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1804 Journal Entry Archives  December 4 - 11, 1804 
Building Fort Mandan

December 4, 1804

"The Black Cat and two young Chiefs Visit us and as usial stay all day  finish the main bastion*. "

 Clark documents the Mandan creation story; " the whole nation resided in one large village under ground near a subterraneous lake. a grape-vine extended its roots down to their habitation and gave them a view of the light. some of the most adventurous climbed up the vine and were delighted with the sight of the earth, which they found covered with buffalo and rich with every kind of fruits; returning with the grapes they had gathered, their countrymen were so pleased with the taste of them that the whole nation resolved to leave their dull residence for the charms of the upper region; men, women, and children ascended by means of the vine..."

 bastion*- Of the three Lewis and Clark forts, only Fort Mandan had a bastion.  It was a platform at the rear of the fort where a sentry stood guard.  Sentries were also posted at Wood River Camp and Fort Clatsop, but there does not seem to have been a bastion built at either of these places. 

December 5, 1804

"We were visited by several Indians with presents of pumpkins. in the eveing snow."

December 6, 1804

"the wind was violent from the north NW with some snow, at eight oClock AM the thermometer stood at ten degrees above 0".

December 7, 1804

" Big White Grand Chief of the 1st Village, came and informed us that a large Drove of Buffalow was near and his people was wating for us to join them in a chase Capt. Lewis took 15 men & went out joined the Indians, who were at the time he got up, Killing the Buffalow on Horseback with arrows which they done with great dexterity, his party killed 10 Buffalow, five of which we got to the fort".

December 8, 1804

In the early morning hours the thermometer stood at 12 below zero with a northwest wind. Another hunting day on the plains. The buffalo were in such great numbers that they darkened the prairies for miles. The hunters returned to Fort Mandan exhausted and frost-bitten: " this day being Cold Several men returned a little frost bit, one of them with his feet badly frost bit. Felt fatigued haveing run after the Buffalow all day in the Snow many places 18 inches deep".

December 9, 1804

 Lewis & Clark along with 18 men plus 4 horses head out to retrieve the buffalo meat that was killed yesterday and to kill more; " the wind this day is from the east, the thermometer at seven degrees above 0 and the sun shone clear".

December 10, 1804

 Clark who had gone out yesterday with 18 men to bring in the buffalo meat came in at twelve o'clock. He had spent the night on the snow with no covering but a small blanket & sheltered by the hides of the buffalo. A very cold day; " the thermometer today at 10 and 11 degrees below zero".

December 11, 1804

The remaining buffalo hunters return late in the evening & several were suffering from frostbite. " a verry Cold morning the thermometer at sunrise stood at 21 below 0 which is 53 below the freesing point and getting colder."

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