Lewis and Clark Title Timeline 1804


Council Bluffs, IA to Pierre, SD

August 1, 1804 – September 30, 1804

 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.

August 1:

A pleasant day with some wind. Drouillard, Colter and another man dispatched to look for the lost horses. George Gibson also sent to where the captains initially commissioned La Liberte and the Missiour Indian. Gibson returned and said he found nothing. Clark feared “something amiss” with his French messenger. The horses were found twelve miles away. One elk and three deer killed. Two beavers were trapped. John Shields killed a deer. George Gibson a fat buck. On Clark’s 34th birthday, he dined on elk and venison steak, beaver tail and a dessert of cherries, plums, raspberries, currants, and grapes. The Indians still haven’t arrived. Nevertheless, a “very flashy” peace pipe was prepared. Mosquitoes were “very troublesome” again.


August 2:

A pleasant day with a nice breeze. Drouillard and Colter returned with the horses loaded with an elk. Several hunters (Collins, Willard, Cruzatte, R. Fields and Gibson) returned with three fat bucks. Fields killed a fawn. One of the hunters brought Lewis a white great egret. Two beavers were trapped, but one got away by gnawing off his leg.

The captains meet with fourteen Otoe Indians, including six chiefs, at sunset to plan a council for next day. The Indians arrived firing their guns. The Corps answered back by firing their cannon. The French interpreter Mr. Fairfong—who has lived with the Otoe and has a family with them—came to help. The Otoe chiefs were given tobacco, roasted meat, pork and meal. They gave the captains watermelons. The bow cannon was fired again. They learned that La Liberte had no intention of returning and quit the expedition. He left the Indians a day earlier and never showed up again.

The Corpsmen were all on guard and ready for anything. Whitehouse journaled: “They are a handsome stout well-made set of Indians and have good open countenances, and are of a light brown color, and have long black hair, which they do wear without cutting; and they all use pain in order to complete their dress.”

NOTE: The Otoes were always a small tribe, having no more than one village at any one time. During the late seventeenth and the eighteenth century, they moved westward from the Mississippi River across Iowa and lived with or near the Iowa Indians. About 1798 the Otoes were joined by the Missouris, and the two were subsequently regarded as one tribe. Both were horticulturalists and hunters, and both, like the Iowas, spoke a Siouan language of the Chiwere group. The Oto town, in Lewis and Clark's time, was apparently in Saunders County, Nebraska, on the Platte a little above the mouth of the Elkhorn.


August 3:

On a foggy morning, Lewis and Clark held a council with the Otoe Indians (including 6 chiefs) under the awning of their main sail. The Corps paraded and Clark delivered a long speech to express how the U.S. government works, and some advice and directions on how to conduct themselves. The Otoe chief Little Thief was identified as their principal leader. Medals, tobacco, whiskey, breech cloths, garters and paint were given to the three Otoe and three Missouri chiefs. The chiefs expressed satisfaction with Lewis and Clark, with their message and were happy to be freed from their former powers. They also made speeches, smoked, and drank with the Corps. The air gun was fired and that astonished them greatly. They all shook hands and departed. The Corps set off about 3 p.m. and camped on island among “excessively troublesome” mosquitoes. They also endured a two-hour wind and rainstorm. 5 miles.



Lewis and Clark’s Speech to the Otoes:

To Petite Voleur (“Little Thief”), the great Chief of the Otos, to the chiefs and warriors of the Otos...

Children. Commissioned and sent by the great Chief of the seventeen great nations of America, we have come to inform you, was we go also to inform all the nations of red men who inhabit the borders of the Missouri, that a great council was lately held between [our] great chief...and your old fathers the French and Spaniards...

Children. From what has been said [about the transferal of the land from French and Spain to the United States], you will readily perceive that the great chief of the seventeen great nations of America, has become your only father...he is the only friend to whom you can now look for protection, or from whom you can ask favors, or receive good councils, and he will take care that you has have no just cause to regret this change; he will serve you and not deceive you.

Children. Know that the great chief who has thus offered you the hand of unalterable friendship, is the great chief of the seventeen great nations of America, who cities are as numerous as the stars of the heavens, and whose people like the grass of your plains...

Children. Know that this great chief, as powerful as he is just, and as beneficent as he is wise, always entertaining a sincere and friendly disposition towards the red people of America, has commanded us [Lewis and Clark] ...to undertake this long journey...to council with yourselves...to give you his good advice; to point out to the road in which you must walk to obtain happiness. He has further commanded us to tell. That when you accept his flag and medal, you accept therewith his hand of friendship...

Children. ...You are to live in peace with all the white men, for they are his children; neither wage war against the red men your neighbors, for they are equally his children and he is bound to protect them...

Children. Do these things with your great father advises and be happy. Avoid the councils of bad birds; turn on your heel from them as you would from the precipice of a high rock...lest by one false step you should bring upon our nation the displeasure of your great father...who could consume you as the fire consumes the grass of the plains.

Children. We are now on a long journey to the head of the Missouri; the length of this journey compelled us to load our boat and pirogues with provisions, we have therefore brought but very few goods as presents for yourselves or any other nations which we may meet on our way...

Children. If your great chief wishes to see your great father and speak with him, he can readily do so...The commandant at St. Louis will furnish you with the necessary number of horses, and all other means to make your journey...to [Washington, D.C.] comfortable and safe...you must take with you, the flag, the medal and this parole we now send with you. When your great father and his chiefs see those things, they will know that you have opened your ears to your great father’s voice and have come to hear his good councils.

Children. We hope that the great Spirit will open your ears to our councils and dispose your minds to their observance. Follow these councils and you have nothing to fear, because the Great Spirit will smile upon your nation, and in future ages will make you to outnumber the trees of the forest.

Signed and sealed this 4th day of August 1804 at the council bluff...



August 4:

At 7 p.m. the previous evening, a violent NW wind with rain blew through the camp. But afterwards it was a clear, serene and cool night. The men set out a dawn. The Corps passed a difficult, narrow area with snags and logs. Later they passed the remains of an old trading post where Peter Cruzatte, two years earlier, had traded with the Omaha Indians. Moses Reed left to retrieve his knife from the Council Camp. He did not return. One buck killed. 15 miles.


August 5:

The company set out early and didn’t stop until around 7 p.m. They endured a rain shower that delayed them two hours. Gass wrote the “river here is very crooked and winding” and while they traveled twelve miles, they actually only gained about 370 yards total. Clark noted that “thunder and lightning is not as common in this country as it is in the Atlantic states.” Killed a large snake that resembled a rattler but had no fangs or rattles. Capt. Lewis concluded it’s a bull snake for its “bellowing noise...resembling that animal.” Lewis killed two aquatic birds (terns). He also took a celestial observation. Clark went ashore in the evening and observed that “in every bend the banks are falling in from the current.” He found great quantities of grapes as well as mosquitoes (“very troublesome”). Moses Reed now feared to have deserted. Clark killed a turkey. 20.5 miles.


August 6:

Another violent windstorm at midnight. They set out early at sunrise to a fair morning. Reed still hasn’t returned nor has La Liberte. Drouillard killed two deer and one fawn. 20.5 miles.


August 7:

Another bad storm around 8 p.m. the previous night. Mosquitoes even worse (and “troublesome”). The Corps set out late. At 1 p.m. Drouillard, Reubin Field, Bratton and Labiche dispatched to look for Reed and arrest him for desertion. If he refused to comply with arrest, they were told to kill him. According to Floyd, his knapsack revealed he took his clothes, powder and musket balls. In addition, they were to go the Otoe village and inquire about La Liberte, then bring him to the Omaha Village. They were also told to communicate to the Otoes that Lewis and Clark will attempt to broker peace between them and the Omaha and Sioux. Clark and Collins walked along the bottoms on the shore. “There is no timber in this country,” wrote Gass, “except some cottonwood and willows in the bends of the river.” 18 miles.


August 8:

The men set out early at the usual time (sunrise). They passed the Little Sioux River. Clark went ashore with Collins (who killed an elk). Clark fired four times but couldn’t bring him down (his musket ball was too small, he claimed). Lewis killed a pelican on a small island covered with the birds (which Ordway estimated numbered between 5000 and 6000 birds). Another corpsman named John Dame also killed a pelican (the only time his name appeared in the journals). Mosquitoes were so bad Clark used a piece of brush to keep them off his face. 16 miles.


August 9:

A thick fog detained the Corps until around 7:30 a.m. However, they enjoyed a good breeze and made good time. Clark and Floyd went ashore and saw an elk but killed a small turkey. Enjoyed some fish and beaver for supper. The mosquitoes were even “worse this evening than ever I have seen them (Clark).” That night, they camped above a beaver dam. 17.5 miles.


August 10:

The Corps set out early on a fair day. They saw lots of elk sign but timber was scarce. 22 miles.


August 11:

The men departed at first daylight with a hard wind and some rain. The river was very crooked. They landed at a bluff where Blackbird was buried—an Omaha chief who died four years earlier—along with 400 others (smallpox). Blackbird (Wazhin' gaçabe) was a notorious character along the Missouri, noted for his friendship with white traders and his strong rule over his own people. Under his leadership the Omahas rose to prominence on the eastern plains. Reports of his war deeds were mixed, but he seemed to have had great authority because of his sorcery, especially in the deaths of the enemies who were likely killed by his use of poisons obtained from traders. Legend has it he was buried seated on the back of his horse, on the hilltop where he used to watch for the coming of his friends the traders. Lewis and Clark took ten men and visited the grave (which was about twelve feet in diameter). They placed a white flag, bound with red, white and blue, on a pole over the grave. 17.5 miles.


August 12:

The Corps set out early on a Sunday morning. The river wider and shallower. They passed a Red Cedar Bluff (high bluffs of yellow clay) about 200 ft. high. A coyote came near the camp and barked. Some men tried to catch him. Beaver is very plentiful. Clark prepared some presents to give to the Omaha Indians. Weiser appointed the cook and superintendent of provisions for Sgt. Floyd’s squad (evidently John Thompson not working out). Mosquitoes were “very troublesome” until the wind rose around 1 or 2 a.m. 21 miles.


August 13:

They left at the usual time (sunrise) under a gentle breeze. The captains sent Sgt. Ordway, Cruzatte, Shannon, Werner and Carson to the Omaha Village with a flag and some tobacco to invite the Indians to a council. Lewis and Clark took some lunar observations. Ordway found a deserted village of 300 cabins, burned down four years ago after half the Omahas (400) died of smallpox. Ordway’s crew camped on a hill five miles from the boats, built a fire and suffered through no water and “very troublesome” mosquitoes. The rest of the Corps formed a “fish camp” on a sandbar at 4 p.m. 17 miles.


August 14:

A fair and pleasant day. Some of the men went hunting. Sgt. Ordway and his party returned at noon. They reported they couldn’t find any Indians (who were likely still hunting buffalo on the prairies) nor found any signs of life (such as corn). The party sent to find the deserter has also not returned. Nothing was killed. Gass reported that “game appears scarce here.” However, a new mast was finally built.


August 15:

Clark took ten men to a creek dammed by beavers. They dragged a net up the creek and caught 318 fish (pike, bass, salmon, perch red-horse, small catfish, perch) and shrimp. They also found “very fat” ducks of various kinds on the ponds and rivers. Lewis sent Mr. Durioue (their Sioux interpreter) and three men to examine a fire on the prairie. The party reported it was a leftover Sioux fire, but the Indians had been gone for days. Sgt. Floyd has another violent attack and sick all night (described as “colic”).


August 16:

A very cool morning with NW wind. Lewis took twelve men to fish and netted 709 fish, including pike, salmon, bass, and perch. The new mast was fixed to the barge. The party sent to look for the deserter and the Otoes still hasn’t returned. The wind shifted to the SE and an evening breeze blew away the mosquitoes and cooled the air. Ordway reported “the party in high spirits fiddling and dancing.”


August 17:

At 6 p.m., Labiche--one of the men sent to look for Reed and La Liberte—returned to camp. He reported his party had caught Moses B. Reed and were behind him (about six miles). He also said the Frenchman La Liberte had been captured by the Indians but used some deception and escaped. Finally, he added that three principal Otoe chiefs were also coming with Drouillard to discuss peace with the Omaha. They set the prairie on fire in hopes of getting the Omaha’s attention. The men in camp repaired their arms and clothing. It was a cool evening. Two beavers were caught.


August 18:

It’s Meriwether Lewis’ 30th birthday and a fine morning with a SE wind later in the day. Drouillard’s search party returned with the Otoe Indians and the deserter Moses B. Reed. They met the Indian chiefs in the shade near the boats and gave them some provisions. That evening a court martial was held for Reed. He confessed he deserted, plus stole a rifle, shot-pouch, powder and balls, but asked that “we be as favorable with him as we could” (Clark). He was sentenced to run the gauntlet four times through the party (with each man punishing him with switches). He was also expelled from the Corps and would be sent home next spring. The three chiefs petitioned pardon for the man but were satisfied after Lewis and Clark explained the damage he could do through false representation. They witnessed Reed’s punishment. After the court martial and gauntlet, since it Lewis’ birthday, everyone enjoyed an extra gill of whiskey, then danced until 11 p.m.


August 19:

On a fine Sunday morning, Clark prepared a small gift for the chiefs and warriors. Clark noted the Indians were “all naked, covered only with breech cloths, blankets or buffalo robes” but also very friendly. They assembled after breakfast under an awning (9 a.m.). Lewis and Clark spoke about peace and spent most of the day giving them advice. They gave one chief a medal, and made others chiefs, and then gave them all presents (“small articles and eight carrots of tobacco) and a certificate. The Indians also gave short speeches, approving the advice and counsel of Jefferson, their new great father. Those present: Little Thief, Big Horse, Crows Heads, Black Cat, Iron Eyes, Big Ax, Big Blue Eyes and Brave Man. Lewis invited them to visit Jefferson. Some were not satisfied with their presents. Others begged for more whiskey. Clark “rebuked them very roughly for having in object goods and not peace with their neighbors.” The Corps showed them other “curiosities”—including magnifying glasses, mirrors, and the air gun that astonished them much. Sgt. Floyd worsened with an abdominal illness. Everyone was attending to his case, trying to relieve him without success.


August 20:

The Corps set out under a gentle breeze. Clark gave Mr. Fairfong a few presents and his Indians a cannister of whiskey. Clark was very “dull and heavy.” He had been up most of last night with Sgt. Floyd, who worsened by the minute. He couldn’t keep anything down and his pulse was very weak. Right before he died, he asked Clark to write a letter (“I am going away,” he said). Floyd died just past noon and buried with military honors on top of the bluff (named Floyd’s Bluff), above a small river the men also named in his honor. After a funeral sermon, they fixed a cedar post for a gravestone. Clark wrote: “This man at all times gave us proofs of his firmness and determined resolution to do service to his country and honor to himself.”

The probability is that Floyd died of a ruptured appendix and consequent peritonitis. The ailment was not even recognized by medical science until twenty years after the expedition, and the first successful surgical treatment came in 1884. Probably no physician of the time could have done much more for Floyd than the captains did. A purgative like Rush's pills, their usual remedy for digestive disorders, would only have hastened Floyd's death, but this is probably what Dr. Benjamin Rush himself would have prescribed if he had been present—along with bleeding, which would’ve accomplished nothing. The place of Floyd's death is near Sergeant Bluff on the Iowa side of the river, near the present town of Sergeant Bluff, IA. The Corps camped that night in the mouth of Floyd’s River. It was a beautiful evening. 13 miles.


August 21:

The expedition reached South Dakota. They set out very early under a hard southern breeze, that only increased throughout the day. The sand at times was blowing so bad they could not see the channel. The white pirogue struggled to sail without a ballast. They saw several wolves on the beach. Shannon went out to hunt but killed nothing. They passed the Big Sioux River (skirting the western edge of present-day Sioux City, IA), which was navigable up to 200 miles, according to Pierre Dorian. The two men sent with the horses failed to show up yet. 25 miles.


August 22:

The Corps set out early. John Shields and another man waited ahead with the horses (and two deer). About three miles into the day, the boats stopped at a bluff that Lewis examined, composed of alum, copperus, cobalt and pyrites. In testing the quality, he nearly poisoned himself from the fumes (that contained arsenic). Lewis later took a dose of salts to dull the effects of the arsenic. Clark also noted these minerals were floating in the water and may be the cause of the stomach disorders among many in the Corps. He ordered the men to dip deeper into the water to avoid drinking the scum water on the surface. Clark named a creek Roloje after it came to him in a dream. They saw a great deal of elk sign. Patrick Gass, Alexander Willlard and George Gibson were nominated to replace Floyd as sergeant. Gass won the nomination with nineteen votes. 19 miles.


August 23:

The Corps set out “very early.” Reuben Fields and George Shannon failed to return to camp. George Drouillard and Joseph Fields went hunting and Fields killed their first buffalo. Lewis took twelve men to transport the buffalo to the next bend in the river. Clark walked on shore and shot a fine buck. Clark named the area “Buffalo Prairie.” Two elk swam across the river and were shot at and wounded, but not killed. Reuben Fields finally returned with the horses, carrying two deer. Another deer shot from the boat. The wind continued to whip up the sand from the sand bars making visibility difficult and progress slow. In one delay they salted two barrels of buffalo meat and jerked the venison. They camped on Sand Island. 10 miles.


August 24:

Some rain last night. The Corps set out at sunrise and passed some blue clay bluffs which appeared to have been on fire recently, still too hot to touch. There’s a great appearance of coal and a berry they called “rabbit berries” (a “delightful tart” double the size of a currant). It’s a buffaloberry. Clark took York and a French boy to walk the shore. They killed two bull elks and a fawn (the first of several indications that York carried a gun). At sunset it began to rain hard. Lewis’ chronometer was broken again. Lewis and Clark walked the shore in the rain and got drenched. They spotted a particular high hill that Indians believed was populated by devils and evil spirits (who have “remarkable large heads” but are only eighteen inches tall). Evidently these spirits kill with their bow and arrows from a great distance. The mojo of “Spirit Mound” (8 miles north of Vermillion, SD) is so strong the Omaha, Sioux, Otoes and other neighboring Indians refused to even approach this hill. The mosquitoes were troublesome. 10.5 miles.


August 25:

At 8 a.m., Lewis and Clark, plus Sgt. Ordway, Drouillard, John and Joseph Fields, Colter, Bratton, Carson, Labiche, Warfington, Frazier, York and “Seaman” visited this “mountain of the evil spirits.” Six miles into the journey, Seaman tuckered out and overheated. He went back to the boat (presumably alone). By noon the men reached the hill and observed “great numbers of birds (bats).” When they summited the hill they found a “flying ant” as the reason for the birds (there to eat the insects). However, these insects were also thick and soon biting the men. There were three dens, which Clark concluded were coyote dens.

No matter what direction they looked were hundreds of buffalo and elk. Lewis was very tired and needed water. On the return they delayed again to enjoy “the best largest grapes” Clark ever tasted, as well as blue currants and plums. York suffered from heat exhaustion due to him “being fat and unaccustomed to walk as fast” as Clark. They set fire to the prairie to catch the attention of the Sioux and let them know they were on the river. The “mountain camp” finally returned to the pirogue at sunset. At 11 a.m. Sgt. Pryor took the barge and proceeded several miles upstream. The mountain camp (with Lewis & Clark) ate a supper of jerky and “prairie larks.” Clark slept on his new bed of buffalo robe. 6 miles.


August 26:

The Lewis and Clark land party rejoined the boats at 9 a.m. They jerked the meat killed the previous day and prepared the elk skins to make rope. They set out, leaving Drouillard to hunt for the lost horses, with directions to follow on the higher ground. The captains officially appointed Patrick Gass the replacement for deceased Sgt. Charles Floyd. Mosquitoes were bad. They camped on a sand bar, opposite an old, abandoned Indian village. 9 miles.


August 27:

The Corps set sail at sunrise with a SE breeze. Twelve fine catfish were caught the previous night. Drouillard called from shore for a pirogue. He had not found the horses, nor Shannon. John Shields and Joseph Fields were dispatched to try and find them. Around 2 p.m., at the mouth of James River, an Omaha Indian boy swam to the boat. He told them the Yankton Sioux camp was near. Two other Indians joined the Corps when they landed, then went with Sgt. Pryor and Pierre Dorian to invite the Sioux to a council. They camped on a sand bar. The wind blew hard, yet cool and pleasant. The river had fallen slowly and was low. The Indian boy stayed the night. 14 miles.


August 28:

The company set out under a stiff breeze. The Corps traveled upriver for six miles to where the Indian boy left them. He returned to the Sioux. Lewis and Clark were ill, probably from some hominy they ate. The red pirogue hit a snag “and a hole got knocked in her” underside, filled it with water, nearly sinking. The Corps camped on a beautiful plain, unloaded the pirogue and found some of the baggage was damaged. The captains were still thinking of sending a pirogue back to St. Louis soon. John Shields and Joseph Fields, sent to look for the lost George Shannon and the horses, reported back. They unable to locate him. Shannon wasn’t a good hunter. John Colter sent out with provisions to find him. A flagpole was raised, as the Indians are expected soon. Sgt. Pryor and Pierre. Dorian still haven’t returned. 8.5 miles.


August 29:

At 4 p.m., Sgt. Pryor and Pierre Dorian (with his son) arrived along with seventy Yankton Sioux Indians. They appeared friendly and camped on the opposite shore in preparation for the next day’s meeting. Pryor took them corn, tobacco, hominy and kettles. The kettles were for the elk and deer the Indians had killed on their way. Pryor reported the women in the Sioux village were mostly old and homely. When he first found the Sioux camp they presented him and his party with a fat, cooked dog. He found it “well flavored.” Clark wrote a speech while some men made a tow rope from elk skins. Drouillard killed a deer and many large catfish were caught. The pirogue was repaired and reloaded.


August 30:

A very thick fog in the morning. Some of the Indians swam over for breakfast. Four Indian musicians arrived and went through the camp singing and making noise on their instruments. Lewis and Clark prepared presents and medals for the Indians. At 9 a.m. they sent Pierre Dorian to bring the Yankton Sioux chiefs and warriors across the river in the pirogue. At noon the captains and Sioux met. Lewis gave his usual speech (i.e., change of government, call for peace with Omaha and Otoe, invited a chief to meet Jefferson). Clark gave his speech. Then the captains smoked the peace pipe and offered presents of clothes, beads, tobacco, a flag, medals, cocked hats and uniforms. The chiefs retired to divide their presents while the captains went to dinner. The air gun was fired (and explained by Clark that our “great medicine” had invented it and that it could do great harm). After a few firings, the Indians ran to the trees to see what damage it caused. That night a circle fire where they Yankton Sioux warriors danced late into the night. No Indian women were present. Shannon and Colter still gone.


August 31:

At 8 a.m., the Yankton Sioux reconvened the council and remained with the Corps all day. The want Pierre Dorian and his son to accompany them to visit Thomas Jefferson. The chiefs gave their own speeches (focused on their extreme poverty as a people). They promised peace with the Pawnee and Omaha and wished the captains would give them something for their wives. The captains told them they weren’t traders but came to open the way for other traders to supply their wants. Lewis and Clark learned much about their habits and customs. They gave them more tobacco and corn. They noted the French named this people the “Sioux” but they called themselves the “Dakota.” Lewis and Clark commissioned Pierre Dorian to make peace with all the chief nations in the area (Sioux, Pawnee, Poncas, Otoes, Missouris), then gave him a flag, a bottle of whiskey and some clothes. Afterwards Pierre, his son, and the chiefs crossed to the other side of the river.


September 1:

Dorian forgot his kettle and Clark had it sent to him before launching. The Corps out with a gentle breeze past Calumet Bluff. Some rain and cloudy. They saw a beaver house. Drouillard killed a bull elk. According to Clark, it wasn’t necessary to mention fish (a lot of catfish) as they were caught “at any place on the river.” 16 miles.


September 2:

The men set out at dawn on Sunday. There was some rain, including thunder and lightning. Drouillard, Reuben Fields, Howard and Newman shot four fat elk. They jerked the meat and used their skins to cover the pirogues. They spent most of the day checking out an ancient fortification. Still no sign of Shannon nor Colter. 4 miles.


September 3:

The Corps left at sunrise, and it was very cold with little wind. They collected a great quantity of plums and grapes. They also saw for the first time a new species they called a “wild goat” (it’s the pronghorn antelope). The elk and buffalo are also “very plenty,” but not the same could be said about the timber. Gass noted a “person by going on one of the hills may have a view as far as the eye can reach without any obstruction, or intervening object; and enjoy the most delightful prospects.” They spotted signs of Colter and Shannon, but it doesn’t look like Colter’s caught up to him yet. 15 miles.


September 4:

The Corps set out at sunrise. Later, enjoyed a breakfast of plums and hack berries. Drouillard killed a turkey and a duck. The men set a smoky fire to attract Shannon but no tracks were found. Clark reconnoitered a tributary river about three miles and found an old Ponca village. 8 miles.


September 5:

The Corps set out early. A strong south wind allowed them to hoist a sail and run “very fast a short time” (Ordway). Then the mast broke again. The sand that whipped from the sandbars was very thick. They spotted turkeys, antelope and grouse...and a new type of deer with a black tail (mule deer). They also caught a bull snake. The captains dispatched two men to a Ponca village. They killed a buffalo and a large buck. There was some sign of Shannon and Colter ahead (horse tracks). At an island they found a tree and made a cedar mast. The hunters returned with three bucks and two elk. They salted the meat. 14 miles.


September 6:

A storm in the morning but it only lasted a few minutes. Rainy and cold all day. They set out “and proceeded on.” The boats got hung up on sandbars several times, greatly delaying their progress. The men saw several antelope and buffalo in great numbers. Reuben Fields killed two deer. John Colter arrived but not with George Shannon nor the horses. He had killed a buffalo, an elk, three deer, a wolf, five turkeys, a goose, and a beaver. 8.5 miles.


September 7:

A very cold morning. The men set out at daylight and landed after proceeding five and a half miles, near the foot of a round mountain “resembling a dome” (Old Baldy in eastern Boyd county of Nebraska). Lewis and Clark ascended the mount to investigate it. On their return they “discovered a village of small animals that burrow in the ground.” Clark wrote these animals were about the size of a small squirrel and they “shake and whistle when alarmed.” It was the prairie dog. Shields killed one dog. Gass journaled: “Captain Lewis and Captain Clarke with all the party, except the guard, went to it; and took with them all the kettles and other vessels for holding water; in order to drive the animals out of their holes by pouring in water; but though they worked at the business till night they only caught one of them.” They “took it alive and kept it” (Ordway). The men also killed a prairie rattler. 5.5 miles.


September 8:

The Corps left at sunrise with a gentle SE breeze. Drouillard returned in the evening with the horses, plus a bull elk and fawn, a deer fawn and two large beavers. They saw several buffalo swimming the river. Lewis took a party and killed two buffalo. Clark walked along the north shore all day. Gass lost his hat. He had left it to scare off the wolves at a buffalo carcass, but when they returned the carcass was devoured and his hat gone. Lewis also walked on shore and came across a trading house which been built in 1796 by Jean Baptiste Truteau. 17 miles.


September 9:

The men left at sunrise and dealt with several sand bars (“so numerous, it is not worth mentioning them,” say Clark). Clark walked on shore hoping to see or kill an antelope. They need several of them to send back to Jefferson. The men counted at least 500 head of buffalo. The plains, according to Clark, “were almost covered with buffalo.” Drouillard killed three deer. Clark shot a buffalo and York killed two bison, Reuben Fields shot one. 14 miles


September 10:

A dark, foggy morning. The company set out early with a stiff breeze and ”sailed on very well” (Ordway). The hunters killed three buffalo and one elk. Deer were becoming scarce. Sgt. Pryor and Drouillard discovered a “bold salt spring of strong water.” They also discovered a fossilized fish on top of one of the bluffs with a backbone 45 feet long. Gass said they collected part of the bones to be sent back to Washington. They continued to see great herds of elk and buffalo. 20 miles.


September 11:

The Corps left at sunrise (another cloudy morning). The river was wide and shallow. A hard rain arrived in the afternoon and evening. Clark saw a prairie dog village nearly 1000 yards long and 800 yards wide. He killed four dogs to stuff. Around 1 p.m. George Shannon finally returned, missing since August 26. He nearly starved to death, surviving only on grapes and a rabbit he killed “by shooting a piece of hard stick in place of a ball” from his gun. He ran out of bullets. Shannon thought the Corps were ahead of him, so he kept his horse as a last resource to kill and eat. However, he was too weak, and decided to return down river to meet a trading boat. Thankfully, the Corps were behind him. Clark took Ordway, Pryor and Gibson to walk the shore and they spotted foxes. He also killed an elk, two deer and some squirrels. His men killed an elk, two deer and a pelican. Ordway shot a large porcupine. He also saw sixteen bull buffalo and crept near them. As Ordway waited for one bison to get sideways, another bull discovered him. He had on a red shirt and the bull approached near to him. Ordway was “obliged to shoot at his head” and when he did the bull turned and ran off. 16 miles.


September 12:

Another dark cloudy day with a hard NW wind. Drouillard caught four beavers in his traps the previous night. At noon Clark took Sgt. Gass and Newman to hunt and spotted several villages of prairie dogs, grouse and three foxes. They did not return until after dark. During the afternoon, the boat men under Sgt. Ordway had difficulty with the swift, shallow water and sandbars for the next four miles. They named the island they camped above “Troublesome Island” in honor of their difficult day. The Corps also saw a bluff of mixed slate and coal. 16 miles.


September 13:

The company departed early on a dark and drizzly day. Drouillard trapped four beavers. Sgt. Ordway, Sgt. Pryor and Shannon went ashore to collect some plums and stayed out all night. Lewis killed a porcupine in a cotton tree feeding upon the leaves. Shannon also killed a porcupine that the party enjoyed for supper. The water was very shallow and the numerous sandbars continued to make it difficult to navigate the channels of the river. The mosquitoes were “very troublesome.” 12 miles.


September 14:

The Corps set out at 8 a.m. in a fog. It was a cloudy, rainy and disagreeable day. All the men were in the water several times to drag the boats over the sandbars. Ordway, Pryor and Shannon rejoined the Corps. Clark and Willard walked the shore to look for a volcano in the area. Reuben Fields, who had taken the horses, returned. John Shields killed a hare weighing over six pounds. They stuffed an antelope and the rabbit to send back to Washington. The captains created detailed descriptions of the antelope and hare for their scientific reports (as they are considered new discoveries). Gass noted “the mosquitoes are as troublesome as they have been any time in summer.” 9 miles.


September 15:

The Corps departed early and passed the mouth of the creek where Shannon survived on grapes waiting for a trader boat. The creek is named “Shannon Creek” in his honor. Lewis and Clark explored the White River a short distance. Sgt. Gass and Reuben Fields went another twelve miles upriver. They found it, according to Whitehouse, to be “a handsome river and a handsome country.” Clark killed a hare, a deer and an elk. Many wolves howled and the evening was cold. 8 miles.


September 16:

The Corps departed around 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning but traveled less than two miles before they stopped to rest and dry baggage. Lewis and Clark both bagged a buck upon landing (and Drouillard too), as the deer were in great numbers. Whitehouse and another man went hunting. Gass and Fields returned at 4 p.m. from exploring the White River, but had to catch up to the Corps, which proceeded on without them. They needed to lighten the barge due to low water and sandbars, transferring some of the load to the red pirogue. They had long planned to send a pirogue back to St. Louis in the fall, but now the captains decided against it. They’d sent a boat back in the spring. Lewis took a hunting party and killed a buffalo, elk, antelope, and magpie. They used the buffalo skins to cover the pirogues. It’s now very cold. Clark gave each man a flannel shirt and gun powder for those running low. Collins, who had been with the horses, finally rejoined the Corps. 1.25 miles.


September 17:

Lewis took a party of six men hunting all day. They viewed the country and observed the habits of the antelope. The antelope particularly impressed the captain. They are speedy, agile and “extremely quick of sight and their smelling very acute.” He spooked some antelope that reappeared three miles away. The party encountered wolves, skunks, buffalo and elk “in every direction feeding on the hills and plains,” wrote Lewis. He added, “I do not think I exaggerate when I estimate the number of buffalo [in one direction ... numbered] to 3000.” Colter killed an antelope and a mule deer (a new species). Lewis killed a magpie, and a rattlesnake in a prairie dog town. Drouillard trapped a beaver. Gibson shot a white-tailed deer. The other hunters bagged eight fallow deer and five common deer. The Corps finished drying their baggage, but some of it still spoiled. Whitehouse called it “Pleasant Camp.”


September 18:

The Corps set off around 5 a.m. to clear and pleasant weather. Clark, Drouillard and Fields killed eleven deer. Clark and Drouillard brought them back. The Corps camped early to jerk the venison before dark, plus dry all the skins. Joseph Fields did not return. Drouillard shot a coyote. The bones and skin were saved to send back to the States. 8 miles.


September 19:

The Corps launched at dawn to a cool morning. Clark, York and eleven men walked on shore to inspect the Sioux Pass of the Three Rivers and Calumet ground—an important Indian trail. Clark killed a fat buffalo cow and a small bull elk. York shot a buck. The hunters brought down four deer and the boat crew shot two buffalo swimming in the river. Joseph Fields killed a mule deer and hung it on the bank where the boat crew found it. Lewis and Drouillard also shot two mule deer. They called the place “Night Creek.” They are at the beginning of the great bend of the Missouri River. 26 miles.


September 20:

A fair morning with a SE wind. Clark walked on shore to inspect the bend, while Lewis and Fields went hunting. He spotted buffalo, antelope and rabbits. They sailed past a long range of bluffs of a dark color which “melts like sugar.” This is where the Missouri gets its muddy color. A male and female antelope were killed, as well as a white-tailed deer. The skins and bones saved to send to Jefferson. Newman and Thompson collected some salt. At night, the riverbank began to fall very fast. At 1 a.m., the sergeant on guard sounded an alarm and the camp was moved a mile further and across the river. By moonlight, the Corps packed their bedding and boarded the boats just in time. They shoved off and moved to the other side of the river, just in time to watch the bank on which their old camp was located collapse into the river. Had they delayed both pirogues would’ve been sunk by the fallen bank. Clark estimated they’ve come 1,283 miles so far. It’s also their most productive day to date: 30 miles.


September 21:

Lewis shot some sandpiper birds for his dinner. The Corps passed around the Great Bend some thirty miles. They continue to see great numbers of buffalo, elk and antelope feeding. Grouse, larks and other prairie birds were common. The catfish were also small and not as plenty as down river. However, there are great quantities of prickly pear cacti. One of the French men complained “very much” of a serious abscess on his thigh. 11.5 miles


September 22:

A thick fog detained departure until the 7 a.m. sunrise. The plains on both sides were beautiful with buffalo in every direction. At 3 p.m., the Corps passed a fort built of cedar by Registre Loisel. It was 48X32 feet in size. There was also signs of Indian camps. Colter went ahead with the horse, while Clark walked ashore and killed a large doe. The hunters returned with much complaint that their moccasins were being destroyed by the salts on the hills. They had killed two deer and a beaver. Drouillard and Shields killed several deer and a white wolf. The mosquitoes were “very troublesome” near the water. 16 miles.


September 23:

The Corps departed early to a fairly pleasant morning. Reuben Fields went to hunt and returned later with an antelope. Clark walked the shore and observed great herds of buffalo, as well as a great fire that had scorched the plains to the south. This meant the Indians had discovered them. They named a creek “Reuben” because he was the first to find it. In the evening three boys of the Teton Sioux nation swam across the river and informed the Corps that two parties of Sioux (of 80 and 60 tipis) were camped on the next river. They treated the Indian boys kindly, gave them two carrots of tobacco, and sent them back with an invitation for the Sioux chiefs to meet the next day. Reuben Fields killed a doe antelope. 20 miles.


September 24:

The Corps set out early to another fair day. The captains prepared some clothes and a few medals for the chiefs they expected to meet at the next river. Around 1 p.m. they found Colter’s camp. He had killed two elk and a deer. While they loaded the meat, Colter reported some Indians had stolen his horse, bridle, and some salt. Colter boarded and the Corps sailed upriver until they found five Teton Sioux. They anchored 100 yards from shore and the captains wanted to know who their chief was (Black Buffalo). They also inquired about the missing horse, then threatened not to speak further to them until the horse was returned. The Indians knew nothing of the stolen horse, so the Corps proceeded to the Teton River (and anchored again off shore).

Everyone remained on the barge, except the guard cooks and a Frenchmen. Clark went ashore and smoked with a chief (Buffalo Medicine) who had come to see them. The chief knew nothing about the stolen horse. Clark informed the chief they would hold a council the next day. Peter Cruzatte only spoke Omaha and Pierre Dorian was no longer with them. Consequently, it was hard to communicate with the Sioux. Everyone remained on alert. Two-thirds of the men remained on the barge that night. The rest of the men supported the guard on shore. The five Sioux also remained on shore all night.  13.5 miles.


September 25:

Another fair morning. The Corps raised a flagpole at their camp and put up an awning on shore (at the mouth of Teton River) in readiness for the Teton Sioux. The boat crew remained on board about 70 yards away. When about fifty Tetons arrived at 11 a.m., Lewis and Clark made three of them “chiefs” and gave them food and tobacco. The Council began at noon. The designated top chief was Black Buffalo (a.k.a Black Bull, “a good man”), the #2 chief was The Partisan and the #3 chief was Buffalo Medicine.

The captains delivered their usual speech (although abbreviated without a good interpreter), distributed medals, a U.S. flag and presents of knives, clothes, and other small articles. Black Buffalo received a red coat and cocked hat (Ordway). But the Teton wanted more presents. The captains paraded the Corps and invited the chiefs to see the barge. The captains showed off more “curiosities.” Lewis fired the air gun several times, then gave the chiefs a quarter glass of whiskey (but they wanted more). The Indians “stayed a considerable time; they were curious in examining [their] boat, having never seen one of their kind before (Whitehouse).” The Teton gave the Corps buffalo meat and the captains gave them pork. The Indians “sucked the [whiskey] bottle” of every drop.

Then they told the chiefs they had a long way to go and did not wish to be detained. It didn’t take long before there was trouble. “The Partisan” (#2 chief) pretended to be drunk, stumbling around the boat. With some difficulty Clark took all the chiefs (plus five men and two interpreters) back to shore to reconcile (create a better friendship). When Clark landed the pirogue, one of the Indians stayed on board while Clark and the chiefs went ashore.

Then three warriors immediately seized the tow cable to the pirogue. The Partisan now became “exceedingly insolent in words and gestures.” He would not let Clark leave (who was now on shore). He claimed they were poor, hadn’t received sufficient presents, and wanted their pirogue. He also said he had soldiers too. Clark drew his sword (and signaled to prepare for military action). Lewis ordered the men to ready their guns and the cannons were loaded (the large bow swivel with a sixteen musket balls and the two others with buckshot [Ordway]). The Indians prepared their bows and arrows. Clark told the Tetons that they “were not squaws, but warriors.” Black Buffalo replied, “he had warriors too and if [the Corps] were to go on, they would follow [them] and kill and take the whole of [the men] by degrees...that they were able to destroy [them].”

Clark “used moderation” and informed Black Buffalo that their new “Great Father” would be displeased if they “misused” him or Lewis. He also threatened that he could “have them all destroyed...in a moment” just by writing to Jefferson. That’s when Black Buffalo took the cable from the young warriors, sat resolutely in the sand, and sent everyone else away. Clark noted most of the warriors had their bows fitted with arrows...and were within point blank range. He sent the five corpsmen back to the boat but they only returned with twelve “determined men ready for any event.” This caused many Indians to withdraw some distance (leaving the chief and his soldiers alone with Clark on the beach). Their treatment of Clark was rough.

The Indians now “counciled” but Clark could not hear their conversation. He continued to speak positive words to Black Buffalo and The Partisan. He offered a handshake of friendship to both chiefs but they refused. Clark and his men reboarded the pirogue. Black Buffalo released the pirogue’s tow rope and Clark pushed off. That’s when Black Buffalo and Buffalo Medicine (and two braves) requested to come aboard and asked for their wives and children to see the barge (who were camped further upstream). Clark said they wouldn’t go far because the day was nearly spent. It was time to camp for the night.

Clark allowed the four Indians to board the barge (their wives and families would visit the next day). Black Buffalo said he was sorry to have the Corps leave so soon, that his people were poor, his women and children naked. He still wanted more goods. The Corps moved a mile upstream and anchored near a willow island they named “Bad Humored Island.” They placed a guard on shore to protect the cooks. The four Teton stayed the night.


September 26:

They set out early but stopped at the Teton camp to allow the chief’s wives and boys see the boat. Great numbers of Indians were on shore watched the men. They were fond of dress and show. After the visitation, Lewis and five men, including Whitehouse, went ashore with the chief who appeared now ready to make up and be friendly.

Lewis was on shore for three hours and Clark became nervous that something was up. He sent a sergeant to Lewis and the sergeant reported back all was well. The Teton wanted the Corps to remain one more night so they could show their good disposition with another council and dance. Consequently, Lewis and Clark nervously stayed among the Tetons.

After Lewis returned to the boat, Clark ventured ashore and was received on an elegant buffalo rug, then carried to the village by six warriors. He was not permitted to touch the ground enroute. At the grand council house, Clark was “put down...[upon] white dressed robes.” Then seventy men sat in a circle and smoked the peace pipe. Eventually Lewis was brought to the camp. An old Teton man approved how the Corps had behaved and asked for the captain’s pity. Clark told the Teton to live in peace and release the Omaha prisoners (if they wished to follow the advice of their Great Father Jefferson). Clark counted 24 Omaha women and boys, stolen in a battle 13 days earlier.

After much discussion, Black Buffalo agreed, smoked the pipe again, then sacrificed some “delicate parts of a dog” to acknowledge transfer of the country. The Tetons promised to return the Omaha prisoners to Pierre Dorian. The Tetons killed and roasted several dogs for the Corps to feast upon.

Sgt. Ordway and several other men joined the captains for a large fire that evening. Ten musicians beat on tambourines as highly decorated men and women danced the War Dance until midnight. Then four chiefs accompanied Lewis and Clark back to the barge and stayed the night with them. Everyone was in high spirits.


September 27:

A clear and pleasant day. Clark had a “bad night’s sleep.” The chiefs were already awake, and the bank was lined with Sioux. They gave the two principal chiefs a blanket and a peck of corn. Lewis accompanied the chiefs to their lodges. Clark wrote a letter to Pierre Dorian and prepared some commissions and a medal, then sent them by pirogue to Lewis.

At 2 p.m. Lewis returned with four chiefs and a chief’s escort. A half hour later, Clark, Gass and others took them to shore. They left the boat with reluctance and the Corps was alert for treachery. According to Ordway, who remained on the barge, “the chiefs and chief’s sons came on board several times in the course of the day and dined with the officers.”

They wanted us to stay over yet another day. Gass counted 80 tipis at the Teton camp (each containing ten people and two-thirds women and children). He says they “appear to be very friendly but will steal and pilfer if they have an opportunity.” Clark visited the Partisan’s tipi and then Black Buffalo’s, “speaking on various subjects.” The chiefs promised to release the Omaha captives.

Clark was then invited to “a lodge within the circle” where a War Dance (like the previous night) was held. The women danced with poles in their hands from which the scalps of the 75 Omaha men they killed 15 days earlier were hung. In the evening Lewis came ashore, with the sergeants and some other men, and they stayed until late in the evening. The Teton offered the captains a young woman for companionship, but they refused.

At 11 p.m. Clark returned to their boat with The Partisan and another chief while Lewis remained on shore with a guard. The man steering the pirogue accidentally broadsided the barge, severing its anchor cable. Clark ordered all the men on the barge to deal with the loose boat, now twisting and turning in the current. The chiefs were frightened and alarmed (shouting that the Omahas were attacking), prompting around 200 Teton Sioux to come to the shoreline armed and ready for battle, including Black Buffalo. Some fired their guns.

After the situation settled, about sixty Sioux warriors remained and camped ashore, while the Corps moved the barge to the bank to tie it off (exposing them to “hostile intentions”). They now believed the Teton intended to stop their boats and rob them, confirmed by Peter Cruzatte (through his interactions with the Omaha prisoners). The pirogue that severed the anchor was also damaged (with a leak). The barge’s anchor was lost. Clark got little sleep for a second straight night.


September 28:

The Corps made several attempts and worked many hours to recover their lost anchor but eventually gave up. They were determined to proceed upriver after their 10 a.m. breakfast. On board was Black Buffalo and The Partisan (who refused to leave the barge). There were about 200 warriors on the bank.

When the Corps released the barge from shore, the Indian soldiers seized it’s cable and kept it from leaving shore. The captains were furious and informed Black Buffalo of their actions. The chief investigated the matter and told an angry Lewis his warriors only wanted tobacco. The Partisan also wanted a flag with his smokes. Both Lewis and Clark were done. Lewis almost ordered his men to cut the rope and fire upon the Indians (Gass). Lewis rebuked the chief: “You told us you are a great man and have influence; now show your influence by taking the rope from these men.”

Black Buffalo and the Partisan debarked from the boat. Black Buffalo took the rope from his warriors. The appreciative captains gave Black Buffalo a twist of tobacco (who then distributed it to the warriors who had kept the barge from moving). The chief then gave the rope to the captains.

Two miles upriver the captains allowed Buffalo Medicine to board their primary boat. He said The Partisan was “double-tongued” and shouldn’t be trusted. Shortly thereafter the son of Buffalo Medicine rode up full speed to the barge. The Corps hoisted a white and red flag, a sign for either peace or war. The captains allowed the Indian to board, but only long enough to get a message. They sent him back to talk with his people. If they wanted peace, they should stay home. If they wanted war or to stop this expedition, then the Corps would defend themselves.

The men substituted large stones for an anchor and eventually stopped for the night at a small island. Clark was unwell due to lack of sleep. Everyone remained that night on their boats.6 miles.


September 29:

The Corps set out early. The weather was fair. The Missouri was very shallow and full of sand bars. At 9 a.m. they observed The Partisan and three men and two Indian women on shore. The Tetons wanted to come on board but the Corps refused to let any more Indians sail with them, except Black Buffalo. The Partisan was not pleased. Black Buffalo requested a twist of tobacco for The Partisan and his men and the captains gave him half a twist. The Corps continued upriver. They saw great numbers of elk. They passed an old Arikara village. The Partisan and another Indian man followed from shore. At one point they asked for a pirogue transfer to the other side of the river. The captains allowed the transfer, then proceeded on. 11 miles.


September 30:

The company departed early on a cloudy, rainy Sunday morning. They had not proceeded far when another Teton Indian requested boarding (he was refused). Not long after that, they discovered in the distance a great number of men, women and children descending the banks towards the river. Black Buffalo said this was another band of Sioux (about 400 strong).

At 10 a.m., the Corps anchored opposite the camps of this new band and offered a hand of friendship. The Sioux hoisted a white flag and the Corps took down their red flag. As a token they sent each chief a twist of tobacco, as well as some to the principle men. The captains told these Sioux they had been treated badly by the Teton and would not land again because they were running behind due to all the delays (referring them to Peirre Dorian). The Indians were friendly and wanted to eat with the Corps but were refused.

The Corps doubled their sail and proceeded on. Black Buffalo tossed small pieces of tobacco to the Indians who ran along the bank and told them to “open their ears to [their] counsel.” At 4 p.m. they stopped and went ashore for some firewood. When they relaunched the front of the barge got stuck on a log. The waves of the river rocked the barge violently—causing loose articles to fall—and Black Buffalo hid himself in fear. He said the barge was bad medicine and would not go further. Lewis and Clark gave him a blanket, knife, and some tobacco. Then told Black Buffalo to keep his men away. They smoked together and parted company. The Corps camped on a sandbar. Everyone was on guard. 20.5 miles.