Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 1805 - Part Six
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: August 12, 1805 - August 13, 1805


This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates August 12, 1805 - August 13, 1805 .

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates August 12, 1805 - August 13, 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 12, 1805 - August 13, 1805
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: August 12, 1805 - August 13, 1805

August 12, 1805
Monday, 12. This morning as soon as it was light Captain Lewis sent Drewyer to reconnoitre if possible the route of the Indians: in about an hour and a half he returned, after following the tracks of the horse which we had lost yesterday to the mountains, where they ascended and were no longer visible. Captain Lewis now decided on making the circuit along the foot of the mountains which formed the cove, expecting by that means to find a road across them, and accordingly sent Drewyer on one side, and Shields on the other. In this way they crossed four small rivulets near each other, on which were some bowers or conical lodges of willow brush, which seemed to have been made recently.

From the manner in which the ground in the neighborhood was torn up the Indians appeared to have been gathering roots; but Captain Lewis could not discover what particular plant they were searching for, nor could he find any fresh track, till at the distance of four miles from his camp he met a large plain Indian road which came into the cove from the northeast, and wound along the foot of the mountains to the southwest, approaching obliquely the main stream he had left yesterday. Down this road he now went towards the southwest: at the distance of five miles it crossed a large run or creek, which is a principal branch of the main stream into which it falls, just above the high cliffs or gates observed yesterday, and which they now saw below them: here they halted and breakfasted on the last of the deer, keeping a small piece of pork in reserve against accident: they then continued through the low bottom along the main stream near the foot of the mountains on their right.

For the first five miles the valley continues towards the southwest from two to three miles in width; then the main stream, which had received two small branches from the left in the valley, turns abruptly to the west through a narrow bottom between the mountains. The road was still plain, and as it led them directly on towards the mountain the stream gradually became smaller, till after going two miles it had so greatly diminished in width that one of the men in a fit of enthusiasm, with one foot on each side of the river, thanked God that he had lived to bestride the Missouri. As they went along their hopes of soon seeing the waters of the Columbia arose almost to painful anxiety, when after four miles from the last abrupt turn of the river, they reached a small gap formed by the high mountains which recede on each side, leaving room for the Indian road. From the foot of one of the lowest of these mountains, which rises with a gentle ascent of about half a mile, issues the remotest water of the Missouri.

They had now reached the hidden sources of that river, which had never yet been seen by civilized man; and as they quenched their thirst at the chaste and icy fountain—as they sat down by the brink of that little rivulet, which yielded its distant and modest tribute to the parent ocean, they felt themselves rewarded for all their labors and all their difficulties. They left reluctantly this interesting spot, and pursuing the Indian road through the interval of the hills, arrived at the top of a ridge, from which they saw high mountains partially covered with snow still to the west of them. The ridge on which they stood formed the dividing line between the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. They followed a descent much steeper than that on the eastern side, and at the distance of three quarters of a mile reached a handsome bold creek of cold clear water running to the westward. They stopped to taste for the first time the waters of the Columbia; and after a few minutes followed the road across steep hills and low hollows, till they reached a spring on the side of a mountain: here they found a sufficient quantity of dry willow brush for fuel, and therefore halted for the night; and having killed nothing in the course of the day supped on their last piece of pork, and trusted to fortune for some other food to mix with a little flour and parched meal, which was all that now remained of their provisions.

Before reaching the fountain of the Missouri they saw several large hawks nearly black, and some of the heath cocks: these last have a long pointed tail, and are of a uniform dark brown color, much larger than the common dunghill fowl, and similar in habits and the mode of flying to the grouse or prairie hen. Drewyer also wounded at the distance of one hundred and thirty yards an animal which we had not yet seen, but which after falling recovered itself and escaped. It seemed to be of the fox kind, rather larger than the small wolf of the plains, and with a skin in which black, reddish brown, and yellow, were curiously intermixed. On the creek of the Columbia they found a species of currant which does not grow as high as that of the Missouri, though it is more branching, and its leaf, the under disk of which is covered with a hairy pubescence, is twice as large. The fruit is of the ordinary size and shape of the currant, and supported in the usual manner, but is of a deep purple color, acid, and of a very inferior flavor.

We proceeded on in the boats, but as the river was very shallow and rapid, the navigation is extremely difficult, and the men who are almost constantly in the water are getting feeble and sore, and so much wore down by fatigue that they are very anxious to commence traveling by land. We went along the main channel which is on the right side, and after passing nine bends in that direction, three islands and a number of bayous, reached at the distance of five and a half miles the upper point of a large island. At noon there was a storm of thunder which continued about half an hour; after which we proceeded, but as it was necessary to drag the canoes over the shoals and rapids, made but little progress. On leaving the island we passed a number of short bends, several bayous, and one run of water on the right side, and having gone by four small and two large islands, encamped on a smooth plain to the left near a few cottonwood trees: our journey by water was just twelve miles, and four in a direct line. The hunters supplied us with three deer and a fawn.

August 13, 1805
Tuesday 13. Very early in the morning Captain Lewis resumed the Indian road, which led him in a western direction, through an open broken country; on the left was a deep valley at the foot of a high range of mountains running from southeast to northwest, with their sides better clad with timber than the hills to which we have been for some time accustomed, and their tops covered in part with snow. At five miles distance, after following the long descent of another valley, he reached a creek about ten yards wide, and on rising the hill beyond it had a view of a handsome little valley on the left, about a mile in width, through which they judged, from the appearance of the timber, that some stream of water most probably passed. On the creek they had just left were some bushes of the white maple, the sumach of the small species with the winged rib, and a species of honeysuckle, resembling in its general appearance and the shape of its leaf the small honeysuckle of the Missouri, except that it is rather larger, and bears a globular berry, about the size of a garden pea, of a white color, and formed of a soft white mucilaginous substance, in which are several small brown seeds irregularly scattered without any cell, and enveloped in a smooth thin pellicle.

They proceeded along a waving plain parallel to this valley for about four miles, when they discovered two women, a man and some dogs on an eminence at the distance of a mile before them. The strangers first viewed them apparently with much attention for a few minutes, and then two of them sat down as if to await Captain Lewis's arrival. He went on till he reached within about half a mile, then ordered his party to stop, put down his knapsack and rifle, and unfurling the flag advanced alone towards the Indians. The females soon retreated behind the hill, but the man remained till Captain Lewis came within a hundred yards from him, when he too went off, though Captain Lewis called out tabba bone! loud enough to be heard distinctly. He hastened to the top of the hill, but they had all disappeared. The dogs however were less shy, and came close to him; he therefore thought of tying a handkerchief with some beads round their necks, and then let them loose to convince the fugitives of his friendly disposition, but they would not suffer him to take hold of them, and soon left him. He now made a signal to the men, who joined him, and then all followed the track of the Indians, which led along a continuation of the same road they had been already traveling. It was dusty and seemed to have been much used lately both by foot passengers and horsemen. They had not gone along it more than a mile when on a sudden they saw three female Indians, from whom they had been concealed by the deep ravines which intersected the road, till they were now within thirty paces of each other; one of them a young woman immediately took to flight, the other two, an elderly woman and a little girl, seeing we were too near for them to escape, sat on the ground, and holding down their heads seemed as if reconciled to the death which they supposed awaited them. The same habit of holding down the head and inviting the enemy to strike, when all chance of escape is gone, is preserved in Egypt to this day.

Captain Lewis instantly put down his rifle, and advancing towards them, took the woman by the hand, raised her up, and repeated the word tabba bone! at the sane time stripping up his shirt sleeve to prove that he was a white man, for his hands and face had become by constant exposure quite as dark as their own. She appeared immediately relieved from her alarm, and Drewyer and Shields now coming up, Captain Lewis gave them some beads, a few awls, pewter mirrors, and a little paint, and told Drewyer to request the woman to recall her companion who had escaped to some distance, and by alarming the Indians might cause them to attack him without any time for explanation. She did as she was desired, and the young woman returned almost out of breath: Captain Lewis gave her an equal portion of trinkets, and painted the tawny cheeks of all three of them with vermillion, a ceremony which among the Shoshones is emblematic of peace. After they had become composed, he informed them by signs of his wish to go to their camp in order to see their chiefs and warriors; they readily obeyed, and conducted the party along the same road down the river. In this way they marched two miles, when they met a troop of nearly sixty warriors mounted on excellent horses riding at full speed towards them. As they advanced Captain Lewis put down his gun, and went with the flag about fifty paces in advance. The chief who with two men were riding in front of the main body, spoke to the women, who now explained that the party was composed of white men, and showed exultingly the presents they had received. The three men immediately leaped from their horses, came up to Captain Lewis and embraced him with great cordiality, putting their left arm over his right shoulder and clasping his back, applying at the same time their left cheek to his, and frequently vociferating ah hi e! ah hi e! "I am much pleased, I am much rejoiced." The whole body of warriors now came forward, and our men received the caresses, and no small share of the grease and paint of their new friends.

After this fraternal embrace, of which the motive was much more agreeable than the manner, Captain Lewis lighted a pipe and offered it to the Indians who had now seated themselves in a circle around the party. But before they would receive this mark of friendship they pulled off their moccasins, a custom as we afterwards learnt, which indicates the sacred sincerity of their professions when they smoke with a stranger, and which imprecates on themselves the misery of going barefoot forever if they are faithless to their words, a penalty by no means light to those who rove over the thorny plains of their country. It is not unworthy to remark the analogy which some of the customs of those wild children of the wilderness bear to those recorded in holy writ. Moses is admonished to pull off his shoes, for the place on which he stood was holy ground. Why this was enjoined as an act of peculiar reverence; whether it was from the circumstance that in the arid region in which the patriarch then resided, it was deemed a test of the sincerity of devotion to walk upon the burning sands barefooted, in some measure analogous to the pains inflicted by the prickly pear, does not appear. After smoking a few pipes, some trifling presents were distributed amongst them, with which they seemed very much pleased, particularly with the blue beads and the vermillion. Captain Lewis then informed the chief that the object of his visit was friendly, and should be explained as soon as he reached their camp; but that in the meantime as the sun was oppressive, and no water near, he wished to go there as soon as possible. They now put on their moccasins, and their chief, whose name was Cameahwait, made a short speech to the warriors. Captain Lewis then gave him the flag, which he informed him was among white men the emblem of peace, and now that he had received it was to be in future the bond of union between them.

The chief then moved on, our party followed him, and the rest of the warriors in a squadron, brought up the rear. After marching a mile they were halted by the chief, who made a second harangue, on which six or eight young men rode forward to their camp, and no further regularity was observed in the order of march. At the distance of four miles from where they had first met, they reached the Indian camp, which was in a handsome level meadow on the bank of the river. Here they were introduced into an old leathern lodge which the young men who had been sent from the party had fitted up for their reception. After being seated on green boughs and antelope skins, one of the warriors pulled up the grass in the centre of the lodge so as to form a vacant circle of two feet diameter, in which he kindled a fire. The chief then produced his pipe and tobacco, the warriors all pulled off their moccasins, and our party was requested to take off their own. This being done, the chief lighted his pipe at the fire within the magic circle, and then retreating from it began a speech several minutes long, at the end of which he pointed the stem towards the four cardinal points of the heavens, beginning with the east and concluding with the north. After this ceremony he presented the stem in the same way to Captain Lewis, who supposing it an invitation to smoke, put out his hand to receive the pipe, but the chief drew it back, and continued to repeat the same offer three times, after which he pointed the stem first to the heavens, then to the centre of the little circle, took three whiffs himself, and presented it again to Captain Lewis. Finding that this last offer was in good earnest, he smoked a little, the pipe was then held to each of the white men, and after they had taken a few whiffs was given to the warriors. This pipe was made of a dense transparent green stone, very highly polished; about two and an half inches long, and of an oval figure, the bowl being in the same situation with the stem.

A small piece of burnt clay is placed in the bottom of the bowl to separate the tobacco from the end of the stem, and is of an irregularly round figure, not fitting the tube perfectly close, in order that the smoke may pass with facility. The tobacco is of the same kind with that used by the Minnetarees, Mandans and Ricaras of the Missouri. The Shoshones do not cultivate this plant, but obtain it from the Rocky mountain Indians, and some of the bands of their own nation who live further south. The ceremony of smoking being concluded, Captain Lewis explained to the chief the purposes of his visit, and as by this time all the women and children of the camp had gathered around the lodge to indulge in a view of the first white men they had ever seen, he distributed among them the remainder of the small articles he had brought with him. It was now late in the afternoon, and our party had tasted no food since the night before. On apprising the chief of this circumstance, he said that he had nothing but berries to eat, and presented some cakes made of serviceberry and chokecherries which had been dried in the sun. On these Captain Lewis made a hearty meal, and then walked down towards the river: he found it a rapid clear stream forty yards wide and three feet deep; the banks were low and abrupt, like those of the upper part of the Missouri, and the bed formed of loose stones and gravel. Its course, as far as he could observe it, was a little to the north of west, and was bounded on each side by a range of high mountains, of which those on the east are the lowest and most distant from the river.

The chief informed him that this stream discharged itself at the distance of half a day's march, into another of twice its size, coming from the southwest; but added, on further inquiry, that there was scarcely more timber below the junction of those rivers than in this neighborhood, and that the river was rocky, rapid, and so closely confined between high mountains, that it was impossible to pass down it, either by land or water to the great lake, where as he had understood the white men lived. This information was far from being satisfactory; for there was no timber here that would answer the purpose of building canoes, indeed not more than just sufficient for fuel, and even that consisted of the narrow-leafed cotton wood, the red and the narrow-leafed willow, the chokecherry, serviceberry and a few currant bushes such as are common on the Missouri. The prospect of going on by land is more pleasant; for there are great numbers of horses feeding in every direction round the camp, which will enable us to transport our stores if necessary over the mountains. Captain Lewis returned from the river to his lodge, and on his way an Indian invited him into his bower and gave him a small morsel of boiled antelope and a piece of fresh salmon roasted. This was the first salmon he had seen, and perfectly satisfied him that he was now on the waters of the Pacific.

On reaching this lodge, he resumed his conversation with the chief, after which he was entertained with a dance by the Indians. It now proved, as our party had feared, that the men whom they had first met this morning had returned to the camp and spread the alarm that their enemies, the Minnetarees of fort de Prairie, whom they call Pahkees, were advancing on them. The warriors instantly armed themselves and were coming down in expectation of an attack, when they were agreeably surprised by meeting our party. The greater part of them were armed with bows and arrows, and shields, but a few had small fusils, such as are furnished by the northwest company traders, and which they had obtained from the Indians on the Yellowstone, with whom they are now at peace. They had reason to dread the approach of the Pahkees, who had attacked them in the course of this spring and totally defeated them. On this occasion twenty of their warriors were either killed or made prisoners, and they lost their whole camp except the leathern lodge which they had fitted up for us, and were now obliged to live in huts of a conical figure made with willow brush. The music and dancing, which was in no respect different from those of the Missouri Indians, continued nearly all night; but Captain Lewis retired to rest about twelve o'clock, when the fatigues of the day enabled him to sleep though he was awaked several times by the yells of the dancers.

Whilst all these things were occurring to Captain Lewis we were slowly and laboriously ascending the river. For the first two and a half miles we went along the island opposite to which we encamped last evening, and soon reached a second island behind which comes in a small creek on the left side of the river. It rises in the mountains to the east and forms a handsome valley for some miles from its mouth, where it is a bold running stream about seven yards wide: we called it M‘Neal's creek, after Hugh M‘Neal one of our party. Just above this stream and at the distance of four miles from our camp is a point of limestone rock on the right, about seventy feet high, forming a cliff over the river. From the top of it the Beaver's-head bore north 24° east twelve miles distant, the course of Wisdom river, that is the direction of its valley through the mountains is north 25° west, while the gap through which the Jefferson enters the mountains is ten miles above us on a course south 18° west. From this limestone rock we proceeded along several islands, on both sides, and after making twelve miles arrived at a cliff of high rocks on the right, opposite to which we encamped in a smooth level prairie, near a few cottonwood trees; but were obliged to use the dry willow brush for fuel. The river is still very crooked, the bends short and abrupt, and obstructed by so many shoals, over which the canoes were to be dragged, that the men were in the water three fourths of the day. They saw numbers of otter, some beaver, antelopes, ducks, geese, and cranes, but they killed nothing except a single deer. They, however, caught some very fine trout, as they have done for several days past. The weather had been cloudy and cool during the forepart of the day, and at eight o'clock a shower of rain fell.

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Journals of Lewis and Clark - Dates: August 12, 1805 - August 13, 1805

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