The story behind The Survivor

Hugh Glass is a famous American pioneer, trapper and explorer who has gone down in history forever thanks to the miraculous rescue from the very heart of the American taiga and further adventures.

Glass was born in 1780 to an Irish family in Pennsylvania. From his youth, he felt a thirst for adventure, and the distant unexplored lands attracted the young man better than any magnet. And it becomes clear why: the era of the famous conquest of the western lands of North America began in the United States, when every day more and more groups of pioneers and explorers went further and further west. Many of them did not return - the arrows of the Indians, diseases, predators and natural elements did their job, but the wealth and mystery of the distant lands did not stop more and more frontiersman.

Probably, at a young age, Glass left home and went to the frontier in search of adventure and work. Most of the information about his early life is missing, but we know that from 1816 to 1818 he was in command of a pirate ship that attacked merchant ships sailing along rivers and along the seashore. It is unknown if Glass volunteered to join the pirate squad, or if he was captured, leaving no other choice. Be that as it may, after 2 years, during another pirate raid, Glass decided to escape from the ship: he jumped from the ship into the water and swam 4 kilometers to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. With no equipment with him, he walked north day after day, and, in the end, was captured by the Pawnee Indians. Glass was lucky that the tribal leader allowed him to remain in the tribe and provided him with everything he needed. The American lived with the Indians for 3 years, acquiring the skills of survival in the wild and hunting for animals, learned the Pawnee language and even took one of the Pawnee girls as his wife. Three years later, as an ambassador from the Pawnee, he went to meet the American delegation, and after negotiations he decided not to return to the Indians.

In 1822, Glass decided to join the expedition of the famous entrepreneur William Ashley, who planned to explore the tributaries of the Missouri River for hunting grounds for a new fur company, organized by William Ashley himself and his business partner Andrew Henry. The expedition was joined by many famous frontiermen and trappers; decided to try his luck and Hugh Glass. The acquired experience and excellent physical data seemed to William Ashley sufficient, and at the beginning of 1823 Glass, together with the detachment, set out on a campaign.

A few weeks later, explorers climbing up the Missouri River were ambushed by hostile Arikara Indians. 14 of the squadron were killed and 11, including Glass, were injured. William and Andrew offered to move on and pass the dangerous section of the river as quickly as possible, but most of the party believed that large forces of Indians would await them ahead, and it would be tantamount to suicide to continue along the planned route.

Having sent a boat with their wounded comrades down the river to the nearest fort, the Americans began to wait for reinforcements. Finally, in early August, additional forces approached, which attacked Arikara and threw them back to their settlements. Peace was made with the Indians, and they pledged not to interfere with the group of researchers in the future. After that, the volunteers who came to the rescue went back.

Since the confrontation with the Redskins led to significant delays, William Ashley decided to split his people into two groups and send them along two different routes in order to catch up and explore the area faster. Moreover, although a non-aggression pact was concluded with Arikara, none of the Americans thought to trust the Indians, preferring to leave the intended route along the Missouri River. Glass joined the second squad, led by Andrew Henry. They had to leave the Missouri River and continue along one of its tributaries - the Grand River. Another detachment floated down the river and was engaged in establishing trade relations with the Indians of the Crowe tribe, in order to somehow compensate for the losses from the unsuccessful start of the campaign. Both squads were to meet at Fort Henry, located upstream (see map).

Some time after the division of the detachment, the detachment of Andrew Henry began to worry about the Indian wars of the Mandana tribe: along the way they ambushed the Americans, keeping them in constant tension. The frontiermen managed to avoid deaths, but they were exhausted and wanted to get out of the inhospitable Indian lands as soon as possible.

In early September 1823, Glass and his team were exploring the Grand River. Hugh, who was acting as a hunter, was tracking a deer near the temporary camp, when he suddenly stumbled upon a bear and two cubs. The enraged animal rushed at the person, inflicting many terrible wounds, and only the comrades who came to the screams were able to kill the grizzly, but Glass had already lost consciousness by that time.

After examining the wounded man, everyone came to the conclusion that Glass would hardly last a few days. As luck would have it, it was on these days that the Mandana Indians most strongly annoyed the Americans and literally followed on their heels. Any delay in advance was tantamount to death, and a bleeding Glass would greatly slow down the party's advance. At the general meeting, a difficult decision was made: Hugh was left in place along with two volunteers who would have buried him with all the honors, and then overtook the detachment.

John Fitzgerald (23) and Jim Bridger (19) volunteered to complete the mission. A few hours later, the main detachment withdrew from the camp and continued on their way, while two volunteers remained with the wounded Grasse. They were sure that Hugh would die the next morning, but the next day, and two, and three days later, he was still alive. After briefly regaining consciousness, Glass fell asleep again, and this continued for several days in a row.

The two volunteers' concerns about being discovered by the Indians grew, and by the fifth day they went into a state of panic. Finally, Fitzgerald was able to convince Bridger that the wounded would not survive in any case, and the Mandana Indians could find them at any moment, and the bloody massacre could not be avoided. They left on the morning of the sixth day, leaving the dying man with nothing but a fur cape, and taking his personal belongings ... Later they would catch up with their squad and inform Andrew Henry that they had buried Glass after he expired.

Glass woke up the next day, lying under a fur cape from a dead bear. Not seeing the two guardians nearby and discovering the loss of personal belongings, he immediately realized what had happened. He had a broken leg, many muscles were torn, the wounds on his back were festering, and every breath was filled with sharp pain. Driven by the desire to live and take revenge on the two fugitives, he decided to get out of the wilderness by all means. The nearest settlement of white people was Fort Kiowa, located at a distance of about 350 km from the place of the bear attack. Having approximately determined the southeast direction, Glass began to slowly crawl towards the intended target.

In the early days, he crawled no more than a kilometer, feeding on roots and wild berries along the way. Sometimes he carried dead fish to the banks of the river, and once he found the carcass of a dead bison, half-eaten by wolves. And although the meat of the animal was a little rotten, it was it that allowed Glass to obtain the energy necessary for the further campaign. By making something like a bandage for his leg and finding a stick that was comfortable to lean on while walking, he was able to increase his speed of movement. Two weeks after starting his journey, the emaciated Hugh met a detachment of friendly Lakota Indians, who treated his wounds with infusions of herbs, gave food and, most importantly, a canoe, with which Glass was eventually able to reach Fort Kiowa. His journey took about 3 weeks.

For several days Hugh Glass came to his senses, healing his terrible wounds. Upon learning that the commandant of the fort decided to send a group of 5 merchants to the village of Mandana Indians to restore friendly relations, Glass immediately joined the squad. The Indian village was just upstream of the Missouri, and Hugh hoped that when he reached Fort Henry, he could take revenge on Fitzgerald and Bridger. For six weeks, the Americans fought their way through the strong current of the river, and when there was a day's journey left before the settlement of the Indians, Glass decided to leave his fellow travelers, as he considered it more profitable to reach the village on foot, instead of by boats against the current, bend around the large river bend that could be seen in front ... Glass knew that the more time he saved, the sooner he would find the escaped guardians.

At this very time, the wars of the Arikara tribe were approaching the settlement of Mandana - the Indians constantly fought with each other, and intertribal hatred was often much greater than hatred of the pale-faced invaders. This is what saved Glass - the warriors of the two tribes noticed the white man at the same time, and it so happened that the first were the Mandana Indians, riding horses. Deciding to annoy their enemies, they saved the American's life and even safely delivered to the nearest trading post of the American Fur Company, located near Fort Tilton.

In late November, Hugh Glass began his 38-day trek from Fort Tilton towards Fort Henry. Winter came to these parts unusually early, the river froze, and a cold north wind blew across the prairie and poured snow. The temperature at night could drop below 20 degrees below zero, but the stubborn traveler went to his goal. Finally reaching Fort Henry on New Year's Eve, Glass appeared before the eyes of the astonished members of his party. Fitzgerald left the fort a few weeks ago, but Bridger was still here, and Glass went straight to him with firm confidence to shoot the traitor. But after learning that young Bridger had recently married and his wife was expecting a child, Hugh changed his mind and forgave his former guardian.

For several months Glass stayed at the fort to wait out the cold weather and fulfill the task of the Fur Company - to deliver the skins to the fort, located downstream of the Missouri. The five-man trappers left for the mission at the end of February. One day they saw an Indian chief in the robes of the Pawnee tribe, standing on the banks of the river and friendly inviting them to go ashore and dine in an Indian settlement. Confident that they were indeed the Pawnees, who were known for their friendliness towards the pale-faced, the trappers accepted the invitation. The leader did not know that Glass had lived in the Pawnee tribe for a long time and understood Indian dialects, therefore, communicating with his entourage, he spoke in the Arikara language, confident that Americans would not be able to understand the differences. But Glass realized that the Redskins wanted to outwit them, and in fact it was Arikara, pretending to be Pawnee, luring them into a trap.

The trappers rushed in different directions, but two of them were immediately killed by the arrows of the Indians. The other two, running in the opposite direction from Glass, hid in the woods and safely reached the fort, while Hugh himself was once again left alone in the complete danger of the forest, which was combed by the angry Arikaras. But the hardened fighter was not so easy for the Indians to catch, and a few days later Glass safely reached the familiar Fort Kiowa, where he had already come, wounded after a bear attack. There he learned that Fitzgerald had joined the ranks of the US Army and was currently at Fort Atkinson, downstream of the river.

This time Glass decided to focus entirely on revenge on his former comrade, and in June 1824 he reached the fort. Indeed, Fitzgerald was at the fort, but since he was a US Army soldier, Glass was facing the death penalty for his murder. Perhaps this was what stopped Glass from retaliating, perhaps something else, but after a while he gave up his revenge and decided to continue working as a trapper and conductor on the frontier.

A man like Glass simply could not calmly meet his death, lying at home under a warm blanket. The Indian arrow of the warrior Arikar found him nine years later (in 1833), when he, along with other trappers, went to hunt fur-bearing animals in the vicinity of the Missouri River.