The sick chief is fast on the recovery; he can bear his weight on his legs and has acquired a considerable portion of strength. The child is nearly well. Bratton has so far recovered that we cannot well consider him an invalid any longer. He has had a tedious illness, which he bore with much fortitude and firmness.
All arrangements being now completed for carrying into effect the several schemes we had planned for execution on our return, we saddled our horses and set out. I took leave of my worthy friend and companion, Captain Clark, and the party that accompanied him. I could not avoid feeling much concern on this occasion, although I hoped this separation was only momentary.
I proceeded down Clark's River seven miles with my party of nine men and five Indians. Here the Indians recommended our passing the river, which was rapid and 150 yards wide.
As we had no other means of passing the river, we busied ourselves collecting dry timber for the purpose of constructing rafts. Timber being scarce, we found considerable difficulty in procuring as much as made three small rafts. We arrived at 11 A.M., and had our rafts completed by 3 P.M., when we dined and began to take over our baggage, which we effected in the course of three hours, the rafts being obliged to return several times. The Indians swam over their horses, and drew over their baggage in little basins of deerskin, which they constructed in a very few minutes for that purpose. We drove our horses in after them, and they followed to the opposite shore.
I remained myself with two men who could scarcely swim until the last. By this time the raft, by passing so frequently, had fallen a considerable distance down the river to a rapid and difficult part of it, crowded with several small islands and willow bars which were now overflowed. With these men, I set out on the raft and was soon hurried down with the current a mile and a half before we made shore. On our approach to the shore the raft sank, and I was drawn off the raft by a bush and swam on shore. The two men remained on the raft and fortunately effected a landing at some little distance below. I wet the chronometer by this accident, which I had placed in my fob, as I conceived, for greater security.
I now joined the party and we proceeded with the Indians about 3 miles to a small creek and encamped at sunset. I sent out the hunters, who soon returned with three very fine deer, of which I gave the Indians half. These people now informed me that the road which they showed me at no great distance from our camp would lead us up the east branch of Clark's River and to a river they called Cokahlarishkit, or the River of the Road to Buffalo, and thence to Medicine River and the Falls of the Missouri, where we wished to go. They alleged that as the road was a well-beaten track, we could not now miss our way, and as they were afraid of meeting with their enemies, the Minnetarees, they could not think of continuing with us any longer; that they wished now to proceed down Clark's River in search of their friends the Shalees. They informed us that not far from the dividing ridge between the waters of this and the Missouri River, the roads forked. They recommended the left hand as the best route but said they would both lead us to the Falls of the Missouri.
I directed the hunters to turn out early in the morning and endeavor to kill some more meat for these people, whom I was unwilling to leave without giving them a good supply of provision after their having been so obliging as to conduct us through those tremendous mountains.
The mosquitoes were so excessively troublesome this evening that we were obliged to kindle large fires for our horses. These insects torture them in such manner, until they placed themselves in the smoke of the fires, that I really thought they would become frantic.
Captain Lewis, 3 July 1806
I gave a shirt, a handkerchief, and a small quantity of ammunition to the Indians. At half after eleven the hunters returned from the chase, unsuccessful. I now ordered the houses saddled, smoked a pipe with these friendly people, and at noon bid them adieu. They had cut the meat which I gave them last evening, thin, and exposed it in the sun to dry, informing me that they should leave it in this neighborhood until they returned, as a store for their homeward journey.
These affectionate people, our guides, betrayed every emotion of unfeigned regret at separating from us. They said that they were confident that the Pahkees (the appellation they give the Minnetarees) would cut us off.
Captain Lewis, 4 July 1806
It is now the season at which the buffalo begin to copulate, and the bulls keep a tremendous roaring. We could hear them for many miles, and there are such numbers of them that there is one continual roar. Our horses had not been acquainted with the buffalo. They appeared much alarmed at their appearance and bellowing. When I arrived in sight of the White Bear islands, the Missouri bottoms on both sides of the river were crowded with buffalo. I sincerely believe that there were not less than 10 thousand buffalo within a circle of 2 miles around that place. I met with the hunters at a little grove of timber opposite to the island where they had killed a cow and were awaiting our arrival. They had met with no elk.
I directed the hunters to kill some buffalo as well for the benefit of their skins to enable us to pass the river as for their meat for the men I meant to leave at this place. We unloaded our horses and encamped opposite to the islands; had the cow skinned and some willow sticks collected to make canoes of the hides. By 12 o'clock they killed eleven buffalo, most of them in fine order. The bulls are now generally much fatter than the cows and are fine beef. I sent out all hands with the horses to assist in butchering and bringing in the meat. By 3 in the evening we had brought in a large quantity of fine beef and as many hides as we wanted for canoes, shelters, and gear. I then set all hands to prepare two canoes. The one we made after the Mandan fashion, with a single skin in the form of a basin, and the other we constructed of two skins, on a plan of our own.
Captain Lewis, 11 July 1806
Two of the men whom I had dispatched this morning in quest of the horses returned with seven of them only. The remaining ten of our best horses were absent and not to be found. I fear that they are stolen. I dispatched two men on horseback in search of them. The wind blew so violently that I did not think it prudent to attempt passing the river. At noon Warner returned, having found three others of the horses near Fort Mountain. Sergeant Gass did not return until 3 P.M., not having found the horses. He had been about 8 miles up Medicine River. I now dispatched Joseph Fields and Drouilliard in quest of them. The former returned at dark, unsuccessful, and the latter continued absent all night.
Captain Lewis, 12 July 1806
Removed above to my old station opposite the upper point of the White Bear island. Formed our camp and set Thompson, etc., at work to complete the gear for the horses. Had the cache opened, found my bear skins entirely destroyed by the water, the river having risen so high that the water had penetrated. All my specimens of plants also lost. The chart of the Missouri fortunately escaped. Opened my trunks and boxes and exposed the articles to dry. Found my papers damp and several articles damp. The stopper had come out of a phial of laudanum and the contents had run into the drawer and destroyed a great part of my medicine in such manner that it was past recovery.
Captain Lewis, 13 July 1806
Dispatched McNeal early this morning to the lower part of the portage in order to learn whether the cache and white pirogue remained untouched or in what state they were. The men employed in drying the meat, dressing deer skins, and preparing for the reception of the canoes. At 1 P.M., Drouilliard returned without the horses and reported that, after a diligent search of 2 days, he had discovered where the horses had passed Dearborn's River, at which place there were 15 lodges that had been abandoned about the time our horses were taken. He pursued the tracks of a number of horses from these lodges to the road which we had traveled over the mountains, which they struck about 3 miles south of our encampment of the 7th inst., and had pursued this road westwardly.
I have no doubt but they are a party of the Tushepaws, who have been on a buffalo hunt. Drouilliard informed that their camp was in a small bottom on the river of about 5 acres enclosed by the steep and rocky and lofty cliffs of the river, and that so closely had they kept themselves and horses within this little spot that there was not a track to be seen of them within a quarter of a mile of that place. Every spire of grass was eaten up by their horses near their camp, which had the appearance of their having remained here some time. His horse being much fatigued with the ride he had given him and finding that the Indians had at least two days the start of him, he thought it best to return.
His safe return has relieved me from great anxiety. I had already settled it in my mind that a white bear had killed him, and should have set out tomorrow in search of him, and if I could not find him to continue my route to Maria's River. I knew that if he met with a bear, in the plains even, he would attack him; and that, if any accident should happen to separate him from his horse in that situation, the chances in favor of his being killed would be as 9 to 10. I felt so perfectly satisfied that he had returned in safety that I thought but little of the horses, although they were seven of the best I had.
This loss, great as it is, is not entirely irreparable or at least does not defeat my design of exploring Maria's River. I have yet 10 horses remaining, two of the best and two of the worst of which I leave, to assist the party in taking the canoes and baggage over the portage, and take the remaining six with me. These are but indifferent horses, most of them, but I hope they may answer our purposes. I shall leave three of my intended party--Gass, Frazer, and Warner, and take the two Fieldses and Drouilliard. By having two spare horses, we can relieve those we ride.
Having made this arrangement, I gave orders for an early departure in the morning. Indeed, I should have set out instantly, but McNeal rode one of the horses which I intend to take and has not yet returned. A little before dark, McNeal returned with his musket broken off at the breach, and informed me that on his arrival at Willow Run (on the portage) he had approached a white bear within ten feet without discovering him, the bear being in the thick brush.
The horse took the alarm and, turning short, threw him immediately under the bear. This animal raised himself on his hind feet for battle, and gave him time to recover from his fall, which he did in an instant, and with his clubbed musket he struck the bear over the head and cut him with the guard of the gun and broke off the breach. The bear, stunned with the stroke, fell to the ground and began to scratch his head with his feet. This gave McNeal time to climb a willow tree which was near at hand and thus fortunately made his escape. The bear waited at the foot of the tree until late in the evening before he left him.
Captain Lewis, 15 July 1806
We killed a buffalo cow as we passed through the plains and took the hump and tongue, which furnish ample rations for four men one day. At 5 P.M., we arrived at Rose (Tansy) River, where I purposed remaining all night, as I could not reach Maria's River this evening, and unless I did there would be but little probability of our finding any wood, and very probably no water either. On our arrival at the river we saw where a wounded and bleeding buffalo had just passed and concluded it was probable that the Indians had been running them and were near at hand. The Minnetarees of Fort de Prairie and the Blackfoot Indians rove through this quarter of the country, and as they are a vicious, lawless, and rather abandoned set of wretches, I wish to avoid an interview with them if possible.
Captain Lewis, 17 July 1806
The country through which this portion of Maria's River passes to the fork which I ascended appears much more broken than that above and between this and the mountains. I had scarcely ascended the hills before I discovered, to my left, at the distance of a mile, an assemblage of about 30 horses. I halted and used my spyglass, by the help of which I discovered several Indians on the top of an eminence just above them, who appeared to be looking down toward the river--I presumed, at Drouilliard. About half the horses were saddled.
This was a very unpleasant sight. However, I resolved to make the best of our situation and to approach them in a friendly manner. I directed J. Fields to display the flag which I had brought for that purpose, and advanced slowly toward them. About this time they discovered us and appeared to run about in a very confused manner as if much alarmed. Their attention had been previously so fixed on Drouilliard that they did not discover us until we had begun to advance upon them. Some of them descended the hill on which they were, and drove their horses within shot of its summit and again returned to the height as if to wait our arrival or to defend themselves.
I calculated on their number being nearly or quite equal to that of their horses, that our running would invite pursuit, as it would convince them that we were their enemies, and our horses were so indifferent that we could not hope to make our escape by flight. Added to this, Drouilliard was separated from us, and I feared that his not being apprised of the Indians in the event of our attempting to escape, he would most probably fall a sacrifice.
Under these considerations, I still advanced toward them. When we had arrived within a quarter of a mile of them, one of them mounted his horse and rode full speed toward us, which when I discovered, I halted and alighted from my horse. He came within a hundred paces, halted, looked at us, and turned his horse about, and returned as briskly to his party as he had advanced.
While he halted near us, I held out my hand and beckoned him to approach, but he paid no attention to my overtures. On his return to his party, they all descended the hill and mounted their horses, and advanced toward us, leaving their horses behind theme We also advanced to meet them. I counted eight of them but still supposed that there were others concealed, as there were several other horses saddled.
I told the two men with me that I apprehended that these were the Minnetarees of Fort de Prairie, and from their known character I expected that we were to have some difficulty with them; that if they thought themselves sufficiently strong, I was convinced that they would attempt to rob us, in which case, be their numbers what they would, I should resist to the last extremity, preferring death to being deprived of my papers, instruments, and gun; and desired that they would form the same resolution, and be alert and on their guard.
When we arrived within a hundred yards of each other, the Indians, except one, halted. I directed the two men with me to do the same and advanced singly to meet the Indian, with whom I shook hands and passed on to those in his rear, as he did also to the two men in my rear. We now all assembled and alighted from our horses. The Indians soon asked to smoke with us, but I told them that the man whom they had seen pass down the river had my pipe and we could not smoke until he joined us. I requested, as they had seen which way he went, that they would one of them go with one of my men in search of him. This they readily consented to, and a young man set out with R. Fields in search of Drouilliard.
I now asked them by signs if they were the Minnetarees of the North which they answered in the affirmative. I asked if there was any chief among them, and they pointed out three. I did not believe them. However, I thought it best to please them and give to one a medal, to a second a flag, and to the third a handkerchief, with which they appeared well satisfied. They appeared much agitated with our first interview, from which they had scarcely yet recovered. In fact, I believe they were more alarmed at this accidental interview than we were.
Prom no more of them appearing, I now concluded they were only eight in number, and became much better satisfied with our situation, as I was convinced that we could manage that number should they attempt any hostile measures. As it was growing late in the evening, I proposed that we should remove to the nearest part of the river and encamp together. I told them that I was glad to see them and had a great deal to say to them.
We mounted our horses and rode toward the river, which was at but a short distance. On our way we were joined by Drouilliard, Fields, and the Indian. We descended a very steep bluff about 250 feet high to the river, where there was a small bottom of nearly 1/2 a mile in length. In this bottom, there stand three solitary trees, near one of which the Indians formed a large semicircular camp of dressed buffalo skins and invited us to partake of their shelter, which Drouilliard and myself accepted, and the Fieldses lay near the fire in front of the shelter. With the assistance of Drouilliard, I had much conversation with these people in the course of the evening. I learned from them that they were a part of a large band which lay encamped at present near the foot of the Rocky Mountains, on the main branch of Maria's River, 1 1/2 days' march from our present encampment; that there was a white man with their band; that there was another large band of their nation hunting buffalo near the broken mountains and were on their way to the mouth of Maria's River, where they would probably be in the course of a few days.
I told these people that I had come a great way from the East, up the large river which runs toward the rising sun, that I had been to the great waters where the sun sets and had seen a great many nations, all of whom I had invited to come and trade with me, on the rivers on this side of the mountains; that I had found most of them at war with their neighbors and had succeeded in restoring peace among them. That I was now on my way home and had left my party at the Falls of the Missouri with orders to descend that river to the entrance of Maria's River and there wait my arrival, and that I had come in search of them in order to prevail on them to be at peace with their neighbors, particularly those on the west side of the mountains, and to engage them to come and trade with me when the establishment is made at the entrance of this river; to all of which they readily gave their assent, and declared it to be their wish to be at peace with the Tushepaws who they said had killed a number of their relations lately, and pointed to several of those present who had cut their hair, as an evidence of the truth of what they had asserted.
I found them extremely fond of smoking and plied them with the pipe until late at night. I told them that if they intended to do as I wished them, they would send some of their young men to their band with an invitation to their chiefs and warriors to bring the white man with them and come down and counsel with me at the entrance of Maria's River, and that the balance of them would accompany me to that place, where I was anxious now to meet my men, as I had been absent from them some time and knew that they would be uneasy until they saw me. That if they would go with me, I would give them ten horses and some tobacco. To this proposition they made no reply.
I took the first watch tonight and sat up until half after eleven. The Indians by this time were all asleep. I roused up R. Fields and lay down myself. I directed Fields to watch the movements of the Indians, and if any of them left the camp, to awake us all, as I apprehended they would attempt to steal our horses.
This being done, I fell into a profound sleep and did not wake until the noise of the men and Indians awoke me a little after light, in the morning.
Captain Lewis, 26 July 1806
This morning at daylight the Indians got up and crowded around the fire. J. Fields, who was on post, had carelessly laid his gun down behind him, near where his brother was sleeping. One of the Indians--the fellow to whom I had given the medal last evening--slipped behind him and took his gun and that of his brother, unperceived by him. At the same instant two others advanced and seized the guns of Drouilliard and myself.
J. Fields, seeing this, turned about to look for his gun and saw the fellow just running off with her and his brother's. He called to his brother, who instantly jumped up and pursued the Indian with him, whom they overtook at the distance of 50 or 60 paces from the camp, seized their guns and wrested them from him; and R. Fields, as he seized his gun, stabbed the Indian to the heart with his knife. The fellow ran about fifteen steps and fell dead. Of this I did not know until afterward. Having recovered their guns, they ran back instantly to the camp.
Drouilliard, who was awake, saw the Indian take hold of his gun and instantly jumped up and seized her and wrested her from him, but the Indian still retained his pouch. His jumping up and crying, "Damn you, let go my gun!" awakened me.
I jumped up and asked what was the matter, which I quickly learned when I saw Drouilliard in a scuffle with the Indian for his gun, I reached to seize my gun, but found hergone. I then drew a pistol from my holster and, turning myself about, saw the Indian making off with my gun. I ran at him with my pistol and bid him lay down my gun, which he was in the act of doing when the Fieldses returned and drew up their guns to shoot him, which I forbade as he did not appear to be about to make any resistance or commit any offensive act.
He dropped the gun and walked slowly off. I picked her up instantly. Drouilliard, having about this time recovered his gun and pouch, asked me if he might not kill the fellow, which I also forbade as the Indian did not appear to wish to kill us. As soon as they found us all in possession of our arms, they ran and endeavored to drive off all the horses.
I now hallooed to the men and told them to fire on them if they attempted to drive off our horses. They accordingly pursued the main party who were driving the horses up the river, and I pursued the man who had taken my gun, who, with another, was driving off a part of the horses which were to the left of the camp. I pursued them so closely that they could not take twelve of their own horses, but continued to drive one of mine with some others. At the distance of three hundred paces, they entered one of those steep niches in the bluff with the horses before them. Being nearly out of breath, I could pursue no further. I called to them, as I had done several times before, that I would shoot them if they did not give me my horse and raised my gun.
One of them jumped behind a rock and spoke to the other, who turned around and stopped at the distance of thirty steps from me, and I shot him through the belly. He fell to his knees and on his right elbow, from which position he partly raised himself and fired at me and, turning himself about, crawled in behind a rock, which was a few feet from him. He overshot me. Being bareheaded, I felt the wind of his bullet very distinctly.
Not having my shot pouch I could not reload my piece, and as there were two of them behind good shelters from me, I did not think it prudent to rush on them with my pistol, which had I discharged. I had not the means of reloading until I reached camp. I therefore returned leisurely toward camp. On my way, I met with Drouillard who, having heard the report of the guns, had returned in search of me and left the Fieldses to pursue the Indians. I desired him to hasten to the camp with me and assist in catching as many of the Indian horses as were necessary, and to call to the Fieldses, if he could make them hear, to come back--that we still had a sufficient number of horses. This he did, but they were too far to hear him. We reached the camp and began to catch the horses and saddle them and put on the packs.
The reason I had not my pouch with me was that I had not time to return about fifty yards to camp, after getting my gun, before I was obliged to pursue the Indians or suffer them to collect and drive off all the horses. We had caught and saddled the horses and begun to arrange the packs when the Fieldses returned with four of our horses. We left one of our horses and took four of the best of those of the Indians.
While the men were preparing the horses, I put four shields, and two bows and quivers of arrows, which had been left on the fire, with sundry other articles. They left all their baggage at our mercy. They had but two guns, and one of them they left. The others were armed with bows and arrows and eyedaggs. The gun we took with us. I also retook the flag, but left the medal about the neck of the dead man that they might be informed who we were.
We took some of their buffalo meat and set out, ascending the bluffs by the same route we had descended last evening, leaving the balance of nine of their horses, which we did not want. The Fieldses told me that three of the Indians whom they pursued swam the river--one of them on my horse; and that two others ascended the hill and escaped from them with a part of their horses; two I had pursued into the niche--one lay dead near the camp; and the eighth we could not account for but suppose that he ran off early in the contest.
Having ascended the hill, we took our course through a beautiful level plain a little to the S. of east. My design was to hasten to the entrance of Maria's River as quick as possible, in the hope of meeting with the canoes and party at that place, having no doubt but that the Indians would pursue us with a large party. No time was therefore to be lost, and we pushed our horses as hard as they would bear.
By dark, we had traveled about 17 miles further. We now halted to rest ourselves and horses about two hours. We killed a buffalo cow and took a small quantity of the meat. After refreshing ourselves, we again set out by moonlight and traveled leisurely. Heavy thunderclouds lowered around us on every quarter but that from which the moon gave us light. We continued to pass immense herds of buffalo an night, as we had done in the latter part of the day. We traveled until 2 o'clock in the morning, having come, by my estimate, after dark about 20 miles. We now turned out our horses and laid ourselves down to rest in the plain, very much fatigued, as may be readily conceived. My Indian horse carried me very well--in short, much better than my own would have done--and leaves me with but little reason to complain of the robbery.
Captain Lewis, 27 July 1806
The morning proved fair. I slept sound, but fortunately awoke as day appeared. I awakened the men and directed the horses to be saddled. I was so sore from my ride yesterday that I could scarcely stand. And the men complained of being in a similar situation; however, I encouraged them by telling them that our own lives as well as those of our friends and fellow travelers depended on our exertions at this moment. They were alert, soon prepared the horses, and we again resumed our march.
It was my determination that if we were attacked in the plains on our way to the point, that the bridles of the horses should be tied together and we would stand and defend them, or sell our lives as dear as we could.
We had proceeded about 12 miles on an east course when we found ourselves near the Missouri. We heard a report which we took to be that of a gun but were not certain. Still continuing down the N.E. bank of the Missouri about 8 miles further, being then within about five miles of the grog spring, we heard the report of several rifles very distinctly on the river to our right. We quickly repaired to this joyful sound and on arriving at the bank of the river had the unspeakable satisfaction to see our canoes coming down. We hurried down from the bluff on which we were and joined them; stripped our horses and gave them a final discharge, embarking without loss of time with our baggage.
I now learned that they had brought all things safe, having sustained no loss, nor met with any accident of importance. Wiser had cut his leg badly with a knife and was unable, in consequence, to work. We descended the river opposite to our principal cache, which we proceeded to open after reconnoitering the adjacent country. We found that the cache had caved in and most of the articles buried therein were injured. I sustained the loss of two very large bear skins, which I much regret. Most of the fur and baggage belonging to the men were injured. The gunpowder, corn, flour, pork and salt had sustained but little injury. The parched meal was spoiled, or nearly so. Having no time to air these things, which they much wanted, we dropped down to the point to take in the several articles which had been buried at that place in several small caches. These we found in good order, and recovered every article except three traps belonging to Drouilliard, which could not be found. Here, as good fortune would have it, Sergeant Gass and Willard, who brought the horses from the Falls, joined us at 1 P.M. I had ordered them to bring down the horses to this place in order to assist them in collecting meat, which I directed them to kill and dry here for our voyage, presuming that they would have arrived with the pirogue and canoes at this place several days before my return.
Having now nothing to detain us, we passed over immediately to the island in the entrance of Maria's River to launch the red pirogue, but found her so much decayed that it was impossible with the means we had to repair her, and therefore merely took the nails and other iron works about her which might be of service to us and left her. We now reembarked on board the white pirogue and five small canoes.
Captain Lewis, 28 July 1806
I arose early this morning and had the pirogue and canoes loaded and set out at half after 6 A.M. We soon passed the canoe of Cotter and Collins, who were on shore hunting. The men hailed them but received no answer. We proceeded, and shortly after overtook J. and R. Fields, who had killed 25 deer since they left us yesterday. Deer are very abundant in the timbered bottoms of the river and extremely gentle. We did not halt today to cook and dine as usual, having directed that in future the party should cook as much meat in the evening after encamping as would be sufficient to serve them the next day. By this means we forward our journey at least 12 or 15 miles per day.
Captain Lewis, 3 August 1806
Ordway and Willard delayed so much in hunting today that they did not overtake us until about midnight. They killed one bear and two deer. In passing a bend just below the gulf, it being dark, they were drawn by the current in among a parcel of sawyers, under one of which the canoe was driven and threw Willard, who was steering, overboard. He caught the sawyer and held by it. Ordway, with the canoe, drifted down about half a mile among the sawyers under a falling bank. The canoe struck frequently but did not overset. He at length gained the shore, and returned by land to learn the fate of Willard, who, he found, was yet on the sawyer. It was impossible for him to take the canoe to his relief.
Willard at length tied a couple of sticks together which had lodged against the sawyers on which he was, and set himself adrift among the sawyers, which he fortunately escaped, and was taken up about a mile below by Ordway with the canoe.
Captain Lewis, 4 August 1806
At 4 P.M. we arrived at the entrance of the Yellowstone River. I landed at the point and found that Captain Clark had been encamped at this place and from appearances had left it about 7 or 8 days. I found a paper on a pole at the point, which merely contained my name in the handwriting of Captain Clark. We also found the remnant of a note which had been attached to a piece of elkhorn in the camp. From this fragment I learned that game was scarce at the point and mosquitoes troublesome, which were the reasons given for his going on. I also learned that he intended halting a few miles below, where he intended waiting for my arrival.
I now wrote a note directed to Cotter and Collins provided they were behind, ordering them to come on without loss of time. This note I wrapped in leather and attached to the same pole which Captain Clark had planted at the point. This being done, I instantly re-embarked and descendedthe river in the hope of reaching Captain Clark's camp before night.
About 7 miles below the point on the S.W. shore I saw some meat that had been lately fleeced and hung on a pole. I directed Sergeant Ordway to go on shore and examine the place. On his return, he reported that he saw the tracks of two men which appeared so recent that he believed they had been there today. The fire he found at the place was blazing and appeared to have been mended up afresh or within the course of an hour past. He found at this place a part of a Chinook hat, which my men recognized as the hat of Gibson. From these circumstances we concluded that Captain Clark's camp could not be distant and pursued our route until dark with the hope of reaching his camp. In this, however, we were disappointed; and night coming on compelled us to encamp on the northeast shore in the next bottom above our encampment of the 23rd and 24th of April, 1805.
Captain Lewis, 7 August 1806
Believing, from the recent appearances about the fire which we passed last evening, that Captain Clark could be at no great distance below, I set out early. The wind hard from the northeast, but by the force of the oars and current we reached the center of the beaver bends (about 8 miles by water and 3 by land) above the entrance of the White Earth River.
Not finding Captain Clark, I knew not what calculation to make with respect to his halting, and therefore determined to proceed as though he was not before me and leave the rest to the chapter of accidents. At this place I found a good beach for the purpose of drawing out the pirogue and one of the canoes, which wanted corking and repairing.
The men with me have not had leisure since we left the west side of the Rocky Mountains to dress any skins or make themselves clothes, and most of them therefore are extremely bare. I therefore determined to halt at this place until the pirogue and canoe could be repaired and the men dress skins and make themselves the necessary clothing. We encamped on the N.E. side of the river.
Captain Lewis, 8 August 1806
I hastened the repairs which were necessary to the pirogue and canoe, which were completed by 2 P.M. Those not engaged about this business employed themselves as yesterday. At 4 in the evening, it clouded up and began to rain, which putting a stop to the operation of skin dressing, we had nothing further to detain us. I therefore directed the vessels to be loaded, and at 5 P.M. we got under way. We descended this evening as low nearly as the entrance of White Earth River and encamped on the southwest side.
Captain Lewis, 10 August 1806
We set out very early this morning, it being my wish to arrive at the Burnt Hills by noon in order to take the latitude of that place, as it is the most northern point of the Missouri. I informed the party of my design and requested that they would exert themselves to reach the place in time, as it would save us the delay of nearly one day. Being as anxious to get forward as I was, they plied their oars faithfully, and we proceeded rapidly.
Half after 11 A.M., we saw a large herd of elk on the northeast shore, and I directed the men in the small canoes to halt and kill some of them, and continued on in the pirogue to the Burnt Hills. When I arrived here, it was about 20 minutes after noon, and of course, the observation of the sun's meridian altitude was lost.
Just opposite to the Burnt Hills, there happened to be a herd of elk on a thick willow bar, and finding that my observation was lost for the present, I determined to land and kill some of them. Accordingly, we put to, and I went out with Cruzat only. We fired on the elk. I killed one and he wounded another. We reloaded our guns and took different routes through the thick willows in pursuit of the elk.
I was in the act of firing on the elk a second time when a ball struck my left thigh about an inch below my hip joint. Missing the bone, it passed through the left thigh and cut the thickness of the bullet across the hinder part of the right thigh. The stroke was very severe. I instantly supposed that Cruzat had shot me in mistake for an elk, as I was dressed in brown leather and he cannot see very well. Under this impression I called out to him, "Damn you, you have shot me," and looked toward the place from whence the ball had come. Seeing nothing, I called Cruzat several times as loud as I could, but received no answer.
I was now persuaded that it was an Indian that had shot me, as the report of the gun did not appear to be more than 40 paces from me and Cruzat appeared to be out of hearing of me. In this situation, not knowing how many Indians there might be concealed in the bushes, I thought it best to make good my retreat to the pirogue, calling out as I ran for the first hundred paces as loud as I could to Cruzat to retreat, that there were Indians, hoping to alarm him in time to make his escape also. I still retained the charge in my gun which I was about to discharge at the moment the ball struck me.
When I arrived in sight of the pirogue, I called the men to their arms, to which they flew in an instant. I told them that I was wounded but I hoped not mortally--by an Indian I believed--and directed them to follow me, that I would return and give them battle and relieve Cruzat if possible, who I feared had fallen into their hands. The men followed me as they were bid and I returned about a hundred paces, when my wounds became so painful and my thigh so stiff that I could scarcely get on. In short, I was compelled to halt, and ordered the men to proceed and, if they found themselves overpowered by numbers, to retreat in order, keeping up a fire. I now got back to the pirogue as well as I could, and prepared myself with a pistol, my rifle, and air gun, being determined--as a retreat was impracticable--to sell my life as dearly as possible.
In this state of anxiety and suspense I remained about 20 minutes, when the party returned with Cruzat and reported that there were no Indians nor the appearance of any. Cruzat seemed much alarmed, and declared if he had shot me it was not his intention, that he had shot an elk in the willows after he left or separated from me. I asked him whether he did not hear me when I called to him so frequently, which he absolutely denied. I do not believe that the fellow did it intentionally but after finding that he had shot me, was anxious to conceal his knowledge of having done so.
The ball had lodged in my breeches, which I knew to be the ball of the short rifles such as that he had; and there being no person out with me but him and no Indians that we could discover, I have no doubt in my own mind of his having shot me. With the assistance of Sergeant Gass, I took off my clothes and dressed my wounds myself as well as I could, introducing tents of patent lint into the ball holes. The wounds bled considerably, but I was happy to find that it had touched neither bone nor artery.
I sent the men to dress the two elk which Cruzat and myself had killed, which they did in a few minutes and brought the meat to the river. My wounds being so situated that I could not, without infinite pain, make an observation, I determined to relinquish it and proceeded on. At 4 P.M. we passed an encampment which had been evacuated this morning by Captain Clark. Here I found a note from Captain Clark informing me that he had left a letter for me at the entrance of the Yellowstone River, but that Sergeant Pryor, who had passed that place since he left it, had taken the letter; that Sergeant Pryor having been robbed of all his horses, had descended the Yellowstone River in skin canoes and had overtaken him at this encampment.
Captain Lewis, 11 August 1806
Being anxious to overtake Captain Clark, who from the appearance of his camps could be at no great distance before me, we set out early and proceeded with all possible expedition.
At 8 A.M. the bowsman informed me that there was a canoe and a camp, he believed ofwhite men, on the N.E. shore. I directed the pirogue and canoes to come to at this place, and found it to be the camp of two hunters from the Illinois, by name Joseph Dickson and Forest Hancock.
These men informed me that Captain Clark had passed them about noon the day before. They also informed me that they had left the Illinois in the summer of 1804, since which time they had been ascending the Missouri, hunting and trapping beaver; that they had been robbed by the Indians, and the former wounded last winter by the Tetons of the Burnt Woods; that they had hitherto been unsuccessful in their voyage, having as yet caught but little beaver, but were still determined to proceed.
I gave them a short description of the Missouri, a list of distances to the most conspicuous streams and remarkable places on the river above, and pointed out to them the places where the beaver most abounded. I also gave them a file and a couple of pounds of powder with some lead. These were articles which they assured me they were in great want of. I remained with these men an hour and a half, when I took leave of them and proceeded.
While I halted with these men, Cotter and Collins--who separated from us on the 3rd inst.--rejoined us. They were well, no accident having happened. They informed me that after proceeding the first day and not overtaking us, they had concluded that we were behind and had delayed several days in waiting for us, and had thus been unable to join us until the present moment.
My wounds felt very stiff and sore this morning but gave me no considerable pain. There was much less inflammation than I had reason to apprehend there would be. I had, last evening, applied a poultice of Peruvian barks.
At 1 P.M. I overtook Captain Clark and party and had the pleasure of finding them all well. As writing in my present situation is extremely painful to me, I shall desist until I recover, and leave my friend Captain Clark the continuation of our journal.
Captain Lewis, 12 August 1806