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Camp Disappointment

by Christopher Herald 2 months ago in social commentary

the Lewis & Clark Expedition in rhyme

Camp Disappointment
Photo by Paolo Chiabrando on Unsplash

The year was 18 hundred 4

east of the Muddy in Camp Wood

Two men were sent on a mission

to survey the new neighborhood

Thomas Jefferson convinced congress

the future was looking out west

Manifest destiny was here

those two men would spearhead a quest

They traveled with a party then

men that could stand the fatigue

There was Meriweather Lewis

who was ready to lead this league

followed by Mister William Clark

slightly older at 33

who'd play forever second chair

on every historical marquee

The Corps of Northwestern Discovery

as the group had announced themselves

went up the Missouri river

and wound up on all our bookshelves

It was an odd time in our past

and this story comes with some torque

They started up with 45 men

along with Clark's slave named York

They road a 55 foot boat

twas built for the rugged terrain

as it helped advance their progress

of this most notable campaign

They traveled armed to the butt crack

and that 'odd time' best describes

to take on any on comers

or conquer indigenous tribes

They also left with offerings

and enough whiskey to suffice

It was ONLY 30 gallons

a bit “meager” to be precise

Our boy Clark was the friendly type

He was a ginger haired extrovert

who'd converse as the day is long

having HIS expertise couldn't hurt

Now Lewis was from Virginia

and behaved the opposite way

He was moody and withdrawn some

and both veterans back in the day

They both served in the Indian Wars

out on the Ohio frontier

it was a different era back then

racial hostility's would appear

Lewis conspired with the president

acting as his secretary

they knew each other as neighbors

and this wouldn't be arbitrary

The U.S. stopped at the river

Mississippi if THAT wasn't enough

The Louisiana Purchase

was unexplored and pretty rough

It was owned outright by the French

all the way to the Great Divide

No one knew of Rocky Mountains

something this voyage would provide

Napoleon sold his interest

for 11 million in cash

the intel was unclear at best

'tween twas legit and balderdash

They went looking for a corridor

to reach the opposite coastline

The rivers and each substantial stream

and then map it out on a design

Everything from elevation

measured upon reconnaissance

from men that can handle themselves

with very little convenience

They were looking for EVERYTHING

from climates to times of the year

animals and landmarks they'd pass

and write it all down nice and clear

Get acquainted with the natives

to whatever degree that they can

Use their own discretion of course

and that was the gist of their plan

Boils and dysentery

was a messed up hurdle to cross

It was blamed on the H 2 oh

and mud thicker than tartar sauce

The mosquitoes and ticks were bad

they encountered while passing through

George Drouillard was their hunter

and pretty good at his craft too

There was Reuben and Joseph Field

and John Coulter to drop some names

Lewis walked on shore a great deal

documenting their travel lanes

Clark was running cartography

and Joseph got bit by a snake

Lewis treated him with gunpowder

before deadly venoms could take

They met the Otos two months in

600 miles into their trip

The mouth of the Platte River

and gave some gifts for the courtship

Lewis addressed them as “children”

even though he was 29

and then he informed them that

the land you're standing on is “MINE”

He wasn't politically correct

in our modern way of thinking

but he told them to suck it up

and assimilate without blinking

I'm not gonna candy coat things

this is a dark side of history

but we should know it any way

which is the reason for my story

As they went on, two deserted

La Liberté a french waterman

That soldier they brought to justice

going as lenient as they can

La Liberté had prior knowledge

and would never be found again

He fled to go die with the Oto

at least that's what they'd explain

Charles Floyd's ruptured appendix took

the young man out of the running

He'd be the only fatality

in that 28 months; stunning

They'd buried him on top of a bluff

and left him the honors of war

by a river that bears his name

you really can't do THAT much more

In 1800 60 million

buffalo used to roam the plains

90 years later a few were left

and wasting away most remains

THEY would kill only what they'd eat

and felt great at the end of the night

morale was looking pretty high

and everything was working right

The Titon Soux were warriors

who patrolled the plains for the whites

who were not in the business of

giving these native folks their rights

One morning in late September

a tense 3 day ordeal broke out

near modern Pierre, South Dakota

outnumbered 10 to one turnout

Well, the expedition made their stand

and bought passage with tobacco

They made it by the skin of their teeth

leaving nervous in the afterglow

Then there was the Arikara

they came across in their bullboats

The brief encounter with this culture

left SOME with more anecdotes

Five stars for hospitality

when squaws were offered for the night

York (the freed) would horrify them

much to his very own delight

He spun tales of life before

“I was wild once upon a time

and used to consume the weaker

before my starring in THIS rhyme”

Mutinous expression was the

crime Private Newman engaged in

The Arikara bore witness to

all those lashes left on his skin

He was whipped 75 times

and the natives did not agree

It was rather barbaric

it was nothing they wanted to see

Winter hit hard in North Dakota

if you can believe THAT tall tale

1600 miles had elapsed

from when Lewis and Clark set sail

Six months into their expedition

and they'd have to wait out the snow

They'd build a camp for the winter

and meet the Mandan's before they go

So they set up camp near Bismarck

and took the brunt of the blizzard


Fellas, it doesn't take a wizard

The Missouri was frozen solid

and the natives needed their help

there was the Military as well

and winter was making them yelp

Big White the grand chief would approach

and tell that the buffalo was near

They needed all the hunters they could get

because survival was their only career

Lewis joined their hunting party

and returned to camp with success

11 men with freezer burn

but they did pitch in none the less

When they hunkered for the winter

they would celebrate New Years Eve

They'd party with the Mandan Tribe

and the men were all granted leave

February 11th came

and Lewis delivered a baby

Sacajawea at 16

was Toussaint Charbonneau's OLD lady

He would act as the translator

this French Canadian fur trapper

you'd consider someone handy

A real asset for a mapper

They'd learn that they'd require horses

to pass the Rocky Mountain range

and if it would interest them

Sacajawea could arrange

She was a Sashone native

whose people all lived at the foot

It took until the month of March

for the ice to finally kaput

The keelboat returned to Saint Louis

loaded up with indian trade

32 folks and a baby

on a course that's already laid

They continued west for the coast

two pirogues and 6 dugout boats

traversing through this beautiful land

and writing it all down in notes

Until they came upon a grizzly

6 approached this beast unperceived

All were really good hunters too

there were bullets that bad boy received

Then the bear stood up to ram them

as the men were running away

It took one last shot to kill

to everybody's dismay

They came to the Marias River

where they had a decision to make

They were caught off guard it would seem

They had to choose which one to take

It took 5 days to flip a coin

deciding to take the southern fork

Lewis ventured ahead by land

and William Clark would chill with York

They'd first lay eyes on the Rockies

and understood without a doubt

They'd need to pass before winter

Thank goodness they chose the right route

The came across Great Falls, Montana

and didn't understand the pitch

412 feet in 10 miles

a 31 day back breaking bitch

17 miles to lug the boats

until July 4th rolled around

with the Great Falls behind the team

they finally found level ground

This time Clark got out of the boat

in search of the Shashone tribe

They'd encountered no other nations

since Fort Mandan as they transcribe

They reach 3 Forks of the Missouri

which is not really all that far

It took the men 23 days

what takes two and a half hours by car

They were getting pretty desperate

without those guides to show them through

Fearing the worst for their success

and with nothing else left to do

They'd follow the most western route

the river called the Jefferson

In hopes it lead the right way

its course the lady's help had run

Sacajawea wasn't a map

but she'd point out a few landmarks

at Biba Head Rock Lewis got out

and their away team disembarks

They were looking for Shashone

or anybody with a horse

Clark was sick back on the boat

with York right by his side of course

Lewis spotted a native man

on horseback not wanting to talk

He ran away and lead them to

the Divide to all of their shock

Lemhi Pass and more mountains to go

and no idea just how far

They've come across Heaven and Hell

just to get where the heck they are

Two days would elapse before they

encountered the Sashone tribe

To guide them through the mountain range

and abandon how I describe

Sacajawea's own brother

was the Sashone's tribal chief

Things were finally looking up

it came as a much needed relief

There's a trail far up to the north

followed by the Naz Perce people

And the course is mighty treacherous

and can be a mighty big handful

Toby would be their tour guide

as their land expedition starts

They crossed the Bitterroot Mountains

where no game roams around those parts

They had a helluva struggle

9 days for 180 miles

Snow would start to fall all day long

just to add more to their trials

With nothing but berries to eat

they would have to slaughter a colt

They followed indigenous markers

through that trail they weren't able to bolt

They'd meet the Naz Perce Indians

down off the western facing edge

and met a chief called twisted hair

down from off that horrible ledge

Then they dug out some more canoes

to take them the rest of the way

The friendship sparked with these people

wasn't one that was destined to stay

Toby bowed out near the rapids

when he left the group high and dry

And as they passed their name sakes

Lewis and Clark were ready to die

They entered 'Clarkston,' Washington

and bought dog meat from the local tribe

This sickened Clark who went without

then he'd write it down to describe

On October 16 they had

reached the Columbia River

but they could not be less enthused

they were just pissed and lookin' to shiver

That's when the men started to notice

western culture starting to inject

items from trade scattered around

and some attitudes they'd reject

They'd have to portage through the Dells

to continue their adventure

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet”

The answer to THAT'S immature

The river became wider now

as the fog starts to settle in

The rains would come to welcome them

the Pacific Northwest strikes AGAIN

It took a week to cross Grays Bay

where it widens by 15 miles

It was enough to make them seasick

prolonging those awful trials

November 15th THEY blazed on through

making their famous appointment

With so much excitement in the end

They set up Camp Disappointment

social commentary

Christopher Herald

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