Explorer of the Week: Hugh Glass

Hugh Glass (1783-1833) was an American frontiersman and hunter who traveled along the Mississippi River under General William Henry Ashley on a fur trading venture. Soon after leaving St. Louis in March of 1822, the group began trading peacefully with the Arikaras, a native American tribe. After the deals were done, the group was attacked leaving twelve dead and dozens, including Glass, injured. Set back and still in danger, the group set out for a fur-trading fort about 300 miles away. The group continued to have to fend off attacks and thus stealthily made their way towards the fort to try and avoid further ambushes. While searching for food, Glass stumbled upon a Grizzly bear and her cubs. The bear charged him but Glass fought back, killing the bear but leaving him severely mauled and unconscious. Winter was approaching and the group had to keep going for their safety, leaving Jim Bridger and John Fitgerald to watch over Glass as he returned to health. Bridger and Fitzgerald quickly abandoned Glass, taking all of his food and belongings, leaving Glass in a shallow grave. Glass woke up days later, setting his own broken leg and supposedly letting maggots eat the dead flesh of his wounds to stop from getting gangrene. He had nothing but soon made his way across hundreds of miles of wilderness, driven by his yearning for the revenge of Bridger and Fitzgerald for abandoning him. Glass made it to Fort Kiowa where he found both Bridger and Fitzgerald but decided instead to forgive them. Glass continued to fur trap but died nearly ten years later in another encounter with the Native Americans. Now, Glass’ legendary legacy lives on and is encapsulated in the 2015 film, “The Revenant” and the 1971 film “The Man in the Wilderness.”