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The Adventures of Captain Bonneville
by Washington Irving

On-line Edition

Table of Contents

Introductory Notice

Chapter 1

State of the fur trade of the Rocky Mountains-- American enterprises--General Ashley and his associates--Sublette, a famous leader--Yearly rendezvous among the mountains--Stratagems and dangers of the trade--Bands of trappers--Indian banditti--Crows and Blackfeet--Mountaineers-- Traders of the Far West--Character and habits of the trapper

Chapter 2

Departure from Fort Osage--Modes of transportation--Pack- horses--Wagons--Walker and Cerre; their characters--Buoyant feelings on launching upon the prairies--Wild equipments of the trappers--Their gambols and antics--Difference of character between the American and French trappers-- Agency of the Kansas--General Clarke--White Plume, the Kansas chief--Night scene in a trader's camp--Colloquy between White Plume and the captain--Bee-hunters--Their expeditions--Their feuds with the Indians--Bargaining talent of White Plume

Chapter 3

Wide prairies--Vegetable productions--Tabular hills-- Slabs of sandstone--Nebraska or Platte River--Scanty fare--Buffalo skulls--Wagons turned into boats-- Herds of buffalo--Cliffs resembling castles--The chimney--Scott's Bluffs--Story connected with them--The bighorn or ahsahta--Its nature and habits--Difference between that and the "woolly sheep," or goat of the mountains

Chapter 4

An alarm--Crow Indians--Their appearance--Mode of approach--Their vengeful errand--Their curiosity--Hostility between the Crows and Blackfeet-- Loving conduct of the Crows--Laramie's Fork-- First navigation of the Nebraska--Great elevation of the country--Rarity of the atmosphere--Its effect on the wood-work of wagons--Black Hills--Their wild and broken scenery--Indian dogs--Crow trophies-- Sterile and dreary country--Banks of the Sweet Water--Buffalo hunting--Adventure of Tom Cain the Irish cook

Chapter 5

Magnificent scenery--Wind River Mountains--Treasury of waters--A stray horse--An Indian trail-- Trout streams--The Great Green River Valley-- An alarm--A band of trappers--Fontenelle, his information--Sufferings of thirst--Encampment on the Seeds-ke-dee--Strategy of rival traders-- Fortification of the camp--The Blackfeet--Banditti of the mountains--Their character and habits

Chapter 6

Sublette and his band--Robert Campbell--Mr. Wyeth and a band of "down-easters" --Yankee enterprise-- Fitzpatrick--His adventure with the Blackfeet--A rendezvous of mountaineers--The battle of Pierre's Hole--An Indian ambuscade--Sublette's return

Chapter 7

Retreat of the Blackfeet--Fontenelle's camp in danger--Captain Bonneville and the Blackfeet-- Free trappers--Their character, habits, dress, equipments, horses--Game fellows of the mountains-- Their visit to the camp--Good fellowship and good cheer --A carouse--A swagger, a brawl, and a reconciliation

Chapter 8

Plans for the winter--Salmon River--Abundance of salmon west of the mountains--New arrangements-- Caches--Cerre's detachment--Movements in Fontenelle's camp--Departure of the Blackfeet--Their fortunes--Wind Mountain streams--Buckeye, the Delaware hunter, and the grizzly bear--Bones of murdered travellers--Visit to Pierre's Hole--Traces of the battle--Nez Perce Indians--Arrival at Salmon River

Chapter 9

Horses turned loose--Preparations for winter quarters--Hungry times--Nez Perces, their honesty, piety, pacific habits, religious ceremonies--Captain Bonneville's conversations with them--Their love of gambling

Chapter 10

Black feet in the Horse Prairie--Search after the hunters--Difficulties and dangers--A card party in the wilderness--The card party interrupted--"Old Sledge" a losing game--Visitors to the camp--Iroquois hunters--Hanging-eared Indians.

Chapter 11

Rival trapping parties--Manoeuvring--A desperate game--Vanderburgh and the Blackfeet--Deserted camp fire--A dark defile--An Indian ambush--A fierce melee--Fatal consequences--Fitzpatrick and Bridger--Trappers precautions--Meeting with the Blackfeet--More fighting--Anecdote of a young Mexican and an Indian girl.

Chapter 12

A winter camp in the wilderness--Medley of trappers, hunters, and Indians--Scarcity of game--New arrangements in the camp--Detachments sent to a distance--Carelessness of the Indians when encamped--Sickness among the Indians--Excellent character of the Nez Perces--The Captain's effort as a pacificator--A Nez Perce's argument in favor of war--Robberies, by the Black feet--Long suffering of the Nez Perces--A hunter's Elysium among the mountains--More robberies--The Captain preaches up a crusade--The effect upon his hearers.

Chapter 13

Story of Kosato, the Renegade Blackfoot.

Chapter 14

The party enters the mountain gorge--A wild fastness among hills--Mountain mutton--Peace and plenty--The amorous trapper-A piebald wedding-A free trapper's wife-Her gala equipments-Christmas in the wilderness.

Chapter 15

A hunt after hunters--Hungry times--A voracious repast--Wintry weather--Godin's River--Splendid winter scene on the great Lava Plain of Snake River--Severe travelling and tramping in the snow--Manoeuvrs of a solitary Indian horseman--Encampment on Snake River--Banneck Indians--The horse chief--His charmed life.

Chapter 16

Misadventures of Matthieu and his party -- Return to the caches at Salmon River -- Battle between Nez Perces and Black feet -- Heroism of a Nez Perce woman -- Enrolled among the braves.

Chapter 17

Opening of the caches -- Detachments of Cerre and Hodgkiss -- Salmon River Mountains -- Superstition of an Indian trapper -- Godin's River -- Preparations for trapping -- An alarm -- An interruption -- A rival band -- Phenomena of Snake River Plain -- Vast clefts and chasms -- Ingulfed streams -- Sublime scenery -- A grand buffalo hunt.

Chapter 18

Meeting with Hodgkiss -- Misfortunes of the Nez Perces -- Schemes of Kosato, the renegado -- His foray into the Horse Prairie-Invasion of Black feet -- Blue John and his forlorn hope -- Their generous enterprise-Their fate-Consternation and despair of the village-Solemn obsequies-Attempt at Indian trade-Hudson's Bay Company's monopoly-Arrangements for autumn-Breaking up of an encampment.

Chapter 19

Precautions in dangerous defiles -- Trappers' mode of defence on a prairie -- A mysterious visitor -- Arrival in Green River Valley -- Adventures of the detachments -- The forlorn partisan -- His tale of disasters.

Chapter 20

Gathering in Green River valley--Visitings and feastings of leaders--Rough wassailing among the trappers--Wild blades of the mountains--Indian belles--Potency of bright beads and red blankets-- Arrival of supplies--Revelry and extravagance--Mad wolves--The lost Indian

Chapter 21

Schemes of Captain Bonneville--The Great Salt Lake--Expedition to explore it--Preparations for a journey to the Bighorn

Chapter 22

The Crow country--A Crow paradise--Habits of the Crows--Anecdotes of Rose, the renegade white man-- His fights with the Blackfeet--His elevation--His death--Arapooish, the Crow chief--His eagle-- Adventure of Robert Campbell--Honor among Crows

Chapter 23

Departure from Green River valley--Popo Agie--Its course--The rivers into which it runs--Scenery of the Bluffs--the great Tar Spring--Volcanic tracts in the Crow country--Burning Mountain of Powder River--Sulphur springs--Hidden fires--Colter's Hell--Wind River--Campbell's party--Fitzpatrick and his trappers--Captain Stewart, an amateur traveller--Nathaniel Wyeth--Anecdotes of his expedition to the Far West--Disaster of Campbell's party--A union of bands--The Bad Pass--The rapids--Departure of Fitzpatrick--Embarkation of peltries--Wyeth and his bull boat--Adventures of Captain Bonneville in the Bighorn Mountains--Adventures in the plain--Traces of Indians--Travelling precautions--Dangers of making a smoke-- The rendezvous

Chapter 24

Adventures of the party of ten--The Balaamite mule-- A dead point--The mysterious elks--A night attack-- A retreat--Travelling under an alarm--A joyful meeting--Adventures of the other party--A decoy elk--Retreat to an island--A savage dance of triumph--Arrival at Wind River

Chapter 25

Captain Bonneville sets out for Green River valley-- Journey up the Popo Agie--Buffaloes--The staring white bears--The smoke--The warm springs-- Attempt to traverse the Wind River Mountains--The Great Slope--Mountain dells and chasms--Crystal lakes--Ascent of a snowy peak--Sublime prospect-- A panorama--"Les dignes de pitie," or wild men of the mountains

Chapter 26

A retrograde move--Channel of a mountain torrent-- Alpine scenery--Cascades--Beaver valleys--Beavers at work--Their architecture--Their modes of felling trees--Mode of trapping beaver--Contests of skill-- A beaver "up to trap"--Arrival at the Green River caches

Chapter 27

Route toward Wind River--Dangerous neighborhood --Alarms and precautions--A sham encampment-- Apparition of an Indian spy--Midnight move--A mountain defile--The Wind River valley--Tracking a party--Deserted camps--Symptoms of Crows-- Meeting of comrades--A trapper entrapped--Crow pleasantry--Crow spies--A decampment--Return to Green River valley--Meeting with Fitzpatrick's party--Their adventures among the Crows--Orthodox Crows

Chapter 28

A region of natural curiosities--The plain of white clay--Hot springs--The Beer Spring--Departure to seek the free trappers--Plain of Portneuf--Lava-- Chasms and gullies--Bannack Indians--Their hunt of the buffalo--Hunter's feast--Trencher heroes-- Bullying of an absent foe--The damp comrade--The Indian spy--Meeting with Hodgkiss--His adventures--Poordevil Indians--Triumph of the Bannacks--Blackfeet policy in war

Chapter 29

Winter camp at the Portneuf--Fine springs--The Bannack Indians--Their honesty--Captain Bonneville prepares for an expedition--Christmas--The American Falls--Wild scenery--Fishing Falls--Snake Indians--Scenery on the Bruneau--View of volcanic country from a mountain--Powder River-- Shoshokoes, or Root Diggers--Their character, habits, habitations, dogs--Vanity at its last shift

Chapter 30

Temperature of the climate--Root Diggers on horseback--An Indian guide--Mountain prospects-- The Grand Rond--Difficulties on Snake River--A scramble over the Blue Mountains--Sufferings from hunger--Prospect of the Immahah Valley-- The exhausted traveller

Chapter 31

Progress in the valley--An Indian cavalier--The captain falls into a lethargy--A Nez Perce patriarch-- Hospitable treatment--The bald head--Bargaining-- Value of an old plaid cloak--The family horse-- The cost of an Indian present

Chapter 32

Nez Perce camp--A chief with a hard name--The Big Hearts of the East--Hospitable treatment--The Indian guides--Mysterious councils--The loquacious chief--Indian tomb--Grand Indian reception--An Indian feast--Town-criers--Honesty of the Nez Perces--The captain's attempt at healing.

Chapter 33

Scenery of the Way-lee-way--A substitute for tobacco--Sublime scenery of Snake River--The garrulous old chief and his cousin--A Nez Perce meeting--A stolen skin--The scapegoat dog-- Mysterious conferences--The little chief--His hospitality--The captain's account of the United States--His healing skill

Chapter 34

Fort Wallah-Wallah--Its commander--Indians in its neighborhood--Exertions of Mr. Pambrune for their improvement--Religion--Code of laws--Range of the Lower Nez Perces--Camash, and other roots-- Nez Perce horses--Preparations for departure-- Refusal of supplies--Departure--A laggard and glutton

Chapter 35

The uninvited guest--Free and easy manners--Salutary jokes--A prodigal son--Exit of the glutton-- A sudden change in fortune--Danger of a visit to poor relations--Plucking of a prosperous man--A vagabond toilet--A substitute for the very fine horse--Hard travelling--The uninvited guest and the patriarchal colt--A beggar on horseback--A catastrophe--Exit of the merry vagabond

Chapter 36

The difficult mountain--A smoke and consultation--The captain's speech--An icy turnpike-- Danger of a false step-- Arrival on Snake River-- Return to Portneuf-- Meeting of comrades

Chapter 37

Departure for the rendezvous--A war party of Blackfeet--A mock bustle--Sham fires at night--Warlike precautions--Dangers of a night attack-- A panic among horses--Cautious march--The Beer Springs--A mock carousel--Skirmishing with buffaloes--A buffalo bait--Arrival at the rendezvous-- Meeting of various bands

Chapter 38

Plan of the Salt Lake expedition--Great sandy deserts--Sufferings from thirst--Ogden's River-- Trails and smoke of lurking savages--Thefts at night-- A trapper's revenge--Alarms of a guilty conscience-- A murderous victory--Californian mountains--Plains along the Pacific--Arrival at Monterey--Account of the place and neighborhood--Lower California-- Its extent--The Peninsula--Soil--Climate-- Production--Its settlements by the Jesuits--Their sway over the Indians--Their expulsion--Ruins of a missionary establishment--Sublime scenery--Upper California--Missions--Their power and policy-- Resources of the country--Designs of foreign nations

Chapter 39

Gay life at Monterey--Mexican horsemen--A bold dragoon--Use of the lasso--Vaqueros--Noosing a bear--Fight between a bull and a bear--Departure from Monterey--Indian horse stealers--Outrages committed by the travellers--Indignation of Captain Bonneville

Chapter 40

Traveller's tales -- Indian lurkers -- Prognostics of Buckeye -- Signs and portents -- The medicine wolf -- An alarm -- An ambush -- The captured provant Triumph of Buckeye -- Arrival of supplies -- Grand carouse -- Arrangements for the year -- Mr. Wyeth and his new-levied band.

Chapter 41

A voyage in a bull boat.

Chapter 42

Departure of Captain Bonneville for the Columbia -- Advance of Wyeth -- Efforts to keep the lead -- Hudson's Bay party -- A junketing -- A delectable beverage -- Honey and alcohol -- High carousing -- The Canadian "bon vivant" -- A cache -- A rapid move -- Wyeth and his plans -- His travelling companions -- Buffalo hunting -- More conviviality -- An interruption.

Chapter 43

A rapid march -- A cloud of dust -- Wild horsemen -- "High Jinks" -- Horseracing and rifle-shooting -- The game of hand -- The fishing season -- Mode of fishing -- Table lands -- Salmon fishers -- The captain's visit to an Indian lodge -- The Indian girl -- The pocket mirror -- Supper -- Troubles of an evil conscience.

Chapter 44

Outfit of a trapper -- Risks to which he is subjected -- Partnership of trappers -- Enmity of Indians -- Distant smoke -- A country on fire -- Gun Creek -- Grand Rond Fine pastures -- Perplexities in a smoky country -- Conflagration of forests.

Chapter 45

Skynses -- Their traffic -- Hunting -- Food -- Horses -- A horse-race -- Devotional feeling of the Skynses, Nez Perces and Flatheads -- Prayers -- Exhortations -- A preacher on horseback -- Effect of religion on the manners of the tribes -- A new light.

Chapter 46

Scarcity in the camp -- Refusal of supplies by the Hudson's Bay Company -- Conduct of the Indians -- A hungry retreat -- John Day's River -- The Blue Mountains -- Salmon fishing on Snake River -- Messengers from the Crow country -- Bear River Valley -- immense migration of buffalo -- Danger of buffalo hunting -- A wounded Indian -- Eutaw Indians -- A "surround" of antelopes.

Chapter 47

A festive winter -- Conversion of the Shoshonies -- Visit of two free trappers -- Gayety in the camp -- A touch of the tender passion -- The reclaimed squaw -- An Indian fine lady -- An elopement -- A pursuit -- Market value of a bad wife.

Chapter 48

Breaking up of winter quarters -- Move to Green River -- A trapper and his rifle -- An arrival in camp -- A free trapper and his squaw in distress -- Story of a Blackfoot belle.

Chapter 49

Rendezvous at Wind River -- Campaign of Montero and his brigade in the Crow country -- Wars between the Crows and Blackfeet -- Death of Arapooish Blackfeet lurkers -- Sagacity of the horse -- Dependence of the hunter on his horse -- Return to the settlements.


Nathaniel J. Wyeth, and the Trade of the Far West -- Wreck of a Japanese Junk on the Northwest Coast -- Instructions to Captain Bonneville from the Major-General Commanding the Army of the United States.