November 3, 1804
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

November 3, 1804


3rd of November Satturday 1804    wind hard from the west    Commence building our Cabins, [1] Dispatched 6 hunters in a perogue Down the River to hunt, Discharged the french hands, [2] Mr. Jessomme his Squar & child moved to camp, the little Crow loaded his Squar with meat for us also a Roabe, we gave the Squar an ax &. &.    Cought 2 bever near Camp


a fine morning    wind hard from the West    we commence building our Cabins, Send Down in Perogue 6 men to hunt    Engaged one man, [3] [NB: Canadian Frenchman who had been with the Chayenne Inds on the Cote noir & last summer descended thence the little Missouri—he was of our permanent.]    Set the french who intend to return to build a perogue, many Indians pass to hunt, Mr. Jessomme [NB: Jesseaume ] with his Squar & Children.    come Down to live, as Interpter, we recive [NB: hired] a hors for our Sirvice, in the evening the Ka goh ha mi or little ravin Came & brought us on his Squar [NB: who carried it on her back] about 60 Wt. of Dried Buffalow meat a roabe, & Pot of Meal &.    they Delayed all night—    we gave his Squar an ax & a fiew Small articles & himself a piece of Tobacco, the Men were indulged with a Dram, this evening

two Beaver Cought This morning—    and one Trap Lost [NB: The Frenchmen 9 engaged thus far now returning.    but 2 or 3 volunteered to remain with us the winter which they did & in the Spring left us.] [4]


Saturday 3rd Nov. 1804.    a clear and pleasant morning. Six hunters Set out to Go 20 or 30 miles down the River in a pearogue to good hunting Ground in order to kill meat for the party.    we continued building.    layed the foundation of the other line of huts 4 by 14 feet also.    the timber large and heavy. Mr [blank] [5] our Intreperter moved down from village with his famialy to Stay with us.    a frenchman [6] came from the village also who has engaged to join us for the expedition &.C—    Some of the Squaws came from the vil.    brot. Capt. meat &C.


Saturday 3rd. [7]    A clear day; we continued building, and six men went down the river in a periogue to hunt. They will perhaps have to go 30 or 40 miles before they come to good hunting ground.— The following is the manner in which our huts and fort were built; [8] the huts were in two rows, containing four rooms each, and joined at one end forming an angle. When rasied about 7 feet high a floor of puncheons or split plank were laid, and covered with grass and clay; which made a warm loft. The upper part projected a foot over and the roofs were made shed-fashion, rising from the inner side, and making the outer wall about 18 feet high. The part not inclosed by the huts we intended to picket. In the angle formed by the two rows of huts we built two rooms, for holding our provisions and stores.


Saturday 3rd [9]    a party of hunters was Sent down the river with a Peirogue to Bring the meat whome, in the[y] Remaind 15 days, and On the 18th Inst the[y] had good Success    the[y] Killd. 34 deers 10 Elks and 5 Buffelows, in all they had Upwards of 20 hundred Wt.    Nothing Else happnd. Extraordinary—

Untill the 30th Inst. a messenger from the mandans Came to the fort to Inform Our Officers that a hunting party of theirs was Robed by the Sues & Rees, [10] Indians, on the 27th last, of Eight horses and their meat that they had Killd, & Killd One of their men and wounded two Others

the[y] Applyd. for Some Assistance from the fort which Captn. Lewis & Clark Readly granted them.    Twenty Men turnd Out Volentary Under the Command of Captn. Clark out of the fort to goe to fight the Sues    the Guard Set us Across the Missourie at Eleven Oclock at the fort    the Captn. formd. his men On the S. W Side of the river Missourie and told them off in Sections, from the right, and Sent out a Noncommissiond. Officer and a file of men on Each flank to Reconitere the woods at the distance of neerly One hundred Yds. from the head of Company.    After a march of 6 miles we Arivd. at the first Village of mandans, with our two Interprators One of the mandans & one of the Grosvauinties, [11] thinking to be Reignd. forsd. [reinforced] by a party of Each Nation With a Detachment from the 〈Watoonse〉 Watesoons Nation like-ways, as they and Groce Vaunties, are Nigh Neighbours to the Mandans Nation    but after we Arivd. At the Village the Cheifs of Both Nations Concluded not to goe to fight as the weather was Cold and the Snow Upwards of 18 Inches Deep on the Ground, before Spring Nixt.

The Captn. & the party halted two hours at the Village    he told the Cheifs and Warieres of the Mandans that he and his Men was on the Ground Ready to Assist them And the[y] Should See that Him and his Men Could fight.    After Some little Conversation with the Savages, we took Our leave of them and Started for the fort    we Crossd. the river between the first & Second Village On the Ise And Came whome to the fort    Arivd. at dark    the Evening was Cold.    Each Drank Some Good Spirits After which Revivd. Us 〈much〉 Very Much And Retird. to Our Rooms Each—

Saturday Novemr. 3d    A party of hunters was this day sent down the River.    they carried with them a Pettyauger to bring what Meat they killid on their hunt; they remained down the River a hunting 15 days, and on the 18th November they returned, having had good success in hunting, they brought with them 34 deer, 10 Elk, and 5 buffaloes all weighing 2,000 lbs as near as we could guess.—

Nothing happened extraordinary till the 30th day of November (instant) when an Express arrived from the 2nd Mandan Village, at our Fort; who informed our Officers that a hunting party of theirs was robbed, by the Sues & Rees Indians on the 27th of last Month of Eight horses, and all their meat, & that they had killed one of their Men, and wounded two others, and applied to 〈the〉 Our Officers for some assistance from the fort which the Officers readily granted to them.    Twenty of our Men immediately turned out Volunteers, under the Command of Captain Clark to go against those Indians, (the Sues) and the Guard at the Fort set us across the River.—    Captain Clark formed his Men on the South West side of the River Mesouri on their landing; and told them off in Sections from the right, and sent a file of Men and a Non commission'd Officer on each flank, to reconitre the Woods, at the distance of nearly 100 Yards from the head of the Company.—    After we had marched about 6 Miles, we arriv'd at the first Village of the Mandan Indians, with our Two Interpreters, One for the Mandans & the other for the Grovanters Captain Clark thinking that he would be reinforced by a party, from each nation, and a detatchment from the Watesoons a part of the Nation, who are neighbours to the Mandan Nation, and their friends.—    On our arrival at the Village, the chiefs of both nations, concluded, not to go to fight those Indians with us, they saying the Weather was cold, and the Snow was deep, (being upwards of 18 Inches on the Ground,) and that they should put it off, 'till the next spring—    The Captain halted the party two hours at this Village.    he told the Chief and Warriors of the Mandan Nation; that he and his Men was on the ground and was ready to assist them, and that they should see that he and his Men could fight.—    After the Captain had some more conversation with those Indians, we all took our leave of them, and started for the Fort, we recrossed the River on the ice.—    between the first and Second Villages of the Mandan Indians, and came to the Fort, where we arrived at dark.    this Evening, being very cold, the Officers had some Whiskey served out to the Men that was on the March which revived them much, & they all Retired to their Huts.—

1. Sergeant Gass, who being a carpenter probably had a major part in building the structure, describes Fort Mandan as a roughly triangular stockade, with two converging rows of huts and some sort of bastion in the angle opposite the gate. This accords with the description given by François-Antoine Larocque. According to Gass, the outer walls were 18 feet high; no other measurements are known. A small sketch on Atlas map 29 confirms the triangular shape. Masson, 1:307–8. (back)
2. Some of the discharged engagés wintered with the permanent party at Fort Mandan; others seem to have spent the winter at the Mandan, Hidatsa, or Arikara villages. Those who wished to stay among the Indians, perhaps trading and trapping on their own, apparently received their pay in cash at this time; there is no record of their being paid, which complicates the effort to determine their identities. Five men received their pay from Lewis's agent in St. Louis in 1805: Baptiste Deschamps, Jean Baptiste La Jeunesse, Etienne Malboeuf, Charles Pineau (otherwise Peter Pinaut), and François Rivet. These five probably returned with the keelboat sent down the Missouri in April 1805. It is likely but not certain that among them were the ones who wintered at Fort Mandan. See also n. 4, below, and weather remarks for November 6, 1804. Jackson (LLC), 1:237 n. 7. (back)
3. Jean Baptiste Lepage took the place of the discharged John Newman and went with the permanent party to the Pacific and back. Most of what is known of him is in this entry and elsewhere in the journals. The information in Biddle's interlineation indicates that he had been to the Black Hills and on the Little Missouri River, in country that few, if any, other whites had seen. He probably contributed some information to the Western map Clark prepared during this winter (Atlas maps 32a, 32b, 32c). Lewis's record dates his enlistment from November 2 and describes him as of "no particular merit." Lewis to Henry Dearborn, January 15, 1807, Jackson (LLC), 1:368; Clarke (MLCE), 147. (back)
4. Biddle apparently added this bracketed material, perhaps to aid him in sorting out the number of engagés who stayed for the winter. Biddle's account says that some of the discharged men built a pirogue—probably a dugout canoe—to return to Missouri. See also weather remarks, November 6, 1804. Coues (HLC), 1:189. (back)
6. Jean Baptiste Lepage took the place of the discharged Newman and went to the Pacific and back with the permanent party (see Clark's entry for this day). (back)
7. After this date Gass begins to skip several days' entries at a time through the Fort Mandan winter. Discrepancies of dating from Clark, Ordway, or Whitehouse, the other journalists for the period, will be noted. (back)
8. Gass gives the most detailed information available about the construction of Fort Mandan. The fort was roughly triangular in outline. Ordway indicates that each row of huts consisted of four rooms each fourteen feet square, making each row approximately 56 feet in length. (back)
9. Here the writer summarizes the events for the remainder of the month as it is also given in the fair copy. (back)
10. Sioux and Arikaras. (back)
11. Gros Ventres, that is, the Hidatsas. (back)