Fort Mandan to the Great Falls
On April 7, 1805, the permanent party of the Lewis and Clark expedition set out up the Missouri River from Fort Mandan in present day North Dakota. They had spent the winter among the Mandan and Hidatsa Indians, waiting for the river's ice to break up and make travel possible. On the same day that they headed upriver, their keelboat which had brought them as far as the Mandan villages set off downriver for St. Louis with most of their French boatmen and a squad of soldiers under Corporal Richard Warfington. The boat carried dispatches and ethnological and natural history specimens which the captains were sending back to President Thomas Jefferson--the first fruits of the expedition.
The Corp of Discovery was now entering an area where there had been no record of previous white exploration, although they were informed about the country as far as the Continental Divide from the Mandans and Hidatsas. They also had with them the Shoshone woman Sacagawea, through whom they hoped to make friendly contact with her people living along the divide. Beyond that point they could only hope that with Indian assistance and guidance they could make a portage of the Rocky Mountains to some navigable stream flowing into the Columbia River, and thus reach the Pacific.
They would spend the rest of the spring and summer toiling their way up the Missouri to its headwaters in their two pirogues and six canoes. On April 25 Lewis with four men reached the Yellowstone River, near the present North Dakota-Montana boundary. Two days later, on April 27, 1805, after taking astronomical readings to fix the position of the site, the Corp of Discovery made its first camp in Montana about a mile below and opposite the village of Nohly.
The journey across Montana, unlike the earlier stages of the trip, brought no encounters with Indians. The party observed signs of Assiniboine and Blackfeet encampments, but the people themselves were absent. It may be, however, that Indians did observe the group's passage without making themselves known. In place of meetings with Indians, however, the party began a series of combats with grizzly bears. At first they had thought that their superior weaponry would give them an advantage over these animals--one not possessed by the Indians. Instead, the subsequent encounters led them to feel some of the same awe and respect for the bear that the Indians did.
Other natural phenomena posed even greater dangers. The severe spring winds sometimes made it impossible to navigate safely on the river, thus impeding their progress. On May 14 a pirogue turned on its side in a squall of wind, nearly causing the loss of its contents and passengers, including Sacagawea and her baby. Aside from the potential human tragedy, the loss of the supplies in the pirogue might have made it impossible for the expedition to continue; fortunately the quick action of boatman Pierre Cruzatte righted the craft and saved the situation.
Eye of the Needle at the White Cliffs of the Missouri
As they moved west the country grew increasingly arid and rugged. Small mountain ranges in the distance came into view which the captains assumed to be part of the Rockies. To the north and south they were viewing the present Bears Paw, Little Rocky, and Judith mountains. On May 27, 1805 the Corp of Discovery entered the Breaks of the Missouri, an area of colorful and impressive geological formations, including the fantastically sculpted White Cliffs, which prompted Lewis on May 31 to pen a romantic description of these "seens of visionary enchantment." Clark named one major stream in the area for a young woman, Julia Hancock, who would later become his wife and today it retains that name, the Judith. The captains were also beginning to notice new species not seen on the lower Missouri. Ponderosa pine began to appear as did quaking aspen, sagebrush, and new varieties of willows and cottonwood trees. They were also taken with the abundance of currants and gooseberries. While the expedition's fisherman Silas Goodrich caught goldeye and cutthroat trout, others saw new animals such as the prairie rattlesnake, the Montana horned owl, and the thirteen-lined ground squirrel.
After nearly two months of travel, on June 2, the Corp arrived at the mouth of a major fork of the Missouri which they named the Marias River, after a cousin of Lewis's. This stream posed a dilemma, for none of the information given them by the Mandans and Hidatsas had referred to this stream. The problem was to determine which fork was the true Missouri, which would lead them to the Continental Divide. To make the wrong decision and take the wrong river might cause such delay as to leave them stranded in the mountains in winter, with the likelihood that the expedition would fail altogether. Matters were not helped by the fact that, while the captains believed that the river coming from the southwest was the Missouri, virtually all their men were sure that the other fork was the one to be followed. The captains led reconnaissances a short distance up each stream, without reaching any satisfactory conclusion. Finally they decided to set off up the southwest fork, with Lewis going ahead with a few men in the hope of finding an identifiable landmark soon enough to determine if they were in error.
The Great Falls of the Missouri
On June 13 Lewis found the evidence that proved they were on the right river; the Hidatsas had told them of the Great Falls of the Missouri, the point at which the river emerged from the mountains. As his little group walked upstream, Lewis heard a roaring and saw clouds of spray that could only come from the falls. His relief was great, reflected in his ecstatic description of the beauty of the "sublime" spectacle, but the presence of the five cascades and intervening rapids presented a new problem, for the canoes and supplies must now be portaged around this obstacle. This task would consume an entire month of their precious time.
Great Falls to the Three Forks
A survey of the area showed that a portage of about eighteen miles would be necessary to skirt the falls. To transport the heavy canoes and goods to their upper portage camp they constructed crude carriages out of cottonwood, the wheels being rounded slabs of the trunks. The men had to pull heavy loads across ground roughened by the dried tracks of buffalo and infested with prickly pear cactus, all of which tormented their moccasined feet. The exertion was so great that at every rest stop they fell down and went immediately to sleep. Some of the men were exempted from this labor to hunt for the party's food, but they had to contend with the numerous grizzly bears. Heavy rain showers drenched everyone, and large hailstones injured several. During one downpour Clark, surveying the falls with Charbonneau, Sacagawea, her baby, and York, was nearly swept into the Missouri by a flash flood coming down the gully in which the little group had taken refuge.
At the upper portage camp Lewis labored on a collapsible boat of his own design, whose dismantled frame the party had transported across the continent for use when heavier boats had to be left behind. The frame could be bolted together and covered with animal skins. Unfortunately, tar was required to make the invention waterproof, and there were no pine trees near the area to provide it. Attempts to contrive a substitute were unsuccessful; the boat leaked too badly to be useful. The captains decided that Clark should go ahead several miles upriver where there were some sizable cottonwood trees and build two more dugout canoes.
On July 15 the party set out from the canoe-building camp, after more than three months of travel from Fort Mandan.
Square Butte, south of Fort Shaw, MT.
First Lewis and then Clark forged ahead of the main party looking for the Shoshones, for it was now vital to find these Indians to obtain horses and guides for the mountain crossing which increasingly appeared likely.
Gates of the Mountain - Missouri River
The party moved through the deep canyon which they called the "Gates of the Rocky Mountains," a name which remains today. They were now within the mountains, and shallow waters and rapids would make navigation increasingly difficult. On July 25 Clark with four men reached the Three Forks of the Missouri, of which the Hidatsas had told them.
Lewis' Rock - Three Forks of the Missouri
Lewis with the main party reached the forks on July 27, and the captains decided to name the three streams the Jefferson, the Madison, and the Gallatin, after the president and his secretaries of state and treasury. There was still no contact with the Shoshones, although various signs of their presence were evident. Sacagawea was now recognizing familiar landmarks. A meeting with her people was now their most urgent concern.
Lewis & Clark at the Three Forks of the Missouri as depicted by E. S. Paxson
Three Forks to Lemhi Pass
Lewis and Clark had reached the Three Forks of the Missouri, which they named the Jefferson, the Madison, and the Gallatin, on July 27, 1805. Beyond lay the major obstacles in their journey to the Pacific, the passage over the Rocky Mountains to some navigable tributary of the Columbia River. To make this trip they needed the assistance of the Shoshone Indians, Sacagawea's people, and although they had seen signs indicating the presence of these people, none of them had yet appeared.
What Lewis and Clark hoped to find was the "pyramidal height of land," the point from which, geographical theorists believed, the great rivers of the West flowed toward the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Gulf of California. It would be, in 1805, the closest thing still possible to the Northwest Passage that so many mariners had yearned and searched for, that James Cook had sought less than thirty years before; and that Alexander Mackenzie had failed to find in the previous decade but had thought might exist somewhere in the continent. The information supplied by the Mandans and Hidatsas suggested there might yet be an easy portage to the Columbia headwaters.
The captains decided to proceed up the Jefferson, the westernmost fork, with Lewis going ahead with a few men to search for the Shoshones. Clark, unable to do much walking because of illness and a bad boil on his ankle, would command the main party in the canoes. The passage of the canoes became increasingly difficult as the streams became more shallow and unnavigable because of rapids. Much of the time the men had to draw the canoes along by hand, wading in the water. The party moved on up the Jefferson and then its main tributary, the Beaverhead. Lewis proceeded ahead, past the forks of the Jefferson and such landmarks as Beaverhead Rock. He left a message for Clark to take the Beaverhead River instead of the west fork, which they named Wisdom River (today's Big Hole River), but a beaver chewed down the pole on which he left the message and Clark took the wrong fork, causing another day's delay.
Lewis was amazed that the rivers penetrated so far into the mountains while still being navigable, but he knew that this situation would not long continue. On August 10 he reached the forks of the Beaverhead River and followed the western fork into the valley the captains later called "Shoshone Cove." The next day, following an Indian trail, the advance party came upon a Shoshone on horseback. Lewis tried to convince him by signs that they were friendly, but the Indian evidently feared they were Blackfeet raiders and fled.
On August 12, 1805 Lewis and his three men (George Drouillard, Hugh McNeal, John Shields) continued following Indian paths up later Trail Creek. At the head of that stream they reached what they considered the source of the "heretofore deemed endless Missouri." A short distance beyond was the ridge of the Continental Divide.
Lemhi Pass Looking to the West
From this vantage point Lewis could look west and see further ranges of mountains--proof that the portage to the waters of the Columbia would not be as easy as he had hoped. His immediate problem, however, remained that of making friendly contact with the Shoshones.
Lemhi Pass Looking to the East
Lewis's party had crossed Lemhi Pass into Idaho, the first U.S. citizens to traverse the Continental Divide. On August 13 they continued down into the valley of the Lemhi River, still following the Indian trail. Once again they encountered some Indians, who fled at their approach. Finally they found a woman and two girls who did not see them until they were quite close. One of the girls fled, but the woman and the other girl apparently thought it was too late to run and sat waiting for the strangers to kill them. Lewis took the woman's hand, repeating the word "ta-ba-bone," which he evidently obtained from Sacagawea and which he thought meant "white man." He rolled up his sleeve to show his white skin and gave the two Shoshones presents. Somehow he calmed them and, through George Drouillard's sign language, persuaded them to call back the girl who had fled before she could raise an alarm in the main Shoshone camp.
Through these three Shoshones Lewis was able to make contact with their people who were camped on the Lemhi River. The chief, Cameahwait, seemed friendly, but his people were still afraid that the strangers were in league with the Blackfeet and would betray them into the hands of their enemies.
Lewis, trying to persuade them to go with him to meet Clark's party on the Beaverhead River, feared that they would take alarm and disperse into the mountains, where he knew that he would never find them, and that his command would be left stranded in the mountains with winter coming on. To prevent this he used every form of persuasion he could think of, including promises that white traders would follow him and would provide the Shoshones with trade goods, such as guns to use against their enemies.
He gave the chief his own gun, saying that Cameahwait could shoot him (August 16) if he proved unfaithful. Recovering a message he himself had left at the forks of the Beaverhead for Clark, he stalled for a time, saying it was a message from Clark that the main party would soon be there. These means, along with stories about a man with black skin and another with read hair--wonders that greatly intrigued the Indians--persuaded them to wait at the forks until Clark's party arrived on August 17.
"Camp Fortunate" and/or "Clark Canyon Resevoir"
Such was the captains' relief that they called the campsite at the forks of the Beaverhead "Camp Fortunate."
Lemhi Pass to Traveler's Rest
Geographical information obtained from the Shoshones was not encouraging. A reconnaissance, August 19-23, by Clark confirmed that the principal streams in the vicinity, though they did flow toward the Columbia, were unnavigable because of rapids. In his journal of August 21 Clark wrote, "I shall in justice to Capt. Lewis who was the first white man ever on this fork of the Columbia Call this Louis's river." For the 23rd. of August Clark writes, "The Hills or mountains were not like those I had Seen but like the Side of a tree Streight up." The alternative as proposed by Clark was to obtain horses from the Shoshones and cross the mountains by land. Patrick Gass records for that same day that they "found it was not possible to go down either by land or water without much risk and trouble." Fortunately, they secured the services of an Indian they called "Old Toby," who knew of a route over the ranges. The latter part of August and much of September would be consumed by the overland trek, which would take them back into Montana, then back to Idaho, and would include a journey over the rugged Lolo Trail. Along the way they met the Flathead Indians, another tribe who had never seen white men.
The trip over the Bitterroot Mountains via the Lolo Trail was perhaps the severest test of the whole expedition. The party set out early on September 1, traveling cross-country over high, rugged hills, to today's North Fork of the Salmon river (Fish Creek to Lewis and Clark), following their Shoshone guide. They were headed almost due north and climbing toward the Continental Divide (on their right, to the east) in rough, seldom-traveled mountainous country, with no Indian trail or any other sign of human presence.
They were entering mountains far more difficult to pass than any American had ever attempted. The confusions of creeks and ravines cutting through the steep mountainsides has made the route the expedition used one of the most disputed of the entire journey. Clark described the route: "thro' thickets in which we were obliged to Cut a road, over rockey hill Sides where our horses were in [perpetual] danger of Slipping to Ther certain distruction & up & Down Steep hills . . . with the greatest dificuelty risque &c. we made 7 1/2 miles." Joseph Whitehouse writes on September 1 that "in the afternoon we descended a Mountain nealy as Steep as the roof of a house." Pack animals slipped and fell down steep mountain sides.
As the party ascended toward the Divide, the going grew worse. On September 3, it snowed. Winter was already beginning in the high country in September, and the party would struggle through deepening snow. Their last thermometer broke. Clark described the misery of the day: "We passed over emince hils and Some of the worst roade that ever horses passed our horses frequently fell." Lack of game, except for a few grouse, forced them to kill and eat some of their horses. The expedition reached the Divide (whether the location be Lost Trail Pass or Chief Joseph Pass is disputed), which they followed for some miles, along the present Idaho-Montana border, before beginning their descent to the Bitterroot Valley, west of the Divide. There was a hard freeze that night.
On September 4, 1805, the party fell down a very steep descent to a north-flowing river that Lewis named "Clark's River" (today's Bitterroot River).
Ross' Hole Looking to the East
There, at Ross's Hole, the captains encountered "a part[y] of the Tushepau nation, of 33 Lodges about 80 men 400 Total and at least 500 horses", a band of the Salish (Flathead) Indians. Communication was possible but difficult. The Flatheads were allies of the Shoshones and this band was on its way to join Cameahwait's people at the Three Forks. Certainly the presence of Old Toby eased the way for the Americans. In addition, a Shoshone boy lived with the Flatheads and he could speak with the captains through translation channels. They were generous even though their provisions were as low as that of the expedition. The Corp was able to trade for horses at much better prices than the Shoshones demanded. The captains bought thirteen horses for "a fiew articles of merchendize," and the Flatheads exchanged seven of the run-down Shoshone ponies for what Clark called "ellegant horses." Private Joseph Whitehouse refers to the Flatheads as, "the likelyest and honestst Savages we have ever yet Seen." The expedition now had approximately thirty-nine horses, three colts, and one mule--for packing, riding, or food in the last extreme.
Ross's Hole as depicted by Charles M. Russell
On the morning of September 6, the captains directed the men to lighten the loads on the Shoshone horses and pack the excess on the Salish horses. by midafternoon, that task was completed and the party set off down the Bitterroot River (north) while the Salish rode out for the Three Forks and the buffalo hunt with Cameahwait's people. The expedition made 10 miles and camped, with nothing to eat but two grouse and some berries. They had still with them a little corn and the portable soup purchased in Philadelphia.
For the next three days the descent of the Bitterroot Valley was relatively easy. The expedition made 22 miles on the 7th, 23 miles on the 8th, and 21 miles on the 9th.
On Route to "Traveller's Rest"
But as they moved along, the captains and their men kept looking to their left (west) at the snow-covered Bitterroot Mountains, described by Sergeant Patrick Gass as "the most terrible mountains I ever beheld."
The Bitterroot River was wide enough to float but the captains did not consider stopping to make canoes. They asked Old Toby about its course and he could only inform them that it continued to flow north and he did not know whether it joined the Columbia River or not (it did, but far to the north). The absence of salmon on the River told the captains there had to be a great falls downstream. Making further inquires of Old Toby, Lewis learned that a few miles downstream (west of today's Missoula, Montana) the Bitterroot was joined by another river (today's Clark Fork) that flowed from the Continental Divide through an extensive valley. Their guide informed them that by traveling up the Clark Fork to its source they could cross the Divide over a low pass and would then descend down a gentle slope to the Missouri River near the Gates of the Rocky Mountains. As Old Toby put it, "a man might pass to the missouri from hence by that rout in four days." It had taken the Corp of Discovery 53 days to travel from the Gates of the Rocky Mountains to its present location.
Traveler's Rest to Packer Meadows
The party camped the night of September 9 at the junction of a stream coming in from the west (today's Lolo Creek, some ten miles south-southwest of Missoula). Old Toby informed Lewis that at this place the party could leave the Bitterroot River and head almost straight west, up Lolo Creek, and then over the mountains. The time had approached that each man had dreaded every time he looked left toward those snow-caped peaks. Lewis wrote of "those unknown formidable snow clad Mountains," which the party was about to attempt "on the bare word of a Savage, while 99/100th of his Countrymen assured us that a passage was impracticable."
Lolo Creek Looking Upstream
Lolo Creek Looking Downstream
"The weather appearing settled and fair," Lewis wrote, "I determined to halt the next day rest our horses and take some scelestial Observations."
He called this camp of September 9-11 "Travellers rest." On the morning of September 10, Lewis sent out all the hunters. They returned with four deer, a beaver, and three grouse. Private John Colter brought in three Indians from a tribe that lived across the mountains. The captains called them Flatheads, but they were surely Nez Perce. They were in pursuite of a band of Shoshones that had stolen 21 horses--proof the mountains could be crossed. One of the three agreed to remain with the Americans "to introduce us to his relations whom he informed us were numerous and resided in the plain below the mountains on the columbia river, from whence he said the water was good and capable of being navigated to the sea." He also told Lewis that "some of his relation were at the sea last fall and saw an old whiteman who resided there by himself." The best news of all, Lewis recorded, was that the Indian said "it would require five sleeps wich is six days travel, to reach his relations."
Further inquiry revealed the river that flowed into the Bitterroot a few miles north (today's Clark Fork) received a smaller stream (today's Blackfoot) some little distance to the east (near today's Missoula, Montana).
It was this stream the Nez Perce followed to get to a low pass over the Continental Divide, bringing them to the buffalo country in the vicinity of either the Dearborn or the Medicine (today's Sun) River. That information confirmed there were two mountain crossings required to get to the Missouri drainage from the Nez Perce country west of the Bitterroot Mountains. It told the captains there were at least two better routes across the Continental Divide than the one they had taken--one via today's Clark Fork to today's MacDonald Pass (6,320 feet) down to today's Helena, a second via the Blackfoot River to today's Lewis and Clark Pass (6,000 feet) down to the Great Falls, and a possible third, via Gibbons Pass (6,941 feet), down the Wisdom River (today's Big Hole River) to the Jefferson River. Which of these answered Jefferson's order to find "the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent," only further exploration would tell. Being late in the year the present requirement was to get over the Bitterroots before the fall snows began. On the return trip they could examine the alternate routes.
During the night of September 10-11, two horses strayed. Not until 3:00 p.m. were they caught and brought in causing an expensive delay. The Indian who had volunteered to guide the expedition to his people got impatient and left. Having left their Traveler's Rest camp late in the afternoon of September 11 they proceeded up Lolo Creek seven miles. Here they stopped for the night on a smooth bottom beside the creek where Indians had recently encamped. The next day, September 12, they followed a road through thickly timbered country stopping along the way to briefly inspect an Indian-made, earth-covered sweathouse and a number of pine trees that had been peeled by the natives to get at the inner bark.
Early on September 13 the party arrived at a series of hot springs (Lolo Hot Springs) that "Spouted from the rocks" and which was "nearly boiling hot". Ordway reported that the party "came to a warm Spring which run from a ledge of rocks." Clark waited for Lewis to come up. When he arrived, the party followed what Clark called a "tolerbl rout" that crossed the Divide, separating the Bitterroot and Lochsa watersheds. Sergeant Ordway said that they "found it to be only about half a mile from the head Spring of the waters running East to the head Spring of the waters running West."
The Return Trip
On June 29 Clark notes in his journal, "we prosued the hights of the ridge on which we have been passing for several days; it termonated at the distance of 5 M. from our encampment, and we decended to & passed the main branch of Kooskooke (Present Crooked Fork) 1 1/2 Ms. above the enterance of Glade Creek (Lewis refers to this as "Quawmash creek", present Brushy Creek.) which falls in on the N. E. Side. we bid adew to the Snow. near the River we found a Deer which the hunters had killed and left us. this was a fortunate Supply as all our bears oil was now exhosted, and we were reduced to our roots alone without Salt. the river is 30 yds wide and runs with great velossity. the bead as all the Mountain streams is composed of Smooth Stone. beyond this river we assended a Steep Mountain about 2 Miles to it's Sumit where we found the old road which we had passed on as we went out. comeing in one our right, the road was now much plainer and much beaten." Lewis writes at noon on June 29, 1806, "we arrived at the quawmas flatts on the Creek of the same name (Packer Meadows in the vicinity of their camp of September 13, 1805.) and halted there is a pretty little plain of about 50 acres plentifully stocked with quawmash and from apperances this formes one of the principal stages or encampments of the indians who pass the mountains on this road. we found after we had halted that one of our packhorses with his load and one of my riding horses were left behind. we dispatched J. Feilds and Colter in surch of the lost horses. after dinner we continued our march seven miles further to the warm springs where we arrived early in the evening" (They crossed into Montana and camped at the Lolo Hot Springs; See September 13, 1805.) This same day Clark notes, "the principal Spring is about the temperature of the Warmest baths used at the Hot Springs in Virginia. in this bath which had been prepared by the Indians by stopping the river with Stone and mud, I bathed and remained in 10 minits it was with dificuelty I could remain this long and it causd a profuse swet. two other bold Springs adjacent to this are much warmer, their heat being so great as to make the hand of a person Smart extreemly when immerced. we think the temperature of those Springs about the Same as that of the hotest of the hot Springs of Virginia. both the Men and the indians amused themselves with the use of the bath this evening. I observe after the indians remaining in the hot bath as long as they could bear it run and plunge themselves into the Creek the water of which is now as Cold as ice Can make it; after remaining here a fiew minits they return again to the worm bath repeeting this transision Several times but always ending with the worm bath." Ordway states, "a number of the party as well as myself bathed in these hot Springs, but the water so hot (111oF) that it makes the Skin Smart when I first entered it." Gass adds, "most of us bathed in its water."
The following day June 30 Meriwether Lewis writes, " in decending the creek this morning on the steep side of a high hill my horse sliped with both his hinder feet out of the road and fell, I also fell off backwards and slid near 40 feet down the hill before I could stop myself such was the steepness of the declivity; the horse was near falling on me in the first instance but fortunately recovers and we both escaped unhirt." Lewis continues, "a little before sunset we arrived at our old encampment on the south side of the creek a little above it's entrance into Clark's river. (Travelers' Rest camp of September 9-11, 1805) here we encamped with a view to remain two days in order to rest ourselves and horses & make our final arrangements for seperation. we came 19 ms. after dinner the road being much better than it has been since we entered the mountains. we found no appearance of the Ootslashshoots having been here lately." Patrick Gass for this day notes, "In the evening we arrived at travellers'-rest creek, where the party rested two days last fall, and where it emptied into Flathead (called Clarke's) river, a beautiful river about one hundred yards wide at this place; but there is no fish of any consequence in it; and according to the Indian account, there are falls on it, between this place and its mouth, where it empties into the Columbia, six or seven hundred feet high; and which probably prevent the fish from coming up." John Ordway states, "the Musquetoes verry troublesome here.--"
Perhaps William Clark, in his succinct manner, puts it best when on this same day June 30 writes, "Descended the mountain to Travellers rest leaveing these tremendious mountains behind us, in passing of which we have experienced cold and hunger of which I shall ever remember." They spent a few days resting for the next stage of the journey.
Lewis & Clark at Traveler's Rest as depicted by Edgar Samuel Paxson
At Fort Clatsop the captains had decided to divide the party for an extended time to investigate previously unexplored territory. Lewis would head east across the mountains to the Great Falls of the Missouri, then explore the Marias River before returning to the Missouri. His purpose was to discover if the Marias drained northern reaches thus giving further territorial claims to the United States under the Louisiana Purchase. Clark would go southeast to the site of Camp Fortunate, then down the Beaverhead and Jefferson rivers to the Three Forks of the Missouri. Part of his party would then take canoes down the Missouri to the Great Falls to meet Lewis's party there, while Clark went east to the Yellowstone and down that river. His object was to inspect the Yellowstone and perhaps make contact with additional Indian tribes. The two captains and their men would meet at the mouth of the Yellowstone.
Lewis's Party from Traveler's Rest to the Great Falls - The Best Road
Captain Meriwether Lewis, Sergeant Patrick Gass, George Drouillard, Ruben Fields, Joseph Fields, William Werner, Robert Frazier, Hugh McNeal, John Thompson and Silas Goodrich crossing the Clark's Fork (Missoula) River, 2 1/2 miles below the mouth of the Bitterroot, above the "flats," July 3, 1806 as depicted by Edgar Samuel Paxson
From Travelers Rest on July 3, 1806, Clark's party of 23 people and 50 horses had set out south toward the Beaverhead country. At the same time, Lewis's 10-man detachment with accompanying Indian guides proceeded north down the Bitterroot River.
The enlisted men realized the northerly Rockies and Plains explorations that wold be led by lewis potentially were the most hazardous, being in the region of the Blackfeet bands.
Lewis had called for volunteers and many stepped forward. Lewis had chosen George Drouillard, Sergeant patrick Gass, and Privates Joseph Fields, Reuben Fields, Robert Frazier, and William Werner for an upper Marias investigation. This would not occur, however, until after the Lewis party had completed their exploratory travel along the "best" route to the Great Falls.
Also, Lewis had selected Silas Goodrich, Hugh McNeal, and John Thompson to open the Great Falls caches and to portage canoes and baggage below the rapids, which would be a laborious, fairly lengthy task. (They eventually would be joined by a detached squad from Clark's party, coming down the Missouri River in canoes from the Three Forks.)
Consequently, when setting out from Travelers Rest on July 3, 1806, Lewis had a combined party of 10 men, 5 Indian guides, and 17 of the Corps' horses.
They continued a few miles north to the Bitterroot-Clark Fork confluence and forded the river, before turning a short distance east up the Clark Fork in the direction of the Blackfoot River, or River of the Road to Buffalo. This night's campsite was near modern-day Missoula, Montana.
On the morning of July 4, a sixth native joined the Nez Perces. Observing the Hellgate Canyon (situated just east of Missoula.) the guides indicated that the defile and the Blackfoot River country beyond it were dangerous because of requent enemy war parties. After noting their concern for the Lewis party's safety, the guides left to go visit friendly tribesmen elsewhere along the Clark Fork; afterwords, they planned to return west over the Lolo Trail to their people in Nez Perce country.
Continuing up the extensive Blackfoot River watershed and following behind a series of recently abandoned Indian campsites, Lewis's detachment eventually crossed the Rockies and the continental divide at today's Lewis and Clark Pass. They then traveled out onto the Great Plains, coming to the "Medicine" or Sun River, which they followed down to the Great Falls and the site of their 1805 upper portage camp.
Eight days, July 3-11, 1806, were expended on the journey from Travelers Rest to the Missouri River.
Lewis's investigation of this "best" route between Travelers Rest and the Great Falls was of exceptional importance to the captains. When Clark was completing the map work at Fort Clatsop, the captains were well aware that an all-water route (or one with a short portage) between Missouri and Columbia waters had not been found. Discovering a practicable water route, with a short Rocky Mountain land portage, had been one of Jefferson's and the Corps' most desired goals. The captains were well aware that this had not been accomplished.
Making the best of the situation, they now intended to identify the most acceptable land route through the Rockies. Largely based on Indian advice, the natives' well-traveled road along the Blackfoot River seemed to best fit expectations.
The Most Northern Point
During Lewis's short stay at the Great Falls, July 11-16, 1806, warriors ran off with 7 of his party's 17 horses. With only 10 mounts left, Lewis regretfully reduced the size of his upper Marias exploring party to 4 men and 6 horses, instead of 7 mounted men as originally planned.
The other 4 horses would be left to necessarily assist the 6 men portaging canoes and baggage around the Great Falls. The 10 men of Sergeant Ordway's canoe party, paddling downstream from the Three Forks, soon would join them.
President Thomas Jefferson's instructions to Meriwether Lewis had directed the Corps of Discovery to attempt to identify the most northerly point in the Missouri watershed and its relationship to Canadian rivers. This information could be critical in boundary negotiations regarding British and American possessions in western North America.
The captains had decided that the source of the Marias River likely was the most northerly Missouri tributary (in actuality, the Milk River headwaters extend considerably farther north). With his reduced party--including only Lewis, Drouillard, and the Fields brothers--Lewis intended to ride north from the Great Falls to the Marias River and follow its tributaries to the most northern point to take latitude and longitude sightings. When this was accomplished, Lewis planned to return by August 5, 1806, to the Gass-Ordway portage group waiting for him below the Great Falls at the mouth of the Marias River. The combined party then would descend the Missouri as quickly as possible to rejoin Clark's party at the mouth of the Yellowstone River.
As it turned out, however, Lewis's detachment skirmished with an 8-man Blackfeet party on Two Medicine River, an upper Marias tributary. Fearing pursuit by larger bands of warriors, Lewis and his three men desperately rode southeast 120 miles (by Lewis's count) in slightly more than 24 hours, proceeding much of the way under moonlight and lightning flashes from thunderheads hanging on the horizon. On the morning of July 28, they were fortunate to quickly reunite with the portage party proceeding downstream toward the Marias. Turning the horses loose, the combined party of 20 men in 5 canoes and 1 pirogue proceeded down the Missouri.
The makeup of the various groups, as best we know, is as follows:
1. Lewis and Party: July 4 - 16, 1806: Lewis - Gass - Drouillard - J. Fields - R. Fields - Frazier - Goodrich - McNeal - Thompson - Werner - Seaman (dog) - 5 Indians - 17 horses.
2. Lewis contingent, upper Marias exploration: July 16 - 28, 1806: Lewis - Drouillard - J. Fields - R. Fields - 6 horses.
3. Gass contingent, Great Falls portage: July 11 - 28, 1806: Gass - Frazier - Goodrich - McNeal - Thompson - Werner - 4 horses.
4. Lewis and Party July 29 - August 12, 1806: Lewis - Gass - Ordway - Drouillard - J. Fields - R. Fields - Frazier - Werner - Thompson - Goodrich - McNeal - Collins - Colter - Cruzette - Howard - Lepage - Potts - Whitehouse - Willard - Wieser - Seaman (dog)
On July 3 the two groups went their separate ways, Lewis admitting "I could not avoid feeling much concern on this occasion although I hoped this separation was only momentary." It was the first time during the expedition that they had separated for so great a distance and time. Lewis continues, "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 yds. wide. 2 miles above this place I passed the entrance of the East branch of Clark's River which discharges itself by two channels; the water of this river is more terbid than the main stream and is from 90 to 120 yds. 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 compleated by 3 P.M. when we dined and began to take over our baggage which we effected in the course of 3 hours the rafts being obliged to return several times. the Indians swam over their horses and drew over their baggage in little basons of deer skins 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 untill 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 crouded with several small Islands and willow bars which were now overflown; 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 sunk and I was drawn off the raft by a bush and swam on shore the two men remained on the raft and forntunately effected a landing at some little distance below. I wet the chronometer by this accedent 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 Ms. 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 shewed me at no great distance from our Camp would lead us up the East branch of Clark's river and a river they called Cokahlarishkit or the river of the road to bufaloe (The route would go up the Clark Fork and the Blackfoot rivers.) and thence to medicine river (Sun River, which meets the Missouri just above the Great Falls at Great Falls, MT.) and the falls of the Missouri where we wished to go. they alledged that as the road was a well beaten track we could not now miss our way and as they were affraid of meeting with their enimies the Minnetares they could not think of continuing with us any longer, that they wished now to proceed down Clark's river in surch of their friends the Shalees. they informed us that not far from the dividing ridge (The Continental Divide.) between the waters of this and the Missouri rivers the roads forked. they recommended the left hand as the best rout but said they would both lead us to the falls of the Missouri."
Lewis and Party: July 4 - 13, 1806: Lewis - Gass - Drouillard - J. Fields - R. Fields - Frazier - Goodrich - McNeal - Thompson - Werner - Seaman (dog) - 5 Indians.
Lewis headed down the Bitterroot River, then up the Clark Fork to the junction of the Blackfoot River and continued up that river. On July 4 Lewis writes, "the first 5 miles of our rout was through a part of the extensive plain in which we were encamped, we then entered the mountains with the East fork of Clark's river through a narrow confined pass on it's N. side continuing up that river five ms. further to the entrance of the Cokahlahishkit R (Blackfoot River.) which falls in on the N.E. side, is 60 yds. wide deep and rapid. the banks bold not very high but never over flow. the East fork below its junction with this stream is 100 yds. wide and above it about 90. the water of boath are terbid but the East branch much the most so; their beds are composed of sand and gravel; the East fork possesses a large portion of the former. neither of those streams are navigable in consequence of the rapids and shoals which obstruct their current. thus far a plain or untimbered country bordered the river which near the junction of these streams spread into a handsome level plain of no great extent; the hills were covered with long leafed pine and fir. I now continued my rout up the N. side of the Cokahlahishkit river through a timbered country for 8 miles and encamped in a handsom bottom on the river where there was an abundance of excelence grass for our horses."
On July 5 Lewis and his party traveled approximately 31 miles to the entrance of a large creek 20 yds. wide which he "Called Seaman's Creek (Present Monture Creek. Lewis's spelling here suggests the presently favored name for his dog, identified by some as Scannon; See September 11, 1803 and John Ordway's entries of April 26, 1805 and May 19, 1805.) passing a creek at 1 m. 8 yds wide. (Cottonwood Creek.) this course with the river, the road passing through and extensive high prarie rendered very uneven by a vast number of little hillucks and sinkholes <holds>. at the head of these two creeks high broken mountains stand at the distance of 10 m. forming a kind of Cove generally of open untimbered country.-- we encamped on the lower side of the last creek just above it's entrance." (On the west side of Monture Creek, just upstream from its entrance into Blackfoot River.)
July 6 brought Lewis to two nearly equal forks of the river, (Possibly the junction of Poorman Creek from the south and Blackfoot River. At this fork Clark has made a dotted line representing the Indian trail going southeasterly, while Lewis's trail goes northeast. It is also possible that Lewis has misplaced this course and that it should go as the second course of July 7, since Lewis's camp was more than one mile below the entrance of Poorman Creek. The two forks would then be Landers Fork and Blackfoot River. These two streams more nearly fit the captain's description here.) "here the road forks also one leading up each branch these are the forks of which I presume the indians made mention. passed a creek on N. side 12 yds wide shallow and clear. (Probably Arrastra Creek flowing into Blackfoot River.) to our encampment of this evening over a steep high balld toped hill for 2 m. thence through and to the left of a large low bottom 2 M. thence three miles through a thick wood along the hill side bottoms narrow. thence 1 m. to our encampment (On Beaver Creek two miles west of present Lincoln, MT.) on a large creek some little distance above it's mouth through a beatifull plain on the border of which we passed the remains of 32 old lodges. they appear to be those of the Minnetares as are all those we have seen today. killed <another> five deer and a beaver today. (Beaver, Castor canadensis.) encamped on the creek much sign of beaver in this extensive bottom.
The following day July 8 they departed their camp and traveled 3 1/2 miles to the top of a hill, where Lewis "saw the Shishequaw mountain (Present Haystack Butte, shown clearly on Lewis's sketch map.) about 8 M. distant, immediately before us. passed <torrant> Dearborne's river (Dearborn River which they named on July 18, 1805.) at 3 m. this stream comes form the S. W. out of the mountains which are about 5 Ms. to our left." The party passed "through an open plain to Shishequaw Creek..." (Elk Creek, a branch of Sun River, Lewis and Clark's Medicine River.) "...we struck it about 10 miles below the mountain which boar S. 32 W. from us..." "...we steered through the plains leaving the road with a view to strike Medicine river and hunt down it to it's mouth in order to procure the necessary skins to make geer, and meat for the three men whom we mean to leave at the falls as none of them are hunters. we halted and dined on Shishequaw Creek" They proceeded on 2 miles "to the discharge of Shishequaw Creek into the Medicine River" (The junction of Elk Creek and Sun River.) Patrick Gass writes, "In the afternoon we proceeded down Medicine river nine miles; and having come in the whole to day twenty eight miles encamped for the night; and found the musketoes very troublesome." According to Lewis they "encamped on a large island." (An Island in Sun river just north of Montana Highway 21.)
Lewis writes on July 11, "when I arrived in sight of the white-bear Islands (Lewis's party camped here on the west bank of the Missouri opposite the White Bear Islands (see June 18, 1805) and a little below the mouth of sand Coulee Creek on the opposite bank.) the missouri bottoms on both sides of the river were crouded with buffaloe I sincerely beleif that there were not less than 10 thousand buffaloe within a circle of 2 miles arround that place..." "...we unloaded our horses and encamped opposite to the Islands." "I then set all hands to prepare <the> two canoes <in order to pass the river> the one we made after the mandan fassion with a single skin in the form of a bason (The "bullboat" of the Mandans and Hidatsas; See October 6, 1804.) and the other we constructed of two skins on a plan of our own. we were unable to compleat our canoes this evening."
The following morning, July 12, the party arrose early and resumed the completion of the canoes. Lewis had dispatched men in quest of the horses discovering ten of their best horses were absent. Lewis writes, "I fear that they are stolen. I dispatch two men on horseback in surch of them..." "...at Noon Werner returned having found three others of the horses near Fort Mountain. Sergt. Gass did not return untill 3 P.M. not having found the horses. he had been about 8 ms. up medecine river. I now dispatched Joseph Fields and Drewyer in quest of them. the former returned at dark unsuccessfull and the latter continued absent all night. at 5 P.M. the wind abated and we transported our baggage and meat to the opposite shore in our canoes which we found answered even beyond our expectations." (This camp was on the east bank of the Missouri somewhat below the old White Bear Islands camp and south of the city of Great Falls.) "quetoes extreemly troublesome. the grass and weeds are much more luxouriant then they were when I left this place on the 13th of July 1805.--"
By July 13 he and his nine men were at the Upper Portage Camp above the Great Falls, delighted after months of poor rations to be back in buffalo country. When Lewis's men dug up the cache at the camp they encountered problems with the host of grizzly bears in the vicinity. Hugh McNeal had a very close call with one beast in which he broke his musket over its head.
Lewis and Party: July 16 - 28, 1806: Lewis - Drouillard - J. Fields - R. Fields - Seaman (dog).
Lewis decided to take only his three best men--George Drouillard and Reubin and Joseph Field--on his exploration of the Marias.
Gass and Party Await the Canoe Party from the Three Forks
Gass and Party: July 16 - 28, 1806: Gass - Frazier - Goodrich - McNeal - Thompson - Werner
Sergeant Patrick Gass and the others remained at the Great Falls to await the canoe party from the Three Forks.
Lewis's Party from the Great Falls to Mouth of Yellowstone River
On July 15 Lewis gave orders for an early departure in the morning, "indeed I should have set out instantly but McNeal road one of the horses which I intend to take and has not yet returned. a little before dark McNeal returned with his musquet broken off at the breech (Presumably the U.S. Model 1795 musket, caliber .69.), and informed me that on his arrival at willow run he had approached a white bear within ten feet without discover(ing) him the bear being in the thick brush, the horse took the allarm and turning short threw him immediately under the bear; this animal raised himself on his hinder feet for battle, and gave him time to recover from his fall which he did in an instant and with his clubbed musquet he struck the bear over the head and cut him with the guard of the gun (likely the trigger guard.) and broke off the breech, 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 untill late in the evening before he left him, when McNeal ventured down and caught his horse which had by this time strayed off to the distance of 2 Ms. and returned to camp. these bear are a most tremenduous animal; it seems that the hand of providence has been most wonderfully in our favor with rispect to them, or some of us would long since have fallen a sacrifice to their farosity. there seems to be a sertain fatality attatched to the neighbourhood of these falls, for there is always a chapter of accedents prepared for us during our residence at them. the musquetoes continue to infest us in such manner that we can scarcely exist; for my own npart I am confined by them to my bier at least 3/4th of my time. my dog even howls with the torture he experiences from them, they are almost insupportable, they are so numerous that we frequently get them in our thr(o)ats as we breath.--"
Lewis and Party: July 16 - 28, 1806: Lewis - Drouillard - J. Fields - R. Fields - Seaman (dog).
Gass reports on July 16 the party collected their horses, "of which Capt. Lewis took six and left four to haul the canoes and baggage over the portage; and then started to go up maria's river with only three hunters. We continued here to repair our waggons or truckles to transport the baggage and canoes on when the men with them should arrive.--The musquitoes are still very troublesome"
"When Capt. Lewis left us, he gave orders that we should wait at the mouth of Maria's river to the 1st of Sept. at which time, should he not arrive, we were to proceed on and join Capt. Clarke at the mouth of the Yellow-stone river, and then to return home: but informed us, that should his life and health be preserved he would meet us at the mouth of Maria's river on the 5th of August.
On July 17 Lewis awoke "early this morning and made a drawing of the falls. (No drawing of the falls by Lewis has been located. See June 13, 1805.) after which we took breakfast and departed. it being my design to strike Maria's river about the place at which I left it on my return to it's mouth in the begining of June 1805." "we killed a buffaloe cow as we passed throug the plains and took the hump and tonge which furnish ample rations for four men one day. at 5 P.M. we arrived at rose river (Teton River. For the naming of it, see June 4 & 6, 1805. Lewis camped here, approximately ten miles northwest of Carter, MT.) where I purposed remaining all night as I could not reach maria's river this evening"
The following morning, July 18, the party set out, according to Lewis, "a little before sunrise ascended the river hills and continued our rout as yesterday through the open plains at about 6 miles we reached the top of an elivated plain which divides the waters of the rose river from those of Maria's river. from hence the North mountains, the South mountains, the falls mountains and the Tower Mountain (These are names which the captains had given in 1805. The "North mountains" are the Bears Paw Mountains. The "South mountains" would be either the Highwood or the Judith mountains, however, the latter could not be seen from this location. The "falls mountains" may be either the Little or Big Belt mountains. The "Tower Mountain" is the Sweetgrass Hills. See May 24 & 25, 1805, and June 5, 1806.) and those arround and to the East of the latter were visible. our course led us nearly parrallel with a creek of Maria's river which takes it's rise in these high plains at the place we passed them; at noon we struck this creek about 6 ms. from its junction with Maria's river" (Lewis's Buffalo Creek, now Dugout Coulee, flowing north toward the Marias.) "...here we halted to dine and graize our horses." "...after dinner we proceeded about 5 miles across the plain to Maria's river where we arrived at 6 P.M. we killed a couple of buffaloe in the bottom of this river and encamped on it's west side in a grove of cottonwood some miles above the entrance of the creek." (Lewis camped on Marias River a few miles above the mouth of Dugout Coulee.)
Having completed his observations of the Sun's Meridian Altitude, on July 19, the party set out, "ascended the river hills having passed the river and proceeded through the open plains up the N. side of the river 20 miles and encamped." (The camp was on the Marias.)
On July 20, 1806 the party proceeded on "through the open plain as yesterday up the North side of the river." ... from the apparent decent of the country to the North and above the broken mountains I am induced to beleive that the South branch of the Suskashawan receives a part of it's waters from the plain even to the borders of this river (Lewis was attempting to discover that the Marias would provide the United States with access to the Saskatchewan River. The entire basin of the Milk River lies between the South Saskatchewan and the Missouri system.) and from the brakes visible in the plains in a nothern direction think that a branch of that river decending from the rocky mountains passes at no great distance from Maria's river and to the N. E. of the broken mountains. the day has proved excessively warm and we lay by four hours during the heat of it; we traveled 28 miles and encamped as usual in the river bottom on it's N. side." (Lewis camped on the north side of the Marias River approximately five miles southwest of Shelby, MT and possibly one mile west of Interstate Highway 15.)
According to Lewis on July 21 the party "set out at sunrise and proceeded a short distance up the North side of the river..." "...we continued on the S. side of the river about 3 miles when we again passed over to the N. side and took our course through the plains at some distance from the river." "at 2 P.M. we struck a northern branch of Maria's river" (Cut Bank Creek, the northern fork of Marias River, Two Medicine River being the south fork.) "...being convinced that this stream came from the mountains I determined to pursue it as it will lead me to the most no(r)thern point to which the waters of Maria's river extend which I now fear will not be as far north as I wished and expected. after dinner we set out up the North branch keeping on it's S. side; we pursued it untill dark and not finding any timber halted and made a fire of the dung of the buffaloe. we lay on the south side in a narrow bottom under a Clift. our provision is nearly out, we wounded a buffaloe this evening but could not get him." (Lewis camped on the west side of Cut Bank Creek a mile or so southwest of Cut Bank, MT. )
Lewis, Drouillard and the two Fields brothers set out on July 22 very early as usual and proceeded up the river continuing up the west side of Cut Bank Creek. After a few miles his course turned west, still following the creek. They continued up the river on it's south side for 17 miles when they halted to "graize" the horses and eat. After dinner they "passed the river and took our course through a level and beautifull plain on the N. side." "we found no timber untill we had traveled 12 miles further when we arrived at a clump of large cottonwood trees in a beautifull and extensive bottom of the river about 10 miles below the foot of the rocky mountains where this river enters them; as I could see from hence very distinctly where the river entered the mountains and the bearing of this point being S of West I thought it unnecessary to proceed further and therefore encamped resolving to rest ourselves and horses a couple of days at this place and take the necessary observations." (This was the camp Lewis would name Camp Disappointment, where they would remain until July 26. It was in along the south side of Cut Bank Creek just above the mouth of Cut Bank John Coulee (sometimes referred to by its previous name, Trail Coulee), about twelve miles northeast of Browning. MT and approximately six miles north of U.S. Highway 2.)
On July 26 with the weather cloudy and continuing to rain Lewis "had the horses caught and we set out biding a last adieu to this place which I now call camp disappointment." The party passed Willow Creek, a tributary of Cut Bank Creek and at 2 miles from the mountains, changed direction to S. 75 E. for 7 miles and "struck a principal branch (Two Medicine River.) of Maria's river 65 yds. wide, not very deep, I passed this stream to it's south side and continued down it 2 ms." The party came to Badger Creek where it meets Two Medicine River. Approximately one mile below the mouth of Badger Creek on Two Medicine River. Lewis halted to dine and graze the horses. Lewis writes, "after dinner I continued my rout down the river to the North of East about 3 ms. when the hills putting in close on the S side I determined to ascend them to the high plain which I did accordingly, keeping the Fields with me; Drewyer passed the river and kept down the vally of the river. I had intended to decend this river with it's course to it's junction with the fork which I had ascended and from thence have taken across the country obliquely to rose river and decend that stream to it's confluence with Maria's river." (Lewis intended to follow Two Medicine River to its junction with Cut Bank Creek, then head southeasterly to Teton River and follow that stream down to the junction with the Marias.) Lewis continues, "I had scarcely ascended the hills before I discovered to my left at the distance of a mile an assembleage of about 30 horses, I halted and used my spye glass by the help of which I discovered several indians on the top of an iminence just above them who appeared to be looking down towards the river I presumed at Drewyer. 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 allarmed, their attention had been previously so fixed on Drewyer that they did not discover us untill we had began to advance upon them, some of them decended the hill on which they were and drove their horses within shot of it's summit and again returned to the hight as if to wate our arrival or to defend themselves. I calculated on their number being nearly or quite equal to that of their horses, that our runing would invite pursuit as it would convince them that we were their enimies and our horses were so indifferent that we could not hope to make our escape by flight; added to this Drewyer was seperated from us and I feared that his not being apprized of the indians in the event of our attempting to escape he would most probably fall a sacrefice. under these considerations I still advanced towards them; when we had arrived within a quarter of a mile of them, one of them mounted his horse and rode full speed towards 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 becconed to him to approach but he paid no attention to my overtures. on his return to his party they all decended the hill and mounted their horses and advanced towards us leaving their horses behind them, 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 Minnetares of Fort de Prarie 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 they would attempt to rob us in which case be their numbers what they would I should resist to the last extremity prefering death to that of being deprived of my papers instruments and gun and desired that they would form the same resolution and be allert 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 untill 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 surch of him, this they readily concented to and a young man set out with R. Fields in surch of Drewyer. I now asked them by sighns if they were the Minnetares of the North which they answered in the affermative; (Actually these Indians were Piegans, members of one of the three main divisions of the Blackfeet confederation, the other two being the Bloods and the Blackfeet proper.) I asked if there was any cheif among them and they pointed out 3 I did not believe them however I thought it best to please them and gave to one a medal to a second a flag and to the third a handkercheif, with which they appeared well satisfyed. they appeared much agitated with our first interview from which they had scarcely yet recovered, in fact I beleive they were more allarmed at this accedental interview than we were. from no more of them appearing I now concluded they were only eight in number and became much better satisfyed with our situation as I was convinced that we could mannage 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 deel to say to them. we mounted our horses and rode towards the river which was at but a short distance, on our way we were joined by Drewyer Fields and the indian. we decended 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 and about 250 yards wide in the widest part, (This campsite was along the south side of Two Medicine River about four miles below the mouth of Badger Creek and downstream from Kipps Coulee, about fourteen miles sosuthwest of Cut Bank, MT.) the river washed the bluffs both above and below us and through it's course in this part is very deep; the bluffs are so steep that there are but few places where they could be ascended, and are broken in several places by deep nitches which extend back from the river several hundred yards, there bluffs being so steep that it is impossible to ascend them; in this bottom there stand t(h)ree solitary trees near one of which the indians formed a large semicircular camp of dressed buffaloe skins and invited us to partake of their shelter which Drewyer and myself accepted and the Fieldses lay near the fire in front of the she(l)ter. with the assistance of Drewyer I had much conversation with these people in the course of the evenling. I learned from them that they were a part of a large band which lay incamped at present near the foot of the rocky mountains on the main branch of Maria's river one 1/2 days march from our present encampment; that there was a whiteman with their band; that there was another large band of their nation hunting buffaloe near the broken mountains and were on there way to the mouth of Maria's river where they would probably be in the course of a few days. they also informed us that from hence to the establishment where they trade on the Suskasawan river is only 6 days easy march or such as they usually travel with their women and childred which may be estimated at about 150 ms. (Lewis's estimated distance would take one to the Bow River in Alberta, where there was a North West Company post reportedly abandoned in 1804. However, the company's principal post for the Blackfeet trade was Rocky Mountain House, founded in 1799 on the North Saskatchewan River, near the site of the present Alberta community of the same name, a distance of approximately 240 miles from Lewis's location.) that from these traders they obtain arm amunition sperituous liquor blankets &c in exchange for wolves and some beaver skins. I told these people that I had come a great way from the East up the large river which runs towards 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 neighbours 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 decend that river to the entrance of Maria's river and there wait my arrival and that I had come in surch of them in order to prevail on them to be at peace with their neighbours 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 which they readily gave their assent and declared it to be their wish to be at peace with the Tushepahs whom they said had killed a number of their relations lately and pointed to several of those present who had cut their hair as an evidince of the truth of what they had asserted. I found them extreemly fond of smoking and plyed them with the pipe untill 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 whiteman with them and come down and council with me at the entrance of Maria's river and that the ballance 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 untill they saw me. that if they would go with me I would give them 10 horses and some tobacco. to this proposition they made no reply, I took the first watch tonight and set up untill half after eleven; the indians by this time were all asleep, I roused up R. Fields and laid 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 attampt to s[t]eal our horses. this being done I feel into a profound sleep and did not wake untill the noise of the men and indians awoke me a little after light in the morning.--"
The following morning, July 27, Lewis writes, "This morning at day light the indians got up and crouded around the fire, J. Fields who was on post had carelessly laid his gun down behi[n]d him near where his brother was sleeping, one of the indians the fellow to whom I had given the medal last evening sliped behind him and took his gun and that of his brothers unperceived by him, at the same instant two others advanced and seized the guns of Drewyer and myself. J. Fields se[e]ing this turned about to look for his gun and saw the fellow just runing 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 s[e]ized their guns and rested them from him and R. Fields as he seized his gun stabed the indian to the heart with his knife the fellow ran about 15 steps and fell dead; (This man's name is variously given as He-that-looks-at-the-calf and Sidehill Calf.) of this I did not know untill afterwards, having recovered their guns they ran back instantly to the camp; Drewyer who was awake saw the indian take hold of his gun and instantly jumped up and s[e]ized her and rested 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 drewyer in a scuffle with the indian for his gun I reached to seize my gun but found her gone, I then drew a pistol from my holster and terning 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 forbid as he did not appear to be about to make any resistance or commit any offensive act, he droped the gun and walked slowly off, I picked her up instantly, Drewyer having about this time recovered his gun and pouch asked me if he might not kill the fellow which I also forbid 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 indeavored to drive off all the horses I now hollowed 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 dr(i)ving 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 nitches 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 arround and stoped at the distance of 30 steps from me and I shot him through the belly, (There is some conflict as to whether this man died of his wounds.) he fell to his knees and on his wright elbow from which position he partly raised himself up and fired at me, and turning himself about crawled in behind a rock which was a few feet from him. he overshot me, being bearheaded I felt the wind of his bullet very distinctly. (It is generally believed the Piegan carried a North West trade musket, much less accurate than Lewis's rifle.) not having my shotpouch I could not reload my peice 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 untill I reached camp; I therefore returned leasurely towards camp, on my way I met with Drewyer who having heared the report of the guns had returned in surch of me and left the Fieldes to pursue the indians, I desired him to haisten to the camp with me and assist in catching as many of the indian horses as were necessary and to call to the Fieldes 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 50 yards to camp after geting 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 began 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 indian's; while the men were preparing the horses I put four sheilds 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 2 guns and one of them they left the others were armed with bows and arrows and eyedaggs. (A type of dagger or stabbing knife with a hole or eye in the handle for inserting a loop; See April 15, 1806.) the gun we took with us. I also retook the flagg but left the medal about the neck of the dead man that they might be informed who we were. we took some of their buffaloe meat and set out ascending the bluffs by the same rout we had decended last evening leaving the ballance of nine of their horses which we did not want. the Feildses 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 nitch only 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 beatiful 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 they would pursue us with a large party and as there was a band near the broken mountians or probably betwen them and the mouth of that river we might expect them to receive inteligence from us and arrive at that place nearly as soon as we could, no time was therefore to be lost and we pushed our horses as hard as they would bear. at 8 miles we passed a large branch 40 yds wide which I called battle river. (Birch Creek, a tributary of Two Medicine River.) at 3 P.M. we arrived at rose river about 5 miles above where we had passed it as we went out, having traveled by my estimate compared with our former distances and cou(r)ses about 63 ms. (Moving southeasterly from the site of the confrontation, Lewis's party passed near Conrad, MT and reached the Teton (Rose) River.) here we halted an hour and a half took some refreshment and suffered our horses to graize; the day proved warm but the late rains had supplyed the little reservors in the plains with water and had put them in fine order for traveling, our whole rout so far was as level as a bowling green with but little stone and few pricly pears. after dinner we pursued the bottoms of rose river but finding inconvenient to pass the river so often we again ascended the hills on the S.W. side and took the open plains; by dark we had traveled about 17 miles further, we now halted to rest ourselves and horses about 2 hours, we killed a buffaloe cow and took a small quantity of the meat. after refreshing ourselves we again set out by moonlight and traveled leasurely, heavy thunderclouds lowered arround us on every quarter but that from which the moon gave us light. we continued to pass immence herds of buffaloe all night as we had done in the latter part of the day. we traveled untill 2 OCk in the morning having come by my estimate after dark about 20 ms. we now turned out our horses and laid ourselves down to rest in the plain very much fatiegued 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 robery." This was the first and only instance of actual armed violence between the explorers and Indians in the whole expedition.
The morning of July 28 proved fair, Lewis slept sound but fortunately awoke as day appeared. He awoke the men and directed the horses to be saddled. In his journal for this day Lewis says, "I was so soar 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 travellers depended on our exertions at this moment; they were allert soon prepared the horses and we again resumed our march..." "I told that we owed much to the safety of our friends and that we must wrisk our lives on this occasion, that I should proceed immediately to the point and if the party had not arrived that I would raft the missouri a small distance above, hide our baggage and march on foot up the river through the timber untill I met the canoes or joined them at the falls; I now told them that 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 heared 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 five miles of the grog spring we heared the report of several rifles very distinctly on the river to our right, we quickly repared to this joyfull sound and on arriving at the bank of the river had the unspeakable satisfaction to see our canoes coming down. (This was the party consisting of Sergeant Gass, Werner, Frazier, Thompson, McNeal, and Goodrich whom Lewis had left at the great falls on July 16, 1806. They were to recover their cached goods and portage around the falls. On July 19 Sergeant Ordway had joined them at the White Bear Island camp, having decended down with canoes from the Three Forks where he had separated from Clark on July 13. Ordway's party was made up of Collins, Colter, Cruzatte, Howard, LePage, Potts, Weiser, Whitehouse, and Willard.) we hurried down from the bluff on which we were and joined them striped our horses and gave them a final discharge imbarking without loss of time with our baggage. I now learned that they had brought all things safe having sustaned 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. (According to Ordway, this took place on July 23 during their portage around the falls.) we decended the river opposite to our principal cash (This cache between the Marias and the Missouri, was about one mile upriver from their camp of June 3-12, 1805. See Clark's entry of June 10, 1805.) which we proceeded to open after reconnoitering the adjacent country. we found that the cash had caved in and most of the articles burried therin 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 poark 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 droped down to the point to take in the several articles which had been buried at that place in several small cashes; (Located at the camp of June 3-12, 1805, at the mouth of the Marias.) these we found in good order, and recovered every article except 3 traps belonging to Drewyer which could not be found. here as good fortune would have it Sergt. 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 had directed them to kill and dry here for our voyage, presuming that they would have arrived with the perogue 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 perogue, but found her so much decayed that it was impossible with the means we had to repare her and therefore mearly took the nails and other ironworks about her which might be of service to us and left her. we now reimbarked on board the white perog(u)e and five small canoes and decended the river about 15 ms. and encamped on the S.W. side near a few cottonwood trees (On the south bank of the Missouri below the mouth of Crow Coulee.), one of them being of the narrow leafed speceis and was the first of that kind which we had remarked on our passage up the river. we encamped late but having little meat I sent out a couple of hunters who soon returned with a sufficient quantity of the flesh of a fat cow. there are immence quantities of buffaloe and Elk about the junction of the Missour and Maria's river.-- during the time we halted at the entrance of Maria's river we experienced a very heavy shower of rain and hail attended with violent thunder and lightning."
At 11 A.M., July 29, "we passed that very interesting part of the Missouri where the natural walls appear, particularly discribed in my outward bound journey. (The Stone Walls and White Cliffs of the Missouri. See May 31, 1805.) we continued our rout untill late in the evening and encamped on the N.E. side of the river at the same place we had encamped on the 29th of May 1805." (Lewis's camp was on the north side of the Missouri about a mile above the mouth of Arrow Creek (Lewis and Clark's Slaughter River).)
On July 30 Lewis writes, "we arrived this evening at an island about 2 ms. above Goodriches Island and encamped on it's N. E. side. (The map places Lewis's campsite on Goodrich's Island, below the campsite of May 25, 1805. Ordway and Gass say the camp was on the island. Lewis's entry places the site on the upriver side of the sharp bend above Goodrich's Island. The location is below Cow Creek and Cow Island Crossing.) the rain continued with but little intermission all day; the air is cold and extreemly disagreeable. nothing extraordinary happened today"
John Ordway reports on July 31, "came a long days roeing and Camped (Eight miles below the mouth of Rock Creek.) at some old Indn. lodges on N. Side.-- This same day Patrick Gass writes, "Though the afternoon was wet and disagreeable, we came 70 miles to day."
August 1, 1806 Lewis reports, "The rain still continueing I set out early as usual and proceeded on at a good rate. at 9 A.M. we saw a large brown bear swiming from an island to the main shore we pursued him and as he landed Drewyer and myself shot and killed him; we took him on board the perogue and continued our rout. at 11 A.M. we passed the entrance of Mussel Shell river. (Musselshell River; See May 20, 1805.) at 1 in the evening we arrived at a bottom on S.W. side where there were several spacious Indian lodges built of sticks and an excellent landing. as the rain still continued with but little intermission and appearances seemed unfavorable to it's becomeing fair shortly, I determined to halt at this place at least for this evening and indeavour to dry my skins of the bighorn which had every appearance of spoiling, an event which I would not should happen on any consideration as we have now passed the country in which they are found and I therefore could not supply the deficiency were I to loose these I have. I halted at this place being about 15 ms. below Missel shell river (This camp was two or three miles below the camp of May 19, 1805, just above what was later called horseshoe Point. The area is now beneath Fort Peck Reservoir. They remained here until August 3.), had fires built in the lodges and my skins exposed to dry. shortly after we landed the rain ceased tho' it still continued cloudy all this evening. a white bear came within 50 paces of our camp before we perceived it; it stood erect on it's hinder feet and looked at us with much apparent unconsern, we seized our guns which are always by us and several of us fired at it and killed it."
On August 2 Lewis says, "we are all extreemly anxious to reach the entrance of the Yellowstone river where we expect to join Capt. Clark and party."
Lewis's Party from the Yellowstone River to Union with Clark
Lewis had the perogue and canoes loaded early the morning of August 3 and "set out at half after 6 A.M. we soon passed the canoe of Colter 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..." "we encamped this evening on the N.E. side of the river 2 ms. above our encampment of the 12th of May 1805. (On the north side of the Missouri River below the mouth of Cattle Creek. This campsite is beneath Fort Peck Reservoir.) soon after we encamp Drewyer killed a fat doe. the Fieldses arrived at dark with the flesh of two fine bucks, besides which they had killed two does since we passed them making in all 29 deer since yesterday morning. Collins and Colter did not overtake us this evening." Gass reports, "At sunset we encamped having gone 73 miles."
The party set out at 4 A.M. on August 4. Lewis "permited Willard and Sergt. Ordway to exchange with the Feildses and take their small canoe to hunt today. at 1/2 after eleven O'Ck. passed the entrance of big dry river; (today's Big Dry Creek.) found the water in this river about 60 yds. wide tho' shallow. it runs with a boald even currant. at 3 P.M. we arrived at the entrance of Milk river (The junction of Milk River and the Missouri River. See May 8, 1805.) where we halted a few minutes. this stream is full at present and it's water is much the colour of that of the Missouri; it affords as much water at present as Maria's river and I have no doubt extends itself to a considerable distance North. during our halt we killed a very large rattlesnake of the speceis common to our country. (Possibly the Prairie Rattlesnake, Crotalus viridus viridus.) it had 176 scuta on the abdomen and 25 on the tail, it's length 5 feet. the scutae on the tail fully formed..." "we encamped this evening two miles below the gulph on the N.E. side of the river." (Approximately two miles above the camp of May 7, 1805.) "Colter and Collins have not yet overtaken us."
Ordway reports for this day that he and Alexander Willard "went on eairly with a Small canoe to hunt we procd. on Some distance and hunted in Some of the bottoms and killed a deer and procd. on towards evening we killed a large white or grizzly bear nearly of a Silver Grey. we then procd. on in the evening by moon light as the party was a head about 11 oClock at night we found ourselves in a thick place of Sawyers (Submerged trees with one end stuck in the mud, the other bobbing up and down in the current with a sawing motion.) as the corrent drawed us in and we had no chance to git out of them So we run about half way through and the Stern run under a limb of a tree and caught willard who was in the Stern and drew him out as the current was verry rapid. he held by the limb I being in the bow of the canoe took my oar and halled the bow first one way and the other So as to clear the Sawyers and run through Safe and paddled the canoe to Shore and ran up the Shore opposite willard & he called to me if everry thing was Safe I told him yes but he could not hear me as the water roared past the Sawyers. he told me he had made a little raft of 2 Small Sticks he caught floating and tyed them together, and tyed his cloathes on them and would Swim down through this difficult place and I run down and took out the canoe and took him in as he Swam through Safe we procd. a Short distance farther and came to the Camp of the party..." "the two hunters Colter & Colling has not joined us yet.--"
Colter and Collins not having arrived by August 5 induced Lewis "to remain this morning for them. the hunters killed four deer this morning near our encampment. I remained untill noon when I again reimbarked and set out conluding that as Colter and Collins had not arrived by that time that they had passed us after dark the night of the 3rd inst. as Sergt Ordway informed me he should have done last evening had not the centinel hailed him. we continued our rout untill late in the evening when I came too and encamped on the South side about 10 miles below little dry river."(Prairie Elk Creek; See May 6, 1805. The campsite was approximately four miles southwest of Wolf Point, MT.) Ordway reports, "a fair morning. we delayed here for Colter and Collins the 2 Fields Sent on a head to hunt. we waited untill 12 oClock and as we are not certain but what Colter and Collins is a head So we Set out and procd. on"
The party set out early the morning of August 6 and decended the river about 10 miles below Poplar River, Porcupine River to Lewis. (See May 3, 1805.) The wind became so violent that they laid by until 4 P.M. According to Lewis, "the wind then abaiting in some measure we again resumed our voyage, and decended the river about 5 miles below our encampment of the 1st of May 1805 where we halted for the night on the S.W. side of the river. (Lewis camped approximately ten miles east of Poplar, MT.) after halting we killed three fat cows and a few buck. we had previously killed today 4 deer a buck Elk and a fat cow. in short game is so abundant and gentle that we kill it when we please. the Feildses went on ahead this evening and we did not overtake them. we saw several bear in the course of the day.--" Ordway reports, "a fair morning. we loaded up our canoes and Set out as usal and proced. on about 10 A. M. passd. the mo. of 2000 mile Creek. (Redwater River, MT.) the wind rose high So halted.
Except for a single canoe party of Colter and Collins the expedition camped for the last time, August 6, 1806, in what is now Montana near today's town of Poplar. (Lewis: August 6, 1806; Clark: August 1, 1806.)
The next morning, August 7, the air was cold and "extreemly unpleasant." The party was resolved, if possible, to reach the Yellowstone River this day which was at a distance of 83 miles from their encampment of the previous evening. The current favored their progress. Lewis reported it being, "more rapid than yesterday, the men plyed their oars faithfully and we went a good rate. at 8 A.M. we passed the entrance of the Marthy's river (Big Muddy Creek; See April 29, 1805.) which has changed it's entrance since we passed it last year, fallling in at preasent about a quarter of a mile lower down." "at 4 P.M. we arrived at the entrance of the Yellowstone river. (Lewis's party is now in North Dakota, where the Yellowstone enters the Missouri. Clark left his note to Lewis on August 4, 1806.) I landed at the point and found that Capt. 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 mearly contained my name in the hand wrighting of Capt. C. we also found the remnant of a note which had been attatched to a peace of Elk's horns in the camp; from this fragment I learned that game was scarce at the point and musquetoes troublesome which were the reasons given for his going on; I also learnt that he intended halting a few miles below where he intended waiting my arrival. I now wrote a note directed to Colter and Collins provided they were behind, ordering them to come on without loss of time; this note I wraped in leather and attatced onto the same pole which Capt. C. had planted at the point; this being done I instantly reimbarked and decended the river in the hope of reaching Capt. C's camp before night. about 7 miles below the point on the S.W. shore I saw some meat that hade been lately fleased and hung on a pole; I directed Sergt. Ordway to go on shore examine the place; on his return he reported that he saw the tracks of two men which appeared so resent that he beleived they had been there today, the fire he found at the place was blaizing 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 Chinnook hat which my men recognized as the hat of Gibson; (The captains had purchased a number of hats made of cedar bark from Clatsop women on February 22, 1806.) from these circumstances we included that Capt. C's camp could not be distant and pursued our rout untill dark with the hope of reaching his camp in this however we were disappointed and night coming on compelled us to encamp on the N.E. shore in the next bottom above our encampment of the 23rd and 24th of April 1805. (This campsite was a few miles south of Trenton, ND.) as we came too a herd of buffaloe assembled on the shore of which we killed a fat cow.--"
Patrick Gass says, "about 4 o'clock arrived at the mouth of the Yellow Stone river. We found that Captain Clarke had been encamped on the point some time ago, and had left it. We discovered nothing to inform us where he was gone, except a few words written or traced in the sand, which were "W.C. a few miles farther down on the right-hand side."
Lewis writes in his journal for August 8, "Beleiving from the recent appearances about the fire which we past last evening that Capt Clark could be at no great distance below I set out early; the Wind heard from the N. E. but by the force of the oars and currant we traveled at a good rate untill 10 A.M. by which time we reached the center of the beaver bends about 8 ms. by water and 3 by land above the entrance of White earth river. ("White earth river" is Little Muddy River above Williston, ND. See April 21, 1805.) not finding Capt. Clark I knew not what calculation to make with rispect to his halting and therefore determined to proceed as tho' he was not before me and leave the rest to the chapter of accedents. at this place I found a good beach for the purpose of drawing out the perogue and one of the canoes which wanted corking and reparing. the men with me have not had leasure since we left the West side of the Rocky mountains to dress any skins or make themselves cloaths and most of them are therefore extreemly bare. I therefore determined to halt at this place untill the perogue and canoe could be repared and the men dress skins and make themselves the necessary cloathing. we encamped on the N. E. side of the river (Several miles southwest of Williston, ND.); we found the Musquetoes extreemly troublesome"
As of August 9 no information had been obtained with respect to the disposition of Colter and Collins since their departure from the party on August 3. Lewis notes, "I fear some missfortune has happened them for their previous fidelity and orderly deportment induces me to beleive that they would not thus intentionally delay. the Perogue is not yet sufficiently dry for reparing. we have no pitch and will therefore be compelled to use coal and tallow."
On August 10 Lewis writes, "the musquetoes more than usually troublesome this evening." Ordway concurs, "and the musquetoes verry troublesome indeed. we could not all this night git a moment quiet rest for them.--"
The Shooting of Meriwether Lewis (August 11, 1806)
We set out very early this morning. it being my wish to arrive at the birnt hills (The Crow Hills which they had passed on April 17, 1805.) by noon in order to take the latitude of that place as it is the most northern point of the Missouri, enformed 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 plyed their oars faithfully and we proceeded rapidly" "...half after 11 A.M. we saw a large herd of Elk on the N.E. shore and I directed the men in the small canoes to halt and kill some of them and continued on in the perogue to the birnt hills; when I arrived here it was about 20 minutes after noon and of course the observation for the sun's meridian Altitude was lost; just opposite to the birnt 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 too and I went out with Cruzatte only. (This area is beneath Garrison Reservoir.) we fired on the Elk I killed one and he wounded another, we reloaded our guns and took different routs 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 thye about an inch below my hip joint, missing the bone it passed through the left thye and cut the thickness of the bullet across the hinder part of the right thye; the stroke was very severe; I instantly supposed that Cruzatte 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 towards the place from whence the ball had come, seeing nothing I called Cruzatte several times as loud as I could but received no answer; I was now preswaded 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 Cruzatte 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 best to make good my retreat to the perogue, calling out as I ran for the first hundred paces as loud as I could to Cruzatte to retreat that there were indians hoping to allarm 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 perogue 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 beleived and directed them to follow me that I would return & give them battle and releive Cruzatte 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 painfull and my thye 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 perogue as well as I could and prepared my self with a pistol my rifle and air-gun being determined as a retreat was impracticable to sell my life as deerly as possible. in this state of anxiety and suspense I remained about 20 minutes when the party returned with Cruzatte and reported that there were no indians nor the appearance of any; Cruzatte seemed much allarmed 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 seperated 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 beleive that the fellow did it intentionally but after finding that he had shot me was anxious to conceal his knowledge of having done so. (Both Ordway and Gass seem to believe Cruzatte was ignorant of having shot Lewis.) 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 Sergt. Gass I took off my cloaths and dressed my wounds myself as well as I could, introducing tents of patent lint into the ball holes (As noted on May 5, 1805, the tents were rolls of lint used to keep the wound open to allow new tissue to grow from the inside out and promote drainage.), the woulds blead considerably but I was hapy to find that it had touched neither bone nor artery. I sent the men to dress the two Elk which Cruzatte and myself had killed which they did in a few minutes and brought the meat to the river. the small canoes came up shortly after with the flesh of one Elk. my wounds being so situated that I could lnot without infinite pain make an observation I determined to relinquish it and proceeded on. we came within eight miles of our encampment of the 15th of April 1805 and encamped on N.E. side. (Lewis camped a little above the mouth of White Earth River. The site is now beneath Garrison Reservoir.) as it was painfull to me to be removed I slept on board the perogue; the pain I experienced excited a high fever and I had a very uncomfortable night. at 4 P.M. we passed an encampment which had been evacuated this morning by Capt. Clark, here I found a note from Capt. C. informing me that he had left a letter for me at the entrance of the Yelow stone river, but that Sergt. Pryor who had passed that place since he left it had taken the letter; that Sergt. Pryor having been robed of all his horses had decended the Yelowstone river in skin canoes and had over taken him at this encampment. this I fear puts an end to our prospects of obtaining the Sioux Cheifs to accompany us as we have not now leasure to send and engage Mr. Heney on this service, or at least he wouuld not have time to engage them to go as early as it is absolutely necessary we should decend the river."
Lewis writes on August 12, 1806, "Being anxious to overtake Capt. 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 s.M. the bowsman informed me that there was a canoe and a camp he beleived of whitemen on the N.E. shore. I directed the perogue and canoes to come too at this place and found it to be the camp of two hunters from the Illinois by name Joseph Dickson and Forest Hancock. (Gary E. Moulton: Joseph Dickson, or Dixon, having lived in Pennsylvania and Tennessee, settled in Cahokia, Illinois, with his wife and children in 1802; he spent much of his time hunting and traping in Missouri, where he met Forrest Hancock, who had come to Boone's Settlement in 1799. The two started up the Missouri in August 1804; they may have spent the following winter in the vicinity of Sioux City, IA. The next year they worked with the trader Charles Courtin, wintering in Teton Sioux country. Their meeting with Clark on this day was the expedition party's first direct contact with the European world since April 1805. John Colter, who may have known Dickson before, persuaded the captains to let him join the two in a trapping venture to the Yellowstone, in what has become known as the "Fourth Expedition" to the region, those of Charles LeRaye (which is highly questionable), Francois Antoine Larocque, and Clark being the first three. How far up the Yellowstone they traveled is not known, but the party broke up over some dispute and Colter and Hancock returned to the Mandan villages. Dickson spent the winter of 1806-1807 alone on the Yellowstone, enduring great hardship. On his journey down river in the spring, he barely escaped the hostility of the Arikaras. Thereafter he remained in Illinois and became a highly respectable citizen, having "got religion" as a result of his suffering in the Rockies.) these men informed me that Capt. C. had passed them about noon the day before. they also informed me that they had left the Illinois in the summer 1804 since which time they had been ascended the Missouri, hunting and traping beaver; that they had been robed by the indians and the former wounded last winter by the Tetons of the birnt woods; (The Brule, or Bois Brule, Sioux; See September 24, 1804.) that they had hitherto been unsuccessfull in their voyage having as yet caught but little beaver, but were still determined to proceed. I gave them a short discription 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. <at one OCK in the > while I halted with these men Colter and Collins who seperated from us on the 3rd i(n)st rejoined us. they were well no accedent having happened. they informed me that after proceeding the first day and not overtaking us that they had concluded that we were behind and had delayed several days in waiting for us and had thus been unable to join us untill the present momet. my wounds felt very stiff and soar this morning but gave me no considerable pain. there was much less inflamation then I had reason to apprehend there would be. I had last eveing applyed a poltice of peruvian barks. (Peruvian Bark, or cinchoma, was a general remedy for fevers.) at 1 P.M. I overtook Capt. Clark and party and had the pleasure of finding them all well. as wrighting in my present situation is extreemly painfull to me I shall desist untill I recover and leave to my fri(e)nd Capt. C. the continuation of our journal."
Clark's Party from Traveler's Rest to Camp Fortunate
Clark and Party: July 3 - 13, 1806: Clark - Ordway - Pryor - Bratton - Charbonneau - Collins - Colter - Cruzatte - Gibson - Hall - Howard - Labische - Lepage - Potts - Shannon - Shields - Whitehouse - Willard - Windsor - Wieser - York - Sacagawea - Baptiste - About 50 horses
At Travelers Rest on July 3, 1806, as Lewis's 10-man contingent headed north to today's Clark Fork, Clark's larger party of 23 people, plus 49 horses and a colt, set out south toward the Beaverhead country, where canoes and baggage had been cached in August 1805.
With the division of the expedition at Travelers Rest, the four journalists whose diaries are known to exist for this period were evenly split between the two parties. Sergeant patrick Gass would go with Meriwether Lewis as far as the Great Falls, whereas Sergeant Nathaniel Ordway went with William Clark to the Beaverhead country and the Three Forks. (Private Joseph Whitehouse's known journal entries had abruptly ended on April 2, 1806, at the Willamette River.)
After separating on July 3, the two contingents would not reunite until 40 days later on the Missouri River, August 12, 1806.
Clark initially retraced the Corp's 1805 route in the Bitterroot Valley, before taking a shortcut that had been described to him by the mountain tribes. This new route proceeded to Gibbons Pass, continued through the Big Hole valley, crossed Big Hole Pass to Grasshopper Creek, and entered "Shoshone Cove" (today's Horse Prairie) near the "Camp Fortunate" caches. This new alternate route bypassed the longer and more difficult trail followed in the Lemhi country during the late summer, 1805.
The Big Hole, a great natural opening in the Rocky Mountains, is cresent shaped--approximately 45 to 50 miles in lenth, and about 4 to 25 miles wide. Many small streams draining from the high, snow-bound mountains surrounding the Big Hole form the Big Hole River, named the "Wisdom River" by Lewis and Clark.
The continental divide follows the crest of the Beaverhead Mountains on the west side of the valley. The Pioneer Mountains border the east side, leaving a break for the exit of the Big Hole River eastward to the Beaverhead. Numerous mountain passes lead to and from the valley, including two located approximately 25 miles apart, both called Big Hole Pass.
During the 1877 Nez Perce War, a hard-fought battle occurred at the north end of the valley between U.S. troops and Nez Perces (Big Hole National Battlefield).
Clark summed up the July 5-8, 1806, journey through the Big Hole country in his usual straight-forward style:
"The road which we have traveled from travelers rest Creek to this place (this place is the head of Jeffer river where we left our canoes) [is] an excellent road. . .[This] road and with only a few trees being cut out of the way would be an excellent waggon road one Mountain of about 4 miles over excepted which would require a little digging The distance is 164 Miles."
The captain obviously was pleased with this better route. It is clear, too, that Clark well understood the geopraphy of the many interrelated watersheds and mountain ridges in this region.
5. Clark and Party: July 3 - 13, 1806: Clark - Ordway - Pryor - Bratton - Charbonneau - Collins - Colter - Cruzatte - Gibson - Hall - Howard - Labische - Lepage - Potts - Shannon - Shields - Whitehouse - Willard - Windsor - Wieser - York - Sacagawea - Baptiste - 49 horses, 1 colt.
6. Ordway and Party: July 13 - 19, 1806: Ordway - Collins - Colter - Cruzatte - Howard - LePage - Potts - Whitehouse - Willard - Wieser
Yellowstone River, Montana
A main objective for the Corps of Discovery during the return from the Pacific Ocean in 1806 was the exploration of the Yellowstone River. At the Mandan villages during the winter of 1804-05, the Indians had told Lewis and Clark about this great river, drawing a map on a hide showing its significant tributaries. Later, when Clark descended the Yellowstone in 1806, the rather crude map would cause some confusion--sometimes he found it difficult to link the Indian names to the correct tributaries.
After Clark's contingent crossed the Big Hole cutoff to open the "Camp Fortunate" caches and retrieve the canoes, they had set out on July 10, 1806, moving quickly down the Beaverhead River toward the Jefferson and the Three Forks. Sergent Pryor and 6 men guided the horse herd, while Clark and the remaining 15 people proceeded in 6 canoes. Finding the river contingeant outdistancing the horses, Clark put more of the horse baggage into the canoes.
Reaching the Three Forks on July 13, the party stopped to dine and make final preparations to divide into a canoe party under Sergeant Ordway and an overland party led by Clark. Checking the divsion of baggage one last time, they said their farewells.
Ordway's group of 10 Men in the 6 canoes set out down the Missouri to join Lewis's men at the Great Falls to assist in uncovering caches and portage canoes and euipment around the rapids.
7. Ordway and Party, Missouri Contingent: July 19 - 28, 1806: Ordway - Collins - Colter - Cruzatte - Howard - LePage - Potts - Whitehouse - Willard - Wieser - 6 canoes (1 broken up for firewood.).
Clark's party, totaling 13 people plus 49 horses and a cold, turned eastward, following Indian and buffalo paths in the stream-braided plains of the Gallatin watershed, an area Sacagawea knew well. After crossing the mountains and Bozeman Pass, the party reached the yellowstone River at Modern-day Livingston, Montana.
From here, Clark's party would proceed down the Yellowstone to its mouth, exploring the greater part of the river's overall length. Eventually, their travel by horseback was supplanted by watercraft (the Clark party's entire horse herd, too, soon was stolen by Plains warriors.)
Clark's Yellowstone travers notes are not as precisely done as on the outbound trip. An added complication is the fact that Clark began recording "water" distances, in addition to the usual land distances. Clark only occasionally had done this before. These land and water estimates can vary considerably.
8. Clark and Party, Yellowstone Contingent: July 13 - 24, 1806: Clark - Pryor - Bratton - Charbonneau - Gibson - Hall - Labische - Shannon - Shields - Windsor - York - Sacagawea - Baptiste - 49 horses - 1 colt
9. Clark and Party July 24 - August 8, 1806: Clark - Bratton - Charbonneau - Gibson - Labische - Shields - York - Sacagawea - Babtiste
10. Pryor and Party: July 24 - August 8, 1806: Pryor - Shannon - Winsor - Hall. This group was dispatched by Clark to the Mandan Village but returned with a failed mission due to losing their horses. The journals document 2 occasions when there was a division in the parties. In both instances, Serg. Pryor was in charge of the detachments (See July 8, 1806.)
11. Clark and Party: August 8 - 12, 1806: Clark - Pryor - Bratton - Charbonneau - Gibson - Hall - Labische - Shannon - Shields - Windsor - York - Sacagawea - Baptiste
On July 3, 1806 Clark and his party collected their horses and after "brackfast" to their leave of Captain Lewis and the Indians and at 8 A.M. set out "with (blank) men interpreter Shabono & his wife & child (as an interpreter & interpretess for the Crow Inds (The Crow language is similar to that of the Hidatsas, with which Charbonneau and Sacagawea were familiar.) and the latter for the Shoshoni) with 50 horses. we proceeded on through the Vally of Clarks river (Clark's party traveled south up the Bitterroot River. The streams where they halted at noon may have been Kootenai Creek, Mormon, Carlton, One Horse, Sweeney, and Bass creeks.) on the West Side of the (river) nearly South 18 (13?) Miles and halted on ther upper Side of a large Creek, haveing Crossed 8 Streams 4 of which were Small. this vally is from 10 to 15 Ms. in width tolerably leavel and partially timberd with long leaf & pitch pine" "...after letting our horses graze a Sufficient length of time to fill themselves, and taking dinner of Venison we again resumed our journey up the Vally which we Crossed 10 Streams 8 of which were large Creeks (Including Big, Sweathouse, Bear, and Fred Burr creeks.) which comes roleing their Currents with Velocity into the river. those Creeks take their rise in the mountains to the West (The Bitterroot Range.) which mountains is at this time Covered with Snow for about 1/5 of the way from their tops downwards. Some Snow is also to be Seen on the hight points and hollows of the Mountains to the East of us. (The Sapphire Mountains.) our Course this evening was nearly South 18 Ms. makeing a total of 36 miles today. we encamped on the N. Side of a large Creek" (Blodgett Creek approximately 3 miles north of Hamilton, MT.) "Musquetors very troublesom.-- one man Jo: Potts very unwell this evening owing to rideing a hard trotting horse; I give him a pill of Opiom which soon releve him."
Ordway reports, "in the evening we Camped at a bottom having made 35 miles in 10 hours this day. one of the hunters killed a deer this evening."
The following day July 4 Clark is moving south on the west side of the Bitterroot River. Among the streams crossed would be Blodgett, Canyon, Sawtooth, Roaring Lion, and Lost Horse creeks. Clark observed in the road tracks of two men "whome I prosume is of the Shoshone nation." Two hunters he had sent out returned with 2 deer "in tolerable order." Clark continues, "This being the day of the decleration of Independence of the United States and a Day commonly Scelebrated by my Country I had every disposition to Selebrate this day and therefore halted early and partook of a Sumptious Dinner of a fat Saddle of Venison and Mush of Cows (roots) after Dinner we proceeded on about one mile to a very large Creek (Possibly Rock Creek.) which we assended Some distance to find a foard to cross in crossing this creek Several articles got wet, the water was So Strong, alth' the debth was not much above the horses belly, the water passed over the backs and loads of the horses. those Creeks are emensely rapid has great decnt the bottoms of the Creek as well as the low lands on each Side is thickly covered with large Stone. after passing this Creek I inclined to the left and fell into the road on which we had passed down last fall near the place we had dined on the 7th of Sept. and continued on the road passing up on the W. Side of Clark's river 13 miles to the West fork of Sd. river and Encamped on an arm of the same" (Clark camped on the north side of the West Fork Bitterroot River near its junction with the Bitterroot River. It is approximately five miles northwest of the camp of September 6, 1805.) "we made 30 Ms. to day on a course nearly South Vally from 8 to 10 mes. wide. contains a good portion of Pitch pine. we passed three large deep rapid Creeks this after noon" (Probably Rock, Tin Cup, and Chaffin creeks.)
Clark rose early the morning of July 5 and dispatched Labische after a buck which he had killed late the previous evening. He with three men set out in search of a ford "across the West fork of Clarks river, and examined each ford neither of them I thought would answer to pass the fork without wetting all the loads. near one of those places pointed out by Colter I found a practiable foard and returned to Camp, ordered everything packed up and after Brackfast we Set out passed 5 Chanels of the river which is divided by Small Islands in passing the 6th & last Chanel Colter horse Swam and with Some dificuelty he made the Opposite Shore, Shannon took a different derection from Colter rained his horse up the Stream and passed over very well I derected all to follow Shannon and pass quartering up the river which they done and passed over tolerably well the water running over the back of the 2 Smaller horses only. unfortunately my trunk & portmantue Containing Sea otter Skins flags Some curiosities & necessary articles in them got wet, also an esortment of Medicine, and my roots. about 1 mile we struk the East fork which had fallen and was not higher than when we passed it last fall" "...at one mile we crossed the river at a very good foard and continued up on the East Side to the foot of the Mountain nearly opposite flour Crek (Clark crossed from the north to the south side of the West Fork Bitterroot River then crossed the East Fork to its east side and continued Southeasterly along that stream. Flour Creek (Biddle's "Flower creek".) is shown on Clark's map as "Flour Camp Creek" flowing into the East Fork on the west side below the camp of September 6, 1805; it is currently known as Warm Springs Creek.) & halted to let our horses graze and dry our wet articles. I saw fresh Sign of 2 horses and a fire burning on the side of the road. I prosume that those indians are spies from the Shoshones, Shannon & Crusat killed each a deer this morning and J. Shields killed a female Ibex or bighorn on the side of the Mountain, this Animal was very meager. Shannon left his tomahawk at the place he killed his deer. I derect him to return for it and join me in the Vally on the East Side of this mountain. gave Shields permission to proceed on over to the 1st Vally and there hunt untill my arival this evening at that place, after drying every article which detained us untill 1/2 past 4 P.M. we packed up and Crossed the Mountain into the vally where we first met with the flatheads (Ross's Hole near Sula, MT where the party met the Flatheads (Salish) on September 4, 1805.) here I overtook Shields he had not killed any thing. I crossed the river which heads in a high peecked mountain Covered with Snow N.E. of the Vally at about 20 Miles. (East Fork Bitterroot River heads near West Pintlar Peak which is the Continental Divide.) Shields informed me that the Flat head indians passed up the Small Creek which we came down last fall about 2 miles above our Encampment of the 4th & 5th of Septr. I proceeded up this South branch 2 Miles and encamped on the E. side of the Creek (Clark's camp was on Camp Creek, near Camp Creek Ranger Station and U.S. Highway 93 approximately two miles southeast of the party's camp of September 4-5, 1805.), and Sent out several men to examine the road. Shields returned at dark and informed me that the best road turned up the hill from the creek 3 Miles higher up, and appeared to be a plain beaten parth. (Gary E. Moulton speculates that this is "apparently the road which Clark pursued to Camp Fortunate, diverging from the old westbound route".) as this rout of the Oat lash shoots can be followed it will evidently shorten our rout at least 2 days and as the indians informed me last fall a much better rout than the one we came out. at all events I am deturmined to make the attempt and follow their trail of possible if I can prosue it my rout will be nearer and much better than the one we Came from the Shoshones, & if I should not be able to follow their road; our rout can't possibly be much wors. The hunters killed two deer this evening. The after part of the day we only come 8 miles makeing a total of 20 Miles--. Shannon Came up about Sunset haveing found his tomahawk."
On July 6 due to the horses being scattered the party was detained until 9 A.M. "at which time we Set out and proceeded up the Creek on which we camped 3 Miles (Camp Creek, parallel to U.S. Highway 93.) and left the road which we came on last fall to our right and assended a ridge with a gentle Slope to the dividing mountain which Seperates the waters from the Middle fork of Clarks river from this (blank) and Lewis's river and passed over prossueing the rout of the Oat lash shute band which we met last fall to the head of a branch of Wisdom R and down the Said branch crossing it frequently (Clark's party crossed the Continental Divide by way of Gibbons Pass, then went down Trail Creek (Clark's Glade Creek) toward the valley of the Big Hole River (his Wisdom River).) on each Side of this handsom glades in which I observe great quantities of quawmash just beginning to blume on each side of those glades the timber is small and a great proportion of it Killed by the fires. I observe the appearance of old buffalow roads and some heads on this part of the mountain. (The mountain Indians, since acquiring the horse and thus increasing their hunting efficiency, had greatly reduced the number of this animal by Lewis and Clark's time. See Clark's entry for July 14, 1806.) The Snow appears to lying in considerable masses on the mountain from which we decended on the 2th of Septr. last." (Probably Saddle Mountain from which the party descended on the date Clark mentions toward Ross's Hole.) "the Indian woman wife to Shabono informed me that she had been in this plain frequently and knew it well that the creek which we decended was a branch of Wisdom river (Big Hole River.) and when we assended the higher part of the plain we would discover a gap in the mountains in our direction to the canoes (Big Hole Pass, at the upper end of the Big Hole Valley through which Highway 278 passes. It was on the way to Camp Fortunate, at which place the canoes had been cached in August 1805.), and when we arived at that gap we would See a high point of a mountain covered with snow in our direction to the canoes. (Possibly the Tendoy Mountains, south of Camp Fortunate; they were apparently not visible from this point but came into view in a few miles.) we proceeded on 1 mile and Crossd. a large Creek (Ruby Creek which runs northeasterly to join Trail Creek and form the North Fork Big Hole River. A few miles to the east is the Big Hole Battlefield National Monument, site of an engagement between the Nez Perce and the U.S. Army on August 9-10, 1877. Both the Indains and the soldiers who attacked them reached the site by Clark's route through Gibbons Pass, named for the army commander in the battle.) from the right which heads in a Snow Mountain and Fish Creek over which there was a road thro' a gap. (Ruby Creek heads in the Beaerhead Mountains of the Bitterroot Range near the heads of some of the tributaries of the North Fork Salmon river (Lewis and Clark's Fish Creek.) The gap is another Big Hole Pass, east of Gibbonsville, ID.) we assended a Small rise and beheld an open boutifull Leavel Vally or plain of about 20 Miles wide and near 60 long extending N & S. in every direction around which I could see high points of Mountains Covered with Snow. (The valley of the Big Hole River in its east central part lies the present town of Wisdom, bearing the name which Lewis & Clark gave to the river.) I discovered one at a distance very high covered with Snow which bore S. 80o E. The Squar pointed to the gap through which she said we must pass which was S. 56o E. She said we would pass the river before we reached the gap. we had not proceeded more than 2 Miles in the last Creek, before a violent Storm of wind accompand. with hard rain from the S.W. imediately from off the Snow Mountains this rain was Cold and lasted 1 1/2 hours. I discovd. the rain wind as it approached and halted and formd. a solid column to protect our Selves from the Violency of the gust. after it was over I proceeded on about 5 Miles to Some Small dry timber on a Small Creek and encampd". (Probably on Moose Creek in the western part of the Big Hole Valley approximately seven miles southwest of Wisdom, MT.)
The morning of July 7 finds the horses scattered. Clark sends out men in every direction in search of them. They return with all but 9 by 9 A.M. Clark orders 6 men on horses to go in different directions and at a greater distance. These men all return by 10 A.M. who report they circled in every direction as far as 6 to 8 miles around the camp and could find no sign of the horses. They expressed to Clark that they believed the horses had been stolen by Indians. The reason given was the quality of the horses, all being the most valuable they had, and several of them were so attached to horse of inferior quality they could not be separated from each other when driving them with their loads on in the course of the day. Clark expresses in his journal, "I thought it probable that they might be stolen by Some Skulking Shoshones, but as it was yet possible that they may have taken our back rout or rambled to a greater distance I deturmined to leave a Small party and hunt for them to day, and proceed on with the main party and all the baggage to the Canoes, raise them out of the water and expose them to the sun to dry by the time this party Should overtake me. I left Sergt. Ordway, Shannon, Gibson Collins & Labeech with directions to hunt this day for the horses without they Should discover that the Inds. had taken them into the Mountains, and prosue our trail &c. at 1/2 past 10 AM I set out and proceeded on through an open rich vally crossing four large Creeks (Clark traveled southeasterly, across the Big Hole Valley, crossing Rock, Lake, Big Swamp, and Little Lake creeks, all affluents from the west of the Big Hole River.) with extensive low and mirey bottoms, and a Small river (The Big Hole River, the captain's "Wisdom River.") keeping the Course I had set out on S. 56o E after crossing the river I kept up on the N E. side, Sometimes folowing an old road which frequently disappeared, at the distance of 16 miles we arived at a Boiling Spring (East of Jackson, MT on Warm Spring Creek.) Situated about 100 paces from a large Easterly fork of the small river in a leavel open vally plain and nearly opposit & E. of the 3 forks of this little river which heads in the Snowey Mountains to the S E. & S W of the Springs. this Spring contains a very considerable quantity of water, and actually blubbers with heat for 20 paces below where it rises. it has every appearance of boiling, too hot for a man to endure his hand in it 3 seconds. I directt Sergt. Pryor and John Shields to put each a peice of meat in the water of different Sises. the one about the size of my 3 fingers cooked dun in 25 minits the other much thicker was 32 minits before it became sufficiently dun. This water boils up through some loose hard gritty Stone. a sittle sulferish (Jackson Hot Spring.) after takeing dinner and letting our horses graize 1 hour and a half we proceeded on Crossed this easterly branch and up on the N. Side of this middle fork 9 miles crossed it near the head of an Easterly Side of which we encamped near some butifull (Springs) which fall into Willards Creek. (Clark crossed Warm Spring Creek and went southeasterly up Governor Creek and Bull Creek, roughly parallel to Highway 278. After passing Bull Creek he went east through Big Hole Pass, still near the path of the modern highway, and once over the pass, camped near the head of Divide Creek, the upper portion of Lewis and Clark's "Willards Creek.") I directed that the ramblling horses should be hobbled, and the Sentinal to examine the horses after the moon rose."
Even though Clark had directed the horses to be hobbled the previous evening, the morning of the July 8 found them again scattered. and detained the expedition until 8 A.M. Clark reports they, "proceeded on down Willards Creek on the S.W. Side about 11 miles near which the Creek passes through the mountain (Clark traveled southeasterly down Divide Creek to a point west of Bannack, MT where the creek turns east to join Grasshopper Creek (the lower part of Lewis and Clark's Willard's Creek), which goes on east to join the Beaverhead (Jefferson River to the captains.)) we then Steared S. 20o E. to the West branch of Jeffersons river in Snake Indian cove about 7 miles and halded two hours to let the horses graize. (They traveled southerly to Shoshone ("Snake Indian cove") Cove and on to Horse Prairie Creek (the "West branch of Jeffersons river"). Lewis had entered the valley on August 10, 1805. Clark "let the horses graize" on Horse Prairie Creek a few miles east of Grant, MT.) after dinner we proceeded on down the forke which is here but Small 9 Miles to our encampment of 17 Augt. (They went down Horse Prairie Creek to the forks of the Beaverhead River and camped at Camp Fortunate on the east bank of the Beaverhead, a site now uner Clark Canyon Reservoir. Clark's party remained until July 10.) at which place we Sunk our Canoes & buried Some articles, as before mentioned the most of the Party with me being Chewers of Tobacco become So impatient to be chewing it that they Scercely gave themselves time to take their Saddles off their horses before they were off to the deposit. I found every article Safe, except a little damp. (See Lewis's entries for August 20-22, 1805. Although Clark says everything was "Safe", only one plant specimen (Golden Currant) remains of those which were cached here. That includes all those collected between the Great Falls and Camp Fortunate.) I gave to each man who used tobacco about two feet off a part of a role took one third of the ballance myself and put up 2/3 in a box to Send down with the most of the articles which had been left at this place, by the canoes to Capt. Lewis. as it was late nothing Could be down with the Canoes this evening. I examined them and found then all Safe except one of the largest which had a large hole in one Side & Split in bow." "The road which we have traveled from travellers rest Creek to this place an excellent road. and with only a few trees being cut out of the way would be an excellent waggon road one Mountain of about 4 miles over excepted which would require a little digging The distance is 164 Miles--."
The party rose early on July 9, gathered the horses, raised and washed the canoes, set them on shore to dry and repaired. Several of the men were set to work digging up tobacco from a cache Lewis had informed Clark was buried in the lodge when they camped there the previous summer. They searched diligently without finding anything. Clark reports further, "at 10 A M Sergt. Ordway and party arrived with the horses we had lost. he reported that he found those horses near the head of the Creek on which we encamped (Moose Creek, where they camped on July 6, 1806.), makeing off as fast as they could and much Scattered. nothing material took place with his party in their absence. I had the Canoes repared men & lodes appotioned ready to embark tomorrow morning. I also formd. the party to accomp me to the river Rejhone (The Roche jaune, or Yellowstone River.) from applicants and apportioned what little baggage I intended to carry as also the Spear horses."
Clark's Party from Camp Fortunate to The Three Forks
On July 10 Clark notes, "Last night was very cold and this morning everything was white with frost and the grass Stiff frozend. I had Some water exposed in a bason in which the ice was 3/4 of an inch thick this morning. I had all the Canoes put into the water and every article which was intended to be Sent down put on board, and the horses collected and packed with what fiew articles I intend takeing with me to the River Rochejhone, and after brackfast we all Set out at the Same time (Ordway indicates that he was in charge of the canoe party, while Clark led the group with the horses on land.) & proceeded on Down Jeffersons river on the East Side through Sarviss Vally and rattle snake mountain (They were traveling northeast down the Beaverhead River. See August 10, 1805.) and into that butifull and extensive Vally open and fertile which we Call the beaver head Vally which is the Indian name in their language Har na Hap pap Chah. (The valley of the Beaverhead and upper Jefferson Rivers. For the Beaverhead Rock, which Clark passed the next day on this downriver trip, see entries for August 8-10, 1805.) from the No. of those animals in it & a pt. of land resembling the head of one this Vally extends from the rattle Snake Mountain down Jeffersons river as low as fraziers Creek (South Boulder River; See August 1, 1805.) above the big horn maountain and is from 12 to 30 miles in width and (blank) miles on a direct line in length and Jeffersons river in passing through this Vally reives McNeals Creek (Blacktail Deer Creek near Dillon, MT. See August 10 & 13, 1805.), Track Creek (Rattlesnake Creek reaching the Beaverhead a few miles above Dillon; See August 14, 1805.), Phalanthrophy river, Wisdom river (Ruby (Philanthropy) and Big Hole (Wisdom) rivers near Twin Bridges, MT. See entries for August 5-6, 1805.), Fields river (Boulder River ("R Fields Vally Creek" on Clark's map) meeting Jefferson River. See August 1, 1805.) and Fraziers Creek each throw in a considerable quantity of water and have innoumerable beaver and otter on them" "...at Meridian I halted to let the horses Graze having Come 15 Miles I ordered the (canoes) to land. Sergt. Ordway informed me that the party with him had Come on very well, and he thought the Canoes could go as farst as the horses &c. as the river now become wider and not So Sholl, I deturmined to put all the baggage &c. which I intend takeing with me to the river Rochejhone in the canoes and proceed on down with them myself to the 3 forks or Madisons & galletens rivers. leaveing the horses to be taken down by Sergt. Pryor and 6 of the men of the party to accompany me to the river Rochejhone and directed Sergt. Pryor to proceed on moderately and if possible encamp with us every night. after dinner had my baggage put on board and Set out, and proceeded on tolerable well to the head of the 3000 Mile Island on which we had encamped on the (11th) of Augt last. (The island on which the party camped on August 11, 1805, according to Clark's map, was labeled "Otter Isd." "3000 Mile Island" is three to four miles farther down the Beaverhead River, approximately ten miles northeast of Dillon.) the Canoes passed Six of my encampments assending (Clark's camps of August 11-16, 1805.), opposit this island I encamped on the East side. (The East bank of Jefferson River opposite Three Thousand Mile Island.) the Musquetors were troublesom all day and untill one hour after Sunset when it became Cool and they disappeared."
The following day July 11 Clark sent ahead four of his best hunters in two canoes to hunt until he came up with the rest of the party. Clark writes, "after an early brackfast I proceeded on down a very crooked Chanel, at 8 a.m I overtook one Canoe with a Deer which Collins had killed, at meridian passed Sergt. Pryors Camp near a high point of land on the left Side which the Shoshones call the beavers head. (See August 8, 1805.) the wind rose and blew with great violence from the S W imediately off Some high mountains Covered with Snow. the violence of this wind retarded our progress very much and the river being emencly Crooked we had it imediately in our face nearly every bend. at 6 P M I passed Phalanthrophy river which I proceved was very low. the wind Shifted about to the N.E. and bley very hard tho' much wormer than the forepart of the day. at 7 P M I arrived at the Enterance of Wisdom River and Encampd. in the Spot we had encamped the (6th) of August last. (On the east side of Jefferson River opposite the mouth of the Big Hole River approximately two miles northeast of Twin Bridges, MT.) here we found a Bayonet which had been left & the canoe quite safe. (See August 7, 1805.) I directed that all the nails be taken out of this canoe and paddles to be made of her Sides & here I came up with Gibson & Colter whome I had Sent on a head for the purpose of hunting this morning, they had killed a fat Buck and 5 young gees nearly grown."
Sergeant Pryor did not join Clark and the rest of the party the previous evening as he had proceeded along the route. The party spent part of the morning making canoe paddles and removing nails from the canoe to be left behind. At 7 A.M. the morning of July 12 Clark reports, "I set out the Current I find much Stronger below the forks than above and the river tolerably streight as low as panther Creek (Big Pipestone Creek, reaching the river near Whitehall, MT. See August 3, 1805.) when it became much more Crooked the Wind rose and blew hard off the Snowey mountains to the N.W. (Highland Mountains.) and renderd it very difficuelt to keep the canoes from running against the Shore at 2 P.M. the canoe in which I was in was driven by a Suden puff of wind under a log which projected over the water from the bank, and the man in the Stern Howard was Caught in between the Canoe and the log and a little hurt, after disingaging our selves from this log the canoe was driven imediately under a drift which projected over and a little abov(e) the Water, here the Canoe was very near turning over we with much exertion after takeing out Some of the baggage hauled her out, and proceeded on without receving any damage. the men in the other Canoes Seeing our Situation landed and come with as much Speed as possible through the briers and thick brush to our assistance. but from the thickness of the brush did not get up to our assistance untill we had got Clear. at 3 P M we halted at the enterance of Fields Creek and dined here Willard and Collins over took us with two deer which they had killd. this morning and by takeing a different Side of an Island from which we Came, we had passed them. after dinner I proceeded on and Encamped a little below our encampmt. of the 31st of July last. (Clark does not say on which side of the Jefferson River this camp was located. It would be approximately two miles below the mouth of Antelope Creek, near where U.S. Highway 287 crosses the Jefferson.) the Musquetoes very troublesom this evening."
Clark's journal entry for July 13 reports they, "Set out early this morning and proceded on very well to the enterance of Madicines river at our old Encampment of the 27th July last at 12 where I found Sergt. Pryor and party with the horses, they had arived at this place one hour before us. his party had killed 6 deer & a white bear I had all the horses driven across Madecine & gallitines rivers and halted to dine and let the horses feed imediately below the enterance of Gallitine. (The junction of the Jefferson and Madison Rivers about two miles northeast of Three Forks, MT.) had all the baggage of the land party taken out of the Canoes and after dinner the 6 Canoes and the party of 10 men under the direction of Sergt. Ordway set out. previous to their departur(e) I gave instructions how they were to proceed &c. I also wrote to Capt Lewis by Sergt. Ordway--. My party now Consists of the following persons Viz: Sergeant N. Pryor, Jo. Shields, G. Shanon William Bratton, Labiech, Windsor, H. Hall, Gibson, Interpreter Shabono his wife & child and my man york; with 49 horses and a colt. the horses feet are very sore and Several of them can Scercely proceed on. at 5. P.M I Set out from the head of Missouri at the 3 forks, and proceeded on nearly East 4 miles and Encamped on the bank of Gallitines River which is a butifull navigable Stream." (Clark's route was actually closer to southeast than east. He camped on the north side of the Gallatin River about one mile east of Logan, MT.) "...I observe Several leading roads which appear to pass to a gap of the mountain in a E. N E. direction about 18 or 20 miles distant. (This gap is Flathead Pass in the Bridger Range leading easterly to the valley of Shields River. The Flatheads and Bannocks commonly passed this way to hunt buffalo on the plains.) The indian woman who has been of great Service to me as a pilot through this Country recommends a gap in the mountain more South which I shall cross.--." (Bozeman Pass; See July 15, 1806.)
Ordway's Party from the Three Forks to the Great Falls of the Missouri
From the forks Clark dispatched Ordway with the canoes down the Missouri to the Great Falls.
Ordway and Party: July 13 - 19, 1806: Ordway - Collins - Colter - Cruzatte - Howard - LePage - Potts - Whitehouse - Willard - Wieser
Ordway reports for July 13 states, "a clear morning. the canoe & 2 men went on a head. we Set out as usal and proceeded on down passd. large timbred bottoms about 12 oClock we arived at our last years Camp on 27 & 28 July little above the 3 forks Joined the rest of the party with the horses and had got here only one hour before us they had killed a deer and one antelope and had wounded a white bear. we all proceeded to the 3 forks of Missouri crossed the men & baggage and Swam the horses to all to the South Side of gallintines River where we dined below the forks the canoe that was a hunting came up they had killed two deer. we delayed about 2 hours Capt. Clark & party leaves us hear to cross over to the River Roshjone. So we parted I and 9 (Collins, Colter, Cruzatte, Howard, LePage, Potts, Weiser, Whitehouse and Willard) more proceeded on down the river with the canoes verry well. the wind a head So we halted little before night. Collins killed 2 large fat bucks and P. Cruzatte killed a deer & Colter killed a large beaver & good fur though the Season is over for them to have good fur in the Southern parts. the Musquetoes more troublesome than ever we have seen them before. the hunters Saw large gangs of Elk in this valley.--"
On July 14 Ordway writes, "a fair morning. we took an eairly brakfast and proceeded on down the river. the wind rose hard a head Colter killed 2 young beaver about noon we halted the wind rose So high that we were unable to proceed. So two hunters went out a hunting. in the evening as the wind fell we moved down the R. to a bottom and Camped. willard killed one deer. Saw Indn. Sign Collins did not join us this evening. Saw buffaloe Sign &C."
July 15 begins with another fair morning. Ordway notes, "we Set out at light and proceed on verry well overtook Collins who had killed three deer about 9 A.M. we halted for breakfast & Collins killed a fat buck & P.Cruzatte killed a goat or antelope. we proced. on verry well the currents are common & ripe. Colter killed a panther a deer and a rattle Snake. in the evening we Camped in the mountains. Collins killed 4 Elk. the Musquetoes verry troublesom in deed.--"
Ordway's journal entry for July 16 continues, "a fair morning. we took an eairly breakfast and proceeded on verry well. the wind rose a head and blew so high about noon that obledged us to lay too near the gates of the rockey Mountains (about 5 3/4 miles midway between Holter and Houser dams, the party passed here on the outbound journey on July 19, 1805) Collins killed a large beaver we gathered a little pitch for our canoes &C about 3 P.M. the wind abated a little and we proced. on thro the gates of the mn Saw large gangs of Mountain Sheep and Elk Collins killed a faun Elk and two Mountain Sheep. we proceeded on below ordways river (Little Prickly Pear Creek) and Camped on a Sand beach. Same Side.--"
Another clear morning for July 17. Ordway's party took an early breakfast and proceeded on. Ordway writes, "Collins and Colter Skinned the 2 mountn. Sheep Saved the Skin and bones for our officers to take to the States. the wind rose So high that Some of the canoes were near being filled. about noon we arived at the head of the pine Islands & rapids & halted at the Creek (Half-breed Rapids in the vicinity of Hardy Creek) above as the wind too high to pass these rapids with Safety. Cruzatte killed 2 (3?) big horn animels and Colter killed a deer. towards evening the wind abated a little So we passed down the rapids with Safety. at the foot of the rockey mountains large gangs of the Ibex or big horn anim. Seen along the edges of Sd. Mountns. Camped about 5 miles below Sd. rapids at ta bottom in groves of cotten timber.--"
On July 18 Ordway reports, "a clear cool windy morning. we set off as usal and proceeded on down the gentle current Saw large gangues of buffaloe out in the plains about noon Collins killed three deer. Saw great numbers of beaver and otter &C. towards evening we passed the mouth of Smiths River a Short distance below Some of the hunters went out after some gangues of buffaloe and we Camped it being late the hunters did not kill any this evening but Saw great numbers in the plains. the Musquetoes and Small flyes are verry troublesome. my face and eyes are Swelled by the poison of those insects which bite verry Severe indeed."
Ordway's Party joins Gass and his Party at the Great Falls
Ordway and Party: July 19 - 28, 1806: Ordway - Collins - Colter - Cruzatte - Howard - LePage - Potts - Whitehouse - Willard - Wieser
Gass and Party: July 19 - 28, 1806: Gass - Frazier - Goodrich - McNeal - Thompson - Werner
Ordway writes on July 19, "a clear & pleasant morning. two hunters went on Shore to go across a bend after the buffaloe & we proceeded on with the canoes round sd. bend. about 11 A. M. the hunters killed 4 buffaloe and a buck deer. we halted and took the best of the meat or fat and proced. on about 3 P.M. we arived at the white bear Camp at the head of the portage. (White Bear Islands, occupied by the Corp from June 19 to July 12, 1805) Sergt Gass and five more of the party were Camped here. (Gass had Frazier, Goodrich, McNeal, Thompson and Werner with him. Lewis had taken Drouillard and the two Field brothers to explore the Marias River.) they informed us that they had a fine road over. they followed up the Tus-e-paw or buffaloe river a Smooth road, then crossed a low dividing ridge (Lewis and Clark Pass) came on a band of Indians had went before them. Saw one of their Sculp poles &C. they Struck the Meddison river (Sun River) above its forks and followed on down in about 3 days travel to this place. considerable of cotten timber on its bottoms. the plain Smooth Soil indifferent except Some of the river bottoms are rich & good land. they arived here on the 11th Inst. they had killed a number of fat buffaloe and fat buck deers. Capt. Lewis and party lost 7 fine horses at this place. they expect they were Stole by the war parties. they hunted for them untill the 16th Inst. then gave them out for lost, and then he Set out for to go up morriahs river Drewyer Jo. & R. Fields only with him as he left 4 horses to hall the canoes past the portage. he had not horses enofe to take any more men with him. they had opened the cash or hole at this place & found Several Small articles Spoiled and opened the one below the portage and found everry thing Safe except Some of the mens robes. they have geers fixed for the horses. Mcneal was attacked by a white bear. his horse threw him So near the bear that he had not time to shoote but drew his gun and Struck the bear across the head and broke off the brich of his gun and Stonded the bear So that he had time to climb a Sapling. the bear kept him on the tree about 3 hours. then the bear left him he caught his horse and returnd. to Camp. we took our baggage out of the canoes and halled them out to dry &C. the Musquetoes verry troublesome indeed much worse than they were last year.--"
The 20th of July brings both parties a clear warm morning. Ordway notes, "we conclude to lay here to day as the truck waggons are not fixed. Sergt. Gass went a putting in the tongues to the waggons. Some of the men are engaged dressing Skins, but we are tormented by the Musquetoes and Small flys. the men engaged dressing deer Skins &c. towards evening we got up our 4 horses tacked them in the truck waggons found they would draw but were covred thick with Musquetoes and Small flyes &C."
The parties began July 21 with a fair warm morning. Ordway continues, "the Musquetoes troubled us all last night. one man went out at day light for the horses, but could not find them. then Several more men went out and hunted for them all day & could not find any of them we got two canoes Started & considerable baggage ourselves & Camped concluded to delay tomorrow for our horses before we give them out. the Musquetoes and Small flyes verry troublesome we made fires of buffaloe dry dung to make Smoaks &c."
The parties rose early July 22 and dispersed in different directions in search of four missing horses. Ordway reports, "about noon they were found at the grand falls of Missourie (Great Falls of the Missouri River) and we tackled up the horses and set out with 2 canoes part of the men not returnd from hunting the horses. we proced. about 5 miles then our extletree broke down and we had to turn back with our truck wheels leaving a man to take care of the baggage &C. we made another extletree and Started with 2 more canoes & Camped Some of the men came in from hunting the horses had killed three buffaloe and one goat or antelope."
The evening prior to July 23 brought a hard shower of rain, hail and wind. In the morning Ordway notes, "we geered up the 4 horses and Set out with 2 Canoes one large & one Small one the truck wheels which bore the large canoe broke down often and troubled us much. Wiser cut his leg with a knife So that he is unable to walk & is a bad wound Collins went on to willow Creek (Box Elder Creek) to kill Some fresh meat for us. with much difficulty we got the 2 canoes & considerable of baggage to willow Creek about Sunset and Camped. Collins had killed three buffaloe. Some of the other hunters killed another fat one this evening."
July 24 presented them with a clear morning. They returned with the wagons to the head of the portage and collected the other small canoes. Ordway writes, "took in the Small one the baggage and proceeded on 8 miles halted to baite our horses. had a hard Shower of rain which rendred the plains verry muddy. we procd. to willow Creek and Camped. one waggon went with one canoe to the foot of the portage &c.--"
On July 25 Ordway continues, "we procd. on to portage Creek (Belt Creek) met the other men returning. we formed a Camp at portage Creek left 2 men one to Cook & one to hunt and returnd. to willow Creek hard rain comd. about noon and continued the remainder part of the day, but did not Stop us from our urgent labours. halted as much as we were able to help the horses as the place So amazeing muddy & bad. in the evening we got to portage Creek and Camped. rained verry hard and we having no Shelter Some of the men and myself turned over a canoe & lay under it others Set up by the fires. the water run under us and the ground was covred with water. the portage River raises fast Collins killed a buffaloe and a brarow.--"
July 26 presented Ordway's party with "a wet disagreeable morning. an Indn. dog came about our Camp we gave him Some meat. the portage River too high to waid but is falling fast. Colter & potts went at running the canoes down the rapids to the white perogue near the carsh. (The white pirogue was hidden in the area of the lower portage camp below Belt Creek on June 18, 1805.) the rest of us returned to willow Creek took on the other large canoe and halted to asist the horses as the turck wheels Sank in the mud nearly to the hub. Cruzatte killed a buffaloe we took the best of the meat and returned with much hard fatigue to portage River and got the canoes and all the baggage down to the white perogue and Camped having got the carsh opened and all brought to the White perogue & all Safe &C."
For July 27 Ordway reports, "Sergt. Gass and Willard Set out with the 4 horses crossed the river to the N. Side to take them down to the Mouth of Morriah to back (pack) the meat while we lay their, as we expect to arive their before Capt. Lewis & party. we halled out the white perogue out of the bushes and repaired hir. about 12 we loaded and Set out with the white perogue and the 5 canoes. procd. on down the rapid water fast. Camped on S. Side at large gange of Buffaloe the hunters killed in a fiew minutes 5 buffaloe Some of which was fat, and one deer.And R. Frazer killed one buffaloe with his Musquet &C."
Ordway & Gass meet Lewis with his Party
Ordway and Gass Party: July 19 - 28, 1806: Ordway - Gass - Collins - Colter - Cruzatte - Frazier - Goodrich - Howard - LePage - McNeal - Potts - Thompson - Werner - Whitehouse - Wieser - Willard
Lewis and Party: July 16 - 28, 1806: Lewis - Drouillard - J. Fields - R. Fields - Seaman (dog).
Ordway's journal entry for July 28 begins, "two hunters went on eairly a head. Howard killed two deer. we proceeded on as usal about 9 A. M. we discovred on a high bank a head Capt Lewis & the three men who went with him on horse back comming towards us on N. Side we came too Shore and fired the Swivell to Salute him & party we Saluted them also with Small arms and were rejoiced to See them &C. Capt Lewis took us all by the hand, and informed us that they had good Sucksess in going to their journeys end and Crossd. a number of branches & forks of Marriahs River and followd. up a North fork (Cut Bank Creek, Lewis's acount of these days is found in his entries from July 17 to this day) to Latitude (blank) got his observations for the Lat. but the cloudy weather prevented him from gitting the Longitude &c. but found it was not much difference from the Mouth of Morriah they then Set off on their return the day before yesterday and met with eight of the Grousevauntaus (In this instance the reference is in regard to the Piegan Blackfeet and not to Hidatsa or Atsina Indians as is usually the case.) Indians with bows & arrows and 2 guns. they at first appeared afraid but after a little wrode up and Shook hands with Capt. Lewis & party and appeared friendly they desired Capt. Lewis to go with them to their Nation which they said was under the blanket mountn. Some distance about 2 days march. but Capt. Lewis told them that he Could not wait but desired them to come down to the Mouth of Morriah promiseing them the horse if they would comply but they were afraid of being killed by us. they had upwards of 20 horses but they were ordinary ones or the most of them. they Camped with Capt. Lewis & men as they expected they were friends, though Capt. Lewis had a watch up all night, and at day break yesterday morning the eight Savages Seased all our mens guns and Capt. Lewises also. they Instantly Sprung up out of their Sleep and Ruben Fields chased an Indian who Capt Lewis had made a chief gave him a meddle last evening & he was running of(f) with R. Fields and his brothers Jo Fields Guns. Reuben overhalled him (and) caught hold of the 2 guns had his knife drawn & as he Snatched away the guns perced his knife in to the Indians heart he drew but one breath the wind of his breath followed the knife & he fell dead they all Seased their arms from the Indians and took one of the Indn. guns and all their bows and arrows and their Shields which they were on their backs at war. they then went at running after our horses Capt. Lewis wounded one more badly but the Indn. partly raised and fired back at him but missed him. they cleared out with Some of our horses and Some of theirs, though Capt. Lewis took as many as he wanted of theirs and left the rest & made all haste towards us and had rode 100 and 20 miles Since yesterday morning, and much fatigued and turned out the horses in the plain & threw the Saddles in the River & came on board the canoes. (Lewis tells his story of this event in his journal of July 27.) then we proced on with as much Speed as possable. Soon overtook the 2 hunters who had killed Several Elk a buffaloe & one beaver. we now keep to gether and are concerned about Sergt Gass & willard who went down by land. about 1 P. M. we arived at the forks of Marriah opened the carshes (One cache was between the Marias and Missouri rivers about a mile upriver from the camp of June 3-12, 1805; See Clark's entry of June 10, 1805. Another was at the camp of June 3-12, 1805, at the mouth of the Marias River.) found all except 4 Steel traps which were put in a carsh by themselves & we could not find the place. Some beaver skin and Robes &c. Spoiled. the other articles all Safe and dry &C. Sergt. Gass and willard joined us with the horses. we left the horses here crossed to the N. Side found the red perogue Safe but too Rotten to take down. So we took Some of the nailes out of hir and Set out. Sergt Gass & willard had killed Several buffaloe and 7 antelopes as they came down from the falls by land. we Soon had a hard Shower of rain & large hail. Some larger than a musket Ball Thunder and high winds a head but we procd. on untill eveing and Camped (A little below the mouth of Crow Coulee.) on South Side and kept a Strict guard. Collins killed a buffaloe. we got the best of the meat of it. lat in the evening we had a Shower of rain which lasted about a hour.--
With the exception of Clark and his party, which includes Pryor, Bratton, Charbonneau, Gibson, Hall, Labische, Shannon, Shields, Windsor, York, Sacagawea and Babtiste, July 29 begins with all parties united.
Clark's Party from the Three Forks to the Missouri via the Yellowstone River
Clark and Party July 13 - August 12, 1806: Clark - Pryor - Bratton - Charbonneau - Gibson - Hall - Labische - Shannon - Shields - Windsor - York - Sacagawea - Babtiste - 49 horses - 1 colt
July 14, 1806 Clark writes he, "Sent Sheilds a head to kill a deer for our brackfast and at an early hour Set out with the party Crossed Gallitines river which makes a Considerable bend to the N.E. and proceeded on nearly S. 78o E through an open Level plain at 6 miles I Struck the river and crossed a part of it and attemptd to proceed on through the river bottoms which was Several Miles wide at this place, I crossed Several chanels of the river running through the bottom in defferent directions. I proceeded on about two miles crossing those defferent chanels all of which was damed with beaver in Such a manner as to render the passage impracticable and after Swamped as I may Say in this bottom of beaver I was compelled to turn Short about to the right and after Some difficuelty made my way good to an open low but firm plain which was an Island and extended nearly the Course I wished to proceed. here the Squar informed me that there was a large road passing through the upper part of this low plain from Madicins river through the gap which I was Stearing my course to. I proceeded up this plain 4 miles and Crossed the main Chanel of the river, having passed through a Skirt of cotton timber to an open low plain on the N E. Side of the river and nooned it. the river is divided and on all the small Streams inoumerable quantities of beaver dams, tho' the river is yet navagable for Canoes. I overtook Shields Soon after I set out; he had killed a large fat Buck. I saw Elk deer & Antelopes, and great deel of old Signs of buffalow. their roads is in every direction. The Indian woman informs me that a fiew years ago Buffalow was very plenty in those plains & Vallies quit(e) as high as the head of Jeffersons river, but fiew of them ever come into those Vallys of late years owing to the Shoshones who are fearfull of passing into the plains West of the mountains and Subsist on what game they Can Catch in the Mountains principally and the fish which they take in the E. fork of Lewis's river. Small parties of Shoshones do pass over to the plains for a few days at a time and kill buffalow for their skins and dried meat, and return imediately into the Mountains. after Dinner we proceeded on a little to the South of East through an open leavel plain to the three forks of the E branch of Gallitines River (Clark reached the forks of East Gallatin River near Bozeman, MT.) at about 12 miles, crossed the most Southerly of those forks (Bozeman Creek. It is marked "Co ni-ah Fork Clatsop Chief." for Coboway (Coni-ah) on Clark's map; See December 12, 1805.) and Struck an old buffalow road which I kept Continuing nearly the Same Course up the middle fork Crossed it and Camped on a small branch of the middle fork on the N E. Side at the commencement of the gap of the mountain--" (Clark continued up the East Gallatin River and camped on Kelly Creek approximately three to four miles east of Bozeman north of Interstate Highway 90 near the site of Fort Ellis.)
The expedition set out on July 15 at 8 A.M. and according to Clark, "proceeded on up the branch to the head thence over a low gap in the mountain thence across the heads of the N E. branch of the fork of Gallitins river which we Camped near last night passing over a low dividing ridge to the head of a water Course which runs into the Rochejhone, prosueing an old buffalow road which enlargenes by one which joins it from the most Easterly branch of the East fork of Galetins R. (Clark went easterly up Kelly Creek, then crossed Jackson Creek and went through Bozeman Pass in the Bridger Range.) proceeding down the branch a little to the N. of East keeping on the North Side of the branch to the River rochejhone at which place I arrived at 2 P M. (He went east down the north side of Billman Creek, reaching the Yellowstone River at Livingston, MT.) The Distance from the three forks of the Easterly fork of Galletines river (from whence it may be navigated down with Small Canoes) to the river Rochejhone is 18 Miles on an excellent high dry firm road with very inco(nsi)derable hills. from this river to the nearest part of the main fork of Gallitine is 29 miles mostly through a leavel plain. from the head of the Missouri at the 3 forks 48 miles through a leavel plain"
Clark continues, "in the evening after the usial delay of 3 hours to give the horses time to feed and rest and allowing our Selves time also to Cook and eate Dinner, I proceeded on down the river on an old buffalow road at the distance of 9 miles below the mountains Shield River discharges itself into the Rochejhone on it's N W. side above a high rocky Clift, this river is 35 yards wide deep and affords a great quantity of water it heads in those Snowey Mountains to the N W with Howards Creek (Shields River heads in the Crazy Mountains near there is the had of Sixteenmile Creek, the captians' Howard's Creek, which flows west to meet the Missouri River.), it contains some Timber Such as Cotton & willow in it's bottoms, and Great numbers of beaver the river also abounds in those animals as far as I have Seen. passed the creek and over a high rocky hill and encamped in the upper part of a large bottom." (Clark camped on the north side of the Yellowstone River south of Sheep Mountain and approximately three miles below the mouth of Shields River.)
The Roche passes out of a high rugid mountain covered with snow. (From this location the Yellowstone emerged from between the Gallatin Range on the west and the Absaroka Range on the east.) the bottoms are narrow within the mountains but widen from 1/2 a m. to 2 ms. in the Vally below, those bottoms are Subject to over flow, they contain Some tall Cotton wood, and willow rose bushes & rushes Honey suckle &c. a Second bottom on the N E. Side which rises to about 20 feet higher the first & is 1 m. wide this bottom is coars gravel pebils & Sand with Some earth on which the grass grow very Short and at this time is quit dry this 2d bottom over flows in high floods on the opposit Side of the river the plain is much higher and extendes quite to the foot of the mountain. The mountains to the S.S.E on the East side of the river is rocky rugid and on them are great quantities of Snow. (The Absaroka Range and the Beartooth Mountains to the east of them.) a bold Snow mountain which bears East (This is impossible from Clark's position on the Yellowstone, but if he means "west," then Saddle Peak in the Bridger Range could be the mountain.) & is imediately at & N W of the 3 forks of the East fork of Gallitins river may be Seen, there is also a high rugid Mtn. on which is Snow bearing North 15 or 20 Miles" (The Crazy Mountains.)
The next day, July 16, Clark gave Labische permission to proceed on in order to kill a fat elk or buffalo. The party did not set out until 9 A.M. In route Shannon killed a very fat bull buffalo and after 10 miles they halted to graze the horses and to dine. Clark writes, "Soon after I had set Out Labeech joined us with part of a fat Elk which he had killed. I passed over a Stoney point at which place the river runs Close to the high land on the N W. side crossed a small Creek and Encamped on the river a little below its' Enterance." (On the north side of the Yellowstone just below the mouth of Little Timber Creek.)
According to Clark on July 17 they "proceeded over the point of a ridge and through an open low bottom crossed a large Creek which heads in a high Snow toped Mountain to the N W. imediately opposit to the enterance of the Creek one Something larger falls in from the high Snow mountains to the S W. & South those Creeks I call Rivers across (On the north is Big Timber Creek and on the south is Boulder River, near Big Timber, MT. Big Timber Creek is probably that referenced by Thomas James, who passed by in 1810 when working for Manuel Lisa, as the "Twenty Five Yard" River; that width is the only notation given for that stream ("River 25 yds wide bold") on Clark's map, other than "rivers across." It is not unlikely that Lisa and his partners had a copy of Clark's map of the region since Clark was a partner in the enterprise. "Twenty Five yard" River has sometimes been identified with Shields River, but some confusion may have occurred over the years. The words "Rivers across" may have been added to a blank space and may not be in Clark's hand.) they contain Some timber in their Vallys at the distance of (blank) Miles by water we arive at the enterance of two Small rivers or large Creeks which fall in nearly opposit to each other the one on the N E side is 30 yards wide. I call it Otter River and the other Beaver R (Sweet Grass and Lower Deer Creeks. The words from "Otter" to "R" were apparently substituted for some erased material.) below the enterance of this Creek I halted as usial to let the Horses graze &c. I saw a Single Pelicon which is the first which I have Seen on this river. after Dinner I proceeded on Down the Rochejhone passing over a low ridge through a Small bottom and on the Side of a Stoney hill for 2 miles and through a Small (bottom) and again on the Side of a high hill for 1 /2 M. to a bottom in which we Incaped opposit a Small Island." (The camp was on the north side of the Yellowstone a mile or two below the mouth of Hump Creek. It appears to be marked "Encamped 7th July 1806" on Clark's map, but his numbers may have run together.) "...I Saw in one of those Small bottoms which I passed this evening an Indian fort (Just above the mouth of Work Creek. Thomas James describes one used by Crows on the Yellowstone in 1810, and Henry Brackenridge mentions an Arikara fort in 1811. Just above this fort on Work Creek is the site where a party of trappers led by Michael Immell and Robert Jones of the Missouri Fur Company were defeated by Blackfeet on May 31, 1823, with Immell and Jones being killed.) which appears to have been built last Summer. this fort was built of logs and bark."
On July 18 Charbonneau was thrown from his horse in pursuit of a buffalo, horse apparently stepped in a bader hole, fell and threw him over its head bruising his hip, shoulder and face. Clark relates the events of the day, "after brackfast I proceeded on as usial, passd. over points of ridges So as to cut off bends of the (river) crossed a Small Muddy brook" (After passing Monument Butte, he reached White Beaver Creek.) ..."at 11 A.M. I observed a Smoke rise to the S.S.E in the plains towards the termonation of the rocky mountains in that direction (which is Covered with Snow) this Smoke must be raisd. by the Crow Indians in that direction as a Signal for us, or other bands. I think it most probable that they have discovered our trail and takeing us to be Shoshone &c. in Serch of them the Crow Indians to trade as is their Custom, have made this Smoke to Shew where they are--or otherwise takeing us to be their Enemy made this Signal for other bands to be on their guard. I halted in a bottom of fine grass to let the horses graze. Shields killed a fat Buck on which we all Dined. after dinner and a delay of 3 hours to allow the horses time to feed, we Set out at 4 P.M. I set out and proceeded down the river through a butifull bottom, passing a Indian fort on the head of a Small island near the Lard Shore and Encamped on a Small Island Seperated from the Lard Shore by a very narrow Chanel." (Approximately three miles west of Columbus, MT and the mouth of the Stillwater River (Clark's "Rose bud R"). A mile of so below the camp is mouth of Huntley Creek. The "Indian fort" appears on Clark's map a little above a dry brook which is apparently present Berry Creek.) "...Gibson in attempting to mount his horse after Shooting a deer this evening fell and on a Snag and sent it nearly (two) inches into the Muskeler part of his thy. he informs me this Snag was about 1 inch in diamuter burnt at the end. this is a very bad wound and pains him exceedingly. I dressed the wound."
Clark rose early on July 19 and dressed Gibsons wound reporting Gibson slept very little the last evening and complains of great pain in his knee, hip and thigh. There being no timber near this part of the Yellowstone sufficient to build a canoe to carry Gibson Clark was prepared to build a litter. Finding sufficient timber for that purpose required Gibson to travel on horseback. Clark had the strongest and gentlest horse saddled with skins and blankets in such a manner that when he was placed on the horse he felt himself in as easy a position as when lying. Clark concluded this was a fortunate circumstance as Gibson could go much farther at ease than in a litter. Clark writes, "passed Rose bud river (Stillwater River, meeting the Yellowstone River opposite Columbus, MT.) on Sd Side I proceeded on about 9 miles, and halted to let the horses graze and let Gibson rest. his leg become So numed from remaining in one position, as to render extreemly painfull to him. I derected Shields to keep through the thick timber and examine for a tree sufficently large & Sound to make a Canoe, and also hunt for Some Wild Ginger for a Poltice for Gibsons wound. he joined me at dinner with 2 fat Bucks but found neither tree or Ginger. he informed me that 2 white bear Chased him on horseback, each of which he Shot from his horse &c." "...we passed over two high points of Land from which I had a View of the rocky Mounts to the W. & S. S. E. all covered with Snow. I also Saw a low mountain in an Easterly direction". (The mountains to the south-southeast would be the Pryor Mountains. The low mountain in the east may be the area around Stratford Hill, from nine to seventeen miles south of Billings, MT.) "...I have Seen Some trees which would make very Small Canoes. Gibsons thy became So painfull that he could not Set on the horse after rideing about 2 hours and a half I directed Sergt Pryor and one man to continue with him under the Shade of a tree of an hour and then proceed on to the place I Should encamp" "...about 4 Miles below the place I left Sergt. Pryor with Gibson found some large timber near which the grass was tolerably good I Encamped under a thick grove of those trees (On the north side of the Yellowstone River south of Park City, MT. where he remained until July 24; another so-called Canoe Camp.) which was not Sufficiently large for my purpose, tho' two of them would mak small Canoes. I took Shields and proceeded on through a large timbered bottom imediately below in Serch of better trees for Canoes, found Several about the Same Size with those at my Camp. at dark I returned to Camp Sergt. Pryor had arived with gibson." "...Shabono informed me that he Saw an Indian on the high lands on the opposit Side of the river, in the time I was absent in the woods. I saw Smoke in the Same direction with that which I had Seen on the 7th inst. (The number may be "17". The smoke was seen on July 18, 1806.) it appeared to be in the Mountains."
The following day, July 20, Clark directed Sergeant Pryor and Private Shields to proceed on down the river 6 or 8 miles in search of larger trees than those near their encampment. He sent Charbonneau, Hall and Labische to skin and return with the flesh of the elk Labische had killed the previous evening. The returned with one skin the wolves having eaten most of the other four elk. Clark also sent two men in search of wood suitable for ax handles. They located some Choke Cherry, See July 10, 1805. Pryor and Shields returned at 11:30 A.M. finding no trees larger than those at their present encampment. Clark determined to have two canoes made from the largest of those trees and lash them together. The trees selected made canoes 28 feet in lenth and approximately 16-18 inches deep and from 16-24 inches wide. Clark reports, "Gibsons wound looks very well. I dressed it. The horses being fatigued and their feet very Sore, I shall let them rest a fiew days. dureing which time the party intended for to take them by land to the Mandans (For the party and its purpose, see July 23 and 24, 1806.) will dress their Skins and make themselves Clothes to bare, as they are nearly naked."
The morning of July 21 Clark was informed that half of the horses were missing. He sent Bratton, Charbonneau and Shannon in search of them. The three set out in different directions. charbonneau and Bratton returned at 10 A.M. reporting they were unable to locate any sign of the horses. Shannon had proceeded on down the river about 14 miles not returning until late in the evening. He also was unsuccessful in locating the horses. Clark notes in his journal, "shannon informed me that he Saw a remarkable large Lodge (Possibly a Crow sun-dance lodge. Clark's party was now well within the Crow homeland; the lodge was probably a few miles southwest of Billings, MT. See Clark's description July 24, 1806.) about 12 miles below, covered with bushes and the top Deckorated with Skins &c and had the appearance of haveing been built about 2 years." "...the men work very diligiently on the Canoes one of them nearly finished ready to put in the water. Gibsons wound is beginning to heal. I am in great hope that it will get well in time for him to accompany Sgt. Pryor with the horses to the Mandans."
Clark sent Pryor and Charbonneau in search of the horses a little before daylight the following morning of July 22. They didn't return until 3 P.M. and reported according to Clark that they, "could See neither horses nor tracks the Plains imediately out from Camp is So dry and hard that the track of a horse Cannot be Seen without close examination. I therefore derected Sergt. Pryor Shannon Shabono & Bratten to incircle the Camp at Some distance around and find the tracks of the horses and prosue them, they Serched for tracks all the evening without finding which Course the horses had taken, the plains being so remarkably hard and dry as to render it impossible to See a track of a horse passing through the hard parts of them. begin to Suspect that they are taken by the Indians and taken over the hard plains to prevent our following them. my Suspicions is grounded on the improbibility of the horses leaveing the grass and rushes of the river bottoms of which they are very fond, and takeing imediately out into the open dry plains where the grass is but Short and dry. if they had Continued in the bottoms either up or down, their tracks Could be followed very well. I directed Labeech who understands traking very well to Set out early in the morning and find what rout the horses had taken if possible"
Clark reports on July 23, "Labeech went out early agreeable to my directons of last evening. Sergt. Pryor and Windser also went out. Sgt. pryor found an Indian Mockerson and a Small piece of a roab, the mockerson worn out on the bottom & yet wet, and have every appearance of haveing been worn but a fiew hours before. those Indian Signs is Conclusive with me that they have taken the 24 horses which we lost on the night of the 20th instant, and that those who were about last night were in Serch of the ballance of our horses which they could not find as they had fortunately got into a Small Prarie Serounded with thick timber in the bottom. Labeech returned haveing taken a great Circle and informed me that he Saw the tracks of the horses makeing off into the open plains and were by the tracks going very fast. The Indians who took the horses bent their course reather down the river. the men finished both Canoes by 12 oClock to day, and I sent them to make Oars & get poles after which I sent Shields and Labeech to kill a fat Buffalow out of a gangue which has been in a fiew miles of us all day. I gave Sergt Pryor his instructions and a letter to Mr. Haney (Hugh Heney, the North West Company trader whom the captains met at Fort Mandan; See December 16, 1804.) and directed that he G. Shannon & Windser take the remaining horses to the Mandans, where he is to enquire for Mr. H. Heney if at the establishments on the Assinniboin river (The North West Company posts at Assiniboine House or Montagne a la Bosse, on the Assiniboine River in Manitoba.) to take 12 or 14 horses and proceed on to that place and deliver Mr. Heney the letter which is with a view to engage Mr. Heney to provale on some of the best informed and most influential Chiefs of the different bands of Sieoux to accompany us to the Seat of our Government with a view to let them see our population and resourses &c. which I believe is the Surest garentee of Savage fidelity to any nation that of a Governmt. possessing the power of punishing promptly every aggression. Sergt. Pryor is directed to leave the ballance of the horses with the grand Chief of the Mandans untill our arival at his village also to keep a journal of his rout courses distances water courss Soil productions, & animals to be particularly noted." (No journal by Pryor has been found.) "...in the evening had the two Canoes put into the water and lashed together ores and everything fixed ready to Set out early in the morning, at which time I have derected Sergt. Pryor to Set out with the horses and proceed on to the enterance of the big horn river (The mouth of the Bighorn River was some ninety miles below Clark's camp of July 19-24, 1806. For Clark's confusion of the Bighorn with Clarks Fork Yellowstone River, see July 24, 1806.) at which place the canoes will meat him and Set him across the Rochejhone below the enterance of that river."
Clark's journal for July 24 states, "at 8 A M. we Set out and proceeded on very well to a riffle about 1 mile above the enterance of Clarks fork or big horn river (Clarks Fork Yellowstone River still bears the name from the expedition. Clark first took it to be the Bighorn River. It reaches the Yellowstone a few miles southeast of Laurel, MT. It rises in the Beartooth Mountains.) at this riffle the Small Canoes took in a good deel of water which obliged us to land a little above the enterance of this river which the (blank) has called Clarks fork to dry our articles and bail the Canoes." "...a Small Island is Situated imediately in its mouth, the direction of this river is South and East of that part of the rocky mountains which Can be seen from its enterance and which Seem to termonate in the direction.-- (The Absaroka and Beartooth ranges.) I thought it probable that this might be the big horn river, and as the Rochejhone appeared to make a great bend to the N. I deturmined to Set the horses across on S. Side." "...at 6 ms. below the fork I halted on a large Island" (The island and lodge, which Shannon reported on July 21, 1806, is approximately five miles east of Laurel, MT.) "...This being a good place to Cross the river I deturmined to wait for Sergt. pryor and put him across the river at this place. on this Island I observed a large lodge the Same which Shannon informed me of a fiew days past. this Lodge is council lodge, it is of a Conocil form 60 feet diamuter at its base built of 20 poles each pole 2 1/2 feet in Secumpheranc and 45 feet Long built in the form of a lodge & covered with bushes. in this Lodge I observed a Cedar bush Sticking up on the opposit side of the lodge fronting the dore, on one side was a Buffalow head, and on the other Several Sticks bent and Stuck in the ground. a Stuffed Buffalow skin was Suspended from the Center with the back down. top of those poles were deckerated with feathers of the Eagle & Calumet Eagle also Several Curious pieces of wood bent in Circleler form with sticks across them in form of a Griddle hung on tops of the lodge poles others in form of a large Sturrip. This Lodge was erected last Summer." "...after Dinner I proceeded on passed the enterance of a Small Creek" (Possibly Blue Creek reaching the Yellowstone River south of Billings, MT.; "Horse Creek" & "Horse Brook" on two of Clark's maps.) "...where I met with Sergt. Pryor, Shannon & Windser with the horses they had but just arived at that place. Sergt. Pryor informed me that it would be impossible for the two men with him to drive on the horses after him without tireing all the good ones in pursute of the more indifferent to keep them on the Course. that in passing every gangue of buffalow Several of which he had met with, the loos horses as Soon as they saw the Buffalow would imediately pursue them and run around them. All those that (had) Speed sufficient would head the buffalow and those of less Speed would pursue on as fast as they Could. he at length found that the only practiacable method would be for one of them to proceed on and when ever they Saw a gang of Buffalow to Scear them off before the horses got up. This disposition in the horses is no doubt owing to their being frequently exercised in chasing different animals by their former owners the Indians as it is their Custom to chase every Species of wild animal with horses, for which purpose they train all their horses. I had the horses drove across the river and Set Sergt. Pryor and his party across. (The horses crossed the Yellowstone south of Billings a mile or two below the mouth of Blue Creek (Clark's Horse Creek).) H. Hall who cannot Swim expressed a Willness to proceed on with Sergt. Pryor by land, and as another man was necessary to assist in driveing the horses, but observed he was necked, I gave him one of my two remaining Shirts a par of Leather Legins and 3 pr. of mockersons which equipt him Completely and Sent him on with the party by land to the Mandans. I proceeded on the river" "...we made 70 Ms. to day Current rapid and much divided by islands. Campd. a little below Pryers river of 35 yds. on S E." (Named after Sergeant Nathaniel Pryor of the party; present Dry Creek. It should not be confused with "Pryors Creek" of July 25. The camp of July 24 was just below the mouth of Dry Creek and on the opposite side of the river. Clark has greatly exaggerated the bend of the Yellowstone on all his maps.)
Pryor and Party: July 24 - August 8, 1806: Pryor - Shannon - Windsor - Hall. This group was dispatched by Clark to the Mandan Village but returned with a failed mission due to losing their horses. The journals document 2 occasions when there was a division in the parties. In both instances, Serg. Pryor was in charge of the detachments (See July 8, 1806.)
Pryor was to make contact with trader Hugh Heney, going north into Canada if necessary, to secure Heney's services as an intermediary with the Sioux. Pryor's mission ended prematurely on the second night out when Indians, probably Crows, stole his party's horses. He and his men made Mandan-style "bull boats" of buffalo hides and floated down the Yellowstone and the Missouri pursuing Clark, whom they overtook on August 8.
Clark and Party: July 24 - August 8, 1806: Clark - Bratton - Charbonneau - Gibson - Labische - Shields - York - Sacagawea - Babtiste
According to Clark the party set out at sunrise on July 25 and "at 4 P M arived at a remarkable rock situated in an extensive bottom on the Stard Side of the river & 250 paces from it. this rock I ascended and from it's top had a most extensive view in every direction.
This rock which I shall call Pompy's Tower is 200 feet high and 400 paces in secumpherance and only axcessable on one Side which is from the N.E the other parts of it being a perpendicular Clift of lightish Coloured gritty rock on the top there is a tolerable Soil of about 5 or 6 feet thick Covered with Short grass. The Indians have made 2 piles of Stone on the top of this Tower. The nativs have ingraved on the face of this rock the figures of animals &c. near which I marked my name and the day of the month & year. (This sandstone formation is one-half mile north of Interstate Highway 94, between the villages of Nibbe and Pompeys Pillar, and about twenty-eight miles northeast of Billings. Apparently the first white man to see it was Francois-Antoine Larocque (see November 27, 1804) on his trip to the Yellowstone in September 1805, some ten months before Clark. Clark named the rock "Pompy's Tower" for little Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, whom he had nicknamed "Pomp." In the 1814 history Biddle altered this to a more classical "Pompey's Pillar," the name which has persisted. Clark's inscription of his name and date are still visible, the only surviving physical evidence of the expedition along its route. In 1876 a soldier participating in the campaign against the Sioux reportedly carved his name over the "k," and when reprimanded declared that he did not believe that there had been a white man in the country seventy years earlier. The inscription has since been deepened and is now protected by shatterproof glass.) From the top of this Tower I Could discover two low Mountains & the Rocky Mts. covered with Snow S W. one of them appeard to be extenecive and bore S. 15o E. (The same bearing appears in Biddle's history. On Clark's map however, "S. 15o W. 40 m" is noted by Pompys Tower. On another of Clark's maps no bearing is given, but a straight, dotted line runs from the tower southwesterly in the general direction of the Pryor Mountains which are in fact southwest of Pompeys Pillar. The Bighorn Mountains lie southeast of the position. The mountains to the northwest are the Bull Mountains, the "Southern extremity" of which would be Dunn Mountain.) about 40 miles. the other I take to be what the indians Call the Little wolf Mtn. I can only see the Southern extremity of it which bears N 55o W about 35 Miles. The plains to the South rise from the distance of about 6 miles the width of the bottom gradually to the mountains in that derection. a large Creek (Fly Creek, "Shannons River" after George Shannon of the party.) with an extencive Vally the direction of which is S. 25o E. meanders boutifully through this plain. a range of high land Covered with pine (Pine Ridge, just west of the Bighorn River.) appears to run in a N. & S. direction approaching the river below. on the Northerly Side of the river high romantic Clifts approach & jut over the water for Some distance both above and below. a large Brook (Clark's "River Baptieste," present Pompeys Pillar Creek, which meets the Yellowstone directly opposite Pompeys Pillar.) which at this time has Some running muddy water falls in to the Rochejhone imediately opposit Pompys Tower. back from the river for Some distance on that Side the hills are ruged & some pine back the plains are open and extensive." Clark continued on a few miles when they discovered "a gang of about 40 Big horn animals fired at them a killed 2 on the Sides of the rocks which we did not get. I directed the Canoes to land, and I walked up through a crevis in the rocks almost inaxcessiable and killed 2 of those animals one a large doe and the other a yearlin Buck. I wished very much to kill a large buck, had there been one with the gang I Should have killd. him. dureing the time the men were getting the two big horns which I had killed to the river I employed my Self in getting pieces of the rib of a fish which was Semented within the face of the rock this rib is (about 3) inchs in Secumpherance about the middle it is 3 feet in length tho a part of the end appears to have been broken off I have Several peces of this rib the bone is neither decayed nor petrified but very rotten. the part which I could not get out may be Seen, it is about 6 or 7 Miles below Pompys Tower in the face of the Lard. Clift about 20 feet above the water. after getting the big horn on board &C I proceeded on a Short distance and encamped" (On the south side of the Yellowstone just below the mouth of Fly Creek (Shannons River) and about two miles northeast of the village of Pompeys Pillar.)
The following day, July 26 passed a few creeks named "Halls River" and "Little Wolf C" on one of Clark's maps, and "Halls creek on another, after Hugh Hall of the party. It is present Cow Gulch, meeting the Yellowstone River approximately five miles northeast of the village of Pompeys Pillar. Clark writes on this day, "fortunately for us we found an excellent Chanel to pass down on the right of a Stony Island half a mile below this bad place, we arived at the enterance of Big Horn River on the Stard. Side. (The Bighorn river reaches the Yellowstone River a mile or so above the present village of Bighorn, MT.) here I landed imediately in the point which is a Sof mud mixed with the Sand and Subject to overflow for Some distance back in between the two rivers. I walked up the big horn 1/2 a mile and crossed over to the lower Side, and formed a Camp on a high point. (The camp was above the junction of the Bighorn River with the Yellowstone and on the stream's east side.) I with one of my men Labeech walked up the N E Side of Big horn river 7 miles to th enterance of a Creek which falls in on the N E. Side and is 28 yds wide Some running water which is very muddy this Creek I call Muddy Creek" (Tullock Creek. It is "Muddy Creek" on two of Clark's maps as it is in his journal, however on Clark's map of 1810 it is "Horse River.")
Clark's journal entry for July 27 continues, "I marked my name with red paint on a Cotton tree near my Camp, and Set out at an early hour and proceeded on very well the river is much wider from 4 to 600 yards much divided by Islands and Sand bars, passed a large dry Creek (Alkali Creek.) at 15 miles and halted at the enterance of River 50 yards wide on the Lard Side I call R. Labeech" ("Little wolf or Winsors Creek" on one of Clark's maps, "Winsors dry Creek on another, present Muggins Creek.) "...when we pass the Big horn I take my leave of the View of the tremendious chain of Rocky Mountains white with Snow in View of which I have been Since the 1st of May last. about Sunset I shot a very large fat buck elk from the Canoe near which I encamped (Approximately two miles above the mouth of Big Porcupine Creek ("Little Wolf River" on Clark's map) and about eight miles west of Forsyth, MT.; the course of the Yellowstone has evidently shifted since 1806, as the campsite is some distance north of the present river.), and was near being bit by a rattle Snake".
Once again as many times previous Clark sets out on July 28, "at day light and proceeded on glideing down this Smooth Stream passing maney Isld. and Several Creeks and brooks at 6 miles passed a Creek or brook of 80 yards wide (According to Biddle "Little Wolf river") (Not to be confused with the "Little wolf or Winsors Creek" of July 27, 1806, which is present Muggins Creek. This stream is Big Porcupine Creek reaching the Yellowstone River a few miles west of Forsyth, MT. Clark's original route map for July 28 - August 1, 1806, is missing, but the map prepared for Prince Maximilian in 1833 shows "Little Wolf River" clearly.) on the N W. Side Containing but little water. 6 miles lower passed a small Creek 20 yds wide on the Stard Side (Armells Creek meets the Yellowstone a few miles below the mouth of Big Porcupine Creek on the opposite side.) 18 Miles lower passed a large dry creek on the Lard Side (Little Porcupine Creek, several miles downstream from Forsyth. Clark referred to it as "Table Brook" in his courses and distances and "Table Creek on his map.) 5 Miles lower passed a river 70 yards wide Containing but little water on the Lard Side which I call Table Creek (Horse Creek not far below the mouth of Little Porcupine Creek.) from the tops of Several mounds in the Plains to the N W. resembling a table. (These formations extend two to four miles northeast of Forsyth on the north side of the Yellowstone River. They are not noted on Clark's map.) four miles Still lower I arived at the enterance of a river 100 yards wide back of a Small island on the South Side. it contains Some cotton wood timber and has a bold Current, it's water like those of all other Streams which I have passed in the Canoes are muddy. I take this river to be the one the Indians Call the Little Big Horn river. (Not the present Little Bighorn river, a tributary of the Bighorn River; See July 26, 1806. This stream is Rosebud Creek, meeting the Yellowstone a mile or so above Rosebud, MT. On Clark's map it is a large, nameless stream on the south side of the Yellowstone River.) The Clifts on the South Side of the Rochejhone are Generally Compd. of a yellowish Gritty Soft rock, whilest those of the N. is light Coloured and much harder in the evening I passd. Straters of Coal in the banks on either Side those on the Stard. Bluffs was about 30 feet above the water and in 2 vanes from 4 to 8 feet thick, in a horozontal position. the Coal Contined in the Lard Bluffs is in Several vaines of different hights and thickness. this Coal or Carbonated wood is like that of the Missouri of an inferior quallity. passed a large Creek (Sweeney Creek, not named on Clark's map nor are the "Coal Bluffs".) on the Stard. Side between the 1st and 2nd Coal Bluffs passed Several Brooks the chanel of them were wide and contained but little running water, and encamped on the upper point of a Small island opposit the enterance of a Creek 25 Yards wide on the Stard. Side with water. (Graveyard Creek meeting the Yellowstone a short distance below Hathaway, MT. "Mar shas kap River" on Clark's map. The Indian name would have been obtained from the Mandans or Hidatsas, but Clark may have misidentified it, since the actual Mar-shas-kap appears to have been Rosebud Creek. See July 19, 1806.)
The party experienced rain, thunder, lightening and a violent wind from the northeast the evening previous to July 29. They set out early and as Clark notes, "passed three large dry Brooks on the Stard. Side" (Cottonwood, Moon, and either Snell, Lignite, or Coal creeks on the south side of the Yellowstone. One of them would likely be the "Dry Brook" shown below the "Mar shas kap River" and the camp of July 28 on Clark's map.) and four on the Lard Side. (Probably Bull, Wilson, Whitetail, and Steiger or Reservation creeks on the north side of the Yellowstone.) "...late in the evening I arived at the enterance of a River which I take to be the Lazeka or Tongue River (The Tongue River meets the Yellowstone at Miles City.) it discharges itself on the Stard. Side and is 150 yards wide of water the banks are much wider. I intended to encamp on an eligable Spot imediately below this river, but finding that its' water So muddy and worm as to render it very disagreeable to drink, I crossed the rochejhone and encamped on an island close to the Lard. Shore. (This camp was below Tongue River, opposite, and north of Miles City. On his map it is placed on the south side of the Yellowstone below the Tongue River.)
July 30 the party set out early as usual and proceeded on for 12 miles when according to Clark the, "arived at the Commencement of Shoals the Chanel on the Stard Side near a high bluff. passed a Succession of those Shoals for 6 miles the lower of which was quit across the river and appeared to have a decent of about 3 feet. here we were Compeled to let the Canoes down by hand for fear of their Strikeing a rock under water and Splitting. This is by far the wost place which I have Seen on this river from the Rocky mountains to this place a distance of 694 miles by water. a Perogu or large Canoe would with Safty pass through the worst of those Shoals, which I call the Buffalow Sholes (Buffalow Shoals are just below the mouth of Sand Creek, "Little dry River" on Clark's map.) from the Circumstance of one of those animals being in them." "...I landed at the enterance of a dry Creek (Muster Creek near Kinsey; it appears on Clark's map as "Dry creek".) on the Lard side below the Shoals and took brackfast." "...after Brackfast proceeded on the river much narrower than above from 3 to 400 yards wide only and only a fiew scattering trees to be Seen on the banks. at 20 miles below the Buffalow Shoals passed a rapid which is by no means dangerous, it has a number of large rocks in different parts of the river which Causes high waves a very good Chanel on the Lard. Side. this rapid I call Bear rapid (Bear Rapid is above the mouth of Custer Creek, MT.) from the Circumstance of a bears being on a rock in the Middle of this rapid when I arived at it. a violent Storm from the N.W. obliged us to land imediately below this rapid, draw up the Canoes and take Shelter in an old Indian Lodge above the enterance of a river which is nearly dry it has laterly been very high and Spread over nearly 1/4 a mile in width. its Chanel is 88 yards and in this there is not more water than could pass through an inch auger hole. I call it Yorks dry R. (Custer Creek.) after the rain and wind passed over I proceeded on at 7 Miles passed the enterance of a river (Powder ("War har sah") River.) the water of which is 100 yds wide, the bead of this river nearly 1/4 of a mile this river is Shallow and the water very muddy and of the Colour of the banks a darkish brown. I observe great quantities of red Stone thrown out of this river that from the appearance of the hills at a distance on its lower Side induced me to call this red Stone river. (The Indian name is "War-rah-sash" probably learned from the Mandans or Hidatsas. Biddle suggests the translation is "red stone river" but it is closer to a Mandan word meaning "powder.") as the water was disgreeably muddy I could not Camp on that Side below its mouth. however I landed at its enteranc and Sent out and killed two fat Cows, and took as much of the flesh as the Canoes would conveniently Carry and Crossed the river and encamped at the enterance of a Brook on the Lard. Side under a large Spredding Cotton tree." (This camp was below and opposite the mouth of Powder River ("War har sah"), at the mouth of Crooked Creek.) "...Gibson is now able to walk, he walked out this evening and killed an antilope."
The party was disturbed during the night by the noise of buffalo about their camp. Numerous buffalo swam the river near their camp which concerned them for fear of the buffalo crushing the canoes. Fortunately the members of the party, canoes and other articles were unharmed. At sun rise, July 31, according to Clark they, "passed a rapid which I call wolf rapid (Near the mouth of Conns Coulee, approximately four miles southwest of Terry, MT.) from the Circumstance of one of those animals being at the rapid. here the river approaches the high mountainious Country on the N W. Side." (This includes Little Sheep and Big Sheep mountains.) "...the Country again opens and at the distance of 23 miles below the Redston or War-har-sah River (Powder River; See July 30, 1806.) I landed in the enterance of a Small river (O'Fallon Creek about one mile west of Fallon, MT. Both the creek and town are named after Benjamin O'Fallon, trader, Indian agent, and nephew of William Clark. On Clark's map it is referred to as "Oak Tar pon er River" and "Coal River"; the latter is the name used in both sets of courses and distances, but not in the text of the journal.) on the Stard. Side 40 yards wid Shallow and muddy. it has lately been very high. haveng passed the Enterance of a River on the Lard Side 100 yards wide which has running water. (Cherry Creek a short distance below Terry. Called "Shabonas River" on Clark's map after Toussaint Charbonneau, husband of Sacajawea.) this river I take to be the one the Menetarries Call little wolf or Sa-a-shah River" "...18 Miles below the last river on the Stard. Side, I passed one 60 yards wide which had running water. this Stream I call oak-tar-pon-er or Coal River (Not the same stream which bears this name in Clark's courses and distances nor on his map. This is Cabin Creek, "Gibsons deep river" on Clark's map.) has very steep banks on each side of it. passed Several large Brooks (Cherry, Cabin, and Cedar Creeks.) Some of them had a little running water, also Several Islands Some high black looking Bluffs and encamped on the Stard. Side on a low point. (Approximately seven miles southwest of Glendive, MT.) the country like that of yesterday is open extencive plains. as I was about landing this evening Saw a white bear and the largest I ever Saw eating a dead buffalow on a sand bar. we fired two Shots into him, he Swam to the main Shore and walked down the bank. I landed and fired 2 more Shots into this tremendious animal without killing him. night comeing on we Could not pursue him he bled profusely."
On Sunday, August 1, 1806, Clark writes, "My Situation a very disagreeable one. in an open Canoe wet and without a possibility of keeping my Self dry. the Country through which we passed is in every respect like that through which I passed yesterday. this water is excessively muddy. Several of those brooks have Some trees on their borders as far as I can See up them. I observe Some low pine an cedar on the Sides of the rugid hills on the Stard. Side, and Some ash timber (Green Ash; See Lewis's entry for August 7, 1806.) in the high bottoms. the river has more Sand bars today than usial, and more Soft mud. the current less rapid. at 2 P. M. I was obliged to land to let the Buffalow cross over. not withstanding an island of half a mile in width over which this gangue of Buffalow had to pass and the chanel of the river on each side nearly 1/4 of a mile in width, this gangue of Buffalow was entirely across and as thick as they could Swim. the Chanel on the side of the island the(y) went into the river was crouded with those animals for 1/2 an hour. the other Side of the island for more than 3/4 of an hour."
Except for a single canoe party of Colter and Collins the expedition camped for the last time, August 6, 1806, in what is now Montana near today's town of Poplar. (Lewis: August 6, 1806; Clark: August 1, 1806.)
Clark and party Enter North Dakota
The morning of August 2 found the "Musquetors very troublesom". They set out early finding the river wide with many islands, sand and mud bars. Clark notes, "passed the enterance of Several brooks on each Side (Burns, Lone Tree, Shadwell, Fox, O'Brien, and Bennie Peer Creeks.), a Small river 30 yds wide with Steep banks on the Stard. Side, which I call Ibex River ("Ibex " refers to bighorn sheep."Ibex River" was written over an earlier name "Jo F. Creek River." In the draft courses "Jo Feilds" is crossed out. Clark apparently believed this creek to be Joseph Fields Creek of his maps; See April 26, 1805, it is present Charbonneau Creek in North Dakota. Ibex River is believed to be Smith Creek reaching the Yellowstone near Savage, MT.) the river in this days decent is less rapid crouded with Islds and muddy bars and is generally about one mile in wedth. as the islands and bars frequently hide the enterance of Brooks &c. from me as I pass'd maney of them I have not noticed. about 8 A.M. this morning a Bear of the large vicious Species being on a Sand bar raised himself up on his hind feet and looked at us as we passed down near the middle of the river. he plunged into the water and Swam towards us, either from a disposition to attack't or from the Cent of the meat which was in the Canoes. we Shot him with three balls and he returned to Shore badly wounded. In the evening I saw a very large Bear take the water above us. I ordered the boat to land on the opposit Side with a view to attack't him when he Came within Shot of the Shore. when the bear was in a fiew paces of the Shore I shot it in the head. the men hauled her on Shore and proved to be an old Shee which was so old that her tuskes had worn Smooth, and Much the largest feemale bear I ever Saw. after taking off her Skin, I proceeded on and encamped (Above the mouth of Charbonneau Creek.) a little above the enterance of Jo: Feilds Creek on Stard. Side in a high bottom Covered with low Ash and elm. the Musquetors excessively troublesom."
August 3 Clark writes, "last night the Musquetors was so troublesom that no one of the party Slept half the night. for my part I did not Sleep one hour. those tormenting insects found their way into My beare and tormented me the whole night. they are not less noumerous or troublesom this morning. at 2 miles passed the enterance of Jo. Field's Creek (Charbonneau Creek, ND.) 35 yds wide imediately above a high bluff which is falling into the river very fast. on the Side of this bluff I saw Some of the Mountain Bighorn animals. I assended the hill below the Bluff. the Musquetors were So noumerous that I could not Shute with any Certainty and therefore Soon returned to the Canoes." "...at 8. A.M. I arived at the Junction of the Rochejhone with the Missouri, and formed my Camp imediately in the point between the two river at which place the party had all encamped the 26th of April--1805."
Clark continues, "The distance from the Rocky Mountains at which place I struck the River Rochejhone to its enterance into the Missouri 837 Miles 636 Miles of this distance I decended in 2 Small Canoes lashed together in which I had the following Persons. John Shields, George Gibson, William Bratten, W. Labeech, Toust. Shabono his wife & child & my man York. The Rochejhone or Yellow Stone river is large and navagable with but fiew obstructions quite into the rocky mountains. and probably near it's source. The Country through which it passes from those Mounts. to its junction is Generaly fertile rich open plains the upper portion of which is roleing and the high hills and hill Sides are partially covered with pine and Stoney. The middle portion or from the enterance of Clarks Fork as low as the Buffalow Shoals the high lands Contain Some Scattering pine on the Lard. Side. on the Stard. or S.E. Side is Some hills thickly Supplied with pine. The lower portion of the river but fiew pines are to be Seen the Country opens into extencive plains river widens and Contains more islands and bars; of corse gravel sand and Mud. The Current of this river may be estimated at 4 Miles and 1/2 pr. hour from the rocky Mts. as low as Clarks Fork, at 3 1/2 Miles pr. hour from thence as low as the Bighorn, at 3-- Miles pr. hour from thence as low as the Tongue river, at 2 3/4 Miles pr. hour from thence as low as Wolf rapid and at 2 1/2 miles pr. hour from thence to its enterance into the Missouri"
"The Colour of the Water differs from that of the Missouri it being of a yellowish brown, whilst that of the Missouri is of a deep drab Colour containing a greater portion of Mud than the <Missouri> Rochejhone. This delighfull river from indain information has it's extreem sources with the North river in the Rocky mountains on the confines of New Mexico. (Gary E. Moulton: The North River is the Rio Grande del Norte, whose sources in Colorado are hundreds of miles southeast of those of the Yellowstone and the Snake (the southerly branch of Lewis's River) in northwest Wyoming. The Willamette (Multnomah) heads in western Oregon. Biddle took extra notes on the Yellowstone's sources in conversation with Clark after the expedition.) it also most probably has it's westerly sources connected with the Multnomah and those the main Southerly branch of Lewis's river while it's Easterly brances head with those of Clark's R. (Clark's Fork Yellowstone River; See July 24, 1806.) the bighorn and River Platte and may be said to water the middle portion of the Rocky Mountains from N W to S.E. for several hundred miles. the indians inform us, that a good road passes up this river to it's extreem source from whence it is buta short distance to the Spanish Settlements. (The closest confirmed "Spanish Settlements" were in New Mexico, considerably farther than Clark was led to believe.) there is also a considerable fall on this river within the mountains but at what distance from it's source we never could learn (The Falls of the Yellowstone are within Yellowstone National Park, south of Livingston, MT. where Clark first reached the Yellowstone River.) like all other branches of the Missouri which penetrate the Rocky Mountains all that portion of it lying within those mountains abound in fine beaver and Otter, it's streams also which issuing from the rocky mountian and discharging themselves above Clark's fork inclusive also furnish an abundance of beaver and Otter and possess considerable portions of small timber in their vallies. to an establishment on this river at clarks Fork the Shoshones both within and West of the Rocky Mountains would willingly resort for the purpose of trade as they would in a great measure be relived from the fear of being attacked by their enimies the blackfoot Indians and Minnetares of fort de Prarie, which would most probably happen were they to visit any establishment which could be conveniently formed on the Missouri. (The Missouri Fur Company led by Manuel Lisa built Fort Raymond (Fort Lisa, Fort Manuel Lisa) at the confluence of the Bighorn and Yellowstone Rivers in 1807. This same company attemped to establish a trading post at the Three Forks of the Missouri in 1810 but was abandoned after intense hostility from the Blackfeet; See July 28, 1805. In 1831 the American Fur Company established Fort McKenzie on the Missouri near the mouth of the Marias for the purpose of trading with the Blackfeet.) I have no doubt but the same regard to personal safety would also induce many numerous nations inhabiting the Columbia and Lewis's river West of the mountains to visit this establishment in preference to that at the entrance of Maria's river, particularly during the first years of those Western establishments. the Crow Indians, Paunch Indians castahanah's and other East of the mountains and south of this place would also visit this establishment; it may therefore be looked to as one of the most important establishments of the westen fur trade. at the entrance of Clark's fork there is a sufficiency of timber to support an establishment, an advantage that no position possesses from thence to the Rocky Mountains. The banks of the yellowstone river a bold not very high yet are not subject to be overflown, except for a few miles immediately below where the river issues from the mountain. the bed of this river is almost entirely composed of loose pebble, nor is it's bed interrupted by chains of rock except in one place and that even furnishes no considerable obstruction to it's navigation. as you decend with the river from the mountain the pebble become smaller and the quantity of mud increased untill you reah Tongue river where the pebble ceases and the sand then increases and predominates near it's mouth. This river can be navigated to greater advantage in perogues than any other craft yet it possesses suficient debth of water for battauxs even to the mountains; nor is there any of those moving sand bars so formidable to the navigation of many parts of the Missouri. The Bighorn R and Clark's fork may be navigated a considerable distance in perogues and canoes. Tongue river is also navigable for canoes a considerable distance."
Regarding the major nemesis of the day Clark reports on August 4, "Musquetors excessively troublesom So much So that the men complained that they could not work at their Skins for those troublesom insects. and I find it entirely impossible to hunt in the bottoms, those insects being So noumerous and tormenting as to render it imposseable for a man to continue in the timbered lands and our best retreat from those insects is on the Sand bars in the river and even those Situations are only clear of them when the Wind Should happen to blow which it did to day for a fiew hours in the middle of the day. the evenings nights and mornings they are almost (un)indureable perticularly by the party with me who have no Bears (biers) to keep them off at night, and nothing to Screen them but their blankets which are worn and have maney holes. The torments of those Missquetors and the want of a Sufficety of Buffalow meat to dry, those animals not to be found in this neighbourhood induce me to deturmine to proceed on to a more eliagiable Spot on the Missouri below at which place the Musquetors will be less troublesom and Buffalow more plenty." "...I ordered the Canoes to be reloaded with our baggage & dryed meat which had been Saved on the Rochejhone together with the Elk killed at this place. wrote a note to Capt Lewis informing him of my intentions and tied it to a pole which I had Stuck up in the point. At 5 P.M Set out and proceeded on down to the 2d point which appeared to be an elegable Situation for my purpose" "...on this point the Musquetors were So abundant that we were tormented much worst than at the point. The Child of Shabono has been So much bitten by the Musquetor that his face is much puffed up & Swelled. I encamped on this extensive Sand bar which is on the N W. Side."
Clark reports on August 5 that, "The Musquetors was So troublesom to the men last night that they Slept but very little. indeed they were excessive troublesom to me. my Musquetor Bear has a number of Small holes worn through they pass in. I Set out at an early hour intending to proceed to Some other Situation. I had not proceded on far before I Saw a ram of the big horn animal near the top of a Lard. Bluff I assended the hill with a fiew to kill the ram. the Misquetos was So noumerous that I could not keep them off my gun long enough to take Sight and by thair means missed. at 10 a.m. the wind rose with a gentle breeze from the N.W. which in Some measure thinned the Misquetors. I landed on a Sand bar from the South Point intendng to form a Camp at this place and Continue untill Capt Lewis Should arive." "...continued at this place untill late in the evening finding that there were no buffalow or fresh Sign I deturmined to proceed on accordingly Set out at 4 P.M and proceeded on but a fiew miles eeir I saw a Bear of the white Species walking on a Sand bear. I with one man went on the Sand bear and killed the Bear which proved to be a feemale very large and fat. much the fattest animale we have killed on the rout as this bear had got into the river before we killed her I had her toed across to the South Side under a high Bluff where formed a Camp" (Above Little Muddy River (Lewis and Clark's White Earth River) near Williston, ND.)
Clark's party rose the morning of August 6 very wet. about 11 P.M. the previous evening the wind blew violently, followed by lightning and thunder. It rained for approximately 2 hours then continued cloudy the rest of the night. they proceeded on below the entrance of "White earth river" where they landed and had all articles put out to dry." Clark notes in his journal, "This morning a very large Bear of white Specis, discovered us floating in the water and takeing us, as I prosume to be Buffalow imediately plunged into the river and prosued us. I directed the men to be Still. this animal Came within about 40 yards of us, and tacked about. we all fired into him without killing him, and the wind So high that we could not pursue hi(m), by which means he made his escape to the Shore badly wounded. I have observed buffalow floating down which I suppose must have been drounded in Crossing above. more or less of those animals drown or mire in passing this river. I observed Several floating buffalow on the R. Rochejhone imediately below where large gangues had Crossed."
The morning of August 7 brought hard rain which delayed the party until 11 A.M. when Clark, "directed every thing put on board and proceeded on down. the rain Continued at intervales all day tho' not hard in the evenig Saw a Bear on the bank but Could not get a Shoot at it. at 6 P M I landed on a Sand bar on the South Side and Campd. (Clark remained at this site above Tobacco Creek, ND. until August 9th.) Soon after we landed the wind blew very hard for about 2 hours, when it lulled a little. the air was exceedingly Clear and Cold and not a misquetor to be Seen, which is a joyfull circumstance to the Party.
Sergeant Pryor and Party Return After 15 Days Absence.
Pryor and Party: July 24 - August 8, 1806: Pryor - Shannon - Windsor - Hall.
Clark and Party: July 24 - August 8, 1806 - Clark - Bratton - Charbonneau - Gibson - Labische - Shields - York - Sacagawea - Babtiste
Clark and Party Continues on to Mandan Indians
Clark and Party: August 8 -12, 1806: Clark - Pryor - Bratton - Charbonneau - Gibson - Hall - Labische - Shannon - Shields - Windsor - York - Sacagawea - Babtiste
On the morning of August 8 Clark, "derected Shields and Gibson to turn out and hunt this morning. at 8 A.M. Sergt. N. Pryor Shannon, hall & Windsor came down the river in two Canoes made of Buffalow Skins. (Bullboats, observed by the party when they were among the Mandans and Hidatsas; See October 6, 1804.) Sergt. Pryor informed me that the Second night after he parted with me (On July 24, 1806.) on the river Rochejhone he arived about 4 P M on the banks of a large Creek which contained no running water. he halted to let the horses graze dureing which time a heavy Shower of rain raised the Creek so high that Several horses which had Stragled across the Chanel of this Creek was obliged to Swim back. here he deturmined to Continue all night it being a good food for the horses. In the morning he could see no horses. in lookg about their Camp they discovered Several tracks within 100 paces of their Camp, which they prosued found where they had Caught and drove off all the horses. they prosued on five miles the Indians (They were in the country of the Crows, or Absaroke; See November 12, 1804.) there divided into two parties. they Continued in pursute of the largest party five miles further finding that there was not the Smallest Chance of overtakeing them, they returned to their Camp and packed up their baggage on their backs and Steared a N.E. course to the River Rochejhone which they Struck at pompys Tower, there they killed a Buffalow Bull and made a canoe in the form and shape of the mandans & Ricares (the form of a bason) and made in the follow manner. Viz: 2 Sticks of 1 1/4 inch diameter is tied together So as to form a round hoop of the Size you wish the canoe, or as large as the Skin will allow to cover, two of those hoops are made one for the top or brim and the for the bottom the deabth you wish to Canoe, then Sticks of the Same Size are Crossed at right angles and fastened with a throng to each hoop and also where each Stick Crosses each other. then the Skin when green is drawn tight over this fraim and fastened with throngs to the brim or outer hoop So as to form a perfect bason. one of those Canoes will carry 6 or 8 Men and their loads. Those two Canoes are nearly the Same Size 7 feet 3 inches diamieter & 16 inches deep 15 ribs or Cross Sticks in each. Sergt. Pryor informs me that the Cause of his building two Canoes was for fear of ones meating with Some accedent in passing down the rochejhone a river entirely unknown to either of them by which means they might loose their guns and amunition and be left entirely destitute of the means of precureing food. he informed me that they passed through the worst parts of the rapids & Shoals in the river without takeing a drop of water, and waves raised from the hardest winds dose not effect them. on the night of the 26th ulto: the night after the horses had been stolen a Wolf bit Sergt. Pryor through his hand when asleep, and this animal was So vicious as to make an attempt to seize Windsor, when Shannon fortunately Shot him. Sergt. Pryers hand has nearly recovered. The Country through which St. Pryor Passed after he parted with me is a broken open Country. he passed one Small river which I have Called Pryors river which (rises) in a Mtn. to the South of Pompys tower. (Pryor Creek, See July 25, 1806, whose source is in the Pryor Mountains.) The note I left on a pole at the Mouth of the River Rochejhone Sergt. Pryor concluding that Capt. Lewis had passed took the note and brought it with him. Capt. Lewis I expect will be certan of my passing by the Sign which I have made and the encampment imediately in the point. Sergt Pryor being anxious to overtake me Set out some time before day this morning and forgot his Saddlebags which contains his papers &c. I Sent Bratten back with him in Serch of them. I also Sent Shannon over to hunt the bottom on the opposit Side. Shields and Gibson returned at 10 A.M. with the Skins and part of the flesh of three deer which they had killed in this bottom. I derected them to tke one of the Skin Canoes and proceed down to the next bottom and untill my arival which will be this evening if Sergt. Pryor returns in time. My object is to precure as many skins as possible for the purpose of purchaseing Corn and Beans of the Mandans. as we have now no article of Merchandize nor horses to purchase with, our only resort is Skins, which those people were very fond (of) the winter we were Stationed near them. after dark Pryor returned with his Saddlebeggs &c. they were much farther up than he expected."
According to Clark the morning of August 9 began with a heavy dew. He ordered the canoes loaded and "proceeded on down about 6 miles and landed at the Camp of the 2 hunters Shields and Gibson whome I had Sent down to hunt last evening, they had killed five deer two of which were in good order which they brought in. here I took brackfast and proceeded on a fiew miles and I walked on Shore across a point of near 10 miles in extent in this bottom which was mostly open I saw Some fiew deer and Elk. I killed 3 of the deer which were Meagure the Elk appeared fat. I did not kill any of them as the distance to the river was too great for the men to Carry the meat. at the lower part of this bottom a large Creek of runnig water 25 yds wide (Probably Tobacco Creek, the captains' "Halls Strand Creek", or Tobacco Garden Creek, their "Pumic Stone Creek".) falls in which meanders through an open roleing plain of great extent." "...I landed opposit to a high plain on the S.E. Side late in the evening and walked in a Grove of timber where I met with an Elk which I killed. this Elk was the largest Buck I ever Saw and the fattest animal which have been killed on the rout. I had the flesh and fat of this Elk brought to Camp (Approximately ten miles above Tobacco Creek. Probably beneath Garrison Reservoir. This was the camp Lewis passed on August 11, after being wounded by Cruzatte.) and cut thin ready to dry. the hunters killed nothing this evening."
August 10 begain with a hard wind from the east which continued all day. In the afternoon the day was cloudy with "a fiew drops of rain." Clark continues, "I finished a Copy of my Sketches of the River Rochejhone. Shields killed a black tail deer & an antilope. the other hunters killed nothing. deer are very Scerce on this part of the river."
On August 11 Clark's party met two trappers, Joseph Dickson and Forrest Hancock, the first whites they had seen since April 1805. These men could provide little information from the East, since they had been absent since the summer of 1804. They did, however, inform Clark that the Missouri River tribes were fighting one another again.
The next day August 12 the wounded Lewis and his contingent caught up with Clark. The captains realized that his and Lewis's successes at peacemaking had been limited and of short duration.
The discomfort of his wound now caused Lewis to give up his journalizing, leaving Clark to continue the record to the end of the trip. Characteristically, Lewis's last entry included the description of one last plant, the pin cherry. The Corps returned to the Mandan villages on August 14. They remained there only three days, trying to persuade Mandan and Hidatsa chiefs to go with them to see the president, but only Sheheke, the Mandan, and his family consented. Charbonneau, Sacagawea, and Jean Baptiste remained behind, and John Colter received a discharge so he could return to the mountains on a trapping venture with Dickson and Hancock.
Lewis and Party: Lewis - Ordway - Gass - Drouillard - J. Fields - R. Fields - Collins - Colter - Cruzatte - Howard - LePage - Potts - Whitehouse - Willard - Wieser - Frazier - Goodrich - McNeal - Thompson - Werner - Seaman (dog).
Clark and Party: Clark - Pryor - Bratton - Charbonneau - Gibson - Hall - Labische - Shannon - Shields - Windsor - York - Sacagawea - Babtiste
Except for a single canoe party of Colter and Collins the expedition camped for the last time, August 6, 1806, in what is now Montana near today's town of Poplar. (Lewis: August 6, 1806; Clark: August 1, 1806.)