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Military Members of the Expedition’s Permanent Party

The expedition’s army men and civilians were a diverse group, as can be seen in the deeply researched biographies in multi-volume "The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition," edited by Gary E. Moulton (University of Nebraska Press), on which these thumbnails are based.

 

Lewis, Meriwether. Captain.
Named governor of Louisiana Territory, the Louisiana Purchase lands beyond the northern border of today’s state of Louisiana. Lewis suffered from “melancholia,” or depression, much of his life, and apparently killed himself at an inn in Tennessee in 1809. He was buried at the site 60 miles south of Nashville.

Clark, William. Co-captain (officially second lieutenant, until a vote of Congress in November 2000). Governor of Missouri Territory 1813-1820, he failed to be elected the first Missouri state governor in 1820. From 1813 to his death in 1838, he was in charge of Indian affairs west of the Mississippi, and was based in St. Louis. Because of the red-haired Clark’s importance to them, many Indian people called that city “The Red Head’s Town.” As an Indian agent, he was compassionate and fair.


Floyd, Charles. Recruited by Clark and awaiting Lewis and the keelboat at Clarksville, Indiana Territory, Floyd may have been related to William Clark. He was named a sergeant at Camp Dubois. Floyd was 22 when he died from peritonitis in August 1804.

Gass, Patrick. Nominated by the enlisted men to replace Floyd as sergeant. A career soldier who had enlisted in 1799, he lost an eye in the War of 1812 and was discharged from the army. He settled in West Virginia and lived until 1870, the Corps of Discovery’s last survivor.

Ordway, John. Returned to Washington, D.C., with Lewis and Chief Sheheke. After visiting his home state of New Hampshire, settled in Missouri. Was dead by 1817.

Pryor, Nathaniel. Continued in the army as an officer, resigning in 1810 and rejoining in 1813. After the War of 1812 (where he was in the Battle of New Orleans), Pryor traded on the Arkansas River and married an Osage woman. He lived with the Osages until his death in 1831. Montana’s Pryor Mountains and the towns of Pryor, Montana, and Pryor, Oklahoma, are named for him.


Bratton, William. Lived in the settled “West” of his time: Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, and Indiana. He served in the War of 1812, and died in 1841.

Collins, John. Became an Upper Missouri fur trapper, and was one of more than 12 of William Ashley’s employees killed by the Arikaras in 1823.

Colter, John. Requested and received early discharge from the expedition on the return trip, while still in future North Dakota, and returned to the Rockies as a trapper for four years. He became the first white to report on the geysers and bubbling mudpots of what became Yellowstone National Park—but people thought his descriptions mere tall tales. Colter married and settled in Missouri; illness claimed him in 1813.

Cruzatte, Pierre. Clark thought the one-eyed fiddle player was dead by 1825-1828.

Field, Joseph. Brother of Reubin. Clark thought him killed in 1807.

Field, Reubin. Lived in Kentucky until his death in 1823.

Frazer, Robert. Returned with Lewis and the Mandan chief Sheheke to Washington, D.C., after the expedition. Settled in Missouri and died in 1837.

Gibson, George. With Cruzatte, he was one of the expedition’s violin players. Died in St. Louis in 1809.

Goodrich, Silas. Stayed in the army after the expedition.

Hall, Hugh. Known to be in St. Louis in 1809, when Lewis lent him money.

Howard, Thomas. Clark noted his heavy drinking at Camp Dubois, and Howard received the expedition’s final court martial at Fort Mandan after he climbed the stockade fence when returning after hours.

Labiche, Francois. Settled in the St. Louis area.

McNeal, Hugh. May have been in the army until 1811. Clark thought him dead by 1825-1828.

Newman, John. A Missouri River trapper, he was killed by the Yankton Sioux in 1838.

Potts, John. German-born Potts became a fur trapper, and was killed by Blackfeet at the Three Forks in 1808 while his partner John Colter escaped.

Shannon, George. The youngest enlisted member of the Corps, just 18 in 1803. In the party returning Chief Sheheke home in 1807, commanded by Nathaniel Pryor, Shannon lost a leg fighting the Arikaras. Congress voted him a pension. He became a lawyer in Kentucky, and later was active in Missouri politics. He died in 1836.

Shields, John. Born in 1769, Shields was the oldest enlisted member of the Corps. Joined his relative, Daniel Boone, trapping in Missouri, then settled in Indiana. Died in 1809.

Thompson, John B. Clark thought him “killed” by 1825-1828.

Weiser, Peter M. Became a fur trader for Manuel Lisa
on the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers. Clark thought him killed by 1825-1828; this may have been by the Blackfeet at Lisa’s Three Forks post in 1810, with Drouillard and about 10 others.

Werner, William. Clark thought he settled in Virginia.

Whitehouse, Joseph. Often the Corps’ tailor. He rejoined the army, served in the War of 1812, and deserted five years later.

Willard, Alexander Hamilton. Worked as a government blacksmith for the Sauk and Fox Indians (hired by Lewis) and later the Delawares and Shawnees. He, his wife, and 12 children emigrated to California in 1852. He died near Sacramento in 1865.

Windsor, Richard. A soldier detailed to the expedition, he later lived in Missouri and Illinois.

 

 

 

 

 

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