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Potts was a German immigrant and a miller by trade. He joined the U.S. Army in 1800 and was serving in Tennessee when ordered to join the exploring party in November 1803. After the expedition, he became a member of Manuel Lisa’s fur trading venture in the upper Missouri River country. He was killed by Blackfeet Indians near the Three Forks in the same ambush that John Colter narrowly managed to escape.

See also The Lesser-Known Members of the Corps.