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accompanying him, and perhaps very much below it in point of fortitude, cheerfulness, and active vigour.
But it is more than time to quit this unsubstantial ground, and proceed with the hardy and indefatigable adventurers, who accomplished an enterprise very far beyond the ability of any band of philosophers, poets, and artists, that could have been selected from all mankind.
The party set out from near St. Louis, May the 14th, 1804, in a batteau or barge, and two perioques or open boats.
• They consisted of nine young men from Kentucky, fourteen soldiers of the United States army who volunteered their services, tyo French watermen, an interpreter and hunter, and a black servant belonging to Captain Clarke--all these, except the last, were enlisted to serve as privates during the expedition, and three sergeants were appointed from among them by the captains. In addition to these were engaged a corporal and six soldiers, and nine watermen, to accompany the expedition as far as the Mandan nation, in order to assist in carrying the stores, or repelling an attack, which was most to be apprehended between Wood river and that tribe.'
This last mentioned party of soldiers, with a few watermen, returned with the barge, from the Mandan fort, the following spring, at the time that the main body set forward thence in prosecution of the undertaking. To reach that station against the time of its becoming necessary to take up a winter encampment, required the incessant well-combined exertions of as active, and adroit, and hardy, and courageous a band of men, as ever, probably, adventured together, on land or on water. The chief of their difficulties were those put in the way by nature; the never-ending toil of making their way against the current, which often compelled them to use the towline, in which service the men had sometimes to go considerable length» up to the middle in water; the infipite series of accumulations of sand, lying in all manner of positions, occasioning doubtfulness, and intricacy of channel, great shifting and tediousness of passage, and sometimes formidable rapids, especially when combined with projections of rocks or banks, or sudden bends of the course of the river. · Add to this, that at some stations of the route, 'game,' as they call it, that is, every kind, and shape, and size of animal that could be eaten, was scarce, or otherwise difficult of attainment, though the sportsmen of the party appear to have been infallible shots. One species, besides, of this game, was of a temper to make the sport a more serious thing than so gay a name would ordinarily import. Very high entertainment, however, is afforded to the readers, by what was a considerably grave matter to the hunters, for none of the incidents are more striking, or exhibit more critical situations,
than some of the rencounters with the brown and the white bears. One or two of these descriptions we shall transcribe in their proper places.
It might be surmised, that there would be very considerable bazard from the human wild animals, to so small a party traversing the domains of so many of their tribes, some of them altogether unknown, and some of them, and those the strongest tribes, known to be jealous and unfriendly. At some of the stages there were some bad omens, and sounds of menace, whích impused a necessity of great caution, and of assuming as much as possible the attitude and language of defiance; and this, together with the real and formidable efficiency of a troop so accoutred and so courageous for action, and carrying so conspicuously the marks of their commission from a power which all but the remotest tribes bave learned to respect and fear, had the effect of securing a complete impunity to these thirty or forty men, wandering for years amung so many savages. Some of the tribes were quite friendly and hospitable; others betrayed indications of what they would bave been willing to do, had they dared. The sample presented, by this expedition, to them all, of a nation which is in an invincible progress to occupy the Continent to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, will have very powerfully tended to convince them of the fruitlessness and danger of any thing like active hostility against the people, whom some of these men of the desert have begun to denominate, as Pike bas told us, the white Indians,' a denomination by which these proud Aborigines have acknowledged the rival valour of the intrusive
We should think, too, that a very considerable impression must bave been made on them, by the general conduct of this expedition, in favour of the equitableness, the settled, uncapricious rules of action, of the people they perceive to be growing into the master-tribe of America,- if they believe that the approaching and invading State will, or by the nature of the case can, treat them as fairly in every transaction, as it was certainly the best policy, as well as the merit, of this small detachment to do.
The first tribe of consequence to whose territories the party advanced, were the Osages, whose encampments they reached after about a fortnight's contest with the gigantic stream; a sufficient length of time to give them a few little specimens and hints of the nature of the long warfare. It may be worth while to extract one which was to be followed by innumerable similar opes.
• We ascended a very difficult rapid, called the Devil's Race Ground, where the current sets for half a mile against some pro. jecting rocks on the South side. We were less fortunate in attempting a second place of equal difficulty. Passing near the Southern shore, the bank fell in so fast, as to oblige us to cross the river instantly, between the Northern side apd a sand-bar, which is constantly moving and banking with the violence of the current. The boat stuck on it, and would have upset immediately, if the men had not jumped into the water and held her till the sand washed from under her.'
We may here observe, once for all, that the whole narrative is eminently free from exaggeration of language. There is no apparent disposition to magnify dangers, labours, exploits, or spectacles. A great number of things are passed with a very slight notice, as perfectly ordinary matters, which one of our English tourists would not easily have become convinced he was not to relate at great length, with great aggravation of language, as memorable and important incidents.
The Osages are twelve or thirteen hundred warriors. In person they are among the largest and best formed Indians, and are said to possess fine military capacities; but residing as they do in villages, and baving made considerable 'advance in 'agriculture, they seem less addicted to war than their northern
neighbours. Their complacent adherence to the belief, as here stated, concerning their origin, is an illustration of the omnipotence of self-love: they think never the worse of themselves from being all descended from a spail.
According to universal belief, the founder of the nation was a snail, passing a quiet existence along the banks of the Osage, till a high food
him down to the Missouri, and left him exposed on the shore. The heat of the sun at length ripened him into a man, but with the change of his nature he had not forgotten his native seats on the Osage, towards which he immediately bent his way. He was however soon overtaken by, hunger and fatigue, when happily the Great Spirit appeared, and giving him a bow and arrow, shewed him how to kill and cook deer, and cover himself with the skin. He then proceeded to his original residence; but as he ap- : proached the river, he was met by a beaver, who inquired haughtily who he was, and by what authority he came to disturb his possession. The Osage answered that the river was his own, for he had once lived on its borders. As they stood disputing, the daughter of the beaver came, and having by her entreaties reconciled her father to this young stranger, it was proposed that the Osage should marry the young beaver, and share with her family the enjoyment of the river. The Osage readily consented, and from this happy union, there soon came the village and the nation of the Wasbasha, or Osages, who have ever since preserved a pious reverence for their ancestors, abstaining from the chace of the beaver, because in killing that animal they killed the brother of the Osage. Of late years, however, since the trade with the whites has rendered beaver skins more valuable, the sanctity of these maternal relatives has visibly diminished, and the poor animals have nearly lost all the privileges of kindred.'
The landscape for many hundred miles of the progress, seems to have presented few striking varieties; it was chiefly a succession of extensive prairies, sometimes on the level of the river, sometimes a little rising, and widening into an upper plain; undulated sometimes; intersected by a prodigious number of streams falling into the Missouri; often broken by inconsiderable hills, which, when coming to the river, formed the kind of precipice so many hundred times in this volume called
bluif. There was generally wood of some kind near the courses of the rivers, and among it various fruit trees, such as plums, and some kinds of cherries; with gooseberry-bushes, currants, and vines; but there was on the whole no very large proportion of any thing to be called fine timber. On a collective view of the long series of descriptions, it would appear that a deficiency of wood is one of the most obvious characteristics of this vast western part of the Continent.
It is a
nakedness which would be quite unaccountable but for the Indian modes of employing fire, in consequence of which the country has been overrun perhaps in alınost all its parts, with conflagrations, kindled in the long withered grass, devouring copse and underwood, and destroying, by the help of this more substantial fuel, the largest trees. Such burnings are often intentional, one object being to attract the buffaloes by the young sweet grass by which, at some seasons, the operation is sure to be speedily followed.
We know not how many other causes may have co-operated to produce this grand deficiency, the effect of which, in the more gloomy parts of the year, must be infinitely dreary.
At several points in the progress towards the station at the Mandans, the party saw ancient burying-grounds of the Indians, mounds of earth of various forms and sizes, some of sand, and some of both earth and sand. Two hundred acres in one place were covered with them. At a spot on a hill, (and our Authors
that the Indians affect elevated situations for sepultures) there was a large recent one, raised over a distinguished chief of the Mahas, who had died of the small-pox, a malady which had destroyed a great portion of the tribe, and which is regarded with the utmost horror by all the Indians. When the Mahas saw their nation hopelessly perishing, their phrenzy was extreme :'
"They burnt their village, and many of them put to death their wives and children, to save them from so eruel an affliction, and that all might go together to some better country.'
A few stages northward of this monument, also on a hill overlooking the river, it was the destiny of one of the party, Sergeant Floyd, to take up his last abode. He was the only
one that died during the expedition. By giving his name to a river, it was attempted to secure for him a more durable memorial than the inscribed cedar post fixed at the place of his interment.
About this place they had one of those bends in the river, which often occasioned them the mortification of consuming their time and labour for nothing. From the camp Captain Clarke reached, by a walk of three hundred and seventy yards, a point on the bank, from which the vessels had come twelve miles. When the water is high, this peninsula is overflowed;
and judging,' say our Authors, from the customary and notorious changes in the river, a few years will be sufficient to 'force the main current across, and leave the great bend dry.' They found various instances in which the river has actually thus rectified its course. These diversions of the channel of so grand a stream, give a striking idea of the scale on which Nature trapsacts her business on this great western field. More of these economical reforms are yet to be effected by the river. At a place further on, the vessels made from one point a circuit of thirty miles to another point, and the distance between the two was accurately ascertained to be but a trifle more than one mile.
They had amicable interviews, and very ceremonious diplomatic conferences, with the Ottoes, and Missouri Indians, in the neighbourhood of a place marked by the track of an irresistible hurricane which had crossed the river and torn up large trees, some of which, perfectly sound, and four feet in diameter, were snapped off near the ground.'
The tracts of the country successively passed by the expedition, bring in view the numerous but most diminutive tribes that hold them respectively under a sort of vagrant appropriation. One of these tribes is described under the denomination of Staitan or Kite Indians, as consisting of only a hundred men. * The smallness of their numbers is to be attributed to their • extreme ferocity; they are all the most warlike of the western
Indians; they never yield in battle; they never spare their enemies; and the retaliation of this barbarity has almost extinguished the nation.'
Among the natural curiosities we may notice a serpent that made a noise like a turkey, a pelican with a bag capable of holding five gallons, a kind of animal denominated barking squirrels, a fish's back-bone petrified, forty-five feet long, thistles ten feet high, and an elevation of the earth that may be called the mound of the little devils, at a considerable number of miles from the river.
• The base of the mound is a regular parallelogram, the longest side being about three hundred yards, the shorter about sixty or