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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For July 4:
Captain Lewis (current)
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Yesterday we permitted Sergeant Gass, McNeal, and several others who had not yet seen the Falls to visit them. No appearance of tar yet, and I am now confident that we shall not be able to obtain any - a serious misfortune. I employed a number of hands on the boat today, and by 4 P.M. in the evening completed her except the most difficult part of the work - that of making her seams secure. I had her turned up and some small fires kindled underneath to dry her.
Captain Clark completed a draft of the river from Fort Mandan to this place which we intend depositing at this place in order to guard against accidents. Not having seen the Snake Indians or knowing in fact whether to calculate on their friendship or hostility, we have conceived our party sufficiently small, and therefore have concluded not to dispatch a canoe with a part of our men to St. Louis as we had intended early in the spring.
We fear also that such a measure might possibly discourage those who would in such case remain, and might possibly hazard the fate of the expedition. We have never once hinted to any one of the party that we had such a scheme in contemplation, and all appear perfectly to have made up their minds to succeed in the expedition or perish in the attempt. We all believe that we are now about to enter on the most perilous and difficult part of our voyage, yet I see no one repining. All appear ready to meet those difficulties which await us with resolution and becoming fortitude.
The mountains to the N.W. and W. of us are still entirely covered, are white, and glitter with the reflection of the sun. I do not believe that the clouds which prevail at this season of the year reach the summits of those lofty mountains, and if they do, the probability is that they deposit snow only, for there has been no perceptible diminution of the snow which they contain since we first saw them. I have thought it probable that these mountains might have derived their appellation of "Shining Mountains" from their glittering appearance when the sun shines in certain directions on the snow which covers them.
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.