George Drouillard’s service to the Lewis and Clark Expedition was long obscured by the stronger light cast on the leaders and Sacagawea. Drawing from the various journals of the expedition and from many more obscure documents, letters, and legal records, M. O. Skarsten presents not merely an account of the pursuits in which Drouillard engaged but also an idea of the kind of man he was, as a member of the famous expedition and later as a partner of Manuel Lisa in the fur trade.
The variety of responsibilities assigned to Drouillard during the expedition form an impressive list—recruiting personnel, message bearing, retrieving a deserter, pursuing strayed and stolen horses, trading for horses and canoes, horse gelding, and serving as riverboat helmsman, diplomat to the Indians, and boon companion to Lewis—in addition to the hunting and interpreting for which he was specifically hired. Skarsten also pays detailed attention to Drouillard’s fur-trade activities, including his trial for the murder of Bissonette, his attempt to trade with the Blackfeet, and later his death at their hands in 1810.
Robert C. Carriker’s introduction to this edition includes information on Skarsten, an evaluation of his treatment of Drouillard, and new information on Drouillard revealed since the book’s original publication in 1964.