We do not profess to give Mr. Carson’s precise words. These were his views. They were so manifestly correct that all, at once, fell in with them. The united party then again advanced, with rifles cocked and primed, towards the Indian camp. The trappers were in the shade. The recumbent forms of the sleeping Indians were revealed by the smouldering fires. When they were within a few yards of the foe, an Indian dog gave the alarm. Instantly every savage sprang to his feet, presenting a perfect target to these marksmen who never missed their aim. There was almost an instantaneous discharge of rifles and thirteen Indian warriors fell weltering in their blood.
The rest, thus suddenly awoke from sound sleep, witnessing the sudden carnage, and with no foe visible, fled precipitately to their forts. But the trappers instantly reloaded their pieces and, secure from harm, in the darkness, and behind the trees, struck with the bullet every exposed Indian, and five more fell. This was an awful loss to the Indians. Still they greatly outnumbered the whites. But they were caught in a trap. They had neither food nor water in their forts. Not an Indian could creep from them without encountering certain death.
Upon the dawn of day the Indians were able to ascertain that their foes were but few in number. As the only possible resort, which could save them from destruction, they decided to make a simultaneous rush, from the forts into the grove, and to take their stand also behind the protection of the trees. This would give them, with their superior numbers, the advantage over the trappers. They were good marksmen with the rifle, and were accustomed to that style of fighting. Mr. Carson was prepared for this movement. They made the rush, and they met their doom. Thirteen more warriors were struck down, either killed or severely wounded.
The Indians had now lost thirty-one warriors. Discouraged and appalled they retreated. The way was now clear for the return of Kit Carson. The savages made no attempts to obstruct their path. With all the horses which had been stolen, and without a man injured, this Napoleon of the wilderness re-entered the camp to be greeted by the cheers of his comrades.
Marches and Encampments.
The Encampment Among the Rocky Mountains.—The Attempted Stampede.—Retreat and Pursuit by the Savages.—The Alarm.—Loss of the Horses.—Their Recovery.—Enterprise of Kit Carson.—Fight with the Indians.—The Litter for the Wounded.—Union of the two Trapping Parties.—Successful Return to Taos.—Carson joins a Trading Party.—Chivalric Adventures.—Attacked by Bears.
Mr. Fitzpatrick, with his party of trappers, wandering to and fro, found himself at length encamped on the head waters of the Arkansas river, in the heart of the Rocky mountains, more than a thousand miles from the point where that majestic stream empties into the Mississippi. Their intercourse with the Indians had not been such as to secure friendly relations. Powerful tribes were around them, ready to combine for their destruction. The men were widely scattered in their trapping excursions, and but few were left here to guard the camp and the furs already taken.