Jul 292013

Meet Hugh Glass, a fur trapper in the early 19th century.

Near the forks of the Grand River in present-day Perkins County, in August 1823, while scouting ahead of his trading partners for game for the expedition’s larder, Glass surprised a grizzly bear mother with her two cubs. Before he could fire his rifle, the bear charged, picked him up, and threw him to the ground. Glass got up, grappled for his knife, and fought back, stabbing the animal repeatedly as the grizzly raked him time and again with her claws.

Glass managed to kill the bear with help from his trapping partners, Fitzgerald and Bridger, but was left badly mauled and unconscious. Henry (who was also with them) became convinced the man would not survive his injuries.

Henry asked for two volunteers to stay with Glass until he died, and then bury him. Bridger (then 19 years old) and Fitzgerald stepped forward, and as the rest of the party moved on, began digging his grave. Later claiming that they were interrupted in the task by an attack by “Arikaree” Indians, the pair grabbed Glass’s rifle, knife, and other equipment, and took flight. Bridger and Fitzgerald incorrectly reported to Henry that Glass had died.

Despite his injuries, Glass regained consciousness. He did so only to find himself abandoned, without weapons or equipment, suffering from a broken leg, the cuts on his back exposing bare ribs, and all his wounds festering. Glass lay mutilated and alone, more than 200 miles (320 km) from the nearest American settlement at Fort Kiowa on the Missouri.

In one of the more remarkable treks known to history, Glass set his own leg, wrapped himself in the bear hide his companions had placed over him as a shroud, and began crawling. To prevent gangrene, Glass laid his wounded back on a rotting log and let the maggots eat the dead flesh.

Deciding that following the Grand River would be too dangerous because of hostile Indians, Glass crawled overland south toward the Cheyenne River. It took him six weeks to reach it.

Glass survived mostly on wild berries and roots. On one occasion he was able to drive two wolves from a downed bison calf, and feast on the meat. Reaching the Cheyenne, he fashioned a crude raft and floated down the river, navigating using the prominent Thunder Butte landmark. Aided by friendly natives who sewed a bear hide to his back to cover the exposed wounds as well as providing him with food and a couple of weapons to defend himself, Glass eventually reached the safety of Fort Kiowa.

After a long recuperation, Glass set out to track down and avenge himself against Bridger and Fitzgerald. When he found Bridger, on the Yellowstone near the mouth of the Bighorn River, Glass spared him, purportedly because of Bridger’s youth. When he found Fitzgerald, he discovered that Fitzgerald had joined the United States Army, Glass purportedly restrained himself because the consequence of killing a U.S. soldier was death. However, he did recover his lost rifle.


 Posted by at 12:35 am
  • allen

    the man must have had a lot of trouble walking, no not the leg. testicles that size require quite bowlegged stride.

    • mrdakka

      balls of steel

    • Bill Braski

      Now that is something we can agree on.

  • LordJim

    After reading that he killed a grizzly bear that had two cubs, I had hoped the story ended in his grizzly death. I was extremely disappointed. What a shitty role model. If I told that story to my kids, I would change it so that the mother bear brutally killed him and her cubs used his skull as a toy.

    • Anonymous

      Sigh. Odin knows I’ve tried to be tolerant with your nutjobbery comments. But this one is so far over the top that there is no possible conclusion to be drawn other than you are an intentional troll. As a consequence… welcome to the blacklist.

      • Jim R.

        I hear you Scott. Christ… there are some idiots out there.

        • Anonymous

          At this point I’m convinced that LordJim was a true troll, basically parodying the worst, dumbest kind of far-leftie. Now, I appreciate good satire as much as the next feller, and would have been happy to have a good hippie-parody hereabouts, but he just wasn’t very good at it. Just annoying.

  • Bruce

    I remember some movie I saw years ago that was based on a story like this but I can’t
    remember the title to it.

  • Bruce

    Sorry about that, It was “Man in the Wilderness” (1971)

  • publiusr

    Bridger got all the good press. I had never heard of Glass until now.