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.