Hugh Glass was a famous fur trapper and American frontiersman. He is considered a folk hero and an icon of the American frontier life. He was famously attacked by a grizzly bear and was left for dead by his companions. He somehow survived and crawled hundreds of miles until he reached a safe place.
Both the ‘Man in the Wilderness’ and ‘The Revenant’ are based on Glass’s life story. They depict his struggle to survive. The origin of Glass’s story is shrouded in mystery. According to various sources, it was first published in the Port Folio and was later taken up by several newspapers.
Hugh Glass was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His life before the grizzly bear attack could not be verified. It was reported that he had been captured by pirates and stayed with them for two years. The pirates were led by Jean Lafitte.
Glass supposedly escaped from them by swimming to the shore of Galveston, Texas. According to legend, he was captured by the Pawnee Tribe and stayed with them for a long time. In 1821, he traveled with Pawnee delegates who were invited by the U.S.A. authorities to St. Louis, Missouri.
In 1822, a large number of people responded to General Ashley’s advertisement of exploring the Missouri River. Several men such as James Beckwourth, John S. Fitzgerald, David Jackson, William Sublette, Jim Bridger, Thomas Fitzpatrick, and Jedediah Smith joined.
They all earned stellar reputations and were called the mountain men. Glass joined General Ashley’s expedition in 1823. The group was attacked by Arikara warriors and Glass got shot in the leg while the rest of the survivors retreated and called for help.
Ashley and his party returned to Fort Kiowa and started preparing for their trip to the West. They went towards the Yellowstone River. While examining the area, Glass accidentally disturbed a grizzly bear. It attacked and severely injured him. The party determined that Glass won’t survive.
Nevertheless, they did try to carry him with them. However, it slowed down their pace. The group then decided to leave two people behind to perform Glass’s final rites. John S. Fitzgerald and Bridges volunteered for this.
Soon, they abandoned him and took all the supplies. Upon reaching the party, both of them lied and stated that Glass died. However, Hugh was alive, and despite his injuries, he traveled 200 miles. He survived on wild berries and roots. To prevent infection, Glass used maggots.
Once Glass recovered, he started tracking Fitzgerald and Bridges. He went to Fort Henry but found it empty and discovered that the whole group had relocated to another base around the Bighorn River. Glass found Bridges and after hearing the story determined that Fitzgerald was the main culprit.
He then forgave Bridges and rejoined Ashley’s company. He then traveled to Fort Atkinson but was not allowed to meet Fitzgerald. However, the army captain listened to Glass’s story and returned his rifle.
Glass and two of his companions were attacked by Arikara. They died in 1833 on the Yellowstone River. His monument is located at the grizzly bear site.