Corps of Discovery

By: Natalie Collman

Firearms

Lewis and Clark depended on the firearms they carried. They used rifles to kill animals for food, to defend themselves if they had to, and to impress the indians. Some of the firearms they used were: A one pounder bronze cannon, Four blunderbusses, fifteen rifles, musket, trade guns, Pistols, and an air rifle. Lewis’s ideas to travel by river was difficult because now he had to keep the gun powder dry.

Tribes

Along the way Lewis and Clark knew that they lots of Indian nations. Two Nez Perce chiefs, Twisted hair and Tetoharsky, Offered to accompany the corps downriver. They also agreed to look after the horses for the winter. Sacagawea was the only women on the expedition

Sacagawea's Son

Lewis delivered Sacagawea’s son on February 11, 1805. Sacagawea named her son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau but later adopted the nickname Pompey. The baby traveled will Sacagawea in a cradleboard on his mother's back.

Animals

Lewis and Clark identified 122 animals on the expedition. 57 of the animals were discovered in the east of the Continental Divide and 65 were discovered in the west. Some of the animals Lewis and Clark discovered are the badger, bobcat, ermine, gopher, groundhog, moose, mountain goat, mountain lion, panther, porcupine, raccoon, rat, squirrel.

Climate

For 28 months the corps members had to deal with bitter cold, extreme heat, high winds, rain, snow, and hail. Lewis made tables that logged the weather every day, each month of the expedition. They arrived at the villages of the Mandan Indians in late October 1804, and by November 12 ice had begun to form on the Missouri River. By December 8 the thermometer was reading below zero and there was several cases of frostbite.

Trade

Lewis and Clark had to persuade the Indians to stop trading with the British and start trading with with the United States. The expedition brought along 26 bags of gifts, but the Indians thought that the expedition goods were poor quality or they didn’t want that. “Many were more interested in the speed with which they could obtain trade goods, no matter what the nationality of the provider. Others found such items as needles, scissors, and mirrors useless; what they wanted most were guns.” The corps traded anything that the Indians seemed interested in.

Corps Members

Members of the Corps of Discovery were chosen for their toughness and endurance and for any other qualification. The Corps Members were frontiersmen with strong wilderness survival skills. There were nine people recruited from Kentucky were Charles Floyd and Nathaniel Pryor and privates William Bratton, John Colter, Joseph Field, Reuben Field, George Gibson, George Shannon, and John Shields.

Missouri River

“The expedition began its voyage up the Missouri River on May 14, 1804. It did not reach Three Forks until July 27, 1805. With the river's strong currents, floods, snags, sandbars, rapids, and falls, the journey upstream was far harder and more difficult than expected. There were often difficult decisions to be made when the river forked, as was the case at the Marias River, which the men of the corps believed to be the true Missouri. The captains, however, were correct in their decision to take the fork that ultimately led to the Great Falls.”

Citations

Allen, John Logan. “Lewis and Clark on the Upper Missouri: Decision at the Marias.”Montana: The Magazine of Western History 21, no. 3 (1971): 2–17

Ambrose, Stephen E. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.Ronda, James P. Lewis and Clark among the Indians. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

Ambrose, Stephen E. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.

Ambrose, Stephen E. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.Ronda, James P. Lewis and Clark among the Indians. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

Clarke, Charles G. The Men of the Lewis and Clark Expedition: A Biographical Roster of the Fifty-One Members and a Composite Diary of Their Activities from All Known Sources. 1970. Reprint, Lincoln: Bison Books, University of Nebraska Press, 2002.Yater, George H. “Nine Young Men from Kentucky.” We Proceeded On. Lewis andClark Trail Heritage Foundation Publication No. 11, May 1992, p. 3.

Duncan, Dayton, and Ken Burns. Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998.Hawke, David Freeman. Those Tremendous Mountains: The Story of the Lewis andClark Expedition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998.


Large, Arlen. “‘It Thundered and Lightened’: The Weather Observations of Lewis andClark.” We Proceeded On 12, no. 2 (May 1986).


Moulton, Gary E., ed. The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. 13 vols. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983–2001.

Russell, Carl P. Firearms, Traps & Tools of the Mountain Men. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1977.

Wilkinson, Todd, and Paul Rauber. “Lewis & Clark’s America: The Corps of Discovery left us a blueprint for a wild West.” Sierra (May/June 2002): 42–46.