The source for this text is an appendix in:
Bradbury, John. Travels in the Interior of America, 2nd ed. London : Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1819.
This appendix is a reprint of the article "American Enterprize", Missouri Gazette, Saint Louis, May 18, 1813.
The same article is also reprinted in The Niles' Weekly Register, Vol. 4, June 26, 1813.
It is also an appendix in:
Brackenridge, H. M. Views of Louisana. Pittsburgh, Cramer, Spear and Eichbaum, 1814.
THE FOLLOWING INTERESTING NARRATIVE
EXPEDITION OF MR. HUNT
MENTIONED IN THIS WORK, IS EXTRACTED FROM THE MISSOURI GAZETTE
WE last week promised our readers an account of the journey of the gentlemen attached to the New York Fur Company, from the Pacific Ocean to this place.- We now lay it before our readers, as collected from the gentlemen themselves.
On the 28th of June, 1812, Mr. Robert Stewart, one of the partners of the Pacific Fur Company, with two Frenchmen, Mr. Ramsey Crooks, and Mr. Robert M'Clellan, left the Pacific Ocean with despatches for New York.
After ascending the Columbia river ninety miles, John Day, one of the hunters became perfectly insane, and was sent back to the main establishment, under the charge of some Indians: the remaining six pursued their voyage upwards of six hundred miles, when they happily met with Mr. Joseph Miller, on his way to the mouth of the Columbia. He had been considerably to the south and east, among the nations called Blackarms and Arapahays, by the latter of whom he was robbed; in consequence of which he suffered almost every privation human nature is capable of, and was in a state of starvation and almost nudity when the party met him.
They had now fifteen horses, and pursued their journey for the Atlantic world, without any uncommon accident, until within about two hundred miles of the Rocky Mountains, where they unfortunately met with a party of the Crow Indians, who behaved with the utmost unbounded insolence, and were solely prevented from cutting off the party by observing them well armed and constantly on their guard. They, however, pursued on their track six days, and finally stole every horse belonging to the party.
Some idea of the situation of those men may be conceived, when we take into consideration, that they were now on foot, and had a journey of two thousand miles before them, fifteen hundred of which was entirely unknown, as they intended and prosecuted it considerably south of Messrs. Lewis and Clarke's route. The impossibility of carrying any quantity of provisions on their backs, in addition to their ammunition and bedding, will occur at first view. The danger to be apprehended from starvation was imminent. They, however, put the best face upon their prospects, and pursued their route towards the Rocky Mountains, at the head waters of the Colorado, or Spanish River, and stood their course E.S.E. until they struck the head waters of the great River Platte, which they undeviatingly followed to its mouth. It may here be observed, that this river, for about two hundred miles, is navigable for a barge; from thence to the Otto Village, within forty-five miles of its entrance into the Missouri, it is a mere bed of sand, without water sufficient to float a skin canoe.
From the Otto Village to St. Louis, the party performed their voyage in a canoe, furnished them by the natives, and arrived here in perfect health, on the 30th of last month (May.)
Our travellers did not hear of the war with England until they came to the Ottoes. These people told them that the Shawnoe Prophet had sent them a wampum, inviting them to join in the war against the Americans. They answered the messenger, that they could make more by trapping beaver than making war against the Americans.
After crossing the hills (Rocky Mountains) they fell in with a small party of Snake Indians, from whom they purchased a horse, which relieved them from any further carriage of food, and this faithful four-footed companion, performed that service to the Otto village. They wintered on the river Platte, six hundred miles from its mouth.
By information received from these gentlemen, it appears that a journey across the continent of North America might be performed with a waggon, there being no obstruction in the whole route that any person would dare to call a mountain, in addition to its being much the most direct and short one to go from this place to the mouth of the Columbia river. Any future party, who may undertake this journey, and are tolerably acquainted with the different places where it would be necessary to lay up a small stock of provisions, would not be impeded, as in all probability, they would not meet with an Indian to interrupt their progress, although on the other route, more north, there are almost insurmountable barriers.
The following is Mr. Crooks's narrative of Mr. Hunt's expedition from the Aricaras to the Pacific:
Messrs. Hunt, Crooks, Miller, M'Clellan, M'Kenzie, and about sixty men, who left St. Louis in the beginning of March, 1811, for the Pacific Ocean, reached the Aricara village on the 13th day of June, where meeting with some American hunters, who had been the preceding year on the waters of the Columbia with Mr. Henry, and who, giving such an account of the route by which they passed, as being far preferable in point of procuring with facility an abundant supply of food at all times, as well as avoiding even the probability of seeing their enemies, the Black Feet, than by the track of Captains Lewis and Clarke, the gentlemen of the expedition at once abandoned their former ideas of passing by the Falls of the Missouri, and made the necessary arrangements for commencing their journey over land from this place.
Eighty horses were purchased and equipped by the 17th of July, and on the day following they departed from the Aricaras, sixty persons in number, all on foot, except the partners of the company.- In this situation they proceeded for five days, having crossed in that time, two considerable streams, which joined the Missouri below the Aricaras, when, finding an inland tribe of Indians, calling themselves Shawhays, but known among the whites by the appellation of Chiennes, they procured from these an accession of forty horses, which enabled the gentlemen to furnish a horse for every two men. Steering about W. S. W. they passed the small branches of Big River, the Little Missouri, above its forks, and several of the tributary streams of Powder River, one of which they followed up. They found a band of the Absaroka, or Crow nation, encamped on its banks, at the foot of the Big Horn Mountain.
For ammunition and some small articles, they exchanged all their lame for sound horses, with these savages; but although this band has been allowed by every one who knew them, to be, by far, the best behaved of their tribe, it was only by that unalterable determination of the gentlemen to avoid jeopardizing the safety of the party, without, at the same moment, submitting to intentional insults, that they left this camp (not possessing a greater force than the whites) without coming to blows.
The distance from the Aricaras to this mountain, is about four hundred and fifty miles, over an extremely rugged tract, by no means furnishing a sufficient supply of water: but during the twenty-eight days they were getting to the base of the mountain, they were only in a few instances without abundance of buffalo meat.
Three days took them over the plains of Mad River, (the name given to the Big Horn above this mountain) which following for a number of days, they left it where it was reduced to eighty yards in width, and the same evening reached the banks of the Colorado, or Spanish River. Finding flocks of buffaloes at the end of the third day's travel on this stream, the party passed a week in drying buffalo meat, for the residue of the voyage, as in all probability those were the last animals of the kind they would meet with. From this camp, in one day, they crossed the Dividing Mountain, and pitched their tents on Hoback's Fork of Mad River, where it was near one hundred and fifty feet broad; and in eight days more, having passed several stupendous ridges, they encamped in the vicinity of the establishment made by Mr. Henry, in the fall of 1810, on a fork about seventy yards wide, bearing, the name of that gentleman ; having travelled from the main Missouri, about nine hundred miles, in fifty-four days. Here, abandoning their horses, the party constructed canoes, and descended the Snake, or Ky-eye-nem River, (made by the junction of Mad River, south of Henry's Fork) four hundred miles; in the course of which they were obliged, by the intervention of impassable rapids, to make a number of portages; till at length they found the river confined between gloomy precipices, at least two hundred feet perpendicular, whose banks for the most part were washed by this turbulent stream, which for thirty miles was a continual succession of falls, cascades, and rapids. Mr. Crooks' canoe had split and upset in the middle of a rapid, by which one man was drowned, named Antonie Clappin, and Mr. Crooks saved himself only by extreme exertion in swimming. From the repeated losses by the upsetting of canoes, their provisions were now reduced to a bare sufficiency for five days, totally ignorant of the country where they were, and unsuccessful in meeting any of the nations from whom they could hope for information.
Unable to proceed by water, Messrs. M'Kenzie, M'Clellan, and Reed set out in different directions down the river, for the purpose of finding Indians, and buying horses: Mr. Crooks, with a few men, returned to Henry's Fork for those they had left, while Mr. Hunt remained with the main body of men, entrapping beaver for their support. Mr. Crooks, finding the distance much greater by land than he had contemplated, returned at the end of three days; where waiting five more, expecting relief from below, the near approach of winter made them determine on depositing all superfluous articles, and proceeding on foot. Accordingly, on the 10th of November, Messrs. Hunt and Crooks set out, each with eighteen men; one party on the south side of the river. Mr. Hunt was fortunate in finding Indians, with abundance of salmon and some horses; but Mr. Crooks saw but few, and in general too miserably poor to afford his party assistance. Thirteen days brought the latter to a high range of mountains, through which the river forced a passage, and the banks being their only guide, they still, by climbing over points of rocky ridges projecting into the stream, kept as near to it as possible, till in the evening of the 3d of December, impassable precipices, of immense height, put an end to all hopes of following the margin of this water course, which here was no more than forty yards wide, ran with incredible velocity, and was withal so foamingly tumultuous, that even had the opposite bank been fit for their purpose, attempts at rafting would have been perfect madness, as they could only have the inducement of ending, in a watery grave, a series of hardships and privations, to which the most hardy and determined of the human race must have found himself inadequate. They attempted to climb the mountains, still bent on pushing on, but after ascending for half a day, they discovered to their sorrow, that they were not half way to the summit, and the snow already too deep for men in their emaciated state to proceed further.
Regaining the river bank, they returned up, and on the third day met with Mr. Hunt and party, with one horse, proceeding downwards. A canoe was soon made of a horse hide, and in it they transported some meat, which they could spare, to Mr. Crooks' starving followers, who, for the first eighteen days, after leaving the place of deposit, had subsisted on half a meal in twenty-four hours, and in the last nine days had eaten only one beaver, a dog, a few wild cherries, and some old mockason soles, having travelled, during these twenty-seven days, at least five hundred and fifty miles. For the next four days, both parties continued their course up the river, without any other support than what little rose-buds and cherries they could find; but here they luckily fell in with some Snake Indians, from whom they got five horses, giving them three guns and some other articles for the same.
Starvation had bereft J. B. Provost of his senses entirely, and on seeing the horse flesh on the opposite side of the river, he was so agitated in crossing in a skin canoe, that he upset it, and was unfortunately drowned. From hence Mr. Hunt went on to a camp of Shoshonies, about ninety miles above, where procuring a few horses and a guide, he set out for the main Columbia, across the mountains of the south west, leaving the river where it entered the range, and on it Mr. Crooks and five men, unable to travel. Mr. Hunt lost a Canadian, named Carrier, by starvation, before he met the Shy-eye-to-ga Indians, in the Columbia plains; from whom, getting a supply of provisions, he soon reached the main river, which he descended in canoes, and arrived without any further loss at Astoria in the month of February.
Messrs. M'Kenzie, M'Clellan, and Reed, had united their parties on the Snake River Mountains, through which they travelled twenty one days, to the Mulpot River, existing on an allowance by no means adequate to the toils the they underwent daily; and to the smallness of their number (which was in all eleven) they attribute their success in getting with life to where they found some wild horses. They soon after reached the Forks, called by Captains Lewis and Clarke, Koolkooske; went down Lewis's River and the Columbia wholly by water, without any misfortune except the upsetting, in a rapid, of Mr. M'Clellan's canoe: and although it happened on the first day of the year, yet, by great exertion, they clang to the canoe till the others came to their assistance, making their escape with the loss of some rifles. They reached Astoria early in January.
Three of the five men who remained with Mr. Crooks, afraid of perishing by want, left him in February, on a small river on the road, by which Mr. Hunt had passed, in quest of Indians, and have not since been heard of. Mr. Crooks had followed Mr. Hunt's track in the snow for seven days; but coming to a low prairie, he lost every appearance of a trace, and was compelled to pass the remaining part of the winter in mountains, subsisting sometimes on beaver and horse meat, and the skins of those animals, and at other times on their success in finding roots. Finally, on the last of March, the other only Canadian being unable to proceed, was left with a lodge of Shoshonies, and Mr. Crooks, with John Day, finding the snow sufficiently diminished, undertook, from Indian information, to cross the last ridge, which they happily effected, and reached the banks of the Columbia in the middle of April; where, in the beginning of May, they fell in with Messrs. Stewart and Co. having been, a few days before, stripped of every thing they possessed, by a band of villains near the Falls. On the 10th of May they arrived safe at Astoria, the principal establishment of the Pacific Fur Company, within fourteen miles of Cape Disappointment.