Lewis and Clark Expedition packing list

The Lewis and Clark Packing List – What They Took With Them

Being a preparedness site, I thought it might be interesting to look at the Lewis and Clark packing list. Maybe we can learn a thing or two from it?

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

The categories within the Lewis and Clark packing list include Mathematical Instruments, Arms, Ammunition, Clothing, Camp Equipment, Provisions and Means of Subsistence, Indian Presents, Means of Transportation, Medicine, Materials to make Packs.

(original spelling & terminology),

Lewis and Clark 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…

More about the expedition: (Wikipedia)

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

I re-posted the Lewis and Clark packing list above because I was reminded of it when a recent comment here in the blog (from “SpiritOf76”) brought up a related subject of the Oregon Trail…and what these pioneers brought with them.

Some interesting, even perhaps useful stats on the early settlers and pioneers on the Oregon Trail.

It typically took 4-5 months, while walking 15-20 miles per day. ( Roughly 1200 calories/day walking across the prairie.

They were more concerned about having enough food than “ stuff “. If they had to get rid of some “ stuff “ in order to make room for more food, then they did.

The typical family of four had:
600 lbs. of flour
400 lbs. of bacon
400 lbs. of lard
100 lbs. of sugar
60 lbs. of coffee
4 lbs. of tea
Dried peaches and apples
Sacks of rice, also cornmeal, salt, vinegar, butter, and baking soda.

These food stuffs were supplemented with hunting and fishing.

They were often helped by, and traded with the Indians. At least until the buffalos started to disappear.

If you ever get out to the great west, check out the Immigrant Trail Interpretive Center outside Elko, NV on I-80.

Fascinating, to see those scant supplies and the kit they used to try and get across the great American Desert. ( If you look on Google earth, you can still see wagon ruts left by wagons in the desert soils).

They were some tough individuals.

~ Minerjim

Some absolutely tough individuals! And most, who were not small children or elderly adults, walked the trail because of a lack of room for them in the wagon due to the wagon being loaded.

Plus the hazards of the trail which included rattlesnakes, dysentery, animals and people lost to drowning when crossing a river, wagons breaking down ( they usually had some spare parts), not enough for the animals to eat, some froze to death because of getting stuck in the snow and ice in the mountains, etc.

Life long friendships were forged by them enduring the hardships together, and helping each other survive the Trail.

That’s what they were willing to endure for the American promise of FREEDOM and their own land.

~ SpiritOf76

[ Read: 1816 – Year Without A Summer – Massive Crop Failure, Food Shortages ]

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59 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…

    1. On the contrary, one death near present day Sioux City, Iowa thought to have been appendicitis. The individual who died was Sargent Charles Floyd and he died in June 1804.

  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… 😁

  12. great article Ken,
    this is a good list of things that everyone should have at home. ya never know, would rather not need it, but JIC.

  13. Sorry for the misprint, it was actually 1600 calories Barr minimum, instead of 1200, on the Oregon Trail.

  14. “Rhubarb powder acts as a simple and safe purgative, being regarded as one of the most valuable remedies we possess, effecting a brisk, healthy purge, without clogging the bowels and producing constipation, too often consequent upon the use of the more active purgatives.”

    Also in cooking. “You can use it as an ingredient in rubs or spice mixtures, or as you would a flavouring powder in baked goods, etc. It adds tart notes. “

  15. I was reading the comments and was surprised to see one of mine. I guess when a site is good you forget how long you have been checking it out. If i remember right the gun powder was kept in lead kegs that were emptied and then melted down and turned into musket balls. Very efficient, no extra containers to wasted space or weight.

  16. Im curious what they had to discard along the way, and exactly how many men and animals went along to carry it all.

  17. I looked it up, the brittanica said the entourage was 4 dozen men. That was a lot of stuff, think i will read more about the trip, interesting stuff

  18. Kulafarmer,
    i posted a link to view Louis and Clark’s journals but it may be in moderation.
    its a lot to read but very informative and inspirational.
    can you imagine making a trip like that, or Henry Morton Stanley or David Livingstone’s trek across Africa?
    those were true men. true explorer’s . and there are so many, many more just like them. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin always come to my mind.

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