Off the Map: The Journals of Lewis and Clarkby Peter Roop, Connie Roop, Tim Tanner
A compilation of entries and excerpts from the journals of William Clark and Meriwether Lewis, describing their historic expedition.
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Off the Map
The Journals of Lewis and Clark
By Peter Roop, Connie Roop, Tim Tanner
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1993 Peter and Connie Roop
All rights reserved.
To Meriwether Lewis:
The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri River, as, by its course and communication with the waters of the Pacific Ocean, may offer the most direct and practicable water-communication across the continent for the purpose of commerce.
Beginning at the mouth of the Missouri, you will take observations of latitude and longitude, at all remarkable points on the river. Your observations are to be taken with great pains and accuracy.
Several copies of these should be made at leisure times.
Objects worthy of notice will be: the soil and face of the country, the animals, the mineral productions of every kind, and the climate.
You will make yourself acquainted with the names of the [Indian] nations and their numbers; the extent of their possessions; their relations with other tribes or nations; their language and traditions.
In all your intercourse with natives, treat them in the most friendly and conciliatory manner which their own conduct will admit. If a superior force should be arrayed against your further passage, and inflexibly determined to arrest it, you must return. In the loss of yourselves we should also lose the information you will have acquired. To your own discretion, therefore, must be left the degree of danger you may risk, and the point at which you should decline; we wish you to err on the side of your safety, and to bring back your party safe.
To provide, on the accident of your death, and the consequent danger to your party, and total failure of the enterprise, you are authorized to name the person who shall succeed to the command on your decease.
Given under my hand at the City of Washington, this twentieth day of June, 1803.
President of the United States of America
May 13, 1804. All our provisions, goods, and equipage are on board a boat of 22 oars, a large pirogue of 71 oars, a second pirogue of 6 oars, complete with sails, etc. Men completed with powder cartridges and 100 balls each, all in health and readiness to set out.
May 14, 1804. Set out at 4:00 P.M. and proceeded under a gentle breeze up the Missouri to the upper point of the first island, four miles.
May 15, 1804. The water here is very rapid, and the banks are falling in. We found that our boat was too heavily laden in the stern and she ran into logs three times today.
May 23, 1804. Set out early, ran on a log, and were detained one hour, proceeded the course of last night two miles to a creek. Captain Lewis near falling from pinnacles of rocks, 300 feet. He caught at 20.
June 16, 1804. Passed a prairie, covered with timothy, made our way through bad sandbars and a swift current. Mosquitoes and ticks are exceedingly troublesome.
June 27, 1804. We remained two days at the mouth of the Kansas River, during which we made the necessary observations and repaired the boat. On the banks of the Kansas reside the Indians of the same name, consisting of two villages and amounting to about 300 men.
July 4, 1804. The morning was announced by the discharge of one shot from our bow piece. Joseph Fields got bitten by a snake, and was quickly doctored with bark and gunpowder by Captain Lewis. We passed a creek 12 yards wide and this being the Fourth of July, the day of independence of the United States, we called it Fourth of July 1804 Creek.
July 7, 1804. The rapidity of the water obliged us to draw the boat along with ropes. We made 14 miles and halted. Saw a number of young swans. Killed a wolf. Another of our men had a stroke of the sun. He was bled, and took a preparation of niter, which relieved him considerably.
July 12, 1804. Tried a man for sleeping on his post, and inspected the arms, ammunition, etc. of the party. Found all complete. Took some lunar observations. Three deer killed today.
July 22–26, 1804. Our camp is by observation in latitude 41° 3' 11". We stayed here several days, during which we dried our provisions, made new oars, and prepared our dispatches and maps of the country we had passed, for the President of the United States. The present season is that in which the Indians go out on the prairies to hunt the buffalo. Five beaver caught near the camp, the flesh of which we made use of.
July 30, 1804. Walked a short distance. This prairie is covered with grass 10 or 12 inches in height. Soil is of good quality. The most beautiful prospect of the river, up and down, which we ever beheld.
August 1–2, 1804. We waited with much anxiety the return of our messenger to the Ottoes. Our apprehensions relieved by the arrival of a party of 14 Indians. We sent them some roasted meat, pork, flour, and meal. In return they made us a present of watermelons.
August 3, 1804. This morning the Indians, with their six chiefs, were all assembled under an awning formed with a mainsail. A speech was made announcing to them the change in the government from French to American, our promise of protection, and advice as to their future conduct. All six chiefs replied to our speech, each in his turn, according to rank. They expressed their joy at the change of government, their hopes that we would recommend them to their Great Father (the President), that they might obtain trade. They wanted arms as well for hunting as for defense. We proceeded to distribute our presents. To the six chiefs we gave medals according to their rank. Each of these medals was accompanied by a present of paint, garters, and cloth ornaments of dress, a canister of powder, a bottle of whiskey, and a few presents to the whole, which appeared to make them perfectly satisfied. The air-gun was fired, and astonished them greatly. The incident just related induced us to give to this place the name of Council Bluffs; the situation of it is exceedingly favorable for a fort and trading factory. It is central to the chief resorts of the Indians. The ceremonies being concluded, we set sail in the afternoon. Mosquitoes very troublesome.
August 7, 1804. We dispatched four men back to the Ottoe village to apprehend one of the soldiers who left us under the pretense of recovering a knife and who we fear has deserted. The men had orders, that if Reed, the deserter, did not give up peaceably, to put him to death.
August 18, 1804. A fine morning. Indians arrived. We met with them near the boat, and gave them provisions to eat and proceeded to the trial of Reed. He confessed that he "deserted and stole a public rifle, shot pouch, powder, and ball." Requested we be as favorable with him as we could. We only sentenced him to run the gauntlet four times, and each man with nine switches should punish him, and for him in the future not be considered one of the party. The three principal chiefs petitioned for pardon of this man. After we explained the injury such men could do them by false representations, and explained the customs of our country, they were all satisfied with the sentence, and were witnesses to the punishment.
Captain Lewis's birthday. The evening was closed with an extra gill of whiskey, and a dance until eleven o'clock.
August 19, 1804. Sergeant Floyd is taken very bad all at once with a colic. He gets worse and we are much alarmed at his situation.
August 20, 1804. Sergeant Floyd died. Before his death he said, "I am going away—I want you to write me a letter." We buried him on the top of the bluff a half mile below a small river to which we gave his name. A cedar post with the name: Sergeant C. Floyd died here August 20, 1804, was fixed at the head of his grave. This man at all times gave us proof of his firmness and determined resolution to do service to his country, and honor to himself. After paying all honor to our deceased brother, we camped in the mouth of Floyd's River. A beautiful evening.
August 23, 1804. On the north is an extensive prairie which we called Buffalo Prairie for our having here killed our first buffalo.
August 25, 1804. We set the prairies on fire as signal for the Sioux to come to the river.
August 29, 1804. We had a violent storm of wind and rain last evening. Sergeant Pryor and his party arrived, attended by five chiefs and 70 men and boys. As a mark of great respect, they were presented with a fat dog, already cooked, of which they partook heartily and found it well flavored. The lodges of the Sioux are of a conical form, covered with buffalo robes painted with various figures and colors, with a hole in the top for the smoke to pass through. The lodges contain from 10 to 15 persons. The interior arrangement is compact and handsome.
August 30, 1804. Sent for the chiefs and warriors, whom we received at twelve o'clock, under a large oak tree, near which the flag of the United States was flying. Captain Lewis delivered a speech. We smoked the pipe of peace and the chiefs retired and they divided among one another the presents, smoked, ate, and held a council on the answer they were to make to us tomorrow. The young people exercised their bows and arrows in shooting at marks for beads. The Sioux are a stout, bold-looking people. The warriors are very much decorated with paint, porcupine quills and feathers, large leggings, and moccasins—all with buffalo robes of different colors. The squaws wore petticoats and a white buffalo robe with the black hair turned back over their necks and shoulders. In the evening the whole party danced until a late hour. Their musical instruments were the drum and a little bag of buffalo-hide with pebbles in it and a bunch of hair tied to it. This produces a rattling music.
August 31, 1804. In the morning the chiefs sat down in a row, with pipes of peace highly ornamented. The grand chief spoke at some length, approving what we had said, and promising to follow our advice.
"I see before me," said he, "my Great Father's two sons. You see me and the rest of our chiefs and warriors. We are very poor. We have neither powder, nor ball, nor knives. Our women and children at the village have no clothes. I wish that as my brothers have given me a flag and a medal, they would give something to those poor people, or let them stop and trade with the first boat which comes up the river. I will bring the chiefs of the Pawnees and Mahas together and make peace between them. It is better that I should do it than my Great Father's sons, for they will listen to me more readily."
September 11, 1804. A cloudy morning. Set out very early. The river wide, and shallow, the bottom narrow, and the river crowded with sandbars. Saw a village of barking squirrels [prairie dogs], 970 yards long and 800 yards wide. These animals are numerous. Killed four, with a view to have their skins stuffed.
In the morning we observed a man riding horseback and were much pleased to find it was George Shannon, one of our party, for whose safety we had been very uneasy. Our two horses having strayed from us, he was sent to search for them. After he found them he attempted to join us, but seeing some other tracks, which must be those of Indians, and which he mistook for our own, he concluded that we were ahead, and had been for 16 days following the bank of the river ahead of us. During the first 4 days he exhausted his bullets, and was then nearly starved, being obliged to subsist for 12 days on a few grapes, and a rabbit, which he killed by making use of a hard piece of stick for a ball. One of his horses gave out and was left behind. The other he kept as a last resource for food. Despairing of overtaking us, he was returning down the river, in hopes of meeting some other boat, and was on the point of killing his horse for food, when he was so fortunate as to join us.
September 12, 1804. The day was dark and cloudy. We with great difficulty were enabled to struggle through the sandbars, the water being rapid and shallow so that we were several hours making a mile. We advanced only 4 miles in the whole day.
September 21, 1804. Between one and two o'clock the sergeant on guard alarmed us by crying that the sandbar on which we lay was sinking. We jumped up, and found that both above and below our camp, the sand was undermined and falling in fast. We scarcely got into the boats and pushed off, when the bank under which we had been lying fell in. We formed a second camp for the rest of the night.
September 23, 1804. Three boys swam the river and informed us that the band of Teton Sioux were camped nearby. We gave these boys tobacco to carry to their chiefs to tell them we would speak tomorrow.
September 25, 1804. A fair morning. All well. Met in council at twelve o'clock, and after smoking, agreeably to usual custom, Captain Lewis proceeded to deliver speech. All our party paraded. We invited the chiefs on board and showed them the boat, the air-gun, and such curiosities as we thought might amuse them.
Three of their young men seized the cable of the pirogue (in which we had presents). The chiefs' soldier (each chief has a soldier) hugged the mast, and the second chief was very insolent, both in words and gestures (pretended drunkenness and staggered up against Clark) declaring he should not go on, stating he had not received presents sufficient from us. Clark felt compelled to draw his sword, and made a signal to the boat to prepare for action. Captain Lewis ordered all under arms in the boat.
Most of the warriors appeared to have their bows strung, and took out their arrows from the quiver. As Clark, being surrounded, was not permitted to return. The pirogue returned with 12 of our determined men ready for any event. This caused the Indians to withdraw at a distance, leaving their chiefs and soldiers alone with Captain Clark. Their treatment of Captain Clark was very rough and justified roughness on his part. Captain Clark went back with his men on board the pirogue. He had not proceeded more than 10 paces before the first chief, third, and 2 Brave Men waded in after him. He took them on board.
We proceeded on and anchored off a willow island. Placed a guard on shore to protect the cooks and a guard in the boat. Fastened the pirogues to the boat. Called this Bad Humored Island as we were in a bad humor.
Wednesday, September 26, 1804. Set out early. Proceeded on, and came to, by the wish of the chiefs, to let their squaws and boys see the boat, and suffer them to treat us well. Great numbers of men, women, and children on the banks viewing us. They show great anxiety. Captain Lewis and five men went on shore with the chiefs, who appeared disposed to make up and be friendly.
Captain Clark was received on an elegant painted buffalo robe and taken to the village by six men and was not permitted to touch the ground until he was put down in the grand council house, on a white dressed robe. Soon after they set him down, the men went for Captain Lewis.
After a smoke had taken place and the chief made a short speech to his people, we were requested to take the meal, and they put before us the dog they had been cooking, and pemmican, and ground potato. Pemmican is buffalo meat dried or jerked, pounded, and mixed with grease, raw. Dog, Sioux think a great dish, used on festivals. Clark ate little of dog. A large fire was made. Ten musicians played on tambourines, long sticks with deer and goats' hoofs tied so as to make a jungling noise, and many others of a similar kind. The women came forward, highly decorated, with the scalps and trophies of war of their fathers, husbands, and brothers and danced the War Dance, which they did with great cheerfulness, until about twelve o'clock, when we informed the chiefs that they must be fatigued amusing us.
October 10, 1804. A fine morning. We prepare to speak to the Indians. After the council was over, we shot the air-gun, which astonished them much. Those Indians were much astonished at Clark's servant [slave]. They never saw a black man before. All flocked around him and examined him from top to toe. He carried on the joke and made himself more terrible than we wished him to do.
October 26, 1804. We camped about one half mile below the first Mandan town. Many men, women, and children flocked down to see us.
November 2, 1804. This morning at daylight Captain Clark went to look for a proper place to winter. Found a place well supplied with wood. Captain Lewis went to the Mandan village to hear what they had to say. In the evening returned with a present of 11 bushels of corn.
Excerpted from Off the Map by Peter Roop, Connie Roop, Tim Tanner. Copyright © 1993 Peter and Connie Roop. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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