Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates July 1805 - Part Eight
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: July 27, 1805 - July 31, 1805


This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates July 27, 1805 - July 31, 1805.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates July 27, 1805 - July 31, 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates July 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates July 27, 1805 - July 31, 1805
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: July 27, 1805 - July 31, 1805

July 27, 1805
Saturday 27. We proceeded on but slowly, the current being still so rapid as to require the utmost exertions of us all to advance, and the men are losing their strength fast in consequence of their constant efforts. At half a mile we passed an island, and a mile and a quarter further again entered a ridge of hills which now approach the river with cliffs apparently sinking like those of yesterday. They are composed of a solid limestone of a light lead color when exposed to the air, though when freshly broken it is of a deep blue, and of an excellent quality and very fine grain. On these cliffs were numbers of the bighorn. At two and a half miles we reached the centre of a bend towards the south passing a small island, and at one mile and a quarter beyond this reached about nine in the morning the mouth of a river seventy yards wide, which falls in from the southeast. Here the country suddenly opens into extensive and beautiful meadows and plains, surrounded on every side with distant and lofty mountains.

Captain Lewis went up this stream for about half a mile, and from the height of a limestone cliff could observe its course about seven miles, and the three forks of the Missouri, of which this river is one. Its extreme point bore S. 65 E. and during the seven miles it passes through a green extensive meadow of fine grass dividing itself into several streams, the largest passing near the ridge of hills on which he stood. On the right side of the Missouri a high, wide and extensive plain succeeds to this low meadow which reaches the hills. In the meadow a large spring rises about a quarter of a mile from this Southeast fork, into which it discharges itself on the right side about four hundred paces from where he stood. Between the southeast and middle forks a distant range of snow-topped mountains spread from east to south above the irregular broken hills nearer to this spot: the middle and southwest forks unite at half a mile above the entrance of the southeast fork. The extreme point at which the former can be seen, bears S. 15 E. and at the distance of fourteen miles, where it turns to the right round the point of a high plain and disappears from the view. Its low grounds are several miles in width, forming a smooth and beautiful green meadow, and like the southeast fork it divides itself into several streams. Between these two forks and near their junction with that from the southwest, is a position admirably well calculated for a fort. It is a limestone rock of an oblong form, rising from the plain perpendicularly to the height of twenty-five feet on three of its sides; the fourth towards the middle fork being a gradual ascent and covered with a fine green sward, as is also the top which is level and contains about two acres. An extensive plain lies between the middle and southwest forks, the last of which after watering a country like that of the other two branches, disappears about twelve miles off, at a point bearing south 30 west.

It is also more divided and serpentine in its course than the other two, and possesses more timber in its meadows. This timber consists almost exclusively of the narrow-leafed cottonwood, with an inter-mixture of box alder and sweet-willow, the underbrush being thick and like that of the Missouri lower down. A range of high mountains partially covered with snow is seen at a considerable distance running from south to west, and nearly all around us are broken ridges of country like that below, through which those united streams appear to have forced their passage: after observing the country Captain Lewis descended to breakfast. We then left the mouth of the southeast fork, to which in honor of the secretary of the treasury we called Gallatin's river, and at the distance of half a mile reached the confluence of the southwest and middle branch of the Missouri. Here we found the letter from captain Clarke, and as we agreed with him that the direction of the southwest fork gave it a decided preference over the others, we ascended that branch of the river for a mile, and encamped in a level handsome plain on the left: having advanced only seven miles. Here we resolved to wait the return of captain Clarke, and in the meantime make the necessary celestial observations, as this seems an essential point in the geography of the western world, and also to recruit the men and air the baggage. It was accordingly all unloaded and stowed away on shore. Near the three forks we saw many collections of the mud-nests of the small martin attached to the smooth faces of the limestone rock, where they were sheltered by projections of the rock above it: and in the meadows were numbers of the duck or mallard with their young, who are now nearly grown. The hunters returned towards evening with six deer, three otter and a muskrat; and had seen great numbers of antelopes, and much sign of the beaver and elk.

During all last night captain Clarke had a high fever and chills accompanied with great pain. He however pursued his route eight miles to the middle branch, where not finding any fresh Indian track he came down it and joined us about three o'clock, very much exhausted with fatigue and the violence of his fever. Believing himself bilious he took a dose of Rush's pills, which we have always found sovereign in such cases, and bathing the lower extremities in warm water.

We are now very anxious to see the Snake Indians. After advancing for several hundred miles into this wild and mountainous country, we may soon expect that the game will abandon us. With no information of the route we may be unable to find a passage across the mountains when we reach the head of the river, at least such a one as will lead us to the Columbia, and even were we so fortunate as to find a branch of that river, the timber which we have hitherto seen in these mountains does not promise us any fit to make canoes, so that our chief dependence is on meeting some tribe from whom we may procure horses. Our consolation is, that this southwest branch can scarcely head with any other river than the Columbia, and that if any nation of Indians can live in the mountains we are able to endure as much as they, and have even better means of procuring subsistence.

July 28, 1805
Sunday, July 28. Captain Clarke continued very unwell during the night, but was somewhat relieved this morning. On examining the two streams it became difficult to decide which was the larger or the real Missouri; they are each ninety yards wide and so perfectly similar in character and appearance that they seem to have been formed in the same mould. We were therefore induced to discontinue the name of Missouri, and gave to the southwest branch the name of Jefferson in honor of the president of the United States, and the projector of the enterprise: and called the middle branch Madison, after James Madison secretary of state. These two, as well as Gallatin river, run with great velocity and throw out large bodies of water. Gallatin river is however the most rapid of the three, and though not quite as deep, yet navigable for a considerable distance. Madison river though much less rapid than the Gallatin, is somewhat more rapid than the Jefferson; the beds of all of them are formed of smooth pebble and gravel, and the waters are perfectly transparent. The timber in the neighborhood would be sufficient for the ordinary uses of an establishment, which, however, it would be adviseable to build of brick, as the earth appears calculated for that purpose, and along the shores are some bars of fine pure sand.

The greater part of the men, having yesterday put their deer skins in water, were this day engaged in dressing them, for the purpose of making clothing. The weather was very warm, the thermometer in the afternoon was at 90 above 0, and the mosquitoes more than usually inconvenient: we were, however, relieved from them by a high wind from the southwest, which came on at four o'clock, bringing a storm of thunder and lightning, attended by refreshing showers, which continued till after dark. In the evening the hunters returned with eight deer and two elk; and the party who had been sent up the Gallatin, reported that after passing the point, where it escaped from Captain Lewis's view yesterday, it turned more towards the east, as far as they could discern the opening of the mountains, formed by the valley which bordered it. The low grounds were still wide but not so extensive as near its mouth, and though the stream is rapid and much divided by islands, it is still sufficiently deep for navigation with canoes. The low grounds, although not more than eight or nine feet above the water, seem never to be overflowed, except a part on the west side of the middle fork, which is stony and seems occasionally inundated, are furnished with great quantities of small fruit, such as currants and gooseberries: among the last of which is a black species, which we observe not only in the meadows but along the mountain rivulets. From the same root rise a number of stems to the height of five or six feet, some of them particularly branched and all reclining. The berry is attached by a long peduncle to the stem, from which they hang of a smooth ovate form, as large as the common garden gooseberry, and as black as jet, though the pulp is of a bright crimson color. It is extremely acid: the form of the leaf resembles that of the common gooseberry, though larger. The stem is covered with very sharp thorns or briars: the grass too is very luxuriant and would yield fine hay in parcels of several acres. The sand-rushes will grow in many places as high as a man's breast, and as thick as stalks of wheat; it would supply the best food during the winter to cattle of any trading or military post.

Sacajawea, our Indian woman, informs us that we are encamped on the precise spot where her countrymen, the Snake Indians, had their huts five years ago, when the Minnetarees of Knife river first came in sight of them, and from which they hastily retreated three miles up the Jefferson, and concealed themselves in the woods. The Minnetarees, however, pursued and attacked them, killed four men, as many women, and a number of boys; and made prisoners of four other boys, and all the females, of whom Sacajawea was one: she does not, however, show any distress at these recollections, nor any joy at the prospect of being restored to her country; for she seems to possess the folly or the philosophy of not suffering her feelings to extend beyond the anxiety of having plenty to eat and a few trinkets to wear.

July 29, 1805
Monday 29. This morning the hunters brought in some fat deer of the long-tailed red kind, which are quite as large as those of the United States, and are, indeed, the only kind we have found at this place: there are numbers of the sandhill cranes feeding in the meadows; we caught a young one of the same color as the red deer, which, though it had nearly attained its full growth could not fly; it is very fierce and strikes a severe blow with its beak. The kingfisher has become quite common on this side of the falls: but we have seen none of the summer duck since leaving that place. The mallard duck, which we saw for the first time on the 20th instant, with their young, are now abundant, though they do not breed on the Missouri, below the mountains. The small birds already described are also abundant [331]in the plains; here too, are great quantities of grasshoppers or crickets; and among other animals, a large ant with a reddish brown body and legs, and a black head and abdomen, who build little cones of gravel, ten or twelve inches high, without a mixture of sticks, and but little earth. In the river we see a great abundance of fish, but we cannot tempt them to bite by any thing on our hooks. The whole party have been engaged in dressing skins, and making them into moccasins and leggings. Captain Clarke's fever has almost left him, but he still remains very languid and has a general soreness in his limbs. The latitude of our camp, as the mean of two observations of the meridian altitude of the sun's lower limb with octant by back observation is N. 45 24' 8" 5"'.

July 30, 1805
Tuesday 30. Captain Clarke was this morning much restored; and, therefore, having made all the observations necessary to fix the longitude, we reloaded our canoes, and began to ascend Jefferson river. The river now becomes very crooked, and forms bends on each side; the current too is rapid, and cut into a great number of channels, and sometimes shoals, the beds of which consist of coarse gravel. The islands are unusually numerous: on the right are high plains occasionally forming cliffs of rocks and hills; while the left was an extensive low ground and prairie intersected by a number of bayous or channels falling into the river. Captain Lewis, who had walked through it with Charbonneau, his wife, and two invalids, joined us at dinner, a few miles above our camp. Here the Indian woman said was the place where she had been made prisoner. The men being too few to contend with the Minnetarees, mounted their horses, and fled as soon as the attack began. The women and children dispersed, and Sacajawea as she was crossing at a shoal place, was overtaken in the middle of the river by her pursuers.

As we proceeded, the low grounds were covered with cottonwood and a thick underbrush, and on both sides of the river, except where the high hills prevented it, the ground was divided by bayous, which are dammed up by the beaver, which are very numerous here. We made twelve and a quarter miles, and encamped on the north side. Captain Lewis proceeded after dinner, through an extensive low ground of timber and meadow land intermixed; but the bayous were so obstructed by beaver dams, that in order to avoid them he directed his course towards the high plain on the right. This he gained with some difficulty, after wading up to his waist through the mud and water of a number of beaver dams. When he desired to rejoin the canoes he found the underbrush so thick, and the river so crooked, that this, joined to the difficulty of passing the beaver dams, induced him to go on and endeavor to intercept the river at some point where it might be more collected into one channel and approach nearer to the high plain. He arrived at the bank about sunset, having gone only six miles in a direct course from the canoes: but he saw no traces of the men, nor did he receive any answer to his shouts nor the firing of his gun. It was now nearly dark; a duck lighted near him and he shot it. He then went on the head of a small island where he found some driftwood, which enabled him to cook his duck for supper, and he laid down to sleep on some willow brush. The night was cool, but the driftwood gave him a good fire, and he suffered no inconvenience except from the mosquitoes.

July 31, 1805
Wednesday 31. The next morning he waited till after seven o'clock, when he became uneasy lest we should have gone beyond his camp last evening and determined to follow us. Just as he had set out with this intention, he saw one of the party in advance of the canoes; although our camp was only two miles below him, in a straight line, we could not reach him sooner, in consequence of the rapidity of the water and the circuitous course of the river. We halted for breakfast, after which Captain Lewis continued his route. At the distance of one mile from our encampment we passed the principal entrance of a stream on the left, which rises in the snowy mountains to the southwest, between Jefferson and Madison rivers, and discharges itself by seven mouths, five below, and one three miles above this, which is the largest, and about thirty yards wide: we called it Philosophy river. The water of it is abundant and perfectly clear, and the bed like that of the Jefferson consists of pebble and gravel. There is some timber in the bottoms of the river, and vast numbers of otter and beaver, which build on its smaller mouths and the bayous of its neighborhood.

The Jefferson continues as yesterday, shoaly and rapid, but as the islands though numerous are small, it is however more collected into one current than it was below, and is from ninety to one hundred and twenty yards in width. The low ground has a fertile soil of rich black loam, and contains a considerable quantity of timber, with the bullrush and cattail flag very abundant in the moist parts, while the drier situations are covered with fine grass, tansy, thistles, onions, and flax. The uplands are barren, and without timber: the soil is a light yellow clay intermixed with small smooth pebble and gravel, and the only produce is the prickly-pear, the sedge, and the bearded grass, which is as dry and inflammable as tinder. As we proceeded the low grounds became narrower, and the timber more scarce, till at the distance of ten miles the high hills approach and overhang the river on both sides, forming cliffs of a hard black granite, like almost all those below the limestone cliffs at the three forks of the Missouri: they continue so for a mile and three quarters, where we came to a point of rock on the right side, at which place the hills again retire, and the valley widens to the distance of a mile and a half. Within the next five miles we passed four islands, and reached the foot of a mountain in a bend of the river to the left: from this place we went a mile and a quarter to the entrance of a small run discharging itself on the left, and encamped on an island just above it, after making seventeen and three quarter miles. We observe some pine on the hills on both sides of our encampment, which are very lofty. The only game which we have seen are one bighorn, a few antelopes, deer, and one brown bear, which escaped from our pursuit. Nothing was, however, killed to-day, nor have we had any fresh meat except one beaver for the last two days, so that we are now reduced to an unusual situation, for we have hitherto always had a great abundance of flesh.

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Journals of Lewis and Clark - Dates: July 27, 1805 - July 31, 1805

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