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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For August 26:
Captain Lewis (current)
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We collected our horses and set out at sunrise. We soon arrived at the extreme source of the Missouri. Here I halted a few minutes. The men drank of the water and consoled themselves with the idea of having at length arrived at this long-wished-for point. From hence we proceeded to a fine spring on the side of the mountain, where I had lain the evening before I first arrived at the Shoshone camp. Here I halted to dine, and graze our horses, there being fine green grass on that part of the hillside which was moistened by the water of the spring, while the grass on the other parts was perfectly dry and parched with the sun. I directed a pint of corn to be given each Indian who was engaged in transporting our baggage, and about the same quantity to each of the men, which they parched, pounded, and made into soup. One of the women who had been assisting in the transportation of the baggage halted at a little run about a mile behind us, and sent on the two pack horses which she had been conducting by one of her female friends. I inquired of Cameahwait the cause of her detention and was informed by him, in an unconcerned manner, that she had halted to bring forth a child and would soon overtake us. In about an hour the woman arrived with her newborn babe and passed us on her way to the camp, apparently as well as she ever was.
Cameahwait requested that we would discharge our guns when we arrived in sight of the village. Accordingly, when I arrived on an eminence above the village in the plain, I drew up the party at open order in a single rank, and gave them a running fire, discharging two rounds. They appeared much gratified with this exhibition. We then proceeded to the village or encampment of brush lodges, 32 in number. I found Colter here, who had just arrived with a letter from Captain Clark, in which Captain Clark had given me an account of his peregrination and the description of the river and country as before detailed. From this view of the subject I found it a folly to think of attempting to descend this river in canoes, and therefore determined to commence the purchase of horses in the morning from the Indians in order to carry into execution the design we had formed of passing the Rocky Mountains.
I now informed Cameahwait of my intended expedition overland to the great river which lay in the plains beyond the mountains, and told him that I wished to purchase 20 horses of himself and his people to convey our baggage. He observed that the Minnetarees had stolen a great number of their horses this spring but hoped his people would spare me the number I wished. I also asked another guide; he observed that he had no doubt but the old man who was with Captain Clark would accompany us if we wished him and that he was better informed of the country than any of them. Matters being thus far arranged, I directed the fiddle to be played and the party danced very merrily, much to the amusement and gratification of the natives, though I must confess that the state of my own mind at this moment did not well accord with the prevailing mirth.
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.