Lewis and Clark Timeline 1804
1804 - Up The Missouri
March 9, 1804 - Three Flags Day Ceremony in St. Louis, Missouri; the official transfer of the upper Louisiana Territory from Spain to France. After the ceremony Meriwether Lewis stayed in St. Louis with Pierre Chouteau and his family.
May 20, 1804 - St. Charles, Missouri - This day was a Sunday, and Clark sent 20 of the men to the Catholic Church in St. Charles. Lewis rode overland from St. Louis to St. Charles. May 21, 1804 The expedition set out at 3 p.m. from St. Charles, Missouri.
May 31, 1804 - The expedition camped at the mouth of Deer Creek in Osage County, Missouri. Lewis described the Eastern Wood Rat for science, and several plants; Clark met with Big Track, a leader of the Osage Indians.
June 23, 1804 - Clark camped on shore after rounding Jackass Bend in Ray County, Missouri; the men camped on an island across from the later site of Fort Osage, (Lewis and Clark Trail Site #8), built in 1808 under the supervision of Indian Agent William Clark.
June 29, 1804 - Near modern Parkville, Missouri - Hugh Hall and John Collins were court martialled for stealing whiskey. Collins was sentenced to 100 lashes, Hall to 50. The keelboat almost struck an overhead branch as it violently turned in a rapid; if it had hit the branch it might have been sunk. At 3:30 p.m., after establishing camp, the punishment was carried out on Collins and Hall.
July 12, 1804 - Big Lake, near modern Fortescue, Missouri - The Captains stayed at this camp to rest the men, and waited for a hunting party to return from the Big Nemaha River in Nebraska. Clark went up the Nemaha about 3 miles and marveled at the prairie lands he saw. He also noted the remains of a late prehistoric Oto village, and ate wild grapes. At 1 p.m. the court martial of Alexander Willard was held. Willard had been caught sleeping on guard duty, a capital crime; Willard was convicted, and sentenced to 100 lashes on his bare back, given nightly at sunset in amounts of 25 lashes for four consecutive nights. The punishment commenced on this evening.
July 20, 1804 - The expedition camped a little above Spring Creek, in Cass County, Nebraska. Clark and Reubin Field explored along the Weeping Water Creek looking for elk; they walked all day through the immense prairie. Clark killed a yellow wolf and marveled at the general good health of the men.
August 1, 1804 - At what the Corps called the Council Bluff Site, today's Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, Nebraska, they waited for Indian chiefs to arrive for a council. This was William Clark's 34th birthday, and he recorded "This being my birth day I order'd a Saddle of fat vennison, an Elk fleece and a bevartail to be cooked and a Desert of Cheries, Plumbs, Raspberries currents and grapes of a Supr quality. 3 Deer and an Elk killed to day The Indians not yet arrived. a Cool fine eveninge Musquetors verry troublsom, the Praries Contain Cheres, Apple, Grapes, Currents, Raspberry, Gooseberry Hastlenuts and a great vairety of Plants and flours not common to the U S What a field for a Botents [botanist] and a natriless [naturalist]".
August 2, 1804 - Council Bluff site, Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, Nebraska - At sunset, six Oto chiefs and their warriors, with a French interpreter, Mr. Faufong, arrived; on the morning of August 3, Lewis and Clark gave out peace medals to the Oto and Missouri chiefs.
August 11, 1804 - The camp was at what is today Badger Lake, near Whiting, Iowa - Lewis and Clark honored Black Bird, a chief of the Omaha Indians who died four years earlier, by climbing to the top of his mound grave with ten men and planting a flag. They stated in the journals that over 400 Indians, including Black Bird, had died of smallpox in an epidemic four years previously.
August 20, 1804 - Near modern Sioux City, Iowa (Lewis and Clark Trail Site #18) - The only member of the Corps of Discovery to die on the expedition, Sgt. Charles Floyd succumbed to what is now believed to have been appendicitis. Even if the members of the expedition had known what his malady was, there was nothing they could have done for him. Sgt. Floyd died on either the Nebraska or the Iowa side of the river; his body was then taken upriver to the first high bluffs at modern Sioux City, Iowa, for burial. The inroads of the Missouri River washed away part of Floyd's grave and his remains were reburied in 1857 600 feet to the southeast of the original site. In 1895 the grave was marked with a concrete slab, and in 1901 a 100 foot tall obelisk was erected over the spot. Clark recorded: "Sergeant Floyd much weaker and no better . . . Serjeant Floyd as bad as he can be no pulse and nothing will Stay a moment on his Stomach or bowels. . . Serj. Floyd Died with a great deal of Compusure, before his death he Said to me, 'I am going away I want you to write me a letter.' We buried him on the top of the bluff 1/2 Mile below a Small river to which we Gave his name, he was buried with the Honors of War much lamented, a Seeder post with the Name Sergt. C. Floyd died here 20th of august 1804 was fixed at the head of his grave. This Man at all times gave us proofs of his firmness and Determined resolution to doe Service to his Countrey and honor himself . . . " The military funeral was conducted by Capt. Lewis.
August 23, 1804 - One mile southeast of Vermillion, South Dakota (Lewis and Clark Trail Site #20). A wide variety of wildlife was sighted on this day; Joseph Field killed the expedition's first buffalo.
[The following is based on information in Gary E. Moulton, ed. The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, Volume One, Atlas, and Volume 3, August 25, 1804 - April 6, 1805].
August 30, 1804 - Calumet Bluff, at modern Gavins Point Dam, South Dakota - A council was held with the Yankton Sioux at which Clark made a speech and distributed presents and peace medals. The Yankton danced until late at night on the Dakota side of the river.
Sept. 7, 1804 - The camp was at "the Tower," four miles southeast of the Nebraska/South Dakota border on the Nebraska side, near Niobara National Scenic Riverway. The men investigated a prairie dog town and described it for science.
Sept. 10, 1804 - The camp was on Pocahontas, or Towhead Island, now inundated by Lake Francis Case. On Cedar Island Clark found the fossil remains of the backbone, teeth and ribs of an ancient sea-dwelling creature called a plesiosaur, 45 feet long.
Sept. 20, 1804 - The Corps was in Hughes County, South Dakota, in the Grand Detour or Big Bend of the Missouri area. The men could walk easily across the narrow land areas between the bends in the river. Clark noted: "I walked on Shore . . . Saw numbers of Buffalow and Goats, I saw a Hare and believe he run into a hole in the Side of a hill . . . None of those Goats has any Beard, they are all Keenly made and is butifull."
Sept. 24, 1804 - Within the boundaries of modern Pierre, South Dakota, the Corps met and had a confrontation with the Lakota or "Teton" Sioux. The following day the men raised a flag and put up the sail awning for a council. The Lakota began to arrive about 11 a.m.; after a ceremony much like those of the past few months with other Indian tribes, the Lakota leaders feigned drunkenness and asked for more presents, declaring they would not let the Corps go on without them. The Second Chief, called the Partisan, threatened Clark, who drew his sword and called the men to arms. A potentially disastrous confrontation was finally diffused when the Lakota backed down.
October 8, 1804 - The campsite was in Corson County, South Dakota, between Rampart and Cathead Creeks in an area now inundated by Lake Oahe. This was the so-called Leavenworth Site of Arikara earth lodge villages. The first Arikara village was called Rhtarahe, the second Waho-Erha. The Corps crossed the Grand River and Oak Creek, passed the first village and set up camp. Lewis and three men, along with an interpreter who lived in the area, Joseph Gravelines, went to the Arikara village. The Arikaras were astonished by York - they had never seen a black man before.
Capt. Lewis walked to the village with the principal Chiefs and our interpreters, my Rhumatic complaint increasing I could not go." Lewis and Clark had already decided to stay for the winter with the friendly Mandan and Hidatsa Indians, where food would be available. The Indian villages added a measure of protection as well, and the explorers were interested in noting the customs of these fascinating people.
Nov. 2, 1804 - Near modern Stanton, North Dakota. One of Lewis and Clark's first tasks was to survey the area to find a suitable spot for their winter camp. A place was selected on the east, or north, bank of the Missouri about 6 air miles below the mouth of the Knife River on a point of low ground sheltered by bluffs. It was directly opposite the lower of the fiveMandan villages. On November 3 the men set to work building Fort Mandan. It apparently consisted of two rows of huts, or rooms.
Nov. 4, 1804 - Fort Mandan, North Dakota - Toussaint Charbonneau was signed as an interpreter for the coming journey, along with his Shoshoni wife, Sacagawea.
Dec. 17, 1804 - Fort Mandan, North Dakota - The temperature was 43° below zero; Mr. Hugh Heney of the Northwest Company made sketches for the captains of the country between the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers, and a Mandan man made sketches of the land to the west.