Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates May 1805 - Part Three
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: May 8, 1805 - May 11, 1805


This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates May 8, 1805 - May 11, 1805.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates May 8, 1805 - May 11, 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates May 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates May 8, 1805 - May 11, 1805
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: May 8, 1805 - May 11, 1805

May 8, 1805
Wednesday 8. A light breeze from the east carried us sixteen miles, till we halted for dinner at the entrance of a river on the north. Captain Clarke who had walked on the south, on ascending a high point opposite to its entrance discovered a level and beautiful country which it watered; that its course for twelve or fifteen miles was N.W. when it divided into two nearly equal branches, one pursuing a direction nearly north, the other to the W. of N.W: its width at the entrance is one hundred and fifty yards, and on going three miles up, Captain Lewis found it to be of the same breadth, and sometimes more; it is deep, gentle, and has a large quantity of water; its bed is principally of mud, the banks abrupt, about twelve feet in height, and formed of a dark, rich loam and blue clay; the low grounds near it are wide and fertile, and possess a considerable proportion of cottonwood and willow. It seems to be navigable for boats and canoes, and this circumstance joined to its course and the quantity of water, which indicates that it passes through a large extent of country, we are led to presume that it may approach the Saskashawan and afford a communication with that river.

The water has a peculiar whiteness, such as might be produced by a tablespoon full of milk in a dish of tea, and this circumstance induced us to call it Milk river. In the evening we had made twenty-seven miles, and encamped on the south. The country on that side consists in general of high broken hills, with much gray, black and brown granite scattered over the surface of the ground. At a little distance from the river there is no timber on either side, the wood being confined as below to the margin of the river; so that unless the contrary is particularly mentioned, it is always understood that the upland is perfectly naked, and that we consider the low grounds well timbered if even a fifth be covered with wood. The wild liquorice is found in great abundance on these hills, as is also the white apple. As usual we are surrounded by buffalo, elk, common and black tailed deer, beaver, antelopes and wolves. We observed a place where an Indian had recently taken the hair off an antelope's skin, and some of the party thought they distinguished imperfectly some smoke and Indian lodges up Milk river, marks which we are by no means desirous of realizing, as the Indians are probably Assiniboines, and might be very troublesome.

May 9, 1805
Thursday, 9th. We again had a favorable wind and sailed along very well. Between four and five miles we passed a large island in a deep bend to the north, and a large sandbar at the upper point. At fifteen and a quarter miles we reached the bed of a most extraordinary river which presents itself on the south: though as wide as the Missouri itself, that is about half a mile, it does not discharge a drop of water and contains nothing but a few standing pools. On ascending it three miles we found an eminence from which we saw the direction of the channel, first south for ten or twelve miles, then turning to the east of southeast as far as we could see; it passes through a wide valley without timber, and the surrounding country consists of waving low hills interspersed with some handsome level plains; the banks are abrupt and consist of a black or yellow clay; or of a rich sandy loam, but though they do not rise more than six or eight feet above the bed, they exhibit no appearance of being overflowed: the bed is entirely composed of a light brown sand, the particles of which like [212]those of the Missouri are extremely fine.

Like the dry rivers we passed before, this seemed to have discharged its waters recently, but the watermark indicated that its greatest depth had not been more than two feet: this stream, if it deserve the name, we called Bigdry river. About a mile below is a large creek on the same side, which is also perfectly dry: the mineral salts and quartz are in large quantities near this neighborhood. The sand of the Missouri from its mouth to this place has been mixed with a substance which we had presumed to be a granulated chalk, but which is most probably this quartz. The game is now in great quantities, particularly the elk and buffalo, which last is so gentle that the men are obliged to drive them out of the way with sticks and stones. The ravages of the beaver are very apparent: in one place the timber was entirely prostrated for a space of three acres in front on the river and one in depth, and great part of it removed, although the trees were in large quantities, and some of them as thick as the body of a man. At the distance of twenty-four miles we encamped, after making twenty-five and a half miles, at the entrance of a small creek in a bend on the north; to which we gave the name of Werner's creek after one of our men.

For several days past the river has been as wide as it generally is near its mouth, but as it is much shallower, crowded with sandbars, and the color of the water has become much clearer, we do not yet despair of reaching the Rock mountains, for which we are very anxious.

May 10, 1805
Friday, 10th. We had not proceeded more than four and a quarter miles when the violence of the wind forced us to halt for the day under some timber in a bend on the south side. The wind continued high, the clouds thick and black, and we had a slight sprinkling of rain several times in the course of the day. Shortly after our landing a dog came to us, and as this induced us to believe that we are near the hunting grounds of the Assiniboines, who are a vicious [213]ill-disposed people, it was necessary to be on our guard: we therefore inspected our arms which we found in good order, and sent several hunters to scour the country, but they returned in the evening having seen no tents, nor any recent tracks of Indians. Biles and imposthumes are very common among the party, and sore eyes continue in a greater or less degree with all of us; for the imposthumes we use emollient poultices, and apply to the eyes a solution of two grains of white vitriol and one of sugar of lead with one ounce of water.

May 11, 1805
Saturday, 11th. The wind blew very hard in the night, but having abated this morning we went on very well, till in the afternoon the wind arose and retarded our progress; the current too was strong, the river very crooked, and the banks as usual constantly precipitating themselves in large masses into the water. The highlands are broken and approach nearer the river than they do below. The soil however of both hills and low grounds appear as fertile as that further down the river: it consists of a black looking loam with a small portion of sand, which cover the hills and bluffs to the depth of twenty or thirty feet, and when thrown in the water dissolves as readily as loaf-sugar, and effervesces like marle; there are also great appearances of quartz and mineral salts: the first is most commonly seen in the faces of the bluffs, the second is found on the hills as well as the low grounds, and in the gullies which come down from the hills; it lies in a crust of two or three inches in depth, and may be swept up with a feather in large quantities. There is no longer any appearance of coal burnt earth or pumice stone.

We saw and visited some high hills on the north side about three miles from the river, whose tops were covered with the pitch-pine: this in the first pine we have seen on the Missouri, and it is like that of Virginia, except that the leaves are somewhat longer; among this pine is also a dwarf cedar, sometimes between three or four feet high, but generally spreading itself like a vine along the surface of the earth, which it covers very closely, putting out roots from the under side. The fruit and smell resemble those of the common red cedar, but the leaf is finer and more delicate. The tops of the hills where these plants grow have a soil quite different from that just described, the basis of it is usually yellow or white clay, and the general appearance light colored, sandy, and barren, some scattering tufts of sedge being almost its only herbage. About five in the afternoon one of our men who had been afflicted with biles, and suffered to walk on shore, came running to the boats with loud cries and every symptom of terror and distress: for some time after we had taken him on board he was so much out of breath as to be unable to describe the cause of his anxiety, but he at length told us that about a mile and a half below he had shot a brown bear which immediately turned and was in close pursuit of him; but the bear being badly wounded could not overtake him.

Captain Lewis with seven men immediately went in search of him, and having found his track followed him by the blood for a mile, and found him concealed in some thick brushwood, and shot him with two balls through the skull. Though somewhat smaller than that killed a few days ago, he was a monstrous animal and a most terrible enemy: our man had shot him through the centre of the lungs, yet he had pursued him furiously for half a mile, then returned more than twice that distance, and with his talons had prepared himself a bed in the earth two feet deep and five feet long, and was perfectly alive when they found him, which was at least two hours after he received the wound. The wonderful power of life which these animals possess render them dreadful: their very track in the mud or sand, which we have sometimes found eleven inches long and seven and a quarter wide, exclusive of the talons, is alarming; and we had rather encounter two Indians than meet a single brown bear. There is no chance of killing them by a single shot unless the ball goes through the brains, and this is very difficult [215]on account of two large muscles which cover the side of the forehead, and the sharp projection of the centre of the frontal bone, which is also thick. Our encampment was on the south at the distance of sixteen miles from that of last night; the fleece and skin of the bear were a heavy burden for two men, and the oil amounted to eight gallons.

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Journals of Lewis and Clark - Dates: May 8, 1805 - May 11, 1805

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