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Главная » Фотоальбом » Lewis & Clark Gallery » DECISION AT THE MARIAS, June 3, 1805
In early June 1805 Lewis and Clark, co-commanders of the expedition that later bore their name, were faced with one of the most vexing problems of their journey. While making their way up the Missouri River they encountered a fork in the stream, each branch seemingly equal in size. The Indians they had consulted during the previous winter had said nothing about this major river, and now a heavy burden rested on the shoulders of the two officers. As Capt. Meriwether Lewis wrote in his journal on June 3, 1805: 'To mistake the stream at this period of the season, two months of the traveling season having now elapsed, and to ascend such stream to the Rocky Mountains or perhaps much further before we could inform ourselves whether it did approach the Columbia or not, and then be obliged to return and take the other stream would not only lose us the whole of this season but would probably so dishearten the party that it might defeat the expedition altogether.' In other words, the success of the expedition in terms of achieving its stated goals, in buoying morale, and perhaps even in terms of survival in the harsh wilderness winter all depended upon a correct decision now. That morning Lewis sent two dugout canoes up each river with three men in each and a number of parties of men on foot to try and find some definitive clue as to which route was correct. As the two commanders waited for the reconnaissance teams to return they hiked to the high point between the rivers to get a better vantage point. It was a magnificent view indeed, bright with early summer green. As the two friends stood atop the rise above the confluence they talked about the ramifications of the decision they were soon to make. It was clear that there was very little room for error. Already the two were in agreement on which river they favored, but were holding the final decision until all the information was available. Ever the scientific observer, Capt. Lewis wrote a wonderful description of the area and the different physical characteristics of the two rivers, one, the right hand fork, milky and turbulent, and the other, to the left, swift and clear. The Hidatsa Indians had told them that the Missouri River had a magnificent waterfall on it, which Lewis was sure was not far away. Discovering which of the two rivers had the waterfall would be the key to taking the correct fork. Though the officers were much better supplied with clothing than the enlisted men, they were beginning to adopt the more rugged and practical Indian style of garments. William Clark is depicted as wearing a war shirt that is now in the collection of the Peabody Museum at Harvard University and has often been identified as one collected by Clark. The fringing is of three different colors of human hair. He is also wearing a military style round hat with knee breeches. The beautiful fusil (smoothbore musket) he is carrying is an illustration of an original weapon passed down through the Clark family. It was later converted to percussion and now resides in the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis. Meriwether Lewis is also wearing a Northern Plains style war shirt. Beautifully quilled and decorated shirts such as this were often traded and given as gifts throughout the tribes of the north. Lewis was wearing just this type of shirt and his officer’s chapeau when he crested the continental divide a few weeks later. He mentioned using his espontoon frequently while in this area to turn over rocks and use as a rest to steady his rifle while hunting. A wine colored officer’s sash rounds out his appearance. By this time in the journey the enlisted men’s clothing was nearly depleted and many of the men were barefoot. They were to spend a number of days camped at the mouth of the Marias tanning hides and constructing shirts, moccasins and leggings. In this scene the men accompanying the two officers on the hillside show the results of the wear and tear of the journey in their clothing. An odd mix of military issue fatigue caps, battered round hats, a vest and tattered shirts has been augmented by crude and hastily tanned leather shirts constructed in the plains style. One of the Nine Young Men from Kentucky has managed to keep his coatee intact. These coatees were designed by Lewis and were of very high quality fabric and construction; they might have lasted longer than the cheaply made infantry coats. He and York are carrying model 1792 contract rifles, powder horns and hunting bags drawn from stores at the Harpers Ferry Arsenal. The other two regulars are armed with their model 1795 smoothbore muskets and cartridge boxes. The Corps had moved camp that morning, and the remnants of the tentage and the captain’s tipi are being set up on the point of land between the two rivers. The first hides are being staked out to be fleshed and scraped as supplies are unloaded from the pirogues. It was several days of hard travel before both rivers were investigated, and even then the men we
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Дата: 25.10.2010 | Теги: США, живопись, индейцы, Северная Америка | Добавил: Мэгги
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