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Главная » Фотоальбом » Lewis & Clark Gallery » NORTHERN LIGHTS, Ft. Mandan November 6, 1804
Stumbling out of their tent after being awakened by the Sergeant of the Guard, William Clark and Meriwether Lewis stand awestruck below shifting curtains of light across the Northern sky. The early morning of November 6, 1804 was not the first time the men of the expedition had seen the aurora borealis but Clark described the scene in his journal entry of that day in much more detail than their earlier sighting. In this scene Lewis, Clark and the Sergeant of the Guard have stepped away from the lines of tents where they were living while the fort was being constructed to see more clearly above the tree line. Fort Mandan's first line of 'huts' had been erected and puncheons were being split from the local cottonwoods to form the ceilings of the men's quarters. Work on raising the second line of huts had just begun the morning of the borealis. Sergeant Ordway is wearing his surtout, a government issue overcoat of dark blue wool with two capes on the shoulders and a red collar and piping at the cuffs. Being on duty, he would have been under arms and wearing his Non Commissioned Officer's scarlet sash and short sword. The lantern he is carrying is tin with a pattern common to the era pierced through it's surface. Clark, arising from his tent and a sound sleep, has hastily thrown on a civilian style greatcoat. These heavy garments often had as many as eight capes sewn on the shoulders. These made the coat not only warmer, but helped repel rain. At this early date effective water resistant clothing had yet to be created. Lewis has thrown a coverlet over his shoulders to cut the nights chill. These coverlets, while commercially available, were also often woven in the home. The elaborate floral and geometric patterned coverlets which became immensely popular later in the century were not easily woven prior to the invention of the card loom so his coverlet is woven in a simple checked pattern. This common design was woven in wool using the overshot method. Both men have slipped on moccasins in their haste to observe this magnificent display of nature. The appearance of the Northern Lights were another sign that the furious pace of construction on the fort had to continue in order to beat the first snows of the fast approaching Northern plains winter.
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