Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

Jim Bridger Leads by Example:

"Whenever a trapper could get hold of any sort of story reflecting on the courage of a leader, he was sure at some time to make him aware of it, and these anecdotes were sometimes sharp answers in the mouths of careless campkeepers.  Bridger was once waylaid by Blackfeet, who shot at him, hitting his horse in several places.  The wounds caused the animal to rear and pitch, by reason of which violent movements Bridger dropped his gun, and the Indians snatched it up; after which there was nothing to do except to run, which Bridger accordingly did.  Not long after this, as was customary, the leader was making a circuit of the camp examining the camp-keeper's guns, to see if they were in order, and found that of one Maloney, an Irishman, in a very dirty condition.

"What would you do," asked Bridger, "with a gun like that, if the Indians were to charge on the camp?"

"Be Jasus, I would throw it to them, and run the way ye did," answered Maloney, quickly.  It was sometime after this incident before Bridger again examined Maloney's gun."

The above story is related by Joe Meek, Rivers of the West

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