February 27, 1806
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February 27, 1806


Reubin Fields returned this evening and had not killed anything.    he reports that there are no Elk towards point Adams. C[o]llins who had hunted up the Netul on this side returned in the evening having killed a buck Elk. Willard still continues very unwell the other sick men have nearly recovered. Gutridge and McNeal who have the pox are recovering fast, the former nearly well. [1]

The rat in the Rocky mountain on it's West side are like those on the upper part of the Missouri in and near those mountains and have the distinguishing trait of possessing a tail covered with hair like other parts of the body; one of those we caught at the White bear Islands in the beginning of July last and was then discribed. I have seen the nests of those in this neighbourhood but not the animal. I think it most probable that they are like those of the Atlantic states or at least the native rat of our country which have no hair on the tail.    this species we found on the Missouri as far up it as the woody country extended.    it is as large as the common European house rat or reather larger, is of a lighter colour bordering more on the lead or drab colour, the hair longer; and the female has only four tits which are placed far back near the hinder legs.    this rat I have observed in the Western parts of the State of Georgia and also in Madison's cave in the state of Virginia. [2]    the mouse and mole of this neighbourhood are the same as those native animals with us. The Panther is found indifferently either in the Great Plains of Columbia, the Western side of the rocky mountains or on this coast in the timbered country.    it is precisely the same animal common to the Atlantic coast, and most commonly met with on our frontiers or unsettled parts of the country.    this animal is scarce in the country where they exist and are so remarkable shye and watchfull that it is extreemly difficult to kill them.—


Reubin Field returned this evening and had not killed anything, he reported that there were no Elk towards point Adams. Collins who had hunted up the Netul on this Side returned in the evening haveing killed a buck Elk.    Willard Still Continue very unwell the other Sick men have nearly recovered. Goodrich & McNeal who have the Pox are recovering fast, the former nearly well. La Page complaining.

The Braro so called by the French engages is an animal of the Civit genus and much resembles the common badger.    this is an enhabitent of the open plains of the Columbia as they are of those of the Missouri, but are Sometimes also found in the woody country.    they burrow in the hard Grounds in the Plains with Surprising ease and dexterity and will cover themselves in the Ground in a very fiew minits.    they have five long fixed nails on each foot; those of the [f]ore feet are much the longest; and one of those on each hind foot is double like those of the beaver. they weigh from 14 to 20 lbs. the body is reather long in perportion to its thickness.    the fore legs remarkably large and muscular and are formed like the turnspit dog.    they are Short as also the hind legs.    they are broad across the Sholders and breast.    the neck Short, the head is formed much like the Common fist dog only that the Skull is more Convex, the mouth is wide and furnishid with long Sharp teeth, both above and below, and with four Sharp Streight Pointed tushes, two in the upper and two in the lower jaw. the eyes are black and Small.    Whiskers are placed in four points on each Side near the nose and on the jaws near the opening of the mouth.    the ears are very Short wide and appressed as if they had been cut off.    the appertue through them to the head is remarkably Small; the tail is about 4 inches long; the hair longest on it at it's junction, with the body and becomeing Shorter towards it's extremity where it ends in an accute point.    the hairs of the body are much longer on the Sides and rump than any other part, which givs the body an appearent flatness, particularly when the animal rests on it's belly.    this hair is upwards of 3 inches in length, particularly on the rump where it extends so far towards the point of the tail, that it almost conceals the Shape of that part and givs to all the hinder part of the body an accute angled triangle, of which the point of the tail forms the accute angle.    the Small quantity of fur which is intermixed with the hair is of a redish pale yellow.    the hair of the back, Sides upper part of the neck and tail, are of redish light or pale yellow fox about two thirds of their length from the Skin, next black, and then tiped with white; forming a curious mixture of grey and fox colourd. red with a yellowish hue.    the belly flanks and breast are of the fox coloured redish yellow.    the legs black, the nails white.    the head on which the hair is short is varigated with black and white.    a narrow Strip of white Commences on the top of the nose about half an inch from its extremity and extends back along the Center of the forehead and neck nearly to the Sholders—    two Stripes of black Suckceed the white on either Side, imbraceing the Side of the nose, the eyes, and extends back as far as the ears.    two other Spots of black of a romboidal figure are placed on the Side of the head near the ears and between them and the opening of the mouth.    two black Spots also imediately behind the ears.    the other part of the head white.    this animal feeds on flesh, roots, bugs and wild fruits.—    it is very clumsy and runs very Slow, depending more on burring to Secure it Self than running. I have in Several instances out run and caught this animal.    in this respect they are not much more fleet than the porcupine.


Thursday 27th Feby. 1806.    a rainy wet morning.    one man went out a hunting.    in the afternoon one of our hunters [3] returned had killed one Elk.    Willard verry Sick    the rest of us are Some better.


Thursday Febry 27th    We had a rainey wet morning.    One of our party left the fort to go hunting.    In the afternoon one of our hunters returned & had killed an Elk.    All our sick Men at the fort excepting One [4] is still on the recovery.    We have no fresh meat in the fort which is hard for the Men that are sick.—

1. In the next paragraph two light red lines run through the passages about species, perhaps penned by Biddle. (back)
2. Madisons Cave, about twenty miles northwest of Charlottesville, Virginia, is one of the oldest-discovered and explored caves in the limestone region of the Shenandoah Valley. See Jefferson, 21–23. (back)
3. Collins, say the captains. (back)