This scene depicts an incident that Miller did not witness. It occurred after Stewart’s first trip to the rendezvous in 1833 as they were returning to St. Louis. While traveling through Crow Indian country, Thomas “Broken Hand” Fitzpatrick, the camp commander, left Stewart in charge of the camp while he visited a nearby Crow village in an effort to calm feelings against his Rocky Mountain Fur Company. While Fitzpatrick was gone, a large party of Crow warriors descended upon the traders’ camp. Although there is no evidence to support the claim, Stewart said that Antoine, the camp hunter and his companion, had overheard the Crows saying that their medicine man had warned them that they would not be victorious if they struck the first blow. Acting on that intelligence, Stewart ordered the traders to stand down while the Indians stripped the camp of all valuables. Washington Irving reports the incident in The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, U.S.A., in the Rocky Mountains and the Far West in 1837, but does not mention Antoine’s presence (Irving, 1837, 163 – 165). Stewart might have fabricated that part of the story to enhance the drama and help explain Antoine’s presence at Murthly Castle (Troccoli, 52).
This sketch was probably painted after Miller did the large commission for Stewart and is the study for the watercolor in the Walters commission
Signed LC: AJM
The artist; L. Vernon Miller; [M. Knoedler and Co., New York, NY, 1949]; Thomas Gilcrease, Tulsa, OK; present owner by gift