THE ABBREVIATED JOURNALS OF THE LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION:
Camp River Dubois, IL to Council Bluffs, IA
May 14, 1804 – July 31, 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.
The Corps departed on a cloudy, windy afternoon (4 p.m.) from Camp River Dubois (Wood River) with many neighboring inhabitants watching. The company fired the swivel cannon on the bow and hoisted sail. The company of three sergeants and 38 men handling two pirogues and the barge sailed to the first island in the Missouri and camped. Clark was in charge, as Lewis remained in St. Louis. The men were in high spirits. 4.5 miles.
It rained all night. The company departed at 7 a.m. and passed two islands. The water was rapid and the banks were falling. The barge got stuck three times on logs. One time it was difficult to free the large boat, and despite the danger there was no injuries. Lewis journaled the barge is loaded to heavily in the back and needs to be heavier in the bow. One of the pirogues needs more men to “keep up.” They camped at Fifer’s landing just below a coal bank. 9.5 miles.
Departed at 5 a.m. to a fair morning and arrived at noon in St. Charles, MO—a French village of 450 people. A number of villagers came to see the Corps and their barge. Clark dined with a Mr. Duquet at his elegant home “on a hill surrounded by orchards and an excellent garden.” 9 miles.
A fair day. Now waiting for Lewis to join them. Three men confined for misconduct. A court martial was held at 11 a.m. regarding William Werner, Hugh Hall and John Collins for being absent without permission. The three men attended a St. Charles dance the night before. Collins was also charged with “behaving in an unbecoming manner” at the dance and for disrespecting Clark’s orders. All three men convicted and sentenced. Werner and Hall to 25 lashes on their bare backs, but were granted a reprieve for “former good conduct.” Collins received 50 lashes at sunset in front of the party. Several Kickapoo Indians visited Clark. The Missouri River is 720 yards wide.
Another pleasant day. Clark reloaded the barge and pirogue so the bows in each vessel were heavier than their sterns. Clark sent Drouillard to St. Louis with a letter for Lewis. Two keel boats from Kentucky arrived loaded with whiskey. Some of the men wen dancing in the evening “with the French ladies” (Whitehouse).
A violent wind and rainstorm lasted for three hours during the night. The barge entertained many visitors (including seven ladies looking for Clark). Several venders checked in. Clark paid several bills, as well as the men. He also learned his brother was sick (which caused him much concern). That night several men attend another St. Charles dance. Clark was invited but was unable to go. Drouillard returned from St. Louis with a $99 but somehow lost a letter from Lewis to Clark. Reuben Fields killed a deer.
Another rainy, windy night. It’s Sunday, and so most of the Corps attended a Roman Catholic mass in St. Charles. Lewis left St. Louis at noon with several officers, including Capt. Amos Stoddard, Lt. Clarence Mulford and Lt. Stephen Worrell. An hour later a violent thunderstorm caused Lewis and the men to take shelter in a cabin to wait it out. But the rain continued and, after 90 minutes, they decided to get moving. They finally arrived, soaking wet, around 6 p.m. and joined Clark.
Clark dined one more time with Mr. Duquet. The Corps left St. Charles at 3:30 p.m. with cheers from well-wishers. They faced a hard wind and rain. Drouillard and Willard went by land with four horses. The men were all in high spirits. 3 miles.
The company left at 6 a.m. Violent rain night before. Lewis walked on shore. Reuben and Charles Fields ventured ahead to buy corn and butter from Daniel Boone’s Settlement. Indians gave the Corps four deer. The Corps gave them four quarts of fire water (whiskey). 18 miles.
The Corps departed at 6 a.m. Many people came out to see them pass. At one point they were snagged on an underwater log, and later stopped at a cave called “The Tavern.” They also passed Boone’s settlement. Joseph Whitehouse claimed Boone—who discovered Kentucky—lived there with his family and friends. Lewis ascended some cliffs, slipped and fell down the rocks 200 feet. He saved his life only by plunging his knife into the cliff’s clay. It was a very narrow escape. Later the Corps inspected their arms and ammunition and discovered the ones in the pirogue were in “bad order.” 9 miles.
The Corps left early. Passed a bad part of the river known as “The Devil’s Raceground.” This rough part in the Missouri created a bad situation with the barge, when the tow rope broke and nearly capsized the vessel. The boat spun three times before they could get it to shore. Drouillard and Willard catch up with the horses. Camped at an old house. Several men note the “high banks” and “good soil” of this area. 10 miles.
The Corps left at sunrise. They received good information about the Indians upriver from Regis Loisel, a St. Louis merchant coming down river. They camped at St. Johns, the last white village heading north and west. 10 miles.
The Corps left at 7 a.m. There was a hard rain and wind the night before. Drouillard and Shields saddled the horses to hunt. The wind favorable for a sail. Lewis gave a detachment order to set the meal (mess) schedule. He also ordered the messes of Pryor, Ordway and Floyd would work the barge. The mess of Baptiste La Jeunnesse would command the red pirogue. And the mess of Richard Warfington would handle the white pirogue. Lewis also ordered the sergeants to command each pirogue, plus “attend to the issues of spirituous liquors.” The daily guard was composed of one sergeant and six privates and/or engages. 18 miles.
As they departed, two Omaha Indian canoes loaded with beaver, elk and deer pelts arrived. They later passed four rafts with pelts (Pawnee and Osage). Shannon killed a deer. 15.5 miles.
A rest day. Reuben Fields killed a deer. The red pirogue, manned by the eight French men, have been careless and water has gotten into the storage boxes and damaged various items, including the tobacco. Everything had to be unloaded and dried out. Whitehouse partly explored a cave (“it was the most remarkable I ever saw” he journaled). Cloudy day. No observations by the captains.
A second rest day. The mosquitoes were “very bad” according to Clark. Seven men sent out to hunt. The captains spent the day making observations. By afternoon, the articles were dried and reloaded. All the men but Joseph Whitehouse returned from hunting. Whitehouse is presumed lost. A pirogue stayed behind to wait for him. The French fired their guns to get his attention and guided him to the pirogue. The barge also fired its swivel gun.
NOTE ON SWIVEL GUN: The swivel gun was a small cannon widely used by armies, navies, and fur traders in this period. As the name implied, it was placed on a Y-shaped mount that swiveled, giving it great flexibility. It could fire a solid shot or a number of smaller projectiles and was therefore a useful antipersonnel weapon. The gun probably had a bore of less than two inches and fired a ball weighing about one pound. The expedition also had two blunderbusses. They were also mounted on swivels. The blunderbusses had large, bell-mouthed shoulder arms, and used buckshot like heavy shotguns. All of these weapons were probably mounted on the walls of Fort Mandan during the winter of 1804–1805. The Corps cached all three at the Great Falls of the Missouri in June 1805 and recovered them in August of the following year. They gave the little cannon as a gift to the Hidatsa chief Le Borgne (One Eye) during their return trip in order to win his good will; the blunderbusses were brought back to St. Louis.
The rest of the company left around 4 p.m. and stopped for the night just past Deer Creek. 4 miles.
The Corps left at 7 a.m. after a heavy rain all night. It began to rain again around noon. Gass: “a very disagreeable night.” They passed several islands and creeks, then camped on Grindstone Creek. Gass: “Here the soil is good, with cotton wood, sycamore, oak, hickory, and white walnut; with some grape vines, and an abundance of rushes.” 17 miles.
The Corps delayed a full day due to rain and high winds. Lewis spent the day in the woods checking out shrubs, trees and plants. Reuben Fields killed a deer. Several rats “of considerable size” were also caught.
Expedition reached the Osage River (it’s running high). It’s a late night for Lewis and Clark (midnight) as they made observations from the stars. 13 miles.
No travel on the river. Another day for observations and hunting. Drouillard and Shields finally returned from hunting for seven days (on horseback). They were wet (from rain) and little food. They had to swim or raft several creeks.
St. Louis commander Amos Stoddard wrote to Henry Dearborn to inform him that the Expedition was going well. “His men possess great resolution and they [are in the best] health and spirits.”
It’s another cloudy day. Lewis took observations in morning. He also walked the shoreline for about four miles. The hunters killed five deer. Clark had a cold and sore throat...and “tormented with mosquitoes and small ticks.” The Corps departed around 5 p.m. and traveled several miles to mouth of Moreau river. 5 miles.
According to Whitehouse, it’s a “fair morning” but left at dawn. They branded several trees with the captains’ names. They passed Cedar Island. The barge’s mast broken off by a low-hanging sycamore tree branch (Sgt. Ordway was at the helm). The captains explored a hill said to contain lead ore, according to Cruzatte and Labiche. Seven deer killed and made into jerky. One horse got snagged. Another lost his shoes. 17.5 miles.
The Corps left at 6 a.m. They met two canoes tied together and operated by Frenchmen. They had wintered on the Kansas River and caught a lot of beaver (but lost a lot of it due to a plains fire). The Missouri’s current was “excessively hard for 12 miles.” There was a “fine wind” but due to the broken mas they couldn’t hoist a sail. York swam to a sandbar in the river to gather cress and tongue-grass to be served to the captains at dinner. Clark still fought his cold (now with a “slight fever”). The hunters killed two deer. 12.5 miles.
The Corps left at 7 a.m. They finally found timber to repair the mast. They passed a large island and several small ones. Clark noted “the banks are falling very much to day [and the] river rose a foot last night.” Clark was still ill with headache and sore throat. The hunters killed one deer. 14 miles.
Lewis took six men and went ashore to explore some salt licks that some of his French engages told him about. The Corps passed “a painted part of a projecting rock...found there a den of rattlesnakes. Killed three...proceeded on.” There were also several paintings and carvings. The Corps run across their first signs of buffalo. Drouillard and Newman went out to hunt for them. The hunters shot a female bear and her two cubs. 14 miles.
The Corps left at first light. The current was very strong. They discovered abundant blackberries and raspberries. They camped at Mills Island. Some rain. Drouillard killed five deer before noon. 12 miles.
The barge got caught on a snag (log) just after launching that delayed them a half hour. Gass: “This day going round some driftwood, the stern of the boat became fast, when she immediately swung round, and was in great danger; but we got her off without much injury.” The Corps passed Prairie and Arrow creeks. The day proved stormy. 13 miles.
A hard rain fell the previous night. The Corps left very early and passed some bad places in the river. They saw a number of geese. Lewis killed a large buck. Clark walked three miles on land and saw great numbers of deer in the prairies. 10 miles.
Clark had a bad cold. A strong NW wind stopped the expedition for the day. They used the delay to dry their wet articles. The hunters killed 2 deer and Drouillard killed 2 bears (jerked the meat). The men were very lively, dancing and singing (Clark).
The Corps set out early on a fair day. Met five French pirogues (loaded with fur and peltry) descending from the Sioux nation. They bought some tallow from them. One of the French men (Pierre Dorion, Sr.) had lived with the Sioux for 20 years and had great influence with them. The captains recruited him to help get some of the Sioux chiefs to visit Jefferson. Gass: “We remained with the people to whom these pirogues belonged all night and got from them an old Frenchman, who could speak the language of the different nations of Indians up the Missouri, and who agreed to go with us as an interpreter.” 9 miles.
The company set out at 6 a.m. on a fair morning. John Robertson was dismissed and sent back with Dorian’s crew to St. Louis. One of the men caught a raccoon. Drouillard brought in a bear and other hunters shot deer. 9 miles.
They set out at 6 a.m. in a thick fog. About 2 p.m., when they passed through a narrow stretch between an island and the main river, the barge struck a moving sandbar. The current was rapid, sweeping men off their legs while trying to keep the boat from sinking. Clark: “We saved her by some extraordinary exertions of our party who are ever ready to encounter the fatigues for the promotion of the enterprise.” Clark shot a deer. They passed a high bluff they nicknamed “Snake Bluff” because it was populated with hundreds of snakes. They see lots of deer feeding. 8 miles.
The Corps left at 5 a.m.. The water as swift and banks were falling in. The wind was from the SE so the party hoisted a sail. At noon, they stopped at a former Indian settlement. The hunters shot four bears and three deer. The whole party celebrated with a dram of whiskey and continued on. 12 miles.
The Corps left at 7 a.m. and pressed on upstream. After a short distance they arrived at the riverbank camp of their hunting party (who had 2 bear and 2 deer). Some rain. The current was very strong. A hard day of rowing. Clark walked the shore looking for timber to make paddles. They camped in a bad place where the mosquitoes and ticks were numerous. 10 miles.
The company delayed a day. Some of the men with Sgt. Pryor looked for ash timber to make oars. They found enough to make twenty paddles. Drouillard and another hunter brought in a bear and two deer, plus a stray young horse. Ticks were “numerous and large...troublesome ...mosquitoes very troublesome” (Clark). Clark had a bad cold. The party is afflicted with boils, several had dysentery (due to drinking muddy water). The boats moved upstream using various strategies. If there was a fair wind, the sails were hoisted. With insufficient wind, the oars were used. In narrow places with shallow water the poles were employed. Men on both sides poled the barge forward. When the current was swift or too deep, the men on shore pulled the barge forward with ropes. All this was hard work and the French engages complained for the want of food. They said they were used to five or six meals a day. The captains rebuked that complaint. The men made 600 feet of rope so they called their camp: Rope Walk Camp.
NOTE: Mosquitoes drawn to smelly skin. It would explain the “troublesome” mosquitoes. The Missouri was a dirty river. Not much bathing was done. The men smelled bad.
They had a hard rain in the morning that delayed them yet another day. Six hunters sent out and they killed five deer and a bear. John Colter trapped a “very large, fat beaver.” Several men were ill with dysentery, ulcers and boils. They finished making new oars and rope, plus salted their meat into jerky and dried out their wet sails. The mosquitoes were very bad.
The Corps departed at 8 a.m. John Shields and John Collins sent with the horses to hunt. They saw lots of gooseberries and raspberries. The mosquitoes were so bad that mosquito netting was distributed to all the men to sleep under. 17.5 miles.
The company left after a heavy shower of rain. They faced some swift water and saw pelicans. Some of the Frenchmen in the large red pirogue could not make headway against the strong current, so they jumped into the river and pushed their boat along. The heat and humidity caused the men to sweat profusely as they labored at the oars. The flank hunters had been absent for the past two nights. Mosquitoes still “very troublesome.” York nearly lost his eye when another man threw sand into it. They camped on an island they called “Strong Water Point.” 7 miles.
They left at 7 a.m. on a clear day. The river rose three inches overnight. Drouillard and Sgt. Ordway went hunting and shot a buck and turkey, plus found a bear skin. The current was very swift but managed to get the barge through after much difficulty (thanks to tow rope and anchors). Cabin window on the barge was broken. They lost some oars that got entangled in the willow trees. 7.5 miles.
The river rose another four inches. A violent storm moved in from the west (rained hard from 4-7 a.m.). The left at 7 a.m. to a gentle breeze. Sgt. Ordway killed a goose. Lewis walked in the prairie for several miles in the afternoon. John Shields and John Collins, who had been hunting since June 19 were finally found in a camp, waiting for the boats. Drouillard killed a bear that weighed nearly 500 lbs. It was a hot day (76 degrees). 10.5 miles.
The river fell eight inches. The Corps left at 7 a.m. The wind blew so hard that progress was difficult. Lewis had the arms examined because the Kansas Indians demanded a tribute from the boats passing upstream. Clark walked on shore for six miles. At one point, he got stuck in some mud. He later killed a deer and made a fire (thinking the boats would catchup). He ended up staying there all night. The Corps made little progress. 3.5 miles.
The Corps left at 6:30 a.m. and caught up to Clark around 8 a.m. He had two deer and a bear. Clark noted tht his deer hung over the water when a large snake “determined on getting to the meat.” Clark tried to drive the snake off, but eventually killed it. Clark thought the snake was attracted to the doe’s milk (a mythical idea that milk snakes sucked milk from cows udders). There was lots of bear sign...and mulberries. Clark boarded the barge with a fat bear and two deer. Drouillard killed two deer. Fields shot one. Collins killed three deer. Lewis and Floyd killed a deer and turkey. Around noon they “jerked” a mess of meat. The men are in high spirits. 11.5 miles.
River fell another eight inches. A thick fog detained the party in the morning. They finally departed at 8 a.m. Hunting party did not return in the evening. 13 miles.
Set out at dawn to a river continuing to fall. The Corps reached Kansas River and Kansas at sunset. They killed a large rattlesnake sunning itself. They encountered a bad sandbar that broke two tow ropes. They decided to stop for two days to refresh, make repairs, dress skins, sun the damp stuff and dry powder. Drouillard killed 8 deer. 10 miles.
The white pirogue was unloaded (which included the whiskey) and repaired. Cruzatte killed a deer.
Eight to ten hunters sent out and killed five deer. The captains examined the storage to find several articles were spoiled from moisture. One man sighted buffalo. Reuben and Joseph Fields killed a young wolf and brought another back to camp to tame (three days later it chewed its rope and escaped). Collins and Hall broke into the whiskey and got drunk during the night while on guard duty.
A court martial was held at 11 a.m. that found Collins and Hall guilty. Jury: Nate Pryor, John Colter, John Newman, Patrick Gass, J.B. Thompson, John Potts as judge. John Collins was charged with getting drunk on his post by stealing whiskey. Hugh Hall was charged with drawing and drinking whiskey. Collins pled not guilty but still found guilty. He received 100 lashes on his bare back. Hall pled guilty and received 50 lashes. The sentence was executed at 3:30 p.m. It’s interesting in the journals that NONE of the men, except Ordway, mentioned the court martial (and all he penned was “a court martial held.” The Corps broke camp and left at 4 p.m. They hit some fast-moving water and a snag nearly knocked their bow off. They camped late in the evening. 7 miles.
The Corps left camp and set out at daylight. They saw a very large wolf. The land party inspected the fertile land surrounding the Little Platte River. The weather was very hot which made “the men become very feeble.” It was 96 degrees at 3 p.m. There is an abundance of game (deer, fowl, wolves, bears) around, “skipping in every direction” (Clark). The hunters killed nine bucks. The barge mast broke again (after hitting a small tree hanging over the river). 10 miles.
During the night the Corps was challenged by either a man or a beast that caused an alarm. The men prepared for action but could not locate anything in the dark. They set out at sunrise and passed several islands, before stopping for three hours to let the men rest. The “day is exceedingly hot” (Ordway). Grapes, pecans, and raspberries are found and added to their diets. Clark spent time perfecting his maps. 12 miles.
The current is strong, so the oarsmen had difficulty making headway. They encountered a quantity of driftwood and found a piece they could use for a mast. However it also detained them four hours. Drouillard reported the lands he passed through yesterday and today were very fine. Several deer killed. They camped on the opposite bank of an old French village and fort (both vacant). The hunting party did not return. 11.5 miles.
The Corps left early to a gentle breeze. They halted at a deserted trading post where the men found a stray, white/grey and “very fat” horse. The hunters killed three deer. The river had a strong current. 11 miles.
The Corps set out early to a “mighty hot” day (Whitehouse). The sand was so hot it scalded their bare feet and caused the men to drop their ropes (pulling the barge). The expedition celebrated July 4 with a cannon shot from the bow of the barge. All men received an extra ration of whiskey. A snake bit Joseph Fields on the foot and it “swelled much” (Lewis doctored it with bark). They passed the mouth of a very large lake with “many beaver” (Ordway). They also witnessed “great quantities of fish, geese and goslings” at a lake. The men dined on corn. The captains named a creek they passed as “Creek Independence.” Lewis took a walk on shore and discovered a high mound. The day ended with another shot from the cannon. 15 miles.
The Corps set out at 5 a.m. to a river that fell a little. They swam the white horse across the river to join the other horses. The men found an old Kansas Indian (vacated) village. They speculated that war caused them to leave the area. The Corps passed the bend in the river (where modern-day St. Joseph, MO is located). They see great quantities of grapes, berries and wild roses. The boat turned spun twice on the quicksand, and once on driftwood, but no damage was done. 10 miles.
They set out at dawn. The day was hot—as the “sweat pours off the men in streams” (Ordway). Clark observed “the men sweat more than is common from some cause” and thought “the Missouri’s water is the principal cause.” Hunters brought in three bucks. 12 miles.
The men depart again at dawn. The company encountered rapid water, which caused the men to use ropes to pull the barge upstream. Ordway went ashore with the horse party. He crossed a stream which the captains named for him. Clark killed a wolf and Lewis wounded another that Coulter finally killed. They thought the wolf was mad. Robert Frazier was “very sick” with sun stroke. Lewis bled him and gave a dose of niter (potassium nitrate) which relieved him much. Ordway was out all night. 14 miles.
The Corps set out early and eventually came to the Nodaway River. Frazier improved. Ordway waited at a creek for the rest of the Corps. Reuben Fields, Silas Goodrich and three other men were sick with violent headaches. Several men had boils. Captains appointed a cook (“Superintendents of Provision”) for reach mess to ensure food was “judiciously consumed.” These leaders were also responsible for all cooking utensils and exempted from guard duty, pitching tents, and collecting firewood. Hunters killed a deer. Flank hunting party did not return. 12 miles.
The party left at daylight. Robert Frazier now fully recovered. It rained most of the day. William Bratton was sent back to blaze a tree to let the land party know the boats were ahead. The bow gun fired to give position. They passed the campsites of French hunters and witnessed lots of beaver and fish. The four men in the land party found a campfire recently extinguished. It could be a Sioux war party. Everything and everyone were ready to defend. 14 miles.
The Corps set out early. A party of the Corps were camped on the other side of the river. The men of the party who were fatigued were improving. They found wild rice, red and white roses and strawberries. The hunters brought in two deer and found a great number of goslings along the riverbanks. Lewis killed two goslings. 10 miles.
The Corps left early. The cloudy weather suggested rain, but it didn’t. The expedition reached Nebraska. Drouillard and J. Fields sent out to hunt. Clark explored on shore (“thickly interwoven with grape vines”) and found a horse (“left last winter by some hunting party”). He rejoined the party on the Sand Island opposite the mouth of the Big Nemaha River (Otoe: “miry water”). Drouillard killed six deer and Fields shot one. According to Sgt. Floyd, “the men is all sick.” 6 miles.
The company rested to wash clothes, inspect their guns, and inventory ammunition. Gass recorded “the men...were much fatigued.” The captains made observations. The hunters killed four deer (Drouillard shot two of them). Alexander Willard was found asleep at his post the previous night and tried by court martial. He pled guilty to the charge of “lying down” but not guilty for “going to sleep.” Willard was convicted on both charges (punishable by death) but sentenced to 100 lashes on his bare back to be given on the next four evenings at sunset. Ordway the only enlisted man to mention the court-martial of Willard (as he was the one who discovered him asleep). After an early breakfast, Clark and five men explored the Big Nemaha River about five miles. They found several artificial mounds or graves (“strong indication of this country being once thickly settled...[by] Indians”), plus grapes and chokecherries. The hunters saw elk and buffalo.
Left at sunrise to a gentle breeze. The worked their way through several sand bars. Clark walked on shore and killed two goslings. Others shot two more geese, including an old goose who couldn’t fly. They camped on a large sand-bar. A violent storm on the morning of July 14. “blew overboard” all of Clark’s notes and observations for July 13. Clark relied on the sergeant notes and his own recollection. 20 miles.
A hard rain prevented departure until 7 a.m. and then about a mile into the day, another violent and sudden storm hit them that, fortunately, didn’t last too long. However, it was so bad the men had to get into the water to hold the boats steady. The barge could’ve been “dashed to pieces in an instant, had not the party leaped [into action] and anchored her. Two barrels of water was removed from the barge. After the storm the river became “instantaneously as smooth as glass” (Clark). George Gibson had less problem with the pirogues (about a half mile upstream). Reuben Fields (in charge of the horses) did not join the company the previous night but finally returned. Clark and Drouillard went ashore to shoot at some elk, but they were too far away. Ordway recounted these elk were “the first wild ones I ever saw.” One elk was slightly wounded. “Seaman” (Lewis’ dog) swam after him because he had trotted into the river, but got away. According to Clark, “several men unwell with boils” and other maladies. It was also their first experience with cockleburs, a sticky nuisance that attaches itself to clothing. 9 miles.
A heavy fog delayed departure until 7 a.m. Drouillard and Floyd went ashore. Around 9 a.m. Clark, Ordway and another man explored the south side and prairie all day (“high prairies are also good land covered with grass entirely void of timber except what grows on the water”). Clark spied only three deer and three fawn, but found “great quantities of grapes, plums,...hazelnuts and gooseberries.” Lewis noted his chronometer had stopped working. In the evening, they met the boats. The horse party under Reuben Fields and Silas Goodrich returned. Joseph Fields killed a deer. Two men very unwell. One man had a painful infection (“felon”) on his fingertip. 10 miles.
The Corps set out very early. The river was very twisty now. The barge got snagged more often as the river’s volume continued to fall. The captains stopped at noon for observations. They saw a lot of bird nests in the side of the banks (probably bank swallows). Two deer were killed by the horse party. Lewis reset his chronometer “as near noon as this observation would enable me.” They saw more elk. A good wind meant “good sailing” (Whitehouse). 20 miles.
NOTE: On this day Jefferson met with the Osage (12 men and two boys of “gigantic” size) in Washington, D.C. Jefferson wrote Robert Smith, Secretary of the Navy, that “They are the finest men we have ever seen. They have yet learnt the use of spiritous liquors. We shall endeavor to impress them strongly not only with our justice and liberality, but with our power...”
The party delayed a full day to hunt and make observations. The captains needed to correct the chronometer which ran down two days earlier. Lewis and Drouillard explored the country and saw the headwaters of the Nishnabotna River (opposite present-day Peru, NE). Drouillard shot three deer. Reuben Fields also killed a deer. Several in the party had tumors, including “some of which is very troublesome and difficult to cure” (Clark).
On a fair morning, they set out at sunrise under a gentle breeze. Expedition reached Iowa. The Missouri was falling fast. They found a starving dog left by a hunting party or Indians. The hungry dog was given some meat but would not approach any of the Corps men. They thought it’s a sign of Indians. The men were seeing more elk and less deer. Drouillard killed two deer. 18 miles.
The Corps set out at dawn. Clark ate a breakfast of roasted deer ribs with coffee, then walked the shore “intending to keep up with the boat.” He saw fresh elk sign. They named a small island “Butter Island” because it was the place they used up all their butter. Sandbars were more numerous and dangerous. Drouillard killed two deer and saw a great number of goslings. The river was still falling a little every day. Several men gathered chokecherries and added it to their whiskey barrel. Whitehouse noted how they saw two catfish clutched together and could not separate. One of the Frenchmen killed the two fish with one shot. 11 miles.
The company departed at sunrise in heavy fog and a “very cool” day. Drouillard was sick. Bratton swam across the river to get this gun and clothes that he left the previous night when he gathered “sweet flag” plants. Clark and Reuben Fields explored a creek for several miles and crossed the plains back to the Missouri in hopes of finding elk. They were gone all day and only killed a large yellow wolf. Several recent fires on the prairie were noted. Lewis attempted to kill two swans but failed. Clark claimed “the party has been much healthier on this voyage than any other parties in the same situation.” Boils (blisters) were troublesome and “under the arms, on the legs and in parts most exposed to action.” Clark noted the Pawnee and Oto Indians were out in the prairies hunting buffalo and he feared they would not connect. Pryor and Joseph Fields killed two deer. 18 miles.
The Corps set out very early before sunrise, around 4 a.m. according to Floyd. Some rain around 7 a.m. With a good breeze to help, the party reached the mouth of the Platte (French for “flat”) River around 10 a.m. The captains took six men and ascended the Platte in a pirogue for about a mile (but it proved too rapid). Peter Cruzatte (who was half Omaha and likely native to the area) had spent the last two winters on the Platte. He reported it couldn’t be navigated by boats or pirogue (the Indians used a bull boat instead). The captains tested the fastness of the Missouri River current (which ranged from 3 to 7 mph). Drouillard’s horse party killed four deer. Clark noted that “a great number of wolves about us this evening.” 15 miles.
The Corps set out early in fair weather. The party traveled ten miles beyond the Platte to a wooded (Small Willow) island where they camped for a few days to make celestial observations and refresh the men. They selected a deeply shaded campsite that would be comfortable. From this location they hoped to send dispatches back to the government and Jefferson. They also wanted to find some of the Otoe chiefs, to inform them of the change of government. Clark estimated they had traveled 642 miles since leaving Camp Dubois. The Corps pitched their tents and made bowers for shade, with the expectation of holding a council with the Otoe Indians of the lower Platte. The river rose a little. The hunters killed five deer and two beaver. 10 miles.
A fair morning with a hard wind in the afternoon. The captains sent a party to look for timber (for oars) and to hunt. The Corps dried out their provisions. Lewis and Clark prepared dispatches and made maps of the country already navigated (but there would be no dispatch nor maps sent home). Drouillard and Cruzatte sent to the Otoes or Pawnee (if they saw them) with a gift of tobacco and invitation for the chiefs to visit. There were prairie fires that Clark believed would bring the Otoe and Pawnee back to their tribal homes (from their summer hunting grounds). A U.S. flag was hoisted over the camp to show that a new nation possessed these lands. Five deer were killed. One man with a “bad rising” (boil or abscess) on his chest.
It’s another fair day with some rain in the morning. A hard south wind blew that’s “cool and refreshing.” The men named their camp “White Catfish Camp” because Silas Goodrich caught one of these large white fish (a new species of catfish). Several hunters were out but game was scarce. Two deer were killed. Clark engaged in making a map. Lewis prepared papers to send back by pirogue. Great quantities of ripe grapes were found. Four men made oars.
Another fair morning. Several hunters were sent out again. At 2 p.m. Drouillard and Cruzatte returned but found no Indians, although there was fresh sign of their presence. John Collins killed two deer and Joseph Fields killed a turkey. Several grouse were seen.
The wind blew hard and raised such clouds of sand that Clark couldn’t complete his map in the tent, so he moved to the boat. However, the boat rolled so much that he couldn’t do his work there either, so he was compelled to go into the woods and battle the mosquitoes. Clark also lanced a tumor (boil or abscess) on the left breast of one of the men. It discharged a half a pint of matter. Only one deer killed. Five beaver caught near camp. They were skinned and the men enjoyed the meat.
A rain shower in the morning. Around 10 a.m., the Corps reloaded the boats, finished the oars and crossed the horses to the other side where the traveling was better. At 1 p.m. “we proceed,ed on” under a gentle breeze, even though the “river very crooked” (Ordway). Clark and Fields walked on shore all afternoon. They explored several mounds of different shapes and sizes. They did not reach camp until after dark (the place they camped was near present-day Omaha, NE). George Shannon and Clark both killed a deer. Joseph Whitehouse cut his knee bad. According to Clark, “the mosquitoes are so thick and troublesome that it was disagreeable and painful to continue a moment still.” 15 miles.
The Corps set out early on a dark and smokey morning. There was some rain. The hard NW wind slowed progress and the barge got stuck on a sandbar. The men on shore reported the firing of guns to the southwest. George Drouillard and his party brought a Missouri Indian into camp. This Indian reported he lived with the Otoe Indians about four miles from the river, but that this tribe was currently on the plants hunting buffalo. Drouillard killed a deer. 11 miles.
A dark and rainy Sunday morning. It rained all night long. They departed at 5 a.m. A French man named La Liberte and the Missouri Indian sent to invite the Otoe Indians to meet at the next high point of land. La Liberte never returned and that caused concern (did the Indians kill him?). The men caught three very large and fat catfish (one nearly white). Alexander Willard left his tomahawk at the previous night’s camp and sent back to get it. In attempting to cross a creek on a log, Willard lost his gun in the water. The white pirogue returned to help him find it. Reuben Fields dove into the creek and retrieved it, sunk deep in the mud. Two men were sick and several had boils. The Missouri River was very crooked at this place. They passed a place with “much falling timber,” according to Clark, that was “apparently the ravages of a dreadful hurricane (tornado) which had passed...[in the past] twelve months.” They passed and named a creek after John Potts. Joseph Fields shot a badger—the first seen by the party. The skin was saved to send back to Jefferson. 10 miles.
The Corps depart at dawn and traveled to an open prairie to form a camp. They now waited for the return of La Liberte and the Indians. The white horse they found near the Kansas river on July 3 died. He fell down a bank into the water and nearly drowned on July 28. A flag was raised over the camp. Lewis and Clark walked in the high prairie and were amazed at the views they witnessed. Several catfish caught and a beaver, turkeys, geese, and ducks. The men were in high spirits, even though many suffered from bad blisters. The Fields brothers went hunting and did not return to camp in the evening. Drouillard killed a deer. Two other hunters killed three more deer. Joseph Fields shot a badger (the first they’ve seen) and stuffed him. They called the place “Council Bluffs” (which is 15 miles from the present-day Council Bluffs, IA). Clark drew several maps of the rivers. Sgt. Floyd was sick. He has a bad cold. A “great number of mosquitoes this evening” (Clark). 4 miles.
Another fair day. Three hunters inspected their traps. Drouillard killed a very fat buck. The Fields brothers returned without their horses but killed three deer. A search party (the Fields brothers and two others) went out to find the horses but returned at dark without them (they suspected the horses were stolen by Indians). Drouillard caught a live young beaver and planned to tame and keep as a pet. Sgt. Floyd had been very sick for several days but was now feeling better. He wrote in his journal that he “recovered his health again.” La Liberte still hasn’t returned with the Indian party. They continued to wait. Clark: “Mosquitoes are yet troublesome.”