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Corps of Discovery
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Expedition Timeline
Events of 1804

Throughout the winter of 1803/04, while Captain Lewis is in St. Louis handling logistical arrangements and gathering intelligence, Captain Clark and Sergeant Ordway select recruits for the expedition and mold them into an effective unit. On March 31, Lewis and Clark hold a ceremony to enlist the men selected to be members of "the Detachment destined for the Expedition through the interior of the Continent of North America." The Expedition numbers 50 men: 2 Captains, 3 Sergeants, 1 Corporal, 30 privates, and 14 civilians (including York, Drouillard, and the 12 engages or boatmen). On May 14, 1804, the Expedition departs Camp River Dubois on its journey up the Missouri River.

May-October: The Expedition travels up the Missouri river to the Mandan villages. Along the way, the party holds its first council with the Oto and Missouria tribes on August 3rd. Sergeant Charles Floyd dies on August 20th, the men select Patrick Gass to replace Floyd. When appointing Gass as sergeant on August 26, Lewis and Clark use the term "Corps of Discovery" for the first time. Three days later on August 29th, the Corps of Discovery meet the Yankton Sioux. A month later on September 23rd, the Expedition meet the Teton Sioux. After several tense days, the Corps of Discovery depart the Sioux villages on September 28th, avoiding a deadly confrontation. In early October the Expedition holds councils with the Arikara chiefs and visits their villages. On October 26th the Corps of Discovery arrives at the Mandan and Hidatsa villages, some 1,600 miles from Camp River Dubois. Three days later on October 29th, Lewis and Clark hold their most impressive council to date.

November-December: On November 2nd Lewis and Clark select the site for the expedition's winter quarters. Over the two months the men build Fort Mandan, which they name in honor of the Mandan people. Work on Fort Mandan is complete on Christmas Day, 1804.

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