By Don. A Berry
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Additional info for A Majority of Scoundrels: An Informal History of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company
Franklin was in the Boone’s Lick country; on the opposite bank from Franklin a small collection of shacks dignified itself with the name Boonville. At this time Franklin was the farthest west outpost of civilization, 205 miles above the mouth of the Missouri. Beyond this were only occasional posts, and the newcomers could consider themselves in the wilderness now. Early in May, Henry reached Fort Atkinson, the army post a little north of present Omaha, and stopped there briefly. Farther upriver some of the men—"general1y speaking untried"—began to lose heart.
Unfortunately, he came back to report, Stephens' eyes had been put out, the body decapitated and "otherwise mangled" so badly it was not worth the effort. This news doubtless did little to improve the morale of the party isolated on the beach. By now it was almost dawn. The Aricaras opened intensive fire from behind the palisades as the sun rose. They raked the exposed beach, and in a few minutes most of the horses had been killed and many of the men, The remainder found what shelter they could behind the corpses of the animals, and tried to return the fire.
Here, in St. Louis, the rivermen were still French, but a slightly different breed. They were the keelboatmen, who pushed, pulled, and generally muscled a fully loaded keelboat a thousand miles or more up one of the most treacherous rivers known to man. The effort was fantastic; it astonished every traveler who saw it for the first time; it seemed only barely possible. For the rivermen—eh, bien, il faut qu’an manger, tu suis? It was how they made their living. They shared with their fréres du nord their roistering gaiety and coxcombry, their ruffling and strutting, and also their reputation for absolute and unequivocal cowardice.
A Majority of Scoundrels: An Informal History of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company by Don. A Berry