By Don. A Berry
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Additional resources for A Majority of Scoundrels: An Informal History of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company
See N. I. Wyeth’s letter of Nov. ) This detached camp settled in around November 1. The river froze solid shortly after, and the party was treated to one of the great pageants of the trade—the buffalo. Smith’s journal: . . we were astonished to see the buffalo come pouring from all sides into the valley of the Missouri and particularly the vast Bands that came from the north and crossed over to the south side on the ice. We there fore had them in thousands around us and nothing more required of us than to select and kill the best for our use whenever we might choose.
The Piegans were peaceable enough, and the headman Iron Shirt even carried a certificate of good conduct from a British trader across the border. However, the Missouri Fur brigade immediately began a concerted drive to get back across the mountains to their base at the Bighorn, in safer Crow country. Unfortunately, the Piegans had been talking to some of their less amiable confreres, the Bloods. On May 31 Jones and Immel walked into an ambush within ten miles of a friendly Crow encampment. Jones, Immel, and five trappers were killed; four were wounded.
Everybody’s heart was very good indeed, and what did the general have in mind in the way of trade? So far so good. Trading began with the lower village on the next day. Ashley secured, by his own account, forty or so horses, though other accounts say the number was closer to twenty. Late in the afternoon Ashley was invited to the lodge of Bear, one of the principal chiefs. He went, accompanied, by the experienced interpreter Edward Rose. When they arrived at Bear's lodge they found several other Aricara chiefs waiting for them.