so
much increased by arrivals from the rendezvousthat the
Blackfeet were completely overmatched. They kept doggedly in
their forthowevermaking no offer of surrender. An occasional
firing into the breastwork was kept up during the day. Now and
thenone of the Indian alliesin bravadowould rush up to the
fortfire over the rampartstear off a buffalo robe or a


scarlet blanketand return with it in triumph to his comrades.
Most of the savage garrison that fellhoweverwere killed in
the first part of the attack.

At one time it was resolved to set fire to the fort; and the
squaws belonging to the allies were employed to collect
combustibles. This howeverwas abandoned; the Nez Perces being
unwilling to destroy the robes and blanketsand other spoils of
the enemywhich they felt sure would fall into their hands.

The Indianswhen fightingare prone to taunt and revile each
other. During one of the pauses of the battlethe voice of the
Blackfeet chief was heard.

So long,said heas we had powder and ball, we fought you in
the open field: when those were spent, we retreated here to die
with our women and children. You may burn us in our fort; but,
stay by our ashes, and you who are so hungry for fighting will
soon have enough. There are four hundred lodges of our brethren
at hand. They will soon be here--their arms are strong--their
hearts are big--they will avenge us!

This speech was translated two or three times by Nez Perce and
creole interpreters. By the time it was rendered into English
the chief was made to say that four hundred lodges of his tribe
were attacking the encampment at the other end of the valley.
Every one now was for hurrying to the defence of the rendezvous.
A party was left to keep watch upon the fort; the rest galloped
off to the camp. As night came onthe trappers drew out of the
swampand remained about the skirts of the wood. By morning
their companions returned from the rendezvous with the report
that all was safe. As the day openedthey ventured within the
swamp and approached the fort. All was silent. They advanced up
to it without opposition. They entered: it had been abandoned in
the nightand the Blackfeet had effected their retreatcarrying
off their wounded on litters made of branchesleaving bloody
traces on the herbage. The bodies of ten Indians were found
within the fort; among them the one shot in the eye by Sublette.
The Blackfeet afterward reported that they had lost twenty-six
warriors in this battle. Thirty-two horses were likewise found
killed; among them were some of those recently carried off from
Sublette's partyin the night; which showed that these were the
very savages that had attacked him. They proved to be an advance
party of the main body of Blackfeetwhich had been upon the
trail of Sublette's party. Five white men and one halfbreed were
killedand several wounded. Seven of the Nez Perces were also
killedand six wounded. They had an old chiefwho was reputed
as invulnerable. In the course of the action he was hit by a
spent balland threw up blood; but his skin was unbroken. His
people were now fully convinced that he was proof against powder
and ball.

A striking circumstance is related as having occurred the morning
after the battle. As some of the trappers and their Indian allies
were approaching the fort through the woodsthey beheld an
Indian womanof noble form and featuresleaning against a tree.
Their surprise at her lingering here aloneto fall into the
hands of her enemieswas dispelledwhen they saw the corpse of
a warrior at her feet. Either she was so lost in grief as not to
perceive their approach; or a proud spirit kept her silent and
motionless. The Indians set up a yellon discovering herand
before the trappers could interfereher mangled body fell upon
the corpse which she had refused to abandon. We have heard this
anecdote discredited by one of the leaders who had been in the


battle: but the fact may have taken place without his seeing it
and been concealed from him. It is an instance of female
devotioneven to the deathwhich we are well disposed to
believe and to record.

After the battlethe brigade of Milton Sublettetogether with
the free trappersand Wyeth's New England bandremained some
days at the rendezvousto see if the main body of Blackfeet
intended to make an attack; nothing of the kind occurringthey
once more put themselves in motionand proceeded on their route
toward the southwest. Captain Sublette having distributed his
supplieshad intended to set off on his return to St. Louis
taking with him the peltries collected from the trappers and
Indians. His woundhowever obliged him to postpone his
departure. Several who were to have accompanied him became
impatient of this delay. Among these was a young BostonianMr.
Joseph Moreone of the followers of Mr. Wyethwho had seen
enough of mountain life and savage warfareand was eager to
return to the abodes of civilization. He and six othersamong
whom were a Mr. Foyof MississippiMr. Alfred K. Stephensof
St. Louisand two grandsons of the celebrated Daniel Boonset
out togetherin advance of Sublette's partythinking they would
make their way through the mountains.

It was just five days after the battle of the swamp that these
seven companions were making their way through Jackson's Holea
valley not far from the three Tetonswhenas they were
descending a hilla party of Blackfeet that lay in ambush
started up with terrific yells. The horse of the young Bostonian
who was in frontwheeled round with affrightand threw his
unskilled rider. The young man scrambled up the side of the hill
butunaccustomed to such wild sceneslost his presence of mind
and stoodas if paralyzedon the edge of a bankuntil the
Blackfeet came up and slew him on the spot. His comrades had fled
on the first alarm; but two of themFoy and Stephensseeing his
dangerpaused when they got half way up the hillturned back
dismountedand hastened to his assistance. Foy was instantly
killed. Stephens was severely woundedbut escapedto die five
days afterward. The survivors returned to the camp of Captain
Sublettebringing tidings of this new disaster. That hardy
leaderas soon as he could bear the journeyset out on his
return to St. Louisaccompanied by Campbell. As they had a
number of pack-horses richly laden with peltries to convoythey
chose a different route through the mountainsout of the wayas
they hopedof the lurking bands of Blackfeet. They succeeded in
making the frontier in safety. We remember to have seen them with
their bandabout two or three months afterwardpassing through
a skirt of woodland in the upper part of Missouri. Their long
cavalcade stretched in single file for nearly half a mile.
Sublette still wore his arm in a sling. The mountaineers in their
rude hunting dressesarmed with rifles and roughly mountedand
leading their pack-horses down a hill of the forestlooked like
banditti returning with plunder. On the top of some of the packs
were perched several half-breed childrenperfect little imps
with wild black eyes glaring from among elf locks. TheseI was
toldwere children of the trappers; pledges of love from their
squaw spouses in the wilderness.

7.
Retreat of the Blackfeet Fontenelle's camp in danger Captain
Bonneville and the Blackfeet Free trappers Their character



habitsdressequipmentshorses Game fellows of the mountains
Their visit to the camp Good fellowship and good cheer A
carouse A swaggera brawland a reconciliation

THE BLACKFEET WARRIORSwhen they effected their midnight retreat
from their wild fastness in Pierre's Holefell back into the
valley of the Seeds-ke-deeor Green River where they joined the
main body of their band. The whole force amounted to several
hundred fighting mengloomy and exasperated by their late
disaster. They had with them their wives and childrenwhich
incapacitated them from any bold and extensive enterprise of a
warlike nature; but whenin the course of their wanderings they
came in sight of the encampment of Fontenellewho had moved some
distance up Green River valley in search of the free trappers
they put up tremendous war-criesand advanced fiercely as if to
attack it. Second thoughts caused them to moderate their fury.
They recollected the severe lesson just receivedand could not
but remark the strength of Fontenelle's position; which had been
chosen with great judgment.

A formal talk ensued. The Blackfeet said nothing of the late
battleof which Fontenelle had as yet received no accounts; the
latterhoweverknew the hostile and perfidious nature of these
savagesand took care to inform them of the encampment of
Captain Bonnevillethat they might know there were more white
men in the neighborhood. The conference endedFontenelle sent a
Delaware Indian of his party to conduct fifteen of the Blackfeet
to the camp of Captain Bonneville. There was [sic] at that time
two Crow Indians in the captain's campwho had recently arrived
there. They looked with dismay at this deputation from their
implacable enemiesand gave the captain a terrible character of
themassuring him that the best thing he could possibly dowas
to put those Blackfeet deputies to death on the spot. The
captainhoweverwho had heard nothing of the conflict at
Pierre's Holedeclined all compliance with this sage counsel. He
treated the grim warriors with his usual urbanity. They passed
some little time at the camp; sawno doubtthat everything was
conducted with military skill and vigilance; and that such an
enemy was not to be easily surprisednor to be molested with
impunityand then departedto report all that they had seen to
their comrades.

The two scouts which Captain Bonneville had sent out to seek for
the band of free trappersexpected by Fontenelleand to invite
them to his camphad been successful in their searchand on the
12th of August those worthies made their appearance.

To explain the meaning of the appellationfree trapperit is
necessary to state the terms on which the men enlist in the
service of the fur companies. Some have regular wagesand are
furnished with weaponshorsestrapsand other requisites.
These are under commandand bound to do every duty required of
them connected with the service; such as huntingtrapping
loading and unloading the horsesmounting guard; andin short
all the drudgery of the camp. These are the hired trappers.

The free trappers are a more independent class; and in describing
themwe shall do little more than transcribe the graphic
description of them by Captain Bonneville. "They come and go
says he, when and where they please; provide their own horses
armsand other equipments; trap and trade on their own account
and dispose of their skins and peltries to the highest bidder.
Sometimesin a dangerous hunting groundthey attach themselves
to the camp of some trader for protection. Here they come under


some restrictions; they have to conform to the ordinary rules for
trappingand to submit to such restraintsand to take part in
such general dutiesas are established for the good order and
safety of the camp. In return for this protectionand for their
camp keepingthey are bound to dispose of all the beaver they
taketo the trader who commands the campat a certain rate per
skin; orshould they prefer seeking a market elsewherethey are
to make him an allowanceof from thirty to forty dollars for the
whole hunt."

There is an inferior orderwhoeither from prudence or poverty
come to these dangerous hunting grounds without horses or
accoutrementsand are furnished by the traders. Theselike the
hired trappersare bound to exert themselves to the utmost in
taking beaverwhichwithout skinningthey render in at the
trader's lodgewhere a stipulated price for each is placed to
their credit. These though generally included in the generic name
of free trappershave the more specific title of skin trappers.

The wandering whites who mingle for any length of time with the
savages have invariably a proneness to adopt savage habitudes;
but none more so than the free trappers. It is a matter of vanity
and ambition with them to discard everything that may bear the
stamp of civilized lifeand to adopt the mannershabitsdress
gestureand even walk of the Indian. You cannot pay a free
trapper a greater complimentthan to persuade him you have
mistaken him for an Indian brave; andin truththe counterfeit
is complete. His hair suffered to attain to a great lengthis
carefully combed outand either left to fall carelessly over his
shouldersor plaited neatly and tied up in otter skinsor
parti-colored ribands. A hunting-shirt of ruffled calico of
bright dyesor of ornamented leatherfalls to his knee; below
whichcuriously fashioned leggingornamented with strings
fringesand a profusion of hawks' bellsreach to a costly pair
of moccasons of the finest Indian fabricrichly embroidered with
beads. A blanket of scarletor some other bright colorhangs
from his shouldersand is girt around his waist with a red sash
in which he bestows his pistolsknifeand the stem of his
Indian pipe; preparations either for peace or war. His gun is
lavishly decorated with brass tacks and vermilionand provided
with a fringed coveroccasionally of buckskinornamented here
and there with a feather. His horsethe noble minister to the
pridepleasureand profit of the mountaineeris selected for
his speed and spiritand prancing gaitand holds a place in his
estimation second only to himself. He shares largely of his
bountyand of his pride and pomp of trapping. He is caparisoned
in the most dashing and fantastic style; the bridles and crupper
are weightily embossed with beads and cockades; and headmane
and tailare interwoven with abundance of eagles' plumeswhich
flutter in the wind. To complete this grotesque equipmentthe
proud animal is bestreaked and bespotted with vermilionor with
white claywhichever presents the most glaring contrast to his
real color.

Such is the account given by Captain Bonneville of these rangers
of the wildernessand their appearance at the camp was
strikingly characteristic. They came dashing forward at full
speedfiring their fuseesand yelling in Indian style. Their
dark sunburned facesand long flowing hairtheir legging
flapsmoccasonsand richly-dyed blanketsand their painted
horses gaudily caparisonedgave them so much the air and
appearance of Indiansthat it was difficult to persuade one's
self that they were white menand had been brought up in
civilized life.


Captain Bonnevillewho was delighted with the game look of these
cavaliers of the mountainswelcomed them heartily to his camp
and ordered a free allowance of grog to regale themwhich soon
put them in the most braggart spirits. They pronounced the
captain the finest fellow in the worldand his men all bons
gar‡onsjovial ladsand swore they would pass the day with
them. They did so; and a day it wasof boastand swaggerand
rodomontade. The prime bullies and braves among the free trappers
had each his circle of novicesfrom among the captain's band;
mere greenhornsmen unused to Indian life; mangeurs de lardor
pork-eaters; as such new-comers are superciliously called by the
veterans of the wilderness. These he would astonish and delight
by the hourwith prodigious tales of his doings among the
Indians; and of the wonders he had seenand the wonders he had
performedin his adventurous peregrinations among the mountains.

In the eveningthe free trappers drew offand returned to the
camp of Fontenellehighly delighted with their visit and with
their new acquaintancesand promising to return the following
day. They kept their word: day after day their visits were
repeated; they became "hail fellow well met" with Captain
Bonneville's men; treat after treat succeededuntil both parties
got most potently convincedor rather confoundedby liquor. Now
came on confusion and uproar. The free trappers were no longer
suffered to have all the swagger to themselves. The camp bullies
and prime trappers of the party began to ruffle upand to brag
in turnof their perils and achievements. Each now tried to
out-boast and out-talk the other; a quarrel ensued as a matter of
courseand a general fightaccording to frontier usage. The two
factions drew out their forces for a pitched battle. They fell to
work and belabored each other with might and main; kicks and
cuffs and dry blows were as well bestowed as they were well
meriteduntilhaving fought to their hearts' contentand been
drubbed into a familiar acquaintance with each other's prowess
and good qualitiesthey ended the fight by becoming firmer
friends than they could have been rendered by a year's peaceable
companionship.

While Captain Bonneville amused himself by observing the habits
and characteristics of this singular class of menand indulged
themfor the timein all their vagarieshe profited by the
opportunity to collect from them information concerning the
different parts of the country about which they had been
accustomed to range; the characters of the tribesandin short
everything important to his enterprise. He also succeeded in
securing the services of several to guide and aid him in his
peregrinations among the mountainsand to trap for him during
the ensuing season. Having strengthened his party with such
valuable recruitshe felt in some measure consoled for the loss
of the Delaware Indiansdecoyed from him by Mr Fontenelle.

8.
Plans for the winter Salmon River Abundance of salmon west of the
mountains New arrangements Caches Cerre's detachment Movements

in Fontenelle's camp Departure of the Blackfeet Their
fortunes Wind Mountain streams Buckeyethe Delaware hunterand
the grizzly bear Bones of murdered travellers Visit to Pierre's
Hole Traces of the battle Nez Perce Indians Arrival at Salmon
River



THE INFORMATION derived from the free trappers determined Captain
Bonneville as to his further movements. He learned that in the
Green River valley the winters were severethe snow frequently
falling to the depth of several feet; and that there was no good
wintering ground in the neighborhood. The upper part of Salmon
River was represented as far more eligiblebesides being in an
excellent beaver country; and thither the captain resolved to
bend his course.

The Salmon River is one of the upper branches of the Oregon or
Columbia; and takes its rise from various sourcesamong a group
of mountains to the northwest of the Wind River chain. It owes
its name to the immense shoals of salmon which ascend it in the
months of September and October. The salmon on the west side of
the Rocky Mountains arelike the buffalo on the eastern plains
vast migratory supplies for the wants of manthat come and go
with the seasons. As the buffalo in countless throngs find their
certain way in the transient pasturage on the prairiesalong the
fresh banks of the riversand up every valley and green defile
of the mountainsso the salmonat their allotted seasons
regulated by a sublime and all-seeing Providenceswarm in
myriads up the great riversand find their way up their main
branchesand into the minutest tributory streams; so as to
pervade the great arid plainsand to penetrate even among barren
mountains. Thus wandering tribes are fed in the desert places of
the wildernesswhere there is no herbage for the animals of the
chaseand wherebut for these periodical suppliesit would be
impossible for man to subsist.

The rapid currents of the rivers which run into the Pacific
render the ascent of them very exhausting to the salmon. When the
fish first run up the riversthey are fat and in fine order. The
struggle against impetuous streams and frequent rapids gradually
renders them thin and weakand great numbers are seen floating
down the rivers on their backs. As the season advances and the
water becomes chilledthey are flung in myriads on the shores
where the wolves and bears assemble to banquet on them. Often
they rot in such quantities along the river banks as to taint the
atmosphere. They are commonly from two to three feet long.

Captain Bonneville now made his arrangements for the autumn and
the winter. The nature of the country through which he was about
to travel rendered it impossible to proceed with wagons. He had
more goods and supplies of various kindsalsothan were
required for present purposesor than could be conveniently
transported on horseback; aidedthereforeby a few confidential
menhe made cachesor secret pitsduring the nightwhen all
the rest of the camp were asleepand in these deposited the
superfluous effectstogether with the wagons. All traces of the
caches were then carefully obliterated. This is a common
expedient with the traders and trappers of the mountains. Having
no established posts and magazinesthey make these caches or
deposits at certain pointswhither they repairoccasionally
for supplies. It is an expedient derived from the wandering
tribes of Indians.

Many of the horses were still so weak and lameas to be unfit
for a long scramble through the mountains. These were collected
into one cavalcadeand given in charge to an experienced
trapperof the name of Matthieu. He was to proceed westward
with a brigade of trappersto Bear River; a stream to the west
of the Green River or Coloradowhere there was good pasturage
for the horses. In this neighborhood it was expected he would
meet the Shoshonie villages or bandson their yearly migrations


with whom he was to trade for peltries and provisions. After he
had traded with these peoplefinished his trappingand
recruited the strength of the horseshe was to proceed to Salmon
River and rejoin Captain Bonnevillewho intended to fix his
quarters there for the winter.

While these arrangements were in progress in the camp of Captain
Bonnevillethere was a sudden bustle and stir in the camp of
Fontenelle. One of the partners of the American Fur Company had
arrivedin all hastefrom the rendezvous at Pierre's Holein
quest of the supplies. The competition between the two rival
companies was just now at its heightand prosecuted with unusual
zeal. The tramontane concerns of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company
were managed by two resident partnersFitzpatrick and Bridger;
those of the American Fur Companyby Vanderburgh and Dripps. The
latter were ignorant of the mountain regionsbut trusted to make
up by vigilance and activity for their want of knowledge of the
country.

Fitzpatrickan experienced trader and trapperknew the evils of
competition in the same hunting groundsand had proposed that
the two companies should divide the countryso as to hunt in
different directions: this proposition being rejectedhe had
exerted himself to get first into the field. His exertionsas
have already been shownwere effectual. The early arrival of
Sublettewith supplieshad enabled the various brigades of the
Rocky Mountain Company to start off to their respective hunting
grounds. Fitzpatrick himselfwith his associateBridgerhad
pushed off with a strong party of trappersfor a prime beaver
country to the north-northwest.

This had put Vanderburgh upon his mettle. He had hastened on to
meet Fontenelle. Finding him at his camp in Green River valley
he immediately furnished himself with the supplies; put himself
at the head of the free trappers and Delawaresand set off with
all speeddetermined to follow hard upon the heels of
Fitzpatrick and Bridger. Of the adventures of these parties among
the mountainsand the disastrous effects of their competition
we shall have occasion to treat in a future chapter.

Fontenelle having now delivered his supplies and accomplished his
errandstruck his tents and set off on his return to the
Yellowstone. Captain Bonneville and his bandthereforeremained
alone in the Green River valley; and their situation might have
been periloushad the Blackfeet band still lingered in the
vicinity. Those maraudershoweverhad been dismayed at finding
so many resolute and well-appointed parties of white men in the
neighborhood. They hadthereforeabandoned this part of the
countrypassing over the headwaters of the Green Riverand
bending their course towards the Yellowstone. Misfortune pursued
them. Their route lay through the country of their deadly
enemiesthe Crows. In the Wind River valleywhich lies east of
the mountainsthey were encountered by a powerful war party of
that tribeand completely put to rout. Forty of them were
killedmany of their women and children capturedand the
scattered fugitives hunted like wild beasts until they were
completely chased out of the Crow country.

On the 22d of August Captain Bonneville broke up his campand
set out on his route for Salmon River. His baggage was arranged
in packsthree to a muleor pack-horse; one being disposed on
each side of the animal and one on the top; the three forming a
load of from one hundred and eighty to two hundred and twenty
pounds. This is the trappers' style of loading pack-horses; his


menhoweverwere inexpert at adjusting the packswhich were
prone to get loose and slip offso that it was necessary to keep
a rear-guard to assist in reloading. A few days' experience
howeverbrought them into proper training.

Their march lay up the valley of the Seeds-ke-deeoverlooked to
the right by the lofty peaks of the Wind River Mountains. From
bright little lakes and fountain-heads of this remarkable bed of
mountains poured forth the tributary streams of the Seeds-ke-dee.
Some came rushing down gullies and ravines; others tumbled in
crystal cascades from inaccessible clefts and rocksand others
winding their way in rapid and pellucid currents across the
valleyto throw themselves into the main river. So transparent
were these waters that the trout with which they abounded could
be seen gliding about as if in the air; and their pebbly beds
were distinctly visible at the depth of many feet. This beautiful
and diaphanous quality of the Rocky Mountain streams prevails for
a long time after they have mingled their waters and swollen into
important rivers.

Issuing from the upper part of the valleyCaptain Bonneville
continued to the east-northeastacross rough and lofty ridges
and deep rocky defilesextremely fatiguing both to man and
horse. Among his hunters was a Delaware Indian who had remained
faithful to him. His name was Buckeye. He had often prided
himself on his skill and success in coping with the grizzly bear
that terror of the hunters. Though crippled in the left armhe
declared he had no hesitation to close with a wounded bearand
attack him with a sword. If armed with a riflehe was willing to
brave the animal when in full force and fury. He had twice an
opportunity of proving his prowessin the course of this
mountain journeyand was each time successful. His mode was to
seat himself upon the groundwith his rifle cocked and resting
on his lame arm. Thus preparedhe would await the approach of
the bear with perfect coolnessnor pull trigger until he was
close at hand. In each instancehe laid the monster dead upon
the spot.

A march of three or four daysthrough savage and lonely scenes
brought Captain Bonneville to the fatal defile of Jackson's Hole
where poor More and Foy had been surprised and murdered by the
Blackfeet. The feelings of the captain were shocked at beholding
the bones of these unfortunate young men bleaching among the
rocks; and he caused them to be decently interred.

On the 3d of September he arrived on the summit of a mountain
which commanded a full view of the eventful valley of Pierre's
Hole; whence he could trace the winding of its stream through
green meadowsand forests of willow and cotton-woodand have a
prospectbetween distant mountainsof the lava plains of Snake
Riverdimly spread forth like a sleeping ocean below.

After enjoying this magnificent prospecthe descended into the
valleyand visited the scenes of the late desperate conflict.
There were the remains of the rude fortress in the swamp
shattered by rifle shotand strewed with the mingled bones of
savages and horses. There was the late populous and noisy
rendezvouswith the traces of trappers' camps and Indian lodges;
but their fires were extinguishedthe motley assemblage of
trappers and hunterswhite traders and Indian braveshad all
dispersed to different points of the wildernessand the valley
had relapsed into its pristine solitude and silence.

That night the captain encamped upon the battle ground; the next


day he resumed his toilsome peregrinations through the mountains.
For upwards of two weeks he continued his painful march; both men
and horses suffering excessively at times from hunger and thirst.
At lengthon the 19th of Septemberhe reached the upper waters
of Salmon River.

The weather was coldand there were symptoms of an impending
storm. The night set inbut Buckeyethe Delaware Indianwas
missing. He had left the party early in the morningto hunt by
himselfaccording to his custom. Fears were entertained lest he
should lose his way and become bewildered in tempestuous weather.
These fears increased on the following morningwhen a violent
snow-storm came onwhich soon covered the earth to the depth of
several inches. Captain Bonneville immediately encampedand sent
out scouts in every direction. After some search Buckeye was
discoveredquietly seated at a considerable distance in the
rearwaiting the expected approach of the partynot knowing
that they had passedthe snow having covered their trail.

On the ensuing morning they resumed their march at an early hour
but had not proceeded far when the hunterswho were beating up
the country in the advancecame galloping backmaking signals
to encampand crying Indians! Indians!

Captain Bonneville immediately struck into a skirt of wood and
prepared for action. The savages were now seen trooping over the
hills in great numbers. One of them left the main body and came
forward singlymaking signals of peace. He announced them as a
band of Nez Perces or Pierced-nose Indiansfriendly to the
whiteswhereupon an invitation was returned by Captain
Bonneville for them to come and encamp with him. They halted for
a short time to make their toilettean operation as important
with an Indian warrior as with a fashionable beauty. This done
they arranged themselves in martial stylethe chiefs leading the
vanthe braves following in a long linepainted and decorated
and topped off with fluttering plumes. In this way they advanced
shouting and singingfiring off their fuseesand clashing their
shields. The two parties encamped hard by each other. The Nez
Perces were on a hunting expeditionbut had been almost famished
on their march. They had no provisions left but a few dried
salmonyet finding the white men equally in wantthey
generously offered to share even this meager pittanceand
frequently repeated the offerwith an earnestness that left no
doubt of their sincerity. Their generosity won the heart of
Captain Bonnevilleand produced the most cordial good will on
the part of his men. For two days that the parties remained in
companythe most amicable intercourse prevailedand they parted
the best of friends. Captain Bonneville detached a few menunder
Mr. Cerrean able leaderto accompany the Nez Perces on their
hunting expeditionand to trade with them for meat for the
winter's supply. After thishe proceeded down the riverabout
five miles below the forkswhen he came to a halt on the 26th of
Septemberto establish his winter quarters.

9.
Horses turned loose Preparations for winter quarters Hungry
times Nez Percestheir honestypietypacific habitsreligious
ceremonies Captain Bonneville's conversations with them Their
love of gambling


IT WAS GRATIFYING to Captain Bonnevilleafter so long and
toilsome a course of travelto relieve his poor jaded horses of
the burden under which they were almost ready to give outand to
behold them rolling upon the grassand taking a long repose
after all their sufferings. Indeedso exhausted were theythat
those employed under the saddle were no longer capable of hunting
for the daily subsistence of the camp.

All hands now set to work to prepare a winter cantonment. A
temporary fortification was thrown up for the protection of the
party; a secure and comfortable peninto which the horses could
be driven at night; and huts were built for the reception of the
merchandise.

This doneCaptain Bonneville made a distribution of his forces:
twenty men were to remain with him in garrison to protect the
property; the rest were organized into three brigadesand sent
off in different directionsto subsist themselves by hunting the
buffalountil the snow should become too deep.

Indeedit would have been impossible to provide for the whole
party in this neighborhood. It was at the extreme western limit
of the buffalo rangeand these animals had recently been
completely hunted out of the neighborhood by the Nez Percesso
thatalthough the hunters of the garrison were continually on
the alertranging the country roundthey brought in scarce game
sufficient to keep famine from the door. Now and then there was a
scanty meal of fish or wild-fowloccasionally an antelope; but
frequently the cravings of hunger had to be appeased with roots
or the flesh of wolves and muskrats. Rarely could the inmates of
the cantonment boast of having made a full mealand never of
having wherewithal for the morrow. In this way they starved along
until the 8th of Octoberwhen they were joined by a party of
five families of Nez Perceswho in some measure reconciled them
to the hardships of their situation by exhibiting a lot still
more destitute. A more forlorn set they had never encountered:
they had not a morsel of meat or fish; nor anything to subsist
onexcepting rootswild rosebudsthe barks of certain plants
and other vegetable production; neither had they any weapon for
hunting or defenceexcepting an old spear: yet the poor fellows
made no murmur nor complaint; but seemed accustomed to their hard
fare. If they could not teach the white men their practical
stoicismthey at least made them acquainted with the edible
properties of roots and wild rosebudsand furnished them a
supply from their own store. The necessities of the camp at
length became so urgent that Captain Bonneville determined to
dispatch a party to the Horse Prairiea plain to the north of
his cantonmentto procure a supply of provisions. When the men
were about to departhe proposed to the Nez Perces that theyor
some of themshould join the hunting-party. To his surprise
they promptly declined. He inquired the reason for their refusal
seeing that they were in nearly as starving a situation as his
own people. They replied that it was a sacred day with themand
the Great Spirit would be angry should they devote it to hunting.
They offeredhoweverto accompany the party if it would delay
its departure until the following day; but this the pinching
demands of hunger would not permitand the detachment proceeded.

A few days afterwardfour of them signified to Captain
Bonneville that they were about to hunt. "What! " exclaimed he
without guns or arrows; and with only one old spear? What do you
expect to kill? They smiled among themselvesbut made no
answer. Preparatory to the chasethey performed some religious
ritesand offered up to the Great Spirit a few short prayers for


safety and success; thenhaving received the blessings of their
wivesthey leaped upon their horses and departedleaving the
whole party of Christian spectators amazed and rebuked by this
lesson of faith and dependence on a supreme and benevolent Being.
Accustomed,adds Captain Bonnevilleas I had heretofore been,
to find the wretched Indian revelling in blood, and stained by
every vice which can degrade human nature, I could scarcely
realize the scene which I had witnessed. Wonder at such
unaffected tenderness and piety, where it was least to have been
sought, contended in all our bosoms with shame and confusion, at
receiving such pure and wholesome instructions from creatures so
far below us in the arts and comforts of life.The simple
prayers of the poor Indians were not unheard. In the course of
four or five days they returnedladen with meat. Captain
Bonneville was curious to know how they had attained such success
with such scanty means. They gave him to understand that they had
chased the buffalo at full speeduntil they tired them down
when they easily dispatched them with the spearand made use of
the same weapon to flay the carcasses. To carry through their
lessons to their Christian friendsthe poor savages were as
charitable as they had been piousand generously shared with
them the spoils of their huntinggiving them food enough to last
for several days.

A further and more intimate intercourse with this tribe gave
Captain Bonneville still greater cause to admire their strong
devotional feeling. "Simply to call these people religious says
he, would convey but a faint idea of the deep hue of piety and
devotion which pervades their whole conduct. Their honesty is
immaculateand their purity of purposeand their observance of
the rites of their religionare most uniform and remarkable.
They arecertainlymore like a nation of saints than a horde of
savages."

In factthe antibelligerent policy of this tribe may have sprung
from the doctrines of Christian charityfor it would appear that
they had imbibed some notions of the Christian faith from
Catholic missionaries and traders who had been among them. They
even had a rude calendar of the fasts and festivals of the Romish
Churchand some traces of its ceremonials. These have become
blended with their own wild ritesand present a strange medley;
civilized and barbarous. On the Sabbathmenwomenand children
array themselves in their best styleand assemble round a pole
erected at the head of the camp. Here they go through a wild
fantastic ceremonial; strongly resembling the religious dance of
the Shaking Quakers; but from its enthusiasmmuch more striking
and impressive. During the intervals of the ceremonythe
principal chiefswho officiate as priestsinstruct them in
their dutiesand exhort them to virtue and good deeds.

There is something antique and patriarchal,observes Captain
Bonnevillein this union of the offices of leader and priest;
as there is in many of their customs and manners, which are all
strongly imbued with religion.

The worthy captainindeedappears to have been strongly
interested by this gleam of unlooked for light amidst the
darkness of the wilderness. He exerted himselfduring his
sojourn among this simple and well-disposed peopleto inculcate
as far as he was ablethe gentle and humanizing precepts of the
Christian faithand to make them acquainted with the leading
points of its history; and it speaks highly for the purity and
benignity of his heartthat he derived unmixed happiness from
the task.


Many a time,says hewas my little lodge thronged, or rather
piled with hearers, for they lay on the ground, one leaning over
the other, until there was no further room, all listening with
greedy ears to the wonders which the Great Spirit had revealed to
the white man. No other subject gave them half the satisfaction,
or commanded half the attention; and but few scenes in my life
remain so freshly on my memory, or are so pleasurably recalled to
my contemplation, as these hours of intercourse with a distant
and benighted race in the midst of the desert.

The only excesses indulged in by this temperate and exemplary
peopleappear to be gambling and horseracing. In these they
engage with an eagerness that amounts to infatuation. Knots of
gamblers will assemble before one of their lodge firesearly in
the eveningand remain absorbed in the chances and changes of
the game until long after dawn of the following day. As the night
advancesthey wax warmer and warmer. Bets increase in amount
one loss only serves to lead to a greateruntil in the course of
a single night's gamblingthe richest chief may become the
poorest varlet in the camp.

10.
Black feet in the Horse Prairie Search after the
hunters Difficulties and dangers A card party in the
wilderness The card party interrupted "Old Sledge" a losing
game Visitors to the camp Iroquois hunters Hanging-eared Indians.

ON the 12th of Octobertwo young Indians of the Nez Perce tribe
arrived at Captain Bonneville's encampment. They were on their
way homewardbut had been obliged to swerve from their ordinary
route through the mountainsby deep snows. Their new route took
them though the Horse Prairie. In traversing itthey had been
attracted by the distant smoke of a camp fireand on stealing
near to reconnoitrehad discovered a war party of Blackfeet.
They had several horses with them; andas they generally go on
foot on warlike excursionsit was concluded that these horses
had been captured in the course of their maraudings.

This intelligence awakened solicitude on the mind of Captain
Bonneville for the party of hunters whom he had sent to that
neighborhood; and the Nez Perceswhen informed of the
circumstancesshook their headsand declared their belief that
the horses they had seen had been stolen from that very party.
Anxious for information on the subjectCaptain Bonneville
dispatched two hunters to beat up the country in that direction.
They searched in vain; not a trace of the men could be found; but
they got into a region destitute of gamewhere they were
well-nigh famished. At one time they were three entire days
with-out a mouthful of food; at length they beheld a buffalo
grazing at the foot of the mountain. After manoeuvring so as to
get within shotthey firedbut merely wounded him. He took to
flightand they followed him over hill and dalewith the
eagerness and per-severance of starving men. A more lucky shot
brought him to the ground. Stanfield sprang upon himplunged his
knife into his throatand allayed his raging hunger by drinking
his blood: A fire was instantly kindled beside the carcasswhen
the two hunters cookedand ate again and againuntilperfectly
gorgedthey sank to sleep before their hunting fire. On the
following morning they rose earlymade another hearty mealthen
loading themselves with buffalo meatset out on their return to


the campto report the fruitlessness of their mission.

At lengthafter six weeks' absencethe hunters made their
appearanceand were received with joy proportioned to the
anxiety that had been felt on their account. They had hunted with
success on the prairiebutwhile busy drying buffalo meatwere
joined by a few panic - stricken Flatheadswho informed them
that a powerful band of Blackfeet was at hand. The hunters
immediately abandoned the dangerous hunting groundand
accompanied the Flatheads to their village. Here they found Mr.
Cerreand the detachment of hunters sent with him to accompany
the hunting party of the Nez Perces.

After remaining some time at the villageuntil they supposed the
Blackfeet to have left the neighborhoodthey set off with some
of Mr. Cerre's men for the cantonment at Salmon Riverwhere they
arrived without accident. They informed Captain Bonneville
howeverthat not far from his quarters they had found a wallet
of fresh meat and a cordwhich they supposed had been left by
some prowling Blackfeet. A few days afterward Mr. Cerrewith the
remainder of his menlikewise arrived at the cantonment.

Mr. Walkerone of his subleaderswho had gone with a band of
twenty hunters to range the country just beyond the Horse
Prairiehad likewise his share of adventures with the
all-pervading Blackfeet. At one of his encampments the guard
stationed to keep watch round the camp grew weary of their duty
and feeling a little too secureand too much at home on these
prairiesretired to a small grove of willows to amuse themselves
with a social game of cards called "old sledge which is as
popular among these trampers of the prairies as whist or ecarte
among the polite circles of the cities. From the midst of their
sport they were suddenly roused by a discharge of firearms and a
shrill war-whoop. Starting on their feet, and snatching up their
rifles, they beheld in dismay their horses and mules already in
possession of the enemy, who had stolen upon the camp
unperceived, while they were spell-bound by the magic of old
sledge. The Indians sprang upon the animals barebacked, and
endeavored to urge them off under a galling fire that did some
execution. The mules, however, confounded by the hurly-burly and
disliking their new riders kicked up their heels and dismounted
half of them, in spite of their horsemanship. This threw the rest
into confusion; they endeavored to protect their unhorsed
comrades from the furious assaults of the whites; but, after a
scene of confusion worse confounded horses and mules were
abandoned, and the Indians betook themselves to the bushes. Here
they quickly scratched holes in the earth about two feet deep, in
which they prostrated themselves, and while thus screened from
the shots of the white men, were enabled to make such use of
their bows and arrows and fusees, as to repulse their assailants
and to effect their retreat. This adventure threw a temporary
stigma upon the game of old sledge."

In the course of the autumnfour Iroquois huntersdriven by the
snow from their hunting groundsmade their appearance at the
cantonment. They were kindly welcomedand during their sojourn
made themselves useful in a variety of waysbeing excellent
trappers and first-rate woodsmen. They were of the remnants of a
party of Iroquois hunters that came from Canada into these
mountain regions many years previouslyin the employ of the
Hudson's Bay Company. They were led by a brave chieftainnamed
Pierrewho fell by the hands of the Blackfeetand gave his name
to the fated valley of Pierre's Hole. This branch of the Iroquois
tribe has ever since remained among these mountainsat mortal


enmity with the Blackfeetand have lost many of their prime
hunters in their feuds with that ferocious race. Some of them
fell in with General Ashleyin the course of one of his gallant
excursions into the wildernessand have continued ever since in
the employ of the company.

Among the motley Visitors to the winter quarters of Captain
Bonneville was a party of Pends Oreilles (or Hanging-ears) and
their chief. These Indians have a strong resemblancein
character and customsto the Nez Perces. They amount to about
three hundred lodgesare well armedand possess great numbers
of horses. During the springsummerand autumnthey hunt the
buffalo about the head-waters of the MissouriHenry's Fork of
the Snake Riverand the northern branches of Salmon River. Their
winter quarters are upon the Racine Amerewhere they subsist
upon roots and dried buffalo meat. Upon this river the Hudson's
Bay Company have established a trading postwhere the Pends
Oreilles and the Flatheads bring their peltries to exchange for
armsclothing and trinkets.

This tribelike the Nez Percesevince strong and peculiar
feelings of natural piety. Their religion is not a mere
superstitious fearlike that of most savages; they evince
abstract notions of morality; a deep reverence for an overruling
spiritand a respect for the rights of their fellow men. In one
respect their religion partakes of the pacific doctrines of the
Quakers. They hold that the Great Spirit is displeased with all
nations who wantonly engage in war; they abstainthereforefrom
all aggressive hostilities. But though thus unoffending in their
policythey are called upon continually to wage defensive
warfare; especially with the Blackfeet; with whomin the course
of their hunting expeditionsthey come in frequent collision and
have desperate battles. Their conduct as warriors is without fear
or reproachand they can never be driven to abandon their
hunting grounds.

Like most savages they are firm believers in dreamsand in the
power and efficacy of charms and amuletsor medicines as they
term them. Some of their bravesalsowho have had numerous
hairbreadth 'scapeslike the old Nez Perce chief in the battle
of Pierre's Holeare believed to wear a charmed lifeand to be
bullet-proof. Of these gifted beings marvelous anecdotes are
relatedwhich are most potently believed by their fellow
savagesand sometimes almost credited by the white hunters.

11

Rival trapping parties Manoeuvring A desperate game Vanderburgh
and the Blackfeet Deserted camp fire A dark defile An Indian
ambush A fierce melee Fatal consequences Fitzpatrick and
Bridger Trappers precautions Meeting with the Blackfeet More
fighting Anecdote of a young Mexican and an Indian girl.

WHILE Captain Bonneville and his men are sojourning among the Nez
Perceson Salmon Riverwe will inquire after the fortunes of
those doughty rivals of the Rocky Mountains and American Fur
Companieswho started off for the trapping grounds to the
north-northwest.

Fitzpatrick and Bridgerof the former companyas we have
already shownhaving received their supplieshad taken the
leadand hoped to have the first sweep of the hunting grounds.


Vanderburgh and Drippshoweverthe two resident partners of the
opposite companyby extraordinary exertions were enabled soon to
put themselves upon their tracesand pressed forward with such
speed as to overtake them just as they had reached the heart of
the beaver country. In factbeing ignorant of the best trapping
groundsit was their object to follow onand profit by the
superior knowledge of the other party.

Nothing could equal the chagrin of Fitzpatrick and Bridger at
being dogged by their inexperienced rivalsespecially after
their offer to divide the country with them. They tried in every
way to blind and baffle them; to steal a march upon themor lead
them on a wrong scent; but all in vain. Vanderburgh made up by
activity and intelligence for his ignorance of the country; was
always waryalways on the alert; discovered every movement of
his rivalshowever secret and was not to be eluded or misled.

Fitzpatrick and his colleague now lost all patience; since the
others persisted in following themthey determined to give them
an unprofitable chaseand to sacrifice the hunting season rather
than share the products with their rivals. They accordingly took
up their line of march down the course of the Missourikeeping
the main Blackfoot trailand tramping doggedly forwardwithout
stopping to set a single trap. The others beat the hoof after
them for some timebut by degrees began to perceive that they
were on a wild-goose chaseand getting into a country perfectly
barren to the trapper. They now came to a haltand be-thought
themselves how to make up for lost timeand improve the
remainder of the season. It was thought best to divide their
forces and try different trapping grounds. While Dripps went in
one directionVanderburghwith about fifty menproceeded in
another. The latterin his headlong march had got into the very
heart of the Blackfoot countryyet seems to have been
unconscious of his danger. As his scouts were out one daythey
came upon the traces of a recent band of savages. There were the
deserted fires still smokingsurrounded by the carcasses of
buffaloes just killed. It was evident a party of Blackfeet had
been frightened from their hunting campand had retreated
probably to seek reinforcements. The scouts hastened back to the
campand told Vanderburgh what they had seen. He made light of
the alarmandtaking nine men with himgalloped off to
reconnoitre for himself. He found the deserted hunting camp just
as they had represented it; there lay the carcasses of buffaloes
partly dismembered; there were the smouldering firesstill
sending up their wreaths of smoke; everything bore traces of
recent and hasty retreat; and gave reason to believe that the
savages were still lurking in the neighborhood. With heedless
daringVanderburgh put himself upon their trailto trace them
to their place of concealment: It led him over prairiesand
through skirts of woodlanduntil it entered a dark and dangerous
ravine. Vanderburgh pushed inwithout hesitationfollowed by
his little band. They soon found themselves in a gloomy dell
between steep banks overhung with treeswhere the profound
silence was only broken by the tramp of their own horses.

Suddenly the horrid war-whoop burst on their earsmingled with
the sharp report of riflesand a legion of savages sprang from
their concealmentsyellingand shaking their buffalo robes to
frighten the horses. Vanderburgh's horse fellmortally wounded
by the first discharge. In his fall he pinned his rider to the
groundwho called in vain upon his men to assist in extricating
him. One was shot down scalped a few paces distant; most of the
others were severely woundedand sought their safety in flight.
The savages approached to dispatch the unfortunate leaderas he


lay struggling beneath his horse.. He had still his rifle in his
hand and his pistols in his belt. The first savage that advanced
received the contents of the rifle in his breastand fell dead
upon the spot; but before Vanderburgh could draw a pistola blow
from a tomahawk laid him prostrateand he was dispatched by
repeated wounds.

Such was the fate of Major Henry Vanderburghone of the best and
worthiest leaders of the American Fur Companywho by his manly
bearing and dauntless courage is said to have made himself
universally popular among the bold-hearted rovers of the
wilderness.

Those of the little band who escaped fled in consternation to the
campand spread direful reports of the force and ferocity of the
enemy. The partybeing without a headwere in complete
confusion and dismayand made a precipitate retreatwithout
attempting to recover the remains of their butchered leader. They
made no halt until they reached the encampment of the Pends
Oreillesor Hanging-earswhere they offered a reward for the
recovery of the bodybut without success; it never could be
found.

In the meantime Fitzpatrick and Bridgerof the Rocky Mountain
Companyfared but little better than their rivals. In their
eagerness to mislead them they betrayed themselves into danger
and got into a region infested with the Blackfeet. They soon
found that foes were on the watch for them; but they were
experienced in Indian warfareand not to be surprised at night
nor drawn into an ambush in the daytime. As the evening advanced
the horses were all brought in and picketedand a guard was
stationed round the camp. At the earliest streak of day one of
the leaders would mount his horseand gallop off full speed for
about half a mile; then look round for Indian trailsto
ascertain whether there had been any lurkers round the camp;
returning slowlyhe would reconnoitre every ravine and thicket
where there might be an ambush. This donehe would gallop off in
an opposite direction and repeat the same scrutiny. Finding all
things safethe horses would be turned loose to grazebut
always under the eye of a guard.

A caution equally vigilant was observed in the marchon
approaching any defile or place where an enemy might lie in wait;
and scouts were always kept in the advanceor along the ridges
and rising grounds on the flanks.

At lengthone daya large band of Blackfeet appeared in the
open fieldbut in the vicinity of rocks and cliffs. They kept at
a wary distancebut made friendly signs. The trappers replied in
the same waybut likewise kept aloof. A small party of Indians
now advancedbearing the pipe of peace; they were met by an
equal number of white menand they formed a group midway between
the two bandswhere the pipe was circulated from hand to hand
and smoked with all due ceremony. An instance of natural
affection took place at this pacific meeting. Among the free
trappers in the Rocky Mountain band was a spirited young Mexican
named Lorettowhoin the course of his wanderingshad ransomed
a beautiful Blackfoot girl from a band of Crows by whom she had
been captured. He made her his wifeafter the Indian styleand
she had followed his fortunes ever sincewith the most devoted
affection.

Among the Blackfeet warriors who advanced with the calumet of
peace she recognized a brother. Leaving her infant with Loretto


she rushed forward and threw herself upon her brother's neckwho
clasped his long-lost sister to his heart with a warmth of
affection but little compatible with the reputed stoicism of the
savage.

While this scene was taking placeBridger left the main body of
trappers and rode slowly toward the group of smokerswith his
rifle resting across the pommel of his saddle. The chief of the
Blackfeet stepped forward to meet him. From some unfortunate
feeling of distrust Bridger cocked his rifle just as the chief
was extending his hand in friendship. The quick ear of the savage
caught the click of the lock; in a twinkling he grasped the
barrelforced the muzzle downwardand the contents were
discharged into the earth at his feet. His next movement was to
wrest the weapon from the hand of Bridger and fell him with it to
the earth. He might have found this no easy task had not the
unfortunate leader received two arrows in his back during the
struggle.

The chief now sprang into the vacant saddle and galloped off to
his band. A wild hurry-skurry scene ensued; each party took to
the banksthe rocks and treesto gain favorable positionsand
an irregular firing was kept up on either sidewithout much
effect. The Indian girl had been hurried off by her people at the
outbreak of the affray. She would have returnedthrough the
dangers of the fightto her husband and her childbut was
prevented by her brother. The young Mexican saw her struggles and
her agonyand heard her piercing cries. With a generous impulse
he caught up the child in his armsrushed forwardregardless of
Indian shaft or rifleand placed it in safety upon her bosom.
Even the savage heart of the Blackfoot chief was reached by this
noble deed. He pronounced Loretto a madman for his temeritybut
bade him depart in peace. The young Mexican hesitated; he urged
to have his wife restored to himbut her brother interferedand
the countenance of the chief grew dark. The girlhe said
belonged to his tribe-she must remain with her people. Loretto
would still have lingeredbut his wife implored him to depart
lest his life should be endangered. It was with the greatest
reluctance that he returned to his companions.

The approach of night put an end to the skirmishing fire of the
adverse partiesand the savages drew off without renewing their
hostilities. We cannot but remark that both in this affair and
that of Pierre's Hole the affray commenced by a hostile act on
the part of white men at the moment when the Indian warrior was
extending the hand of amity. In neither instanceas far as
circumstances have been stated to us by different personsdo we
see any reason to suspect the savage chiefs of perfidy in their
overtures of friendship. They advanced in the confiding way usual
among Indians when they bear the pipe of peaceand consider
themselves sacred from attack. If we violate the sanctity of this
ceremonialby any hostile movement on our partit is we who
incur the charge of faithlessness; and we doubt not that in both
these instances the white men have been considered by the
Blackfeet as the aggressorsand havein consequencebeen held
up as men not to be trusted.

A word to conclude the romantic incident of Loretto and his
Indian bride. A few months subsequent to the event just related
the young Mexican settled his accounts with the Rocky Mountain
Companyand obtained his discharge. He then left his comrades
and set off to rejoin his wife and child among her people; and we
understand thatat the time we are writing these pageshe
resides at a trading-house established of late by the American


Fur Company in the Blackfoot countrywhere he acts as an
interpreterand has his Indian girl with him.

12.
A winter camp in the wilderness Medley of trappershuntersand
Indians Scarcity of game New arrangements in the camp Detachments

sent to a distance Carelessness of the Indians when

encamped Sickness among the Indians Excellent character of the

Nez Perces The Captain's effort as a pacificator A Nez Perce's

argument in favor of war Robberiesby the Black feet Long

suffering of the Nez Perces A hunter's Elysium among the

mountains More robberies The Captain preaches up a crusade The

effect upon his hearers.

FOR the greater part of the month of November Captain Bonneville
remained in his temporary post on Salmon River. He was now in the
full enjoyment of his wishes; leading a hunter's life in the
heart of the wildernesswith all its wild populace around him.
Beside his own peoplemotley in character and costume--creole
KentuckianIndianhalf-breedhired trapperand free
trapper--he was surrounded by encampments of Nez Perces and
Flatheadswith their droves of horses covering the hills and
plains. It washe declaresa wild and bustling scene. The
hunting parties of white men and red mencontinually sallying
forth and returning; the groups at the various encampmentssome
cookingsome workingsome amusing themselves at different
games; the neighing of horsesthe braying of assesthe
resounding strokes of the axethe sharp report of the riflethe
whoopthe hallooand the frequent burst of laughterall in the
midst of a region suddenly roused from perfect silence and
loneliness by this transient hunters' sojournrealizedhe says
the idea of a "populous solitude."

The kind and genial character of the captain hadevidentlyits
influence on the opposite races thus fortuitously congregated
together. The most perfect harmony prevailed between them. The
Indianshe sayswere friendly in their dispositionsand honest
to the most scrupulous degree in their intercourse with the white
men. It is true they were somewhat importunate in their
curiosityand apt to be continually in the wayexamining
everything with keen and prying eyeand watching every movement
of the white men. All thishoweverwas borne with great
good-humor by the captainand through his example by his men.
Indeedthroughout all his transactions he shows himself the
friend of the poor Indiansand his conduct toward them is above
all praise.

The Nez Percesthe Flatheadsand the Hanging-ears pride
themselves upon the number of their horsesof which they possess
more in proportion than any other of the mountain tribes within
the buffalo range. Many of the Indian warriors and hunters
encamped around Captain Bonneville possess from thirty to forty
horses each. Their horses are stoutwell-built poniesof great
windand capable of enduring the severest hardship and fatigue.
The swiftest of themhoweverare those obtained from the whites
while sufficiently young to become acclimated and inured to the
rough service of the mountains.

By degrees the populousness of this encampment began to produce
its inconveniences. The immense droves of horses owned by the
Indians consumed the herbage of the surrounding hills; while to
drive them to any distant pasturagein a neighborhood abounding


with lurking and deadly enemieswould be to endanger the loss
both of man and beast. Gametoobegan to grow scarce. It was
soon hunted and frightened out of the vicinityand though the
Indians made a wide circuit through the mountains in the hope of
driving the buffalo toward the cantonmenttheir expedition was
unsuccessful. It was plain that so large a party could not
subsist themselves therenor in any one place throughout the
winter. Captain Bonnevillethereforealtered his whole
arrangements. He detached fifty men toward the south to winter
upon Snake Riverand to trap about its waters in the spring
with orders to rejoin him in the month of July at Horse Creekin
Green River Valleywhich he had fixed upon as the general
rendezvous of his company for the ensuing year.

Of all his late partyhe now retained with him merely a small
number of free trapperswith whom he intended to sojourn among
the Nez Perces and Flatheadsand adopt the Indian mode of moving
with the game and grass. Those bandsin effectshortly
afterward broke up their encampments and set off for a less
beaten neighborhood. Captain Bonneville remained behind for a few
daysthat he might secretly prepare cachesin which to deposit
everything not required for current use. Thus lightened of all
superfluous encumbrancehe set off on the 20th of November to
rejoin his Indian allies. He found them encamped in a secluded
part of the countryat the head of a small stream. Considering
themselves out of all danger in this sequestered spot from their
old enemiesthe Blackfeettheir encampment manifested the most
negligent security. Their lodges were scattered in every
directionand their horses covered every hill for a great
distance roundgrazing upon the upland bunch grass which grew in
great abundanceand though dryretained its nutritious
properties instead of losing them like other grasses in the
autumn.

When the Nez PercesFlatheadsand Pends Oreilles are encamped
in a dangerous neighborhoodsays Captain Bonnevillethe
greatest care is taken of their horsesthose prime articles of
Indian wealthand objects of Indian depredation. Each warrior
has his horse tied by one foot at night to a stake planted before
his lodge. Here they remain until broad daylight; by that time
the young men of the camp are already ranging over the
surrounding hills. Each family then drives its horses to some
eligible spotwhere they are left to graze unattended. A young
Indian repairs occasionally to the pasture to give them water
and to see that all is well. So accustomed are the horses to this
managementthat they keep together in the pasture where they
have been left. As the sun sinks behind the hillsthey may be
seen moving from all points toward the campwhere they surrender
themselves to be tied up for the night. Even in situations of
dangerthe Indians rarely set guards over their camp at night
intrusting that office entirely to their vigilant and
well-trained dogs.

In an encampmenthoweverof such fancied security as that in
which Captain Bonneville found his Indian friendsmuch of these
precautions with respect to their horses are omitted. They merely
drive themat nightfallto some sequestered little delland
leave them thereat perfect libertyuntil the morning.

One object of Captain Bonneville in wintering among these Indians
was to procure a supply of horses against the spring. They were
howeverextremely unwilling to part with anyand it was with
great difficulty that he purchasedat the rate of twenty dollars
eacha few for the use of some of his free trappers who were on


foot and dependent on him for their equipment.

In this encampment Captain Bonneville remained from the 21st of
November to the 9th of December. During this period the
thermometer ranged from thirteen to forty-two degrees. There were
occasional falls of snow; but it generally melted away almost
immediatelyand the tender blades of new grass began to shoot up
among the old. On the 7th of Decemberhoweverthe thermometer
fell to seven degrees.

The reader will recollect thaton distributing his forces when
in Green River ValleyCaptain Bonneville had detached a party
headed by a leader of the name of Matthieuwith all the weak and
disabled horsesto sojourn about Bear Rivermeet the Shoshonie
bandsand afterward to rejoin him at his winter camp on Salmon
River.

More than sufficient time had elapsedyet Matthieu failed to
make his appearanceand uneasiness began to be felt on his
account. Captain Bonneville sent out four mento range the
country through which he would have to passand endeavor to get
some information concerning him; for his route lay across the
great Snake River plainwhich spreads itself out like an Arabian
desertand on which a cavalcade could be descried at a great
distance. The scouts soon returnedhaving proceeded no further
than the edge of the plainpretending that their horses were
lame; but it was evident they had feared to venturewith so
small a forceinto these exposed and dangerous regions.

A diseasewhich Captain Bonneville supposed to be pneumonianow
appeared among the Indianscarrying off numbers of them after an
illness of three or four days. The worthy captain acted as
physicianprescribing profuse sweatings and copious bleedings
and uniformly with successif the patient were subsequently
treated with proper care. In extraordinary casesthe poor
savages called in the aid of their own doctors or conjurorswho
officiated with great noise and mummerybut with little benefit.
Those who died during this epidemic were buried in gravesafter
the manner of the whitesbut without any regard to the direction
of the head. It is a fact worthy of notice thatwhile this
malady made such ravages among the nativesnot a single white
man had the slightest symptom of it.

A familiar intercourse of some standing with the Pierced-nose and
Flathead Indians had now convinced Captain Bonneville of their
amicable and inoffensive character; he began to take a strong
interest in themand conceived the idea of becoming a
pacificatorand healing the deadly feud between them and the
Blackfeetin which they were so deplorably the sufferers. He
proposed the matter to some of the leadersand urged that they
should meet the Blackfeet chiefs in a grand pacific conference
offering to send two of his men to the enemy's camp with pipe
tobacco and flag of truceto negotiate the proposed meeting.

The Nez Perces and Flathead sages upon this held a council of war
of two days' durationin which there was abundance of hard
smoking and long talkingand both eloquence and tobacco were
nearly exhausted. At length they came to a decision to reject the
worthy captain's propositionand upon pretty substantial
groundsas the reader may judge.

War,said the chiefsis a bloody business, and full of evil;
but it keeps the eyes of the chiefs always open, and makes the
limbs of the young men strong and supple. In war, every one is on


the alert. If we see a trail we know it must be an enemy; if the
Blackfeet come to us, we know it is for war, and we are ready.
Peace, on the other hand, sounds no alarm; the eyes of the chiefs
are closed in sleep, and the young men are sleek and lazy. The
horses stray into the mountains; the women and their little babes
go about alone. But the heart of a Blackfoot is a lie, and his
tongue is a trap. If he says peace it is to deceive; he comes to
us as a brother; he smokes his pipe with us; but when he sees us
weak, and off our guard, he will slay and steal. We will have no
such peace; let there be war!

With this reasoning Captain Bonneville was fain to acquiesce;
butsince the sagacious Flatheads and their allies were content
to remain in a state of warfarehe wished them at least to
exercise the boasted vigilance which war was to produceand to
keep their eyes open. He represented to them the impossibility
that two such considerable clans could move about the country
without leaving trails by which they might be traced. Besides
among the Blackfeet braves were several Nez Perceswho had been
taken prisoners in early youthadopted by their captorsand
trained up and imbued with warlike and predatory notions; these
had lost all sympathies with their native tribeand would be
prone to lead the enemy to their secret haunts. He exhorted them
thereforeto keep upon the alertand never to remit their
vigilance while within the range of so crafty and cruel a foe.
All these counsels were lost upon his easy and simple-minded
hearers. A careless indifference reigned throughout their
encampmentsand their horses were permitted to range the hills
at night in perfect freedom. Captain Bonneville had his own
horses brought in at nightand properly picketed and guarded.
The evil he apprehended soon took place. In a single night a
swoop was made through the neighboring pastures by the Blackfeet
and eighty-six of the finest horses carried off. A whip and a
rope were left in a conspicuous situation by the robbersas a
taunt to the simpletons they had unhorsed.

Long before sunrise the news of this calamity spread like
wildfire through the different encampments. Captain Bonneville
whose own horses remained safe at their picketswatched in
momentary expectation of an outbreak of warriorsPierced-nose
and Flatheadin furious pursuit of the marauders; but no such
thing -- they contented themselves with searching diligently over
hill and daleto glean up such horses as had escaped the hands
of the maraudersand then resigned themselves to their loss with
the most exemplary quiescence.

Someit is truewho were entirely unhorsedset out on a
begging visit to their cousinsas they called themthe Lower
Nez Perceswho inhabit the lower country about the Columbiaand
possess horses in abundance. To these they repair when in
difficultyand seldom failby dint of begging and barteringto
get themselves once more mounted on horseback.

Game had now become scarce in the neighborhood of the campand
it was necessaryaccording to Indian customto move off to a
less beaten ground. Captain Bonneville proposed the Horse
Prairie; but his Indian friends objected that many of the Nez
Perces had gone to visit their cousinsand that the whites were
few in numberso that their united force was not sufficient to
Venture upon the buffalo groundswhich were infested by bands of
Blackfeet.

They now spoke of a place at no great distancewhich they
represented as a perfect hunter's elysium. It was on the right


branchor head stream of the riverlocked up among cliffs and
precipices where there was no danger from roving bandsand where
the Blackfeet dare not enter. Herethey saidthe elk abounded
and the mountain sheep were to be seen trooping upon the rocks
and hills. A little distance beyond italsoherds of buffalo
were to be met withOut of range of danger. Thither they
proposed to move their camp.

The proposition pleased the captainwho was desirousthrough
the Indiansof becoming acquainted with all the secret places of
the land. Accordinglyon the 9th of Decemberthey struck their
tentsand moved forward by short stagesas many of the Indians
were yet feeble from the late malady.

Following up the right fork of the river they came to where it
entered a deep gorge of the mountainsup which lay the secluded
region so much valued by the Indians. Captain Bonneville halted
and encamped for three days before entering the gorge. In the
meantime he detached five of his free trappers to scour the
hillsand kill as many elk as possiblebefore the main body
should enteras they would then be soon frightened away by the
various Indian hunting parties.

While thus encampedthey were still liable to the marauds of the
Blackfeetand Captain Bonneville admonished his Indian friends
to be upon their guard. The Nez Perceshowevernotwithstanding
their recent losswere still careless of their horses; merely
driving them to some secluded spotand leaving them there for
the nightwithout setting any guard upon them. The consequence
was a second swoopin which forty-one were carried off. This was
borne with equal philosophy with the firstand no effort was
made either to recover the horsesor to take vengeance on the
thieves.

The Nez Perceshowevergrew more cautious with respect to their
remaining horsesdriving them regularly to the camp every
eveningand fastening them to pickets. Captain Bonneville
howevertold them that this was not enough. It was evident they
were dogged by a daring and persevering enemywho was encouraged
by past impunity; they shouldthereforetake more than usual
precautionsand post a guard at night over their cavalry. They
could nothoweverbe persuaded to depart from their usual
custom. The horse once picketedthe care of the owner was over
for the nightand he slept profoundly. None waked in the camp
but the gamblerswhoabsorbed in their playwere more
difficult to be roused to external circumstances than even the
sleepers.

The Blackfeet are bold enemiesand fond of hazardous exploits.
The band that were hovering about the neighborhoodfinding that
they had such pacific people to deal withredoubled their
daring. The horses being now picketed before the lodgesa number
of Blackfeet scouts penetrated in the early part of the night
into the very centre of the camp. Here they went about among the
lodges as calmly and deliberately as if at homequietly cutting
loose the horses that stood picketed by the lodges of their
sleeping owners. One of these prowlersmore adventurous than the
restapproached a fire round which a group of Nez Perces were
gambling with the most intense eagerness. Here he stood for some
timemuffled up in his robepeering over the shoulders of the
playerswatching the changes of their countenances and the
fluctuations of the game. So completely engrossed were theythat
the presence of this muffled eaves-dropper was unnoticed and
having executed his bravadohe retired undiscovered.


Having cut loose as many horses as they could conveniently carry
offthe Blackfeet scouts rejoined their comradesand all
remained patiently round the camp. By degrees the horsesfinding
themselves at libertytook their route toward their customary
grazing ground. As they emerged from the camp they were silently
taken possession ofuntilhaving secured about thirtythe
Blackfeet sprang on their backs and scampered off. The clatter of
hoofs startled the gamblers from their game. They gave the alarm
which soon roused the sleepers from every lodge. Still all was
quiescent; no marshalling of forcesno saddling of steeds and
dashing off in pursuitno talk of retribution for their repeated
outrages. The patience of Captain Bonneville was at length
exhausted. He had played the part of a pacificator without
success; he now altered his toneand resolvedif possibleto
rouse their war spirit.

Accordinglyconvoking their chiefshe inveighed against their
craven policyand urged the necessity of vigorous and
retributive measures that would check the confidence and
presumption of their enemiesif not inspire them with awe. For
this purposehe advised that a war party should be immediately
sent off on the trail of the maraudersto follow themif
necessaryinto the very heart of the Blackfoot countryand not
to leave them until they had taken signal vengeance. Beside this
he recommended the organization of minor war partiesto make
reprisals to the extent of the losses sustained. "Unless you
rouse yourselves from your apathy said he, and strike some
bold and decisive blowyou will cease to be considered menor
objects of manly warfare. The very squaws and children of the
Blackfeet will be set against youwhile their warriors reserve
themselves for nobler antagonists."

This harangue had evidently a momentary effect upon the pride of
the hearers. After a short pausehoweverone of the orators
arose. It was badhe saidto go to war for mere revenge. The
Great Spirit had given them a heart for peacenot for war. They
had lost horsesit was truebut they could easily get others
from their cousinsthe Lower Nez Perceswithout incurring any
risk; whereasin war they should lose menwho were not so
readily replaced. As to their late lossesan increased
watchfulness would prevent any more misfortunes of the kind. He
disapprovedthereforeof all hostile measures; and all the
other chiefs concurred in his opinion.

Captain Bonneville again took up the point. "It is true said
he, the Great Spirit has given you a heart to love your friends;
but he has also given you an arm to strike your enemies. Unless
you do something speedily to put an end to this continual
plunderingI must say farewell. As yet I have sustained no loss;
thanks to the precautions which you have slighted; but my
property is too unsafe here; my turn will come next; I and my
people will share the contempt you are bringing upon yourselves
and will be thoughtlike youpoor-spirited beingswho may at
any time be plundered with impunity."

The conference broke up with some signs of excitement on the part
of the Indians. Early the next morninga party of thirty men set
off in pursuit of the foeand Captain Bonneville hoped to hear a
good account of the Blackfeet marauders. To his disappointment
the war party came lagging back on the following dayleading a
few oldsorrybroken-down horseswhich the free-booters had
not been able to urge to sufficient speed. This effort exhausted
the martial spiritand satisfied the wounded pride of the Nez


Percesand they relapsed into their usual state of passive
indifference.

13.
Story of Kosatothe Renegade Blackfoot.

IF the meekness and long-suffering of the Pierced-noses grieved
the spirit of Captain Bonnevillethere was another individual in
the camp to whom they were still more annoying. This was a
Blackfoot renegadonamed Kosatoa fiery hot-blooded youth who
with a beautiful girl of the same tribehad taken refuge among
the Nez Perces. Though adopted into the tribehe still
retained the warlike spirit of his raceand loathed the
peacefulinoffensive habits of those around him. The hunting of
the deerthe elkand the buffalowhich was the height of their
ambitionwas too tame to satisfy his wild and restless nature.
His heart burned for the foraythe ambushthe skirmishthe
scamperand all the haps and hazards of roving and predatory
warfare.

The recent hoverings of the Blackfeet about the camptheir
nightly prowls and daring and successful maraudshad kept him in
a fever and a flutterlike a hawk in a cage who hears his late
companions swooping and screaming in wild liberty above him. The
attempt of Captain Bonneville to rouse the war spirit of the Nez
Percesand prompt them to retaliationwas ardently seconded by
Kosato. For several days he was incessantly devising schemes of
vengeanceand endeavoring to set on foot an expedition that
should carry dismay and desolation into the Blackfeet town. All
his art was exerted to touch upon those springs of human action
with which he was most familiar. He drew the listening savages
round him by his nervous eloquence; taunted them with recitals of
past wrongs and insults; drew glowing pictures of triumphs and
trophies within their reach; recounted tales of daring and
romantic enterpriseof secret marchingscovert lurkings
midnight surprisalssackingsburningsplunderingsscalpings;
together with the triumphant returnand the feasting and
rejoicing of the victors. These wild tales were intermingled with
the beating of the drumthe yellthe war-whoop and the
war-danceso inspiring to Indian valor. Allhoweverwere lost
upon the peaceful spirits of his hearers; not a Nez Perce was to
be roused to vengeanceor stimulated to glorious war. In the
bitterness of his heartthe Blackfoot renegade repined at the
mishap which had severed him from a race of congenial spirits
and driven him to take refuge among beings so destitute of
martial fire.

The character and conduct of this man attracted the attention of
Captain Bonnevilleand he was anxious to hear the reason why he
had deserted his tribeand why he looked back upon them with
such deadly hostility. Kosato told him his own story briefly: it
gives a picture of the deepstrong passions that work in the
bosoms of these miscalled stoics.

You see my wife,said heshe is good; she is beautiful --I
love her. Yet she has been the cause of all my troubles. She was
the wife of my chief. I loved her more than he did; and she knew
it. We talked together; we laughed together; we were always
seeking each other's society; but we were as innocent as
children. The chief grew jealous, and commanded her to speak with
me no more. His heart became hard toward her; his jealousy grew
more furious. He beat her without cause and without mercy; and


threatened to kill her outright if she even looked at me. Do you
want traces of his fury? Look at that scar! His rage against me
was no less persecuting. War parties of the Crows were hovering
round us; our young men had seen their trail. All hearts were
roused for action; my horses were before my lodge. Suddenly the
chief came, took them to his own pickets, and called them his
own. What could I do? he was a chief. I durst not speak, but my
heart was burning. I joined no longer in the council, the hunt,
or the war-feast. What had I to do there? an unhorsed, degraded
warrior. I kept by myself, and thought of nothing but these
wrongs and outrages.

I was sitting one evening upon a knoll that overlooked the
meadow where the horses were pastured. I saw the horses that were
once mine grazing among those of the chief. This maddened meand
I sat brooding for a time over the injuries I had sufferedand
the cruelties which she I loved had endured for my sakeuntil my
heart swelled and grew soreand my teeth were clinched. As I
looked down upon the meadow I saw the chief walking among his
horses. I fastened my eyes upon him as a hawk's; my blood boiled;
I drew my breath hard. He went among the willows. In an instant I
was on my feet; my hand was on my knife --I flew rather than ran
-- before he was aware I sprang upon himand with two blows laid
him dead at my feet. I covered his body with earthand strewed
bushes over the place; then I hastened to her I lovedtold her
what I had doneand urged her to fly with me. She only answered
me with tears. I reminded her of the wrongs I had sufferedand
of the blows and stripes she had endured from the deceased; I had
done nothing but an act of justice. I again urged her to fly; but
she only wept the moreand bade me go. My heart was heavybut
my eyes were dry. I folded my arms. ' 'Tis well' said I; 'Kosato
will go alone to the desert. None will be with him but the wild
beasts of the desert. The seekers of blood may follow on his
trail. They may come upon him when he sleeps and glut their
revenge; but you will be safe. Kosato will go alone.

I turned away. She sprang after me, and strained me in her arms.
'No,' she cried, 'Kosato shall not go alone! Wherever he goes I
will go -- he shall never part from me.

'We hastily took in our hands such things as we most neededand
stealing quietly from the villagemounted the first horses we
encountered. Speeding day and nightwe soon reached this tribe.
They received us with welcomeand we have dwelt with them in
peace. They are good and kind; they are honest; but their hearts
are the hearts of women.

Such was the story of Kosatoas related by him to Captain
Bonneville. It is of a kind that often occurs in Indian life;
where love elopements from tribe to tribe are as frequent as
among the novel-read heroes and heroines of sentimental
civilizationand often give rise to bloods and lasting feuds.

14

The party enters the mountain gorge A wild fastness among
hills Mountain mutton Peace and plenty The amorous trapper-A
piebald wedding-A free trapper's wife-Her gala equipmentsChristmas
in the wilderness.

ON the 19th of December Captain Bonneville and his confederate
Indians raised their campand entered the narrow gorge made by
the north fork of Salmon River. Up this lay the secure and


plenteous hunting region so temptingly described by the Indians.

Since leaving Green River the plains had invariably been of loose
sand or coarse graveland the rocky formation of the mountains
of primitive limestone. The riversin generalwere skirted
with willows and bitter cottonwood treesand the prairies
covered with wormwood. In the hollow breast of the mountains
which they were now penetratingthe surrounding heights were
clothed with pine; while the declivities of the lower hills
afforded abundance of bunch grass for the horses.

As the Indians had representedthey were now in a natural
fastness of the mountainsthe ingress and egress of which was by
a deep gorgeso narrowruggedand difficult as to prevent
secret approach or rapid retreatand to admit of easy defence.
The Blackfeetthereforerefrained from venturing in after the
Nez Percesawaiting a better chancewhen they should once more
emerge into the open country.

Captain Bonneville soon found that the Indians had not
exaggerated the advantages of this region. Besides the numerous
gangs of elklarge flocks of the ahsahta or bighornthe
mountain sheepwere to be seen bounding among the precipices.
These simple animals were easily circumvented and destroyed. A
few hunters may surround a flock and kill as many as they please.
Numbers were daily brought into campand the flesh of those
which were young and fat was extolled as superior to the finest
mutton.

Herethenthere was a cessation from toilfrom hungerand
alarm. Past ills and dangers were forgotten. The huntthe game
the songthe storythe rough though good-humored jokemade
time pass joyously awayand plenty and security reigned
throughout the camp.

Idleness and easeit is saidlead to loveand love to
matrimonyin civilized lifeand the same process takes place in
the wilderness. Filled with good cheer and mountain muttonone
of the free trappers began to repine at the solitude of his
lodgeand to experience the force of that great law of nature
it is not meet for man to live alone.''

After a night of grave cogitation he repaired to Kowsoter, the
Pierced-nose chief, and unfolded to him the secret workings of
his bosom.

I want said he, a wife. Give me one from among your tribe.
Not a younggiddy-pated girlthat will think of nothing but
flaunting and finerybut a soberdiscreethard-working squaw;
one that will share my lot without flinchinghowever hard it may
be; that can take care of my lodgeand be a companion and a
helpmate to me in the wilderness." Kowsoter promised to look
round among the females of his tribeand procure such a one as
he desired. Two days were requisite for the search. At the
expiration of theseKowsotercalled at his lodgeand informed
him that he would bring his bride to him in the course of the
afternoon. He kept his word. At the appointed time he approached
leading the bridea comely copper-colored dame attired in her
Indian finery. Her fathermotherbrothers by the half dozen and
cousins by the scoreall followed on to grace the ceremony and
greet the new and important relative.

The trapper received his new and numerous family connection with
proper solemnity; he placed his bride beside himandfilling


the pipethe great symbol of peacewith his best tobaccotook
two or three whiffsthen handed it to the chief who transferred
it to the father of the bridefrom whom it was passed on from
hand to hand and mouth to mouth of the whole circle of kinsmen
round the fireall maintaining the most profound and becoming
silence.

After several pipes had been filled and emptied in this solemn
ceremonialthe chief addressed the bridedetailing at
considerable length the duties of a wife whichamong Indians
are little less onerous than those of the pack-horse; this done
he turned to her friends and congratulated them upon the great
alliance she had made. They showed a due sense of their good
fortuneespecially when the nuptial presents came to be
distributed among the chiefs and relativesamounting to about
one hundred and eighty dollars. The company soon retiredand now
the worthy trapper found indeed that he had no green girl to deal
with; for the knowing dame at once assumed the style and dignity
of a trapper's wife: taking possession of the lodge as her
undisputed empirearranging everything according to her own
taste and habitudesand appearing as much at home and on as easy
terms with the trapper as if they had been man and wife for
years.

We have already given a picture of a free trapper and his horse
as furnished by Captain Bonneville: we shall here subjoinas a
companion picturehis description of a free trapper's wifethat
the reader may have a correct idea of the kind of blessing the
worthy hunter in question had invoked to solace him in the
wilderness.

The free trapper, while a bachelor, has no greater pet than his
horse; but the moment he takes a wife (a sort of brevet rank in
matrimony occasionally bestowed upon some Indian fair one, like
the heroes of ancient chivalry in the open field), he discovers
that he has a still more fanciful and capricious animal on which
to lavish his expenses.

No sooner does an Indian belle experience this promotionthan
all her notions at once rise and expand to the dignity of her
situationand the purse of her loverand his credit into the
bargainare taxed to the utmost to fit her out in becoming
style. The wife of a free trapper to be equipped and arrayed like
any ordinary and undistinguished squaw? Perish the grovelling
thought! In the first placeshe must have a horse for her own
riding; but no jadedsorryearth-spirited hacksuch as is
sometimes assigned by an Indian husband for the transportation of
his squaw and her pappooses: the wife of a free trader must have
the most beautiful animal she can lay her eyes on. And thenas
to his decoration: headstallbreast-bandssaddle and crupper
are lavishly embroidered with beadsand hung with thimbles
hawks' bellsand bunches of ribbons. From each side of the
saddle hangs an esquimoota sort of pocketin which she bestows
the residue of her trinkets and nick-nackswhich cannot be
crowded on the decoration of her horse or herself. Over this she
foldswith great carea drapery of scarlet and bright-colored
calicoesand now considers the caparison of her steed complete.

As to her own person, she is even still more extravagant. Her
hair, esteemed beautiful in proportion to its length, is
carefully plaited, and made to fall with seeming negligence over
either breast. Her riding hat is stuck full of parti-colored
feathers; her robe, fashioned somewhat after that of the whites,
is of red, green, and sometimes gray cloth, but always of the


finest texture that can be procured. Her leggings and moccasins
are of the most beautiful and expensive workman-ship, and fitted
neatly to the foot and ankle, which with the Indian woman are
generally well formed and delicate. Then as to jewelry: in the
way of finger-rings, ear-rings, necklaces, and other female
glories, nothing within reach of the trapper's means is omitted
that can tend to impress the beholder with an idea of the lady's
high estate. To finish the whole, she selects from among her
blankets of various dyes one of some glowing color, and throwing
it over her shoulders with a native grace, vaults into the saddle
of her gay, prancing steed, and is ready to follow her
mountaineer 'to the last gasp with love and loyalty.'

Such is the general picture of the free trapper's wifegiven by
Captain Bonneville; how far it applied in its details to the one
in question does not altogether appearthough it would seem from
the outset of her connubial careerthat she was ready to avail
herself of all the pomp and circumstance of her new condition. It
is worthy of mention that wherever there are several wives of
free trappers in a campthe keenest rivalry exists between them
to the sore detriment of their husbands' purses. Their whole time
is expended and their ingenuity tasked by endeavors to eclipse
each other in dress and decoration. The jealousies and
heart-burnings thus occasioned among these so-styled children of
nature are equally intense with those of the rival leaders of
style and fashion in the luxurious abodes of civilized life.

The genial festival of Christmaswhich throughout all
Christendom lights up the fireside of home with mirth and
jollityfollowed hard upon the wedding just described. Though
far from kindred and friendsCaptain Bonneville and his handful
of free trappers were not disposed to suffer the festival to pass
unenjoyed; they were in a region of good cheerand were disposed
to be joyous; so it was determined to "light up the yule clog
and celebrate a merry Christmas in the heart of the wilderness.

On Christmas eve, accordingly, they began their rude fetes and
rejoicings. In the course of the night the free trappers
surrounded the lodge of the Pierced-nose chief and in lieu of
Christmas carols, saluted him with a feude joie.

Kowsoter received it in a truly Christian spirit, and after a
speech, in which he expressed his high gratification at the honor
done him, invited the whole company to a feast on the following
day. His invitation was gladly accepted. A Christmas dinner in
the wigwam of an Indian chief! There was novelty in the idea. Not
one failed to be present. The banquet was served up in primitive
style: skins of various kinds, nicely dressed for the occasion,
were spread upon the ground; upon these were heaped up abundance
of venison, elk meat, and mountain mutton, with various bitter
roots which the Indians use as condiments.

After a short prayer, the company all seated themselves
cross-legged, in Turkish fashion, to the banquet, which passed
off with great hilarity. After which various games of strength
and agility by both white men and Indians closed the Christmas
festivities.

15.
A hunt after hunters Hungry times A voracious repast Wintry
weather Godin's River Splendid winter scene on the great Lava



Plain of Snake River Severe travelling and tramping in the
snow Manoeuvres of a solitary Indian horseman Encampment on Snake
River Banneck Indians The horse chief His charmed life.

THE continued absence of Matthieu and his party had, by this
time, caused great uneasiness in the mind of Captain Bonneville;
and, finding there was no dependence to be placed upon the
perseverance and courage of scouting parties in so perilous a
quest, he determined to set out himself on the search, and to
keep on until he should ascertain something of the object of his
solicitude.

Accordingly on the 20th December he left the camp, accompanied by
thirteen stark trappers and hunters, all well mounted and armed
for dangerous enterprise. On the following morning they passed
out at the head of the mountain gorge and sallied forth into the
open plain. As they confidently expected a brush with the
Blackfeet, or some other predatory horde, they moved with great
circumspection, and kept vigilant watch in their encampments.

In the course of another day they left the main branch of Salmon
River, and proceeded south toward a pass called John Day's
defile. It was severe and arduous travelling. The plains were
swept by keen and bitter blasts of wintry wind; the ground was
generally covered with snow, game was scarce, so that hunger
generally prevailed in the camp, while the want of pasturage soon
began to manifest itself in the declining vigor of the horses.

The party had scarcely encamped on the afternoon of the 28th,
when two of the hunters who had sallied forth in quest of game
came galloping back in great alarm. While hunting they had
perceived a party of savages, evidently manoeuvring to cut them
off from the camp; and nothing had saved them from being
entrapped but the speed of their horses.

These tidings struck dismay into the camp. Captain Bonneville
endeavored to reassure his men by representing the position of
their encampment, and its capability of defence. He then ordered
the horses to be driven in and picketed, and threw up a rough
breastwork of fallen trunks of trees and the vegetable rubbish of
the wilderness. Within this barrier was maintained a vigilant
watch throughout the night, which passed away without alarm. At
early dawn they scrutinized the surrounding plain, to discover
whether any enemies had been lurking about during the night; not
a foot-print, however, was to be discovered in the coarse gravel
with which the plain was covered.

Hunger now began to cause more uneasiness than the apprehensions
of surrounding enemies. After marching a few miles they encamped
at the foot of a mountain, in hopes of finding buffalo. It was
not until the next day that they discovered a pair of fine bulls
on the edge of the plain, among rocks and ravines. Having now
been two days and a half without a mouthful of food, they took
especial care that these animals should not escape them. While
some of the surest marksmen advanced cautiously with their rifles
into the rough ground, four of the best mounted horsemen took
their stations in the plain, to run the bulls down should they
only be maimed.

The buffalo were wounded and set off in headlong flight. The
half-famished horses were too weak to overtake them on the frozen
ground, but succeeded in driving them on the ice, where they
slipped and fell, and were easily dispatched. The hunters loaded
themselves with beef for present and future supply, and then


returned and encamped at the last nights's fire. Here they
passed the remainder of the day, cooking and eating with a
voracity proportioned to previous starvation, forgetting in the
hearty revel of the moment the certain dangers with which they
were environed.

The cravings of hunger being satisfied, they now began to debate
about their further progress. The men were much disheartened by
the hardships they had already endured. Indeed, two who had been
in the rear guard, taking advantage of their position, had
deserted and returned to the lodges of the Nez Perces. The
prospect ahead was enough to stagger the stoutest heart. They
were in the dead of winter. As far as the eye could reach the
wild landscape was wrapped in snow, which was evidently deepening
as they advanced. Over this they would have to toil, with the
icy wind blowing in their faces: their horses might give out
through want of pasturage, and they themselves must expect
intervals of horrible famine like that they had already
experienced.

With Captain Bonneville, however, perseverance was a matter of
pride; and, having undertaken this enterprise, nothing could turn
him back until it was accomplished: though he declares that, had
he anticipated the difficulties and sufferings which attended it,
he should have flinched from the undertaking.

Onward, therefore, the little band urged their way, keeping along
the course of a stream called John Day's Creek. The cold was so
intense that they had frequently to dismount and travel on foot,
lest they should freeze in their saddles. The days which at this
season are short enough even in the open prairies, were narrowed
to a few hours by the high mountains, which allowed the
travellers but a brief enjoyment of the cheering rays of the sun.
The snow was generally at least twenty inches in depth, and in
many places much more: those who dismounted had to beat their way
with toilsome steps. Eight miles were considered a good day's
journey. The horses were almost famished; for the herbage was
covered by the deep snow, so that they had nothing to subsist
upon but scanty wisps of the dry bunch grass which peered above
the surface, and the small branches and twigs of frozen willows
and wormwood.

In this way they urged their slow and painful course to the south
down John Day's Creek, until it lost itself in a swamp. Here they
encamped upon the ice among stiffened willows, where they were
obliged to beat down and clear away the snow to procure pasturage
for their horses.

Hence they toiled on to Godin River; so called after an Iroquois
hunter in the service of Sublette, who was murdered there by the
Blackfeet. Many of the features of this remote wilderness are
thus named after scenes of violence and bloodshed that occurred
to the early pioneers. It was an act of filial vengeance on the
part of Godin's son Antoine that, as the reader may recollect,
brought on the recent battle at Pierre's Hole.

From Godin's River, Captain Bonneville and his followers came out
upon the plain of the Three Butes, so called from three singular
and isolated hills that rise from the midst. It is a part of the
great desert of Snake River, one of the most remarkable tracts
beyond the mountains. Could they have experienced a respite from
their sufferings and anxieties, the immense landscape spread out
before them was calculated to inspire admiration. Winter has its
beauties and glories as well as summer; and Captain Bonneville


had the soul to appreciate them.

Far away, says he, over the vast plains, and up the steep sides
of the lofty mountains, the snow lay spread in dazzling
whiteness: and whenever the sun emerged in the morning above the
giant peaks, or burst forth from among clouds in his midday
course, mountain and dell, glazed rock and frosted tree, glowed
and sparkled with surpassing lustre. The tall pines seemed
sprinkled with a silver dust, and the willows, studded with
minute icicles reflecting the prismatic rays, brought to mind the
fairy trees conjured up by the caliph's story-teller to adorn his
vale of diamonds.

The poor wanderers, however, nearly starved with hunger and cold,
were in no mood to enjoy the glories of these brilliant scenes;
though they stamped pictures on their memory which have been
recalled with delight in more genial situations.

Encamping at the west Bute, they found a place swept by the
winds, so that it was bare of snow, and there was abundance of
bunch grass. Here the horses were turned loose to graze
throughout the night. Though for once they had ample pasturage,
yet the keen winds were so intense that, in the morning, a mule
was found frozen to death. The trappers gathered round and
mourned over him as over a cherished friend. They feared their
half-famished horses would soon share his fate, for there seemed
scarce blood enough left in their veins to withstand the freezing
cold. To beat the way further through the snow with these
enfeebled animals seemed next to impossible; and despondency
began to creep over their hearts, when, fortunately, they
discovered a trail made by some hunting party. Into this they
immediately entered, and proceeded with less difficulty. Shortly
afterward, a fine buffalo bull came bounding across the snow and
was instantly brought down by the hunters. A fire was soon
blazing and crackling, and an ample repast soon cooked, and
sooner dispatched; after which they made some further progress
and then encamped. One of the men reached the camp nearly frozen
to death; but good cheer and a blazing fire gradually restored
life, and put his blood in circulation.

Having now a beaten path, they proceeded the next morning with
more facility; indeed, the snow decreased in depth as they
receded from the mountains, and the temperature became more mild.
In the course of the day they discovered a solitary horseman
hovering at a distance before them on the plain. They spurred on
to overtake him; but he was better mounted on a fresher steed,
and kept at a wary distance, reconnoitring them with evident
distrust; for the wild dress of the free trappers, their
leggings, blankets, and cloth caps garnished with fur and topped
off with feathers, even their very elf-locks and weather-bronzed
complexions, gave them the look of Indians rather than white men,
and made him mistake them for a war party of some hostile tribe.

After much manoeuvring, the wild horseman was at length brought
to a parley; but even then he conducted himself with the caution
of a knowing prowler of the prairies. Dismounting from his horse,
and using him as a breastwork, he levelled his gun across his
back, and, thus prepared for defence like a wary cruiser upon the
high seas, he permitted himself to be approached within speaking
distance.

He proved to be an Indian of the Banneck tribe, belonging to a
band at no great distance. It was some time before he could be
persuaded that he was conversing with a party of white men and


induced to lay aside his reserve and join them. He then gave them
the interesting intelligence that there were two companies of
white men encamped in the neighborhood. This was cheering news to
Captain Bonneville; who hoped to find in one of them the
long-sought party of Matthieu. Pushing forward, therefore, with
renovated spirits, he reached Snake River by nightfall, and there
fixed his encampment.

Early the next morning (13th January, 1833) , diligent search was
made about the neighborhood for traces of the reported parties of
white men. An encampment was soon discovered about four miles
farther up the river, in which Captain Bonneville to his great
joy found two of Matthieu's men, from whom he learned that the
rest of his party would be there in the course of a few days. It
was a matter of great pride and selfgratulation to Captain
Bonneville that he had thus accomplished his dreary and doubtful
enterprise; and he determined to pass some time in this
encampment, both to await the return of Matthieu, and to give
needful repose to men and horses.

It was, in fact, one of the most eligible and delightful
wintering grounds in that whole range of country. The Snake River
here wound its devious way between low banks through the great
plain of the Three Butes; and was bordered by wide and fertile
meadows. It was studded with islands which, like the alluvial
bottoms, were covered with groves of cotton-wood, thickets of
willow, tracts of good lowland grass, and abundance of green
rushes. The adjacent plains were so vast in extent that no single
band of Indians could drive the buffalo out of them; nor was the
snow of sufficient depth to give any serious inconvenience.
Indeed, during the sojourn of Captain Bonneville in this
neighborhood, which was in the heart of winter, he found the
weather, with the exception of a few cold and stormy days,
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.

16

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 Kosatothe Blackfoot renegadewas the first to
pass alongaccompanied 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; yetmuch as they thirsted for
his bloodthey forbore to launch a shaft; sparing him for the
moment that he might lead them to their prey. Secretly following
his trailthey discovered the lodges of the unfortunate Nez
Percesand assailed them with shouts and yellings. The Nez
Perces numbered only twenty menand but nine were armed with
fusees. They showed themselveshoweveras 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 desperatelylaying several of the enemy
dead upon the ground; while theythough Some of them were
woundedlost not a single warrior.

During the heat of the battlea woman of the Nez Percesseeing
her warrior badly wounded and unable to fightseized his bow and
arrowsand bravely and successfully defended his person
contributing to the safety of the whole party.

In another part of the field of actiona Nez Perce had crouched
behind the trunk of a fallen treeand kept up a galling fire
from his covert. A Blackfoot seeing thisprocured a round log
and placing it before him as he lay prostraterolled 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
horsesseveral of their warriors lay dead on the fieldand the
Nez Percesensconced in their lodgesseemed 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
Kosatohoweverhe had no vindictive rage against his native
tribebut was rather disposednow he had got the bootyto
spare all unnecessary effusion of blood. He held a long parley
thereforewith the besiegedand finally drew off his warriors
taking with him seventy horses. It appearedafterwardthat the
bullets of the Blackfeet had been entirely expended in the course
of the battleso that they were obliged to make use of stones as
substitute.

At the outset of the fight Kosatothe renegadefought with fury
rather than valoranimating 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 overand 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 renegadeand return with them to her kindred.
She refused to listen to their solicitationsand they passed on.
As she sat watching the features of Kosatoand giving way to
passionate griefshe thought she perceived him to breathe. She
was not mistaken. The ballwhich had been nearly spent before it
struck himhad stunned instead of killing him. By the ministry
of his faithful wife he gradually recoveredreviving to a


redoubled love for herand hatred of his tribe.

As to the female who had so bravely defended her husbandshe was
elevated by the tribe to a rank far above her sexand beside
other honorable distinctionswas thenceforward permitted to take
a part in the war dances of the braves!

17

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 secureand having
secretly opened them he selected such articles as were necessary
to equip the free trappers and to supply the inconsiderable trade
with the Indiansafter which he closed them again. The free
trappersbeing newly rigged out and suppliedwere in high
spiritsand swaggered gayly about the camp. To compensate all
hands for past sufferingsand to give a cheerful spur to further
operationsCaptain Bonneville now gave the men whatin frontier
phraseis termed "a regular blow-out." It was a day of uncouth
gambols and frolics and rude feasting. The Indians joined in the
sports and gamesand all was mirth and good-fellowship.

It was now the middle of Marchand 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 Plainand after a winding course falls into Snake
River. Previous to his departure the captain dispatched Mr.
Cerrewith a few mento visit the Indian villages and purchase
horses; he furnished his clerkMr. Hodgkissalsowith a small
stock of goodsto keep up a trade with the Indians during the
springfor such peltries as they might collectappointing the
caches on Salmon River as the point of rendezvouswhere they
were to rejoin him on the 15th of June following.

This done he set out for Malade Riverwith a band of
twenty-eight men composed of hired and free trappers and Indian
hunterstogether with eight squaws. Their route lay up along the
right fork of Salmon Riveras it passes through the deep defile
of the mountains. They travelled very slowlynot above five
miles a dayfor many of the horses were so weak that they
faltered and staggered as they walked. Pasturagehoweverwas
now growing plentiful. There was abundance of fresh grasswhich
in some places had attained such height as to wave in the wind.
The native flocks of the wildernessthe mountain sheepas they
are called by the trapperswere continually to be seen upon the
hills between which they passedand a good supply of mutton was
provided by the huntersas 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 notionsand almost superstitions
which prevail among the Indiansand 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 passedin 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
thereforeCaptain Bonneville determined to remain a few days and
make his first regular attempt at trapping. That his maiden
campaign might open with spirithe 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 Riverand have a capital
beaver country all to themselveswhere they might trap at their
leisure without molestation.

In the midst of their gayety a hunter came galloping into the
campshoutingor rather yellingA 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 neighborhoodand
probably a hunting partyas they had lodge poles for an
encampment. The hunter came up and told his story. He had
discovered a fresh trailin which the traces made by the
dragging of lodge poles were distinctly visible. The buffalo
toohad just been driven out of the neighborhoodwhich 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 suspendedand 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; doubtlesssome rival band of trappers! Here was
competition when least expected; and that too by a party already
in the advancewho 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 partyand endeavor to learn their plans; in the
meantimehe turned his back upon the swamp and its musk-rat
houses and followed on at "long campswhich 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 appointedwith excellent horses in capital condition
led by Milton Subletteand an able coadjutor named Jarvieand
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 trappersperfectly at


home among the mountainsand admirably mountedwhile they were
so poorly provided with horses and trappersand had but one man
in their party acquainted with the country-it was out of the
question.

The only hope that now remained was that the snowwhich still
lay deep among the mountains of Godin's River and blocked up the
usual pass to the Malade countrymight 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 togethernot out of
companionshipbut 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
strengthand their hoofs improvingwhich had been worn and
battered by mountain service. The captainalso 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
inexplicableas the intervening mountains terminate in the great
Snake River plainso thatapparentlyit would be perfectly
easy to proceed round their bases.

Herehoweveroccur 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
crestsand 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 chasmsfrom four to ten feet wideand of great
depth. Captain Bonneville attempted to sound some of these
openingsbut without any satisfactory result. A stone dropped
into one of them reverberated against the sides for apparently a
very great depthandby its soundindicated the same kind of
substance with the surfaceas long as the strokes could be
heard. The horseinstinctively sagacious in avoiding danger
shrinks back in alarm from the least of these chasmspricking up
his earssnorting and pawinguntil 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 Riverthat run with a boldfree current
lose themselves in this plain; some of them end in swampsothers
suddenly disappearfindingno doubtsubterranean outlets.

Opposite to these chasms Snake River makes two desperate leaps
over precipicesat 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 diameterwhere nothing meets the eye but a desolate and awful
waste; where no grass grows nor water runsand where nothing is
to be seen but lava. Ranges of mountains skirt this plainand
in Captain Bonneville's opinionwere formerly connecteduntil
rent asunder by some convulsion of nature. Far to the east the
Three Tetons lift their heads sublimelyand 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 encampmentsand 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 plainstretching 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 Maladethe Boiseeand other streamswhich
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
Westpresenting the mingled grandeur and beauty of mountain and
plainof 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 Junenor detail all the
manoeuvres of the rival trapping parties and their various
schemes to outwit and out-trap each other. Suffice it to say
thatafter having visited and camped about various streams with
varying successCaptain Bonneville set forward early in June for
the appointed rendezvous at the caches. On the wayhe 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 slowlyreserving 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 campand the flesh transported
thither without difficulty. In a little while the whole camp
looked like one great slaughter-house; the carcasses were
skilfully cut upgreat fires were madescaffolds erected for
drying and jerking beefand an ample provision was made for
future subsistence. On the 15th of Junethe precise day
appointed for the rendezvousCaptain 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 outand a liberal allowance of
aqua vitae distributed throughout the campto celebrate with
proper conviviality this merry meeting.

18.

Meeting with Hodgkiss Misfortunes of the Nez Perces Schemes
of Kosatothe 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
encampment.

HAVING now a pretty strong partywell 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 plainin search of his
clerkHodgkisswho had remained with the Nez Perces. He found
him on the 24th of Juneand learned from him another chapter of
misfortunes which had recently befallen that ill-fated race.

After the departure of Captain Bonneville in MarchKosatothe
renegade Blackfoothad 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
experiencedand assuring them that such would continue to be
their lot until they proved themselves men by some signal
retaliation.

The impassioned eloquence of the desperado at length produced an
effect; and a band of braves enlisted under his guidanceto
penetrate into the Blackfoot countryharass their Villages
carry off their horsesand 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 forcehe attacked them with characteristic
furyand was bravely seconded by his followers. The contestfor
a timewas hot and bloody; at lengthas is customary with these
two tribesthey pausedand held a long parleyor rather a war
of words.

What need,said the Blackfoot chieftauntinglyhave 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
people.

Kosato took him at his word; for he knew the character of his
native tribe. Hastening back with his band to the Nez Perces
villagehe told all that he had seen and heardand urged the
most prompt and strenuous measures for defence. The Nez Perces
howeverheard him with their accustomed phlegm; the threat of
the Blackfeet had been often madeand as often had proved a mere
bravado; such they pronounced it to be at presentandof
coursetook 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 perila Pierced-nose
chiefnamed Blue John by the whitesoffered to approach
secretly with a smallbut chosen bandthrough a defile which
led to the encampment of the enemyandby a sudden onsetto
drive off the horses. Should this blow be successfulthe spirit
and strength of the invaders would be brokenand the Nez Perces
having horseswould be more than a match for them. Should it
failthe village would not be worse off than at presentwhen
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 medicineor talismanic charmsuch 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 rainhis 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
ornamentsand 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 crestand there was a sudden shower. The warriors
turned to their leaderas if to read his opinion of this unlucky
omen; but the countenance of Blue John remained unchangedand
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 defilewhen they met a
scouting party of the enemy. They attacked and drove them among
the hillsand were pursuing them with great eagerness when they
heard shouts and yells behind themand 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 Johnsternly.
Then giving his war-whoophe sprang forward to the conflict.
His braves followed him. They made a headlong charge upon the
enemy; not with the hope of victorybut the determination to
sell their lives dearly. A frightful carnagerather than a
regular battlesucceeded. The forlorn band laid heaps of their
enemies dead at their feetbut were overwhelmed with numbers and
pressed into a gorge of the mountain; where they continued to
fight until they were cut to pieces. One onlyof the thirty
survived. He sprang on the horse of a Blackfoot warrior whom he
had slainand escaping at full speedbrought home the baleful
tidings to his village.

Who can paint the horror and desolation of the inhabitants? The
flower of their warriors laid lowand a ferocious enemy at their
doors. The air was rent by the shrieks and lamentations of the
womenwhocasting off their ornaments and tearing their hair
wandered aboutfrantically 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 shedor
disheartened by the loss they had themselves sustained. At any
ratethey disappeared from the hillsand 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 warriorstaking pack-horsesrepaired 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 heartstoo
had been torn out and carried off; a proof of their signal valor;
for in devouring the heart of a foe renowned for braveryor who
has distinguished himself in battlethe Indian victor thinks he
appropriates to himself the courage of the deceased.

Gathering the mangled bodies of the slainand strapping them
across their pack-horsesthe warriors returnedin dismal
processionto the village. The tribe came forth to meet them;
the women with piercing cries and wailings; the men with downcast
countenancesin which gloom and sorrow seemed fixed as if in
marble. The mutilated and almost undistinguishable bodies were
placed in rows upon the groundin 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 Kosatothe renegadewhobeing stationed in the
villagehad been prevented from going on the forlorn hopewas
again striving to rouse the vindictive feelings of his adopted
brethrenand to prompt them to revenge the slaughter of their
devoted braves.

During his sojourn on the Snake River plainCaptain Bonneville
made one of his first essays at the strategy of the fur trade.
There was at this time an assemblage of Nez PercesFlatheads
and Cottonois Indians encamped together upon the plain; well
provided with beaverwhich they had collected during the spring.
These they were waiting to traffic with a resident trader of the
Hudson's Bay Companywho was stationed among themand with whom
they were accustomed to deal. As it happenedthe 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 wayand would soon
arrive; he hopedhow-everby a prompt moveto anticipate their
arrivaland secure the market to himself. Throwing himself
thereforeamong the Indianshe opened his packs of merchandise
and displayed the most tempting wares: bright clothsand scarlet
blanketsand glittering ornamentsand everything gay and
glorious in the eyes of warrior or squaw; allhoweverwas in
vain. The Hudson's Bay trader was a perfect master of his
businessthoroughly acquainted with the Indians he had to deal
withand held such control over them that none dared to act
openly in opposition to his wishes; naymore -- he came nigh
turning the tables upon the captainand shaking the allegiance
of some of his free trappersby distributing liquors among them.
The latterthereforewas glad to give up a competitionwhere
the war was likely to be carried into his own camp.

In factthe 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 rivalbut now integral partthe famous
Northwest Company. It has thus its races of traderstrappers
huntersand voyageursborn and brought up in its serviceand
inheriting from preceding generations a knowledge and aptitude in
everything connected with Indian lifeand Indian traffic. In the
process of yearsthis 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
defilesand favorable hunting grounds of the country. Their
capitalalsoand the manner in which their supplies are
distributed at various postsor forwarded by regular caravans
keep their traders well suppliedand enable them to furnish
their goods to the Indians at a cheap rate. Their mentoobeing
chiefly drawn from the Canadaswhere they enjoy great influence
and controlare engaged at the most trifling wagesand
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 rangeso that any close competition with
them is almost hopeless.

Shortly after Captain Bonneville's ineffectual attempt to
participate in the trade of the associated campthe 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 Valleywith some of the parties which he
had detached in the preceding year. He now turned his thoughts
in that directionand prepared for the journey.

The Cottonois were anxious for him to proceed at once to their
country; whichthey assured himabounded 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 truethe latter
professed to be their allies; but they had been guilty of so many
acts of perfidythat the Cottonois hadlatterlyrenounced
their hollow friendship and attached themselves to the Flatheads
and Nez Perces. These they had accompanied in their migrations
rather than remain alone at homeexposed 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 latterhoweverwas not to be
tempted; his engagements required his presence at the rendezvous
in Green River Valley; and he had already formed his ulterior
plans.

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


As these were free and independent fellowswhose 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 outthereforefor
the hunting ground in question; appointing Mr. Hodgkiss to act as
their partisanor leaderand 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 cookpackand unpack; set
up the tentstake 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 supplieswere all ready to disperse in
various directions. As there was a formidable band of Blackfeet
just over a mountain to the northeastby 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 encampmentsso as to cut off stragglers or weak
detachmentsCaptain 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 timeand to pass close under the mountain infested
by the Blackfeet; while Captain Bonnevillewith his partywas
to strike in an opposite direction to the southeastbending his
course for Pierre's Holeon his way to Green River.

Accordinglyon the 6th of Julyall the camps were raised at the
same moment; each party taking its separate route. The scene was
wild and picturesque; the long line of traderstrappersand
Indianswith their rugged and fantastic dresses and
accoutrements; their varied weaponstheir innumerable horses
some under the saddlesome burdened with packagesothers
following in droves; all stretching in lengthening cavalcades
across the vast landscapemaking for different points of the
plains and mountains.

19.
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 dangershe
took all his measures with military skilland observed the
strictest circumspection. When on the marcha small scouting
party was thrown in the advance to reconnoitre the country
through which they were to pass. The encampments were selected
with great careand a watch was kept up night and day. The
horses were brought in and picketed at nightand at daybreak a
party was sent out to scour the neighborhood for half a mile
roundbeating up every grove and thicket that could give shelter


to a lurking foe. When all was reported safethe horses were
cast loose and turned out to graze. Were such precautions
generally observed by traders and hunterswe should not so often
hear of parties being surprised by the Indians.

Having stated the military arrangements of the captainwe may
here mention a mode of defence on the open prairiewhich 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 heada malletand hobblesor leathern fetters for the
horses. The trappers proceed across the prairie in a long line;
or sometimes three parallel linessufficiently distant from each
other to prevent the packs from interfering. At an alarmwhen
there is no covert at handthe line wheels so as to bring the
front to the rear and form a circle. All then dismountdrive
their pickets into the ground in the centrefasten the horses to
themand hobble their forelegsso thatin case of alarmthey
cannot break away. Then they unload themand 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 fortressthey await the assault of the enemy
and are enabled to set large bands of Indians at defiance.

The first night of his marchCaptain Bonneville encamped upon
Henry's Fork; an upper branch of Snake Rivercalled 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 heardand a solitary femaleof the Nez Perce tribe
came galloping up. She was mounted on a mustang or half wild
horsewhich she managed by a long rope hitched round the under
jaw by way of bridle. Dismountingshe walked silently into the
midst of the campand there seated herself on the groundstill
holding her horse by the long halter.

The sudden and lonely apparition of this womanand her calm yet
resolute demeanorawakened universal curiosity. The hunters and
trappers gathered roundand gazed on her as something
mysterious. She remained silentbut 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 lodgeof which she
readily took possessionand from that time forward was
considered one of the camp.

In consequencevery probablyof the military precautions of
Captain Bonnevillehe conducted his party in safety through this
hazardous region. No accident of a disastrous kind occurred
excepting the loss of a horsewhichin passing along the giddy
edge of a precipicecalled the Cornicea dangerous pass between
Jackson's and Pierre's Holefell over the brinkand was dashed
to pieces.

On the 13th of July (1833)Captain Bonneville arrived at Green
River. As he entered the valleyhe beheld it strewed in every
direction with the carcasses of buffaloes. It was evident that
Indians had recently been thereand in great numbers. Alarmed at
this sighthe came to a haltand as soon as it was darksent
out spies to his place of rendezvous on Horse Creekwhere 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 campand with them came three trappers of one


of his bandsfrom the rendezvouswho 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 Shoshonieswho had fallen
in with one of his trapping partiesand accompanied them to the
rendezvous. Having imparted this intelligencethe 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
them.

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.

20

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

Indian

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
mountains.

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
peltries.

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 encampmentsengaged in contests of
skill at runningjumpingwrestlingshooting with the rifle
and running horses. And then their rough hunters' feastings and
carousels. They drank togetherthey sangthey laughedthey
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 blanketa string
of gay beadsor a paper of precious vermilionwith 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 openand their motley
contents poured forth. A mania for purchasing spread itself
throughout the several bands--munitions for warfor huntingfor
gallantrywere seized upon with equal avidity--rifleshunting
knivestrapsscarlet clothred blanketsgarish beadsand
glittering trinketswere bought at any priceand scores run up
without any thought how they were ever to be rubbed off. The free
trappersespeciallywere extravagant in their purchases. For a
free mountaineer to pause at a paltry consideration of dollars
and centsin the attainment of any object that might strike his
fancywould 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 creditwhatever unpaid scores
might stare him in the facewould be a flagrant affront scarcely
to be forgiven.

Now succeeded another outbreak of revelry and extravagance. The
trappers were newly fitted out and arrayedand 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 extentand in a
little while most of the trappershaving squandered away all
their wagesand perhaps run knee-deep in debtwere ready for
another hard campaign in the wilderness.

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

Captain Bonneville relates the case of an Indianwho was a
universal favorite in the lower camp. He had been bitten by one
of these animals. Being out with a party shortly afterwardshe
grew silent and gloomyand 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 himandleaping from his
horsebegan to roll frantically on the earthgnashing his teeth
and foaming at the mouth. Still he retained his sensesand
warned his companions not to come near himas 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 Indianbelieved to be the same
was observed crossing a valleyand pursued; but he darted away
into the fastnesses of the mountainsand 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 hydrophobiaand
became raving toward night. At lengthbreaking away from his
companionshe rushed into a thicket of willowswhere they left
him to his fate!


21

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 trappersall
benefited by at least one year's experience among the mountains
and capable of protecting themselves from Indian wiles and
stratagemsand of providing for their subsistence wherever game
was to be found. He hadalsoan excellent troop of horsesin
prime conditionand fit for hard service. He determined
thereforeto 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 Westbeyond what is generally
termed the buffalo range. This would have something of the merit
and charm of discoveryso dear to every brave and adventurous
spirit. Another favorite project was to establish a trading post
on the lower part of the Columbia Rivernear the Multnomah
valleyand to endeavor to retrieve for his country some of the
lost trade of Astoria.

The first of the above mentioned views wasat presentuppermost
in his mind--the exploring of unknown regions. Among the grand
features of the wilderness about which he was roamingone had
made a vivid impression on his mindand been clothed by his
imagination with vague and ideal charms. This is a great lake of
salt waterlaving the feet of the mountainsbut extending far
to the west-southwestinto one of those vast and elevated
plateaus of landwhich range high above the level of the
Pacific.

Captain Bonneville gives a striking account of the lake when seen
from the land. As you ascend the mountains about its shoressays
heyou behold this immense body of water spreading itself before
youand stretching further and furtherin one wide and
far-reaching expanseuntil the eyewearied with continued and
strained attentionrests in the blue dimness of distanceupon
lofty ranges of mountainsconfidently asserted to rise from the
bosom of the waters. Nearer to youthe smooth and unruffled
surface is studded with little islandswhere the mountain sheep
roam in considerable numbers. What extent of lowland may be
encompassed by the high peaks beyondmust remain for the present
matter of mere conjecture though from the form of the summits
and the breaks which may be discovered among themthere can be
little doubt that they are the sources of streams calculated to
water large tractswhich are probably concealed from view by the
rotundity of the lake's surface. At some future dayin all
probabilitythe rich harvest of beaver furwhich may be
reasonably anticipated in such a spotwill tempt adventurers to
reduce all this doubtful region to the palpable certainty of a
beaten track. At presenthoweverdestitute of the means of
making boatsthe trapper stands upon the shoreand 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 otherswho have
somewhat exaggerated its features. It is reported to be about one
hundred and fifty miles longand fifty miles broad. The ranges
of mountain peaks which Captain Bonneville speaks ofas rising
from its bosomare probably the summits of mountains beyond it
which may be visible at a vast distancewhen viewed from an


eminencein the transparent atmosphere of these lofty regions.
Several large islands certainly exist in the lake; one of which
is said to be mountainousbut not by any means to the extent
required to furnish the series of peaks above mentioned.

Captain Sublettein one of his early expeditions across the
mountainsis said to have sent four men in a skin canoeto
explore the lakewho professed to have navigated all round it;
but to have suffered excessively from thirstthe water of the
lake being extremely saltand there being no fresh streams
running into it.

Captain Bonneville doubts this reportor that the men
accomplished the circumnavigationbecausehe saysthe lake
receives several large streams from the mountains which bound it
to the east. In the springwhen the streams are swollen by rain
and by the melting of the snowsthe lake rises several feet
above its ordinary level during the summerit gradually subsides
againleaving a sparkling zone of the finest salt upon its
shores.

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 regionallowing objects
to be seenand the report of firearms to be heardat an
astonishing distance; and its extreme drynesscausing the wheels
of wagons to fall in piecesas instanced in former passages of
this workare 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 Bonnevillethough
the salt lake of Mexico is not much inferior in elevation.

To have this lake properly exploredand all its secrets
revealedwas the grand scheme of the captain for the present
year; and while it was one in which his imagination evidently
took a leading parthe believed it would be attended with great
profitfrom the numerous beaver streams with which the lake must
be fringed.

This momentous undertaking he confided to his lieutenantMr.
Walkerin whose experience and ability he had great confidence.
He instructed him to keep along the shores of the lakeand trap
in all the streams on his route; also to keep a journaland
minutely to record the events of his journeyand everything
curious or interestingmaking maps or charts of his routeand
of the surrounding country.

No pains nor expense were spared in fitting out the partyof
forty menwhich he was to command. They had complete supplies
for a yearand were to meet Captain Bonneville in the ensuing
summerin the valley of Bear Riverthe largest tributary of the
Salt Lakewhich 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 Campbellthe partner of Sublette
was at this time in the rendezvous of the Rocky Mountain Fur
Companyhaving brought up their supplies. He was about to set
off on his returnwith the peltries collected during the year
and intended to proceed through the Crow countryto the head of
navigation on the Bighorn Riverand to descend in boats down
that riverthe Missouriand the Yellowstoneto St. Louis.


Captain Bonneville determined to forward his peltries by the same
routeunder the especial care of Mr. Cerre. By way of escorthe
would accompany Cerre to the point of embarkationand then make
an autumnal hunt in the Crow country.

22

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

BEFORE WE ACCOMPANY Captain Bonneville into the Crow countrywe
will impart a few facts about this wild regionand the wild
people who inhabit it. We are not aware of the precise
boundariesif there are anyof the country claimed by the
Crows; it appears to extend from the Black Hills to the Rocky
Mountainsincluding a part of their lofty rangesand embracing
many of the plains and valleys watered by the Wind Riverthe
Yellowstonethe Powder Riverthe Little Missouriand the
Nebraska. The country varies in soil and climate; there are vast
plains of sand and claystudded with large red sand-hills; other
parts are mountainous and picturesque; it possesses warm springs
and coal minesand abounds with game.

But let us give the account of the country as rendered by
Arapooisha Crow chiefto Mr. Robert Campbellof the Rocky
Mountain Fur Company.

The Crow country,said heis 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 southyou have to wander over great barren
plains; the water is warm and badand you meet the fever and
ague.

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 dirtypaddle 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 summerit 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 autumnwhen your horses are fat and strong from the
mountain pasturesyou can go down into the plains and hunt the
buffaloor 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 yourselvesand 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 menbut their incessant wars with the Blackfeetand
their vagabondpredatory habitsare gradually wearing them out.

In a recent workwe related the circumstance of a white man
named Rosean outlawand a designing vagabondwho acted as
guide and interpreter to Mr. Hunt and his partyon their journey
across the mountains to Astoriawho came near betraying them
into the hands of the Crowsand who remained among the tribe
marrying one of their womenand adopting their congenial habits.
A few anecdotes of the subsequent fortunes of that renegade may
not be uninterestingespecially 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 commandand knew it was only to be attained
by desperate exploits. He distinguished himself in repeated
actions with Blackfeet. On one occasiona band of those savages
had fortified themselves within a breastworkand 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 headrushed forward. The first Blackfoot that opposed him
he shot down with his rifleandsnatching up the war-club of
his victimkilled four others within the fort. The victory was
completeand Rose returned to the Crow village covered with
gloryand bearing five Blackfoot scalpsto be erected as a
trophy before his lodge. From this timehe was known among the
Crows by the name of Che-ku-kaatsor "the man who killed five."
He became chief of the villageor rather bandand for a time
was the popular idol. His popularity soon awakened envy among the
native braves; he was a strangeran intrudera white man. A
party seceded from his command. Feuds and civil wars succeeded
that lasted for two or three yearsuntil Rosehaving contrived
to set his adopted brethren by the earsleft themand 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 SmithFitzpatrickand Sublette. Rose
enlisted with them as guide and interpreter. When he got them
among the Crowshe was exceedingly generous with their goods;
making presents to the braves of his adopted tribeas became a
high-minded chief.

Thisdoubtlesshelped to revive his popularity. In that
expeditionSmith 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 improbablefor such was the perfidy he had
intended to practice on a former occasion toward Mr. Hunt and his
party.

The last anecdote we have of Rose is from an Indian trader. When
General Atkinson made his military expedition up the Missouriin
1825to protect the fur tradehe held a conference with the
Crow nationat 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 speechesthe officers
supposing all was friendlyleft the troopsand drew near the
scene of ceremonial. Some of the more knowing Crowsperceiving
thisstole quietly to the campandunobservedcontrived to
stop the touch-holes of the field-pieces with dirt. Shortly
aftera misunderstanding occurred in the conference: some of the
Indiansknowing the cannon to be uselessbecame insolent. A
tumult arose. In the confusionColonel O'Fallan snapped a pistol
in the face of a braveand knocked him down with the butt end.
The Crows were all in a fury. A chance-medley fight was on the
point of taking placewhen Rosehis natural sympathies as a
white man suddenly recurringbroke the stock of his fusee over
the head of a Crow warriorand laid so vigorously about him with
the barrelthat he soon put the whole throng to flight. Luckily
as no lives had been lostthis sturdy rib roasting calmed the
fury of the Crowsand the tumult ended without serious
consequences.

What was the ultimate fate of this vagabond hero is not
distinctly known. Some report him to have fallen a victim to
diseasebrought on by his licentious life; others assert that he
was murdered in a feud among the Crows. After allhis residence
among these savagesand the influence he acquired over them
hadfor a timesome beneficial effects. He is saidnot merely
to have rendered them more formidable to the Blackfeetbut to
have opened their eyes to the policy of cultivating the
friendship of the white men.

After Rose's deathhis policy continued to be cultivatedwith
indifferent successby Arapooishthe chief already mentioned
who had been his great friendand whose character he had
contributed to develope. This sagacious chief endeavoredon
every occasionto 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 mana character among the Indians which is a compound
of priestdoctorprophetand conjurer. He carried about with
him a tame eagleas his "medicine" or familiar. With the white
menhe acknowledged that this was all charlatanismbut said it
was necessaryto give him weight and influence among his people.

Mr. Robert Campbellfrom whom we have most of these factsin
the course of one of his trapping expeditionswas quartered in
the village of Arapooishand a guest in the lodge of the
chieftain. He had collected a large quantity of fursand
fearful of being plundereddeposited but a part in the lodge of
the chief; the rest he buried in a cache. One nightArapooish
came into the lodge with a cloudy browand seated himself for a
time without saying a word. At lengthturning to CampbellYou
have more furs with you,said hethan you have brought into my
lodge?

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 cacheand 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 thatas Campbell was his guest
and inmate of his lodgehe would not eat nor drink until every
skin was restored to him.

The meeting broke upand every one dispersed. Arapooish now
charged Campbell to give neither reward nor thanks to any one who
should bring in the beaver skinsbut to keep count as they were
delivered.

In a little whilethe skins began to make their appearancea
few at a time; they were laid down in the lodgeand those who
brought them departed without saying a word. The day passed away.
Arapooish sat in one corner of his lodgewrapped 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 upand Campbell expressed himself contented. Not
so the Crow chieftain. He fasted all that nightnor tasted a
drop of water. In the morningsome more skins were brought in
and continued to comeone and two at a timethroughout 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
chiefand again declared that he was perfectly satisfied.
Arapooish demanded what number of skins were yet wanting. On
being toldhe whispered to some of his peoplewho disappeared.
After a time the number were brought inthough it was evident
they were not any of the skins that had been stolenbut 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 togetherArapooish had a conversation with
his guest.

When you come another time among the Crows,said hedon'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
off.

Campbell took his adviceand 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 honestyand they will steal the
hair off your head."

Having given these few preliminary particularswe will resume
the course of our narrative.

23.
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
Stewartan 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 JulyCaptain Bonneville struck his tentsand set
out on his route for the Bighornat the head of a party of
fifty-six menincluding those who were to embark with Cerre.
Crossing the Green River valleyhe proceeded along the south
point of the Wind River range of mountainsand soon fell upon
the track of Mr. Robert Campbell's partywhich had preceded him
by a day. This he pursueduntil he perceived that it led down
the banks of the Sweet Water to the southeast. As this was
different from his proposed directionhe left it; and turning to
the northeastsoon came upon the waters of the Popo Agie. This
stream takes its rise in the Wind River Mountains. Its namelike
most Indian namesis characteristic. Popoin the Crow
languagesignifies head; and Agieriver. It is the head of a
long riverextending from the south end of the Wind River
Mountains in a northeast directionuntil it falls into the
Yellowstone. Its course is generally through plainsbut is twice
crossed by chains of mountains; the first called the Littlehorn;
the secondthe Bighorn. After it has forced its way through the
first chainit 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 fallsand rushing
down long and furious rapidswhich threaten destruction to the
navigator; though a hardy trapper is said to have shot down them
in a canoe. At the foot of these rapidsis the head of
navigation; where it was the intention of the parties to
construct boatsand embark.

Proceeding down along the Popo AgieCaptain 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 Riverwhich 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 swollenCaptain Bonneville
halted at its mouthand sent out scouts to look for a fording
place. While thus encampedhe 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 discoveredhoweverthat they
were white menandby the long line of pack-horsesascertained
them to be the convoy of Campbellwhichhaving descended the
Sweet Waterwas now on its way to the Horn River.

The two parties came together two or three days afterwardson
the 4th of Augustafter having passed through the gap of the
Littlehorn Mountain. In company with Campbell's convoy was a
trapping party of the Rocky Mountain Companyheaded by
Fitzpatrick; whoafter Campbell's embarkation on the Bighorn
was to take charge of all the horsesand proceed on a trapping
campaign. There weremoreovertwo chance companions in the
rival camp. One was Captain Stewartof the British armya
gentleman of noble connectionswho was amusing himself by a
wandering tour in the Far West; in the course of whichhe had
lived in hunter's style; accompanying various bands of traders
trappersand 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
fisherswith whom we parted company in the valley of Pierre's
Holeafter the battle with the Blackfeet. A few days after that


affairhe again set out from the rendezvous in company with
Milton Sublette and his brigade of trappers. On his marchhe
visited the battle groundand 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 aloftor sat brooding on the trees around;
and Indian dogs howled about the placeas if bewailing the death
of their masters. Wyeth travelled for a considerable distance to
the southwestin company with Milton Sublettewhen they
separated; and the formerwith eleven menthe remnant of his
bandpushed on for Snake River; kept down the course of that
eventful stream; traversed the Blue Mountainstrapping beaver
occasionally by the wayand finallyafter hardships of all
kindsarrivedon the 29th of Octoberat Vancouveron the
Columbiathe main factory of the Hudson's Bay Company.

He experienced hospitable treatment at the hands of the agents of
that company; but his menheartily tired of wandering in the
wildernessor tempted by other prospectsrefusedfor the most
partto continue any longer in his service. Some set off for the
Sandwich Islands; some entered into other employ. Wyeth found
toothat a great part of the goods he had brought with him were
unfitted for the Indian trade; in a wordhis expedition
undertaken entirely on his own resourcesproved a failure. He
lost everything invested in itbut his hopes. These were as
strong as ever. He took note of every thingthereforethat
could be of service to him in the further prosecution of his
project; collected all the information within his reachand then
set offaccompanied by merely two menon 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
Lodge.

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 sidethey again made for the river banks; and about the
middle of Augustreached the point below the rapids where the
river becomes navigable for boats. Here Captain Bonneville
detached a second party of trappersconsisting of ten mento
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.

24.
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
dangers.

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
the neck.

In the meantime the Indians took possession of the deserted camp,
with all the traps, accoutrements, and horses. While they were
busy among the spoils, a solitary trapper, who had been absent at
his work, came sauntering to the camp with his traps on his back.
He had approached near by, when an Indian came forward and
motioned him to keep away; at the same moment, he was perceived
by his comrades on the island, and warned of his danger with loud
cries. The poor fellow stood for a moment, bewildered and aghast,
then dropping his traps, wheeled and made off at full speed,
quickened by a sportive volley which the Indians rattled after
him.

In high good humor with their easy triumph, the savages now


formed a circle round the fire and performed a war dance, with
the unlucky trappers for rueful spectators. This done, emboldened
by what they considered cowardice on the part of the white men,
they neglected their usual mode of bush-fighting, and advanced
openly within twenty paces of the willows. A sharp volley from
the trappers brought them to a sudden halt, and laid three of
them breathless. The chief, who had stationed himself on an
eminence to direct all the movements of his people, seeing three
of his warriors laid low, ordered the rest to retire. They
immediately did so, and the whole band soon disappeared behind a
point of woods, carrying off with them the horses, traps, and the
greater part of the baggage.

It was just after this misfortune that the party of ten men
discovered this forlorn band of trappers in a fortress, which
they had thrown up after their disaster. They were so perfectly
dismayed, that they could not be induced even to go in quest of
their traps, which they had set in a neighboring stream. The two
parties now joined their forces, and made their way, without
further misfortune, to the rendezvous.

Captain Bonneville perceived from the reports of these parties,
as well as from what he had observed himself in his recent march,
that he was in a neighborhood teeming with danger. Two wandering
Snake Indians, also, who visited the camp, assured him that there
were two large bands of Crows marching rapidly upon him. He broke
up his encampment, therefore, on the 1st of September, made his
way to the south, across the Littlehorn Mountain, until he
reached Wind River, and then turning westward, moved slowly up
the banks of that stream, giving time for his men to trap as he
proceeded. As it was not in the plan of the present hunting
campaigns to go near the caches on Green River, and as the
trappers were in want of traps to replace those they had lost,
Captain Bonneville undertook to visit the caches, and procure a
supply. To accompany him in this hazardous expedition, which
would take him through the defiles of the Wind River Mountains,
and up the Green River valley, he took but three men; the main
party were to continue on trapping up toward the head of Wind
River, near which he was to rejoin them, just about the place
where that stream issues from the mountains. We shall accompany
the captain on his adventurous errand.

25.
Captain Bonneville sets out for Green River valley Journey up
the Popo Agie Buffaloes The staring white bears The smoke The
warm springs

Attempt to traverse the Wind River Mountains The Great
Slope Mountain dells and chasms Crystal lakes Ascent of a snowy
peak Sublime prospect A panorama Les dignes de pitie or wild
men of the mountains


HAVING FORDED WIND RIVER a little above its mouth, Captain
Bonneville and his three companions proceeded across a gravelly
plain, until they fell upon the Popo Agie, up the left bank of
which they held their course, nearly in a southerly direction.
Here they came upon numerous droves of buffalo, and halted for
the purpose of procuring a supply of beef. As the hunters were
stealing cautiously to get within shot of the game, two small
white bears suddenly presented themselves in their path, and,
rising upon their hind legs, contemplated them for some time with
a whimsically solemn gaze. The hunters remained motionless;
whereupon the bears, having apparently satisfied their curiosity,


lowered themselves upon all fours, and began to withdraw. The
hunters now advanced, upon which the bears turned, rose again
upon their haunches, and repeated their serio-comic examination.
This was repeated several times, until the hunters, piqued at
their unmannerly staring, rebuked it with a discharge of their
rifles. The bears made an awkward bound or two, as if wounded,
and then walked off with great gravity, seeming to commune
together, and every now and then turning to take another look at
the hunters. It was well for the latter that the bears were but
half grown, and had not yet acquired the ferocity of their kind.

The buffalo were somewhat startled at the report of the firearms;
but the hunters succeeded in killing a couple of fine cows, and,
having secured the best of the meat, continued forward until some
time after dark, when, encamping in a large thicket of willows,
they made a great fire, roasted buffalo beef enough for half a
score, disposed of the whole of it with keen relish and high
glee, and then turned in" for the night and slept soundlylike
weary and well fed hunters.

At daylight they were in the saddle againand skirted along the
riverpassing through fresh grassy meadowsand a succession of
beautiful groves of willows and cotton-wood. Toward evening
Captain Bonneville observed a smoke at a distance rising from
among hillsdirectly in the route he was pursuing. Apprehensive
of some hostile bandhe concealed the horses in a thicketand
accompanied by one of his mencrawled cautiously up a height
from which he could overlook the scene of danger. Herewith a
spy-glasshe reconnoitred the surrounding countrybut not a
lodge nor firenot a manhorsenor dogwas to be discovered;
in shortthe smoke which had caused such alarm proved to be the
vapor from several warmor rather hot springs of considerable
magnitudepouring forth streams in every direction over a bottom
of white clay. One of the springs was about twenty-five yards in
diameterand so deep that the water was of a bright green color.

They were now advancing diagonally upon the chain of Wind River
Mountainswhich lay between them and Green River valley. To
coast round their southern points would be a wide circuit;
whereascould they force their way through themthey might
proceed in a straight line. The mountains were loftywith snowy
peaks and cragged sides; it was hopedhoweverthat some
practicable defile might be found. They attemptedaccordingly
to penetrate the mountains by following up one of the branches of
the Popo Agiebut soon found themselves in the midst of
stupendous crags and precipices that barred all progress.
Retracing their stepsand falling back upon the riverthey
consulted where to make another attempt. They were too close
beneath the mountains to scan them generallybut they now
recollected having noticedfrom the plaina beautiful slope
risingat an angle of about thirty degreesand apparently
without any breakuntil it reached the snowy region. Seeking
this gentle acclivitythey began to ascend it with alacrity
trusting to find at the top one of those elevated plains which
prevail among the Rocky Mountains. The slope was covered with
coarse gravelinterspersed with plates of freestone. They
attained the summit with some toilbut foundinstead of a
levelor rather undulating plainthat they were on the brink of
a deep and precipitous ravinefrom the bottom of which rose a
second slopesimilar to the one they had just ascended. Down
into this profound ravine they made their way by a rugged path
or rather fissure of the rocksand then labored up the second
slope. They gained the summit only to find themselves on another
ravineand now perceived that this vast mountainwhich had


presented such a sloping and even side to the distant beholder on
the plainwas shagged by frightful precipicesand seamed with
longitudinal chasmsdeep and dangerous.

In one of these wild dells they passed the nightand slept
soundly and sweetly after their fatigues. Two days more of
arduous climbing and scrambling only served to admit them into
the heart of this mountainous and awful solitude; where
difficulties increased as they proceeded. Sometimes they
scrambled from rock to rockup the bed of some mountain stream
dashing its bright way down to the plains; sometimes they availed
themselves of the paths made by the deer and the mountain sheep
whichhoweveroften took them to the brinks of fearful
precipicesor led to rugged defilesimpassable for their
horses. At one placethey were obliged to slide their horses
down the face of a rockin which attempt some of the poor
animals lost their footingrolled to the bottomand came near
being dashed to pieces.

In the afternoon of the second daythe travellers attained one
of the elevated valleys locked up in this singular bed of
mountains. Here were two bright and beautiful little lakesset
like mirrors in the midst of stern and rocky heightsand
surrounded by grassy meadowsinexpressibly refreshing to the
eye. These probably were among the sources of those mighty
streams which take their rise among these mountainsand wander
hundreds of miles through the plains.

In the green pastures bordering upon these lakesthe travellers
halted to reposeand to give their weary horses time to crop the
sweet and tender herbage. They had now ascended to a great height
above the level of the plainsyet they beheld huge crags of
granite piled one upon anotherand beetling like battlements far
above them. While two of the men remained in the camp with the
horsesCaptain Bonnevilleaccompanied by the other men [man]
set out to climb a neighboring heighthoping to gain a
commanding prospectand discern some practicable route through
this stupendous labyrinth. After much toilhe reached the summit
of a lofty cliffbut it was only to behold gigantic peaks rising
all aroundand towering far into the snowy regions of the
atmosphere. Selecting one which appeared to be the highesthe
crossed a narrow intervening valleyand began to scale it. He
soon found that he had undertaken a tremendous task; but the
pride of man is never more obstinate than when climbing
mountains. The ascent was so steep and rugged that he and his
companion were frequently obliged to clamber on hands and knees
with their guns slung upon their backs. Frequentlyexhausted
with fatigueand dripping with perspirationthey threw
themselves upon the snowand took handfuls of it to allay their
parching thirst. At one placethey even stripped off their coats
and hung them upon the bushesand thus lightly cladproceeded
to scramble over these eternal snows. As they ascended still
higherthere were cool breezes that refreshed and braced them
and springing with new ardor to their taskthey at length
attained the summit.

Here a scene burst upon the view of Captain Bonnevillethat for
a time astonished and overwhelmed him with its immensity. He
stoodin factupon that dividing ridge which Indians regard as
the crest of the world; and on each side of whichthe landscape
may be said to decline to the two cardinal oceans of the globe.
Whichever way he turned his eyeit was confounded by the
vastness and variety of objects. Beneath himthe Rocky Mountains
seemed to open all their secret recesses: deepsolemn valleys;


treasured lakes; dreary passes; rugged defilesand foaming
torrents; while beyond their savage precinctsthe eye was lost
in an almost immeasurable landscape; stretching on every side
into dim and hazy distancelike the expanse of a summer's sea.
Whichever way he lookedhe beheld vast plains glimmering with
reflected sunshine; mighty streams wandering on their shining
course toward either oceanand snowy mountainschain beyond
chainand peak beyond peaktill they melted like clouds into
the horizon. For a timethe Indian fable seemed realized: he had
attained that height from which the Blackfoot warriorafter
deathfirst catches a view of the land of soulsand beholds the
happy hunting grounds spread out below himbrightening with the
abodes of the free and generous spirits. The captain stood for a
long while gazing upon this scenelost in a crowd of vague and
indefinite ideas and sensations. A long-drawn inspiration at
length relieved him from this enthralment of the mindand he
began to analyze the parts of this vast panorama. A simple
enumeration of a few of its features may give some idea of its
collective grandeur and magnificence.

The peak on which the captain had taken his stand commanded the
whole Wind River chain; whichin factmay rather be considered
one immense mountainbroken into snowy peaks and lateral spurs
and seamed with narrow valleys. Some of these valleys glittered
with silver lakes and gushing streams; the fountain headsas it
wereof the mighty tributaries to the Atlantic and Pacific
Oceans. Beyond the snowy peaksto the southand farfar below
the mountain rangethe gentle rivercalled the Sweet Waterwas
seen pursuing its tranquil way through the rugged regions of the
Black Hills. In the eastthe head waters of Wind River wandered
through a plainuntilmingling in one powerful currentthey
forced their way through the range of Horn Mountainsand were
lost to view. To the north were caught glimpses of the upper
streams of the Yellowstonethat great tributary of the Missouri.
In another direction were to be seen some of the sources of the
Oregonor Columbiaflowing to the northwestpast those
towering landmarks the Three Tetonsand pouring down into the
great lava plain; whilealmost at the captain's feetthe Green
Riveror Colorado of the Westset forth on its wandering
pilgrimage to the Gulf of California; at first a mere mountain
torrentdashing northward over a crag and precipicein a
succession of cascadesand tumbling into the plain where
expanding into an ample riverit circled away to the southand
after alternately shining out and disappearing in the mazes of
the vast landscapewas finally lost in a horizon of mountains.
The day was calm and cloudlessand the atmosphere so pure that
objects were discernible at an astonishing distance. The whole of
this immense area was inclosed by an outer range of shadowy
peakssome of them faintly marked on the horizonwhich seemed
to wall it in from the rest of the earth.

It is to be regretted that Captain Bonneville had no instruments
with him with which to ascertain the altitude of this peak. He
gives it as his opinion that it is the loftiest point of the
North American continent; but of this we have no satisfactory
proof. It is certain that the Rocky Mountains are of an altitude
vastly superior to what was formerly supposed. We rather incline
to the opinion that the highest peak is further to the northward
and is the same measured by Mr. Thompsonsurveyor to the
Northwest Company; whoby the joint means of the barometer and
trigonometric measurementascertained it to be twenty-five
thousand feet above the level of the sea; an elevation only
inferior to that of the Himalayas.


For a long timeCaptain Bonneville remained gazing around him
with wonder and enthusiasm; at length the chill and wintry winds
whirling about the snow-clad heightadmonished him to descend.
He soon regained the spot where he and his companions [companion]
had thrown off their coatswhich were now gladly resumedand
retracing their course down the peakthey safely rejoined their
companions on the border of the lake.

Notwithstanding the savage and almost inaccessible nature of
these mountainsthey have their inhabitants. As one of the party
was out huntinghe came upon the solitary track of a man in a
lonely valley. Following it uphe reached the brow of a cliff
whence he beheld three savages running across the valley below
him. He fired his gun to call their attentionhoping to induce
them to turn back. They only fled the fasterand disappeared
among the rocks. The hunter returned and reported what he had
seen. Captain Bonneville at once concluded that these belonged to
a kind of hermit racescanty in numberthat inhabit the highest
and most inaccessible fastnesses. They speak the Shoshonie
languageand probably are offsets from that tribethough they
have peculiarities of their ownwhich distinguish them from all
other Indians. They are miserably poor; own no horsesand are
destitute of every convenience to be derived from an intercourse
with the whites. Their weapons are bows and stone-pointed arrows
with which they hunt the deerthe elkand the mountain sheep.
They are to be found scattered about the countries of the
ShoshonieFlatheadCrowand Blackfeet tribes; but their
residences are always in lonely placesand the clefts of the
rocks.

Their footsteps are often seen by the trappers in the high and
solitary valleys among the mountainsand the smokes of their
fires descried among the precipicesbut they themselves are
rarely met withand still more rarely brought to a parleyso
great is their shynessand their dread of strangers.

As their poverty offers no temptation to the marauderand as
they are inoffensive in their habitsthey are never the objects
of warfare: should one of themhoweverfall into the hands of a
war partyhe is sure to be made a sacrificefor the sake of
that savage trophya scalpand that barbarous ceremonya scalp
dance. These forlorn beingsforming a mere link between human
nature and the brutehave been looked down upon with pity and
contempt by the creole trapperswho have given them the
appellation of "les dignes de pitie or the objects of pity.";
They appear more worthy to be called the wild men of the
mountains.

26.
A retrogade move Channel of a mountain torrent Alpine
scenery Cascades Beaver valleys Beavers at work Their
architecture Their modes of felling trees Mode of trapping
beaver Contests of skill A beaver "up to trap" Arrival at the
Green River caches


THE VIEW from the snowy peak of the Wind River Mountainswhile
it had excited Captain Bonneville's enthusiasmhad satisfied him
that it would be useless to force a passage westwardthrough
multiplying barriers of cliffs and precipices. Turning his face
eastwardthereforehe endeavored to regain the plains
intending to make the circuit round the southern point of the
mountain. To descendand to extricate himself from the heart of


this rock-piled wildernesswas almost as difficult as to
penetrate it. Taking his course down the ravine of a tumbling
streamthe commencement of some future riverhe descended from
rock to rockand shelf to shelfbetween stupendous cliffs and
beetling crags that sprang up to the sky. Often he had to cross
and recross the rushing torrentas it wound foaming and roaring
down its broken channelor was walled by perpendicular
precipices; and imminent was the hazard of breaking the legs of
the horses in the clefts and fissures of slippery rocks. The
whole scenery of this deep ravine was of Alpine wildness and
sublimity. Sometimes the travellers passed beneath cascades which
pitched from such lofty heights that the water fell into the
stream like heavy rain. In other placestorrents came tumbling
from crag to cragdashing into foam and sprayand making
tremendous din and uproar.

On the second day of their descentthe travellershaving got
beyond the steepest pitch of the mountainscame to where the
deep and rugged ravine began occasionally to expand into small
levels or valleysand the stream to assume for short intervals a
more peaceful character. Herenot merely the river itselfbut
every rivulet flowing into itwas dammed up by communities of
industrious beaversso as to inundate the neighborhoodand make
continual swamps.

During a mid-day halt in one of these beaver valleysCaptain
Bonneville left his companionsand strolled down the course of
the stream to reconnoitre. He had not proceeded far when he came
to a beaver pondand caught a glimpse of one of its painstaking
inhabitants busily at work upon the dam. The curiosity of the
captain was arousedto behold the mode of operating of this
far-famed architect; he moved forwardthereforewith the utmost
cautionparting the branches of the water willows without making
any noiseuntil having attained a position commanding a view of
the whole pondhe stretched himself flat on the groundand
watched the solitary workman. In a little whilethree others
appeared at the head of the dambringing sticks and bushes. With
these they proceeded directly to the barrierwhich Captain
Bonneville perceived was in need of repair. Having deposited
their loads upon the broken partthey dived into the waterand
shortly reappeared at the surface. Each now brought a quantity of
mudwith which he would plaster the sticks and bushes just
deposited. This kind of masonry was continued for some time
repeated supplies of wood and mud being broughtand treated in
the same manner. This donethe industrious beavers indulged in a
little recreationchasing each other about the ponddodging and
whisking about on the surfaceor diving to the bottom; and in
their frolicoften slapping their tails on the water with a loud
clacking sound. While they were thus amusing themselvesanother
of the fraternity made his appearanceand looked gravely on
their sports for some timewithout offering to join in them. He
then climbed the bank close to where the captain was concealed
andrearing himself on his hind quartersin a sitting position
put his forepaws against a young pine treeand began to cut the
bark with his teeth. At times he would tear off a small piece
and holding it between his pawsand retaining his sedentary
positionwould feed himself with itafter the fashion of a
monkey. The object of the beaverhoweverwas evidently to cut
down the tree; and he was proceeding with his workwhen he was
alarmed by the approach of Captain Bonneville's menwhofeeling
anxious at the protracted absence of their leaderwere coming in
search of him. At the sound of their voicesall the beavers
busy as well as idledived at once beneath the surfaceand were
no more to be seen. Captain Bonneville regretted this


interruption. He had heard much of the sagacity of the beaver in
cutting down treesin whichit is saidthey manage to make
them fall into the waterand in such a position and direction as
may be most favorable for conveyance to the desired point. In the
present instancethe tree was a tall straight pineand as it
grew perpendicularlyand there was not a breath of air stirring
the beaver could have felled it in any direction he pleasedif
really capable of exercising a discretion in the matter. He was
evidently engaged in "belting" the treeand his first incision
had been on the side nearest to the water.

Captain Bonnevillehoweverdiscreditson the wholethe
alleged sagacity of the beaver in this particularand thinks the
animal has no other aim than to get the tree downwithout any of
the subtle calculation as to its mode or direction of falling.
This attributehe thinkshas been ascribed to them from the
circumstance that most trees growing near water-courseseither
lean bodily toward the streamor stretch their largest limbs in
that directionto benefit by the spacethe lightand the air
to be found there. The beaverof courseattacks those trees
which are nearest at handand on the banks of the stream or
pond. He makes incisions round themor in technical phrase
belts them with his teethand when they fallthey naturally
take the direction in which their trunks or branches
preponderate.

I have often,says Captain Bonnevilleseen trees measuring
eighteen inches in diameter, at the places where they had been
cut through by the beaver, but they lay in all directions, and
often very inconveniently for the after purposes of the animal.
In fact, so little ingenuity do they at times display in this
particular, that at one of our camps on Snake River, a beaver was
found with his head wedged into the cut which he had made, the
tree having fallen upon him and held him prisoner until he died.

Great choiceaccording to the captainis certainly displayed by
the beaver in selecting the wood which is to furnish bark for
winter provision. The whole beaver householdold and youngset
out upon this businessand will often make long journeys before
they are suited. Sometimes they cut down trees of the largest
size and then cull the branchesthe bark of which is most to
their taste. These they cut into lengths of about three feet
convey them to the waterand float them to their lodgeswhere
they are stored away for winter. They are studious of cleanliness
and comfort in their lodgesand after their repastswill carry
out the sticks from which they have eaten the barkand throw
them into the current beyond the barrier. They are jealoustoo
of their territoriesand extremely pugnaciousnever permitting
a strange beaver to enter their premisesand often fighting with
such virulence as almost to tear each other to pieces. In the
springwhich is the breeding seasonthe male leaves the female
at homeand sets off on a tour of pleasurerambling often to a
great distancerecreating himself in every clear and quiet
expanse of water on his wayand climbing the banks occasionally
to feast upon the tender sprouts of the young willows. As summer
advanceshe gives up his bachelor ramblesand bethinking
himself of housekeeping dutiesreturns home to his mate and his
new progenyand marshals them all for the foraging expedition in
quest of winter provisions.

After having shown the public spirit of this praiseworthy little
animal as a member of a communityand his amiable and exemplary
conduct as the father of a familywe grieve to record the perils
with which he is environedand the snares set for him and his


painstaking household.

Practicesays Captain Bonnevillehas given such a quickness of
eye to the experienced trapper in all that relates to his
pursuitthat he can detect the slightest sign of beaverhowever
wild; and although the lodge may be concealed by close thickets
and overhanging willowshe can generallyat a single glance
make an accurate guess at the number of its inmates. He now goes
to work to set his trap; planting it upon the shorein some
chosen placetwo or three inches below the surface of the water
and secures it by a chain to a pole set deep in the mud. A small
twig is then stripped of its barkand one end is dipped in the
medicine,as the trappers term the peculiar bait which they
employ. This end of the stick rises about four inches above the
surface of the waterthe other end is planted between the jaws
of the trap. The beaverpossessing an acute sense of smellis
soon attracted by the odor of the bait. As he raises his nose
toward ithis foot is caught in the trap. In his fright he
throws a somerset into the deep water. The trapbeing fastened
to the poleresists all his efforts to drag it to the shore; the
chain by which it is fastened defies his teeth; he struggles for
a timeand at length sinks to the bottom and is drowned.

Upon rocky bottomswhere it is not possible to plant the pole
it is thrown into the stream. The beaverwhen entrappedoften
gets fastened by the chain to sunken logs or floating timber; if
he gets to shorehe is entangled in the thickets of brook
willows. In such caseshoweverit costs the trapper diligent
searchand sometimes a bout at swimmingbefore he finds his
game.

Occasionally it happens that several members of a beaver family
are trapped in succession. The survivors then become extremely
shyand can scarcely be "brought to medicine to use the
trapper's phrase for taking the bait." In such casethe trapper
gives up the use of the baitand conceals his traps in the usual
paths and crossing places of the household. The beaver now being
completely "up to trap approaches them cautiously, and springs
them ingeniously with a stick. At other times, he turns the traps
bottom upwards, by the same means, and occasionally even drags
them to the barrier and conceals them in the mud. The trapper now
gives up the contest of ingenuity, and shouldering his traps,
marches off, admitting that he is not yet up to beaver."

On the day following Captain Bonneville's supervision of the
industrious and frolicsome community of beaversof which he has
given so edifying an accounthe succeeded in extricating himself
from the Wind River Mountainsand regaining the plain to the
eastwardmade a great bend to the southso as to go round the
bases of the mountainsand arrived without further incident of
importanceat the old place of rendezvous in Green River valley
on the 17th of September.

He found the cachesin which he had deposited his superfluous
goods and equipmentsall safeand having opened and taken from
them the necessary supplieshe closed them again; taking care to
obliterate all traces that might betray them to the keen eyes of
Indian marauders.

27.
Route toward Wind River Dangerous neighborhood Alarms and


precautions A sham encampment Apparition of an Indian
spy Midnight move A mountain defile The Wind River

valley Tracking a party Deserted camps Symptoms of Crows Meeting
of comrades A trapper entrapped Crow pleasantry Crow spies A
decampment Return to Green River valley Meeting with
Fitzpatrick's party Their adventures among the Crows Orthodox
Crows

ON THE 18TH of SeptemberCaptain Bonneville and his three
companions set outbright and earlyto rejoin the main party
from which they had parted on Wind River. Their route lay up the
Green River valleywith that stream on their right handand
beyond itthe range of Wind River Mountains. At the head of the
valleythey were to pass through a defile which would bring them
out beyond the northern end of these mountainsto the head of
Wind River; where they expected to meet the main partyaccording
to arrangement.

We have already adverted to the dangerous nature of this
neighborhoodinfested by roving bands of Crows and Blackfeet; to
whom the numerous defiles and passes of the country afford
capital places for ambush and surprise. The travellers
thereforekept a vigilant eye upon everything that might give
intimation of lurking danger.

About two hours after mid-dayas they reached the summit of a
hillthey discovered buffalo on the plain belowrunning in
every direction. One of the mentoofancied he heard the report
of a gun. It was concludedthereforethat there was some party
of Indians belowhunting the buffalo.

The horses were immediately concealed in a narrow ravine; and the
captainmounting an eminencebut concealing himself from view
reconnoitred the whole neighborhood with a telescope. Not an
Indian was to be seen; soafter halting about an hourhe
resumed his journey. Convincedhoweverthat he was in a
dangerous neighborhoodhe advanced with the utmost caution;
winding his way through hollows and ravinesand avoidingas
much as possibleany open tractor rising groundthat might
betray his little party to the watchful eye of an Indian scout.

Arrivingat lengthat the edge of the open meadow-land
bordering on the riverhe again observed the buffaloas far as
he could seescampering in great alarm. Once more concealing the
horseshe and his companions remained for a long time watching
the various groups of the animalsas each caught the panic and
started off; but they sought in vain to discover the cause.

They were now about to enter the mountain defileat the head of
Green River valleywhere they might be waylaid and attacked;
theythereforearranged the packs on their horsesin the
manner most secure and convenient for sudden flightshould such
be necessary. This donethey again set forwardkeeping the most
anxious look-out in every direction.

It was now drawing toward evening; but they could not think of
encamping for the nightin a place so full of danger. Captain
Bonnevillethereforedetermined to halt about sunsetkindle a
fireas if for encampmentcook and eat supper; butas soon as
it was sufficiently darkto make a rapid move for the summit of
the mountainand seek some secluded spot for their night's
lodgings.

Accordinglyas the sun went downthe little party came to a


haltmade a large firespitted their buffalo meat on wooden
sticksandwhen sufficiently roastedplanted the savory viands
before them; cutting off huge slices with their hunting knives
and supping with a hunter's appetite. The light of their fire
would not failas they knewto attract the attention of any
Indian horde in the neighborhood; but they trusted to be off and
awaybefore any prowlers could reach the place. While they were
supping thus hastilyhoweverone of their party suddenly
started up and shouted "Indians! " All were instantly on their
feetwith their rifles in their hands; but could see no enemy.
The manhoweverdeclared that he had seen an Indian advancing
cautiouslyalong the trail which they had made in coming to the
encampment; whothe moment he was perceivedhad thrown himself
on the groundand disappeared. He urged Captain Bonneville
instantly to decamp. The captainhowevertook the matter more
coolly. The single factthat the Indian had endeavored to hide
himselfconvinced him that he was not one of a partyon the
advance to make an attack. He wasprobablysome scoutwho had
followed up their trailuntil he came in sight of their fire. He
wouldin such casereturnand report what he had seen to his
companions. Thesesupposing the white men had encamped for the
nightwould keep aloof until very latewhen all should be
asleep. They wouldthenaccording to Indian tacticsmake their
stealthy approachesand place themselves in ambush around
preparatory to their attackat the usual hour of daylight.

Such was Captain Bonneville's conclusion; in consequence of
whichhe counselled his men to keep perfectly quietand act as
if free from all alarmuntil the proper time arrived for a move.
Theyaccordinglycontinued their repast with pretended appetite
and jollity; and then trimmed and replenished their fireas if
for a bivouac. As soonhoweveras the night had completely set
inthey left their fire blazing; walked quietly among the
willowsand then leaping into their saddlesmade off as
noiselessly as possible. In proportion as they left the point of
danger behind themthey relaxed in their rigid and anxious
taciturnityand began to joke at the expense of their enemy;
whom they pictured to themselves mousing in the neighborhood of
their deserted firewaiting for the proper time of attackand
preparing for a grand disappointment.

About midnightfeeling satisfied that they had gained a secure
distancethey posted one of their number to keep watchin case
the enemy should follow on their trailand thenturning
abruptly into a dense and matted thicket of willowshalted for
the night at the foot of the mountaininstead of making for the
summitas they had originally intended.

A trapper in the wildernesslike a sailor on the oceansnatches
morsels of enjoyment in the midst of troubleand sleeps soundly
when surrounded by danger. The little party now made their
arrangements for sleep with perfect calmness; they did not
venture to make a fire and cookit is truethough generally
done by hunters whenever they come to a haltand have
provisions. They comforted themselveshoweverby smoking a
tranquil pipe; and then calling in the watchand turning loose
the horsesstretched themselves on their palletsagreed that
whoever should first awakeshould rouse the restand in a
little while were all as sound asleep as though in the midst of a
fortress.

A little before daythey were all on the alert; it was the hour
for Indian maraud. A sentinel was immediately detachedto post
himself at a little distance on their trailand give the alarm


should he see or hear an enemy.

With the first blink of dawnthe rest sought the horses; brought
them to the campand tied them upuntil an hour after sunrise;
whenthe sentinel having reported that all was wellthey sprang
once more into their saddlesand pursued the most covert and
secret paths up the mountainavoiding the direct route.

At noonthey halted and made a hasty repast; and then bent their
course so as to regain the route from which they had diverged.
They were now made sensible of the danger from which they had
just escaped. There were tracks of Indianswho had evidently
been in pursuit of them; but had recently returnedbaffled in
their search.

Trusting that they had now got a fair startand could not be
overtaken before nighteven in case the Indians should renew the
chasethey pushed briskly forwardand did not encamp until
late; when they cautiously concealed themselves in a secure nook
of the mountains.

Without any further alarmthey made their way to the head waters
of Wind Riverand reached the neighborhood in which they had
appointed the rendezvous with their companions. It was within the
precincts of the Crow country; the Wind River valley being one of
the favorite haunts of that restless tribe. After much searching
Captain Bonneville came upon a trail which had evidently been
made by his main party. It was so oldhoweverthat he feared
his people might have left the neighborhood; driven offperhaps
by some of those war parties which were on the prowl. He
continued his search with great anxietyand no little fatigue;
for his horses were jadedand almost crippledby their forced
marches and scramblings through rocky defiles.

On the following dayabout noonCaptain Bonneville came upon a
deserted camp of his peoplefrom which they hadevidently
turned back; but he could find no signs to indicate why they had
done so; whether they had met with misfortuneor molestationor
in what direction they had gone. He was nowmore than ever
perplexed.

On the following dayhe resumed his march with increasing
anxiety. The feet of his horses had by this time become so worn
and wounded by the rocksthat he had to make moccasons for them
of buffalo hide. About noonhe came to another deserted camp of
his men; but soon after lost their trail. After great searchhe
once more found itturning in a southerly direction along the
eastern bases of the Wind River Mountainswhich towered to the
right. He now pushed forward with all possible speedin hopes of
overtaking the party. At nighthe slept at another of their
campsfrom which they had but recently departed. When the day
dawned sufficiently to distinguish objectshe perceived the
danger that must be dogging the heels of his main party. All
about the camp were traces of Indians who must have been prowling
about it at the time his people had passed the night there; and
who must still be hovering about them. Convincednowthat the
main party could not be at any great distancehe mounted a scout
on the best horseand sent him forward to overtake themto warn
them of their dangerand to order them to haltuntil he should
rejoin them.

In the afternoonto his great joyhe met the scout returning
with six comrades from the main partyleading fresh horses for
his accommodation; and on the following day (September 25th)all


hands were once more reunitedafter a separation of nearly three
weeks. Their meeting was hearty and joyous; for they had both
experienced dangers and perplexities.

The main partyin pursuing their course up the Wind River
valleyhad been dogged the whole way by a war party of Crows. In
one placethey had been fired uponbut without injury; in
another placeone of their horses had been cut looseand
carried off. At lengththey were so closely besetthat they
were obliged to make a retrogade movelest they should be
surprised and overcome. This was the movement which had caused
such perplexity to Captain Bonneville.

The whole party now remained encamped for two or three daysto
give repose to both men and horses. Some of the trappers
howeverpursued their vocations about the neighboring streams.
While one of them was setting his trapshe heard the tramp of
horsesand looking upbeheld a party of Crow braves moving
along at no great distancewith a considerable cavalcade. The
trapper hastened to conceal himselfbut was discerned by the
quick eye of the savages. With whoops and yellsthey dragged him
from his hiding-placeflourished over his head their tomahawks
and scalping-knivesand for a timethe poor trapper gave
himself up for lost. Fortunatelythe Crows were in a jocose
rather than a sanguinary mood. They amused themselves heartily
for a whileat the expense of his terrors; and after having
played off divers Crow pranks and pleasantriessuffered him to
depart unharmed. It is truethey stripped him completelyone
taking his horseanother his guna third his trapsa fourth
his blanketand so onthrough all his accoutrementsand even
his clothinguntil he was stark naked; but then they generously
made him a present of an old tattered buffalo robeand dismissed
himwith many complimentary speechesand much laughter. When
the trapper returned to the campin such sorry plighthe was
greeted with peals of laughter from his comrades and seemed more
mortified by the style in which he had been dismissedthan
rejoiced at escaping with his life. A circumstance which he
related to Captain Bonnevillegave some insight into the cause
of this extreme jocularity on the part of the Crows. They had
evidently had a run of luckandlike winning gamblerswere in
high good humor. Among twenty-six fine horsesand some mules
which composed their cavalcadethe trapper recognized a number
which had belonged to Fitzpatrick's brigadewhen they parted
company on the Bighorn. It was supposedthereforethat these
vagabonds had been on his trailand robbed him of part of his
cavalry.

On the day following this affairthree Crows came into Captain
Bonneville's campwith the most easyinnocentif not impudent
air imaginable; walking about with the imperturbable coolness and
unconcernin which the Indian rivals the fine gentleman. As they
had not been of the set which stripped the trapperthough
evidently of the same bandthey were not molested. Indeed
Captain Bonneville treated them with his usual kindness and
hospitality; permitting them to remain all day in the campand
even to pass the night there. At the same timehoweverhe
caused a strict watch to be maintained on all their movements;
and at nightstationed an armed sentinel near them. The Crows
remonstrated against the latter being armed. This only made the
captain suspect them to be spieswho meditated treachery; he
redoubledthereforehis precautions. At the same timehe
assured his gueststhat while they were perfectly welcome to the
shelter and comfort of his campyetshould any of their tribe
venture to approach during the nightthey would certainly be


shot; which would be a very unfortunate circumstanceand much to
be deplored. To the latter remarkthey fully assented; and
shortly afterward commenced a wild songor chantwhich they
kept up for a long timeand in which they very probably gave
their friendswho might be prowling round the campnotice that
the white men were on the alert. The night passed away without
disturbance. In the morningthe three Crow guests were very
pressing that Captain Bonneville and his party should accompany
them to their campwhich they said was close by. Instead of
accepting their invitationCaptain Bonneville took his departure
with all possible dispatcheager to be out of the vicinity of
such a piratical horde; nor did he relax the diligence of his
marchuntilon the second dayhe reached the banks of the
Sweet Waterbeyond the limits of the Crow countryand a heavy
fall of snow had obliterated all traces of his course.

He now continued on for some few daysat a slower paceround
the point of the mountain toward Green Riverand arrived once
more at the cacheson the 14th of October.

Here they found traces of the band of Indians who had hunted them
in the defile toward the head waters of Wind River. Having lost
all trace of them on their way over the mountainsthey had
turned and followed back their trail down the Green River valley
to the caches. One of these they had discovered and broken open
but it fortunately contained nothing but fragments of old iron
which they had scattered about in all directionsand then
departed. In examining their deserted campCaptain Bonneville
discovered that it numbered thirty-nine firesand had more
reason than ever to congratulate himself on having escaped the
clutches of such a formidable band of freebooters.

He now turned his course southwardunder cover of the mountains
and on the 25th of October reached Liberge's Forda tributary of
the Coloradowhere he came suddenly upon the trail of this same
war partywhich had crossed the stream so recently that the
banks were yet wet with the water that had been splashed upon
them. To judge from their tracksthey could not be less than
three hundred warriorsand apparently of the Crow nation.

Captain Bonneville was extremely uneasy lest this overpowering
force should come upon him in some place where he would not have
the means of fortifying himself promptly. He now moved toward
Hane's Forkanother tributary of the Coloradowhere he
encampedand remained during the 26th of October. Seeing a large
cloud of smoke to the southhe supposed it to arise from some
encampment of Shoshoniesand sent scouts to procure information
and to purchase a lodge. It wasin facta band of Shoshonies
but with them were encamped Fitzpatrick and his party of
trappers. That active leader had an eventful story to relate of
his fortunes in the country of the Crows. After parting with
Captain Bonneville on the banks of the Bighornhe made for the
westto trap upon Powder and Tongue Rivers. He had between
twenty and thirty men with himand about one hundred horses. So
large a cavalcade could not pass through the Crow country without
attracting the attention of its freebooting hordes. A large band
of Crows was soon on their tracesand came up with them on the
5th of Septemberjust as they had reached Tongue River. The Crow
chief came forward with great appearance of friendshipand
proposed to Fitzpatrick that they should encamp together. The
latterhowevernot having any faith in Crowsdeclined the
invitationand pitched his camp three miles off. He then rode
over with two or three mento visit the Crow chiefby whom he
was received with great apparent cordiality. In the meantime


howevera party of young braveswho considered them absolved by
his distrust from all scruples of honormade a circuit
privatelyand dashed into his encampment. Captain Stewartwho
had remained there in the absence of Fitzpatrickbehaved with
great spirit; but the Crows were too numerous and active. They
had got possession of the campand soon made booty of every
thing --carrying off all the horses. On their way back they met
Fitzpatrick returning to his camp; and finished their exploit by
rifling and nearly stripping him.

A negotiation now took place between the plundered white men and
the triumphant Crows; what eloquence and management Fitzpatrick
made use ofwe do not knowbut he succeeded in prevailing upon
the Crow chieftain to return him his horses and many of his
traps; together with his rifles and a few rounds of ammunition
for each man. He then set out with all speed to abandon the Crow
countrybefore he should meet with any fresh disasters.

After his departurethe consciences of some of the most orthodox
Crows pricked them sorely for having suffered such a cavalcade to
escape out of their hands. Anxious to wipe off so foul a stigma
on the reputation of the Crow nationthey followed on his trial
nor quit hovering about him on his march until they had stolen a
number of his best horses and mules. It wasdoubtlessthis same
band which came upon the lonely trapper on the Popo Agieand
generously gave him an old buffalo robe in exchange for his
riflehis trapsand all his accoutrements. With these
anecdoteswe shallfor presenttake our leave of the Crow
country and its vagabond chivalry.

28.
A region of natural curiosities The plain of white clay Hot
springs The Beer Spring Departure to seek the free trappers Plain
of Portneuf Lava Chasms and gullies Bannack Indians Their hunt

of the buffalo Hunter's feast Trencher heroes Bullying of an

absent foe The damp comrade The Indian spy Meeting with

Hodgkiss His adventures Poordevil Indians Triumph of the

Bannacks Blackfeet policy in war

CROSSING AN ELEVATED RIDGECaptain Bonneville now came upon Bear
Riverwhichfrom its source to its entrance into the Great Salt
Lakedescribes the figure of a horse-shoe. One of the principal
head waters of this riveralthough supposed to abound with
beaverhas never been visited by the trapper; rising among
rugged mountainsand being barricadoed [sic] by fallen pine
trees and tremendous precipices.

Proceeding down this riverthe party encampedon the 6th of
Novemberat the outlet of a lake about thirty miles longand
from two to three miles in widthcompletely imbedded in low
ranges of mountainsand connected with Bear River by an
impassable swamp. It is called the Little Laketo distinguish it
from the great one of salt water.

On the 10th of NovemberCaptain Bonneville visited a place in
the neighborhood which is quite a region of natural curiosities.
An area of about half a mile square presents a level surface of
white clay or fuller's earthperfectly spotlessresembling a
great slab of Parian marbleor a sheet of dazzling snow. The
effect is strikingly beautiful at all times: in summerwhen it
is surrounded with verdureor in autumnwhen it contrasts its
bright immaculate surface with the withered herbage. Seen from a


distant eminenceit then shines like a mirrorset in the brown
landscape. Around this plain are clustered numerous springs of
various sizes and temperatures. One of themof scalding heat
boils furiously and incessantlyrising to the height of two or
three feet. In another placethere is an aperture in the earth
from which rushes a column of steam that forms a perpetual cloud.
The ground for some distance around sounds hollowand startles
the solitary trapperas he hears the tramp of his horse giving
the sound of a muffled drum. He pictures to himself a mysterious
gulf belowa place of hidden firesand gazes round him with awe
and uneasiness.

The most noted curiosityhoweverof this singular regionis
the Beer Springof which trappers give wonderful accounts. They
are said to turn aside from their route through the country to
drink of its waterswith as much eagerness as the Arab seeks
some famous well of the desert. Captain Bonneville describes it
as having the taste of beer. His men drank it with avidityand
in copious draughts. It did not appear to him to possess any
medicinal propertiesor to produce any peculiar effects. The
Indianshoweverrefuse to taste itand endeavor to persuade
the white men from doing so.

We have heard this also called the Soda Springand described as
containing iron and sulphur. It probably possesses some of the
properties of the Ballston water.

The time had now arrived for Captain Bonneville to go in quest of
the party of free trappersdetached in the beginning of July
under the command of Mr. Hodgkissto trap upon the head waters
of Salmon River. His intention was to unite them with the party
with which he was at present travellingthat all might go into
quarters together for the winter. Accordinglyon the 11th of
Novemberhe took a temporary leave of his bandappointing a
rendezvous on Snake Riverandaccompanied by three menset out
upon his journey. His route lay across the plain of the Portneuf
a tributary stream of Snake Rivercalled after an unfortunate
Canadian trapper murdered by the Indians. The whole country
through which he passed bore evidence of volcanic convulsions and
conflagrations in the olden time. Great masses of lava lay
scattered about in every direction; the crags and cliffs had
apparently been under the action of fire; the rocks in some
places seemed to have been in a state of fusion; the plain was
rent and split with deep chasms and gulliessome of which were
partly filled with lava.

They had not proceeded farhoweverbefore they saw a party of
horsemengalloping full tilt toward them. They instantly turned
and made full speed for the covert of a woody streamto fortify
themselves among the trees. The Indians came to a haltand one
of them came forward alone. He reached Captain Bonneville and his
men just as they were dismounting and about to post themselves. A
few words dispelled all uneasiness. It was a party of twenty-five
Bannack Indiansfriendly to the whitesand they proposed
through their envoythat both parties should encamp together
and hunt the buffaloof which they had discovered several large
herds hard by. Captain Bonneville cheerfully assented to their
propositionbeing curious to see their manner of hunting.

Both parties accordingly encamped together on a convenient spot
and prepared for the hunt. The Indians first posted a boy on a
small hill near the campto keep a look-out for enemies. The
runners,thenas they are calledmounted on fleet horsesand
armed with bows and arrowsmoved slowly and cautiously toward


the buffalokeeping as much as possible out of sightin hollows
and ravines. When within a proper distancea signal was given
and they all opened at once like a pack of houndswith a full
chorus of yellsdashing into the midst of the herdsand
launching their arrows to the right and left. The plain seemed
absolutely to shake under the tramp of the buffaloas they
scoured off. The cows in headlong panicthe bulls furious with
rageuttering deep roarsand occasionally turning with a
desperate rush upon their pursuers. Nothing could surpass the
spiritgraceand dexteritywith which the Indians managed
their horses; wheeling and coursing among the affrighted herd
and launching their arrows with unerring aim. In the midst of the
apparent confusionthey selected their victims with perfect
judgmentgenerally aiming at the fattest of the cowsthe flesh
of the bull being nearly worthlessat this season of the year.
In a few minuteseach of the hunters had crippled three or four
cows. A single shot was sufficient for the purposeand the
animalonce maimedwas left to be completely dispatched at the
end of the chase. Frequentlya cow was killed on the spot by a
single arrow. In one instanceCaptain Bonneville saw an Indian
shoot his arrow completely through the body of a cowso that it
struck in the ground beyond. The bullshoweverare not so
easily killed as the cowsand always cost the hunter several
arrows; sometimes making battle upon the horsesand chasing them
furiouslythough severely woundedwith the darts still sticking
in their flesh.

The grand scamper of the hunt being overthe Indians proceeded
to dispatch the animals that had been disabled; then cutting up
the carcassesthey returned with loads of meat to the camp
where the choicest pieces were soon roasting before large fires
and a hunters' feast succeeded; at which Captain Bonneville and
his men were qualifiedby previous fastingto perform their
parts with great vigor.

Some men are said to wax valorous upon a full stomachand such
seemed to be the case with the Bannack braveswhoin proportion
as they crammed themselves with buffalo meatgrew stout of
heartuntilthe supper at an endthey began to chant war
songssetting forth their mighty deedsand the victories they
had gained over the Blackfeet. Warming with the themeand
inflating themselves with their own eulogiesthese magnanimous
heroes of the trencher would start upadvance a short distance
beyond the light of the fireand apostrophize most vehemently
their Blackfeet enemiesas though they had been within hearing.
Rufflingand swellingand snortingand slapping their breasts
and brandishing their armsthey would vociferate all their
exploits; reminding the Blackfeet how they had drenched their
towns in tears and blood; enumerate the blows they had inflicted
the warriors they had slainthe scalps they had brought off in
triumph. Thenhaving said everything that could stir a man's
spleen or pique his valorthey would dare their imaginary
hearersnow that the Bannacks were few in numberto come and
take their revenge--receiving no reply to this valorous bravado
they would conclude by all kinds of sneers and insultsderiding
the Blackfeet for dastards and poltroonsthat dared not accept
their challenge. Such is the kind of swaggering and rhodomontade
in which the "red men" are prone to indulge in their vainglorious
moments; forwith all their vaunted taciturnitythey are
vehemently prone at times to become eloquent about their
exploitsand to sound their own trumpet.

Having vented their valor in this fierce effervescencethe
Bannack braves gradually calmed downlowered their crests


smoothed their ruffled feathersand betook themselves to sleep
without placing a single guard over their camp; so thathad the
Blackfeet taken them at their wordbut few of these braggart
heroes might have survived for any further boasting.

On the following morningCaptain Bonneville purchased a supply
of buffalo meat from his braggadocio friends; whowith all their
vaporingwere in fact a very forlorn hordedestitute of
firearmsand of almost everything that constitutes riches in
savage life. The bargain concludedthe Bannacks set off for
their villagewhich was situatedthey saidat the mouth of the
Portneufand Captain Bonneville and his companions shaped their
course toward Snake River.

Arrived on the banks of that riverhe found it rapid and
boisterousbut not too deep to be forded. In traversing it
howeverone of the horses was swept suddenly from his footing
and his rider was flung from the saddle into the midst of the
stream. Both horse and horseman were extricated without any
damageexcepting that the latter was completely drenchedso
that it was necessary to kindle a fire to dry him. While they
were thus occupiedone of the party looking upperceived an
Indian scout cautiously reconnoitring them from the summit of a
neighboring hill. The moment he found himself discoveredhe
disappeared behind the hill. From his furtive movementsCaptain
Bonneville suspected him to be a scout from the Blackfeet camp
and that he had gone to report what he had seen to his
companions. It would not do to loiter in such a neighborhoodso
the kindling of the fire was abandonedthe drenched horseman
mounted in dripping conditionand the little band pushed forward
directly into the plaingoing at a smart paceuntil they had
gained a considerable distance from the place of supposed danger.
Here encamping for the nightin the midst of abundance of sage
or wormwoodwhich afforded fodder for their horsesthey kindled
a huge fire for the benefit of their damp comradeand then
proceeded to prepare a sumptuous supper of buffalo humps and
ribsand other choice bitswhich they had brought with them.
After a hearty repastrelished with an appetite unknown to city
epicuresthey stretched themselves upon their couches of skins
and under the starry canopy of heavenenjoyed the sound and
sweet sleep of hardy and well-fed mountaineers.

They continued on their journey for several dayswithout any
incident worthy of noticeand on the 19th of Novembercame upon
traces of the party of which they were in search; such as burned
patches of prairieand deserted camping grounds. All these were
carefully examinedto discover by their freshness or antiquity
the probable time that the trappers had left them; at length
after much wandering and investigatingthey came upon the
regular trail of the hunting partywhich led into the mountains
and following it up brisklycame about two o'clock in the
afternoon of the 20thupon the encampment of Hodgkiss and his
band of free trappersin the bosom of a mountain valley.

It will be recollected that these free trapperswho were masters
of themselves and their movementshad refused to accompany
Captain Bonneville back to Green River in the preceding month of
Julypreferring to trap about the upper waters of the Salmon
Riverwhere they expected to find plenty of beaverand a less
dangerous neighborhood. Their hunt had not been very successful.
They had penetrated the great range of mountains among which some
of the upper branches of Salmon River take their risebut had
become so entangled among immense and almost impassable
barricades of fallen pinesand so impeded by tremendous


precipicesthat a great part of their season had been wasted
among these mountains. At one timethey had made their way
through themand reached the Boisee River; but meeting with a
band of Bannack Indiansfrom whom they apprehended hostilities
they had again taken shelter among the mountainswhere they were
found by Captain Bonneville. In the neighborhood of their
encampmentthe captain had the good fortune to meet with a
family of those wanderers of the mountainsemphatically called
les dignes de pitie,or Poordevil Indians. Thesehowever
appear to have forfeited the titlefor they had with them a fine
lot of skins of beaverelkdeerand mountain sheep. These
Captain Bonneville purchased from them at a fair valuationand
sent them off astonished at their own wealthand no doubt
objects of envy to all their pitiful tribe.

Being now reinforced by Hodgkiss and his band of free trappers
Captain Bonneville put himself at the head of the united parties
and set out to rejoin those he had recently left at the Beer
Springthat they might all go into winter quarters on Snake
River. On his routehe encountered many heavy falls of snow
which melted almost immediatelyso as not to impede his march
and on the 4th of Decemberhe found his other partyencamped at
the very place where he had partaken in the buffalo hunt with the
Bannacks.

That braggart horde was encamped but about three miles offand
were just then in high glee and festivityand more swaggering
than evercelebrating a prodigious victory. It appeared that a
party of their braves being out on a hunting excursion
discovered a band of Blackfeet movingas they thoughtto
surprise their hunting camp. The Bannacks immediately posted
themselves on each side of a dark ravinethrough which the enemy
must passandjust as they were entangled in the midst of it
attacked them with great fury. The Blackfeetstruck with sudden
panicthrew off their buffalo robes and fledleaving one of
their warriors dead on the spot. The victors eagerly gathered up
the spoils; but their greatest prize was the scalp of the
Blackfoot brave. This they bore off in triumph to their village
where it had ever since been an object of the greatest exultation
and rejoicing. It had been elevated upon a pole in the centre of
the villagewhere the warriors had celebrated the scalp dance
round itwith war feastswar songsand warlike harangues. It
had then been given up to the women and boys; who had paraded it
up and down the village with shouts and chants and antic dances;
occasionally saluting it with all kinds of tauntsinvectives
and revilings.

The Blackfeetin this affairdo not appear to have acted up to
the character which has rendered them objects of such terror.
Indeedtheir conduct in warto the inexperienced observeris
full of inconsistencies; at one time they are headlong in
courageand heedless of danger; at another time cautious almost
to cowardice. To understand these apparent incongruitiesone
must know their principles of warfare. A war partyhowever
triumphantif they lose a warrior in the fightbring back a
cause of mourning to their peoplewhich casts a shade over the
glory of their achievement. Hencethe Indian is often less
fierce and reckless in general battlethan he is in a private
brawl; and the chiefs are checked in their boldest undertakings
by the fear of sacrificing their warriors.

This peculiarity is not confined to the Blackfeet. Among the
Osagessays Captain Bonnevillewhen a warrior falls in battle
his comradesthough they may have fought with consummate valor


and won a glorious victorywill leave their arms upon the field
of battleand returning home with dejected countenanceswill
halt without the encampmentand wait until the relatives of the
slain come forth and invite them to mingle again with their
people.

29.
Winter camp at the Portneuf Fine springs The Bannack

Indians Their honesty Captain Bonneville prepares for an

expedition Christmas The American Falls Wild scenery Fishing

Falls Snake Indians Scenery on the Bruneau View of volcanic

country from a mountain Powder River Shoshokoesor Root
Diggers Their characterhabitshabitationsdogs Vanity at its
last shift

IN ESTABLISHING his winter camp near the PortnenfCaptain
Bonneville had drawn off to some little distance from his Bannack
friendsto avoid all annoyance from their intimacy or
intrusions. In so doinghoweverhe had been obliged to take up
his quarters on the extreme edge of the flat landwhere he was
encompassed with ice and snowand had nothing better for his
horses to subsist on than wormwood. The Bannackson the
contrarywere encamped among fine springs of waterwhere there
was grass in abundance. Some of these springs gush out of the
earth in sufficient quantity to turn a mill; and furnish
beautiful streamsclear as crystaland full of trout of a large
sizewhich may be seen darting about the transparent water.

Winter now set in regularly. The snow had fallen frequentlyand
in large quantitiesand covered the ground to a depth of a foot;
and the continued coldness of the weather prevented any thaw.

By degreesa distrust which at first subsisted between the
Indians and the trapperssubsidedand gave way to mutual
confidence and good will. A few presents convinced the chiefs
that the white men were their friends; nor were the white men
wanting in proofs of the honesty and good faith of their savage
neighbors. Occasionallythe deep snow and the want of fodder
obliged them to turn their weakest horses out to roam in quest of
sustenance. If they at any time strayed to the camp of the
Bannacksthey were immediately brought back. It must be
confessedhoweverthat if the stray horse happenedby any
chanceto be in vigorous plight and good conditionthough he
was equally sure to be returned by the honest Bannacksyet it
was always after the lapse of several daysand in a very gaunt
and jaded state; and always with the remark that they had found
him a long way off. The uncharitable were apt to surmise that he
hadin the interimbeen well used up in a buffalo hunt; but
those accustomed to Indian morality in the matter of horseflesh
considered it a singular evidence of honesty that he should be
brought back at all.

Being convincedthereforefrom theseand other circumstances
that his people were encamped in the neighborhood of a tribe as
honest as they were valiantand satisfied that they would pass
their winter unmolestedCaptain Bonneville prepared for a
reconnoitring expedition of great extent and peril. This wasto
penetrate to the Hudson's Bay establishments on the banks of the
Columbiaand to make himself acquainted with the country and the
Indian tribes; it being one part of his scheme to establish a
trading post somewhere on the lower part of the riverso as to


participate in the trade lost to the United States by the capture
of Astoria. This expedition wouldof coursetake him through
the Snake River countryand across the Blue Mountainsthe
scenes of so much hardship and disaster to Hunt and Crooksand
their Astorian bandswho first explored itand he would have to
pass through it in the same frightful seasonthe depth of
winter.

The idea of risk and hardshiphoweveronly served to stimulate
the adventurous spirit of the captain. He chose three companions
for his journeyput up a small stock of necessaries in the most
portable formand selected five horses and mules for themselves
and their baggage. He proposed to rejoin his band in the early
part of Marchat the winter encampment near the Portneuf. All
these arrangements being completedhe mounted his horse on
Christmas morningand set off with his three comrades. They
halted a little beyond the Bannack campand made their Christmas
dinnerwhichif not a very merrywas a very hearty oneafter
which they resumed their journey.

They were obliged to travel slowlyto spare their horses; for
the snow had increased in depth to eighteen inches; and though
somewhat packed and frozenwas not sufficiently so to yield firm
footing. Their route lay to the westdown along the left side of
Snake River; and they were several days in reaching the firstor
American Falls. The banks of the riverfor a considerable
distanceboth above and below the fallshave a volcanic
character: masses of basaltic rock are piled one upon another;
the water makes its way through their broken chasmsboiling
through narrow channelsor pitching in beautiful cascades over
ridges of basaltic columns.

Beyond these fallsthey came to a picturesquebut
inconsiderable streamcalled the Cassie. It runs through a level
valleyabout four miles widewhere the soil is good; but the
prevalent coldness and dryness of the climate is unfavorable to
vegetation. Near to this stream there is a small mountain of mica
slateincluding garnets. Granitein small blocksis likewise
seen in this neighborhoodand white sandstone. From this river
the travellers had a prospect of the snowy heights of the Salmon
River Mountains to the north; the nearestat least fifty miles
distant.

In pursuing his course westwardCaptain Bonneville generally
kept several miles from Snake Rivercrossing the heads of its
tributary streams; though he often found the open country so
encumbered by volcanic rocksas to render travelling extremely
difficult. Whenever he approached Snake Riverhe found it
running through a broad chasmwith steepperpendicular sides of
basaltic rock. After several days' travel across a level plain
he came to a part of the river which filled him with astonishment
and admiration. As far as the eye could reachthe river was
walled in by perpendicular cliffs two hundred and fifty feet
highbeetling like dark and gloomy battlementswhile blocks and
fragments lay in masses at their feetin the midst of the
boiling and whirling current. Just abovethe whole stream
pitched in one cascade above forty feet in heightwith a
thundering soundcasting up a volume of spray that hung in the
air like a silver mist. These are called by some the Fishing
Fallsas the salmon are taken here in immense quantities. They
cannot get by these falls.

After encamping at this place all nightCaptain Bonnevilleat
sunrisedescended with his party through a narrow ravineor


rather crevicein the vast wall of basaltic rock which bordered
the river; this being the only modefor many milesof getting
to the margin of the stream.

The snow lay in a thin crust along the banks of the riverso
that their travelling was much more easy than it had been
hitherto. There were foot tracksalsomade by the natives
which greatly facilitated their progress. Occasionallythey met
the inhabitants of this wild region; a timid raceand but
scantily provided with the necessaries of life. Their dress
consisted of a mantle about four feet squareformed of strips of
rabbit skins sewed together; this they hung over their shoulders
in the ordinary Indian mode of wearing the blanket. Their weapons
were bows and arrows; the latter tipped with obsidianwhich
abounds in the neighborhood. Their huts were shaped like
haystacksand constructed of branches of willow covered with
long grassso as to be warm and comfortable. Occasionallythey
were surrounded by small inclosures of wormwoodabout three feet
highwhich gave them a cottage-like appearance. Three or four of
these tenements were occasionally grouped together in some wild
and striking situationand had a picturesque effect. Sometimes
they were in sufficient number to form a small hamlet. From these
peopleCaptain Bonneville's party frequently purchased salmon
dried in an admirable manneras were likewise the roes. This
seemed to be their prime article of food; but they were extremely
anxious to get buffalo meat in exchange.

The high walls and rockswithin which the travellers had been so
long inclosednow occasionally presented openingsthrough which
they were enabled to ascend to the plainand to cut off
considerable bends of the river.

Throughout the whole extent of this vast and singular chasmthe
scenery of the river is said to be of the most wild and romantic
character. The rocks present every variety of masses and
grouping. Numerous small streams come rushing and boiling through
narrow clefts and ravines: one of a considerable size issued from
the face of a precipicewithin twenty-five feet of its summit;
and after running in nearly a horizontal line for about one
hundred feetfellby numerous small cascadesto the rocky bank
of the river.

In its career through this vast and singular defileSnake River
is upward of three hundred yards wideand as clear as spring
water. Sometimes it steals along with a tranquil and noiseless
course; at other timesfor miles and milesit dashes on in a
thousand rapidswild and beautiful to the eyeand lulling the
ear with the soft tumult of plashing waters.

Many of the tributary streams of Snake Riverrival it in the
wildness and picturesqueness of their scenery. That called the
Bruneau; is particularly cited. It runs through a tremendous
chasmrather than a valleyextending upwards of a hundred and
fifty miles. You come upon it on a suddenin traversing a level
plain. It seems as if you could throw a stone across from cliff
to cliff; yetthe valley is near two thousand feet deep: so that
the river looks like an inconsiderable stream. Basaltic rocks
rise perpendicularlyso that it is impossible to get from the
plain to the wateror from the river margin to the plain. The
current is bright and limpid. Hot springs are found on the
borders of this river. One bursts out of the cliffs forty feet
above the riverin a stream sufficient to turn a milland sends
up a cloud of vapor.


We find a characteristic picture of this volcanic region of
mountains and streamsfurnished by the journal of Mr. Wyeth
which lies before us; who ascended a peak in the neighborhood we
are describing. From this summitthe countryhe saysappears
an indescribable chaos; the tops of the hills exhibit the same
strata as far as the eye can reach; and appear to have once
formed the level of the country; and the valleys to be formed by
the sinking of the earthrather than the rising of the hills.
Through the deep cracks and chasms thus formedthe rivers and
brooks make their waywhich renders it difficult to follow them.
All these basaltic channels are called cut rocks by the trappers.
Many of the mountain streams disappear in the plains; either
absorbed by their thirsty soiland by the porous surface of the
lavaor swallowed up in gulfs and chasms.

On the 12th of January (1834)Captain Bonneville reached Powder
River; much the largest stream that he had seen since leaving the
Portneuf. He struck it about three miles above its entrance into
Snake River. Here he found himself above the lower narrows and
defiles of the latter riverand in an open and level country.
The natives now made their appearance in considerable numbers
and evinced the most insatiable curiosity respecting the white
men; sitting in groups for hours togetherexposed to the
bleakest windsmerely for the pleasure of gazing upon the
strangersand watching every movement. These are of that branch
of the great Snake tribe called Shoshokoesor Root Diggersfrom
their subsistingin a great measureon the roots of the earth;
though they likewise take fish in great quantitiesand huntin
a small way. They arein generalvery poor; destitute of most
of the comforts of lifeand extremely indolent: but a mild
inoffensive race. They differin many respectsfrom the other
branch of the Snake tribethe Shoshonies; who possess horses
are more roving and adventurousand hunt the buffalo.

On the following dayas Captain Bonneville approached the mouth
of Powder Riverhe discovered at least a hundred families of
these Diggersas they are familiarly calledassembled in one
place. The women and children kept at a distanceperched among
the rocks and cliffs; their eager curiosity being somewhat dashed
with fear. From their elevated poststhey scrutinized the
strangers with the most intense earnestness; regarding them with
almost as much awe as if they had been beings of a supernatural
order.

The menhoweverwere by no means so shy and reserved; but
importuned Captain Bonneville and his companions excessively by
their curiosity. Nothing escaped their notice; and any thing they
could lay their hands on underwent the most minute examination.
To get rid of such inquisitive neighborsthe travellers kept on
for a considerable distancebefore they encamped for the night.

The countryhereaboutwas generally level and sandy; producing
very little grassbut a considerable quantity of sage or
wormwood. The plains were diversified by isolated hillsall cut
offas it wereabout the same heightso as to have tabular
summits. In this they resembled the isolated hills of the great
prairieseast of the Rocky Mountains; especially those found on
the plains of the Arkansas.

The high precipices which had hitherto walled in the channel of
Snake River had now disappeared; and the banks were of the
ordinary height. It should be observedthat the great valleys or
plainsthrough which the Snake River wound its coursewere
generally of great breadthextending on each side from thirty to


forty miles; where the view was bounded by unbroken ridges of
mountains.

The travellers found but little snow in the neighborhood of
Powder Riverthough the weather continued intensely cold. They
learned a lessonhoweverfrom their forlorn friendsthe Root
Diggerswhich they subsequently found of great service in their
wintry wanderings. They frequently observed them to be furnished
with long ropestwisted from the bark of the wormwood. This they
used as a slow matchcarrying it always lighted. Whenever they
wished to warm themselvesthey would gather together a little
dry wormwoodapply the matchand in an instant produce a
cheering blaze.

Captain Bonneville gives a cheerless account of a village of
these Diggerswhich he saw in crossing the plain below Powder
River. "They live says he, without any further protection from
the inclemency of the seasonthan a sort of break-weatherabout
three feet highcomposed of sage (or wormwood)and erected
around them in the shape of a half moon." Whenever he met with
themhoweverthey had always a large suite of half-starved
dogs: for these animalsin savage as well as in civilized life
seem to be the concomitants of beggary.

These dogsit must be allowedwere of more use than the beggary
curs of cities. The Indian children used them in hunting the
small game of the neighborhoodsuch as rabbits and prairie dogs;
in which mongrel kind of chase they acquitted themselves with
some credit.

Sometimes the Diggers aspire to nobler gameand succeed in
entrapping the antelopethe fleetest animal of the prairies. The
process by which this is effected is somewhat singular. When the
snow has disappearedsays Captain Bonnevilleand the ground
become softthe women go into the thickest fields of wormwood
and pulling it up in great quantitiesconstruct with it a hedge
about three feet highinclosing about a hundred acres. A single
opening is left for the admission of the game. This donethe
women conceal themselves behind the wormwoodand wait patiently
for the coming of the antelopes; which sometimes enter this
spacious trap in considerable numbers. As soon as they are in
the women give the signaland the men hasten to play their part.
But one of them enters the pen at a time; andafter chasing the
terrified animals round the inclosureis relieved by one of his
companions. In this way the hunters take their turnsrelieving
each otherand keeping up a continued pursuit by relayswithout
fatigue to themselves. The poor antelopesin the endare so
wearied downthat the whole party of men enter and dispatch them
with clubs; not one escaping that has entered the inclosure. The
most curious circumstance in this chase isthat an animal so
fleet and agile as the antelopeand straining for its life
should range round and round this fated inclosurewithout
attempting to overleap the low barrier which surrounds it. Such
howeveris said to be the fact; and such their only mode of
hunting the antelope.

Notwithstanding the absence of all comfort and convenience in
their habitationsand the general squalidness of their
appearancethe Shoshokoes do not appear to be destitute of
ingenuity. They manufacture good ropesand even a tolerably fine
threadfrom a sort of weed found in their neighborhood; and
construct bowls and jugs out of a kind of basket-work formed from
small strips of wood plaited: theseby the aid of a little wax
they render perfectly water tight. Beside the roots on which they


mainly depend for subsistencethey collect great quantities of
seedof various kindsbeaten with one hand out of the tops of
the plants into wooden bowls held for that purpose. The seed thus
collected is winnowed and parchedand ground between two stones
into a kind of meal or flour; whichwhen mixed with waterforms
a very palatable paste or gruel.

Some of these peoplemore provident and industrious than the
restlay up a stock of dried salmonand other fishfor winter:
with thesethey were ready to traffic with the travellers for
any objects of utility in Indian life; giving a large quantity in
exchange for an awla knifeor a fish-hook. Others were in the
most abject state of want and starvation; and would even gather
up the fish-bones which the travellers threw away after a repast
warm them over again at the fireand pick them with the greatest
avidity.

The farther Captain Bonneville advanced into the country of these
Root Diggersthe more evidence he perceived of their rude and
forlorn condition. "They were destitute says he, of the
necessary covering to protect them from the weather; and seemed
to be in the most unsophisticated ignorance of any other
propriety or advantage in the use of clothing. One old dame had
absolutely nothing on her person but a thread round her neck
from which was pendant a solitary bead."

What stage of human destitutionhoweveris too destitute for
vanity! Though these naked and forlorn-looking beings had neither
toilet to arrangenor beauty to contemplatetheir greatest
passion was for a mirror. It was a "great medicine in their
eyes. The sight of one was sufficient, at any time, to throw them
into a paroxysm of eagerness and delight; and they were ready to
give anything they had for the smallest fragment in which they
might behold their squalid features. With this simple instance of
vanity, in its primitive but vigorous state, we shall close our
remarks on the Root Diggers.

30.
Temperature of the climate Root Diggers on horseback An Indian
guide Mountain prospects The Grand Rond Difficulties on Snake
River A scramble over the Blue Mountains Sufferings from
hunger Prospect of the Immahah Valley The exhausted traveller


THE TEMPERATURE of the regions west of the Rocky Mountains is
much milder than in the same latitudes on the Atlantic side; the
upper plains, however, which lie at a distance from the
sea-coast, are subject in winter to considerable vicissitude;
being traversed by lofty sierras crowned with perpetual snow,
which often produce flaws and streaks of intense cold This was
experienced by Captain Bonneville and his companions in their
progress westward. At the time when they left the Bannacks Snake
River was frozen hard: as they proceeded, the ice became broken
and floating; it gradually disappeared, and the weather became
warm and pleasant, as they approached a tributary stream called
the Little Wyer; and the soil, which was generally of a watery
clay, with occasional intervals of sand, was soft to the tread of
the horses. After a time, however, the mountains approached and
flanked the river; the snow lay deep in the valleys, and the
current was once more icebound.

Here they were visited by a party of Root Diggers, who were
apparently rising in the world, for they had horse to ride and


weapon to wear and were altogether better clad and equipped
than any of the tribe that Captain Bonneville had met with. They
were just from the plain of Boisee River, where they had left a
number of their tribe, all as well provided as themselves; having
guns, horses, and comfortable clothing. All these they obtained
from the Lower Nez Perces, with whom they were in habits [sic] of
frequent traffic. They appeared to have imbibed from that tribe
their noncombative principles, being mild and inoffensive in
their manners. Like them, also, they had something of religious
feelings; for Captain Bonneville observed that, before eating,
they washed their hands, and made a short prayer; which he
understood was their invariable custom. From these Indians, he
obtained a considerable supply of fish, and an excellent and
well-conditioned horse, to replace one which had become too weak
for the journey.

The travellers now moved forward with renovated spirits; the
snow, it is true, lay deeper and deeper as they advanced, but
they trudged on merrily, considering themselves well provided for
the journey, which could not be of much longer duration.

They had intended to proceed up the banks of Gun Creek, a stream
which flows into Snake River from the west; but were assured by
the natives that the route in that direction was impracticable.
The latter advised them to keep along Snake River, where they
would not be impeded by the snow. Taking one of the Diggers for a
guide, they set off along the river, and to their joy soon found
the country free from snow, as had been predicted, so that their
horses once more had the benefit of tolerable pasturage. Their
Digger proved an excellent guide, trudging cheerily in the
advance. He made an unsuccessful shot or two at a deer and a
beaver; but at night found a rabbit hole, whence he extracted the
occupant, upon which, with the addition of a fish given him by
the travellers, he made a hearty supper, and retired to rest,
filled with good cheer and good humor.

The next day the travellers came to where the hills closed upon
the river, leaving here and there intervals of undulating meadow
land. The river was sheeted with ice, broken into hills at long
intervals. The Digger kept on ahead of the party, crossing and
recrossing the river in pursuit of game, until, unluckily,
encountering a brother Digger, he stole off with him, without the
ceremony of leave-taking.

Being now left to themselves, they proceeded until they came to
some Indian huts, the inhabitants of which spoke a language
totally different from any they had yet heard. One, however,
understood the Nez Perce language, and through him they made
inquiries as to their route. These Indians were extremely kind
and honest, and furnished them with a small quantity of meat; but
none of them could be induced to act as guides.

Immediately in the route of the travellers lay a high mountain,
which they ascended with some difficulty. The prospect from the
summit was grand but disheartening. Directly before them towered
the loftiest peaks of Immahah, rising far higher than the
elevated ground on which they stood: on the other hand, they were
enabled to scan the course of the river, dashing along through
deep chasms, between rocks and precipices, until lost in a
distant wilderness of mountains, which closed the savage
landscape.

They remained for a long time contemplating, with perplexed and
anxious eye, this wild congregation of mountain barriers, and


seeking to discover some practicable passage. The approach of
evening obliged them to give up the task, and to seek some
camping ground for the night. Moving briskly forward, and
plunging and tossing through a succession of deep snow-drifts,
they at length reached a valley known among trappers as the
Grand Rond which they found entirely free from snow.

This is a beautiful and very fertile valley, about twenty miles
long and five or six broad; a bright cold stream called the
Fourche de Glace, or Ice River, runs through it. Its sheltered
situation, embosomed in mountains, renders it good pasturaging
ground in the winter time; when the elk come down to it in great
numbers, driven out of the mountains by the snow. The Indians
then resort to it to hunt. They likewise come to it in the summer
time to dig the camash root, of which it produces immense
quantities. When this plant is in blossom, the whole valley is
tinted by its blue flowers, and looks like the ocean when
overcast by a cloud.

After passing a night in this valley, the travellers in the
morning scaled the neighboring hills, to look out for a more
eligible route than that upon which they had unluckily fallen;
and, after much reconnoitring, determined to make their way once
more to the river, and to travel upon the ice when the banks
should prove impassable.

On the second day after this determination, they were again upon
Snake River, but, contrary to their expectations, it was nearly
free from ice. A narrow riband ran along the shore, and sometimes
there was a kind of bridge across the stream, formed of old ice
and snow. For a short time, they jogged along the bank, with
tolerable facility, but at length came to where the river forced
its way into the heart of the mountains, winding between
tremendous walls of basaltic rock, that rose perpendicularly from
the water's edge, frowning in bleak and gloomy grandeur. Here
difficulties of all kinds beset their path. The snow was from two
to three feet deep, but soft and yielding, so that the horses had
no foothold, but kept plunging forward, straining themselves by
perpetual efforts. Sometimes the crags and promontories forced
them upon the narrow riband of ice that bordered the shore;
sometimes they had to scramble over vast masses of rock which had
tumbled from the impending precipices; sometimes they had to
cross the stream upon the hazardous bridges of ice and snow,
sinking to the knee at every step; sometimes they had to scale
slippery acclivities, and to pass along narrow cornices, glazed
with ice and sleet, a shouldering wall of rock on one side, a
yawning precipice on the other, where a single false step would
have been fatal. In a lower and less dangerous pass, two of their
horses actually fell into the river; one was saved with much
difficulty, but the boldness of the shore prevented their
rescuing the other, and he was swept away by the rapid current.

In this way they struggled forward, manfully braving difficulties
and dangers, until they came to where the bed of the river was
narrowed to a mere chasm, with perpendicular walls of rock that
defied all further progress. Turning their faces now to the
mountain, they endeavored to cross directly over it; but, after
clambering nearly to the summit, found their path closed by
insurmountable barriers.

Nothing now remained but to retrace their steps. To descend a
cragged mountain, however, was more difficult and dangerous than
to ascend it. They had to lower themselves cautiously and slowly,
from steep to steep; and, while they managed with difficulty to


maintain their own footing, to aid their horses by holding on
firmly to the rope halters, as the poor animals stumbled among
slippery rocks, or slid down icy declivities. Thus, after a day
of intense cold, and severe and incessant toil, amidst the
wildest of scenery, they managed, about nightfall, to reach the
camping ground, from which they had started in the morning, and
for the first time in the course of their rugged and perilous
expedition, felt their hearts quailing under their multiplied
hardships.

A hearty supper, a tranquillizing pipe, and a sound night's
sleep, put them all in better mood, and in the morning they held
a consultation as to their future movements. About four miles
behind, they had remarked a small ridge of mountains approaching
closely to the river. It was determined to scale this ridge, and
seek a passage into the valley which must lie beyond. Should they
fail in this, but one alternative remained. To kill their horses,
dry the flesh for provisions, make boats of the hides, and, in
these, commit themselves to the stream--a measure hazardous in
the extreme.

A short march brought them to the foot of the mountain, but its
steep and cragged sides almost discouraged hope. The only chance
of scaling it was by broken masses of rock, piled one upon
another, which formed a succession of crags, reaching nearly to
the summit. Up these they wrought their way with indescribable
difficulty and peril, in a zigzag course, climbing from rock to
rock, and helping their horses up after them; which scrambled
among the crags like mountain goats; now and then dislodging some
huge stone, which, the moment they had left it, would roll down
the mountain, crashing and rebounding with terrific din. It was
some time after dark before they reached a kind of platform on
the summit of the mountain, where they could venture to encamp.
The winds, which swept this naked height, had whirled all the
snow into the valley beneath, so that the horses found tolerable
winter pasturage on the dry grass which remained exposed. The
travellers, though hungry in the extreme, were fain to make a
very frugal supper; for they saw their journey was likely to be
prolonged much beyond the anticipated term.

In fact, on the following day they discerned that, although
already at a great elevation, they were only as yet upon the
shoulder of the mountain. It proved to be a great sierra, or
ridge, of immense height, running parallel to the course of the
river, swelling by degrees to lofty peaks, but the outline gashed
by deep and precipitous ravines. This, in fact, was a part of the
chain of Blue Mountains, in which the first adventurers to
Astoria experienced such hardships.

We will not pretend to accompany the travellers step by step in
this tremendous mountain scramble, into which they had
unconsciously betrayed themselves. Day after day did their toil
continue; peak after peak had they to traverse, struggling with
difficulties and hardships known only to the mountain trapper. As
their course lay north, they had to ascend the southern faces of
the heights, where the sun had melted the snow, so as to render
the ascent wet and slippery, and to keep both men and horses
continually on the strain; while on the northern sides, the snow
lay in such heavy masses, that it was necessary to beat a track
down which the horses might be led. Every now and then, also,
their way was impeded by tall and numerous pines, some of which
had fallen, and lay in every direction.

In the midst of these toils and hardships, their provisions gave


out. For three days they were without food, and so reduced that
they could scarcely drag themselves along. At length one of the
mules, being about to give out from fatigue and famine, they
hastened to dispatch him. Husbanding this miserable supply, they
dried the flesh, and for three days subsisted upon the nutriment
extracted from the bones. As to the meat, it was packed and
preserved as long as they could do without it, not knowing how
long they might remain bewildered in these desolate regions.

One of the men was now dispatched ahead, to reconnoitre the
country, and to discover, if possible, some more practicable
route. In the meantime, the rest of the party moved on slowly.
After a lapse of three days, the scout rejoined them. He informed
them that Snake River ran immediately below the sierra or
mountainous ridge, upon which they were travelling; that it was
free from precipices, and was at no great distance from them in a
direct line; but that it would be impossible for them to reach it
without making a weary circuit. Their only course would be to
cross the mountain ridge to the left.

Up this mountain, therefore, the weary travellers directed their
steps; and the ascent, in their present weak and exhausted state,
was one of the severest parts of this most painful journey. For
two days were they toiling slowly from cliff to cliff, beating at
every step a path through the snow for their faltering horses. At
length they reached the summit, where the snow was blown off; but
in descending on the opposite side, they were often plunging
through deep drifts, piled in the hollows and ravines.

Their provisions were now exhausted, and they and their horses
almost ready to give out with fatigue and hunger; when one
afternoon, just as the sun was sinking behind a blue line of
distant mountain, they came to the brow of a height from which
they beheld the smooth valley of the Immahah stretched out in
smiling verdure below them.

The sight inspired almost a frenzy of delight. Roused to new
ardor, they forgot, for a time, their fatigues, and hurried down
the mountain, dragging their jaded horses after them, and
sometimes compelling them to slide a distance of thirty or forty
feet at a time. At length they reached the banks of the Immahah.
The young grass was just beginning to sprout, and the whole
valley wore an aspect of softness, verdure, and repose,
heightened by the contrast of the frightful region from which
they had just descended. To add to their joy, they observed
Indian trails along the margin of the stream, and other signs,
which gave them reason to believe that there was an encampment of
the Lower Nez Perces in the neighborhood, as it was within the
accustomed range of that pacific and hospitable tribe.

The prospect of a supply of food stimulated them to new exertion,
and they continued on as fast as the enfeebled state of
themselves and their steeds would permit. At length, one of the
men, more exhausted than the rest, threw himself upon the grass,
and declared he could go no further. It was in vain to attempt to
rouse him; his spirit had given out, and his replies only showed
the dogged apathy of despair. His companions, therefore, encamped
on the spot, kindled a blazing fire, and searched about for roots
with which to strengthen and revive him. They all then made a
starveling repast; but gathering round the fire, talked over past
dangers and troubles, soothed themselves with the persuasion that
all were now at an end, and went to sleep with the comforting
hope that the morrow would bring them into plentiful quarters.


31.
Progress in the valley An Indian cavalier The captain falls into
a lethargy A Nez Perce patriarch Hospitable treatment The bald
head Bargaining Value of an old plaid cloak The family horse
The cost of an Indian present

A TRANQUIL NIGHT'S REST had sufficiently restored the broken down
traveller to enable him to resume his wayfaring, and all hands
set forward on the Indian trail. With all their eagerness to
arrive within reach of succor, such was their feeble and
emaciated condition, that they advanced but slowly. Nor is it a
matter of surprise that they should almost have lost heart, as
well as strength. It was now (the 16th of February) fifty-three
days that they had been travelling in the midst of winter,
exposed to all kinds of privations and hardships: and for the
last twenty days, they had been entangled in the wild and
desolate labyrinths of the snowy mountains; climbing and
descending icy precipices, and nearly starved with cold and
hunger.

All the morning they continued following the Indian trail,
without seeing a human being, and were beginning to be
discouraged, when, about noon, they discovered a horseman at a
distance. He was coming directly toward them; but on discovering
them, suddenly reined up his steed, came to a halt, and, after
reconnoitring them for a time with great earnestness, seemed
about to make a cautious retreat. They eagerly made signs of
peace, and endeavored, with the utmost anxiety, to induce him to
approach. He remained for some time in doubt; but at length,
having satisfied himself that they were not enemies, came
galloping up to them. He was a fine, haughty-looking savage,
fancifully decorated, and mounted on a high-mettled steed, with
gaudy trappings and equipments. It was evident that he was a
warrior of some consequence among his tribe. His whole deportment
had something in it of barbaric dignity; he felt, perhaps, his
temporary superiority in personal array, and in the spirit of his
steed, to the poor, ragged, travel-worn trappers and their
half-starved horses. Approaching them with an air of protection,
he gave them his hand, and, in the Nez Perce language, invited
them to his camp, which was only a few miles distant; where he
had plenty to eat, and plenty of horses, and would cheerfully
share his good things with them.

His hospitable invitation was joyfully accepted: he lingered but
a moment, to give directions by which they might find his camp,
and then, wheeling round, and giving the reins to his mettlesome
steed, was soon out of sight. The travellers followed, with
gladdened hearts, but at a snail's pace; for their poor horses
could scarcely drag one leg after the other. Captain Bonneville,
however, experienced a sudden and singular change of feeling.
Hitherto, the necessity of conducting his party, and of providing
against every emergency, had kept his mind upon the stretch, and
his whole system braced and excited. In no one instance had he
flagged in spirit, or felt disposed to succumb. Now, however,
that all danger was over, and the march of a few miles would
bring them to repose and abundance, his energies suddenly
deserted him; and every faculty, mental and physical, was totally
relaxed. He had not proceeded two miles from the point where he
had had the interview with the Nez Perce chief, when he threw
himself upon the earth, without the power or will to move a
muscle, or exert a thought, and sank almost instantly into a


profound and dreamless sleep. His companions again came to a
halt, and encamped beside him, and there they passed the night.

The next morning, Captain Bonneville awakened from his long and
heavy sleep, much refreshed; and they all resumed their creeping
progress. They had not long been on the march, when eight or ten
of the Nez Perce tribe came galloping to meet them, leading fresh
horses to bear them to their camp. Thus gallantly mounted, they
felt new life infused into their languid frames, and dashing
forward, were soon at the lodges of the Nez Perces. Here they
found about twelve families living together, under the
patriarchal sway of an ancient and venerable chief. He received
them with the hospitality of the golden age, and with something
of the same kind of fare; for, while he opened his arms to make
them welcome, the only repast he set before them consisted of
roots. They could have wished for something more hearty and
substantial; but, for want of better, made a voracious meal on
these humble viands. The repast being over, the best pipe was
lighted and sent round: and this was a most welcome luxury,
having lost their smoking apparatus twelve days before, among the
mountains.

While they were thus enjoying themselves, their poor horses were
led to the best pastures in the neighborhood, where they were
turned loose to revel on the fresh sprouting grass; so that they
had better fare than their masters.

Captain Bonneville soon felt himself quite at home among these
quiet, inoffensive people. His long residence among their
cousins, the Upper Nez Perces, had made him conversant with their
language, modes of expression, and all their habitudes. He soon
found, too, that he was well known among them, by report, at
least, from the constant interchange of visits and messages
between the two branches of the tribe. They at first addressed
him by his name; giving him his title of captain, with a French
accent: but they soon gave him a title of their own; which, as
usual with Indian titles, had a peculiar signification. In the
case of the captain, it had somewhat of a whimsical origin.

As he sat chatting and smoking in the midst of them, he would
occasionally take off his cap. Whenever he did so, there was a
sensation in the surrounding circle. The Indians would half rise
from their recumbent posture, and gaze upon his uncovered head,
with their usual exclamation of astonishment. The worthy captain
was completely bald; a phenomenon very surprising in their eyes.
They were at a loss to know whether he had been scalped in
battle, or enjoyed a natural immunity from that belligerent
infliction. In a little while, he became known among them by an
Indian name, signifying the bald chief." "A sobriquet observes
the captain, for which I can find no parallel in history since
the days of 'Charles the Bald.'"

Although the travellers had banqueted on rootsand been regaled
with tobacco smokeyet their stomachs craved more generous fare.
In approaching the lodges of the Nez Percesthey had indulged in
fond anticipations of venison and dried salmon; and dreams of the
kind still haunted their imaginationsand could not be conjured
down. The keen appetites of mountain trappersquickened by a
fortnight's fastingat length got the better of all scruples of
prideand they fairly begged some fish or flesh from the
hospitable savages. The latterhoweverwere slow to break in
upon their winter storewhich was very limited; but were ready
to furnish roots in abundancewhich they pronounced excellent
food. At lengthCaptain Bonneville thought of a means of


attaining the much-coveted gratification.

He had about himhe saysa trusty plaid; an old and valued
travelling companion and comforter; upon which the rains had
descendedand the snows and winds beatenwithout further effect
than somewhat to tarnish its primitive lustre. This coat of many
colors had excited the admirationand inflamed the covetousness
of both warriors and squawsto an extravagant degree. An idea
now occurred to Captain Bonnevilleto convert this rainbow
garment into the savory viands so much desired. There was a
momentary struggle in his mindbetween old associations and
projected indulgence; and his decision in favor of the latter was
madehe sayswith a greater promptnessperhapsthan true
taste and sentiment might have required. In a few momentshis
plaid cloak was cut into numerous strips. "Of these continues
he, with the newly developed talent of a man-millinerI
speedily constructed turbans a la Turqueand fanciful head-gears
of divers conformations. Thesejudiciously distributed among
such of the womenkind as seemed of most consequence and interest
in the eyes of the patres conscriptibrought usin a little
whileabundance of dried salmon and deers' hearts; on which we
made a sumptous supper. Anotherand a more satisfactory smoke
succeeded this repastand sweet slumbers answering the peaceful
invocation of our pipeswrapped us in that delicious restwhich
is only won by toil and travail." As to Captain Bonnevillehe
slept in the lodge of the venerable patriarchwho had evidently
conceived a most disinterested affection for him; as was shown on
the following morning. The travellersinvigorated by a good
supperand "fresh from the bath of repose were about to resume
their journey, when this affectionate old chief took the captain
aside, to let him know how much he loved him. As a proof of his
regard, he had determined to give him a fine horse, which would
go further than words, and put his good will beyond all question.
So saying, he made a signal, and forthwith a beautiful young
horse, of a brown color, was led, prancing and snorting, to the
place. Captain Bonneville was suitably affected by this mark of
friendship; but his experience in what is proverbially called
Indian giving made him aware that a parting pledge was
necessary on his own part, to prove that his friendship was
reciprocated. He accordingly placed a handsome rifle in the hands
of the venerable chief, whose benevolent heart was evidently
touched and gratified by this outward and visible sign of amity.

Having now, as he thought, balanced this little account of
friendship, the captain was about to shift his saddle to this
noble gift-horse when the affectionate patriarch plucked him by
the sleeve, and introduced to him a whimpering, whining,
leathern-skinned old squaw, that might have passed for an
Egyptian mummy, without drying. This said he, is my wife; she
is a good wife--I love her very much.--She loves the horse--she
loves him a great deal--she will cry very much at losing him.--I
do not know how I shall comfort her--and that makes my heart very
sore."

What could the worthy captain doto console the tender-hearted
old squawandperadventureto save the venerable patriarch
from a curtain lecture? He bethought himself of a pair of
ear-bobs: it was truethe patriarch's better-half was of an age
and appearance that seemed to put personal vanity out of the
questionbut when is personal vanity extinct? The moment he
produced the glittering earbobsthe whimpering and whining of
the sempiternal beldame was at an end. She eagerly placed the
precious baubles in her earsandthough as ugly as the Witch of
Endorwent off with a sideling gait and coquettish airas


though she had been a perfect Semiramis.

The captain had now saddled his newly acquired steedand his
foot was in the stirrupwhen the affectionate patriarch again
stepped forwardand presented to him a young Pierced-nosewho
had a peculiarly sulky look. "This said the venerable chief,
is my son: he is very good; a great horseman--he always took
care of this very fine horse--he brought him up from a coltand
made him what he is.--He is very fond of this fine horse--he
loves him like a brother-- his heart will be very heavy when this
fine horse leaves the camp."

What could the captain doto reward the youthful hope of this
venerable pairand comfort him for the loss of his
foster-brotherthe horse? He bethought him of a hatchetwhich
might be spared from his slender stores. No sooner did he place
the implement into the hands of the young hopefulthan his
countenance brightened upand he went off rejoicing in his
hatchetto the full as much as did his respectable mother in her
ear-bobs.

The captain was now in the saddleand about to startwhen the
affectionate old patriarch stepped forwardfor the third time
andwhile he laid one hand gently on the mane of the horseheld
up the rifle in the other. "This rifle said he, shall be my
great medicine. I will hug it to my heart--I will always love it
for the sake of my good friendthe bald-headed chief.--But a
rifleby itselfis dumb--I cannot make it speak. If I had a
little powder and ballI would take it out with meand would
now and then shoot a deer; and when I brought the meat home to my
hungry familyI would say--This was killed by the rifle of my
friendthe bald-headed chiefto whom I gave that very fine
horse."

There was no resisting this appeal; the captainforthwith
furnished the coveted supply of powder and ball; but at the same
timeput spurs to his very fine gift-horseand the first trial
of his speed was to get out of all further manifestation of
friendshipon the part of the affectionate old patriarch and his
insinuating family.

32.
Nez Perce camp A chief with a hard name The Big Hearts of the
East Hospitable treatment The Indian guides Mysterious
councils The loquacious chief Indian tomb Grand Indian
reception An Indian feast Town-criers Honesty of the Nez
Perces The captain's attempt at healing.


FOLLOWING THE COURSE of the ImmahahCaptain Bonneville and his
three companions soon reached the vicinity of Snake River. Their
route now lay over a succession of steep and isolated hillswith
profound valleys. On the second dayafter taking leave of the
affectionate old patriarchas they were descending into one of
those deep and abrupt intervalsthey descried a smokeand
shortly afterward came in sight of a small encampment of Nez
Perces.

The Indianswhen they ascertained that it was a party of white
men approachinggreeted them with a salute of firearmsand
invited them to encamp. This band was likewise under the sway of
a venerable chief named Yo-mus-ro-y-e-cut; a name which we shall


be careful not to inflict oftener than is necessary upon the
reader This ancient and hard-named chieftain welcomed Captain
Bonneville to his camp with the same hospitality and loving
kindness that he had experienced from his predecessor. He told
the captain he had often heard of the Americans and their
generous deedsand that his buffalo brethren (the Upper Nez
Perces) had always spoken of them as the Big-hearted whites of
the Eastthe very good friends of the Nez Perces.

Captain Bonneville felt somewhat uneasy under the responsibility
of this magnanimous but costly appellation; and began to fear he
might be involved in a second interchange of pledges of
friendship. He hastenedthereforeto let the old chief know his
poverty-stricken stateand how little there was to be expected
from him.

He informed him that he and his comrades had long resided among
the Upper Nez Percesand loved them so muchthat they had
thrown their arms around themand now held them close to their
hearts. That he had received such good accounts from the Upper
Nez Perces of their cousinsthe Lower Nez Perce-sthat he had
become desirous of knowing them as friends and brothers. That he
and his companions had accordingly loaded a mule with presents
and set off for the country of the Lower Nez Perces; but
unfortunatelyhad been entrapped for many days among the snowy
mountains; and that the mule with all the presents had fallen
into Snake Riverand been swept away by the rapid current. That
insteadthereforeof arriving among their friendsthe Nez
Perceswith light hearts and full handsthey came naked
hungryand broken down; and instead of making them presents
must depend upon them even for food. "But concluded he, we are
going to the white men's fort on the Wallah-Wallahand will soon
return; and then we will meet our Nez Perce friends like the true
Big Hearts of the East."

Whether the hint thrown out in the latter part of the speech had
any effector whether the old chief acted from the hospitable
feelings whichaccording to the captainare really inherent in
the Nez Perce tribehe certainly showed no disposition to relax
his friendship on learning the destitute circumstances of his
guests. On the contraryhe urged the captain to remain with them
until the following daywhen he would accompany him on his
journeyand make him acquainted with all his people. In the
meantimehe would have a colt killedand cut up for travelling
provisions. Thishe carefully explainedwas intended not as an
article of trafficbut as a gift; for he saw that his guests
were hungry and in need of food.

Captain Bonneville gladly assented to this hospitable
arrangement. The carcass of the colt was forthcoming in due
seasonbut the captain insisted that one half of it should be
set apart for the use of the chieftain's family.

At an early hour of the following morningthe little party
resumed their journeyaccompanied by the old chief and an Indian
guide. Their route was over a rugged and broken country; where
the hills were slippery with ice and snow. Their horsestoo
were so weak and jadedthat they could scarcely climb the steep
ascentsor maintain their foothold on the frozen declivities.
Throughout the whole of the journeythe old chief and the guide
were unremitting in their good officesand continually on the
alert to select the best roadsand assist them through all
difficulties. Indeedthe captain and his comrades had to be
dependent on their Indian friends for almost every thingfor


they had lost their tobacco and pipesthose great comforts of
the trapperand had but a few charges of powder leftwhich it
was necessary to husband for the purpose of lighting their fires.

In the course of the day the old chief had several private
consultations with the guideand showed evident signs of being
occupied with some mysterious matter of mighty import. What it
wasCaptain Bonneville could not fathomnor did he make much
effort to do so. From some casual sentences that he overheardhe
perceived that it was something from which the old man promised
himself much satisfactionand to which he attached a little
vainglory but which he wished to keep a secret; so he suffered
him to spin out his petty plans unmolested.

In the evening when they encampedthe old chief and his privy
counsellorthe guidehad another mysterious colloquyafter
which the guide mounted his horse and departed on some secret
missionwhile the chief resumed his seat at the fireand sat
humming to himself in a pleasing but mystic reverie.

The next morningthe travellers descended into the valley of the
Way-lee-waya considerable tributary of Snake River. Here they
met the guide returning from his secret errand. Another private
conference was held between him and the old managing chiefwho
now seemed more inflated than ever with mystery and
self-importance. Numerous fresh trailsand various other signs
persuaded Captain Bonneville that there must be a considerable
village of Nez Perces in the neighborhood; but as his worthy
companionthe old chiefsaid nothing on the subjectand as it
appeared to be in some way connected with his secret operations
he asked no questionsbut patiently awaited the development of
his mystery.

As they journeyed onthey came to where two or three Indians
were bathing in a small stream. The good old chief immediately
came to a haltand had a long conversation with themin the
course of which he repeated to them the whole history which
Captain Bonneville had related to him. In facthe seems to have
been a very sociablecommunicative old man; by no means
afflicted with that taciturnity generally charged upon the
Indians. On the contraryhe was fond of long talks and long
smokingsand evidently was proud of his new friendthe
bald-headed chiefand took a pleasure in sounding his praises
and setting forth the power and glory of the Big Hearts of the
East.

Having disburdened himself of everything he had to relate to his
bathing friendshe left them to their aquatic disportsand
proceeded onward with the captain and his companions. As they
approached the Way-lee-wayhoweverthe communicative old chief
met with another and a very different occasion to exert his
colloquial powers. On the banks of the river stood an isolated
mound covered with grass. He pointed to it with some emotion.
The big heart and the strong arm,said helie buried beneath
that sod.

It wasin factthe grave of one of his friends; a chosen
warrior of the tribe; who had been slain on this spot when in
pursuit of a war party of Shoshokoeswho had stolen the horses
of the village. The enemy bore off his scalp as a trophy; but his
friends found his body in this lonely placeand committed it to
the earth with ceremonials characteristic of their pious and
reverential feelings. They gathered round the grave and mourned;
the warriors were silent in their grief; but the women and


children bewailed their loss with loud lamentations. "For three
days said the old man, we performed the solemn dances for the
deadand prayed the Great Spirit that our brother might be happy
in the land of brave warriors and hunters. Then we killed at his
grave fifteen of our best and strongest horsesto serve him when
he should arrive at the happy hunting grounds; and having done
all thiswe returned sorrowfully to our homes."

While the chief was still talkingan Indian scout came galloping
upandpresenting him with a powder-hornwheeled roundand
was speedily out of sight. The eyes of the old chief now
brightened; and all his self-importance returned. His petty
mystery was about to explode. Turning to Captain Bonnevillehe
pointed to a hill hard byand informed himthat behind it was a
village governed by a little chiefwhom he had notified of the
approach of the bald-headed chiefand a party of the Big Hearts
of the Eastand that he was prepared to receive them in becoming
style. Asamong other ceremonialshe intended to salute them
with a discharge of firearmshe had sent the horn of gunpowder
that they might return the salute in a manner correspondent to
his dignity.

They now proceeded on until they doubled the point of the hill
when the whole population of the village broke upon their view
drawn out in the most imposing styleand arrayed in all their
finery. The effect of the whole was wild and fantasticyet
singularly striking. In the front rank were the chiefs and
principal warriorsglaringly painted and decorated; behind them
were arranged the rest of the peoplemenwomenand children.

Captain Bonneville and his party advanced slowlyexchanging
salutes of firearms. When arrived within a respectful distance
they dismounted. The chiefs then came forward successively
according to their respective characters and consequenceto
offer the hand of good fellowship; each filing off when he had
shaken handsto make way for his successor. Those in the next
rank followed in the same orderand so onuntil all had given
the pledge of friendship. During all this timethe chief
according to customtook his stand beside the guests. If any of
his people advanced whom he judged unworthy of the friendship or
confidence of the white menhe motioned them off by a wave of
the handand they would submissively walk away. When Captain
Bonneville turned upon him an inquiring lookhe would observe
he was a bad man,or something quite as conciseand there was
an end of the matter.

Matspolesand other materials were now broughtand a
comfortable lodge was soon erected for the strangerswhere they
were kept constantly supplied with wood and waterand other
necessaries; and all their effects were placed in safe keeping.
Their horsestoowere unsaddledand turned loose to grazeand
a guard set to keep watch upon them.

All this being adjustedthey were conducted to the main building
or council house of the villagewhere an ample repastor rather
banquetwas spreadwhich seemed to realize all the
gastronomical dreams that had tantalized them during their long
starvation; for here they beheld not merely fish and roots in
abundancebut the flesh of deer and elkand the choicest pieces
of buffalo meat. It is needless to say how vigorously they
acquitted themselves on this occasionand how unnecessary it was
for their hosts to practice the usual cramming principle of
Indian hospitality.


When the repast was overa long talk ensued. The chief showed
the same curiosity evinced by his tribe generallyto obtain
information concerning the United Statesof which they knew
little but what they derived through their cousinsthe Upper Nez
Perces; as their traffic is almost exclusively with the British
traders of the Hudson's Bay Company. Captain Bonneville did his
best to set forth the merits of his nationand the importance of
their friendship to the red menin which he was ably seconded by
his worthy friendthe old chief with the hard namewho did all
that he could to glorify the Big Hearts of the East.

The chiefand all presentlistened with profound attentionand
evidently with great interest; nor were the important facts thus
set forthconfined to the audience in the lodge; for sentence
after sentence was loudly repeated by a crier for the benefit of
the whole village.

This custom of promulgating everything by criersis not confined
to the Nez Percesbut prevails among many other tribes. It has
its advantage where there are no gazettes to publish the news of
the dayor to report the proceedings of important meetings. And
in factreports of this kindviva vocemade in the hearing of
all partiesand liable to be contradicted or corrected on the
spotare more likely to convey accurate information to the
public mind than those circulated through the press. The office
of crier is generally filled by some old manwho is good for
little else. A village has generally several of these walking
newspapersas they are termed by the whiteswho go about
proclaiming the news of the daygiving notice of public
councilsexpeditionsdancesfeastsand other ceremonialsand
advertising anything lost. While Captain Bonneville remained
among the Nez Percesif a glovehandkerchiefor anything of
similar valuewas lost or mislaidit was carried by the finder
to the lodge of the chiefand proclamation was made by one of
their criersfor the owner to come and claim his property.

How difficult it is to get at the true character of these
wandering tribes of the wilderness! In a recent workwe have had
to speak of this tribe of Indians from the experience of other
traders who had casually been among themand who represented
them as selfishinhospitableexorbitant in their dealingsand
much addicted to thieving; Captain Bonnevilleon the contrary
who resided much among themand had repeated opportunities of
ascertaining their real characterinvariably speaks of them as
kind and hospitablescrupulously honestand remarkableabove
all other Indians that he had met withfor a strong feeling of
religion. In factso enthusiastic is he in their praisethat he
pronounces themall ignorant and barbarous as they are by their
conditionone of the purest hearted people on the face of the
earth.

Some cures which Captain Bonneville had effected in simple cases
among the Upper Nez Perceshad reached the ears of their cousins
hereand gained for him the reputation of a great medicine man.
He had not been long in the villagethereforebefore his lodge
began to be the resort of the sick and the infirm. The captain
felt the value of the reputation thus accidentally and cheaply
acquiredand endeavored to sustain it. As he had arrived at that
age when every man isexperimentallysomething of a physician
he was enabled to turn to advantage the little knowledge in the
healing art which he had casually picked up; and was sufficiently
successful in two or three casesto convince the simple Indians
that report had not exaggerated his medical talents. The only
patient that effectually baffled his skillor rather discouraged


any attempt at reliefwas an antiquated squaw with a churchyard
coughand one leg in the grave; it being shrunk and rendered
useless by a rheumatic affection. This was a case beyond his
mark; howeverhe comforted the old woman with a promise that he
would endeavor to procure something to relieve herat the fort
on the Wallah-Wallahand would bring it on his return; with
which assurance her husband was so well satisfiedthat he
presented the captain with a coltto be killed as provisions for
the journey: a medical fee which was thankfully accepted.

While among these IndiansCaptain Bonneville unexpectedly found
an owner for the horse which he had purchased from a Root Digger
at the Big Wyer. The Indian satisfactorily proved that the horse
had been stolen from him some time previousby some unknown
thief. "However said the considerate savage, you got him in
fair trade--you are more in want of horses than I am: keep him;
he is yours--he is a good horse; use him well."

Thusin the continued experience of acts of kindness and
generositywhich his destitute condition did not allow him to
reciprocateCaptain Bonneville passed some short time among
these good peoplemore and more impressed with the general
excellence of their character.

33.
Scenery of the Way-lee-way A substitute for tobacco Sublime
scenery of Snake River The garrulous old chief and his cousin A
Nez Perce meeting A stolen skin The scapegoat dog Mysterious
conferences The little chief His hospitality The captain's

account of the United States His healing skill

IN RESUMING HIS JOURNEYCaptain Bonneville was conducted by the
same Nez Perce guidewhose knowledge of the country was
important in choosing the routes and resting places. He also
continued to be accompanied by the worthy old chief with the hard
namewho seemed bent upon doing the honors of the countryand
introducing him to every branch of his tribe. The Way-lee-way
down the banks of which Captain Bonneville and his companions
were now travellingis a considerable stream winding through a
succession of bold and beautiful scenes. Sometimes the landscape
towered into bold and mountainous heights that partook of
sublimity; at other timesit stretched along the water side in
fresh smiling meadowsand graceful undulating valleys.

Frequently in their route they encountered small parties of the
Nez Perceswith whom they invariably stopped to shake hands; and
whogenerallyevinced great curiosity concerning them and their
adventures; a curiosity which never failed to be thoroughly
satisfied by the replies of the worthy Yo-mus-ro-y-e-cutwho
kindly took upon himself to be spokesman of the party.

The incessant smoking of pipes incident to the long talks of this
excellentbut somewhat garrulous old chiefat length exhausted
all his stock of tobaccoso that he had no longer a whiff with
which to regale his white companions. In this emergencyhe cut
up the stem of his pipe into fine shavingswhich he mixed with
certain herbsand thus manufactured a temporary succedaneum to
enable him to accompany his long colloquies and harangues with
the customary fragrant cloud.

If the scenery of the Way-lee-way had charmed the travellers with


its mingled amenity and grandeurthat which broke upon them on
once more reaching Snake Riverfilled them with admiration and
astonishment. At timesthe river was overhung by dark and
stupendous rocksrising like gigantic walls and battlements;
these would be rent by wide and yawning chasmsthat seemed to
speak of past convulsions of nature. Sometimes the river was of a
glassy smoothness and placidity; at other times it roared along
in impetuous rapids and foaming cascades. Herethe rocks were
piled in the most fantastic crags and precipices; and in another
placethey were succeeded by delightful valleys carpeted with
green-award. The whole of this wild and varied scenery was
dominated by immense mountains rearing their distant peaks into
the clouds. "The grandeur and originality of the viewspresented
on every side says Captain Bonneville, beggar both the pencil
and the pen. Nothing we had ever gazed upon in any other region
could for a moment compare in wild majesty and impressive
sternnesswith the series of scenes which here at every turn
astonished our sensesand filled us with awe and delight."

Indeedfrom all that we can gather from the journal before us
and the accounts of other travellerswho passed through these
regions in the memorable enterprise of Astoriawe are inclined
to think that Snake River must be one of the most remarkable for
varied and striking scenery of all the rivers of this continent.
From its head waters in the Rocky Mountainsto its junction with
the Columbiaits windings are upward of six hundred miles
through every variety of landscape. Rising in a volcanic region
amid extinguished cratersand mountains awful with the traces of
ancient firesit makes its way through great plains of lava and
sandy desertspenetrates vast sierras or mountainous chains
broken into romantic and often frightful precipicesand crowned
with eternal snows; and at other timescareers through green and
smiling meadowsand wide landscapes of Italian grace and beauty.
Wildness and sublimityhoweverappear to be its prevailing
characteristics.

Captain Bonneville and his companions had pursued their journey a
considerable distance down the course of Snake Riverwhen the
old chief halted on the bankand dismountingrecommended that
they should turn their horses loose to grazewhile he summoned a
cousin of his from a group of lodges on the opposite side of the
stream. His summons was quickly answered. An Indianof an active
elastic formleaped into a light canoe of cotton-woodand
vigorously plying the paddlesoon shot across the river.
Bounding on shorehe advanced with a buoyant air and frank
demeanorand gave his right hand to each of the party in turn.
The old chiefwhose hard name we forbear to repeatnow
presented Captain Bonnevillein formto his cousinwhose name
we regret to saywas no less hard being nothing less than
Hay-she-in-cow-cow. The latter evinced the usual curiosity to
know all about the strangerswhence they came whither they were
goingthe object of their journeyand the adventures they had
experienced. All theseof coursewere ample and eloquently set
forth by the communicative old chief. To all his grandiloquent
account of the bald-headed chief and his countrymenthe Big
Hearts of the Easthis cousin listened with great attentionand
replied in the customary style of Indian welcome. He then desired
the party to await his returnandspringing into his canoe
darted across the river. In a little while he returnedbringing
a most welcome supply of tobaccoand a small stock of provisions
for the roaddeclaring his intention of accompanying the party.
Having no horsehe mounted behind one of the menobserving that
he should procure a steed for himself on the following day.


They all now jogged on very sociably and cheerily together. Not
many miles beyondthey met others of the tribeamong whom was
onewhom Captain Bonneville and his comrades had known during
their residence among the Upper Nez Percesand who welcomed them
with open arms. In this neighborhood was the home of their guide
who took leave of them with a profusion of good wishes for their
safety and happiness. That night they put up in the hut of a Nez
Percewhere they were visited by several warriors from the other
side of the riverfriends of the old chief and his cousinwho
came to have a talk and a smoke with the white men. The heart of
the good old chief was overflowing with good will at thus being
surrounded by his new and old friendsand he talked with more
spirit and vivacity than ever. The evening passed away in perfect
harmony and good-humorand it was not until a late hour that the
visitors took their leave and recrossed the river.

After this constant picture of worth and virtue on the part of
the Nez Perce tribewe grieve to have to record a circumstance
calculated to throw a temporary shade upon the name. In the
course of the social and harmonious evening just mentionedone
of the captain's menwho happened to be something of a virtuoso
in his wayand fond of collecting curiositiesproduced a small
skina great rarity in the eyes of men conversant in peltries.
It attracted much attention among the visitors from beyond the
riverwho passed it from one to the otherexamined it with
looks of lively admirationand pronounced it a great medicine.

In the morningwhen the captain and his party were about to set
offthe precious skin was missing. Search was made for it in the
hutbut it was nowhere to be found; and it was strongly
suspected that it had been purloined by some of the connoisseurs
from the other side of the river.

The old chief and his cousin were indignant at the supposed
delinquency of their friends across the waterand called out for
them to come over and answer for their shameful conduct. The
others answered to the call with all the promptitude of perfect
innocenceand spurned at the idea of their being capable of such
outrage upon any of the Big-hearted nation. All were at a loss on
whom to fix the crime of abstracting the invaluable skinwhen by
chance the eyes of the worthies from beyond the water fell upon
an unhappy curbelonging to the owner of the hut. He was a
gallows-looking dogbut not more so than most Indian dogswho
take them in the massare little better than a generation of
vipers. Be that as it mayhe was instantly accused of having
devoured the skin in question. A dog accused is generally a dog
condemned; and a dog condemned is generally a dog executed. So
was it in the present instance. The unfortunate cur was
arraigned; his thievish looks substantiated his guiltand he was
condemned by his judges from across the river to be hanged. In
vain the Indians of the hutwith whom he was a great favorite
interceded in his behalf. In vain Captain Bonneville and his
comrades petitioned that his life might be spared. His judges
were inexorable. He was doubly guilty: firstin having robbed
their good friendsthe Big Hearts of the East; secondlyin
having brought a doubt on the honor of the Nez Perce tribe. He
wasaccordinglyswung aloftand pelted with stones to make his
death more certain. The sentence of the judges being thoroughly
executeda post mortem examination of the body of the dog was
heldto establish his delinquency beyond all doubtand to leave
the Nez Perces without a shadow of suspicion. Great interestof
coursewas manifested by all presentduring this operation. The
body of the dog was openedthe intestines rigorously
scrutinizedbutto the horror of all concernednot a particle


of the skin was to be found--the dog had been unjustly executed!

A great clamor now ensuedbut the most clamorous was the party
from across the riverwhose jealousy of their good name now
prompted them to the most vociferous vindications of their
innocence. It was with the utmost difficulty that the captain and
his comrades could calm their lively sensibilitiesby accounting
for the disappearance of the skin in a dozen different ways
until all idea of its having been stolen was entirely out of the
question.

The meeting now broke up. The warriors returned across the river
the captain and his comrades proceeded on their journey; but the
spirits of the communicative old chiefYo-mus-ro-y-e-cutwere
for a time completely dampenedand he evinced great
mortification at what had just occurred. He rode on in silence
exceptthat now and then he would give way to a burst of
indignationand exclaimwith a shake of the head and a toss of
the hand toward the opposite shore--"bad menvery bad men across
the river"; to each of which brief exclamationshis worthy
cousinHay-she-in-cow-cowwould respond by a guttural sound of
acquiescenceequivalent to an amen.

After some timethe countenance of the-old chief again cleared
upand he fell into repeated conferencesin an under tonewith
his cousinwhich ended in the departure of the latterwho
applying the lash to his horsedashed forward and was soon out
of sight. In factthey were drawing near to the village of
another chieflikewise distinguished by an appellation of some
longitudeO-pushy-e-cut; but commonly known as the great chief.
The cousin had been sent ahead to give notice of their approach;
a herald appeared as beforebearing a powder-hornto enable
them to respond to the intended salute. A scene ensuedon their
approach to the villagesimilar to that which had occurred at
the village of the little chief. The whole population appeared in
the fielddrawn up in linesarrayed with the customary regard
to rank and dignity. Then came on the firing of salutesand the
shaking of handsin which last ceremonial every individualman
womanand childparticipated; for the Indians have an idea that
it is as indispensable an overture of friendship among the whites
as smoking of the pipe is among the red men. The travellers were
next ushered to the banquetwhere all the choicest viands that
the village could furnishwere served up in rich profusion. They
were afterwards entertained by feats of agility and horseraces;
indeedtheir visit to the village seemed the signal for complete
festivity. In the meantimea skin lodge had been spread for
their accommodationtheir horses and baggage were taken care of
and wood and water supplied in abundance. At nighttherefore
they retired to their quartersto enjoyas they supposedthe
repose of which they stood in need. No such thinghoweverwas
in store for them. A crowd of visitors awaited their appearance
all eager for a smoke and a talk. The pipe was immediately
lightedand constantly replenished and kept alive until the
night was far advanced. As usualthe utmost eagerness was
evinced by the guests to learn everything within the scope of
their comprehension respecting the Americansfor whom they
professed the most fraternal regard. The captainin his replies
made use of familiar illustrationscalculated to strike their
mindsand impress them with such an idea of the might of his
nationas would induce them to treat with kindness and respect
all stragglers that might fall in their path. To their inquiries
as to the numbers of the people of the United Stateshe assured
them that they were as countless as the blades of grass in the
prairiesand thatgreat as Snake River wasif they were all


encamped upon its banksthey would drink it dry in a single day.
To these and similar statisticsthey listened with profound
attentionand apparentlyimplicit belief. It wasindeeda
striking scene: the captainwith his hunter's dress and bald
head in the midstholding forthand his wild auditors seated
around like so many statuesthe fire lighting up their painted
faces and muscular figuresall fixed and motionlessexcepting
when the pipe was passeda question propoundedor a startling
fact in statistics received with a movement of surprise and a
half-suppressed ejaculation of wonder and delight.

The fame of the captain as a healer of diseaseshad accompanied
him to this villageand the great chiefO-push-y-e-cutnow
entreated him to exert his skill on his daughterwho had been
for three days racked with painsfor which the Pierced-nose
doctors could devise no alleviation. The captain found her
extended on a pallet of mats in excruciating pain. Her father
manifested the strongest paternal affection for herand assured
the captain that if he would but cure herhe would place the
Americans near his heart. The worthy captain needed no such
inducement. His kind heart was already touched by the sufferings
of the poor girland his sympathies quickened by her appearance;
for she was but about sixteen years of ageand uncommonly
beautiful in form and feature. The only difficulty with the
captain wasthat he knew nothing of her maladyand that his
medical science was of a most haphazard kind. After considering
and cogitating for some timeas a man is apt to do when in a
maze of vague ideashe made a desperate dash at a remedy. By his
directionsthe girl was placed in a sort of rude vapor bath
much used by the Nez Perceswhere she was kept until near
fainting. He then gave her a dose of gunpowder dissolved in cold
waterand ordered her to be wrapped in buffalo robes and put to
sleep under a load of furs and blankets. The remedy succeeded:
the next morning she was free from painthough extremely
languid; whereuponthe captain prescribed for her a bowl of
colt's head brothand that she should be kept for a time on
simple diet.

The great chief was unbounded in his expressions of gratitude for
the recovery of his daughter. He would fain have detained the
captain a long time as his guestbut the time for departure had
arrived. When the captain's horse was brought for him to mount
the chief declared that the steed was not worthy of himand sent
for one of his best horseswhich he presented in its stead;
declaring that it made his heart glad to see his friend so well
mounted. He then appointed a young Nez Perce to accompany his
guest to the next villageand "to carry his talk" concerning
them; and the two parties separated with mutual expressions of
good will.

The vapor bath of which we have made mention is in frequent use
among the Nez Perce tribechiefly for cleanliness. Their
sweating housesas they call themare small and close lodges
and the vapor is produced by water poured slowly upon red-hot
stones.

On passing the limits of O-push-y-e-cut's domainsthe travellers
left the elevated table-landsand all the wild and romantic
scenery which has just been described. They now traversed a
gently undulating countryof such fertility that it excited the
rapturous admiration of two of the captain's followersa
Kentuckian and a native of Ohio. They declared that it surpassed
any land that they had ever seenand often exclaimed what a
delight it would be just to run a plough through such a rich and


teeming soiland see it open its bountiful promise before the
share.

Another halt and sojourn of a night was made at the village of a
chief named He-mim-el-pilpwhere similar ceremonies were
observed and hospitality experiencedas at the preceding
villages. They now pursued a west-southwest course through a
beautiful and fertile regionbetter wooded than most of the
tracts through which they had passed. In their progressthey met
with several bands of Nez Percesby whom they were invariably
treated with the utmost kindness. Within seven days after leaving
the domain of He-mim-el-pilpthey struck the Columbia River at
Fort Wallah-Wallahwhere they arrived on the 4th of March1834.

34.
Fort Wallah-Wallah Its commander Indians in its

neighborhood Exertions of Mr. Pambrune for their
improvement Religion Code of laws Range of the Lower Nez
Perces Camashand other roots Nez Perce horses Preparations for
departure Refusal of supplies Departure A laggard and glutton


FORT WALLAH - WALLAH is a trading post of the Hudson's Bay
Companysituated just above the mouth of the river by the same
nameand on the left bank of the Columbia. It is built of
drift-woodand calculated merely for defence against any attack
of the natives. At the time of Captain Bonneville's arrivalthe
whole garrison mustered but six or eight men; and the post was
under the superintendence of Mr. Pambrunean agent of the
Hudson's Bay Company.

The great post and fort of the companyforming the emporium of
its trade on the Pacificis Fort Vancouver; situated on the
right bank of the Columbiaabout sixty miles from the seaand
just above the mouth of the Wallamut. To this pointthe company
removed its establishment from Astoriain 1821after its
coalition with the Northwest Company.

Captain Bonneville and his comrades experienced a polite
reception from Mr. Pambrunethe superintendent: forhowever
hostile the members of the British Company may be to the
enterprises of American tradersthey have always manifested
great courtesy and hospitality to the traders themselves.

Fort Wallah-Wallah is surrounded by the tribe of the same name
as well as by the Skynses and the Nez Perces; who bring to it the
furs and peltries collected in their hunting expeditions. The
Wallah-Wallahs are a degenerateworn-out tribe. The Nez Perces
are the most numerous and tractable of the three tribes just
mentioned. Mr. Pambrune informed Captain Bonneville that he had
been at some pains to introduce the Christian religionin the
Roman Catholic formamong themwhere it had evidently taken
root; but had become altered and modifiedto suit their peculiar
habits of thoughtand motives of action; retaininghoweverthe
principal points of faithand its entire precepts of morality.
The same gentleman had given them a code of lawsto which they
conformed with scrupulous fidelity. Polygamywhich once
prevailed among them to a great extentwas now rarely indulged.
All the crimes denounced by the Christian faith met with severe
punishment among them. Even theftso venial a crime among the
Indianshad recently been punished with hangingby sentence of
a chief.


There certainly appears to be a peculiar susceptibility of moral
and religious improvement among this tribeand they would seem
to be one of the veryvery few that have benefited in morals and
manners by an intercourse with white men. The parties which
visited them about twenty years previouslyin the expedition
fitted out by Mr. Astorcomplained of their selfishnesstheir
extortionand their thievish propensities. The very reverse of
those qualities prevailed among them during the prolonged
sojourns of Captain Bonneville.

The Lower Nez Perces range upon the Way-lee-wayImmahah
Yenghiesand other of the streams west of the mountains. They
hunt the beaverelkdeerwhite bearand mountain sheep.
Besides the flesh of these animalsthey use a number of roots
for food; some of which would be well worth transplanting and
cultivating in the Atlantic States. Among these is the camasha
sweet rootabout the form and size of an onionand said to be
really delicious. The cowishalsoor biscuit rootabout the
size of a walnutwhich they reduce to a very palatable flour;
together with the jackapaisishquakoand others; which they
cook by steaming them in the ground.

In August and Septemberthese Indians keep along the rivers
where they catch and dry great quantities of salmon; whichwhile
they lastare their principal food. In the winterthey
congregate in villages formed of comfortable hutsor lodges
covered with mats. They are generally clad in deer skinsor
woollensand extremely well armed. Above allthey are
celebrated for owning great numbers of horses; which they mark
and then suffer to range in droves in their most fertile plains.
These horses are principally of the pony breed; but remarkably
stout and long-winded. They are brought in great numbers to the
establishments of the Hudson's Bay Companyand sold for a mere
trifle.

Such is the account given by Captain Bonneville of the Nez
Perces; whoif not viewed by him with too partial an eyeare
certainly among the gentlestand least barbarous people of these
remote wildernesses. They invariably signified to him their
earnest wish that an American post might be established among
them; and repeatedly declared that they would trade with
Americansin preference to any other people.

Captain Bonneville had intended to remain some time in this
neighborhoodto form an acquaintance with the nativesand to
collect informationand establish connections that might be
advantageous in the way of trade. The delayshoweverwhich he
had experienced on his journeyobliged him to shorten his
sojournand to set off as soon as possibleso as to reach the
rendezvous at the Portneuf at the appointed time. He had seen
enough to convince him that an American trade might be carried on
with advantage in this quarter; and he determined soon to return
with a stronger partymore completely fitted for the purpose.

As he stood in need of some supplies for his journeyhe applied
to purchase them of Mr. Pambrune; but soon found the difference
between being treated as a guestor as a rival trader. The
worthy superintendentwho had extended to him all the genial
rites of hospitalitynow suddenly assumed a withered-up aspect
and demeanorand observed thathowever he might feel disposed
to serve himpersonallyhe felt bound by his duty to the
Hudson's Bay Companyto do nothing which should facilitate or
encourage the visits of other traders among the Indians in that


part of the country. He endeavored to dissuade Captain Bonneville
from returning through the Blue Mountains; assuring him it would
be extremely difficult and dangerousif not impracticableat
this season of the year; and advised him to accompany Mr.
Payettea leader of the Hudson's Bay Companywho was about to
depart with a number of menby a more circuitousbut safe
routeto carry supplies to the company's agentresident among
the Upper Nez Perces. Captain Bonnevillehoweverpiqued at his
having refused to furnish him with suppliesand doubting the
sincerity of his advicedetermined to return by the more direct
route through the mountains; though varying his coursein some
respectsfrom that by which he had comein consequence of
information gathered among the neighboring Indians.

Accordinglyon the 6th of Marchhe and his three companions
accompanied by their Nez Perce guidesset out on their return.
In the early part of their coursethey touched again at several
of the Nez Perce villageswhere they had experienced such kind
treatment on their way down. They were always welcomed with
cordiality; and everything was done to cheer them on their
journey.

On leaving the Way-lee-way villagethey were joined by a Nez
Percewhose society was welcomed on account of the general
gratitude and good will they felt for his tribe. He soon proved a
heavy clog upon the little partybeing doltish and taciturn
lazy in the extremeand a huge feeder. His only proof of
intellect was in shrewdly avoiding all laborand availing
himself of the toil of others. When on the marchhe always
lagged behind the restleaving to them the task of breaking a
way through all difficulties and impedimentsand leisurely and
lazily jogging along the trackwhich they had beaten through the
snow. At the evening encampmentwhen others were busy gathering
fuelproviding for the horsesand cooking the evening repast
this worthy Sancho of the wilderness would take his seat quietly
and cosily by the firepuffing away at his pipeand eyeing in
silencebut with wistful intensity of gazethe savory morsels
roasting for supper.

When meal-time arrivedhoweverthen came his season of
activity. He no longer hung backand waited for others to take
the leadbut distinguished himself by a brilliancy of onsetand
a sustained vigor and duration of attackthat completely shamed
the efforts of his competitors--albeitexperienced trenchermen
of no mean prowess. Never had they witnessed such power of
masticationand such marvellous capacity of stomachas in this
native and uncultivated gastronome. Havingby repeated and
prolonged assaultsat length completely gorged himselfhe would
wrap himself up and lie with the torpor of an anaconda; slowly
digesting his way on to the next repast.

The gormandizing powers of this worthy wereat firstmatters of
surprise and merriment to the travellers; but they soon became
too serious for a jokethreatening devastation to the fleshpots;
and he was regarded askanceat his mealsas a regular
kill-cropdestined to waste the substance of the party. Nothing
but a sense of the obligations they were under to his nation
induced them to bear with such a guest; but he proceeded
speedilyto relieve them from the weight of these obligations
by eating a receipt in full.

35.

The uninvited guest Free and easy manners Salutary jokes A
prodigal son Exit of the glutton A sudden change in
fortune Danger of a visit to poor relations Plucking of a
prosperous man A vagabond toilet A substitute for the very fine
horse Hard travelling The uninvited guest and the patriarchal
colt A beggar on horseback A catastrophe Exit of the merry
vagabond

As CAPTAIN BONNEVILLE and his men were encamped one evening among
the hills near Snake Riverseated before their fireenjoying a
hearty supperthey were suddenly surprised by the visit of an
uninvited guest. He was a raggedhalf-naked Indian hunterarmed
with bow and arrowsand had the carcass of a fine buck thrown
across his shoulder. Advancing with an alert stepand free and
easy airhe threw the buck on the groundandwithout waiting
for an invitationseated himself at their messhelped himself
without ceremonyand chatted to the right and left in the
liveliest and most unembarrassed manner. No adroit and veteran
dinner hunter of a metropolis could have acquitted himself more
knowingly. The travellers were at first completely taken by
surpriseand could not but admire the facility with which this
ragged cosmopolite made himself at home among them. While they
stared he went onmaking the most of the good cheer upon which
he had so fortunately alighted; and was soon elbow deep in "pot
luck and greased from the tip of his nose to the back of his
ears.

As the company recovered from their surprise, they began to feel
annoyed at this intrusion. Their uninvited guest, unlike the
generality of his tribe, was somewhat dirty as well as ragged and
they had no relish for such a messmate. Heaping up, therefore, an
abundant portion of the provant" upon a piece of barkwhich
served for a dishthey invited him to confine himself thereto
instead of foraging in the general mess.

He complied with the most accommodating spirit imaginable; and
went on eating and chattingand laughing and smearing himself
until his whole countenance shone with grease and good-humor. In
the course of his repasthis attention was caught by the figure
of the gastronomewhoas usualwas gorging himself in dogged
silence. A droll cut of the eye showed either that he knew him of
oldor perceived at once his characteristics. He immediately
made him the butt of his pleasantries; and cracked off two or
three good hitsthat caused the sluggish dolt to prick up his
earsand delighted all the company. From this timethe
uninvited guest was taken into favor; his jokes began to be
relished; his carelessfree and easy airto be considered
singularly amusing; and in the endhe was pronounced by the
travellers one of the merriest companions and most entertaining
vagabonds they had met with in the wilderness.

Supper being overthe redoubtable Shee-wee-she-ouaiterfor such
was the simple name by which he announced himselfdeclared his
intention of keeping company with the party for a day or twoif
they had no objection; and by way of backing his self-invitation
presented the carcass of the buck as an earnest of his hunting
abilities. By this timehe had so completely effaced the
unfavorable impression made by his first appearancethat he was
made welcome to the campand the Nez Perce guide undertook to
give him lodging for the night. The next morningat break of
dayhe borrowed a gunand was off among the hillsnor was
anything more seen of him until a few minutes after the party had
encamped for the eveningwhen he again made his appearancein


his usual frankcareless mannerand threw down the carcass of
another noble deerwhich he had borne on his back for a
considerable distance.

This evening he was the life of the partyand his open
communicative dispositionfree from all disguisesoon put them
in possession of his history. He had been a kind of prodigal son
in his native village; living a looseheedless lifeand
disregarding the precepts and imperative commands of the chiefs.
He hadin consequencebeen expelled from the villagebutin
nowise disheartened at this banishmenthad betaken himself to
the society of the border Indiansand had led a careless
haphazardvagabond lifeperfectly consonant to his humors;
heedless of the futureso long as he had wherewithal for the
present; and fearing no lack of foodso long as he had the
implements of the chaseand a fair hunting ground.

Finding him very expert as a hunterand being pleased with his
eccentricitiesand his strange and merry humorCaptain
Bonneville fitted him out handsomely as the Nimrod of the party
who all soon became quite attached to him. One of the earliest
and most signal services he performedwas to exorcise the
insatiate kill-crop that hitherto oppressed the party. In fact
the doltish Nez Percewho had seemed so perfectly insensible to
rough treatment of every kindby which the travellers had
endeavored to elbow him out of their societycould not withstand
the good-humored banteringand occasionally sharp wit of
She-wee-she. He evidently quailed under his jokesand sat
blinking like an owl in daylightwhen pestered by the flouts and
peckings of mischievous birds. At length his place was found
vacant at meal-time; no one knew when he went offor whither he
had gonebut he was seen no moreand the vast surplus that
remained when the repast was overshowed what a mighty
gormandizer had departed.

Relieved from this incubusthe little party now went on
cheerily. She-wee-she kept them in fun as well as food. His
hunting was always successful; he was ever ready to render any
assistance in the camp or on the march; while his jokeshis
anticsand the very cut of his countenanceso full of whim and
comicalitykept every one in good-humor.

In this way they journeyed on until they arrived on the banks of
the Immahahand encamped near to the Nez Perce lodges. Here
She-wee-she took a sudden notion to visit his peopleand show
off the state of worldly prosperity to which he had so suddenly
attained. He accordingly departed in the morningarrayed in
hunter's styleand well appointed with everything benefitting
his vocation. The buoyancy of his gaitthe elasticity of his
stepand the hilarity of his countenanceshowed that he
anticipatedwith chuckling satisfactionthe surprise he was
about to give those who had ejected him from their society in
rags. But what a change was there in his whole appearance when he
rejoined the party in the evening! He came skulking into camp
like a beaten curwith his tail between his legs. All his finery
was gone; he was naked as when he was bornwith the exception of
a scanty flap that answered the purpose of a fig leaf. His
fellow-travellers at first did not know himbut supposed it to
be some vagrant Root Digger sneaking into the camp; but when they
recognized in this forlorn object their prime wagShe-wee-she
whom they had seen depart in the morning in such high glee and
high featherthey could not contain their merrimentbut hailed
him with loud and repeated peals of laughter.


She-wee-she was not of a spirit to be easily cast down; he soon
joined in the merriment as heartily as any oneand seemed to
consider his reverse of fortune an excellent joke. Captain
Bonnevillehoweverthought proper to check his good-humorand
demandedwith some degree of sternnessthe cause of his altered
condition. He replied in the most natural and self-complacent
style imaginablethat he had been among his cousins, who were
very poor; they had been delighted to see him; still more
delighted with his good fortune; they had taken him to their
arms; admired his equipments; one had begged for this; another
for that--in finewhat with the poor devil's inherent
heedlessnessand the real generosity of his dispositionhis
needy cousins had succeeded in stripping him of all his clothes
and accoutrementsexcepting the fig leaf with which he had
returned to camp.

Seeing his total want of care and forethoughtCaptain Bonneville
determined to let him suffer a littlein hopes it might prove a
salutary lesson; andat any rateto make him no more presents
while in the neighborhood of his needy cousins. He was left
thereforeto shift for himself in his naked condition; which
howeverdid not seem to give him any concernor to abate one
jot of his good-humor. In the course of his lounging about the
camphoweverhe got possession of a deer skin; whereupon
cutting a slit in the middlehe thrust his head through itso
that the two ends hung down before and behindsomething like a
South American ponchoor the tabard of a herald. These ends he
tied togetherunder the armpits; and thus arrayedpresented
himself once more before the captainwith an air of perfect
self-satisfactionas though he thought it impossible for any
fault to be found with his toilet.

A little further journeying brought the travellers to the petty
village of Nez Percesgoverned by the worthy and affectionate
old patriarch who had made Captain Bonneville the costly present
of the very fine horse. The old man welcomed them once more to
his village with his usual cordialityand his respectable squaw
and hopeful soncherishing grateful recollections of the hatchet
and ear-bobsjoined in a chorus of friendly gratulation.

As the much-vaunted steedonce the joy and pride of this
interesting familywas now nearly knocked up by travellingand
totally inadequate to the mountain scramble that lay ahead
Captain Bonneville restored him to the venerable patriarchwith
renewed acknowledgments for the invaluable gift. Somewhat to his
surprisehe was immediately supplied with a fine two years' old
colt in his steada substitution which he afterward learnt
according to Indian custom in such caseshe might have claimed
as a matter of right. We do not find that any after claims were
made on account of this colt. This donation may be regarded
thereforeas a signal punctilio of Indian honor; but it will be
found that the animal soon proved an unlucky acquisition to the
party.

While at this villagethe Nez Perce guide had held consultations
with some of the inhabitants as to the mountain tract the party
were about to traverse. He now began to wear an anxious aspect
and to indulge in gloomy forebodings. The snowhe had been told
lay to a great depth in the passes of the mountainsand
difficulties would increase as he proceeded. He begged Captain
Bonnevillethereforeto travel very slowlyso as to keep the
horses in strength and spirit for the hard times they would have
to encounter. The captain surrendered the regulation of the march
entirely to his discretionand pushed on in the advanceamusing


himself with huntingso as generally to kill a deer or two in
the course of the dayand arrivingbefore the rest of the
partyat the spot designated by the guide for the evening's
encampment.

In the meantimethe others plodded on at the heels of the guide
accompanied by that merry vagabondShe-wee-she. The primitive
garb worn by this droll left all his nether man exposed to the
biting blasts of the mountains. Still his wit was never frozen
nor his sunshiny temper beclouded; and his innumerable antics and
practical jokeswhile they quickened the circulation of his own
bloodkept his companions in high good-humor.

So passed the first day after the departure from the patriarch's.
The second day commenced in the same manner; the captain in the
advancethe rest of the party following on slowly. She-wee-she
for the greater part of the timetrudged on foot over the snow
keeping himself warm by hard exerciseand all kinds of crazy
capers. In the height of his foolerythe patriarchal colt
whichunbroken to the saddlewas suffered to follow on at
largehappened to come within his reach. In a momenthe was on
his backsnapping his fingersand yelping with delight. The
coltunused to such a burdenand half wild by naturefell to
prancing and rearing and snorting and plunging and kicking; and
at lengthset off full speed over the most dangerous ground. As
the route led generally along the steep and craggy sides of the
hillsboth horse and horseman were constantly in dangerand
more than once had a hairbreadth escape from deadly peril.
Nothinghowevercould daunt this madcap savage. He stuck to the
colt like a plaister [sic]up ridgesdown gullies; whooping and
yelling with the wildest glee. Never did beggar on horseback
display more headlong horsemanship. His companions followed him
with their eyessometimes laughingsometimes holding in their
breath at his vagariesuntil they saw the colt make a sudden
plunge or startand pitch his unlucky rider headlong over a
precipice. There was a general cry of horrorand all hastened to
the spot. They found the poor fellow lying among the rocks below
sadly bruised and mangled. It was almost a miracle that he had
escaped with life. Even in this conditionhis merry spirit was
not entirely quelledand he summoned up a feeble laugh at the
alarm and anxiety of those who came to his relief. He was
extricated from his rocky bedand a messenger dispatched to
inform Captain Bonneville of the accident. The latter returned
with all speedand encamped the party at the first convenient
spot. Here the wounded man was stretched upon buffalo skinsand
the captainwho officiated on all occasions as doctor and
surgeon to the partyproceeded to examine his wounds. The
principal one was a long and deep gash in the thighwhich
reached to the bone. Calling for a needle and threadthe captain
now prepared to sew up the woundadmonishing the patient to
submit to the operation with becoming fortitude. His gayety was
at an end; he could no longer summon up even a forced smile; and
at the first puncture of the needleflinched so piteouslythat
the captain was obliged to pauseand to order him a powerful
dose of alcohol. This somewhat rallied up his spirit and warmed
his heart; all the time of the operationhoweverhe kept his
eyes riveted on the woundwith his teeth setand a whimsical
wincing of the countenancethat occasionally gave his nose
something of its usual comic curl.

When the wound was fairly closedthe captain washed it with rum
and administered a second dose of the same to the patientwho
was tucked in for the nightand advised to compose himself to
sleep. He was restless and uneasyhowever; repeatedly expressing


his fears that his leg would be so much swollen the next dayas
to prevent his proceeding with the party; nor could he be
quieteduntil the captain gave a decided opinion favorable to
his wishes.

Early the next morninga gleam of his merry humor returnedon
finding that his wounded limb retained its natural proportions.
On attempting to use ithoweverhe found himself unable to
stand. He made several efforts to coax himself into a belief that
he might still continue forward; but at lengthshook his head
despondinglyand saidthat "as he had but one leg it was all
in vain to attempt a passage of the mountain.

Every one grieved to part with so boon a companion, and under
such disastrous circumstances. He was once more clothed and
equipped, each one making him some parting present. He was then
helped on a horse, which Captain Bonneville presented to him; and
after many parting expressions of good will on both sides, set
off on his return to his old haunts; doubtless, to be once more
plucked by his affectionate but needy cousins.

36.
The difficult mountain A smoke and consultation The captain's
speech An icy turnpike Danger of a false step Arrival on Snake
River Return to Portneuf Meeting of comrades

CONTINUING THEIR JOURNEY UP the course of the Immahah, the
travellers found, as they approached the headwaters, the snow
increased in quantity, so as to lie two feet deep. They were
again obliged, therefore, to beat down a path for their horses,
sometimes travelling on the icy surface of the stream. At length
they reached the place where they intended to scale the
mountains; and, having broken a pathway to the foot, were
agreeably surprised to find that the wind had drifted the snow
from off the side, so that they attained the summit with but
little difficulty. Here they encamped, with the intention of
beating a track through the mountains. A short experiment,
however, obliged them to give up the attempt, the snow lying in
vast drifts, often higher than the horses' heads.

Captain Bonneville now took the two Indian guides, and set out to
reconnoitre the neighborhood. Observing a high peak which
overtopped the rest, he climbed it, and discovered from the
summit a pass about nine miles long, but so heavily piled with
snow, that it seemed impracticable. He now lit a pipe, and,
sitting down with the two guides, proceeded to hold a
consultation after the Indian mode. For a long while they all
smoked vigorously and in silence, pondering over the subject
matter before them. At length a discussion commenced, and the
opinion in which the two guides concurred was, that the horses
could not possibly cross the snows. They advised, therefore, that
the party should proceed on foot, and they should take the horses
back to the village, where they would be well taken care of until
Captain Bonneville should send for them. They urged this advice
with great earnestness; declaring that their chief would be
extremely angry, and treat them severely, should any of the
horses of his good friends, the white men, be lost, in crossing
under their guidance; and that, therefore, it was good they
should not attempt it.

Captain Bonneville sat smoking his pipe, and listening to them


with Indian silence and gravity. When they had finished, he
replied to them in their own style of language.

My friends said he, I have seen the passand have listened
to your words; you have little hearts. When troubles and dangers
lie in your wayyou turn your backs. That is not the way with my
nation. When great obstacles presentand threaten to keep them
backtheir hearts swelland they push forward. They love to
conquer difficulties. But enough for the present. Night is coming
on; let us return to our camp."

He moved onand they followed in silence. On reaching the camp
he found the men extremely discouraged. One of their number had
been surveying the neighborhoodand seriously assured them that
the snow was at least a hundred feet deep. The captain cheered
them upand diffused fresh spirit in them by his example. Still
he was much perplexed how to proceed. About dark there was a
slight drizzling rain. An expedient now suggested itself. This
was to make two light sledsplace the packs on themand drag
them to the other side of the mountainthus forming a road in
the wet snowwhichshould it afterward freezewould be
sufficiently hard to bear the horses. This plan was promptly put
into execution; the sleds were constructedthe heavy baggage was
drawn backward and forward until the road was beatenwhen they
desisted from their fatiguing labor. The night turned out clear
and coldand by morningtheir road was incrusted with ice
sufficiently strong for their purpose. They now set out on their
icy turnpikeand got on well enoughexcepting that now and then
a horse would sidle out of the trackand immediately sink up to
the neck. Then came on toil and difficultyand they would be
obliged to haul up the floundering animal with ropes. Onemore
unlucky than the restafter repeated fallshad to be abandoned
in the snow. Notwithstanding these repeated delaysthey
succeededbefore the sun had acquired sufficient power to thaw
the snowin getting all the rest of their horses safely to the
other side of the mountain.

Their difficulties and dangershoweverwere not yet at an end.
They had now to descendand the whole surface of the snow was
glazed with ice. It was necessary; thereforeto wait until the
warmth of the sun should melt the glassy crust of sleetand give
them a foothold in the yielding snow. They had a frightful
warning of the danger of any movement while the sleet remained. A
wild young marein her restlessnessstrayed to the edge of a
declivity. One slip was fatal to her; she lost her balance
careered with headlong velocity down the slippery side of the
mountain for more than two thousand feetand was dashed to
pieces at the bottom. When the travellers afterward sought the
carcass to cut it up for foodthey found it torn and mangled in
the most horrible manner.

It was quite late in the evening before the party descended to
the ultimate skirts of the snow. Here they planted large logs
below them to prevent their sliding downand encamped for the
night. The next day they succeeded in bringing down their baggage
to the encampment; then packing all up regularlyand loading
their horsesthey once more set out briskly and cheerfullyand
in the course of the following day succeeded in getting to a
grassy region.

Here their Nez Perce guides declared that all the difficulties of
the mountains were at an endand their course was plain and
simpleand needed no further guidance; they asked leave
thereforeto return home. This was readily grantedwith many


thanks and presents for their faithful services. They took a long
farewell smoke with their white friendsafter which they mounted
their horses and set offexchanging many farewells and kind
wishes.

On the following dayCaptain Bonneville completed his journey
down the mountainand encamped on the borders of Snake River
where he found the grass in great abundance and eight inches in
height. In this neighborhoodhe saw on the rocky banks of the
river several prismoids of basaltesrising to the height of
fifty or sixty feet.

Nothing particularly worthy of note occurred during several days
as the party proceeded up along Snake River and across its
tributary streams. After crossing Gun Creekthey met with
various signs that white people were in the neighborhoodand
Captain Bonneville made earnest exertions to discover whether
they were any of his own peoplethat he might join them. He soon
ascertained that they had been starved out of this tract of
countryand had betaken themselves to the buffalo region
whither he now shaped his course. In proceeding along Snake
Riverhe found small hordes of Shoshonies lingering upon the
minor streamsand living upon trout and other fishwhich they
catch in great numbers at this season in fish-traps. The greater
part of the tribehoweverhad penetrated the mountains to hunt
the elkdeerand ahsahta or bighorn.

On the 12th of MayCaptain Bonneville reached the Portneuf
Riverin the vicinity of which he had left the winter encampment
of his company on the preceding Christmas day. He had then
expected to be back by the beginning of Marchbut circumstances
had detained him upward of two months beyond the timeand the
winter encampment must long ere this have been broken up. Halting
on the banks of the Portneufhe dispatched scouts a few miles
aboveto visit the old camping ground and search for signals of
the partyor of their whereaboutsshould they actually have
abandoned the spot. They returned without being able to ascertain
anything.

Being now destitute of provisionsthe travellers found it
necessary to make a short hunting excursion after buffalo. They
made cachesthereforeon an island in the riverin which they
deposited all their baggageand then set out on their
expedition. They were so fortunate as to kill a couple of fine
bullsand cutting up the carcassesdetermined to husband this
stock of provisions with the most miserly carelest they should
again be obliged to venture into the open and dangerous hunting
grounds. Returning to their island on the 18th of Maythey found
that the wolves had been at the cachesscratched up the
contentsand scattered them in every direction. They now
constructed a more secure onein which they deposited their
heaviest articlesand then descended Snake River againand
encamped just above the American Falls. Here they proceeded to
fortify themselvesintending to remain hereand give their
horses an opportunity to recruit their strength with good
pasturageuntil it should be time to set out for the annual
rendezvous in Bear River valley.

On the first of June they descried four men on the other side of
the riveropposite to the campandhaving attracted their
attention by a discharge of riflesascertained to their joy that
they were some of their own people. From these men Captain
Bonneville learned that the whole party which he had left in the
preceding month of December were encamped on Blackfoot Rivera


tributary of Snake Rivernot very far above the Portneuf.
Thither he proceeded with all possible dispatchand in a little
while had the pleasure of finding himself once more surrounded by
his peoplewho greeted his return among them in the heartiest
manner; for his long-protracted absence had convinced them that
he and his three companions had been cut off by some hostile
tribe.

The party had suffered much during his absence. They had been
pinched by famine and almost starvedand had been forced to
repair to the caches at Salmon River. Here they fell in with the
Blackfeet bandsand considered themselves fortunate in being
able to retreat from the dangerous neighborhood without
sustaining any loss.

Being thus reuniteda general treat from Captain Bonneville to
his men was a matter of course. Two daysthereforewere given
up to such feasting and merriment as their means and situation
afforded. What was wanting in good cheer was made up in good
will; the free trappers in particulardistinguished themselves
on the occasionand the saturnalia was enjoyed with a hearty
holiday spiritthat smacked of the game flavor of the
wilderness.

37.
Departure for the rendezvous A war party of Blackfeet A mock
bustle Sham fires at night Warlike precautions Dangers of a night
attack A panic among horses Cautious march The Beer Springs A
mock carousel Skirmishing with buffaloes A buffalo bait Arrival

at the rendezvous Meeting of various bands

AFTER THE TWO DAYS of festive indulgenceCaptain Bonneville
broke up the encampmentand set out with his motley crew of
hired and free trappershalf-breedsIndiansand squawsfor
the main rendezvous in Bear River valley. Directing his course up
the Blackfoot Riverhe soon reached the hills among which it
takes its rise. Herewhile on the marchhe descried from the
brow of a hilla war party of about sixty Blackfeeton the
plain immediately below him. His situation was perilous; for the
greater part of his people were dispersed in various directions.
Stillto betray hesitation or fear would be to discover his
actual weaknessand to invite attack. He assumedinstantly
thereforea belligerent tone; ordered the squaws to lead the
horses to a small grove of ashen treesand unload and tie them;
and caused a great bustle to be made by his scanty handful; the
leaders riding hither and thitherand vociferating with all
their mightas if a numerous force was getting under way for an
attack.

To keep up the deception as to his forcehe orderedat nighta
number of extra fires to be made in his campand kept up a
vigilant watch. His men were all directed to keep themselves
prepared for instant action. In such cases the experienced
trapper sleeps in his clotheswith his rifle beside himthe
shot-belt and powder-flask on the stock: so thatin case of
alarmhe can lay his hand upon the whole of his equipment at
onceand start upcompletely armed.

Captain Bonneville was also especially careful to secure the
horsesand set a vigilant guard upon them; for there lies the
great object and principal danger of a night attack. The grand


move of the lurking savage is to cause a panic among the horses.
In such cases one horse frightens anotheruntil all are alarmed
and struggle to break loose. In camps where there are great
numbers of Indianswith their horsesa night alarm of the kind
is tremendous. The running of the horses that have broken loose;
the snortingstampingand rearing of those which remain fast;
the howling of dogs; the yelling of Indians; the scampering of
white menand red menwith their guns; the overturning of
lodgesand trampling of fires by the horses; the flashes of the
fireslighting up forms of men and steeds dashing through the
gloomaltogether make up one of the wildest scenes of confusion
imaginable. In this waysometimesall the horses of a camp
amounting to several hundred will be frightened off in a single
night.

The night passed off without any disturbance; but there was no
likelihood that a war party of Blackfeetonce on the track of a
camp where there was a chance for spoilswould fail to hover
round it. The captainthereforecontinued to maintain the most
vigilant precautions; throwing out scouts in the advanceand on
every rising ground.

In the course of the day he arrived at the plain of white clay
already mentionedsurrounded by the mineral springscalled Beer
Springsby the trappers. Here the men all halted to have a
regale. In a few moments every spring had its jovial knot of
hard drinkerswith tin cup in handindulging in a mock carouse;
quaffingpledgingtoastingbandying jokessinging drinking
songsand uttering peals of laughteruntil it seemed as if
their imaginations had given potency to the beverageand cheated
them into a fit of intoxication. Indeedin the excitement of the
momentthey were loud and extravagant in their commendations of
the mountain tap; elevating it above every beverage produced
from hops or malt. It was a singular and fantastic scene; suited
to a region where everything is strange and peculiar:--These
groups of trappersand huntersand Indianswith their wild
costumesand wilder countenances; their boisterous gayetyand
reckless air; quaffingand making merry round these sparkling
fountains; while beside them lay their weep onsready to be
snatched up for instant service. Painters are fond of
representing banditti at their rude and picturesque carousels;
but here were groupsstill more rude and picturesque; and it
needed but a sudden onset of Blackfeetand a quick transition
from a fantastic revel to a furious meleeto have rendered this
picture of a trapper's life complete.

The beer frolichoweverpassed off without any untoward
circumstance; andunlike most drinking boutsleft neither
headache nor heartache behind. Captain Bonneville now directed
his course up along Bear River; amusing himselfoccasionally
with hunting the buffalowith which the country was covered.
Sometimeswhen he saw a huge bull taking his repose in a
prairiehe would steal along a ravineuntil close upon him;
then rouse him from his meditations with a pebbleand take a
shot at him as he started up. Such is the quickness with which
this animal springs upon his legsthat it is not easy to
discover the muscular process by which it is effected. The horse
rises first upon his fore legs; and the domestic cowupon her
hinder limbs; but the buffalo bounds at once from a couchant to
an erect positionwith a celerity that baffles the eye. Though
from his bulkand rolling gaithe does not appear to run with
much swiftness; yetit takes a stanch horse to overtake him
when at full speed on level ground; and a buffalo cow is still
fleeter in her motion.


Among the Indians and half-breeds of the partywere several
admirable horsemen and bold hunters; who amused themselves with a
grotesque kind of buffalo bait. Whenever they found a huge bull
in the plainsthey prepared for their teasing and barbarous
sport. Surrounding him on horsebackthey would discharge their
arrows at him in quick successiongoading him to make an attack;
whichwith a dexterous movement of the horsethey would easily
avoid. In this waythey hovered round himfeathering him with
arrowsas he reared and plunged aboutuntil he was bristled all
over like a porcupine. When they perceived in him signs of
exhaustionand he could no longer be provoked to make battle
they would dismount from their horsesapproach him in the rear
and seizing him by the tailjerk him from side to sideand drag
him backward; until the frantic animalgathering fresh strength
from furywould break from themand rushwith flashing eyes
and a hoarse bellowingupon any enemy in sight; but in a little
whilehis transient excitement at an endwould pitch headlong
on the groundand expire. The arrows were then plucked forth
the tongue cut out and preserved as a daintyand the carcass
left a banquet for the wolves.

Pursuing his course up Bear RiverCaptain Bonneville arrivedon
the 13th of Juneat the Little Snake Lake; where he encamped for
four or five daysthat he might examine its shores and outlets.
The latterhe found extremely muddyand so surrounded by swamps
and quagmiresthat he was obliged to construct canoes of rushes
with which to explore them. The mouths of all the streams which
fall into this lake from the westare marshy and inconsiderable;
but on the east sidethere is a beautiful beachbroken
occasionallyby high and isolated bluffswhich advance upon the
lakeand heighten the character of the scenery. The water is
very shallowbut abounds with troutand other small fish.

Having finished his survey of the lakeCaptain Bonneville
proceeded on his journeyuntil on the banks of the Bear River
some distance higher uphe came upon the party which he had
detached a year beforeto circumambulate the Great Salt Lake
and ascertain its extentand the nature of its shores. They had
been encamped here about twenty days; and were greatly rejoiced
at meeting once more with their comradesfrom whom they had so
long been separated. The first inquiry of Captain Bonneville was
about the result of their journeyand the information they had
procured as to the Great Salt Lake; the object of his intense
curiosity and ambition. The substance of their report will be
found in the following chapter.

38.
Plan of the Salt Lake expedition Great sandy deserts Sufferings
from thirst Ogden's River Trails and smoke of lurking
savages Thefts at night A trapper's revenge Alarms of a guilty
conscience A murderous victory Californian mountains Plains
along the Pacific Arrival at Monterey Account of the place and
neighborhood Lower California Its extent The
Peninsula Soil Climate Production Its settlements by the
Jesuits Their sway over the Indians Their expulsion Ruins of a
missionary establishment Sublime scenery Upper
California Missions Their power and policy Resources of the
country Designs of foreign nations

IT WAS ON THE 24TH of Julyin the preceding year (1833)that


the brigade of forty men set out from Green River valleyto
explore the Great Salt Lake. They were to make the complete
circuit of ittrapping on all the streams which should fall in
their wayand to keep journals and make chartscalculated to
impart a knowledge of the lake and the surrounding country. All
the resources of Captain Bonneville had been tasked to fit out
this favorite expedition. The country lying to the southwest of
the mountainsand ranging down to Californiawas as yet almost
unknown; being out of the buffalo rangeit was untraversed by
the trapperwho preferred those parts of the wilderness where
the roaming herds of that species of animal gave him
comparatively an abundant and luxurious life. Still it was said
the deerthe elkand the bighorn were to be found thereso
thatwith a little diligence and economythere was no danger of
lacking food. As a precautionhoweverthe party halted on Bear
River and hunted for a few daysuntil they had laid in a supply
of dried buffalo meat and venison; they then passed by the head
waters of the Cassie Riverand soon found themselves launched on
an immense sandy desert. Southwardlyon their leftthey beheld
the Great Salt Lakespread out like a seabut they found no
stream running into it. A desert extended around themand
stretched to the southwestas far as the eye could reach
rivalling the deserts of Asia and Africa in sterility. There was
neither treenor herbagenor springnor poolnor running
streamnothing but parched wastes of sandwhere horse and rider
were in danger of perishing.

Their sufferingsat lengthbecame so great that they abandoned
their intended courseand made towards a range of snowy
mountainsbrightening in the northwhere they hoped to find
water. After a timethey came upon a small stream leading
directly towards these mountains. Having quenched their burning
thirstand refreshed themselves and their weary horses for a
timethey kept along this streamwhich gradually increased in
sizebeing fed by numerous brooks. After approaching the
mountainsit took a sweep toward the southwestand the
travellers still kept along ittrapping beaver as they wenton
the flesh of which they subsisted for the presenthusbanding
their dried meat for future necessities.

The stream on which they had thus fallen is called by someMary
Riverbut is more generally known as Ogden's Riverfrom Mr.
Peter Ogdenan enterprising and intrepid leader of the Hudson's
Bay Companywho first explored it. The wild and half-desert
region through which the travellers were passingis wandered
over by hordes of Shoshokoesor Root Diggersthe forlorn branch
of the Snake tribe. They are a shy peopleprone to keep aloof
from the stranger. The travellers frequently met with their
trailsand saw the smoke of their fires rising in various parts
of the vast landscapeso that they knew there were great numbers
in the neighborhoodbut scarcely ever were any of them to be met
with.

After a timethey began to have vexatious proofs thatif the
Shoshokoes were quiet by daythey were busy at night. The camp
was dogged by these eavesdroppers; scarce a morningbut various
articles were missingyet nothing could be seen of the
marauders. What particularly exasperated the hunterswas to have
their traps stolen from the streams. One morninga trapper of a
violent and savage characterdiscovering that his traps had been
carried off in the nighttook a horrid oath to kill the first
Indian he should meetinnocent or guilty. As he was returning
with his comrades to camphe beheld two unfortunate Diggers
seated on the river bankfishing. Advancing upon themhe


levelled his rifleshot one upon the spotand flung his
bleeding body into the stream. The other Indian fled and was
suffered to escape. Such is the indifference with which acts of
violence are regarded in the wildernessand such the immunity an
armed ruffian enjoys beyond the barriers of the lawsthat the
only punishment this desperado met withwas a rebuke from the
leader of the party. The trappers now left the scene of this
infamous tragedyand kept on westwarddown the course of the
riverwhich wound along with a range of mountains on the right
handand a sandybut somewhat fertile plainon the left. As
they proceededthey beheld columns of smoke risingas before
in various directionswhich their guilty consciences now
converted into alarm signalsto arouse the country and collect
the scattered bands for vengeance.

After a timethe natives began to make their appearanceand
sometimes in considerable numbersbut always pacific; the
trappershoweversuspected them of deep-laid plans to draw them
into ambuscades; to crowd into and get possession of their camp
and various other crafty and daring conspiracieswhichit is
probablenever entered into the heads of the poor savages. In
factthey are a simpletimidinoffensive raceunpractised in
warfareand scarce provided with any weaponsexcepting for the
chase. Their lives are passed in the great sand plains and along
the adjacent rivers; they subsist sometimes on fishat other
times on roots and the seeds of a plantcalled the cat's-tail.
They are of the same kind of people that Captain Bonneville found
upon Snake Riverand whom he found so mild and inoffensive.

The trappershoweverhad persuaded themselves that they were
making their way through a hostile countryand that implacable
foes hung round their camp or beset their pathwatching for an
opportunity to surprise them. At lengthone day they came to the
banks of a stream emptying into Ogden's Riverwhich they were
obliged to ford. Here a great number of Shoshokoes were posted on
the opposite bank. Persuaded they were there with hostile intent
they advanced upon themlevelled their riflesand killed twenty
five of them upon the spot. The rest fled to a short distance
then halted and turned abouthowling and whining like wolves
and uttering the most piteous wailings. The trappers chased them
in every direction; the poor wretches made no defencebut fled
with terror; neither does it appear from the accounts of the
boasted victorsthat a weapon had been wielded or a weapon
launched by the Indians throughout the affair. We feel perfectly
convinced that the poor savages had no hostile intentionbut had
merely gathered together through motives of curiosityas others
of their tribe had done when Captain Bonneville and his
companions passed along Snake River.

The trappers continued down Ogden's Riveruntil they ascertained
that it lost itself in a great swampy laketo which there was no
apparent discharge. They then struck directly westwardacross
the great chain of California mountains intervening between these
interior plains and the shores of the Pacific.

For three and twenty days they were entangled among these
mountainsthe peaks and ridges of which are in many places
covered with perpetual snow. Their passes and defiles present the
wildest scenerypartaking of the sublime rather than the
beautifuland abounding with frightful precipices. The
sufferings of the travellers among these savage mountains were
extreme: for a part of the time they were nearly starved; at
lengththey made their way through themand came down upon the
plains of New Californiaa fertile region extending along the


coastwith magnificent forestsverdant savannasand prairies
that looked like stately parks. Here they found deer and other
game in abundanceand indemnified themselves for past famine.
They now turned toward the southand passing numerous small
bands of nativesposted upon various streamsarrived at the
Spanish village and post of Monterey.

This is a small placecontaining about two hundred houses
situated in latitude 37 north. It has a capacious baywith
indifferent anchorage. The surrounding country is extremely
fertileespecially in the valleys; the soil is richerthe
further you penetrate into the interiorand the climate is
described as a perpetual spring. Indeedall California
extending along the Pacific Ocean from latitude 19 30' to 42
northis represented as one of the most fertile and beautiful
regions in North America.

Lower Californiain length about seven hundred milesforms a
great peninsulawhich crosses the tropics and terminates in the
torrid zone. It is separated from the mainland by the Gulf of
Californiasometimes called the Vermilion Sea; into this gulf
empties the Colorado of the Westthe Seeds-ke-deeor Green
Riveras it is also sometimes called. The peninsula is traversed
by stern and barren mountainsand has many sandy plainswhere
the only sign of vegetation is the cylindrical cactus growing
among the clefts of the rocks. Wherever there is waterhowever
and vegetable mouldthe ardent nature of the climate quickens
everything into astonishing fertility. There are valleys
luxuriant with the rich and beautiful productions of the tropics.
There the sugar-cane and indigo plant attain a perfection
unequalled in any other part of North America. There flourish the
olivethe figthe datethe orangethe citronthe
pomegranateand other fruits belonging to the voluptuous
climates of the south; with grapes in abundancethat yield a
generous wine. In the interior are salt plains; silver mines and
scanty veins of gold are saidlikewiseto exist; and pearls of
a beautiful water are to be fished upon the coast.

The peninsula of California was settled in 1698by the Jesuits
whocertainlyas far as the natives were concernedhave
generally proved the most beneficent of colonists. In the present
instancethey gained and maintained a footing in the country
without the aid of military forcebut solely by religious
influence. They formed a treatyand entered into the most
amicable relations with the nativesthen numbering from
twenty-five to thirty thousand soulsand gained a hold upon
their affectionsand a control over their mindsthat effected a
complete change in their condition. They built eleven missionary
establishments in the various valleys of the peninsulawhich
formed rallying places for the surrounding savageswhere they
gathered together as sheep into the foldand surrendered
themselves and their consciences into the hands of these
spiritual pastors. Nothingwe are toldcould exceed the
implicit and affectionate devotion of the Indian converts to the
Jesuit fathersand the Catholic faith was disseminated widely
through the wilderness. The growing power and influence of the
Jesuits in the New World at length excited the jealousy of the
Spanish governmentand they were banished from the colonies. The
governorwho arrived at California to expel themand to take
charge of the countryexpected to find a rich and powerful
fraternitywith immense treasures hoarded in their missionsand
an army of Indians ready to defend them. On the contraryhe
beheld a few venerable silverhaired priests coming humbly forward
to meet himfollowed by a throng of weepingbut submissive


natives. The heart of the governorit is saidwas so touched by
this unexpected sightthat he shed tears; but he had to execute
his orders. The Jesuits were accompanied to the place of their
embarkation by their simple and affectionate parishionerswho
took leave of them with tears and sobs. Many of the latter
abandoned their heriditary abodesand wandered off to join their
southern brethrenso that but a remnant remained in the
peninsula. The Franciscans immediately succeeded the Jesuitsand
subsequently the Dominicans; but the latter managed their affairs
ill. But two of the missionary establishments are at present
occupied by priests; the rest are all in ruinsexcepting one
which remains a monument of the former power and prosperity of
the order. This is a noble edificeonce the seat of the chief of
the resident Jesuits. It is situated in a beautiful valleyabout
half way between the Gulf of California and the broad oceanthe
peninsula being here about sixty miles wide. The edifice is of
hewn stoneone story hightwo hundred and ten feet in front
and about fifty-five feet deep. The walls are six feet thickand
sixteen feet highwith a vaulted roof of stoneabout two feet
and a half in thickness. It is now abandoned and desolate; the
beautiful valley is without an inhabitant-- not a human being
resides within thirty miles of the place!

In approaching this deserted mission-house from the souththe
traveller passes over the mountain of San Juansupposed to be
the highest peak in the Californias. From this lofty eminencea
vast and magnificent prospect unfolds itself; the great Gulf of
Californiawith the dark blue sea beyondstudded with islands;
and in another directionthe immense lava plain of San Gabriel.
The splendor of the climate gives an Italian effect to the
immense prospect. The sky is of a deep blue colorand the
sunsets are often magnificent beyond description. Such is a
slight and imperfect sketch of this remarkable peninsula.

Upper California extends from latitude 31 10' to 42 on the
Pacificand inlandto the great chain of snow-capped mountains
which divide it from the sand plains of the interior. There are
about twenty-one missions in this provincemost of which were
established about fifty years sinceand are generally under the
care of the Franciscans. These exert a protecting sway over about
thirty-five thousand Indian convertswho reside on the lands
around the mission houses. Each of these houses has fifteen miles
square of land allotted to itsubdivided into small lots
proportioned to the number of Indian converts attached to the
mission. Some are enclosed with high walls; but in general they
are open hamletscomposed of rows of hutsbuilt of sunburnt
bricks; in some instances whitewashed and roofed with tiles. Many
of them are far in the interiorbeyond the reach of all military
protectionand dependent entirely on the good will of the
nativeswhich never fails them. They have made considerable
progress in teaching the Indians the useful arts. There are
native tannersshoemakersweaversblacksmithsstonecutters
and other artificers attached to each establishment. Others are
taught husbandryand the rearing of cattle and horses; while the
females card and spin woolweaveand perform the other duties
allotted to their sex in civilized life. No social intercourse is
allowed between the unmarried of the opposite sexes after working
hours; and at night they are locked up in separate apartments
and the keys delivered to the priests.

The produce of the landsand all the profits arising from sales
are entirely at the disposal of the priests; whatever is not
required for the support of the missionsgoes to augment a fund
which is under their control. Hides and tallow constitute the


principal riches of the missionsandindeedthe main commerce
of the country. Grain might be produced to an unlimited extent at
the establishmentswere there a sufficient market for it. Olives
and grapes are also reared at the missions.

Horses and horned cattle abound throughout all this region; the
former may be purchased at from three to five dollarsbut they
are of an inferior breed. Muleswhich are here of a large size
and of valuable qualitiescost from seven to ten dollars.

There are several excellent ports along this coast. San Diego
San BarbaraMontereythe bay of San Franciscoand the northern
port of Bondago; all afford anchorage for ships of the largest
class. The port of San Francisco is too well known to require
much notice in this place. The entrance from the sea is
sixty-seven fathoms deepand withinwhole navies might ride
with perfect safety. Two large riverswhich take their rise in
mountains two or three hundred miles to the eastand run through
a country unsurpassed for soil and climateempty themselves into
the harbor. The country around affords admirable timber for
ship-building. In a wordthis favored port combines advantages
which not only fit it for a grand naval depotbut almost render
it capable of being made the dominant military post of these
seas.

Such is a feeble outline of the Californian coast and country
the value of which is more and more attracting the attention of
naval powers. The Russians have always a ship of war upon this
stationand have already encroached upon the Californian
boundariesby taking possession of the port of Bondagoand
fortifying it with several guns. Recent surveys have likewise
been madeboth by the Russians and the English; and we have
little doubtthatat no very distant daythis neglectedand
until recentlyalmost unknown regionwill be found to possess
sources of wealth sufficient to sustain a powerful and prosperous
empire. Its inhabitantsthemselvesare but little aware of its
real riches; they have not enterprise sufficient to acquaint
themselves with a vast interior that lies almost a terra
incognita; nor have they the skill and industry to cultivate
properly the fertile tracts along the coast; nor to prosecute
that foreign commerce which brings all the resources of a country
into profitable action.

39.
Gay life at Monterey Mexican horsemen A bold dragoon Use of the
lasso Vaqueros Noosing a bear Fight between a bull and a
bear Departure from Monterey Indian horse stealers Outrages
committed by the travellers Indignation of Captain Bonneville


THE WANDERING BAND of trappers was well received at Montereythe
inhabitants were desirous of retaining them among themand
offered extravagant wages to such as were acquainted with any
mechanic art. When they went into the countrytoothey were
kindly treated by the priests at the missions; who are always
hospitable to strangerswhatever may be their rank or religion.
They had no lack of provisions; being permitted to kill as many
as they pleased of the vast herds of cattle that graze the
countryon conditionmerelyof rendering the hides to the
owners. They attended bull-fights and horseraces; forgot all the
purposes of their expedition; squandered awayfreelythe
property that did not belong to them; andin a wordrevelled in


a perfect fool's paradise.

What especially delighted them was the equestrian skill of the
Californians. The vast number and the cheapness of the horses in
this country makes every one a cavalier. The Mexicans and
halfbreeds of California spend the greater part of their time in
the saddle. They are fearless riders; and their daring feats upon
unbroken colts and wild horsesastonished our trappers; though
accustomed to the bold riders of the prairies.

A Mexican horseman has much resemblancein many pointsto the
equestrians of Old Spain; and especially to the vain-glorious
caballero of Andalusia. A Mexican dragoonfor instanceis
represented as arrayed in a round blue jacketwith red cuffs and
collar; blue velvet breechesunbuttoned at the knees to show his
white stockings; bottinas of deer skin; a round-crowned
Andalusian hatand his hair cued. On the pommel of his saddle
he carries balanced a long musketwith fox skin round the lock.
He is cased in a cuirass of double-fold deer skinand carries a
bull's hide shield; he is forked in a Moorish saddlehigh before
and behind; his feet are thrust into wooden box stirrupsof
Moorish fashionand a tremendous pair of iron spursfastened by
chainsjingle at his heels. Thus equippedand suitably mounted
he considers himself the glory of Californiaand the terror of
the universe.

The Californian horsemen seldom ride out without the laso [sic];
that is to saya long coil of cordwith a slip noose; with
which they are expertalmost to a miracle. The lasonow almost
entirely confined to Spanish Americais said to be of great
antiquity; and to have comeoriginallyfrom the East. It was
usedwe are toldby a pastoral people of Persian descent; of
whom eight thousand accompanied the army of Xerxes. By the
Spanish Americansit is used for a variety of purposes; and
among othersfor hauling wood. Without dismountingthey cast
the noose around a logand thus drag it to their houses. The
vaquerosor Indian cattle drivershave also learned the use of
the laso from the Spaniards; and employ it to catch the half-wild
cattle by throwing it round their horns.

The laso is also of great use in furnishing the public with a
favoritethough barbarous sport; the combat between a bear and a
wild bull. For this purposethree or four horsemen sally forth
to some woodfrequented by bearsanddepositing the carcass of
a bullockhide themselves in the vicinity. The bears are soon
attracted by the bait. As soon as onefit for their purpose
makes his appearancethey run outand with the laso
dexterously noose him by either leg. After dragging him at full
speed until he is fatiguedthey secure him more effectually; and
tying him on the carcass of the bullockdraw him in triumph to
the scene of action. By this timehe is exasperated to such
frenzythat they are sometimes obliged to throw cold water on
himto moderate his fury; and dangerous would it befor horse
and riderwere hewhile in this paroxysmto break his bonds.

A wild bullof the fiercest kindwhich has been caught and
exasperated in the same manneris now produced; and both animals
are turned loose in the arena of a small amphitheatre. The mortal
fight begins instantly; and alwaysat firstto the disadvantage
of Bruin; fatiguedas he isby his previous rough riding.
Rousedat lengthby the repeated goring of the bullhe seizes
his muzzle with his sharp clawsand clinging to this most
sensitive partcauses him to bellow with rage and agony. In his
heat and furythe bull lolls out his tongue; this is instantly


clutched by the bear; with a desperate effort he overturns his
huge antagonist; and then dispatches him without difficulty.

Beside this diversionthe travellers were likewise regaled with
bull-fightsin the genuine style of Old Spain; the Californians
being considered the best bull-fighters in the Mexican dominions.

After a considerable sojourn at Montereyspent in these very
edifyingbut not very profitable amusementsthe leader of this
vagabond party set out with his comradeson his return journey.
Instead of retracing their steps through the mountainsthey
passed round their southern extremityandcrossing a range of
low hillsfound themselves in the sandy plains south of Ogden's
River; in traversing whichthey again sufferedgrievouslyfor
want of water.

In the course of their journeythey encountered a party of
Mexicans in pursuit of a gang of nativeswho had been stealing
horses. The savages of this part of California are represented as
extremely poorand armed only with stone-pointed arrows; it
being the wise policy of the Spaniards not to furnish them with
firearms. As they find it difficultwith their blunt shaftsto
kill the wild game of the mountainsthey occasionally supply
themselves with foodby entrapping the Spanish horses. Driving
them stealthily into fastnesses and ravinesthey slaughter them
without difficultyand dry their flesh for provisions. Some they
carry off to trade with distant tribes; and in this waythe
Spanish horses pass from hand to hand among the Indiansuntil
they even find their way across the Rocky Mountains.

The Mexicans are continually on the alertto intercept these
marauders; but the Indians are apt to outwit themand force them
to make long and wild expeditions in pursuit of their stolen
horses.

Two of the Mexican party just mentioned joined the band of
trappersand proved themselves worthy companions. In the course
of their journey through the country frequented by the poor Root
Diggersthere seems to have been an emulation between them
which could inflict the greatest outrages upon the natives. The
trappers still considered them in the light of dangerous foes;
and the Mexicansvery probablycharged them with the sin of
horse-stealing; we have no other mode of accounting for the
infamous barbarities of whichaccording to their own storythey
were guilty; hunting the poor Indians like wild beastsand
killing them without mercy. The Mexicans excelled at this savage
sport; chasing their unfortunate victims at full speed; noosing
them round the neck with their lasosand then dragging them to
death!

Such are the scanty details of this most disgraceful expedition;
at leastsuch are all that Captain Bonneville had the patience
to collect; for he was so deeply grieved by the failure of his
plansand so indignant at the atrocities related to himthat he
turnedwith disgust and horrorfrom the narrators. Had he
exerted a little of the Lynch law of the wildernessand hanged
those dexterous horsemen in their own lasosit would but have
been a well-merited and salutary act of retributive justice. The
failure of this expedition was a blow to his prideand a still
greater blow to his purse. The Great Salt Lake still remained
unexplored; at the same timethe means which had been furnished
so liberally to fit out this favorite expeditionhad all been
squandered at Monterey; and the peltriesalsowhich had been
collected on the way. He would have but scanty returns


thereforeto make this yearto his associates in the United
States; and there was great danger of their becoming
disheartenedand abandoning the enterprise.

40

Traveller's tales Indian lurkers Prognostics of Buckeye
Signs and portents The medicine wolf An alarm An ambush
The captured provant Triumph of Buckeye Arrival of supplies

Grand carouse Arrangements for the year Mr. Wyeth and his

new-levied band.

THE horror and indignation felt by Captain Bonneville at the
excesses of the Californian adventurers were not participated by
his men; on the contrarythe events of that expedition were
favorite themes in the camp. The heroes of Monterey bore the palm
in all the gossipings among the hunters. Their glowing
descriptions of Spanish bear-baits and bull-fights especially
were listened to with intense delight; and had another expedition
to California been proposedthe difficulty would have been to
restrain a general eagerness to volunteer.

The captain had not long been at the rendezvous when he
perceivedby various signsthat Indians were lurking in the
neighborhood. It was evident that the Blackfoot bandwhich he
had seen when on his marchhad dogged his partyand were intent
on mischief. He endeavored to keep his camp on the alert; but it
is as difficult to maintain discipline among trappers at a
rendezvous as among sailors when in port.

Buckeyethe Delaware Indianwas scandalized at this
heedlessness of the hunters when an enemy was at handand was
continually preaching up caution. He was a little prone to play
the prophetand to deal in signs and portentswhich
occasionally excited the merriment of his white comrades. He was
a great dreamerand believed in charms and talismansor
medicinesand could foretell the approach of strangers by the
howling or barking of the small prairie wolf. This animalbeing
driven by the larger wolves from the carcasses left on the
hunting grounds by the huntersfollows the trail of the fresh
meat carried to the camp. Here the smell of the roast and
broiledmingling with every breezekeeps them hovering about
the neighborhood; scenting every blastturning up their noses
like hungry houndsand testifying their pinching hunger by long
whining howls and impatient barkings. These are interpreted by
the superstitious Indians into warnings that strangers are at
hand; and one accidental coincidencelike the chance fulfillment
of an almanac predictionis sufficient to cover a thousand
failures. This littlewhiningfeast-smelling animal is
thereforecalled among Indians the "medicine wolf;" and such was
one of Buckeye's infallible oracles.

One morning earlythe soothsaying Delaware appeared with a
gloomy countenance. His mind was full of dismal presentiments
whether from mysterious dreamsor the intimations of the
medicine wolfdoes not appear. "Danger he said, was lurking
in their pathand there would be some fighting before sunset."
He was bantered for his prophecywhich was attributed to his
having supped too heartilyand been visited by bad dreams. In
the course of the morning a party of hunters set out in pursuit
of buffaloestaking with them a muleto bring home the meat
they should procure. They had been some few hours absentwhen


they came clattering at full speed into campgiving the war cry
of Blackfeet! Blackfeet! Every one seized his weapon and ran to
learn the cause of the alarm. It appeared that the huntersas
they were returning leisurelyleading their mule well laden with
prime pieces of buffalo meatpassed close by a small stream
overhung with treesabout two miles from the camp. Suddenly a
party of Blackfeetwho lay in ambush along the thicketssprang
up with a fearful yelland discharged a volley at the hunters.
The latter immediately threw themselves flat on their horsesput
them to their speedand never paused to look behinduntil they
found themselves in camp. Fortunately they had escaped without a
wound; but the mulewith all the "provant had fallen into the
hands of the enemy This was a loss, as well as an insult, not to
be borne. Every man sprang to horse, and with rifle in hand,
galloped off to punish the Blackfeet, and rescue the buffalo
beef. They came too late; the marauders were off, and all that
they found of their mule was the dents of his hoofs, as he had
been conveyed off at a round trot, bearing his savory cargo to
the hills, to furnish the scampering savages with a banquet of
roast meat at the expense of the white men.

The party returned to camp, balked of their revenge, but still
more grievously balked of their supper. Buckeye, the Delaware,
sat smoking by his fire, perfectly composed. As the hunters
related the particulars of the attack, he listened in silence,
with unruffled countenance, then pointing to the west, the sun
has not yet set said he: Buckeye did not dream like a fool!"

All present now recollected the prediction of the Indian at
daybreakand were struck with what appeared to be its
fulfilment. They called to mindalsoa long catalogue of
foregone presentiments and predictions made at various times by
the Delawareandin their superstitious credulitybegan to
consider him a veritable seer; without thinking how natural it
was to predict dangerand how likely to have the prediction
verified in the present instancewhen various signs gave
evidence of a lurking foe.

The various bands of Captain Bonneville's company had now been
assembled for some time at the rendezvous; they had had their
fill of feastingand frolickingand all the species of wild and
often uncouth merrymakingwhich invariably take place on these
occasions. Their horsesas well as themselveshad recovered
from past famine and fatigueand were again fit for active
service; and an impatience began to manifest itself among the men
once more to take the fieldand set off on some wandering
expedition.

At this juncture M. Cerre arrived at the rendezvous at the head
of a supply partybringing goods and equipments from the States.
This active leaderit will be recollectedhad embarked the year
previously in skin-boats on the Bighornfreighted with the
year's collection of peltries. He had met with misfortune in the
course of his voyage: one of his frail barks being upsetand
part of the furs lost or damaged.

The arrival of the supplies gave the regular finish to the annual
revel. A grand outbreak of wild debauch ensued among the
mountaineers; drinkingdancingswaggeringgambling
quarrellingand fighting. Alcoholwhichfrom its portable
qualitiescontaining the greatest quantity of fiery spirit in
the smallest compassis the only liquor carried across the
mountainsis the inflammatory beverage at these carousalsand
is dealt out to the trappers at four dollars a pint. When


inflamed by this fiery beveragethey cut all kinds of mad pranks
and gambolsand sometimes burn all their clothes in their
drunken bravadoes. A camprecovering from one of these riotous
revelspresents a seriocomic spectacle; black eyesbroken
headslack-lustre visages. Many of the trappers have squandered
in one drunken frolic the hard-earned wages of a year; some have
run in debtand must toil on to pay for past pleasure. All are
sated with this deep draught of pleasureand eager to commence
another trapping campaign; for hardship and hard workspiced
with the stimulants of wild adventuresand topped off with an
annual frantic carousalis the lot of the restless trapper.

The captain now made his arrangements for the current year.
Cerre and Walkerwith a number of men who had been to
Californiawere to proceed to St. Louis with the packages of
furs collected during the past year. Another partyheaded by a
leader named Monterowas to proceed to the Crow countrytrap
upon its various streamsand among the Black Hillsand thence
to proceed to the Arkansaswhere he was to go into winter
quarters.

The captain marked out for himself a widely different course. He
intended to make another expeditionwith twenty-three men to the
lower part of the Columbia Riverand to proceed to the valley of
the Multnomah; after wintering in those partsand establishing a
trade with those tribesamong whom he had sojourned on his first
visithe would return in the springcross the Rocky Mountains
and join Montero and his party in the month of Julyat the
rendezvous of the Arkansas; where he expected to receive his
annual supplies from the States.

If the reader will cast his eye upon a maphe may form an idea
of the contempt for distance which a man acquires in this vast
wildernessby noticing the extent of country comprised in these
projected wanderings. Just as the different parties were about
to set out on the 3d of Julyon their opposite routesCaptain
Bonneville received intelligence that Wyeththe indefatigable
leader of the salmon-fishing enterprisewho had parted with him
about a year previously on the banks of the Bighornto descend
that wild river in a bull boatwas near at handwith a new
levied band of hunters and trappersand was on his way once more
to the banks of the Columbia

As we take much interest in the novel enterprise of this eastern
man and are pleased with his pushing and persevering spirit;
and as his movements are characteristic of life in the
wilderness, we will, with the reader's permission, while Captain
Bonneville is breaking up his camp and saddling his horses, step
back a year in time, and a few hundred miles in distance to the
bank of the Bighorn, and launch ourselves with Wyeth in his bull
boat; and though his adventurous voyage will take us many
hundreds of miles further down wild and wandering rivers; yet
such is the magic power of the pen, that we promise to bring the
reader safe to Bear River Valley, by the time the last horse is
saddled.

41.
A voyage in a bull boat.

IT was about the middle of August (1833) that Mr. Nathaniel J.
Wyeth, as the reader may recollect, launched his bull boat at the


foot of the rapids of the Bighorn, and departed in advance of the
parties of Campbell and Captain Bonneville. His boat was made of
three buffalo skins, stretched on a light frame, stitched
together, and the seams paid with elk tallow and ashes. It was
eighteen feet long, and about five feet six inches wide, sharp at
each end, with a round bottom, and drew about a foot and a half
of water-a depth too great for these upper rivers, which abound
with shallows and sand-bars. The crew consisted of two
half-breeds, who claimed to be white men, though a mixture of the
French creole and the Shawnee and Potawattomie. They claimed,
moreover, to be thorough mountaineers, and first-rate hunters --
the common boast of these vagabonds of the wilderness. Besides
these, there was a Nez Perce lad of eighteen years of age, a kind
of servant of all work, whose great aim, like all Indian
servants, was to do as little work as possible; there was,
moreover, a half-breed boy, of thirteen, named Baptiste, son of a
Hudson's Bay trader by a Flathead beauty; who was travelling with
Wyeth to see the world and complete his education. Add to these,
Mr. Milton Sublette, who went as passenger, and we have the crew
of the little bull boat complete.

It certainly was a slight armament with which to run the gauntlet
through countries swarming with hostile hordes, and a slight bark
to navigate these endless rivers, tossing and pitching down
rapids, running on snags and bumping on sand-bars; such, however,
are the cockle-shells with which these hardy rovers of the
wilderness will attempt the wildest streams; and it is surprising
what rough shocks and thumps these boats will endure, and what
vicissitudes they will live through. Their duration, however, is
but limited; they require frequently to be hauled out of the
water and dried, to prevent the hides from becoming water-soaked;
and they eventually rot and go to pieces.

The course of the river was a little to the north of east; it ran
about five miles an hour, over a gravelly bottom. The banks were
generally alluvial, and thickly grown with cottonwood trees,
intermingled occasionally with ash and plum trees. Now and then
limestone cliffs and promontories advanced upon the river, making
picturesque headlands. Beyond the woody borders rose ranges of
naked hills.

Milton Sublette was the Pelorus of this adventurous bark; being
somewhat experienced in this wild kind of navigation. It required
all his attention and skill, however, to pilot her clear of
sand-bars and snags of sunken trees. There was often, too, a
perplexity of choice, where the river branched into various
channels, among clusters of islands; and occasionally the
voyagers found themselves aground and had to turn back.

It was necessary, also, to keep a wary eye upon the land, for
they were passing through the heart of the Crow country, and were
continually in reach of any ambush that might be lurking on
shore. The most formidable foes that they saw, however, were
three grizzly bears, quietly promenading along the bank, who
seemed to gaze at them with surprise as they glided by. Herds of
buffalo, also, were moving about, or lying on the ground, like
cattle in a pasture; excepting such inhabitants as these, a
perfect solitude reigned over the land. There was no sign of
human habitation; for the Crows, as we have already shown, are a
wandering people, a race of hunters and warriors, who live in
tents and on horseback, and are continually on the move.
At night they landed, hauled up their boat to dry, pitched their
tent, and made a rousing fire. Then, as it was the first evening
of their voyage, they indulged in a regale, relishing their


buffalo beef with inspiring alcohol; after which, they slept
soundly, without dreaming of Crows or Blackfeet. Early in the
morning, they again launched the boat and committed themselves to
the stream.

In this way they voyaged for two days without any material
occurrence, excepting a severe thunder storm, which compelled
them to put to shore, and wait until it was passed. On the third
morning they descried some persons at a distance on the river
bank. As they were now, by calculation, at no great distance from
Fort Cass, a trading post of the American Fur Company, they
supposed these might be some of its people. A nearer approach
showed them to be Indians. Descrying a woman apart from the rest,
they landed and accosted her. She informed them that the main
force of the Crow nation, consisting of five bands, under their
several chiefs, were but about two or three miles below, on their
way up along the river. This was unpleasant tidings, but to
retreat was impossible, and the river afforded no hiding place.
They continued forward, therefore, trusting that, as Fort Cass
was so near at hand, the Crows might refrain from any
depredations.

Floating down about two miles further, they came in sight of the
first band, scattered along the river bank, all well mounted;
some armed with guns, others with bows and arrows, and a few with
lances. They made a wildly picturesque appearance managing their
horses with their accustomed dexterity and grace. Nothing can be
more spirited than a band of Crow cavaliers. They are a fine race
of men averaging six feet in height, lithe and active, with
hawks' eyes and Roman noses. The latter feature is common to the
Indians on the east side of the Rocky Mountains; those on the
western side have generally straight or flat noses.

Wyeth would fain have slipped by this cavalcade unnoticed; but
the river, at this place, was not more than ninety yards across;
he was perceived, therefore, and hailed by the vagabond warriors,
and, we presume, in no very choice language; for, among their
other accomplishments, the Crows are famed for possessing a
Billingsgate vocabulary of unrivalled opulence, and for being by
no means sparing of it whenever an occasion offers. Indeed,
though Indians are generally very lofty, rhetorical, and
figurative in their language at all great talks, and high
ceremonials, yet, if trappers and traders may be believed, they
are the most unsavory vagabonds in their ordinary colloquies;
they make no hesitation to call a spade a spade; and when they
once undertake to call hard names, the famous pot and kettle, of
vituperating memory, are not to be compared with them for
scurrility of epithet.

To escape the infliction of any compliments of this kind, or the
launching, peradventure, of more dangerous missiles, Wyeth landed
with the best grace in his power and approached the chief of the
band. It was Arapooish, the quondam friend of Rose the outlaw,
and one whom we have already mentioned as being anxious to
promote a friendly intercourse between his tribe and the white
men. He was a tall, stout man, of good presence, and received the
voyagers very graciously. His people, too, thronged around them,
and were officiously attentive after the Crow fashion. One took a
great fancy to Baptiste the Flathead boy, and a still greater
fancy to a ring on his finger, which he transposed to his own
with surprising dexterity, and then disappeared with a quick step
among the crowd.

Another was no less pleased with the Nez Perce lad, and nothing


would do but he must exchange knives with him; drawing a new
knife out of the Nez Perce's scabbard, and putting an old one in
its place. Another stepped up and replaced this old knife with
one still older, and a third helped himself to knife, scabbard
and all. It was with much difficulty that Wyeth and his
companions extricated themselves from the clutches of these
officious Crows before they were entirely plucked.

Falling down the river a little further, they came in sight of
the second band, and sheered to the opposite side, with the
intention of passing them. The Crows were not to be evaded. Some
pointed their guns at the boat, and threatened to fire; others
stripped, plunged into the stream, and came swimming across.
Making a virtue of necessity, Wyeth threw a cord to the first
that came within reach, as if he wished to be drawn to the shore.

In this way he was overhauled by every band, and by the time he
and his people came out of the busy hands of the last, they were
eased of most of their superfluities. Nothing, in all
probability, but the proximity of the American trading post, kept
these land pirates from making a good prize of the bull boat and
all its contents.

These bands were in full march, equipped for war, and evidently
full of mischief. They were, in fact, the very bands that overran
the land in the autumn of 1833; partly robbed Fitzpatrick of his
horses and effects; hunted and harassed Captain Bonneville and
his people; broke up their trapping campaigns, and, in a word,
drove them all out of the Crow country. It has been suspected
that they were set on to these pranks by some of the American Fur
Company, anxious to defeat the plans of their rivals of the Rocky
Mountain Company; for at this time, their competition was at its
height, and the trade of the Crow country was a great object of
rivalry. What makes this the more probable, is, that the Crows in
their depredation seemed by no means bloodthirsty, but intent
chiefly on robbing the parties of their traps and horses, thereby
disabling them from prosecuting their hunting.

We should observe that this year, the Rocky Mountain Company were
pushing their way up the rivers, and establishing rival posts
near those of the American Company; and that, at the very time of
which we are speaking, Captain Sublette was ascending the
Yellowstone with a keel boat, laden with supplies; so that there
was every prospect of this eager rivalship being carried to
extremes.

The last band of Crow warriors had scarcely disappeared in the
clouds of dust they had raised, when our voyagers arrived at the
mouth of the river and glided into the current of the
Yellowstone. Turning down this stream, they made for Fort Cass,
which is situated on the right bank, about three miles below the
Bighorn. On the opposite side they beheld a party of thirty-one
savages, which they soon ascertained to be Blackfeet. The width
of the river enabled them to keep at a sufficient distance, and
they soon landed at Fort Cass. This was a mere fortification
against Indians; being a stockade of about one hundred and thirty
feet square, with two bastions at the extreme corners. M'Tulloch,
an agent of the American Company, was stationed there with twenty
men; two boats of fifteen tons burden were lying here; but at
certain seasons of the year a steamboat can come up to the fort.

They had scarcely arrived, when the Blackfeet warriors made their
appearance on the opposite bank, displaying two American flags in
token of amity. They plunged into the river, swam across, and


were kindly received at the fort. They were some of the very men
who had been engaged, the year previously, in the battle at
Pierre's Hole, and a fierce-looking set of fellows they were;
tall and hawk-nosed, and very much resembling the Crows. They
professed to be on an amicable errand, to make peace with the
Crows, and set off in all haste, before night, to overtake them.
Wyeth predicted that they would lose their scalps; for he had
heard the Crows denounce vengeance on them, for having murdered
two of their warriors who had ventured among them on the faith of
a treaty of peace. It is probable, however, that this pacific
errand was all a pretence, and that the real object of the
Blackfeet braves was to hang about the skirts of the Crow band,
steal their horses, and take the scalps of stragglers.

At Fort Cass, Mr. Wyeth disposed of some packages of beaver, and
a quantity of buffalo robes. On the following morning (August
18th), he once more launched his bull boat, and proceeded down
the Yellowstone, which inclined in an east-northeast direction.
The river had alluvial bottoms, fringed with great quantities of
the sweet cotton-wood, and interrupted occasionally by bluffs"
of sandstone. The current occasionally brings down fragments of
granite and porphyry.

In the course of the daythey saw something moving on the bank
among the treeswhich they mistook for game of some kind; and
being in want of provisionspulled toward shore. They
discoveredjust in timea party of Blackfeetlurking in the
thicketsand sheeredwith all speedto the opposite side of
the river.

After a timethey came in sight of a gang of elk. Wyeth was
immediately for pursuing themrifle in handbut saw evident
signs of dissatisfaction in his half-breed hunters; who
considered him as trenching upon their provinceand meddling
with things quite above his capacity; for these veterans of the
wilderness are exceedingly pragmaticalon points of venery and
woodcraftand tenacious of their superiority; looking down with
infinite contempt upon all raw beginners. The two worthies
thereforesallied forth themselvesbut after a time returned
empty-handed. They laid the blamehoweverentirely on their
guns; two miserable old pieces with flint lockswhichwith all
their picking and hammeringwere continually apt to miss fire.
These great boasters of the wildernesshoweverare very often
exceeding bad shotsand fortunate it is for them when they have
old flint guns to bear the blame.

The next day they passed where a great herd of buffalo was
bellowing on a prairie. Again the Castor and Pollux of the
wilderness sallied forthand again their flint guns were at
faultand missed fireand nothing went off but the buffalo.
Wyeth now found there was danger of losing his dinner if he
depended upon his hunters; he took rifle in handthereforeand
went forth himself. In the course of an hour he returned laden
with buffalo meatto the great mortification of the two regular
hunterswho were annoyed at being eclipsed by a greenhorn.

All hands now set to work to prepare the midday repast. A fire
was made under an immense cotton-wood treethat overshadowed a
beautiful piece of meadow land; rich morsels of buffalo hump were
soon roasting before it; in a hearty and prolonged repastthe
two unsuccessful hunters gradually recovered from their
mortification; threatened to discard their old flint guns as soon
as they should reach the settlementsand boasted more than ever
of the wonderful shots they had madewhen they had guns that


never missed fire.

Having hauled up their boat to dry in the sunprevious to making
their repastthe voyagers now set it once more afloatand
proceeded on their way. They had constructed a sail out of their
old tentwhich they hoisted whenever the wind was favorableand
thus skimmed along down the stream. Their voyage was pleasant
notwithstanding the perils by sea and landwith which they were
environed. Whenever they could they encamped on islands for the
greater security. If on the mainlandand in a dangerous
neighborhoodthey would shift their camp after darkleaving
their fire burningdropping down the river some distanceand
making no fire at their second encampment. Sometimes they would
float all night with the current; one keeping watch and steering
while the rest slept. in such casethey would haul their boat on
shoreat noon of the following day to dry; for notwithstanding
every precautionshe was gradually getting water-soaked and
rotten.

There was something pleasingly solemn and mysterious in thus
floating down these wild rivers at night. The purity of the
atmosphere in these elevated regions gave additional splendor to
the starsand heightened the magnificence of the firmament. The
occasional rush and laving of the waters; the vague sounds from
the surrounding wilderness; the dreary howlor rather whine of
wolves from the plains; the low grunting and bellowing of the
buffaloand the shrill neighing of the elkstruck the ear with
an effect unknown in the daytime.

The two knowing hunters had scarcely recovered from one
mortification when they were fated to experience another. As the
boat was gliding swiftly round a low promontorythinly covered
with treesone of them gave the alarm of Indians. The boat was
instantly shoved from shore and every one caught up his rifle.
Where are they?cried Wyeth.

There -- there! riding on horseback!cried one of the hunters.

Yes; with white scarfs on!cried the other.

Wyeth looked in the direction they pointedbut descried nothing
but two bald eaglesperched on a low dry branch beyond the
thicketsand seemingfrom the rapid motion of the boatto be
moving swiftly in an opposite direction. The detection of this
blunder in the two veteranswho prided themselves on the
sureness and quickness of their sightproduced a hearty laugh at
their expenseand put an end to their vauntings.

The Yellowstoneabove the confluence of the Bighornis a clear
stream; its waters were now gradually growing turbidand
assuming the yellow clay color of the Missouri. The current was
about four miles an hourwith occasional rapids; some of them
dangerousbut the voyagers passed them all without accident. The
banks of the river were in many places precipitous with strata of
bituminous coal.
They now entered a region abounding with buffalo --that
ever-journeying animalwhich moves in countless droves from
point to point of the vast wilderness; traversing plainspouring
through the intricate defiles of mountainsswimming riversever
on the moveguided on its boundless migrations by some
traditionary knowledgelike the finny tribes of the ocean
whichat certain seasonsfind their mysterious paths across the
deep and revisit the remotest shores.


These great migratory herds of buffalo have their hereditary
paths and highwaysworn deep through the countryand making for
the surest passes of the mountainsand the most practicable
fords of the rivers. When once a great column is in full career
it goes straight forwardregardless of all obstacles; those in
front being impelled by the moving mass behind. At such times
they

will break through a camptrampling down everything in their
course.

It was the lot of the voyagersone nightto encamp at one of
these buffalo landing placesand exactly on the trail. They had
not been long asleepwhen they were awakened by a great
bellowingand trampingand the rushand splashand snorting
of animals in the river. They had just time to ascertain that a
buffalo army was entering the river on the opposite sideand
making toward the landing place. With all haste they moved their
boat and shifted their campby which time the head of the column
had reached the shoreand came pressing up the bank.

It was a singular spectacleby the uncertain moonlightto
behold this countless throng making their way across the river
blowingand bellowingand splashing. Sometimes they pass in
such dense and continuous column as to form a temporary dam
across the riverthe waters of which rise and rush over their
backsor between their squadrons. The roaring and rushing sound
of one of these vast herds crossing a rivermay sometimes in a
still night be heard for miles.

The voyagers now had game in profusion. They could kill as many
buffaloes as they pleasedandoccasionallywere wanton in
their havoc; especially among scattered herdsthat came swimming
near the boat. On one occasionan old buffalo bull approached so
near that the half-breeds must fain try to noose him as they
would a wild horse. The noose was successfully thrown around his
headand secured him by the hornsand they now promised
themselves ample sport. The buffalo made prodigious turmoil in
the waterbellowingand blowingand floundering; and they all
floated down the stream together. At length he found foothold on
a sandbarand taking to his heelswhirled the boat after him
like a whale when harpooned; so that the hunters were obliged to
cast off their ropewith which strange head-gear the venerable
bull made off to the prairies.

On the 24th of Augustthe bull boat emergedwith its
adventurous crewinto the broad bosom of the mighty Missouri.
Hereabout six miles above the mouth of the Yellowstonethe
voyagers landed at Fort Unionthe distributing post of the
American Fur Company in the western country. It was a stockaded
fortressabout two hundred and twenty feet squarepleasantly
situated on a high bank. Here they were hospitably entertained by
Mr. M'Kenziethe superintendentand remained with him three
daysenjoying the unusual luxuries of breadbuttermilkand
cheesefor the fort was well supplied with domestic cattle
though it had no garden. The atmosphere of these elevated regions
is said to be too dry for the culture of vegetables; yet the
voyagersin coming down the Yellowstonehad met with plums
grapescherriesand currantsand had observed ash and elm
trees. Where these grow the climate cannot be incompatible with
gardening.

At Fort UnionWyeth met with a melancholy memento of one of his
men. This was a powder-flaskwhich a clerk had purchased from a


Blackfoot warrior. It bore the initials of poor Morethe
unfortunate youth murdered the year previouslyat Jackson's
Holeby the Blackfeetand whose bones had been subsequently
found by Captain Bonneville. This flask had either been passed
from hand to hand of the youthorperhapshad been brought to
the fort by the very savage who slew him.

As the bull boat was now nearly worn outand altogether unfit
for the broader and more turbulent stream of the Missouriit was
given upand a canoe of cottonwoodabout twenty feet long
fabricated by the Blackfeetwas purchased to supply its place.
In this Wyeth hoisted his sailand bidding adieu to the
hospitable superintendent of Fort Unionturned his prow to the
eastand set off down the Missouri.

He had not proceeded many hoursbeforein the eveninghe came
to a large keel boat at anchor. It proved to be the boat of
Captain William Sublettefreighted with munitions for carrying
on a powerful opposition to the American Fur Company. The
voyagers went on boardwhere they were treated with the hearty
hospitality of the wildernessand passed a social evening
talking over past scenes and adventuresand especially the
memorable fight at Pierre's Hole.

Here Milton Sublette determined to give up further voyaging in
the canoeand remain with his brother; accordinglyin the
morningthe fellow-voyagers took kind leave of each other. and
Wyeth continued on his course. There was now no one on board of
his boat that had ever voyaged on the Missouri; it washowever
all plain sailing down the streamwithout any chance of missing
the way.

All day the voyagers pulled gently alongand landed in the
evening and supped; then re-embarkingthey suffered the canoe to
float down with the current; taking turns to watch and sleep. The
night was calm and serene; the elk kept up a continual whinnying
or squealingbeing the commencement of the season when they are
in heat. In the midst of the night the canoe struck on a
sand-barand all hands were roused by the rush and roar of the
wild waterswhich broke around her. They were all obliged to
jump overboardand work hard to get her offwhich was
accomplished with much difficulty.

In the course of the following day they saw three grizzly bears
at different times along the bank. The last one was on a point of
landand was evidently making for the riverto swim across. The
two half-breed hunters were now eager to repeat the manoeuvre of
the noose; promising to entrap Bruinand have rare sport in
strangling and drowning him. Their only fear wasthat he might
take fright and return to land before they could get between him
and the shore. Holding backthereforeuntil he was fairly
committed in the centre of the streamthey then pulled forward
with might and mainso as to cut off his retreatand take him
in the rear. One of the worthies stationed himself in the bow
with the cord and slip-noosethe otherwith the Nez Perce
managed the paddles. There was nothing further from the thoughts
of honest Bruinhoweverthan to beat a retreat. Just as the
canoe was drawing nearhe turned suddenly round and made for it
with a horrible snarl and a tremendous show of teeth. The
affrighted hunter called to his comrades to paddle off. Scarce
had they turned the boat when the bear laid his enormous claws on
the gunwaleand attempted to get on board. The canoe was nearly
overturnedand a deluge of water came pouring over the gunwale.
All was clamorterrorand confusion. Every one bawled out



the bear roared and snarled - one caught up a gun; but water had
rendered it useless. Others handled their paddles more
effectuallyand beating old Bruin about the head and claws
obliged him to relinquish his hold. They now plied their paddles
with might and mainthe bear made the best of his way to shore
and so ended the second exploit of the noose; the hunters
determined to have no more naval contests with grizzly bears.

The voyagers were now out of range of Crows and Black-feet; but
they were approaching the country of the Reesor Arickaras; a
tribe no less dangerous; and who weregenerallyhostile to
small parties.

In passing through their countryWyeth laid by all dayand
drifted quietly down the river at night. In this way he passed
onuntil he supposed himself safely through the region of
danger; when he resumed his voyage in the open day. On the 3d of
September he had landedat middayto dine; and while some were
making a fireone of the hunters mounted a high bank to look out
for game. He had scarce glanced his eye roundwhen he perceived
horses grazing on the opposite side of the river. Crouching down
he slunk back to the campand reported what he had seen. On
further reconnoiteringthe voyagers counted twenty-one lodges;
and from the number of horsescomputed that there must be nearly
a hundred Indians encamped there. They now drew their boatwith
all speed and cautioninto a thicket of water willowsand
remained closely concealed all day. As soon as the night closed
in they re-embarked. The moon would rise early; so that they had
but about two hours of darkness to get past the camp. The night
howeverwas cloudywith a blustering wind. Silentlyand with
muffled oarsthey glided down the riverkeeping close under the
shore opposite to the camp; watching its various lodges and
firesand the dark forms passing to and fro between them.
Suddenlyon turning a point of landthey found themselves close
upon a camp on their own side of the river. It appeared that not
more than one half of the band had crossed. They were within a
few yards of the shore; they saw distinctly the savages -- some
standingsome lying round the fire. Horses were grazing around.
Some lodges were set upothers had been sent across the river.
The red glare of the fires upon these wild groups and harsh
facescontrasted with the surrounding darknesshad a startling
effectas the voyagers suddenly came upon the scene. The dogs
of the camp perceived themand barked; but the Indians.
fortunatelytook no heed of their clamor. Wyeth instantly
sheered his boat out into the stream; whenunluckily it struck
upon a sand-barand stuck fast. It was a perilous and trying
situation; for he was fixed between the two campsand within
rifle range of both. All hands jumped out into the waterand
tried to get the boat off; but as no one dared to give the word
they could not pull togetherand their labor was in vain. In
this way they labored for a long time; until Wyeth thought of
giving a signal for a general heaveby lifting his hat. The
expedient succeeded. They launched their canoe again into deep
waterand getting inhad the delight of seeing the camp fires
of the savages soon fading in the distance.

They continued under way the greater part of the nightuntil far
beyond all danger from this bandwhen they pulled to shoreand
encamped.

The following day was windyand they came near upsetting their
boat in carrying sail. Toward eveningthe wind subsided and a
beautiful calm night succeeded. They floated along with the
current throughout the nighttaking turns to watch and steer.


The deep stillness of the night was occasionally interrupted by
the neighing of the elkthe hoarse lowing of the buffalothe
hooting of large owlsand the screeching of the small onesnow
and then the splash of a beaveror the gonglike sound of the
swan.

Part of their voyage was extremely tempestuous; with high winds
tremendous thunderand soaking rain; and they were repeatedly in
extreme danger from drift-wood and sunken trees. On one occasion
having continued to float at nightafter the moon was downthey
ran under a great snagor sunken treewith dry branches above
the water. These caught the mastwhile the boat swung round
broadside to the streamand began to fill with water. Nothing
saved her from total wreckbut cutting away the mast. She then
drove down the streambut left one of the unlucky half-breeds
clinging to the snaglike a monkey to a pole. It was necessary
to run in shoretoil uplaboriouslyalong the eddies and to
attain some distance above the snagwhen they launched forth
again into the stream and floated down with it to his rescue.

We forbear to detail all the circumstances and adventures of
upward of a months voyagedown the windings and doublings of
this vast river; in the course of which they stopped occasionally
at a post of one of the rival fur companiesor at a government
agency for an Indian tribe. Neither shall we dwell upon the
changes of climate and productionsas the voyagers swept down
from north to southacross several degrees of latitude; arriving
at the regions of oaks and sycamores; of mulberry and basswood
trees; of paroquets and wild turkeys. This is one of the
characteristics of the middle and lower part of the Missouri; but
still more so of the Mississippiwhose rapid current traverses a
succession of latitudes so as in a few days to float the voyager
almost from the frozen regions to the tropics.

The voyage of Wyeth shows the regular and unobstructed flow of
the riverson the east side of the Rocky Mountainsin contrast
to those of the western side; where rocks and rapids continually
menace and obstruct the voyager. We find him in a frail bark of
skinslaunching himself in a stream at the foot of the Rocky
Mountainsand floating down from river to riveras they empty
themselves into each other; and so he might have kept on upward
of two thousand milesuntil his little bark should drift into
the ocean. At present we shall stop with him at Cantonment
Leavenworththe frontier post of the United States; where he
arrived on the 27th of September.

Here his first care was to have his Nez Perce Indianand his
half-breed boyBaptistevaccinated. As they approached the
fortthey were hailed by the sentinel. The sight of a soldier in
full arraywith what appeared to be a long knife glittering on
the end of a musketstruck Baptiste with such affright that he
took to his heelsbawling for mercy at the top of his voice. The
Nez Perce would have followed himhad not Wyeth assured him of
his safety. When they underwent the operation of the lancetthe
doctor's wife and another lady were present; both beautiful
women. They were the first white women that they had seenand
they could not keep their eyes off of them. On returning to the
boatthey recounted to their companions all that they had
observed at the fort; but were especially eloquent about the
white squawswhothey saidwere white as snowand more
beautiful than any human being they had ever beheld.

We shall not accompany the captain any further in his Voyage; but
will simply state that he made his way to Bostonwhere he


succeeded in organizing an association under the name of "The
Columbia River Fishing and Trading Company for his original
objects of a salmon fishery and a trade in furs. A brig, the May
Dacres, had been dispatched for the Columbia with supplies; and
he was now on his way to the same point, at the head of sixty
men, whom he had enlisted at St. Louis; some of whom were
experienced hunters, and all more habituated to the life of the
wilderness than his first band of down-easters."

We will now return to Captain Bonneville and his partywhom we
leftmaking up their packs and saddling their horsesin Bear
River Valley.

42.
Departure of Captain Bonneville for the Columbia Advance of

Wyeth Efforts to keep the lead Hudson's Bay party A

junketing A delectable beverage Honey and alcohol High
carousing The Canadian "bon vivant" A cache A rapid move
Wyeth and his plans His travelling companions Buffalo hunting

More conviviality An interruption.

IT was the 3d of July that Captain Bonneville set out on his
second visit to the banks of the Columbiaat the head of
twenty-three men. He travelled leisurelyto keep his horses
freshuntil on the 10th of July a scout brought word that Wyeth
with his bandwas but fifty miles in the rearand pushing
forward with all speed. This caused some bustle in the camp; for
it was important to get first to the buffalo ground to secure
provisions for the journey. As the horses were too heavily laden
to travel fasta cache was diggedas promptly as possibleto
receive all superfluous baggage. Just as it was finisheda
spring burst out of the earth at the bottom. Another cache was
therefore diggedabout two miles further on; whenas they were
about to bury the effectsa line of horsemen with pack-horses
were seen streaking over the plainand encamped close by.

It proved to be a small band in the service of the Hudson's Bay
Companyunder the command of a veteran Canadian; one of those
petty leaderswhowith a small party of menand a small supply
of goodsare employed to follow up a band of Indians from one
hunting ground to anotherand buy up their peltries.

Having received numerous civilities from the Hudson's Bay
Companythe captain sent an invitation to the officers of the
party to an evening regale; and set to work to make jovial
preparations. As the night air in these elevated regions is apt
to be colda blazing fire was soon madethat would have done
credit to a Christmas dinnerinstead of a midsummer banquet. The
parties met in high good-fellowship. There was abundance of such
hunters' fare as the neighborhood furnished; and it was all
discussed with mountain appetites. They talked over all the
events of their late campaigns; but the Canadian veteran had been
unlucky in some of his transactions; and his brow began to grow
cloudy. Captain Bonneville remarked his rising spleenand
regretted that he had no juice of the grape to keep it down.

A man's withoweveris quick and inventive in the wilderness; a
thought suggested itself to the captainhow he might brew a
delectable beverage. Among his stores was a keg of honey but
half exhausted. This he filled up with alcoholand stirred the
fiery and mellifluous ingredients together. The glorious results


may readily be imagined; a happy compound of strength and
sweetnessenough to soothe the most ruffled temper and unsettle
the most solid understanding.

The beverage worked to a charm; the can circulated merrily; the
first deep draught washed out every care from the mind of the
veteran; the second elevated his spirit to the clouds. He was
in facta boon companion; as all veteran Canadian traders are
apt to be. He now became glorious; talked over all his exploits
his huntingshis fightings with Indian braveshis loves with
Indian beauties; sang snatches of old French dittiesand
Canadian boat songs; drank deeper and deepersang louder and
louder; untilhaving reached a climax of drunken gayetyhe
gradually declinedand at length fell fast asleep upon the
ground. After a long nap he again raised his headimbibed
another potation of the "sweet and strong flashed up with
another slight blaze of French gayety, and again fell asleep.

The morning found him still upon the field of action, but in sad
and sorrowful condition; suffering the penalties of past
pleasures, and calling to mind the captain's dulcet compound,
with many a retch and spasm. It seemed as if the honey and
alcohol, which had passed so glibly and smoothly over his tongue,
were at war within his stomach; and that he had a swarm of bees
within his head. In short, so helpless and woebegone was his
plight, that his party proceeded on their march without him; the
captain promised to bring him on in safety in the after part of
the day.

As soon as this party had moved off, Captain Bonneville's men
proceeded to construct and fill their cache; and just as it was
completed the party of Wyeth was descried at a distance. In a
moment all was activity to take the road. The horses were
prepared and mounted; and being lightened of a great part of
their burdens, were able to move with celerity. As to the worthy
convive of the preceding evening, he was carefully gathered up
from the hunter's couch on which he lay, repentant and supine,
and, being packed upon one of the horses, was hurried forward
with the convoy, groaning and ejaculating at every jolt.

In the course of the day, Wyeth, being lightly mounted, rode
ahead of his party, and overtook Captain Bonneville. Their
meeting was friendly and courteous; and they discussed, sociably,
their respective fortunes since they separated on the banks of
the Bighorn. Wyeth announced his intention of establishing a
small trading post at the mouth of the Portneuf, and leaving a
few men there, with a quantity of goods, to trade with the
neighboring Indians. He was compelled, in fact, to this measure,
in consequence of the refusal of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company
to take a supply of goods which he had brought out for them
according to contract; and which he had no other mode of
disposing of. He further informed Captain Bonneville that the
competition between the Rocky Mountain and American Fur Companies
which had led to such nefarious stratagems and deadly feuds, was
at an end; they having divided the country between them,
allotting boundaries within which each was to trade and hunt, so
as not to interfere with the other.

In company with Wyeth were travelling two men of science; Mr.
Nuttall, the botanist; the same who ascended the Missouri at the
time of the expedition to Astoria; and Mr. Townshend, an
ornithologist; from these gentlemen we may look forward to
important information concerning these interesting regions. There
were three religious missionaries, also, bound to the shores of


the Columbia, to spread the light of the Gospel in that far
wilderness.

After riding for some time together, in friendly conversation,
Wyeth returned to his party, and Captain Bonneville continued to
press forward, and to gain ground. At night he sent off the sadly
sober and moralizing chief of the Hudson's Bay Company, under a
proper escort, to rejoin his people; his route branching off in a
different direction. The latter took a cordial leave of his host,
hoping, on some future occasion, to repay his hospitality in
kind.

In the morning the captain was early on the march; throwing
scouts out far ahead, to scour hill and dale, in search of
buffalo. He had confidently expected to find game in abundance,
on the head-waters of the Portneuf; but on reaching that region,
not a track was to be seen.

At length, one of the scouts, who had made a wide sweep away to
the head-waters of the Blackfoot River, discovered great herds
quietly grazing in the adjacent meadows. He set out on his
return, to report his discoveries; but night overtaking him, he
was kindly and hospitably entertained at the camp of Wyeth. As
soon as day dawned he hastened to his own camp with the welcome
intelligence; and about ten o'clock of the same morning, Captain
Bonneville's party were in the midst of the game.

The packs were scarcely off the backs of the mules, when the
runners, mounted on the fleetest horses, were full tilt after the
buffalo. Others of the men were busied erecting scaffolds, and
other contrivances, for jerking or drying meat; others were
lighting great fires for the same purpose; soon the hunters began
to make their appearance, bringing in the choicest morsels of
buffalo meat; these were placed upon the scaffolds, and the whole
camp presented a scene of singular hurry and activity. At
daylight the next morning, the runners again took the field, with
similar success; and, after an interval of repose made their
third and last chase, about twelve o'clock; for by this time,
Wyeth's party was in sight. The game being now driven into a
valley, at some distance, Wyeth was obliged to fix his camp
there; but he came in the evening to pay Captain Bonneville a
visit. He was accompanied by Captain Stewart, the amateur
traveller; who had not yet sated his appetite for the adventurous
life of the wilderness. With him, also, was a Mr. M'Kay, a
half-breed; son of the unfortunate adventurer of the same name
who came out in the first maritime expedition to Astoria and was
blown up in the Tonquin. His son had grown up in the employ of
the British fur companies; and was a prime hunter, and a daring
partisan. He held, moreover, a farm in the valley of the
Wallamut.

The three visitors, when they reached Captain Bonneville's camp,
were surprised to find no one in it but himself and three men;
his party being dispersed in all directions, to make the most of
their present chance for hunting. They remonstrated with him on
the imprudence of remaining with so trifling a guard in a region
so full of danger. Captain Bonneville vindicated the policy of
his conduct. He never hesitated to send out all his hunters,
when any important object was to be attained; and experience had
taught him that he was most secure when his forces were thus
distributed over the surrounding country. He then was sure that
no enemy could approach, from any direction, without being
discovered by his hunters; who have a quick eye for detecting the
slightest signs of the proximity of Indians; and who would


instantly convey intelligence to the camp.

The captain now set to work with his men, to prepare a suitable
entertainment for his guests. It was a time of plenty in the
camp; of prime hunters' dainties; of buffalo humps, and buffalo
tongues; and roasted ribs, and broiled marrow-bones: all these
were cooked in hunters' style; served up with a profusion known
only on a plentiful hunting ground, and discussed with an
appetite that would astonish the puny gourmands of the cities.
But above all, and to give a bacchanalian grace to this truly
masculine repast, the captain produced his mellifluous keg of
home-brewed nectar, which had been so potent over the senses of
the veteran of Hudson's Bay. Potations, pottle deep, again went
round; never did beverage excite greater glee, or meet with more
rapturous commendation. The parties were fast advancing to that
happy state which would have insured ample cause for the next
day's repentance; and the bees were already beginning to buzz
about their ears, when a messenger came spurring to the camp with
intelligence that Wyeth's people had got entangled in one of
those deep and frightful ravines, piled with immense fragments of
volcanic rock, which gash the whole country about the head-waters
of the Blackfoot River. The revel was instantly at an end; the
keg of sweet and potent home-brewed was deserted; and the guests
departed with all speed to aid in extricating their companions
from the volcanic ravine.

43.
A rapid march A cloud of dust Wild horsemen High Jinks"
Horseracing and rifle-shooting The game of hand The fishing
season Mode of fishing Table lands Salmon fishers The
captain's visit to an Indian lodge The Indian girl The pocket
mirror Supper Troubles of an evil conscience.

UP and away!is the first thought at daylight of the Indian
traderwhen a rival is at hand and distance is to be gained.
Early in the morningCaptain Bonneville ordered the half dried
meat to be packed upon the horsesand leaving Wyeth and his
party to hunt the scattered buffalopushed off rapidly to the
eastto regain the plain of the Portneuf. His march was rugged
and dangerous; through volcanic hillsbroken into cliffs and
precipices; and seamed with tremendous chasmswhere the rocks
rose like walls.

On the second dayhoweverhe encamped once more in the plain
and as it was still early some of the men strolled out to the
neighboring hills. In casting their eyes round the countrythey
perceived a great cloud of dust rising in the southand
evidently approaching. Hastening back to the campthey gave the
alarm. Preparations were instantly made to receive an enemy;
while some of the menthrowing themselves upon the "running
horses" kept for huntinggalloped off to reconnoitre. In a
little whilethey made signals from a distance that all was
friendly. By this time the cloud of dust had swept on as if
hurried along by a blastand a band of wild horsemen came
dashing at full leap into the campyelling and whooping like so
many maniacs. Their dressestheir accoutrementstheir mode of
ridingand their uncouth clamormade them seem a party of
savages arrayed for war; but they proved to be principally
half-breedsand white men grown savage in the wildernesswho
were employed as trappers and hunters in the service of the
Hudson's Bay Company.


Here was again "high jinks" in the camp. Captain Bonneville's men
hailed these wild scamperers as congenial spiritsor rather as
the very game birds of their class. They entertained them with
the hospitality of mountaineersfeasting them at every fire. At
firstthere were mutual details of adventures and exploitsand
broad joking mingled with peals of laughter. Then came on
boasting of the comparative merits of horses and rifleswhich
soon engrossed every tongue. This naturally led to racingand
shooting at a mark; one trial of speed and skill succeeded
anothershouts and acclamations rose from the victorious
partiesfierce altercations succeededand a general melee was
about to take placewhen suddenly the attention of the
quarrellers was arrested by a strange kind of Indian chant or
chorusthat seemed to operate upon them as a charm. Their fury
was at an end; a tacit reconciliation succeeded and the ideas of
the whole mongrel crowd whiteshalf-breeds and squaws were
turned in a new direction. They all formed into groups and taking
their places at the several firesprepared for one of the most
exciting amusements of the Nez Perces and the other tribes of the
Far West.

The choral chantin factwhich had thus acted as a charmwas a
kind of wild accompaniment to the favorite Indian game of "Hand."
This is played by two parties drawn out in opposite platoons
before a blazing fire. It is in some respects like the old game
of passing the ring or the buttonand detecting the hand which
holds it. In the present gamethe object hiddenor the cache as
it is called by the trappersis a small splint of woodor other
diminutive article that may be concealed in the closed hand. This
is passed backward and forward among the party "in hand while
the party out of hand" guess where it is concealed. To heighten
the excitement and confuse the guessersa number of dry poles
are laid before each platoonupon which the members of the party
in handbeat furiously with short staveskeeping time to the
choral chant already mentionedwhich waxes fast and furious as
the game proceeds. As large bets are staked upon the gamethe
excitement is prodigious. Each party in turn bursts out in full
chorusbeatingand yellingand working themselves up into such
a heat that the perspiration rolls down their naked shoulders
even in the cold of a winter night. The bets are doubled and
trebled as the game advancesthe mental excitement increases
almost to madnessand all the worldly effects of the gamblers
are often hazarded upon the position of a straw.

These gambling games were kept up throughout the night; every
fire glared upon a group that looked like a crew of maniacs at
their frantic orgiesand the scene would have been kept up
throughout the succeeding dayhad not Captain Bonneville
interposed his authorityandat the usual hourissued his
marching orders.

Proceeding down the course of Snake Riverthe hunters regularly
returned to camp in the evening laden with wild geesewhich were
yet scarcely able to flyand were easily caught in great
numbers. It was now the season of the annual fish-feastwith
which the Indians in these parts celebrate the first appearance
of the salmon in this river. These fish are taken in great
numbers at the numerous falls of about four feet pitch. The
Indians flank the shallow water just belowand spear them as
they attempt to pass. In wide parts of the riveralsothey
place a sort of chevaux-de-frizeor fenceof poles interwoven
with withesand forming an angle in the middle of the current
where a small opening is left for the salmon to pass. Around this


opening the Indians station themselves on small raftsand ply
their spears with great success.

The table lands so common in this region have a sandy soil
inconsiderable in depthand covered with sageor more properly
speakingwormwood. Below this is a level stratum of rockriven
occasionally by frightful chasms. The whole plain rises as it
approaches the riverand terminates with high and broken cliffs
difficult to passand in many places so precipitous that it is
impossiblefor days togetherto get down to the water's edge
to give drink to the horses. This obliges the traveller
occasionally to abandon the vicinity of the riverand make a
wide sweep into the interior.

It was now far in the month of Julyand the party suffered
extremely from sultry weather and dusty travelling. The flies and
gnatstoowere extremely troublesome to the horses; especially
when keeping along the edge of the river where it runs between
low sand-banks. Whenever the travellers encamped in the
afternoonthe horses retired to the gravelly shores and remained
therewithout attempting to feed until the cool of the evening.
As to the travellersthey plunged into the clear and cool
currentto wash away the dust of the road and refresh themselves
after the heat of the day. The nights were always cool and
pleasant.

At one place where they encamped for some timethe river was
nearly five hundred yards wideand studded with grassy islands
adorned with groves of willow and cotton-wood. Here the Indians
were assembled in great numbersand had barricaded the channels
between the islandsto enable them to spear the salmon with
greater facility. They were a timid raceand seemed unaccustomed
to the sight of white men. Entering one of the hutsCaptain
Bonneville found the inhabitants just proceeding to cook a fine
salmon. It is put into a pot filled with cold waterand hung
over the fire. The moment the water begins to boilthe fish is
considered cooked.

Taking his seat unceremoniouslyand lighting his pipethe
captain awaited the cooking of the fishintending to invite
himself to the repast. The owner of the hut seemed to take his
intrusion in good part. While conversing with him the captain
felt something move behind himand turning round and removing a
few skins and old buffalo robesdiscovered a young girlabout
fourteen years of agecrouched beneathwho directed her large
black eyes full in his faceand continued to gaze in mute
surprise and terror. The captain endeavored to dispel her fears
and drawing a bright ribbon from his pocketattempted repeatedly
to tie it round her neck. She jerked back at each attempt
uttering a sound very much like a snarl; nor could all the
blandishments of the captainalbeit a pleasantgood-looking
and somewhat gallant mansucceed in conquering the shyness of
the savage little beauty. His attentions were now turned toward
the parentswhom he presented with an awl and a little tobacco
and having thus secured their good-willcontinued to smoke his
pipeand watch the salmon. While thus seated near the threshold
an urchin of the family approached the doorbut catching a sight
of the strange guestran off screaming with terror and ensconced
himself behind the long straw at the back of the hut.

Desirous to dispel entirely this timidityand to open a trade
with the simple inhabitants of the hutwhohe did not doubt
had furs somewhere concealedthe captain now drew forth that
grand lure in the eyes of a savagea pocket mirror. The sight of


it was irresistible. After examining it for a long time with
wonder and admirationthey produced a musk-rat skinand offered
it in exchange. The captain shook his head; but purchased the
skin for a couple of buttons - superfluous trinkets! as the
worthy lord of the hovel had neither coat nor breeches on which
to place them.

The mirror still continued the great object of desire
particularly in the eyes of the old housewifewho produced a pot
of parched flour and a string of biscuit roots. These procured
her some trifle in return; but could not command the purchase of
the mirror. The salmon being now completely cookedthey all
joined heartily in supper. A bounteous portion was deposited
before the captain by the old womanupon some fresh grasswhich
served instead of a platter; and never had he tasted a salmon
boiled so completely to his fancy.

Supper being overthe captain lighted his pipe and passed it to
his hostwhoinhaling the smokepuffed it through his nostrils
so assiduouslythat in a little while his head manifested signs
of confusion and dizziness. Being satisfiedby this timeof
the kindly and companionable qualities of the captainhe became
easy and communicative; and at length hinted something about
exchanging beaver skins for horses. The captain at once offered
to dispose of his steedwhich stood fastened at the door. The
bargain was soon concludedwhereupon the Indianremoving a pile
of bushes under which his valuables were concealeddrew forth
the number of skins agreed upon as the price.

Shortly afterwardsome of the captain's people coming uphe
ordered another horse to be saddledandmounting ittook his
departure from the hutafter distributing a few trifling
presents among its simple inhabitants. During all the time of his
visitthe little Indian girl had kept her large black eyes fixed
upon himalmost without winkingwatching every movement with
awe and wonder; and as he rode offremained gazing after him
motionless as a statue. Her fatherhoweverdelighted with his
new acquaintancemounted his newly purchased horseand followed
in the train of the captainto whom he continued to be a
faithful and useful adherent during his sojourn in the
neighborhood.

The cowardly effects of an evil conscience were evidenced in the
conduct of one of the captain's menwho had been in the
California expedition. During all their intercourse with the
harmless people of this placehe had manifested uneasiness and
anxiety. While his companions mingled freely and joyously with
the nativeshe went about with a restlesssuspicious look;
scrutinizing every painted form and face and starting often at
the sudden approach of some meek and inoffensive savagewho
regarded him with reverence as a superior being. Yet this was
ordinarily a bold fellowwho never flinched from dangernor
turned pale at the prospect of a battle. At length he requested
permission of Captain Bonneville to keep out of the way of these
people entirely. Their striking resemblancehe saidto the
people of Ogden's Rivermade him continually fear that some
among them might have seen him in that expedition; and might seek
an opportunity of revenge. Ever after thiswhile they remained
in this neighborhoodhe would skulk out of the way and keep
aloof when any of the native inhabitants approached. "Such
observed Captain Bonneville, is the effect of self-reproach
even upon the roving trapper in the wildernesswho has little
else to fear than the stings of his own guilty conscience."


44.
Outfit of a trapper Risks to which he is subjected
Partnership of trappers Enmity of Indians Distant smoke A
country on fire Gun Greek Grand Rond Fine pastures
Perplexities in a smoky country Conflagration of forests.

IT had been the intention of Captain Bonnevillein descending
along Snake Riverto scatter his trappers upon the smaller
streams. In this way a range of country is trapped by small
detachments from a main body. The outfit of a trapper is
generally a riflea pound of powderand four pounds of lead
with a bullet mouldseven trapsan axea hatcheta knife and
awla camp kettletwo blanketsandwhere supplies are plenty
seven pounds of flour. He hasgenerallytwo or three horsesto
carry himself and his baggage and peltries. Two trappers
commonly go togetherfor the purposes of mutual assistance and
support; a larger party could not easily escape the eyes of the
Indians. It is a service of periland even more so at present
than formerlyfor the Indianssince they have got into the
habit of trafficking peltries with the tradershave learned the
value of the beaverand look upon the trappers as poacherswho
are filching the riches from their streamsand interfering with
their market. They make no hesitationthereforeto murder the
solitary trapperand thus destroy a competitorwhile they
possess themselves of his spoils. It is with regret we addtoo
that this hostility has in many cases been instigated by traders
desirous of injuring their rivalsbut who have themselves often
reaped the fruits of the mischief they have sown.

When two trappers undertake any considerable streamtheir mode
of proceeding isto hide their horses in some lonely glenwhere
they can graze unobserved. They then build a small hutdig out
a canoe from a cotton-wood treeand in this poke along shore
silentlyin the eveningand set their traps. These they revisit
in the same silent way at daybreak. When they take any beaver
they bring it homeskin itstretch the skins on sticks to dry
and feast upon the flesh. The bodyhung up before the fire
turns by its own weightand is roasted in a superior style; the
tail is the trapper s tidbit; it is cut offput on the end of a
stickand toastedand is considered even a greater dainty than
the tongue or the marrow-bone of a buffalo.

With all their silence and cautionhoweverthe poor trappers
cannot always escape their hawk-eyed enemies. Their trail has
been discoveredperhapsand followed up for many a mile; or
their smoke has been seen curling up out of the secret glenor
has been scented by the savageswhose sense of smell is almost
as acute as that of sight. Sometimes they are pounced upon when
in the act of setting their traps; at other timesthey are
roused from their sleep by the horrid war-whoop; orperhaps
have a bullet or an arrow whistling about their earsin the
midst of one of their beaver banquets. In this way they are
picked offfrom time to timeand nothing is known of them
untilperchancetheir bones are found bleaching in some lonely
ravineor on the banks of some nameless streamwhich from that
time is called after them. Many of the small streams beyond the
mountains thus perpetuate the names of unfortunate trappers that
have been murdered on their banks.

A knowledge of these dangers deterred Captain Bonnevillein the
present instancefrom detaching small parties of trappers as he


had intended; for his scouts brought him word that formidable
bands of the Banneck Indians were lying on the Boisee and Payette
Riversat no great distanceso that they would be apt to detect
and cut off any stragglers. It behooved himalsoto keep his
party togetherto guard against any predatory attack upon the
main body; he continued on his waythereforewithout dividing
his forces. And fortunate it was that he did so; for in a little
while he encountered one of the phenomena of the western wilds
that would effectually have prevented his scattered people from
finding each other again. In a wordit was the season of setting
fire to the prairies. As he advanced he began to perceive great
clouds of smoke at a distancerising by degreesand spreading
over the whole face of the country. The atmosphere became dry and
surcharged with murky vaporparching to the skinand irritating
to the eyes. When travelling among the hillsthey could
scarcely discern objects at the distance of a few paces; indeed
the least exertion of the vision was painful. There was evidently
some vast conflagration in the direction toward which they were
proceeding; it was as yet at a great distanceand during the day
they could only see the smoke rising in larger and denser
volumesand rolling forth in an immense canopy. At night the
skies were all glowing with the reflection of unseen fires
hanging in an immense body of lurid light high above the horizon.

Having reached Gun Creekan important stream coming from the
leftCaptain Bonneville turned up its courseto traverse the
mountain and avoid the great bend of Snake River. Being now out
of the range of the Banneckshe sent out his people in all
directions to hunt the antelope for present supplies; keeping the
dried meats for places where game might be scarce.

During four days that the party were ascending Gun Creekthe
smoke continued to increase so rapidly that it was impossible to
distinguish the face of the country and ascertain landmarks.
Fortunatelythe travellers fell upon an Indian trail. which led
them to the head-waters of the Fourche de Glace or Ice River
sometimes called the Grand Rond. Here they found all the plains
and valleys wrapped in one vast conflagration; which swept over
the long grass in billows of flameshot up every bush and tree
rose in great columns from the grovesand set up clouds of smoke
that darkened the atmosphere. To avoid this sea of firethe
travellers had to pursue their course close along the foot of the
mountains; but the irritation from the smoke continued to be
tormenting.

The country about the head-waters of the Grand Rond spreads out
into broad and level prairiesextremely fertileand watered by
mountain springs and rivulets. These prairies are resorted to by
small bands of the Skynsesto pasture their horsesas well as
to banquets upon the salmon which abound in the neighboring
waters. They take these fish in great quantities and without the
least difficulty; simply taking them out of the water with their
handsas they flounder and struggle in the numerous long shoals
of the principal streams. At the time the travellers passed over
these prairiessome of the narrowdeep streams by which they
were intersected were completely choked with salmonwhich they
took in great numbers. The wolves and bears frequent these
streams at this seasonto avail themselves of these great
fisheries.

The travellers continuedfor many daysto experience great
difficulties and discomforts from this wide conflagrationwhich
seemed to embrace the whole wilderness. The sun was for a great
part of the time obscured by the smokeand the loftiest


mountains were hidden from view. Blundering along in this region
of mist and uncertaintythey were frequently obliged to make
long circuitsto avoid obstacles which they could not perceive
until close upon them. The Indian trails were their safest
guidesfor though they sometimes appeared to lead them out of
their direct coursethey always conducted them to the passes.

On the 26th of Augustthey reached the head of the Way-lee-way
River. Herein a valley of the mountains through which this
head-water makes its waythey found a band of the Skynseswho
were extremely sociableand appeared to be well disposedand as
they spoke the Nez Perce languagean intercourse was easily kept
up with them.

In the pastures on the bank of this streamCaptain Bonneville
encamped for a timefor the purpose of recruiting the strength
of his horses. Scouts were now sent out to explore the
surrounding countryand search for a convenient pass through the
mountains toward the Wallamut or Multnomah. After an absence of
twenty days they returned weary and discouraged. They had been
harassed and perplexed in rugged mountain defileswhere their
progress was continually impeded by rocks and precipices. Often
they had been obliged to travel along the edges of frightful
ravineswhere a false step would have been fatal. In one of
these passesa horse fell from the brink of a precipiceand
would have been dashed to pieces had he not lodged among the
branches of a treefrom which he was extricated with great
difficulty. Thesehoweverwere not the worst of their
difficulties and perils. The great conflagration of the country
which had harassed the main party in its marchwas still more
awful the further this exploring party proceeded. The flames
which swept rapidly over the light vegetation of the prairies
assumed a fiercer character and took a stronger hold amid the
wooded glens and ravines of the mountains. Some of the deep
gorges and defiles sent up sheets of flameand clouds of lurid
smokeand sparks and cinders that in the night made them
resemble the craters of volcanoes. The groves and foreststoo
which crowned the cliffsshot up their towering columns of fire
and added to the furnace glow of the mountains. With these
stupendous sights were combined the rushing blasts caused by the
rarefied airwhich roared and howled through the narrow glens
and whirled forth the smoke and flames in impetuous wreaths. Ever
and anontoowas heard the crash of falling treessometimes
tumbling from crags and precipiceswith tremendous sounds.

In the daytimethe mountains were wrapped in smoke so dense and
blindingthat the explorersif by chance they separatedcould
only find each other by shouting. Oftentoothey had to grope
their way through the yet burning forestsin constant peril from
the limbs and trunks of treeswhich frequently fell across their
path. At length they gave up the attempt to find a pass as
hopelessunder actual circumstancesand made their way back to
the camp to report their failure.

45.
The Skynses Their traffic Hunting Food Horses A horse


race Devotional feeling of the SkynsesNez Perces and

Flatheads Prayers Exhortations A preacher on horseback

Effect of religion on the manners of the tribes A new light.

DURING the absence of this detachmenta sociable intercourse had


been kept up between the main party and the Skynseswho had
removed into the neighborhood of the camp. These people dwell
about the waters of the Way-lee-way and the adjacent countryand
trade regularly with the Hudson's Bay Company; generally giving
horses in exchange for the articles of which they stand in need.
They bring beaver skinsalsoto the trading posts; not procured
by trappingbut by a course of internal traffic with the shy and
ignorant Shoshokoes and Too-el-icanswho keep in distant and
unfrequented parts of the countryand will not venture near the
trading houses. The Skynses hunt the deer and elk occasionally;
and dependfor a part of the yearon fishing. Their main
subsistencehoweveris upon rootsespecially the kamash. This
bulbous root is said to be of a delicious flavorand highly
nutritious. The women dig it up in great quantitiessteam it
and deposit it in caches for winter provisions. It grows
spontaneouslyand absolutely covers the plains.

This tribe was comfortably clad and equipped. They had a few
rifles among themand were extremely desirous of bartering for
those of Captain Bonneville's men; offering a couple of good
running horses for a light rifle. Their first-rate horses
howeverwere not to be procured from them on any terms. They
almost invariably use ponies; but of a breed infinitely superior
to any in the United States. They are fond of trying their speed
and bottomand of betting upon them.

As Captain Bonneville was desirous of judging of the comparative
merit of their horseshe purchased one of their racersand had
a trial of speed between thatan Americanand a Shoshonie
which were supposed to be well matched. The race-course was for
the distance of one mile and a half out and back. For the first
half mile the American took the lead by a few hands; butlosing
his windsoon fell far behind; leaving the Shoshonie and Skynse
to contend together. For a mile and a half they went head and
head: but at the turn the Skynse took the lead and won the race
with great easescarce drawing a quick breath when all was over.

The Skynseslike the Nez Perces and the Flatheadshave a strong
devotional feelingwhich has been successfully cultivated by
some of the resident personages of the Hudson's Bay Company.
Sunday is invariably kept sacred among these tribes. They will
not raise their camp on that dayunless in extreme cases of
danger or hunger: neither will they huntnor fishnor trade
nor perform any kind of labor on that day. A part of it is passed
in prayer and religious ceremonies. Some chiefwho is generally
at the same time what is called a "medicine man assembles the
community. After invoking blessings from the Deity, he addresses
the assemblage, exhorting them to good conduct; to be diligent in
providing for their families; to abstain from lying and stealing;
to avoid quarrelling or cheating in their play, and to be just
and hospitable to all strangers who may be among them. Prayers
and exhortations are also made, early in the morning, on week
days. Sometimes, all this is done by the chief from horseback;
moving slowly about the camp, with his hat on, and uttering his
exhortations with a loud voice. On all occasions, the bystanders
listen with profound attention; and at the end of every sentence
respond one word in unison, apparently equivalent to an amen.
While these prayers and exhortations are going on, every
employment in the camp is suspended. If an Indian is riding by
the place, he dismounts, holds his horse, and attends with
reverence until all is done. When the chief has finished his
prayer or exhortation, he says, I have done upon which there
is a general exclamation in unison.
With these religious services, probably derived from the white


men, the tribes above-mentioned mingle some of their old Indian
ceremonials, such as dancing to the cadence of a song or ballad,
which is generally done in a large lodge provided for the
purpose. Besides Sundays, they likewise observe the cardinal
holidays of the Roman Catholic Church.

Whoever has introduced these simple forms of religions among
these poor savages, has evidently understood their characters and
capacities, and effected a great melioration of their manners. Of
this we speak not merely from the testimony of Captain
Bonneville, but likewise from that of Mr. Wyeth, who passed some
months in a travelling camp of the Flatheads. During the time I
have been with them says he, I have never known an instance of
theft among them: the least thingeven to a bead or pinis
brought to youif found; and oftenthings that have been thrown
away. Neither have I known any quarrellingnor lying. This
absence of all quarrelling the more surprised mewhen I came to
see the various occasions that would have given rise to it among
the whites: the crowding together of from twelve to eighteen
hundred horseswhich have to be driven into camp at nightto be
picketedto be packed in the morning; the gathering of fuel in
places where it is extremely scanty. All thishoweveris done
without confusion or disturbance.

They have a mild, playful, laughing disposition; and this is
portrayed in their countenances. They are polite, and
unobtrusive. When one speaks, the rest pay strict attention:
when he is done, another assents by 'yes,' or dissents by 'no;'
and then states his reasons, which are listened to with equal
attention. Even the children are more peaceable than any other
children. I never heard an angry word among them, nor any
quarrelling; although there were, at least, five hundred of them
together, and continually at play. With all this quietness of
spirit, they are brave when put to the test; and are an overmatch
for an equal number of Blackfeet.

The foregoing observationsthough gathered from Mr. Wyeth as
relative to the Flatheadsapplyin the mainto the Skynses
also. Captain Bonnevilleduring his sojourn with the latter
took constant occasionin conversing with their principal men
to encourage them in the cultivation of moral and religious
habits; drawing a comparison between their peaceable and
comfortable course of life and that of other tribesand
attributing it to their superior sense of morality and religion.
He frequently attended their religious serviceswith his people;
always enjoining on the latter the most reverential deportment;
and he observed that the poor Indians were always pleased to have
the white men present.

The disposition of these tribes is evidently favorable to a
considerable degree of civilization. A few farmers settled among
them might lead themCaptain Bonneville thinksto till the
earth and cultivate grain; the country of the Skynses and Nez
Perces is admirably adapted for the raising of cattle. A
Christian missionary or twoand some trifling assistance from
governmentto protect them from the predatory and warlike
tribesmight lay the foundation of a Christian people in the
midst of the great western wildernesswho would "wear the
Americans near their hearts."

We must not omit to observehoweverin qualification of the
sanctity of this Sabbath in the wildernessthat these tribes who
are all ardently addicted to gambling and horseracingmake
Sunday a peculiar day for recreations of the kindnot deeming


them in any wise out of season. After prayers and pious
ceremonies are overthere is scarce an hour in the daysays
Captain Bonnevillethat you do not see several horses racing at
full speed; and in every corner of the camp are groups of
gamblersready to stake everything upon the all-absorbing game
of hand. The Indianssays Wyethappear to enjoy their
amusements with more zest than the whites. They are great
gamblers; and in proportion to their meansplay bolder and bet
higher than white men.

The cultivation of the religious feelingabove notedamong the
savageshas been at times a convenient policy with some of the
more knowing traders; who have derived great credit and influence
among them by being considered "medicine men;" that ismen
gifted with mysterious knowledge. This feeling is also at times
played upon by religious charlatanswho are to be found in
savage as well as civilized life. One of these was noted by
Wyethduring his sojourn among the Flat-heads. A new great man
says heis rising in the campwho aims at power and sway. He
covers his designs under the ample cloak of religion; inculcating
some new doctrines and ceremonials among those who are more
simple than himself. He has already made proselytes of one-fifth
of the camp; beginning by working on the womenthe childrenand
the weak-minded. His followers are all dancing on the plainto
their own vocal music. The more knowing ones of the tribe look on
and laugh; thinking it all too foolish to do harm; but they will
soon find that womenchildrenand foolsform a large majority
of every communityand they will haveeventuallyto follow the
new lightor be considered among the profane. As soon as a
preacher or pseudo prophet of the kind gets followers enoughhe
either takes command of the tribeor branches off and sets up an
independent chief and "medicine man."

46.
Scarcity in the camp Refusal of supplies by the Hudson's Bay
Company Conduct of the Indians A hungry retreat John Day's
River The Blue Mountains Salmon fishing on Snake River
Messengers from the Crow country Bear River Valley immense
migration of buffalo Danger of buffalo hunting A wounded
Indian Eutaw Indians A "surround" of antelopes.

PROVISIONS were now growing scanty in the campand Captain
Bonneville found it necessary to seek a new neighborhood. Taking
leavethereforeof his friendsthe Skynseshe set off to the
westwardandcrossing a low range of mountainsencamped on the
head-waters of the Ottolais. Being now within thirty miles of
Fort Wallah-Wallahthe trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company
he sent a small detachment of men thither to purchase corn for
the subsistence of his party. The men were well received at the
fort; but all supplies for their camp were peremptorily refused.
Tempting offers were made themhoweverif they would leave
their present employand enter into the service of the company;
but they were not to be seduced.

When Captain Bonneville saw his messengers return empty-handed
he ordered an instant movefor there was imminent danger of
famine. He pushed forward down the course of the Ottolaiswhich
runs diagonal to the Columbiaand falls into it about fifty
miles below the Wallah-Wallah. His route lay through a beautiful
undulating countrycovered with horses belonging to the Skynses
who sent them there for pasturage.


On reaching the ColumbiaCaptain Bonneville hoped to open a
trade with the nativesfor fish and other provisionsbut to his
surprise they kept aloofand even hid themselves on his
approach. He soon discovered that they were under the influence
of the Hudson's Bay Companywho had forbidden them to tradeor
hold any communion with him. He proceeded along the Columbia
but it was everywhere the same; not an article of provisions was
to be obtained from the nativesand he was at length obliged to
kill a couple of his horses to sustain his famishing people. He
now came to a haltand consulted what was to be done. The broad
and beautiful Columbia lay before themsmooth and unruffled as a
mirror; a little more journeying would take them to its lower
region; to the noble valley of the Wallamuttheir projected
winter quarters. To advance under present circumstances would be
to court starvation. The resources of the country were locked
against themby the influence of a jealous and powerful
monopoly. If they reached the Wallamutthey could scarcely hope
to obtain sufficient supplies for the winter; if they lingered
any longer in the country the snows would gather upon the
mountains and cut off their retreat. By hastening their return
they would be able to reach the Blue Mountains just in time to
find the elkthe deerand the bighorn; and after they had
supplied themselves with provisionsthey might push through the
mountains before they were entirely blocked by snow. Influenced
by these considerationsCaptain Bonneville reluctantly turned
his back a second time on the Columbiaand set off for the Blue
Mountains. He took his course up John Day's Riverso called from
one of the hunters in the original Astorian enterprise. As famine
was at his heelshe travelled fastand reached the mountains by
the 1st of October. He entered by the opening made by John Day's
River; it was a rugged and difficult defilebut he and his men
had become accustomed to hard scrambles of the kind. Fortunately
the September rains had extinguished the fires which recently
spread over these regions; and the mountainsno longer wrapped
in smokenow revealed all their grandeur and sublimity to the
eye.

They were disappointed in their expectation of finding abundant
game in the mountains; large bands of the natives had passed
throughreturning from their fishing expeditionsand had driven
all the game before them. It was only now and then that the
hunters could bring in sufficient to keep the party from
starvation.

To add to their distressthey mistook their routeand wandered
for ten days among high and bald hills of clay. At lengthafter
much perplexitythey made their way to the banks of Snake River
following the course of whichthey were sure to reach their
place of destination.

It was the 20th of October when they found themselves once more
upon this noted stream. The Shoshokoeswhom they had met with in
such scanty numbers on their journey down the rivernow
absolutely thronged its banks to profit by the abundance of
salmonand lay up a stock for winter provisions. Scaffolds were
everywhere erectedand immense quantities of fish drying upon
them. At this season of the yearhoweverthe salmon are
extremely poorand the travellers needed their keen sauce of
hunger to give them a relish.

In some places the shores were completely covered with a stratum
of dead salmonexhausted in ascending the riveror destroyed at
the falls; the fetid odor of which tainted the air.


It was not until the travellers reached the head-waters of the
Portneuf that they really found themselves in a region of
abundance. Here the buffaloes were in immense herds; and here
they remained for three daysslaying and cookingand feasting
and indemnifying themselves by an enormous carnivalfor a long
and hungry Lent. Their horsestoofound good pasturageand
enjoyed a little rest after a severe spell of hard travelling.

During this periodtwo horsemen arrived at the campwho proved
to be messengers sent express for supplies from Montero's party;
which had been sent to beat up the Crow country and the Black
Hillsand to winter on the Arkansas. They reported that all was
well with the partybut that they had not been able to
accomplish the whole of their missionand were still in the Crow
countrywhere they should remain until joined by Captain
Bonneville in the spring. The captain retained the messengers
with him until the 17th of Novemberwhenhaving reached the
caches on Bear Riverand procured thence the required supplies
he sent them back to their party; appointing a rendezvous toward
the last of June followingon the forks of Wind River Valleyin
the Crow country.

He now remained several days encamped near the cachesand having
discovered a small band of Shoshonies in his neighborhood
purchased from them lodgesfursand other articles of winter
comfortand arranged with them to encamp together during the
winter.

The place designed by the captain for the wintering ground was on
the upper part of Bear Riversome distance off. He delayed
approaching it as long as possiblein order to avoid driving off
the buffaloeswhich would be needed for winter provisions. He
accordingly moved forward but slowlymerely as the want of game
and grass obliged him to shift his position. The weather had
already become extremely coldand the snow lay to a considerable
depth. To enable the horses to carry as much dried meat as
possiblehe caused a cache to be madein which all the baggage
that could be spared was deposited. This donethe party
continued to move slowly toward their winter quarters.

They were not doomedhoweverto suffer from scarcity during the
present winter. The people upon Snake River having chased off
the buffaloes before the snow had become deepimmense herds now
came trooping over the mountains; forming dark masses on their
sidesfrom which their deep-mouthed bellowing sounded like the
low peals and mutterings from a gathering thunder-cloud. In
effectthe cloud brokeand down came the torrent thundering
into the valley. It is utterly impossibleaccording to Captain
Bonnevilleto convey an idea of the effect produced by the sight
of such countless throngs of animals of such bulk and spiritall
rushing forward as if swept on by a whirlwind.

The long privation which the travellers had suffered gave
uncommon ardor to their present hunting. One of the Indians
attached to the partyfinding himself on horseback in the midst
of the buffaloeswithout either rifleor bow and arrowsdashed
after a fine cow that was passing close by himand plunged his
knife into her side with such lucky aim as to bring her to the
ground. It was a daring deed; but hunger had made him almost
desperate.

The buffaloes are sometimes tenacious of lifeand must be
wounded in particular parts. A ball striking the shagged frontlet


of a bull produces no other effect than a toss of the head and
greater exasperation; on the contrarya ball striking the
forehead of a cow is fatal. Several instances occurred during
this great hunting boutof bulls fighting furiously after having
received mortal wounds. Wyethalsowas witness to an instance
of the kind while encamped with Indians. During a grand hunt of
the buffaloesone of the Indians pressed a bull so closely that
the animal turned suddenly on him. His horse stopped shortor
started backand threw him. Before he could rise the bull rushed
furiously upon himand gored him in the chest so that his breath
came out at the aperture. He was conveyed back to the campand
his wound was dressed. Giving himself up for slainhe called
round him his friendsand made his will by word of mouth. It was
something like a death chantand at the end of every sentence
those around responded in concord. He appeared no ways
intimidated by the approach of death. "I think adds Wyeth, the
Indians die better than the white men; perhaps from having less
fear about the future."

The buffaloes may be approached very nearif the hunter keeps to
the leeward; but they are quick of scentand will take the alarm
and move off from a party of hunters to the windwardeven when
two miles distant.

The vast herds which had poured down into the Bear River Valley
were now snow-boundand remained in the neighborhood of the camp
throughout the winter. This furnished the trappers and their
Indian friends a perpetual carnival; so thatto slay and eat
seemed to be the main occupations of the day. It is astonishing
what loads of meat it requires to cope with the appetite of a
hunting camp.

The ravens and wolves soon came in for their share of the good
cheer. These constant attendants of the hunter gathered in vast
numbers as the winter advanced. They might be completely out of
sightbut at the report of a gunflights of ravens would
immediately be seen hovering in the airno one knew whence they
came; while the sharp visages of the wolves would peep down from
the brow of every hillwaiting for the hunter's departure to
pounce upon the carcass.

Besides the buffaloesthere were other neighbors snow-bound in
the valleywhose presence did not promise to be so advantageous.
This was a band of Eutaw Indians who were encamped higher up on
the river. They are a poor tribe thatin a scale of the various
tribes inhabiting these regionswould rank between the
Shoshonies and the Shoshokoes or Root Diggers; though more bold
and warlike than the latter. They have but few rifles among them
and are generally armed with bows and arrows.

As this band and the Shoshonies were at deadly feudon account
of old grievancesand as neither party stood in awe of the
otherit was feared some bloody scenes might ensue. Captain
Bonnevillethereforeundertook the office of pacificatorand
sent to the Eutaw chiefsinviting them to a friendly smokein
order to bring about a reconciliation. His invitation was proudly
declined; whereupon he went to them in personand succeeded in
effecting a suspension of hostilities until the chiefs of the two
tribes could meet in council. The braves of the two rival camps
sullenly acquiesced in the arrangement. They would take their
seats upon the hill topsand watch their quondam enemies hunting
the buffalo in the plain belowand evidently repine that their
hands were tied up from a skirmish. The worthy captainhowever
succeeded in carrying through his benevolent mediation. The


chiefs met; the amicable pipe was smokedthe hatchet buriedand
peace formally proclaimed. After thisboth camps united and
mingled in social intercourse. Private quarrelshoweverwould
occasionally occur in huntingabout the division of the game
and blows would sometimes be exchanged over the carcass of a
buffalo; but the chiefs wisely took no notice of these individual
brawls.

One day the scoutswho had been ranging the hillsbrought news
of several large herds of antelopes in a small valley at no great
distance. This produced a sensation among the Indiansfor both
tribes were in ragged conditionand sadly in want of those
shirts made of the skin of the antelope. It was determined to
have "a surround as the mode of hunting that animal is called.
Everything now assumed an air of mystic solemnity and importance.
The chiefs prepared their medicines or charms each according to
his own method, or fancied inspiration, generally with the
compound of certain simples; others consulted the entrails of
animals which they had sacrificed, and thence drew favorable
auguries. After much grave smoking and deliberating it was at
length proclaimed that all who were able to lift a club, man,
woman, or child, should muster for the surround." When all had
congregatedthey moved in rude procession to the nearest point
of the valley in questionand there halted. Another course of
smoking and deliberatingof which the Indians are so fondtook
place among the chiefs. Directions were then issued for the
horsemen to make a circuit of about seven milesso as to
encompass the herd. When this was donethe whole mounted force
dashed off simultaneouslyat full speedshouting and yelling at
the top of their voices. In a short space of time the antelopes
started from their hiding-placescame bounding from all points
into the valley. The ridersnow gradually contracting their
circlebrought them nearer and nearer to the spot where the
senior chiefsurrounded by the eldersmale and femalewere
seated in supervision of the chase. The antelopesnearly
exhausted with fatigue and frightand bewildered by perpetual
whoopingmade no effort to break through the ring of the
huntersbut ran round in small circlesuntil manwomanand
child beat them down with bludgeons. Such is the nature of that
species of antelope huntingtechnically called "a surround."

47.
A festive winter Conversion of the Shoshonies Visit of two
free trappers Gayety in the camp A touch of the tender
passion The reclaimed squaw An Indian fine lady An
elopement A pursuit Market value of a bad wife.


GAME continued to abound throughout the winterand the camp was
overstocked with provisions. Beef and venisonhumps and
haunchesbuffalo tongues and marrow-boneswere constantly
cooking at every fire; and the whole atmosphere was redolent with
the savory fumes of roast meat. It wasindeeda continual
feast of fat things,and though there might be a lack of "wine
upon the lees yet we have shown that a substitute was
occasionally to be found in honey and alcohol.

Both the Shoshonies and the Eutaws conducted themselves with
great propriety. It is true, they now and then filched a few
trifles from their good friends, the Big Hearts, when their backs
were turned; but then, they always treated them to their faces
with the utmost deference and respect, and good-humoredly vied


with the trappers in all kinds of feats of activity and mirthful
sports. The two tribes maintained toward each other, also a
friendliness of aspect which gave Captain Bonneville reason to
hope that all past animosity was effectually buried.

The two rival bands, however, had not long been mingled in this
social manner before their ancient jealousy began to break out in
a new form. The senior chief of the Shoshonies was a thinking
man, and a man of observation. He had been among the Nez Perces,
listened to their new code of morality and religion received from
the white men, and attended their devotional exercises. He had
observed the effect of all this, in elevating the tribe in the
estimation of the white men; and determined, by the same means,
to gain for his own tribe a superiority over their ignorant
rivals, the Eutaws. He accordingly assembled his people, and
promulgated among them the mongrel doctrines and form of worship
of the Nez Perces; recommending the same to their adoption. The
Shoshonies were struck with the novelty, at least, of the
measure, and entered into it with spirit. They began to observe
Sundays and holidays, and to have their devotional dances, and
chants, and other ceremonials, about which the ignorant Eutaws
knew nothing; while they exerted their usual competition in
shooting and horseracing, and the renowned game of hand.

Matters were going on thus pleasantly and prosperously, in this
motley community of white and red men, when, one morning, two
stark free trappers, arrayed in the height of savage finery, and
mounted on steeds as fine and as fiery as themselves, and all
jingling with hawks' bells, came galloping, with whoop and
halloo, into the camp.

They were fresh from the winter encampment of the American Fur
Company, in the Green River Valley; and had come to pay their old
comrades of Captain Bonneville's company a visit. An idea may be
formed from the scenes we have already given of conviviality in
the wilderness, of the manner in which these game birds were
received by those of their feather in the camp; what feasting,
what revelling, what boasting, what bragging, what ranting and
roaring, and racing and gambling, and squabbling and fighting,
ensued among these boon companions. Captain Bonneville, it is
true, maintained always a certain degree of law and order in his
camp, and checked each fierce excess; but the trappers, in their
seasons of idleness and relaxation require a degree of license
and indulgence, to repay them for the long privations and almost
incredible hardships of their periods of active service.

In the midst of all this feasting and frolicking, a freak of the
tender passion intervened, and wrought a complete change in the
scene. Among the Indian beauties in the camp of the Eutaws and
Shoshonies, the free trappers discovered two, who had whilom
figured as their squaws. These connections frequently take place
for a season, and sometimes continue for years, if not
perpetually; but are apt to be broken when the free trapper
starts off, suddenly, on some distant and rough expedition.

In the present instance, these wild blades were anxious to regain
their belles; nor were the latter loath once more to come under
their protection. The free trapper combines, in the eye of an
Indian girl, all that is dashing and heroic in a warrior of her
own race -- whose gait, and garb, and bravery he emulates -- with
all that is gallant and glorious in the white man. And then the
indulgence with which he treats her, the finery in which he decks
her out, the state in which she moves, the sway she enjoys over
both his purse and person; instead of being the drudge and slave


of an Indian husband, obliged to carry his pack, and build his
lodge, and make his fire, and bear his cross humors and dry
blows. No; there is no comparison in the eyes of an aspiring
belle of the wilderness, between a free trapper and an Indian
brave.

With respect to one of the parties the matter was easily
arranged. 'The beauty in question was a pert little Eutaw wench,
that had been taken prisoner, in some war excursion, by a
Shoshonie. She was readily ransomed for a few articles of
trifling value; and forthwith figured about the camp in fine
array, with rings on her fingersand bells on her toes and a
tossed-up coquettish air that made her the envy, admiration, and
abhorrence of all the leathern-dressed, hard-working squaws of
her acquaintance.

As to the other beauty, it was quite a different matter. She had
become the wife of a Shoshonie brave. It is true, he had another
wife, of older date than the one in question; who, therefore,
took command in his household, and treated his new spouse as a
slave; but the latter was the wife of his last fancy, his latest
caprice; and was precious in his eyes. All attempt to bargain
with him, therefore, was useless; the very proposition was
repulsed with anger and disdain. The spirit of the trapper was
roused, his pride was piqued as well as his passion. He
endeavored to prevail upon his quondam mistress to elope with
him. His horses were fleet, the winter nights were long and dark,
before daylight they would be beyond the reach of pursuit; and
once at the encampment in Green River Valley, they might set the
whole band of Shoshonies at defiance.

The Indian girl listened and longed. Her heart yearned after the
ease and splendor of condition of a trapper's bride, and throbbed
to be free from the capricious control of the premier squaw; but
she dreaded the failure of the plan, and the fury of a Shoshonie
husband. They parted; the Indian girl in tears, and the madcap
trapper more than ever, with his thwarted passion.

Their interviews had, probably, been detected, and the jealousy
of the Shoshonie brave aroused: a clamor of angry voices was
heard in his lodge, with the sound of blows, and of female
weeping and lamenting. At night, as the trapper lay tossing on
his pallet, a soft voice whispered at the door of his lodge. His
mistress stood trembling before him. She was ready to follow
whithersoever he should lead.

In an instant he was up and out. He had two prime horses, sure
and swift of foot, and of great wind. With stealthy quiet, they
were brought up and saddled; and in a few moments he and his
prize were careering over the snow, with which the whole country
was covered. In the eagerness of escape, they had made no
provision for their journey; days must elapse before they could
reach their haven of safety, and mountains and prairies be
traversed, wrapped in all the desolation of winter. For the
present, however they thought of nothing but flight; urging their
horses forward over the dreary wastes, and fancying, in the
howling of every blast, they heard the yell of the pursuer.

At early dawn, the Shoshonie became aware of his loss. Mounting
his swiftest horse, he set off in hot pursuit. He soon found the
trail of the fugitives, and spurred on in hopes of overtaking
them. The winds, however, which swept the valley, had drifted the
light snow into the prints made by the horses' hoofs. In a little
while he lost all trace of them, and was completely thrown out of


the chase. He knew, however, the situation of the camp toward
which they were bound, and a direct course through the mountains,
by which he might arrive there sooner than the fugitives. Through
the most rugged defiles, therefore, he urged his course by day
and night, scarce pausing until he reached the camp. It was some
time before the fugitives made their appearance. Six days had
they traversed the wintry wilds. They came, haggard with hunger
and fatigue, and their horses faltering under them. The first
object that met their eyes on entering the camp was the Shoshonie
brave. He rushed, knife in hand, to plunge it in the heart that
had proved false to him. The trapper threw himself before the
cowering form of his mistress, and, exhausted as he was, prepared
for a deadly struggle. The Shoshonie paused. His habitual awe of
the white man checked his arm; the trapper's friends crowded to
the spot, and arrested him. A parley ensued. A kind of crim. con.
adjudication took place; such as frequently occurs in civilized
life. A couple of horses were declared to be a fair compensation
for the loss of a woman who had previously lost her heart; with
this, the Shoshonie brave was fain to pacify his passion. He
returned to Captain Bonneville's camp, somewhat crestfallen, it
is true; but parried the officious condolements of his friends by
observing that two good horses were very good pay for one bad
wife.

48.
Breaking up of winter quarters Move to Green River A trapper
and his rifle An arrival in camp A free trapper and his squaw

in distress Story of a Blackfoot belle.

THE winter was now breaking up, the snows were melted, from the
hills, and from the lower parts of the mountains, and the time
for decamping had arrived. Captain Bonneville dispatched a party
to the caches, who brought away all the effects concealed there,
and on the 1st of April (1835) , the camp was broken up, and
every one on the move. The white men and their allies, the Eutaws
and Shoshonies, parted with many regrets and sincere expressions
of good-will; for their intercourse throughout the winter had
been of the most friendly kind.

Captain Bonneville and his party passed by Ham's Fork, and
reached the Colorado, or Green River, without accident, on the
banks of which they remained during the residue of the spring.
During this time, they were conscious that a band of hostile
Indians were hovering about their vicinity, watching for an
opportunity to slay or steal; but the vigilant precautions of
Captain Bonneville baffled all their manoeuvres. In such
dangerous times, the experienced mountaineer is never without his
rifle even in camp. On going from lodge to lodge to visit his
comrades, he takes it with him. On seating himself in a lodge, he
lays it beside him, ready to be snatched up; when he goes out, he
takes it up as regularly as a citizen would his walking-staff.
His rifle is his constant friend and protector.

On the 10th of June, the party was a little to the east of the
Wind River Mountains, where they halted for a time in excellent
pasturage, to give their horses a chance to recruit their
strength for a long journey; for it was Captain Bonneville's
intention to shape his course to the settlements; having already
been detained by the complication of his duties, and by various
losses and impediments, far beyond the time specified in his
leave of absence.


While the party was thus reposing in the neighborhood of the Wind
River Mountains, a solitary free trapper rode one day into the
camp, and accosted Captain Bonneville. He belonged, he said, to a
party of thirty hunters, who had just passed through the
neighborhood, but whom he had abandoned in consequence of their
ill treatment of a brother trapper; whom they had cast off from
their party, and left with his bag and baggage, and an Indian
wife into the bargain, in the midst of a desolate prairie. The
horseman gave a piteous account of the situation of this helpless
pair, and solicited the loan of horses to bring them and their
effects to the camp.

The captain was not a man to refuse assistance to any one in
distress, especially when there was a woman in the case; horses
were immediately dispatched, with an escort, to aid the
unfortunate couple. The next day they made their appearance with
all their effects; the man, a stalwart mountaineer, with a
peculiarly game look; the woman, a young Blackfoot beauty,
arrayed in the trappings and trinketry of a free trapper's bride.

Finding the woman to be quick-witted and communicative, Captain
Bonneville entered into conversation with her, and obtained from
her many particulars concerning the habits and customs of her
tribe; especially their wars and huntings. They pride themselves
upon being the best legs of the mountains and hunt the buffalo
on foot. This is done in spring time, when the frosts have thawed
and the ground is soft. The heavy buffaloes then sink over their
hoofs at every step, and are easily overtaken by the Blackfeet,
whose fleet steps press lightly on the surface. It is said,
however, that the buffaloes on the Pacific side of the Rocky
Mountains are fleeter and more active than on the Atlantic side;
those upon the plains of the Columbia can scarcely be overtaken
by a horse that would outstrip the same animal in the
neighborhood of the Platte, the usual hunting ground of the
Blackfeet. In the course of further conversation, Captain
Bonneville drew from the Indian woman her whole story; which gave
a picture of savage life, and of the drudgery and hardships to
which an Indian wife is subject.

I was the wife said she, of a Blackfoot warriorand I served
him faithfully. Who was so well served as he? Whose lodge was so
well providedor kept so clean? I brought wood in the morning
and placed water always at hand. I watched for his coming; and he
found his meat cooked and ready. If he rose to go forththere
was nothing to delay him. I searched the thought that was in his
heartto save him the trouble of speaking. When I went abroad on
errands for himthe chiefs and warriors smiled upon meand the
young braves spoke soft thingsin secret; but my feet were in
the straight pathand my eyes could see nothing but him.

When he went out to hunt, or to war, who aided to equip him, but
I? When he returned, I met him at the door; I took his gun; and
he entered without further thought. While he sat and smoked, I
unloaded his horses; tied them to the stakes, brought in their
loads, and was quickly at his feet. If his moccasins were wet I
took them off and put on others which were dry and warm. I
dressed all the skins he had taken in the chase. He could never
say to me, why is it not done? He hunted the deer, the antelope,
and the buffalo, and he watched for the enemy. Everything else
was done by me. When our people moved their camp, he mounted his
horse and rode away; free as though he had fallen from the skies.
He had nothing to do with the labor of the camp; it was I that
packed the horses and led them on the journey. When we halted in


the evening, and he sat with the other braves and smoked, it was
I that pitched his lodge; and when he came to eat and sleep, his
supper and his bed were ready.

I served him faithfully; and what was my reward? A cloud was
always on his browand sharp lightning on his tongue. I was his
dog; and not his wife.

Who was it that scarred and bruised me? It was he. My brother
saw how I was treated. His heart was big for me. He begged me to
leave my tyrant and fly. Where could I go? If retaken, who would
protect me? My brother was not a chief; he could not save me from
blows and wounds, perhaps death. At length I was persuaded. I
followed my brother from the village. He pointed away to the Nez
Perces, and bade me go and live in peace among them. We parted.
On the third day I saw the lodges of the Nez Perces before me. 1
paused for a moment, and had no heart to go on; but my horse
neighed, and I took it as a good sign, and suffered him to gallop
forward. In a little while I was in the midst of the lodges. As I
sat silent on my horse, the people gathered round me, and
inquired whence I came. I told my story. A chief now wrapped his
blanket close around him, and bade me dismount. I obeyed. He took
my horse to lead him away. My heart grew small within me. I
felt, on parting with my horse, as if my last friend was gone. I
had no words, and my eyes were dry. As he led off my horse a
young brave stepped forward. 'Are you a chief of the people?'
cried he. 'Do we listen to you in council, and follow you in
battle? Behold! a stranger flies to our camp from the dogs of
Blackfeet, and asks protection. Let shame cover your face! The
stranger is a woman, and alone. If she were a warrior, or had a
warrior at her side, your heart would not be big enough to take
her horse. But he is yours. By right of war you may claim him;
but look!' - his bow was drawn, and the arrow ready! - 'you never
shall cross his back!' The arrow pierced the heart of the horse,
and he fell dead.

An old woman said she would be my mother. She led me to her
lodge; my heart was thawed by her kindnessand my eyes burst
forth with tears; like the frozen fountains in springtime. She
never changed; but as the days passed awaywas still a mother to
me. The people were loud in praise of the young braveand the
chief was ashamed. I lived in peace.

A party of trappers came to the village, and one of them took me
for his wife. This is he. I am very happy; he treats me with
kindness, and I have taught him the language of my people. As we
were travelling this way, some of the Blackfeet warriors beset
us, and carried off the horses of the party. We followed, and my
husband held a parley with them. The guns were laid down, and the
pipe was lighted; but some of the white men attempted to seize
the horses by force, and then a battle began. The snow was deep,
the white men sank into it at every step; but the red men, with
their snow-shoes, passed over the surface like birds, and drove
off many of the horses in sight of their owners. With those that
remained we resumed our journey. At length words took place
between the leader of the party and my husband. He took away our
horses, which had escaped in the battle, and turned us from his
camp. My husband had one good friend among the trappers. That is
he (pointing to the man who had asked assistance for them). He is
a good man. His heart is big. When he came in from hunting, and
found that we had been driven away, he gave up all his wages, and
followed us, that he might speak good words for us to the white
captain.


49.
Rendezvous at Wind River Campaign of Montero and his brigade in
the Crow country Wars between the Crows and Blackfeet Death

of Arapooish Blackfeet lurkers Sagacity of the horse

Dependence of the hunter on his horse Return to the

settlements.

ON the 22d of June Captain Bonneville raised his campand moved
to the forks of Wind River; the appointed place of rendezvous.
In a few days he was joined there by the brigade of Montero
which had been sentin the preceding yearto beat up the Crow
countryand afterward proceed to the Arkansas. Montero had
followed the early part of his instructions; after trapping upon
some of the upper streamshe proceeded to Powder River. Here he
fell in with the Crow villages or bandswho treated him with
unusual kindnessand prevailed upon him to take up his winter
quarters among them.

The Crows at that time were struggling almost for existence with
their old enemiesthe Blackfeet; whoin the past yearhad
picked off the flower of their warriors in various engagements
and among the restArapooishthe friend of the white men. That
sagacious and magnanimous chief had beheldwith griefthe
ravages which war was making in his tribeand that it was
declining in forceand must eventually be destroyed unless some
signal blow could be struck to retrieve its fortunes. In a
pitched battle of the two tribeshe made a speech to his
warriorsurging them to set everything at hazard in one furious
charge; which donehe led the way into the thickest of the foe.
He was soon separated from his menand fell covered with wounds
but his self-devotion was not in vain. The Blackfeet were
defeated; and from that time the Crows plucked up fresh heart
and were frequently successful.

Montero had not been long encamped among themwhen he discovered
that the Blackfeet were hovering about the neighborhood. One day
the hunters came galloping into the campand proclaimed that a
band of the enemy was at hand. The Crows flew to armsleaped on
their horsesand dashed out in squadrons in pursuit. They
overtook the retreating enemy in the midst of a plain. A
desperate fight ensued. The Crows had the advantage of numbers
and of fighting on horseback. The greater part of the Blackfeet
were slain; the remnant took shelter in a close thicket of
willowswhere the horse could not enter; whence they plied their
bows vigorously.

The Crows drew off out of bow-shotand endeavoredby taunts and
bravadoesto draw the warriors Out of their retreat. A few of
the best mounted among them rode apart from the rest. One of
their number then advanced alonewith that martial air and
equestrian grace for which the tribe is noted. When within an
arrow's flight of the thickethe loosened his reinurged his
horse to full speedthrew his body on the opposite sideso as
to hang by one legand present no mark to the foe; in this way
he swept along in front of the thicketlaunching his arrows from
under the neck of his steed. Then regaining his seat in the
saddlehe wheeled round and returned whooping and scoffing to
his companionswho received him with yells of applause.

Another and another horseman repeated this exploit; but the
Blackfeet were not to be taunted out of their safe shelter. The


victors feared to drive desperate men to extremitiesso they
forbore to attempt the thicket. Toward night they gave over the
attackand returned all-glorious with the scalps of the slain.
Then came on the usual feasts and triumphsthe scalp-dance of
warriors round the ghastly trophiesand all the other fierce
revelry of barbarous warfare. When the braves had finished with
the scalpsthey wereas usualgiven up to the women and
childrenand made the objects of new parades and dances. They
were then treasured up as invaluable trophies and decorations by
the braves who had won them.

It is worthy of notethat the scalp of a white maneither
through policy or fearis treated with more charity than that of
an Indian. The warrior who won it is entitled to his triumph if
he demands it. In such casethe war party alone dance round the
scalp. It is then taken downand the shagged frontlet of a
buffalo substituted in its placeand abandoned to the triumph
and insults of the million.

To avoid being involved in these guerillasas well as to escape
from the extremely social intercourse of the Crowswhich began
to be oppressiveMontero moved to the distance of several miles
from their campsand there formed a winter cantonment of huts.
He now maintained a vigilant watch at night. Their horseswhich
were turned loose to graze during the dayunder heedful eyes
were brought in at nightand shut up in strong pensbuilt of
large logs of cotton-wood. The snowsduring a portion of the
winterwere so deep that the poor animals could find but little
sustenance. Here and there a tuft of grass would peer above the
snow; but they were in general driven to browse the twigs and
tender branches of the trees. When they were turned out in the
morningthe first moments of freedom from the confinement of the
pen were spent in frisking and gambolling. This donethey went
soberly and sadly to workto glean their scanty subsistence for
the day. In the meantime the men stripped the bark of the
cotton-wood tree for the evening fodder. As the poor horses would
return toward nightwith sluggish and dispirited airthe moment
they saw their owners approaching them with blankets filled with
cotton-wood barktheir whole demeanor underwent a change. A
universal neighing and capering took place; they would rush
forwardsmell to the blanketspaw the earthsnortwhinny and
prance round with head and tail erectuntil the blankets were
openedand the welcome provender spread before them. These
evidences of intelligence and gladness were frequently recounted
by the trappers as proving the sagacity of the animal.

These veteran rovers of the mountains look upon their horses as
in some respects gifted with almost human intellect. An old and
experienced trapperwhen mounting guard upon the camp in dark
nights and times of perilgives heedful attention to all the
sounds and signs of the horses. No enemy enters nor approaches
the camp without attracting their noticeand their movements not
only give a vague alarmbut it is saidwill even indicate to
the knowing trapper the very quarter whence the danger threatens.

In the daytimetoowhile a hunter is engaged on the prairie
cutting up the deer or buffalo he has slainhe depends upon his
faithful horse as a sentinel. The sagacious animal sees and
smells all round himand by his starting and whinnyinggives
notice of the approach of strangers. There seems to be a dumb
communion and fellowshipa sort of fraternal sympathy between
the hunter and his horse. They mutually rely upon each other for
company and protection; and nothing is more difficultit is
saidthan to surprise an experienced hunter on the prairie while


his old and favorite steed is at his side.

Montero had not long removed his camp from the vicinity of the
Crowsand fixed himself in his new quarterswhen the Blackfeet
marauders discovered his cantonmentand began to haunt the
vicinityHe kept up a vigilant watchhoweverand foiled every
attempt of the enemywhoat lengthseemed to have given up in
despairand abandoned the neighborhood. The trappers relaxed
their vigilancethereforeand one nightafter a day of severe
laborno guards were postedand the whole camp was soon asleep.
Toward midnighthoweverthe lightest sleepers were roused by
the trampling of hoofs; andgiving the alarmthe whole party
were immediately on their legs and hastened to the pens. The bars
were down; but no enemy was to he seen or heardand the horses
being all found hard byit was supposed the bars had been left
down through negligence. All were once more asleepwhenin
about an hour there was a second alarmand it was discovered
that several horses were missing. The rest were mountedand so
spirited a pursuit took placethat eighteen of the number
carried off were regainedand but three remained in possession
of the enemy. Traps for wolveshad been set about the camp the
preceding day. In the morning it was discovered that a Blackfoot
was entrapped by one of thembut had succeeded in dragging it
off. His trail was followed for a long distance which he must
have limped alone. At length he appeared to have fallen in with
some of his comradeswho had relieved him from his painful
encumbrance.

These were the leading incidents of Montero's campaign in the
Crow country. The united parties now celebrated the 4th of July
in rough hunters' stylewith hearty conviviality; after which
Captain Bonneville made his final arrangements. Leaving Montero
with a brigade of trappers to open another campaignhe put
himself at the head of the residue of his menand set off on his
return to civilized life. We shall not detail his journey along
the course of the Nebraskaand sofrom point to point of the
wildernessuntil he and his band reached the frontier
settlements on the 22d of August.

Hereaccording to his own accounthis cavalcade might have been
taken for a procession of tatterdemalion savages; for the men
were ragged almost to nakednessand had contracted a wildness of
aspect during three years of wandering in the wilderness. A few
hours in a populous townhoweverproduced a magical
metamorphosis. Hats of the most ample brim and longest nap;
coats with buttons that shone like mirrorsand pantaloons of the
most ample plenitudetook place of the well-worn trapper's
equipments; and the happy wearers might be seen strolling about
in all directionsscattering their silver like sailors just from
a cruise.

The worthy captainhoweverseems by no means to have shared the
excitement of his menon finding himself once more in the
thronged resorts of civilized lifebuton the contraryto have
looked back to the wilderness with regret. "Though the prospect
says he, of once more tasting the blessings of peaceful society
and passing days and nights under the calm guardianship of the
lawswas not without its attractions; yet to those of us whose
whole lives had been spent in the stirring excitement and
perpetual watchfulness of adventures in the wildernessthe
change was far from promising an increase of that contentment and
inward satisfaction most conducive to happiness. He wholike
myselfhas roved almost from boyhood among the children of the
forestand over the unfurrowed plains and rugged heights of the


western wasteswill not be startled to learnthat
notwithstanding all the fascinations of the world on this
civilized side of the mountainsI would fain make my bow to the
splendors and gayeties of the metropolisand plunge again amidst
the hardships and perils of the wilderness."

We have only to add that the affairs of the captain have been
satisfactorily arranged with the War Departmentand that he is
actually in service at Fort Gibsonon our western frontier
where we hope he may meet with further opportunities of indulging
his peculiar tastesand of collecting graphic and characteristic
details of the great western wilds and their motley inhabitants.

--

We here close our picturings of the Rocky Mountains and their
wild inhabitantsand of the wild life that prevails there; which
we have been anxious to fix on recordbecause we are aware that
this singular state of things is full of mutationand must soon
undergo great changesif not entirely pass away. The fur trade
itselfwhich has given life to all this portraitureis
essentially evanescent. Rival parties of trappers soon exhaust
the streamsespecially when competition renders them heedless
and wasteful of the beaver. The furbearing animals extincta
complete change will come over the scene; the gay free trapper
and his steeddecked out in wild arrayand tinkling with bells
and trinketry; the savage war chiefplumed and painted and ever
on the prowl; the traders' cavalcadewinding through defiles or
over naked plainswith the stealthy war party lurking on its
trail; the buffalo chasethe hunting campthe mad carouse in
the midst of dangerthe night attackthe stampedethe scamper
the fierce skirmish among rocks and cliffs --all this romance
of savage lifewhich yet exists among the mountainswill then
exist but in frontier storyand seem like the fictions of
chivalry or fairy tale.

Some new system of thingsor rather some new modificationwill
succeed among the roving people of this vast wilderness; but just
as oppositeperhapsto the inhabitants of civilization. The
great Chippewyan chain of mountainsand the sandy and volcanic
plains which extend on either sideare represented as incapable
of cultivation. The pasturage which prevails there during a
certain portion of the yearsoon withers under the aridity of
the atmosphereand leaves nothing but dreary wastes. An immense
belt of rocky mountains and volcanic plainsseveral hundred
miles in widthmust ever remain an irreclaimable wilderness
intervening between the abodes of civilizationand affording a
last refuge to the Indian. Here roving tribes of huntersliving
in tents or lodgesand following the migrations of the gamemay
lead a life of savage independencewhere there is nothing to
tempt the cupidity of the white man. The amalgamation of various
tribesand of white men of every nationwill in time produce
hybrid races like the mountain Tartars of the Caucasus.
Possessed as they are of immense droves of horses should they
continue their present predatory and warlike habitsthey may in
time become a scourge to the civilized frontiers on either side
of the mountainsas they are at present a terror to the
traveller and trader.

The facts disclosed in the present work clearly manifest the
policy of establishing military posts and a mounted force to
protect our traders in their journeys across the great western
wildsand of pushing the outposts into the very heart of the
singular wilderness we have laid openso as to maintain some


degree of sway over the countryand to put an end to the kind of
blackmail,levied on all occasions by the savage "chivalry of
the mountains."

Appendix

Nathaniel J. Wyethand the Trade of the Far West

WE HAVE BROUGHT Captain Bonneville to the end of his western
campaigning; yet we cannot close this work without subjoining
some particulars concerning the fortunes of his contemporaryMr.
Wyeth; anecdotes of whose enterprise haveoccasionallybeen
interwoven in the party-colored web of our narrative. Wyeth
effected his intention of establishing a trading post on the
Portneufwhich he named Fort Hall. Herefor the first timethe
American flag was unfurled to the breeze that sweeps the great
naked wastes of the central wilderness. Leaving twelve men here
with a stock of goodsto trade with the neighboring tribeshe
prosecuted his journey to the Columbia; where he established
another postcalled Fort Williamson Wappatoo Islandat the
mouth of the Wallamut. This was to be the head factory of his
company; whence they were to carry on their fishing and trapping
operationsand their trade with the interior; and where they
were to receive and dispatch their annual ship.

The plan of Mr. Wyeth appears to have been well concerted. He had
observed that the Rocky Mountain Fur Companythe bands of free
trappersas well as the Indians west of the mountainsdepended
for their supplies upon goods brought from St. Louis; whichin
consequence of the expenses and risks of a long land carriage
were furnished them at an immense advance on first cost. He had
an idea that they might be much more cheaply supplied from the
Pacific side. Horses would cost much less on the borders of the
Columbia than at St. Louis: the transportation by land was much
shorter; and through a country much more safe from the hostility
of savage tribes; whichon the route from and to St. Louis
annually cost the lives of many men. On this ideahe grounded
his plan. He combined the salmon fishery with the fur trade. A
fortified trading post was to be established on the Columbiato
carry on a trade with the natives for salmon and peltriesand to
fish and trap on their own account. Once a yeara ship was to
come from the United Statesto bring out goods for the interior
tradeand to take home the salmon and furs which had been
collected. Part of the goodsthus brought outwere to be
dispatched to the mountainsto supply the trapping companies and
the Indian tribesin exchange for their furs; which were to be
brought down to the Columbiato be sent home in the next annual
ship: and thus an annual round was to be kept up. The profits on
the salmonit was expectedwould cover all the expenses of the
ship; so that the goods brought outand the furs carried home
would cost nothing as to freight.

His enterprise was prosecuted with a spiritintelligenceand
perseverancethat merited success. All the details that we have
met withprove him to be no ordinary man. He appears to have the
mind to conceiveand the energy to execute extensive and
striking plans. He had once more reared the American flag in the
lost domains of Astoria; and had he been enabled to maintain the
footing he had so gallantly effectedhe might have regained for
his country the opulent trade of the Columbiaof which our
statesmen have negligently suffered us to be dispossessed.


It is needless to go into a detail of the variety of accidents
and cross-purposeswhich caused the failure of his scheme. They
were such as all undertakings of the kindinvolving combined
operations by sea and landare liable to. What he most wanted
was sufficient capital to enable him to endure incipient
obstacles and losses; and to hold on until success had time to
spring up from the midst of disastrous experiments.

It is with extreme regret we learn that he has recently been
compelled to dispose of his establishment at Wappatoo Islandto
the Hudson's Bay Company; whoit is but justice to sayhave
according to his own accounttreated him throughout the whole of
his enterprisewith great fairnessfriendshipand liberality.
That companythereforestill maintains an unrivalled sway over
the whole country washed by the Columbia and its tributaries. It
hasin factas far as its chartered powers permitfollowed out
the splendid scheme contemplated by Mr. Astorwhen he founded
his establishment at the mouth of the Columbia. From their
emporium of Vancouvercompanies are sent forth in every
directionto supply the interior poststo trade with the
nativesand to trap upon the various streams. These thread the
riverstraverse the plainspenetrate to the heart of the
mountainsextend their enterprises northwardto the Russian
possessionsand southwardto the confines of California. Their
yearly supplies are received by seaat Vancouver; and thence
their furs and peltries are shipped to London. They likewise
maintain a considerable commercein wheat and lumberwith the
Pacific islandsand to the northwith the Russian settlements.

Though the companyby treatyhave a right to a participation
onlyin the trade of these regionsand arein factbut
tenants on sufferance; yet have they quietly availed themselves
of the original oversightand subsequent supineness of the
American governmentto establish a monopoly of the trade of the
river and its dependencies; and are adroitly proceeding to
fortify themselves in their usurpationby securing all the
strong points of the country.

Fort Georgeoriginally Astoriawhich was abandoned on the
removal of the main factory to Vancouverwas renewed in 1830;
and is now kept up as a fortified post and trading house. All the
places accessible to shipping have been taken possession ofand
posts recently established at them by the company.

The great capital of this association; their long established
system; their hereditary influence over the Indian tribes; their
internal organizationwhich makes every thing go on with the
regularity of a machine; and the low wages of their peoplewho
are mostly Canadiansgive them great advantages over the
American traders: nor is it likely the latter will ever be able
to maintain any footing in the landuntil the question of
territorial right is adjusted between the two countries. The
sooner that takes placethe better. It is a question too serious
to national prideif not to national intereststo be slurred
over; and every year is adding to the difficulties which environ
it.

The fur tradewhich is now the main object of enterprise west of
the Rocky Mountainsforms but a part of the real resources of
the country. Beside the salmon fishery of the Columbiawhich is
capable of being rendered a considerable source of profit; the
great valleys of the lower countrybelow the elevated volcanic
plateauare calculated to give sustenance to countless flocks
and herdsand to sustain a great population of graziers and


agriculturists.

Suchfor instanceis the beautiful valley of the Wallamut;
from which the establishment at Vancouver draws most of its
supplies. Herethe company holds mills and farms; and has
provided for some of its superannuated officers and servants.
This valleyabove the fallsis about fifty miles wideand
extends a great distance to the south. The climate is mildbeing
sheltered by lateral ranges of mountains; while the soilfor
richnesshas been equalled to the best of the Missouri lands.
The valley of the river Des Chutesis also admirably calculated
for a great grazing country. All the best horses used by the
company for the mountains are raised there. The valley is of such
happy temperaturethat grass grows there throughout the year
and cattle may be left out to pasture during the winter.

These valleys must form the grand points of commencement of the
future settlement of the country; but there must be many suchen
folded in the embraces of these lower ranges of mountains; which
though at present they lie waste and uninhabitedand to the eye
of the trader and trapperpresent but barren wasteswouldin
the hands of skilful agriculturists and husbandmensoon assume a
different aspectand teem with waving cropsor be covered with
flocks and herds.

The resources of the countrytoowhile in the hands of a
company restricted in its tradecan be but partially called
forth; but in the hands of Americansenjoying a direct trade
with the East Indieswould be brought into quickening activity;
and might soon realize the dream of Mr. Astorin giving rise to
a flourishing commercial empire.

Wreck of a Japanese Junk on the Northwest Coast

THE FOLLOWING EXTRACT of a letter which we receivedlatelyfrom
Mr. Wyethmay be interestingas throwing some light upon the
question as to the manner in which America has been peopled.

Are you aware of the fact, that in the winter of 1833,

a Japanese junk was wrecked on the northwest coast, in

the neighborhood of Queen Charlotte's Island; and that

all but two of the crew, then much reduced by

starvation and disease, during a long drift across the

Pacific, were killed by the natives? The two fell into

the hands of the Hudson's Bay Company, and were sent to

England. I saw them, on my arrival at Vancouver, in

1834.

Instructions to Captain Bonneville from the Major-General
Commanding the Army of the United States.

Copy

Head Quarters of the Army.
Washington 29th July 1831.

Sir


The leave of absence which you have asked for the purpose of
enabling you to carry into execution your designs of exploring
the country to the Rocky Mountainsand beyond with a view of
assertaining the nature and character of the various tribes of
Indians inhabiting those regions; the trade which might be
profitably carried on with themthe quality of the soilthe
productionsthe mineralsthe natural historythe climatethe
Geographyand Topographyas well as Geology of the various
parts of the Country within the limits of the Territories
belonging to the United Statesbetween our frontierand the
Pacific; has been duly consideredand submitted to the War
Departmentfor approvaland has been sanctioned.

You are therefore authorised to be absent from the Army untill
October 1833.

It is understood that the Government is to be at no expencein
reference to your proposed expeditionit having originated with
yourselfand all that you required was the permission from the
proper authority to undertake the enterprise. You will naturally
in providing your self for the expeditionprovide suitable
instrumentsand especially the best Maps of the interior to be
found. It is desirable besides what is enumerated as the object
of enterprise that you note particularly the number of Warriors
that may belong to each tribeor nation that you may meet with:
their alliances with other tribes and their relative position as
to a state of peace or warand whether their friendly or warlike
dispositions towards each other are recent or of long standing.
You will gratify us by describing the manner of their making War
of the mode of subsisting themselves during a state of warand a
state of peacetheir Armsand the effect of themwhether they
act on foot or on horse backdetailing the disciplineand
manuvers of the war partiesthe power of their horsessize and
general discription; in short any information which you may
conceive would be useful to the Government. You will avail
yourself of every opportunity of informing us of your position
and progressand at the expiration of your leave of absence will
join your proper station.

I have the honor to be Sir
Your Ot St

(Signed) Alexr Macomb Maj Genl Comg

To Cap: B. L E Bonneville
7th Regt Infantry
New York