The Journals of Lewis & Clark: July 15, 1806

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
July 14, 1806
July 16, 1806

July 15, 1806

15 July 1806. Sent McNeal down this morning to the lower part of the portage to see whether the large perogue and cash were safe.- Drewyer returned without the horses and reported that he had tracked them to beyond our camp of the

Tuesday July 15th 1806. Dispatched McNeal early this morning to the lower part of portage in order to learn whether the Cash and white perogue remained untouched or in what state they were. the men employed in drying the meat, dressing deerskins and preparing for the reception of the canoes. at 1 P.M. Drewyer returned without the horses and reported that after a diligent surch of 2 days he had discovered where the horses had passed Dearborn's river at which place there were 15 lodges that had been abandoned about the time our horses were taken; he pursued the tracks of a number of horses from these lodges to the road which we had traveled over the mountains which they struck about 3 ms. South of our encampment of the 7th inst. and had pursued this road Westwardly; I have no doubt but they are a party of the Tushapahs who have been on a buffaloe hunt. Drewyer informed that there camp was in a small bottom on the river of about 5 acres inclosed by the steep and rocky and lofty clifts of the river and that so closely had they kept themselves and horses within this little spot that there was not a track to be seen of them within a quarter of a mile of that place. every spire of grass was eaten up by their horses near their camp which had the appearance of their having remained here some time. his horse being much fatiegued with the ride he had given him and finding that the indians had at least 2 days the start of him thought it best to return. his safe return has releived me from great anxiety. I had already settled it in my mind that a whitebear had killed him and should have set out tomorrow in surch of him, and if I could not find him to continue my rout to Maria's river. I knew that if he met with a bear in the plains even he would attack him. and that if any accedent should happen to seperate him from his horse in that situation the chances in favour of his being killed would be as 9 to 10. I felt so perfectly satisfyed that he had returned in safety that I thought but little of the horses although they were seven of the best I had. this loss great as it is, is not intirely irreparable, or at least dose not defeat my design of exploring Maria's river. I have yet 10 horses remaining, two of the best and two of the worst of which I leave to assist the party in taking the canoes and baggage over the portage and take the remaining 6 with me; these are but indifferent horses most of them but I hope they may answer our purposes. I shall leave three of my intended party, (viz ) Gass, Frazier and Werner, and take the two Feildses and Drewyer. by having two spare horses we can releive those we ride. having made this arrangement I gave orders for an early departure in the morning, indeed I should have set out instantly but McNeal road one of the horses which I intend to take and has not yet returned. a little before dark McNeal returned with his musquet broken off at the breech, and informed me that on his arrival at willow run he had approached a white bear within ten feet without discover him the bear being in the thick brush, the horse took the allarm and turning short threw him immediately under the bear; this animal raised himself on his hinder feet for battle, and gave him time to recover from his fall which he did in an instant and with his clubbed musquet he struck the bear over the head and cut him with the guard of the guns and broke off the breech, the bear stunned with the stroke fell to the ground and began to scratch his head with his feet; this gave McNeal time to climb a willow tree which was near at hand and thus fortunately made his escape. the bear waited at the foot of the tree untill late in the evening before he left him, when McNeal ventured down and caught his horse which had by this time strayed off to the distance of 2 ms. and returned to camp. these bear are a most tremenduous animal; it seems that the hand of providence has been most wonderfully in our favor with rispect to them, or some of us would long since have fallen a sacrifice to their farosity. there seems to be a sertain fatality attatched to the neighbourhood of these falls, for there is always a chapter of accedents prepared for us during our residence at them. the musquetoes continue to infest us in such manner that we can scarcely exist; for my own part I am confined by them to my bier at least 3/4ths of my time. my dog even howls with the torture he experiences from them, they are almost insupportable, they are so numerous that we frequently get them in our thrats as we breath.

Tuesday 15th July 1806

we collected our horses and after an early brackft at 8 A M Set out and proceeded up the branch to the head thence over a low gap in the mountain thence across the heads of the N E. branch of the fork of Gallitins river which we Camped near last night passing over a low dividing ridge to the head of a water Course which runs into the Rochejhone, prosueing an old buffalow road which enlargenes by one which joins it from the most Easterly branch of the East fork of Galetins R. proceeding down the branch a little to the N. of East keeping on the North Side of the branch to the River rochejhone at which place I arrived at 2 P M. The Distance from the three forks of the Easterly fork of Galletines river (from whence it may be navigated down with Small Canoes) to the river Rochejhone is 18 miles on an excellent high dry firm road with very incoiderable hills. from this river to the nearest part of the main fork of Gallitine is 29 miles mostly through a leavel plain. from the head of the Missouri at the 3 forks 48 miles through a leavel plain the most of the way as may be seen by the remarks in the evening after the usial delay of 3 hours to give the horses time to feed and rest and allowing our Selves time also to Cook and eate Dinner, I proceeded on down the river on an old buffalow road at the distance of 9 miles below the mountains Shield River discharges itself into the Rochejhone on it's N W. side above a high rocky Clift, this river is 35 yards wide deep and affords a great quantity of water it heads in those Snowey Mountains to the N W with Howards Creek, it contains some Timber Such as Cotton & willow in it's bottoms, and Great numbers of beaver the river also abounds in those animals as far as I have Seen.

passed the creek and over a high rocky hill and encamped in the upper part of a large bottom. The horses feet are very sore many of them Can Scercely proceed on over the Stone and gravel in every other respect they are Sound and in good Sperits. I saw two black bear on the side of the mountains this morning. Several gangs of Elk from 100 to 200 in a gangue on the river, great numbers of Antelopes. one Elk only killed to day.

The Roche passes out of a high rugid mountain covered with Snow. the bottoms are narrow within the mountains but widen from 1/2 a m. to 2 ms. in the Vally below, those bottoms are Subject to over flow, they contain Some tall Cotton wood, and willow rose bushes & rushes Honey suckle &c. a Second bottom on the N E. Side which rises to about 20 feet higher the first & is 1 m. wide this bottom is coars gravel pebils & Sand with Some earth on which the grass grow very Short and at this time is quit dry this 2d bottom over flows in high floods on the opposit Side of the river the plain is much higher and extendes quite to the foot of the mountain. The mountains to the S. S. E on the East side of the river is rocky rugid and on them are great quantities of Snow. a bold Snow mountain which bears East & is imediately at & N W of the 3 forks of the East fork of Gallitins river may be Seen, there is also a high rugid Mtn. on which is Snow bearing North 15 or 20 miles . but fiew flowers to be Seen in those plains. low grass in the high plains, and the Common corse grass, rushes and a species of rye is the growth of the low bottoms. the mountains have Some scattering pine on them, and on the Spurs and hill Sides there is some scrubby pine. I can See no timber Sufficient large for a Canoe which will Carry more than 3 men and Such a one would be too Small to answer my purpose