December 7, 1804
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

December 7, 1804


7th of December 1804, we were informed by a Chief that great numbers of Buffalow were on the hills near us    Cap Lewis with a party went out & Killed 11 three in view of our fort, The weather so excesive Cold wolves plenty, we only saved 5 of them, I with a party turned on the 8th out and found the Buffalow at 7 ms. distant    Killed 8 & a Deer, I returned with 2 Cows leaving men with remaining meat—    Several men badly frost bit—    The Themormeter Stood this morning at 44 d. below Breizing [freezing].

Capt Lewis went out 9th & Stayed all night out    Killed 9 buffalow—maney of the Buffalow Killed were So meager that they not fit for use—Collected by the ade of Some horses the best of the meat    in fact all we could Save from wolves &    I went on a hunting party the 14 & 15 of Decr.—    much Snow    verry cold    52° below freesinge.    N W. & H Bay Clerks Visit us 〈on〉 the 16th    also Mr Hainey, Cold Tem: 74° below freesing—

I visit the Mandans on the 1s of January    Capt Lewis the 2nd—


a verry Cold day    wind from the N W.    the Big White Grand Chief of the 1s Village, Came and informed us that a large Drove of Buffalow was near and his people was wating for us to join them in a Chase    Capt. Lewis took 15 men & went out joined the Indians, who were at the time he got up, Killing the Buffalows on Horseback with arrows which they done with great dexterity, his party killed 14 Buffalow, five of which we got to the fort by the assistance of a horse in addition to what the men Packed on their backs—    one Cow was killed on the ice after drawing her out of a vacancey in the ice in which She had fallen, and Butchered her at the fort—    those we did not get in was taken by the indians under a Custon which is established amongst them 'i 'e. any person Seeing a buffalow lying without an arrow Sticking in him, or Some purticular mark takes possesion, many times (as I am told) a hunter who Kills maney Buffalow in a chase only Gets a part of one, all meat which is left out all night falls to the Wolves which are in great numbers, always in the Buffalows—    the river Closed opposit the fort last night 1½ inches thick    The Thermometer Stood this morning at 1 d. below 0—    three men frost bit badly to day


Friday 7th Decr.    a clear cold frosty morning.    2 or 3 hunters went out early a hunting.    about 9 o.C. the head chief of the 1st vill. of the Mandans called the Big White came to our Garrison in Great haste on horse back & Informed us that the Buffalow were comming towards the River in large Gangs and that the praries a little back was covered with Game. Capt. Lewis Immediately Started with 12 men in order to hunt with the natives.    they had not been Gone long before we Saw Some buffalow in cite abo. the Garrison near the bank of the River    two of our men & Several of the natives were Shooting at them.    they Shot three & run one off a Steep bank in to the River which we got out with a chord, and halled it down on the Ice to our landing    as the River Shut up last night the Ice had not Got Strong enofe to bear the Buffalow out in the middle of the R. but we dragged Sd. bufo. down near Shore & dressed it.    it was a cow with calf    our Interpreters Squaws cut the calf.    the 2 men who went out this morning came in & Informed us that they had killed Six buffaloe out in the prarie besides those 4 they had killed in part with the natives.    the horses were got up & Several men Sent with them out for the meat, but they found that the Savvage had carried off 3 of them.    the 4 horses came in loaded with meat    also the most of the men    they Said that the Savvages had killed upwards of 20 buffalow & our men killed abt. 12 one of them very fat    Som of them cows & Some calfs or yearlins.    they Saw also large flocks of Goats in the praries & could See the prarie black with buffaloe at a distance aiming to come into the bottoms on the River.    the prarie being covered with Snow and extreamly cold 2 of our men Got their feet frost Bitten & one Got his Ear frost bitten this day by being exposed in the praries.    a half Gill of Taffee gave to the men by our officers this evening.


Friday 7th.    A clear cold morning. At 9 o'clock, the Big-white [2] head chief, of the first village of the Mandans, came to our garrison and told us that the buffaloe were in the prairie coming into the bottom. Captain Lewis and eleven more of us went out immediately, and saw the prairie covered with buffaloe and the Indians on horseback killing them. They killed 30 or 40 and we killed eleven of them. They shoot them with bows and arrows, and have their horses so trained that they will advance very near and suddenly wheel and fly off in case the wounded buffaloe attempt an attack. [3]

1. Here again Clark has run together brief entries for various dates under one heading on document 64 of the Field Notes, indicating a perfunctory keeping of his Field Notes while the notebook journal, Codex C, was kept each day. For notes, see the appropriate dates. (back)
2. For Big White (Sheheke), see Clark's entry of October 29, 1804. (back)
3. Gass is the first of the expedition to note the Indians' training of buffalo horses. (back)