|From about the time of the American Revolution until the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, control of the area was disputed and variously controlled by agents of the English, Spanish and French. These early traders built the first posts and explored the tributaries of the Missouri.
After the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific created in the United States an interest in this vast wilderness and opened a virtual flood of rough men seeking a fortune, not in gold, but in furs.
Men like Hugh Glass, who with a party of 12 men of the Rocky Mountain Fur Co., ascended the Missouri in the summer
|of 1823. After a very nasty and apparently losing battle with the Ree Indians in present South Dakota, the band of trappers set off overland following the Grand River to the west, eventually hoping to reach Fort Henry in present day Montana.
Hugh Glass, however, didn't make Fort Henry that year, for he got himself into a scrape with a "White Bear", which the trappers called the Plains Grizzly. On about the 25th of August, 1823 at the forks of the Grand River, Mr. Glass was attacked by a grizzly. The grizzly, though mortally wounded, clawed Hugh savagely from his neck to his toes, but Hugh refused to die. The expedition moved on, leaving two companions (for a sizeable bonus) to attend Hugh until he'd finally die and could be buried. The companions,
|though, couldn't wait for Hugh to die, so Mr. Fitzgelrald and the famouse mountain man, Jim Bridger, took Hugh's rifle and all his personal gear and left him for dead.
Hugh slowly recovered and, although unable to stand or walk, began to crawl back toward the Missouri, subsisting mainly on the roots and the remains of a wolf-killed buffalo calf. In such a manner did the maimed Hugh Glass crawl to the Missouri near Fort Kiowa near present day Pierre, South Dakota; over on hundred miles cross-country on hands and knees. Such were the men of the plains.
The bear which attacked Hugh Glass, though now extinct, was a close cousin of the great Alaskan Brown Bear.