All he asked
was that the American government would throw forty or fifty men
into the fort at his establishment, which would be sufficient for
its defense until he could send reinforcements over land.
He waited in vain for a reply to this letter, the government, no
doubt, being engrossed at the time by an overwhelming crowd of
affairs. The month of March arrived, and the Lark was ordered by
Mr. Astor to put to sea. The officer who was to command her
shrunk from his engagement, and in the exigency of the moment,
she was given in charge to Mr. Northrup, the mate. Mr. Nicholas
G. Ogden, a gentleman on whose talents and integrity the highest
reliance could be placed, sailed as supercargo. The Lark put to
sea in the beginning of March, 1813.
By this opportunity, Mr. Astor wrote to Mr. Hunt, as head of the
establishment at the mouth of the Columbia, for he would not
allow himself to doubt of his welfare. "I always think you are
well," said he, "and that I shall see you again, which Heaven, I
hope, will grant."
He warned him to be on his guard against any attempts to surprise
the post; suggesting the probability of armed hostility on the
part of the Northwest Company, and expressing his indignation at
the ungrateful returns made by that association for his frank and
open conduct, and advantageous overtures.