Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The Journal of Francois Antoine Larocque


The Journal was composed in French concerning events occurring in 1805 along the Assiniboine River to the Yellowstone. A translation was offered in 1911. A few other examinations of scraps of Larocque’s journal survive but his own words capture the rawness of the early fur-trading expeditions.

The tribes referred to within are variously called “Rocky Mountain Indians,” “Assiniboine,” and the offered incident below takes place near the Little Big Horn, 71 years before the notorious battle.

The tribal combatants in the well-known battle were Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho. It is only a surmise that any of these tribes could be a portion of what is referred to in the described incident.

[See here for a further Arapaho offering.]

All escaped with the exception of two of the most advanced, who sent as spies, had drawn nearer to us than the others without perceiving us. After a long pursuit they were surrounded then killed and scalped in the twinkling of an eye. When I arrived near to the body I ascertained that the scalp and the fingers on the right hand had been taken off and that those who had done the trick had left. They borrowed my hunting knife to cut off the left hand and returned it to me all covered with blood as witness of esteem and expressed to me the desire “to […?] at him.”  Men, women, and children crowded to see the cadavers and tasted the blood. Each desired to poignard the corpse to show us what he would have done if he had met them living and to pour out then on these remains insult and outrage in a horrible language.  In a little while it became difficult to recognize in this debris that form of a human body. All the young men had attached a piece of flesh to their gun or on their spears, then they retook, while singing, the rush to the camp and showed their trophies with pride to all the young persons they met. A few women had an entire limb suspended from their saddle. The spectacle of such inhumanity made me shiver with horror and the sentiments that I had felt in setting out had made place for its state of mind very different.

The journals are rife with raw incident and ingenious scoutcraft. A treasure trove for historians, and Western genre readers who like to understand the reality behind the legend.

Resources for the Lived Side of Things.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee by David Crockett

  This 1834 volume is a fine glimpse into the mindset of a legend.   What particularly strikes, this reader at least, is the well he goe...