By Don. A Berry
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Additional info for A Majority of Scoundrels: An Informal History of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company
The river did not break until April 4, 1823. Eleven trappers of the Musselshell winter camp left on the 6th, and continued the ascent of the river in two canoes, headed for Three Forks. The rest returned to Fort Henry at the Yellowstone, including Fink and friends. The canoe party worked up past Judith River and Marias River, trapping as they went. By the middle of May they had reached the mouth of the Smith River (about twelve miles upstream from present Great Falls, Montana). A party of only eleven men, penetrating the very heart of Blackfoot territory; this was tempting the Fates a bit too much, and it is surprising that Henry permitted it, in light of his own earlier experience.
The cable of the other boat was cut, and it followed. They dropped back down the river as far as the first grove of timber (probably the head of Ashley Island, a short distance below) and made a landing. Now Ashley tried to restore things to order and make sense of the confusion.
Ashley had to wait, specifically, for guns, and may even have had trouble obtaining the Enterprize itself. The various companies were snapping up boats all up and down the river, as far as 150 miles from St. Louis. Berthold, Pratte and Chouteau, the "French Fur Company" were organizing a party which, while not directly competitive with Ashley in area to be worked, was certainly competition in purchasing supplies. A new company, Columbia Fur, made up of Americans and ex-Nor’westers from Canada, was planning to work around the Mandans, approaching from the east via the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers.
A Majority of Scoundrels: An Informal History of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company by Don. A Berry