July 12, 1804
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

July 12, 1804


July 12th Thursday    Som hunters out on the S. S.    those on the L. S. did not return last night, our object in delaying here is to tak Some Observations and rest the men who are much fatigued    made Sundery observations, after an early Brackfast I took five men and went up the River Ne Ma har about three miles, to an open leavel part of an emence prarie, at the Mouth of a Small Creek on the Lower Side, [1] I went on Shore, & passed thro the plain    passed Several noles to the top of a high artificial Noal    from the top of this noal I had an emence, extensive & pleaseing prospect, of the Countrey around, I could see the meandering of the Little River [Nemaha] for [hole] at least 10 miles winding thro a meadow of 15 or 20000 acres of high [holes] bottom land covered with Grass about 4½ feet high, the high lands which rose irregularly, & were toped with Mounds or antent Graves which is to me a Strong evidence of this Countrey haveing been thickly Settled—. [2]    This River is about 80 yards wide with a gentle Current and heads up near the Parnee [Pawnee] Village on River Blue a branch of Kansas, [3] a little timbered land near the mouth for 1 mile above, only a fiew Trees, and thickets of Plumbs Cheres &c are Seen on its banks    the Creeks & little reveens makeing into the river have also Some timber—    I got grapes on the banks nearly ripe, observed great quantities, of Grapes, plums Crab apls and a wild Cherry, Growing like a Comn. Wild Cherry only larger & grows on a Small bush, [4] on the side of a clift Sand Stone [5]    ½ me. up & on Lower Side I marked my name & day of the month near an Indian Mark or Image of animals & a boat    Tried Willard for Sleeping on his post, our hunters killed some Deer, [6] Saw Elk & Buffalow.


Concluded to Delay here to day with a view of takeing equal altitudes & makeing observations as well as refreshing our men who are much fatigued—    after an early Brackfast I with five men in a Perogue assended the River Ne-Ma-haw about 2 〈three〉 miles to the mouth of a Small Creek on the Lower Side, here I got out of the Perogue, after going to Several Small Mounds in a leavel plain, I assended a hill on the Lower Side, on this hill Several Artificial Mounds were raised, from the top of the highest of those Mounds I had an extensive view of the Serounding Plains, which afforded 〈a〉 one of the most pleasing prospects I ever beheld, under me a Butifull River of Clear water of about 80 yards wide Meandering thro: a leavel and extensive Meadow, as far as I could See, the 〈view of the〉 prospect Much enlivened by the fine Trees & Srubs which 〈was〉 is bordering the bank of the river, and the Creeks & runs falling into it,—.    The bottom land is covered with Grass of about 4½ feet high, and appears as leavel as a Smoth Surfice, the 〈2 bottom〉    [NB: the upper land] is also covered with Grass and rich weeds [7] and flours, interspersed with Copses of the Osage Plumb.    on the riseing lands, Small groves of trees are Seen, with a numbers of Grapes and a Wild Cherry resembling the Common Wild Cherry, only larger and grows on a Small bush on the tops of those hills in every derection. I observed artifical mounds (or as I may most Justly term Graves) which to me is a Strong indication [8] of this Country being once Thickly Settled. (The Indians of the Missouris Still Keep up the Custom of Burrying their dead on high ground)    after a ramble of about two miles about I returned to the perogue and decended down the River, gathd. Som grapes nearly ripe, on a Sandstone Bluff about ¼ of a mile from its mouth on the Lower Side I observed Some Indian marks, went to the rock which jucted over the water and marked my name & the day of the month & year—    This river heads near one [NB: See note] [9] of the Villages of the Pania [NB: Pawnee] on the [NB: Blue] River Blue, a branch of the Kansas River.—    above this river about half a mile the Prarie Comes to the Missouri    after my return to Camp on the Island Completed Som observations, Tred [tried] a man [WC: Wld.] [10] for sleeping on his Post & inspected the arms amunition &c. of the party found all complete, 〈No〉    Took Some Luner Obsevations.    three Deer killed to day. Latd. 39° 55' 56" N. [11]


A Court matial consisting of the two commanding officers will convene this day at 1 OCk. P.M. for the trial of such prisoners as may be brought before them; one of the course will act as Judge Advocate.—

M. Lewis
Wm. Clark

The Commanding officers. Capt. M. Lewis & W. Clark constituted 〈formed〉 themselves 〈into〉 a Court martial for the trial of Such prisoners as are Guilty of Capatol Crimes, and under the rules and articles of War punishable by Death. [13]

Alexander Willard was brought forward Charged with "Lying down and Sleeping on his post whilst a Sentinal, on the night of the 11th. Instant" (by John Ordway Sergeant of the Guard)—

To this Charge the prisoner pleads. Guilty of Lying Down, and not Guilty, of Going to Sleep. The Course after Duly Considering the evidence aduced, are of oppinion that the Prisoner Alexdn. Willard is guilty of every part of the Charge exhibited against him.    it being a breach of the rules and articles of War (as well as tending to the probable distruction 〈the Sulution〉 of the party) do Sentence him to receive One hundred lashes on his bear back, at four different times in equal propation.—    and order that the punishment Commence this evening at Sunset, and Continue to be inflicted, (by the Guard) every evening untill Completed

Wm Clark
M. Lewis


Observed Equal Altitudes of the ☉ with Sextant

A.M. 7 58 59 P.M. 4 12 29
  8 19   " 13 48
  " 1 45   " 15 14

Altitude by Sextant at the time of this obst.    70° 42' 45"

Observed meridian Altd. of ☉'s L. L. with Octant by the back observatn.    40° 53' —"

Latitude deduced from this observatn.    39° 55' 56

Observed time and distance of ☉'s and ☽'s nearest limbs the ☉ West, with Sextant.

  Time     Distance    
  h m s      
P.M. 4 51 11 70° 31' 30"
  5 5 48 " 35 30
  " 11 52 " 37 30
  " 12 47 " 38 —"
  " 16 30 " 39 —"
  " 18 8 " 39 15
  " 19 51 " 39 30
  " 21 9 " 39 30
  " 24 50 " 41 30
  " 26 14 " 42 30
  h m s      
P.M. 5 32 40 70° 42' —"
  " 33 53 " 44 45
  " 38 55 " 45 45
  " 42 11 " 46 30
  " 43 42 " 47 30
  " 45 25 " 47 30
☉'s magnetic azimuth of Circumftr. N. 86° W.
  h m s
Time by Chronometer    P.M. 5 59 20
Altd. of ☉'s L. L. by Sextant 31° 26' 30"
☉'s Magnetic azimuth by Circumft. N. 85° W.
  h m s
Time by Chronometer    P.M. 6 5 10
Altd. of ☉'s L. L. by Sextant 29° 19' 30"

Observed time and distance of ☽, and Spica ♍ ★, East, with Sextant.—

  Time     Distance    
  h m s      
P.M. 8 26 58 19° 18' 15"

Note—this is a mean of four observations which were not so perfect as I could have wished them, in consequence of the moon being obscured in some measure by the clouds, which soon became so general as to put an end to my observations during this evening.—


Thursday July 12th 1804.    we lay by for to Rest and wash our Cloaths, &.C—, the Capts take observations. Several hunters went out this morning    the hunters which went out yesterday on the South Side went up the Ne Mahas River    this River is about 80 yds. wide and navigable for pearogues Some distance up.    this prarie comes to its mouth and continues both Sides. A long distance in the Country, one Sentinel a Sleep on his post last night, and tried by court martial this day. [15]    Drewyer killed 2 Deer to day.


Thursday July 12th    Som Hunters out on the No. Side    those on the South Side not Return Last night    ouer object in Delaying hear is to take Some observations and rest the men who are much fategeued, armes and amunition enspected    all in Good order—


Thursday 12th.    We remained here this day, that the men, who were much fatigued, might take some rest. The hunters, who had remained on the south side of the river all night, came in, but had killed nothing. Two more went to hunt on the north side and killed two deer.


Thursday. 12th    Rested at the above mentiond place    found a pybold horse on the E. S.    the hunters Came in brought 4 deer with them—    Captn Lewis took the altude as follows Latd 39D 55MN.

Thursday July 12th    We remained here this day, on the No. East side of the River, we found a horse of pybald colour, our hunters came to us, having brought with them 4 deer which they had kill'd.    Captain Lewis took an observation; (having a clear Horizon,) & found this place to lie in Latitude 39° 55' 56 North.—

1. Evidently "Lower Side" means the south bank of the Big Nemaha River, the lower side in relation to the course of the Missouri; the creek is probably Roys Creek. Clark is in southeast Richardson County, Nebraska, more or less due south of the modern community of Rulo. MRC map 19; MRM map 53. (back)
2. Clark is here describing a late prehistoric Oneota village, the Leary site. The mounds on the hills overlooking the village have not been investigated, principally because they have also been used by modern Iowa Indians for grave sites. The "Several noles" that Clark passed on the plain are believed to be refuse middens of a late prehistoric Oto village. Hill & Wedel. (back)
3. The Big Blue River of Nebraska and Kansas, a tributary of the Kansas River, should not be confused with the Big Blue of Missouri, which flows into the Missouri River. See note for June 26, 1804. In the codex entry Clark mentions more than one Pawnee village on the Big Blue. Two Pawnee villages nearly match this description, the Blue Springs site and the James site, both of which are just north of the town of Blue Springs, Gage County, Nebraska. The Blue Springs site was probably occupied by the Pitahawiratas (Tappage Pawnees), who abandoned it about 1825. Grange, 20, 26. (back)
4. In this entry, Clark describes an extensive floodplain prairie (high bottomland), several miles upstream which was covered with tall grasses, probably Spartina pectinata Link, prairie cordgrass, slough grass, and others, such as big bluestem. Weaver, 189–90. The grapes are probably Vitis riparia Michx., river-bank grape, although a number of other grape species occur here. Barkley, 219–20. The wild cherry is Prunus virginiana L., choke cherry, which has a larger fruit than that of the "Comm. Wild Cherry," P. serotina Ehrh., black cherry. Clark is correct in noting the smaller stature and different habitat of the choke cherry. Steyermark, 862. (back)
5. Rocks that crop out near the mouth of the Big Nemaha River are late Pennsylvanian in age, part of the Wabaunsee Group, which consists of about 350 feet of shale with a few thin limestone beds and fewer sandstones, which are unnamed. Burchett et al.; Condra & Reed. (back)
6. Ordway notes that Drouillard, as one of the hunters as usual, killed two deer. (back)
7. Probably Pilea pumila (L.) Gray, richweed, clearweed, but somewhat confusing since it normally occupies cool, moist, shaded places, not a drier, grassy area such as the upper floodplain terrace of the Nemaha River, which is being described. Fernald, 558. See entries of July 14 and 15. (back)
8. The word "indication" appears to have been written over the word "evidence." (back)
9. This interlineation may be a reference to Lewis's "Summary of Creeks and Rivers" in Codex O, where he elaborates slightly on this information, or to some similar compilation by one or both captains. See Appendix C. Red lines, probably Biddle's, cross out this sentence. (back)
10. An interlined abbreviation for "Willard." (back)
11. The camp was probably north of the Nebraska-Kansas state line, which is 40° N. MRC map 19. (back)
12. Lewis wrote the first part of this order in the Orderly Book, to the first pair of signatures, where Clark signed for himself. Clark then wrote the rest of the order and may have signed for Lewis the second time. (back)
13. Willard's offense, under the military regimen of the party, was punishable by death according to the regulations. Hence, the captains themselves constituted the court, instead of a panel of enlisted men as was the case with lesser offenses. It is doubtful that they had any intention of inflicting so severe a penalty, but they wished to impress on everyone the seriousness of such a lapse, which in the event of a surprise attack could mean the deaths of many or all of the party. (back)
14. Lewis's observation from Codex O. (back)
15. Ordway is the only enlisted man to mention the court-martial of Willard, found guilty of sleeping while on guard duty. Ordway was the one who discovered him asleep. Willard was sentenced to receive one hundred lashes on his back. See the Orderly Book entry for this day. (back)