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Index Inside the Corps The Native Americans The Archive Living History Into the Unknown Forum with Ken Burns Classroom Resources Related Products Interactive Trail Map Search Lewis and Clark navigation Introduction The Corps To Equip an Expedition Circa 1803 Lewis and Clark navigation
 

Private John Collins was born in Frederick County, Maryland. He was entered on the expedition’s muster roll, January l, 1804, transferring from an unlisted army unit. Collins was one of five chief hunters in the Corps, along with Colter, Drouillard, and the Field brothers. Hunting was no small job, as appetites were huge. Lewis would write, "[I]t requires 4 deer, an Elk and a deer, or one buffaloe, to supply us plentifully for 24 hours." But beyond that, hides were required for clothing and shelter, and specimens needed to be captured or killed to scientifically document the Western wildlife.

In late June 1804, after the Corps had traveled nearly 400 miles up the Missouri River to the mouth of the Kansas River, Collins was the subject of one of the first disciplinary trials held by Captain Clark. One evening, while on guard duty, Collins tapped a whiskey barrel and proceeded to get drunk with Private Hall. At dawn, they were placed under arrest and tried later that morning. Collins pleaded not guilty to the charge of “getting drunk on his post this morning out of whiskey put under his Charge as a Sentinel and for Suffering Hugh Hall to draw whiskey out of the Said Barrel intended for the party.” He was found guilty and sentenced to one hundred lashes on his bare back, which was carried out later that afternoon. Even so, Collins did not lose his service in the Corps; that afternoon he was back rowing the oars, suffering much pain for his misconduct.


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