One morning a party of half a dozen trappers, who had gone about two miles from the camp to examine their traps, encountered a band of Blackfeet Indians, who fired upon them. The trappers immediately retreated with the greatest rapidity. Though closely pursued by their swift-footed foes they reached the camp in safety. It so happened, that near their camp there was quite an extensive thicket of tall trees and dense underbrush. Kit Carson, not knowing how numerous the Indians might be who were coming upon him, directed the men as quickly as possible to conceal themselves and animals in the thicket.
Scarcely had the order been executed when the Indians with hideous yells came rushing towards the camp. But not a trapper or a horse was visible. Nothing was found there but silence and solitude. Still they came rushing on, shouting and brandishing their weapons, when suddenly and to their great consternation, the reports of the rifles were heard and fourteen bullets struck fourteen warriors. Several were killed outright, others were seriously wounded. Before the savages had recovered from their consternation the rifles were reloaded and every man was ready for another discharge.
The brave Blackfeet wavered for a moment, and then with unearthly yells, made a simultaneous charge upon the thicket. Carson was in the midst of his little band. His calm, soft voice was heard reassuring his men, as he said:
“Keep cool and fire as deliberately as if you were shooting at game.”
There was another almost simultaneous discharge and every bullet struck a warrior. The Indians, thus mercilessly handled, recoiled, and every one sought refuge behind some trunk, rock or tree. They could see no foe, while the trappers could find peep-holes through which they could watch all the movements of the Indians. A shower of arrows was thrown into the thicket, but none of the trappers were struck. The intermittent battle continued the whole day. Several times the savages attempted to renew the charge, but as often the same deadly volley was poured in upon them with never-failing aim.
At length they attempted to set the thicket on fire, hoping thus to burn out their foes. There was another and still larger body of trappers about six miles below the point where this battle was raging. But the direction of the wind was such, together with the dense forest and the broken ground, that the report of the fire-arms was not heard.
It is probable that the Indians had knowledge of this band, and feared that the larger party might come to the aid of their friends. Whatever may have been the reason which influenced them, they suddenly abandoned the contest and departed. As soon as Mr. Carson had satisfied himself that they were effectually out of the way, he emerged from his retreat and joined his friends down the river. His coolness and prudence had saved the party. They lost not a man nor an animal.