Jean Baptiste Charbonneau (Pomp)

Close Call at the Falls

hand-drawn historic map of the Great Falls and Portage Route

Of all the near-calamities the Corps of Discovery experienced, individually or collectively, none was more dire than the one that occurred on 29 June 1805 in a normally dry ravine on the south side of the Missouri River a short distance above the Great Fall. The principals were Charbonneau, Sacagawea, Jean Baptiste, York, and William Clark. Characteristically, Lewis's account of the gully-washer is more dramatic than Clark's own matter-of-fact report . . . .

Pomp's Bier Was a Bar

Sketch of Sacagawea trying to escape from a flash flood

Lewis writes: "the bier in which the woman carrys her child and all it's cloaths wer swept away as they lay at her feet she having time only to grasp her child." This bier, then, is a bar or net serving to keep mosquitos from one's personal blood supply . . . .

Cameahwait, Sacagawea, and Jean Baptiste

Sacajawea proudly showing her baby to her brother

One of the best-known episodes in the whole story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is the surprise reunion of the party's "interpretess," Sacagawea, with her brother, Cameahwait, the "Great Chief" of the Lemhi Shoshones. It was recorded briefly and matter-of-factly by Meriwether Lewis. In artist Michael Haynes's conception of a brief and tender moment, otherwise undocumented, the proud young mother smiles broadly as if to tease little Jean Baptiste into responding similarly toward his uncle.

My Boy Pomp, About That Name

Pomp, Sacagawea, and Clark disembark from dugout canoes at Pompey's Pillar

Clark begins: "You have been a long time with me and have conducted your Self in Such a manner as to gain my friendship . . . . As to your little Son (my boy Pomp), you well know my fondness for him and my anxiety to take and raise him as my own child." Clark repeats the offer he made verbally on August 17th . . . .