Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 1804 - Part Two
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: August 8, 1804 - August 15, 1804

 

This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates August 8, 1804 - August 15, 1804.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates August 8, 1804 - August 15, 1804

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 1804
 

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 8, 1804 - August 15, 1804
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: August 8, 1804 - August 15, 1804

August 8, 1804
August 8. At two miles distance, this morning we came to a part of the river, where there was concealed timber difficult to pass. The wind was from the N.W. and we proceeded in safety. At six miles, a river empties on the northern side, called by the Sioux Indians, Eaneahwadepon, or Stone river; and by the French, Petite Riviere des Sioux, or Little Sioux river. At its confluence it is eighty yards wide. Our interpreter, Mr. Durion, who has been to the sources of it, and knows the adjoining country, says that it rises within about nine miles of the river Desmoines; that within fifteen leagues of that river it passes through a large lake nearly sixty miles in circumference, and divided into two parts by rocks which approach each other very closely: its width is various: it contains many islands, and is known by the name of the Lac d'Esprit: it is near the Dogplains, and within four days march of the Mahas. The country watered by it, is open and undulating, and may be visited in boats up the river for some distance. The Desmoines, he adds, is about eighty yards wide where the Little Sioux river approaches it: it is shoaly, and one of its principal branches is called Cat river. Two miles beyond this river is a long island which we called Pelican island, from the numbers of that animal which were feeding on it: one of these being killed, we poured into his bag five gallons of water. An elk, too, was shot, and we had again to remark that snakes are rare in this part of the Missouri. A meridian altitude near the Little Sioux river made the latitude 41 42' 34". We encamped on the north, having come sixteen miles.

August 9, 1804
August 9. A thick fog detained us until past seven o'clock, after which we proceeded with a gentle breeze from the southeast. After passing two sandbars we reached, at seven and a half miles, a point of highland on the left, near which the river has forced itself a channel across a peninsula, leaving on the right a circuit of twelve or eighteen miles, which is now recognised by the ponds and islands it contains. At seventeen and a half miles, we reached a point on the north, where we encamped. The hills are at a great distance from the river for the last several days; the land, on both sides low, and covered with cottonwood and abundance of grape vines. An elk was seen to-day, a turkey also shot, and near our camp is a beaver den: the mosquitoes have been more troublesome than ever for the two last days.

August 10, 1804
August 10. At two and a half miles, we came to a place, called Coupee a Jacques, where the river has found a new bed, and abridged a circuit of several miles: at twelve and a half miles, a cliff of yellow stone on the left. This is the first highland near the river above the Council-bluff. After passing a number of sandbars we reached a willow island at the distance of twenty-two and a half miles, which we were enabled to do with our oars and a wind from the S.W. and encamped on the north side.

August 11, 1804
August 11. After a violent wind from the N.W. attended with rain, we sailed along the right of the island. At nearly five miles, we halted on the south side for the purpose of examining a spot where one of the great chiefs of the Mahas named Blackbird, who died about four years ago of the smallpox, was buried. A hill of yellow soft sandstone rises from the river in bluffs of various heights, till it ends in a knoll about three hundred feet above the water; on the top of this a mound, of twelve feet diameter at the base and six feet high, is raised over the body of the deceased king; a pole of about eight feet high is fixed in the centre; on which we placed a white flag, bordered with red, blue, and white. The Blackbird seems to have been a personage of great consideration; for ever since his death he is supplied with provisions, from time to time, by the superstitious regard of the Mahas. We descended to the river and passed a small creek on the south, called, by the Mahas, Waucandipeeche, (Great Spirit is bad.) Near this creek and the adjoining hills the Mahas had a village, and lost four hundred of their nation by the dreadful malady which destroyed the Blackbird. The meridian altitude made the latitude 42 1' 3-8/10" north. We encamped, at seventeen miles distance, on the north side in a bend of the river. During our day's course it has been crooked; we observed a number of places in it where the old channel is filled up, or gradually becoming covered with willow and cottonwood; great numbers of herons are observed to-day, and the mosquitoes annoy us very much.

August 12, 1804
August 12. A gentle breeze from the south, carried us along about ten miles, when we stopped to take meridian altitude, and sent a man across to our place of observation: yesterday he stepped nine hundred and seventy-four yards, and the distance we had come round, was eighteen miles and three quarters. The river is wider and shallower than usual. Four miles beyond this bend a bluff begins, and [44]continues several miles; on the south it rises from the water at different heights, from twenty to one hundred and fifty feet, and higher as it recedes on the river: it consists of yellow and brown clay, with soft sandstone imbeded in it, and is covered with timber, among which may be observed some red cedar: the lands on the opposite side are low and subject to inundation, but contain willows, cottonwood, and many grapes. A prairie-wolf came near the bank and barked at us; we attempted unsuccessfully to take him. This part of the river abounds in beaver. We encamped on a sand-island in a bend to the north, having made twenty miles and a quarter.

August 13, 1804
August 13. Set out at daylight with a breeze from the southeast, and passed several sandbars. Between ten and eleven miles, we came to a spot on the south, where a Mr. Mackay had a trading establishment in the year 1795 and 1796, which he called Fort Charles. At fourteen miles, we reached a creek on the south, on which the Mahas reside, and at seventeen miles and a quarter, formed a camp on a sandbar, to the south side of the river, opposite the lower point of a large island. From this place sergeant Ordway and four men were detached to the Maha village with a flag and a present, in order to induce them to come and hold a council with us. They returned at twelve o'clock the next day, August 14.

August 14, 1804
After crossing a prairie covered with high grass, they reached the Maha creek, along which they proceeded to its three forks, which join near the village: they crossed the north branch and went along the south; the walk was very fatiguing, as they were forced to break their way through grass, sunflowers and thistles, all above ten feet high, and interspersed with wild pea. Five miles from our camp they reached the position of the ancient Maha village: it had once consisted of three hundred cabins, but was burnt about four years ago, soon after the smallpox had destroyed four hundred men, and a proportion of women and children. On a hill, in the rear of the village, are the graves [45]of the nation; to the south of which runs the fork of the Maha creek: this they crossed where it was about ten yards wide, and followed its course to the Missouri, passing along a ridge of hill for one and a half mile, and a long pond between that and the Missouri: they then recrossed the Maha creek, and arrived at the camp, having seen no tracks of Indians nor any sign of recent cultivation.

August 15, 1804
In the morning 15th, some men were sent to examine the cause of a large smoke from the northeast, and which seemed to indicate that some Indians were near; but they found that a small party, who had lately passed that way, had left some trees burning, and that the wind from that quarter blew the smoke directly towards us. Our camp lies about three miles northeast from the old Maha village, and is in latitude 42 15' 41". The accounts we have had of the effects of the smallpox on that nation are most distressing; it is not known in what way it was first communicated to them, though probably by some war party. They had been a military and powerful people; but when these warriors saw their strength wasting before a malady which they could not resist, their phrenzy was extreme; they burnt their village, and many of them put to death their wives and children, to save them from so cruel an affliction, and that all might go together to some better country.

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