Lewis and Clark Title Timeline 1804


Fort Mandan, ND (Late Fall and Winter)

October 28, 1804 – December 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 and returned to St. Louis, MO on September 23, 1806.

October 28:

A clear and windy day. Many Hidatsa (Gros Ventres) Indians came to hear the council, but the wind was so violent it postponed the gathering, as the Mandan chiefs could not cross the Missouri. The chiefs who were able to make it were treated to a barge tour. Lewis, Clark, an interpreter and a Mandan chief named Black Cat walked the shoreline looking for timber to build a fort. Drouillard caught two beaver.


October 29:

After breakfast the captains visited with a chief named Cherry Grows on a Bush. His son was currently at war with the Snake (Shoshone). At 10 a.m., the bow cannon was fired and the council began with the chiefs of the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes. The chiefs in attendance, included: Big White, Little Raven, Raven Good Man, Black Cat, White Buffalo Robe Unfolded, and Black Moccasins.

The captains “delivered a long speech of substance” like what they told the other Indians. One of the old Gros Ventre chiefs was restless and wanted to leave (he believed his camp was vulnerable to hostile Indians). Another chief rebuked him. The captains mentioned how the Arikara chief came with them to promote peace. The chiefs all smoked together. They also spoke about the theft incident where Mandans stole from two French traders.

The captains distributed gifts and medals to each chief, plus suit coats, hats and a U.S. flag. They asked the chiefs to respond to the issues they presented the next day, then fired the air gun (astonishing the natives much). The Arikara chief wants to go home. A fast-moving prairie fire swept through the area around 8 p.m., killing a man and woman (another family was severely burned). The Indian chiefs departed in the evening and “seemed well pleased.”


October 30:

Several chiefs came to visit the captains. A chief who missed the council also asked for a recap of the speech. Clark took eight men in the smaller (white) pirogue and ventured seven miles upriver to scout a location for winter quarters but decided against it because game and wood was scarce. They returned to find many Indians at camp. Clark gave his men some whiskey and they danced (pleasing the Indians).


October 31:

The Mandan chief (Black Cat) invited the captains to his lodge for some corn and to hear his response. Lewis and Clark were treated to a great ceremony and seated on a buffalo robe next to the chief. They smoked with several old Mandans. Whitehouse observed Black Cat’s Mandan village was about 200 lodges, capable of housing 1500 Indians. He also noted they “behaved extremely kind to the party, and the only animal among them, was some horses, which are stout serviceable animals.”

At the gathering Black Cat said he believed the captains’ message and desired peace among the tribes, including the Arikaras. He said he’d send another chief with some men to meet with the Arikaras and smoke for peace. Black Cat also returned two of the stolen French traps, pleasing the captains. Clark met with other chiefs to hear their replies. Later Big White showed up dressed in his new suit and asked to watch the Corps dance (and they did, gratifying the chief). The wind blew hard all day. Lewis noted they’d winter in the area.


November 1:

In the morning Big White and two other chiefs from the lower Mandan village came to request a council and promised peace with the Arikara. This Mandan tribe had battled the Arikara (without a full declaration of war) after they killed some of their chiefs. Clark noted the Mandan “killed [the Arikara] like the birds, and were tired [of killing them).” They also promised to send a chief and men to the broker peace. In the late afternoon, the Corp moved downstream. The river is now very shallow with many sandbars. Big White affirmed the move and said “if we eat you shall eat, if we starve you must starve also.” It was a very windy day.


November 2:

Lewis and some men returned to the Mandan village to procure corn, while Clark fixed a place to build their winter quarters. The area was well supplied with wood. The Arikara chief headed home with several Mandans accompanying him. Lewis returned in the evening with 11 bushels of corn. The winter quarters consisted of two lines of buildings with four rooms each (14’ square). Fort Mandan was named in honor of their Indian neighbors. The site of Fort Mandan is about 14 miles west of Washburn, ND. One of the French men was discharged and went back down river.


November 3:

The Corps began to build their fort (likely helped by the skills of Sgt. Patrick Gass, a carpenter). It will be in the shape of a triangle with two sides of barracks and the third side a picket fenced wall. The outer walls were 18 feet high. In the middle they built two rooms for provisions and storage. The Corps needs a lot of meat for the winter months. Six men dispatched to hunt down river for big game (elk, buffalo, deer).

Jusseaume, his wife and children came to live with the men and serve as an interpreter. Jean Baptiste Lepage took the place of the discharged John Newman (to be sent home in the spring). Little Raven brought the company 60 lbs. of dried buffalo meat, a robe and a pot of meal (all carried on his wife’s back). The captains gave Little Raven some tobacco, and his wife an axe and small articles. The men were “indulged” with a full dram of whiskey for supper. Two beaver trapped but they also lost a trap.


November 4:

The Corps continued to cut wood and build their fort. Toussaint Charbonneau, a French interpreter who spoke Hidatsa, visited the captains. He told them he had two Snake (Shoshone) wives. The captains invite him to join their company and bring one of his wives to interpret for the Shoshone.


November 5:

Clark woke early to help his men build the fort. They dug a latrine a hundred yards above the fort “to keep the place healthy.” They saw large numbers of Indians pass (hunting). He learned of a Mandan camp that trapped a 100 antelope by “driving them [into] a strong pen.” Clark’s rheumatism is back with a vengeance. Lewis is writing all day. Four Assiniboine (Nakota) arrived at the Hidatsa camp and told them 50 lodges were coming.


November 6:

The previous night the sergeant of the guard awoke the captains to view the northern lights. A cold, hard wind blew all day. Their Arikara interpreter Gravolin, Paul Primeau, Jean Baptiste La Jeunesse and two engages depart for the Arikaras. Grovolin will eventually accompany the Arikaras to Washington, D.C. in the spring. They see large numbers of geese flying south.


November 7:

A warm but foggy day for the men to work on their winter quarters. They started building the chimneys and worked on the captains room. They also filled cracks with old tarp and grass, covered with “a thick coat of earth over all, which will make it very warm” (Ordway).


November 8:

A cloudy morning. The men continued to work on their winter quarter. One of the interpreters went to the Mandan village and returned to inform the captains that three Englishmen from the Hudson Bay Company head arrived.


November 9:

A very hard frost. The Corps continued to build their cabins “under many disadvantages” claimed Clark. Several Indians visit and share reports. They killed a long-tail weasel (previously unknown to science). Lewis walked to a nearby hill to scout the land. The cottonwood timber in the area is “tall and heavy” with water. Clark noted how the Mandans horses graze on grass during the day but at night feed on cottonwood sticks.


November 10:

The men rose early to work on the fort. A number of Indians visit the camp. A chief named The Coal brought a side of buffalo and the captains gave him a few small things for him and his family. They crossed the river in a buffalo skin canoe and The Coal’s wife carried it overland on her back. The day was very cold.


November 11:

Another cold day with ducks headed south. They are daubing the chinks in the walls and covering the roofs. Two men cut themselves with an ax. The two wives of Charbonneau came to see the captains and brought them four buffalo robes. The captains gave them to the party, including Ordway.


November 12:

A very cold night, but the men continued construction on their winter quarters. The Mandan chief Big White arrived with 100 lbs of meat (carried by his wife). The captains gave her a small ax and she was “much pleased.” Three men are sick (likely with venereal disease, as Clark’s entry is “blanks” the illness). The temperatures are now “freezing” all day. Some ice on the Missouri.


November 13:

It’s a snowy, cold morning. The ice is now running in the river. The men rose early to unload the barge and prepare the boat for winter. Around 10 a.m. the Mandan chief Black Cat and seven Assiniboine arrived for a visit (they wanted whiskey but received none). Clark gave Black Cat some tobacco to smoke with his people.

Lewis took six men upriver to the Mandan Village to buy stone for their chimney hearth. He returned in the evening “much fatigued” due to getting stuck on a sandbar. The squad had to be in the cold water for a couple hours and their clothing froze to their skin. One of the men was treated for frostbite. Thankfully they had some whiskey to “revive their spirits.”


November 14:

A cloudy morning, with some snow. The ice is now running thick on the river. Their interpreter informed the captains that three bands of the Assiniboine (70 lodges) are at the Mandan Village. The captains wonder what has delayed the hunters sent south several days ago. They send a French man in the pirogue to find them. In the evening two Frenchmen bring back 20 beavers but have not seen the hunting party. The Corps are now dipping into their pork supply to feed the men.


November 15:

The ice continued to thicken on the Missouri. At 10 a.m. Drouillard and the dispatched French man return with news that hunters are camped 30 miles downstream, loaded with meat. They sent a French man downstream to tell the men to return at once. They don’t want them trapped due to ice on the river. They nail tin to the pirogue’s bow to protect it going through the ice. There are very few ducks, geese or swans anymore. Not one Indian came to the fort.


November 16:

A very cold and frosty day. All the trees are covered with ice. “Such a frost I never saw in the States,” wrote Ordway. The men moved into the fort even though its not finished. They work on a smoke house and provision hut. Several Indians visit with buffalo robs and corn, hoping to trade for a pistol (no deal).


November 17:

A cold night. The ice on the river is thicker. Around 11 a.m., the French man returned with a fat elk in his pirogue. Several Indians visit and one chief stayed the day. The men are busy finishing their winter quarters but they are all moved in.


November 18:

A very cold morning with wind. The Mandan chief Black Cat visited the fort. His wife brought a load of corn for the men (on her back). Black Cat had many questions about white culture. He mentioned the previous day’s council concerning “recent insults of the Assiniboine.” In general its’ going to be difficult to keep peace among the different Indian tribes. The men finished the roof on the smoke house.


November 19:

The hunters returned with 32 deer, 12 elk and a buffalo, plus several kinds of small game. All the meat is poled and smoked. It’s a “timely supply” according to Clark. More Indians at the fort all day. They shared several Indian stories with Clark. The wind blew hard, but it’s a generally pleasant day. They daubed the smoke house and provision store.


November 20:

The captains finally moved into their room. It’s another temperate day with very hard winds. Toussaint Charbonneau arrived with four horses loaded with meat. Several Indians arrived to dine on the fresh meat he brought, including three Mandan chiefs (who remain all day). The chiefs are curious about their “works” (jobs, products, technology). They tell the Corps that the Sioux are settled on the Missouri near the Dog River and threatening to attack them during the winter. They treated two Arikara “very roughly” (whipping them and stealing their horses) when they “carried the pipe of peace” to the Sioux. The Sioux are angry the Arikara made peace with the Mandans through Lewis and Clark.


November 21:

A cloudy and warm day. The captains dispatched a pirogue to gather stone for their chimneys. Many Indians visit the fort. George Drouillard seriously injured his hand, but the Corps remain in “high spirits.” The warmer temperatures cleared the river of ice.


November 22:

Clark dispatched Sgt. Pryor and five men to take a pirogue to get more corn. They returned with 80 bushels. At 10 a.m., a sentinel alarmed Clark about an Indian man attempting to murder his wife in the interpreter’s hut. Clark spoke to the Indian and forbade such an act near the fort. That’s when Clark learned that one of his sergeants had slept with the woman...and the Indian husband no longer wanted her.

The captains directed Sgt. Ordway to give the Indian man some gifts, then told him he “believed not one man of the party had touched his wife except the one [the Indian husband] had given the use of her for a night, in his own bed.” Clark said his men were ordered not to touch this Indian woman or the wife of any Indian, or even the wife of any other man. He told the husband to take his wife home and live “happily together.” The Mandan chief Black Cat arrived, learned of the incident, and gave the husband a lecture. Black Cat and his family stayed the night.


November 23:

A pleasant and warm day. A pirogue was sent for more stone and some other men worked on a large rope (made from nine strands of elk skin) for pulling the barge. Several men have colds. Shields is dealing with rheumatism.


November 24:

Another warm day. The men worked on finishing their winter quarters and completed the large rope. Several Indians visit. The guard reduced to a sergeant and three men.


November 25:

A warm and pleasant day. Lewis, six men and two interpreters visited Indians in the neighboring areas. The rest of the men finished their cabins. Two chiefs came to visit, including and Hidatsa named Red Shield. Clark gave him a handkerchief and a saw band, but without interpreters the captain was unable to communicate with the chiefs. Still had several men suffering with bad colds.


November 26:

Just prior to dawn the wind shifted and blew hard and cold all day. Snow seems on the way. Little work was done, it was too cold.


November 27:

A very cold night. The river is crowded with floating ice. Lewis returned from visiting area villages. He had two Hidatsa chiefs with him—Big Steeler and Tail of Calumet Bird—plus another “prominent” individual. There’s a rumor among the Hidatsa that the Corps planned to join the Sioux and destroy them sometime in the winter. Lewis, however, convinced the Hidatsa that these reports were false and that all the Indians in the region treat the captains and the Corps with great respect.

Seven French traders from the North West Company arrived, one of whom spoke unfavorably about the Corps’ intentions. The two Hidatsa chiefs were happy with their treatment and the Corps, especially after several of the men danced for them (including one on his head!). Around 8 p.m. it began to snow.


November 28:

A very cold and “disagreeable” morning. The river is full of floating ice. The snow fell all day. No work is done. The Mandan chief Black Cat came to visit with a couple chiefs. They showed the Indian leaders some of their technology and gave them presents (handkerchiefs, arm bands, paint and tobacco). There was some conversation about a British trader who was handing out flags and medals like Lewis and Clark. The captain told the chiefs that “those symbols were not to be received” as it would create displeasure with the Great American Father (Jefferson). Ordway recorded there’s some “jealousy” between the French interpreter Jusseaume and Drouillard.


November 29:

A very cold and windy day with more overnight snow (now over a foot deep). A few men hunted during the day, and one killed an old elk with trophy horns (but the meat was not worth eating). The river fell two feet leaving their barge on dry ground. The men removed any items still inside and “let her lay as she appeared to be safe.” The captains met with the one of the men of the trader handing out flags and medals to the Indians. They informed them to cease and desist that activity. Sgt. Pryor dislocated his shoulder taking down the mast. It took four attempts to finally get it back in place.


November 30:

Clark took 23 men to track down a Sioux party who killed a Mandan, wounded two more and stole nine horses. There’s more talk of additional attacks by the Sioux. Clark hoped to gather additional warriors from the Mandan. The chiefs were alarmed at the “formidable appearance” of Clark’s soldiers. However, after a long discussion, the chiefs felt it’s too cold to fight, plus the Sioux were too far gone. It would be better to pursue the Sioux in the spring. Clark told the chiefs that he intended to defend them as long as the Corps remained in the area. Clark and the men returned to camp in the evening and gave his men some rum (made from molasses). The river is now iced over in several spots.


December 1:

A fair day. The men began to build “pickets” to complete the third wall of their fort. An Indian arrived from the Mandan Village to inform the captains that many Cheyenne Indians were in the area. A Scotsman and trader from the Hudson Bay Company visited the fort. He brought several goods from the company (located 8-10 days to the north) to trade with the Mandan.


December 2:

The early morning hours turned “very warm” (enough to thaw). At 11 a.m., the captains were visited by several Mandan chiefs, four Cheyenne Indians and several other young men. They want to smoke a pipe of peace with the Mandans. Lewis and Clark explained their intentions and encouraged them to live in peace. The Cheyenne were given a flag and tobacco, plus a letter to their two French interpreters currently living among the Arikara. The letter related to relations between the Sioux and the Arikaras, encouraging both tribes to live in peace. Around 3 p.m. the Mandans and Cheyenne Indians left the fort.


December 3:

Cold and windy. The men continued to build the picket wall to complete the fort.


December 4:

A raw and cloudy day. Black Cat and two young chiefs visit the fort and, as is their custom, stay the day. The river rose an inch. The interpreter Jusseaume is discovered to be “assuming and discontented” (Clark).


December 5:

A very cold morning with some snow. The men created a platform on top the smoke house for a guard to walk. Two traders from the Hudson Bay Company arrived to tell the captains their party of five were leaving in two days to their post on the Assiniboine river. Several Indians visited and brought pumpkins.


December 6:

A cold and violent wind blew all day. It was 10 degrees with some new snow (delaying the work of the men). At 9 a.m. a Mandan Indian and his wife arrived with some meat for the Corp’s interpreter. He was dressed in buffalo skin moccasins, antelope skin leggings and a buffalo robe (with 14 brass rings on his fingers). Brass is a metal of which the Mandans are “very fond of” (Clark).


December 7:

The Mandan chief Big White informed the captains that a large herd of buffalo was near their fort and coming towards the river. Lewis and a party of 15 men joined the Indians to hunt the beasts and killed fourteen (the Indians killed 30 or 40 with bow and arrow). However, the brutal cold plus numerous wolves meant the Corps could only harvest five. Another cow bison (with calf) was killed on the ice (she had fallen through) and butchered back at the fort. The prairie was “black with buffalo.” They also observed a large herd of antelope. The temperature was brutally cold (-1 below). Three men were badly frostbitten (feet and ears).


December 8:

A bitter cold day (low temperature of -12 below). The air “thick with ice” and “like a fog” (Ordway). Clark took 15 men to hunt with the Indians, and killed eight bison and a deer. He brought two cows back to the fort and left two men with the meat to skin the remaining buffalo and keep the wolves away. York’s feet were badly frostbitten, as well as his penis (Clark). Clark is very tired from chasing buffalo all day. The snow is 10 inches deep. A couple men slipped and hurt their hips.


December 9:

A warmer day greets the Corps (7 degrees). Lewis took 18 men (including Gass) and four horses to hunt buffalo, and stayed out all night. They killed nine bison but several were “so meager” that they were not butchered. The did bring back the best meat possible and left the rest to the wolves. Several Indians visit the fort and bring “fat meat” for the officers.


December 10:

The temperature plummets again (-10 below). Gass said they experimented with “proof spirits” (liquor) and discovered it froze solid in just 15 minutes. Due to the brutal cold, the guard had to be relieved on the hour. Lewis returned around noon but left six men to prepare and pack the meat on the horses. He agreed it was a “disagreeable night” sleeping “in the snow on a cold point with one small blanket.” For breakfast they dined on “marrow bones” (Gass). Buffalo were seen crossing the river and none of them broke through the ice. Two buffalo killed by Drouillard.


December 11:

A brutally cold (-21 below) morning. The icy fog is thick. Clark dispatched three horses to retrieve meat and to inform all the hunters to return to the fort. All were safely back by evening, although several had frostbite. The weather was so cold that they had to leave several buffalo kills undressed. The Mandan chief Black Cat visited.


December 12:

Another bitter morning (-38 below). Ordway noted it was so cold the men did little but retrieve wood for fires and make three sleds to haul meat. So far the rooms are warm and comfortable, but the outside fort guard had to be changed out on the hour. Clark lined his gloves made a cap from the skin of a lynx. There’s word that great numbers of antelope are near the fort but the captains didn’t think it was prudent to hunt in such bitter cold weather. They’re bodies simply aren’t used to this type of cold. Clark measured the ice on the river and it was 500 yards, bank to bank.


December 13:

It’s a modest heat wave and “fine day” (only -20 below zero). Joseph Fields went hunting and killed a buffalo cow and calf. The men saw many Indians on the prairie returning with their horses loaded with meat. One of the natives killed an antelope and gave it to Lewis and Clark. A couple men in Ordway’s squad visited the Mandan village to buy corn, beans, paint and fire rings.


December 14:

The temps continue to climb. The mercury stood at 0 degrees at dawn, with three inches of new snow during the day. Clark went with 14 men down river to hunt buffalo but returned with a couple deer. The buffalo have moved off the river. Clark and his men camped all night in hopes they’d return. Several Mandans, including chief Big White, visited the fort (he dined with Lewis for supper). At one point there were 14 Indians crowded into one of the rooms.


December 15:

Clark and his men returned to fort to find several Mandan chiefs still present. Clark noted they saw no buffalo, even though they decided to hunt the other side of the river. Another couple of inches of snow fell. A party of men went to the Mandan villages to trade for more corn. They found several chiefs and warriors playing a game of hoop outside. Several Mandans families proved very friendly. They opened their tipi for the men, treating them to “different kinds of victules.”


December 16:

At dawn the temperature was -22. Traders Hugh Heney, George Budge and Rancois-Antoine Larocque delivered a letter from Charles Chaboillez, North West Company (on the Assiniboine River), who expressed “a great anxiety to serve [the Corps] in anything in his power (Clark).” Essentially they wanted to know the Corps motives for traveling through the area and learn more about the transition of government. The traders stayed at the fort for the night. Some of the corpsmen, including Gass, traveled to the Mandan Village and were “treated with much kindness” (Gass).


December 17:

A brutal and bitter day. The temperatures plunged again to -45. A trader named Hugh Heney needed his horse sled fixed and Sgt. Gass it for him. He gave the captains some map sketches of the land between the Mississippi and the Missouri. He also gave them an Indian map of the land to the west into Montana. There’s word that the buffalo have returned to the river. Some were close enough to the fort that the men cutting wood scared them off.


December 18:

Another bitter day at over -40. So cold the fort’s guard was changed out every 30 minutes. The trader Heney left for the Hidatsa camp. Clark sent out seven men to hunt buffalo, but the weather was too cold and returned empty handed. Several Indians also tried to hunt but gave up and visited the fort instead.

Clark focused on fixing a problem between Toussaint Charbonneau and the Mandan chief Big White. Evidently another French trader from the Northwest Company played a trick on Big White. He told him that Charbonneau owed him a horse. Consequently Big White went and took (stole) a horse, upsetting the Corp’s new Hidatsa interpreter. Big White returned the horse, as Indian custom dictated.


December 19:

A clear and “pleasant” day. The weather “moderated” since yesterday, allowing the men to work with setting up their pickets. However, it’s still cold enough that only half the men could only stand to be outside for 30 minutes before returning inside.


December 20:

The temperatures continue to climb. It’s 37 degrees and the snow melted fast. The men continue to put up pickets near the rivers.


December 21:

Another warm day and the snow continued to melt. The men continued to work the pickets. The Indian man that Clark stopped from murdering his wife visited the fort. He was jealous that one of the Corps men had slept with his wife. The man brought his two wives and anxiously wanted to reconcile with the corps man. Another Indian woman brought her child (with an abscess on its back) for Lewis to doctor, offering corn in trade.


December 22:

More pleasant and moderate weather. Several Mandan Indian women (and men dressed in women’s clothing) visited the fort. They wanted to trade corn, beans and moccasins for “little things” (glass beads, buttons, old shirts, awls, knives) The captains bought a set of horns from a bighorn sheep.


December 23:

Another fine day where great numbers of Indians, including the chief Little Crow and his family (wife and son), came to the fort with more corn to trade. Lewis gave him and his wife a few presents. The wife returned the favors with a traditional Mandan dish: a kettle of beans, corn and chokecherries (the Clark claimed was “palatable”). The Mandan chiefs are now fond of staying overnight at the fort, but Ordway noted they are beginning to become “troublesome in [the] huts.”


December 24:

Some new snow in the morning. Several chiefs, men, women and children at the fort. Many are there to trade but others just to look around. The captains gave three Mandan chiefs a highly prized and valuable “fellet” of sheep skin (2 inches wide). The men finally finished the pickets around the fort and set up a blacksmith’s shop. It’s Christmas eve so the men fired their cannons to celebrate. They dined on flour, dried apples and peppers to celebrate Christmas in festive, proper manner.


December 25:

Clark awakened by three volleys of gunfire from both the men and Frenchmen to celebrate Christmas Day. Everyone is in a merry mood. Clark gave the Corps some brandy and allowed them to fire the cannons. The men then raised the U.S. flag for the first time over Fort Mandan (and around 10 a.m. toasted with a second round of brandy).

Around 1 p.m. they ate dinner and at 2:30 p.m. they started the dance. The Indians did not visit, as it was explained to them that Christmas was “a great medicine day” for the Corps. Some men went hunting. The rest cleared out a room to hold a dance. With exception to the three wives of Charbonneau and Jusseaume, the men “frolicked” without any women present until 9 p.m.

In the end, it was a day that was “all in peace and quietness.” In fact, Gass noted they “lived in peace and tranquility in the fort” for the rest of December, although they were still visited by the natives.


December 26:

At temperate day with no Indians visiting the fort, but several men visited the Mandan Village. A trader from the North West Company arrived to use of their interpreters for a trade with the Hidatsa. He informed the captains that a party of the Hidatsa had pursued the Assiniboine for stealing their horses...and stole back at least eight of them.


December 27:

A little snow fell and the temperatures are colder. The men laid a floor in the interpreter’s room and finished the blacksmiths shop. Several Mandans visited the fort and were surprised to witness the method of blacksmithing (Joseph Shields and Alexander Willard were both blacksmiths). They repaired expedition equipment plus made tomahawk heads to trade with the Indians.


December 28:

The wind blew hard and the frost fell like “a shower of snow.” There were also snow drifts in places. Several Indians visited.


December 29:

The temperatures fall once again below zero (-9). The men finished the floor for the interpreters. A great number of Indian men, women and children visited. They brought their axes and kettles to be fixed by the blacksmiths (in exchange for corn, beans and squash). One man went hunting and killed a wolf. He kept the skin to barter with traders. An Indian stole a knife (Ordway).


December 30:

The temperatures continue to fall (-20). More Indians visit to watch the blacksmiths work the bellows and fire the iron. Besides other vegetables, the Mandans brought bread made of a parched “sweet” corn and beans that’s baked as round balls. One deer killed.


December 31:

Some wind and snow during the night. Several Indians at the fort. The blacksmiths continue to mend their axes, hoes and other equipment. The Corps received corn for payment. Some of the men went to the Mandan Village to find timber to build new pirogues.

Ordway described the fort: “The fort [is]...named Fort Mandan, is situated on the north east side of the Missouri River. It was built in a triangular form, with its base fronting the same, had a platform on the north side twelve feet high with pickets on it (six feet wide) and a room of twelve square feet, the underpart serving as a storehouse for provisions. Three sides were sixty feet in length and picketed on the front side only with pickets 18 feet long. The houses [in] which we resided...lay on the south west side. The Smith and Armor workshops was at the south point of the fort.”