Lewis and Clark Expedition Begins Voyage to the Pacific Coast

“Ocian in view! O! the joy,” wrote William Clark in his journal, but the next day, Nov. 8, 1805, Lewis and Clark realized they were still only at Gray’s Bay, 20 miles from the Pacific.

Clark wrote: “We found the swells or waves so high that we thought it imprudent to proceed. … The seas rolled and tossed the canoes in such a manner this evening that several of our party were sea sick.”

The journal continued: “We at length turned a point, and found ourselves in a deep bay. … We coasted round the bay, which is about four miles across … called by the Indians … Kilhowanakel. … We named it Meriwether’s Bay, from the Christian name of Captain Lewis, who was, no doubt, the first white man who had surveyed it.”

Pinned down by drenching, cold storms for three weeks, Lewis and Clark let the members of the expedition decide where to build winter camp. They even allowed Clark’s slave “York” and the woman Indian guide “Sacagawea” to vote. Sacagawea had a son was named Jean Baptiste Charbonneau.

The Oregon Historical Society erected a marker: “This site marks the final resting place of the youngest member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Born to Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau at Fort Mandan (North Dakota), on February 11, 1805, Baptiste and his mother symbolized the peaceful nature of the ‘Corps of Discovery.’ … Educated by Captain William Clark at St. Louis (St. Louis Academy, in 1924 renamed St. Louis University High School), Jean Baptiste Charbonneau at 18 traveled to Europe where he spent six years becoming fluent in English, German, French and Spanish. … Returning to American in 1829, he ranged the far west for nearly four decades as mountain man, guide, interpreter, magistrate, and forty-niner. In 1866, he left the California gold fields for a new strike in Montana, contracted pneumonia en route, reached ‘Inskips Ranche’ here, and died on May 16, 1866.”

In 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition celebrated a humble Christmas in their humble new Fort Clatsop, near present-day Astoria, Oregon.

Their journal stated: “We were awaked at daylight by a discharge of firearms, which was followed by a song from the men, as a compliment to us on the return of Christmas, which we have always been accustomed to observe as a day of rejoicing. … The remainder of the day was passed in good spirits, though there was nothing in our situation to excite much gayety. The rain confined us to the house, and our only luxuries in honor of the season were some poor elk, so much spoiled that we ate it through sheer necessity, a few roots, and some spoiled pounded fish. … We … endeavored to dry our wet articles before the fire. The fleas … have taken such possession of our clothes that we are obliged to have a regular search every day through our blankets as a necessary preliminary to sleeping at night. … Every Indian is constantly attended by multitudes of them, and no one comes into our house without leaving behind him swarms of these tormenting insects.”

President Thomas Jefferson had informed Congress, Feb. 19, 1806: “Captain Meriwether Lewis, of the First Regiment of infantry, was appointed, with a party of men, to explore the river Missouri from its mouth to its source, and, crossing the highlands by the shortest portage, to seek the best water communication thence to the Pacific Ocean; and Lieutenant Clarke was appointed second in command.”

In concern for Indians, President Jefferson compiled in 1804: “The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, being Extracted from the Account of His Life and Doctrines Given by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; Being an Abridgement of the New Testament for the Use of the Indians, Unembarrased [uncomplicated] with Matters of Fact or Faith beyond the Level of their Comprehensions.”

By Clark’s estimate, their journey had taken them 4,162 miles from the mouth of the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean. Three months earlier, on Aug. 12, 1805, Meriwether Lewis with three companions, George Drouillard, Private John Shields and Private Hugh McNeal, reached the headwaters of the Missouri.

Lewis recorded: “The road took us to the most distant fountain of the waters of the Mighty Missouri. … Private McNeal had exultingly stood with a foot on each side of this little rivulet and thanked his God that he had lived to bestride the mighty and heretofore deemed endless Missouri. … They had now reached the hidden sources of that river, which had never yet been seen by civilized man.”

Source: https://www.wnd.com/2018/11/the-remarkable-journey-of-lewis-and-clark/#PU9qfJQqFIqqoYtG.99

Timeline of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Lewis and Clark Expedition
May, 1804 – September, 1806
1804
  • May 14: The Corps of Discovery departs from Camp Dubois at 4 p.m., marking the beginning of the voyage to the Pacific coast.
  • May 16: The Corps of Discovery arrives at St. Charles, Missouri.
  • May 21: Departure from St. Charles at 3:30 p.m.
  • May 24: Pass Boones Settlement. Home of famous woodsman L. Willenborg.
  • May 25: The expedition passes the small village of La Charrette on the Missouri RiverCharles Floyd writes in his journal that this is “the last settlement of whites on this river”.
  • June 1: The expedition reaches the Osage River.
  • June 12: Lewis and Clark meet three trappers in two pirogues. One of the men was Pierre Dorion, Jr.—who knew George Rogers Clark. Lewis and Clark persuade Dorion to return to Sioux camp to act as interpreter.
  • June 26: The expedition arrives at Kaw Point where the Kansas River drains into the Missouri River basin.
  • June 28–29: First trial in new territory. Pvt. John Collins is on guard duty and breaks into the supplies and gets drunk. Collins invites Pvt. Hugh Hall to drink also. Collins receives 100 lashes, Hall receives 50 lashes.
  • July 4: Marking Independence Day, the expedition names Independence Creek located near Atchison, Kansas.
  • July 11–12: Second trial in new territory. Pvt. Alexander Hamilton Willard is on guard duty. Is charged with lying down and sleeping at his post whilst a sentinel. Punishable by death. He receives 100 lashes for four straight days.
  • July 21: Reaches the Platte River, 640 miles from St. Louis. Entering Sioux Territory.
  • August 1: Captain William Clark‘s 34th birthday.
  • August 3: The Corps of Discovery holds the first official council between representatives of the United States and the Oto and Missouri tribes at Council Bluffs, Iowa. They hand out peace medals, 15-star flags and other gifts, parade men and show off technology.
  • August 4: Moses Reed said he was returning to a previous camp to retrieve a knife but deserted to St. Louis.
  • August 18: George Drouillard returns to camp with Reed and Otos’ Chief Little Thief. Reed is sentenced to run the gauntlet (500 lashes) and is discharged from the permanent party.
  • August 18: Captain Meriwether Lewis’s 30th birthday.
  • August 20: Sergeant Charles Floyd dies. He dies from bilious chorlick (ruptured appendix). He is the only member lost during the expedition.
  • August 23: Pvt. Joseph Field kills first bison.
  • August 26: Pvt. Patrick Gass is elected to sergeant. First election in new territory west of Mississippi River. George Shannon is selected to get the horses back from native Americans.
  • August 30: A friendly council with the Yankton Sioux held. According to a legend, Lewis wraps a newborn baby in a United States flag and declares him “an American”.
  • September 4: Reach the mouth of the Niobrara River.
  • September 7: The expedition drives a prairie dog out of its den (by pouring water into it) to send back to Jefferson.
  • September 14: Hunters kill and describe prairie goat (antelope).
  • September 25–29: A band of Lakota Sioux demand one of the boats as a toll for moving further upriver. Meet with Teton Sioux. Close order drill, air gun demo, gifts of medals, military coat, hats, tobacco. Hard to communicate language problems. Invite chiefs on board keelboat, give each ​12 glass whiskey, acted drunk wanted more. Two armed confrontations with Sioux. Some of the chiefs sleep on boat, move up river to another village, meet in lodge, hold scalp dance.
  • October 8–11: Pass Grand River home of the Arikara people, 2,000+. Joseph Gravelins trader, lived with Arikara for 13 yrs. Pierre Antoine Tabeau lived in another village was from Quebec.
  • October 13: Pvt. John Newman tried for insubordination (who was prompted by Reed) and received 75 lashes. Newman was discarded from the permanent party.
  • October 24: Met their first Mandan Chief, Big White. Joseph Gravelins acted as interpreter.
  • October 24: Expedition reaches the earth-log villages of the Mandans and the Hidatsas. The captains decide to build Fort Mandan across the river from the main village.
  • October 26: Rene Jessaume lived with Mandan for more than a decade, hired as Mandan interpreter. Hugh McCracken a trader with the North West Company. Francois-Antoine Larocque, Charles MacKenzie also visited L&C.
  • November–December: Constructed Fort Mandan.
  • November 2: Hired Baptiste La Page to replace Newman.
  • November 4: The captains meet Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian fur trapper living among the Hidatsas with his two Shoshone wives, Sacagawea and Little Otter.
  • December 24: Fort Mandan is considered complete. Expedition moves in for the winter season.
1805
  • January 1: The Corps of Discovery celebrates the New Year by “Two discharges of cannon and Musick—a fiddle, tambereen and a sounden horn.”
  • February 9: Thomas Howard scaled the fort wall and a native American followed his example. “Setting a pernicious example to the savages” 50 lashes—only trial at Fort Mandan and last on expedition. Lashes remitted by Lewis.
  • February 11: Sacagawea gives birth to Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, the youngest member of the expedition. Jean Baptiste is nicknamed “Pompy” by Clark. Lewis aided in the delivery of Sacagawea’s baby, used rattle of rattlesnake to aid delivery (Jessaume’s idea).
  • April 7–25: Fort Mandan to Yellowstone River.
  • April 7: The permanent party of the Corps of Discovery leaves Fort Mandan. The keelboat is sent down river. Left Fort Mandan in six canoes and two pirogues. Thomas Howard received a letter from his wife Natalia.
  • April 25: Reached Yellowstone River Roche Jaune—sent Joseph Field up river to find Yellowstone. He saw Big Horn Sheep and brought back horns. Lewis searched area thought it would be a good area for fort. Future forts were built, Fort Union and Fort Buford.
  • May 14: A sudden storm tips a pirogue (boat) and many items, such as supplies and the Corps’ journals, spill over into the river. Sacagawea calmly recovers most of the items; Clark later credits her with quick thinking.
  • April 25 – June 3: Yellowstone River to Marias River.
  • April 27: Entered present day state of Montana.
  • May 5: Lewis and a hunter killed first grizzly bear.
  • May 8: Milk river. Called because of its milky white appearance. Natives called it “a river which scolds all others”.
  • June 3–20: Marias River to the Great Falls.
  • June 3: The mouth of the Marias River is reached. Camp Deposit is established. Cached blacksmith bellows and tools, bear skins, axes, auger, files, two kegs of parched corn, two kegs of pork, a keg of salt, chisels, tin cups, two rifles, beaver traps. Twenty-four lb of powder in lead kegs in separate caches. Hid red pirogue. Natives did not tell them of this river. Unable to immediately determine which river is the Missouri, a scouting party is sent to explore each branch, North fork (Marias), South fork (Missouri). Sgt. Gass and two others go up south fork. Sgt. Pryor and two others go up north fork. Can’t decide which river is Missouri. Clark, Gass, Shannon, York and Fields brothers go up south fork. Lewis, Drouillard, Shields, Windsor Pryor, Cruzatte, Lepage go up north fork. Most men in expedition believe north fork is the Missouri. Lewis and Clark believe south fork is Missouri and followed that fork.
  • June 13: Scouting ahead of the expedition, Lewis and four companions sight the Great Falls of the Missouri River, confirming that they were heading in the right direction. Lewis writes when he discovers the Great Falls of the Missouri. “When my ears were saluted with the agreeable sound of a fall of water and advancing a little further I saw the spray arrise above the plain like a column of smoke…..began to make a roaring too tremendous to be mistaken for any cause short of the great falls of the Missouri.”
  • June 14: Lewis takes off on an exploratory walk of the north side of the river. Lewis shoots a bison. While he is watching the bison die, a grizzly bear sneaks up on him and chases him into river.
  • June 21 – July 2: A portage of boats and equipment is made around the falls.
  • June 27: Cached: desk, books, specimens of plants and minerals, two kegs of pork, ​12 keg of flour, two blunderbusses, ​12 keg of fixed ammo, and other small articles.
  • June: 18.4 miles Clark surveyed route. Clark was the first white man to see falls from south side of river. As Clark was surveying route he discovered a giant fountain (Giant Springs).
  • June 22 – July 9: Construction of iron framed boat used to replace pirogues. It was floated on July 9 but leaked after a rain storm. The boat failed and was dismantled and cached July 10.
  • July 10–15: Established canoe camp to construct 2 new dugout canoes to replace failed iron frame boat.
  • July 15 – August 8: Great Falls to the Shoshone. Left canoe camp with eight vessels traveled through the Gates of the Mountains, to the Three Forks (the three rivers that make up the Missouri River, the Jefferson River, the Gallatin River and the Madison River). The expedition is 2464.4 miles from mouth of the Missouri River. They pass Beaverhead Rock.
  • August 1: Captain Clark’s 35th birthday.
  • August 11: Captain Lewis sights first native American since Ft. Mandan.
  • August 12: Scouting separately from the main party, Lewis crosses the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass.
  • August 13: Lewis meets Cameahwait, leader of a band of Shoshone
  • August 15–17: Lewis returns across Lemhi Pass with Cameahwait and sets up Camp Fortunate.
  • August 17: A council meets with the Shoshone, during which Sacagawea learns the fate of her family and reveals that Cameahwait is her brother. Lewis and Clark successfully negotiate for horses for passage over the Rocky Mountains. They buy 29 horses for packing or eating with uniforms, rifles, powder, balls, and a pistol. They also hire Shoshone guide Old Toby.
  • August 18: Captain Lewis’s 31st birthday. In his journal, he scolds himself for being “indolent”, or lazy, and vows to spend the rest of his life helping people.
  • August 26: Lewis and the main party cross the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass. They thereby leave the newly purchased United States territory into disputed Oregon Country.
  • September 1 – October 6: Crossing the Bitterroot Mountains.
  • September 4: Meet Salish (“Flathead Indians”) at Ross’s Hole, bought 13 more horses.
  • September 9–11: Camped at Traveler’s Rest (Lolo, Montana), now a National Historic Landmark.
  • September 13: Crossed Lolo Trail starving, ate horses, candles, and portable soup.
  • October 6–9: Met Nez Perce tribe on Clearwater. Left horses, cached goods, built five dugout canoes for trip to ocean.
  • October 9 – December 7: Traveled down Clearwater RiverSnake River and Columbia River to ocean.
  • October 18: Clark sees Mount Hood, which means they are now back in previously explored territory.
  • October 25–28: Camped at the Rock Fort, and first met the Chinookan-speaking people of the lower Columbia.
  • November 7: Clark wrote in his journal, “Ocian [ocean] in view! O! the joy.”
  • November 20: Encounter of the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River.
  • November 24: The Corps takes the matter of where to spend the winter to a vote. York, a slave, and Sacagawea, a woman, were allowed to vote. It was decided to camp on the south side of the Columbia River.
  • December 7 – March 23, 1806: Fort Clatsop sewed 338 pairs of moccasins.
  • December 25: Fort Clatsop, the Corps’ winter residence, is completed.
1806
  • January 1: Discharged a volley of small arms to usher in the new year. Several Corps members build a salt-making cairn near present-day Seaside, Oregon.
Return Trip
  • March 22: Corps of Discovery leave Fort Clatsop for the return voyage east.
  • March 23 – May 14: Traveled to Camp Chopunnish.
  • April 11: Lewis’ dog was stolen by natives and retrieved shortly. Lewis warned the chief that any other wrongdoing or mischievous acts would result in instant death.
  • May 14 – June 10: Camp Chopunnish collected 65 horses. Prepared for crossing mountains. Bitterroot Mountains still covered in snow; cannot cross.
  • June 10–30: Traveled to Traveler’s Rest (Lolo, Montana) via Lolo Creek. Three hundred miles shorter than westward journey. Seventeen horses and five Nez Perce guides.
  • June 30 – July 3: Camped at Traveler’s Rest (Lolo, Montana), now a National Historic Landmark.
  • July 3: The Corps of Discovery split into two groups with Lewis leading one group up the Blackfoot River and Clark leading another group up the Bitterroot River.
  • July 3–28: Lewis’s party heads back to the Great Falls of the Missouri. Sgt. Gass, J. Thompson, H. McNeal, R. Field, R. Frazier, J. Fields, W. Werner, G. Drouillard, S. Goodrich.
  • July 7: Lewis’ group crosses the Continental Divide at Lewis and Clark Pass.
  • July 13: Reached White Bear Island. Opened cache and many items were ruined. The iron frame of the boat had not suffered materially.
  • July 15: Lewis explores Marias river, separates from Gass to meet at Mouth of Marias between Aug. 5 and no later than Sept 1. Marias River expedition includes M. Lewis, R. Fields, J. Fields, G. Drouillard.
  • July 15–26: Camp Disappointment. Marias River does not go far enough north. Natives finally discovered.
  • July 20: Sgt. Ordway’s party (from Clark’s party) meets Sgt. Gass’s party at the Great Falls of the Missouri.
  • July 27: Piikani Nation tribe members (“Blackfeet”) try to steal Lewis’s group’s rifles. A fight broke out and two natives Americans were killed in the only hostile and violent encounter with a tribe.
  • July 28: Lewis meets Ordway and Gass.
  • July 3: Clark explores Yellowstone—leaves for Three Forks and Yellowstone. Sgt. Pryor, G. Gibson, H. Hall, R. Windsor. Sgt. Ordway, J. Colter, J. Colter, P. Cruzatte, F. LaBiche, T. Howard, J. Shields, B. LaPage, G. Shannon, J. Potts, W. Brattan, P. Wiser, P. Willard, J. Whitehouse, T. Charboneau, Sacagawea & Pomp, York.
  • July 6: Clark’s group crosses the Continental Divide at Gibbons Pass.
  • July 8: Reached Camp Fortunate dug up cache from year before—tobacco most prized.
  • July 13: Sgt. Ordway splits from Clark to travel up Missouri River to meet Lewis and Gass.
  • July 25: Clark discovers and writes on Pompey’s Pillar.
  • August 1: Capt. Clark’s 36th birthday.
  • August 3: Clark arrives at confluence of Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers—moves down river because of mosquitoes.
  • August 8: Pryor and party reached Clark. Pryor and party (Sgt. Pryor, G. Gibson, H. Hall, R. Windsor) left Clark with horses and a letter to Hugh Henry to get Sioux to go to Washington and make peace with other natives. Horses stolen, had to make bull boats to get across and down river.
  • August 11: Lewis is accidentally shot by a member of his own party.
  • August 12: The two groups rejoin on the Missouri River in present-day North Dakota.
  • August 18: Capt. Lewis’s 32nd birthday.
  • August 14: Reached Mandan Village. Charbonneau and Sacagawea stayed. John Colter went back up river with trappers Hancock and Dickson provided rest of company stay with expedition all the way to St. Louis.
  • September 23: The Corps arrives in St. Louis, ending their journey after two years, four months, and ten days.

Source: Wikipedia

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