May 14, 1804
22.96% Complete
Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

May 14, 1804


Set out from Camp River a Dubois at 4 oClock P. M. and proceded up the Missouris under Sail to the first Island in the Missouri and Camped on the upper point opposit a Creek on the South Side below a ledge of limestone rock Called Colewater, [2] made 4½ miles, the Party Consisted of 2, Self one frenchman and 22 Men in the Boat of 20 ores, 1 Serjt. & 7 french in a large Perogue, a Corp and 6 Soldiers in a large Perogue. [3]    a Cloudy rainey day. wind from the N E.    men in high Spirits


Rained the forepart of the day    I determined to go as far as St. Charles a french Village 7 Leags. [5] up the Missourie, and wait at that place untill Capt. Lewis Could finish the business in which he was obliged to attend to at St Louis and join me by Land from that place 24 miles; by this movement I calculated that if any alterations in the loading of the Vestles or other Changes necessary, that they might be made at St. Charles

I Set out at 4 oClock P. M. in the presence of many of the Neighbouring inhabitents, and proceeded on under a jentle brease up the Missourie to the upper Point of the 1st Island 4 Miles and Camped on the Island which is Situated Close on the right (or Starboard) Side, and opposit the mouth of a Small Creek called Cold water, a heavy rain this after-noon

The Course of this day nearly West    wind from N. E


The mouth of the River Dubois opposite to the mouth of the Missouri River is situated in—

Longitude West from Grenwh. 89° 57' 45"
Latitude N. 38° 55' 19.6"

Note—The Longitude of the mouth of the River Dubois was calculated from four sets of observations of the ☉ & ☽, in which the ☉ was twice West, and twice East; two sets with Aldebaran, ★ East in one, and W. in the other; and one set with Spica, ★, ★ East. the Longtd. above stated is the mean result of those observations, and I think may with safety be depended on to two or three minutes of a degree. The Chronometer's error on M. T. was found at the mouth of the Ohio by 3 sets of Equal Altitudes, and the Longtd. of the mouth of the River Dubois as given by this instrument from Equal altitudes of the ☉ on the 17th of December 1803 was 90° 00' 20". West from Grenwh. making a difference from the Longitude calculated from observation of 2' 35"—

The Latitude is deduced from a number of Meridian altitudes of the ☉, taken with the sextant and artificial horizon, the results of which observations seldom differed more than from 15 to 20"; I therefore believe that the Latitude above stated may be dependend on as true to 100 hundred pages.—

The mouth of the River Dubois is to be considered as the point of departure.


Monday May the 14th 1804. Showery day. Capt Clark Set out at 3 oClock P. M. for the western expedition.    one Gun fired.    a nomber of Citizens see us Start.    the party consisted of 3 Sergeants & 38 Good hands, [8] which maned the Batteaux and two pearogues. [9]    we Sailed up the Missouri 6 miles & encamped [10] on the N. Side of the River.

Map of Expedition's Route, May 14, 1804-September 23, 1806
University of Nebraska Press


A Journal [11] commenced at River Dubois—    monday 〈14th 180〉 may 14th 1804    Showery day    Capt Clark Set out at 3 oclock P m for the western expidition    the party Consisted of 3 Serguntes and 38 working hands which maned the Batteaw and two Perogues    we Sailed up the missouria 6 miles and encamped on the N. side of the River


On Monday the 14th of May 1804, we left our establishment at the mouth of the river du Bois or Wood river, a small river which falls into the Mississippi, on the east-side, a mile below the Missouri, and having crossed the Mississippi proceeded up the Missouri on our intended voyage of discovery, under the command of Captain Clarke. Captain Lewis was to join us in two or three days on our passage. [12]

The corps consisted of forty-three men (including Captain Lewis and Captain Clarke, who were to command the expedition) part of the regular troops of the United States, and part engaged for this particular enterprize. The expedition was embarked on board a batteau and two periogues. The day was showery and in the evening we encamped on the north bank six miles up the river. Here we had leisure to reflect on our situation, and the nature of our engagements: and, as we had all entered this service as volunteers, to consider how far we stood pledged for the success of an expedition, which the government had projected; and which had been undertaken for the benefit and at the expence of the Union: of course of much interest and high expectation.

The best authenticated accounts informed us, that we were to pass through a country possessed by numerous, powerful and warlike nations of savages, of gigantic stature, fierce, treacherous and cruel; and particularly hostile to white men. And fame had united with tradition in opposing mountains to our course, which human enterprize and exertion would attempt in vain to pass. [13] The determined and resolute character, however, of the corps, and the confidence which pervaded all ranks dispelled every emotion of fear, and anxiety for the present; while a sense of duty, and of the honour, which would attend the completion of the object of the expedition; a wish to gratify the expectations of the government, and of our fellow citizens, with the feelings which novelty and discovery invariably inspire, seemed to insure to us ample support in our future toils, suffering and dangers.


Monday 14th May 1804. [14]    hard Showers of rain.    this being the day appointed by Capt. Clark to Set out, a number of the Sitizens of Gotian [15] Settlement came to See us Start.    we got in readiness.    Capt. Lewis is now at St. Louis but will join us at St. Charls.    about 3 Oclock P.M. Capt. Clark and the party consisting of three Sergeants and 38 men [16] who manned the Batteaux and perogues.    we fired our Swivel [17] on the bow hoisted Sail and Set out in high Spirits for the western Expedition.    we entered the mouth of the Missourie haveing a fair wind Sailed abt. 6 miles and Camped on the North Side.—

1804 Monday May 14th [18]    This day being appointed for our departure, from Wood River, a number of the Inhabitants (Americans) from Goshen settlement came to see us start for the Western Ocean; we got in readiness, at 3 o'Clock P.M. Captain William Clark, Three Sergeants and 38 Men, who mann'd the boat, and Two pettiaugers; [19] fired the Swivel from the Bow of the Boat; hoisted Sail, and set out in high spirits, for our intended Western expedition: we entered the mouth of the Mesouri River, having a fair Wind from So East, and Rain; we sailed up the said River about Six Miles, and encamped on the North side of it.—    The River Misouri is about one Mile wide, and on the South side of it near its mouth is an Island and its waters are always muddy occasion'd by its banks falling in, the current Runs at about five Miles & a half p hour; the banks are very steep, and the bottom very muddy.    Wood River lies in Latitude 38° 54° North & the mouth of the River Mesouri 38° 54 39' North & Longitude 112° 15 West from Greenwich.

1. The first entry of the Field Notes (River Journal), written at the head of document 13. At the top of the sheet is the notation, apparently by Nicholas Biddle, "May 14 to 25th"; Biddle probably added those notations to most of the documents of the River Journal to make it readily apparent the dates each sheet covered. He did not do that with the Dubois Journal sheets, although he probably did examine them, because his narrative dealt only with the expedition proper, beginning May 14, 1804. Osgood (FN), 41. (back)
2. Probably the St. Louis limestone of middle Mississippian age. See also the first entry for May 14. (back)
3. Because of discrepancies in the records and journals, especially concerning the French boatmen, it is difficult to determine exactly the number of men who left River Dubois with Clark. George Drouillard was absent on an errand and may not be the Frenchman singled out by Clark; possibly he was Baptiste Deschamps, the patroon (foreman) of the hired French boatmen, although later he seems to have been in charge of a pirogue (see May 26, 1804, Detachment Order, below). The exact number and names of the French boatmen remain unclear throughout (see Appendix A). Clark may not have counted York, his personal servant, in his total. Among those leaving Wood River, besides Clark and York, were twenty-five members of the permanent party, as then planned, who were to make the full trip to the Pacific: Sergeants Floyd, Ordway, and Pryor, and Privates Bratton, Collins, Colter, Reubin and Joseph Field, Gass, Gibson, Goodrich, Hall, Howard, McNeal, Newman, Potts, Reed, Shannon, Shields, Thompson, Werner, Whitehouse, Willard, Windsor, and Weiser. Corporal Richard Warfington's detachment, who were to return from some point up the Missouri with dispatches, then included Privates Boley, Dame, Frazer, Tuttle, and White. Private John Robertson (Robinson) may also have been present at this time; perhaps he was one of the six soldiers in a pirogue—probably Warfington's squad. (See sketch of Robertson, Appendix A.) The enlisted men's journals all state that there were three sergeants and thirty-eight "working hands"; whether York counted as a working hand is not clear. If one counts twenty-five in the permanent party and seven men in Warfington's detachment, nine French boatmen are necessary for the three sergeants and thirty-eight hands. Adding York, one has forty-two men leaving River Dubois with Clark. Other Frenchmen may have been hired at St. Charles, notably Pierre Cruzatte and François Labiche, who became members of the permanent party. Appleman (LC), 367 n. 64. (back)
4. This May 14 entry is in Clark's notebook Codex A. Clark's entries from the Field Notes will uniformly come first and notebook journal entries second for each date, reflecting the probable order of composition. (back)
5. A league is a variable measure of about three miles. That must have been Clark's usage since his mileage tables show St. Charles as being twenty-one miles above St. Louis. (back)
6. Undated astronomical note in Codex O. See Appendix C, Lewis's description of astronomical instruments, July 22, 1804, and notes with the November 15, 1803, entry. It is placed here because here began the leaders' regular astronomical observations at their "point of departure." Observations from Codex O are normally placed after the regular daily entries. (back)
7. This is the first of three notebooks that comprise Ordway's journal. The first notebook contains handstitched sheets covered with loose boards, 322 pages (erratically paged) in length, divided into four parts, and of varying size, from about 8½ by 6½ inches to about 7¾ by 6¼ inches. This notebook covers the period from May 14, 1804, to September 30, 1805 (see Appendix C). Random writing appears on the front and back of the outside cover, too faint and blurred to read. On the inside front cover are several random words, "Silas," "John Munsell," "[H]udon," "J Howard," "Wife," and others too faint to decipher. On the inside back cover is the following: "No. II. Orderly Book commencing 26th February 1793    Thomas Hughes Major 1st S L"; and a column of numbers too faint to read. Hughes was a major in the first sublegion of the U.S. Army from November 1792 until he resigned from the service in October 1794; it is not known how Ordway came to have his notebook. On the first page, preceding the page which begins the expedition entries, is the following: "John Ordways Journal Book    Detachment Orders, Camp River Dubois    Lat at Dubois 38d 19m N. Lon[gitude at Dubois] 90[m] N. W;—"; and several words crowded in above this, including, "Silas [Delash?]," "Said Silas," and "7000 miles to Mandan." The remainder of the page is blank. (back)
8. The composition of the party at this time is discussed in Appendix A. (back)
9. The keelboat (batteaux) is discussed at Lewis's entry for August 30, 1803, and the pirogues are considered at entries for September 4, 1803, and May 13, 1804. (back)
10. Near the mouth of Coldwater Creek, St. Charles County , Missouri, a little above the town of Fort Bellefontaine. (back)
11. Floyd's journal is a notebook of fifty-six numbered pages of text and eighteen unnumbered blank pages, covered in marbled boards, and 7½ by 5⅞ inches in size. It includes Floyd's due bills, his journal of the expedition with some writing by Clark within the entries, and then miscellaneous notes by Floyd. On the inside front cover of the journal, preceding this entry, is the following:
Recd. of Monsier Pier Shierker 5 Carrtts of tobacko
at 3 s/o d per peece
Mayse Corn & Dolce Due     .50
  ONail 2 Carrits $1     dollr P. Gass G. for T.
Decemb Newman 1 Do.     50 Cents Jos. Field G. for T.
8th Shields 1 do.     50    
1803 Gibson 1 do     50    
      $2.50 Cents    

March 13 1804

Renued ouer Journey    began our voyage much feteged after yester day worke

The persons mentioned above may be identified as follows: "Shierker" is probably Jean Pierre Chouteau; the remainder were members of the party, Hugh McNeal (perhaps), Gass, John Newman, Joseph Field, Shields, and Gibson. "Carrits" are carrots, or rolls, of tobacco. The entry for March 13, 1804, cannot be expanded on since no journals for other members of the party exist for this date. It would appear that Floyd was on a trip with Clark during this time, yet on the back inside cover of this journal Floyd notes that he purchased the notebook on this date at River Dubois. See also Clark's entry of March 21, 1804, and the Weather Diary entry for March 19, 1804. Before the first page of Floyd's journal are the stubs of three sheets. On the reverse of the second sheet are the words: "Shore—    mile the fam of the Hassas thare we 〈luft〉." On the obverse of the third sheet are these words: "our Dog + 2 miles I [lared] 〈on the    in the〉." Given the damage to the journal at this point, the transcription here is uncertain. Floyd's time, numbers, and distance vary from those of Clark and others for this day. (back)
12. At this point David McKeehan or some person inserted a note for this entry. Such notes were inserted occasionally throughout the book and are reprinted as textual notes in this edition and identified as "McKeehan's note." The first note reads as follows: "The confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers is in latitude about 38 degrees and forty minutes north, and in longitude 92 degrees and an half west of London, or 17 and a third west of Philadelphia. The town of St. Louis is 14 miles below the mouth of the Missouri on the west side of the Mississippi; and Cahokia about 4 or 5 miles lower down on the east side. The longitude of these places is nearly the same with that of the mouth of the river St. Louis at the west end of lake Superior in 46 degrees 45 minutes north latitude; about 2 degrees west of New Orleans in latitude 30 degrees north, and the same number of degrees east of the most western point of Hudson's Bay, in latitude about 59 degrees north: So that a line drawn from New Orleans to Fort Churchhill, at the mouth of Churchhill river on the west side of Hudson's Bay, would pass very near the mouth of the Missouri and the west end of lake Superior." For his notes McKeehan relied mainly on Alexander Mackenzie's Voyages from Montreal (London, 1801). (back)
13. Here McKeehan inserted what was probably the way most Americans then pictured the regions beyond the Mississippi and its inhabitants.

Preceding Gass's first entry are several pages of preliminary book material that read as follows:


District of Pennsylvania, to wit:

(L. S.) Be it remembered, That on the eleventh day of April in the thirty-first year of the Independence of the United States of America, A. D. 1807, David McKeehan , of the said District hath deposited in this Office, the Title of a Book the Right whereof he claims as Proprietor in the words following, to wit:

"A Journal of the Voyages and Travels of a Corps of Discovery, under the command of Capt. Lewis and Capt. Clarke of the Army of the United States, from the mouth of the river Missouri through the interior parts of North America to the Pacific Ocean, during the years 1804, 1805 and 1806. Containing an authentic relation of the most interesting transactions during the expedition,—A description of the country,—And an account of its inhabitants, soil, climate, curiosities, and vegetable and animal productions.— By Patrick Gass , one of the persons employed in the Expedition. With Geographical and Explanatory Notes by the Publisher."

In Conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, intituled, "An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such Copies during the Times therein mentioned" And also to the Act, entitled "An Act supplementary to Act, entitled, "An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such Copies during the Times therein mentioned," and extending the Benefits thereof to the Arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other Prints."

D. Caldwell, Clerk of the District of Pennsylvania


Of the various publications which unite amusement and information, few can be justly held in higher estimation than the Journals and Narratives of Travellers and Voyagers: and in our own highly favoured country, the diffusion of general knowledge, the enterprizing spirit of the people, their commercial pursuits and habits of emigration, render such works particularly valuable and interesting; while the vigorous and unrestrained mind of the free American, by amplifying and embellishing the scenes presented to its view, enjoys the choicest luxuries of the entertainment they are calculated to afford. If it is conceded that discoveries made in North America are more important to the people of the United States than those made elsewhere, it will not be difficult to shew that none could have been made of so much importance to them in any part of the world as in the large tracts of country through which the late expedition, under the command of Captain Lewis and Captain Clarke, passed. For if we take a view of the different discoveries and settlements previously made, we will find that those tracts through which the Missouri and Columbia rivers, and their branches flow, commonly called unknown regions, were the only parts remaining unexplored, which could be considered valuable.

The first discovery of the Western World by Europeans of which we have any authentick accounts, being near the southern extremity of North America, drew, as might be expected, their attention to that quarter: and the rage which this grand discovery excited for other enterprizes of the same nature; the avidity, with which avarice was stimulated to seize the precious metals, known to exist in those parts; the means held out for gratifying ambition; and the prospects of a lucrative commerce, with many other objects and considerations tended largely to extend them; while the diminution of the Northern Continent to a narrow isthmus, and its large gulfphs, bays and rivers, furnished and facilitated the means of exploring it. The spirit of enterprize, however, was not confined to the southern extremity; but extending itself to the climates congenial with those which it had left, and connecting with its researches the planting of colonies, important discoveries were made along the Atlantic coast. In the mean time the project of discovering a northwest passage to the East Indies led the boldest naval commanders of Europe through the inland seas, bays and straights of the north; and at length produced surveys of the shores of the Pacific. To these discoveries, and those occasionally made during the settlement of the country within the limits of the United States, and in Canada, the Hudson's Bay company, though not famed for enterprize added something to the stock of general information, and by their establishments aided others in their enterprizes. Mr. Hearne under the direction of this company, in an expedition which lasted from the 7th of December 1770 to the 30th of June 1772, proceeded from Prince of Wales' Fort, on the Churchhill river in latitude 58d. 47½m. north, and longitude 94d 7½m. west of Greenwich, or 19d. west of Philadelphia, to the mouth of the Coppermine river, which according to some accounts is in latitude 72d. north and longitude 119d. west from Greenwich, or 44d. west of Philadelphia; but is laid down by others to be in latitude about 69d. north, and longitude 112d. west from Greenwich or 37d. west from Philadelphia. Whatever the confined views and contracted policy of the Hudson's Bay Company may, however, have omitted in the way of discovery, the enterprize and perseverance of the Canadian traders, sometime since united under the name of the North West Company, have amply supplied. Prior to the year 1789 they had extended their discoveries and establishments along the numerous lakes and rivers situated north of that high tract of country which divides the Mississippi and Missouri waters from those which run towards the north and east, to within a short distance of the Rocky Mountains. In the summer of this year Mr. McKenzie made a voyage from Fort Chepewyan on the lake of the Hills in latitude 58d. 40m. north, and longitude 110d. 30m. west from Greenwich or 35d. 22m. west from Philadelphia, by the way of the Slave river, Slave lake, and a river by which this lake discharges its waters (since called McKenzie's river) to the mouth of that river, where it falls into the North sea, in latitude 69d. 14m. north and longitude 135d. west from Greenwich, or 59d. 52m. west from Philadelphia. He again in the year 1793 penetrated from an establishment on the Peace river in latitude 56d. 9m. north, and longitude 117d. 35m. west from Greenwich, or 41d. 27m. west from Philadelphia, to the Pacific ocean in latitude 52d. 24m. north, and longitude 128d. 2m. west from Greenwich, or 52d. 54m. west from Philadelphia.

By the discoveries alluded to, and those occasionally made during the rapid settlement of the country and the progress of enterprize, the principal divisions of this Northern Continent has been explored and become known. The line separating these from the parts which remained unexplored and unknown, may be considered as commencing at the Pacific ocean in latitude about 38d. north, and running along the high lands and mountains between the waters which fall into the gulphs of California and Mexico and those which fall into the Missouri river, and continuing in that direction to the Mississippi; thence up that river to the source of its highest north western branch; thence along the high tract of country which divides the waters of the Missouri from those which fall into Hudson's Bay and the North sea; from whence it will continue across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific ocean in latitude about 52d. north. To the south of this general division line, the known countries will be Old and New Mexico and a part of Louisiana; to the southeast, West and East Florida; to the east, the United States; to the northeast, Canada, the Labrador country, part of New South Wales and of other countries round Hudson's Bay; and to the north, part of New South Wales, New North Wales, the Athabasca and other countries containing the establishments of the Hudson's Bay and North West Companies, and those explored by Hearne and McKenzie: leaving unknown and unexplored (except so far as the surveys made by navigators of the coast of the Pacific, and the imperfect accounts of traders who have ascended the Missouri have furnished information) all that large intermediate tract, containing in breadth about 1000 miles; and in length in a direct line, about 1800 miles, and by the way of the Missouri and Columbia rivers nearly twice that distance. This tract from its situation may be supposed to contain the chief part of those lands in the great western division of the continent of North America fit for tillage: and this circumstance will therefore in a special manner claim the attention of an agricultural people, render more interesting a description of them, and attach additional value to the history of the country. It will not be forgotten that an immense sum of treasure has been expended in the purchase of this country, and that it is now considered as belonging to the United States. Here at no distant period settlements may be formed; and in a much shorter term than has elapsed since the first were made in America, from which hath arisen a great, powerful and independent nation, the posterity of the present inhabitants of the Union may unfurl the standard of independence on the plains of the Missouri and Columbia.

With respect to the accuracy of the relations given in the following pages, it may be necessary to inform those readers not acquainted with the fact, that the principal object in sending out the expedition was to gain some correct account of the country: and that this might be done more effectually, and the information collected, preserved with more certainty, it was enjoined upon the several persons belonging to the corps, who were considered capable, to keep journals, and every necessary information and assistance given them for that purpose: these journals were also from time to time compared, corrected and any blanks, which had been left, filled up, and unavoidable omissions supplied. By thus multiplying the journals, revising and correcting them, the chances of securing to the country a true account of the progress of the expedition and of the discoveries which should be made, especially should the party be attacked and defeated by the savages or meet with any other disasters in their hazardous enterprize, were also multiplied.

The following is an extract of a certificate delivered by Captain Lewis to Mr. Gass, dated St. Louis 10th Oct. 1806.

"As a tribute justly due to the merits of the said Patrick Gass, I with chearfulness declare, that the ample support, which he gave me, under every difficulty; the manly firmness, which he evinced on every necessary occasion; and the fortitude with which he bore the fatigues and painful sufferings incident to that long voyage, intitles him to my highest confidence and sincere thanks, while it eminently recommends him to the consideration and respect of his fellow citizens."

In determining the form in which the work should appear, the publisher had some difficulty. Two plans presented themselves. The one was to preserve the form of a daily journal (in which the original had been kept) and give a plain description of the country and a simple relation of occurrences equally intelligible to all readers; leaving to every person an opportunity of embellishing the scenes presented to him in his own way. The other plan was to more fully digest the subject, make the narrative more general, and assuming less of the journal form and style, describe and clothe the principal parts of it as his fancy might suggest. However far the latter might have been proper had a foreign country been the subject, and the principal object of the publication, mere amusement, many objections occurred to it in the present case; and rendered the former the most eligible, especially as by it the climate and face of the country will be more satisfactorily described. And Mr. Gass having declared that the beauties and deformities of its grandest scenes were equally beyond the power of description, no attempts have been either by him or the publisher to give adequate representations of them.

The publisher hopes that the curiosity of the reader will be in some degree gratified; that the information furnished will not be uninteresting; and that some aid will be furnished those who wish to acquire a Geographical knowledge of their country. 26th March, 1807

14. Whitehouse's first daily entry in the first part of his three-part original notebook journal covering the period May 14, 1804, to May 27, 1805.    The pages of this portion of the notebook are approximately 7 ⅜" × 6"; the notebook as a whole is covered in animal skin.    On the first page the words "Joseph Whitehouse" and the initial "J" are repeated several times.    Other random writings are not legible.    On the second page, preceding the first daily entry is the following:    "Joseph Whitehouse's Journal Commencing at River deboise 14th May 1804.—    it being a Minute relation of the various transaction[s] and occurrences which took place dureing a Voiage of [blank] years from the United States to the Pacific Ocean through the interior of the conti[nent of] North America—.    under the directions of Capt. Meriwether Lewis & Capt. W Clark, and patronised by the Government of the U States.    The individuals who composed the party engaged to essay the dificuelties, dangers fatigues of this enterprise with the Said Officers; Consists of the persons whoes Names are here-unto anexed—    Viz:    George Drewyer to act as Interpreter and Hunter; John Ordway, Nathl. Pryor, Charles Floyd & Patric Gass Sergts.    John Shields, William Bratten, John Colter, Hugh Hall, John Collins, Joseph Field, Reuben Field, Silas Goodrich, Alexander Willard, William Werner, John Potts, Thomas Procter Howard, [Pe]ter Wiser, George Gibson, George Shannon, John B. Thompson, Richard Windser, [Rob]ert Frazer, Hugh McNeal, Peter Crusatt, Labeech, & Joseph White[house;] also Capt. Clarks Black Man York—.    At the Mandans Tousant Shabono Indian woman & child joined as interpreter & interpretis to the Snake Indians."    It appears that Clark wrote the portion that begins with the words "under the directions of," to the end.    This material was probably written sometime during the winter of 1804–5 while the party was at Fort Mandan or perhaps afterwards.    The writing on the pages is from end-to-end, as in a stenographer's notebook, rather than side-to-side, as in a conventional book. (back)
15. Referring to the Hebrew land of Goshen (Genesis 46, 47) and alluding to a place of goodness and plenty. Whitehouse may be using Goshen as a generic term for the surrounding neighborhood. (back)
16. For the composition of the party at this time, see Appendix A. (back)
17. The party's small, swivel-mounted cannon, discussed at Clark's entry for May 29, 1804. (back)
18. The first entry in Whitehouse's fair copy (see Introduction to volume 11).    The fair copy will be the second entry for each day's account unless otherwise indicated.    Preceding this entry are several pages of introductory material beginning with a single page as follows:

From Saint Louis, in the Territory of Louisiana and on the River Mississippi across the Continent of North America, by way of the River Mesouri, to the Pacific or Western Ocean; in the Years, 1803, 4, 5 & 1806, under the directions of Captain Merriweather Lewis, and Captain William Clark, and patronised by the Government of the United States, with a description of the Countries through which they passed; taken from actual survey. Illustrated with Maps, with an account of the Latitude [blank] of the most noted places on the Mesouri and Columbia Rivers, by.

Joseph Whitehouse

To The Citizens of the United States.

This Volume is inscribed, by their fellow Citizen, and devoted Servant,

Joseph Whitehouse

[Next comes a blank page and then the following preface]


On presenting this Volume to my fellow Citizens, it is not necessary to enter into particular account of this Voyage; but I trust that the generous public, will make such allowances as they shall think fit, to one who has never before presented himself to them in the character of an Author; for which the course and occupations of my life; has by no means qualified me, being much better calculated to perform the Voyage (arduous as it might be) than to write an account of it; however it is now offered to the Public, with the submission that becomes me.    I was led at an early period of my life to enter into the Army of the United States, by views I had to acquire Military knowledge, & to be acquainted with the Country in which I was born; and accordingly was somewhat gratified by being ordered (shortly after I joined the Service) to Kaskaskias Village, in the Illinois Country.—    I there, from frequent conversations, I had with Traders; whose traffic was with the Indians, residing on the Mesouri River, contemplated that there might be a practibility of penetrating across the Continent of North America, to the Pacific Ocean by way of the Mesouri River, but found from the most perfect account that I could collect from any of them; did not extend beyond the Mandan Nation, who inhabited on the same River Mesouri, which lays in 47° 24' 12 North Latitude; the Countries beyond that place, being utterly unknown to them, and even to the Indians inhabiting that Country.

I had been at Kaskaskia Village some time, when I was informed That His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Esquire, President of the United States, had appointed Captain Meriweather Lewis, and Captain William Clark, to take the command of a party of Continental Troops, and Volunteers; in order to explore the Mesouri River; and find out its source; and to find (if possible) by that rout a passage to the Pacific ocean.—    I was fortunate in being chosen one of the party of Continental Troops by them, which contributed much to quicken the execution of my favorite project, and of satisfying my own ambition.    The dangers I have encounter'd, and the toils I have suffered, have found their recompence, nor will the many and tedious days, or the gloomy and inclement nights that I have passed, have been passed in vain.—    This Voyage I hope has settled the dubious point respecting the Source of the great Rivers Mesouri, and Columbia; and I trust that it has set that long agitated question at rest, in regard to a passage being across the Continent of North America, to the Pacific Ocean, and the Northern boundary of Louisiana.—

In this Voyage I furnished myself with books, and also got from Captains Lewis and Clark, every information that lay in their power, in order to compleat and make my Journal correct; and part of my Journals were kept by one of them when I was on a fataigue party.—    This was done by them, in case of any great accident happening to the party, so that if any of them should return to the United States, or their Journals fall into the hands of any civiliz'd Nation, that the grand object of our discovery's might not be defeated.    The object being accomplished, it lays with you to determine the practibility of a commercial communication across the continent of North America, between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans which is proved by my Journal.—    Nor do I hesitate to declare, my decided opinion, that very great, and essential advantages, may be derived; by extending our Trade, from one Sea, to the other.

The very great advantages of the fur trade, from that hitherto unknown Country, both by ascending the Mesouri River, and by way of the Columbia River to the Pacific ocean, will I trust prove Interesting to a Nation, whose general policy, is blended with, and whose prosperity is supported by the persuits of commerce.—    It will also qualify the reader, to pursue the succeeding Voyages, with superior intelligence and satisfaction.—    This Voyage will not I fear afford the variety, that may be expected from it; and that which it offers to the Eye, is not of a nature to be effectually transferred to the Page; Mountains and Valleys, the vast Priaries; the wide spreading forests, the lakes and Rivers, on both sides of the Rocky Mountains, succeed each other in general description;

The permanent Villages, both on the Rivers Missouri River, and Columbia; and the Inhabitants in general, with bands of wandering Indians, are the only people, whom I shall introduce to the acquaintance of my readers.—    The Buffalo, the white Bear; the Elk, the Antelope, the mountain Goat, & the Beaver; are mostly so familiar to the Naturalists, and are so frequently described, that a bare mention of them, as they enliven'd the landscapes, or were hunted for food; with a cursory account of the soil, the course of the Rivers, and their various produce, is all that can reasonably be expected from me.—    The toil of our Navigation to the source of the Mesouri, was incessant; and often times extreme, and in our progress over the Rocky Mountains, with the Burthens on our shoulders; which aggravated the Toils of our march, and added to the wearisomeness of our way, adding to which the extreme dangers we encounter'd in descending the River Columbia at a season of the Year, that not even the Natives of the soil would attempt; I hope will convince my readers, that Manly fortitude and perseverance was our only guide.—

Though the events, which compose my Journal, may have little in itself to strike the imagination of those who love to be astonished; nevertheless, when it is consider'd, that we explored those Waters, which had never before borne any other Vessell, than the Canoe of the Savage; and traversed those Forests and plains, where no American Citizen, or European had ever before presented themselves, to the Eye of its swarthy natives; when to these considerations, are added, the Important objects which were pursued; with the dangers that were encounter'd, and the difficulties that were surmounted to attain them; this work will, I flatter myself, be found to excite an interest, and conciliate regard, in the minds of those who peruse it.—    I hope the generous public, will indulge me, by believing; that I have laid before them, only whatever I saw, (or were seen by Captains Lewis or Clark) with the impression of the moment; that it was told by them, or presented itself to me, and have never allowed myself to wander into conjecture, but have given as full, and exact account of the Country, and other transactions, that occur'd in the Country, that we passed through, as my abilities would allow.    I cannot in justice to myself omit saying, that the manly, and soldier-like behaviour; and enterprizing abilities; of both Captain Lewis, and Captain Clark, claim my utmost gratitude:    and the humanity shown at all times by them, to those under their command, on this perilous and important Voyage of discovery; I hope will ever fill the breasts of Men who were under their command with the 〈will〉 same, and make their characters be esteem'd by the American people, and mankind in general; and convince the generous Public, that the President of the United States, did not misplace his judgment, when he appointed them to the command of this party on discovery; which is of so great a magnitude and utility, to the United States and mankind in general.—

I am not a candidate for literary fame, at the same time, I cannot but indulge the hope, that this volume, with all its imperfections, will not be thought unworthy the attention of the scientific Geographer; and that by unfolding Countries; hitherto unexplored, and which I presume, may be considered as a part belonging to the United States, it will be received as a faithful tribute to the prosperity of my Country.

Saint Louis }             Joseph Whitehouse
December 10th 1806    

[Then on a new page comes the following list of party members]

The Individuals who composed the party, engaged to essay the difficulties; dangers and fataigues of this enterprize with Captain Merryweather Lewis, and Captain William Clark, consisted of the persons, whose names are hereunto annexed.    Viz—

John Ottaway } Serjts. Alexander Willard } Privates
Nathaniel Pryor William Warner
Charles Floyd John Potts
Patrick Gass Thomas Prater Howard
John Shields, armourer Peter Weiser
William Bratton } Privates John B. Thompson
John Colter Hugh McNeal
Hugh Hall Joseph Fields } Volunteers
John Collins Reubin Fields
Silas Goodrich George Gibson
Richard Windsor George Shannon
Robert Frazer & 8 Canadians who were only to
Joseph Whitehouse proceed with us to the Mandans
Peter Crusatt } Canadians &
George Drewer, to act as Indian Interpreter and Hunter &
Captain William Clark's Black Man, York,
And at the Mandan Nation we were joined by Tousant Shabono (a canadian) and
his Indian Woman, with a Child; this Indian Woman who was employed, as Interpreter
to the Snake Nation of Indians.—

[Then comes a blank page and on a new page the heading for the daily entries and a first entry for November 17, 1803, after which begin daily entries from May 14, 1804]


Of a Voyage across the continent of North America, to the Western; or Pacific Ocean.

1803 novemr 17th    We embarked at 9 o'Clock this morning from Saint Louis (in the Territory of Louisiana) on board of a boat, belonging to The United States, for the River Dubois (or Wood River Indiana Territory,) having all hands that is mention'd in the former page belonging to our party on board, and several articles provided to make us comfortable 〈with us〉 during the Winter, which we intend staying at Wood River & remaining untill the River Mesouri should be free from Ice.    We arrived at the place pointed out by Captains Lewis & Clark at 5 o'Clock P.M. the distance being 20 miles; and the course of the Mississippi River: being N by East.—

The River Dubois (or Wood River) is a small River; laying on the East side of the Mississippi, and empties itself into the same.—    The Town of Saint Louis from which we took our departure; is situated on the West bank of the River Mississippi; and contains about 200 houses, built in the french fashion; and 〈lies〉 is situated under a hill and 〈is〉 lays in the form of an oblong Square.    The street runs paralel with the River; and cross at right Angles,—    and are Narrow; and most of the lots are picketted in.    The only public building is a Chapel, which is by no means elegant.—    On the west side of the Town are four Towers, built in a circular form, one of which is occupied at present by the American Troops as a fort; and also a half moon battery which stands on hill a short distance from the bank of the River at the North end of the Town.—

The land adjoining the Town for several miles is level and chiefly priaries, and very thinly settled.    The chief of the Inhabitants are canadian french, and a few families of Americans.    The River Mississippi opposite Saint Louis is about one Mile wide, has a large sand barr on the East side, and an Island laying 〈on〉 opposite to the South end of the Town, the banks of the River lays mostly high, and the waters are 〈mostly〉 muddy, as high up the River Mississippi to where the confluence of that River, and the River Mesouri commences.—    This Town lies in Latitude 38° 43' North.—

19. Pirogues. (back)