“A few years ago, the writer of this first met Christopher Carson. It needed neither a second introduction, nor the assistance of a friendly panegyric, to enable him to discover, in Christopher Carson, those traits of manhood which are esteemed by the great and good to be the distinguishing ornaments of character. This acquaintance ripened into a friendship of the purest stamp. Since then the writer has been the intimate friend and companion of Christopher Carson at his home, in the wild scenes of the chase, on the war trail, and upon the field of battle.
“Christopher Carson physically, is small in stature, but of compact framework. He has a large and finely developed head, a twinkling grey eye, and hair of a sandy color which he wears combed back. His education having been much neglected in his youth, he is deficient in theoretical learning. By natural abilities, however, he has greatly compensated for this defect. He speaks the French and Spanish languages fluently, besides being a perfect master of several Indian dialects. In Indian customs, their manners, habits, and the groundwork of their conduct, no man on the American Continent is better skilled.”
War with the Blackfeet Indians.
Unsuccessful Trapping.—Disastrous March to Fort Hall.—The Feast upon Horse-flesh.—The Hunting Expedition.—Its Rare Attractions.—Dogged by the Blackfeet.—Safe Arrival at the Fort.—All their Animals Stolen by the Indians.—Expedition to the Blackfeet Country.—Winter Quarters with the Friendly Indians.—Sufferings of the Animals.—Return to the Blackfeet Country.—Battle with the Indians.—Incidents of the Battle.
At the close of the summer months the rendezvous was broken up, and all parties scattered; the traders to their homes, within the precincts of civilization, and the trappers to the savage wilderness. Kit Carson joined a party bound to the upper waters of the Yellowstone river. This is a large stream with many tributaries, all of which take their rise amidst the eastern ravines of the Rocky mountains, pouring their united flood into the Missouri at Fort William. From the head waters of the river, to the point where it enters the Missouri, there is a distance of five or six hundred miles, of perhaps as wild a country as can be found on this continent.
Here, amidst these rugged defiles, the mountaineers set their traps. But they caught no beaver. They then struck across the country, in a southeast direction, a distance of one or two hundred miles, to the Big Horn river, another large tributary of the Yellowstone. Here again they were unsuccessful. They then journeyed westward, several hundred miles, to what are called the Three Forks of the Missouri river. Here again they set their traps in vain. Our disappointed but persistent trappers turned their footsteps south, and having travelled about two hundred miles, passing through one of the defiles of the Rocky mountains, they reached the head waters of the Big Snake river. This is a large stream, some six hundred miles in length, which pours its flood through the Columbia river into the Pacific Ocean.