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Private Reuben Field was born about 1772, and his brother, Private Joseph Field, about 1774, both in Culpepper County, Virginia. The brothers may have been known to Captain Lewis before their enlistment with him on August l, 1803, two of the earliest enlists of the expedition. Raised in Kentucky, both were among the notable “Nine young men from Kentucky.”

Both served the expedition as two of its most valuable men. They were excellent woodsmen and hunters, and usually accompanied one or the other of the captains in every duty of advance scouting requiring trust and dependability. Joseph was chosen to lead a small detachment during Clark’s Yellowstone River exploration (which occurred on the Corps’ return journey). Clark wrote on December 24, 1805, that Joseph, working on the construction of Fort Clatsop (Oregon), built writing desks for the captains out of rough-hewn boards. It was during long winter days at Fort Clatsop that the captains, on these rough, primitive desks, finalized much of documentation and cartography of the outbound journey.

The Field brothers, together with Drouillard, were with Captain Lewis’ side-exploration of the Marias River during the return journey in July 1806. They traveled north from the Great Falls of the Missouri to the Marias, then upstream northwesterly towards the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, within today’s Blackfeet Indian Reservation. It was on this excursion that the most northerly point of the entire mission was reached at what Lewis called “Camp Disappointment.” The next day, a skirmish took place with a party of Blackfeet Indians in which two Indians perished, the only Indian fatalities of the entire 8,000 mile round trip. The place of the confrontation is now known as the “Two Medicine River Fight Site.” Both Camp Disappointment and the Fight Site are near present day Cut Bank, Montana.

Upon completion of the mission, Lewis, in summarizing the worth of his exploring companions, wrote that Joseph and Reuben Field were: “Two of the most active and enterprising young men who accompanied us. It was their peculiar fate to have been engaged in all the most dangerous and difficult scenes of the voyage, in which they uniformly acquited themselves with much honor.” Both were discharged on October 10, 1806.


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