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How important was whiskey on the expedition?

Stephen Ambrose
Stephen Ambrose

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You know, Napoleon said, whenever you set off on a march, make sure you’ve got plenty of beer and wine along and that it’s enough to last until you get far enough away from camp so that nobody can desert. And that’s basically what happened with Lewis and Clark. They brought enough whiskey along to get them through to the Great Falls. And then they ran out. Well that was way too late for anybody to desert. They measured out the whiskey, gave them about enough, a gill of whiskey, about four ounces, enough so that under today’s conditions you would be described as legally drunk by a, by a police officer if you were driving. Then they began to water that whiskey down to stretch it out. Every man in the expedition knew exactly how much whiskey was left. So when Pvt. Hall got into the whiskey barrel one night near present-day Kansas City, and then got himself drunk and was taking more than his share, they had a court martial, he was found guilty, and they ordered 100 lashes well laid on. And from the descriptions of the event, the Indian chief who saw this, an Otoe chief, just cried at the sight of this. They just beat the holy hell out of Hall for this, because that was their whiskey that he had stolen.
 

How did Lewis and Clark name things?

Dayton Duncan
Dayton Duncan

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In the, that summer, they’re going into places where they’re off the map, you know, and so every stream that they come across, every landscape that they come across, not only do they have to map, but they’ve got to come up with a name for it. So they would name it after every member of the expedition. There’s a, every member who went with Lewis and Clark had a creek or a hill or something named for them. Sacagawea, the dog named Seaman has a creek named for him. Everything had it. Then they started saying, well, maybe it’s something that happens there. They came across a river that was the color, Lewis said, of “tea with it has milk in it.” Milk River. They came across a creek that had just a tiny bit of water. Teapot Creek, ’cause it only had enough water to fill a teapot. They came across another creek that had nothing in it. Big Dry. Then they had a campsite where a buffalo bull came, emerged out of the Missouri River and rampaged around the camp until Lewis’s dog scared it off. Bull Creek. They came across a place where there were hundreds of buffalo carcasses with wolves feeding on it. That became Slaughter River. And finally they came to a river that Clark thought was a beautiful, bold stream. And so he named it after his girlfriend back in Virginia.
 


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Tell us about Lewis’ dog, Seaman.
Lewis brought along a Newfoundland dog. Why, no one, I don’t think, understands, but there it was. It was a big, big dog. It suffered mightily. You know, going up the river, the mosquitoes were always, you know, swarming around it. It would dive into the water and chase beaver. It would, it captured an antelope one time that was trying to cross the river. It did one time scare a buffalo bull out of the campsite that it sort of blundered into the, into the campsite. But he took it with him everywhere he went and it was a member of the expedition.
 


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But they never ate Seaman?
Lewis’ dog was spared, you know. He would have been a meal for the whole, for the whole group. He was, he was big enough. But he was spared.
 

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