Aid for the Mandans

A very cold windy day. Wind from the N.W. by W. Some snow last night. The depth of the snow is various in the woods, about 13 inches. The river closed at the village above, and fell last night two feet. Mr. Larocqueand one of his men came to visit us. We informed him what we had heard of his intentions of making chiefs, &c., and forbade him to give medals or flags to the Indians. He denied having any such intention. We agreed that one of our interpreters should speak for him on condition he did not say anything more than what tended to trade alone. He gave fair promises, &c.

Sergeant Pryor, in taking down the mast, put his shoulder out of place. We made four trials before we replaced it. A cold afternoon. Wind as usual N.W. River began to rise a little.

Captain Clark, 29 November04


This morning at 8 o'clock, an Indian called from the other side, and informed that he had something of consequence to communicate. We sent a pirogue for him, and he informed us as follows: "Five men of the Mandan nation, out hunting in a S.W. direction about eight leagues, were surprised by a large party of Sioux and Pawnees. One man was killed and two wounded with arrows, and 9 horses taken; 4 of the Wetersoon nation were missing, and they expected to be attacked by the Sioux, &c." We thought it well to show a disposition to aid and assist them against their enemies, particularly those who came in opposition to our councils. And I determined to go to the town with some men and, if the Sioux were coming to attack the nation, to collect the warriors from each village and meet them. Those ideas were also those of Captain Lewis.

I crossed the river in about an hour after the arrival of the Indian express with 23 men including the interpreters, and flanked the town and came up on the back part. The Indians, not expecting to receive such strong aid in so short a time, were much surprised, and a little alarmed at the formidable appearance of my party. The principal chiefs met me some distance from the town (say 200 yards) and invited me in to town. I ordered my party into different lodges, &c. I explained to the nation the cause of my coming in this formidable manner to their town was to assist and chastise the enemies of our dutiful children. I requested the grand chief to repeat the circumstances as they happened, which he did, as was mentioned by the express in the morning. I then informed them that if they would assemble their warriors and those of the different towns, I would go to meet the army of Sioux, &c., and chastise them for taking the blood of our dutiful children, &c. After a conversation of a few minutes among themselves, one chief-The Big Man, a Cheyenne-said they now saw that what we had told them was the truth: that when we expected the enemies of their nation were coming to attack them, or had spilled their blood, we were ready to protect them, and kill those who would not listen to our good talk. His people had listened to what we had told them, and fearlessly went out to hunt in small parties believing themselves to be safe from the other nations, and were killed by the Pawnees and Sioux.

"I knew," said he, "that the Pawnees were liars, and told the old chief who came with you (to confirm a peace with us) that his people were liars and bad men, and that we killed them like the buffalo-when we pleased. We had made peace several times and your nation has always commenced the war. We do not want to kill you, and will not suffer you to kill us or steal our horses. We will make peace with you as our two fathers have directed, and they shall see that we will not be the aggressors. But we fear the Arikaras will not be at peace long. My father, those are the words I spoke to the Arikaras in your presence. You see they have not opened their ears to your good counsels, but have spilled our blood. "Two Arikaras, whom we sent home this day, for fear of our people's killing them in their grief, informed us when they came here several days ago, that two towns of the Arikaras were making their moccasins, and that we had best take care of our horses, &c. Numbers of Sioux were in their towns and, they believed, not well disposed toward us. Four of the Wetersoons are now absent. They were to have been back in 16 days, they have been out 24. We fear they have fallen. My father, the snow is deep and it is cold. Our horses cannot travel through the plains. Those people who have spilt our blood have gone back. If you will go with us in the spring after the snow goes off, we will raise the warriors of all the towns and nations around about us, and go with you."

I told this nation that we should be always willing and ready to defend them from the insults of any nation who would dare to come to do them injury, during the time we remained in their neighborhood, and requested that they would inform us of any party who might at any time be discovered by their patrols or scouts. I was sorry that the snow in the plains had fallen so deep since the murder of the young chief by the Sioux as prevented their horses from traveling. I wished to meet those Sioux and all others who will not open their ears, but make war on our dutiful children, and let you see that the warriors of your Great Father will chastise the enemies of his dutiful children the Mandans, Wetersoons, and Minnetarees, who have opened their ears to his advice. You say that the Pawnees or Arikaras were with the Sioux. Some bad men may have been with the Sioux. You know there are bad men in all nations. Do not get mad with the Arikaras until we know if those bad men are countenanced by their nation, and we are convinced those people do not intend to follow our counsels. You know that the Sioux have great influence over the Arikaras, and perhaps have led some of them astray. You know that the Arikaras are dependent on the Sioux for their guns, powder, and ball; and it was policy in them to keep on as good terms as possible with the Sioux until they had some other means of getting those articles, &c. You know yourselves that you are compelled to put up with little insults from the Crees and Assiniboines (or Stone Indians) because if you go to war with those people, they will prevent the traders in the north from bringing you guns, powder, and ball, and by that means distress you very much. But when you will have certain supplies from your Great American Father of all those articles, you will not suffer any nation to insult you, &c.

After about two hours' conversation on various subjects, all of which tended toward their situation, &c., I informed them I should return to the Fort. The chief said they all thanked me very much for the fatherly protection which I showed toward them; that the village had been crying all the night and day for the death of the brave young man who fell, but now they would wipe away their tears and rejoice in their father's protection, and cry no more.

I then paraded and crossed the river on the ice, and came down on the north side. The snow so deep, it was very fatiguing. Arrived at the Fort after night, gave a little taffee [dram] to my party. A cold night. The river rose its former height. The chief frequently thanked me for coming to protect them; and the whole village appeared thankful for that measure.

Captain Clark, 30mber 1804<>


Wind from the N.W. All hands engaged in getting pickets, &c. At 10 o'clock, the half-brother of the man who was killed came and informed us that, after my departure last night, six Chiens [Cheyennes]-so called by the French- or Sharha Indians, had arrived with a pipe, and said that their nation was at one day's march and intended to come and trade, &c. Three Pawnees had also arrived from the nation. Their nation was then within 3 days' march, and were coming on to trade with us. Three Pawnees accompanied these Cheyennes. The Mandans call all Arikaras Pawnees; they don't use the name of Arikaras, but the Arikaras call themselves Arikaras. The Mandans apprehended danger from the Sharhas, as they were at peace with the Sioux, and wished to kill them and the Arikaras (or Pawnees), but the chiefs informed the nation it was our wish that they should not be hurt and forbid their being killed, &c. We gave a little tobacco, &c., and this man departed, well satisfied with our counsels and advice to him.

In the evening a Mr. G. Henderson arrived, in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company, sent to trade with the Gros Ventres, or Big Belles, so called by the French traders.


Captain Clark, 1 1804



A very cold day. Wind from the N.W. The Big White, grand chief of the first village, came and informed us that a large drove of buffalo was near, and his people were waiting for us to join them in a chase. Captain Lewis took 15 men and went out and joined the Indians who were, at the time he got up, killing the buffalo, on horseback with arrows, which they did with great dexterity. His party killed 10 buffalo, five of which we got to the fort by the assistance of a horse, in addition to what the men packed on their backs. One cow was killed on the ice. After drawing her out of a vacancy in the ice in which she had fallen, we butchered her at the fort. Those we did not get in were taken by the Indians under a custom which is established among them, i.e., any person seeing a buffalo lying, without an arrow sticking in him or some particular mark, takes possession. Many times, as I am told, a hunter who kills many buffalo in a chase only gets a part of one. All meat which is left out all night falls to the wolves, which are in great numbers, always in the neighborhood of the buffaloes. The river closed, opposite the Fort, last night - 1 1/2 inches thick. The thermometer stood this morning at 1 degree below zero. Three men were frostbitten badly today.


Captain Clark, 704


A very cold day. The thermometer today at 10 and 11 degrees below zero. Captain Lewis returned today at 12 o'clock, leaving 6 men at the camp to prepare the meat for to pack. Four horse loads came in. Captain Lewis had a cold. Disagreeable last night in the snow, on a cold point with one small blanket. The buffalo crossed the river below in immense herds without breaking in. Only 2 buffalo killed today, one of which was too poor to skin. The men who were frostbitten are getting better. The river rose 11/2 inch. Wind north.

Captain Clark, 10th December, 1804. Fort Mandan


A clear cold morning. The thermometer at sunrise stood at 22 degrees below zero. A very singular appearance of the moon last night, as she appeared through the frosty atmosphere. Mr. Heney from the establishment on the river Assiniboine, with a letter from Mr. Charles Chaboillez, one of the Company, arrived in six days. Mr. C., in his letter, expressed a great anxiety to serve us in anything in his power. A root described by Mr. Heney for the cure of a mad dog. Mr. Larocque, a clerk of the N.W. Company, and Mr. George Bunch, a clerk of the Hudson's Bay Company, accompanied Mr. Heney from the village.

Captain Clark, 16 December 180/P>


A very cold morning. The thermometer stood at 45 degrees below zero. We found Mr. Heney a very intelligent man, from whom we obtained some sketches of the country between the Mississippi and Missouri, and some sketches from him which he had obtained from the Indians to the west of this place, also the names and characters of the Sioux, &c. About 8 o'clock P.M., the thermometer fell to 74 degrees below the freezing point. The Indian chiefs sent word that buffalo were in our neighborhood, and if we would join them in the morning, they would go and kill them.

Captain Clark

Captain Clark, 17


The thermometer the same as last night. Messrs. Heney and Larocque left us for the Gros Ventres' camp. Sent out seven men to hunt for the buffalo. They found the weather too cold, and returned. Several Indians same who had set out with a view to kill buffalo. The river rose a little. I employ myself making a small map of connection, &c. Sent Jussome to the main chief of the Mandans to know the cause of his detaining or taking a horse of Charbonneau's, our Big Belly interpreter, which, we found, was through the rascality of one LaFrance</I>, a trader from the N.W. Company, who told this chief that CharbonneauI> owed him a horse-to go and take him. He did so, agreeable to an Indian custom. He gave up the horse.

Captain Clark, December1804


A fine day, warm, and wind from the N.W. by W. The Indian whom I stopped from committing murder on his wife, through jealousy of one of our interpreters, came and brought his two wives, and showed great anxiety to make up with the man with whom his jealousy sprang. A woman brought a child with an abscess on the lower part of the back, and offered as much corn as she could carry for some medicine. Captain Lewis administered, &c.

Captain Clark, 21 cember 184


I was awakened before day by a discharge of three platoons from the party, and the French. The men merrily disposed. I gave them all a little taffia and permitted three cannon fired at the raising of our flag. Some men went out to hunt, and the others to dancing and continued until 9 o'clock P.M., when the the frolic ended, &c.

(nnecting the country," Clark means posting new information on his map. His originals are now in the Yale University Library.)


Captain Clark, 25Christmas, 1804


Leaving the Mandans

The day was ushered in by the discharge of two cannon. We suffered 16 men with their music to visit the first village for the purpose of dancing, by-as they said-the particular request of the chiefs of that village. About 11 o'clock, I with an interpreter and two men, walked up to the village. My views were to allay some little misunderstanding which had taken place through jealousy and mortification as to our treatment toward them. I found them much pleased at the dancing of our men. I ordered my black servant to dance, which amused the crowd very much, and somewhat astonished them that so large a man should be active, &c. I went into the lodges of all the men of note, except two, who I heard had made some expressions not favorable toward us, in comparing us with the traders of the north. Those chiefs observed to us that what they said was in jest and laughter.

Captain Clark, Fort Mandan on the N.E. bank of the Missouri, 1,600 miles up00 miles up.

A cold day. Some snow. Several Indians visit us with their axes, to get them mended. I employ myself drawing a connection of the country from what information I have received. A buffalo dance (or medicine) for three nights past, in the first village. A curious custom: The old men arrange themselves in a circle, and after smoking a pipe which is handed them by a young man dressed up for the purpose, the young men who have their wives back of the circle go each to one of the old men and, with a whining tone, request the old man to take his wife, who presents herself naked, except a robe, and sleep with her. The girl then takes the old man (who very often can scarcely walk) and leads him to a convenient place for the business, after which they return to the lodge. If the old man (or a white man) returns to the lodge without gratifying the man and his wife, he offers her again and again. It is often the case that, after the second time without kissing, the husband throws a new robe over the old man, &c., and begs him not to despise him and his wife. We sent a man to this medicine dance last night, and they gave him four girls. All this is to cause the buffalo to come near, so that they may kill them.

Captain Cla

Captain Clark, 5>


A cold, clear day. Great numbers of Indians move down the river to hunt. Those people kill a number of buffalo near their villages and save a great proporhon of the meat. Their custom of making this article of life general leaves them more than half of their time without meat. Their corn and beans, &c., they keep for the summer, and as a reserve in case of an attack from the Sioux, of which they are always in dread, and seldom go far to hunt except in large parties. About l/2 the Mandan nation passed today, to hunt on the river below. They will stay out some days. Mr. Charbonneau, our interpreter, and one man who accompanied him to some lodges of the Minnetarees near the Turtle Hill, returned, both frozen in their faces. Charbonneau informs me that the clerk of the Hudson's Bay Company, with the Minnetarees, has been speaking some few expressions unfavorable toward us, and that it is said the N.W. Company intends building a fort at the Minnetarees. He saw the Grand Chief of the Big Bellies, who spoke slightingly of the Americans, saying if we would give our great flag to him he would come to see us.

Captain Clark,

Captain Clark, 13


This morning early a number of Indians, men, women, children, dogs, &c., passed down on the ice to join those that passed yesterday. We sent Sergeant Pryor and five men with those Indians to hunt. Several men with the venereal, caught from the Mandan women. One of our hunters, sent out several days ago, arrived and informs that one man-Whitehouse-is frostbitten and can't walk home.

Captain Clark, 14

Captain Clark, 14 January>

About thirty Mandans came to the fort today; 6 chiefs. Those Minnetarees told them they were liars; had told them if they came to the fort the white men would kill them. They had been with them all night, smoked the pipe and have been treated well, and the whites had danced for them, observing the Mandans were bad, and ought to hide themselves. One of the first war chiefs of the Big Bellies' nation came to see us today, with one man and his squaw to wait on him. Requested that she might be used for the night. His wife handsome. We shot the air gun and gave two shots with the cannon, which pleased them very much. The Little Crow, second chief of the lower village, came and brought us corn, &c. Four men of ours, who had been hunting, returned; one frosted.

This war chief gave us a chart, in his way, of the Missouri. He informed us of his intentions of going to war in the spring against the Snake Indians. We advised him to look back at the number of nations who had been destroyed by war, and reflect upon what he was about to do; observing, if he wished, the happiness of his nation, he would be at peace with all. By that, by being at peace, and having plenty of goods amongst them, and a free intercourse with those defenseless nations, they would get, on easy terms, a greater number of horses; and that nation would increase. If he went to war against those defenseless people, he would displease his Great Father, and he would not receive that protection and care from him, as other nations who listened to his word. This chief, who is a young man 26 years old, replied that if his going to war against the Snake Indians would be displeasing to us, he would not go.

Captain Clark

Captain Clark, 16 January;

This morning was fair. Thermometer at 18 degrees above zero. Much warmer than it has been for some days. Wind S.E. Continue to be visited by the natives. The sergeant of the guard reported that the Indian women (wives to our interpreters) were in the habit of unbarring the fort gate at any time of night and admitting their Indian visitors. I therefore directed a lock to be put to the gate, and ordered that no Indian but those attached to the garrison should be permitted to remain all night within the fort, or admitted during the period which the gate had been previously ordered to be kept shut, which was from sunset until sunrise.

Captain Lewis, 7

Captain Lewis, 7P> 

This morning fair and pleasant. Wind from the S.E. Visited by Mr. McKenzie, one of the N.W. Company's clerks. This evening a man by the name of Howard, whom I had given permission to go to the Mandan village, returned after the gate was shut, and rather than call to the guard to have it opened, scaled the works. An Indian who was looking on, shortly after followed his example. I convinced the Indian of the impropriety of his conduct, and explained to him the risk he had run of being severely treated. The fellow appeared much alarmed. I gave him a small piece of tobacco, and sent him away. Howard I had committed to the care of the guard, with a determination to have him tried by a courtmartial for this offense. This man is an old soldier, which still heightens this offense.

Captain Lewis, 9 Fe

Captain Lewis, 9nbsp;

The party that were ordered last evening set out early this morning. The weather was fair and cold. Wind N.W. About five o'clock this evening, one of the wives of Charbonneau was delivered of a fine boy. It is worthy of remark that this was the first child which this woman had born, and as is common in such cases her labor was tedious and the pain violent. Mr. Jussome informed me that he had frequently administered a small portion of the rattle of the rattlesnake, which he assured me had never failed to produce the desired effect-that of hastening the birth of the child. Having the rattle of a snake by me, I gave it to him, and he administered two rings of it to the woman, broken in small pieces with the fingers, and added to a small quantity of water. Whether this medicine was truly the cause or not, I shall not undertake to determine. But I was informed that she had not taken it more than ten minutes, before she brought forth. Perhaps this remedy may be worthy of future experiments, but I must confess that I want faith as to its efficacy.

Captain Lewis, 11 February 1805


This morning was fair though cold. Thermometer 14 degrees below zero. Wind S.E. Ordered the blacksmith to shoe the horses, and some others to prepare some gears in order to send them down with three sleighs to join the hunting party, and transport the meat which they may have procured, to this place. The men whom I had sent for the meat left by Charbonneau did not return until 4 o'clock this evening.

Drouilliard arrived with the horses about the same time. The horses appeared much fatigued. I directed some bran be given them, moistened with a little water, but to my astonishment found that they would not eat it, but preferred the bark of the cottonwood, which forms the principal article of food usually given them by their Indian masters in the winter season. For this purpose, they cause the tree to be felled by their women, and the horses feed on the boughs and bark of their tender branches. The Indians in our neighborhood are frequently pilfered of their horses by the Arikaras, Sioux, and Assiniboines, and therefore make it an invariable rule to put their horses in their lodges at night. In this situation, the only food of the horses consists of a few sticks of the cottonwood, from the size of a man's finger to that of his arm.

Captain Lewis, 12 Februar

Captain Lewis, 12/P> /FONT>

A delightful day. Put out our clothes to sun. Visited by The Big White and Big Man. They informed me that several men of their nation were gone to consult their medicine stone, about 3 days' march to the southwest, to know what was to be the result of the ensuing year. They have great confidence in this stone, and say that it informs them of everything which is to happen, and visit it every spring and sometimes in the summer. "They, having arrived at the stone, give it smoke, and proceed to the woods at some distance to sleep. The next morning, return to the stone, and find marks white and raised on the stone, representing the peace or war which they are to meet with, and other changes which they are to meet." This stone has a level surface about 20 feet in circumference, thick and porous, and no doubt has some mineral qualities affected by the sun. The Big Bellies have a stone to which they ascribe nearly the same virtues.

Captain Lewis returned with 2 sleighs loaded with meat. After finding that he could not overtake the Sioux war party, (who had in their way destroyed all the meat at one deposit which I had made, and burned the lodges), determined to proceed on to the lower deposit which he found had not been observed by the Sioux. He hunted two days; killed 36 deer and 14 elk, several of them so meager that they were unfit for use. The meat which he killed and that in the lower deposit, amounting to about 3,000 pounds, was brought up on two sleighs; one, drawn by 16 men, had about 2,400 pounds on it.

Captain Clark, 21 February 1805

 Wefixed a windlass and drew up the two pirogues on the upper bank, and attempted the boat; but the rope, which we had made of elk skins, proved too weak, and broke several times. Night coming on obliged us to leave her in a situation but little advanced. We were visited by the Black Moccasin, chief of the little village of the Big Bellies, the chief of the Shoe Indians, and a number of others. Those chiefs gave us some meat which they packed on their wives; and one requested an ax to be made for his son, Mr. Root Bunch, one of the under traders for the Hudson's Bay Company. One of the Big Bellies asked leave for himself and his two wives to stay all night, which was granted. Also two boys stayed all night, one the son of The Black Cat.

This day has been exceedingly pleasant.

Captain Clark, 25 February 1805

Captain Clark, 25

A fin morning. Two men of the N.W. Company arrived with letters, and sackacomah [sacacommis], also a root and I top of a plant, presented by Mr. Heney, for the cure of mad dogs, snakes, &c., and to be found and used as follows, viz., "this root is found on the high lands and ascent of hills. The way of using it is to scarify the part when bitten, to chew or pound an inch, or more if the root is small, and apply it to the bitten part, renewing it twice a day. The bitten person is not to chew or swallow any of the root, for it might have contrary effect."

Sent out 16 men to make four pirogues. Those men returned in the evening, and informed that they found trees they thought would answer.

Mr. Gravelines, two Frenchmen, and two Indians arrived from the Arikara nation, with letters from Mr. Anthony Tabeau, informing us of the peaceable dispositions of that nation toward the Mandans and Minnetarees, and their avowed intentions of pursuing our counsels and advice. They express a wish to visit the Mandans, and to know if it will be agreeable to them to admit the Arikaras to settle near them, and join them against their common enemy, the Sioux. We mentioned this to the Mandans, who observed they had always wished to be at peace and good neighbors with the Arikaras, and it is also the sentiment of all the Big Bellies and Shoe nations.

Mr. Gravelines informs that the Sissetons and the 3 upper bands of the Tetons, with the Yanktons of the north, intend to come to war in a short time against the nations in this quarter, and will kill every white man they see. Mr. Tabeau also informs that Mr. Cameron of St. Peters has put arms into the hands of the Sioux, to revenge the death of 3 of his men killed by the Chippewas, latterly; and that the band of Tetons which we saw is disposed to do as we have advised them through the influence of their chief, Black Buffalo.

Mr. Gravelines further informs that the party which robbed us of the two horses latterly, were all Sioux-106 in number. They called at the Arikaras on their return. The Arikaras, being displeased at their conduct, would not give then anything to eat, that being the greatest insult they could possibly offer them, and upbraided them.

Captain Clark, 28 February 1805


>A cloudy cold, and windy morning. Wind from the north. I walked up to see the party that is making pirogues, about 5 miles above this. The wind hard and cold. On my way up, I met Le Borgne, main chief of the Minnetarees, with four Indians on their way to see us. I requested him to proceed on to the Fort, where he would find Captain Lewis. I should be there myself in the course of a few hours. Sent the interpreter back with him, and proceeded on myself to the canoes. Found them nearly finished. The timber very bad. After visiting all the pirogues, where I found a number of Indians, I went to the upper Mandan village and smoked a pipe (the greatest mark of friendship and attention) with the chief, and returned. On my return, found the Minnetaree chief about to set out on his return to his village, having received of Captain M. Lewis, a medal, gorges, arm bands, a flag shirt, scarlet, &c., for which he was much pleased. Those things were given in place of sundry articles sent to him which, he says, he did not receive. Two guns were fired for this great man.

Captain Clark, 9th March, 1805



We have every reason to believe that our Minnetaree interpreter (whom we intended to take, with his wife, as an interpreter through his wife, to the Snake Indians, of which nation she is) has been corrupted by the [blank in MS.] Company. Some explanation has taken place which clearly proves to us the fact. We give him tonight to reflect, and determine whether or not he intends to go with us, under the regulations stated.

Captain Clark, 11 March

Captain Clark, 11P> P>A fine day. Some snow last night. Our interpreter, Charbonneau, determines on not proceeding with us as an interpreter under the terms mentioned yesterday. He will not agree to work, let our situation be what it may, nor stand guard, and, if miffed with any man, he wishes to return when he pleases, also [to] have the disposal of as much provisions as he chooses to carry. Inadmissible. And we suffer him to be off the engagement, which was only verbal.

Captain Clark, 12 March 1805



A windy day. Attempted to air our goods, &c. Mr. Charbonneau sent a Frenchman of our party [to say] that he was sorry for the foolish part he had acted, and if we pleased he would accompany us agreeable to the terms we had proposed, and do everything we wished him to do, &c. He had requested me some [sic], through our French interpreter two days ago, to excuse his simplicity, and take him into the service. After he had taken his things across the river, we called him in and spoke to him on the subject. He agreed to our terms, and we agreed that he might go on with us.

Captain Clark, 1

Captain Clark, 17nbsp;< 1805/P>

To the Yellowstone

The ice has stopped running, owing to some obstacle above. Repaired the boat and pirogues, and preparing to set out. But few Indians visited us today. They are now attending on the river bank to catch the floating buffalo.

Captain Clark

Captain Clark, 29P> > /P>

Sergeant Ordway> now here. Cloudy day. Several gangs of geese and ducks pass up the river. But a small portion of ice floating down today. But few Indians visited us today. All the party in high spirits. They pass but few nights without amusing themselves dancing, possessing perfect harmony and good understanding toward each other. Generally healthy except venereal complaints, which are very common among the natives, and the men catch it from them.

Captain Cla

Captain Clark, 31


Having on this day at 4 P.M. completed every arrangement necessary for our departure, we dismissed the barge and crew, with orders to return without loss of time to St. Louis. A small canoe with two French hunters accompanied the barge. These men had ascended the Missouri with us the last year as engagés. The barge crew consisted of six soldiers and two [blank space in MS.] Frenchmen. Two Frenchmen and an Arikara Indian also take their passage in her as far as the Arikara villages, at which place we expect Mr. Tabeau to embark, with his peltry, who, in that case, will make an addition of two, perhaps four, men to the crew of the barge.

We gave Richard Warfington, a discharged corporal, the charge of the barge and crew, and confided to this care likewise our dispatches to the government, letters to our private friends, and a number of articles to the President of the United States. One of the Frenchmen, by the name of Joseph Gravelines, an honest, discreet man, and an excellent boatman, is employed to conduct the barge as a pilot. We have therefore every hope that the barge and, with her, our dispatches will arrive safe at St. Louis. Mr. Gravelines, who speaks the Arikara language extremely well, has been employed to conduct a few of the Arikara chiefs to the seat of government, who have promised us to descend in the barge to St. Louis with that view.

At the same moment that the barge departed from Fort Mandan, Captain Clark embarked with our party and proceeded up the river. As I had used no exercise for several weeks, I determined to walk on shore as far as our encampment of this evening. Accordingly I continued my walk on the north side of the river about six miles, to the upper village of the Mandans, and called on The Black Cat, or Posecopseha, the Great Chief of the Mandans. He was not at home. I rested myself a few minutes and, finding that the party had not arrived, I returned about two miles and joined them at their encampment on the N. side of the river opposite the lower Mandan village.

Our party now consisted of the following individuals:


John Ordway

Nathaniel Pryor

Patrick Gass



William Bratton

John Colter

Reuben Fields

Joseph Fields

John Shields

George Gibson

George Shannon

John Potts

John Collins

Joseph Whitehouse

Richard Windsor

Alexander Willard

Hugh Hall

Silas Goodrich

Robert Frazer

Peter Cruzat

John Baptiste Lepage

Francis Labiche

Hugh McNeil

William Warner

Thomas P. Howard

Peter Wiser

John B. Thompson




Interpreters: George Drouilliard and Toussaint Charbonneau; also a black man by the name of York, servant to Captain Clark; an Indian woman, wife to Charbonneau, with a young child; and a Mandan man who had promised us to accompany us as far as the Snake Indians, with a view to bring about a good understanding and friendly intercourse between that nation and his own, the Minnetarees and Amahamis.

Our vessels consisted of six small canoes and two large progues. This little fleet, although not quite so respectable as that of Columbus or Captain Cook, was still viewed by us with as much pleasure as those deservedly famed adventurers ever beheld theirs, and, I daresay, with quite as much anxiety for their safety and preservation. We were now about to penetrate a country at least two thousand miles in width, on which the foot of civilized man had never trod. The good or evil it had in store for us was for experiment yet to determine, and these little vessels contained every article by which we were to expect to subsist or defend ourselves. However, as the state of mind in which we are, generally gives the coloring to events, when the imagination is suffered to wander into futurity, the picture which now presented itself to me was a most pleasing one.

Entertaining as I do the most confident hope of succeeding in a voyage which had formed a darling project of mine for the last ten years, I could but esteem this moment of my departure as among the most happy of my life. The party are in excellent health and spirits, zealously attached to the enterprise, and anxious to proceed. Not a whisper or murmur of discontent to be heard among them, but all act in unison and with the most perfect harmony.

Captain Lewis, Port Mandan, 7 April 1805


Being disappointed in my observations of yesterday for longitude, I was unwilling to remain at the entrance of the river another day for that purpose, and therefore determined to set out early this morning, which we did accordingly. The wind was in our favor after 9 A.M., and continued favorable until 3 P.M. We therefore hoisted both the sails in the white pirogue, consisting of a small square sail and spritsail, which carried her at a pretty good gait until about 2 in the afternoon, when a sudden squall of wind struck us and turned the pirogue so much on the side as to alarm Charbonneau, who was steering at the time.

In this state of alarm, he threw the pirogue with her side to the wind, when the spritsail, jibing, was as near oversetting the pirogue as it was possible to have missed. The wind, however, abating for an instant, I ordered Drouilliard to the helm and the sails to be taken in, which was instantly executed, and the pirogue, being steered before the wind, was again placed in a state of security.

This accident was very near costing us dearly. Believing this vessel to be the most steady and safe, we had embarked on board of it our instruments, papers, medicine, and the most valuable part of the merchandise which we had still in reserve as presents for the Indians. We had also embarked on board ourselves, with three men who could not swim and the squaw with the young child, all of whom, had the pirogue overset, would most probably have perished, as the waves were high, and the pirogue upwards of 200 yards from the nearest shore. However, we fortunately escaped, and pursued our journey under the square sail, which, shortly after the accident, I directed to be again hoisted.

Our party caught 3 beaver last evening, and the French hunters, 7. As there was much appearance of beaver just above the entrance of the Little Missouri, these hunters concluded to remain some days. We therefore left them without the expectation of seeing them again. Just above the entrance of the Little Missouri, the Great Missouri is upwards of a mile in width, though immediately at the entrance of the former it is not more than 200 yards wide and so shallow that the canoes passed it with setting poles.

At the distance of 9 miles, passed the mouth of a creek on the starboard side which we called Onion Creek from the quantity of wild onions which grow in the plains on its borders. Captain Clark, who was on shore, informed me that this creek was 16 yards wide a mile and a half above its entrance, discharges more water than creeks of its size usually do in this open country, and that there was not a stick of timber of any description to be seen on its borders, or the level plain country through which it passes.

Saw some buffalo and elk at a distance today, but killed none of them. We found a number of carcasses of the buffalo lying along shore, which had been drowned by falling through the ice in winter, and lodged on shore by the high water when the river broke up about the first of this month. We saw also many tracks of the white bear of enormous size, along the river shore and about the carcasses of the buffalo, on which I presume they feed.

We have not as yet seen one of these animals, though their tracks are so abundant and recent. The men, as well as ourselves, are anxious to meet with some of these bear. The Indians give a very formidable account of the strength and ferocity of this animal, which they never dare to attack

but in parties of six, eight, or ten persons; and are even then frequently defeated with the loss of one or more of their party.

The savages attack this animal with their bows and arrows and the indifferent guns with which the traders furnish them. With these they shoot with such uncertainty and at so short a distance that, unless shot through head or heart wound not mortal, they frequently miss their aim and fall a sacrifice to the bear. Two Minnetarees were killed during the last winter in an attack on a white bear This animal is said more frequently to attack a man on meeting with him, than to flee from him. When the Indians are about to go in quest of the white bear, previous to their departure they paint themselves and perform all those superstitious rites commonly observed when they are about to make war upon a neighboring nation.

Captain Lewis, 13 Ap

Captain Lewis, 13;


One of the hunters saw an otter last evening and shot at it, but missed it. A dog came to us this morning, which we supposed to have been lost by the Indians who were recently encamped near the lake that we passed yesterday. The mineral appearances of salts, coal, and sulphur, together with burned hills and pumice stone, still continue. While we remained at the entrance of the Little Missouri, we saw several pieces of pumice stone floating down that stream, a considerable quantity of which had lodged against a point of driftwood a little above its entrance.

Captain Clark walked on shore this morning, and on his return informed me that he had passed through the timbered bottoms on the N. side of the river, and had extended his walk several miles back on the hills. In the bottom lands he had met with several uninhabited Indian lodges built with the boughs of the elm, and in the plains he met with the remains of two large encampments of a recent date, which from the appearance of some hoops of small kegs seen near them, we concluded that they must have been the camps of the Assiniboines, as no other nation who visit this part of the Missouri ever indulge themselves with spirituous liquor. Of this article the Assiniboines are passionately fond, and we are informed that it forms their principal inducement to furnish the British establishments on the Assiniboine River with the dried and pounded meat and grease which they do.

The mineral appearances still continue. Considerable quantities of bituminous water, about the color of strong lye, trickle down the sides of the hills. This water partakes of the taste of Glauber salts and slightly of alum. While the party halted to take dinner today, Captain Clark killed a buffalo bull. It was meager, and we therefore took the marrowbones and a small proportion of the meat only.

Near the place we dined, on the larboard side, there was a large village of burrowing squirrels. I have remarked that these animals generally select a southeasterly exposure for their residence, though they are sometimes found in the level plains. Passed an island above which two small creeks fall in on the larboard side; the upper creek largest, which we called Charbonneau's Creek, after our interpreter, who encamped several weeks on it with a hunting party of Indians. This was the highest point to which any white man had ever ascended, except two Frenchmen-one of whom, Lepage, was now with us-who, having lost their way, had straggled a few miles farther, though to what place precisely I could not learn. I walked on shore above this creek and killed an elk, which was so poor that it was unfit for use. I therefore left it, and joined the party at their encampment on the starboard shore a little after dark. On my arrival, Captain Clark informed me that he had seen two white bear pass over the hills shortly after I fired, and that they appeared to run nearly from the place where I shot.

Captain Lewis, 14

Captain Lewis, 14 April

Set out at an early hour this morning. I walked on shore, and Captain Clark. continued with the party, it being an invariable rule with us not to be both absent from our vessels at the same time. I passed through the bottoms of the river on the starboard side. They were partially covered with timber, were extensive, level, and beautiful. In my walk, which was about 6 miles, I passed a small rivulet of clear water making down from the hills, which, on tasting, I discovered to be in a small degree brackish. It possessed less of the Glauber salts, or alum, than those little streams from the hills usually do.

In a little pond of water, formed by this rivulet where it entered the bottom, I heard the frogs crying for the first time this season. Their note was the same as that of the small frogs which are common to the lagoons and swamps of the United States. I saw greater quantities of geese feeding in the bottoms, of which I shot one. Saw some deer and elk, but they were remarkably shy. I also met with great numbers of grouse or prairie hens, as they are called by the English traders of the N.W. These birds appeared to be mating; the note of the male is kuck, kuck, kuck, coo, coo, coo. The first part of the note both male and female use when flying. The male also drums with his wings, something like the pheasant, but by no means as loud. After breakfast, Captain Clark walked on the starboard shore.

Captain Lewis, 15 April 1805


Set out at an early hour this morning. Proceeded pretty well until breakfast, when the wind became so hard ahead that we proceeded with difficulty even with the assistance of our towlines. The party halted, and Captain Clark and myself walked to the White Earth River, which approaches the Missouri very near this place, being about 4 miles above its entrance. We found that it contained more water than streams of its size generally do at this season. The water is much clearer than that of the Missouri. The banks of the river are steep and not more than ten or twelve feet high. The bed seems to be composed of mud together.

The salts which have been before mentioned as common on the Missouri appear in great quantities along the banks of this river, which are in many places so thickly covered with it that they appear perfectly white. Perhaps it has been from this white appearance of its banks that the river has derived its name. This river is said to be navigable nearly to its source, which is at no great distance from the Saskatchewan and I think from its size, the direction which it seems to take, and the latitude of its mouth, that there is very good ground to believe that it extends as far north as latitude 500. This stream passes through an open country generally.

The broken hills of the Missouri, about this place, exhibit large irregular and broken masses of rock and stone; some of which, though 200 feet above the level of the water, seem at some former period to have felt its influence, for they appear smooth as if worn by the agitation of the water. This collection consists of white and gray granite, a brittle black rock, flint, limestone, freestone, some small specimens of an excellent pebble and occasionally broken strata of a stone which appears to be petrified wood. It is of a black color, and makes excellent whetstones. Coal or carbonated wood, pumice stone, lava, and other mineral appearances still continue. The coal appears to be of better quality. I exposed a specimen of it to the fire, and that it burned tolerably well; it afforded but little flame or smoke, but produced a hot and lasting fire.

I ascended to the top of the cut bluff this morning, from whence I had a most delightful view of the country, the whole of which, except the valley formed by the Missouri, is void of timber or underbrush, exposing to the first glance of the spectator immense herds of buffalo, elk, deer, and antelopes feeding in one common and boundless pasture. We saw a number of beaver feeding on the bark of the trees along the verge of the river, several of which we shot. Found them large and fat.

Walking on shore this evening, I met with a buffalo calf which attached itself to me, and continued to follow close at my heels, until I embarked and left it. It appeared alarmed at my dog, which was probably the cause of its so readily attaching itself to me. Captain Clark informed me that he saw a large drove of buffalo pursued by wolves today; that they at length caught a calf which was unable to keep up with the herd. The cows only defend their young so long as they are able to keep up with the herd, and seldom return any distance in search of them.

Captain Lewis, 22 April

Captain Lewis, 22> < This morning I dispatched Joseph Field up the Yellowstone River with orders to examine it as far as he could conveniently and return the same evening. Two others were directed to bring in the meat we had killed last evening, while I proceeded down the river with one man in order to take a view of the confluence of this great river with the Missouri, which we found to be two miles distant, on a direct line N.W., from our encampment. The bottom land on the lower side of the Yellowstone River near its mouth, for about one mile in width, appears to be subject to inundation, while that on the opposite side of the Missouri and the point formed by the junction of these rivers is of the common elevation, say from 12 to 18 feet above the level of the water, and of course not liable to be overflowed except in extreme high water, which does not appear to be very frequent. There is more timber in the neighborhood of the junction of these rivers, and on the Missouri as far below as the White Earth River, than there is on any part of the Missouri above the entrance of the Cheyenne River to this place.

About 12 o'clock I heard the discharge of several guns at the junction of the rivers, which announce to me the arrival of the party with Captain Clark. I afterwards learned that they had fired on some buffalo which they met with at that place, and of which they killed a cow and several calves-the latter now fine veal. I dispatched one of the men to Captain Clark requesting him to send up a canoe to take down the meat we had killed, and our baggage, to his encampment, which was accordingly complied with.

After I had completed my observations in the evening, I walked down and joined the party at their encampment on the point of land formed by the junction of the rivers. Found them all in good health, and much pleased at having arrived at this long-wished-for spot. And, in order to add in some measure to the general pleasure which seemed to pervade our little community, we ordered a dram to be issued to each person. This soon produced the fiddle, and they spent the evening with much hilarity, singing and dancing, and seemed as perfectly to forget their past toils as they appeared regardless of those to come!

In the evening, the man I had sent up the river this morning returned, and reported that he had ascended it about eight miles on a straight line; that he had found it crooked, meandering from side to side of the valley formed by it, which is from four to five miles wide. The current of the river, gentle, and its bed much interrupted and broken by sandbars. At the distance of five miles, he passed a large island well covered with timber, and three miles higher, a large creek falls in on the S.E. side, above a high bluff in which there are several strata of coal. The country bordering on this river, as far as he could perceive - like that of the Missouri - consisted of open plains. He saw several of the big-horned animals in the course of his walk, but they were so shy that he could not get a shot at them. He found a large horn of one of these animals, which he brought with him. The bed of the Yellowstone River is entirely composed of sand and mud, not a stone of any kind to be seen in it near its entrance.

Captain Clark measured these rivers just above their confluence: found the bed of the Missouri 520 yards wide, the water occupying 330. Its channel deep. The Yellowstone River, including its sand bar, 858 yards, of which the water occupied 297 yards. The deepest part, 12 feet. It was falling at this time and appeared to be nearly at its summer tide.

The Indians inform that the Yellowstone River is navigable for pirogues and canoes nearly to its source in the Rocky Mountains, and that in its course, near these mountains, it passes within less than half a day's march of a navigable part of the Missouri. Its extreme sources are adjacent to those of the Missouri, River Platte, and I think probably with some of the south branch of the Columbia River.

Captain Lewis, 26 April 1805


Tis morning I walked through the point formed by the junction of the rivers. The woodland extends about a mile when the rivers approach each other within less than half a mile. Here a beautiful level, low plain commences, and extends up both rivers for many miles, widening as the rivers recede from each other, and extending back half a mile to a plain about 12 feet higher than itself. The low plain appears to be a few inches higher than high-water mark and, of course, will not be liable to be overflowed; though where it joins the high plain, a part of the Missouri, when at its greatest height, passes through a channel 60 or 70 yards wide, and falls into the Yellowstone River.

On the Missouri, about 2 1/2 miles from the entrance of the Yellowstone River and between this high and low plain, a small lake is situated, about 200 yards wide, extending along the edge of the high plain, parallel with the Missouri about one mile. On the point of the high plain, at the lower extremity of this lake, I think would be the most eligible site for an establishment. Between this low plain and the Yellowstone River, there is an extensive body of timbered land extending up the river for many miles. This site recommended is about 400 yards distant from the Missouri, and about double that distance from the River Yellowstone. From it, the high plain, rising very gradually, extends back about three miles to the hills, and continues with the same width between these hills and the timbered land on the Yellowstone River, up that stream, for seven or eight miles; and is one of the handsomest plains I ever beheld.

On the Missouri side, the hills circumscribe its width, and at the distance of three miles up that river from this site, it is not more than 400 yards wide. Captain Clark thinks that the lower extremity of the low plain would be most eligible for this establishment. It is true that it is much nearer both rivers and might answer very well, but I think it rather too low to venture a permanent establishment, particularly if built of brick or other durable materials at any considerable expense. For, so capricious and versatile are these rivers, that it is difficult to say how long it will be until they direct the force of their currents against this narrow part of the low plain, which, when they do, must shortly yield to their influence. In such case, a few years only would be necessary for the annihilation of the plain, and with it the fortification.

I continued my walk on shore. At 11 A.M. the wind became very hard from N.W., insomuch that the pirogues and canoes were unable either to proceed or pass the river to me. I was under the necessity, therefore, of shooting a goose and cooking it for my dinner. The wind abated about 4 P.M., and the party proceeded, though I could not conveniently join them until night.

Although the game is very abundant and gentle, we only kill as much as is necessary for food. I believe that two good hunters could conveniently supply a regiment with provisions. For several days past, we have observed a great number of buffalo lying dead on the shore; some of them entire, and others partly devoured by the wolves and bear. Those animals either drowned during the winter in attempting to pass the river on the ice, or by swimming across, at present, to bluff banks where they are unable to ascend and, feeling themselves too weak to return, remain and perish for the want of food. In this situation we met with several little parties of them.

Beaver are very abundant. The party kill several of them every day. The eagles, magpies, and geese have their nests in trees adjacent to each other. The magpie particularly appears fond of building near the eagle, as we scarcely see an eagle's nest unaccompanied with two or three magpie's nests within a short distance. The bald eagles are more abundant here than I ever observed them in any part of the country.

Captain Lewis, 27 April 1805Captain Lewis, 27NTER>From the Yellowstone to the Musselshell

Set out this morning at the usual hour. The wind was moderate. I walked on shore with one man. About 8 A.M. we fell in with two brown or yellow [white] bear, both of which we wounded. One of them made his escape; the other, after my firing on him, pursued me 70 or 80 yards but fortunately had been so badly wounded that he was unable to pursue so closely as to prevent my charging my gun. We again repeated our fire, and killed him. It was a male, not fully grown. We estimated his weight at 300 pounds, not having the means of ascertaining it precisely.

The legs of this bear are somewhat longer than those of the black, as are its talons and tusks incomparably larger and longer. The testicles, which in the black bear are placed pretty well back between the thighs and contained in one pouch like those of the dog and most quadrupeds, are, in the yellow or brown bear, placed much further forward, and are suspended in separate pouches, from two to four inches asunder. Its color is yellowish brown; the eyes small, black, and piercing. The front of the forelegs near the feet is usually black. The fur is finer, thicker, and deeper than that of the black bear. These are all the particulars in which this animal appeared to me to differ from the black bear. It is a much more furious and formidable animal, and will frequently pursue the hunter when wounded. It is astonishing to see the wounds they will bear before they can be put to death. The Indians may well fear this animal, equipped as they generally are with their bows and arrows or indifferent fusees; but in the hands of skillful riflemen, they are by no means as formidable or dangerous as they have been presented.

Game is still very abundant. We can scarcely cast our eyes in any direction without perceiving deer, elk, buffalo, or antelopes. The quantity of wolves appears to increase in the same proportion. They generally hunt in parties of six, eight, or ten. They kill a great number of the antelopes at this season. The antelopes are yet meager, and the females are big with young. The wolves take them most generally in attempting to swim the river. In this manner, my dog caught one, drowned it, and brought it on shore. They are but clumsy swimmers, though on land, when in good order, they are extremely fleet and durable.

We have frequently seen the wolves in pursuit of the antelope in the plains. They appear to decoy a single one from a flock, and then pursue it, alternately relieving each other, until they take it. On joining Captain Clark, he informed me that he had seen a female and fawn of the bighorned animal that they ran for some distance with great apparent ease along the side of the river bluff where it was almost perpendicular. Two of the party fired on them while in motion, without effect. We took the flesh of the bear on board and proceeded. Captain Clark walked on shore this evening; killed a deer, and saw several of the bighorned animals.

Captain Lewis, 29 April 1805


Captain Clark walked on shore and killed an elk, which he caused to be butchered by the time I arrived with the party. Here we halted and dined, it being about 12 o'clock - our usual time of halting for that purpose. After dinner, Captain Clark pursued his walk while I continued with the party, it being a rule which we had established never to be absent at the same time from the party.

We saw vast quantities of buffalo, elk, deer-principally of the long-tail kind-antelope or goats, beaver, geese, ducks, brant, and some swan. Near the entrance of the river mentioned in the 10th course 2 Of this day, we saw an unusual number of porcupines, from which we determined to call the river after that animal, and accordingly denominated it Porcupine River. This stream discharges itself into the Missouri on the starboard side, 2,000 miles above the mouth of the latter. It is a beautiful bold, running stream, 40 yards wide at its entrance. The water is transparent, it being the first of this description that I have yet seen discharge itself into the Missouri.

Captain Lewis, 3 May 1805


Captain Lewis, 3 Mayained this morning until about 9 o'clock in order to repair the rudder irons of the red pirogue, which were broken last evening in landing. We then set out, the wind hard against us. I walked on shore this morning. The weather was more pleasant, the snow had disappeared. The frost seems to have affected the vegetation much less than could have been expected. The leaves of the cottonwood, the grass, the box alder, willow, and the yellow flowering pea seem to be scarcely touched. The rosebushes and honeysuckle seem to have sustained the most considerable injury. The country on both sides of the Missouri continues to be open, level, fertile, and beautiful as far as the eye can reach- which, from some of the eminences, is not short of 30 miles. The river bottoms are very extensive and contain a much greater proportion of timber than usual. The fore part of this day, the river was bordered with timber on both sides, a circumstance which is extremely rare, and the first which has occurred of anything like the same extent since we left the Mandans. In the after part of the day, we passed an extensive beautiful plain on the starboard side which gradually ascended from the river. I saw immense quantities of buffalo in every direction, also some elk, deer, and goats. Having an abundance of meat on hand, I passed them without firing on them. They are extremely gentle; the bull buffalo, particularly, will scarcely give way to you. I passed several in the open plain within fifty paces. They viewed me for a moment as something novel, and then very unconcernedly continued to feed. Captain Clark walked on shore this evening, and did not rejoin us until after dark. He struck the river several miles above our camp and came down to us. We saw many beaver, some of which the party shot. We also killed two deer today. Much sign of the brown bear. Passed several old Indian hunting camps in the course of the day.

Captain Lewis, 4 May 1805


A fine rnin. I walked on shore until after 8 A.M., when we halted for breakfast, and in the course of my walk killed a deer, which I carried about a mile and a half to the river. It was in good order. Soon after setting out, the rudder irons of the white pirogue were broken by her running foul on a sawyer. She was, however, refitted in a few minutes with some tugs of rawhide and nails. As usual, saw a great quantity of game today: buffalo, elk, and goats or antelopes feeding in every direction. We kill whatever we wish. The buffalo furnish us with fine veal and fat beef. We also have venison and beaver tails when we wish them. The flesh of the elk and goat is less esteemed, and certainly is inferior. We have not been able to take any fish for some time past. The country is, as yesterday, beautiful in the extreme. We saw the carcasses of many buffalo lying dead along the shore, partially devoured by the wolves and bear.

Captain Clark found a den of young wolves in the course of his walk today, and also saw a great number of those animals. They are very abundant in this quarter, and are of two species: The small wolf, or burrowing dog of the prairies, are the inhabitants almost invariably of the open plains. They usually associate in bands of ten or twelve, sometimes more, and burrow near some pass or place much frequented by game. Not being able alone to take a deer or goat, they are rarely ever found alone but hunt in bands. They frequently watch and seize their prey near their burrows. In these burrows they raise their young, and to them they also resort when pursued.

When a person approaches them, they frequently bark- their note being precisely that of the small dog. They are of an intermediate size, between that of the fox and dog. Very active, fleet, and delicately formed; the ears large, erect, and pointed; the head long and pointed more like that of the fox; tail long and bushy; the hair and fur also resembles the fox, though [it] is much coarser and inferior. They are of a pale, reddish-brown color, the eye of a deep sea-green color, small and piercing. Their talons are rather longer than those of the ordinary wolf, or that common to the Atlantic states, none of which are to be found in this quarter nor, I believe, above the River Platte.

The large wolf found here is not as large as those of the Atlantic states. They are lower and thicker-made, shorter legged. Their color, which is not affected by the seasons, is a gray or blackish-brown and every intermediate shade from that to a cream-colored white. These wolves resort to the woodlands and are also found in the plains, but never take refuge in the ground or burrow, so far as I have been able to inform myself.

We scarcely see a gang of buffalo without observing a parcel of those faithful shepherds on their skirts, in readiness to take care of the maimed [and] wounded. The large wolf never barks, but howls as those of the Atlantic states do.

Captain Clark and Drouilliard killed the largest brown bear this evening which we have yet seen. It was a most tremendous-looking animal, and extremely hard to kill. Notwithstanding he had five balls through his lungs and five others in various parts, he swam more than half the distance across the river, to a sandbar, and it was at least twenty minutes before he died. He did not attempt to attack, but fled, and made the most tremendous roaring from the moment he was shot. We had no means of weighing this monster. Captain Clark thought he would weigh 500 pounds. For my own part, I think the estimate too small by 100 pounds. He measured 8 feet 7 1/2 inches from the nose to the extremity of the hind feet; 5 feet 10 1/2 inches around the breast; 1 foot 11 inches around the middle of the arm; and 3 feet 11 inches around the neck. His talons, which were five in number on each foot, were 4 3/8 inches in length. He was in good order.

We therefore divided him among the party, and made them boil the oil and put it in a cask for future use. The oil is as hard as hog's lard when cool-much more so than that of the black bear.

This bear differs from the common black bear in several respects: its talons are much longer and more blunt; its tail shorter; its hair, which is of a reddish or bay brown, is longer, thicker, and finer than that of the black bear, his liver, lungs, and heart are much larger, even in proportion with his size. The heart, particularly, was as large as that of a large ox. His maw was also ten times the size of black bear, and was filled with flesh and fish. His testicles were pendent from the belly and placed four inches asunder in separate bags or pouches. This animal also feeds on roots and almost every species of wild fruit.

Captain Lewis, 5 May 1805

 Captain Lewis, 5bearswim the river above us, he disappeared before we could get in reach of him. I find that the curiosity of our party is pretty well satisfied with respect to this animal. The formidable appearance of the male bear killed on the 5th, added to the difficulty with which they die, even when shot through the vital parts, has staggered the resolution of several of them [i.e., the men.] Others, however, seem keen for action with the bear. I expect these gentlemen will give us some amusement shortly as they [the bears] soon begin now to copulate. Saw a great quantity of game of every species common here. Captain Clark walked on shore and killed two elk. They were not in very good order; we therefore took a part of the meat only. It is now only amusement for Captain Clark and myself to kill as much meat as the party can consume. I hope it may continue thus through our whole route, but this I do not much expect. Two beaver were taken in traps this morning, and one since shot by one of the party. Saw numbers of these animals peeping at us as we passed, out of their holes which they form of a cylindrical shape, by burrowing in the face of the abrupt banks of the river.

Captain Lewis, 6 May 1805


A very black cloud to the S.W. We set out under a gentle breeze from the N.E. About 8 o'clock began to rain but not sufficient to wet. We passed the mouth of a large river on the starboard side, 150 yards wide, and appears to be navigable. The country through which it passes, as far as could be seen from the top of a very high hill on which I was, is a beautiful level plain. This river forks about N.W. from its mouth 12 or 15 miles. One fork runs from the north and the other to the west of N.W. The water of this river will justify a belief that it has its source at a considerable distance, and waters a great extent of country.

We are willing to believe that this is the river the Minnetarees call The River Which Scolds at All Others. The country on the larboard side is high, and broken with much stone scattered on the hills.

In walking on shore with the interpreter and his wife, the squaw gathered, on the sides of the hills, wild licorice, and the white apple, so called by the engagés, and gave me to eat. The Indians of the Missouri make great use of the white apple dressed in different ways.

Saw great numbers of buffalo, elk, antelope, and deer, also black-tailed deer, beaver, and wolves. I killed a beaver which I found on the bank, and a wolf. The party killed three beaver, one deer. I saw where an Indian had taken the hair off a goat skin a few days past. Camped early on the larboard side. The river we passed today we call Milk River from the peculiar whiteness of its water, which precisely resembles tea with a considerable mixture of milk.

Captain Clark, 8 May 1805


Captain Clark, 8FONTCOLOR="#556B2F">

About 5 P.M. my attention was struck by one of the party running at a distance toward us, and making signs and hallooing as if in distress. I ordered the pirogues to put to, and waited until he arrived. I now found that it was Bratton, the man with the sore hand whom I had permitted to walk on shore. He arrived so much out of breath that it was several minutes before he could tell what had happened. At length he informed me that in the woody bottom on the larboard side, about 1l/2 miles below us, he had shot a brown bear which immediately turned on him and pursued him a considerable distance, but he had wounded it so badly that it could not overtake him.

I immediately turned out with seven of the party in quest of this monster. We at length found his trail and pursued him about a mile, by the blood, through very thick brush of rosebushes and the large-leafed willow. We finally found him concealed in some very thick brush, and shot him through the skull with two balls.

We proceeded to dress him as soon as possible. We found him in good order. It was a monstrous beast, not quite so large as that we killed a few days past but in all other respects much the same. The hair is remarkably long, fine, and rich, though he appears partially to have discharged his winter coat.


We now found that Bratton had shot him through the center of the lungs, notwithstanding which, he had pursued him near half a mile and had returned more than double that distance, and with his talons had prepared himself a bed in the earth about 2 feet deep and five long, and was perfectly alive when we found him, which could not have been less than two hours after he received the wound.

These bears, being so hard to die, rather intimidate us all. I must confess that I do not like the gentlemen and had rather fight two Indians than one bear. There is no other chance to conquer them by a single shot but by shooting them through the brains, and this becomes difficult in consequence of two large muscles which cover the sides of the forehead, and the sharp projection of the center of the frontal bone, which is also of a pretty good thickness. The fleece and skin were as much as two men could possibly carry.

By the time we returned, the sun had set, and I determined to remain here all night, and directed the cooks to render the bear's oil and put it in the kegs, which was done. There was about eight gallons of it.

Captain Lewis, 11 May 1805


Captain Lewis, 11our,the weather clear and calm. I walked on shore this morning for the benefit of exercise which I much wanted, and also to examine the country and its productions. In these excursions I most generally went alone, armed with my rifle and espontoon. Thus equipped, I feel myself more than an equal match for a brown bear, provided I get him in open woods or near the water, but feel myself a little diffident with respect to an attack in the open plains. I have therefore come to a resolution to act on the defensive only should I meet these gentlemen in the open country.

I ascended the hills and had a view of a rough and broken country on both sides of the river. On the north side, the summits of the hills exhibit some scattering pine and cedar; on the south side, the pine has not yet commenced, though there is some cedar on the face of the hills and in the little ravines. The chokecherry also grows here in the hollow' and at the heads of the gullies. The chokecherry has been in bloom since the ninth inst. This growth has frequently made its appearance on the Missouri from the neighborhood of the Bald-pated Prairie to this place.

Captain Lewis, 12 May 1805



Captain Lewis, 12in to of the rear canoes discovered a large brown bear lying in the open grounds about 300 paces from the river, and six of them went out to attack him -all good hunters. They took the advantage of a small eminence which concealed them, and got within 40 paces of Bear's oil was a much used edible fat for many years. The Cherokees liked the oil of the black bear-of which a single animal might yield 15 gallons. Oil from Plains grizzlies was sold in New Orleans for many years. Indians sometimes flavored bear's oil with sassafras. An eighteenth-century white traveler remarks that it was "sweet and wholesome" and never cloyed the palate him, unperceived. Two of them reserved their fires as had been previously concerted; the four others fired nearly at the same time, and put each his bullet through him. Two of the balls passed through the bulk of both lobes of his lungs.

In an instant, this monster ran at them with open mouth. The two who had reserved their fires discharged their pieces at him as he came toward them. Both of them struck him-one only slightly, and the other, fortunately, broke his shoulder. This, however, only retarded his motion for a moment. The men, unable to reload their guns, took to flight. The bear pursued, and had very nearly overtaken them before they reached the river. Two of the party betook themselves to a canoe, and the others separated and concealed them selves among the willows, [and] reloaded their pieces; each discharged his piece at him as they had an opportunity. They struck him several times again, but the guns served only to direct the bear to them. In this manner he pursued two of them, separately, so dose that they were obliged to throw away their guns and pouches, and throw themselves into the river, although the bank was nearly twenty feet perpendicular. So enraged was this animal that he plunged into the river only a few feet behind the second man he had compelled to take refuge in the water.

When one of those who still remained on shore shot him through the head and finally killed him, they then took him on shore and butchered him, when they found eight balls had passed through him in different directions. The bear being old, the flesh was indifferent. They therefore only took the skin and fleece; the latter made us several gallons of oil. It was after the sun had set before these men came up with us, where we had been halted by an occurrence which I have now to recapitulate, and which, although happily passed without ruinous injury, I cannot recollect but with the utmost trepidation and horror. This is the upsetting and narrow escape of the white pirogue. It happened, unfortunately for us this evening, that Charbonneau was at the helm of this pirogue instead of Drouilliard, who had previously steered her. Charbonneau cannot swim, and is perhaps the most timid waterman in the world. Perhaps it was equally unlucky that Captain Clark and myself were both on shore at that moment, a circumstance which rarely happened, and though we were on the shore opposite to the pirogue, were too far distant to be heard, or to do more than remain spectators of her fate. In this pirogue were embarked our papers, instruments, books, medicine, a great part of our merchandise-and, in short, almost every article indispensably necessary to further the view or ensure the success of the enterprise in which we are now launched to the distance of 2,200 miles.

Suffice it to say that the pirogue was under sail when a sudden squall of wind struck her obliquely and turned her considerably. The steersman, alarmed, instead of putting her before the wind, luffed her up into it. The wind was so violent that it drew the brace of the squaresail out of the hand of the man who was attending it, and instantly upset the pirogue and would have turned her completely topsy-turvy had it not have been for the resistance made by the awning against the water.

In this situation, Captain Clark and myself both fired our guns to attract the attention, if possible, of the crew, and ordered the halyards to be cut and the sail hauled in, but they did not hear us. Such was their confusion and consternation at this moment that they suffered the pirogue to lie on her side for half a minute before they took the sail in. The pirogue then righted but had filled within an inch of the gunwales.

Charbonneau, still crying to his God for mercy, had not yet recollected the rudder, nor could the repeated orders of the bowsman, Cruzat, bring him to his recollection until he threatened to shoot him instantly if he did not take hold of the rudder and do his duty.

The waves by this time were running very high, but the fortitude, resolution, and good conduct of Cruzat saved her. He ordered 2 of the men to throw out the water with some kettles that fortunately were convenient, while himself and two others rowed her ashore, where she arrived scarcely above the water. We now took every article out of her and laid them to drain as well as we could for the evening, bailed out the canoe, and secured her.

There were two other men besides Charbonneau on board who could not swim and who, of course, must also have perished had the pirogue gone to the bottom. While the pirogue lay on her side, finding I could not be heard, I, for a moment, forgot my situation, and involuntarily dropped my gun, threw aside my shot pouch, and was in the act of unbuttoning my coat, before I recollected the folly of the attempt I was about to make, which was to throw myself into the river and endeavor to swim to the pirogue. The pirogue was three hundred yards distant, the waves so high that a person could scarcely live in any situation, the water excessively cold, and the stream rapid. Had I undertaken this project, therefore, there was a hundred to one but what I should have paid the forfeit of my life for the madness of my project, but this-had the pirogue been lost-I should have valued but little.

After having all matters arranged for the evening as well as the nature of circumstances would permit, we thought it a proper occasion to console ourselves and cheer the spirits of our men, and accordingly took a drink of grog, and gave each man a gill of spirits.

Captain Lewis, 14 May 1805


This morning was fair andhe dy proved favorable to our operations. By 4 o'clock in the evening, our instruments, medicine, merchandise, provisions, etc., were perfectly dried, repacked, and put on board the pirogue. The loss we sustained was not so great as we had at first apprehended. Our medicine sustained the greatest injury, several articles of which were entirely spoiled and many others considerably injured. The balance of our losses consisted of some garden seeds, a small quantity of gunpowder, and a few culinary articles which fell overboard and sank. The Indian woman, to whom I ascribe equal fortitude and resolution with any person on board at the time of the accident, caught and preserved most of the light articles which were washed overboard.

All matters being now arranged for our departure, we lost no time in setting out. Proceeded on tolerably well about seven miles and encamped on the starboard side.

In the early part of the day, two of our men fired on a panther, a little below our encampment, and wounded it. They informed us that it was very large, had just killed a deer, partly devoured it, and was in the act of concealing the balance as they discovered him.

We caught two antelopes at our encampment in attempting to swim the river. These animals are but lean as yet, and of course not very pleasant food. I walked on shore this evening and killed a buffalo cow and calf; we found the calf most excellent veal.

The country on either side of the river is broken, and hills much higher than usual. The bottoms now become narrow and the timber more scant. Some scattering pine and cedar on the steep declivities of the hills. This morning a white bear tore Labiche's coat which he had left in the plains.

Captain Lewis, 16 May 1805