Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert
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Opening the Mojave River Trail

This Other Ilustrious Group

This other illustrious group of mountain men was also breaking the desert frontiers. Although the records are vague, this assemblage of beaver men was probably under the command of Ewing Young. Evidence points to a membership of 32 men, including James Ohio Pattie, who recorded the trip in his diary; George Yount; Thomas "Peg-leg" Smith; one of Williams Sublette's brothers; William Wolfskill; Antoine Leroux; and Manuel Rubidoux, who had the bulk of his French trappers massacred either by the "Papawars" [Papagos] Indians or the combined Maricopa-Pima forces.

After unbelievable experiences in central and southern Arizona, these men were successfully trapping along the Colorado River. On March 6, 1827, they marched directly through the first "Mohawa" village, where the women and children ran away screaming. Pattie narrated the unfortunate chain of events that followed. The trappers camped 3 miles above the village. Presently achieve demanding the horse for payment for the beavers taken on the Colorado. When the demand was instantly refused, the Indian yelled and shot an arrow in the tree. The captain of the trappers, according to Pattie, quickly raised his rifle and struck the arrow with a rifle ball. The perturbed Mojave left for the night. The next morning, Pattie continued, the "dark in sulky looking Savage" again demanded a horse. He was loud Lee refused for a second time, and as he galloped off, he threw a spear through one of the trappers worsens. The Chiefs vindictiveness lasted just a second or so, because he was promptly fell by four bullets. The Americans fortified themselves on a bluff of the Colorado River and waited out the day and night. The expected Mohave came the next morning, let fly a shower of arrows, gave a war loop, and charged. At 150 yards, the 30 or so trappers released a deadly fire. The Mohave retreated, leaving 16 dead. From March 9-12, the trappers headed north, fortifying themselves each night. Exhausted, and considering themselves safely out of the Mohave's range, they relax their vigilance on the 12th and were attacked, losing two trappers killed and two wounded. 16 arrows were in Pattie's bed, where his bed partner had been killed. The next morning, while a few trappers sadly buried the dead and took care of the wounded, 18 others mounted horses and went after the Indians. They surprise and killed a "greater part" of the band that attacked them. "We suspended those we had killed upon the trees, and left their bodies to dangle in terror to the rest, and as proof, how we retaliated to aggression."

The trappers left the sordid site and continued up the Colorado, losing three more men on an eastern stream flowing into the Colorado and some more men in the Rockies. They trapped in the southern Rockies and, on August 1, 1827, they arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. "Here disaster awaited us," said Pattie. They had their year of suffering, their 2000 mile or more track, and all their labor rewarded by the new governor, Manuel Armijo, confiscating 29 pack mules of furs-work approximately $15,000-$20,000. The pretext the governor used was that the foreign trappers did not have a proper trapping license.

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