About a mile from the camp there was an eminence, several hundred feet high, whose summit commanded a fine view of the whole surrounding country. Every day some one was sent to that hill to keep a constant lookout.
The wisdom of Mr. Carson’s measures was soon apparent. One morning the watch on the hill discerned, far away in the distance, a warlike band of Indians approaching. He had no doubt that it was, as it proved to be, but the advanced guard of the Indian army. He waved his signal to communicate the intelligence to the camp, and immediately hastened down to join his comrades. Every man sprang to arms and was at his post. Kit Carson had anticipated everything and had attended to the most minute details.
With firm self-confident tread the savages came on, a thousand in number, to crush by the weight of their onset, and to trample beneath their feet sixty trappers. It was an appalling sight even for brave men to look upon. They were all arrayed in their fantastic war costume, some on horseback splendidly mounted, some on foot, many armed with rifles, and others with bows, arrows, and lances which were very formidable weapons in the hands of such stalwart and sinewy men.
They came in separate bands, of two or three hundred each, and took position about a mile from the fort. As band after band came up, the prairie and the adjacent hills resounded with their yells of defiance. In the evening they held their war-dance, which the trappers well understood to be the sure precursor of the battle on the next day. Their songs could be distinctly heard in the camp, and as they danced, with hideous contortions, in the gathering shades of night around their fires, it seemed as though a band of demons had broken loose from Pandemonium.
With the first dawn of the morning, a large party of these warriors approached the fort to reconnoitre. They were evidently astonished in beholding the preparations which had been made to receive them. They could not, from any direction, approach within an eighth of a mile, without presenting their bodies a perfect target for the rifles of men who never missed their aim. These cautious warriors did not venture within half a mile of the fortress. But they were keen-eyed and sagacious men. They saw that the trappers were effectually protected by their breastworks, and that the fort could by no possibility be taken without enormous slaughter on their own side. Indeed it was doubtful whether, armed as the white men were, with rifles, revolvers and knives, the fort could be taken at any expense.
In their impotent rage a few random shots were fired at the fort, but the bullets did not reach their mark. The trappers threw away no lead. They quietly awaited the attack, and were so confident of their ability to defeat the Indians, that they were disappointed when they saw the reconnoitring party commencing to retire. They shouted to them in terms of derision, hoping to exasperate them into an attack. But the wary savages were not thus to be drawn to certain death. They retired to their camp, which as we have said was distant about a mile from the fort, but which was in perfect view.