Manual Across America: The Lewis and Clark Expedition (Discovery & Exploration)

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He studied medicine, botany, astronomy and zoology and scrutinized existing maps and journals of the region. He also asked his friend Clark to co-command the expedition. But for all intents and purposes, the two shared equal responsibility. From there, Clark took the boat up the Mississippi River while Lewis continued along on horseback to collect additional supplies.

Exploration: Lewis and Clark [qylapukapilu.ml]

Louis, Missouri. He chose unmarried, healthy men who were good hunters and knew survival skills. The expedition party included 45 souls including Lewis, Clark, 27 unmarried soldiers, a French-Indian interpreter, a contracted boat crew and a slave owned by Clark named York.

Charles, Missouri and headed upstream on the Missouri River in the keelboat and two smaller boats at a rate of about 15 miles per day. Heat, swarms of insects and strong river currents made the trip arduous at best. To maintain discipline, Lewis and Clark ruled the Corps with an iron hand and doled out harsh punishments such as bareback lashing and hard labor for those who got out of line. On August 20, year-old Corps member Sergeant Charles Floyd died of an abdominal infection, possibly from appendicitis.

He was the only member of the Corps to die on their journey. Most of the land Lewis and Clark surveyed was already occupied by Native Americans. Lewis and Clark developed a first contact protocol for meeting new tribes. They also told the Indians that America owned their land and offered military protection in exchange for peace.

Others were wary of Lewis and Clark and their intentions and were openly hostile — though seldom violent. But they were no match for the military might of the Corps and moved on. In early November, the Corps came across villages of friendly Mandan and Minitari Indians near present-day Washburn, North Dakota , and decided to set up camp downriver for the winter along the banks of the Missouri River. The Corps spent the next five months at Fort Mandan hunting, forging and making canoes, ropes, leather clothing and moccasins while Clark prepared new maps.

They allowed his pregnant Shoshone Indian wife Sacagawea to join him on the expedition. Sacagawea had been kidnapped by Hidatsa Indians at age 12 and then sold to Charbonneau.


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On February 11, , Sacagawea gave birth to a son and named him Jean Baptiste. She became an invaluable and respected asset for Lewis and Clark. On April 7, , Lewis and Clark sent some of their crew and their keelboat loaded with zoological and botanical samplings, maps, reports and letters back to St. Louis while they and the rest of the Corps headed for the Pacific. The group next headed out of Lemhi Pass and crossed the Bitterroot Mountain Range using the harrowing Lolo Trail and the help of many horses and a handful of Shoshone guides.

This leg of the journey proved to be the most difficult as many of them suffered from frostbite, hunger, dehydration, bad weather, freezing temperatures and exhaustion.

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Still, despite the merciless terrain and conditions, not a single soul was lost. The Indians took in the weary travelers, fed them and helped them regain their health. As the Corps recovered, they built dugout canoes, then left their horses with the Nez Perce and braved the Clearwater River rapids to Snake River and then to Columbia River. They reportedly ate dog meat along the way instead of wild game.

A bedraggled and harried Corps finally reached the stormy Pacific Ocean in November They decided to make camp near present-day Astoria, Oregon , and started building Fort Clatsop on December 10 and moved in by Christmas. It was not an easy winter at Fort Clatsop. Everyone struggled to keep themselves and their supplies dry and fought an ongoing battle with tormenting fleas and other insects. Almost everyone was weak and sick with stomach problems likely caused by bacterial infections , hunger or influenza-like symptoms.

On March 23, , the Corps left Fort Clatsop for home. They retrieved their horses from the Nez Perce and waited until June for the snow to melt to cross the mountains into the Missouri River Basin. The two groups planned to rendezvous where the Yellowstone and Missouri met in North Dakota. Department of the Interior. Two days later, at Marias River near present-day Cut Bank, Montana, Lewis and his group encountered eight Blackfeet warriors and were forced to kill two of them when they tried to steal weapons and horses. The location of the clash became known as Two Medicine Fight Site.

It was the only violent episode of the expedition, although soon after the Blackfeet fight, Lewis was accidentally shot in his buttocks during a hunting trip; the injury was painful and inconvenient but not fatal. On August 12, Lewis and Clark and their crews reunited and dropped off Sacagawea and her family at the Mandan villages. They then headed down the Missouri River — with the currents moving in their favor this time — and arrived in St. Lewis and Clark returned to Washington , D. Not only had they completed their mission of surveying the Louisiana Territory from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean — though they failed to identify a coveted Northwest Passage across the continent — they did so against tremendous odds with just one death and little violence.

The Corps had traveled more than 8, miles, produced invaluable maps and geographical information, identified at least animal specimens and botanical samples and initiated peaceful relations with dozens of Native American tribes. Both Lewis and Clark received double pay and 1, acres of land for their efforts.


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  • Clark remained well-respected and lived a successful life. Lewis, however, was not an effective governor and drank too much. He never married or had children and died in of two gunshot wounds, possibly self-inflicted. Building Fort Clatsop. Corps of Discovery.

    Lewis and Clark Expedition

    National Park Service: Gateway Arch. Expedition Timeline. Lewis and Clark reached their staging point at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers near St. Louis , Missouri in December There they camped for the winter at the mouth of Wood River, on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.

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    Over the winter, the two captains recruited young woodsmen, boatmen, and enlisted soldiers who volunteered from nearby army outposts. By spring, the group, comprised of approximately 40 men, began their historic journey on May 14, Through the long, hot summer, they laboriously worked their way westward on the Missouri River, soon passing Le Rochette, the last white settlement on the Missouri River. From there they continued through what is now Kansas City, Missouri , then along the present-day borders of Kansas , Nebraska , and Iowa. Along the way, the group experienced problems within its ranks, including disciplinary floggings, two desertions, and a man dishonorably discharged for mutiny.

    On August 20, the Corps of Discovery suffered its first and only death when Sergeant Charles Floyd died from what was thought to be an attack of acute appendicitis.

    Louisiana & Lewis & Clark

    While in what is now South Dakota , a band of Teton Sioux tried to detain their boats, but when the explorers showed their superior weapons, they were allowed to sail on. On the north bank of the Missouri River, they constructed a log fort which they called Fort Mandan , in honor of the local Indians. By this time the expedition had traveled approximately 1, miles.

    The explorers spent the winter hunting, gaining information about the route ahead, and making tools that they would later trade for supplies. Lewis and Clark decided to hire Charbonneau and Sacagawea to accompany them, acting as guides and interpreters. Along the way, Sacagawea proved even more helpful than they had originally thought, as she also acted as a peacemaker and negotiated for horses and supplies along the way.

    The expedition continued up the Missouri River and into Montana Territory, but as they neared the Rocky Mountains the flow of the Missouri River began to lessen. Although, they had believed that the Missouri would connect to another great river leading to the Pacific, the expedition found that such an easy connection did not exist. The expedition continued by land, traveling across much of present-day Northern Idaho until reaching the Clearwater and Snake Rivers, where they again could journey by boat. The expedition moved more quickly by water, finally reaching Columbia River in mid-October.

    Continuing on, they passed Celilo Falls and through what is now Portland, Oregon. In November, , some 18 months after leaving St. Louis, Lewis spotted Mt. Hood, a mountain known to be very close to the ocean.

    National Geographic: Lewis & Clark: The Great Journey West (2002)

    However, winter was upon them so they soon set up a permanent winter dwelling south of the Columbia River, near present-day Astoria, Oregon, which they called Fort Clatsop. The expedition spent the self-described long, wet winter preparing for the trip home by boiling salt from the ocean and hunting elk and other wildlife. The explorers started their journey home on March 23, and on their return Lewis and Clark split up. In August they met on the Missouri River and arrived back in St. Louis on September 23, Throughout the journey, Lewis and Clark constantly collected samples of plants, animals, and birds, while also documenting encounters with the many Indians they met along the way.

    Their detailed observations on their 8, mile round trip journey of climate, landscape, plant communities, and human and animal populations were valuable to an expanding nation.