September 17, 1806
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

September 17, 1806


We Set out as usial early    pass the Island of the little Osage Village [1] which is considered by the navigator of this river to be the worst place in it.    at this place water of the Missouri is confined between an Island and the S E main Shore and passes through a narrow chanel for more than 2 miles which is crouded with Snags in maney places quite across obligeing the navigater to pick his passage between those Snags as he can, in maney places the current passing with great velocity against the banks which cause them to fall &c.    at 11 A. M. we met a Captain McClellin [2] late a Capt. of Artily of the U States Army assending in a large boat.    this gentleman an acquaintance of my friend Capt. Lewis was Somewhat astonished to See us return and appeared rejoiced to meet us.    we found him a man of information and from whome we received a partial account of the political State of our Country, we were makeing enquires and exchangeing answers &c. untill near mid night.    this Gentleman informed us that we had been long Since given out by the people of the U S Generaly and almost forgotton, the President of the U. States had yet hopes of us; [3] we received some civilities of Capt. McClellin, he gave us Some Buisquit, Chocolate Sugar & whiskey, for which our party were in want and for which we made a return of a barrel of corn & much obliges to him. Capt. McClellin informed us that he was on reather a speculative expedition to the confines of New Spain, with the view to entroduce a trade with those people.    his plan is to proceede up this river to the Entcrance of the river platt there to form an establishment from which to trade partially with the Panas & Ottoes, to form an acquaintance with the Panias and provail Some of their principal Chiefs to accompany him to Santa Fee where he will apear in a stile calculated to atract the Spanish government in that quarter and through the influence of a handsome present he expects to be promited to exchange his merchindize for Silver & gold of which those people abound.    he has a kind of introductory Speach from Govr. Wilkinson to the Panias and Ottoes and a quantity of presents of his own which he purposes distributing to the Panias and ELeatans [4] with a view to gain their protection in the execution of his plans, if the Spanish Governmt. favour his plans, he purposes takeing his merchendize on mules & horses which Can easily be procured of the panias, to Some point convenient to the Spanish Settlements within the Louisiana Teritory to which place the inhabitants of New mexico may meet him for the purpose of trade &c. Capt McClellins plan I think a very good one if strictly prosued &c.

we Sent 5 hunters a head with directions to halt below Grand river and hunt untill we arived which would be in the morning. This day proved worme.    we decended only 30 miles to day and encamped 4 miles above Grand river on S E. Side [5]


Wednesday 17th Sept. 1806.    one of the men caught a large catfish last night which is juded to weigh a hundred weight.    a fair morning.    we Set out eairly and proceeded on verry well    soon passd. riffle Isld. and a Short distance below at the petzaw Island [6] we passd through a verry bad part of the river which was filled So thick with logs Standing on end & Sawyers that we only found room to pass through.    about 2 oClock P. M. we met a large Boat Commanded by one Capt. McLanen loaded down with Marchandize about 15 hands & an Intrepter & Clark [clerk].    they are bound for the Spanish Country by way of River platte to the panies Indians & purchase horses and cross the Mountains leaving their goods on this Side and git the Spaniards to come and bring their silver & gold and trade it for goods as they are full of money and no goods among them of any account.    and if Mr. McLanen has Success this voiage no doubt but that trade will be advantageous to the United States hereafter.    we aired our baggage &C    Several of our hunters Sent a head with 2 Small canoes to hunt.    in the evening Mr. McLanen gave our party as much whiskey as they would drink and we Camped. [7]    Mr. McLanen gave us a bag of Buiscuit &C.—


Wednesday 17th.    We went on early and had a pleasant day, but very warm. One of our party last night caught a large catfish, [8] supposed to weigh 100 pounds. We got a great many papaws [9] on our way to-day: a kind of fruit in great abundance on the Missouri from the river Platte to its mouth; and also down the Mississippi. About 11 o'clock we passed through a bad part of the river, where it was so filled with sawyers that we could hardly find room to pass through safe. About two in the afternoon we met a large keel-boat, commanded by a Captain M'Clanen, loaded with merchandize and bound to the Spanish country by the way of the river Platte. He intended to go by land across the mountain, and get the Spaniards to bring their gold and silver on this side, where he could take his goods and trade with them. He had fifteen hands, an imterpreter and a black. He intends to discharge his men on this side of the mountain, and to get some of the Ponis, who live on the river Platte to accompany him to the Spanish country. Mr. M'Clanen gave all our party as much whiskey as they could drink, and a bag of biscuit. Some of the men were sent on ahead in two small canoes to hunt, and we encamped here for the night.

1. Clark refers to the Little Osage village and the danger of the river in the vicinity on June 15, 1804. The village would have been in Saline County, Missouri, in the neighbourhood of Malta Bend. MRC map 11. (back)
2. John McClallen, or McClellan, who should not be confused with Robert McClellan, was a New Yorker. He entered the army in 1794 as a lieutenant of artillery, was promoted to captain in 1798, and resigned in January 1806, probably to undertake the venture Clark refers to here. He was an associate of General Wilkinson, who may have been a secret backer of his enterprise. His movements after meeting Lewis and Clark are mysterious, but it appears he did not make his way to New Mexico. The regular commerce between Missouri and Santa Fe did not begin until 1821. There is some evidence that McClallen continued on up the Missouri, wintered in South Dakota, then traveled on to the Three Forks and finally established a trading post in the Flathead country in western Montana. In 1807 David Thompson of the North West Company, operating on the upper Columbia River in British Columbia, received messages from an American who claimed to be a U.S. Army officer, giving the name of Pinch or Perch, who warned Thompson that he was trespassing on American territory, which was not true. This person has never been identified, but McClallen is as likely a candidate as any. It would also appear that he and his men became involved in hostilities between the Flatheads and the Blackfeet and were killed by the latter in 1810. It has been speculated that Pierre Cruzatte, Joseph Field, and John B. Thompson of Lewis and Clark's party returned up the Missouri after reaching St. Louis, joined McClallen, and were among those killed with him, although there is no clear evidence. See Appendix A. Heitman, 655; Majors; Josephy, 42, 657–60; Nasatir (BR), 142. (back)
3. According to Sergeant Ordway, Robert McClellan told them on September 12 that "the people in general in the United States were concerned about us as they had heard that we were all killed    then again they heard that the Spanyards had us in the mines &C." The Spanish had, in fact, made attempts to stop the expedition. Spain still had a claim on the Pacific Northwest, and the Spanish government, like Lewis and Clark, believed the headwaters of the Missouri to be much closer to New Mexico than was actually the case. Between 1804 and 1806 the government of New Spain sent no less than four expeditions from New Mexico out onto the Great Plains to intercept the party, either going or coming back. The first three were led by the great trailblazer Pedro Vial and the last, the largest Spanish expedition to cross the plains, by Facundo Melgares. The first and the last came within several days' travel of the American party but were defeated by logistical problems and lack of Indian cooperation. Cook, 453–85; Loomis & Nasatir, xxi-xxii, 181–204, 428–30. (back)
4. For the Eliatans, or Aliatans—in this case perhaps Comanches—see April 1, 1805. (back)
5. The Grand River, first passed by the party on June 13, 1804, now meets the Missouri between Carroll and Chariton counties, Missouri; the mouth may have been farther upstream in 1806. The camp would have been farther upstream in 1806. The camp would have been in Saline County. MRC map 10. Following this entry is a blank page (p. 69 of Codex N). (back)
6. Clark does not name this island on either the outbound or inbound journeys and Ordway's designation is unclear. Clark does speak of the Missouri's turbulence at this point, which would be in the area of Malta Bend, Saline County, Missouri. See the captain's entry for this day and for June 15, 1804. (back)
7. They camped four miles above the mouth of Grand River on the south side of the Missouri River, according to Clark. That would put them in the area of Malta Bend, Saline County, Missouri. (back)
8. Perhaps a blue catfish, Ictalurus furcatus. (back)
9. Pawpaw, Asimina triloba (L.) Dun. (back)