Part 6 out of 9

continuance of their journey, it would have been madness to
attempt to pass the tumultuous current either on rafts or
otherwise. Still bent, however, on pushing forward, they
attempted to climb the opposing mountains; and struggled on
through the snow for half a day until, coming to where they could
command a prospect, they found that they were not half way to the
summit, and that mountain upon mountain lay piled beyond them, in
wintry desolation. Famished and emaciated as they were, to
continue forward would be to perish; their only chance seemed to
be to regain the river, and retrace their steps up its banks. It
was in this forlorn and retrograde march that they had met Mr.
Hunt and his party.

Mr. Crooks also gave information of some others of their fellow
adventurers. He had spoken several days previously with Mr. Reed
and Mr. M'Kenzie, who with their men were on the opposite side of
the river, where it was impossible to get over to them. They
informed him that Mr. M'Lellan had struck across from the little
river above the mountains, in the hope of falling in with some of
the tribe of Flatheads, who inhabit the western skirts of the
Rocky range. As the companions of Reed and M'Kenzie were picked
men, and had found provisions more abundant on their side of the
river, they were in better condition, and more fitted to contend
with the difficulties of the country, than those of Mr. Crooks,
and when he lost sight of them, were pushing onward, down the
course of the river.

Mr. Hunt took a night to revolve over his critical situation, and
to determine what was to be done. No time was to be lost; he had
twenty men and more in his own party, to provide for, and Mr.
Crooks and his men to relieve. To linger would be to starve. The
idea of retracing his steps was intolerable, and, notwithstanding
all the discouraging accounts of the ruggedness of the mountains
lower down the river, he would have been disposed to attempt
them, but the depth of the snow with which they were covered
deterred him; having already experienced the impossibility of
forcing his way against such an impediment.

The only alternative, therefore, appeared to be, return and seek
the Indian bands scattered along the small rivers above the
mountains. Perhaps, from some of these he might procure horses
enough to support him until he could reach the Columbia; for he
still cherished the hope of arriving at that river in the course
of the winter, though he was apprehensive that few of Mr.
Crooks's party would be sufficiently strong to follow him. Even
in adopting this course, he had to make up his mind to the
certainty of several days of famine at the outset, for it would
take that time to reach the last Indian lodges from which he had
parted, and until they should arrive there, his people would have
nothing to subsist upon but haws and wild berries, excepting one
miserable horse, which was little better than skin and bone.

After a night of sleepless cogitation, Mr. Hunt announced to his
men the dreary alternative he had adopted, and preparations were
made to take Mr. Crooks and Le Clerc across the river, with the
remainder of the meat, as the other party were to keep up along
the opposite bank. The skin canoe had unfortunately been lost in
the night; a raft was constructed therefore, after the manner of
the natives, of bundles of willows, but it could not be floated
across the impetuous current. The men were directed, in
consequence, to keep on along the river by themselves, while Mr.
Crooks and Le Clerc would proceed with Mr. Hunt. They all, then,
took up their retrograde march with drooping spirits.

In a little while, it was found that Mr. Crooks and Le Clerc were
so feeble as to walk with difficulty, so that Mr. Hunt was
obliged to retard his pace, that they might keep up with him. His
men grew impatient at the delay. They murmured that they had a
long and desolate region to traverse, before they could arrive at
the point where they might expect to find horses; that it was
impossible for Crooks and Le Clerc, in their feeble condition, to
get over it; that to remain with them would only be to starve in
their company. They importuned Mr. Hunt, therefore, to leave
these unfortunate men to their fate, and think only of the safety
of himself and his party. Finding him not to be moved either by
entreaties or their clamors, they began to proceed without him,
singly and in parties. Among those who thus went off was Pierre
Dorion, the interpreter. Pierre owned the only remaining horse;
which was now a mere skeleton. Mr. Hunt had suggested, in their
present extremity, that it should be killed for food; to which
the half-breed flatly refused his assent, and cudgeling the
miserable animal forward, pushed on sullenly, with the air of a
man doggedly determined to quarrel for his right. In this way Mr.
Hunt saw his men, one after another, break away, until but five
remained to bear him company.

On the following morning another raft was made, on which Mr.
Crooks and Le Clerc again attempted to ferry themselves across
the river, but after repeated trials had to give up in despair.
This caused additional delay; after which they continued to crawl
forward at a snail's pace. Some of the men who had remained with
Mr. Hunt now became impatient of these incumbrances, and urged
him clamorously to push forward, crying out that they should all
starve. The night which succeeded was intensely cold, so that one
of the men was severely frost-bitten. In the course of the night,
Mr. Crooks was taken ill, and in the morning was still more
incompetent to travel. Their situation was now desperate, for
their stock of provisions was reduced to three beaver skins. Mr.
Hunt, therefore, resolved to push on, overtake his people, and
insist upon having the horse of Pierre Dorion sacrificed for the
relief of all hands. Accordingly, he left two of his men to help
Crooks and Le Clerc on their way, giving them two of the beaver
skins for their support; the remaining skin he retained, as
provision for himself and the three other men who struck forward
with him.


Mr. Hunt Overtakes the Advance Party.- Pierre Dorion, and His
Skeleton Horse.- A Shoshonie Camp.- A Justifiable Outrage.-
Feasting on Horse Flesh.- Mr. Crooks Brought to the Camp.-
Undertakes to Relieve His Men.- The Skin Ferry-Boat.- Frenzy of
Prevost.- His Melancholy Fate.-Enfeebled State of John Day.-Mr.
Crooks Again Left Behind.-The Party Emerge From Among the
Mountains.-Interview With Shoshonies.-A Guide Procured to Conduct
the Party Across a Mountain. -Ferriage Across Snake River.-
Reunion With Mr Crook's Men.- Final Departure From the River.

ALL that day, Mr. Hunt and his three comrades travelled without
eating. At night they made a tantalizing supper on their beaver
skin, and were nearly exhausted by hunger and cold. The next day,
December 10th, they overtook the advance party, who were all as
much famished as themselves, some of them not having eaten since
the morning of the seventh. Mr. Hunt now proposed the sacrifice
of Pierre Dorion's skeleton horse. Here he again met with
positive and vehement opposition from the half-breed, who was too
sullen and vindictive a fellow to be easily dealt with. What was
singular, the men, though suffering such pinching hunger,
interfered in favor of the horse.

They represented that it was better to keep on as long as pos-
sible without resorting to this last resource. Possibly the
Indians, of whom they were in quest, might have shifted their
encampment, in which case it would be time enough to kill the
horse to escape starvation. Mr. Hunt, therefore, was prevailed
upon to grant Pierre Dorion's horse a reprieve.

Fortunately, they had not proceeded much further, when, towards
evening, they came in sight of a lodge of Shoshonies, with a
number of horses grazing around it. The sight was as unexpected
as it was joyous. Having seen no Indians in this neighborhood as
they passed down the river, they must have subsequently come out
from among the mountains. Mr. Hunt, who first descried them,
checked the eagerness of his companions, knowing the
unwillingness of these Indians to part with their horses, and
their aptness to hurry them off and conceal them, in case of an
alarm. This was no time to risk such a disappointment.
Approaching, therefore, stealthily and silently, they came upon
the savages by surprise, who fled in terror. Five of their horses
were eagerly seized, and one was despatched upon the spot. The
carcass was immediately cut up, and a part of it hastily cooked
and ravenously devoured. A man was now sent on horseback with a
supply of the flesh to Mr. Crooks and his companions. He reached
them in the night; they were so famished that the supply sent
them seemed but to aggravate their hunger, and they were almost
tempted to kill and eat the horse that had brought the messenger.
Availing themselves of the assistance of the animal, they reached
the camp early in the morning.

On arriving there, Mr. Crooks was shocked to find that, while the
people on this side of the river were amply supplied with
provisions, none had been sent to his own forlorn and famishing
men on the opposite bank. He immediately caused a skin canoe to
be constructed, and called out to his men to fill their camp-
kettles with water and hang them over the fire, that no time
might be lost in cooking the meat the moment it should be
received. The river was so narrow, though deep, that everything
could be distinctly heard and seen across it. The kettles were
placed on the fire, and the water was boiling by the time the
canoe was completed. When all was ready, however, no one would
undertake to ferry the meat across. A vague and almost
superstitious terror had infected the minds of Mr. Hunt's
followers, enfeebled and rendered imaginative of horrors by the
dismal scenes and sufferings through which they had passed. They
regarded the haggard crew, hovering like spectres of famine on
the opposite bank, with indefinite feelings of awe and
apprehension: as if something desperate and dangerous was to be
feared from them.

Mr. Crooks tried in vain to reason or shame them out of this
singular state of mind. He then attempted to navigate the canoe
himself, but found his strength incompetent to brave the
impetuous current. The good feelings of Ben Jones, the
Kentuckian, at length overcame his fears, and he ventured over.
The supply he brought was received with trembling avidity. A poor
Canadian, however, named Jean Baptiste Prevost, whom famine had
rendered wild and desperate, ran frantically about the bank,
after Jones had returned, crying out to Mr. Hunt to send the
canoe for him, and take him from that horrible region of famine,
declaring that otherwise he would never march another step, but
would lie down there and die.

The canoe was shortly sent over again, under the management of
Joseph Delaunay, with further supplies. Prevost immediately
pressed forward to embark. Delaunay refused to admit him, telling
him that there was now a sufficient supply of meat on his side of
the river. He replied that it was not cooked, and he should
starve before it was ready; he implored, therefore, to be taken
where he could get something to appease his hunger immediately.
Finding the canoe putting off without him, he forced himself
aboard. As he drew near the opposite shore, and beheld meat
roasting before the fire, he jumped up, shouted, clapped his
hands, and danced in a delirium of joy, until he upset the canoe.
The poor wretch was swept away by the current and drowned, and it
was with extreme difficulty that Delaunay reached the shore.

Mr. Hunt now sent all his men forward excepting two or three. In
the evening he caused another horse to be killed, and a canoe to
be made out of the skin, in which he sent over a further supply
of meat to the opposite party. The canoe brought back John Day,
the Kentucky hunter, who came to join his former employer and
commander, Mr. Crooks. Poor Day, once so active and vigorous, was
now reduced to a condition even more feeble and emaciated than
his companions. Mr. Crooks had such a value for the man, on
account of his past services and faithful character, that he
determined not to quit him; he exhorted Mr. Hunt, however, to
proceed forward, and join the party, as his presence was all
important to the conduct of the expedition. One of the Canadians,
Jean Baptiste Dubreuil, likewise remained with Mr. Crooks.

Mr. Hunt left two horses with them, and a part of the carcass of
the last that had been killed. This, he hoped, would be
sufficient to sustain them until they should reach the Indian

One of the chief dangers attending the enfeebled condition of Mr.
Crooks and his companions was their being overtaken by the
Indians whose horses had been seized, though Mr. Hunt hoped that
he had guarded against any resentment on the part of the savages,
by leaving various articles in their lodge, more than sufficient
to compensate for the outrage he had been compelled to commit.

Resuming his onward course, Mr. Hunt came up with his people in
the evening. The next day, December 13th, he beheld several
Indians, with three horses, on the opposite side of the river,
and after a time came to the two lodges which he had seen on
going down. Here he endeavored in vain to barter a rifle for a
horse, but again succeeded in effecting the purchase with an old
tin kettle, aided by a few beads.

The two succeeding days were cold and stormy; the snow was
augmenting, and there was a good deal of ice running in the
river. Their road, however, was becoming easier; they were
getting out of the hills, and finally emerged into the open
country, after twenty days of fatigue, famine, and hardship of
every kind, in the ineffectual attempt to find a passage down the

They now encamped on a little willowed stream, running from the
east, which they had crossed on the 26th of November. Here they
found a dozen lodges of Shoshonies, recently arrived, who
informed them that had they persevered along the river, they
would have found their difficulties augment until they became
absolutely insurmountable. This intelligence added to the anxiety
of Mr. Hunt for the fate of Mr. M'Kenzie and his people, who had
kept on.

Mr. Hunt now followed up the little river, and encamped at some
lodges of Shoshonies, from whom he procured a couple of horses, a
dog, a few dried fish, and some roots and dried cherries. Two or
three days were exhausted in obtaining information about the
route, and what time it would take to get to the Sciatogas, a
hospitable tribe on the west of the mountains, represented as
having many horses. The replies were various, but concurred in
saying that the distance was great, and would occupy from
seventeen to twenty-one nights. Mr. Hunt then tried to procure a
guide; but though he sent to various lodges up and down the
river, offering articles of great value in Indian estimation, no
one would venture. The snow, they said, was waist deep in the
mountains; and to all his offers they shook their heads, gave a
shiver, and replied, "we shall freeze! we shall freeze!" at the
same time they urged him to remain and pass the winter among

Mr. Hunt was in a dismal dilemma. To attempt the mountains
without a guide would be certain death to him and all his people;
to remain there, after having already been so long on the
journey, and at such great expense, was worse to him, he said,
than two "deaths." He now changed his tone with the Indians,
charged them with deceiving him in respect to the mountains, and
talking with a "forked tongue," or, in other words, with lying.
He upbraided them with their want of courage, and told them they
were women, to shrink from the perils of such a journey. At
length one of them, piqued by his taunts, or tempted by his
offers, agreed to be his guide; for which he was to receive a
gun, a pistol, three knives, two horses, and a little of every
article in possession of the party; a reward sufficient to make
him one of the wealthiest of his vagabond nation.

Once more, then, on the 21st of December, they set out upon their
wayfaring, with newly excited spirits. Two other Indians
accompanied their guide, who led them immediately back to Snake
River, which they followed down for a short distance, in search
of some Indian rafts made of reeds, on which they might cross.
Finding none, Mr. Hunt caused a horse to be killed, and a canoe
to be made out of its skin. Here, on the opposite bank, they saw
the thirteen men of Mr. Crooks's party, who had continued up
along the river. They told Mr. Hunt, across the stream, that they
had not seen Mr. Crooks, and the two men who had remained with
him, since the day that he had separated from them.

The canoe proving too small, another horse was killed, and the
skin of it joined to that of the first. Night came on before the
little bark had made more than two voyages. Being badly made it
was taken apart and put together again, by the light of the fire.
The night was cold; the men were weary and disheartened with such
varied and incessant toil and hardship. They crouched, dull and
drooping, around their fires; many of them began to express a
wish to remain where they were for the winter. The very necessity
of crossing the river dismayed some of them in their present
enfeebled and dejected state. It was rapid and turbulent, and
filled with floating ice, and they remembered that two of their
comrades had already perished in its waters. Others looked
forward with misgivings to the long and dismal journey through
lonesome regions that awaited them, when they should have passed
this dreary flood.

At an early hour of the morning, December 23d, they began to
cross the river. Much ice had formed during the night, and they
were obliged to break it for some distance on each shore. At
length they all got over in safety to the west side; and their
spirits rose on having achieved this perilous passage. Here they
were rejoined by the people of Mr. Crooks, who had with them a
horse and a dog, which they had recently procured. The poor
fellows were in the most squalid and emaciated state. Three of
them were so completely prostrated in strength and spirits that
they expressed a wish to remain among the Snakes. Mr. Hunt,
therefore, gave them the canoe, that they might cross the river,
and a few articles, with which to procure necessities, until they
should meet with Mr. Crooks. There was another man, named Michael
Carriere, who was almost equally reduced, but he determined to
proceed with his comrades, who were now incorporated with the
party of Mr. Hunt. After the day's exertions they encamped
together on the banks of the river. This was the last night they
were to spend upon its borders. More than eight hundred miles of
hard travelling, and many weary days, had it cost them; and the
sufferings connected with it rendered it hateful in their
remembrance, so that the Canadian voyageurs always spoke of it as
"La maudite riviere enragee" - the accursed mad river - thus
coupling a malediction with its name.


Departure From Snake River- Mountains to the North.- Wayworn
Travellers- An Increase of the Dorion Family.- A Camp of
Shoshonies.-A New-Year Festival Among the Snakes.-A Wintry March
Through the Mountains.-A Sunny Prospect, and Milder Climate.-
Indian Horse-Tracks.- Grassy Valleys.- A Camp of Sciatogas.- Joy
of the Travellers.-Dangers of Abundance.-Habits of the
Sciatogas.- Fate of Carriere.- The Umatilla.- Arrival at the
Banks of the Columbia.-Tidings of the Scattered Members of the
Expedition.- Scenery on the Columbia.- Tidings of Astoria-
Arrival at the Falls.

0N the 24th of December, all things being arranged, Mr. Hunt
turned his back upon the disastrous banks of Snake River, and
struck his course westward for the mountains. His party, being
augmented by the late followers of Mr. Crooks, amounted now to
thirty-two white men, three Indians, and the squaw and two
children of Pierre Dorion. Five jaded, halfstarved horses were
laden with their luggage, and, in case of need, were to furnish
them with provisions. They travelled painfully about fourteen
miles a day, over plains and among hills, rendered dreary by
occasional falls of snow and rain. Their only sustenance was a
scanty meal of horse flesh once in four-and-twenty hours.

On the third day the poor Canadian, Carriere, one of the famished
party of Mr. Crooks, gave up in despair, and laying down upon the
ground declared he could go no further. Efforts were made to
cheer him up, but it was found that the poor fellow was
absolutely exhausted and could not keep on his legs. He was
mounted, therefore, upon one of the horses, though the forlorn
animal was in little better plight than himself.

On the 28th, they came upon a small stream winding to the north,
through a fine level valley; the mountains receding on each side.
Here their Indian friends pointed out a chain of woody mountains
to the left, running north and south, and covered with snow, over
which they would have to pass. They kept along the valley for
twenty-one miles on the 29th, suffering much from a continued
fall of snow and rain, and being twice obliged to ford the icy
stream. Early in the following morning the squaw of Pierre
Dorion, who had hitherto kept on without murmuring or flinching,
was suddenly taken in labor, and enriched her husband with
another child. As the fortitude and good conduct of the poor
woman had gained for her the goodwill of the party, her situation
caused concern and perplexity. Pierre, however, treated the
matter as an occurrence that could soon be arranged and need
cause no delay. He remained by his wife in the camp, with his
other children and his horse, and promised soon to rejoin the
main body, who proceeded on their march.

Finding that the little river entered the mountains, they
abandoned it, and turned off for a few miles among hills. Here
another Canadian, named La Bonte, gave out, and had to be helped
on horseback. As the horse was too weak to bear both him and his
pack, Mr. Hunt took the latter upon his own shoulders. Thus, with
difficulties augmenting at every step, they urged their toilsome
way among the hills, half famished and faint at heart, when they
came to where a fair valley spread out before them, of great
extent and several leagues in width, with a beautiful stream
meandering through it. A genial climate seemed to prevail here,
for though the snow lay upon all the mountains within sight,
there was none to be seen in the valley. The travellers gazed
with delight upon this serene, sunny landscape, but their joy was
complete on beholding six lodges of Shoshonies pitched upon the
borders of the stream, with a number of horses and dogs about
them. They all pressed forward with eagerness and soon reached
the camp. Here their first attention was to obtain provisions. A
rifle, an old musket, a tomahawk, a tin kettle, and a small
quantity of ammunition soon procured them four horses, three
dogs, and some roots. Part of the live stock was immediately
killed, cooked with all expedition, and as promptly devoured. A
hearty meal restored every one to good spirits. In the course of
the following morning the Dorion family made its reappearance.
Pierre came trudging in the advance, followed by his valued,
though skeleton steed, on which was mounted his squaw with her
new-born infant in her arms, and her boy of two years old wrapped
in a blanket and slung at her side. The mother looked as
unconcerned as if nothing had happened to her; so easy is nature
in her operations in the wilderness, when free from the
enfeebling refinements of luxury, and the tamperings and
appliances of art.

The next morning ushered in the new year (1812). Mr. Hunt was
about to resume his march, when his men requested permission to
celebrate the day. This was particularly urged by the Canadian
voyageurs, with whom New-Year's day is a favorite festival; and
who never willingly give up a holiday, under any circumstances.
There was no resisting such an application; so the day was passed
in repose and revelry; the poor Canadians contrived to sing and
dance in defiance of all their hardships; and there was a
sumptuous New-Year's banquet of dog's meat and horse flesh.

After two days of welcome rest, the travellers addressed
themselves once more to the painful journey. The Indians of the
lodges pointed out a distant gap through which they must pass in
traversing the ridge of mountains. They assured them that they
would be but little incommoded by snow, and in three days would
arrive among the Sciatogas. Mr. Hunt, however, had been so
frequently deceived by Indian accounts of routes and distances,
that he gave but little faith to this information.

The travellers continued their course due west for five days,
crossing the valley and entering the mountains. Here the
travelling became excessively toilsome, across rough stony
ridges, and amidst fallen trees. They were often knee deep in
snow, and sometimes in the hollows between the ridges sank up to
their waists. The weather was extremely cold; the sky covered
with clouds so that for days they had not a glimpse of the sun.
In traversing the highest ridge they had a wide but chilling
prospect over a wilderness of snowy mountains.

On the 6th of January, however, they had crossed the dividing
summit of the chain, and were evidently under the influence of a
milder climate. The snow began to decrease; the sun once more
emerged from the thick canopy of clouds, and shone cheeringly
upon them, and they caught a sight of what appeared to be a
plain, stretching out in the west. They hailed it as the poor
Israelites hailed the first glimpse of the promised land, for
they flattered themselves that this might be the great plain of
the Columbia, and that their painful pilgrimage might be drawing
to a close,

It was now five days since they had left the lodges of the
Shoshonies, during which they had come about sixty miles, and
their guide assured them that in the course of the next day they
would see the Sciatogas.

On the following morning, therefore, they pushed forward with
eagerness, and soon fell upon a stream which led them through a
deep narrow defile, between stupendous ridges. Here among the
rocks and precipices they saw gangs of that mountain-loving
animal, the black-tailed deer, and came to where great tracks of
horses were to be seen in all directions, made by the Indian

The snow had entirely disappeared, and the hopes of soon coming
upon some Indian encampment induced Mr. Hunt to press on. Many of
the men, however, were so enfeebled that they could not keep up
with the main body, but lagged at intervals behind; and some of
them did not arrive at the night encampment. In the course of
this day's march the recently-born child of Pierre Dorion died.

The march was resumed early the next morning, without waiting for
the stragglers. The stream which they had followed throughout the
preceding day was now swollen by the influx of another river; the
declivities of the hills were green and the valleys were clothed
with grass. At length the jovial cry was given of "an Indian
camp!" It was yet in the distance, In the bosom of the green
valley, but they could perceive that it consisted of numerous
lodges, and that hundreds of horses were grazing the grassy
meadows around it. The prospect of abundance of horse flesh
diffused universal joy, for by this time the whole stock of
travelling provisions was reduced to the skeleton steed of Pierre
Dorion, and another wretched animal, equally emaciated, that had
been repeatedly reprieved during the journey.

A forced march soon brought the weary and hungry travellers to
the camp. It proved to be a strong party of Sciatogas and Tusche-
pas. There were thirty-four lodges, comfortably constructed of
mats; the Indians, too, were better clothed than any of the
wandering bands they had hitherto met on this side of the Rocky
Mountains. Indeed, they were as well clad as the generality of
the wild hunter tribes. Each had a good buffalo or deer skin
robe; and a deer skin hunting shirt and leggins. Upwards of two
thousand horses were ranging the pastures around their
encampment; but what delighted Mr. Hunt was, on entering the
lodges, to behold brass kettles, axes, copper tea-kettles, and
various other articles of civilized manufacture, which showed
that these Indians had an indirect communication with the people
of the sea-coast who traded with the whites. He made eager
inquiries of the Sciatogas, and gathered from them that the great
river (the Columbia) was but two days' march distant, and that
several white people had recently descended it; who he hoped
might prove to be M'Lellan, M'Kenzie, and their companions.

It was with the utmost joy and the most profound gratitude to
heaven, that Mr. Hunt found himself and his band of weary and
famishing wanderers thus safely extricated from the most perilous
part of their long journey, and within the prospect of a
termination of their tolls. All the stragglers who had lagged
behind arrived, one after another, excepting the poor Canadian
voyageur, Carriere. He had been seen late in the preceding
afternoon, riding behind a Snake Indian, near some lodges of that
nation, a few miles distant from the last night's encampment; and
it was expected that he would soon make his appearance. The first
object of Mr. Hunt was to obtain provisions for his men. A little
venison, of an indifferent quality, and some roots were all that
could be procured that evening; but the next day he succeeded in
purchasing a mare and colt, which were immediately killed, and
the cravings of the half-starved people in some degree appeased.

For several days they remained in the neighborhood of these
Indians, reposing after all their hardships, and feasting upon
horse flesh and roots, obtained in subsequent traffic. Many of
the people ate to such excess as to render themselves sick,
others were lame from their past journey; but all gradually
recruited in the repose and abundance of the valley. Horses were
obtained here much more readily, and at a cheaper rate, than
among the Snakes. A blanket, a knife, or a half pound of blue
beads would purchase a steed, and at this rate many of the men
bought horses for their individual use.

This tribe of Indians, who are represented as a proud-spirited
race, and uncommonly cleanly, never eat horses or dogs, nor would
they permit the raw flesh of either to be brought into their
huts. They had a small quantity of venison in each lodge, but set
so high a price upon it that the white men, in their impoverished
state could not afford to purchase it. They hunted the deer on
horseback, "ringing," or surrounding them, and running them down
in a circle. They were admirable horsemen, and their weapons were
bows and arrows, which they managed with great dexterity. They
were altogether primitive in their habits, and seemed to cling to
the usages of savage life, even when possessed of the aids of
civilization. They had axes among them, yet they generally made
use of a stone mallet wrought into the shape of a bottle, and
wedges of elk horn, in splitting their wood. Though they might
have two or three brass kettles hanging, in their lodges, yet
they would frequently use vessels made of willow, for carrying
water, and would even boll their meat in them, by means of hot
stones. Their women wore caps of willow neatly worked and

As Carriere, the Canadian straggler, did not make his appearance
for two or three days after the encampment in the valley two men
were sent out on horseback in search of him. They returned,
however, without success. The lodges of the Snake Indians near
which he had been seen were removed, and the could find no trace
of him. Several days more elapsed, yet nothing was seen or heard
of him, or the Snake horseman, behind whom he had been last
observed. It was feared, therefore, that he had either perished
through hunger and fatigue; had been murdered by the Indians; or,
being left to himself, had mistaken some hunting tracks for the
trail of the party, and been led astray and lost.

The river on the banks of which they were encamped, emptied into
the Columbia, was called by the natives the Eu-o-tal-la, or
Umatilla, and abounded with beaver. In the course of their
sojourn in the valley which it watered, they twice shifted their
camp, proceeding about thirty miles down its course, which was to
the west. A heavy fall of rain caused the river to overflow its
banks, dislodged them from their encampment, and drowned three of
their horses which were tethered in the low ground.

Further conversation with the Indians satisfied them that they
were in the neighborhood of the Columbia. The number of the white
men who they said had passed down the river, agreed with that of
M'Lellan, M'Kenzie, and their companions, and increased the hope
of Mr. Hunt that they might have passed through the wilderness
with safety.

These Indians had a vague story that white men were coming to
trade among them; and they often spoke of two great men named Ke-
Koosh and Jacquean, who gave them tobacco, and smoked with them.
Jacquean, they said, had a house somewhere upon the great river.
Some of the Canadians supposed they were speaking of one Jacquean
Finlay, a clerk of the Northwest Company, and inferred that the
house must be some trading post on one of the tributary streams
of the Columbia. The Indians were overjoyed when they found this
band of white men intended to return and trade with them. They
promised to use all diligence in collecting quantities of beaver
skins, and no doubt proceeded to make deadly war upon that
sagacious, but ill-fated animal, who, in general, lived in
peaceful insignificance among his Indian neighbors, before the
intrusion of the white trader. On the 20th of January, Mr. Hunt
took leave of these friendly Indians, and of the river on which
they encamped, and continued westward.

At length, on the following day, the wayworn travellers lifted up
their eyes and beheld before them the long-sought waters of the
Columbia. The sight was hailed with as much transport as if they
had already reached the end of their pilgrimage; nor can we
wonder at their joy. Two hundred and forty miles had they
marched, through wintry wastes and rugged mountains, since
leaving Snake River; and six months of perilous wayfaring had
they experienced since their departure from the Arickara village
on the Missouri. Their whole route by land and water from that
point had been, according to their computation, seventeen hundred
and fifty-one miles, in the course of which they had endured all
kinds of hardships. In fact, the necessity of avoiding the
dangerous country of the Blackfeet had obliged them to make a
bend to the south and traverse a great additional extent of
unknown wilderness.

The place where they struck the Columbia was some distance below
the junction of its two great branches, Lewis and Clarke rivers,
and not far from the influx of the Wallah-Wallah. It was a
beautiful stream, three-quarters of a mile wide, totally free
from trees; bordered in some places with steep rocks, in others
with pebbled shores.

On the banks of the Columbia they found a miserable horde of
Indians, called Akai-chies, with no clothing but a scanty mantle
of the skins of animals, and sometimes a pair of sleeves of
wolf's skin. Their lodges were shaped like a tent, and very light
and warm, being covered with mats and rushes; besides which they
had excavations in the ground, lined with mats, and occupied by
the women, who were even more slightly clad than the men. These
people subsisted chiefly by fishing; having canoes of a rude
construction, being merely the trunks of pine trees split and
hollowed out by fire. Their lodges were well stored with dried
salmon, and they had great quantities of fresh salmon trout of an
excellent flavor, taken at the mouth of the Umatilla; of which
the travellers obtained a most acceptable supply.

Finding that the road was on the north side of the river, Mr.
Hunt crossed, and continued five or six days travelling rather
slowly down along its banks, being much delayed by the straying
of the horses, and the attempts made by the Indians to steal
them. They frequently passed lodges, where they obtained fish and
dogs. At one place the natives had just returned from hunting,
and had brought back a large quantity of elk and deer meat, but
asked so high a price for it as to be beyond the funds of the
travellers, so they had to content themselves with dog's flesh.
They had by this time, however, come to consider it very choice
food, superior to horse flesh, and the minutes of the expedition
speak rather exultingly now and then, of their having made a
famous "repast," where this viand happened to be unusually

They again learnt tidings of some of the scattered members of the
expedition, supposed to be M'Kenzie, M'Lellan, and their men, who
had preceded them down the river, and had overturned one of their
canoes, by which they lost many articles. All these floating
pieces of intelligence of their fellow adventurers, who had
separated from them in the heart of the wilderness, they received
with eager interest.

The weather continued to be temperate, marking the superior
softness of the climate on this side of the mountains. For a
great part of the time, the days were delightfully mild and
clear, like the serene days of October on the Atlantic borders.
The country in general, in the neighborhood of the river, was a
continual plain, low near the water, but rising gradually;
destitute of trees, and almost without shrubs or plants of any
kind, excepting a few willow bushes. After travelling about sixty
miles, they came to where the country became very hilly and the
river made its way between rocky banks and down numerous rapids.
The Indians in this vicinity were better clad and altogether in
more prosperous condition than those above, and, as Mr. Hunt
thought, showed their consciousness of ease by something like
sauciness of manner. Thus prosperity is apt to produce arrogance
in savage as well as in civilized life. In both conditions, man
is an animal that will not bear pampering.

From these people Mr. Hunt for the first time received vague but
deeply interesting intelligence of that part of the enterprise
which had proceeded by sea to the mouth of the Columbia. The
Indians spoke of a number of white men who had built a large
house at the mouth of the great river, and surrounded it with
palisades. None of them had been down to Astoria themselves; but
rumors spread widely and rapidly from mouth to mouth among the
Indian tribes, and are carried to the heart of the interior by
hunting parties and migratory hordes.

The establishment of a trading emporium at such a point, also,
was calculated to cause a sensation to the most remote parts of
the vast wilderness beyond the mountains. It in a manner struck
the pulse of the great vital river, and vibrated up all its
tributary streams.

It is surprising to notice how well this remote tribe of savages
had learnt, through intermediate gossips, the private feelings of
the colonists at Astoria; it shows that Indians are not the
incurious and indifferent observers that they have been
represented. They told Mr. Hunt that the white people at the
large house had been looking anxiously for many of their friends,
whom they had expected to descend the great river; and had been
in much affliction, fearing that they were lost. Now, however,
the arrival of him and his party would wipe away all their tears,
and they would dance and sing for joy.

On the 31st of January, Mr. Hunt arrived at the falls of the
Columbia, and encamped at the village of the Wish-ram, situated
at the head of that dangerous pass of the river called "the Long


The Village of Wish-ram.- Roguery of the Inhabitants.- Their
Habitations.- Tidings of Astoria.- Of the Tonquin Massacre.-
Thieves About the Camp.-A Band of Braggarts- Embarkation.-
Arrival at Astoria.-A Joyful Reception.- Old Comrades- Adventures
of Reed, M'Lellan, and M'Kenzie Among the Snake River Mountains.-
Rejoicing at Astoria.

0F the village of Wish-ram, the aborigines' fishing mart of the
Columbia, we have given some account in an early chapter of this
work. The inhabitants held a traffic in the productions of the
fisheries of the falls, and their village was the trading resort
of the tribes from the coast and from the mountains. Mr. Hunt
found the inhabitants shrewder and more intelligent than any
Indians he had met with. Trade had sharpened their wits, though
it had not improved their honesty; for they were a community of
arrant rogues and freebooters. Their habitations comported with
their circumstances, and were superior to any the travellers had
yet seen west of the Rocky Mountains. In general, the dwellings
of the savages on the Pacific side of that great barrier were
mere tents and cabins of mats, or skins, or straw, the country
being destitute of timber. In Wish-ram, on the contrary, the
houses were built of wood, with long sloping roofs. The floor was
sunk about six feet below the surface of the ground, with a low
door at the gable end, extremely narrow, and partly sunk. Through
this it was necessary to crawl and then to descend a short
ladder. This inconvenient entrance was probably for the purpose
of defense; there were loop-holes also under the eaves,
apparently for the discharge of arrows. The houses were large,
generally containing two or three families. Immediately within
the door were sleeping places, ranged along the walls, like
berths in a ship; and furnished with pallets of matting. These
extended along one half of the building; the remaining half was
appropriated to the storing of dried fish.

The trading operations of the inhabitants of Wish-ram had given
them a wider scope of information, and rendered their village a
kind of headquarters of intelligence. Mr. Hunt was able,
therefore, to collect more distinct tidings concerning the
settlement of Astoria and its affairs. One of the inhabitants had
been at the trading post established by David Stuart on the
Oakinagan, and had picked up a few words of English there. From
him, Mr. Hunt gleaned various particulars about that
establishment, as well as about the general concerns of the
enterprise. Others repeated the name of Mr. M'Kay, the partner
who perished in the massacre on board of the Tonquin, and gave
some account of that melancholy affair. They said Mr. M'Kay was a
chief among the white men, and had built a great house at the
mouth of the river, but had left it and sailed away in a large
ship to the northward where he had been attacked by bad Indians
in canoes. Mr. Hunt was startled by this intelligence, and made
further inquiries. They informed him that the Indians had lashed
their canoes to the ship, and fought until they killed him and
all his people. This is another instance of the clearness with
which intelligence is transmitted from mouth to mouth among the
Indian tribes. These tidings, though but partially credited by
Mr. Hunt, filled his mind with anxious forebodings. He now
endeavored to procure canoes, in which to descend the Columbia,
but none suitable for the purpose were to be obtained above the
Narrows; he continued on, therefore, the distance of twelve
miles, and encamped on the bank of the river. The camp was soon
surrounded by loitering savages, who went prowling about seeking
what they might pilfer. Being baffled by the vigilance of the
guard, they endeavored to compass their ends by other means.
Towards evening, a number of warriors entered the camp in
ruffling style; painted and dressed out as if for battle, and
armed with lances, bows and arrows, and scalping knives. They
informed Mr. Hunt that a party of thirty or forty braves were
coming up from a village below to attack the camp and carry off
the horses, but that they were determined to stay with him and
defend him. Mr. Hunt received them with great coldness, and, when
they had finished their story, gave them a pipe to smoke. He then
called up all hands, stationed sentinels in different quarters,
but told them to keep as vigilant an eye within the camp as

The warriors were evidently baffled by these precautions, and,
having smoked their pipe, and vapored off their valor, took their
departure. The farce, however, did not end here. After a little
while the warriors returned, ushering in another savage, still
more heroically arrayed. This they announced as the chief of the
belligerent village, but as a great pacificator. His people had
been furiously bent upon the attack, and would have doubtless
carried it into effect, but this gallant chief had stood forth as
the friend of white men, and had dispersed the throng by his own
authority and prowess. Having vaunted this signal piece of
service, there was a significant pause; all evidently expecting
some adequate reward. Mr. Hunt again produced the pipe, smoked
with the chieftain and his worthy compeers; but made no further
demonstrations of gratitude. They remained about the camp all
night, but at daylight returned, baffled and crestfallen, to
their homes, with nothing but smoke for their pains.

Mr. Hunt now endeavored to procure canoes, of which he saw
several about the neighborhood, extremely well made, with
elevated stems and sterns, some of them capable of carrying three
thousand pounds weight. He found it extremely difficult, however,
to deal with these slippery people, who seemed much more inclined
to pilfer. Notwithstanding a strict guard maintained round the
camp, various implements were stolen, and several horses carried
off. Among the latter, we have to include the long-cherished
steed of Pierre Dorion. From some wilful caprice, that worthy
pitched his tent at some distance from the main body, and
tethered his invaluable steed beside it, from whence it was
abstracted in the night, to the infinite chagrin and
mortification of the hybrid interpreter.

Having, after several days' negotiation, procured the requisite
number of canoes, Mr. Hunt would gladly have left this thievish
neighborhood, but was detained until the 5th of February by
violent head winds, accompanied by snow and rain. Even after he
was enabled to get under way, he had still to struggle against
contrary winds and tempestuous weather. The current of the river,
however, was in his favor; having made a portage at the grand
rapid, the canoes met with no further obstruction, and, on the
afternoon of the 15th of February, swept round an intervening
cape, and came in sight of the infant settlement of Astoria.
After eleven months wandering in the wilderness, a great part of
the time over trackless wastes, where the sight of a savage
wigwam was a rarity, we may imagine the delight of the poor
weatherbeaten travellers, at beholding the embryo establishment,
with its magazines, habitations, and picketed bulwarks, seated on
a high point of land, dominating a beautiful little bay, in which
was a trim-built shallop riding quietly at anchor. A shout of joy
burst from each canoe at the long-wished-for sight. They urged
their canoes across the bay, and pulled with eagerness for shore,
where all hands poured down from the settlement to receive and
welcome them. Among the first to greet them on their landing,
were some of their old comrades and fellow-sufferers, who, under
the conduct of Reed, M'Lellan, and M'Kenzie, had parted from them
at the Caldron Linn. These had reached Astoria nearly a month
previously, and, judging from their own narrow escape from
starvation, had given up Mr. Hunt and his followers as lost.
Their greeting was the more warm and cordial. As to the Canadian
voyageurs, their mutual felicitations, as usual, were loud and
vociferous, and it was almost ludicrous to behold these ancient
"comrades" and "confreres," hugging and kissing each other on the
river bank.

When the first greetings were over, the different bands
interchanged accounts of their several wanderings, after
separating at Snake River; we shall briefly notice a few of the
leading particulars. It will be recollected by the reader, that a
small exploring detachment had proceeded down the river, under
the conduct of Mr. John Reed, a clerk of the company; that
another had set off under M'Lellan, and a third in a different
direction, under M'Kenzie. After wandering for several days
without meeting with Indians, or obtaining any supplies, they
came together fortuitously among the Snake River mountains, some
distance below that disastrous pass or strait which had received
the appellation of the Devil's Scuttle Hole.

When thus united, their party consisted of M'Kenzie, M'Lellan,
Reed, and eight men, chiefly Canadians. Being all in the same
predicament, without horses, provisions, or information of any
kind, they all agreed that it would be worse than useless to
return to Mr. Hunt and encumber him with so many starving men,
and that their only course was to extricate themselves as soon as
possible from this land of famine and misery and make the best of
their way for the Columbia. They accordingly continued to follow
the downward course of Snake River; clambering rocks and
mountains, and defying all the difficulties and dangers of that
rugged defile, which subsequently, when the snows had fallen, was
found impassable by Messrs. Hunt and Crooks.

Though constantly near to the borders of the river, and for a
great part of the time within sight of its current, one of their
greatest sufferings was thirst. The river had worn its way in a
deep channel through rocky mountains, destitute of brooks or
springs. Its banks were so high and precipitous, that there was
rarely any place where the travellers could get down to drink of
its waters. Frequently they suffered for miles the torments of
Tantalus; water continually within sight, yet fevered with the
most parching thirst. Here and there they met with rainwater
collected in the hollows of the rocks, but more than once they
were reduced to the utmost extremity; and some of the men had
recourse to the last expedient to avoid perishing.

Their sufferings from hunger were equally severe. They could meet
with no game, and subsisted for a time on strips of beaver skin,
broiled on the coals. These were doled out in scanty allowances,
barely sufficient to keep up existence, and at length failed them
altogether. Still they crept feebly on, scarce dragging one limb
after another, until a severe snow-storm brought them to a pause.
To struggle against it, in their exhausted condition, was
impossible, so cowering under an impending rock at the foot of a
steep mountain, they prepared themselves for that wretched fate
which seemed inevitable.

At this critical juncture, when famine stared them in the face,
M'Lellan casting up his eyes, beheld an ahsahta, or bighorn,
sheltering itself under a shelving rock on the side of the hill
above them. Being in a more active plight than any of his
comrades, and an excellent marksman, he set off to get within
shot of the animal. His companions watched his movements with
breathless anxiety, for their lives depended upon his success. He
made a cautious circuit; scrambled up the hill with the utmost
silence, and at length arrived, unperceived, within a proper
distance. Here leveling his rifle he took so sure an aim, that
the bighorn fell dead on the spot; a fortunate circumstance, for,
to pursue it, if merely wounded, would have been impossible in
his emaciated state. The declivity of the hill enabled him to
roll the carcass down to his companions, who were too feeble to
climb the rocks. They fell to work to cut it up; yet exerted a
remarkable self-denial for men in their starving condition, for
they contented themselves for the present with a soup made from
the bones, reserving the flesh for future repasts. This
providential relief gave them strength to pursue their journey,
but they were frequently reduced to almost equal straits, and it
was only the smallness of their party, requiring a small supply
of provisions, that enabled them to get through this desolate
region with their lives.

At length, after twenty-one days of to 11 and suffering, they got
through these mountains, and arrived at a tributary stream of
that branch of the Columbia called Lewis River, of which Snake
River forms the southern fork. In this neighborhood they met with
wild horses, the first they had seen west of the Rocky Mountains.
From hence they made their way to Lewis River, where they fell in
with a friendly tribe of Indians, who freely administered to
their necessities. On this river they procured two canoes, in
which they dropped down the stream to its confluence with the
Columbia, and then down that river to Astoria, where they arrived
haggard and emaciated, and perfectly in rags.

Thus, all the leading persons of Mr. Hunt's expedition were once
more gathered together, excepting Mr. Crooks, of whose safety
they entertained but little hope, considering the feeble
condition in which they had been compelled to leave him in the
heart of the wilderness.

A day was now given up to jubilee, to celebrate the arrival of
Mr. Hunt and his companions, and the joyful meeting of the
various scattered bands of adventurers at Astoria. The colors
were hoisted; the guns, great and small, were fired; there was a
feast of fish, of beaver, and venison, which relished well with
men who had so long been glad to revel on horse flesh and dogs'
meat; a genial allowance of grog was issued, to increase the
general animation, and the festivities wound up, as usual, with a
grand dance at night, by the Canadian voyageurs. *

*The distance from St. Louis to Astoria, by the route travelled
by Hunt and M'Kenzie, was upwards of thirty-five hundred miles,
though in a direct line it does not exceed eighteen hundred.

Scanty Fare During the Winter.- A Poor Hunting Ground.- The
Return of the Fishing Season.- The Uthlecan or Smelt.- Its
Qualities. - Vast Shoals of it.- Sturgeon.- Indian Modes of
Taking It.- The Salmon- Different Species.- Nature of the Country
About the Coast. -Forests and Forest Trees.- A Remarkable
Flowering Vine.- Animals. - Birds.- Reptiles - Climate West of
the Mountains - Mildness of the Temperature.- Soil of the Coast
and the Interior.

THE winter passed away tranquilly at Astoria. The apprehensions
of hostility from the natives had subsided; indeed, as the season
advanced, the Indians for the most part had disappeared from the
neighborhood, and abandoned the sea-coast, so that, for want of
their aid, the colonists had at times suffered considerably for
want of provisions. The hunters belonging to the establishment
made frequent and wide excursions, but with very moderate
success. There were some deer and a few bears to be found in the
vicinity, and elk in great numbers; the country, however, was so
rough, and the woods so close and entangled that it was almost
impossible to beat up the game. The prevalent rains of winter,
also, rendered it difficult for the hunter to keep his arms in
order. The quantity of game, therefore, brought in by the hunters
was extremely scanty, and it was frequently necessary to put all
hands on very moderate allowance. Towards spring, however, the
fishing season commenced - the season of plenty on the Columbia.
About the beginning of February, a small kind of fish, about six
inches long, called by the natives the uthlecan, and resembling
the smelt, made its appearance at the mouth of the river. It is
said to be of delicious flavor, and so fat as to burn like a
candle, for which it is often used by the natives. It enters the
river in immense shoals, like solid columns, often extending to
the depth of five or more feet, and is scooped up by the natives
with small nets at the end of poles. In this way they will soon
fill a canoe, or form a great heap upon the river banks. These
fish constitute a principal article of their food; the women
drying them and stringing them on cords. As the uthlecan is only
found in the lower part of the river, the arrival of it soon
brought back the natives to the coast; who again resorted to the
factory to trade, and from that time furnished plentiful supplies
of fish.

The sturgeon makes its appearance in the river shortly after the
uthlecan, and is taken in different ways by the natives:
sometimes they spear it; but oftener they use the hook and line,
and the net. Occasionally, they sink a cord in the river by a
heavy weight, with a buoy at the upper end, to keep floating. To
this cord several hooks are attached by short lines, a few feet
distant from each other, and baited with small fish. This
apparatus is often set towards night, and by the next morning
several sturgeon will be found hooked by it; for though a large
and strong fish, it makes but little resistance when ensnared.

The salmon, which are the prime fish of the Columbia, and as
important to the piscatory tribes as are the buffaloes to the
hunters of the prairies, do not enter the river until towards the
latter part of May, from which time, until the middle of August,
they abound and are taken in vast quantities, either with the
spear or seine, and mostly in shallow water. An inferior species
succeeds, and continues from August to December. It is remarkable
for having a double row of teeth, half an inch long and extremely
sharp, from whence it has received the name of the dog-toothed
salmon. It is generally killed with the spear in small rivulets,
and smoked for winter provision. We have noticed in a former
chapter the mode in which the salmon are taken and cured at the
falls of the Columbia; and put tip in parcels for exportation.
From these different fisheries of the river tribes, the
establishment at Astoria had to derive much of its precarious
supplies of provisions.

A year's residence at the mouth of the Columbia, and various
expeditions in the interior, had now given the Astorians some
idea of the country. The whole coast is described as remarkably
rugged and mountainous; with dense forests of hemlock, spruce,
white and red cedar, cotton-wood, white oak, white and swamp ash,
willow, and a few walnut. There is likewise an undergrowth of
aromatic shrubs, creepers, and clambering vines, that render the
forests almost impenetrable; together with berries of various
kinds, such as gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, both red
and yellow, very large and finely flavored whortleberries,
cranberries, serviceberries, blackberries, currants, sloes, and
wild and choke cherries.

Among the flowering vines is one deserving of particular notice.
Each flower is composed of six leaves or petals, about three
inches in length, of a beautiful crimson, the inside spotted with
white. Its leaves, of a fine green, are oval, and disposed by
threes. This plant climbs upon the trees without attaching itself
to them; when it has reached the topmost branches, it descends
perpendicularly, and as it continues to grow, extends from tree
to tree, until its various stalks interlace the grove like the
rigging of a ship. The stems or trunks of this vine are tougher
and more flexible than willow, and are from fifty to one hundred
fathoms in length. From the fibres, the Indians manufacture
baskets of such close texture as to hold water.

The principal quadrupeds that had been seen by the colonists in
their various expeditions were the stag, fallow deer, hart, black
and grizzly bear, antelope, ahsahta or bighorn, beaver, sea and
river otter, muskrat, fox, wolf, and panther, the latter
extremely rare. The only domestic animals among the natives were
horses and dogs.

The country abounded with aquatic and land birds, such as swans,
wild geese, brant, ducks of almost every description, pelicans,
herons, gulls, snipes, curlews, eagles, vultures, crows, ravens,
magpies, woodpeckers, pigeons, partridges, pheasants, grouse, and
a great variety of singing birds.

There were few reptiles; the only dangerous kinds were the
rattlesnake, and one striped with black, yellow, and white, about
four feet long. Among the lizard kind was one about nine or ten
inches in length, exclusive of the tall, and three inches in
circumference. The tail was round, and of the same length as the
body. The head was triangular, covered with small square scales.
The upper part of the body was likewise covered with small
scales, green, yellow, black, and blue. Each foot had five toes,
furnished with strong nails, probably to aid it in burrowing, as
it usually lived under ground on the plains.

A remarkable fact, characteristic of the country west of the
Rocky Mountains, is the mildness and equability of the climate.
The great mountain barrier seems to divide the continent into
different climates, even in the same degrees of latitude. The
rigorous winters and sultry summers, and all the capricious
inequalities of temperature prevalent on the Atlantic side of the
mountains, are but little felt on their western declivities. The
countries between them and the Pacific are blessed with milder
and steadier temperature, resembling the climates of parallel
latitudes in Europe. In the plains and valleys but little snow
falls throughout the winter, and usually melts while falling. It
rarely lies on the ground more than two days at a time, except on
the summits of the mountains. The winters are rainy rather than
cold. The rains for five months, from the middle of October to
the middle of March, are almost incessant, and often accompanied
by tremendous thunder and lightning. The winds prevalent at this
season are from the south and southeast, which usually bring
rain. Those from the north to the southwest are the harbingers of
fair weather and a clear sky. The residue of the year, from the
middle of March to the middle of October, an interval of seven
months, is serene and delightful. There is scarcely any rain
throughout this time, yet the face of the country is kept fresh
and verdant by nightly dews, and occasionally by humid fogs in
the mornings. These are not considered prejudicial to health,
since both the natives and the whites sleep in the open air with
perfect impunity. While this equable and bland temperature
prevails throughout the lower country, the peaks and ridges of
the vast mountains by which it is dominated, are covered with
perpetual snow. This renders them discernible at a great
distance, shining at times like bright summer clouds, at other
times assuming the most aerial tints, and always forming
brilliant and striking features in the vast landscape. The mild
temperature prevalent throughout the country is attributed by
some to the succession of winds from the Pacific Ocean, extending
from latitude twenty degrees to at least fifty degrees north.
These temper the heat of summer, so that in the shade no one is
incommoded by perspiration; they also soften the rigors of
winter, and produce such a moderation in the climate, that the
inhabitants can wear the same dress throughout the year.

The soil in the neighborhood of the sea-coast is of a brown
color, inclining to red, and generally poor; being a mixture of
clay and gravel. In the interior, and especially in the valleys
of the Rocky Mountains, the soil is generally blackish, though
sometimes yellow. It is frequently mixed with marl, and with
marine substances in a state of decomposition. This kind of soil
extends to a considerable depth, as may be perceived in the deep
cuts made by ravines, and by the beds of rivers. The vegetation
in these valleys is much more abundant than near the coast; in
fact, it is these fertile intervals, locked up between rocky
sierras, or scooped out from barren wastes, that population must
extend itself, as it were, in veins and ramifications, if ever
the regions beyond the mountains should become civilized.


Natives in the Neighborhood of Astoria- Their Persons and
Characteristics. - Causes of Deformity -- Their Dress. - Their
Contempt of Beards- Ornaments- Armor and Weapons.-Mode of
Flattening the Head.- Extent of the Custom.- Religious Belief.-
The Two Great Spirits of the Air and of the Fire.- Priests or
Medicine Men.- The Rival Idols.- Polygamy a Cause of Greatness-
Petty Warfare.- Music, Dancing, Gambling.- Thieving a Virtue.-
Keen Traders- Intrusive Habits - Abhorrence of Drunkenness-
Anecdote of Comcomly.

A BRIEF mention has already been made of the tribes or hordes
existing about the lower part of the Columbia at the time of the
settlement; a few more particulars concerning them may be
acceptable. The four tribes nearest to Astoria, and with whom the
traders had most intercourse, were, as has heretofore been
observed, the Chinooks, the Clatsops, the Wahkiacums, and the
Cathlamets. The Chinooks reside chiefly along the banks of a
river of the same name, running parallel to the sea-coast,
through a low country studded with stagnant pools, and emptying
itself into Baker's Bay, a few miles from Cape Disappointment.
This was the tribe over which Comcomly, the one-eyed chieftain,
held sway; it boasted two hundred and fourteen fighting men.
Their chief subsistence was on fish, with an occasional regale of
the flesh of elk and deer, and of wild-fowl from the neighboring

The Clatsops resided on both sides of Point Adams; they were the
mere relics of a tribe which had been nearly swept off by the
small-pox, and did not number more than one hundred and eighty
fighting men.

The Wahkiacums, or Waak-i-cums, inhabited the north side of the
Columbia, and numbered sixty-six warriors. They and the Chinooks
were originally the same; but a dispute arising about two
generations previous to the time of the settlement, between the
ruling chief and his brother Wahkiacum, the latter seceded, and
with his adherents formed the present horde which continues to go
by his name. In this way new tribes or clans are formed, and
lurking causes of hostility engendered.

The Cathlamets lived opposite to the lower village of the
Wahkiacums, and numbered ninety-four warriors.

These four tribes, or rather clans, have every appearance of
springing from the same origin, resembling each other in person,
dress, language, and manners. They are rather a diminutive race,
generally below five feet five inches, with crooked legs and
thick ankles - a deformity caused by their passing so much of
their time sitting or squatting upon the calves of their legs and
their heels, in the bottom of their canoes - a favorite position,
which they retain, even when on shore. The women increase the
deformity by wearing tight bandages round the ankles, which
prevent the circulation of the blood, and cause a swelling of the
muscles of the leg.

Neither sex can boast of personal beauty. Their faces are round,
with small but animated eyes. Their noses are broad and flat at
top, and fleshy at the end, with large nostrils. They have wide
mouths, thick lips, and short, irregular and dirty teeth. Indeed
good teeth are seldom to be seen among the tribes west of the
Rocky Mountains, who live simply on fish.

In the early stages of their intercourse with white men, these
savages were but scantily clad. In summer time the men went
entirely naked; in the winter and in bad weather the men wore a
small robe, reaching to the middle of the thigh, made of the
skins of animals, or of the wool of the mountain sheep.
Occasionally, they wore a kind of mantle of matting, to keep off
the rain but, having thus protected the back and shoulders, they
left the rest of the body naked.

The women wore similar robes, though shorter, not reaching below
the waist; besides which, they had a kind of petticoat, or
fringe, reaching from the waist to the knee, formed of the fibres
of cedar bark, broken into strands, or a tissue of silk grass
twisted and knotted at the ends. This was the usual dress of the
women in summer; should the weather be inclement, they added a
vest of skins, similar to the robe.

The men carefully eradicated every vestige of a beard,
considering it a great deformity. They looked with disgust at the
whiskers and well-furnished chins of the white men, and in
derision called them Long-beards. Both sexes, on the other hand,
cherished the hair of the head, which with them is generally
black and rather coarse. They allowed it to grow to a great
length and were very proud and careful of it, sometimes wearing
it plaited, sometimes wound round the head in fanciful tresses.
No greater affront could be offered to them than to cut off their
treasured locks.

They had conical hats with narrow rims, neatly woven of bear
grass or of the fibres of cedar bark, interwoven with designs of
various shapes and colors; sometimes merely squares and
triangles, at other times rude representations of canoes, with
men fishing and harpooning. These hats were nearly waterproof,
and extremely durable.

The favorite ornaments of the men were collars of bears' claws,
the proud trophies of hunting exploits; while the women and
children wore similar decorations of elks' tusks. An intercourse
with the white traders, however, soon effected a change in the
toilets of both sexes. They became fond of arraying themselves in
any article of civilized dress which they could procure, and
often made a most grotesque appearance. They adapted many
articles of finery, also, to their own previous tastes. Both
sexes were fond of adorning themselves with bracelets of iron,
brass, or copper. They were delighted, also, with blue and white
beads, particularly the former, and wore broad tight bands of
them round the waist and ankles, large rolls of them round the
neck, and pendants of them in the ears. The men, especially, who
in savage life carry a passion for personal decoration further
than the females, did not think their gala equipments complete
unless they had a jewel of hiaqua, or wampum, dangling at the
nose. Thus arrayed, their hair besmeared with fish oil, and their
bodies bedaubed with red clay, they considered themselves

When on warlike expeditions, they painted their faces and bodies
in the most hideous and grotesque manner, according to the
universal practice of American savages. Their arms were bows and
arrows, spears, and war clubs. Some wore a corselet of pieces of
hard wood laced together with bear grass, so as to form a light
coat of mail, pliant to the body; and a kind of casque of cedar
bark, leather, and bear grass, sufficient to protect the head
from an arrow or war club. A more complete article of defensive
armor was a buff jerkin or shirt of great thickness, made of
doublings of elk skin, and reaching to the feet, holes being left
for the head and arms. This was perfectly arrowproof; add to
which, it was often endowed with charmed virtues, by the spells
and mystic ceremonials of the medicine man, or conjurer.

Of the peculiar custom, prevalent among these people, of
flattening the head, we have already spoken. It is one of those
instances of human caprice, like the crippling of the feet of
females in China, which are quite incomprehensible. This custom
prevails principally among the tribes on the sea-coast, and about
the lower parts of the rivers. How far it extends along the coast
we are not able to ascertain. Some of the tribes, both north and
south of the Columbia, practice it; but they all speak the
Chinook language, and probably originated from the same stock. As
far as we can learn, the remoter tribes, which speak an entirely
different language, do not flatten the head. This absurd custom
declines, also, in receding from the shores of the Pacific; few
traces of it are to be found among the tribes of the Rocky
Mountains, and after crossing the mountains it disappears
altogether. Those Indians, therefore, about the head waters of
the Columbia, and in the solitary mountain regions, who are often
called Flatheads, must not be supposed to be characterized by
this deformity. It is an appellation often given by the hunters
east of the mountain chain, to all western Indians, excepting the

The religious belief of these people was extremely limited and
confined; or rather, in all probability, their explanations were
but little understood by their visitors. They had an idea of a
benevolent and omnipotent spirit, the creator of all things. They
represent him as assuming various shapes at pleasure, but
generally that of an immense bird. He usually inhabits the sun,
but occasionally wings his way through the aerial regions, and
sees all that is doing upon earth. Should anything displease him,
he vents his wrath in terrific storms and tempests, the lightning
being the flashes of his eyes, and the thunder the clapping of
his wings. To propitiate his favor they offer to him annual
sacrifices of salmon and venison, the first fruits of their
fishing and hunting.

Besides this aerial spirit they believe in an inferior one, who
inhabits the fire, and of whom they are in perpetual dread, as,
though he possesses equally the power of good and evil, the evil
is apt to predominate. They endeavor, therefore, to keep him in
good humor by frequent offerings. He is supposed also to have
great influence with the winged spirit, their sovereign protector
and benefactor. They implore him, therefore, to act as their
interpreter, and procure them all desirable things, such as
success in fishing and hunting, abundance of game, fleet horses,
obedient wives, and male children.

These Indians have likewise their priests, or conjurers, or
medicine men, who pretend to be in the confidence of the deities,
and the expounders and enforcers of their will. Each of these
medicine men has his idols carved in wood, representing the
spirits of the air and of the fire, under some rude and grotesque
form of a horse, a bear, a beaver, or other quadruped, or that of
bird or fish. These idols are hung round with amulets and votive
offerings, such as beavers' teeth, and bears' and eagles' claws.

When any chief personage is on his death-bed, or dangerously ill,
the medicine men are sent for. Each brings with him his idols,
with which he retires into a canoe to hold a consultation. As
doctors are prone to disagree, so these medicine men have now and
then a violent altercation as to the malady of the patient, or
the treatment of it. To settle this they beat their idols soundly
against each other; whichever first loses a tooth or a claw is
considered as confuted, and his votary retires from the field.
Polygamy is not only allowed, but considered honorable, and the
greater number of wives a man can maintain, the more important is
he in the eyes of the tribe. The first wife, however, takes rank
of all the others, and is considered mistress of the house. Still
the domestic establishment is liable to jealousies and cabals,
and the lord and master has much difficulty in maintaining
harmony in his jangling household.

In the manuscript from which we draw many of these particulars,
it is stated that he who exceeds his neighbors in the number of
his wives, male children, and slaves, is elected chief of the
village; a title to office which we do not recollect ever before
to have met with.

Feuds are frequent among, these tribes, but are not very deadly.
They have occasionally pitched battles, fought on appointed days,
and at specific places, which are generally the banks of a
rivulet. The adverse parties post themselves on the opposite
sides of the stream, and at such distances that the battles often
last a long while before any blood is shed. The number of killed
and wounded seldom exceed half a dozen. Should the damage be
equal on each side, the war is considered as honorably concluded;
should one party lose more than the other, it is entitled to a
compensation in slaves or other property, otherwise hostilities
are liable to be renewed at a future day. They are also given to
predatory inroads into the territories of their enemies, and
sometimes of their friendly neighbors. Should they fall upon a
band of inferior force, or upon a village, weakly defended, they
act with the ferocity of true poltroons, slaying all the men, and
carrying off the women and children as slaves. As to the
property, it is packed upon horses which they bring with them for
the purpose. They are mean and paltry as warriors, and altogether
inferior in heroic qualities to the savages of the buffalo plains
on the east side of the mountains.

A great portion of their time is passed in revelry, music,
dancing, and gambling. Their music scarcely deserves the name;
the instruments being of the rudest kind. Their singing is harsh
and discordant; the songs are chiefly extempore, relating to
passing circumstances, the persons present, or any trifling
object that strikes the attention of the singer. They have
several kinds of dances, some of them lively and pleasing. The
women are rarely permitted to dance with the men, but form groups
apart, dancing to the same instrument and song.

They have a great passion for play, and a variety of games. To
such a pitch of excitement are they sometimes roused, that they
gamble away everything they possess, even to their wives and
children. They are notorious thieves, also, and proud of their
dexterity. He who is frequently successful, gains much applause
and popularity; but the clumsy thief, who is detected in some
bungling attempt, is scoffed at and despised, and sometimes
severely punished.

Such are a few leading characteristics of the natives in the
neighborhood of Astoria. They appear to us inferior in many
respects to the tribes east of the mountains, the bold rovers of
the prairies; and to partake much of Esquimaux character;
elevated in some degree by a more genial climate and more varied
living style.

The habits of traffic engendered at the cataracts of the
Columbia, have had their influence along the coast. The Chinooks
and other Indians at the mouth of the river, soon proved
themselves keen traders, and in their early dealings with the
Astorians never hesitated to ask three times what they considered
the real value of an article. They were inquisitive, also, in the
extreme, and impertinently intrusive; and were prone to indulge
in scoffing and ridicule at the expense of the strangers.

In one thing, however, they showed superior judgment and self-
command to most of their race; this was, in their abstinence from
ardent spirits, and the abhorrence and disgust with which they
regarded a drunkard. On one occasion a son of Comcomly had been
induced to drink freely at the factory, and went home in a state
of intoxication, playing all kinds of mad pranks, until he sank
into a stupor, in which he remained for two days. The old
chieftain repaired to his friend, M'Dougal, with indignation
flaming in his countenance, and bitterly reproached him for
having permitted his son to degrade himself into a beast, and to
render himself an object of scorn and laughter to his slave.


Spring Arrangements at Astoria.- Various Expeditions Set Out.-
The Long Narrows.- Pilfering Indians.- Thievish Tribe at Wish-
ram. - Portage at the Falls- Portage by Moonlight.- An Attack, a
Route, and a Robbery.- Indian Cure for Cowardice.- A Parley and
Compromise.- The Despatch Party Turn Back.- Meet Crooks and John
Day.- Their Sufferings.- Indian Perfidy.- Arrival at Astoria.

AS the spring opened, the little settlement of Astoria was in
agitation, and prepared to send forth various expeditions.
Several important things were to be done. It was necessary to
send a supply of goods to the trading post of Mr. David Stuart,
established in the preceding autumn on the Oakinagan. The cache,
or secret deposit, made by Mr. Hunt at the Caldron Linn, was
likewise to be visited, and the merchandise and other effects
left there, to be brought to Astoria. A third object of moment
was to send despatches overland to Mr. Astor at New York,
informing him of the state of affairs at the settlement, and the
fortunes of the several expeditions.

The task of carrying supplies to Oakinagan was assigned to Mr.
Robert Stuart, a spirited and enterprising young man, nephew to
the one who had established the post. The cache was to be sought
out by two of the clerks, named Russell Farnham and Donald
M'Gilles, conducted by a guide, and accompanied by eight men, to
assist in bringing home the goods.

As to the despatches, they were confided to Mr. John Reed, the
clerk, the same who had conducted one of the exploring
detachments of Snake River. He was now to trace back his way
across the mountains by the same route by which he had come, with
no other companions or escort than Ben Jones, the Kentucky
hunter, and two Canadians. As it was still hoped that Mr. Crooks
might be in existence, and that Mr. Reed and his party might meet
with him in the course of their route, they were charged with a
small supply of goods and provisions, to aid that gentleman on
his way to Astoria.

When the expedition of Reed was made known, Mr. M'Lellan
announced his determination to accompany it. He had long been
dissatisfied with the smallness of his interest in the
copartnership, and had requested an additional number of shares;
his request not being complied with, he resolved to abandon the
company. M'Lellan was a man of a singularly self-willed and
decided character, with whom persuasion was useless; he was
permitted, therefore, to take his own course without opposition.

As to Reed, he set about preparing for his hazardous journey with
the zeal of a true Irishman. He had a tin case made, in which the
letters and papers addressed to Mr. Astor were carefully soldered
up. This case he intended to strap upon his shoulders, so as to
bear it about with him, sleeping and waking, in all changes and
chances, by land or by water, and never to part with it but with
his life!

As the route of these several parties would be the same for
nearly four hundred miles up the Columbia, and within that
distance would lie through the piratical pass of the rapids, and
among the freebooting tribes of the river, it was thought
advisable to start about the same time, and to keep together.
Accordingly, on the 22d of March, they all set off, to the number
of seventeen men, in two canoes - and here we cannot but pause to
notice the hardihood of these several expeditions, so
insignificant in point of force, and severally destined to
traverse immense wildernesses where larger parties had
experienced so much danger and distress. When recruits were
sought in the preceding year among experienced hunters and
voyageurs at Montreal and St. Louis, it was considered dangerous
to attempt to cross the Rocky Mountains with less than sixty men;
and yet here we find Reed ready to push his way across those
barriers with merely three companions. Such is the fearlessness,
the insensibility to danger, which men acquire by the habitude of
constant risk. The mind, like the body, becomes callous by

The little associated band proceeded up the river, under the
command of Mr. Robert Stuart, and arrived early in the month of
April at the Long Narrows, that notorious plundering place. Here
it was necessary to unload the canoes, and to transport both them
and their cargoes to the head of the Narrows by land. Their party
was too few in number for the purpose. They were obliged,
therefore, to seek the assistance of the Cathlasco Indians, who
undertook to carry the goods on their horses. Forward then they
set, the Indians with their horses well freighted, and the first
load convoyed by Reed and five men, well armed; the gallant
Irishman striding along at the head, with his tin case of
despatches glittering on his back. In passing, however, through a
rocky and intricate defile, some of the freebooting vagrants
turned their horses up a narrow path and galloped off, carrying
with them two bales of goods, and a number of smaller articles.
To follow them was useless; indeed, it was with much ado that the
convoy got into port with the residue of the cargoes; for some of
the guards were pillaged of their knives and pocket
handkerchiefs, and the lustrous tin case of Mr. John Reed was in
imminent jeopardy.

Mr. Stuart heard of these depredations, and hastened forward to
the relief of the convoy, but could not reach them before dusk,
by which time they had arrived at the village of Wish-ram,
already noted for its great fishery, and the knavish propensities
of its inhabitants. Here they found themselves benighted in a
strange place, and surrounded by savages bent on pilfering, if
not upon open robbery. Not knowing what active course to take,
they remained under arms all night, without closing an eye, and
at the very first peep of dawn, when objects were yet scarce
visible, everything was hastily embarked, and, without seeking to
recover the stolen effects, they pushed off from shore, "glad to
bid adieu," as they said, "to this abominable nest of

The worthies of Wish-ram, however, were not disposed to part so
easily with their visitors. Their cupidity had been quickened by
the plunder which they had already taken, and their confidence
increased by the impunity with which their outrage had passed.
They resolved, therefore, to take further toll of the travellers,
and, if possible, to capture the tin case of despatches; which
shining conspicuously from afar, and being guarded by John Reed
with such especial care, must, as they supposed, be "a great

Accordingly, Mr. Stuart and his comrades had not proceeded far in
the canoes, when they beheld the whole rabble of Wishram
stringing in groups along the bank, whooping and yelling, and
gibbering in their wild jargon, and when they landed below the
falls, they were surrounded by upwards of four hundred of these
river ruffians, armed with bows and arrows, war clubs, and other
savage weapons. These now pressed forward, with offers to carry
the canoes and effects up the portage. Mr Stuart declined
forwarding the goods, alleging the lateness of the hour; but, to
keep them in good humor, informed them, that, if they conducted
themselves well, their offered services might probably be
accepted in the morning; in the meanwhile, he suggested that they
might carry up the canoes. They accordingly set off with the two
canoes on their shoulders, accompanied by a guard of eight men
well armed.

When arrived at the head of the falls, the mischievous spirit of
the savages broke out, and they were on the point of destroying
the canoes, doubtless with a view to impede the white men from
carrying forward their goods, and laying them open to further
pilfering. They were with some difficulty prevented from
committing this outrage by the interference of an old man, who
appeared to have authority among them; and, in consequence of his
harangue, the whole of the hostile band, with the exception of
about fifty, crossed to the north side of the river, where they
lay in wait, ready for further mischief.

In the meantime, Mr. Stuart, who had remained at the foot of the
falls with the goods, and who knew that the proffered assistance
of the savages was only for the purpose of having an opportunity
to plunder, determined, if possible, to steal a march upon them,
and defeat their machinations. In the dead of the night,
therefore, about one o'clock, the moon shining brightly, he
roused his party, and proposed that they should endeavor to
transport the goods themselves, above the falls, before the
sleeping savages could be aware of their operations. All hands
sprang to the work with zeal, and hurried it on in the hope of
getting all over before daylight. Mr. Stuart went forward with
the first loads, and took his station at the head of the portage,
while Mr. Reed and Mr. M'Lellan remained at the foot to forward
the remainder.

The day dawned before the transportation was completed. Some of
the fifty Indians who had remained on the south side of the
river, perceived what was going on, and, feeling themselves too
weak for an attack, gave the alarm to those on the opposite side,
upwards of a hundred of whom embarked in several large canoes.
Two loads of goods yet remained to be brought up. Mr. Stuart
despatched some of the people for one of the loads, with a
request to Mr. Reed to retain with him as many of the men as he
thought necessary to guard the remaining load, as he suspected
hostile intentions on the part of the Indians. Mr. Reed, however,
refused to retain any of them, saying that M'Lellan and himself
were sufficient to protect the small quantity that remained. The
men accordingly departed with the load, while Mr. Reed and
M'Lellan continued to mount guard over the residue. By this time,
a number of the canoes had arrived from the opposite side. As
they approached the shore, the unlucky tin box of John Reed,
shining afar like the brilliant helmet of Euryalus, caught their
eyes. No sooner did the canoes touch the shore, than they leaped
forward on the rocks, set up a war-whoop, and sprang forward to
secure the glittering prize. Mr. M'Lellan, who was at the river
bank, advanced to guard the goods, when one of the savages at
tempted to hoodwink him with his buffalo robe with one hand, and
to stab him with the other. M'Lellan sprang back just far enough
to avoid the blow, and raising his rifle, shot the ruffian
through the heart.

In the meantime, Reed, who with the want of forethought of an
Irishman, had neglected to remove the leathern cover from the
lock of his rifle, was fumbling at the fastenings, when he
received a blow on the head with a war club that laid him
senseless on the ground. In a twinkling he was stripped of his
rifle and pistols, and the tin box, the cause of all this
onslaught, was borne off in triumph.

At this critical juncture, Mr. Stuart, who had heard the war-
whoop, hastened to the scene of action with Ben Jones, and seven
others of the men. When he arrived, Reed was weltering in his
blood, and an Indian standing over him and about to despatch him
with a tomahawk. Stuart gave the word, when Ben Jones leveled his
rifle, and shot the miscreant on the spot. The men then gave a
cheer, and charged upon the main body of the savages, who took to
instant flight. Reed was now raised from the ground, and borne
senseless and bleeding to the upper end of the portage.
Preparations were made to launch the canoes and embark in all
haste, when it was found that they were too leaky to be put in
the water, and that the oars had been left at the foot of the
falls. A scene of confusion now ensued. The Indians were whooping
and yelling, and running about like fiends. A panic seized upon
the men, at being thus suddenly checked, the hearts of some of
the Canadians died within them, and two young men actually
fainted away. The moment they recovered their senses, Mr. Stuart
ordered that they should be deprived of their arms, their under
garments taken off, and that a piece of cloth should be tied
round their waists, in imitation of a squaw; an Indian punishment
for cowardice. Thus equipped, they were stowed away among the
goods in one of the canoes. This ludicrous affair excited the
mirth of the bolder spirits, even in the midst of their perils,
and roused the pride of the wavering. The Indians having crossed
back again to the north side, order was restored, some of the
hands were sent back for the oars, others set to work to calk and
launch the canoes, and in a little while all were embarked and
were continuing their voyage along the southern shore.

No sooner had they departed, than the Indians returned to the
scene of action, bore off their two comrades who had been shot,
one of whom was still living, and returned to their village.
Here they killed two horses; and drank the hot blood to give
fierceness to their courage. They painted and arrayed themselves
hideously for battle; performed the dead dance round the slain,
and raised the war song of vengeance. Then mounting their horses
to the number of four hundred and fifty men, and brandishing
their weapons, they set off along the northern bank of the river,
to get ahead of the canoes, lie in wait for them, and take a
terrible revenge on the white men.

They succeeded in getting some distance above the canoes without
being discovered, and were crossing the river to post themselves
on the side along which the white men were coasting, when they
were fortunately descried. Mr. Stuart and his companions were
immediately on the alert. As they drew near to the place where
the savages had crossed, they observed them posted among steep
and overhanging rocks, close along which, the canoes would have
to pass. Finding that the enemy had the advantage of the ground,
the whites stopped short when within five hundred yards of them,
and discharged and reloaded their pieces. They then made a fire,
and dressed the wounds of Mr. Reed, who had received five severe
gashes in the head. This being done, they lashed the canoes
together, fastened them to a rock at a small distance from the
shore, and there awaited the menaced attack.

They had not been long posted in this manner, when they saw a
canoe approaching. It contained the war-chief of the tribe, and
three of his principal warriors. He drew near, and made a long
harangue, in which he informed them that they had killed one and
wounded another of his nation; that the relations of the slain
cried out for vengeance, and he had been compelled to lead them
to fight. Still he wished to spare unnecessary bloodshed; he
proposed, therefore, that Mr. Reed, who, he observed, was little
better than a dead man, might be given up to be sacrificed to the
manes of the deceased warrior. This would appease the fury of his
friends; the hatchet would then be buried, and all thenceforward
would be friends. The answer was a stern refusal and a defiance,
and the war-chief saw that the canoes were well prepared for a
vigorous defense. He withdrew, therefore, and returning to his
warriors among the rocks held long deliberations. Blood for blood
is a principle in Indian equity and Indian honor; but though the
inhabitants of Wish-ram were men of war, they were likewise men
of traffic, and it was suggested that honor for once might give
way to profit. A negotiation was accordingly opened with the
white men, and after some diplomacy, the matter was compromised
for a blanket to cover the dead, and some tobacco to be smoked by
the living. This being granted, the heroes of Wish-ram crossed
the river once more, returned to their villages to feast upon the
horses whose blood they had so vaingloriously drunk, and the
travellers pursued their voyage without further molestation.

The tin case, however, containing the important despatches for
New York, was irretrievably lost; the very precaution taken by
the worthy Hibernian to secure his missives, had, by rendering
them conspicuous, produced their robbery. The object of his
overland journey, therefore, being defeated, he gave up the
expedition. The whole party repaired with Mr. Robert Stuart to
the establishment of Mr. David Stuart, on the Oakinagan River.
After remaining here two or three days, they all set out on their
return to Astoria accompanied by Mr. David Stuart. This gentleman
had a large quantity of beaver skins at his establishment, but
did not think it prudent to take them with him. fearing the levy
of "black mail" at the falls.

On their way down, when below the forks of the Columbia, they
were hailed one day from the shore in English. Looking around,
they descried two wretched men, entirely naked. They pulled to
shore; the men came up and made themselves known. They proved to
be Mr. Crooks and his faithful follower, John Day.

The reader will recollect that Mr. Crooks, with Day and four
Canadians, had been so reduced by famine and fatigue, that Mr.
Hunt was obliged to leave them, in the month of December, on the
banks of the Snake River. Their situation was the more critical,
as they were in the neighborhood of a band of Shoshonies, whose
horses had been forcibly seized by Mr. Hunt's party for
provisions. Mr. Crooks remained here twenty days, detained by the
extremely reduced state of John Day, who was utterly unable to
travel, and whom he would not abandon, as Day had been in his
employ on the Missouri, and had always proved himself most
faithful. Fortunately the Shoshonies did not offer to molest
them. They had never before seen white men, and seemed to
entertain some superstitions with regard to them, for though they
would encamp near them in the daytime, they would move off with
their tents in the night; and finally disappeared, without taking

When Day was sufficiently recovered to travel, they kept feebly
on, sustaining themselves as well as they could, until in the
month of February, when three of the Canadians, fearful of
perishing with want, left Mr. Crooks on a small river, on the
road by which Mr Hunt had passed in quest of Indians. Mr. Crooks
followed Mr. Hunt's track in the snow for several days, sleeping
as usual in the open air, and suffering all kinds of hardships.
At length, coming to a low prairie, he lost every appearance Of
the "trail," and wandered during the remainder of the winter in
the mountains, subsisting sometimes on horse meat, sometimes on
beavers and their skins, and a part of the time on roots.

About the last of March, the other Canadian gave out and was left
with a lodge of Shoshonies; but Mr. Crooks and John Day still
kept on, and finding the snow sufficiently diminished, undertook,
from Indian information, to cross the last mountain ridge. They
happily succeeded, and afterwards fell in with the Wallah-
Wallahs, a tribe of Indians inhabiting the banks of a river of
the same name, and reputed as being frank, hospitable, and
sincere. They proved worthy of the character, for they received
the poor wanderers kindly, killed a horse for them to eat, and
directed them on their way to the Columbia. They struck the river
about the middle of April, and advanced down it one hundred
miles, until they came within about twenty miles of the falls.

Here they met with some of the "chivalry" of that noted pass, who
received them in a friendly way, and set food before them; but,
while they were satisfying their hunger, perfidiously seized
their rifles. They then stripped them naked, and drove them off,
refusing the entreaties of Mr. Crooks for a flint and steel of
which they had robbed him; and threatening his life if he did not
instantly depart

In this forlorn plight, still worse off than before, they renewed
their wanderings. They now sought to find their way back to the
hospitable Wallah-Wallahs, and had advanced eighty miles along
the river, when fortunately, on the very morning that they were
going to leave the Columbia and strike inland, the canoes of Mr.
Stuart hove in sight.

It is needless to describe the joy of these poor men at once more
finding themselves among countrymen and friends, or of the honest
and hearty welcome with which they were received by their fellow
adventurers. The whole party now continued down the river, passed
all the dangerous places without interruption, and arrived safely
at Astoria on the 11th of May.

Comprehensive Views.- To Supply the Russian Fur Establishment.-
An Agent Sent to Russia.- Project of an Annual Ship.- The Beaver
Fitted Out.- Her Equipment and Crew.- Instructions to the
Captain.- The Sandwich Islands.Rumors of the Fate of the
Tonquin.- Precautions on Reaching the Mouth of the Columbia.

HAVING traced the fortunes of the two expeditions by sea and land
to the mouth of the Columbia, and presented a view of affairs at
Astoria, we will return for a moment to the master spirit of the
enterprise, who regulated the springs of Astoria, at his
residence in New York.

It will be remembered, that a part of the plan of Mr. Astor was
to furnish the Russian fur establishment on the northwest coast
with regular supplies, so as to render it independent of those
casual vessels which cut up the trade and supplied the natives
with arms. This plan had been countenanced by our own government,
and likewise by Count Pahlen, the Russian minister at Washington.
As its views, however, were important and extensive, and might
eventually affect a wide course of commerce, Mr Astor was
desirous of establishing a complete arrangement on the subject
with the Russian American Fur Company, under the sanction of the
Russian government. For this purpose, in March 1811, he
despatched a confidential agent to St. Petersburg, full empowered
to enter into the requisite negotiations. A passage was given to
this gentleman by the government of the United States in the John
Adams, an armed vessel, bound for Europe.

The next step of Mr. Astor was, to despatch the annual ship
contemplated on his general plan. He had as yet heard nothing of
the success of the previous expeditions, and had to proceed upon
the presumption that everything had been effected according to
his instructions. He accordingly fitted out a fine ship of four
hundred and ninety tons, called the Beaver, and freighted her
with a valuable cargo destined for the factory at the mouth of
the Columbia, the trade along the coast, and the supply of the
Russian establishment. In this ship embarked a reinforcement,
consisting of a partner, five clerks, fifteen American laborers,
and six Canadian voyageurs. In choosing his agents for his first
expedition, Mr. Astor had been obliged to have recourse to
British subjects experienced in the Canadian fur trade;
henceforth it was his intention, as much as possible, to select
Americans, so as to secure an ascendency of American influence in
the management of the company, and to make it decidedly national.

Accordingly, Mr. John Clarke, the partner who took the lead in
the present expedition, was a native of the United States, though
he had passed much of his life in the northwest, having been
employed in the trade since the age of sixteen. Most of the
clerks were young gentlemen of good connections in the American
cities, some of whom embarked in the hope of gain, others through
the mere spirit of adventure incident to youth.

The instructions given by Mr. Astor to Captain Sowle, the
commander of the Beaver, were, in some respects, hypothetical, in
consequence of the uncertainty resting upon the previous steps of
the enterprise.

He was to touch at the Sandwich Islands, inquire about the
fortunes of the Tonquin, and whether an establishment had been
formed at the mouth of the Columbia. If so, he was to take as
many Sandwich Islanders as his ship could accommodate, and
proceed thither. On arriving at the river, he was to observe
great caution, for even if an establishment should have been
formed, it might have fallen into hostile hands. He was,
therefore, to put in as if by casualty or distress, to give
himself out as a coasting trader, and to say nothing about his
ship being owned by Mr. Astor, until he had ascertained that
everything was right. In that case, he was to land such part of
his cargo as was intended for the establishment, and to proceed
to New Archangel with the supplies intended for the Russian post
at that place, where he could receive peltries in payment. With
these he was to return to Astoria; take in the furs collected
there, and, having completed his cargo by trading along the
coast, was to proceed to Canton. The captain received the same
injunctions that had been given to Captain Thorn of the Tonquin,
of great caution and circumspection in his intercourse with the
natives, and that he should not permit more than one or two to be
on board at a time.

The Beaver sailed from New York on the 10th of October, 1811, and
reached the Sandwich Islands without any occurrence of moment.
Here a rumor was heard of the disastrous fate of the Tonquin.
Deep solicitude was felt by every one on board for the fate of
both expeditions, by sea and land. Doubts were entertained
whether any establishment had been formed at the mouth of the
Columbia, or whether any of the company would be found there.
After much deliberation, the Captain took twelve Sandwich
Islanders on board, for the service of the factory, should there
be one in existence, and proceeded on his voyage.

On the 6th of May, he arrived off the mouth of the Columbia and
running as near as possible, fired two signal guns. No answer was
returned, nor was there any signal to be descried. Nigh coming
on, the ship stood out to sea, and every heart drooped as the
land faded away. On the following morning they again ran in
within four miles of shore, and fired other signal guns, but
still without reply. A boat was then despatched, to sound the
channel, and attempt an entrance; but returned without success
there being a tremendous swell, and breakers. Signal guns were
fired again in the evening, but equally in vain, and once more
the ship stood off to sea for the night. The captain now gave up
all hope of finding any establishment at the place, and indulged
in the most gloomy apprehensions. He feared his predecessor had
been massacred before they had reached their place of
destination; or if they should have erected a factory, that it
had been surprised and destroyed by the natives.

In this moment of doubt and uncertainty, Mr. Clarke announced his
determination, in case of the worst, to found an establishment
with the present party, and all hands bravely engaged to stand by
him in the undertaking. The next morning the ship stood in for
the third time, and fired three signal guns, but with little hope
of reply. To the great joy of the crew, three distinct guns were
heard in answer. The apprehensions of all but Captain Sowle were
now at rest. That cautious commander recollected the instructions
given him by Mr. Astor, and determined to proceed with great
circumspection. He was well aware of Indian treachery and
cunning. It was not impossible, he observed, that these cannon
might have been fired by the savages themselves. They might have
surprised the fort, massacred its inmates; and these signal guns
might only be decoys to lure him across the bar, that they might
have a chance of cutting him off, and seizing his vessel.

At length a white flag was descried hoisted as a signal on Cape
Disappointment. The passengers pointed to it in triumph, but the
captain did not yet dismiss his doubts. A beacon fire blazed
through the night on the same place, but the captain observed
that all these signals might be treacherous.

On the following morning, May 9th, the vessel came to anchor off
Cape Disappointment, outside of the bar. Towards noon an Indian
canoe was seen making for the ship and all hands were ordered to
be on the alert. A few moments afterwards, a barge was perceived
following the canoe. The hopes and fears of those on board of the
ship were in tumultuous agitation, as the boat drew nigh that was
to let them know the fortunes of the enterprise, and the fate of
their predecessors. The captain, who was haunted with the idea of
possible treachery, did not suffer his curiosity to get the
better of his caution, but ordered a party of his men under arms,
to receive the visitors. The canoe came first alongside, in which
were Comcomly and six Indians; in the barge were M'Dougal,
M'Lellan, and eight Canadians. A little conversation with these
gentlemen dispelled all the captain's fears, and the Beaver
crossing the bar under their pilotage, anchored safely in Baker's


Active Operations at Astoria- Various Expeditions Fitted Out.-
Robert Stuart and a Party Destined for New York - Singular
Conduct of John Day.- His Fate.- Piratical Pass and Hazardous
Portage.-Rattlesnakes. - Their Abhorrence of Tobacco.- Arrival
Among the Wallah-Wallahs. - Purchase of Horses- Departure of
Stuart and His Band for the Mountains.

THE arrival of the Beaver with a reinforcement and supplies, gave
new life and vigor to affairs at Astoria. These were means for
extending the operations of the establishment, and founding
interior trading posts. Two parties were immediately set on foot
to proceed severally under the command of Messrs. M'Kenzie and
Clarke, and establish posts above the forks of the Columbia, at
points where most rivalry and opposition were apprehended from
the Northwest Company.

A third party, headed by Mr. David Stuart, was to repair with
supplies to the post of that gentleman on the Oakinagan. In
addition to these expeditions, a fourth was necessary to convey
despatches to Mr. Astor, at New York, in place of those
unfortunately lost by John Reed. The safe conveyance of these
despatches was highly important, as by them Mr. Astor would
receive an account of the state of the factory, and regulate his
reinforcements and supplies accordingly. The mission was one of
peril and hardship and required a man of nerve and vigor. It was
confided to Robert Stuart, who, though he had never been across
the mountains, and a very young man, had given proofs of his
competency to the task. Four trusty and well-tried men, who had
come overland in Mr. Hunt's expedition, were given as his guides
and hunters. These were Ben Jones and John Day, the Kentuckians,
and Andri Vallar and Francis Le Clerc, Canadians. Mr. M'Lellan
again expressed his determination to take this opportunity of
returning to the Atlantic States. In this he was joined by Mr.
Crooks, -who, notwithstanding all that he had suffered in the
dismal journey of the preceding winter, was ready to retrace his
steps and brave every danger and hardship, rather than remain at
Astoria. This little handful of adventurous men we propose to
accompany in its long and perilous peregrinations.

The several parties we have mentioned all set off in company on
the 29th of June, under a salute of cannon from the fort. They
were to keep together for mutual protection through the piratical
passes of the river, and to separate, on their different
destinations, at the forks of the Columbia. Their number,
collectively, was nearly sixty, consisting of partners and
clerks, Canadian voyageurs, Sandwich Islanders, and American
hunters; and they embarked in two barges and ten canoes.

They had scarcely got under way, when John Day, the Kentucky
hunter, became restless and uneasy, and extremely wayward in his
deportment. This caused surprise, for in general he was
remarkable for his cheerful, manly deportment. It was supposed
that the recollection of past sufferings might harass his mind in


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