May 14, 1804 -
Camp River Dubois, Illinois
- The expedition began. Clark led the men in three
keelboat and two pirogues of over 40 feet in length, one
painted red, the other white. Clark wrote: "Rained the fore
part of the day. I determined to go as far as St. Charles a
french Village 7 leagues up the Missourie, and wait at that
place untill Capt. Lewis could finish the business in which
he was obliged to attend to at St. Louis and join me by Land
from that place 24 miles; by this movement I calculated that
if any alterations in the loading of the Vestles or other
Changes necessary, that they might be made at St. Charles. I
set out at 4 oClock P.M., in the presence of many of the
neighbouring inhabitants, and proceeded on under a jentle
brease up the Missourie to the upper Point of the 1st Island
4 Miles and camped on the Island which is Situated Close on
the right (or Starboard) Side, and opposit the mouth of a
Small Creek Called Cold water, a heavy rain this after
May 16, 1804 -
St. Charles, Missouri, was a town of 450 people in 1804.
Cruzatte and Francois Labiche, who were half-French and
half-Omaha Indian, enlisted in the Corps of Discovery.
May 20, 1804 -
St. Charles, Missouri - Clark sent 20 of the men to the
Catholic Church in St. Charles. Lewis rode overland from St.
Louis to St. Charles. May 21, 1804. The expedition set out
from St. Charles, Missouri.
June 23, 1804 - Clark camped on shore after rounding
Jackass Bend in Ray County, Missouri; the men camped on an
island across from the later site of
Fort Osage,built in 1808 under the supervision of Indian
Agent William Clark.
June 26-28, 1804 - Kansas City, Kansas - The men dried
articles that had been soaked by river water; 8 or 10
hunters were sent out, and saw the first buffalo of the
July 4, 1804 - Near the site of modern
the expedition celebrated the 28th year of American
Independence. Joseph Field was bitten by a snake. The bow
gun on the boat was fired and a gill of whiskey was issued
to each man in celebration of Independence Day.
July 24, 1804 - For several days the Corps stayed at a site they
called "Camp White Catfish," within the area of Council Bluffs, Iowa and
Omaha, Nebraska. Clark copied a map, while Lewis readied letters for
President Jefferson; potentially they wanted to send this material back
eastward with a few of the men, but decided against it. Many of the men
were hunting, although game was scarce.
Those who fished
were more successful and caught catfish, from which the name of the
camp was derived.
August 1, 1804- At what the Corps called the Council Bluff Site,
Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, Nebraska, they waited for
Indian chiefs to arrive for a council. This was William Clark's 34th
birthday, and he recorded "This being my birth day I order'd a Saddle of
fat vennison, an Elk fleece and a bevartail to be cooked and a Desert of
Cheries, Plumbs, Raspberries currents and grapes of a Supr quality.
3 Deer and an Elk
killed to day The Indians not yet arrived. a Cool fine eveninge
Musquetors verry troublsom, the Praries Contain Cheres, Apple, Grapes,
Currents, Raspberry, Gooseberry Hastlenuts and a great vairety of Plants
and flours not common to the U S What a
field for a Botents
and a natriless [naturalist]".
August 2, 1804 - Council Bluff site,
Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, Nebraska
- At sunset, six Otoe chiefs and their warriors, with a French
interpreter, Mr. Faufong, arrived; on the morning of August 3, Lewis and
Clark gave out peace medals to the Otoe and Missouri chiefs.
August 11, 1804 - The camp was at what is today Badger Lake, near
Whiting, Iowa -
and Clark honored Black Bird, a chief of the Omaha Indians who died
four years earlier, by climbing to the top of his mound grave with ten
men and planting a flag. They stated in the journals that over 400
Indians, including Black Bird, had died of smallpox in an epidemic four
August 18, 1804 - near modern Homer, Nebraska - this was Capt. Lewis'
30th birthday. A
was held for
Pvt. Moses B.
who had deserted and was tracked down, captured and returned to
camp. He was expelled from the permanent party and ordered to return to
St. Louis from the Mandan villages in the spring - in addition, he had
to run the gauntlet four times through. The Otoe chiefs thought this
punishment harsh until Reed's great offense was explained to them. An
evening meeting was held with the Otoe chiefs, followed by a dance which
lasted until 11 p.m. An extra gill, a ¼ of a pint, of whiskey was issued
to each man.
August 20, 1804 - Near modern
Sioux City, Iowa
- The only member of the Corps of Discovery to die on the
expedition, Sgt. Charles Floyd succumbed to what is now believed to have
been appendicitis. The military funeral was conducted by Capt. Lewis.
August 22, 1804 -
Elk Point, South Dakota. First vote west of the
Mississippi River. Lewis and Clark recognized the
necessity to select a leader, to replace Sgt. Floyd.
It was determined to leave the choice to the men.
Therefore, the first primary election took place that
evening around a campfire. The three nominated,
William Bratton, Patrick Gass, and George Gibson
anxiously awaited as the ballots were counted. Captain
Lewis announced that
received 19 votes (majority) and was duly elected
August 23, 1804 - One mile southeast of
Vermillion, South Dakota. A wide variety of wildlife was sighted on
this day; Joseph Field killed the expedition's
August 25, 1804 -
Joseph Field, Colter,
Labiche, E. Cann, Warfington, Fraser and
York walked to
Spirit Mound, seven miles north of
Vermillion, South Dakota,said by Indians to be a place of evil or
mischievous spirits. ". . . in an emence Plain a high Hill is situated,
and appears of a Conic form, and by the different nations of Indians in
this quarter is Suppose to be the residence of Deavils. That they are in
human form with remarkable large heads, and about 18 Inches high, that
they are very watchfull and are arm'd with Sharp arrows with which they
Can Kill at a great distance; they are Said to kill all persons who are
So hardy as to attempt to approach the hill; they State that tradition
informs them that many Indians have Suffered by those little people, and
among others Three Mahar men fell a sacrefise to their merceless furry
not many Years Sence. So Much do the Maha, Soues, Ottoes and other
neighbouring nations believe this fable, that no Consideration is
Suffecient to induce them to approach the hill."
August 30, 1804 -
Calumet Bluff, at modern Gavins Point Dam, South Dakota
- A council was held with the Yankton Sioux at which Clark made a
speech and distributed presents and peace medals. The
danced until late at night on the Dakota side of the river.
Sept. 7, 1804 - The camp was at "the
Tower,"four miles southeast of the Nebraska/South Dakota border on
the Nebraska side, near Niobrara National Scenic Riverway. The men
investigated a prairie dog town and described it for science.
Sept 11, 1804 - Private
Shannon was found. He survived on the prairie for
12 days on a few wild grapes and a rabbit.
Sept. 24, 1804 - Within the boundaries of modern
Pierre, South Dakota,the Corps met and had a confrontation with the
Lakota or "Teton" Sioux. The following day the men raised a flag and put
up the sail awning for a council. The Lakota began to arrive about 11
a.m.; after a ceremony much like those of the past few months with other
Indian tribes, the Lakota leaders feigned drunkenness and asked for more
presents, declaring they would not let the Corps go on without them. The
Second Chief, called the Partisan, threatened Clark, who drew his sword
and called the men to arms. A potentially disastrous confrontation was
finally diffused when the Lakota backed down.
October 26, 1804 -
the first Mandan earth lodge village, near Stanton, North Dakota -
Lewis and Clark finally arrived at the Mandan villages - 1,600 miles by
their estimate from Camp River Dubois. There were two Mandan villages
and three villages inhabited by the Hidatsa and Arahami tribes. These
three groups lived in close proximity and harmoniously, sometimes
joining forces against their principal enemy, the Sioux. They traded
their agricultural products with other tribes in the region. Lewis and
Clark estimated that the population of the five villages, located within
an 8 x 2 mile rectangle, totaled 4,400. About 1,400 of these people were
adult males, 700 Mandans, 650 Hidatsas, and 50 Amahamis. Clark recorded:
"We came too and camped about 1/2 a mile below the 1st Mandan town . . .
soon after our arrival many men womin and children flocked down to See
us. Capt. Lewis walked to the village with the principal Chiefs and our
interpreters, my Rhumatic complaint increasing I could not go." Lewis
and Clark had already decided to stay for the winter with the friendly
Mandan and Hidatsa Indians, where food would be available. The Indian
villages added a measure of protection as well, and the explorers were
interested in noting the customs of these fascinating people.
Nov. 2, 1804 - Near modern
Stanton, North Dakota. One of Lewis and Clark's first tasks was to
survey the area to find a suitable spot for their winter camp. A place
was selected on the east, or north, bank of the Missouri about 6 air
miles below the mouth of the Knife River on a point of low ground
sheltered by bluffs. It was directly opposite the lower of the five
Mandan villages. On November 3 the men set to work building Fort Mandan.
It apparently consisted of two rows of huts, or rooms. Each row
contained four units which were connected by a palisade on the river
side. The fort was not finished until Christmas Day, but the men moved
in before that because of the cold weather. The actual site of Fort
Mandan has been washed away and lies partially underwater, although the
State of North Dakota has built a replica
about 10 miles downriver. Clark recorded: "This Morning at Daylight
I went down the river with 4 men to look for a proper place to winter
proceeded down the river three miles and found a place well Supld. with
wood and returned, Captain Lewis went to the Village to here what they
had to say and I fell down, and formed a Camp, near where a Small Camp
of Indians were hunting cut down the Trees around our Camp . . . "
Nov. 4, 1804- Fort Mandan, North Dakota - Toussaint Charbonneau was
signed as an interpreter for the coming journey, along with his Shoshoni
Dec. 17, 1804 -
Fort Mandan, North Dakota- The temperature was 43° below zero; Mr.
Hugh Heney of the Northwest Company made sketches for the captains of
the country between the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers, and a
Mandan man made sketches of the land to the west.
Dec. 25, 1804 -
Fort Mandan, North Dakota
- Sgt. Patrick Gass
recorded that "Flour, dried apples, pepper, and other articles were
distributed in the different messes to enable them to celebrate
Christmas in a proper and social manner." Three rations of brandy were
served during the day, which was mainly spent in dancing. Clark
mentioned giving the men Taffia, which was a cheap form of rum made in
the West Indies: "I was awakened before Day by a discharge of 3 platoons
from the Party and the french, the men merrily Disposed, I give them all
a little Taffia and permited 3 cannon fired, at raising Our flag, Some
Men Went out to huntr and the others to Danceing and Continued untill 9
oClock P.M. when the frolick ended.
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