The Lewis and Clark expedition was originally called the Corps of Discovery and was sent by Thomas Jefferson to explore the rest of the North American continent. The route took them against the flow of the Mississippi River. But there was a lot of preparation involved before that.
When president Jefferson first chose Meriwether Lewis as the Commander Of the Corps of Discovery, he sent Lewis to go get training to be able to help his men. With Lewis already being a skilled botanist, the mission of logging plants from the west was no issue. But, Lewis wanted someone else at his side for the expedition. He already had someone in mind for that, WIlliam Clark. Clark was a soldier, skilled map-maker, and a man who loved adventure. After Clark agreed to be co-commander, they set about finding people to join them on the expedition. There ended up being fifty-five people on the expedition after a careful selection of the people who applied.
The route that Lewis and Clark took to get to the Pacific Ocean
After everyone was chosen, Lewis went to go get the boats built for the trip. After that, he met up with Clark and they set sail. Their route to through the west would take them upstream from the Missouri River and northwest to the borders of modern day Kansas and Nebraska on the west side and Iowa and the east side. When they reached the Rocky Mountains, they split up to try and get over. After that, they went directly west to get the Pacific Ocean. Then they turned around and went back.
The Hardships of the expedition
The journey to the west was an unforgiving one. The conditions was harsh, there were many accidents along the way, and worst of all, there were natives that were hostile. One of the major dilemmas faced by the expedition team was that they were going upriver against the current. There was also unseen sandbars, logs submerged in the the water, and areas where the water moved rapidly. These occurrences often slowed down the progress up the river. Another hardship faced was sickness. While Lewis received minimal medical training for the expedition, it never really helped. As sickness was spreading, the hard days of physical labor wore out the expedition team. The weather didn't help either. It was hot and there were ticks and mosquitoes out that bit a the legs of the team members. They also had to try and make friends with Native American tribes and some didn't go well or were hostile.
Reaching the Pacific Ocean is an accomplishment in itself for the Corps of Discovery. But, they also had many other accomplishments along the way. One accomplishment was making friends with some of the Native American tribes. This was one of the tasks that President Jefferson assigned Lewis to do. By making friends with these tribes, other Americans became able to safely pass through. They were also able to map a route to the Pacific. Most importantly, they obtained valuable information about the west.
Plants and Animals discovered along the way
Above is the Great Blanket Flower. It was found in the lewis and Clark Expedition on July 7, 1806 in Montana. During their trip, they found 178 different types of plants. This plant in particular has collapsing leaves and is covered in tufts that protect the leaves and pollen.
The chipmunk was found on February 24 and 25, 1806. When first finding the animal, Lewis and Clark recognized that it is a different species to Euro Americans.
The badger was first found on July 30, 1804. The badger was skinned and sent to Jefferson as a signal that they have been finding many new species and that the trip is successful;.
Items and Tools taken on the Journey
This is called a Spirit Level. A Spirit Level is similar to a carpenter's ;level, only smaller. It was used to level the surveying compass for precise angular measurements and to level a mirror to make an artificial horizon when water was not used. Clark also used it as a hand level when he measured the height of the falls and rapids of the Missouri from Lower Portage Camp to White Bear Island.
This is a Pocket Compass. They cost $2.50 each and were used for circumference and when traveling on land.
This is a Octant. The Octant was used to determine the altitude by measuring the angle between the sun and the horizon. Most of these were made out of tropical wood and Lewis used this tool equipped with a back horizon to measure the altitude of the sun when it was greater than 60 degrees.
Sergeant Charles Floyd joined the expedition on August 1, 1803 from Kentucky. His greatest contribution to the discovery was the journal he kept with descriptions of all the places they went and new things they discovered. Unfortunately, he died August 20, 1804. Today, his journals are published and have a total of 11 volumes.
Sergeant Patrick Gass joined theexpedtditionon January 3, 1804. His biggest legacy it for popularizing the "Corps Discovery" by his bold title on the first page of his 1807 published journal. Patrick died April 2, 1870 at age 99.
Sergeant John Ordway was appointed by Lewis to watch over the troops and keep them in line while Lewis and Clark would go out. He was also required to keep a journal of descriptions of Native American life. In the end, Lewis and Clark paid him 4300 for his journals and John lived the rest of his life as wealthy land owner.
Sergeant Nathaniel Pryor was enlisted by Clark on October 20, 1803. e was called "the man of character and ability" and was cousin to Charles Floyd. He was a big help to the expedition with his strictness and ability to keep the men in order and punish those who didn't.
Corporal Richard Warfington was assigned to the expedition because of his reliability and strength. His greatest accomplishment was being the man in charge of the return party from Fort Mandan in spring of 1805. Also, he received a great bonus for his hardwork and difficult task.
- As Far as the Eye Can Reach
- Mr. Wingard's Book