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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For July 11:
Captain Lewis (current)
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It is now the season at which the buffalo begin to copulate, and the bulls keep a tremendous roaring. We could hear them for many miles, and there are such numbers of them that there is one continual roar. Our horses had not been acquainted with the buffalo. They appeared much alarmed at their appearance and bellowing. When I arrived in sight of the White Bear islands, the Missouri bottoms on both sides of the river were crowded with buffalo. I sincerely believe that there were not less than 10 thousand buffalo within a circle of 2 miles around that place. I met with the hunters at a little grove of timber opposite to the island where they had killed a cow and were awaiting our arrival. They had met with no elk.
I directed the hunters to kill some buffalo as well for the benefit of their skins to enable us to pass the river as for their meat for the men I meant to leave at this place. We unloaded our horses and encamped opposite to the islands; had the cow skinned and some willow sticks collected to make canoes of the hides. By 12 o'clock they killed eleven buffalo, most of them in fine order. The bulls are now generally much fatter than the cows and are fine beef. I sent out all hands with the horses to assist in butchering and bringing in the meat. By 3 in the evening we had brought in a large quantity of fine beef and as many hides as we wanted for canoes, shelters, and gear. I then set all hands to prepare two canoes. The one we made after the Mandan fashion, with a single skin in the form of a basin, and the other we constructed of two skins, on a plan of our own.
Reprinted by permission of the American Studies Programs at the University of Virginia.
The complete text can also be downloaded for printing from their website.