Hugh Glass – The True Story behind the movie ‘The Revenant’

By Narendra V


Hugh Glasshugh-glass

Hugh Glass was an American hunter, fur trapper,  fur trader, explorer whose story of survival still inspires millions of people and his story has been made into two feature films namely Man in the Wilderness, The Revenant. In an expedition of fur trapping leaded by General Ashley he was attacked by a grizzly bear and has been abandoned by his fellow explorers, then his struggle for survival and how he reached American settlement is what made him famous hero and a legend of folklore.

Early Life

Glass was born to Irish parents in Pennsylvania in 1783. His parents were immigrated from Ireland. It is his ancestry which is also a contributing factor for his survival. Normally Irish climatic and geographical conditions make Irish people to withstand harsh conditions. At an young age he was forced by some pirates to join their group, he spent some years as a pirate. He escaped from them to reach the shore. He was captured by Native Americans and he spent several years with them.

General Ashley’s expedition

General William Henry Ashley who planned to go on fur trapping expedition in1823 wanted men for that expedition and has advertised in Missouri gazette. Glass joined with other mountain men for the expedition. They went upwards along the banks of Missouri river, there they have been attacked by Native American warriors and some of the members wounded including Glass. Then they decided to take detour and traveled through Yellowstone River.

Bear attack

On the banks of river a grizzly bear attacks Glass breaks his leg, punctures his throat, rips his scalp, and while he is screaming for help his fellow explorers comes to his rescue and shot the bear dead. General Ashley reaches there and they come to a conclusion that he won’t survive those injuries. He orders his men that two of them must look after him until his death and make proper Christian burial. John Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger come forward for the task. Then rest of the expedition moves on with their journey. For two days they looked over him, and then they thought by each passing day they will be far away from their group and they never make it to their expedition. Fitzgerald convinced Bridger to abandon Glass, they dug a shallow grave put Glass inside and went away with his arms and supplies. They went to Ashley and conveyed him wrong information of Glass being died.

When Glass wakes up he sees nobody is there and his belongings missing, angry with the men who left him to die. He gained all his energy and set his broken leg bone up wrapped it with bear hide starts to crawl in the freezing cold to nearby spring. Then he continues his journey crawling and limping with revenge in his mind for Fitzgerald and Bridger. He eats what was available like roots, wild berries including rattle snakes. Against all odds like hunger, chilling temperatures, broken leg, infected wounds, without any weapon in the wilderness he travels. On the way he makes crude raft and began to travel in Cheyenne River. He meets Native Americans who help him with food and weapons. He travels nearly 200 miles to reach nearby American settlement Fort Kiowa, the journey took him six weeks.

After recovering from wounds he went to pursue John Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger. He meets Bridger but forgives him because of his young age. Then he joins Ashley’s group again and comes to know that Fitzgerald joined army and he drops his plan of killing him as killing an army man would attract death penalty.

He further continues his expeditions of fur trapping. In one such expedition in 1833 he was killed by Native American Arikara warriors in a battle.

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