John Shields at the age of 34 was recruited by Lewis and
enlisted on October 19, 1803 becoming the expeditions oldest
enlisted member. Shields possessed immaculate blacksmith,
gunsmith, huntsmen, and craftsmanship skills, he was also a
The success Shields had with all of these things were
astonishing, there are over 70 references in journals made
about Shields’ success with hunting and his blacksmith
Captain Clark at Fort Mandan on February 6, 1805:
" the blacksmiths take a considerable quantity of corn today in payment
for their labour. the blacksmith's have proved a happy resource to
us in our present situation as I believe it would have been difficult to
have devised any other method to have procured corn from the natives.
the Indians are extravegantly fond of sheet iron of which they form
arrow-points and manufacter into instruments for scraping and dressing
their buffaloe robes."
Captain Lewis at the Marias River on June 10, 1805:
"Shields renewed the main-spring of my
air-gun we have been much
indebted to the ingenuity of this man on many occasions; without having
served any regular apprenticeship to any trade, he makes his own tools
principally and works extreemly well in either wood or metal, and in
this way has been extreemly servicable to us."
Captain Lewis at Fort Clatsop on March 20, 1806: " The
guns of Drewyer and Sergt. Pryor ( one of the "Nine men from
Kentucky") were both out of order. the first was repared with a
new lock, the old one having become unfit for uce; the second had the
cock screw broken which was replaced by a duplicate which had been
prepared for the lock at Harpers ferry where she was manufactured. but
for the precaution taken in bringing on those extra locks, and parts of
locks, in addition to the ingenuity of John Shields, most of our guns
would at this moment have been untirely unfit for use; but fortunately
for us I have it in my power here to record that they are all in good
A year after the expedition, he spent a year with a close
relative, Daniel Boone. Shields finally settled in near the
Falls of the Ohio in Corydon and it is believed that he was
a member of the Squire Boone Party that moved there. He
resides in Little Flock Cemetery in Harrison County, having
died in November of 1809.
Privates Alexander Willard & William Bratton ( one of the "Nine men from
Kentucky") also served as blacksmiths.