Interactive Index

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Supplies Purchased from
Gillaspy & Strong, druggists,

by Israel Whelan for Meriwether Lewis,
Philadelphia, 26 May 1803
1

In the following list, an italicized figure in parentheses indicates the number of times a medicine was mentioned in the expedition's journals. Those that were never mentioned are indicated by an asterisk. Whalen's invoice lists 28 botanical and chemical medicaments purchased in Philadelphia. More may have been requisitioned at Forts Massac and Kaskaskia, or in St. Louis in the spring of 1804. Those may have included flowers of sulfur, which is not on Whelan's invoice but was mentioned several times by the journalists. That is also where the captains may have gotten Castile soap for cleansing wounds. Nowhere, however, are these items listed.

Of the original botanicals and chemicals, 12 were never mentioned in the journals. By no means should we infer they were never used, only that none of the journalists saw any point in documenting them. For instance, mercury ointment was mentioned only two or three times in the journals, but considering the number of cases of venereal disease that apparently afflicted the company, that salve would have been in high demand. We are told, too, that some of their medicinal supplies were ruined by water, but not which ones. After all, Lewis had not been instructed to keep track of that inventory. Nevertheless, we know that some medicines were still on hand at the end of the expedition, when Clark shipped a tin box of leftovers to Louisville from St. Louis.2

    Tin Canisters, 6
    8 ounce Ground Stoppered Bottles, 3
    4 ounce Tincture bottles, 5
    4-ounce Salt Mouth bottles, 6
    1 walnut chest
    1 pine chest


1. Adapted from Donald Jackson, ed., Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with Related Documents 1783-1854, 2nd ed. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978), 1:80-81.

2. Moulton, Journals, 8:419.