Lewis and Clark
Journal Summary 14: Dates March 23, 1806 - April 18, 1806
is a summary of the journal entries made by Lewis and Clark.
Dates: March 23, 1806 - April 18, 1806
The Return Journey
Began With Strong Currents and Problems With Some Indians
March 23, 1806
The Corps of Discovery left Fort Clatsop at 1pm to return
home. They battled against the wind and strong currents
but managed to progress 15 to 20 miles for the first few
days. Lewis and Clark sent a couple of hunters ahead to
provide meat for the expedition to eat when they caught
up with them.
Lewis and Clark learned from passing Indians that further
along their route there were not many animals to hunt and
that the fish wouldn’t return until early May. However they
couldn’t wait where they were until then as the delay could
prevent them reaching the Missouri before it froze, and
could interfere with their plans to meet up with the Chopunnish
Indians to recover the horses that they’d left with them.
They decided to remain long enough to stock up with enough
meat to sustain them until they met up with the Chopunnish.
They intended to send a small party ahead to collect the
horses and be ready for the main party’s arrival.
Following some information gained during a meeting with
some Indians, William Clark led a small party back along
the river to find a river they hadn’t seen. It had been
suggested that this river, which the Indians called Multnomah,
was a large river which discharged itself into the Columbia.
Clark’s trip was successful and returned with a sketch of
the river, and the nations living on it, that had been drawn
by one of the Indians.
Many parties of Indians visited as they were passing. Those
traveling down the river were moving homes because of the
scarcity of food, and scavenged the animal bones and our
leftovers. Those traveling up the river were visiting through
curiosity. A few Indians tried to sneak into the camp, at
different times, to steal things but were seen off by guards.
When the expedition stopped at one of the Indian villages
on their route, they found a tomahawk that had been stolen
from them on their way to the Pacific. They retrieved it
and, despite protestations from the Indians, managed to
keep hold of it.
Their journey continued to be difficult with the very strong
currents carrying them in the wrong direction whenever they
crossed the river. The wind and rain continued daily.
April 10, 1806
A small canoe was washed
away, fortunately some Indians down the river managed to
recover it and were given a couple of knives for their efforts.
The expedition continued to be dogged by Indians who were
eager to steal from them. On several occasions they had
to chase after them and threaten them with death to retrieve
the stolen items.
William Clark and a number of the men began taking the canoes
up a rapid. They couldn’t manage all of them as the route
was far more difficult during the ascent than it had been
when they’d descended it. The river was some 20 feet higher
on their return. The canoes sustained some damage during
this portage (carrying of cargo or water craft over land),
which was approximately three miles in length, and the men
became exhausted. The following day they lost a pirogue
as they tried to tow it over the rapids.
The loss of the pirogue resulted in its load being distributed
between the remaining 2 pirogues and 2 of the canoes. However
this made them unsafe because of the high winds. Meriwether
Lewis managed to procure 2 canoes from the nearby Indians
to enable them to continue safely. When the expedition passed
Indian villages that had horses they tried, on several occasions,
to buy some without success.
April 18, 1806
William Clark managed
to procure 4 horses. Lewis and Clark decided that they could
take the 2 pirogues no further and cut them up for fuel.
The Indians informed the expedition that they’d caught the
first salmon of the season and that many more would arrive
over the next 5 days.