Lewis and Clark Expedition packing list
LESSONS FROM HISTORY

What Lewis & Clark Took With Them on the Expedition

Here is Meriwether Lewis’ packing list for his expedition (1804) :

( source: https://www.monticello.org/ )

Being a survival & preparedness site, I thought it might be interesting to look at this. Maybe we can learn a thing or two from it?

My opinion after the list…

(original spelling & terminology),

Lewis & Clark Expedition Packing List

Mathematical Instruments

1

Hadley’s Quadrant

1

Mariner’s Compas & 2 pole chain

1

Sett of plotting instruments

3

Thermometers

1

Cheap portable Microscope

1

Pocket Compass

1

brass Scale one foot in length

6

Magnetic needles in small straight silver or brass cases opening on the side with hinges.

1

Instrument for measuring made of tape with feet & inches mark’d on it,…

2

Hydrometers

1

Theodolite

1

Sett of planespheres

2

Artificial Horizons

1

Patent log

6

papers of Ink powder

4

Metal Pens brass or silver

1

Set of Small Slates & pencils

2

Creyons

Sealing wax one bundle

1

Miller’s edition of Lineus in 2 Vol:

Books

Maps

Charts

Blank Vocabularies

Writing paper

1

Pair large brass money scales with two setts of weights.

Arms & Accoutrements

15

Rifle

15

Powder Horns & pouches complete

15

Pairs of Bullet Moulds

15

do. (ditto) Of Wipers or Gun worms

15

Ball Screws

24

Pipe Tomahawks

24

large knives

Extra parts of Locks & tools for repairing arms

15

Gun Slings

500

best Flints


Ammunition

200

Lbs. Best rifle powder

400

lbs. Lead

Clothing

15

3 pt. Blankets

15

Watch Coats with Hoods & belts

15

Woolen Overalls

15

Rifle Frocks of waterproof Cloth if possible

30

Pairs of Socks or half Stockings

20

Fatigue Frocks or hinting shirts

30

Shirts of Strong linnen

30

yds. Common flannel.


Camp Equipage

6

Copper kettles (1 of 5 Gallons, 1 of 3, 2 of 2, & 2 of 1)

35

falling Axes.

4

Drawing Knives, short & strong

2

Augers of the patent kind.

1

Small permanent Vice

1

Hand Vice

36

Gimblets assorted

24

Files do. (ditto)

12

Chisels do. (ditto)

10

Nails do. (ditto)

2

Steel plate hand saws

2

Vials of Phosforus

1

do. (ditto) Of Phosforus made of allum & sugar

4

Groce fishing Hooks assorted

12

Bunches of Drum Line

2

Foot Adzes

12

Bunches of Small cord

2

Pick Axes

3

Coils of rope

2

Spades

12

Bunches Small fishing line assorted

1

lb. Turkey or Oil Stone

1

Iron Mill for Grinding Corn

20

yds. Oil linnen for wrapping & securing Articles

10

yds do. do. (ditto) Of thicker quality for covering and lining boxes. &c

40

yds Do. Do. (ditto) To form two half faced Tents or Shelters.

4

Tin blowing Trumpets

2

hand or spiral spring Steelyards

20

yds Strong Oznaburgs (strong cloth)

24

Iron Spoons

24

Pint Tin Cups (without handles)

30

Steels for striking or making fire

100

Flints for do. do. do. (ditto)

2

Frows

6

Saddlers large Needles

6

Do. (ditto) Large Awls

Muscatoe Curtains

2

patent chamber lamps & wicks

15

Oil Cloth Bags for securing provision

1

Sea Grass Hammock

Provisions and Means of Subsistence

150

lbs. Portable Soup.

3

bushels of Allum or Rock Salt

Spicies assorted

6

Kegs of 5 Gallons each making 30 Gallons of rectified pirits such as is used for the Indian trade

6

Kegs bound with iron Hoops


Indian Presents

5

lbs. White Wampum

5

lbs. White Glass Beads mostly small

20

lbs. Red Do. Do. (ditto) Assorted

5

lbs. Yellow or Orange Do. Do. (ditto) Assorted

30

Calico Shirts

12

Pieces of East India muslin Hanckerchiefs striped or check’d with brilliant Colours.

12

Red Silk Hanckerchiefs

144

Small cheap looking Glasses

100

Burning Glasses

4

Vials of Phosforus

288

Steels for striking fire

144

Small cheap Scizors

20

Pair large Do. (ditto)

12

Groces Needles Assorted No. 1 to 8 Common points

12

Groces Do. (ditto) Assorted with points for sewing leather

288

Common brass thimbles – part W. office

10

lbs. Sewing Thread assorted

24

Hanks Sewing Silk

8

lbs. Red Lead

2

lbs. Vermillion – at War Office

288

Knives Small such as are generally used for the Indian trade, with fix’d blades & handles inlaid with brass

36

Large knives

36

Pipe Tomahawks – at H. Ferry

12

lbs. Brass wire Assorted

12

lbs. Iron do. Do. (ditto) generally large

6

Belts of narrow Ribbons colours assorted

50

lbs. Spun Tobacco.

20

Small falling axes to be obtained in Tennessee

40

fish Griggs such as the Indians use with a single barbed point – at Harper’s ferry

3

Groce fishing Hooks assorted

3

Groce Mockerson awls assorted

50

lbs. Powder secured in a Keg covered with oil Cloth

24

Belts of Worsted feiret (woven wool tape) or Gartering Colours brilliant and Assorted

15

Sheets of Copper Cut into strips of an inch in width & a foot long

20

Sheets of Tin

12

lbs. Strips of Sheet iron 1 In. wide 1 foot long

1

Pc. Red Cloth second quality

1

Nest of 8 or 9 small copper kettles

100

Block-tin rings cheap kind ornamented with Colour’d Glass or Mock-Stone

2

Groces of brass Curtain Rings & sufficently large for the Finger

1

Groce Cast Iron Combs

18

Cheap brass Combs

24

Blankets.

12

Arm Bands Silver at War Office

12

Wrist do. do. Do. (ditto)

36

Ear Trinkets Do. Part do. (ditto)

6

Groces Drops of Do. Part Do. (ditto)

4

doz Rings for Fingers of do. (ditto)

4

Groces Broaches of do. (ditto)

12

Small Medals do. (ditto)

Means of Transportation

1

Keeled Boat light strong at least 60 feet in length her burthen equal to 8 Tons

1

Iron frame of Canoe 40 feet long

1

Large Wooden Canoe

12

Spikes for Setting-Poles

4

Boat Hooks & points Complete

2

Chains & Pad-Locks for confining the Boat & Canoes &c.

Medicine

15

lbs. Best powder’s Bark

10

lbs. Epsom or Glauber Salts

4

oz. Calomel

12

oz. Opium

_

oz. Tarter emetic

8

oz. Borax

4

oz. Powder’d Ipecacuana

8

oz. Powder Jalap

8

oz. Powdered Rhubarb

6

Best lancets

2

oz. White Vitriol

4

oz. Lacteaum Saturni

4

Pewter Penis syringes

1

Flour of Sulphur

3

Clyster pipes

4

oz. Turlingtons Balsam

2

lbs. Yellow Bascilicum

2

Sticks of Symple Diachylon

1

lb. Blistering Ointments

2

lbs. Nitre

2

lbs. Coperas


Materials for making up the Various Articles into portable Packs

30

Sheep skins taken off the Animal as perfectly whole aspossible, without being split on the belly as usual and dress’d only with lime to free them from the wool; or otherwise about the same quantity of Oil Cloth bags well painted

Raw hide for pack strings

Dress’d letter for Hoppus (knapsack)-Straps

Other packing

Lessons Learned From The Lewis & Clark List

From a preparedness standpoint, I enjoyed discovering the categories of what Lewis and Clark deemed important for their expedition.

INSTRUMENTS
Navigation, weighing, measuring, writing, reading

ARMS & AMMUNTION
Weapons, rifles, knives, powder & lead

CLOTHING
The basics. Wool and strong linens.

CAMP GEAR
Lots of Axes! (Need wood for fire). Plenty of cordage. Lots of flint (Fire!). Cooking gear. They had the 5 C’s of survivability covered pretty well within the entire list here (cutting, combustion, cover (shelter), cordage, container (cooking) ).

PROVISIONS/FOOD
Portable soup? (lots of that). Lots of salt. Lots of ‘rectified spirits’ (alcohol).
Soup-Salt-Booze…

INDIAN PRESENTS
Lots of stuff here! Barter. Make peace. Avoid getting scalped.

TRANSPORTATION
Boats and Canoes. Missouri River travel.

MEDICINE
How interesting to look at this list before the days of modern medicine. This was ‘modern’ for its day…

MATERIALS FOR PACKS
You couldn’t go down to Cabellas and buy 30 backpacks. You had to make them yourself…

What’s your takeaway from this list? Interesting?

More about the expedition: (Wikipedia)

More: 1816 – Year Without A Summer – Massive Crop Failure, Food Shortages

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48 Comments

  1. Wow, fascinating list. I always liked to see what was important to people back then. Lots of stuff on the list I don’t recognize. The medicine list is interesting.

  2. I Don’t know what half of that stuff is. I especially wonder what “blank vocabularies” are.

    So much stuff and hardly anything to eat. My pack would consist mostly of food.

    1. I searched Blank Vocabularies and it looks like they were blank worksheets.
      Maybe for taking notes on terrain and navigation to help on the return trip. Notes on the native tribes along their route.
      They relied on hunting, fishing and gathering for their food, as they couldn’t carry enough food with them for that length of journey for that many people.

    1. They had: 1 Keeled boat light strong at least 60 feet in length her burthen equal to 8 tons 1 Large Wooden canoe They also had horses, walked, climbed, and used pirogues. “Pirogues” is a French word meaning that they tied smaller canoes together to make a kind of raft. Their horses were certainly used as pack animals in the rough country, and for riding when they crossed the flat plains.

      Crossing the Continental Divide was a royal PITA for L&C. They had to drag the boats, using their horses, up and over some place in Idaho/Montana before picking up the Salmon River.

      Glad I missed that trip.

      1. And rowed/poled against the river flow until they portaged across the divide. Fought a few battles with natives. Hunting to supplement stores. Yep, quite the picnic.

    1. AlaskanGirl,

      Just what it sounds like. A syringe to inject a solution into the urethra. Venereal disease symptoms could be debilitating. Science of the time couldn’t cure VD, but some compounds could relieve symptoms if applied where it hurt.

      1. The “white vitriol” listed above the “penis syringe”, was one of the compounds used for this purpose.

        1. – “White Vitriol”, if I remember my chemistry correctly was a Mercury compound. Not really a good thing, IMHO.
          “Blank vocabularies”, would be a ledger or notebook in modern usage.
          The Airgun I mentioned the other day was not on this list as it was the property of the U.S. government then, as it is now. American Rifleman had a nice article and pictures of it a couple of years ago. I believe it is still in a museum in Washington.
          – Papa S.

          1. Thanks, Papa Smurf. I wondered if a blank vocabulary was something like that. Language has changed. I have a math book in my home library from 1838. It tells how to add and reduce vulgar fractions and solve promiscuous equations.

            Now we need to figure out why the list keeps saying “do. do. ditto”

            I wonder what they used powdered rhubarb for. I have a bunch of rhubarb growing in my yard. I would like to know what it could be used for (besides eating it, I mean.)

          2. Daisy, “do.” is shorthand for “ditto.” I’m guessing the person who transcribed the list for the website put the actual word in to avoid confusion.

          3. The L & C trails have been discovered by detecting mercury left in latrines as they traveled. It was a very common ingredient in their medications and perhaps the cause of one of them suffering from insanity and suicide years later.

        2. The ole penis syringe……
          Ya knew just from the name it wasn’t gonna be good thing….☢️

          1. I was imagining Austin Powers with a contraption that looked like a johnson sayin yea baby to that blonde in the spy who shaged me,,,,

          2. Lol
            VD
            Reminds me of the Georgia Satellite’s song
            “and keep your hands to yourself”

      2. Dennis & AlaskanGirl
        These syringes were still in use during WWII to the soldiers who were going out on leave, they had to stop at the orderlies’ office for their VD kit.

        1. opps—-correction not on “leave, but a pass”. I messed up! Leave is going home–leave is to the surrounds town.

    2. Alaskan Girl, my guess is for syphilis and any other maladies to cause a man problems. Mercury and Sulphur for the cure.

      1. Daisy, rhubarb is used for stomach and intestinal problems. Can also be a laxative. The leaves are high in oxalic acid and should not be eaten. Maybe ONLY is boiled many times, maybe!

        1. Mrs. USMCBG & Daisy K
          Had to look this up, it has vitamins that folks did not receive in their foods. Rhubarb has minerals & vitamins that the body requires, back during those times it was an easy way to stop scurvy.

    3. I am hoping it is just a description for the type of syringe and not for what the syringe is used on, or I would have taken a pass on that exploration opportunity.

  3. Quite a list , packing for the great unknown country . I just finished reading ,The Journals of Lewis & Clark, edited by Bernard DeVoto .It was a great read and a very interesting journey for them . I enjoy history and am fortunate to live on the route that they took .

  4. Good to know but times, danger levels due to populations, advancement of technology and medicine would cause supplies to be drastically adjusted.

  5. Amazing that 31 men were able to make such a trip in 2 years, WITH all that cargo, livestock (horses) boats and so on.
    Talk about some tough people….
    Wonder how many Semi-Trucks that would fill? God knows ya could not find men to do that sort of thing now-a-days.

  6. Of course it was a hard trip, but can you imagine being one of the first to see all of those natural wonders before the cities and tourists took over? That would attract me.

  7. A very good book on this trip is Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose. IMHO this is as much about mental toughness as it is about the physical. Something we all think we have. I hope we never truly have to find out. Wading in waist deep water pulling a heavy boat while keeping an eye out for possible attack. Knowing there is no backup outside your small group, now that is stress.

    1. Country – In many/most cases it was”waist deep ICE water. Haven’t you tried wading in a Rocky Mountain stream?

  8. Something tells me that these guys didn’t need a gym membership 😉
    Posting this list was a great idea, offering valuable insights as to necessities of survival, pre/post electricity and electronics. Revised as required in order to accommodate present conditions and circumstances.

  9. Shout back to Bluesman, get and read the Devoto book, just fascinating, will destroy some of your illusions about surviving in the wilderness. Another good book, under appreciated, is Frederick Law Olmsted’s A Journey Through Texas. Everybody always says that, after SHTF, we’ll revert back to 19th century living, this book is a close look at what everyday life was like in Texas around 1850. Not all that much fun, I’m thinking.

  10. The Lewis & Clark expedition also made their own salt when the supply they brought along ran out…

  11. They had a chance meeting with a Grizzly I am told…… Wonder how the firearms they brought dealt with it? I had also heard they were chased by the Grizzly.

    1. Is grizzly edible? Saw bears and all in “life below zero” show. What about the meat? Like beef or beef with nano bots? 😬

        1. Moonair,
          Bear normally tastes like gamey pork, very fatty. Grizzly probably the same. But it depends on what it has been eating. I am told that those bears you see on video eating all that salmon taste like fish. Bears that live in the trash dump, well….. taste like garbage.

          1. That makes sense ya minerJim. Was camping far from everything.. The first night, heard and saw things around the campsite. The next morning, saw that wild boar and behind it/her, some smaller boars.. (whatchamacallit..) a Thai said, let’s do the trap! Trap we did… 😁

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