September 9, 1833
9 September: Nice, clear morning. At 7:30, 62°F [16.7°C]. Mr. Bodmer and I went to the hills behind the fort to paint a view of the Bears Paw and to make a sketch of the first chain of the Rocky Mountains. By nine o’ clock the heat was great in the arid prairie. The view of the Bears Paw mountain range to the north and the Rocky Mountains almost to the south was very beautiful. While we were climbing up a ravine, fifteen to twenty turkey buzzards flew up. I thought that here perhaps there might be a slain Indian left behind, for this was where the Assiniboines had recently retreated, but I could not find anything.M54Having arrived at the hilltop, we saw upriver the
Gros Ventres des Prairies moving past in a long line from the
river westward before the Rocky Mountains.
When Mr. Bodmer had opened his parasol and taken a seat beneath it, I went back to the highest point of the prairie, where I could see far around me and soon saw a long line of Indians riding toward us. Because I did not know whether they were friends or enemies, I returned, and we packed up our belongings and went to the fort. Upon our arrival here, thirty men under Harvey were just leaving to begin the work on the new fort higher up along the right bank of the Missouri. They had loaded their packs and tools on several small, two-wheeled wagons and at the same time took with them all our horses, which had no more forage here and were suffering from hunger. This detachment will be away all week and not returnuntil returnuntil Saturday. They took along the only available canoe. They are building a redoubt there from felled trees in which to spend the night, in case they should be attacked. After a good hour, the Indians still had not descended into the Missouri valley. Mr. Mitchell assumed they were the Blood Indians who were here recently, and last evening Dreidoppel had heard dogs howling in the direction of the Marias River, from where I just saw them coming this way. At noon, 68°F [20°C]. In the afternoon great progress was made on our boat. The bottom was already finished today, and all the ribs set up.
At four o’ clock Loretto arrived and announced that he had seen a large group of Indians in the northeast along the right riverbank. If they were not a remainder of the Gros Ventres, then they must be a Crow war party. I went with Mr. Mitchell and two armed men, Loretto and Morrin, up on the hill chain behind the fort. We took a telescope with us. The Indians were no longer to be seen. On the other hand, in the southwest along the right riverbank, we saw a herd of buffalo of about sixty head. We returned to the fort.
At five o’ clock it was still very warm. Blackbirds in numerous flights were swarming around in the cottonwood forest along the river. The evening was light but cool. A brisk north wind was blowing. Because so many Indians had been seen today, all of whom kept their distance from the fort, the night guard was augmented with officers. Today we did not have more than twenty-eight men in the fort. Our guns were freshly loaded with bullets. Right after nightfall a shot was fired near the river, and we were somewhat alarmed.[Page 2:261] [But] it was two of our men from the work detail who wanted to be brought over the river. They had forgotten something here and related that today they had seen seven or eight herds of buffalo. Probably [the buffalo] have been chased by the Indians and driven closer to us. An hour later a mounted Indian appeared at the gate. It was opened, and we discovered that he was sent by the Gros Ventres to announce to us that they had shot thirty head from the buffalo herd that evening and wanted to give us as much meat as we desired. The Indian asked for something to eat and lay down to sleep.