Hugh Glass was a fur trader from the 1800’s who was left with no weapons, tools or food after being mauled by a grizzly bear and left for dead by his companions. The chances of an injured Glass being able to travel 250 miles of icy rivers, predatory wildlife (which he already knew so well) and hostile Indians meant that his chances of survival were nil.
…but not zero.
Not only did Glass survive the then-untamed west, but set himself on a journey to avenge himself against the companions who had left him for dead. According to Daily Mail,
The real-life Glass — the son of Scots-Irish parents who had emigrated to Pennsylvania from Ulster — was the ‘old timer’ among a grizzled group of mountain men who joined an 1823 expedition on the upper stretches of the Missouri River, in present-day South Dakota, to collect beaver skins through trade with friendly tribes.
It was a beautiful but wild land where few if any white men had ventured.
Hostile Indians had already killed 17 of them, and Glass – a loner in his 40s who insisted on camping apart from his companions — had been wounded with a musket ball in his thigh when he foraged for food.
And then came the bear, who reportedly charged Glass and then picked him up by the throat and threw him to the ground. He managed to get a single shot into the mother bear and stab her with his knife, but the attack didn’t stop there: the grizzly “…tore off a mouthful of his flesh and lumbered back to her cubs. When he tried to escape, she attacked him again, biting deeply into his shoulder and chewing his back.”
While Glass’ companions did kill the bear, the rip in his throat left him unable to communicate and his injuries meant he was unable to walk. Rather than ditch him outright, Glass’ companions tore strips of cloth off their shirts to tend to his wounds and waited through the night, certain he’d be dead by morning.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed…he made it through the night, and then some.
The commander of their expedition had two men stay back with Glass until he passed while the rest of the team moved on due to fears of Indian attacks. However when Glass was still alive five days later the two men ditched him by a river and lied to the rest of the team, saying he’d died and they’d buried him. To add insult to life-threatening injury, they took his rifle, ammunition, knife, flint and steel.
That wasn’t enough to stop Glass though.
Still delirious as he lay by the stream, he was able to reach for water and strip berries from an overhanging bush.
A few days later, he woke to see a rattlesnake sleeping nearby and used a rock to kill it. He used the same stone to skin the snake and chop it into pieces small enough to get down his shattered throat.
Discovering he couldn’t stand and had only one good arm and leg (the other was broken), Glass realised that pursuing his companions would be impossible.
Wrapping himself in the pelt of the bear that had mangled him (his companions had skinned it and left it as his shroud), he crawled downstream towards a French fur trading post 250 miles away.
Glass cleaned most of his wounds but he couldn’t reach his back. He eventually managed by lying on a rotting log and used the maggots inside to eat his flesh before he contracted gangrene.(via)
Eventually Glass came across a group of Sioux Indians who not only tended to his injuries but guided him towards the trading post. He only stayed a day or two though – fueled by revenge, he managed to catch up to his old group by the New Year after joining another fur trapping expedition which also met their untimely demise, although this time due to Arikaras Indians.
Although Glass forgave one of the men who had deserted him after he apologised, he sought out the other, who had left the expedition and still had Glass’s treasured rifle.
Setting off in February 1824, he eventually reached Fort Atkinson in what is now Wisconsin, where he learned that the man who’d abandoned him had joined the U.S. Army.
Confronting the trapper’s commanding officer, Glass said he wanted his rifle back and intended to kill his betrayer.
…The officer warned Glass that, under U.S. law, any civilian who killed an enlisted soldier faced being hanged.
Glass had to settle for the return of his rifle and the knowledge he had shamed the man and warned him never to leave the army if he valued his life.(via)
Glass finally died in 1833 after being ambushed by a group of Arikara Indians, however his body was never found. For all we know he’s still alive today – hell, the guy survived attacks from Indians, wild animals and treachery from his own companions – the best plot twist in the world would be that he’s actually Leonardo DiCaprio and is legit immortal.
But can Glass’ story win Leo that fucking Oscar he’s been chasing for years? Only time will tell.
[H/T Daily Mail]