Did Toby Get the Corp of Discovery Lost?

James Richard Fromm

All bold print, italics and underlining is placed there by the author.

Numerous "historians" have made reference to Toby or tobe becoming either lost, confused, bewildered, embarrassed, making errors in judgement, or of failing memory on as many as three occasions. This paper is in response to the simple question: Did Toby Get the Corp of Discovery Lost?  The following are the four references to those three occasions made by any member of the Corp of Discovery.

September 3, 1805 - Sergeant Patrick Gass, "This was not the creek our guide wished to have come upon; and to add to our misfortunes we had a cold evening with rain" (This is the supposed Lost Trail Pass Incident.)

September 13, 1805 - Captain William Clark, "as Several roads led from these Springs in different derections, my Guide took a wrong road and took us out of our rout 3 miles through intolerable rout".

September 13, 1805 - Sergeant Patrick Gass, "There are so many paths leading to and from this spring, that our guide took a wrong one for a mile or two, and we had bad travelling across till we got into the road again." (These incident’s occurred near Lolo Hot Springs.)

September 15, 1805 - Captain William Clark reports his party traveled west four miles, "down the Creek bottoms Passing over 4 Steep high hills to a run at an old Indian Camp at a fishing place, where we wer Some time e'er, we found the proper road which assends a high mountain   road excessively bad. Take the wrong road*" (This statement was included in Clark’s Course & Distance report for the day. It represents the apparent third and most troublesome incident which occured on the western side of the Lolo Trail.  The reason for the presence of the asterisk is unknown.)

On September 13, 1805 journal writers began including information regarding Indian fishing weirs to their writings.

While at the Lolo Hot Springs, Sergeant John Ordway makes reference to how the Indians catch fish using weirs, "the Savages had a place fixed across the River and worked in with willows where they catch a great quantity of Sammon in the Spring, as our guide tells us."

Private Joseph Whitehouse also notes in his first draft - "our Guide tells us that the natives catch a great nomber of Sammon along here."

In his second draft of the day he states, "Our guide informed us, that the Natives catch great Quantities of Salmon at this place"

The following is additional background information relating to the knowledge and discovery of Indian weirs used by the natives to catch fish. The reader may determine for themselves how egregious Toby’s or tobe’s actions might have been.

September 14, 1805 Ordway notes, "the Savages had a place fixed across the River and worked in with willows where they catch a great quantity of Sammon in the Spring, as our guide tells us."

Whitehouse writes, "the Natives had a place made across in form of our wires (weirs) in 2 places, and worked in with willows verry injeanously, for the current verry rapid. we crossed at the forks and proceeded on down the creek. passed Several late Indian Encampments. our Guide tells us that the natives catch a great nomber of Sammon along here.

In his second draft Whitehouse writes, "the Natives had here made places across this fork of the Creek, in the form of Weirs to catch fish in, which we found in 2 different parts of this fork, it was worked in with willows very ingeniously & strong, the current running very rapid at where these Weirs were set.-- We crossed below this place at where the Creek forked, and proceeded on down the creek and passed several Indian encampments, which the Natives had lately left. Our guide informed us, that the Natives catch great Quantities of Salmon at this place"

On September 14, 1805 Clark writes, "we Crossd. Glade Creek above its mouth, (Crossing Lochsa River.) at a place the Tushepaws or Flat head Indians have made 2 wears across to Catch Sammon and have but latterly left the place I could see no <Signs of> fish, and the grass entirely eaten out by the horses, we proceeded on 2 miles & encamped opposit a Small Island"

Dr. Moulton responds to the above quotation in The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Volume 5, Page 205, footnote #8 when he writes, "The camp was on the north bank of the Lochsa River, some two miles below the mouth of White Sand (Killed Colt) Creek, near Powell Ranger Station in Idaho County. In going down into the valley of the Lochsa they had, probably by an error of their guide, deviated from the Lolo Trail, which follows the ridge tops. This would make the journey more difficult and probably about a day longer."

One might argue for the last and most reported incident of September 14-15, 1805 that Toby or tobe was not lost. He knew of the location of the fishing weirs as he had apparently been there previously. He may very well have known of the difficulty of obtaining sufficient food at the higher elevations where the Corp of Discovery had reported seeing snow. After all, there were at least 35 travelers plus horses which needed to be fed.  It had also been reported to Lewis and Clark, on their return trip, of the Nez Perce sending parties down from the ridge top to catch fish as that was their best source of sustenance on that section of the trail.

On a related subject one might take exception to statements of some "historians" who suggest the Corp of Discovery was on the verge of starvation and thus "killed a colt". Simply answer this question: If they were in such a state of starvation, why did they turn two lame horses loose instead of using them for food?

Research:


Biddle, Nicholas, The Journals of the expedition Under the Command of Capts. Lewis and Clark, Copyright 1814 - Reprinted 1962. - In his editorializing Biddle makes one reference to Toby becoming either lost, confused, bewildered, embarrassed, making errors in judgement or of failing memory.

[As the reader will recall, the correct quotation of Captain William Clark is, "as Several roads led from these Springs in different derections, my Guide took a wrong road and took us out of our rout 3 miles through intolerable rout".  Biddle makes no reference to the charge of September 3, 1805 by Sergeant Patrick Gass nor of September 15, 1805 by Captain William Clark.]


Coues, Elliott, The History of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Copyright 1893. - Like Biddle, Coues in his editorializing makes the same reference to Toby becoming either lost, confused, bewildered, embarrassed, making errors in judgement or of failing memory.

[As the reader will recall, the correct quotation of Captain William Clark is, "as Several roads led from these Springs in different derections, my Guide took a wrong road and took us out of our rout 3 miles through intolerable rout".  Coues makes no reference to the charge of September 3, 1805 by Sergeant Patrick Gass nor of September 15, 1805 by Captain William Clark.]


Thwaites, Reuben Gold, Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Copyright 1904. - Thwaites makes no editorial references of Toby having been lost, confused, bewildered, embarrassed, making errors in judgement, or of failing memory.  He does mention Captain Clark's quotes of September 13 & 15, 1805.

[The only difference between Thwaites version and Moulton's is Thwaites writes, "I" in "I take the wrong road" whereas Moulton reports "Take the wrong road*"]

DeVoto, Bernard, The Journals of Lewis and Clark, Copyright 1953. - DeVoto makes no reference, in his editorializing, of Toby having been lost, confused, bewildered, embarrassed, making errors in judgement, or of failing memory.  He does mention Captain Clark's quote of September 13, 1805.


Clarke, Charles G., The Men of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Copyright 1970. - Clarke makes no reference, in his editorializing, of Toby having been lost, confused, bewildered, embarrassed, making errors in judgement, or of failing memory.  He does mention Captain Clark's quote of September 13, 1805.

[The actual quote should have been, "as Several roads led from these Springs in different derections, my Guide took a wrong road and took us out of our rout 3 miles through intolerable rout,"]


Ronda, James P., Lewis and Clark Among the Indians, Copyright 1984. - In his editorializing Ronda makes one (1) reference to Toby becoming either lost, confused, bewildered, embarrassed, making errors in judgement or of failing memory.

[There is no mention in the Journals for September 14, 1805 from any of the journal writers for such a statement or inference of such a statement.   This appears to be the first "editorial" reference leading future "historians", such as Stephen E. Ambrose, to conclude Toby got the Corp of Discovery lost.  No member of the Corp of Discovery ever used the term lost in describing the guiding abilities of Toby.]


Ambrose, Stephen E., Undaunted Courage, Copyright 1996. - Ambrose makes approximately four (4) references, in his editorializing, to Toby becoming either lost, confused, bewildered, embarrassed or of making errors in judgement in his work. Pages 293 (3) - 375 (1).

[This is the first mention by Ambrose of Toby becoming lost. However, no member of the expedition ever accused Toby of becoming lost.]

[Could it be Toby knew where he was going since the party was in need of food?]

[It is assumed Ambrose used as his basis for suggesting Toby becoming lost was this quotation by Captain William Clark, "we found the proper road which assends a high mountain road excessively bad. Take the wrong road"]

[Could it be that Toby never got the Corp of Discovery lost? Could it be he understood the need for provisions?  Could it be that this understanding lead him to take the party to an area he knew was frequented for the purpose of catching fish?  Could  the required use of sign language played a factor in this possible misconception?]

[Considering the Corp of Discovery had an entire month to rest and gather provisions and trade for superior horses might this not explain the need not to decend to the fishing weirs to gather further provisions.  After all, it was at the smoking place that their Nez Perce guides explained to the Captains how the Indians would do that very thing when traveling between the hunting grounds of Montana and their home in Idaho.]

Did Toby Get the Corp of Discovery Lost?

Answer: NO!

That's my editorial comment.