April 07, 1805
Meriwether Lewis

Fort Mandan

Our vessels consisted of six small canoes, and two large perogues. This little fleet altho' not quite so rispectable as those of Columbus or Capt. Cook, were still viewed by us with as much pleasure as those deservedly famed adventurers ever beheld theirs; and I dare say 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 trodden; the good or evil it had in store for us was for experiment yet to determine, and these little vessells contained every article by which we were to expect to subsist or defend ourselves. ... enterta[in]ing as I do, the most confident hope of succeeding in a voyage which had formed a da[r]ling 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 sperits, zealously attached to the enterprise, and anxious to proceed; not a whisper of murmur or discontent to be heard among them, but all act in unison, and with the most perfict harmony.

April 07, 1805
John Ordway

clear and pleasant.   about 9 oclock our Intrepter and them that went with him returned    brought with them 4 of the Rick a Ree Savages.     2 of them Chiefs. [Clark mentioned only one chief, Kakawita or Raven Man.]   they Informed us that only 10 of their nation had come up to the Mandanes villages to treat & Smoak a peace pipe with them &.c.    they brought a letter from Mr Tabbo who lives with R.Ree to our officers with news that 3 of the Souix chiefs was going down on the Big barge to see their Great father and that Some of the Rick a Ree chiefs was going also.  one of our hunters went out at 11 oclock and killed a deer.   we Set three of Sd. Rick Rees chiefs across the River.   the other one being lame Stayed in order to go down to his nation in the Barge.

About 5 oClock we all went on board fired the Swivel and Set off on our journey.   at the Same time the barge Set off for St Louis 2 frenchmen in a perogue in company with them. [The members of the return party can be found in Lewis's entry for this day.]   they took down the letters and all the writings which was necessary to go back to the States    also Some curious animals such as Goat Skins & horns, a barking Squerrell Some Mountain Rams horns a prarie hen & badgers Some birds cauled magpies & a nomber of other curious things too tedious to mention &.c. [Clark's entry for April 3 lists the materials sent to St. Louis.]   we took with us 2 large perogues and 6 small ones which we had loaded with provisions, Indian Goods, ammunition &.c.   we went on verry well with a hard head wind about 4 mls. & Camped [Opposite Mitutanka, about three miles below Stanton.] opposite the 1st village of Mandans on N.S. wind high from N.W. the greater part of the night    their is 30 of the party which continues to go on. [Both Lewis and Clark name the members of the permanent party and others who made the trip to the Pacific Ocean and returned.]    their was 10 which went down in the barge, but only two who had engaged for the route.--

[The party which continued the exploration was composed of the two captains, three sergeants (Gass, Pryor, and Ordway), twenty-three privates, two interpreters (Drewyer and Charbonneau), Sacagawea and her infant son, Jean Baptiste, and York, Clark's servant.]

[The returning party, with Corporal Warfington in charge, consisted of six private soldiers, Gravelines, who had been engaged as pilot, and two other Frenchmen.   Temporarily accompanying it, also, were the two engages, Rivet and Degie, and a lame Arikara who had been granted the privilege of transportation in the boat to his tribal home.  The party was to be joined at the Arikara village by Tabeau, the trader, and four hands, making a party of fifteen to descend the river.  None of them had originally intended to become permanent members of the exploring expedition with the exception of Newman and Reed, the two men who had been discharged for misconduct.]

April 07, 1805
Patrick Gass

The men returned and four of the Rickarees with them.  The commanding officers held a converstation with the Indians; and they concluded that some of them would go down in the boat from their village to St. Louis.  About 5 o'clock in the afternoon we left fort Mandan in good spirits. Thirty one men and a woman went up the river and thirteen returned down it in the boat. We had two periogues and six canoes, and proceeded about four miles, and encamped opposite the first Mandan village, on the North side.

April 07, 1805
Joseph Whitehouse

This day we had fair weather,--   in the morning the Rick a Rees chief [Kakawita, or Raven Man, an Arikara chief; See Clark's entry for this day.] came to the Fort, on a Visit to our Officers; he informed them, that the Chiefs of their Nation, was ready to descend the River in our boat, in Order to pay a Visit to the President of the United States.  At half past 4 o'Clock P.M; we all embark'd, in our large Canoes and left Fort Mandan, on our way for the Pacific Ocean.--  The boat sett off, Under the command of Corporal Warfington with a Command [See Lewis's entry of this day for the names of member of the return party.] on board for Saint Louis at same time on board of which was sent the deserter Read    we proceeded on and encamped, on the North side of the Mesouri River, opposite to the first Village of the Mandan Nation.--

The Natives have large fields, which they cultivate and which produces plentifully.   They have likewise Gardens, which they plant & have several kinds of Garden Vegetables in it, such as Lettuce, Mustard &ca    they have likewise growing in their Gardens, Gooseberrys, which is superior in Size, to any in the United States & Currants of different kinds.--  They are in general peaceable well disposed people--and have less of the Savage nature in them, than any Indians we met with on the Mesouri River.

They are of a very light Colour, the Men are very well featur'd and Stout; the Women are in general handsome; this Town or Village Contains from the best calculation we could make 2,000 Inhabitants [Clark counts about 1,250 people in both Mandan villages.], they are Governed by a Chief called the Big White and the Indians here live to a very old age, numbers being 100 Years old.--