Buffalo Gap opened the way to the Black Hills, and [Jedediah] Smith and his men were the first known whites to penetrate these dark highlands. After threading the ridges and canyons along the southern edge of the hills, the trappers descended to the furrowed grasslands of the Powder River basin. Approaching the Crow homeland, horses giving out, Smith sent [Edward] Rose ahead to bargain for fresh horses.
Five days later the expedition nearly lost its captain. Leading the exhausted horses single file through a brushy bottom, the men spotted a big grizzly bear charging down a slope toward the center of the line. The beast turned and raced to the head of the column just as Smith emerged from a thicket. Instantly the bear pounced, seizing him and throwing him to the ground, smashing several ribs, and clawing his head.
None of the trappers claimed medical skills. But Smith directed one or two men to go for water and said, as [Jim] Clyman wrote, "If you have a needle and thread git it out and sew up my wounds around my head." It bled copiously, for the scalp had been torn nearly off and hung only by an ear. Clyman found a needle and thread, "got a pair of scissors and cut off his hair and then began my first Job of dressing wounds." He got the scalp sewed back on, but said there was nothing to be done for the ear. Smith insisted that Clyman try. He did. "I put my needle stiching it through and through and over and over laying the lacerated parts together as nice as I could with my hands." Within two weeks, Smith had recovered sufficiently to resume his captaincy, although he bore scars for the rest of his life. "This gave us a lisson on the charcter of the grissly Baare which we did not forget," observed Clyman.
(Robert M. Utley, After Lewis and Clark: Mountain Men and the Paths to the Pacific [Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2004], 55-6 [endnote omitted])