The U.S. Army and the Lewis & Clark
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 nations 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