Lewis and Clark Expedition
The little known facts of the American Indians, Lewis and Clark, and western expansion into the Oregon Country enhance the picture to our past. Often these historical tidbits are left out because they do not support the writer’s historical agenda.
Meriwether Lewis was President Jefferson’s private Secretary. He and the President discussed a Voyage of Discovery to the Pacific for several years before Congress, February 28th, 1803, appropriated twenty-five hundred dollars for the expedition. At the time, the President did not have permission from France to travel through the Louisiana Territory; this was not conveyed to Congress before passage of the bill. Jefferson considered it a scientific endeavor, and if necessary, would, proceed without permission of the French or Spanish governments. Purchase of the Louisiana Territory, April 30th, 1803, removed any problems with a foreign government…Mountains of Stone contains an abridged account of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
President Jefferson charged the ‘Voyage of Discovery’ with: numbers and locations of Indian tribes; collecting plant, animal, and rock specimens; geology of the country; longitude and latitude of rivers and mountain passes; detailed maps and journals. The expedition was to investigate Indian commerce, Louisiana Territory’s boundaries, augment a claim to the Oregon country, and decide the feasibility of an overland route for the China and West Indies trade.
All of the original party, except Captain Clark’s slave York and George Drouillard, were in the army. Enlisted men were paid five dollars/month; Sergeants eight dollars/month; Drouillard hired as a hunter and a sign-talker twenty-five dollars/month; Clark thirty dollars/month; Lewis forty dollars/month…George Drouillard is a major character in Mountains of Stone.
Congress appropriated twenty-five hundred dollars to cover the cost of the Expedition, but President Jefferson gave Lewis a one-page letter pledging “the faith of the United States” to reimburse anyone for any goods or services Lewis needed. This gave the expedition a limitless line of credit. Even with the use of soldiers, army equipment, and supplies, the actual cost of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was thirty-eight thousand seven hundred and twenty-two dollars.
Clark was a Second Lieutenant. Lewis promised him equal command, but the War Department made him a Second Lieutenant. To Captain Lewis’s credit, he shared the command equally as he had promised. None of the men knew Clark was not a Captain. A few years ago, the United States Congress promoted Clark to the rank of Captain.
Today, the only physical mark left of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is Clark’s name carved on Pompey’s Pillar near Hibble, Montana. Named Pompey’s Tower by Clark, the name was later changed to Pompey’s Pillar. Clark named the sandstone outcropping on the Yellowstone River for Sakakawea’s eighteen-month old son, Baptiste. The expedition members called the little boy, Pomp.
The manifest of the Corps of Discovery listed as Indian presents: 12 dozen pocket mirrors; 4,600 sewing needles; 144 small scissors; 10 pounds of sewing thread; silk ribbons; ivory combs; handkerchiefs; yards of bright-colored cloth; 130 rolls of tobacco; tomahawks that doubled as pipes; 288 knives; 8 brass kettles; vermilion face paint; 33 pounds of tiny beads of assort colors…Irvin W. Anderson, Inside the Corps, PBS Online – Lewis and Clark.
Private John Shields, a gun smith, carpenter and blacksmith, built a forge adjacent to Fort Mandan. Privates William Bratton and Alexander Hamilton Willard helped at the forge. Iron goods made by the blacksmiths were traded for food, primarily corn. Without the blacksmiths, the Expedition may not made it through the winter, or had enough of their original trade goods to continue.
When Lewis and Clark reached the Nez Perce, a warrior had one of Shields’ trade axes.
Le Borgne (One Eye) praised the Lewis and Clark blacksmiths: Had I these white warriors in the upper plains, my young men on horseback would soon do for them, as they would do for so many ‘wolves,’ for there are only two sensible men among them, the worker of iron and the mender of guns.
The original expedition lost three members: Sergeant Charles Floyd died (near Sioux City, Iowa); Moses Reed deserted; John Newman was insubordinate to Lewis. After Reed was caught, a court of enlisted men sentenced Reed and Newman to run a gauntlet (Reed four times), and then be drummed out of the service….flogging was a common form of punishment for infractions committed by the enlisted men.
Corporal Warfington with five soldiers, the two discharged men, and several French traders returned the keelboat to St. Louis. The boat held: two live animals (a prairie dog and a magpie); thirty-nine pressed plants; a skin and skeleton of each species of animal trapped or shot coming up the Missouri.
Nineteen of the plants, the prairie dog, mule deer, antelope, jack rabbit, elk, bighorn sheep, badger, coyote, and sharp-tail grouse were new to science, or not thought to have existed in America. In addition to the plant and animal specimens, there were detailed river maps, weather charts, and information on the location, numbers, strengths, and habits of fifty-three Indian tribes.
On his return, Captain Lewis petitioned Congress on behalf of the enlisted men. On the 3rd of March 1807, Congress authorized double pay and three hundred and twenty acres of land for each man, including Touissant Charbonneau, John Newman, and Richard Warfington…after his court martial, the conduct of John Newman had been exemplary. Lewis and Clark received double pay and sixteen hundred acres of land each. Despite their many contributions, York and Sakakawea received nothing…not even a thank you. Several years later, Clark did grant York his freedom.
Governor Lewis left St. Louis in early September 1809, to meet with the President concerning accounting irregularities. On the boat, he attempted to kill himself, but boatmen stopped him. The Commanding Officer, Gilbert C. Russell, at Fort Pickering in Tennessee, placed Governor Lewis under the post surgeon’s care. Lewis appeared to recover, and when he continued his journey, the Chickasaw Agent and several others accompanied him.
A few days later, Governor Lewis started mumbling to himself, so the party stopped at a farmhouse owned by a Mr. Grinder. During the night, Governor Lewis shot himself in the head and again in the chest. The wounds were not fatal, and when a servant brought his breakfast, Lewis sat on the bed cutting himself with a razor.
Before he died, October 11, 1809, Governor Lewis told the servant he wanted to deprive his enemies the pleasure and honor of destroying him. Despite recent claims Lewis was murdered none of the people who knew him best–President Thomas Jefferson, Captain William Clark, George Drouillard–were surprised at his suicide. . . Those Tremendous Mountains by David Freeman Hawke.
Sergeant Patrick Gass published the first journal on the “Corps of Discovery” in 1807. Gass died in 1870 at the age of 99. He was the longest surviving member. Nicholas Biddle published a condensed paraphrase of the original records in 1814. Rueben Gold Thwaites edited the first complete and comprehensive work on Lewis and Clark in 1904…one hundred years after the expedition left St. Louis.
Sakakawea – Sacajawea – Sacagawea:
There is considerable confusion over the name and the time of Sacajawea’s death. The Hidatsa named her Bird Woman, and the Hidatsa pronunciation is Sakakawea. Sacajawea is the Shoshone word for Boat-launcher, not Bird Woman.
On December 20, 1812, Manuel Lisa’s clerk at Fort Manuel, John E. Luttig records: this evening the wife of Charbonneau, a squaw died of putrid fever. She was the best woman at the fort, aged about 25 years. She left a fine infant child. The next spring, Luttig took Sakakawea’s baby girl, Lizette, to St. Louis. Records there show Captain Clark adopted Sakakawea’s daughter and eight year old son, Baptiste (Pomp). . . Journal of a Fur Trading Expedition 1812-1813. John C. Luttig.
Sacajawea is portrayed as the guide and interpreter for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. There is little evidence in Lewis or Clark’s writings to support this. For her to function as the Shoshone translator, the translation had to be taken through four languages by three illiterate people before it was conveyed to Captain Lewis. How much Captain Lewis depended on this is questionable?
On August 14, 1805, Lewis wrote:
“The means I had of communicating with these people was by way of Drewyer [Drouillard] who understood perfectly the common language of jesticulation or signs which seems to be universally understood by all the Nations we have yet seen. It is true that this language is imperfect and liable to error but is much less so than would be expected. The strong parts of the ideas are seldom mistaken.”
Captain Lewis referred to Touissant Charbonneau, as a man of no particular merit. Sacajawea’s husband admitted years later he never understood Hidatsa, and how much Hidatsa could Sacajawea have learned as a slave in a Hidatsa Village. A good account of the value of Charbonneau to the Expedition is given in http://www.fact-index.com/t/to/toussaintcharbonneau.html.
As a guide, Sacajawea basically recognized three areas on the whole journey: the Beaverhead, the Three Forks, and Bozeman Pass. Whenever Captain Lewis was ahead of the party searching for Sacajawea’s people, not once did he take her with him….Sacajawea contributed a great deal to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, but not as an interpreter or as a guide.
Crossing the Missouri in a pirogue, a strong wind panicked Charbeneau and he let go of the tiller. The boat nearly capsized and Sacajawea managed to save several important documents and some equipment. Without her efforts the expedition would have had to return to St. Louis.
On August 16th, 1805 at the Lemhi-Shoshone village, Lewis wrote:, …we should be disappointed in obtaining horses, which would vastly retard and increase the labour of our voyage and I feared might so discourage the men as to defeat the expedition altogether.
Sakakawea Hidatsa Village Lodge Circles
Sacajawea’s people, the Lemhi-Shoshone, provided the Lewis and Clark Expedition with horses and a Shoshone guide named Toby. Without the horses and the guide, the Expedition could not have gotten over Lost Trail and Lolo passes before winter and would have had to turn back.
The circles in the ground are what is left of the Hidatsa Village where Sakakawea lived as a Hidatsa slave. The village is near the junction of the Knife and Missouri rivers. The lodges were forty- to fifty-feet across with a log framework supporting the dirt roof. In this area were three Hidatsa Villages and two Mandan Villages. The Arikara, Mandan, and Hidatsa used similar type lodges.
These permanent villages on the Missouri River were the centers of trade between the Plains Indians and fur traders from the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company of Canada. Five miles down the Missouri River was Fort Mandan; the 1804-1805 winter quarters of Lewis and Clark.
Press Release – January 17, 2001.
President Clinton honored three members of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery in recognition of their courage and contributions to our nation’s history: promoted William Clark to Captain in the regular army; Honorary Sergeant, Regular Army to Sacagawea; Honorary Sergeant, Regular Army to York.
The Lewis and Clark article was written by Ned Eddins of Afton, Wyoming.
Permission is given for material from this site to be used for school research papers.
Citation: Eddins, Ned. (article name) Thefurtrapper.com. Afton, Wyoming. 2002.
This site is maintained through the sale of my two historical novels. Detailed information on the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the fur trade with the upper Missouri and Plains Indians is covered in my first historical novel Mountains of Stone:
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James Richard Fromm
[The Shoshone Indian guide Toby or Tobe was]…Never referred to by any journal writer in the Corp of Discovery as “Old Toby” or “Tobey”. During the 105 days they spent in Idaho Captains Meriwether Lewis & William Clark, Sergeants John Ordway & Patrick Gass and Private Joseph Whitehouse made some form of a reference to their “Shoshone guide” on approximately seventy-eight (78) occasions.
I find it incredulous that numerous “authors” have propagated the misconception any member of the Corp of Discovery ever referred to the “Shoshone Indian Guide” as “Old Toby” or “Tobey”. This demonstrates how false information can spread like a virus by non-inquisitive “historians” and change even the course of history. So, who is responsible in the written record for turning this virus loose?
Didn’t leave a name.
A tribe forming a dialect division of the Chinookian stock near the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington, to a point up that river to near the present city of Rainier on the south bank. In 1806 Lewis and Clark estimated them at 300. The Killaniucks, Clatsops, Chinooks, Cathlahmahs, and Wac-ki-a-cums resembled each other in dress and manner. About 50 or 60 Cathlamet were reported in 1849. The remnants of the Cathlamet may have moved to the Yakima Reservation with the Wishram, or to the Quinault Reservation with the mixed Chinook-Chehalis, but as distinct groups they no longer exist.
Roger Pariseau: To the reader who did not leave a name.
Reference: “They no longer exist as distinct groups” First, you need to do quite a bit more research regarding your statements. 2nd, try to convince my wife, who is able to trace her ancestry and those of the rest of her extended family to being of the Tchinouk Nation, that “they no longer exist”.
P.S. Please, if you can’t get your facts straight, learn to properly spell the names of the First Nations.