June 6, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

June 6, 1805


I now became well convinced that this branch of the Missouri had it's direction too much to the North for our rout to the Pacific, and therefore determined to return the next day after taking an observation of the ☉'s Meridian Altitude in order to fix the latitude of the place. The forepart of the last evening was fair but in the latter part of the night clouded up and contnued so with short intervals of sunshine untill a little before noon when the whole horizon was overcast, and I of course disappointed in making the observation which I much wished. I had sent Sergt. Pryor and Windsor early this morning with orders to procede up the river to some commanding eminence and take it's bearing as far as possible.    in the mean time the four others and myself were busily engaged in making two rafts on which we purposed descending the river; we had just completed this work when Sergt. Pryor and Windsor returned, it being about noon; they reported that they had proceded from hence S 70 W. 6 m. to the summit of a commanding eminence from whence the river on their left was about 2½ miles distant; that a point of it's Lard. bluff, which was visible boar S 80 W. distant about 15 ms.; that the river on their left bent gradually arround to this point, and from thence seemed to run Northwardly.    we now took dinner and embarcked with our plunder and five Elk's skins on the rafts but were soon convinced that this mode of navigation was hazerdous particularly with those rafts they being too small and slender.    we wet a part of our baggage and were near loosing one of our guns; I therefore determined to abandon the rafts and return as we had come, by land. I regreted much being obliged to leave my Elk's skins, which I wanted to assist in forming my leather boat; those we had prepared at Fort Mandan being injured in such manner that they would not answer.    we again swung our packs and took our way through the open plains for about 12 mes. when we struck the river; the wind blew a storm from N. E. accompanyed by frequent showers of rain; we were wet and very could.    〈we〉 continued our rout down the river only a few miles before the abbruptness of the clifts and their near approach to the river compelled us take the plains and once more face the storm; here we boar reather too much to the North and it was late in the evening before we reached the river, in our way we killed two buffaloe and took with us as much of the flesh as served us that night, and a part of the next day.    we encamped a little below the entrance of the large dry Creek called Lark C. having traveled abut 25 mes. since noon.    it continues to rain and we have no shelter, an uncomfortable nights rest is the natural consequence.—


a Cloudy Cold raw day wind hard from the N. E.    we Set out early & traveled down the little river which was imedeately in our Course    on this river we killed 7 Deer for their Skins    the bottoms of this little river is in everry respect except in extent [1] like the large bottoms of the Missouri below the forks containing a great perpotion of a kind of Cotton wood with a leaf resembling a wild Cherry—. I also observed wind [wild] Tanzey [2] on this little river in great quantities, we halted at 12 oClock and eate a part of a fat Buck, after Dinner we assended the Plain at which time it began to rain and Continued all day, at 5 oClock we arrived at our Camp on the point, where I expected to meet Capt Lewis—    he did not return this evening.—    my Self and party much fatigued haveing walked Constantly as hard as we Could march over a Dry hard plain, dcending & assending the Steep river hills & gullies, in my absence the party had killed an Elk & 2 buffalow, I Sent out for the meat a part of which was brought in—    nothing remarkable had transpired at camp in my absence


June 6th Thursday 1805.    a Cloudy Cold morning. The wind high from the north. Some of the men went a Short distance from Camp and killed 2 buffalow 1 mule deer 1 common deer 2 antilopes & a fat Elk.    about 2 oClock P. M. Capt. Clark and his party returned to Camp    had been about 40 miles up the South fork & Capt. Clark thinks that it will be the best course for us to go.    they Saw a beautiful Spring [3] about eight miles up the South fork from this place where they refreshed themselves with a drink of grog as they had a canteen of old Spirits with them, the middle river [4] is only about 200 yards across from the South fork, at the Spring, they Saw but little game on the South fork but returned back on the middle fork, where they found abundance of Elk Deer buffalow antilopes & wolves.    they Saw Several brown or yallow bear also. one of the men by the [name?] of Jos. Fields was attacted by an old hea bear & his gun missed fire and he was in danger of being killed by that venimous animel had the rest of the party not been in hearing, who fired at him and he turned his course and left the man.    they killed three bear & eat a part of one of them.    they killed on the little R. a nomber of fat Elk Deer &C &.C;—    the bottoms on the little river is like those below the forks, a considerable of a kind of cotton wood which has a leaf like the leaf of a cherry. [5]    we Saw wild tanzey [6] in these bottoms.    nothing groes in the high plains but Short grass and prickley pears, they Saw a large Mountain [7] to the South of them covred with Snow, which was but a Short distance from where they turned back.    a light Sprinkling of rain this afternoon. Capt. Lewis and his party has not returned this evening. Capt. Clark revived the party with a Dram.


Thursday 6th.    We proceeded down the small river and killed some deer. About 1 o'clock we went on the plains again, which we kept on till we came to the point in the evening. [8] Captain Lewis and his party had not returned. Some light rain fell this afternoon.


Thursday 6th June 1805.    a cold cloudy morning.    the wind blew cold from the N. E.    Some of the men went from Camp a Short distance and killed 2 buffalow one fat Elk 2 Deer 1 mule & one common Deers, 2 antilopes &c.    a light Sprinkling of rain to day.    about 2 oClock P. M. Capt. Clark & his party returned to Camp.    they informed us that the South fork is the most probable branch to our course which Capt. Clark alowed we would take.    they had been about 40 miles up the South fork.    when they got about 8 miles from our Camp they found a beautiful Spring of water, [9] where the Small river was not more than 200 yards from the South fork.    they refreshed themselves at the Spring with a drink of good grog. [10]    they Saw but little game on this river.    they passed through high plains, where nothing groes but Short grass & prickley pears. [11]    the course of the river as far as they went about S. W.    they Saw a mountain [12] to the South of them covred with Snow.    one of the men by the name of Jo. Fields was attcd by an old hea bear, which would have killed him if the rest of the party had not been in hearin to have fired at him which made him turn his course.    they killed 3 bear, & eat a part of one of them, & returned by way of the middle branch which they came down & killed in its bottoms a nomber of fat Elk Deer & Saw wolves antelopes & beaver &c.    the bottoms of this middle river is like thee bottoms below the forks, covered with timber.    Some cotton trees with a leaf like the leaf of cherry.    they Saw wild tanzey &c—    Capt. Lewis & party did not return this evening.—    the party has been employed dressing Skins &c.

Thursday June 6th    We had a Cold Cloudy morning, the Wind still continuing to blow from the North east, Some of our Men went out a hunting a small distance from the Camp, They killed 2 Buffalo, one fat Elk, 2 deer, 2 Antelope & some 〈other〉 small game.—    We had a small sprinkling of Rain this forenoon.    About 2 o'Clock P. M. Captain Clark, and the party that was with him returned, to Camp, the party informed us, that the South fork, was most probably the Course that we should take, and Captain Clarke allow'd it would be the case.—

The party that was with Captain Clark, had been about 40 Miles up the South fork, they had discover'd 8 Miles from Camp a beautiful spring of water; where the small River which emptied itself into the North fork was not more than 200 Yards, from the South fork—    They mention'd of having seen but little game on that River; and that they had passed through high plains, which had short Grass, and prickly pears growing on them.—    and that the Course of the River as far as they went, ran about Southwest, they likewise saw a Mountain; lying to the South covered with Snow.—    One of the party was attackted by an Old Male Bear, which in all probability would have killed him; had not the rest of the party been near enough to fire at him, which made him turn his course, They had killed 3 Bear, part of one they had eaten,—    The party had returned by way of the middle branch (or small River) and came down the same.—    They had killed in the bottoms on their return down this small River; a number of fat Elks & deer, and saw Wolves, antelopes Beaver &ca. in the greatest abundance.    The bottoms on this small River, are like the bottoms Land below the forks of the two Rivers.—    They have fine growths of Timber on them, and 〈have〉 the Cotton wood trees in them, having a leaf much like Wild cherry, and plenty of Tanzy.—    Captain Lewis and his party did not return this Evening.—    The party that remained in Camp employed themselves in dressing Skins, making Moccasins &ca.—

1. Lewis may have written the words "except in extent." (back)
2. The identity of the plant is problematic. The possibilities include Dyssodia papposa (Vent.) Hitch., fetid marigold or false dog fennel, or more likely Matricaria matricarioides (Less.) Porter, pineapple weed, also known as Chamomilla suaveolens (Pursh) Rydb. Booth & Wright, 278; Welsh, 237. Clark is comparing this to Tanacetum vulgare L., the cultivated common tansy or golden-buttons, introduced to eastern U.S. gardens from Europe, probably in colonial times. Fernald, 1518. (back)
3. See Clark's entry of July 12. (back)
4. Teton River, with the Missouri being the south fork. (back)
5. Probably narrowleaf cottonwood, Populus angustifolia James. Only Ordway and Whitehouse compare its leaf to the leaf of a cherry. (back)
6. Perhaps western yarrow, Achillea mellefolium L. See Clark's entry of June 6, 1805, Lewis's of July 31, 1805, but especially Lewis's of June 5, 1806, for a most likely determination of the plant's identity. (back)
7. Probably the Little Belt Mountains with the Big Belt Mountains behind. (back)
8. They returned to the main party's camp of June 3, at the then-mouth of the Marias River, Chouteau County, Montana. (back)
9. The "Grog Spring," as Whitehouse notes, was at the place where the Teton and Missouri rivers approach very closely, in Chouteau County, Montana. (back)
10. Grog is generally taken to be a mixture of rum and water. (back)
11. Probably plains prickly pear, Opuntia polyacantha Haw. (back)
12. Probably the Highwood Mountains, in Chouteau County. (back)