Capt. Lewis's Exploration of Louisianna
and the
Visit of the Osage Indian Nation to Washington

Taken From the 1804 Sprig of Liberty, Gettysburg, PA
Online Transcription by Nancy Piper for Genealogy Trails

Taken From the Sprig of Liberty, Gettysburg, PA
June 15, 1804

Captain Lewis, who has been sent by the President of the United States to explore Louisiana, was said to be at St. Louis on the Mississippi, the 5th ult., accompanied by twenty Indian chiefs, on his return to the city of Washington. The distance which Capt. Lewis has been in not known, but it is supposed he was prevented from proceeding by the nations of Indians to whom those chiefs belong, that are accompanying him to visit the President. Phil paper.

Taken From the Sprig of Liberty, Gettysburg, PA
June 29, 1804

Lexington, KY June 12

On Saturday evening last twelve chiefs deputed from the Osage Nation of Indians, and two boys, arrived in this town on their way to the city of Washington, on a visit to the President of the United States. It is said the object of their visit is to enter into a treaty with the United States, with whom they are desirous to be on friendly terms. Their towns are situated upwards of 500 miles up the Missouri, on the Osage river. The tribe consists of about 1500 warriors, who live in two settlements, at no great distance from each other. They are of a gigantic stature, being all (the men) above six feet in height, and well proportioned. They are represented as a ferocious people, who wish to be at war with all the other tribes of Indians. On their passage down the Missouri five of their party were killed by the Sacquiss and Renard tribes of Indians. Several others returned to St. Louis, having fallen sick.

Mr. Chouteau, a French gentleman of the first respectability, and a citizen of Louisiana, and who has for a number of years had the exclusive privilege of trading with the Osage has been induced by Captain Lewis to accompany them. There are also in company, several young French gentlemen, who intend applying to be admitted in the military academy.

The party left St. Louis the 17th ultimo, at which time Captain Lewis and Clark were there, and would leave it the 19th, on their tour to explore Louisiana. Three men who had for three years been hunting in that county, and whose knowledge of the different tribes of Indians extended a considerable distance, have been engaged to go with Captain Lewis as guides. Those hunters relate, that during their excursions they saw an Indian woman, who had been taken prisoner from a nation who lives on the shore of the Pacific ocean.

Mr. Chouteau carried with him to the President, a toad or frog, of a very curious species – its form is that of a land tortoise, very flat and covered with scales, of a dark gray color, short tail, and a head formed like that of a buffaloe, and is ornamented with six horns – it lived four months in the possession of Mr. Chouteau, without taking any other nourishment than a little water, which was given to it from time to time.

This species of frog is frequently found in the prairies without the territory of the Osage nation. They live in association with a species of groung squirrel and a species of snake. Those associations occupy an area of from one to two acres of ground – from the surface are a number of holes, which communicate with their subterranean habitations – it is kept from dust or grass by the squirrels, who brush it with their tails – they are of brown color, slender and very active. They frequently play among themselves, on the surface, keeping centinels. As soon as any person appears the watch gives a signal and they all instantly disappear. The snakes do not move until they perceive the object, themselves. The frogs being of a slow, indolent disposition, are easily taken.

Taken From the Sprig of Liberty, Gettysburg, PA
August 17 1804

The Pittsburg Gazette, gives the following extract of a letter from St. Louis, dated the 23rd of June "The last accounts from Capt. Lewis inform us, that he had progressed on his route throught the Indian Nations 275 miles from this place, and that they were all well."

Extracted from a letter from Washington to the editors of the American

"The Osage Indians who lately arrived in this city, were on Tuesday escorted by the President and federal officers of the general government to the navy yard, for the purpose of viewing the United States’ frigates, United States, Chesapeake, Adams and General Green, lying in the eastern branch. As they were strangers to any thing of the kind, it was expected , they would express a great degree of surprise at the sight of the large vessel of war; but it is a trait very extraordinary in these men not to seem surprised at any object, however great, which may meet their eye. Upon their arrival near the navy yard, they were met by the Italian band, and conducted towards the vessels, where a federal salute was fired. Immediately upon the discharge of the first gun, the signals and flags of the different nations agreeably to previous arrangements, were hoisted in a moment, but without exciting in them the least emotion, except an expression of satisfaction at this mark of distinction shown them.

They are much pleased with the attention paid to them by the government, and endeavor to evince it by a respectful demeanor, to the officers and citizens generally.They are stout, well-made men, and the "counted" very ferocious, have the appearance of being the most polished savages I have ever seen. You will be able to form a more correct idea of them, as they will shortly visit Baltimore and from thence proceed to Philadelphia, New York and perhaps Boston.

They have received their presents from the Government and are friendly disposed. In order to show their gratitude to the citizens of this place, for their polite attention, a circular piece of ground was enclosed yesterday afternoon, in which at the setting of the sun, they presented the inhabitants with a new species of entertainment.

THE WAR DANCE

Of this I can give no idea; therefore I will not attempt it. They were painted and dressed in their war habits. A numerous and respectable company were present, amounting it is supposed to nearly 3,000, among whom were the President of the United States, and many of the officers of the general government. The fight was novel, and of course gave general satisfaction.


July 23 - Balimore

The Osage chiefs with their king arrived yesterday from the seat of the government.


Baltimore, July 26

In return for the polite attentions shown by our citizens to the Osage Indians lately arrived here, they left last evening visited Mr. Leaman’s Garden of Illumination and presented to a splendid assemblage of between 1500 and 2000 spectators, their War Dance, in a profuse and varigated style. They were painted and dressed in proper character, and by the novelty of the entertainment afforded universal satisfaction. Among the brilliant company we observed the mayor of the city and several clergyman of different denominations and we learn with pleasure that the mayor has manifested towards our Indian friends an attention to please, as prompt as that experienced by them at the seat of the general government.


Philadelphia, July 31

On Saturday last, 14 chiefs and 2 boys of the Osage tribe of Indians arrived in this city from Baltimore. They are journeying to Boston by direction of the President "in order that they may be more fully impressed with correct notions of the physical force of our county."

These Indians were induced to visit the United States by the representation of Major Lewis, who is deputed by the President to explore Louisiana. Their tribe, though not numerous, are very martial and formidable to their neighbors. To render them friendly to us, and introduce them the arts of civilization, are offices both of policy and found patriotism.

Taken From the Sprig of Liberty, Gettysburg, PA
August 24, 1804

The Osage Indians mentioned in our last have arrived at New York, where it seems, they favored the citizens with a war dance, on a stage which was erected for that purpose. On the 14th instant, those chiefs received from a committee of the Missionary Society (principally distinguished clergymen) a bible, together with a address, informing them that this good book contained the will and the laws of the Great Spirit. The king assured the committee that the present was thankfully received and should be carefully preserved and conveyed to his nation: he seemed to regret that neither he nor his nation could read it, and begged that some good white man might be sent to instruct them; he said that his eyes were opened and he saw that we were a good people and hoped always to live in friendship with us.


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