The Lewis and Clark Expedition

Discovering the American West
   

Journeying and Wintering 

click on the images for a link to related text or larger illustrations

Hunting the Buffalobuffalo, I

"Hunting the Buffalo,"
from Thomas L. M’Kenney, 1785-1859, and James Hall,  1793-1868.History of the Indian Tribes of North America . . .with 120 portraits from the Indian Gallery in the Department of War. 3 vols., octavo. 
Philadelphia: Rice and Hart, 1855.  Blind-stamped morocco. Gift of Mrs. J. Henry Fair.

To a great extent, the expedition lived, not on supplies it brought with it, but on meat from hunting along the journey.  Deer, antelope and buffalo all provided such supplies.  Lewis was amazed by the size of buffalo herds ("above 3000"), and in a journal entry for May 1805 gives a detailed account of the methods by which Indians hunted them.  For another image of Buffalo on Upper Missouri, see the illustrations by Bodmer in Island I.


The American Badgerbadger

John James Audubon, 1785-1851, 
"Pl. XLVII: American Badger," in Audubon and John Bachman, The quadrupeds of North America.  
3 vols., octavo.  
New York: V. G. Audubon, 1851-54.  Full morocco gilt.  John Shaw Billings Collection.

The scientific purpose of the expedition led Lewis and Clarke to record each new animal or bird they encountered.  On July 20, 1803, Clark recorded that: "Joseph Fields Killed and brought in an Anamale Called by the French Brarow and by the Panies Cho car tooch . . . He is of the Bear species," while one of his subordinates asserted that this species of badger "never was seen by any of the company before." 


beaver

The American Beaver

John James Audubon, 1785-1851, 
"Pl. XLVI: The American Beaver," in Audubon and John Bachman, The quadrupeds of North America.  3 vols., octavo.  
New York: V. G. Audubon, 1851-54.  Contemporary half morocco

The expedition first encountered beavers early the following spring, when they left camp to resume their journey and fell in with three French fur-hunters: "the beaver these people have already taken is by far the best I have ever seen" (April 10, 1805).  By 1806, the explorers were themselves hunting for beavers, for medicinal purposes.    


The First Winter: at the Mandan Villagefirst winter

Catlin, George, 1796-1872.
Plates 47, 48: the Mandan Village, in his Letters and notes on the manners, customs, and condition of the North American Indians. Written during eight years' travel amongst the wildest tribes . . . . With four hundred illustrations from the author's original paintings.  3rd ed. 2 vols.  London: for the Author by Tilt and Bogue, 1842.  Original half calf.  John Shaw Billings Collection.

By late October 1804, the expedition had reached what is now North Dakota, and built a log fort in which to spend the winter, near two villages of the Mandan people (‘Fort Mandan’).  They remained there till April 7, the next year, when they sent the larger keel-boat, now too deep for the rivers, back downstream with a small detachment to take dispatches to Jefferson.  The remainder of the expedition pressed on upstream in the smaller pirogues and canoes. 


Winter on the Upper Missourift clark

Karl Bodmer, "Fort Clark on the Missouri (February 1834)," Plate 15, from Maximilian, Prince of Wied,Travels in the interior of North America. . . .London: Ackermann, 1843.

Fort Clark, named for the co-leader of the Corps of Discovery,  was very near the Mandan village where Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1804-1805 building their own Fort Mandan.  


The Visit of a Pawnee Chiefpawnee chief

"Pes-Ke-Le-Cha-Co, A Pawnee Chief" from Thomas L. M’Kenney, 1785-1859, and James Hall, 1793-1868.
History of the Indian Tribes of North America . . .with 120 portraits from the Indian Gallery in the Department of War. 
3 vols., octavo. 
Philadelphia: Rice and Hart, 1855.  Blind-stamped morocco.Gift of Mrs. J. Henry Fair.

While the Corps members were still building their winter quarters at Fort Mandan, they were visited by several Indians, including "a Chief Half Pania [Pawnee]" who "came & brought a side of Buffalow . . . he crossed the river in the Buffalow Skin Canoo" (November 10, 1804).  


Indian Life: A Mandan Cabinmandan chief hut

Karl Bodmer, "The Interior of the Hut of a Mandan Chief," Plate 19, from Maximilian, Prince of Wied,Travels in the interior of North America. . . . 
London: Ackermann, 1843.

The five months that Lewis and Clark spent at Fort Mandan also gave them their first, and most extended, exposure to native American life and culture. 


mandan indiansIndian Life:  Mandan Indians

Karl Bodmer, "Mandan Indians," Plate 20, from Maximilian, Prince of Wied, Travels in the interior of North America. . . . London: Ackermann, 1843.

 


Indian Life:  Dog-Sledges of the Mandan Indiansdog-sledges

Karl Bodmer, "Dog-Sledges of the Mandan Indians," Vig. XXIX, from Maximilian, Prince of Wied, Travels in the interior of North America. . . . 
London: Ackermann, 1843.


The Importance of the Buffalo in Indian Life

bison danceKarl Bodmer, "Bison-Dance of the Mandan Indians," Plate 18, from Maximilian, Prince of Wied, Travels in the interior of North America. . . . 
London: Ackermann, 1843.

The successful hunting of bison or buffalo provided the main food supply for the Mandans, as for Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery.


Dance of the Mandan Womendance of mandan women

Karl Bodmer, "Dance of the Mandan Women," Vig. XXVIII, from Maximilian, Prince of Wied, Travels in the interior of North America. . . . 
London: Ackermann, 1843.


Danger and the Grizzly Bear

grizzlyJohn James Audubon, 1785-1851, 
"Pl. CXXXI: Grizzly Bear," in Audubon and John Bachman, The quadrupeds of North America.
3 vols., octavo.  
New York: V. G. Audubon, 1851-54.  Contemporary half morocco

As they set out on their second summer, tackling the upper reaches of the Missouri basin, Lewis and his fellows were amazed at the weight and resilience of the grizzly bear, as compared with the black bear; "it is a much more furious and formidable animal, and will frequently pursue the hunter when wounded" (Lewis, April 29, 1805). 


Hunting of the Grizzly Bearhunting of grizzly

Karl Bodmer, "Hunting of the Grizzly Bear," Plate 36, from Maximilian, Prince of Wied, Travels in the interior of North America. . . . 
London: Ackermann, 1843.

Later, Lewis himself, having just fired his gun at a buffalo, found himself being chased by a grizzly while he was still 300 yards from the nearest tree: "I ran about 80 yards and found he gained on me . . . the idea struk me to get into the water . . . he suddenly wheeled about as if frightened, declined to combat . . . and retreated" (June 14, 1805). 


Landscape of the Upper Missouriremarkable hills

Karl Bodmer, "Remarkable Hills on the Upper Missouri,"  Plate 34, from Maximilian, Prince of Wied, Travels in the interior of North America. . .
London: Ackermann, 1843.

The strange formations shown here from Bodmer's illustrations had previously been described by Lewis, in his journal entry for May 31, 1805: "The hills and river Clifts which we passed today exhibit a most romantic appearance . . . which with the help of a little imagination and an oblique view, at a distance are made to represent eligant ranges of lofty freestone buildings. . . As we passed it seemed as if those seens of visionary inchantments would never have an end."  


progress reportJefferson and Lewis Make an Interim Report

Travels in the interior parts of America; communicating discoveries made in exploring the Missouri, Red River and Washita, by Captains Lewis and Clark, . . . As laid before the Senate, by the President of the United States in February, 1806, and never before published in Great Britain.
London: Phillips, 1807.  Green half-calf.  Bookplate of Alfred Chapin Rogers.

Before leaving Fort Mandan in April 1805, Lewis sent Jefferson a confident report on his progress so far ("We do not calculate on completing our voyage within the present year . . . You may therefore expect me to meet you at Montachello in September 1806").  Jefferson added a cover-letter (dated February 19, 1806) and had it printed (with additional material from others) as a Presidential message to Congress.


Jefferson’s 1806 Message to Congressjefferson's 1806 message

The travels of Capts. Lewis and Clarke from St. Louis, by way of the Missouri and Columbia rivers, to the Pacific ocean; performed in the years 1804, 1805 & 1806, by order of the government of the United States. . . . from the official communication of Meriwether Lewis.
London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1809.  Modern half morocco,, by Sangorski and Sutcliffe. Bookplate of Alfred Chapin Rogers.

As this 1809 reprinting shows, the interim report and Jefferson's 1806 message continued to be reprinted even after the expedition returned, while book-buyers waited for publication of Lewis’s official narrative.   
 

 
Columbia Departments Campus Libraries
Columbia Libraries and Collections