Essays

The Will of Hugh Glass

Mountain man’s astounding 1823 saga offers an important lesson for modern Americans.

by Michael Medeiros

HUGH GLASS was born of Irish parents in Pennsylvania, and went on to explore the far West in the early 1800s. One day on one of his travels, a mother grizzly bear, mistakenly thinking him a threat to her cubs, and well-concealed by deep grass and brush, attacked and tore a chunk of flesh from Hugh Glass’ neck and lacerated one of his legs and hands after Hugh got a bit too close.

The men who came to Hugh’s aid were certain that he was within minutes of death: he was horribly mangled, had suffered an incredible loss of blood, and his neck was blowing red bubbles with every breath. As the time passed, and Glass didn’t pass on, Major Andrew Henry, having serious obligations elsewhere, offered a reward to any two men who would stay with Hugh until he finally died. A 19-year-old named Jim Bridger and an older man named John Fitzgerald ended up being these two men.

Initially expecting only to have to wait a few hours at the most before leaving to rejoin their company, they were forced to hang around the seemingly broken Glass (no pun intended) for days — increasing the odds of being discovered by savage Indians who wouldn’t hesitate to take their scalps along with Hugh’s. Finally, Bridger and Fitzgerald decided that Hugh had absolutely no chance of survival and that the two of them shouldn’t risk sacrificing their own lives for a soon-to-be corpse. Since nobody on the frontier would ever leave useful items for the Indians to scavenge, they took Hugh’s goods — including his knife and beloved rifle.

Hugh tried his best, despite his condition, to get them to leave his belongings, but this effort failed — and Bridger and Fitzgerald were soon gone. The taking of his goods accomplished two things: It gave Hugh a goal, and a “vitalizing rage” to help him accomplish this goal. This goal was not to save his own life, but to regain his trusty rifle — and kill its abductors in the process. (The rifle was, to the Western frontiersman, a companion more constant and dear than dogs or even horses.) Hugh, “warmed by hate,” began crawling to the Missouri River.

Wolves stole his buffalo robe, exposing Hugh to the chills of night. He subsisted almost entirely on roots and berries, but once ate the raw remains of a bison after the wolves that killed it were done feasting. He dealt with hostile Indians. He walked 200-300 miles in the dead of winter — just to get to one particular location, not his total trip! Upon getting to Fort Henry (his intended destination), he found it to be deserted, and so made his way south where he finally encountered the young Bridger. Mercy was the order of the day, and instead of death, Bridger received a lecture, with Hugh choosing to save his rage for Fitzgerald. Hugh met up with a trio of dispatchers sent by Major Henry, and accompanied them on their trip. The foursome met up with yet more hostile Indians, and Hugh was the only one to escape with his life.

Eventually, Hugh Glass found out that Fitzgerald was located at Fort Atkinson. Upon arriving at the fort, Hugh asked a Captain Bennet Riley if he (Hugh) could execute Fitzgerald. The Captain, naturally, didn’t allow this, but did obtain and return Hugh’s rifle. The desire for Fitzgerald’s head on a plate quickly disappeared after Hugh’s adored rifle was back in his hands.

Hugh Glass spent nine months, traveling many hundreds of miles, facing down death via Indians and bears, in order to reclaim a rifle. A rifle!

Are you, dear reader, afraid – for whatever reason – to speak out against anti-White policies and people? Are you afraid that “Big Brother” might find out that you’ve thought Politically Incorrect thoughts at one time or another in your life and you might lose some precious income stream? What does that make you? Are you afraid there’s nothing lil’ ol’ you can do to make a Whiter, brighter future? What does that say about your estimation of yourself? Are you afraid that the National Alliance’s task is a daunting one? To achieve great things one must sometimes take great risks — or have you forgotten that? Are you afraid that our enemies will call you names? What have we come to if such a fear deserves a moment’s consideration, when all future generations of our people are at stake?

Think of the fears listed above and any other fears that might prevent you from doing right — being called names, losing your job, etc. Then think of what it must have been like to nearly bleed to death from a bear attack, avoid Indians intent on getting a White man’s scalp, travel on foot over hundreds of miles in the dead of winter — all for a rifle. Then think about what you need to do to overcome your fears and do right as well as acquire a will as strong as Hugh Glass’s — and do it!

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Source: Author

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Frank C Griffin
Frank C Griffin
19 April, 2020 10:09 am

Absolutely excellent article … who doesn’t know the Hugh Glass story? What a way to start the day and a brilliant application! Thank You

Arvin N. Prebost
Arvin N. Prebost
19 April, 2020 11:23 am

Hugh Glass, Simon Kenton, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett—–why would anyone read about them when they can read about real heroes such as Rosa Parks, Harvey Milk, or Barack Obama’s wife ( whatever her name is) ?

Arvin N. Prebost
Arvin N. Prebost
Reply to  Arvin N. Prebost
19 April, 2020 11:42 am

PS—the movie version of “The Revenant,” with Leonardo Cappuccino, has, I am told ( I did not see the movie) , a scene where some injuns help Hugh Glass and nurse him back to health. I do not recall this being in the book at all. Apparently not historical.

Geli
Geli
19 April, 2020 11:52 pm

I took from the article that determination and focus towards your heart’s desire can give us the fortitude and passion for a greater good. If a rifle—an inanimate object—gave Glass the strength to fight the elements to survive through his physical pain, hunger, threats of beasts (Indians) and animals (wolves) than it gave him the will to live on. It encouraged him to succeed, without taking notice the many obstacles that he encountered. He had only one thought and nothing could dissuade him otherwise. He also taught us mercy and forgiveness to those who did him wrong. All he wanted was his rifle. The article is a perfect metaphor for our modern day society. We can certainly apply this to our lives, and without realizing we actually do. It’s the… Read more »

Joe
Joe
22 April, 2020 10:12 am

There’s a great movie from the 1970s called, “Man In The Wilderness” starring Richard Harris about this very story. The names are changed, but it’s a very good film. The soundtrack is good, too.