Back in 1823, explorer and fur trader Major Andrew Henry took a group of men to explore what is now northwestern South Dakota. One of the adventurers who went on the trip was a man named Hugh Glass. On May 8 Hugh went on a hunting trip and didn’t return. Some of the other men went to find him. On the way they came across a wounded grizzly bear. Shortly after dispatching it, they found the mangled body of Hugh Glass. Obviously, the grizzly and Hugh had tangled, and Hugh had gotten the worse of the battle.

Since Hugh was near death, Major Henry decided to push on. Being a bit compassionate, Major Henry offered to pay two men $40 if they would stay until Hugh died, and then bury him. The volunteers were John Fitzgerald and a 19 year old, future famous mountain man, named Jim Bridger.

Fitzgerald and Bridger waited only a few hours before deciding they had enough, and leaving him still alive, they appropriating Glass’ rifle and other equipment, and caught up with the rest of the group, stating that Glass was dead and buried.
Even in his bad state, Hugh Glass had heard the men talking and knew what had happened. With vengeance burning inside him, and surviving on berries and whatever else he could scrape up, he crawled 150 miles to Fort Kiowa.
Hugh Glass survived and tracked down both Fitzgerald and Bridger. But by the time he found them, the fire of vengeance was down to a few smoldering embers, and he merely gave each of them a lecture on their unethical behavior. I don’t know about Fitzgerald, but I can assure you that Jim Bridger never pulled that trick again.

Filed under: Old West History

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