Story of Lewis and Clark

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After a week of leaving my family behind, I have often thought about returning. I would have never thought that I would convince myself to leave them and the state of Pennsylvania to volunteer for this cause… But I care about this country too much to not pass up this opportunity to contribute. I would now be stationed at Camp Dubois for the remainder of the winter. The trip to St. Louis was only the start, as we would then be led by a captain of the journey, William Clark, to learn how to survive and work together. The group was very diverse with someone being an expert in each category of survival. Our force, awarded the epithet of ‘The Corps of Discovery’, was a group of grizzled hunters and gatherers, such as myself, military leaders, traders, trappers, scouts and carpenters. Most of the members got along as this was a crucial aspect of an efficient team. Clark recently has mentioned that the importance of walking in formation, respecting authority and commands. He is very adamant about us following orders in order to perform as a team. After all, you never know what we might encounter on our journey, and the outcome counts on our discipline.

As the days add up, and the date comes closer and closer, I grow more anxious. I cannot tell if I am more scared or excited for the spring. There is no telling how long it could take or what danger we may end up in, although I will enjoy every second of it knowing that I am doing something for the greater good of the country. The company will be the first in our nation’s history to explore and map out these lands. There is no greater feat than being a part of something this big and for that, I am thrilled to start the adventure.     

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The long and cold winter had elapsed and we had started our voyage on the Missouri River. May 14 was the day we had set out. More recruits had joined the corps as well as a new captain. Meriwether Lewis was a stout man that exuded motivation. He was very inspired and ready to take on this trip when we met up with him in St. Charles, Missouri at a smaller camp. From here, he instituted the use of a keelboat and two pirogues. These boats would be our lifeline as we traveled the Missouri. Our equipment would be much easier to carry, and we would be saving ourselves from tiring too early. The now 45-member strong group would then be split into thirds. Each sergeant would take a boat and be responsible for their battalion. Led by John Ordway, I would be under his control. Our third had the honor of sailing on Lewis’s 55-foot keelboat, with Lewis and Clark themselves. The flotilla traveled northwest on the Missouri at a consistent pace. It was wide and vast stream of water, at some points it could be close to a mile wide. A very curvy and long river, with some narrow rocky sections. The views of open plains and larger elevation in the background could be seen for miles. It was a truly beautiful and tremendous area come spring. Each mile, both Lewis and Clark compiled pictures of maps, took notes on the lay of the land, stopped to check out the wildlife and often sampled the earth. Every note was written in their individual books. The operation took time as it would months to get to the next large camp where we would reside for the winter. At each moment, history was changing, we were pioneers, and there is nothing I could be more fortunate to witness. – Ben Casey

A productive excursion had halted for the winter at an Indian village where we would construct Fort Mandan. Winter had come early and had hit hard with large amounts of snow. The corps had also been down a man. Almost a month after my last writing and almost halfway to the next station, one of our most motivated men, Sgt. Floyd had passed away. We have concluded that he couldn’t fight a sickness and it had gotten the best of him. A day of mourning had arranged a burial and we laid him to rest. His burial remains on a very large hill overlooking the river. He would now look over us and further inspire us to discover more land. With the crew saddened and collective morale shortened, Clark had spoken to get us back to speed. The next day we took sail once again and would make more ground and chart the land.

It wasn’t until October when we would stop and make connections with the Mandan Indians. They were a very friendly people that lived on the Missouri in mounds as houses, and hunting and agriculture as their main way of supporting their population. They had deep trade network with the Hidatsa, who lived close by on the Knife River. From this point, Lewis and Clark had done some negotiating with the natives, and appointed a young woman and her husband to help our crew travel further west. Her name was Sacagawea; even though she was a younger woman, she had a very mature demeanor. Extremely intelligent Shoshone woman that was a talented tracker. Her husband was also a very clever man that traveled west after being born in Canada. Together they would look over a child as our adventure continues. They would now work aside the crew in hopes to advance the adventure to the Pacific. This would be our next goal come spring time. April would be the time we will set out as the snow is already being depleted. This would be our last stretch until we hope to meet the ocean. The collection of information that Lewis and Clark had gathered would be sent back along with men that are still causing disciplinary problems. The keelboat would take numerous maps and other objects to be stored. We would now take the two pirogues and several canoes. As the time passes, my excitement increases. I remain on the boat with Lewis and Clark, where I could continue to observe their work. Preparations began and I couldn’t be more thrilled for spring.  – Ben Casey

The day has come. We have arrived. Through vast open lands to mountainous areas of beautiful skies, the battered team had continued on the Missouri until we couldn’t manage to sail any longer. We had chosen the correct fork in the river and found a series of waterfalls. Five consecutive falls had led us further west to where we could paddle in our canoes once again. We then reached an area where we could see tall figures in the background. As we closer, we could make out mountains. They were vast and magnificent. Clark had point out that there may be no way we could get through them by water. The only way to cross was by horseback. Many of the men including myself have been experienced in riding a horse. This was the land of Sacagawea’s people, and she decided to continue with the group. As we pushed on, it only got harder. First of the few hardships had begun. Winter had been setting in which added to our struggle. Starvation and exhaustion had taken its toll on the crew, although we were just in time. Another tribe had camp near difficult trails, and they were very kind.

They nursed us back to health, and pointed us to the direction of the ocean. Leaving the horses behind with the Nez Perce Indians, we were back on the water with some newer canoes. Pushing west, we encountered more dangerous waterfalls as well as more Indians in which we traded some goods. Midday yesterday, we had our first glance at the ocean. Blue water was the only thing you could see. It was a majestic sight, all of us took hours at a time gazing over out over the waves. In the distance, we could see dark clouds developing that got closer this morning. We are currently deciding where to set up camp to get past the winter. Lewis and Clark continue to chart the land and decide our best option to construct our camp for this winter. After only one day, the wind hasn’t been easy to deal with. It is a very rainy and wet area considering its higher elevation. Hunting was a big priority as we go on the search today to see what animals are native to these lands and which are most beneficial to hunt.

The trip was worth the result. We had overcome what nobody said would be possible. Half of the trip had been done, and we had only one casualty. We were the first ones of the nation to travel to the other side of the country. We had completed President Jefferson’s goal and we were all very eager to get back to where we started and let the rest of the country to know. Over this next winter. Lewis and Clark would now collect even more objects and map as much land as possible to return with. With only the knowledge of Sacagawea and her husband, we can count on a harsh winter so our next efforts will be contributing to our survival. It will be a long winter but our team was a well-oiled machine and it couldn’t stop us.

After about two and a half years, we had returned to St. Louis. The departure from Fort Clatsop in March 23, 1806, was a day to remember. Our crew had made it across the country and now began our return. We had gone through another hardship around where we met with the Nez Perce to get our horses. Unfortunately, the snow was still very thick around the mountains, so we had to stay with the tribe until it melted. The party, very anxious to get back, wasn’t happy that we had to wait, but it was our safest option. June hit and we could finally press on. Again, the rocky trail through the mountains took its toll. Pushing on, we got back to the Missouri River where Lewis and Clark decided to split the group. In order to collect more info of the land and make sure there wasn’t an easier route to get to the Pacific Ocean, Lewis went north of the Missouri and Clark would take his group more south along the Yellowstone River. We would then meet where the rivers connected. Lewis would be taking the more experienced hunters, including myself, to ensure safety, and Clark would take a bigger group with fewer hunters. When we were close to the fork of the Missouri and Marias Rivers, we encountered a group of Indians. The Blackfeet Indians were up to no good as they tried to take some of the crew’s horses. Another crew member and I had to shoot and kill two Indians in order for them to leave us alone. It was a near miss and could have resulted in an even worse outcome. From this scare, we pressed on and met with Clark where the rest of the journey would be much easier. Sacagawea and her companions would remain in the Mandan village. We then sailed down the Missouri back to St. Louis where we would return in a much quicker time. Yesterday, September 23, 1806, we had made it.

It was a long time coming. No one that I talked to in St. Louis could believe it, and honestly, it was hard for me to believe what we had just done. It took boats, horses, guns, many supplies, and a dedicated crew to overcome the impossible. Many maps as well as artifacts and knowledge of wildlife had been collected. Only a day has elapsed since we returned, and I can hardly wait to see my family. This incredible journey I just partook in will never be forgotten and I will always think of it, and from the reaction of St. Louis, no one will forget it.

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Story Of Lewis and Clark. (2020, Jan 31). Retrieved from