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Natural HistoryMammals - LargeAmerican Bison - Bos bisonBison in the Journals
Boundless Pasture
A Buffalo Jump
 

All in an Uproar

asleep in their camp under a new moon at the mouth of the Judith River, on the night of May 28, 1805, some of the men had a close call. Meriwether Lewis's journal entry the next day can scarcely capture the anxiety of the moment for them and, one supposes, for the bull.

Last night we were all allarmed by a large buffaloe Bull, which swam over from the opposite shore and coming along side of the white perogue, climbed over it to land, he then alarmed ran up the bank in full speed directly towards the fires, and was within 18 inches of the heads of some of the men who lay sleeping before the centinel could allarm him or make him change his course, still more alarmed, he now took his direction immediatley towards our lodge, passing between 4 fires and within a few inches of the heads of one range of the men as they yet lay sleeping, when he came near the tent, my dog saved us by causing him to change his course a second time, which he did by turning a little to the right, and was quickly out of sight, leaving us by this time all in an uproar with our guns in our hands, enquiring of each other the cause of the alarm, which after a few moments was explained by the centinel; we were happy to find no one hirt.

They did suffer some damage, though.

The next morning we found that the buffaloe in passing the perogue had trodden on a rifle, which belonged to Capt. Clark's black man, who had negligently left her in the perogue, the rifle was much bent, he had also broken the spindle, pivit, and shattered the stock of one of the bluntderbushes [blunderbusses: large-caliber, mounted guns] on board.

Lewis was nonetheless relieved.

with this damage I felt well content, happey indeed, that we had sustained no further injury.




--Joseph Mussulman, rev. 02/09

Boundless Pasture
A Buffalo Jump


 
From Discovering Lewis & Clark ®, http://www.lewis-clark.org © 1998-2014
by The Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation, Washburn, North Dakota.
Journal excerpts are from The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, edited by Gary E. Moulton
13 vols. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983-2001)