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Kootanie tribes, on the head-waters or main branch of the Columbia, and were gradually extending them down the principal stream of that river; thus giving to Great Britain in this particular, as in the discovery of the mouth of the river, a title of parity at least, if not of priority of discovery, as opposed to the United States. It was from these posts that, having heard of the American establishment forming in 1811 at the mouth of the river, Mr. Thompson hastened thither, descending the river to ascertain the nature of that establishment.” The expression “if not before, at least in the same and following years," used here, is rather indefinite. In order to show how it should be understood conformably with truth, it will be proper to repeat that Lewis and Clarke descended the Columbia and reached its mouth before the middle of November, 1805 that the North-West Company made their first establishment beyond the Rocky Mountains, at some distance north of any part of the Columbia, in 1806 — that American establishments were formed on the Columbia in 1809, 1810, and 1811-and, finally, that Thompson did not arrive among the Kootanie and Flat-head tribes until the spring of 1811, after the foundation of Astoria.
Mr. Thompson and his people were accompanied, on their return, by a party from the factory, under Mr. David Stuart, who established a post at the confluence of a stream, called the Okinagan, with the north branch of the Columbia, about six hundred miles above the mouth of the latter river, and remained there during the winter. The situation of those left at Astoria was, in the mean time, very unpleasant, and their spirits were depressed by various circumstances. Their supplies of provisions were scanty and uncertain, and nothing was heard, for some months, of the party who were to come over land from the United States; the Tonquin, which was expected to return to the river in September, did not appear, and rumors were brought by the Indians of the destruction of a ship, and the massacre of her crew, by the natives near the Strait of Fuca. Nothing, however, occurred at the factory, worthy of note, until the 18th of January, 1812, when a portion of the detachment sent across the continent arrived there in the most wretched condition.
This detachment, consisting of about sixty men, under the chief agent, Hunt, and the partners, Crooks, Mackenzie, and Maclellan, ascended the Missouri River in boats, from its mouth to the country of the Arickara Indians, distant about fourteen hundred miles higher ; during which voyage they were constantly annoyed by their rivals of the Missouri Company; and, there quitting the river, they took a 1812.) MARCH OF HUNT AND HIS PARTY TO THE COLUMBIA.
westward course to the Rocky Mountains, which they crossed in September, 1811, near the head of the Yellowstone River. On the western side of the ridge, they found a large stream, probably the main branch of the Lewis, on which they embarked in canoes, with the expectation of thus floating down to the Falls of the Columbia ; but ere they had proceeded far in this way, they encountered so many dangers and obstructions, from falls and rapids, that they were forced to abandon the stream and resume their march. It would be needless here to attempt to describe the many evils from hunger, thirst, cold, and fatigue, which these men underwent during their wanderings through that dreary wilderness of snow-clad mountains, in the winter of 1811–12: suffice it to say, that, after several of their number had perished from one or more of these causes, the others reached Astoria in separate parties, in the first months of 1812, having spent more than a year in coming from St. Louis. At the factory they found shelter, warmth, and rest; but they had little food, until the fish began to enter the river, when they obtained abundant supplies of pilchards, of the most delicious flavor.
On the 5th of May, 1812, the ship Beaver,* commanded by Captain Sowles, arrived in the Columbia, from New York, bringing the third detachment of persons in the service of the Pacific Company, under the direction of Mr. Clarke, and twenty-six natives of
Ross Cox, who arrived at Astoria in the Beaver, in May, 1812, gives the following account of the establishment as it then appeared :
“The spot selected for the fort [Astoria] was a handsome eminence, called Point George, which commanded an extensive view of the majestic Columbia in front, bounded by the bold and thickly-wooded northern shore. On the right, about three miles distant, a long, high, and rocky peninsula, covered with timber, called Tongue Point, extended a considerable distance into the river from the southern side, with which it was connected by a narrow neck of land; while, on the extreme left, Cape Disappointment, with the bar and its terrific chain of breakers, were distinctly visible. The buildings consisted of apartments for the proprietors and clerks, with a capacious dining-hall for both; extensive warehouses for the trading goods and furs, a provision store, a trading shop, smith's forge, carpenter's shop, &c.; the whole surrounded by
a stockades, forming a square, and reaching about fifteen feet above the ground. A gallery ran around the stockades, in which loopholes were pierced, sufficiently large för musketry; two strong bastions, built of logs, commanded the four sides of the square ; each bastion had two stories, in which a number of chosen men slept every night; a six pounder was placed in the lower story of each, and they were both well provided with small arms. Immediately in front of the fort was a gentle declivity, sloping down to the river's side, which had been turned into an excellent kitchen garden ; and, a few hundred rods to the left, a tolerable wharf had been run out, by which bateaux and boats were enabled, at low water, to land their cargoes without sustaining any damage. An impenetrable forest of gigantic pines rose in the rear, and the ground was covered with a thick underwood of brier and whortleberry, intermingled with fern and honeysuckle."
the Sandwich Islands, who were engaged as seamen or laborers. The Beaver, moreover, brought from Owyhee a letter which had been left there by Captain Ebbets, of the ship Enterprise, containing positive information of the destruction of the Tonquin and her crew by the savages on the coast near the Strait of Fuca; the particulars of this melancholy affair were not, however, learned until August of the following year, when they were communicated at Astoria by the Indian who had gone in the Tonquin as interpreter, and was the only survivor of those on board the ill-fated ship.
According to this interpreter's account, the Tonquin, after quitting the river, sailed northward along the coast of the continent, and anchored, in the middle of June, 1811, opposite a village on the Bay of Clyoquot, near the entrance of the Strait of Fuca. She was there immediately surrounded by crowds of Indians in canoes, who continued for some days to trade in the most peaceable manner, so as to disarm Captain Thorne and Mr. MoKay of all suspicions. At length, either in consequence of an affront given to a chief by the captain, or with the view of plundering the vessel, the natives embraced an opportunity when the men were dispersed on or below the decks, in the performance of their duties, and in a moment put to death every one of the crew and passengers, except the interpreter, who leaped into a canoe, and was saved by some women, and the clerk, Mr. Lewis, who retreated, with a few sailors, to the cabin. The survivors of the crew, by the employment of their fire-arms, succeeded in driving the savages from the ship; and, in the night, four of them quitted her in a boat, leaving on board Mr. Lewis and some others, who were severely wounded. On the following day, the natives again crowded around and on board the Tonquin ; and while they were engaged in rifling her, she was blown up, most probably by the wounded men left below deck. The seamen who had endeavored to escape in the boat were soon retaken, and put to death in the most cruel manner, by the Indians; the interpreter was preserved, and remained in slavery two years, at the end of which time he was suffered to depart.
The loss of this ship was a severe blow to the Pacific Company; but the partners at Astoria were consoled by the reflections, that their chief could bear pecuniary damages to a far greater extent without injury to his credit, and that, if their enterprise should prove successful, ample indemnification would soon be obtained. It was therefore determined that Mr. Hunt should embark in the Beaver, to superintend the trade along the northern coasts, and visit the 1813.) WAR BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND G. BRITAIN.
Russian establishments, as Mr. Mackay would have done, but for the destruction of the Tonquin ; and he accordingly took his departure in that ship in August, 1812, leaving the superintendence of the affairs at the factory, as before, in the hands of Mr. Macdougal. A party was at the same time despatched to the upper country, by which another trading post was established on the Spokan, a stream joining the northern branch of the Columbia, about six hundred and fifty miles from the ocean; and accounts of all the transactions, to that period, were transmitted to the United States, under the care of Messrs. Crooks, Maclellan, and Robert Stuart, who recrossed the continent, and reached New York in the spring of 1813, after encountering difficulties and dangers greater, in many respects, than those undergone in their journey to the Pacific.
The trade with the Indians of the Lower Missouri was, in the mean time, going on prosperously; provisions were abundant at Astoria, and a large quantity of furs was collected there, in expectation of the arrival of the Beaver, which was to take them to Canton in the ensuing spring. The hopes of the partners were thus revived, and they had daily additional grounds for anticipating success in their undertaking, when, in January, 1813, they learned that the United States had declared war against Great Britain in June previous. This news spread an instantaneous gloom over the minds of all, which was increased by information received from a trading vessel, that the Beaver was lying at Canton, blockaded by a British ship of war : and soon afterwards, Messrs. Mactavish and Laroque, partners in the North-West Company, arrived near Astoria, with sixteen men, bringing accounts of the success of the British arms on the northern frontiers of the United States, and of the blockade of all the Atlantic coasts of the latter country by British squadrons.
Notwithstanding these circumstances, Laroque and Mactavish were received and treated by Macdougal and Mackenzie, the only partners of the Pacific Company then at Astoria, with the same attention and hospitality which had been shown to Thompson in the preceding year; and were supplied with provisions and goods for trading, as if they had been friends and allies, instead of commercial rivals and political enemies. A series of private conferences were then held between the chief persons of the two parties, at the conclusion of which, Macdougal and Mackenzie announced their determination that the company should be dissolved on the 1st of July, and sent messengers to communicate the fact to the other partners, Stuart and Clarke, at the Okinagan and Spokan posts. The latter gentleman, on receiving this news, hastened to the factory, and there strongly opposed the determination to abandon the enterprise ; and it was at length agreed among them, that the establishments should be maintained a few months longer, at the end of which time, the company should be dissolved, unless assistance were received from the United States. Three of the clerks, including Ross Cox, however, immediately quitted the concern, and, entering the service of the North-West Company, took their departure for the upper country with Laroque and Mactavish, in July.
From the United States no assistance came. The ship Lark was despatched from New York, in March, 1813, with men and goods for the Columbia ; but she was wrecked in October following, near one of the Sandwich Islands, on which the captain, Northrup, and crew succeeded in effecting a landing. The American government also determined, in consequence of the representations of Mr. Astor, to send the frigate Adams to the North Pacific, for the protection of the infant establishment; but, just as that ship was about to sail from New York, it became necessary to transfer her crew to Lake Ontario, and the blockade of the coasts of the United States by the British rendered all further efforts to convey succors to Astoria unavailing.
In the mean time, Mr. Hunt, the chief agent, who had sailed from the Columbia in the Beaver, in August, 1812, as already mentioned, visited the principal Russian establishments on the northwest coasts of America, and the adjacent islands, and collected a large quantity of furs, besides concluding arrangements highly advantageous to the Pacific Company, with Governor Baranof,* at Sitka. It was then agreed between Mr. Hunt and Captain Sowles, that the Beaver should proceed, by way of the Sandwich Islands, to Canton, instead of returning to the Columbia, as had been previously determined ; and this was done, though Hunt went no farther in her than to Woahoo, one of the Sandwich group, where he remained several months, waiting for some vessel to carry him to Astoria. At length, in June, 1813, the ship Albatross, of Boston, arrived at
* An amusing account of the negotiations between Hunt and Baranof is given in Mr. Irving's Astoria. The chief agent of the Pacific Company appears to have been in as much danger from the “potations pottle deep" of raw rum and burning punch, which accompanied each of his interviews with the governor of Russian America, as from hunger, thirst, savages, or storms, during his whole expedition.