The Journals of Lewis & Clark: February 12, 1805

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
February 11, 1805
February 13, 1805

February 12, 1805

12th February Tuesday 1805.

The morning was fair tho could, thermometer at 14° below naught wind S. E. ordered the Blacksmith to shoe the horses and some others to prepare some gears in order to send them down with three slays to join the hunting party and transport the meat which they may have pocured to this place- the the men whom I had sent for the meat left by Charbono did not return untill 4 OClock this evening. Drewyer arrived with the horses about the same time, the horses appeared much fatieged I directed some meal brands given them moisened with a little water but to my astonishment found that they would not eat it but prefered the bark of the cotton wood which forms the principall article of food usually given them by their Indian masters in the winter season; for this purpose they cause the trees to be felled by their women and the horses feed on the boughs and bark of their tender branches. the Indians in our neighbourhood are freequently pilfered of their horses by the Recares, Souixs and Assinniboins and therefore make it an invariable rule to put their horses in their lodges at night. in this situation the only food of the horse consists of a few sticks of the cottonwood from the size of a man's finger to that of his arm. The Indians are invariably severe riders, and frequently have occasion for many days together through the whole course of the day to employ their horses in pursuing the Buffaloe or transporting meat to their vilages during which time they are seldom suffered to tast food; at night the Horse returned to his stall where his food is what seems to me a scanty allowance of wood. under these circumstances it would seem that their horses could not long exist or at least could not retain their flesh and strength, but the contrary is the fact, this valuable anamall under all those disadvantages is seldom seen meager or unfit for service.- A little after dark this evening Capt. Clark arrived with the hunting party- since they set out they have killed forty Deer, three buffaloe bulls, & sixteen Elk, most of them were so meager that they were unfit for uce, particularly the Buffaloes and male Elk- the wolves also which are here extreemly numerous heped themselves to a considerable proportion of the hunt- if an anamal is killed and lyes only one night exposed to the wolves it is almost invariably devoured by them.