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Corps of Discovery

In 1803 the United States purchased from Spain what was later to be called The Louisiana Purchase. Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, formed the Corps of Discovery, in 1804, to establish trade and U.S. sovereignty over the native people along the Missouri River. 28 year old Captain Lewis had joint command with this friend 2nd LT. Clark in this peaceful military operation. They had five NCOs and 30 enlisted men. Lewis always called Clark, captain, so they would be respected by the men equally. Captain Clark oversaw the men and Captain Lewis collected plants and animals along their route. The Corps picked up a French trapper and his 15 year old Shoshone wife, as translators. The Corps had a 55' shallow-draft boat capable of carrying 12 tons of cargo as gifts and trading goods with the Indians they encountered. When the Corps was about to enter a large Indian settlement they would put on their class A uniforms, strike up the drums and fife and march into the Indian encampment with flags flying. They would pass out the goodies and give demonstrations of their fire power and marksmanship. Most Indians had seen both French and English trappers with muskets and were less than awed. For these Indians they would bring out their repeating air rifle. This was a rifle invented by gun maker Bartholomaus Girandoni of Vienna in 1870 and it never failed to impress any Indians. This air rifle was used by the Austrian Army against the French. The Germans called it the wind rifle. The wind rifle would fire between 30 and 40 45 cal. musket balls before it needed to be recharged. It had a high rate of fire, no smoke from propellants, a low muzzle report, and was lethal at 150 yards. The Indians were never shown the down side of this rifle: The Girandoni rifle came with a pump for recharging and took about 1,500 strokes and about 20 minutes to recharge to 800 psi. A modern Daisy Red Rider BB gun shoots at about 350 feet per second. A one **** modern pellet rifle shoots about 1,000 fps. The wind rifle shot about 500 fps and a spectator with a sharp eye could actually see the 45 cal. ball in flight. In the spring, after the first winter of the expedition, Sacagawea gave birth to a son, delivered by Capt. Lewis. The birth was hard and Capt. Lewis gave this young girl a mixture of ground rattlesnake rattle and water. He said the birth came within ten minutes of her drinking his medicine. Capt. Clark took a special interest in this child and called him Pomp, as a nickname. He watched out for this boy, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, his entire life. When the Corps got to Idaho Sacagawea proved her worth by helping the Corps to trade for Allaloosa horses with the Naz Perce. The Corps reached the Pacific, then turned and returned to St. Lewis in September 1806 without losing a man to accidents or hostile fire. Not all the Indian they met were peaceful and accommodating. The Teton Sioux scared them, but the worst they could find to say about the Sioux was that they could have two or more wives and might trade a wife for horses and supplies and that they didn't value chastity. It's a wonderment. Life is good.

Re: Corps of Discovery

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