With a bang of the swivel gun at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 7th, 31 men of the Corps of Discovery plus one woman and child set out into the unknown. Up until that moment their journey had taken them through territory previously documented by French and British traders. But from that day forward they were entering land that was little known by European adventurers. On this day, in Captain Meriwether Lewis’ first journal entry of 1805, he wrote,' Our vessels consisted of six small canoes and two large pirogues. This little fleet, although not quite so respectable as those of Columbus or Capt. Cook, were still viewed by us with as much pleasure as those deservedly famed adventurers ever beheld theirs; and I dare say with quite as much anxiety for their safety and preservation. We were now about to penetrate a Country at least two thousand miles in width, on which the foot of civilized man had never trodden; the good or evil it had in store for us was for experiment yet to determine, and these little vessels contained every article by which we were to expect to subsist or defend ourselves.' After their departure Lewis walked six miles along the north bank to the upper village of the Mandans to visit his friend Black Cat. He then hiked back approximately two miles to rejoin Clark and the rest of the men at their camping spot, just across the Missouri River from the lower Mandan village. This village contained, by Sgt. Whitehouse's estimate, about 300 lodges and was 'governed by a chief called the Big White…'. The six dugout canoes and red and white pirogues had battled a head wind all afternoon and had made about four miles before stopping to camp. These late starts were common to allow for any returns to the original camp if needed. This would be the first night of the new sleeping arrangements with Clark, Lewis, the two interpreters, Sacagawea and Pomp all sharing a hide teepee. In this painting I depict Lewis and his beloved dog Seaman on their late afternoon hike to visit chief Black Cat. In the crook of his arm he holds the rifle that Charles Saint-Memin painted him leaning on in Saint-Memin's famous post-expedition watercolor portrait of Lewis. This is an interesting rifle with an open-checker pattern etched into the wrist of the stock and its unusually shaped, side opening patch box. The details of the gun suggest it may have been built by the Lancaster, Pennsylvania gunsmith, George Frederick Fainot, a French transplant to America via Halifax, Nova Scotia. Fainot was a provider of Model 1792 Contract Rifles to the U.S. government and there were 28 of his rifles at the Harpers Ferry Arsenal when Lewis was there requisitioning and refurbishing the guns for the Expedition. It’s possible that the rifle in Saint-Memin’s portrait is a Fainot-made Contract Rifle that was customized for Lewis at Harpers Ferry*. Comfortable in his well worn hunting frock and overalls, Lewis strides forth, anxiously anticipating the journey into the unknown.