24. Rulo, Nebraska

Missouri River

View north, upstream

Aerial photo of Rulo Nebraska

© 2000 Airphoto—Jim Wark

High Ground

The Corps camped for the night of 11 July 1804 on "Newfound Island," opposite the mouth of the Big Nemaha ("miry water" in Oto) River, about six miles downstream (out of photo beyond bottom right) from today's Rulo, Nebraska (bottom center). The next morning the captains decided to take a day off from traveling, "to tak Some Observations and rest the men who are much fatigued."

After an early breakfast Clark and five of his men explored the Big Nemaha River about three miles up and climbed to the top of "a high artificial Noal"—an Indian burial site—to gain "an emence, extensive & pleasing prospect of the Countrey around." Clark noted, parenthetically, "The Indians of the Missouris Still Keep up the Custom of Burrying their dead on high ground." In the photo, contour plowing accentuates some of this "high ground" on the left side of the Missouri. On his way back to camp, Clark stopped at a rock. "I marked my name & day of the month near an Indian Mark or Image of animals & a boat," he noted. The rock has never been located.

At one in the afternoon the captains convened a court-martial to try Pvt. Alexander Hamilton Willard, charged by the sergeant of the guard with falling asleep on sentry duty the previous night. They might well have recognized Willard's dereliction as a symptom of the men's general state of fatigue, but it was a crime punishable by death under the Rules and Articles of War and a potential threat to the safety and security of the whole party. They had to make an example of Willard, so they sentenced him to receive one hundred lashes on his bare back, twenty-five at a time, at sunset on four successive evenings.


From Discovering Lewis & Clark from the Air
Photography by Jim Wark

Text by Joseph Mussulman
Reproduced by permission of Mountain Press