Lewis and Clark Supplies

Lewis and Clark Picture

Lewis and Clark Supplies: Goals of the Expedition
The choice of supplies for the great journey west was carefully considered by Meriwether Lewis, who started to prepare for the journey during the spring of 1803. President Thomas Jefferson had stated the main goals of the expedition and the supplies had to be chosen to help the explorers achieve the goals. The major objectives were:

To follow the Missouri River to it’s source and discover it’s tributaries
To create maps of the new territory gained in the Louisiana Purchase
To find a water route, 'Northwest Passage' to the Pacific Ocean
To undertake scientific tasks, documenting descriptions of newly discovered animals and plants
To learn about the climate, soil, and terrain of the new lands
To learn about the customs and culture of the Native American Indians

Lewis and Clark Supplies: Preparations
The preparations for the journey required Meriwether Lewis to learn as much as he could about astronomy, navigation and cartography (map making) and the scientific instruments that would help in this task. As the identification of new plants and animals was important he also learnt about botany and biology and ensure there were adequate supplies of writing materials. The welfare of the men was of prime importance so supplies regarding their comfort in respect of clothing, shelter, food and medicines had to be carefully considered. Their safety in the unknown, unmapped lands was also important so the choice and supplies of weapons was also of prime importance to the expedition. Finally Lewis had to consider supplies that would help him establish relations with the Native American Indian tribes the expedition might encounter on the journey.

List of Lewis and Clark Supplies: A Crucial Task
The following list of Lewis and Clark supplies give a 'flavor' of the provisions that were taken on the historic journey. Not only did Meriwether Lewis have to prepare a list of supplies he also had to consider the quantities of items, storage space on the keelboat and ease of transporting the items. Creating the list of supplies was a massive task and crucial to the success of the expedition.

List of Lewis and Clark Supplies
The list of Lewis and Clark supplies are categorized as follows

Food, Shelter, Tools and Camping Supplies
Clothing Supplies
Medical Supplies
Weapons and Arms
Scientific and Mathematical Instruments
Maps, Reference Books and Writing Materials
Gifts for Native American Indians

List of Lewis and Clark Supplies: Food, Shelter, Tools and Camping Supplies
10.5 Pounds (5 kilograms) of fishing hooks and fishing lines
12 Pounds (5.4 kilograms) of soap
193 Pounds (87.5 kilograms) of "portable soup" (a thick paste made by boiling down beef, eggs, and vegetables, to be used if no other food was available on the journey)
2 Dozen tablespoons
25 Hatchets
3 Bushels (106 liters) of salt
30 Steels for striking or making fire
6 Large needles
Iron corn mill
Mosquito curtains
Oilskin bags
150 Yards (140 meters) of cloth to be oiled and sewn into tents and sheets

List of Lewis and Clark Supplies: Clothing Supplies
15 Blankets
15 Frocks (Work Garments)
15 Pairs wool overalls
20 Coats
30 Stockings
Woolen pants
45 Flannel shirts

List of Lewis and Clark Supplies: Medical Supplies
1,100 Doses of emetic
1,300 Doses of physic
3,500 Doses of diaphoretic (sweat inducer)
Additional drugs
50 Dozen Dr. Rush's patented "Thunderclapper" pills

List of Lewis and Clark Supplies and Quantities: Weapons and Arms
1 Long-barreled air rifle
15 Gun slings
176 Pounds (80 kilograms) of gunpowder packed in 52 lead canisters
24 Large knives
420 Pounds (191 kilograms) of sheet lead for bullets
500 Rifle flints
Powder horns
15 Prototype Model 1803 muzzle-loading .54-caliber rifles "Kentucky Rifles"
15 Model 1795 Springfield” muskets

List of Lewis and Clark Supplies and Quantities: Scientific and Mathematical Instruments
1 Chronometer (needed to calculate longitude; at $250 it was the most expensive item)
1 Hadley's quadrant
1 Portable microscope
1 Set of plotting instruments
1 Tape measure
1 Telescope
2 Sextants
3 Thermometers
Hand compass
Surveyor's compass

List of Lewis and Clark Supplies and Quantities: Maps, Reference Books and Writing Materials
Antoine Simon's Le Page du Pratz's History of Louisiana
Barton's Elements of Botany
Dictionary (4-volume)
Map of the Great Bend of the Missouri River
Richard Kirwan's Elements of Mineralogy
Tables for finding longitude and latitude
A Practical Introduction to Spherics and Nautical Astronomy
Linnaeus (2-volume edition), the Latin classification of plants
The Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris
Writing paper, ink and crayons

List of Lewis and Clark Supplies and Quantities: Gifts for Native American Indians
10 Pounds (4.5 kilograms) of sewing thread
130 Rolls of tobacco
144 Small scissors
20 Pounds (9 kilograms) of assorted beads, mostly blue
288 Brass thimbles
288 Knives
4,600 Sewing needles
5 Pounds (2 kilograms) of small, white, glass beads
8 Brass kettles
Ear trinkets
Ivory combs
Silk ribbons
Tomahawks that doubled as pipes
Vermilion face paint
Yards of bright-colored cloth
12 Dozen pocket mirrors

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