Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates October 1804 - Part Five
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: October 19, 1804 - October 26, 1804

 

This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates October 19, 1804 - October 26, 1804.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates October 19, 1804 - October 26, 1804

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates October 1804
 

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates October 19, 1804 - October 26, 1804
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: October 19, 1804 - October 26, 1804

October 19, 1804
Friday 19. We set sail with a fine morning, and a southeast wind, and at two and a half miles passed a creek on the north side: at eleven and a half miles we came to a lake or large pond on the same side, in which were some swans. On both banks of the Missouri are low grounds which have much more timber than lower down the river: the hills are at one or two miles distance from the banks, and the streams which rise in them are brackish, and the mineral salts appear on the sides of the hills and edges of the runs. In walking along the shore we counted fifty-two herds of buffalo, and three of elk, at a single view. Besides these we also observed elk, deer, pelicans, and wolves. After seventeen and a half miles we encamped on the north, opposite to the uppermost of a number of round hills, forming a cone at the top, one being about ninety, another sixty feet in height, and some of less elevation. Our chief tells us that the calumet bird lives in the holes formed by the filtration of the water from the top of these hills through the sides. Near to one of these moles, on a point of a hill ninety feet above the plain, are the remains of an old village which is high, strong, and has been fortified; this our chief tells us is the remains of one of the Mandan villages, and are the first ruins which we have seen of that nation in ascending the Missouri: opposite to our camp is a deep bend to the south, at the extremity of which is a pond.

October 20, 1804
Saturday 20. We proceeded early with a southeast wind, which continued high all day, and came to a creek on the north at two miles distance, twenty yards wide. At eight miles we reached the lower point of an island in the middle of the river, though there is no current on the south. This island is covered with willows and extends about two miles, there being a small creek coming in from the south at its lower extremity. After making twelve miles we encamped on the south, at the upper part of a bluff containing stone-coal of an inferior quality; immediately below this bluff and on the declivity of a hill, are the remains of a village covering six or eight acres, formerly occupied by the Mandans, who, says our Ricara chief, once lived in a number of villages on each side of the river, till the Sioux forced them forty miles higher; whence after a few years residence, they moved to their present position. The country through, which we passed has wider bottoms and more timber than those we have been accustomed to see, the hills rising at a distance and by gradual ascents. We have seen great numbers of elk, deer, [113]goats, and buffalo, and the usual attendants of these last, the wolves, who follow their movements and feed upon those who die by accident, or who are too poor to keep pace with the herd; we also wounded a white bear, and saw some fresh tracks of those animals which are twice as large as the track of a man.

October 21, 1804
Sunday 21. Last night the weather was cold, the wind high from the northeast, and the rain which fell froze on the ground. At daylight it began to snow, and continued till the afternoon, when it remained cloudy and the ground was covered with snow. We however, set out early, and just above our camp came to a creek on the south, called Chisshetaw, about thirty yards wide and with a considerable quantity of water. Our Ricara chief tells us, that at some distance up this river is situated a large rock which is held in great veneration, and visited by parties who go to consult it as to their own or their nations' destinies, all of which they discern in some sort of figures or paintings with which it is covered. About two miles off from the mouth of the river the party on shore saw another of the objects of Ricara superstition: it is a large oak tree, standing alone in the open prairie, and as it alone has withstood the fire which has consumed every thing around, the Indians naturally ascribe to it extraordinary powers. One of their ceremonies is to make a hole in the skin of their necks through which a string is passed and the other end tied to the body of the tree; and after remaining in this way for some time they think they become braver. At two miles a from our encampment we came to the ruins of a second Mandan village, which was in existence at the same time with that just mentioned. It is situated on the north at the foot of a hill in a beautiful and extensive plain, which is now covered with herds of buffalo: nearly opposite are remains of a third village on the south of the Missouri; and there is another also about two miles further on the north, a little off the river. At the distance of seven miles we encamped on the south, and spent [114]a cold night. We procured to-day a buffalo and an otter only. The river is wide and the sandbars numerous, and a low island near our encampment.

October 22, 1804
Monday 22. In the morning we passed an old Mandan village on the south, near our camp; at four miles another on the same side. About seven o'clock we came to at a camp of eleven Sioux of the Teton tribe, who are almost perfectly naked, having only a piece of skin or cloth round the middle, though we are suffering from the cold. From their appearance, which is warlike, and from their giving two different accounts of themselves, we believe that they are either going to or returning from the Mandans, to which nations the Sioux frequently make excursions to steal horses. As their conduct displeased as, we gave them nothing. At six we reached an island about one mile in length, at the head of which is a Mandan village on the north in ruins, and two miles beyond a bad sandbar. At eight miles are remains of another Mandan village on the south; and at twelve miles encamped on the south. The hunters brought in a buffalo bull, and mentioned that of about three hundred which they had seen, there was not a single female. The beaver is here in plenty, and the two Frenchmen who are returning with us catch several every night.

These villages which are nine in number are scattered along each side of the river within a space of twenty miles; almost all that remains of them is the wall which surrounded them, the fallen heaps of earth which covered the houses, and occasionally human skulls and the teeth and bones of men, and different animals, which are scattered on the surface of the ground.

October 23, 1804
Tuesday 23. The weather was cloudy and we had some snow; we soon arrived at five lodges where the two Frenchmen had been robbed, but the Indians had left it lately as we found the fires still burning. The country consists as usual of timbered low grounds, with grapes, rushes, and great quantities of a small red acid fruit, known among the [115]Indians by a name signifying rabbitberries, and called by the French graisse de buffle or buffalo fat. The river too, is obstructed by many sandbars. At twelve miles we passed an old village on the north, which was the former residence of the Ahnahaways who now live between the Mandans and Minnetarees. After making thirteen miles we encamped on the south.

October 24, 1804
Wednesday 24. The day was again dark and it snowed a little in the morning. At three miles we came to a point on the south, where the river by forcing a channel across a former bend has formed a large island on the north. On this island we found one of the grand chiefs of the Mandans, who with five lodges was on a hunting excursion. He met his enemy the Ricara chief, with great ceremony and apparent cordiality, and smoked with him. After visiting his lodges, the grand chief and his brother came on board our boat for a short time; we then proceeded and encamped on the north, at seven miles from our last night's station and below the old village of the Mandans and Ricaras. Here four Mandans came down from a camp above, and our Ricara chief returned with them to their camp, from which we auger favourably of their pacific views towards each other. The land is low and beautiful, and covered with oak and cottonwood, but has been too recently hunted to afford much game.

October 25, 1804
25th. The morning was cold and the wind gentle from the southeast: at three miles we passed a handsome high prairie on the south, and on an eminence about forty feet above the water and extending back for several miles in a beautiful plain, was situated an old village of the Mandan nation which has been deserted for many years. A short distance above it, on the continuation of the same rising ground are two old villages of Ricaras, one on the top of the hill, the other in the level plain, which have been deserted only five years ago. Above these villages is an extensive low ground for several miles, in which are situated, at three or four miles from the Ricara villages, three old villages [116]of Mandans near together. Here the Mandans lived when the Ricaras came to them for protection, and from this they moved to their present situation above. In the low ground the squaws raised their corn, and the timber, of which there was little near the villages, was supplied from the opposite side of the river, where it was and still is abundant.

As we proceeded several parties of Mandans both on foot and horseback came along the river to view us, and were very desirous that we should land and talk to them: this we could not do on account of the sandbreaks on the shore, but we sent our Ricara chief to them in a pirogue. The wind too having shifted to the southwest and being very high it required all our precautions on board, for the river was full of sandbars which made it very difficult to find the channel. We got aground several times, and passed a very bad point of rocks, after which we encamped on a sandpoint to the north, above a handsome plain covered with timber, and opposite to a high hill on the south side at the distance of eleven miles. Here we were joined by our Ricara chief, who brought an Indian to the camp where he remained all night.

October 26, 1804
26th. We set out early with a southwest wind, and after putting the Ricara chief on shore to join the Mandans who were in great numbers along it, we proceeded to the camp of the grand chiefs four miles distant. Here we met a Mr. M‘Cracken one of the northwest or Hudson Bay company, who arrived with another person about nine days ago to trade for horses and buffalo robes. Two of the chiefs came on board with some of their household furniture, such as earthern pots and a little corn and went on with us; the rest of the Indians following on shore. At one mile beyond the camp we passed a small creek, and at three more a bluff of coal of an inferior quality on the south. After making eleven miles we reached an old field where the Mandans had cultivated grain last summer, and encamped for the night on the south side, about half a mile below the first village of the Mandans. In the morning we had a willow low ground on the south and highland on the north, which occasionally varied in the course of the day. There is but little wood on this part of the river, which is here subdivided into many channels and obstructed by sandbars. As soon as we arrived a crowd of men, women, and children came down to see us. Captain Lewis returned with the principal chiefs to the village, while the others remained with us during the evening; the object which seemed to surprise them most, was a cornmill fixed to the boat which we had occasion to use, and delighted them by the ease with which it reduced the grain to powder. Among others who visited us was the son of the grand chief of the Mandans, who had his two little fingers cut off at the second joints. On inquiring into this accident, we found that it was customary to express grief for the death of relations by some corporeal suffering, and that the usual mode was to lose two joints of the little fingers, or sometimes the other fingers. The wind blew very cold in the evening from the southwest. Two of the party are affected with rheumatic complaints.

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