Ogden's position was quickly eroding. Gardner informed his trappers that
they had no further obligation to the Hudson's Bay Company. He offered
each employee high wages of $3.50 a beaver and cheap goods if they would
join the Americans. The offer was hard to refuse. Ogden's overcharged
and underpaid men had little loyalty to the company. Several Iroquois
and one French trapper, deserters who had joined the Americans a year
earlier, visited the tents of Ogden's trappers to encourage them to
desert the British company. Convinced by their stories, some men began
taking down their tents and preparing to leave. One of them, John Grey,
an Iroquois trapper, told Ogden, "You have dealt fair with me and with
all of us. But go we will....If every man in the camp does not leave
you, they seek not their own interest."
the they left camp, some of the deserters took with them company horses
and supplies. Ogden accused the men of theft and tried to seize the
horses. As the atmosphere grew more tense, Gardner announced that he was
prepared to defend any deserter. Then, an Iroquois who had left the
Hudson's Bay Company in 1822 shouted, "We are superiors in numbers!
Let's fire and pillage them!" Some of Gardner's men pointed guns at
Ogden while the deserters left camp.