New Distribution of Horses- Secret Information of Treason in the Camp.- Rose the
Interpreter- His Perfidious Character- His Plots. -Anecdotes of the Crow Indians.-
Notorious Horse Stealers.- Some Account of Rose.- A Desperado of the Frontier.
0N the sixth of August the travellers bade farewell to the friendly band of Cheyennes,
and resumed their journey. As they had obtained thirty-six additional horses by their
recent traffic, Mr. Hunt made a new arrangement. The baggage was made up in smaller
loads. A horse was allotted to each of the six prime hunters, and others were
distributed among the voyageurs, a horse for every two, so that they could ride and
walk alternately. Mr. Crooks being still too feeble to mount the saddle, was carried on a
Their march this day lay among singular hills and knolls of an indurated red earth,
resembling brick, about the bases of which were scattered pumice stones and cinders,
the whole bearing traces of the action of fire. In the evening they encamped on a
branch of Big River.
They were now out of the tract of country infested by the Sioux, and had advanced
such a distance into the interior that Mr. Hunt no longer felt apprehensive of the
desertion of any of his men. He was doomed, however, to experience new cause of
anxiety. As he was seated in his tent after nightfall, one of the men came to him
privately, and informed him that there was mischief brewing in the camp. Edward Rose,
the interpreter, whose sinister looks we have already mentioned, was denounced by
this secret informer as a designing, treacherous scoundrel, who was tampering with the
fidelity of certain of the men, and instigating them to a flagrant piece of treason. In the
course of a few days they would arrive at the mountainous district infested by the
Upsarokas or Crows, the tribe among which Rose was to officiate as interpreter. His
plan was that several of the men should join with him, when in that neighborhood, in
carrying off a number of the horses with their packages of goods, and deserting to
those savages. He assured them of good treatment among the Crows, the principal
chiefs and warriors of whom he knew; they would soon become great men among them,
and have the finest women, and the daughters of the chiefs for wives; and the horses
and goods they carried off would make them rich for life.
The intelligence of this treachery on the part of Rose gave much disquiet to Mr. Hunt,
for he knew not how far it might be effective among his men. He had already had proofs
that several of them were disaffected to the enterprise, and loath to cross the
mountains. He knew also that savage life had charms for many of them, especially the
Canadians, who were prone to intermarry and domesticate themselves among the
And here a word or two concerning the Crows may be of service to the reader, as they
will figure occasionally in the succeeding narration.
The tribe consists of four bands, which have their nestling-places in fertile, well-wooded
valleys, lying among the Rocky Mountains, and watered by the Big Horse River and its
tributary streams; but, though these are properly their homes, where they shelter their
old people, their wives, and their children, the men of the tribe are almost continually on
the foray and the scamper. They are, in fact, notorious marauders and horse-stealers;
crossing and re-crossing the mountains, robbing on the one side, and conveying their
spoils to the other. Hence, we are told, is derived their name, given to them on account
of their unsettled and predatory habits; winging their flight, like the crows, from one side
of the mountains to the other, and making free booty of everything that lies in their way.
Horses, however, are the especial objects of their depredations, and their skill and
audacity in stealing them are said to be astonishing. This is their glory and delight; an
accomplished horse-stealer fills up their idea of a hero. Many horses are obtained by
them, also, in barter from tribes in and beyond the mountains. They have an absolute
passion for this noble animal; besides which he is with them an important object of
traffic. Once a year they make a visit to the Mandans, Minatarees, and other tribes of
the Missouri, taking with them droves of horses which they exchange for guns,
ammunition, trinkets, vermilion, cloths of bright colors, and various other articles of
European manufacture. With these they supply their own wants and caprices, and carry
on the internal trade for horses already mentioned.
The plot of Rose to rob and abandon his countrymen when in the heart of the
wilderness, and to throw himself into the hands of savages, may appear strange and
improbable to those unacquainted with the singular and anomalous characters that are
to be found about the borders. This fellow, it appears, was one of those desperadoes of
the frontiers, outlawed by their crimes, who combine the vices of civilized and savage
life, and are ten times more barbarous than the Indians with whom they consort. Rose
had formerly belonged to one of the gangs of pirates who infested the islands of the
Mississippi, plundering boats as they went up and down the river, and who sometimes
shifted the scene of their robberies to the shore, waylaying travellers as they returned
by land from New Orleans with the proceeds of their downward voyage, plundering
them of their money and effects, and often perpetrating the most atrocious murders.
These hordes of villains being broken up and dispersed, Rose had betaken himself to
the wilderness, and associated himself with the Crows, whose predatory habits were
congenial with his own, had married a woman of the tribe, and, in short, had identified
himself with those vagrant savages.
Such was the worthy guide and interpreter, Edward Rose. We give his story, however,
not as it was known to Mr. Hunt and his companions at the time, but as it has been
subsequently ascertained. Enough was known of the fellow and his dark and perfidious
character to put Mr. Hunt upon his guard: still, as there was no knowing how far his
plans might have succeeded, and as any rash act might blow the mere smouldering
sparks of treason into a sudden blaze, it was thought advisable by those with whom Mr.
Hunt consulted, to conceal all knowledge or suspicion of the meditated treachery, but to
keep up a vigilant watch upon the movements of Rose, and a strict guard upon the
horses at night.