April 1805 - May 1805
April 17, 1805
there were three beaver taken this morning by the party. the men prefer the flesh of this anamal, to that of any other which we have, or are able to procure at this moment. I eat very heartily of the beaver myself, and think it excellent; particularly the tale, and liver ...
April 24, 1805
The wind blew so hard during the whole of this day, that we were unable to move. ... Soar eyes is a common complaint among the party. I believe it origenates from the immence quantities of sand which is driven by the wind from the sandbars of the river in such clouds that you are unable to discover the opposite bank of the river in many instances. ... so penitrating is this sand that we cannot keep any article free from it; in short we are compelled to eat, drink, and breath it very freely. my pocket watch, is out of order, she will run only a few minutes without stoping. I can discover no radical defect in her works, and must therefore attribute it to the sand, with which, she seems plentifully charged, notwithstanding her cases are double and tight.
April 25, 1805
the buffaloe Elk and Antelope are so gentle that we pass near them while feeding, without apearing to excite any alarm among them; and when we attract their attention, they frequently approach us more nearly to discover what we are, and in some instances pursue us a considerable distance apparenly with that view.
April 29, 1805
(Meeting with two bear)
... the other after my firing on him pursued me seventy or eighty yards, but fortunately had been so badly wounded that he was unable to pursue so closely as to prevent my charging my gun; we again repeated our fir[e] and killed him. ... it is a much more furious and formidable anamal, and will frequently pursue the hunter when wounded. it is asstonishing to see the wounds they will bear before they can be put to death. the Indians may well fear this anamal equiped as they generally are with their bows and arrows or indifferent fuzees, but in the hands of skillfull riflemen they are by no means as formidable or dangerous as they have been represented. ...
April 29, 1805
We proceeded early with a moderate wind: captain Lewis who was on shore with one hunter met about eight o'clock two white [grizzly] bears: of the strength and ferocity of this animal, the Indians had given us dreadful accounts: they never attack him but in parties of six or eight persons, and even then are often defeated with the loss of one or more of the party. Having no weapons but bows and arrows, and the bad guns with which the traders supply them, they are obliged to approach very near to the bear; and as no wound except through the head or heart is mortal, they frequently fall a sacrifice if they miss their aim. He rather attacks than avoids amen, and such is the terror which he has inspired, that the Indians who go in quest of him paint themselves and perform all the superstitious rites customary when they make war on a neighbouring nation. Hitherto those we had seen did not appear desirous of encountering us, but although to a skilful rifleman the danger is very much diminished, yet the white bear is still a terrible animal: on approaching these two, both captain Lewis and the hunter fired and each wounded a bear: one of them made his escape; the other turned upon captain Lewis and pursued him seventy or eighty yards, but being badly wounded he could not run so fast as to prevent him from reloading his piece, which he again aimed at him, and a third shot from the hunter brought him to the ground: he was a male not quite full grown, and weighed about three hundred pounds: the legs are somewhat longer than those of the black bear, and the talons and tusks much larger and stronger. The testicles are also placed much farther forward and suspended in separate pouches from two to four inches asunder, while those of the black bear are situated back between the thighs and in a single pouch like those of the dog: its colour is a yellowish brown, the eyes small, black, and piercing, the front of the fore legs near the feet is usually black, and the fur is finer, thicker, and deeper than that of the black bear:
May 2, 1805
... snow ... being about one inch deep, ... the flesh of the beaver is esteemed a delecacy among us; I think the tale a most delicious morsal, when boiled it resembles in flavor the fresh tongues and sounds of the codfish, and is usually sufficiently large to afford a plentifull meal for two men.
May 4, 1805
I saw immence quantities of buffaloe in every direction, also some Elk deer and goats; having an abundance of meat on hand I passed them without firing on them; they are extreemly gentle the bull buffaloe particularly will scarcely give way to you. I passed several in the open plain within fifty paces, they viewed me for a moment as something novel and then very unconcernedly continued to feed.
Joseph Fields was very sick today with the disentary had a high fever I gave him a doze of Glauber salts, which operated very well, in the evening his fever abated and I gave him 30 drops of laudnum.
May 4, 1805
Captain Clark and one of the hunters met this evening the largest brown beer we have seen. As they fired he did not attempt to attack, but fled with a most tremendous roar, and such was its extraordinary tenacity of life, that although he had five balls passed through his lungs and five other wounds, he swam more than half across the river to a sandbar, and survived twenty minutes. He weighed between five and six hundred pounds at least, and measured eight feet seven inches and a half from the nose to the extremity of the hind feet, five feet ten inches and a half round the breast, three feet eleven inches round the neck, one foot eleven inches round the middle of the foreleg, and his talons, five on each foot, were four inches and three eighths in length. It differs from the common black bear in having its talons much longer and more blunt; its tail shorter; its hair of a reddish or bay brown, longer, finer, and more abundant; his liver, lungs, and heart, much larger even in proportion to his size, the heart particularly being equal to that of a large ox; his maw ten times larger; his testicles pendant from the belly and in separate pouches four inches apart: besides fish and flesh he feeds on roots, and every kind of wild fruit.
May 5, 1805
(Wolf) ... we scracely see a gang of buffaloe without observing a parsel of those faithfull shepherds on their skirts in readiness to take care of the mamed wounded. ...
Capt. Clark and Drewyer killed the largest brown bear this evening which we have yet seen. it was a most tremendious looking anamal, and extreemly hard to kill notwithstanding he had five balls through his lungs and five others in various parts he swam more than half the distance across the river to a sandbar, & it was at least twenty minutes before he died; he did not attempt to attack, but fled and made the most tremendous roaring from the moment he was shot. We had no means of weighing this monster; ... this bear differs from the common black bear in several respects; it's tallons are much longer and more flont, it's tale shorter, it's hair which is of a redish or bey brown, is longer thicker and finer than that of the black bear; his liver lungs and heart are much larger even in proportion with his size; the heart particularly was as large as that of a large Ox. his maw was also ten times the size of black bear, and was filled with flesh and fish.
The party killed two Elk and a Buffaloe today, and my dog caught a goat, ...
May 5, 1805
... Killed the bear, which was verry large and a turrible looking animal, which we found verry hard to kill we Shot ten Balls into him before we killed him, & 5 of those Balls through his lights This animal is the largest of the carnivorous kind I ever saw ...
May 6, 1805
... passed three streames today which discharged themselves on the Lard side; ... we called it Big dry Creek, ... I find that the curiossity of our party is pretty well satisfyed with rispect to this anamal, the formidable appearance of the male bear killed on the 5th added to the difficulty with which they die when even shot through the vital parts, has staggered the resolution [of] several of them, others however seem keen for action with the bear; I expect these gentlemen will give us some amusement sho[r]tly as they [the bears -- Ed.] soon begin now to coppolate [copulate]. ... it is now only amusement for Capt. C. and myself to kill as much meat as the party can consum; ...
May 9, 1805
This stream (if such it can properly be termed) we called Big dry river. ... Charbono calls the boudin (poudingue) blanc, ... this white pudding we all esteem one of the greatest del[ic]acies of the forrest, ...
we saw a great quantity of game today particularly of Elk and Buffaloe, the latter are now so gentle that the men frequently throw sticks and stones at them in order to drive them out of the way. ... the river for several days has been as wide as it is generally near it's mouth, tho' it is much shallower or I should begin to dispair of ever reaching it's source; ... the water also appears to become clearer, it has changed it's complexin very considerably. I begin to feel extreemly anxious to get in view of the rocky mountains.
May 10, 1805
Boils and imposthumes [i.e. abscesses] have been very common with the party ... soar eyes continue also to be common to all of us in a greater or less degree. for the imposthume I use emmolient poltices, and for soar eyes a solution of white vitriol and the sugar of lead in the proportion of 2 grs of the former and one of the latter to each ounce of water.
May 11, 1805
About 5 P.M. my attention was struck by one of the party running at a distance towards us and making signs and hollowing as if in distress, ... I now found that it was Bratton ... at length he informed me ... below us he had shot a brown bear which immediately turned on him and pursued him a considerable distance but he had wounded it so badly that it could not overtake him; ... it was a monstrous beast, not quite so large as that we killed a few days past but in all other rispects much the same ... we now found that Bratton had shot him through the center of the lungs, notwithstanding which he had pursued him near half a mile and had returned more than double that distance and with his tallons had prepared himself a bed in the earth of about 2 feet deep and five long and was perfectly alive when we found him which could not have been less than 2 hours after he received the wound; these bear being so hard to die reather intimedates us all; I must confess that I do not like the gentlemen and had reather fight two Indians than one bear;
May 12, 1805
... I have therefore come to a resolution to act on the defencive only, should I meet these gentlemen in the open country.
May 14, 1805
... the bear pursued and had very nearly overtaken them before they reached the river; ... in this manner he pursued two of them seperately so close that they were obliged to throw aside their guns and pouches and throw themselves into the river altho' the bank was nearly twenty feet perpendicular; so enraged was this anamal that he plunged into the river only a few feet behind the second man he had compelled [to] take refuge in the water, when one of those who still remained on shore shot him through the head and finally killed him; ... they found eight balls had passed through him in different directions; ... It happened unfortunately for us this evening that Charbono was at the helm of this Perogue, in stead of Drewyer, who had previously steered her; Charbono cannot swim and is perhaps the most timid waterman in the world; ... in short almost every article indispensibly necessary to further the views, or insure the success of the enterprize in which we are now launched ... when a sudon squawl of wind struck her obliquely, and turned her considerably, the steersman allarmed, in stead of puting, her before the wind, lufted her up into it, the wind was so violent that it drew the brace of the squarsail out of the hand of the man who was attending it, and instantly upset the perogue and would have turned her completely topsaturva, had it not have been from the resistance mad[e] by the oarning against the water; ...the perogue then wrighted but had filled within an inch of the gunwals; Charbono still crying to his god for mercy, had not yet recollected the rudder, nor could the repeated orders of the Bowsman, Cruzat, bring him to his recollection untill he threatend to shoot him instantly if he did not take hold of the rudder and do his duty, ... had I undertaken this project therefore, there was a hundred to one but what I should have paid the forfit of my life for the madness of my project, but this had the perogue been lost, I should have valued but little. ... accordingly took a drink of grog and gave each man a gill of sperits.
May 14, 1805
Towards evening the men in the hindmost canoes discovered a large brown bear lying in the open grounds, about three hundred paces from the river: six of them, all good hunters, immediately went to attack him, and concealing themselves by a small eminence came unperceived within forty paces of him: four of the hunters now fired, and each lodged a ball in his body, two of them directly through the lungs: the furious animal sprung up and ran openmouthed upon them; as he came near, the two hunters who had reserved their fire gave him two wounds, one of which breaking his shoulder retarded his motion for a moment; but before they could reload he was so near that they were obliged to run to the river, and before they reached it he had almost overtaken them: two jumped into the canoe; the other four separated, and concealing themselves in the willows fired as fast as each could reload: they struck him several times, but instead of weakening the monster each shot seemed only to direct him towards the hunter, till at last he pursued two of them so closely, that they threw aside their guns and pouches, and jumped down a perpendicular bank of twenty feet into the river; the bear sprang after them, and was within a few feet of the hindmost, when one of the hunters on shore shot him in the head and finally killed him. They dragged him to the shore, and found that eight balls had passed through him in different directions; the bear was old and the meat tough, so that they took the skin only, and rejoined us at camp, where we had been as much terrified by an accident of a different kind.
May 17, 1805
we employed the toe line the greater part of the day; the banks were firm and shore boald which favoured the uce of the cord. I find this method of asscending the river, when the shore is such as will permit it, the safest and most expeditious mode of traveling, except with sails in a steady and favourable breze. we were roused late at night by the Sergt. of the guard, and warned of the danger we were in from a large tree that had taken fire and which leant immediately over our lodge. ... had we been a few minutes later we should have been crushed to attoms.
May 19, 1805
one of the party wounded a beaver, and my dog as usual swam in to catch it; the beaver bit him through the hind leg and cut the artery; it was with great difficulty that I could stop the blood; I fear it will yet prove fatal to him.
May 24, 1805
The water standing in the vessels freized during the night 1/8 of an inch thick, ...
the air is so pure in this open country that moutains and other elivated objects appear much nearer than they really are; these mountains do not appear to be further than 15 M. we sent a man up this creek to explore the country he returned late in the evening and informed that he had proceeded ten miles directly towards these mountains and that he did not think himself by any mean[s] half way these mountains are rockey and covered with some scattering pine.
May 26, 1805
while I viewed these mountains I felt a secret pleasure in finding myself so near the head of the heretofore conceived boundless Missouri; but when I reflected on the difficulties which this snowey barrier would most probably throw in my way to the Pacific, and the sufferings and hardships of myself and party in thim, it in some measure counterballanced the joy I had felt in the first moments in which I gazed on them; but as I have always held it a crime to anticipate evils I will believe it a good comfortable road untill I am compelled to believe differently. it was after Dark before we finished butchering the buffaloe, and on my return to camp I trod within [a] few inches of a rattle snake but being in motion I passed before he could probably put himself in a striking attitude and fortunately excaped his bite, I struck about with my espontoon being directed in some measure by his nois untill I killed him.
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 allarmed 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 o[u]r hands, enquiring of each other the ca[u]se 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 blunderbushes on board, ... it appears that the white perogue which contains our most valuable stores is attended by some evil gennii.