On a rainy afternoon, the somber light enlivened by the fiery colors of autumn, William Clark bid farewell to friends and family and took his first steps westward on a trek of epic proportions. Joining forces with his old friend Meriwether Lewis, the two officers took command of what was to become known through history as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Their reunion at Clarksville was the beginning of a collaboration that has no parallel in US military history: a successful mission led by two US officers of apparently equal rank. Accompanying Clark was his slave, York. Also embarking on this mission of discovery was a core group of civilians, the now famous 'Nine Young Men From Kentucky'. After finishing up some paperwork at the County Courthouse across the Ohio River in Louisville that morning, William returned to Clarksville to embark. This scene depicts the moment that the old Revolutionary War hero, George Rogers Clark, amidst a group of friends and family, clasps hands with his younger brother and wishes him godspeed. These frontier departures surely brought a mix of emotions: excitement and anticipation for the future discoveries and adventures that awaited, but also the anxiety of the unknown. On a voyage such as this there was a good chance they wouldn't meet again on this earth. Fanny Clark, William's sister, reflects this uncertainty in her pose. I've restored the Falls of the Ohio to their original channels. Though still formidable, it had been a dry autumn in 1803 and the flow was down. In the distance the growing town of Louisville is visible. A flourishing port, the town already boasted church spires and three story buildings. George Rogers Clark's log home was situated with a commanding view of the river and is visible over Fanny's shoulder. Though William had applied to the government for a Captain's rank in the Engineers, he had received no word on his commission and therefore I've painted him in his old Wayne's Legion era uniform. He has switched his Lieutenant's epaulette from his left shoulder to the right to signify his rank as an acting Captain. Buckskin knee breeches and tall riding boots complete his attire. Meriwether Lewis' uniform reflects the latest in military fashion as he strides down the embankment, farewells finished and sword in hand. York pauses in his work to watch this last handshake. He's wearing a linen work jacket and his old round hat. He hefts some of William's personal effects in a leather covered wooden box studded with brass nails. Under his left arm he carries a pasteboard chapeau box covered in marbled paper. These were common for storing hats and often had the maker's label pasted to the sides. George Rogers Clark, dressed in formal wear for the occasion, has on a fine wool dress coat and silk knee breeches and stockings. His shoes, though impractical for such a muddy occasion, are of the latest fashion. The other gentlemen in the scene also have on their finest. It's a common misconception that, because of its frontier location, the locals all wore homespun or buckskin. The wealthier families watched the latest fashions closely and often traveled to larger cities to be fitted by tailors and seamstresses. Fanny Clark is a good example of this. Known as the 'Black haired beauty of Kentucky' she's dressed in a bottle green spenser jacket trimmed in black fur over a muslin dress. A straw gypsy hat held down by a silk scarf frames her ringlets of black hair. A young girl with a cape of dark velvet holds Fanny's hand. As the regular soldiers finish the last of the loading, the young men recruited locally wait boatside, eager to board. A mix of woodsman and village attire reflects the possible diversity of backgrounds of these adventurers. Some of the men are wearing militia knapsacks. It's likely that some of these local men were members of the county militia and, because uniforms were costly and difficult to procure, knapsacks were a common way of distinguishing the men. They were often painted in bright colors with fanciful emblems. These young men from the western fringe of the United States' frontier would play a large part in crafting the success or failure of this ambitious undertaking.