June 23, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

June 23, 1805


This morning early I scelected a place for the purpose of constructing my boat near the water under some shady willows. Capt Clark had the Canoe and baggage brought up, after which we breakfasted and nearly consumed the meat which he had left her[e].    he now set out on his return with the party. I employed the three men with me in the forenoon clearing away the brush and forming our camp, and puting the frame of the boat together.    this being done I sent Shields and Gass to look out for the necessary timber, and with J. Fields decended the river in the canoe to the mouth of Medicine river in surch of the hunters whom I had dispatched thither on the 19th inst. and from whom we had not heard a sentence. I entered the mouth of medicine river and ascended it about half a mile when we landed and walked up the Stard. side. frequently hooping as we went on in order to find the hunters; at length after ascending the river about five miles we found Shannon who had passed the Medecine river & fixed his camp on the Lard. side, where he had killed seven deer and several buffaloe and dryed about 600 lbs. of buffaloe meat; but had killed no Elk. Shannon could give me no further account of R. Fields and Drewyer than that he had left them about noon on the 19th at the great falls and had come on the mouth of Medicine river to hunt Elk as he had been directed, and never had seen them since.    the evening being now far spent I thought it better to pass the Medicine river and remain all night at Shannon's camp; I passed the river on a raft which we soon constructed for the purpose.    the river is here about 80 yds. wide, is deep and but a moderate current.    the banks low as those of the Missouri above the falls yet never appear to overflow.    as it will give a better view of the transactions of the party, I shall on each day give the occurrences of both camps during our seperation as I afterwards learnt those of the lower camp from Capt. Clark.    on his return today he cut of several angles of the rout by which we came yesterday, shortened the portage considerably, measured it and set up stakes throughout as guides to marke the rout.    he returned this evening to the lower camp in sufficient time to take up two of the canoes from portage creek to the top of the plain about a mile in advance.    this evening the men repaired their mockersons, and put on double souls to protect their feet from the prickley pears.    during the late rains the buffaloe have troden up the praire very much, which having now become dry the sharp points of earth as hard as frozen ground stand up in such abundance that there is no avoiding them.    this is particulary severe on the feet of the men who have not only their own wight to bear in treading on those hacklelike points but have also the addition of the burthen which they draw and which in fact is as much as they can possibly move with.    they are obliged to halt and rest frequently for a few minutes, at every halt these poor fellows tumble down and are so much fortiegued that many of them are asleep in an instant; in short their fatiegues are incredible; some are limping from the soreness of their feet, others faint and unable to stand for a few minutes, with heat and fatiegue, yet no one complains, all go with cheerfullness.    in evening Reubin Fields returned to the lower camp and informed Capt. Clark of the absence of Shannon, with rispect to whome they were extreemly uneasy. Fields and Drewyer had killed several buffaloe at the bend of the missouri above the falls and had dryed a considerable quantity of meat; they had also killed several deer but no Elk.—


a Cloudy morning wind from the S. E, after getting the Canoe to Camp & the articles left in the plains we eate brackfast of the remaining meat found in Camp & I with the party the truck wheels & poles to Stick up in the prarie as a guide, Set out on our return, we proceeded on, & measured the Way which I Streightened considerably from that I went on yesterday, and arrived at our lower camp in Suffcent time to take up 2 Canoes on the top of the hill from the Creek, found all Safe at Camp    the men mended their mockersons with double Soles to Save their feet from the prickley pear, (which abounds in the Praries,) and the hard ground which in Some & maney places So hard as to hurt the feet verry much, the emence number of Buffalow after the last rain has trod the flat places in Such a manner as to leave it uneaven, and that has tried and is wors than frozen ground, added to those obstructions, the men has to haul with all their Strength wate & art, maney times every man 〈an〉 all catching the grass & knobes & Stones with their hands to give them more force in drawing on the Canoes & Loads, and notwithstanding the Coolness of the air in high presperation and every halt, those not employed in reparing the Couse; are asleep in a moment, maney limping from the Soreness of their feet Some become fant for a fiew moments, but no man Complains    all go Chearfully on—    to State the fatigues of this party would take up more of the journal than other notes which I find Scercely time to Set down. I had the best rout Staked out and measured which is 17 miles ¾ to the river & ½ a mile up i. 'e 18¼ miles portage—    from the lower rapid to the 1st Creek is 286 poles, to a Deep run of water, Called Willow Run is 6 miles    thence to the river 3 miles above Medison Riv at 3 Island Called White Bear Islands is 11 miles all prarie without wood or water except at the Creek & run which afford a plenty of fine water and a little wood    the plain is tolerably leavel except at the river 〈the Creek〉 a Small assent & passing a low hill from the Creek a rough & Steep assent for about ¼ of a mile and Several Gullies & a gradual hill for 1 ½ miles    the heads of Several gullies which have Short assents & the willow run of a Steep hill    on this run grows Purple & red Currents.    the red is now ripe the Purple full grown, an emence number of Prarie birds now Setting of two kinds one larger than a Sparrow dark yellow the Center feathers of its tail yellow & the out Sides black Some Streeks about its neck, the other about the Same Size White tail [1]


June 23rd Sunday 1805.    a cloudy morning.    the wind from East.    a light Sprinkling of rain.    in the afternoon one of the hunters [2] came to the lower camp from the medicine River. he informed us that George Shannon left them the Same day they Stearted from this, & they could not account where he went. The other 2 hunters [3] had killed 16 buffalow and 5 Deer but no Elk. they had Dryed considerable of the buffalow meat at their Camp. in the evening Capt. Clark & party returned to the lower Camp, they informed us that they had Some difficulty.    the truck wheels, or Some part of them broke Several times &.C.    the tongue broke near the upper Camp & they were obledged to leave it and formed the Camp about 3 miles above the Medicine River. Capt. Clark Straightned the road considerable from that he went on yesterday.    they took 2 canoes up the hill from the creek this evening.    the men mended their mockisons with double Soles to Save their feet from the prickley pear (which abound in the plains) and the hard ground in many places is So hard as to hurt our feet verry much. the emence numbers of buffalow after the last rain has trod the flat places in Such a manner as to leave them uneaven, and dryed as hard as frozen Ground. the men all much fatigued this evening &C.    the Distance Staked out for the portage is 18¼ miles from the lower Camp or lower rapid.


Sunday 23rd.    The morning was cloudy. When I awoke this morning I found a material difference between the river and country here and below the falls. Here the river is wide and the current gentle. There are three small islands at this place and some timber on the banks, but not much, and what is there is cotton-wood and willow. The banks are very low, and the country rising in plains a considerable distance on both sides of the river; and far off mountains covered with snow on both sides and ahead. Two of the men [4] and myself remained with Captain Lewis here to assist him in putting together his iron boat, the rest went back for another load. The iron boat-frame is to be covered with skins and requires a quantity of thin shaved strips of wood for lining. In the forenoon we put the frame together, which is 36 feet long, 4½ wide, and 2 feet 2 inches deep. In the afternoon Capt. Lewis and one of the men [5] went down to Medicine river, which is about two miles distant; to see whether the three men [6] sent there to hunt had procured any elk skins. In the evening they found one of the hunters, [7] and encamped with him all night.


Sunday June 23rd 1805.    the wind has Shifted to the East.    Cloudy.    a light Sprinkling of rain.    in the afternoon one of the hunters came in from the Medicine River & informed us that one man G. Shannon left them the first day he left this place, & took with him a Small kittle & Some perched meal which was for the hunters, and that the other 2 had killed 16 buffalow and a fiew Deer but Saw no Elk.    had dryed considerable of fat buffalow meat at their Camp on the medicine River.    in the evening Capt. Clark and party came in from the upper Camp & I with them [8] & informed us that they had Some difficulty with their truck waggons as they broke Sundry times.    Capt. Clark Surveyed & measured the remainder of the portage, and looked out the best way for the truck waggons & baggage to Go, and made the distance to the upper camp to where we take water again to be 18 miles a Strait course.    they put up mile half mile ¼ mile & a half quarty mile Stakes as well as Several flags as guides for the portage or carrying place &c.    Capt. Lewis & 3 men [9] Stayed at the upper Camp, to prepare the Iron boat &c &c

Sunday June 23rd    This morning the wind shifted to the Eastward & became Cloudy and we had a light sprinkling of rain—    In the afternoon, one of the hunters came in from Medecine River, and informed us, that one of our Men by the name of Shannon had left them, the first day, after they had left this place; and had taken with him a small kettle & some parched Meal, which was intended for the hunters, and that the other two hunters had killed 16 Buffalo, & a few deer, but had seen no Elk, and that they had dried a considerable Quantity, of fat buffalo meat, at their Camp on Medicine River.

In the Evening Captain Clark & party (of whom I was one) came in from the upper camp, we inform'd the party left behind, that we had a great deal of difficulty, with the truck carriage and that it broke several times—    Captain Clark surveyed, and measured the remainder of the Portage; and had looked out the best way; for the truck carriages to go,—    and made the distance to the upper Camp to (where we are to take water) 18 Miles, on a strait course, We put up Mile, half mile, ¼ Mile & half quarter Mile stakes; it being Priaries all the way, and several flags as guides thro the portage, & carrying places.—    Captain Lewis staid at the upper Camp; preparing the Iron boat &ca. this night, We still remain at same place encamped below the falls.—

1. Neither of these birds can be identified with any certainty. The second one may be the lark bunting, Calamospiza melanocorys [AOU, 605], then new to science. Burroughs, 258. See also Weather Remarks for June 5, 1805. (back)
7. Shannon; he was encamped at the mouth of Sun River. (back)
8. Clark returned to the lower portage camp and Whitehouse accompanied him. (back)
9. Gass, Joseph Field, and Shields, reports Lewis. (back)