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Full text of "The life and adventures of James P. Beckwourth, mountaineer, scout, pioneer, and chief of the Crow nation of Indians .."

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Adventures are to the Adveiituroiis.^' 

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THE ADVENTURE SERIES. 

Illustrated. Crown 8vo, $i'5o. 



1. Adventures of a Younger Son. By E. J. 

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2. Robert Drury's Journal in Madagascar. 

3. Memoirs of the Extraordinary Military 

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4. The Adventures of Thomas Pellow, of 

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5. The Buccaneers and Marooners of America. 

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7. The Voyages and Adventures of Ferdinand 

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8. The Story of the Filibusters. 

9. A Master Mariner. The Life and Adventures 

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10. Kolokotrones, Klepht and Warrior. 

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{.OTHERS IN THE PRESS.) 




Head Chief of the Blackfeet, Stu-mick-o-Sucks 
(the Buffalo's Back Feet). 



M THE LIFE AND 
ADVENTURES OF JAMES 
P. JB_ECKWOURTH, 
MOUNTAINEER, SCOUT, 
PIONEER, AND CHIEF 
OF THE CROW NATION 
OF INDIANS^IM 



WRITTEN FROM HIS OWN 
DICTATION BY T. D. BONNER 



NEPV EDITION. EDITED, WITH 

PREFACE, BT CHARLES G. 

LELAND ("HANS BREITMANN") 



.LUSTRA': 
3«J. .>o 



LONDON: T. FISHER UNWIN. NEW 
YORK : MACMILLAN & CO. MDCCCXCII 



f 5<=IZ 



'A 



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



S5GC 



PREFACE TO THE NEW ENGLISH 
EDITION. 




HOUGH there has been for more than 
thirty years a vast manufacture of cheap 
romances of the " Scalp Hunter " and 
''Bandits of the Plains" description, it 
is still true that works setting forth the 
frontier life of America by men who have 
really experienced it, are actually rare, and this is specially 
the case as regards real residence on familiar terms 
among the Red Indians. This is to be regretted, because 
every student of History will, in another generation, wonder 
at this indifference as regards a state of society which is, 
even by us, regarded as intensely interesting. The chief 
reason for this is that those who were best qualified by 
experience were in most cases the worst fitted as regards 
education, to observe, or record, what they had lived 
through. Young people very generally believe that the 
mere fact of having seen much of the world, or the having 
travelled, qualifies anybody to describe well, when, on the 
contrary, a man who has not keenly cultivated the arts of 
observation and writing, generally acquires nothing of 
the kind. On the contrary, as we often see in sailors, 
constant change makes him indifferent to everything save 
mere personal interests. Like the stork who had travelled 
every year of his life from Antwerp to Egypt or India, yet 
could tell of nothing except where the best swamps and 
pools were with the fattest frogs and largest worms, so 



yw^ 



6 PEE FACE TO THE 

men who have travelled most can, very often, only tell us 
where are the best restaurants and hotels. 

James Beckwourth was a man who had really had a 
very wild and varied life on the frontier, all of which might 
have remained unknown had he not chanced upon Mr. T. 
D. Bonner, who, as this work indicates, wrote English in a 
straightforward manner, and knew how to elicit narratives 
from his subject in a straightforward style. Beckwourth 
had lived among Indians in the old '* buffalo days" — which 
means, without exaggeration, that he had perhaps '*held 
his life in his hand," on an average about once a day — 
had really been recognized by the United States Govern- 
ment as a man who was capable of influencing and 
restraining the formidable tribe of Crow Indians, for which 
very badly performed duty he was for a long time paid a 
high salary, and finally he had, beyond all question, under- 
gone hundreds of adventures as wild and characteristic as 
any described in this book. I would here protest that so 
far as I am concerned, the revising and editing this work 
is by no means a piece of literary hack-work, since it 
was my intention to write on this man thirty years ago. 
Through personal channels I had often heard of him. 
Mrs. General Ashley, so celebrated for her grace and 
refinement — of whom Beckwourth speaks so admiringly — 
was an intimate friend of my mother, and I have often 
conversed about Beckwourth himself with Mr. Chouteau. 
But it was to Mr. Eobert P. Hunt, of Saint Louis, who had 
known Beckwourth well in his wildest life in the Plains, 
that I was chiefly indebted for my knowledge and interest 
in this strange semi-outlaw, and of him I will speak anon. 

I am also very much indebted, and hereby return my 
most cordial thanks, to Horace Klephart, Esq., Librarian 
of the Mercantile Library of Saint Louis, Missouri, for 
kindly taking the pains to look up for me the two following 
paragraphs which supply the principal data of Beckwourth's 
life not given in Mr. Bonner's book, or which are subse- 
quent to it as to time. 



NEW ENGLISH EDITION. 7 

*' James P. Beckwourth was born in Virginia of a negro 
slave mother and an Irish overseer. He resided for a 
time in the valley of the Sierra Nevada, but being im- 
plicated in certain transactions which attracted the notice 
of the vigilants, fled and went to Missouri. When the 
migration to Colorado was at its height in 1859, he pro- 
ceeded to Denver, and was taken into partnership with 
Louis Vasquez and his nephew. Being tired of trade, he 
went to live on a farm, and took a Mexican wife, but fell 
out with her, and finally relapsed into his former mode of 
savage life, dying about 1867 " {Montana Post, February 
23, 1867).* 

The following note is pencilled on the margin of the 
copy of Bonner's " Life of Beckwourth," in the Mercantile 
Library of Saint Louis : — 

** He now (1865 ?) lives three miles south of Denver City, 
on Cherry Creek, Colorado ; has a ranch, and was in the 
engagement against the Cheyennes at Sand Creek, Novem- 
ber 29 (November 27, 1864), and is a noted old Her" (sic). 

This last word brings us to a critical point in the 
Beckwourthiana. It recalls the anecdote that some one 
said of him that some men are rarely worthy of belief, 
but that Jim was always Beckwourthy of un-belief. At the 
same time we are told that this man who was so splendide 
mendax was really in a fight with the Cheyennes, of which 
it may be truly said that no lying whatever was necessary 
to enable a participant to tell a perfectly true and thrilling 
tale. 

That Beckwourth had the very general frontier weakness 
of spinning marvellous yarns, and that he seldom narrated 
an adventure without making the utmost of it, even when 
it was perfectly needless, is probably true. I once knew a 

* Cited in C. H. Bancroft's " History of the Pacific States," vol. xx. 
p. 352. 



8 PBEFACE TO THE 

woman whose authentic adventures are matter of history, 
and who had really led the most marvellous life in every 
corner of the globe, yet whose imagination and love of 
exciting astonishment were so great that I always dis- 
counted fifty per cent, from her reminiscences. So it may 
have been with the Crow chief. In relation to this weak- 
ness, I find the following from an American newspaper : — 

** There was a camp of miners in California to whom 
Beckwourth was well known, and when his life appeared 
they commissioned one of their number, who was going to 
San Francisco to obtain stores, to purchase the book. Not 
being very careful, he got by mistake a copy of the Bible. 
In the evening, after his return, the messenger was re- 
quested to read aloud to the rest from the long-expected 
work. Opening the volume at random, he hit upon and 
read aloud the story of Samson and the foxes. Where- 
upon one of the listeners cried : * That'll do ! I'd know 
that story for one of Jim Beckwourth's lies anywhere ! ' " 

Against this cloudy reputation it may be remarked that 
perhaps the most extraordinary, desperately daring, and 
highly creditable adventure of his life, the account of 
which I had from an eye-witness who was a truthful 
gentleman, if such a man ever existed, and who had been 
at the same university where I myself graduated — is 7iot 
mentioned in Bonner's life. It was as follows : — 

" I do not think that Beckwourth was ever head chief 
among the Crows, though I dare say he made himself out 
to be such ; but that he was really a sub-chief is true, for 
I myself was on the ground when they made him one — and 
a strange sight it was. Beckwourth was a very powerful 
man — he had been a blacksmith — and he certainly was a 
desperately brave fighter. 

" A very large grizzly bear had been driven into a cave. 



NEW ENGLISH EDITION. 9 

and Beckwourth asked of a great number of Crows who 
were present whether any one of them would go in and 
kill the creature. All declined, for it seemed to be certain 
death. Then Beckwourth stripped himself naked, and 
wrapping a Mexican blanket round his left arm, and 
holding a strong sharp knife, entered the cave, and after a 
desperate fight, killed the bear. I came up to the place in 
time to see Beckw^ourth come out of the cave, all torn and 
bleeding. He looked like the devil if ever man did. The 
Crows were so much pleased at this that he was declared a 
sub-chief on the spot." 

This same authority stated that Beckwourth was the 
offspring, not of a negress, but of a quadroon and a planter. 
I incline to believe this. If Beckwourth's mother had 
been a negress, he could never have resembled an Indian 
so much as to pass for one ; while the education given 
him and the care bestowed on him in youth, are more 
likely to have come from an American planter than an 
Irish overseer. It may be remarked here that among 
the rough class of frontiersmen from whom biographical 
items of one another may be derived, there is always a 
cynical disposition to ridicule and make fun of, or to 
detract from the reputation of, almost everybody. Ask 
any one of them who has known Kit Carson, or Buffalo 
Bill, or any other great man of the Plains, for information 
as to them, and nine times out of ten he will demonstrate 
to you that the man in question was a humbug, and 
proceed to relate anecdotes to his discredit. For this 
reason I incline to think that Beckwourth has been too 
severely judged as regards veracity, since the strictest 
judges must admit that there is nothing improbable in his 
biography, or which might not have occurred to any bold 
and intelligent man who was in the varied positions which, 
according to the most authentic testimony of others, he 
really occupied. 

The same friend to whom I have alluded, who had 



10 PBEFACE TO TEE 

passed twenty-five years as hunter, trapper, and trader in 
the West, narrated to me the followmg : — 

*'I once, as I verily believe, saved Beckwourth's life. I 
found him and his party nearly starved to death, and gave 
them supplies —food and ammunition and things which I 
could ill afford. [Here certain details were added which I 
do not now distinctly recall.] 

'* Well, it happened a long time after that I and my 
party convoyed a large waggon train over the Plains. 
After a while a party of Crow Indians began to * run ' us 
badly. They hovered about, trying to shoot and scalp our 
stragglers and steal our cattle, and at last things became 
intolerable. They were in such numbers that I feared lest 
they might wipe us out. 

" I soon observed, from their manner of attack, that 
they were under command of a white man, and came to the 
conclusion that it must be Beckwourth. I resolved on a 
bold stroke. When the Indians had settled down one 
evening, I took my best men and rode right into their 
camp. As I expected, I found that Beckwourth was leader. 
I said to him at once — 

'"Jim Beckwourth, you ' [the reader may fill this 

hiatus with the choicest flowers of Western phraseology] , 
* what do you mean by acting in this manner ? The 
United States Government pays you two thousand dollars 
a year for acting as agent, and keeping your Indians 
quiet, and you repay it by scalping and robbing the 
travellers whom you are paid to' protect. Have you for- 
gotten how I once saved your life — the very last time we 
met ? Now here I am, and our lives are in your hands, 
but I tell you that by God I will shoot you dead this 
instant if you dont call off your Indians, and make a 
clear way. You know very well that if you kill me it will 
be known far and wide, from here to Washington.' 

" Then Beckwourth spoke me fair, and said that he did 
not know it was I, and so on. And looking about, I saw a 



NEW ENGLISH EDITION. 11 

white boy, a Mexican. He was the handsomest boy I ever 
saw in my Hfe. And I said — 

*"You have no business to take and keep white captives, 
American or Mexican ; and that boy must go with me." 

"And he made great demur, but finally consented. So 
he called off his Indians, and we went peacefully over the 
Plains." 

" And the Mexican boy ? " 

*' I wished I had left him among the Indians. He turned 
out to be the most infernal young scoundrel on the face of 
the earth." 

The reader may be perfectly assured of the truth of 
every word of these reminiscences, and it is evident that 
they correspond altogether to the manner and style of 
adventure narrated by Beckwourth himself. Daily life on 
the Plains consisted in those days of constant raiding 
and being raided, robbing and " running," or in horse- 
stealing, with not a little fighting. On the very first hour 
on which I myself arrived at the most advanced surveyor's 
station on the Kansas-Pacific Eailway in 1866, an employe 
came in, reporting that he had just escaped with his life 
from a party of Apaches in war-paint, four miles distant. 
And before another half-hour passed, there came in a Lieu- 
tenant Hesselberger, who brought in a poor woman and 
her two daughters, whom he had recently ransomed from 
Indians at the risk of his life. They had seen husband 
and father murdered before their eyes at their home in 
Texas, their house being burned : after which they had 
been subjected for six months to such infamous and 
horrible brutalities that it was a marvel that they survived 
the treatment. It is worth mentioning that Henry Stan- 
ley, who has since become known as the great African 
explorer, was on the spot, and wrote an account of the 
'captivity of these poor creatures for the New York Herald, 
Such were for a long time the daily events of my life. At 
one time it was a buffalo hunt, another an adventure of 



12 PBEFACE TO THE , 

some curious sort among Indians. Altogether, when I 
recall my own experiences and adventures on different 
occasions in the West and on the frontier during and after 
the War of the Eehellion, I cannot find that it was much 
less interesting, varied, or striking than that of Beckwourth, 
the one great difference being that it was less bloody, albeit 
there was no lack of sanguinary occurrences in the guerilla 
country at the time of the Battle of Murfreesboro, &c., 
about which place, and Nashville, I then passed the 
winter. 

If a man like Beckwourth had been intelligent enough to 
take an interest in folk-lore — that is to say, in Indian 
traditions, superstitions, and observances — or a student of 
nature in its varied forms, one can imagine what an ex- 
traordinary book he might have written. As it was, only 
the most startling incidents of battle and murder remained 
in his memory. The nomadic Indians among whom he 
lived are the most savage and brutal of their kind. The 
Algonkin and other tribes of Canada, which include the 
Chippewas, are of a different sort. They represent a 
decayed civilization, so to speak — that is, a state of society 
which, though essentially savage, w^as, two centuries since, 
strangely developed as regards social relations — the ad- 
ministration of justice, and the culture of myths. But the 
*' horse Indians " of the Plains, though they have, as 
recent researches establish, much that is peculiar and 
recondite in their cult, are still, on the whole, extremely 
wild and rough. What may be deduced is that Beck- 
wourth's narrative, making every allowance for exaggera- 
tion and falsehood, reflects very truly the real spirit of life 
as it was among those aborigines with whom he lived. The 
anecdotes which I have here selected abundantly prove 
this. 

My own honest opinion of the work is that it is true in 
the main, simply because it was impossible for its hero to 
have lived through the life w^hich other sources prove that 
he experienced, and not have met with quite as extraor- 



NEW ENGLISH EDITION. 13 

dinary adventures as those which he describes. Life is, 
even to this day, as exciting and full of peril in some parts 
of America as is possible. I can remember on one occasion 
to have met with a man who, in journeying from Western 
Arkansas to Philadelphia, had been shot at twelve times on 
the route. This was in 1866. But much more recently, 
in this Langham Hotel where I am now writing, the 
following actually occurred : — 

There happened to be assembled in the smoking-room 
half-a-dozen men from the Far West. Conversation turned 
on wild adventure in and west of the Kocky Mountains, 
and many thrilling tales were told, not as marvels, but as 
matters of ordinary occurrence. There was present one 
who took no part in the conversation. After the rest had 
departed he remained smoking in silence. I remarked 
that w^hat we had heard was very interesting. He did not 
seem to quite understand what I meant, and asked to what 
I specially alluded. I said that such stories of Indian w^ar- 
fare were highly exciting. To which he replied — 

" Oh, yes ! Injuns are the devil — that's a fact. The 
last time I came over the Plains — six months ago — they 
shot seven balls into me. There are four of 'em in me yet. 
I went to-day to one of the best surgeons in London, and 
he says there are three of 'em which he can never get 
out." 

This was told in a matter-of-fact, common-place tone, as 
if having bullets shot into one by Indians was no more 
remarkable than an attack of the rheumatism might be. 
Beckwourth's adventures are, in reality, nothing beyond 
such experiences as this. Even he never had seven bullets 
in him at once. This number recalls another anecdote. 
One day in Western Kansas, a man who bad shown me 
some kindness, observing that I collected Indian arms, &c., 
observed — 

> " Mr. Leland, I wish I had known you cared for such 
things. The Indians killed a man right near here a little 
while ago, and I pulled seven arrows out of his dead 



14 PREFACE TO TEE 

body. I gave 'em all away. I wish now I had kept 'em 
for you.'' 

It may be remarked in this connection that there are 
certain men who have a strange and mysterious gift of 
getting on with and conciliating Indians. I myself am one 
of these, and it is an hereditary endowment. There is a 
legend in the family that my great-grandfather more than a 
century ago went into Canada to trade with the Indians, 
and made such a favourable impression on them that they 
took him captive, and kept him prisoner among them all 
winter, merely to enjoy the pleasure of his company. In 
the Canadian records I find that this Mr. Leland on one 
occasion acted as interpreter in the French and Indian 
tongues. It was once remarked of me by one who had 
observed closely that among a number of white men 
Indians picked me out at sight to confide in ; and it was 
said that I might go among the wildest tribes safely. He 
who said this had had great experience among them, spoke 
several Indian tongues, and he declared that about one 
white man in a hundred had the gift. Beckwourth was 
one of these naturally *' Indian white men," and I believe 
that it was the real secret of his influence — a fact worth 
considering in reading this book. 

All things considered and all due allowance being made, 
this Life of Beckwourth still remains, beyond all question, 
an extremely interesting record of a most interesting state 
of society, manners, and customs of classes of people who 
are very rapidly passing aw-ay. In this work a kind of life 
every whit as daring, desperate, and marvellous as that 
recorded in the Norse sagas, and, indeed, far more abound- 
ing in fighting and murder, is brought before us with much 
real skill, and yet in the simplest and most direct language. 
In this latter respect it deserves great commendation. I 
myself can testify that, having read it when it first 
appeared, more than thirty years after I still retained its 
leading incidents in my mind as I have done with those of 
very few other books. And as it combines the two great 



NEW ENGLISH EDITION. 15 

requisites of valuable information and that of deep interest 
for readers of all classes and ages, I cordially commend it 
to the public, hoping that all may find it as attractive as I 
have done. 



CHAKLES GODFKEY LELAND. 



Langham Hotel, London. 
September 25, 1891. 



PEEFACE TO THE AMEEICAN EDITION. 




UEIED amid the sublime passes of the Sierra 
Nevada are old men, who, when children, 
strayed away from our crowded settlements, 
and, gradually moving farther and farther 
from civilization, have in time become domi- 
ciliated among the wild beasts and wilder 
savages — have lived scores of years whetting 
their intellects in the constant struggle for self-preservation ; 
whose only pleasurable excitement was found in facing danger ; 
whose only repose was to recuperate, preparatory to partici- 
pating in new and thrilling adventures. Such men, whose 
simple tale would pale the imaginative creations of our most 
popular fictionists, sink into their obscure graves unnoticed 
and unknown. Indian warriors, whose bravery and self-devo- 
tion find no parallels in the preserved traditions of all history, 
end their career on the " war-path," sing in triumph their 
death-song, and become silent, leaving no impression on the 
intellectual world. 

Among the many men who have distinguished themselves as 
mountaineers, traders, chiefs of the great Indian nations, and 
as early pioneers in the settlement of our Pacific coast, is 
James P. Beckwourth, whose varied and startling personal 
adventures would have found no record but for the accident of 
meeting with a w^anderer in the mountains of Cahfornia, who 
became interested in the man, and, patiently listening to his 
story, proceeded, as it fell from his hps, to put it upon paper. 
This autobiography was thus produced, and was the result 

2 



18 PBEFACE TO THE 

of some months' labour in the winter of 1854-55. In prosecu- 
ting the task, the author has in no instance departed from the 
story of the narrator, but it was taken down literally as it was 
from day to day related. Beckwourth kept no journal, and, of 
course, relied upon his memory alone ; consequently dates are 
often wanting, which it was impossible to give with accuracy 
when recurring to events transpiring in the course of very 
many years. Beckwourth is personally known to thousands 
of people *' living on both sides of the mountains," and also, 
from his service under the United States government, has en- 
joyed the acquaintance of many officers of the United States 
Army, who have been stationed in Florida, Mexico, and 
California. In his long residence with the Indians he adopted 
their habits, and in every respect conformed to their ways : 
the consequence was, from his great courage and superior 
mental endowments, he rose rapidly in their estimation, and 
finally became their chief. As an Indian, therefore, he speaks 
of their customs, and describes their characteristics ; and 
probably, in his autobiography, we have more interesting par- 
ticulars than were ever before given of the aborigines. 

Beckwourth, after ten thousand adventures, finally became 
involved in the stream that set toward the Pacific, and, almost 
unconsciously, he established a home in one of the pleasant 
valleys that border on Feather Eiver. Discovering a pass in 
the mountains that greatly facilitated emigrants in reaching 
California, his house became a stopping-place for the weary 
and dispirited among them, and no doubt the associations thus 
presented have done much to efface his natural disposition to 
wander and seek excitement among the Indian tribes. 

In person he is of medium height, of strong muscular power, 
quick of apprehension, and, for a man of his years, very active. 
From his neck is suspended a perforated bullet, with a large 
oblong bead each side of it, secured by a thread of sinew ; this 
amulet is just as he wore it while chief among the Crows. 
With the exception of this, he has now assumed the usual 
costume of civilized life, and, in his occasional visits to San 
Francisco, vies with many prominent residents in the dress and 
manners of the refined gentleman. 

It is unnecessary to speak of the natural superiority of his 



AMEEICAN EDITION. 19 

mind : his autobiography everywhere displays it. His sagacity 
in determining what would please the Indians has never been 
surpassed ; for on the most trying occasions, where hundreds 
of others would have fallen victims to circumstances, he 
escaped. His courage is of the highest order, and probably 
few men ever lived who have met with more personal adventure 
involving danger to life, though in this respect he is not an 
exception to all mountaineers and hunters who early engaged 
in the fur trade and faced the perils of an unknown wilderness. 



CONTENTS, 



CHAPTEE I. 

PAGE 

Birth-place and Childhood— Eemoval to St. Louis 29 

CHAPTEE II. 

Expedition to the Mines— Am Hunter to the Party— First Trip to New 
Orleans— Sick with Yellow Fever— Eetum Home— First Trip to the 
Great West . . . .36 

CHAPTEE III. 

Eetum from the deserted Pawnee Villages — Sufferings on the Way — 
Prospect of Starvation — Fall in with the Indians most opportunely 
—Safe Arrival at Ely's Trading-post at the mouth of the Kansas . 43 

CHAPTEE IV. 

Severe Sufferings in the Camp — Grand Island — Platte Eiver — Up the 
South Fork of the Platte— The Dog, the Wolf, and the first Buffalo 50 

CHAPTEE V. 

Sufferings on the Platte — Arrive at the Eocky Mountains — ^Fall out with 
General Ashley — Horses again stolen by the Crow Indians — Sick- 
ness of our General — Eescue of the General from a wounded Buffalo 
— Eemarkable Eescue of the General from the Green Eiver " Suck " 57 

CHAPTEE VI. 

We separate into six Detachments, and start out— Trapping on Green 
Eiver— Narrow Escape from a Massacre by the Arrap-a-hos— One 
Man murdered in Camp — Eetreat — Fall in with a Detachment of 
our Company— Great Joy at the Meeting— Eeturn of the Detach- 
ments to the Place of Eendezvous at the ** Suck " . . . .69 



22 CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

CHAPTER VII 

Arrival of General Ashley and Party— His Relation of their Sufferings 
after leaving the Rendezvous — Their Excursion to Salt Lake — Fall 
in with a Fur Company before unknown to the Mountaineers — His 
final Fortune, and Return to St. Louis , . ... . .75 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Unexpected Return to the Rocky Mountains — Camp removed — Final 
Success in finding our party in the Mountains — Joyful Meeting — 
Horses stolen by the Pun-nak Indians — A Battle, and six Indians 
killed — We recapture our Horses ....... 91 

CHAPTER IX. 

The Company removes from Cache Valley on a Hunting and Trapping 
Excursion — Discovery of a Band of Black Feet — A Battle ensues 
with them — Description of the Battle— Return to the Rendezvous— 
Fulfilment of the Medicine Chief's Prophecy 98 

CHAPTER X. 

Great Battle with the Black Feet — Departure of General Ashley — His 
Farewell Speech to the Mountaineers — Removal of our Rendezvous 
— Peace between the Flat Heads and Black Feet — Trading-post at 
their Village — I become Son-in-law to the Black Foot Chief — 
Trouble in the Family — Wife punished for Disobedience — Troubled 
Waters finally stilled 106 

CHAPTER XL 

Removal of our Rendezvous — Battle with our Friends, the Black Feet — 
A Race for dear Life — Great Victory over the Grovan Band of Black 
Feet 116 

CHAPTER XII. 

Departure from the Rendezvous— Trouble in Camp — ^Leave the Party 
and Traps — Arrival at the Crow Village — Great Stir among the 
Crows — Joyful Meeting with my Crow Parents, Brothers, and Sisters 
— Three years without seeing a White Man ..... 129 

CHAPTER XIII. 

War between the Crow Nation and other Indian Tribes — My first Victory 
as a Crow Indian — A Melancholy and Sentimental Indian— Indian 
Masonry — Return to Camp — Great Rejoicing among my innumer- 
able Relatives— The Little Wife 138' 



CONTENTS. 23 

PAGE 

CHAPTEK XIV. 

Great Loss of Horses in the Mountains — Destructive Battle witli the 
Black Feet— Storming of their Natural Fort— Trouble with the 
Cheyennes 165 

CHAPTEE XV. 

Short Account of Pine Leaf, the Crow Heroine — Twenty Days' Battle 
with the Cheyennes— Eeturn of the Village to the west side of the 
Mountains — Letter from M'Kenzie — Visit to his Trading-post at the 
Mouth of the Yellow Stone 174 

CHAPTER XVI. 

Departure from Fort Cass — Capture of Squaws — Battle with the Black 
Feet ; with the Cheyennes — Great Success of the Crows in stealing 
Horses — A successful Fall for Beaver — Return to the Fort with 
Peltry 187 

CHAPTER XVII. 

Victory over the Cheyennes — Treachery of the Snake Indians — Loss of 
six Crow Warriors — Victory over the Snakes and Utahs — A Moun- 
taineer killed — Trouble in the Wigwam — I am disgraced — Great 
Sacrifice of my Father's Property — Three Whippings for violating 
Crow Morals — Great Battle with the Re-ka-ras .... 195 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

Departure from the Fort with the Crows — I am elected First Counsellor 
of the Nation— Death of the head Chief — I am appointed Successor 
—Last Moments of the Chief 217' 

CHAPTER XIX. 

Departure from the Fort — Arrival of Fitzpatrick and Party at the Crow- 
Village — Hairbreadth Escape from a Massacre — Rescue and Res- 
toration of Property to the Owners — Departure of the Party— My 
Return to the Fort — Escape from Black Feet — Defeat of the Crows 227 

CHAPTER XX. 

Excursion to the Fort — Arrival of Long Hair's Village — Building of a 
new Medicine Lodge — Triumphant Entrance of my little Wife into 
the Lodge — Attack on the Crow Village by the Siouxs — Meeting of 
the two Crow Villages — Visit of the Grovans — Visit to the Grovans 
and Fort Clarke 241 



24 CGNIENTS. 

PAGE 

CEAPTEK XXI. 

Attacks of the Black Feet en the Fort— Six White Men killed— Aban- 
donment of Fort Cass — Fort constructed at the Mouth of the " Rose 
Bud " — Removal of the Village — Peace concluded with the As-ne- 
boines— Hairbreadth Escape— Death of Mr. Hunter, of Kentucky . 250 

CHAPTER XXII. 

Meteoric Shower— Its Effects upon the Indians — Their Sacrifice to the 
Great Spirit — Continued Hostilities with the Black Feet — A Black 
Foot burned in the Crow Village — Visit to the Fort .... 263 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

Removal to our Tobacco-ground — Expedition to the Arrap-a-lios for 
Horses — Discovered, and the Party scattered — Wanderings for four- 
teen Months — Return at last amid tremendous Rejoicing . . . 270 

CHAPTER XXIV. 

Excursion to the Fort — Great Battle with the Cheyennes on the way — 
Rejoicing on my Arrival at the Fort — Horses stolen by the Cheyennes 
— Pursuit and Battle with the Thieves — Battle with the Black Feet 
— Return to our Village 280 

CHAPTER XXV. 

Visit of the whole Crow Nation to the Fort — Seven Days' Trading and 
Rejoicing — Separation of the Villages — Expedition to the Camanches 
— Narrow Escape from their Village — Battle with the Black Feet — 
The Whites assist us with their Cannon — Captured by the Black 
Feet — Recaptured by the Crows— Final Victory .... 288 

CHAPTER XXVI. 

Deputation from the As-ne-boines — Characteristic Speech of Yellow 
Belly — Visit to the Fort— Visit to Fort Union — Rescue of Five 
White Men from Starvation — Arrival at Fort Cass — Departure for 
the Village — Visit of the Snakes to the Crows .... 298 

CHAPTER XXVII. 

Departure for St. Louis — Visit Fort Union — Fort Clarke — Descend to 
the A-rick-a-ra Country — Am taken Prisoner — Extraordinary Means 
of Release— Reach St. Louis — Scarcely recognized by my Sisters — 
Changes — Estrangement of Friends— Sigh for my Indian Horns . 312 



CONTENTS. 25 

PAGE 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 

Disagreeable Eencounters in St Louis — MesseDger arrives from Fort 
Cass — Imminent Peril of the Whites from the Infuriated Crows — 
The Cause — Immediate Return — Incidents of my Arrival — Pine Leaf 
substituted for Eliza —Last Battle vsrith the Black Feet — Final Adieu 
to the Crows 318 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

Return to St. Louis — Interview with General Gaines — The Muleteers' 
Company — Departure for Florida — Wreck of the Maid of New 
York — Arrival at Fort Brooke — Tampa Bay — Bearer of Despatches 
to General Jessup — Battle of 0-ke-cho-be — Anecdotes and Incidents 335 

CHAPTER XXX. 

Departure for the Mountains — Severe Sickness on the Way — Arrival at 
Bent's Fort — Arrival at Sublet's Fort — Interview with the Cheyennes 
— Diflficulty with a Sioux Warrior — His Death — Successful Trade 
opened with various Tribes — Incidents 350 

CHAPTER XXXI. 

Invitation to visit the Outlaws — Interview with " the Elk that Calls " — 
Profitable Trade with the Outlaws — Return to the Post — Great 
Alarm among the Traders — Five Horses killed at the Fort — Flight 
from the Siouxs — Safe arrival at the Fort — Trade with the Arrap- 
a-hos — Attacked by a Cheyenne Warrior — Peace restored . . 3G2 

CHAPTER XXXII. 

First Trip to New Mexico — Return to the Indians with Goods — Success 
in Trade — Enter into Business in St. Fernandez— Get Married — 
Return to the Indians— The fortunate Speculation — Proceed to Cali- 
fornia with Goods 376 

CHAPTER XXXIII. 

The Californian Revolution — Rifle Corps — Position of the two Armies — 
Colonel Sutter— Cannonade— Flight of Sutter— His Return— Trial 
and subsequent Release 385 

CHAPTER XXXIV. 

Affairs at Santa Fe — Insurrection at Taos — Discovery of the Plot — 
Battle at the Caiion — Battles at Lambida, at Pueblo, and at Taos 
— A Mexican Woman redeemed from the Indianf — Return to Santa 
Fe 399 



26 CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

CHAPTEE XXXV. 

Departure for California — Meeting with the Apaches— Hostile Threats 
—Trouble with the Utahs— Most terrible Tragedy— Society in 
California — Adventures with Grizzly Bears 412 

CHAPTEE XXXVI. 

Discovery of Beckwourth's Pass — No pecuniary Eeward for pubUc Ser- 
vices — Transformation— A new Character — Emigrants at Home 
and at their Journey's End — Description of the Happy Valley — 
Interesting Eeminiscence 423 

CHAPTEE XXXVII. 

Mistakes regarding the Character of the Indian — Extent of the Western 
Tribes— Their Character— How a War against them should be con- 
ducted — Eeflections — Closing Address to the Indian Heroine . . 433 



LIST OF ILLUSTKATIONS. 



(1) Head Chief of the Blackfeet, Stu-mick- 

o-SucKS (the Buffalo's Back Feet) ... Frontispiece 

(2) Chah-ee-chopes (the Four Wolves : A Crow 

Chief. — Oo-je-en-a-he-ha, a Crow Woman) To face p. 80 

(3) Cbow Lodge, made of skins, ornamented 

and feinged with scalp locks ... „ 128 

(4) A Ckow Warrioe. A Counsellor of the 

Crow Nation , ... ,, 176 

(5) Mystery, or Medicine, Man, with Mys- 

tery Drum (Blackfoot) ,, 256 

(6) Pe-toh-pee-Kiss (the Eagle Eibs. A Black- 

foot) „ 272 

(7) A Blackfoot Woman ... ... ... ,, 296 

(8) Grandson of Stu-mick-o- Sucks. Boy of 

Six (Blackfoot) „ 328 

(These are taken from reproductions of the portraits of in- 
dividual Crows and Blackfeet Indians, painted by Catlin 
during his stay among the North x\merican Indians). 




AUTOBIOGBAPHY 

OF 

JAMES P. BECKWOUETH. 




CHAPTEE I. 

Birth-place and Childhood — Eemoval to St. Louis. 

WAS born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on 
the 26th of April, 1798. My father's family 
consisted of thirteen children, seven sons 
and six daughters. I was the third child, 
having one sister and one brother older than 
myself. 

My father had been an officer in the 

Revolutionary War, and had held a major's commission. He 

served throughout that glorious struggle which 

* « Eaised the dignity of man , 
And taught him to be free." 

I well recollect, when a small boy, the frequent meetings of 
the old patriots at my father's house, who would sit down and 
relate the different battles in which they had taken part during 
"those days that tried men's souls." According to the custom 
of those days, their meetings were occasionally enlivened with 
some good old peach brandy ; the same kind, I presume, as 
that with which the old Tory treated M' Donald when he 
delivered his splendid charger " Selim " to him for presenta- 
tion to Colonel Tarleton, which circumstance was very fre- 
quently spoken of by the old soldiers. 



30 AUTOBIOOBAPHY OF 

Often during these reminiscences every eye would dim, and 
tears course down the cheeks of the old veterans, as they thus 
fought their battles o'er again, and recalled their sufferings 
during the struggles they had passed through. 

My youthful mind was vividly impressed with the stirring 
scenes depicted by those old soldiers ; but time and subsequent 
hardship have obliterated most of their narratives from my 
memory. One incident I recollect, however, related by my 
father, when he formed one of a storming party in the attack 
on Stony Point made under General Wayne. 

When I was but about seven or eight years of age, my 
father removed to St. Louis, Missouri, taking with him all 
his family and twenty-two negroes. He selected a section of 
land between the forks of the Mississippi and Missouri Elvers, 
twelve miles below St. Charles, which is to this day known as 
" Beckwourth's Settlement." 

At this early period of our history (1805-6) the whole region 
of country around was a " howHng wilderness," inhabited 
only by wild beasts and merciless savages. St. Louis, at that 
time, was but a small town, its inhabitants consisting almost 
wholly of French and Spanish settlers, who were engaged in 
trafficking with the Indians the commodities of civilization, 
such 2i?, fire-water,'^ beads, blankets, arms, ammunition, &c., for 
peltry. 

For protection against the Indians, who were at that time 
very troublesome and treacherous, it became necessary for the 
whites to construct block-houses at convenient distances. 
These block-houses were built by the united exertions of the 
settlej-s, who began to gather from all quarters since the 
"Jefferson Purchase" had been effected from the French 
Government. The settlers or inhabitants of four adjoining 
sections would unite and build a block-house in the centre of 
their possessions, so that in case of alarm they could all repair 
to it as a place of refuge from the savages. 

It was necessary to keep a constant guard on the planta- 
tions, and while one portion of the men were at work, the 



* Ardent spirits. In Chippewa, shinga-wauba. In all Eed Indian 
languages it is so called, as well as in Gypsy. — C. G. L. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 31 

others, with their arms, were on the alert watching the wily- 
Indian. Those days are still fresh in my memory, and it was 
then that I received, young as I was, the rudiments of my 
knowledge of the Indian character, which has been of such 
inestimable value to me in my subsequent adventures among 
them. 

There were constant alarms in the neighbourhood of some 
of the block-houses, and hardly a day passed without the 
inhabitants being compelled to seek them for protection. As 
an illustration of our mode of life, I will relate an incident 
that befel me w^hen about nine years old. 

One day my father called me to him, and inquired of me 
whether I thought myself man enough to carry a sack of corn 
to the mill. The idea of riding a horse, and visiting town, 
possessed attractions which I could not resist, and I replied 
with a hearty affirmative. A sack of corn was accordingly 
deposited on the back of a gentle horse selected for the pur- 
pose, and ''Young Jim" (as I was called) was placed upon 
the sack, and started for the mill two miles distant. About 
midway to the mill lived a neighbour having a large family of 
children, with whom I frequently joined in boyish sports. On 
my way I rode joyously up to the little fence which separated 
the house from the road, thinking to pass a word with my 
little playmates. What was my horror at discovering all the 
children, eight in number, from one to fourteen years of age, 
lying in various positions in the door-yard with their throats 
cut, their scalps torn off, and the warm Life-blood still oozing 
from their gaping wounds ! In the doorway lay their father, 
and near him their mother, in the same condition ; they had 
all shared the same fate. I found myself soon back at my 
father's house, but without the sack of corn — how I managed 
to get it off I never discovered — and related the circumstances 
to my father. He immediately gave the alarm throughout the 
settlement, and a body of men started in pursuit of the savages 
who had perpetrated this fearful tragedy ; my father, with ten 
of his own men, accompanying them. In two days the band 
returned, bringing with them eighteen Indian scalps ; for the 
backwoodsman fought the savage in Indian style, and it was 
scalp for scalp between them. 



32 AUTQBIOGEAPHY OF 

The day when I beheld the harrowing spectacle of my little 
murdered playmates is still as fresh in my memory as at the 
time of its occurrence, and it never will fade from my mind. 
It was the first scene of Indian cruelty my young eyes had 
ever witnessed, and I wondered how even savages could 
possess such relentless minds as to wish to bathe their hands 
in the blood of little innocents against whom they could have 
no cause of quarrel. But my subsequent experience has 
better acquainted me with the Indian character, as the reader 
will learn in the course of the following pages. 

I also recollect a large body of Indians assembling in their 
war costume on the opposite side of the Mississippi Eiver, in 
what is now the State of Illinois. This was at Portage de 
Soix, twenty-five miles above St. Louis, and about two miles 
from my father's house ; and their intention was to cut off all 
the white inhabitants of the surrounding country. The alarm 
was given ; a large party of the settlers collected, crossed the 
river, and after a severe engagement defeated the Indians with 
great loss, and frustrated their bloody purposes. 

Three days after this battle, a w^oman came into the settle- 
ment who had been three years captive among the Indians. 
She had made her escape during the confusion attending their 
defeat, and reached her friends in safety, after they had long 
supposed her dead. The name of this w^oman I do not re- 
member, but I have no doubt there are old settlers in that 
region who yet recollect the circumstance, and the general 
rejoicing with which her escape was celebrated. 

The news that she brought w^as of the most alarming nature. 
She related how several of the Indian tribes had held a grand 
council, and resolved upon a general attack upon St. Louis 
and all the surrounding country, with the view to butcher 
indiscriminately all the white inhabitants, French and Spanish 
excepted. This intelligence produced the greatest alarm 
among the inhabitants, and every preparation w^as made to 
repel the attack. New block-houses were erected, old ones 
repaired, and everything placed in the best posture for defence. 
The Indians soon after appeared in great force opposite St. 
Louis. Blondo, an interpreter, was despatched across the 
river to them, to inform them of the preparations made for 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 33 

their reception. He informed them of the inteUigence commu- 
nicated by the woman fugitive from their camp ; and repre- 
sented to them that the people of St. Louis were provided 
with numerous ''big guns mounted on waggons," which, in 
case of attack, could not fail to annihilate all their warriors. 
They credited Blondo's tale, and withdrew their forces. 

At the period of which I speak, the major part of the in- 
habitants of St. Louis were French and Spanish. These were 
on friendly terms with all the Indian tribes, and wished to 
confine their long-established trafi&c with the Eed men to 
themselves. For this reason they discountenanced the settle- 
ment of Americans among them, as they considered it an 
invasion of their monopoly of the traffic with the Indians ; 
and St. Louis being the grand trading depot for the regions 
of the West and North-west, the profits derived from the 
intercourse were immense. The Indians, too, thinking them- 
selves better dealt with by the French and Spanish, united 
with the latter in their hostility to the influx of the 
Americans. 

When about ten years of age I was sent to St. Louis to 
attend school, where I continued until the year 1812. I was 
then apprenticed to a man in St. Louis named George Casner, 
to learn the trade of blacksmith. (This man had a partner 
named John L. Sutton, who is yet a resident in St. Louis). 

I took to the trade with some unwillingness at first, but 
becoming reconciled to it, I was soon much pleased with my 
occupation. When I had attained my nineteenth year, my 
sense of importance had considerably expanded, and, like 
many others of my age, I felt myself already quite a man. 
Among other indiscretions, I became enamoured of a young 
damsel, which, leading me into habits that my boss dis- 
approved of, resulted finally in a difficulty between us. 

Being frequently tempted to transgress my boss's rules by 
staying from home somewhat late of an evening, and finding 
the company I spent my time with so irresistibly attractive 
that I could not bring myself to obedience to orders, I gave 
way to my passion, and felt indifferent whether my proceed- 
ings gave satisfaction or otherwise. One morning I was 
assailed by my principal in language which I considered 

3 



34 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

unduly harsh and insulting, and on his threatening to dismiss 
me his house, I was tempted to reply with some warmth, and 
acknowledge that his doing so would exactly square with my 
wishes. 

Provoked at this, he seized a hammer and flung at me. I 
dodged the missile, and threw it back at him in return. A 
scuffle then ensued, in which I, being young and athletic, 
came off master of the ground, and, accepting his pohte dis- 
missal, walked straight to my boarding-house. But a few 
moments elapsed before my assailant walked in and forbade 
my landlady to entertain me farther on his account. 

I replied that I had plenty of money, and was competent to 
pay my own board. 

This provoked him to a second attack, in which he again 
came off worsted. 

Hereupon resolving to leave the house, I began to prepare 
for my departure; but, before I had completed my prepara- 
tions, a one-armed constable presented himself at the stairs, 
and demanded to see me. Well knowing his errand, I took a 
well-loaded pistol in my hand, and went to meet him, assuring 
him that if he ascended the steps to capture me I would shoot 
him dead. In my exasperated state of mind, I really believe 
I should have executed my threat ; the constable, perceiving 
my resolute bearing, after parleying a while, went away. 
Feeling confident that he had gone for another officer, who I 
feared might capture me, I expedited my departure, and, 
taking refuge in the house of a friend, concealed myself for 
three days, and then shipped on board a keel-boat, proceeding 
to the mines on Fever Eiver. But I was discovered by my 
boss and detained, he holding himself responsible for my 
appearance until my father's decision was learned. 

Accordingly, I went home to my father, and related the 
difficulty I had recently had with my master. He counselled 
me to return to my apprenticeship, but I declared my deter- 
mination never to be reconciled again. My father then wished 
me to set up in business in his settlement, but I expressed 
disinchnation, and declared a growing wish to travel. Seeing 
my determination, my father finally consented to my depar- 
ture. He admonished me with some wholesome precepts, gave 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH, 35 

me five hundred dollars in cash, together with a good horse, 
saddle, and bridle, and bade me God speed upon my journey. 

Bidding adieu to all my friends, I proceeded to the boat and 
went on board. The object for which the boat was despatched 
up the Fever Eiver was to make a treaty with the Sac Indians, 
to gain their consent to our working the mines, at that time 
in their possession. The expedition was strictly of a pacific 
character, and was led by Colonel E. M. Johnson. A brother 
of the colonel's accompanied us, and several other gentlemen 
went in the boat as passengers. 



CHAPTEE II. 

Expedition to the Mines — Am Hunter to the Party — First Trip to New 
Orleans — Sick with Yellow Fever — Beturn Home — First Trip to the 
Great West. 

THE expedition consisted of from six to eight boats, carry- 
ing probably about one hundred men. The party in 
our boat numbered some eight or ten men, among whom 
were Colonel Johnson, his son Darwin Johnson, Messrs. 
January, Simmes, Kennerley, and others, whose names have 
escaped me. I engaged in the capacity of hunter to the party. 

"We pushed off, and after a slow and tedious trip of about 
twenty days, arrived at our place of destination (Galena of the 
present day). We found Indians in great numbers awaiting 
our disembarkation, who were already acquainted with the 
object of our expedition. The two tribes. Sacs and Foxes, 
received us peaceably, but, being all armed, they presented a 
very formidable appearance. There was a considerable force 
of United States troops quartered in that region, under the 
command of Colonel Morgan, stationed in detachments at 
Prairie du Chien, Eock Island, St. Peter's, and Des Moines. 

After nine days' parleying, a treaty was effected with them, 
and ratified with the signatures of the contracting parties. 
On the part of the Indians, it was signed by Black Thunder, 
Yellow, Bank, and Keokuk (father to the Keokuk who figured 
in the Black Hawk war). On the part of the United States, 
Colonels Morgan and Johnson attached their signatures. 
This negotiation concluded, the mines were then first opened 
for civilized enterprise. 

During the settlement of the preliminaries of the treaty. 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 37 

there was great difficulty with the Indians, and it was neces- 
sary for each man of our party to be on his guard against any 
hostile attempts of the former, who were all armed to the 
teeth. On the distribution of presents, which followed the 
conclusion of the treaty, consisting of casks of whisky, guns, 
gunpowder, knives, blankets, &c., there was a general time of 
rejoicing. Pow-wows, drinking, and dancing diversified the 
time, and a few fights were indulged in as a sequel to the 
entertainment. 

The Indians soon became very friendly to me, and I was 
indebted to them for showing me their choicest hunting- 
grounds. There was abundance of game, including deer, 
bears, wild turkey, raccoons, and numerous other wild 
animals. Frequently they would accompany me on my 
excursions (which always proved eminently successful), thus 
affording me an opportunity of increasing my personal know- 
ledge of the Indian character. I have lived among Indians in 
the Eastern and Western States, on the Eocky Mountains, 
and in California ; I find their habits of living, and their 
religious belief, substantially uniform through all the unmingled 
races. All believe in the same Great Spirit ; all have their 
prophets, their medicine men, and their soothsayers, and are 
alike influenced by the appearance of omens ; thus leading to 
the belief that the original tribes throughout the entire con- 
tinent, from Florida to the most northern coast, have sprung 
from one stock, and still retain in some degree of purity the 
social constitution of their primitive founders. 

I remained in that region for a space of eighteen months, 
occupying my leisure time by working in the mines. During 
this time I accumulated seven hundred dollars in cash, and, 
feeling myself to be quite a wealthy personage, I determined 
upon a return home. 

My visit paid, I felt a disposition to roam farther, and took 
passage in the steamboat Calhoun, Captain Glover, about to 
descend the river to New Orleans. My stay in New Orleans 
lasted ten days, during which time I was sick with the yellow 
« fever, which I contracted on the way from Natchez to New 
Orleans. It was midsummer, and I sought to return home, 
heartily regretting I had ever visited this unwholesome place. 



38 AUTOBIOGBAPEY OF 

As my sickness abated, I lost no time in making my way back, 
and remained under my father's roof until I had in some 
measure recruited my forces. 

Being possessed with a strong desire to see the celebrated 
Eocky Mountains, and the great Western wilderness so much 
talked about, I engaged in General Ashley's Eocky Mountain 
Fur Company. The company consisted of twenty-nine men, 
who were employed by the Fur Company as hunters and 
trappers. 

We started on the 11th of October with horses and pack- 
mules. Nothing of interest occurred until we approached the 
Kansas village, situate on the Kansas Eiver, when we came to 
a halt and encamped. 

Here it was found that the company was in need of horses, 
and General Ashley wished for two men to volunteer to pro- 
ceed to the Eepublican Pawnees, distant three hundred miles, 
where he declared we could obtain a supply. There was in 
our party an old and experienced mountaineer, named Moses 
Harris, in whom the general reposed the strictest confidence 
for his knowledge of the country and his familiarity with 
Indian life. This Harris was reputed to be a man of " great 
leg," * and capable, from his long sojourning in the mountains, 
of enduring extreme privation and fatigae. 

There seemed to be a great reluctance on the part of the 
men to undertake in such company so hazardous a journey 
(for it was now winter). It was also whispered in the camp 
that whoever gave out in an expedition with Harris received 
no succour from him, but was abandoned to his fate in the 
wilderness. 

Our leader, seeing this general unwillingness, desired me to 
perform the journey with Harris. Being young, and feeling 
ambitious to distinguish myself in some important trust, I 
asked leave to hav3 a word with Harris before I decided. 

Harris being called, the following colloquy took place : 

"Harris, I think of accompanying you on this trip." 

" Very well, Jim," he replied, scrutinizing me closely, " do 
you think you can stand it ? " 

" I don't know," I answered, " but I am going to try. But 
* I.e., a great traveller ; able to go a great distance in a day. 



JAMES P. BECKW0UBT3. 39 

I wish you to bear one thing in mind : if I should give out on 
the road, and you offer to leave me to perish, as you have the 
name of doing, if I have strength to raise and cock my rifle, I 
shall certainly bring you to a halt." 

Harris looked me full in the eye while he replied, " Jim, 
you may precede me the entire way, and take your own jog. 
If I direct the path, and give you the lead, it will be your own 
fault if you tire out." 

" That satisfies me," I replied : "we will be off in the 
morning." 

The following morning we prepared for departure. Each 
man loading himself with twenty-five pounds of provisions, 
besides a blanket, rifle, and ammunition each, we started on 
our journey. After a march of about thirty miles, I in 
advance, my companion bringing up the rear, Harris com- 
plained of fatigue. We halted, and Harris sat down, while I 
built a large, cheerful fire, for the atmosphere was ]quite cold. 
We made coffee, and partook of a hearty supper, lightening 
our packs, as we supposed, for the following day. But while I 
was bringing in wood to build up the fire, I saw Harris seize 
his rifle in great haste, and the next moment bring down a 
fat turkey from a tree a few rods from the camp. Immediately 
reloading (for old mountaineers never suffer their guns to 
remain empty for one moment), while I iwas yet rebuilding 
the fire, crack went his rifle again, and down came a second 
turkey, so large and fat that he burst in striking the ground. 
We w^ere thus secure for our next morning's meal. After we 
had refreshed ourselves with a hearty supper, my companion 
proposed that we should kill each a turkey to take wdth us for 
our next day's provision. This we both succeeded in doing, 
and then, having dressed the four turkeys, we folded ourselves 
in our blankets, and enjoyed a sound night's rest. 

The following morning we breakfasted off the choicest por- 
tions of two of the turkeys, and abandoned the remainder to 
the wolves, who had been all night prowling round the camp 
for prey. We started forward as early as possible, and ad- 
vanced that day about forty miles. My companion again 
complained of fatigue, and rested while I made a fire, procured 
water, and performed all the culinary work. The selected 



40 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

portions of last evening's turkeys, with the addition of bread 
and coffee, supplied us with supper and breakfast. 

After a travel of ten days we arrived at the Eepublican 
Pawnee villages, when what was our consternation and dismay 
to find the place entirely deserted! They had removed to 
their winter quarters. We were entirely out of provisions, 
having expected to find abundance at the lodges. We searched 
diligently for their caches fplaces where provisions are secured), 
but failed in discovering any. Our only alternative was to 
look for game, which, so near to an Indian settlement, we 
were satisfied must be scarce. 

I would break my narrative for a while to afford some 
explanation in regard to the different bands of the Pawnee 
tribe ; a subject which at the present day is^but imperfectly 
understood by the general reader — the knowledge being con- 
fined to those alone, who, by living among them, have learned 
their language, and hence become acquainted with the nature 
of their divisional lands. 

The reader, perhaps, has remarked, that I related we were 
on a visit to Eepublican Pawnee villages. This is a band of 
the Pawnee tribe of Indians, which is thus divided : 
The Grand Pawnee Band. 
The Eepublican Pawnee Band. 
The Pawnee Loups or Wolf Pawnees. 
The Pawnee Pics or Tattooed Pawnees, and 
The Black Pawnees. 
The five bands constitute the entire tribe. Each band is 
independent and under its own chief, but for mutual defence, 
or in other cases of urgent necessity, they unite into one body. 
They occupy an immense extent of country, stretching from 
beyond the Platte Eiver to the south of the Arkansas, and, at 
the time I speak of, could raise from thirty thousand to forty 
thousand warriors. Like all other Indian tribes, they have 
dwindled away from various causes, the small-pox and war 
having carried them off by thousands. Some of the bands 
have been reduced to one half by this fatal disease (in many 
instances introduced designedly among them by their civilized 
brethren) ; a disease more particularly fatal to the Indians from 
their entire ignorance of any suitable remedy. Their invariable 



JAMES P. BECKWOTJBTH. 41 

treatment for all ailments being a cold-water immersion, it is 
not surprising that they are eminently unsuccessful in their 
treatment of the small-pox.'^ Horse-stealing, practised by one 
l^and upon the other, leads to exterminating feuds and frequent 
■engagements, wherein great numbers are mutually slain. 

The [following interesting episode I had from the lips of the 
interpreter : 

Some thirty- two years ago, during Monroe's administration, 
a powerful Indian named Tioo Axe, chief counsellor of the 
Pawnee Loup band, went to pay his " Great Father," the 
President, a visit. He was over six feet high and well pro- 
portioned, athletic build, and as straight as an arrow. He 
was delegated to Washington by his tribe to make a treaty 
with his Great Father. 

Being introduced, his '' father " made known to him, through 
the interpreter, the substance of his proposal. The keen- 
witted Indian, perceiving that the proposed treaty " talked all 
turkey" to the white man and ''all crow" to his tribe, sat 
patiently during the reading of the paper.! The reading 
finished, he arose with all his native dignity, and in that vein 
•of true Indian eloquence in which he was unsurpassed, 
declared that the treaty had been conceived in injustice and 
brought forth in duplicity ; that many treaties had been signed 
by Indians of their " Great Father's " concoction wherein they 
bartered away the graves of their fathers for a few worthless 
trinkets, and afterward their hearts cried at their folly ; that 
•such Indians were fools and women. He expressed his free 
opinion of the " Great Father," and all his white children, and 
■concluded by declaring that he would sign no paper which 

* It is a curious coincidence that in New Zealand and other Pacific 
Islands, the natives died by thousands from plunging into cold water when 
attacked by the small-pox — C. G. Leland. 

t This expression *' to talk turkey," i.e., to one's own profit; also to the 
purpose, is said to have originated as follows : — A white man and an Indian 
went hunting together, having agreed to share the game. At the end of the 
day there were two crows and a wild turkey in the bag. The white man as 
the lion made the division. •' Here," he said to the Indian, " is a crow for 
jou, then a turkey for me, then a crow for you." To which the Indian 
replied, " Me no like that. You talk all turkey for you, and all crow for 
me.''— C.G. Leland. 



42 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 

would make his own breast or those of his people to 
sorrow. 

Accordingly, Two Axe broke up the council abruptly, and. 
returned to his home without making any treaty with his. 
" Great Father." 



CHAPTEE III. 

Eeturn from the deserted Pawnee Villages — Sufferings on the Way — 
Prospect of Starvation — Fall in with the Indians most opportunely — 
Safe Arrival at Ely's Trading-post at the mouth of the Kansas. 

MY companion and myself took counsel together how to 
proceed. Our determination was to make the best 
of our way to the Grand Ne-mah-haw Eiver, one of the 
tributaries of the Missouri. We arrived at that river after 
nine days* travel, being, with the exception of a little coffee 
and sugar, entirely without provisions. My companion was 
worn out, and seemed almost disheartened. I was young and 
did not feel much the worse for the journey, although I 
experienced a vehement craving for food. Arrived at the 
river, I left Harris by a good fire, and, taking my rifle, went 
in quest of game, not caring what kind I tnet. 

As Fortune would have it, I came across an elk, and my 
rifle soon sent a leaden messenger after him. We encamped 
near him, promising ourselves a feast. He was exceedingly 
poor, however, and, hungry as we were, we made a very 
unsavoury supper off his flesh. The next morning we continued 
our journey down the Ne-mah-haw, travelli ig on for five days 
after I had killed the elk without tasting fo^d. The elk had 
been so rank that we carried no part of him with us, trusting 
to find some little game, in which we were disappointed. We 
had thrown away our blankets to relieve ourselves of every 
burden that would impede our progress, which, withal, was 
extremely slow. 

On the fifth day we struck a large Indian trail, which bore 
evident marks of being fresh. My companion now gave 



44 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

entirely up, and threw himself to the ground, declaring he 
could go no farther. He pronounced our position to be thirty 
miles from the trading-post. I endeavoured to arouse him to 
get up and proceed onward, but he could only advance a few 
rods at a time. I felt myself becoming weak ; still, I had 
faith that I could reach Ely's, if I had no hindrance ; if I 
lingered for Harris, I saw we should both inevitably perish. 
He positively declared he could advance not a step farther ; 
he could scarcely put one foot before the other, and I saw he 
was becoming bewildered. 

In the dilemma I said to him, "Harris, we must both 
perish if we stay here. If I make the best of my way along 
this trail, I believe I can reach Ely's some time in the night " 
(for I was aware that the Indians, whose trail we were fol- 
lowing, were proceeding thither with their peltry). 

But Harris would not listen to it. 

" Oh, Jim," he exclaimed, " don't leave me ; don't leave me 
here to die ! For God's sake, stay with me ! " 

I did my best to encourage him to proceed ; I assisted him 
to rise, and we again proceeded upon our journey. 

I saw, by the progress we were making, we should never get 
on; so I told him, if I had to advance and leave him, to throw 
himself in the trail, and await my return on the following day 
with a good horse to carry him to the trading-post. We 
walked on, I a hundred yards in advance, but I became con- 
vinced that if I did not use my remaining strength in getting 
to Ely's, we should both be lost. 

Accordingly, summoning all my forces, I doubled my speed, 
determined to reach the post before I stopped. I had not 
proceeded half a mile ere I heard the report of two rifles, and, 
looking in the direction of the sound, I saw two Indians ap- 
proaching with demonstrations of friendship. 

On reaching me, one of them exclaimed, ** You are dead — 
you no live ! " 

I explained to him that I had left my companion behind, 
and that we were both nearly starved to death. On this they 
spoke a few words to each other in their own language, and one 
started off like a race-horse, along the trail, while the other re- 
turned with me to my companion. 



JAMES P. B^CK^mJ^lJM^^y 45 

As we approached him I could hest^'^nm moaning, " Ho, 
Jim ! come back ! come back ! don't leave me ! ** 

We went up to him, and I informed him that we were safe ; 
that I had met the Indians, and we should soon be relieved. 

After waiting about three hours, the rattling of hoofs was 
heard, and, looking up, we discovered a troop of Indians ap- 
proaching at full speed. In another moment they were by our 
side. They brought with them a portion of light food, con- 
sisting of corn-meal made into a kind of gruel, of which they 
would give us but a small spoonful at short intervals. When 
Harris was sufficiently restored to mount a horse with the 
assistance of the Indians, we all started forward for the 
post. 

It appeared that the two Indians whom I had so fortunately 
encountered had lingered behind the main party to amuse 
themselves with target -shooting with their rifles. The one 
that started along the trail overtook the main body at a short 
distance, and, making our case known to them, induced them 
to return to our succour. 

We encamped with them that night, and they continued the 
same regimen of small periodic doses of gruel. Several times 
a large Indian seized hold of an arm of each of us, and forced 
us into a run until our strength was utterly exhausted. 
Others of the party would then support us on each side, and 
urge us on till their own strength failed them. After this dis- 
cipline, a spoonful or two of gruel would be administered to 
us. This exercise being repeated several times, they at length 
placed before us a large dish containing venison, bear-meat, 
and turkey, with the invitation to eat all we wanted. It is 
unnecessary to say that I partook of such a meal as I never 
remember to have eaten before or since. 

Early the next day we arrived at the trading-post of Ely and 
Curtis, situate on the Missouri Eiver, near the mouth of the 
Kansas. As I entered the house, I heard some one exclaim, 
" Here comes Jim Beckwourth and Black Harris," the name 
he went by where he was known. 

Ely sprang up to welcome us. " Sure enough," said he, " it 
is they; but they look like corpses." 
Another voice exclaimed, " Halloo, Jim ! what is the matter 



46 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

with you? Is it yourselves, or only your ghosts? Come 
along and take some brandy, any way ; living or dead, you 
must be dry." 

We accepted the invitation, and took each a glass, which, 
in our greatly reduced state, quite overpowered us. Left to 
my reflections, I resolved that, if I survived my present 
dangers, I would return to civilized life. The extremities I had 
been reduced to had so moderated my resentments that, had I 
encountered my former boss, I should certainly have extended 
my hand to him with ready forgiveness. 

The Indians we had so opportunely fallen in with belonged 
to the Kansas band of the Osage tribe, and were on the way, 
as we had surmised, to dispose of their goods at the trading- 
post. Their wares consisted principally of peltry, obtained by 
their sagacity in trapping, and their skill in hunting the wild 
animals of the plains. In purchasing their skins of them, 
Messrs. Ely and Curtis rewarded the Indians very liberally 
with government stores for their humanity in succouring us 
when exhausted, and as an encouragement to relieve others 
whom they might chance to find similarly distressed. 

After thoroughly recruiting at the trading-post, where I re- 
ceived every attention from Messrs. Ely and Curtis, I started 
for St. Louis. On my arrival at G. Chouteau's trading-post, 
I calculated the intervening distance to St. Louis, and 
abandoned my intention of proceeding thither, delaying my 
return till the spring, when the ice would break up in the 
Missouri. Mr. Chouteau engaged me to assist in packing 
peltries during the winter, at twenty-five dollars per 
month. 

When the river was free from ice, I took passage in a St. 
Louis boat, and, after a quick run, arrived safe in the city 
early in the evening of the fifth day. 

Shortly after my arrival I fell in with General Ashley, who 
had returned to the city for more men. The general was 
greatly surprised to see me, he having concluded that my fate 
had been the same with hundreds of others, engaged to fur 
companies, who had perished with cold and starvation. The 
general informed me that he had engaged one hundred and 
twenty men, who were already on their road to the mountains. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH, 47 

He declared I was just the man he was in search of to ride 
after and overtake the men, and accompany them to the 
mountains, and added that I must start the next morning. 

My feeUngs were somewhat similar to those of a young 
sailor on his return from his first voyage to sea. I had 
:achieved one trip to the wild West, and had returned safe, 
and now I was desirous of spending a long interval with my 
father. I suffered the arguments of the old general to prevail 
over me, however, and I re-engaged to him, with the promise 
to start on the following morning. This afforded me short 
time to visit my friends, to whom I just paid a flying visit, 
and returned to the city in the morning. 

After attending to the general's instructions, and receiving 
eight hundred dollars in gold to carry to Mr. Fitzpatrick (an 
agent of General Ashley then stationed in the mountains), I 
mounted a good horse, and put on in pursuit of the party, who 
were five or six days' journey in advance. 

I may here remark that the general had been recently 
married, and, feeling some reluctance to tear himself away 
from the delights of Hymen, he sent me on for the perfor- 
mance of his duties. The general followed after in about a 
week, and overtook the party at Franklin, on the Missouri. 

It was early May when I commenced my journey. Un- 
folding Nature presented so many charms that my previous 
sufferings were obliterated from my mind. The trees were 
clothing themselves with freshest verdure, flowers were un- 
veihng their beauties on every side, and birds were carolHng 
their sweetest songs from every bough. These sights and 
sounds struck more pleasantly upon my senses than the howl 
of the wolf and the scream of the panther, which assailed our 
€ars in the forests and prairies of the wild West. 

After being joined by our general, we proceeded up the 
Missouri to Council Bluffs, and thence struck out for the 
Platte country. Soon after our arrival on the Platte we had 
the great misfortune to lose nearly all our horses, amounting 
to about two hundred head, stolen from us by the Indians. 
We followed their trail for some time, but, deeming it useless 
to follow mounted Indians while we were on foot, our general 
gave up the pursuit. We could not ascertain what tribe the 



48 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

robbers belonged to, but I have since been convinced that they 
were either the I-a-tans or the Arrap-a-hos. 

Our general then gave orders to return to the Missouri and 
purchase all the horses v^e needed, v^hile he returned to St. 
Louis to transact some affairs of business, and possible pay 
his devotions to his very estimable lady. 

We succeeded in obtaining a supply of horses after retracing 
about two hundred miles of our journey, paying for them with 
drafts upon General Ashley in St Louis. We then again 
returned to our camp in the Platte. This adventure occupied 
nearly the whole summer ; and we guarded against a repeti- 
tion of the misfortune by strictly watching the horses day and 
night. While a portion of the company were engaged in 
making purchase of our second supply of horses, the other 
portion remained on the ground to hunt and trap, and gather 
together a supply of provision for our consumption. They 
met with excellent success, and caught a great number of 
beavers and otters, together with a quantity of game. 

General Ashley rejoined us in September, and by his orders 
Fitzpatrick and a Eobert Campbell proceeded to the Loup 
fork, taking with them all the men, except eight, who 
remained behind with the general, to ascend the Platte in 
quest of the company he left there the preceding winter, from 
which Harris and myself had been detached on our expedition, 
to the Pawnee camp. 

After several days' travel we found the company we were 
seeking. They were all well, had been successful in trapping, 
and had made some good trades with straggling parties of 
Indians in the exchange of goods for peltry. They had fared 
rather hard a part of the time, as game, which was their sole 
dependence, was often difficult to obtain. 

1 should here mention that we found Harris in the course of 
our second trip, who rejoined our company, well and hearty. 

Fur companies in those days had to depend upon their rifles 
for a supply of food. No company could possibly carry provi- 
sions sufficient to last beyond the most remote white settle- 
ments. Our food, therefore, consisted of deer, wild turkeys 
which were found in great abundance), bear-meat, and, even 
in times of scarcity, dead horses. Occasionally a httle flour. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 49 

sugar, and coffee might last over to the raountains ; but those 
who held these articles asked exorbitant prices for them, and it 
was but few who tasted such luxuries. 

We were now in the buffalo country, but the Indians had 
driven them all away. Before we left the settlements, our 
party made free use of the beehives, pigs, and poultry 
belonging to the settlers; a marauding practice commonly 
indulged in by the mountaineers, who well knew that the 
strength of their party secured them against any retaliation on 
the part of the sufferers. 

There were two Spaniards in our company, whom we one 
morning left behind us to catch some horses which had 
strayed away from the camp. The two men stopped at a 
house inhabited by a respectable white woman, and they, 
seeing her without protection, committed a disgraceful assault 
upon her person. They were pursued to the camp by a 
number of the settlers, who made known the outrage com- 
mitted upon the woman. We all regarded the crime with 
the utmost abhorrence, and felt mortified that any one of our 
party should be guilty of conduct so revolting. The culprits 
were arrested, and they at once admitted their guilt. A coun- 
cil was called in the presence of the settlers, and the culprits 
offered their choice of two punishments : either to be hung to 
the nearest tree, or to receive one hundred lashes each on the 
bare back. They chose the latter punishment, which was im- 
mediately inflicted upon them by four of our party. Having 
no cat-o' -nine-tails in our possession, the lashes were 
inflicted with hickory withes. Their backs were dreadfully 
lacerated, and the blood flowed in streams to the ground. 
The following morning the two Spaniards, and two of our best 
horses, were missing from the camp ; we did not pursue them, 
but, by the tracks we discovered of them, it was evident they 
had started for New Mexico. 



CHAPTER IV. 

Severe Sufferings in the Camp — Grand Island — Platte River — Up the South 
Fork of the Platte— The Dog, the Wolf, and the first Buffalo. 

ON our arrival at the upper camp, related in the preceding- 
chapter, we found the men, twenty-six in number, 
reduced to short rations, in weakly condition, and in a, 
discouraged state of mind. They had been expecting the 
arrival of a large company with abundant supplies, and when 
we rejoined them without any provisions, they were greatly 
disappointed. General Ashley exerted himself to infuse fresh 
courage into their disconsolate breasts, well knowing himself ,. 
however, that, unless we could find game, the chances were 
hard against us. 

We remained in camp three or four days, until we were well' 
refreshed, and then deliberated upon our next proceeding- 
Knowing there must be game farther up the river, we moved 
forward. Our allowance was half a pint of flour a day per- 
man, which we made into a kind of gruel ; if we happened to 
kill a duck or a goose, it was shared as fairly as possible. I 
recalled to mind the incidents of our Pawnee expedition. 

The third evening we made a halt for a few days. We had 
seen no game worth a charge of powder during our whole 
march, and our rations were confined to the half-pint of flour 
per day. 

We numbered thirty-four men, all told, and a duller encamp- 
ment, I suppose, never was witnessed. No jokes, no fire-side 
stories, no fun ; each man rose in the morning with the gloom 
of the preceding night filling his mind ; we built our fires ana 
partook of our scanty repast without saying a word. 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOVBTH. 51 

At last our general gave orders for the best hunters to sally 
out and try their fortune. I seized my rifle and issued from 
the camp alone, feeling so reduced in strength that my mind 
involuntarily reverted to the extremity I had been reduced to 
with Harris. About three hundred yards from camp I saw 
two teal ducks ; I levelled my rifle, and handsomely decapitated 
one. This was a temptation to my constancy ; and appetite 
and conscientiousness had a long strife as to the disposal of 
the booty. I reflected that it would be but an inconsiderable 
trifle in my mess of four hungry men, while to roast and eat 
him myself would give me strength to hunt for more. A 
strong inward feeling remonstrated against such an invasion . 
of the rights of my starving messmates ; but if, by fortifying 
myself, I gained ability to procure something more substantial 
than a teal duck, my dereliction would be sufficiently atoned, 
and my overruling appetite, at the same time, gratified. 

Had I admitted my messmates to the argument, they might 
possibly have carried it adversely. But I received the con- 
clusion as valid ; so, roasting him without ceremony in the 
bushes, I devoured the duck alone, and felt greatly invigorated 
with the meal. 

Passing up the stream, I pushed forward to fulfil my obli- 
gation. At the distance of about a mile from the camp I came 
across a narrow deer- trail through some rushes, and directly 
across the trail, with only the centre of his body visible (his 
two extremities being hidden by the rushes), not more than 
fifty yards distant, I saw a fine large buck standing. I did not 
wait for a nearer shot. I fired, and broke his back. I des- 
patched him by drawing my knife across his throat, and, 
having partially dressed him, hung him on a tree close by. 
Proceeding onward, I met a large white wolf, attracted, 
probably, by the scent of the deer. I shot him, and, 
depriving him of his meal, devoted him for a repast to the 
camp. Before I returned, I succeeded in killing three good- 
sized elk, which, added to the former, afforded a pretty good 
display of meat. 

I then returned near enough to the camp to signal to them 
to come to my assistance. They had heard the reports of my 
rifle, and, knowing that I would not waste ammunition, had 



62 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

been expecting to see me return with game. All who were 
able turned out to my summons; and when they saw the 
booty awaiting them, their faces were irradiated with joy. 

Each man shouldered his load; but there was not one 
capable of carrying the weight of forty pounds. The game 
being all brought into camp, the fame of " Jim Beckwourth " 
was celebrated by all tongues. Amid all this gratulation, I 
could not separate my thoughts from the duck which had 
supplied my clandestine meal in the bushes. I suffered them 
to appease their hunger with the proceeds of my toil before I 
ventured to tell my comrades of the offence I had been guilty 
of. All justified my conduct, declaring my conclusions 
obvious. As it turned out, my proceeding was right enough ; 
but if I had failed to meet with any game, I had been guilty 
of an offenc3 which would ever after have haunted me. 

At this present time I never kill a duck on my ranche, and 
there are thousands of teal duck there, but I think of my feast 
in the bushes while my companions were famishing in the 
camp. Since that time I have never refused to share my last 
shilling, my last biscuit, or my only blanket with a friend, and 
I think the recollection of that " temptation in the wilderness " 
will ever serve as a lesson to more constancy in the future. 

The day following we started forward up the river, and, 
after progressing some four or five miles, came in sight of 
plenty of deer-sign. The general ordered a halt, and directed 
all hunters out as before. We sallied out in different direc- 
tions, our general, who was a good hunter, forming one of the 
number. At a short distance from the camp I discovered a 
large buck passing slowly between myself and the camp, at 
about pistol-shot distance. As I happened to be standing 
against a tree, he had not seen me. I fired ; the ball passed 
through his body, and whizzed past the camp. Leaving him, 
I encountered a second deer within three quarters of a mile. 
I shot him, and hung him on a limb. Encouraged with my 
success, I climbed a tree to get a fairer view of the ground. 
Looking around from my elevated position, I perceived some 
large, dark-coloured animal grazing on the side of a hill, some 
mile and a half distant. I was determined to have a shot at 
him, whatever he might be. I knew meat was in demand, and 



JAMES P. BEGKWOUBTH. 53 

that fellow, well stored, was worth more than a thousand teal 
ducks. 

I therefore approached, with the greatest precaution, to 
within fair rifle-shot distance, scrutinizing him very closely, 
and still unable to make out what he was. I could see no 
horns ; and if he was a bear, I thought him an enormous one. 
I took sight at him over my faithful rifle, which had never 
failed me, and then set it down, to contemplate the huge 
animal still farther. Finally, I resolved to let fly; taking 
good aim, I pulled trigger, the rifle cracked, and I then made 
rapid retreat towards the camp. After running about two 
hundred yards, and hearing nothing in movement behind me, 
I ventured to look round, and to my great joy, I saw the 
animal had fallen. 

Continuing my course on to the camp, I encountered the 
general, who, perceiving blood on my hands, addressed me, 
" Have you shot anything, Jim ? " 

I replied, " Yes, sir." 

" What have you shot ? " 

*' Two deer and something else," I answered. 

" And what is the something else ? " he inquired. 

" I do not know, sir." 

" What did he look like ? " the general interrogated. " Had 
he horns?" 

'• I saw no horns, sir." 

" What colour was the animal? " 

" You can see him, general," I replied, " by climbing yonder 
tree." 

The general ascended the tree accordingly, and looking 
through his spy-glass, which he always carried, he exclaimed, 
" A buffalo, by heavens ! " and, coming nimbly down the tree, 
he gave orders for us to take a couple of horses, and go and 
dress the buffalo, and bring him into camp. 

I suggested that two horses could not carry the load ; six 
were therefore despatched, and they all came back well packed 
with his remains. 

There was great rejoicing throughout the camp at such 
bountiful provision, and all fears of starvation were removed, 
at least for the present. The two deer were also brought in. 



64 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

besides a fine one killed by the general, and ducks, geese, and 
such like were freely added by the other hunters, who had 
taken a wider circuit. 

It appears strange that, although I had travelled hundreds 
of miles in the buffalo country, this one was the first I had 
ever seen. The conviction weighing upon my mind that it 
was a huge bear I was approaching had so excited me that, 
although within fair gunshot, I actually could not see his 
horns. The general and my companions had many a hearty 
laugh at my expense, he often expressing wonder that my 
keen eye could not, when close to the animal, perceive the 
horns, while he could see them plainly near two miles 
distant. 

A severe storm setting in about this time, had it not been 
for our excellent store of provisions we should most probably 
have perished of starvation. There was no game to be pro- 
cured, and our horses were beginning to die for want of 
nourishment. We remained in this camp until our provisions 
were all expended, and our only resource was the flesh of the 
horses which died of starvation and exposure to the storm. 
It was not such nutritious food as our fat buffalo and venison, 
but in our present circumstances it relished tolerably well. 

Were General Ashley now living, he would recollect the 
hardships and delights we experienced in this expedition. 

When the storm was expended we moved up the river, 
hoping to fall in with game. We, unfortunately, found but 
little on our course. When we had advanced some twenty 
miles we halted. Our position looked threatening. It was 
mid- winter, and everything around us bore a gloomy aspect. 
We were without provisions, and we saw no means of 
obtaining any. At this crisis, six or seven Indians of the 
Pawnee Loup band came into our camp. Knowing them to 
be friendly, we were overjoyed to see them. They informed 
our interpreter that their village was only four miles distant^ 
which at once accounted for the absence of game. They 
invited us to their lodges, where they could supply us with 
everything that we needed ; but on our representing to them 
our scarcity of horses, and the quantity of peltry we had no 
means of packing, they immediately started off to their village 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 55 

(our interpreter accompanying them) in quest of horses, and 
speedily returned with a sufficient number. Packing our 
effects, we accompanied them to their village. Two Axe, of 
whom I have previously made mention, and a Spaniard named 
Antoine Behele, chief of the band, forming part of our escort. 

Arrived at their village, which we found well provided with 
everything we needed, the Indians gave us a hospitable 
reception, and spread a feast which, as they had promised, 
" made all our hearts glad." Our horses, too, were well cared 
for, and soon assumed a more rotund appearance. We pur- 
chased for our future use beans, pumpkins, corn, cured meat, 
besides some beaver-skins, giving them in exchange a variety 
of manufactured goods used in the Indian trade, of which we 
had a great plenty. We replaced our lost horses by purchasing 
others in their stead; and now, everything being ready for 
departure, our general intimated to Two Axe his wish to 
get on. 

Two Axe objected. "My men are about to surround the 
buffalo," he said; "if you go now, you will frighten them. 
You must stay four days more, then you may go." 

His word was law, so we stayed accordingly. 

Within the four days appointed they made "the surround," 
and killed fourteen hundred buffaloes. The tongues were 
counted by General Ashley himself, and thus I can guarantee 
the truth of the assertion. 

To the reader unacquainted with the Indian mode of taking 
these animals, a concise description may not be uninteresting. 

There were probably engaged in this hunt from one to two 
thousand Indians, some mounted and some on foot. They 
encompass a large space where the buffaloes are contained, 
and, closing in around them on all points, form a complete 
circle. Their circle at first inclosed may measure perhaps six 
miles in diameter with an irregular circumference determined 
by the movements of the herd. When " the surround " is 
formed, the hunters radiate from the main body to the right 
and left until the ring is entire. The chief then gives the 
order to charge, which is communicated along the ring with 
the speed of lightning ; every man then rushes to the centre, 
and the work of destruction is begun. The unhappy victims, 



66 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JAMES P. BEGKWOUBTH. 

finding themselves hemmed in on every side, run this v^ay and 
that in their mad efforts to escape. Finding all chance of 
escape impossible, and seeing their slaughtered fellows drop 
dead at their feet, they bellow with affright, and in the con- 
fusion that whelms them lose all power of resistance. The 
slaughter generally lasts two or three hours, and seldom many 
get clear of the weapons of their assailants. 

The field over, the " surround" presents the appearance of 
one vast slaughter-house. He who has been most successful 
in the work of devastation is celebrated as a hero, and receives 
the highest honours from the " fair sex," while he who has 
been so unfortunate as not to kill a buffalo is jeered and 
ridiculed by the whole band. Flaying, dressing, and pre- 
serving the meat next engages their attention, and affords 
them full employment for several weeks. 

The "surround" accomplished, we received permission 
from Two Axe to take up our line of march. Accordingly, 
we started along the river, and had only proceeded five miles 
from the village when we found that the Platte forked. Taking 
the south fork, we journeyed on some six miles, when we en- 
camped. So we continued every day, making slow progress, 
some days not advancing more than four or five miles, until 
we had left the Pawnee villages three hundred miles in our 
rear. "We found plenty of buffalo along our route until we 
approached the Eocky Mountains, when the buffalo, as well 
as all other game, became scarce, and we had to resort to the 
beans and corn supplied us by the Pawnees. 



CHAPTEE V. 

Sufferings on the Platte — Arrive at the Eocky Mountains— Fall out with 
General Ashley — Horses again stolen by the Crow Indians — Sickness 
of our General — Eescue of the General from a wounded Buffalo — 
Eemarkable Eescue of the General from the Green Eiver " Suck." 

NOT finding any game for a number of days, we again felt 
alarmed for om: safety. The snow was deep on the 
ground, and our poor horses could obtain no food but the 
boughs and bark of the cotton- wood trees. Still we pushed 
forward, seeking to advance as far as possible, in order to open 
a trade with the Indians, and occupy ourselves in trapping 
during the finish of the season. We were again put upon 
reduced rations, one pint of beans per day being the allowance 
to a mess of four men, with other articles in proportion. 

Here I had a serious difficulty with our general, which arose 
in the following manner. The general desired me to shoe his 
horse, which I cheerfully proceeded to do. I had finished 
setting three shoes, and had yet one nail to drive in the fourth, 
when, about to drive the last nail, the horse, which had been 
very restless during the whole time, withdrew his foot from 
me. My patience becoming exhausted, I applied the hammer 
several times to his belly, which is the usual punishment in- 
flicted by blacksmiths upon unruly horses. The general, who 
was standing near, flew into a violent rage, and poured 
his curses thick and fast upon me. Feeling hurt at such 
language from the lips of a man whom I had treated like my 
own brother, I retorted, reminding him of the many obliga- 
tions he owed me. I told him that his language to me was 
harsh and unmerited ; that I had thus far served him faith- 
fully ; that I had done for him what no other man would do, 



58 AUTOBIOGBAPEY OF 

periling my life for him on several occasions ; that I had been 
successful in killing game when his men were in a state 
of starvation ; and, warming at the recapitulation, I added, 
" There is one more nail to drive, general, to finishing shoeing 
that horse, which you may drive for yourself, or let it go un- 
driven, for I will see you dead before I will lift another finger 
to serve you." 

But little more was said on either side at that time. 

The next morning the general gave orders to pack up and 
move on. He showed me;a worn-out horse, which he ordered 
me to pack and drive along. I very well knew that the horse 
could not travel far, even without a pack. 

Still, influenced by the harsh language the general had 
addressed to me on the previous day, I said, " General, I will 
pack the horse, but I wish you to understand that, whenever 
he gives out, there I leave him, horse and pack." 

" Obey my orders, and let me have none of your insolence, 
sir," said the general. 

I was satisfied this was imposed upon me for punishment. 
I, however, packed the horse with two pigs of lead and sundry 
small articles, and drove him along in the rear, the others 
having started a considerable time previous. The poor animal 
struggled on for about a mile, and then fell groaning under his 
burden. I unpacked him, assisted him to rise, and, repacking 
him, drove him on again in the trail that the others had left 
in the snow. Proceeding half a mile further, he fell again. I 
went through the same ceremony as before. He advanced a 
few yards, and fell a third time. Feeling mad at the general 
for imposing such a task upon me, my hands tingling with cold 
through handling the snowy pack-ropes, I seized my hammer 
from the pack, and, striking with all my power, it penetrated 
the poor animal's skull. 

" There," said I, " take that ! I only wish you were General 
Ashley." 

" You do, do you ? " said a voice from the bushes on the side 
of the trail. 

I well knew the voice : it was the general himself ; and 
another volley of curses descended uninterruptedly upon my 
head. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 59 

I was not the man to flinch. *' What I said I meant," 
I exclaimed, '' and it makes no odds whether you heard it or 
not." 

"You are an infernal scoundrel, and I'll shoot you ; " and, 
suiting the action to the word, he cocked his piece and 
levelled it. 

I cocked my rifle and presented it also, and then we stood 
at bay, looking each other direct in the eye. 

" General," I at length said, " you have addressed language 
to me which I allow no man to use, and, unless you retract 
that last epithet, you or I must surely die." 

He finally said, " I will acknowledge that it was language 
which never should be used to a man, but when I am angry I 
a,m apt to speak hastily. But," he added, " I will make you 
suffer for this." 

'' Not in your service, general," I replied. " You can take 
your horse now, and do what you please with him. I am 
going to return to St. Louis." 

The general almost smiled at the idea. 

" You will play goiiig back to St. Louis," he said, 

*" when, in truth, you were afraid of being killed by the Indians, 
through being left too far behind with that old horse." 

I left general, horse, and pack, and started on to overtake 
the advanced party, in order to get my sadde-bags before 
leaving them. Approaching the party, I advanced to Fitz- 
patrick (in whose possession they were) and addressed him : 
'' Hold up, Fitzpatrick ; give me my saddle-bags. I am going 
to leave you, and return to St. Louis." 

" What ! " exclaimed he, "have you had more words with 
the general ? " 

" Yes," I replied, " words that will never be forgiven — by 
me, at least, in this life. I am bound to return." 

" Well," said he, " wait till we encamp, a few hundred yards 
:ahead. Your things are in the pack ; when we stop you can 
get them." 

I accompanied them till they encamped ; then, taking my 
goods from the pack, I was getting ready to return, when the 
general came up. 

Seeing me about to carry my threat into execution, he ad- 



60 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

dressed me : " Jim, you have ammunition belonging to me ; 
you can not take that with you." 

Luckily, I had plenty of my own, so I delivered up all in 
my possession belonging to him. 

*' Sir," I said, " as Fortune has favoured me with plenty, I 
deliver up yours ; but, if I had had none of my own, I would 
have retained a portion of yours, or died in the attempt. And 
it seems to me that you must have a very small soul to see a 
man turned adrift without anything to protect him against 
hostile savages, or procure him necessary food in traversing 
this wide wilderness." 

He then said no more to me, but called Fitzpatrick, and re- 
quested him to dissuade me from leaving. Fitzpatrick came, 
and exerted all his eloquence to deter me from going, telling 
me of the great distance before me, the danger I ran, when 
alone, of being killed by Indians — representing the almost 
certain fact that I must perish from starvation. He reminded 
me that it was now March, and the snows were already melt- 
ing ; that Spring, with all its beauties, would soon be ushered 
in, and I should lose the subUme scenery of the Eocky Moun- 
tains. 

But my mind was bent upon going ; all my former love for 
the man was forfeited, and I felt I could never endure his pre- 
sence again. 

Fitzpatrick's mission having failed, the general sent a French 
boy to intercede, toward whom I felt great attachment. He 
was named Baptiste La Jeunesse, and was about seventeen 
years of age. I had many times protected this lad from the 
abuse of his countrymen, and had fought several battles on 
his account, for which reason he naturally fled to me for pro- 
tection, and had grown to regard me in the light of a father. 

When this boy saw that I was in earnest about leaving, 
fearing that all attempts at persuasion would be useless, he 
hung his nether lip, and appeared perfectly disconsolate. 

The general, calUng this lad to him, desired him to come to 
me and persuade me from the notion of leaving. He pledged 
his word to Baptiste that he would say no more to displease 
me ; that he would spare no efforts to accommodate me, and 
offered me free use of his horses, assigning as a reason for this 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 61 

concession that he was unwilhng for word to reach the States 
that he had suffered a man to perish in the wilderness through 
a private difificulty in the camp. 

At this moment Le Pointe presented himself, manifesting 
by his appearance that he had something of importance to 
communicate. 

" General," said he, *' more than half the men are deter- 
mined to leave with Beckwourth ; they are now taking ammu- 
nition from the sacks and hiding it about. What is to be 
done?" 

** I will do the best I can." Then turning to the lad, he 
said, '' I took Jim's ammunition, thinking to deter him from 
going; had he insisted upon going, I should have furnished 
him with plenty. Go now," he added, *' and tell him I want 
him to stay, but if he insists upon going, to take whatever 
he wants." 

Baptiste left the group which surrounded the general, and 
made his way to me, with his head inclined. 

'* Mon frere," said the lad, addressing me as I sat, " the 
general talk much good. He vant you stay. I tell him you 
no stay ; dat you en colere. I tell him if mon frere go, by 
gar, I go too. He say, you go talk to Jim, and get him stay. 
I tell you vat I tink. You stay leetle longer, and if de general 
talk you bad one time more, den ve go, by gar. You take von 
good horse, me take von good horse too ; ve carry our planket, 
ve take some viande, and some poudre — den ve hve. Ve go 
now — ve take nothing — den ve die." 

I knew that the boy gave good advice, and, foregoing my 
former resolve, I concluded to remain. 

My decision was quickly communicated to the whole camp, 
and the hidden parcels of ammunition were restored to their 
proper places. The storm in the camp ceased, and all were 
ready to proceed. 

I have heard scores of emigrants (when stopping with me in 
my "hermitage," in Beckwourth Valley, California) relate 
their hairbreadth escapes from Indians, and various hardships 
endured in their passage across the Plains. They would dwell 
upon their perilous nights when standing guard; their en- 
counters with Indians, or some daring exploit, with a buffalo. 



62 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

These recitals were listened to with incredulous ears ; for there 
is in human nature such a love of the marvellous, that tradi- 
tionary deeds, by dint of repetition, become appropriated to- 
the narrator, and the tales that we related as actual experience 
now mislead the speaker and the audience. 

When I recurred to my own adventures, I would smile at 
the comparison of their sufferings with what myself and other 
men of the mountains had really endured in former times. 
The forts that now afford protection to the traveller were built 
by ourselves at the constant peril of our Uves, amid Indian 
tribes nearly double their present numbers. Without wives- 
and children to comfort us on our lonely way ; without well- 
furnished waggons to resort to when hungry ; no roads before 
us but trails temporarily made ; our clothing consisting of the 
skins of the animals that had fallen before our unerring rifles^, 
and often whole days on insufficient rations, or entirely without 
food ; occasionally our whole party on guard the entire night, 
and our strength deserting us through unceasing watching and 
fatigue ; these are sufferings that made theirs appear trivial, 
and ours surpass in magnitude my power of relation. 

Without doubt, many emigrants were subjected to consider- 
able hardship, during the early part of the emigration, by the 
loss of cattle, and the Indians came in for their full share of 
blame. But it was through extreme carelessness that so many 
were lost ; and those who have charged their losses upon the 
Indians have frequently found their stock, or a portion of it, 
harnessed to waggons either far in advance of them, or lagging 
carelessly in their rear. The morality of the whites I have 
not found to exceed very much that of the Eed man ; for there 
are plenty of the former, belonging to trains on the routes, 
who would not hesitate to take an ox or two, if any chance 
offered for getting hold of them. 

But to return. At the time when I had concluded to pro- 
ceed with the party, we were encamped in the prairie, away 
from any stream (having passed the fork of the Platte), and were 
again in a starving condition. Except an occasional hare or 
rabbit, there was no sign of supplying ourselves with any kind 
of game. 

We travelled on till we arrived at Pilot Butte, where two 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 63 

misfortunes befell us. A great portion of our horses were 
stolen by the Crow Indians, and General Ashley was taken 
sick, caused, beyond doubt, by exposure and insufficient fare. 
Our condition was growing worse and worse ; and, as a 
measure best calculated to procure relief, we all resolved to go 
on a general hunt, and bring home something to supply our 
pressing necessities. All who were able, therefore, started in 
different directions, our customary mode of hunting. I 
travelled, as near as I could judge, about ten miles from the 
camp, and saw no signs of game. I reached a high point of 
land, and, on taking a general survey, I discovered a river 
which I had never seen in this region before. It was of con- 
siderable size, flowing four or five miles distant, and on its 
banks I observed acres of land covered with moving masses of 
buffalo. I hailed this as a perfect Godsend, and was overjoyed 
with the feeling of security infused by my opportune discovery. 
However, fatigued and weak, I accelerated my return to the 
camp, and communicated my success to my companions. 
Their faces brightened up at the intelligence, and all were im- 
patient to be at them. 

The general, on learning my intelligence, desired us to move 
forward to the river with what horses we had left, and each 
man to carry a pack on his back of the goods that remained 
after loading the cattle. He farther desired us to roll up snow 
to provide him with a shelter, and to return the next day to 
see if he survived. 

The men, in their eagerness to get to the river (which is now 
called Green River), loaded themselves so heavily that three or 
four were left with nothing but their rifles to carry. Though 
my feelings toward the general were still unfriendly (knowing 
that he had expressed sentiments concerning me that were 
totally unmerited), I could not reconcile myself to deserting 
him in his present helpless condition. Accordingly, I informed 
him that if he thought he could endure the journey, I would 
make arrangements to enable him to proceed along with the 
company. 

He appeared charmed with the magnanimity of the proposal, 
and declared his willingness to endure anything in reason. His 
consent obtained, I prepared a light litter, and, with the assist- 



64 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

ance of two of the unladen men, placed him upon it, in the easiest 
position possible ; then, attaching two straps to the ends of 
the litter-bars, we threw them over our shoulders, and, taking 
the bars in om* hands, hoisted our burden, and proceeded with 
all the ease imaginable. Our rifles were carried by the third 
man. 

The anxiety of the general to remain with us prevented his 
giving utterance to the least complaint, and we all arrived in 
good season on the banks of Green Eiver. We were rejoiced 
to find that our companions who had preceded us had killed a 
fine buffalo, and we abandoned ourselves that evening to a 
general spirit of rejoicing. Our leader, in a few days, entirely 
recovered, and we were thus, by my forethought in bringing 
him with us, spared the labour of a return journey. 

We all feasted ourselves to our hearts' content upon the 
delicious, coarse-grained flesh of the buffalo, of which there 
was an unlimited supply. There were, besides, plenty of wild 
geese and teal ducks on the river — the latter, however, I very 
seldom ventured to kill. 

One day several of us were out hunting buffalo, the general, 
who, by the way, was a very good shot, being among the num- 
ber. The snow had blown from the level prairie, and the wind 
had drifted it in deep masses over the margins of the small 
hills, through which the buffalo had made trails just wide 
enough to admit one at a time. These snow-trails had become 
quite deep — like all snow-trails in the spring of the year — thus 
affording us a fine opportunity for lurking in one trail, and 
shooting a buffalo in another. The general had wounded a 
bull, which, smarting with pain, made a furious plunge at his 
assailant, burying him in the snow with a thrust from his 
savage-looking head and horns. I, seeing the danger in which 
he was placed, sent a ball into the beast just behind the 
shoulder, instantly dropping him dead. The general was 
rescued from almost certain death, having received only a few 
scratches in the adventure. 

After remaining in camp four or five days, the general 
resolved upon dividing our party into detachments of four or 
five men each, and sending them upon different routes, in order 
the better to accomplish the object of our perilous journey, 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 65 

which was the collecting of all the beaver-skins possible while 
the fur was yet valuable. Accordingly, we constructed several 
boats of buffalo hides for the purpose of descending the river 
and proceeding along any of its tributaries that might lie in 
our way. 

One of our boats being finished and launched, the general 
sprang into it to test its capacity. The boat was made fast by 
a slender string, which snapping with the sudden jerk, the 
boat was drawn into the current and drifted away, general and 
all, in the direction of the opposite shore. 

It will be necessary, before I proceed farther, to give the 
reader a description, in as concise a manner as possible, of 
this Green Eiver " Suck." 

We were encamped, as we had discovered during our 
frequent excursions at the head of a great fall of the Green 
Eiver, where it passes through the Utah Mountains. The 
current, at a small distance from our camp, became exceedingly 
rapid, and drew toward the centre from each shore. This 
place we named the Suck. This fall continued for six or eight 
miles, making a sheer descent, in the entire distance, of upward 
of two hundred and fifty feet. The river was filled with rocks 
and ledges, and frequent sharp curves, having high mountains 
and perpendicular cliffs on either side. Below our camp, the 
river passed through a canyon, or canon, as it is usually written, 
a deep river-pass through a bluff or mountain, which continued 
below the fall to a distance of twenty-five or thirty miles. 
Wherever there was an eddy or a growth of willows, there was 
sure to be found a beaver lodge ; the cunning creatures having 
selected that secluded, and, as they doubtless considered, inac- 
cessible spot, to conceal themselves from the watchful eye of 
the trapper. 

To return to the general. His frail bark, having reached 
the opposite shore, encountered a ledge of rocks, and had 
hardly touched, when, by the action of the rolling current, it 
was capsized, and he thrown struggling into the water. As 
Providence would have it, he reached the bluff on the opposite 
,side, and, holding on to the crevices in the high and perpen- 
dicular cliff, sung out lustily for assistance. Not a moment 
was to be lost. Some one must attempt to save him, for he 

5 



66 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

could not hold his present position, in such cold water, long. 
I saw that no one cared to risk his life amid such imminent 
perils, so, calling to a Frenchman of the name of Dorway, 
whom I knew to be one of the best swimmers, to come to the 
rescue, I threw off my leggings and plunged in, supposing he 
would follow. I swam under water as far as I could, to avail 
myself of the under current (this mode is always practised by 
the Indians in crossing a rapid stream). I struck the bluff a 
few feet above the general. After taking breath for a moment 
or two, I said to him (by the way, he was no swimmer), 
" There is only one way I can possibly save you, and I may 
fail in that ; but you must follow my directions in the most 
minute degree, or we are certainly both lost." 

*' Anything you say, James, I will follow," said he. 

" Then," I continued, " when I float down to you, place 
your hands on my shoulder, and do not take hold of my neck. 
Then, when I give you the word, kick out with all your might, 
and we may possibly get across." 

I then let myself down to the general, who was clinging to 
the rocks like a swallow. He did as I had directed, and I 
started, he kicking in my rear like the stern-wheel of a 
propeller, until I was obliged to bid him desist ; for, with such 
a double propelling power as we produced, I could not keep 
my mouth out of water. We swam to within a few yards of 
the opposite shore, where the main suck caught us, and, my 
strength becoming exhausted, we began slowly to recede from 
the shore toward inevitable death. At this moment Fitzpatrick 
thrust a long pole toward us, to the end of which he attached a 
rope which the party on shore retained possession of. I seized 
the pole with a death-grip, and we were hauled out of our 
perilous situation ; a few moments' delay, and the world had 
seen the last of us. 

After this rescue, the general remarked to Fitzpatrick, 
" That Beckwourth is surely one of the most singular men 
I ever met. I do not know what to think of him ; he never 
speaks to me except when absolutely unavoidable : still, he is 
the first and only man to encounter peril on my behalf. Three 
times he has now saved my life when not another man 
attempted to succour me. He is a problem I cannot possibly 
solve." 



JAMES P. BEGKWOUBTH. 67 

Agreeably to previous arrangement, on the following morning 
our company proposed to disperse in different directions. While 
preparing to leave our comfortable camp to take our chance in 
the mountains, I happening to be out among the stock, the 
general inquired for me, and I was pointed out to him where I 
stood. 

** He is a singular being," he exclaimed ; " he knows we are 
about to separate, yet he does not trouble himself to come and 
bid me good-bye. I must go to him." 

Approaching me, he said, "James, we are now about to 
part; these toilsome enterprises in the mountains are ex- 
tremely hazardous ; although I hope to see you again, perhaps 
we may never meet more. I am under great obligations to 
you. You have several times rescued me from certain death, 
and, by your skill in hunting, you have done great service to 
my camp. When my mind was irritated and harassed, I was 
betrayed into the use of language toward you which I regretted 
immediately after, and still regret. I wish you to forgive me, 
and desire to part in friendship. So long as you continue to 
use the same precaution you have hitherto used, I can securely 
hope you will escape all accident, and look forward to meeting 
you again under more auspicious circumstances ; " and he con- 
cluded by bidding me good-bye. 

I bade him good-bye, and we separated. 

Previous to this, and after his rescue from the " Suck," he 
mentioned to Fitzpatrick that I ought to have the lead of a 
party, and that he believed I was as capable as any one in the 
company for it. Fitzpatrick told him he did not believe I 
would accept the responsibility. The general bade him ask 
me. He came and communicated to me our general's wish, 
and asked me if I would take the leadership of one of our 
detached parties. 

I declined the offer, assigning as my reason that I was too 
young to undertake the responsibilities of the charge ; that this 
was my first trip to the mountains, and I had but little ex- 
perience in trapping, and that there were older men better 
qualified for the duty. 

The leadership of a party of a fur company is a very respon- 
sible post. Placed similarly to a captain of a whaling vessel, 



68 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOVRTH. 

where all depends upon his success, if a captain is fortunate, 
and returns from a profitable voyage, of course, in the eyes of the 
owners, he is a first-rate officer, and stands well for the future. 
But if he has experienced unusual hardships, and returns more 
or less unsuccessful, he is disgraced in his command, and is 
thrust aside for a more fortunate man. It is just similar with 
trappers in the mountains ; whatever is their fortune, good or 
bad, the leader is the person on whom the praise or blame 
falls. 



CHAPTEE VI. 

We separate into six Detachments, and start out — Trapping on Green Eiver 
— Narrow Escape from a Massacre by the Arrap-a-hos — One Man mur- 
dered in Camp— Retreat— Fall in with a Detachment of our Company — 
Great Joy at the Meeting — Return of the Detachments to the Place of 
Rendezvous at the " Suck." 

AFTEE "caching" our peltry and goods by burying them 
in safe places, we received instructions from our general 
to rendezvous at the *'Suck" by the first of July following. 
Bidding each other adieu, for we could hardly expect we should 
meet again, we took up our different lines of march. 

Our party consisted, led by one Clements, of six, among 
whom was the boy Baptiste, he always insisting on remaining 
with his brother (as he called me). Our route was up the 
river — a country that none of us had ever seen before — where 
the foot of the white man had seldom, if ever, left its print. 
We were very successful in finding beaver as we progressed, 
and we obtained plenty of game for the wants of our small 
party. Wherever we hauled up a trap, we usually found a 
beaver, besides a considerable number we killed with the rifle. 

In moving up the river we came to a small stream — one of 
the tributaries of Green Eiver — which we named " Horse 
Creek," in honour of a wild horse we found on its banks. The 
Creek abounded with the objects of our search, and in a very 
few days we succeeded in taking over one hundred beavers, the 
skins of which were worth ten dollars per pound in St. Louis. 
Sixty skins, when dried, formed a pack of one hundred pounds. 
'After having finished our work on Horse Creek, we returned 
to the main river, and proceeded on, meeting with very good 
success, until we encountered another branch, which we sub- 



70 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

sequently named Le Brache Creek, from our comrade who was 
murdered by the Indians. Our success was much greater 
here than at any point since leaving the Suck, and we fol- 
lowed it up until we came to a deep canon, in which we 
encamped. 

The next day, while the men were variously engaged about 
the camp, happening to be in a more elevated position than 
the others, I saw a party of Indians approaching within a few 
yards, evidently unaware of our being in their neighbourhood. 
I immediately shouted, "Indians! Indians! to your guns, 
men ! " and levelled my rifle at the foremost of them. They 
held up their hands, saying, " Bueno ! bueno ! " meaning that 
they were good or friendly ; at which my companions cried 
out to me, " Don't fire ! don't fire ! they are friendly — they 
speak Spanish." But we were sorry afterward we did not all 
shoot. Our horses had taken fright at the confusion and ran 
up the canon. Baptiste and myself went in pursuit of them. 
When we came back with them we found sixteen Indians, 
sitting around our camp smoking, and jabbering their own 
tongue, which none of us understood. They passed the night 
and next day with us in apparent friendship. Thinking this 
conduct assumed, from the fact that they rather "■ overdid th& 
thing," we deemed it prudent to retrace our steps to the open 
prairie, where, if they did intend to commence an attack upon 
us, we should have a fairer chance of defending ourselves^ 
Accordingly, we packed up and left, all the Indians following 
us. 

The next day they continued to linger about the camp. We 
had but slight suspicion of their motives, although, for security, 
we kept constant guard upon them. From this they proceeded 
to certain libarties (which I here strictly caution all emigrants 
and mountaineers against ever permitting), such as handling 
our guns, except the arms of the guard, piling them, and then 
carrying them together. At length one of the Indians 
shouldered all the guns, and, starting off with them, ran fifty 
yards from camp. Mentioning to my mates I did not like the 
manoeuvres of these fellows, I started after the Indian and 
took my gun from him, Baptiste doing the same, and we 
brought them back to camp. Our companions chided us for 



JAMES P. BECKWOVBTH. 7l 

doing so, saying we should anger the Indians by doubting their 
friendship. I said I considered my gun as safe in my own 
hands as in the hands of a strange savage ; if they chose to 
give up theirs, they were at liberty to do so. 

When night came on, we all lay down except poor Le Brache, 
who kept guard, having an Indian with him to replenish the 
fire. Some of the men had fallen asleep, lying near by, when 
we were all suddenly startled by a loud cry from Le Brache 
and the instant report of a gun, the contents of which passed 
between Baptiste and myself, who both occupied one bed, the 
powder burning a hole in our upper blankets. We were all up 
in an instant. An Indian had seized my rifle, but I instantly 
wrenched it from him, though, I acknowledge, I was too 
terrified to shoo-t. When we had in some measure recovered 
from our sudden fright, I hastened to Le Brache, and dis- 
covered that a tomahawk had been sunk in his head, and there 
remained. I pulled it out, and in examining the ghastly 
wound, buried all four fingers of my right hand in his brain. 
We bound up his head, but he was a corpse in a few moments. 

Not an Indian was then to be seen, but we well knew they 
were in the bushes close by, and that, in all probability, we 
should every one share the fate of our murdered comrade. 
What to do now was the universal inquiry. With the butt of 
my rifle I scattered the fire, to prevent the Indians making a 
sure mark of us. We then proceeded to pack up with the 
utmost despatch, intending to move into the open prairie, 
where, if they attacked us again, we could at least defend our- 
selves, notwithstanding our disparity of numbers, we being but 
five to sixteen. 

On searching for Le Brache 's gun, it was nowhere to be 
found, the Indian who had killed him having doubtless carried 
it off. While hastily packing our articles, I very luckily found 
five quivers well stocked with arrows, the bows attached, 
together with two Indian guns. These well supplied our 
missing rifle, for I had practised so much with bow and arrow 
that I was considered a good shot. 

When in readiness to leave, our leader inquired in which" 
direction the river lay ; his agitation had been so great that his 
memory had failed him. I directed the way, and desired every 



72 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

man to put the animals upon their utmost speed until we were 
safely out of the willows, which order was complied with. 
While thus running the gauntlet, the balls and arrows whizzed 
around us as fast as our hidden enemies could send them. 
Not a man was scratched, however, though two of our horses 
were wounded, my horse having received an arrow in the neck, 
and another being wounded near the hip, both slightly. Pur- 
suing our course, we arrived soon in the open ground, where 
we considered ourselves comparatively safe. 

Arriving at a small rise in the prairie, I suggested to our 
leader that this would be a good place to make a stand, for if 
the Indians followed us we had the advantage in position. 

" No," said he, " we will proceed on to New Mexico." 

I was astonished at his answer, well knowing — though but 
slightly skilled in geography — that New Mexico must be many 
hundred miles farther south. However, I was not captain, 
and we proceeded. Keeping the return track, we found our- 
selves, in the afternoon of the following day, about sixty miles 
from the scene of murder. 

The assault had been made, as we afterwards learned, by three 
young Indians, who were ambitious to distinguish them- 
selves in the minds of their tribe by the massacre of an 
American party. 

We were still descending the banks of the Green River, 
which is the main branch of the Colorado, when, about the 
time mentioned above, I discovered horses in the skirt of the 
woods on the opposite side. My companions pronounced 
them buffalo, but I was confident they were horses, because 
I could distinguish white ones among them. Proceeding still 
farther, I discovered men with the horses, my comrades still 
<;onfident I was in error ; speedily, however, they all became 
satisfied of my correctness, and we formed the conclusion that 
we had come across a party of Indians. We saw by their 
manoeuvres that they had discovered us, for they were then 
collecting all their property together. 

We held a short council, which resulted in a determination 
to retreat toward the mountains. I, for one, was tired of 
retreating, and refused to go farther. Baptiste joining me in 
my resolve. We took up a strong position for defence, being 



JAMES P. BECKWOVBTH. 73 

a place of difiBicult approach; and having our guns, and 
ammunition, and abundance of arrows for defence, considering 
•our numbers, we felt ourselves rather a strong garrison. The 
other three left us to our determination to fall together, and 
took to the prairie ; but, changing mind, they returned, and 
rejoined. us in our position, deeming our means of defence 
better in one body than when divided. We all, therefore, 
•determined to sell our lives as dearly as possible should the 
-enemy attack us, feehng sure we could kill five times our 
number before we were overpowered, and that we should, in 
all probability, beat them off. 

By this time the supposed enemy had advanced towards us, 
and one of them hailed us in English as follows : 

"Who are you?" 

" We are trappers." 

"What company do you belong to ? " 

*' General Ashley's." 

*' Hurrah ! hurrah ! hurrah ! " they all shouted, and we, in 
turn, exhausted our breath in replying. 

" Is that you, Jim Beckwourth?" said a voice from the party. 

" Yes. Is that you, Castenga ? " I replied. 

He answered in the affirmative, and there arose another 
hurrah. 

We inquired where their camp was. They informed us that 
it was two miles below, at the ford. Baptiste and myself 
mounted our horses, descended the bank, plunged into the 
river, and were soon exchanging salutations with another of 
the general's old detachments. They also had taken us for 
Indians, and had gathered in their horses while we took up 
>our position for defence. 

The night was spent in general rejoicing, in relating our 
adventures, and recounting our various successes and reverses. 
There is as much heartfelt joy experienced in falling in with a 
_party of fellow- trappers in the mountains as is felt at sea 
when, after a long voyage, a friendly vessel just from port is 
spoken and boarded. In both cases a thousand questions are 
asked ; all have wives, sweethearts, or friends to inquire after, 
and then the general news from the States is taken up and dis- 
cussed. 



74 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTK. 

The party we had fallen in with consisted of sixteen men. 
They had been two years out ; had left Fort Yellow Ston& 
only a short time previously, and were provided with every 
necesary for a long excursion. They had not seen the general, 
and did not know he was in the mountains. They had lost- 
some of their men, who had fallen victims to the Indians, but 
in trapping had been generally successful. Our little party 
also had done extremely well, and we felt great satisfaction in 
displaying to them seven or eight packets of sixty skins each. 
We related to them the murder of Le Brache, and every 
trapper boiled with indignation at the recital. All wanted 
instantly to start in pursuit, and revenge upon the Indians 
the perpetration of their treachery; but there was no pro- 
bability of overtaking them, and they suffered their anger to- 
cool down. 

The second day after our meeting, I proposed that the mosi 
experienced mountaineers of their party should return with 
Baptiste and myself to perform the burial rites of our friend. 
I proposed three men, with ourselves, as sufficient for the 
sixteen Indians, in case we should fall in with them, and they 
would certainly be enough for the errand if we met no one. 
My former comrades were too tired to return. 

We started, and arrived at our unfortunate camp, but the 
body of our late friend was not to be found, though we dis- 
covered some of his long black hair clotted with blood. 

On raising the traps which we had set before our precipi- 
tate departure, we found a beaver in every one except four,, 
which contained each a leg, the beavers having amputated 
them with their teeth. We then returned to our companions, 
and moved on to Willow Creek, where we were handy to the 
caches oi our rendezvous at the "Suck." It was now about 
June 1st, 1822. 

Here we spent our time very pleasantly, occupying ourselves- 
with hunting, fishing, target -shooting, foot-racing, gymnastic, 
and sundry other exercises. The other detachments now came 
in, bringing with them quantities of peltry, all having met 
with very great success. 



CHAPTEK VII. 

Arrival of General Ashley and Party — His Kelation of their Sufferings after 
leaving the Eendezvous — Their Excursion to Salt Lake — Fall in with a. 
Fur Company before unknown to the Mountaineers — His final Fortune 
and return to St. Louis. 

SITTING in camp one beautiful summer morning — for th& 
month of June is always lovely in northern latitudes — an 
Indian lass stepped up to me, and wished me to kill a deer or 
an antelope, and bring her the brains, wherewith to dress a 
deer-skin, offering me, in compensation, a handsome pair of 
moccasins. Thinking to save two dollars by a few minutes ' 
exertion, I took my rifle and alone left camp. After travelling 
two miles, I obtained sight of a fine antelope, which had also 
seen me, and kept himself at a respectable distance. In 
following him up to get a fair shot, I at length found myself 
about ten miles from camp, with small prospect of getting 
either brains or moccasins. 

While among the wild sage, still trying to approach the 
antelope, I observed a horse and rider coming in my direction » 
Feeling satisfied that the rider was an Indian, I at once made 
up my mind to run no farther after the antelope, but to shoo t 
him, and take his brains to the squaw, as she would know no 
difference. I therefore concealed myself in the sage until he 
should come within range of my rifle. Becom'ng impatient,, 
at length, at his tardy approach I raised my head to take a 
look, when, to my utter astonishment, I saw General Ashley 
In the act of mounting his horse at a few paces' distance. He 
had stopped to adjust something belonging to his saddle, and 
to this trifling circumstance he was indebted for his life. On 



76 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

seeing who it was, I become so excited at the narrow escape he 
had made, that my rifle fell from my hand. If I had shot him, 
it being well known in camp that I was not entirely reconciled to 
him, I should, most undoubtedly, have been charged with his 
murder. I told the general of the narrow escape he had just 
made. He was surprised at my mistaking him for an Indian, 
and inquired if I did not know that they never travelled 
singly. 

I then inquired after his health, and the success he had met 
with, and then related to him our own losses and success 
generally. He inquired where the camp was. I told him it 
was close at hand. In conducting the general thither, he 
pronounced my " close at hand" rather distant. 

Arrived at camp, the general related their adventures in 
descending the Green Eiver over the rapids, through the Suck 
and canon, in the following narrative : 

" We had a very dangerous passage down the river, and 
suffered more than I ever wish to see men suffer again. You 
are aware that we took but little provision with us, not ex- 
pecting that the canon extended so far. In passing over the 
rapids, where we lost two boats and three guns, we made use 
of ropes in letting down our boats over the most dangerous 
places. Our provisions soon gave out. We found plenty of 
beaver in the cafion for some miles, and, expecting to find 
them in as great plenty all the way, we saved none of their 
carcases, which constituted our food. As we proceeded, 
however, they became more and more scarce, until there were 
none to be seen, and we were entirely out of provisions. To 
retrace the river was impossible, and to ascend the perpendicu- 
lar cliffs, which hemmed us in on either side, was equally 
impossible. Our only alternative was to go ahead. 

" After passing six days without tasting food, the men were 
weak and disheartened. I listened to all their murmurings 
and heart-rending complaints. They often spoke of home and 
friends, declaring they woiild never see them more. Some 
spoke of wives and children whom they dearly loved, and who 
must shortly become widows and orphans. They had toiled, 
they said, through every difficulty ; had risked their lives 
among wild beasts and hostile Indians in the wilderness, all 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 77 

which they were willing to undergo ; but who could bear up 
against actual starvation ? 

" I encouraged them all in my power, telling them that I 
bore an equal part in their sufferings ; that I, too, was toiling 
for those I loved, and whom I yet hoped to see again ; that 
we should all endeavour to keep up our courage, and not add 
to our misfortunes by giving way to despondency. 

" Another night was passed amid the barren rocks. The 
next morning, the fearful proposition was made by some of 
the party for the company to cast lots, to see which should 
be sacrificed to afford food for the others, without which they 
must inevitably perish. My feelings at such a proposition 
cannot be described. I begged of them to wait one day more, 
and make all the way they could meanwhile. By doing so, I 
said, we must come to a break in the canon, where we could 
escape. They consented, and, moving down the river as fast 
as the current would carry us, to our inexpressible joy, we 
found a break, and a camp of trappers therein. 

" All now rejoiced that they had not carried their fearful 
proposition into effect. We had fallen into good hands, and 
slowly recruited ourselves with the party, which was under 
the charge of one Provo, a man with whom I was well 
acquainted. By his advice, we left the river and proceeded 
in a north-westerly direction. Provo was well provided with 
provisions and horses, and he supplied us with both. We 
remained with his party until we arrived at the Great Salt 
Lake. Here I fell in with a large company of trappers, com- y 
posed of Canadians and Iroquois Indians, under the command 
of Peter Ogden, in the service of the North-west Fur Company. 
With this party I made a very good bargain, as you will see 
when they arrive at our camp, having purchased all their 
peltry on very reasonable terms." 

The general concluded his narrative, and was congratulated 
by all present on his safe arrival. We were all rejoiced to 
hear that, during an absence of six or seven weeks, he had 
not lost a man. 

,Y/e then proceeded to iuicache our goods, which we had 
buried at the " Suck," and prepared to move up the river to 
a point where the Canadians and Indians had engaged to meet 



78 AUTOBIOGBAPEY OF 

him with their peltry. The general appointed me captain of 
a party to meet the Canadians, and escort them to the ren- 
dezvous which he had proposed to them, while he and some 
few others remained to bring up the goods, consisting of flour, 
sugar, coffee, blankets, tobacco, whisky, and all other articles 
necessary for that region. 

There were at this time assembled at our camp about two 
hundred men, besides many women and children — for many 
of the Frenchmen were accompanied with a squaw. I took 
with me eighty men, with their women, children, and effects, 
leaving for the general a strong guard of one hundred and 
twenty men, to escort the goods up the river. 

Two days after we had started, being about a mile from the 
river, we stopped to dress a buffalo. While resting, a party 
of four hundred Indians passed at full speed between us and 
the river, driving a large number of horses. We mounted 
with all haste and started after them, but not in time to 
recapture the whole of the horses, which they had just stolen, 
or, rather, forced from the general in the presence of his men. 

We fired on the Indians, and, after a smart skirmish, in 
which I received an arrow in the left arm, we recaptured 
twenty-seven of the animals, the Indians running off the re- 
mainder, amounting to seventy or eighty head ; a severe loss, 
for w^e needed them to carry our peltry. We found three 
dead Indians on the field, whom we scalped, leaving them for 
the wolves to feed on. I ordered a camp to be formed wherein 
to leave the women and children, with a guard, and then, 
mustering all the horses, we took the return track to the 
camp, fearing that the party had been surprised and perhaps 
all massacred. On the road we met a party which the general 
had despatched to us, he having similar apprehensions in 
regard to us. They informed us that the Indians had broken 
in upon them in broad daylight, unawares, and stampeded 
one hundred head of horses ; that two of their men were 
wounded, of whom Sublet (since well known to the Western 
people) was one. It seems he was with the horses at the 
time the Indians rushed in upon them ; he fired at one, but 
missed him ; then clubbing his piece, he struck the Indian, 
nearly knocking him off his horse. The Indian rallied again 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 79 

and fired at Sublet, wounding him slightly. Both the wounded 
men were doing well. 

Arrived at the camp, we related our exploit to the general. 
He was overjoyed to hear that we had recaptured so many 
horses without the loss of a single man. This was my first 
engagement with Indians in the capacity of officer ; and never 
.did Generals Scott or Taylor feel more exultation at their 
most signal triumph than did I in this trifling affair, where a 
•score or so of horses were captured at the expense of myself 
and two of my men receiving slight wounds. 

We all moved on together, feeling ourselves a match for a 
thousand Indians, should they dare to assail us. On arriving 
at the rendezvous, we found the main body of the Salt Lake 
party already there with the whole of their effects. The 
general would open none of his goods, except tobacco, until 
all had arrived, as he wished to make an equal distribution ; 
for goods were then very scarce in the mountains, and hard 
to obtain. 

When all had come in, he opened his goods, and there was 
a general jubilee among all at the rendezvous. We constituted 
quite a little town, numbering at least eight hundred souls, of 
whom one half were women and children. There were some 
among us who had not seen any groceries, such as coffee, 
sugar, &c., for several months. The whisky went off as freely 
as water, even at the exorbitant price he sold it for. All 
kinds of sports were indulged in with a heartiness that would 
astonish more civilized societies. 

The general transacted a very profitable trade with our 
Salt Lake friends. He purchased all their beaver, of which 
they had collected a large quantity, so that, with his purchases 
and those of our own collection, he had now one hundred and 
ninety-one packs, all in excellent order, and worth $1,000 per 
pack in St. Louis. 

There lay the general's fortune in one immense pile, collected 
at the expense of severe toil, privation, suffering, peril, and, 
in some cases, loss of life. It was supposed the general was 
indebted in the mountains and elsewhere to the amount of 
$75,000. The skins he had purchased of the North-west 
Company and free trappers had cost him comparatively little ; 



80 AUTOBIOGEAPHY OF 

if he should meet with no misfortune on his way to St. Louis^ 
he would receive enough to pay all his debts, and have an 
ample fortune besides. 

In about a week the general was ready to start for home. 
The packs were all arranged; our Salt Lake friends offered 
him the loan of all the horses he wanted, and engaged to 
escort him to the head of Wind Eiver, one of the branches of 
the Yellow Stone. The number selected to return with the 
general was twenty men, including my humble self; thirty 
men were to accompany us as a guard, and to return the 
horses we had borrowed. 

The night previous to our departure, I and my boy Baptiste 
were sleeping among the packs, as were also some of the 
other men, when the sentinel came to me to tell me that he 
had seen something which he believed to be Indians. I arose, 
and satisfied myself that he was correct. I sent a man to 
acquaint the general, at the same time waking the boy and 
two men near me. We noiselessly raised ourselves, took as 
good aim as possible, and, at a signal from me, all four fired. 
We saw two men run. By this time the whole camp was 
aroused ; the general asked me what I had fired at. I told 
him I believed an Indian. 

** Very good," said he ; " whenever you see an Indian aboufc 
the camp at night, you do right to shoot him." 

Our whole force was on guard from that time till the 
morning, when we discovered two dead Indians lying where 
we had directed our aim in the night. We knew they had 
been killed by our guns, for the other two men fired with 
shot-guns loaded with buck-shot. One had been killed with 
a ball through the arm and body ; the other was shot through 
the head. We at first supposed that the two Indians belonged 
to the Black Feet, but we subsequently found they were 
Crows. One of them wore a fine pair of buckskin leggings, 
which I took from him and put on myself. 

We started with an escort of fifty men, following the Wind 
Eiver down to the Yellow Stone, where we built our boats to 
descend the river. On the sixth day after leaving camp, 
while we were packing our effects for an early start, the 
alarm of " Indians ! " was given, and, on looking out, we saw 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 81 

an immense body of them, well mounted, charging directly- 
down upon our camp. Every man seized his rifle, and pre- 
pared for the living tornado. The general gave orders for no 
man to fire until he did. By this time the Indians were 
within half -pistol shot. Greenwood (one of our party) pro- 
nounced them Crows, and called out several times not to 
shoot. We kept our eyes upon our general ; he pulled trigger, 
but his gun missed fire, and our camp was immediately filled 
with their warriors. Most fortunate was it for us that the 
general's gun did miss fire, for they numbered over a thousand 
warriors, and not a man of us would have escaped to see the 
Yellow Stone. 

Greenwood, who knew the Crows, acted as interpreter 
between our general and the Indian chief, whose name was 
Ap-sar-o-ka Bet-set-sa, Sparrow-Haivk Chief. 

After making numerous inquiries about our success in hunt- 
ing, the chief inquired through the interpreter where we were 
from. 

"From Green Eiver," was the reply. 

" You killed two Black Feet there ? " 

" Yes." 

" Where are their scalps ? My people wish to dance." 

*' Don't show them ! " cried Greenwood to us. 

Turning to the Indian : " We did not take their scalps." 

" Ugh ! that is strange." 

During this colloquy I had buried my scalp in the sand, and 
concealed my leggings, knowing they had belonged to a CroW. 
The chief gave orders to his warriors to move on, many of 
them keeping with us on our road to their camp, which was 
but a short distance off. 

Soon after reaching there, an Indian woman issued from a 
lodge and approached the chief. She was covered with blood, 
and, crying in the most piteous tones, addressed the chief: 
*' These are the men that killed my son on Green Eiver, and 
will you not avenge his death? " 

She was almost naked, and, according to their custom when 
«a near relative is slain, had inflicted wounds all over her body 
in token of her deep mourning. 

The chief, turning to the general, then said, 

6 



82 . AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

" The two men that were killed in your camp were not 
Black Feet, but my own warriors ; they were good horse- 
thieves, and brave men. One of them was a son of this 
woman, and she is crying for his loss. Give her something 
to make her cease her cries, for it angers me to see her grief." 

The general cheerfully made her a present of what things 
he had at hand, to the value of about fifty dollars. 

" Now," said the chief to the woman, " go to your lodge and 
cease your crying." She went away seemingly satisfied. 

During the day two other Indians came to the encampment, 
and, displaying each a wound, said, ** See here what you white 
people have done to us ; you shot us ; white people shoot good 
in the dark." 

These were the two whom we had seen run away after our 
night-discharge on the Green Eiver. They had been wounded 
by the other two men's shot-guns, but their wounds were not 
serious. They said that their intention had been to steal our 
horses, but our eyes were too sharp for them. The general 
distributed some farther presents among these two men. 

Happening to look among their numerous horses, we recog- 
nized some that had been stolen from us at the time the 
general was sick, previous to our discovery of the Green Eiver. 

The general said to the chief, " I believe I see some of my 
horses among yours." 

** Yes, we stole them from you." 

" What did you steal my horses for? " 

' ** I was tired with walking. I had been to fight the Black 
Feet, and, coming back, would have called at your camp ; you 
would have given me tobacco, but that would not carry me. 
When we stole them they were very poor ; they are now fat. 
We have plenty of horses ; you can take all that belong to you." 

The chief then gave orders for them to deliver up all the 
horses taken from our camp. They brought in eighty-eight — 
all in excellent condition — and dehvered them up to the 
general, who was overjoyed at their recovery, for he had never 
expected to see his horses again. 

On our issuing from their camp, many of the Indians bore 
us company for two days, until we came to a pass in the- 
mountains called Bad Pass, where we encamped. Several of. 



JAMAIS P. BECKWOUBTH. 83 

the party being out with their guns searching for game, a man 
by the name of Baptiste — not the boy — having a portion of a 
buffalo on his horse, came across a small stream flowing near 
the trail, when he halted to get a drink. While stooping to 
drink, a grizzly bear sprang upon him, and lacerated him in a 
shocking manner. Passing that way, I came across his dis- 
mounted horse, and, following his tracks down to the river, 
discovered the poor fellow with his head completely flayed, and 
several dangerous wounds in various parts of his body. I 
quickly gave the alarm, and procured assistance to carry him 
to the camp. Soon after reaching the camp we heard a great 
rush of horses, and, looking in the direction of the noise, 
perceived a party of our half-breeds charging directly toward 
our camp, and driving before them another bear of enormous 
size. All the camp scattered and took to trees. I was standing 
by the wounded man at the time, and became so terrified that 
I hardly knew whether I was standing on the ground or was in 
a tree. I kept my eye on the bear, not supposing that he 
would enter our camp ; but he held his course directly for me. 
I withdrew to look for a tree, but for some reason did not 
climb. Every man was calling to me, *' To a tree, Jim! to a 
tree I " but by this time the bear was in camp, and the horse- 
men at his heels. On his seeing the- wounded man lying there 
all covered with blood, he made a partial halt. I profited by 
the incident, and put a ball directly into his heart, killing his 
bearship instantly. The general fired at the same moment, 
his ball also taking good effect. 

The next day we went through Bad Pass, carrying our 
wounded companion on a litter, who, notwithstanding his 
dreadful wounds, recovered. On arriving at the *' Big Horn," 
as it is called there, we set about preparing boats, which, after 
five days, were ready for launching. There were fur-trappers 
with us, who, having made a boat for themselves, went on in 
advance, intending to trap along down until we should overtake 
them. They accordingly started. When we went down we 
found their boat and traps, which had been broken, but no 
'remains of the trappers. By the appearance of the ground, it 
was evident that the Indians had surprised and murdered 
them, and afterward removed their bodies. Nothing else of 



84 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

consequence occurred during our run down the Big Horn and 
Yellow Stone to the junction of the latter with the Missouri, 
thus running a distance of eight hundred miles in our boats. 

In effecting a landing at the junction of these two rivers, we 
unfortunately sunk one of our boats, on board of which were 
thirty packs of beaver- skins, and away they went, floating 
down the current as rapidly as though they had been live 
beavers. All was noise and confusion in a minute, the general, 
in a perfect ferment, shouting to us to save packs. All the 
swimmers plunged in after them, and every pack was saved. 
The noise we made attracted a strong body of U. S. troops 
down to the river, who were encamped near the place, and 
officers, privates, and musicians lined the shore. They were 
under the command of General Atkinson, then negotiating a 
treaty with the Indians of that region on behalf of the govern- 
ment. General Atkinson and our general happened to be old 
acquaintances, and when we had made everything snug and 
secure, we all went into camp, and freely indulged in festivities. 
" Hurrah for the Mountains ! " rung through the camp again 
and again. 

The next morning we carried all our effects from the boats 
to the encampment, and our hunters went out in search of 
game. Not a day passed but we brought in great quantities of 
buffalo, venison, mountain-sheep, &c. Of the latter, we caught 
some very young ones alive, one of which I presented to 
Lieutenant (now General) Harney, which circumstance, I have 
no doubt, he still bears in mind. 

After a stay of about a week. General Atkinson furnished us 
a boat of sufficient size to carry all our effects, and, breaking 
up the encampment, afforded us the pleasure of the company 
of all the troops under his command — we, gentlemen moun- 
taineers, travelling as passengers. At our camping-places we 
very willingly supplied the party with game. 

At one of our encampments an amusing accident occurred. 
We were out hunting buffalo, and had succeeded in wounding 
a bull, who, furious with his wound, made, with the speed of 
lightning, directly for the camp, leaving a cloud of dust in his 
track. The troops, perceiving his approach, scattered in all 
directions as though an avalanche was bursting upon them. 



JAMES p. BECKWOVBTE, 86 

On went the buffalo, overturning tents, baggage, and guns — 
leaping every impediment that arrested his course ; then, 
turning, he plunged into the river and gained the opposite 
prairie, leaving more than a hundred soldiers scared half to 
death at his visitation. They certainly discharged their pieces 
at him, but, for all the injury they inflicted, he will probably 
live to a good old age. 

Previous to our arrival at Fort Clarke we met with another 
serious misadventure. The boat containing all our general's 
effects, running on a snag, immediately sunk. Again all our 
packs were afloat, and General Atkinson, witnessing the 
accident, ordered every man overboard to save the peltry, 
himself setting the example. In an instant, mountaineers, 
United States ofi&cers and soldiers plunged in to the rescue. 
Fortunately it was shoal water, not more than waist high, and 
all was speedily saved. 

General Atkinson related a difficulty he had had with the 
Crow nation in the course of a treaty with them at Fort 
Clarke, on his way up the river. The Crows, in a battle with 
the Black Feet, had taken a half-breed woman and child, whom 
they had captured on the Columbia Eiver some time previously. 
General Atkinson ordered them to liberate the captives, which 
they refused to do, saying that they had taken them from their 
enemies, the Black Feet, and that they clearly belonged to 
them. The general persisted in his demand, and the Indians 
refused to comply, even offering to fight about the matter. 
The general declined fighting that day, but desired them to 
come on the morrow and he would be prepared. 

The next day the Indian force presented themselves for the 
onset, they bringing a host of warriors. One of the chiefs 
visited the military camp for a " talk." He had an interview 
with Major O'Fallen, who ordered him to give up the captives 
or prepare to fight. The chief boastingly replied, through 
Kose, the interpreter, that the major's party was not a match 
for the Crows ; that he would whip his whole army. On this, 
the major, who was a passionate man, drew his pistol and 
snapped it at the chief's breast. It missed fire, and he then 
struck the Indian a violent blow on the head with the weapon, 
inflicting a severe gash. The chief made no resistance, but 



86 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

remained sullen. When this occurrence reached the ears of 
the Indian warriors, they became perfectly infuriated, and 
prepared for an instant attack. General Atkinson pacified 
them through Eose, who was one of the best interpreters ever 
known in the whole Indian country. During the hubbub, the 
Indians spiked the general's guns with wooden spikes, and 
stuffed them with grass. 

Their principal chief, "Long Hair," then visited the camp, 
and addressed the general : 

" White Chief, the Crows have never yet shed the blood of 
the white people ; they have always treated them like brothers. 
You have now shed the first blood ; my people are angry, and 
we must fight." 

The general replied, ** Chief, I was told by my friend, the 
great Eed-haired Chief, that the Crows were a good people ; 
that they were our friends. We did not come to fight the 
Crows ; we came as their friends." 

" The Eed-haired Chief ! " exclaimed Long Hair, in astonish- 
ment ; " are you his people ? " 

" Yes," replied the general. 

" The Eed-haired Chief is a great chief, and when he hears 
that you have shed the blood of a Crow, he will be angry, and 
punish you for it. Go home," he added, " and tell the Eed- 
haired Chief that you have shed the blood of a Crow, and, 
though our people were angry, we did not kill his people. Tell 
him that you saw Long Hair, the Crow chief, to whom he gave 
the red plume many winters ago." 

Long Hair and Eose then went out and harangued the 
warriors, who immediately withdrew, and soon the woman and 
child were brought into camp. The general made them a 
present of a great number of guns, and ammunition in abun- 
dance, at which they were highly delighted. 

The reader who has perused ** Lewis and Clarke's Travels " 
will please to understand that the " Eed-haired Chief " spoken 
of above was none other than Mr. Clarke, whom the Crows 
almost worshipped while he was among them, and who yet 
hold his name in the highest veneration. He was considered 
by them to be a great " medicine man," and they supposed. him 
lord over the whole white race. 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 87 

The loss of the boat being supplied, and all to rights again, 
we continued our course down the Missouri, still in company 
with the troops, until we reached Fort Look-out, where we 
encamped for the night. There was a trading-post at this 
fort, belonging to the American Fur Company, in charge of 
Major Pitcher. The major made General Ashley a present of 
S, large grizzly bear for a plaything, and a pretty plaything we 
found him before we were done with him. He was made fast 
with a chain to the cargo-box on deck, and seemed to think 
himself captain ; at any rate, he was more imperious in his 
orders than a commodore on a foreign station. He would 
suffer no one on deck, and seemed literally to apply the poet's 
words to himself, 

'* I am monarch of all I survey, 

My right there is none to dispute." 

We continued our course down the river, encamping on shore 
every night. We had a jovial time of it, telling stories, 
cracking jokes, and frequently making free with Uncle Sam's 
'* be joyful," of which there was great plenty for the supply 
of rations to the troops. The soldiers listened with astonish- 
ment to the wild adventures of the mountaineers, and would, 
in turn, engage our attention with recitals of their own 
experience. 

At length we arrived at Council Bluffs, where we remained 
three days, feeling ourselves almost at home. We of course 
had a good time at the Bluffs, and the three days passed in 
continual festivities. 

Providing ourselves with a good boat, we bade adieu to the 
troops, who stayed behind at the Bluffs, and continued our 
descent of the river. The current of the Missouri is swift, but 
to our impatient minds a locomotive would have seemed too 
tardy in removing us from the scenes of hardship and privation 
we had just gone through to the homes of our friends, our 
sweethearts, our wives and little ones. 

Those who reside in maritime places, and have witnessed 
the hardy tars step ashore in their native land, can form an 
adequate idea of the happy return of the mountaineers from 



88 AUTOBIOGEAPHY OF 

their wanderings on the Plains to St. Louis, which is their 
great sea-port ; or, if a pun is admissible, I may parhaps say 
see-port ; for there we see our old friends, there we see our fun 
and merriment, and there we sometimes " see sights." 

Arrived at St. Charles, twenty miles above St. Louis, the 
general despatched a courier to his friends, Messrs. Warndorf 
and Tracy, to inform them of his great success, and that he 
would be in with his cargo the next day about noon. 

When we came in sight of the city we were saluted by a 
piece of artillery, which continued its discharges until we 
landed at the market-place. There were not less than a 
thousand persons present, who hailed our landing with shouts 
which deafened our ears. Those who had parents, brothers 
and sisters, wives or sweethearts, met them at the landing ; 
and such a rushing, crowding, pulling, hauling, weeping, and 
laughing I had never before witnessed. Every one had learned 
our approach by the courier. 

My father, who had moved to St. Louis, was in the crowd, 
and was overjoyed to see me. He had lost a part of his 
property by being surety for other men, and I could see that 
age had left its traces upon him during the little time that I 
had been absent. 

Our cargo was soon landed and stored, the men receiving 
information that they would be paid off that afternoon at 
the store of Messrs. Warndorf and Tracy. We accordingly 
repaired thither in a body to receive our pay. The full 
amount was counted out in silver to each man, except three, 
namely, La Eoche, Pellow, and myself. To us the general 
gave twenty-five dollars each, telling us he would see us there 
again. I immediately thought of my difficulty with him in 
the mountains, and concluded that the remainder of my pay 
was to be withheld on that account. We took our twenty-five 
dollars each, and went away, asking no farther questions, 
though we took no trouble to conceal our thoughts. Before 
we left the counting-room, the general told us to repair to any 
hotel we chose, and have whatever we liked to call for until 
the next morning, and he would pay the bill. 

Accordingly, we all repaired to Le Barras's hotel, and had a 
glorious time of it. The house was thronged with our friends 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 89 

besides, who all felt themselves included in the general's 
hospitahty. General Ashley called on us the next morning, 
and, perceiving that we had "run all night," told us to keep 
on another day at his expense, adding that, if we wished to 
indulge in a ride, he would pay for carriages. We profited by 
his hint, and did not fail to take into our party a good share 
of lasses and mountaineers. 

The next morning the general again visited us, and, seeing 
we were pretty sober, paid the bill (not a trifling matter), and 
desired us to call on him at the store at ten o'clock. We 
went as appointed, not knowing yet how he would treat us. 
When we were assembled, he paid us our wages in full, made 
us a present of three hundred dollars each, and desired us to 
purchase a first-rate suit of clothes each at his expense. 

" I give you this extra," he said, " for your faithful services 
to me in the mountains ; for your watchfulness over my 
property and interest while there ; for your kindness in caring 
for me while sick and helpless, carrying me when unable to 
walk, and not leaving me to perish in the camp alone." 

I forgot to mention the disembarkation of Grizzly at the 
proper time, but will do so here. After the peltry was all 
landed and stored, the bear still occupied his station. 
Hundreds were yet gazing at him, many of whom had never 
seen one of the kind before. The general said to me, " James, 
how, under the sun, are we to get that animal off the boat? " 
I, having a few glasses of *' artificial courage" to back me, felt 
exceedingly valorous, and thought myself able to throw a 
mill-stone across the Mississippi. Accordingly, I volunteered 
to bring him ashore. I procured a light stick, walked straight 
up to the bear, and, speaking very sharp to him (as he had to 
us all the way down the river), deliberately unfastened his 
chain. He looked me in the eyes for a moment, and, giving a 
low whine, drooped his head. I led him off the boat along a 
staging prepared for the purpose, the crowd instantly falling 
back to a respectful distance. Landing him without accident, 
the general wished me to lead him to the residence of Major 
Biddle, distant a quarter of a mile from the landing. 
Courageous as ever, I led him on, though some of the time 
he would lead his leader, Bruin often looking round at the 



^ AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 

crowd that was following up at a prudent distance behind. I 
arrived safe at the residence, and made Grizzly fast to an 
apple-tree that stood there. I had scarcely got to the length 
of his chain, when he made a furious spring at me ; the chain. 
Very fortunately, was a strong one, and held him fast. 

I then called at the major's house, and, delivering our 
general's compliments to him, informed him he had sent a, pet 
for his acceptance. He inquired what kind of a pet, and, 
taking him to the tree where I had made fast the bear, I 
showed the huge beast to him. The major almost quaked 
with fear. While we stood looking at him, a small pig 
happened to pass near the bear, when Grizzly dealt him such 
a blow with his paw that he left him not a whole bone in his 
body, and piggy fell dead out of the bear's reach. 

The major then invited me in, and, setting out some of his 
best, I drank his health according to the custom of those days, 
and left to rejoin my companions. 



CHAPTEE VIII. 
* 

Unexpected Keturn to the Eocliy Mountains — Camp removed— Final Success 
in finding our party in the Mountains — Joyful meeting — Horses stolen 
by the Pun-nak Indians — A Battle, and six Indians killed— We re- 
capture our Horses. 

1HAD been in St. Louis only "one week, when General 
Ashley came to me, and desired me to return to the 
mountains immediately, to carry despatches to Mr. W. L. 
Sublet, captain of the trappers, and offering me the magnifi- 
■cent sum of one thousand dollars for the trip. I consented to 
:go ; La Eoche and Pellow were to accompany me. A journey 
to the mountains was then called two thousand miles, through 
a country considered dangerous even for an army. I left St. 
Louis this time with extreme reluctance. It is a severe trial 
to leave one's friends ; but the grief of separating from father 
and all other relatives sank into insignificance when contrasted 
with the misery of separating from one in particular — one in 
whom all my affections were reposed, and upon whom all my 
hopes of the future were concentrated. The contemplation of 
the anguish I was about to inflict by the announcement filled 
my heart with sorrow. One week more, and the happy event 
that would make one of two loving hearts would have been 
consummated. 

The general's business was urgent, and admitted of n9 
•delay ; after I had engaged, not a day, scarcely an hour was 
to be lost. The thousand dollars I was to receive looked large 
in my eyes ; and that, added to what I already possessed, 
would the better prepare me for a matrimonial voyage. I 
•comforted myself with the reflection that my services were 



92 AUTOBIOGBAPEY OF 



\ 



confined to the mere delivering of the despatches ; that servi 
performed, I was free to return immediately. 

I bid my aged father farewell — it was the last time I saw 
him. To my other friends I said cheerfully au revoir, expect- 
ing to return to them shortly. 

But my greatest conflict was to come. I had encountered 
perils, privation, and faced death itself ; I had fought savagea 
and the wild beasts of the mountains ; but to approach this, 
tender heart, that had been affianced to my own for years, 
unmanned me. That heart that was then so light, so buoyant 
with hope, so full of confidence in the future, that I must 
plunge in utter darkness by the intelligence that in a few short 
hours I must leave her ! Could I have communicated it to 
her by fighting a score of Indians, how much my pain would 
have been mitigated ! But time was urgent, and the sacred 
obligation to the lady must be performed. 

I called on my sweetheart ; she looked more lovely than 
ever. She remarked my troubled looks. '' James," she said, 
"you look saddened; what is the matter? Are you 
unwell ? " 

" No, Ehza, I am well ; but " 

" But what, James ? What has happened ? Speak ! " 

Knowing that I had no time for delay, I felt it my duty to 
break the news to her at once. 

"My dear girl," I said, "I have loved you long and 
ardently. I have waited to see if the affection which you 
shared with me in childhood would stand the proof of maturer 
years. We are now both matured in years, and are capable 
of judging our own hearts. Through all my sufferings and 
dangers, my devotion to you has grown with my growth and 
strengthened with my strength. We have decided on the day 
for our indissoluble union. But, Eliza, I am yet young ; my 
means of supporting you as I could wish are inadequate. I 
have just received a very tempting offer from General Ashley.'* 

"What to do, James?" 

" He offers me one thousand dollars to carry despatches to 
the mountains, which admits of my immediate return." 

" And are you going? " 

" That is what I have come to inform you, Eliza. Under- 



JAMES P. BEGKWOVBTH. 93 

stand my motive — it is solely to obtain the means to enable us 
to start the fairer in life." 

"I care not for money, James," she said, bursting into a 
flood of tears. 

My heart sought rehef from its overcharged feeling in the 
same v^ay. I left her amid her sobs, promising to make a 
speedy return, and that we would part no more till death 
should separate us. 

The general had furnished us with two good saddle-horses 
•each, and one stout mule to carry our bedding. We mounted, 
a.nd, leaving St. Louis, were soon some miles on our journey. 
We proceeded up the Missouri Eiver, left the last white 
settlement, and issued out into the wilderness. We proceeded 
with the utmost caution ; always halting before dark, we built 
a fire and ate our supper ; then moving on farther to a secure 
camping-place, we lit no fire, to avoid attracting the Indians 
to us. On arriving at the forks of the Platte, we held a 
council, and resolved to follow up the north branch to its 
source, thence cross over to Green Eiver, thus striking it much 
higher up than we had ever been on that stream before. We 
proceeded accordingly — crossed Green Eiver, and held our 
course to the head of Salt Eiver. Here we found a party 
belonging to the general's company. Winter was now begin- 
ning to set in, and it was time for the whole company to go 
into winter quarters. As nearly as I can recollect, this was 
the end of October, 1823. 

A place of rendezvous had been previously agreed upon, 
and as it was certain that the various parties would soon 
assemble, I concluded to proceed to the rendezvous, and wait 
the arrival of Sublet, for the delivery of my despatches, rather 
than undertake a search for him in the mountain wilderness. 
I and my companions, therefore, continued with the party 
until we reached the rendezvous. The parties, one after the 
other, came slowly in, and Sublet's was the last to arrive. It 
was now too late for me to return, and I had no alternative 
but to wait until spring. 

. Our present rendezvous was in Cache Valley, but Sublet 
gave orders for all to remove to Salt Lake, which was but a 
few miles distant, and then go into winter quarters. We 



94 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

accordiDgly moved to the mouth of " Weaver's Fork," an( 
eetabhshed ourselves there. When all were collected togeth( 
for the winter, our community numbered from six to sevei 
hundred souls (from two to three hundred consisting ol 
women and children), all strong and healthy as bears, and all. 
having experienced very good success. 

Shortly after we had become well settled down, we had the-- 
misfortune to lose about eighty horses, stolen one dark, stormy 
night by the Pwi-naks, a tribe inhabiting the head- waters of 
the Columbia Eiver. On missing them the next day, we 
formed a party of about forty men, and followed their trail on 
foot — the ground was covered with snow at the time. I 
volunteered with the rest, although fortunately my horses were 
not among the missing. After a pursuit of five days we 
arrived at one of their villages, where we saw our own horses, 
among a number of others. We then divided our forces^ 
Fitzpatrick taking command of one party, and a James- 
Bridger of the other. 

The plan resolved upon was as follows : Fitzpatrick was to 
charge the Indians, and cover Bridger' s party, while they 
stampeded all the horses they could- get away with. I formed 
one of Captain Bridger' s party, this being the first affair 
of the kind I had ever witnessed. Everything being in 
readiness, we rushed in upon the horses, and stampeded from 
two to three hundred, Fitzpatrick at the same time engaging 
the Indians, who numbered from three to four hundred. The 
Indians recovered a great number of the horses from us, but 
we succeeded in getting off with the number of our own 
missing, and forty head besides. In the engagement, six of 
the enemy were killed and scalped, while not one of our party 
received a scratch. The horses we had captured were very 
fine ones, and our return to the camp was greeted with the 
Liveliest demonstrations. 

We found, on our return from the above marauding expedi- 
tion, an encampment of Snake Indians, to the number of six 
hundred lodges, comprising about two thousand five hundred 
warriors. They had entirely surrounded us with their en- 
campments, adding very materially to our present population. 
They were perfectly friendly and we apprehended no danger 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 95 

from their proximity. It appears that this was their usual 
resort for spending the winter ; and, after pitching their 
lodges, which are composed of skins, they proceeded to build 
a large " medicine lodge." 

The word medicine (or, as they call it, Barchh-Parchh) 
signifies a prophet or dreamer, and is synonymous with the 
word prophet as employed in the Old Testament. The Indian 
form of government is a theocracy, and the medicine man is 
the high-priest. His dreams or prophecies are sacred; if 
his predictions are not verified in the result, the fault is with 
themselves; they had disregarded some of his instructions. 
When by accident his dreams are exactly verified, their con- 
fidence in their prophet exceeds all belief. The " medicine 
lodge " is the tabernacle of the wilderness, the habitation of 
the Great Spirit, the sacred ark of their faith. 

Our long residence with the Snake tribe afforded us an 
excellent opportunity of acquainting ourselves with the 
domestic character of the Indians. They often invited us 
into their medicine lodge to witness their religious ceremonies 
and listen to their prophesyings. The name of the old prophet 
was 0-mo-gua, which in English means woman's dress. One 
evening he delivered a prophecy for us. 

"I can see," said he, ''white people on Big Shell (Platte 
Eiver) ; I see them boring a hole in a red bucket ; I see them 
drawing out medicine water (whiskey) ; I see them fighting 
each other ; but Fate (Sublet) has gone down on the other side 
of the river : he does not see them. He has gone to the white 
lodges. Where are you going ? " 

"We are going," answered Fitzpatrick, "to trap on Bear 
Head and the other small streams in the country of the Black 
Feet." 

" No," said the prophet, " you will go to Sheep Mountain; 
there you will find the snow so deep that you cannot pass. 
You will then go down Port Neif to Snake Eiver. If you are 
fortunate you will discover the Black Feet before they see you, 
and you will beat them. If they discover you first, they will 
rub you all out — kill you all. Bad Hand (Fitzpatrick), I tell 
you there is blood in your path this grass. If you beat the 
Black Feet, you will retrace your steps and go to Bear Eiver, 



I 



96 AUTOBIOGBAPEY OF 

whose water you will follow until you come to Sage Eiver. 
There you will meet two men who will give you news." 

To return to my narrative : Mr. Sublet, having left the camp 
in company with my old companion, Mr. Harris, before we 
returned, had left a letter of instructions for Fitzpatrick, 
desiring him to remove our camp as early in the spring as 
possible back to Cache Valley, and to repair to Weaver's 
Lake, where he would rejoin him. Sublet and Harris had 
parted for St. Louis, which they reached in safety after a 
journey in mid- winter. 

We spent the winter very comfortably, and at the opening 
of spring we all moved — whites and Indians — back to Cache 
Valley. Soon after we arrived we commenced digging caches 
to secure the seventy-five packs of beaver skins in the posses- 
sion of our party. While digging a cache in the bank, the 
earth caved in, killing two of our party, who were Canadians. 
The Indians claimed the privilege of burying them, w^hich 
ceremony they performed by hoisting them up in trees. This 
has ever been the method of disposing of the dead with most, 
if not all, of the Eocky Mountain tribes. The body is securely 
wrapped in blankets and robes fastened with thongs, in which 
are inclosed the war implements, pipes and tobacco of the 
deceased. If he had been a warrior, his war-horse is killed 
and buried, together with his saddle and other implements, at 
the foot of the same tree. 

One more accident occurred, which at first occasioned us 
considerable alarm, before we quitted the Cache Valley on our 
excursion. One of our men was out hunting, and coming 
across an antelope, as he supposed, fired at the animal's head 
and killed it. On going to cut the animal's throat, to his 
surprise he found he had killed one of the Snake Indians, who 
had put on this disguise to decoy the antelopes near him. This 
was an accident that we deeply lamented, as the Snakes were 
very friendly towards us. Before the Indians discovered the 
accident, we held a council, and resolved to make a precipitate 
retreat, as we felt very distrustful of the consequences. While 
we were preparing to start, the chief came among us, and was 
greatly surprised at our sudden departure, especially as we had 
given him no previous notice. We excused ourselves by saying 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 97 

we were going to engage in hunting and trapping. He then 
asked what ailed us, saying we all looked terrified, and wished 
to know what had happened. Fitzpatrick at length told him 
what had taken place, and how it came to pass. 

" Oh,'' said the chief, ** if that is what you are alarmed at, 
take off your packs and stay. The Indian was a fool to use a 
decoy when he knew the antelope came into the sage every 
day, and that the white men shoot all they see." 

He then made a speech to his warriors, telling them what 
had happened, and ordered some of his men to bring in the 
dead Indian. Then turning to us, he said, " You and the 
Snakes are brothers ; we are all friends ; we cannot at all 
times guard against accidents. You lost two of your warriors 
in the bank, the Snakes have just lost one. Give me some red 
cloth to wrap up the body. We will bury the fallen brave." 

We gave the chief a scarlet blanket as he had desired, and 
all was well again. 



CHAPTEE IX. 

The Company removes from Cache Valley on a Hunting and Trapping 
Excursion— Discovery of a band of Black Feet — A Battle ensues with 
them — Description of the Battle — Return to the Rendezvous — Fulfilment 
of the Medicine Chief's prophecy. 

THE peltry and other things not required in our expedition 
being all safely cached, our whole party — numbering two 
hundred and fifty, besides women and children — left Cache 
Valley for the country of the Black Feet, expecting to make 
a profitable hunt. I had engaged to the Fur Company for 
the spring hunt for the sum of five hundred dollars, with the 
privilege of taking for servant the widow of one of the men 
who had been killed in the bank. She was of light complexion^ 
smart, trim and active, and never tired in her efforts to please 
me, she seeming to think that she belonged to me for the 
remainder of her life. I had never had a servant before, and 
I found her of great service to me in keeping my clothes in 
repair, making my bed, and taking care of my weapons. 

We kept on till we came to Sheep-horn Mountain, but, finding 
it impassable for the snow, we changed our course, and pro- 
ceeded down the Port Neif until we arrived at its junction with 
the Snake River, one of the main branches of the Columbia. 
No trappers having preceded us on the Port Neif, we met with 
excellent success all the way to the junction, a course whicl 
occupied us three weeks. An advanced party arriving at the 
junction before the main body came up, immediately upon land-j 
ing discovered Indians coming down the Snake Eiver. The] 
were not perceived by the Indians, who were as yet at a con-i 
siderable distance. Our whole force was soon prepared to meet 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 99 

them. Leaving one hundred men in camp, the remaining one 
hmidred and fifty marched up the river, keeping in the timber ; 
our policy being to retain our foes in the open prairie, while we 
kept the protection of the woods. At last they perceived us ; 
but, seeing that we had the advantage of them, they made signs 
of great friendship. 

Not wishing to be the aggressors, we contented ourselves 
with observing the enemy, and retired toward our camp, with- 
out any hostile demonstration on either side. Seeing signal- 
smokes arising on every side, we knew an attack on our little 
band was meditated by their thousands of mounted warriors. 
We therefore determined on a retreat as the safest course. 
There being many Indians about our camp, it required a strict 
watch to be maintained, every man having his gun constantly 
in hand, and the priming well looked to. We were able to con- 
verse with them, as many of our men could speak their language; 
but they still pretended to entertain towards us feelings of the 
" most distinguished consideration." We encamped that night, 
keeping a strong guard, and saw all around us, as far as the eye 
could extend, numerous signal-fires. 

At daylight one of our men shouted, " Stop the Indians ! 
stop the Indians! My rope is cut!" On looking we found 
that three of our best horses had been stolen, notwithstanding 
our unceasing vigilance. The cry then passed around, " The 
ropes are cut ! Shoot them down ! shoot them down ! " Eifles 
began to crack, and six of the Indians fell, five of whom were 
instantly scalped (for the scalps are taken off with greater ease 
while the bodies are warm) ; and the remaining Indian, having 
crawled into the river after receiving his wound, his scalp was 
lost. One of their chiefs was among the slain. He was shot in 
our camp before he had time to make his retreat with the others, 
who all ran as soon as our camp was alarmed. 

Not a moment was then to be lost. We knew that their 
signal-fires would cover the whole prairie with savages, for we 
were in the very heart of their country. Packing up, in a few 
minutes we were on the retreat, which we pressed all day. 
We encamped the same night, as the Indians did not see fit to 
follow us. 

Soon after this occurrence a party of fur- trapper s^ consisting 



100 . AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

of twelve men under the charge of one Logan, left our company 
to try their fortune but were never heard of afterward. Every 
exertion was subsequently made to obtain some clue to the 
cause of their disappearance, but nothing was ever learned of 
them. Beyond doubt, they fell victims to the treachery of the 
Black Feet. 

Our party continued trapping up the Port Neif, until we 
came to Sheep Mountain, which we passed without difficulty, 
the snow having by this time disappeared. We proceeded on 
to Bear Eiver, and continued trapping upon that stream and 
its tributaries until we reached Sage Eiver, where, very un- 
expectedly, and to our utter surprise, we met *' two white men," 
Black Harris and my old friend Portuleuse. 

This verification of the prediction of the old chief was, to 
say the least, a remarkable coincidence, and one not easily 
accounted for. 

Our two friends informed us that they were from St. Louis, 
and had left General Ashley and Sublet but a short distance 
in the rear. We took up our traps and moved immediately to 
Weaver Lake, and formed a rendezvous to wait the arrival of 
the general and Sublet. 

*^ While resting there a party of sixteen Flat Heads came to 
our camp, and informed us that there were thirty white men, 
with women and children, encamped on a creek twelve or fifteen 
miles distant. They stated that the party had twenty-six 
guns, but that their ammunition was expended. Having some 
splendid horses, in the very best condition, I proposed to go 
and take them some ammunition, in the event of their having 
need for it on their way to our camp. Provo, Jarvey, and 
myself mounted three of our fleetest steeds, and found the 
party in camp. As we had expected, we found they were Camp- 
bell's party, among whom were many of our personal friends. 
They had met with very good fortune in their cruise, and had 
lost none of their men. We encamped with them that night, 
and escorted them to the rendezvous the next day. 

On our way to the rendezvous we heard singing in our rear, 
and, looking in the direction of the noise, we discovered a 
party of five hundred mounted Indians coming directly towards 
us. '* Flat Heads ! Flat Heads ! " was shouted; and believing 



JAMES P. BEGKWOUBTH. 101 

them to be such, I and my two friends wheeled to go and meet 
them. Approaching within a short distance, to our horror and 
surprise we discovered they were Black Feet — a tribe who 
prize white scalps very highly. Wishing to take us all together, 
probably, they ordered us back — an order we obeyed with 
alacrity, and we speedily gave the alarm. Placing the women 
and children in advance, and directing them to make all speed 
to a patch of willows six miles in front, and there to secure 
themselves, we formed to hold the Indians in check. The 
women made good time, considering the jaded state of their 
animals, for they were all accustomed to horseback-riding. 

By this time the Indians had commenced charging upon us, 
not so furiously as was their wont, but they doubtless con- 
sidered their prey sure, and, farther, did not care to come into 
too close proximity to our rifles. Situated as we were, it was 
impossible for them to surround us, for we had a lake on one 
side and a mountain on the other. They knew, however, that 
we must emerge into the open country, where their chance of 
attack would be improved. When they approached too near, 
we used our rifles, and always with effect ; our women the 
meanwhile urging on their animals with all the solicitude of 
mothers, who knew that capture was certain death to their 
offspring. 

The firing continued between both parties during the whole 
time of our retreat to the willows ; in fact, it was a running 
fight through the whole six miles. On the way we lost one 
man, who was quite old. He might have saved himself by 
riding to the front, and I repeatedly urged him to do so, telling 
him that he could not assist us ; but he refused even to spur 
on his horse when the Indians made their charges. I tarried 
with him, urging him on, until I found it would be certain 
death to delay longer. My horse had scarcely made three 
leaps in advance when I heard him cry, " Oh, God, I am 
wounded ! " Wheeling my horse, I called on my companions 
to save him . I returned to him, and found an arrow trembling 
in his back. I jerked it out, and gave his horse several blows 
to quicken his pace ; but the poor old man reeled and fell from 
his steed, and the Indians were upon him in a moment to tear 
off his scalp. This delay nearly cost two more lives, for myself 



102 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

and Jarvey were surroui)ded with the Black Feet, and their 
triumphant yells told us they felt certain of their prey. Our 
only chance of escape was to leap a slough fifteen feet from 
bank to bank, which we vaulted over at full speed. One Indian 
followed us, but he was shot in the back directly upon reaching 
the bank, and back he rolled into the ditch. We passed on 
around the slough in order to join our companions, but in doing 
so we were compelled to charge directly through a solid rank 
of Indians. We passed with the rapidity of pigeons, escaping 
without any damage to ourselves or horses, although a shower 
of arrows and bullets whistled all around us. As we progressed, 
their charges became more frequent and daring ; our ammuni- 
tion now grew very short, and we never used a charge without 
we were sure of its paying for itself. 

At length we gained the willows. If our ammunition had 
been plenty, we would have fought them here as long as they 
might have wished. When all was gone, what were we to do 
with an enemy more than ten times our number, who never 
grants or receives quarter ? 

Eroquey proposed one bold charge for the sake of the women 
and children. *' Let us put our trust in God," he exclaimed, 
*' and if we are to die, let us fall in protecting the defenceless. 
They will honour our memory for the bravery they wit- 
nessed." 

Sixteen of us accordingly mounted our horses, leaving the 
remainder to hold out to the last. Eroquey led the charge. 
In our fierce onset we broke through two ranks of mounted 
Indians, killing and overturning everything in our way. 
Unfortunately, my beautiful horse was killed in its tracks, 
leaving me alone amid a throng of Indians. I was wounded 
with an arrow in the head, the scar of which, with many other 
wounds received since, I shall carry to my grave. My boy, 
Baptiste, seeing my danger, called upon his comrades to assist 
him to save his brother. They charged a second time, and the 
Indians who surrounded me were driven back. At that mo- 
ment Baptiste rode up to me ; I sprang on the saddle behind 
him, and retreated in safety to the willows. The foe still 
pressed us sorely, but their shots produced Uttle effect except 
to cut off the twigs of the bushes which formed our hiding- 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 103 

place ; as for charging in upon us, they showed some disin- 
clination. 

To hold out much longer was impossible. Immediate 
assistance must be had, and it could come from no other 
place than our camp. To risk a message there seemed to 
subject the messenger to inevitable death ; yet the risk must 
he encountered by some one. " Who'll go ? who'll go? " was 
asked on all sides. I was wounded, but not severely ; and, at 
a time so pressing, I hardly knew that I was wounded at all. 
I said, " Give me a swift horse, and I will try to force my way. 
Do not think I am anxious to leave you in your perilous posi- 
tion." 

'' You will run the greatest risk," said they. " But if you 
go, take the best horse." 

Campbell then said that two had better go, for there might 
be a chance of one living to reach the camp. Calhoun 
volunteered to accompany me, if he had his choice of horses, 
to which no one raised any objection. Disrobing ourselves, 
then, to the Indian costume, and tying a handkerchief round 
our heads, we mounted horses as fleet as the wind, and bade 
the little band adieu. " God bless you ! " shouted the men ; 
the women cried, " The Great Spirit preserve you, my friends." 

Again we dashed through the ranks of the foe before they 
had time to comprehend our movement. The balls and arrows 
flew around us like hail, but we escaped uninjured. Some of 
the Indians darted in pursuit of us, but, seeing they could riot 
overtake us, returned to their ranks. Our noble steeds seemed 
to fully understand the importance of the mission they were 
going on. When about five miles from the camp we saw a 
party of our men approaching us at a slow gallop. We halted 
instantly, and, taking our saddle-blankets, signalled to them 
first for haste, and then that there was a fight. Perceiving 
this, one man wheeled and returned to the camp, while the 
others quickened their pace, and were with us in a moment, 
although they were a mile distant when we made the signal. 
There were only sixteen, but on they rushed, eager for the 
,fray, and still more eager to save our friends from a horrible 
massacre. They all turned out from the camp, and soon the 
road was lined with men, all hurrying along at the utmost 



1G4 AUTOBIOGEAPHY OF 

speed of the animals they bestrode. My companion and I 
returned with the first party, and, breaking once more through 
the enemy's line, rode back into the willows, amid the cheers 
of our companions and the loud acclamations of the women 
and children, who now breathed more freely again. The 
Indians were surprised at seeing a re -enforcement, and their 
astonishment was increased when they saw a whole line of 
men coming to our assistance. They instantly gave up the 
battle and commenced a retreat. We followed them about 
two miles, until we came to the body of Bolliere — the old man 
that had been slain ; we then returned, bringing his mangled 
remains with us. 

On our side we lost four men killed and seven wounded. 
Not a woman or child was injured. From the enemy we took 
seventeen scalps, most of them near the willows ; those that 
we killed on the road we could not stop for. We were satis- 
fied they had more than a hundred slain ; but as they always 
carry off their dead, we could not ascertain the exact number. 
We also lost two packs of beavers, a few packs of meat, 
together with some valuable horses. 

After attending to our wounded, we all proceeded to camp, 
where the scalp-dance was performed by all the half-breeds 
and women, many of the mountaineers taking part in the 
dance. The battle lasted five hours, and never in my whole 
life had I run such danger of losing my life and scalp. I now 
began to deem myself Indian-proof, and to think I never 
should be killed by them. 

The reader will wonder how a contest could last that length 
of time when there were but thirty to oppose five hundred 
men, and we not meet with greater loss. It is accounted for 
by the Indian mode of warfare. The Indian is a poor marks- 
man with a gun, more especially on horseback, and, to kill 
with their arrows, they must be near their mark. They often 
shoot their arrows when their horse is in full speed, and, 
unless they are very near their object, they seldom take effect . 
When they hunt the buffalo, their horses are trained to keep 
by the side of their destined victim until the arrow is dis- 
charged ; then springing directly away, he escapes the charge 
of the infuriated animal, which becomes dangerous as soon as 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 105 

wounded. Unlike the Indians, we seldom discharged our guns 
unless sure of our man, for we had no ammunition to waste. 

Our victory was considered, under the circumstances, a 
glorious one, and all who participated in the battle our com- 
panions lauded to the skies. The women, too, hailed us as 
the "bravest of the brave," knowing that we had preserved 
them from a captivity to which death were preferable. 

Two days after the battle we were again rejoined by our 
friends, the Snakes, to the number of four thousand. They all 
took part in our scalp-dance, and such a scene of rejoicing as 
we held has seldom been witnessed in the mountains. They 
deeply lamented that they had not come in season to take part 
in the battle, so that not one of the Black Feet could have 
escaped. Their wishes for battle, however, were soon after 
gratified. 

The absent parties began to arrive, one after the other, at 
the rendezvous. Shortly after, General Ashley and Mr. Sublet 
came in, accompanied with three hundred pack mules, well 
laden with goods and all things necessary for the mountaineers 
and the Indian trade. It may well be supposed that the 
arrival of such a vast amount of luxuries from the East did not 
pass off without a general celebration. Mirth, songs, dancing, 
shouting, trading, running, jumping, singing, racing, target - 
shooting, yarns, frolic, with all sorts of extravagances that 
white men or Indians could invent, were freely indulged in. 
The unpacking of the medicine zoater contributed not a little to 
the heightening of our festivities. 

We had been informed by Harris, previous to the arrival of 
the general, that General Ashley had sold out his interest in 
the mountains to Mr. Sublet, embracing all his properties and 
possessions there. He now intended to return to St. Louis, to 
enjoy the fortune he had amassed by so much toil and suffering, 
and in which he had so largely shared in person. 



CHAPTER X. 

Great Battle with the Black Feet — Departure of General Ashley — His 
Farewell Speech to the Mountaineers — Eemoval of our Eendezvous — 
Peace between the Flat Heads and Black Feet — Trading-post at their 
Village — I become Son-in-law to the Black Foot Chief — Trouble in the 
Family — Wife punished for Disobedience — Troubled Waters finally 
stilled. 

TWO days after the arrival of the general, the tocsin again 
sounded through our whole camp, '" The Black Feet! 
the Black Feet ! " On they came, making the very earth 
tremble with the tramp of their j&ery war-horses. In their 
advance they surprised three men and two women belonging 
to the Snakes, who were out some distance from camp, 
gathering roots. The whole five were instantly overtaken, 
killed, and scalped. 

As soon as the alarm was given, the old prophet came to 
our camp, and, addressing Mr. Sublet, said, 

" Cut Face, three of my warriors and two women have just 
been killed by the Black Feet. You say that your warriors 
can fight — that they are great braves. Now let me see them 
fight, that I may know your words are true." 

Sublet replied, " You shall see them fight, and then you will 
know that they are all braves — that I have no cowards among 
my men, and that we are all ready to die for our Snake 
friends." 

" Now, men," added he, turning to us, "I w^ant every brav€ 
man to go and fight these Black Feet, and whip them, so thai 
the Snakes may see that we can fight, and let us do our best 
before them as a warning to them. Eemember, I want none 



AUTOBIOGBAFHY OF JAMES. P. BECKWOURTH. 107 

to join in this battle who are not brave. Let all cowards 
remain in camp." 

Every man was impatient to take part ; but, seeing that his 
"Camp would be deserted and his goods exposed, he detained 
•quite a number, as well to guard the goods as to keep the 
general company, he not wishing to take part in the 
battle. 

There were over three hundred trappers mounted in a few 
moments, who, with Captain Sublet at their head, charged 
instantly on the enemy. The Snake warriors were also on 
hand, thirsting to take vengeance on the Black Feet for the 
five scalps of their friends. After retreating before us about 
five miles, they formed in a place of great security, in a deep 
hollow on the border of the lake. At our arrival, the battle 
recommenced in good earnest. We and our allies fought them 
for about six hours, they certainly displaying great intrepidity, 
for they would repeatedly issue from their stronghold and make 
a bold sortie against us. When entrenched in their position, 
they had a great advantage over us, as it was difi&cult for a 
man to approach them without being shot, and to charge on 
them as they were situated would have occasioned us great 
loss of life. One Indian issuing from their position was shot 
through the backbone, thus depriving his legs of all power of 
motion. Seeing him fall. Sublet said to me, '* Jim, let us go 
^nd haul him away, and get his scalp before the Indians draw 
him in." 

We went, and, seizing each a leg, started toward our lines 
with him : the wounded Indian grasping the grass with both 
hands, we had to haul with all our strength. An Indian, 
suddenly springing over their breast-work, struck me a heavy 
blow in the back with his gun, causing me to loose hold of my 
leg and run. Both I and my companion were unarmed ; and 
I, not knowing how many blows were to follow, deemed dis- 
cretion on this particular occasion the better part of valour. 
Sublet made a strong demonstration against my assailant with 
his fists, at the same time calling me back and cmrsing me for 
running. I returned, and, together, we dragged the Indian to 
•one of our men, also wounded, for him to despatch. But the 
poor fellow had not strength sufficient to perforate the Indian's 



108 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

skin with his knife, and we were obliged to perform the job 
ourselves. 

After six hours' fighting, during which time a number of the 
enemy were slain, we began to want nourishment. Sublet 
requested our allies " to rub out " all their foes while we went 
and procured refreshment ; but on our leaving, they followed 
us, and we all arrived in camp together. On our return to the 
field of battle we found the Black Feet were gone, having 
departed precipitately, as they had left a number of their 
dead, a thing unusual with the Indians. The fruits of our 
victory were one hundred and seventy-three scalps, with 
numerous quivers of arrows, war-clubs, battle-axes, and 
lances. We also killed a number of their horses, which 
doubtless was the reason of their leaving so many of their 
dead upon the field of battle. The trappers had seven or eight 
men wounded, but none killed. Our allies lost eleven killed in 
battle, besides the five slain before ; but none of those killed in 
battle were scalped. 

Had this battle been fought in the open plain, but few of 
our foes could have escaped ; and even as it was, had we 
continued to fight, not a dozen could have got away. But^ 
considering that we were fighting for our allies, we did not 
exert ourselves. 

As usual on all such occasions, our victory was celebrated in 
camp, and the exercises lasted several days, conformably to 
Indian custom. 

General Ashley, having disposed of all his goods and com- 
pleted his final arrangements, departed for St. Louis, taking 
with him nearly two hundred packs of beaver. Previous to 
his departure, he summoned all the men into his presence, and 
addressed them, as nearly as I can recollect, in the following 
words : 

" Mountaineers and friends ! When I first came to the 
mountains, I came a poor man. You, by your indefatigable 
exertions, toils, and privations, have procured me an indepen- 
dent fortune. With ordinary prudence in the management of 
what I have accumulated, I shall never want for anything. 
For this, my friends, I feel myself under great obligations to 
you. Many of you have served with me personally, and I shall 



JAMES F. BECKWOVRTH. 109 

always be proud to testify to the fidelity with which you 
have stood by me through all danger, and the friendly and 
brotherly feeling which you have ever, one and all, evinced 
towards me. Por these faithful and devoted services I wish 
you to accept my thanks ; the gratitude that I express to you 
springs from my heart, and will ever retain a lively hold on my 
feelings. 

*' My friends ! I am now about to leave you, to take up my 
abode in St. Louis. Whenever any of you return thither, 
your first duty must be to call at my house, to talk over the 
scenes of peril we have encountered, and partake of the best 
cheer my table can afford you. 

" I now wash my hands of the toils of the Eocky Moun- 
tains. Farewell, mountaineers and friends ! May God bless 
you all ! " 

We were all sorry to part with the general. He was a man 
of untiring energy and perseverance, cheerfully enduring every 
toil and privation with his men. When they were short 
of food, he likewise hungered; he bore full share in their 
sufferings, and divided his last morsel with them. There 
was always something encouraging in his manner ; no diffi- 
culty dejected him ; kind and generous in his disposition, he 
was loved equally by all. If, which was seldom, he had any 
disagreement with them, if he discovered himself in fault, he 
would freely acknowledge his error, and ask forgiveness. 

Before he left he had a word of advice for me. " James," 
he commenced, " since I have been here I have heard much of 
your exploits. I like brave men, but I fear you are reckless 
in your bravery. Caution is always commendable, and 
especially is it necessary in encounters with Indians. I wish 
you to be careful of yourself, and pay attention to your health, 
for, with the powerful constitution you possess, you have many 
valuable years before you. It is my hearty desire to have you 
do well, and hve to a good old age; correct your fault of 
encountering risks for the mere ostentatious display of your 
courage. Whenever you return home, come and see me, 
James ; you will be a thousand times welcome ; and, should 
you ever be in need of assistance, call on m© first. Good- 
bye." 



110 AUTOBIOGEAPHY OF 

He left the camp amid deafening cheers from the whole 
crowd. I did not see him again mitil the year 1836. 

At the general's departure, we broke up our camp anc 
marched on to the country of the Flat Heads, on the Snake 
Biver. On our arrival at the new rendezvous, we wer( 
rejoiced to learn that peace existed between the two nations— 
the Flat Heads and Black Feet, and that they were in friendl) 
intercourse together. This was very favourable for our pur- 
pose ; for it is with Indian tribes as with civilized nations, 
when at war, various branches of business are impoverished,, 
and it becomes inconvenient for those engaged in them tc 
make more than trifling purchases, just for the supply of their 
immediate wants. Hostilities are still more destructive to 
Indian commerce than to that of civilized nations, for th( 
reason, that the time and resources of the w^hole community 
are engaged in their prosecution. The " sinews of war " witk 
the Indian mean, literally, himself and his horse. 

We spent the summer months at our leisure, trading with, 
the Indians, hunting, sporting, and preparing for the fall 
harvest of beaver. We made acquaintance with several of th& 
Black Feet, who came to the post to trade. One of the chiefs 
invited Mr. Sublet to establish a branch post in their country, 
telling him they had many people and horses, and plenty of 
beaver, and if his goods were to be obtained they would trade 
considerably ; his being so far off prevented his people coming 
to Mr. Sublet's camp. 

The Indian appearing sincere, and there being a prospect ol 
opening a profitable trade, Sublet proposed to establish a post 
among the Black Feet if any of the men were wilHng to risk 
their scalps in attending it. I offered to go, although I waa 
well aware the tribe knew that I had contributed to the 
destruction of a number of their braves ; but, to the Indian,, 
the greater the brave, the higher their respect for him, even, 
though an enemy. So, taking my boy Baptiste and one man. 
with me, we packed up and started for Beaver Eiver, which is 
a branch of the Missouri, and in the heart of the Black Foot 
country. 

On our arrival, the Indians manifested great appearance of 
friendship, and were highly pleased at having a trading-posfc 



JAMES P. BECKWOVBTH. Ill 

so conveniently at hand. I soon rose to be a great man 
among them, and the chief offered me his daughter for a wife. 
Considering this an alHance that would guarantee my life as 
well as enlarge my trade, I accepted his offer, and without 
any superfluous ceremony, became son-in-law to As-as-to, the 
head chief of the Black Feet. As-as-to, interpreted, means- 
heavy shield. To me the alliance was more offensive than 
defensive, but thrift was my object more than hymeneal 
enjoyments. Trade prospered greatly, I purchased beaver 
and horses at my own price. Many times I bought a fine 
beaver-skin for a butcher-knife or a plug of tobacco. 

After a residence among them of a few days, I had slight 
difficulty in my family affairs. A party of Indians came into 
camp one day, bringing with them three white men's scalps. 
The sight of them made my blood boil with rage ; but there 
was no help for it, so I determined to wait with patience my 
day of revenge. In accordance with their custom, a scalp- 
dance was held, at which there was much additional re- 
joicing. 

My wife came to me with the information that her people 
were rejoicing, and that she wished to join them in the 
dance. 

I replied, "No; these scalps belonged to my people; my 
heart is crying for their death ; 'you must not rejoice when my 
heart cries : you must not dance when I mourn." 

She then went out, as I supposed, satisfied. My two white 
friends, having a great curiosity to witness the performance, 
were looking out upon the scene. I reproved them for 
wishing to witness the savage rejoicings over the fall of white 
men who had probably belonged to our own company. 

One of them answered, " Well, your wife is the best dancer 
of the whole party; she out-dances them all." 

This was a sting which pierced my very heart. Taking my 
battle-axe, and forcing myself into the ring, I watched my 
opportunity, and struck my disobedient wife a heavy blow on 
the head with the side of my battle-axe, which dropped her as 
if a ball had pierced her heart. 

I dragged her through the crowd, and left her ; I then went, 
back to my tent. 



112 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

This act was performed in such a bold manner, under the 
very noses of hundreds of them, that they were thunderstruck, 
and for a moment remained motionless with surprise. When 
I entered the tent, I said to my companions, " There, now, 
you had better prepare to hold on to your own scalps, since 
you take so much interest in a celebration over those of your 
murdered brethren." Their countenances turned ashy pale, 
expecting instant death. 

By this time the whole Indian camp was in a blaze. " Kill 
him ! kill him ; burn him ! burn him ! " was shouted through- 
/ out the camp in their own language, which I plainly under- 

stood. I was collected, for I knew they could kill me but 
once. 

Soon I heard the voice of my father-in-law crying, in a tone 
which sounded above all, "Stop! hold! hold! warriors! 
listen to your chief." 

All was hushed in an instant, and he continued : 
" Warriors ! I am the loser of a daughter, and her brothers 
have lost a sister ; you have lost nothing. She was the wife 
of the trader; I gave her to him. When your wives disobey 
your commands, you kill them ; that is your right. That 
thing disobeyed her husband ; he told her not to dance ; she 
disobeyed him ; she had no ears ; he killed her, and he did 
right. He did as you all would have done, and you shall 
neither kill nor harm him for it. I promised the white chief 
that, if he would send a trader to my people, I would protect 
him and return him unharmed; this I must do, and he shall 
not be hurt here. Warriors ! wait till you meet him in battle, 
or, perhaps, in his own camp, then kill him ; but here his life 
is sacred. What if we kill them all, and take what they 
have ? It will last but a few suns ; we shall then want more. 
Whom do we get sach-o-pach (powder) from ? We get it 
from the whites ; and when we have expended what we have, 
we must do without, or go to them for more. When we havei 
no powder, can we fight our enemies with plenty ? If we kill 
these three men, whom I have given the word of a chief to 
protect, the white chief will send us no more, but his braves 
will revenge the death of their brothers. No, no ; you shall 
not harm them here. They have eaten of our meat and drunk 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 113 

of our water ; they have also smoked with us. When they 
have sold their goods let them return in peace." 

At this time there were a great many Flat Heads at the 
Black Foot camp, as they were at peace with each other. 
After the speech of my father-in-law, a great brave of the Flat 
Heads, called Bad Hand, replied, "Hey! you are yourself 
again; you talk well; you talk like ^s-as-to again. We are 
now at peace ; if you had killed these men, we should have 
made war on you again; we should have raised the battle-axe, 
never to have buried it. These whites are ours, and the Flat 
Heads would have revenged their deaths if they had been 
killed in your camp." 

The chief then made a loud and long harangue, after which 
all became quiet. As-as-to next came to my camp and said, 
" My son, you have done right ; that woman I gave you had 
no sense ; her ears were stopped up ; she would not hearken to 
you, and you had a right to kill her. But I have another 
daughter, who is younger than she wag. She is more beauti- 
ful ; she has good sense and good ears. You may have her in 
the place of the bad one ; she will hearken to all you say to 
her." 

" Well," thought I, " this is getting married again before I 
have even had time to mourn." 

But I replied, " Very well, my father, I will accept of your 
kind offer," well knowing, at the same time, that to refuse 
him would be to offend, as he would suppose that I disdained 
his generosity. 

My second wife was brought to me. I found her, as her 
father had represented, far more intelligent and far prettier 
than her other sister, and I was really proud of the change. 
I now possessed one that many a warrior had performed deeds 
of bloody valour to obtain ; for it is a high honour to get the 
daughter of a great chief to wife, and many a bold warrior has 
sacrificed his life in seeking to attain such a prize. 

During the night, while I and my wife were quietly 
reposing, some person crawled into our couch, sobbing most 
bitterly. Angry at the intrusion, I asked who was there. 

*' Me," answered a voice, which, although well-nigh stifled 
with bitter sobs, I recognized as that of my other wife, whom 

8 



114 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

every one had supposed dead. After lying outside the lodge 
senseless for some hours, she had recovered and groped her 
v^^ay to my bed. 

" Go away," I said, " you have no business here; I have a 
nev7 wife now, one who has sense." 

"I will not go away," she replied ; " my ears are open now. 
I was a fool not to hearken to my husband's words when his 
heart was crying, but now I have good sense, and will always 
hearken to your words." 

It did really seem as if her heart was broken, and she kept 
her position until morning. I thought myself now well sup- 
plied with wives, having hvo more than I cared to have ; but 
I deemed it hardly worth while to complain, as I should soon 
leave the camp, wives and all. 

It is a universal adage, " When you are among the Eomans, 
do as the Romans do." I conformed to the customs of 
a people really pagan, but who regarded themselves both en- 
lightened and powerful. I was risking my life for gold, that 
I might return one day with plenty, to share with her I 
tenderly loved. My body was among the Indians, but my^ 
mind was far away from them and their bloody deeds. Ex- 
perience has revealed to me that^civilized man can accustom i 
himself to any mode of life when pelf is the governing princi-! 
pie — that power which dominates through all the ramifications 
of social life, and gives expression to the universal instinct! 
of self-interest. By living with the savages, and becoming^ 
familiar with their deeds of injustice and cruelty — witnessing 
friends and companions struck down without a moment's 
warning — if a man has feelings, in a short time it becomes 
callous towards the relentless savage, who can mock the dying 
struggles of the white man, and indulge his inhuman joy as he 
sees his warm life-blood saturate the earth, on which, a few 
moments since, his victim stood erect in seeming security. 
Many a companion have I seen fall in the wild prairie or the 
mountain forest, dying with some dear name upon his lips, his 
body left as food for the wild beasts, or his bones to whiten in 
the trackless wilderness. 

It will be said, " He might have stayed at home, and not 
have hazarded his life amid such dangers." So it might be 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 115 

said of the hardy mariner, whose compass guides him through 
all parts of the pathless ocean. The same motive impels them 
both on their perilous career — self-interest, which, while it 
gratifies their individual desires, at the same time enriches 
and advances society, by adding his acquisitions to the mart 
of commerce. 

We left the Black Foot country after a stay of twenty days, 
having purchased thirty-nine packs of beaver and several 
splendid horses at a sum trifling in real value, but what they 
considered as far exceeding the worth of their exchanges. The 
chief lent us an escort of two hundred and fifty mounted 
warriors, in addition to which nearly one hundred Flat Heads 
returned with us to our camp, whom we met the second day 
on our road (they having become alarmed for our safety, and 
being on the way to revenge our deaths, in the event of the 
Black Feet having proved treacherous). On our arrival we 
were greeted with the liveliest expressions of joy. Presents 
were made to our escorts, and Mr. Sublet sent my father-in-law 
a valuable gift for his kindness to me, and as the assurance of his 
most distinguished consideration. I also sent some dress- 
patterns to my wives, in addition to the presents I had pre- 
viously made them. The Black Feet, apparently well satisfied, 
returned to their homes. 



;CHAPTEE XI. 

Bemoval of our Eendezvous — Battle with our Friends, the Black Feet— A 
Eace for dear Life— Great Victory over the Grovan Band of Black Feet. 

AFTER we had rested we departed for Snake Eiver, making 
the Black Foot buttes on our way, in order of pass 
through the buffalo region. I received a severe lecture from 
Mr. Sublet for my rashness while at the trading-post. The 
second day of our march, one of our men, while fishing, 
detected a party of Black Feet in the act of stealing our horses 
in the open day. But for the man, they would have succeeded 
in making off with a great number. The alarm was given, and 
we mounted and gave immediate chase. The Indians were 
forty-four in number, and on foot ; therefore they became an 
easy prey. We ran them into a thicket of dry bush, which we 
surrounded, and then fired in several places. It was quite dry, 
and, there being a good breeze at the time, it burned like chaff. 
This driving the Indians out, as fast as they made their 
appearance we shot them with our rifles. Every one of them 
was killed ; those who escaped our bullets were consumed in 
the fire ; and as they were all more or less roasted, we took no 
scalps. None of our party were hurt, except one, who was 
wounded by one of our men. 

On the third day we found buffalo, and killed great numbers 
of them by a " surround." At this place we lost six horses, 
three of them belonging to myself, two to a Swiss, and one to 
Baptiste. Not relishing the idea of losing them (for they were 
splendid animals), and seeing no signs of Indians, I and the 
Swiss started along the back track in pursuit, with the under- 
standing that we would rejoin our company at the Buttes. We 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOVBTH. 117 

followed them to the last place of rendezvous ; their tracks 
were fresh and plain, but we could gain no sight of our horses. 
We then gave up the chase, and encamped in a thicket. In 
the morning we started to return, and. had not proceeded far, 
when, hearing a noise in our rear, I looked round, and saw 
between two or three hundred Indians within a few hundred 
yards of us. They soon discovered us, and, from their not 
making immediate pursuit, I inferred that they mistook us for 
two of their own party. However, they soon gave chase. 
They being also on foot, I said to my companion, " Now we 
have as good a chance of escaping as they have of overtaking 
us." 

The Swiss (named Alexander) said, " It is of no use for me 
to try to get away : I cannot run ; save yourself and never 
mind me." 

"No," I replied, " I will not leave you ; ri:yn as fast as you 
can until you reach the creek ; there you can secrete yourself, 
for they will pursue me." 

He followed my advice, and saved himself. I crossed the 
stream, and when I again appeared in sight of the Indians I 
was on the summit of a small hill two miles in advance. Giving 
a general yell, they came in pursuit of me. On I ran, not 
daring to indulge the hope that they would give up the chase, 
for some of the Indians are great runners, and would rather 
die than incur the ridicule of their brethren. On, on we tore ; 
I to save my scalp, and my pursuers to win it. At length 
I reached the Buttes, where I had expected to find the camp, 
but, to my inconceivable horror and dismay, my comrades were 
not there. They had found no water on their route, and had 
proceeded to the river, forty-five miles distant. 

My feelings at this disappointment transcended expression. 
A thousand ideas peopled my feverish brain at once. Home, 
friends, and my loved one presented themselves with one 
lightning-flash. The Indians were close at my heels; their 
bullets were whizzing past me ; their yells sounded painfully 
in my ears ; and I could almost feel the knife making a circuit 
round my skull. On I bounded, however, following the road 
which our whole company had made. I was scorching with 
thirst, having tasted neither sup nor bit since we commenced 



118 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

the race. Still on I went with the speed of an antelope. I 
kept safely in advance of the range of their bullets, when sud- 
denly the glorious sight of the camp- smoke caught my eye. 
My companions perceived me at a mile from the camp, as well 
as my pursuers ; and, mounting their horses to meet me, soon 
turned the tables on my pursuers. It was now the Indians' 
turn to be chased. They must have suffered as badly with 
thirst as I did, and our men cut them off from the river. Night 
had begun to close in, under the protection of which the 
Indians escaped; our men returned with only five scalps. 
According to the closest calculation, I ran that day ninety-five 
miles.* 

My heels thus deprived the rascally Indians of their antici- 
pated pleasure of dancing over my scalp. My limbs were so 
much swollen the next morning, that for two or three days 
ensuing it was with great difficulty I got about. My whole 
system was also in great pain. In a few days, however, I was 
as well as ever, and ready to repay the Indians for their trouble. 

The third day after my escape, my companion Aleck found 
his way into camp. He entered the lodge with dejection 
on his features. 

"Oh?" he exclaimed, ** I thank God for my escape, but 
the Indians have killed poor Jim. I saw his bones a few 
miles back. I will give anything I have if a party will go with 
me and bury him. The wolves have almost picked his bones, 
but it must be he. Poor, poor Jim ! gone at last ! " 

" Ha ! " said some one present, '' is Jim killed, then? Poor 
fellow ! Well, Aleck, let us go back and give him a Christian 
burial." 

He had seen a body nearly devoured on the way, most 
likely that of the wounded Indian who had chased me in his 
retreat from our camp. 

I came limping into the crowd at this moment, and ad- 

• Concerning this great race for life, it may appear impossible to some 
for a human being to accomplish such a feat. Those who survive of Sublet's 
company, and who know the distances from point to point of my celebrated 
race, will please to correct me publicly if I am in error in the distance. I 
hive known instances of Inlian runners accomplishing more than oae 
huadrel and ten miles in one day. — Nabra.tor. 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 119 

dressed him before he had perceived me : " Halloo, Aleck, are 
you safe?" 

He looked at me for a moment in astonishment, and then 
embraced me so tight that I thought he would suffocate me. 
He burst into a flood of tears, which for a time prevented his 
articulation. He looked at me again and again, as if in doubt 
of my identity. 

At length he said, " Oh, Jim, you are safe ! And how did 
you escape ? I made sure that you were killed, and that the 
body I saw on the road was yours. Pshaw ! I stopped and 
shed tears on a confounded dead Indian's carcase ! " 

Aleck stated that the enemy had passed within ten feet 
without perceiving him; that his gun was cocked and well 
primed, so that if he had been discovered there would have 
been one red skin less to chase me. He had seen no Indians 
on his way to camp. * 

I was satisfied that some (if not all) of my pursuers knew 
me, for they were Black Feet, or they would not have taken 
such extraordinary pains to run me down. If they had suc- 
ceeded in their endeavour, they would, in subsequent years, 
have saved their tribe many scalps. 

From this encampment we moved on to Lewis's Fork, on 
the Columbia Eiver, where we made a final halt to prepare for 
the fall trapping season. Some small parties, getting tired of 
inaction, would occasionally sally out to the small mountain 
streams, all of which contained plenty of beaver, and would 
frequently come in with several skins. 

I prepared my traps one day, thinking to go out alone, and 
6ee what my luck might be. I mounted my horse, and, on 
approaching a small stream, dismounted to take a careful 
survey, to see if there were any signs of beaver. Carefully 
ascending the bank of the stream, I peered over, and saw, not 
a beaver, but an Indian. He had his robe spread on the grass, 
and was engaged in freeing himself from vermin, with which 
all Indians abound. He had not seen nor heard me ; his face 
was towards me, but inclined, and he was intently pursuing 
his occupation. 

' " Here," thought I, "are a gun, a bow, a quiver full of 
arrows, a good robe, and a scalp." 



120 AUTOBIOGBAPEY OF 

I fired my rifle ; the Indian fell over without uttering a 
sound. I not only took his scalp, but his head. I tied two 
locks of his long hair together, hung his head on the horn of 
my saddle, and, taking the spoils of the enemy, hurried back 
to camp. 

The next morning our camp was invested by two thousand 
five hundred warriors of the Black Foot tribe. We had now 
something on our hands which demanded attention. We were 
encamped in the bend of a river — in the "horse-shoe." Our 
lodges were pitched at the entrance, or narrowest part of the 
shoe, while om- animals were driven back into the bend. The 
lodges, four deep, extended nearly across the land, forming a 
kind of barricade in front ; not a very safe one for the inmates, 
since being covered with buffalo hides, they were penetrable to 
bullet and arrow. 

The Indians made a furious charge. We immediately 
placed the women and children in the rear, sending them 
down the bend, where they were safe unless we were defeated. 
We suffered the Indians for a long time to act on the offensive, 
being content with defending ourselves and the camp. I 
advised Captain Sublet to let them weary themselves with 
charging, by which time we would mount and charge them 
with greater prospect of victory ; whereas, should we tire our- 
selves while they were fresh, we should be overwhelmed by 
their numbers, and, if not defeated, inevitably lose a great 
many men. 

All the mountaineers approved of my advice, and our plans 
were taken accordingly. They drove us from our first position 
twice, so that our lodges were between the contending ranks, 
but they never broke our lines. When they approached us 
very near we resorted to our arrows, which all our half-breeds 
used as skilfully as the Indians. Finally, perceiving they 
began to tire, I went and ordered the women to saddle the 
horses in haste. A horse was soon ready for each man, four 
hundred in number. Taking one hundred and thirty men, I 
passed out through the timber keeping near the river until we 
could all emerge and form a line to charge them, unobserved, 
in the rear. While executing this diversion, the main body 
was to charge them in front. While defiling through the 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 121 

timber we came suddenly upon ten Indians who were resting 
from the fight, and were sitting on the ground unconcernedly 
smoking their pipes. We killed nine of them, the tenth one 
making good his retreat. 

Our manoeuvre succeeded admirably. The Indians were 
unconscious of our approach in their rear until they began to 
fall from their horses. Then charging on their main body 
simultaneously with Captain Sublet's charge in front, their 
whole force was thrown into irretrievable confusion, and they 
fled without farther resistance. We did not pursue them, 
feeling very well satisfied to have got rid of them as we had. 
They left one hundred and sixty-seven dead on the field. Our 
loss was also very severe ; sixteen killed, mostly half-breeds, 
and fifty or sixty wounded. In this action I received a wound 
in my left side, although I did not perceive it until thfe battle 
was over. 

As usual, there was a scalp-dance after the victory, in which 
I really feared that the fair sex would dance themselves to 
death. They had a crying spell afterward for the dead. After 
all, it was a victory rather dearly purchased. 

A few days after our battle, one of our old trappers, named 
Lie Blueux, who had spent twenty years in the mountains, 
came to me, and telling me he knew of a small stream full of 
beaver which ran into Lewis's Fork, about thirty miles from 
camp, wished me to accompany him there. We being free 
trappers at that time, the chance of obtaining a pack or two 
of beaver was rather a powerful incentive. Gain being my 
object, I readily acceded to his proposal. We put out from 
■camp during the night, and travelled up Lewis's Fork, leisurely 
■discussing our prospects and confidently enumerating our 
^inhatched chickens, when suddenly a large party of Indians 
came in sight in our rear. 

The banks of the river we were travelling along were pre- 
cipitous and rocky, and skirted with a thick bush. We entered 
the bush without a moment's hesitation, for the Indians ad- 
vanced on us as soon as they had caught sight of us. Le Blueux 
had a small bell attached to his horse's neck, which he took 
off, and, creeping to a large bush, fastened it with the end of 
his lariat, and returned holding the other end in his hand. 



122 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



This stratagem caused the Indians to expend a great amount 
of powder and shot in their effort to kill the bell; for, of 
course, they supposed the bell indicated the position of our- 
selves. When they approached near enough to be seen, 
through the bushes, we fired one gun at a time, always keep- 
ing the other loaded. When we fired the bell would ring, as. 
if the horse was startled by the close proximity of . the gun, 
but the smoke would not rise in the right place. They con- 
tinued to shoot at random into the bushes without injuring us- 
er our faithful animals, who were close by us, but entirely] 
concealed from the sight of the Indians. My companion filled 
his pipe and commenced smoking with as much sang froid as. 
if he had been in camp. 

" This is the last smoke I expect to have between here and 
camp," said he. 

" What are we to do ? " I inquired, not feeling our position 
very secure in a brush fort manned with a company of two,, 
and beleaguered by scores of Black Foot warriors. 

In an instant, before I had time to think, crack went his- 
rifle, and down came an Indian, who, more bold than the rest, 
had approached too near to our garrison. 

" Now," said Le Blueux, " bind your leggings and moccasins, 
around your head." 

I did so, while he obeyed the same order. 

" Now follow me." 

Wondering what bold project he was about to execute, I 
quietly obeyed him. He went noiselessly to the edge of the 
bluff, looking narrowly up and down the river, and then com- 
menced to slide down the almost perpendicular bank, I closely 
following him. We safely reached the river, into which we^ 
dropped ourselves. We swam close under the bank for more- 
than a mile, until they discovered us. 

**Now," said my comrade, "strike across the stream in 
double quick time." 

We soon reached the opposite bank, and found ourselves a. 
good mile and a half ahead of the Indians. They commenced 
plunging into the river in pursuit, but they were too late. We 
ran across the open ground until we reached a mountain^ 
where we could safely look back and laugh at our pursuers ► 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 128 

We had lost our horses and guns, while they had sacrificed six 
or eight of their warriors, besides missing the two scalps they 
made so certain of getting hold of. 

I had thought myself a pretty good match for the Indians, 
but I at once resigned all claims to merit. Le Blueux, in 
addition to all the acquired wiles of the Eed Man, possessed 
his own superior art and cunning. He could be surrounded with 
no difficulties for which his inexhaustible brain could not 
devise some secure mode of escape. 

We arrived safe at camp before the first guard was relieved. 
The following morning we received a severe reprimand from 
Captain Sublet for exposing ourselves on so hazardous an 
adventure. 

As soon as the wounded were sufficiently recovered to be 
able to travel, we moved down the river to the junction of Salt 
Kiver with Guy's Fork, about a mile from Snake Kiver. The 
next day the captain resolved to pass up to Guy's Fork to a 
convenient camping-ground, where we were to spend the interval 
until it was time to separate into small parties, and commence 
trapping in good earnest for the season. 

One day, while moving leisurely along, two men and myself 
proposed to the captain to proceed ahead of the main party to 
ascertain the best road, to reconnoitre the various streams — in 
short, to make it a trip of discovery. We were to encamp one 
night, and rejoin the main body the next morning. The 
captain consented, but gave us strict caution to take good care 
of ourselves. 

Nothing of importance occurred that day ; but the next 
morning, about sunrise, we were all thunderstruck at being 
roused from our sleep by the discharge of guns close at hand. 
Two of us rose in an instant, and gave the war-hoop as a 
challenge for them to come on. Poor Cotton, the third of our 
party, was killed at the first fire. When they saw us arise, 
rifie in hand, they drew back ; whereas, had they rushed on 
with their battle-axes, they could have killed us in an instant. 
One of our horses was also killed, which, with the body of our 
dead comrade, we used for a breast-work, throwing up, at the 
Same time, all the dirt we could to protect ourselves as far as 
we were able. The Indians, five hundred in number, showered 



124 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



their balls at us, but, being careful to keep at a safe distancej 
they did us no damage for some time. At length my companioi 
received a shot through the heel, while carelessly throwing uj 
his feet in crawling to get a sight at the Indians without ex- 
posing his body. I received some slight scratches, but n( 
injury that occasioned me any real inconvenience. 

Providence at last came to our rehef. Our camp was 
moving along slowly, shooting buffalo occasionally, when some 
of the women, hearing our guns, ran to the captain, exclaiming, 
" There is a fight. Hark ! hear the guns ! " 

He, concluding that there was more distant fighting than ii 
common in killing buffalo, despatched sixty men in all possible 
haste in the direction of the reports. We saw them as the} 
appeared in sight on the brow of a hill not far distant, anc 
sent up a shout of triumph. The Indians 'also caught sight oi 
them, and immediately retreated, leaving seventeen warrioi 
dead in front of our little fort, whom we relieved of thei] 
scalps. 

We returned to camp after burying our companion, whos 
body was literally riddled with bullets. The next day we 
made a very successful surrotmd of buffalo, killing great 
numbers of them. In the evening, several of our friends, the! 
Snakes, came to us and told us their village was only five milesi 
farther up, wishing us to move up near them to open a trade.] 
After curing our meat, we moved on and encamped near the| 
friendly Snakes. We learned that there were one hundred and] 
eighty-five lodges of Pun-naks encamped only two miles dis-j 
tant, a discarded band of the Snakes, very bad Indians, and] 
very great thieves. Captain Sublet informed the Snakes that 
if the Pun-naks should steal any of his horses or anything] 
belonging to his camp, he would rub them all out, and hei 
wished the friendly Snakes to tell them so. 

Two of our men and one of the Snakes having strolled down! 
to the Pun-nak lodges one evening, they were set upon, and] 
the Snake was killed, and the two of our camp came home] 
wounded. The morning volunteers were called to punish the 
Pun-naks for theij: outrage. Two hundred and fifteen im- 
mediately presented themselves at the call, and our captaii 
appointed Bridger leader of the troop. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTU. 125 

We started to inflict vengeance, but when we arrived at the 
site of the village, behold ! there was no village there. They 
had packed up and left immediately after the perpetration of 
the outrage, they fearing, no doubt, that ample vengeance 
would be taken upon them. - 

We followed their trail forty-five miles, and came up with 
them on Green Eiver. Seeing our approach, they all made 
across to a small island in the river. 

" What shall we do now, Jim? " inquired our leader. 

"I will cross to the other side with one half the men," I 
suggested, " and get abreast of the island. Their retreat will 
be thus cut off, and we can exterminate them in their trap." 

"Go," said he ; "I will take them if they attempt to make 
this shore." 

I was soon in position, and the enfilading commenced, and 
was continued until there was not one left of either sex or any 
age. We carried back four hundred and eighty-eight scalps, 
and, as we then supposed, annihilated the Pun-nak band. On 
our return, however, we found six or eight of their squaws, 
who had been left behind in the flight, whom we carried back 
and gave to the Snakes. 

On informing the Snakes of what had taken place, they 
expressed great delight. "Eight!" they said, " Pun-naks 
very bad Indians ; " and they joined in the scalp-dance. 

We afterward learned that the Pun-naks, when they fled 
from our vengeance, had "previously sent their old men, and a 
great portion of their women and children, to the mountains, 
at which we were greatly pleased, as it 'spared the effusion of 
much unnecessary blood. They had a great " medicine 
chief" slain with the others on the island; his medicine was 
not good this time, at least. 

We proceeded thence to a small creek, called Black Foot 
Creek, in the heart of the Black Foot country. 

It was always our custom, before turning out our horses in 
the morning, to send out spies to reconnoitre around, and see 
if any Indians were lurking about to steal them. When pre- 
paring to move one morning from the last-named creek, we 
sent out two men ; but they had not proceeded twenty yards 
from our corral before a dozen shots were fired at them by a 



126 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



party of Black Feet, bringing them from their horses severelj 
wounded. In a moment the whole camp was in motion. Thj 
savages made a bold and desperate attempt to rush upon th^ 
wounded men and get their scalps, but we were on the groun< 
in time to prevent them, and drove them back, killing four 
their number. 

The next day we were overtaken by the Snakes, wh< 
hearing of our skirmish, expressed great regret that they wei 
not present to have followed them and given them battle agah 
We seldom followed the Indians after having ^defeated themj 
unless they had stolen our horses. It was our policy alwa] 
to act on the defensive, even to tribes that were kno^ 
enemies. 

When the Snakes were ready, we all moved on together fo^ 
the head of Green Eiver. The Indians numbered six or sevei 
thousand, including women and children; our number waf 
nearly eight hundred altogether, forming quite a formidable 
little army, or, more properly, a moving city. The number 
horses belonging to the whole camp was immense. 

We had no farther difficulty in reaching Green Eiver, whei 
we remained six days. During this short stay our numberleg 
horses exhausted the grass in our vicinity, and it was imper£ 
tive to change position. 

It was now early in September, and it was time to break u| 
our general encampment, and spread in all directions, as th« 
hunting and trapping season was upon us. Before we formec 
our dispersing parties, a number of the Crows came to oi 
camp, and were rejoiced to see us again. The Snakes an< 
Crows were extremely amicable. 

The Crows were questioning the Snakes about some seal] 
hanging on our lodge poles. They gave them the particulai 
of oui encounter with the Black Feet, how valiantly we ha^ 
fought them, and how we had defeated them. The Cro^ 
were highly gratified to see so many scalps taken from thei 
old and inveterate foes. They wished to see the braves wh< 
had fought so nobly. I was pointed out as the one wh^ 
had taken the greatest number of scalps ; they told them thej 
had seen me fight, and that I was a very great brave. Upoi 
this I became the object of the Crows' admiration ; they wer 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 127 

very anxious to talk to me and to cultivate my acquaintance ; 
but I could speak very little of their language. 

One of our men (named Greenwood), whose wife was a 
•Crow, could speak their language fluently; he and his wife 
were generally resorted to by the Crows to afford full details 
of our recent victory. Greenwood, becoming tired of so much 
questioning, invented a fiction, which greatly amused me for 
its ingenuity. He informed them that White-handled Knife 
{as the Snakes called me) was a Crow. 

They all started in astonishment at this information, and 
asked how that could be. 

Said Greenwood in reply, " You know that so many winters 
ago the Cheyennes defeated the Crows, killing many hundreds 
•of their warriors, and carrying off a great many of their women 
.and children." 

** Yes, we know it," they all exclaimed. 
" Well, he was a little boy at that time, and the whites 
bought him of the Cheyennes, with whom he has stayed ever 
since. He has become a great brave among them, and all 
your enemies fear him." 

On hearing this astonishing revelation, they said that I 
must be given to them. Placing implicit faith in every word 
that they had heard, they hastened to their village to dis- 
-seminate the joyful news that they had found one of their own 
people who had been taken by the Shi-ans when a bar-car-ta 
(child), who had been sold to the whites, and who had now 
become a great white chief, with his lodge-pole full of the 
scalps of the Black Feet, who had fallen beneath his gun and 
battleaxe. This excited a great commotion throughout their 
whole village. All the old women who remembered the defeat, 
when the Crows lost two thousand warriors and a host of 
women and children, with the ensuing captivity, were wonder- 
ing if the great brave was not their own child ; thereupon 
ensued the greatest anxiety to see me and claim me as a son. 

I did not say a word impugning the authenticity of Green- 
wood's romance. I was greatly edified at the inordinate 
gulhbility of the red man, and when they had gone to spread 
their tale of wonderment, we had a hearty laugh at their 
-expense. 



128 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 



Our party now broke up ; detachments were formed and 
leaders chosen. We issued from the camp, and started in all 
directions, receiving instructions to return within a certain 
day. There were a great many fur trappers with us, who 
hunted for their own profit, and disposed of their peltry to the 
mountain traders. The trappers were accompanied by a 
certain number of hired men, selected according to their 
individual preferences, the strength of their party being 
regulated by the danger of the country they were going to. 
If a party was going to the Black Foot country, it needed 
to be numerous and well armed. If going among the Crows 
or Snakes, where no danger was apprehended, there would 
go few or many, just as was agreed upon among themselves. 
But each party was in strict obedience to the will of it& 
captain or leader : his word was supreme law. 

My party started for the Crow country, at which I was 
well content ; for, being a supposed Crow myself, I expected 
to fare well among them. It seemed a relief, also, to be in 
a place where we could rest from our unsleeping vigilance, 
and to feel, when we rose in the morning, there was some 
probability of our living till night. 



CHAPTER XII. 

Departure from the Kendezvous — Trouble in Camp — Leave the Party and 
Traps — Arrival at the Crow Village— Great Stir among the Crows — 
Joyful Meeting with my Crow Parents, Brothers, and Sisters — Three 
Years without seeing a White Man. 

I NOW parted with very many of my friends for the last 
time. Most of the members of that large company now 
sleep in death, their waking ears no longer to be filled with 
the death- telling yell of the savage. The manly hearts that 
shrunk from no danger have ceased to beat ; their bones 
whiten in the gloomy fastnesses of the Rocky Mountains, or 
moulder on the ever-flowering prairies of the Far West. A 
cloven skull is all that remains of my once gallant friends 
to tell the bloody death that they died, and invoke vengeance 
on the merciless hand that struck them down in their ruddy 
youth. 

Here I parted from the boy Baptiste, who had been my 
faithful companion so long. I never saw him again. 

The party that I started with consisted of thirty-one men, 
most of them skilful trappers (Captain Bridger was in our 
party), and commanded by Robert Campbell. We started for 
Powder River, a fork of the Yellow Stone, and, arriving there 
without accident, were soon busied in our occupation. 

A circumstance occurred in our encampment on this stream, 
trivial in itself (for trivial events sometimes determine the 
course of a man's life), but which led to unexpected results. 
I had set my six traps over night, and on going to them the 
following morning I found four beavers, but one of my traps 
Was missing. I sought it in every direction, but without 
success, and on my return to camp mentioned the mystery. 

9 



130 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

Captain Bridger (as skilful a hunter as ever lived in the 
mountains) offered to renew the search with me, expressing 
confidence that the trap could be found. We searched 
diligently along the river and the bank for a considerable 
distance, but the trap was among the missing. The float-pole 
also was gone — a pole ten or twelve feet long and four inches- 
thick. We at length gave it up as lost. 

The next morning the whole party moved farther up the 
river. To shorten our route, Bridger and myself crossed the 
stream at the spot where I had set my missing trap. It was 
a buffalo-crossing, and there was a good trail worn in the 
banks, so that we could easily cross with our horses. After 
passing and travelling on some two miles, I discovered what I 
supposed to be a badger, and we both made a rush for him. 
On closer inspection, however, it proved to be my beaver, with 
trap, chain, and float-pole. It was apparent that some buffalo, 
in crossing the river, had become entangled in the chain, and, 
as we conceived, had carried the trap on his shoulder, with 
the beaver pendent on one side and the pole on the other. We 
inferred that he had in some way got his head under the 
chain, between the trap and the pole, and, in his endeavours 
to extricate himself, had pushed his head through. The hump 
on his back would prevent it passing over his body, and away 
he would speed with his burden, probably urged forward by 
the four sharp teeth of the beaver, which would doubtless 
object to his sudden equestrian (or rather bovine) journey. 
We killed the beaver and took his skin, feeling much satis- 
faction at the solution of the mystery. When we arrived at 
camp we asked our companions to guess how and where we 
had found the trap. They all gave various guesses, but^ 
failing to hit the truth, gave up the attempt. 

" Well, gentlemen," said I, "it was stolen." 

" Stolen ! " exclaimed a dozen voices at once. 

" Yes, it was stolen by a buffalo." 
^ " Oh, come, now," said one of the party, " what is the use 
of coming here and telling such a lie?" 

I saw in a moment that he was angry and m earnest, and I 
replied, " If you deny that a buffalo stole my trap, you tell the 
lie." 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 131 

He rose and struck me a blow with his fist. It was my turn 
now, and the first pass I made brought my antagonist to the 
ground. On rising, he sprang for his gun ; I assumed mine as 
quickly. The bystanders rushed between us, and, seizing our 
weapons, compelled us to discontinue our strife, which would 
have infallibly resulted in the death of one. My opponent 
mounted his horse and left the camp. I never saw him after- 
ward. I could have taken his expression in jest, for we were 
very free in our sallies upon one another ; but in this par- 
ticular instance I saw his intention was to insult me, and I 
allowed my passion to overcome my reflection. My com- 
panions counselled me to leave camp for a few days until 
the ill feeUng should have subsided. 

The same evening Captain Bridger and myself started out 
with our traps, intending to be gone three or four days. We 
followed up a small stream until it forked, when Bridger 
proposed that I should take one fork and he the other, and 
the one who had set his traps first should cross the hill which 
separated the two streams and rejoin the other. Thus we 
parted, expecting to meet again in a few hours. I continued 
my course up the stream in pursuit of beaver villages until I 
found myseK among an innumerable drove of horses, and I 
could plainly see they were not wild ones. 

The horses were guarded by several of their Indian owners, 
or horse-guards, as they term them, who had discovered me 
long before I saw them. I could hear their signals to each 
other, and in a few moments I was surrounded by them, and 
escape was impossible. I resigned myself to my fate : if they 
were enemies, I knew they could kill me but once, and to 
attempt to defend myself would entail inevitable death. I 
took the chances between death and mercy ; I surrendered 
my gun, traps, and what else I had, and was marched to 
camp under a strong escort of horse-guards. I felt very sure 
that my guards were Crows, therefore I did not feel greatly 
alarmed at my situation. On arriving at their village I was 
ushered into the chief's lodge, where there were several old 
men and women whom I conceived to be members of the 
family. My capture was known throughout the village in five 
minutes, and hundreds gathered around the lodge to get a 



^ 



132 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

sight of the prisoner. In the crowd were some who had 
talked to Greenwood a few weeks before. They at once 
exclaimed, " That is the lost Crow, the great brave who has 
killed so many of our enemies. He is our brother." 

This threw the whole village into commotion ; old and young 
were impatient to obtain a sight of the " great brave." Orders 
were immediately given to summon all the old women taken 
by the Shi-ans at the time of their captivity so many winters 
past, who had suffered the loss of a son at that time. The 
lodge was cleared for the examining committee, and the old 
women, breathless with excitement, their eyes wild and pro- 
truding, and their nostrils dilated, arrived in squads, until the 
lodge was filled to overflowing. I believe never was mortal 
gazed at with such intense and sustained interest as I was on 
that occasion. Arms and legs were critically scrutinized. 
My face next passed the ordeal ; then my neck, back, breast, 
and all parts of my body, even down to my feet, which did not 
escape the examination of these anxious matrons, in their 
endeavours to discover some mark or peculiarity whereby to 
recognize their brave son. 

At length one old woman, after having scanned my visage 
with the utmost intentness, came forward and said, ** If this 
is my son, he has a mole over one of his eyes. 

My eyelids were immediately pulled down to the utmost 
stretch of their elasticity, when, sure enough, she discovered 
a mole just over my left eye ! 

" Then, and oh then! " such shouts of Joy as were uttered 
by that honest-hearted woman were seldom before heard, while 
all in the crowd took part in her rejoicing. It was uncultivated 
joy, but not the less heartfelt and intense. It was a joy which 
a mother can only experience when she recovers a son whom 
she had supposed dead in his earliest days. She has mourned 
him silently through weary nights and busy days for the long 
space of twenty years; suddenly he presents himself before 
her in robust manhood, and graced with the highest name an 
Indian can appreciate. It is but nature, either in the savage 
breast or civilized, that hails such a return with overwhelming 
joy, and feels the mother's undying affection awakened beyond 
all control. 



JAMES P. BECKWOVBTH, 133 

All the other claimants resigning their pretensions, I was 
fairly carried along by the excited crowd to the lodge of the 
*' Big Bowl," who was my father. The news of my having 
proved to be the son of Mrs. Big Bowl flew through the village 
with the speed of lightning, and, on my arrival at the paternal 
lodge, I found it filled with all degrees of my newly- discovered 
relatives, who welcomed me nearly to death. They seized me 
in their arms and hugged me, and my face positively burned 
with the enraptured kisses of my numerous fair sisters, with 
a long host of cousins, aunts, and other more remote kindred. 
All these welcoming ladies as firmly believed in my identity with 
the lost one as they believed in the existence of the Great 
Spirit. 

My father knew me to be his son ; told all the Crows that 
the dead was alive again, and the lost one was found. He 
knew it was fact ; Greenwood had said so, and the words of 
Greenwood were true ; his tongue was not crooked — he would 
not lie. He also had told him that his son was a great brave 
among the white men; that his arm was strong; that the 
Black Feet quailed before his rifle and battle-axe ; that his 
lodge was full of their scalps which his knife had taken ; that 
they must rally around me to support and protect me ; and 
that his long-lost son would be a strong breastwork to their 
nation, and he would teach them how to defeat their enemies. 

They all promised that they would do as his words had 
indicated. 

My unmarried sisters were four in number, very pretty, 
intelligent young women. They, as soon as the departure of 
the crowd would admit, took off my old leggings, and 
moccasins, and other garments, and supplied their place with 
new ones, most beautifully ornamented according to their very 
last fashion. My sisters were very ingenious in such work, 
and they well-nigh quarrelled among themselves for the 
privilege of dressing me. When my toilet was finished to 
their satisfaction, I could compare in elegance with the most 
popular warrior of the tribe when in full costume. They also 
prepared me a bed, not so high as Haman's gallows certainly, 
but just as high as the lodge would admit. This was also a 
token of their esteem and sisterly affection. 



134 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

While conversing to the extent of my ability with my father 
in the evening, and affording him full information respecting 
the v^hite people, their great cities, their numbers, their 
powder, their opulence, he suddenly demanded of me if I 
wanted a wife ; thinking, no doubt, that, if he got me married, 
I should lose all discontent, and forego any wish of returning 
to the whites. 

I assented, of course. 

" Very well," said he, *' you shall have a pretty wife and a 
good one." 

Away he strode to the lodge of one of the greatest braves, 
and asked one of his daughters of him to bestow upon his 
son, who the chief must have heard was also a great brave. 
The consent of the parent was readily given. The name of my 
prospective father-in-law was Black-lodge. He had three very 
pretty daughters, whose names were Still-water, Black-fish, 
and Three-roads. 

Even the untutored daughters of the wild woods need a 
little time to prepare for such an important event, but long 
and tedious courtships are unknown among them. 

The ensuing day the three daughters were brought to my 
father's lodge by their father, and I was requested to take mj 
choice. " Still-water " was the eldest, and I liked her name] 
if it was emblematic of her disposition, she was the woman 
should prefer. " Still- water," accordingly, was my choict 
They were all superbly attired in garments which must ha-\ 
cost them months of labour, which garments the young womt 
ever keep in readiness against such an interesting occasion 
the present. 

The acceptance of my wife was the completion of the cere- 
mony, and I was again a married man, as sacredly in their 
eyes as if the Holy Christian Church had fastened the in-e- 
vocable knot upon us. 

Among the Indians, the daughter receives no patrimony on 
her wedding-day, and her mother and father never pass a word 
with the son-in-law after — a custom religiously observed 
among them, though for what reason I never learned. The 
other relatives are under no such restraint. 

My brothers made me a present of twenty as fine horses as 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 135 

any in the nation — all trained war-horses. I was also pre- 
sented with all the arms and instruments requisite for an 
Indian campaign. 

My wife's deportment coincided with her name ; she would 
have reflected honour upon many a civilized household. She 
was affectionate, obedient, gentle, cheerful, and, apparently, 
quite happy. No domestic thunder-storms, no curtain-lectures 
ever disturbed the serenity of our connubial lodge. I speedily 
formed acquaintance with all my immediate neighbours, and 
the Morning Star (which was the name conferred upon me on 
my recognition as the lost son) was soon a companion to all 
the young warriors in the village. No power on earth could 
have shaken their faith in my positive identity with the lost 
son. Nature seemed to prompt the old woman to recognize 
me as her missing child, and all my new relatives placed im- 
plicit faith in the genuineness of her discovery. Greenwood 
had spoken it, " and his tongue was not crooked." What 
could I do under the circumstances ? Even if I should deny 
my Crow origin, they would not believe me. How could I 
dash with an unwelcome and incredible explanation all the 
joy that had been manifested on my return — the cordial 
welcome, the rapturous embraces of those who hailed me as 
a son and a brother, the exuberant joy of the whole nation for 
the return of a long-lost Crow, who, stolen when a child, had 
returned in the strength of maturity, graced with the name of 
a great brave, and the generous strife I had occasioned in 
their endeavours to accord me the warmest welcome ? I 
could not find it in my heart to undeceive these unsuspecting 
people and tear myself away from their untutored caresses. 

Thus I commenced my Indian life with the Crows. I said 
to myself, ** I can trap in their streams unmolested, and derive 
more profit under their protection than if among my own men, 
exposed incessantly to assassination and alarm." I therefore 
resolved to abide with them, to guard my secret, to do my best 
in their company, and in assisting them to subdue their 
enemies. 

There was but one recollection troubled me, and that was 
my lonely one in St. Louis. My thoughts were constantly 
filled with her. I knew my affections was reciprocated, and 



136 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 






that her fond heart beat alone for me ; that my promise 
undoubtingly confided in, and that prayers were daily offered 
for my safety, thus distant in the mountains, exposed to every 
peril. Eepeatedly I would appoint a day for my return, but h 
some unexpected event would occur and thrust my resolution 
aside. Still I hoped, for I had accumulated the means of 
wealth sufficient to render us comfortable through life; d'l 
fortunate return was all I awaited to consummate my ardent ™' 
anticipation of happiness, and render me the most blessed of 
mortals. 

Before proceeding farther with my Indian life, I will conduct] 
the reader back to our camp the evening succeeding to my dis-j 
appearance from Bridger. He was on the hill, crossing over 
to me as agreed upon, when he saw me in the hands of the 
Indians, being conducted to their village, which was also in 
sight. Seeing clearly that he could oppose no resistance toj 
my captors, he made all speed to the camp, and communicated I 
the painful news of my death. He had seen me in the charge 
of a whole host of Shi-ans, who were conducting me to camp, 
th3re to sacrifice me in the most improved manner their 
savage propensities could suggest, and then abandon them- 
selves to a general rejoicing over the fall of a white man. 
With the few men he had in camp it was hopeless to attempt 
a rescue ; for, judging by the size of the village, there must be 
a community of several thousand Indians. All were plunged 
in gloom. All pronounced my funeral eulogy ; all my daring 
encounters were spoken of to my praise. My fortunate 
escapes, my repeated victories were applauded in memory of 
me ; the loss of their best hunter, of their kind and ever- 
obliging friend, was deeply deplored by all. 

" Alas ! had it not been for that lamentable quarrel," they 
exclaimed, " he would still have been among us. Poor Jim I 
peace to his ashes ! " 

Bridger lamented that he had advised me to leave the camp, 
and again that he had separated from me at the Forks. " If 
we had kept together," he murmured, "his fate might hive 
been prevented, for doubtless one of us would have seen the 
Indians in time to have escaped." 

Thus, as I was afterward informed by some of the party, 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 137 

was my memory celebrated in that forlorn camp. Farther, 
having conceived a deep disgust at that vicinity, they moved 
their camp to the head waters of the Yellow Stone, leaving 
scores of beaver unmolested in the streams. 

The faithful fellows little thought that, while they were 
lamenting my untimely fall, I was being hugged and kissed to 
death by a whole lodge full of near and dear Crow relatives, 
and that I was being welcomed with a public reception fully 
equal in intensity, though not in extravagance, to that accorded 
to the victor of Waterloo on his triumphal entry into Paris. 

Bridger had never supposed that the Indians whom he saw 
leading me away were Crows, he being ignorant that he was 
so near their territory. His impression was that these were 
Cheyennes, hence I was given up for dead and reported so to 
others. My death was communicated to the rendezvous when 
the fall hunt was over, and there was a general time of mourn- 
ing in mountain style. 

I say " mountain style " in contradistinction to the manner 
of civilized circles, because, with them, when the death of a 
comrade is deplored, his good deeds alone are celebrated ; his 
evil ones are interred with his bones. Modern politics have 
introduced the custom of perpetuating all that is derogatory 
to a man's fair fame, and burying in deep oblivion all that was 
honourable and praiseworthy. Hence I say. Give me the 
mountaineer, despite all the opprobrium that is cast upon his 
name, for in him you have a man of chivalrous feeling, ready 
to divide his last morsel with his distressed fellow — ay, 
and to yield the last drop of his blood to defend the life of his 
friend. 



CHAPTEE XIII. 

War between the Crow Nation and other Indian Tribes — My first Victory as 
a Crow Indian — A Melancholy and Sentimental Indian — Indian 
Masonry — Return to Camp— Great Rejoicing among my innumerable 
Relatives— The Little Wife. 

AFTER feting for about ten days among my new neigh- 
bours, I joined a small war-party of about forty men, 
embodied for the ostensible purpose of capturing horses, but 
actually to kill their enemies. After advancing for three days, 
we fell in with a party of eleven of the Blood Indians, a band 
of the Black Foot tribe, immemorial enemies of the Crows 
Our chief ordered a charge upon them. I advanced directly 
upon their line, and had struck down my man before the 
others came up. The others, after making a furious advance, 
that threatened annihilation to our few foes, curveted aside in 
Indian fashion, thus losing the effect of a first onset. I cor 
rected this un warlike custom. On this occasion, seeing me 
engaged hand to hand with the enemy's whole force, they im- 
mediately came to my assistance, and the opposing party were 
quickly despatched. I despoiled my victim of his gun, lance, 
war-club, bow, and quiver of arrows. Now I was the greatest 
man in the party, for I had killed the first warrior. We then 
painted our faces black (their mode of announcing victory), 
and rode back to the village, bearing eleven scalps. We 
entered the village singing and shouting, the crowds blocking 
up our way so that it was with difficulty we could get along. 
My wife met me at some distance from our lodge, and to her 
I gave my greatest trophy, the gun. My pretty sisters next 
presenting themselves for some share of my spoils, I gave 



I 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOOBTH. 139 

them what remained, and they returned to their lodge singing 
and dancing all the way. Their delight was unbounded in 
their new-found relative, who had drawn the first blood. My 
-companions told how I had charged direct upon the enemy, 
how I struck down the first Indian at a blow, what strength 
there was in my arm, and a great deal more in my commenda- 
tion. Again I was lionized and feted. Eelatives I had not 
seen before now advanced and made my acquaintance. I was 
feasted by all the saclaems and great braves of the village until 
their kindness nearly fatigued me to death, and I was glad to 
retire to my lodge to seek a season of quietude. 

It was a custom rigidly observed by the Crows, when a son 
had drawn the first blood of the enemy, for the father to dis- 
tribute all his property among the village, always largely recol- 
lecting his own kin in the proposed distribution. I saw that my 
achievement had ruined my poor old father. He seemed con- 
tented, however, to sacrifice his worldly goods to the prowess 
of his illustrious son. It was the Crows' religion, and he was 
thoroughly orthodox. Another traditional memento was to 
paint a chief's coat with an image of the sun, and hang that, 
together with a scarlet blanket, in the top of a tree, as an 
offering to the Great Spirit, to propitiate him to continue his 
favourable regards. 

Several small bands of the village had a grand dance after 
the victory, each band by itself. I watched them for some 
time, to see which band or clique contained the most active 
men. Having singled one, I broke into the ring, and joined 
the performance with great heartiness. Then their shouts 
Arose, '' The great brave, the Antelope, has joined our band ! " 
and their dancing increased in vehemence, and their singing 
became more hilarious. By the act of joining their clique I 
became incorporated with their number. 

For the next three weeks I stayed at home, spending much of 
my time in trapping round the village. I was accompanied in 
these excursions by a fine and intelligent Indian, who was 
without a relative. He was very successful in trapping. One 
day we went to our traps as usual; he found eight fine 
leavers, but I had caught none. After flaying them, he 
offered me four of the skins. I look at him in surprise, teUing 



140 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

him that they were caught in his traps — that they were his, 
" Take them," said he ; '' you are my friend : your traps have 
been unlucky to-day." Previous to this, our success had been 
about equal. 

Then he wished me to sit down and have a talk with him. 
I sat down by him, and he began. 

" My friend," said he, *' I am alone in the world : all my 
kindred are gone to the land of the Great Spirit. I now want 
one good friend — a confidential bosom friend — who will be my 
brother. I am a warrior — a brave — and so are you. You 
have been far away to the villages of the white man; your 
eyes have seen much ; you have now returned to your people. 
Will you be my friend and brother ? be as one man with me 
as long as you live ? " 

I readily acceded to all his desires. 
*' It is well," said he, " and we must exchange traps." 
I agreed to it. 

" Now we must exchange guns." 
It was done. 

So we went on until we had exchanged all our personal 
effects, including horse, clothing, and war implements. 

" Now," said he, " we are one while we live. What I know, 
you shall know ; there must be no secret between us." 

We then proceeded to my father's lodge, and acquainted 
him with the alliance we had entered into. He was much 
pleased at the occurrence, and ever after received my allied 
brother as his son ; but the assumed relationship debarred his 
ever entering the family as son-in-law, since the mutual adop- 
tion attached him as by ties of consanguinity. 

Shortly after, another war party was levied for an excursion 
after the enemy, or their horses, as occasion might offer. The 
party consisted of eighty or ninety warriors. My adopted 
brother inquired of me if I was going with the party. I told 
him I was, and asked the same question of him. 

"No," he said; "we are brothers; we must never both 
leave our village at' once. When I go, you must stay; and 
when you go, I must stay ; one of us must be here to see to 
the interests of the other. Should we both be killed, then who 
would mourn faithfully for the other ? " 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 141 

I was, as yet, but a private in the Crow army, no commis- 
sion having been conferred upon me for what little service I 
had seen. We started in the night, as is their custom, leaving 
the village one or two at a time. My brother came to me in 
the evening, and expressed a wish to speak to me before I left, 
and pointed to a place where he wished me to meet him alone 
as we passed out of the village. I went as appointed, and 
found him there. 

He first asked me if I had done anything in the village. 

I did not clearly see the import of his question, and I inno- 
cently answered " No." 

" Why, have you not been to war ? " 

'' Yes." 

** Did the warriors not impart to you the war-path secret ? " 

"No." 

" Ah ! well, they will tell it you to-morrow. Go on, my 
brother." 

We all assembled together and marched on. In the fore- 
noon we killed a fine fat buffalo, and rested to take breakfast. 
The intestines were taken out, and a portion of them cleansed 
and roasted. A long one was then brought into our mess, 
which numbered ten warriors, who formed a circle, every man 
taking hold of the intestine with his thumb and finger. In 
this position, very solemnly regarded by all in the circle, 
certain questions were propounded to each in relation to 
certain conduct in the village, which is of a nature unfit to be 
entered into here. They are religiously committed to a full 
and categorical answer to each inquiry, no matter whom their 
confession may implicate. Every illicit action they have com- 
mitted since they last went to war is here exposed, together 
with the name of the faithless accomplice, even to the very 
date of the occurrence. All this is divulged to the medicine 
men on the return of the party, and it is by them noted down 
in a manner that it is never erased while the guilty confessor 
lives. Every new warrior, at his initiation, is conjured by 
the most sacred oaths never to divulge the war-path secret to 
any woman, on pain of instant death. He swears by his gun, 
tis pipe, knife, earth, and sun, which are the most sacred 
oaths to the Indian, and are ever strictly observed. 



142 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

We marched on until we came to the Missouri Eiver, and I 
was greatly edified at the novel manner in which we crossed 
the stream. A sufficient number of robes were brought to 
the river bank, and a puckering -string run around the entire 
edge of one, drawing it together until it assumed a globulated 
form. Five or six guns, with other articles necessary to be 
kept dry, were put into it, together with a stone for ballast. 
An Indian would then attach one end of a string to the hide 
tub, and, taking the other end in his teeth, swim across with the 
novel bark in tow. When unfreighted on the opposite shore, 
everything would be as dry as when embarked. Thus all our 
freight was conveyed across in a very short time, and we 
recommenced our march. 

We had not proceeded far when our spies returned, and 
reported that they had discovered a village of the As-ne-boines- 
on Milk Eiver, about forty miles distant. We started for the 
village, intending to relieve them of a few of their horses, of 
which we thought they had more than their share. We 
reached there, and succeeded in driving off nearly three 
hundred head ; but, in re-crossing the Missouri, we lost about 
one third of them by drowning, in consequence of our crossing 
over a sand-bar, in which, though covered with water, the 
animals become involved and perished. We reached home in, 
safety with the remainder without being pursued ; indeed, on] 
our whole route we did not see an Indian. 

Although we brought no scalps, there was great rejoicing] 
at our success. I received, in the distribution, seventeen' 
horses, which I gave to my friends, taking care to give myj 
father a liberal share, in the place of those he had previously] 
parted with on my account. 

I had a month's interval at home. Visiting at my father's.] 
lodge one day, he asked me why I did not head a party my- 
self, and go on some expedition as leader. By so doing, he 
informed me, I stood a better chance of gaining promotion. 
*' Your medicine is good," said he, " and the medicine of both 
will bring you great success." 

I rephed that I had been domiciliated there so short a time 
that I did not wish to be too precipitate in pushing myself 
forward, and that I preferred to fight a while longer as a brave, 
rather than risk the responsibility of being leader. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. - 145 

He replied, " Here is your brother-in-law, take him ; alsa 
your brothers will go with you. If they all get killed, so be 
it ; I will cheerfully submit to old age without them, and die 
alone." 

I reflected that, in order to advance by promotion, I must 
risk everything ; so I consented to follow his advice. 

" Black Panther," my brother-in-law, was anxious to follow 
me, and there were seven young striplings, from ten to eighteen 
years old, that my father called his sons, though, in fact, half 
of them were what I called nephews. I put myself forward 
as the leader, the party comprising only two men and the 
above-mentioned seven boys. 

We departed from the village, and pressed on to the head- 
waters of the Arkansas, coming directly to the Arrap-a-ho 
and I-a-tan villages. At night we drove off one hundred and 
eighteen fine horses, with which we moved on in all possible 
haste toward home. We were then about three hundred 
miles from our village, and two hundred from the Crow 
country. In passing through the Park '•' we discovered three 
Indians coming toward us, driving a small drove of horses. 
We concealed ourselves from their view by dropping back 
over the brow of a small hill directly in their route, until they 
had approached within ten steps of us. We raised the war- 
whoop, and rushed out on them, killing two of the three ; the 
third was at a greater distance, driving the cattle, and when 
he saw the fate of his companions he mounted one of the 
fleetest, and was soon beyond pursuit. My company had 
achieved a great victory, the spoils of which were fourteen 
horses in addition to those already in our possession, two 
scalps, one gun, two battle-axes, one lance, bow, quiver, &c. 
This trivial affair exalted my young brothers in their own 
esteem higher than the greatest veteran their village con- 
tained. During their return home they were anticipating 
with untiring tongues the ovation that awaited them. 

We fell in with no more enemies ou our way to the village. 
The horses we had captured from the three Indians had been 
stolen by them from the Crows, and as a recovery of lost 

* Formerly one of the greatest places for beaver in North America, and 
well known to the mountaineers. 



144 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

horses is a greater achievement in Indians' eyes than the 
original acquisition, our merit was in proportion. We entered 
singing, with our faces blackened, bearing two scalps and 
other trophies, and driving one hundred and thirty-two fine 
horses before us. The whole village resounded with the 
shouts with which our brethren and kindred welcomed us. 
I was hailed bravest of the brave, and my promotion appeared 
certain. 

My father and all his family rose greatly in popular favour. 
The Antelope's distinguished skill and bravery were reflected 
in lucent rays upon their names. '' Great is the Antelope," 
was chanted on all sides, "the lost son of Big Bowl; their 
medicine is good and prosperous." 

There is one trait in Indian character which civilized society 
would derive much profit by imitating. Envy is a quaUty 
unknown to the savages. When a warrior has performed 
any deed of daring, his merit is freely accorded by all his 
associate braves ; his deeds are extolled in every public and 
private reunion, and his name is an incentive to generous 
emulation. I never witnessed any envious attempt to dero- 
gate from the merit of a brave's achievement. No damning^ 
with faint praise ; none 

" Willing to wound and yet afraid to strike ; " 

no faltering innuendoes that the man has not accomplishe 
so much, after all. The same way with the women. Whei 
a woman's husband has distinguished himself, her neighbours,' 
one and all, take a pride in rejoicing with her over her happi- 
ness. If a woman displays more ingenuity than common in 
ornamenting her husband's war-dress, or in adding any fancy 
work to her own habiliments, she at once becomes the pattern 
of the neighbourhood. You see no flaws picked in her 
character because of her rising to note ; no aspersions cast 
upon her birth or present standing. Such and such is her 
merit, and it is deserving of our praise ; the fact perceived, 
it receives full acknowledgment. This leads to the natural 
conclusion that civilization, in introducing the ostentation of 
display which is too frequently affected without sufiicient 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 145 

ground to stand upon, warps the mind from the charity that 
is natural to it, and leads to all the petty strifes, and scanda- 
lous tales, and heartburnings that imbitter the lives of so 
many in civilized life. 

I now engaged in trapping until the latter part of December. 
I celebrated Christmas by myself, as the Indians knew nothing 
about the birth of our Saviour, and it was hard to make them 
understand the nature of the event. At this time a trading- 
party started from our village for the Grovan and Mandan 
country, where there was a trading-post established, for the 
purpose of buying our winter supply of ammunition, and 
tobacco, and other necessary articles. I sent thirty beaver- 
skins, with directions what to purchase with their value, and 
had marked my initials on all of the skins. These letters 
were a mystery to the trader. He inquired of the Crows who 
had marked the skins with those letters. They told him it 
was a Crow, one of their braves, who had lived with the 
whites. Kipp, the trader, then sent an invitation to me to 
visit him at his fort. 

While our party was away, our village was attacked by a 
combined party of the Siouxs and Ee-ke-rahs, numbering two 
thousand five hundred. So sudden was the attack that they 
inflicted considerable mischief upon us before we had a chance 
to collect our forces. But when we at length charged on 
them, it was decisive. We penetrated their ranks, throwing 
them into the direst confusion, and they withdrew, leaving two 
hundred and fifty-three dead on the field. Our loss was thirty - 
one killed, and one hundred and sixty wounded. They had 
supposed that nearly all the warriors had left the village, when 
but a small party had gone, and they met with such a recep- 
tion as they little expected. I had three horses killed under 
me, and my faithful battle-axe was red with the blood of the 
enemy to the end of the haft ; fourteen of the Siouxs had 
fallen beneath it. 

Although we had taken such a number of scalps, there was 
no dancing or rejoicing. All were busied in attending the 
wounded, or mourning their relatives slain. Their mourning 
consists in cutting and hacking themselves on every part of 
the body, and keeping up a dismal moaning or howling for 

10 



146 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

hours together. Many cut off their fingers in order to mourn 
through hfe, or, at least, to wear the semblance of mourning ; 
hence the reason of so many Western Indians having lost one 
or more of their fingers, and of the scars which disfigure their 
bodies. 

The Crows fasten the remains of their dead in trees until 
their flesh is decayed ; their skeletons are then taken down 
and inhumed in caves. Sometimes, but not frequently, they 
kill the favourite horse of the deceased, and bury him at the 
foot of the tree ; but that custom is not followed so strictly 
with them as with most other tribes. 

I was pacifically engaged in trapping during the ensuing 
winter, and the season being open and pleasant, I met with 
great success. Could I have disposed of my peltry in St. 
Louis, I should have been as rich as I coveted. 

In the month of March (1826), a small war-party of twenty 
men left our village on an excursion, and not one of them ever 
came back, their pack-dogs (used for carrying extra moccasins 
when a party goes to war) alone returning to intimate their 
fate. Another party was quickly despatched, of whom I was 
appointed leader, and we soon came upon the remains of the 
massacred party, which yet bore the marks of the weapons 
that had laid them low. There were also many fresh Indian 
tracks about the place, which led us to the inference that 
there were enemies near. We made immediate search for 
them, and had only marched about six miles when we came 
upon a village of nine lodges, which we instantly assaulted, 
killing every man but two. These were on a hill near by, 
and as they made off we did not follow them. My personal 
trophies in this encounter were one scalp and the equipments 
of its wearer ; one young girl of about fourteen years, and a 
little boy. We killed forty-eight of the enemy, and took six 
women prisoners, together with a large drove of horses, and 
a valuable stock of beaver, otter, and other skins, with which 
we returned to the village. There was great rejoicing again 
(not one of our party was scratched), and the beaver-skins, to 
the number of one hundred and sixty-three, were bestowed 
upon me for my skill in command. 

Before we made the assault we felt convinced that this was 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 147 

the party who had killed our missing friends, and our convic- 
tions were substantiated subsequently by recognizing several 
weapons in their possession which had formerly belonged to 
our braves; indeed, some of our women prisoners acknow- 
ledged that our departed brethren had killed many of their 
people. 

The Crows treat the women whom they take prisoners much 
better than other tribes do. They do not impose upon them 
a harder lot than their own women endure, and they allow 
them to marry into the tribe, after which they are in equal 
fellowship with them. On finding themselves captives, they 
generally mourn a day or two, but their grief quickly subsides, 
and they seem to care no farther for their violent removal 
from their own people. 

At this time the Crows were incessantly at war with all the 
tribes within their reach, with the exception of the Snakes and 
the Flat Heads; and they did not escape frequent ruptures 
with them, brought about by the Indian's universal obtuseness 
as to all law relating to the right of property in horses. 

The Crows could raise an army of sixteen thousand warriors, 
and, although there were tribes much more numerous, there 
were none could match them in an open fight. The Camanches 
and Apaches have tilted lances with them repeatedly, and in- 
variably to their discomfiture. If the Crows ever suffered 
defeat, it was when overwhelmed by numbers. One principal 
cause of their marked superiority was their plentiful supply of 
guns and ammunition, which the whites always more readily 
exchanged to them on accoant of their well-proved fidehty to 
the white man. When other tribes were constrained to leave 
their fire-arms in their lodges for want of ammunition, the 
Crows would have plenty, and could use their arms with great 
effect against an enemy which had only bow and arrows to 
shoot with. Farther, they were the most expert horsemen of 
any Indian tribe, notwithstanding the great name bestowed 
upon the Camanches and Apaches — those two great terrors of 
Northern Mexico. I have seen them all, and consider myself 
in a position to judge, although some, perhaps, will say that I 
am prejudiced in favour of the Crows, seeing that I am one 
myself. 



148 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

Previous to my going among the Crows, the small-pox had 
been ravaging their camp, carrying them away in thousands, 
until, as I was informed by themselves, their nmnber was 
reduced by that fatal Indian scourge to little better than one 
half. None of their medicine would arrest its course. 

After our last-mentioned victory, the Crows met with nume- 
rous reverses, which were attended with severe loss of life. In 
their small war-parties going out on marauding expeditions I 
had never much confidence, although, individually, they were 
good warriors ; therefore I never took part with them until six 
or eight of their parties would come back severely handled, 
and many of their braves slain. Thus their reverses accumu- 
lated until the whole village was one scene of mourning, 
numbers of them being self-mangled in the most shocking 
manner, and the blood trickling from their heads down to the 
ground. Some had lost a father, some a brother, some a 
sweetheart ; in short, their appearance was too fearful to look 
upon, and their cries were too painful to hear. 

When the last party came in, defeated with serious loss, I 
had just returned with a party from the pursuit of horse- thieves. 
We had brought in four scalps, and were performing the scalp- 
dance in honour of the event. On hearing the disastrous news 
of the return of the defeated party, we arrested the dance, an^ 
I retired into my lodge. Soon, however, a crowd of womdj 
came and lifted it directly from over me, leaving me in the 
open air. They then threw before me immense quantities 
all kinds of goods, leggings, moccasins, and other things, unt 
I was nearly covered with their miscellaneous offerings. 

I called out, '* Enough ! I am aroused. I will go with yot 
warriors and revenge the death of your friends." They were 
all satisfied, and stood still. The news then circulated 
through the village that the Antelope was aroused, and himself 
going against the Cheyennes to revenge the death of their 
braves. 

I had as yet met with no reverses since my translation. My 
Tnedicine had always been good and true. I had never come 
home without scalps or spoils, and they began to associate my 
name with victory. The next day five hundred warriors rallied 
round me, among whom were some who had suffered recent 



;he 

1 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 149 

defeat, and their minds were burning for revenge. I sent 
forward fifty spies, and moved cautiously on with the main 
body. My reputation was committed to my present success, 
and I took more than ordinary pains to vindicate the cause 
they had intrusted to my care. Every man was well armed 
and mounted, and I had full confidence in our abihty to give a 
good account of double our number. 

My command were very curious to learn my tactics. On 
one occasion, when they were completely harassing me with 
endless inquiries respecting my plan of attack, I told them, if 
they would bring me a silver-gray fox, unhurt, my medicine 
would be complete, and that we were sure of a great victory. 
In a moment they left me, and shortly returned with a live 
fox, which they had caught in a surround. I ordered them to 
choke it to death, and then flay it : it was done, and the beau- 
tiful skin was handed to me. I wrapped it round my medicine 
bow, and made a brief speech, informing them that the cunning 
of the fox had descended upon my head, and that my wiles 
would infallibly circumvent the enemy. Like another Alex- 
ander, I thus inspired confidence in the breasts of my soldiers, 
and the spirit I was infusing in others partly communicated 
itself to my own breast. 

Some of the spies now returned and informed me that they 
had discovered a village of Cheyennes containing thirty- seven 
lodges. 

"Well," said I, after learning where it was, ''now return 
and watch them strictly; if anything happens, acquaint me 
with it promptly." 

Away they went, but soon returned again to report that the 
enemy had moved down the creek (which was then called 
Antelope Creek, a small tributary of the Missouri), had passed 
through the caiion, and were encamped at its mouth. I ordered 
them to send in all the spies except ten, and to direct those 
ten to keep a sharp look-out. I then determined to follow 
them down the canon and attack them at the mouth, thus 
cutting off their retreat into the caiion; but again I was 
informed that the enemy had moved farther down, and had 
encamped in the edge of the timber, with the evident intention 
of remaining there. 



150 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

I approached their village with great caution, moving a few 
miles a day, until I occupied a position on a hill near it, where 
I had an almost bird's-eye view of the village underneath. I 
then sent all my extra horses, together with the boys and 
women, to the rear ; I divided the warriors into three parties, 
reserving the smallest division of fifty men to myself. I placed 
the two chief divisions in juxtaposition, out of view of the 
enemy, and, with my small party, intended to descend upon 
the horses, thinking to draw them after me ; my two concealed 
divisions would then inclose them as in a lane, and we, re- 
tarnihg, would place them under a triple fire. I addressed 
them briefly, begging them to show the enemy they were 
Crows, and brave ones too, and that, if they would strictly 
obey my directions, we could retrieve all our recent reverses. 

The two corps d'armee being in position, I was advancing 
with my small division, when we came suddenly upon two of 
the enemy, whom we instantly killed and scalped. We rode 
on, being in full sight of the enemy, but they made no offer to 
come out of their camp. We tried every means to provoke 
them to advance ; we shook our two scalps at them, yet 
reeking with blood, and tantalized them all we could; bu^ 
they would not move. To have charged them as they wei 
situated would have entailed upon us severe loss. We ha^ 
taken two scalps without loss of blood, more glorious in a^ 
Indian's estimation than to take one hundred if a single lii 
was sacrificed. We had braved our foes; we had stamped 
them as cowards, which is almost equal to death ; so, conteni 
ing myself with what was done, I concluded to draw off my~ 
forces and return home. We were received at the village with 
deafening applause. Every face was washed of its mourning- 
paint ; gloom gave way to rejoicing ; and the scalp- dance was 
performed with enthusiasm and hilarity. I was illustrated with 
the distinguished name of Big Bowl (Bat-te-sarsh), and hailed 
as a deliverer by all the women in the village. 

A little girl, who had often asked me to marry her, came to 
me one day, and with every importunity insisted on my ac- 
cepting her as my wife. I said, " You are a very pretty girl, 
but you are but a child ; when you are older I will talk to you 
about it." 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 151 

But she was not to be put off. "You are a great brave," 
she said, ''and braves have a right to paint the faces of their 
wives when they have killed the enemies of the Crows. I am 
a little girl now, I know ; but if I am your wife, you will paint 
my face when you return from the war, and I shall be proud 
that I am the wife of a great brave, and can rejoice with the 
other women whose faces are painted by their brave husbands. 
You will also give me fine things, fine clothes, and scarlet 
cloth; and I can make you pretty leggings and moccasins, and 
take care of your war-horses and war implements." 

The little innocent used such powerful appeals that, not- 
withstanding I had already seven wives and a lodge for each, 
I told her she might be my wife. I took her to the lodge of 
one of my married sisters, told her that the little girl was my 
wife, and that she would make her a good wood-carrier, and 
that she must dress her up finely as became the spouse of a 
brave. My sister was much pleased, and cheerfully carried 
out all my requests. As I shall have occasion to speak of this 
little girl again, in connection with the medicine lodge, I shall 
say comparatively little of her at this time. 

I spent the summer very agreeably, being engaged most of 
the time in hunting buffalo and trapping beaver. I had now 
accumulated three full packs, worth in market three thousand 
dollars. 

One day I took a fancy to hunt mountain sheep, and for 
company took my little wife with me. She was particularly 
intelligent, and I found by her conversation that she surpassed 
my other wives in sense. She was full of talk, and asked all 
manner of questions concerning my travels among the great 
lodges and villages of the white man ; if the white squaws 
were as pretty as herself ; and an endless variety of questions. 
I felt greatly pleased with her piquant curiosity, and imparted 
much information to her. Fixing her deep black eyes upon 
mine, she at length said, " I intend, some time in my life, to 
go into the medicine lodge." I looked at her with astonish- 
ment. The dedication of a female to the service of the Great 
Spirit is a dangerous attempt. Like all forms of imposture, it 
requires a peculiar talent and fitness in the candidate who 
seeks to gain admission into the sacred lodge. The war-path 



152 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

secret is associated with the ministration, with many othe 
fearful ceremonies. The woman who succeeds in her ambitioi 
project is an honoured participant in the sacred service of thj 
Deity through hfe ; but where one succeeds numbers fail, an< 
the failure entails instant death. Three years subsequent 
this conversation, I shall have to relate how my little wife, 
the breathless silence of ten thousand warriors, passed tM 
fiery ordeal in safety, and went triumphantly into the lodge of 
the Great Spirit. 

I had good success in hunting, killing a great number 
sheep, and carried their skins with me to the village. 0^ 
arriving, I called at the lodge of my alhed brother, wl 
insisted on my entering and taking a meal. I accepted 
offer, while my little wife ran home to communicate my gre£ 
success in hunting. Our meal consisted of strips of drie 
buffalo tongue, which, as the Indians did not half cook it, w£ 
a dish I never partook of. What was served me on tl 
occasion, however, was well done, and I ate a hearty met 
Supper completed, I was praising the viands, and chanced 
inquire what dish I had been eating. The woman replied th£ 
it was tongue, and expressed by her looks that I must ha^ 
known what it was. My friend, knowing that I had departec 
from my rule, inferred that I had infringed my medicine, and 
he started up in horror, shouting, " Tongue ! tongue ! you have 
ruined his medicine ! should our hero be slain in battle, you 
are a lost woman." 

The poor woman was half dead with fear, her features 
expressing the utmost horror. 

I issued from the lodge, bellowing in imitation of the buffalo, 
protruding my tongue, and pawing up the ground like a bear 
in fury. This was in order to remove the spell that had settled 
over me, and recover the strength of my medicine. I recovered 
at length, and proceeded toward my lodge, commiserated by a 
large crowd, who all deplored the taking of the food as a 
lamentable accident. 

That same evening the village was notified by the crier that 
on the following day there would be a surround, and all were 
summoned to attend. I accompanied the party, and the 
surround was made, several hundred buffaloes being inclosed. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH, 153 

On charging among them to dispatch them, we discovered 
seven Black Foot Indians, v^ho, finding retreat cut off from 
them, had hastily provided themselves v^ith a sand fort. I 
struck one of the victims with a willow I had in my hand, and 
retired thereupon, declaring I had wounded the first enemy. 
This, I believe I have before mentioned, is a greater honour 
than to slay any number in battle. 

I had retired to a short distance, and was standing looking 
at the fight, when a bullet, discharged from the fort, struck 
the dagger in my belt, and laid me breathless on the ground. 
Eecovering immediately, I arose, and found myself bleeding at 
the mouth. Imagining the ball had penetrated some vital 
place, I gave myself up for dead. I was carried to the village 
by scores of warriors, who, with me, supposed my wound to be 
mortal, and were already deploring their warrior's fall. The 
medicine men surrounded me, and searched for my wound; 
but, behold ! there was only a small discoloration to be seen ; 
the skin was not perforated. The ball was afterward found 
where I fell, flattened as if struck with a hammer. It was 
then declared that I would recover. The enemy's bullets 
flattened in contact with my person — my medicine was in- 
falhble — I was impenetrable to wound ! I did not afford them 
any light on the matter. 

As soon as the poor woman who had entertained me at 
supper heard that I was wounded, she left for another village, 
and was not seen again for six months. Supposing herself to 
have been instrumental in destroying my medicine, and know- 
ing that, if I died, her life would pay the forfeit of her 
carelessness, she did not dare to return. She chanced to see 
me unharmed at the village where she had taken refuge, and 
then she knew her life was redeemed. 

While the doctor and medicine men were going through 
their spells and incantations previous to uncovering my 
wound, my relatives, in their sohcitude for my life, offered 
profuse rewards if they would save me. Some offered twenty 
horses, some fifty, some more, in proportion as their wealth or 
liberahty prompted. The doctors ransomed my life, and they 
received over five hundred horses for their achievement. 

One day a slight dispute arose between one of the braves 



154 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

and myself about some trivial matter, and as both of us were 
equally obstinate in maintaining our views, we both became 
angry. My disputant remarked with great superciliousness, 
" Ugh ! you pretend to be a brave, but you are no 
brave." 

We drew our battle-axes at the same instant, and rushed at 
each other, but before either had an opportunity to strike, the 
pipe was thrust between us, compelling us to desist, to disobey 
which is instant death. This is the duty of certain Indians, 
who occupy the position of policemen in a city. They then 
said to my antagonist, "You said that 'Big Bowl' was no 
brave. You lied ; we all know that he is brave ; our enemies 
can testify to it, and you dare not deny it any more. Here- 
after, if you wish to show which is the greatest brave, wait 
until you meet the enemy, then we can decide ; but never 
again attempt to take each other's lives." 

This interference procured peace. It was not long, however, 
before we both had a good opportunity to determine the- 
question of our valour. A small party of thirty warriors was 
embodied, myself and my antagonist being of the number. 
After a short march we fell -in with a war-party of eighteen 
Cheyennes, who, nothwithstanding the disparity of number 
accepted battle, well knowing that escape was impossible, 
pointed out one of the enemy (who I could see by his dre 
and the peculiarity of his hair was a chief). " You see him ? 
I said. " Well, we can decide which is the best man now. 
You charge directly against him by my side." 

This he readily assented to, but still I could detect in hi 
countenance an expression which I deciphered, "I would 
rather not." I saw the Indian we were about to attack open 
the pan of his gun, and give it a slight tap with his hand tO' 
render its discharge certain. He presented his piece, and 
took the most deliberate aim as we advanced side by side to 
the attack. The death of one of us seemed inevitable, and I 
did not like the feeling of suspense. A few spurrings of our 
chargers, and we were upon him. I seized the muzzle of his 
gun at the very instant that it exploded, and cut him down 
with the battle-axe in my right hand. My left cheek was 
filled with the powder from the discharge, the stains of which 



3n 

] 

I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 155 

remain to this day. My rival did not even strike at the 
Indian I had killed. 

He then said to me, " You are truly a great v^arrior and a 
great brave ; I was wrong in saying what I did. We are now 
good friends." 

Our few enemies were quickly exterminated, the loss on our 
side being four wounded, including my powder- wound. My 
fame was still farther celebrated, for I had again struck down 
the first man, who was a great chief, and had actually charged 
up to the muzzle of his gun, what few Indians have the 
stamina to do. On our return with the spoils of victory we 
were warmly congratulated by the tribe, and I was still 
farther ennobled by the additional name of Bull's Eobe, con- 
ferred on me by my father. 

It was now the fall of the year. I had been a Crow for 
many moons. It was time to repair to the trading-post to- 
obtain what articles we needed. I determined to accompany 
the party, and at least attend to the sale of my own effects.. 
What peltry I had was worth three thousand dollars in St. 
Louis, and I was solicitous to obtain something like an 
equivalent in exchange for it. 

We proceeded to Fort Clarke, on the Missouri. I waited 
until the Indians had nearly completed their exchanges, 
speaking nothing but Crow language, dressed like a Crow, my 
hair as long as a Crow's, and myself as black as a crow. No 
one at the post doubted my being a Crow. Toward the con- 
clusion of the business, one of my tribe inquired in his own 
language for " be-has-i-pe-hish-a." The clerk could not under- 
stand his want, and there was none of the article in sight for 
the Indian to point out. He at length called Kipp to see if 
he could divine the Indian's meaning. 

I then said in English, " Gentlemen, that Indian wants 
scarlet cloth." 

If a bomb-shell had exploded in the fort they could not 
have been more astonished. 

"Ah," said one of them, " you speak English ! Where did 
you learn it?" 

"With the white man." 

" How long were you with the whites ? " 



150 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

" More than twenty years." 

" Where did you live with them ? " 

" In St. Louis." 

"In St. Louis ! in St. Louis ! You have Hved twenty years 
in St. Louis ! " 

Then they scanned me closely from head to foot, and Kipp 
said, '' If you have lived twenty years in St. Louis, I'll swear 
you are no Crow." 

" No, I am not." 

" Then what may be your name ? " 

" My name in English is James Beckwourth." 

" Good heavens ! why I have heard your name mentioned a 
thousand times. You were supposed dead, and were so re- 
ported by Captain Sublet." 

*' I am not dead, as you see ; I still move and breathe." 

" This explains the mystery," he added, turning to the clerk, 
"of those beaver-skins being marked 'J. B.' Well, well! if 
you are not a strange mortal ! " 

All this conversation was unintelligible to my Crow brethren, 
who were evidently proud to see a Crow talk so fluently to the 
white man. 

"Now," I said, "I have seen you transact your business 
without interposing with a word. You have cleared two or 
three thousand per cent, of your exchanges. I do not grudge 
it you. Were I in your place I should do the same. But I 
want a little more liberal treatment. I have toiled hard for 
what I have obtained, and I want the worth of my earnings." 

I set my own price upon my property, and, to the great 
astonishment of my Indian brethren, I returned with as large 
a bale of goods as theirs would all together amount to. But, 
as I have said, an Indian is in no wise envious, and, instead 
of considering themselves unfairly used, they rejoiced at the 
white man's profusion to me, and supposed the overplus he 
had given me was an indemnity for the captivity they had held 
me in. 

On our retm-n I made various presents to all my wives, 
some of whom I did not see for months together, and to many 
other relatives. I had still a good stock to trade upon, and 
could exchange with my brethren at any rate I offered. They 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 157 

placed implicit confidence in my integrity, and a beaver-skin 
exchanged with me for one plug of tobacco contented them 
better than to have exchanged it for two with the white man. 

I had the fairest opportunity for the acquisition of an 
immense fortune that ever was placed in man's way. By 
saying one word to the tribe I could have kept the white 
trader for ever out of their territory, and thus have gained the 
monopoly of the trade of the entire nation for any term of 
years. That I am not now in possession of a fortune equal to 
that of an Astor or a Girard is solely the fault of my own 
indolence, and I do not to this moment see how I came to 
neglect the golden opportunity. 

While returning from the trading- post, we fell in with a 
party of about two hundred and fifty Cheyenne warriors, to 
oppose whom we numbered but two hundred warriors, besides 
being encumbered with a still greater number of women. As 
good fortune would have it, they attacked us in the daytime, 
while we were moving ; whereas, had they but waited till we 
were encamped, and our horses turned out, I do not see how 
we could have escaped defeat. In travelling, every warrior 
led his war-horse by his side, with lance and shield attached 
to the saddle. 

The enemy was first seen by one of our scouts at some little 
distance from the main body. On seeing they were dis- 
covered, they gave chase to him, and continued on until they 
came upon our whole party. Every man transferred himself 
to his war-horse, and was instantly ready to receive them. 
They advanced upon our line, were received without wavering, 
and finally driven back. It was now our turn to attack. We 
charged furiously with our whole force, completely sweeping 
everything from before us, and killing or disabling at least 
fifty of the enemy. They rallied and returned, but the recep- 
tion they met with soon put them to rout, and they fled 
precipitately into the timber, where we did not care to follow 
them. 

Our loss was severe : nine warriors killed and thirteen 
wounded, including myself, who had received an arrow in the 
head — not so serious, however, as to prevent me doing duty. 
We also lost one pack-horse, laden with goods, but no scalps. 



158 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



1 



We took eleven scalps upon the field, and the Cheyennes 
afterward confessed to the loss of fifty-six warriors. When 
we lost a horse in the action, the women would immediately 
supply its place with a fresh one. We were nearly two hundred 
miles from home, and we carried our dead all .the way thither. 

On arriving at home, I found my father greatly irritated. 
He had lost two hundred and fifty head of horses from his 
own herd, stolen by the Black Feet, who had raised a general 
contribution from the whole village. His voice was still for 
war, and he insisted on giving immediate chase. I dissuaded 
him from his intention, representing to him his advanced 
years, and promising to go myself and obtain satisfaction for 
his losses. He reluctantly consented to this arrangement ; 
but, four or five days after my departure on the errand, his 
medicine became so strong that he started off with a party, 
taking an opposite direction to the one I had gone on. My 
party consisted of two hundred and twenty good warriors, 
and my course lay for the head- waters of the Arkansas, in the 
Arrap-a-ho country. 

We fell in with no enemies on bur way until we arrived at 
a village which contained upward of one hundred lodges. We 
formed our plans for assaulting the place the next day, when 
we discovered four white men, whom we surrounded. The 
poor fellows thought their last day was come, and I was 
amused to overhear their conversation. 

*' They will surely kill us all," said one. 

" In what manner will they kill us ? " asked another. 

" They may burn us," suggested a third. 

Then they communed among themselves, little thinking 
there was one overhearing them who sympathized with every 
apprehension they expressed. 

They summed up their consultation by one saying, " If they 
attempt to kill us, let us use our knives to the best advantage^ 
and sell our lives as dearly as possible.'' 

*' Gentlemen," said I, " I will spare you that trouble." 

" Great God ! " they exclaimed, '* Mr. Beckwourth, is that 
you?" 

" Yes," I replied, " that is my name. You are perfectly 
safe, but you must not leave our camp till to-morrow." 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 159 

" For what reason ? " they inquired. 

"Because there is a village close by which we mean to 
assault at daybreak, and we do not wish our design to be 
known." 

" Oh," said they, '* we should not communicate your designs, 
and we did not even know of the village." 

They then poured out before me a whole sea of misfortunes. 
They had been trapping — had met with very good success; 
the Indians had stolen their horses ; in attempting to cross 
the river by means of a badly-constructed raft, the raft had 
fallen to pieces, and they had lost everything — peltry, guns, 
and ammunition. They were now making their way to New 
Mexico, with nothing to eat and no gun to kill game with. 
They were among Indians, and were two or three hundred 
miles from the nearest settlements of New Mexico. I enter- 
tained them well while they stayed, and, after our assault in 
the morning, I gave them two guns and twenty rounds of 
ammunition, and counselled them to take advantage of the 
surprise of the Indians to make good their escape. One of 
the four afterward informed me that they reached the settle- 
ments in safety, having killed a buffalo and a deer on the 
way. 

We made the assault as appointed. We were mounted on 
horses we had taken from the village during the night, as 
Indians go on horse-steahng expeditions on foot. I divided 
my force into two bodies, giving my principal scout the 
command of one. I gave orders to run off their horses without 
risking a battle, if no opposition were offered ; but, if they 
showed fight, to kill whatever came in their way. The 
Arrap-a-iaos are very poor warriors, but on this occasion they 
defended themselves with commendable zeal and bravery. 
We were, however, compelled to kill fourteen of them, for our 
own security, before we could get their horses well started. 
On our side we had four wounded; and if they had not 
delayed to scalp the fallen Indians, that might have been 
avoided. 

We succeeded in driving away over sixteen hundred horses, 
all well conditioned, with which we arrived safely at home. 
My father also returned about the same time with near three 



160 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

thousand head, all superior animals. The Bull's Eobe family- 
had certainly done wonders, and we were entertained to the 
greatest feast I had ever seen. The whole village was illumi- 
nated with numerous feux de joie, and such dancing was nevfer 
known before. 

I received another addition to my list of titles in commemo- 
ration of this event, Is-ko-chu-e-chu-re, the Enemy of Horses. 

A feud now broke out, which had been long brewing, 
between two different parties in our village, one of which 
worshipped foxes, and the other worshipped dogs. The 
warriors of the latter party were called Dog Soldiers, of which 
I was the leader ; the other party was led by Red Eyes. The 
quarrel originated about the prowess of the respective parties, 
and was fostered by Red Eyes, on the part of the rival com- 
pany, and by Yellow Belly (in Indian A-re-she-res), a man in 
my company. This A-re-she-res was as brave an Indian as 
ever trod the plain, but he was also a very bad Indian — that 
is, he was disagreeable in his manners, and very insulting in 
his conversation. 

Red Eyes was equally brave, but of a different disposition. 
His was a reserved pride ; the braggadocio of A-re-she-res 
offended him. This rivalry developed into an open rupture, 
and the pipe-men were obliged to interfere to prevent open 
hostilities. At length it was proposed, in order to cement a 
final peace between the two warriors, that each should select 
from his own party a certain number of men, and go and 
wage common war against some enemy — the question of 
bravery to be decided by the number of scalps brought in on 
each side. 

Red Eyes accordingly chose from his party eighteen of the 
best men, himself making the nineteenth — men who would 
suffer death rather than show their backs to the enemy. A- 
re-she-res, with his accustomed fanfaronade, said, " I can beat 
that party with less men ; I will only take sixteen men, and 
bring in more scalps than they." 

He came to me and said, " Enemy of Horses, I want you to 
go with me and die with me. It is of no use for you to stay 
with this people ; they are not brave any longer. Come with 
me, and we will enter the spirit land together, where the in- 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 161 

habitants are all brave. There is better hunting ground in the 
country of the Great Spirit. Come ! " 

I replied I would rather not go on such an errand. I have 
women to live for, and defend against the enemies of the 
Crows ; that when I fought I wished to destroy the enemy and 
preserve my own life. " That," said I, " is bravery and pru- 
dence combined." 

" Ah ! " answered he, " you a leader of the Dog Soldiers, and 
refuse to go ! There are prettier women in the land of the 
Great Spirit than any of your squaws, and game in much 
greater abundance. I care nothing about my life : I am ready 
to go to the land of the Great Spirit. You must go with me ; 
perhaps your medicine will save not only yourself, but all of 
us. If so, it will be so much the better." 

I, not wishing to be thought cowardly, especially by A-re- 
she-res, at length consented to accompany him, on the condi- 
tion that he would stifle all harsh feeling against our brethren, 
and, let our expedition result as it would, accept the decision 
in good faith, and never refer to the past. 

" It is well," he said ; " let it be as your words speak." 

The two parties started on different routes to the Cheyenne 
country. 1 regarded it as a foolhardy enterprise, but if it 
resulted in the establishment of peace, I was contented to take 
part in it, at whatever personal sacrifice. We used every pre- 
caution against a surprise, and A-re-she-res wiUingly adapted 
his movements to my counsel ; for, though he was as brave as 
a lion, and fought with the utmost desperation, he was very 
inconsiderate of consequences, and had no power of calculating 
present combinations to come at a desired result. 

After travelling about twenty days, we arrived at a consider- 
able elevation, from whence we could see, at some distance of 
the prairie, about thirty of the enemy engaged in killing 
buffalo. We could also see their village at a distance of three 
miles. 

"There is an opportunity," said A-re-she-res ; "now let us 
charge these Indians in the open prairie." 

"No, no," I replied; "there are too many of them; the 
Cheyennes are brave warriors ! if you wish to carry home their 
scalps, ,we must get into their path and waylay them ; by that 

11 



162 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



f ouli 
le 

1 



means we shall kill many of them, and run less risk of 
own lives. We shall gain more honour by preserving the 
lives of our warriors, and taking back the scalps of the enemy 
than by sacrificing our lives in a rash and inconsiderate 
charge." 

" Your words are true," said he, '* and we will do as yoi 
say." 

"Then," added I, *' turn your robes the hair side out, and 
follow me." 

We wound our way down the trail through which they mufi 
necessarily pass to reach their village, and kept on until w 
reached a place where there were three gullies worn by th 
passage of the water. Through the centre gully the trai 
passed, thus leaving a formidable position on each side, 
which an ambuscade had ample concealment. I divided ra 
party, giving the command of one division to A-re-she-rej 
We took our stations in the ditches on each side the trai 
though not exactly opposite to each other. I directed th 
opposite party not to fire a gun until they should hear ours, 
and then each man to take the enemy in the order of prece^^ 
dence. The unsuspecting Cheyennes, as soon as they ha^l 
finished butchering and dressing the buffalo, began to approach ' 
us in parties of from three to eight or ten, their horses loaded 
with meat, which they were bearing to the village. Whe^B 
there were about a dozen abreast of my party, I made a signal " 
to fire, and nine Cheyennes fell before our balls, and eight 
before those of A-re-she-res's party. Some few of the enemy 
who had passed on, hearing the guns, returned to see what the 
matter was, and three of them became victims to our bullets. 
We all rushed from our hiding-places then, and some fell to j 
scalping the prostrate foe, and some to cutting the lashings of 
the meat in order to secure the horses, the remainder keeping 
the surviving enemy at bay. Having taken twenty scalps, we 
sprang upon the horses we had freed from their packs, and 
retreated precipitately, for the enemy was coming in sight in 
great numbers. 

We made direct for the timber, and, leaving our horses, took 
refuge in a rocky place in the mountain, where we considered 
om-selves protected for a while from their attacks. To storm 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 163 

us in front they had to advance right in the face of our bullets, 
and to reach us in the rear they had to take a circuitous route 
of several miles round the base of the mountain. The enemy 
evinced the utmost bravery, as they made repeated assaults 
right up to the fortification that sheltered us. Their bullets 
showered around us v^ithout injury, but we could bring down 
one man at every discharge. To scalp them, however, was 
out of the question. 

During the combat a great Cheyenne brave, named Leg-in- 
the- Water, charged directly into our midst, and aimed a deadly 
thrust with his lance at one of our braves. The warrior 
assailed instantly shivered the weapon with his battle-axe, and 
inflicted a ghastly wound in his assailant's shoulder with a 
second blow. He managed to escape, leaving his horse dead 
in our midst. 

By this time we were encompassed with the enemy, which 
induced the belief in our minds that retreat would be the safest 
course. None of our party was wounded except A-re-she-res, 
who had his arm broken with a bullet between the shoulder 
and elbow. He made light of the wound, only regretting that 
he could no longer discharge his gun ; but he wielded his 
battle-axe with his left hand as well as ever. 

When night came on we evacuated our fortress, unperceived 
by our enemies. They, deeming our escape impossible, were 
quietly resting, intending to assault us with their whole force 
in the morning, and take our scalps at all hazards. Moving 
with the stealth of a cat, we proceeded along the summit of a 
rocky cliff until we came to a cleft or ravine, through which 
we descended from the bluff to the bottom, which was 
■covered with a heavy growth of timber. We then hastened 
home, arriving there on the twenty-eighth day from the time 
we left. 

They had given us over for lost ; but when they saw us 
returning with twenty scalps, and only one of our party hurt, 
their grief gave way to admiration, and we were hailed with 
shouts of applause. 

Our rival party, under Bed Eyes, had returned five or six 
•days previously, bringing with them seventeen scalps, obtained 
-at the loss of one man. Our party was declared the victor, 



164 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 



n 



since we had taken the greater number of scalps, with the 
weaker party, and without loss of life, thus excelling our rivals 
in three several points. Eed Eyes cheerfully acknowledged 
himself beaten, good feeling was restored, and the subject of 
each other's bravery was never after discussed. 

We had still another advantage, inasmuch as we could 
dance, a celebration they were deprived of, as they had lost a 
warrior ; they, however, joined our party, and wanted nothing- 
in heartiness to render our dance sufficiently boisterous to 
suffice for the purpose of both. 

All the dancing is performed in the open air, with the solid 
ground for a floor. It consists of jumping up and down, inter- 
mixed with violent gestures and stamping; they keep time 
with a drum or tambourine, composed of antelope -skin 
stretched over a hoop, the whole party singing during the 
performance. 



CHAPTEE XIV. 

Great Loss of Horses in the Mountains — Destructive Battle with the Black 
Feet — Storming of their Natural Fort — Trouble with the Cheyennes. 

WE went along without noteworthy occurrence until the 
following March, when we moved from the western to 
the eastern side of what was at that time called Tongue Biver 
Mountain, one of the peaks of the Eocky Mountain chain. 
The buffaloes had receded from the environs of our old camp- 
ing-ground, and had been attracted to the region whither we 
removed in consequence of the grass being in a more forward 
state. 

Our community numbered ten thousand souls — men, women, 
and children — together with an immense number of horses. 
In crossing the mountain, we found the snow to be of so great 
depth, being farther increased with a three days' recent storm, 
that the mountain was impassable. In this severe journey, 
which occupied three days, we had twelve hundred horses 
perish in the snow. Previously, the Black Feet had stolen 
eight hundred head, and we were in no condition to follow 
them, as we were all engaged in packing up for removal. We 
reached the prairie, on the eastern side of the mountain, after 
a toilsome journey, and found good camping-ground on Box 
Elder Creek. The morning following our arrival we started on 
a surround, in parties of fifty and upward, as our whole popu- 
lation was without meat. I rode a pack-horse, and three of 
my wives were with me, each leading a saddle-horse. I had 
not proceeded far before I heard a noise that sounded very 
rnuch like a war-hoop. I stopped my horse to listen. Those 
near me said it was a signal from one of the parties, who had 



166 AVTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



I 



discovered buffalo, and we proceeded on our journey. Soon, 
however, I heard the yell again, and I became satisfied there ^L 
was something more than buffalo astir. I rode to a small ll 
eminence close by, and descried a party of our hunters at a 
distance making signals for others to succour them. I turned i 
back to my wives, and despatched two of them to the village n 
for my war instruments, and then galloped on to ascertain the ^ • 
cause of the alarm. Not more than fifty of our warriors were 
then before me. 

I then learned that they had before them a party of one 
hundred and sixty Black Foot warriors, who had thrown them- 
selves into an apparently impregnable fortress. It was a 
stronghold manifestly thrown up in some of Nature's grand 
convulsions, it would seem, for the very purpose to which it 
was now applied. It was a huge mass of granite, forming a 
natural wall in front of a graduated height, varying from 
twenty-five feet to six feet, the lowest part ; it was solid, an^ 
nearly perpendicular all round. 

There was in our camp a young Kentuckian named Eoberi^ 
Mildrum, naturally a brave fellow, though he seldom went out 
in the war parties ; but when the village was assaulted, he 
always fought like a tiger. He was a good trapper and a 
skilful blacksmith, and had been out in the employ of the 
American Fur Company. I met him while we were surveying] 
the enemy's stronghold. 

I said to him, "Mildrum, if the adage is true, there is policy 
in war. These Indians make no question of our bravery ; had 
we not better resign to them the brunt of this encounter, and 
not expose our lives in a cause that we have no concern in ? , 
How do you intend to act ? " ]■ 

" As for me," said Mildrum, " I must be in the fray. If we ■ 
are to see any fun, I want my share of the entertainment." 

" Well," said I, " I shall endeavour to keep by you." 

The Indians had by this time assembled to the number of 
from five to seven hundred, and were watching the fort inde- 
cisively, awaiting instructions from the chief. Many had 
succeeded in running and sheltering under the wall, while 
several had been shot in making the attempt. I ran to the 
wall to reconnoitre it, and soon saw there were two ways in 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 167 

which it could be taken ; one was by bombardment, and the 
other was by storm. Bombardment was out of the question, 
as our heaviest calibre was a rifle-bore. I waited to see what 
steps would be taken. 

Long Hair, the head chief of the nation, said, " Warriors, 
listen ! Our marrow-bones are broken ; the enemy has chosen 
a strong fort ; we cannot drive them from it without sacrificing 
too many men. Warriors, retreat ! " 

I replied, " No ; hold ! Warriors, listen ! If these old men 
cannot fight, let them retire with the women and children. 
We can kill every one of these Black Feet ; then let us do it. 
If we attempt to run from here, we shall be shot in the back, 
and lose more warriors than to fight and kill them all. If we 
get killed, our friends w^ho love us here will mourn our loss, 
while those in the spirit land will sing and rejoice to welcome 
us there, if we ascend to them dying like braves. The Great 
Spirit has sent these enemies here for us to slay ; if we do not 
slay them, he will be angry with us, and will never suffer us to 
conquer our enemies again. He will drive off all our buffaloes, 
and will wither the grass on the prairies. No, warriors ! we 
will fight as long as one of them survives. Come, follow me, 
and I will show you how the braves of the great white chief 
fight their enemies ! " 

** Enemy of Horses," exclaimed hundreds of the brave and 
impatient warriors who were crowded round me, " lead us, and 
we will follow you to the spirit land." 

Accepting the charge, I stationed a large body of those who 
were never known to flinch on one side of the position, which 
I, with my followers, intended to scale. I thus thought to 
engage the attention of the enemy until we made good our 
entrance, when I felt no longer doubtful of success. I then 
told them as I threw up my shield the third time, and shouted 
" Hoo-ki-hi," they were to scale the wall as fast as possible, 
and beat down whatever resistance might be offered them. 

I had divested myself of all my weapons except my battle- 
axe and scalping-knife, the latter being attached to my wrist 
with a string. I then made the signal, and when I raised the 
shout '* Hoo-ki-hi," the party opposite began to hoist one 
another up. When I sprang for the summit of the wall, I 



168 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



1 

trifV* H 



found that my "women were holding my belt ; I cut it loose with 
my knife, and left it in their hands. I was the first on the 
wall, but was immediately followed by some scores of warriors. 
The enemy's whole attention, when we entered the arena, was 
directed to the opposite party, and we had time to cut numbers 
down before they were aware of our entrance. The carnage 
for some minutes was fearful, and the Black Feet fought with 
desperation, knowing their inevitable doom if taken. The 
clash of battle-axes, and the yells of the opposing combatants 
were truly appalling. Many leaped the wall only to meet their 
certain doom below^, where hundreds of battle-axes and lances 
were ready to drink their blood as soon as they touched ground. 
The interior surface of this huge rock was concave, and thei 
blood all ran to the centre, where it formed a pool, which 
emitted a sickening smell as the warm vapour ascended to our 
nostrils. It was also a work of great difficulty to keep one's 
feet, as the mingled gore and brains were scattered everywhere 
round this fatal place. The blood of the Crow and the Black 
Foot mingled together in this common pool, for many of our 
warriors fell in this terrible strife. 

All was silent within a few minutes after we had gained an 
entrance. Victims who were making away with their bowels 
ripped open were instantly felled with the battle-axe and stilled 
in death. The wounded were cared for by their friends, and 
the dead removed from sight. Upward of forty Crows were 
killed, and double the number wounded. There were engaged 
on the side of the Crows about twenty white men, and only one 
was wounded, though nearly all scaled the wall with the 
Indians. Mildrum was seriously injured by leaping from the 
heights after an Indian, but he soon recovered. 

Our spoils were one hundred and sixty scalps, and 
immense quantity of guns and ammunition, a large amount of 
dried meats, with arrows, lances, knives, in great abundance. 

Here an incident happened with my little wife and mother 
worth mentioning. They were seated outside, and under the 
wall, when Owl Bear, one of the chiefs, happening to pass, 
asked the girl if she was not the wife of the Enemy of Horses. 
She answered that she was. 

" I thought so," he said, "because you are such a pretty 



I 




JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 169 

little squaw ; but you have no husband now ; he was shot 
through the head in the fort, and instantly killed ; and here 
you are playing with sticks ! " 

The poor thing, together wath her mother, screamed out at 
the intelligence, and, seizing a battle-axe, each cut off a finger. 
The girl then stabbed her forehead with a knife, and was 
instantly dripping with blood. The chief came laughing to 
me, and said, " That little wife of yours loves you better than 
any of your other wives." 

" How do you know ? " I inquired. 

" Because I told them all you were dead, and she was the 
only one that cut off a finger ; " and he laughed aloud as he 
passed on. 

Soon, however, she climbed the wall, and forced her way 
into the fort, and came directly to me. She presented a 
sickening spectacle, and was covered entirely with blood. 
Seeing me, she burst into tears, and as soon as she could 
articulate, said, " Why, you are not dead, after all ! Owi Bear 
told me you were killed, and I came to seek your body." 

" Who are you mourning for? " I asked ; "is your brother 
-or father scalped ? " 

"No; I mourned because I thought you were killed; Owl 
Bear told me you were." 

" You must not believe all you hear," I said ; " some Indians 
have crooked tongues. But come and spread your robe, and 
carry this gun and spoils of my first victim to the village, and 
there wash your face and bind up your finger." 

She did as I directed her, and departed. 

As soon as we had collected all the trophies bequeathed us 
hy our fallen foes, and gathered all our own dead, we moved 
back to the new camp. On our way, I exerted myself to the 
utmost to console the afflicted mourners. I told them that 
their friends were happy in the spirit land, where there were 
no enemies to fight, where all was everlasting contentment, 
•and where they were happy in endless amusement. I said 
that in a few days I would avenge the fall of our warriors, and 
depart for that peaceful land myself. 

' I could plainly see that this last promise afforded them more 
satisfaction than all my other consoling remarks ; but I disliked 



170 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



1 

e of ' 



I 



to see their horrid fashion of mourning, and my promise 
future victory speedily washed their faces of their present 
grief ; for a promise from me was confided in by all the tribe Jl 
There was, of course, no dancing, for we had lost too many^f 
warriors ; but in the evening there was great visiting through- 
out the village, to talk over the events of the day, and hear th 
statements of those who had taken part in the battle. Lon 
Hair came to the lodge of my father to congratulate me on m 
great feat in scaling the wall, and to talk of the victory of his 
people achieved through my valour. All who were present 
related the deeds they had performed. As each narrated hi 
exploits, all listened with profound attention. 

While this was going on, my little wife, who sat near by 
crawled behind me, and, whispering in my ear, inquired if 
had obtained any coos. These coos she inquired after are i 
same as counts in a game of billiards : the death of one warrio: 
counts as one ; of two warriors counts as two ; every battle 
axe or gun taken counts one to the victor's merit. I said I] 
had not, at which she looked aghast. But when the question 
was put to me by the chief shortly after, I answered " Eleven.' 
On this she administered eleven taps on my back with heri 
finger, and again whispered, ' ' Ah ! I thought your tongue was- 
crooked when you told me you had no coos." All the coos are 
registered in the great medicine lodge in favour of the bravi 
who wins them. 

I trust that the reader does not suppose that I waded through.: 
these scenes of carnage and desolation without some serious* 
reflections on the matter. Disgusted at the repeated acts of 
cruelty I witnessed, I often resolved to leave these wild children 
of the forest and return to civilized life ; but before I could act 
upon my decision, another scene of strife would occur, and the 
Enemy of Horses was always the first sought for by the tribe. 
I had been uniformly successful so far ; and how I had escaped, 
while scores of warriors had been stricken down at my side^ 
was more than I could understand. I was well aware that 
many of my friends knew of the life I was leading, and I almost 
feared to think of the opinions they must form of my character. 
But, in justification, it may be urged that the Crows had never 
shed the blood of the white man during my stay in their camp^ 






JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 171 

and I did not intend they ever should, if I could raise a voice 
to prevent it. They v^ere constantly at war v^ith tribes who 
coveted the scalps of the white man, but the Crows were 
uniformly faithful in their obligations to my race, and would 
I rather serve than injure their white brethren without any con- 
I sideration of profit. 

i In addition to this, Self-interest would whisper her counseL 

I knew I could acquire the riches of Croesus if I could but 

, dispose of the valuable stock of peltry I had the means of 

I accumulating. I required but an object in view to turn the 

attention of the Indians to the thousands of traps that were 

laid by to rust. I would occasionally use arguments to turn 

them from their unprofitable life, and engage them in peaceful 

industry. But I found the Indian would be Indian still, in 

; spite of my efforts to improve him. 

! They would answer, " Our enemies steal our horses ; we 

! must fight and get them back again, or steal in turn. Without 

I horses we can make no surrounds, nor could we, to protect our 

t lives, fight our foes when they attack our villages." 

I Of course these arguments were unanswerable. So long as 

they were surrounded with enemies, they must be prepared to 

defend themselves. The large majority of Indian troubles 

' arise from their unrestrained appropriation of each other's 

horses. It is their only branch of wealth ; like the miser with 

his gold, their greed for horses cannot be satisfied. All their 

I other wants are merely attended to from day to day ; their 

; need supplied, they look no farther ; but their appetite for 

I horses is insatiable : they are ever demanding more. 

I Mildrum and myself had a long conversation on the subject 

j while he was smarting from the injury he received in leaping 

I from the fort. He would say, ** Beckwourth, I am pretty well 

used to this Indian life ; there is a great deal in it that charms 

me. But when I think of my old Kentucky home — of father, 

mother, and other friends whom I tenderly love, and with 

whom I could be so happy, I wonder at the vagabond spirit 

that holds me here among these savages, fighting their battles^ 

and risking my life and scalp, which I fairly suppose exceeds in 

value ten thousand of these blood-thirsty heathen. How, in 

the name of all that is sacred, can we reconcile ourselves to 

it ? Why don't we leave them ? " 



172 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



id, 

I 



The medicine men held a council, and resolved to remove' 
village ; the Great Spirit was displeased with the spot, and had 
therefore suffered all our warriors to be killed. We acco: 
dingly pulled up stakes and moved a short distance farther. 

While we were busy moving, my little squaw angered mi 
and I drove her away. She not daring to disobey me, I saw 
no more of her until she supposed my anger was appeased. 
She then came to the lodge while I was conversing with my 
brothers, and, putting her childish head into the door, sai 
humbly, " I know you are angry with me, but I want you i 
come and stay at our lodge to-night; we are outside th 
village, and my father and mother are afraid." 

" Yes," said my brother, " she has no ears now ; she is bx 
a child ; she will have ears when she grows older ; you ha 
better go and protect the old people." 

I told her to run home, and I would soon follow. 

I went to the lodge accordingly. In the night I heard th 
snorting of horses, which were tied near the lodge door 
crept softly out and looked carefully around. I then crawled 
without the least noise, out of the lodge, and caught sight 
an Indian, who I knew was there for no good purpose 
was using the utmost precaution ; he had a sharp-pointe 
stick, with which he raised the leaves that lay in his way. 
so that his feet might not crush them, and thus alarm i 
inmates of the lodge. Every step brought him nearer to t] 
animals, who, with necks curved and ears erect, gave 
occasional snort at the approach of the Indian. This would 
bring him to a halt. Then again he would bring his stick into 
action, and prepare a place for another step, not mistrusting 
that he was approaching the threshold of death. The ropes 
were tied close to the lodge door, and to untie them he must 
approach within six feet of where I lay on the ground. I let 
him advance as near as I thought safe, when, with one bound, 
I grappled him, and gave the war-hoop. He was the hardest 
to hold that ever I had my arms around, but I had both his 
arms pinned in my embrace round his lithe and nimble body, 
and he could not release one so as to draw his knife. Instantly 
we were surrounded with fifty armed warriors ; and when I 
saw a sufficient breastwork round about, I released my hold 






JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 178 

and stepped back. He was riddled with bullets in an instant, 
and fell without a cry. 

His scalp sufficed to wash off the mourning-paint from 
every face in the village, and all was turned into mirth, 
although this general change in feeling did not restore the 
dismembered fingers or heal their voluntary wounds. Greater 
than ever was the Enemy of Horses, and I received a still 
more ennobling appellation, Shas-ka-o-hush-a, the Bobtail 
Horse. The village exhausted itself in showing its admiration 
of my exploit ; and my single scalp was greeted with as much 
honour as if I had slaughtered a hundred of the enemy. 



CHAPTER XV. 

Short Account of Pine Leaf, the Crow Heroine — Twenty Days' Battle wil 
the Cheyennes — Keturn of the Village to the west Side of the Moun 
tains— Letter from M'Kenzie — Visit to his Trading-post at the Moui 
of the Yellow Stone. 



i 



mm 

ill 



IN connection with my Indian experience, I conceive it 
be my duty to devote a few lines to one of the braves! 
women that ever lived, namely, Pine Leaf — in Indian, Bar- 
chee-am-pe. For an Indian, she possessed great intellectual 
powers. She was endowed with extraordinary musculasj 
strength, with the activity of the cat and the speed of tl 
antelope. Her features were pleasing, and her form sym- 
metrical. She had lost a brother in the attack on our villagie^ 
before mentioned — a great brave, and her twin brother, ^m 
was a fine specimen of the race of red men, and bade fair td ■ 
rise to distinction ; but he was struck down in his strength, 
and Pine Leaf was left to avenge his death. She was at that 
time twelve years of age, and she solemnly vowed that she 
would never marry until she had killed a hundred of the enemy 
with her own hand. Whenever a war-party started. Pine Leaf 
was the first to volunteer to accompany them. Her presence 
among them caused much amusement to the old veterans ; but 
if she lacked physical strength, she always rode the fleetest 
horses, and none of the warriors could outstrip her. All ad- 
mired her for her ambition, and as she advanced in years, 
many of the braves grew anxious for the speedy accomplish- 
ment of her vow. She had chosen my party to serve in, and 
when I engaged in the fiercest struggles, no one was more 
promptly at my side than the young heroine. She seemed 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 175 

incapable of fear ; and when she arrived at womanhood, could 
fire a gun without flinching, and use the Indian weapons with 
as great dexterity as the most accomplished warrior. 

I began to feel more than a common attachment toward her. 
Her intelligence charmed me, and her modest and becoming 
demeanour singled her out from her sex. One day, while 
riding leisurely along, I asked her to marry me provided we 
both returned safe. She flashed her dark eye upon mine. 
•*' You have too many already," she said. " Do you suppose I 
would break my vow to the Great Spirit ? He sees and knows 
all things ; he would be angry with me, and would not sufier 
me to live to avenge my brother's death." 

I told her that my medicine said that I must marry her, and 
then I could never be vanquished or killed in battle. She 
laughed and said, ** Well, I will marry you." 

'* When we return ? " 

" No ; but when the pine-leaves turn yellow." 

I reflected that it would soon be autumn, and regarded her 
promise as valid. A few days afterward it occurred to my mind 
that pine-leaves do not turn yellow, and I saw I had been 
practised upon. 

When I again spoke to her on the subject, I said, " Pine 
Leaf, you promised to marry me when the pine-leaves should 
turn yellow : it has occurred to me that they never grow 
yellow." 

She returned no answer except a hearty laugh. 

" Am I to understand that you never intend to marry me? " 
I inquired. 

" Yes, I will marry you," she said, with a coquettish smile. 

''But when?" 

*' When you shall find a red-headed Indian." 

I saw I advanced nothing by importuning her, and I let the 
matter rest. However, to help her on with her vow, I never 
killed an Indian if she was by to perform it for me, thinking 
that when her number were immolated there might be better 
chance of pressing my suit. 

We frequently shifted our camping-ground, in order to keep 
u^ with the buffalo and furnish our horses with sufficient 
^rass, for we had such an immense number [that the prairie 



176 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



selv^ 



'1 



round our lodges in a few days had the appearance of a closely- 
mown meadow. Finally, we removed to the western side of , 
the mountain again, and encamped on Little Horn Eiver, onfll 
of the sources of the Yellow Stone. Shortly after our encamp^' 
ment we found there was a village of Cheyennes about twelve 
miles distant, and an incessant warfare was maintained between 
the two villages for twenty days. Sometimes they would take 
three or four Crow scalps ; in return, our party would retaliate 
by taking as many of theirs. Thus they went on, with varying 
fortune, during the whole twenty days. 

I had never been engaged in these skirmishes; but one 
evening, I, with three others, among whom was Yellow Belly, 
resolved to go on an adventure. Accordingly, we started for 
the Cheyenne, arriving there the next morning, and unhesitat- 
ingly entered their village while the inmates were quietly 
reposing. After passing through one quarter of the villageBl 
we saw an Indian approaching, who, on perceiving us, wheeled " 
his horse to escape. I shot an arrow into his back, but, before 
he fell, I rode up, cut him down with my battle-axe, and rode 
on. One of our party, not wishing to lose his scalp, dis- 
mounted to take it. In doing so he lost his horse, which 
followed us, leaving his rider on foot close to the enemy' 
village, whence the aroused warriors were issuing like hornets* 
Perceiving his danger, I rode back, and took him up behinc 
me. We had to run for it ; but we made good our escape^ 
driving home before us seven horses captured from the enemy. 
This was considered a great achievement by our Crow brethren, 
and they again washed their faces. 

The enemy now charged upon our village, kiUing six Crow8,;| 
among whom was a brother-in-law of mine. His relatives 
appealed to me to avenge them. Supposing that the enemy 
would renew the attack the next day, I selected one hundred 
and thirty warriors, all well mounted, to waylay them. We 
posted ourselves midway between the belligerent villages, but 
the Cheyennes had passed within a few hundred yards before 
we were in ambush. Being there, the idea occurred to me to 
await their return. On their repulse from the village we would 
spring up and cut off their retreat, and, I made no doubt, 
succeed in killing a great number of their warriors. 



JAMES P. BECKWOVBTH. 177 

It fell out as I had expected. The Crows drove them back 
with a loss to the enemy of four ; and when they neared us, 
their horses were badly jaded, and our friends hotly in pursuit. 
We sprung up, cutting off their retreat, and they, sorely pressed 
in their rear, seeing our party in front cutting down right and 
left, became panic-struck, and fled in all directions. 

We took sixteen scalps, with the horses and equipments of 
the fallen warriors, and returned home in triumph. This 
made twenty scalps taken in one day, which was considered 
by the Crows a glorious victory, and the scalp-dance was 
performed with unusual vivacity. In this battle the heroine 
was by my side, and fought with her accustomed audacity. I 
counted five coos, and she three, for three enemies killed with 
her lance. The Cheyennes, disconcerted with their misadven- 
ture, moved their village away from the Crow territory. 

We also took up our line of march, and moved on to Clarke's 
Fork, a branch of the Yellow Stone, where we found abundance 
of buffalo and good grass. While encamped here I received a 
letter from Mr. M'Kenzie, written at Fort Union, at the mouth 
of the Yellow Stone, where he desired me to see him. It was 
dehvered to me by Mr. Winters, who, in company with one 
man, had found his way unharmed. M'Kenzie wished me to 
see him immediately on business of importance, as he wished, 
through my influence, to establish a trade with the Crows. 

On communicating my intention of performing the journey, 
all expostulated at my going. I gave them my positive word 
that I would return in eighteen suns, if not killed on the. way. 
It was a long and hazardous journey to undertake, having to 
traverse a distance of seven hundred and sixty miles, e^tposed 
to numerous bands of hostile Indians. I succeeded in reaching 
the fort in safety, where I found M'Kenzie with a great stock 
of miscellaneous goods. I arrived late in the afternoon, des- 
patched my business with him hastily, and started on my 
return in the morning. I took ten pack-horses laden with 
goods to trade with the Indians, in addition to which several 
boats were freighted and sent to me up the Yellow Stone. 
Two men accompanied me to the Crow country. We had no 
trouble on our way until we arrived within a few miles of our 
village (as I supposed it), when, as we were marching on, I 

12 



178 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



I 



remarked something unfamiliar in the appearance of the place. 
I ordered the two men to turn their animals up a little valley _^ 
close by, while I took a nearer look at the village. A closerjl 
inspection confirmed my mistake ; I saw the lodges were 
painted a different colour from our own. I followed the pack- ; 
horses, and found a trail which led to the Crow village, andsl 
concealed from the observation of the village we had ap- ■" 
proached. Soon after entering the trail, I discovered the 
fresh tracks of five Indians, going the direction that we were, 
I halted the pack-horses, and rode on to get a sight of them. 
At a short distance I perceived the five men, and, unobserved 
by them, I rode on and entered a low place until I approached 
within a few rods of them. I took a short survey of them, 
and concluded that they must be enemies belonging to the 
village we had just left. They were on foot, and I conceived 
myself a match for the whole five. I levelled my rifle, and 
was taking aim, when my horse moved his head and discon- 
certed my sight. I tried again with precisely the same result. 
I then dismounted, and advanced two or three steps nearer my 
object. As I was about to fire, having the rein on my arm, the 
horse made another motion, thus spoiling my aim for the third 
time. At that moment one of them made a yawning expression? 
in the Crow language, and I was so terrified at his narrow 
escape that the rifle dropped from my hand. I called to them, 
telling them the danger they had escaped. 

" Why," said they, "you would not have attacked five of us? 

"Yes," I said, "and would have killed every one of you,J 
had you been enemies." 

They then informed me that they had lost two men that day^ 
near the village of the Black Feet, who were now, beyond 
doubt, dancing over their scalps. I did not wait to hear more, 
but directed them to return to my horses and assist the men 
in getting on to the Crow village as soon as possible. I rode 
forward to make my arrival known. 

My return was welcomed with the liveliest demonstrations 
of joy by the whole tribe. But I delayed no time in cere- 
monial. I called a council forthwith, and informed them that 
the Black Feet were encamped ten miles distant, that two of 
our warriors had that day fallen by their hands, and that we 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 179 

must go and avenge their death. The chief assented ; but, as 
a preliminary, directed me and another to count their lodges 
that night. I undertook the dangerous task, although extremely 
fatigued with my long journey. We succeeded in the object 
of our expedition, and found their lodges outnumbered ours by 
one. There are, as a general thing, from four to six warriors 
to a lodge ; the Black Foot village comprised two hundred 
and thirty-three lodges ; hence we could form a pretty accu- 
rate estimate of the number of warriors we had to contend 
with. 

Their village was closely watched by our spies ; every move- 
ment made by the enemy was promptly reported to our chief. 
During the night they appeared to sleep soundly, probably 
fatigued with a late dance. But in the morning they were 
astir betimes, and having packed up, started forward in our 
direction, apparently unaware of our presence. On they 
came — men, women, and children — utterly unconscious of the 
terrible shock that awaited them. Our warriors were never 
better prepared for a conflict, and never more certain of 
victory. We were drawn up on a high table prairie, our whole 
force concealed from view at no greater distance than half 
pistol-shot. 

Their chief led the van, and with him were several young 
squaws, who were laughing and dancing around him, evidently 
to his great amusement. They were near enough to launch 
the thunders of war upon them, and our chief gave orders to 
charge. The order was instantly carried into effect. The 
chief who, a moment before, was so joyous, surrounded by his 
tawny young squaws, was the first to fall beneath my battle- 
axe, and his attendants scattered like chaff before the wind. 
We were upon the warriors so unexpectedly that they had 
hardly time to draw their weapons before they were overthrown 
and put to flight. They were encumbered with women, 
children, and baggage. Our attention was directed solely to 
the men ; the women were unharmed, except those who were 
overturned by our horses. 

During the engagement, a powerful Black Foot aimed a blow 
at me with his battle-axe, which Pine Leaf deprived of its 
effect by piercing his body through with her lance. In a few^ 



180 AVTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



■ 



moments the fighting was over, and after pursuing the flying 
enemy through the timber, we returned to collect the spoils of 
victory. We took one hundred and seventy scalps, over one 
hundred and fifty women and children, besides abundance of 
weapons, baggage, and horses. The Crows had twenty-nine 
wounded. 

This was a severe blow to the Black Feet ; such a slaughter 
is of rare occurrence in Indian warfare. Notwithstanding this 
sad defeat, they rallied their broken band, and attacked us 
again in the afternoon ; but it amounted to nothing, and they 
fled in gloomy confusion beyond the Crow territory. 

Pine Leaf never signalized herself more than on this occasion. 
She counted six coos, having killed four of the enemy with her 
own hand. She had but few superiors in wielding the battle- 
axe. My horse was killed by the blow which was aimed at 
my head by the Indian whom the heroine killed. I wore a 
superb head-dress, ornamented with eagles' feathers and weasels' 
tails — the labour of many days. Early in the action, three of 
these tails were severed by a bullet which grazed my head. 
" These Black Feet shoot close," said the heroine, as she saw 
the ornaments fall ; " but never fear ; the Great Spirit will not 
let them harm us." 

I took a very pretty young woman prisoner, but was obliged 
to give her up to one of the braves, who had my promise before 
the battle that if I took one I would give her to him, and if he 
took one he should give her to me. When a warrior (of the 
Crow tribe) takes a woman prisoner, she is considered his sister, j 
and he can never marry her. If she marries, her husband is 
brother-in-law to her captor. Our prisoners soon forgot their 
captivity ; they even seemed pleased with the change, for they 
joined with great alacrity in our scalp-dance over the scalps of 
their own people. 

All Indian women are considered by the stronger sex as 
menials ; they are thoroughly reconciled to their degradation, 
and the superiority of their "lords and masters " is their chief est 
subject of boast. They are patient, plodding, and ambitious, 
although there are instances in savage life of a woman manifest- 
ing superior talent, and making her influence felt upon the 
community. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 181 

During my visit at Fort Union I engaged to build a fort for 
M'Kenzie to store his goods in safety at the mouth of the Big 
Horn Kiver, one of the branches of the Yellow Stone. Ac- 
cordingly, I repaired to the place to select a good site and 
commence operations. On arriving at the spot, I found the 
boats close by, but as there was no secure quay at the junction 
of the streams, I selected a site about a mile below. There 
were fifty men, who had arrived with the boats, hired to assist 
me in erecting the fort. The stipulated dimensions were one 
hundred and twenty yards for each front, the building to be a 
solid square, with a block house at opposite corners. The fort 
was erected of hewn logs planted perpendicularly in the ground ; 
the walls were eighteen feet high. As soon as the pickets were 
up, we built our houses inside, in order to be prepared for the 
approach of winter. When I had been engaged about six 
weeks upon its construction, four hundred lodges of Crows 
moved into our immediate vicinity, thus affording us plenty of 
company, and a sufficient force to protect us against the attacks 
of hostile tribes. 

When we had completed our building we unloaded the boats, 
and commenced trading with the Indians. During the first 
year the company was very unsuccessful, sinking over seventeen 
thousand dollars in the undertaking. This, however, was- 
principally attributable to the outlay upon the fort (the wages 
of the fifty men engaged in constructing it ran for twelve 
months), and to the number of presents which it is customary, 
on such occasions, to distribute among the Indians. 

After the Crows had removed to the fort, they were repeatedly 
annoyed with attacks from different hostile tribes. I was 
engaged in two small encounters during the winter, in both of 
which we were completely victorious. The Crows were fully 
occupied in protecting their own horses, or levying contribu- 
tions upon their neighbours. 

During the winter we accumulated a large amount of peltry, 
which in the spring I sent down to Fort Union in five Mackinaw 
boats, built by ourselves for the purpose. I sent a sufficient 
number of men to take good care of the boats, and to return up 
fetream with a fresh supply of goods. I then left the fort in 
charge of Winters, leaving him thirty men for a guard. I also 



182 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



ghtl 



had provided an ample stock of dried meat, so that they mig" 
avoid the risk of hunting for provisions. 

Early in May we commenced our march in search of summer 
quarters. We travelled by easy stages, and on a circuitous 
route, so that when we finally arrived at Eosebud Creek, a 
branch of the Yellow Stone, we found ourselves but twenty 
miles distant from the fort. 

After we had remained about a week at our encampment, our 
village was infested by a large war-party of Black Feet. It 
happened very fortunately we were building a medicine lodge 
at the time, and our whole force was at home, which circum- 
stance most probably preserved us from a disastrous defeat. 
Our enemies numbered about four thousand warriors, to oppose 
whom we had two thousand eight hundred practised warriors, 
besides the old men, who always acted as village guards. At 
daybreak the enemy advanced upon our village with great 
impetuosity. Our war-horses being tied to our lodge doors, 
the first alarm found our defenders ready mounted to meet the 
assailants. We did not allow them to enter the village, but 
advanced on the plain to meet them. The contest was severe 
for several minutes, and the clash of battle-axes and the fierce 
yells of the opposing forces made the whole prairie tremble. 
The two parties charged alternately, according to the Indian 
mode of warfare ; but the Crows gained ground at every attack, 
for they fought with everything at stake. The fight lasted for 
several hours. Early in the action we discovered a manoeuvre 
of the enemy which would probably have resulted seriously for 
us had we not perceived it in time. About half their force was 
detached to attack us in the rear, and take possession of the || 
village. I formed from fifteen to eighteen hundred warriors 
into a body, and rode down to meet their detachment as it 
wound around the foot of a small hill. They were in quick 
march to gain their position, and approached in seeming 
security. My warriors being formed upon the brow of a hill 
under which the enemy was passing, I gave the order for a 
rush down the hill upon them. The attack was made with 
such irresistible force that everything in our way was over- 
thrown, and warriors and horses were knocked into promiscuous 
piles. We happened to burst upon their centre, thus severing 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 183 

them in two, and the confusion they became involved in was 
so irremediable that their only hope was to get back to their 
main body with as little delay as possible. 

In the attack, a lance thrown by a Black Poot, perforated 
my legging, just grazing the calf of my leg, and entered the 
body of my horse, killing him on the spot. My ever-present 
friend, Pine Leaf, instantly withdrew it, releasing me from a 
very precarious situation, as I was pinned close to the horse, 
and his dying struggles rendered such proximity extremely 
unsafe. I sprang upon the horse of a young warrior who was 
wounded, and called to some of our women to convey the 
wounded man to a place of safety ; the heroine then joined me, 
and we dashed into the conflict. Her horse was immediately 
after killed, and I discovered her in a hand-to-hand encounter 
with a dismounted Black Foot, her lance in one hand and her 
battle-axe in the other. Three or four springs of my steed 
brought me upon her antagonist, and, striking him with the 
breast of my horse when at full speed, I knocked him to the 
earth senseless, and before he could recover, she pinned him to 
the ground with her lance and scalped him. When I had over- 
turned the warrior. Pine Leaf called to me, " Eide on; I have 
him safe now." 

I rode on accordingly, but she was soon mounted again and 
at my side. The surviving Black Feet speedily dispersed, and 
they all retreated together, leaving the Crows master of the 
field. They left behind ninety-one killed, besides carrying off 
many dead with their wounded. We lost thirty-one killed, 
and a large number wounded. I had five horses killed under 
me but received no wound. Our enemies in their retreat, drove 
off sixteen hundred horses, among which were eighty of my own, 
but we had plenty left, and we considered these only lent to 
them. We had no dance, and the relatives of the slain went 
through their usual mourning. 

A few days after this battle a messenger arrived from the 
fort with a request for me to return as quickly as possible, as 
the Black Feet were continually harassing the men, and they 
were in fear of a general attack. Accordingly I returned in the 
latter part of June, and found affairs in a very serious condition. 
The Indians had grown very bold, and it was hazardous to 
venture outside the fort. 



184 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

One morning seven men were sent about one mile away t 
cut house-logs, it being supposed there were no Indians in tin 
vicinity. Some time in the forenoon I heard the report of 
rifle close to our gate, I ran out, and just caught sight of th 
retreating Indians as they entered the bushes. They had shoi 
and scalped one of our men as he was chopping only a few paces' 
from the gate. The danger that the other men might be placed > 
in then occurred to me, and, ordering the men to follow nieHi 
I mounted my horse and hastened to their rescue. I wal"" 
followed by about one half the men, the remainder preferring 
the protection of the wooden w^alls. I soon discovered ou 
men; they were surrounded by forty Indians, the chief ol 
whom appeared to be addressing the sun, and was gesticulatiuj 
with his battle-axe. On his raising his arm, I sent a b 
through his body, and then shouted to the men to run to me 
They started, but one of them w^as shot down before the; 
reached me. The survivors were so terrified that they did no 
dare to stop when they reached me, but continued their coursi 
unslackened until they gained the fort. My followers, seeing 
their alarm, became fugitives in turn, and I was left alone within ^ 
gunshot of the remaining thirty-nine Indians. Uttering deafen^ 
ing yells, they made a rush for me ; my horse became frightened: 
and I could scarcely mount him. However, by running by his 
side a few paces, I managed to leap on his back, and retreated 
at full speed, while their bullets and arrows flew around me 
like hail. When I approached the fort, a voice near me cried, 
" Oh, Jim ! don't leave me here to be killed." 

I wheeled round, and, with my double-barrelled gun in my 
hand, made a charge toward the whole approaching party, who, 
seeing my resolute bearing, turned and scampered off. I rode 
up to the person who had called me, and found him an old man, 
who was unable to run, and had been abandoned by his valorous 
companions to the mercy of the savages. I assisted him on to 
my horse, and was about to spring on behind him, when the 
horse sprang forward, leaving the old man's gun behind, and 
carried him safely to the fort. By this time the Indians had 
returned upon me. I ran wherever a shelter offered itself ; 
and, w^hen closely pressed, would face round and menace them 
with my guns. Within a few hundred yards of the fort I came 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 185 

to a small covering which had been used as a shelter by the 
horse-guards, and I sprang into it, with the Indians at my heels. 
After expending the contents of my guns, I plied them with 
arrows to their hearts' content, until they gave up the fray and 
retired. This took place in fair view of the fort, when not one 
of its doughty inmates dare come to my assistance, and who 
even refused to resign their fire-arms to the women, who were 
anxious to come to my rescue. 

When at length I succeeded in reaching the fort, I favoured 
the men with my unreserved opinion of them. I had been the 
means of saving their lives even after the chief of the savages- 
had returned thanks to the sun for their scalps, which he had 
already deemed secure. I really believe that with Pine Leaf 
and three other squaws, I could have stormed and taken the 
fort from their possession. 

These men were not mountaineers ; they were nearly all 
Canadians, and had been hired in the East ; they were unused 
to savage warfare, and only two of them had seen an Indian 
battle. If they had come out like men, we might have killed 
one half the Indians, and I should have been spared a good 
deal of hard feeling. They acknowledged, however, that I had 
flogged the Indians alone, and that six of them were indebted 
to me for their lives. 

In July, after the arrival of the boats, the Crows again re- 
turned to the fort. They came to make purchases with what 
small means they possessed, as they had disposed of all their 
peltry on their previous visit. They, however, brought in a 
great quantity of roots, cherries, berries, &c., which they traded 
for articles of necessity : they also sold sixty horses, which we 
sent to M'Kenzie at the lower fort (Clarke). 

It greatly charms the Indians to see new goods ; when they 
have the means to buy there is no end to their purchases. 
When the lances, battle-axes, and guns are spread before their 
eyes, glittering with their burnished steel, notwithstanding 
they may have a dozen serviceable weapons at home, they must 
infallibly purchase a new one. If one purchases, all must 
follow ; hence there is no limit to their demand but the very 
important one imposed by the extent of their exchangeable 
commodities. 



I 



186 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 



',a]|| 



The newly-arrived boats were manned with Canadians 
strangers in the country, nearly all having been imported for 
iDoating, as they were willing to submit to the hardships of 
tsuch a life for a smaller remuneration than men hired in the 
States. On their arrival, their brethren related a thousand 
tales about the Indians, and what feats I had performed 
against them single-handed. They listened to the marvellous 
tales, and gazed at me in wondering admiration. 

When Canadians are fairly broken in, and have becom 
familiar with Indian character, they make the best of Indian 
fighters, especially when put to it in defence of their own lives 
They become superior trappers too, being constituted, liki 
their native ponies, with a capacity to endure the extremesi 
hardships and privations, and to endure starvation for an in- 
credible long period. 



4 



CHAPTEE XVI. 

Departure from Fort Cass — Capture of Squaws — Battle with the Black Feet ; 
with the Cheyennes — Great success of the Crows in stealing Horses 
— A successful Fall for Beaver — Keturn to the Fort with Peltry. 

I 

AFTER having arranged everything in the fort (which I 
have forgotten to mention we named after Mr. Cass), 
I and given all needful instructions to Winters, who was 
; in charge, I again left. My intention was to induce the 
': Crows to devote their undivided attention to trapping, not 
I alone for their own benefit, but for the interest of the company 
1 in whose service I was engaged. I well knew that if I was 
I with them they would catch five beavers to one if left to them- 
selves. I had obtained great influence in the medicine lodge, 
■ and could often exert it to prevent a war-party from making a 
I useless excursion against their enemies. I would tell them in 
their council that my medicine told me not to go to war ; that 
it was to their interest to employ their warriors in trapping all 
the beavers possible, so that they might have the means of 
purchasing ammunition and weapons for themselves, as well 
•as beads, scarlet cloth, and blankets for the women; that by 
' and by we should be attacked by the enemy, and be un- 
provided with the means of defence; that they would then kill 
all our warriors, and make captives of our women and 
I -children, as the Cheyennes had captured my mother when I 
I was an infant, many winters gone ; that they should save all 
their warriors against a time of need, and only engage in war 
when the safety of their village was at stake. 

These representations would frequently dissuade them from 
their belligerent purpose, and beaver-skins would be brought 



188 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



theifi 



into the village by the pack ; but they would soon tire of 
pacific occupation, and their enemies' horses would offer them 
temptations which they could not resist. 

Nearly all the Crows having left the fort before I did, only 
few warriors remained to bear me company. I engaged 
meet them at the mouth of the Little Horn within a giv] 
number of nights, and I knew I should be expected, 
arrived in safety at the place appointed, and within the time 
had specified. 

Soon after our arrival, it was proposed to send out a w 
party, not so much to fight as to reconnoitre ; to see where 
horses could with least difficulty be procured, and gain a 
general intelligence of how matters stood. We set out, and ^^^Uk 
travelled slowly along for nearly two weeks, when our scouts . 
returned to apprise us that there was a large crowd of womeu^ 
approaching towards us. We were then in a forest of ph 
trees, bearing large red plums, which were fully ripe, 
were very delicious. Feeling satisfied that the women wei 
coming to gather fruit, we secreted ourselves, intending, at a 
given signal, to surround them while they were busily 
employed. Accordingly, we waited until they all set thei)|l 
selves about their task, they keeping up an incessant jabbet 
among themselves like so many blackbirds or bob-o-links, and^ 
having no suspicion that the Crows would so soon come in fc 
their share. At a sound from the whistle, they were entire^ 
surrounded, and their merry chatter was hushed in an instani 
We marched them to an open piece of ground, made then 
form a line, and proceeded to make a selection. The aged, the 
ill-favoured, and the matrons we withdrew from the body, 
telling them to return to the village, and depart without 
clamour. They went away in sullenness, with their eye^ 
flashing fire. The remainder, to the number of fifty-nine, 
very attractive looking young women, we carried along witli 
us ; and as we were but three miles distant from their village, 
and could plainly see the smoke of their lodges, we deemed it 
prudent to lose no time in making our way home. There 
were three warriors in the company of the women when first 
descried, but they were not enclosed in our surround, and we 
could find no traces of them in any direction. 



luieu : 

3 

a 

3eT" 
nd 



JAMES P. BECKWOVRTB. 189 

On our return toward home the captives were, as usual, 
gloomy for an hour or two ; but they very quickly brightened, 
and amused us with their smiles and conversation during the 

; whole of the journey. In four days we reached the village, 
and were received with " thunders of applause." Four of the 

i prisoners were adjudged my prizes, who, according to Indian 

I customs, became my sisters. For my services in this expedi- 
. tion I was honoured with the name of Boah-hish-a (Ked Fish). 

Our prisoners were kindly received, and treated with becoming 

attention. I carried my four sisters to my lodge, and dis- 

' tributed them among my relatives. They were all married to 

; Crow braves, and added materially to the strength of my band 

of relatives ; for it is esteemed a great honour to marry the 

sister of a great brave, which appellation I had long borne. 

Pine Leaf had captured two prisoners, and offered me one of 

i them to wife. I answered, " You once told me I had already 

; wives enough. I will not add to their number until I marry 

the heroine of the Crow nation." 

" Ah, you have found the red-handed Indian, then," she said, 
laughing mockingly. 

■ She always received my advances with this unsatisfactory 
\ nonchalance, that it was with some unpleasantness of feeUng 

I I approached the subject. But the more I saw of her lofty 

■ bearing, and witnessed the heroic deeds that she performed, the 
1 more ardent became my attachment to her. When she was 

by my side in battle, it seemed as if I had increased strength 
and courage ; when she was away, which happened rarely, I 
! felt a vacancy which no other warrior could supply. There 
' was none bolder than herself, and she knew it ; there were 
others of greater strength, but her deficiency in muscular 
power was more than indemnified by her cat-like agility, and 
she would kill her man while others were preparing to attack. 
There was one thing that irritated the noble girl's curiosity, 
and that wa.s the war-path secret. Having killed many in 
battle, having followed where any dared to lead, " Why am I 
debarred from that important communication?" she would 
ask. " Why am I sent off with the women and children, when 
that secret is told the warriors of but one battle ? " 
I would tell her that the misfortune of her sex rendered it 



190 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



^Kr 



impossible that she could ever have the secret unveile 
her ; that, should she break her trust, she would surely pay i 
the forfeit v^ith her life. She would become angry at su^l 
representations, and her black eyes would glow like fire. *■ 

Soon after this capture, a band of Black Feet made reprisals 
by breaking our enclosure and take seven hundred horses. II 
immediately collected a small party and went in pursuit. • Wl" 
speedily overtook them, and recovered all the horses except 
sixty, bearing the enemy, who precipitately fled, leaving two 
of their party dead. On our return we were received with 
the usual demonstrations of joy, and the horse-dance was pe 
formed by the village, together with the scalp-dance, whi 
lasted nearly all night. 

About this time my allied friend raised a war-party, a 
went in quest of the enemy ; the heroine, ever active and pn 
pared, accompanying him. I stayed behind. They returm 
in a few days, bringing eight scalps of the Coutnees — one o' 
the bands of the Black Feet. They had lost two of their 
warriors, much to the annoyance of the heroine, as she w; 
prevented from dancing, although she had counted two coo^ 
She then declared that she would go to war no more, except 
my company ; but she had to break her word, and the next time 
she engaged in fight she received a severe wound. Shewishe 
me to raise a force immediately, and go and kill an enemy, 
that she could wash her face. I declined, however, on th 
ground that I was soon to go to the fort, and that I would 
engage in no hostile encounters until my return. gj 

When a war party loses one of its members, the survivortsi 
are compelled to wear their mourning-paint, until that same 
party, or an individual member of it, has wiped out the blot 
by killing one of the enemy without incurring loss of life. 
Thus it not unfrequently happens, when no opportunity of 
avenging a loss occurs, that the mourners wear paint for 
months, regularly renewing it as it wears off. 

Small parties were continually going out and returning with 
varying success. The grand total of horses stolen by the 
Crows from all other tribes during that year amounted to 
nearly six thousand head. During the same period, however, 
they lost a great number stolen from them. 



3ir , 

I 

ne '■ 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 191 

I visited the fort again in October, with three hundred 
lodges of the Indians, the remainder following us in a few 
days. A great number of the Indians had been busy with 
their traps for about two months, and we took into the fort a 
great quantity of peltry, which procured for the Indians every- 
thing they needed, besides finery for the women. 

When I arrived, IJwas informed that the head-hunter of the 
fort had been killed during my absence. 

" Now," said Pine Leaf, " you will go to war for one of 

! your people, and I will go with you, so that I can wash my face." 

; The fort had been subject to alarms during the whole time 

1 of my absence, but had only lost the man here referred to. 

j As soon as the Indians had finished their trading, I directed 

I them to move to the Yellow Stone, as far up as " Pompey's 

Tower," telling them that I would join them in four nights. 

Then, as soon as I could get ready, I loaded twelve pack- 

: horses with goods for retail, and, taking two Canadians with 

i me, I went on and joined the village at the appointed place. 

1 This much performed, I then attended to the frequent 

I solicitations of the heroine, by leading a party, and going in 

pursuit of the Black Feet to chastise them, as I told the 

' Crows, for killing the white hunter. We were absent eleven 

days, and returned with only four scalps and seventy-four 

horses. I received an arrow in my head; and there were 

three other warriors wounded, but none killed. The heroine 

then washed her face of the mourning-paint, which she had 

been grieving about so long. 

At this time I was third counsellor of the nation, having 
been fifth and fourth previously. In the Crow nation there 
,are six counsellors, and by them the nation is ruled. There 
I are also two head chiefs, who sit with the counsel whenever it 
is in session. The office of first counsellor is the highest in 
the nation, next to the head chiefs, whose authority is equal. 
[f in any of these divisions, when a matter is brought to the vote, 
jhe suffrages are equal, one of the old pipe-men is summoned 
3efore the council, and the subject under discussion is stated 
10 him, with the substance of the arguments advanced on both 
jides ; after hearing this he gives his casting vote, and the 
luestion is finally settled. 



192 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



)y tJi 



« 



H 



When war is declared on any tribe, it is done by 
council. If any party goes out without the authority of the | 
council, they are all severely whipped ; and their whipping is 
no light matter, as I can personally testify. It makes 
difference how high the offender ranks, or how great his po 
larity with the nation — there is no favour shown ; the m 
who disobeys orders is bound to be lashed, and if he resists 
resents the punishment, he suffers death. 

We raised a war-party of three hundred men to act again 
the Cheyennes, having one of the head chiefs as leader. We j 
moved on foot toward their country, which was about two 
hundred and fifty miles from our village. In this expedition 
acted in the capacity of head spy, and was of necessity coi 
tinually in advance of the main party. Being near the enemy," 
according to our calculations, I was some distance ahead, 
with four other spies, w^hen we discovered five of the 
Cheyenne warriors in the act of dressing a buffalo, which th 
had just killed. We crept slyly up within gunshot of the 
and each singled out his man and fired. Four fell at the dis 
charge : the other mounted his horse and fled. I mounted, 
one of the other horses, and pursued him within sight of hisj 
village, when I wheeled and returned to the camp, well 
knowing that we should be pursued immediately after' 
the fugitive communicated his news. I found the camj: 
readily, and acquainted the chief with what had happened, 
although it is against orders for spies to commence any attack. 
I told him that we were compelled to fight them to save ourj 
own lives, as the enemy had discovered us. " That is air 
right," he said, "but they will be soon after us, and we must 
retreat as fast as we can." 

We returned on our steps without losing a moment, and 
travelled all night. It was very cold, with considerable snow 
on the ground. In the morning we built a fire, and as soon as 
we had warmed ourselves we moved on. One man, who was 
lame, lingered by the fire after we had left, and he rejoined us 
in great alarm, telling us that the Cheyennes were on our trail 
in great force, and were but a short distance behind us. Wo 
then put our boys and horses into a deep gully close by, and 
also stepped in ourselves, as soon as we had discharged cue 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 193 

volley at our pursuers, who were then within short gunshot 
distance. They numbered from fifteen hundred to two 
thousand warriors, all mounted, while we were but a very few 
warriors, and had not more than a dozen horses in all. We 
were in a strong position, however, one which they dared not 
to storm, even with their whole force. Frequently a few more 
daring cavaliers would advance to the edge of the bank, and 
hurl their lances into our midst ; but they rarely escaped our 
bullets. We had killed and wounded a great number in this 
manner, which taught our foe to be more cautious in his ap- 
proaches ; when our chief, losing heart, declared there was no 
hope for us, and that we infalUbly should be all "rubbed 
out." 

He addressed his son, a lad about sixteen years of age, in 
the following strain: "My son, we shall be all killed here. 
The Cheyennes are very brave, and they have a cloud of 
warriors before us. It must never be said that my son was 
killed by them, therefore I must kill you myself before I die. 
Die, my son, first ! " 

In an instant his son was a corpse, prostrate at the feet of 
his savage father. This, thought I, is the first time I ever saw 
a person killed to save his life. The actions of the old chief 
, were wild throughout the whole proceeding. After killing 
his son, he rushed upon the top of the bank, and addressed 
; himself to the enemy, an exposed mark to their arrows, as 
follows : 

" Ho, Cheyennes ! here I am ! come and kill me ! I am the 
great chief of the Crows. Come and kill me first, and then 
you can easily kill my warriors. Many of your braves have 
fallen by my hand ; their scalps darken my lodge. Come ! 
come and kill me ! " 

I was astonished at such rashness, and still more astonished 
it the enemy, who, on seeing him a fair mark for their bullets, 
3ven withdrew to a greater distance, and appeared to be per- 
'ectly paralyzed. After a while, our head chief descended, 
md took a long smoke at his pipe. The enemy retired without 
iroubhng us farther. In the night we decamped, and made all 
)0S8ible haste to our village, where we arrived in safety with- 
)ut any molestation from the enemy. The chief attributed 

18 



I 




194 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTE. 

whom 



i 



our escape to the interposition of the Great Spirit 
sacrifice of his son had propitiated in our behalf. 

We killed fourteen of the enemy while in our entrenchme 
making eighteen, and wounded a great number. We had 
eight killed, including the chief's son, and ten or eleven slightly 
wounded. 

When we arrived at home there was great mourning, and we 
all assumed paint on our faces as usual. But we wore it only 
a short time before we took ample revenge. Pine Leaf did not 
accompany us on this expedition. 



CHAPTEE XVII. 

Tictory over the Cheyennea — Treachery of the Snake Indians — Loss of six 
Crow Warriors — Victory over the Snakes and Utahs—A Mountaineer 
killed — Trouble in the Wigwam — I am disgraced — Great Sacrifice of 
my Father's Property — Three Whippings for violating Crow Morals — 
Great Battle with the Ke-ka-ras. 

FOUK days after our return, our chief, still smarting at the 
sacrifice he had made for the salvation of his people, 
hurned for revenge. He selected a body of over two hundred 
warriors, and started forthwith in search of the enemy. 
j The night following his departure, I also raised two hundred 
I men, and started in a contrary direction. We proceeded on 
until we came to Laramie Forks, where Fort Laramie has 
since been built, and were in sight of a Cheyenne village. 
While we were surveying the village, eleven of their men, 
laden with meat, came up and encamped within a few hundred 
yards of where we were. We immediately threw ourselves 
flat upon the ground, resolved to wait until the coming of 
night, in order to make secure work of our attack on them, 
and prevent any of their number escaping to alarm the village. 
I At a late hour we silently approached their camp when they 
•were all sound asleep ; a dozen guns were discharged at them 
jin a moment, and we rushed in with our battle-axes to com- 
plete the work. We took their scalps, and were soon on the 
retreat, bearing away all the meat we needed, besides nineteen 
•lorses, and the slain warriors' equipments. We returned to 
bhe village, and washed off the mourning-paint, making the 
vhole village ring with our dancing and rejoicing. The 
idditional name of Ar-ra-e-dish (the Bloody Arm) was con- 
erred upon me. 




196 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



■giovm 
e nial 



The old chief came in three days subsequently, bringing 
teen scalps and equipments, without having lost a single 

Many of my readers will doubtless wonder how a man wh"" 
had been reared in civilized life could ever participate in such 
scenes of carnage and rapine. I have already related that I j 
was brought up where similar outrages were committed upon j 
the defenceless inhabitants of the new settlements. Impressed j 
with the recollection of these early scenes, I hardly ever struck ! 
down an Indian but my mind reverted to the mangled bodies ; 
of my childish play- fellows, which I discovered on my way to 
the mill, barbarously murdered by the savages. -In after years 
I have experienced the natural ferocity of the savage, whOj 
thirsts for the blood of the white man for no other purp( 
than to gratify the vindictive spirit that animates him. I ha^ 
seen the paths of the trappers dyed with their blood, dra\ 
from their hearts by the ambushed savage, who never km 
mercy, but remorsely butchered all who came in his wj 
Such is Indian nature. When I fought with the Crow natio^ 
I fought in their behalf against the most relentless enemies 
the white man. If I chose to become an Indian while livi 
among them, it concerned no person but myself ; and by doi 
so, I saved more life and property for the white man than a! 
whole regiment of United States regulars could have done in 
the same time. 

Before I close this narrative, I shall take the liberty to ex- 
press my opinions, and afford those having control of the War 
Department some counsel about the cheapest, most expeditious, 
and most certain method of quelling their Indian troubles, on 
which the newspapers are harping so much. I know that with 
five hundred men of my selection I could exterminate any 
Indian tribe in North America in a very few months. But so 
long as our government continues to enlist the offscouring of 
European cities into our army, and entrusts the command to 
inexperienced officers fresh from West Point, just so long 
will they afford food for the Indians in and about the Rocky 
Mountains. Encumbered as our army is with baggage-wag- 
gons and artillery, an Indian chief can move his whole com- 
munity farther in one day than our soldiers can follow them in 
three. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 197 

When our victorious celebration was over, I started on a 
small trading expedition to the Snake Indians. I had received 
ap invitation from their chief to trade among them, and I 
selected eight warriors to accompany me. On arriving at 
their village, I found that the Utahs had joined them, and a 
great number of them were thronging the village. Knowing 
that the Utahs and Crows were deadly enemies, I sedulously 
watched their movements, and very speedily felt distrust for 
the safety of myself and party, as the whole camp savoured 
strongly of treachery. I mustered my little party around me, 
ind found them without guns. On inquiring the cause, they in- 
•ormed me they had traded them away for horses. I suppose 
I my looks expressed my disapprobation. Mistaking me, they 
isaid there was yet one fine horse left, which I could have at 
(the price of my gun. 

j I had finished my traflic, and had disposed of everything 

I except my gun, when the Snakes came to me and offered to 

j-rade for that. I said, " No; I never sell my gun, except 

,'Vhen at home and among my own people." The Snakes then 

I old us to go, that things were bad in their camp. We sprang 

ipon our horses, and struck out at full speed ; but we soon 

Uscovered a large party of Indians were in close pursuit. We 

i hen found they had not sold us their fastest horses, as they 

gained on some of my party, and shot and scalped them with- 

i'Ut our abihty to defend them. I succeeded in reaching the 

laountain with two of my men, having lost six noble young 

'varriors in my flight. I knew there would be terrible mourning 

;nd loss of fingers, until I could teach the Snakes a lesson 

l^hich would serve them to remember for a long time. 

j After devoting a short space to bewailing my misfortune, I 

bquested a council to be called, and never did I enlarge with 

iich wrathful vehemence as I then fulminated against the 

nakes, holding them up to the abhorrence of the fathers for 

leir treachery in decoying our unsuspecting warriors into their 

(imp, and then letting loose a pack of murderous savages at 

!iir heels, after we had, through their complicity, parted with our 

ily^means of defence. I demanded five hundred warriors to 

) and wipe out the stain, and inflict summary chastisement 

1 the village for their duplicity. 



198 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



■ 



le , 

I 



My argument was listened to with the prof oundest attention, 
and all I proposed was readily acceded to. ** Let the Red 
Arm have all that he asks," was the unanimous voice of the 
assembly. 

My warriors rallied around me almost at a moment' 
notice, and we mounted our horses and sped in the directio 
of the Snake country, on Green River. On the eighth day our 
scouts came in and reported that they had found a large 
number of the Snakes, scattered in small parties, who were 
engaged in killing buffalo. We held on until we came in sight 
of them. I distributed my warriors as the occasion suggested, 
ordering them to attach the various small camps, while I, with 
my party, should attack their main body. They were over-.^ 
thrown and dispersed by my brave warriors, with severe los^il 
We took over one hundred scalps, and a great quantity of' 
guns and other warlike implements. We had sixteen men : 
wounded, including myself (I received two slight wounds froif I 
arrows), but none of them dangerously. This blow broughf* 
the Snakes to their senses, and they immediately sent a depu 
tation to our village to sue for peace. 

A circumstance happened on the evening preceding o 
attack which caused me the deepest regret. While the spi 
were reconnoitring, they perceived two Indians, as they sup- 
posed, leave the enemy's camp, and proceed down the cafion. 
This circumstance they reported to me. I ordered them to{l 
return, and kill them if they could find them. They went in " 
pursuit of the two stragglers, and when they came in sight of 
them they had their robes over their heads, and were kneeling 
down over a fire. They fired, and one of the two fell mortally 
wounded ; the other sprang out of his robe, when to their 
surprise, they saw he was a white man. They, however, took 
him prisoner, and brought him to my camp. I was absent at 
their return ; but on the following morning I remarked a very 
dejected look on their countenances, and I asked them what 
was the matter. 

''We have done very bad," said one; "we have reddened 
our hands with the blood of the white man." 

" Well, how did it occur ? " I enquired. 

" Ask that white man, and he will tell you all." 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 199 

I walked up to the unhappy prisoner, whose looks betrayed 
the keenest anguish, and addressed him in English. 

<' How are you, my friend? " 

He started as if electrified, and looked me closely in the 
face. 

"What brought you here ? " I continued. 

*'I was brought here by these Indians, who killed my com- 
panion while we were building a fire to warm ourselves. I 
suppose I am brought here to be killed also ? '' 

" No, my friend," I said, *' you are safe. The Crows never 
kill white men." 

"Are these Crows ? " 

"Yes." 

" Well, well ! Then you must be Mr. Beckwourth ? " 

" Yes, that is my name. And now, without the least fear 
of danger, relate the occurrence fairly : if my warriors have 
killed a wliite man intentionally, they shall be punished." 

He then related how he and his companion went into the 
canon, and how they made a fire to render themselves com- 
fortable away from the Indian camp ; how that their robes 
were over their heads, entirely concealing their faces from 
view, and that he felt fully confident that my warriors, in 
firing on them, had mistaken them for Indians. 

" Well," I said, " since the mistake is so apparent, you will 
greatly serve me to make the same statement to your com- 
panions when you return to your camp ; for the Crows are 
entirely innocent of any design to shed the blood of the white 
man, and it would be deplorable for any misunderstanding to 
arise in consequence of this lamentable occurrence." 

"I shall make a fair statement of the fact," he said, " and 
should be very sorry to be the means of any trouble." 

He then informed me that he and his late companion were 
trappers ; that his party were in winter-quarters, and encamped 
with the main body of the Snakes ; and that they had come out 
with this party after meat. I then gave him my reasons for 
attacking the Snakes, and begged him to commend me to all 
the old mountaineers. 

"There is not a day passes," he said, "but some one 
mentions you, to wonder where you are, and what you are 



200 AUTOBIOGliAPHY OF 

now doing. I can tell them all that I have seen you, and 
conversed vt^ith you." 

I then told him he was at liberty to go at any time ; that ha 
could take all the horses belonging to him, and all else that hej 
needed. We assisted him with the body of his unhappy friend 
upon the back of a horse, and, bidding me adieu, he departed. 

The Snakes despatched a deputation of forty warriors and 
a medicine chief to the Crows to negotiate peace. They 
attached all the blame of the late rupture to the Utahs, 
whom, they said, they could not control, and that the death of 
our six young warriors was entirely against their wish. 

This we knew was false, for their were ten Snakes to on© 
Utah in the camp at the time of the outrage. They also 
pleaded that they had tried for a long time to induce the 
Utahs to return home, knowing that they were enemies to the 
Crows. We at length adjusted the conditions of peace, 
smoked the calumet, and, after an exchange of presents, they 
returned to their home. 

About this time a brave, named Big Eain, was elected chief 
of the village for the term of six moons. His duties were to 
superintend all the village removals, to select sites for camps, 
order surrounds ; in short, he was a kind of mayor, and alone 
subject to the head chief. Big Eain possessed the most 
beautiful squaw in the whole village ; she was the admiration 
of every young brave, and all were plotting (myself among the 
rest) to win her away from her proud lord. I had spoken to 
her on several occasions, and, whenever opportunity offered, 
would tender her my most ceremonious obeisance ; but shel 
never favoured me with any return. Not only was she| 
beautiful, but she was very intelligent, and as proud as 
Lucifer ; and the gorgeous dyes of the peacock were not more 
variegated or more showy than her attire. Since the elevation 
of her husband, I fancied that she assumed rather haughtier 
airs ; and I determined to steal her from her lord, be the 
consequences what they might. 

I went one evening to her brother's lodge, and acquainted 
him that there was a woman in our village that I loved, and 
that I must have her at all hazards. 

"Well, warrior," said he, ** if it is any of my relatives, I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 201 

will assist yon all in my power. Yon are a great brave, and 
have gained many victories for us, and it is but right that 
your desires should be gratified." 

" Thank you," said I ; " but I will try alone first, and if I do 
not succeed, then I shall be very glad of your assistance." 

As an acknowledgment for the prompt tender of his services, 
I presented him with a quantity of tobacco. "Now," added I, 
''I want you to call in all your neighbours to-night, and let 
them smoke as long as they please. After they are assembled, 
bar the door of your lodge, and amuse them as long as you can 
with the rehearsal of your adventures. In the meantime, I 
will be engaged." 

I then went to my bosom friend and brother, and made part 
to him of what I had in hand, which revelation greatly amused 
him. I requested him to act as sentry over the lodge where 
they were all smoking — Big Eain with the rest, for I had seen 
him enter — and remain there until he was satisfied they had 
filled their pipes for the last time, and then to call out to me, 
but to mislead them in the place where he was addressing me. 
This he promised to perform, and we both started on our errands. 

I went to Big Eain's lodge, dressed and painted in the 
■extreme of the fashion, and saw the lady reclining, half asleep, 
upon her couch, and several of her female relatives asleep about 
the room. Nothing daunted, I strode to the couch of Mrs. Big 
Hain, and laid my hand gently on her brow. 

She started up, saying, " Who is here ? " 

"Hush! "I replied; "it is I." 

" What do you want here ? '' 
^ " I have come to see you, because I love you." 

" Don't you know that I am the chief's wife? " 

"Yes, I know it; but he does not love you as I do. He 
never goes to war, but stays idly in the village. I am a great 
brave, and always go to war. I can paint your face, and bring 
you fine horses ; but so long as you are the wife of Big Eain, 
he will never paint your face with new coos." 

'* My husband will kill you." 
Well, then the Crows will talk of you for many winters, 
and say that the great brave, • The Bloody Arm,' died for a 
pretty woman." 



202 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF .^m 

''Your father," she said, "will lose all his horses, and al^l 
his other property, and will become poor in his old age. I 
respect your father, and all your relatives, and my heart 
would cry to see them poor." 

" If my father loses his horses, I can steal more from our 
enemies. He would be proud to lose his horses if his son 
could get a wife as handsome as you are. You can go to war 
with me, and carry my shield. With you by my side, I could 
kill a great many enemies, and bring home many scalps. Then 
we could often dance, and our hearts would be made merry and 
glad." 

'* Go now," she pleaded; " for if my husband should return^ 
and find you here, he would be very angry, and I fear he 
would kill you. Go ! go ! for your own sake, and for mine,, 
and for the love you have for the Crows, go ! " 

" No," said I, *' I will not go until you give me a pledge 
that you will be mine when an opportunity offers for me to 
take you away." 

She hesitated for a moment, and then slipped a ring off her 
finger and placed it on mine. All I now had to do was to 
watch for a favourable chance to take her away with me on 
some of my excursions. Just as I was about to leave, my 
friend called me as though I had been three miles away. I 
went out and joined him. 

" What luck? " inquired he. 

" Good," said I. 

" Prove it to me, I will believe," said my friend. 

I held out my finger to him, displaying the ring. 

" Enough," said he ; " but I could not otherwise have= 
believed it." 

The following day, with six warriors in full costume, I 
visited Big Eain at his lodge. 

"Ah! " said he, "you are going on a war-excursion, my 
friend?" 

" No," I answered. " We came to see which way you are 
going to move, how many days you will travel, and how far 
each day ; so that we may find good places to encamp, and 
know where to find the village in case we should encounter 
the enemy." 



i 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 203 

''You are very kind," said he; ''then you intend to be my 
spy. I have many brothers and other relatives among the 
braves, but not one has ever made me that offer." 

" No," thought I, " they don't care as much about your wife 
as I do." 

"Go," said he, " and the Great Spirit will protect you." 

I then left, accompanied by my six warriors. The second 
day out, in the afternoon, as we were travelling slowly along, 
I discovered, at about a mile distance, a party of twenty- seven 
Black Foot warriors, just emerging from the Bad Pass. We 
immediately retraced our steps toward home, and travelled 
all night, until we arrived within three miles of the village. 
When within sight, we telegraphed with the aid of a small 
looking-glass, which the Crow scouts usually carry, and every 
motion of which is understood in the village. I made a signal 
that I had discovered the enemy, and a second that they were 
approaching. In a moment I could discover a great stir in the 
village. When we arrived, I reported to his honour. Big Eain, 
how many we had seen, what tribe they were, where they had 
passed the previous night, and where they could then be found. 
The chief then ordered his madam to bring us some water, an 
order she complied with, smiling coquettishly at me the while. 

I then retired to my lodge to change my dress, as portions 
of it were stained with our travel through the mountains. 
While I was in my lodge, madam came over with a splendid 
war-horse, which her husband had sent me, on which to 
return and fight the Black Feet I had just discovered. She 
said, " My husband has sent this war-horse to the Bloody 
Arm, and requests him to lead the Crows to the enemy." 

I was soon on the road, with enough mounted warriors to 
eat the whole party of the enemy ; for they were only a short 
distance from our village, and, desirous of excitement, every 
one wished to go. Judging where the enemy would encamp 
that night, we travelled on until we arrived near the antici- 
pated encampment. 

Previous to starting, my little wife, who, by being the 
wife of a great brave, was as good as any woman, wished to 
bear me company and carry my shield. But I refused her, 
alleging that the danger was too great, and promising to paint 



204 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



her face when I returned. One of my sisters then volunteers 
and I accepted her offer, taking her with me to carry my shield 
and lead my war-horse. 

As soon as it was light enough in the morning, I sent out 
small parties in all directions to look for their trail, that we 
might track them to their den. In ten or fifteen minutes after 
the parties left, we heard the report of a gun, and the war-hoop 
raised. The Crows assembled in the direction of the report, 
all drawing toward a centre. When I arrived, I saw that the 
Black Feet had chosen a strong position, and that we had 
another fort to storm. It was built partly by nature, but 
human industry had improved the stronghold. It was low 
water, and there was a pile of drift on a naked sand-bar, and 
trees had been felled from the bank upon the drift-pile forming 
quite a shelter. Over this position the enemy was placed, 
protected with a breast-work formed of timber taken from the 
drift. When I reached the ground, I saw two of our reckless 
braves talking carelessly under the enemy in this inclosed 
space, as if they had been in a secure lodge. I regarded them 
for a moment, and, thinking to display as much bravery as 
they had, I dismounted and ran to the place, although several 
shots were fired at me from the fort, none of which took 
effect. 

" What are you here for? " inquired one of them of me 
"In the first place," I said, "tell me what you are h 
for." 

" Why we are old w^arriors, and you are not." 
" If I am not an old warrior," I answered, " I will be one 
I then regarded the rough flooring over head, which separated 
us from our foes, and perceived an aperture hardly large enough 
to admit my fist. I stood under it a moment, and as the warriors 
were moving about, one of them stepped over the aperture and 
remained there. I thrust my lance up with my whole force, 
and drew it back reeking with blood. 

" There, old warriors," said I to my two companions, " who 
has dravm the first blood now ? W^ho struck them first ? Old 
warriors, or a young brave? How do you like the look of my 
lance ? Do you see it ? " 

" Yes, yes, we see it. You have done well, young brave ! " 



\C^ 






JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 205 

"Well," said I, "you can stay here out of danger ; but I 
am going out to my warriors, and then to storm the fort." 

I ran back with the same success that I had entered it, 
brandishing my dripping lance, and ordered a charge, which 
was obeyed as soon as given. In five minutes there was not 
a Black Foot left within alive. They made scarcely any 
defence, so sudden and overwhelming was the shock. 

We had one warrior killed by the first discharge of the 
enemy, and six wounded. We then returned home, and, not- 
withstanding our slain warrior, we celebrated a dance, and 
devoted the next day to mourning our loss. In robing his 
remains for the spirit land, we dressed him in the most 
costly manner, using trinkets, seam-embroidered cloth, and 
the most costly articles, to show the inhabitants of the spirit 
land that he was a great brave, and much respected on earth. 
Over all was wrapped the best of scarlet blankets, and his 
arms were enfolded therein. 

Oh shroud him in his hunting-shirt, 

And lay him in the glen, 
Away, away from jealous foes, 

Away from sight of men — 

With bow and painted arrow, 

That never failed its aim, 
When by his fleet and favourite steed 

The bounding bison came. 

Go, kill the warrior's favourite horse, 

His crouching, lonely hound ; 
To shield so brave a warrior 

In the happy hunting-ground. 

While the villagers were crying and putting on a coat of 
mourning-paint for the departed warrior, I was busied in my 
domestic affairs. I sent my sister to madam with a large 
quantity of service-berries, which had been finely dried the 
preceding summer, together with some sweet potatoes , telling 
her to request madam to send me her extra moccasins, in 
order to lash them together with my own on my pack -dog, 
and to appoint a place to meet me that evening. My sister 



is 



206 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



1 



was astonished, and said, "Is it possible that you intend 
take Ba-chua-hish-a (Eed Cherry) with you? Why, we shall 
all become poor ! We shall not have a horse to ride. But I 
don't care ; she is a pretty woman, and will make a good robe- 
dresser." 

Away she hied, and soon returned with my lady's moccasins. 
Ah, ah ! thought I, I am all right now ! I expected that the 
course of true love would not run very smooth with me in the 
end, but would, on the contrary, carry me over breakers which 
would most probably break my neck ; but I fortified myself 
with the old adage, "Faint heart never won fair lady," and I 
determined to hazard all consequences. 

The appointed time had arrived, and, on going to the place 
of assignation, I found my lady true to her word — in fact, she 
was there first. We joined the party, thirty-four in number, 
and travelled all night in the direction of the Black Foot 
country. On the sixth day, at nightfall, we arrived at the 
Mussel Shell Eiver, a little below the mouth of the Judith, and ' 
in sight of a village of the enemy. I looked out a good place 
for a reserve camp, and then, selecting eighteen of the most 
expert horse- thieves, we started for the village. We succeeded 
in capturing one hundred and seventeen horses without being 
discovered, and arrived safe with them at the camp. We all 
started immediately back for the village. The warriors took 
but two horses each, giving the rest to me and my new wife. 

Meanwhile, Big Eain made discovery of the loss of his wife, 
and was greatly disturbed in mind. My father, knowing the 
aggressor, commenced giving away to his near relatives all his 
choicest stock and other valuable property, until the storm 
should blow over. 

When we rode in, the people came out to meet us, rejoicing 
at our success. Big Rain was out likewise ; he took no part 
in the rejoicing, however, but ordered his wife and me to be 
surrounded. I was seized by Big Rain, together with half a 
dozen of his sisters, all armed with scourges, and they ad- 
ministered a most unmerciful whipping. I lay down to it, and 
received it with true Indian fortitude, though I certainly did 
think they would beat me to death. If I had resisted, they 
would have been justified in killing me ; also, if they had drawn 



JAMES P. BECKWOVBTH. 207 

one drop of blood from me, I should have been justified in 
taking their lives. They laid it on so unmercifully, that I 
became angry, and hoped they would draw blood. After the 
flagellation was performed, the next penalty was to strip my 
father and myself of all our horses and other effects (our war- 
implements excepted). My father was stripped of five hundred 
horses. I lost about eighty. 

" Pretty dear for a very pretty woman," thought I. How- 
ever, I soon had my horses made up to me by presents from 
my friends. 

We performed the horse-dance that night, though I danced 
without owning one. During the amusement I conveyed word 
to the wife of Big Eain that I should go out again the next 
night, and should expect her company, appointing her to meet 
xne at the same place as before. She returned a favourable 
answer. My little wife hauled me over the coals for stealing 
a married woman, when there were enough maidens in the 
village that I could select. I told her that I wdshed to have 
the handsomest woman in the village for my lodge. 

The appointed hour arrived, and Big Eain's wife was faithful 
to her promise. We started off with only seventeen warriors. 
We were gone four days, and returned with three scalps. We 
met a war-party of nine warriors, six of whom outstripped us 
and escaped. 

On my return I was again seized, and received another such 
a flogging as the first, laid on with equal good-will. 

After my dressing, I retired to my lodge, when a woman 
approached me bearing some burden in her arms. She 
addressed me : " Here is something will gladden your heart; 
he will make as great a brave as his father : his name is Black 
Panther. Here, look at your child." 

Sure enough, my little wife had presented me with a son, 
who is at this present time (1855) first counsellor of the Crow 
nation. 

Two nights afterward, I started on a third expedition with a 
party of sixty-three warriors, my new wife accompanying me 
for the third time. We took a southerly course toward the 
country of the Black Feet, and captured near two hundred 
hsad of horses, with which we returned home by way of the 




208 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



1 

werWI 



fort. On arriving at the fort, I found that my services 
required, and that they were about to despatch a courier after 
me on business of great importance. I told the commander 
that I must go home with my party, but that I would return 
to the fort with the least possible delay. Accordingly wi 
started on. On the road we fell in with a small party 
trap]Ders, who were under the conduct of an old schoolmate 
mine, David Adams. They seemed greatly dejected, and 
inquired of them the cause. Adams then related that he hi 
been robbed of everything he possessed by some of his me 
confederated with a number of my Indians, and that they ha^ 
sent him off in the forlorn condition in which I now saw him» 
I asked him to describe the appearance of the Indians wh 
took part in robbing him. 

"One of the party," said he, "was not an Indian, but 
mulatto." 

" There was no mulatto when I left," I answered, " and yo 
must be mistaken." 

"No," he replied, " I am not. You will find him there o] 
your return." 

" Well," said I, " get up and return to the village with me 
I will sift this matter to the bottom." 

He declined to accompany me. " They told me, if I re-i 
turned," he urged, "that they would kill us all ; and I dare 
not go back." 

" Come with me," I said. " If there is any killing to be 
done, I will have a hand in it." 

He at length consented to return with me. On gaining the 
village, I rode up to my father's lodge, and said, "How is this? 
You allow white men to be robbed in the village, directly under 
your eyes ! Do you wish to call down the vengeance of the 
great white chief upon the Crows ? Do you wish them to be 
made poor and miserable, like the other tribes ? Have I not 
often told you of the immense number of white warriors ; that 
they were like the sand of the prairie — as the leaves of the 
forest?" 

" Hold, my son ! I had nothing to do in the matter. My 
heart was sorrowful when I heard of the crime. It was High 
Lance who committed it." 



rn 

i 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 209 

" Then I will go and kill him, or be killed myself," said I ; 
and away I sped to the lodge of High Lance. 

" Go with him — go with him ! " exclaimed my father to all 
my brothers and relatives around. **He is mad; go and 
protect him." 

I advanced to High Lance, who was standing at his lodge, 
who, on seeing me approach, stepped in and shut his door. I 
dismounted, and tore his door down in an instant, and de- 
manded of him what he had been doing. I remarked that his 
lodge was extremely well supplied with goods. 

"High Lance," said I, in an authoritative tone, "restore 
to these men their horses without one moment's delay." 

" I have taken no horses," said he, sullenly. 

" Send for them in an instant," said I. 

By this time my Dog Soldiers, the bravest men in the 
nation, were surrounding me. 

" What does our chief want? " demanded they. 

I told them that I wanted all the goods taken out of the 
lodge of High Lance, for that he had assisted to steal them 
from a white man, who was my friend. Instantly the lodge 
was hoisted, and torn into a thousand pieces, and High Lance, 
the mulatto, and eleven white men, were exposed to plain 
view. 

I then accosted the mulatto : " What are you doing here, 
you black velvet-headed scoundrel? You come here in my 
absence to put the devil into the heads of the Indians, who are 
bad enough already? I will have your scalp torn off, you 
consummate villain ! " 

The poor fellow was frightened almost to death, and trembled 
in every joint. He replied, " The Crows gave me liberty to 
stay here and trap in their country, and — " 

"Not another word," interrupted I; " though I will hang 
you, at any rate." 

Then, turning to the eleven renegade white men, I said, " I 
give you just five minutes to leave the village; if you 
are longer in going, I will order my warriors to scalp 
every one of you. You assume to be white men, and yet 
think no more of yourselves than to enter an Indian village 
ind set such an example to the savages ; whereas, if they were 

14 




210 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 






to treat you in such a manner, you would think death too 
light a punishment. You rob your own race, and forbid their 
return to the village under pain of death, allying yourselves 
with the worst Indian in the tribe. After stripping your \ 
victim, you forcibly deprive him of his few trusty followers,™ 
and bid him go through these trackless wilds, filled with 
murderous savages, who, had they once come across him^ 
would have murdered him before he reached the fort." ||l 

I rated them thus soundly, but not one offered to lift his™ 
hand. The stolen horses were very quickly forthcoming, and 
the purloined property was readily produced. I restored it to 
my friend before them. 

" Now," I said, addressing the gang, '* you can return to the 
fort with Mr. Adams ; but if I hear that you offer to molest 
him in any way, your scalps shall pay for it." 

Then, turning to the mulatto, I said, ** You have instigated 
all this mischief, and I should only be doing my duty to put 
my threat into execution, and hang you as I promised. How- 
ever, you can go to the fort with these men. I shall be there 
about as soon as you will, and I will attend to your case then» 
I'll see if I cannot teach you better than to come among the 
Crows again." 

Mr. Adams belonged to Captain Bonneville's company, and. 
was leader of a party of about twenty men ; he had come into 
the Crow country for the purpose of trading and trapping. 
The mulatto had arrived previously, and had brought a 
Canadian with him : the mulatto could speak the Crow 
language tolerably well. He had become acquainted with 
High Lance, who was a bad Indian, and had relations as bad 
as himself ; and through this clique he had obtained per- 
mission to stay and trap in the country. On the arrival of 
Mr. Adams, the mulatto made himself very familiar with his 
men, representing to them that they were fools to travel for 
hire, when they could stay among the Crows with him and do 
so much better. By these arguments he induced eleven of Mr. 
Adams's party to desert him, when, with the participation of 
High Lance and other bad Indians, they stripped him of all 
his goods. Mr. Adams expressed his warmest thanks to me 
for my interference. I told him I had only done my duty, as 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH, 211 

I always had done in like cases, and should continue to do as 
long as I remained with the Crows. 

This business settled, I received a third sound thrashing 
from my new wdfe's husband and relatives for again making 
free with his wife. 

After the lapse of three days I left for the fort, again taking 
my friend's lady. Her husband, finding that I was incor- 
rigible, grew furious, and declared he only wished to have me 
in his power once more. My Dog Soldiers said to him, " You 
have whipped him three times, and you shall whip him no 
more, neither shall you do him any farther harm. Eed Cherry 
loves him, and she does not love you ; she will always go with 
him. You might as well try to turn Big Horn back to its 
mountain sources as to attempt to separate them, unless you kill 
them. You would not be so cowardly as to spill the blood of 
the pretty Eed Cherry because she loves our chief. If you 
should fight him, he will kill you; and if you should assassi- 
nate him, we would avenge his death. No, no ! Big Eain 
must not hurt our chief. But we will buy your claim to the 
Eed Cherry, and give her to Eed Arm for his own. You, a 
great chief, should despise to want a woman who loves another 
warrior better than you ! " 

Big Eain drooped his head on finding the Dog Soldiers were 
against him, and gave way to deep reverie. He loved the Eed 
Cherry as children love the delicious fruit bearing the same 
name. After weighing the matter well, he reluctantly acceded 
to the offer, and consented to resign all interest and title in 
Mrs. Big Eain for the consideration of one war-horse, ten 
guns, ten chiefs' coats, scarlet cloth, ten pairs of new leg- 
gings, and the same number of moccasins. 

The stipulation was forthwith produced by my faithful Dog 
Soldiers, and I had the exclusive right to the Eed Cherry, 
without the fear of a drubbing every time I returned. 

Such acts are as common among the Eocky Mountain tribes 
as they have been among the whites in California since the 
discovery of gold there, though in the latter place, the penalty 
is frequently more severe than among the wild tribes of the 
mountains and prairies. 

My new wife was the perfection of symmetry. Few oi the 



212 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



n. 

1 

c-ll 



Caucasian race could boast of handsomer features, and notb 
but the rich oUve colour of the skin betrayed her Indian origin 
Big Eain always regarded me with an evil eye after the trans 
action, and several times attempted to induce the lady t 
return to him. Many warriors, whose wives had playe^ 
truant, had cut off their noses to deprive them of their attrac 
tions. I told Eed Cherry that if ever she should return 
Big Eain, he would surely serve her so. She never manifested 
any disposition to leave me ; and my engagement to the 
American Fur Company enabled me to dress my wives better 
than any other woman in the whole nation. 

It was now early spring, and I started for the fort. Befor 
I left, I told the Crows what time I wished them to follow mi 
with their peltry. 

On my arrival, I was informed that a Mr. Johnson Gardn 
had bought quite a large lot of goods, which he had taken 
his camp, edghteen miles down the river. The morning after*' 
my arrival, three men were despatched from the fort to^acquaint 
him that I had come. I had two hundred warriors with me ; 
and on the night of our arrival we formed a camp and turnedj 
out the horses, not apprehending any danger. Early in the 
morning one of my followers went out to fetch up the horses, 
when he found them all missing, and the trail visible on which 
they had been taken away. The alarm was instantly given, 
and I ran to the top of the hill to take a general survey. I 
saw two objects on the ice, which appeared to me to be men ; 
and this excited my apprehensions that they were two of the 
men despatched from the fort, as they lay in the direction 
which they had taken. I collected my warriors instantly for 
the pursuit, placing all our women and children in the fort. I 
ordered some of the white men down on the ice to bring in the 
supposed bodies. Alas ! my suspicions proved too true ! All 
three men had been butchered, and when we rode up their 
bodies were scarcely cold. The eyes of the warriors flashed 
fire, and, without delaying a moment, on we swept in pursuit 
of revenge. We travelled about thirty miles (each man leading 
his war-horse), and our saddle-horses were beginning to tire, 
and we saw nothing of the enemy. Darkness would close 
over us, we feared, before we could overtake them. We then 



( 



JAMES P. BEGKWOUBTH. 213 

mounted our war-horses, which were as swift as the wind, and 
leaving the saddle-horses behind, on we went faster than ever 
Darkness was already upon us, when we came in sight of a 
large fire in the distance. 

" Now, boys, we have them ! " cried I. 

We rode on until we neared the camp of the enemy, as we 
supposed, and then I examined their position previous to the 
onset. Just as I was about to give the order to charge, I heard 
a voice from the camp, saying, " Throw them in ! D — n them, 
throw them in ! " 

I then saluted the camp, shouting at the top of my voice, 
" Halloo the camp ! Don't shoot, boys ; we are Crows ! I am 
Jim Beckwourth ! " 

I then rode up with my whole party, and found that they 
had taken two prisoners from the very party we were in 
pursuit of, and under the following circumstances : The 
pursued party rode up to the camp, and several of them 
dismounted, among whom was Antoine Garro (a Canadian 
half-breed), well known in St. Louis. Garro could speak 
tolerably good English. 

He accosted Gardner with *'How d'do? You have got a 
good fire." 

" Who are you," inquired Gardner, " that you speak 
English?" 

" My name is Garro." 

" What Indians are those with you ? " 

" Oh, they are good Indians ; they will not hurt you." 

Gardner discovered that too many were dismounting and 
crowding round his camp ; and he perceived that many of them 
rode in the direction of his horses, and he became alarmed, as 
he well might be at his situation. 

"Garro," said he, again, "tell me, what Indians are these?" 

" They are Ee-ka-ras," said he ; " they have borrowed your 
horses, but they will bring them back again." He said this as 
he saw Gardner look in the direction of his horses. 

" Ee-ka-ras ! " repeated Gardner. " To your guns, men ; 
seize them ! " 

' Old Garro stepped away with an accelerated pace, and two 
only of the Indians were arrested. 



214 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

Garro stood off at a safe distance, and demanded the tw( 
Indians. 

" You cannot have them until you bring me my horses," sai( 
Gardner. 

" Then we will have the tops of your heads," threatened the 
old rascal. 

" Yes, you v^ould have the tops of our heads ; but come an( 
take them, if you can." 

They rode off, taking every horse that Gardner . possessed 
and if he had not been on the alert, they would have taken 
few scalps as well. 

These were the two prisoners that were in question whei 
we rode up. They had bound them with trap- chains, anc 
were in the act of throwing them into a tremendous log fii 
that was burning in the camp. They opened the logs on the 
top of the fire, and, swinging the two victims into the flames^l 
rolled back the burning logs. There was a terrible struggle 
for a moment ; then all was still. A blue flame towered hij 
above the pile, and quickly subsided. My Indians begged thel 
privilege of scalping them before they were burned ; but Gardner j 
told them he wished to burn them up clean. " You are goin^ 
after their companions," he said, "and you can get plenty! 
more scalps." 

" Yes," they replied, '* Vv^e will get plenty, and bring your-j 
horses back besides." ^ 

I really felt proud of my warriors in seeing them animated! 
with so true a spirit. We breathed our horses for a few 
minutes, for they were in a perfect foam, and then started 
after them again in hot pursuit. 

By next morning, we came within two gunshots' distance 
of the enemy without being perceived, as a roll in the prairie 
hid us from their view. We rested for a few moments, to 
refresh our horses and prepare them for the charge. We 
heard a continual firing, as if kept up by the enemy, and then 
a terrific explosion, which made the earth tremble ; yells of the 
savages succeeded to this, and I then learned that there had 
been a battle between the Indians and traders, and that the 
whole stock of the traders' powder had exploded. 

Now, thought I, is the time to charge ; and I gave the word 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 215 

to my impatient warriors. We were among them like a 
thunder-bolt, even before they had time to mount their horses; 
for they had not yet recovered from the fright of the explosion. 
We cut down one hundred and seventy-two of them before 
they had time to fire twenty shots. The whole force of the 
enemy amounted to four hundred men, and those who 
remained unhurt scattered in all directions. We did not 
pursue them, as our horses were so badly jaded. 

Pine Leaf, who charged gallantly by my side, was wounded 
with a bullet, which broke her left arm just below the elbow. 
Placing her wounded arm in her bosom, she grew more despe- 
rate than ever, and three of the enemy met their death from 
the point of her lance after she received her wound. Becoming 
faint from loss of blood, she was constrained to retire.* We 
had twelve others wounded. 

We recovered all our own horses, and recaptured those 
belonging to Gardner, besides a great number in the possession 
of the enemy. For spoils we gathered near two hundred 
scalps, and a vast amount of fire-arms and other equipments. 
After this signal victory we returned to Gardner's camp, 
reaching there the same evening. 

Before leaving, however, we took three blackened and dis- 
figured bodies, the remains of the trappers who had so 
heroically defended themselves, and who, to all appearance, 
had blown themselves up rather than fall into the hands of the 
enemy. The supposition was warranted by the appearance of 
the ground. Evidently the savages had set fire to the grass 
all round, thinking to burn them out ; but it had not reached 
them. I surmised that the Indians had charged on them in a 
body, and, when near to the trappers, had been scattered with 
the ignition of three kegs of powder in the possession of the 
trappers, for some of the carcasses of the Indians were badly 
scorched. 

Our reception at the camp of Gardner was enthusiastic. 
"Beckwourth and his brave warriors for ever ! " rent the air 

* The heroine's arm was set in good style by Dr. Walton, at Gardner's 
camp, and in a few weeks it was sound again. The Indians have no bone- 
setters ; when their bones get broken, they tie them up as well as possible, 
and trust in Providence for the result. 



216 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 



fort II 
alll| 



in acclamations. They joined us, and went on to the forti 
with us. When we came in sight of the place we formed 
in line, and displayed our scalps on the ends of sticks, and 
discharged our guns, and sung at the top of our voices. This ^ 
brought every person out of the fort to look at us. We then|l 
opened our column, and I requested Gardner to drive all the '' 
horses with full speed to the fort. Just before we reached 
there we spurred our horses on to the front, and encircled the 
fort several times, still displaying our scalps, and singing the 
scalp-dance burden louder and louder, while all the occupants 
of the post joined in. There were hilarious times round the- 
fort that night. 

We had sent word to the village to summon the Crows to 
the trading-post, to help us mourn for the three white meii 
who had recently been killed on the ice, and who were yet 
unburied. I omitted to mention in proper place that Glass's 
body was found near the fort — probably on his retreat after he '. 
had discovered the Indians. The whole village, accordingly, 
started to join us, while I and my party went out to meet 
them and acquaint them with our success. In consideration 
of my distinguished services, I was elevated to second coun- 
sellor of the nation. 

We met them about a day's ride from the fort, and had a, 
great celebration over the communication of our victory. We 
returned together and buried the three men, amid the most: 
terrible scenes that I had ever witnessed. The crying wa» 
truly appalling. The three men were well known, and highly ■ 
esteemed by the Crows. When their bodies were lowered to 11 
their last resting-place, numberless fingers were voluntarily H 
chopped off and thrown into the graves ; hair and trinkets of 
every description were also contributed, and the graves were 
finally filled up. 

I then set the men to work in building boats, to carry our 
peltry down to Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellow Stone, 
whither I intended going as soon as the river was free from 
ice. When completed, I put on board seven hundred packs of 
buffalo robes — ten robes in each pack — and forty-five packs of 
beaver. I forwarded orders for such goods as were wanted, 
and also word for another clerk in the place of poor Rose, who 
had lost his life in the service of the company. 



CHAPTEE XVIII. 

Departure from the Fort with the Crows— I am elected First C ounsello r of 
the Nation — Death of the head Chief — I am appointed Successor— Last 
Moments of the Chief. 

THE Indians having made all their requisite purchases, 
moved on to the Little Horn Eiver, six or eight days* 
travel from the fort. We encamped here for the purpose of 
planting tobacco, which is done by the prophets and medicine 
men ; after which a great feast is provided, and a general time 
of dancing and rejoicing follows. 

The tobacco-plant grows spontaneously in the Snake country, 
but it is cultivated by the Crows and several other tribes. It 
is a tolerably good substitute for the cultivated species, for the 
purpose of smoking, but it is unfit to chew. The plant very 
closely resembles garden sage, and forms into heads similar to 
the domestic flax. 

At this camp the First Counsellor made a speech to the 
warriors, and spoke in substance as follows : '* Warriors ! Eed 
Bird has served you faithfully many winters. He is now old. 
He can be young no more. His body has been made weak by 
the numerous wounds he has received in fighting the enemies 
of the Crows. He now wishes for repose, and not to be dis- 
turbed in his slumbers by being called into the council at all 
hours of the night, when his body, once so powerful, now 
requires rest. He is desirous of joining the medicine men, 
that he will not be compelled to go to war ; but he will always 
be ready to defend his own village, the women and the help- 
less, and to give up his life for them. Eed Bird's medicine in 
ihb war-path has grown weak ; let the younger warriors, who 
are brave and active, have an opportunity to try their medi- 



I 



218 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

cine. We have plenty who deserve to be promoted, who are 
as brave as the she-bear, and as swift as the antelope 
Warriors, I now give up my position as first counsellor, 
have done." 

Long Hair replied as follows : 

" Eed Bird, we feel that our hearts are sorry that you have 
seen fit to cease to be our first counsellor. You have served 
our people long and faithfully. Your counsel has been good : 
imder your wise direction we have prospered. We would 
rather that you had still directed us ; but you say it is your 
desire to have repose. Be it so. We know that your body is 
weak. We know that you have received numerous wounds i 
from the weapons of our enemies. We know that you nevejB 
turned your back upon the foe. Now we need a sixth coun- . 
sellor, and must select one from the braves here present. Will 
you name him for us ? " 

"No," said the old man ; " I have never had any ene 
among my braves, and I do not wish to make them now 
should not know which to choose, were I to attempt it. Thi 
are all brave." 

It was at length resolved that one of the medicine 
should be blindfolded, and go among the most distinguish 
braves, and whoever he first placed his hand upon should talfi 
his seat as sixth counsellor. The distinguished braves thei 
gathered promiscuously together ; a close bandage was placet 
over the eyes of the medicine man, and away he went amonj 
the crowd. The five counsellors being among the braves, he^ 
placed his hand on one of them, and cried out, *' Here is your ; 
sixth counsellor." | 

"You are wrong," said Long Hair; "he is counsellor 
already." 

He then went through the crowd, and laid his hand upon 
another brave, crying out as before. Long Bow was therefore 
declared to be the choice of the people for sixth counsellor of 
the nation. When the seat of the first counsellor falls vacant, 
the others are elevated one degree, thus leaving the lowest 
station vacant. 

The village now crossed the Big Horn on their way to Sun 
Biver Creek, a small tributary of the Yellow Stone. At Big 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUETH. 219 

Horn I took forty warriors, and started in quest of Black 
Peet and horses. After travelling two days, I was overtaken 
by the head chief, A-ra-poo-ash, with one hundred and seventy- 
five warriors. He was evidently chagrined about something. 
Not wishing him to go to war, as I expected nothing less than 
that he would rush in and throw away his life, I told him that 
I should avoid the war-path, that my medicine told me my 
war-path was bad, and I intended to return to the village. I 
started forthwith, and he followed me. On coming in sight 
of the village, we halted and encamped for the night. 

I stole away in the night with seventy-five warriors, and 
made for the enemy's country, hoping that the old chief would 
return to the village. But he took my trail the next morning, 
and overtook me with his remaining followers. 

He advanced to me, and said, "Bloody Arm, you are a great 
v^arrior ; you do not wish me to go to war, but I will. I shall 
never return to the village. I am going to die. The Crows 
are fools. I have given them good counsel, and they would 
not listen to my words. I have fought for them during many 
years. I have shed much blood for them. I have tried to 
make them a great people, but they have closed their ears. I 
am going to the big village of the Great Spirit. If you do not 
wish to go in the path with me, you can go in another path ; I 
will find the enemy alone, and die." 

When he had finished speaking, he dismounted. Then, 
placing the edge of his shield on some buffalo chips, he said, 
*^ Warriors, you see my shield. If it rises, I shall die before 
I return to the village; if not, I shall return." He then ad- 
dressed the sun for some minutes, after which he took his lance 
and made several motions with it. Then, giving a bound, the 
shield was raised as high as his head, and not a warrior saw 
him touch it. Then every one present believed his words, 
namely, that he would never return alive to the village. I 
knew that the shield must have some elevating agency, but it 
was concealed : my attention was so riveted upon the chief, 
that I did not discover the power that produced the seeming 
miracle. 

'The scouts now ran in to report that there were fourteen 
Black Feet but a short distance off, who were approaching us 



220 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 






on foot. All was then bustle of preparation for a moment; 
and the trick of the shield was forgotten. Away we sped to 
find the enemy. We speedily found them, and they, perceiving 
escape was impossible, prepared to sell their lives as dearly a^^ 
they could. | 

The old chief was the first to charge impetuously upon th^ 
scanty foe ; as his steed plunged through them, he cut down 
one with his battle-axe ; then, wheeling and again passing 
their line, he clove a second. Again turning to pass the^ 
enemy's line a third time, he had already raised his arm t 
strike, when an arrow entered his body just below the hip, aa 
passed clean through, showing itself near the shoulder. 

Every warrior paused in astonishment at seeing their chie 
thus furiously engaged ; but when he fell a demon seeme< 
suddenly to possess them, and the few surviving Black Fee 
were hewed to pieces in a moment. Every warrior gathere< 
round the dying chief ; his Ufe-blood was fast draining from hi 
mortal stroke. 

" Warriors," he said, " I came here to die. My wish wi 
soon be gratified. A-ra-poo-ash will lead you no more to wai 
My home will soon be in the Spirit Land. My people wer 
fools, and would not listen to my counsel. Bloody Arm, com 
to me. You must now take the place of A-ra-poo-ash. Yo 
are brave and wise. You fight the enemy, and vanquish then 
without losing our own warriors. Your medicine is powerful 
Warriors, listen to your dying chief ! You, Bloody Arm, art 
the only brave who can keep the nation together. The Crowj 
disobeyed my orders, and I did not like to punish them for ife 
I loved my people too well ; I was too kind to them for theii 
own good. I was too indulgent. They all fear you, and will 
obey your words. If they obey you, they will increase and 
become a powerful people, as I have wished them to be ; but 
if they disobey you, they will not be a nation two winters 
more. Their enemies are numerous and powerful, and they 
will rub out all the Crows unless they hearken to what you 
say. My eyes grow dim. Eed Arm, are you listening? I 
cannot see." 

" I am listening to all you say," I replied. 

"It is well. Then take this shield and this medal ; they 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 221 

both belong to yon. The medal was brought from our great 
white father many winters ago by the red - headed chief. 
When you die, it belongs to him who succeeds you. Listen. 
Tell Nam-i-ne-dishee, the wife that I have always loved, that 
if our child, yet unborn, shall be a son, to tell him who his 
father was. Red Arm, listen." 

" I hear you," I said. 

" Let my body be buried under this spot. Suffer no warrior 
to make a track on this war-ground for one season. Then 
come and seek my bones, and I will have something good for 
you. 

" I can hear the voice of the Great Spirit. It sounds Hke 
the moaning of the mighty wind through the dark, gloomy 
forest. He calls for A-ra-poo-ash to come to the Spirit Land. 
I must go. Ee — mem — ber ! " 

The word ''remember" expired on his lips as his soul winged 
its flight to the Spirit Land. Every warrior (except Yellow 
Belly, who was a brother of the old chief) immediately set up 
the most dismal cryings that I have ever heard in my life. I 
despatched a herald to the village to inform them of the head 
chief's death, and then burying him according to his directions 
we slowly proceeded homeward. My very soul sickened at the 
contemplation of scenes that would be enacted at my arrival. 
When we drew in sight of the village, we found every lodge 
laid prostrate. We entered amid shrieks, cries, and yells. 
Blood was streaming from every conceivable part of the bodies 
of all who were old enough to comprehend their loss. Hun- 
dreds of fingers were dismembered ; hair, torn from the head, 
lay in profusion about the paths ; wails and moans in every 
j direction assailed the ear, where unrestrained joy had a few 
hours before prevailed. This fearful mourning lasted until 
evening of the next day. 

The morning following I ordered the removal of the village 
in the direction of the Rose Bud. We there built a council- 
lodge, and all the prophets and medicine men in the village 
were assembled in it on its completion. The national records 
were read over, and, after a lengthy ceremony performed by 
the great men, it was unanimously declared that they had 
elected me First Counsellor, and that, conjointly with Long 



222 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

Hair, I was head chief of the nation. Which loronunciamiento 
was recorded. 

It then devolved upon me to dehver my inaugm'al address 
As nearly as I can recollect, I spoke as follows : 

'* Brothers and warriors ! The great A-ra-poo-ash is no 
more. He has met his fathers and kindred who preceded him 
to the Spirit Land. He has told all concerning you that yet 
survive on earth. He has related your deeds of bravery, whichj 
makes the spirits rejoice ; he has also told of your disobedience^ 
to your chief, which has made them cry and become dark. 
The Great Spirit becomes angry at you when he sees his heroes- 
mourn. But, although you displeased A-ra-poo-ash by dis- 
obedience, and made his heart to mourn, he intercedes for youl 
there, that, if you now obey the chiefs you have chosen to lead' 
you, your war-paths may constantly be prosperous ; your 
buffalo and beaver shall always abound, and you may becom 
a great and powerful people. 

" I am now your great chief. If you obey what I say toi 
you, I can make you all you wish to be. By my long stay with; 
the whites, I possess advantages which the chiefs of no other 
tribes possess. I can get twice as much for our robes and 
beavers as you ever got before. I came back to you. I can 
talk to our white brethren, and they understand all my words* 
They know that if they cheat my people I shall find it out. 

" My medicine * tells me that we must not make war on our 
enemies, unless they first kill our people or steal our horses : 
we must then attack them with many warriors, so that we 
may run no danger of being rubbed out. I shall never consent 
for our nation to have more than two villages at one time. Let 
those two villages keep their warriors, their wives, and their 
children together, and not subdivide, when they are sure to be 
attacked by the enemies. When our village is united, no 
enemy will ever dare to attack it. 

" My brother, Long Hair, is a very great brave, a wise chiefs 

* The word medicine, as used by Indians, means magic, supernatural 
knowledge, inspiration, amulets, or charms. It comes from all disease being 
believed to be caused by evil spirits, which can only be removed by magical 
means, the curative powers of all remedies being attributed to sorcery. — C, 
G. Leland. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 22B 

He will guide one village, and it will be my duty to guide the 
council and direct the other. I want all my warriors to lay 
aside the battle-axe and lance for a season, and turn their 
attention to hunting and trapping. Our streams are full of 
beaver, as also are our prairies with buffalo. Our squaws 
excel all others in dressing robes, for which the whites pay us- 
a great price. Then let us get all the robes they can dress, 
■ and not keep them in idleness as mere playthings. If we keep 
i them at work, they will be healthy, and strong, and brave, 
when they become warriors. They can also buy everything 
they require, both for themselves and their children, while the 
beavers of the warriors will also supply our wants. 

'* Warriors ! How can we do all this, if we scatter over the 

country in nmnerous little villages, subject to continual attacks 

: from our enemies, who will cut us off, a few at a time, until we 

are all rubbed out ? No ; obey me, and keep yourselves un- 

; divided ; and if enemies attack us, we can kill ten of them 

■when they kill one Crow : thus my medicine says. But if you 

\ disobey me, and will not hearken to my words, then I shall 

surely leave you and return to my white friends, not enduring 

, to see the nation become weak, and flying before their enemies, 

and our women and children carried into captivity. Obey and 

'assist me, then, and I will do my best in your behalf. Warriors, 

I have done." 

This oration was received with undisguised approval, and I 
[received the name of Good War Eoad. 

A herald having been despatched to our other village to 

I acquaint them with the death of our head chief, and request 

jthem to assemble at the Rose Bud, in order to meet our village 

land devote themselves to a general time of mourning, there 

joaet, in conformity wdth this summons, over ten thousand 

prows at the place indicated. Such a scene of disorderly, 

irociferous mourning no imagination can conceive, nor any pen 

portray. Long Hair cut off a large roll of his hair, a thing he 

.vas never known to do before. The cutting and hacking of 

jiuman flesh exceeded all my previous experience ; fingers were 

jlismembered as readily as twigs, and blood was poured out 

ike water. Many of the warriors would cut two gashes 

learly the entire length of their arm ; then separating the skin 







224 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

from the flesh at one end would grasp it in their other hand, 
and rip it asunder to the shoulder. Others would carve.- 
various devices upon their breasts and shoulders, and raise th^l 
skin in the same manner, to make the scars show to advantage* i 
after the wound was healed. Some of their mutilations were 
ghastly, and my heart sickened to look at them; but they 
would not appear to receive any pain from them. 

It was frequently asked of me why I did not mourn. I tol( 
them that my medicine forbade me to mourn in their manner^ 
but that I mourned in my heart, and in painting my face, 
would frequently represent to them the folly of maiming them^ 
selves, and appearing before the eyes of the Great Spirit so 
greatly disfigured ; but I lost my labour. By torturing them- 
selves their pagan minds supposed they were rendering ac- 
ceptable sacrifices to the Great Spirit, and performing penance 
for offences against his will. It was religion ; and to interfere 
with their received opinions would have subjected me to th^ 
imputation of infidel, and perhaps have entailed upon mei 
expulsion from my high office. 

The mourning over, I selected seventy young warriors, and 
started out in search of feats of arms (according to their 
custom), to prove my fortune in my new office. I crossed the 
Missouri into the As-ne-boine country, where we fell in with 
fifteen Indians and four old women. "We killed them all, and 
returned home with their scalps. There was but slight re- 
joicing on my return, on account of our recent affliction. 

I should have mentioned that at the assembly of our two 
villages a grand council was held, wherein certain principles 
of action were deliberated and adjusted. On the death of a 
chief all his plans die with him, and it devolves upon his 
successor to come to an understanding with his confederate 
head chief. In this deliberation it is determined upon what 
rules the villages shall move, which direction each shall take, 
and what shall be the relations existing between them. There 
is generally a harmony preserved between the chiefs, and much 
method is shown in the preliminary adjustment of details. 
Long Hair and myself were the best of friends, and my alUed 
brother was the elect to the office of Sixth Counsellor, so that 
there was a promising indication of unanimity in our adminis- 
tration. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 225 

The villages then separated, with an understanding that 
they should again assemble at the fort in one moon. The 
attention of the nation was turned to trapping and killing 
buffalo, and the stock of accumulated peltry that fall was 
prodigious. 

When I started on my excursion to the As-ne-boines, Pine 
Leaf begged to accompany me. Her arm was far from sound, 
and I refused to take her. However, soon after I had left, 
one of my leaders invaded the Cheyenne country, and, regard- 
less of my wishes, she accompanied the expedition. She was 
brought home, as all supposed, mortally wounded. A ball had 
penetrated her left breast, just escaping the heart; it had 
passed through her body, coming out at the shoulder-blade, 
and tearing away a portion of it in its exit. On seeing her in 
this pitiable condition, I resigned all hope of her recovery. '' So 
much," said I, ''for disregarding my counsel. I would not 
allow you to go with me, in consideration of your wound ; but 
you took advantage of my absence, and now you are done for." 

"Well," she replied, " I am sorry that I did not listen to 
my chief ; but I gained two coos." 

The party accompanying her lost four warriors, wounded in 
rescuing her, and saving her scalp. She eventually recovered, 
but it was a long while before she could again go to war. The 
Cheyennes were defeated in the end, with the loss of three 
scalps, which were brought into camp. 

The two villages met at the time appointed at the fori, and 
disposed of all their peltry. A Mr. Tulleck was sent up as 
clerk, and to him I intrusted full charge of the fort, promising 
him the protection of the Crows for the winter, as I intended 
that one of our villages should take up their winter quarters in 
his vicinity. I was at this time salaried by the American Fur 
Company at three thousand dollars per annum, to reside with 
the Crows and procure their trade for the company. 

Our whole nation then crossed the Yellow Stone, and moved 
on to Mussel Shell River, whence we purposed to go and 
gather the remains of our late head chief, as the time he had 
specified for their removal had arrived. The Indians count 
four seasons in the year; namely, green grass, yellow grass, 
leaf falling, and snow falling. Our party destined to collect 

15 




226 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 

the bones consisted of seven or eight hundred persons of both 
sexes. On arriving at the grave, v^e discovered a new Indian 
trail passing directly over the spot, and we started in im- 
mediate pursuit. After a march of six miles, we came upon a 
Black Eoot village of twenty- seven lodges, who were returning 
from the trading-post, having made extensive purchases. At 
sight of them, every warrior's breast kindled with revenge, 
they remembering the fall of their chief. We charged furiously ; 
upon them, killing and taking prisoners about one hundred and 
fifty of their party. While the warriors were engaged in the 
attack, our women attacked the Black Foot women, and killed 
many of them and their children before we could interfere to 
stop it. We captured quite a number of young women and 
little boys, with an abundance of horses, weapons, ammuni- 
tion, scarlet cloth, beads, and sundries. We did not receive a 
scratch, as we attacked them with such overwhelming numbers ', 
that they offered trifling resistance, their chief endeavour being 
to save themselves by flight. 

We took up the body of our chief and returned with it to i 
the camp. Then there was another ceremony of cutting and ; 
maiming, and a body of two hundred lodges was sent to 
deposit the remains in the burial-ground of the chief's ances- 
tors. While this party were away on their mission, those who 
remained with us busied themselves in collecting the various 
sorts of fruit with which the country abounded. 

I now received my last name— for I was on the pinnacle of 
my fame, and they could ennoble me no farther — Nan-kup-bah- 
pah (Medicine Calf). 

After tarrying about three weeks, we returned to the fort, 
where we again spent a short time, and then proceeded to the 
Big Horn, where we had engaged to n^eet Bear's Tooth, who 
had the conduct of the burial party. 

While we were resting at the fort, a small party of twenty- 
three warriors, led by Little Gray Bull, stole from our camp 
at night, unknown to the chiefs, and when at a safe distance 
sent us word that they were going to the Cheyenne country in 
pursuit of spoils. They were the elite of our party, the braves 
des braves. Not one of that devoted band ever returned. 
What fate befell them remains to be shown. 



CHAPTEE XIX. 

Departure from the Fort — Arrival of Fitzpatrick and Party at the Crow 
Village — Hairbreadth Escape from a Massacre — Kescue and Eestoration 
of Property to the Owners — Departure of the Party — My Keturn to the 
Fort — Escape from Black Feet — Defeat of the Crows. 

WHILE staying at our camp on the Big Horn, a messenger 
arrived with the inteUigence that Thomas Fitzpatrick 
was back upon the mountain, and that he wished me to visit 
him without loss of time. My affairs were in such a position 
■that I could not possibly leave, but I sent my father and two 
of my best warriors to escort him into the village. The next 
morning they returned with Fitzpatrick and party, to the 
number of thirty-five men, and over two hundred horses. 
They encamped a short distance out. I visited the camp, and 
was received with a cordial welcome. I was introduced to a 
Captain Stuart, an English officer, who had figured con- 
spicuously, as I was informed, under the Iron Duke, and was 
now travelling the Far West in pursuit of adventure ; also to a 
Dr. Harrison, a son of the hero of Tippecanoe, and to a Mr. 
Brotherton, with several other gentlemen, who were all taking 
a pleasure excursion. 

While sitting in their quarters, I observed some of the Crows 
looking very wistfully at the horses belonging to our new 
friends. Knowing that the most incorruptible of Indians 
have a moral weakness for ^horses, I ordered some of my 
faithful Dog Soldiers to watch them. I then invited the 
gentlemen to the village, which invitation they readily ac- 
cepted. The visitors left at an early hour, but Fitzpatrick 
remained to talk matters over until quite late in the evening. 



I 

4! 



228 AUTOBIOGEAFHY OF 

I offered him a bed in my lodge, but he preferred sleeping in 
his own quarters. 

Shortly after his arrival, Fitzpatrick incidentally mentionedJ 
that the Cheyennes had killed an entire party of Crows (but 
he omitted all mention of the part his men had taken in the 
massacre), and that one of his men had been wounded in the 
affair. He had also a horse that had belonged to one of the 
fallen heroes, purchased by him of the Cheyennes. Had he 
acquainted me with this circumstance when he first saw me 
the very unpleasant sequel that I am about to relate woul( 
have been avoided. 

One of the Crow braves was son to a member of the party 
massacred, and he recognized his late father's horse. This 
discovery had occasioned the scrutiny which I had remarked 
early in the evening, but the cause of which I was in utter 
ignorance. On the retiring of Fitzpatrick I lay down for the 
night. I had not fallen asleep, when the murdered brave's 
son entered my lodge, and addressed me : " Medicine Calf, 
what must we do with these white men? " 

"What must you do with them?" repeated 1} not appre- 
hending his meaning. 

"Yes, I say so." . . '-■ 

" Why, take them into your lodges and feast them, and 
give them beds to sleep on, if they wish it." 

"No, no, that is not what I mean," he said; "you know 
these are the white men who killed my father. They have his 
horse here with them, and a wounded man — wounded in 
their fight with the Crows." 

He then left me to go, as I supposed, to his lodge, and 
I thought no more of the matter. I soon fell asleep, 
and woke no more till morning. On awaking, I heard 
a great rush or trampling of horses, and, springing out of 
bed, I inquired of a squaw what was the matter in the 
village. 

" Why, don't you know the whites are all dead? " she made 
reply. \ 

" The whites are all dead! " repeated I, thunderstruck. 

I ran out and ordered my war-horse to be got ready in a. 
moment. I next ran to the lodge where Winters slept, and 



JAMES P. BEGKWOUBTH. 229 

found it filled with Crows. I asked what all this uproar 
meant. 

"I don't know," said he; "I have wished to go to your 
lodge to see you, but they would not let me leave. They have 
been clamouring about Thomas — Thomas — Thomas, all night." 

At this moment Fitzpatrick rode up, with an Indian behind 
him. 

" Fitz," said I, " what in the name of God does all this 
mean ? Where are your men ? ' ' 

" They are all dead, I expect, by this time," said he, blankly ; 
" and I presume you have sent for me to murder me at your 
own discretion." 

"When did you leave them? Were they alive when you 
left them?" 

" They were going down the river, and a thousand Indians 
in hot pursuit after them," he said. 

" Go over to my father's lodge," I said to him," and stay 
till I return." 

" I then mounted my war-horse, being well armed, and 
addressed my father: " I am mad," I said ; "I am going to 
die." 

He gave the war-hoop so loud that my ears fairly tingled, 
as a signal for my relatives to follow me. They gathered 
round. " Go," said he, " and die with the Medicine Calf." 

On I dashed, in mad career, for six or seven miles along the 
bank of the river, until I came in sight of the men. I seemed 
to have travelled the space in the same number of minutes, for 
the horse flew with lightning speed upon his errand. He 
dropped dead beneath me ; in his prodigious exertions he had 
burst a blood-vessel. 

I ran forward on foot, shouting to Fitzpatrick's men, " Eun 
to me ! Run to me quickly ! " 

They heard me, and hesitated at my summons. At length 
one started, and the others followed, running at their utmost 
speed toward me. A hill rose on each side the river, closing 
together and arching over the stream, at a short distance in 
advance of the party when I arrested their steps. In this 
pass the Crows had taken their position, intending to massacre 
the party as they attempted to force their passage. 



230 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

As they reached me, I serried them around me, the Crows 
charging from the hills upon us at the same time. I now saw 
my band of relatives and friends approaching us from the: 
village. As the exasperated Indians came surging on toward 
us, I advanced toward them, and ordered them to desist. 

They arrested their course: ''What do you want?" they 
asked ; " do you wish those whites to live ? " 

" After you have killed me," I said, " you can march over 
my dead body and kill them, but not before." 

They then wheeled, and fell in with my party of relatives^! 
who were fast arriving and encircling the whites. I then I 
requested each man to mount horse behind my relatives, and ; 
return with us to the village. All did so except Stuart. I ; 
requested him also to mount. " No," said he, *' I will get on 
behind no d — d rascal ; and any man that will live with such 
wretches is a d — d rascal." 1 

"I thank you for your compliment," I returned; "but I 
have no time to attend to it here." 

" Captain Stuart," said Charles A. Wharfield, afterward 
colonel in the United States army, '' that's very unbecoming 
language to use at such a time." 

" Come, come, boys," interposed Dr. Harrison, " let us not 
be bandying words here. We will return with them, whether 
for better or for worse." 

After I had mounted the party, I borrowed a horse of one of 
my warriors, and led them back to the village. For temporary 
safety, I deposited the party in my father's lodge. 

Fitzpatrick inquired of me, " Jim, w^hat in the name of God 
are you going to do with us ? " 

** I don't know yet," I said ; '' but I will do the best possible 
for you." 

I then called the Dog Soldiers to me, and commanded 
them, together with the Little Wolves, to surround the village, 
and not suffer a single person to go out. They all repaired to 
their stations. I next took fifty faithful men, and made a 
thorough search throughout the village, beginning at the 
extreme row of lodges. By this means I recovered all the 
goods, once in the possession of Fitzpatrick, in good condition, 
except his scarlet and blue cloths, which had been torn up for 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 231 

blankets and wearing apparel, but still not much injured for 
the Indian trade. I also recovered all his horses, with the 
exception of five, which had been taken to Bear's Tooth's 
camp. I had the goods well secured, and a strong guard of 
my relatives placed over them. 

The reader may perhaps inquire what restrained the in- 
furiated Crows from molesting the rescued party on their 
way to the village. Simply this: when an Indian has another 
one mounted behind him, the supposition is that he has taken 
him prisoner, and is conducting him to head- quarters. While 
thus placed, the Indian having him in charge is responsible 
with his life for his security ; if he fails to protect him, him- 
self and all his kindred are disgraced ; an outrage upon the 
prisoner is construed into pusillanimity on the part of the 
custodian. Prisoners are also safe while in custody in the 
village ; their inviolability is then transferred to the responsi- 
bility of the chief. This is Indian morals. 

I was informed subsequently that the Englishman, as soon 
as he approached me, cocked his gun, intending to shoot me. 
It was well for him, as well as his party, that he altered his- 
mind ; for, if he had harmed me, there would have not been a» 
piece of him left the size of a five-penny bit. I was doing all 
that lay in my power to save the lives of the party from a 
parcel of ferocious and exasperated savages ; his life depended 
by the slightest thread over the yawning abyss of death ; 
the slightest misadventure would have proved fatal. At that 
moment he insulted me in the grossest manner. The language 
that he addressed to me extorted a look of contempt from me, 
but I had not time for anger. I was suspected of complicity 
with the Indians, or, rather, of having instigated the fiendish 
plot. No man of common sense could entertain such a 
suspicion, when he sees the part I took in the affair. Had 
I conspired the tragedy, I had but to rest in my bed until the 
deed was consummated. Every man would have been killed, 
and no one but the conspirators have known their fate. To 
be sure, I was in the service of the American Fur Company, 
and Fitzpatrick was trading upon his own account ; but that 
could afford no motive to conspire his death. I had not the 
faintest objection to his selhng everything he had to the 



232 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

Crows. But they had nothing to buy with ; they had dis-«l 
pos€)^ of all their exchangeable commodities but a short time '" 
since at the fort. Further, I was personally acquainted with 
Fitzpatrick, with whom I never had an ill- word ; and some of 
his party stood high in my regard. Dr. Harrison, if only for 
his noble father's sake, I would have defended at the risk of 
my own life. They were all bound to me with the ties of 
hospitality, and I have yet to hear of any action committed by 
me that would warrant the assumption of such deep perfidy. 
I have been informed that Captain Stuart offered one thousand 
dollars to a certain individual to take my life. I can hardly 
think the charge is true, for the individual thus said to be 
bribed has had many opportunities of earning his reward, andj 
still I am alive. 

After the goods were secured and the horses brought up, it 
was discovered that Captain Stuart's horse, a fine iron-gray, 
was missing. It was traced to the possession of High Bull, a ■ 
very bad Indian, and I was informed that he had declared | 
he would kill the first man that should come after him. 
Stuart valued his horse highly, as well he might, for he was a 
noble animal : he was, therefore, very anxious to obtain him. 
Fitzpatrick had acquainted Stuart that I was the only person 
in the nation that could procure the horse's restitution. 

Accordingly, he visited me, and said, "Mr. Beckwourth " 
(he mistered me that time), " can you get my horse for me? " 

I replied, " Captain Stuart, I am a poor man in the service 
of the American Fur Company, to sell their goods and receive 
the peltry of these Indians. The Indian who has your horse 
is my best customer ; he has a great many relatives, and a 
host of friends, whose trade I shall surely lose if I attempt to 
take the horse from him. Should the agent hear of it, I 
should be discharged at once, and, of course, lose my salary." 

" Well," said he, " if the company discharge you for that, I 
pledge you my word that I will give you six thousand dollars 
a year for ten years." 

" Captain Stuart is a man of his word, and able to perform 
all he promises," said Fitzpatrick. 

" Well," replied I, " I will see what I can do." 

I then despatched an Indian boy to High Bull with the 




JAMES P. 5^0ZTF(H^^^V9r>^ 233 

message that I wanted the gray horse that he had in his 
possession. The boy delivered his message, and the Indian 
retorted with a " Ugh ! " which startled the boy almost out of 
his skin, and he came bounding back again, saying the Indian 
was mad. 

In a short time High Bull came riding his horse, and said, 
*' Medicine Calf, did you send for this horse ? " 

-I did." 

" Well, here he is." 

" Take him back," I said, " and keep him safe until I send 
for him." 

Stuart was wonder-stricken at this proceeding, as our dis- 
course was unintelligible to him. 

"If I could get my hand on that horse's neck," he said, 
*' the whole village should not get him away from me." 

I was annoyed at this braggadocio, and was glad the Indians 
did not understand him. 

Fitzpatrick requested Captain Stuart to remain quiet, 
saying, '' Beckwourth has passed his word to you that you 
shall have your horse. He will be forthcoming when you 
want him." 

The next morning they prepared to leave the village. The 
horses were all packed, and everything in readiness. 

" Am I to have my horse? " said Captain Stuart. 

" He will be here in a moment, sir," said I. 

High Bull then rode the horse up to the party and dis- 
mounted, giving me the reins. 

"Now, sir, you can mount your horse," said I, delivering 
him into his owner's possession. 

He mounted, and the party started. I took one hundred 
and fifty of my choice Dog Soldiers, and escorted them a 
distance of fifteen miles. Before leaving them, I cautioned 
Fitzpatrick to keep on his journey for three days without 
stopping to encamp. I told him that the Indians were ex- 
asperated, and the two villages were together, and it was not 
in my power to keep them from following them. I was ap- 
prehensive they would dog them a considerable distance, but 
that a three days' journey would place them in safety. 

Instead of following my advice, he encamped the following 




i 



234 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

afternoon. Within an hour after his delay, almost all his 
horses were taken by the Indians, not leaving him enough ta 
pack his goods. I afterwards learned that Stuart saved his 
gray horse. I saw the Crows had made free with my friend's 
horses, for I saw several of them about the village sub- 
sequently. However, I was satisfied I had done my duty ; 
could not have done more to my own father or brother. Sti 
my life was sought after, and my character basely assailed. 

The fate of the Crow warriors I will mention episodically 
here, as I gathered it from Fitzpatrick, and afterward from 
the Cheyennes. 

The party had encamped between two villages, having the 
Cheyennes on one side and the Siouxs on the other. They, 
were in utter ignorance of their dangerous proximi 
Being quickly discovered by one of the enemy, he retumi 
and alarmed his village, and despatched a message to th( 
neighbouring village ; and in a few moments our small band 
was surrounded by a force of fifty times their number. Their 
position was a strong one, being chosen in a deep hollow 
gully. They received the assault with unflinching intrepidity 
and fought until they were all exterminated except their, 
chief — they killing thirty-four of their foes. The chief seemejB 
to wear a charmed life ; neither lead nor arrows could harm , 
him. He advanced from his position and tantalized his foes. 
He invited them to come and kill him, saying that the seal; 
of his enemies made his lodge dark, and that he had ridde: 
their horses till he was tired of riding. They were filled wit 
admiration of his daring. They told him he was too great a^ 
brave to be killed ; that he might go, and they would not hurt 
him. 

"'No," said he, pointing to his dead companions; "you! 
have killed all my warriors ; they have gone to the land of the 
Great Spirit; now kill me, so that I may go with them. I am 
the Little Gray Bull ; come and kill me. I ask not to live. 
My heart disdains your offers of mercy. My brothers and 
friends will avenge my death." 

He would frequently advance towards his swarming 
enemies ; as he approached, they retired. He then returned 
toward his dead companions, and again defied them to come 



eir^ 



es.- 
itl| 

I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 235 

and kill him. He was eventually shot down, probably by £u 
bullet fired by one of Fitzpatrick's men, who, being encamped 
with the Cheyennes, had joined them for the sport of shooting 
Indians. There were two small boys in the party of Crows,, 
who went as moccasin-carriers. They were taken prisoners,, 
and placed behind two warriors to be conveyed to the village. 
While on the way thither, each drew his knife and plunged it 
into the body of his custodian, each killing his man. The 
little fellows were cut to pieces in an instant, which was their 
own choice, rather than to be captive to the enemy. 

When I returned from escorting Fitzpatrick, I informed the 
Crows of the fate of their party ; but I withheld all mention of 
the participation of the whites. Thereupon ensued another 
dreadful time of mourning. 

When I parted from Fitzpatrick and party, they all appeared 
very grateful for their deliverance, and, if they had not lost 
their horses when they encamped, I presume they never would 
have entertained other but friendly feelings toward me. 

Shortly after this occurrence we held a grand council 
relative to certain national affairs. I then again proceeded^ 
taking Winters and four warriors with me. When we had ap- 
proached within a mile of the fort, I happening to be consider- 
ably in advance of the party, in ascending a small hill, when 
near the summit, I peered carefully over, and discovered a 
party of Black Feet, not more than three hundred yards- 
distant, sitting by the roadside, smoking their pipes. I drew 
back my head, for I saw one Indian coming directly upon me, 
and motioned my men to a ravine close by. Then, dis- 
mounting, I crept back to the brow of the hill, and lay down 
flat until the Indian's head came within sight. I sprang 
instantly to my feet, and shot him dead. In less than a, 
minute I had his 83ilp; ran back and mounted my horse ; 
then, riding to the si limit of the hill, I displayed the scalp to 
the Indians, who were advancing at their topmost speed. As 
soon as they saw me they turned and fled, thinking, no doubt, 
that I had a strong force lying in wait. I rode on and over- 
took my party, and we reached the fort without molestation or 
pursuit. About two hours after, the Indians presented them- 
selves before the fort, and challenged us to come out and fight. 




^1 



236 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

We hoisted the scalp I had just taken in answer to the 
invitation. I consider we may thank my acquired habit oi , 
caution for our escape, for, had the Indian surprised 
instead of my surprising him, it is more than probable ths 
every one of us would have been killed. 

We were detained at the fort for the space of eight days, o! 
account of the numbers of Black Feet prowling about. They 
finally left, and as soon as we were satisfied that the way was 
clear, we loaded ten pack-horses with goods, and Winters an( 
myself — taking two men each — returned to the Crow villager 
The villages had separated during our absence; Long Hair 
and his village having taken one direction, and mine having 
taken another. Winters took Long Hair's trail with the 
goods ; I followed my village through the Bad Pass, and over- 
took it at Black Panther Creek. I then went on to Wind 
Eiver, trapping and hunting very successfully all the way, 
the journey occupying about a month. We went into winter 
quarters under Wind Eiver Mountain, at the mouth of Po-po- ^ 
on-che (Long Grass Creek). Here, after gathering a sufficien|H 
quantity of buffalo and elk horns, we supplied ourselves with a t 
large outfit of fine new bows. The horns are thrown into 
hot springs which abound in that region, where they are kej 
until they are perfectly malleable ; they are then taken out an( 
straightened, and cut into strips of suitable width. It takes 
two buffalo horns to make a bow of sufficient length. They 
are pieced in the centre, and riveted ; then they are bound 
strongly at the splice with sinew. Bows made of this 
material are equalled by none other except those made from the 
horn of the mountain sheep. 

While we were encamped here, numerous small parties of 
Crows went to war without leave, and in almost every instance 
w^ere defeated ; on some excursions they were entirely des- 
troyed. One party, consisting of thirty-nine warriors, led by 
the Constant Bird, a great war-chief, went to the Black Foot 
country, and every one of them was killed. They had killed 
and scalped one of the enemy, whom they met alone, and 
again journeyed on, when they came suddenly upon a whole 
village of Black Feet, and were themselves instantly dis- 
covered. To save themselves they resorted to an 



31 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 237 

device, which certainly offered fair to save them. On being 
discovered, instead of retreating, they kept on and entered the 
enemy's village, pretending they came with authority to con- 
clude a peace. The Indians, putting faith in their mission, 
concluded peace accordingly. While thus engaged proposing 
terms and smoking cozily, one of the Black Foot squaws stole 
a sack belonging to them. After the departure of the Crows, 
the sack was examined, and among its contents was found the 
identical scalp they had taken a short time previously. 
Eaising the war-hoop, the Black Feet assembled in great 
numbers, and, making immediate pursuit after the Crows, 
they overtook them, and massacred every one. This intelli- 
gence was brought by express from Fort Maria, the Black Foot 
trading-post, to Fort Cass, the Crow trading-post. On receipt 
of this intelligence, there was another general scene of 
mourning and vowing vengeance. I used all the arguments 
I could frame to prevent these mischievous guerilla ex- 
peditions, but they would steal off in the night in spite of my 
entreaties or my denunciations, and I did not like to resort to 
punishments. 

Several of the high functionaries inquired of me to what 
cause I attributed such repeated disasters. I answered as 
follows : ''Warriors ! the causes are clear enough. My medicine 
tells me the causes. Firstly, you robbed my white friends, 
stealing their horses away, and even attempting to take their 
lives when they were under my protection, and when you knew 
it grieved my heart to have wrong done to them. A second 
cause : you are continually acting contrary to the wishes of 
A-ra-poo-ash, who went to the Spirit Land on account of your 
I disobedience. I have also expressed the same wishes to you, 
I telling you to apply yourselves to collecting skins, in order to 
have the wherewith to purchase the things that you need. 
These, my orders, are openly disobeyed, and the Great Spirit 
is very angry with the nation for their thieving, and disregard 
of the orders of their head chief." 

They then inquired what they should do to appease the 
wrath of the Great Spirit. I answered again : " Warriors ! 
to appease the just anger of the Great Spirit, you must dis- 
continue your war-parties, and remain peaceably at home for 



238 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

one moon. You can then prepare a great sacrifice, and do 
penance for that time, and let the Great Spirit see that you 
really repent the evil you have committed. By so acting yoij 
may recover the favour which the Great Spirit has evidently 
withdrawn from you ; by continuing in your obstinate ways 
you will assuredly be rubbed out as a nation." 

The sacrifices that they offer on such occasions are curious, 
One sacrifice is made by shaving the manes and tails of somi 
of their best war-horses, and painting on their bodies a rude 
■delineation of the sun. They then turn them out, but never 
drive them away ; and if they follow the other horses, it is a 
sure sign that the Great Spirit is following them also. 

I had become so sickened with their constant mourningj 
which was kept up through the whole village day and night, 
that I determined to take a small party and see if I could nol 
■change the face of affairs. Accordingly, I raised fifty warriors, 
and started for the Cheyenne village, near the site of the 
present Fort Laramie. The first night we encamped on the 
Sweet Water Kiver. The morning ensuing was clear anc 
•cold, and we started across a plain twenty miles wide, with 
neither trees nor bushes in the whole distance. Across this 
plain was a mountain, which I wished to reach that night, 
order to provide ourselves with fire- wood and have a wa; 
camp. When we had traversed this desert about midway, 
storm came on, which is called by the mountaineers a Poo 
•der-ee. These storms have proved fatal to great numbers o: 
trappers and Indians in and about the Rocky Mountains 
They are composed of a violent descent of snow, hail, and 
rain, attended with high and piercing wind, and frequently 
last three or four days. The storm prevented our seeing the 
object for which we were directing our course. We all became 
saturated with the driving rain and hail, and our clothing and 
robes were frozen stiff ; still we kept moving, as we knew it 
would be certain death to pause on our weary course. The 
winds swept with irresistible violence across the desert prairie, 
and we could see no shelter to protect us from the freezing 
blast. Eventually we came to a large hole or gully, from 
eighteen to twenty feet deep, which had been made by the 
action of water. Into this place we all huddled, and were 



i 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 239 

greatly protected from the wind. Being exhausted with our 
exertions, we wrapped ourselves as well as we could in our 
frozen robes, and lay down. How long we lay there I could 
form no idea. When I attempted to stir, it required the 
exercise of all my strength to free myself from the mass of 
snow that had fallen upon me while asleep. I saw that if we 
tarried there it would be inevitable death to us all, and it was 
.still storming furiously. I aroused my second in command, 
named ''A Heap of Dogs," and told him that w^e must 
arouse ourselves and bestir our warriors, or we should all 
perish. 

" No," said he, " it is too painful ; let us stay here and all 
die together." 

I told him that I should go at all risks, and made a spring 
thereupon, he laying himself down again. I had not pro- 
ceeded much more than three hundred yards when I came 
upon a gulch, or dry creek, in which was a drift pile composed 
of a large accumulation of dry wood. I made an opening and 
i crawled in; then striking fire, I got it well burning, and 
returned to my perishing warriors to relate my discovery. 
'They arose and shook off the loose snow from their robes, and 
'essayed to proceed. But many of them were so weak and 
(stiffened that they could but crawl along. After getting 
I thawed and comfortably warmed before a blazing fire, I found 
there were two of our party missing. I returned with two or 
three others to search for them, and we had to dig away the 
snow to arrive at them ; but the vital spark had fled — they 
were stiff in death. We stayed by our fire, which increased 
11 body and warmth, for two days, by which time the storm 
iaving subsided, we returned home. The relatives of the lost 
ivarriors made a great mourning for them, while the friends of 
ihose who returned with me showered presents and blessings 
ipon me for having been instrumental in saving their kins- 
nen's Hves. 

It was a time of intense cold. Our whole party were more 
T less frostbitten ; my face and ears were severely frozen, and 
vere sore for a long time. The wild buffalo approached so 
lear to our fire that we could shoot them without stirring from 
>ur seats. As an excuse for my ill success, I informed the 




1 



240 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 

Crows that the wrath of the Great Spirit was not ye^ 
appeased. 

Soon after this catastrophe, I informed my people that 
wished to wander sohtary for a space, to mourn for my twd^ 
warriors who had perished in the snow. My real intention 
was to get to the fort, and thus have a respite from the un- 
ceasing crying and howling that was kept up throughout th( 
village. On making my intention known, two white mei 
named Mildrum and Cross, who were staying in our village,' 
desired to accompany me. We started accordingly, taking 
one squaw with us as servant. On our second day out, w^l 
were surprised by a party of two hundred and fifty Black < 
Feet. We took shelter in a thicket of willows, resolved to 
make a brave stand, and sell our lives for all they were worth. 
The squaw showed herself a valuable auxiliary by taking goo4^^ 
care of our horses, six in number, and building us a little foi 
of sand, behind which we stood in great security, watchii 
our enemies as they ever and anon made their appearanc 
We were thus invested for thirty-six hours, the Indians hoverj 
ing about, and losing one of their number at every discharge^ 
without daring to rush in upon us, which had they ventured 
upon would have proved our inevitable destruction. We were 
situated so close to the river that we could be supplied witk^ 
water at all times by the squaw without incurring danger. ]l 

The second night, our besiegers, having wearied of their > 
exertions, gave us comparative repose. Availing ourselves of 
the lull, we muffled our horses' feet with our capotes, cut to 
pieces for the purpose, and, stealing gently down the slope of 
the bank, we forded the shallow stream, and made the best of 
our way home. We went whooping and galloping at full 
speed into the village, displaying nineteen scalps on various 
parts of our horses. Our victorious return created the most 
thrilling sensation throughout the village. Every face was 
washed, the seal- dance was performed (the first time for two 
months), and the hilarity was universally indulged in. The 
Great Spirit's wrath was appeased, the tide had turned in 
favour of the Crows, and a continuation of victory was pre- 
dicted from this brilliant achievement. 



CHAPTEE XX. 

Excursion to the Fort— Arrival of Long Hair's Village — Building of a new 
Medicine Lodge— Triumphant Entrance of my little Wife into the 
Lodge — Attack on the Crow Village by the Siouxs — Meeting of the 
two Crow Villages — Visit of the Grovans — Visit to the Grovans and 
Fort Clarke. 

A PARTY of nine trappers happening to call at the village 

; l\ on their way to the fort, among whom was my old 

' friend Harris, I proposed to aqcompany them. We started, 

and reached the fort without accident, except sustaining 

another siege from the Black Feet. After our departure, the 

whole village followed to purchase their spring supply of 

I necessaries at the fort. They brought an immense stock of 

peltry, with which they purchased everything that they stood 

in need of. 

About a week after our arrival, the other Crow village, under 
Long Hair, encamped without the fort, all of them deep in 
mourning. The same ill luck had attended them in their ex- 
sursions as we had suffered, and eighty warriors had fallen 
without one gleam of success. I availed myself of this oppor- 
tunity to impress upon the minds of Long Hair and his 
followers that the cause of their misfortune was owing to the 
jonduct of the Crows toward Fitzpatrick and his party, which 
'epresentation they all firmly believed. 

When the two villages had finished their trading, we all 
noved back to the Big Horn, where we constructed a new 
nedicine lodge for the medicine men, prophets, and dreamers 
prophesy and hold their deliberations in. These lodges are 
srected every year — the first moon in May ; the whole tribe is 
-ssembled at the festival, and the ceremonies are continued 

16 



et. 



242 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

for seven days. Before the poles are raised, the medicine mefll 
select from the assembled multitude a warrior whom they deei?f 
qualified to assume the functions of a medicine chief. The , 
man they select is compelled to serve ; no excuse that he cafll 
frame is accepted as valid. He is then taken to a lodge-polP" 
and lashed to one end ; an eagle's wing is placed in each hand, 
and a whistle (similar to a boatswain's) placed between his 
lips. Thus equipped, he is hoisted a distance of forty feet^ 
until the pole assumes its perpendicularity and is adjusted i| 
its proper place. Eaising the first pole is analogous to laying 
the first stone. The first one being hoisted, abundance of 
others are raised into their places, until the whole space is en- 
closed. They are then covered with green buffalo hidesL.' 
descending to within six feet of the ground, the enclosurBB 
being left open at the top. About one hundred and twenty 
hides are generally required for the purpose, and a space is_ 
thus obtained capable of holding from seven to eight hundre 
persons. 

I was the subject selected on this occasion ; and when I 
raised upon the pole in the manner I have just described, th^ 
oflicials declared that I was raised solely by the elevating powe 
of my wings, whence they inferred that my medicine was vei 
powerful. 

When the lodge is completed, the medicine men and other 
functionaries assemble the most distinguished braves within 
the building for a rehearsal of their achievements and an 
enumeration of their coos. Each brave then gives an account 
of his exploits thus : ** I killed one or more Cheyennes (as the 
case may be) on such a day, in such a place, and took such and 
such spoils. You know it, Crows." The medicine chief then 
exhibits his marks, pronounces the warrior's statement correct, 
and confirms it by his record. This ratification each warrior 
passes through, and there is seldom any discrepancy between 
his statement and the record. Sham battles are then fought 
in illustration of the manner in which the differont trophies 
were acquired, the rehearsal reminding the civilized spectator 
of a theatrical representation, only that in this case the per- 
formance is more in earnest. 

This examination gone through with, the lodge is then pre- 




JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 243 

pared for the medicine men, prophets, and dreamers to go 
through the ceremony of initiating a virtuous woman. The 
members of the conclave endure a total abstinence from food 
and water for seven days previous to the ceremony, unless any 
one faints from exhaustion, in which case some slight nourish- 
ment is afforded him. 

The warriors are then drawn up in two lines, " inward 
face," a few feet apart, and the female candidate for " holy 
orders " presents herself at the lodge door. She harangues 
them when she first presents herself, and then marches between 
the extended lines of the dusky warriors. Here is the fearful 
ordeal. If she has ever been guilty of any illicit action, her 
declaration of innocence is refuted by a dozen voices, a thou- 
sand bullets riddle her body in a moment, and her flesh is 
hacked into morsels. 

This is the fearful war-path secret. It will be remembered 
that my little wife had resolved to dedicate herself to this 
service ; when only a child she had determined upon entering 
the medicine lodge. On this occasion she was candidate for 
admission. She came to me to be dressed for the ceremony ; 
she was robed in her best attire, and I painted her as the cus- 
, torn prescribes. 

: The warriors are in line, and the Sanhedrim in readiness. 
( The herald announces that Nom-ne-dit-chee (The One that 
' Strikes Three), wife of the head chief. Medicine Chief, offers 
j herself for election. Intense excitement prevails through the 
I assembly as her name is pronounced, and it is re-echoed 
' through the lines of the warriors. She presented herself at 
the door of the lodge, and calmly met the concentrated gaze 
of thousands. A breathless silence prevailed. 

She commenced her address. "Can it be said that there 
are no virtuous women among the Crows ? Can it be true that 
our medicine men cannot make medicine, nor our prophets 
prophesy, nor our dreamers dream, because so few of you are 
virtuous ? Oh, women ! it is shameful to you to be so faithless. 
Our nation is disgraced because of your conduct, and the 
Crows will soon cease to be a people. The Great Spirit is 
angry with you, and has brought disgrace upon our warriors 
on account of your evil practices. Our prairies will become 



1 



244 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

wastes like yourselves, producing no good thing; and ouni 
buffalo will bellow at you, and leave the hunting-grounds o™ 
the Crows, and go to the country of a more virtuous 
people." 

Then addressing the warriors, she continued : 

" Warriors ! I have this day volunteered to carry the san< 
the wood, and the elk-chips into the lodge. You are brave 
warriors, and I hope your tongues are not crooked. I have 
seen our women attempt to do it, and they have been cut tfll 
pieces. I am now about to try it myself. Before I start fo?" 
the materials at the other end of your extended lines, if there 
be a warrior, or any other man under the sun, who knows any 
wrong in me, or injurious to my virtue, let him speak. I, too, 
am ready to go to the Spirit Land, for there is one there wh^ 
knows me innocent of the bad deeds which disgrace the wome 
of our country." 

She then passed with a firm step between the lines of tl 
warriors to the sand. Taking the bowl, she dipped a sm? 
quantity, and returned with it to the lodge, and then made 
two other trips for the wood and elk-chips. Eeturning for the 
third time, she received the vociferations of the assembled^ 
multitude. The functionaries came forth to meet her, anji 
passed their hands over her head, shoulders, and arms, ' 
extolling her to the skies, and proclaiming there was one 
virtuous woman in the Crow nation. She was then presented 
with my medicine shield by the great medicine chief, to pre- 
serve and carry for me, no one but myself having authority to 
take it from her. 

I trembled while she was passing this perilous ordeal, and 
its triumphant termination filled me with delight. She was a 
girl of superior endowments, and, if they had been fostered by 
a Christian education, I know no woman who would surpass 
her in worth, elegance, or attainments. Had she ever failed 
in her conduct, it would have been thundered in her ears when 
she stooped to gather the sand, and a cry would have arisen 
that she was polluting the medicine of the nation. If the 
candidate is killed during the inaugurating ceremonies, nothing 
more is done in the same medicine lodge : it is immediately 
torn down, and the tribe moves to some other place, where it 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 246 

builds another lodge, and the same observances are again gone 
through with. 

In the meanwhile, women are engaged cooking and pre- 
paring a sumptuous feast of everything in season. All kinds 
of meats and dried berries, variously cooked, are spread before 
the partakers, which includes all who can obtain seats, except 
the medicine men, prophets, and dreamers. Their fast con- 
tinues for seven days, during which time their inspiration is 
continually moving them. There are plenty of warriors in 
attendance to convey messages and execute orders, like deputy 
sheriffs in a justice's court ; and as fast as an ordinance is 
dreamed out, prophesied upon, and medicined, the instructions 
are delivered to the messengers, and away they start, one 
party in this direction, and one party in another, to communi- 
cate the instructions and execute orders. 

While we were yet at the lodge, a deputation of about a 
dozen Grovan warriors came to solicit our assistance against 
the Cheyennes and Siouxs, who had made a combined attack 
upon them, killing about four hundred of their warriors. In 
reply to the application, we told them that we had lost many 
warriors during the past winter, and that we must avenge our 
own men first; but that we would go and see them in the 
course of the summer, and hold a conference with them on 
the subject. 

There are two bands of the Grovans : the Grovans of the 
Missouri, which the Crows sprung from, and whose language 
they speak, and the Grovans of the prairie, who form a band 
of the Black Feet. The Grovans of the Missouri were then 
a weak tribe or band, having, by their incessant wars with 
the surrounding tribes, been reduced to a very insignifi- 
cant number of warriors. When the Crows separated from 
them, the nation was deemed too numerous. This separation 
was effected, according to their reckoning, above a century 
since. Those Grovans and the Crows have always been on 
very friendly terms, and even to this day consider themselves 
descendants of the same family. They do not move about, 
like many wandering tribes, but remain stationary and culti- 
vate the ground. Their lodges are built of poles, filled in 
with earth ; they are spacious, and are kept comparatively neat. 



246 AUTOJBIOGBAPHY OF 

I would here remark that the nanie ** Crow " is not the 
correct appellation of the tribe. They have never yet acknow-, 
ledged the name, and never call themselves Crows. The namel 
was conferred upon them many years ago by the interpreters-, 
either through their ignorance of the language, or for the 
purpose of ridiculing them. The name which they acknow- 
ledge themselves by, and they recognize no other, is in theii 
language Ap-sah-ro-kee, which signifies the Sparrowhawk 
people. 

The villages separated at this time. Long Hair went ug 
the Yellow Stone, to Clarke's Fort, in order to kill buffalo anc 
gather fruit when ripe, while I went with my village on a^ 
circuit, and finally rested on the banks of Powder Kiver, a 
branch of the Yellow Stone. While busy killing buffalo, wo! 
were suddenly attacked by the Cheyennes to the number of tw( 
thousand warriors. I had been advised by my scouts of theii 
contemplated attack, and was consequently prepared to receive 
them. They were seriously disappointed in charging upon qui; 
€mpty lodges; and, while they were in confusion, we thunj 
dered upon them from our concealment, driving them before 
lis in all directions for upwards of two miles. Our victory 
was complete. We took sixty- three scalps, besides horses an^ 
weapons in abundance. We had eighty warriors woundedJ 
principally with lances and arrows, but every one recovered.! 
The heroine did good service, having thoroughly recovered 
from her terrible wound. She had two horses killed under 
her, but escaped unhurt herself, using her lance as adroitly as 
ever. 

The village moved on, directly after the battle, in the 
direction of our friends the Grovans ; but, before we arrived, 
we rubbed out a party of eleven Cheyennes, who had been to 
the Grovan village on a war excursion, and we carried their 
scalps and presented them to the Grovans. When we arrived 
in sight of their villages — five in number — and halted with our 
whole force on a small hill which overlooked their towns, on 
perceiving us they were filled with alarm, believing us to be 
the Cheyennes, returned with a force sufficient to exterminate 
them. But they discovered us to be Crow friends, and their 
joy was now proportionate to their former despondency. We 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 247 

passed through their villages two abreast, and all were out 
upon the tops of their lodges to welcome us as we rode 
through. The acclamations resounded on every side. They 
looked upon us as their deliverers and friends, who had come 
to protect the weak against the strong, that their wrongs 
might be avenged, and their faces be washed once more. 
From their villages we rode on to Fort Clarke through the 
Mandan villages, defiling before the fort in double columns. 
Every man in the fort was on the battlements, gazing at our 
long hues of mounted warriors. While defiling past, we were 
correctly counted by Mr. Kipp. Several alighted and visited 
the fort, and Mr. Kipp inquired^ for the Crow who spoke 
English. No one understood him until he came across a 
Mandan who spoke the Crow language fluently. They in- 
quired of him for me. I replied he was somewhere about. I 
was dressed in full costume, and painted as black as a Crow, 
and neither the Mandan nor Kipp recognized me. The 
Mandan informed Kipp that I was present. 

" Yes," said I, " Beckwourth is present." 

" Well, well ! " exclaimed Kipp, in astonishment ; '' is that 
you, Beckwourth? " 

I rephed that it was, indisputably. 

''Then why did you not declare yourself when I was in- 
quiring for you ? I certainly should never have distinguished 
you from any other Indian." 

At this moment my wife entered, carrying my boy in her 
arms.- A great interest was taken in him by all the inmates 
of the fort, greatly to the delight of his proud mother, and by 
the time the child had passed through all their hands he had 
received presents enough to load a pack-mule. 

We stayed with our friends ten days, part of which time was 
occupied in arranging a combined plan of defence against the 
Black Feet. When we departed. Long Hair presented us with 
an ample stock af corn and pumpkins. We passe(i the Yellow 
Stone, and travelled on by easy marches to the Mussel Shell 
Eiver, killing and dressing buffalo during our whole journey. 
Here we encamped to await the arrival of Long Hair. Our 
spies kept us advised of the movements of the enemy, and 
intelligence was brought us that he was manifestly concen- 



248 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

trating his forces at the Three Forks of the Missouri for a 
grand attack. I knew that we were also vigilantly watched 
by the enemy's spies, and I determined to make no movement 
that would warrant the suspicion that their movements were 
known to us. Long Hair shortly joined us with his whole 
force, and I felt perfectly at ease now, notwithstanding the 
most strategical movements of our enemy. 

After various demonstrations on either side, we feigned a 
division of our forces, and marched one half of them to a spot 
which concealed them from the tableland, thus leading the 
enemy to the belief that we were still ignorant of his inten- 
tions and his numbers. 

At daybreak the following morning we heard the noise of 
their innumerable horse-hoofs, and shortly after they burst 
upon our tenantless lodges like a thunder-cloud. I suffered 
about one -third of their warriors to become entangled in the 
village, and I then gave the order to charge. The shock was 
irresistible ; their advancing division was attacked on all sides, 
and the appearance of my concealed warriors sent a panic 
through the tribe. They fled precipitately without venturing \ 
to look round to see if they were pursued. It was a complete ^ 
rout, and purchased at but slight cost to ourselves. We 
gathered over four hundred scalps, and took fifty women pri- 
soners ; we captured five hundred horses, one hundred guns, 
and weapons, blankets, and camp equipage beyond enumera- 
tion. Our loss was four killed and three hundred wounded, i 
some of whom afterwards died of their wounds. | 

Our wounded warriors attended to, and our spoils gathered, j 
we moved on without delay to our tobacco plantation, as it | 
was now time to gather our crop. We journeyed by way of i 
the Fort, and on our road fell in with a party of fifteen Black J 
Foot warriors, who were driving a large drove of horses they I 
had stolen from the Snakes. We entrapped the enemy into a i 
ditch and kjjled the whole party, and their recent acquisition 
came in very serviceably, as our stock of horses was greatly 
diminished. We found our crop excellent, and, as our 
numerous hands made light work, our harvest was soon 
gathered. 

We then passed on at our leisure, killing more or less 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 249 

buffalo daily, until we arrived at Tongue Eiver, about the 

new moon of Leaf Fall. On our way we lost nearly three 

hundred head of horses, which were stolen by the Black Feet. 

We did not trouble ourselves to pursue them, as we felt 

confident they were but lent them, and that they would 

shortly be returned with good interest. At Tongue Eiver we 

confederated with our friends, the Grovans, in an attack upon 

the Cheyenne village ; from thence we returned to the Yellow 

; Stone, when I detached a party of one hundred and sixty 

! warriors on an excursion to the Black Foot village, and they 

returned bringing six hundred fine horses with them. We 

: then passed on to Fort Cass, where we witnessed much dejec- 

1 tion and gloom, occasioned by a serious reverse which they 

had experienced since our last visit. 



CHAPTEE XXI. 

Attacks of the Black Feet oa the Fort — Six White Men killed— Abandon- 
ment of Fort Cass — Fort constructed at the Mouth of the "Eose Bud" 
— Removal of the Village — Peace concluded with the As-ne-boines — 
Hairbreadth Escape — Death of Mr. Hunter, of Kentucky. 

WHILE we were indulging in a display of our captured 
horses while encamped outside the fort, the Spotted 
Antelope, one of my relatives, came to me, and intimated that i 
1 had better visit the fort, as they had lost six men by the; 
Black Feet. He was in mourning-paint for the victims,: 
because the whites were his friends. I dismounted, and| 
passed through the encampment on my way to the gate. As 
usual, I found my father's lodge, in which my little wife 
resided, pitched nearest to the fort, with the other lodges of 
my various relatives grouped in a row, their contiguity to my 
parent's lodge being graduated by their propinquity of kin. I 
found Pine Leaf seated by my wife, amusing herself with the 
Black Panther (whose civilized patronymic was Little Jim), 
while ahiiost all the other women were dancing. I delayed a 
moment to inquire why these two women were not dancing 
with the others. Pine Leaf, with solemn air and quivering 
lip, said, ** Your heart is crying, and I never dance when your 
heart cries." 

" Neither do I," said the little woman. 

This was a greater concession than the heroine had ever 
made to me before. She had told me that she would marry me, 
and she had frequently informed my sisters and my little wife 
of a similar intention ; but this promise was always modified 
with a proviso — a contumacious **i£>" which could never be 
avoided. " I will marry the Medicine Calf," she would say, 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 251 

*' If I marry any man." A great many moons had waxed 
and waned since she first spoke of the pine leaves tm-ning 
yellow, but they had not yet lost their verdm^e, and I had 
iailed to discover a red-handed Indian. 

In conversation with Mr. Tulleck, the commandant of the 
fort, I learned that they had been incessantly harassed by the 
Black Feet ever since our last visit, who had infested them on 
all sides, rendering it extremely dangerous for any of the in- 
mates to venture outside the gate. He further informed me 
that he had had six men massacred and fifty-four horses stolen. 
He had sent for me, he said, to come and select a new site, 
where they would be liable to less molestation, and be less in 
fear of their lives. 

I consulted with our chiefs and braves upon the selection of 
a more secure location for a new fort, and it was unanimously 
agreed upon that the mouth of the Eose Bud, thirty miles 
lower down the river, offered the best situation, as the country 
was fair and open all round, and afforded the hostile Indians 
no good places of concealment. There was also a fine grazing 
■country there, and plenty of buffalo, so that a village of the 
Crows could winter under the fort, and afford them the pro- 
tection of their presence. 

As soon as the Crows had completed their purchases, I 
started them up the Big Horn on their way back, with the 
promise that I would rejoin them in a few days. I then took 
a boat filled with goods, and twenty men, and dropped down 
the river until we came across a beautiful location for the new 
fort. We then returned, and removed the effects of the present 
iOrt to the new site, and then immediately set about construct- 
ing a new post. We measured off one hundred and eighty 
yards square, which w^e enclosed as quickly as possible with 
hewn timber eighteen feet high, and of sufiicient thickness to 
re^st a rifle ball : all the houses required for the accommoda- 
tion of the inmates w^ere commodiously constructed inside. 

Having finished the construction of the fort, I gave full m- 
structions for the management of its affairs, and then departed 
for the village, where my presence was required to incite the 
Indians to devote themselves to trapping and hunting buffalo, for 
which service I was paid by the American Fur Company. 




252 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

As I was about starting, a deputation of fifty As-ne-boines 
came to the post, leaving a letter from Mr. M'Kenzie at the> ^ 
lower fort addressed to me, requesting me to constrain the As- II 
ne-boines into a treaty of peace with the Crows, in order that ' 
their incessant wars might be brought to a close, and the 
interests of the company less interfered with. Had they 
arrived earlier, while the village was present at the old fort^ 
I would have immediately called a council of the nation, and 
had the business settled. I seriously regretted their inoppor- 
tune arrival, as it not only delayed the conclusion of the pro- 
posed peace, which was in every way desirable, but it would ' 
have saved me a very hazardous and anxious journey with the 
whole deputation of hostile Indians on our way to the village, 
where I had but one companion as a guarantee for my security. 
I was aware that the Indians remembered many a horse- 6or- 
r owing adventure wherein I had taken an active part, and I 
had had too much experience of Indian character not to 
appreciate to the full the imminent danger I incurred in trust- 
ing myself with this band of savages in our intended journey . 
across the wilderness. , 

Mr. Kean, a native of Massachusetts, was my companion on \ 
this excursion. We started on foot, in company with the party 
of As-ne-boines. Everything went well until our fourth day 
out. We were travelling leisurely along, the Indians in close ' 
conversation among themselves of which I understood but 
little — not enough to make out the subject of their consulta- 
tion, though I mistrusted I formed the matter of their dis- 
course. One of the chiefs and his son were a few rods in 
advance, in close conversation. The party at length halted^ 
and sat down on the grass to smoke. My companion, un- 
suspicious of evil, started on to kill buffalo while the party 
rested. The chief and his son, who were in advance, returned,, 
and passed one on each side of me. I instantly heard a gun- 
cUck, which I felt certain was the sound of cocking it. I turned 
my head, and saw the chief's son with his piece levelled ready 
to shoot. I sprang to my feet, and grasped the barrel of his 
gun just as he discharged it, the load passing into the air. I 
drew my battle-axe, and raised it to strike the treacherous 
rascal down ; but a chief arrested my arm, saying, as nearly 



p 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 253 



as I could understand him, " Hold ! Don't strike him : he 
is a fool ! " 

A general melee then ensued among the party ; high words 
were bandied, and there seemed an equal division among them 
on the propriety of taking my life. By this time I had with- 
drawn a few yards, and stood facing them, with my rifle 
jeady cocked. On hearing the report, my companion ran 
"back, and, seeing how matters stood, exclaimed, " There is a 
fort just ahead, let us run and get into it ; we can then fight 
the whole parcel of the treacherous devils." 

We started for it, but the Indians were ahead of us ; they 
arrived there first, and took possession of it, and again had a 
long confab, while we remained at their mercy outside. The 
party opposed to killing me appeared greatly to predominate, 
and we were not again molested, though neither I nor Mr. 
Kean slept one moment during the ensuing night. In the 
morning we started on our way, but we kept strict watch on 
their movements. The following afternoon I discovered two 
Indians on the hill-side, and, although they were at a great 
distance, I conceived them to be Crows, most likely spies from 
the village, which proved to be the case. No one had seen 
them but myself, and I imparted my discovery to my friend. 
I then told the head chief, who well understood the Crow 
language, that we were near the Crow village, and that if any 
of them should visit our camp during the night, he must be 
sure to call me before he suffered any of his people to speak to 
them, or they would be all inevitably massacred. He accord- 
ingly issued orders to that purport to all his men, and erected 
his lodge in front of the party, so as to be the first inquired of 
by the Crows. I and my partner then lay down, and soon 
were sound asleep. 

About midnight the chief shook me,, and informed me the 
Crows were coming. A host of warriors swarmed around our 
encampment, and pointing their guns at the camp, said, 
"What people are you? Bud-da-ap-sa-ro-kee " (we are 
Sparrowhawks). 

" Go back," I replied; " I have other people with me, who 
are come to make peace." 

On hearing my voice,^which they readily recognized, they 
retired. 



254 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

The next morning we moved on and met the village, who* 
were approaching toward us. The As-ne-boines, on seeing- 
such a host, began to tremble. Our soldiers came driving 
along, my brave Dog Soldiers ineffectually striving to keep 
them back; for, as they restrained them in one place, they 
broke through in another, until the warriors rode almost upon 1 
the toes of their guests. A council was shortly called to listen 
to the arguments of the envoye extraordinaire from the As-ne- 
boine nation. Several of the council applied to me for my 
sentiments on the" subject, but I deferred it to the collective 
wisdom of the nation. 

When I had at first arrived, like many another foolish man^ 
I mentioned to my wife the narrow escape of my life I had just 
made, and she, like many another foolish woman, unable to 
contain herself, related the information to Pine Leaf, who was- 
her bosom friend. While the council were busy deliberating^ 
and some explanatory statements had been listened to regard- 
ing a matter which I supposed would have afforded no food 
for discussion, the heroine entered the assembly. 

** Warriors ! " she said, ** you are assembled here, I believe^ 
to deliberate on peace or war with the As-ne-boines. In coming 
to our village with the Medicine Calf, they attempted to take 
his life, and came very near accomplishing their end. Will 
you conclude peace with a people who possess such base 
hearts? I do not believe you will." 

Such an instantaneous change of countenance in an assembly 
was never before seen. Pine Leaf, the nation's favourite, had 
spoken, and, as usual, had spoken to the purpose. Though a 
woman, her influence was everywhere strongly felt, even in 
council. She had a gift of speech which the bravest warriors 
might well envy ; she was ever listened to with admiration, 
and in truth, though young, her judgment on all important 
matters was generally guided by sound sense. 

Every eye in the assembly flashed fire at the intelligence of 
this contemplated treachery, and was directed first upon me 
and then upon the As-ne-boines. I immediately arose and 
said, 

" Warriors ! I conducted these people to our village because 
they said they were anxious to make peace with us. While on 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 255 

the road, one young As-ne-boine, whom they declared to be a- 
fool, attempted to shoot me, but the others interfered to pre- 
vent hmi, and were sorry for what he had done. This was na 
deliberate treachery ; it was the folly of the young man, and 
the party showed their friendly intention by their prompt in- 
terference. Do not allow this to make any difficulty in the 
way of a peace with the As-ne-boines." 

My obligation to the Fur Company made it my duty to- 
smooth the matter over, for at this moment the slightest 
whisper from me would have sufficed to hack the whole depu- 
tation to pieces in a moment. 

The council held a short consultation together, and the first 
councillor arose and thus addressed himself to the chief of the 
As-ne-boines : 

* As-ne-boines ! you behold that chief (pointing to me) ? 
Our women and all our warriors carry him here (holding out 
his left hand and indicating the palm with a finger of his right 
hand) ; he is our chief ; he is our great chief ; he and his- 
brother (Long Hair), who sits by him, are the two great chiefs- 
of our nation. It is he who has made us great and powerful ; 
it is he who has rendered us the terror of other nations ; it is- 
he who, by living with his white friends for many winters, and 
knowing them all, has brought us guns and ammunition, and 
taught our young men how to use them. It is he who has 
built us a fort, where we can at all times go and buy every- 
thing we require. He loves the white man, and has made all 
the whites to love us. We fight for the whites, and kill their 
enemies, because they are friends of our chief. If you had 
killed him, our nation would have mourned in blood. 

"Listen, As-ne-boines! If you had killed our chief, our 
whole nation would have made war on you, and we would 
have put out your last fire, and have killed the last man of 
your nation. We would have taken possession of your 
hunting-grounds ; our women would have become warriors 
against you ; we would have hunted you as we hunt the wild 
beasts. Now go ! we will not harm you. Go ! We will sleep 
to-night ; but we will not make peace until we sleep, and our 
hearts have considered upon it. Come to us again when your 
hearts are clean : they are foul now ; and when you come, you 



b 



1 



256 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

must have your tongues straight. You are poor ; you have no 
horses. We have plenty, and will give you horses. I have 
done. Go ! " 

They made no reply, but went straightway out of the lodge. 
A horse was furnished to each man ; those who were without 
guns received one, and several articles were presented to them 
by our women. " Go ! go ! go ! " was dinned in their ears from : 
all present ; and, accordingly, they went. jfl 

They proceeded immediately to the trading-post, where they 
gave a stirring narrative of what they had seen. They told 
them they had seen many chiefs, but never one approaching to 
the great Crow chief ; that all his people loved him ; that when 
he entered the village, all the children ran up to him, and shook 
him by the hand ; and that they had never seen a chief so 
much respected by his warriors and all his people. They told 
how, when I arrived, I was presented with the best war-hors^ 
they had ever seen; that he had two panther skins on his 
saddle, and a collar about his neck trimmed with bears' claws, 
and a bridle surpassing all they had ever heard of. They said j 
that they would all have been killed on their approach to the j 
village, as the Crows came to the camp during the night, but i 
that the great chief only spoke one word, and the tribe was 
stilled, and departed in a moment. Not a word did they ; 
mention about their attempt on my Ufe. They merely B£ud|l 
that the Crows would not make peace with them, but had 
wished to treat again with them at some future time. I sus- 
pect they must have told marvellous tales when they reached 
home, for we were not troubled with them any more for a long 
time. 

The Crows have something of the Gallic temperament : they 
must have excitement, no matter whence derived, although the 
excitement of war suits them by far the best. They were again 
clamorous for war, they did not care against whom, and I alone 
must lead them, as my presence was a guarantee of success. 
Many of my friends opposed my going. My father's medicine 
told him that I should meet with a great disaster. My wife 
pleaded with me to remain. Even the heroine, who never be- 
fore showed reluctance to engage in war, had forebodings of 
disaster, and earnestly entreated me to stay. But I had 




Mystery, or Medicine, Man, with Mystery Drum, 
(Blackfoot.) 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 257 



one hundred and fifty-four of my best followers to engage in 

; an expedition. I must confess that if I had obeyed my own 

■ feelings, or, rather, if I had attended to my own mis- 

; givings, I should certainly have stayed at home. What 

motive prompted me to go? and what gain could possibly 

accrue to mixing with savages in their intestine broils with 

other savages ? 

However, we started. Little White Bear, as brave a warrior 
as ever drew bow-string, was my second in command, and 
Pine Leaf was one of the number. We started for the Black 
i Foot territory, travelling by way of the fort, where we stayed 
I three days. They had already finished their pickets, and the 
work was progressing finely. There were fifty men employed 
upon it. 

Mr. Tulleck inquired where I was going. I told him that 
my warriors wanted employment, and, to gratify them, I was 
going to the Black Foot country in quest of scalps or horses. 
He said, '' For God's sake, do not go, Jim ! I have a presenti- 
ment that a great calamity awaits you — that I shall never see 
you again. For your own safety, turn back to the village, or 
rest here." 

Many of my friends, who were working at the fort, expressed 

I the same sentiments; all mentioned a foreboding that, if I 

j should venture into the Black Foot country with my little 

I force, I should infallibly be cut to pieces. I thought such 

despondency only natural, since they had been so badly 

harassed with the enemy that their fears magnified the 

danger. Still it was singular that both civilized and savage 

should give way to such forebodings. 

The morning for our departure came; my warriors were 
unpatient to get on. Some had galloped on ahead, and were 
prancing and curveting, awaiting my departure. I prepared 
aay going with a heavy heart, which ill fortified me against the 
representations of my friends. I started, Mr. Tulleck and 
several of my friends accompanying me a few rods. I bade 
ihem good-bye : my friend TuUeck's eyes filled with tears. I 
^as seized with momentary hesitation : what did all this 
)ortend? I looked round for my moccasin-bearer; he had 

17 




258 AUTOBIOGBAFHY OF 

gone on : this determined me ; I dashed off to my warrior 
resolved to listen to no such idle fears. 

There was a young gentleman with me named Hunter, 
Kentuckian, who, having a great curiosity to witness an India 
battle, insisted on joining in the expedition. The first night 
that we were encamped, being influenced by what I had heard 
:all around me, and fearing some disaster might happen to him 
among us, I begged of him to go back to the fort and await o 
return there. He refused to listen to me. We then offeree 
him as many of our best horses as he might w^ish to select 
after our return, as an inducement for him to be hired to 
go back. But all in vain. '' I have started with you," he 
said, " and I will go ; if I am to lose my life, there is no help 
for it." 

My warriors did not wish him to go, as they feared a whi 
man might bring us bad luck. Some expressed a fear t 
he might be killed with us, and that I should then cry. 
was a free trapper in the country, and much respected at t 
fort. 

We continued our course until we arrived at Little Bo; 
Elder Creek. Here our spies discovered a Black Foot vill 
which, from a cursory examination, we concluded consisted 
of but few lodges. At midnight we abstracted a large drove 
of about seven hundred horses, and started directly upon our 
return. We did not drive so fast as is customary on such 
occasions, for we thought that the few Black Feet that the 
village contained could be easily disposed of, should they ven- 
ture to molest us. 

About ten the next morning, our spies, being about six 
hundred yards in advance of us, signalled to us to hasten, as 
they had discovered some men. We accelerated our speed, 
thinking there might be a chance of adding a few scalps to oui' 
present booty. Having advanced a few hundred yards, we 
discovered more Black Feet than we had bargained for, and I 
became aware that a terrible battle must ensue. The whole 
scene appeared alive with them, outnumbering us ten to one. 
There was not a moment to lose. I directed all the boys to 
drive on the horses with the utmost speed possible, and to 
await us two days at the fort ; if we should not arrive during 



1 






JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 259 

that time, to go home and report to the village that we were 
all slain. I also requested Mr. Hunter to select the best horse 
in the herd, and go with the boys. But he refused, saying, 
if there was any fighting in the wind, he wanted to have his 
hand in it. I then endeavoured to persuade the heroine to go, 
but was answered with an emphatic " No ! " 

The boys started with the horses, but only succeeded in 
reaching the fort with about two hundred. We had a very 
poor chance for defending ourselves against such an over- 
whelming force as was then before us in an open-field fight. 
There was no fort, nor breast-work, nor rocks, nor bushes to 
protect us, but we were exposed to the storm of bullets and 
arrows that they poured upon us without ceasing. At last we 
discovered a large hole in front of a hill, and we all leaped into 
it for shelter. The enemy, confident of an easy victory, dis- 
played great bravery for Black Feet. They charged up to the 
very brink of our entrenchment, discharging their volleys at 
' us in lines, which, considering the advantage of their position, 
produced comparatively little effect. One of my warriors 
repeatedly ran out of the entrenchment alone, and drove all 
before him. Exasperated at my cursed misadventure, and 
absolutely sickening at the scene of mourning we should occa- 
' sion at the village, I grew desperate, and lost all consideration 
■ of safety. I sprang from the gully, and rushed singly among 
a crowd of besiegers; wherever I advanced the enemy drew 
back. It was truly astonishing to see three or four hundred 
■recede, and many of them fairly run, as often as two or three 
of us showed ourselves at the top of the bank, when they might 
ihave burned us to death with the powder from the muzzles of 
Ibheir guns. They seemed to be panic-struck or bewildered. 
The warrior who had charged so often among them had his 
:high broken; he then sat down and tantahzed them. He 
:old them who he was, how many of their warriors' scalps he 
lad taken, and at what times ; how many of their squaws and 
lorses he had captured ; and then desired them to come and 
inish him, and take his scalp, for it had long been forfeit to 
hem. He reminded me of the words of the poet, which I 
.jiad read when at home : 




260 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

" Remember the wood where in ambush we lay, 
And the scalps which we bore from your nation away ; 
Remember the arrows I shot from my bow, 
And remember your chiefs by my hatchet laid low." * 

He was soon killed, being pierced with numerous arrows 
bullets. 

An old brave in the pit exclaimed, " Let us not stay in 
hole to be shot like dogs ; let us go out and break through the 
ranks of the Black Feet. They cannot kill us all ; some will 
get way. I will go foremost ; I can break through their ranks 
alone." 

Some hundreds of the enemy had climbed the hill, as they 
could not half of them get to the side of the pit, and thence 
they showered volleys of stones upon us, which annoyed us 
more than their bullets. At length, Little White Bear desired 
the old brave to lead, and we would follow and break through 
their hne. I requested Hunter to keep as near the front 
possible when we made the charge, as he would incur les 



4 



1 



* From " Alknoomook," a very beautiful little poem by Mrs. Hunter, wife 
of the very celebrated English physician. So far as I can remember it im^ 
perfectly it is as follows : 

" The sun sets at night and the stars shun the day. 
But glory remains though the light fades away ; 
Begin ye tormentors, your threats are in vain. 
For the son of Alknoomook shall never complain. 

Remember the wood where in ambush we lay, 
And the scalps which we bore from your nation away ; 
Why so slow, do you wait till I shrink from my pain ? 
No, the son of Alknoomook shall never complain. 

Remember the arrows he shot from his bow. 
Remember the chiefs by his hatchet laid low, 
Remember his war-whoop again and again ; 
The son of Alknoomook shall never complain. 

I go to the land where my father has gone, 
And his ghost shall rejoice in the fame of his son ; 
Now the flame rises bright, I am freed from my pain, 
And the son of Alknoomook hath ceased to complain," 

C. G. Leland. 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 261 

danger of being cut down. He took his place accordingly. 
Out we rushed from the pit, the old warrior leading the way, 
and hewing down right and left, until the enemy finally opened 
their column and suffered us to pass through. We left twenty- 
four of our party behind, either killed in the pit, or cut down 
in forcing their column. I was near the rear, and, after 
passing a short distance from their line, I came upon poor 
Hunter, who had his back broken by a ball, and was in a 
dying condition. I asked him if he was badly hurt ; he an- 
swered, " Yes, I am dying ; go on and save yourself : you can 
do me no good." 

When the Little Bear came up to him, he sat down by his 
side and refused to leave him. He said, " I will die with my 
white friend, and go with him to the spirit land." 

I looked and saw him fall over upon the body of poor 
Hunter ; he was also killed. 

Pine Leaf had cut her way through in advance of me, and 
was dodging first one way and then the other, as she awaited 
for me to cut up. 

" Why do you wait to be killed ? " she inquired. " If you 
wish to die, let us return together ; I will die with you." 

We continued our retreat for a few miles, but the enemy no 
longer molested us ; he had not followed us more than two 
hundred yards. We had left all our robes behind us in the 
pit, that we might not be burdened with them in our charge. 
The weather was extremely cold, and we halted to build a 
large fire, which we rested by all night, warming one side at 
a time. 

The old brave who led the assault lost a son in the strife ; 
he continued to sing all the way until he became hoarse, and 
he could sing no more. He prayed to the Great Spirit to give 
him an opportunity to avenge his loss, which prayer was 
accorded several times over during the ensuing winter. The 
heroine lost one joint off the little finger of her right hand, 
amputated with a bullet ; the httle finger of her other hand 
she had cut off at the death of her twin brother. Fortunately, 
I had saved my capote, and I gave it to her to wear, as she 
was suffering severely with the cold. We also killed several 
buffaloes on our way to the fort, and made wrappers of the 



262 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 

raw hides for many of the men ; still a number were badl] 
frozen in their bodies and limbs. 

This was my Russian campaign. I lost more men, an^ 
suffered more from the cold on this expedition, than in an] 
other in which I had command either before or since. 

The boys reached the fort with the horses before we did.^| 
They had more than enough to mount us all on our way 
home. There was great joy at the fort at our return in such 
numbers, as they had supposed it impossible for one of us to 
escape. 

When I left the lamented Hunter upon the field, he said, 
" Jim, when you pass this way, I ask you to take my bones 
to the fort, and have them buried. Write home to my friends, 
and inform them of my fate. Good-bye ! Now go and save 
yourself." 

" It shall be done," I said ; and the following spring it ws 
done as I had promised. 

We rested at the fort four or five days to recruit ourselves;^ 
While staying there, a party of thirty warriors from Loi 
Hair's village came to see how they were progressing with 
fort. There were some in my party who belonged to that 
village, and they returned with them. They also informed us 
where our village was, as it had been removed during our 
absence. Having provided ourselves with robes in the place 
of those we had left behind, we started onward with dejected 
feelings, and in deep mourning. 

On our arrival we found the village likewise in mourning. 
They had lost four warriors by the Black Feet while resisting 
an attempt to steal our horses. When informed of oui* 
disaster, there was a general renewal of their lamentations ; 
more fingers were lopped, and heads again scarified. The 
Medicine Calf had been defeated, and for some hidden cause 
the Great Spirit was again wroth with the Crows. 



CHAPTEE XXII. 

steoric Shower — Its Effects upon the Indians — Their Sacrifice to the Great 
Spirit — Continued Hostilities with the Black Feet — A Black Foot burned 
in the Crow village — Visit to the Fort. 

IN case any captious " elders of the congregation " had been 
inclined to throw the blame of my recent disaster upon my 
shoulders, I was provided with a sufficient portent to screen 
i me from consequences. After quitting the fort on our way to 
I Little Box Elder (as before related), and while exhausting all 
I my powers of persuasion to induce Mr. Hunter to return, we 
j observed a remarkable meteoric shower, which filled us all 
, (more particularly my followers) with wonder and admiration. 
; This was at our first encampment after leaving the fort in the 
latter end of October, 1832. Although my warriors were 
• ready to face death in any form, this singular phenomenon 
I appalled them. It was the wrath of the Great Spirit showered 
visibly upon them, and they looked to me, in quality of medi- 
1 cine chief, to interpret the wonder. I was as much struck with 
t the prodigious occurrence, and was equally at a loss with my 
j untutored followers to account for the spectacle. Evidently I 
'must augur some result therefrom, and my dejected spirits did 
not prompt me to deduce a very encouraging one. I thought 
of all the impostures that are practised upon the credulous, 
and my imagination suggested some brilliant figures to my 
mind. I thought of declaring to them that the Great Spirit 
was pleased with our expedition, and was lighting us on our 
way with spirit lamps ; or that these meteors were the spirits 
of our departed braves, coming to assist us in our forthcoming 
fight. But I was not sanguine enough to indulge in any 



264 • AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

attractive oratory. I merely informed them that I had noti 
time to consult my medicine, but that on our return to th© 
village I v^ould interpret the miracle to them in full. 

On our arrival, I found the people's minds still agitated withj 
the prodigy. All were speaking of it in v^onder and amaze- 
ment, and my opinion was demanded respecting the conseJ 
quences it portended. Admonished by my defeat, I had no 
trouble in reading the stars. I informed them that ®ur people 
had evidently offended the Great Spirit ; that it was becausej 
of his wrath I had suffered defeat in my excursion, and re-f 
turned with the loss of twenty-three warriors. I thence in-- 
ferred that a sacrifice must be made to appease the wrath of 
the Great Spirit, and recommended that a solemn assembly be ^ 
convened, and a national oblation offered up.'*' |l 

I was fully confident that by thus countenancing such pagan ^ 
superstitions I was doing very wrong, but, like many a more 
prominent statesmen in civilized governments, I had founc 
that I must go with the current, and I recommended 8 
measure, not because it was of a nature to benefit the country^ 
but simply because it was popular with the mass. 

The camp in which we then were was a mourning-camp, in 
which medicine would have no effect. Therefore we moved tc 
Sulphur Eiver, ten miles distant, in order to offer up our sacri- 
fice. All the leading men and braves assembled, and I was 
consulted as to the kind of offering proper to make for th^l 
purpose of averting the wrath that was consuming us. I " 
ordered them to bring the great medicine kettle, which was of 
brass, and capable of holding ten gallons, and was purchased 
at a cost of twenty fine robes, and to polish it as bright as the 
sun's face. This done, I ordered them to throw in all their 
most costly and most highly-prized trinkets, and whatsoever 
they cherished the most dearly. It was soon filled with their 
choicest treasures. Keepsakes, fancy work on which months 
of incessant and patient toil had been expended, trinkets, 

* I had the good fortune to witness the whole of this "star shower," being 
then in my ninth year. Nothing like it has ever been seen. There were for 
hours thousands of meteors visible at once, all tending in one direction. It 
was a sight well calculated to cause awe in persons of higher culture than 
simple Indians. — C G. Leland. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 265 

jewels, rings so highly prized by them that the costliest gems 
of emperors seemed poor by their side — all these were thrown 
into the kettle, along with a bountiful contribution of fingers, 
until it would hold no more. I then had weights attached to 
it, and had it carried to an air-hole in the ice where the river 
-was very deep, and there it was sunk with becoming ceremony. 
Three young maidens, habited like May queens, carried the 
burden. "^^ 

This great sacrifice completed, the minds of the people were 
relieved, and the result of the next war-party was anxiously 
looked forward to to see if our oblation was accepted. Their 
crying, however, continued unabated, so much to the derange- 
ment of my nervous system that I was fain to retire from the 
village and seek some less dolorous companionship. My bosom 
friend and myself therefore started off unnoticed, and travelled 
on without stopping until we came to a hill some seven or 
eight miles distant. He was pre-eminently a great brave, at 
all times self-possessed and unobtrusive. I always considered- 
him as endowed with the most solid sense, and possessing the 
clearest views of any Indian in the nation. His spirits were 
generally somewhat dejected, but that I attributed to the loss 
of all his relatives. When I wished to enjoy a little converse 
or sober meditation, he alw^ays was my chosen companion, as 
there were qualities in his character which interested me and 
assimilated with my own. He never craved popularity, never 
envied the elevation of others, but seemed rather to rejoice at 
another person's success. He would listen to me for an entire 
day when I spoke of my residence with the whites, and told 
of their great battles, where thousands were slain on both 
sides ; when I described their ships carrying immense guns 
capable of sw^eeping hundreds of men away at a discharge ; 
and when I depicted to him their forts, to which our forts 
for size or strength were but as ant-hills. I then would tell 

* This idea indicates great national shrewdness and knowledge of 
humanity. Nothing relieves the heart so much when one is suffering from 
some vague or even determined fear as doing something, be it confession of 
sins or sacrifice. In this the Indians differ in nothing from white people. 
They have thus the feeling that, come what may, they have done all they 
could.— C. G. Leland. 



266 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

him of the great Atlantic Ocean, and the millions of whit*' 
men living beyond it ; of countries where there was no smnmer, 
afid others where there was no winter, and a thousand other 
marvels, of which I never spoke to other warriors, as their 
minds were too limited to comprehend me. 

After listening to me with the deepest attention until T- 
would grow tired of talking, he would seem to be perfectly- 
amazed, and would be lost in a deep reverie for some time, as. 
though endeavouring to raise his ideas to a level with the vast, 
matters he had been listening to. Occasionally he would tell 
me of the traditions handed down from generation to genera- 
tion in the Indian race, in which he w^as '* elegantly learned." 
He told me of the mighty tribes of men who had once in- 
habited this vast continent, but were now exterminated byj| 
internecine wars ; that their fathers had told them of a great, 
flood, which had covered all the land, except the highest peaks- J 
of the mountains, where some of the inhabitants and the^ 
buffaloes resorted, and saved themselves from destruction. 

We were on a hill, as before mentioned, some seven or eight 
miles from the village, engaged in one of these long cosmo- 
graphical discussions, when my companion, chancing to turn 
his head, descried some object at a great distance. Pointing; 
it out to me with his finger, "There is a people," he exclaimed.. 
I looked in the direction indicated, and saw a small party of" 
Black Feet approaching. 

" Sit still," said I " and let us see where they encamp ; we^ 
will have every one of them to-night." 

We watched them until they halted at a couple of small 
Indian forts, with which the country abounds, and we saw 
they were soon joined by four or five others who came from 
another direction, and who were evidently scouts. From the 
direction which they came, I saw they had not discovered ojj^^ 
village. ^BI 

"Now," said I, "let us return; we will have that par^^* 
We will collect a few trusty warriors, and not mention our 
discovery to a living soul, not even telUng our warriors the 
errand we are upon until we get within sight of the camp-fires 
of the enemy. Then we will return with their scalps, and put 
an end to this howling that deafens my ears." 



p 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 267 



We started on our way to the village. I desired him to 
select from his friends, and I would assemble my own. 

" No," said he, " my friends are fools. I don't want them. 
But you collect your warriors, and I will be one of them." 

Accordingly, I went to my father, and desired him to send 
for about seventy-five of my brothers and relatives, and tell 
them the Medicine Calf wished to see them ; but I charged 
him not to tell them they were going away from the village. 
As they mustered one at a time, I acquainted them that I 
wanted them to leave the village singly and with the utmost 
secrecy, to meet me with their guns and battle-axes at a certain 
hour and in such a place, and in the meantime to answer no 
word to whatever question might be asked them. 

At the appointed hour I repaired to the post, and found 
them all in readiness. I then marched them to the place of 
attack. When we arrived within sight of our foes we found 
them all very merry ; they were singing the Wolf Song, or 
Song of the Spies, they having no suspicion that they were so 
near to the Crow village. We went cautiously up to the forts, 
which were but a few yards apart ; and while they were yet 
smging we pointed our guns, and, at a signal given by me, all 
fired. The whole party were slain ; their notes were cut short 
in death. Taking their scalps (nineteen in number) and guns, 
we reached our village by daylight, and entered it singing, 
dancing, and shouting. 

The village was aroused, and men, women, and children 
came running from all directions to learn the cause of the 
disturbance. We displayed our nineteen scalps, and I took to 
myself full credit for the force of my medicine in divining 
where to find the foe, and cognizance was taken of the fact in 
the medicine lodge. We had five days' dancing to do full 
justice to this brilliant achievement, and I had become so tired 
of their continual mourning that their savage yells of delight 
seemed quite a luxury. 

One night a party of Black Feet came to borrow some of 
our horses, and happened to be caught in the act. The alarm 
was given, the marauders fired upon, and one of them had his 
leg broken by a ball. He was found the next morning, unable 
to get away ; but he sat up and defended himself until he had 



268 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

shot his last arrow. He was then brought into the village, 
and it was decided to burn him. A large fire was built, which 
was surrounded by hundreds, and when the fire was well burnt 
up the poor fellow was thrown in. This was the first act of 
the kind I had ever known the Crows to commit ; but there ^ 
was no preventing it. It is an appalling sight to behold a |l 
human being, or even an inferior animal, perish in the flames ; 
I trust my eyes may never witness such another scene. To 
see the writhing agony of the suffering wretch when cast into « 
the darting flames, and hear his piercing shrieks as the blaze '" 
gradually envelopes his whole body, until the life is scorched 
out of the victim, and he falls prostrate among the logs, soon 
to become a charred mass of cinders undistinguishable from 
the element that consumed it — it is indeed a sight only fit for 
savages to look at. 

I learned this one truth while I was with the Indians, 
namely, that a white man can easily become an Indian, but 
that an Indian could never become a white man. Some of the 
very worst savages I ever saw in the Eocky Mountains were 
white men, and I could mention their names and expose some 
of their deeds, but they have most probably gone to their final 
account before this. 

Our village now moved on toward the fort to purchase our 
spring supplies. Both villages could only raise forty packs of 
beaver and nineteen hundred packs of robes ; but for their ;|| 
continual wars, they could as easily have had ten packs for 
one. But it is impossible to confine an Indian to a steady 
pursuit — not even fighting ; after a while he will even tire of 
that. It is impossible to control his wayward impulses ; ap- 
plication to profitable industry is foreign to his nature. He 
is a vagrant, and he must wander ; he has no associations to 
attach him to one spot ; he has no engendered habits of thrift 
or productiveness to give him a constant aim or concentration 
of purpose. 

Both villages at length assembled at the new fort, and our 
spring trading was briskly entered into. We rested for over a 
week, and I then proposed moving, as the time was approach- 
ing for our building a new medicine lodge. The night preceding 
our proposed departure, thieves were discovered among our 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH, 269 



horses ; the alarm was given, and a party went in pursuit. 
They returned with six Sioux scalps, and two of our own men 
wounded. The remainder of the rascals succeeded in getting 
away with sixteen of our animals, we not considering them 
worth following after. 

We then postponed our departure four days, and devoted 
ourselves to noise and festivity. The welkin rung with our 
shouts, and the fort shook with the thunder of our earthquake 
step. 




CHAPTEE XXIII. 

Hemoval to our Tobacco-ground — Expedition to the Arrap-a-hos for Horses 
— Discovered, and the Party scattered — Wanderings for fourteen Months 
— Eeturn at last amid tremendous Eejoicing. 

WE left the fort, and proceeded toward our tobacco-ground. 
We planted the seed, and spent a short time in festivity. 
It was deemed inexpedient to build a medicine lodge this 
season, as all the business could be transacted in a temporary 
one. 

Our stock of horses being greatly diminished, we deemed 
this a fitting time to try and replenish it, and various small 
parties sallied out for that purpose. I left w4th only seventeen 
warriors for the country of the Arrap-a-hos, situated on the 
head-waters of the Arkansas. On arriving at their village we 
found a great number of horses, upon which we made a 
descent ; but we were discovered before we could lay our 
hands on any, and had to scatter in all directions in our effort 
to escape. One of our party had his leg broken with a rifle 
ball, but he did not fall into the enemy's hands, as he crawled 
away and secreted himself. Two months subsequently he 
found his way home, with his leg nearly healed. He stated 
that, after receiving his wound, he plunged into the river, 
which flowed close by, and swam to an island, there concealing 
himself in a thick brush. The enemy moved away the next 
day, and he swam back to their camping-ground, where he 
found an abundance of meat, which he carried over to his 
quarters ; upon this he fared sumptuously until he was strong 
enough to walk ; then he made his way home. 

I saw the village move the next morning, and, gathering 



I 

^V AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOVRTH. 271 

■^^oiir of my scattered companions, I followed the enemy at a 
respectful distance mitil they encamped for the next night. 
We then made another descent upon their fold, and succeeded 
in obtaining each man a horse. We saw no more of the 
remains of our party until we returned to our village upward 
of a year subsequently. 

W^e came to the resolution to quit the Arrap-a-hos, and pay 
the Snakes a visit. On reaching them we found horses in 

j abundance, and could have levied upon them for any number ; 
but, being at peace with the tribe, we contented ourselves with 
•exchanging our jaded and foot-sore animals for five fresh ones 
from their drove. Here we dropped an arrow, and they recog- 
nized it for a Crow arrow readily; we also put on new 
moccasins, and left our old ones behind us. When the 
Snakes fell in with the Crows some time after, they charged 
them with stealing their horses, which charge the Crows 
strenuously denied. The Snakes persisted, and, to confirm 
their accusation, produced the arrow and the abandoned 
moccasins. This satisfied the Crows that it must be some 
of the Arrap-a-ho expedition, and hopes of our safety were 
revived. 

From the Snakes we passed on to the Flat Head territory, 
where we found thousands of horses, but felt ourselves under 
the same moral restrictions as with the Snakes. Accordingly, 
we merely exchanged again, and again left five pairs of 
moccasins. Subsequently they made the same charge against 
ihe Crows, and accused them of infringing the treaty. The 
€rows again pleaded innocence, and again the moccasins con- 
victed them of their guilt. They, however, resorted to diplo- 
matic finesse, and an appeal to arms was averted. Again their 
liopes were rekindled of seeing us once more. 

We then took a notion to pay the Coutnees a flying visit 
where we made another exchange. We could have taken all 
the horses we wanted, but, to get home with them, we must 
have taken a wide circuit, or have passed through the territory 
of two hostile nations. We next moved to the As-ne-boine 
Eiver, which empties into Hudson's Bay. Here we borrowed 
one hundred and fifty head of fine horses from the Blood 
Indians, and started on our way home. We arrived, without 



h 



272 AVTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

accident, at the Mussel Shell Eiver, within one day's ride of h 
our own people, where we encamped, intending to reach homelB 
next day ; but that night the Crows swept away every horse 
we had, not even leaving us one for our own use. We must 
have slept very soundly during the night ; indeed, we were 
greatly fatigued, for we did not hear a single movement. Ii 
getting our horses, they glorified themselves over havim 
made a glorious haul from the Black Feet. 

Not liking to be foiled in our resolution to return home wii 
a respectable accompaniment of horses, we retraced our stej 
to the As-ne-boine Eiver, intending to start another drove. On| 
our return we found our friends had left, and had crossed tc^l 
the other side of the mountain. We followed on, but delaye 
so long on the western slope, that the heavj^ snow-storms no^ 
falling cut off all possibility of returning home before spring ; 
therefore we built a comfortable lodge in what was calle 
Sweet Mountain, in a canon, where we could kill a buffalc 
every day, the skins of which, covered entirely over our lodge^i 
made a very agreeable abode for the winter. We also killed 
several large wolves, and dressed their skins in the nicest < 
manner. We likewise took three Black Foot scalps. The|H 
Indians whose horses we had been in pursuit of, after ■ 
having roamed about considerably, had got into winter 
quarters only twelve or fifteen miles distant ; their smoke was 
visible from our lodge. On the return of spring we visited our 
neighbour's camp, and selected one hundred and twenty head 
of such horses as we thought would stand the journey. We 
then returned over the mountain, and reached as far as the 
Judith in safety, which was within three days' ride of the 
village. We were greatly fatigued, and halted to encamp for 
the night and rest our jaded horses. Again the Crows 
stripped us of every horse, leaving us on foot once more. 
Kesolved not to be beat, we determined to try our luck a third 
time before we returned to our village. I told my four com- 
panions that my medicine promised me success, and that when 
we did eventually get home we should be able to see what 
amount of affection was felt toward us by our people, by 
ascertaining how much crying had been done for us. 

I had no doubt we had been mourned as dead, for we had 




Pe-toh-pee-Kiss (the Eagle-Ribs). 
(A Blackfoot.) 




•^B R A A? y- 
VNIVSRSITY 



JAMES P. BECKWOUETH. 273 

been absent above a year. During this time, we subsequently 
learned, there had been great mourning for us, and many had 
cut off their hair. My father, however, still persisted that I 
was alive, and would some day return, and he would allow 
none of his family to cut off their fingers for me. x\t the time 
the Flat Heads went in with their complaint, they were about 
to elect another chief to fill my place ; but when they saw the 
five pairs of moccasins produced, they knew they must have 
had Crow wearers, and their hopes were revived of again 
seeing us, and the election ceremony was postponed. My 
father would have no steps taken toward filling my vacant 
place before the erection of the next medicine lodge. He said 
he did not know where his Calf had rambled, and it was his 
firm belief that in the course of time he would ramble home 
again. 

When we reached the As-ne-boine for the third time, we 
found that our friends who had accommodated us with the two 
previous droves of horses had gone over the mountain, and 
passed down that river to Fort Eow, one of the Hudson's Bay 
trading-posts. By the appearance of their trail we judged 
that they had been joined by other villages, probably from the 
Coutnees and Pa-gans, all on their way to the trading-post for 
the purchase of their spring supply of- goods. We followed 
their trail for several days, which grew fresher and fresher, 
until one afternoon we came suddenly upon a horse. We 
were at that time in thick timber, with a dense growth of 
underbrush, and thousands of wild pea-vines about. 

On seeing the horse we halted suddenly. On looking farther 
around, we discovered horses of all colours and stripes, ring- 
streaked and speckled. Shortly the sound of voices reached 
our ears. In an instant we stooped down and crept under the 
almost impenetrable vines, nor did we venture to move from 
our hiding-place until night. We could distinctly hear the 
chatter of men, women, and children around us, and some of 
1 I the squaws came most dangerously near when gathering fire- 
■ I wood for their camp-fires. We could occasionally peep out, 
and we saw in those glimpses that they had beautiful horses, 
and, besides, that they were in good travelling condition. We 
then felt no doubt that the Coutnees were in company, since 

18 



274 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

they always prided themselves in spotted horses, as Jacob of 
old took pride in spotted cattle. In that encampment it so- 
little entered into their heads to anticipate molestation that 
they had placed no horse-guards to keep watch. 

The noise of the horses in tearing through the pea-vine» 
assisted us materially in our nocturnal enterprise. We 
selected two hundred and eighty of their largest, strongest, 
and handsomest cattle, with which we lost no time in making 
direct for Crow-land ; nor did we venture to give rest to their 
hoofs until a journey, continued through three days and| 
nights, placed what we considered a safe distance between us. 
We then ventured to encamp for the night, to afford to the^ 
poor tired-out animals an opportunity to rest for a while, but. 
starting off at early dawn to preclude all possibility of re- 
capture. 

On the fifth day we discovered an Indian a short distance 
from our trail, who was coming in an oblique direction toward 
us. He stopped on the hill-side at some little distance off^ 
and motioned for us to approach him. Supposing him to be a« 
Crow, I desired my companions to drive on, while I went to* 
see what he wanted. When I had approached within a few- 
yards of him, he put on an air of surprise, and placed his hand 
to his shoulder with the intention of drawing his bow. I 
sprang upon him instantly and cut him down, and despoiled 
him of his scalp and quiver. When about to leave to over- 
take my companions, I perceived the distant smoke of a Black 
Foot village situated immediately in the direction that we 
were journeying, and it was beyond doubt that the Indian I 
had just killed was a spy belonging to that village. He must 
have mistaken us for some of his own tribe, and only dis- 
covered his mistake when I approached near enough for him 
to distinguish my features. 

My companions returning to me, we altered our course, and 
passed over a mountain covered with deep snow, so hard,, 
however, that we passed it without losing a horse. This was- 
one of the spurs of the Eocky Mountains, and covered with 
perpetual snows. 

After sixteen days of almost incessant travel day and night,, 
we came in sight of our village just as the sun was sinking. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 276 

behind the distant mountains. We approached within a mile 
of the village, and encamped under a small hill, as yet un- 
perceived by our people, for the hill in the shelter of which we 
lay was between ourselves and the village. It was now the 
latter end of June (I think), in the year 1834. 

After resting a while, I thought to get some tobacco, to 
indulge in a smoke before making our grand entree, at the 
same time requesting my companions to keep a sharp look-out, 
and see that the Crows did not steal our horses again. Finally, 
three of us entered incog., and smoked with several of the old 
men, not one of whom recognized us or once thought of us. 
We passed all through the village, looking leisurely about as ; 
the streets were full of people, yet not one bestowed a thought 
on us. When it became somewhat late, and the inhabitants 
had principally retired, I dismissed my two companions to the 
camp, telling them I would get some tobacco, and rejoin them 
in a short time. I then entered the lodge of one of my wives, 
i who was asleep in bed. I shook her by the arm, and aroused 
f her. 

Waking, she inquired, " Who is this in the lodge? " 

I answered, *' It is your husband," 
; "I never had but one husband," she replied, " and he is 
dead." 

" No," said I, " I am he." 

•' You are not dead, then, as we have believed ? " 

" No," I said; '*I have been wandering a long while, and 
have only just returned." 

" We all mourned you," she continued, " many moons ago, 
and we all mourn you now every day. We believed that the 
enemy had killed you." 

"No," I said. "I escaped. I have now brought home a 
! (large drove of beautiful spotted horses, and if you will do as I 
wish you, you shall have your choice of the whole drove, and 
you will become a medicine woman also." 

" I will do what you wish me," she replied. 

*' Well, I want you, when you get up in the morning, to re- 
quest the village to refrain from crying for one sun. Tell them 
ihat you dreamed that I came home riding a large and spotted 
lorse, having the other four men with me ; that we had nearly 



27G AVTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

three hundred of the most beautiful horses you ever saw, anc 
that we rode with large wolf- skins spread on our horses' backs, 
mine being as white as the drifted snow." 

She agreed to do all as I had bidden her ; I then left hei 
lodge ; but, before quitting the village, I called in at m^ 
father's lodge. All was still around, and, entering on tip-toe| 
I reached down the medicine shield, which no one but hij 
wife or eldest son is privileged to handle, and, opening it, 
took out all his medicine tobacco, carrying it back to the 
camp with me, and then replaced the shield upon its peg. 
then returned to our camp, and enjoyed a good smoke witl 
my companions, our spirits waxing elate at the surprise we 
had in store. 

Early the next morning, the woman, true to her word^ 
narrated her dream to the astonished inhabitants, with what-' 
ever additions her own fancy suggested. My father aud^ 
mother listened attentively to her revelation ; and, before 
had got through with her narrative, she had quite a numerous 
auditory. We were watching the occurrence from the bro^ 
of the hill ; and, knowing she would have to rehearse her 
vision several times before it was generally known thoughout^^ 
the village, we did not hurry to show ourselves. |l 

My father and mother, having heard her through, turned 
and entered their lodge. Suddenly the medicine shield caught 
my mother's eye — it had evidently been moved. My fathei 
took it down and opened it — the tobacco was gone. This^ 
opened the "old gentleman's" eyes. "It is well," he said 
" my son lives ! " and he believed the substance of the dream 
as fervently as the prophetess who uttered it. The by- 
standers, seeing his medicine so strong, and he beginning to 
sing and dance, they all joined in, until the noise of their 
revelry reached us on our distant eminence. 

Now was our time. We mounted our caparisoned steeds, 
and, forming ourselves in procession, we commenced our 
grand entree, singing and shouting at the top of our voices. 
Our tones are heard, and the villagers gaze around in surprise. 
" Hark ! " they exclaimed : " look yonder ! there are five men 
mounted on large spotted steeds. Who are they ? " 

All was hushed as the grave in the village, each striving to 



ad 

a 

3r 
>d 

it : 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 277 

catch the sound of our distant strains. The five horsemen 
disappeared as if by magic, and reappeared driving a large 
drove of horses before them of all colours. The horsemen 
again pause on the summit. "Hark! listen! they sing 
again ! Who can they be ? " 

Not a soul yet stirred from the village. We drove our 
horses down toward them, and left them there, while we took 
a circuit around, displaying our scalps, but still keeping over 
gunshot distance. The old men came out to us, carrying 
drums ; each of us took one, and then we bounded away to 
the rear of our horses. We raised a well-known song, and all 
listened to the tones of the returning Medicine Calf. At 
length our wives and relatives broke away from the throng, 
and darted over the plain to meet us. They fairly flew over 
the intervening space to welcome us in their arms. A tall 
sister of mine outstripped the rest, and arrived first, and 
immediately after my little wife was also by my side. After a 
warm greeting exchanged with these, the warriors came up, 
and saluted us with a shout that would have aroused 
Napoleon's Old Guard from their graves. We were lifted 
from our horses, and almost denuded of our clothing, and 
carried by the impetuous throng into the village. My father 
had painted his face into an exact resemblance of Satan, in 
token of his joy at my happy return.* I was kissed and 
caressed by my mother, sisters, and wives until I fairly gasped 
for breath. 

Any person who has never beheld a downright rejoicing 
among savages can form but a faint conception of their un- 
restrained manifestations; words can convey no adequate 
idea of it. Being untutored and natural, and not restricted 
by any considerations of grace or propriety, they abandon 
themselves to their emotions, and no gesture is too ex- 
aggerated, no demonstration too violent for them to resort 
to. 

My friend, with many others, had given me up for dead, and 
had adopted another in my place; so that there were now 

* It is a curious fact that in such matters of disguise or art, what strikes 
a white man as horrible, seems to an Indian to be simply picturesque and 
interesting. ~C. G. Leland. 



I 



278 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

three of us who all knew one another's secrets. Pine Leaf 
was overjoyed at my return. She had become confident of 
my death, and was only waiting to ascertain the nation that, 
had killed me in order to revenge my loss, or be sacrificed to 
my manes. Couriers were immediately despatched to the 
other village to acquaint them with our return, and to invite 
them to participate in the celebrations of the event. Long « j 
Hair returned for answer, " Tell my brother I will fly to seen 
him." They lost six warriors on their way to our village, 
through carelessly straggling in detached parties, consequently^ 
they came to us in mourning for their loss. ■ 

The two droves of horses which the Crows had released us ^ 
of were all religiously returned. Those that the captors had 
given away were promptly delivered up, so that we were now; 
in possession of a very numerous drove. I distributed my 
share among my relatives, friends, wives, and wives' relatives, 
until I had only just enough for my own use. I gave my. 
father an elegant steed, the largest in the whole drove. To 
the heroine I gave a spotted four-year-old, a perfect beauty, 
one that I had intended for her as we were driving them home. 
He proved to be a superior war-horse, and there were but few 
among the thousands that we possessed that could distance 
him with her upon his back. She was very proud of him, and 
and would suffer no one but herself to ride him. 

It took me a long time to rehearse all our adventures while 
away. I was required to do it very minutely and circum- 
stantially — even to describe all our camping-grounds, and 
relate every minute occurrence that transpired during our 
long pilgrimage. 

We had certainly incurred exceeding risk in the route we 
had travelled ; in recurring to it I marvelled at our escape. 
Any five men might start upon such an adventure, and not one 
party in ten would ever return. I reflected, however, that I 
was a little more sagacious than the Indians, and that I had 
my physical faculties as well developed as theirs. I could see 
fully as quick as they could, and ride as fast, if they undertook 
to chase me in the mountains. 

I now found that I had thousands of friends, whether at- 
tracted by my fancy horses or not, and that I was the idol of 



JAMES P. BECKWOVRTH. 279 

my proud parents. The mother of Black Panther always lived 
with my father, and if both survive, I presume she does to this 
day. I gave him the child when it was quite young, to adopt 
as his son, in obedience to his reiterated solicitations. 




CHAPTEE XXIV. 

Excursion to the Fort — Great Battle with the Cheyennes on the way— Re- 
joicing on my Arrival at the Fort — Horses stolen by the Cheyennes- 
Pursuit and Battle with the Thieves — Battle with the Black Feet- 
Eeturn to our Village. 

WHEN the rejoicings were over, a council was called 
deliberate on the future operations of the nation, where-l 
resolution was taken to keep united until Leaf Fall. About 
the latter end of August I started for the fort, taking with me 
three hundred and fifty warriors, with as many women and 
children, among whom was my little wife. While on our way « 
thither, we encamped one night on Fallen Creek, and IosMI 
upward of fifty horses, stolen by the Cheyennes. We pursued ' 
them with our whole force, and, soon overtaking them, a fight . 
ensued between numbers about equal. I had charged in ad- 
vance of the line, and, as I was always dressed in full costume 
when on these excursions, I offered an excellent mark to any*- 
one skilled in shooting. I was proceeding at an easy canter, ' 
when my horse was shot through the head, the ball entering] 
near the ear, and he fell, his last spring hurling me head fore- 
most against a huge rock, which I struck with such force that 
I saw another dense meteoric shower, and the blood gushed 
from my mouth, nose, and ears. When I recovered my senses 
I found both parties over me, each struggling to obtain me. 
The Crows prevailed eventually, and my scalp was saved. My 
warriors were fully convinced of my death, as I lay so long 
motionless ; but they were determined to preserve my scalp. 
The enemy, seeing our women and children approach, mistook 
them for a reinforcement of Crow warriors, and they gave up 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 281 

the contest and fled precipitately, leaving us masters of the 
field, with all the horses they had just stolen from us, besides 
a great number of their own, which they had not time to drive 
off. We only obtained three scalps from the enemy, losing 
none ourselves, though we had several warriors wounded. 

We then resumed our journey to the fort, reaching there 
without farther trouble. When we arrived within sight and 
hearing, we, as usual, struck up a song. All the women from 
the fort ran out, exclaiming, " Here comes a war-party of the- 
Crows ; they are singing ! Look at their scalps : they come 
from the country of the Cheyennes ; they have conquered our 
enemies. See, they are all painted ! " 

I had long been supposed dead at the fort. It was con- 
jectured that Big Bowl (my father) had the conduct of the 
party, and there was no inquiry made for me. We entered 
amid a thousand How d'ye do's, and my wife and " Little 
Jim " were comfortably provided with the best quarters in the 
fort. I was standing among the busy throng, who had already 
fallen to admire the new goods, still feeling the effects of my 
severe shake, when I saw one of the female inmates eye me 
very inquiringly. She inquired of my wife who that Indian 
was. She answered, " He is my husband." 

"What! are you married again?" she exclaimed, in as- 



"No, not again," she replied, in her very modest manner; 
" did you not know that the Medicine Calf was alive and had 
returned?" 

" Then that surely is the Medicine Calf," the woman ex- 
claimed, " now standing in the fort ! " and ran to Mr. Tulleck 
to acquaint him with the news. 

" Where is he ? Where is the Medicine Calf ? " Mr. Tulleck 
called aloud, and looking among the throng without perceiving 
me. 

" I addressed him in English, calling him by name. 

I though at first that he would fall to the ground ; it was 
some seconds before he could speak, his astonishment was so 
overwhelming. At last he found tongue, and broke out in all 
kinds of expressions of joy and welcome. The men, too, 
attached to the fort, on hearing of my arrival, came running 



282 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

in with their utmost speed to welcome one whom they had all 
long since supposed dead. So heartfelt a welcome I could ni 
have expected. Little Jim had been taken from his moth 
hand before it was known that I was present. He was 
general pet at the fort, and it usually took one good horse 
carryall the presents bestowed upon mother and child, 
was then near three years old, running everywhere, and w 
already looked upon by the Crows as their future chief. 

We tarried at the fort a few days, engaged in hunting buffalo 
for its men and our own family. Our consmiiption was several 
carcasses a day. During my long absence the Crows had 
neglected their traps, and they had not dressed more than 
half the usual number of robes, which caused a sensible falling 
off in the trade of the fort, and diminished very materially the 
profits derived by the company from Fort Cass. No reducti 
however, was made in my salary on account of my absen; 
which I considered very liberal conduct on the part of t' 
company. 

My warriors, becoming uneasy at their inactive life, desi 
to be led against the Black Feet. To gratify them, I select 
one hundred and six warriors, and sent the others back to the 
village with the women and children, except my wife, whom I 
requested to' stay at the fort to await my return. We marched 
into the enemy's country, and in the daytime came suddenly 
upon one of their villages. There were lodges enough to con- 
tain three hundred warriors, but they were probably gone upon 
an expedition, for there were but few present to receive us. 
We unhesitatingly assaulted it, although we had but little 
fighting to do. We took upward of twenty scalps, and eighteen 
women and children prisoners. We captured two hundred 
and sixty horses, besides weapons, clothing, and other spoils. 

Here I succeeded in having a good joke at the heroine's 
expense, with which I plagued her for a long time. She wag 
swifter on foot than any warrior, and we were on foot during 
this excursion. On seeing us advance, a young Indian about 
sixteen, took to his heels, running like a deer. The heroine 
made after him with her antelope speed, certain to catch him. 
The Indian did his best, frequently turning his head, like a 
negro with an alligator at his heels. Seeing that his pursuer 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 283 

must overtake him, and not relishing the idea of having her 
lance tranfix his body — for she w^as preparing to hurl it — he 
suddenly stopped and faced about, at the same time throwing 
his bow down and holding up both hands to beg for his life. 
She did what no other warrior in our party would have done 
— her woman's heart took pity on the poor fellow's pitiable 
condition — she spared his life, and marched him back captive. 

He being her prisoner, no one had authority over his life but 
herself. He was a fine-looking young man, but when he was 
brought among the Crow warriors he trembled in every joint, 
expecting nothing less than to be killed. 

I thought this too good an opportunity for a joke not to 
make use of it. 

"I see," said I addressing myself to Pine Leaf , "you have 
, refused all our braves that you might win a husband from the 
i«nemy." 

' All the warriors shouted at the sally ; but the poor girl was 
sorely perplexed, and knew not what to do or say. We rallied 
her so much on her conquest that she finally became quite 
i spunky, and I did not know whether she would run her prize 
through with her lance or not. One day I told her I had talked 
with her prisoner about his capture. '* Well," said she, " and 
1 what has he to say about it ? " 

"Why," I answered, "he says he could have killed you as 
well as not, but that you promised to marry him if he would 
spare your life." 

She was fully practiced upon, and she flushed with anger. 
j"He lies !" she exclaimed. "You know I cannot speak to 
these Black Feet, or I would make him tell a different tale. I 
ihave told you, as well as other warriors, that I do not wish to 
ioaarry ; my tongue was straight when I said so. I have told 
you often, and I have told your sisters and your wives, that, 
if ever I did marry, I would have you, and none other. So 
why do you trifle with my feelings? " 

What she said w^as a genuine ebullition of feeling ; for, 
ilthough an Indian girl, her heart was as proud, as sensitive, 
md as delicate as ever beat in the breast of civilized woman. 
To soothe her ruffled temper, I told her I would intrust a secret 
her. I had undertaken my prolonged journeying, when all 



h 



led; 

1 



284 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

supposed me dead, and she along with the rest, solely to 
search through the Eocky Mountains for a *' red-handed 
Indian." I had been unsuccessful in my search, and h 
returned with spotted horses. 

She laughed immoderately at my invention. 

We now returned to the fort with our trophies, where we 
had a joyous time. My warriors gave a horse to each man at 
the fort, about fifty in number, and every woman staying there 
also received one. I selected the best one I had, and made 
little Jim present it to Mr. Tulleck, with which delicate 
attention he was greatly delighted. My boy could now speak 
quite plain. The men at the fort had taught him to swear 
quite fluently both in French and English, much more to thei) 
satisfaction than to mine. But I trusted he would soon forget 
his schooling, as the Crows never drink whisky, nor use proT 
fane language. |l 

We left the fort, and reached our village without accident 
On our arrival we found the people in mourning for the loss oi 
two warriors, killed in the village by an attack of the Chey 
ennes ; and, notwithstanding my recent success, we had 
take part in the crying, in obedience to their forms. 

The Chey ennes, in their late attack, used very good general 
ship; but the result was not so good as their design woul(i_ 
seem to promise. They started with a force of three thousanjB 
warriors, and, dividing their army, five hundred marched 
directly over the Tongue Eiver Mountain, where they were 
safe from molestation, while their main body passed round ^1 
another direction, placing themselves in ambush in a place" 
agreed upon, so as to fall upon the Crows should they pui'sue 
their flying division. But the Crows were too wary for the: 
and their bright design failed. 

The division of five hundred made a descent upon the ho: 
killing the two Crows that were among them, and unable to 
escape in time. It was in open day, and our stock was so 
immense that they actually did succeed in driving off about 
twelve hundred, of which our family owned about eighty. 
Many of our choice mares, with their foals, and a great 
number of our war-horses, seemed to have intelligence of the 
business in hand, and ran with full speed to the village, where 



II 




JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 285 

the enemy did not care to follow them. Hundreds of our 
warriors were ready for the conflict, and were impatiently 
awaiting the order to attack ; but their chiefs strictly forbade 
their advance, and even charged my faithful Dog Soldiers with 
the duty of enforcing their orders. There were in the village 
over four thousand warriors, a force sufficient to repel any 
attack ; but the old heads seem to suspect something at the 
bottom of their foes' audacity, and thus escaped the trap that 
was prepared for them. The horses we cared but little about, 
as it was easy to replace them at any time, without risking the 
lives of so many brave warriors. 

On my return, all this was related to me by the council. 
They inquired my opinion of the policy they had acted upon, 
and I assented to the wisdom of all they had done. I further 
recommended that no war-party should leave the village for at 
least two weeks, but that all should devote themselves to trap- 
ping beaver, as a means better calculated to please the Great 
Spirit, and after that it was likely he would reward our ex- 
I cursions with more constant success. 

I My advice was approved of, and my medicine was pronounced 

powerful. Every trap in the village was accordingly brought to 

; light, and a general preparation made for an active season of 

• trapping : peltry parties scattered for every stream containing 

beaver. My old friend and myself, with each a wife, composed 

one party ; we took twelve traps, and in ten days collected 

j fifty-five beaver skins. All who went out had excellent success, 

as the streams had been but little disturbed for several months. 

Our two weeks' combined industry produced quite a number of 

packs. 

It was now about the 1st of October. I had promised, after 
our two weeks' trapping, to lead a party in a foray upon the 
Cheyennes. I selected over four hundred warriors, and started 
in pursuit of something — whether horses or scalps was a matter 
of indifference. After an easy travel of twenty days, our spies 
keeping a viligant look-out on the way, a large village was re- 
ported some few miles in advance. Knowing whom we had to 
deal with, I used my utmost caution, for we were beyond the 
reach of re- enforcement if I should fall into any difficulties. 
We ascended a hill which overlooked their village. We saw 




11 



286 AUTOBIOGEAPHY OF 

their cheerful-looking fires, and would have liked to warm our- 
selves by similar ones ; but, although firewood was abundant 
it seemed barely advisable to indulge in such a luxury. By th«dl 
size of the village, it was evident we had a powerful enemy be- ! 
fore us, and that he was brave we had learned by previous 
experience. After surveying it as well as we could by the 
gleam of the stars, I determined to go down into their village,, 
and obtain a closer observation. I took three braves with me,, 
and, turning our robes the hair side out, we descended the hil 
and entered the village. 

We found they had recently built a new medicine lodge, and 
the national council was in session that night. We walked up 
to the lodge, and there were a number of Cheyennes smoking 
and conversing, but we could not understand a word they said. 
I passed my hand inside to reach for a pipe. One was handed,^ 
to me ; and after all four of us had taken a few whiffs, dl 
handed it back to my accommodating lender. We then strolled 
leisurely through their town, and returned to our own camp : 
somewhat late in the evening. fll 

About midnight we visited their herd, and started out quite 
a large drove, which we found at daylight consisted of eight 
hundred head ; with these we moved with all possible speed 
toward home, taking the directest route possible. We drove^^ 
at full speed wherever practicable, until the next day at noon Mm 
we then turned short round the point of a mountain, and ' ' 
awaited the arrival of our pursuers. Our animals were well ^ 
rested when the enemy came up, and we had just transferrec^B 
ourselves to the backs of some that we had borrowed from ' * 
them. As soon as they had rounded the point — about two 
hundred and fifty in number — we issued out to attack them ; 
and, although they were somewhat surprised to behold so large 
a force, they quickly formed and awaited the onset. We were 
soon upon them, killing several, and having a few of our own 
wounded. We withdrew to form another charge ; but, before 
we were ready to fall on them again, they divided their line, 
and one half made a daring attempt to surround our horses, 
but we defeated their aim. They then retreated toward their 
village, they finding it necessary to re-enforce their numbers- 
before they could either recover their animals or fight our party 
with any show of success. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 287 

I afterwards learned, when a trader in the Cheyenne nation 
for Sublet, that their main body, consisting of two thousand 
warriors, had started with them, but turned back when within 
four miles of our temporary resting-place. The smaller division 
travelled back as fast as possible in the endeavour to reach 
them, and bring them back to the attack. After proceeding 
two or three hours in their trail, they suddenly came in sight 
of them as they w^ere resting to dress some buffalo. By means- 
of couriers and signals they soon had the whole army on the 
march again ; but by this time we were " over the hills and far 
away," having resumed our retreat immediately our pursuers, 
left us. 

Those who are driving horses in a chase such as this have a 
great advantage over their pursuers, since the pursuer must 
necessarily ride one horse all the time, but those that are 
driving can change as often as they please, taking a fresh horse 
every half hour even, if occasion requires. In case there is great 
urgency with a drove, a number of warriors are sent in advance 
Ito lead them, while others are whooping and yelling behind* 
,Under this pressure, the animals generally get over the ground 
at a pretty good rate. 

• On our arrival at home with thirteen scalps, over eight hun- 
jired horses, and none of our party killed, it may be judged 
jhat we made much noise and shouting. 

The trip we had just accomplished was a severe one,, 
|ispecially for the wounded, and none but Indians could have 
lived through such torment; but they all finally recovered.. 
Chey begged to be left upon the road, urging that they must 
Inevitably die, and it was a folly to impede our flight and 
eopardize our lives ; but I was determined, if possible, to get 
hem in alive ; for, had I lost but one, the village w^ould again 
lave gone into mourning, and that I was desirous to avoid. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

Visit of the whole Crow Nation to the Fort — Seven Days' Trading a: 
Bejoicing — Separation of the Villages — Expedition to the Camanches- 
Narrow Escape from their Village — Battle with the Black Feet — The 
Whites assist us with their Cannon — Captured by the Black Feet 
captured by the Crows — Final Victory. 



1 



T T AVING now quite a respectable amount of peltry on ' 



hand, both of our villages started for the fort to pur- 
chase winter supplies. We carried upwards of forty packs of 
beaver, and two thousand four hundred packs of robes, with 
which we were enabled to make quite an extensive trading. 
We loitered seven days in the vicinity of the fort ; then the 
villages separated, for the purpose of driving the buffalo back 
to the Yellow Stone, where they would keep in good conditio] 
all winter. This required a considerable force of men, as thoi 
animals abounded by the thousand at that time where they are 
now comparatively scarce, and it is a conclusion forced upon 
my mind that within half a century the race of buffaloes will 
be extinguished on this continent. Then farewell to the Eed 
Man ! for he must also become extinct, unless he applies him- 
self to the cultivation of the soil, which is beyond the bound of 
probabiUty. The incessant demand for robes has slain thou- 
sands of those noble beasts of the prairie, until the Indians 
themselves begin to grow uneasy at the manifest diminution, 
and, as a means of conservation, each nation has adopted the 
policy of confining to itself the right of hunting on its own 
ground. They consider that the buffalo belongs to them as 
their exclusive property; that he was sent to them by the 
Great Spirit for their subsistence; and when he fails them, 



I 



H. 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 289 



at shall they resort to ? Doubtless, when that tmie arrives, 
much of the land which they now roam over will be under the 
white man's cultivation, which will extend inland from both 
oceans. Where then shall the Indian betake himself ? There 
are no more Mississippis to drive him beyond. Unquestionably 
he will be taken in a surround, as he now surrounds the buffalo ; 
and as he cannot assimilate with civilization, the Ked Man's 
doom is apparent. It is a question of time, and no very long 
time either ; but the result, as I view it, is a matter of certainty. 

The territory claimed by the Crows would make a larger 
state than Illinois. Portions of it form the choicest land in 
the world, capable of producing anything that will grow in 
the Western and Middle States. Innumerable streams, now 
the homes of the skilfal beaver, and clear as the springs of 
the Rocky Mountains, irrigate the plains, and would afford 
power for any amount of machinery. Mineral springs of every 
degree of temperature abound in the land. The country 
also produces an inconceivable amount of wild fruit of every 
variety, namely, currants, of every kind; raspberries, black 
and red; strawberries, blackberries, cherries; plums, of delicious 
jflavour and in great abundance ; grapes, and numberless other 
varieties proper to the latitude and fertile nature of the soil. 

I am fully convinced that this territory contains vast 
mineral wealth ; but, as I was unacquainted with the proper- 
ties of minerals during my residence with the Crows, I did not 
pay much attention to the investigation of the subject. One 
thing, however, I am convinced of, that no part of the United 
States contains richer deposits of anthracite coal than the 
territory I am speaking of, and my conviction is thus founded. 
I one night surrounded a small mountain with a large force of 
warriors, thinking I had observed the fires of the enemy, and 
that I should catch them in trap. But, to my great surprise, 
it proved to be a mountain of coal on fire, which had, I sup- 
pose, spontaneously ignited. I immediately drew off my 
forces, as I was fearful of an explosion. I could readily point 
out the place again. 

It would be extremely hazardous to attempt any scientific 
explorations without first gaining the consent of the Crows. 
They have been uniformly friendly with the whites ; still, they 

19 



ecfc 
ed|| 



01 



290 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

would be jealous of any engineering operations, as they would 
be ignorant of their nature. The Crows are a very reserved 
people, and it would be difficult to negotiate a treaty with them 
for the cession of any portion of their land. They have 
-always refused to send a deputation to "Washington, although 
repeatedly invited. Indeed, when I was their chief, I always 
opposed the proposition, as I foresaw very clearly what effect 
such a visit would produce upon their minds. The Crows, 
a nation, had never credited any of the representations of tl 
great wealth, and power, and numbers of their white brethrei 
In the event of a deputation being sent to Washington, the 
preceptions of the savages would be dazzled with the display 
and glitter around them. They would return home dejected 
and humiliated ; they would confound the ears of their people 
with the rehearsal of the predominance and magnificence qf^ 
the whites ; feeling their own comparative insignificance, the 
would lose that pride in themselves that now sustains thei 
and, so far from being the terror of their enemies, they would 
grow despondent and lethargic ; they would addict themselves 
to the vices of the weaker nations, and in a short time their 
land would be ingulfed in the insatiable government vortex, and, 
like hundreds of other once powerful tribes, they would be 
quickly exterminated by the battle-axes of their enemies. 
These are the considerations that influenced me while I 
ministered their affairs. 

From the fort I started on foot with two hundred and sixt 
trusty warriors for the Camanche territory. We had reached 
their ground, and were travelling leisurely along upon a high, _ 
open prairie, when our spies suddenly telegraphed to us to li|l 
flat down — an order which we promptly obeyed. We soon 
learned that there was a number of Indians, some distance 
beyond, engaged in running buffalo and antelope as far as we 
could see. There appeared to be an outlet to the prairie, 
through which we could see them emerging and disappearing 
like bees passing in and out of a hive. We found at night 
that it was a wide caiion, in which their village was encamped, 
extending over three miles, and must have contained several 
thousand warriors. They had just driven a host of horses into 
it, to have them ready, most probably, for the next day's chase. 



ies. , 

II 



tf. 



Vfa 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 291 

There were still thousands of horses scattered in every direc- 
tion over the prairie, but I preferred to take those already col- 
lected. The Camanches, being seldom troubled by the incur- 
sions of their neighbours (as most of the tribes hold them in 
dread), take no precaution for the safety of their animals, for 
which reason they fell an easy prey to us. 

At the usual time of night we paid a visit to their immense 
herd, and started an innumerable drove ; we found it larger 
than v/e could successfully drive, and were therefore obhged 
to leave several hundreds of them on the prairie. "We then 
placed a sufficient number of horse-guides ahead, and, whip- 
ping up our rear, we soon had an immense drove under full 
speed for our own country, making the very earth tremble 
beneath their hoofs. We continued this pace for three days 
and nights, closely followed by our enemies, who, having dis- 
covered their loss the next morning, started after us in pursuit. 
They kept in sight of us each day, but we had the advantage 
of them, as we could change horses and they could not, unless 
they happened to pick up a few stragglers on the road. 

On the third day I happened to be leading, and just as I 
rose to look over the summit of a hill on the Arkansas, I dis- 
covered a large village of the Cheyennes not far in advance, 
and lying directly in our course. In an instant we turned to 
the left, and continued on through a hollow with all our 
drove, the Camanches not more than two or three miles in our 
rear. 

On our pursuers arriving at the spot where we had diverged 
to the left, they held their course right on, and, pouncing upon 
the astonished Cheyennes, conceived they were the party they 
were in pursuit of. We could distinctly hear the report of the 
uns of the contending parties, but did not slacken our pace, 

our desire to get home in safety outweighed all curiosity to 
isee the issue of the conflict. We afterward learned that the 
Cheyennes inflicted a severe beating upon their deluded assail- 

ts, and chased them back, with the loss of many of their 
Varriors, to their own country. This was fine fun for us, and 
Fortune aided us more than our own skill, for we were saved 
any further trouble of defending our conquest, and eventually 
reached home without the loss of a single life. 



292 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

Our pursuers being disposed of, we allowed ourselves a little 
more ease. On the fifth day of our retreat we crossed th^: 
Arkansas, and, arriving on the bank of Powder Eiver (a brancMJ 
of the south fork of the Platte), we afforded ourselves a rest. ' 
We drove all our horses into a canon, and fortified the entrance, 
so that, in case of molestation, we could have repulsed five 
times our number. There was excellent pasture, affording oi 
wearied and famishing horses the means of satisfying thei 
hunger, and refreshing themselves with rest. We also needec 
repose, for we had eaten nothing on the way except what w( 
happened to have with us, in the same manner as our horse 
would crop an occasional mouthful of grass while pursuii 
their flight. 

After refreshing ourselves we resumed our journey, andj 
striking the Laramie Eiver, we passed on through the Park! 
and then crossed the Sweet Water Eiver into our own territory] 
where we were safe. We fell in with Long Hair's village 
before we entered our own, with whom we had a good time^ 
Before parting we gave them five hundred horses. Froi 
thence we went down to the fort in quest of our own village, 
but learned they were about twenty miles out, encamped oi 
the Eose Bud. The inmates of the fort thought it must have 
rained horses, for such a prodigious drove they never sa^ 
driven in before. We made them a present of a Camanche 
horse all round, and, having stayed one night with them, the 
next morning we journeyed on to our village. 

We found them all dancing and rejoicing over the success oM 
the other war-parties, who had reached home before us, and 
our arrival increased their joy to such an extreme that there 
was no limit to their extravagant manifestations. 

We had not parted from the fort more than two or three 
hours when Big Bowl called there, also in quest of the village, 
bringing two thousand seven hundred horses, which he had 
taken from the Coutnees. 

TuUeck informed him that his son had but just left for the 
village with a large drove. 

" Yes," said the old man, " but I can laugh at him this time." 

" No, no," replied TuUeck, '' he has beat you ; he has twice 
as many as you." 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 293 

" Ugh ! " exclaimed the old brave ; "his medicine is always 
powerful." 

We must have started with five thousand horses, for many 
gave out on the way and were left behind, besides a number 
that must have straggled off, for the Cheyennes afterward in- 
formed me that they picked up a considerable number which 
had undoubtedly belonged to our drove. 

My father, after presenting them with a horse all round at 
the fort, whipped his drove up, saying that he would yet over- 
take the Medicine Calf before he reached the village. 

He arrived just before sunset, when the joy was at its 
height. 

We had horses enough now to eat us out of house and home, 
about eight thousand head having been brought in during the 
last ten days. 

When the rejoicing was through, I divided my village, send- 
ing two hundred lodges round to start the buffalo toward the 
mountain, while I took one hundred and seventy lodges, and 
made a circuit in the direction of the fort, encamping in the 
bottom close by. I had with me eight or nine hundred 
warriors, besides my division of the women and children. 

While staying in the vicinity of the fort we were usually 
very careless, never apprehending any attack ; but on the third 
day of our encampment here we were suddenly assailed by 
nearly fifteen hundred Black Foot warriors, who were probably 
aware that we had divided our village, and had followed us as 
the smallest party. Myself and several other warriors were 
in the fort when the attack was made, but we soon hastened 
to join our warriors. The contest became severe. The Black 
Feet fought better than I had ever seen them fight before. 
The Crows, being outnumbered by their enemies, were sorely 
pressed, and every man had to exert himself to the utmost to 
withstand the assault. The men at the fort, seeing our situa- 
tion, brought out to our aid a small cannon on a cart. The 
enemy, seeing them bring it up, charged on it and carried it, 
the Frenchmen who had it in charge running back to the fort 
with all possible speed. The Crows, seeing what had hap- 
pened, made a furious charge on the captors of the cannon, 
and succeeded in retaking it, though not without the loss of 




294 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

several killed and wounded in the confiict. The gun was 
loaded with musket-balls, and, when finally discharged, did no 
damage to the enemy. 

I was in another quarter, encouraging my warriors to pro- 
tect our lodges, and we at length succeeded in beating them. 
off, although they drove away over twelve hundred head of our] 
horses with them, without any possibility of our wresting them 
from them, at least at that time. We lost thirteen warriors 
killed, twelve of whom were scalped, and about thirty wounded. 
It is a wonder we did not suffer a loss three times more severe.. 
But the Black Feet are not steady warriors ; they become too 
much excited in action, and lose many opportunitlas of inflict- 
ing mischief. If bluster would defeat a foe, their battles would 
be a succession of victories. Had we in the least mistrusted; 
an attack, by being in readiness we could have repulsed them 
without the least effort. But they caught us totally unpre- 
pared ; there was not a man at his post until they were about] 
to fall upon us. The enemy lost forty-eight scalps in thej 
encounter, besides a number of dead and wounded they carried] 
away with them without our being able to lay hands upon 
them. They had also over one hundred horses shot under 
them. 

We suffered a severe loss in the death of the veteran brave 
Eed Child, the hero of a hundred fights, who was killed and 
scalped at his lodge door. His wife, who was by, struck the 
Indian who scalped him with a club, but she did not strike .| 
him hard enough to disable him. The loss of the old brave; 
was severely felt by the whole nation. The crying and mourn- 
ing which ensued pained me more than the loss of our horses. 
After spending the night in mourning, we moved on to the 
other division, to carry the woeful tidings of our reverse. 
When we rejoined them there was a general time of crying. I 
took a great share of the blame to myself, as it was upon my 
proposition that the village had been divided and the disaster 
sustained. I suggested it with a view to facilitate business, 
never dreaming of an attack by such an'overwhelming force. 

When the excitement had subsided, I determined to wash 
their faces or perish in the attempt. I ordered every one that 
could work to engage in the erection of a fort in the timber, 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 295 

sufficiently large to hold all our lodges, laying out the work 
myself, and seeing it well under way. I directed them, when 
they had finished the construction, to move their lodges into 
it, and remain there till my return, for, thus protected, they 
could beat off ten times their number. 

I then took nearly seven hundred of our best warriors, and 
started for the Black Feet, resolved upon revenge, and care- 
less how many I fell in with. 

A small party had recently come in with two scalps, which 
they had obtained near the head of Lewis's Fork, Columbia 
Eiver. They reported a large village of eight hundred lodges, 
from which numerous war-parties had departed, as they had 
crossed their trails in coming home. They knew the direct 
road to the village, how it was situated, and all about it, 
which was of great service to me. I therefore took them with 
me, and employed them as scouts. Every warrior was well 
provided for hard service ; each man had a riding-horse, and 
led his war-horse by his side. 

On the seventh day we came in view of their village, but we 
deferred our attack till the next day. The enemy had chosen 
a very good position ; they were encamped on a large bend of 
the river, at that time shallow and fordable everywhere. I 
detached fifty of my warriors for a feint, while I stole round 
with the main body to the high ground, taking care to keep 
out of sight of the enemy. Having gained my position, I 
signalled to the light division to feign an attack, while my men 
were so excited I could hardly restrain them from rushing out 
and defeating my purpose. My plan succeeded admirably. 
The Black Feet, having suffered themselves to be decoyed from 
their position by the flight of the fifty warriors, I sounded a 
charge, and my men rushed upon the unprotected village like a 
thunderbolt. We swept every thing before us ; the women 
ok to the bush like partridges ; the warriors fled in every 
ection. They were so paralyzed at our unexpected descent 
at no defence was attempted. I threw myself among the 
thickest group I could see, and positively hacked down seven- 
teen who pretended to be warriors without receiving a scratch, 
I though my shield was pretty well cut with arrows. If my 
arriors had all come to their work according to the example. 
I 



Hia 



296 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

that even the heroine set them, not one of the Black Feet who 
ventured to show fight would have escaped. The heroine 
killed three warriors with her lance, and took two fine little 
boys prisoners. We found but about a thousand warriors to 
oppose us, while there were lodges enough to contain three 
times the number. We only took sixty-eight scalps after all 
our trouble — a thing I could not account for. We took thirty 
women and children prisoners, and drove home near two 
thousand head of horses, among which were many of our 
own. 

As I had never seen the Black Feet fight so well as at the 
fort, I expected an equal display of valour on this occasion, 
but they offered nothing worthy the name of defence. I 
learned from my prisoners that my old father-in-law was in 
that village, whose daughter I had nearly killed for dancing 
over the scalps of the white men. We had only one warrior 
wounded, who was shot through the thigh ; but it was not 
broken, and, like all Indian wounds, it soon got well. We 
reached home in less than four days ; and, after our arrival,, 
singing and dancing were kept up for a week. 

In taking prisoners from an enemy we gain much useful 
information, as there are always more or less of their tribe 
domiciliated with us, to whom the captives impart confidence ; 
these relate all that they hear to the chiefs, thus affording 
much serviceable information that could not otherwise be 
obtained. The women seem to care but little for their cap- 
tivity, more particularly the young women, who have neither 
husbands nor children to attach them to their own tribe. They 
like Crow husbands, because they keep them painted most of 
the time with the emblems of triumph, and do not whip them 
like their Black Foot husbands. Certain it is that, when once 
captured by us, none of them ever wished to return to their 
own nation. In our numerous campaigns that winter we also 
took an unusual number of boys, all of whom make excellent 
Crow warriors, so that our numbers considerably increased 
from our prisoners alone. Some of the best warriors in the 
Crow nation had been boys taken from the surrounding tribes. 
They had been brought up with us, had played with our 
children, and fought their miniature sham-battles together, 




A Blackfoot Woman. 




1 



JAMES P. BECKWOVBTH. 297 

had grown into men, become warriors, braves, and so on to 
the council, until they were far enough advanced to become 
expert horse- thieves. 

That winter was an exceedingly fortunate one for the Crow 
nation ; success crowned almost every expedition. Long Hair's 
warriors achieved some great triumphs over the Black Feet, 
and in one battle took nearly a hundred scalps. 

When Long Hair heard of our misfortune at the fort, he 
sent a messenger to our village to offer some of his warriors to 
assist us in retrieving our reverse. But before the arrival of 
the messenger we had been and returned, and were all in the 
height of rejoicing. He hastened back to his village to impart 
the glad tidings, in order that they might rejoice with us. 

We then engaged in trapping beaver and hunting buffalo for 
the next three weeks, during which time we suffered no moles- 
tation from any of our enemies. 



CHAPTEE XXVI. 

Deputation from the As-ne-boines — Characteristic Speech of Yellow Bell 
— Visit to the Fort— Yisit to Fort Union — Rescue of Five White Me 
from Starvation — Arrival at Fort Cass — Departure for the Village 
— Visit of the Snakes to the Crows. 

WE received another deputation from the As-ne-boines to 
sue for a renewal of peace. We had lost a warrior and 
two women, who had been massacred when away from the 
village, and on discovery of the bodies we followed the trail of 
the perpetrators in the direction of the Black Foot country. 
We eventually discovered that many petty outrages, which we 
had charged upon the Black Feet, were in reality committee 
by the treacherous As-ne-boines. On their return from thei 
thievish inroads they were in the habit of proceeding very near"- 
to a Black Foot village, with which they were at peace, and 
then, turning obliquely, would cross the Missouri into theirjB 
own country. Becoming acquainted with this oft-repeated 
ruse, we determined to chastise them. I accordingly crossed 
the Missouri with a force of eight hundred and fifty men, and 
invaded their territory with the determination to inflict upon 
them such a chastisement as should recall them to a sense of 
decency. We encountered a small village, only numbering-' 
forty lodges, on their way to Fort Union, and within a few 
hundred yards of the fort. Seeing our approach, they in-^B 
trenched themselves in a hollow, rendering our assault a work ■ 
of danger. But w^e stormed their position, and killed twenty- 
six warriors (all of whom we scalped) ; the remainder we could 
not get at, as we found their position impregnable. 

Admonished by this chastisement, they sent another depu- 
tation to us to treat for the re-establishment of peace. But 



§1 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 299 

their propositions were unfavourably received, and Yellow 
Belly favoured them with his sentiments in the following 
rather unpalatable and characteristic strain : 

"No," said he, in answer to their representations, "we 
make peace with you no more. You are dogs — you are women- 
slayers — you are unworthy of the confidence or notice of our 
people. You lie when you come and say that you want peace. 
You have crooked and forked tongues : they are subtle like the 
tongue of the serpent. Your hearts are corrupt : they are of- 
fensive in our nostrils. We made peace with you before be- 
cause we pitied you ; we looked upon you with contempt, as 
not even worthy to be killed by the Sparrowhawks. We did 
not wish for your scalps : they disgrace our others ; we never 
mix them even with those of the Black Feet. When we are 
compelled to take them from you on account of your treachery, 
we give them to our pack -dogs, and even they howl at them. 
Before, we gave you horses to carry you home, and guns to 
kill your buffalo ; w^e gave you meat and drink ; you ate, and 
drank, and smoked with us. After all this, you considered 
yourselves great braves in scalping two of our women. Our 
women would rub out your nation and put out all your fires if 
we should let them loose at you. Come and steal our horses 
when you think best, and get caught at it if you want to feel 
the weight of our tomahawks. Go ! we will not make peace 
with you ; go ! " 

After this very cordial reception, we had no more intercourse 
with the As-ne-boines for some time. 

Shortly after the departure of this delegation, we set out for 
the fort to trade away our peltry, which amounted to a con- 
siderable number of packs. On arriving there, I found a letter 
from a Mr. Halsey, w!io then had charge of Fort Union, the 
head-quarters of the American Fur Company. The letter was 
couched in rather strong terms, and was evidently written when 
he was under the infl r nee of temper. %The company had their 
trading-posts among every tribe with which the Crows were at 
war, and for many months past there had been a great falling off 
in trade. The Indians had brought in but little peltry, and the 

Iiversal complaint among all was that it took all their time 



i 



le 



300 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

killed scores of their warriors ; the Crows had stolen all their] 
horses; the Crows had captured their women and children 
the Crows had kept them mourning and crying ; their trappers 
dare not go out to trap for fear of the Crows ; their hunters 
dare not, and could not, kill buffalo for fear of the Crows ; in 
short, by this letter it appeared that the poor Crows were the 
constant terror of all the surrounding tribes. 

He concluded his epistle, " For 's sake, do keep your 

d — d Indians at home, so that the other tribes may have 
chance to work a little, and the company may drive a moro' 
profitable business." 

I knew perfectly well that these incessant wars were very 
prejudicial to the company's interest, but it was impossible for^^ 
me to remedy the evil. Other tribes were continually attackinMB 
the Crows, killing their braves, and stealing their horses, and, ^ 
of course, they were bound to make reprisals. In justice to the , 
Crows I must say, that other tribes were generally the S'g-^l 
gressors, until the policy was forced upon me of endeavouring''" 
to "conquer a peace." I thought, if I could make the Crow 
nation a terror to all their neighbours, that their antagonists 
would be reduced to petition for peace, and then turn their^ 
battle-axes into beaver-traps, and their lances into hunti] 
knives. 

Our villages, having made their purchases, left the fort, bi 
stayed in the vicinity, engaged in trapping and making robes^ 
The letter I had just received from Halsey requested my at-J 
tendance on him that spring. I left my people, and went? 
down the river to Fort Union. On arriving, I found a large 
body of the As-ne-boines encamped near the fort. Their chiefs _ 
immediately came to me, wishing me to conclude peace witljB 
them as representative of the Crow nation. They attempted 
to palliate their late misdeeds by throwing the blame on a few 
As-ne-boine desperadoes, who had acted without the authority 
or cognizance of the national council, and that they had been 
severely punished by the tribe for their excesses. 

In answer, I told them that I had no authority to conclude 
peace ; that, even if I had, they would not observe a peace 
longer than one moon ; that I thought the Crows would throw 
diflSculties in the way of entertaining their propositions, but 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 301 

that they could apply to the council again, and learn how they 
were inclined. 

Mr. Halsey and all the sub- traders present interceded with 
me to exert myself in establishing a peace between the two 
nations, which request I promised to comply with. The 
chiefs inquired whether we would take their lives in the 
event of their visiting us on such a mission. I assured them 
that the Crows would hold their lives sacred ; that they were 
not dogs, as many nations were, but that they were a great 
and magnanimous nation, whose power was predominant, and 
-who killed no enemies but in battle. 

I remained at the fort about three weeks, and, as most of 
the sub- traders, clerks, and interpreters were in, we had a 
glorious time. It was at least three or four years since I had 
last visited there ; for, though I fought a battle outside its 
walls lately, I did not see fit at that time to make them a 
call. 

The boats being ready to return, I started with them, but 
their progress was so slow and wearisome on their way up to 
the Yellow Stone that I leaped ashore, intending to make my 
way over dry land. I have always rejoiced that I was prompted 
to take that step, for I became instrumental thereby in per- 
forming a merciful deed among so many that might be termed 
unmerciful. 

I had not travelled more than three miles when I came 
across a white man, named Fuller, in a famishing condition. 
I had a companion with me, whom I started off to the boats 
to bid them prepare something suitable to recover the poor 
fellow, and to order them to touch on shore when they came 
to where he lay. Fuller was quite delirious. I had discovered 
him just in the nick of time, as he could not have survived 
many hours longer. My companion was not long in performing 
his errand, and, when the boat touched for him, we carried 
him on board, and gave him tea and warm restoratives. He 
shortly revived, and then gave me to understand, in a very in- 
coherent manner, that he had four companions in a similar 
condition near to where I had found him. 

At this intelHgence we went on shore again to succour them 
also. We had a long hunt before we succeeded in finding 



302 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

them, and when we at last discovered them, we found them 
picking and eating rosebuds, or, rather, the pods containing 
seed of last year's growth. When they saw us approaching 
they attempted to run, supposing us to be Indians ; but, their 
strength failing them, they sought to conceal themselves in 
the bushes. We made known our errand to them, and invited 
them on board the boat. Our opportune oifer of service seemed 
so providential, that the fortitude of the poor famishing fellows 
could not sustain them, and they all gave way to a plentiful 
flood of tears. We conveyed them on board the boat, and 
furnished them with food adapted to their emaciated con 
dition. 

When in some measure restored, they informed us that thi 
had been trapping in the mountains, their party originally co: 
sisting of eleven mem that they were on their road to Fo 
Cass, with their pack-horses and four packs of beaver, when 
they were set upon by the Black Feet, who killed six of their 
party, and despoiled them of every article they had, and 
was by a miracle that they escaped from their hands. Whei 
they had supposed themselves near the fort, they saw a grea 
number of Indians, whom they took for Black Feet ; to avoid 
them, they took a wide circuit through the prairie. TJ 
Indians whom they mistook for Black Feet were a party 
Crows, and if they had gone up to them and made their case 
known, the Crows would have escorted them to the fort, and 
probably have pm*sued the Black Feet, and have retaken their L 
property. On returning from their circuit, they struck th|l 
river a great distance below the fort, and were still travelling 
down the river in search of it. They had nothing to eat, and 
nothing to kill game with to relieve their wants. They we: 
on with the boats, while I and my companion resumed o 
*' over-land route." 

We reached the fort several days in advance of the boats. 
I only rested one night there, and then proceeded directly on 
to my Indian home. Shortly after my arrival there, the villages 
moved on up the river, proceeding leisurely, and killing buffalo 
and dressing robes on the way. We finally reached the moun- 
tain streams, and, as it was now near September, the beaver 
were getting to be in fine condition for trapping. 



)n- 

i 

3n 

5ir 

at • 
oid 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 303 

We had at this time a visit from eight hundred lodges of the 
Snakes, who came for the purpose of trading, as they had no 
trading-post of their own. They remained with us several 
weeks, and we had a very agreeable time together. This 
furnished me with an opportunity of enlarging to the Crows 
upon the superior delights of peace. We could visit the lodges 
■of our Snake friends, and they could visit ours without cutting 
■each other's throats. Our women could chatter together, our 
children gambol and have their sham-battles together, while 
the old veterans could talk over their achievements, and smile 
at the mimic war-whoops of their children. They could also 
trade together, and derive mutual benefit from the fair ex- 
change of commodities. I contrasted this with the incessant 
butcheries that distinguished their intercourse with some tribes, 
and asked them which relation was the more desirable. 

The Crows had many things to trade away which they had 
no need for, or, if they had needed them, they could replace 
them with a fresh supply from the fort. The nation was 
desirous that their guests should see the trading-post, where 
all their goods were stored beyond the reach of their enemies, 
and whence they drew their supplies as often as they had 
need of them ; for the simple Crows supposed that the posts, 
with their contents, were the property of the nation, and that 
the whites who were in charge there were their own agents. 
To gratify their natural pride, I led a party to the fort, among 
whom were two hundred of our Snake visitors. On entering 
the fort, and looking over the store-house, they were struck 
dumb with astonishment ; they could not comprehend the 
vastness of the wealth that was displayed before them. They 
had never before seen a depot of goods, and this exceeded all 
they had any previous experience of. The rows of guns 
highly polished, the battle-axes, lance-blades, scarlet cloth, 
beads, and many curiosities they had never seen before, filled 
them with admiration; they could not gaze sufiiciently at 
these indications of our wealth. 

They inquired of the Crows whether our nation made all 
ose articles there. They told them that they did not ; that 
ey were made at our great fort below in comparison with 
which this was but a small lodge ; that all our supplies were 




] 



1 



304 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

manufactured there, and brought up the river in great boatj 
by our white friends. 

They then inquired by what means they had gained the 
alliance of the -whites ; that, instead of killing them and banish- 
ing them from their hunting-ground, as they did to many 
nations, they should give themselves the great trouble to 
serve them with their boats, and bring them such immense 
supplies. 

The Crows informed them that their great chief, the Medi-* 
cine Calf, had been instrumental in accomplishing all this. 
By his long residence with the whites, after his sale to them 
by the Cheyennes when he had become a great brave, he ha^a 
gained surprising influence with the great w^hite chief, wh<iJB 
loved the Medicine Calf, and had taught him to make forts, 
and had suffered him to come back to his people in order tc 
teach them to become great, and overcome all their enemies. 

The Snakes were wonder-stricken at such marvels. The" 
unassailable fort (which a single bomb-shell would have blown^ 
to atoms), filled with an inexhaustible store of rich goods, 
our great fort down the river, in comparison with which this 
was but a small lodge, and where all these marvellous products 
of our ingenuity were manufactured ; our mysterious connec- 
tion with the whites, which procured us the advantage of their^ 
unremunerated services, and shielded us with the irresistibly 
succour of the great white chief — all this overpowered theii 
imagination. The wealth and power of the Crow nation ex^ 
ceeded all conception, and to oppose them in war was to inci 
unavoidable destruction. 

After the Snakes had traded off their stock of peltry, ol 
taining large supplies in exchange, we returned to the village. 
They had wonderful narratives of the big fort and wealth of 
the Crow nation to spin to their fellow- villagers. In fact, thej|l 
were so impressed with the idea of our superiority that two • 
hundred lodge 3 of the Snakes joined our nation, and never 
separated from them. They had a chief of their own, but con- 
formed to our laws and regulations, proving themselves i&ith- 
iul fellow -citizens, and emulating our best warriors in battle. 
This coalition increased our force to the number of five 
hundred warriors — more than we had lost in battle for four years 



» 



Ji 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 305 

preceding. They intermarried with our women, and in a few 
years were so completely transformed that they had quite for- 
gotten their Snake origin. On our return, the remainder of 
our friends left us. 

During our absence the Black Feet had invaded our 
dominion, and made off with upward of three thousand of 
our horses, very greatly to our detriment. The Snakes were 
anxious to pursue them, or, at least, to assist their hosts in 
recapturing their stolen property, but Long Hair declined 
their proffered service. He said, " No, I am too old to run 
after them, and the warriors must have some one to direct 
them. Should any accident befall my people, the medicine 
chief would be grieved. We must wait his return from the 
fort ; if he then deems it proper to punish them, he will not 
be long without the means." 

Our villages still remained together, and we moved on to the 
head- waters of the Yellow Stone. We had several war-parties 
out, and some endeavouring to retrieve our equine losses, 
while those who remained in the village applied themselves to 
trapping and hunting. The Snake women were very skilful 
in dressing robes — far superior to our own, as they had been 
more engaged in it. 

My warriors were again burning with the desire for war and 
horse-raids, although our prairies were alive with animals. 
Inaction seemed to consume them. In spite of my prohibition, 
they would steal away in parties during the night. When 
convicted, I would inflict severe floggings upon them by my 
Dog Soldiers (who did not spare the lash) ; but it was to little 
purpose. In fact, they took it as honourable distinction to 
receive a lashing, inasmuch as it indicated their overruling 
ardour for war ; and the culprit who received a flogging this 
morning for disobedience of orders, was sure to be off at 
night again. An old warrior despises the sight of a trap ; 
hunting buffalo, even, does not afford him excitement enough. 
Nothing but war or a horse-raid is a business worth their 
attending to, and the chief who seeks to control this pre- 
dilection too far loses popularity. 

Accordingly, I gave way to the general desire of my warriors. 
I selected one hundred and sixty trusty braves, intending 



306 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

" to lay alongside " my old friends the Black Feet, and wij 
out one or two old scores I had marked against them. l\ 
invaded their territory with my little force, and marched on, 
admonishing my spies to extreme vigilance. We came inj 
sight of a village, and secreted ourselves till the proper hour] 
of night. On om' march we discovered a single Indian. 
Some of the party called him to them, and clubbed him down 
and scalped him. He had mistaken us for his own people. 

At midnight we visited their herd, and drove out six hundrec 
and forty head. A number of their best cattle were tied atj 
the doors of their lodges and in their corrals. I arrived home] 
safe with my booty, and, as I had taken one scalp, we had a] 
great dance. All our other parties were very successful, ex- 
cepting one. That was one that had gone on an expedition] 
against the Arrap-a-hos. Pine Leaf was in the number. 
They had taken about a thousand horses, and, having reached 
a distance that they supposed safe, they slackened their pace, 
and were proceeding carelessly along. Suddenly their pur- 
suers came in sight — a strong posse comitatus — and retook all 
their animals except those that bore the fugitives, and killed 
three of their comrades. The heroine came back in mourning, 
looking like the last of her race. 

One of our victorious parties brought back fifty boys and] 
girls whom they had captured while gathering fruit. Sinc&j 
the loss of our three thousand horses to the Black Feet we:? 
had captured six thousand, two thousand five hundred of 
which had been recovered from the Black Feet. 

We now moved on to the Yellow Stone, and crossed it, the 
villages still keeping together. We then journeyed on slowly . 
in the direction of the fort, trapping and hunting all the way»« 
We kept a vigilant eye upon our prisoners, for fear they might < 
attempt an escape to their own tribes, and thus bring upon us. 
a foe when we had no time to attend to him. 

This was a very productive fall for peltry, and we sent in 
great quantities to the fort in advance of our arrival. I re- 
mained at the trading-post nearly the whole of the winter. In 
the early spring the Crows sent for me to rejoin them. I went^ 
accordingly, and found that their long-continued good fortune 
had suffered a reverse. They had grown careless in their ex- 



d . 

I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 307 

- peditions, and had lost some of their warriors. They wished 

fy aid to revenge their deaths and wash their faces. 
I required them to defer their retahation until their robes 
were dressed and sent to the fort. They took hold of the 
business in good earnest, and every robe was soon ready for 
market. 

It was now time to plant our tobacco, and we all moved in 
the direction of our planting-ground. The seed was put in, 
and the attending ceremonial gone through with. Our pacific 
business thus completed, the warriors began to prepare for 
war. Our horses had been but little used during the winter, 
and they were all fat and in high condition. 

I took three hundred and sixty warriors and went against 
the Cheyennes. We discovered a moving village of sixty 
lodges, charged on it, and bore away nine scalps, with con- 
siderable booty, without losing one drop of blood. Pine Leaf 
was in my party, and being so unfortunate as not to count one 
cooy she was greatly out of humour, and blamed me for depriv- 
j ing her of the opportunity of kilhng an enemy. The truth 
' is, we had no time to favour her, as I was desirous to secure 
our booty and get off without endangering the loss of a man. 

Her young Black Foot prisoner had become quite a warrior ; 
he went to war constantly, and bid fair to equal his captor in 
valour. He was already a match for an ordinary Sioux 
warrior, and took great pride in his sister Pine Leaf. 

All our war-parties returned without loss, and the nation re- 
sumed its customary good spirits. I then returned to the fort, 
where I rested all the summer. 

My thoughts had for a long time past reverted to home. 
Year after year had rolled away, and now that I had attained 
middle life, they seemed to pass me with accelerated pace, and 
the question would intrude upon my mind, What had I done ? 
When I abandoned myself seriously to reflection, it seemed as 
if I had slumbered away the last twelve years. Others had 
accomplished the same toils as myself, and were now enjoying 
the fruits of their labour, and living in luxury and ease. 

But what had been my career ? and what advance had I 
made toward this desirable consummation ? I had just visited 
the Indian territory to gratify a youthful thirst for adventure ; 



I 




308 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

I had narrowly escaped starvation in a service in which I hadfll 
no interest ; I had traversed the fastnesses of the far Kocky 
Mountains in summer heats and winter frosts ; I had en 
countered savage beasts and wild men, until my deliverance 
was a prevailing miracle. By the mere badinage of a fellow 
trapper I had been adopted among the savages, and had con-' 
formed my superior habits to their ruthless and untutored 
ways ; I had accompanied them in their mutual slaughters, ' 
and dyed my hand crimson with the blood of victims who hadfll 
never injured me ; I had distinguished myself in my barbarian 
seclusion, and had risen to supreme command in the nation I 
had devoted myself to. And what had I to show for so muG 
wasted energy, and such a catalogue of ruthless deeds ? 

I had been the means of saving many a fellow- creature* 
life. Did they still owe me gratitude? Possibly some few 
did, while others had forgotten my name. In good truth, 
when I sought the results of my prolonged labours, I found 
had simply wasted my time. I had bestowed years upon- 
others, and only moments upon myself. 

However, I still lived, and there was yet time to take more 
heed unto my ways. I resolved to go home and see my 
friends, and deliver myself from this present vagabond Ufe. 
The attachments I had formed during my savage chieftainship 
still retained some hold upon my affections, and it was 
barely possible I might return to them, and end my da; 
among my trusty braves. There at least was fidelity, and, 
when my soul should depart for the spirit land, their rude faith 
would prompt them to paint my bones, and treasure them 
until I should visit them from my ever-flowering hunting- 
ground, and demand them at their hands. 

Such sober thoughts as these occupied my mind during my 
summer residence at the fort. I had brought with me all the 
peltry we had accumulated, in order to be in season for the 
boats, which were soon to start for the lower fort. I had 
directed the village to follow along with whatever peltry they 
might collect before the departure of the boats. 

In obedience to this instruction, about two hundred and 
fifty warriors came down, bringing their commodities with them 
but the boats had gone, and I still was waiting at the fort. 



I 

M 
II 

VV ' 

I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 309 

One day a party of my men were out to hunt baffalo for our 
own use, when they accidentally scared up eleven Black Feet, 
who were lurking about on the look-out for horses. They 
chased them into our old camping-ground, and the fugitives 
had taken refuge in our old temporary fort. I was sitting at 
the fort the while, busily conversing with persons present ; I 
heard the report of their guns, and supposed, if the affair 
proved serious, I should be promptly sent for. Bad Hand, one 
of my leaders, finally said, " They are fighting out yonder, and 
I don't suppose they can do anything without we are with 
them. Let us go." 

We each threw on a chief's coat, and went down to see how 
matters stood. I found the Black Feet fortified in their posi- 
tion, and our men ineffectually firing upon them. I ordered 
an immediate assault, placing myself at their head. We ad- 
vanced a few paces at a rapid rate, when I fell senseless, with 
the blood gushing from my mouth in a stream. All sup- 
posed me mortally wounded, and I was carried into the fort 
to breathe my last. 

The boats had left, and TuUeck happened to be starting 
after them just as I was carried in. Seeing my wounded con- 
dition, and every one pronouncing me in a dying state, he re- 
ported me as being dead at the lower fort, whence the news 
travelled to my friends in St. Louis that I had been killed in a 
fight with the Indians. 

In an hour or two it was discovered that there was still life 
in me, and that I was reviving. I was examined : there was 
no bullet-wound on my body, and again it was proved that my 
broad-bladed hunting-knife (though not the same one) had 
averted the blow. It had been struck with an ounce of lead 
impelled with the full force of gunpowder. I speedily re- 
covered, but continued sore for a long time. 

Every Black Foot was killed by my men, who scaled their 

defence and leaped upon them in such numbers that they 

Imost smothered them. Only four of my warriors were 

rounded. Intelligence of my injury was sent to the village, 

rhich was three weeks in reaching them. One thousand 

brriors instantly set out for the fort, all my wives accom- 

mying them ; but I had recovered before their arrival. 



I 



310 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

Our party had scarcely encamped outside the fort, when the 
Black Feet, who were always haunting us, stole about eight 
hundred head of horses. On discovering the theft, a large 
party started on their trail up the river. The depredators 
would have to cross the river to get home, and there was no 
crossing for horses nearer than fifteen miles, after which they 
had to go on to the Mussel Shell, a distance of twenty miles 
farther, and only ten from the fort. I knew that this would 
be the route of the fugitives, because it was their regular beat. 
I had had no thought of going until it suddenly occurred to me 
that the party in pursuit would most likely fail to overtake the^l 
thieves, while I had so admirable an opportunity to catch them " • 
on the Mussel Shell. I took a party, therefore, forded the 
river near the fort, and went on straight to the Mussel Shell, 
where I posted my men. Our unsuspecting victims came up, 
singing in great merriment, and driving our horses before them, 
all of which were jaded. I suffered them to approach close 
upon us, and then gave the word to charge. Never was a ^ ^ 
party taken more by surprise ; they were too dumbfoundered toil 
offer resistance, and all we had to do was to chop them down. ' " 
"We had their twenty-four scalps in little more than the same 
number of seconds. 

When the other party came up and found the work done, 
they thought we had been rained down there. They knew 
they had left us at the fort, and we had not passed them on 
the way, and where did we come from ? 

Pine Leaf was with the party, and she was ready to blow 
me off my horse. It was unfair to take the job out of their 
hands, after they had almost run their horses off their legs in 
the chase. I expressed my regret at the fortunate turn affairs 
had taken, and promised never to offend in the same manner 
again ; but it was a long while before I could banter her into 
good humour. 

I remained at the fort all the summer (as before stated), 
intending to go down the river on my way to St. Louis with 
ihe last boats in the fall. While idling there, I found the five 
inen whom I had rescued from starvation in a penniless con- 
dition, and unable to go to work again. It seemed the company 
had issued orders to their agents to furnish no more outfits to 



JAMES P. BECKWOVBTH. 311 

free trappers on their personal credit, as the risk was too great, 
from their extreme liabiHty to be killed by the Indians. To 
engage to work for the company at the price they were paying 
hands was only perpetuating their poverty ; for they were run- 
ning the same risk of their lives as if trapping for themselves, 
and their remuneration was but as one to ten. They were 
down-hearted, and knew not what to do. Considering their 
sad condition, I determined to befriend them, and risk the 
chances. I therefore offered to give them an excellent outfit, 
and direct them to the best beaver-ground in the Crow nation, 
where they would be protected from all harm by my Crow 
warriors as my friends, my interest to be one half of the 
proceeds. 

This offer was cheerfully accepted by the five men, and they 
were highly elated at the prospect. I then acquainted the 
Crows that those men were my friends ; that they were the 
remains of a party of eleven, of whom six had been killed by 
the Black Feet, who had despoiled them of everything they 
had, and that I had found these in the prairie almost famished 
to death. I had engaged them to stay in the nation and trap 
for me, and I wished my faithful Crow braves to protect them 
in their pursuit, and suffer none to offer them molestation. 
This they all readily promised to do, and were even pleased 
with the trust ; for it was a belief with the Crows that 
the beavers in their streams were too numerous ever to be 
diminished. My bosom friend offered to remain with them, to 
show them the best streams, and render them all the assistance 
in his power. He was a most valuable auxiliary, as his skill 
in trapping I never saw excelled. They went to work,* and 
met with extraordinary success ; my share of their labours of 
less than three months amounted to five thousand dollars. 



CHAPTEE XXVII. 

Departure for St. Louis — Visit Fort Union — Fort Clarke — Descend to tl 
A-rick-a-ra Country — Am taken Prisoner — Extraordinary Means of 
Kelease — Eeach St. Louis — Scarcely recognized by my Sisters — Changes 
— Estrangement of Friends — Sigh for my Indian Home. 

THE Sparrowhawk nation was all assembled at the fort, to 
take leave of the Medicine Calf for several moons. The 
boats had arrived filled with a fresh stock of goods, and the 
nation made purchases to the amount of many thousands of 
dollars. The boats being now ready to return again, I made 
a short address to my people before I bade them adieu. 

** Sparrowhawks ! " I said, " I am going to leave you for a 
few moons, to visit my friends among the white men. I shall 
return to you by Green Grass, when the boats come back from 
the country of the whites. While I am away, I desire you to 
remember the counsel I have often given you. I wish you to 
send out no war-parties, because you want for nothing, and 
your nation is feared by all the neighbouring tribes. Keep a 
good look-out over your horses, so as to afford the enemy no 
opportunity of stealing them. It is through carelessness in 
the horse-guards that one half the horses are lost, and it is the 
loss of horses that leads to half the battles that you fight. It 
is better not to have your horses stolen in the first place, than 
to steal more in the place of those you have lost. 

" I also commend Mr. Tulleck to your care, as well as all 
the inmates of the fort. Visit them often, and see that they 
are not besieged or starved out by their enemies. Do not let 
the Black Feet or any other bad Indians harm them. Behave 
yourselves as becomes my faithful Crows. Adieu ! " 

They all promised obedience to my instructions, and I was 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 313 

soon on board. The boats were cast loose, and we were borne 
rapidly down stream by the swift current of the Yellow 
Stone. 

We called at Fort Union, and I stayed there three days. 
Here I had a fine canoe built, and two oarsmen furnished me 
to carry me to St. Louis. I was bearer of a large package of 
letters ; and when my little craft was finished, I stepped on 
board and launched out upon the swift-rolling current of the 
Missouri. After the brilliant opportunities I had had of reali- 
zing a princely fortune, my only wealth consisted of an order 
upon the company for seven thousand eight hundred dollars. 

Arriving at Fort Clarke, we made another short stay. The 
A-rick-a-ras, whose country was some hundred and fifty miles 
farther down, had just stolen nearly all the horses belonging 
to the fort. Bellemaire, the interpreter of the fort, proposed 
to me to go after them, and see if we could recover some of 
the horses. I consented, and we went down to their village in 
my canoe, and on our arrival there found them all dancing. 
Antoine Garro, with two relatives, were in the number. On 
seeing our approach, one shouted, " Here come white men ! '* 
and Garro and his brother instantly sprang towards us and 
pushed us into a lodge, where we were apparently prisoners. 
A council was summoned to decide upon our fate, and I had 
but shght hopes of ever seeing St. Louis. A young Indian 
came at that moment, and mentioned in a whisper to Peter 
that there was a large boat approaching. He made a long 
harangue before the others, in which he earnestly and ener- 
getically declaimed against taking the lives of white men. He 
concluded his oration by saying, " You have now my opinion, 
and remember, if you decide upon taking these white men's 
lives, I stay with you no longer." He then left the council 
and went down to the boat, where he advised the occupants to 
cross to the other side of the river, as the Indians were at that 
moment deliberating upon the fate of Bellemaire and three 
others. Garro's father happened to be on board, who was a 
great man among the Indians, and, on learning what business 
was in hand, he provided himself with a club, and entered the 
village with his son Peter. He then set about the council, and 
administered to all the members such a hearty thrashing, laying 



I 



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314 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

aboiit him as if fighting wild bulls, that I thought he mus 
surely slay some of them. 

"There ! " exclaimed the old man, after having belaboured 
them till he was out of breath, " I'll teach you to deliberate on 
the lives of white men, dogs as ye are ! " 

The Indians offered no resistance, and said not a word. We 
remained all night with old Garro's company, and returned to 
the fort in the morning. Bellemaire recovered his own horses, 
but could obtain none belonging to the fort. We called at all 
the forts that lay in our way, to collect what despatches they 
had to send, making but brief stay, however, as I was im- 
patient to be getting on. At Fort Canaille I obtained a 
passenger, a son of Mr. Pappen, who was going to St. Louis, 
and I received reiterated charges to be very careful of him. 

Soon after our departure from the fort there came on a cold 
rain-storm, which lasted several hours; the storm raged fiercely, 
and we had to make fast to a snag in the middle of the river 
to save ourselves from driving ashore. I had my Indian fire- 
striker, and, amid all the wind and rain, I repeatedly lit my|jB 
pipe. My young passenger was astonished at the performance, > 
*' If you can strike a fire," he exclaimed, *' in such a storm as 
this, I do not fear perishing." 

When the storm had somewhat abated, we landed to encamp. 
I shot two fat wild turkeys, which were quite a rarity to me, 
after having lived so many years on buffalo-meat, there being 
no turkeys in the Crow country. On arriving at Jefferson 
City I felt quite sick, and showed symptoms of fever ; but I 
was anxious to reach home without laying up. A steamboat 
coming down the river, I went on board, canoe and all, and 
was soon landed on the dock of St. Louis. 

It was fourteen years since I had last seen the city, and | 
what a difference was observable in those few years ! But I l\ 
was too sick to take much notice of things, and hastened to 
my sister's house, accompanied by the carpenter of the boat. 

He rapped ; the door was opened by my younger sister ; I 
was supporting myself against the wall. Greetings passed 
between them, for my companion was acquainted with my 
family ; and he then informed her that he was the bearer of 
sad news — her brother James was dead. 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 315 

My sister Louise began to cry, and informed him they had 
learned the news some weeks since. 

Then turning to me, he said, " Come in, Jim, and see your 
sister cry for you." 

I advanced, and addressed her in my old famihar manner, 
'' How do you do, Lou ? " 

I must have been a curious looking object for an affectionate 
«ister to recognize. All my clothing consisted of dressed ante- 
lope, deer, and the skins of mountain sheep, highly ornamented 
by my Indian wives. My long hair, as black as the raven's 
wing, descended to my hips, and I presented more the appear- 
ance of a Crow than that of a civilized being. 

She gazed at me for a moment vath a searching look, and 
then exclaiming, " My God, it is my brother ! " she flew into 
my arms, and was for some time unable to speak. 

At length she said, "We received a letter informing us of 
your death, and that Mr. Tulleck had seen you borne into Fort 
Cass dead." 

My elder sister, Matilda, was upstairs, entertaining a few 
female friends, and Lou bounded upstairs to acquaint her that 
her brother James wished to speak to her. 

Thinking her to be jesting, she said, " Are you not ashamed 
of yourself to jest on such a subject ? " and she shed tears at 
thus having me recalled to remembrance. 

Louise asseverated her earnestness, and Matilda reproved 
her for her wantonness, but would not budge to go and see for 
herself. At length a Mrs. Le Fevre said, 

" Matilda, I believe she is in earnest, and if you do not go 
and see, I will." 

She had been a child with me, and we used to repeat our 
catechism together ; now she was married, and the mother of 
several children. 

She came tripping downstairs into my sister's apartment, 
making a ceremonious courtesy as she entered. My sister 
introduced her to me, asking me if I did not recollect my 
commere (for we were baptized together). I had forgotten her, 
the mention of this circumstance recalled her to my mind, 

d there was another embracing. 

Her faith being thus confirmed, my sister Matilda was called 




M 



jH 



316 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

down, and my reception from her was even more cordial than 
from the preceding friends. She was a woman of great warmth 
of feeling, and her heart was full to overflowing with the 
emotions my name had called up. She was the eldest of the 
family, and since our mother's death she had been at once 
mother and sister to us all. Although I was the vagrant of 
the family, I still lived in her sisterly heart, and the suppo- 
sition that my earthly career was closed had only hallowed my 
memory in her affections. 

This was my second reception by my relatives after I ha 
been supposed dead. One by my savage friends, who, in wel- 
coming me as their long-lost child, exhibited all the genuine 
emotions of untutored nature ; and this second by my civilized 
friends, who, if less energetic in their demonstrations of attach- 
ment, showed equal heartfelt joy, equal sincerity, and fa^ 
superior decorum. 

The following morning I visited the company's office and 
delivered my letters. I became too weak to walk home, and 
Mr. Chouteau very obligingly drove me back in his carriage 
I was compelled to take to my bed, where I was confined fo] 
several days, under good medical attendance, and most as- 
siduously attended by my relatives. 

Their answers to my many inquiries confounded me entirely 

" "Where is my father ? " 

" He went back to Virginia, and died there many yeara 
ago." 

" Where are my brothers ? " 

" They are scattered about the country." 

" Where is such and such a friend ? " 

** In his grave." 

"Where is Eliza?" 

** She was married a month ago, after receiving intelHgenci 
of your certain death." 

I ceased my querying, and averted my eyes from my sister**' 
gaze. 

And this, I mused, is my return home after years of bright 
anticipations of welcome ! This is my secure and sunshiny 
haven, after so long and dangerous a voyage ! My father dead, 
my brothers dispersed, my friends in their graves, and my loved 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 317 

one married ! She did well — I have no right to complain — she 
is lost to me for ever ! If a man's home exists in the heart of 
his friends, with the death and alienation of those friends his 
cherished home fades away, and he is again a wanderer upon 
the earth. 

I do not know whether it was disappointment at so much 
death, mutation, and estrangement, or whether I bore the 
disease immediately in my own heart, but I was disappointed 
in my return home ; the anticipations I had formed were not 
reahzed — a feeling of cynicism passed over me. I thought of 
my Indian home, and of the unsophisticated hearts I had left 
behind me. Their lives were savage, and their perpetual ani- 
mosities repulsive, but with this dark background there was 
much vivid colouring in relief. If the Indian was unrelenting, 
and murdered with his lance, his battle-axe, and his knife, his 
white brother was equally unfeeling, and had ways of torturing 
his victim, if less violent, not the less certain. The savage is 
artless, and when you win his admiration there is no envious 
reservation to prompt him to do injustice to your name. You 
live among them honoured ; and on your death, your bones are 
stored religiously in their great cave along with others of pre- 
ceding generations, to be each year visited, and painted, and 
reflected on by a host of devoted companions. There is not 
the elegance there, the luxury, the refined breeding, but there 
is rude plenty, prairies studded with horses, and room to 
wander without any man to call your steps in question. My 
child was there, and his mother, whom I loved ; a return there 
was in no way unnatural. I had acquired their habits, and 
was in some manner useful to them. I had no tie to hold me 
here, and I already almost determined upon returning to my 
Indian home. 

Such thoughts as these, as I lay on my sick bed, passed 
■continuously through my mind. A few of my early friends, as 
they heard of my return, came one after the other to visit me ; 
but they were all changed. The flight of time had wrought 
furrows upon their smooth brows, and the shadow of the wings 
of Time was resting upon the few fair cheeks I had known in 
my younger days. 



CHAPTEK XXVIII. 

Disagreeable Rencounters in St. Louis — Messenger arrives from Fort Cass — 
Imminent Peril of the Whites from the infuriated Crows — The Cause — 
Immediate Return — Incidents of my Arrival — Pine Leaf substituted for 
Eliza— Last Battle with the Black Feet — Final Adieu to the Crows. 

IT now comes in the order of relation to describe two or 
three unpleasant rencounters I had with various parties in 
St. Louis, growing out of the misunderstanding (already- 
related) between the Crows and Mr. Fitzpatrick's party. I 
had already heard reports in the mountains detrimental to my" 
character for my supposed action in the matter, but I had 
never paid much attention to them. Friends had cautioned 
me that there were large sums of money offered for my life^ 
and that several men had even undertaken to earn the rewards. 
I could not credit such friendly intimations ; still I thought, on 
the principle that there is never smoke but there is fire, that it 
would be as well to keep myself a little on my guard. 

I had recovered from my sickness, and I spent much of my 
time about town. My friends repeatedly inquired of me if I 
had seen Fitzpatrick. Wondering how so much interest could 
attach to my meeting with that man, I asked one day what 
reason there was for making the inquiry. My friend answered, 
" I don't wish you to adduce me as authority; but there are 
strong threats of taking your life for an alleged robbery 
of Fitzpatrick by the Crow nation, in which you were deeply 
concerned." 

I saw now what to prepare for, although I still inclined to 
doubt that any man, possessed of ordinary perceptions, could 
charge me with an offence of which I was so manifestly inno- 
cent. True, I had met Fitzpatrick several times, and, instead 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 319 

of his former cordial salutation it was with difficulty he 
addressed a civil word to me. 

Shortly after this conversation with my friend I went to the 
St. Louis Theatre. Between the pieces I had stepped to the 
saloon to obtain some refreshments, and I saw Fitzpatrick 
enter, with four other not very respectable citizens. They 
advanced directly toward me. Fitzpatrick then pointed me 
out to them, saying, " There's the Crow." 

" Then," said the others, '* we are Black Feet, and let us 
have his scalp." 

They immediately drew their knives and rushed on 
me. 

I then thought of my friend's salutary counsel to be on my 
guard, but I had no weapon about me. With the agiUty of a 
cat I sprung over the counter, and commenced passing 
tumblers faster than they had been in the habit of receiving 
them. I had felled one or two of my assailants, and I saw I 
was in for a serious disturbance. 

A friend (and he is still living in St. Louis, wealthy and 
influential) stepped behind the bar, and, slapping me on the 
shoulder, said, " Look out, Beckwourth, you will hurt some of 
your friends." 

I replied that my friends did not appear to be very numerous- 
just then. 

" You have friends present," he added ; and, passing an 
enormous bowie-knife into my hand, stepped out again. 

Now I was all right, and felt myself a match for the five 
ruffians. My practice with the battle-axe, in a case where the 
quickness of thought required a corresponding rapidity of 
action, then came into play. 

I made a sortie from my position on to the open floor, and 
challenged the five bullies to come on ; at the same time 
(which, in my excited state, was natural enough) calling them 
by the hardest names. 

My mind was fully made up to kill them if they had only 
come at me ; my arm was nervous ; and my friends, who 
knew me at that time, can tell whether I was quick-motioned 
or not. I had been in situations where I had to ply my battle- 
axe with rapidity and precision to redeem my own skull. I 



I 



320 AUTOBIOGEAPHY OF 

was still in full possession of my belligerent powers, and I had 
the feeling of justice to sustain me. 

I stood at bay, with my huge bowie-knife drawn, momen- 
tarily hesitating whether to give the Crow war-whoop or not, 
when Sheriff Buzby laid hands on me, and requested me to be , 
quiet. Although boiling with rage, I respected the officer's j|| 
presence, and the assassins marched off to the body of the * 
theatre. I followed them to the door, and defied them to 
descend to the street with me ; but the sheriff becoming angry, 
and threatening me with the calaboose, I straightway left the ,m 
theatre. ll 

I stood upon the steps, and a friend coming up, I borrowed ' 
a well-loaded pistol of him, and moved slowly away, thinking 
that five men would surely never allow themselves to be cowed 
by one man. Shortly after, I perceived the whole party 
approaching, and, stepping back on the side-walk in front of a 
high wall, I waited their coming up. On they came, swagger- 
ing along, assuming the appearance of intoxication, and talking 
with drunken incoherency. 

When they had approached near enough to suit me, I 
ordered them to halt, and cross over to the other side of the 
street. 

" Who are you? " inquired one of them. 

*' I am he whom you are after, Jim Beckwourth; and if 
you advance one step farther, I will blow the tops of your 
heads off." 

" You are drunk, ar'n't you ? " said one of the party. 

" No, I am not drunk," I replied ; *' I never drink anything 
to make a dog of me like yourselves." 

I stood during this short colloquy in the middle of the side- 
walk, with my pistol ready cocked in one hand and my huge 
bowie-knife in the other ; one step forward would have been 
fatal to any one of them. 

** Oh, he's drunk," said one ; " let's cross over to the other 
side." And all five actually did pass over, which, if any of them 
is still living and has any regard for truth, he must admit to 
this day. 

I then proceeded home. My sister had been informed of 
the rencounter, and on my return home I found her frightened 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 321 

almost to death ; for Forsyth (one of the party) had long been 
the terror of St. Louis, having badly maimed many men, and 
the information that he was after me led her to the conclusion 
that I would surely be killed. 

A few days after I met two of the party (Forsyth and 
Kinney), when Forsyth accosted me, " Your name is Beck- 
wourth, I believe ? " 

I answered, " That is my name." 

" I understand that you have been circulating the report 
that I attempted to assassinate you ? " 

" I have told that you and your gang have been endeavouring 
to murder me," I replied, '' and I repeat it here." 

" I will teach you to repeat such tales about me," he said, 
fiercely, and drew his knife, which he called his Arkansas 
tooth-pick, from his pocket. 

The knife I had provided myself with against any emer- 
gency was too large to carry about me conveniently, so I 
carried it at my back, having the handle within reach of my 
finger and thumb. Seeing his motion, I whipped it out in a 
second. 

"Now," said I, "you miserable ruffian, draw your knife 
and come on ! I will not leave a piece of you big enough to 
choke a dog." 

" Come," interposed Kinney, " let us not make blackguards 
of ourselves ; let us be going." And they actually did pass on 
without drawing a -weapon. 

I was much pleased that this happened in a public part 
of the city, and in open day ; for the bully, whom it was be- 
lieved the law could not humble, was visibly cowed, and in the 
presence of a large concourse of men. I had no more trouble 
from the party afterward. 

In connection with this affair, it is but justice to myself to 
mention that, when Captain Sublet, Fitzpatrick, and myself 
happened to meet in the office of Mr. Chouteau, Captain Sublet 
interrogated Fitzpatrick upon the cause of his hostility toward 
me, and represented to him at length the open absurdity of his 
trumping up a charge of robbery of his party in the mountains 

ainst me. 

Being thus pressed, Fitzpatrick used the following words : 

21 




i 



H 



urn. 
men r 



322 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

" I never believed the truth of the charge myself; but when 
am in the company of sundry persons, they try to persuade 
into the belief of it, in order to raise trouble. I repeat, it 
not my belief at this present moment, and I will not be pei 
suaded into believing it again." Then turning to me, he sai 
"Beckwourth, I have done you a great injustice by ever 
harbouring such a thought. I acknowledge it freely, and I 
ask your forgiveness for the same. Let us be as we former! 
were, friends, and think no more about it." 

Friends we therefore mutually pledged ourselves, and friend" 
we have since remained up to this day. 

While in town I called on General Ashley, but he happened 
to be away from home. I was about leaving the house, when 
a melodious voice invited me in to await the general's return. 

" My husband will soon be back," the lady said, " and 
be, doubtless, pleased to see you." 

I turned, and really thought I was looking on an angi 
face. She moved toward me with such grace, and uttered sue 
dulcet and harmonious sounds, that I was riveted to the i 
spot. It was the first time I had seen the lady of Generj^l 
Ashley. "■ 

I accepted her invitation, and was shown into a neat little 
parlour, the lady taking a seat at the window to act as 
entertainer until the return of the general. 

" If I mistake not," she said, " you are a mountaineer?' 

I put on all the airs possible, and replied, " Yes, mad 
I was with General Ashley when he first went to th( 
mountains." 

Her grace and affability so charmed me that I could not fi: 
my ideas upon all the remarks she addressed to me. I w 
conscious I was not showing myself off to advantage, and she 
kept me saying *' Yes, madam " and ** No, madam," without 
any correct understanding of the appropriateness, until she 
espied the general approaching. 

"Here come's the general," the lady said; "I knew he 
would not be long away." 

Shortly the general entered the lodge, and fixed his eye upon 
me in an instant, at the same time whipping his pantaloons 
playfully with his riding- whip. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 323 

Rising from a better chair than the whole Crow nation 
possessed, I said, without ceremony, " How do you do, 
general? " 

" Gracious heavens ! is this you, Beckwourth ? " and he 
seized my hand with the grip of a vice, and nearly shook off 
! my scalp, while his lady laughed heartily at the rough saluta- 
i tion of two old mountaineers. 

" My dear," said the general, " let me introduce you to Mr. 
Beckwourth, of whom you have heard me so often make 
mention. This is the man that saved my life on three different 
occasions in the Rocky Mountains ; had it not been for our 
visitor, you would not have been Mrs. Ashley at this moment. 
But you look sickly, James ; what is the matter ? " 

I replied, " I had been confined to my bed since my arrival 
in St. Louis." 

We had a long co nversation about the mountains and my 
residence with the Crow nation. I was very hospitably enter- 
■ tained by my former commander and his amiable lady, and 
jwhen I left, the promise was extorted from me to make 
'repeated calls upon them so long as I remained in the 
city. 

About the latter end of March a courier arrived from Fort 
Cass, bringing tidings of a most alarming character. He had 
come alone through all that vast extent of Indian territory 
without being molested. It seemed as though a special provi- 
:lence had shielded him. 

He found me in the theatre, and gave me a hasty rehearsal 
)f the business. It seems that a party of trappers, who had 
leard of my departure to St. Louis, having fallen in with 
I number of Crows, had practiced upon them in regard to me, 

" Your great chief is gone to the white nation," said the 
rapper spokesman. 

I' Yes, he has gone to see his friend, the great white chief." 
t And you will never see him again." 
^Yes, he will come back in the season of green grass." 
No, the great white chief has killed him." 
"Killed him!" 
'' Yes." 
".What had he done that he should kill him ? " 




I 



324 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

"He was angry because he left the whites and came to Uv< 
with the Indians — because he fought for them." 

It is the greatest wonder in the world that every one of thi 
trapper party did not lose their scalps on the spot. If t' 
Indians had had any prominent leader among them, they in* 
fallibly would have been all killed, and have paid the penalty 
of their mischievous lying. Unfortunately for the Crows, they 
believe all the words of a white man, thinking that his tong 
is always straight. These trappers, by their idle inventio 
had jeopardized the lives of all the white men in the mou 
tains. 

The Indians said no more, but dashed off to the village, a: 
carried the news of my death. 

" How do you know that he is dead ? " they inquired. 

"Because the whites told us so, and their tongues are not 
forked. The great white chief was angry because he stayed 
with om- people and he killed him." 

A council was immediately held to decide upon measures of 
vengeance. It was decided to proceed to the fort and kill 
every white man there, and divide all the goods, guns, a: 
ammunition among themselves ; then to send out parties in eve; 
direction, and make a general massacre of every white m 
Innumerable fingers were cut off, and hair without measure, in' 
mourning for me ; a costly sacrifice was then made to 
Great Spirit, and the nation next set about carrying out tl 
plans of vengeance. 

The village moved towards the fort. Many were opposed 
being too hasty, but all agreed that their decisions should bt 
acted upon. The night before the village reached the fort, foii 
women ran on in advance of the village to acquaint Mr 
Tulleck of the sanguinary intention of the Crows. Every pre 
caution was taken to withstand them — every gun was loaded 
The village arrived, and, contrary to all precedent, the gate 
of the fort were closed. 

The savages were infuriated. The whites had heard of tht 
death of the Medicine Calf, and had closed the gates to pre 
vent the anticipated vengeance. The inmates of the fort wer( 
in imminent peril ; horror was visible on their countenances 
They might hold their position for e, while, but an investmeni 



kill I 

] 

, in' 

I 



JAMES P. BECKWOVBTH. 326 

from ten to fifteen thousand savages must reduce it eventu- 
ully. TuUeck was seated on the fort in great perplexity. 
Many of the veteran Crow warriors were pacing to and fro 
outside the inclosure. Yellow Belly was provisional head chief 
during my absence. Tulleck called him to him. 

He rode up and inquired, " What is the matter? Why are 
your gates shut against us ? " 

** I had a dream last night," replied Tulleck, " and my medi- 
cine told me I had to fight my own people to-day." 

" Yes, your bird told you truth ; he did not lie. Your chief 
has killed the Medicine Calf, and we are going to kill you 
all." 

" But the Medicine Calf is not dead ; he will certainly come 
back again." 

" Yes, he is dead. The whites told us so, and they never 
lie. You need not try to escape by saying he is not dead, for 
we will not believe your words. You cannot escape us ; you 
can neither dig into the ground, nor fly into the air ; if you 
attempt to run, I will put five thousand warriors upon your 
trail, and follow you to the white chief ; even there you shall 
not escape us. We have loved the whites, but we now hate 
them, and we are all angry. You have but little meat in the 
fort, and I know it ; when that is gone, you die." 

My son, ''little Jim," was standing near the fort, and Mr, 
Tulleck called him to him. The child's answer was, " Away ! 
you smell bloody ! " 

Mr. Tulleck, however, induced him to approach, and said, 
" Black Panther, I have always loved your father, and you, and 
all the warriors. Have I ever told you a lie ? " 

"No." 

" They have told you that your father is dead, but they have 
hed; he lives, and will come back to you. The white chief 
has not killed him. My words are true. Do you believe your 
friend, and the friend of your father ? " 

" Yes. I love my father; he is a great chief. When he is 
here, I feel happy — I feel strong ; but if he is dead, I shall 
never feel happy any more. My mother has cried four suns 
for him, and tells me I shall see him no more, which makes 
me cry." 



I 



I 



326 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

"Your father shall come back, my son, if you will listen 
what I now say to you." 

" I will listen." 

*' Go, then, and ask Yellow Belly to grant me time to sen 
for your father to the country of the white men, and if he be 
not here by the time the cherries shall have turned red, I wd|| 
then lay down my head, and you may cut it off, and tlSP 
warriors may kill us all, for we will not fight against them. 
Go and tell the chief that he must grant what I have told you 
for your sake, and if he does not listen to you, you will never 
see your father any more. Go ! " 

The child accordingly went to Yellow Belly, and begged him 
to grant one request. The chief, supposing that he was about 
to request permission to kill a particular man at the fort, said, 
** Certainly, my son ; any request you make shall be grant 
Speak ! what is it?" 

The child then informed Yellow Belly what the Crane hi 
said — that he would have his father back by the time t! 
cherries turned red, or that he would suffer his head to be 
off, and deliver up his whites to the Crows, and would ni 
fight. 

" It shall be so, my son," Yellow Belly assented ; **go and' 
tell the Crane to send for your father, for not a warrior sh 
follow the trail of the white runner, or even look upon it. 
he does as he says, the w^hites shall all Hve ; if he fails, they 
shall all die. Now go and harangue the people, and tell all 
the warriors that the Crane is going to send for your fath 
and the warrior who follows the runner's trail shall 
Yellow Belly has said it." 

He mounted a horse, and did as the chief had directed. 

Joseph Pappen volunteered to deliver the message to ma 
it was encountering a fearful hazard. His inducement wa3 fl 
bonus of one thousand dollars. 

The morning following the receipt of this intelligence I saw 
Mr. Chouteau, who was in receipt of a letter from Mr. Tulleck 
by the same messenger. He was in great uneasiness of mind. 
There was over one hundred thousand dollars' worth of goods 
in the fort, and he urged me to start without delay. The 
distance from St. Louis was estimated at two thousand seven 



i| 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. ■ 327 

hundred and fifty miles, and the safety of the men rendered the 
greatest expedition necessary. Any sum I might ask would be 
willingly paid me. 

" Go ! " said he ; " engage as many men as you wish ; purchase 
all the horses you require : we will pay the bills." He also 
furnished me with instructions to all the agents on the w^ay to 
provide me with whatever I inquired for. The price I de- 
manded for my services was five thousand dollars, which was, 
without scruple, allowed me. I hired two men to accompany 
me (Pappen being one), to whom I gave fifteen hundred and 
one thousand dollars respectively. 

Our horses being procured, and every necessary supphed us, 
away we started upon our journey, which occupied us fifty-three 
days, as the travelling was bad. Our last resting-place was 
Fort Clarke. Thence we struck directly across through a 
hostile Indian country, arriving in safety within hailing dis- 
tance of the fort before the cherries were ripe, although they 
were very near it. 

I rested on a gentle rise of ground to contemplate the mass 
of people I saw before me. There they lay, in their absorbing 
devotedness to their absent chief ; day and night, for long 
months, they had stayed by that wooden enclosure, watching 
for my return, or to take fearful vengeance upon their prey. 
They had loved the whites, but those whites had now killed 
their chief because he had returned to his own people to fight 
for his kindred and nation — the chief who had loved them 
much, and made them rich and strong. They were now feared 
by their enemifes, and respected by all; their prairies were 
covered with thousands of horses, and their lodges were full 
of the wealth derived from the whites. For this the white 
chief had killed him, and a war of extermination was denounced 
against them. The fort and its inmates were within their 
grasp ; if the Crane would redeem his pledge and produce their 
lissing chief, all were well ; but if the appointed time passed 
^y, and he were not forthcoming, it was fearful to contemplate 

le vengeance they would inflict. 

When I thought of those contemptible wretches, who, 

)rely to wanton with the faith that the artless savages 

iposed in them, could fabricate a lie, and arouse all this 



328 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

impending danger, I felt that a death at the stake would not 
transcend their deserts. 

I put my horse into speed, and rode in among the Indians 
I made the usual salutation on arriving before them, and, 
riding through their ranks sullenly, I repeated two or three 
times, " I am angry! " Every eye was turned on me, but not 
a warrior stirred : the women seized their children and ran 
into lodges. The Medicine Calf had arrived, but he 
angry. 

I advanced to the strong and well-secured gate of the fort, 
and struck it a heavy blow with my battle-axe. •'Halloo, 
boys ! " I shouted; *' open your gate, and admit a friend. 

*' Jim Beckwourth ! By heavens, Jim Beckwourth ! " 
repeated from tongue to tongue. The gates flew open upon 
their massive hinges, and, as I rode through, I said, "Leave 
the gates open, boys ; there is no longer danger." 

I exchanged but a few words with Mr. TuUeck, as I had 
difficult business before me. The people I had to mo 
were subject to strange caprices, and I had not resolved whai 
policy to adopt toward them. 

I went and sat down sullenly, hanging my head so lo 
that my chin rested upon my breast : this was a token of my 
great displeasure. The braves came round me slowly. My 
wives all formed themselves in a circular line, and marched 
round me, each one pausing as she passed to place her hand 
on the back of my neck. 

The brave old Yellow Belly was the first one to speak, an 
what he said was to the purpose. 

" What is the matter with our chief ? " he inquired ; " wh 
has angered the Medicine Calf? " 

" Did I not tell you," I said, " that I left you in charge a 
the Crane and these other whites during my absence ? An< 
what do I behold on my return ? " 

'' Yes, I told you I would take care of the Crane and thei 
other whites while you were gone, and I have done so. My 
warriors have killed buffalo for them to eat, and our women 
have brought them wood and water for their use, and they are 
all alive. Look ! Yonder is the Crane; and his white people 
are all with him — are they dead ? " 



N 





Grandson of Stu-mick-o-Sucks. Boy of Six. 
(Blackfoot. 



t 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 329 

** No ; but you intended to kill them." 

"Yes; but listen: if you had not returned before the 
cherries turned red, we should have killed them all, and every 
other white man besides that we could have found in the 
Am-ma-ha-bas (Eocky Mountains). Now hear what I have to 
say: 

" Suppose I am now going to war, or I am going to die. I 
come to you and say, * My friend, I am going to die yonder ; 
I want you to be a kind friend to my children, and protect 
them after I depart for the land of the Great Spirit.' I go 
out and die. My wives come to you with their fingers cut off, 
their hair gone, and the warm blood pouring from their bodies. 
They are crying mournfully, and your heart pities them. 
Among the children is a son in whom you behold the image of 
your friend who is no more. The mother of that child you 
know to be good and virtuous. You have seen her triumphant 
entry into the medicine lodge, where you have beheld so many 
cut to pieces in attempting the same. You say. Here is the 
virtuous wife of my friend ; she is beloved and respected by 
the whole nation. She asks you to revenge her loss — the loss 
that has deprived her of her husband and the child of its 
father. In such a case, what would you do ? Speak ! " 

*' I should certainly take my warriors," I replied, " and go 
and avenge your loss." 

" That is just what I was going to do for your relatives, 
friends, and nation. Now punish me if I have done wrong." 

I had nothing to say in answer, and my head again fell — 
the spell was not yet broken. The Crow Belt, an old and 
crafty brave, whispered to a young warrior, who rose in 
silence, and immediately left the fort. 

Mrs. Tulleck shortly presented herself, and commenced 
tantahzing the Crows. 

* What are your warriors waiting for, who have been thirst- 

g so many suns to kill the whites? You have been brave for 

long while ; where is all your bravery now ? The gates are 

t wide open, and only three have joined the few whites 
whom you thirsted to kill ; why don't you begin ? What are 
ou afraid of?" 

She continued in this aggravating strain, the warriors hear- 



330 AUTOBIOOBAPHY OF 

iug it all, although they did not appear to notice her. The 
woman's voice was agreeably relieved by tones uttered outside 
the gate, which at that moment fell upon my ear, and which I 
readily recognized as the voice of Pine Leaf. She was harangu- 
ing her warriors in an animated manner, and delivering what,, 
in civilized life, would be called her valedictory address. 

" Warriors ! " she said, " I am now about to make a great 
sacrifice for my people. For many winters I have been on the 
war-path with you ; I shall tread that path no more ; you have 
now to fight the enemy without me. When I laid down my 
needle and my beads, and took up the battle-axe and the 
lance, my arm was weak ; but few winters had passed over my 
head. My brother had been killed by the enemy, and was 
gone to the hunting-ground of the Great Spirit. I saw him in* 
my dreams. He would beckon for his sister to come to him. 
It was my heart's desire to go to him, but I wished first to 
become a warrior, that I might avenge his death upon his foes 
before I went away. 

" I said I would kill one hundred foes before I married any 
living man. I have more than kept my word, as our great 
chief and medicine men can tell you. As my arm increased 
in strength, the enemy learned to fear me. I have accom- 
plished the task I set before me ; henceforward I leave the 
war-paths of my people ; I have fought my last battle, and 
hurled my last lance ; I am a warrior no more. 

" To-day the Medicine Calf has returned. He has returned 
angry at the follies of his people, and they fear that he will 
again leave them. They believe that he loves me, and that 
my devotion to him will attach him to the nation. I therefore 
bestow myself upon him ; perhaps he will be contented with 
me, and will leave us no more. Warriors, farewell ! " 

She then entered the fort, and said, " Sparrowhawks, one> 
who has followed you for many winters is about to leave your 
war-path for ever. When have you seen Bar-chee-am-pe 
shrink from the charge ? You have seen her lance red with 
the blood of the enemy more than ten times ten. You know 
what her vow was, and you know she has kept her word. 
Many of you have tried to make her break her word, which 
you knew she had passed to the Great Spirit when she lost her 



I 




JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 331 

brother. But you found that, though a woman, she had the 
heart of a warrior. 

" Do not turn your heads, but Hsten. You have seen that 
a woman can keep her word. During the many winters that 
I have followed you faithfully in the war-path, you have 
refused to let me into the war-path secret, although you tell it 
to striplings on their second excursion. It was unfair that I 
could not know it ; that I must be sent away with the women 
and children, when the secret was made known to those one- 
battle braves. If you had seen fit to tell it to me, it would 
have been secret until my death. But let it go ; I care no 
farther for it. 

" I am about to sacrifice what I have always chosen to 
preserve — my liberty. The back of my steed has been my 
lodge and my home. On his back, armed with my lance and 
battle-axe, I knew no fear. The medicine chief, when fighting 
by my side, has displayed a noble courage and a lofty spirit, 
and he won from my heart, what no other warrior has ever 
won, the promise to marry him when my vow was fulfilled. 
He has done much for our people ; he has fought their enemies, 
and spilled his blood for them. When I shall become his wife, 
I shall be fond and faithful to him. My heart feels pure before 
the Great Spirit and the sun. When I shall be no more on 
the war-path, obey the voice of the Medicine Calf, and you 
will grow stronger and stronger ; we shall continue a great 
and a happy people, and he will leave us no more. I have 
done." 

She then approached me, every eye being intently fixed upon 
her. She placed her hand under my chin, and lifted my head 
forcibly up. "Look at me," she said; "I know that your 
heart is crying for th3 follies of the peojle. But let it cry no 
more. I know you have ridden day and night to keep us from 
evil. You have ma:le us strong, and your desire is to preserve 
us strong. Now stay at home with us ; you will not be obliged 
to go to war more than twice in twelve moons. And now, my 
friend, I am yours after you have so long been seeking me. I 
believe you love me, for you. have often told me you did, and I 
believe you have not a forked tongue. Our lodge shall be a 

ppy one ; and when you depart to the happy hunting-ground, 



832 A UTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

I will be already there to welcome you. This day I become 
yom- wife — Bar-chee-am-pe is a warrior no more." 

This relieved me of my melancholy. I shook the braves by 
the hand all round, and narrated much of my recent adventures 
to them. When I came to my danger in the A-rick-a-ra 
country, they were almost boiling with wrath, and asked my 
permission to go and exterminate them. 

Pine Leaf left the fort with my sisters to go and dress for 
the short marriage ceremony. She had so long worn the war 
costume that female apparel seemed hardly to become her; 
she returned so transformed in appearance that the beholder 
could scarcely recognize her for the same person. 

When I visited her lodge in the evening I found her dressed 
like a queen, with a lodge full of her own and my relatives to 
witness the nuptials. She was naturally a pensive, deep- 
thinking girl ; her mind seemed absorbed in some other object 
than worldly matters. It might be that her continual remem- 
brance of her brother's early fall had tinged her mind with 
melancholy, or it might be constitutional to her ; but for an 
Indian girl she had more of that winning grace, more of those 
feminine blandishments — in short, she approached nearer to 
our ideal of a woman than her savage birth and breed would 
seem to render possible. 

This was my last marriage in the Crow nation. Pine Leaf, 
the pride and admiration of her people, was no longer the 
dauntless and victorious warrior, the avenger of the fall of her 
brother. She retired from the field of her glory, and became 
the affectionate wife of the Medicine Calf. 

The difficulty being now entirely removed, we quitted our 
encampment, and went on a hunting excursion. We were 
away but a few days and then returned to the fort. One 
morning it was discovered a large drove of horses was missing. 
A party was despatched along the trail, which conducted them 
precisely the same route they took before. I raised a party, 
and again struck across the Mussel Shell, and, finding I was 
before the fugitives, I secreted my warriors as before. We had 
waited but a few moments, when I saw the enemy emerge 
from the pines, not more than a mile distant. Pine Leaf and 
my little wife were with me. My new bride, as she saw the 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 333 

enemy approach, lost all recollection of her new character ; hei* 
eye assumed its former martial fire, and, had she had her 
former war equipments, beyond all doubt she would have 
joined in the dash upon the foe. 

The pursued, which was a party of Black Feet, were hard 
pressed by their pursuers in the rear, but very shortly they 
were harder pushed in the van. When within proper distance, 
I gave the word Hoo-ki-hi (charge), and every Black Foot 
instantly perished. So sudden was our attack, they had not 
time to fire a gun. I struck down one man, and, looking 
round for another to ride at, I found they were all dead. The 
pursuers did not arrive in time to participate in the fight. We 
took thirty-eight scalps, and recovered one thousand horses, 
with which we returned to the fort. This was my last battle 
in the Crow nation ; the scalp I relieved the Black Foot of was 
the last I ever took for them. 

Before my sudden recall from St. Louis I had entered into 
negotiations which I now felt I would like to complete. I had 
informed the Crows, after my marriage with Pine Leaf, that I 
must return to the country of the whites, as they had called 
me away before I had had time to fi:nish my business. When 
the boats were ready to go down stream I stepped on board, 
and proceeded as far as Fort Union. Previous to departing, I 
informed the Crows that I should be back in four seasons, as 
I at that time supposed I should. I told them to credit no 
reports of my death, for they were all false ; the whites would 
never kill me. Pine Leaf inquired if I would certainly come 
back. I assured her that, if life was preserved to me, I would. 
I had been married but five weeks when I left, and I have 
never seen her since. 

I was disappointed in my expectation of entering into a 

satisfactory engagement to the agent of the company, so I 

^kept on to St. Louis. In good truth, I was tired of savage 

life under any aspect. I knew that, if I remained with them, 

[it would be war and carnage to the end of the chapter, and 

ly mind sickened at the repetition of such scenes. Savage 

life admits of no repose to the man who desires to retain the 

iharacter of a great brave ; there is no retiring upon your 

burels. I could have become a pipe-man, but I did not Uke 



334 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 



to descend to that ; and, farther, I could not reconcile myself 
to a life of inactivity. Pine Leaf and my little wife would 
have excited their powers of pleasing to procure me happiness ; 
but I felt I was not doing justice to myself to relapse irre- 
trievably into barbarism. 

It certainly grieved me to leave a people who reposed so 
much trust in me, and with whom I had been associated so 
long ; and, indeed, could I have made an engagement with the 
American Fur Company, as I had hoped to do, I should have 
redeemed my promise to the Crows, and possibly have finished 
my days with them. But, being mistaken in my calculations, 
I was led on to scenes wilder and still more various, yet 
dignified with the name of greater utility, because associated 
with the interests of civilization. 



CHAPTEE XXIX. 

Keturn to St. Louis — Interview with General Gaines — The Muleteers' Com- 
pany — Departure for Florida — Wreck of the Maid of New York — Arrival 
at Fort Brooke — Tampa Bay — Bearer of Despatches to General Jessup 
— ^Battle of 0-ke-cho-be — Anecdotes and Incidents. 

1HAD speedy passage to St. Louis, and arrived there after 
an absence of five months. I mentioned that I had left 
some business unsettled at the time of my sudden leave. This 
was none other than an affair matrimonial ; but on my return 
I had some misunderstanding with my fair dulcinea, and the 
courtship dropped through. 

At this time the Florida war was unfinished. General 
Gaines was in St. Louis for the purpose of raising a company 
of men familiar with Indian habits. Mr. Sublet had spoken 
to him about me, and had recommended me as being particu- 
larly-well acquainted with Indian life. The general sent a 
request that I would call upon him at his quarters. I went 
accordingly, and was introduced by Sublet. 

The general inquired of me how I would like to go to 
Florida to fight the Indians. I replied that I had seen so 
much of Indian warfare during the last sixteen years that I 
w^as about tired of it, and did not want to engage in it again, 
at least for the present. He remarked that there was a good 
opportunity there for renoion. He wished, he said, to raise a 

mpany which would go down as muleteers ; that their duties 

ould be light, and so on through the stereotyped benefits 

culiar to a soldier's life. 

Sublet recommended me to engage. Florida, he said, was a 
dehghtful country, and I should find a wide difference between 

Be cold region of the Rocky Mountains and the genial and 
lubrious South. 
I 



i 

■■r < 



336 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

The general then inquired if I could not raise a company of ; 
mountain-boys to go with me. I replied that I thought I 
could, or that, at any rate, I would make the effort. 

The trapping business was unusually dull at that time, and 
there were plenty of unoccupied men in the city ready tO' 
engage in any enterprise. I went among my acquaintance ^ 
and soon collected a company of sixty-four men. I went and 
reported my success to the general. He wished to see the 
men. I brought them all forward, and had their names en- 
rolled. I was appointed captain of the company, with three 1 
lieutenants elected from the men. 

On the ninth day of my stay in St. Louis, we went on board 
a steamer going down stream, and were quickly on our way to 
the Seminole country. We had a delightful journey to New 
Orleans, where we were detained five days in waiting for a' 
vessel to transport us to the fields of "renown." While! 
waiting in New Orleans I fell in with several old acquaintances^] 
who gave me an elegant parting dinner. I then sported the] 
commission of captain in the service of Uncle Sam. 

Our vessel, the Maid of Neio York, Captain Carr, being at' 
length ready for sea, my soldiers, with their horses, were taken 
on board, and we set sail for Tampa Bay. I now, for the first 
time in my life, saw salt water, and the sickness it produced I 
in me led me to curse General Gaines, and the trappings of 
war to boot. Our vessel stranded on a reef, and there she 
remained snug enough, all efforts to dislodge her proving fruit- 
less. There was one small island in sight to leeward; in every 
other direction there was nothing visible but the heaving 
ocean. Wreckers, who seemed to rise from the sea-foam, 
flocked instantly around us, and were received by our captain 
with a ready volley of nautical compliment. The vessel had 
settled deeply into a bed of sand and rock ; the water was 
rapidly gaining in her hold, and my commission, together with 
my gallant companions in arms, seemed, at that moment, to 
have a slim chance of ever serving our respected uncle in the 
" fields of renown." I ascended the rigging to take a survey 
of the country. Many a time an elevated prospect had 
delivered me from difficulties, if dissimilar, yet not less im- 
minent, than those that now menaced me. Still I felt that,. 



I 



JAMES P, BECKWOUBTH. 337 

could those ratlines I was now ascending be transformed into 
the back of my Indian war-steed, this ocean be replaced with 
a prairie, and that distant speck which they called an island 
be transmuted into a buffalo, I would give my chance of a 
major-generalship in purchase of the change ; for the sensa- 
tions of hunger I began to feel were uncomfortably acute, and 
I saw no immediate prospect of alleviating the pain. Suddenly 
I saw a long line of black smoke, which I thought must be 
from a prairie fire. I reported my discovery to the captain, 
and he hoisted our colours at half-mast, to signal for assistance. 
A small steamer came in sight, and made toward us, and 
finally ranged up under our stern. She took off all my men 
except myself and twelve others. I wrote to the commandant 
at Tampa Bay to inform him of our situation, and asking him 
for immediate assistance. After twelve days' stay on the reef, 
two small brigs came out to us, and received on board our- 
selves, with our horses and forage, conveying us to Tampa 
Bay, where they cast anchor. Major Bryant sent for me to 
his quarters, and I forthwith presented myself before him. 

This officer gave me a very cordial welcome, congratulating 
the service on having an experienced mountaineer, and saying 
several other very complimentary things. At length he said, 
"Captain Beckwourth, I wish to open a communication 
between this port and the headquarters of Colonel Jessup, 
distant about one hundred miles. I have received no despatches 
from there, although nine couriers have been despatched by 
Colonel Taylor." 

I replied, "Sir, I have no knowledge of the country; I know 
nothing of its roads or Irails, the situation of its posts, nor do 
I so much as know the position of Colonel Jessup's command. 
To attempt to convey despatches while so little prepared to 
keep out of harm's way, I very much fear, would be to again 
disappoint the service in the delivery of its messages, and to 
afford the Seminoles an additional scalp to those they have 
already taken." 

He pooh-poohed my objections. '' A man," said Major 
Bryant, " who has fought the Indians in the Kocky Mountains 
khe number of years that you have, will find no difficulty here 
in Florida." 

22 



338 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

" Well," I assented, " furnish me with the bearings of th 
country, and direct me to the colonel's camp, and I will do m 
best to reach there." 

Accordingly, the major furnished me with all the necessar; 
instructions, and I started alone on my errand. 

It was my acquired habit never to travel along any beaten 
path or open trail, but rather to give such road a wide berth,^ 
and take the chances of the open country. I observed m 
invariable custom on this occasion, merely keeping in view th 
bearings of the position I was steering for. I started fro 
Major Bryant's post about sunrise, and reached the colonel's 
headquarters at nightfall the following day. I passed through 
the camp without seeing it ; but the sound of a bugle falling 
on my ear, I tacked about, and finally alighted upon it. 

As I rode up I was hailed by a sentinel — 

" Who come dere ? " 

" An express." 

" Vat you vant in dish camp ? " 

" I wish to see Colonel Jessup. Call the officer of th 
guard." 

" Vat for you come from dat way vere ish de Schimynoles? 

" Call your officer of the guard," said I, impatiently. 

The officer of the guard at length appeared. 

•* What are you here again for ? " he inquired of me. 

'* I wish to see the commanding officer," I replied. 

" Yes, you are always wishing to see the commandinj 
officer," he said ; " but he will not be troubled with you mud 
longer ; he will soon commence hanging you all." 

" I demand to be shown to the commanding officer, sir,'' 
I reiterated. 

" Who are you, then ? " 

" I am the bearer of despatches." 

** Give them to me." 

" I was not instructed to give them to you. I shall not do 
it, sir." 

" I believe you came from the Seminoles ; you came from 
that direction." 

" You believe wrong, sir. Will you show me to Colonel 
Jessup, or will you not ? " 



i 

i 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 339 

This very cautious officer of the guard then went to the 
marquee of the colonel, and addressed him : " Here is another 
of those Seminoles, sir, who says he has despatches for you. 
What shall I do with him ? " 

The colonel came out, and eyed me scrutinizingly. 

" Have you brought despatches for me ? " he inquired. 

" I have, sir." 

"From where? " 

'' From Tampa Bay, sir." 

" He came from the Seminoles, colonel," interposed the 
officer of the guard. 

" You are mistaken again, sir," I said, giving him the look 
of a Crow in the midst of a battle ; for I was not yet hireling 
enough not to feel aggravated at being called by implication a 
liar. 

"Let me see your despatches," said the colonel. 

I handed him the documents ; he took them, and passed into 
his tent. 

This did not suit me. I resolved to return instantly. I had 
not been treated with common civility ; no inquiries had been 
made about my appetite ; I was not even invited to alight 
from my horse. I had neither eaten nor slept since I left 
Tampa Bay. I was on the point of turning my horse's head, 
secretly resolving that these were the last despatches I would 
bear in that direction, when the colonel called — 

"Captain Beckwourth, alight! alight, sir, and come into 
my quarters. Orderly, have Captain Beckwourth's horse taken 
immediate care of. You must be hungry, captain." 

" What I need most now is sleep," I said ; "let me have a 
little repose, and then I shall feel refreshed, and will not refuse 
to sit down to a meal." 

The colonel bowed assent, and, raising a canvas door, pointed 
out to me a place for repose, at the same time promising me 
I should not be disturbed. When I awoke, I presented myself, 
and was regaled with a good substantial supper. This recruited 
me, and I was again fit for service. 

The colonel made many inquiries of my past service. Major 
Bryant had made very favourable mention of me in his des- 
patches, which seemed to have inspired quite an interest in 



340 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

the colonel's mind. He asked me if I was a native of Florida, 
where I had spent my early days, and my reason for entering 
the army. I answered all his questions as briefly as possible, 
mentioning that I had been tempted among the Seminoles 
by the promise held out by General Gaines of my gaining 
" renown." The colonel thought my company of mountaineers 
a valuable acquisition to the service, and he made no doubt 
we should achieve great credit in ferreting out the hiding- 
places of the Indians. 

He soon had his papers ready ; they were delivered to m 
and I departed. On the way I stopped at a fort, the name 
which I forget, and took a fresh horse. I finally arrived at i 
Bay without seeing an Indian. 

I stayed with my company for two or three weeks at Fo: 
Brooke, during which time we were engaged in breaking-in 
mules. We were then placed under the command of Colonel 
Taylor, afterward General, and President of the United Statei 
whose force was composed of United States troops and volu: 
teers, some of the latter being from Missouri. The colonel 
advanced southward with sixteen hundred men, erecting, 
as we advanced, a fort at the interval of every twenty-fivi 
miles. 

On the morning of Christmas Day (1837) our camp wai 
beleaguered by a large force of Indians, and Colonel Taylor 
ordered an advance upon them. The spot was thickly grown 
with trees, and numbers of our assailants were concealed 
among the branches ; as our line advanced, therefore, many 
were singled out by the enemy, and we lost fearfully in killed 
and wounded. The yeUing was the most deafening I ever 
heard, for there were many negroes among the enemy, and 
their yells drowned those of the Eed Men. I soon found we 
had a different enemy from the Black Feet to fight, and 
different ground to fight on. The country lost several 
valuable lives through this slight brush with the Indians. 
The gallant Colonel Gentry, of the Missouri volunteers, was 
shot through the head ; Colonel Thompson, and several other 
officers, were also among the slain. The enemy had made an 
excellent choice of ground, and could see our troops while 
remaining concealed themselves. 



lei ; 



H 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH, 341 



I placed myself behind a tree, and Captain Morgan, of the 
Missouri Spies, was similarly sheltered close by. We were 
surrounded with Indians, and one was watching, on the 
opposite side of the tree that protected me, for a chance to 
get my scalp. A Missourian picked off a fine fat negro who 
had ensconced himself in a live-oak tree. As he fell to the 
ground it shook beneath him : the fruit was ripe, but unfit for 
food. 

Seeing the men dropping around, Major Price ordered a 
retreat. The order was instantly countermanded by Colonel 
Davenport, who, by so doing, saved many lives. 

Colonel Foster had taken a very exposed position on the 
bough of a tree, where he was visible to all. He ordered his 
men to lie low and load their muskets ; he waited till he saw 
a favourable opportunity, and then shouted, " Fire, boys, and 
pour it into the red and black rascals ! " 

A charge with bayonets was finally ordered, and the Indians, 
not relishing the look of the sharp steel, retreated ; however, 
not before they had seized a sergeant-major and a private from 
our line, and scalped them alive. 

This was the battle of 0-ke-cho-be, which lasted four hours. 
We lost over a hundred in killed and wounded ; the enemy left 
nine Indians and a negro dead upon the field. Sam Jones, 
the half-breed, was only eight miles distant, with a force of a 
thousand warriors ; most providentially he had been dis- 
suaded by the negroes from advancing, who assured him that 
the whites would not fight on Christmas Day. 

It was reported that Colonel Taylor was uncontrollably 
angry during the battle, and that his aids and other ofl&cers 
had to hold him by main force to prevent him from rushing 
among the enemy, and meeting certain death. I do not know 
what truth there was in this, for I saw nothing of it, nor, 
indeed, did I see the colonel during the whole of the four 
hours' fighting. 

On the conclusion of the action Colonel Taylor wished to 
send despatches to Tampa Bay. He requested Captain Lomax 
to take his company and go with them. The captain refused, 
for the reason that he and his men would infallibly be massacred. 
The colonel remarked then, *' Since you are all afraid, I will 



W» 



342 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

go myself." He sent for me, and demanded if I could raise 
sufficient number of brave men among my mountaineers t 
carry despatches to the Bay. 

I answered, certainly, if I could have his favourite horse 
which was the fleetest one in the whole army, and such 
excellent bottom that he was as fresh after a journey as before. 
I considered that, if I had to run the gauntlet through a host 
of Seminoles and infuriated negroes, the best horse was none 
too good, and was, indeed, my only means of salvation. 

When ready to start, I applied for the despatches. 

" Where are your men? " asked the colonel. 

" My men are in their quarters, colonel," I said. "la; 
going to carry those despatches by myself." 

" They must go through," he remarked, " and I want the 
to go well guarded." 

" I am not going to fight, colonel," I replied, *' I am goi 
to run ; and one man will make less noise than twenty. I; 
I am not killed the despatches shall arrive safe; my life i 
certainly worth as much to me as the charge I am intrusted 
with, and for personal safety I prefer going alone." 

In our progress out the troops had cut their way through 
several humjnochs, and had thrown the bushes up on both 
sides. I had to pass through some of these lanes. It was 
night when I started, and as I was riding through one of 
these excavations at a good pace, I heard a sudden noise in 
the brush. I saw myself in a trap, and my hair bristled up 
with affright. I was greatly relieved, however, by the speedy 
discovery that it was only a deer I had scared, and which was 
scampering away at its utmost speed. I continued on, resting 
a short time at each fort, until I arrived in sight of Fort I 
Brooke. As soon as I arrived within hailing distance, I 
shouted " Victory ! victory ! " which brought out officers and 
men, impatient to hear the news. I could not see that 0-ke- 
cho-be was much of a victory ; indeed, I shrewdly suspected 
that the enemy had the advantage ; but it was called a 
victory by the soldiers, and they were the best qualified to 
decide. 

On my return, I found Colonel Taylor, soon after the battle, 
had retrograded to Fort Bassinger. We lay at that fort a long 



I 



II 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 343 

while ; spies were vigilantly on the look-out, but nothing very 
encouraging was reported. I and my company of mountaineers 
did not encamp with the other troops, but took up our quarters 
at a considerable distance from the main guard. We were 
quite tired of inactivity, and wanted to go somewhere or do 
something. Being quartered by ourselves, we were not 
subjected to the restrictions and military regulations of the 
camp; we had our own jollifications, and indulged in some 
little comforts which the camp did not enjoy. We always 
would have a large fire when there was need for it, for it 
destroyed the millions of mosquitoes and other vermin that 
annoyed us ; and, as some of our company were always about, 
the Indians never molested us. 

There was a large hummock about four miles distant from 
the fort which the Indians infested in great numbers, but, as 
they could not be dislodged without great loss, our colonel was 
constrained to content himself with closely watching them. 
One day I proposed to my men to take a stroll, and they fell 
with great alacrity into the proposition. We passed down to 
the interdicted hummock, where we shot two deer, and found 
quite an assortment of stock. We drove them all to the camp 
before us, to the great admiration of the officers and men 
present. We had captured quite a drove of hogs, several head 
of cattle, and a good sprinkling of Seminole ponies. We saw 
no Indians at the hummock, though certainly we did not search 
veiy diligently for them. 

During our stay at the fort, the communication between that 
post and Charlotte's Harbour was closed, and one messenger 
had been killed. The quartermaster inquired of me if I 
would undertake the trip. I told him I would ; and set one 
hundred dollars as the price of the undertaking, which he 
thought quite reasonable. I started with the despatches, and 
proceeded at an easy gallop, my eye glancing in every direc- 
tion, as had been my wont for many years. In casting a look 
about two gun-shots ahead, I felt sure that I saw some 
feathers showing themselves just above the palmettos, and 
exactly in the direction that I was bending my steps. I rode 
^ short distance farther, and my suspicion was confirmed. I 
■amediately stopped my horse and dismounted, as though for 

I 



344 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

the purpose of adjusting my saddle, but in reality to watch 
my supposed foes. In a minute or two several heads appeared, 
looking in my direction, and withdrew^ again in an instant. 
Immediately the heads declined behind the grass, I sprang 
upon my horse, and reined him out of the road, taking a wide 
circuit round them, which I knew would carry me out of 
danger. I then looked after them, and tantalized them with 
my gestures in every manner possible, motioning them to come 
and see me ; but they seemed to be aware that their legs were 
not long enough to reach me, so they digested their disappoint- 
ment, and troubled me no farther. I arrived safe at the 
Harbour that same day, delivered my despatches, and was 
back at the fort the following night. 

We now experienced a heavy rain, which deluged the entire 
country, and prevented any farther operations against the 
Indians. The colonel ordered a retreat to Tampa Bay, and, 
as there was no danger of molestation on the way, many of 
the officers obtained liberty to gallop on in advance of the . 
army. Colonel Bryant rode a very valuable black charger, ll 
acknowledged to be the best horse in camp. After traveUing ^" 
on a while, the colonel said, '* I have a notion to ride on and 
get in to-day, as my presence is required ; you can get in AM 
to-morrow at your leisure." A number said, If you can get " 
in to-day, we can, and finally the whole party proposed 
starting off together. 

We at length came to a swampy place in the road, which 
spread over five miles, and in many places took our horses oflf 
their feet. This place forded, there was then a narrow stream, 
and after that it was all dry land. Having passed the swamp 
and the stream, and got fairly on to dry land again, I took the 
saddle off my mule, which example all followed, and, with the 
assistance of a brother officer, wrung the saddle-blanket as 
dry as possible, and then spread it out fairly in the sun to dry. 
In the meanwhile, the horses helped themselves to a good feed 
of grass, and we all partook of a hearty lunch likewise. 

Thus refreshed, we saddled up and proceeded again. After 
a few miles travel we discovered the rear of Bryant's party, 
who were toiling slowly along, and goring their animals' flanks 
in the vain endeavour to urge them into speed. We passed 



I 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 345 

lem with a hearty cheer. We journeyed on until within 
iree miles of the fort, where there was a short bend in the 
)ad, and a foot trail across, which saved about a hundred 
rds. . ** Now, gentlemen," said I, " let us raise a gallop, and 
}s everybody on the road." The work was at once accom- 
'plished, some of my men deriding those left behind on account 
of their miserable progress. We then all struck into a gallop, 
and soon reached the fort, and several of our company found 
time to get quite intoxicated before the quartermaster arrived. 
He, however, soon recovered his equanimity of temper, and 
begged a solution of the mystery how we could come in with 
our animals fresh, while his and his companions' horses were 
jaded to death. He was referred by all to the captain of the 
mountaineers. 

I said, " x\ horse, colonel, is only flesh and blood, and his 
system requires greater care than that of almost any other 
animal. We beat your powerful steed with inferior animals 
by affording them a short rest, with a mouthful or two of grass 
on the road, and by wringing our blankets after we had passed 
the water." 

Now we had another long interval of inactivity, and I began 
to grow tired of Florida, with its inaccessible hummocks. It 
seemed to me to be a country dear even at the price of the 
powder that would be required to blow the Indians out of it, 
and certainly a poor field to work in iovreiwwn. My company 
and I, its commander, had nothing to do except to carry an 
occasional despatch, and I wanted excitement of some kind — ■ 
I was indifferent of what nature, even if it was no better than 
borrowing horses of the Black Feet. The Seminoles had no 
horses worth stealing, or I should certainly have exercised my 
talents for the benefit of the United States. 

The last despatches that I carried in Florida I bore from 
^Fort Dade to Fort Brooke. In accomplishing this, I travelled 
rith my customary caution, avoiding the trail as much as pos- 
ible. In a part where I anticipated no danger, I took the 
lII, and fell asleep on my horse, for I had ridden four days 
id nights without rest, except what I had snatched upon 
lorseback. Suddenly my horse sprang aside, instantly 
^waking me. I found I had been sleeping too long, for I 



I 



346 AUTOBIOGEAPHY OF 

had passed the turning-point, and was now near a hummock. 
To return would cost me several miles travel. My horse's 
-ears informed me there was something in motion near by. I 
pondered my position, and ultimately resolved to take the 
■chances and go ahead. The road through the hummock was _ 
just wide enough to admit the army waggons to pass. I bidfll 
my horse go, and he sprung forward with tremendous bounds. 
He had not reached through this dark and dangerous pass •■ 
when I saw the flash of several guns, and the balls whizzed fl 
harmlessly past me. I discharged my pistols at the lair of"" 
my foes, and travelled on in safety to the fort. 

I grew tired of this, and informed Colonel Bryant that I 
wished to resign my task. ''Why?'' said he; ''everybody 
who undertakes it gets killed, while you never see any Indians. 
What are we to do ? " 

When in camp, I had frequently seen men come run- 
ning in half dead with alarm, saying that they had seen 
Indians, or had been fired upon by Indians. I remarked 
that they were always ridiculed by the officers ; even 
the privates disbelieved them. Seeing this, I determined to 
say nothing about my adventure ; for, if they had received my 
assertion with incredulity, it might have led to an unpleasant 
scene in the wigwam. 

I was determined to return to the " home of the free and 
the land of the brave," for I felt that the mountains and the 
prairies of the Great West, although less attended with 
renown, at least would afford me more of the substantial 
■comforts of life, and suit my peculiar taste better than the 
service of Uncle Sam in Florida. 

The commander of the fort, after reading the despatch, 
endorsed on it, " Beckwourth fired on by a party of Indians 
when near this post." He then returned it to me, and I rode 
on to Fort Brooke. 

Colonel Bryant, having read the despatch, said, " Ah, Beck- 
wourth, you have been fired on, I see ! why did you not tell 
us so on your arrival ? " 

I informed him of my reasons, as before stated. 
He smiled. "Your word would have been believed by us 
all," he said; "it is these stupid foreigners that we discredit, 



I 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTE. 347 






^ho do not know an Indian from a stump ; they have deceived 
us too often for us to put further faith in them." 

A Seminole came into the fort a few days subsequent to 
this, to give himself up, his arm being broken. When ques- 
tioned about it, he said that a white man had broken it in 
such a hummock, on such a night. I then knew that my 
pistols, which I fired at random, had done the mischief. 

Alligator, the Seminole Chief, shortly after came in, and in- 
formed Colonel Taylor that he and his tribe had concluded 
to remove to their new home, and requested the colonel to 
send down waggons to transport their women and children. 

" I have fought you a long time," said the Eed Man, " but I 
•cannot beat you. If I kill ten of your warriors, you send 
a hundred to replace them ; I am now ready to go, and save 
the rest of my people." 

" Yes," the colonel answered, ** your talk is good. You can 
now go to your new home, and be happy. There is a man 
(pointing to me) who is a great chief of a great nation ; you 
will, for aught I know, be neighbour to his people ; he and his 
people will teach you to hunt the buffalo, and I hope you will 
be good friends." 

While I was with the army a tragedy occurred, which I 
have never seen in any public print, and I deem it of sufficient 
interest to make mention of it here. A young private, of very 
respectable connections, had been tried for some offence, and 
sentenced to receive a flogging, which was carried unmer- 
-cifully into effect. After he had recovered, the surgeon bade 
him go and report himself fit for duty. 

" I will go," said he, " but it will be my last duty." 

Accordingly, he fixed his bayonet and repaired to the officers' 
Kjuarters, where he found the captain and first lieutenant of 
his company. He advanced upon them, and saying, •* You 
ave disgraced me with an inhuman flogging — die ! " He shot 

e captain dead, and plunged his bayonet through the body 
of the lieutenant, also killing him on the spot. 

He straightway gave himself up, was tried by court-martial, 
and sentenced to be shot. The execution of the sentence 
was withheld by Colonel Taylor, who had forwarded the par- 
ticulars of the trial to the department at Washington, and was 



I 



848 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

waiting the result of official investigation. The case wa» 
found worthy of executive interference ; a pardon was signed 
by the President and sent on, and the young man was liberated 
from confinement. 

Such inhuman treatment as this poor young soldier received 
at the hands of his officers has resulted, I have no shadow of 
doubt, in the death of many an officer on the battle-field. 

I remember, at the battle of 0-ke-cho-be, a young lieutenant 
riding up to Colonel Foster, and saying, " Colonel, I have been 
shot at twice, and not by the enemy either." 

" It was by no friend, I will swear," said the colonel ; "you 
can leave the field, and learn to treat your men well in 
future." 

This I witnessed myself; but whether the young "buck- 
skin " profited by the sharp cut of the colonel I am unable to 
say. There was a Tennesseean in camp, a great foot-racer, 
who was incessantly boasting about his wonderful pedestrian 
powers. He had a valuable horse, which he offered to stake 
against any person in the camp for a race of sixty yards. As 
he was considered a "great leg" by all, no one ventured to 
take up his offer. 

I offered myself as a competitor, but all sought to dissuade 
me. " Don't run against him," said they ; " that fellow will ' 
outrun Lucifer himself. He has beat every man who has run 
against him in Florida." 

However, I staked a hundred dollars against his horse, and 
entered the lists. We started together ; but, as I did not see 
my antagonist, either ahead of me or by my side, I looked 
around, and saw him coming up. I went out a good distance 
ahead of him, and did not exert myself either. « 

The enemy having submitted to the government, there was I 
nothing more for us to do, and I asked for a furlough to return '^l 
to St. Louis. I and my company were enlisted for a year; 
ten months of this time had been served, and I obtained a 
furlough for the remaining two months. We embarked for 
New Orleans, Colonel Gates and his regiment taking passage 
in the same ship. Arriving at my place of destination in 
safety, I stayed but one night in the " Crescent City," and then 
took the steamer to St. Louis, where we had a good time while 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 349 

steaming up, and I was very well satisfied to jump ashore 
once again at my old home. My company all returned but 
two, one of whom died in New Orleans, the other was killed 
by the Seminoles after I left. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

Departure for the Mountains — Severe Sickness on the Way — Arrival 
Bent's Fort — Arrival at Sublet's Fort — Interview with the Cheyennes — 
Difficulty with a Sioux Warrior — His Death — Successful Trade opened, 
with various Tribes — Incidents. 

I STAYED but five days in St. Louis, which time I devoted to- 
a hasty visit among my friends. I entered into service 
with Messrs. Sublet and Vasques to return to the mountains 
and trade with any tribes I might find on the head- waters of 
the Platte and Arkansas rivers. This country embraces tha 
hunting-grounds of the Cheyennes, the Arrap-a-hos, the Sioux,, 
and the I-a-tans. 

All preliminaries being arranged, which are of no interest to 
the reader, I bade my friends once more adieu ; and, stepping 
on board a steamboat bound up the Missouri, we were soon 
breasting its broad and turbid current. We spent the Fourth 
on board, amid much noise, revelry, and drunken patriotism. 
We were landed in safety at Independence, where we received 
our waggons, cattle, &c., with which to convey the immense 
stock of goods I had brought through the Indian country. We 
were very successful in escaping accident in our progress over 
the plains, until we reached the ridge which passes between 
the Arkansas and Platte rivers. While ascending this ridge, 
accompanied with Mr. Vasques, I was sun-struck. We were 
at that time twenty miles from water ; I was burning with 
thirst, the heat was intolerable, and hostile Indians were 
before us. After incredible suffering we reached the river 
bank, and crossed the stream to an island, where I lay me 
down to die. All our medicines were in the waggons, and 
two days' journey in our rear. My fatigue and suffering had 



I 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 351 

thrown me into a fever ; I became delirious and grew rapidly 
worse. I requested my companion to return to the waggons- 
and procure me some medicine ; but he refused to leave me^ 
lest I might die in his absence. 

I said to him, " If you stay by me I shall certainly die, for 
you cannot relieve me ; but if you go and nature holds out 
till you return, their is some chance of my gaining relief. 
Go," I added, " and hasten your return." 

He left me at my entreaties, but filled all our vessels with, 
water before he started. I speedily fell asleep, and I know not 
how long I remained unconscious. When I at length awoke, 
I drank an inordinate quantity, which caused me to perspire 
copiously ; this relieved me, and my recovery commenced from 
that moment, although I still suffered from a severe headache. 
The third day of my friend's absence I could walk about a 
little, and the fourth day, at noon, I kept a good look-out in the 
direction I expected succour. Suddenly I saw a head appear,, 
and another, and then another, until four showed themselves. 
They are Indians, I said to myself ; but if there are only four, 
I stand a passable chance with them, so let them come on. I 
saw they had discovered me, so I arose and showed myself. 
With joyous shouts they flew toward me. It was my com- 
panion, with three others, who had come either to bury me or 
to assist me to the waggons. Their joy on beholding me so 
miraculously restored w^as unbounded, while my delight at 
seeing them was almost as great. We remained on the 
island that night, and the following morning started for the 
waggons, which we found in two days. 

In going for assistance, my friend had a narrow escape. He 
came suddenly upon a party of Pawnees, and one made a rush 
for his horse. He discharged his rifle hastily, and missed his 
mark. He then had to trust to his horse's heels ; but, as he 
was jaded, he did not make very good speed. The Indians 
were on foot, and gave close chase, but, when they saw his 
rifle reloaded, they fell back to a wider distance, and plied him 
with arrows until he was out of reach. 

I was placed in a waggon, and attended on as far as our cir- 
cumstances would admit, until I recovered my accustomed 
health. We stayed one night at Burt's Fort, on the Arkansas, 



fi 



« 



862 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

and then moved on to our destination on the South Fork of 
the Platte. Here we erected suitable buildings within the fort 
for our proposed trading, and, among others, a barn, which we 
proceeded to fill with hay for the coming winter. 

While staying at the fort, a man inquired of Sublet his 
reason for bringing up such a rascally fellow as I, to prompt Ij 
the Indians into rising and massacring all the whites. 

" Murray," said Sublet — for that was the man's name — " it 
is unsafe for you to express such sentiments in relation to 
Beckwourth; should they reach his ears, he would surely 
make you rue it. I have heard these foul aspersions upon his 
character before, and I am in a position to know that they are 
all unfounded. Had I the least suspicion of his integrity, I 
should be the last man to take him in my employ." 

This conversation was reported to me at some distance from 
the fort, where Murray was perfectly safe. But these foul 
reports annoyed me exceedingly. They were like stabs in the 
dark, for no one ever accused me to my face of such mis- 
deeds. 

After having placed things to rights, we were dining together 
within the fort, when Mr. Sublet rose and said, 

"Traders and clerks, you have come here to the mountains 
to work for me, and I expect every man to do his best. If I 
am prospered, I will do well by all of you. I desire a regular 
system established in my business out here, that my interests 
may be placed upon a secure footing. I am now going to 
deliver the key of my entire stock of goods to one man amoni 
you, in whom I have implicit confidence, and whose long ex 
perience and intimate acquaintance with the Indian character 
pre-eminently entitle him to the trust. This man will have 
full command of the fort, and full charge of its affairs. I 
wish you to receive him as a representative of myself, and, 
whatever orders you receive from him, obey them cheerfullyj, 
and to the very letter." * 

All present promised ready acquiescence to the wishes of our 
chief. 

He then delivered the key to me, saying, '* Beckwourth, I 
place this trust in your keeping, believing you to be as morally 
worthy of the confidence I repose in you, as you are practically 



bo , 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 353 

qualified to advance my interests. I abandon my affairs to 
your keeping. Do your best, and I shall be satisfied." 

I was so entirely unprepared for this distinguished mark of 
confidence, that for a moment I was unable to reply. After a 
momentary irresolution, I said, " Mr. Sublet, you have other 
men present who are better able to discharge this trust. I 
thank you for the flattering preference, and I beg to be excused 
from assuming the responsibility." 

"I engaged you," he answered, "to serve me in this 
capacity, and I wish you to accept the charge." 

" In that case," I said, *' I will do my best to promote your 
interest." 

Shortly aftev, he called me apart, and said, *' Beckwourth, 
I am deeply in debt. I have been losing for a long time. 
If you can replace me in one year, you shall be substantially 
rewarded, and I shall feel sincerely grateful for your service." 

*' How much do you owe ? " I inquired. 

** Over seventeen thousand dollars." 

"Well," said I, "if the men co-operate with me, and 
carry out my instructions, I feel ^confident of working you 
straight." 

I forthwith set about establishing sub-posts in various 
places, with the Siouxs, Arrap-a-hos, I-a-tans, and Cheyennes, 
and selected the best men at hand to attend them. I placed 
one at the mouth of Crow Creek, which I called my post, but 
left a man in charge of it, as I was at present fully occupied 
in travelling from one post to another. 

We had not, as yet, found any customers ; but, as we were 
in the Cheyenne country, I knew some of that nation could 
not be very far off. I sent three different messengers in search 
•of them to invite them to trade, but they all returned without 
having discovered the whereabouts of the Indians. Tired of 
these failures, I took a man with me, and started in the direc- 
tion of the Laramie mountain. While ascending the mount, 
I cast my eyes in the direction of a valley, and discovered 
buffalo running in small groups, which was sufiicient evidence 
&at they had been chased recently by Indians. We went no 
farther, but encamped there, and at nightfall we saw fires. 
The next morning a dense smoke hung like a cloud over the 

•23 



354 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

village of the Cheyennes ; we ate a hasty meal, and started to, 
pay them a visit. 

As we approached the village we saw William Bent, an in- 
terpreter, entering before us. He visited the chief's lodge 
we followed him in, and seated ourselves near him. He 
looked aghast, and addressed me : " My God ! Beckwourth 
how dare you come among the Cheyennes ? Don't you know 
that they will kill you if they discover you ? ' ' 

I replied that I thought not. 

He had come on the same errand as ourselves, namely, to' 
induce a portion of the village to remove to the Platte, as 
buffalo were abundant in that region. After a conversation 
was held between Bent and the chief, the latter inquired o: 
Bent who we were. He informed him that we were Left] 
Hand's (Sublet's) men. 

** "What do they want here ? " he asked. 

"They come for the same purpose that I have," Bent 
answered, " to have you move on to the Platte." 

Bent then inquired of me what account I wished to give o 
myself, as he would interpret for me; but, preferring to 
interpret for myself, I asked if their was a Crow among the 
that I could speak to. At the word '•' Crow " they all started, 
and every eye was riveted upon me. 

One stepped forward, and said, " I am a Crow." 

"You a Crow?" 

"Yes." 

" How long have you been away from them ? " 

"Twenty winters . " 

Bent was in the greatest perplexity. " You are not surely 
going to tell them who you are, Jim ? If you do, you'll cost 
your friends nothing for your funeral." 

This apprehension on the part of Bent proved to me that, 
although he had lived among the Indians, he had still much to 
learn of their real character. I therefore requested him to 
quiet his fears and bide the result. 

Turning to the Crow, I then said, " Tell the Cheyennes that 
I have fought them many winters ; that I have killed so many 
of their people that I am buried with their scalps ; I have taken 
a host of their women and children prisoners ; I have ridden 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 355 

their horses until their backs were sore ; I have eaten their fat 
buffalo until I was full ; I have eaten their cherries, and the 
other fruits of their land, until I could eat no more. I have 
killed a great Crow chief, and I am obliged to run away, or be 
killed by them. I have come to the Cheyennes, who are the 
bravest people in the mountains, as I do not wish to be killed 
by any of the inferior tribes. I have come here to be killed 
by the Cheyennes, cut up, and thrown out for their dogs to eat, 
so that they may say that they have killed a great Crow chief." 

He interpreted this unreserved declaration faithfully to the 
chief, and I observed Bent ready to fall from his seat at what 
he deemed my foolhardy audacity. 

''You are certainly bereft of your senses," he remarked; 
" the Indians will make sausage-meat of you." 

Old Bark, the patriarch of the Cheyennes, rose and said : 
" Warrior, we have seen you before ; we know you ; we knew 
you when you came in ; now we know you well. We know 
you are a great brave. You say you have killed many of our 
warriors ; we know you do not lie. We like a great brave, and 
we will not kill you ; you shall live." 

I answered, " If you will not kill me, I will live with you ; 
if you become poor, like some of the other tribes, and you 
need warriors to help you against your enemies, my arm is 
strong, and perhaps I will assist you to overcome them ; but I 
will not at this time give you my word that I will do so. If 
you do not kill me, I am going to trade with you for many 
moons. I will trade with you fairly ; I will not cheat you, as 
some traders have cheated you. I have a great many goods 
over on the Platte, such as you want, more than would fill 
many of your lodges. They are new, and look well. But, 
mind you, you must trade fairly with me. I have heard that 
you sometimes treat your traders badly ; that you take away 
their goods, and whip them, and make them run out of your 
country to save their lives. Your people must never serve me 
in that manner ; they must pay me for all they get ; and if 
any one strikes me, I shall kill him, and thereby show you 
that I am brave. If any one should strike me, and I should 
not kill him, you would call me a woman, and say I was no 
brave." 



356 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

They then asked me, through the Crow interpreter, if I was 
in such and such a battle between their nation and the Crows, 
all of which questions I answered truthfully. 

" Do you remember that in such a battle we lost such a 
brave ? " describing him. 

"Yes." 

" Who killed him ? " 

" I did." Or, if I did not kill him, I would tell them the 
name of the Crow who did. 

" Did he fight well ? " 

" Yes, he fought well." 

*' He died like a brave man, then ! " they would ejaculate 

" Were you in such a battle ? " asked another. 

'' Yes." 

" Did you see such a warrior fall? " 

**Yes." 

" Did he fight strong like a brave ? " 

" No, he did not fight well." 

" Ugh ! he w^as no brave ; he deserved to be killed." 

In battle every warrior has his personal device painted on 
his shield, chosen according to his fancy. My " armorial 
bearing" was a crescent, with a green bird between the 
horns, and a star on each side the field. I described my 
novel device, and their was a great movement among them, 
for most of them distinctly recollected that shield, and I saw 
myself rising in their estimation. Their brave hearts rejoiced 
to have a true warrior before them, for they esteemed me as 
brave as themselves. ^ 

One of their great chiefs, named the Bob-tailed Horse, arose, 
and asked me if I remembered the battle on Pole Creek. I 
replied that I did. 

" You killed me there," he said, "but I did. not die; " and 
he pointed out two scars upon his chest, just below the lower 
rib, where the balls from my gun entered, and which must 
have killed anybody but an Indian. 

** Where did I hit you ? " he asked. 

" Ugh ! " said I ; " you missed me." 

Old Bark then said, " Warrior, you killed me once too : look 
here ; " and he withdrew the hair from his right temple, and I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 357 

saw that his cheek had been badly torn, and his ear was 
entirely missing. " But," he added, " I did not die. You 
fought bravely that day." 

Had I gone among the Pawnees, the Siouxs, or many other 
tribes, and held this talk, I should have been hewn to pieces 
in a moment ; but the Cheyennes were great braves themselves, 
and admired the quality in others, the Crows being their only 
equals. 

While I sat talking thus, one of my men entered the village 
bearing two ten-gallon . kegs of whisky. He requested me to 
take one and sell it out, while he went to the other end of the 
village, where the Siouxs were encamped, to sell the other. I 
had hitherto always opposed the sale of liquor to the Indians, 
and, during my chieftainship of the Crows, not one drop had 
ever been brought into the village ; but now I was restrained 
by no such moral obligation. I was a mere trader, hazarding 
my life among the savages to make money for my employers. 
The sale of liquor is one of the most profitable branches of a 
trader's business, and, since the appetite for the vile potion 
had already been created, my personal influence in the matter 
was very slight. I was no law-giver ; I was no longer in a 
position to prohibit the introduction of the white man's fire- 
water ; if I had refused to sell it to the Indians, plenty more 
traders would have furnished it to them ; and my conscientious 
scruples would benefit the Indians none, and would deprive 
my embarrassed employer of a very considerable source of 
profit. 

Running these things hurriedly over in my own mind, I 
took the proffered keg, and dealt it all out within two hours. 
Certainly the rate of profit was high enough ; if a man wants 
a good price for the sale of his soul to his satanic majesty, let 
him engage in the liquor business among the nations of the 
Rocky Mountains. Our liquor was a choice article. One 
pint of alcohol, costing, I suppose, six cents, was manufac- 
tured into five times the quantity of whisky, and this was 
retailed to our insatiate customers at the rate of one pint for 
each buffalo robe. If the robe was an extra fine one, I might 
possibly open my heart, " and give two pints. But I felt no 
particular inducement to liberality in my dealings, for I 



I 



358 AUTOBIOORAPHY OF 

thought the greatest kindness I could show my customers was 
to withhold the commodity entirely. 

Before I had got through with my keg I had a row with an 
Indian, which cost him his life on the spot. While I was 
busy in attending the tap, a tall Sioux warrior came into my . 
estabUshment, already the worse for liquor, which he hadfl 
obtained elsewhere. He made some formidable strides round ^ 
and near me, and then inquired for the Crow. I was pointed 
out to him, and, pot valiant, he swaggered up to me. 

" You are a Crow? " he exclaimed. 

"Yes." 

*' You are a great Crow brave ? " 

"Yes." 

" You have killed a host of Siouxs? " 

" No ; I have killed a host of Cheyennes, but I have 
killed fourteen Siouxs with my own hand." 

" Look at me," said he, with drunken gasconade ; " my arm 
is strong ; I am the greatest brave in the Sioux nation. Now 
come out, and I will kill you." ■ 

" No," I said, " I did not come here to be killed or to kill 
I came here to trade. I could kill you as easily as I could ^ 
kill a squaw, but you know that you have a host of warriors M 
here, while I am alone. They would kill me after I had killed 
you. But if I should come in sight of your village with 
twenty of my Crow warriors, you would all run and leave 
your lodges, women, and children. Go away ; I want nothing 
to do with you. Your tongue is strong, but you are no 
brave." 

I had told the Cheyennes but a few moments previously 
that I had been among all the nations in the country, and that 
it had ever been my invariable rule, when struck by a Eed 
Man, to kill him. I was determined to prove the truth of my 
declaration in this instance. I had my battle-axe hanging from 
my wrist, and I was ready at a moment's warning. The Sioux 
continued his abuse of me in his own tongue, which I paid no 
attention to, for I supposed that, like his white brethren, he 
might utter a great deal of provocation in his cups, and 
straightway repent it when he became sober. 

Finally, he became so importunate that I saw it was time 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH, 359 

to take an active part. I said, "You want to kill me, eh? 
I would fight with you, only I know I should be killed by the 
Siouxs afterward, and I should have you for my waiter in the 
spirit land. I would rather kill a good brave, if I kill 
any." 

This was a very opprobrious speech, for it is their faith that 
when an Indian is slain who has previously slain a foe, the 
first-killed warrior becomes waiter in the spirit land to the 
one who had laid him low. Indeed, it was more than he 
could endure. He jerked off the cloth that was fastened 
round his hips, and struck me in the face with it. I grasped 
my battle-axe, but the blow I aimed was arrested by a lodge 
pole, which impended over his head, and saved him from 
immediate death. The lodge pole was nearly severed with the 
blow. I raised my arm again, but it was restrained by the 
Cheyennes, who had been sitting round with their heads 
decUned during the Sioux's previous abuse. 

The Sioux chief, Bull Bear, was standing near, and was 
acquainted with the whole particulars of the difficulty. He 
advanced, and chopped his warrior down, and hacked him to 
pieces after he fell. 

' "Ugh! " grunted he, as coolly as possible, " you ought to 
have been killed long ago, you bad Indian ! " 

This demonstration on my part had a good effect. The 
Indians examined the cut inflicted by the edge of my axe on 
the lodge pole, and declared mine a strong arm. They saw I 
was in earnest, and would do what I had threatened, and, 
except in one single instance, I had no farther trouble. 

Influenced by my persuasions, two hundred lodges of the 
Cheyennes started for the Platte, Bent and myself accom- 
panying them. On our way thither we met one of my 
waggons, loaded with goods, on its way to the North Fork 
of the Platte. There was a forty-gallon cask of whisky among 
its contents, and, as the Indians insisted on having it opened, 
I brought it out of the waggon, and broached it. Bent begged 
me not to touch it, but to wait till we reached the fort. I was 
there for the purpose of making money, and when a chance 
offered, it was my duty to make the most of it. On that, he 
left me, and went to the fort. I commenced dealing it out, 



3G0 AVTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

and, before it was half gone, I had reaHzed sixteen horses and 
over two hundred robes. 

, While I was busy in my traffic, the Indians brought in four 
trappers whom they had chanced to pick up. The poor fellows 
appeared half frightened to death, not knowing what their fate 
would be. I addressed them in English. " How are you, 
boys ? Where are you bound ? " 

** These Indians must decide that," they replied. "Are 
they good Indians? " 

" Yes," I replied. " They will not harm you." 

They informed me that they were returning from the 
mountains with twelve packs of beaver, and, while encamped 
one night, the Crows had stolen their horses. They had cached 
their peltry, and now wanted to buy more horses to carry it to 
some fort. 

I made a bargain with them for their beaver, and, taking 
some horses, went with them myself to their late encampment, 
for I could not trust them alone for fear they would take their 
skins to some other post. We disinterred the peltry, and with 
it reached the fort without accident. The trappers stayed with 
us two or three weeks, and then, purchasing their outfit and 
horses, they again started for the mountains. 

We had a prosperous fall and winter trade, and accumulated 
more peltry than our waggons could transport, and we had to 
build boats to convey it to St. Louis. At the settlement of 
accounts, it was found that we had cleared sufficient to pay 
Mr. Sublet's debts, and enough over to buy a handsome stock 
of goods for the next season's trade. 

I spent the summer at the fort, while Sublet and Fitzpatrick 
went on with the peltry to St. Louis. I had but little to do, 
as the Indians had removed to their summer retreats, and I 
spent my time very agreeably with the few men remaining 
behind, in hunting buffalo for our own use. About the last of 
August our goods arrived, and we set ourselves to work again 
at business. I put up at the North Fork of the Platte, and 
had a busy fall and winter trade, making many very profitable 
bargains for the company. The Cheyennes thought me the 
best trader that ever visited them, and would not allow any 
other company to traffic with their villages. This sorely 



i 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 361 

vexed my rival traders, and once or twice I had my life 
attempted in consequence. When others came to ask per- 
mission to open a trading-post, the Cheyennes would say, 
" No ; we do all our trading with the Crow. He will not 
cheat us. His whisky is strong." 

When I found I had obtained the confidence of the nation, 
I told the Cheyennes that if they allowed other traders to 
come in, I should leave them, and they would be cheated by 
those who sold poor whisky, that would not make them merry 
half so soon as mine. This may be considered selfish ; but I 
knew that our company was keenly competed with by three 
or four rival companies, and that the same representations 
that I used to keep the trade in my hands were freely urged 
by others to attract it from me. There was also a farther 
inducement for the Cheyennes to do their business with me, 
which was founded upon their respect for me as a great brave, 
who had killed a number of their countrymen. Whether there 
was diplomatic finesse enough in their minds to reflect that, 
while I was harmlessly engaged with them, I could not be 
fighting in the bands of their enemies, and adding to my 
present number of scalps, I cannot pretend to say. 



CHAPTEE XXXI. 

Invitation to visit the Outlaws — Interview with " the Elk that Calls 
Profitable Trade with the Outlaws — Return to the Post — Great Alarm 
among the traders — Five Horses killed at the Fort — Flight from thdj 
Siouxs — Safe arrival at the Fort — Trade with the Arrap-a-hos- 
Attacked by a Cheyenne Warrior — Peace restored. 

WHILE in the midst of my occupations, a messenger wai 
despatched to me by the chief of a Cheyenne village, 
ihat time encamped about twenty miles distant, with an invi- 
tation to visit them and trade there. This village wa^^ 
composed of outlav^s from all the surrounding tribes, who 
were expelled from their various communities for sundry 
infractions of their rude criminal code ; they had acquired a 
hard name for their cruelties and excesses, and many white 
traders were known to have been killed among them. The 
chief's name was Mo-he-nes-to (the Elk that Calls), and he 
was a terror to all white people in that region. The village 
numbered three hundred lodges, and could bring from twelve 
to fifteen hundred warriors into the field — the best fighters of 
the nation. We called it the City of Refuge. 

The messenger arrived at my post, and inquired for the 
Crow. 

" I am the Crow," I answered. 

" The great chief, Mo-he-nes-to, wants the Crow to come to 
his lodge." 

" What does he want with me ? " 

" He wants to trade much." 

" What does he want to trade ? " 

" He wants much whisky, much beads, much scarlet, much 
kettles," and he enumerated a list of articles. 

" Have your people any rpbes by them ? " 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 363 

**Wugh! they have so much robes that they cannot move 
with them." 

"Any horses?" 

" Great many — good Crow horses." 

" Well," said I, " I will go straightway, and you must show 
me the way." 

'' Who will go to the village of the Elk that Calls ? " I asked; 
"** I want two men." 

Peterson and another volunteered to accompany me; but 
Tjy this time the matter in hand had reached Sublet's ears, 
«,nd he came forward and said, 

♦* You are not going to the village of the Outlaws, Beck- 
"wourth?" 

"Yes" I replied, "I am." 

" Don't you know that they kill whites there ? " 

•"Yes, I know that they have killed them." 

" Well, I object to your going." 

" Captain Sublet," I said, "I have promised the Indian that 
I will go, and go I must. There has been no trader there for 
a long time, and they are a rich prize." 

He saw that I was resolved, and, having given me the 
control of affairs, he withdrew his objection and said no more. 

I accordingly prepared for the journey. Ordering the h«rses, 
I packed up my goods, together with twenty gallons of whisky, 
and issued forth on the way to uncertain destruction, and 
bearing with me the means of destruction certain. 
' The Indian conducted me to the chief's lodge. I dismounted, 
my two men following my example. The chief came to us, 
and passed the usual compliments. He desired me to take 
off my packs, at which request I immediately remounted my 
horse. 

" What is the matter? " inquired the chief. 

" When I send for my friends to come and see me," I said, 
■** I never ask them to unpack their horses or to guard them, 
but I have it done for them." 

"You are right, my friend,"" said he; "it shall be done. 
Get off your horse, and come into my lodge." 

I dismounted again, and was about to follow him. My 
men, who did not understand our conversation, arrested my 



f ; 



364 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

path to inquire what was in the wind. I bade them keep 
quiet, as all was amicable, and then entered the lodge. We 
held a long conversation together, during which the chief 
made many inquiries of a similar nature to those addressed 
me at the first village. In recounting our achievements, I 
found that I had stolen his horses, and that he had made 
reprisals upon the Crows, so that we were about even in th«| 
horse trade. ^ 

At length he wished me to broach the whisky. " No," said 
I, "my friend, I will not open the whisky until you send for 
your women to come with their robes, and they have bought 
what goods they want first. They work hard, and dress all 
your robes ; they deserve to trade first. They wish to buj 
many fine things to wear, so that your warriors may love thei 
When they had traded all they wish, then I will open mj 
whisky, and the men can get drunk. But if the men get drui 
first, your women will be afraid of them, and they will tak^ 
all the robes, and the women will get nothing." 

"Your words are true, my friend," said the chief; " oi 
women shall trade before the men get drunk ; they dress 
our robes : it shall be according to your words." 

Accordingly, he sent for all the women who had robes an< 
wished to sell, to come and trade with the Crow. They were 
not long in obeying the summons. Forward they came, some 
with one robe and some with two. Two was the most that 
any of them had, as the men had reserved the most to pur- ^ 
chase whisky. The trading was expeditiously effected; wojl 
did not have to take down and open all our goods, and then ; 
sell a skein of thread, and be informed by our customer that 
she would look elsewhere first, and perhaps call again, which 
is the practice of many young ladies, especially where there is 
an attractive shopman. We could hardly hand out things fast 
enough. 

We served all the women to their entire satisfaction, and 
closed out our stock of dry-goods. We then proceeded to the 
whisky. Before opening the kegs, I laid down my rules to the 
chief. I told him that his people might spree as long as they 
chose, but that they must not obstruct my business, or interfere 
with me. As the liquor was served out to them, they must 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 365 

■carry it out of the lodge, and not stay to be in my way and 
give me trouble. This was readily assented to, and the sales 
began. 

Whisky will have the same effect everywhere, and if a man 
will traffic in the '' cursed stuff," he must submit to his share 
of the mischief he creates. My understanding with the chief 
was productive of no effect. He came into the lodge, saying, 
" I have killed an Indian ; " I looked, and saw that his battle- 
axe was dripping with blood. Yells and tumult increased out- 
side ; the chief was again making his way toward the lodge, 
protected by a host of friends, while behind him, and striving 
to get at him, was an infuriated throng, fighting and yelling like 
devils. My store in an instant was filled to overflowing with 
opposing parties, composed of outlaws from a dozen tribes. I 
sprang to secure my gun ; and my companions, mistaking my 
movement, supposed I had started to run, and they broke 
out at the back of the lodge, and did not stop until they 
reached our post on the Platte. 

Battle-axes and knives fairly rung through the lodge during 
the continuance of the fight ; but it was over in a few minutes, 
and they withdrew to the place outside, and renewed it to 
gi'eater advantage. At the restoration of peace, some ghastly 
wounds were shown to me, but, singular to say, none of the 
belligerents were killed. 

Mo-he-nes-to, after a short interval, returned, without 
having received a single scratch, and said all was quiet again, 
and they wanted more whisky. The women wished to get 
some also, he informed me. I knew that, if the women were 
going to join in, I must have another supply, and I told the 
chief I had not enough left to get the women drunk. 

" Send for more, then," said he. " Our women are buried 
up and smothered with robes, and will buy very much." 

I soon found a volunteer to run to the post to carry an order 

Sublet to send me twenty gallons more of whisky. 

My assistants, after making their hasty exit from the back 
of the chief's lodge, reported at the post the state of affairs at 
the village of the Outlaws at the time they left. Guns were 
being fired, they said, and, beyond all doubt, Beckwourth was 
killed. No one dared to go and ascertain the result. Sublet 



I 



866 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

was in great trouble. "I did my utmost to prevent his going,"" 
he consoled himself by saying, " but he went in opposition to 
all orders and advice ; so if he is killed, the responsibility does 
not rest upon me." | 

By-and-by my messenger arrived with the order for more^ I 
whisky. Sublet took the letter and read it. " Ho ! " said he, I 
" Jim is not dead yet. He has sent for more fire-water. Who- ' 
will take it to him ? " Four men volunteered for the errand, 
and arrived with it next day. The Indians took their horses 
away from them, and they became alarmed ; but when they 
shortly after saw me up to my neck in buffalo robes, their fear 
subsided. These two kegs went off as actively as the preceding,, 
and the robes fairly poured in. The whole village moved on 
toward the post, singing, dancing, and drinking, and when 
I had approached within five miles, I had to send for two kegte| 
more. ^| 

In short, the sixty gallons of fire-water reaUzed to the com- 
pany over eleven hundred robes and eighteen horses, worth h 
St. Louis six thousand dollars. 

This trading whisky for Indian property is one of the most" 
infernal practices ever entered into by man. Let the reader 
sit down and figure up the profits on a forty-gallon cask of 
alcohol, and he will be thunder-struck, or rather whisky 
struck. When disposed of, four gallons of water are added to 
each gallon of alcohol. In two hundred gallons there are six- 
teen hundred pints, for each one of which the trader gets a 
buffalo robe worth five dollars ! The Indian women toil many 
long weeks to dress these sixteen hundred robes. The white 
trader gets them all for worse than nothing, for the poor 
Indian mother hides herself and her children in the forests 
until the effect of the poison passes away from the husbands, 
fathers, and brothers, who love them when they have no- 
whisky, and abuse and kill them when they have. Six 
thousand dollars for sixty gallons of alcohol ! Is it a wonder 
that, with such profits in prospect, men get rich who are en- 
gaged in the fur trade ? or is it a miracle that the poor buffalo 
are becoming gradually exterminated, being killed with so little 
remorse that their very hides, among the Indians themselves,, 
are known by the appellation of a pint of whisky ! 



1 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 367 

The chief made me a gratuity of forty robes. On two sub- 
sequent visits I paid him on his invitation, he made me further 
presents, until he had presented me with one hundred and 
eighty-five robes without receiving any equivalent. The extent 
of his " royal munificence " seriously alarmed Sublet. It was 
just this same profuse spirit, he said, that had bred disputes 
with other traders, often resulting in their losing their lives. 
It is as well a savage custom as civilized, to expect a com- 
mensurate return for any favours bestowed, and an Indian is 
so punctilious in the observance of this etiquette, that he will 
part with his last horse and his last blanket rather than receive 
a favour without requital. 

Mo-he-nes-to, without intending it, was rather troublesome 
on this point. When he became sober after these drunken 
carousals, he would begin to reflect seriously on things. 
He would find his robes all gone ; his women's labour — for 
it would take months of toil in dressing and ornamenting these 
robes — thrown unprofitably away ; his people had nothing to 
show for their late pile of wealth, and their wants would 
remain unsupplied. They would have no guns or ammunition 
to fight the Crows, who were always well supplied, and their 
whole year's earnings were squandered. These reflections 
would naturally make him discontented and irritable, and he 
would betake himself to the post for reparation. 

" White man," he would say, ** I have given you my robes, 
which my warriors have spent months in hunting, and which 
my women have slaved a whole year in dressing ; and what do 
you give me in return ? I have nothing. You give me fire- 
water, which makes me and my people mad ; and it is gone, 
and we have nothing to hunt more buffalo with, and to fight 
our enemies." 

The generality of traders will endeavour to make it apparent 
to him that there was a fair exchange of commodities effected, 
and that he had the worth of his wares, and they can do no 
more for him. 

This angered him, and in his disappointment and vexation 
^e would raise the war-whoop, his warriors would rush to him, 
\e would harangue them for a moment, an assault would bs 

lade upon the trading-post, the goods would be seized, 



I 

I 



368 AUTOBIOGBAPEY OF 

and, in many instances, the trader would be massacred an 
scalped. 

I saw the necessary relation between all these events, an> 
knew that simple justice in exchanges would avoid all such 
catastrophes. I therefore told Sublet to feel no uneasiness, 
as I could arrange matters so as to afford general satisfaction 

*' Well," said he, "go your own way to destruction." 

A day or two after this. Sublet came to inform me tha 
Mo-he-nes-to was on his way to the fort. I looked out, and 
saw the chief and his wife both approaching on horseback. 
As he entered, I received him with great ceremony, taking him 
by the hand, and bidding him welcome to the fort. I had his 
horses well attended to, a sumptuous supper for himself and 
wife served up, and, while the meal was preparing, entertains 
him with liquors fit to make any toper's mouth water. Afte: 
supper he got gloriously fuddled, and went to bed, ignorant qj 
what was passing in the world around him. 

In the morning I inquired of him how he felt. 

" Wugh ! Much bad ! head ache strong ! " 

I then gave him another whisky punch, well-flavoured wT 
spices ; he and his lady drank deeply, and then partook of a i 
hearty breakfast. He then felt well again. I next led hiinl 
into the store, where we had a large assortment of every*" 
Indian novelty. I knew he had children, as well as how 
many ; so I selected a five-striped Hudson's Bay blanket for 
himself, another for his wife, and one for each of his children, 
besides an extra scarlet blanket for his eldest son, a young 
warrior. To his wife I also gave a two-gallon brass kettle, 
and beads enough to last her for a year or two. In fact, I 
selected more or less of every description of article that I 
thought would be useful to them, or that I thought an Indian 
eye could covet. These presents I ceremoniously laid upon 
the counter, until I had two or three large piles of quite ^M 
attractive-looking goods. ■ 

The chief and his wife had watched me laying all these goods 
before them. I then asked them if they saw anything more 
anywhere in the store that they thought they would like. 

Mo-he-nes-to opened his eyes wide with surprise. " What ! 
he exclaimed, '' are all those things for us? " 




JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 369 

"Yes," I said, "they are for you, your wife, and your 
children — something for you all. When I have a friend, I 
like to be liberal in my gifts to him. I never rob the Eed 
Men ; I never take all their robes and give them nothing but 
whisky. I give them something good for themselves, their 
wives, and their children. My heart is big ; I know what the 
Red Men want, and what their families want." 

"My friend, your heart is too big; you give me much more 
than I ever had before ; you will be very poor." 

"No," I said; " I have many things here, all mine. I am 
rich, and when I find a good friend, I make him rich like me." 
I then bade him look the store carefully through, to see if 
there was anything more that he would like. He looked, but 
saw nothing more that he needed. I then made the same 
request of his wife, whose satisfaction beamed all over her face, 
but she too was fully supplied. 

I then stepped into another room, and returned with a fine 
new gun, with a hundred rounds of ammunition, and a new, 
highly-finished, silver-mounted battle-axe. This was the 
comble de bienfaits. I thought he would not recover from the 
shock. He took the battle-axe in his hand, and examined 
it minutely, his face distorted with a broad grin all the while. 
" Hugh ! " said he ; " you give me too much. I gave you no 
robes, but you have proved that you are my friend." 

When they were ready to start, there was an extra horse 
for him, and a fine mare for his wife, ready waiting at the 
door. 

" There, my friend," said I, " is a good horse for you; he is 
swift to run the buffalo. Here is a fine mare for you," I said 
to his wife. " Indian women love to raise handsome colts. I 
give her to you, and you must not let the Crows steal her from 
you." 

She displayed every tooth in her head in token of her satis- 
faction, and she mounted to return home. The chief said as 
he left, " I am going on a war-party, and then to kill buffalo. 
I will come back again in a few moons. I will then come and 
see you, and I will kill you — I will crush you to death with 
^bes." And away they went, never better satisfied in their 
' JS. 

24 



370 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

Now is it to be supposed that the company lost anything 
by this liberality ? That chief, whose hands were stained with 
the blood of so many traders, would have defended my life till 
the last gasp. While I was m his country, no other trader 
could have bartered a plug of tobacco with him or his people. 
The company still derived great profits from his trade. Besides 
the immense returns derived from my transactions with the 
village, I cleared over five hundred dollars from my exchanges 
with the chief alone, after the full value of my munificei 
presents had been deducted. 

One day the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers were to have a dan( 
and count their coos. I called all the Crows who were in ty 
band, and asked them if the regulations would admit of m] 
joining in the dance. 

*' Certainly," said they ; " nothing will please them morej 
they will then believe that you have joined them." 

Accordingly, I painted myself, and put on a uniform, ii 
eluding a chief's coat, new from the shelves, and painted mj 
white leggings with stripes, denoting a great number of coos ; 
when ready, I walked toward them as great a man as any. 
On seeing me approach, there was a general inquiry, " Who is 
that? Where did he come from?" When the ceremonies 
commenced, I joined in, and danced as hard as any of them. 
The drum at length sounded, to announce the time to begin to 
count. 

I stepped forward first, and began. " Cheyennes, do you 
remember that you had a warrior killed at such a place, 
wearing such and such marks of distinction ? " 

*' Yes, we know it." 

*' I killed him ; he was a great brave." 

There was a tap on the drum, and one coo was counted. I 
proceeded until I had counted my five coos, which is the 
limited number between the dances. 

Next in turn the Bob-tailed Horse counted his five on the 
Crows, and to his various allusions I assented with the 
customary " I remember." 

This betrayed who I was, and they were delighted to see 
one of the Dog Soldiers of the Crows join their band. The 
Bob-tailed Horse made me a valuable present, and I returned 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH, 371 

to the fort with six splendid war-horses and thirty fine robes, 
presented to me at that dance, as my initiation gifts, or 
bounty-money, I suppose, for joining their army. I was then 
a Dog Soldier in the picked troop of the Cheyennes, compelled 
to defend the village against every enemy until I died, like 
Macbeth, with harness on my back. 

The Crows had been informed by sundry persons in the 
employ of the American Fur Company that I had joined their 
inveterate enemies. They were satisfied with my proceeding. 
"The Medicine Calf is a cunning chief," they said ; " he best 
knows how to act. He has joined the Cheyennes to learn all 
about their numbers, the routes of their villages, and so forth. 
When he has learned all that he wants, he will return to us, 
and then we can fight the Cheyennes to greater advantage." 

I was now in my second winter with Sublet in the Cheyenne 
and Sioux country. He had succeeded far beyond his ex- 
pectation, and he still continued to make money by thousands. 
We had curtailed the number of sub-posts, and thereby 
materially reduced his expenses ; indeed, they were now less 
than half what they were the preceding winter. 

Leaving Sublet's, I went down to the South Platte, distant 
one hundred and fifty miles, and indulged in a short rest, until 
I heard that the Cheyennes of the Arkansas — those that I first 
visited — were about to make their spring trade, and I went 
over to meet them, and bring them to our fort. I found 
them ; all appeared to be glad to see me, and they returned 
with me. In crossing the divide, or ridge between the two 
rivers, our spies in advance discovered a party of Pawnees, 
and a charge was immediately made upon them. We only 
killed three of the enemy. I counted a coo by capturing a 
rifle. The victim who abandoned it had been already killed. 
While we engaged the enemy the village went into camp, 
l^nd I proposed to my fellow- warriors to return to the village 
■pter the manner of the Crows, which was agreed to. There 
^ere several in the party, so we could easily raise a good 
idrow song, and the Cheyenne warriors could join in. We 
struck up merrily, and advanced toward the village. As soon 
as the women heard our voices, they ran out to see who were 
ming. There were several captive Crows among the Chey- 



i 



372 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

ennes, who, I supposed, had lived among them ever since 
had been sold to the whites. These recognized our stave, an 
exclaimed, ''Those are Crows coming; we know their song 
This brought out the whole village, who stood waiting o 
arrival, in surprise and wonderment. As we drew ne; 
however, they distinguished me in the party, and the myste 
was solved. " The Crow is with the Cheyennes." 

We performed all kinds of antics ; made a circuit round th 
village, going through evolutions and performances which th( 
Cheyennes had never before seen, but with which they we 
so highly pleased, that they adopted the dance into tb 
celebrations of their nation. That night the scalp-dance w 
performed, which I took part in, as great a man as any. 
sung the Crow song, to the especial admiration of the fa: 
sex. 

The next morning we resumed our journey to the fo 
which we reached after three days' travel. The village h 
brought a great number of robes, together with some beave 
and a great trade was opened with them. 

At this time I had a difficulty with a Cheyenne, the onl; 
one I ever had with any of the tribe. I was eating dinn^ 
one day, when a great brave came in and demanded whisk 
I repaired to the store with him to supply his want, when 
found he had no robe to pay for it, and was, besides, 
toxicated. I refused to give him the whisky, telling him hi 
must first go and bring a robe. This probably aggravat 
him, and he made a sudden cut at me with his sword, which 
I very fortunately dodged, and before he could raise hiJ 
weapon again I had him between my feet on the ground. I 
had left my battle-axe on my seat at the table, and I called 
out for some one to bring it to me, but no one came with it. 
I at length released him, and he went whooping away, to obtain 
his gun to shoot the Crow. I seized my own, and waited for 
him at the door, while all the inmates of the fort begged of ma 
not to shoot him. After some little delay, he appeared, gu:^ 
in hand ; but three Cheyenne warriors interfered to stop him, 
and he returned into his lodge. 

The day following he sent for Sublet and myself to go and 
dine with him, and we went accordingly. Sublet was ap- 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 373 

prehensive of mischief from my visit, and endeavoured to 
dissuade me from going ; but I foresaw no danger, and knew, 
farther, that it would be a cause of offence to the Indian to 
neglect his invitation. When we eatered his lodge he was 
glad to see us, and bade me be seated on a pile of robes. I 
sat down as desired, and our host, after holding a short 
conversation with Sublet, turned to me and spoke as follows : 

*' O- tun-nee " (Crow), " I was a fool yesterday. You spared 
my life. I do not want you to be angry with me, because I 
am not angry with you. I was drunk ; I had drunk too much 
of your whisky, and it made my heart black. I did not know 
what I was doing." 

"Very well," said I; *'I am not angry with you. When 
you attempted to kill me I was angry, and if my battle-axe 
had been in my hand, I should have killed you. You are 
alive, and I am glad of it." 

" Take those robes," he rejoined, '* and hereafter you shall 
be my brother, and I will be your brother. Those robes will 
make your heart right, and we will quarrel no more." 

I took the robes with me, ten in number, and found my 
heart perfectly mollified. 

Messrs. Sublet and Vasques, having realized immense 
profits during their three years of partnership, disposed of all 
their interest and effects in the Eocky Mountain fur business, 
and returned to St. Louis. This threw me entirely out of 
business, when Messrs. Bent and Saverine wished to engage 
me in their employ. After some little negotiation with them, 
I concluded a bargain, and entered into their service in the 
latter part of the summer of 1840. We immediately pro- 
ceeded to establish sub-posts in various directions, and I 
repaired to Laramie Fork. 

As soon as it was known among the Indians that the Crow 
was trading at Bent's post, they came flocking in with their 
robes. Old Smoke, the head chief of another band of 
Outlaws, known as Smoke's Band, but claimed by no 
particular nation or tribe, visited me, with his village, and 
commenced a great spree.. I gave them a grand entertain- 
ment, which seemed to tickle their tastes highly. They kept 
up their carousal until they had parted with two thousand 



374 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

robes, and had no more remaining. They then demanded 
whisky, and I refused it. "No trust," the motto we see 
inscribed on every low drinking-saloon in St. Louis, is equally 
our system in dealing with the Indians. They became in- 
furiated at my refusal, and clamoured and threatened if I 
persisted. I knew it was no use to give way, so I adhered to 
my resolution. Thereupon they commenced firing upon the 
store, and showered the bullets through every assailable point. 
The windows were shot entirely out, and the assailants swore 
vengeance against the Crow. According to their talk, I had 
my choice either to die or give them whisky to drink. I had 
but one man with me in the store. There had been several 
Canadians in the fort, but on the first alarm they ran to their 
houses, which were built around the fort, within the pickets, 
to obtain their guns ; but on the Indians informing them that 
they would not hurt them, that it was only the Crow that 
they were after, the Canadians stayed within doors, and 
abandoned me to my fate. 

I and my companion sat with our rifles ready cocked, well 
prepared to defend the entrance to the fort. We had plenty 
of guns at hand ready loaded, and there must a few have 
fallen before they passed the gate. At dusk I closed the door, 
but we lay upon our arms all night. The Indians kept up a 
great tumult and pother, but attempted nothing. 

Messrs. Bent and Saverine arrived in the morning, and 
wanted to be informed of the cause of the disturbance. I 
acquainted them, and they approved my conduct. They were 
astonished at my immense pile of robes, and applauded my 
fortitude. 

When the Outlaws became sobered, they expressed con- 
trition for what they had done, and charged their excesses 
upon John Barleycorn, which plea I admitted. At the same 
time, it appeared quite inconsistent that I, who was that 
celebrated gentleman's high-priest, should be set upon and 
almost murdered by his devotees. 

Nothing noteworthy occurred until the following January, 
when the Indians, being again on the spree, once more 
attempted my life. I fled to a post in the Arrap-a-ho country, 
in charge of Mr. Alex. Wharfield, now a colonel in the army ; 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 375 

lie resigned the post to me, and took my place at Bent's 
post. I had but little trouble with the Indians here. Cut 
Nose, an old brave, who, it seems, had been in the habit 
of obtaining his drams of Wharfield gratis, expected to be 
supplied by me on the same terms. I resisted this invasion, 
and seriously ruffled the feathers of the old chief thereby. 
He left at my refusal, and did not return again that day. 
During the ensuing night the Pawnees came, and stole both 
his horses and mine. The old man raised a party, went in 
pursuit, recaptured all the horses, took two scalps, and re- 
turned in high spirits. 

He visited the store, and informed me what he had 
done. 

"Well," said I, "that is because I gave you no whisky 
yesterday. If I had given you whisky, you would have 
drunk too much, and been sick this morning in consequence. 
Then you would not have been able to pursue the Pawnees, 
and you would have lost your horses." 

However, I gave him some whisky then in honour of his 
achievement. This, as I had expected, pleased the old fellow, 
and he restored me my horses, and charged me nothing for 
their recapture. 

As soon as the spring trade was over, I abandoned that post 
and returned to the Arkansas. Saverine desired me to go and 
see if I could open a trade with a village of Arrap-a-hos which 
he had heard was encamped at forty miles distance. I 
accordingly started in their direction, accompanied by two 
men. We journeyed on until we arrived within a short 
distance of the village, when we discovered on our road a 
band of three or four hundred travelling Indians. I saw they 
were Camanches, and I bade the two men to run for their 
hves, as I knew the Camanches would kill them. I directed 
them to the Arrap-a-ho village, and bade them shout their 
loudest when they came in sight of it. They left me, and 
ascended a shght eminence a little distance in advance, and 
then, shouting to the extent of their lungs, they put their 
horses down at the best speed. I rode up after them, and 
telegraphed Avith my blanket to the village to have them come 
quickly. They obeyed my motions, and fell in wit the 



376 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH, 

Camanches on their way to me. The two tribes proved to 
friends, and my companions were safe. 

On arriving at the village I found abundance of robes, an^ 
opened a very successful trade with the people. This finished 
I returned to the fort, and assisted the other employes i 
loading the waggons for their trip to St. Louis. 



1 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

First Trip to New Mexico — Eeturn to the Indians with Goods — Success 
in Trade — Enter into Business in St. Fernandez — Get Married — 
Eeturn to the Indians — The fortunate Speculation — Proceed to Cali- 
fornia with Goods. 

1HAD now accumulated a considerable sum of money, and 
thought I might as well put it to some use for my own 
profit, as risk my life in the service of others, while they 
derived the lion's share from my industry. It was now about 
three years since I had left St. Louis on my present excursion, 
and I began to weary of the monotony of my life. I was 
within five days' journey of New Mexico, and I determined 
xipon going to take a look at the northern portion of this 
unbounded territory. 

I had but one man with me, named Charles Towne, when I 
started upon my new exploration. On our road thither we 
passed near to a Utah village, and two or three of their 
warriors presented themselves before us to hold a parley, 
while the chief sat down on a log close by. They said, as we 
reined in our horses for a moment, ** You make our paths bad 
by coming into our country ; you will go back and tell the 
Cheyennes and Arrap-a-hos where we are ; they will then 
come and kill us, and steal our horses. Come here ! our chief 
wants to see you." 

This was spoken in tolerably good Spanish. 

" Come on," said I, addressing my companion ; "let us not 
be annoyed by these trifling Indians ; " and I urged my horse 
against the Indian spokesman, knocking him into the dirt. 
He arose, exclaiming, "Wugh! Shawnee!" We then rode 
on without further molestation, they evidently mistaking me 



I 



378 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

for a Shawnee. They had robbed several white men, and,, 
after beating them savagely, had liberated them. I had no- 
manner of fear of them, for I knew them to be great cowards ; 
with one hundred and fifty good Crow warriors I would have 
chased a thousand of them. 

We passed on into St. Fernandez, and found quite a number 
of American traders there, established in business, and sup- 
plying both mountaineers and Indians with goods. Here I 
encountered an old acquaintance, named Lee, with whom I 
entered into partnership. We purchased one hundred gallons- 
of alcohol, and a stock of fancy articles, to return to the 
Indian country, and trade for robes and other peltry. We 
visited the Cheyennes on the South Fork of the Platte. We 
passed Bent's fort on our way thither. He hailed us, and 
inquired where we were going. I informed him that we were 
on our way to the Cheyenne village. He begged me not to go^ 
as I valued my safety. It was only the day previous, he said, 
that he had traded with them, and bought eighteen horses- 
from their village. They came the next morning and took 
them forcibly back, and threatened him with their guns if he 
said a word about their proceedings. I replied to him that I 
anticipated no danger, and left him to pass on to their village. 

The Indians were delighted at my arrival. I had heard 
that the whooping-cough was very prevalent among the chil- 
dren, and, as we happened to have several bushels of corn,, 
and beans, and a large quantity of dried pumpkins, we could 
not have come at a more opportune moment. I told the 
Indians, in answer to their welcome, that I had come back to 
see them because I had heard their children were all sick. I 
called attention to my stock of vegetable esculents, as being best 
adapted for food for their children, and the best calculated to 
restore them to health. " Besides," I added, ''I have brought 
a little whisky along, to put good life into your hearts." 

They were then in their sobered feelings, which will return 
to them after their carousals, and which present so dangerous 
a time to the trader. Their horses were all away, their robes^ 
were gone, and they had nothing to show in return for them. 
Their children were sick and dying, their wives mourning and 
half distracted, and they could obtain nothing at the fort to 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 37^ 

alleviate their sufferings. I could understand the whole corol- 
lary of incidents. Like their intemperate white brethren^ 
who will occasionally review matters after a prolonged spree^ 
and who will see the effects of their dissipation in their deso- 
late homes, their heart-broken wives, and their ragged and 
starving children, what are their feelings at such a contempla- 
tion. Unquestionably hostility against the cause of this des- 
titution, whether they recognize it in themselves, the willing 
instruments, or the liquor that infatuated them, or the dealer 
that supplied it to them. The Indians seem to have one circle 
of reasoning, and invariably vent their spleen upon the trader. 
It was this reactionary feeling that had led the Indians to 
recover, by force of arms, the horses they had parted with, 
previously. I knew better how to manage them. 

I deposited my goods at Old Bark's lodge, who felt highly 
honoured with the trust. The villagers collected round, and 
a dispute arose among them whether the whisky should be 
broached or not. Porcupine Bear objected, and Bob-tailed 
Horse, his brother-in-law, strongly advocated my opening the 
kegs. This led to a warm altercation between the two war- 
riors, until the disputed question was to be decided by the 
arbitrament of battle. They both left the lodge to prepare 
for the combat, and returned in a few minutes fully armed 
and equipped. 

Porcupine Bear argued his cause in the following strain : — 
" Cheyennes, look at me, and listen well to my words. I am now 
about to fight my brother; I shall fight him, and shall kill him 
if I can. In doing this, I do not fight my brother, but I fight 
the greatest enemy of my people. 

"Once we were a great and powerful nation: our hearts 
were proud, and our arms were strong. But a few winters 
ago all other tribes feared us ; now the Pawnees dare to cross 
our hunting-grounds, and kill our buffalo. Once we could 
beat the Crows, and, unaided, destroyed their villages; now 
we call other villages to our assistance, and we cannot defend 
ourselves from the assaults of the enemy. How is this, 
Cheyennes? The Crows drink no whisky. The earnings o 
their hunters and toils of their women are bartered to the 
white man for weapons and ammunition. This keeps them 



I 



880 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

powerful and dreaded by their enemies. We kill buffalo by 
the thousand; our women's hands are sore with dressing ^ 
the robes ; and what do we part with them to the white trader ■ 
for? We pay them for the white man's fire-water, which 
turns our brains upside down, which makes our hearts black, 
and renders our arms weak. It takes away our warriors' skill, 
and makes them shoot wrong in battle. Our enemies, who 
drink no whisky, when they shoot, always kill their foe. We 
have no ammunition to encounter our foes, and we have be- 
come as dogs, which have nothing but their teeth. 

" Our prairies were once covered with horses as the trees 
are covered with leaves. Where are they now? Ask the 
Crows, who drink no whisky. When we are all drunk, they 
come and take them from before our eyes ; our legs are help- 
less, and we cannot follow them. We are only fearful to our 
women, who take up their children and conceal themselves 
among the rocks and in the forest, for we are wolves in our 
lodges ; we growl at them like bears when they are famishing. 
Our children are now sick, and our women are weak with 
watching. Let us not scare them away from our lodges, with 
their sick children in their arms. The Great Spirit will be 
offended at it. I had rather go to the great and happy hunt- 
ing-ground now than live and see the downfall of my nation. 
Our fires begin to burn dim, and will soon go out entirely. 
My people are becoming like the Pawnees : they buy the 
whisky of the trader, and, because he is weak and not able to M 
fight them, they go and steal from his lodge. I 

" I say, let us buy of the Crow what is useful and good, but 
his whisky we will not touch ; let him take that away with 
him. I have spoken all I have to say, and if my brother 
wishes to kill me for it, I am ready to die. I will go and sit 
with my fathers in the spirit land, where I shall soon point 
down to the last expiring fire of the Cheyennes, and when they 
inquire the cause of this decline of their people, I will tell 
them with a straight tongue that it was the fire-water of the 
trader that put it out." 

Old Bark then advanced between the two belligerents and 
thus spoke : " Cheyennes, I am your great chief ; you know 
me. My word this day shall be obeyed. The Crow has come 



I 




JAMES P. BECKWOUIi^M^^\\/^ 381 

among us again, and has brought us goo'd'mings that we need; 
he has also brought us a little whisky. He is poor, while we 
are yet strong, and we will buy all he has brought with him. 
This day we will drink ; it will make us merry, and feel good 
to one another. We will all drink this once, but we will not 
act like fools ; we will not quarrel and fight, and frighten 
our women and children. Now, warriors, give me your 
weapons." 

This fiat admitted no appeal ; it was law and gospel to his 
people; disobedience to his command subjected the offender to 
immediate death at the hands of the Dog Soldiers. The 
warriors delivered up their battle-axes, and the old chief 
handed them to me. " Crow," said he, *' take these weapons 
that I have taken from my two children. Keep them until we 
have drunk up your whisky, and let no one have them till I 
bid you. Now, Crow, we are ready." 

Slim Face and Gray Head, two Dog Soldiers, then harangued 
the village, and desired all who wished to trade to come and 
bring their robes and horses to Old Bark's lodge, and to re- 
member that they were trading with the honest Crow, and not 
with white men, and that what they paid him was his. 

They answered the summons in flocks, the women first, 
according to my estabhshed rule. My corn, beans, and pump- 
kins " exhaled like the dew," and I received in exchange their 
beautiful fancy robes. The women served, the men next came 
in for whisky. . I sold on credit to some. When one wanted 
thus to deal, he would tell me what kind of a horse or mule 
he had : I would appeal to Old Bark for confirmation of the 
statement ; if he verified it, I served the liquor. They all got 
drunk, Porcupine Bear, the temperance orator, with the rest ; 
but there was not a single fight ; all passed off harmoniously. 

I received over four hundred splendid robes, besides moc- 
casins and fancy articles. When I was ready to leave, thirty- 
eight horses and mules, a number corresponding to what I had 
marked, were brought forward. I packed up my peltry, and 
sent my partner on in advance with everything except the 
horse I rode, telling him I would overtake him shortly. 

I had reserved a five-gallon keg of whisky unknown to all, 
and when about to start I produced it and presented it to the 



S82 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

crowd. They were charmed, and insisted on making me a 
retm'n. They brought me over forty of their finest robes, such 
as the young squaws finish with immense labour to present to 
their lovers. Old Bark gave me a good mule to pack them, 
and another chief gave me a second. I then took my leave, 
promising to return by Leaf Fall. 

When I passed Bent at his post he was perfectly con- 
founded. He had seen one train pass belonging to me, and 
now I was conducting another, when, at the same time, he 
had supposed that there was not a robe in the village. 

'* Beckwourth," said he, "how you manage Indians as you 
•do beats my understanding." 

I told him that it was easily accounted for ; that the Indians 
knew that the whites cheated them, and knew that they could 
beheve what I said. Besides that, they naturally felt superior 
confidence in me on account of my supposed affinity of race. 
I had lived so much among them that I could enter into their 
feelings, and be in every respect one of themselves : this was 
an inducement which no acknowledged white trader could 
€ver hope to hold out. 

I rode on, and overtook my partner in advance. He had 
had an adventure. A party of Cheyennes, led by a chief 
named Three Crows, had met him, and rifled him of a three- 
gallon keg of whisky, which we had reserved for our own use 
on our way to St. Fernandez. The chief stopped him, and 
said, " I smell whisky, and we must have some." m 

My partner told him that he had none. w 

" Wugh ! my nose don't lie, but your tongue does. I smell ^ 
it strong, and if you do not hand it out, we shall unpack all 
your horses and find it." 

" Well," said the man, " I have a Httle but it belongs to 
the Crow, and he wants it himself." 

" Give it me," said the chief, " and tell him that Three 
Crows took it.'' 

There was no alternative, and he gave him the keg. They 
carried it along until they came to a creek, where they sat 
down and had a jollification. I passed them while they were 
in the midst of it, but did not see them, although they saw me. 
When I met the chief sometime subsequently, and charged 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 383 

liim with the larceny, he gave me ten robes and a good horse 
to compound the felony. 

We shot several buffalo on our way, enough to load all our 
iorses with meat and tallow. We exchanged our effects in 
Santa F^ for goods, and carried them to St. Fernandez, a 
distance of sixty miles. Here we established a store as our 
headquarters for the Indian trade, where I resided some time, 
living very fast and happily, according to the manner of the 
inhabitants. Among other doings, I got married to Senorita 
Xiouise Sandeville. 

In the fall I returned to the Indian country, taking my wife 
with me. We reached the Arkansas about the first of October, 
1842, where I erected a trading-post, and opened a successful 
business. In a very short time I was joined by from fifteen to 
twenty free trappers, with their families. We all united our 
labours, and constructed an adobe fort sixty yards square. By 
the following spring we had grown into quite a little settle- 
ment, and we gave it the name of Pueblo. Many of the 
company devoted themselves to agriculture, and raised very 
good crops the first season, such as wheat, corn, oats, potatoes, 
and abundance of almost all kinds of vegetables. 

When the spring trade was over, I sent all my peltry to 
Independence, and bought with the proceeds three thousand 
doUars worth of articles, suitable for the trade in New Mexico. 
IBut, on the arrival of the goods, the whole country was in a 
ferment on account of Colonel Cook's expedition from Texas, 
which resulted so disastrously for the parties concerned. 
This affected the minds of the New Mexicans unfavourably 
for my interest, inasmuch as their former preference for 
United States novelties was now turned into strong repug- 
nance for everything American. I therefore could obtain no 
sale for my goods, and determined to return to my Indian 
friends. I bought a load of whisky to trade for horses to 
pack my goods to California, where I intended removing. I 
succeeded in my adventure, and obtained forty horses and 
mules, upon which I packed my merchandize, and quickly 
found myself on the way to the " golden state." 

I started with fifteen men, three of whom were Mexicans. 
When I reached the Utah country, I found that the Indians 



384 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 



were waging exterminating war upon the Mexicans, but I did 
not learn it in time to save my three unhappy followers, who,, 
lagging too far in the rear, were set upon by the Indians and 
slain. In passing through their country I did considerable 
trading, exchanging my merchandize for elk, deer, and antelope 
skins, very beautifully dressed. 

I arrived in Pueblo de Angeles (California) in January, 1844. 
There I indulged my new passion for trade, and did a very 
profitable business for several months. At the breaking out 
of the revolution in 1845, I took an active part against the 
mother country, of which I will furnish some details in my 
next chapter. 



CHAPTEE XXXIII. 

The Californian Revolution — Rifle Corps — Position of the two Armies — 
Colonel Sutter — Cannonade — Flight of Sutter — His Return — Trial and 
subsequent Release. 

THE Upper Californians, on account of their great distance 
from the Mexican government, had long enjoyed the 
forms of an independent principahty, although recognizing 
themselves as a portion of the Mexican Republic. They had 
for years past had the election of their own officers, their 
governor inclusive, and enjoyed comparative immunity from 
taxes and other political vexations. Under this abandonment, 
the inhabitants lived prosperous and contented ; their hills and 
prairies were literally swarming with cattle ; immense numbers 
of these were slaughtered annually for their hides and tallow ; 
and, as they had no " Armies of Liberation " to support, and 
no costly government to maintain in extravagance, they 
passed their lives in a state of contentment, every man sitting 
under his own vine and his own fig-tree. 

Two years prior to my arrival all this had been changed. 
President Santa Anna had appointed one of his creatures, 
Torre j on, governor, with absolute and tyrannical power ; he 
arrived with an army of bandits to subject the defenceless 
inhabitants to every wrong that a debasing tyranny so readily 
indulges in. Heavy taxes were imposed for the support of the 
home government, and troops were quartered to the great 
annoyance and cost of the honest people. The lives of the 
inhabitants were continually in danger from the excesses of 
the worthless vagabonds who had been forced upon them; 
their property was rifled before their eyes, their daughters 
were ravished in their presence, or carried forcibly to the 

25 



386 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

filthy barracks. The people's patience became at length 
exhausted, and they determined to die rather than submit to 
such inflictions. But they were ignorant how to shake off 
the yoke ; they were unaccustomed to war, and knew nothing 
about political organizations. However, Providence finally 
raised up a man for the purpose. General Jose Castro, who 
had filled the office of commander under the former system, 
but who had been forced to retire into privacy at the inaugu- 
ration of the reign of ^'terror. He stepped boldly forth, and 
declared to the people his readiness to lead them to the war- 
fare that should deliver their country from the scourge that 
afflicted them ; he called upon them to second his exertions, 
and never desert his banner until California were purified of 
her present pollution. His patriotic appeal was responded to 
by all ranks. Hundreds flocked to his standard ; the young 
and the old left their ranches and their cattle-grounds, and 
rallied round their well-tried chief. 

There was at that time quite a number of Americans in the 
country, and, according to their interests and predilections, 
they ranged themselves upon opposing sides. Our present 
worthy and much respected citizen. General Sutter, was at 
that time, if I mistake not, a colonel in the forces of the 
central government, and at the outbreak of the revolution he 
drew his sword for Santa Anna, and entered into active service 
against the rebels in Pueblo de Angeles. 

There was an American, long resident in the country, 
named J. Eoland, who sought my co-operation in the popular 
cause. He said that every American who could use a rifle 
was a host against the invaders, and besought me to arm in 
defence, and to influence my men likewise to espouse the 
cause. I replied to his solicitations by promising him my 
active co-operation, and also that I would represent his argu- 
ments to the men living with me. Accordingly, I informed 
my people that I intended to shoulder my rifle in the defence of 
life and property, and they were unanimous in their resolution 
to accompany me. Hence there were thirteen riflemen instead 
of one. We shortly afterwards received an accession of sixty 
more good frontiersmen, and mustered ourselves for service. 
The company elected me captain, but I declined the office. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 387 

Mr. Bell finally assumed the command, with the promise of 
my unflinching support in extremities. Our company steadily 
increased in number until we had one hundred and sixty men, 
including native CaUfornians who joined us with rifles. 

General Castro's first movement was against Pueblo. He 
entered the place at the head of his forces, and took the fort, 
arsenal, with all the government arms, ammunition, and 
stores, with the slight loss of one ofi&cer wounded. This 
enabled the rebels to arm themselves, and he was shortly at 
the head of a small but well-appointed army. The general 
highly extolled the rifle battalion, and he looked upon it as a 
powerful support. 

Castro then took a detachment of rebel troops, and pro- 
ceeded northward to reconnoitre the enemy's positon, our 
main body also moving in the direction of the enemy as far a» 
Monterey, where were the governor's headquarters. On first 
hearing the intelligence of the outbreak, the governor had put 
his forces in motion, and issued orders to shoot the rebels 
wherever met, and destroy their property of whatever kind. 
General Castro, having proceeded as far as Santa Barbara, a 
distance of ninety- six miles, and having obtained full informa- 
tion concerning the movements of the governor, returned and 
joined the main body. During his expedition he captured five 
Americans in the Mexican service. He disarmed them,, 
telling them that he had no disposition to injure Americans, 
and that he would return their arms as soon as he had ex- 
pelled the enemies of the people. 

Our forces were concentrated in a large open prairie, the 
enemy being stationed at no great distance, likewise on th© 
prairie. I ascended, one morning, the summit of a mountain, 
which would afford me a fair view of the enemy's camp, just 
to discover their numbers and strength of position. On my 
road I encountered two Americans, who were serving in the 
capacity of spies to the enemy. I accosted them, and ex- 
pressed surprise at seeing them in the service of such an old 
rascal as Torrejon, and recommended them to join the popular 
cause ; but they seemed to have an eye to the promised booty 
of the rebels, and my arguments could not influence them. I 
despatched one of them with a letter to Gant, an American 



?88 AUTOBIOGBAPEY OF 

who held the commigsion of captain in the governor's army, 
offering him, as we did not wish to fight against our American 
brethren, to withdraw all the Americans from the rebel ranks, 
if he would do the same on the side of the governor, and 
leave the Mexicans and Californians, who were most 
interested in the issue, to measure their strength. Some 
Germans who were with us also made the same proposal to 
Colonel Sutter. Our messenger conveyed the despatches, and 
delivered the German's letter to Colonel Sutter, who read 
both that and our letter to Captain Gant. He returned for 
answer that, unless the Americans withdrew from the insur- 
gent army immediately, he would shoot us every one by 
ten o'clock the next morning. This embittered us the more 
against the barbarity of the opposing power, and we resolved 
to make their leaders, not excepting Sutter, feel the effects of 
our rifles as soon as they placed themselves within range. 

On the following morning a weak and ineffective cannonade 
commenced on both sides. We lay low, awaiting the enemy's 
charge. As their riflemen had not showed themselves, and 
we were desirous to obtain a sight of them, myself, with seven 
or eight others, advanced cautiously in search of them. On 
our way we discovered a small cannon which the enemy had 
loaded and was about to discharge upon our ranks. Had 
there been a gunner among them, it must have done us great 
injury. We advanced within a few yards of the piece, and had 
raised ourselves up to shoot the artillerymen, when one of our 
party arrested our aim by suddenly exclaiming, " Don't shoot I 
don't shoot ! " He then pointed out the enemy's riflemen 
carefully emerging from a hollow, with the intention of 
stealing on our flank and saluting us with a volley of lead. I 
laid down my rifle, and hailed them to halt. I recognized a 
number of mountaineers among them, with some of whom I 
had intimate acquaintance, and I urged them to adopt the 
cause of the people, for the side they had now espoused was 
one no American should be seen to defend. They heard me 
through, and all, or nearly all the Americans were persuaded 
by my arguments, and returned with me to join our battalion. 
This assured us of victory. The cannonade was perfectly 
harmless ; some of the balls passed three hundred feet over our 



JAMES P. BECRWOUBTH. 389 

heads ; others ploughed up the prairie as near to their ranks as 
ours. All the damage we received was one waggon shivered 
to pieces, and a horse killed under Colonel Price, which 
animal had been captured by us at Pueblo, and was now 
serving in the rebel forces with the same rank as he had held 
under government. 

The desertion of the riflemen seriously affected the enemy's 
prospects of victory. Ten o'clock had passed, and Colonel 
Sutter had not put his threat into execution. The enemy 
finally retired from the field, and marched in the direction of 
Pueblo. I took a party, and ascended a mountain to watch 
the progress of the retiring foe ; we stayed out some hours, 
with the view to learn where they encamped. While thus 
employed, a courier, sent from our commander, brought us 
orders to return immediately. We instantly obeyed, and 
found the army gone, with only one man remaining to direct 
our steps. On coming up with our forces, we found that our 
colonel had made a movement which cut off all retreat from 
the enemy, and which must bring him to an engagement, or 
an unconditional surrender. In the morning, I again took a 
party with me, and mounted an eminence to reconnoitre the 
enemy's position. We approached to within five hundred 
yards of their camp, where we shot a bullock, which we 
quietly proceeded to dress. While we were thus engaged, I 
perceived an officer approaching from the enemy's camp to 
ascertain who we were. I took my rifle, and dodged among 
the bushes, eager to get a shot at him ; but, before I could do 
so, one of my men prematurely fired, and missed his mark. 
The officer had dismounted in order to get a nearer view of us, 
and this admonitory shot warned him back into camp. My- 
self and another advanced to within fifty rods of it, and 
boldly seized the officer's horse, and they did not fire a shot at 
us. We saw their camp was hemmed in on all sides. Our 
artillery was placed in battery, matches lighted, and men 
in position — all was ready for action. The enemy, perceiving 
their desperate condition, sent a flag of truce for a negotiation. 
Articles of capitulation were eventually drawn up and signed, 
to the effect that the governor and his forces should immedi- 
ately lay down their arms, and leave for Acapulco as soon as 



390 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



their embarkation could be accomplished. Accordingly, they 
laid down their arms, and marched under escort to the 
Embaradara, distant twenty miles from Pueblo. The 
governor was not permitted to return to Monterey, but his 
lady was sent for to the Embaradara, where she rejoined her 
husband and they quit the country together. 

Colonel Sutter, on the day of embarkation, left his detach- 
ment of naked Indians with the army, and proceeded, as we 
supposed, to his fort on the Sacramento ; but he returned the 
next day. and gave himself up to us. His force of Indians 
were very well drilled, but would have been far better 
employed in raising cabbages on his farm than in facing rebel 
riflemen on the battle-field. A trial was held upon the colonel, 
which resulted in his full acquittal, with the restoration of all 
his property that had fallen into our hands, such as cannon 
and other military effects, by the government forces. The 
Americans, in jest probably, seemed verj^ desirous to have the 
prisoner shot, which produced great alarm in his mind, and 
recalled to his recollection his recent threat to shoot all the 
Americans in our army. 

Our countrymen were almost carried on the shoulders of the 
Californians, in gratitude for their participation in the revolu- 
tion ; for, although the victory had been a bloodless one, they 
attributed their easily-won success to the dread inspired by 
the name of their American confederates. 

After seeing the departure of the government troops, the 
rebel party returned to Pueblo, where they elected Colonel 
Pico governor ; Colonel, now General Castro, commander of 
the forces ; and filled other less important offices. Fandangoes, 
which were continued for a week, celebrated our success ; and 
these festivities over, the insurgents returned to their various 
homes and occupations. 

Some few weeks after, a small proportion of the inhabitants 
sought to displace our newly-elected chief magistrate, and 
appoint some other in his place. I was sent for during the 
night to guard the governor's palace with my corps of rifles, 
and we succeeded in capturing the leading conspirators, who 
were tried and sent to Acapulco in irons. I had a quarrel 
with the alcalde shortly after this service, and he put me in 



JAMES P .BECKWOUBTH. 391 

irons for cursing him. As soon as the governor heard of my 
misfortune, he had me immediately discharged from confine- 
ment. 

I now resumed my business, and despatched my partner, 
Mr. Waters, after a fresh supply of goods ; but, before he had 
time to return, fresh political commotions supervened. There 
still seemed to exist in the minds of the majority a strong 
hankering for the domination of Mexico, notw^ithstanding they 
had so recently sided with the Eevolutionists in shaking off 
the yoke of the national government. Among other causes 
of excitement, too, the American adventurers resident there 
had raised the " Bear Flag," and proclaimed their intention of 
establishing an independent government of their own. This 
caused us to be closely watched by the authorities, and matters 
seemed to be growing too warm to be pleasant. 

In the midst of this gathering ferment, news reached us from 
Mazatlan of the declaration of war between the United States 
and Mexico, and I deemed it was fully time to leave. Colonel 
Fremont w^as at that juncture approaching from Oregon with a 
force, if combined with the Americans resident there, sufficient 
to conquer the whole country, and I would have liked ex- 
ceedingly to join his forces, but to have proceeded toward him 
would have subjected me to mistrust, and consequent capture 
and imprisonment. If I looked south the same difficulties 
menaced me, and the west conducted me to the Pacific 
Ocean. 

I had but little time to deliberate. My people was at war 
with the country I was living in ; I had become security to the 
authorities for the good behaviour of several of my fellow- 
countrymen, and I was under recognizances for my own 
conduct. The least misadventure would compromise me, and 
I was impatient to get away. My only retreat was eastward ; 
so, considering all things fair in time of war, I, together with five 
trusty Americans, collected eighteen hundred stray horses we 
found roaming on the Californian ranchos, and started with our 
utmost speed from Pueblo de Angeles. This was a fair capture, 
and our morals justified it, for it was war-time. We knew we 
should be pursued, and we lost no time in making our way 
toward home. We kept our herd jogging for five days and 



392 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

nights, only resting once a day to eat, and afford the animals time 
to crop a mouthful of grass. We killed a fat colt occasionally, 
which supplied us with meat, and very delicious meat too — 
rather costly, but the cheapest and handiest we could obtain. 
After five days' chase our pursuers relaxed their speed, and we 
ourselves drove more leisurely. "We again found the advantage 
that I have often spoken of before of having a drove of horses 
before us, for, as the animals we bestrode gave out, we could 
shift to a fresh one, while our pursuers were confined to one 
steed. 

When we arrived at my fort on the Arkansas, we had over 
one thousand head of horses, all in good condition. There was 
a general rejoicing among the little community at my safe 
arrival, the Indians also coming in to bid me welcome. I 
found my wife married again, having been deceived by a false 
communication. Her present husband had brought her a 
missive, purporting to be of my inditing, wherein I expressed 
indifference towards her person, disinchnation to return home, 
and tendering her a discharge from all connubial obligation. 
She accepted the document as authentic, and solaced her 
abandonment by espousing her husband's messenger. My 
return acquainted her with the truth of the matter. She 
manifested extreme regret at having suffered herself to be im- 
posed upon so readily, and, as a remedy for the evil, offered 
herself back again ; but I declined, preferring to enjoy once 
more the sweets of single blessedness. 

I left the fort on a visit to San Fernandez. I found business 
very dull there on account of the war, and great apprehensions 
were felt by my friends in regard to the result. Perceiving 
that was no very desirable place to remove to, I returned to 
my community. 

General Kearney was just then on his march to Santa F6. I 
took a drove of my horses, and proceeded down the Arkansas 
to meet him on his route ; for it was probable there might be 
an opportunity of effecting some advantageous exchanges. The 
general came up, and found me in waiting with my stock ; we 
had been acquainted for several years, and he gave me a very 
cordial reception. 

"Beckwourth," said the general "you have a splendid lot 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 393 

of horses, really ; they must have cost you a great sum of 
money." 

"No, general," I replied, "but they cost me a great many 
miles of hard riding." 

" How so ? " he required. 

" Why, I was in California at the time the war broke out, 
and, not having men enough at my command to take part in 
the fighting, I thought I could assist my country a little by start- 
ing off a small drove of the enemy's horses, in order to prevent 
their being used against us." 

" Ah, Beckwourth, you are truly a wonderful man to possess 
so much forethought," and he laughed heartily. " However," 
added he, " trade them off as quickly as possible, for I want 
you to accompany me. You like war, and I have good use for 
you now." 

I informed him that I was ready for service ; and, accordingly 
I sent all my remaining horses back to my plantation, and went 
on with the general to Santa Fe, which place submitted without 
firing a shot. The general sent me immediately back to Fort 
Lieaven worth with despatches. This was my service during the 
war. The occupation was a tolerably good one, and I never 
failed in getting my despatches through. I enjoyed facilities 
superior to almost any other man, as I was known to almost all 
the Indians through whose country I passed. 

My partner and I had purchased a hotel in Santa Fe, and we 
transacted a very profitable business there. My associate 
attended to the business of the hotel, while I carried despatches, 
and Santa Fe was generally my starting-place. Many messen- 
gers lost their lives on the route, as at times there were des- 
i patches to be sent, and I would not be at headquarters to carry 
them. The distance from Santa Fe to Fort Leavenworth is 
nine hundred and thirteen miles. I have frequently made the 
trip in from twenty to twenty-five days ; my shortest trip I 
accomphshed in eighteen. I well knew that my life was at 
stake every trip that I made, but I liked the employment ; 
there was continual excitement in it, indeed sometimes more 
than I actually cared about, more particularly when I fell in 
with the Pawnees. The service furnished an escort of fifteen 
or twenty -five men, but I always declined the company of 



394 AUTOBIOQBAPHY OF 

troops, as I considered myself safer without them. If I ha(J 
taken troops with me, it would have led to incessant fights- 
with the Indians ; and if they had seen me with white soldiers^ 
they would have been very apt to kill me the first opportunity. 
Another thing: I did not think the United States regular- 
troops good for anything against the Indians, for I knew that 
the Camanches would stand and fight them almost man for 
man. 

I chanced to fall in with Kit Carson one day, as I was about 
to start from New Mexico to Fort Leavenworth, and he pro- 
posed going with me, as he wished to learn my route. I was. 
very much pleased with his proposal, as I thought that with 
Kit and his men I should go through strong- handed. I told 
him that I should rest at Taos one day to get my horses shod^ 
and that he could easily come up with me there, or on the road 
thither. I left with two men, and stayed at Taos as appointed,, 
but he failed to rejoin us. I rode on as far as my ranch ; still 
he did not appear. I built a large fire before proceeding into* 
the Indian country, thinking to attract him by the smoke, and 
thus bring him on to our trail, but I saw no more of him, and 
it was supposed that he was lost until he eventually turned up 
in the City of Washington. We both had a narrow escape- 
from Indians on that trip. I had, contrary to my usual practice, 
encamped one night in the prairie, and was to start in the^j 
morning, when we heard buffalo running close to our camp. 
On looking out, I saw a great number chased by the Pawnees,.] 
although the Indians were not yet in sight. We made aU. 
possible haste to the timber, threw our horses on their sides,, 
gagged them and fastened them to the ground, and then secreted, 
ourselves in the willows. The Indians flocked round, busied 
in their pursuit, and some of the buffaloes they dressed within 
gunshot of our secret camp. I thought that day the longest I 
had lived through, and I expect the poor animals thought so- 
too, for they lay in one position the whole time, without food 
or water, and without being permitted to whisper a complaint. 
At night we made good our escape, and arrived at the fort, 
without further difficulty. 

When I was ready to return to Santa Fe, I could find no 
one willing to accompany me. The weather was intensely cold,, 



JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 395 

and no inducement that I could offer was sufficient to tempt 
men to leave their comfortable fires, and encounter the perila 
of the Indians and Jack Frost in the prairies. Many men had 
been frozen to death on the route, and a general shudder ran 
through the company when I proposed the journey to them. I 
could have been furnished with soldiers in plenty, but I was 
unwilling to take them, as it imposed so much trouble on the 
road to stay to bury every man that perished with the hard- 
ships of the journey. Important despatches had arrived from 
Washington which must go through, and I looked fruitlessly 
round for a man hardy enough to go with me. At length a boy 
— a Kentuckian — volunteered. He had followed the army to- 
the fort, and had lived about the barracks until he had become 
well accustomed to the privations of a camp life. He was an 
intelligent lad, but, unfortunately, had a malformation of one 
of his feet, which seriously impeded his walking. However, I 
liked his "pluck" in proposing, and eventually consented to 
take him. I went with him to the sutler's store, and pro- 
cured him the warmest clothing I could, and then bade him 
repair to my boarding-house, and stay there until I was ready 
to start. 

When I was prepared for departure, I furnished him with a. 
good horse, and, taking an extra one between us, we started on 
the long journey. I gave him particular directions that if he 
should become very cold he was to acquaint me, and I would 
stay and build up a fire to warm him by wherever there was 
any wood ; but the proposition he declined. 

Three days after we reached the Arkansas, and encamped. 
Isaac was busied in preparing supper, while I walked to an 
eminence close by in order to survey the country. I perceived 
an immense number of Indians approaching directly toward us > 
and at not more than three or four hundred yards distance. I 
shouted to Isaac to catch the horses quickly and tether them^ 
and I hastened back to the camp. He inquired what the 
matter was, and I told him there were a thousand Indians 
coming after us. 

The approaching individuals belonged to the Camanche tribe,, 
and numbered over a thousand warriors. They were in full 
speed. They dashed through the Arkansas with such precipita- 



396 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

tion that I thought they would throw all the water out of the 
channel and hurl it on to the bank. I ran in front of the 
advance, and challenged them to stop. They halted for a 
moment, and asked me who I was. I told them the Crow, 
Thereupon they grabbed me up like a chicken, and carried me 
into our little camp. They had nine white men's scalps, which, 
to appearance, were hardly yet cold, and they said they must 
kill my white boy, and his scalp would just make ten. I told 
them the boy was my nephew, and that they must not kill him 
— that great braves never killed boys. They then conversed 
among themselves a minute or two, and finally said, " He, 
being your nephew, may live. Tell him to make us some good 
black soup." 

- I foresaw that my coffee and sugar must suffer, for by black 
soup they meant coffee. I directed Isaac to set about making 
it, but to secrete a little for ourselves if he could do so un- 
perceived. The Camanches have a great fondness for coffee, 
and I never fell in with them without having to part with all I 
had, and I sometimes imagined they preferred my coffee and 
sugar to my scalp. 

The same day, just before dusk, while jogging steadily along, 
the boy discovered a small party of Pawnees. I hastily dis- 
mounted, and tied the heads of our three horses together, to 
prevent them running, and directed the boy to see that they 
did not move. I then took his gun and my own, and went 
away from the horses. As T was leaving, the boy inquired if 
he should fire too. I told him no, not unless I was killed, and 
then to defend himself as he best could. I took a secure position 
and fired. An Indian fell. I fired again, and killed a second. 
They cracked away at me, but did no harm. I reloaded, and 
fired again, until I had levelled five of them, they retreating a^ j 
every discharge. "When the fifth warrior fell, the whole parfll 
fell back to cry. I knew that, after they had cried for a few • 
minutes, they would make a rush for revenge. Therefore I 
shouted to the boy to cut the animals loose, and mount in haste. 
He did so ; I sprung on my horse instantly, and we flew away, 
leaving the mourners to their lamentations. At every foe I 
shot the boy would ejaculate, " Whoop ! you fetched him ; he's 
got his gruel," and other sayings, thereby displaying more 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 397 

bravery than many men would have shov^n under similar cir- 
cumstances. Ever afterward he considered that we were a 
match for any number of Pawnees ; and as for the Camanches, 
I could beat them off with " black soup." 

We travelled on for several miles, and then encamped. In 
the morning I started along a ravine for our horses, which had 
strayed away. I returned toward the camp, where I found 
that they had taken themselves up another small ravine, and 
that I had passed them. While thus pursuing the stray animals, 
the boy came to acquaint me that he had seen a great number 
of Indians. I led the horses to the camp, and then mounted a 
little rise of ground, from whence I descried a large village. I 
did not know what tribe they belonged to, though I knew they 
were not Pawnees, for that tribe never visited this country 
except on war excursions. I took the boy, and walked with 
him up to the village, but their faces were all strange to me ; 
nor did I like their appearance and movements. On per- 
ceiving one at a httle distance wrapped in his robe, I thought 
he might possibly be a chief, and I approached him. He 
addressed me in Crow, "Ah! my friend, what "brought you 
here? " 

I replied that, as I was passing through, I had thought it 
well to call on him. 

"I am glad to see you," said he ; " enter my lodge ; my 
warriors are bad to-day." 

The Indians were Apaches, and the chief was named Black 
Shield, an old and intimate acquaintance. 

He insisted on my spending the night in the village, which I 
consented to. He was perfectly rabid toward the whites, and 
stated his intention to manure the prairie with their bodies the 
forthcoming season — he would not leave one in the country. I 
applauded his intention, telling him the whites were unable to 
fight. Seeing that I was on his side — that is, if my words 
made me so — he continued, **I have plenty of warriors, and 
plenty of guns and balls, but I am a little short of powder. 
When will you return ? " 

I informed him as nearly as I could calculate, but I added 

I that my return was uncertain. 
[ " Will you bring me some powder ? " he inquired. 



S98 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECEWOUETH. 

" I will," I said ; *' but I shall return by way of the Eagle's 
Nest Hill." 

** That's the very place I am going to from here," he rejoined ; 
*' and, if I am not there myself, some of my warriors will be, 
and they can take it of you.'' 

This afforded me no put-off, and I accordingly promised to 
iurnish him with the powder. If the reader will indulge me in 
a witticism, I beg to assure him that I carried the powder to 
the old chief in a horn ! In the morning he furnished me with 
meat enough to subsist us for a week, together with new 
moccasins, and sundry other articles. We then bade him adieu, 
and proceeded on our journey, arriving at Santa Fe without 
any farther noteworthy adventure. 

On reaching my destination, I informed some of my friends 
of my promise to the Black Shield, and where they could 
find him to deliver the powder, to enable him to carry out 
his commendable resolution. A party started to meet him at 
the appointed spot ; but in dehvering the powder they managed 
to explode it, and he and his warriors only received the 
bullets, of which they already had plenty. 



CHAPTEK XXXIV. 

Affairs at Santa Fe — Insurrection at Taos — Discovery of the Plot — 
Battle at the Canon — Battles at Lambida, at Pueblo, and at Taos 
— A Mexican Woman redeemed from the Indians — Eeturn to Santa 
Fe. 

ON my arrival at Santa Fe I found affairs in a very dis- 
turbed state. Colonel Doniphan had just gained the 
l^attle of Brasito, and was carrying all before him in that 
•section of the country. He had forwarded orders to Santa Fe 
for a field battery, in order to make a demonstration against 
Chihuahua. Major Clarke was intrusted with the duty of 
•conveying the artillery to the colonel. Scarcely had he 
departed when we received intelligence of an insurrection in 
Taos. The information was first communicated by an Indian 
from a village between Santa Fe and Taos, who reported to 
General Price that the Mexicans had massacred all the white 
inhabitants of that place, and that a similar massacre was 
■contemplated in Santa Fe, of which report full information 
could be obtained by the arrest of a Mexican who was then 
conveying a letter from the priest in Taos to the priest in 
Santa Fe. A watch was immediately set upon the priest's 
house, and a Mexican was seen to enter. The guard ap- 
proached the door to arrest the man as he issued, but he, being 
apprised of the action of the authorities, left the house by 
«,nother door, and escaped. 

At night their came a violent rapping at my gate, and on 
;going to open it I perceived my friend, Charles Towne, who, 
on being admitted, clasped me round the neck, and gave vent 
to uncontrolled emotion. Perceiving that something alarming 
liad occurred, I invited him into the house, spread refresh- 



400 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

ments before him and allowed him time to recover himselL 
He then informed me that he had escaped almost by a miracle 
from Taos, where all the American residents had been killed. 
He was a resident there, having married a girl of New Mexico,, 
and his wife's father had apprised him that he had better effect 
his escape, if possible, for if he was caught he would be inevit- 
ably massacred. His father-in-law provided him with a good 
horse, and he retreated into the woods, where, after con- 
siderable risk and anxiety, he providentially eluded the 
assassins. 

On receiving this alarming information, I lost no time in re- 
pairing to the headquarters of General Price, accompanied by 
my informant, who related the above particulars. General 
Price immediately adopted the most effective measures. He 
assembled his officers, and instructed them to set a close watch 
upon the house of every Mexican in the city, and to suffer no 
person to pass in or out ; he also ordered that every American- 
should hold himself in readiness for service during the night. 
Before morning several of the most influential Mexican citizens 
were placed under arrest. In searching them, important con- 
spiracies were brought to light. Correspondence, implicating- 
the most considerable residents, was read, and a plot wa 
detected of subjecting Santa Fe to the same St. Bartholome 
massacre as had just been visited upon Taos. The city wi 
placed under martial law, and every American that couI< 
shoulder a musket was called into immediate service. All th 
ox-drivers, mule-drivers, merchants, clerks, and commissariat' 
men were formed into rank and file, and placed in a conditio 
for holding the city. Then, placing himself at the head of hi 
army, four hundred strong, General Price marched towa 
Taos. On arriving at Canjarra, a small town about twent; 
miles from Santa Fe, we found the enemy, numbering tw^ 
thousand Mexicans and Indians, were prepared to give iv 
battle. The enemy's lines were first perceived by our advanced- 
guard, which instantly fell back upon the main body. Our 
line was formed, and an advance made upon the enemy, 
the mountaineer company, under Captain Saverine, being 
placed in charge of the baggage. As soon as battle was 
begun, however, we left the baggage and ammunition wag- 



JAMES P. BECKWOUETH. 401 

gons to take care of themselves, and made a descent upon 
the foe. He fled precipitately before the charge of our lines, 
and we encamped upon the field of battle. The next day we 
advanced to Lamboda, where the enemy made another stand, 
and again fled on our approach. We marched on until we 
arrived at Taos, and the barbarities we witnessed there ex- 
ceeded in brutality all my previous experience with the 
Indians. Bodies of our murdered fellow-countrymen were 
lying about the streets, mutilated and disfigured in every pos- 
sible way, and the hogs and dogs were making a repast upon 
the remains. Among the dead we recognized that of Governor 
Bent, who had been recently appointed by General Kearney. 
One poor victim we saw, who had been stripped naked, scalped 
alive, and his eyes punched out : he was groping his way 
throught the streets, beseeching some one to shoot him out 
of his misery, while his inhuman Mexican tormentors were 
deriving the greatest amusement from the exhibition. Such 
scenes of unexampled barbarity filled our soldiers' breasts with 
abhorrence : they became tiger-like in their craving for revenge. 
Our general directed the desecrated remains to be gathered 
together, and a guard to be placed over them, while he 
marched on with his army in pursuit of the barbarians. 

Late in the afternoon we arrived at Pueblo, where we found 
the enemy well posted, having an adobe fort in their front. 
No attack was attempted that evening, and strict orders were 
issued for no man to venture out of camp. 

In the evening I was visited by a man, who informed me 
that he had a brother at Eio Mondo, twelve miles distant, 
whom, if he was not already killed, he wished to save from 
massacre. I determined to rescue him, if possible, and, hav- 
ing induced seven other good and trusty mountaineers to aid 
me in the attempt, we left the camp unperceived, and pro- 
ceeded to the place indicated. On our arrival we found two 
or three hundred Mexicans, all well armed ; we rode boldly 
past them, and they dispersed, many of them going to their 
homes. We reached the door of the Mexican general Montaja, 
who styled himself the *' Santa Anna of the North," and cap- 
tured him. We then liberated the prisoner we were in quest 
of, and returned to Taos with our captive general. At Taos 



402 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

we found our forces, which had retired upon that place from 
Pueblo, after having made an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge 
the enemy. We informed our general of our important cap- 
ture, and he affected great displeasure at our disobedience of 
orders, although it was easy to see that, in his eyes, the end 
had justified the means. The following morning a gallows was 
erected, and Montaja was swung in the wind. The correspon- 
dence that had been seized in Santa Fe had implicated him in 
some of the blackest plots, and we thought that this summary- 
disposal of his generalship would reheve us from all further 
danger from his machinations. 

Having procured artillery to bombard the enemy's position, 
our commander returned to Pueblo. We cannonaded in good 
earnest, but the pieces were too small to be of much service ; 
but we cut a breach with our axes half way through the six- 
foot wall, and then finished the work with our cannon. While 
engaged in this novel way of getting at the enemy, a shell 
was thrown from a mortar at the fort ; but our artillerymen, 
not being very skilful in their practice, threw the shell out- 
side the fort, and it fell among us. A young lieutenant siezed 
it in his hands, and cast it through the breach ; it had not 
more than struck before it exploded, doing considerable damage 
in the fort. We then stormed the breach, which was only big 
enough to admit one man at a time, and carried the place 
without difficulty. 

The company of mountaineers had fallen back midway 
between the fort and mountain, in order to pick off any 
Mexican who should dare to show himself. We killed fifty- 
four of the defenders as they were endeavouring to escape, 
upon the person of one of whom, an officer, we found one 
hundred and sixty doubloons. Some of the enemy fired upon 
us from a position at one corner of the fort, through loop- 
holes ; and while looking about for a covert to get a secure 
shot at them, we discovered a few of the enemy hidden away 
in the brush. One of them, an Indian, ran toward us, ex- 
claiming, "Bueno! bueno ! me like Americanos." One of 
our party said, " If you like the Americans, take this sword, 
and return to the brush, and kill all the men you find there." 

He took the proffered sword, and was busy in the brush 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 403 

for a few minutes, and then returned with his sword-blade 
dripping with gore, saying, '' I have killed them." 

" Then you ought to die for kilhng your own people," said 
the American, and he shot the Indian dead. 

The battle lasted through the whole day, and a close watch 
was set at night to prevent the escape of those yet occupying 
the fort. The assault was renewed the following morning, and 
continued during that day also. Toward night several white flags 
were raised by the enemy, but were immediately shot down by 
the Americans, who had determined to show no quarter. On 
the third morning all the women issued from the fort, each 
bearing a white flag, and kneeled before the general to sup- 
plicate for the lives of their surviving friends. The general 
was prevailed upon, and gave orders to cease firing. The 
enemy lost severely through their disgraceful cowardice. Our 
company lost but one man through the v/hole engagement. 
Nine of the most prominent conspirators were hanged at Taos, 
and seven or eight more at Santa F6. It was about this time 
that the report reached us of the butchery of Mr. Waldo, 
with eight or ten other Americans, at the Moro. 

After the insurrection was suppressed I started again for 
Fort Leavenworth. On my way back from the fort I again fell 
in with Black Shield and his Apaches. I said to him, " You 
told me false. You said that you would meet me at the 
Eagle's Nest, but when I went there you were not to be found. 
I had to throw the powder away that I brought for you, and 
run for my life ; for the whites discovered my errand, and were 
close at my heels." 

" I know it, my friend," said the Black Shield. '* We saw 
your kegs there^ but the whites had taken all the powder out. 
I am sorry they came upon you so suddenly, for we had to run 
as well as you." 

The second day after we left the Apaches we discovered an 
object in the distance which I at first took for a stump, but 
still thought it singular that there should be a stump where 
there were no trees near. As we approached the object 
moved, and we at length discovered it to be a man of the 
name of Elliott Lee, who had been wounded by the Apaches 
three or four days previously, and had not tasted food since. 



404 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

He had belonged to a party of seventeen or eighteen moun- 
taineers, on their way to Santa F^. They had stopped to rest 
on the bank of a creek, and were suddenly set upon by the 
Indians. Several of the party were killed, among whom was 
my friend Charles Towne, and all the rest were more or less 
severely wounded. Some few had succeeded in getting away, 
notwithstanding their wounds ; but Mr. Lee had been shot 
in the thigh, and was unable to crawl along. When we picked 
him up he was delirious, and his wound was greatly swollen 
and inflamed. We gave him food, and carried him along with 
us, until we fortunately came up with his waggons. We then 
gave him into the keeping of his friends, and proceeded on our 
way. 

On my arrival home I disposed of all my property in Santa 
Fe, and started to buy horses of the Indians to dispose of to 
the discharged troops. I had arrived within a short dis- 
tance of my ranch, when I met a man who advised me to con- 
ceal myself. Two rewards had been offered for my apprehen- 
sion : one of a thousand dollars by Colonel Price, and another 
of five hundred dollars by Mr. Kissack, Quartermaster. I 
was accused of confederating with rebels and Indians, and as- 
sisting them in stealing horses from the whites, and leading 
the hostile bands in their warfare upon the American troops. 

I listened to his information, and was astonished at the in- 
vention. ''That is news indeed." I said. "But they shall 
not have the profit all to themselves ; I will immediately go 
and deliver myself up, and obtain the rewards." 

" I advise you, as a friend, not to go," rejoined my inter- 
locutor, " for they will assuredly hang you directly they lay 
hands upon you." 

" Weil, hang or not hang," I answered, " I am resolved to 
go, for I have not been a month absent from Santa F6, and 
I can give account of every day and_ night I have since 
spent." 

At the time I met my informant, I had an order from Cap- 
tain Morris, of the United States Army, in my pocket, 
authorizing me to pick up all the government horses that I 
might find in my rambles, and bring them in ; but up to the 
time that I was informed of the charges against me, I had 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 405 

found but one horse, the property of Captain Saverine, and it 
I had restored to the owner. Accordingly, I returned without 
delay to Taos, where I saw Colonel Willock, who was lieu- 
tenant under Colonel Price. Him I acquainted with the 
determination to proceed to Santa Fe, to deliver myself up for 
the rewards that were offered for my apprehension, but he 
urgently requested me not to go. He was about to start with 
an expedition against the Apaches, and wished to engage me 
as spy, interpreter, and guide. He promised to forward an 
exculpatory letter to Santa Fe that should set me all right 
with the authorities. The letter was sent, but not delivered, 
as the messenger was shot on the way. 

I concluded to accompany the colonel, and aid him to the 
extent of my ability in the object of his expedition. We 
started with a small battalion of volunteers for the Apaches. 
The first day in camp, the common soldier's fare was spread 
for dinner, which at that time I felt but little appetite for. I 
informed the colonel that I would go out and kill an antelope. 

" Why," said he, " there is not an antelope within ten miles 
around ; the soldiers have scoured the whole country without 
seeing one." 

I told him I felt sure I could find one, and took up my rifle 
and was about to start. 

'* Hold on ! " cried the colonel ; " I will go with you, and 
will further engage to pack on my back all you kill." 

We started, and kept on the road for about half a mile, 
when I discovered the tracks of three antelopes which had 
just crossed our path, and gone in the direction of a hill close 
by. The colonel did not see the tracks, and I did not point 
them out to him. We passed on a few rods farther, when 1 
suddenly stopped, threw my head back, and began to sniff hke 
a dog scenting his prey. 

♦* What the dickens are you sniffing so for ? " asked the 
colonel. 

" I am sure that I smell an antelope," said I. 

" You smell antelope ! " and the colonel's nostrils began to 
dilate ; ** I can smell nothing." 

" Well, colonel," I said, " there are antelopes close by, I 
know, for my smellers never yet deceived me; and now," 



406 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

added I, "if you will start carefully up that hollow, I will go 
up on the other side, and I am confident that one of us will 
kill one." 

I knew that if the animals were in the hollow they would 
start at the approach of the colonel, and most probably in my 
direction, and thus afford me an opportunity of getting a shot 
at one. I proceeded cautiously along, until, raising my head 
over a knoll, I saw the three antelopes which had crossed us. 
Two had already lain down, and the third was preparing to 
do so, when I sent a leaden messenger which brought him 
down involuntarily. 

The colonel shouted to inquire what I had shot at. 

"Antelope," I answered; and he came running at his best 
speed. There was the very beast, beyond all dispute, to the 
utter astonishment of the colonel, who regarded for some 
moments first the game and then the hunter. 

"And you smelled them!" he pondered; "well, I must 
confess, your olfactory nerves beat those of any man I ever 
yet fell in with. Smell antelope ! Humph ! I will send my 
boy to carry him in." 

"But that was not the bargain, colonel," I said; "you 
engaged to pack in on your back all I should kill. There is 
your burden ; the distance is but short." 

But the colonel declined his engagement. "We finally hung 
the antelope on a tree, and the colonel, on our return to camp, 
despatched his servant to fetch it in. He never could get over 
my smelling antelope, and we have had many a hearty laugh 
at it since. 

The following morning, at daylight, I took five or six men 
with me, and proceeded on my duty as spy, while the colonel 
moved on with the troops, we returning to camp every evening 
at dusk. We frequently saw signs of Indians, but we could 
make no discovery of the Indians themselves. We continued 
our chase for nearly a month ; our coffee and sugar had given 
out, and our provisions were getting low ; the soldiers could 
kill no game, and there was a general disposition, especially 
among the officers, to return. 

In leaving the camp, as usual, one morning, I directed the 
colonel to a camping-ground, and started on my search. Late 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 407 

in the afternoon, I discovered what I supposed to be a large 
party of Indians moving in our direction. I ran vv^ith all 
possible speed to communicate the information; but, in ascend- 
ing a small point of land which was in my way, I found a 
strange encampment of United States troops lying before me. 
I knew it was not Colonel Willock's command, for these had 
tents, waggons, and other appointments, which we were un- 
provided with. When I was first perceived, some of the men 
pointed me out to their companions ; " There's Beckwourth ! 
there's Jim Beckwourth! " I heard whispered around. I found 
it was a detachment commanded by Colonel Edmondson, who 
had just returned from Santa Fe with a re-enforcement, having 
been defeated in an engagement with the Apaches some time 
previously. When the colonel saw me, he inquired of me my 
errand. 

" I have come after horses," I replied, en plaisantant ; " but 
I see you have none." 

"Beckwourth," said a Captain Donohue, "I have been 
defending your character for a long time, and I now want you 
to clear up matters for yourself." 

I found I was not in very good savour among the parties 
present, owing to a mistake in my identity made by one of the 
soldiers during their late engagement with the Indians. It 
was supposed I had entered their camp, hurled my lance 
through a soldier, challenged another out to fight, telling him 
he was paid for fighting, and it was his duty to engage me. 
This suspicion, added to flying reports of evil doings, which 
derived their origin in the Crow village from my adventure 
with Fitzpatrick, had associated me in the soldiers' minds 
with all the horse-raids and white massacres they heard 
rumours of, and I was regarded by them all as a desperate, 
lawless character, who deserved hanging to the first tree 
wherever met. 

At this moment two men came running toward the camp at 
full speed, shouting, " To arms ! to arms ! " as though the 
whole Apache nation were behind them. 

** Where is your party? " asked Colonel Edmondson of me. 

•* Coming yonder, sir," I replied, pointing in the direction of 
the two approaching heralds ; for I supposed it was Colonel 



408 . AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

Willock's command they had seen, and whom, in their fright, 
they had mistaken for Indians. 

Immediately there was a bustle of preparation to receive the 
coming foe : muskets were snatched up, and the men fell into 
line ; but in a few moments the real character of the approach- 
ing company was ascertained, and the colonel advanced to 
greet them. At the junction of the two parties, both engaged 
on the same errand, matters were discussed by the two 
colonels, and it was resolved to abandon the expedition, for it 
was manifest that the Indians were too much on the alert to 
be taken. I was despatched to Santa Fe with a letter to 
Colonel Price from Colonels Edmondson and Willock, while 
they resolved to march back with their detachments, Colonel 
Edmondson to Santa Fe, and Colonel Willock to Taos. 

The morning following I again set out for Fort Leavenworth, 
having for companion M'Intosh, who, by the way, was a 
Cherokee, and known as such to the Indians w^hom we fell in 
with on the road. We reached the fort without any accident, 
and delivered our despatches safe. On our return we overtook 
BuUard and Company's trains of waggons, which were on 
their way to Santa Fe with supplies for the army. BuUard 
and his partner proposed to leave their charge and go in with 
us, if I thought we would be able to keep up with them. I 
answered that we would try and keep their company as far as 
possible, but that they would be at liberty to proceed at any 
time that they considered we retarded them. They went with 
us as far as the Moro, two days' ride from Santa Fe, where we 
were compelled to leave them, as they were tired out, and had 
already detained us two full days. 

My next engagement in the service of Uncle Sam was a trip 
to Chihuahua to convey despatches ; but, previous to starting, 
Captain Morris wished to engage me as guide in an expedition 
against the Utah Indians ; so, preferring the latter service, I 
transferred my trust to my brave and faithful friend, M'Intosh, 
and accompanied Captain Morris. The expedition consisted 
of ninety men : the object was a treaty of peace with the 
Utahs. We succeeded in finding the Indians ; but, as they 
supposed our only object was to fight, it was some time before 
we could get up to them. We at length surprised them in a 



JAMES P. BEGKWOUBTH. 409 

gap in the mountain, when we succeeded in taking a number 
of prisoners, among whom were some chiefs. We explained 
our object ; they then frankly informed us where their village 
was; we all repaired to it, and concluded terms of peace. Our 
approach greatly alarmed the village at first, for they knew 
that, in conjunction with the Apaches, they had been guilty of 
many depredations, although it had been their policy to throw 
all the blame of the mischief upon their allies. Our mission 
performed, we returned to Taos. 

I remained some weeks inactive. Taos was convulsed with 
continual alarms from reports that Cortez was approaching 
against us with a great force. The troops were all away at 
Santa Fe; though, had he visited us, we could have improvised 
a warm reception. We had a small piece of cannon, with 
plenty of grape and canister, with which we could have swept 
' the streets. We tried its effect one day, just to satisfy the 
curiosity of the Mexicans : we put in a heavy charge of grape- 
shot, and discharged it down the street. The tawny Mexicans 
were wonder-stricken : they thought an army would stand 
but a poor chance before such a volcanic belching of iron 
missiles. 

Poultry in the vicinity of Taos became exceeding scarce : 
it was a rare matter to hear a cock crow. When we did by 
chance hear the pleasing sound, we would listen for the repeti- 
tion of it, in order to learn from which direction it proceeded. 
We would then visit the tell-tale's quarters after dark, as we 
could obtain our poultry cheaper at night than in the day-time. 
Orders had been issued to take nothing from the enemy 
without paying for it, which orders were evidently based upon 
the assumption that we had money to pay with. Those 
without money did not feel themselves bound by the injunction. 
The authorities that issue similar commands in future would 
do well to insert some clause binding on the moneyless, other- 
wise these orders are all moonshine. 

From Taos I proceeded to Santa Fe. I again started, for 

the last time, to Fort Leavenworth; M'Intosh, having safely 

returned from Chihuahua, again accompanying me. When we 

^—arrived at the Waggon Mound we heard shots fired, and im- 

^^fcnediately after met a train of mule-teams approaching at their 

I 



410 AUTOBIOGBAPHT OF 

quickest pace. The drivers advised us to return, as they had 
been attacked by the Apaches, and if we proceeded we could 
not escape being killed. I thought that my companion and I 
knew the Indians better than the mule-drivers did, and we 
bade them good-bye and started on. We intended to avoid 
Hhe Indians by making a circuit away from where we expected 
they would be, but in so doing we came directly upon the 
village. We stayed all night with them, were well treated, and 
resumed our journey in the morning. We met a party of 
Americans who had been attacked by the Camanches, and lost 
one horse, but we saw no more Indians until we reached the 
fort. 

Many times wonder has been expressed how I could always 
travel the road in safety while other men were attacked and 
killed. The only way in which I could account for the marvel 
was that I knew how to act the " wolf," while the others did 
not. Of all the despatches I ever carried, I never lost one ; 
while numbers who have undertaken to bear them lost, not 
alone the de^atches, but their lives ; for, whenever they fell 
in with the Indians, they were sure to be killed. The Indians 
knew perfectly well what my business was. They knew that 
I was conveying orders backward and forward from the great 
white chief to his war chiefs in New Mexico. They would 
frequently ask me what the orders were which I had with me. 
Sometimes I would tell them that the great white chief at 
Washington was going to send on a great host of warriors 
to rub them all out. They would laugh heartily at the sup- 
position, for they conceived that all the American forces com- 
bined would hardly be a circumstance before them. I promised 
to apprise them when the white warriors were to advance 
against them, which promise they confidently rehed upon. I 
had to say something to keep on good terms with them, and 
answer their inquiries to satisfy them, and then proceed with 
my business. The war between the great white chief and the 
great Mexican chief interested the Indians but little, though 
their conviction was that the Mexican chief would be victorious. 
Their sympathy was with the latter, from motives of self-in- 
terest. They were now able to go at any time and drive home 
all the horses, cattle, and sheep that they wanted, together 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 411 

with Mexican children enough to take care of them. If the 
white chief conquered, they supposed he would carry all the 
horses, cattle, and sheep home with him, and thus leave none 
for them. 

The Camanches and Apaches have a great number of 
Mexicans, of both sexes, among them, who seldom manifest 
much desire to return home. The women say that the Indians 
treat them better than they are treated at home. I never met 
but one exception to this rule, and that was a young Mexican 
woman captive among the Camanches. She told me that her 
father was wealthy, and would give me five thousand dollars 
if I could procure her restoration. I bought her of the chief, 
and conveyed her to my fort, whence I sent information to her 
father to acquaint him where he could find his daughter. In 
a few days her father and her husband came to her. She 
refused to have anything to say to her husband, for she said 
he was a coward. When the Indians attacked the village, he 
mounted his horse and fled, leaving her to their mercy. Her 
father proffered me the promised sum, but I only accepted one 
thousand dollars, which returned me a very good profit on the 
cost of the goods I had given to the Indians for her ransom. 
The w^oman returned home with her father, her valorous hus- 
band following them. Shortly after this I returned to Santa 
Fe. 



CHAPTEE XXXV. 

Departure for California — Meeting with the Apaches — Hostile Threats — 
Trouble with the Utahs— Most terrible Tragedy — Society in Cali- 
fornia — Adventures with Grizzly Bears. 

THE last despatches I bore from Fort Leavenworth were 
addressed to California, and I had undertaken to carry 
them through. At Santa Fe I rested a week, and then, taking 
an escort of fifteen men, I started on my errand. On our 
arrival at the village of Abbeger, we found a large party of 
Apaches, who were in the midst of a drunken carousal. We 
encamped inside the corral, that being as safe a place as we 
could select. Little Joe, an Apache Chief, inquired of me what 
I was going to do with these whites. 

" I am going to take them to California," I told him. 

" No," said he, " you shall never take them nearer t( 
California than they are now." 

" Well, I shall try," said I. 

He held some farther conversation with me of a denunciator-^ 
character, and then left me to return to the liquor-shop. 

Foreseeing what was likely to result if more liquor was 
obtained, I visited every place in town where it was kept, andj 
informed every seller that, if another drop was sold to th( 
Indians, I would hang the man that did it without a minute' 
delay ; and I would have been as good as my word, for they] 
were all Mexicans, and I had felt no great liking for thei 
since the awful tragedy at Taos. 

" But the priest — " began one or two, in expostulation. 

But I cut them short. " I'll hang your priest just as soon 
as any of you," I said, " if he dares to interfere in the matter." 

I suppose they intended to urge that their priest had 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 413 

authorized them to sell liquors to the Indians. My interdict 
stopped them, for there was no more sold while I was 
there. 

The next day I saw Little Joe in one of the low saloons ; 
the stimulus of the liquor had left him, and he had what topers 
call the horrors. He begged me to let him have one dram 
more, but I refused. 

"Whisky," I said, "puts all kinds of nonsense into your 
head ; you get drunk, and then you are ripe for any mischief." 

When he had become perfectly sober, he came to me, and 
again asked if it were true that I intended taking those whites 
to California with me. 

I told him that it was perfectly true. 

" Well," said Joe, " if you attempt it we will kill your whole 
party, and you with them. You will never listen to us : your 
ears are stopped. We all love you, but we have told you 
many times that we hate the whites, and do not want you to 
lead them through our hunting-grounds, and show them our 
paths ; but you will not listen to us. And now, if you under- 
take to pass through that canon, we will, without fail, kill you 
all." 

" Well," I replied, " I shall certainly go, so you had better 
get your warriors ready." 

We packed our animals, and I directed my men to travel 
slowly while I went through the canon. If I wished them to 
advance, I would climb up and show myself to them as a 
signal for them to rush through, and reach me as soon as 
possible. I then went on all alone, as I knew that, if I 
encountered Indians in the canon, they would not kill me by 
myself. I passed through without meeting any, and I sig- 
nalled to the men to come on ; they soon joined me, and we 
issued upon the open prairie. Here we discovered three 
hundred Apaches, each man leading his war-horse. We 
numbered eighteen, two of whom were Mexicans. They did 
not offer to attack us, however, and we continued our route 
unmolested, although they kept on our trail for twenty miles. 
A little before dark we rested to take supper, starting again 
immediately after the meal was finished. We saw no more of 
ihe Apaches. 



414 AUTOBIOGBAPEY OF 

The following afternoon a Utah came to us. I asked him 
where his village was. He did not know, he said, as he had 
been away some time. I was going out to shoot game at the 
time, and I took the Indian with me, lending him a gun 
belonging to one of my men. I had killed two or three wild 
turkeys, when my Indian, discovering deer some distance off, 
went in pursuit. I returned to the camp, but the fellow had 
not arrived. When we started in the morning he had not 
shown himself. The second day after the disappearance of 
the Indian with my gun, I was some distance in advance of 
the party, when, on ascending a hill, I saw a large party of 
Utahs ahead. They were looking down, and examining tha 
trail very closely, to see if we had passed. This convinced me 
that the Indian fugitive had lied to me ; that he knew well 
where his village was, and had, no doubt, been sent out from 
it as a spy. We held on our way till we came up with them,, 
and, it being then about noon, we halted to take a long rest. 
The Indians soon came flocking round us, but I gave strict 
orders to the men to keep a good look-out, and upon no 
account to let them touch the fire-arms. They swarmed 
round the camp, entering it one at a time, and I determined to 
make the first troublesome advance an excuse for getting rid 
of them. 

We packed up, and moved on through the whole mass of 
Indians, but they did not venture an attack, although it had 
been their intention to do so if they could have got any 
advantage over us through our negligence. They were em- 
bittered against the whites at that time, on account of a severe 
whipping that had been recently inflicted upon two of their 
warriors by Chouteau, who had just passed through them, for 
a theft from his camp. To receive a whipping, especially at 
the hands of a white man, is looked upon by them as a lasting 
infamy, and they would prefer death to the disgrace. The 
next morning they overtook us again, and the Indian returned 
me my gun. I molUfied them with a few trifling presents, and 
they finally left us on apparently good terms. 

The next hostile country that lay upon our road was that of 
the Navajo tribe. They followed us through their whole strip 
of territory, shouting after us, and making insulting gestures ;. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 415 

but they took the precaution to keep out of gun-shot range, 
and I did not' think it worth my while to chastise them. 

The next tribe on our route was the Pi-u-ches, which is also 
the last before you reach Pueblo in California. The first 
Pi-u-ches that we came across were an Indian and his squaw 
engaged in digging roots. On seeing us approach, the Indian 
took to his heels, leaving the squaw to take care of herself. I 
rode up to her and asked where her village was. She pointed 
in the direction of it, but I could not see it. The next one 
that I saw stooped and concealed himself in the grass imme- 
diately he found himself observed ; but I rode up to him, and 
made him show himself, not wishing to have him think that 
he could escape our notice so easily. He accompanied me for 
a short distance, until another of the tribe shouted to him from 
a hill, and he then left me. 

We encamped that night upon the prairie. At dusk we 
observed the smoke of camp-fires in every direction, and 
shortly we were visited by hundreds of Indians, who entirely 
hemmed us in ; but, on their finding that we were not 
Mexicans, they did not offer to molest us. They were hostile 
on account of the continual abductions of their squaws and 
children, whom the Mexicans employ as domestic slaves, and 
treat with the utmost cruelty. 

We reached our destination in safety, and I delivered my 
despatches. I was now inactive for some time again, and 
occupied my leisure in rambling about the environs of 
Monterey. I then engaged in the service of the commissariat 
at Monterey, to carry despatches from thence to Captain 
Denny's ranch, where I was met by another carrier. On my 
road lay the mission of St. Miguel, owned by a Mr. Eeed, an 
Englishman ; and, as his family was a very interesting one, I 
generally made his home my resting-place. On one of my 
visits, arriving about dusk, I entered the house as usual, but 
was surprised to see no one stirring. I walked about a little 
to attract attention, and no one coming to me, I stepped into 
the kitchen to look for some of the inmates. On the floor I 
saw some one lying down, asleep, as I supposed. I attempted 
to arouse him with my foot, but he did not stir. This seemed 
strange, and my apprehensions became excited ; for the 



416 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

Indians were very numerous about, and I was afraid some 
mischief had been done. I returned to my horse for my 
pistols, then, lighting a candle, I commenced a search. In 
going along a passage, I stumbled over the body of a woman ; 
I entered a room, and found another, a murdered Indian 
woman, who had been a domestic. I was about to enter 
another room, but I was arrested by some sudden thought 
which urged me to search no farther. It was an opportune 
admonition, for that very room contained the murderers of 
the family, who had heard my steps, and were sitting at that 
moment with their pistols pointed to the door, ready to shoot 
the first person that entered. This they confessed subse- 
quently. 

Thinking to obtain farther assistance, I mounted my horse 
and rode to the nearest ranch, a distance of twenty-four miles, 
where I procured fifteen Mexicans and Indians, and returned 
with them the same night to the scene of the tragedy. On 
again entering the house, we found eleven bodies all thrown 
together in one pile for the purpose of consuming them ; for, 
on searching further, we found the murderers had set fire to the 
dwelling ; but, according to that Providence which exposes 
such wicked deeds, the fire had died out. 

Fastening up the house, we returned immediately back toj 
the ranch from which I had started with my party, making 
seventy-two miles I rode that night. As soon as I could I 
obtain some rest, I started, in company with the alcalde, for] 
St. Louis Obispo, where, it was believed, we could get assis-i 
tance in capturing the murderers. Forty men in detached] 
parties, moving in different directions, went in pursuit. It] 
was my fortune to find the trail, and with my party of six men 
I managed to head off the suspected murderers so as to come 
up with them in the road from directly the opposite direction 
from Eeed's house. When I came opposite, one of the men" 
sang out, *' Good-day, senors." I replied, but kept on riding 
in a lope. 

The bandits, thrown entirely off their guard, insisted upon 
entering into^ conversation ; so I had a fair opportunity of 
marking them all, and discovering among them a horse belong- 
ing to the unfortunate Eeed. I then rode to Santa Barbara, a 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 417 

distance of forty miles, and, with a party of twenty men, 
started boldly in pursuit. After much hard travel, we finally 
came upon the gang, encamped for the night. Without a 
moment's hesitation, we charged on them, and gave a volley of 
rifles, which killed one, and wounded all the others, save an 
American named Dempsey. The villains fought like tigers, 
but were finally mastered and made prisoners. 

Dempsey turned state's evidence. He stated that, on the 
night of the murder, his party stopped at Eeed's ; that Keed 
told them that he had just returned from the mines, where- 
upon it was determined to kill the whole family and take his 
gold, which turned out to be the pitiful sum of one thousand 
dollars. After the confession of Dempsey, we shot the 
murderers, along with the " state's evidence," and thus ended 
the lives of two Americans, two Englishmen, ar:.d ten Irish- 
men, they having committed the most diabolical deed that 
ever disgraced the annals of frontier life. 

I continued in this service of carrying despatches some four 
months, varying my route with an occasional trip to San 
Francisco. At this time society in California was in the worst 
condition to be found, probably, in any part of the world, to 
call it civilized. The report of the discovery of gold had 
attracted thither lawless and desperate characters from all 
parts of the earth, and the government constituted for their 
control was a weaker element than the offenders it had to deal 
with. The rankest excesses were familiar occurrences, and 
men were butchered under the very eyes of the officers of 
justice, and no action was taken in the matter. What honest 
men there were became alarmed, and frequently would abandon 
the richest places for the mere security of their Uves, and 
leave a whole community of rowdies to prey upon each other. 
Disorder attained its limit, and some reactionary means would 
naturally be engendered as a corrective to the existing evils. 
The establishment of " Vigilaruje Committees " among the 
better order of citizens operated as a thunderbolt upon the 
conniving civil officers and the rank perpetrators of crime. 
; Scores of villains were snatched from the hands of these mock 
officers, and summarily strung up to the limb of the nearest 
tree. Horse and cattle thieves had their necks disjointed so 

27 



418 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

frequently that it soon became safe for a man to leave his 
horse standing in the street for a few moments, while he 
stepped into a house to call upon his friend, and that widely- 
practised business was quickly done awa}^ with. 

Such sudden justice overtook murderers, robbers, and other 
criminals, that honest people began to breathe more freely, 
and acquired a sense of security while engaged in their 
ordinary pursuits. The materiel for crime still existed, and is 
yet present in California to an alarming extent ; but order 
may be considered as confirmed in the supremacy, though 
inevitably many social evils still exist, which time alone will 
remedy. 

In the month of April, 1849, the steamship Cahfornia 
touched at Monterey, she being the first steam-vessel that had 
visited there from the States. I, with a party of fifteen others, 
stepped on board, and proceeded as far as Stockton, where we 
separated into various parties. I left with one man to go to 
Sonora, where we erected the first tent, and commenced a 
business in partnership. I had carried a small lot of clothing 
along with me, which I disposed of to the miners at what 
now seems to me fabulous prices. Finding the business thus 
profitable, I sent my partner back to Stockton for a farther 
supply, and he brought several mules laden with goods. This 
lot was disposed of as readily as the first, and at prices equally 
remunerative. This induced us to continue the business, he 
performing the journeys backward and forward, and Ij 
remaining behind to dispose of the goods and attend to other 
affairs. Sonora was rapidly growing into a large village, and 
our tent was replaced with a roomy house. I had a corps of 
Indians in my employ to take charge of the horses left in my , 
care by miners and other persons, sometimes to the number of 
two hundred at once. I also employed Indians to work in 
the mines, I furnishing them with board and implements to 
work with, and they paying me with one half of their 
earnings. Their general yield was from five to six ounces a 
day each man, a moiety of which they faithfully rendered to 
me. Among my earliest visitors was a party of eighteen 
United States dragoons, who came to me to be fitted out 
with citizen's clothing, as they had brought to a sudden 



JAMES P. BECKWOUETH. 419 

period their service to their country. It was an impossible 
thing at that time to retain troops in Cahfornia, for the 
produce of the mines held out a temptation to desert that 
none seemed able to resist, as more gold could be dug some- 
times in one day than would pay a private for a year's 
service in the army; even officers of considerable rank not 
unfrequently threw aside epaulette and sash, and shouldered 
the pick to repair to the diggings. 

While at Sonora I learned that Colonel Fremont was at 
Mariposa, and I made a journey over there for the purpose of 
seeing him. I was disappointed in my expectation, and 
started to return home again. While proceeding quietly 
along, having left the main road and taken up a hollow, I 
perceived two men approaching me from the opposite direc- 
tion, running at the top of their speed, and a crowd of Indians 
after them in pursuit. When they came up, they shouted to 
me to turn and fly for my life, or the Indians would certainly 
massacre me. I bade them stop, and quiet their fears. Seeing 
my self-possession, notwithstanding the near approach of the 
Indians, they at length halted, and approached close to me for 
protection against their pursuers. I then commanded the 
Indians to stand, telling them that they were my men. They 
said they were not aware of that, or they should not have 
chased them. The Indians I was acquainted with ; they had 
been frequently to my house to invite me to their village. 
They wished to purchase goods of me, and had promised 
me a mule-load of gold dust if I would only supply them with 
what they were in need of. I accompanied them to their 
village, but my two rescued companions were not admitted 
into their lodges. They then renewed their promise of the 
mule-load of gold dust if I would bring out the goods they 
wanted. I never went to them, although it was remiss in me, 
for they had a great quantity of gold dust. I left after a brief 
visit, and rejoined the two men. They could not sufficiently 
express their gratitude to me for their deliverance, as they 
considered my opportune appearance alone saved their lives. 

Becoming tired of my business in Sonora, for inactivity 
fatigued me to death, I disposed of my interest in it for six 
thousand dollars, and went on to Sacramento City with the 



420 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

money in my pocket. From this place I travelled on to 
Murderer's Bar, which lies on the middle fork of the 
American Eiver; here I fomid my old friend Chapineau 
house-keeping, and stayed with him until the rainy season set 
in. Thence I proceeded to Greenwood Valley to establish my 
winter quarters, but I was seized with an attack of inflamma- 
tory rheumatism, and I had a nice time of it that winter. 
Before I was able to get about, I was called on by the 
inhabitants to go several miles to shoot a grizzly bear, and as 
I was unable to walk the distance, several of them volunteered 
to carry me. The bear was in the habit of walking past a 
row of cabins every morning on his return to his den, he 
having issued forth the preceding night to procure his 
evening meal. They had fired several shots at Bruin as he 
passed, but he had never deigned to pay any attention to the 
molestation. I mounted a horse, and rode some distance 
along his customary path, until I came to a tree which offered a 
fair shelter to await his approach. I placed my back against 
it as a support w^hile I awaited his coming, the neighbours 
drawing off to a safe distance to witness the sport. By-and- 
by Grizzly came in sight, walking along as independently as an 
alderman elect. I allowed him to approach till he was within 
twenty paces, w^hen I called out to him ; he stopped suddenly, 
and looked around to ascertain whence the sound proceeded. 
As he arrested himself, I fired, and the ball entered his heart. 
He advanced ten or fifteen paces before he fell ; the observers 
shouted to me to run, they forgetting in their excitement that 
I had not strength to move. The bear never stirred from 
where he fell, and he expired without a groan. When 
dressed, he weighed over fourteen hundred pounds. 

The grizzly bear is a formidable animal, and has acted a 
prominent part among the settlers of California. They are 
seldom known to attack a man unless wounded ; in that case, 
if a tree is by, the hunter had better commence climbing. 
They are very plenty from the Sierra Nevada to the coast 
range of mountains. I have, in the course of my sojourn in 
the country, killed a great many of them, and met with some 
singular adventures. 

On one occasion, while I was with the Crow Indians, there 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 421 

was a man of the name of Coe who was trapping in one of the 
neighbouring streams, and I became alarmed for his safety, as 
Black Foot parties were skulking about in all directions, and 
were sure to kill him if they should find his camp. I found 
Coe, and told him my fears. He instantly gathered up his 
traps, and, mounting his horse, started toward me. When 
within fair gun-shot, an old bear sprang from a thicket, and 
landed upon the flanks of his horse, applying his teeth to the 
roots of the poor animal's tail, and holding him as if in a vice. 
Coe leaned over his horse's neck, and cried out, 

" Shoot, Jim ! shoot quick ! " 

I could not help laughing to have saved my Ufe, as he 
turned from side to side, though his situation was a critical 
one. I soon got in a favourable position, and put a ball in the 
animal's head, just behind the ear, when he liberated the 
horse and his rider, falling on his back apparently stone dead. 

There is a story, remembered by the mountaineers, of a 
person named Key ere. He was a man who never exceeded 
one hundred pounds in weight, but was clear grit, what little 
there was of him. He went out one day alone, and the horse 
came back in the evening without his rider, and we thought 
that the Indians had made sure of poor Keyere's scalp. 
The next morning a party of us started on the horse's trail, 
and found Keyere lying beside a large dead grizzly bear. 
Key ere was horribly mutilated and insensible, but still aUve, 
and must have soon died if no one had come to his rescue. 

We took him to camp, and nursed him with all possible 
care. When he recovered sufficiently to tell his tale, his 
story was received with shouts of laughter, and was rehearsed 
as a wonderful joke from camp to camp. Keyere stated that, 
when he saw the grizzly, he got from his horse to shoot him, 
but unfortunately only wounded the animal. The bear (so 
Keyere says) caught hold of him, and commenced a regular 
rough-and-tumble fight ; finally Keyere got a good lick at the 
bear's head, knocked him down with his fist, and then 
attempted to run away. The bear, however, was too quick, 
when Keyere, becoming desperate, seized the beast by the 
tongue, drew his knife, and stabbed the creature to the 
heart ! 



422 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOURTH. 



Improbable as is the tale, it was a singular fact, that, when 
Keyere was found, his knife was up to the maker's name in 
the bear's side, and the body showed the effects of other 
severe stabs ; but whether a man weighing ninety pounds 
could knock down the best of boxers, weighing twelve 
hundred, the reader can decide; but Keyere ever told the 
same tale, and^became known far and near as the man that 
whipped the grizzly in a stand-up fight. Probably no man 
ever recovered who received so many wounds as did Keyere in 
this unequal combat. 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 

Discovery of Beckwourth's Pass — No pecuniary Eeward for public Services. 
— Transformation. — A new Character. — Emigrant's at home and at 
their Journey's End. — Description of the Happy Valley. — Interesting 
Eeminiscence. 

THE next spring I engaged in mining and prospecting in 
various parts of the gold region. I advanced as far as 
the American Valley, having one man in my company, and 
proceeded north into the Pitt River country, where we had a 
slight difficulty with the Indians. We had come upon a party 
who manifested the utmost friendship toward us ; but I, 
knowing how far friendly appearances could be trusted to, 
cautioned my partner on no account to relinquish his gun, if 
the Indians should attempt to take it. They crowded round 
us, pretending to have the greatest interest in the pack that we 
carried, until they made a sudden spring, and seized our guns, 
and attempted to wrest them from our grasp. I jerked from 
them, and retreated a few steps ; then, cocking my gun, I 
bade them, if they wished to fight, to come on. This pro- 
duced a change in their feelings, and they were very friendly 
again, begging caps and ammunition of us, which, of course, 
we refused. We then walked backward for about one 
hundred and fifty yards, still keeping our pieces ready should 
they attempt further hostilities ; but they did not deem it 
prudent to molest us again. 

While on this excursion I discovered what is now known as 
** Beckwourth's Pass " in the Sierra Nevada. From some of 
the elevations over which we passed I remarked a place far 
away to the southward that seemed lower than any other. I 
made no mention of it to my companion, but thought that at 



424 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

some future time I would examine into it farther. I continued 
on to Shasta with my fellow-traveller, and returned after a 
fruitless journey of eighteen days. 

After a short stay in the American Valley, I again started 
out with a prospecting party of twelve men. We killed a 
bullock before starting and dried the meat, in order to have 
provisions to last us during the trip. We proceeded in an 
easterly direction, ancl all busied themselves in searching for 
gold ; but my errand was of a different character ; I had come 

/ to discover what I suspected to be a pass, 
c^ /\ It was the latter end of April when we entered upon an ex- 
tensive valley at the northwest extremity of the Sierra range. 
The valley was already robed in freshest verdure, contrasting 
most delightfully with the huge snow-clad masses of rock we 
had just left. Flowers of every variety and hue spread their 
variegated charms before us ; magpies were chattering, and 
gorgeously-plumaged birds were carolling in the delights of 
unmolested solitude. Swarms of wild geese and ducks were 
swimming on the surface of the cool crystal stream, which 
was the central fork of the 3io de las Plumas, or sailed the 
air in clouds over our headsl JDeer and antelope filled the 
j plains, and their boldness was conclusive that the hunter's 
rifle was to them unknown. Nowhere visible were any 
\ traces of the white man's approach, and it is probable that our 
Sgteps were the first that ever marked the spot. We struck 
across this beautiful valley to the waters of the Yuba, from 
thence to the waters of the Truchy, which latter flowed in an 
easterly direction, telling us we were on the eastern slope of 
the mountain range. This, I at once saw, would afford the 
best waggon-road into the American Valley approaching from 
the eastward, and I imparted my views to three of my com- 
panions in whose judgment I placed the most confidence. 
They thought highly of the discovery, and even proposed to 
associate with me in opening the road. We also found gold, 
but not in sufficient quantity to warrant our working it ; and, 
furthermore, the ground was too wet to admit of our pro- 
specting to any advantage. 

On my return to the American Valley, I made known my 

J discovery to a Mr. Turner, proprietor of the American Eanch, 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 425 

^4io entered enthusiastically into my views ; it was a thing, he 
€aid, he had never dreamed of before. If I could but carry 
out my plan, and divert travel into that road, he thought I 
should be a made man for life. Thereupon he drew up a sub- 
scription-list, setting forth the merits of the project, and 
showing how the road could be made practicable to Bidwell's 
Bar, and thence to Marysville, which latter place would 
■derive peculiar advantages from the discovery. He headed 
the subscription with two hundred dollars. 

When I reached Bidwell's Bar and unfolded my project, the 
town was seized with a perfect mania for the opening of the 
route. ' The subscriptions toward the fund required for its 
accomplishment amounted to five hundred dollars. I then 
proceeded to Marysville, a place which would unquestionably 
derive greater benefit from the newly-discovered route than 
-any other place on the way, since this must be the intrepot or 
principal starting-place for emigrants. I communicated vdth 
several of the most influential residents on the subject in 
hand. They also spoke very encouragingly of my undertaking, 
and referred me before all others to the mayor of the city. 
Accordingly, I waited upon that gentleman (a Mr. Miles), 
and brought the matter under his notice, representing it as 
being a legitimate matter for his interference, and offering 
substantial advantages to the commercial prosperity of the 
city. The mayor entered warmly into my views, and pro- 
nounced it as his opinion that the profits resulting from the 
speculation could not be less than from six to ten thousand 
dollars ; and as the benefits accruing to the city would 
be incalculable, he would insure my expenses while engaged 
upon it. 

I mentioned that I should prefer some guarantee before 
entering upon my labours, to secure me against loss of what 
money I might lay out. 

" Leave that to me,'' said the mayor; " I will attend to the 
whole affair. I feel confident that a subject of so great im- 
portance to our interests will engage the earliest attention." 

I thereupon left the whole proceeding in his hands, and, 
immediately setting men to work upon the road, went out to 
the Truchy to turn emigration into my newly- discovered route. 



426 



AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



While thus busily engaged I was seized with erysipelas, and 
abandoned all hopes of recovery ; I was over one hundred 
miles away from medical assistance, and my only shelter was 
a brush tent. I made my will, and resigned myself to death. 
Life still lingered in me, however, and a train of waggons cama 
up, and encamped near to where I lay. I was reduced to a 
very low condition, but I saw the drivers, and acquainted 
them with the object which had brought me out there. 
They offered to attempt the new road if I thought myself 
sufficiently strong to guide them through it. The women, 
God bless them ! came to my assistance, and through their 
kind attentions and excellent nursing I rapidly recovered from 
my lingering sickness, until I was soon able to mount my 
horse, and lead the first train, consisting of seventeen waggons, 
through " Beckwourth's Pass." We reached the American 
Valley without the least accident, and the emigrants expressed 
entire satisfaction with the route. I returned with the train 
through to Marysville, and on the intelligence being communi- 
cated of the practicability of my road, there was quite a public 
rejoicing. A northern route had been discovered, and the city 
had received an impetus that would advance her beyond all 
her sisters on the Pacific shore. I felt proud of my achieve- 
ment, and was foolish enough to promise myself a substantial 
recognition of my labours. 

I was destined to disappointment, for that same night 
Marysville was laid in ashes. The mayor of the ruined town 
congratulated me upon bringing a train through. He ex- 
pressed great delight at my good fortune, but regretted that, 
their recent calamity had placed it entirely beyond his power to 
obtain for me any substantial reward. With the exception of 
some two hundred dollars subscribed by some liberal-minded 
citizens of Marysville, I have received no indemnification for 
the money and labour I have expended upon ^my discovery. 
The city had been greatly benefited by it, as all must acknow- 
ledge, for the emigrants that now flock to Marysville would 
otherwise have gone to Sacramento. Sixteen hundred dollars- 
I expended upon the road is for ever gone, but those who 
derive advantage from this outlay and loss of time devote no 
thought to the discoverer ; nor do I see clearly how I am to 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 42T 

help myself, for every one knows I cannot roll a mountain 
into the pass and shut it up. But there is one thing certain : 
although I recognize no superior in love of country, and feel 
in all its force the obligation imposed upon me to advance her 
interests, still, when I go out hunting in the mountains a road 
for everybody to pass through, and expending my time and 
capital upon an object from which I shall derive no benefit, it 
will be because I have nothing better to do. 

In the spring of 1852 I established myself in Beckwourth 
Valley, and finally found myself transformed into a hotel- 
keeper and chief of a trading-post. My house is considered 
the emigrant's landing-place, as it is the first ranch he arrives 
at in the golden state, and is the only house between this 
point and Salt Lake. Here is a valley two hundred and forty 
miles in circumference, containing some of the choicest land 
in the world. Its yield of hay is incalculable ; the red and 
white clovers spring up spontaneously, and the grass that 
covers its smooth surface is of the most nutritious nature. 
When the weary, toil-worn emigrant reaches this valley, he 
feels himself secure ; he can lay himself down and taste re- 
freshing repose, undisturbed by the fear of Indians. His 
cattle can graze around him in pasture up to their eyes, 
without running any danger of being driven off by the Arabs 
of the forest, and springs flow before them as pure as any that 
refreshes this verdant earth. 

When I stand at my door, and watch the weary, way- 
worn travellers approach, their waggons holding together 
by a miracle, their stock in the last stage of emaciation, 
and themselves a perfect exaggeration of caricature, I 
frequently amuse myself with imagining the contrast they 
must offer to the tout ensemble and general appearance they 
presented to their admiring friends when they first set out 
upon their journey. 

We will take a fancy sketch of them as they start from their 
homes. We will fancy their strong and well-stored waggon, 
bran-new for the occasion, and so firmly put together that, to 
look at it, one would suppose it fit to circumrotate the globe as 
many times as there are spokes in the wheels ; then their fat 
and frightened steers, so high-spirited and fractious that it. 



428 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

takes the father and his two or three sons to get each under 
the yoke ; next, the ambitious emigrant and his proud family ; 
with their highly-raised expectations of the future that is 
before them : the father, so confident and important, who 
deems the Eastern States unworthy of his abilities, and can 
alone find a sufficiently ample field in the growing republic on 
the Pacific side ; the mother, who is unwilling to leave her 
pleasant gossiping friends and early associations, is still half 
tempted to believe that the crop of gold that waits their 
gathering may indemnify her for her labours ; so they pull up 
stakes, and leave town in good style, expecting to return with 
whole cartloads of gold dust, and dazzle their neighbours' eyes 
with their excellent good fortune. 

The girls, dear creatures ! put on their very best, as all their 
admiring beaux assemble to see them start, and to give them 
the last kiss they will receive east of the Nevada Mountains ; 
for their idea is that they will be snatched up and married the 
moment they step over the threshold into California by some 
fine yoijng gentleman who is a solid pile of gold, and they 
joyously start away, in anticipation of the event, their hats 
decked with ribbons, their persons in long flowing riding- 
dresses, their delicate fingers glittering with rings, and their 
charming little ankles incased in their fashionable and neatly- 
l laced gaiters. 

At the close of day, perhaps amid a pelting rain, these 
same parties heave wearily into sight : they have achieved the 
passage of the Plains, and their pleasant Eastern homes, with 
their agreeable, sociable neighbours, are now at a distance it 
is painful to contemplate. The brave show they made at 
starting, as the whole town hurraed them off, is sadly faded 
away. Their waggon appears like a relic of the Eevolution 
after doing hard service for the commissariat : its cover burned 
into holes, and torn to tatters ; its strong axles replaced with 
rough pieces of trees hewn by the wayside ; the tires bound on 
with ropes; the iron linch-pins gone, and chips of kickory 
substituted, and rags wound round the hubs to hold them 
together, which they keep continually wetted to prevent fall- 
ing to pieces. The oxen are held up by the tail to keep 
them upon their legs, and the ravens and magpies evidently 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 429 

feel themselves ill-treated in being driven off from what they 
deem their lawful rights. 

The old folks are peevish and quarrelsome ; the young men 
are so headstrong, and the small children so full of wants, and 
precisely at a time when everything has given out, and they 
have nothing to pacify them with. But the poor girls have 
suffered the most. Their glossy, luxuriant locks, that won so 
much admiration, ^e now frizzled and discoloured by the 
sun ; their elegant riding-habit is replaced with an improvised 
Bloomer, and their neat little feet are exposed in sad disarray ; 
thei ; fingers are white no longer, and in place of rings we see 
sundry bits of rag wound round, to keep the dirt from entering 
their sore cuts. The young men of gold, who looked so at- 
tractive in the distance, are now too often found to be worth- 
less and of no intrinsic value ; their time employed in haunting 
gaming-tables or dram-shops, and their habits corrupted by 
unthrift and dissipation. 

I do not wish to speak disparagingly of my adopted state, 
and by no means to intimate the slightest disrespect to the 
many worthy citizens who have crossed the Plains. I appeal 
to the many who have witnessed the picture for the accuracy 
of my portraiture. So much good material constantly infused 
into society ought to improve the character of the compound, 
but the demoralizing effects of transplantation greatly neutra- 
lize the benefits. 

Take a family from their peaceful and happy homes in a 
community where good morals are observed, and the tone of 
society exercises a salutary influence over the thoughts of both 
old and young, and put them in such a place as this, where 
all is chaotic, and the principles that regulate the social inter- 
course of men are not yet recognized as law, and their dignity 
of thought and_2?re5%e of position is bereft from them. They 
have to struggle among a greedy, unscrupulous populace for 
the means of living ; their homes have yet acquired no com- 
fort, and they feel isolated and abandoned; and it is even 
worse upon the children; all corrective influence is removed 
from them, and the examples that surround them are often of 
the most vicious and worst possible description. All whole- 
some objects of ambition being removed, and money alone 



430 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

substituted as the reward of their greed, they grow up unlike 
their fathers ; and it is only those in whom there is a soUd 
substratum of correct feeling that mature into good citizens 
and proper men. 

The girls, too, little darlings, suffer severely. They have 
left their worthy sw^eethearts behind, and cannot get back to 
them ; and those who now offer themselves here are not fit to 
bestow a thought upon. Everything ,is strange to them. 
They miss their little social reunions, their quilting-parties, 
their winter quadrilles, the gossip of the village, their de- 
lightful summer haunts, and their dear paternal fireside. 
They have no pursuits except of the grosser kinds, and all 
their refinements are roughed over by the prevailing struggle 
after gold. 

Much stock is lost in crossing the Plains, through their 
-drinking the alkali water which flows from the Sierra Nevada, 
becoming impregnated with the poisonous mineral either in its 
source or in its passage among the rocks. There are also 
poisonous herbs springing up in the region of the mineral 
water, which the poor, famishing animals devour without 
stint. Those who survive until they reach the Valley are 
generally too far gone for recovery, and die while resting to 
recruit their strength. Their infected flesh furnishes food to 
thousands of wolves, which infest this place in the winter, and 
its effect upon them is singular. It depilates their warm 
coats of fur, and renders their pelts as bare as the palm of a 
man's hand. My faithful dogs have killed numbers of them 
at different times, divested entirely of hair except on the 
extremity of the nose, ears, and tail. They present a truly 
comical and extraordinary appearance. 

This general loss of cattle deprives many of the poor emi- 
grants of the means of hauling their lightened waggons, which, 
by the time they reach my ranch, seldom contain anything 
more than their family clothing and bedding. Frequently I 
have observed waggons pass my house with one starve lingyoke 
of cattle to drag them, and the family straggling on foot 
behind. Numbers have put up at my ranch without a morsel 
of food, and without a dollar in the world to procure any. 
They never were refused what they asked for at my house ; 



I 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 431 

•and, during the short space that I have spent in the Valley, I 
have furnished provisions and other necessaries to the nume- 
rous sufferers who have applied for them to a very serious 
amount. Some have since paid me, but the bills of many 
remain unsettled. Still, although a prudent business man 
would condemn the proceeding, I cannot nnd it in my heart 
to refuse relief to such necessities, and, if my pocket suffers a 
little, I have my recompense in a feeling of internal satisfaction. 

My pleasant valley is thirty -five miles at its greatest 
breadth. It is irrigated by two streams, with their various 
small tributaries. These form a junction about ten miles from ^ 

my house up the valley, which, as you remount it, becomes ^^ 
the central fork of the Feather Eiver. All these streams ^| 
abound with trout, some of them weighing seven or eight 
pounds. In the main one there are also plenty of otter. 
Antelopes and deer are to be found the entire year, unless the 
winter is unusually severe, when they cross the mountains to 
the eastern slops. Grizzly bears come and disappear again, 
without asking leave of any man. There are wolves of every 
species, together with foxes, hares, rabbits, and other animals. 
•Of the feathered tribe, we have wild geese, ducks, sage hens, 
grouse, and a large variety of smaller birds. Service-berries 
and cherries are the only kinds of fruit that grow from nature's 
•cultivation. ^-^ 

The growth of timber about the valley is principally pitch- 
pine, although there is a considerable intermixture of cedar. 
I have never yet sown any grain, but I have cultivated a small 
kitchen-garden, and raised cabbages, turnips, and radishes of 
great size. I have never known the snow to fall to a greater 
depth than three feet, and when the storms are over it dissolves 
Tery rapidly, notwithstanding the elevation is many thousand 
; feet above the level of the Pacific. The snow clings to the 
. mountain peaks that overlook the valley to the eastward the 
.year round, and as it is continually melting and feeding the 
streams, it keeps the water icy cold all the summer through. 
About a mile and a half distant from my house there is a large 
sulphur spring, and on the eastern slope, in the desert, there 
4ire copious hot springs, supplying the traveller with boihng 
water for his coffee without the cost of fuel. 



432 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH, 

The Truchy rises on the summit of the Sierra Nevada, 
opposite the head-waters of the Yuba, and runs in an easterly 
direction until it loses itself in Pyramid Lake, about fifty miles- 
east of this valley. This lake is a great natural curiosity, as it 
receives not alone the waters of the Truchy, but numerous- 
other streams, and has no visible outlet ; its surcharge of 
water probably filtering into the earth, like St. Mary's River, 
and some others I have met with. There is no place in the 
whole state that offers so many attractions for a few weeks' or 
months' retirement ; for its charms of scenery, with sylvan and 
piscatorial sports, present unusual attractions. During the 
winter season my nearest neighbours are sixteen miles away ; 
in the summer they are within four miles of my house, so that 
social broils do not much disturb me. 

There is a pleasant historical incident associated with St. 
Mary's Eiver, which, as it can be familiar to but few of my 
readers, I will relate here. The St. Mary's River is known ta 
most persons as the River Humboldt, since that is the name 
that has been since conferred upon it, in honour of the dis- 
tinguished European traveller. I prefer the former name, as 
being more poetical, though less assuming. An Indian woman, 
the wife of a Canadian named Chapineau, who acted as inter- 
preter and guide to Lewis and Clarke during their explorations 
of the Rocky Mountains, was suddenly seized with the pains 
of labour, and gave birth to a son on the banks of this, 
mysterious river. The Red-headed Chief (Clarke) adopted the 
child thus rudely issued into the world, and on his return to 
St. Louis took the infant with him, and baptized it John 
Baptist Clarke Chapineau. After a careful culture of his. 
mind, the boy was sent to Europe to complete his education. 
But the Indian was ineffaceable in him. The Indian lodge 
and his native mountain fastnesses possessed greater charms 
than the luxuries of civiUzed Ufe. He returned to the desert 
and passed his days with his tribe. Mary, the mother of the 
child, was a Crow, very pleasing and intelligent, and may have 
been, for aught I know, connected with some of my many 
relatives in that tribe. It was in honour of this event, and to 
perpetuate her memory, that the river received its original name, 
St. Mary's, and as such is still known to the mountaineers. 



CHAPTEE XXXVII. 

Mistakes regarding the Character of the Indian— Extent of the Western 
Tribes — Their Character — How a War against them should be con- 
ducted — Reflections — Closing Address to the Indian Heroine. 

AS an American citizen, a friend of my race, and a sincere 
lover of my dountry, and also as one well acquainted 
with the Indian character, I feel that I cannot properly 
conclude the record of my eventful life without saying some- 
thing for the Eed Man. It should be remembered, when 
judging of their acts, that they consider the country they 
inhabit as the gift of the " Great Spirit," and they resent in 
their hearts the invasion of the immigrant just as much as any 
civilized people would, if another nation, without permission, 
should cross their territory. It must also be understood, that 
the Indians believe the buffalo to be theirs by inheritance, not 
as game, but in the light of ownership, given to them by 
Providence for their support and comfort, and that, when an 
immigrant shoots a buffalo, the Indian looks upon it exactly as 
the destruction by a stranger of so much private property. 

"With these ideas clearly in the mind of the reader, it can be 
understood why the Indian, in destroying a cow belonging to 
white people, or stealing a horse, considers himself as merely 
retaliating for injuries received, repaying himself, in fact, for 
what he has lost. For this act on the part of the Eed Man, 
the United States troops are often turned indiscriminately 
upon his race ; the innocent generally suffer, and those who 
have raised the storm cannot understa nd of what crime they 
can be guilty. BssnCTOft LiUWH 

But if the government is determined to make war upon the 
Western tribes, let it be done intelligently, and so effectually 



434 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

that mercy will temper justice. To attempt to chastise 
Indians with United States troops is simply ridiculous; the 
expense of such campaigns is only surpassed by their ineffi- 
ciency. The Indians live on horseback, and they can steal 
and drive off the government horses faster than it can bring 
them together. The Indians having no stationary villages, 
they can travel faster, even with the encumbrance of their 
lodges, women, and children, subsisting themselves on buffalo 
slain on the way, than any force, however richly appointed, 
the country could send against them. An army must tire out 
in such a chase before summer is gone, while the Indians will 
constantly harass it with their sharp-shooters, and, should 
several powerful tribes unite — not an unusual occurrence — 
many thousand men would make no impression. 

It should also be recollected by our officers sent to fight in 
the Eocky Mountains, that the Indians have a mode of tele- 
graphing by the aid of robes and mirrors, and thus, by having 
their spies stationed at convenient distances, they convey 
intelligence of the movements of their enemies at great 
distances and in a very few minutes, thus informing villages 
whether it would be best to retreat or not. Some tribes- 
telegraph by fires at night, and by smoke in the daytime. An 
officer might hear of a band of warriors encamped at a certain 
place ; he immediately makes a forced march, and when his- 
troops arrive at their destination, those same warriors may be 
many miles in his rear, encamped on his trail. 

A village of three hundred lodges of Crows or Cheyennes- 
could, within thirty minutes after receiving an order to move,, 
have all their lodges struck, the poles attached to the horses, 
and their men, women, and children going at full speed, and 
could thus outstrip the best dragoons sent in their pursuit. 

I have seen enough of Indian treaties and annuities to satisfy 
me that their effects for good are worse than fruitless. The 
idea formed by the Indians is that the annuities are sent to 
them by the great white chief ' because he is afraid of them,, 
and wishes to purchase their friendship. There are some of 
the tribes — a very few — who would keep a treaty sacred ; but 
the majority would not be bound by one, for they cannot 
understand their nature. When caught at a disadvantage,. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH, 436 

and reduced to enter into a compact, they would agree to any 
proposals that were offered ; but when the controlling power is 
withdrawn, and they can repeat their depredations with 
apparent impunity, no moral obHgation would restrain them, 
and the treaty that was negotiated at so much cost to the 
country proves a mere delusion. 

The ofl&cer having charge of an expedition against the 
Indians should rightly understand which band of a tribe he is 
commissioned to punish. The Siouxs, for instance, which, a 
few years ago, could raise thirty thousand warriors, are divided 
into many bands, which, at times, are hundreds of miles 
apart. One band of that tribe may commit a depredation on 
the emigrant road, and the other bands not even have heard of 
it : they do not hold themselves amenable for the misdeeds of 
another body totally distinct from them in social relations, and 
to inflict chastisement upon them in such a case would be a 
manifest injustice. But in a case of extreme danger all these 
bands coalesce. 

Other tribes have the same divisions into distinct bands, 
and many are hence led into the beUef that each band is a 
tribe. The Siouxs range over a territory upward of a thousand 
miles in extent from north to south, and their country 
embraces some of the most beautiful spots in the world, as 
well for natural scenery as for extreme productiveness of soil. 
The Crows have but one band proper, although they are 
generally divided into two villages, as being a more convenient 
arrangement to afford pasture for their immense herds of 
horses, and also to hunt the buffalo. But these two villages 
are seldom more than three hundred miles apart, generally 
much nearer ; they come together at least once a year, and 
have frequent accidental coalitions in the course of their 
wanderings. They speak the Grovan language, from which 
nation they are an offshoot. 

The Pawnees are probably the most degraded, in point of 
morals, of all the Western tribes ; they are held in such 
contempt by the other tribes that none will make treaties with 
them. They are a populous nation, and are inveterate against 
the whites, killing them wherever met. A treaty concluded 
with that nation at night would be violated the next mornings 



486 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 

Those who engage in warfare with the Western Indians will 
remember that they take no prisoners except women and 
children. It has generally been believed that the Siouxs never 
kill white men, but this is a mistake ; they have always killed 
them. I have seen white men's scalps in their hands, and 
many still fresh hanging in the smoke of their lodges. 

The Western Indians have no hummocks or everglades to 
fight among, but they have their boundless prairies to weary 
an army in, and the fastnesses of the Rocky Mountains to 
retreat to. Should a majority of those powerful nations 
coalesce in defence against one common enemy, it would be 
the worst Indian war — the most costly in blood and treasure 
that the national government has ever entered into. The 
coalition tribes could bring two hundred and fifty thousand 
warriors against any hostile force, and I know I am greatly 
within the limits of truth in assigning that number to them. 

If it is the policy of government to utterly exterminate the 
Indian race, the most expeditious manner of effecting this 
ought to be the one adopted. The introduction of whisky 
among the Eed Men, under the connivance of government 
agents, leads to the demoralization and consequent exter- 
minatioa, by more powerful races, of thousands of Indians 
annually. Still, this infernal agent is not effectual ; the 
Indians diminish in numbers, but with comparative slowness. 
The most direct and speedy mode of clearing the land of them 
would be by the simple means of starvation — by depriving 
them of their hereditary sustenance, the buffalo. To effect 
this, send an army of hunters among them, to root out and 
destroy, in every possible manner, the animal in question. 
They can shoot them, poison them, dig pit -falls for them, and 
resort to numberless other contrivances to efface the devoted 
animal, which serves, it would seem, by the wealth of his 
carcass, to preserve the Indian, and thus impede the expanding 
development of civilization. 

To fight the Indians vi et armis, the government could 
employ no such effectual means as to take into its service five 
hundred mountaineers for the space of one year, and any one 
tribe of Indians that they should fall foul of could never 
survive the contest. Such men, employed for that purpose, 



JAMES P. BECKWOVBTH. 437 

would have no encumbrance from superfluous baggage to 
impede them in a pursuit or a retreat over their iUimitable 
plains. The mode of life of a mountaineer just fits him for an 
Indian fighter, and if he has to submit to privation, and put 
up with an empty commissariat, he has the means of support 
alMrays at hand. He is so much an Indian from habit that he 
can fight them in their own way : if they steal his horses he 
can steal theirs in return ; if they snatch a hasty repose in the 
open air, it is all he asks for himself, and his health and spirits 
are fortified with such regimen. It is only by men possessing 
the qualities of the white hunter, combined with Indian habits, 
that the Indians can be effectually and economically conquered. 

I have now presented a plain, unvarnished statement of the 
most noteworthy occurrences of my Hfe, and, in so doing, I 
have necessarily led the reader through a variety of savage 
scenes at which his heart must sicken. The narrative, how- 
ever, is not without its use. The restless youthful mind, that 
wearies with the monotony of peaceful every-day existence, 
and aspires after a career of wild adventure and thrilling 
romance, will find, by my experience, that such a life is by 
no means one of comfort, and that the excitement which it 
affords is very dearly purchased by the opportunities lost of 
gaining far more profitable wisdom. Where one man would 
be spared, as I have been, to pass through the perils of fasting, 
the encounters with the savage, and the fury of the wild 
beasts, and still preserve his life, and attain an age of near 
threescore, it is not too much to say that five hundred would 
perish, with not a single loved one near to catch his last 
whispered accent, would die in the wilderness, either in 
solitude, or with the fiendish savage shrieking in revolting 
triumph in his ear. 

I now close the chapter of my eventful life. I feel that 
time is pressing ; and the reminiscences of the past, stripped 
of all that was unpleasant, come crowding upon me. My 
heart turns naturally to my adopted people. I think of my 
son, who is the chief ; I think of his mother, who went 
unharmed through the medicine lodge ; I think of Bar-chee- 
am-pe, the brave heroine. I see her, tearful, watching my 
departure from the banks of the Yellow Stone. Her nation 



438 AUTOBIOOBAPHY OF 

expects my return, that I may be buried with my supposed 
fathers, but none looks so eagerly for the great warrior as 

PINE LEAF, THE INDIAN HEROINE. 

I've seen her in her youthful years ; 

Her heart was light and free, 
Her black eyes never dimm'd with tears, 

So happy then was she. 
"When warriors from the fight retum'd. 

And halted for display, 
The trophies that the victors won 

She was first to bring away. 

I've seen her kiss her brother's cheek 

When he was called to go 
The lurking enemy to seek. 

Or chase the buffalo. 
She loved him with a sister's love : 

He was the only son ; 
And " Pine Leaf " prized him far above 

The warriors' hearts she'd won. 

I've seen her in her mourning hours — 

That brother had been slain : 
Her head, that oft was decked with flowers, 1 

Now shed its crimson rain ; 
Her bleeding head and bleeding hand — 

Her crimson, clotted hair — 
Her brother's in the spirit land. 

And hence her keen despair. 

I've heard her make a solemn vow — 

" A warrior I will be 
Until a hundred foes shall bow. 

And yield their scalps to me ; i 

I will revenge my brother's death — 

I swear it on my life, 
Or never, while I draw a breath. 

Will I become a wife." 

I've seen her on her foaming steed. 

With battle-axe in hand. 
Pursuing at her utmost speed 

The Black Foot and Shi-an. 



JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 489 

I've seen her wield her polished lance 

A hundred times and more, 
When charging fierce in the advance 

Amid the battle's roar. 



I've seen her with her scalping-knife 

Spring on the fallen foe, 
And, ere he was yet void of life, 

Make sure to count her coo. 
I've seen her, at full speed again, 

Oft draw her trusty bow. 
Across her arrow take good aim. 

And lay a warrior low. 

I've heard her say, " I'll take my shield. 

My battle-axe, and bow, 
And follow you, through glen or field, 

Where'er you dare to go ; 
I'll rush amid the blood and strife 

Where any warrior leads : " 
Pine Leaf would choose to lose her life 

Amid such daring deeds. 

I've heard her say, " The spirit land 

Is where my thoughts incline, 
Where I can grasp my brother's hand, 

Extended now for mine. 
There's nothing now in this wide world — 

No ties that bid me stay ; 
But, a broken-hearted Indian girl, 

I weep both night and day. 

* ' He tells me in my midnight dreams 

I must revenge his fall, 
Then come where flowers and cooling streams 

Surround their spirits, all. 
He tells me that the hunting-ground, 

So far away on high, 
Is filled with warriors all around 

Who nobly here did die. 

** He says that all is joy and mirth 

Where the Great Spirit lives. 
And joy that's never known on earth 

He constantly receives. 



440 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JAMES P. BECKWOUBTH. 

No brother to revenge his wrongs — 

The war-path is my road : 
A few more days I'll sing his songs, 

Then hie to his abode." 

I've heard her say, " I'll be your bride ; 

You've waited long, I know ; 
A hundred foes by me have died, 

By my own hand laid low. 
'Tis for my nation's good I wed ; 

For I would still be free 
Until I slumber with the dead ; 

But I will marry thee." 

And when I left the heroine, 

A tear stood in her eye 
As last I held her hand in mine. 

And whispered a good-bye. 
" Oh, will you soon return again ? " 

The heroine did say ; 
" Yes, when the green grass decks the plain," 

I said, and came away. 

THE END. 







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