THE ABBREVIATED JOURNALS OF THE LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION:
Fort Mandan, ND to the Missouri River Breaks, MT
April 7, 1805 - May 24, 1805
NOTE: The following is an abbreviated summary for each day of the Lewis and Clark journey, combining the journal entries of Lewis, Clark, Ordway, Floyd, Gass and Whitehouse into one seamless account. As much as possible, the original thoughts were retained. In cases of quotes or unique information, the individual who made the statement is added in parenthesis (). The original journal entries have also been corrected for spelling, grammar and readability. Click to view the journals in their original state.
The Corps of Discovery officially began their journey to the Pacific on May 14, 1804 and returned to St. Louis, MO on September 23, 1806.
A windy day. At 4 p.m., with “every arrangement necessary for...departure,” the captains dismissed the barge, with orders to the crew (six corpsmen, two Frenchmen and an Arikara Indian) to immediately return to St. Louis. Two additional French hunters accompanied the barge. Richard Warfington put in charge of the barge, which carried “dispatches to the government, letters to our private friends, and number of articles to the President of the United States.” One of Frenchmen aboard is Joseph Gravelines, their Arikara interpreter. He piloted the barge and took some Arikara chiefs to St. Louis and eventually Washington D.C.
At the same moment, Lewis and Clark headed upriver. Lewis decided to walk on the north side for exercise (six miles) and wanted to meet with the Mandan chief Black Cat, but he wasn’t home. The party headed to the Pacific included the sergeants (John Ordway, Nathaniel Prior and Patrick Gass), privates (William Bratton, John Colter, Reubin and Joseph Fields, John Shields, George Gibson, George Shannon, John Potts, John Collins, Joseph Whitehouse, Richard Windsor, Alexander Willard, Hugh Hall, Silas Goodrich, Robert Frazier, Peter Cruzatte, Jean Baptist LaPage.Francis Labiche, Hugh McNeal, William Werner, Thomas P. Howard, Peter Weiser, John B. Thompson), interpreters (George Drouillard, Toussaint Charbonneu), plus Clark’s servant York and the “Indian woman wife to Charbonneau (Sacagawea), and a Mandan “who had promised...to accompany us as far as the [Shoshone] Indians” to open a conversation between the Mandans, Assiniboine and Hidatsa.
Around 9 a.m., George Drouillard brought four Arikara Indians, including two chiefs, to Lewis and Clark. They told the captains their party of ten had come to the Mandan Villages in the name of peace. They had a letter from Mr. Tabeau (who lives with them) that said three Sioux chiefs and some Arikaras desired to take the barge and headjk to St. Louis, then Washington, D.C.
The Corps had six small canoes and two large pirogues. They camped opposite the first Mandan Village, which lied on the south side of the Missouri and contained 300 lodges. The Indians successfully farm many kinds of vegetables (lettuce, mustard), gooseberries and currants. Ordway noted the Mandans “are in general peaceable [and] well-disposed people—and have less of the savage nature in them, than any other Indians [the Corps] met [to date].” The Mandans enjoy long life spans, some reaching 100 years of age. The captains, Drouillard, Charbonneau, Sacagawea and “Pomp” slept in a buffalo skin tipi. 4 miles.
Lewis wrote in his journal: “This little fleet although not quite so respectable as those of Columbus or Capt. Cook were still viewed by us with as much pleasure as those deservedly fame adventurers ever beheld theirs, and I dare say with quite as much anxiety for their safety and preservation. We were now about to penetrate a country at least two thousand miles in width, on which the foot of civilized man had never trodden; the good or evil it had in store for us was for experiment yet to determine, and these little vessels contained every article by which we were to expect to subsist or defend ourselves...I [have\ most confident hope of succeeding in a voyage which had formed a darling project of mine for the last ten years of my life. I could but esteem this moment of our departure as among the most happy of my life. The party are in excellent health and spirits, zealously attached to the enterprise, and anxious to proceed; not a whisper of murmur or discontent to be heard among them, but all act in unison, and with the most perfect harmony.”
Departed early with a strong northwest wind against the party. There’s still snow on the hills and ice on the river bank. The current is swift. Lewis walked ahead on shore and visited with the Mandan chief Black Cat. Around noon Lewis learned one of the new canoes was in “distress” and sinking The vessel filled with water, and everything was soaked. Among the losses were biscuit flour and 30 pounds of gunpowder (which they hoped to dry out). The Corps passed two Hidatsa villages, the mouth of the Knife River and eventually camped on a high bluff. A Mandan man brought an Indian woman to their camp “who was extremely solicitous” to travel with one of the men in the party, but the captains sent her back home but allowed the Mandan to continue with them. 14 miles.
The departed at dawn, traveled five miles and stopped for breakfast. The Mandan who planned to travel with the Corps as far as the Shoshone now informed the captains he was done (and returned to his village). The men observed a great number of brant, ducks and geese. Clark spotted the first mosquito (Ordway: “mosquitoes begin to suck our blood this afternoon”). He also walked ashore and spotted an animal like the prairie dog except smaller (it was the gopher). He also saw the maple, elm and cottonwood were in bloom. Lewis noted how gopher created holes and lived underground. The Corps passed yellow clay and sand bluffs, with strata of “carbonated wood,” that were a hundred feet high (suggesting fires in the past). Sacagawea rustled up wild artichokes for the evening meal. They also passed another Hidatsa village (with about 30 earth and timber lodges). The men trapped a beaver. The camped on the north side. 23.5 miles.
Left early. It’s cool and calm. They “had rapid water and a great many sand-bars” (Gass). Passed several Hidatsas who gathered to watch the Corps pass. Clark walked ashore for several hours and observed a herd of antelope (but was unable to shoot one). He also saw Canadian geese, eagles and swans. Clark shot a prairie hen and one of the men killed a bald eagle. The mosquitoes are “very troublesome.” Around 1 p.m. they passed three French hunters trapping beaver (they had already caught twelve [“some of the best I have ever seen,” claimed Clark]). Ordway spotted a “very large” grizzly bear track. They like traveling near or with the Corps for the protection they receive from the Assiniboine. Their plan is to accompany the Corps as far as the mouth of the Yellowstone (and then head up that river). The party camped on a willow point on the north side. 18.5 miles
Departed at first light. The day was clear and pleasant. A gentle breeze helped sail the large pirogues upriver. In the afternoon it was very warm. Some of the men worked in their underwear. Clark and Drouillard walked ashore searching for fresh meat. Lewis noted the area was hunted down by the Hidatsa tribes. Nevertheless, Drouillard killed a deer for breakfast, plus a couple beaver. Clark came across fresh bear tracks. The men enjoyed the venison steaks (plus beaver tails with biscuits), mostly due to not eating fresh meat for several days. The biscuits were made from the flour that got soaked a few days earlier. Lewis noted the gunpowder was mostly restored from the accident too. They continue to spot places that have been burnt, containing lava rock and coal (smelling of sulfer). They camped on the south side shore next to a tall cottonwood stand, and that evening spotted a hunting party of Hidatsa, with horses and dogs. A couple geese were killed. 19 miles.
The Corps departed early. In the afternoon the wind kicked up and was “violent” (with thunder and rain). At one point the Corps had to avoid a falling bank. The red pirogue still crossed to close to this bank for Lewis’ comfort (who feared it would be sunk in the strong current, losing all its precious cargo). However, it was too late for retreat, so the men pressed forward and got the pirogue through the dangerous stretch. Ten hunters were sent out to procure fresh meat (deer, bald eagle). Clark walked the shore and killed a hare. He also spotted magpie, grouse, larks and crows. The men saw a lot of beaver, and Drouillard shot a large one swimming in the river. The meat tasted great with small onions they found on the plains near their camp. The area continued to be hunted down by the Hidatsa. They passed a river they named the “Little Missouri” (134 yards wide at the mouth, but only a couple feet deep). Navigating the river is difficult (and only by canoe) with its “rapidity, shoals and sand bars.” They camped after only a few hours on a “beautiful elevated plain on the lower side” to scout the area and catalogue the various wood, plants and animals. The men examined the canoes and found mice had already invaded their bags, eating their corn and parched meal. 4 miles.
The Corps set out at 6 a.m. A clear, pleasant and warm day. Lewis was disappointed in his “observations for longitude” taken yesterday. The wind was in their favor and so they hoisted sails on the white pirogue “which carried her at a pretty good gate” (Lewis). Around 2 p.m. a burst of wind twisted the pirogue and pushed her suddenly to one side, alarming Charbonneau (who was steering). In his attempt to right, he overcorrected and nearly capsized the vessel. Lewis ordered Drouillard to take the helm and bring down the sails (which instantly calmed the pirogue). The white pirogue carried some of their most valuable materials, including instruments, journals, medicine and Indian gifts. Lewis noted that Sacagawea, the baby and three of the men (including Charbonneau) who couldn’t swim were onboard, and they were lucky to escape the situation. The waves were high and they were 200 yards from nearest shore.
The men continue to catch and shoot beaver. So much beaver that the French hunters decided to stay in the area. They also spied buffalo and elk in the distance, as well as numerous decayed buffalo carcasses (the result of drowning by falling through the ice). Grizzly bear tracks are also abundant...and enormous. “The men...are anxious to meet [the grizzly]. The Indians give a very formidable account of the strength and ferocity of this animal, which they never dare to attack but in parties of six, eight or ten persons; and are even then frequently defeated...” (Lewis). Two Hidatsa were killed last winter in a grizzly attack. These bears don’t run. In fact the Indians treat them like a warring tribe before hunting them. They paint themselves and perform rituals for war.
The men also spotted more bald eagles, hawks, geese and brant. They found a Canadian goose nest very high in a tree (60 feet). One of the men climbed the tree but was disappointed to find only a single egg. The men killed two antelope swimming in the Missouri but their proved lean and gaunt. They camped that night on a beautiful plain thirty feet above the river. 23.5 miles.
The Corps left early. It’s a clear and pleasant day. The men observed pumice floating downriver in great quantities. A lost Indian (black) dog wandered into camp and hung around. The Corp passed a hill that resembled a large haystack that was “white as chalk.” Clark walked on shore and explored the “timbered bottom” on the north side. He found several uninhabited Indian lodges and two more recent encampments of the Assiniboine. They suspect Assiniboine because they found evidence of rum (keg hoops) and this tribe tended to be “passionately fond” of this “spiritous liquor.” The Assiniboine often trade meat, grease and wolf/fox skins with the British for “small kegs of rum.” Then they transport it back to their camps to “revel with their friends” and family...even women and children indulge and “are all seen drunk together.” Lewis noted that drunkenness was “a matter of exultation” for the men, meaning the more a person was drunk the better hunter he was. The Assiniboine, in their “customs, habits and dispositions” resemble the Sioux, a distant cousin tribe. They even lodge in a tipi and not an earthen home (like the Mandan and Hidatsa). It seemed they have left the area due to its lack of game.
The Missouri is wide and like the Ohio in its current. Lewis noted the “many aromatic herbs” (sagebrush) that spread across the plain, as well as the various minerals. Lewis shot an elk but it was “so poor [gaunt] that it was unfit for use.” Clark killed a bull buffalo for dinner, but it was also gaunt (so they ate its marrow and a bit of its meat). Frazier shot a buffalo and “took the best of the meat on board” (Ordway). In his exploration Clark spotted two grizzlies running away after Lewis fired to kill his elk. They ran into a prairie dog village, plus magpies and geese. Clark noted how the geese and magpie nest in trees in this area. The captains named a creek they passed and camped near after Charbonneau, because he had previously spent time at this place. It was the furthest any “white man had ever ascended” the Missouri in history. 14 miles
Departed at early hour and made good mileage thanks to a stiff southeast wind. Lewis took a pre-breakfast walk ashore while Clark remained with the boats. It was a rule to always have a captain with the vessels. Lewis walked about six miles through the “bottoms,” finding a brackish pond where he heard frogs croaking for the first time. He also spotted geese and sharp-tailed grouse (killing a goose for breakfast), as well as deer and elk (who “were remarkably shy”). After breakfast, Clark walked the shore and witnessed a “beautiful open fertile plain.” He also found another mineral-rich creek but noted that he had “not seen one drop of water fit for use above Fort Mandan” save the Knife, Little Missouri and Missouri river proper. The men saw buffalo, elk, black and grizzly bears (Clark almost shot one). On his walk, Clark also found several former camps of the Assiniboine, including a pen they used to catch antelope (he named the nearby creek as “Goat Pen Creek.” The Indian dog continues to follow the Corps. They camped on a large sand beach on the south side. 23 miles
Departed at dawn to a clear and pleasant morning (although heaps of ice remained along the shoreline). Clark walked on shore and killed a small antelope for breakfast, plus he saw buffalo, elk and deer. The beaver is abundant, as are the geese. There is more “timbered land” in this area (and the trees are blooming), plus a lot of petrified wood. Around 8:30 a.m. he rejoined the Corps. Colter trapped a large beaver. They passed three small creeks on the south side of the river and stopped around 7 p.m. to camp on the south side. 18 miles
Left at first light on a “delightful” morning and a good wind for sailing. The Corps passed several burnt hills with “large quantities of lava and pumice stone.” Clark walked ashore and stayed away all day, returning around 6 p.m. near sunset. They are now seeing much more game (buffalo, elk, antelope, swan, geese and ducks). They also saw many bear tracks, but few bears. They are “extremely wary and shy” (running away from them so quickly they can’t even get a shot off). So far, Lewis wrote, “the Indian account of them does not correspond with our experience so far.” Lewis killed a buffalo for lunch but, again, the meat was “unfit for use” and he took only the tongue. The men continue to trap beaver for fresh meat (and prefer it). “I eat very heartily of the beaver,” Lewis penned, “and think it t is excellent; particularly the tail and liver.” The Corps saw very recent evidence of Indians in the area, most likely Assiniboine. A “thunder gust” (no rain) blew through in the evening. The men camped on a large sand beach. One of the men caught several small catfish. 26 miles
The Corps left at sunrise. Two men caught a beaver, on leg in each of their traps, sparked a fight that needed breaking up. After breakfast, Clark explored the hill above the shore (walking upstream about two miles) while the Corps used toe lines to move the boats upstream. He took Charbonneau, Sacagawea, and “Pomp” with him, eventually leaving them to hunt. He returned with nice young bull elk and a deer. They butchered the meat and waited for the Corps to arrive. Lewis also walked on share but stayed with the boats. He spotted a “species of pea” with a flower in bloom, as well as sun-bleached, pure white buffalo hair hanging from the thorny stems of wild roses. Lewis felt the buffalo wool—silkier and softer than sheep wool—would make “excellent cloth.” The wild cherries are in bloom.
Between 1 and 5 p.m., the Corps was delayed due to high winds, which kept filling the canoes with water. Lewis tied the canoes to the shoreline and used the two large pirogues as an outer wall to break the water against them. In the early evening they proceeded on and found Clark (with Charbonneau, Sacagawea and Pomp) ahead with an elk and deer waiting for them. They boarded with the butchered meat, and continued until near dark until they found a small “harbor” of trees on the south side to shelter from the wind. Two men went upriver to set beaver traps and ran into a bear. A couple geese were killed. One of the corpsmen climbed a tree to get two bald eagle’s eggs. 13 miles
High winds continued to blow and prevented launching the canoes, so the Corps stayed put. Gass explored a nearby hill and found a petrified log (perfect for making whetstones). The men killed an elk, beaver and three geese. Some of the men caught several small catfish. They also “robbed several nests of their eggs” (Ordway). There’s more sign of bear.
The winds were still hard, but not as violent as the day before. Consequently the Corps departed just before 7 a.m. Lewis walked the shoreline while Clark remained with the vessels. He saw rich and fertile land timbered with cottonwood, box elder, ash and elm. He noted hyssop, willow, rose bushes, honeysuckle, gooseberry, currant and other berries. He also found old Indian camps, including a scaffold lifted seven feet above the ground with various personal articles (moccasins, beaver nails, dried roots, Mandan tobacco). On the ground laid an Indian corpse—likely blown off the scaffold--and a dead dog nearby. It was an Indian burial custom of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Assiniboine to transport the deceased (by dog sleigh), hang them high with articles and foods they needed for the afterlife. Then they would sacrifice the decease’s favorite horse or dog, believing it would service them in the next world. Clark also spotted several Indian burial scaffolds on the south shoreline.
The wind continued to blow very hard, so Lewis returned to the river to find Clark and the Corps stopped again. Not long after departure the men passed a riverbank that collapsed suddenly and nearly swamped one of the canoes. The high winds and waves were too much risk. The white pirogue and several canoes took on water several times but fortunately none of their baggage was ruined (and anything wet was set out to dry).
The cold, frosty morning produced some snow in the early afternoon. The fog was also thick. Consequently, after a few miles of fighting the river, Clark called it a day and the men set their camp under a high, well-timbered bank on the south side. Clark also ordered four hunters to find fresh meat, which they did (three elk, four geese, two deer, six beaver). Other men found a number of goose eggs. On his hike, Lewis also killed two white-tail deer. The meat remains gaunt (“poor”) and, without much fat, not very tasty. Nevertheless, the men’s “good health and appetites make up every necessary deficiency” and they eat to their heart’s content. The good news is they plenty of game to feast upon now. 6.5 miles
The Corps left at dawn. It’s yet another frosty morning and day of wind. Clark walked the shore and witnessed immense herds of buffalo, elk, deer and antelope (as well as geese, ducks and swans). Clark killed a buffalo and four deer on his hike, while Lewis’ party (from their boats) shot three deer, four buffalo calves and two beaver. They found the buffalo veal particularly tasty. The high plains were now treeless, as far as the eye could see. But there was game everywhere the men looked, particularly elk and buffalo. They just weren’t as easy to stalk without cover. The wind blew so hard in the evening hours the party had to halt momentarily. The Corps finally made camp after dark near the present-day Little Muddy River in North Dakota. 16.5 miles
April 22: It’s another frigid, frosty morning. The Corps left at dawn and proceeded in good time until breakfast, when the wind kicked up again. It blew so hard they had to use toe lines from shore to ascend the river. They delayed once for dinner and to wait out the wind, but eventually stopped altogether. Lewis and Clark hike the nearby terrain and observed more of the Little Muddy River. It’s a clearer river than the Missouri with steep and muddy banks, that’s reportedly navigable (according to the Indians) to its source in Saskatchewan. Lewis climbed a bluff and got the view of his life. Although there was not a single tree or brush in sight, he spied herds of buffalo, elk, deer and antelope “feeding in one common and boundless pasture.” Ordway penned “at one view nearly one thousand animals” were seen, and they were not “very wild” (as they could be approached within a 100 yards). The men also saw abundant beaver—large and fat—and killed several for supper.
While walking the shore in the evening, a buffalo calf “attached itself” to Lewis and followed him closely until Seaman alarmed it with his bark. Clark informed the captain that he saw wolves chasing buffalo earlier until they brought down a calf that got separated from the herd. They camped on the south side in a river bottom. 11 miles
Left at dawn, but once again (around 9 a.m.) the wind became so violent they had to stop. With no trees on either side of the river, there’s no cover or shield. Some of the canoes took on water and several bags were wet. Lewis ordered the men to dry everything out. They remained in place until around 5 p.m. when they reloaded and continued upstream as long as the daylight allowed. Clark explored the shore during the day, walking far ahead of the boats. He eventually returned downstream in the evening, figuring the winds had stopped the party once again. Fortunately Clark returned with three mule deer and buffalo calf (which made a good meal for the day). Both captains were growing concerned about the constant high winds. It’s too risky to move boats with them. In fact, the winds were a “serious source of detention to [the Corps],” Lewis penned in his journal. They camped in a river bottom, shielded by a few trees, on the north side. 13.5 miles
Another very windy day. So windy that the Corps could not move. Even with the high timber to shield them, the wind still caused waves so bad that loading the boats was impossible (without getting baggage wet). The captains sent out hunters who killed four deer and two elk. One of the hunters also caught six coyote pups and brought them back to camp. The major complaint in the party is sore eyes, from sand blowing in the wind. In some cases the wind whips up the sand so bad they can’t see the opposite shore. From a distance these sand “clouds” look like a column of thick smoke. And this fine sand gets everywhere, in every nook and cranny. No article escapes it. Lewis wrote the Corps were “compelled to eat, drink and breathe it.” Even his watch stopped working due to the sand.
The wind was better today and so the Corps departed at dawn. Lewis had a serious concern overnight: his dog Seaman was missing. He left camp the night before and never returned. Lewis feared Seaman was gone forever, but much to his “satisfaction,” his dog showed up around 8 a.m. But now there’s a new problem: cold temperatures. It’s so cold the water on the oars froze as the men rowed. And they don’t get far before the winds came back with a vengeance during the mid-morning hours. It’s blowing so violently the Corps had to stop again around noon, after about a dozen miles of progress.
At this point Lewis took Ordway, Joseph Fields and two other men to hike ahead on land to find the Yellowstone River, which the captain believed was nearby. Lewis took “mathematical instruments” to calculate the latitude of the Yellowstone. Clark would lead the boat party and join him when weather permitted.
The Lewis party traveled four miles and spotted buffalo. Lewis killed a calf and his men enjoyed a veal meal. They set out again, and a few miles later, topped a hill and saw the “wide and fertile valleys formed by the Missouri and the Yellowstone rivers.” Everywhere the men looked they saw buffalo, elk, antelope, deer...so gentle the men could pass near them, as they fed, without spooking the beasts. Sometimes the animals even approach them but kept their distance. Lewis decided to hike to the Yellowstone River (about two miles) to camp for the night. On the way they killed three cow buffalo and a calf. Two of the cows were too lean, but they harvested meat from the third, plus tongues, marrow bones, and the calf (hanging it safely from the reach of wolves and bears). Lewis shot a goose on her nest and found six eggs. Lewis and his party spent the night on the banks of the Yellowstone River, two miles south of where it met the Missouri.
At 5 p.m. Clark and the boat party proceeded on, as the winds died down. They traveled as far as light allowed and camped on the south side. 14 miles
A very cold night (32 degrees). Clark and the boat party left at dawn. The captain walked the shore beside the boats and shot two deer and a beaver. He noted the river has been rising for several days. Near the mouth of the Yellowstone, the Corps set camp to wait for Lewis.
Lewis dispatched Joseph Fields to explore the Yellowstone River as far as he could go, with orders to return before nightfall. They saw a herd of antelope swimming the river and Lewis’ dog Seaman chased one, drowned and returned to shore with it. The captain directed two other men to retrieve the meat they killed the previous day, while he and Drouillard headed downstream to where the Yellowstone met the Missouri. At the confluence they found it well timbered with cottonwood, elm, ash and box elder.
Around noon Lewis heard several guns fire, announcing the arrival of Clark and the boat party. They were shooting at buffalo, killing a cow and several calves. The cow turned out to be “poor” but the calves were good eating. The men particularly enjoyed the buffalo veal. The captain ordered Drouillard to meet Clark and return with a canoe for the meat his men were retrieving upstream on the Yellowstone (which he did). Clark observed this area has immense numbers of antelope, buffalo, elk, deer and beaver at every bend.
After Lewis completed his observations, he headed downstream on the Missouri to reunite with the Corps (about two miles). To celebrate finally reaching the Yellowstone, they celebrated with an extra toast of whiskey. This toast led to “much hilarity, singing and dancing” to fiddle music. It was a “perfect” moment, enough “to forget their past toils.” As ordered, Joseph Fields returned with his exploration of the Yellowstone (about eight miles upriver). It was, he said, rather like the Missouri in size and terrain. Fields also reported seeing several “bighorned animals” but they were easily spooked. The Indians told the captains the Yellowstone’s source was in the Rocky Mountains. 8 miles
The party burned a bit of sunlight and breakfasted prior to departure. They didn’t leave until 9 a.m. Lewis noted near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers would be a good place to build a permanent establishment (trading post or fort). Clark agreed but not in the same area that Lewis proposed. Around 11 a.m. the wind became too hard to continue. Clark observed the winds kicked up so much dust it “almost covered [the Corps] on the opposite bank. Lewis had spent the morning walking the shore, but because the boats were working the opposite beach, Lewis was cut off. Consequently he had to fend for himself for dinner and shot a nice goose. Eventually he was able to rejoin the Corps, but not until night.
At 4 p.m. the wind died down enough for the Corps to continue but Lewis remained trapped on the other side. The game is “abundant” (especially beaver, elk, antelope, geese and ducks) but the men only killed what they required. Along the banks the Corps also saw dozens of dead, decaying buffalo (who likely met their death trying to cross the Missouri during the winter). The eagles, geese and magpies often nest near each other. Lewis noted the bald eagle is particularly numerous. The party camped at a timbered bottom on the north shore. They were now in Montana. 8 miles
It’s Sunday, but the Corps are taking no sabbath. They left at dawn with favorable winds to use their sails. The river is now falling. Clark walked on shore while Lewis remained with the boat party. The country was “open” and “fertile” with coal and salts. The trees are now fully leaved. The party spotted abundant game, including mule deer, elk, buffalo and antelope. They also saw four brown bear (and fired upon one but only wounded her). The beaver have felled many of the trees, including a massive tree three feet in diameter. While Clark was ashore with Toussaint Charbonneau, he hunted for game and killed a deer and goose. He also saw three black bear. One of the men trapped a large beaver. Around 3 p.m. the boat party found where Clark had stopped, so they did the same for dinner. They set their camp on the north side in a “handsome bottom” (Gass). 24 miles
The men departed at dawn to moderate wind. Lewis walked on shore today with another corpsman. They spotted a bay horse and wanted to tame it. Around 8 a.m. they crossed paths with two grizzlies. The two men fired their guns until they killed the young male bear (who weighed at 300 lbs.). Lewis noted “it is a much more furious and formidable animal and will frequently pursue the hunter when wounded.” He also muses their “formidable” presence is not as fierce as they were led to believe by the Indian. The Indians use bows and arrows, but the Corps has superior ammunition and guns. They are nowhere as “dangerous as they have been represented,” claimed Lewis.
Lewis also noted there were more wolves too, most likely to hunt the abundant deer, elk, buffalo and antelope. The antelope are very fast and durable on land but are “clumsy swimmers” (which is how the wolves pick them off). When Lewis rejoined Clark and the boat party, the captain informed him they had spotted a bighorn female and fawn from the big-horned animal. Sacagawea told the men these bighorn sheep were common in the Rockies. They were unable to get a good shot once they alarmed the mother and fawn. However they had plenty of bear meat. In the evening it was Clark’s turn to walk ashore, and he killed a deer that proved too small for much use. They passed a river—about 50 yards wide—with a gentle, clear current. Clark named it “Martha’s River” and the party camped near its mouth. 25 miles
The Corps left at dawn against a very hard wind. Fortunately it wasn’t enough to detain them. Overall the day was “clear and pleasant” (Ordway). The country continued to be bare of timber except in the river bottoms, and then it’s a different kind of tree (mostly smaller cottonwood, which wasn’t suited for planking or building). Clark walked ashore with Charbonneau, Sacagawea and “Pomp.” They viewed old Indian lodges that appeared to be ancient). Sacagawea showed Clark a currant bush and said it produced a “delicious fruit” in great quantities in the Rockies.
Clark also spotted great numbers of antelope, buffalo, elk, deer, wolves, geese, ducks and crows. He shot two geese for dinner. The boat party also saw large herds of buffalo swimming the river, but since they had enough meat onboard opted not to kill more. In the evening, one of the men shot a 70-80 lb pregnant beaver. Lewis explored the shore during the twilight hours and killed a bull elk, the largest he had yet seen. The Corps camped on a large sand beach. 24 miles
The Corps left at sunrise with favorable winds that allowed them to use their sails. They traveled at a good pace until noon when the wind gusts proved too much for the small canoes, producing high waves. In fact, one of the canoes—manned by Whitehouse and another corpsman—got separated from the party and violently blown to the opposite shoreline. Due to the waves and wind they had to remain separated overnight. It proved a cold experience without blankets. “I suffered very much,” penned Whitehouse. The rest of the party hunkered down in a timbered bottom to wait out the wind. Hunters were dispatched and they killed a buffalo, elk, antelope and two beaver. John Shields is sick with rheumatism. Shannon killed a plover, a type of gull. 10 miles
The “violent” winds howled all night long. During the morning hours an inch of snow fell. It was a cold day (28 degrees). The snow created a white wonderland that was “extraordinary.” Some of the snow drifts along the banks were a foot deep. Lewis dispatched hunters and they harvested two deer, three elk and several buffalo. Clark and Drouillard also killed four beavers, which prove rather tame and easy to hunt. Beaver meat is the favorite among the Corps, especially the tail (which can feed two men alone).
One of the hunters Joseph Fields found several yards of scarlet cloth in a tree near an old Indian camp. The custom of the Assiniboine and other Indians of the Missouri is to offer materials (like a prized cloth) to their God to show gratitude or ask for protection or relief from a troubling circumstance or petition for a good crop. Lewis noted that “everything which is incomprehensible to the Indians [is called] ‘big medicine.’” The Corps had to kill the Indian dog that had followed them for days because he kept stealing their dinners.
At 5 p.m. the winds died down enough to continue upriver, but it was a cold venture. The “air was very piercing” (Lewis) and the [water] froze on the oars. They camped in a “handsome bottom” on the north shore. 4.5 miles
It’s a cold and windy morning (26 degrees). A kettle of water near the fire was covered with a quarter inch of ice. Consequently, the Corps delayed departure. About two miles upriver they saw a 30 foot high statue of bushes, supposedly placed by the Indians for some sacrificial purpose. Clark walked on shore and killed an elk, which he butchered and prepared for lunch. The wildlife continues to be abundant: buffalo, elk, white-tailed deer, antelope, beaver, geese, ducks and some swan. At one point they observed “an unusual number of porcupines” near a large river inlet...so they called the crystal clear stream “Porcupine River” (now called the Poplar River in northeast Montana). Clark explored the Porcupine/Poplar River for several miles and reported it was a navigable river that could possibly be used for communication with British fur company in Canada.
During the early evening hours Lewis encountered two porcupines feeding on a willow. The captain was able to approach one of them and touch it with his spear (espontoon). He also found some goose eggs. The Corps camped just after dark a few miles past what they called “2000 Mile Creek” because they’re approximately 2000 miles from St. Louis (it’s now the Red River). Upon landing the red pirogue, the iron frame that held the rudder broke. 18.5 miles
The weather was more pleasant, and the snow is gone. Corps was detained until 9 a.m. to repair the red pirogue, but when they finally departed, they faced a hard wind. Lewis walked on shore and observed “large quantities of buffalo in every direction” plus elk, deer and antelope. He walked within 50 feet of a bull bison who continued to feed unconcerned. The party killed some beaver and two deer. There’s also sign of the brown bear. They passed several old Indian camps with a Blackfeet war lodge (the first sign of the Blackfeet). Joseph Fields has dysentery and a high fever. Lewis gave him “Glauber salts” and after his fever cooled, medicated him with 30 drops of laudnum (to help him sleep). During the evening Clark explored the shore and did not rejoin the Corps until after dark. The river is now rising (1-3” in past 24 hours) after several days of falling. It’s also straighter than it has been. The Corps camped on the south side. 18 miles
The Corps left at dawn. Lewis walked the shore until they halted around 8 a.m. He shot a deer for their breakfast. Not soon after leaving again the rudder irons on the white pirogue broke but was quickly fixed with “some tugs of rawhide and nails.” The game continues to be abundant. The men can kill whatever they wish to dine upon that day. The only two meats not highly preferred are the antelope (too gamy) and elk (too lean). They haven’t caught fish in days. Clark discovered a den of wolf pups during his explorations. He and Drouillard also shot a large (8’ 7”) grizzly bear around 500-600 pounds. It proved extremely hard to bring down, requiring multiple shots through the lungs. They rendered nearly six gallons of grease from the bear. The men also killed two elk and buffalo. Lewis’ dog “Seaman” caught a pregnant antelope who was in poor shape. Ordway’s canoe was nearly sunk by a falling riverbank. The officers gave the men an extra “half shot” of whiskey. Fields’ dysentery has worsened. 17 miles
With a pleasant morning and favorable eastern breezes (with a sprinkling of rain around noon), the Corps left at sunrise for a rather productive day. They passed three inlets that they appropriately named, due to their lack of running water, “Little Dry Creek,” “Big Dry Creek” and “Little Dry River.” Lewis concluded that snow melts created these streams, but the lack of summer and autumn rains dried them out. The party watched a grizzly bear swim the river ahead of them. Lewis wrote “that the curiosity of [his] party is pretty well satisfied with respect to [the grizzly]” due to the difficulty in bringing one down. The company continues to spot a lot of game and the have their fill of meat (so much so that Lewis noted they sometimes they could kill just for “amusement”). Clark walked on shore and killed two elk, but most of the meat wasn’t worth eating. Two beaver were also trapped. Fields continue to be sick. The company camped in a south side bottom with fallen timber lying everywhere. 25 miles
The Corps left a dawn to a clear, pleasant and warm day. With the river rising another inch and a half, there’s more driftwood in the current, but water is also getting clearer. They sailed “very fast” (Ordway) until around 11 a.m., when the winds picked up enough to stop their progress. One of the canoes—thanks to a steersman who couldn’t manage the wind and water—was also nearly sunk. The men had to unload the cargo and dry it out for three hours. Lewis continued to be impressed with the countryside (“one of the most beautiful plains we have yet seen,” he penned). They saw several bald eagles, who presumably fed on dead animal carcasses. They also saw two large herds of buffalo pass on both sides of the river. It wasn’t an impressive sight! The men killed three buffalo, eight beaver and one elk. The elk meat again was so lean that they harvested only its tongue, marrowbones and hide. They camped on the south side. 15 miles
The expedition left at dawn with a gentle eastern breeze to push them. However, the clouds quickly darkened, and they endured a “slight sprinkle of rain” around 8 a.m. The wind was stronger but not hard enough to detain. At noon they stopped at the entrance of a large river on the north side. Lewis decided to explore the river for about three miles and found it deep and gentle in current, easily navigable by pirogues or canoes. The river also had a “peculiar whiteness” similar to tea mixed with milk. Consequently, they named it the Milk River (the Indians called it “The River Which Scolds at All Others.”
During the morning hours, Clark explored the shoreline (with Charbonneau, Sacagawea and “Pomp”) and saw smoke from Indian lodges further up the Milk. He also reported a bluff with a view for 50 or 60 miles. He said the country was “level and beautiful on both sides” with buffalo herds everywhere, as well as elk, antelope, mule deer and wolves. Beaver continues to be in large quantities, too. And while timber continued to be sparce on both sides of the river, there is other abundant ground vegetation including wild licorice and white apple. The Missouri River Indians use the white apple for multiple culinary purposes. Clark killed a beaver and wolf. The hunters shot three beaver and Pryor shot a deer. “We can send out at any time and obtain whatever species of meat the country affords in as large quantity as we wish,” Lewis wrote. The company camped on a beautiful, timbered bottom on the south side. 28 miles
The Corps left at dawn with favorable eastern winds, so they used their sails and made good mileage. They passed a dry riverbed “as wide as the Missouri” that contained only “small standing pools” of water and named it “Big Dry River” (now “Big Dry Fork”). Lewis walked up the river three miles to analyze the terrain, bottom and features. Clark explored the shore in the afternoon and killed two buffalo and two bucks, while Lewis shot a cow buffalo (they harvested the best of the meat). Toussaint Charbonneu—the husband of Sacagawea—served as a cook and prepared a special supper. He made a tasty “white pudding” using the intestines of the buffalo. First, he squeezed out the “squel” from inside the intestines (“[it’s] not good to eat”). Then Charbonneau chopped buffalo meat fillets into small pieces to create a “suet” topped with salt, pepper and a little flour. Finally he stuffed the buffalo “suet” inside the intestine until it can’t hold anything more and tied it off. Charbonneau “baptized” the stuffed intestine in the Missouri “with two dips and a flirt” then boiled it in water and fried in bear grease until brown. It’s a delicious meal.
During the day they continued to see great quantities of elk and buffalo. The buffalo are “now so gentle that the men frequently throw sticks and stones at them in order to drive them out of the way” wrote Lewis. They also observed a forest of cut timber (three acres) by the beavers. In the evening hours, Lewis killed four plover gulls. The river continued to get clearer and began to get shallow in places, with many sandbars. Lewis is anxious to view the Rocky Mountains that the Indians say remains to the West. They camped at the mouth of a creek named [William] Werner’s River on the north side, near modern-day Fort Peck, MT. 24.5 miles
The Corps departed at sunrise but only traveled a short distance before the “violent” wind forced them to shelter on a timbered shore on the south side of the river. The clouds were also “thick and black” but other than several “squalls” of rain were not a threat. The captains dispatched hunters to “scower the country” for Indians. Another dog wandered into camp, and they think it belonged to the Assiniboine—who are known to be a “viciously disposed nation.” Everyone was on guard. The men also inspected their arms, cannons and other weapons. Everything was in good order. The hunters returned with no sign of Indian (old or fresh). They killed two mule deer, one white-tail deer, two buffalo and five beavers. Another man caught several fish. They also spotted three bighorn sheep. It’s a sign they’re getting closer to mountains, as that’s habitat for mule deer. Boils and abscesses, possibly due to mild scurvy, are now common among the men, as well as sore eyes. Bratton can only work with one hand currently. For the sore eyes, Lewis created a mixture of “white vitriol and the sugar of lead” mixed with water. 4 miles
The Corps departed at sunrise with frost on the ground. The current was strong and the river very crooked. Some of the banks are falling, creating hazardous moments for the canoes and pirogues. There were several “hair breadth escapes” but “providence seems to have ordered” their safe passage. The wind kicked up again in the afternoon and “retarded progress.” Lewis spied some pine and Clark went ashore to retrieve samples. He found both “ponderosa” pine and dwarf cedar. It’s the first pine they’ve seen, another sign of mountains.
Around 5 p.m., Bratton (who still had a lame hand and spent the afternoon with Clark on shore) frantically approached the boat party, out of breath and in distress. He had wounded a grizzly (shot in the lungs) about a mile downriver and it turned on him, chasing him back to the boats. Lewis dispatched seven men to track the grizzly. They found him in some thick brush, still much alive, and finished killing him. The men then skinned and harvested the meat. The fact this “monster” grizzly bear could be shot through the lungs and still survive, even chase for a mile a human, “intimidates us all,” Lewis wrote. “I must confess that do not like the gentlemen [grizzlies] and had rather fight two Indians than one bear.” The only way to kill them is with a head shot and that’s difficult given the thickness of the frontal skull bone.
Clark also shot two mule deer, two buffalo and a beaver. He was gone until after dark, further upstream from the boat party. The Corps camped where they met Bratton. Lewis directed the cooks to render the bear’s oil and it produced eight gallons of grease. 17 miles
The Corps left at dawn and the weather was clear and calm. Lewis walked the shore in the morning “for the benefit of exercise.” In his explorations he generally ventured alone with only his rifle and short spear (espontoon). He doesn’t want to meet grizzlies in the open plains, but felt the wooded bottoms gave him some advantage. So he stuck close to the shoreline and resolved to act defensively with the grizzly. On his walk he saw a lot of vegetation, including the chokecherry. The Indians, birds and bears enjoy this small berry. Around noon the wind changed and blew hard. The Corps was again forced to stop for the day to camp on the north side of the river. One of the hunters killed a deer and elk. Clark shot a beaver. After sunset it began to rain and continued throughout the night. 19 miles
The wind continued to howl so violent that the Corps decided to shelter in place for the morning hours. Lewis dispatched some hunters, but before they could return, the wind abated and the Corps departed (1 p.m.). The Missouri River current is very swift. Clark is on shore most of the day. He killed a mule and white-tailed deer. The men also shot several deer and elk principally for their skins. They need to make new clothing. Lewis saved elk skins to use with the collapsible boat they’re transporting, likely at the “Great Falls” of the Missouri. The hunters rejoined the Corps in the evening. Gibson wounded a large grizzly but it was too late in the day to pursue him. The men camped in a large bottom area on the south side. 7 miles
The men wake up to an unusual occurrence of fog (and frost) on the river (32 degrees). Ordway noted their moccasins froze near the fire. Nevertheless they departed at sunrise. In their travel upstream the saw immense herds of buffalo, elk, deer, wolves, and antelope. They passed three large creeks but they’re all dry as a bone. Clark explored the shore and killed a “very fine” buffalo calf and large pure white wolf. One of the hunters wounded another grizzly but wisely chose not to chase it (by himself). In the evening, the men in the rear canoes spied a grizzly resting about 300 feet from the river. Six skilled hunters went to kill him. They had the advantage of cover, enough to get within 40 feet of the grizzly. Two hunters held their fire, while the other four fired in unison at the bear. Two balls clearly hit the beast’s lungs. The bear awoke and roared to his feet, running towards the men with open mouth. The other two hunters fired and hit the bear, one ball breaking his shoulder (slowing him down). Unable to reload fast enough, the men ran for their lives with the grizzly in hot pursuit. Two of the hunters made it back into the river and into a canoe. The others separated and hid among the willows, reloaded their guns, and shot at the bear when opportunity afforded. Despite hitting him again and again, it only pointed the bear in their direction. The deeply wounded grizzly chased two hunters, who ditched their guns and powder, and jumped off a 25 foot bank into the Missouri River. The raging bear jumped into the river behind him and was only a few feet from getting the corpsman when he was shot in the head—from a hunter on shore—and killed. When they butchered the grizzly they found eight lead balls had passed through him “in different directions.” It was a “upsetting and narrow escape” with “trepidation and horror” (Lewis).
But it wasn’t the only narrow escape that day. While the men in the canoes dressed out the grizzly, the red and white pirogues continued upstream. Around 6 p.m. as Charbonneau steered the white pirogue (normally a job for Drouillard), a near tragedy occurred. It didn’t help that the husband of Sacagawea couldn’t swim and was “the most timid waterman in the world (Lewis).” In a rare moment when both Lewis and Clark were ashore—and the opposite shore from the pirogues and canoes—a gust of wind struck the white pirogue and twisted her violently. Charbonneau was so alarmed he turned the boat the wrong way, allowing the wind to catch the sail and rip it from his hands. The white pirogue nearly flipped over and started to fill with water. It carried their papers, instruments, books, medicines and merchandise to trade. Lewis and Clark fired their guns and yelled to cut the line and haul in the sail, but the men couldn’t hear them. For a half a minute the pirogue lied on her side until the sail was removed. The whole time Charbonneau was “crying to his God for mercy.” This caused Cruzatte to pull his gun and threaten the French interpreter to grab the rudder and “do his duty” or he'd shoot him. The men immediately began bailing the water-logged pirogue with kettles, while two others rowed her to shore. The boxes with the Corps’ papers, instruments, medicines, and merchandise floated downriver and nearly all were retrieved by Sacagawea. The men removed every article from the boxes to dry on the shore. Gass noted that “a great part of the medicine and other articles spoiled.” Some of the paper and all the books were wet (Whitehouse). It was a costly error in judgment.
It turned out Charbonneau wasn’t the only man aboard who couldn’t swim (there were two others). If the white pirogue had sunk in the Missouri there would’ve likely been loss of life. Both captains recognized they owed “the preservation of the pirogue to the resolution and fortitude of Cruzatte.” Lewis also noted he was so upset watching the scene from a distance that he almost jumped in the river himself and swam to the white pirogue to help (300 yards away). But he realized later that had he done such a foolish act the odds were “a hundred to one...[that he’d have] paid the forfeit of [his] life.” That evening, with the grizzly bear and white pirogue catastrophe behind them, the captains consoled and cheered the men with two shots of whiskey and rum. 16.5 miles
The men sheltered in place with hopes of drying out their stuff. After a light morning shower, the men spread the articles from the white pirogue out to dry, but the day proved too cloudy and damp. The hunters killed a buffalo, seven deer and four beaver. They also saw three bears (one that they wounded). The party also saw dead buffalo on the banks, some floating in the river (most likely winter kill).
The Corps spent most of the day drying out their stuff. They called the place “Panther Camp” because two men had wounded a large panther during the morning hours, just below their camp (it was eating a deer it had killed). They also killed two antelope (one they caught mired in the mud). A grizzly ripped up Labiche’s coat. He had accidentally left it on the plains. Around 4 p.m. everything was “perfectly dried, repacked and put on board the pirogue” (Lewis). Fortunately the loss wasn’t as great as they first thought, the medicine taking the hardest hit. They did sustain losses to their garden seeds, some gunpowder and a few kitchen utensils that fell overboard and sunk. Thankfully Sacagawea was able to catch and preserve most of the light articles washed overboard. Lewis noted she had “equal fortitude and resolution, with any person onboard at the time of the accident.” The Corps used the evening hours to travel and put on a few miles. Lewis walked the shoreline and killed a buffalo cow and calf. The men particularly savor buffalo veal. They camped on the south shore near several old Indian huts. 7 miles
The Corps left at dawn, using a toe line most of the day to pull the boats upstream from the shoreline. It’s the safest and “most expeditious mode of traveling” when there aren’t favorable winds to use sails. The country is turning rugged, the hills high and summits partially covered with pine and cedar. The buffalo are now gone. Clark walked the shoreline and killed an elk, but narrowly escaped a prairie rattlesnake strike. They also killed a prairie rattler at their camp that evening. Consequently they named a nearby stream “Rattlesnake Creek.” Lewis’ party shot a small female grizzly. There’s a lot of driftwood in the river. Clark spotted a fortified Indian camp that was recently occupied, likely by the Minatare Sioux. They were at war with the Blackfeet. During the night the guard sergeant sounded the alarm that a large tree directly over the captain’s tent was on fire. They quickly moved their tent just before the tree crashed (but its blowing embers still burned holes in their lodge). It’s another lucky escape. “We should have been crushed to atoms,” wrote Lewis. The wind blew the fire into the fallen timber creating an inextinguishable fire. It proved to be along night. In honor of the experience, they named a nearby creek “Burnt Lodge Creek.” 20.5 miles
A hard westerly wind blew hard during the morning hours, but the Corps used a tow line most of the day to proceed “on tolerably well.” Around noon it began to rain but did not last (90 minutes). It was hardly a rain, “not sufficient to wet a man through his clothes,” wrote Clark, “[but] this is the first rain since we set out this spring.” The Missouri River is narrow, with a gentle current, with a gravely bottom and few sandbars. They named a large creek “[Pete] Weiser’s Creek.” They moved into land that was more expansive and timbered. On his evening walk, Clark killed four “fat” deer (including two mule deer). One of the does had three fawns. Their skins are good for making leggings and moccasins. There’s also buffalo, elk, and antelope...and beaver (a daily dietary staple). One of the hunters shot two elk, another killed a beaver. Another rattler was killed too. The Corps camped on the south side across from a small island. 21 miles
The Corps had a late departure (8 a.m. and 38 degrees) after a “disagreeably cold” night produced a heavy dew and a fog (that made it hard to navigate). They used a tow rope all day to move the boats. Clark explored the shore with two hunters and shot a brown bear (in the heart) that still ran at a full pace for a quarter mile before dying. They also killed three deer and a beaver. From a particularly high bluff, Clark also spotted the Musselshell River and a range of mountains 40 or 50 miles to the West (Little Rocky Mountains). One of the Corpsmen wounded a beaver that Lewis’ dog “Seaman” chased to catch but the beaver bit the dog in his hind leg and cut an artery. Lewis desperately tried to stop the bleeding and feared “it will yet prove fatal to him.” In the evening he walked the shore for a few miles and killed an elk, buck and beaver. The rest of the party shot three deer and four beaver. The men complained of sore eyes and abscesses. The party camped on the north side of the river among a stand of small cottonwoods. 20.5 miles
The Corps left at dawn. The Missouri River was “narrow and crooked,” with a strong current, that demanded a tow rope to move the vessels upstream. They spotted large quantities of prickly pear cacti on the plains and hills. They named a stream “Blowing Fly Creek” due to the flies that infested the area, not to mention their meat as they roasted or boiled it. Around 11 a.m. they came to the mouth of the Musselshell River, on the south side of the Missouri River, in northeast Montana.
Note: This river originates in southcentral Montana in the Castle mountains near White Sulphur Springs, near Yellowstone country, and travels due east until it marks a sharp turn to the north in eastern Montana to dump into the Missouri at present-day Fort Peck reservoir.
The Corps halted at the mouth of the Musselshell (2270 miles from St. Louis, MO) to spend the day making observations and to explore the country. The hunters found a beautiful stream up the Musselshell that the captains named “Bird Woman’s [Sacagawea] River” after their interpreter’s Shoshone wife. Shields discovered a “bould spring or fountain” of pure water that proved a “great novelty.” Most of the water springs since leaving Mandan were salty and undrinkable, but this one was not. Clark killed two deer and an elk on his exploration, while the hunters killed four deer, an elk and buffalo. They have plenty of meat. The kills are mostly for the skins to make leggings. Lewis spotted two large horned owls. 7 miles
The Corps departed at dawn to a “delightful morning,” using the tow line principally throughout the day because the muddy river bottom made using oars and poles difficult. The river current remains strong. The treeless country is “fertile” and “produces a fine turf of low grass and some herbs,” with “immense quantities of prickly pear” cacti. The wind increased in velocity throughout the day, blowing in a storm that lasted all night. The Corps was “enveloped with clouds of dust and sand,” so much so they couldn’t “cook, eat, nor sleep.” Initially, the party camped on a sand beach on the north side but were forced to move their tents around 8 p.m. behind a nearby hill to break the wind. Anything not tied down or secured was blown away and lost. Consequently, they named the place “Windy Island.” During the day, Clark explored the shore and shot two elk. The party also caught a beaver and killed several deer and buffalo cow. 20 miles
The wind continued to blow “violently,” forcing the Corps to delay their departure until 10 a.m. Once again, they used tow lines to move the pirogues and canoes upriver. Lewis explored the shore during the morning and spotted several sharp-tailed grouse. The countryside remains “high and rolling...[with] more pine than usual.” The game isn’t as abundant, and they’ve hooked only a few fish (channel catfish) since leaving Fort Mandan. The Corps stopped earlier than usual to camp, due to the need to “render the oil of a [grizzly]” they killed in late afternoon. Lewis hasn’t seen a black bear in these parts and believes they’re more “common to the lower part of [the Missouri]...and the Atlantic states.” Lewis killed a deer on his walk. Ordway brought down a large buffalo. In the evening hours, Clark walked the shore and also shot a deer. 16.5 miles
The Corps departed at dawn (32 degrees). A cold night produced a heavy frost and ice (“as thick as window glass,” wrote Gass) along the shore. The water on the oars also froze. They passed yet another dry creek bed (“Teapot Creek”) that has some running water “some small distance above” it’s mouth. The water is quite salty and unusable. Lewis experimented by ingesting some of it—as the wild game seem “fond of this water”—but only got painfully sick. They also passed a large prairie dog town. Lewis was “astonished” with their ability to exist without water, especially in this arid country.
The Corps passed three islands, two covered with tall cottonwood trees and the last just with willows. In the early afternoon, the party halted for lunch. They started a campfire that accidentally “broke out into the woods.” The fire destroyed one of the hunters’ shot pouch, powder horn and rifle stalk. The party camped on a timbered bottom on the north shore. During the evening hours, the men also dealt with “troublesome” mosquitoes. During the day, Clark explored the shore and killed four deer, a beaver, and an elk. The boat party wounded another large, fat grizzly but he ran into the water, then died and got trapped under a “drift of wood (Whitehouse).” The men couldn’t retrieve the bear. They also saw a few buffalo, but far more elk, deer, antelope, and bear. 27 miles
It’s another frigid night. The standing water inside the pirogues and canoes froze (about 1/8th inch thick). There’s also ice along the shoreline. The cottonwood trees seemed “destroyed by the frost” but are “again putting forth other buds.” The Corps departed at dawn and used the tow line until mid-morning when a “fine breeze sprung up from the southeast” and allowed the boat party to deploy their sails. Despite a strong current, they still traveled “at a pretty good pace.” “The air,” Lewis noted, “[was] so pure in this open country that mountains...appear much nearer than they really are.” The Little Rocky Mountain seemed only a dozen miles away but after a corpsman reconnoitered the area (10 miles to the west), they realized these mountains were still several dozen miles away.
The captains named a stream near a prairie dog town as “Little Dog Creek.” During the evening hours, Clark explored the shore and killed a cow buffalo. The boat party left two canoes and six men to dress the buffalo and rejoin them when they could (but the men never returned). Larger wild game is becoming scarce, especially the beaver (likely due to the lack of timber). The Corps halted around 4 p.m. and camped among the cottonwoods on the north side of the Missouri river. 25 miles