May 29, 1805
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May 29, 1805


Last night we were all allarmed by a large buffaloe Bull, which swam over from the opposite shore and coming along side of the white perogue, climbed over it to land, he then alarmed ran up the bank in full speed directly towards the fires, and was within 18 inches of the heads of some of the men who lay sleeping before the centinel could allarm him or make him change his course, still more alarmed, he now took his direction immediately towards our lodge, passing between 4 fires and within a few inches of the heads of one range of the men as they yet lay sleeping, when he came near the tent, my dog saved us by causing him to change his course a second time, which he did by turning a little to the right, and was quickly out of sight, leaving us by this time all in an uproar with our guns in or hands, enquiring of each other the case of the alarm, which after a few moments was explained by the centinel; we were happy to find no one hirt. The next morning we found that the buffaloe in passing the perogue had trodden on a rifle, which belonged to Capt. Clark's black man, who had negligently left her in the perogue, the rifle was much bent, he had also broken the spindle, pivit, and shattered the stock of one of the bluntderbushes on board, with this damage I felt well content, happey indeed, that we had sustaned no further injury.    it appears that the white perogue, which contains our most valuable stores, is attended by some evil gennii. This morning we set out at an early hour and proceded as usual by the Chord.    at the distance of 2½ miles passed a handsome river which discharged itself on the Lard. side, I walked on shore and acended this river about a mile and a half in order to examine it. I found this river about 100 yds. wide from bank to bank, the water occupying about 75 yard.    the bed was formed of gravel and mud with some sand; it appeared to contain much more water as [NB: than] the Muscle-Shell river, was more rappid but equally navigable; there were no large stone or rocks in it's bed to obstruct the navigation; the banks were low yet appeared seldom to overflow; the water of this River is 〈Clear〉 [NB: clearer much] than any we have met with    great abundance of the Argalia or [NB: or] Bighorned animals in the high country through which this river passes    Cap. C who assended this R. much higher than I did has 〈thought proper to〉 call [NB: ed] it Judieths River. [1]    The bottoms of this stream as far as I could see were wider and contained more timber than the Missouri; here I saw some box alder intermixed with the Cottonwood willow rose bushes and honeysuckle with some red willow constitute the undergrowth.    on the Missouri just above the entrance of the Big Horn [NB: Judith] River [2] I counted the remains of the fires of 126 Indian lodges which appeared to be of very recent date perhaps 12 or 15 days. Capt. Clark also saw a large encampent just above the entrance of this river on the Stard. side of reather older date, probably they were the same Indians. The Indian woman with us exmined the mockersons which we found at these encampments and informed us that they were not of her nation the Snake Indians, but she beleived they were some of the Indians who inhabit the country on this side of Rocky Mountains and North of the Missoury and I think it most probable that they were the Minetaries of Fort de Prarie. [3] At the distance of six ½ ms. from our encampment of last night we passed a very bad rappid to which we gave the name of the Ash rappid [4] from a few trees of that wood growing near them; this is the first ash I have seen for a great distance.    at this place the hills again approach the river closely on both sides, and the same seen which we had on the 27th and 28th in the morning again presents itself, and the rocky points and riffles reather more numerous and worse; there was but little timber; salts coal &c still appear.    today we passed on the Stard. side the remains of a vast many mangled carcases of Buffalow which had been driven over a precipice of 120 feet by the Indians and perished; the water appeared to have washed away a part of this immence pile of slaughter and still their remained the fragments of at least a hundred carcases    they created a most horrid stench.    in this manner the Indians of the Missouri distroy vast herds of buffaloe at a stroke; for this purpose one of the most active and fleet young men is scelected and 〈being〉 disguised in a robe of buffaloe skin, having also the skin of the buffaloe's head with the years and horns fastened on his head in form of a cap, thus caparisoned he places himself at a convenient distance between a herd of buffaloe and a precipice proper for the purpose, which happens in many places on this river for miles together; the other indians now surround the herd on the back and flanks and at a signal agreed on all shew themselves at the same time moving forward towards the buffaloe; the disguised indian or decoy has taken care to place himself sufficiently nigh the buffaloe to be noticed by them when they take to flight and runing before them they follow him in full speede to the precepice, the cattle behind driving those in front over and seeing them go do not look or hesitate about following untill the whole are precipitated down the precepice forming one common mass of dead an mangled carcases; the 〈Indian〉 decoy in the mean time has taken care to secure himself in some cranney or crivice of the clift which he had previously prepared for that purpose.    the part of the decoy I am informed is extreamly dangerous, if they are not very fleet runers the buffaloe tread them under foot and crush them to death, and sometimes drive them over the precepice also, where they perish in common with the buffaloe.— [5]    we saw a great many wolves in the neighbourhood of these mangled carcases they were fat and extreemly gentle, Capt. C. who was on shore killed one of them with his espontoon. just above this place we came too for dinner opposite the entrance of a bold runing river 40 yds. wide which falls in on Lard. side.    this stream we called slaughter river. [6]    it's bottoms are but narrow and contain scarcely any timber.    our situation was a narrow bottom on the Stard. possessing some cottonwood.    soon after we landed it began to blow & rain, and as there was no appearance of even wood enough to make our fires for some distance above we determined to remain here untill the next morning, and accordingly fixed our camp and gave each man a small dram.    notwithstanding the allowance of sperits we issued did not exceed ½ pn. [X: jill] man several of them were considerably effected by it; such is the effects of abstaining for some time from the uce of sperituous liquors; they were all very merry.—    The hunters killed an Elk this evening, and Capt. C. killed two beaver.

Courses and distances of May 29th 1805. [7]
S. 65° W.   2 ½ To a small willow Island, close under a Stard. point, oppo-
site the entrance of big horn [NB: Judith] river on Lard.
passing an Island and 2 sand bars
S. 80° W.   1 to the upper part of some scattering timber at the en-
trance of a small creek [8] on the Stard. above a large old
Indian incampment.
S 50° W   2 to a tree in a Stard. bend, opposite to a Lard. point of
high land, some timber on Stard [9] side.
South   1 to an Ash tree on a Stard. point, at a rappid [EC: Ash Rap. ],
a high hill on the Lard. side.
S. 18° W.   2 ½ to the upper part of some scattering trees in a bend on the
Lard. side
S. 75° W.   2 to a few trees on a Stard. point, passing a bluff on each
side of the river.
N. 70° W.   1 to a point of wood on the Lard. side
N. 80° W.      ¼ On the Lard. side opposite to a bluff
S. 70° W.   1 to an open point on the Stard. side.
West   1 to a few trees on a Lard. point
S. 72° W.   1 ¼ to a few trees on a Stard. point Passing a riffle
S. 85° W.   1 ½ to a bluff point on the Stard. side, opposite to the entrance
of a small river [EC: Slaughter ] on Lard. side
West      ½ Along the Stard. bluff
N. 85° W.      ¼ to a point of woodland on the Stard. side where we en-
camped for the night.—
Miles  17 ¾  

In the last night we were alarmed by a Buffalow which Swam from the opposit Shore landed opposit the Perogue in which Capt. Lewis & my Self were in    he Crossed the perogue, and went with great force up to the fire where Several men were Sleeping and was 18 inches of their heads, when one man Sitting up allarmed him and he turned his course along the range of men as they lay, passing between 4 fires and within a fiew Inches of Some of the mens heads as they lay imediately in a direction to our lodge about which Several men were lying.    our Dog 〈all〉 flew out & he changed his course & passed without doeing more damage than bend a rifle & brakeing hir Stock and injureying one of the blunder busts in the perogue as he passed through—    We Set out this morning at the usial hour & proceeded on    at 2½ miles passed the mouth of a river [blank] yards wide, discharging a great quantity of water, and Containing more wood in its bottoms than the Missouri—    this river Capt Lewis walked up for a Short distance & he Saw an old encampment of Indians    (I also saw large encampment on the Stard Side at the mouth of a Small Creek of about 100 Lodges which appeared to be 5 or 6 weeks past, the Indian woman examined the mockersons &c. and told us they were the Indians which resided below the rocky mountains & to the North of this river,—    that her nation make their mockersons differently[)]    at 6½ miles passed a considerable rapid at which place the hills approach near the river on both Sides, leaveing a narrow bottom on the Stard. Side, (ash rapid) and continue Close all day but little timber, I walked on 〈Shore〉 the bank in the evening and saw the remains of a number of buffalow, which had been drove down a Clift of rocks    I think from appearances that upwards of 100 of those animals must have perished here, Great numbers of wolves were about this place & verry jentle    I killed one of them with my Spear. The hills above ash rapid Contains more rock and Coal, and the more rapid points.    we Came too for Dinner opposit the enterence of a Small river which falls in on the Lard Side and is about [blank] yards wide, has a bold running Stream, Soon after we Came too it began to rain & blow hard, and as we were in a good harbor & Small point of woods on the Stard Side, and no timber for some distance above, induced us to conclude to Stay all night.    we gave the men a dram, altho verry Small it was Sufficent to effect Several men.    one of our hunters killed an elk this evening—    I killed 2 beaver on the Side of the bank    a table Spoon full of water exposed to the air in a Saucer would avaperate in 36 hours when the mercury did not Stand higher than the temperate point [10] in the heat of the day.

Course and distance May 29th
S. 65° W.   2 ½ to a Small willow Island close under the Stard point
opposit the enterence of a large river on Lard Side
passed and Island & 2 Sand bars or Ids.    Big Horn river
100 yds. wide water 45 yds.—
S 80° W.   1 to the upper part of a scattering timber at the mouth of
a small Creek on the Stard. Side, above a large Indn.
S. 50° W.   2 to a tree in the Stard bend opposit the Lard point of
high land Some timber on S S.
South   1 to a Ash tree in the Stard point, at a rapid a high hill on
the Lard. Side
S. 18° W.   2 ½ to the upper of Some Scattering trees in a bend to the
Lard Side
S 75° W.   2 to a fiew trees on a Stard. point    a Bluff each Side
N. 70° W   1 to a point of wood on the Lard Side
N. 80° W.      ¼ on the Lard Side opposit to a bluff
S. 70° W.   1 to an open point on the Stard. Side
West   1〈¼〉 [11] to a few trees on the Lard point
S. 72° W.      ¼ to a fiew trees on the Stard point (pass a riffle[)]
S. 85° W.   1 ½ to a Bluff point on on the Stard. opposite to the mouth of a
Small river on the L. S.
West      ½ allong the Stard Bluff
N. 85° W.      ¼ to a point of wood land on Stard Side where we en-
camped for the night
miles   17 ¾  

May 29th Wednesday 1805.    in the course of last night we were alarmed by a Buffalow Swimming across from the opposite Shore & landed opposite the white perogue in which our Captains Stay.    he crossed the perogue, & went with great forse up the bank to the fire where the men were Sleeping & was within 18 Inches of their heads when one man Setting up alarmed him and he turned his course along the range of men as they lay, passing between 4 fires & within a fiew Inches of Several mens heads, it was Supposed if he had trod on a man it would have killed him dead.    the dog flew at him which turned him from running against the lodge, were the officers lay. he passed without doeing more damage than bend a rifle & breaking hir Stalk & injuring one of the blunder busses in the perogue as he passed through. we Set out this morning at the usaul hour and proceeded on.    at 2 ½ miles passed the mouth of a river [12] [blank] yards wide, dischargeing a great quantity of water, and containing more wood in its bottoms than the Missourie. this river Capt. Lewis walked up a Short distance and he Saw an old Indian encampment.    we Saw also great encampments on the Stard. Side at the mouth of a Small creek [13] of about 100 lodges, which [a]ppeared to be about 5 or 6 weeks past.    our Indian woman examined their moccasons &.C and told us that they were the Indians which resided below the rockey Mountains, and to the North of the river    that hir nation made their moccasons differently.    at 6 ½ miles passed a considerable rapid [14] at which place the hills approach near the river on both Sides, leave a narrow bottom on the Starboard Side (ash rapid) and continue close all day but little timber.    we Saw the remains of a number of buffalow which had been drove down a Steep clift of rocks, from appearence their was upwards of 100 of these animels all picked off in a drove, great nombers of wolves were about this place & verry gentle    Capt. Clark killed one of them with his Sphere. [15]    the hills above ash rapid contain more rocks & coal, and the more rapid points. we come too for dinner at or opposite the entrance of a Small River [16] which falls in on the Lard. Side, & no timber for Some distance.    has a bold running Stream. Soon after we came too it began to rain, and blew hard, and as we were in a good harbour a point of wood on the Stard. Side, & no timber for Some distance above, induced the Captains to Stay all night, they gave each man a dram    though Small was enofe to efect Several of the men    one of the hunters killed an Elk.    in the evening Capt. Clark killed 2 beaver on the Side of the bank. Some of the hunters who went out on the high land, Said it Snowed & hailed on the hills.    we Came 18 miles this day.—


Wednesday 29th.    We proceeded on early and had a fine morning; passed two rivers, one on each side. [17] At 12 it became cloudy and began to rain. We went about eighteen miles and halted at a handsome grove of timber on the South side. It rained a little all the afternoon. Some of the men went out to hunt and killed an elk. Last night [18] about 12 o'clock a buffaloe swimming the river happened to land at one of the periogues, crossed over it and broke two guns, but not so as to render them useless. He then went straight on through the men where they were sleeping, but hurt none of them. As we came along to day we passed a place where the Indians had driven above an hundred head of buffaloe down a precipice and killed them.


Wednesday 29th May 1805.    Some clouday.    a large buffloe Swam the river last night, and came out across one of the perogues & broke a blunderbuss, [19] & bent a rifle & came up the bank through the Camp & like to have tramped on Several of the men as they were a Sleep.    we Set off as usal & proceeded on.    passed the mouth of a large Creek or 2, on the S. S. & bottoms of timber.    about 10 oC. A. M. we passed a handsom bottom on the N. S. where about 100 lodges of Indians had lately been camped.    we Suspect it was a nation called the blackfoot Indians which live back from the River, to the Northward.    we got Some of their dog poles.    we proceeded on    passed over hard rifles which was So rapid that caused high waves for Some distance below.    passed Several Creeks on each Side of the river.    about one oC. P. M. we passed high Steep clifts of rocks on the N. S. where the natives had lately drove a gang of buffaloe off from the plains [20]    they fell So far on the uneven Stone below that it killed them dead.    they took what meat they wanted, & now the wolves & bears are feasting on the remains, which causes a horrid Smell.    Capt. Clark killed a wolf with a Sphere near that place.    we Saw several brown bear on the mountains on the S. Side.    about 3 oC. P. M. we passed the mouth of a large Creek or Small river on S. S.    we halted little above at a handsom bottom of timber on the N. S.    began to rain, the wind rose high from N. W.    So we Camped [21] for the night.    Some of the hunters went out in the plains.    they Soon returned & Said it Snowed & hailed on the hills back from the river.    our officers gave each man a draughm of ardent Spirits.    one of the hunters killed an Elk.    hard rain this evening.    we had come 18 miles to day through a Mountaneous desert Country.    Saw a nomber of geese on the river.    one man killed one of them.—

Wednesday May 29th    We had Cloudy weather this morning, last night a Buffalo swam the River, and came out across one of the Pettyaugers, he passed over a Blunder buss, and trod on one of our Rifles which he bent, and came up the Bank, through our Camp, and had like to have trampled on several of our Men who were asleep, We set off this Morning at the usual hour, and proceeded on our Voyage and passed 2 large Creeks lying on the South side of the River, & large bottoms of Timber,

About 10 o'Clock A. M we passed a handsome bottom of land, lying on the South side of the River where stood about 100 lodges of Indians that had lately been encamped there; we expected it had been a nation of Indians called the Black foot Tribe, who reside back from the River, to the Northward, we landed and got some of their dog poles, for setting poles for our Crafts, We proceeded on and passed over some hard Riffles, which were so rapid, that it caused the Waves to run high, for some distance below, and passed several Creeks lying on both sides of the River, About 1 o'Clock P. M. we passed a high Clift of Rocks, lying on the North side of the River, where the Natives had lately drove a Gang of Buffalo, off, from the plains, Those Buffalo fell so far & the Uneveness of the Stones below; that it had killed a number of them, they had taken what Meat they wanted, and we saw Gangs of Wolves, & Bears, feasting on the remainder, The Indians had piled a large number of the Bones of the Buffalo & upwards 400 Horns, the putrified Meat caused a horred Stench, Captain Clarke killed a Wolf, with a Spear near that plece; We saw several brown bear on the Mountains on the South side of the River, About 3 o'Clock we passed the Mouth of a large Creek, or rather a small River, lying on the South side, We halted a little above at a handsome bottom of Timber, lying on the North side of the River, where it began to Rain & the Wind rose, & blew hard from the North West, At this place we took up our Encampment for the Night.—

Some of our hunters went out into the plains, but soon returned to us, and mentioned that it snowed, & hailed on the Hills back from the River; our Officers gave each of the party a dram of Ardent Spirit, One of those hunters killed an Elk, which was brought to our Camp, In the Evening we had rain, We had come this day 18 Miles through the Mountains, and a desert Country, We saw a number of Geese in the River this day, and One was shot by one of our party—

1. Judith River, meeting the Missouri in Fergus County, Montana, still bears the name Clark gave it, after Julia (or Judith) Hancock, of Fincastle, Virginia, whom he married in 1808. Jackson provides evidence that she used both forms of her name. Lewis's writing and then crossing out "thought proper to" suggests he at first had some doubts about the propriety of the name; later he imitated Clark by naming Marias River after a cousin, Maria Wood. Steffen, 12; Jackson (FLCE), 12; Atlas maps 49, 52, 60; MRC map 73. It appears that Lewis erased the word Big Horn and substituted Judith, although he did not continue the substitutions. Biddle was apparently the one who interlined Judith over Big Horn in the remaining mentions, but not in his usual red ink. See n. 2 below. (back)
2. Apparently the river Lewis wished to call the Big Horn was the one Clark called the Judith, its present name. This is the first stream on the larboard side of the Missouri above the campsite of May 28, 1805. It has no name on Atlas map 40, and is the Big Horn (perhaps written in Lewis's hand) on map 52. The next larboard stream on the latter map is the one they called Slaughter River, present Arrow Creek; the next is nameless on map 52 and the one after that (on map 53) is Crevis Creek. Slaughter River is the stream opposite whose mouth they camped on May 29. However, on Clark's 1810 map (Atlas map 125) and the Clark-Maximilian map of 1833 (Atlas map 60) the Judith-Big Horn is the Judith and the next three larboard streams are the Big Horn, the Slaughter, and Crevis Creek. From the evidence of the journals and Atlas maps 52 and 53 it would appear that Clark made an error on his 1810 map, probably because of the extra stream between Slaughter River and Crevis Creek. In fact, there is only one drainage in the area just above Arrow Creek, modern Sheep Shed Coulee. The copyist of 1833 may have worked from differing versions and in resolving the discrepancy made the wrong choice. Coues (HLC), 1:333–36 nn. 20, 22; MRC map 73. (back)
3. Sacagawea may have been referring to the Blackfeet Indians, but Clark's wording relates to the Atsina. See entry and notes, May 28, 1805. (back)
4. Later Drowned Man's Rapid, now Deadman Rapids. Atlas maps 40, 52, 60; MRC map 73. Lewis's mention of green ash is noteworthy in that this common eastern tree is at its western-most limit in the United States along the Missouri River here in northwestern Fergus County. Little, 130-W (back)
5. The method of slaughter Lewis describes is one frequently used by the plains tribes especially before they obtained horses, metal arrowheads, and firearms in large quanities. However, the broken country back of this bluff is not really suitable for concentrating and stampeding buffalo; it is likely that the dead animals had in fact drowned in the Missouri, floated downstream, and washed ashore at this location. The site is in Chouteau County, Montana, a little over one mile downstream from the mouth of Arrow Creek (Lewis and Clark's Slaughter River) and about nine miles upstream from the mouth of the Judith. Wood (MMA); Wood (SR); Appleman (LC), 302–3; Atlas maps 41, 52, 60; MRC map 73. (back)
6. Present Arrow Creek, the boundary between Chouteau and Fergus counties. The party camped opposite and somewhat above the mouth of Arrow Creek, at the Slaughter River Landing Recreation Area in Chouteau County. Atlas maps 41, 53, 60; MRC map 73. (back)
7. Also given on Atlas map 40, in both captains' hands. (back)
8. Given as "Valley run" or "Valley Creek" on Atlas maps 40, 52, 60; earlier Sage Creek, today's Chip Creek, Chouteau County. (back)
9. Apparently "Lard" on Atlas map 40, but Clark's journal entry agrees with Lewis. (back)
10. A standard dictionary would give this temperature as 66° F., but Coues (HLC), 1:336, defines it as 55° F. (back)
11. Not crossed out on Atlas map 40, giving a total mileage of 18. (back)
12. Judith River, Fergus County, Montana; so named by Clark after his future wife, Julia Hancock. (back)
13. Valley Run to the party, now Chip Creek, Chouteau County, Montana. (back)
14. Deadmans Rapids, the party's Ash Rapids. (back)
15. The captain's espontoon. (back)
16. The captains called it Slaughter River because of the number of dead buffalo found nearby; it is today's Arrow Creek, the boundary between Chouteau and Fergus counties. (back)
17. Judith River, Fergus County, Montana, named by Clark for his future wife, Julia Hancock, and Chip Creek, the party's Valley Creek, Chouteau County. Gass does not mention their Slaughter River, today's Arrow Creek, although he notes the mass of dead buffalo, which they took to be an Indian "buffalo jump," and which inspired the captains' name for the stream. See notes to the captains' entries for problems about stream names. (back)
18. The night of May 28–29. (back)
19. The party had two blunderbusses, which were heavy, swivel-mounted shoulder arms, generally used to fire buckshot for defense. (back)
20. See Lewis's entry for the day on the question whether this was an actual buffalo jump. (back)