Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 1805 - Part Eight
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: August 16, 1805 - August 17, 1805


This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates August 16, 1805 - August 17, 1805 .

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates August 16, 1805 - August 17, 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 16, 1805 - August 17, 1805
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: August 16, 1805 - August 17, 1805

August 16, 1805
Friday, 16. As neither our party nor the Indians had any thing to eat, Captain Lewis sent two of his hunters ahead this morning to procure some provision: at the same time he requested Cameahwait to prevent his young men from going out, lest by their noise they might alarm the game; but this measure immediately revived their suspicions: it now began to be believed that these men were sent forward in order to apprise the enemy of their coming, and as Captain Lewis was fearful of exciting any further uneasiness, he made no objection on seeing a small party of Indians go on each side of the valley under pretence of hunting, but in reality to watch the movements of our two men: even this precaution however did not quiet the alarms of the Indians, a considerable part of whom returned home, leaving only twenty-eight men and three women.

After the hunters had been gone about an hour, Captain Lewis again mounted with one of the Indians behind him, and the whole party set out; but just as they passed through the narrows they saw one of the spies coming back at full speed across the plain: the chief stopped and seemed uneasy, the whole band were moved with fresh suspicions, and Captain Lewis himself was much disconcerted, lest by some unfortunate accident some of their enemies might have perhaps straggled that way. The young Indian had scarcely breath to say a few words as he came up, when the whole troop dashed forward as fast as their horses could carry them, and Captain Lewis astonished at this movement was borne along for nearly a mile before he learnt with great satisfaction that it was all caused by the spy's having come to announce that one of the white men had killed a deer. Relieved from his anxiety he now found the jolting very uncomfortable; for the Indian behind him being afraid of not getting his share of the feast had lashed the horse at every step since they set off; he therefore reined him in and ordered the Indian to stop beating him.

The fellow had no idea of losing time in disputing the point, and jumping off the horse ran for a mile at full speed. Captain Lewis slackened his pace, and followed at a sufficient distance to observe them. When they reached the place where Drewyer had thrown out the intestines, they all dismounted in confusion and ran tumbling over each other like famished dogs: each tore away whatever part he could and instantly began to eat it; some had the liver, some the kidneys, in short no part on which we are accustomed to look with disgust escaped them: one of them who had seized about nine feet of the entrails was chewing at one end, while with his hand he was diligently clearing his way by discharging the contents at the other. It was indeed impossible to see these wretches ravenously feeding on the filth of animals, and the blood streaming from their mouths, without deploring how nearly the condition of savages approaches that of the brute creation: yet though suffering with hunger they did not attempt, as they might have done, to take by force the whole deer, but contented themselves with what had been thrown away by the hunter.

Captain Lewis now had the deer skinned, and after reserving a quarter of it gave the rest of the animal to the chief to be divided among the Indians, who immediately devoured nearly the whole of it without cooking. They now went forward towards the creek where there was some brushwood to make a fire, and found Drewyer who had killed a second deer: the same struggle for the entrails was renewed here, and on giving nearly the whole deer to the Indians, they devoured it even to the soft part of the hoofs. A fire being made Captain Lewis had his breakfast, during which Drewyer brought in a third deer: this too, after reserving one quarter, was given to the Indians, who now seemed completely satisfied and in good humor. At this place they remained about two hours to let the horses graze, and then continued their journey, and towards evening reached the lower part of the cove having on the way shot an antelope, the greater part of which was given to the Indians. As they were now approaching the place where they had been told by Captain Lewis they would see the white men, the chief insisted on halting: they therefore all dismounted, and Cameahwait with great ceremony and as if for ornament, put tippets or skins round the necks of our party, similar to those worn by themselves. As this was obviously intended to disguise the white men, Captain Lewis in order to inspire them with more confidence put his cocked hat and feather on the head of the chief, and as his own over-shirt was in the Indian form, and his skin browned by the sun, he could not have been distinguished from an Indian: the men followed his example, and the change seemed to be very agreeable to the Indians.

In order to guard however against any disappointment Captain Lewis again explained the possibility of our not having reached the forks in consequence of the difficulty of the navigation, so that if they should not find us at that spot they might be assured of our not being far below. They again all mounted their horses and rode on rapidly, making one of the Indians carry their flag, so that we might recognise them as they approached us; but to the mortification and disappointment of both parties on coming within two miles of the forks, no canoes were to be seen. Uneasy lest at this moment he should be abandoned, and all his hopes of obtaining aid from the Indians be destroyed, Captain Lewis gave the chief his gun, telling him that if the enemies of his nation were in the bushes he might defend himself with it; that for his own part he was not afraid to die, and that the chief might shoot him as soon as they discovered themselves betrayed. The other three men at the same time gave their guns to the Indians, who now seemed more easy, but still wavered in their resolutions. As they went on towards the point, Captain Lewis perceiving how critical his situation had become, resolved to attempt a stratagem which his present difficulty seemed completely to justify. Recollecting the notes he had left at the point for us, he sent Drewyer for them with an Indian who witnessed his taking them from the pole.

When they were brought, Captain Lewis told Cameahwait that on leaving his brother chief at the place where the river issues from the mountains, it was agreed that the boats should not be brought higher than the next forks we should meet; but that if the rapid water prevented the boats from coming on as fast as they expected, his brother chief was to send a note to the first forks above him to let him know where the boats were; that this note had been left this morning at the forks, and mentioned that the canoes were just below the mountains, and coming slowly up in consequence of the current. Captain Lewis added, that he would stay at the forks for his brother chief, but would send a man down the river, and that if Cameahwait doubted what he said, one of their young men would go with him whilst he and the other two remained at the forks. This story satisfied the chief and the greater part of the Indians, but a few did not conceal their suspicion, observing that we told different stories, and complaining that the chief exposed them to danger by a mistaken confidence. Captain Lewis now wrote by the light of some willow brush a note to captain Clarke, which he gave to Drewyer, with an order to use all possible expedition in ascending the river, and engaged an Indian to accompany him by a promise of a knife and some beads. At bedtime the chief and five others slept round the fire of Captain Lewis, and the rest hid themselves in different parts of the willow brush to avoid the enemy, who they feared would attack them in the night.

Captain Lewis endeavored to assume a cheerfulness he did not feel to prevent the despondency of the savages: after conversing gayly with them he retired to his mosquito bier, by the side of which the chief now placed himself: he lay down, yet slept but little, being in fact scarcely less uneasy than his Indian companions. He was apprehensive that finding the ascent of the river impracticable, captain Clarke might have stopped below the Rattlesnake bluff, and the messenger would not meet him. The consequence of disappointing the Indians at this moment would most probably be, that they would retire and secrete themselves in the mountains, so as to prevent our having an opportunity of recovering their confidence: they would also spread a panic through all the neighboring Indians, and cut us off from the supply of horses so useful and almost so essential to our success: he was at the same time consoled by remembering that his hopes of assistance rested on better foundations than their generosity—their avarice, and their curiosity. He had promised liberal exchanges for their horses; but what was still move seductive, he had told them that one of their country-women who had been taken with the Minnetarees accompanied the party below; and one of the men had spread the report of our having with us a man perfectly black, whose hair was short and curled. This last account had excited a great degree of curiosity, and they seemed more desirous of seeing this monster than of obtaining the most favorable barter for their horses.

In the meantime we had set out after breakfast, and although we proceeded with more ease than we did yesterday, the river was still so rapid and shallow as to oblige us to drag the large canoes during the greater part of the day. For the first seven miles the river formed a bend to the right so as to make our advance only three miles in a straight line; the stream is crooked, narrow, small, and shallow, with highlands occasionally on the banks, and strewed with islands, four of which are opposite to each other. Near this place we left the valley, to which we gave the name of Serviceberry valley, from the abundance of that fruit now ripe which is found in it. In the course of the four following miles we passed several more islands and bayous on each side of the river, and reached a high cliff on the right. Two and a half miles beyond this the cliffs approach on both sides and form a very considerable rapid near the entrance of a bold running stream on the left. The water was now excessively cold, and the rapids had been frequent and troublesome.

On ascending an eminence captain Clarke saw the forks of the river and sent the hunters up. They must have left it only a short time before Captain Lewis's arrival, but fortunately had not seen the note which enabled him to induce the Indians to stay with him. From the top of this eminence he could discover only three trees through the whole country, nor was there along the sides of the cliffs they had passed in the course of the day, any timber except a few small pines: the low grounds were supplied with willow, currant bushes, and serviceberries. After advancing half a mile further we came to the lower point of an island near the middle of the river, and about the centre of the valley: here we halted for the night, only four miles by land, though ten by water, below the point where Captain Lewis lay. Although we had made only fourteen miles, the labors of the men had fatigued and exhausted them very much: we therefore collected some small willow brush for a fire, and lay down to sleep.

August 17, 1805
Saturday, August 17. Captain Lewis rose very early and dispatched Drewyer and the Indian down the river in quest of the boats. Shields was sent out at the same time to hunt, while M‘Neal prepared a breakfast out of the remainder of the meat. Drewyer had been gone about two hours, and the Indians were all anxiously waiting for some news, when an Indian who had straggled a short distance down the river, returned with a report that he had seen the white men, who were only a short distance below, and were coming on. The Indians were all transported with joy, and the chief in the warmth of his satisfaction renewed his embrace to Captain Lewis, who was quite as much delighted as the Indians themselves; the report proved most agreeably true. On setting out at seven o'clock, captain Clarke with Charbonneau and his wife walked on shore, but they had not gone more than a mile before captain Clarke saw Sacajawea, who was with her husband one hundred yards ahead, began to dance, and show every mark of the most extravagant joy, turning round him and pointing to several Indians, whom he now saw advancing on horseback, sucking her fingers at the same time to indicate that they were of her native tribe.

As they advanced captain Clarke discovered among them Drewyer dressed like an Indian, from whom he learnt the situation of the party. While the boats were performing the circuit, he went towards the forks with the Indians, who as they went along, sang aloud with the greatest appearance of delight. We soon drew near to the camp, and just as we approached it a woman made her way through the crowd towards Sacajawea, and recognising each other, they embraced with the most tender affection. The meeting of these two young women had in it something peculiarly touching, not only in the ardent manner in which their feelings were expressed, but from the real interest of their situation. They had been companions in childhood, in the war with the Minnetarees they had both been taken prisoners in the same battle, they had shared and softened the rigors of their captivity, till one of them had escaped from the Minnetarees, with scarce a hope of ever seeing her friend relieved from the hands of her enemies. While Sacajawea was renewing among the women the friendships of former days, captain Clarke went on, and was received by Captain Lewis and the chief, who after the first embraces and salutations were over, conducted him to a sort of circular tent or shade of willows. Here he was seated on a white robe; and the chief immediately tied in his hair six small shells resembling pearls, an ornament highly valued by these people, who procured them in the course of trade from the seacoast. The moccasins of the whole party were then taken off, and after much ceremony the smoking began.

After this the conference was to be opened, and glad of an opportunity of being able to converse more intelligibly, Sacajawea was sent for; she came into the tent, sat down, and was beginning to interpret, when in the person of Cameahwait she recognised her brother: she instantly jumped up, and ran and embraced him, throwing over him her blanket and weeping profusely; the chief was himself moved, though not in the same degree. After some conversation between them she resumed her seat, and attempted to interpret for us, but her new situation seemed to overpower her, and she was frequently interrupted by her tears. After the council was finished, the unfortunate woman learnt that all her family were dead except two brothers, one of whom was absent, and a son of her eldest sister, a small boy, who was immediately adopted by her. The canoes arriving soon after, we formed a camp in a meadow on the left side, a little below the forks; took out our baggage, and by means of our sails and willow poles formed a canopy for our Indian visitors.

About four o'clock the chiefs and warriors were collected, and after the customary ceremony of taking off the moccasins and smoking a pipe, we explained to them in a long harangue the purposes of our visit, making themselves one conspicuous object of the good wishes of our government, on whose strength as well as its friendly disposition we expatiated. We told them of their dependance on the will of our government for all future supplies of whatever was necessary either for their comfort or defence; that as we were sent to discover the best route by which merchandize could be conveyed to them, and no trade would be begun before our return, it was mutually advantageous that we should proceed with as little delay as possible; that we were under the necessity of requesting them to furnish us with horses to transport our baggage across the mountains, and a guide to show us the route, but that they should be amply remunerated for their horses, as well as for every other service they should render us. In the meantime our first wish was, that they should immediately collect as many horses as were necessary to transport our baggage to their village, where, at our leisure we would trade with them for as many horses as they could spare.

The speech made a favorable impression: the chief in reply thanked us for our expressions of friendship towards himself and his nation, and declared their willingness to render us every service. He lamented that it would be so long before they should be supplied with firearms, but that till then they could subsist as they had heretofore done. He concluded by saying that there were not horses here sufficient to transport our goods, but that he would return to the village to-morrow, and bring all his own horses, and encourage his people to come over with theirs. The conference being ended to our satisfaction, we now inquired of Cameahwait what chiefs were among the party, and he pointed out two of them. We then distributed our presents: to Cameahwait we gave a medal of the small size, with the likeness of president Jefferson, and on the reverse a figure of hands clasped with a pipe and tomahawk: to this was added an uniform coat, a shirt, a pair of scarlet leggings, a carrot of tobacco, and some small articles. Each of the other chiefs received a small medal struck during the presidency of general Washington, a shirt, handkerchief, leggings, a knife, and some tobacco. Medals of the same sort were also presented to two young warriors, who though not chiefs were promising youths and very much respected in the tribe. These honorary gifts were followed by presents of paint, moccasins, awls, knives, beads and looking-glasses. We also gave them all a plentiful meal of Indian corn, of which the hull is taken off by being boiled in lye; and as this was the first they had ever tasted, they were very much pleased with it.

They had indeed abundant sources of surprise in all they saw: the appearance of the men, their arms, their clothing, the canoes, the strange looks of the negro, and the sagacity of our dog, all in turn shared their admiration, which was raised to astonishment by a shot from the airgun: this operation was instantly considered as a great medicine, by which they as well as the other Indians mean something emanating directly from the Great Spirit, or produced by his invisible and incomprehensible agency. The display of all these riches had been intermixed with inquiries into the geographical situation of their country; for we had learnt by experience, that to keep the savages in good temper their attention should not be wearied with too much business; but that the serious affairs should be enlivened by a mixture of what is new and entertaining. Our hunters brought in very seasonably four deer and an antelope, the last of which we gave to the Indians, who in a very short time devoured it. After the council was over, we consulted as to our future operations. The game does not promise to last here for a number of days, and this circumstance combined with many others to induce our going on as soon as possible. Our Indian information as to the state of the Columbia is of a very alarming kind, and our first object is of course to ascertain the practicability of descending it, of which the Indians discourage our expectations. It was therefore agreed that captain Clarke should set off in the morning with eleven men, furnished, besides their arms, with tools for making canoes; that he should take Charbonneau and his wife to the camp of the Shoshones, where he was to leave them, in order to hasten the collection of horses; that he was then to lead his men down to the Columbia, and if he found it navigable, and the timber in sufficient quantity, begin to build canoes. As soon as he had decided as to the propriety of proceeding down the Columbia or across the mountains, he was to send back one of the men with information of it to Captain Lewis, who by that time would have brought up the whole party, and the rest of the baggage as far as the Shoshone village.

Preparations were accordingly made this evening for such an arrangement. The sun is excessively hot in the day time, but the nights very cold, and rendered still more unpleasant from the want of any fuel except willow brush. The appearances too of game, for many days' subsistence, are not very favorable.

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Journals of Lewis and Clark - Dates: August 16, 1805 - August 17, 1805

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