On the present occasion, the partners endeavored to celebrate the new year with some effect. At sunrise the drums beat to arms, the colors were hoisted, with three rounds of small arms and three discharges of cannon. The day was devoted to games of agility and strength, and other amusements; and grog was temperately distributed, together with bread, butter, and cheese. The best dinner their circumstances could afford was served up at midday. At sunset the colors were lowered, with another discharge of artillery. The night was spent in dancing; and, though there was a lack of female partners to excite their gallantry, the voyageurs kept up the ball with true French spirit, until three o’clock in the morning. So passed the new year festival of 1812 at the infant colony of Astoria.
Expedition by Land.—Wilson
P. Hunt.—His Character.—Donald
M’Kenzie.—Recruiting Service Among the Voyageurs.—A Bark
Canoe.—Chapel of St. Anne.-Votive Offerings.—Pious
Carousals,—A Ragged Regiment.-Mackinaw.—Picture of a
Trading Post.—Frolicking Voyageurs.—Swells and Swaggerers.—
Indian Coxcombs.—A Man of the North.—Jockeyship of
Voyageurs—Inefficacy of Gold.-Weight of a Feather—Mr.
Ramsay Crooks—His Character.—His Risks Among the Indians.—
His Warning Concerning Sioux and Blackfeet.—Embarkation of
Recruits.—Parting Scenes Between Brothers, Cousins, Wives,
Sweethearts, and Pot Companions.
We have followed up the fortunes of the maritime part of this enterprise to the shores of the Pacific, and have conducted the affairs of the embryo establishment to the opening of the new year; let us now turn back to the adventurous band to whom was intrusted the land expedition, and who were to make their way to the mouth of the Columbia, up vast rivers, across trackless plains, and over the rugged barriers of the Rocky Mountains.
The conduct of this expedition, as has been already mentioned, was assigned to Mr. Wilson Price Hunt, of Trenton, New Jersey, one of the partners of the company, who was ultimately to be at the head of the establishment at the mouth of the Columbia. He is represented as a man scrupulously upright and faithful his dealings, amicable in his disposition, and of most accommodating manners; and his whole conduct will be found in unison with such a character. He was not practically experienced in the Indian trade; that is to say, he had never made any expeditions of traffic into the heart of the wilderness, but he had been engaged in commerce at St. Louis, then a frontier settlement on the Mississippi, where the chief branch of his business had consisted in furnishing Indian traders with goods and equipments. In this way, he had acquired much knowledge of the trade at second hand, and of the various tribes, and the interior country over which it extended.