Part 8 out of 9

they, therefore, craved a small supply of provisions for their
journey. Mr. Stuart again invited them to help themselves. They
did so with keen forethought, loading themselves with the
choicest parts of the meat, and leaving the late plenteous larder
far gone in a consumption. Their next request was for a supply of
ammunition, having guns, but no powder and ball. They promised to
pay magnificently out of the spoils of their foray. "We are poor
now," said they, "and are obliged to go on foot, but we shall
soon come back laden with booty, and all mounted on horseback,
with scalps hanging at our bridles. We will then give each of you
a horse to keep you from being tired on your journey."

"Well," said Mr. Stuart, "when you bring the horses, you shall
have the ammunition, but not before." The Indians saw by his
determined tone, that all further entreaty would be unavailing,
so they desisted, with a good-humored laugh, and went off
exceedingly well freighted, both within and without, promising to
be back again in the course of a fortnight.

No sooner were they out of hearing, than the luckless travellers
held another council. The security of their cabin was at an end
and with it all their dreams of a quiet and cozy winter. They
were between two fires. On one side were their old enemies, the
Crows; on the other side, the Arapahays, no less dangerous
freebooters. As to the moderation of this war party, they
considered it assumed, to put them off their guard against some
more favorable opportunity for a surprisal. It was determined,
therefore, not to await their return, but to abandon, with all
speed, this dangerous neighborhood. From the accounts of their
recent visitors, they were led to believe, though erroneously,
that they were upon the Quicourt, or Rapid River. They proposed
now to keep along it to its confluence with the Missouri; but,
should they be prevented by the rigors of the season from
proceeding so far, at least to reach a part of the river where
they might be able to construct canoes of greater strength and
durability than those of buffalo skins.

Accordingly, on the 13th of December, they bade adieu, with many
a regret, to their comfortable quarters where for five weeks they
had been indulging the sweets of repose, of plenty, and of
fancied security. They were still accompanied by their veteran
pack-horse, which the Arapahays had omitted to steal, either
because they intended to steal him on their return, or because
they thought him not worth stealing.


Rough Wintry Travelling - Hills and Plains.- Snow and Ice.-
Disappearance of Game.- A Vast Dreary Plain.- A. Second Halt for
the Winter.- Another Wigwam.- New Year's Feast.- Buffalo Humps,
Tongues, and Marrow-Bones.- Return of Spring.- Launch of Canoes.
- Bad Navigation. - Pedestrian March. - Vast Prairies. - Deserted
Camps.- Pawnee Squaws.- An Otto Indian.- News of War.- Voyage
Down the Platte and the Missouri.- Reception at Fort Osage. -
Arrival at St. Louis.

THE interval of comfort and repose which the party had enjoyed in
their wigwam, rendered the renewal of their fatigues intolerable
for the first two or three days. The snow lay deep, and was
slightly frozen on the surface, but not sufficiently to bear
their weight. Their feet became sore by breaking through the
crust, and their limbs weary by floundering on without firm
foothold. So exhausted and dispirited were they, that they began
to think it would be better to remain and run the risk of being
killed by the Indians, than to drag on thus painfully, with the
probability of perishing by the way. Their miserable horse fared
no better than themselves, having for the first day or two no
other fodder than the ends of willow twigs, and the bark of the
cotton-wood tree.

They all, however, appeared to gain patience and hardihood as
they proceeded, and for fourteen days kept steadily on, making a
distance of about three hundred and thirty miles. For some days,
the range of mountains which had been near to their wigwam kept
parallel to the river at no great distance, but at length
subsided into hills. Sometimes they found the river bordered with
alluvial bottoms, and groves with cotton-wood and willows;
sometimes the adjacent country was naked and barren. In one place
it ran for a considerable distance between rocky hills and
promontories covered with cedar and pitch pines, and peopled with
the bighorn and the mountain deer; at other places it wandered
through prairies well stocked with buffaloes and antelopes. As
they descended the course of the river, they began to perceive
the ash and white oak here and there among the cotton-wood and
willow; and at length caught a sight of some wild horses on the
distant prairies.

The weather was various; at one time the snow lay deep; then they
had a genial day or two, with the mildness and serenity of
autumn; then, again, the frost was so severe that the river was
sufficiently frozen to bear them upon the ice.

During the last three days of their fortnight's travel, however,
the face of the country changed. The timber gradually diminished,
until they could scarcely find fuel sufficient for culinary
purposes. The game grew more and more scanty, and, finally, none
were to be seen but a few miserable broken-down buffalo bulls,
not worth killing. The snow lay fifteen inches deep, and made the
travelling grievously painful and toilsome. At length they came
to an immense plain, where no vestige of timber was to be seen;
nor a single quadruped to enliven the desolate landscape. Here,
then, their hearts failed them, and they held another
consultation. The width of the river, which was upwards of a
mile, its extreme shallowness, the frequency of quicksands, and
various other characteristics, had at length made them sensible
of their errors with respect to it, and they now came to the
correct conclusion, that they were on the banks of the Platte or
Shallow River. What were they to do? Pursue its course to the
Missouri? To go on at this season of the year seemed dangerous in
the extreme. There was no prospect of obtaining either food or
firing. The country was destitute of trees, and though there
might be drift-wood along the river, it lay too deep beneath the
snow for them to find it.

The weather was threatening a change, and a snowstorm on these
boundless wastes might prove as fatal as a whirlwind of sand on
an Arabian desert. After much dreary deliberation, it was at
length determined to retrace their three last days' journey of
seventy-seven miles, to a place which they had remarked where
there was a sheltering growth of forest trees, and a country
abundant in game. Here they would once more set up their winter
quarters, and await the opening of the navigation to launch
themselves in canoes.

Accordingly, on the 27th of December, they faced about, retraced
their steps, and on the 30th, regained the part of the river in
question. Here the alluvial bottom was from one to two miles
wide, and thickly covered with a forest of cotton-wood trees;
while herds of buffalo were scattered about the neighboring
prairie, several of which soon fell beneath their rifles.

They encamped on the margin of the river, in a grove where there
were trees large enough for canoes. Here they put up a shed for
immediate shelter, and immediately proceeded to erect a hut. New
Year's day dawned when, as yet, but one wall of their cabin was
completed; the genial and jovial day, however, was not permitted
to pass uncelebrated, even by this weatherbeaten crew of
wanderers. All work was suspended, except that of roasting and
boiling. The choicest of the buffalo meat, with tongues, and
humps, and marrow-bones, were devoured in quantities that would
astonish any one that has not lived among hunters or Indians; and
as an extra regale, having no tobacco left, they cut up an old
tobacco pouch, still redolent with the potent herb, and smoked it
in honor of the day. Thus for a time, in present revelry, however
uncouth, they forgot all past troubles and all anxieties about
the future, and their forlorn wigwam echoed to the sound of

The next day they resumed their labors, and by the 6th of the
month it was complete. They soon killed abundance of buffalo, and
again laid in a stock of winter provisions. The party were more
fortunate in this, their second cantonment. The winter passed
away without any Indian visitors, and the game continued to be
plenty in the neighborhood. They felled two large trees, and
shaped them into canoes; and, as the spring opened, and a thaw of
several days' continuance melted the ice in the river, they made
every preparation for embarking. On the 8th of March they
launched forth in their canoes, but soon found that the river had
not depth sufficient even for such slender barks. It expanded
into a wide but extremely shallow stream, with many sand-bars,
and occasionally various channels. They got one of their canoes a
few miles down it, with extreme difficulty, sometimes wading and
dragging it over the shoals; at length they had to abandon the
attempt, and to resume their journey on foot, aided by their
faithful old pack-horse, who had recruited strength during the
repose of the winter.

The weather delayed them for a few days, having suddenly become
more rigorous than it had been at any time during the winter; but
on the 20th of March they were again on their journey.

In two days they arrived at the vast naked prairie, the wintry
aspect of which had caused them, in December, to pause and turn
back. It was now clothed in the early verdure of spring, and
plentifully stocked with game. Still, when obliged to bivouac on
its bare surface, without any shelter, and by a scanty fire of
dry buffalo dung, they found the night blasts piercing cold. On
one occasion, a herd of buffalo straying near their evening camp,
they killed three of them merely for their hides, wherewith to
make a shelter for the night.

They continued on for upwards of a hundred miles; with vast
prairies extending before them as they advanced; sometimes
diversified by undulating hills, but destitute of trees. In one
place they saw a gang of sixty-five wild horses, but as to the
buffaloes, they seemed absolutely to cover the country. Wild
geese abounded, and they passed extensive swamps that were alive
with innumerable flocks of water-fowl, among which were a few
swans, but an endless variety of ducks.

The river continued a winding course to the east-north-east,
nearly a mile in width, but too shallow to float even an empty
canoe. The country spread out into a vast level plain, bounded by
the horizon alone, excepting to the north, where a line of hills
seemed like a long promontory stretching into the bosom of the
ocean. The dreary sameness of the prairie wastes began to grow
extremely irksome. The travellers longed for the sight of a
forest, or grove, or single tree, to break the level uniformity,
and began to notice every object that gave reason to hope they
were drawing towards the end of this weary wilderness. Thus the
occurrence of a particular kind of grass was hailed as a proof
that they could not be far from the bottoms of the Missouri; and
they were rejoiced at putting up several prairie hens, a kind of
grouse seldom found far in the interior. In picking up driftwood
for fuel, also, they found on some pieces the mark of an axe,
which caused much speculation as to the time when and the persons
by whom the trees had been felled. Thus they went on, like
sailors at sea, who perceive in every floating weed and wandering
bird, harbingers of the wished-for land.

By the close of the month the weather became very mild, and,
heavily burdened as they were, they found the noontide
temperature uncomfortably warm. On the 30th, they came to three
deserted hunting camps, either of Pawnees or Ottoes, about which
were buffalo skulls in all directions; and the frames on which
the hides had been stretched and cured. They had apparently been
occupied the preceding autumn.

For several days they kept patiently on, watching every sign that
might give them an idea as to where they were, and how near to
the banks of the Missouri.

Though there were numerous traces of hunting parties and
encampments, they were not of recent date. The country seemed
deserted. The only human beings they met with were three Pawnee
squaws, in a hut in the midst of a deserted camp. Their people
had all gone to the south, in pursuit of the buffalo, and had
left these poor women behind, being too sick and infirm to

It is a common practice with the Pawnees, and probably with other
roving tribes, when departing on a distant expedition, which will
not admit of incumbrance or delay, to leave their aged and infirm
with a supply of provisions sufficient for a temporary
subsistence. When this is exhausted, they must perish; though
sometimes their sufferings are abridged by hostile prowlers who
may visit the deserted camp.

The poor squaws in question expected some such fate at the hands
of the white strangers, and though the latter accosted them in
the kindest manner, and made them presents of dried buffalo meat,
it was impossible to soothe their alarm, or get any information
from them.

The first landmark by which the travellers were enabled to
conjecture their position with any degree of confidence, was an
island about seventy miles in length, which they presumed to be
Grand Isle. If so, they were within one hundred and forty miles
of the Missouri. They kept on, therefore, With renewed spirit,
and at the end of three days met with an Otto Indian, by whom
they were confirmed in their conjecture. They learnt at the same
time another piece of information, of an uncomfortable nature.
According to his account, there was war between the United States
and England, and in fact it had existed for a whole year, during
which time they had been beyond the reach of all knowledge of the
affairs of the civilized world.

The Otto conducted the travellers to his village, situated a
short distance from the banks of the Platte. Here they were
delighted to meet with two white men, Messrs. Dornin and Roi,
Indian traders recently from St. Louis. Of these they had a
thousand inquiries to make concerning all affairs, foreign and
domestic, during their year of sepulture in the wilderness; and
especially about the events of the existing war.

They now prepared to abandon their weary travel by land, and to
embark upon the water. A bargain was made with Mr. Dornin, who
engaged to furnish them with a canoe and provisions for the
voyage, in exchange for their venerable and well-tried fellow
traveller, the old Snake horse.

Accordingly, in a couple of days, the Indians employed by that
gentleman constructed for them a canoe twenty feet long, four
feet wide, and eighteen inches deep. The frame was of poles and
willow twigs, on which were stretched five elk and buffalo hides,
sewed together with sinews, and the seams payed with unctuous
mud. In this they embarked at an early hour on the 16th of April,
and drifted down ten miles with the stream, when the wind being
high they encamped, and set to work to make oars, which they had
not been able to procure at the Indian village.

Once more afloat, they went merrily down the stream, and after
making thirty-five miles, emerged into the broad turbid current
of the Missouri. Here they were borne along briskly by the rapid
stream; though, by the time their fragile bark had floated a
couple of hundred miles, its frame began to show the effects of
the voyage. Luckily they came to the deserted wintering place of
some hunting party, where they found two old wooden canoes.
Taking possession of the largest, they again committed themselves
to the current, and after dropping down fifty-five miles further,
arrived safely at Fort Osage.

Here they found Lieutenant Brownson still in command; the officer
who had given the expedition a hospitable reception on its way up
the river, eighteen months previously. He received this remnant
of the party with a cordial welcome, and endeavored in every way
to promote their comfort and enjoyment during their sojourn at
the fort. The greatest luxury they met with on their return to
the abode of civilized man, was bread, not having tasted any for
nearly a year.

Their stay at Fort Osage was but short. On re-embarking they were
furnished with an ample supply of provisions by the kindness of
Lieutenant Brownson, and performed the rest of their voyage
without adverse circumstance. On the 30th of April they arrived
in perfect health and fine spirits at St. Louis, having been ten
months in performing this perilous expedition from Astoria. Their
return caused quite a sensation at the place, bringing the first
intelligence of the fortune of Mr. Hunt and his party in their
adventurous route across the Rocky Mountains, and of the new
establishment on the shores of the Pacific.


Agreement Between Mr. Astor and the Russian Fur Company- War
Between the United States and Great Britain.- Instructions to
Captain Sowle of the Beaver- Fitting Out of the Lark.- News of
the Arrival of Mr. Stuart.

IT is now necessary, in linking together the parts of this
excursive narrative, that we notice the proceedings of Mr. Astor
in support of his great undertaking. His project with respect to
the Russian establishments along the northwest coast had been
diligently prosecuted. The agent sent by him to St. Petersburg,
to negotiate in his name as president of the American Fur
Company, had, under sanction of the Russian government, made a
provisional agreement with the Russian company.

By this agreement, which was ratified by Mr. Astor in 1813, the
two companies bound themselves not to interfere with each other's
trading and hunting grounds, nor to furnish arms and ammunition
to the Indians. They were to act in concert, also, against all
interlopers, and to succor each other in case of danger. The
American company was to have the exclusive right of supplying the
Russian posts with goods and necessaries, receiving peltries in
payment at stated prices. They were also, if so requested by the
Russian governor, to convey the furs of the Russian company to
Canton, sell them on commission, and bring back the proceeds, at
such freight as might be agreed on at the time. This agreement
was to continue in operation four years, and to be renewable for
a similar term, unless some unforeseen contingency should render
a modification necessary.

It was calculated to be of great service to the infant
establishment at Astoria; dispelling the fears of hostile rivalry
on the part of the foreign companies in its neighborhood, and
giving a formidable blow to the irregular trade along the coast.
It was also the intention of Mr. Astor to have coasting vessels
of his own, at Astoria, of small tonnage and draft of water,
fitted for coasting service. These, having a place of shelter and
deposit, could ply about the coast in short voyages, in favorable
weather, and would have vast advantage over chance ships, which
must make long voyages, maintain numerous crews, and could only
approach the coast at certain seasons of the year. He hoped,
therefore, gradually to make Astoria the great emporium of the
American fur trade in the Pacific, and the nucleus of a powerful
American state. Unfortunately for these sanguine anticipations,
before Mr. Astor had ratified the agreement, as above stated, war
broke out between the United States and Great Britain. He
perceived at once the peril of the case. The harbor of New York
would doubtless be blockaded, and the departure of the annual
supply ship in the autumn prevented; or, if she should succeed in
getting out to sea, she might be captured on her voyage.

In this emergency, he wrote to Captain Sowle, commander of the
Beaver. The letter, which was addressed to him at Canton,
directed him to proceed to the factory at the mouth of the
Columbia, with such articles as the establishment might need; and
to remain there, subject to the orders of Mr. Hunt, should that
gentleman be in command there.

The war continued. No tidings had yet been received from Astoria;
the despatches having been delayed by the misadventure of Mr.
Reed at the falls of the Columbia, and the unhorsing of Mr.
Stuart by the Crows among the mountains. A painful uncertainty,
also, prevailed about Mr. Hunt and his party. Nothing had been
heard of them since their departure from the Arickara village;
Lisa, who parted from them there, had predicted their
destruction; and some of the traders of the Northwest Company had
actually spread a rumor of their having been cut off by the

It was a hard trial of the courage and means of an individual to
have to fit out another costly expedition, where so much had
already been expended, so much uncertainty prevailed, and where
the risk of loss was so greatly enhanced, that no insurance could
be effected.

In spite of all these discouragements, Mr. Astor determined to
send another ship to the relief of the settlement. He selected
for this purpose a vessel called the Lark, remarkable for her
fast sailing. The disordered state of the times, however, caused
such a delay, that February arrived, while the vessel was yet
lingering in port.

At this juncture, Mr. Astor learnt that the Northwest Company
were preparing to send out an armed ship of twenty guns, called
the Isaac Todd, to form an establishment at the mouth of the
Columbia. These tidings gave him great uneasiness. A considerable
proportion of the persons in his employ were Scotchmen and
Canadians, and several of them had been in the service of the
Northwest Company. Should Mr. Hunt have failed to arrive at
Astoria, the whole establishment would be under the control of
Mr. M'Dougal, of whose fidelity he had received very disparaging
accounts from Captain Thorn. The British government, also, might
deem it worth while to send a force against the establishment,
having been urged to do so some time previously by the Northwest

Under all these circumstances, Mr. Astor wrote to Mr. Monroe,
then secretary of state, requesting protection from the
government of the United States. He represented the importance of
his settlement, in a commercial point of view, and the shelter it
might afford to the American vessels in those seas. All he asked
was that the American government would throw forty or fifty men
into the fort at his establishment, which would be sufficient for
its defense until he could send reinforcements over land.

He waited in vain for a reply to this letter, the government, no
doubt, being engrossed at the time by an overwhelming crowd of
affairs. The month of March arrived, and the Lark was ordered by
Mr. Astor to put to sea. The officer who was to command her
shrunk from his engagement, and in the exigency of the moment,
she was given in charge to Mr. Northrup, the mate. Mr. Nicholas
G. Ogden, a gentleman on whose talents and integrity the highest
reliance could be placed, sailed as supercargo. The Lark put to
sea in the beginning of March, 1813.

By this opportunity, Mr. Astor wrote to Mr. Hunt, as head of the
establishment at the mouth of the Columbia, for he would not
allow himself to doubt of his welfare. "I always think you are
well," said he, "and that I shall see you again, which Heaven, I
hope, will grant."

He warned him to be on his guard against any attempts to surprise
the post; suggesting the probability of armed hostility on the
part of the Northwest Company, and expressing his indignation at
the ungrateful returns made by that association for his frank and
open conduct, and advantageous overtures. "Were I on the spot,"
said he, "and had the management of affairs, I would defy them
all; but, as it is, everything depends upon you and your friends
about you. Our enterprise is grand, and deserves success, and I
hope in God it will meet it. If my object was merely gain of
money, I should say, think whether it is best to save what we
can, and abandon the place; but the very idea is like a dagger to
my heart." This extract is sufficient to show the spirit and the
views which actuated Mr. Astor in this great undertaking.

Week after week and month after month elapsed, without anything
to dispel the painful incertitude that hung over every part of
this enterprise. Though a man of resolute spirit, and not easily
cast down, the dangers impending over this darling scheme of his
ambition, had a gradual effect upon the spirits of Mr. Astor. He
was sitting one gloomy evening by his window, revolving over the
loss of the Tonquin and the fate of her unfortunate crew, and
fearing that some equally tragical calamity might have befallen
the adventurers across the mountains, when the evening newspaper
was brought to him. The first paragraph that caught his eye,
announced the arrival of Mr. Stuart and his party at St. Louis,
with intelligence that Mr. Hunt and his companions had effected
their perilous expedition to the mouth of the Columbia. This was
a gleam of sunshine that for a time dispelled every cloud, and he
now looked forward with sanguine hope to the accomplishment of
all his plans.


Banks of the Wallah-Wallah.- Departure of David Stuart for the
Oakinagan.- Mr. Clarke's Route Up Lewis River.- Chipunnish, or
Pierced-Nose Indians- Their Character, Appearance, and Habits.-
Thievish Habits.- Laying Up of the Boats.- Post at Pointed Heart
and Spokan Rivers.- M'Kenzie, His Route Up the Camoenum.-Bands of
Travelling Indians.- Expedition of Reed to the Caches.-
Adventures of Wandering Voyageurs and Trappers.

THE course of our narrative now takes us back to the regions
beyond the mountains, to dispose of the parties that set out from
Astoria, in company with Mr. Robert Stuart, and whom he left on
the banks of the Wallah-Wallah. Those parties likewise separated
from each other shortly after his departure, proceeding to their
respective destinations, but agreeing to meet at the mouth of the
Wallah-Wallah about the beginning of June in the following year,
with such peltries as they should have collected in the winter,
so as to convoy each other through the dangerous passes of the

Mr. David Stuart, one of the partners, proceeded with his men to
the post already established by him at the mouth of the
Oakinagan; having furnished this with goods and ammunition, he
proceeded three hundred miles up that river, where he established
another post in a good trading neighborhood.

Mr. Clarke, another partner, conducted his little band up Lewis
River to the mouth of a small stream coming in from the north, to
which the Canadians gave the name of the Pavion. Here he found a
village or encampment of forty huts or tents, covered with mats,
and inhabited by Nez Perces, or Pierced-nose Indians, as they are
called by the traders; but Chipunnish, as they are called by
themselves. They are a hardy, laborious, and somewhat knavish
race, who lead a precarious life, fishing and digging roots
during the summer and autumn, hunting the deer on snow-shoes
during the winter, and traversing the Rocky Mountains in the
spring, to trade for buffalo skins with the hunting tribes of the
Missouri. In these migrations they are liable to be waylaid and
attacked by the Blackfeet, and other warlike and predatory
tribes, and driven back across the mountains with the loss of
their horses, and of many of their comrades.

A life of this unsettled and precarious kind is apt to render man
selfish, and such Mr. Clarke found the inhabitants of this
village, who were deficient in the usual hospitality of Indians;
parting with everything with extreme reluctance, and showing no
sensibility to any act of kindness. At the time of his arrival,
they were all occupied in catching and curing salmon. The men
were stout, robust, active, and good looking, and the women
handsomer than those of the tribes nearer to the coast.

It was the plan of Mr. Clarke to lay up his boats here, and
proceed by land to his place of destination, which was among the
Spokan tribe of Indians, about a hundred and fifty miles distant.
He accordingly endeavored to purchase horses for the journey, but
in this he had to contend with the sordid disposition of these
people. They asked high prices for their horses, and were so
difficult to deal with, that Mr. Clarke was detained seven days
among them before he could procure a sufficient number. During
that time he was annoyed by repeated pilferings, for which he
could get no redress. The chief promised to recover the stolen
articles; but failed to do so, alleging that the thieves belonged
to a distant tribe, and had made off with their booty. With this
excuse Mr. Clarke was fain to content himself, though he laid up
in his heart a bitter grudge against the whole Pierced-nose race,
which it will be found he took occasion subsequently to gratify
in a signal manner.

Having made arrangements for his departure, Mr. Clarke laid up
his barge and canoes in a sheltered place, on the banks of a
small bay, overgrown with shrubs and willows, confiding them to
the care of the Nez Perce chief, who, on being promised an ample
compensation, engaged to have a guardian eye upon them; then
mounting his steed, and putting himself at the head of his little
caravan, he shook the dust off his feet as he turned his back
upon this village of rogues and hard dealers. We shall not follow
him minutely in his journey; which lay at times over steep and
rocky hills, and among crags and precipices; at other times over
vast naked and sunburnt plains, abounding with rattlesnakes, in
traversing which, both men and horses suffered intolerably from
heat and thirst. The place on which he fixed for a trading post,
was a fine point of land, at the junction of the Pointed Heart
and Spokan Rivers. His establishment was intended to compete with
a trading post of the Northwest Company, situated at no great
distance, and to rival it in the trade with the Spokan Indians;
as well as with the Cootonais and Flatheads. In this neighborhood
we shall leave him for the present.

Mr. M'Kenzie, who conducted the third party from the Wallah-
Wallah, navigated for several days up the south branch of the
Columbia, named the Camoenum by the natives, but commonly called
Lewis River, in honor of the first explorer. Wandering bands of
various tribes were seen along this river, travelling in various
directions; for the Indians generally are restless, roving
beings, continually intent on enterprises of war, traffic, and
hunting. Some of these people were driving large gangs of horses,
as if to a distant market. Having arrived at the mouth of the
Shahaptan, he ascended some distance up that river, and
established his trading post upon its banks. This appeared to be
a great thoroughfare for the tribes from the neighborhood of the
Falls of the Columbia, in their expeditions to make war upon the
tribes of the Rocky Mountains; to hunt buffalo on the plains
beyond, or to traffic for roots and buffalo robes. It was the
season of migration, and the Indians from various distant parts
were passing and repassing in great numbers.

Mr. M'Kenzie now detached a small band, under the conduct of Mr.
John Reed, to visit the caches made by Mr. Hunt at the Caldron
Linn, and to bring the contents to his post; as he depended, in
some measure, on them for his supplies of goods and ammunition.
They had not been gone a week, when two Indians arrived of the
Pallatapalla tribe, who live upon a river of the same name. These
communicated the unwelcome intelligence that the caches had been
robbed. They said that some of their tribe had, in the course of
the preceding spring, been across the mountains, which separated
them from Snake River, and had traded horses with the Snakes in
exchange for blankets, robes and goods of various descriptions.
These articles the Snakes had procured from caches to which they
were guided by some white men who resided among them, and who
afterwards accompanied them across the Rocky Mountains. This
intelligence was extremely perplexing to Mr. M'Kenzie, but the
truth of part of it was confirmed by the two Indians, who brought
them an English saddle and bridle, which was recognized as having
belonged to Mr. Crooks. The perfidy of the white men who revealed
the secret of the caches, was, however, perfectly inexplicable.
We shall presently account for it in narrating the expedition of
Mr. Reed.

That worthy Hibernian proceeded on his mission with his usual
alacrity. His forlorn travels of the preceding winter had made
him acquainted with the topography of the country, and he reached
Snake River without any material difficulty. Here, in an
encampment of the natives, he met with six white men, wanderers
from the main expedition of Mr. Hunt, who, after having had their
respective shares of adventures and mishaps, had fortunately come
together at this place. Three of these men were Turcotte, La
Chapelle, and Francis Landry; the three Canadian voyageurs who,
it may be recollected, had left Mr. Crooks in February, in the
neighborhood of Snake River, being dismayed by the increasing
hardships of the journey, and fearful of perishing of hunger.
They had returned to a Snake encampment, where they passed the
residue of the winter.

Early in the spring, being utterly destitute, and in great
extremity, and having worn out the hospitality of the Snakes,
they determined to avail themselves of the buried treasures
within their knowledge. They accordingly informed the Snake
chieftains that they knew where a great quantity of goods had
been left in caches, enough to enrich the whole tribe; and
offered to conduct them to the place, on condition of being
rewarded with horses and provisions. The chieftains pledged their
faith and honor as great men and Snakes, and the three Canadians
conducted them to the place of deposit at the Caldron Linn. This
is the way that the savages got knowledge of the caches, and not
by following the tracks of wolves, as Mr. Stuart had supposed.
Never did money diggers turn up a miser's hoard with more eager
delight, than did the savages lay open the treasures of the
caches. Blankets and robes, brass trinkets and blue beads were
drawn forth with chuckling exultation, and long strips of scarlet
cloth produced yells of ecstasy.

The rifling of the caches effected a change in the fortunes and
deportment of the whole party. The Snakes were better clad and
equipped than ever were Snakes before, and the three Canadians,
suddenly finding themselves with horse to ride and weapon to
wear, were like beggars on horseback, ready to ride on any wild
scamper. An opportunity soon presented. The Snakes determined on
a hunting match on the buffalo prairies, to lay in a supply of
beef, that they might live in plenty, as became men of their
improved condition. The three newly mounted cavaliers, must fain
accompany them. They all traversed the Rocky Mountains in safety,
descended to the head waters of the Missouri, and made great
havoc among the buffaloes.

Their hunting camp was full of meat; they were gorging
themselves, like true Indians, with present plenty, and drying
and jerking great quantities for a winter's supply. In the midst
of their revelry and good cheer, the camp was surprised by the
Blackfeet. Several of the Snakes were slain on the spot; the
residue, with their three Canadian allies, fled to the mountains,
stripped of horses, buffalo meat, everything; and made their way
back to the old encampment on Snake River, poorer than ever, but
esteeming themselves fortunate in having escaped with their
lives. They had not been long there when the Canadians were
cheered by the sight of a companion in misfortune, Dubreull, the
poor voyageur who had left Mr. Crooks in March, being too much
exhausted to keep on with him. Not long afterwards, three other
straggling members of the main expedition made their appearance.
These were Carson, St. Michael, and Pierre Delaunay, three of the
trappers who, in company with Pierre Detaye, had been left among
the mountains by Mr. Hunt, to trap beaver, in the preceding month
of September. They had departed from the main body well armed and
provided, with horses to ride, and horses to carry the peltries
they were to collect. They came wandering into the Snake camp as
ragged and destitute as their predecessors. It appears that they
had finished their trapping, and were making their way in the
spring to the Missouri, when they were met and attacked by a
powerful band of the all-pervading Crows. They made a desperate
resistance, and killed seven of the savages, but were overpowered
by numbers. Pierre Detaye was slain, the rest were robbed of
horses and effects, and obliged to turn back, when they fell in
with their old companions as already mentioned.

We should observe, that at the heels of Pierre Delaunay came
draggling an Indian wife, whom he had picked up in his
wanderings; having grown weary of celibacy among the savages.

The whole seven of this forlorn fraternity of adventurers, thus
accidentally congregated on the banks of Snake River, were making
arrangements once more to cross the mountains, when some Indian
scouts brought word of the approach of the little band headed by
John Reed.

The latter, having heard the several stories of these wanderers,
took them all into his party, and set out for the Caldron Linn,
to clear out two or three of the caches which had not been
revealed to the Indians.

At that place he met with Robinson, the Kentucky veteran, who,
with his two comrades, Rezner and Hoback, had remained there when
Mr. Stuart went on. This adventurous trio had been trapping
higher up the river, but Robinson had come down in a canoe, to
await the expected arrival of the party, and obtain horses and
equipments. He told Reed the story of the robbery of his party by
the Arapahays, but it differed, in some particulars, from the
account given by him to Mr. Stuart. In that, he had represented
Cass as having shamefully deserted his companions in their
extremity, carrying off with him a horse; in the one now given,
he spoke of him as having been killed in the affray with the
Arapahays. This discrepancy, of which, of course, Reed could have
had no knowledge at the time, concurred with other circumstances,
to occasion afterwards some mysterious speculations and dark
surmises as to the real fate of Cass; but as no substantial
grounds were ever adduced for them, we forbear to throw any
deeper shades into this story of sufferings in the wilderness.

Mr. Reed, having gathered the remainder of the goods from the
caches, put himself at the head of his party, now augmented by
the seven men thus casually picked up, and the squaw of Pierre
Delaunay, and made his way successfully to M'Kenzie's Post, on
the waters of the Shahaptan.


Departure of Mr. Hunt in the Beaver- Precautions at the Factory.-
Detachment to the Wollamut.- Gloomy Apprehensions.- Arrival of
M'Kenzie.- Affairs at the Shahaptan.- News of War.- Dismay of
M'Dougal.-Determination to Abandon Astoria.-Departure of M'Kenzie
for the Interior.- Adventure at the Rapids.- Visit to the
Ruffians of Wish-ram. - A Perilous Situation.- Meeting With
M'Tavish and His Party.- Arrival at the Shahaptan.- Plundered
Caches.-Determination of the Wintering Partners Not to Leave the
Country.- Arrival of Clarke Among the Nez Perces.- The Affair of
the Silver Goblet.- Hanging of An Indian.- Arrival of the
Wintering Partners at Astoria.

AFTER the departure of the different detachments, or brigades, as
they are called by the fur traders, the Beaver prepared for her
voyage along the coast, and her visit to the Russian
establishment, at New Archangel, where she was to carry supplies.
It had been determined in the council of partners at Astoria,
that Mr. Hunt should embark in this vessel, for the purpose of
acquainting himself with the coasting trade, and of making
arrangements with the commander of the Russian post, and that he
should be re-landed in October, at Astoria, by the Beaver, on her
way to the Sandwich Islands and Canton.

The Beaver put to sea in the month of August. Her departure and
that of the various brigades, left the fortress of Astoria but
slightly garrisoned. This was soon perceived by some of the
Indian tribes, and the consequence was increased insolence of
deportment, and a disposition to hostility. It was now the
fishing season, when the tribes from the northern coast drew into
the neighborhood of the Columbia. These were warlike and
perfidious in their dispositions; and noted for their attempts to
surprise trading ships. Among them were numbers of the Neweetees,
the ferocious tribe that massacred the crew of the Tonquin.

Great precautions, therefore, were taken at the factory, to guard
against surprise while these dangerous intruders were in the
vicinity. Galleries were constructed inside of the palisades; the
bastions were heightened, and sentinels were posted day and
night. Fortunately, the Chinooks and other tribes resident in the
vicinity manifested the most pacific disposition. Old Comcomly,
who held sway over them, was a shrewd calculator. He was aware of
the advantages of having the whites as neighbors and allies, and
of the consequence derived to himself and his people from acting
as intermediate traders between them and the distant tribes. He
had, therefore, by this time, become a firm friend of the
Astorians, and formed a kind of barrier between them and the
hostile intruders from the north.

The summer of 1812 passed away without any of the hostilities
that had been apprehended; the Neweetees, and other dangerous
visitors to the neighborhood, finished their fishing and returned
home, and the inmates of the factory once more felt secure from

It now became necessary to guard against other evils. The season
of scarcity arrived, which commences in October, and lasts until
the end of January. To provide for the support of the garrison,
the shallop was employed to forage about the shores of the river.
A number of the men, also, under the command of some of the
clerks, were sent to quarter themselves on the banks of the
Wollamut (the Multnomah of Lewis and Clarke) , a fine river which
disembogues itself into the Columbia, about sixty miles above
Astoria. The country bordering on the river is finely diversified
with prairies and hills, and forests of oak, ash, maple, and
cedar. It abounded, at that time, with elk and deer, and the
streams were well stocked with beaver. Here the party, after
supplying their own wants, were enabled to pack up quantities of
dried meat, and send it by canoes to Astoria.

The month of October elapsed without the return of the Beaver.
November, December, January, passed away, and still nothing was
seen or heard of her. Gloomy apprehensions now began to be
entertained: she might have been wrecked in the course of her
coasting voyage, or surprised, like the Tonquin, by some of the
treacherous tribes of the north.

No one indulged more in these apprehensions than M'Dougal, who
had now the charge of the establishment. He no longer evinced the
bustling confidence and buoyancy which once characterized him.
Command seemed to have lost its charms for him, or rather, he
gave way to the most abject despondency, decrying the whole
enterprise, magnifying every untoward circumstance, and
foreboding nothing but evil.

While in this moody state, he was surprised, on the 16th of
January, by the sudden appearance of M'Kenzie, wayworn and
weather-beaten by a long wintry journey from his post on the
Shahaptan, and with a face the very frontispiece for a volume of
misfortune. M'Kenzie had been heartily disgusted and disappointed
at his post. It was in the midst of the Tushepaws, a powerful and
warlike nation, divided into many tribes, under different chiefs,
who possessed innumerable horses, but, not having turned their
attention to beaver trapping, had no furs to offer. According to
M'Kenzie, they were but a "rascally tribe; " from which we may
infer that they were prone to consult their own interests more
than comported with the interests of a greedy Indian trader.

Game being scarce, he was obliged to rely, for the most part, on
horse-flesh for subsistence, and the Indians discovering his
necessities, adopted a policy usual in civilized trade, and
raised the price of horses to an exorbitant rate, knowing that he
and his men must eat or die. In this way, the goods he had
brought to trade for beaver skins, were likely to be bartered for
horseflesh, and all the proceeds devoured upon the spot.

He had despatched trappers in various directions, but the country
around did not offer more beaver than his own station. In this
emergency he began to think of abandoning his unprofitable post,
sending his goods to the posts of Clarke and David Stuart, who
could make a better use of them, as they were in a good beaver
country, and returning with his party to Astoria, to seek some
better destination. With this view he repaired to the post of Mr.
Clarke, to hold a consultation. While the two partners were in
conference in Mr. Clarke's wigwam, an unexpected visitor came
bustling in upon them.

This was Mr. John George M'Tavish, a partner of the Northwest
Company, who had charge of the rival trading posts established in
that neighborhood. Mr. M'Tavish was the delighted messenger of
bad news. He had been to Lake Winnipeg, where he received an
express from Canada, containing the declaration of war, and
President Madison's proclamation, which he handed with the most
officious complaisance to Messrs. Clarke and M'Kenzie. He
moreover told them that he had received a fresh supply of goods
from the Northwest posts on the other side of the Rocky
Mountains, and was prepared for vigorous opposition to the
establishment of the American Company. He capped the climax of
this obliging but belligerent intelligence, by informing them
that the armed ship, Isaac Todd, was to be at the mouth of the
Columbia about the beginning of March, to get possession of the
trade of the river, and that he was ordered to join her there at
that time.

The receipt of this news determined M'Kenzie. He immediately
returned to the Shahaptan, broke up his establishment, deposited
his goods in cache, and hastened with all his people to Astoria.

The intelligence thus brought, completed the dismay of M'Dougal,
and seemed to produce a complete confusion of mind. He held a
council of war with M'Kenzie, at which some of the clerks were
present, but of course had no votes. They gave up all hope of
maintaining their post at Astoria. The Beaver had probably been
lost; they could receive no aid from the United States, as all
the ports would be blockaded. From England nothing could be
expected but hostility. It was determined, therefore, to abandon
the establishment in the course of the following spring, and
return across the Rocky Mountains. In pursuance of this
resolution, they suspended all trade with the natives, except for
provisions, having already more peltries than they could carry
away, and having need of all the goods for the clothing and
subsistence of their people, during the remainder of their
sojourn, and on their journey across the mountains, This
intention of abandoning Astoria was, however, kept secret from
the men, lest they should at once give up all labor, and become
restless and insubordinate.

In the meantime, M'Kenzie set off for his post at the Shahaptan,
to get his goods from the caches, and buy horses and provisions
with them for the caravan across the mountains. He was charged
with despatches from M'Dougal to Messrs. Stuart and Clarke,
appraising them of the intended migration, that they might make
timely preparations.

M'Kenzie was accompanied by two of the clerks, Mr. John Reed, the
Irishman, and Mr. Alfred Seton, of New York. They embarked in two
canoes, manned by seventeen men, and ascended the river without
any incident of importance, until they arrived in the eventful
neighborhood of the rapids. They made the portage of the narrows
and the falls early in the afternoon, and, having partaken of a
scanty meal, had now a long evening on their hands.

On the opposite side of the river lay the village of Wish-ram, of
freebooting renown. Here lived the savages who had robbed and
maltreated Reed, when bearing his tin box of despatches. It was
known that the rifle of which he was despoiled was retained as a
trophy at the village. M'Kenzie offered to cross the river, and
demand the rifle, if any one would accompany him. It was a hare-
brained project, for these villages were noted for the ruffian
character of their inhabitants; yet two volunteers promptly
stepped forward; Alfred Seton, the clerk, and Joe de la Pierre,
the cook. The trio soon reached the opposite side of the river.
On landing, they freshly primed their rifles and pistols. A path
winding for about a hundred yards among rocks and crags, led to
the village. No notice seemed to be taken of their approach. Not
a solitary being, man, woman, or child, greeted them.

The very dogs, those noisy pests of an Indian town, kept silence.
On entering the village, a boy made his appearance, and pointed
to a house of larger dimensions than the rest. They had to stoop
to enter it; as soon as they had passed the threshold, the narrow
passage behind them was filled up by a sudden rush of Indians,
who had before kept out of sight.

M'Kenzie and his companions found themselves in a rude chamber of
about twenty-five feet long and twenty wide. A bright fire was
blazing at one end, near which sat the chief, about sixty years
old. A large number of Indians, wrapped in buffalo robes, were
squatted in rows, three deep, forming a semicircle round three
sides of the room. A single glance around sufficed to show them
the grim and dangerous assembly into which they had intruded, and
that all retreat was cut off by the mass which blocked up the

The chief pointed to the vacant side of the room opposite to the
door, and motioned for them to take their seats. They complied. A
dead pause ensued. The grim warriors around sat like statues;
each muffled in his robe, with his fierce eyes bent on the
intruders. The latter felt they were in a perilous predicament.

"Keep your eyes on the chief while I am addressing him," said
M'Kenzie to his companions. "Should he give any sign to his band,
shoot him, and make for the door."

M'Kenzie advanced, and offered the pipe of peace to the chief,
but it was refused. He then made a regular speech, explaining the
object of their visit, and proposing to give in exchange for the
rifle two blankets, an axe, some beads and tobacco.

When he had done, the chief rose, began to address him in a low
voice, but soon became loud and violent, and ended by working
himself up into a furious passion. He upbraided the white men for
their sordid conduct in passing and repassing through their
neighborhood, without giving them a blanket or any other article
of goods, merely because they had no furs to barter in exchange,
and he alluded, with menaces of vengeance, to the death of the
Indian killed by the whites in the skirmish at the falls.

Matters were verging to a crisis. It was evident the surrounding
savages were only waiting a signal from the chief to spring upon
their prey. M'Kenzie and his companions had gradually risen on
their feet during the speech, and had brought their rifles to a
horizontal position, the barrels resting in their left hands; the
muzzle of M'Kenzie's piece was within three feet of the speaker's
heart. They cocked their rifles; the click of the locks for a
moment suffused the dark cheek of the savage, and there was a
pause. They coolly, but promptly, advanced to the door; the
Indians fell back in awe, and suffered them to pass. The sun was
just setting, as they emerged from this dangerous den. They took
the precaution to keep along the tops of the rocks as much as
possible on their way back to the canoe, and reached their camp
in safety, congratulating themselves on their escape, and feeling
no desire to make a second visit to the grim warriors of Wish-

M'Kenzie and his party resumed their journey the next morning. At
some distance above the falls of the Columbia, they observed two
bark canoes, filled with white men, coming down the river, to the
full chant of a set of Canadian voyageurs. A parley ensued. It
was a detachment of Northwesters, under the command of Mr. John
George M'Tavish, bound, full of song and spirit, to the mouth of
the Columbia, to await the arrival of the Isaac Todd.

Mr. M'Kenzie and M'Tavish came to a halt, and landing, encamped
for the night. The voyageurs of either party hailed each other as
brothers, and old "comrades," and they mingled together as if
united by one common interest, instead of belonging to rival
companies, and trading under hostile flags.

In the morning they proceeded on their different ways, in style
corresponding to their different fortunes: the one toiling
painfully against the stream, the other sweeping down gayly with
the Current.

M'Kenzie arrived safely at his deserted post on the Shahaptan,
but found, to his chagrin, that his caches had been discovered
and rifled by the Indians. Here was a dilemma, for on the stolen
goods he had depended to purchase horses of the Indians. He sent
out men in all directions to endeavor to discover the thieves,
and despatched Mr. Reed to the posts of Messrs. Clarke and David
Stuart, with the letters of Mr. M'Dougal.

The resolution announced in these letters, to break up and depart
from Astoria, was condemned by both Clarke and Stuart. These two
gentlemen had been very successful at their posts, and considered
it rash and pusillanimous to abandon, on the first difficulty, an
enterprise of such great cost and ample promise. They made no
arrangements, therefore, for leaving the country, but acted with
a view to the maintenance of their new and prosperous

The regular time approached, when the partners of the interior -
posts were to rendezvous at the mouth of the Wallah-Wallah, on
their way to Astoria, with the peltries they had collected. Mr.
Clarke accordingly packed all his furs on twenty-eight horses,
and, leaving a clerk and four men to take charge of the post,
departed on the 25th of May with the residue of his force.

On the 30th, he arrived at the confluence of the Pavion and Lewis
rivers, where he had left his barge and canoes, in the
guardianship of the old Pierced-nosed chieftain. That dignitary
had acquitted himself more faithfully to his charge than Mr.
Clarke had expected, and the canoes were found in very tolerable
order. Some repairs were necessary, and, while they were making,
the party encamped close by the village. Having had repeated and
vexatious proofs of the pilfering propensities of this tribe
during his former visit, Mr. Clarke ordered that a wary eye
should be kept upon them.

He was a tall, good-looking man, and somewhat given to pomp and
circumstance, which made him an object of note in the eyes of the
wondering savages. He was stately, too, in his appointments, and
had a silver goblet or drinking cup, out of which he would drink
with a magnificent air, and then lock it up in a large garde vin,
which accompanied him in his travels, and stood in his tent. This
goblet had originally been sent as a present from Mr. Astor to
Mr. M'Kay, the partner who had unfortunately been blown up in the
Tonquin. As it reached Astoria after the departure of that
gentleman, it had remained in the possession of Mr. Clarke.

A silver goblet was too glittering a prize not to catch the eye
of a Pierced-nose. It was like the shining tin case of John Reed.
Such a wonder had never been seen in the land before. The Indians
talked about it to one another. They marked the care with which
it was deposited in the garde vin, like a relic in its shrine,
and concluded that it must be a "great medicine." That night Mr.
Clarke neglected to lock up his treasure; in the morning the
sacred casket was open - the precious relic gone!

Clarke was now outrageous. All the past vexations that he had
suffered from this pilfering community rose to mind, and he
threatened that, unless the goblet was promptly returned, he
would hang the thief, should he eventually discover him. The day
passed away, however, without the restoration of the cup. At
night sentinels were secretly posted about the camp. With all
their vigilance, a Pierced-nose contrived to get into the camp
unperceived, and to load himself with booty; it was only on his
retreat that he was discovered and taken.

At daybreak the culprit was brought to trial, and promptly
convicted. He stood responsible for all the spoliations of the
camp, the precious goblet among the number, and Mr. Clarke passed
sentence of death upon him.

A gibbet was accordingly constructed of oars; the chief of the
village and his people were assembled, and the, culprit was
produced, with his legs and arms pinioned. Clarke then made a
harangue. He reminded the tribe of the benefits he had bestowed
upon them during his former visits, and the many thefts and other
misdeeds which he had overlooked. The prisoner, especially, had
always been peculiarly well treated by the white men, but had
repeatedly been guilty of pilfering. He was to be punished for
his own misdeeds, and as a warning to his tribe.

The Indians now gathered round Mr. Clarke, and interceded for the
culprit. They were willing he should be punished severely, but
implored that his life might be spared. The companions, too, of
Mr. Clarke, considered the sentence too severe, and advised him
to mitigate it; but he was inexorable. He was not naturally a
stern or cruel man; but from his boyhood he had lived in the
Indian country among Indian traders, and held the life of a
savage extremely cheap. He was, moreover, a firm believer in the
doctrine of intimidation.

Farnham, a clerk, a tall "Green Mountain boy" from Vermont, who
had been robbed of a pistol, acted as executioner. The signal was
given, and the poor Pierced-nose resisting, struggling, and
screaming, in the most frightful manner, was launched into
eternity. The Indians stood round gazing in silence and mute awe,
but made no attempt to oppose the execution, nor testified any
emotion when it was over. They locked up their feelings within
their bosoms until an opportunity should arrive to gratify them
with a bloody act of vengeance.

To say nothing of the needless severity of this act, its impolicy
was glaringly obvious. Mr. M'Lennan and three men were to return
to the post with the horses, their loads having been transferred
to the canoes. They would have to pass through a tract of country
infested by this tribe, who were all horsemen and hard riders,
and might pursue them to take vengeance for the death of their
comrade. M'Lennan, however, was a resolute fellow, and made light
of all dangers. He and his three men were present at the
execution, and set off as soon as life was extinct in the victim;
but, to use the words of one of their comrades, "they did not let
the grass grow under the heels of their horses, as they clattered
out of the Pierced-nose country," and were glad to find
themselves in safety at the post.

Mr. Clarke and his party embarked about the same time in their
canoes, and early on the following day reached the mouth of the
Wallah-Wallah, where they found Messrs. Stuart and M'Kenzie
awaiting them; the latter having recovered part of the goods
stolen from his cache. Clarke informed them of the signal
punishment he had inflicted on the Pierced-nose, evidently
expecting to excite their admiration by such a hardy act of
justice, performed in the very midst of the Indian country, but
was mortified at finding it strongly censured as inhuman,
unnecessary, and likely to provoke hostilities.

The parties thus united formed a squadron of two boats and six
canoes, with which they performed their voyage in safety down the
river, and arrived at Astoria on the 12th of June, bringing with
them a valuable stock of peltries.

About ten days previously, the brigade which had been quartered
on the banks of the Wollamut, had arrived with numerous packs of
beaver, the result of a few months' sojourn on that river. These
were the first fruits of the enterprise, gathered by men as yet
mere strangers in the land; but they were such as to give
substantial grounds for sanguine anticipations of profit, when
the country should be more completely explored, and the trade


The Partners Displeased With M'Dougal.- Equivocal Conduct of That
Gentleman- Partners Agree to Abandon Astoria.- Sale of Goods to
M'Tavish.- Arrangements for the Year.- Manifesto Signed by the
Partners- Departure of M'Tavish for the Interior.

THE partners found Mr. M'Dougal in all the bustle of preparation;
having about nine days previously announced at the factory, his
intention of breaking up the establishment, and fixed upon the
1st of July for the time of departure. Messrs. Stuart and Clarke
felt highly displeased at his taking so precipitate a step,
without waiting for their concurrence, when he must have known
that their arrival could not be far distant.

Indeed, the whole conduct of Mr. M'Dougal was such as to awaken
strong doubts as to his loyal devotion to the cause. His old
sympathies with the Northwest Company seem to have revived. He
had received M'Tavish and his party with uncalled for
hospitality, as though they were friends and allies, instead of
being a party of observation, come to reconnoitre the state of
affairs at Astoria, and to await the arrival of a hostile ship.
Had they been left to themselves, they would have been starved
off for want of provisions, or driven away by the Chinooks, who
only wanted a signal from the factory to treat them as intruders
and enemies. M'Dougal, on the contrary, had supplied them from
the stores of the garrison, and had gained them the favor of the
Indians, by treating them as friends.

Having set his mind fixedly on the project of breaking up the
establishment at Astoria, in the current year, M'Dougal was
sorely disappointed at finding that Messrs. Stuart and Clarke had
omitted to comply with his request to purchase horses and
provisions for the caravan across the mountains. It was now too
late to make the necessary preparations in time for traversing
the mountains before winter, and the project had to be postponed.

In the meantime, the non-arrival of the annual ship, and the
apprehensions entertained of the loss of the Beaver and of Mr.
Hunt, had their effect upon the minds of Messrs. Stuart and
Clarke. They began to listen to the desponding representations of
M'Dougal, seconded by M'Kenzie, who inveighed against their
situation as desperate and forlorn; left to shift for themselves,
or perish upon a barbarous coast; neglected by those who sent
them there; and threatened with dangers of every kind. In this
way they were brought to consent to the plan of abandoning the
country in the ensuing year.

About this time, M'Tavish applied at the factory to purchase a
small supply of goods wherewith to trade his way back to his post
on the upper waters of the Columbia, having waited in vain for
the arrival of the Isaac Todd. His request brought on a
consultation among the partners. M'Dougal urged that it should be
complied with. He furthermore proposed, that they should give up
to M'Tavish, for a proper consideration, the post on the Spokan,
and all its dependencies, as they had not sufficient goods on
hand to supply that post themselves, and to keep up a competition
with the Northwest Company in the trade with the neighboring
Indians. This last representation has since been proved
incorrect. By inventories, it appears that their stock in hand
for the supply of the interior posts, was superior to that of the
Northwest Company; so that they had nothing to fear from

Through the influence of Messrs. M'Dougal and M'Kenzie, this
proposition was adopted, and was promptly accepted by M'Tavish.
The merchandise sold to him amounted to eight hundred and fifty-
eight dollars, to be paid for, in the following spring, in
horses, or in any other manner most acceptable to the partners at
that period.

This agreement being concluded, the partners formed their plans
for the year that they would yet have to pass in the country.
Their objects were, chiefly, present subsistence, and the
purchase of horses for the contemplated journey, though they were
likewise to collect as much peltries as their diminished means
would command. Accordingly, it was arranged that David Stuart
should return to his former post on the Oakinagan, and Mr. Clarke
should make his sojourn among the Flatheads. John Reed, the
sturdy Hibernian, was to undertake the Snake River country,
accompanied by Pierre Dorion and Pierre Delaunay, as hunters, and
Francis Landry, Jean Baptiste Turcotte, Andre la Chapelle, and
Gilles le Clerc, Canadian voyageurs.

Astoria, however, was the post about which they felt the greatest
solicitude, and on which they all more or less depended. The
maintenance of this in safety throughout the coming year, was,
therefore, their grand consideration. Mr. M'Dougal was to
continue in command of it, with a party of forty men. They would
have to depend chiefly upon the neighboring savages for their
subsistence. These, at present, were friendly, but it was to be
feared that, when they should discover the exigencies of the
post, and its real weakness, they might proceed to hostilities;
or, at any rate, might cease to furnish their usual supplies. It
was important, therefore, to render the place as independent as
possible, of the surrounding tribes for its support; and it was
accordingly resolved that M'Kenzie, with four hunters, and eight
common men, should winter in the abundant country of Wollamut,
from whence they might be enabled to furnish a constant supply of
provisions to Astoria.

As there was too great a proportion of clerks for the number of
privates in the service, the engagements of three of them, Ross
Cox, Ross, and M'Lennan, were surrendered to them, and they
immediately enrolled themselves in the service of the Northwest
Company; glad, no doubt, to escape from what they considered a
sinking ship.

Having made all these arrangements, the four partners, on the
first of July, signed a formal manifesto, stating the alarming
state of their affairs, from the non-arrival of the annual ship,
and the absence and apprehended loss of the Beaver, their want of
goods, their despair of receiving any further supply, their
ignorance of the coast, and their disappointment as to the
interior trade, which they pronounced unequal to the expenses
incurred, and incompetent to stand against the powerful
opposition of the Northwest Company. And as by the 16th article
of the company's agreement, they were authorized to abandon this
undertaking, and dissolve the concern, if before the period of
five years it should be found unprofitable, they now formally
announced their intention to do so on the 1st day of June, of the
ensuing year, unless in the interim they should receive the
necessary support and supplies from Mr. Astor, or the
stockholders, with orders to continue.

This instrument, accompanied by private letters of similar
import, was delivered to Mr. M'Tavish, who departed on the 5th of
July. He engaged to forward the despatches to Mr. Astor, by the
usual winter express sent overland by the Northwest Company.

The manifesto was signed with great reluctance by Messrs. Clarke
and D. Stuart, whose experience by no means justified the
discouraging account given in it of the internal trade, and who
considered the main difficulties of exploring an unknown and
savage country, and of ascertaining the best trading and trapping
grounds, in a great measure overcome. They were overruled,
however, by the urgent instances of M'Dougal and M'Kenzie, who,
having resolved upon abandoning the enterprise, were desirous of
making as strong a case as possible to excuse their conduct to
Mr. Astor and to the world.


Anxieties of Mr. Astor.- Memorial of the Northwest Company-
Tidings of a British Naval Expedition Against Astoria. - Mr.
Astor Applies to Government for Protection.- The Frigate Adams
Ordered to be Fitted Out.- Bright News From Astoria.- Sunshine
Suddenly Overclouded.

WHILE difficulties and disasters had been gathering about the
infant settlement of Astoria, the mind of its projector at New
York was a prey to great anxiety. The ship Lark, despatched by
him with supplies for the establishment, sailed on the 6th of
March, 1813. Within a fortnight afterwards, he received
intelligence which justified all his apprehensions of hostility
on the part of the British. The Northwest Company had made a
second memorial to that government, representing Astoria as an
American establishment, stating the vast scope of its
contemplated operations, magnifying the strength of its
fortifications, and expressing their fears that, unless crushed
in the bud, it would effect the downfall of their trade.

Influenced by these representations, the British government
ordered the frigate Phoebe to be detached as a convoy for the
armed ship, Isaac Todd, which was ready to sail with men and
munitions for forming a new establishment. They were to proceed
together to the mouth of the Columbia, capture or destroy
whatever American fortress they should find there, and plant the
British flag on its ruins.

Informed of these movements, Mr. Astor lost no time in addressing
a second letter to the secretary of state, communicating this
intelligence, and requesting it might be laid before the
President; as no notice, however, had been taken of his previous
letter, he contented himself with this simple communication, and
made no further application for aid.

Awakened now to the danger that menaced the establishment at
Astoria, and aware of the importance of protecting this foothold
of American commerce and empire on the shores of the Pacific, the
government determined to send the frigate Adams, Captain Crane,
upon this service. On hearing of this determination, Mr. Astor
immediately proceeded to fit out a ship called the Enterprise, to
sail in company with the Adams, freighted with additional
supplies and reinforcements for Astoria.

About the middle of June, while in the midst of these
preparations, Mr. Astor received a letter from Mr. R. Stuart,
dated St. Louis, May 1st, confirming the intelligence already
received through the public newspapers, of his safe return, and
of the arrival of Mr. Hunt and his party at Astoria, and giving
the most flattering accounts of the prosperity of the enterprise.

So deep had been the anxiety of Mr. Astor, for the success of
this object of his ambition, that this gleam of good news was
almost overpowering. "I felt ready," said he, "to fall upon my
knees in a transport of gratitude."

At the same time he heard that the Beaver had made good her
voyage from New York to the Columbia. This was additional ground
of hope for the welfare of the little colony. The post being thus
relieved and strengthened, with an American at its head, and a
ship of war about to sail for its protection, the prospect for
the future seemed full of encouragement, and Mr. Astor proceeded
with fresh vigor to fit out his merchant ship.

Unfortunately for Astoria, this bright gleam of sunshine was soon
overclouded. just as the Adams had received her complement of
men, and the two vessels were ready for sea, news came from
Commodore Chauncey, commanding on Lake Ontario, that a
reinforcement of seamen was wanted in that quarter. The demand
was urgent, the crew of the Adams was immediately transferred to
that service, and the ship was laid up.

This was a most ill-timed and discouraging blow, but Mr. Astor
would not yet allow himself to pause in his undertaking. He
determined to send the Enterprise to sea alone, and let her take
the chance of making her unprotected way across the ocean. Just
at this time, however, a British force made its appearance off
the Hook; and the port of New York was effectually blockaded. To
send a ship to sea under these circumstances, would be to expose
her to almost certain capture. The Enterprise was, therefore,
unloaded and dismantled, and Mr. Astor was obliged to comfort
himself with the hope that the Lark might reach Astoria in safety
and, that, aided by her supplies, and by the good management of
Mr. Hunt and his associates, the little colony might be able to
maintain itself until the return of peace.


Affairs of State at Astoria.-M'Dougal Proposes for the Hand of An
Indian Princess- Matrimonial Embassy to Comcomly.- Matrimonial
Notions Among the Chinooks.- Settlements and Pin-Money.- The
Bringing Home of the Bride.- A Managing Father-in-Law.- Arrival
of Mr. Hunt at Astoria.

WE have hitherto had so much to relate of a gloomy and disastrous
nature, that it is with a feeling of momentary relief we turn to
something of a more pleasing complexion, and record the first,
and indeed only nuptials in high life that took place in the
infant settlement of Astoria.

M'Dougal, who appears to have been a man of a thousand projects,
and of great, though somewhat irregular ambition, suddenly
conceived the idea of seeking the hand of one of the native
princesses, a daughter of the one-eyed potentate Comcomly, who
held sway over the fishing tribe of the Chinooks, and had long
supplied the factory with smelts and sturgeons.

Some accounts give rather a romantic origin to this affair,
tracing it to the stormy night when M'Dougal, in the course of an
exploring expedition, was driven by stress of weather to seek
shelter in the royal abode of Comcomly. Then and there he was
first struck with the charms of the piscatory princess, as she
exerted herself to entertain her father's guest.

The "journal of Astoria," however, which was kept under his own
eye, records this union as a high state alliance, and great
stroke of policy. The factory had to depend, in a great measure,
on the Chinooks for provisions. They were at present friendly,
but it was to be feared they would prove otherwise, should they
discover the weakness and the exigencies of the post, and the
intention to leave the country. This alliance, therefore, would
infallibly rivet Comcomly to the interests of the Astorians, and
with him the powerful tribe of the Chinooks. Be this as it may,
and it is hard to fathom the real policy of governors and
princes, M'Dougal despatched two of the clerks as ambassadors
extraordinary, to wait upon the one-eyed chieftain, and make
overtures for the hand of his daughter.

The Chinooks, though not a very refined nation, have notions of
matrimonial arrangements that would not disgrace the most refined
sticklers for settlements and pin-money. The suitor repairs not
to the bower of his mistress, but to her father's lodge, and
throws down a present at his feet. His wishes are then disclosed
by some discreet friend employed by him for the purpose. If the
suitor and his present find favor in the eyes of the father, he
breaks the matter to his daughter, and inquires into the state of
her inclinations. Should her answer be favorable, the suit is
accepted and the lover has to make further presents to the
father, of horses, canoes, and other valuables, according to the
beauty and merits of the bride; looking forward to a return in
kind whenever they shall go to housekeeping.

We have more than once had occasion to speak of the shrewdness,
of Comcomly; but never was it exerted more adroitly than on this
occasion. He was a great friend of M'Dougal, and pleased with the
idea of having so distinguished a son-in-law; but so favorable an
opportunity of benefiting his own fortune was not likely to occur
a second time, and he determined to make the most of it.
Accordingly, the negotiation was protracted with true diplomatic
skill. Conference after conference was held with the two
ambassadors. Comcomly was extravagant in his terms; rating the
charms of his daughter at the highest price, and indeed she is
represented as having one of the flattest and most aristocratical
heads in the tribe. At length the preliminaries were all happily
adjusted. On the 20th of July, early in the afternoon, a squadron
of canoes crossed over from the village of the Chinooks, bearing
the royal family of Comcomly, and all his court.

That worthy sachem landed in princely state, arrayed in a bright
blue blanket and red breech clout, with an extra quantity of
paint and feathers, attended by a train of half-naked warriors
and nobles. A horse was in waiting to receive the princess, who
was mounted behind one of the clerks, and thus conveyed, coy but
compliant, to the fortress. Here she was received with devout,
though decent joy, by her expecting bridegroom.

Her bridal adornments, it is true, at first caused some little
dismay, having painted and anointed herself for the occasion
according to the Chinook toilet; by dint, however, of copious
ablutions, she was freed from all adventitious tint and
fragrance, and entered into the nuptial state, the cleanest
princess that had ever been known, of the somewhat unctuous tribe
of the Chinooks.

From that time forward, Comcomly was a daily visitor at the fort,
and was admitted into the most intimate councils of his son-in-
law. He took an interest in everything that was going forward,
but was particularly frequent in his visits to the blacksmith's
shop; tasking the labors of the artificer in iron for every
state, insomuch that the necessary business of the factory was
often postponed to attend to his requisitions.

The honey-moon had scarce passed away, and M'Dougal was seated
with his bride in the fortress of Astoria, when, about noon of
the 20th of August, Gassacop, the son of Comcomly, hurried into
his presence with great agitation, and announced a ship at the
mouth of the river. The news produced a vast sensation. Was it a
ship of peace or war? Was it American or British? Was it the
Beaver or the Isaac Todd? M'Dougal hurried to the waterside,
threw himself into a boat, and ordered the hands to pull with all
speed for the mouth of the harbor. Those in the fort remained
watching the entrance of the river, anxious to know whether they
were to prepare for greeting a friend or fighting an enemy. At
length the ship was descried crossing the bar, and bending her
course towards Astoria. Every gaze was fixed upon her in silent
scrutiny, until the American flag was recognized. A general shout
was the first expression of joy, and next a salutation was
thundered from the cannon of the fort.

The vessel came to anchor on the opposite side of the river, and
returned the salute. The boat of Mr. M'Dougal went on board, and
was seen returning late in the afternoon. The Astorians watched
her with straining eyes, to discover who were on board, but the
sun went down, and the evening closed in, before she was
sufficiently near. At length she reached the land, and Mr. Hunt
stepped on shore. He was hailed as one risen from the dead, and
his return was a signal for merriment almost equal to that which
prevailed at the nuptials of M'Dougal.

We must now explain the cause of this gentleman's long absence,
which had given rise to such gloomy and dispiriting surmises.


Voyage of the Beaver to New Archangel.- A Russian Governor.-
Roystering Rule.- The Tyranny of the Table- Hard Drinking
Bargainings.- Voyage to Kamtschatka.- Seal Catching Establishment
at St. Paul's.- Storms at Sea.- Mr. Hunt Left at the Sandwich
Islands. -Transactions of the Beaver at Canton.-Return of Mr.
Hunt to Astoria.

IT will be recollected that the destination of the Boston, when
she sailed from Astoria on the 4th of August in 1812, was to
proceed northwardly along the coast to Sheetka, or New Archangel,
there to dispose of that part of her cargo intended for the
supply of the Russian establishment at that place, and then to
return to Astoria, where it was expected she would arrive in

New Archangel is situated in Norfolk Sound, lat. 57deg 2' N.,
long. 135deg 50' W. It was the head-quarters of the different
colonies of the Russian Fur Company, and the common rendezvous of
the American vessels trading along the coast.

The Beaver met with nothing worthy of particular mention in her
voyage, and arrived at New Archangel on the 19th of August. The
place at that time was the residence of Count Baranoff, the
governor of the different colonies; a rough, rugged, hospitable,
hard-drinking old Russian; somewhat of a soldier; somewhat of a
trader; above all, a boon companion of the old roystering school,
with a strong cross of the bear.

Mr. Hunt found this hyperborean veteran ensconced in a fort which
crested the whole of a rocky promontory. It mounted one hundred
guns, large and small, and was impregnable to Indian attack,
unaided by artillery. Here the old governor lorded it over sixty
Russians, who formed the corps of the trading establishment,
besides an indefinite number of Indian hunters of the Kodiak
tribe, who were continually coming and going, or lounging and
loitering about the fort like so many hounds round a sportsman's
hunting quarters. Though a loose liver among his guests, the
governor was a strict disciplinarian among his men; keeping them
in perfect subjection, and having seven on guard night and day.

Besides those immediate serfs and dependents just mentioned, the
old Russian potentate exerted a considerable sway over a numerous
and irregular class of maritime traders, who looked to him for
aid and munitions, and through whom he may be said to have, in
some degree, extended his power along the whole northwest coast.
These were American captains of vessels engaged in a particular
department of the trade. One of these captains would come, in a
manner, empty-handed to New Archangel. Here his ship would be
furnished with about fifty canoes and a hundred Kodiak hunters,
and fitted out with provisions, and everything necessary for
hunting the sea-otter on the coast of California, where the
Russians have another establishment. The ship would ply along the
California coast from place to place, dropping parties of otter
hunters in their canoes, furnishing them only with water, and
leaving them to depend upon their own dexterity for a
maintenance. When a sufficient cargo was collected, she would
gather up her canoes and hunters, and return with them to
Archangel; where the captain would render in the returns of his
voyage, and receive one half of the skins for his share.

Over these coasting captains, as we have hinted, the veteran
governor exerted some sort of sway, but it was of a peculiar and
characteristic kind; it was the tyranny of the table. They were
obliged to join him in his "prosnics" or carousals, and to drink
"potations pottle deep." His carousals, too, were not of the most
quiet kind, nor were his potations as mild as nectar. "He is
continually," said Mr. Hunt, "giving entertainments by way of
parade, and if you do not drink raw rum, and boiling punch as
strong as sulphur, he will insult you as soon as he gets drunk,
which is very shortly after sitting down to table."

As to any "temperance captain" who stood fast to his faith, and
refused to give up his sobriety, he might go elsewhere for a
market, for he stood no chance with the governor. Rarely,
however, did any cold-water caitiff of the kind darken the doors
of old Baranoff; the coasting captains knew too well his humor
and their own interests; they joined in his revels, they drank,
and sang, and whooped, and hiccuped, until they all got "half
seas over," and then affairs went on swimmingly.

An awful warning to all "flinchers" occurred shortly before Mr.
Hunt's arrival. A young naval officer had recently been sent out
by the emperor to take command of one of the company's vessels.
The governor, as usual, had him at his "prosnics," and plied him
with fiery potations. The young man stood on the defensive until
the old count's ire was completely kindled; he carried his point,
and made the greenhorn tipsy, willy nilly. In proportion as they
grew fuddled they grew noisy, they quarrelled in their cups; the
youngster paid old Baranoff in his own coin by rating him
soundly; in reward for which, when sober, he was taken the rounds
of four pickets, and received seventy-nine lashes, taled out with
Russian punctuality of punishment.

Such was the old grizzled bear with whom Mr. Hunt had to do his
business. How he managed to cope with his humor; whether he
pledged himself in raw rum and blazing punch, and "clinked the
can" with him as they made their bargains, does not appear upon
record; we must infer, however, from his general observations on
the absolute sway of this hard-drinking potentate, that he had to
conform to the customs of his court, and that their business
transactions presented a maudlin mixture of punch and peltry.

The greatest annoyance to Mr. Hunt, however, was the delay to
which he was subjected, in disposing of the cargo of the ship,
and getting the requisite returns. With all the governor's
devotions to the bottle, he never obfuscated his faculties
sufficiently to lose sight of his interest, and is represented by
Mr. Hunt as keen, not to say crafty, at a bargain, as the most
arrant waterdrinker. A long time was expended negotiating with
him, and by the time the bargain was concluded, the month of
October had arrived. To add to the delay he was to be paid for
his cargo in seal skins. Now it so happened that there was none
of this kind of peltry at the fort of old Baranoff. It was
necessary, therefore, for Mr. Hunt to proceed to a seal-catching
establishment, which the Russian company had at the island of St.
Paul, in the Sea of Kamtschatka. He accordingly set sail on the
4th of October, after having spent forty-five days at New
Archangel boosing and bargaining with its roystering commander,
and right glad was he to escape from the clutches of "this old
man of the sea."

The Beaver arrived at St. Paul's on the 31st of October; by which
time, according to arrangement, he ought to have been back at
Astoria. The island of St. Paul is in latitude 57deg N.,
longitude 170deg or 171deg W. Its shores, in certain places, and
at certain seasons, are covered with seals, while others are
playing about in the water. Of these, the Russians take only the
small ones, from seven to ten months old, and carefully select
the males, giving the females their freedom, that the breed may
not be diminished. The islanders, however, kill the large ones
for provisions, and for skins wherewith to cover their canoes.
They drive them from the shore over the rocks, until within a
short distance of their habitations, where they kill them. By
this means, they save themselves the trouble of carrying the
skins and have the flesh at hand. This is thrown in heaps, and
when the season for skinning is over, they take out the entrails
and make one heap of the blubber. This, with drift-wood, serves
for fuel, for the island is entirely destitute of trees. They
make another heap of the flesh, which, with the eggs of sea-
fowls, preserved in oil, an occasional sea-lion, a few ducks in
winter, and some wild roots, compose their food.

Mr. Hunt found several Russians at the island, and one hundred
hunters, natives of Oonalaska, with their families. They lived in
cabins that looked like canoes; being, for the most part formed
of the jaw-bone of a whale, put up as rafters, across which were
laid pieces of driftwood covered over with long grass, the skins
of large sea animals, and earth; so as to be quite comfortable,
in despite of the rigors of the climate; though we are told they
had as ancient and fish-like an odor, "as had the quarters of
Jonah, when he lodged within the whale."

In one of these odoriferous mansions, Mr. Hunt occasionally took
up his abode, that he might be at hand to hasten the loading of
the ship. The operation, however, was somewhat slow, for it was
necessary to overhaul and inspect every pack to prevent
imposition, and the peltries had then to be conveyed in large
boats, made of skins, to the ship, which was some little distance
from the shore, standing off and on.

One night, while Mr. Hunt was on shore, with some others of the
crew, there arose a terrible gale. When the day broke, the ship
was not to be seen. He watched for her with anxious eyes until
night, but in vain. Day after day of boisterous storms, and
howling wintry weather, were passed in watchfulness and
solicitude. Nothing was to be seen but a dark and angry sea, and
a scowling northern sky; and at night he retired within the jaws
of the whale, and nestled disconsolately among seal skins.

At length, on the 13th of November, the Beaver made her
appearance; much the worse for the stormy conflicts which she had
sustained in those hyperborean seas. She had been obliged to
carry a press of sail in heavy gales to be able to hold her
ground, and had consequently sustained great damage in her canvas
and rigging. Mr. Hunt lost no time in hurrying the residue of the
cargo on board of her; then, bidding adieu to his seal-fishing
friends, and his whalebone habitation, he put forth once more to

He was now for making the best of his way to Astoria, and
fortunate would it have been for the interests of that place, and
the interests of Mr. Astor, had he done so; but, unluckily, a
perplexing question rose in his mind. The sails and rigging of
the Beaver had been much rent and shattered in the late storm;
would she be able to stand the hard gales to be expected in
making Columbia River at this season? Was it prudent, also, at
this boisterous time of the year to risk the valuable cargo which
she now had on board, by crossing and recrossing the dangerous
bar of that river? These doubts were probably suggested or
enforced by Captain Sowle, who, it has already been seen, was an
over-cautious, or rather, a timid seaman, and they may have had
some weight with Mr. Hunt; but there were other considerations,
which more strongly swayed his mind. The lateness of the season,
and the unforeseen delays the ship had encountered at New
Archangel, and by being obliged to proceed to St. Paul's, had put
her so much back in her calculated time, that there was a risk of
her arriving so late at Canton, as to come to a bad market, both
for the sale of her peltries, and the purchase of a return cargo.
He considered it to the interest of the company, therefore, that
he should proceed at once to the Sandwich Islands; there wait the
arrival of the annual vessel from New York, take passage in her
to Astoria, and suffer the Beaver to continue on to Canton.

On the other hand, he was urged to the other course by his
engagements; by the plan of the voyage marked out for the Beaver,
by Mr. Astor; by his inclination, and the possibility that the
establishment might need his presence, and by the recollection
that there must already be a large amount of peltries collected
at Astoria, and waiting for the return of the Beaver, to convey
them to market.

These conflicting questions perplexed and agitated his mind and
gave rise to much anxious reflection, for he was a conscientious
man that seems ever to have aimed at a faithful discharge of his
duties, and to have had the interests of his employers earnestly
at heart. His decision in the present instance was injudicious,
and proved unfortunate. It was, to bear away for the Sandwich
Islands. He persuaded himself that it was a matter of necessity,
and that the distressed condition of the ship left him no other
alternative; but we rather suspect he was so persuaded by the
representations of the timid captain. They accordingly stood for
the Sandwich Islands, arrived at Woahoo, where the ship underwent
the necessary repairs, and again put to sea on the 1st of
January, 1813; leaving Mr. Hunt on the island.

We will follow the Beaver to Canton, as her fortunes, in some
measure, exemplify the evil of commanders of ships acting
contrary to orders; and as they form a part of the tissue of
cross purposes that marred the great commercial enterprise we
have undertaken to record.

The Beaver arrived safe at Canton, where Captain Sowle found the
letter of Mr. Astor, giving him information of the war and
directing him to convey the intelligence to Astoria. He wrote a
reply, dictated either by timidity or obstinacy, in which he
declined complying with the orders of Mr. Astor, but said he
would wait for the return of peace, and then come home. The
other proceedings of Captain Sowle were equally wrongheaded and
unlucky. He was offered one hundred and fifty thousand dollars
for the fur he had taken on board at St. Paul's. The goods for
which it had been procured cost but twenty-five thousand dollars
in New York. Had he accepted this offer, and re-invested the
amount in nankeens, which at that time, in consequence of the
interruption to commerce by the war, were at two thirds of their
usual price, the whole would have brought three hundred thousand
dollars in New York. It is true, the war would have rendered it
unsafe to attempt the homeward voyage, but he might have put the
goods in store at Canton, until after the peace, and have sailed
without risk of capture to Astoria; bringing to the partners at
that place tidings of the great profits realized on the outward
cargo, and the still greater to be expected from the returns. The
news of such a brilliant commencement to their undertaking would
have counterbalanced the gloomy tidings of the war; it would have
infused new spirit into them all, and given them courage and
constancy to persevere in the enterprise. Captain Sowle, however,
refused the offer of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and
stood wavering and chaffering for higher terms. The furs began to
fall in value; this only increased his irresolution; they sunk so
much that he feared to sell at all; he borrowed money on Mr.
Astor's account at an interest of eighteen per cent , and laid up
his ship to await the return of peace.

In the meanwhile, Mr. Hunt soon saw reason to repent the
resolution he had adopted in altering the destination of the
ship. His stay at the Sandwich Islands was prolonged far beyond
expectation. He looked in vain for the annual ship in the spring.
Month after month passed by, and still she did not make her
appearance. He, too, proved the danger of departing from orders.
Had he returned from St. Paul's to Astoria, all the anxiety and
despondency about his fate, and about the whole course of the
undertaking, would have been obviated. The Beaver would have
received the furs collected at the factory and taken them to
Canton, and great gains, instead of great losses, would have been
the result. The greatest blunder, however, was that committed by
Captain Sowle.

At length, about the 20th of June, the ship Albatross, Captain
Smith, arrived from China, and brought the first tidings of the
war to the Sandwich Islands. Mr. Hunt was no longer in doubt and
perplexity as to the reason of the non-appearance of the annual
ship. His first thoughts were for the welfare of Astoria, and,
concluding that the inhabitants would probably be in want of
provisions, he chartered the Albatross for two thousand dollars,
to land him, with some supplies, at the mouth of the Columbia,
where he arrived, as we have seen, on the 20th of August, after a
year's seafaring that might have furnished a chapter in the
wanderings of Sinbad.


Arrangements Among the Partners- Mr. Hunt Sails in the Albatross.
- Arrives at the Marquesas- News of the Frigate Phoebe.- Mr. Hunt
Proceeds to the Sandwich Islands.- Voyage of the Lark.- Her
Shipwreck.- Transactions With the Natives of the Sandwich Islands
- Conduct of Tamaahmaah.

MR. HUNT was overwhelmed with surprise when he learnt the
resolution taken by the partners to abandon Astoria. He soon
found, however, that matters had gone too far, and the minds of
his colleagues had become too firmly bent upon the measure, to
render any opposition of avail. He was beset, too, with the same
disparaging accounts of the interior trade, and of the whole
concerns and prospects of the company that had been rendered to
Mr. Astor. His own experience had been full of perplexities and
discouragements. He had a conscientious anxiety for the interests
of Mr. Astor, and, not comprehending the extended views of that
gentleman, and his habit of operating with great amounts, he had
from the first been daunted by the enormous expenses required,
and had become disheartened by the subsequent losses sustained,
which appeared to him to be ruinous in their magnitude. By
degrees, therefore, he was brought to acquiesce in the step taken
by his colleagues, as perhaps advisable in the exigencies of the
case; his only care was to wind up the business with as little
further loss as possible to Mr. Astor.

A large stock of valuable furs was collected at the factory,
which it was necessary to get to a market. There were twenty-five
Sandwich Islanders also in the employ of the company, whom they
were bound, by express agreement, to restore to their native
country. For these purposes a ship was necessary.

The Albatross was bound to the Marquesas, and thence to the
Sandwich Islands. It was resolved that Mr. Hunt should sail in
her in quest of a vessel, and should return, if possible, by the
1st of January, bringing with him a supply of provisions. Should
anything occur, however, to prevent his return, an arrangement
was to be proposed to Mr. M'Tavish, to transfer such of the men
as were so disposed, from the service of the American Fur Company
into that of the Northwest, the latter becoming responsible for
the wages due them, on receiving an equivalent in goods from the
store-house of the factory. As a means of facilitating the
despatch of business, Mr. M'Dougal proposed, that in case Mr.
Hunt should not return, the whole arrangement with Mr. M'Tavish
should be left solely to him. This was assented to; the
contingency being considered possible, but not probable.

It is proper to note, that, on the first announcement by Mr.
M'Dougal of his intention to break up the establishment, three of
the clerks, British subjects, had, with his consent, passed into
the service of the Northwest Company, and departed with Mr.
M'Tavish for his post in the interior.

Having arranged all these matters during a sojourn of six days at
Astoria, Mr. Hunt set sail in the Albatross on the 26th of
August, and arrived without accident at the Marquesas. He had not
been there long, when Porter arrived in the frigate Essex,
bringing in a number of stout London whalers as prizes, having
made a sweeping cruise in the Pacific. From Commodore Porter he
received the alarming intelligence that the British frigate
Phoebe, with a store-ship mounted with battering pieces,
calculated to attack forts, had arrived at Rio Janeiro, where she
had been joined by the sloops of war Cherub and Raccoon, and that
they had all sailed in company on the 6th of July for the
Pacific, bound, as it was supposed, to Columbia River.

Here, then, was the death-warrant of unfortunate Astoria! The
anxious mind of Mr. Hunt was in greater perplexity than ever. He
had been eager to extricate the property of Mr. Astor from a
failing concern with as little loss as possible; there was now
danger that the whole would be swallowed up. How was it to be
snatched from the gulf? It was impossible to charter a ship for
the purpose, now that a British squadron was on its way to the
river. He applied to purchase one of the whale ships brought in
by Commodore Porter. The commodore demanded twenty-five thousand
dollars for her. The price appeared exorbitant, and no bargain
could be made. Mr. Hunt then urged the commodore to fit out one
of his prizes, and send her to Astoria, to bring off the property
and part of the people, but he declined, "from want of
authority." He assured Mr. Hunt, however, that he would endeavor
to fall in with the enemy, or should he hear of their having
certainly gone to the Columbia, he would either follow or
anticipate them, should his circumstances warrant such a step.

In this tantalizing state of suspense, Mr. Hunt was detained at
the Marquesas until November 23d, when he proceeded in the
Albatross to the Sandwich Islands. He still cherished a faint
hope that, notwithstanding the war, and all other discouraging
circumstances, the annual ship might have been sent by Mr. Astor,
and might have touched at the islands, and proceeded to the
Columbia. He knew the pride and interest taken by that gentleman
in his great enterprise, and that he would not be deterred by
dangers and difficulties from prosecuting it; much less would he
leave the infant establishment without succor and support in the
time of trouble. In this, we have seen, he did but justice to Mr.
Astor; and we must now turn to notice the cause of the non-
arrival of the vessel which he had despatched with reinforcements
and supplies. Her voyage forms another chapter of accidents in
this eventful story.

The Lark sailed from New York on the 6th of March, 1813, and
proceeded prosperously on her voyage, until within a few degrees
of the Sandwich Islands. Here a gale sprang up that soon blew
with tremendous violence. The Lark was a staunch and noble ship,
and for a time buffeted bravely with the storm. Unluckily,
however, she "broached to," and was struck by a heavy sea, that
hove her on her beam-ends. The helm, too, was knocked to leeward,
all command of the vessel was lost, and another mountain wave
completely overset her. Orders were given to cut away the masts.
In the hurry and confusion, the boats also were unfortunately cut
adrift. The wreck then righted, but was a mere hulk, full of
water, with a heavy sea washing over it, and all the hatches off.
On mustering the crew, one man was missing, who was discovered
below in the forecastle, drowned.

In cutting away the masts, it had been utterly impossible to
observe the necessary precaution of commencing with the lee
rigging, that being, from the position of the ship, completely
under water. The masts and spars, therefore, being linked to the
wreck by the shrouds and the rigging, remained alongside for four
days. During all this time the ship lay rolling in the trough of
the sea, the heavy surges breaking over her, and the spars
heaving and banging to and fro, bruising the half-drowned sailors
that clung to the bowsprit and the stumps of the masts. The
sufferings of these poor fellows were intolerable. They stood to
their waists in water, in imminent peril of being washed off by
every surge. In this position they dared not sleep, lest they
should let go their hold and be swept away. The only dry place on
the wreck was the bowsprit. Here they took turns to be tied on,
for half an hour at a time, and in this way gained short snatches
of sleep.

On the 14th, the first mate died at his post, and was swept off
by the surges. On the 17th, two seamen, faint and exhausted, were
washed overboard. The next wave threw their bodies back upon the
deck, where they remained, swashing backward and forward, ghastly
objects to the almost perishing survivors. Mr. Ogden, the
supercargo, who was at the bowsprit, called to the men nearest to
the bodies, to fasten them to the wreck; as a last horrible
resource in case of being driven to extremity by famine!

On the 17th the gale gradually subsided, and the sea became calm.
The sailors now crawled feebly about the wreck, and began to
relieve it from the main incumbrances. The spars were cleared
away, the anchors and guns heaved overboard; the sprit-sail yard
was rigged for a jury-mast, and a mizzen topsail set upon it. A
sort of stage was made of a few broken spars, on which the crew
were raised above the surface of the water, so as to be enabled
to keep themselves dry, and to sleep comfortably. Still their
sufferings from hunger and thirst were great; but there was a
Sandwich Islander on board, an expert swimmer, who found his way
into the cabin, and occasionally brought up a few bottles of wine
and porter, and at length got into the rum, and secured a quarter
cask of wine. A little raw pork was likewise procured, and dealt
out with a sparing hand. The horrors of their situation were
increased by the sight of numerous sharks prowling about the
wreck, as if waiting for their prey. On the 24th, the cook, a
black man, died, and was cast into the sea, when he was instantly
seized on by these ravenous monsters.

They had been several days making slow headway under their scanty
sail, when, on the 25th, they came in sight of land. It was about
fifteen leagues distant, and they remained two or three days
drifting along in sight of it. On the 28th, they descried, to
their great transport, a canoe approaching, managed by natives.
They came alongside, and brought a most welcome supply of
potatoes. They informed them that the land they had made was one
of the Sandwich Islands. The second mate and one of the seamen
went on shore in the canoe for water and provisions, and to
procure aid from the islanders, in towing the wreck into a

Neither of the men returned, nor was any assistance sent from
shore. The next day, ten or twelve canoes came alongside, but
roamed round the wreck like so many sharks, and would render no
aid in towing her to land.

The sea continued to break over the vessel with such violence,
that it was impossible to stand at the helm without the
assistance of lashings. The crew were now so worn down by famine
and thirst, that the captain saw it would be impossible for them
to withstand the breaking of the sea, when the ship should
ground; he deemed the only chance for their lives, therefore, was
to get to land in the canoes, and stand ready to receive and
protect the wreck when she should drift ashore. Accordingly, they
all got safe to land, but had scarcely touched the beach when
they were surrounded by the natives, who stripped them almost
naked. The name of this inhospitable island was Tahoorowa.

In the course of the night, the wreck came drifting to the
strand, with the surf thundering around her, and shortly
afterwards bilged. On the following morning, numerous casks of
provisions floated on shore. The natives staved them for the sake
of the iron hoops, but would not allow the crew to help
themselves to the contents, or to go on board of the wreck.

As the crew were in want of everything, and as it might be a long
time before any opportunity occurred for them to get away from
these islands, Mr. Ogden, as soon as he could get a chance, made
his way to the island of Owyhee, and endeavored to make some
arrangement with the king for the relief of his companions in

The illustrious Tamaahmaah, as we have shown on a former
occasion, was a shrewd bargainer, and in the present instance
proved himself an experienced wrecker. His negotiations with
M'Dougal, and the other "Eris of the great American Fur Company,"
had but little effect on present circumstances, and he proceeded
to avail himself of their misfortunes. He agreed to furnish the
crew with provisions during their stay in his territories, and to
return to them all their clothing that could be found, but he
stipulated that the wreck should be abandoned to him as a waif
cast by fortune on his shores. With these conditions Mr. Ogden
was fain to comply. Upon this the great Tamaahmaah deputed his
favorite, John Young, the tarpaulin governor of Owyhee, to
proceed with a number of royal guards, and take possession of the
wreck on behalf of the crown. This was done accordingly, and the
property and crew were removed to Owyhee. The royal bounty
appears to have been but scanty in its dispensations. The crew
fared but meagerly; though, on reading the journal of the voyage,
it is singular to find them, after all the hardships they had
suffered, so sensitive about petty inconveniences, as to exclaim
against the king as a "savage monster," for refusing them a "pot
to cook in," and denying Mr. Ogden the use of a knife and fork
which had been saved from the wreck.


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