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Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery

Journals: December, 1804

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1804
December
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Dec 1
1804
Clark: wind from the N W. all hands ingaged in gitting pickets

at 10 oClock the half brother of the man who was killed Came and informd. us that after my departure last night Six Chiens So Called by the french Shar ha Indians had arrived with a pipe and Said that their nation was at one days march and intended to Come & trade The mandans apprehended danger from the Shar has as they were at peace with the Seaux; and wished to Kill them and the Ricarees (or Panies) [Arikara Indians] but the Cheifs informed the nation "it was our wish that they Should not be hurt, and forbid being Killed &c." we gave a little Tobacco &c. & this man Departed well Satisfied with our councils and advice to him

in the evening a Mr. G Henderson* in the imploy of the hudsons bay Company Sent to trade with the Gros ventre—or big bellies [Hidatsa or Gross Ventre Indians] So Called by the french traders

Ordway: the morning fair. we commenced bringing the pickets & preparing to picket in our Garrison &.C. an Indian came from the Manden village to Inform us that a large nomber Sd. 300 lodge of the Shian nation had Come to their villages.

a Scotsman* who is tradeing at the Mandens came to visit us. he belonged to the hudson bay company he brought over Tobacco Beeds & other kinds of Goods & traded with the Mandens for their furs & buffalow Robes. they bring Some Guns to trade for horses &.C. this hudsons bay compy. lay Garrisoned near the N. W. Compy. Eight or 10 days travel by land a North course from this.

Gass: The day was pleasent, and we began to cut and carry pickets to complete our fort. One of the traders from the North West Company came to the fort, and related that the Indians had been troublesome in his way through. An Indian came down from the first Mandan village, and told us that a great number of the Chien or Dog nation had arrived near the village.

[*George Henderson was in charge of a party of Hudson's Bay Company men who had come from the Assiniboine River to compete with the North West Company traders.]

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Native American Tribes The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

Dec 2
1804
Clark: The latter part of last night was verry warm and Continued to thaw untill the wind Shifted to the North

at 11 oClock this morning the Chiefs of the Lower village of the Mandans with maney of theire young men and 4 of the Shar-ha's who had come to Smoke with the pipe of Peace with the Mandans, we explained to them our intentions our views and advised them to be at peace, Gave them a flag for theire nation, Some Tobacco with a Speech to Deliver to their nation on theire return,

also Sent by them a letter to Mrs. Tabbo & Gravoline, at the Ricares [Arikara Indians] Village, to interseid in proventing Hostilities, and if they Could not effect those measures to Send & informe us of what was going on, Stateing to the Indians the part we intend to take if the Rickores [Arikara Indians] & Seauex did not follow our Derections and be at peace with the nations which we had addopted— We made Some fiew Small presents to those Shar ha's and also Some to the Mandans & at 3 oClock they all Departed well pleased, haveing Seen many Curisossties, which we Showed them—. river rise one inch

Ordway: a pleasant thawy morning the work continued on. a nomber of the Shian or dog Indians came from the village to visit us. we Gave them victuels & used them friendly. our officers Gave them Some tobacco & a fiew Small articles of Goods &.C.

Gass: The day was pleasant, and the Snow melted fast. A party of the Chien Indians with some of the Mandans came to the fort: they appeared civil and good natured.

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Native American Tribes The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

Dec 3
1804
Clark: a fine morning the after part of the day Cold & windey the wind from the N W. The Father of the Mandan who was killed Came and made us a present of Some Dried Simnens [pumpkins] & a little pemicon, we made him Some Small preasents for which he was much pleased

Ordway: cold & windy. the work carried on as usal. commenced Setting up the pickets

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Native American Tribes Weather The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

Dec 6
1804
Clark: The wind blew violently hard from the N, N W. with Some Snow the air Keen and Cold. The Thermometer at 8 oClock A, M, Stood at 10 dgs. above 0— at 9 oClock a man & his Squar Came down with Some meat for the inturpeter his dress was a par mockersons of Buffalow Skin a Pr. Legins of Goat Skin & a Buffalow robe, 14 ring of Brass on his fingers, this metel the Mandans ar verry fond off— Cold after noon river rise 1½ Inch to day

Ordway: a cold Blustry morning. Some Squalls of Snow & wind high it being So disagreeable weather that we delayed on the work.

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Native American Tribes Weather Temperature The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

Dec 7
1804
Clark: a verry Cold day wind from the N W. the Big White Grand Chief of the 1s Village, Came and informed us that a large Drove of Buffalow was near and his people was wating for us to join them in a Chase Capt. Lewis took 15 men & went out joined the Indians, who were at the time he got up, Killing the Buffalows on Horseback with arrows which they done with great dexterity, his party killed 14 Buffalow, five of which we got to the fort by the assistance of a horse in addition to what the men Packed on their backs— one Cow was killed on the ice after drawing her out of a vacancey in the ice in which She had fallen, and Butchered her at the fort— those we did not get in was taken by the indians under a Custon which is established amongst them 'i 'e. any person Seeing a buffalow lying without an arrow Sticking in him, or Some purticular mark takes possesion, many times (as I am told) a hunter who Kills maney Buffalow in a chase only Gets a part of one, all meat which is left out all night falls to the Wolves which are in great numbers, always in the Buffalows—

the river Closed opposit the fort last night 1½ inches thick The Thermometer Stood this morning at 1 d. below 0— three men frost bit badly to day

Ordway: a clear cold frosty morning. 2 or 3 hunters went out early a hunting. about 9 o.C. the head chief of the 1st vill. of the Mandans called the Big White came to our Garrison in Great haste on horse back & Informed us that the Buffalow were comming towards the River in large Gangs and that the praries a little back was covered with Game. Capt. Lewis Immediately Started with 12 men in order to hunt with the natives. they had not been Gone long before we Saw Some buffalow in cite abo. the Garrison near the bank of the River two of our men & Several of the natives were Shooting at them. they Shot three & run one off a Steep bank in to the River which we got out with a chord, and halled it down on the Ice to our landing as the River Shut up last night the Ice had not Got Strong enofe to bear the Buffalow out in the middle of the R. but we dragged Sd. bufo. down near Shore & dressed it. it was a cow with calf our Interpreters Squaws cut the calf. the 2 men who went out this morning came in & Informed us that they had killed Six buffaloe out in the prarie besides those 4 they had killed in part with the natives. the horses were got up & Several men Sent with them out for the meat, but they found that the Savvage had carried off 3 of them. the 4 horses came in loaded with meat also the most of the men they Said that the Savvages had killed upwards of 20 buffalow & our men killed abt. 12 one of them very fat Som of them cows & Some calfs or yearlins. they Saw also large flocks of Goats in the praries & could See the prarie black with buffaloe at a distance aiming to come into the bottoms on the River.

the prarie being covered with Snow and extreamly cold 2 of our men Got their feet frost Bitten & one Got his Ear frost bitten this day by being exposed in the praries. a half Gill of Taffee gave to the men by our officers this evening.

Gass: The Indians shoot the buffalo with bows and arrows, and have their horses so trained that they will advance very near and suddenly wheel and fly off in case the wounded buffaloe attempt an attack.

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Native American Tribes Weather Temperature Health Buffalo Pronghorn The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

Dec 8
1804
Clark: a verry Cold morning, the Thermometer Stood at 12 d. below 0 which is 42 d below the freesing point, wind from the N W I with 15 men turned out and killed 8 buffalow & one Deer, one Cow and Calf was brought in, two Cows which I killed at 7 miles Dst. I left 2 men to Skin & Keep off the wolves, and brought in one Cow & a calf, in the evening on my return to the fort Saw great numbers of Buffalow Comeing into the Bottoms on both Sides of the river This day being Cold Several men returned a little frost bit; one of men with his feet badly frost bit my Servents feet also frosted, I feel a little fatigued haveing run after the Buffalow all day in Snow many Places 10 inches Deep, Generally 6 or 8, two men hurt their hips verry much in Slipping down— The Indians kill great numbers of Buffalow to day— 2 reflectings Suns* to day

[*The sun dog, or parhelion, is produced by the sun's rays reflecting off ice crystals in the very high atmosphere. It is commonly associated with advancing frontal systems and was thus used by natives and modern inhabitants as a harbinger of an approaching storm]

Ordway: the weather is 12 degrees colder this morning than I ever new it to be in the States. clear the wind N. W.

about 9 oC Capt. Clark and 14 of the party set off a hunting The prarie we Shortly came in cite of a large gang of Buffalow. we Saw a nomber of the Savvages on horse back running after them. we proceeded on Capt. Clark & myself Saw 2 or 3 Buffalow by themselves we got near them & fires at them wounded one. the men all Scattered So that we missed oppertuntities of Surrounding the gangs of Buffalow. But we saw the praries Black at a distance down the River & in a Bottom which is abt. 5 miles from our fort we then went in to the Bottom and killed 2 cow Buffalow out of a large gang & wounded Several more. one of our men came to us who had killed a calf Buff. we left 2 men to take care of the meat. we then Set off to return to our fort walked a short distance to where calf was and carried it with us. walked fast. Saw a Deer 2 men met us with horses. we got to the fort a little after dark the hunters all come in had killed in all 6 Buffalow & one Deer. the men who went with Capt. Clark

the air thick with Ice all this day, like a fog.—

Gass: In our hunt of yesterday, two men had their feet frostbitten. Captain Clarke and another party went out though the cold was extreme, to hunt the buffaloe; and killed nine and a deer. One man got his hand frozen; another his foot and some more got a little touched. Two men encamped out to take care of the meat.

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Native American Tribes Weather Temperature Health Buffalo Deer The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

Dec 9
1804
Clark: The Thermometer Stood this morning at 7° above 0, wind from the E. Capt Lewis took 18 men & 4 horses and went out Send in the meet killed yesterday and kill more, the Sun Shown to day Clear, both interpeters went to the Villages to day at 12 oClock two Chiefs Came loaded with meat one with a dog & Slay also loaded with meat, Capt Lewis Sent in 4 Hors's loaded with meat, he continued at the hunting Camp near which they killed 9 buffalow.

Ordway: the morning pleasant but not So cold as it was yesterday. about 10 o.C. Capt Lewis & 12 men went out a hunting and concluded to leave a fiew men down in a Bottom abt. 5 mls. below in order to hunt & take care of the meat. a nomber of the Savvages came to our Garrison. Some of them brought Some fat meat and Gave to our officers. Some of the hunting party returned in the evening with our horses loaded with fine meat Capt Lewis camped with Several hunters in a Bottom 5 or 6 ml. from the Fort and took care of the meat which they had killed in the course of the day which was about Six buffalow in all.

Gass: Captain Lewis and twelve more of us, went down to the bottom where the two men were taking care of the meat. We found some buffaloe had come into the woods, and we killed ten of them and a deer. Having dressed them we loaded four horses with meat and sent them with some of the party to the fort: Captain Lewis and the rest of us encamped out, and had tolerable lodging with the assistance of the hides of the buffaloe we had killed.

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Native American Tribes Temperature Buffalo Deer The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

Dec 10
1804
Clark: a verry Cold Day The Thermometer to day at 10 & 11 Degrees below 0., Capt Lewis returned, to day at 12 oClock leaveing 6 men at the Camp to prepare the meat for to pack 4 Horse loads Came in, Capt Lewis had a Cold Disagreeable night last in the Snow on a Cold point with one Small Blankett the Buffaloe Crossed the river below in emence herds without brakeing in. only 2 buffalow killed to day one of which was too pore to Skin, The men which was frost bit is gitting better. the rise 1½ inch wind North

Ordway: Cloudy cold morning. Capt Lewis & Several of the hunters returned to the fort. the horses were Sent eairly this morning down to their last nights camp for meat. they returned with large loads of meat. the weather Gits colder verry fast So that the Sentinel had to be relieved every hour. one of the Mandan Indians who had been wounded by the Souix came to our officers to be cured. G. Drewyer [George Drouillard] killed two Buffalow and a deer & brought in the Deer this eving. the weather is colder this evening than it was this morning. Blanket cappoes* provided for each man who Stood in need of them &.C.

Gass: After breakfasting on marrow bones, Captain Lewis and four of us set out for the fort. Four hunters and another man to keep camp remained out. On our return we met one of our men, who said that a party had gone down with the horses for more meat. This day was very cold: an experiment was made with proof spirits, which in fifteen minutes froze into hard ice. In the evening two of our hunters came in with the horses, but had killed nothing. Five encamped out.

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Native American Tribes Temperature Buffalo Deer The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

Dec 13
1804
Clark: The last night was verry Clear & the frost which fell Covered the ice old Snow & thos parts which was naked of an inch, The Thermotr. Stands this morning at 20° below 0, a fine day. find it imposible to make an Observation with an artifical Horsison Joseph Fields kill a Cow and Calf to day one mile from the fort river falls

Ordway: clear frosty morning but not So cold as it was yesterday. we had 2 Sleds ready provided for the purpose of halling in the meat. 2 men went out a Short time and killed 2 buffaloe one of them came in and 5 men were Sent out with him took a Sled with them and brought in the 2 buffaloe. they Saw a nomber of the Savvages returning from the prarie with their horses loaded with meat one of killed a Goat & brought it in to the fort & Gave it to our officers. 2 of my mess went up to the 1st village of the Mandans to day and bought Some corn and beans with a little paint and a fiew rings &.C. one of the men belonging to the N. W. Compy. came down from the Grovantares upper village to See us.

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Native American Tribes Temperature Buffalo Pronghorn The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

Dec 14
1804
Clark: a fine morning. wind from the S. E. the murckerey Stood at '0' this morning I went with a party of men down the river 18 miles to hunt Buffalow, Saw two Bulls too pore to kill, the Cows and large gangues haveing left the River, we only killed two Deer & Camped all night with Some expectation of Seeing the Buffalow in the morning, a verry Cold night, Snowed

Ordway: Cloudy & moderate this morning. Capt Clark Set out with 14 men to Go down the River a hunting. directly after it Set in to Snowing verry fast. a nomber of the Mandans came to See us. 14 of them eat in my Room at one time. the Big White dined with Capt Lewis. towards evening Several of the hunters came in & informed us that the Buffalow had left the river. they Saw but 2 they had killed 2 Deer. Capt Clark & 8 men camped in a Bottom of wood 8 or 10 ml. down the river from our Fort.

Gass: This day was more moderate, and light snow showers fell. Captain Clarke and fourteen men went out to hunt; and took the three sleds with them. In the evening five of them returned. Captain Clarke and the other 9 encamped out, and killed two deer. The snow fell about three inches deep.

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Native American Tribes Temperature Snow Buffalo Deer The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

Dec 15
1804
Clark: a Cold Clear morning, Saw no buffalow, I concluded to return to the Fort & hunt on each Side of the river on our return which we did without Success— the Snow fell 1½ inches deep last night. wind North— on my return to the fort found Several Chiefs there

Ordway: Cloudy cold and Snowey. I & 2 more of the party went up to the 1st & 2 villages of the Mandans. traded for a little corn &.C. they had all their corn in holes made in the Ground close in front of their lodges. although the day was cold & Stormy we Saw Several of the chiefs and warries were out at play. they had flattish rings made out of clay Stone & two men had Sticks abt. 4 feet long with 2 Short peaces across the fore end of it, and neathing on the other end, in Such a manner that they would Slide Some distance they had a place fixed across their green from the head chiefs house across abt. 50 yds. to the 2 chiefs lodge, which was Smothe as a house flour they had a Battery fixed for the rings to Stop against. two men would run at a time with Each a Stick & one carried a ring. they run abt. half way and then Slide their Sticks after the ring. they had marks made for the Game but I do not understand how they count the game. they gave us different kinds of victules & made us eat in everry lodge that we went in. they were verry friendly we returned to the fort. Capt. Clark had returned with the hunters. had not killed any Buffaloe for they are all back in the praries.

Gass: A cloudy day. Some of the natives paid us a visit, and brought presents of meat to the commanding officers. About one o'clock Captain Clarke and his party returned, but had killed nothing more. The buffaloe were gone from the river. Some slight showers of snow fell during the day.

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Native American Tribes Temperature Snow Buffalo The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

Dec 16
1804
Clark: a clear Cold morning, the Thermtr. at Sun rise Stood at 22° below 0, a verry Singaler appearance of the Moon last night, as She appeared thro: The frosty atmispear—

Mr. Henny, from the Establishment on River Ossinnniboin, with a letter from, Mr Charles Chaboillez arrived in 6 Days, Mr. C in his letters expressed a great anxiety to Serve us in any thing in his power—

Mr. Le rock [Larocque] a Clerk, of the N W Company and Mr. George Bunch a Clerk of the Hudsons bay Compy accompanied Mr. Henny from the Village—

Ordway: Some of our men went up to the Mandan Village

4 men came here which belonged to the N W. Compy. of Traders, which are now at the Mandans & Grovantiaus. came for the purpose of tradeing for their Robes & furs, &.C. Some of our men got Some Tobacco from them. they remained with all night.

Gass: A clear cold day;

I went up with some of the men to the 1st and 2nd village of the Mandans, and we were treated with much kindness.

Three of the traders from the N. W. Company came to our fort, and brought a letter to our commanding officers. They remained with us all night. The object of the visits we received from the N. W. Company, was to ascertain our motives for visiting that country, and to gain information with respect to the change of government.

Hugh Heney and Franois-Antoine Larocque of the North West Company and George Bunch, or Budge, of the Hudson's Bay Company. Heney and Larocque delivered a letter from Charles Chaboillez of the North West Company on the Assiniboine River

The North West Company was first formed in the winter of 1783–4, by the merchants of Canada engaged in the fur trade, uniting their interests in a commercial association agreeing among themselves to carry on the fur trade, founded on a more solid basis. This and Hudson's Bay Company, would carry on almost the whole of the fur trade in the northwest portion of North America.

Hugh Heney, or Hené, was supposedly an employee of Régis Loisel on the Missouri. In 1804 he entered the service of the North West Company. At some point he traded with the Minniconjou Sioux near the mouth of Cheyenne River in South Dakota. The captains questioned him extensively about this tribe, and they later sought his aid in persuading Teton Sioux chiefs to go to Washington.

George Bunch could speak the Hidatsa language well, an indication that he had been to their villages before. This gave him an advantage in trading over Larocque, whose journal indicates that the two were more concerned with competing with each other than with spreading British influence among the Indians.

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Native American Tribes Temperature The Moon Business The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

Dec 17
1804
Clark: a verry Cold morning the Thrmt. Stood a 43° below 0.

We found Mr. Henny a verry intelligent man from whome we obtained Some Scetches of the Countrey between the Mississippi & Missouri, and Some Sketches from him, which he had obtained from the Indins. to the West of this place also the names and charecktors of the Sceoux &c

about 8 oClock P M. the thermometer fell to 74° below the freesing pointe—

the Indian Chiefs Sent word that Buffalow was in our neighbourhood, and if we would join them, in the morning they would go and kill them—

Ordway: Some of our men went up to the Mandan Village

a clear & cold morning. the Thurmometer Stood at about 35 fat. it has been Several degrees lower Some days past.

towards evening the chiefs Son came from 1st vill. of the Mandans & Informed us that the Buffalow were comming in towards the River, & that their was a large Gang near the Fort So that our men Scared them back by cutting fire wood for the night.—

Whitehouse: This day was clear and cold weather. Sergt. Gass fixed a horse Sled for one of the N. W. Compy. tradors to go to thier forts with. A number of the North west traders being in the two Villages of the Mandan Nation. They trafficed with the natives for Furr, Peltry & Buffalo hides to a very considerable amount, in the afternoon some Mandan Indians arrived at our Camp, and informed our officers, that the Buffaloes had returned near the River again—

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Native American Tribes Temperature Business Maps Buffalo The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

Dec 20
1804
Clark: The wind from the N W a moderate day, the Thermometr 37° [WC: 24°] above 0, which givs an oppertunity of putting up our pickets next the river, nothing remarkable took place to Day river fall a little

Ordway: Some cloudy & Warm this morning, but a pleasant day. we continued Setting up the pickets &.C.

Whitehouse: This day we had moderate weather, the Snow melting fast. the Men were all employed picketting the fort as usual.—

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Temperature The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

Dec 21
1804
Clark: The wind from the N W a moderate day, the Thermometr 37° [WC: 24°] above 0, which givs an oppertunity of putting up our pickets next the river, nothing remarkable took place to Day river fall a little

Ordway: Some cloudy & Warm this morning, but a pleasant day. we continued Setting up the pickets &.C.

Whitehouse: This day we had moderate weather, the Snow melting fast. the Men were all employed picketting the fort as usual.—

North Dakota Map: 10/26/04 Lewis & Clark Map: 10/14/04 Fort Mandan Native American Tribes Temperature The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

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This guide last edited 12/17/2005
This guide last revised 10/31/2007
This guide created 11/22/2004