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The U.S. Army and the Lewis & Clark Expedition
Part 1: Introduction

As we commemorate its bicentennial, the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition evokes pride and awe in countless Americans who reflect upon its achievements. Its dynamism and sweep carried American explorers across the breadth of a vast continent for the first time. Its scientific agenda brought back invaluable information about flora, fauna, hydrology, and geography. Its benign intent established fruitful trade relations and encouraged peaceable commerce with Native Americans encountered en route. The Expedition was, all things considered, a magnificent example of our young nation’s potential for progress and creative good.

While most Americans have some inkling of the importance of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, relatively few recognize that it was an Army endeavor from beginning to end, officially characterized as the “Corps of Volunteers for North Western Discovery.” It is no accident that the new nation and its president, Thomas Jefferson, turned to the Army for this most important mission. Soldiers possessed the toughness, teamwork, discipline, and training appropriate to the rigors they would face. The Army had a nationwide organization even in that early era and thus the potential to provide requisite operational and logistical support. Perhaps most important, the Army was already in the habit of developing leaders of character and vision; Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and the outstanding noncommissioned officers who served with them being cases in point.

This brochure was prepared in the U.S. Army Center of Military History by David W. Hogan, Jr., and Charles E. White. We truly hope you will enjoy this brief and engaging account of a stirring and significant event in our American military heritage.

JOHN S. BROWN                    
Brigadier General, USA          
Chief of Military History            

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