Sunday, March 8, 2020

Little Known Details of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

by Misty M. Beller

I'm excited to join the blogging team on the Heroes, Heroines, and History blog! My books are frontier westerns set in the Rocky Mountains during the 1800s, so I'll be sharing with you lots of fun historical details I learn through my research. I can't wait! 

My newest series follows much of the trail Lewis and Clark's expedition took across what would become Montana and into Idaho. I have to confess that I couldn't remember many details from when I learned about the expedition in school. As I began to research, I've been amazed at how fascinating their journey was. 

The expedition was known as the Corps of Discovery and consisted of 38 capable enlisted men, in addition to the leaders, Captains Merriweather Lewis and William Clark. I love what Captain Clark wrote in his journal on March 31, 1805: With such men, I feel every confidence necessary to insure success.

As I've read and re-read the journals of the captains and sergeants from those two adventurous years, I've been surprised by so many details. Here are a few of my favorite facts!

Only one person died throughout the entire journey
Sgt. Charles Floyd died of appendicitis on the westward trip in what is now Floyd’s Bluff, Iowa. Throughout the entire journey from St. Louis to the Oregon coast and back, over land no white man had ever trod, while meeting hundreds of Native American tribes, none of the party died through violent means. 
Sergeant Charles Floyd, photo by Benjamin Trott -

Sometimes talks with the Native Americans had to go through five different interpretations
Lewis and Clark hired two interpreters to travel with them, but speaking with the natives still wasn't easy. In one council with a Salish tribe (Nez Perce), the conversation had to flow from English to French to Hidatsa to Shoshone to Salish. Then back. 

Salish Village. Courtesy Northwestern University Library, Edward S. Curtis's 'The North American Indian': the Photographic Images.

Finding a water route to the Pacific Ocean was only one of the goals of the expedition
They were also tasked by President Jefferson with establishing peaceful relations between Native American tribes and their "Great White Father" back in the States, as well as classifying the flora and fauna of the new lands now owned by the United States through the Louisiana Purchase. 
Map showing lands that were part of the Louisiana Purchase in white. By William Morris. Wikimedia, Public Domain.

Those are just a few interesting tidbits I've learned, and I'll be sharing more in future posts. 

In the meantime, are you a history buff about the Lewis and Clark expedition? If so, share some facts we may not know! Or are you like I was, with only a vague memory of what the Corps of Discovery actually did? 


Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

Her latest release, Freedom in the Mountain Wind, is an epic journey along the path taken by the Lewis and Clark expedition—an epic journey through breathless landscapes and adventure so intense, lives will never be the same.

For a limited time, you can get one of Misty's bestselling novels free here:


  1. Welcome! I don't think I've ever heard of the Corps of Discovery before. Obviously know of Lewis and Clark, even I can remember those names, lol. Great post....that translation issue reminds me of the "telephone" game. At least I think that's what it's called...where you whisper something to a person and they repeat it down through a whole line?

  2. Misty I just love your books!! I live in South Sioux City, NE just across the Missouri River from where Sgt. Floyd died, Sioux City, IA has a monument in honor of him and there is an interpretive center about the Lewis and Clark Expedition (The Sioux City Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center it is almost 20,000-square-foot, private, non-profit cultural complex, built and sustained by Missouri River Historical Development, Inc. (MRHD).The Interpretive Center opened in 2002 to commemorate the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial.)

    Sioux City also has a monument in honor of War Eagle. Both monuments are on bluffs overlooking the Missouri River.