The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, March 23-June 9, 1806 - Vol. 7

The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, March 23-June 9, 1806 - Vol. 7

The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, March 23-June 9, 1806 - Vol. 7

The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, March 23-June 9, 1806 - Vol. 7

Synopsis

The seventh volume of this new, definitive edition of Lewis and Clark's journals begins as the expedition turns homeward. On March 23, 1806, the Corps of Discovery left Fort Clatsop, their winter quarters on the Pacific Coast, for the long return journey to the United States. Although they were largely retracing their outbound route, their journals were still filled with descriptions of the country and its people, and new discoveries were yet to be made. They departed from the Columbia River at one point to take an overland shortcut between the Walla Walla and Snake rivers and reached the latter a little below the mouth of the Clearwater. Detained by winter snows at the edge of the Rockies, the Corps camped among the friendly Nez Perce Indians. Here, in modern west-central Idaho, the captains attended to sick Indians and continued their scientific studies while others in the party passed the time hunting and socializing. By June 9 the captains decided to resume their move eastward. According to the Nez Perces, the snow would not be gone from the mountains along the Lolo Trail until early July, but the party, looking homeward, left the Clearwater valley for the flats above the river.

Incorporating substantial new scholarship concerning all aspects of the expedition from Indian languages to plants and animals to details of geography and history, this edition greatly expands and updates the annotation of the last one, published in 1904-5.

Excerpt

Fort Clatsop, Oregon, to Camp Chopunnish, Idaho March 23-June 9, 1806

On March 23, 1806, the Corps of Discovery left Fort Clatsop, their winter quarters on the Pacific Coast, and started back up the Columbia River on their long return journey to the United States. It was now nearly two years since they had left St. Louis bound west; if they could get across the Rocky Mountains by the Lolo Trail early enough, they could descend the Missouri River before it froze and reach their starting point in this same year. They were now largely retracing a route they had already followed and so did not bother with the detailed courses and distances of the outbound journey, but their journals were still filled with the incidents of the voyage and descriptions of the country and its people.

There was still room for new discoveries; on the way down the Columbia they had missed the mouth of the Willamette River, concealed behind islands. They encamped for a week on the north side of the Columbia to hunt and take astronomical observations, while Clark made a quick exploration a few miles up the new stream. The captains called it the Multnomah after the Indian name and regarded it as coming from much deeper in the continent than was really the case. On April 6 the party was again on its way.

They were nearly two weeks getting upriver past the Cascades and the Celilo Falls. To the wearisome labor of portaging was added the aggravation of bad relations with many of the Indians in the vicinity. The natives demanded high prices for any food they sold, and some of them could not resist stealing. The captains' patience was at low ebb and they threatened violence if stolen goods were not returned. When some Indians made off with Lewis's dog Seaman, Lewis sent a party of men to recover his friend and companion, with orders to shoot if necessary. Fortunately, no one was killed and Seaman was returned to the Corps.

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